Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Friday, January 29, 2010

Because You Asked For It

Well, okay, only Laura asked for it. But I thought I'd put my money where my mouth is and let you decide for yourselves if I can pull off fighter combat. Here is a scene from my novel, Defenders of the Covenant. Derek is the eighteen year-old commander of the combat fleet of strike fighters called the Avenging Angels. Here they are facing their first battle against the alien attack vessels. Hope you enjoy!

Any semblance of section integrity broke down almost as soon as the fighting began. The Angels swarmed around the sky in a desperate, futile attempt to keep the attack vessels away from the refuge and the fleet. Derek's eyes stung as he tried to keep track of it all. After bringing down four or five of the attackers, the SAM launcher went up in flames, and Derek watched mesmerized as the smoke curled upward. The temple was already crumbling. His throat tightened.
"Break right, Derek!" his wingman, Marius' voice screamed through his headset. He pulled his Angel to the right, snapping out of his melancholy just in time to watch the attack vessel's laser guns slice past his wing. At least someone was still watching out for his wingman. He continued his turn, and watched Marius dive on the attacker from above.
The attack vessel hadn't noticed Marius and had pulled into a climb and roll to try to regain the offensive on Derek. Derek obliged, keeping his Angel in a steady turn as Marius easily maneuvered into firing range. The attacker exploded, sending fiery curls across the sky. Derek sighed with relief, rolled to check his belly-side, then pulled himself up, away from the main fight to try and get control of the situation again.
Another plane exploded somewhere behind him, and he couldn't tell from looking if it was an attack vessel or an Angel, or even who had fired. It was sheer miracle that the squads weren't shooting each other down in the melee.
"This is Commander Halstead," he called over the radio. "Everyone find your wingman and reform sections in combat spread immediately. I need to know how many of those attackers are left, and how much damage we've sustained. Squad captains account for all of your squad as soon as possible. When you've rejoined, attack again."
He barely paid attention to the jumbled Yes Sirs over his radio, concentrating as he was on getting himself back line- abreast with his wingman, and trying to figure out the attackers' next move at the same time.
He needed Brother Harmer at the GCI to tell him what was happening, to activate another squad to relieve them, to send someone out to recover the pilots who'd been shot down, but he couldn't raise Brother Harmer at all. Please let it be communications failure, he prayed. He didn't know what he would do if Brother Harmer and the others were dead down there. He didn't even want to think about it. From up here he couldn't tell how bad the damage really was.
Another attacker exploded below him. He rolled out of the path of the debris, and tried to study the 3-D map and watch Marius' six, and listen to the pilots checking in all at the same time.
"Derek, you see the one coming straight at us?" Marius asked. Derek blanked the map and looked. Yes, there it was all right. A great black wedge coming at them head on.
"All right. Let's force his hand. Split, now." They pulled their Angels apart and the attack vessel went for Derek still head on, but this time the attacker didn't lose sight of Marius coming up on its left. It turned toward Marius to defend against his attack, and Derek climbed up to watch the fight and wait for the right opportunity. Marius forced the attack vessel into a vertical left turn from which it could not reverse without subjecting itself to weapons fire. Derek rolled around the top of his climb, and came down again on the attackers' belly-side for a laser shot. It was almost too easy. Another fireball filled the sky, and Derek and Marius joined line-abreast again.
"Commander Halstead, this is Captain Jonassen reporting in. I've lost two pilots. The rest are here. Our squad has shot down four including the two you and Marius brought down."
"Good," Derek said. "Captain Lu?"
"Captain Lu was shot down," a choked up pilot responded. "We've lost two others from the squad, too. We've shot down two of them all together."
Derek ignored the knife stab in his heart. Five pilots shot down. But they'd brought down six of the attackers, and with the four the SAMs got, "That leaves five, then. We'll rejoin to the north with sections in trail and come in for another attack. Marius and I will lead."
"No need," said Marius. "They're bugging out."
And sure enough, five attack vessels shot through the sky back over the mountains and disappeared.
"Why?" someone asked.
Derek set his mouth in a grim line. "Mission accomplished," he said. "Let's head home."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Of We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder...

I love fighter jets. Yeah, I think I watched Top Gun one too many times as a teen. (You did too. Admit it!) I got over Tom Cruise, but not the planes. So, naturally, when I was thinking up the coolest novel ever to write, it had to include fighter jets--awesome, futuristic, super-stealth fighter jets. It's terrific. I love the aerial combat scenes, but they are so hard for me to write!  I want them to be exciting and authentic.

