Friday, December 21, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December Madness...

I haven't gone on Blogging hiatus.. at least not permanently.

December is a very important month in our House.  Out of the 7 in our family, 3 of us have December birthdays (My oldest boy's is today, and then there's mine on the 26th, and my 3rd son's on the 27th), and my youngest's birthday is January 14th.  Plus, December is my late Mother's birthday, couple of my niece's birthdays, my nephew, Father in Law.. and then there's that pesky Christmas thing...

.. so from about the 2nd week of December until Mid January.. we're busy.

So.. I'll be back with a vengeance in January.

Merry Christmas to all my friends.. and Happy New Years while you're at it.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Review: Cragbridge Hall, Book 1: The Inventor's Secret


Cragbridge Hall, Book 1: The Inventor's Secret
Cragbridge Hall, Book 1: The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC of Cragbridge Hall, The Inventor's Secret. First off.. loved it, and more importantly, my 9 year old, reading averse son. loved it.

Love books that can combine learning with good storyline/plot, and Chad Morris pulls it off in a big way with this book. Storyline is inventive and not cookie cutter like some MG books tend to be. Characters are not only entertaining, but relatable. My son could name friends at school or in our family that matched up with everyone in the story.. having a book that's relatable is big for a kid that isn't that into reading.

No spoilers from me, but I will add that there were some incredible facts in the book that must have cost the author hours of research time to get right. Impressive in scope and detail.

Nice thing is that despite my son loving it, main character is very strong female character, so girls will love her struggles as boys latch onto action and cool gadgets and brother character.

All in all, a home-run debut for Chad Morris. When we finished the book, my son asked me if we can get an advance copy of the second book already. That should tell you all you need to know!



View all my reviews

Friday, December 7, 2012

Darn Gray Mafia... (Anagram Friday)



And.. it's back.  Anagram Friday.  The only day of the week when it's OK to both Sleep In and Pen Lies. (anagrams)

So.. this week, instead of book titles, I thought we'd shake things up and have some fun with some of my Blogger friends.. since it's their success that puts the burr under my saddle.

So, without further ado..



I have to admit.. that sorta sounds cool. There were  may sorta fun one's to pick from David's list.. "Paved Word Skiing" seemed apropos.. and I almost went with "Dread Pigskin Vow", but come on.. Dark Void Spewing is just seriously awesome.  It makes me hesitant to try my own, simply because it will never be that dark and scary.. David's a Dark Void.. and my own will probably be "Rainbow Sprouting Flowers."  Not nearly manly enough...


Morgan, I just have to tell you, your anagrams were hilarious.. HILARIOUS.  Lots of Angry Gramma's and other funny, less appropriate words that will remain nameless.  However, I thought that, given your status as Mommy to a bunch of rugrat aged children.. the "Ha, Mom's Angry!" exclamation would fit best.


Of all the anagrams for this week, Mars Orchid is probably the coolest one for the title of a Book.. not that Chad needs it given his book releasing in mere months.  I thought about doing "Future Bestselling Author", but I couldn't get the "L's" to work.


Sorry Shelly.. your name just doesn't have enough letters for something great, like David's.. Not sure if you're actually shy or not.. my guess is not really, but I did pick that over "By Hell Sworn".. I didn't think anyone as nice as you are could be Hell Sworn.


And now, because what's good for the goose and all that..
  • Kevin Hiatt
    • becomes...
      • Haven Kitti
See.. I told ya. I stinking told ya.. I knew it would be something like that.  David's a Dark Void and I'm a stupid, obviously illiterate, baby cat.



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

ARC Day!!

Just got an ARC of Cragbridge Hall: The Inventor's Secret.. now I can finally tell my son, who has been asking me every day after school, "Did the book get here today?"..

"YES!! The Book got here today!"

So far.. 1 chapter in.. (sneaking a read while the kids are eating lunch).. I'm already hooked!  I think I might wait to tell him the book arrived for a couple of days.

Mwuhahaha!

Big shout-out to Chad Morris.. thanks for the ARC!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday's Keister Kick.. (Stomach Flu)



So what's kicking my keister this week?

Stomach Flu.

This weekend all 5 of our kids, and my wife, were stricken with the bug. Somehow I escaped unscathed.. but all of my weekend work and chores got pushed back as we dealt with the uprising.. (pun intended).

So.. this week will start out slowly as we build back to a fairly normal status.

So..keep your distance, and make sure you wash your hands after reading this blog.

*cough*




Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Bags Are Already Packed...



And.. registration for the 2013 LDStorymakers is done.  :)

I'll fly in on Wednesday, be in in the Boot Camp on Thursday and the 2 day conference on Friday and Saturday, and fly back out home on Sunday. Without a doubt the longest I'll have been away from my kids since my first job as a Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Valley County, Idaho. (I lived in Cascade Idaho during the week, went home on weekends to Boise for just under a year.)

Now to put it on my calendar and check off the days of my countdown.

Go me!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday's Keister Kick: Goals. Set Them, Live Them, Love Them.



So.. after a week off from blogging to spend some great time with the family.. (who knew, I have 5 kids now), it's time to get back on things.. and what better way to get back into the groove than to get some goals out there.

I know we all like to talk about setting goals, we set them, we post them in our blogs, we tweet about them, sometimes we even write them on paper and tack them to our wall or tape them to our mirror.. we do all this great stuff with our goals.

... except WORK THEM.

At least.. that's me. Probably not you. I realize that while I may not have come to embody all that is depressing about the human condition, I DO have a problem with procrastination.  Why do Today what can be put off until Tomorrow, or next week, or next year.. or never.

Working a goal isn't hard, there are tons of great catch phrases to latch onto.. "Plan your work and work your plan!".. "If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up someplace else.".. "Life is not a matter of chance, it's a matter of choice."

I love all of those, they sound great, they pump you up and put a fire in your eye.. but the problem is.. they're just words, not actual fuel for your fire. Your fire has to come from within.. the fuel has to be in you. You can't borrow it from someone else, if you could, we'd all be rich and successful and look like Gap Models..

