Tag Archives: Musings

NaNoWriMo – Day 9

Words today: 1981
Total Count: 22,025

I didn’t get to start writing today until nearly eight this evening.  Spent the morning being lazy and getting ready for my appointment at the VA.  I am getting ready to have a ‘procedure’ that I am not looking forward to. In layman’s terms they are going to stick a telescope up where telescopes do not belong. And if they find anything in the recesses of my gastronomical highway that shouldn’t be there, they are going to chisel it away.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it.

I’m not going to bore you with details, before or after this ugly business.  NaNoWriMo will be a distant memory, so I can even take a couple of days off to heal from this intrusion.  Let’s just hope they don’t find anything that doesn’t belong.  Like that car I lost in ’74.

I am not going to write a humorous blog about the event.  It’s been done and there is no way I could approach the description given to us by Mr. Dave Barry of the Miami Herald.  And if you haven’t read it..

You really oughta! Dave Barry’s Colonoscopy



Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. ~ Flannery O’Connor

 

NaNoWriMo – Day 4

Distractions.

Dogs
Facebook
Mafia Wars
Hulu
Email
Dogs
Book marketing
Telephone
TV
(Did I mention dogs?)

I live with Adult Attention Deficit. That means I can find a thousand different things to divert my attention to during the course of a day. When you live your life on the internet, that distraction content is ten-fold. Today has been one of those days where I type a little,surf a little, type a little, surf a little, type-type-type, surf a lot, type a little bit more. (You older folks will probably get that.)

My success or failure with NaNoWriMo will ultimately hinge on my ability to unplug from the distractions and focus on the task at hand. It sounds easy, but for someone like me, it’s tough!

Look… something shiney!



In Ireland, a writer is looked upon as a failed conversationalist. ~ Anonymous

Summer Solstice

Summer noun (sum’ – er)
1. the season between spring and autumn
2. a period of hot, usually sunny weather

Solstice noun (sohl’ – stis)
1. the longest day of the year
2. it’s still hot, just a longer day of it.

For some people this is a major celestial event. There’s places in the world you wouldn’t be able to throw a rock without hitting a Pagan ritual of some sort. Magic abounds.

Today will be a few seconds longer than yesterday and tomorrow, but what does that really mean?  Will I get to write a dozen more words than I wrote yesterday? Do I get an extra meal? Does the mail take longer to deliver? Does the dog get to sleep a little more?

Nay, I say nothing really changes in the solar system we call my world. The magic of the solstice happens in the spirit.  The magic happens in my capacity to embrace it. So I’m going to have my own little pagan ritual. I’m going to sacrifice a bagel to the mother protector of all writers and ask for creative intervention in Hemingway’s name.

John Sebastion asked… “Do you believe in magic?”

To that I would say… “Most certainly.”

mmmmm……. Good bagel!


“In everything natural there is something marvelous.” — Aristotle

Memorial Day

I rarely discuss my military service, so pay attention – we won’t pass this way again. I am a Vietnam Era Veteran, although I never set foot in SE Asia.  I got lucky.

I served in the United States Army in the early seventies. While serving I got to see exotic places like Fort Benning, Georgia, and Fort Lee, Virgina.  I served in Tampa in the Readiness Command,  later become the US Central Command. You may know this as the future commands of “Stormin’ Norman Swartzkopf,” and later General Tommy Franks and now General David Patraeus, all leaving their footprints on US battlefields abroad. What did a guy like me do at Readiness Command? I was the “Incinerator Operator.” Oh, that wasn’t my official title. The Army had invested good money teaching me small arms repair, so I was officially the “Armorer,” a job I could’ve done in about fifteen minutes a month, unless I had to drive someone to the firing range to requalify on the M-16. The rest of my time was spent burning shredded classified documents in the back room. It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it.

Funny, but what I remember most about my time in Tampa was Pink Floyd in Tampa Stadium on the Dark Side of the Moon tour. Tells you where my head was at. It was the last US date on the tour, June 29, 1973. It was by far the high point of my life in Tampa.

From there, it was off to Okinawa, Japan, which became the beginning of the end of my first marriage and military service. Without going into much detail, just know I left Okinawa almost 18 months later with discharge pending and no wife. Dark days indeed.

