Monday, August 15, 2011

Announcement: Hiatus

So.  This has been a while coming.

I am officially on hiatus, and working on some other projects.  I have learned, above all, that I don't have anything to say here that will help anyone or assist anyone in any way, and I have found other outlets for these bursts of ideas and my undying need to express my feelings in words.  I made a promise to myself that I would start a blog once I finished a book, but nothing has come of either the book or the blog, and I have forgotten what it is I was trying to do here.  I have not run out of things to talk about, but I have come to the conclusion that there is no market or need for what I have to say.  I'm trying some other things in some other markets, and if I ever gain any attention in those fields or if I learn something that I want to share, I'll come back to blogging.  But until then, I'm going to focus on the craft, and not about spreading the word about a writer who doesn't even have any published works.

I'll still be updating my novel on Youpublish every Wednesday, and if you're interested you can still find my daily prompt on, /r/promptoftheday.  

I thank the few of you who have visited the site over the months, even as I have the feeling that these words will never actually be read.  The few comments I have received have really kept me going, and I appreciate the time invested by every single person who has stopped by.  I'll be back!  I just don't know when.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Patience.  Patience is never something I've been good at.  Especially when I have something to look forward to.

I'm writing two books right now, editing one, and putting the last one online, a chapter every week.  Of the novels I'm working on, one is being written directly in response to a 'calling for submissions' website that looked like something I could break into, and the other has been left hanging more than once because I have no solid plans for it after it's finished.

I feel like I'm being left behind.  I don't have any finished novels, nothing that I can take and show people that is my best, publishable work, and I feel that it's really working against me right now.  The rise of the e-book means that I don't need to go through a real publisher, and there are 'publishing houses' springing up everywhere for these kinds of things that I cannot be a part of just because I haven't finished anything yet.  I always promised myself that I would not publish anything that wasn't my best work, but here I am self publishing entire chapters of my novel that have only gone through one edit and forsaking the novel that I need to write in order to try and rush through a novel to get it published somewhere else.

What do I do about this?  I don't want to be left behind.  I don't want to be standing here next year, wishing that I had taken chances and put my work out there with confidence instead of waiting for it to be perfect and missing the boat.

I'm at an impasse, and it feels like most people are choosing the way that I am hesitant to take.  I have always wanted to be published traditionally.  I am not in this for the money.  If I was, I like to think that I could make it.  Maybe that's a lie, maybe I couldn't, but I would like to think so.  I'm in it because I want the recognition from my peers that I am worthy to be published.  Doing it myself is robbing of me of everything I ever wanted as a child, as a high-schooler, as a young adult.

So, what do you have to say?  Do you council patience?  Or should I try and get everything to an acceptable level so I can publish it as quickly as possible, and try to build up a base I have yet to have any luck with?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Surprise Vacation

I was away on vacation for a week in sunny Minnesota (just kidding... it wasn't sunny) and plum forgot to tell anyone that I was leaving.

So, oops!  Sorry!  I'm back now, and I'm back to my schedule of updating approximately three days a week.  I did publish a chapter of my novel while I was there, which you can find here if you so choose to check it out.  It's totally 100% free, so please, take a look.  This is my experiment with learning to edit, so I'm offering this book for free the entire way through the process.  After each of the chapters has been edited I'm going to offer the book for free on every platform I can, just to get it out there.

While on vacation, I read a book by John Truby called The Anatomy of Story, and I cannot recommend it enough for writers or screenwriters or playwrights or anyone else who needs to tell stories.  It's a book about formula, but formula that works because of the emotional highs and lows that are necessary to bring the audience closer to your story and your characters.  I've never been one to like tropes.  I despise cliches, and I try to never use them in my writing.  But there is a reason that there are cliches and tropes, and really, this book opened my eyes to the fact that the audience expects certain things, and the emotional points are set in a story in such a way as to maximize the audience participation.

I learned, also, that I have some natural talent as a writer, but no formal training.  No one ever taught me how to write novels, I taught myself.  I am also slowly teaching myself to edit.  The things in the book that he covers, like the three ways to begin a story, I was already aware of, but I didn't know their names.  A lot of the way I write is based on gut feelings and instincts, which are pretty good for someone with no training.  But they can be improved greatly.  The book also gives examples from books and movies to emphasize the lessons, and it's a huge help to read a section on say, character, and then to read about how a movie you're seen or a book you've read shows perfectly the lesson he's trying to teach.  It makes me want to watch The Godfather, even though it's a movie I don't know if I can stomach, just to see how excellently all the parts flow together.

I'm also reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce.  I've never read Joyce.  In fact, I've read very little of anyone from that time in history.  I've always seen that in order to write, you must read, and I never quite understood that.  I read.  I love to read, and I always have.  But Joyce is challenging my mind, and I've never quite read a book like it.  Ulysses is on my list eventually, but maybe after I read some Woolf or some Faulkner or both.  I need to read the books that have made an impact on literature, not just the stories in genres that I enjoy reading.  I've always read for pleasure, now I need to read to see how the masters of my craft do it, and to try and learn what they do so I can do it also.

I know, I know, these all seem like revelations that I should have had already, as a writer.  I've been writing my whole life, and just now I realize that I need to read the masters and learn why each part of a story matters?  It's silly to me too, but now that I know it's something that won't soon be forgotten.  I can't just write books, I need to work on my craft, and make my writing better.  I'm filled with a new desire and determination!  I will be the best I can be, and I am willing to put in the work to get there.

Sorry for dropping off the face of the earth for a week.  It wasn't intentional.  But it's not like it really matters anyway, right?  I'm talking to myself, here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's Wednesday...

And you know what that means!  Another chapter is available for your viewing pleasure at Youpublish!  This is chapter three of the story, where our intrepid adventurers go deeper into the caves and try to avoid the guards that still hunger for the recapture of their prisoners and the slayers of their comrade.  

That might be a little melodramatic, but hey.  Check it out if you get the chance.  It's free, and I'm trying to come up with something like a free e-book copy for anyone who downloads any of the chapters once I get everything all nice and edited.  I will hook you up, for reals.

I've been reading a lot of writing advice, lately, about how to make your writing better, and I see the same thing over and over again.  Experimentation, is one of them, and one I think is very important.  Getting stuck in one way of doing things just sounds silly to me, and that's probably one of the reasons I can't seem to stick with a genre to save my life.  But more than genre, experimentation is about medium.  How you express yourself, and through what form.  My goal today is to write a poem and one page of script.  

I've never been a good poet.  I always try to tell a story even when no story needs to be told, and I'm working on poetry as a way to strengthen my 'show don't tell' muscle.  Try to break away from that part of me that needs to be saying, 'and then this happened.  And then this happened.  And then this happened, and then that happens!'  There's a time and a place for that part of me, and that time is Not All The Time.

I was working on a script last year that my beloved and I lovingly refer to as The Zombie Apocalypse: A Play for Two People.  I did three weeks of writing ten pages of script every Monday, and then I stopped because God knows why.  I think I told myself that I had no idea how to write a play when I was, in fact, writing a play.  I would like to pick it back up again, dust it off and slowly finish it.  I liked the idea and where it was heading, and I liked that at the time I was working on two entirely different kinds of projects at once.  It was refreshing.  I was learning, and I think that both can teach me ways of how to write both better.

Speaking of writing, I finished writing the first chapter of my Young Adult story last night, tentatively entitled The Song of the Star.  I just finished a cover for it - something I've been doing a lot lately.  

It's fun, photo manipulation, and it feels almost like productive procrastination.  If you, for any reason, want to see the other covers I've done, here's the only time I'm ever going to link to my deviantart page.  I took all the pictures myself and use something called Picnik to do the manipulations.  If you don't do this, try it some time!  It's fun, and a chance to stretch other creative muscles, especially if you're like me and have a good sense of aesthetics, but can't draw to save your life.

Before I forget, I also have a prompt for you today.  It's called 'The Mirror':

There's been a terrible accident. You wake up in a hospital room, all alone, with nothing beside you - no cards, no flowers - except a small mirror. Do you dare look into it?
Write this scene. 500 words.    

