Sunday, January 12, 2014

Author interviews his protagonist, Tammy Fuller of Amazing Grace

Major Tammy Fuller interviews author, James Hellvig:

MT lost in thought, startles as Jim stops in front of the deserted diners table.  Waving at the opposing bench she says.
“Welcome. Please, have a seat.”
Slouching into the cramped booth, JH forces a grin saying.
            “Thanks. This is a little…weird. Am I interrupting something?”
Nodding in agreement MT replies:
            “You’re always interrupting! As for my thoughts… are you sure you want to hear them?”
Shrugging Jim raises his hands in mock surrender mumbling.
            “Sure…why not.”
Face slowly reddening, MT replies.
            “You took high level operator and turned her life upside down. What the hell do I know about raising a kid or relating to a cantankerous old nun? ”
Signaling the waitress, Tammy orders coffee raising an eyebrow in Jim’s direction quizzically. Tensing, he tells the disinterested woman.
            “Black coffee please…and a few Equal packets if you have them.”
Nodding tiredly, the waitress shuffles away leaving a pair of stained menus on the edge of the table. Each ignoring the printed offerings, MT breaks the growing silence saying bluntly.
            “Sooo…let’s hear it! What in the CRAP where you thinking! Why saddle me with people and emotions I can’t control!”
Squirming a little uncomfortably JH answers.
            “I’m not sure. I haven’t really thought that far ahead. I can’t answer the why part except to say that there’s still more to tell. Your faith, Anna and mother Steele along with dozens of other questions remain unresolved!
Scowling, MT glowers at the man while the returning waitress sets their cups down, taking the untouched menus with her with a sigh. Jim hurriedly stirs sweetener into his cup, sipping as MT growls.
            “Does mental illness run in your family?”
Sputtering, coffees spraying into his off hand as he hastily lowers his steaming cup back to the table were it promptly sloshes over.
            Excuse me!”
Rolling her eyes, MT continues a little vehemently.
            “Please tell me you didn’t get me into this mess without figuring a way out of it! I’ve pushed my military commanders about of far as I can. You were an operator once! Having the proper intelligence in critical! ”
Looking embarrassed JH mutters.
            “Well no…I mean… yeah! I’ll figure it out eventually! What are you? My editor!”
Leaning back, MT snorts.
            “If I were your editor, I’d kick you butt! I don’t suppose I could speak to your muse?”
JH closes his gaping mouth with a click before chuckling and responding with.
            “If you can get anything out of that cigar chomping clown I’d be impressed! He only shows up sporadically, grunting here and there and making smart aleck comments. Good luck with that!”
Shaking her head sadly, MT mutters.
            “I’m doomed….”
Indignant, JH says.
            “Oh come on! I’ve done all right so far! After all, odd as it is, we’re sitting here!”
Taking a deep calming breath, MT sighs ticking off points on her fingers and saying pointedly.
             “ Nuclear detonations. Betrayals. Friends and family in pain…we’re steps away from anarchy. Do you still wanna stick with that ‘I know what I’m doing’ line?”
Thinking carefully, JH replies.
            “All I know for sure is that you’re tough and smart Major. I’ve given you plenty of help. I’m confident that whatever lies ahead, we’ll get thru it… IF we work together!”
Studying the greying man across from her, Tammy finally sighs loudly, reaching out a hand to cover one of his own saying firmly.
            “OK. I still think your butt could stand a kicking…BUT we’ll defer that for now. Just try and give me a little heads up, huh.”
Pointing a finger an inch from his nose, Tammy continues sternly.
            “You keep my people SAFE author man! Understand me?”
Smiling in return, JH nods solemnly saying.
            “Yes Ma’am. Kicking my butt might be harder than you think ya know.”
Squeezing his hand, Tammy stands to leave saying over her shoulder.
“Don’t count on it Kenpo man…coffee’s on you. Figure you owe me that much!”
Watching as she walks slowly out the door, Jim sips his cooling coffee musing.
            Maybe I OUGHT to get her to talk to the muse….

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Enduring in the world of writing is a lot like extreme sports. An Ironman event consist of a long swim followed by an even longer bike ride, finishing with a marathon distance run. Just completing is a victory!
     The same can be said of writing. Starting is easy…anyone can do it but finishing..ahhhh…that's the hard part! Professional athletes know that preparation is the key to success. The biggest challenge lies in the execution of the plan. Training consistently is the golden rule in every professional endeavor.
When writing we often start strong, the ideas quickly  translating onto that blank page. In my experience what can and does happen as the story progresses is that the flow slows or even stops. Our energies are diverted elsewhere by the day to day demands of living and working. When that happens we need to look closely at our process and determine a realistic response to get back on track.
     So how do we increase our mental muscles? Writers training can be as grueling as the physical disciplines. The same three basics apply. Diet, repetition and ATTITUDE! Lets take a look at some applications shall we?
     Diet. Are you reading in your genre to see whats current? Are you balancing that with new and perhaps previously unexplored areas? Are you doing the research to keep topic grounded and relatable? Most importantly in your writers diet are you attending seminars or conferences to improve your talents and build those ever important connections?
     Repetition. The grind of meeting your daily goal is often times more daunting than that trip to the gym. It's soooo easy to put it off for a day…or two…or even a week! That blank page can become a vortex, building quickly into a tsunami of epic proportions. If you're not meeting your prescribed goals then reevaluate them. Its better to reduce the word count than to berate yourself for failing to meet it!
     Attitude. The holy grail of life itself! Our attitude determines the eventual outcome of all our efforts. Staying positive will make writing as it should be…fun! Whether dealing with demanding schedules, physical ailments or publishing challenges the perspective you bring controls the ultimate outcome….focus on crossing the finish line…then coming in first place is simply a matter of time!