Saturday, August 12, 2017

Samantha Swords, an Inspiration

Samantha Swords

In doing research for combat in my books, specifically for Pelya Jornin, the main character of the Dralin and Wyvern Series, I came across a phenomenal woman by the name of Samantha Swords.  Samantha practices and studies European Martial Arts. She also works as cast and crew in the film industry including time at WETA. She's been kind enough to answer a couple of questions I've had about combat with a sword.

Her Tumblr and YouTube have oodles of information on swordplay and the culture surrounding it in modern day.

Samantha Swords on Tumblr
Samantha Swords on YouTube
Samantha Swords on Facebook

New Zealand/Aussie artist, actor, writer & sword-fighter, works in the film industry as cast and crew. Outgoing, adventurous & loving life!

European Martial Arts

Samantha is a student of European Martial Arts. In this video, she states:

Historical European Martial Arts are the martial arts of medieval Europe. Yes, they existed. They were very complicated, very beautiful, just as like the Asian martial arts are. And, unfortunately, they died out, which is why most of us don’t actually know about them these days. But for those of us who are completely crazy about swords, we have been recreating the arts from fighting manuals- books that were left from the people who actually studied in those ancient times.

Like much epic fantasy in books, the world of Ryallon has styles of swordplay similar to that used in Europe.  Granted my characters have magic at their disposal along with supernatural abilities, but the basics still apply.

Much of my writing of combat scenes stretches the abilities of a person beyond what's physically capable.  It's exciting to imagine someone whirling through the air while spinning blades.  However, I believe it important to add as much realism into the details. Pelya Jornin's timeline has her learning martial arts, both physically and intellectually, from the age of four.  She has talent and the work ethic to become one of the best in the world of Ryallon.  She's earned it rather than just picking up a sword and becoming an insta-expert like in many stories.

Weekend Warrior

Samantha is participating in an experimental live action event in September.

Her brief description of the event:

The Kingsmen are my faction in Weekend Warrior- an experiential live action event that will be filmed, documentary style, and challenge you in a new form of medieval-style outdoor adventure. 
I’m joining forces with Skip Lipman and Ron Newcomb of the Forge Studios- they’re well known for the series, ‘The Rangers’, and also Zan Campbell of Fell and Fair, and together we’re creating this event.

An Inspiration

I believe Samantha Swords is an inspiration for young women and anyone to explore their dreams and confront their fears to flourish.  Life can be hard to face.  Sometimes it's best to come with a sword in hand and the ability to use it.

All my best,

John H. Carroll

P.S.  The emo bunnies like her too.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Tesla Electric Car Swing Station Concept

Tesla Electric Cars

Elon Musk is beginning to deliver electric cars to masses this year with the advent of the Model 3

These cars look amazing.  I truly believe it's going to change the way we drive over the next 20 years.  Hopefully we'll get flying cars next.  Until that time, this is the future and present of cars and it's exciting!

Charging Stations

Technology has increased to the point where an electric car can be charged at a fantastic rate, but it still takes half an hour or longer to fully charge one.  (scroll to the bottom)

This is exceptional compared to where we used to be, but in today's world, many people will still consider it to be a reason not to buy.  People hate waiting (myself included).  There's another potential solution for the future.  It's a concept borrowed from the old west, which was borrowed from ancient times and the need to get messages from one place to the other with as little delay as possible.

Swing Station

In the old west, the Pony Express as well as stagecoach companies would have swing stations where riders and coaches could exchange for fresh horses.  This enabled them to continue their journey without delay.

Tesla Swing Stations

I consider this to be an unlikely scenario, but one that is interesting from a sci-fi point of view and whose potential is worth considering.

Tesla, or other companies could come up with a program where a person joins for a fee.  In exchange, they can drive an electric car to a swing station, and rather than wait for their car to recharge, they just move their belongings to another electric car.  At the next station, they drop that one off and switch to another.  Thus there would be limited wasted time on long journeys.

