Friday, December 30, 2011

A Life of Consequence

It’s the end of the year and it usually brings an overabundance of introspection and reflection and for me it’s not just “what did I accomplish this year” but I find I’m looking at the big picture.  Is my life shaping up the way I want it to?  Am I having an impact on things that matter to me?  Am I positioning myself to be able to influence things that are important to me?  I’m approaching the big 5 0 and that may have something to do with it.
I can remember being a fresh-faced lieutenant and looking at what seemed an endless dark tunnel of training and hoop jumping to get where I wanted to be.  It was great to finally get through that tunnel and into the daylight again.  It took years of hard work and dedication to see the light at the end, but I made it through.  The thing is, once I got over the fact that I had achieved my initial goals, I found that I was sitting on a knoll looking down at several more tunnel entrances.  It had opened up possibilities and I had choices but I was going to have to go through more training and learning if I chose to come down off the knoll.   It was nice sitting there for awhile, basking in the sunlight, but eventually you want more challenges.  You find that you are not fulfilled for whatever reason.  Maybe you aren’t doing what will really make you happy or have the impact that you want.  You have to choose a new tunnel and start the process all over.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Slacking and Star Wars and Merry Christmas!

I've been slack this week in doing a blog post but I've been enjoying the Christmas holidays and taking a little break.  I also got into the early beta and then early release of Star Wars: The Old Republic and have spent way too much time playing it.  It is absolutely what Star War Galaxies should have been.  The writing is fantastic, the voice acting is great and every quest has at least one cutscene.  The graphics are beautiful and the gameplay seems mostly balanced but the jury is still out on that one.  Overall I think Bioware hit a homerun with it.  The best part is my family is playing and we are doing battles together!  Five out of six of us are playing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Calling all cars ... err... beta readers!


I am mere weeks away from having my novel ready for Beta Readers.   My excitement is palpable.  I wasn’t this excited when I finished the 1st draft, but the thought that I can actually start the agent/publisher search for real is something I’ve looked forward to for a long time.  Before that happens I’d like to get the book into the hands of a few more seasoned readers that know my genres.   If you like vampires and Sci Fi adventure then this book may be up your alley.  It’s a character driven story, though, not a Michael Bey movie.   I would like to get some readers that like science fiction and can give constructive feedback.  I’m actually still looking for one more writing partner if anyone is interested in swapping some comprehensive edits.   Hiring an editor for a comprehensive edit will run about a grand and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Spark of Searching for Extraterrestrial Life

Charlie Stross pointed out an article and commentary that peaked my interest, dealing with SETI and the Fermi Paradox. The article was The Fermi Paradox, Self-Replicating Probes, and the Interstellar Transportation Bandwidth by Keith Wiley. Wiley's article was to do with the likelihood of Intelligent Aliens or lack thereof. 

If you aren't familiar with the Fermi Paradox, it basically states that the likelihood of intelligent life in the galaxy is high, given the huge number of stars and therefore planets in our galaxy, that intelligent extraterrestrial life should have been to visit us by now or at least left their evidence and yet we haven't found clue one.  There are lots of theories as to why and these essays delve into those arguments.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hero Shmero

Is it too much to ask that something great happen in our lives?   I mean monumental.   I think that most of us went through that phase in our early teens when we KNEW we were destined for great things.   We were handpicked to lead lives of consequence.   As I approach midlife and realize that the likelihood is lessening, I still find myself drawn to themes of greatness.
I can remember being a teenager and reading Lord of the Rings and learning the elvish alphabet.  My friends and I developed these back stories about our elvish character selves.  We felt like we had a secret knowledge that we were really going to be something special someday.  Of course it was fantasy, but I wonder if that is something that fades with time or is it that thing that draws us to stories of the same theme, whether it’s a movie or a book or an old wives tale.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving ..er..Christmas?