.. but most of us don't.  Beginning is easy.. and Finishing is unlike any other experience.. it's the middle part that's hard.  The part that drags on day after day.. the part that requires discipline, and work. The part that is never glorified in movies.  If I could montage my writing process like a Rocky Movie.. I'd have novels that would kick Ivan Drago's butt..


.. unfortunately, however, my montage seems to take months, and I seem to lose focus after a couple of weeks.

So what kicks your butt into shape?  What is it that makes you get up and go after the emotion of the beginning has waned?  What gets you on that treadmill, or in front of your keyboard tapping away?

I'm about a month into my latest bit of goal chasing, and luckily I've got my wife to keep me going. I'm working out at 5am most mornings, and then coming into my office to keep my writing going.

For me right now, thinking of having something polished to pitch at LDStorymakers is very motivating.

So.. what's kicking your Keister these days?



Thursday, November 22, 2012

What time is it?



It is squarely on Retrieve'O-Thirty here in my house... I'm starting a new hardcore bout of writing freshly at LotsaCaffeine-O-Clock in the morning.

Till then.. ask yourself this: Does Killing Time Damage Eternity?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Farmyard Again (Anagram Friday)



So.. we've reached the end of yet another week.  It's time to have a little fun. This week will be a short one because I'm trying to get my NaNo numbers up closer to where they're supposed to be.

So.. for this week, a quick lesson in love.  We're going to have some fun with Romance Novels.

Our list this week is from none other than my wife's favorite author.. Jane Austin.  I swear, every Sunday in our house is Pride and Prejudice day.. but lately she's taken to watching North and South (not the Civil War movie but something that smells a lot like Pride and Prejudice) on Netflix or Amazon Video.

So.. in honor of her undying love of all things English and Poofy.. our Anagram's for the week.


  • Pride and Prejudice
    • becomes...
      •  Drip Acid Under Jeep
I think this works because, to most men, having to watch Pride and Prejudice, time after time after time after time would be akin to being stuck under an acid dripping Jeep.

  • Sense and Sensibility
    • becomes... 
      • As Beds Ninety Sins Lie
90 sins and a bed.. OK.. I'm not really gonna touch this one, so.. umm.. moving on.

  • Mansfield Park
    • becomes...
      • Impaled Franks
The great think about this one.. is that without any question, any red blooded male would much rather be camping somewhere, holding some Impaled Franks over a fire than being forced to read or watch, (if such a horror has ever been put on cellophane), this monstrosity of estrogen and salty tears.

  • Northanger Abbey
    • becomes...
      • Enrage Rant Hobby
Honestly, I had to pick this one, because.. while there were dozens to choose from, most were surprisingly inappropriate for a family style blog like this.  Huh.. and with romance novels. Go figure.  ;)




Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday's Writing Rhetoric: Do It On Purpose




So.. with NaNoWriMo being nearly half over.. it might be a good time to discuss just how you accomplish your goal of actually writing a novel.

With some new writers, (Mostly myself), NaNoWriMo may be enough to get you started down the path to finishing that novel that's been bouncing around in your head for years.. but once the excitement of NaNo wears off, after about 10 days, (at least it was 10 days for me), it can become harder to keep the momentum going, and you find your word count becoming a little more stagnant than you'd like.

So.. how do you keep it going?

There's always BICHOK.. (Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard).. but catchy acronyms won't actually help you when it's crunch time.  (Again, speaking for myself).. so what will?  Well, after looking around the web, and reading notes I took at LTUE and LDStorymakers last year, I've come upon a list of things you can do to help yourself keep going.


  1. WRITING TIME:  Have a specific time of the day when you write. For some it's at night after the kids are in bed, for others's it's during Junior's naptime.. for some it's bright and early in the morning.  I've found that for me, I need to get it done first thing in the morning..in fact BEFORE my usual wake-up time.  I'm used to getting up around 6:45-7am or so, or at least I have been. But I've recently found that I am fresher, and more in tune with my story if I get up earlier, around 5am, get in a quick 20-30 minute cardio session on the treadmill, (or running outside or whatever gets your blood moving), and then getting in a good hour or two to write.  IF you haven't, set a time each day when it's 'your time'.. experiment with different times if you have to.. but find your time, and then claim it.  OWN IT.  Let everyone know that it is 'your time' and close the door.  Stephen King, in his phenomenal 'On Writing' says that you're not a writer until you can close your door.  So do it. Claim your time and close your door. If you don't have a physical door.. then just make it know that from X until X.. you are indisposed.
     
  2. WRITING PLACE: Some people like to write all over their homes. I've read interviews where Brandon Sanderson says he writes in different rooms of his house, just wherever the mood strikes him.  If that works for you.. all the better. But for me, I need a place, my fortress of solitude.  My Sanctuary.  I have an office, it's a bedroom that nobody was using.  I claimed it as my 'Office'.. put in a cheap-o IKEA $30.00 desk, put my desktop computer in there, along with a corkboard for outlining (scenes on post-it notes on the corkboard), and that's my 'I'm a real writer' area.  When I'm there, and I close the door.. I'm all about writing.  If you dont' have that, find a corner somewhere, or a spot at your kitchen table.. just find somewhere and make it your 'happy place'.  If Stephen King can write in the laundry room using a old fashioned typewriter with a small 1st grader's desk balanced on his knees.. you can find something that will work for you.
     
  3. WRITING JOURNAL:  You don't have to recap what you wrote, in fact that would be sort of stupid really, "The night was long".. "Today I wrote that the night was long".. waste of time. What I mean is.. keep a log of what time you write, how long you wrote for, the word count, and your feelings.  Did you struggle? Was it too loud? Is there a certain part of the story you need to rethink?  Whatever you're experiencing.. write it down. Doesn't have to be very long or flowery.. it's not for others to read, it's for you to review, to see what works, what didn't, and what you struggled with, so next time you write you can do it better, with more favorable results, or at least less distractions.
     
