Monthly Archives: February 2014

Someone’s At the Door: Choose Your Weapon

My latest WIP (work in progress) is a big drift from my normal style of dark writing. This new book still has its dark subject, still has its subjective point of view, and as always, has some dim undertones within the aspects of the characters. What makes this book different is that the scenery isn’t always so dreary, and even when life is dreary, their mannerisms build up to a kind of comedy through it all.

Now, I take much of what I write from over heard conversations and/or discussions I’ve had at home. I take those little snip its and add the voice of the character to make it their own. Sometimes I get the exact same conversation, and those usually don’t make the final cut. But, sometimes the conversation takes an interesting spin within the mind of a character and I get something fabulous.

The scene: Huck and Maggie are sitting at the dinner table. Huck is in his mid thirties while Maggie is all of sixteen. They are practically strangers who have been thrust together by fate, and have two completely different ways of thinking. There’s a loud banging at the door, one that sounds like someone is trying to break the door down. Huck pulls a shotgun out from the side of the fireplace.

Maggie jumps from her seat, her eyes filled with concerned more than worry. “Huck? What the hell are you doing?”

Looking over his shoulder, the shotgun already in position by his right shoulder, he replies, “I’m hunting wabbit! What the hell does it look like I’m doing?”

“You aren’t going to shoot whoever’s out there, are you?”

In a fit a confusion, he rattles his head about then aim at the door while creeping closer. Maggie gives a hushed shout at how ridiculous this is. He stops and looks over his shoulder again, “I don’t have any plans on shooting, unless absolutely necessary. Okay? Hippie?”

“So what? Then you just planning on scaring whoever runs through that door? And when he’s sees your cannon he’ll stop and cower, right?”

Huck was growing weary of the conversation, and the banging at the door wasn’t letting up. Didn’t she understand he was trying to protect her? Was she really having a debate on guns while someone was trying to break in? It was clear she didn’t care, so he decided he wouldn’t care back and put the butt of the gun down on his right toe while holding the barrel with his right hand. “You have a better idea?” he asked.

Their eyes met, and he wondered how many of these visual standoffs they would continue to have. She was stubborn, cocky, and the biggest pain in the ass he had ever met, and all of that paled besides her wit. He stood there, eagerly anticipating some smart remark.

“Lightsaber,” she said.

“Lightsaber?” he practically dropped the gun from his hearty laughter.

“Think about? We’re in the middle of shotgun, handgun, Glock, 9mm, hillbilly hell, right? Everybody has a gun next to the fireplace, everybody has a rifle rack in the truck? And this crazy bastard is still trying to get into the house.” She points at the door that is still taking a beating. “That guy knows you have a gun of some sort, and odds are so does he. Probably bigger by the sounds of it.”

“You can tell he has a big gun by the sound of the banging on the door? Oh, you’re good,” he chuckled. Then he put his finger on his chin stubble and asked her to go on.

“That guy isn’t going to be surprised to see a gun. But, he swoops through that door and you’re holding a lightsaber . . . well, now its game on. You don’t need perfect aim, just one big swoosh,” she motions as if holding a lightsaber and striking, including the sound effects. “Whala! Dead.”

“You think a lightsaber is better than a gun?”

“Have you even seen the movies? How many people actually die by way of guns? Like one to every thirty people who died by lightsaber. There are red blasts all over the place and once in a while someone actually gets hit, but the lightsaber death toll was in the kazillions. I mean, if you gotta be a Neanderthal killer then at least do it with finesse and with a weapon that has a proven kill rate.”

At that moment the door burst open and Huck was instantly mowed over by the three-legged goat before he was able to get his shotgun up. As he looked up he saw Maggie standing over him, hands on her shifted hips saying, “if you woulda had a lightsaber you might’ve stood a chance.”

“You haven’t won this argument,” he said.

“Then answer this: if you busted through someone’s front door, would you be more petrified to see you holding a gun or Qui Gon Jinn with a lightsaber?”

His inability to answer caused her to throw her hands up in victory and do a little happy dance. It became quite clear he might just be the student and not the master. “Yeah, well . . .  you need to work on your sound effects,” he mumbled.

End scene.

So that little conversation came about from the topic of gun control I had with a friend on Facebook. I was pleasantly pleased with the changes Maggie made, and how fiction mimics real life yet gives it its own little spin.

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author Shopping for a Lightsaber
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Visual Novels

I picked up my son from his friend’s house and he looked kind of morose. He turns to me and says, “I’m depressed.” This is my ninja assassin child. My child that thinks if you can’t fix it blow it up. He’s all balls to the walls; going down in a raging flame of glory; hell hath no fury like my son scorned. I love that kid, chip off the old block {tear}.

