2014

My new attitude for the new year actually started in November of 2013. For those that know me, I love doing the Nano WriMo challenge. (50k word novel in 30 days) The challenge started off normally and they my furnace started acting up. I lost a week and a half battling the monster in the basement. (My family compared me to the father from the movie Christmas Story and his furnace battles. Without the swearing though… yelling yes, swearing no.)

I thought I was done, I had lost too many days to make up the lost time… or so I thought. I was listening to the soundtrak from The Mask of Zorro. Not the most action packed music, but it spoke to me at a different level. The final song from the credits has lyrics to it. So many lyrics reminded me of my previous Griffin Rider stories, but this one struck a nerve;

“Heroes rise heroes fall
Rise again, win it all
In your heart, can’t you feel the glory”

I was motivate, determined and insane enough to vow I was going to finish the challenge. I moved mountains of words in one weekend to write 18,000 words to jump over the finish line. Was the story done? Not by a long shot. I figure I need at least 30k more. What it did was gave me the drive to finish. That momentum has carried me through to the new year. So in 2014, I intend to let that drive carry me along to who knows how many words and stories will come out of 2014.

Keep writting my friends.

Don’t call a Rabbit a Smurf

Awhile back I attended a writing seminar at Balticon. The speaker was the Mightly Mur Lafferty. Author of Playing for Keeps, the Afterlife Series and now The Shambling Guide to New York City, she is best known for her Science Fiction and Fantasy stories.  She has been writing for awhile now and is one of the best examples of how self-publishing can lead to main stream. During the workshop she presented her top 10 writing tips. What brought this to mind is, I recently read a couple unedited chapters of a friend’s new story. In the chapters, it was marked with red quotations where she wanted to create name for something; [animal] [plant] [location]. All of us do this, but it reminded me of Mur’s first tip: Don’t call a rabbit a Smurf.

What is meant by that phrase is that you don’t always have to rename everything your writing about, no matter how bizarre you world is. It can actually hinder your story’s progression as you try to describe everything that you’ve named. Or worse yet, lose your reader’s interest. In my friend’s story she named a creature a Lava Slug. This is great, because most people know what slugs are, so they get an instant mental image of the shape of the critter. Now all that needs doing is to explain why it’s a “Lava Slug.” The task can be done quickly now because you don’t have to describe everything from scratch.

“The Lava Slug left a wide ditch in the ground when it passed by our village. It’s eyestalks where out of sight, long before the last of its red glowing body passed us. The plants to either side of the ditch were scorched black while stone and dirt had been melted and smoothed along the ditch bottom. When cooled the town would have a new aqueduct system, bringing fresh water from the upper lakes.”

Now if we rename our Lava Slug with lets say… a Trowlu. What’s a Trowlu??? Well now you’ll have to take time to describe that it is a creature of large size, generates a lot of heat, how it moves, and any other important fact, that will help the reader understand. I’m not saying renaming is a bad thing. As writers, sometimes we can’t help ourselves, but ask yourself this; does it add anything to the story?

Another advantage to using everyday terms is it will help connect your reader to the story. It’ll bring to mind possible personal experiences that’ll help draw your reader down the rabbit hole even deeper. When there is a mention of a rabbit in a story, my mind brings up images of my brother and I trying to lasso rabbits on a cool summer evening. (But that’s another story.) The point is my mind connected my rabbit with the one in the story automatically and now I’m one step deeper into the story. That is the key to a good story, getting your readers to connect with your world.

I will be brining you more of Mur’s top 10 writing tips, until then, happy writing.

Distracted

I’ve been distracted lately. Just a lot of little things in life have been jumping out of nowhere to take me down rabbit trails. I literally woke up one day and realized how much time I’ve lost because of it. Griffin Rider II is a mess in editing. The Core, my superhero novellas are in disarray and are in need of attention before I can get them edited. Griffin Rider III and some side novels to the Griffin Rider universe are just a pile of notes and scattered paragraphs. This doesn’t bother me so much as the thought of what happened? How did I get so far away from the one thing I love to do? These story ideas are just filling my head, and I haven’t been taking advantage of them.

Every class I’ve ever taken, every podcast I’ve listened to, all say the same thing; you have to write intentionally. I guess that lesson didn’t sink in, but I understand now what happens if you don’t. So I’m setting time aside daily, its on the calendar so that the entire family knows I will be writing/ editing for an hour and not to bug me. I figure I’ll alternate writing one day editing the next. Nothing on Sundays, that’s family day. Part of this is to start using my website more. I won’t go so far as to say I’ll be blogging, but it’ll be updated a lot more regularly. So until the next update, put your fingers to the keyboard and get writing.

Backing up your life.

I learned the hard way to always backup my computer. People ask me if I went to school for computers because I seem to know what I’m doing. When I was in school, we were thrilled to get a brand new MacIntosh Apple computer. (Yeah, I’m that old.) No my experience comes from the school of self repair. Crash the computer, reprogram the compter. I’ve done it more times than I can to remember.

Once my program size grew to over 400 gigabites of storage space, I went to an external backup system. The one thing you can count on a computer doing is crashing. Blue screen of death, or black screen of nothingness… it will happen at some point. Now I figured I had myself covered with the external hard drive backup… Until it died last month. No big deal, I’d just wait for my tax refund check and purchase a new one… Then the unthinkable happened… The black screen of nothingness. (Insert ominous discorded music here.) Now a black screen can be caused by a LOT of things, from a bad video card or broken monitor to your keyboard isn’t plugged in right… Trouble shooting is insanely tough.

Here’s were backuping your work is important. I always back up ALL of my writing onto seperate USB flash drives. I keep one with me at all times. (You never know when a story idea might strike.) This saved me in this pc crash, because I didn’t lose one word or edit. My stories will continue while I figure out my computer’s problem. You have to become obsessed with backing up your work. Because you know, your computer will crash someday. Trust me on this one, backup your work onto multiple drives daily. It will save you a major headache later.

A new year

Here it is a New Year of writing possibilities and I’m lacking motivation. I completed my November writing challenge but I didn’t like the way it ended. My concept for The Core was a series of short stories featuring several different characters working on what appeared to be unrelated circumstances. Behind the scenes though, ran a common thread that began to build towards the end. It was meant as a prelude to a much larger story but introducing the characters and their backgrounds in a focused story.

By the time I finished it was miserable and I was just happy I was done. I can’t describe to you the mental exhaustion that writing something at that pace brings. I top of that, my editor sent back the second book of the Griffin Rider series, unhappy. In her words the whole thing was flat. What I thought were cliffs and valleys to overcome, she read them more like bumps and dips when compared to book 1.

So… now that I’m back in the writing mood I have one book to energize and another to… well it needs something. In both cases it’s time to get back to what I enjoy.