I have several works currently queued for development. I’ve completed a science fiction short story. Next up will be a novel about Sifa and Peter. I started development of a children’s picture book series as well.
- From the Journal: Blame (5/23/2018)
Blame is making us sick. Splashed across mass market media, our communities, and our homes is a maelstrom of finger-pointing targeting the mighty and the ordinary alike. A different storm of blame, a sickness silent and unnoticed, also rages across our country – one where the finger-pointing is turned inward.
- Quick Tips from the Writing Notes (5/2/2018)
Hopefully these one-liners I’ve collected on the craft of writing will help you, and perhaps not just in writing.
- DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY
- Be true to your I.Q.
- Embrace idiosyncrasies
- Make them laugh and/or make them cry
- “…a lot of times if you’re finding that you’re having to describe things with a lot of adverbs, find a stronger verb instead” – CJ Lyons interview
- Go beyond the five senses
- Forget about being pretty
- Don’t fall into stereotypes
- “Verbs are the foot soldiers of action-based description”
- March 2018 Status (3/28/2018)
Work continues on the Salvage project, and I’m starting to spend time thinking about structure for the Blue project — occasionally even the Sifa and Peter project.
- January Status (1/24/2018)
Ramping up for the new year, now!
Several science fictions works are in progress as I gather ideas for work in other genres. Sifa and Peter, my original novel, remains on hold, as does the children’s series Zeddy and Bubba.
- December Status (12/27/2017)
I have my first critique partner! So exciting!
My novel and children’s series continue on hold. I’m working on a revision of my science fiction short story, incorporating feedback from online and from my critique partner.
It’s been interesting learning how to add more emotion beats to my write and learning that sometimes the subtlety I shoot for — well, sometimes it’s just too subtle for the reader.
- Writing Status for November (11/25/2017)
Writing Skill Development Takes Precedence
I’m not pushing to complete any of my works in progress at this point. Instead, I’ve switched gears to improving my writing skills. This involves incorporating feedback (thank you, Absolute Write Forums!) back into my stories and improving the way emotions are conveyed in my stories. I’m using not only my works in progress but also snippets from my writing journal. Stay posted for more before and after examples!
Being a Plotter
Entire arguments exist on the web about writing a book by the seat of your pants (pantsters) and writing by planning the structure in advance (plotter). What I’ve found is that capturing my dreams and ideas is great as a pantster, but to write well I need to be a plotter.
So, my major ideas are now organized into a MS Word table identifying concept, premise, and M.I.C.E. quotient. A few of these I’ve developed with a synopsis as well as major setup, conflict, climax, and resolution. One or two now have heavily developed character charts.
- Writing Status for October (10/21/2017)
Still reviewing my works in progress and developing better premises for my current list of ideas. Sifa and Peter is still on hold, as is Zeddy and Bubba. I’ve turned my attention to several science fiction ideas. One may work as a short story, and another fits an episodic novella concept quite well, at least at this point.
- Big Surprise: Writing Flaws = Personal Quirks (10/18/2017)
I’ve received feedback on my writing from the amazing folks over on Absolute Write. I’ve submitted the first scene from Sfia and Peter and two thousand words of Out of the Blue 2.0 (see the Science Fiction section), as well as asking for feedback on Zeddy and Bubba as a concept.
Several people touched on the same things in their comments, and those things turn out to be related to what I’m working on in my personal life. Why am I surprised?
- Over-explain. I explain in too much depth and width. Anyone who knows me well knows that! And it clearly shows up in my writing
- Emotional Distance. The readers don’t feel close to my characters. Since I struggle to clearly identify and express my emotions to others, it’s not surprising this showed up in my writing.
- Timing. My sense of timing, of when to go in greater depth with the settings versus the moment of tension, needs work. Ha! If you know me, you know my tendency to blurt, or to say the last thing first, etc.
- Lack of clarity. Sometimes the readers are left wondering “Why?” too much, especially in regard to what the character’s motivations.
The comments were by no means all negative. I’m just focusing on what’s wrong to make it better. Stay tuned!
- July Status and Ideas (7/22/2017)
Status? Well, I still haven’t met my goal of 10 hours a week writing.
But, I’ve reached my 50 post goal on Absolute Write, so I can now submit stories for critique! Wahoo!
- Novel’s First Four Chapters Ready for Beta-Read (6/24/2017)
When I say “ready,” I don’t mean I actually think my chapters are ready. I like to keep going over and over the same scenes, tweaking them and making them better. But, one does finally reach a point of diminishing returns. One does reach a point when one shows one’s baby to the world.
