Friday, October 26, 2012

Author Interview--David Wilbanks

Good Friday,

Welcome to another author interview. This week we have David Wilbanks, and I will now turn the floor over to him.

-What book and/or experience made you want to be a writer?

While there's probably some stuff about a need to create or whatever, it mostly had to do with my desire to have a job I could do on my own schedule, from home, without putting pants on. I've done some freelance journalism, but all it took was one three-day forest service conference to convince me that expense account or not, that was way too boring.

-What genre(s) do you write?

Humor is pretty much my thing, but so far it's mostly science fiction. I can handle writing other genres, but I can't handle serious writing. I'm working on a silly mystery at the moment, and I recently tried out a humorous bit of erotica.

-What project are you working on now?

I'm submitting my novel Twin Suns (my thesis) but also trying to get the word count up a bit to open up some additional markets. I'm also working on the mystery I mentioned, which tells the story of the minor crime squad (minor as in not important, not juvenile). Aside from that I'm mostly revising short works to submit.


Here is the first short scene from chapter 1 of Twin Suns:

The Kepler-69 binary star system consisted of the two stars Kepler-69A and ScoobyRulz69, which had been named by a fourteen year-old boy who charged $14.95 to his mother’s credit card for that privilege. The fact that the two names included the same number was pure coincidence. To the humans who inhabited the solar system, they were simply, “the suns.” Following humanity’s tradition of coming up with incredibly obvious names, people had taken to calling the solar system as a whole Twin Suns.

Near the edge of that solar system, the USS Tranquility altered course for the first time in eight years. Automated thrusters activated, turning the ship 180 degrees so that its angled bow faced the precise point, formerly within Earth’s solar system, from which it had departed. Once this maneuver was complete, a small object shot from the center of the concave copper disk that covered the box-shaped stern. At a calculated distance, the small object detonated. The force of the nuclear explosion sent a slight shudder through the ship as it decelerated. Seconds later, another explosion hit the copper push plate, slowing it further.

Inside, the sound of every object in the ship simultaneously shifting with each blast echoed with a steady rhythm. The sound varied only in tone. The fighters and shuttle groaned in their brackets, while the bolted-down furniture creaked, trying to move beyond the bolts securing it to the deck. From all around the ship, this sound met with the high-pitched chime of smaller items floating in metal containers; everything from guns and bullets to forks and knives.

The cylindrical section between the bridge and the engine began to rotate slowly, giving the whole ship the appearance of an inelegant mini-van/cement mixer hybrid. The symphony ended with a final deafening note when the cylindrical midsection's spin reached its top speed, hurling every object toward the deck, its outer edge. The crew was unable to hear this rhythmic cacophony as they were each encapsulated and unconscious. The ship finally shuddered to a stop. The slight hum of electrical motors and the air-circulation system once again became audible. The hiss of the hibernation capsules opening in each of the crew quarters was followed by a recorded voice repeating over the ship-wide intercom.

“We have just arrived in the Twin Suns solar system. All hands are required to report to their immediate superior in thirty minutes. Welcome to Twin Suns.”

-For other aspiring writers, any tips?

Get help. Natural talent is great, up until you realize that lots of people have it. The difference is often in studying the craft (Seton Hill's MFA program is a great place to do that) and learning how to do all the non-artistic stuff like revising, copy-editing and submitting.

Even if you don't go to a school for fiction writing, pick up some books on writing, and find a way to coerce some people into critiquing your work (I'm eighty percent sure my girlfriend is only dating me for my critiquing skills).

-What’s your favorite book/genre to read?

Humor...not surprising I guess, but I do enjoy a fair amount of zombie-related stuff, some historical mysteries, serious science fiction and the dialogue in video games.

-What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?

That's a tough call. I'm rather fond of several of my poems. The one about tennis (as a metaphor for sex) gets good laughs. Life: A Complex Drinking Game is another good one. My favorite novel I've ever written is Twin Suns, and probably will be until I write another. In Twin Suns, I've got reptilian aliens who my characters call lizard dudes, and I really enjoyed writing from their perspective. My favorite scenes out of it are probably the ones written from the perspective of Steve the lizard dude.

