Compelling Characters Technique: Establish Clear Motivation

Compelling Characters Technique: Establish Clear Motivation
Stock image downloaded from Pixabay.

Greetings all,

As an instructor, I find myself sometimes watching interactions between students and/or instructors. I think people should always work to assume the best motivation. Like most humans, I fail to do this more often than I’d like to admit, but it also brings to mind something authors must do.

If you want a character to be compelling, you have to make that character’s motivation clear. This is exponentially more important when the character is very different than the reader. The more a reader can relate to a character, the more forgiveness a reader might have. I think some people might debate this, but I stand by the comment.

Establishing believability and connecting to readers is critical. I’ve read plenty of books that weren’t exactly wonderful, but I could stick with it because I was invested in the character. I’ve read books that were honestly well crafted, but I couldn’t stand them because the characters weren’t interesting at all.

For me, that all starts with a clear idea on what that character wants.

Now how does one demonstrate that? We’re supposed to show and not tell. Sure, it might work for Naruto to keep saying, “I’m going to be the greatest Hokage one day!” But while that was a dream, and there were times that motivation helped, his real motivation was bonds. The role of Hokage was a means to an end. So say it as he might, watch how Naruto reacts when someone is treated unfairly or disrespected. Watch how he reacts to any threat to those he loves.

So the technique I’m going to share with you today is establishing motivation by conflict or complication. Try taking something tat is desirable to the normal person, then set it as an obstacle to your character’s main goal. Maybe your character wants to be a millionaire. He wants the associate position and the paycheck that comes with it. One might establish the conflict as that of his wife and family who miss him. It’d be a horrid sinful thing to do, but if that guy were to divorce his wife to keep the job, you’d know his priorities in an instant. Yes, you’d hate him, but you’d understand him better and form expectations for him.

On a happier note, take that same situation, only this time, the guy walks into his office to learn he’s earned the big promotion. They’ll need extra time from him. They have plans to send him to an exotic country with a massive expense account to bring in new clients. The sky’s the limit. One day, he might make full partner. In that moment, all he can think about is how much he’ll miss his wife. He turns to promotion down, even getting fired because he won’t back down. Again, you see his priorities clearly.

So the trick is to take the character’s main goal and set it against another goal most average people would value. We do this in life. I talk about it all the time. People tell me they want to be a writer, but they can’t find the time. I can appreciate the ambition, but there’s probably something else they’re doing. It’s more important than writing if they won’t set it aside to get writing done. Again, I’m not advocating cruelty to loved ones, but maybe not so many video games. Maybe give up a single hour of sleep a night.

When you see a person sacrificing for what they love, you see the love.

Try this out with your characters and see how it affects your story.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review Redawn by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson

Book Review Redawn by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson
The cover for this book was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler free summary: In Redawn by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson, Even as the Galactic Superiority offers peace and placation, the last remaining humans receive a warning in the form of Alanik, the alien who crash landed on Detritus to warn Spensa of the coming threat. She’s woken up, and now she wants to defend her own home, and that will require a different alliance. Secrets are revealed, and everything will change before this battle for Redawn is finished.

Character: The characters and their arcs are the main reasons why this book is surprisingly wonderful. I don’t mean that I didn’t expect it to be fun or good. I just didn’t expect it to be this good. Jorgen absolutely steals the show. The weird part is that the story is told from Alanik’s point of view, an there are times when I feel like I’m reading her summary of Jorgen’s story, and that is awkward. Alanik’s arc is far less interesting than the things going on around her.

Exposition: Other than the necessary reviews that happen with any book in a series, this book is pretty seamless. Honestly, this book flew by for me. It’s probably my second favorite book in the saga (Cytonic was cool for a few reasons). So any time the pages fly, I know it wasn’t bogged down by needless data dumps.

Worldbuilding: We see a new planet and a new culture here. There are some interesting cultural elements in Redawn that I enjoyed. I liked the scope this story created. We’re starting to see the greater universe of this story, and when that’s combined with compelling characters, the story is exponentially better.

This image of Brandon Sanderson was taken from his author bio page on his webite.

Dialogue: One of the biggest character and plot points actually happen as a result of dialogue. Honestly, if one wanted to study up on how to use dialogue to develop character and plot, this book (heck now that I think of it, there are two) is a great case study. The impact moment occurs during the plot. A big turning point. (Now I’ve thought of three!) This book really is packed full of beautiful moments (both good and bad) that work well because of how the dialogue worked.