It's Thanksgiving morning and I just got off work.  I love Thanksgiving morning, my wife and I have turned it into a tradition that we work together to get the feast ready together. I cut the celery and the green onions while she fixed some cinnamon muffins, then she preps the dressing while I prep the bird, then we stuff the turkey and put in the oven and clean up together.  This meal is really not a bad one to do, we do much more complicated meals.   After the turkey is in the oven we have several hours to relax and do some fun stuff, like read or write or play video games or call home.  We don't normally travel on Thanksgiving, deciding a long time ago to make the tradition for our children here.  4 sets of parents to visit becomes a logistical nightmare so we just stopped and hope they will visit us occasionally.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

5 Things That Will Make Me Drop Your Book Like a Hot Potato

I read Chuck Wendig’s 25 things that will make me keep reading your story and it made me think, I have WAAAAAYYY more things that will make me STOP reading your story (Okay, I might have overstated that, it's ony 5 things).  And of course he posts about that very thing this morning.  ARRRRGGH!   Anyway, not to copy, but I had this idea in my head, so I’m going with it.
If I see a blurb that I like or a nice cover or get a recommendation from one of my friends, I will pick up your book and give it a fair shake.  Unlike Chuck, I'm not standing in the doorway with a gun in your face waiting to not like it.  If I‘ve gotten as far as cracking the cover and reading the first page I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt.  I’ll have the gun tucked into my belt, in back under my shirt, so you can’t see it.  I want to like it.  But there are a few things that will make me pull that gun out and blow your face clean off!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaNo Fail Whale

NaNoWriMo is never a waste of time in my humble opinion. I’m not going to hit the target this year of 50k words in 30 days, but the endeavor has its own rewards.

Last year I had a great idea and I think it will become my Master’s thesis and I had no trouble moving along. It was a simple idea but very open and I knew where it was going ultimately. I‘ve got stuff on the back burning and a backlog of ideas I want to explore but for this year I decided to try my hand at something completely outside of my comfort zone. The original idea was to try my hand at a YA tie- in to my current novel. But once I conceived of the idea it started to develop its own life. I thought it was just going to be in the same vein as my adult fiction, just from a different perspective, but as the idea started to coalesce it began to morph into more of a substantial piece, and basically even though the setting is several hundred years in the future it is not classic SF. It’s actually literary fiction, which is a completely different animal.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reconstruction (Revision)

This is a picture of the new intersection by my house. It really looks fantastic. I know, it’s hard to get excited about a road intersection but you have to keep in mind that this busy section of road has been undergoing construction for about a year and it has disrupted all our lives. They expanded the lanes -- completely resurfaced the entire stretch of road and then repainted all of it. It got me thinking how this is a good analogy of building a story. Originally this was a two lane road, with lots of pot holes and patches. Now it is a beautiful multilane road with smooth blacktop surfaces and fresh paint. It looks remarkably different and the traffic flow is substantially better.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

NaNo Doh!

I think I've gone and done it ... I've blow an O-ring or something and my motivation has been leaking out in vast quantities.  My wife said to blame it on biorhythms ... and that may be part of it, but in the last week I've barely been on any social media and have written almost nothing.   I've basically been vegging.  I haven't felt compelled to do anything creative, not even play a video game.   I have several projects going at the same time, including NaNoWriMo, and I think initially it may have been a reaction to overloading myself.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

NaNoWriMo Take 2

I can see that NaNoWriMo is going to be interrupting my planned schedule for posting this blog.  I had to fly on Thursday evening, so I tried to sneak in some writing at work, but it didn't leave me any blog time.  Posting the blog at work has been a near disaster so far.  The LAN we use is hermetically sealed and I feel lucky I can even get to blogspot at all.  I've also been fighting a cold and an abdominal muscle injury that is hampering my workouts considerably, but that really doesn' effect the blog any, just my demeanor.  But all that aside, trying to keep pace with my NaNoWriMo story is the real culprit.  I could have blogged last night, but I'm doing the exact opposite of what I had planned, which is fall dreadful behind, so I hemorraged words onto the NaNo WIP.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Say hello to the Nemesi!


Today marks my one year anniversary of my blog and it also happens to be Halloween, I thought it would be apropos to introduce my vampires from Clear Ether. I like the caste system and heritage of the vampires developed by White Wolf but I also wanted something with more of a scientific bent to it, so I barrowed elements from all my favorite vampire genre and added a few of my own. My vampires call themselves the Nemesi. Allow me to introduce them…

There are only a few old languages that have words for vampire -- Hungarian is one of them, and for good reason. That was where the vampires had first arisen on Earth.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Welcome to the 28th Century

