Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Yet another possible Author photo!
I am on travel this week. I am attending a computer security conference.

I was lucky to be able to visit my brother and spend some time at his mountain property.

Lots of inspiration there for my writing. The variety of trees alone was great for inspiration. The climate differences were amazing as well.

His property was not my only inspiration. Even the conference has it. There are 25,000 people here. The crowd control alone has story potential.

--Plus the weather is 72F and beautiful.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


I am currently at my brothers weekend property.

We did several vineyard tours and wine tastings and other things yuppies do.

I did it wearing a Big Labowski related T-shirt though.

Anyway, I managed a little research for my book. I have some abandoned vineyards in my novel and some orchards as well. Just seeing what ancient grape vines will be a huge help with that setting.

--I have no lemon trees though like my brother...

Friday, February 21, 2014


I am currently on travel for work. Attending a conference in San Francisco next week.

My brother lives near there so I went up a bit early to visit. Air fare was way cheaper that way.

Anyway. It cuts into working on my book. But feeds lots of info for it. For example, I am staying in Napa valley where he has a nice mountain house. The place is surrounded by vineyards in various states of repair. My book has an abandoned vineyard in it and it really helps to see actual overgrown vineyards. I also love the different trees. My brother actually has old growth redwoods on his place. Beautiful.

--People watching is great too. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Selecting a Title

I had selected a working title for my book: FALLING

A piece of advice I had received, if you are self-publishing on Kindle, was to go to Amazon and search for your title to ensure it is easy to find.

Here is the results for FALLING.

Over a hundred books with the same title and most of them seem to be bad romance novels.

Oh The Humanity.

So I am on a mission to pick a new title. Here are a few initial ideas:
  • Blood and Anvils
  • The Outer Ring
  • The Hermitage Redoubt
  • Answers Above All
  • Enemies Within Us
  • To The Fore
  • Into The Impossible
  • To Sleep After
--Let me know if you have any ideas!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


I like books the hook me in the first few pages with a conflict that you MUST keep reading to find out what happens.

There is lots of different kinds of Conflict. The image from Writingfix.com shows a couple simple examples.

Alfred Hitchcock liked to establish conflict early and crank up tension. Show the ticking bomb under train seat and then the boring baseball conversation the people sitting on the bomb is suddenly something else.

I have actually read books where the conflict was not clear or present and I usually dislike them. Other stories have a conflict but a weak protagonist that does not resolve the conflict.

I like protagonists with heavy conflicts, striving to resolve it, going after the wrong resolutions, suffering setbacks or full reversals, or maybe even full failures.

--For me, as a reader, the bigger the conflict the better.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Loose Ends

I was talking with my friend Roberta yesterday about getting to the end of your book.

I would still be writing had I not imposed a deadline for the first draft. Even then it was way to long.

In the "Cut" phase I am trimming out superfluous plot lines that result in a ton of loose ends.

Now I am not going to have every little thing tied up in a bow. In fact there are a few subtle things that are seed stock for future plot lines.

In the books I love they have a real conclusion and a deneumont. 

Loose ends and even worse, arbitrary ends bug me. If the last chapter of a book concludes nothing and I have to wait a year for the next book, it has to be a VERY good story. Otherwise, I am really pissed.

Simple examples of books that tie up loose ends but continue would be the Harry Potter series books. They tie up enough loose ends for you to be happy. Other stories leave you hanging like it's just the end of a chapter. The Tunnels series did this and it  bugged me. I was feeling like it was done to just get me to buy the next book. A ploy. The thing that sucks is when you read faster than the author writes. I am so not doing that.

--Loose ends will be tied. But leave them wanting more!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Writers Inspiration

My wife Brenda and I went to the Smithsonian American History Museum yesterday with my friends Jim and Roberta and their kids.

That is a really fun museum. It has been completely revamped since the last time I was there.

They had a great exhibit about Puppets. They have original Muppets, and my favorite was a collection of Tim Burton stop action puppets from A Nightmare Before Christmas. 

There were so many stories there.  So many things that could inspire writing.

I need to retire so I could spend a whole day there studying various things.

