The Flesheater

No, I’m not referring to zombies.

Flesheater Combat Knife
Photo courtesy of Jim Hammond’s website

I’m talking about this fierce looking combat knife called the Flesheater. It was designed by world renowned martial artist and retired USMC Master Sergeant AJ Advincula, and custom made by knife maker Jim Hammond.

It’s also the knife alpha gladiator Max uses in my sci-fi romance, Captive (Book #1 in the Survival Race Series). This 14 inch knife with its nine inch re-curve blade was designed for one thing, combat. And Max knows how to wield it in a fight.

I own this knife (though my husband mistakenly believes it’s his, but let’s not open up that can of worms) and train with it. Let me tell you, it is one serious weapon. You can cut a limb off with this thing! Don’t believe me? Watch the ten second video below.

Relax, no humans were hurt in the video. We simply took a rolled up tatami mat and soaked it in lake water (we were at karate camp at the time. Uh yeah, karate camp isn’t your typical camp, folks). This dense, waterlogged tatami is supposed to simulate the muscle of a human arm. I suppose if you wanted to simulate bone, you’d add a dowel to the center of the mat. Anyone can cut through tatami with a sword, but you need to have good technique with a short blade. Play the video clip and watch me hack off a limb what this awesome knife can do. *Warning* Don’t do this at home kids.

If Max could see me, I hope he’d be proud.

For specifics on the Flesheater knife, its history, and design, including the unique four grip handle, I encourage you to click over to Custom Knife Maker Jim Hammond’s website.

To see Max wielding the Flesheater combat knife, read Captive, and enjoy the adventure!

~K.M. Fawcett

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Exotic Settings for Stories – by guest blogger Sascha Illyvich

Torn to Pieces_USA Today bannerToday I’d like to welcome guest blogger and erotic romance author Sascha Illyvich to Attacking The Page.

What sort of settings do you like exploring in your romances?  Are you fond of the newly created worlds authors come up with, with new rules?  Or do you long for something paranormal to happen in the modern world with only slight changes to the game of life?

In Torn to Pieces, my USA TODAY Recommended Read from Sizzler Editions, I chose Albuquerque, NM as the base for the story.  My heroes are wolves and the heroine (it’s a ménage) is a witch who longs for free land to roam and play.

I spent a considerable amount of time there before writing the book and have actually used Albuquerque as a backdrop for several stories.  Most notably, Torn to Pieces, but also for an upcoming Secret Cravings Publishing release entitled Raining Kisses.  In fact, the loft Iolite lived in is the same loft Nicholaus lived in as I used the place I stayed in while on business there.

Things I like about Albuquerque, NM as a backdrop for books.

  1. It’s spacious.  Mountains, desert, a decent downtown scene
  2. The weather appeals to the supernatural curious in me
  3. I won’t lie, the bars downtown are pretty hip too LOL!

The thing about the bars has more to do with the fact that it’s got a party scene, so if I want to set spy stories there, or have characters who hide, it’s perfect.  I really enjoyed looking out on my balcony with a cigar in hand at the majestic mountains, and seeing some of America’s history at the same time.

Still, the snow in winter sucks LOL!

Where are some of the places you like to “visit” from books you’ve read?

Pick up Torn to Pieces on Amazon

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Thank you for joining us today Sascha!

Quick Dips To Celebrate Labor Day

Normally, I write about craft or karate when I blog. This week, I’d like to focus on entertaining, especially with Labor Day right around the corner : )

Here are two dips I make in no time and my friends and family LOVE THEM! So I thought I’d share them with you this week. Feel free to make them your own. I know once you do, you’ll go back to them time and time again. And don’t be surprised if your friends steal them from you too : )

ARTICHOKE DIP—

What you need: Two cans of artichoke hearts, 1 cup of parmesan cheese, mayonnaise.

Drain artichoke hearts and run under cold water. Cut up the artichokes into fine pieces. Place them into a casserole dish. Add mayonnaise to moisten. Add all of the parmesan cheese. Add more mayo ( I use lite mayo) until you have a creamy, dip. I sprinkle a little more parmesan cheese on top, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for five minutes.  Be careful when removing dish from microwave, it will be pipping hot!  Serve with crackers or tostitos dippers. YUMMMM.