So why is this kid depressed? After all, he has two main reasons for going to his friend’s house: better internet connection for homework and video games. So I asked him what was wrong and he said a game he was playing had him up for fourteen hours straight. Not so unusual for this kid. Turns out it was a type of game I had never heard of called a visual novel.

visual novelWhat are visual novels? These are much like the old books often called “choose your adventure books,” where a reader would be given a choice of paths to take at the end of the chapters. Exact same concept here, except these games are visual, donning bright anime graphics and theatrical music throughout the story line. There are several styles ranging from adult (Eroge), science fiction, and emotional (Nakige), to horror. Each type is designed to instill a specific type of reaction within the game player.

Of course, I did my own homework to find many of these games are based on Japanese novels, or were so popular they were eventually turned into novels. I asked my son (19 years old) if he cried, as he said he was playing the emotional games (Nakige) games. He said he didn’t, but he did get choked up because the characters completely draw the player in.visual novel2

 

 

What I’ve learned:
The game is played in first person, a change from the typical choose your adventure novel. Because it is first person, the player is deeply embedded not only within the story but with all the emotion of the character. These characters have such in depth stories and intricate emotions that it is near impossible not to get caught up in the moment. The games are growing in popularity and generally take 10-16 hours to complete one story. They are playable on PC and some are occasionally ported to game consoles. Most recently they have been adopted to Android applications, although they aren’t as in depth due to memory limitations. Also, only one character story takes 10-16 hours, and there are several characters, plus you can replay the same character and choose different outcomes.

So what’s the big deal? As these games suggest, they are visual novels, which should be of interest to any author out there. The entire game is reading. READING! So I’m already excited at the prospect that this avenue has brought a new generation of non-readers to reading. Plus, these games take limitations off the story line. The bigger the book, the more it costs. As such, authors create trilogies or more. With Visual Novels, the book is only limited to memory space.

The catch: Before running off and using a free program to create your own Visual Novel you must know this: you will need graphics, typically anime with a range of emotion. And you will need an orchestra for the theatrical music aspect. Visual Novels are wonderful mixed-media avenues, so if you know an artist and an orchestra, this is a perfect opportunity to cross promote each other.

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author Looking for an Orchestra

“What You Do For a Living” Living?

Among my many titles are: mother, nurse, It Works! distributor, chauffeur, grammar Nazi, water pitcher refiller, travel liason, pillow, ATM machine, grocer, and keeper of the electricity (AKA: light Nazi). And those are only the top listed ones. As such, when I meet someone new and they ask what I do for a living I’ve always answered, “I’m a registered nurse.” But a few days ago, in a Tums overdose, someone online asked what I did for a living, and my calcium carbonated mind decided to analyze the question?

I carry many roles, yes, but what do I do for a living? was the question. I decided to look it up and here is what I got.

liv·ing

  [liv-ing]  
noun
11. the act or condition of a person or thing that lives
12. the means of maintaining life; livelihood
13. a particular manner, state, or status of life

The one that really stood out was under noun #12. The means of maintaining life. So I thusly looked up life. There are innumerable entries for that one (25 under noun).  The one that stood out was bibliography.
So to rephrase the question; what do you do for a living, I give you this question: What is your means of maintaining your bibliography?

I write!

Live_To_Write_by_BakingSkoda
Ummm . . . and think too much sometimes.
Tania L Ramos, RN and Author Maintaining her Bibliogrpahy
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The Pee Factor

Its happened to us all; at least from the stories I’ve heard, but this is my story. So sit back and drink a tall cup of water while listening to the glorious sounds of water trickling down that little zen fountain . . .

It was a particularly warm day, even for a Southern California winter. The temperature in the High Desert was an astounding seventy-five degrees, which made me quite parched. I proceeded to drink two glasses of my alkaline water before hitting Baja Fresh for a taco and  more water before trekking down to Los Angeles. I ensured I had emptied my bladder before the trip, as having three kids has destroyed any competency to be able to hold more than a Dixie Cup full of liquid.

The drive to L.A. was rather nice. Great music played on the radio, the temperature continued to rise to a staggering eighty-four degrees–mid-February mind you. When I arrived at my daughter’s school I proceeded to use the bathroom again: a safety measure more than actually having to go. Once we were all set and ready to go, I felt confident that we would make it home without incident.