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Day of the Dead

I'm going to be trying something new here for a little while.  I'm going to be posting a daily writing prompt for you fine folks who somehow find this place.  We'll try it for a little while, and see how well it goes.  You're welcome to leave a response to the prompt in the comments, or post a link to wherever you decided to share your words.  You can also write on your own blog, as long as you do me the favor of linking back to mine.  Thank you, and have fun!

Here's your prompt for today:

The Day of the Dead

Dia de Los Muetros, All Hallow's Eve, the day when the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead thins, and the dead walk the earth.

Write a scene when the ritual celebration becomes something... more.  The dead, just for this one day, actually walk the earth.  Do the party-goers encounter benevolent spirits, or vengeful zombies?  Loved ones, or strangers?  What happens in those few hours before the dead return to their own world?

Write 500 words.

Young Adult fiction

As a genre writer, I'm always questioning where exactly my writing fits in.  Is this fantasy, or science fiction?  What is this called?  My novels so far, in order, have been fantasy, fantasy/survival horror, fantasy/science fiction/young adult, and _____ whatever my current one is.  It's a mash-up of real life groups of people that would never interact on this world, and a tale of real human loss and redemption.  So, there's that.

My third novel was not YA by design.  It was a story that just happened to have a child as the protagonist.  A smart child, to be sure, but it was still the story of a child dealing with adult themes.  Eh, some adult themes.  That's another characteristic of my novels - there are really no truly adult themes in most of what I've written.  There isn't a lot of swearing, no sex, no gratuitous violence, and a handful of deaths that almost always happen off camera.  I've been wondering for a long time if all of my writing is YA, and I just don't know it yet.

So I got this idea a couple of days ago, and I thought it would make a great romance plot.  I've always wanted to write one of those, too, just for fun, and I have a couple of ideas, but this one just came to me in a torrent of ideas, and a couple of hours later I had an outline for a short novel.  Bam!  I love it when that happens.  I wasn't going to do anything with it, because I have this other novel that really deserves more of my attention, but today I started thinking.  If I made the main character a couple of years younger, and focused more of the story on her life and how these changes affect her, it would work way better as a young adult novel.  An on purpose one.

Now, I don't know anything about writing young adult fiction.  I was one not too long ago, and I still remember the strength of those thoughts and feelings, but I feel a little uncomfortable tapping in to them to write a book.  Adolescence was not such a good time for me.  But I really like the idea that I have, so I'm going to go for it.  It will be a learning experience, and anything I learn in the process, I'll share with you here.

Thanks for stopping by.  Check back soon if you want to see what progress I've made with this new idea!  I'm hoping to learn a lot more about a new genre in the process, and maybe I'll see that this is what I've been doing the whole time I've been writing.  Wouldn't that be something?  

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Expectations and daily prompts

As some of you might or might not know, I manage a small writing group on a website called Reddit solely for daily writing prompts.  It's called /r/promptoftheday, and if you've never been, you should check it out.  I update it daily with a writing prompt out of either my own head or my notes, and very rarely a reader will send me a link that they think will make a good prompt, and usually I will use it.

 It has a much larger readership than anything else I do.  With 252 (as of today) subscribers, that's 252 people who see something that I have some up with and shared every day.  It's a lot of pressure to keep giving these people quality submissions.  I've been doing it for three months now, and I've exhausted my simple ideas and have turned to using the ideas that I was saving for my own future short stories and possible novels.

But you know what?  I love it.  Managing something so small and yet so much larger than anything else I do is quite a bit of fun.  It's anonymous, mostly, which means that everyone can see my username on the site (Lego_my_Lego) but it doesn't connect at all to anything else I do, which includes this blog.  It's a daily creative endeavor that I have to work at, much like this blog and other writing, and it's something I do for free and simply for the joy of it.  I'm not trying to peddle my own work, and I only link to outside sites if there's something there for others to use as a writing prompt, and I've only ever linked to my blog in accordance with the rules I set up for the community (provide a link if your work is above 500 words - so much easier to read that way, and it keeps everything so wonderfully uncluttered).

Why am I saying all this?  What does this have to do with writing, or blogging at all?

Good question.  Because it's something I do for free, and because I do it just because I want to share and motivate others, my expectations aren't nearly as high as for my other projects.  I do and always will hold myself to high personal standards, but because it's just for fun I can let myself relax and just shoot off whatever I'm thinking about that day.  Prompts have been simple, they've been complex, they've been genre specific and they've been genre-mixed.  It's something I can do just because it's fun.  I don't do enough of that, I think.  And it benefits people, to get their writing muscles working, and it benefits me to get my writing muscles going.  It's also really helping me with something I'm calling 'writer's greed', where I don't want to share my ideas with anyone, in fear that they'll be stolen.

I'll tell you something.  I've posted some ideas that I've had for stories, and not once - NOT ONCE - has anyone posted a response anywhere close to what I was thinking at the time.  Writers are too creative to steal stories.  It's not in our nature.  Ten writers can see the same thing, and get thirty different ideas.  If I was braver, I would write prompts based on what I'm writing, just to see how many different ways a person can take the idea.    

If you didn't follow the handy link I provided for you above, I'll share something with you - here's the prompt I posted today.  If you get a mad hare, feel free to respond to it!  Comments are always open here, or, if you have a Reddit account, sign in and post it there!  If I've made one person think about writing today, my job here is done.  Thank you, and have a great day!

There are two ways to get off world... the legal way, and the other way.  A character in dire straights has just learned that they cannot get off the planet using conventional means. What do they do when they learn what they have to do to still get into space, and what's waiting for them there that's so important?
The 'other way' can be as vanilla (bribes?) or as grotesque (selling freshly skinned corpses?) as you want. Be creative, and feel free to rearrange the details of the prompt to tell a good story. Surprise me.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Second chapter online and experimentation

Last week I said that I would be publishing chapters ever other week on Youpublish, but that has turned out to be incorrect.  Two weeks between uploads is way too much time for me to forget all about what I'm supposed to be doing, so I'm putting a chapter online every week.

Welcome to chapter two of what I like to call The First Task of Symon Daye, wherein our heroes finally get out of the prison and begin the grand adventure of finding the lost city of Agras.  It's totally free and you don't need to download anything - you can read it right on the page.  If you don't have anything better to do for a while, give it a shot.

Other than that, there's not much going on.  I'm currently reading two books, Stream of Consciousness in the Modern Novel, by Humphrey, and House of Leaves, by Danielewski.  I am always using the same patterns, the same ideas, and I'm not experimenting with my words nearly enough.  I can do anything with my words.  Anything!  I can say anything I want, in any way that I want.  In any form and any format.  Stream of consciousness is a little outdated, but I still think it's a valuable thing to know and to learn, and House of Leaves is a book that I'm discovering bit by bit as the story (stories?) unfolds.  It's very exciting.  Both of them are, just because they're something new and different, and because they're two very different ways of telling a story using methods I have never tried.

Experimentation is key, I think.  I've probably said this on here before, but I firmly believe that you can never relax, you can never let yourself think that you're any better than anyone else.  The moment you place yourself superior, you stop trying so hard to be better.  And that constant striving for a perfection that can never truly be gained is the largest part of being a writer.  A rut is a rut.  No matter how good you are, if you're not bettering yourself you're still stuck.

And I say this, like it's no big deal, when in fact I find the whole concept utterly terrifying.  Change how I write?  Just... change it?  But what I know is safe!  And I know how it works, what to do, how to do it, how everything is supposed to fit together!  Suffice it to say, it's hard.  But it needs to be done, for the sake of my craft, to make it my art.  Right now, I tell stories.  I need to learn how to paint stories with words.  Good luck to me, and good luck to you as well, whatever your goals may be, and wherever your experimentation may lead.  

Monday, July 18, 2011

Growing Up

I still have a lot of growing up to do, as a writer.  I'm getting there, but I'm not quite there yet.