When the time comes to write a combat scene, I break out my trusty fighter combat book and give myself a refresher course. I study the diagrams in the book and try to decide which scenarios fit with the scene I am trying to write. Then I have to make a diagram of my own fight so I have a clear idea in my head of everything that happens. Then I write the scene. This takes me forever! I have such a hard time thinking in three dimensions. I have to ponder and think and study the scene out in my head for days before I can get a grasp on it. I am improving, though. I used to just lift the diagrams right out of the book. Now, at least, I can come up with my own.

It is so satisfying to finish a fighter combat scene. I love to go back and read my old ones and see that, yeah, I really can pull it off! I just have to work really hard at it.

Do you have anything that you love to write about, but that is hard to write?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Critique Winners!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by for the 100th post/follower celebration. I'm excited at the chance to read some of your writing.

While we're on the subject of critiques, I feel it would be a good time to bring up (again) my favorite book on writing:

I highly recommend you get a hold of a copy and read it. You can read my post about it here. Getting feedback is so important, but so is remembering that it's your story and you have to stay true to it.

Okay, spiel over. Now onto the lucky winners!

Aubrie Dionne

Stephanie L. McGee

Carolyn V.

Congratulations, Ladies! Go ahead and send me your short story or novel chapter (8,000 words or less, please) in .doc or .rtf format. My email is angloft(at)gmail(dot)com. I can't wait to read your stuff. If you don't happen to have anything ready for critiquing, that's okay. I'll wait. This prize does not expire. Just let me know that you do plan on sending something.

And once again, thanks to all my readers and followers! Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

100 Followers, 100 Posts!

This calls for a celebration!
First, some reminiscing. I started this blog because I had so much stuff about writing that I wanted to say that I thought the people who read my family blog wouldn't be interested in. I had just recently purchased my writing chair, so Notes From the Writing Chair seemed like a good name. Since most of you probably missed it, you can read my first ever post if you like. Well, technically it was my second post. The very first said something like, "This is my writing blog." Lame. Anyway, a few days later I was on my dashboard and noticed that I had a follower. Huh? I didn't even know what a follower was. I found out quickly enough, and my numbers have been growing steadily ever since.

So, to all my new or long-time followers: Welcome to the Writing Chair! Come on in. Pull up a writing chair of your own. Make yourself at home. Enjoy some virtual donuts. (Man, I wish they were real). Read a few stories. (You'll find them there to your right.) Say hello. Tell me a little about yourself. What do you like to write? How long have you been writing? What brings you to the writing chair? I hope I make it worth your time to visit. If you'd like to join me on Facebook or Twitter, I'd love it!

What would a celebration be without some prizes? First off, thanks to

for becoming my one-hundredth follower! That makes me so happy. Welcome. I hope you enjoy the blog. As a prize for being my hundredth follower you win a short story or novel chapter critique from me! I know what you're thinking. Or at least I have this fear that you are thinking, "Why would I want a critique from you?" Well, I am a published author, and an editor for Mindflights magazine. I critique short fiction on a daily basis, so I think you'll be happy. Just send your story or chapter (8,000 words or less) to angloft(at)gmail(dot)com, and I'll do my best with it.

Now, for the rest of you. Just leave a comment here for a chance to win a critique of your own. I'll select three lucky winners on Saturday. And if you don't have a short story or chapter to be critiqued, well, consider this your invitation to write one! Go for it! What do you have to lose?

The contest is open to all my followers, so if you're not, just hurry and click that follow button before entering.

Thanks to all of you for reading and following my blog!

Post #99--I'm Almost There

Some gems from W. Somerset Maugham:

An author spends months writing a book, and maybe puts his heart's blood into it, and then it lies about unread till the reader has nothing else in the world to do.

There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to.

Post #98--This One Made Me Snicker

The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn't require any.  
---Russell Baker

This is post #97--A Great Quote from Isaac Asimov

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success - but only if you persist.
Oh, that is so, so true. My persistence over nearly sixteen years has yielded a dozen published stories. I could have given up a long time ago, but I haven't yet, and I don't think I ever will.


