The Story Behind the Story–A Real American Hero and Laser Rifles

Okay, my blog has been deader than the Jar-Jar Binks fan club. So in an effort to blog more and get more action on my website (action, pow!), I’m going to start telling the story behind some of the stories I’ve written over the past couple of years.

I love novels. I was born to write novels—but I also like short fiction because it is a playground, it is a proving ground, and it is practice, wonderful practice. My friend used to say whenever I wrote, no matter how small the project, it was like a jazz musician working on their chops.

So without further ado, here is the first story behind the story and an example of me working on my chops.

In July 2014, my story POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS COMMANDER hit the streets, and soared to a #1 position in Amazon’s Kindle Worlds Action/Adventure category. Well, it’s not like it’s my story because I wrote it with the fabulously talented Peter J. Wacks, so it’s our story, a G.I. Joe story, and it’s funny, poignant, and one reviewer called it heart warming. There’s also lots of killing and laser rifles.

Like Dr. Evil. “Lasers.” Why lasers?

I’ll get to that.

It all started out in the 1980’s. I was what they called a latchkey kid. I’d get home from school to an empty house and I’d watch T.V. from about three o’clock to ten o’clock every night. Not a lot of friends for me. Real people were too scary.

Luckily, I had my imaginary friends. Like Liono, Optimus Prime, and the G.I. Joe team.

I watched a ton of G.I. Joe and loved every laserblast. Yeah, laser rifles. I’m getting there. I’m getting there.

Flash forward twenty years. Um, make that thirty. Hollywood came out with not one but two G.I. Joe movies. And yeah, not the greatest cinema ever, but I adored the movies. I got to be thirteen again, and being thirteen again, I didn’t care about an iffy plot or flat characters. I just wanted action!

In G.I. Joe: Retaliation (the second movie), they have ninjas fighting our heroes on a mountain side, dangling off ropes, and sword fighting. How cool is that?!

I posted on Facebook that I loved G.I. Joe. Just a quick post that probably alienated some people, but at least I wasn’t talking about religion or politics or Doctor Who. Aaron? Liking G.I. Joe? Really?

Yeah. Love it.

I was at a poker game with some author types, and Quincy J. Allen saw the post and suggested fan fiction, like funny fan fiction. He had heard of someone looking to co-write a satirical G.I. Joe story. The idea hit me immediately. What if Cobra Commander had PTSD (as in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)? What if he was in a clinic with one of the G.I. Joe guys who was also suffering from PTSD? The story would write itself.

I thought nothing of it until I got a call from the managing editor at WordFire Press, the big cheese, Peter J. Wacks who was wondering if I was serious. I was.

We wrote it. I didn’t have time, but for this story, I made time. I wrote on airplanes, I wrote in hotel rooms after a long day at my day job, and after an exhausting conference, on barely any sleep, I pounded out ten thousand words in a day.

We polished. And it’s now live on Amazon.

Of all the things I’ve written recently, it’s my favorite. I mean, really, I researched, I watched G.I. Joe cartoons, I read wiki after wiki, and at first I wanted to use pulse rifles, or normal machineguns, but after watching the old cartoon, I couldn’t help but use laser rifles. Thanks to toy collectors, I researched the model #’s so the weapons the characters wield are real. Kind of.

Thanks to Michael Haspil, I put in an epilogue about PTSD because yeah, knowing is half the battle. And thanks to my mom, the EMDR therapy in the story is as realistic as I could make it for characters using “laser” rifles. My mom is a kick-ass therapist and is very patient with me.

The coloring books in the story were Peter’s idea, and while I was uncertain about including them, it’s one of my favorite scenes. Cobra Commander and Gung Ho are coloring together, and of course I wanted to use Hasbro coloring books, My Little Pony and The Transformers. We couldn’t use the real names, so Peter called them My Little Horsey and Shifterbots. Shifterbots! Brilliant. Cobra Commander and Gung Ho fight over who gets which one. It’s funny.

At 17,000 words, it’s a quick read. I hope y’all enjoy it. And of course, if you read it, leave a review!

Who knew that all that afternoon T.V. growing up would pay off?

This story is my first professional sale (cha-ching) and the first story I’ve written that has hit a bestseller list.

Thank you, Peter J. Wacks, for inviting me in and working with me.

Yo Joe!

 

 

 

 

I Time Travel and Go Morgue with Paranormal Romance Author Patricia C. Lee

 

Pat Lee pic-1Patricia C. Lee is another Crescent Moon Press writer who agreed to be enslaved for thirty minutes while we chatted. This one was fun, though, seriously. Even after I turned off the recording, we went on and on, talking about books, the industry, future projects, past projects, past pluperfect projects.

 

For the pre-interview click here. Yeah, the MP3!  Pat Lee Interview with Aaron Ritchey.mp3  (Right click and left click on SAVE TARGET AS).