I've been really stuck on the second 'book' of my new novel.  This whole thing is a brand new experience for me, both in terms of emotional involvement and in content, and I've been having quite a bit of trouble.  The book is about death, and about life; it's about religion and spirituality and the belief that, in the end, it all comes down to one thing.  That it doesn't matter if there's someone in the sky watching you to make sure you're making all the right choices.  It's about being happy with your life and doing what you want to do, and following only the rules that make sense to you.  It's the story of a man searching for the answer (to life, the universe, and everything) in the face of horrific loss.  But I, the author, don't have the answers to give him.

I've only experienced loss once, and recently.  It was sobering.  It still is.  It's still hard to believe that she's really gone, that she's much farther away than Tuscon, and even farther away than a phone call.  She is very quickly becoming an inspiration for this novel that she wasn't when I started to write it.  It's a very hard book to write.  It's very, very hard.  Because, in terms of writing, I've only been playing it safe.  I haven't dared to address any adult themes, or adult lessons, like life, and loss, and how you really feel when you want two things the same amount, and both at once.  If I had to classify my earlier fiction, I would actually put it into young adult.  People die, in the book I've been editing, but there's no emotional connection to those people, and the majority of them happen 'off screen.'  I've been too scared to branch out and write something that would make me learn about myself, or that make some people uncomfortable.  This book is my answer to those problems, which is why it's so hard to write.

In many ways, this novel is autobiographical.  Jared (my protagonist) has lost someone, and is dealing with it, as I have.  He has trouble with his faith, as I have.  The world ceases to make sense for him and he's looking for the answer to a question that has no answer... as I am.  We're both very different people, he and I, but it's clear to me that while writing it, I am also writing about myself.  My writing has a lot of growing up to do.  I need to be able to express these emotions, and have the presence of mind to maintain all of these emotional story lines at once.  This is nothing that I have ever done before.  It's scary.

But that's okay.  It's okay to be afraid of the unknown.  No matter what I write, and no matter how I write it, I will improve.  I am, at this moment, scrapping 10,4 69 words of the second book that are taking the story where I did not mean for it to go.  This is progress.  I have never taken so many words out of a story before, not once.  But it's the right thing to do for the story.  I am beginning the daunting task of starting over, from the beginning, and trying to make it closer to the vision I originally had for this section (The Mad Priest of Nothigog is the name of this book.  I love it!).  This is what I mean by growing up.  I'm trying to learn, and I'm trying to keep an open mind to anything that could possibly make me a better writer.  If I learn nothing else from this book, I will consider it a success.

Shameless plug warning: if you would like to see some of my earlier writing, I have a chapter posted online at from an earlier work.  It's called The First Task of Symon Daye, and it's free to read.  I'm trying to teach myself how to edit a manuscript, and you can see what I'm learning there.

Thank you for stopping by!


Saturday, July 16, 2011

How to fight writer's block

I've seen so many of these posts in my day.  So many different ways to rearrange the same ten or twenty things that everyone says to do when you're blocked.  Take a walk, people say.  Or a bath.  Let yourself relax and stop thinking about your work.  Bullshit.  It's just the same, tired cliches on how to do something about being creatively blocked, when, really, there's only one answer.  So, here's my list.

How to fight writer's block:

1.  Scream.  Often and loudly.  Scream at every blog post that references things like going for walks or taking baths.  Alternatively, scream while taking a walk or a bath.  It's great for getting rid of stress.

2.  Skip around your house whistling Scarborough Fair, or any related Simon and Garfunkel song.  This one is good if you have dogs, so their looks of disapproval and disappointment can force you to get back into your chair and sit at your computer, and better if you live with actual people, so they can ask you how you're feeling and if you've taken your meds today.

3.  Play a drinking game!  Take shots of your least favorite alcoholic beverage every time you try to get up from your computer.  You're already one behind if you've followed the above advice, so get to it.  You might not get any writing done, but when you wake up you'll already be sitting at your computer, so you have no excuse.

4.  Teach yourself a new skill.  Like minesweeper!  Or throwing cheerios into your mouth.  Or how to type with your toes.  Anything that doesn't involve getting up, or else you have to take a drink.  Eventually, you will be so bored that you will have to actually type words to keep yourself from blacking out.  Problem solved!

5.  But seriously.  How to get through writer's block?  Work through it.  Keep writing, even if it's crap, because you can always go back and fix it, unless it isn't there to fix.  If you like any of these ideas, though, please try them.  And let me know how they work for you, because they sure as hell didn't work for me.

ALSO!  People, I have put the first chapter of my book up on YouPublish.  Here is the link to my profile, and here is the link directly to the chapter (where it is up, FOR FREE, because I love you guys).  This is not the final edit!  After I'm done putting all the chapters online, I will also put the completely edited book in the same place, either for free or for a ridiculously low amount of money.  Keep it in mind, and if you happen to read it, let me know what you think!

So, what's your least favorite beverage?  I think mine's gotta be either whiskey or absinthe, and if I had to take a drink every time I stood up I would probably type until I peed my pants.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I'm having a little trouble getting motivated enough to edit this book.  It's been sitting in a drawer for almost a year, now, collecting dust.  So I'm editing it, chapter by chapter, while also trying to work on other projects.  These chapters, to keep myself motivated, will be put up on youpublish every other wednesday (starting today) for free.  I'm not selling anything that isn't my best work, this is just a way for me to learn more about the site and if I have the personal willingness to put myself out there in a way I haven't before.

I'm always very hesitant to put anything out there that isn't my best work, and I still feel that way.  These chapters are in their first edit, and still have a long way to go before they're fit to print.  This is more for me, in a lot of ways, than for the reader, but I still have full confidence in my story and I really think you should check it out, if you have the time.  It's available for free, now and for always, as will the rest of the chapters that I put online.

I need to learn to let things go.  That nothing can ever be perfect.  I need to learn how to market things, and how this whole world of self publishing even works, anyways.

Of course, I would really appreciate anyone who takes the time to pick up a copy.  It might not be perfect, but I can assure you it isn't terrible.

Here's the link, check it out!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I received my first professional rejection.  That's right, folks - I'm officially in the business of getting rejected.

I am viewing this as an incredibly positive experience.  The best of experiences.  As soon as I got the email that they were passing on it, I sent it out again.  Now we'll just have to wait and see.

Rejection is as an important of a process as anything else in the time frame of getting published.  I'm not going to get a story accepted every time I ship it out the door.  It's a fact that I just need to face.  But every time I get a letter, or an email, it means that I have taken the most terrifying first step.  I sent it out.  My work, my baby, all alone in a harsh world, but I have done everything I can as a parent to make sure it's successful.

I'm very happy that I got a rejection.  Really, I've been telling people about it.  Every rejection I receive means another chance that I took.  And every chance I take means that one of these times, I might get the ultimate payout.  One of these days.  One of these days, I'm going to get paid for doing this.  I'm going to go through a lot of rejections before that happens, and even after it happens for the first time.  I'm perfectly okay with this, and you should be too!

I've heard a lot of things about rejections.  I've heard that anything personalized is actually a good sign, and that's what I'm going to continue believing.  Mine had my name at the top, and the line "I hope you find a good home for it soon." included in the letter.  How wonderful!  I'm very excited.  This is a new stage in my writing life, and it's off to a great start.

As you can probably tell, I'm very happy about all of this.  It's either laugh or cry, and I so love to laugh.  So bring it on, world!  I'm going to become someone great, and there's nothing you can do to stop me!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Review of

So I've been on the NaNoWriMo forums a lot lately, as I'm doing this whole Camp NaNo thing.  That's where I found, and also where I found Write or Die.

The whole premise behind the site is to set a time limit and a word goal, to to write for that set amount of time while being prodded by the website as an incentive to keep going.  There are consequences and grace periods, or what happens if you take too long and to what setting you want 'too long' to be.  The entire point of the site is, as stated in the title, to write or die.  It has various unpleasant things happen on the screen when you've taken too long to write something down, from changing the color of the background to loud noises.

The writing space itself is a plain white area for text, and the only real complaint I have with it is how it screws up my formatting whenever I try to copy from the 'done' screen and paste it to my document, but that's mainly because I'm one of those people who puts two spaces between each sentence.

