Posted by: Karla K Goodhouse | June 29, 2012

Character Origin: Martina Redrick

Martina’s origins were simple enough. It was 1997. I was a thirteen year old kid in eighth grade and I had a first period study hall. Since I usually already had finished any schoolwork the night before, I almost always had nothing to do during that 40 minute block of time. To amuse myself, I would pull out a piece of paper and start writing.

It was getting towards the end of the school year. I’d just finished writing one novel and was looking for a new story to tell. Although I’d been fascinated with space flight for years, I’d never tried to write a novel about it, until that point.

I started describing a space shuttle launch. Naturally, I needed a character to be piloting that space shuttle and the name Martina Redrick came to me almost instantly. This was incredibly significant for me. Usually I agonized over character names, struggling to come up with names that were varied, sounded good and fit my characters. For me to think up a name, and a good one at that, so quickly, was unheard of. That never happened. I felt is if I’d found my character, the one who I could build a series around.

From that point on, all my novels would star Martina as the main character.

Martina has certainly changed over the years, maturing as I grew older. Initially, she was a combination of my own personality and the traits I thought a good action hero should have. While she’s maintained some of those characteristics throughout the years, she taken on many traits of her own.

Surprisingly, Martina initially was a very light hearted character, a term I certianly wouldn’t use to describe her today. Despite that, she still had a hard edge to her, which surfaces immediately in the first story as soon as she is threatened. Her determinaton and unwillingess to give up without a fight are evident from the start. Through the course of my next few books that youthful light heartedness would vanish but her hard interior would remain, leaving her a more serious, practical character. This change seems to parrallel my own transition from a day-dreaming, optimistic kid to a somewhat jaded adult.

Martina was a far more emotional character in the beginning, clearly displaying happiness, anger, frustration and even compassion. She was quick to react to her enviroment. Over time, she’s calmed down. She’s much less reactive and  her displays of emotion are much more subtle. While she still clearly shows her feelings, she stays calm and in control at all times. Instead of the passionate, hateful anger she shows in the first stories, she now displays a cold, tempered fury. Interestingly enough, she was also a less forgiving and more violent character in my early works.

In some regards, Martina hasn’t changed at all. From the start she was quick witted and even quicker to act. Although in the first books, she still has a self-preservation instinct. In the second book I started, she’s hesitant to take on a risky assignment, calling it “crazy” and “suicidal”. This is something she eventually loses, showing very little regard for her own well being in later stories, when those same terms are used by others to describe her actions.

Overall, Martina remains cool, calm and professional. She is the take-charge type and not one to sit by and helplessly accept her fate. She’s at times unforgiving, cold blooded and calculating, although she does have a softer, more compassionate side that she rarely shows. She’s been hurt in the past and guards her emotions closely, which is perhaps a direct result of the disappointments I’ve experienced in my own life. Martina is particullarly unlucky in love, and has been from ever since I created her. Because of this, she’s learned not to trust most people, only letting a select few close to her. Sometimes, she appears tired and a little world weary, but she always picks herself back up and carries on.

I’ve made a point of not deleving too deeply into Martina’s past. She was an adult when I first started writing with her, and her character was fully developed. She remains that way today. When the reader meets her in HELLFIRE she is already an experienced pilot, having been in the Air Force for nearly ten years and her personality is firmly established.

When I was younger I debated the idea of going back and writing a prequel or two and fleshing out more of Martina’s past, but I eventually discarded that idea. I feel that if I was to go back to her youth and try to create a solid history for her, it would drastically change the person she is in the series and that is something that I don’t want to do. So instead I only mention the occassional details of her past which she reveals to me. I use this information to supplement her character, rather than define her. Even as I write with her, she continues to evolve, impacted by the events of my stories.

Martina is in some regards a reluctant hero. She doesn’t go looking for glory, and she doesn’t always enjoy the messes she finds herself caught up in. But at the same time, she finds herself compelled to act. Motivated by her strong patriotism, her loyalty to her friends or perhaps simply her own curiosity, she finds herself pulled into conflicts again and again. And while she’s not the one to start things, she makes sure to finish them.

