Saturday, December 3, 2011

Review: Bossypants


Bossypants
Bossypants by Tina Fey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



I love Tiny Fey. She has to be one of the best comedy writers of our generation. Hearing her tell her life story in such a humorous way, and in her own voice...brilliant!



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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NaNoWriMo

So yes, I AM doing NaNoWriMo again this year, for those of you who need a refresher, here is my intro post from last year.

Life has been crazy busy. We recently bought a new house, and have been moving. Work wise, we lost two people 4 months ago and that means 2 of us have doubled our workload for the last few months. I'm taking a writing class from Mike Stackpole on Thursdays, plus add onto that the kids and their new Prep school where we're doing more homework per night than I did in college, and yeah. I'm busy.

So how am I going to fit in NaNoWriMo?

I'm just going to do it. When work ends, I turn off one computer and start up another one. I'm going to sit in my chair, maybe pop a Dr Pepper and start spewing words on a page. I'm doing it because I have to. Other than the few thousand words I've written for this class, I haven't done any writing in the last few months, and it's been bothering me. I need to get back in the game, get back up to my normal production rate, and, well WRITE!

Yesterday was painful. Only 500 words out of the 1667 that I needed, but I'll get there. Starting is rough after you haven't been in the habit for a while.

So here is to making a crazy year and a crazy holiday time even more crazy. But I have to do it. I must write.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

So then I woke up...

I haven't been here in a while, so I figured I should post something up to make sure they don't close down my awesome domain name and blog, also I guess I could state something things going on with my writing, since, you know, that's what this blog is supposed to be about and all.

I saw a post last night about goal setting and it made me remember that I had setup a bunch of goals for this year, so I decided to dig those back out again to see what they were and see how I'm doing. You can see the original goals here.

1000 words a day I haven't been very successful with, unless you only count the days that I write. For the ones that I did write, I've averaged more than 1000. Unfortunately I took a few months off starting in February and that messed me up all year.

Same with the books. I've actually halted work on the Elements 2 and 3 and War novels, mostly because the Elements 1 book was the first one I'd ever written and it is pretty horrible. Jennifer read it and struggled to keep a smile on her face while telling me what she liked about it. Don't worry though, I have plans for that storyline. It will be rebuilt! I have the technology, I just need the experience.

War was set down because it was a very complex plot that I didn't know how to contrast. Way too complicated for someone with only two books under their belt and who wasn't doing outlines.

The good news is that I'm teaching myself how to outline more while still giving the discovery writer within a chance to shine for the actual scenes.

Right now I'm 20,000 words into my next novel, code-named Ramparts. First book of a trilogy, but it can easily be a standalone novel.

I did apply for Clarion, and got rejected, but I have big plans (and have learned a lot about storytelling this year) and I will re-apply for next year's Clarion.

Editing hasn't really been done much. I did write and edit 5 short stories this year so far. I'm behind on my goal of 12, but not too bad either. At least I did something.

I have been reading a lot, and gleaning a lot of learning from that. I need to work on my vocabulary and grammar. I also need to learn how to do dialogue better, much better.

So that's where I am. I'm signed up to take a writing class at ASU starting in September that lasts for 8 weeks from Michael Stackpole. I'm very excited as I have a great idea for a sword and sorcery action novel in my head that I hope to work on during that class.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Friday, August 5, 2011

Review: Tunnels


Tunnels
Tunnels by Roderick Gordon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Interesting book. Took me a long time to go through because I had a rough time getting into it, partly because of the book, partly because of lack of time/focus.

That being said, it was a good story, had some interesting world building. My son (11) read it and said it was starting to give him nightmares, so he only read it during the day after that. Keep that in mind depending on the maturity of your child that might read it.



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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Review: Talking to Dragons


Talking to Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #4)Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Fourth and final book in the series. This one starts up following a young boy with a magic sword who had to learn who he is and what he must accomplish.



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Review: Calling on Dragons


Calling on Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #3)Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Third book in the Enchanted forest series. Yet another cute story. This one follows around a witch with 9 cats.



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Review: Searching for Dragons


Searching for Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #2)Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Yet another cute book in the Dealing with Dragons universe. This story follows a King who has noticed his enchanted forest starting to lose it's magic. Along the way he meets the princess from the previous book in the series.



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Review: Dealing with Dragons


Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #1)Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Very cute fairy-tale storyline. Princess is bored and tired of being taught how to embroider and knit, so she decides to go work for a dragon. Now she has to keep turning away knights who want to rescue her.



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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dinky Story I wrote today, figured I'd share it with you.