It could be a viable option for busy travelers such as salespeople.  No matter where they went, there would always be a Tesla waiting for them.  They wouldn't have to worry about maintenance or upkeep of a vehicle.

Some of the Challenges

People would have to make certain their belongings went with them.
If a person did any damage it would be an extra charge.
The program would be expensive in order to cover the cost of all the vehicles.
The program would only take place once there were enough cars to make a large inventory affordable.
People like the comfort of owning their own car.  It's unlikely they would want to exchange vehicles on a regular basis.
The current system of rental cars may be a better solution
It would be unnecessary in cities where there will likely be charging stations in most locations at some point in the next 20 years, negating the need for wait times.  If your car charges at the restaurant, or while you're at work, then there's no need to exchange vehicles.

Battery swap

A concept of exhanging batteries at stations has already been considered by Tesla, so the idea of Swing Stations, may not be feasible.

The reception of the battery swap concept was presented by Elon Musk to his customers, but received little support

The Boring Company

If Elon Musk succeeds in his Boring Company and Car Sleds, the sleds that transfer the cars could charge them at the same time, reducing the need for swing stations.  The swing stations would be more for areas where the hyperloop didn't run, such as in the open lands of the west.

In Conclusion

This is an esoteric concept idea, one of countless possibilities for humanity's future.

All my best,

John H. Carroll

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Editing tip: Ensuring all quotation marks are in your manuscript

Quotation marks

You most likely know the definition, but here it is from Merriam Webster

Quotation Mark

One of a pair of punctuation marks 

“ ” or ‘ ’ 

used chiefly to indicate the beginning and 

end of a quotation

So now that we have that out of the way . . . 


NOTE:  It was noted by Hitch on MobileRead forums:

What happens when you have a character using multiple paragraphs, for his dialogue? In that instance, you would always have more opening quotation marks then closing--and it would be easy to have an odd number.

In this instance, it is true that my double tap method below will not work.  I suppose I may be unusual in that I never allow my characters to have dialogue in two paragraphs.  I always intersperse actions and counter dialogue between.  If you write otherwise, than please do not use the method listed below.


When writing a lot of dialogue, it's easy to miss the occasional quotation mark, or even to add an extra.  When editing that dialogue, it's easy to miss it again.  In fact, more missing quotations can appear when you're rearranging sentences.

Readers tend to notice those missing and extra quotation marks, bless their little hearts.

While discussing this problem with a good friend, she mentioned a method to catch all of the mistakes with quotation marks.  It's a bit tedious, but highly effective.

ctrl-f, or the find function.

Here is a screenshot of my first book in which I have 4649 quotation marks (I'm currently re-editing it).  That alone is an indication that there's an error.  As you may have deduced, there should always be an even number of quotation marks.

So far, I've only found 2 missing quotations in the first 1000 words, but there will be more.  In my last 2 books, I had 23 errors in over 7000 quotation marks and 37 errors in over 6000 quotation marks.

How to perform the search

Now as you might imagine, 5,6, or 7 thousand is a lot of quotation marks to do a search on.  I developed a rhythm of double tapping.  That was better, but still not efficient enough.  I then developed a rhythm of multiple double taps.  taptap, taptap, taptap, taptap.  At the end of each double tap, I should be at the end of a sentence and the search number should be an even number.  If not, then I know I missed one or have an extra.  I go back over the last few sentences and fix it.

This is still tedious and takes a half hour to an hour to complete.  I switch from right hand to left hand about every 1000 quotation marks.

That's all there is to it.

It's fairly simple, but that's it.  It's the very last step I take before formatting and publishing.  It's one of those details that sharpens the quality of your book.  It will improve the readability and make it so the reader is less likely to put your story down and go off to do other things.

All my best,

John H. Carroll

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Smashwords July Sale

All but my most recent 2 books are on sale @smashwords for at least half off, including a couple of freebies. A lot of other authors have their books on sale.  Click here to follow through, and feel free to shop for others too. :)


All my best,

John H. Carroll