Thursday, March 26, 2015

Undercover Lover Publishes Today

For the last couple of months, I've been telling anybody who listens that I've got a short romance publishing on March 31st. It turns out, I was wrong.


My story, Undercover Lover, part of the Sweet & Sassy Hidden Identities Anthology, is now available on Kindle. I couldn't be more excited! The best part is, for now, that it's available for ninety-nine cents, plus you get eight other stories inside the anthology. The price will soon go up to $2.99, so the best time to get this anthology is RIGHT NOW!! All of them are romances with the theme of a character having a hidden identity.

Hold on, I'll wait while you buy it....

Sweet and Sassy Anthology: Hidden Identities

Thanks for coming back after that really easy purchase. Whew, I'm sure you snuck in under the radar right before Amazon jacked up the price. Here are what others are saying about Undercover Lover:

Before I sat down to read, I was a bit skeptical at how a story could flesh out a decent romance in so few words without it feeling forced. But I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed “Undercover Lover”! The main characters were wonderfully written. I actually laughed out loud several times at their witty banter and couldn’t help but like them. I was also pleasantly surprised that there was a perfect dose of depth and emotion to make them feel real. Very well done! Loved it!" 
- Serene Heiner

"I just read James Duckett’s story, Undercover Lover, and I loved it! The characters were really easy to love, especially Hannah. Johnny’s opinion of her was so sweet. It was wonderful to read about a guy that was interested in the woman, not the body. Johnny was a real trooper, trying his best despite all the setbacks, and you really couldn’t help but root for him to complete his mission and get the girl. I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough, ready to read what comes next and laugh out loud. While there are serious situations, the humor and sarcasm break it up, making the story a joy to read." 
- Michelle Reid

"Undercover Lover is a charming little gem with well developed characters and a thoughtfully written story line. I truly enjoyed the idea of a 'novelette' as time doesn't often permit me the luxury of finishing an entire book these days. I was delightfully surprised that in 47 short pages, I was able to really get to 'know' 3 characters, root for the good guy, root for love and simply enjoy every page. I especially loved the clever wit and banter between the two romantic leads. It is clear that the author has an excellent sense of humor. Humor aside, it was a great mystery and action story, nestled right in the middle of a charming love story. I look forward to more from this author and this 'novelette' type medium. Highly Recommended!"  
 - Karen Lindsay (Miss Rhode Island)

"Undercover Lover is a quick read, which is the point of a short story! I honestly had a good chuckle at the end, and applaud James Duckett for giving me something that's left me questioning the ending in a fun and delightful way! There were several times that I left, and would recommend this short story to anyone who enjoys a light read with some humor." 
- Gina Larsen

"James Duckett’s Undercover Lover is a great book for fans of humor, clean romance, and action, because it has it all! Johnny and Hannah have an entertaining relationship with lots of witty banter, and though it has to form quickly in this short story format, it doesn’t feel forced. With an exciting climax and a great twist at the end, readers are sure to feel satisfied at the finish."

-Jeigh Meredith

"I can't wait to read it." 
-My Mom

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Birthdays and Book Day

Since I was seven years old, I wanted to write and publish a book. It's the item on my bucket list that I've neglected the longest. Well, not anymore. I have to find another awesome goal to totally put off for way too long.

Because bucket list item: Write and publish a book?

On New Years, I didn't want to set any resolutions. I'm perfectly perfect how I am (well, I'm perfectly happy with my life) that I didn't see any reason to change any of it. Then I thought to myself, "Self, I don't need a resolution, how about a goal. What do I want to accomplish this year?" 

And in answered, "Our birthday is in a few weeks. Think you could get that running book you've been sitting on all these years out by then?"

And I marveled at such a brilliant thought. I'd written it, all it needed was another editing pass, and then click a few buttons and boom, publication! That easy, right?


Remind myself to never rush a book like that again. I haven't had a decent light's sleep before committing to pull that off. 

However, as I write this, I am three hours shy of my birthday. I wanted to share my birthday with my book launch day, but it ended I must have missed specifying where Amazon gave me an option to specify a date and it went on sale a day before I wanted it to.

Good grief.

I'm sure I have only myself to blame, but this morning people started telling me, writing me, messaging me, and commenting on Facebook that they bought a copy. Fine, fine, but in my mind I'm still considering the release to be February 25th, because it isn't like I need yet ANOTHER date to memorize.

I can hear you behind your computer screen saying, "Tell me about the book. Stop rambling and tell me already!"

Okay! Sheesh. You're getting really pushing in my old age. 

