A Retreat, Shame and wth? An Editor…

I got back from the writing retreat setup by Randy McCharles earlier this week. Randy’s a great friend to writers of all levels. Check him out. He has new series coming out soon. More news as events warrant.

 

Ok – the people at the retreat made me feel ashamed of my commitment level.

They were a bunch of BIC’s (Bums In Chairs) It was humbling. Their schedule looked something like this:

  • Writing by 630 AM
  • Short Break 10:15
  • Lunch Noon (45 Min)
  • Short Break 230 ish
  • Dinner 6:00 PM (an Hour)
  • And most nights another 2 hours of writing then a sit around chat.

With the guilt hanging over my head after the first day I tried to buckle down and get crunching out the writing.

Here’s what got accomplished:

  • 30K editing pass – and then sent to an editor for revision, plus alpha readers. Yes I crapped my pants.
  • 10K New words
  • Major problems resolved- two
  • Incorporate all changes from Editor on the Prologue. (2500 words)

Robert J. Sawyer Blessing My Keyboard

This is for what I refer to as the “CheeseSpaceOpera” Today’s working title “Icarus: Book One of the System War”.

Some of you might be still coughing about me sending something to an editor, please check her site out: http://moreedits.ca/. If she can work with me, she can work with anyone.

So in an effort for full transparency – Yes –  I am on the road to having something published; either self-published or otherwise. (Insert Laugh Track Here)

The biggest single new technique I learned and put into practise – Editing pass while you listen to the story. I did this through MS Word’s “Read Aloud” function. It’s astounding the sheer volume of prepositions I don’t put in when I write.

What are you going to put into practice for your writing?

Be Well…dcd

I live in a world of kind baristas

I didn’t grow up with barista‘s or Pho or smart phones.

Wish I did.

Music was highly limited, tightly controlled by the labels and the cost of producing music. I’m listening to a cover of Steve Winwood’s Higher Love done simply on an acoustic guitar and solo voice. Achingly painful and beautiful. A sweet melancholy to go with my medium roast pour over.

IMG_20170825_124651.jpg

It’s a mid-February and mid cold for my town. I am at one of the cafe’s that makes me happy and oddly makes me feel that I have accomplished something by getting out of the house on a holiday at 730 AM.

But back to the Barista’s, briefly.

At this location the smiles are kind and warm. There is no dress code, except there is a dress code that the staff unconsciously adhere to – the code of cool – because that’s who they are. Similar but different.

The job application probably states kind but efficient.

It wouldn’t use the word “cool”. Cool is from an age past. When life and self expression was limited.  When conformity was mandatory and if you rebelled you all wore the same rebel uniform. The word rebellion doesn’t exist here. They have moved on. Grown beyond simple confrontation, ignoring the war against the rules and just be who they are as they find out.

Don’t mis-understand, they still struggle with the being human part. “Does he like me?” “Should I go out with them?” Their struggle is with finding out about life with fewer constraints and more dangers.  In the midst of their struggle, they work and are kind to aging want-to-be writers.

The Barista calls out, “Medium Roast pour-over“. I get up and look to the counter where a kind smile meets me, genuine, not a produced effect. They could have left to get back to work, the barista waited until I acknowledged the call, because it was the kind thing to do, the human thing to do.

Time to get back writing.

Be Well…dcd

 

 

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?

squirrel

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

 

My mistakes in writing

The biggest mistake I make in writing is the simplest. Avoiding writing. Sounds way to simple. But it is the biggest issue for my attempts at becoming an author. I talk a lot about writing, I read a lot about writing but I don’t do a lot of writing.  I have grandiose ideas and plans. Wonderful characters in great situations, at least I tell myself that, and sometimes others. In many ways, this struggle is the reverse of the trouble I had when I quit smoking.

vb0_6119

I had tried quitting many times before I found the way that worked for me. This is important. It’s important for you to know that I have tried many ways to write and to quit smoking. For me to quit smoking it boiled down to, “I won’t have one right now” or “I don’t need one right now”. I just had to beat the habit one cigarette at a time. One craving at a time. Sounds simple, right? But if you have ever tried to quit smoking or anything else, you know it’s not simple or easy. I won’t attempt to describe the struggles. That is for another day.

So for writing, I need to write today. I don’t need need to finish 70,000 words. I just need to write today, where ever I am, however, I feel. Even if I write 250 words a day that gives me 91,250 words in a year. More that what is needed for a novel, novella. Unless of course if you are a “Sanderson”, where 300,000 is the norm.

The silliest part is that I can be quite productive if I just sit down and write. I can crank out a lot of words in a short period of time. Crappy words, but words none the less. Its not that I am not trying.(double negative) I have started participating in two writing groups that will help my word count. One that meets and writes weekly and one that meets monthly. But those discussions are for another day. Yes I know, I have promised two more blog posts, one on my journey to quit smoking and one on my writing groups. Don’t complain it will give you something to look forward to.

As Always
Be Well…

 

NaNoWriMo – Day 9 13244 – Finally someone died

Still 1700 words behind where I should be to complete on time. I am hopefully about tomorrow, as any writer should be. Today’s excerpt is an explanation of why Jorunn and Othin (our heroes) killed all the raiders. Again this raw, unrevised, what I just finished writing.