This is the second installment on stuff about my novel, if you want to catch up the first entry is here.  This week I’m going to talk a little bit about the setting.  One of the major story arcs centers around the Quantum Gates.   I had to make some decisions on how long it would take to get to that technology and then disperse it out into the galaxy.   After some mental gymnastics I decided on setting the story in 2749.  I had some discussions with a couple of established SF novelists and they warned me about the problem of setting the book so far into the future.  The easiest way to deal with this is simply to avoid describing life on Earth in that time-frame, because trying to extrapolate living conditions and politics will invariably miss the mark, with me either going far off in the weeds or maybe only a little way off the road.  But the story starts on Earth, so I decided to add a major catastrophe to slow down some aspects of technology and societal evolution. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wendigisms

I’ve decided to keep track of my new favorite author’s metaphors/similes. The man is Chuck Wendig and I’m going to call these Wendigisms. The man is a prodigy when it comes to metaphor and creative use of the English language, the Maestro of Metaphor. I’ll be mining his metaphorical gold nuggets and keeping a list of my favorites. I’ll be mainlining those gold veins like a heroin junkie. That’s right, I’m addicted. I’m sure Chuck, er, the Maestro, could have created a better metaphor there; I am merely the keeper of the archive. He is a writer of many forms, and he pontificates over at Terribleminds. What … are you still here? I’ll wait…



This is by no means a complete list, in fact it barely scratches the mildewed linoleum surface, but I intend to keep adding more. These are posted here with his permission. I welcome your suggestions.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Evolution of a Story

I talk to people all the time who, when they find out I’m a writer, tell me how they would love to write but can never come up with any ORIGINAL IDEAStm There are no really ORIGINAL IDEAStm anymore, supposedly, that may also be a lie, but let’s take it on faith that this is true. What there are, are variations on a theme … a juxtapositioning of notions with a different perspective or twist. You CAN find these if you try. I know I did, but it was a meandering path. It was like a seed that mutated as it grew, like a mad Dr. Frankenstein kept adding parts to it. I’m going to share how my current work-in-progress came to be the story that it currently is. I say currently because I’m still revising it. It likely won’t have any substantial changes at this point though, as it’s pretty well fully formed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Why do we do it? (No excuse, sir!)

Get that chin in, maggot!  Oh, sorry, flashback. There is only one answer to a "Why" question when you're a freshman at the Academy, but I digress... 

There’s been a lot of noise on the interwebs lately about how or why people should blog or even in some cases not bother to blog at all.  Some of it I agree with and some of it I think is bordering on the ridiculous, but is that really anything new?  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  

I am fast approaching my one year anniversary on this blog and looking back I had no idea what I was going to do with this site when I started.  The entire purpose has always been just to have a space out here in the nether to share stuff that interested me, and the largest focus has been on writing, because that is what I’m doing with the bulk of my “spare” time.  On the other hand, I always did intend this to be a place to connect with other people.  I am extremely flattered that anyone is reading this stuff.  I’ve found that I really like to see people stopping by and reading and leaving comments, it has its own addiction.   I love being able to connect to my favorite authors in this new electric frontier, it’s easier than ever before, so in that vein I started this blog with the hopes of one day having my book published and have a place to connect with my readers.  Maybe that’s conceited, it’s certainly not intended to be -- I like to think of it as hopeful.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pimping a book: Gabriel's Return


Do you like Science Fiction?  If you do, you will love the new series by Steve Umstead.  I read a review comparing Evan Gabriel with Snake Plissken and it is on the mark.  Think Snake Plissken on Mars, subtract the cheese, add a dollop of interstellar intrigue and pulse rifles and you have the world of Commander Evan Gabriel.
This is a new thing for me, I’ve only done a few book reviews in my time, but when I heard that Steve was releasing his second book and looking for a little help generating some interest I jumped in with both feet.  Hope you don't mind if I wax eloquently on his new release.  No fancy bells or whistles here, just old-fashioned word of mouth.

I met Steve on twitter about a year ago and he was still working on his first release, Gabriel’s Redemption, and I immediately liked him.  When his book was published I bought it knowing full-well that it was self-published and wanted to throw him a bone, but it was extremely well-crafted, WITHOUT a lot of the pitfalls you hear about in the DIY format.  But that wasn’t all, the story moved fast and even though the protagonist is a grim man, it captured my attention from the word go.  I absolutely love his “Neuretics”, they are one of the cooler concepts I’ve read in quite awhile.  Frankly, I'd love to steal this concept for my novel.  His near future world is extremely believable and his projected technology works like a charm.  Neuretics are a form of integrated brain-slash-nervous system-slash-secure internet-slash-radio tech that thoroughly rocks my world!  In Gabriel’s Return we find Commander Evan Gabriel in a happier place, and with a love interest.  I have to say the new life suits him well, even if he’s not entirely comfortable with it.  The second book is so often a letdown, but in this case it is an upgrade to the original.  Steve is getting better as a writer and it shows.   This Clancyesque story line takes us across the galaxy, but the stakes are more personal and more meaningful, ultimately creating a much more satisfying story.  I honestly can’t wait for the third book!  

