They Rocked into Germany

I’ve wanted to post about this for a little while, simply because I’m a big fan of history, and an even bigger fan of fighting battles without drawing blood. This whole story epitomizes that:

When an Army of Artists Fooled Hitler


I like to feel the base when I ride to battle!

I know what you’re thinking: you can’t simply rock your way into Mordor, but that’s totally what they did. Just with the sound of an army instead of amazing guitar riffs. Oh and the tanks they had with them on this super dangerous & secret mission? Inflatable. These folks must have had the nerve of steel to do this, and they carried it out without a hitch for a full year.

I can’t even imagine the guts that would take. On top of that, their 20 operations throughout the war are estimated to have saved 15,000 – 30,000 U.S. lives, not to mention the lives of other nations.

There’s just so much I love about this concept: a high-stakes situation being played on a bluff. I know there are plenty of stories like this in history, including the fake movie in the Iranian hostage crisis, the cleverness of spies during the Civil War, among countless others; but it’s great to see what a mixture of ingenuity, artistic talent, and guts can accomplish. It’s a testament to the fact that big problems can be solved with a little bit of smoke and mirrors. Sometimes I think it feels easier to take the obvious action instead of betting on a dangerous side-route, especially when you’re dealing with something as big as World War II.

In plenty of stories that I write, I tend to lean toward characters that are not at all what they appear to be. I’ve made a werewolf pretend to be the victim of a vampire to fool an old man, and turned a cute baby into a coarse detective’s worst partner. It’s important to see that there are plenty of things that shouldn’t be taken at face value in life, but it’s also necessary to imagine: What if?

You never know if you’ll be cherry picked to paint the super top secret project of creating an inflatable tank.

Happy Halloween!

It’s definitely one of my favorite times of the year. Amazing costumes, spooky buildings, and a butt-load of candy – what’s not to love? We had our Halloween bash last weekend and even though it was epic, I admit I’m still a little worn down from it. Just so you know, Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3D is one of the funniest horror films I’ve seen in a while if only for the cheesy 3D effects. Popcorn in the face? Check. Joint being passed to the screen? Check. Do I even have to mention it was made in the 80s?

Even though we never seem to have many Trick or Treaters in our neighborhood since we moved in three years back, I always still hope for the occasional few to drop in. We’ve got a bag of candy all set to go. We’ll probably be enjoying a good Halloween flick like Grave Encounters or Trick ‘r Treat while we wait around tonight, but I’m still not expecting much of a turn out. With the temperatures piddling around between the 40s and 50s overnight, I don’t think many kids will want to be out when it’s so cold. But you never know, we may be surprised.

Tomorrow NaNo begins, and I think I’m ready to tackle my latest project. I’ll probably disregard my failed starts and begin again fresh. Feels like I got all the so-so openings out of my system so I can actually get to the heart of the book. Yesterday I filled out a 12-point quick outline in the style Theresa Hupp mentioned on her blog. Couldn’t remember how many points it was supposed to have when I worked on it, but it really helped me get a feel for the direction the novel needs to take. It also gave me some ideas for how to work in subplots and, most importantly, it got me brainstorming on the villain. I needed to get a handle on her before I sat down to write. I figured out what her short-term goal is at least which is way more than I had before. I think I like Theresa’s method because I hate to be boxed in with my writing. This outline is flexible enough to change at any time and structured enough to give me direction with the story.

What are you planning for Halloween? If you’re gearing up for NaNo, what are you doing to prepare?


Maps and Trains of the 1880s

So a few nights ago I did a whole bunch of research for my NaNo novel, a supernatural adventure tale set in 1880s New Orleans. I had to figure out of what kind of method they would use to travel from the location I left off in the last book, a city in Texas, to New Orleans. Now that sounds a lot easier than it actually was.

I knew they would be traveling by train. That much I had figured out, but the details were still nagging at me. How long would that take? What kind of seating does an overnight train have? Would they have their own little cubby hole or would they need to be mindful of people sitting close around them?

Considering the “special needs” of my main characters, these were very important facts to know. Luckily I have the internet, and there are all sorts of details if you have the time and patience to go sorting through it.