I tell you that only to say this. Many of us served in the military without setting foot on some distant battlefield, dodging enemy fire, and fighting for somebody’s freedom. For every soldier who gave all, there are hundreds who gave little. They served their time and went home, many to flounder without the structure of the military. I hated my time in service. At the time, I thought it was a waste of days. Living a somewhat selfish life, I failed to see the big picture and where I was to fit in years to come. I squandered the opportunity and succumbed to my own short-sightedness.

I can no more relive those years than I can walk on Saturn, but what I can do is make sure I honor the soldiers and sailors who serve today, putting their collective asses on the line to ensure freedom survives against those that would take it away.

So on this Memorial Day, I honor those that fell in the ultimate sacrifice of service to this nation and pray that in years to come, this nation can rise up and honor them by getting past its own short-sightedness, and ensure that our children and grandchildren will have the same freedoms our forefathers designed.

Mickey Mills – Circa 1972



It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived. ~ General George S. Patton

 

The Doldrums

Since my near-death experience of two weeks ago…. (Okay, that may be a bit melodramatic, but a time or two I would’ve welcomed death and the relief it would bring.)

As I was saying… since my near-death experience of two weeks ago, I have been experiencing a bit of the doldrums. I checked in with Webster to make sure that is the right word and he agrees:

dol·drums [dohl-druhmz, dol-, dawl-]
–noun(used with a plural verb)
1. a state of inactivity or stagnation, as in business or art:
2. a dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits.
3. a belt of calms and light baffling winds north of the equator

This has got nothing to do with winds.

Here’s the thing. I think of myself as a writer, but yet – I am not writing. Hell, it’s been two weeks since I blogged. I had a plan for getting the second book done. I had what I thought was a good, solid outline. I had a goal in mind. I even set out writing. And then the God’s struck at me with all the vengeance that Montezuma and his cohorts could muster. I considered getting a priest on stand-by.

And then the clouds parted, the sun peeked through, and all was right with the world once again…. with one exception. Now, it seems, every word that goes from my keyboard to my editor is covered with crap and the marvelous outline and storyline appears trite and over done. My critical eye has been fitted with a microscope and everything reads like it was written by a no-talent fifth grader.

All that being said, I know that perception becomes reality, only if I let it and the way to get through it is to soldier on. The one sure way to cure writers block is to write. As the sign on the wall says…. “It ain’t gonna write itself!”


Writer’s block is a disease for which there is no cure, only respite. ~Terri Guillemets

Waiting for Books

This is a lot like waiting for the Publishers Clearing house mailer. You know it’s going to be here, you just don’t know when. I figured I would have a box of books here by the middle of the month and shipping them off to those of you who took the pre-order option.

I would like to think the reason it is taking so long is because the publisher knows how good a work it is, they want to handle it with special care. Or maybe it is because instead of printing it the man on the press is reading it. Possibly it’s because the winter weather has the ink flowing like sap from a Canadian maple – painfully slow. It could be a simple factor of Franklin’s Law:  The lateness of the delivery is in direct proportion to the desire to have it. By the time the books show up I hope I have enough fingers left to hold the pen.

Whenever they do arrive, I’ll be busy turning them back around to readers.  I’m anxious to hear how everyone likes it.


“Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’.” – Yoda

Characters

I woke up this morning thinking about Phoenix Worthy.

Oh? You haven’t heard of this guy?

He’s only the world’s greatest ghost hunter ever to come out of Tybee Island, GA. He is the main character in my debut novel, HAUNTING INJUSTICE (and my work in progress, book II of the Phoenix Worthy story.)

I’ve been reading a lot lately about character development and the process of inspiration.  How does a character go from a single thought to a seemingly living breathing person moving about from page to page?  I think it works differently for different people, but I can share with you how this particular character developed.

I was working as a sales engineer for a factory automation supplier when I was laid off in January of ’07. The job loss came somewhat out of the blue and I started thinking about what is the first thing I should do.  Oddly enough, the first thought that came to me was a new tattoo commemorating the event.  So, later in the day I was on the phone talking to friend about it and mentioned that I was going to get a new tat.  The obvious question was asked – What are you thinking about getting?  Having already considered the image, I replied, “A phoenix.”