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Belated Blog Awards and NaNoWriMo!


I’ve been strangely busy in the evenings the last couple of weeks; either that or I’ve been playing too much on World of Warcraft of my new beta test group Star Wars the Old Republic!  Can’t really talk about that but suffice to say it’s pretty damned awesome. 

I’ve been meaning to put up my new blog award for several weeks, and just got another one, so I’m putting them both up together.

Many thanks to Megan Lollman!  Her blog is Megan Rae Lollman: Words from an aspiring author from the Midwest.  She awarded me the Liebster Blog Award, which is aimed to showcase bloggers with less than 200 followers.  The rules:

Friday, September 23, 2011

"What's it about?"

I don't know about you, but when people find out I'm writing a book, they get very excited and ask me what it's about.  I have a real problem here.  I actually get a little embarrassed by this question, as if being a science fiction writer is akin to being a junkie or a male prostitute or something equally vile.  I don't know why.  I love science fiction!  I mean I rarely read anything else, I love almost all the genres of SciFi equally.  I also like the vampire genre a great deal.  There is some really great stuff out there, and some really crappy stuff too.  I'm hopeful that mine's not falling in the latter camp.


My WIP doesn't fall into an easily definable category.  It's not a vampire story that has roots in the Dracula type vampire, at least not completely.  It has elements of the traditional vampire, but mine are called Nemesi and they started from an alien virus.  See? ... science fiction.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Revising, revising, revising, and a little reading

I’m reading Chuck Wendig’s book on writing, CONFESSIONS OF A FREELANCE PENMONKEY, and it’s not only chock full of good writing tips but is also very entertaining.  He has a flair for metaphor and colorful language, so be warned.  But, I absolutely love Chuck Wendig, he is irreverent and cheeky  and is genuinely funny.  One of the things I’ve plucked out of the reading is something I didn’t really have in mind when writing the book, but I think it’s instrumental in creating a story that is engrossing and something that will draw the reader to the next page.  That something is tension, or more precisely, building the tension. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I care, but that doesn't mean I'll change it

     A friend of mine stopped me the other day to tell me that he had posted his very first book review and to their surprise the author wrote them back almost immediately.  His review was a 2 star review and although he was polite he pointed out some things he didn't like about the book.  It was in a genre he is very well read in and felt like the book didn't live up to expectations.  He did write a few nice things too.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

World of Warcraft is the Bane of Productivity!

     I have to come clean.  I’m addicted to World of Warcraft.  That’s the first step, right?  Back before I started writing my novel, I mean years and years before I pretty much didn’t do anything productive with my free time.  I played Massive Multiplayer Online games.  I’ve played a lot of them, starting with the old Neverwinter Nights game on AOL, Meridian 59, Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot, Everquest, Star Wars Galaxies, Everquest 2 and then the mother of all of them … World of Warcraft.  That’s not even all of them but you get the idea.  I played WoW for probably close to 4 years then finally tired of it and started writing in my spare time instead.  I can’t tell you how good it made me feel to do something at least semi-productive with my “free” time. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Would my real start please stand up?

I've been studying structure and reading my favorite blogs in the off time when I’m not working on my rewrite.   There‘s lots of great advice out there if you look for it but there is nobody to give you the “right” answer on how your book should actually start.  I've started this book 5 different ways, each rewritten several times ... a longwinded lead up to where the story starts, a hook that had nothing to do with the story, a start with no real hook, a start with a hook that actually has something to do with the plot but not the main plot.  Would my real start please stand up? 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Truth and Consequences


     Philip Dick has been getting a lot of attention the last few years, and has been the inspiration for a few movies that I really like, Blade Runner being my favorite. I just recently finished reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which is the basis for the screenplay of Blade Runner, even though it is hardly recognizable. The book is dark, even darker than the movie. Take Blade Runner and make everyone dying of radiation poisoning and going slowly insane. Dick often asks questions about reality and our perception of it and then takes it one step further. There is an interesting quote in the book I just read, let me share it with you:


"You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe."

