Tag Archives: KM Fawcett

Going For The Groin

Erik and me on Tsuken Island (Okinawa – 2011) Click the picture to fully appreciate Erik’s expression. 🙂

A while ago, I had received an entry back from a writing contest. The judged submission included a scene where my hero and heroine were caged together to breed gladiators for the Survival Race–a blood sport where the last man alive wins. My hero was eager to mate. My heroine…not so much. In fact, Addy fended off Max’s advances with a knee to the groin.

Addy’s knee-jerk reaction (sorry bad pun) was quick and effective. I liked it. The judge didn’t. Her comment was that my heroine “wouldn’t have been able to knee the hero in the groin because men protect that area all too well.”

What! Was this judge serious?

Was she really suggesting that a woman shouldn’t target the groin? Ever? Apparently she has:

  • Never taken a self-defense class. I don’t know of a self-defense instructor who doesn’t teach how to strike the groin. It’s a great target for a woman to strike because it doesn’t require strength to cause debilitating pain thanks to sensitive nerve endings.
  • Never practiced a martial art. Not only do martial artists learn how to protect their groins, they learn countless ways in which to strike them too. Seriously, it’s almost an art in and of itself. You can strike it with your heel, the ball of your foot, a knee, a shin, a hip, a punch, an uppercut, a back fist, an elbow, a ridge hand, and a slap just to name a few. We haven’t even talked about weapons yet. Oh, and don’t forget the grab and squeeze! A Chinese woman actually killed a man earlier this year by squeezing his testicles.
  • Never heard of the no hitting below the belt rule in sports. Even in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), a fighting sport that lets you get away with a lot, doesn’t stand for that. I found 31 fouls in the rulebook on the UFC website. Number seven is no groin strikes of any kind.
  • Never heard of a protective cup. Again on the UFC website, the first piece of protective equipment required is a groin protector for the men. Not to mention companies insuring martial arts schools require them too.

If men “protect that area all too well” then why is it necessary to make safety rules, and hard plastic or steel shields? Hello! The reason is because you only need a small amount of pressure to create a lot of hurt. A finger flick can make a member sore.

Granted that the groin may not be the opportune target every time. Men can and do protect that area. But not always well enough, and not when they least expect it (the latter was the case in my scene). If they protected themselves 100% of the time, there wouldn’t be hours of footage on YouTube and America’s Funniest Home Videos with surprise hits to that most tender area.

Needless to say, I didn’t change that scene. It’s a good thing too, because my editor’s comment upon reading it was, “Good Girl. Ha!”

So what do you think? Do you agree with the judge or the editor? I love hearing from you. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

By the way, if you’re interested you can read this scene in my debut novel, CAPTIVE, available now for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. Captive releases electronically April 1st and in print April 2nd.

~K.M. Fawcett

Judge A Genre By Its Cover Results

On Monday’s blog we had a little fun with the cover of my debut novel, CAPTIVE. Thank you to all who have checked out my cover, and to all who have voted on its genre. In the past three days, we had 329 views and 41 votes. I don’t know what happened to the other 288 people. Either they were the same 41 people checking back to see how the poll was going, or they were reading Rayna’s Ten Fun Fact About Wonder Woman, which was the second most popular blog post since Monday. 🙂

This is how the 41 votes broke down:

  • Contemporary Romance   0 votes         0%
  • Futuristic Romance            6 votes       14.63%
  • Historical Romance          18 votes       43.9%
  • Paranormal Romance      10 votes       24.39%
  • Erotic Romance                  3 votes          7.32%
  • Romantic Suspense           4 votes          9.76%

I must admit I was a bit surprised at the results. But…before I tell you what the genre is, I have some other news I’m thrilled to share.

Melinda informed me that my book is up on Amazon! I am so excited. I nearly wept when I saw my title, name, and the pre-order button. I didn’t cry, though, because my kids would have thought I was crazier than I already am.

ME: I have an ISBN number! It’s official baby!!

KIDS: Uh, Mom, are you okay?

ME: And three “Likes.” Oh my god, three people “Like” me!

KIDS: Ooo-kay (said in that drawn out what-the-heck voice teens and pre-teens do so well.)

I didn’t tell the kids that one of the “Likes” was my own. Hey, if I don’t “Like” myself, then how can I expect anyone else to? 😉

The cover image isn’t available on Amazon yet (at least it wasn’t at the writing of this blog), but the page count is – which I find amusing. How do they know the final number of pages? I haven’t even received the second round of revisions yet. You can also read the book description. I’m not sure who writes those (editor? marketing? someone else?) but I loved it.