From the start, Martina’s greatest passion was flying, and that remains true today. She has always been patriotic, loyal to her country and ready to defend it in any way needed. From the beginning, she was an incredibly skilled pilot and a fierce fighter. While not as cocky as her sidekick, Rachel, she extremely confident in her own abilities. She is neither a dark, angry character, nor an overlly happy one. She’s even-tempered and level-headed. In some ways, she is seeking peace, as we all are. She believes in herself and what she fights for and she really knows how to kick some serious ass.

To help fund my next novel, Firebird, click here!

www.karlakgoodhouse.com

Posted by: Karla K Goodhouse | June 24, 2012

Aerial Photo of the Week

Flying over the Rockies along the Idaho/Utah border in winter.

Posted by: Karla K Goodhouse | June 18, 2012

Kickstarter Promotional Video

To help raise some funds for my books, mostly for use with marketing, I’ve set up a campaign on kickstarter, a website which gathers donations for independent projects, such as my books. Here’s the video.

To contribute, please visit: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/338142409/firebird-0?ref=recently_launched

Also, just for fun, here’s my cats interrupting me while I was trying to make the video.

www.karlakgoodhouse.com

Posted by: Karla K Goodhouse | June 18, 2012

The Importance of Good Characters

I consider myself to be somewhat of a student in the art of story telling. Although I have been writing my entire life, in fact, as long as I could speak, I still love to learn about the art.

I’m not speaking about other authors’ writing processes, how they go about getting the story from their heads and onto paper. Instead, I’m talking about the details of the stories themselves and how the creators view their end result.

I love reading behind the scenes interviews with authors and filmmakers. I have several books, both by authors and cartoonists, in which they talk about their work and share insights. I frequently watch the making of features for movies too.

In part, I really enjoy hearing how these people view the world and how those views translate into their particular stories. But the aspect I really enjoy the most is listening to them discuss their characters. Characters fascinate me. When I find as story that I like, I want to know all about the people in it. I love hearing how the writers who created these characters and the actors who portray them describe these individuals.

More so than anything else, I think good characters are what makes a good series. They will keep the reader coming back, just to share more of their life and their exploits. I know this is what often draws me to sequels, both in books and in movies.

In this way too, it upsets me when a character is not treated right, or when they are made to do something that they normally wouldn’t, just to fit the plot. This ill treament of character has ruined more than one story for me.

In my own writing, it often fascinates me how my characters take on a life of their own. Many times, I have created a character with a specific role in mind, a set personality and mission in the story at hand. But when I give them a name and put them on paper, things change. I’ve watched my characters evolve, seen them become more than I envisioned and take on larger roles. I’ve had characters speak up and reveal themselves to be someone different than I originally thought.

The beauty of this is, that it still all fits within the story. Rather than change to character to fit the story, I let my stories change to fit the characters. I think overall it improves the quality of the story when I let my characters take on a life of their own and be themselves.

I do love to tell stories. I love crafting action sequences and dreaming up unexpected plot twists. But it is truly my characters who give my work its soul.

I plan on going more indepth into the lives of my particular characters and their own evolution in later entries, so stay tuned to learn more about them.

Posted by: Karla K Goodhouse | June 15, 2012

Memorable Flights: Obligatory Initial Solo Story

Sitting in the DA-42 prior to my initial solo

My initial solo wasn’t particularly eventful, but if I am going to chronolog my experiences in aviation, it merits an entry. After all, there is always something significant and memorable about the first time, even if it is only the fact that it is the first time that makes so. The initial solo is something all pilots share. It is one of the common experiences that tie us together, in all it’s nerve wracking glory. So here is the story of my initial solo. I’m struggling a little to try and recreate the events years later. Despite the fact that I can remember what I had for lunch that day, my memory of the flight itself isn’t so great, probably a result of the nervousness and excitement I felt, and I apologize if the details of this story are a little sparse.