  • LA & New Orleans Maps – Louisiana and New Orleans maps for as far back as 1722, complete with one that shows just how devastating the fire of 1788 was to the city. I have a feeling I’ll be referencing this one a bunch.
  • Absolute Write Water Cooler – When is this site *not* on your resource listing? Some excellent resources and links here that really helped me pinpoint my research. Having a timeframe for train travel, and more importantly knowing what tracks were in use when, I discovered was absolutely essential.
  • Missouri Pacific Railroad Map – I hate to say it, but I don’t quite remember where I picked this image up from. It was early in my researching, and you end up following different links, you know how it is. I think it might have been from Central Pacific Railroad Museum site, but I can’t recall. Anyway, it’s a huge file, so I’ve linked it on the side.
  • Rails West – Another cool site that helped me get a handle on how long a typical train ride would be. Apparently it would take 7 days to go across country, but often there would be a stopover location for a day or two. This site also helped me figure out the sleeping arrangements in 1880s train travel: Pullman Sleepers.

The Pullman Sleepers were pretty fascinating, and how they were configured would greatly impact the storyline. Here is a good example:

Those large glass cases over the head? They fold out into beds, like so:

Kind of amazing to see the kind of close quarters you would have to take during that time period. We have a much different definition of personal space these days. Of course the really updated version looked far more like something we would expect to see these days:

Anyway that’s all I have for today. Just random interesting tidbits from my latest writing! You never know where it’ll take you, am I right?

Update 9/2019 – I noticed a lot of the images in this post were broken since they were posted on Photobucket ages ago. So I’ve transferred them over to my main site for hosting. This is one of my most visited posts on my site after all these years, so I’m hoping this helps!

Waiting patiently for TDKR… sure, right

So I’ve been on a big Batman kick lately. I’ve been really looking forward to the next film, and looking for whatever I can find to hold me over until the movies comes out this time next month. It’s the final part of the three-part series, and I have big hopes for it. Bane will be amazing, I’m sure, and even if one of my favorite villains doesn’t make an appearance, I’m sure Bane will keep things interesting. He’s good about that after all.

I was thinking about going back and reading through Knightfall again just to refresh my memory of Bane and his various henchmen, but I think I’ll wait until after the movie. I don’t want to get my hopes up too high after all. Instead here is some amazing Joker dub-step that my sister found earlier today. The voice overs are great, and this should be epic driving music for the week!

As far as writing goes, I’m plugging along with some fun action scenes, but getting back into them can be tough. Think I’ll stop here and pick up the scene tomorrow over lunch. I tend to be able to concentrate better that way. Earlier today I was totally in the mode and looked up to see my lunch hour had ended. Then tonight I just can’t get into the groove again. It should come back to me tomorrow though, at least it better!

Word metrics, or see how close I am to completing Camp NaNo!? Less thank 7k! I’ve knocked out over 50k in the past four weeks, so I surely can eek out a few more thousand words, right?

Project: Secrets of Leekston

Summary: Leekston is an unassumingly quiet southern town, but it hides many secrets. An unusual government entity studies the supernatural activity in the area, but for what purpose? A crazy scientist runs a research lab of particular patients, and his daughter may pay the price for the people he’s maimed. Six years after the incident at the Kayak Hills subdivision, sixteen year-old Suzie Daper once again must protect her family, this time from a bloodthirsty werewolf pack bent on destroying anyone standing in the way of their vengeance.

Current total words: 92,591
New words written: 1,558

Total Words for 2012: 105,592

Sending out a Few Submissions

Not too much in the way of updates today, but I did send out several resubmissions to a few prospective magazines. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I’ll be hearing back from a few of them. Let’s see, according to Duotrope I have 2 fantasy, 2 horror, 1 sci fi, and 1 reprint currently in the review process, 3 of which were submitted just today. Whew, that’s all just old stuff that I’m still shopping around. I have a couple of new pieces on the table needing some final edits and last-minute reviewing before I add them to the pool.

It’s slow business getting short stories published, but once they get picked up, you want to throw a party.

In other news, I found out that Neil Gaiman was doing some Q&A over on his Twitter feed. Here are a few that really tickled me:

No. Hell no. GOD no. @LLStories: Do you reread your own work for pleasure?


Bloody Hell. 246 new questions since the last 150. WHAT HAVE I STARTED? I hope you are all telling me to stop…


Write. @Quicksilver1953: What’s the single most effective thing a young person can do to become a writer?

Finally, here’s a bit from Mad Hatter, probably the biggest hopeless romantic there is. Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!

Mad Hatter Valentines by Ask That Chap in the Hat