Blog Archives

#NANOWRIMO Theme and Intent: Do you know yours?

Theme and intent can be interchangeable. Intent is a term I’ve stolen from screenwriters. It took me almost ten years of writing and fifteen manuscripts to realize the critical importance of having an intent to my stories, beyond simply being entertaining and having that intent in my conscious mind.

Some in the business of screen writing say you should be able to state your intent in three words.

  • Love conquers all
  • Honesty defeats greed

In my Duty, Honor, Country trilogy my theme was honor versus loyalty.  Would you rather have an honorable friend or a loyal friend?

There are others who say you need to be able to state it in one word:

  • Relationships
  • Honesty
  • Faith
  • Fathers

What is my intent?

What do you want readers to walk away with emotionally when they finish reading your story?  This is a question many authors don’t ask themselves and it is one of the most important because it’s the readers who keep coming back for more. When you consider intent, consider your readers first.

Filmmakers have to think about what they want the viewer to feel when they walk out of the theater.  This is one reason there are so few negative endings in films.  That’s not to say you can’t have a dark ending.  It’s more to point out that you need to be aware of the effect of a dark ending.

I’ve seen some excellent films where the ending was dark and bleak– and often most realistic– but most of those films were not box office blockbusters.  The original screenplay for Pretty Woman was called Five Thousand Dollars.  And the Richard Gere character drives away at the end.  Realistic, yes.  Would it have succeeded as much as the rewrite?

I’m not saying you have to have happy endings and make your reader happy.  I’m saying you have to know what feeling you want the reader to experience and make sure you deliver.  Larry McMurtry is a master writer and most of his stories have rather bleak endings.

I think that the more negative the intent, the better you have to be as a writer to keep the reader involved.  To take readers on a dark and relatively unhappy journey, you have to be very good to keep them in the boat.


  • What do you feel?
  • What do you want readers to feel?
  • You always have an intent.
  • Positive versus negative.
  • Beware of lecturing.
  • Resolution–the payoff to the reader

The more a reader feels about a book, the more he will get into it. Feeling comes out of the three aspects of a novel:

  1. Idea
  2. Intent
  3. Characters

If you know and, more importantly, have a good feel for each of these three before you begin writing, you increase the quality of your work.

What is your theme/intent for your book?

WORIn honor of Nanowrimo month, Cool Gus has put together a Write on the River kit at a discount:  three books in one at a big discount (over 50% off buying them individually).  We’re only going to run this special for November, then we’ll be taking it down.

The Novel Writers Toolkit which is how to write the book.

Write It Forward which is how to be a professional author and build a career using my Who Dares Wins concept.

And How We Made Our First Million on Kindle which is about negotiating the world of digital publishing.


43 Years Ago Today: Uruguayan Flight 571 Crashes

AirplaneCrashes“It was repugnant. Through the eyes of our civilized society it was a disgusting decision. My dignity was on the floor having to grab a piece of my dead friend and eat it in order to survive. But then I thought of my mother and wanted to do my best to get back to see her. I swallowed a piece and it was a huge step – after which nothing happened.” Dr. Robert Canessa

This disaster, while tragic, contains some of the most inspiring stories of survival and courage you will ever encounter. In the face of overwhelming odds, a handful of people survived a plane crash, freezing temperatures, high altitude, an avalanche and a rescue being abandoned and then two of them made an almost impossible trek across the Andes to get rescue.

This story is almost the inverse of the Donner Party from the first book in this series. It is a story that shows what the human spirit is capable of.

THE FACTS  On 13 October 1972, Uruguayan Flight 571, carrying 45 passengers and crew, crashed in the Andes. 12 died in the crash and five the day after and another on the 8th day. An avalanche swept over the crash site on the 29th of October, killing another 8. Starving, the survivors turned to feeding on their dead. Two members made a ten-day trek across the mountains and finally made contact, bringing a rescue.

13 October 1972. Uruguayan Flight 571 carrying a rugby team and friends and family, takes off from Montevideo en route to Santiago, Chile with 40 passengers and 5 crew on board. In thick cloud cover the plane crashes. 5 dead and 7 missing.

14 October: Five more people die of their injuries.

21 October: Another dies. They hear over a transistor radio that the search for them has been called off.

22 October: The decision is made to eat the dead.

24 October: 6 of the missing are found, dead.

29 October: An avalanche sweeps over the crash site, killing 8.

17 November: They discover the tail section of the plane, which has batteries.

24 November: They return to the tail section with the radio, but are unable to transmit.

12 December: Three set out to the west to get help. One is forced to turn back.

20 December: The two make contact with a rancher.

22 December: First rescue mission and takes out six people.

23 December: Second rescue mission takes out the remaining eight.

26 December: A newspaper reports the cannibalism.

28 December: The survivors give a press conference describing their ordeal.

For more on this amazing story, read Great Airplane Crashes And Why They Happened: Anatomy of Catastrophy

SPECIAL NEWSLETTER SIGNUP GIVEAWAY! Anyone who signs up for my newsletter in the next 7 days will get a coupon code that can be redeemed at iBooks for both books in the Presidential Series! Just forward your confirmation to bobandjen @coolgus dot com!