Want more from David?

Visit him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter, and check out his blog.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Don't ya wish your novel was hot like mine?" Parody Lyrics for Writers

Good Wednesday,

It’s the second to last Wednesday of the month, which means it’s Parody Lyrics for Writers Wednesday.

This week I worked with “Don’t Cha” by the Pussycat Dolls. This project was born out of a rather random talk I had with a friend back during residency in June. I don’t even know how we got to this point in the conversation. I remember only turning to him and saying “Don’t cha wish your novel was hot like mine?” The rest, as they say, is history.

Follow along with the real song here.



Ooh baby (Ooh Baby)
Ladiesz, fellahhs are you readayy?
Let's write
(ouh baby)

I know you like it (I know you like it)
I know you do (I know you do)
That's why whenever I write stuff down
It’s a drug to you

And I know you want it (and I know you want it)
It's easy to see (it's easy to see)
And in the back of your mind
You know you should be writin’ like me
(ooh baby)

Don't you wish your novel was hot like mine
Don't you wish your novel was magnifique like mine
(don't ya, don't ya)
Don't you wish your novel was raw like mine
Don't you wish your novel was number one like mine
(don't ya, don't ya)

If you could read it (You couldn’t, you couldn’t)
Leave it alone (leave it alone)
Cause you’d fall in love
You’d have to buy it and then take it home

It’s keepin’ you awake (It’s keepin’ you awake)
You say I don’t play fair (you say I don’t play fair)
See I don't care (see I don't care)
And the ending you know I’m not gonna share

Don't you wish your novel was hot like mine
Don't you wish your novel was magnifique like mine
(don't ya, don't ya)
Don't you wish your novel was raw like mine (raw)
Don't you wish your novel was number one like mine (number one)
(don't ya, don't ya)

I know it’s on your mind
Readin’ it’s a good time
Front to end
It’s fun
And it’s mine
My name’s on
The title page, see it, you ain't blind

I know it’s on your mind
Readin’ it’s a good time
Front to end
It’s fun
And it’s mine
My name’s on
The title page, see it, you ain't blind

I know you love it (I know you love it)
So I understand (so I understand)
I'll probably be just as crazy, about yours
When it makes a best-sellin’ bang

Maybe next year (maybe next year)
Possibly (possibly)
Until then my book
You’ll have to read

Don't you wish your novel was hot like mine
Don't you wish your novel was magnifique like mine
(don't ya, don't ya)
Don't you wish your novel was raw like mine
Don't you wish your novel was number one like mine
(don't ya, don't ya)

Wednesday Word Tally

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls—The goal has been met!

Seven weeks ago, I set myself the task of getting my urban fantasy manuscript to 80k words by New Years.

To keep myself motivated, I began Wednesday Word Tally. I can’t stress enough how much this has kept me on task. Knowing that I was going to put my productivity out there for the world to see made me be more productive. I started the project with 19,358 words written. To finish by New Years, I calculated that I needed to write 531 words a day. The first few weeks, I averaged between 600 and 800 words a day. By this past week, my average was between 1500 and 2000 a day, and yesterday I ended my writing with 80,646 words. Check out the breakdown below.

DayStart CountWrittenFinal Count

Total Words Written: 13,664
Average Words Per Day: 1909

Game, set, match! The story is not yet complete, but it’s almost there. I’m in the middle of Chapter 26, and I estimate about 30 chapters total. We shall see if I’m right.

More importantly: setting a new goal.
I’ve been averaging between 10,000 and 14,000 words a week. I’m thinking that my final word count will be between 90k and 95k. I could conceivably do this in the next week if I petal to the metal. Next Wednesday is Halloween. Let’s see where I am then, and we’ll go from there. My goal is to write 10k words between now and then. That’s roughly 1428 words a day.

On my mark…
Get set…
And I’m off!

Monday, October 22, 2012

"Wicked Appetite" for another Janet Evanovich Read

Good Monday,

I was exceptionally productive with my 531-words-a-day project yesterday. (For details, see any of my Writer’s Wednesday posts for about the last month and a half). So I treated myself to reading a book by one of my beloved authors—Janet Evanovich.