So.  I think that this is a very good site.  I've talked about those 'NaNoWriMos' and how that whole subculture isn't really my thing, and this tool is a very good way to sum up the entire NaNo experience - quantity over quality.  What inevitably happens when you're writing and panicked about something happening on the screen is hurried, not well thought out writing.  But in November (and now, during 'camp') it's always about getting the words down first, and straightening them out later, if ever.  For that reason alone I was hesitant to start using the site as a tool.  But there is a very good point in this somewhere, about just getting the words down, no matter what they are.  Using Write or Die, in Normal mode using a 'scrict' grace period, I can write 1000 words in twenty minutes.  I can do this without the application of a web site, I'm sure, but this is the first place I've learned that I can do this thing.  They might not be the best words, but after I paste them to my openoffice document and play around with them for a bit, I have 1000 more words than I would have otherwise.

My advice, for normal, non-frenzied writing,  is to tone down the grace period.  Having something happen when you've been sitting watching a blinking cursor for too long is really great motivation to make sure that you're constantly putting words on the page.  They might not be the best words, but once they're there it makes it a lot easier to go back and fix them.

There's also an offline version of the application that I am considering getting but haven't decided on yet.  The site is great, and has been one of the reasons I've been writing so much lately, but it's also mentally exhausting to keep it up for too long.  I'll report back if I decide to take the plunge.

Thanks for stopping by, and see you later!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Review of

I have been writing so much lately.  I just don't have much to show for it.

I've found this absolutely wonderful site - - that takes one of the principles (morning pages) of the book, The Artist's Way, and allows you to write online.  There are rewards for different things, it tracks your stats, and best of all, it shows you kinds of things you would never realize by yourself, such as what time frame you're writing in (past, present, or future), what you're writing about, and generally finding correlations in your writing that you're probably doing subconsciously.  Oh, and it also compares your stats with everyone else who uses the site, and even compares your recent pages to what you've written in the past.  For anyone who loves to count numbers or keep track of their progress, this website is going to be your crack.  Global averages, and how your writing compares both recently and overall?  And we're talking a lot of categories here.  How you're feeling, what you're concerned about, your mindset, even your frequently used words.  Highly, highly recommend it.  Like for serious.

I'm still doing Camp NaNoWriMo, too.  I'm just staying off the forums, now.  I can really understand why some people don't like NaNoWriMo, and I can still understand why some people don't.  My productivity levels have been off the charts since I started this thing, but I was looking for an excuse to get back to those levels.  I would have found something eventually that would have led me to write, I just needed the incentive.  I've written a whopping 12,222 words since midnight on July 1st, bringing my novel up to a solid 25k word count.

I like this book.  I do, I do.  I like writing.  I'm working on getting more into the flow state, actually working on this, as a daily thing, because I cannot remember what it was like last year when I was writing feverishly.  Was it like this?  Now, I get a little bored just typing.  My thoughts are going much faster than my fingers, and taking the time to transcribe them is a boring task.  The feel of fingers on keys is nice, but there's no other stimulation, and it gets a little old.  So I'm doing some exercises, becoming more aware of the time it takes me to write x number of words, and trying to keep my mind occupied.  Meta-writing, if you will.  Thinking about how I'm writing, while I'm writing.

That's what I think a site like is really good for.  A way to think about the words on the page, when the real message is elsewhere.

Thanks for stopping by, have a great night!    

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Look into the mind of the writer

It's four thirty in the morning.  I'm trying to get my 2000 words done for the day.  Or am I?  I'm listening to the five songs in my youtube playlist (three of them are Oingo Boingo, of whom I cannot seem to get enough lately) and playing failed game after failed game of minesweeper.  I'm doing everything, actually, except writing.

It's hot.  Hot, hot, and sticky.  Oingo Boingo is yelling in my ears about how I'm going to die, and the backs of my legs are sticking to my chair, coming wetly off of the fake leather whenever I try to find a cooler spot.  It's just me, my headphones, and a single ceiling fan at a crazy hour of the morning, while I 'write'.

I don't seem to have anything to say, tonight.  My hair is in the loosest of buns, in a desperate attempt to get the mass of it off my neck.  My beloved spilled beer on my computer, and the space bar is sticky.  Everything is sticky.  Keys, skin.  The bottom of my tea cup, where tea and leftover sugar have dried in what looks like a sticky paste.  I cleaned up spilled soda tonight that could have been from last night, and I remember the feel of it when I walked in it with my shoes.  Almost like crunching.  A sticky day.

It's smelled like rain all day, but there was no rain to be seen.  The phantom rain.  It's only July, but this might be a sign of monsoons to come.  There was lightning in the clouds when I drove home, and the dust of dried raindrops from yesterday clinging to my windshield.  Monsoons will be fun.  The smell of rain in Arizona, of dust and water, and dust storms that always contain the promise, but rarely the treat, of rain.  Just wind, and that tantalizing smell.

Skin can't touch skin, it's a rule in the summers.  My shoulders are cramped, and my bangs are getting in my eyes.  I want to put them somewhere, but they're too short to tuck behind my ears.  God, I would kill for a back massage.  Well.  I would ask nicely for a back massage.

Not writing.  I want to write, but instead I'm sitting here in the ungodly hour of the morning, smelling false rain and sticking to my chair and my clothes, listening to the macabre lyrics of a band that was popular before I was even born.  My shoulders ache.

Have you ever wondered about the secret, glamorous lives of artists?  This is it.  Searching for inspiration, or lacking that, motivation enough to get 100 more words on the page, and 100 after that, and 100 after that, until I have reached my goal and until I can go to sleep with the least allowable amount of guilt.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

I'm a liar

I'm more than one way a liar.  I'm not uploading Luna to Smashwords, I'm uploading the first edited chapter of my novel, The First Task of Symon Daye.  And it didn't happen yesterday, and it isn't happening today, either...  I need to make my SO make a suitable cover for me.  I was going to just make something in Paint, but I didn't really think that was fair, either to me, or my novel.  I'm awful at paint, and my beloved is so, so much better at art than I am.  So, now I have to get on his butt to help me out.  I don't think anyone will be too upset, but just in case, it's still free, so, you get what you pay for.

I'm still doing Camp NaNoWriMo.  I'm chugging along pretty well, but doing this only makes me remember how much I don't really like people who do NaNoWriMo.  Everyone should write, I firmly believe that, but we're talking about some people who haven't written since November.  Haven't.  Written.  Since.  NOVEMBER.  These people aren't writers!  They're hobbyists!  Grumble, grumble, and I'm done.  There are a lot of people who have written, and who use NaNo for the same reasons I do.  Getting yourself motivated, having a national support group of people going through the same things you are, and all in all I think it's a very effective way of getting people to write who wouldn't normally do so.  And I can't really talk about writing.  I took a month off after NaNo last year (my computer was broken, damn it) and this is the first time I've gotten farther that 10k into a novel since.  Lots of short stories, and other, more personal writing goals met, but I still can't say with any degree of accuracy that I'm a professional writer.

My novel.  Man, my novel.  it's called Coming Home, and it's the strangest thing I've written to date.  It's not really fantasy, and it's not really science fiction, it's mostly set on another world, but it could just as easily be set on a world that's made out of bits and pieces of our own.  I like it.  I really do.  It's a sad story, but that's okay.  Some stories are just sad.  It's about death, and I've just lost someone.  It's about losing faith, and I haven't had faith since I was a child.  It's about the Truth, and I don't know it.  That's okay.  Neither does my character, and neither does anyone he interacts with, though they might claim differently.

I've said this on here before, that this novel is going to be incredibly important to my growth as a writer.  I've talked with my fiancee, and we've both come to the conclusion that it's not really an art, for me.  I'm not an artist.  I love to write, and I think I do it well, but it's not art.  I'm driven, but not by a higher sense of aesthetics.  It's a craft.  Work.  Beloved work, to be sure, but still, work.  There is a definite sense of effort being put in to writing, and also of trying to make my writing better.

Blegh.  NaNo starts again, and immediately, I'm back making journal posts.  I feel pretty bad about the story, but I'll get it up there.  With a decent cover, or, if I can't coerce one out of him, one of my own.

Time to get writing.  See you on the slip side.  

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Camp NaNoWriMo

My my, I have a lot to do.