CHILE/CHEESE DIP

What you need: 1 can of Hormel turkey chili with no beans, 1 package of cream cheese, 1 regular size bag of shredded cheddar cheese. You can use the non fat cream cheese and the fat free shredded cheddar cheese. No one will no better : )

In a casserole dish, spread the cream cheese on the bottom. Spoon in the can of turkey chili, top with the entire bag of shredded cheddar cheese, cover the casserole with plastic wrap and microwave for three – five minutes depending on your microwave. Be careful when removing it —- it will be HOT!

I serve this dip with tostitos dippers and crackers. I swear my family licks this casserole dish clean each and every time : )

I wish everyone a healthy, happy, Labor Day — Eat, drink and be merry and we’ll reconvene in September : )

All my best,

Cathy Tully

The Impact Of A Character’s Name

Every aspect of the story a writer creates, especially something as simple as the names of their characters, has an impact on the story they choose to tell.  A name can be a very important vehicle when mapping out a character’s personality. A name can help a writer show what kind of person their hero/heroine is, or hint at the character’s history or background.

In a contemporary romance if a heroine’s legal name is Margaret Mary O’Brien, the image of  a woman in a long flowing skirt on a hillside covered with flowers pops to mind. But when the fact that she calls herself Maggie is disclosed, a much less formal picture of her is imagined. If the writer goes a little further and puts her in a pair of worn jeans/cowboy boots and sit her on top of a horse, they’ve painted the picture of a women who can more than take care of herself. A strong heroine—-my favorite kind : )

There are other reasons besides personality that should be considered when choosing a character’s name. For one thing, a writer must make it easy for their reader to keep the character’s straight as they’re reading. For example, if a hero’s name is Chase, a writer should not name the heroine, Grace.

An unfamiliar name can make a character stand out, but be careful—it can also make the reader have to stop and say, is this the hero or heroine? If a writer chooses to spell the heroine’s name Jeramie, which spelled Jeremy is male, chances are the reader will be confused. Another way to confuse a reader is by using unisex names. Both Pat and Chris can be male or female. Simple mistakes like these could drive a reader crazy, or worse, make them stop reading your book altogether.

Here’s a rule of thumb– If a writer wants to give one of their character’s a “different” name, they should make sure their other character, hero/heroine, has a gender specific name, one that’s easy for the reader to remember. So, if a writer names their heroine, Brooklyn, then their hero should be a Bob or a Jack. P.S. Short names like Bob, Jack, Bill are good hero names because they’re short, and strong.

Keep the names chosen for your characters specific to the period the story takes place. In a historical novel, the name Brooklyn for a heroine is out of place, just as in a contemporary romance the name Winifred would be out of place. I think you know what I mean : )

One last note: when referring to a character in narrative, make sure to pick one name or nickname and use it throughout. If a writer refers to their hero as Luke, Dr. Lucas Martin, and sometimes as the professor, their reader will really be stumped.

I did this a lot when I started writing, especially in my first drafts.  I was so eager to get the story that was alive in my head down and on paper, I don’t pay attention to my character’s names. Then I’d have to go back and while reading make the changes. As time has passed, I no longer do this, but it’s an easy mistake to make.

One last thing, when writing dialogue this rule changes slightly. A store owner can call a hero, Mr. Martin, and his students may refer to him as the professor, while the  heroine calls him Luke.

Is choosing your character’s names something you spend a lot of time on? And if so, what affects your choices the most?

Best,

Cathy Tully

How a Broadway Production Changed my Opinion on Reviews

I used to get annoyed when I read book reviews, especially bad ones, that downgraded a book because of an issue with the seller or formatting. A recent experience changed my attitude.

My family and I went to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Phantom is one of my favorite productions. I love the music, the costuming, the setting. We arrived a half hour early and stood outside the theater for twenty or so minutes before the doors opened just ten minutes before the official start time. We’d been driving for an hour and a half, so the women in the party headed for  the rest room. In old theaters, the accommodations can be less than adequate. This was no exception. The line went out the door.  We rushed to find our seats only to find a line of people waiting for usher assistance.

When our turn came, the usher led us to an aisle and pointed in the vague directions. We started up the stairs to the balcony.

The lights went out.

The production had started with dozens of people still rushing to find their seats. Let me tell you, that place was DARK. The only light was a tiny little illumination on the stage. We were in the balcony, so that didn’t help. There was no way we could see our seats. We couldn’t even see our feet. The little ankle high emergency lights weren’t adequate for a staircase that steep. So we stood there, hoping for some assistance or a light or something.