Hmm…I just noticed Amazon’s product description says the book is ranked #650,922 on the best sellers list. Geez…that’s a big freaking number. *shrugs*  Anyway, CAPTIVE will be available electronically on April 1, 2013 and in paperback on April 2. You can also find it online at Barnes and Noble. And it’s already on sale there.

Okay…so back to the topic of the blog post…What genre is this cover?

It obviously isn’t a contemporary. Everyone got that right. It’s not an erotic romance, although there are some steamy scenes. 😳 And it’s not a romantic suspense, although there is an escape and a chase.

If you haven’t already clicked through to read the book description, it may come as a surprise to you that the majority of the voters were incorrect. CAPTIVE: Book 1 in the Survival Race Series) is not an historical romance. Yes there is a broadsword in the story, and gladiators.

But… these gladiators are fighting to the death on an alien planet and gambled upon for sport.

The novel isn’t set in the future time-wise, but I think it would still technically be considered a futuristic romance because of the alien world. You could argue that futuristic falls under the umbrella of paranormal. Okay, lets say both are correct. If we combine the futuristic and paranormal votes, we get 16, which is 39.02%. That’s still less than the 43.9% of votes for historical. This means that nearly half the people picking up the book expecting knights in shining armor will be disappointed if they chose this book based on cover alone. It’s a good thing Amazon lets you read before you buy.

I wonder if I should have added another category to my poll. Fantasy Romance. Since there is a mix of past and future in the book. Perhaps that is the element the cover is most conveying? Would you have chosen that if it were an option? If you had bought the book thinking it was a fantasy, would you be disappointed? Hmm…

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please leave them in the comments section.

~K.M. Fawcett

Can You Judge A Book’s Genre By Its Cover?

I received my final cover art for my debut novel, CAPTIVE, due to be released electronically and in print by Grand Central publishing’s digital imprint, Forever Yours in April 2013. Yay! I love how the color scheme pops on the screen!

I don’t want to say much more about the cover art because I thought we’d have a little fun on Attacking The Page. Can you tell by the cover alone what genre this book is? Obviously by the sexy couple you’d know it’s a romance novel, but what romance sub-genre would you expect to read? (Hey, no peeking at my bio for hints.)

Here is my cover. Click on the image for a larger view.

Here is the poll – It’s my first poll, so I hope it works:

Poll closes at 9:00 pm EST on Wednesday 10/24/12. Don’t forget to visit again on Thursday to see if you guessed correctly. 🙂

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!

~K.M Fawcett

Strength Training Okinawa Style

Thank you to my husband and sensei, Scott Fawcett, for allowing me to reprint the following article he wrote for our dojo newsletter.

A chiishi in an Okinawan dojo – 2008

Chiishi are traditional Okinawan karate training tools which are used to strengthen and condition the muscles; especially the shoulders, forearms, wrists and grip. There are many variations of the chiishi with the most common being a concrete stone of varying weight on the end of a long wooden handle. The handle length can vary but is generally the length from the elbow to the fingertips and about 1-1/2″ in diameter. Chiishi drills can also be practiced from horse stance (Shiko-Dachi or Seiunchin-Dachi) and other stances to develop stronger legs.

Chiishi are believed to have originated from either a tool used to wind thread (around the handle) during the manufacture of Okinawan textiles or from grinding stones used in the preparation of food. Both were common tools that would have been easily available to a karate student looking for something to lift when conditioning. Similar tools have been used throughout Asia for thousands of years to build, strengthen and condition the body to ready the warrior for the rigors of combat.

Tokumura Sensei teaching Alex Choo to use the chiishi.

When visiting different dojo on Okinawa, we noticed that most had chiishi. In 2008, Tokumura Kensho Sensei showed us how to use the chiishi and explained that he works chiishi drills daily to keep his body strong. He added that these exercises have helped him maintain strength into his late 60’s.

I attempted my first batch of home made chiishi a few weeks back and was pleased with the result. I am doing some research and hoping to improve them when I make my next batch.

Mixing concrete to make the chiishi turned into father/son bonding time. 🙂  I hope the next batch they make are smaller so that I can use them. Concrete is heavy people! Thanks again Scott for allowing me to reprint your article.

So have any of you ever made a homemade training tool? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section!

