Monday, July 28, 2014

The Writer's Cheat Sheet to Body Language

Some of us are observant and cautious and people-watch and know intimate details of body language to include in our stories. And some of us have no clue how to describe a character's emotional state except to say "he was angry." And some of us are in-between. No matter what kind of writer you are, this cheat sheet from Archetype Writing will come in handy. It's a collection of emotional states, and body language to use in all situations.


[Via  imgur]

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

100-Word Sci-Fi: "Fireworks"

Every week, I write a hundred-word story inspired by a random word. This week's word is "fireworks."

Fireworks
by Nigel G. Mitchell

Barry Moore looked up at the night sky and pointed. "Look, Mommy, fireworks!"

His mother looked up from her book, smiling at the colorful lights. "You're right, honey. Wrong time of year for them, though."

Barry frowned. "Are they supposed to be so big?"

The bursts of lights came faster and bigger while booming like thunder.

His mother grabbed his hand. "Honey, I don't think those are fireworks."

A flaming saucer came shrieking down out of the sky and crashed into the house behind them. Barry and his mother screamed and ran as more wreckage came raining down on them.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

"Prey" by Michael Crichton [Review]

PreyPrey by Michael Crichton
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Let me start out by saying I'm a huge fan of Michael Crichton. His books Jurassic Park and Andromeda Strain are classics. That said, his other work is hit and miss. He tended to work in a formula which didn't always gel: group of people trapped in a building with something scary. Jurassic Park was a hit. Prey is definitely a miss for me.

Despite claims on the cover and the description, this book is not really about nanotechnology. It's about killer dust. The premise is that a computer programmer discovers his wife has been leading a team to create microscopic robots, and the robots have escaped from the lab and become self-aware. When he goes to his wife's lab, he and the other scientists become trapped inside.

For most of the book, the robots take the form of swarms of dust that attack. Not really a realistic representation of nanotechnology. I would compare it to Verne's book on space travel, a book written about a technology that doesn't exist so is horribly misunderstood.

The killer dust is also really stupid as an enemy. To see a group of adult cowering in fear from piles of dust just didn't do it for me. Sometimes, they do get trapped with it and "Oh no, it's in my eyes! It's in my nose! Okay, I took a shower and I'm fine now."

The opening of the book had some wonderful character development. One of the biggest criticisms Crichton got is his weak characters. I thought he did a great job building a story around the main character, unemployed house husband. Unfortunately, it all gets thrown away once the hero gets locked up in a lab, hiding from the killer dust.

Towards the end, the killer dust becomes more interesting with a nest and pretending to be people, but I wish it had been that way from the start. And I also thought it was all pretty outlandish, nothing like what scientists now believe nanotechnology will become. Some nice moments, but overall a disappointment.

View all my reviews
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Sunday, July 20, 2014

100-Word Sci-Fi: "Loss of Direction"

Every week, I write a hundred-word story inspired by a random word. This week's word is "location."
Smartphone showing maps, Source: Wikimedia
Loss of Direction
by Nigel G. Mitchell

Gerald Dempsey's frown deepened as he drove squinting into the darkness. "This doesn't look right at all."

The GPS on his phone said, "In five hundred feet, your execution will be on the right."

Gerald shook his head. "'Execution? Now I know this thing is broken.'"

"In one hundred feet, your execution will be on the right."

Gerald felt a chill as he pulled up to an abandoned building. "What in the--"

"Your execution is on the right."

Gerald turned to the passenger window and screamed as a hideous creature burst through the glass.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Weird Al Teaches Grammar in "Word Crimes"

Weird Al Yankovic is back to show us how it's done with his new album, Mandatory Fun. One of his singles released today is sorely needed in today's online grammar-deficient world, a parody of Robin Thicke's song "Blurred Lines" "Good Times" called "Word Crimes." Check out the most commonly used mispronunciations and grammatical errors, set to a funky beat.


BONUS
Related Post:
10 Words Everyone Needs to Stop Misspelling

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Monday, July 14, 2014

100-Word Sci-Fi: "A Clone of My Own"

Every week, I write a hundred-word story inspired by a random word. This week's word is "clone."

A Clone of My Own 
by Nigel G. Mitchell

Page Widrick thought having a clone would be awesome. She could have her clone clean up her house and go to college while she relaxed and watched TV.

She set the cloning machine down on the kitchen table, took a deep breath, and pushed the button.

Page opened her eyes. She looked down at another version of herself, still holding down the button on the machine.

"Awesome. It looks just like me." The other Page held out a mop and bucket to her. "You can start in the living room. Work until twelve, and class starts at one o'clock sharp."

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

How James Patterson Became a One-Man Publishing Company

I'm not a huge fan of James Patterson, but I respect him. I read Along Came a Spider and found it a bit overblown, unrealistic, and the African-American main character Alex Cross a stereotypical anti-stereotype (he's a big tough black man...but he plays show tunes! And he's actually smart!). The last Patterson book I read was Kiss the Girls, which I couldn't make it through because of the rape scenes and general ickiness. But over the years, I've seen his name on every bookshelf in every bookstore. I don't like how he's turned himself into a brand name more than an author, but can't argue with success.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

100-Word Sci-Fi: "Red Light"

Every week, I write a hundred-word story inspired by a random word. This week's word is "traffic."
LED traffic light on red.jpg

"LED traffic light on red" by Kevin Payravi - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Red Light
by Nigel G. Mitchell

Burke Rhodes raced through the streets, gas pedal to the floor, to reach Fifth and Vine. He only had twenty-four seconds to stop the car accident. He had to change history.

The traffic light turned red. Burke didn't see the Maserati until its front end caught his rear bumper. Burke's car began to skid, collided with another car, and spun into the intersection at Fifth and Vine.

He watched the mini-van rushing towards him, and saw his wife behind the wheel, eyes wide with shock. Just before their cars collided, Burke knew he had been his wife's killer all along.

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

10 Words Everyone Needs to Stop Misspelling

I've made my share of typos, everyone does. But there are a few words that I see misspelled a lot. Anyone who's been through high school should have these down, but we all make mistakes every now and then. Here's a refresher by The Oatmeal in a more amusing format than your average grammar lesson.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

New Release: "The Adventures of Couch Potato"

It's finally here! I'm proud to announce my latest novel, The Adventures of Couch Potato, is now available for download. Here's the summary:
Carl Potter was just a fat, bald, lazy guy until a freak accident transformed him into a fat, bald, lazy superhero named Couch Potato. Now he's forced to get off his beloved chair to fight an invasion of alien furniture, a ruthless cult of Elvis impersonators, and an army of groundhogs trying to plunge our world into an eternal six months of winter. Couch Potato: he'll save the world, if there's nothing good on TV.
The book includes three full-length adventures including Couch Potato's origin. I can pretty much guarantee you've never seen a superhero like him. You can download it now on Amazon (US and UK).

You can also help spread the word: Click here to tweet about it!

Oh, and as a bonus, my satirical booklet Hunting Elvis Presley For Fun and Profit is now available for free at Smashwords.

To hear about my new releases first and get a free short story, sign up here. Your email will never be shared, and you'll only receive messages about new releases.
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