J.R. Geoghan

Novels and Writing

Category: writing (page 1 of 2)

NaNoWriMo Midpoint – Thoughts

The month of November is National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo. From 11/1 through 11/30, participants are to write to a goal of 50,000 words. The length of an average-to-short novel.  But the event, which is billed as a competition against your own hangups and indecisiveness is also about collaboration if you do it right.

So I am at just over 30,000 words as of the 18th – right on the daily target. All well and good, but honestly I’m having more fun hanging out with the local writing denizens of central Lancaster County than anything else. For someone who sits in his closet-office each morning pressing the keys, it’s just plain fun to be in the company of other folks trying to go from point A to point B in their writing. We meet on Tuesdays at Panera Bread, Thursdays at the new Wegmans (first in the county) and Saturdays at the public library.

I am thankful (Thanksgiving theme cue) for the friends I have made in this business – and it is a business. But my NaNo buddies make November worth it. This is my 2nd NaNo and I expect it to be a November staple going forward. Even better, I hope to keep in touch with the local peeps and encourage each other in our writing journeys.

Do you NaNo?

 

U-Boats In Trouble – Halloran’s War Influences

The genesis of my “what if” premise for Halloran’s War was many years in the making, although I didn’t realize at the time that I’d eventually put a military sci-fi series together around the concept.

What concept, you ask?

“Competent crew and aggressive skipper get marooned on an enemy warship and have to figure it out in order to survive and win the day”

This idea has been in my head for literally four decades. I read a book by one my all-time favorite authors, Douglas Reeman, called “His Majesty’s U-Boat” in which an English Captain and seasoned sub crew are tasked with learning to fight in a captured German U-Boat in order to complete several missions of deception into enemy harbor in the Med during WW2. That book premise has stuck with me ever since.

Of course, I’m a sub movie fan as well.  From Run Silent, Run Deep to The Hunt for Red October, there’ll all good to me – even the cheesy ones. Anyone remember Operation Petticoat?  There was a more-recent called U-571 starring several interesting actors which featured a historical premise; the recovering of the Enigma code machine from a German U-Boat during WW2. Never mind the minor fact that it was actually the Brits who peached the prize during the war, this retelling has the intrepid American sub crew winning the day.

What I really loved about the movie’s premise, however, and what I think was the germ of the idea that is eventually becoming a far-future version Halloran’s War, is the way that the small band of surviving US crew are stuck aboard U-571 after their own sub is destroyed by a third sub, another German U-Boat. The crew have figure out how to operate their new best friend, foreign language and all, to stay alive and begin fighting back.

The movie is not a cinematic tour-de-force but it was a sub movie  – and a WW2 one at that – so I’m good here.

When you get a chance to read Halloran’s War, in particular book one “War Without Honor”,  let me know if you see the influences.

Dive! Dive! Dive!

NaNoWriMo 2018 is here – I’m doing it!

Last year I participated in my first NaNoWriMo – “National Novel Writing Month” is a worldwide collaboration among writing creatives that has gone on every year since 1999!

This year?  To quote from their site:

On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.

Last year I got to 55,000 words which became my third installment in the Immortal War Series, A Killing Time. I ended up at our local Panera Bread and met some fun Lancaster County writers working at their projects next to the fireplace. Good conversations were had and encouragement passed around throughout the month.

This year, I’ll be working on the second book in my Halloran’s War series of Military Sci-Fi. You interested in trying your hand at a novel?  NaNoWriMo is a great way to challenge yourself and see how many words you can “let flow” in a month!

Maybe I’ll see you at the fireplace at Panera on Tuesdays in November between 7 and 9pm.

 

 

 

The Babylon Revenge is almost here! Want to help?

This has been an exciting week working on final prep for the launch of book two in the Altan Series – The Babylon Revenge!  My expectation is to release it this coming weekend on Amazon… and even better, the first draft of book three is done!

If you’re a reader, I’m looking for some folks to read and review The Babylon Revenge once it goes live online for sale.  If you’re ready, please sign up here to join my online community of readers. Be sure to reply to my welcome email with your willingness to help with reviews.