  4.  TAKE NOTES:  Sounds like the journal, only here, what I mean is.. take a small notepad with you and have one by your bed. That way, when an idea strikes you, you can jot it down. Doesn't matter if it's ridiculous, or when you wake up you shake your head in embarrassment that the thought of a Nuclear waste altered super squirrel saving the City of New York.. just write it down with enough detail so you'll know what you're talking about. Same when you're out and about. Can't tell you how many times I've been away from home and computer, had a thought strike me, and then when I get home I try to remember what it was and it's gone.  Probably wasn't a best seller idea.. but it was worth thinking about.  So take a notebook with you, and write your ideas down.  It's worth it.
     
  5. DECIDE: At the end of the day, whether you wrote anything that day, or whether you failed to even open your document, are both your decision. Nobody can do it for you, all the slogans in the world won't matter if you don't make the choice to do it. Success is there for the taking, maybe not JK Rowling level success, but some level of success.. even if it is nothing more than accomplishing your goal of actually writing a beginning, middle, and ending of a book.  You can achieve that goal.. or not. But whatever you do, it will be because of your own, conscious choice.  So, quit reading this and decide to do it.  Dolly Parton may not be known as an American Philosopher  but maybe she should be. She has some of the best, most down home advice I've ever read. My favorite quote of hers is, "Find out who you are, and do it on purpose."  Tell me that's not profound.
So that is my advice on how to keep the momentum. Find a place and a time to write, keep track of your work and ideas as they come.. and then decide who you want to be.. and do it on purpose.





Monday, November 12, 2012

The Secret of Writing a Best Seller.. Revealed!!



Now that you've got everything you need to know.. get out there and get your maid!!

(* I am SOOO looking forward to LDStorymakers 2013)

Monday's Keister Kick (I'm kicking my A**.. Do you Mind?)



Have you ever felt like this?


This is me today.. heck, I'm even an attorney.  I've been kicking my butt all weekend long.

So, we're here on Monday again, always seems to come along when you least expect it. Last week I was killing it on NaNoWriMo, and then one little stupid thing set me into a tailspin and I struggled all weekend.

The stupid thing.. a teeny tiny little revision.  I have a character in my WIP that's supposed to be the humorous sidekick.. but for some reason when I was writing, he ended up being a Middle Aged English Gentleman from the 18th Century.

Let me rephrase that.. I wrote about 5000 words with some middle aged old guy with a horrible accent into my WIP for no reason other than.. "Ooops."

So, thinking it was no big deal I decided to alter his appearance and change a couple of lines of dialogue to 'fix' my error.  Problem is.. once I started in with that, 10 dozen other 'little fixes' jumped into the picture and I was left just staring at them wondering if I just needed to blow the dang thing up and start from scratch..

.. again.

It's baffling to me how 1) I lost such tremendous focus on who my characters are, and 2) That one little thing seems to give me license to just question everything I've worked for and all the thoughts and plans I've obsessed over for months and months.

So.. if you wanna know what's kicking my Keister right now.. it's my own feelings of inadequacy and doubt.

I KNOW the fix.. I know that I need to just ignore it and keep writing. I know all of it, I've written them and said them dozens of times to myself over just this past weekend alone.. but this isn't a cliche' and it's not insurmountable block.

This is a decision.  All I have to do is make the decision to write, and I write.  It's that simple. All the BS, all the doubt and insecurity evaporates in the exact moment of creation.  On Thursday of last week I was on Cloud 9.. I was in a long wave of creation and it was great. I LOVED my scenes, my characters were speaking to me directly.  Then 2 days later they're lying flat on my page, lifeless.

So that's where I am today, and what's kicking my Keister.. but on the bright side, there is this....


Friday, November 9, 2012

Rad Angry Mafia.. (Anagram Friday)



So this week, in honor of November being National Novel Writing Month, (NaNoWriMo), I thought we could have some fun with the titles of books that actually first started out as NaNoWriMo projects.

Luckily.. Mental Floss writing blog was kind enough to put together a list of 11 now published novels that all started out as NaNoWriMo stories that eventually.. worked out.

The first is Erin Morgenstern's 'The Night Circus. I haven't read this, but actually heard very good things about.. so it's on my 'to read' list, once I find time from my own NaNoWriMo projects of course.



Just what every female author needs, to keep your hair out of the ink well, or keep your hair out of your face as you're riding your pony around Canterwood Estates.. oh look at what our next book is....


Next is Jessica Burkhart's 'Take the reins.. the first in a popular preteen series, Canterwood Crest.

Actually quite apropos for a preteen series focused on girls.. these books are popular because of their heat, their risk, and the teen girls that populate them.  Maybe I need to anagram up 'Popular Boy Wizards Not Named Harry' for the title of my future breakout story.  :)


Finally, the last book title comes from Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, and her story of a teenager who suffers from an alter ego that just might be a Vampire that is thousands of year old.  The book is...
OK.. now seriously, how much more spooky does it get than that? Book about someone who has an alter ego that might be a very, very old Vampire.. and the anagram is of frequent creepy memories?

I think this Anagram thing might actually be onto something.. 





Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Writing Rhetoric.. (What it's all about?)




So.. I've been reading Stephen King's "On Writing" again, and I came to an interesting passage today. Right at the very end of his actual 'writing' section, before he start talking about rewrites and editing, he says something that's fairly profound.

I'll paraphrase since my book is downstairs and I'm too lazy to go get it.  Essentially it's:
Nearly 50 books and still going.
At some point, preferably during your first draft, but especially in your second, you need to reach the point where you ask yourself, 'What is this story about, just what am I really writing about?' Are you writing about how the evils of mankind's devotion to technology have led us astray? (The Stand), or are you writing about man's inherent attraction to things that are dark, (The Shining), or are you writing about the cruelty that we inflict on each other? (Carrie)  
You need to ask this by at least the start of the rewrite of your first draft, but if you can identify it while writing the first draft, then all the better for you.
Now, King does go on to say that your first focus MUST be.. the story. Not very many good books have been written that were all idealistic theme and no story.. and any writer that sets out to write with an ideal in mind but no story will probably be wasting their time.. but I found it interesting that once we get our story out, we need to look deeper, into the heart of the story.

