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Comeback

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It has been a very long time since I wrote a post for this blog. If I go back to this time last year, My life was turned upside down. Since September 2015, I nearly lost a couple of members of my family, I accepted a new job, sold our house, moved my family, bought a new house, and finished the first draft of my first novel. All in all, a pretty wild ride if I do say so myself…

The bottom line is that even though I haven’t written a post for this blog in four months, I have been writing…a lot!

Now I’m a believer. You see, you can find the time. You can devote the energy even when it seems like there’s none left in you. It is possible, if you want it bad enough, to actually finish something you have always wanted to do. Now I’m not patting myself on the back. I have no delusion that the revision process won’t be a chore. However, the first milestone has been reached.

I will try to do better about regular posts on this blog, as life seems to be leveling out somewhat. As I work through the revisions, expect to hear about it and I may be reaching out for some guidance from some of you overachievers. You know who you are. 🙂

It is now bow hunting season here in Wisconsin so there may be a post or two relating to my experiences.

For those of you who have stayed with me, Thank you! I am looking forward to sharing on a regular basis with you my friends.

 
 

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Just Weird!

Have you every sat down to do something and the next thing you know a whole day has gone by? It’s been eleven days since my last post and for the life of me, I have no idea where the time went. It’s not like when I was unemployed for five months and would play Harpoon on my IBM Model 50z from 9:00 PM until 3:00 AM. I knew what I was doing then. I was a conscious choice. I was trying to escape the fact that 250 resumes were sent out to 250 companies and only two interviews were generated. If you have to take off your shoes to figure out the numbers, that’s 248 reject letters!!! But I digress.

I got a flash update on MAVEN ans the next thing I know it’s Friday morning a week later and I don’t know where the time went. There is some good news. Wherever the time went, at least some of it went towards the WIP. Progress is being made and the writing habit I set out to create this year seems to be working. As you’ll see later even that had huge amounts of weirdness. Now that I know I lost time, I’ve been trying to find it. It’s strange there are just blank spots that I can’t account for. All of the important stuff got done like paying bills loving on the cats, and going to work. So, I was at least functioning physically. Quite strange.

Have you ever gone back to review your writing progress and determined that your word count for the last week has been EXACTLY the same everyday? I kid you, not! Every day since the 3rd the number of words spilling out of my head and into the laptop as been EXACTLY the same!!! The time spent writing varies from day-to-day by anywhere from five to twenty minutes.

So, what gives? Any ideas? Today is the full moon so that can’t be it. The waxing moon is my high energy period of the month. Maybe that plays into it? But, why do I write the same number of words? The scenes have been different in nature and feel. The one constant, which has been so for well beyond the period in question, has been writing have been fun. I like what’s coming out and it seems to be working. The muse is not fussing and the internal editor has gone south to get out of the extreme cold we’ve been dealing with.

Maybe this weirdness is a good thing? Oh, oh. i got an idea for the beaded moccasin scene, gotta go. See you later.

 
14 Comments

Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Other Strangeness

 

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Writing Craft Help

I have a pretty extensive collection of books on the craft of writing. Not exhaustive by any stretch, but I have quite a few. At the recommendation of writer friends, I recently picked up two that I think are noteworthy.

The first one is a short (80 pages), but very useful book on editing, “Dunne with Editing, A Last Look at Your Manuscript” by Nann Dunne. Its focus is primarily on copy editing. The content is broken up into eighteen clear concise chapters that detail one part of the editing process. in addition, the author gives understandable examples showing before and after editing samples.

The book acts like an editing checklist. Chapters include the usual topics like spelling, passive voice and overused words. It also includes topics on participial clauses, dialogue punctuation, attribution tags, and the Burly Detective Syndrome. Am actual checklist is included in the appendices. As is a sampling of overused words and prepositions. the final appendices include short discussions on novel planning and structure as well as story arcs.

If you are looking for a ‘quick and dirty’ copy editing book to remind you of the little things and some big things to look at once you get past that first draft and before you pay for a professional to formally edit your MS, Then I would recommend adding this little gem to your craft library.

The second book is  “Nail Your Novel – Why writers abandon books and how you can draft, fix, and finish with confidence” by Roz Morris.

Image used with Permission

Image used with Permission

If you are a writer who has ever stumbled, fallen down, and/or quit working on a project, You MUST read this book. If you are just starting out and are looking for one book to HELP you get from idea to finished work. You SHOULD read this book before you put 60,000 words on the computer and find you don’t know where to go next.

Plans scare some writers. So, I will use the term method to describe what this book is about. The author lays out a method that takes the writer through a process of writing, rewriting, and polishing a story from start to finish. She begins by providing an index to resources for each topic that she will cover. That way if you are having trouble with scene structure, you can easily find it in the beginning of the book and go right to the section on Card Shuffling. In addition, she includes games, tricks, techniques and rescue remedies to help the writer walk through the method and finish their manuscript.