Description: The description here worked just fine for me. I wonder how fans of hard science fiction would feel about it. Most of the historically best-selling science fiction novels I’ve read have an amount of description and details that annoy me (but not too much). The books I hated are the ones that just annoy me to no end and seem to freeze the plot. This book never comes close to freezing the plot. I’d say there’s probably more description than an average Sanderson novella, but given the amount of new characters and locations we see, it makes sense.

Overall: This book is severely underrated. Yes, it’s a YA novella, but man is it compelling. It exemplifies that a book doesn’t have to be large to be great. If I were a voter, I would actually strongly consider nominating this book on its own for a Hugo in the category. I don’t think it would hold up. Frankly, most Hugo winners are more … contemplative than narrative, but I think this book is fantastic despite what it is (not “for what it is”).

Thanks for reading,

Matt

p.s. I worked very hard to get an image of Janci, but whatever is going on, I can’t seem to save her image.

Vits From A Man Named Nobody 81

Vits From A Man Named Nobody 81

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The door burst open, announcing the EMTs. 

“Mom, you’re going to be OK,” Paul said even as he moved back to allow the to emergency responders to do their jobs.

“I don’t want to be OK!” She sounded as if she were in agony. “I want perfect peace. No pain. No tears.”

Paul stood there staring as the emergency responders worked on his mother, muttering to one another. It might have taken a few minutes; it might have taken forever, but eventually they got her up on the gurney. 

One of the women approached him. “She’s reacting to chemo?” She must have talked to his mother a bit. 

Paul nodded. He was regarded as quite the scientist, but he couldn’t even think about what medications his mother was taking. His intelligence was failing. He had his wretched father’s build and strength, but that couldn’t fight a single cancerous cell. “The list of medications is on the fridge.” The words came out like he was back in college trying to remember a particularly tricky formula. 

The woman nodded. 

“Where are you taking her?” Paul asked. 

Of course, they were taking her to where she got all of her treatments. Why would take her anywhere else. 

The woman helped her partner raise the gurney and they moved toward the ambulance. Paul wasn’t sure if he locked, or even shut, the door behind himself. He just followed the EMTs out to the ambulance. He didn’t know if people were allowed to ride in an ambulance or not, but no one stopped him from climbing inside. 

The trip was quiet. Whether they gave his mother something to help her sleep, or the pain had faded, she seemed to be breathing deeply in sleep. Paul realized he was watching her chest rise and fall again. Every breath was somehow a relief and a threat. 

The ambulance came to a stop, and Paul tried to stay out of the way as they pulled out his mother and rushed her into the emergency room. Paul stopped in the waiting area and watched his mother be carted away. 

She wants to die. Death is a release to her.

A part of Paul remembered something about death being a good thing to Christians. It had to have been something someone said during Bill’s funeral. 

Paul stumbled around, stunned. A distant part of him knew that it would be a long time before anyone knew anything. He just wandered, trying to process what his mother had said. She was obviously in a lot of pain. Was she fighting just to stay with him? Did he want her to suffer like this just for the chance to live longer?

He didn’t even look up as he walked. The white-tiles on the floor of the hospital was the only way he knew he was moving. 

He didn’t want to lose her, but he didn’t want her to suffer. 

The tile floor suddenly turned into a dark, thin carpet. Paul looked up to see a religious area. He certainly didn’t know enough about Christianity or Catholicism to know which the room was built around, but the stain glassed windows that lined the walls to his left and right certainly depicted scenes even he could remember from reading the Bible all those years ago. 

A strange chuckle escaped Paul. One day ago, he’d have grumbled and turned around. He would have been annoyed at just being around a church. That day, Paul realized he would have had to wind up right exactly there. The room was empty. It was strangely quiet given that it was tucked inside a deep corner of a hospital. Four rows of pews led to a small stage where a cross hung behind a podium. 

Paul walked to the far-back pew and sat down. 

“Are you here?” 

Silence responded. 

“Figures,” Paul said. “You never really wanted me to talk to you; did you, Nobody?”

Nobody didn’t want Paul to seek him for guidance. Bill didn’t give advice based on what he thought. They always wanted Paul to go to the one being Paul never really wanted to acknowledge. 

He looked up, and tears flowed from his eyes. 

“I think you hate me.” The words came out in a soft, chocking manner. Even though he wanted nothing more than to sit there and weep, he didn’t know what else to do. 