Doesn't matter if you're writing a moralistic tale of a young man's fight against insurmountable odds where he learns that the most powerful magic is love? (Harry Potter), or if your focus is a young girl's struggle to keep her family and friends safe against a tyrannical Post-Apocalyptic Government that pits community against community (Hunger Games).. your story needs depth if you want it to resonate with people.

So, when you reach a point where your story starts to feel flat, or you lose focus, or if it's just writer's block.. follow the King, and ask yourself, "Just what the heck am I writing anyway?"

Random Thought of the Day:  What does a fish do for the hour after they eat?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday's Keister Kick, (One Day at a Time)




Writing an entire book seems so daunting right now because I've never done it.. but Law School looked impossible to me, the Bar Exam was beyond my reach as well.. and actually practicing as an Attorney.. a pipe dream.  All were just things I wanted to do at some point in the future, but they were impossible for me to accomplish.

My Law Building, good Ole' Menard
So I didn't do them, or at least not all at once.  I just focused on the little things I need to do each day. I didn't pass the Bar Exam on one day.. I just went to school. I didn't practice as an Attorney on 'Tuesday'.. I just read my text and did some homework. As corny as it sounds, little by little I achieved each milestone simply by doing the small things I needed to accomplish that day, without even looking at the big thing.  

Sure there were day when I did look at the big thing, it both motivated me and scared me. I was a small town kid, grew up on a farm 10 miles outside of a town with 2200 people in it.  I could never graduate from Law School and pass the Bar Exam.. but I could.. read this text, and go to school for the day, and take notes, and just do the little things that this day required.  

Once I did my daily stuff long enough, I had graduated from College.  No big deal.. it wasn't even hard.  You just had to keep your head down and work. I'd been doing that all my life.  Law School was a different matter, I couldn't do that.. but I could just go to class and listen and take notes and read.. that wasn't beyond me.  

So I did that for about 3.5 years and suddenly I was finished with my last Final Exam of Law School.. not only a graduate, but a member of the Deans List and the International Law School Honors Fraternity.  Again, not a big deal.. if I can do it, anybody can do it. The practice of Law is a little different, you've got to just trust the work you've done and take the plunge, but once you've put in the work.. it's more exciting than it is scary.

But writing a book, on the other hand.. it's impossible.  I can't do that.

Funny how I know the routine, but even now I struggle to implement it.  I've just got to do the small daily tasks, and the rest will fall into place. 

I know it.. I know I know it.  Now YOU know I know it.. so I've just got to do it.  

So.. I WILL do it.  Now.  



Friday, November 2, 2012

A Fairy Grandma... (Anagram Friday)



So.. this week we've reordered things a little here in Graphophobia.. things seem to make more sense if we put the fun post at the end of the week.. that's when most of us are fried anyway.  Plus the kick posts make more sense on Monday.. instead of a look back, it can serve to inspire for the upcoming week.

So that's why things changed a little here.. but enough of the dry stuff, lets get to microwaving book titles.

This week, with a hat-tip to Frankenstorm that hit the East Coast this week and knocked out power, and just generally caused some pretty bad stuff, we'll look at Book Titles that pertain to storms.


OK.. a bit of a stretch, but Clancy's early work was fairly grim in it's portrayal of forces working against the USA and how our super secret soldiers dealt with it.. and you had to sort of be a Techno-nerd to understand all of the Military armament.  Meh.. like I said, a stetch. But still a fun book for my 22 yo self.


Actually this is very relevant if you've read the series because of the Horn of Valere that calls Heroes that are linked to it, the Heroes of the Horn.  These Heroes are reborn throughout the ages at the call of the horn.  It is believed to be a major plot element in the final book.


Not too bad, if you've read any of the books you know that one of the central themes is Ice, Cold, Snow.. so Frost could refer to Jon Snow, or it could also refer to the White Walkers.. or.. man, I need to go reread the books because just talking about the White Walkers is making me wanna relive it.  Come on HBO.. GET THE 3RD SEASON OUT ALREADY!!


Not sure if you can forment Cherries to make Stout.. you can ferment them.. but just warming them probably wouldn't create it, but you can certainly warm Cherry Stout and read a Stephen King book.. might make the ending more palatable, but that's my own criticism.  Stephen King is the master of the first 3/4ths of a book.. he just needs help with some of his endings.

Maybe some formented cherry stout would help.  








Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Writing Rhetoric.. (Strength to say "Hunk oo")



Confession time.  I'm a full time stay-at-home father. 

I know most of you know this already.. it's not a secret.  It's not that I'm some deadbeat Dad (not totally), I am edumakated.. and I'm licensed to practice law in the State of Idaho.. but unfortunately for my legal career I am not located IN the State of Idaho currently.

I'm about as far away as you can get from Idaho and still be in the contiguous 48 State. I live in Virginia for the moment while my wife is pursuing her PhD with aims of Professorship.  So, for the time being, I get to play Mr. Mom, which has been tremendously awesome.

One of the best things about being home is I get to spend my days with my youngest.  This is him------->
.. a chip off the old block, I was the youngest in my family, and now I understand why my siblings all complained that I got away with murder and got everything that I wanted.  It's true, there's just something about the youngest.

He's a great kid, super smart, with personality just oozing out of every pore.  He's the star of every dinner, every quiet night.. he steals the spotlight from every situation.  He's a a born ham.. like I said, chip off the ole' block.

Lately he's been starting to talk more and more.. he's smart as a whip, and will say "Hunk oo" when you give him something and 'Melcome" when you tell him "thanks."  However, I'm pretty sure he has no idea what those words actually mean.. he just knows that it is what everybody else says, so he mimics them.

My wife's education is actually in this very field, (Speech Language Pathology), and I've learned, (probably from osmosis cause I sure haven't tried to understand it much), that this is the proper speech technique. We learn by mimicking those who are around us who are successful and building up on that.  Seems pretty obvious, huh?