So, I’m ready for an avid reader or two to read the first four chapters of Sifa and Peter and tell me what he or she thinks. Researching beta-reading and identifying readers will occupy much of my administrative overhead this month.
- Writing News: Zeddy and Bubba (5/13/2017)
I finished a draft of a Zeddy and Bubba story!
My concept for the Zeddy and Bubba series is becoming more robust. It will consist of travel adventure stories, introducing the reader (or the listener) to a wide range of experiences and locations in this world.
The next thing? Besides revising the draft? Deciding how much conflict needs to be in each story. Right now, the stories are without much conflict, if that makes sense — almost like a travel report.
- Writing Status: S&P Progress (4/22/2017)
The first part, of three parts, of my novel about Sifa and Peter, is shaping up nicely. I feel like the section now builds the characters and builds up tensions for the upcoming conflicts in a decent way. I’m still struggling a bit with Laura’s story — how much to reveal about her personal tragedy in the first part. How much allusion versus specific detail should be included? How much should I unravel, or unveil, about her problems? After all, her story is not as prominent as Sifa’s, or Peter’s.
I may have finally found someone to review Peter’s work scene, someone who knows of the profession Peter has in the book. We’ll see!
- My Thing I Call “Squirrel” (4/1/2017)
- Writing Status: Journal and S&P Revisions (3/18/2017)
I’ve spent more time in my journal than anything else this month. I’m just thankful to be writing something, and the journal has been valuable in a number of ways.
I’ve also tried a few self-assigned writing exercises, and I’m still eyeing the outline of S&P on my desk. I’d like to get the calendar of events in the novel straightened out.
- Writing Status: Participles and Clauses (2/18/2017)
Things to correct that I’ve noticed about my writing (so far!):
- A possible overabundance of participles, participial phrases, and absolute phrases
- A lack of gerund phrases
- A lack of “when” and “while” and “where” clauses
- A New Year of Writing (1/14/2017)
As great as my year-end break was, I’m glad to be back to a routine and glad to explore the possibilities here in the new year.
- Character Arcs and Story Structure (11/19/2016)
In addition to writing, I’ve been doing more research into story structure.
The problem is, my story doesn’t quite fit the standard model, as each of the three character arcs is well-formed enough to have its own introduction-conflict-resolution — but not at the same points in the overall story. I think I can strengthen each character’s arc to be more of a solid story, though.
As with all writing advice, I’m going to let it sink in and discard what doesn’t apply.
I also may have too many scenes that are too short. I’ll be looking at scene structure over the next month.
- Story Trailer/Idea: Colorado, Mountain Climbing, and… Alien? (10/8/2016)
Here’s an idea from my journal. Let me know what you think in the comments, Facebook, email, contact form, whatever:
Rock climber in Colorado. He watches another climber shimmy up an iced face. The other climber makes a move so fast the watcher almost doesn’t catch it. But catch it he does. It was a move impossible for a human to make.
What does an alien do when stranded on a planet not his own? When he has a long life, and needs to hide out from crowds of people? Learns how to be a mountaineer, of course. Find out how one man learns his secret.
- Writing Excerpt (8/6/2016)
I’ve finished my second science fiction story. Not sure I’m happy enough with it to submit it, so I’m debating whether or not to shelve it, find a second- or third-tier market for it, or keep working on rewriting it.
Here’s an excerpt:
- In Progress: A Second Nanite Short Story (7/23/2016)
- Writing Status: Slow Month (7/9/2016)
I had high hopes for more writing time this summer. Parenting, gardening, and purging excess stuff have really eaten up June.
However, despite limited time, I’m learning more and more about my craft. I’m starting to hone character development in my novel, and I’ve finished the first draft of a science fiction short story.
Although I do read short stories, I’ve always liked reading novels better. However, it turns out, writing short stories is fun. I’m learning how to make every sentence work, more about pacing the action, how to not complicate things. I’m looking forward to shaping and finishing the short story.
- First Draft Almost Complete (6/18/2016)
My first draft is almost complete. I’m so close I can see the light of day at the end of the tunnel. And it won’t be a train wreck! Well, only so much as first drafts are always train wrecks.
Then, it will be time to revise, and revise. I’m still not happy with Kindra’s profession. As a dynamic, assertive, no holds-barred, best friend of our protagonist, none of my job choices for her seem to fit: personal assistant to a wealthy woman, a marketing director (too close to Sifa’s profession), international spy, retail sales… maybe a nurse?
- Tidbits of Writing Advice Gleaned (6/4/2016)
These quotes are few bits of writing humor I found applicable in my development as a writer so far. Hope they make you smile, too.