I stared blankly at the screen, losing count of the times the cursor had been blinking. This had been the longest 15 minutes of my life, the only way I could be more bored was if I started counting the dots on the ceiling, but I wouldn’t allow myself to sink to that level. No, I was a writer, I was just having a little blockage.
Standing up, I pushed the keyboard away from me and huffed at it. I knew it wouldn’t be good to throw it, even though I felt like going Office Space on it. I only owned the one, so I better keep my rage under control. I looked at the monitor. Cursor still blinking in the field of white background. New document my ass. What was I thinking?
The night before the ideas had come so fast. Flying cars, space aliens, elves riding on horseback. I knew what I was going to write, but this morning, sitting at the computer, it just wasn’t coming. It never seemed to. Inspiration only struck when I was bored these days.
My arm shot out and pushed the button on the front of the monitor. At least I didn’t have to stare at the screen any longer, and black was better than white for a little bit.
Coffee. I reached for my mug to the side of my mouse and missed, spilling half a cup of coffee all over the mousepad. 
Dammit! Just what I needed now, spilled coffee. I quickly righted the mug and grabbed the pad out from under the mouse while deftly hanging the mouse from it’s cord over my monitor. Luckily it only got on the desk.
I rushed into the kitchen to grab a towel, deposited the mousepad in the sink and ran back. The coffee was spreading slowly out in arms across the desk. I pushed the keyboard out of the way, resting it on the monitor stand to keep it out of the spillage. Raising the rag, I stopped.
It was beautiful in a way, the arm of coffee, bulging from itself, slowly creeping along my desk reminding me of the long arms of Cthulhu, from those stories my granddaddy used to tell me when I was a kid. Or maybe it was an analogy for the Gulf Oil Spill last year from BP, spreading to wreak damage on my ocean of a desk.
My notebook was in the way, which I quickly grabbed, but the pencil fell back to the desk, the tip coming to rest as the oil spill began to engulf it. Was it my imagination or did the spill began to pick up speed as it found something to engulf? It’s tiny tendrils, being held back by tension and air pressure, found footing along the smalls creases in the pencil and bounded along it’s surface. A drop leaked out from under the eraser. It had found it’s way under the pencil faster than it had crept along it’s side.
Suddenly, it made sense. I knew what I was going to write. The blob! Only it’s got nanobots in it, and it’s smarter than any human, made by aliens!
I quickly pulled the pencil away from the runaway spill and mopped up the mess with my dry rag. I ran back to the kitchen and ran it under water to get all the coffee out, then ran back and wiped up the spilled areas yet again, this time lifting up the monitor to get the bit that managed to ooze itself up underneath the base, grateful I lifted up my keyboard and mouse. 
I set the monitor back down with a clunk and smiled to myself. Just moments ago I had writers block and all it took was something engaging my mind for a few minutes to bring me back to reality. I swore under my breath. You would think that I would have learned these lessons by now. I have been writing for over a couple years, but no, I like to take my lessons the hard way. 
Mopping up the rest of the mess, and ensuring that there was no errant coffee, I wiped down the pencil and headed back to wipe off the mousepad. Leaving it in the sink to dry, I plopped back in my chair and rearranged the keyboard, mouse with no mouse pad, and turned back on the monitor.
I started to write.
***
Thirty minutes later I surveyed what I had written on the screen: “No one knew where the blob came from, or wether it was alien or nano-bot controlled, but one thing was for sure “
Then there was that damned cursor. 
Blinking. Taunting me, laughing at me. Not wavering in it’s resolve to tell me what a failure I was at being a writer. I had had a moment of inspiration, but it was fleeting.
I’d already counted the bumps on the ceiling, losing count around 150. I couldn’t remember if I’d gone over the same ones again.
The doorbell rang, jolting me from my reverie. I glanced over my shoulder, then back at the computer. This could wait. I closed the application, telling it not to bother saving.
Someday I’ll get my book written, but for now I had guests.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Review: Godless


GodlessGodless by Pete Hautman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A very cute book about a boy who is struggling with his faith and the antics he gets into because of it. Highly recommended for anyone, especially those who might not believe in God or those who are wondering about their relatives/friends who don't believe.



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Monday, April 18, 2011

Review: The Walk


The WalkThe Walk by Lee Goldberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I really enjoyed this book. It was short compared to what I normally read, but it packed a lot into it. While I don't think he'll win any awards for post-apocalyptic realism, it was an enjoyable read with a good ending.



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Still around, still writing.

I suppose I should post up here every now and again to say that I'm still alive, still working, still writing.  Life's been crazy the last few months. I finished up my Grandpa novel in January, wrote and quadruple-edited a couple short stores in February that I needed to submit for a contest (which I didn't win btw). Then I pretty much passed out for a month. I nearly didn't write in the month of March. Life was crazy, work shifted me to a new on-call schedule that pretty much had me working 70 hour weeks for three weeks in the month. I had just enough breathing room to kind of keep up with a little short story work, but March is basically a wash.
April hasn't been that much easier. The first couple weeks of April have been very busy, but the last week I finally managed to not be on-call, patching, or otherwise working night and day so I've been back at the laptop poking away at my 1000 words per day as best I can.
I'm currently outlining another book, which I'm feeling pretty good about.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Review: Wizard's First Rule


Wizard's First Rule (Sword of Truth, #1)Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I listened to this book rather than reading and I have to say the acting is top notch. The story and it's lush description pull you into this well thought-out world and drop you at the end thirsty for more. I can't wait for the second. Goodkind definitely has his own philosophy and does nothing to hide his viewpoints in this story. That being said I wasn't put Joffre by it in the least and thought it added a richness to the story and made the bad guys very bad and the good guys very good.



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Review: Nascence: 17 Stories That Failed and What They Taught Me


Nascence: 17 Stories That Failed and What They Taught MeNascence: 17 Stories That Failed and What They Taught Me by Tobias S. Buckell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Tobias introduced this book as either a brilliant idea or self-aggrandizing. I think it is both. It gives him the ability to show some the work that made him an author today, and we get the chance to see the mistakes he made while writing them. If you are an aspiring author, fan of sci-fi, or just a fan of Tobias's work, you should find something to love in here.