My last day of class was today.  School is finally over!  Hooray!  Now I can focus on all of the other stuff I've been seriously neglecting.

One - I just found out that Camp NaNoWriMo is starting tonight at midnight.  I just finished school, I have no serious commitments for the next month, and I've been struggling lately to get into the writing mood.  I'm feeling this.  I really, really am.  Just something to get me excited, to keep me in line, and make writing my priority again.    So, exciting.

Two - editing!  I haven't worked on editing my novel in FOREVER!  I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that I'm not doing it wrong when I sit down with a stack of three hundred pages and a red pen.  That's the right way to do it.  It's not as much fun as writing, but it needs to be done.  So while I'm writing and not doing anything else in July, I'm also going to be editing my novel, The First Task of Symon Daye.

Three - getting a story on Smashwords.  Tomorrow!  It's called Luna, and it's about people living on the moon, and the dangers of leaving our home world for the unknown of space.  It's gonna be lots of fun.  It's not very long, but it's one of my more recent stories and I really like how it turned out.  I'm gonna link the crap out of it once it's 'published', so look here for that and others to come, depending on what happens with this first one.

So... working on my novel (which really, really needs to be worked on), editing another novel, and providing all you fine people of the internet with free entertainment.

I'm so super serious about all of this.  I need to get my act together, and this is now I'm jump starting myself.  Last year, after NaNo, I totally just stopped writing.  It was too much all at once.  Now, I'm in the exact opposite boat.  I need to get myself motivated, and I really think that having a reason to write every day is a good one.  I'll post my progress here.

And I'll keep up with the regular posts.  Last year, when I was doing NaNo, I wasn't talking about much else.  Just stay tuned!  I'll make it worth your while, I promise.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Writing about writing

I've been noticing, lately, that when I sit down to write all I do is write about writing.

I have a weekly goal, that I sometimes do and sometimes do not meet.  Stories, books, blog posts, and daily prompts all count toward that weekly goal, and when I sit down at the end of the week to recap most of my words aren't exactly writing, but writing about it.

My blog, for example.  My blog isn't writing.  I did a post about this a long time ago, where I talked about work and what does and what doesn't 'count' as writing.  I see writing as fiction.  Every word of fiction I write a week, is writing.  So this blog isn't fiction, and isn't work.  it's writing about writing.  It's cheating.

I've stopped writing stories.  Sad, but true.  I haven't been writing stories.  I've been writing about stories.  I'll take a story, an idea, and I'll start... and then this happens, because of this.  And then he says this.  And then she does this.  And by the end of it I have a fully formed plot, a plan, a solid thousand words, but I didn't write anything.  Not a single line of dialogue.  Not one description.  Just honing the idea, writing down research, and doing absolutely no writing.

I'm sure that there's something to be gained from all this.  More developed works before I even start writing them, maybe.  An idea of what I'm doing and what my plans are.  But there are greater weaknesses than strengths.

I've been writing about writing and thinking about writing so much that I've stopped doing what it is that I love - namely, writing.  It's fine to think about theory.  Really, it is.  And I've been reading a lot of articles about theory, trying to learn more about my craft and to make it better.  But I've lost track of what it really is that improves my writing, and that is to write.

I just opened two documents that I've been 'working' on, with every intention of getting to work as soon as I'm finished here.  They're both good ideas, and now that I know what's wrong, I can fix it.

Thanks for stopping by, catch you later!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Once more, with feeling

Writing emotionally is, at this point in time, my biggest hurdle in my work.  I do not let myself get emotionally involved, and my writing suffers for it.  I tell the story, instead of showing it.  

This is the first time in recent memory that I became emotional while writing.  I'm Lego_my_Lego, if that clarifies things.  And that only came about because I was thinking about my aunt, and was able to use those same emotions to write something similar but fictitious.  This is something brand new to me.  When I was young and even more stupid than I am now, I was still writing, but it was mopey, high school drama.  Too emotional.  Stupidly emotional.  Everyone was dying, or had died, and everyone was depressed, and suicidal, and there was just angst dripping from every sentence in everything I wrote.  I'm long past that stage of my life, and I made a decision that I wouldn't do that again, make these overly deep emotions, because it didn't feel real anymore.  It just felt like fourteen year old girl writing - drama and more drama.  

So here I am, ten years later, and I've removed most of those emotions from my stories, from my writing.  And now I need them.  

Well, I need something.  I've been through some stuff in my life, but I hate writing about myself.  Fiction is safe.  Much more safe than drawing from my life experiences, that's why I do it.  I've gone through pain, but it's my pain, private.  I don't want to show it to outsiders.  I keep that secret part of myself, and because of that, I have nothing left to make my characters feel.  I am currently trying to reconcile this.  Writing about emotions that I myself have felt and that I was deeply moved by necessitates me living through them again.

I guess it doesn't have to be all bad.  I just need to make my characters feel all kinds of emotions, and not just the negative ones I was going through as one of those 'off' kids in high school.  I've also had all sorts of positive emotions.  Love, awe...  I've traveled the world and seen all kinds of beauty.  These, too, have a place in my writing.  As long as it is an emotion that I've experienced strongly, it has a place.  

I have to remember that even writing fiction I'm writing truth.  These are real emotions I'm talking about.  These characters don't have to be physically real, but they do have to be alive, both to me and the reader.  Fiction is folks, and folks feel.            

I'm still working on this.  Years and years of emotional repression are finally just starting to be unraveled.  And it is hard.  Consciously trying to improve your art isn't easy.  I'm used to it being one way, and the way I've been doing it isn't that bad.  But it could be so much better, if only I tried a little harder.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Just now, checking to make sure I could use the word 'Melancholia' in the title of this post, I learned that it means 'black bile', from the idea of the hour humors.  You learn something every day.  The word, melancholia, has such a better feel to it than black bile.  One is romantic and sad, and the other is blunt and sounds a little gross.  But I didn't come here to talk to you about that.

I haven't been writing much lately.  I feel like I don't have much to work on.  I finished some short stories I was working on, and now I just feel kind of stuck.  I have my novel that I can work on, but that's such a commitment, getting into a novel.  I haven't been working on it, and I would just be going back into it blind.  What do you do with novels that have been left behind?  I want to finish it.  I have plans for this book.  That this will be the one that I need to write, to improve myself, to get all of my philosophies in one place.  I can't give up now.

I'm in summer school right now, so this situation is temporary, but it still bites.  I was getting up early for a while, having my time in the morning to write and blog and come up with writing prompts.

And there's the problem.  I get sad when I'm not productive.  And then, when I'm sad, I get even less done.  I have email that needs to be checked, people to call, jobs to find, things to do.  When I miss one, or two, things start to snowball.  I promised on here that I would have a short story ready on  Smashwords, and that hasn't happened either.

I'll bounce back.  I always do.  This week, though, has been particularly bad.  I have the weekend to catch up, and I will do so.  When I really set my mind to something, it happens.  I just have to be serious about it first.  Less sad, more proactive.

So, I'm going to set the release date of my first self published short story for next Friday, a week from today.  I'm sure you'll hear more about it before then, and next time I write I'll give you a blurb and a synopsis, so you'll know why you want to read it.  Until then, I'm going to keep working on working, and stop trying to sabotage my own work.

Thanks for sticking around, you have yourself a great day!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

When you know you're a writer

There comes a point when you know you're a writer.  When all of the silly self doubts and uncertainties about your future get cleared away like a dirty table at a five star restaurant.  How? you may ask.  You'll just... know.  Here's how I knew.  This is the point when I knew I was a writer, and nothing else.  When it was hammered into my brain that this is what I want to do.  This is what I need to do.  My dearly beloved tells me that writers are arrogant things, drunk on the belief that everyone in the world wants to hear what they have to say.  That's not why I'm here.  That's not why I write.  Writing is the only true way I know how to express myself.

My aunt Olivia died recently.  I'm 24 years old, and she is the only person close to me who has ever died.  I consider myself lucky that I've gone this long without losing a family member, and I'm grateful that I'm old enough both to remember her and to cherish the memories of her that I've had since I started forming memories.  She died of cancer on my grandmother's 91st birthday.