My book is called Pushing the Wall: a Memoir. It's a memoir, about walls, and pushing them to--, you know what, let me just use the blurb I wrote back when I could think straight:

Pushing the Wall: A Memoir
What kind of idiot would run a marathon without training for it first? Me.  
I’d know the horror stories. Endurance athletes always fear “hitting the wall,” or reaching the point where the body runs out of energy and BAM! Roadkill. With no preparation, I’d most likely smash into this wall hard enough to leave a dent. 
I wanted to train for the 2010 St. George Marathon, but after breaking my foot, the only marathon I could handle was on Netflix. When the race came, I just wanted to pick up the shirt I paid for, but peer pressure and the energy of the other 6,000 runners convinced me to try it anyway. My plan? Push the wall past the finish line, grab some ice cream, crawl into my truck, and then drive home. 
This memoir details my love/hate affair with running and how I survived 26.2 grueling miles that I had no business attempting. I also include tips for new runners. It’s whimsical, yet educational. It’s whimsucational!

I don't want to spoil the ending too much, but I will give you one hint how it turns out: I did not take first place.

The speed-demon who did, Aaron Metler, was nice enough to write the foreward to Pushing the Wall, so you can get the inside scoop of running a marathon from a winner's perspective.

I'm really excited for February 25th. I turn 29 again and my first book is (in my eyes) officially released. Also, the fabulous girls at Loving the Book are throwing me a launch party on Facebook at 6:00 PM mountain time. There will be much chatting, celebrating, and--most important--giving away some fun, fabulous prizes. Please, join us, I think it will be a blast! Here's the link:

Pushing the Wall Online Launch Party

I'm publishing exclusively through Amazon for now, sorry Nook and iBook readers. You can still get it in paperback. Here are the links for the book and the ebook:

Pushing the Wall: a Memoir Paperback Edition
Pushing the Wall: a Memoir Kindle Edition

I hope if you pick it up, that you find as much enjoyment reading it as I did putting it together.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

What Makes a Hero?

To me, the best villains are convinced they are actually the hero. When writing, remember: Every character is the good guy in the story. When you analyze the point of view of any character, including the villain, you must understand their motivations. Examples:

1) Voldemort wants to rid the world of muggles, an impure race who would wage war in a heartbeat upon wizards and witches if they knew they existed (which, while a little racist, probably isn't far from the truth). This is also the motivation of X-men's Magneto.

2) Darth Vader wishes to keep peace and order in the Universe.

3) Even in Ender's Game (spoiler alert), the formics just didn't know better, and they'd see Ender and his Army as the villain. Ender even recognized the villain in himself by how he handles Stilson, Bonzo, and eventually the formics. In the sequels, the universe regards Ender as the villain.

4) The Joker (Heath Ledger's version) wants to reveal the hypocrisy of people. The world would be better if people just showed their true colors and stop hiding behinds their (metaphorical and literal) masks.

Making sure the villain of your story sees themselves as the good guy is a great way to build complex, interesting, and believable villains. And stories.

Consider this clip from Cracked about Firefly.

It isn't a big revelation that Firefly is a show about the bad guys. Viewers have justified that, sure, the crew of Firefly aren't the nicest people, but the Alliance is worse. Also, Mal is interesting, funny, good looking, and has a soft spot for people on the run from the government. Obviously the good guy, right?

One thing that I liked about the Cracked discussion is the possibility that the Alliance are actually pretty nice dudes with the benevolent motive of educating, feeding, protecting, and taking care of its citizens. Dealing with criminals is something all governments--good and bad--have to deal with. Firefly could have been the story of a government marshal tasked to stop the thieves/pirates causing chaos and trouble from The Serenity.

In the end, Mal and his crew still consider themselves the heroes.

Consider your story. If you could retell it from the point of view of your villain, you are on track to writing something interesting and fun to read. Who knows? Maybe you'll consider the villain's position and decide that the story is better told that point of view.

Don't forget your side characters. They aren't just there to move the plot forward; they also have wants, motivations, desires, and back stories. They see themselves as the hero. Take Luna, Neville, and Snape from the Harry Potter stories. While they don't go toe-to-toe with Voldemort like Harry does, they are all heroes in their own minds (and mine as well). They are all rich, wonderful characters who have to make hard choices to combat wickedness. Just like the hero. That series could easily be re-written from their points of view and be amazing stories. I would pick up Snape's story in a heartbeat, if Rowling wrote it.


Note: I know, I've been neglecting this blog. I need to change that. Also, I still owe you a post on the Duckett Reader Awards. I'll get to it this month, I'm just slammed!