~K.M. Fawcett

The Game of Characters

Yesterday my daughter came to me with a list of Disney Princess Movies she used to watch over and over when she was younger, and asked me to list my favorite princesses in the order I liked them. What my writer brain heard was, “Which heroines do I like the best and why?” When finished, we did the same for the men (the heroes).

It was a simple game we’ve played before, but then she took it further. “Let’s list the villains we like in order.” Now things were getting interesting. What makes a good villain?

Then she surprised me with wanting to list the sidekicks in order. Hmm…first we had to decide who the sidekicks were. Disney movies tend to have a bunch of them. For example in The Little Mermaid, Ariel has flounder, the seagull, and Sebastian the crab. This got us into a fun conversation about sidekick characters and mentor characters. After explaining what a mentor was, we decided that Flounder was Ariel’s friend-sidekick and Sebastian was her mentor-sidekick. In Cinderella, Jacques and Gus are Cinderella’s sidekicks while Fairy Godmother is her mentor.

This game was fun for a number of reasons. The writer in me enjoyed talking about what made good heroes, heroines, villains, and sidekicks. The mom in me enjoyed learning more about my daughter and why she liked certain characters over others.

I challenge you to play this game at home with your family. The catch is that you cannot simply list the characters. That’s too easy. You must discuss the reason WHY you chose one over another. You’ll learn more about each other, plus it’s a fun way to discuss something you love: characterization.

So who was my favorite Heroine? Well, there was a toss up between my two favorite heroines – Belle and Mulan. Belle from Beauty and the Beast is adventurous. She sacrifices herself to save her father (very heroic). She stands up to the beast (a pretty kick-butt thing to do). And she loves to read! Mulan is not a princess. She’s better. She’s the Hero of China. She pretends to be a man to save her elderly father from going to war (again heroic). She trains hard in the martial arts and fights the Huns (very kick-butt). She uses her wits to solve problems (smart heroines are awesome).

But there can only be one winner. I chose Belle because she loves books. 🙂

So who was last on my list? Snow White – a woman happy to cook and clean for seven men. Is she crazy? I can’t relate.

If you’d like to play this game in the comments section, these are the nine Disney “Princess” movies we used: Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Mulan, and Tangled.

~K.M. Fawcett

Warrior Dash

This past Saturday, my husband, my son and I ran the Warrior Dash in Morristown NJ. If you’ve never heard of the Warrior Dash, it’s a grueling 5K adventure race where you conquer obstacles, leap fire, and crawl through mud beneath barbed wire! Why would anyone risk life and limb doing such a crazy thing? Well first of all…it’s fun! But most importantly the event raises money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

My warriors and me. “Before” picture.
(Note: Son really was happy to be there. This is his warrior face.)

Wow what a crazy experience. The first part of the day was spent waiting 1½ hours to get on a bus from the parking lot to the race site a few miles away. There were tons of people there. The first wave of runners started at 9:00 and continued every ½ hour until 4:30. There were 6,960 competitors throughout the course of the day.

The running trail went up and down a mountain, the second mile wound its way through a muddy stream, and the last mile contained the majority of the obstacles like scaling walls, a lake to swim across, cargo nets to climb, fire, and sand and mud pits you had to crawl through beneath barbed wire. Yes it was real barbed wire. I know because I stopped to check at the first obstacle, plus a woman got her hair caught in a barb on the last obstacle and I helped her get it out. (clicking on the pictures enlarges them).

Scott running to the finish.

Gregory hurdling fire.

Me in the barbed wire mud pit. Mud is good for your skin, right?

While I was running and climbing ropes, I kept thinking of Max, my gladiator hero in my novel Captive: Book One of the Survival Race Series (coming 2013). He competes against other gladiators in a warrior race. However, not only do the contestants battle the terrain and obstacles, they have to battle ferocious beasts and each other. That’s right, in the Survival Race the last man alive wins. Thank goodness, we didn’t have to wield swords against our fellow warrior dashers on Saturday.

At the end of the race, water trucks were available for hosing off the competitors. You could drink beer and eat turkey legs (I’d been looking forward to a turkey leg days before the race), listen to loud music and have lots of fun watching the other tired and filthy people finish. There was a shoe pile for donating your shoes (if they stayed on). A friend of mine lost her shoe in the muddy stream and couldn’t find it again. She managed to find someone else’s sneaker and wound up finishing the race with two different shoes!

I’m very proud of my son; he did such a great job! And I am extremely proud of my husband who took 2nd in his age group. He was 27th overall out of 6,960 people!