“I know I said I hate you. You made that man my father. Then you gave me Bill and took him away. I was so angry.”

His head sank. It took him a few moments to gather himself. 

“I am angry. I’m angry all the time, and I don’t want it. But if you are there, then you’re really in charge. If I live in a universe created by an all-powerful God, I have to acknowledge that, that same God is in charge of everything. So I’m powerless. You can do whatever you want. Bill said that what you want most is people to come to you. Nobody said that, too.”

He wasn’t really sure what he was saying. His words were more about collecting his thoughts than anything else. 

“I’m alone. My mom is in there, and she wants to die, but even if she survives this, we all die.”

His voice cracked as more tears fell. “You can do whatever you want. Just please don’t let her hurt anymore.”

He fell forward, resting his arms on the pew in front of himself and burring his head in his arms. 

“I don’t want to lose her. I don’t want to be alone. But I don’t want her to hurt either. I don’t know why you took Bill. I don’t even know who Nobody is or why he hasn’t appeared in so long. All I know is I love my mother, and if anyone is going to save her, it has to be you.”

He looked up. “I’m sorry I hated you. If you’re there, you’re the being in charge of everything, and all I’ve done my whole life is try to fight you.” Paul spread his arms. “I’m done. You can do whatever you want with me. You can do whatever you want to me. I deserve it. I’m angry. I’m violent. I push everyone away. So I I deserve it.”

Paul looked out the door of the church, or whatever it was called. He couldn’t really be sure where his mother was, but he wanted to believe he was looking in her direction. “But she’s done everything I know a person who follows you should. And she’s tried so hard to get me to surrender to you. She’s been patient. Sh—“ He needed another few moments to collect himself. “If you’re there, you’re the one who decides when a person lives or dies. Just don’t let her hurt anymore.”

He waited another moment. 

“But please save her. I need her. I know, that if you’re real, it’s moronic to fight you. It’s just plain stupid to go against you, so of course I need you. I just … please don’t take her from me now. But please don’t make the time I get with her painful.”

He gave another of those odd chuckles. “I keep saying ‘if.’ I don’t know anything. But I think … I think you’re real. And that wouldn’t change if you saved her or you didn’t. I’m just asking, even though I’m the last person you should ever do anything for. My whole life I thought that if you were real, that you owed me, but that was never true. You don’t owe anyone anything. You didn’t have to make us. So I get it. This isn’t a trade. This isn’t a bargain. All I can do is ask, so I’m asking.”

Paul let his head rest on his arm again. He’d said all he could think to say. He didn’t know where else to go, so he just sat there. Eventually, his tears ended and sleep arrived. 

… to be continued …

The Top Five Authors Who Influenced Me

The Top Five Authors Who Influenced Me

Greetings all,

Image from Pixabay.

Whenever I’m struggling to think of things to write in this blog, there’s always a top five list I can do. This time, I thought it’d be fun to share the top five authors who’ve influenced my work.

#5) Stephen King: I’m of two minds here. This is in no way an endorsement of his content. Quite frankly some of his books go to places I’d never want to visit nor would invite others to go. But I’d be lying if I denied his influence on me. This is because of his book On Writing. That book is, in my opinion, the greatest call to action book an author could have. King’s book taught me about the momentum of writing and the importance of consistent reading. It was his book that led me to start writing every night, and ultimately led to the completion of my first (and therefore all) subsequent books.

#4) James Patterson: This may seem a bit odd since I so rarely mention him or his work, but it’s undeniable. I had been a huge fan of the Women’s Murder Club series before I think Book 11, which I feel drastically hindered the main character in the series. However, the pacing of his stories stuck with me, which is why I endeavor to have quick, hard-hitting chapters through the bulk of any of my books.

This image of Dean Koontz was taken from his Amazon author page so I can say what an impact he’s had on my writing. Please don’t sue me.

#3) Dean Koontz: I pretty much read a ton of Dean Koontz, and I love Odd Thomas. If someone were to make the accusation of Bob Drifter was only a little more than an Odd Thomas ripoff, I’d probably just thank them. Dean as cleverly adorable dialogue and charming characters. From him I learned how powerful a sympathetic character was.

#2) Robert Jordan: The Wheel of Time is my second favorite series of all time. One day, I hope people are theorizing about my books the same way that my brother and I spent hours talking about certain aspects of the Prophecies of the Dragon. I’m still trying to diagnose and understand how he worked his worldbuilding and foreshadowing to such a refined degree. I’ve tried it a few times (and maybe not in the stories you think), but I think I have some more to learn before I can make a true attempt (though that’s coming.)

