Better to submit…

Well, for better or worse, the first submission is in.  For some reason I became roadblocked on being able to edit the story any further.  I knew there were, there are, parts that are just bad.

But, better to submit. The deadline was less than two weeks away and I knew that I was just going to procrastinate and not get any writing done. I am better for shipping it off then wasting time non-editing. Big thanks to Courtney for giving me the final kick and just send it in. She’s a Mom, gamer, writer and a member of WWP, my Monday night writing group.

Although this was just a short story, it showed me that there are many muscles to writing that I haven’t discovered yet.

Here’s the short list:

  • Just because I think that writing in second person is really cool. Doesn’t mean I can write in second person. Baby steps. First person, third person. The basics.
  • I had fun writing and researching the story. Writing is fun  and I enjoy it.
  • What ever “resistance” is, I understand that it is the enemy of the writer, more than writer’s block. In my case it impairs my writing more than lack of discipline. More on this in the coming weeks.
  • My wife is far more patient than I realized.

But why is it better to submit?

It’s better because submitting the story gets me one step closer to being a published writer. If you never submit you never get published. Part of being a writer is being published. For me, I know that I won’t get better unless I go through the whole of the process. You need all the skills of a writer to be a better writer and that includes the submission process. It means the idea, researching, outlining writing and editing phases are completed.

More importantly, it takes it out of my hands. I’m done with it. If by some miracle it gets accepted, then I will learn a whole new set of skills. Working with an editor. Which I will bore you all with.

It also forced me to write a cover letter for this anthology submission, including a short bio. One thing I have learned is that many writers, hate bio’s. Hate is not strong enough for some of them. It is a reality of being a writer in this day age. Here’s mine, feel free to laugh, I know I did.

Douglas had his first detention in kindergarten for colouring outside the lines. It was also his last. (The jury is still out if this was good or bad)

A remedial reader until the summer between Grade six and Grade seven, when his concerned parents bought him a subscription to Sports Illustrated. (Pre-Swim Suit Era thank-you very much). 

In grade seven he discovered he was an advanced reader and found Heinlein. He proceeded to devour all manners of Science Fiction and Fantasy. His selfie with Guy Gavriel Kay this past summer is one of his treasures. We all need heroes, especially in this day and age. 

An unpublished writer currently, his primary goal for this writing year are rejections for his novels “Engine Failure – Book One of the System War” and “Markaz: The First City” (Book one of the Four Magics Series). All authors he respects have rejections.

By day Douglas works in Information Systems at a Law Firm. At night he writes when his cat Jaeger allows. Unless he is playing Uber Driver for his youngest son. 

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Be Well… dcd

Submissions…

Working hard on submissions. But what does that mean for dcdear?

First I have to get the piece written and presentable to one of the two writing groups I partake in: The Western Word Slingers or We Will Publish.

The Slingers meet m20171214_193507 (2)onthly and are more of a critique group. The WWP try and meet weekly for a write-in and communicate in a free Slack group on various writing topics. Each of them have different requirements for submission that I try to follow, not always successfully.

On the January list for the Slingers in the Prologue for a Steam Punkish Space Opera which I am pretty excited about. The words came easily and flowed pretty well. This is in the submission folder.

The WWP get a short story that I am struggling with. It will be submitted to try and make it into an Anthology. I may just post the hackneyed version and get the advice from the group. It certainly isn’t completely working yet.

But overall the goal is to get three novels submitted and hopefully rejected.

Rejected? Why do you say rejected?

Every author that I have read about has received rejections before being published and so I have determined that you must be rejected before being accepted.

Given my scatter gun approach to writing I will be looking at what overlapping tasks I can do to make the submission process smoother. Given this is a Thursday, I should be outlining. Which I will do.

One last note, I have the dreaded ManCold, therefore there is high probability I will spend the day on the coach watching re-runs of spongebobsquarepants.

The Great Snifler

dcdear

Be Well.

Interlude…

Pristine cut glass snow-flakes reflect prisms of light in the sharp air that bites at my skin.

Blinding bright sun, low at midday, brings a smile to my face and closing eyes can’t see the crystals of ice from my breath, but ears can hear the distant laughter.

