Social Media 101: Facebook

Social Media 101: Facebook

As of the end of July, 2012, Facebook has over 955 Million users across the globe.  When you look at it in world numbers, that means that 1 out of 7 people in the world are using Facebook in some way.  As a professional, not having a Facebook page is a missed opportunity to promote yourself.

Today’s post is all about how to start using Facebook, the difference between a profile and a page, and how to use a page to start interacting with other users to build that fanbase who will in turn start purchasing your work.

It’s a time consuming job, but if you can learn the basics, it will give you a good start to having a career and people begging you for more.

Click Here to read the rest, and enjoy!

 

Social Media 101: Basics

Social Media 101: Basics

After my successful lecture at DragonCon about using Social Media as a creative person, I am now bringing my lecture notes to my website so that you can learn about using social media even if you were unable to attend the lecture.

Today, we’re starting off the with basic rules of using Social Media so that no matter what sites you decide to base your marketing strategies on, you know some very easy and basic guidelines on what you should, and shouldn’t do.

The next installments will break down some of the major sites, so see you next time when I take on the biggest of them all: Facebook.

 

Preview- Anton Child of Hermes

Preview- Anton Child of Hermes

As a special treat, I’ve put up a sneak peak to my YA novel Anton: Child of Hermes.

Instead of posting the first chapter, I decided to drop you right into the beginning of one of the conflicts that Anton has to face in his life.  At this point of the story, he is now 13 years old and has lived among the centaurs since he was 8.

The last five years of his life have been spent with him as the sole human in a world that hates his kind from the stories that have been passed down from generation to generation about the human race.  Being faced with a ritual that he must go through to prove his worth to the tribes, Anton will risk his life to prove that he is more than what they believe.

This challenge that Anton faces with the centaurs is very important to the book, and it mirrors the quest that his entire life will become to the eyes of the Gods.  That is, of course, if he lives through it.

Enjoy, and leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Swordfighting 101: Frying Pans

Swordfighting 101: Frying Pans

One of the very first weapons that I learned in my combat classes in college was how to wield a frying pan.  It was dubbed “clown fighting” because of the ridiculousness you feel using a frying pan as a weapon.  However, any chef worth their weight in hummus can tell you just how deadly these seemingly useless pans can be.

Depending on what kind of pan your character happens to grab in their kitchen while being attacked will greatly depend on what that pan can do.  We’ll look at three specific sizes: the “one egg” pan, then normal skillet, and the wok.

First, start with the size and weight of the pan.  A lot of this will also depend on the type of pan you have.  Cast iron pans can cause a lot more weight damage, but they will also be a lot heavier to wield.  The newer Teflon pans will be lighter, but they will also break easily.  You will also need to look at the handle.  Is it welded on, or have a tiny screw that keeps it in place?  Ones that are screwed on will break off on a solid hit to someone, whereas welded ones have a bit more resistance.

Next, you will want to look at the size of the base of the frying pan.  This is going to be your impact area.  The wider the base, the more of the body it can hit.  The larger the pan is will also make it a bit less wind-resistant when swinging – stupid physics.  Let’s say you’re aiming for the head – the “one egg” one will probably break a jaw with a good swing because it will be able to impact all your energy into a small area.  The wok and regular pan will hit the entire face, but the impact will also spread over it.  This will more than likely  cause a headache with a regular pan, but could rattle the brain and knock out the victim on a cast iron pan.

You can also “stab” with a frying pan.  Holding onto the handle of a regular pan and thrust into the stomach of the attacker can knock the wind out of them (and then follow up with an uppercut of the pan to their chin to knock their head backwards and out cold!).  This won’t work as well with a “one egg” as it’s a smaller circumference around the pan, however it is better suited for swinging at hands to disarm knives.

The wok is awkward for stabbing motions as the top of the wok is wider than the base and will lose the force from the handle due to the shape of it.   Woks are great, though, for using it’s special bowl-like design to cup a shoulder or a head to make the person move and throw them off balance.

Never use the handle of a frying pan as a weapon.  They are fragile and it is awkward to hold onto the pan side and use it to fight.

There are other things that you can add to a fight scene using a frying pan in a kitchen fight:

Heat: having the pan sitting on the stove waiting to be used would have the base of the pan nice and hot. Remember that some pans have a spiral design on the bottom, so if they get hit with that on flesh, it will leave behind a burn in the design.

Cooking: was the person already cooking something?  They can fling the food at the person attacking them, and then fight with a hot pan.  Bonus if there is hot oil or grease in the pan – that could end the fight right there.

Also, remember the realism for frying pan scenes: a regular frying pan will only last a few good hits before it’s dented or the handle breaks. If it’s a colored pan, chances are that the color has flaked off.  Also, ones that are treated to be non-stick have a coating that will break off into white flakes when dented as well.  The wielder’s arm will get tired fast swinging around a cast iron pan if they are not used to using their arm muscles for prolonged periods of time.

The best advice I can give on choosing the weapon for your character comes down to have you have in your house so that you can understand your weapon as your character uses it. Frying pans can be a fun weapon to wield in any story, as long as you keep the believability of it to the scene.  Enjoy finding a way to bring this into your next novel!

 

Image from Tangled © Walt Disney Pictures.
Swordfighting 101: Knives

Swordfighting 101: Knives

I received an e-mail from MACE reminding me that June is Knife Fighting Awareness Month, and felt that it was my duty to pass along a good set of information to my readers about this deadly weapon and how your characters can wield it.

Everyone knows what a knife looks like – you have some right in your kitchen.  In combat terms, it’s defined as a metal or stone blade, extending from a handle.  There is no set “length” when a knife becomes classified as a sword, but it’s more on the style of the blade.  The average changeover though can be around 12-18 inches when it becomes classified as a sword.  In the USA, the police are given the distinction on being able to classify whether the blade is a sword or knife in arrests.