I have a hundred followers! That just rocks. I'm almost up to a hundred posts, too. Stay tuned for a celebration when I hit that milestone. (And please forgive all these short rapid-fire posts I'm using to get there.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

If you feel you can help...

My friend Sherri, mom of eight and all around amazing lady, needs help raising $22,500 to get necessary back surgery so she doesn't remain bed ridden. Read her story here, and if you feel you can help it would sure be appreciated.

Monday, January 18, 2010

All the Lovely Ladies

I had the privilege of meeting some great writers and all-around cool ladies over the weekend. I had such a great time. It was fun to put faces with names on some of the blogs I love to read. I discovered a few new blogs too.

Here are the links to their blogs. You really should check them out!

Another Great Quote

I stole this off my sister's blog:

"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't to forget make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself."
— Neil Gaiman

Not a Lot of Work

I went to SEPs (that's a secret code for Parent/Teacher Conferences) for my third grader. In his portfolio, I read a paper he had written about how he wants to be a writer when he grows up. Cool. One reason he listed is that being a writer is not a lot of work. Hmm. I guess he has a surprise in store for him!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Elusive Butterflies

When someone reads one of my stories and says, "I don't know where you come up with this stuff," I wonder: Is that a compliment? Of course, I get asked all the time where I get my ideas. I think all writers do. I think story ideas are flitting all around all the time like elusive butterflies just waiting for me to look up and notice them. They can be pretty hard to catch, but sometimes when I'm not expecting it, one of them will come and land on my shoulder. I have to take notice quickly, though, because the ideas flit away with astonishing speed.

I had a great idea for a story the other day. I got all tingly about it. Then, I broke the cardinal rule of catching story ideas. I didn't write it down. That afternoon, when I tried to remember my great story idea, poof--gone. I couldn't remember the idea. I couldn't remember what sparked it. I couldn't remember anything about it. It was thoroughly and completely gone. I still can't remember anything about it. Ideas are like that. If you want them to hang around, you have to write them down. Write them down! Write. Them. Down. I have learned my lesson. Again.

Of course some ideas, probably the best kind, are a little more persistent. They are more like mosquitoes than butterflies. They leave an itch behind that you just can't ignore. You have to write them down too, though. If you don't, the itch will fade and you'll forget even the most exciting ideas.

How do ideas come to you?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What Makes You a Writer?

If you've look over at my sidebar, you'll see one of my favorite quotes:
"Success flourishes only in perseverance, ceaseless, restless perseverance." That's from Baron Von Richtofen, aka The Red Baron. I remind myself of it often when I feel discouraged or like I'm just pounding my head against an impossible, unyielding wall.

My friend Jennie gave me a magazine article (I'm not even sure what magazine it is) written by Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Diaz, where he talked about his years and years of discouragement at being unable to produce anything worthwhile though he wanted to so desperately. It was inspiring to me. Especially this quote at the end of the article.

"You see, in my view a writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway."

That, in my opinion, is a recipe for success. And, hey, he won a Pulitzer, so he must know something about it right? What do you think makes a writer a writer?

Monday, January 4, 2010

You Need to Enter This Contest!

The lovely ladies of Shooting Stars are holding a contest with prizes to die for. Two query critiques, two first five page critiques, and a signed copy of The Dark Divine by Bree Despain. Trust me, I've been critiqued by these gals and they are awesome! Click here to enter their contest. You won't regret it!

Friday, January 1, 2010

January Story Feature: Ripped

"Ripped" first appeared in Amazing Journeys in March 2005. Previously, it won 2nd prize in the 2001 Science Fiction Writers of Earth Short Story contest. Contest reviewer Larry Taylor said:

At the beginning of Angie Lofthouse's "Ripped" three usually clearly distinguished spheres are posited:  past, present, and future. By the end, we're not so sure that these are immutable. The big questions are also addressed:  origins, mortality, and God. "When the subject is strong," Jacob Lawrence says, "simplicity is the only way to treat it." Ms. Lofthouse has approached these subjects admirably and with restraint, leaving each reader to contemplate his or her universe. (Read the full review here. Ironically enough, my father's name is Larry Taylor, but this wasn't written by my dad.)

"Ripped" is one of my personal favorites, and one of my most heavily researched stories. I hope you will enjoy "Ripped." Please leave a comment here and let me know what you think.

Oh, and Happy New Year! Have a great 2010!