Sunday, June 29, 2008

Character Name Generators

I usually spend a lot of time finding the perfect names for all my characters. But with JulNoWriMo only days away and only one of my characters named, I'm looking at some of the name generators on the internet. I figure even if the names are far from perfect, I can always rename during the rewrite.

Character Name Generator at Prairie Den

Fantasy Name Generator

Random Name Generator

Irish Name Generator

Name Generator for Different Ethnicities

If you need a Korean name, look here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Free Ideas for your WriMo Novel

Last year I wrote a blog post giving away some free ideas for NaNoWriMo novels. Here are some more, for NaNo or any other WriMo

1. An ordinary guy is leading an ordinary life. A literal angel appears to him, saying that God wants him to write down the events of the next year of his life. Said written record is going to be added to the canon of the Bible. Then, worldwide disasters happen. The angel/Bible aspects must be Christian, but extra points if the MC is an atheist, Wiccan or Druid.

2. The first openly gay candidate for President is almost sure to win election. But a reporter finds shocking evidence of the candidate's heterosexuality.

3. In the future, a school history class takes a field trip back into the past. Main Character is one of the students, who changes history. Will the change in history destroy the future--- or destroy the MC's chance of getting a decent grade?

My Free Tor Ebook --- and How You Can Get One

In a previous post I mentioned that Tor books is offering free ebooks to those who sign up on their web site.

My free ebook for the week arrived today--- Battlestar Galactica by Jeffrey A. Carver. It's available in PDF, HTML, and Mobi format. They also gave a link to the previous week's book, In the Midnight Hour by Patti O'Shea. Next week's book will be Flash by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

I read my ebooks on a Palm Zire 72 PDA, but others read them on Smartphones, iPhones and other devices, or on their home computer. Most of us already have Adobe Acrobat Reader, to let you read a PDF format ebook. You can get free Mobipocket software from the Mobipocket web site.

Why would a book company give away free ebooks? It's good for business. Visit the Baen Free Library to read their reasoning for their free ebook program, and to download some of their many free sci-fi and fantasy ebooks.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"You've All Read His Books...."

I just heard the phrase above on television. Which famous writer did it refer to--- Stephen King, James Patterson, Terry Prachett?

No. The author in question was St. Paul, who wrote such bestsellers as Epistle to the Romans, Epistle to the Galatians, and so on.

The phrase "You've all read his books" made it sound like the television promo was going to talk about some current popular writer. But when you think about it, it is a lot more true when that phrase is referring to St. Paul. A lot more people have read his stuff than Michael Crichton's.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Isolated and In Peril: Kathryn Mackel's Vanished

An author's first duty is to make life miserable for her characters, and in this month's CSFF blog tour book, Vanished by Kathryn Mackel, the author has certainly done her duty. Her poor characters have been subjected to a terrorist attack, and are now cut off from the outside world by a strange mist. Beyond the mist is---- something scary, I don't know what.....

This book has been compared to the television series 'Lost'. I've never seen 'Lost', though my stalker is evidently quite fond of the show. (Maybe the reason I never watched is that it's emotionally unhealthy to take recommendations from people who threaten your life and call you rude names....)

Another comparison is to Eric Flint's Ring of Fire series. In that story, a small town in West Virginia is uprooted and sent back in time to Germany in 1632. Those characters don't have a terrorist bomber on their hands, but they do wind up in the middle of a war zone. (If you would like to read the first 2 books in the Ring of Fire series for free, they are in Baen's Free Library in ebook form. They are: 1632 and 1633.

A third comparison which I found at Sci Fi Catholic is to Roy Rockwood's 'On a Torn-Away World'. Roy Rockwood was a pen name used by authors of boys' adventure books. 'On a Torn-Away World', published in 1913, is described thus:

Jack and Mark build an airship and head North, hoping to find a rare plant that grows only in Alaska. But a freak earthquake causes a chunk of the Earth, along with our protagonists, to fly into outer space.

ManyBooks.net, a source of free ebooks, has 'On a Torn-Away World' and other Roy Rockwood books.
Isolating the characters from their normal world and sources of help heightens the drama of the story. The characters will have to face challenges they've never faced in their ordinary, mundane lives. Will they rise to the challenge, or utterly freak out?

