Sunday, August 14, 2016

Time to let the imagination free again!

I'm scanning my outlining notes for my 'Arlo and Jake' Scifi series, feeding the basic story line to my imagination. It's like putting a pot on the stove and adding everything in the frig that hasn't spoiled yet. Makes for a great stew!

I'm rereading the first 3 books, and taking notes on new ideas that pop out. The outline is already there but of course that's just a guideline. Something to start with, not set in stone. That doesn't work for me.

I know it does for other authors. They sketch out entire books before starting Chapter One. Wow, that sounds really boring. I like to get a good, solid plot in my head and then let my characters loose. I never know where they'll go!

For me it's a process. I dream up lots of cool ideas, some outlandish characters, new side kicks and new villains I'll add some far out weapons and ships and make sure there's lots of adventure and just plain fun. I'll get out of the way at some point and listen to Arlo's corny Sean Connery imitation tell me what to write. ;-)

I hope to continue the fun and adventure with Book 4, 'Deep Cover'. The guys get a daring assignment to ... hmm. I think that this time, I'll post my progress here and let my readers in on the fun as I write, rewrite, throw away, massage and stagger forward.

I hope you'll follow along and enjoy the ride as much as I do.

Be Cool!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Indie writers ROCK!

Check out my review of Arthur M. Doweyko's new book 'As Wings Unfurl' in the 'Review' tab. I devoured the story over the weekend. Great concepts and well thought out plot. I'll be reading more of his books!

I've made it a habit to find and read mostly indie books in the past few years. I still read main stream books, but the ratio is probably 5 to 1 in favor of the indie side. 

Indie writers tend to be grittier and far less flowery than main stream 'successes'. Too many times I've picked up a 'best seller' and found that half the book is fluff that adds nothing to the story. James Michner was the worst but there are plenty of others.

To be clear, I like some of Mr. Michner's works. I just find it tedious to scan through another description of a flower or analyze another character's inner angst when I just want to find out what happens next. I've read that publishers will prod writers to add more 'flavor' to their stories to boost the word count and justify a higher book price. I'm sure that happens but I think sometimes that authors just like to hear their own voices in print. ;-)

Indie writers haven't been tainted yet. We're still babes in the woods, trying to find our writing style and 'voice'. And I really like that. We want the story to unfold at a good, measured pace. Keep the reader's interest on every page, not just every chapter.

I know that many people like the more eloquent depictions and long flowing story arcs.  That's great. Glad there are writers that address your needs. 

Me? I'd rather read a short gripper than a long-winded tomb. 

What do you like?

Be Cool!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Something for everyone!

When I released 'Walk with Me' in May I hit an amazing milestone:

Six books on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 


When I launched 'Genome' in 2006 I never thought I'd see more than 1 or 2 books out there. It took so much time and karma to produce that story. I had so much to learn. It took everything I had at the time, I never considered I'd have enough gas left to make more!

Then I decided that I really wanted to write the kind of stories I like to read and watch in the movies. Fun. Adventurous. Exciting. Just a little warped with maybe just a little naughtiness thrown in.

That's when the 'Arlo and Jake' series was conceived! I've never had so much fun. Coming up with new civilizations, wacky creatures, truly evil bad guys and noble heroes. Now on that noble hero concept, I decided that sometimes, clueless worked better than self assured. Why? Because that's me. Clueless, but somehow making it through life without too many major scars. ;-)

'Arlo and Jake Enlist' is the first book in the series. I introduce you to Jake Jasper and his pet chameleon, Arlo. Jake has a lot of my history behind him. Retired software nerd. Submariner in the nuclear navy. Wise ass with a warped sense of humor. What's not to like?

'Arlo and Jake Galactic Boot Camp' continues the adventure, putting my guys through a grueling Federation of Thirteen Galaxies training camp. But I can't just have you follow them through that, oh no. I've got some very nasty surprises waiting for them.

'Arlo and Jake Lost Partner' is Arlo's first solo adventure. Jake's little buddy goes missing and Jake cannot go after him because the Squids are at it again, trying to Aquaform an entire system! Jake has to suck it up and go help save the Universe, leaving his buddy and hoping he's OK. Arlo finds he's more than just a little lizard with a knack for spatial mechanics. He's got a little of the hero inside, just waiting to get out.

'Etchings' is my first real ghost story, from start to finish. It's based on some real locations in the mountains of Colorado. I've been fascinated with stories of ghost towns and spooky cemeteries all life. This one gave me nightmares and I wrote it!

There are more stories coming, including the next 'Arlo and Jake' adventure, and a series based on the AI in Genome, for kids. That one is rattling around in my imagination, trying to kick it's way out. ;-)

I hope you'll use the links above or head over to Amazon and type 'gary henson' to find my books. I write to please our need for adventure and fun!


Be Cool
Be Happy
Just Be!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Talk to your characters...