   

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Inspirations to Get in Your Character's Head

     In case you missed it, I finished the 1st draft of the WIP.   You get to go on this journey with me as I move to this next phase, the rewriting phase.


     I have two main POV characters, and they are as different as night and day.  For the first pass I've decided that I am going to go back through and stay with one character's story line to the end of the book just to stay in their head and get their voice right and try to tighten up their perspective.  I have a little helper to get me in the right mindset -- it's called music.  =)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Structure and Style

     I have something to share before I get into this week's topic.  It happened!  I finished my first draft on the 31st of July!  It was a bit anticlimactic, and I was starting to wonder when I was going to be finished.  It seemed like I was paragraphs away from finishing and the finish line keep moving away from me.  I think I wrote another 11k words when I thought I had less than 500 to go.  I had the most productive week ever, with multiple days of 5 and 6 thousand words.  But it's actually done at 597 pages and 131,464 words.  That was quite a bit more than I originally planned, but with hope it will slim down, as now come the rewrites.  I am going to try to let it breath for a bit, but I'll likely be breaking out the scalpel and duct tape sooner rather than later.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Potpouri

I managed to get my next test in the AWC block taken in 6 weeks instead of 3 months, but it still hasn't been graded,and its been a week since I submitted it.  That means my timeline is in the toilet.  There is now no way I can finish it with several weeks between tests.  Not before October.  But the good news is I don't have to devote so much of my time to it.  I have an extra year tacked on now till the next board meets, so I can focus more energy on my writing.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

To Pay, or Not to Pay? That is the Question ...to the editor I mean.

I've been thinking a lot about editing lately.  I can't judge how good my own writing is, I'm too close to it and have read it so many times I can't evaluate it objectively.  I also want to know where the glaring problems are so that I can fix them.  Thankfully I have a writing partner, but even after that process I might want to have a "Real" editor take a whack at it (no offense meant Stacy).  Looking at the average cost for a novel of 500 pages or 120,000ish words it runs around $1500.  It can vary up and down from that several hundred dollars, but let's use that as a baseline figure.  In order to recoup that cost I have to sell books.  If I put it up on Amazon for $3.99 I get to keep 70% of that or $2.79.  That would require me to sell 536 books to hit the break even point and that is not even counting the cost of getting it published.  If I choose to sell it at $2.99, I get  $2.09 and have to sell 718 copies.  If I choose the $.99 pricepoint many new authors are using I get $.35 a copy and that requires 4286 books to sell to hit the break even point.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Life Cycle of an Idea

     Kids are able to make up stuff on the fly, but as adults we have a really hard time with people changing stuff on us. Why is that? Do you remember when you were a kid and the world was full of wonder and nothing seemed impossible? We could dream big. One of my dreams was to be an astronaut -- I really wanted to be Han Solo, truth be told. We could tell outlandish stories to our friends that made no sense, but we told them anyway because it was fun! Remember fun? I see my kids do it all the time. They take a simple idea and run it over and then back over it and run it over several more times, making it different each time and laughing all the way.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Respond!?!

I've been wondering what makes people respond to blogs. There are several that I check almost daily, and some gets hundreds of responses and some get almost none. One of my favorites is Charlie Stross. He has a robust and regular posting that is usually thought provoking on purpose and he has a very intellectual group of followers that love to mix it up. I don’t feel smart enough to even post on his site, but I love to lurk. Another of my favorites is new author Mary Robinette Kowal, who is also very regular in her postings, but I don’t think I‘ve ever seen more than a handful of responses to her posts. She isn’t fishing for responses and it doesn’t seem to matter to her. I have no idea how many hits she is getting, but whoever they are rarely engage with her. I think she’s fascinating.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

More Cowbell!

If you haven’t seen the classic skit on Saturday Night live, here is a link.  I think it’s apropos to what I want to talk about this week.  It’s all about adding the right components to your story as you go along.  Maybe not quite that much cowbell, but definitely more.   It may not be quite as important on the first draft, but it really needs to be paid attention to in the rewrite phases.   If you’re an aspiring writer you really should be listening to Writing Excuses.  They have a real knack for presenting material in a way that is easy to understand and provides some great instruction.   They just added the wonderful Mary Robinette Kowal to their permanent team and this week’s episode was about Internal Motivations.  She is a great add and she has a fascinating take on how to write and is very good at clearly describing how she thinks about it. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

      I love my family! They give me purpose and fill me with joy (most of the time). I was thinking about writing something up about my father and what he means to me, but this year I'm going to focus on being the father.