There are many different kinds of knifes which are variations of the style of blade and the handle.  Some other names you may have heard of would include switchblades, balisongs, daggers, poignard, dirks, bayonets,  stilettos (not the shoes), machetes, bowies, and countless others in many languages.  You can also put a shiv into this classification, but they are “knife like” weapons that are usually handmade by someone (i.e. a prisoner in jail) and can contain multiple pieces, uneven edges, and break easily.

When you’re choosing a knife for your character, you will want to look very closely at the time period you’re writing in, the country the character originated in, and if they are in the military, the history of the types of weapon that specific branch had.  A common place reader may not know the difference between blades, but if you are writing military fiction, you will want to be as exact as you can in the description, even if you never name the blade itself.

Obviously, if your character has a history where they got their blades from a gunrunner, then you can have fun finding the deadliest looking knife that would capture their eye.  Weapons have histories, though, so you would want to respect it if you’re going to make your character use the knife more than just cutting his steak or something he grabbed from the pawn shop.  You can have fun creating a glorious family history for a weapon, and will find that your audience may make the weapon a “character” in your story if you do it right.

Depending on what kind of genre you’re writing in, you can also create your own knife design for your character.  However, unless you plan to include a picture of the weapon in your novel or a rendition of it on your website, you will want to use a knife that already exists in our world somewhere and then build off it.  That way the reader can have an image in their head to start off with.

 

Now onto the combat itself – knife on knife fights are very rare in the real world.  There is the phrase from The Untouchables about bringing a knife to a gun fight… now those kinds of fights are a lot more common in the real world, with hand vs. hand, and gun vs. gun being the most common.  Your character would have to have a reason to have the knife on them as opposed to other weapons, and hope that their opponent doesn’t carry something that has a bang to it.

A knife fight is very personal, as you have to be up close to your opponent to attack them (unless you’re throwing the knife)

There are four ways to grip a normal knife, and they are best described by where your thumb is while holding it.I’ve linked a video below that will show you visually each of the grips described.

The first position is the one people use every day.  The knife is held in your hand with the thumb on the handle right before the blade starts.  This is a good “cutting” position. It is called the forward saber grip in Jujutsu. It extends the blade out in front of you the longest distance from your body, and allows you to attack objects that are coming at you from any direction.  If you are swiping the blade across, you can put your thumb on the back of the blade if it has a dull side, and that will add force and pressure to your blade if you hit an object.  It does not help, though, if you have a double-sided blade since you risk cutting into your own thumb when you hit resistance.

The second position is where the thumb is tucked under the handle, similar to how you hold a hammer, and the blade is pointing up.  This is the forward hammer grip in Jujutsu.  Your hand will have a stronger grip on the knife, but you lose distance with this grip since the blade isn’t able to extend as far.  This grip is better for this up close knife fights where you are thrusting the knife upwards and into body parts.

The third is the reverse hammer grip.  Basically it is the same as above, but it is with the blade pointing down.  It’s commonly known as the “Psycho” grip, being made famous in the movie when used by the character Normal Bates.  It’s a grip that has you stabbing downwards, but you can also use it to slash since your arm will follow along with the blade, bringing your arm to protect your body as well as using your elbow to follow up with hits.

And the fourth is reverse saber grip, in which the blade rests against your forearm and your thumb is along the bottom of the handle.  It’s really a defensive grip, in which you can hide the blade and attack only if needed.  It’s not a cutting or a stabbing grip, but can be used to slash at an enemy if they get too close.

Most straight knives, like early swords, lack a fuller (the blood groove) from later swords.  Because of this, there is always a good chance that a blade can get stuck inside of the body when stabbed because of the suction.  It can also become stuck in ribs and the spine if aimed there.  The longer the blade is, the more likely it is to happen.

There are also knifes with serrated edges that will allow the person to cut through bone.  These are found on many hunter knives, as well as some military knifes.

 

Like always, before you start to write out a fight scene, watch a few movies that have good scenes in them to see how the body moves with the weapon. Don’t know where to start?  Independent File Channel put together a list of their 15 Favorite Movie Knife Scenes that can start you off.  I recommend the one for The Hunted.

And remember: You don’t need to be too detailed in each swing of the weapon, but it will help you choreograph the fight in your head so you know what happens and can decide what to describe, and what to just imply.  Don’t bore the reader since they will want to imagine the scene in their own heads.  Just give them enough to go off of that can make them see what you want them too.

Enjoy writing that knife fight!

 

Other Resources:

10 Deadliest Combat Knifes / Daggers : In you are in need of picking a knife for your villain, here is a nice list to shop off of.

Knife Fighting Basics – The Grip : This video from Jujutsu.org will show you visually the four grips.

How to Throw a Knife: There are a lot of YouTube videos on knife throwing.  This gentleman breaks it down really well.

A Fine Line: Second Free Preview

A Fine Line: Second Free Preview

Grace and skill come only after years of experience and practice.  The young can only watch their elders in the hope to gain the knowledge that they wish to possess.  Once they gain it, though, arrogance is sure to follow.

Such is the story of Master Price ord’Vanele.

 

A Fine Line, affectionately dubbed “Herrick’s Tale”, is a short story that I first started in May of 2000.  It is about the two of the most unlikeliest of heroes uniting together for a not-so common goal in the classic fantasy adventure style tale.

Two weeks ago, I shared with you Chapter 1.  Today, I would like to introduce you to the other main character of this tale, Master Price ord’Vanele, in Chapter 2.

Enjoy!

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