Honorable Mentions: So obviously if Dragon Riders of Pern is my favorite series of all time, Anne McCaffrey would be high on my list, and if this were a list of my favorite authors of all time, she’d be on it. However, what she did best (her worldbuilding) is something I aspire to, but it’s just not a skill I think I have at the moment. Also, Leo Tolstoy is among my favorite authors. I don’t know if I can call him my favorite anymore, but he holds a special place in my heart. However, like McCaffrey, as much as I love his writing, I just don’t know that he impacted my writing as much as those on this list.

This image of Brandon Sanderson was taken from his website.

#1) Brandon Sanderson: This certainly hasn’t been a secret I’ve kept, though I’m not certain I’ve proclaimed this as overtly as I am here. No author or person has inspired me or impacted me more on any level. Write About Dragons is pretty much the foundation on which I built my workflow as an author. Writing Excuses gave the discovery writer in me focus. I honestly wish I had (or took the time) to listen to it. But if I’m listening to anything, it’s probably an audio book. It was Brandon of encouraged me (personally during an event) to put my work out there even if I had to do so by self publishing. I’ve met him a few times, and I don’t know that he’ll ever truly understand just how wonderful and motivating he’s been in my life as an author and a fan of fiction. Top that off with his prolific determination, and it’s easy to call him the most impactful author to my career.

So there you have it. If you’re a writer, how does my list compare to yours?

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Defending Your Faith by R.C. Sproul

Book Review: Defending Your Faith by R.C. Sproul

In Defending Your Faith: An Introduction to Apologetics, R.C. Sproul seeks to defend two simple claims for the defense of Christian truth. They are: God’s existence and the authority of the Bible.

I picked this book up because apologetics fascinate me. While I was hoping for more archeological and scientific information, this book is still wonderful for what it does do.

Before anyone takes my previous statement too far, please do not misunderstand. What I meant was more in depth archeological study. This book is actually quite analytical and scientific. In fact, it begins with a clear distinction between the terms contradiction, paradox, and absurdity. It then continues with its truth statements using certain criteria. One I remember is two different things cannot be true at the same time in the same circumstance.

Sproul bases his arguments on the fact that if his two main points are true, everything else must be, and that much is true.

So here I state a fundamental principle. None but those who are called will come to saving faith. Apologetics are intellectually valuable, but without God’s intervention, a human cannot come to believe. We are, however, tasked to defend our faith and share the good news, so those two principles are a fantastic place to start. C.S. Lewis started his series Mere Christianity in much the same way. 1) There is a God. 2) It is the Christian God. 3) His word is authoritative.

Sproul doesn’t simply provide evidence for those statements. He also provides counterargument to several other views.

This book is absolutely worth reading for Christians and non-Christians alike. For those just seeking to understand fundamental Christian beliefs, this book (obviously the best would be the Bible) is a reasonable summary. For Christians seeking a better understanding and manner to defend their faith, it not only provides comforting evidence, but counterpoints that answer questions I know I had when I was younger in my faith.

Thanks for reading,

V/R
Matt

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 80

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 80

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Twenty-Four

May 29, 2038, 10:34 p.m. 

13 Years, 189 Days Ago

Paul gently held his mother as she retched. Her heaving stomach had long since emptied itself of it contents. She wept. 

“It hurts!” The statement was barely a whisper, but it still carried with it the implication of immense pain. 

She heaved again. Despite doing so for at least five minutes, nothing came out. Each time she finished convulsing, she fought to take in a breath before another wave of nausea hit her. It was like she was being suffocated by the illness. 

“I’m here,” Paul said. “I’m sorry. I … I don’t know what to do.”

Each bout of nausea got worse after each treatment. This session, the fourth, there was no optimism as they sat the treatment room, and Derek administered the treatment. They waited for the inevitable aftermath, and it came just five hours after they got home.

This time, Paul’s mother didn’t even sleep. She didn’t eat. She just went into her bathroom and waited with Paul, and the nausea, as expected, hit harder than ever. 

Paul stared at his mother as she heaved again, but this time, something plopped into the bowl. 

Paul glanced inside and froze. Dark red blood swirled in the water, changing it’s color in a terrifying moment. 

“We’re taking you in,” Paul said. 