      



These pictures are from the card my youngest daughter made for me, it bled through on the scanner a little.

       I read stories of father's that never loose their temper and always know what to say. That's not me. I wish I could keep my cool, but I get mad when the don't do what their told and at times seem like they would rather argue with me than help me. I'm pretty easy going most of the time. People at work wouldn't recognize the "yeller" that I am at home sometimes, but at work people generally don't argue with me for the sake of it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I love eBooks but Book Stores are the Bomb!

I had a really enjoyable time this morning.  On the spur of the moment I stopped at a brick and mortar bookstore on the way back from Indianapolis.   It had been several years since I’ve been in a good one and I found it stimulating and ridiculously fun.  It was like going to a candy store.  Since I’ve started writing with a purpose and learning the craft, my appreciation for good stories and great crafters of phrase has increased dramatically.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Graduation Speech


My daughter graduated this past weekend and she had a speaking role.  We didn't get a preview of her speech and were blown away by not only the content of her speech but the professional delivery.  I've had a couple of WOW moments with her and this was one of them.  I just wanted to share the speech here:


Why Growing up is Bad for Your Health

So, upon being told that I was to be Salutatorian, I decided it would be a good idea to look up what a Salutatorian does. It’s not always a good sign when you can barely say your own title without messing it up. I mean, that has a coolness factor to it and everything, but not very telling of what I’m supposed to do besides make a fool of myself up here. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Blog Award


The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award

I was presented with this award by the wonderful Kristie McMartin http://lifebykiki.weebly.com/everyday-epiphanies.html

And she was presented the award by her friend Pippa Jay  http://keirbeyondredemption.blogspot.com/

Thanks to both of you!

The rules of this award are as follows: 
1. Thank and add a Link To the Person who Nominated You.
2. Share Seven Random Facts About Yourself.
3. Pass the Award on to 15 deserving blog buddies.
4. Contact those buddies to let them know.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I created a new page to hold my artwork

The link is on the top navigation bar.  I just finished a picture a my daughter for a graduation gift.



There are a few other pieces and some Photoshop things I played around with.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Finding Your Voice

Point of view is a basic building block of writing a story.  It’s the vantage point from which a story is told.  When done well, it can really make your story pop.  First person is obvious; you are in the head of the main character and stay there.  2nd person is a little strange, and rarely used in story form, but puts the reader into the story, referring to “you” instead of the “I” of 1st person.   3rd person is the most commonly used form for narratives and has many forms, from Omniscient, where you see into everyone’s head, to Objective, where you see into nobody’s head, to Subjective, where you have the point of view of a particular character.  Subjective seems to be coming into vogue, and to me, it gives you, the writer, a lot more options to do interesting things.   Limited 3rd person POV falls in this category and I’m using it for my current WIP.  I started with the story in 1st person, but I decided to bring in a second main character, so I needed to change up how I was writing it. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Do Genres Hurt or Help?

      Genre derives from the French around 1770 referring to independent style.  It is useful when looking for similar types of literary work, but it can be very limiting.  In Science Fiction alone there are 10 sub-genres listed in Wikipedia plus one for other, which covers a lot of ground left untouched.  Then there’s mixing genres, like fantasy and science fiction or romance and horror, referred to as paranormal romance.  Romance is very popular in most genres it seems and there is even a new sub-genre for science fiction called Science Fiction Romance.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tearjerker or just Jerky?

      I hate crappy endings. It’s a real drag when you've invested time and emotional energy into a story and then get slapped in the face at the end when one of the main characters dies. I read books and watch movies for entertainment and to escape the worries that plague us in the real world. I don’t mind a little emotional turmoil, as long as it's accompanied with some heroic action, or overcoming the odds. That’s the stuff that really gets me. Most of us want to feel something while we are experiencing the story and it’s the authors job to bring that to the table, but sometimes they go for the big hit by killing someone that wasn't really necessary to kill, but creates a big emotional impact.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A few distractions

I've been taking an art class on Monday evenings and trying to improve my penciling.  This was my first try after many years:
It's far from perfect, but its a starting point.  I need to work on my shading a lot more.  One of the guys in my class is unbelievably good at it.