I thought of this last night when he thanked me for pouring him a drink of milk. I said, "You're welcome" and then the thought hit me as he pranced off to play with his brothers..
"He doesn't even know what he's doing when he says that, but he does it religiously because it's what was taught to him by those he trusts and admires, and we teach it because it worked for us . As long as he gets positive feedback from his attempts, he'll keep learning until he progresses to our level."
Then that got me to thinking.. 
"Wow, that's just like me with my writing. I quite often feel like I don't know what I'm doing.. but I follow the instructions and advice of those who have gone before me and who have had success.  My feedback has been generally positive so.. since it worked for them, it will probably work for me.. so I keep plugging along in the hopes of reaching their relative level."
I know I can't literally follow the exact procedure that authors like Brandon Mull, or James Dashner, or J.Scott Savage.  But I can use their example to model the steps that I do take, and I can use the advice that they so freely and supportively give in writing conferences or on their blogs. (And in fact I will soon, in an upcoming blog post)

Just like how my son learns slowly, through repetition and constant practice.. that's how we, as writers, learn as well.. or at least how I learn. I learn something new, either through lessons from those who know more than me, or feedback from those I trust, and then I learn to adopt it through repetition and practice.

Funny how that is, the things that come naturally to us as a child are the same things that teach us who to achieve our goals later in life.

I've implemented this into my own agenda, and I'm 'hopefully confident' I"ll see results.  And then.. when I land my agent and my first publishing deal in the near future I can write all those who helped me a nice note and tell them all, from the bottom of my heart, "Hunk oo!"




Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday's Keister Kick... NaNoWriMo or Ant Farming




So what's motivating me this week?

Easy.  NaNoWriMo is coming.,. it's like the old man, chewing on a stalk of wheat, sitting on a porch rocking in his chair.. "Ya'll ain't from round these parts.. are ya?  Best make yo peace with Gawd or be on yer way.. there's a storm abrewin.. figures to be a big un. Like to swallow you up."

This will be my first official NaNoWriMo.. and I'm counting on it to be the thing that powers me through my current obstacle of 10,000 words.  I know that might seem like too much emphasis on some outside source for an internal block, but honestly.. when I'm left alone to my own devices, the desire to self-edit is like an itch I can't scratch. It starts out slow enough, but builds until it is literally keeping me up at night.  So I take a couple days off, clear my head.. get away from it.  Then, when I come back, I tell myself, I just need to get my bearings, make sure what I'm writing now matches up with what I wrote then.  So I read a little, change one little thing maybe.. just a phrase here, add a paragraph there.. before I know it I've totally second guessed what I wrote, and I'm back down to trying to get a general feeling for where I was headed in the first place.

Usually by this time I'm so disgusted with my written 'voice' that I trash it and start anew.  I must have started a dozen or so different stories in the past year, some a variation on a general idea that I really like.. some entirely new.  None have survived much past 10,000 words.

What I'm gearing up for, and working towards is just the emphasis on going past, getting in my words each day without looking back.

I probably sound like I'm putting all my eggs in this NoNo basket, but I really don't look at this as the 'fix'.. merely a strict routine that I haven't tried. This has to come from inside me, I know that.. but if I can just get past this self-imposed block.. once I know I can go past it, that it won't have this hold over me.

James Dashner, author of the NYTimes Best Selling series 'Maze Runner', and 13th Reality series, and 'A Mutiny in Time' wrote the following back in 2007 (This was BEFORE he had even sold Maze Runner, back when it was still a draft that was rejected by multiple publishers/agents and he'd put it in his closet!)
Write a novel from beginning to end. I mean it. I don't care if it's the worst book in history, write a beginning, a middle, and an ending, and everything in between. You won't believe the magical power that will come over you once you've accomplished this task. Is it easy? No. Will it win the National Book Award? Probably not. Do I hate when people ask rhetorical questions over and over? Yes.

If you write and finish a complete book, you will suddenly find it much easier to do the next one. It's like a marathon, I suppose, though I've never done it. (Though I did come in 12th place in my neighborhood 5k. Yah, that's right.) I imagine the first marathon is brutal and full of wanna-give-ups. But once you KNOW you can do it, the 2nd time around becomes much easier. I'm guessing.

It took me 3 years to write my first book. The second one, 9 months. My last one, 7 weeks. I'm talking first drafts, here.

Write a complete book. If it's pretty decent, rewrite and rework. If it stinks, trash it and start another one.

This is what I'm looking for.. the 'magical power that will come once I've accomplished this task.

Hey, he never defined 'Magical Power'. 








Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Damage A Nerdy Swan*... (Anagram Wednesday)




So, another week has come and gone and here we are at Anagram Wednesday. This week, I thought we'd take a run at some Classic Fantasy Books because.. hey, they're there. 

Well, ok this Swan is a little nerdy,
I mean, look at that neck.
(*And yes, the title of this post is indeed an anagram for "Anagram Wednesday".. I actually find swans anything but nerdy.)

So, to start off with.. lets decide on some Classic Fantasy books.  Obviously we're going to include "The Lord of the Rings" and "A Song of Ice and Fire" but after those,...?

I think that 'classic' can include some more contemporary stories as well, for example I think Harry Potter is a classic, but we just did Poor Harry last week.. so to change things up we'll throw in a couple more.  

I'm thinking..  "The Wheel of Time", "Name of the Wind", and "The Way of Kings".

So.. without further ado.. lets mangle some Classic Literature.



  • The Lord Of The Rings
    • Becomes... OK.. this one is just tremendous. There are so many great one's to pick, but the best has to be..
      • Shortened For Light
I mean.. come on.. Hobbits, fighting against the Evil Sauron.. spooky how that is.

Not bad.. there is definitely defiance, and while there is lots and lots of sin.. at the end a sin is foregone that could have saved a prominent character.  Not bad at all...

Again.. not bad. It does reuse "time", but it aptly fits the book.

OK, this one is just spooky. I won't give spoilers, but Kvothe is trying to Defeat 'them'.. and he owns an Inn and retells the story in that Inn.. and he doesn't know How to defeat them.. I like this one.. I like this one a lot.  Plus, it's just such a tremendous book, probably my favorite on this list.

Not too sure about this one.. there's lots of fighting so naturally there's lots of noise.. but not much Gawking. Pretty sure a person who Gawks would die. Course.. the magic used during the fights does create Gawking.. so .. 


