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 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.  

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