After a few seconds of silence she replied, “I can see that.  You are phoenix worthy.”

My writer’s ear heard, what a great name for a character!

So then it was a matter of fleshing out Phoenix.  My education is in engineering so my writing preparations tend to reflect that.  The first thing I did  was decide what I wanted Phoenix to be.  I’ve always liked ghost stories so it didn’t take long for me to put this character together as a ghost hunter.  I started building Phoenix on a character sheet: what he looked like, how old he was, his family background, his education, and anything else that defined who Phoenix was.

Then, I added the cast of characters to round out the story and did the same sheet for each of the supporting cast.  When I was done I had six core characters.  There are probably fifteen or so bit players that get sprinkled in through the novels pages, but these folks only got added to their own sheet with names, who they were and what part they played. One of the things I did when I got the core characters developed was to build a MySpace page for the ghost hunter.  You can find that HERE. What that did is let me really get to know the character. It was a reference point that I could easily go to.

About halfway through the novel it occurred to me that something was needed.  There seemed to be an imbalance in the story and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  Ultimately, I decided that Phoenix needed a love interest to compliment his character.  In hindsight, she was a brilliant addition to the story.  I had to go adjust the outline based on what she was bringing to the table, but ended up with a much better story because of it.

So for me, I plan like an engineer when I write.  Character mock-ups, outline and location descriptions are paramount and keeps me driving towards completion.


Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think.~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Prodigal Scribe Tour 2009

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AT187niIQw]

The bulk of HAUNTING INJUSTICE was written on the road. Many nights in the tent were spent hammering out chapters and making progress. Sometimes, I would pull into a picnic area and get some writing done sitting at a table. I wrote some in a truck stop, a doughnut shop, a Starbucks, and the Pomona KOA. I spent ten days in a campground in Tombstone. I was able to get several thousand words done there. It was the most productive time of the trip. I was caught off guard by the impromptu hail storm in the middle of the afternoon. In case you ever wondered, hailstones banging on canvas is very loud. It actually roars.

I want to thank everybody who visited “The Scribe” while on the trip. It was the chance of a lifeltime that I won’t soon forget.


“What’s in store for me in the direction I don’t take?” ~ Jack Kerouac

 

The Words Won’t Come

The last couple of days have been a writer’s nightmare for me.  The editor open, the cursor blinking, the fingers hovering over the keyboard ready to spew forth the inspiration of creation.  A story to be crafted with sentences weaved together in a coherent mechanism of literary genius.  I want to write… nay, I NEED to write, but the background noise in the cranium seem to be draining away the creative juices like a child sucks Kool-Aide from a plastic box.

I know its there – the story, I mean.  I have the framework on paper, the concept, the characters and the path from first word to last period seemed so clear just two days ago, and BAM… it all disappeared like money into con man’s scam.  I don’t have the words.  What a nightmarish place for a writer.  A writer without words is like a kite without wind, or a scholar without a school, or a soldier without a mission.  Frankly…. It kinda sucks!!!

So, what do I do about it?

I just did. (See above)

You ever get a story stuck?

Call it what you will… an inspiration that won’t move forward or a tale with no path, whatever it is, I abhor it. It climbs in my psyche like a vicious parasite gnawing away at my creative process.  I can’t sleep. I can barely eat and through it all, the only thing I can think of is, “Where is the story?”  The only relief  will come by finding it.  I know the premise is sound, the characters believable, and the audience eager.  Now all I have to do is my part.  I have to connect the dots from the opening sentence and weave coherent prose that moves the reader, because isn’t that what we as writers are trying to do? …… Move the reader.

I was stuck.  I couldn’t find the story.  So, I gathered my wits, uncovered my beloved Pearl, and rolled away on a blustery Sunday afternoon, the low rumble of the Harley V-Twin singing a song of transport.  With the wind in my face and the machine tuned to perfection, I split my focus between the highway and the story begging to be written and click away the miles.  Suddenly, as if I had ridden through the winds of inspiration, the story was there in the form of a three act play.  The characters made sense and the plot sang to me like it was a choir sitting in the pew behind me.  It was as exhilarating as the motorcycle beneath me.

Now I gotta go write the damn thing!