We are going back to see the Museum of Natural History today. The dinosaur exhibit is closing in April for FIVE YEARS and we want to be able to see it one more time before it's not available for half a decade.

--More inspiration awaits!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Quotes of the Week

"It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly."
- C. J. Cherryh 

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.”
—Philip Roth

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
—Stephen King

“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”
—Enid Bagnold

“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”
—Allen Ginsberg, WD

“Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.”
—William S. Burroughs

“All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.”
—Steve Almond, WD

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
—George Orwell

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Research vs Writing vs Cutting vs Revising vs Editing

Internet research for inspiration is FUN!
What this post is really about is Fun vs Work.

I really enjoy thinking up the story. I like doing the research in support of the story. I especially enjoy the writing.

Just hammering though to the end of the first draft is big fun for me.

But then the work begins.

I did not realize how much work it really is to Cut then Revise then Edit.

I have been currently struggling with the Cut Phase.

--It's taking me longer because it's not as much fun, dammit!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentines Day!

I have a confession to make. I like some romance novels.

My current favorite romance author is Suzanne Brockman.

I really like how she mixes action or mystery with her romances. She has a series of books about a Seal Team that is really great.

I like her strong female characters that manage to still be super sexy woman. I like how she can depict women as feminine and not weak at the same time.

Being sexy is not being weak.

--I like that!

Thursday, February 13, 2014


I am working on a character for my next book that is a real bitch. The kind of bitch that is so hated that you want to face-punch her.

I am developing the character so the reader will hate her so much, that when she finally gets her just rewards they will cheer.

Here are some of her facets:
  • Married, but never had a job. Lazy. Lies about "all the work she does".
  • Abusive both mentally and physically to her husband and children.
  • Tries to constantly control her husband and kids via manipulation and guilt.
  • Alienates his friends to isolate him.
  • Constantly nags and berates him.
  • Lies to him.
  • Spies on him. Reads his texts, emails and Facebook.
  • Screams at and hits the kids. 
  • Has a favorite child that is spoiled to the core.
  • She is a serious racist but keeps it to herself.
  • Always criticizes and see the worst in people. 
  • She holds grudges forever, even against family members.
  • Has no real friends but pretends to have them.
  • Pretends to be religious.
  • Secretly she is cheating on her husband.
  • She demands to control the money to hide her cheating and expenses from frivolous shopping.
  • She tries to murder him but fails.
 --What else makes a bitch a hated bitch?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Senses

I like to use all the fives senses in my writing.

I try to make sure that every page touches all the fives senses. I like to know what temperature the room is. What does the fireplace smell like. What is that arm chair fabric texture? How sweet is the tea?How loud is the music?

I like to be specific as well. She doesn't eat a cookie, she eats an Oreo!

He doesn't drink Scotch. He drinks 24 year old Knockando.

I want to know the text of her skin as my hand drifts over it. I want to know the scent in her hair. I want to hear the catch in her breathing. I want to see the gold flecks in her iris.

--Include ALL the senses, even if it's bad...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Writers Unpublished

I am the first to admit that I am a total newbie at this whole writing/publishing thing.

I do not know Jack Shit.

I am just making this up as I am going along. So in an effort to not be such a n00b I have been reading writers blogs and listening to podcasts in the car and reading all I can that will help me improve.

I cannot believe how many writing "experts" there are that have websites or blogs and they have NEVER had anything published.

Now I plow through and find published authors first. I have learned more from five published authors I know than all the BS experts.

--I still don't know shit. But I know I don't know it!

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Cut

RIP Madison the Great
I am a bit behind on the cut of my edit.

There is a more difficult cut that involved a surgical cut of a plot line that doesn't belong but it's not in well defined chapters.

I also am trying to resist doing the full rewrite until the cut is done.

I fear I am just going to have to go a bit long even though I am cutting to the bone.

My writing buddy also died yesterday. Our ongoing struggle over the ownership of my keyboard is over. I may have to add a cat to my story.