WIN_20140906_122620

“Now that we are going I can explain what happened from my point of view. First the ambush wasn’t a chance meeting. Someone put a tracking spell on something we were carrying. My guess is that it was on the grill. The trigger for it was when you started to set up, Karl. When it was touched the spell sent out the location. The attack ddidn’t happen immediately, because the raiders were waiting at the normal spot you stop for lunch. We went past it. We went by it pretty fast. Which meant the Raiders had to play catch up. Did you notice how almost all the raiders were in the direction of your normal camp[? They knew we were coming. They also knew enough that Noak and Neilsen would react with trained and experienced skill and put a wind wall up. But Othin and I were unknown talents. This is why they went after Othin first. A channeller without a forge is just another person. Othin being larger and known to have great skill with an axe and mace was the target they wanted. If they had tried for Noak or Neilsen, they would have felt it and protected themselves in time. Killing you, Karl, gave them no advantage. They wanted you to see the wizards die. To show you no hope. Why this is I don’t know. But I am certain that they would have killed Noak, Neilsen, Othin and I. I know this because all the arrows, all of them were poisoned. You could see it by the black tips. To poison that many arrows to kill channelers and forges costs a small fortune. There are only a few poisons that can do this, the ingredients are hard to find and dangerous to assemble. Only few persons in the world know how to make them.

When you lose momentum

Life happens, we all know this truth. As a new writer, losing momentum has proven to be my biggest challenge, so far. Not “writing”, not “taking criticism”, not “finding time to write”, not “ideas”, not “writer’s block”.

All of these I thought would be bigger problems. For me the biggest secret to writing, is writing every day. I can’t take pauses of days, I lose the time too easily.

For me I think the easiest way to write every day is to have options, like this blog, or flash fiction. Something that gets me writing. Finding time for writing has required me to rethink my daily schedule. Change what I do and who I am.  None of this is new to any of you who write, but I think that all writers have some sort of “Achilles Heel” that is our own personnel weakness. For me that is not writing every day.

Writing is a solitary work, but doesn’t have to be done in solitary confinement.  Eventually stories want to be read by someone other than the author. Yes there times when we have to be immersed in the world we are writing about, but not always. To keep momentum I am tring these three suggestions:

1) Post It Note, White Board, Fridge Note – “DCD Writing tonight at 7:00 Starbucks”. Don’t do this all the time, as it will then become easier to ignore, twice a month, no more!

2) Once a month, near the end of the month, get someone to read what you are writing, just a snippet, a couple of pages. It doesn’t matter what they say, or it does, the point is you have to have material ready for that person to read what you are writing. The key here is only a couple of pages.

3) Here’s the hardest one, once a month, near the beginning of the month, your Facebook status is your current word count and [drum roll] what your goal is.

Lastly, something that should be second nature to anyone as a writer, encourage other writers to write, ask them how they are doing. Nothing lifts your own burden, then helping someone else with their’s.

Be Well – dcd

Flash Fiction

The smell of burnt flesh lived in the air, alive, seeking to be experienced before it dissipated, before it died through dispersal.

Jennifer easily avoided the plume of living smoke. Anyone still alive could avoid the new life forms that arose after the awaking and the mistakes that followed.

She continued on her way to the meeting. The human meeting.

“I call this last meeting of the humans to order,” declared John Smith

We have one order of business today. To elect a new leader. My time is done. My mandate was to stabilize the remaining humans, to find a way to have a stable environment that didn’t change daily.

Welcome to Eden Prime. Coordinates have been downloaded into your datastreams. They require living human dna to be decrypted. There are no exceptions. ” John intoned

At this, there was a murmuring through the crowd. Many had argued that the coordinates were to be shared with their allies, The robot AI had helped keep the humans alive. Had protected us when we were at our weakest. They deserved to know where we were going. Jennifer was one them. She was alive because of them.

“I know,” acknowledging the unspoken concern, “and there is more bad news, so you might as well sit down, and get comfortable. Many of you won’t like this next bit. ” He waited until they all were seated.

“Eden Prime is aware and programed to only allow on human sentient beings to live in it. Humans with complete dna.”, he sat down, exhausted and free. Free of the secret that he had kept for so long.  It was like his final confession.

Ten minutes later the yelling, threats and pandemonium stopped. At least no one was dead, Jennifer thought. Especially John. Her team had protected him when he was attacked. Kept him alive. He didn’t seem to care if he lived or died.

“Order, Order DAMM IT!”, Jennifer yelled.

“Nominations for leader of the humans is now open”, she declared, stepping down.

“I nominate Jennifer, as leader of the humans”

“I second the nomination”

“Are there any other nominations?”

“Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer” the crowd yelled.

After a few minutes of applause the it died down. She let it play out, letting the emotion of the moment be wrung out of the crowd.

“Thank-you, Thank-you one and all” She cried.

“Sargent of arms, arrest John Smith for treason against humans. Hold him in custody for trail”, Jennifer ordered. She was in charge now.

She was in charge of the humans, hopefully everything else went as smoothly with the AI’s…