Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Talk to your characters...

OK, just have to get this off my chest.

I admit it.

I talk to my SciFi series characters, Jake and Arlo.

The cool part is that they talk back. ;-)

No, I can't hear them, folks, I'm not that far gone. (Yet).

It didn't start out they way, and it doesn't always work, but most of time I set them in motion and watch the fun.

I talk to them while I'm writing a scene and then just let my imagination guide my fingers. I type out a scene in simple bullets. Then I go back and fill in the bullets with dialogue and 'color'. I keep adding bullets and filling in the gaps with character movements, dialogue and adding environment and action.

There's also a lot of 'nah, that's stupid' and rewriting but that's OK.

But it really is a cooperative effort. As Arlo and Jake 'grew up' in book one, it became easier and easier to just let them work things out on their own. I'm on book four and it's a more fun than I can describe to you.

Jake has a lot of me in his persona. I intended that way. I spent 9 years in the nuclear Navy, mostly on fast attack subs and shipyards, though I spent time in Idaho as an instructor. Yes. Idaho. I trained students to operate nuclear/steam power plants on the submarine prototype for the Nautilus, the first nuc sub. Weird, right?! Then I've spent the next forty years as a software developer.

Jake's back story has a lot of me in it. You're supposed to write about things you know or have experienced. Honestly, that part has been a lot of fun. I've taken lots of experiences I had in the Navy and in the software biz and molded them into situations in the 'Arlo and Jake' series.

And that's helped my characters 'talk' to me. I can play the scene in my head and on paper and then think back on times in the service or in the code mines that are similar.

We said and did some really outrageous things back when I first entered the Navy. We were young and stupid, that's the gist of it. Invulnerable and incredibly cocky. Stupid. But every 19 year old is stupid. You don't know squat at 19. The world is new and clean and just waiting for you to discover everything. What could possibly go wrong? Ah, that'll never happen, let's go for it!


I use those feelings to get Jake and Arlo to be stupid and brave. Fearless and instinctive. Awestruck at the new Universe they've been plopped into. It flows really well if I just get out of the way when I'm writing.

Arlo is the easiest to write. I can sum up Arlo in one word. 'Snarky'. I LOVE that word. A bit of know it all. A bit of swagger (for a chameleon ;-) and sauce. Arlo's got your back and he's going to never let you forget it. He's the first one with a plan and the first one with a gnarly, smart ass comeback.

The other characters talk to me in the same way. I set them up, wind them up and stand back to watch the chaos ensue.

How about you?

How do you deal with reticent characters?

I hope you have as much fun with it that I do.

Be Cool.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The hardest part about being an indie/novice writer is all the promoting. Yeah, that's right. The promoting is tons harder than outlining, researching, 'tinking about plot arcs and dialogue, writing, rewriting, throwing away and starting over, rewriting, cover art, formatting, rewriting, obsessing over a sentence or even a word until you want to rip the words out of your skull! Sheeew.

But promoting stinks.

It's embarrassing to have to shout 'Hey, buy my books, they're really, really good' through the Cyberverse on Twitter, Facebook and of course writing blogs.

But unless you have an instant hit (no I have not) or an agent, what else can you do?

So here are a couple of things I've learned. I hope they help you.

First: Relax. Don't stress out every minute of the day worrying about your next sale. I've done that and it doesn't help at all. Checking your Amazon or Barnes and Noble account every hour will not make sales magically appear.

Instead give yourself a schedule. Say once a day, maybe before you start working on your next story or after dinner. And stick to it. Don't sneak a peek just this once. It will spiral into checking it every chance you get. Discipline, grasshopper. Control yourself. Make it a habit. Once a day.

Second: Keep writing. The best way to get a readership is to give them more of your stories. The more you give, the more you'll get. Simple rule, but it's very true. Keep writing and publishing. You'll get more reader and you'll get better at writing.