Questions:
What other novels and short stories isolate their characters in similar ways?
If you were writing a similar story, how would you isolate your characters?
Answer in a comment at the bottom of the post, please.
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CSFF blog tour must-post stuff:

Kathryn Mackel's Vanished at Amazon.com
Blog tour participants:
Brandon Barr Justin Boyer Jackie Castle CSFF Blog Tour Gene Curtis D. G. D. Davidson Jeff Draper April Erwin Karina Fabian Beth Goddard Andrea Graham Todd Michael Greene Katie Hart Christopher Hopper Joleen Howell Jason Joyner Carol Keen Mike Lynch Terri Main Margaret Shannon McNear Melissa Meeks Rebecca LuElla Miller John W. Otte Deena Peterson Rachelle Steve Rice Ashley Rutherford Mirtika or Mir's Here Chawna Schroeder Stuart Stockton Steve Trower Speculative Faith Linda Wichman Laura Williams Timothy Wise

Monday, June 23, 2008

Vanished by Kathryn Mackel

Vanished is book 1 of a new series by author Kathryn Mackel. The author, as well as many of the reviewers on Amazon.com, liken the book to the television series 'Lost'. The book's genre is described as 'adult supernatural suspense' on the CSFF blog tour web site

I haven't been able to afford the book yet, but from the reviews on Amazon.com, it's something I'm hoping to get soon. The story starts out with a terrorist bombing in a working-class neighbourhood in Massachusetts--- and then it gets weird. The community is cut off from the outside world by a strange mist. Beyond the mist is a terrifying alternate world. The people must put aside their differences and work to survive.
The book, being part of a series, does not wrap up the loose ends at the end of the story, and evidently some readers wanted more closure from it.

If this book sounds intriguing to you, buy the book--- and check out some of the blog tour participants on the list below, and see what others have to say about the book.

Vanished at Amazon.com

Vanished is not available in ebook form at any of the usual ebook stores, nor are other books by Kathryn Mackel.

Kathryn Mackel's web site
Kathryn Mackel's blog
Kathryn Mackel at Wikipedia

July's CSFF blog tour book is DragonLight by Donita Paul. It's available at Amazon.com in both print and Kindle ebook format. It's also available in ebook form at MobipocketPalm ebook store, Fictionwise eBooks, Books on Board (you can rate book and download a free Mobipocket format sample) and Memoware PDA bookstore

CSFF blog tour participants, click on names to visit their blogs:
An '*' means I have already visited the blog and they have something interesting/relevant up.

* Brandon Barr on multiple point-of-view fiction

Justin Boyer

* Jackie Castle relates things about author Kathryn Mackel I didn't know before

CSFF Blog Tour

Gene Curtis

* D. G. D. Davidson - contains a unique definition of what a 'Christian Chiller' is.

* Jeff Draper is Christian horror fiction possible?

April Erwin

Karina Fabian

Beth Goddard

Andrea Graham

* Todd Michael Greene I can't remember what I was going to say about this blog

Katie Hart

Christopher Hopper

* Joleen Howell good book review that gets to the heart of the story

Jason Joyner

Carol Keen

Mike Lynch

Terri Main

Margaret

Shannon McNear

Melissa Meeks

Rebecca LuElla Miller

* John W. Otte a nice book review

Deena Peterson

Rachelle

Steve Rice

Ashley Rutherford

Mirtika Mir's Here

Chawna Schroeder

Stuart Stockton

Steve Trower

Speculative Faith

Linda Wichman

Laura Williams

Timothy Wise


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Ticked-Off at Blogger

For months now, I haven't been able to use the 'Add and Arrange Page Elements' thing at Blogger. Very frustrating, because not only do I like to rearrange things on my blog, I also have a new blog--- or an old blog transferred from elsewhere--- to which I could not add a link list and other features I wanted.

Today a horrid thought occurred to me. I logged off my Firefox web browser, found my Internet Explorer, logged on to Blogger through it, and found that using IE, the 'Add and Arrange Page Elements' works just fine.

Insert swear-word here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Watch the Skies for Free Ebooks from Tor

I (heart) ebooks!

I first found out about ebooks when I bought a Palm Zire 72 PDA. I hadn't intended to use it for reading books, instead I wanted it because I would be able to work on writing in places other than my living room. But I found there were lots of free ebooks available--- many even worth the price.

I just found out that Tor books is having a free ebook promotion at their web site, under the title of 'Watch the Skies'. They want you to sign up, giving your name, email address, and zip code, and they will send you a link to a free ebook. Each week they will send you another free ebook link. I don't yet know what format the ebook is in; when I find out I will update this post.

Update: On TeleRead there is a post mentioning the Tor free ebooks, which says that the Mobipocket format is one of those available. (The Mobipocket format can be read on Palm devices, and also can be read on your PC.)

There are a number of reasons that I like ebooks. One is, I like gadgets, especially ones that remind me of the ones on Star Trek. Another is that I like the experience of reading a book on my Zire 72. It's as comfortable as reading a real book--- and when reading an ebook I'm less likely to skim-read past important details of the story. And perhaps the most important thing is that there are a number of worthwhile and/or interesting ebooks out there for free. As a person of low income, I like to be able to get a new book even in months when I can just barely pay the bills, and can't even leave the house much due to gasoline prices.

I will (probably) be writing a lot more about ebooks on this blog, telling about some of my favorite sites for ebooks and such, perhaps reviewing some of the free ebooks available.
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