.. tis but a flesh wound.
meh, we'll call it a draw.



The final thought for today... When they ship styrofoam, what do they pack it in?











Monday, October 22, 2012

Writing Rhetoric.. (You suck.. and that's OK)



So I had an idea for a new feature for the blog.. I spend a lot of my time looking at other, successful writers, looking at how they did it.. at what they struggled with when they were newbies like me, and more importantly, how they overcame it.  So.. I thought.. Why not share that with other aspiring authors?

So here goes.

Since this is the first 'Writing Rhetoric', I figured.. why not start at the beginning, the very process of starting to write.

Obviously the first step is to sit down at your computer, (or stand if you prefer typing on your kitchen counter like Kiersten White), and put characters that, when grouped together, form coherent words that, when grouped together, form coherent sentences that, when grouped together, form a narrative of something interesting.. all on a previously blank page.

However, if you're like me you sometimes experience a moment when knowing the above does nothing to aid in the actual performance of the above.

So.. I direct your attention to the following quotes, notes, and advice.

"Often, your prose won't seem like it comes from a masterpiece, at times you'll hate it, wondering.. "What on earth made me think I could become an author? My writing stinks!" Listen: the easiest way to fight procrastination is to sit on that chair and start writing one word followed by another. Repeat this procedure until you have at least a few sentences and you will find that you feel better. It's having to sit down, face the blank page and write those first few words that kills you. Then the rest gets easier." -- (Author unknown.. I found that on a blog I read, LOVED IT, copied it and printed it out to tack to my wall.. and forgot to include the author's name, I believe it is J.Scott Savage, but I may be mistaken, but nonetheless, the truth of it remains the same.)

"At first, everything I wrote sounded wooden. It wasn't until I was really warmed up, sometime in the middle of the novel, that things started to flow."  (Laura Bingham, author of Alvor and Wings of Light.)

"Write a novel from beginning to end. I mean it. I don't care if it's the worst book in history, write a beginning, a middle, and an ending, and everything in between.... I do not edit as I go. Never, never, never. I write the whole thing in one long burst of creativity, not worrying about how good or how cruddy the writing may be." (James Dashner, author of Maze Runner, 13th Reality)

So.. essentially, your just need to write the first draft knowing that it is probably going to suck at the beginning of your writing process, and then it's going to suck once it's all done.. but that's normal and OK and in fact.. the way it's been proven to work for countless successful writers out there.

Writing, it seems, is a series of stages of suckiness, from the opening 'ultra super mega suck' to 'really bad suck', to 'just plain ole' sucks' to 'not so much suck' to hopefully 'hardly any suckiness can be found.'

Now that we know, we can be fearless to go out there and not be scared to suck!

So.. hey there dear reader.. here's hoping that you suck as much as I do, and that some day very soon we can look at each other and say, with great affection and respect.. "You Suck!"

Ain't it great?






Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday's Keister Kick



So.. with KEISTER in full swing there's a couple of things that are helping to keep me motivated this week.

The first.. while I may not have found out until later this week.. I DID find out that one of my blogger buds, Morgan Shammy, was offered representation by Karen Grencik of the Red Fox Literary Agency.. so Morgan landed herself an agent.

Morgan has 'only' shopped 3 manuscripts.. so for those of us still struggling to throw one together, it IS possible to land an agent.. you simply need to keep plugging along with what you're doing.

Of course, it doesn't hurt to be incredibly talented.. as Morgan is. I've read some of her flash fiction, and it's good. Really good.  It's only going to be a matter of time until she gets a publisher and things start rolling...

Congrat's Morgan!

Can't believe it's been 10 years.
The second thing that kicked my Keister this week isn't nearly as nice.  Many know that I publish a Boise State athletics website.. (http://broncocountry.com - with Fan Forum and Team/Recruiting news).. I've been doing it for 10 years now and while it will never turn into a full-time gig, it's a fun little thing that feeds my obsession with Boise State Football and Basketball.

One of my longtime members suffered a severe stroke this past week and was taken off life support yesterday and his prognosis wasn't good.  He was older than me, and a heavier than me, but it's still shocking to see someone you've interacted with often in the past just suddenly go like that.. it's sobering and more than a little chilling.

If my friend had known 5 years ago that his life clock was winding down.. would he have changed his lifestyle?  I'd like to think yes.. it would have profoundly changed his life and possibly prolonged it.

That is the type of change I'm trying to make for myself.. not that I'm scared of the same thing happening to me, although it certainly could.. but just so that I can do all I can to make sure I'm here to watch my children grow and start families of their own.

Plus.. I figure in 10 years I'll have a string of best sellers.. and I don't wanna make the world miss out on that.
:)

So.. that's what is motivating me this week.

**Random Thought of the Day** - Why isn't phonetic spelled the way it sounds?

Review: Monster Hunter Legion


Monster Hunter Legion
Monster Hunter Legion by Larry Correia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Like All MHI books, the action is outstanding, great pacing, and non stop. One thing I like about Larry Correia's books also, however, is that while his characters are a little stereotypical, they're not wooden.

It can be hard to write a sympathetic action character who.. or a hot former stripper and make her actually have a personality beyond simply adjective laden descriptions.. but Correia pulls it off amazingly well. His characters have surprising depth and they always ring true to themselves.

True, you'll never finish one of his books and suddenly feel the urge to turn your life around and dedicate yourself to altruistic endeavors.. but you will enjoy the time you spend reading it, and isn't that why you should be reading in the first place?



View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Weeny Sad Grandma* (Anagram Wednesday)



*Sigh*.. it's Wednesday.. again   That day when you've already been in this week long enough, and yet you've still got an equal amount of time ahead of you.. (feel free to softly bang your head against your desk now.)

So, in the spirit of loosening up that tie, untucking those shirt tails, and allowing yourself to breathe a little more easily.. I present.. ANAGRAM WEDNESDAY!! We're going to take the titles of some of my, (or yours if you give some suggestions), favorite books, and smash them all around in the Anagram Machine.. and see what we come  up with.