Pat has had a love affair with the written word since childhood, many times immersing herself in the stories of Enid Blyton and Carolyn Keene. Her active imagination gave inspiration to short stories and her first play as a teen.
As an adult she has penned an award winning short story titled The Battle and A Precious Glimpse in Time published in an anthology. Her full-length play, The Truth About Lies, was staged at a theatrical festival competition in 2008.
Although still in pursuit of a place truly called home, Pat currently lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and three cats, all of which claim rule over the house at one point or another.
When her nose isn’t pressed to the laptop monitor, you can find her at the public library. Besides dreaming up her next novel, Pat also enjoys traveling, baking, camping, wine, and of course reading – not necessarily in that order.

Destinys Past HiResNo-nonsense medical examiner, Kelly Richards, relies on the familiar comforts of science and scalpels to get her through the day. So when a not-so-dead guy who claims he’s from the past lands on her autopsy table, she considers calling the men in white coats to escort him to a padded room. But Jarek’s old-world ways and hot gaze trick her heart into falling for him—a mistake she swore she’d never make again. When Jarek, Prince of Leisos, discovers someone he trusts has been slowly poisoning him, he travels to the future in search of a cure. Driven by vengeance, he enlists the help of an impudent scientist to return him to his time. Caught between his growing desire for Kelly and the need to expose his would-be assassin before he strikes again, Jarek must either forfeit his ticket home or lose the only woman he’s ever loved.

Okay, Pat, here we go. Hold on. We’re going to slam 1.21 gigawatts of electricity in our flux capacitor. The pop culture time travel references are going to fill a TARDIS. Okay, I’ll try and keep them to a minimum. I won’t mention Sarah Connor.

AARON: In Destiny’s Past, how did you handle the time travel? I mean, if I go back and have a beer with Julius Caesar, would that mean my father became the Pope and I was never born? Or are the timelines, past and present, pretty much separate? I know, geeky question, but I get curious. And if you’re still around after my Back to the Future reference, we just might make it through.

Patricia: Obviously, I haven’t gone back in time (but wait – have I and just never knew???) But books and movies about time travel have always intrigued me because I’m a big believer in “what if.” In answer to your question, however, my theory of time travel pertaining to Destiny’s Past is this – it was meant to be. It was Jarek’s fate to be shot forward in time to meet Kelly and so on (can’t give away any predominant points in the book, sorry ) I know that’s a bit of a cop-out but I live my life on the theory of fate and destiny (ergo: the name of the book) BUT with each decision we make in life that choice has the ability to lead us down a separate path. I could go on and on about the esoterical spin, but I won’t. Oh, and as for Back to the Future, I have all three movies!

back to the future1f56e

AARON: Love the pitch for your book! What kind of research did you do for the morgue aspects? Did you actually lay down in one of those drawers we see on crime shows?

Patricia: I tried to get into the local morgue but I didn’t fit the profile (meaning I was still breathing!) No, seriously I went online and researched what it took to become a morgue intern, what facilities and equipment they have (watched a video of an actual tour of a morgue – minus the cadavers) and read up on the procedures the M.E.’s follow. I think research is important to the credibility of any writer.

AARON: So you have a husband and three cats. Who gets in the way the most when you are writing? The cats or the husband?

Patricia: Actually neither. I’m very selfish when it comes to writing. I close the door and thankfully my hubby is very understanding and supportive so he knows not to bother me unless it’s important. And as for the cats, well, I cuddle with them when I finish and they forgive me. They’re such wonderful creatures.

AARON: Your story takes place in a small town in South North Carolina. How much world building did you do for the town? And why set it in South North Carolina?

Patricia: (Ooops, pretty bad when you can’t remember where your book takes place.) I have no idea why I picked North Carolina. Seemed like a good place. But I did make up the city of Lackton, Wesslyn County where Kelly lives. I did do some Google searching regarding pictures and communities etc.

AARON: When we chatted, you said you weren’t much for history, and yet your book has a lot of history in it. If you can explain the paradox, well, maybe we can talk more because I’m conflicted about a whole mess of things.

tutankhamunPatricia: It’s true, I ‘m not much for history. Never have been. Except perhaps the Egyptians, they sort of fascinate me. Maybe that’s why I took the location of the mythical land of Leisos to be somewhere in ancient Persia. The concept for Destiny’s Past and the whole story about a prince from two thousand years ago came from someone who entered my life. That’s the reason why the book is dedicated to him. And no, I’m not going to embellish on who

AARON: Okay, the obvious question is if you had a time machine, where would you go? But I’m not asking that. I’m asking this: If you could get take-out from any time period in history, past, present, or future, what kind of food would you get and why?

Patricia: Man, that’s a toughie because I love all types of food. I like trying new things. Do I have a favorite? – I tend to lean toward Italian. Oh and wine. Nummy. However I’m not particularly fond of Italian wines. I like Chilean red wine, especially Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

AARON: You are a very solitary writer and you need quiet. Tell us a little bit about your process and talk about the cabin! I love the cabin stuff!