Nothing came. The people in the seats next to the aisle complained we were in their way. So we carefully picked our way back down to the theater wings where the ushers were located, where a crowd of people were bunched in the little entryway. The ushers offered no help to anyone. We all stood there through the entire opening scene. Scene two was bright enough, and our eye had adjusted to the dim. We raced to the appropriate row and disturbed everyone in it. In fact, there were dozens of people all over the theater in the same situation. This was a tight old theater with about half of the room between rows as a modern airplane. A half-dozen people had to stand up so we could sidle our way to our seats.

Finally seated, I turned my attention to the stage. The production was well into the second scene. The kids had missed the opening and had no idea what was happening. I was irritated. Broadway tickets aren’t cheap. We’d all been anticipating the day only to feel let-down at the very  beginning.

Even though the music was lovely, the costuming gorgeous, and the set impressive, I didn’t enjoy much of the first half. It took a while to relax and focus on the stage.

This particular theater seats over 1600 people and was packed. Ten or fifteen minutes was not enough time to get that many people seated. The venue was built in the 1920s. I would like to think the theater management would know that. Or that they would care, but the overall attitude of the staff was very we sellout every show, so whatever. Phantom is magical, but the production lost some of its shine for me that day.

Anyway, the whole point of this post is that I discovered that things other than the story or the production CAN have a huge impact on enjoyment.  If a reader has a formatting or seller issue with my book, their irritation will bleed over into their overall impression like my issues with the poorly  managed theater affected my experience.

Dear Copyeditor

I’m truly sorry. Even though I know comma rules well, I am unable to apply them consistently throughout my manuscript. Compound words boggle my mind. I’ve used snow bank, snowbank, and snow-bank all in the same manuscript. Hell, I think I typed all three variations in one scene. I cannot for the life of me remember when to use a hyphen or where it goes. How can I line edit the same manuscript over and over yet still have so many typos?

You are so tactful and gentle when you point out totally lame errors like the misspelling of my own characters’ names. Or that time I changed a character’s name for just one chapter. Then there are the occasions that I forgot what my character was wearing or what he was doing in the middle of a scene. We won’t talk about the two characters in one book with the same name. <head desk>

I appreciate the fact that you take the time to reference grammatical rules in Chicago Manual of Style. You probably live in hope that someday, these rules will sink into the long term memory area of my brain and leave an imprint.

I hate to tell you, but that isn’t likely to happen.

By the time I meet my deadline, I’m well and truly fried. My eyes cross at the thought of  making one more pass through my book. In fact, please take you time with my edits. The time span between meeting my  deadline and receiving copyedits can’t be long enough.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for preventing me from looking like a complete dumbass. You are appreciated more than you will ever know.

Sincerely,

One Grateful Author

Elements of a Good Critique Partnership – A Repeat

Since I’m on the topic of Beta Readers, I thought I’d replay a post I did a while back about critique partners.

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I am very fortunate. I have an awesome critique partner. Melinda won’t hesitate to tell me when I’ve gotten it right, and at the same time she’ll tell me when I’m stinking up the page. I like to think I offer the same to her. What makes our partnership work? There are many factors involved in finding the right critique match, but here are just a few things that work for us.

First, and most important, is trust. Without that you’re finished before you start. You’re putting your work in your partner’s hands in the hopes of receiving honest feedback and help in improving not just your manuscript, but also your overall craft. Bottom line trust is vital.

Complimentary skill sets are a plus. Both Melinda and I bring something different to the table. Things that I tend to be completely escape my notice she’ll pick up on and vice versus.

Have a thick skin. Being in the publishing industry, you’re going to need one anyway. You’re going to need to be able to take constructive criticism whether it comes from your critique partner or your editor. On the other hand, a good critique partner won’t try and tear you down or make you feel bad about your work. A good critique partnership is about mutual respect and honest input.

Be honest with each other. When I send pages to Melinda, I’ll tell her to tear it to shreds. Why? First, because the only way I’ll improve the story and my skills is if I have someone combing through it with a critical eye. Second, I know that the dissection will be done thoughtfully and with respect. Third, because she may have suggestions that would never occurred to me.

You don’t have to write in the same genre, but it helps to be a familiar with the genre your partner writes. A critique partner who is not familiar with your genre may be able to offer suggestions on the basic technical skills of writing, but not the nuances of the genre.