I actually adore Grandmotherly peoples...
(*And yes, the title of this post is indeed an anagram for "Anagram Wednesday".. I do not have a problem with Grandmothers in general.)

SO.. for our inaugural Anagram Wednesday, I'm choosing books that either inspired me, or that I've read recently.. or that I just love reading.

We start off with one of the most influential books of modern times.. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone:  A little magic, and it becomes...

  • A Cad Teepees Northern Horror Trysts 
Not bad actually.. There are a few Cads in the story, and definitely some Northern Horror Trysts.  Well done Mrs. Rowling. Well done indeed.

What about a more local flavor?  (Or past local at least).. Utah author Brandon Mull's uber successful Fablehaven becomes.. 
  • Behave Flan
Again.. not bad.  If you have some Flan, then it should behave.. although I think in the story itself, any Flan that would have presented itself would have ended up gobbled by the silly satrys.

Next is a piece of fictional junk food.. Larry Correia's Monster Hunter International.. it is unabashedly pulp fiction, and some of the best out there. It's not going to teach you how to be a better person.. but it *might* teach you how to save the World from otherwordly Old One's.. and it will absolutely entertain you in the process. But even MHI can't stand against the Anagram Machine as it becomes...
  • An Ethereal Moron In Runt Tints
I think Larry would get a kick out of the idea of his book being a double for an Ethereal Moron. 

And now one last one, chosen at random, from my bookshelf..  a childhood classic, and probably the first book that ever made me cry from just the story.. and in fact one of the first books that ever made me think about telling my own stories, Wilson Rawls classic, "Where the Red Fern Grows", becomes... 
  • Refreshed Renew Growth
Wow.. ironic that such a beautiful story of childhood love and devotion would conjure words of hope.  

And with that.. I've found my fitting ending.






Cover Reveal..

The ever clever and funny Chad Morris is giving a peak at the cover for his upcoming release from Shadow Mountain Publishing, due out Spring 2013..

Check out the cover of the next Fablehaven.. and give Chad a huge 'Congrat's'!

Writing with Shelly and Chad..







Monday, October 1, 2012

Most Wonderful Time... Of The Year!

This road is about a 15 min. drive from my house.
Huzzah for the Shenandoah Valley!!
It's officially Fall.

Yes, I know it's been fall for a couple of weeks, but October is my unofficial 'Official' start to Fall.  My absolute favorite time of the year!

First off, October 1st is my lovely wife's birthday.. which is a GREAT way to celebrate the start of Fall.  We 'sorta' celebrated yesterday.. but I'm going to surprise her tonight with some Birthday Cake and a sappy card.. chicks dig that sort of stuff.  ;)  Her birthday present this year was a new laptop computer for her new School curriculum.. (My wife is pursuing her PhD in Communication and Swallowing Disorders).

That's enough to love Fall right there.. but then after a hot, (and for us, humid) summer.. the temperatures are finally dipping down. I'm the sort of person who LOVES sleeping in a cold room/bed.  I would leave the windows open all winter if my wife would allow it, curse her hot Hawaiian blood.. so while she sleeps with a sheet and 2 blankets, I have just the sheet and an old Blanket my Mom made from some Grade School curtains about 40 years ago. I LOVE my curtain comforter.. it's so heavy.. it's like sleeping with a sidewalk pulled up over me. Absolutely perfect for me.

Plus, the most beautiful part of the Fall is of course.. the leaves changing colors.  I have always been blown away by the varied colors of foliage... and I'm hoping that we get treated to a spectacular show here in the Shenandoah Valley.

Then.. COLLEGE FOOTBALL!  My passion, beyond writing, is College Football. I'm a HUGE Boise State fanatic, (I've got 2 undergrad degrees from there), so every Saturday, (or night of the week if that's the case), I can be found planted in front of the TV for about 3 hours while the Broncos are playing.  It's so fun when my kids come in and ask 'which team is Boise State'. even if they're not playing, they all know who we root for in this house.  :)

Then.. there's the promise of what lies ahead.  Halloween, now that I've got kids in the 4-10 age range, is just an absolute blast.  I never had so much fun when I was a kid. From costume planning and creation to mapping out our course, to the buildup of finally getting to eat some of their candy.. Halloween is far better as a Parent than it ever was as a kid, at least for me. Course, when you live 10 miles outside of a town of 2000 people, the chances of knocking on doors and finding candy is slim at best. Milk.. sure. Lots of raw milk.. but candy? Not so much.  Then, right after Halloween it's Thanksgiving.. the Universal day of overeating delicious food. The best part of Thanksgiving..?  The Leftovers!  I can eat little butter roll sandwiches with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry jelly for weeks and never get sick of it.  And then.. the Granddaddy of all Holidays.. Christmas.  In our family it takes on even more special meaning because of all the Birthdays around Christmas, 3 kids born around Christmas. April Anniversary.. do the math ;)

 Today is the start of the best time of the year in the Hiatt Household, so join me in pouring some hot spiced cider, grab a book and a blankey, and go sit on your deck and get in some reading while the kids play in the back yard.  *Tis the season.
A shot of our backyard from the deck.. we live right in town just minutes from campus..
 the house is older but easily big enough for our brood, and the lot is huge with incredible views!




Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Time for a kick in the KEISTER

I seem to go through spurts in life.. I'm sure we all do.  We ride along for a while until we get dissatisfied with what we're doing.. with how we perceive ourselves to be.. with what we feel our life direction is.

I've been in a post-moving funk for about a month now.. interestingly enough that coincides with when we finished our move, funny how that all matches up.

Anyway.. so I've been in a funk for a bit, wanting to write.. getting the itch, the stirrings.. but lacking the direction and simply the ooomph.  So.. a couple weeks ago I'm reading my facebook and I see a post from an author I follow who talks about how around 10 years ago he was in the final stages of a huge life altering event.. moving from one part of the Country to another and changing careers from what he'd done for the past 10 years to pursue his dream of writing.