- Facebook Vs. Website: Some Personal Notes (5/14/2016)
My Facebook page has more frequent posts than this website. But, Facebook lends itself well to short posts.
So, here you’ll see longer posts. You won’t see as many, but hopefully ones with more information you find interesting or useful.
I originally had a plan to post 1-3 posts a week here on this website, but I have since revised that plan.
At this point, I’d rather spend my writing time on my novel, with occasional excerpts captured in my writing journal. Maybe even kick out another short story, although I’m a bit disappointed not to hear what happened to the last one.
- Nanite Short Story in Black Hole? (4/30/2016)
No news from the competition out of Glasgow. I have no idea whether they’ve accepted my short story into the anthology. Is no news bad news?
I suppose I need to sit on the story for a year, then assume they’ve foregone the rights to it? Er, I’d better go back and read the submission rules on rights.
It’s hard not to let this burn me on writing more short stories.
- 10 Things You Can Do to Support an Unpublished Writer Online (4/30/2016)
- From the Journal: Space Exploration (4/19/2016)
Here’s an excerpt from my writing journal, about space exploration:
“T minus 3 minutes”
- Writing Progress: Past the Baby Steps (4/5/2016)
I’ve been taking baby steps in this writing business for the past few months. Now that the following are accomplished, I finally feel like I’m stretching out from baby steps and am now, well, toddling along.
Thanks for your support, and I’d love to hear feedback from you.
If you want to know what have I achieved in terms of baby steps:
- Yellow Stone Church: A Journal Excerpt (4/1/2016)
I’ve mentioned that many of my ideas come from dreams. Earlier this year I woke up after dreaming up a setting. No full story, mind you, but just a very specific location. Here’s what I wrote up in my writing journal:
They had found a new location for their little church.
A road dead-ended into a yellow stone plaza. Around was an entire complex of made of yellow stone mortared into place hundreds of years ago.
To the west were the doors to an old little church, built into the larger complex. It was also made of yellow stone, but the thick, tall doors were made of solid dark wood smooth from the ages.
The doors were about six feet tall, but over the doors was a built-in pediment of sorts, made of the same wood, curving up and over the doors in a half-moon arching over the door. Inside the half-moon were two quarters of stained glass, small but blending in nicely over the doors. The whole entrance was about nine feet tall.
Across the courtyard to east was a tall wall, about fourteen feet tall, also mortared with yellow brick. It ran from the courtyard northwards, pacing the edge of the street for at least a block until the street cornered to the left. Southwards, the wall ended in a large archway, opening onto some greenery. A path on the other side of the walls lead north through the trees along the hilly banks of the river. The path soon curves and slopes downwards, meeting the river’s edge, water lapping peacefully.
If you continue south from the courtyard, passing the archway and enticing path by, You pass by some small rooms of the complex built into the south side of the courtyard. This part of the complex rises at least two floors above the courtyard and attaches to the southeast edge of the church, continuing along the south side of the church.
Past this narrow wing, you face directly to the south, where another, slightly wider wing of the complex has windows out onto the park on the east side, and windows out on to a small lane running north-south on the west side. The small lane is bordered on the other side by a canal.
Another courtyard of sorts faces you as you turn west. On this little section of land are several small outbuildings. The one on the right, closest to the narrow wing, is for the church building.
Behind the sheds the water of the canal laps peacefully.
- Back to Sifa and Peter (2/22/2016)
Now that my short story is submitted, I’m back to development on my novel about Sifa and Peter. I had already written the core scenes, so my next pass through will be adding more of the settings for each scene. I also need to develop some secondary characters in the story. Sifa’s mother may have a story more predominant than I thought.
- Sifa and Peter: A Novel (2/20/2016)
Currently in development is a novel about family, tragedies, and falling in love. It’s about coming of age, about fears, about secrets. It’s about genetic defects and illness. It’s about love and happiness.
More about the cast of characters soon.
- Nanite Story Completed and Submitted (2/20/2016)
I’ve submitted “Out of the Blue” to a competition out of Glasgow. It’s a science fiction short story with an emphasis on medical technology. I should know by the end of next month if the story has won or has been selected for the anthology.
Here’s a small excerpt:
He inched his way over uneven terrain. The ground continued to shake as the incoming shells worked their way westward, away from the rising blood-red sun. The filters on his helm were failing; he could taste the bitter sulfur of dust on his tongue.
- Nanite Short Story Nears Completion (2/13/2016)
I’m wrapping up work on a short story for a science fiction competition. The deadline is at the end of the month, and, if all goes well, my short story may come out in an anthology the latter half of this year.
Wish me luck. Feel free to pass along any encouragement you have.