He tapped his PID, activating it so he could press the emergency button. After a few painful moments, during which his mother coughed more blood into the toilet, a man’s face appeared on the PID.

“Emergency services. An ambulance is already on the way. My name is Don. Please tell me the emergency.”

“My mom’s coughing up blood,” Paul said. “She’s been going through chemotherapy, and they told me to report any blood immediately.”

Don’s holographic head nodded. “Someone will be there soon. Are there any other symptoms.”

“It hurts,” Paul’s mother whined. “I feel like my head is going to explode. God, I don’t want to do this any more. I don’t want this pain. Lord, I’m ready. Call me home and end this suffering.”

Paul fell back against the bathtub as if he were shoved. Did she really just ask to die? Is the pain that bad?

A siren screamed in the distance, and Paul shook his head and sucked in a breath. “Let’s get you up.”

He reached over to help his mother up, but she tried to push him away. “I said I’m done!” Though the comment was barely audible, the anger in her tone was clear.

“OK,” Paul said. “I’ll just go let them in.”

He rushed to the door. Coincidentally, the ambulance came to a stop in front of the house right as Paul opened the door. The large white vehicle’s hybrid engine seemed to both rumble and whine at the same time. Red lights flashed on the top of the vehicle. 

Two people, both women, exited the front doors and quickly walked to the back. They opened the rear side of the ambulance and rolled out a gurney. 

“The door is open!” Paul shouted. “We’re in the bathroom in the master bedroom.”

Paul didn’t wait for any reply, rushing back to his mother. 

He got to the bathroom and found her sitting on the stool crying. She held herself, awkwardly crossing her arms in front of her chest and yet still twisting her hands around so they could clasp together. 

“I can’t do it anymore!” Her comments came in quiet whispers of agony. “Please take this pain. Please don’t make me go through any more.”

“The ambulance is here,” Paul said. “They’re going to get you to the hospital and make you feel better.”

She looked at him, her full lips trembling, holding in a scream. She took a deep breath. “I don’t want to feel better,” she said. “I want the pain to stop.”

“That’s …” Paul didn’t understand. 

“I don’t want comfort,” she said. “I want it to end.”

“I … “  Paul couldn’t think.

“I love you,” she said. “I’m sorry I can’t fight any more. I just can’t do this any more.”

… to be continued …

It’s About Time to Look at the Marketing

It’s About Time to Look at the Marketing

Greetings all,

This image is

It’s not that I haven’t been marketing. But sometimes you have to let the stew heat for a little while before you take a taste.

I suppose that’s an awful metaphor. I’ve been monitoring things since Amazon changed it’s policies. My sales (except for that beautiful Hazel) are down. The good news is my cost of marketing is down, but (understandably) so are my sales because my books aren’t getting the visibility they used to.

The knee jerk reaction would be to bump up my bids, but that would be a terrible idea. The simple, boring solution I intend to activate is just keep trusting the system that has seen improvement.

I don’t anticipate doing any work on Caught’s marketing. The content probably won’t allow it. So I’ll keep building on the others, and see if there is progress. I’ve also learned to track individual books. Caught used to be my best seller, and the policy change definitely impacted that. So I have to work more on each book and see if there’s improvement on each book.

So that’s the plan going forward. I won’t start on this until after the May 15, but starting then, I’ll look at the data and work on some more key words. I have at least three months of new data to look at, so that’s at least somewhere to start.

As always, I’ll keep you updated on how things are going.

Thanks for reading,
Matt

Book Review Sunreach by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson

Book Review Sunreach by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson

Spoiler free summary: In Sunreach by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson, FM and Jorgen must work together to understand the Taynix and how they are able to do the amazing things they do, but the Galactic Superiority is working that much harder to eradicate humanity before they have that chance.

Character: The book takes advantage of the relationship readers probably have with these characters already. I think people just picking up this book might not really connect because they don’t have the same history. They’re not bad or boring at all, but the bulk of my sympathy for these characters was developed in the first Skyward Flight book. What I appreciate is that these characters grow. We see them evolve from that book. It’s not just more of FM or more of Jorgen, it’s a true continuation of their development as characters, development we wouldn’t have had without these novellas.

Exposition: Given that this novella is a side project from a larger series, there are several points where information dumps are just plain necessary. While they do exist in this story, they occur at proper times and in the proper amount. It’s sort of like being forced to eat your vegetables during your meal. It’s probably not your favorite it part, but it really does balance everything out.

