Tag Archives: writing about

Writing About Covert Operations


When writing spy thrillers, or other stories about covert operations, one should be factual. This isn’t difficult for the author who has served in the military special forces or other intelligence agencies. Experience teaches these authors how things work in the real world of covert operations.

I stumbled upon an abbreviated video from the website of Catherine Austin Fitts, who worked in government under President George H. W. Bush. The speaker on the video is discussing the pattern of a covert operation. Who are the players? What role do they serve?

If you want to write in the spy thriller genre, and do not have a background that gives you an insider’s perspective, then listen to this video. It’s educational. And short!

http://solari.com/blog/a-taste-of-the-solari-report/

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Pinterest for Writers… and Readers.. and Bloggers…


Pinterest for Writers… and Readers.. and Bloggers….

You gotta take a look at this post if you have even remotely considered how Pinterest could be helpful to you. I adore the author’s suggestions for writers.

Thank you, Jennifer K Blog.

Science Fiction Writing Workshop August 2013 in Baltimore Area


One of the Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe brought a Maryland-based writing workshop to my attention. It is an annual event called Shore Leave, a fan run Science Fiction convention. Scenes from my favorite comedy The Big Bang Theory with the male cast dressed as favorite Star Trek characters filled my head. But the writer was quick to tell me she attends the convention for its writing workshops.

The convention runs over a long weekend in August in the Baltimore area. It is readily accessible by car to those living anywhere from Richmond, VA to New York City to Pittsburgh, PA.

I will provide a link at the bottom of this post to the Shore Leave web site. I don’t find the site very helpful in providing information for writers about the writing workshop schedule. I have pasted what information is there below:

Shore Leave 35 will include:

Writing Workshops: Learn how to improve your writing from some of your favorite writers.   Past panels have included writing about the non-fictional part of Trek; How to express point  of view in your story; The trials and tribulations of being a writer and more.

Joining us this summer for Shore Leave 35 will be Media Guests William Shatner, Amanda Tapping and Julie Caitlin Brown.  Note: William Shatner will be appearing on Saturday, August 3, only. More Information is available.

Also joining us are Author Guests:Rigel Ailur, Russ Colchamiro, Greg Cox, Ann C. Crispin, Mary Louise Davie, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Michael Jan Friedman, Dave Galanter, Allyn Gibson, Phil Giunta, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Jim Johnson, William Leisner, David Mack, James Mascia, Kelly Meding, Susan Olesen, Scott Pearson, Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Judith Reeves-Stevens, Aaron Rosenberg, Lawrence M. Schoen, Peter Wacks, David Mark Weber, Howard Weinstein, andSteven H. Wilson.

Science Guests:Paul Abell, Lucy Albert, David Batchelor, Wayne Bird, Kirk Borne, Caroline Cox, Jerry Feldman, Larry Hubble, Yoji Kondo, Eric Schulman, Stephanie J. Slater, Timothy F. Slater, andRay Villard.

And Special GuestsTye Bourdony andT.A. Chafin.

Shore Leave web site: http://www.shore-leave.com/

Registration form: http://www.shore-leave.com/registration/

Hotel info for the convention: http://www.shore-leave.com/hotel/

Some Days I Will Have to Settle for a Laugh and 200 Words


I awakened early this morning, about four hours early, before the birds or the sun were up. I read for a while, seeking a jumpstart on my day through inspiration. I got nothing. I ate breakfast, fed the dogs, loaded and ran the dishwasher, loaded and ran the washing machine, dressed for the day. Still nothing.

At this point, I ponder my options.

I have 4,000 words of a 7,000 word story completed. I have half a novel completed. The Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe has started the next anthology, a Christmas themed one this time.  I haven’t started my taxes yet. I can work on any of these projects and be  productive. Yet I can’t muster the energy to start anything.

My shoulder hurts. I am almost three weeks post-surgery. I want to blame my lethargy on the pain, but it would be a ruse. The fact is I am in a funk.

Now what?

Recently I wrote about my Uncle Dick and his family newsletter that he sends out monthly. The new one sits on the ottoman in front of me. I open it and read.