After years of waiting, I finally got the chance to learn to fly in the summer of 2004. It was my firstie (senior) year at the Air Force Academy, and I had been lucky enough to get selected to spend the summer getting my private pilot’s licence. The aircraft I began my training in was the Diamond DA-20. It was a nice little plane, easy to handle and it flew well. I thoroughly enjoyed flying it.

I’d had about 15 hours of instruction. After passing my morning’s stage check, my instructor decided to solo me. We went out and did one landing, but then the winds picked up. Anyone who’s lived in the Colorado Springs area knows that afternoon thunderstorms are a regular occurrence in the summer. They build over the Front Range and usually role in about 3 pm. You can set your watch to them. That day was no exception. The winds picked up, and we went back inside.

I waited at the airfield for an hour or so until the storm blew through. Then my instructor and I went back out to the plane. Two landings later, he decided to cut me loose. We taxied back to the ramp, he jumped out, I closed the canopy, restarted the engine and taxied out.

Of that flight the thing I remember the clearest is taxiing to the runway. I was nervous as hell. I was talking to myself the whole way out, try to stay focused and calm. I clicked my tongue just to hear the sound in my headset. I didn’t want it to fall silent in the cockpit.

It bears mentioning here, that when flying with the instructor, there is always the feeling of safety. You know there is someone next to you who can fly the plane and will fix things if something goes wrong. My own ability, however was still very much in doubt. When you’re learning fly, your focus is outside and on your instruments. You listen to your instructor, but you usually don’t look at him. Most of the time I had no idea what my instructor was doing in the seat next to me. Even though I had my hands on the stick and throttle every time I flew, it was easy for me to imagine that my instructor might somehow have his hands on the controls and be helping me out.

When you fly solo, however, this illusion vanishes completely. There is no one to help you if something goes wrong. However, there is also no one else flying the plane. It is the complete and ultimate reassurance that you CAN, in fact, fly an airplane, and this is an incredible feeling.

Finally I reached the end of the runway. The pattern was empty. The afternoon storms had sent everyone else home. The weather was still bad over the practice areas to the east, and more bad weather was forecast. I was simply taking advantage of a break in the winds.

The tower cleared me for takeoff. I taxied onto the runway and pushed the throttles up. As I reached rotation speed, I eased the stick back, and the Diamond climbed into the air. As soon as I was airborne, I knew everything was okay. I had it. I relaxed, and flew a pattern.

Flying solo for the first time

I landed, then taxied back to the end of the runway for another pattern. Once again, I took off, then flew around the box. This time I wasn’t happy with the way I was lined up for landing, so I did a go around, landing fine on the second approach.

I had planned on doing another pattern, but the winds were starting to pick up again, so the tower advised me to go in. I taxied back to the ramp and shut down. I walked proudly back to the flying squadron.

The civilian flying community has a tradition of cutting off the back of a pilot’s shirt after his initial solo. The Air Force doesn’t do this. Instead, a pilot who has just completed his initial solo is grabbed by his fellow students and thrown unceremoniously into a large tank of water kept at the airfield expressly for that purpose. I didn’t escape this fate.

Three of my classmates were still at the airfield, all big guys. They hadn’t been able to get back to the Academy’s airfield before the storms hit, so they had landed at the Colorado Springs airport until the weather passed. They got back before I took off on my solo flight and stuck around to make sure I got soaked afterwards. They grabbed me as I walked off the ramp, carried me over to the tank and tossed me in. Quite frankly, I didn’t mind. I was far too overjoyed with the fact that I had just soloed to care about the fact that I was now sopping wet. Only one thing mattered to me:

I could fly.

Soaked after being thrown in the solo tank

Posted by: Karla K Goodhouse | May 21, 2012

Aerial Photo of the Week

So, I’m a pilot. And I love flying. Pilots get to see the world in a way no one else can.

So I thought I’d share some of my aerial photos.

Flying west towards the sunset in a DA-42 Twinstar.

Posted by: Karla K Goodhouse | May 7, 2012

Thoughts on Books, Movies and Sequels

There are a lot of good books and good movies out there. (Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad ones too, but I’m not going to talk about those in this post.) A good story, be it a book or movie, needs to have certain elements. First and foremost, it needs a good plot. Second it has to be well told. By this I mean well written in the case of books, and well directed, with good cinematography in regards to movies. Lastly, the book needs good, strong, likeable characters.