I knew I was a writer when I heard her shuffling down the hallway of the trailer she lived in with her husband.  It's a trailer, so imagine the sound.  Thump.  Pause.  Thump.  Pause.  I was sitting on a couch where I could hear, but not see, her approach.  I was watching my father's eyes as he took her in, looking down the hallway where she was struggling to come to us, the last time she would ever see us all together.  I was watching his eyes as he saw his dying sister.  They were watching her.  I was watching them.  And there was nothing I wanted to do more at that point in time then to take my notebook out of my purse and start taking notes.

I felt like a monster.  I felt inhuman, an emotionless being that had no right to intrude in on this scene of grief.  But I still wanted it.  More than anything, I wish I could have been left alone with her.  For ten minutes.  A half hour.  I wanted to sit with her and ask her what she was feeling, what she was thinking, now that death was so close.  Now that there was no escape.  I wanted to sit and ask her the questions that were burning in my mind, that have always burned there.  What is death like, for one so close to it?  What does dying feel like?

I didn't get my ten minutes.  Even if I had gotten the chance, I wouldn't have done it.  She was a human being, deserving of the respect that I was reluctant to give, more enthralled with the story than the human element of it.  

I loved her.  I still love her.  I only got to ask her one question.  I was saying goodbye to her.  We were holding each other's hands, and I was looking into her eyes, bright and a color of blue that I had never really paid attention to before, and we were crying.  She told me that it was okay.  And do you know my question?

Do you promise?

Like a child.  Just like a child.  And she told me yes.

This is the first time I've written this down.  Do you know why I'm a writer?  To deal with the world.  To ask the questions that can never be answered.  To heal my hurts, to soothe my pains.  Writing is the struggle to hold my broken heart together.  Writing is the release of every joy I have ever experienced.  Writing is sorrow, frustration, elation; writing is my life.

When it happens to you, you'll know it, too.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Regularly Scheduled Post

I think.  I'm not exactly sure when my update schedule is, anymore.  

It's finally summer in Arizona.  And it is hot outside.  So hot that I don't feel like doing anything, so hot that it's uncomfortable.  My mind is a pile of hot sludge, my body is more sweat than skin.  What do I do?  How do I write under these conditions?  

I've been looking for jobs, recently.  That's right, folks.  I, officially, have Stepped It Up A Notch.  Well, maybe unofficially.  I've been going to Craigslist, looking at writing jobs.  I spent hours reading awful Patterson books to learn how to 'Pattersonize' my own writing.  I looked up the legality of unpaid internships before responding to one...  I don't think I'm going to hear back from them.  I submitted a story to an actual magazine and am still waiting to hear back.  This is the first time I have ever submitted anything to anyone, besides a open call for my community college to publish in their literary magazine.  I got in the top ten, but I was not published.  I am Serious.

And that got me to thinking, what else can I be doing?  I'm blogging more, I'm writing more, I'm going to other blogs more, and I'm finally trying to get myself out there.  I'm looking into getting one or two short stories self published, just to have something out there that has my name on it.  In fact, I have a vague date planned for one of them, a strange little story, and that will be available on Smashwords (something I just found today) in a couple of days.  For free, if I didn't mention that.  Absolutely, 100% for free.  So, stay posted.  I'll be very vocal when that happens.  

I think I've mentioned that I've been trying to be a little more of a presence on other blogs.  Not much of one, really, when I say 'presence' I mean that I've gone to a blog or two and left a comment, and the biggest thing it's done for me is to remind me that I'm not a very good social networker.  So, you know what?  I'm going to stop having that as my goal.  I'm a writer.  First and foremost, I'm a writer.  I like blogging, and I've gotten to enjoy reading other posts and leaving comments that actually have to do with what was written, and just isn't some excuse to try and get people to get to my blog.  This doesn't have to be big.  I like it as something just a little private, a little personal.  This is me.  This isn't advice from someone who has blog posts scheduled for the next two weeks.  I write these things and 'publish' them without looking at them twice.  I don't have any wisdom to dispense, nothing to sell, no advice for anyone else that they haven't heard a million times before.  Oh well.  I'm okay with that.  I'm on my own path, and I'll get there in my own way.  

That's where jobs come in.  I'm looking into becoming a contributor for a writing blog (for free, with the tentative promise of future pay).  I'm sending emails to people looking for writers, I've done ridiculous things to try and get enough experience to do something that people wouldn't mind actually paying for.  So, I'm still trying.  I haven't given up hope.  I'm just not going to stress about it anymore.  One of these things that I'm doing is the right thing to do, I know it.  I just don't know which one yet.  

If you got this far, thanks for listening to me ramble.  I've been torn between writing the same kind of stuff that everyone else seems to be writing, and just being myself.  I'm just going to be myself.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pattersonization (part two)

Hello again!

Today, I'm taking the scene that I wrote yesterday and making it into the first chapter of a James Patterson novel.  I've been doing some research, and here's what I've found:

1.  Short chapters are key.  Two or three pages, four max.
2.  Short paragraphs are also key.  One sentence.  Two sentences.  Anything to keep your reader's eye on the page.
3.  The main character is always in first person.  If we're not in a chapter that focuses on the main character, it's going to be in third.
4.  There's never more than a couple of paragraphs with nothing happening.  There's a lot of dialogue, a lot of action.  Especially the first chapter - start with something wrong.

So, let's take a second to reassess my scene from yesterday.  It's short, sure.  But the paragraphs are too long, and the plot is moving too slowly for a Patterson.  Also, most of his first chapters start from the POV of the hero, and therefore in first person.  I'm not too attached to Joanne Thomas, and I don't really think she's the likely hero of this story.  So, I'm going to make the hero the handsome gym attendant, who in real life works... I don't know, as a private detective.  Is that Patterson enough for you?  Work is slow, so he picked up an extra job, and he happens to be there on the one night when his skills are the most needed.

This is typed right into my 'new post' box.  This is straight from my mind to the blogosphere, so anything incredibly idiotic is just a little added bonus for you.

Take Two:

     I'd never worked at a gym half this exciting. I could see him, the little bastard, hiding behind a corner and watching one of the women working out.
     “Hey,” I said, and felt a stirring of pride when he flinched before looking at me.
     I still got a kick out of intimidating weasels like this guy, even three years off the job. And a man who doesn't respect a woman is someone who needs to be taught some kind of lesson.
     “Look man,” he whined, “Don't report me, okay? I'm in enough trouble as it is.”
     “Trouble?” Now he had my attention.
     “I got busted a couple of weeks ago for being in the women's locker room, okay?”
     I saw red, but luckily for the guy in front of me, only for a few seconds before I got it back under control. Jesus, I thought. I almost lost it there.
     The guy was still looking at me, like he had done nothing wrong and wanted me to let him off the hook with nothing but a warning. That would never do.
     He had no idea how close he was to getting pulled outside and taught a lesson on how to respect women.
     “Yeah,” I finally managed, through gritted teeth. “You can go.” He must have seen the effort it had taken to say those words, so he went, and went quickly.
     I had tried, once before, to teach one of the creeps here just what I thought about men who tried to use women in ways they didn't want to be used. I had almost gotten fired over it, but the guy in question had never come back.
     I looked over at the woman who had been the unwitting show for this evening. My eyes widened as I took her in. I knew her.
     But my thoughts were cut off with a loud grunt of pain from behind me.

Still not perfect, but I'm working on it.  My other half says that being able to perfectly impersonate Patterson would be an awesome thing to put on a resume.  I think it would be strange, but also hilarious.

What do you think?  Let me know!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pattersonization (part one)

For a few days now, there has been a post on Phoenix Craigslist where some person is offering a ridiculous amount of money to an author who can 'Pattersonize'.  That is, take a work of fiction, and make it into something that James Patterson would write.  When I say a ridiculous amount of money, I mean it - $50/hour, or $10/page.  Considering that I'm making $0 (hour or page) now, that's a pretty tempting offer.  It's also a pretty silly one.

So!  I am going to 'Pattersonize' something.  And as well as sending it to this gentleman/woman, I'm going to post it here for the enjoyment of everyone who likes bad James Patterson knockoffs and and has a little time to kill.