What I didn’t plan for was heavy traffic on–what I forgot–was a four day weekend and Valentine’s Day friday. It seemed every few miles there was a broken down car, vehicle accident, or unexplained jam up. The CHP was in full force, and all I could think was, “thank God, I went to the bathroom before getting on this mess.”

One hour later, and not much closer to home, my belly began to fill full. Damn! I knew the feeling and knew it wasn’t good. I began to drive a bit more defensively and maneuver around traffic. This didn’t help with progression, but I was still okay so long as traffic eventually opened up. There was a light coming into view: my transition freeway was just up ahead and meant only thirty minutes to home. I was excited since my belly was now bulging over my low rise pants and a sharp pain was stinging at my side.

Of course, life isn’t always fair. A motorcycle accident occurred and slowed the on ramp. My phone rang with my oldest son scolding me for being late, as he had to get to school. Deja vu! I yelled back, a quick reflex from the urine burning in my bladder. I had no tolerance as sweat began to bead on my forehead. There was an exit up ahead, but I couldn’t get over in time to make it. The next exit was blocked with yet another accident, and I gazed up the long stretch of highway that split straight up  the San Bernardino Forrest. I was in for the long haul.

We inched our way up, and noted it was three hours passed the time I originally realized I had to pee. Urine began to bead on my brow as sweat. It was now looking for any avenue out of my system, and my heart began to race at the prospect of having to pee in my pants. My eyes searched the van for anything that would afford me the opportunity to pee in, but all I found was a small bowl from the Baskin Robbins and a water bottle. I knew I wouldn’t hit the small targeted opening of the water bottle, and the small bowl wasn’t going to cut it either. I figured I could pee in the bowl, stop mid pee, and then empty the contents into the water bottle, and rinse and repeat, but I passed at the thought,knowing home was only fifteen minutes away–in theory.

Another accident! I made some evasive move and swerved around the cruel vehicles, all the while noting the look on the woman’s face as she exited her vehicle; looked like she had to pee too!

Finally! I made it out of the dreaded snail race only to hit a stop sign. For real? When did that stop sign get there? I got passed that and hit my second stop sign, and I recall feeling like my body was ready to shrivel up and go fetal. The pain in  my side soon felt like a thousand double serrated daggers were digging into my flanks, while some alien being was reaching into my bladder and filling it with more fluid; a torturous burning, acidic fluid!

Next came the train tracks and the warning to slow to 35 MPH. But my brain was starting to turn on me, and before hitting the tracks I saw a fluffy jackalope taunting me. There was no slowing down! I hit the gas and yelled for the kid to hold on tight as the van put the General Lee to shame in its plight to reach new launching heights. The landing was rough and caused the fluid in my belly to press harder into its full line sensors.

Another stop sign! Is that three? Was that there? Oh my God! Is that a detour? I was detoured and trying to see passed the yellow fluid that had now risen to my eyeballs caused me to turn into the wrong lane. Some smart guy had moved the detour sign to point into oncoming traffic but I had to pee so a game of chicken ensued until I was able to get back into my lane through the cone. I looked in my rearview mirror to see others had also made the wrong turn. All the while, outside my driver’s side window the jackalope continued to taunt me.

Stop sign number four came and I felt a California roll was in order. I prayed there was no cop, knowing peeing in my pants would either get me put in jail or placed on a psychiatric hold. Petal to the metal, I hit the last stop sign and came to a complete stop, knowing home was only feet away. I made the left and California drifted a VW Routtan family van onto my small cul-de-sac while yelling at my daughter, “when the doors open, you run out. You run like the wind because mamma has to pee and she isn’t waiting for stragglers.”

Sure enough, we skid into the driveway, and I hit park, shut off engine, and her sliding door all at once. I yelled, “Go! Go! Go! This isn’t a drill. We are at defcon Yellow!” Of course she fell behind, conveniently distracted by some cuddly cute domestic. And I ran through the door, legs crossed the entire way, holding my nether regions like some Michael Jackson music video, bypassing hugs and hellos, straight to the sweet bladder salvation of the toilet. Except, by that point, I had to go so bad that my bladder quit on me and decided to punish me by holding out–or holding in. I cried a little. Then the strain and spasms of peeing came forth and my tears flowed just a little easier.

“Thank you, Jesus,” escaped my lips as a micro tremor of relief coursed through each nerve. So the next time I drive down to L.A.–next Friday–I will ensure there is a large bucket in which to pee, and I will not drink anything prior to my trip–or maybe the day before. Now to find out where those domestics took my daughter to…

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author with the World’s Smallest Bladder!