Characters, I think, is what brings the reader or viewer back for more. We acknowledge that a story was good, but we want to see more of the characters, learn more about them and (in action/adventure tales) see them kick more ass.

Authors for the most part seem to get this. The literary world is filled with authors from Agatha Christie to Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy, who write book after book with the same main character. (Truth be told, we authors love our characters just as much as our readers do. I really enjoy seeing what new trouble I can create for Martina and Rachel to find themselves in.) And we readers are always eager to get the next book in the series, just so we can see what our favorite characters are up to now.

But there’s a disconnect when it comes to movies. It seems moviegoers are constantly complaining about the lack of originality in Hollywood. (And quite frankly, considering that they’ve started making movies based on self help books! who can blame them?) People think it’s a bad thing that the summer movie line up is all sequels. And then there is the old adage that the sequel is never as good as the original.

So where in does the disconnect lie? Why are book series great, but movie sequels not so much?

Personally, I think this is because of the intent of the writer. Authors know readers love series. We know we love to write with the same characters. So we write our books with the thought in mind that there will be another book. (After all, we’re creative people and may very well already have the idea in our head for the next book.) Keep in mind I’m not speaking about series where the plots continues through multiple books, like Harry Potter or Lord of The Rings. I’m talking about books and movies where each book is a complete story, with it’s own set of villains and obstacles. The heroes stay the same from book to book, but the conflict changes each time.

Movies, on the other hand, are written to be a complete story. The screenwriter creates a set of characters and then brings their story to a conclusion, not anticipating that they will return. Instead, they think the viewer wants a “happily ever after” type ending to the story, a definitive conclusion to those characters’ story. The idea of a sequel doesn’t come into play until the movie is successful at the theaters. The studio realizes there is a market for a sequel. Then the creators have to bring the characters back, when their story was written to be complete. And it doesn’t always work so well. (At least, this is what I’m speculating, because I’m an author and don’t have much knowledge of the workings of Hollywood.)

Sometimes writing a movie sequel means bringing back a conflict that was thought to be resolved in the first story, which personally irks me as a viewer, because I thought that problem had already been fixed.  All too often there are inconsistencies between the original movie and the sequel, even when the sequel has a fresh plot.  I think another pitfall moviemakers encounter is that they try to re-use the first movies formula in the hopes that it will be successful, but instead it goes stale. That said, there are certain types movies which lend themselves better to sequels than others. And there ARE many sequels that are good, some even better than the original. But, when it comes to movies, we rarely see a series last longer than three movies, while authors frequently write series of ten or even twenty or more books, all featuring the same characters.

There is one notable exception to this rule, and that is the James Bond series. (Once again, keep in mind I’m not talking about movies like the Star Wars trilogy, which have the same conflict throughout the films.) This may be due in part to the fact that the movies come from a series of novels by Ian Fleming. The James Bond movies are written like books, at least in regards to the fact that the writers know there will be another movie. This is evident by the quote which appears at the end of every movie “James Bond Will Return.” It’s a promise to the viewer. The writers know this isn’t the end. Bond will be back for another adventure. He’s a character audiences love and we will always want to see more of him.  This is why there have been 23 James Bond movies made and there will continue to be more. No other film character comes close to that.

Personally, I’m a huge James Bond fan, and these movies have definitely been a strong influence on my writing. If you’d like to meet my characters, click here, or visit my website http://www.karlakgoodhouse.com/. I’ll be posting more Martina and Rachel in the near future too, so stay tuned!

HELLFIRE is available online from these sellers:

EBOOK ($2.99): Amazon

PAPERBACK (Price Varies): Createspace, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million

An Aston Martin at the Barrett-Jackson auto auction – the classic James Bond car.

