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.

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

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.

Waiting…Anticipation…Excitement

One week or so from now I will be at When Words Collide 2017. A tremendous opportunity for me to learn more about the craft of writing, to get inspired about my writing and lastly, face the music. (A little melodrama never hurt anyone)

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You may wonder what ‘face the music’ means. This past year one of the writing groups I participate in committed to submitting to the editors, publishers and other authors offering free critiquing sessions. These people do this with little or no chance of gaining from the sessions. It’s part of what makes this conference great, people giving of their time and expertise. Like a fool, I thought, sign me up. To that end I requested three slots at the conference to give an editor samples of my work and receive feedback. I have no aspirations other than to learn from people on how to improve my writing.  Depending on the slot(s) I will be submitting different pieces. Having requested the waiting is underway.  And winner winner, chicken dinner – three slots!

Anticipating a busy three days, I am trying to prepare better for the grind of the conference. What does that mean? For me it means healthy snacks, regular meals and letting myself enjoy the conference. I will try and not worry if I am at the “BEST SESSION”, but rather enjoy where I am. If it is horrible, I will not worry if I offend anyone and get up and leave. More than ever this year I want to seek the opinion of others. What sessions did they enjoy?

One session I have put my name in for is a 50 minute sit down with Guy Gavriel Kay. There are 12 spots to be determined by a draw. The exquisite beauty and personal pain he can give to a reader through his characters is magical.  Hence the excitement. What does one ask of a literary hero?

Until then

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Be well…dcd

 

 

My last exchange with Robin Young

I knew him as a writer only. He passed this last week.

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A man with his own style. A character in some ways . His excellence at wordplay and pinpoint, acerbic wit endeared him to me, and others. I also enjoyed his critiques of my writing. As a struggling writer, which is what I am, his crisp, on point, reviews of my stories changed my prose.

He was in for his second battle with cancer. When I visited him, he still had good color, a clear mind and was writing.  His passing was sudden and surprising.  I have no details at this time. Perhaps one of his creations came to life and took him to a better place.

As promised in the title, my last exchange with Robin:

doug [2:04 PM]
Where do they have you now?

robin [5:07 PM]
Robin spat the stinging dryness of the high desert sand out of his mouth and realized his was no a good place to beta-test the latest DragonDictate.

doug [5:07 PM]
ROFL

[5:08]
You would have to retrain the entire profile for speech recognition

robin [5:13 PM]
“They spirited me out of that nasty Bucharest ‘mental hospital’, stuffed me in the back of a rattling aluminum box with a couple of Mousafah’s bully boys and tossed me out on the street in front of a down on its heels named “Cross Cancer

doug [5:13 PM]
You so need to write this

[5:13]
So you are at the U of A?

robin [5:14 PM]
Two wordsCross Cancer

doug [5:14 PM]
ok

robin [5:14 PM]
Room 3142

doug [5:14 PM]
Roger Roger

robin [5:15 PM]
That was fun – thanks!

I leave you and myself with the words The Great Poet:

Be cheerful, sir:
Our revels now are ended 
These our actors,
As I foretold you were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all of which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind:
We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
~ William Shakespeare


A Good Man, I will miss him.
Be Well
dcdear

 

Editing, no one told me there would be editing…GAH!

Sent the first scene/chapter off of “The Einstein Fallacy” for critiquing.  Should have all the results back around April 20th, 2017. I may post a before and after.

I wish I had a drinking problem. Even though I trust these people, and they are excellent writers, fear still invades me at the thought of having anyone read my work. Why?

Why?

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I suppose it’s because if they don’t like the writing, they don’t like me. The subconscious me wants them to validate my writing so they will validate me. My mother always said I was a fragile child, and it appears that I am. Aren’t we all fragile children? Somewhere hidden inside we fear being known and at the same time want to be known. That inner self. To be identified with, to know we aren’t alone. The exposure of true self is guarded.

But lets return to the skill of editing. I don’t have it. It is so much easier for me to write drivel on a page then it is to go and edit the writing. Having said that, I can learn to edit. Here is my current process in a nutshell:

  1. Tea and a Timer. Normally Peppermint and the Pomodoro “Tomato Timer” https://tomato-timer.com/ I work 25 minutes get up and take a break for 5 and then back at it. I try to do a min of an hour.
  2. I start with Passive Verbs, spelling, and adverbs, and remove them – as Stephen King said:

“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one in your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day… fifty the day after that… and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s — GASP!! — too late.” Stephen King

3. Once this is done I print a hard copy, double sided, 1″ Margins, double spaced, and read it out loud to myself and make notes in the text with a red pen. I go all the way through. This time it took me three days over the weekend. If I see that I need to move where plot points are, I detail them on a separate sheet as well, with the page numbers listed.

4. Back on the computer, I read through a couple of more times and then send it off to an alpha reader that is unknown to my writing groups. If they reply with the “I want to know more” or “Well what happens next”. I submit.

5. Once I get the feedback. I make sure that I understand their notes, asking for clarification or examples when needed. Then I put these items away for 10 days to two 2 weeks. The urge to leap in and make the changes suggested to me is too strong. I have to take a step back, wait and then in cold sober calculation consider what needs to be changed.

The goal is to have all the chapters done in time for When Words Collide this summer and pitch it to a Publisher. Or as I refer to it, outa da fryin pan and into the fire…

As always, be well

dcd

oneRock