It got me to thinking about my own journey.. 10 years ago I was trying to get back into the swing of law school after taking a year off while my 1 year old daughter spent nearly 9 months in the PICU awaiting open heart surgery, amongst other procedures.  My wife and daughter were in Boise, and I was 300 miles away at school. To say it was an adjustment was a huge understatement.

The changes that I've gone through since then are, in my humble estimation, equally fundamental. I've gone from Law Student, to Attorney, to Teacher, to, now, House Husband.. We've moved from Boise to Utah to now Virginia, my wife has gone from No degree to Bachelors to Masters to now pursuing her PhD.  And.. we've gone from 1 beautiful little girl, to 5 rugrats.

Yet, through it all.. the desire to write, to create, has remained constant yet unfulfilled.

Which brings me back to the point of my ramblings..

Back in May I wrote about the Definition of Insanity being doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.. pretty famous little quote, I'm sure we've all heard it.

Well, I find myself in a similar situation now. Once things get hard, or uncomfortable.. we all have a tendency to 'run home to mama'.. my own being surfing the net or playing computer/video games or reading or...

... in short, doing anything BUT writing or working out or any of the things I've promised myself I was going to do.

So, I suppose what I'm saying is that.. I'm Back.  It's time to take up the mantle of 'Kevin's Esoteric Initiative of Self-Inflicted Torture to Effectuate Results'.. or KEISTER (for short).  Essentially.. it's time for a kick in the KEISTER.

The page above will diagram more clearly my intentions.. but my goal is go go back to what initially produced results back in May.. Rising each morning at 5:00 am (curse you Morgan for introducing that aspect), I will get on the treadmill for 30 minutes, and then have 2.5 uninterrupted hours of writing that I will utilize fully and efficiently.

Goals are go have a fully realized manuscript before the end of the year, and then to have it polished enough to present at the LDStorymakers Writers Conference in May.. AND to lose 1% of my body weight per week until I reach my healthy weight goal.

So.. if I am to achieve something new and dramatic, then the change must be new and dramatic.
I'm motivated and, (believe it or not), excited to see what I can achieve by sticking to this goal.

I'll post updates as I go.





Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Yar...

Ahoy Mateys..

It be International Talk Like A Pirate day today, (September 19th).. so pull out last year's Halloween Costume a month early and let your inner Swab loose.


It's a good thing to do.. "2 Yars Up" says Steve the Pirate!


Friday, September 7, 2012

I'm Not A Peeping Tom.. Well, Not Really Anyway

OK.. I admit it.. I'm a bit of a voyeur.  An artistic Peeping Tom if you will....

Now before you turn away in disgust.. I'm not the yucky kind that creeps up in the dark and tries to look in your window.  That's just.. icky.

I'm more the 'read your blog to see what you're doing' sort of voyeur.  People publish blogs because we want people to get a glimpse into our lives.. we're inviting you into our head, saying.. "Here, walk around in this big open space between my ears for a bit.. take a look out these brown-tinted windows up front see what I see."

That's not creepy, but it is voyeuristic a bit. I can only imagine that you're here reading this because you're interested in getting a glimpse into what makes me tick.. so odds are you're a little voyeuristic as well, artistically speaking of course.

So anyway, I've been looking at the blogs of some writers that I follow.. and this past week I've been delving into their past, before they were 'authors'.. back when they were just struggling writers, sorta like me, (and probably  you, if you're reading this)..

.. and the results of my delving has been interesting.

One of the authors I've been reading backstory on is Kiersten White.  (http://kierstenwrites.blogspot.com/)

She's been on her blog since 2008, and her early stuff from back then is great.. she's hilarious, but also very real.  Her early stuff from 2008 is just great.  She's constantly writing, but she's also questioning herself, struggling to find the positives

Another author I happened upon is Natalie Whipple: (http://betweenfactandfiction.blogspot.com/)
What is nice is that Natalie and Kiersten are both friends, and they were friends during their journey from unknown writer to finding their agents.. to both getting publishing deals.

Seeing them interact when they were struggling writers is both inspiring and encouraging.. and incredibly funny as they bounce things off each other and have a hilarious interaction that you can actually watch if you read their blog posts together from month to month.  Natalie started her blog in late 2007 and Kiersten in early 2008.. so you can match up their timelines and watch both of their struggles.. as well as their banter back and forth.

This was just 4 years ago that they were going through their querying.. and numerous rejections as well. Fast-foward 4 years and Kiersten has 3 best-sellers (the Paranormalcy series) and 2 new book deals wtih Harper Teen, (one for a series).. and Natalie has 2 new series that she's sold to Harper Teen as well.. the first books of both come out in 2013.

How's that for a productive 4 years for both!?!!

A sampling of some of their posts that I've found the most relevant for me..

Natalie questioning if her writing is any good, (something I find myself doing at times as well)
http://betweenfactandfiction.blogspot.com/2008/05/writers-doubt.html

And her deciding that reading while writing is bad for her psyche,
http://betweenfactandfiction.blogspot.com/2008/01/reading-while-writing.html

I can also definitely relate to Kiersten when she laments the whole querying process,
http://kierstenwrites.blogspot.com/2008/07/querily-querily-querily-querily.html
http://kierstenwrites.blogspot.com/2008/08/five-stages-of-querying-grief.html

And I swear she was watching me when she wrote her brilliant "How to write" blog post..
http://kierstenwrites.blogspot.com/2009/01/how-to-write.html

Anyway.. these 2 have rejuvinated, entertained, tickled, and inspired me this past week.

I will occasionally read other author's blogs for advice and inspiration..

J Scott Savage has a great blog for advice, http://jscottsavage.blogspot.com/2008/02/tools-of-trade.html

But James Dashner (http://jamesdashner.blogspot.com/)  probably has the best pre-success blog posts I've read so far.. his new website still has them, and I prefer reading his old blogspot blog.. just because that's where I first read it.

He does a great job of grouping his story and advice on the fight about mid-way down the page under the headings: "How I got published", and "Past Questions and Answers".

Anyway.. since you can't write all day long, (at least I can't).. reading these blogs are infinitely more interesting, and productive (at least for me), than staring a the TV.



Guess what time of year it is.... FIRST DRAFT TIME!!!