Next I decided to try some pastel chalk drawing.  I've never used it before so I decided to start with something I thought would be easier than a face:


I'm working on a new pastel chalk that is secret.  it's going to be a gift for someone.  I'll post it when I finish and give it to the recipient.  I would post my work in progress, but the person reads this blog occasionally.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Bring the pain!


I’ve started reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks, and he has a refreshing take on how to craft your stories. One of his main tenants is you have to have a Theme. The theme is the thing you’re trying to evoke or to relate to real life, something to hang the structure of your story on. It’s really crucial to keep this in mind, especially if you’re a pantser like I am. What is a pantser? It means you write by the seat of your pants. The phrase developed as a reference to pilots at the turn of the century, as flying by the seat of their pants. There were no instruments in those days so they had to rely on their own senses for a lot of navigating and maneuvering, which could be very tricky. It relates well to writing without a strong outline, letting your characters dictate a lot of what happens.  There can be a lot of pitfalls with this approach if you aren't careful.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

This and That

     Just wanted to get in an update. I've started writing again. I've decided that I need to write a little to keep the spark alive and to give myself something to look forward to. I am taking my first test next week and I need to bear down and focus. We had a big inspection at work this week and it went very well, but my studying was nearly nonexistent. I've decided I need to have a deadline in order to put the pressure on and help hone the focus. I really want to power through these subjects and get past it. I really want to get back to writing regularly, I miss it. There was a time when I knew if I was writing I was doing the right thing. But with this course hanging over my head I feel guilt when I write instead of study.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Free Your Fireflies of Imagination

Not writing has been a weird place for me.  I think about the act of writing during most of my free time now, but my muse has been strangely silent.  I think about the fact that I am close to finishing and know I have a few scenes left to put together, but there is no spark.  This leads me to believe that writing, the actual act of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard actually sparks the muse and keeps the creative juices flowing.  The more you write the more these creative pathways open up and tap into that right side of the brain and free the little fireflies of imagination.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

From Guilt to Remorse

I miss writing.  But it’s more like a nostalgia thing now.


At first I felt guilty.  Writing everyday has been a part of my routine that I worked very hard to make a habit. The only thing I've written is my blog for the last month.  The worst part is my studying is not going fast enough.  I thought I would be ready to take the first test by now, but I am only halfway through the material, with 5 tests still in front of me.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How much is too much?


     You know, I have a lot of respect for authors that can write wonderful prose. I know I’m not one of them, but not for a lack of trying. I think they have a gift for using picturesque words and putting them together just the right way to evoke an image in your mind. The really good ones make it so it’s hardly like reading at all, more like experiencing the story. Then there are those that have a great gift for creating imaginative and off the wall ideas that mere mortals just shake their heads at in wonder and amazement. Some area actually gifted with both and they are the great ones we all admire.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Inserting Ideas into the Public Mind

I’m enrolled in a course about Strategic Communication right now and with the explosion of the facebook and twitter revolutions across the Middle East it really puts a new face on the whole concept.  It really got me thinking about how interconnected we all are now all over the globe and how powerful the new social media really is.  I’ve read opinion that it is the most innovative development since the industrial revolution.  I’m not sure we understand all the ramifications yet.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Roadblocks

Hey everyone!  I've discovered something about myself in the past couple of months.  It doesn't seem to matter how much time I have to write, I end up with about the same amount of output.  If I have an hour to write, I can really get down and get into it and pump out a few hundred words.  If I have all day with nothing to do but devote it to writing I find a myriad of other things to squander my time and not write and still manage to trickle out a few hundred words.  I've had some really good days where I managed several thousand words, so I know it’s possible, but I seem to do better when the pressure is on.

Friday, February 25, 2011

What is the right amount to give away?

      One of my writer friends put up a large portion of her first novel up for preview. I know a lot of authors will put entire books up for free. While this may work great for an established author, what is the right amount for someone starting out? I have zero experience here and don't recall ever reading much about the subject so I need your input here so we can all help each other. I did a google search for book samples and got over 64 million hits, so there is a lot of free stuff out there. I did a sampling of the samples just to get an idea and they ranged anywhere from 985 words to 4700 words. They were all one chapter or less averaging just over 2500 words. It was by no means a valid poll. I used a fairly small sample size, but I just wanted to get an idea what others are putting out there. I'm giving away a lot on my website here actually, but it is far from being ready for actual publishing.

      Whether you are published via the traditional method or via the self-publishing route if you have any advice or experience doing this sort of thing to share it would be greatly appreciated
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