Posted by: Karla K Goodhouse | November 14, 2011

Memorable Flights: You Never Forget the First Time

The first plane I ever flew – a 1942 Belgian Stampe at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome

It was an overcast day in late August, the last Saturday before the start of my sophomore year of high school. My folks had loaded me and my younger brother into the car and drove an hour west into New York. Our destination was the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, which housed a fabulous collection of vintage flying World War I aircraft. It was sure to be a hit with any twelve year old boy and a fourteen year old girl who was completely fascinated with flight.

Walking in past a few old hangars, we saw a number of brightly painted biplanes and triplanes, parked with their noses facing us. All that separated us from the planes was a small fence. Behind the planes was a long grass strip. From time to time, a 1929 New Standard biplane took off and landed, giving rides to the visitors.

We walked up and down the road in front of the fence, looking at the airplanes on the other side. We stopped in the hangars, and then walked up the hill to check out the exhibits housed in a few old barns. Returning back to the grass strip, we got tickets for me, my father and my brother to take a ride in the New Standard.

Rhinebeck’s New Standard was a big plane, painted black with red and yellow markings. It had been used for smuggling during prohibition and could seat four passengers in the back. We put on old leather helmets and flight goggles, and climbed aboard for a quick fifteen minute flight. The biplane flight was the part of the trip I’d been looking forward to the most. I’d flown on the big passenger jets many times, traveling with my family, but I always loved being airborne. We taxied to the end of the runway and took off. The pilot gave us a short aerial tour and headed back towards the aerodrome. 

Back on the ground, we headed over to the rows of benches up against the trees, to get our seats for the afternoon’s airshow. As we were walking along, they announced that they were looking for women volunteers to be in a 1920′s fashion show before the big event. My younger brother immediately turned to me and said “You should do that!”

I wasn’t too keen on the idea myself, but he insisted. Twenty minutes later I found myself standing on a stage in front of the crowd with about a dozen other women. I was wearing a long white dress and hat from the 1920′s, along with my sandals, which looked quite out of place. They called us to the center stage one by one and described what each of us were wearing.

Then a row of old cars pulled up and the volunteers ushered the ladies from the fashion show into the cars. Now this made the whole getting dress up thing worth it. I loved old cars! Most cars held three or four people, but I ended up as the sole passenger in a very nice 1920 Buick Roadster. As we drove along in front of the crowd, the man driving the car asked me what I thought of the Aerodrome. I told him I loved the planes and how I wanted to be a pilot.

“How would you like to fly one of ours?” he asked.

“Would I ever!”

“Come find me after the show,” he said. “I’ll have one of the pilots take you up.”

The cars drove down to the end of the runway and turned around, letting the passengers out at the stage. I took off my dress, gave it back to the Aerodrome volunteers and ran over to my folks, so excited I could barely contain myself.

“I get to fly one of the planes!” I quickly told them the details.

But I had to wait until the end of the airshow. The show itself was a lot of fun, featuring such things as the oldest flying airplane in the world (a Bleriot which only gets a few feet off the ground) and the only man to loop a Piper Cub (the engine always cut out at the top of the loop, so he would fly back and land without power.) There was a vintage biplane dogfight and, of course, the toilet paper cutting competition.

After the show, I ran over to the fence, and quickly found the man who had been driving the Buick. He introduced me to one of the pilots, who led me over to a 1942 Belgian Stampe, a beautiful blue and white biplane with a number 7 painted on the cowling. The pilot told me to sit in the front seat.

“When we get airborne, I’ll reach over and tap you on the shoulder,” he said. “Then it’s all your’s.”

I climbed into the front seat. The cockpit was bare. There were no instruments of any kind, just a stick and rudder pedals. The pilot got in the back seat. The plane needed to be hand propped to start the engines. It took a few swings, but soon the propeller was spinning in front of my face, blasting us with wind. The pilot taxied to the end of the runway, turned around, and pushed the throttle forward. The plane rolled across the grass and leapt into the air.

We swung to the south, and climbed up a thousand feet or so. Below me stretched green, rolling hills. To the west, the Hudson river cut through the trees, winding along like a snake.