My warriors and me. “After” picture

I’m sore, my knees are cut up and bruised (knee pads would have been good), and someone kicked me in the face going over a wall. It was a great time and can’t wait for the next one! I’m going for time at the next race. Who’s with me?

Have you ever competed in a Warrior Dash or similar challenge? What was your experience like?

~K.M. Fawcett

Writing Fight Scenes

I’m deep in edits right now so thought I’d share a post I wrote 2 years ago on writing fight scenes. Enjoy! I’ll let you know how the revisions go when they’re over.

A few weeks ago a writer friend asked me for some help with her fight scene. She gave me her chapter, minus the fight, so I could get an idea of what was happening in the story. The chapter was good, but I couldn’t help her with the scene just yet. I needed more information.

To begin with, I had to know what she wanted to accomplish with the fight. Did she want the hero to knock out the bad guy? Maim him? Kill him? What are the hero’s and the villain’s experience and skill as fighters? We’ve already learned from a previous post, Perfection of One’s Character, how important characterization is. Therefore, knowing the Hero’s background is key. A boxer fights differently than a karate man. A karate man fights differently than a grappler. A grappler fights differently from (insert your style of choice here). Do the characters have police or military or combat training? Know your characters!

I also wanted to know what kind of an exchange she wanted to have happen. A quick exchange of a few blows or an all out brawl? If she wanted to knock the guy out quietly, the hero might put the villain in a choke hold until he passes out. If she wanted a lot of action and movement, then she could choreograph a fight scene with punches, blocks, kicks and throws.

Was there a weapon involved? In this case there wasn’t, but remember in a fight anything can potentially become a weapon, even dirt in the eyes to blind the other guy, sticks, garden gnomes, you name it. Just because there is no obvious weapon like a gun or knife doesn’t mean you can’t improvise one. More on improvised weapons in this post.

What is the setting? Is it day or night? Are they indoors or out? What is the lighting? The weather? The terrain? Take all these things into consideration when planning your scene. If your characters are outside a home, they can throw each other into the side of the house, a tree, a car parked in the driveway, the rose bushes, a swing set. This is your chance to create an exciting and unique fight scene. Have fun with it.

Pay attention to the character’s distance from each other. If they are further away, they might use kicks (See Melinda’s post on different types of kicks). When in striking distance, they can punch and block and slug it out (See Melinda’s post on punches). If they are in very close, they can uppercut under the chin, into the neck, into the solar plexus, or into the groin. Maybe a character takes the other guy down and they start grappling (wrestling). Arm bars, locks or chokes can be used either on the ground or standing. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.

Just remember that a fight scene needs to be important to the story, not gratuitous. The fighting must be within character and believable. And if you aren’t sure something will work, get out of the chair, find a willing partner and experiment with your fight choreography together.

~KM Fawcett

The Uncarved Block

I’m in a philosophical mood today. The following excerpt comes from the book SIMPLE TAOISM –  A GUIDE TO LIVING IN BALANCE by C. Alexander Simpkins PH.D. and Annellen Simpkins PH.D. Give some thought as to how this relates to your attitude toward your writing, your karate, and your everyday living.  

Imagine for a moment that you are an accomplished woodworker. You look at an uncarved block of wood with a certain affection, knowing that here is uncreated potential. As an uncarved block it can be anything – the possibilities are infinite. No one can name it because it has not yet become something except what it is in its natural, untouched state, much like Tao.

The Taoists believe that we return to a state like the uncarved block of wood, we find Tao.

Human beings are often in a hurry to acquire the finished product, the carving. But once the item is produced the limitless Tao is lost. A carving of an object is only that one thing. It has a name. It has come into existence. Eventually it will become worn, broken or lost, going through its cycle of existence-nonexistence. But the original uncarved block is nameless, beyond definition, quietly open. The sage tries to be like an uncarved block, open to potential without being limited to one definition.            

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please leave a comment.

~K.M Fawcett

The Difference Between Men And Animals

“Do not forget that karate begins and ends with rei.”

This is the first of twenty principles passed down from the father of modern day karate, Gichin Funakoshi. Funakoshi brought his Okinawan martial art of self-defense to mainland Japan, which contributed to its introduction to the rest of the world.

If you’re wondering what karate has to do with the difference between men and animals, stick with me. You’ll soon understand, Grasshopper.

Rei means respect. Respect for others and respect for ourselves.