What does she write? Originally romance, but that’s not what drew me to her. For my mystery readings in the genre class last semester, one of the books we read was Evanovich’s “Hard Eight,” the eighth book in her Stephanie Plum novels series. I found Stephanie to be fun, witty, and a joyful read. In short, I took the next week (completely ignoring the next book for class until I absolutely had to pick it up) to read the previous seven and following ten Stephanie Plum books. They are a fun, first-person read.

After I finished those, I picked up the side novels to the main series. This set of books still featured Stephanie as the POV char, but added a new man to her life (as if she needed one. She has two already), Diesel.

Diesel is an unmentionable (aka someone with registered supernatural abilities), who uses said abilities to hunt down other unmentionables who use their gifts for harm. Each of the side books centers around a holiday (Christmas, Valentine's Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving respectively) and features the same charm that is prevalent in all of the main series books. I haven’t had a chance yet but am looking forward to picking up number 19 in the Plum novels “Notorious Nineteen”

Today is about a new project from Evanovich. Well, new might not be the right word, but it’s newer. Last night, I finished “Wicked Appetite,” the first in a series that stars Diesel and a blonde pastry chef from Salem, MA (Lizzy Tucker). After an encounter with Diesel’s cousin and enemy—Gerwulf Grimoire (Wulf), Lizzy bumps (literally) into Diesel. He pulls her aside and explains that she’s an unmentionable who can sense unmentionable objects—one of only two in fact. Lizzy responds with a proper amount of skepticism but eventually gets swept up into Diesel’s agenda. Working together and with the “help” of a nearly-human monkey (Carl) and Lizzy’s spell book-obsessed co-worker, Glo, Lizzy and Diesel manage to track down Wulf and the Gluttony Stone (the vessel for the properly named deadly sin).

Diesel was as I remembered him from the Plum side books. Lizzy—I’d been nervous before starting that I’d find a Stephanie clone. My mother is a die-hard David Eddings fan. I enjoyed his “Belgariad” and “Mallorian” as well. Mom, though, couldn’t get passed them. She would start reading others of Eddings' works and find clones of the “Belgariad” and “Mallorian” characters. That has always been a fear of mine when picking up a different series by an author I already love. I desperately do not want to find the same characters with different names between the new book’s pages.

I didn’t have this experience with “Wicked Appetite” with the obvious exception of Diesel. Lizzy is her own person. She starts to sound a bit like Stephanie when taken by the food charm (a sub-portion of the Gluttony stone), but Stephanie thinks about food a lot. It works. Lizzy is unique in terms of her employment too. Stephanie works for her cousin as a bonds agent and does a shoddy job at the best of times. It’s part of what makes her and the situations she ends up in so funny. Lizzy, by contrast, is a wiz at baking and makes killer cupcakes.

Plot and concept—I love it. One of my author friends at Seton Hill mentioned a project that involves seven deadly sin representations. If she ever gets around to writing it and it gets published, I’m so there. I love alternate interpretations of religious concepts. That’s the reason I enjoyed Cassandra Clair’s shadowhunters so much. It’s also why I liked “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman. So Lizzy and Diesel’s hunt is a natural fit for me. It puts a new twist on something very old and makes it into a paranormal mystery. I’m starting “Wicked Business” tonight.

Hats off, Janet Evanovich. Thank you for more awesome reading material.

Also (and this goes for me) I have a soft spot for anything that’s set close to home. I grew up and lived (until about six months ago) one city over from Salem.

Writer’s Lockbox

What can be taken away from “Wicked Appetite?”

-Generally speaking, when starting a new series that bares semblance to an already written series, be careful to make characters unique.

-Putting a new spin on something very old, mystical, or religious makes for fascinating stories. Granted, with the right audience, but given how popular a lot of books that have done that have become, it looks like a safe option if done right and well.

-Be consistent. Diesel appears with Stephanie and then with Lizzy. He’s easily recognized in both series. The lesson is to keep a given character true even when switching up everything around him/her.

See you out of the box,