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Review: Anthem


AnthemAnthem by Ayn Rand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


My first foray into Ayn Rand. So far not disappointed.



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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Review: Patriots


PatriotsPatriots by James Rawles

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


So I just finished "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" by James Wesley.



SPOILER! The evil government liberals did it!



You'll only survive if you're military trained, you should always start conversations with strangers by discussing the make and model of your gun and what modifications you did to it, the French and Germans are evil, oh and everyone will convert to Christianity by the end of the Second Civil War. It's inevitable.



The stilted writing and hackneyed plot reads like a primer for what gear to buy to survive when the entire government collapses and you happen to already have a pre-built bunker-house in remote Idaho.



Aside from those gripes, I found the story interesting. I enjoyed the guerrilla warfare to take back the country, and I found the amendments to the constitution quite intriguing.



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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review: The Dead Man: Face of Evil


The Dead Man: Face of EvilThe Dead Man: Face of Evil by William Rabkin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Dead Man: Face of Evil is short and exciting. I read this book in one sitting, and the story ended with the main character having resolved to start a journey of self-discovery and mystery. I suppose that is the mark of a good pilot episode, and this is the first book in a series that will be put out. Still I would have liked the story to be a bit longer.



Despite the length, I'm already drawn in to the characters and the milieu. I am excited to see what else is done with this series.



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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: The Maze Runner


The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)The Maze Runner by James Dashner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Amazing book.



Thomas wakes up one day in a box, his memories wiped, only knowing his first name. Then the roof to the box opens and he finds himself in a massive maze with a ton of boys. Every week food shows up to keep them alive. Every night the walls move, and monsters roam.



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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Review: The Alchemist


The AlchemistThe Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This was quite the delightful little book! A story of a young man on a quest to find a treasure. He finds love, war, God, and himself in the process. I can't wait to read the rest of Paulo's books now.



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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Review: The Crown Conspiracy


The Crown Conspiracy (The Riyria Revelations, #1)The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I love epic fantasy. I love long stories with lots of description that suck me into a world. I love taking 4-5 days to pummel through a 800 page tome. So I was a little hesitant to read such a short (200 page) novel set in a fantasy world. Boy was I surprised.



Mr. Sullivan manages to cram a whole new world and plenty of description into his relatively short fantasy book. And if that’s not enough for me, he has five more books nearly completed in this world

I’d read about Mr. Sullivan’s rise to fame on the Amazon platform from a blog and was intrigued by his book series that was more swashbuckling adventure than sweeping epic. I have to say he pulled it off very well, and I’m hooked.



The story follows two thieves around (they’re the main characters and also some comic relief) as they are hired to steal a sword from a noble but turns into a trap where they are framed for the murder of the King that night. They manage to escape with help and end up going on a romp through the countryside, visiting monks, other nobles, rousing armies to defend the new king’s land from being taken over by a power hungry relative. They release an ancient magician from his captors, who I can’t wait to see how he turns up in later books.



There are a few times when the action gets going that I wish I had a little more description, but having a short book to just plunk down and finish in an evening is well worth the lack of description and time investment you would have to otherwise go through for a longer book.



I can’t wait to read the rest in the series.



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Review: A Reliable Wife


A Reliable WifeA Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was not what I was expecting.



I expected a romance novel. I really did.



I expected “Sarah, Plain and Tall”. I was even looking forward to a period piece about a woman who gives of herself to help a man with his children. I would have even been happy with Sound of Music.



What I got was this menagerie of twisted plots.



Man with dark past advertises for woman to be his wife. She shows up but it nothing like what he wanted. Her past is even darker than his. Toss in a pissed off illegitimate son and you have the workings of an interesting piece of literature.



From the time I sat down to start reading I was sucked in. I realized two chapters later that I hadn’t closed my mouth.



I loved the description in this book. Robert has quite a way with words, which is what got me into this book in the first place, but by the end I was getting a little tired of it and glossing over paragraphs just trying to get to the plot. Perhaps a little more tight editing would have toned it down in places it didn’t belong.



Despite that quibble, I loved the storyline. There were plenty of twists and turns, sorted histories, and yes, even a little romance thrown in around all the debauchery and disorder.



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Review: Dead Space

Dead SpaceDead Space by Lee Goldberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


“Dead Space” by Lee Goldberg.

The basic premise of this book is a group of washed up Beyond the Beyond (essentially Star Trek) actors and producers take offense to the studio putting out a remake of the original. The Captain, who believes himself to truly be the character he played in the 60’s pulls together his team to kill anyone that stands in their way.

This all turns into a cop murder-mystery with lots of sex, violence, bad acting, and people dressing up in costume for Beyondicon.

I subscribe to Lee’s blog, which I enjoy very much and he was giving away copies and asking for reviews, which I was very happy to give in exchange for free reading material.

This is not the sort of book I normally read, murder mysteries set in today’s world. I did take me a little bit to get into the plot, but once I figured out what was going on I was sucked into the story.