Thanks so much to everybody for your wonderful support of my writing!

Music to Write By – Hybrid Orchestral Epic Music

In the last month or so, I’ve became more and more aware of a genre of digital music – “hybrid orchestral,” also called “epic music.”  This came out of my using movie soundtracks as background music for my writing times.  I wanted more than what was available, and began poking around YouTube.

There are many, many examples of this type of electronic music available on YouTube.  Hours and hours of it.  One of my personal favorite channels is Pandora Journey.

Most of the recordings are compilations from cinematic score composers who put together literally mountains of orchestral tracks for use in the gaming and movie/TV industries.  A great upcoming example is the Trailer 2 for the 2017 movie “Wonder Woman” featuring a great track “Catapult” by Position Music.


Other composers are looking to create a piece of electronic (hence the “hybrid”) orchestral music that has a message/story all it’s own, rather than something created for a movie studio to incorporate into a soundtrack.  The example above, Tales of the Forgotten “GRound Zero  is part of an outstanding hybrid orchestral trilogy of EP-length pieces, concluding with this also-excellent “Ep III: Devolution“.  Another favorite of mine is a composer known as Varien – love The Valkyrie Trilogy:


After awhile I do admit to growing weary of the genre, and will segue into worship music or my short list of all-time favorites such as Acoustic Alchemy.  But, these days orchestral tunes keep drawing me back every few weeks as I am pondering a new chapter of a character’s life…  Here’s another post I wrote about music to write by.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Add People, Not Characters…

"Swords of Flame"

Characters… are people too!

Adding a new “character” to your story is one of the most fun, most daring things you can do as a writer.  Whether they get only a few minutes onstage or end up being a major player in a series, new characters stretch your imagination while grounding you in reality… of a sort.  But in reality, what you’re adding are people:

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” ― Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

And it’s a learning curve – sometimes you’re adding a “person” with no precedent to work from.  For me, creating an angelic character meant rereading Biblical references and then adding my imagination to the “what if” for them.  Rereading demonic references and asking “what if” they were standing next to me and spoke… Or there’s the more commonplace folks like an Hispanic small-town female cop.  Or a hard-bitten, almost-stereotypical security chief.  And the list goes on.

So where to get ideas?  How to tie the fantastic to the commonplace?  My suggestion is to start taking notes.

Interesting people are all around us. We’re known dozens of “characters” in our lives and probably done a fairly poor job of taking note.  I would suggest you take a few minutes a month and jot down the names of people you work with and live around.  What makes you grin about them when they come by, the things they say and do – mannerisms grounding in reality.  When  the time comes to add somebody to your story, you’ve got a war-chest of “people” to mix and match from.

Oh, by the way, heed the advice of Donald Miller –  “When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”  Whether we agree with them or not, the people around us deserve our attention.  I think God would agree with me on that one…

There’s another side benefit to taking notes on the people in our lives – we tend to leave them and forget.  In just my life, I’ve been grounded for several years at at time in New York, Sand Diego, Los Angeles and Pennsylvania.  When I think of people from past iterations of my life, one of the sad things is that there are people who I’ve forgotten about, especially as I grow older (ahem).  Faces without a name, or a fond moment in time with the people left out.  These things sadden me…  and perhaps this has happened to you as well.

So dig out the pen or tablet and look with a smile to the people in your life, taking notes.  I think you’ll learn something new and even get an inspiration for a “character” in your next story.

 

 

Los Angeles and Wilshire – Scene of the Climax

Los Angeles Sunset SkylineThe penultimate showdown in “Swords of Flame” takes place on the Wilshire area of Los Angeles, on the top floors of one of the tallest buildings in the Miracle Mile district and L.A. in general.  The sun is setting as Chris, Sarah and Mac approach in the news chopper… and all Hell breaks loose.  We’re talking guided missiles and gatling guns tearing up condos in sky…

(leaving the rest for you to read)

I used to love visiting the West L.A. area and my job with Robinsons-May Department Stores in the late 1990’s took me there – we had several stores sprinkling through Los Angeles.  While I was more naturally an O.C. guy (give me Laguna any day of the week), I thought the energy in L.A. was invigorating.   Speaking of energy, I distinctly remember standing in a parking structure one afternoon with a coworker when all the cars around us began rocking back-and-forth.  We realized that the building was swaying in a mild earthquake!  Lasted a minute or so but very weird.  Another Wilshire memory is visiting the famous La Brea tar pits – a couple of times.  This is one of the best spots to learn about “real” L.A. history.