We demonstrate this respect in karate class every time we bow…onto the dojo floor, to our sensei (teacher), or to our workout partner. The bow is a sign of esteem, respect and courtesy. The bow signifies our willingness to learn and our appreciation for being taught. It assures our partner of our desire to work together to advance both our training; we are not facing off in combat.

Though anyone can go through the motions and bow when they are supposed to and at all the correct times, if they do not have a sincere heart, they do not possess true rei. As it states in The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate by Gichin Funakoshi, “True rei is the outward appearance of a respectful heart.”

In this book, Funakoshi guides us in the spiritual aspects of martial arts. Yes, contrary to what most American’s think, karate is much more than striking, punching, and kicking. Karate-do is a way of life. A philosophy. And these philosophies are not only meaningful in martial arts, but in our everyday lives. These principles encourage us to take a deeper look at ourselves, at how we live and how we treat those around us.

By now I’m sure you’ve made the connection between the title and the blog post.  Only man can show respect and courtesy. Funakoshi’s book states, “The difference between men and animals lies in Rei. Combat methods that lack rei are not martial arts but merely contemptible violence. Physical power without rei is no more than brute strength, and for human beings it is without value.

All martial arts begin and end with rei. Unless they are practiced with a feeling of reverence and respect, they are simply forms of violence. For this reason martial arts must maintain rei from beginning to end.”

I believe everything must maintain rei from beginning to end, whether its school, career, religion, relationships or time for fun. If we treated everyone and everything with reverence, respect, and courtesy, the world would be a much nicer and safer place to interact.

Are you living your life with true rei? Do you treat yourself and others with courtesy, esteem and respect? Do your characters? What changes can you make right now to demonstrate the rei in your heart? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

FOR FUN: What Spider-man quote relates this statement from The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate by Gichin Funakoshi? “The difference between men and animals lies in Rei.”

~K.M. Fawcett

Increasing Tension Through Personal Space

Like the cat in this picture, I’m sure at some time or another we’ve all experienced an invasion of our personal space – you know, that physical space immediately surrounding our body.

What about your characters? How do they feel when another character enters their personal space? The answer will depend on the relationship between the characters. A young child climbs into her grandmother’s lap for story time. A father holds his child’s hand or picks him up when walking together. A husband rubs his wife’s shoulders. A girl snuggles with her boyfriend while watching TV. In each of these examples, the other person doesn’t feel his or her personal space has been invaded because a familiar intimate relationship has already been established between the two people.

However, characters with a desire to create an intimate relationship won’t automatically cross this invisible barrier with the object of their affection. Like real people would, they slowly test the other person’s personal space and evaluate the response based on verbal and nonverbal cues (body language). For example, as the hero and heroine banter, she moves closer to him. He doesn’t back away. She takes this as a good sign and touches his arm. And so on…  You can create page-turning sexual tension as your characters figure out how to cross into the other person’s personal space. Your scene might start off with a gaze from across a crowed room (or something less cliched) and progress to “Leaning”.  For a definition of leaning, and a great example of increasing sexual tension by crossing into personal space, watch this clip from While You Were Sleeping.

But what if your character doesn’t want someone invading her personal space? Perhaps she is in a crowded elevator, subway or cafe? Many times it’s hard to maintain personal space in these situations. Most people try to give each other “personal space” by avoiding eye contact. But what if the other character doesn’t? What if the character maintains eye contact or moves into her personal space uninvited? Now we have a different kind of tension.

What will your character do when a drunken guy gets into her personal space in a bar? Hopefully she’ll tell him to back off while she physically steps back and raises her open hands up in front of her creating space between them. If he backs off, great. She can enjoy the rest of her night. If he steps into her personal space again, she knows this guy (the villain perhaps?) is not harmless. A nice palm heal to the nose might do the trick (which is the other reason her hands went up in front of her. It might appear as though she merely created space, but her weapons were ready if she needed to strike). Of course, the scene will be shaped by your characters’ personalities. Would she run away, strike him, call for help?  Would he chase her, block her strike and counter it, pull a knife or a gun?

Showing your characters’ interaction around and within each others’ personal space reveals character personality, establishes relationships, demonstrates intimacy or lack thereof, and increases tension – sexual or otherwise.

What else does personal space reveal to the reader? What are your favorite scenes (books or movies) that demonstrate crossing into personal space? Do you think about your character’s personal space and their reactions to someone getting too close?

~K.M. Fawcett