I guess it goes to show that an exciting book is universal. All in all I’m glad I read outside my normal genre (fantasy) and explored other, more gritty stories.



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Friday, January 28, 2011

Weekly Writing Status: Friday January 28, 2011

Third weekly status for 2011. This has been a strange week for writing. It was patching week for work, which sucks up a couple hours of time every night in the week. It’s later in the evening, so it shouldn’t affect my writing too much, but I do offset the time away from my family by cutting into my writing time.
That said I did manage to get 9703 words written this week, 1386 average out of my 1100 word a day quota.
However, only about 980 words of that is what I would consider “writing” as in content creation. 
I’m in between jobs…er books right now and I didn’t have the outline created for my next book, so I’m working on creating that right now. I hope to have it finished up over this weekend and I’ll get to work on my actual next book next week sometime. I wrote 4000 words in an outline for a future series, and 2100 words written on the outline planned for my next book.
All in all, not a bad week, though I was somewhat disappointed that I’m not writing actual content this week, I did get a lot of work done on outlines, and I’m using a new method for my outlining this week that I’ll bring up and discuss in a blog post next week.
Till next week, keep writing.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Yaaaarrrr!

In response to Tobias Buckell’s post about piracy, I figured I’d post up my random thoughts about it.

I’ve pirated.

Yes, I’ll admit it. The Barbie Girl mp3 way back in the late 90’s was just way too catchy to pass up. There might have been some other music in there, but I’ve since lost it all and can proudly say that 100% of my music I have in iTunes was legally obtained.

What about books? I’ll admit I do have a copy of Robert Jordan’s “Eye of the World” that I found buried in one of my documents folders. I don’t even know when or where I got it. Probably one of those back in the 90’s things when I was young, poor, and didn’t know any better. I do now own the Kindle version as well as a hardback of that book.

I also own a lot of free ebooks, either pdf, epub or kindle that pop up either in forums or through alerts like the Books on the Knob.

I don’t have time to read them all either. Like Tobi brought up in his article, I’m somewhat of a hoarder. If I see something free, I grab it. Though I do have some standards. All those free Christian fiction books I haven’t bothered downloading, and I only grabbed a few of those many free romance books, mostly cause the covers looked hot. I’m a sucker for a Mrs. Claus outfit.

What’s funny is that I’ve read very few of the free books I’ve ever downloaded (all of which were given away for free remember). I only have so much time to read, so what I actually read are books I’ve purchased.

One I did read and loved was “Warbreaker”, which I reviewed on this blog.

That was the first book I’d ever read from Brandon Sanderson. Now I’m a complete BS Fanboy (snicker). I love his works, but wouldn’t have known that until I read one of his books. The free “Warbreaker” download from his website was easy to download, easy to toss my iPad, and sold me very quickly. I had “Way of Kings” pre-ordered on both Kindle and Hardback as soon as I saw them for sale. I’ve also purchased a few of his backlists and got my son hooked on his Alcatraz books. I’ve also rounded out my Wheel of Time collected with his hardback contributions to that wonderful saga.

I’ve also purchased “Warbreaker” on Kindle, even though I already had it for free. It was during a special they had on it, when they reduced the price. I snagged it up to support Brandon and so I had the neat artwork along with the book.

Speaking of artwork, I also paid for and downloaded the “how to paint” series that produced the artwork for Warbreaker.

Brandon made money, the cover artist made money, Robert Jordan’s estate made money, Tor made money, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and a local used bookstore called Bookmans made money. All of that because he had one of his complete works for download on his site.

So I’m counted as part hoarder, part discoverer when it comes to free content online. I actually do plan on getting to all the free titles I download (even the hot romance books), but we’ll see if I ever have time. Currently my Amazon Wishlist for Kindle books is about 560 titles.

Some people might think I’m an aberration, but I don’t think I am. I think a lot of people are like me. I used to not have money, but lots of time, and yes, I got content any way I could. Now that I’m older, have discretionary income, and realize my time is more valuable, I support the authors but also love getting content for free because it allows me to figure out who I like and who I want to support.

With authors, just like music artists, fans become fiercely loyal to their author and will pretty much buy everything that author ever puts out. This is a life-long commitment as long as the author continues to put out great works. I think this is particularly true with fantasy and sci/fi fans.

If in your lifetime you produce 30 books, you could go a long way to building up your fan base by giving away 2-3 of those books away for free. Chances are you’ll find yourself a devoted fan that will buy up the books that you gave away simply to complete their collection.

Now, one thing I have to say regarding giving away: make it easy for the consumer.

I have never downloaded any book that required me to join a newsletter, or put in my email address, no matter how compelling the content is. If that’s the case I’ll go into Amazon and add the book to my wish list and get to it later, much later.

It is a huge turn off. People like to stay anonymous. If you have a opt-in mailing list on your site to tell me when new content is coming out, great. If I’m a fan, I might sign up for it, but I won’t sign up just to get a free article or book. Keep strings off your free content, you’ll get more people to view it, and more eyes on your content means more eventual sales.

Those are my thoughts from a reader point of view, I’ll post up later using my view of a hopeful-author.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Weekly Writing Status Jan 21, 2011

This week has been interesting. I finished writing my second novel (still in draft) and I’ll be shelving that for a few months while I write the next book I’m going to write.