In another part of the story, Governor Thomas Gage was visited by a tall mysterious blonde stranger and offered something he couldn’t refuse.  Gage, an ex-movie star, had a gorgeous home in West L.A. overlooking the Wilshire area and the 405 Freeway that he shared with his wife and daughter Angela.  When everyone’s fate ends them up on the top of the shot-up building on Wilshire Boulevard, clearly something bad is going to happen.  Chris and Sarah, our heroes, are from faraway Julian in the San Diego mountains but they need to make things right with the Gages as Swords of Flame comes to it’s climax!

 

 

 

 

Ask the Author – Characters

novel charactersWhich one of your Chris Carter series characters can you most relate to?

Since this is the first book in the series, we are still learning about the core characters like Chris, Sarah, Travis and the Gages.  Some will step into the background as the series progresses and other,
new folks will enter the stage.  I think that the Chris Carter character is a bit of a composite of people I have known in my life, and certainly not a little about me.

Do you believe in cliffhangers for your characters?

I’m always in the middle; I like having the immediate story line wrap up by the the end of the book, movie or show.  But I also like when there is a bigger unresolved story that potentially looms over the characters.

Who is your favorite character in Swords of Flame?

I like them all, of course!  Even the bad guys, because they are all important to my story…  If I had to pick one who makes me smile the most, it’d be Sarah Medina.  She has a fun energy and loves a challenge, even when it may get her knocked around.

Ask the author – Writing and motivation

keysWhat inspired you to start writing?

I have always enjoyed writing and have been blogging for many years.  I got to a place where I wanted to write fiction.  At the same time, I was looking for an opportunity to explore more about how the roles and functions of both angels and demons in the Bible (which are plentiful and specific) would translate into the current era. In the end, I wanted to create a good shoot ’em up adventure that’s fast-paced but also thought provoking and takes the reader to places in time.

Do you believe in cliffhangers at the end of a novel?

I’m always in the middle; I like having the immediate story line wrap up by the the end of the book, movie or show.  But I also like when there is a bigger unresolved story that potentially looms over the characters…

How long was the writing process?

Moving from a casual writer to a more purposeful one has been the biggest growing curve for me, and it’s far from over.  From my first rough draft to the published copy there was almost two years.  I have learned so much about writing fiction in the process!  Many thanks for help go out to my sister, Jennifer Geoghan, who has several novels published of her own.  Now I feel much better prepared to attack book two and continue to learn!

Music to write by

music-influences-writingMusic is a big part of my writing process; I have the earbuds in most all of the time when jamming through pages of text.

The categories of what I shove in my ears would be as follows:

  1. Christian Hard Rock – typified by my favorite band, Red (Just got their new album “of Beauty and Rage”, awesome).    Also Day of Fire and Building 429 are favs.
  2. More Hard Rock – Stuff like Linkin Park.  I’m a huge Evanescence fan as well.
  3. Classic Christian Rock – nobody plays this stuff anymore; like Dogs of Peace, early Kutless and Justifide (9 out of 10 is a true classic metal song).  Jaci Velasquez, anybody?
  4. Movie soundtracks – I have a collection of full soundtracks and bits/pieces of others.  It’s fun to play the Iron Man 3 soundtrack or Gravity and see how many times the mood of the piece matches my character or setting mood in the book.
  5. Classical – I’m a huge Rachmaninoff fan.  Can’t play Piano Concerto No. 2 enough.
  6. Old pop – still loving Depeche Mode, REM and Seal in a pinch.  “World in my Eyes” is a personal favorite.

 

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