About page two, I chuckle to myself while reading a humorous commentary Uncle Dick has borrowed from the Time Union. Afterwards, I grab the computer and start this post. It’s progress. At least I have written almost 300 words today. And it’s not yet 9 o’clock in the morning. So there’s still hope to get something done and scratched off the to-do list. Right now, I am happy for a belly laugh and 200+ words.

Guest Post by Marcie Connelly Lynn


My friend Marcie and her husband David live aboard a sailboat and are traveling the globe. They have one last long passage to make to complete a circumnavigation of the earth,  that last leg from Australia to the southern tip of Africa. They have sailed from Africa east past South America via the Panama Canal to Australia, where they are now–and a zillion points in between–over more than a decade.

I asked Marcie to write a guest blog, since she is a published author. She and her husband both have sold many magazine articles. Furthermore, Marcie is an accomplished (and published) photographer. She has LOTS to share for those aspiring to do the same. Read up and enjoy!!!

I must have at least four books in the works at the moment … all of them in various stages of “incomplete”. There’s a cookbook which needs a rewrite and an update; a novel based on fact; an anthology of sailing stories and another mystery novel which revolves around our life at sea. What keeps me actively writing though is our daily blog, our website and freelance writing for magazines.
Marcie and David 2012 Australia

My husband and I have lived aboard a sailboat for the last 13 years, very slowly traveling around the world. Writing has always been a passion for me, so it was only natural that I’d keep personal journals and continue writing as we sailed from place to place. Now I post our experiences daily and write articles for publication.

Want to take a stab at getting published in a magazine? Try this.

  1. Determine an area of expertise or interest. Figure out what you’d like to write about. Do you have a hobby? Are you a parent? Do you sail? Do you like to travel? Do you have pets? Are you a farmer, a hairdresser, a welder, a 50+ retiree?  Obviously, the more you know or care about your topic, the more it will show in your writing.
  2. Research what journals or magazines cater to this interest. There are magazines out there for every interest imaginable. Don’t forget to research regional magazines for your area. They’re smaller and may be more interested in your articles than national journals. Think outside of the box. We tend to write for sailing magazines because we sail and live on a boat, but I’ve submitted articles to cat magazines because we used to have a cat aboard. I submit articles to travel magazines. I’ve even submitted funny anecdotes to Reader’s Digest.
  3. Obtain the Writer’s Guidelines for those magazines of interest. This is key. Some magazines are very specific as to the length of the piece, the format in which it should be submitted, whether photos are required, their terms and amounts of their payment. The links below this post provide lists of magazines and their guidelines. These lists are not exhaustive by any means, but they’ll give you an idea of what’s out there.
  4. Get a copy of the magazine(s) in which you’re interested. Read it. See what types of articles they publish. Get a feel for the mood of the pieces. Are they serious? Whimsical? First person anecdotes? Determine what “departments” they have that might prove suitable for the article you want to write.
  5. Figure out your angle. Magazine articles usually do one or more of these things: inform, persuade, instruct or entertain. I tend to write informational/entertainment pieces on the places we visit. My husband, David, writes how-to pieces (instruction) on various topics relating to the boat. Write your article.
  6. Proper grammar, spelling, punctuation required…need I say more?
  7. Research your topic carefully. If you’re using facts and/or statistics to give some depth and color to your article, make sure you document them well and provide the source if necessary.
  8. Many magazines will accept articles on “spec”. Others prefer you send a query. I call this a teaser. Tell them in a short, succinct paragraph what you intend to write about and why it will be of interest to their readers. They’ll  review what you send them and get back to you if they’re interested. Send your best piece. Make the teaser irresistible. Then write the article. Make sure it’s ready to go.  If you don’t hear from the publisher within a couple of weeks, send them a reminder, asking their level of interest. Caution: Do NOT send the same query to several magazines at once. Be patient and submit to one publisher at a time. If two or more magazines should happen to accept your article or idea and you have to tell one of them “no”, you probably won’t get another stab at that magazine. If you don’t hear in a month after a reminder, consider it dead and move on.
  9. Don’t be discouraged if you get a “reject” notice. It’s common. Not every article received can be published. Find another magazine and send them the same teaser. We’ve had several articles rejected by one journal which were happily accepted by another. 
  10. If you get a bite and some interest in your teaser, respond immediately. Some will ask you to do a rewrite. Cut it down here…expound a little there. Get on it right away. We’ve had situations where the publisher delayed in responding and then we received an urgent email saying, “Oh, didn’t I tell you? We need your article for the next publication. Can you send it and all photos today?”  Needless to say, having the article written and ready to go was key.  We scurried, but got it done.