The original work:

      Joanne Thomas got into the gym, waved hi to the attendant who was so used to seeing her there that he never even checked her card, and stretched quickly before getting on one of the exercise bikes, and setting it for forty minutes. It was already late when she got in, nine o'clock, even later than she usually managed to get here, when the place finally started to empty out. It was hard to get there any earlier, really, with work and the damned awful commute back home, and when she got home she ate, and nothing was worse than working out on a full stomach.
     She tried to get to the gym as often as she could, which was four to five times a week. Ever since she had turned thirty, and ever since she started seeing how her mother was letting herself go, she had made a personal goal to never let herself get to that point. It was different when she had been married, and how hard it was then to keep herself motivated to stay in shape, especially when looking good for Charlie would only make him want to touch her, and there was nothing more vile than the touch of her ex-husband's greedy hands on her skin. She hated it so much that she was only now becoming the woman that she had been before she met him.
     Jo eased off the bike pedals, and upped the difficulty. If she was going to beat the poor thing to death, she might as well burn as much as she could doing it. She was starting to sweat already, the handles of the stationary bike were slick.
     There was one person on a bike halfway down the row, and two more on treadmills on the other side of her, when she started working out. By the time she was finished, there was only one other man in the place, working out his arms, besides her and the female attendant working behind the counter. She took a towel and rubbed the bike down, then her face. She used to hate how gross and wet she felt after working out. Now she loved it. It made her feel powerful, like every drop of sweat was the bad that was being forced out of her body, and only the good was going in. Hard work. Exercise. Determination. Joanne had all of these, in droves. If she hadn't, she never could have escaped from the deranged pervert that was her ex-husband.
     Her legs tingled as she walked over to the drinking fountain and took long pulls of cold water from the low faucet. Then she went to do her laps.
     There was a track on the upper floor of the gym, going around the basketball court that, in the middle of the day, was filled with young kids, mostly students, noisily showing their love of the sport. Teams formed and collided, merging together and forming new teams, until everyone was tired. This late at night, the court was empty, and no one was around except the three racquetball players that always managed to still be playing by the time she to to the track.
     The first two laps were easy. Nice and slow, a cool down from the bike as well as a warm up for the run still to come. The track was empty, just like she liked it. No trying to be polite about lanes, no couples blocking the track by walking right next to each other. Just her and the echoes of her shoes. After her warm up, she did one more round of stretching and waved to the guys in the racquetball court, who finally looked like they were about to call it a night.
     Then she started to run. One lap, two laps. A half mile. At ten, the light for the basketball court turned off, leaving the track lit by the dim emergency lighting by the exit doors and the blinding glare from the racquetball courts, whenever she was on that side of them. As much as her heart was pounding, Jo never gave into exhaustion. Never thought about the jarring thud of each foot hitting the ground, giving her the power to push off, into the next stride. It was flow. It was magic. Her breathing smoothed out into one continuous pattern. In for three, out for three. In for three, out for three.
     So when she heard the sound behind her, it took some time for the thought to sink in through the sound of her own footsteps. Another person was on the track behind her. They were hard to hear, because they were almost exactly in time with her own unhurried pace. The only time she could hear anything was when their strides fell out of time, like two blinker signals at a stop light.
     She wasn't worried. No, not worried. It was a public gym. So she hadn't seen whoever it was get on the track. It didn't mean that it was anything to worry about. But it had thrown her off of her rhythm, and she hesitated to let herself lose herself so completely when there was an unknown around her.
I could just look back, she thought. It's not like it would be weird. They're the one following a woman in the dark. It only took another few seconds to decide her. She wasn't scared. She was a powerful strong woman, and she wasn't scared. So, casually, she turned her head over her shoulder, just to make friendly eye contact. And when she did, she gasped.

So, that's way longer than I expected it to be.  So, instead of posting both of these, I'm going to post the second half, the actual Pattersonization, tomorrow.  It'll be a two-parter, eh?  And yes, I wrote this just now, and no, I didn't actually take the time to reread it for glaring spelling errors before putting it on the internet for everyone to see.  But, y'know, if any are too embarrassing, please tell me while I still have something to be ashamed of.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Six Things

Six things I wish I had been told about writing before I decided to make it a career choice:

1.  It's going to be the hardest thing you'll ever do.  Not just because everyone out there with an ounce of creativity and the desire to change the world is out there trying to do the same thing, but because writing is a craft that takes all of your passion and all of your emotion to do.

2.  It's going to be the most rewarding thing in your life.  Every good writing day.  Every time you finish a story.  Every time you finish a novel.  You'll know that you're doing something with your life that many people won't.  It's worth everything I've been through to call myself a writer.  A novelist.      

3.  You have to give up a lot of things to be a good writer.  I stay at home a lot.  I don't have many friends.  I have goals that I need to meet, and that keeps me a little bit of a homebody.  I'm okay with all of this, absolutely.  I love to write, I want to go somewhere with it, and (this may come as a shock) but I'm quite a bit of an introvert anyway.  The only other thing is that it doesn't really give me time for other hobbies, but I'm gaining hobbies that have to do with writing, like blogging.    

4.  As soon as you think you're better than someone else, you're going in the wrong direction.  I think I'm a good writer.  I think I'm above average.  But looking down at people who aren't as talented as I am is thinking the wrong way.  Instead, you have to remember everyone above you, who is better than you and who you are 'competing' against for sales.  You can't just look down.  That gives you a false sense of superiority.  Look up, and always be working to improve your writing, especially if you think you're good at it.

5.  Write for the right reasons.  Write because you have a story to tell.  Write because you love it.  Write because you can't imagine life if you aren't doing it.  We've all heard the advice, write the story you want to read.  I want to expand that to, write the story that will make you better.  Better as a writer.  Better as a person.  Write what will make you think, and make you learn.  If you do that every time you sit down to write, you'll improve.  Simple as that.

6.  Expand.  Learn how to write resumes, or grants, or how to edit.  Sticking with novels and fiction is great, but if you let yourself learn a little more outside of your comfort zone, you'll be more of a resource for others who may need your talents, and you'll give yourself the opportunity to make money writing, which is what you're going for, isn't it?

I submitted a short story today.  I'll keep you posted about what happens next.

Friday, June 10, 2011

How to stay focused

I have cleaned out my works in progress file.  It feels pretty good.  All I have in there now are novels, though, so that's the end of my easy projects for a while.  I'm 13k words into two of them, but it's taken me a bit to get to that point.  Novels take a long time to write.

Today I'm going to write about a point very close to my heart - staying focused, staying on task.  I've been flirting with staying on track for months... no, years.  I've tried many things, and some have succeeded, and some have failed.  I've written an entire novel in one month, and I've been crippled by self doubt for twice that.

There are a lot of words on the internet dedicated to this topic, and it's easy to see why - there's at least one 'answer' to this problem for every single person who deals intimately with the written word.  I have three - filing, scheduling, and my writing journal.  I also blog and run a small online community for daily writing prompts.  I'm working on getting into blogging for a larger site, to get my writing seen by a larger number of people.  These are all things I do to stay on track, and also the things that I need to stay on track for.  The cycle is self-perpetuating.

Because there are so many 'how tos' floating out there, I'm just going to say what works for me, personally.  Maybe it'll work for you, too.  

I've talked about filing lately, so I'll only give that a brief overview.  As a writer, I believe that having an organized place to see all of your projects is very important.  The feeling of not only finishing something, but having some place to put it, gives the emotional satisfaction that is often lacking when the work is simply finished.  I don't know about you, but I sometimes get this empty feeling when I finish something.  Like, 'that's it?'  Having a place to put the work (and look at it often) makes me feel like I have actually accomplished something.

Scheduling is something new to me.  I'm usually the kind of person who flies through life by the seat of my pants.  But when I have trouble sitting down to write, a schedule keeps me to it.  Just having some time when I know I'm supposed to write.  I've been getting up much earlier than I usually do, when the house is asleep and quiet, making myself a cup of tea, and sitting down at my computer.  I drink my tea and do my 'morning internet' (comics, email, reddit), and I've been starting to visit blogs and leave comments on them.  It's past time I joined the blogosphere.  Knowing that I have that time to myself and knowing that it's likely to be my only time during the day to get my stuff done really helps.