--I'll miss you Madison. Sure is dusty in here...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Quotes of the Week

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.
- Stephen King

Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.
- Ernest Hemingway

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.
- Herman Melville

It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.
- C. J. Cherryh

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.
- Robert Benchley

Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.   
- Ray Bradbury   

A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.
- Sidney Sheldon

Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.
- Henry David Thoreau

If you have other things in your life—family, friends, good productive day work—these can interact with your writing and the sum will be all the richer.
- David Brin

My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.
- Anton Chekhov

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!
- Ray Bradbury

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Coffee and Writing

I drink a lot of Coffee.

I would drink a lot more if I didn't actively keep it to one pot per day, and that pot consumed between 6am and 9am.

If I didn't have a full time job I would write during that time. Well I actually do all my blogging then, now that I think about it.

When I retire I will sleep when I'm tired and write while drinking coffee.

I have fantasies about the perfect writing space and it includes a handy coffee maker.

--I need to detail my perfect writing space...

Friday, February 7, 2014


There is a lot of really good writing happening in comics.

So many graphic novels are so very good.

Sandman by Neil Gaiman comes to mind as a classic example.

With the new apps for iPads the graphic novels are getting more and more popular.

Just think of The Walking Dead, comic turned hit TV show. Also think about all the blockbuster movies that started as comics.

--These are so good it makes me want to write one.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Emotions in Story

Random Utah trip photo!
I was editing my book and found myself reading a chapter and getting all choked up and misty. I love it when that happens.

The story you write needs to touch you. If you want it to touch your audience it has to get to you first. You have to really care about the characters. Your readers will love it when you make them feel emotions!

All the emotions. My story has many, everything from anger, outrage, romantic love, hatred, pride, and humor.

--Read it again. Get help if you need to. Have fun with it.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Writers Read

I just finished the first in the Jack Reacher series, Killing Floor.

I have to say right up front that Tom Cruise does not fit the image of Jack Reacher.

The book was good. It was a fast, easy read.

Jack Reacher in this story is a cold blooded killer. The main character in my story is currently even worse. Ha! Rage murder!

The one thing that bugged me about Killing Floor is the coincidence. I won't offer any spoilers, but I will never use a coincidence like that unless it is not random and not the main plot point.

--Read more. Go to your library. Read now!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Cut

I wish I could remember where I read this tip but it worked really well for me. The tip was simple advice for beginning authors:

Delete you first three chapters.

Oh my God. That worked so well for my story I cannot believe it.

The main function of my first chapter is to hook the reader so well that they cannot put down the book. I want the reader that reads preview pages on Amazon to press one click just to see what happens next.

Most of the first three chapters I cut had utility later. Some of it just was not necessary.

--Only about 20 chapters left to review in the cut phase.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Deadlines and Distractions

I have a deadline hitting this week.

Here is my general schedule:
  • Jan 6 - First draft
  • Feb 7 - First cut
  • Jun 6 - Second Draft
At that point I will turn it over to the editor for spelling and grammar. Then the alpha readers. Then the final draft and final edit and self publish.

The distractions are always there but this week my beloved cat is fading. This photo is from better days. She is 17 years old now and is a bag of fur and bones. She may not last the week.

--Sigh. Dammit.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Quotes of the Week

“We can destroy what we have written, but we cannot unwrite it.”
― Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
“There is creative reading as well as creative writing.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”
― Joan Didion

“That's what fiction is for. It's for getting at the truth when the truth isn't sufficient for the truth.”
― Tim O'Brien

“Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself...It's a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.”
― Harper Lee

“...there would be punishment and pain, and there would be happiness, too. That was writing.”
― Markus Zusak

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Research is Important

I say it again and again, writers should read.

They should also admit to themselves when they don't know something. I really hate it when authors don't research a topic and get fundamental details wrong on something.

I know a lot about firearms. When I read a scene that includes the "The Glocks safety makes a loud click behind his head." I scream at the book, "Glocks don't have safeties.!" It breaks the moment.

Knowing this, it makes it easier to admit I don't know everything.

My book has a character trying to survive in a ruin that now has shelter but does not really know how to cook anything but simple things.  Along comes another character that recognizes and knows how to use a wood fired oven, a cauldron, and fireplace hardware specifically designed for primitive cooking. I had to research these topics.

--Even baking bread is far more complex than I ever knew.