Finishing up on the book was unexpected. I hadn’t sat down to outline the next book yet, though I have a basic idea of what I want to accomplish with it. This left me with nothing in the queue to write, so I spent a couple days catching up and writing some detailed blog posts about finishing books and what steps are in store.

The last couple of days were spent writing short fiction pieces of about 1000 words based on my word-a-day calendar.

I also came up with a (what I think will be a) wonderful fantasy series, all based on one of the short fiction pieces I wrote. I’m quite excited about it and and busily staying up late into the night the last couple of days working on outlines, history, even drawing crude maps of the world so I can start incorporating geography into the story.

The real awesome thing is I’ve always like books that take place in the same universe. I can tie this new series into the Elements trilogy I’m already working on fairly neatly, though there will probably be a large time difference between the two.

Here’s stats on this week writing:

3055 on Grandpa

2470 on Blog Posts

2127 on Short Stories (Flash Fiction)

Total 7652

1093 per day out of goal of 1100

All in all a good week. I actually wrote more than is shown here, as I don’t count my journal entries usually, or my blog entries, and there was a lot of outside writing on this new series that didn’t make it into the word counts.

Incidentally I’ve written 16K words in my journal this year, but a lot of my short fiction gets it’s start in my journal then gets copied to another file once I deem it something worth calling a story.

Till next week, keep writing!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Staccato

Last Night was rare. I had already written my daily word count and put kids in bed. I was tired of catching up on reading back issues of Writer's Digest so I grabbed my laptop and started writing.


I have a word-a-day calendar that Jennifer picked up for me for Christmas because I've been wanting to increase my vocabulary.


Yesterday's word was staccato (it was actually Tuesday's, but I was a day behind). I used that as the jumping off point for a short little story that I managed to get done. I read it to Jennifer, she said it was pretty good.


The End!


Well, not really the end. As I still need to fiddle with it, clean it up, and figure out what I'm going to do with it. Would be nice to get it published in a magazine or something, course those are going down the tubes lately.


So I went to bed, but couldn't sleep. Kept thinking about the story I'd written. I got back up, read through it again and thought to myself "self, this could make for an interesting plot point in a bigger story." And I was right, of course. I always am.


Next thing I know it's 1:30 AM I've written 1700 words of a rough outline, plot description, and characters for a new fantasy novel that will involve murder, mystery, revenge, love, betrayal, and of course a sword that controls it's wielder.


All from the word staccato.


I could have kicked back with my wife's iPad and watched Netflix, instead I wrote. Kinda glad I did. It was one of those rare nights.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

So you've written a book or two...

I've written two book, why aren't I published yet?!?

In response to yesterday’s post, I figured I would discuss a little more about what is involved with actually getting a book published.

Step One: Write the damn book. New authors are unknowns. I know I’m not, but we’ll assume for a minute that I’m actually a run of the mill 30-something guy who’s trying to break into the fast-paced glamor that is writing.

I’ve written two books so far. A fantasy novel that’ll be part of a trilogy, and a modern day dysfunctional family story. Both are rough drafts, meaning I’ve ignored punctuation, spelling, and grammar, to just get the books written. Both started with a rough outline, but I pretty much winged it each day when I sat down to pump out my 1100 words.

I don’t stop to correct errors and I don’t stop to look up things that I don’t have an instant answer for. This can all be cleaned up during the editing phase, which incidentally, is not the next phase.

Step 2: Wait.

Wait a long time in order to distance yourself from the work. While I’m writing I know too much about the characters, I know what secrets they’re going to reveal in chapter 14, I know who really shot the sheriff, and I know that the cute waitress at the diner really was an alien from the planet Xyblox 4.

When I come back to the book after a while (few months for me) I’ll have a different perspective. If I was completely in love with a specific scene when I wrote it, I might realize that it doesn’t make sense when I edit it, or that it reveals too much too early in the story.

Step 3: Edit, then edit, then edit again. Really I need a good 3-5 passes at the entire work, each one taking quite a few hours each. This helps me make sure the plot works, characters are true to themselves, and pacing is good. I add in sections that need to be added in, and cut whole sections that don’t add to the story.

Step 4: Beta readers. This is when I mobilize my highly skilled band of secret editor friends that wait by their email clients for my call. They instantly rush to their digital reader devices to scour my latest revision and give me their honest feedback (and by honest I mean kiss-ass).

Step 5: Once I think it’s the BEST BOOK EVAR, I need to find an agent, or a publisher, but mostly an agent. You ‘can’ sell things directly to publishers, but unless my next book is better than The Notebook, which it totally is, chances are I’ll fare better by finding an agent. Which means I have to stun them with brightly colored paper and pop-up cut outs on my query letter. Throwing lots of glitter in there always helps. Agents love glitter.

Once I find an agent who thinks I’m the next John Scalzi (which of course I’m not…because my Scalzi clone is a closely guarded secret who’s never been let out of my basement), he/she/it will probably have some edits for me to do to make it more more palatable to the publishers. This is called selling out, and being the poser that I am, I’ll do it in a heartbeat.

Step 6: Said agent to the stars (my Scalzi-clone totally said I could use that phrase) then shops my book around to a publisher. This…could take a while. I have to sell them on my book, and sell them on me, the writer. They’re investing money into my book and they need to turn a profit.

Eventually, if the writing is solid enough, I might get an offer. First time fantasy authors, based on what I’ve seen in some recent polls, make $5K as an average advance for their first book. Not exactly enough to live on considering it took me a year or so to get to this point in the first place.

Step 7: Wait. More waiting. Publishers are booked years in advance and they’ll most likely have me do more edits, they’ll commission artwork to be done for the front cover, they run it through their legal department to make sure I didn’t use the copyrighted Happy Birthday lyrics in my book etc.

Step 8: The book comes out! WOO! I have a party, 20 of my closest relatives buy my book out of sheer pity and since no one else knows my name, I’m lucky to sell out my advance over the next year.

Step 2.5: Write the next damn book. I put it here for emphasis. There should never be a time where I’m not working on my next book. The process described above is a good 2-3 year process from start to finish, assuming I pick up an agent and publisher quickly, some of them have been known to take months to get back to you. They need their rest. Sitting in their hammocks, Mai-Tai in hand, on their private beach can really take a lot out them.

I plan on writing the first draft of three books in their entirety before I begin editing on the first one. I do this for a few reasons, mainly because I’m still new at this and I have a lot to learn about how to write well, how to construct believable characters, pacing, etc.

I’ve seen it written that you need to write about a Million words before you become “good” at writing. After writing 170,000 words, I can believe it. I’m way better than I was 6 months ago, but I read people like Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss or even an indie author like Robert Sullivan I feel like I’m nothing.

So yeah. I have written two books, but they are a long way away from being done.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

And that would be my second book written.

In a surreal bit of writing yesterday, I wrote as much as I can on my second novel codenamed “Grandpa”. I didn’t say I’m done, but I have written as much as I can at this point. Now I know I haven’t spoken much about it, so I should clue you in.

“Grandpa” is the tale of a Cami, a 30-something woman who hasn’t spoken to her estranged mother in ten years. One day Cami gets a frantic call from her mom saying that Cami’s grandfather, who has been under constant care from the mother for nearly two decades, has dissapeared. He’s nearing death and has decided to travel to see people who were significant in his life.

Cami doesn’t really like her grandfather as he’s been nothing but a jerk to her her whole life, but she relents and goes on this chase with her mother to track him down. While on the trip they meet people from all walks of life and a picture is painted of this man’s bizarre and secret life.

When I started writing the book I had an idea for what I wanted to happen at the end, but I’ve veered off a bit. Now I’m at a crossroads. I have one chapter to finish, but I could end this things a myriad of different ways.

I don’t want to write the four different endings that are in my head right now, nor do I want to write just one, so what I’ll do is put this off to the side for a few months and let it stew. When I’m ready to do my first round of editing, I’ll pull it back out, read through the entire rough draft and decide finally how I want to wrap up the story.

Till then, Grandpa is “done” at 69,740 words, which is right around average novel length.

Now, I need to figure out what I’m supposed to write next. And for those of you counting, this book doesn’t count as one of the three I hope to write this year. This was supposed to be done two weeks ago…

Onward and upward!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Review: The Notebook


The NotebookThe Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


After a spot in a recent Writer's Digest showcasing Nicholas Sparks, I browsed his website dedicated to authors and gained a lot of respect for him as an author. He had a lot to say about how to write and I decided to see how well he wrote.



I can see why this book was worth a Million dollar advance.



I'm sure we've all read it or seen the movie, so I won't get into the plot, but needless to say I had a hard time not shedding tears during the last quarter of the book. The devotion the husband shows to his wife is so beautiful and touching.



As much as I'm not a romance type of guy, I think I'll have to add this as one of my favorite books. Short, beautiful, telling, and effective.





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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Review: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians


Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Alcatraz, #1)Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Yet another great book by one of my favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson. In my quest to read everything he's written I had to take on his light-hearted middle-school romp books. Alcatraz, a 13 year old boy living in foster care, finds himself thrust into a world that he never knew existed. A world where librarians control all the information in the world and distort history to their own evil ends.



In the book the author breaks the fourth wall frequently (meaning he talks directly to the reader) which is done quite well and reminds me of the Secret's set of books, like The Name of this Book is Secret.



All in all, not the type of book I would read all the time, though my 11 year old son loved it and is currently working on the second. I suppose I should follow suit and read the next one as well.



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Review: Leviathan


Leviathan (Leviathan, #1)Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I'm torn between a 4 and 5. Let's call this a 4.5. I had a fun time reading it, and I did read it quickly. One of my favorite things about this book was the pictures. I know, I'm acting like I'm 4, but the illustrations really brought out the life of the book. Because of them, the author was able to stay close to the action, and not have to bog down the scenes with lots of detail because it was there in the pictures, telling the story right alongside the words.



I can't wait to read the second book, and need to start pushing my kids to read this book.



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Friday, January 14, 2011

Weekly Writing Status-Jan 14, 2011

Friday January 14, 2011

Second status of the year, course after the bizarre dream I had last night, I’m not sure if I’ll still be shivering in my bed by the time I manage to get this post up. But for now I seem to be able to stay cognizant of my bodily functions, so I’ll go on with my status post.

I managed to get in 8941 words this last week, or averaged 1277 per day. That’s not half bad considering the last couple days I commented in my journal that I might be crazy for keeping up with 1100 words a day, 7 days a week. I could use a day off from time to time, but until I start losing more hair than I already am, I’ll see what I can do about keeping up with my pre-determined schedule.

I’m up to 64K words on my ‘Grandpa’ novel. I only wrote on it three days this last week. Most of my time was spent working on some short stories.

2300 words on a short story code-named Happenstance.

1300 words on a short story code-named Precipice.

1800 words on a short story that I’ve since abandoned called Fervid Locks. I actually will break this into two separate stories. (I failed trying to weave two separate stories together.)

I also spent some time editing a short story called Death and Recompense. I’ll be sending that out to beta readers this next week after I get another pass through it.

I want to thank everyone that’s read my first short story called Day to Day. I appreciate all your feedback so far! I will have something for everyone to read shortly, a little more hard-edged than my last story.

Wherein John Scalzi invades my dreams

Alright Scalzi. You’ve had your fun. Time to go heckle someone else. Invading my dreams…those are my dreams! I’ll admit you did pull off that pink tutu pretty well, but I did not ask you to invade my dreams and have tea with me under the great oak that separates the magical fairy land from our own. And NO I did not fall asleep reading Wings again…why would you ask that?

You want to know what really gets my goat? It’s not enough for you to use your mind control powers to force me to stand in line all day at your book signings when no one else showed up (pro tip: maybe it’s cause you are an evil mastermind), but then you took my short story and you, *cry*, you edited it! You EDITED my writing! How uncouth!

I mean who even heard of a ‘boobboarded luddite?’ I sure didn’t, but now that phrase is burned into my brain. I can’t stop thinking about it! I can’t find the word 'boobboarded' in any dictionary, so I’m left to conclude that it must be a word used to torture writers from your home planet.

You may have won this round, Scalzi. But I shall find protection from your dastardly plans. And yes, I know about the Device. Oh yes, I do.

You better watch yourself.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review: This Book Is Not Good For You


This Book Is Not Good For YouThis Book Is Not Good For You by Pseudonymous Bosch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Yet another cute and fun romp in the Secrets series of book. Breaking the fourth wall all the time, the narrator in the book carries on this separate plot thread that makes me giggle. The storyline is fairly solid, especially for middle-school which I believe this book is aimed for. The main character is a survivalist, she and her two friends are part of a secret organization trying to take down another secret organization that extends the lives of it's members unnaturally.

If you enjoyed the other books in the series, you'll love this one. If you've never read them before, I suggest you start with "The Name of This Book is Secret" so you can carry along with all the plot threads.



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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nicholas Sparks My Curiosity.

In the latest issue of Writer’s Digest, they interviewed Nicholas Sparks, the author of The Notebook which I’ve never read or watched. (Chick flick!) The interview did pique my interest and I checked out his website. He built a whole section dedicated to providing information to aspiring authors, as well as detailing how he got into the business. He talks about writing, publishing, finding an agent and other thing.

One of the things he wrote has me thinking about taking my reading a little more seriously. He recommends taking books and dissecting them as you read them. Paying attention to how the author successfully or unsuccessfully weaves plot, characterization, tension, and other literary devices into the novels.

I think that’s what I’m lacking with my lack of formal education is the ability to reverse engineer a book into it’s parts, the ability to see how the author put the book together so that I can come in afterward and learn what I can from it. I guess I could sit down and dissect a book repeatedly but at this point I just wish I could read more than I currently am doing. I would love to choose one book per month maybe and do a detailed analysis of it.

That being said, I might be dramatizing my lack of education a little bit. Despite not having a formal education, I still have a somewhat analytical mind and I think I’m certainly able to take things apart and find their parts

I know when I read Name of the Wind I found myself sub-consciously paying attention to how he told his story. A couple times through the reading I stopped to jot down a note about some phrase or word choice he used so I can research it further. I know I have a long way to go and I guess that is where the bulk of my frustration stems from. I’m not as smart both with reading and writing as I would like to be.

Sparks reads over 100 books per year and has been doing that since he was 15 years old. I used to do that in high school, and I’ve gotten back into my voracious reading schedule over the last couple years, but there is a break in there of about 14 years where I really only read technical manuals and a few fantasy books per year. I lost touch with my writer-reader self and let myself get swept up in other pursuits.

I know I have the ability, and I know I can gain the knowledge with time, it’s just frustrating knowing that I could have been nurturing that knowledge since I was 15, instead of starting when I was 34.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Review: Writing Down the Bones


Writing Down the BonesWriting Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is one of the more well-known books about writing out there, and for good reason. The author really knows her stuff. For me, who writes from a more analytical viewpoint, it was nice having that free-spirited ideal jabbed at me to help me expand my horizons a bit. I'll admit many of the things she writes are a little "left wing hippy-ish" for me, but the way she ties them to writing is effective, and at least for me, much needed opposition to the way I think.

I think I will re-read this book over the next year, taking one of her chapters (which are really just free-writes) and use the topic and method she describes per chapter as a basis for my daily free-write. I hope to use these exercises to improve my writing.



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Review: Dark Wrath of Shannara


Dark Wrath of ShannaraDark Wrath of Shannara by Terry Brooks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


All in all a good graphic novel, expanding on the story of Jair Ohmsford from Terry's original trilogy. I the art style was well done and the storyline, despite being a little hackneyed, was worth a read. Normally I would have given this book a three star rating because of it's plot but I give it slightly higher due to my love of Terry's Brook's world and his willingness to explore different mediums than just regular novels. I hope there are more put out.



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Review: Into the Wild


Into the Wild (Warriors, #1)Into the Wild by Erin Hunter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


So I had to see what all the hoopla was about with this book. I'll admit I had a rough time with it. I'm not good with names, among new people I meet and when there are a lot of new names in a book that I have to pick up really quickly. This book, despite being for kids threw me for a loop and it wasn't until halfway through I was able to start making sense of all the varying names.

My nine year old daughter, of course, rolled her eyes and me and went off about how this cat was from this clan, and this other cat becomes a warrior and changes it's name, and this other cat...well, it was all very confusing.

In the end I enjoyed the book. It's definitely for children with a little more imagination than me. I don't see me reading any of the rest of the series, but I was glad I got through this one so I could understand a little better what my kids were reading.




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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Review: Nick Of Time


Nick Of Time (Nick McIver #1)Nick Of Time by Ted Bell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Quite an enjoyable book. It does help to have some working knowledge of how sailboats work, but overall I really enjoyed it.



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Friday, January 7, 2011

Weekly Writing Status

Happy New Year!
This is my first Writing status for the year 2011, and I’m happy to say that I’ve been busy here at Casa de Hansen
In the last week I’ve written:
1150 words on my Grandpa novel, which is about 5 chapters from being completed
618 words to finish up my first short story codenamed Memories. I’ve passed this past a couple Alpha readers and so far they are excited about it, though it does need a lot of editing.
5312 words on a new completed short story I’ve codenamed “Death” Halfway through I decided to go a different direction with the story, so I need to do some pretty major editing before I let beta readers see it.
All in all a good week. I was on-call for work so that sucked up a lot of my time. Despite being really busy I’ve made sure that daily writing of at least 1100 words is a top priority.
This next week I’ll be working on a new Short Story that I want to get done this next week. It’s codenamed “Fervid Locks”. It’s a short story telling a tale of a historical point I hope to put into a book someday. I hope to have that finished this week and begin on a fourth short story.
In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m taking a bit of a break from my novel to get some Short Stories out, for a couple reasons which I hope to discuss later, but suffice it to say now I’m have a blast getting short fiction done and cutting my teeth on editing.
Till next week, keep writing!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Making a living at writing?

In a recent post by Jim Hines on his blog, he shared details about his writing income that I thought very interesting. 
Last year he made around $25,000 from his writing. Not bad, but I wouldn’t call that enough to live on. I’m sure plenty of people do, and maybe I’m outing myself as living high on the hog, but I sit down every year and list all my expenses. I certainly don’t feel like I live extravagantly when I look at my monthly bills:
Mortgage
Life Insurance
Auto Insurance
Internet
Cell Phone
Home Phone
Netflix
Electric
Water/Sewage/Trash
I don’t have cable, turned that off a few years ago, I also don’t subscribe to a gym, golf club or a myriad of other things that chip away at my income. As you can see from the list Netflix, and cell phones are about all I would consider not ‘mandatory’ so very little could be cut from this list.
All of these together add up to $21,000 a year! This doesn’t even include our other expenses like gas, groceries, car maintenance, household supplies, school activity fees, clothes, all those Kindle books I keep buying.
My point here is that basic needs for my family wouldn’t even be covered by the reliable portion of Jim’s income and he’s been at this for a while now.
For now I’m going to have to rely on my cushy day-job, which is what Jim does.
Some things we don’t think about when we’re sitting in our cushy 8-5 jobs are things like health insurance, and the fact that self-employed people have to pay the part of Social Security that their employer currently pays. I know I’m missing other things too, for that I recommend John Scalzi’s much more comprehensive analysis.
It’s a rough life, but something I hope to achieve someday. For now I just need to be content to plod along, working on my next novel, editing my last, and learning all I can about the business and craft of writing. 
I can only hope my graph looks as good as Jim 7 years from now. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Review: The Cloud Searchers


The Cloud Searchers (Amulet, #3)The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was yet another fun read in the Amulet series. Can't wait for additional books!



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Review: The Stowaway


The Stowaway (Forgotten Realms: Stone of Tymora, #1)The Stowaway by R.A. Salvatore

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I liked this book, but I didn't love it. I know it's slanted more for kids and maybe the writing style is bent for them, but something just didn't play well with me. The action was a little too fast-paced, some things seemed to happen too easily etc. That being said I read this straight through and I have the other two books and will read them as well.



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Review: The Name of the Wind


The Name of the WindThe Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I loved this book. I was hooked from the moment I began reading it and I stayed up late to finish it.

The Name of the Wind is two storylines. Present day lives and also the past as told by the present day hero. Our hero, Kvothe is a legend among the people in his land, yet he hides out in a small town. When a wandering storyteller happens to find him in a tavern and recognizes him for who he really is, Kvothe is forced to regail us with the story of his life.

Action, adventure, poverty, music, and yes, a lovely lady or two sets the stage for a very enjoyable tale that I personally love and I can’t wait for the second book to be released.



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