Worldbuilding: I’d say the bulk of this book itself is based on worldbuilding. It’s like a giant demonstration on how the magic system of this world works. Normally, that would annoy me. What makes it work is we get character development and progression woven in with all the technical fine points. I don’t know if the most stout fans of hard scienc fiction would enjoy this. I don’t know that the most stout fans of epic fantasy would like this. They might. But what I do know is that fans of both worldbuilding and character development will enjoy it.

This image of Brandon Sanderson was taken from his author bio page on his webite.

Dialogue: This felt like a typical Sanderson novel. A little wit, a little snark, a dash of off hand punchlines, and we have ourselves an entertaining story. I read Chasing the Skip by Patterson a long while back, and she had that same flavor. It’s not surprising given their professional relationship. I saw a few v-logs about this series, and some people were down on this series because it wasn’t an exclusive Sanderson story. I don’t really feel that way. This was fun. I blasted through it and the rest of the series quickly. That speaks well of it, and the dialogue is one reason it was so easy to read.

Description: I honestly think I could have had a bit more here. I’ve seen Brandon show pictures of Doomslug, but the writing (and name) feel a bit off to me. Now there is enough of it for me to get a better picture, but for half the saga, I’ve been thinking a Taynix as something that might fit in your hand (you know, like a slug), but I think one was described as roughly the size of a loaf of bread (I think). So the visuals could be a bit stronger here, especially since we’re looking at creatures that don’t exist. However, this didn’t bother me as much as it might others. I don’t honestly care what stuff looks like, so I tend to glaze over description anyway. But as I think back, I realize it’s a bit hard for me to picture some of the elements of this story.

Overall: This was a pretty nice little story. I’m glad I stuck with it, because the others are so much better, but this one sort of tops out at “not bad.” The characters are sympathetic, and the magic system is interesting. I made the effort to listen to this story (audiobook) because I was already invested in the saga as a whole. I don’t think it would do well as an introduction to the series, but I do think it’s a fantastic side story in a very underrated saga.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

p.s. I worked very hard to get an image of Janci, but whatever is going on, I can’t seem to save her image.

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 79

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 79

PT1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 // PT 25 // PT 26 // PT 27 // PT 28 // PT 29 // PT 30 // PT 31 // PT 32 // PT 33 // PT 34 // PT 35 // PT 36 // PT 37 // PT 38 // PT 39 // PT 40 // PT 41 // PT 42 // PT 43 // PT 44 // PT 45 // PT 46 // PT 47 // PT 48 // PT 49 // PT 50 // PT 51 // PT 52 // PT 53 // PT 54 // PT 55 // PT 56 // PT 57 // PT 58 // PT 59 // PT 60 // PT 61 // PT 62 // PT 63 // PT 64 // PT 65 // PT 66 // PT 67 // PT 68 // PT 69 // PT 70 // PT 71 // PT 72 // PT 73 // PT 74 // PT 75 // PT 76 // PT 77 // PT 78 //

Each time she took in a deep, restful breath, he took a bite, but he didn’t realize that was what he was doing until he was halfway through his meal. He set the bowl down and just watched her.

A series of agonizingly long minutes passed until he picked up the bowl and went right back to rewarding each of her breaths with another bite of food. It was literally all he could do. Sure he called the hospital and helped her get back to bed, but he was utterly powerless in this situation. 

He set the bowl back down; there were only a few stray noodles remaining. Paul pulled out his note pad. The truth was no man every really had any power in any situation. A person could exercise, eat right, see a doctor and dentist regularly, and still end up killed just as easily as anyone else. 

Paul imagined most people understood all of that, but the illusion of power gave comfort. Paul’s mother was aways strong and beautiful, even now. She ate right and lived a life most people would describe as good no matter what their beliefs. Regardless, there she was, lying in a bed and completely helpless to do anything. 

Paul threw the notepad down in frustration. The slap it made on the hardwood floor caused his mother’s eyes to burst open.

Idiot! He couldn’t even reign in his temper for the sake of his mother?

She looked around, smiling when her eyes met his, and then smiling wider when she saw the bowl still steaming on her night stand. 

“Is that for me?” she asked.

Paul smiled. “I wasn’t sure if you were hungry or not, and I didn’t mean to wake you; I’m sorry.”

She gave a soft chuckle, and Paul grimaced as she winced in pain. “I’m sure whatever it was won’t do whatever it did again.” She must have noticed his concern as he stood. “I just felt a moment of discomfort.” She reached out a grabbed his hand. “I’m OK, and I’d love a few sips of that broth.” She pulled back her hand.