In my mind I see the ruby red cheeks of children sledding on twists and turns on the dapple lit forest path. Bursting free into the New Year.

 

The corollary of you have to be excited about your writing…

I have to be excited about my outline.

One of the lessons I learned from NaNoWriMo this year was I don’t have enough outline. What got me through was Mary Robinette Kowal’s, “No Prep NaNo” class. When I bogged down I went back to my class notes and followed her advice. The second action I took was to make a note of what bogged me down. More often than not it was the lack of outline, I was missing the “Ok-What happens next?” syndrome. Once I had this the writing was straight forward and oddly exciting.

Before I continue I want to point out something that I have learned over the last while, don’t argue with established bona fide experts. I paid money to take the class. I try not to argue or disagree with experts on writing. I do my homework by checking out the expert. And move forward taking their advice. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but at least I know that from experience. I find what works for me, but I don’t spend time re-inventing the wheel. But that’s me, it might not be you.

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Back to the corollary…

I have discovered that it’s work to write an exciting outline. I am aware of the forms, the three-act structure, the seven point plot, the MACE quotient, etc. What I am learning is the details of outlining. How to get the parts of your outline to weave together? I know I want my main character to have a love interest. But what are the details of that romance and how does it weave through the core of the story? I want my character to fail at succeeding at their main goal. It’s part of any good story. How does that integrate with developing secondary character who is an integral part of the story? And how do all of these elements mesh into a cohesive whole that reinforce the underlying theme of the novel?
I suspect for experienced author’s, this is straight forward process. For someone learning to write, it’s like exercising a muscle you didn’t know you had. It hurts, and it hurts more the next day.

The basic advice still follows, get your butt in a chair and write or outline. But just doing repetitions without examining the exercises you are doing is wasted effort. You can do all the sit-ups you want. But if you do them wrong you end up with neck and back pain with NO abs.

Ok, dcd, what are exercises are you doing? Good ones?

I hope so. But I am following the concept from workouts, High-intensity interval training (HIIT). What in the Sam hell does that mean?

Workouts, exercising these days evolves around working specific muscles very hard and then resting them. The next day you work a different set of muscles, very hard. And you have rest days. You match this with a proper diet and you end up being fit.

Unlike the problems with getting the details into my outlines, I can schedule. I would say  “Project Management” but I just felt eyes roll and glass over, and not in a good way. A simple schedule to work the different parts of my writing muscles with a focus on outlining. Cheese cake. (I’ll be right back, desert is calling)

Schedule

  • Monday – WWP Writing Group – Outline
  • Tuesday – Solo at home writing
  • Wednesday – Rest Day (Board Game Group)
  • Thursday – Outline (Once a Month WWS Writing Group)
  • Friday – Critiques for Writing Groups
  • Saturday – Writing
  • Sunday – Rest Day or Cardio…

Ok, smart guy, what are you going to consume to help this regime?

Core writing “foods”

  • Writing Excuses Podcast, IMO, the best podcast out there.
  • The Prolific Writer Podcast
  • Monthly Writing Class
  • Monthly Writing Prompt
  • Weekly Writing Group Writing Session
  • Audio Books in genre

Lastly and most importantly, tracking.

All sorts of studies show that if you track what you are doing, if you measure your work, you get better results.(Don’t take my word for it) And so I will build a spreadsheet or Trello Card or add something to a food tracker to measure what gets done. Most likely they will be “ToDo’s” in a calendar. Perhaps the website will contain micro updates…

As I re-read this now, other than all the typo’s, I see way too aggressive goals. But I know it’s OK to fail.

“Failure provides the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” ~ Henry Ford

Be Well…dcd

Interlude…

Sometimes I need to stop typing and write with pen on paper. It’s not the words. It’s the sound of nib on paper. TDoorReSizehey rhyme and beat of the pen scrapping paper. Words of the same length come out in staccato beat that resonates with my soul. And then the change from print to cursive. The pen and paper become a different instrument. The sound is just as pleasing. Once I resonant with the sound my eyes come into play I try to focus on clear beautiful script. I fail most often here. Moments become infinity for me and I disconnect from time, there is only pen and paper.