Patricia: Once I get an idea of a book, I write an outline in point form with certain pivotal things that happen and go from there. Like I said before, I’m very selfish Rasputin-Kiddy-Cabinwhen it comes to my writing. Maybe because I take it so seriously, meaning it’s not a passing fancy for me. It’s like a full-time job. As for the cabin, I go away every year by myself to a fully stocked place (except for food and beverage – think wine, lots of wine LOL!) on a large lake that has no telephone, radio, internet or television (I don’t have a cell phone but there is phone service at the main desk and the library in a nearby community has internet.) There are other cabins around but I don’t socialize with people staying there. The whole point of going is to focus on writing with no distractions, be they housework, family or friends. I get up when I want, cook what and when I want. I usually get up, put on the coffee (a necessity) and nibble on something while I read over the last chapter of what I wrote. Then I do around two hours of writing, take a break and eat, another two hours and perhaps go for a walk, and so on for most of the day. I don’t write in the evening because by then I’ve logged around 6 – 8 hours and need to give my brain a rest. This writer’s retreat started as a two-day housesitting gig that has morphed into a full seven-night seclusion.

AARON: After your reader closes your book, what kind of feeling or experience did you want them to have? Your perfect reader, not some schmoe in Pittsburgh holding a grudge against authors because his wife left him to write a book.

Patricia: I want the reader to be able to feel satisfied they got their money’s worth. If I’ve taken the reader away from their daily life, given them time to escape, then I’ve done my job. That’s very important for me. Strangers have put their faith in me and paid for a product and I want them to be happy with the end result.

AARON: What are you working on now? Sequel? Prequel? A sequel to the prequel? Vice versa?

Patricia: Unfortunately, I’m one of those people that can’t work on two different projects at the same time. I can’t divide my focus like that. With me it’s either all or nothing. I’m currently writing the third and final book of the Daughters of the Crescent Moon Trilogy. After that I don’t know for sure what I’ll do – whether stick with the fantasy genre or do a contemporary thriller. I have so many ideas there isn’t enough time to write them all. LOL!!

 

Thanks so much Patricia C. Lee! Here is where you spread your links like the footprints of morlocks.

Patricia’s website
Blog
Facebook
Linkedin
Goodreads
Buy link for Destiny’s Past
Buy link for Destiny’s Present

Again, we have audio of the pre-interview interview. Click here. Yeah, the MP3! Pat Lee Interview with Aaron Ritchey.mp3 (Right click and left click on SAVE TARGET AS).

The Walking Dead Will Break Your Heart But in a Good Way

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In some ways, writers are an easy audience. Or at least I am. I adore story, drama, and emotion. That’s why I write books. Because I love to create exactly the story, drama, and emotion I want and I do it the “right way,” at least for me. Yeah, it takes effort for me to consider an audience because I know what I want and who cares about anyone else.
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So I still have a lot to learn. I used to think story was king. I’m a big fan of Robert McKee, and he says that if you have a good story, other parts of your project can be iffy because people can overlook a lot for a good story.

But now I don’t think story is king. I think it’s the crown prince, though. Who is the king? Emotion. I think people lock onto art because of the emotional impact, or at least I do.

So in The Walking Dead, I think the series gets the emotions right. Yeah, it’s been hammered by critics and bloggers and Chris Devlin (who is awesome by the way) as being completely illogical and ill-planned. Most people call the characters zombie bait.

For example, in the first season, the survivors are camping out during the zombie apocalypse. Their only defense is a bunch of cans on a string. The camp was dubbed Camp Dinner Bell by some people because would you really be out in the open in tents if there was a zombie apocalypse on? Probably not. On the outskirts of Atlanta, there are tons of buildings you could hide in. Like with walls and doors and everything.

Part of me understands the criticism, but mostly, I just don’t care. Why? Because of the emotional impact of the series. It takes the end of the world seriously. It takes zombies seriously. And it might get the logistics wrong, but it gets the emotions just right.

How does it do that? I think the characters are good, the dialogue is good, and the acting is superior. So I am drawn in. So, does that mean characters are more important than story?

Hmm. I’ll have to ponder that because in essence, the emotions come from the characters.

But who am I kidding? It all has to work. I have a friend who says writing novels is like building a table with 23 legs and every one of them has to be measured perfectly. But if I was going to skimp, where would I skimp? What has to be solid? The characters. Emotion trumps story. Or am I showing my age?

When I was fourteen, I would have watched The Walking Dead for the gore and story. Will these people survive the zombie apocalypse? Now I watch it for the characters because I know they will all die. It’s not if they get to the end, because hey, in the zombie genre, everybody dies. It’s not if, it’s the how they do it. What can I learn about being human from their journey?

Oh, I am getting so old. Luckily, men stop maturing at around 14, so I can still enjoy the gore.

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