The author does a great job of summarizing each chapter and reminding the writer what they should be trying to get right during each stage of the novel-writing process and what the inner critic should or should not be doing. Her thumbnail tips throughout the chapters reinforce the method in simple language. The tools she recommends, including storyboard card shuffling and beat sheets, are tried and true and most important, they work.

Another positive is that this is not a three-inch thick tome that will take you a month to work through. At 175 pages, it is concise and just the sort of book you can keep close to your computer to quickly find what you need. If the book is not enough for you. Or, if you are like me and you have follow-up questions, the author’s blog site, ‘Nail Your Novel’ is full of additional advice and tips.

Both of these books now sit on the shelf closest to my writing desk, Both have numerous post-it flags attached at critical chapters. I’m not saying that these are the only books on writing craft you should own. What I am saying is my recommendation would be to add them to your collection. I know they will get lots of use.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2013 in Thoughts on Writing

 

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Inspiration from a Writer’s Conference

I just spent the last three days at the 4th Street Fantasy Con here in Minnesota. It is a small, single-track convention devoted to Fantasy writers and readers. Attending panelists and participants traveled from as far away as both coasts. I believe Canada was represented as well. The panel discussions were fully interactive with audience participation the rule rather than the exception. The single track meant that you could see every panel without worrying if you would miss something. As usual the small group discussions between panels and after hours were some of the most interesting. These people were scary smart and some of the best read individuals I have every met. Talk about recharging the creative batteries!

More importantly, as a “First-timer” I was welcomed and treated like an old friend. I can say with all honesty that, as a writer of fantasy fiction, this was the best three days I have spent in a very long time. I will be making this an annual event on my calendar. Over the next several weeks, I’m going to use my panel notes to discuss some of my take aways from this conference.

First and foremost, I have been reading from many of you that you are or have been stuck, hit a wall, become unmotivated, lack confidence or direction, or in any other way have stopped writing. I too have been suffering from a form of Spring shutdown. Mine has been due primarily to landscaping projects that were postponed from earlier in the year due to a LONG winter and WET Spring. However, prior to attending this weekend’s conference, I had decided to take back my writing time and recreate my writing habit.

Attending the conference was like pouring gasoline on smoldering embers. Listening to and participating in active discussions about writing with highly intelligent and well-published authors and editors in my genre was like touching off the solid rocket boosters on the space shuttle. I received some well thought out advice, as well as heard ideas and trends that fired my imagination. Even though I didn’t always agree with what was being said, the sheer volume of information transfer was enormous. I defy anyone who is a fantasy writer to sit through a 4th Street Fantasy conference and NOT be amped to get back to the keyboard.

So, I have brushed off some goals I set for myself in January. Set a few new ones and readjusted my priorities. Going forward, if I am engaged in writing at the appointed times, the following will apply: If it is not bleeding, it breathes normally, or has been poisoned but, will not die until after my writing timer dings, DO NOT OPEN or knock on the door to my writing room. DO NOT call me and expect me to answer. DO NOT expect me to retweet or post blogs until that day’s WIP writing is finished. PERIOD! End of discussion! Got it!

Okay, that was mostly for my benefit, not yours. 😉

Now for a few questions for you. Have you attended a writer’s conference that just fired your rockets? Which conference was it? Are you aware of any Writer’s forums were intelligent discussions on craft and ideas are discussed regularly? Do you read outside of your genre? What do you look for when you do?

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2013 in Other Strangeness

 

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Excuses and Restarting the Writing Habit

Let’s get the excuses out of the way right now.

Yard work and other labor-related tasks accomplished in the last three weeks:

Leaves and debris removed from all planting beds at my residence. (Domestic CEO and I with shovel and wheelbarrow)

10 cubic yards of mulch shoveled, moved and hand placed in the various planting beds at my residence. (Domestic CEO and I with shovel and wheelbarrow)

5 cubic yards of gravel shoveled and moved to the back of the cabin to create a base for the new shed. (Domestic CEO and I with shovel and wheelbarrow)

Installation of new pre-built 8′ X 10′ shed at the cabin. (Installers had a cool little tractor)

2.5 tons of wall block hauled down the hill and placed to create a retaining wall around the shed. (with some help from the neighbs)

1.5 additional tons of gravel hauled back to the store unused. (Me alone)

Opened up our three water features.

Helped set up, run, participate in, and take down a 60 target 3D archery tournament. (Thank God we had a lot of help with this)

I’m so far past tired, I can’t begin to describe it.

Truth is, since the magazine article went out the end of May, I have not written a lot in June. After a very LONG winter and very WET spring, the few decent days we’ve had were used for  getting the yard in shape for the summer. The big archery shoot took up a majority of last week.