51 Years Ago Today: Mary Meyer Was Killed

Kennedy_FinalThe Kennedy Endeavor:  On 12 October 1964, a Washington socialite named Mary Meyer was shot in the back of the head and through the heart at point-blank range. She had been married to a high-ranking CIA agent. More importantly, she had been carrying on an affair with President John F. Kennedy and was one of his most trusted friends, at his side through the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

On 13 October 1964, the day after Mary Meyer’s murder, the Soviet Politburo forced Nikita Khrushchev to resign from power and put him under house arrest.

Was there a connection between Meyer’s death and Khrushchev’s forced resignation?  Who ended up with her diary?  The CIA? Or someone else?  Or was it hidden?  And what secrets did it hold? Did it tell of the Kennedy Endeavor?

For 13 days in October 1962 the world came the closest to nuclear Armageddon. On 22 November 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated. On the 25th of November, as Kennedy’s body lay in state at the Rotunda in Washington, Anastas Mikyoan, Khrushchev’s top adviser, presented the Premier’s condolences to Jacqueline Kennedy. She took Mikoyan’s hand in both hers and told him: “I am sure that Chairman Khrushchev and my husband could have been successful in the search for peace, and they were really striving for that. Now the Chairman must continue the agreed upon endeavor and bring it to completion.”

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Google

Sign up to receive my newsletter where I give away books, advanced reader copies and other goodies exclusive to my subscribers! Sign up here!

SPECIAL NEWSLETTER SIGNUP GIVEAWAY! Anyone who signs up for my newsletter in the next 7 days will get a coupon code that can be redeemed at iBooks for both books in the Presidential Series! Just forward your confirmation to bobandjen @coolgus dot com!

Those who don’t study history???? Time Patrol- Black Tuesday out today!

Black Tuesday finalThose who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. The Time Patrol, though, has the mission to make sure history does repeat itself as the history that actually happened. It takes six changes to our timeline, all on the same day in different years in the past to trigger a time tsunami which will wipe us out. The Time Patrol’s mission: send six operatives back, one to each year, and make sure our history doesn’t change.

What was great fun about writing this, and about reading it I hope, is that I got to research a lot of history and not only learn things, but also think about WHAT IF.  For example, what if the first Internet message was a failure? Would computer development and networking gone another way with massive central computers and just terminals elsewhere, which was the way IBM and other large developers wanted to?

What if Sir Walter Raleigh had not been executed? Would have followed through on plans to escape to Spain and plot? What if Operation Credible Sport had actually been launched and the Iranian hostages rescued? Would Carter have been re-elected and not Reagan? Or if it failed, and there was a massacre in Tehran of both Americans and Iranians? What if the first Internet message wasn’t sent. If it was a failure?

Time Patrol: Black Tuesday is out today. Read it and wonder: What If?

The first date being attacked is 29 October, known as Black Tuesday in 1929.What appears to be a mission about the stock market crash turns out to be something altogether different; involving Meyer Lansky and other shady characters of the day.

But there are five other October 29th’s to go to at the same time:

There’s Roland in 999 AD, on board a Viking ship heading to raid an English monastery.

Scout ends up in the era of free love in 1969, at UCLA, on the day the first Internet message was sent. Or was it?

In 1980, Eagle finds himself in the swamps of Florida, part of a Ranger School patrol, on the day the final test run for Operation Credible Sport’s specially modified C-130 is being conducted. This is the planned second attempt to rescue the American hostages in Iran.

black tuesdayMoms is high in the Andes on 29 October 1972, where a handful of plane crash survivors are struggling to stay alive; an event that will eventually be written about with that very title ALIVE!, a testament to the strength of human character. But it seems the Shadow wants no one to survive.

29 October 1618. Sir Walter Raleigh is to be beheaded. Mac’s mission? Make sure it happens. But Raleigh, and some other forces, are there to rescue him and change history.

Are the members of the Time Patrol up to the task of making sure our timeline stays intact against the sometimes devious, sometimes blunt efforts of the Shadow Timeline?

Nothing but good times ahead.

As long as the Time Patrol does its job!

Sign up to receive my newsletter where I give away books, advanced reader copies and other goodies exclusive to my subscribers! Sign up here!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 219,488 other followers

%d bloggers like this: