What Is This?

So, I haven’t blogged at all this month. (The one post I’ve made from August 2011 was one written up by author friend Tristi Pinkston to promote her wonderful new book.)

Life has been busy. First, the month of July was met with my wife’s family reunion and joining my dad, his wife, and my step-sister and her family at Disneyland. (Spoiler alert: Disneyland is still awesome.) Plus, I had a lot of other things going on in July that involved video games. August has also had video games taking up time. But both July and August have been busy with work and…well…work. I haven’t even had time to work on my book.

Not like that would matter much though since I technically lost it. What does that mean? Well, it means that I own a flash drive and it is nowhere to be found. On that flash drive are so many files that I’ve put a lot of hours working on. It has all the versions of my Eli story on it. The one saving grace is I still have a full printout of the entire book (which will require a massive amount of transcribing). Also, I have the first 30 pages I sent to writing buddy Graham Bradley with his snide comments.

The strange thing was, I didn’t seem to care nearly as much as I thought I would. Yeah, it really does suck. But I’ve been very unmotivated in writing. Last year at this time I was stressed with trying to get Eli ready for submissions. And really, it took a full rewrite between then and now to make it 10x better than it was. And somehow, I’ve lost all writing motivation.

One problem I’ve had is I’ve been distracted by a lot. See, a few months ago, Netflix added The True Story of Wrestlemania and a few other WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, former World Wrestling Federation) “shows” to watch in their instant stuff. I bet a lot of you have said “wrestling is stupid.” And you know what, I’ve said it too. Guess what, I still say it. But I’m addicted to it again.

Another addiction is my friend Andrew introducing me to this game called Terraria. It’s awesome. At least, it is to me.

But with all that said, I feel an end of my writing break coming. I’ve been met with looking at different stories I’ve wanted to write. Part of me wants to give up on Eli. But part of me says that he just needs a refresher and it’ll be even better. Either way, I’ll get there. Lately, I’ve felt very disorganized with everything and I need to do some personal organization of my life. Once I get things in order, I will be back on my blog more, bringing you hilarious mashups shared between Casey and I, random 10 things that hopefully have something to do with one another, and of course, the most random topics I can come up with.

Before I sign off, let me tell you about 2 books I’m excited about:

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch: The link you get with the book’s title will take you to a special 4-chapter sneak peak at the book. And when you’re done with chapter 4, you’re going to want more. Seriously, took me less than 30 minutes to read the whole thing and I’m a slow reader. I love the cover, to begin with. And even better, I loved what I was introduced to.

And of course….

Variant by Robison Wells: Yes, everyone whose known me over the past few years has watched my fanboy status change from one a-maze-ing author to this guy. Besides being awesome (which is how he introduced me to Sara Crowe at Storymakers back in May), he’s an awesome author. Okay, I haven’t read this book. But I’ve read the first page or two and that was enough to make me want to steal the book and miss the movie. (Glad I didn’t though.)

Currently: I’m attempting to read Catching Fire at home and I Don’t Want to Kill You by Dan Wells while I work out. I’m failing on all accounts, but I’ll get there eventually. I still have Possession by awesomesauce Elana Johnson to read.

What have you been up to?

I guess this blog is long enough….so until next time….

ALIEN ABDUCTIONS ARE INVOLUNTARY, BUT PROBINGS ARE SCHEDULED.

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Editing vs Revising

Maybe I should start a ‘match-up’ category since I like to pit to things against each other. Nah, I’m too lazy for that. Plus, I’m sick thanks to my son who learned how to share his cold. Yay!

Anyway, there has been a question as to the difference between editing and revising. I’ve been stating that I’m going through revisions with my book as opposed to saying that I’m doing an edit. Is there really a difference?

First, I looked up both words at dictionary.reference.com (a writer’s friend). It is interesting to see one definition of edit: to revise. But under revise, we don’t find the word edit. (Look it up if you don’t believe me.) Based off this information, I don’t see a real difference.

But, like most things I say, the difference is in my head. Here’s what I see: revising encompasses the story as a whole. When I revise–yes I did mental finger quotes on that one–I am looking for failed plot points, places I need to develop my characters, areas that need a little more or a little less–usually that’s a lot more or a lot less–detail, as well as anything that is out of place or out of character. Sometimes, I mention something later on in the story that needs an introduction earlier on or it is too confusing.

However, editing to me is different. I guess there are two types of editing: copy editing vs line editing.

First, “line edit” has no definition according to dictionary.com. However, in my internet research skills, I did see line edit defined as “reading the story for content and narrative flow.” To me, this is a light compared to full revising. (Yes, Sarah Eden, my research included Wikipedia. And no, I didn’t use the definition it gave.)

Second, people who do copy edits are who I would refer to as “Grammar Guru” or “Grammar Nazi”. I do have tendencies to be a GG or a GN. However, when I’m revising, I need my story looked at more. Why? Because I can easily most of the grammar problems. Yeah, I need help. No doubt. But in my mind, my story works perfectly, then I can worry about comma splices and homophones. (FYI, I do know what both mean.)

Anyway, those are my definitions mixed in with the “truth” that is found on the internet.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

 

Writing On the Go

Last Saturday, I had some great wisdom imparted on me from the ever awesome Elana Johnson. What is that wisdom? That I’m writing right. (Like I really need other people to affirm this, but it’s usually nice 😉 ) What do I mean by this?

Well, Elana taught on the topic “Writing Without Outlining”. Now, I’m not gonna rehash all the awesomeness gained from her insights. First thing learned: It is possible to not outline your book (or discovery write) and be published. Yeah, I already knew this, but you know what, I really like hearing that this is possible. Especially since I completed my draft on Saturday and it’s kind of the way I wrote it.

Elana stated that she wrote her book Possession (which has an awesome cover and I can’t wait for it to come out in June) in a few days. I think it was 11. To a writer, that’s short. She stated she never outlined, didn’t do anything specific to the plot. But it did take her 13 months to revise. Do you know how much I hate revising? It’s just a necessary evil to me. (Goal for the moment: Learn to love revising.)

One of the things that she talked about was that discovery writing can come so easy to some of us. I liked her concept of “Pantsing.” No, it has nothing to do with some poor boy who has to choose between it and a wedgie.  She referred to writing by the seat of your pants.

So, you don’t have to write a book some traditional way. Oh, there is some tradition in writing, and I think Elana showed this quite well without realizing it. What is that traditional way to write a book? Oh, I guess I can impart that secret.

Hold on, it’s that awesome.

 

 

 

I’m serious, just give it a second.

 

 

 

Start, don’t stop until you’re done.

I can’t think of a single book that was published where the person didn’t start and stopped before they were done with their book. And with that random bit of advice:

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

NaNoWriMo

Ah, NaNoWrimo. Let me tell you the history of NaNoWriMo as it relates to me. Because, honestly, that’s why you’re here, to read more about me, right?

First: NaNoWriMo is the short-name of National Novel Writing Month. Go to NaNoWriMo.org to learn more. (Yes, I advertise on my blog, didn’t you know that? If only I could get paid to advertise. Such a great thing that’d be.)

Well, my sister-in-law first told me about NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago while it was going on. It was halfway through the month and I had no desire to try to get 50,000 words in 15 days. Not with working full-time and other things taking up time.

Last year, Casey reminded me of NaNoWriMo. And I got excited to do it. But, I was about halfway through an edit of my book. So despite the fact that Casey and our friend Erin were going to try, I failed at even starting it. (I think Erin is the only one who actually actively participated last year.)

This year, I’ve heard about NaNoWriMo incessantly (maybe it’s nauseatingly) from, well, basically all the writers I know. This year I have more than 2 ‘writing buddies’ on NaNoWriMo. (Do you have to pay Facebook a royalty for use of the word friend nowadays? Oo…..I claim it if they didn’t!) And I’m more excited to do it.

Something that I noticed was over at my friend Graham’s blog, he’s been discussing his plans for NaNoWriMo. This is a guy that is getting married, working his @$$ off and trying to pen two novels while sell (unless that’s not current) one of his full-of-awesomeness novels. Why am I telling you about Graham? Because the more I think about Graham’s overzealous plans and wish I had that awesome drive.

So, let’s discuss my NaNoWriMo plans.

First: I am going to be rewriting Eli as I’ve stated on here before.

Second: The week of the Book Academy at UVU, I decided I wouldn’t study for my CMA exam and instead just look how I could improve my story. So, I rewrote chapter 1.

Third: I kinda ‘forced’ chapter 1 to end. So I fixed up the first half of the chapter and ended up stopping once I felt that I had the strong beginning I sought. So yeah, I’m cheating for NaNoWriMo and having half a chapter written.

Fourth: The goal is to get 50,000 words (and I’ll do 50,000 new words) for this. That averages 1,667 words a day. If I can get 2,500 words during my lunch hours at work and after the kids go to bed, I’d be doing pretty good. The goal for Eli is actually 70,000 words. If I don’t write on Sundays (personal preference) I will have 26 days at 2,700 words a day. Thankfully there are some Saturdays.

Now, my plan is not to really change my schedule. But if I’m feeling like I’m lacking on what’s going on, I’m going to look at waking up early to give myself at least an hour before I get ready for work to write (a la Robison Wells. That was an ‘a la’ and not a ‘voila’ as I will not be transforming into Rob. Nor would I want to with his health problems.)

So, are you NaNoing? NaNoWriMoing? Whatever you want to call it. Or will you be, as Sarah Eden said, MeNoWriMoing. (I’ll let you try to figure that out as your halloween tweet.

And before your involuntary abduction, here is my Halloween costume:

Highlight the white space below to see what I am.

I’m a Tie Rack.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Writing Process

It’s amazing when you write something just because you need to write something or your brain is going to explode. If you’re not a writer, I’m sorry, but this is the way we as a culture feel.

Sometimes, you just need to do something different so your creative juices don’t go dry. Well, once upon a time, I have no idea when, I wrote this poem just because I needed to write something. I look at it and laugh. And cringe. But I laugh mostly because of its honesty. See, once in a while I get time alone and I discover I can use it to write. And this is what ensues:

I sit, I wait, I think and then the fingers go.

They push the buttons on the keyboard like there was no tomorrow.

Each keystroke is getting me closer to the end, closer to the goal.

Letters form beautiful words; and the words form a wonderful story.

But then I jump back and think. Did I make sense?

Probably not. Time to revise. But revising sucks!

So I’ll continue on. I keep writing. The words just fly. And then they stop.

I’m blocked. A brick wall just stopped my brain from functioning.

Maybe I need a snack.

Where are my Cheetos?

Where are my Oreos?

Where’s my Monster?

Most importantly, where’s the chocolate?

They are not here.

The ideas have left me. The thoughts have ceased. I cannot move forward.

Oh, Television, the sweet assistant of procrastinators, please console me.

 

And that’s how it is for me more often than not.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Murder, She Wrote

Netflix is an awesome tool to watch forgotten movies and decent tv shows. My wife and I enjoyed watching the first three seasons of Newsradio through our Wii thanks to Netflix. We love that Coach is available. It’s nice for my daughter to watch those annoying shows. (Sidenote: I was the youngest in my family. I was the one that repetitively watched the annoying shows, the top of the list is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Anyway, point is, I got cursed. They created shows that are more annoying than the ones that I watched. What the crap is up with that?)

Yesterday, I started a Murder, She Wrote marathon. Yeah, this is a show that was written and geared toward 30-50 year old women who loved cutesy whodunnits. Honestly, though, I’ve learned a lot about creating mystery in a classic fashion from watching this awesome show from 1984 (so close to one of my favorite songs “1985”.) Anyway, there is a certain storytelling technique that is used in this type of show (similar with Perry Mason and Matlock.) There is a cast of characters. Unlike CSI (and its regurgitated similarities) and NCIS (same goes for this one) where the point of the show is to show the evidence in a different light and you don’t see the assailant until the end of the episode half the time, Murder, She Wrote takes you on a journey from pre-murder, murder, post-murder so that you can try to decipher the clues yourself.

Murder, She Wrote is a complete story. In a way, it’s one full book in a 40+ minute segment. Why am I talking about this? Because I’ve always had a passion for mystery and intrigue. I’ve always hated not knowing something so I had to do what I could to figure it out. (Too bad that philosophy wasn’t used to my advantage in school.)

So, as I watch Murder, She Wrote, I look at the evidence that she points out. I love how the storytelling recaps different things. There was one episode, annoyingly, where it was pretty obvious who the murderer was. Well, more than one. But usually it’s well after the murder, closer to that 36-37 minute mark where there is only so little time left for the murderer to be discovered.

I like the cutesy murder-mysteries. Yeah, I’m a guy, I should go for the thriller style (I like those too.) My point with these mysteries is that there is a collection of people with motive for murder. Someone has a clue on them that implicates their involvement in the murder. Find that clue, find the killer.

Planting that clue in the story is the most interesting part. Two of my favorite people lately are Stephanie Black and Josi Kilpack. (Yes, yes, the list can go on, but I’m focusing on these two for a reason.) These two authors write mysteries published by Covenant. Josi’s books seem like something I would by my mom if she were still around. The mystery in them sound like something she would enjoy. Honestly though, I’d like to read them to see how she weaves the mystery with her delectable treats.  Here is the cover for Josi’s latest book.

Stephanie’s books, however, give this chilling effect. I wouldn’t buy them for my mom but would probably try to read them out of the intrigue that are created. But honestly, this sweet lady has a creepy cover for her book. Here’s here upcoming release.


Ok. So what was the point of this? Well, here you have two women who can have their own “Murder, She Wrote” concept. They’re both kind sweet ladies (ok, maybe since I don’t really know either that well, but I’m going with they are) and they both have a knack for mystery according to their fans. (Shoot, now I have to read their books and truly state how I feel about them, huh?)

Imagine if either of these two women had their own “Murder, She Wrote” life. Of course, if that were true, I’d steer clear of both of them. Why? Didn’t you know that whenever Jessica Fletcher came to town someone died? And a lot of the time it was a ‘friend’ of some sort. No sir, I’m  steering clear if people around them start dropping off.
Well, that’s some TMI for your Monday.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Let the Character Speak

So I got to go to lunch with some Author Incognito friends. Note: I”m not gonna refer to them “peeps” for two reasons. 1: It’s too trendy. I try to avoid trendy as much as I can. 2: I think it’s a lame word. Note #2: If I ever use the word peeps to refer to friends/colleagues/associates, refer me to this blog. Mocking myself is one of my favorite past-times just above mocking others. Note #3: I may use “tweeps” without seeking this kind of retribution as it is an official term canonized by the Twitter gods.

Anyway, before this lunch, I had a nice conversation with Christie and Ali. Hmmm…did I call them the right names? I don’t know, I met like 10 people I’ve only interacted with online. Anyway, I’m off-topic (yeah, like that’s news). Ali and I were discussing how being weird is a good thing. We were talking about how authors can interact with each other and say things like “My character was telling me to do this” and have the people around us think “So you obey the voices in your head?” Yes, we’re weird. And dang proud of it!

So, I’ve been rewriting Eli as I’ve mentioned before. Currently, I’m titling it Eli the Thief. I have to say, after Graham had inferred that calling it Eli and the Amethyst seemed wrong and having a conversation with Elana who thought Eli the Thief sounded a lot cooler, I’m going with that for now.

In this book that has had a few rewrites, I’ve kept the same characters but put them through different trials (well, except Eli.) This time, though, one of my minor characters who first appeared near the end the first time I wrote it now appears in the middle. This means that my minor character is in the story more. The first few times I wrote the book, this character was mild, timid, and shy. Not a bad thing. It worked for her. But that didn’t work anymore. This character told me (she did!) that she was more outspoken and daring. She first appears in a chapter and has no lines. Her following appearance she has a few lines. But even better, she has a sword fight with a Gnome in defense of Eli who got knocked down. Later, instead of shying away from Eli, who did rescue her as well, this character is fairly flirtatious and bold. She definitely has made this story more YA and less MG. (That’s Young Adult and Middle-Grade for those that still don’t know.)

Now, I don’t intend to put sex in my books. I’m not that type of guy. Also, I don’t want to use much harsh language. However, this character who Eli is infatuated with, insinuates that her captors tried to rape her. (in my story, they didn’t. That’s bordering an adult story.) And the reason they didn’t is that this chica (yeah, that just sounded fun to say) has been fencing for a few years along with taking different early martial arts classes. She states that she can defend herself just fine. And she’s proven it. The Gnomes left her alone after three of them ended up with broken legs and arms. Wouldn’t you?

What’s my point with this? Well, my characters do speak to me…a lot. Eli did this a lot the very first time I wrote the book. Originally, Eli was going to willingly go to Arrassnel (the world my book takes place.) But instead, I saw him stealing the amethyst that granted such a power. It just made sense. And it still does. That’s not changing. I just need to rework it some so that his motivation still makes sense to his action.

There are others way that my characters speak to me. These are just a few examples and I really like these examples. You can’t ask an author why he/she may think one way or how he/she came up with an idea (I can answer the how, but only sometimes.) Getting into an author’s head isn’t something you’d want to do. Just read one of my favorite Phoebe quotes from Friends:

Chandler: [about the guy who bought the engagement ring Chandler had chosen] All right, where was he going?
Phoebe: Yeah, it’s a restaurant, it’s… the Rainbow something.
Chandler: Rainbow Room?
Phoebe: No.
Chandler: Rainbow Grill?
Phoebe: No.
Chandler: Somewhere over the…?
Phoebe: L’Espace.
Chandler: Rainbow L’Espace!
Phoebe: No, no. Just L’Espace.
Chandler: [thinking] I would love to know how you got from Rainbow to L’Espace.
Phoebe: No, you wouldn’t. You don’t want to get in here
[points to her head]

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.