 

Be Well…dcd

What I learned from NaNoWriMo 2017

With a strange sense of satisfaction, I find myself writing this blog post before the end of November.  I learned a lot about myself and my writing this during NaNoWriMo this year.

Here goes:

Special Award: Mary Robinette Kowal’s “No NaNoPrep” course was invaluable.

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Number One – I need more plot and structure to write.  I didn’t have enough material prepared, from incidental character names, to plot points, to the details of my characters.

Number Two: Don’t have to race to the next plot point. I worked to enjoy the scene I was writing.  There is more to improve on this. I also believe this is a weakness in my writing.

Number Three: Taking time to introduce my characters properly to the reader, makes them easier to write.

Numero Cat: I write the most words during word sprints at coffee shops, with an outline of the scene and alone.  Word sprints help me write, better, quicker, faster.  Make the  best use of my time. Having an outline of the scene or section I am writing generates greater output.  Once I start writing at a coffee shop I am highly productive. I write the best when I am alone focusing on what i need to do. While it is good fun and helpful to write with others, I am less productive. One of my goals is to have a higher output of words. Currently I average around 1200 – 1500 word an hour.  I want to get that much higher.  Once again more on this in an upcoming blog.

Number Five: Working with a soundtrack helps. I need to look at using different soundtracks for different sections. Instrumentals work best.

Number Six: Netflix is my friend. During breaks from writing, watching a TV show in the same genre helps to keep me grounded. I need to test this out more to be sure. Not movies, series. I don’t binge watch Netflix. If you binge watch, then I would suggest that this is bad tip for you.

Lucky Number Seven: Writing podcasts, like “The Prolific Writer” and “Writing Excuses” help my motivation. A LOT, LIKE A TON!

Number Eight: I don’t know how you become a writer without a writing group. The information and encouragement from a writing group should be mandatory for all writers, regardless of proficiency level. Thanks to Courtney, Lou, Melissa, Morena and Sharelene for keeping me on the straight and narrow.

Number Nine: (no not the Beatles song) Coffee shops. Lovely, pretentious,  coffee shops. My thanks go out to : http://iconoclastcoffee.com/ , http://remedycafe.ca/ , and https://www.transcendcoffee.ca/

There must be some deep psychological reason I love writing at coffee shops. A misplaced idealistic dream about what it means to be a writer? But Damn it, I love writing at coffee shops.

Be Well…dcd

Breaking 50K

Six days of #NaNoWriMo2017 and I can see my goal of 60K words in the distance.  Just passed the 50K mark, the “official” finish line for NaNo. Why 60K? Why not? Or is that to trivial an answer?

Those who I share this writing adventure with have busier lives than I do. Some of children, some are working longer hours with other goals besides writing. I on the other hand, have the time to write. Time to write better, quicker, faster. I don’t have to be satisfied with 1667 words and day for NaNoWriMo. Indeed, I should be able to do 2K words 5 days out of seven, seven out of seven during November.

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I also need to take time to learn from my writing. This NaNoWriMo has been the easiest so far. By being easier, it has also taught me many lessons on what I need to do better. But that is a topic for another blog. I am hoping to get 5k done today and maybe tomorrow. Then NaNoWriMo2017 will be over for me.

Be Well…dcd

Here’s your raw NaNo writing excerpt:

“I’ll see what we have and get the water Lady Isott.” The server said and headed off to the kitchen. As she reached the kitchen door, Mila and Cara came out bumping into the server. Mila and Cara grabbed the serving woman and pinned her to the floor, Mila with a knife at the women’s throat. The guards at the door drew swords and rushed towards the kitchen, as they ran, Trevor stuck his foot out tripping one. The other plunged straight at Mila’s back with a sword. He didn’t see Slode step out of the privy hallway running him through with his sword. By the time that Isott swung her gaze back to the other fallen man Gris was ontop of him, binding the man’s hands as Slode walked over blood falling onto the man’s face from the blade of his sword. The man stopped stuggling instantly.
“Back room.” Trevor gestured and everyone dragged their captives down a corridor near the kitchn to what looked like stock room. Two serving staff rolled the dead body into a table cloth and took it through the kitchen. Another two staff immediatley had mops out and were wiping up the blood. Isott was amazed at that everything disappeared so fast.
“Isott,” hissed Trevor, “Get over here.”
She went to Trevor and the rest. Trevor closed the door
“Won’t someone call the city guards?” Isott asked.
“Most people won’t remember seeing anything if you ask them tomorrow. Some didn’t even see it tonight.” Trevor said.
“How? How can that be?” Isott asked. “It happened in plain site.”
“What people will remember is that a serving girl stumbled going into the kitchen. Most didn’t see Slode kill the man. They weren’t looking that way. What they will say is the guards went to help the fallen serving girl helping her into the kitchen.”
“Those that did see everything will keep their mouths closed for fear of being associated with the bandits. And no one will believe that Mila Xygen was involved in anything.” Mila said while looking directly at the serving woman who Slode had tied to chair. Mila’s dagger was dangerously close to the woman’s face. The other would be assassin was tied in another chair. Gris was staring at him.