Communication is key. If you don’t feel that you can offer a helpful critique you need to let your partner know. For example, I write M/M romance. I realize it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Before I started sending chapters to Melinda or before I send to a Beta reader I let them know up front the nature of the story. I never want to send someone something they are not comfortable reading. Also, if life has gotten crazy, you need to let your partner know what kind of turn around time you can give them.

Celebrate each other’s accomplishments and be supportive when disappointments happen. Your partner will most likely be the one you turn to when things happen along your publication journey. It’s nice to have someone one to support you who also understands what you’re going through.

These are just a few suggestions of what makes a good critique partner. Do you have any other to add to the list?

~Rayna

The End…But Not Really

The EndSomething really exciting happened for me recently. I got to The End of another book. Woohoo!! But as I’m sure my fellow authors out there know, getting to the end is just the beginning. There’s still a lot of work ahead. But before tackling edits, I like to have someone read the story. Generally, I pick someone who has never seen the story before because I like to get a fresh opinion.

I consider myself lucky because I have many writer friends that will be very critical beta readers.  But sometimes you get back those comments and you just want to go hide under the covers. When I got back my friends comments on this draft I had a minor freak out. It wasn’t because the comments weren’t expected, I sort of knew my trouble spots.  It was that I had no idea how to fix the issues, and I was dreadfully afraid I was going to have to star from scratch.

Have you ever been there? Maybe it’s because you’ve already spent too much time with the characters and their story. Maybe you’re just sick to death of your books, as I tend to be when I get to the end.  But whatever the reason, it’s like you’ve slammed into a wall and you just can’t see a way around it.

Some say take some time away and let it soak in. I’m not that patient of a person. I like knowing that I’m done and I’m free to move on to other things.  What worked for me to tear down that wall was hashing it out with my brilliant beta reader. With a fresh round of brainstorming I pulled that wall down brick by brick and found a solution to my story problems that was manageable.

 

Are You Up For The Challenge?

Want a fun way to increase your physical activity? Take my Survival Race Challenge. Don’t worry, you won’t have to fight to the death. All you need to do is run, walk, or hike in the month of August and record your mileage.

This is a great way to get together with friends and like-minded people and  encourage each other to exercise. Whether it’s for health, fitness, weight loss, or fun, I hope Captive’s kick-butt heroine, Addy Dawson, inspires you to get out there and move your body.

Logging your mileage in the Survival Race Challenge enters you into a raffle for a $25 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of my sci-fi romance novel Captive: Book 1 in the Survival Race series.

Though the overall goal is to achieve the most mileage you can personally, the raffle prize will be awarded to one lucky entrant regardless of total distance or time. The winner will be selected randomly on Sept 1st and announced on the site and contacted by email.

All you need to do to sign up is click on this link Survival Race Challenge and create a free account at Endomondo. You can log your mileage manually or use your favorite tracking device like Garmin, iPhone, Timex, Polar, etc…

If you’re up for the challenge (and up for the fun), I’ll see see you in the Survival Race!

Edited to Add: By the way…My hero is trying to survive a challenge of his own. He’s up against another gladiator in the Hero Showdown at The Window Seat on a Rainy Day‘s blog. Would love for you to click over to there and vote for Max. He’s giving the other guy a run for his money, but needs more help. Can he count on you to keep him alive for the next round or will this be his ultimortem?

~K.M. Fawcett

How Star Trek Helps Us with Showing Rather than Telling

Want to be able to show and not tell in your writing? Use the Holodeck! The following article on showing vs telling has been swiped from Kristen Lamb’s blog.

You’ve heard the advice show, don’t tell until you can’t stand to hear it anymore. Yet all writers still seem to struggle with it. I think one of the reasons is we lack a clear way of understanding the difference between showing and telling. And that’s where Star Trek comes in to save the day.

Showing happens when we let the reader experience things for themselves, through the perspective of the characters. Jeff Gerke, editor-in-chief at Marcher Lord Press, explains showing in one simple question: Can the camera see it?

Screen Shot 2013-03-01 at 8.15.46 AM

While I love that way of looking at it, we’d have to really say, can the camera see it, hear it, smell it, touch it, taste it, or think it? (And that would be a strange camera.) Because of that, I prefer to think about showing as being in a Star Trek holodeck.

Click here for the rest of the article…

How Star Trek Helps Us with Showing Rather than Telling.

~K.M Fawcett