I felt a hand tap me on the shoulder. I reached up and wrapped my hand around the stick. Cautiously, I pushed the column to the left. The plane responded, gently banking in that direction. I nudged the control column back to the right, and the Stampe turned in the other direction. I grinned widely. It was amazing.

I was flying.

www.karlakgoodhouse.com

Dressed for the Ladies’ Fashion Show

   

 

Riding in the 1920 Buick Roadster

Posted by: Karla K Goodhouse | November 5, 2011

Evolution

I’ve spent the past week or two going through a bunch of my old writing. I have several old notebooks and papers filled with the stories I wrote when I was young. They span from one that I wrote when I was four or five years old (it was actually dictated to my mother) to the point when I finally got a computer shortly before I turned fifteen, and include the early Martina Redrick novels. My purpose in putting these old stories on my computer was two-fold. First is simply to preserve them. Most of the very early stuff is written in pencil, which fades over time, and in some cases, the paper the stories were written on has become beat up. The second reason is to give me easy access to the material. I like to go back through my old writing from time to time. I sometimes use it as source material, but more often I just like to find specific things I wrote and reread them.

This, however, has been the first time I’ve gone through EVERYTHING I have. It’s impossible not to read things as I type them, and it’s been pretty interesting. I didn’t type up the stories in order. In fact, I don’t know the order in which the stories were written, as most aren’t dated. (Although I can guess based on my handwriting, which has changed significantly throughout the years.) I basically typed them up in the order I found them in, giving some considerations to story length. For the most part, these stories are tales I wrote down for fun, not school assignments. (I do have some school papers, and I intend to type those up as well.)

For me, the most interesting part of this undertaking has been observing how my writing has changed over the years. There are many striking similarities between the stories I wrote when I was very young and the ones I wrote in my early twenties. Surprisingly, my style and voice hasn’t changed that much over the years. Although it has definitely become more developed and refined, the basic element of my voice hasn’t changed. I still favor the same descriptive style. Fortunately, I am certainly a more skilled writer than I was when I was eight or ten, but the origins of the voice I write in today can easily be found in my early works.

From the beginning, I wrote adventure stories. The characters and settings changed, but the genre never did. Going back through the old books, I’ve found fights, epic battles, and sinister villains. It’s clear that I’ve always favored strong female main characters. Most of the stories are written in third person, which I still prefer.

What surprises me the most is that I clearly knew the elements of a good story from the start. I knew how to frame a tales, how to introduce my characters, how to create suspense. I always tried to be descriptive as possible, although I wasn’t the best at that early on. Thankfully, it’s gotten much better. The necessary elements of conflict were always present in my writing, and I’ve always been able to craft well defined characters.

There are a lot of differences too. The biggest is probably the subjects of my works. My earliest stories were usually either tales about cats or younger girls. In the stories that feature humans, independence was a strong theme. This is probably because I greatly desired to be independent when I was young. Some time around the beginning of high school, my subjects changed. I shifted to writing about adult characters, and airplanes are featured prominently in my writing. There is no flying in my early work.

As I said, over the years, I’ve honed my writing skills. But by far, the biggest difference is the length of my stories. My early novels rarely reached over 2,000 words. One got up to about 7,000 and another just barely topped 20,000, but most are below 1,000 words. In contrast, my later books are all over 70,000 words. There’s a very clear point at which this happened, right about the start of my sophomore year of high school. I completed one novel, with Martina as the main character, which was by far both my longest and best work up to that point, in terms of quality of writing. Since then, all of my stories have met or exceeded the 70,000 word mark.

I still have a few long stories to type up, and a bunch of school assignments which I also want to preserve. Right now I’m going to take a break from that and go back to getting Firebird ready for my editor. However, it’s definitely been a lot of fun going back through all my old stuff. A lot of the stories I hadn’t looked at in over ten years. A few were so suspenseful, I actually found myself reading ahead, trying to remember what happened next!

www.karlakgoodhouse.com

Posted by: Karla K Goodhouse | October 31, 2011

For Halloween

 

A B-25 doing a “bomb run”, dropping pumpkins from they sky. Happy Halloween!

www.karlakgoodhouse.com

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