This coming weekend will be consumed by the 4th Street Fantasy (Writing) Convention. After that, my schedule should calm down a bit and I will be focusing on getting my writing habit re-established. I give you permission to kick my behind if you do not see some progress on my WIP’s and my blog starting next week.

Now for a Ben-Gay bath and 600 mg of my friend ibuprofen. And … maybe a wee dram of Irish whiskey!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on June 20, 2013 in Musings and Odd Thoughts

 

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500 a Day (FAD Challenge) in Review

On December 1st, 2012, I started a mini writing challenge proposed by fellow blogger, Shannon M Howell. The challenge was to write 500 words a day for 62 days, (Dec. and Jan.). On one hand that’s a lot fewer words than the 1,667 a day required during NaNo. However, it lasts for twice as long. I thought the number was something I could hit. Also, different types of writing were acceptable, blog posts, magazine articles, Christmas letters, etc. However, the main focus should be on the current WIP.

First the bad news. I missed my goal of 31,000 words. 😦  The reasons, Work, holidays, flu, sound like excuses so I won’t bore you with them.

Now for the good news. Over the past 62 days, I have averaged nearly 350 words a day, added 12,000 words to my WIP novel, and have a good start on a new project. I knew that I don’t write fast. That’s why I never tried NaNo. However, I found out that when my mind and the keyboard do get in sync, I tend to average 500 – 800 words at one sitting. Apparently my mind thinks in blocks of this length. If I then take a break, I can come back a little later (time permitting) and turn out another 500 – 800 words.

The numbers listed above are all well and good. However the best part of this challenge is what I learned about myself as a writer. I found that lunch hours and quiet Saturday mornings at the cabin are my most productive times to write. I am more creative when I am pantsing a scene versus writing from an outline. However, I produce more words from an outline. Either way, I usually write the bare bones of the story during the first pass. Revision is where the five senses are added to description and the plot tension is enhanced.

Having more than one project to work on is good for me in the long run as I get inspired from one story and it carries over to the other one. Also, an epiphany hit me when I realized that evil characters are actually fun to write. Believe it or not, this was new territory for me. It’s about time. Now I can really get going on the middle section of my WIP. “Run thief, run.” Mwaahaahaa!

Most importantly, the experience created some writing habits that I can carry forward. My blog posts have become more regular, for one. Writing every day is not as important as writing on those days when I have determined that I should. However, I do try to write something, even if it’s only 100 words, every day. I’m still working out the best time for me on weekends when I’m not at the cabin. She who must be obeyed stated that if necessary she would start sending me to my room. 😉 You’ve seen my room. That just might be the winning ticket.

All in all this was a good experience. Those who tackle NaNo have my respect, but I will not be joining you in November. I could be talked into the FAD challenge again. Shannon, are you with me? Maybe we can drag some others along for the ride.

Armed with the knowledge gained during this little exercise, I made some realistic goals for 2013. Confidence is high that this year will be a good writing year for me.

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2013 in Musings and Odd Thoughts

 

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21 Days to a New Habit

How many of you NaNoWriMo winners have continued to crank out 2,000 words a day since December 1st? 1,000 words? 500 words? Threw the computer out the window and swore never again would my fingers touch a keyboard? If you have continued to write every day since 12/1, regardless of the word count, your are ahead of the curve.

Two grand a day is a lot of flippin words. Especially for someone with a full-time job or with several kids in the house. I’m not sure I could do it for a week, let alone a month. My hat goes off to you who did it. But, the real takeaway as I see it, is if you wrote every day for thirty days, you created a habit. Whether you want to believe it or not, you did. The experts say it takes twenty-one days to create or break a habit. Even if you did not reach the ultimate 50,000 words, you sat down and wrote something every day for thirty days.

So…since you went to all that work to create a habit, are you going to let yourself slip back into your past self?

I realize that, with my snail’s pace typing skills and my need to pay the bills and keep my wife smiling, I will not create 2,000 words a day anytime soon. However, I am three days away from creating a habit of writing every day, averaging 500 words a day, and moving my WIP forward in the process. The plan is to continue this habit going forward. I keep finding ways to put writing off and then I kick myself in the butt and go to the keyboard.

Creating the habit is the tough part. Forcing yourself to do it no matter what takes sadistic discipline with masochistic tendencies. Those of you reading “50 Shades of Whatever” can jump in here. Once you reach the 21 day mark, you have dealt with the majority of obstacles that might come your way. Why stop?

I will see if I can finish creating a writing habit and maintain it.  I will comment once in a while on my progress.

My question for you is this. If you created the Writing Habit and let it get away, why?

 
10 Comments

Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Thoughts on Writing

 

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