Maybe this will help

shewee

The Human Prospect

Social media is changing. Better? Worse? Every time I look at how to market there is some new media out there. I couldn’t possibly keep up, not with all the current changes. Read on how to market for indie authors and you will undoubtedly get Facebook, Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn, Reddit, and more.

Many years ago when this was all new it was easy to market on these social media avenues. You were among the first which meant you topped the market when these sites went ginormous. It was like investing stock at pennies and hitting the payload a short time later. But now, you are a small fish in a huge and crowded ocean.

Why stick with social media? Its one of those hideous necessities. In all honesty, outside of blogging the rest of it for me is tedious work. I’m a writer, and I’ve said it before but allow me to say it again: marketing is not my forte. Does it work? Yes, it works as far as numbers go. I posted a few weeks ago how I hit these sites hard and fast for a week and saw major spikes in my numbers, but they did nothing for sales.

Is there a human aspect? Yes. I handed out flyers, bookmarks, and did a few small “vendor” events. These weren’t bookie type events, but more geared toward direct marketing vendors. At times when I’m late on the list to sign up as an It Works vendor, I’ll ask if I can set up a book booth. Most people want their money and allow me in. For the most part, I get to talk with people and interact and hand out tons of material. Most say they use some electronic device now and will order it online. Some do, most don’t, but in the mix of things I am able to sell a few books here and there. Depending on the booth cost, I rarely make my money back, but I sell books, gather an email list, and get information out.

The human aspect of one-on-one interaction seems to fair better than social media sales. Can’t say this is true of all writers, of course when Sparks or Palahniuk posts a new book online I’m all over it…but they aren’t indie. They are whales swimming in a sea of millions of indie writers. Maybe someday I’ll be a whale and my mere presence will command sales, but until then fellow indies, don’t forget to step out of your little writer’s cove and try a new aspect of sales marketing: the human aspect.

links

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author Meeting Other Humans

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Glitches in the System

Section One of the young writer’s online program is under way. We have nine great people in the class from high school students to parents. I’ve offered the first section as free because I knew there would be some glitches in the system.

Glitches

#1 FB won’t upload the PowerPoint

#2 Converting a PowerPoint to video feed isn’t as easy as it seems

#3 When buying new techy new equipment, I have to have the best. More money spent than anticipated

All-in-all this has been a great learning experience for me. I’d like to thank YouTube for having all the videos I needed to get my first section up and running, and to show me how to get the distortion out of the background when recording (next time). We are approaching week two of the program and I’m excited. For a free sneak peek into section one watch the video. This will most likely be the longest lesson, everything after this is cake.

For more info: authortanialramos@hotmail.com

Prenatal Ninja Assassination On My Life

There I am in my van, talking with the kids about the randomness of life. So many useless subjects, so little time. And so goes the life of having all the kids in the car at once. Each one has some silly question, some ridiculousness about life, and I’m supposed to have the answers to all that is silly, ridiculous, and down right weird.

As the conversation progresses–or regresses–the subject of who was the easiest kid rears its ugly, sibling rivalry head. The questions come flying like some kamikaze verbal assault, and I’m surprised I was able to multitask that with defensive driving through the bad lands of the High Desert. So who was the easiest kid during pregnancy? River was. Who was delivered the fastest? River was. Who didn’t try to kill me during my nine month gestation? River didn’t.

Oh, you think that last question is odd? Ha! You don’t know my children and their plight to stump me. Who was the most difficult pregnancy? Dasan. Who was the longest delivery? Dasan. Who made an assassination on my life while in the womb? DASAN! Oh, if you knew my Dasan, you would just nod and say, “Yep, that makes a heck of a lot of sense.”

ninja babyHow does a child attempt an assassination while still in utero? As such: he wiggled around so much, I had to get up and walk to relieve some pressure. All part of his master plot, by the way. I decided to walk to a little restaurant a few block away, and as I did, the little goon up and sends a forceful drop kick directly into my bellybutton. Yes, dropkick! It was so vicious that I swore I saw little toe sillhouttes protruding from under my tank top. Yes, dropkick! The neonatal executioner was able to defeat my awkward center of balance and thrust me face down into the ground.

Bystanders pulled over their vehicles to stop and see if I was okay. Not only did I fall face first, but I was very visually pregnant . . . and I rolled off the sidewalk. Strange sight to see, I imagine. Must have looked like some scene straight out of Fight Club. I remember it all too well, now that my child brought up the memory that was recessed somewhere behind gestational PTSD. Ah, memories . . .

Am I mad about it? Nah! These kids give me the best writing material. #AdenturesInPregnancy #MothersLife #RevengeIsMine

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author Who Survived the Assassination Attempt

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