Paul nodded and sat back down. He picked up the bowl and scooped up some of its contents.

Paul had created machines that could generate vacuum fields without the aide of any containment device. All of that required skill and dexterity, but in all his life, he’d never been so cautious and gentle than he was in those moments. 

She opened her mouth, and he guided the spoon to her lips, letting her slowly sip the liquid in. She gave a thin-lipped smile and let out a contented sigh. “I’m truly blessed to have a son who cares for me so.”

Paul let out a frustrated chuckle, but her eyes caught his.

“Should I focus on the pain?” she asked. “Should I focus on my concerns? Am I such a fool for choosing to be grateful for what I do have? Am I so stupid and naive for counting what good things I can count?”

“Of course not,” Paul replied. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to laugh like that.” He completed his apology with another spoonful of broth.

“I know you’re worried about me,” she said. “And I love you. And I’ve had my fair share of doubt and sadness and even anger. But if I just think for a minute about all the wonderful things I have, I can smile.” She did so, looking at him. “The first thing I always think of is you.”

“I was the worst son ever.” Paul scooped up more soup. 

She accepted another bite but them lied down. “I could say the same about my parenting skills.”

“Don’t go there,” Paul said. “We talked about that. What were you supposed to do?”

Her eyes were almost shut when the question came out, but they popped back open. “Care for you. Protect you.” A single tear rolled down her cheek. 

Paul thought for a moment. “You believe in forgiveness.”

“I have to,” she said.

“Whatever you may have done, whatever you’ve done in my life, know that the only thing I think about is how wonderful you’ve been to me.” The tone and forcefulness in his voice seemed to increase as he spoke. “I don’t think you need my forgiveness because I don’t hold it against you, but if that’s something you’re still holding on to, then know that I forgive you.” 

“Thank you,” she said softly. “And, you, who said you were such a bad son, you’ve made me so proud. I want the world for you. I love you, and I think you’re a wonderful son to me. Whatever you think you’ve done, I forgive you. You are my son, with whom I am well pleased.”

That last part tickled something in Paul’s mind, and he couldn’t understand why the phrase hit him as hard as it did. Whatever the reason, Paul had to scrub at his face and sniff in a suddenly runny nose. 

“So it’s settled,” he said. “We’ve forgiven each other, and I’m going to take care of you until you’re healthy.”

“That’s nice.” Her eyes drifted shut.

“I’ll be here when you wake,” he said. “I won’t leave you.”

“That’s … so … kind.” 

“I love you.” 

“Mmm hmm mm hmmmm.” 

Paul watched her sleep, careless of the time. He sat by her side and just watched until sleep came to claim him, too.

Revisions on 1,200 Are Going Slowly

Revisions on 1,200 Are Going Slowly

Greetings all,

Just a bit of an update today. When I sent Discovered out for Alpha Readers, I started on revisions to 1,200. The book really seems to be shaping up in a good way, but they are going slowly. There are two reasons for this.

First, I was a much less mature writer when I wrote 1,200 originally. There are things the book needs just to give it the depth it deserves. That means some additional chapters and a bit more development and (a lot more) description.

That leads to the next issue. Back when I wrote this, I hadn’t started generating character sheets like I do now. So what I’m doing is generating a character sheet each time I encounter a character. That’s really what’s taking so much time. I keep having to stop. But this is worth it. Back in those days, I really leaned into my discovery writing tendencies, which made it easy to type, but don’t help very much when I’m trying to be consistent with (or have any) description. Once I get the bulk of these character sheets generated, the revisions will go by much more quickly.

I’m still a little more than a week out from when I asked Alphas to get Discovered back to me, but I’m nowhere near done with 1,200 yet. I do plan to finish this set of revisions before doing the Alpha Draft of Discovered.

I haven’t heard any good or bad news about Discovered, and that’s fine. I only mention it because I would give you updates if I had any. I tend to leave my Alphas and Betas alone. They don’t get paid or anything, so the least I can do is leave them be. I don’t know that I’ve ever had any be late, so it’s worked.

Once I get through revisions on 1,200, I’ll get back at Discovered, and get that over to my editor for a developmental edit.

I just wanted to give you all an update. I’m working as hard as I can given circumstances, and I will keep you up to date on my progress.

As always, I thank you for your support. It means a lot to me.

Thanks for reading,

Matt