Third: Let yourself enjoy the thrill of writing for it's own sake. You love it, or you shouldn't be doing it. It gives you joy. Let it. Nothing else I've ever done is as rewarding as writing a book. Following my characters as they jump and jive to my imaginary music is damn exciting and FUN!

Fourth: Tweet about your book, sure. But Tweet to other indie writers and check on their progress. Let them know you're interested in their stories. Tell them when you're stuck and help them out when they are. Twitter is for dialogue and friendship. I overdid (probably still overdo) it using Twitter as a sales platform. Promote your indie writer's books. Discuss good books you've read. Discuss terrible books you're read. Discuss why. Get involved and be friendly.

Fifth: Make Facebook page for you writing. Promote it. Keep it up to date. I think this is the best avenue for self-promoting your work. You can put so much more into a blog post or a Facebook post than a tweet. Show off your covers, invite discussions.

Sixth: Go find other sharing medias to explore.

But most of all, have fun. Explore and conquer my friends!

Be Happy

Be Cool

Just Be!

Monday, April 25, 2016

'Walk with Me' has been pub'd! Whoo Hoo!

That's right, my friends, I finally finished my latest work of art.. er.. book, 'Walk with Me'! ;-)

You can go to and search for 'gary alan henson' to find that book and my other books.

Sorry it took so long, but life is a challenge for all of us sometimes.

I hope you try it and enjoy my little story.

Be Cool and thanks!

'Walk with Me'

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Write, rewrite, redo, rethink and repeat

The more you reread your manuscript, the better your finished story will be. It's just the way it is. The sooner you accept that fact of life the better. I raise my hand as someone who is slowly learning that fact. Color me impatient, Bucko, 'cause I want it out NOW.

But it's not ready.

'Walk with Me' is a simple, endearing tale of what all encompassing love means. It's my first real story of love and tragedy. Of life lived completely and deeply.

I'm rereading it today and finding small areas where just a few more and sometimes a few less words are making a profound difference in the story. The characters are becoming more coherent and believable.

The characters are in my head as I write, but you don't see them. I hint at them, at their emotions and fears and joys, but I'm not doing a great job of letting you see that. I feel it. I love the characters. But it's my job to get those feeling on paper so you can enjoy them too.

I found a great cover image, too. Took me a while, but I'm determined that this book will be better. Something you will look back on and smile. I want you to enjoy the story.

I'll keep rereading and writing until I can read it through without thinking there is something missing, something not quite right.

I want to enjoy reading it. If I enjoy it, then I'm pretty sure you will as well.

Soon, my gentle reader, soon. ;-)

Thanks for all your continued support. It means the world to me.

Be Cool.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Study everything!...

Every time you read something outside your 'normal' genre, your comfort zone, you expand your mind just a bit.

You drop a new idea into the soup of your imagination, adding to the flavor.

You light a tiny flicker of something 'not quite right' into a dark part of your mind.

It's not always easy or fun. Some of the stuff you pick up will be utter piffle (a real word, look it up!) and will be filed away in your 'forget this' file cabinet.

But most of the stuff will add to your arsenal of things to explore. The more you read, the more you experience.

Pick up a high school biology book and just skim it, cover to cover. I bet you will remember less than I did! ;0) But didn't it spark a few ideas? I'll bet you had a dozen ideas for your books just by reading about DNA again! It sure sparked my imagination, it's in virtually everything I write now!

Read a genuine, old time western novel.

How about a, shudder, romance novel? Careful, these are addictive. ;-)

No matter what you pick up, study some of it. If it's fiction, get inside the author's head and see the story from his or her point of view. Keep going until you get SOMETHING that you've never thought of before.

Grab that idea. Swirl it around in your mouth, getting a taste of it. Feel the texture of it's
undercurrent; what makes THIS story so interesting to so many people?

Study everything.

Every thing you read and study will help grow your imagination. And that's where your stories come from.

Read. Study. Go!

Be Cool.