I doubt you’ll get rich from writing for magazines. We certainly don’t, although we usually succeed in having about six to eight articles published each year. We average ~$300-500 per article. You will, however, see your article in print, promote yourself, build confidence and polish your writing skills. Sometimes that’s enough!

About Marcie…

Marcie & David Lynn have lived aboard “Nine of Cups” since 2000. They’ve sailed over 70,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans  and visited hundreds of anchorages and ports in their travels. They’re currently down under in Tasmania. Marcie writes a daily blog www.justalittlefurther.com and maintains a website www.nineofcups.com. Both David and Marcie contribute regularly to Ocean Navigator and Good Old Boat magazines.

Www.oceannavigator.com

http://www.goodoldboat.com

Writer’s resources

http://www.freelancewriting.com/guidelines/pages/index.php

http://www.internet-resources.com/writers/markets/online-guidelinesMO.htm#MMM

Love This Song Prompt


Currently there is a commercial on TV that uses the chorus to this song in a rock climbing scene. I love the sound of the singer’s voice, so I search till I find a music video for it. Here is your song prompt. Enjoy the writing exercise today!

Science Fiction: Electronic Warfare and Cyberspace


When one writes futuristic science fiction–or any other science-related genre–one has to rely on modern scientific fact to support future fiction. Most science fiction story telling relies on conflict. Think Star Wars,  the Star Trek syndicates, Battlestar Galactica, Superman, Batman, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Armageddon, Stargate series, Twilight Zone, and many more.

So today’s lesson for fiction writers covers the current military electronic warfare environment for the U. S. military. All information comes from DefenseNewsTv.com’s “Electronic Warfare Roundtable.” Panel members are from different branches of the armed services.

Today’s military operates in a global environment with a need for 24/7 communication and control capacities. Electronic warfare, the primary tool of modern military action, is based on a cyberspace platform. Thus, the armed services recognize how intertwined the cyber community is with electronic warfare.

The various branches of service identify the following threats from enemy command and control operations:

Soldiers encounter field environments that differ from the norm to which they are accustomed. For example, the military is used to operating with nearly unlimited bandwidth. What happens to soldiers where bandwidth is denied or limited? The Navy panelist admits that, as a service branch, the Navy has let skills atrophy in the modern electronic surveillance and communication environment. The Navy plans to re-learn traditional skills to manage signatures in a non-electronic circumstance. It has to live up to its credo to “operate forward and be ready.”

The Army says it is responsible for enemy command and control, such as disabling enemy communications, sensors or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The Army panelist says he is most concerned by an enemy who is able to maneuver inside the electronic warfare spectrum and go undetected. A dangerous enemy can synthesize an existing system, then change software code and modify the Army’s systems remotely.

The Marines are proud of existing radio battalion systems on the ground. To improve the systems, the Marines want to marry their operations with resident capacities in the air.  However, they face an enemy that adapts quickly. The Department of Defense is scrambling to stay ahead of enemy capabilities.

The Air Force fears an enemy that uses the electromagnetic spectrum to destroy weapons systems.

The Air Force panelist says, “What keeps me up at night is the imagination and innovation of the adversary.”

Today there is a danger of turning commercial products into weapons. Cell phones operate on former military signals. A smart enemy leverages the commercially available technology to defeat or confound secret military technology.

So where is military strategy going? Thus far, the focus has been to give technology to the brigade commander for operations. In the future, overarching architecture will aid higher command authorities, too. Tactical assets and systems will be integrated across service branches. Finally, there will be a greater emphasis on speed–of adaption, of control, of meeting capacity.

Cooperation and synergy, through joint exercises and co-development of tools and technologies, is mandatory in the current fiscally austere environment.

Electronic warfare and cyberspace management is as much art as science. Listening becomes critical. Electronic surveillance will have to increase, as will service branches working together for better upfront planning.