OK, just have to get this off my chest.

I admit it.

I talk to my SciFi series characters, Jake and Arlo.

The cool part is that they talk back. ;-)

No, I can't hear them, folks, I'm not that far gone. (Yet).

It didn't start out they way, and it doesn't always work, but most of time I set them in motion and watch the fun.

I talk to them while I'm writing a scene and then just let my imagination guide my fingers. I type out a scene in simple bullets. Then I go back and fill in the bullets with dialogue and 'color'. I keep adding bullets and filling in the gaps with character movements, dialogue and adding environment and action.

There's also a lot of 'nah, that's stupid' and rewriting but that's OK.

But it really is a cooperative effort. As Arlo and Jake 'grew up' in book one, it became easier and easier to just let them work things out on their own. I'm on book four and it's a more fun than I can describe to you.

Jake has a lot of me in his persona. I intended that way. I spent 9 years in the nuclear Navy, mostly on fast attack subs and shipyards, though I spent time in Idaho as an instructor. Yes. Idaho. I trained students to operate nuclear/steam power plants on the submarine prototype for the Nautilus, the first nuc sub. Weird, right?! Then I've spent the next forty years as a software developer.

Jake's back story has a lot of me in it. You're supposed to write about things you know or have experienced. Honestly, that part has been a lot of fun. I've taken lots of experiences I had in the Navy and in the software biz and molded them into situations in the 'Arlo and Jake' series.

And that's helped my characters 'talk' to me. I can play the scene in my head and on paper and then think back on times in the service or in the code mines that are similar.

We said and did some really outrageous things back when I first entered the Navy. We were young and stupid, that's the gist of it. Invulnerable and incredibly cocky. Stupid. But every 19 year old is stupid. You don't know squat at 19. The world is new and clean and just waiting for you to discover everything. What could possibly go wrong? Ah, that'll never happen, let's go for it!


I use those feelings to get Jake and Arlo to be stupid and brave. Fearless and instinctive. Awestruck at the new Universe they've been plopped into. It flows really well if I just get out of the way when I'm writing.

Arlo is the easiest to write. I can sum up Arlo in one word. 'Snarky'. I LOVE that word. A bit of know it all. A bit of swagger (for a chameleon ;-) and sauce. Arlo's got your back and he's going to never let you forget it. He's the first one with a plan and the first one with a gnarly, smart ass comeback.

The other characters talk to me in the same way. I set them up, wind them up and stand back to watch the chaos ensue.

How about you?

How do you deal with reticent characters?

I hope you have as much fun with it that I do.

Be Cool.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The hardest part about being an indie/novice writer is all the promoting. Yeah, that's right. The promoting is tons harder than outlining, researching, 'tinking about plot arcs and dialogue, writing, rewriting, throwing away and starting over, rewriting, cover art, formatting, rewriting, obsessing over a sentence or even a word until you want to rip the words out of your skull! Sheeew.

But promoting stinks.

It's embarrassing to have to shout 'Hey, buy my books, they're really, really good' through the Cyberverse on Twitter, Facebook and of course writing blogs.

But unless you have an instant hit (no I have not) or an agent, what else can you do?

So here are a couple of things I've learned. I hope they help you.

First: Relax. Don't stress out every minute of the day worrying about your next sale. I've done that and it doesn't help at all. Checking your Amazon or Barnes and Noble account every hour will not make sales magically appear.

Instead give yourself a schedule. Say once a day, maybe before you start working on your next story or after dinner. And stick to it. Don't sneak a peek just this once. It will spiral into checking it every chance you get. Discipline, grasshopper. Control yourself. Make it a habit. Once a day.

Second: Keep writing. The best way to get a readership is to give them more of your stories. The more you give, the more you'll get. Simple rule, but it's very true. Keep writing and publishing. You'll get more reader and you'll get better at writing.

Third: Let yourself enjoy the thrill of writing for it's own sake. You love it, or you shouldn't be doing it. It gives you joy. Let it. Nothing else I've ever done is as rewarding as writing a book. Following my characters as they jump and jive to my imaginary music is damn exciting and FUN!

Fourth: Tweet about your book, sure. But Tweet to other indie writers and check on their progress. Let them know you're interested in their stories. Tell them when you're stuck and help them out when they are. Twitter is for dialogue and friendship. I overdid (probably still overdo) it using Twitter as a sales platform. Promote your indie writer's books. Discuss good books you've read. Discuss terrible books you're read. Discuss why. Get involved and be friendly.

Fifth: Make Facebook page for you writing. Promote it. Keep it up to date. I think this is the best avenue for self-promoting your work. You can put so much more into a blog post or a Facebook post than a tweet. Show off your covers, invite discussions.

Sixth: Go find other sharing medias to explore.

But most of all, have fun. Explore and conquer my friends!

Be Happy

Be Cool

Just Be!