NaNoWriMo 2017 Day 13

Today’s installment of mindless drivel from the land of NaNoWriMo…

Cara stepped from her hiding spot and dropped to the floor in silence.
“Well, what should we do?” Cara said.
With a bang Isott crashed backwards out of her chair spilling onto the floor. She spun with her dagger held out to Cara.
“I could have killed you.” Isott said, trying to regain her composure. Cara was still laughing.
“Oh yes, you are so scary.” Cara said putting her hand over her mouth. This did not prevent her shoulders from shaking.
Isott’s eyebrows knit together. She took a slow breath to regain control. It didn’t work.
“Damn it Cara, with all that has gone on, is going on. It wasn’t funny.” Isott said. “How long have you been listening?”
“Long enough to know that I need to be at that meeting.” Cara said.

Isott thought about this. “No, I have a different task for you.” Isott said.
“I don’t take orders from you, Isott. I provide information. I try and get information you are after. But I don’t take orders from House Adunthe.” Cara said.

Isott considered this. Did she mis-understand the relationship that Daniel had with Cara? Maybe the direct route to her problem.

“I need you, no, let me re-phrase that. I would take it as a favour, if you followed Daniel for the next several days. I am afraid he is going to do something stupid.” Isott said. She found Cara studying her closely. She in turn looked at Cara.
“You’ll have to be more specific,” Cara said, “I need to know what you are afraid of.”
“He’s going to go after the rogue magic users by himself, I know it. And I don’t think he understands how dangerous it is.” Isott said.
Cara shuddered, remembering the scene from the docks. The sickening popping sounds still clear echoing in her mind. She forced down the rising bile in her mouth.

Remembrance Day 2017

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.-George Santayana

We live in a world where memories are measured in seconds and the ‘apps’ of our lives are often designed to forget or erase what we just shared with others, the moments of our lives. It’s not that we can’t remembered what happened last week, it’s that we can’t remember what happened last snap.

Chose to remember the truth: the good the bad the ugly. Lest we forget.

Be Well -dcd

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My father is third from the left. He fought in Korea for Canada.

#NaNoWriMo2017

This post, like most if not all of my NaNo post consists of unedited or reviewed words. Simply the flow of words that came out. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

An excerpt from “Markaz” wherein we find evil.

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“Ground them, please.” Akim said.
Ceira turned back to Bek who was smiling at Akim’s words. He was already trying to pull power from her. She took the breath, calmed and release the power slowly to him. She found it better to keep her eyes closed while Bek worked. It helped her focus on her task of giving him the power. The grind of the earth being pulled against earth reached her ears and the muffled screams of the now enclosed thugs did not distract her. She continued to give Bek the power he needed, increasing it as she imagined the improvised earthen room coming down and meeting resistances from the men inside. And then the screams and pop like sounds as the roof came to the ground. The sound reminded her of stepping through goopy mud. Finally the silences which sent a thrill through her, a soft sigh escaping her lips. She knew that Bek would continue until the men were well beneath the ground so the animals wouldn’t smell the bodies and dig them up. Not that there would be bodies. It would be bones and goo. Bek just didn’t push the people into the ground, he pressed the ground up at the same time. Like a hardened earthen vise. And then Bek stopped pulling power and she waited calmly until the reserve in her emptied before opening eyes.
She looked at Akim.
“Do you want us to ground the rest?” She asked.