I've also mentioned my writing journal before.  The one piece of advice I can possibly give to new writers is to keep a word count journal.  I make notes of what I'm working on, how many words I write per day, and when I finish each piece.  I have a goal of 10,000 words per week, and seeing my progress toward that goal day by day is necessary for me to keep doing what I'm doing.  Meeting goals is awesome.  It feels good, and I feel like it gives me some bragging rights (just to my fiancé).

Basically, my schedule exists to keep my honest.  My word count is a constant and daily measure of how I'm doing, and my daily prompt is to keep me thinking.  This is what works for me, right now.  I'm still not where I want to be - I'm writing, but not editing, and I'm finishing pieces, but I'm not submitting.  I'm not perfect.  But neither is anyone else out there.

What's something you do that works to keep you writing?  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


From this writing prompt on Reddit.  

“I'm sorry... She's gone.”

Gone? She was just... just gone? Jared's vision blurred, and he couldn't lift his hands to wipe the tears from his face. How was this possible? He was crying. Crying, crying like a child, like a bereaved woman, like... like a man who had just lost the woman he loved. Like a husband who had just lost his wife. He had broken his vows. She had broken hers. He was trying to contain himself. To sit straight, and let the sadness float around him, to be an island in a sea of grief. But there was no chance to float in this feeling. Instead, he drowned.

“But... she... we...” He didn't realize that it was he speaking until the other took his arm and held it tightly. Jared was torn between revulsion and a dangerous, dangerous attraction. It was against his faith to let someone not of the Devout touch him, and he reached up with his uninjured hand to push the other away, but when his fingers met skin he grabbed it tightly, and held on. His mind was still there. It was whirling, chaotic, but it was still there. But that didn't translate to his body, which was reacting by itself. While he processed what was happening to him his body doubled over, still holding on to the doctor like he was his only link to reality, heedless of the salty tears that were falling on the ground like watery meteorites. His brain was there. Unable to stop what his body had started, even if he wanted to.

The doctor was rubbing his back. “I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.”

Sorry? He was sorry? Jared's body continued to fold in on itself, collapsing into a single point of sorrow. His wife, his Sati. Gone. Gone. Gone. His mind was a dervish, a demon, finding every single memory that had ever meant anything to him and replaying them, over and over. He was clenching and unclenching his hands, barely feeling the left when the bones ground against each other. Damn the pain. No, welcome it. It gave him something else to focus on. Something that wasn't the unclean touch of the doctor's arm around his shoulders, something that wasn't the slimy feel of his own fluids dripping off of his chin.

He loved her. He loved her, and they swore before God that they would love each other until their deaths. Why would God take her away now? Why would he kill an entire village, and leave only one man alive? Alone, he was alone. Oh, God, alone. When his parents had died, he had been alone. He had lived his life alone, and hadn't even known how empty he was until Satalia had found him, and then he wasn't alone anymore. Now the only person in the world he had any connection to was seriously injured, the only other survivor of the freak disaster that had killed everyone else. Jared didn't even know who the man was, who had lived through that night. And he didn't care. It wasn't Sati. And if it wasn't her, it didn't matter who was lying in that other bed. He would still be alone.  

Writing what you need to write

I just read this article, by William Zinsser, about writing for the wrong reasons.  The article talks about different people, writers, who aren't writing what they want because they're working on something that will get them more recognition, or money.  All of the people he was talking about actually had something going for them, unlike me.  Published works, agents, journalists, you know.  People who have gotten much farther than I have, so the post was only semi-relevant.  Good advice, for when I get to that point.  Never give up the book you need to write for the book that makes you money, or gets you noticed.  Good enough advice, from someone who's already established, and probably doesn't have the same worries as someone just breaking into the field.  "Think about other financial solutions that will free you to focus on the primary task of becoming a writer," he says.  I'm a full time student, I work two days a week, and I'm already depending on my fiancé to take care of us, financially,  a position that neither of us are particularly happy with.  So I was perfectly willing to dismiss this article.  

Until I got to the last sentence.  "Your most important work-in-progress is you."  And that got me thinking.  That changed the meaning of the article, to me.  It's not about money, it's only about craft.  And that strokes a chord with me.  

I'm always thinking about my craft.  Trying to improve myself, and my writing.  I try new things, I'm taking classes, I'm putting myself out there in ways I'd never before dreamed of, and it's all at once terrifying and exhilarating.  The reason I'm telling you all of this is because I'm working on the project that I need to write.  I've written novels.  A few of them.  Two finished, one mostly finished stuck on an ancient laptop, and bits of others.  Mostly fantasy, science fiction.  Decent enough stories, but nothing with any real emotional connection.  I didn't have to write them because they meant something to me, I had to write them because I had this great idea that I wanted to get down on paper.  

This new novel I'm working on isn't like that, at all.  It's vaguely genre fiction, but it could happen here, or could have happened here.  Almost every bit of it is true, but the pieces of truth are put together in such a way as to make it fictional.  It's about a man who loses his wife, experiences a crisis of faith, and has to learn to live without both.  It's like nothing I've ever written, and it's the book I need to write, for me. It's a place to put all of the philosophies I've been working on. It's a place for me to experience real emotion while I'm writing. And most of all, it's a way for me to work through my own losses, my own loss of faith, and what that means to me. Even if it never gets published, this is a book that I need to write. It's my book. The most personal thing that I've ever written. And it's really hard.

I suppose that it's something I'm writing for the right reasons. And I agree, the most important work in progress is you.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Freelance Editing

Freelance editing is something I've considered before.  I'm really pretty good at it, one of my few true strengths, which I've employed time and time again as an amateur.  I enjoy it.  I'm good at making stories better, at seeing things that need to be fixed.  But I can only do it with writing that isn't my own.

I replied to a craigslist post today.  This unknown person was looking for an editor, and after thinking on it for a few minutes, I thought, 'why can't it be me?'  I'm a good editor.  The more help a work needs, the better I am at working on it.  So, me being me, I take my sweet time doing research, drafting the perfect email back to this person, constantly asking myself and my betrothed if this was really something I could do, if this was really something I was good at, even though I know in my heart of hearts that it is.  I looked up fees, what should be charged for copy-editing and deep editing a book, and I took the average of those fees and halved them.  I would not feel comfortable charging someone for anything that I was not a professional at.

I still haven't heard back, and I don't really expect to.  Even halved, someone on craigslist is probably looking for someone whose fees are more along the lines of, "give me $20 and a case of beer."  But that's fine.  The point of this story is the last time I asked my fiancé if he thought I was in the right for asking someone for actual money to edit something of theirs.  His response?

That I need to edit my own stories, before I think about editing for someone else.  That the best thing I could do to pad my resume wouldn't be that I've written two novels that are currently sitting in a desk drawer, but that I've written, edited, and published two novels.  He has a very good point.  I can edit.  I can, I can.  There's a disconnect, though, between my own work and the work of others.  It's so easy to see what others have done that can be fixed, and so hard to see it in my writing.  I'm still working on it.  Slowly, slower than I could be going (I'm a full time student!  I have a job!  I've run out of excuses!).

This is going to be a post for a later day, but yesterday I drove down to Tucson with my family, and there I said goodbye to my aunt.  She has cancer, and the difference between how I saw her on Easter and how I saw her yesterday was striking.  It was very, very hard to see her, and even harder to say goodbye, so I don't know how much I can say about it, but her life has been sad.  Her life has been sad, and now her death is tragic.  Not all deaths are so.  Sometimes you can look back and find plenty to smile about, images that let you celebrate the life, and not mourn the death.  Right now, I can't seem to find many of the former.  I have resolved that my life shall not be that way.  I don't want anyone to look back on my life and not think that I was happier more often than I saw sad, that I didn't accomplish the things in my life that I set out to do.  I need to take a good, hard look at myself, at my life, at my craft, and at my plan, and I need to do what needs to be done.  No excuses.  No more procrastination.  I refuse to let my death be tragic, so I need to live my life exactly how I want it to go.

I'm thinking about you, Liv.  I love you.