Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Guest Post gig...

Fellow Plotters!

Fantasy author extraordinaire D.P. Prior has allowed me to sully his good name...er.. I mean GUEST POST on his blog.

Please go check it out and LEAVE COMMENTS!

That way I know that you other people actually DO exist and I am not just rambling to myself out here.. (he laughed deep and long, like a rusty hinge creaking on a metal gate leading to a cemetery)

LEAP day

Hello fellow Plotters!

It's Leap Day and a great time to unwrap another excerpt from the forthcoming novel (set to pub next month) The Plotters of Cantaera. 

In the book there are such things as LEAP's, or better known as...

Hey, why don't I let Leader Tanak explain it to you?

Take it away Tanak!

“I am aware of that policy, sir. But sir, I believe this is...” The day-plotter paused. He simply stopped talking, as if the words were too difficult to speak. Tanak waited, tapping his foot slowly on the hard, cold floor. The sound echoed slightly off the walls of the hallway, tracing the path to the wide stairs leading back down to the other floors. But the plotter still waited.
“A what?” Tanak finally shouted, unable to hold his anger. “Do not leave me waiting!”
“I believe it is a leap, sir.”
Tanak actually counted to ten before he responded. Interrupting his class was one thing, but this? A leap? He could not let this stand. Entertaining the idea or making the accusation that a leap could occur was not something to be taken lightly.
“I have dealt with the likes of you before” Tanak said, slowly, the words jumping off his tongue like water droplets in a fire. “You think you know more than all the seasoned engineers, architects and administrators who created this Realm?” He paused to look down his nose at Keeril, his thoughts turning to words that were building momentum toward an explosion in his mouth.
“Submit yourself for review to the Analyst General!” he shouted, expecting that to be the end of it.

Somehow, astoundingly, maddeningly, the day-plotter continued.
“Yes, Leader, I will,” he said. “But please,” he held up his plotter tablet, “Please just look first?”
“Are you mad?” Tanak screamed, shoving the tablet back towards Keeril. “I have wasted enough time here with you!” He moved again to shut the door.
“But I have the proof, Leader!” Keeril thrust the tablet through the door, closer to Tanak. “Please! Look!”
“That will be quite enough” whispered Tanak, stepping into the hall and pulling the door closed behind him. He pointed his finger directly into Keeril’s face and held it there.
“The class has heard enough of this insubordination. I will not allow them to believe this level of ineptitude is acceptable from a plotter already assigned to duties!”
He wrenched the tablet from Keeril’s hands.
The plotter stayed there staring at Tanak, standing his ground. Tanak had to admit that, if nothing else, the young plotter was determined. He realized that Keeril honestly believed he had found a significant anomaly. Tanak allowed himself to imagine for a moment what the young plotter was feeling. Tanak knew that, had he found something that seemed sufficiently out of the ordinary in a following he too would have reported it. Logical Event Anomaly Patterns, or leaps, were something of an area of expertise for Tanak, and Keeril obviously knew this. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Don't fear the Reaper - BE the Reaper


Good day fellow plotters!

My novels The Plotters of Cantaera are about a race of super powerful beings with the power to control the lives of every single human on the world of Cantaera.

Using Cantaera as their own little “novel” they use their version of a “word processor” (called the master sequence)to force changes and memory modifications on their subjects.

Wouldn’t you love to have that kind of power?

Wait! You DO have that power.

YOU are the master of your own novel and the characters within.

YOU have the power to make those nasty little buggers do whatever you want them to do!

Sometimes it is all too easy for first time novelists (and even old seasoned writers) to forget this. We fall into the trap of thinking we can’t make the changes because of this or that reason.

Quite often our fear is really only complacency, or, if I may be so bold -- LAZINESS.

So with the hope that this will help you avoid the pitfall and strike out to conquer your wayward characters, here are THREE (count ‘em  three!) mantras of power you can use to edit out those unwanted degrees of freedom from your subjects, er, characters and put them on the correct path for life as ordained by you!

1.       YOU ARE THE MASTER: That’s right. SAY IT OUT LOUD. You are the one in control of these tiny minded sons-of-flea-bitten... ok, ok you get the idea. But you are! Really! So ACT like you have control. Yes, it’s ok to let the creative juices flow, especially when you are “in the zone”. But when you step back and it looks like you have veered off course, steer the vehicle right back where you want it to go.

2.       DON’T FEAR THE REAPER: BOC said it best. (Hey did you know the lead singer for Blue Oyster Cult was named BuckDharma? True story.) What I mean is, do NOT be afraid to make cuts, changes, edits, etc. when “fixing” the things that have gone wrong. Got a character that isn’t working? Make the girl a boy, change the name, make them older/younger... and, even go so far as to CUT THAT CHARACTER entirely! It’s ALL up to you!

3.       BREATHE: Yep, that’s what I said. Just breathe. Take a step back. Wait a day or two (or three or seventeen).  Take the time you need to make SURE that the characters are working. If you have a trustworthy sort of friend, let them read it. Ask them if the characters are working. Then sort it out.

The bottom line is this: TAKE CONTROL. Do NOT let the characters take control of your will. Yes, sometimes it’s good to let them go where they will, but NOT if it detracts from your PLOT.

Later!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

5 must have tips for better writing

I've read a lot of books and a lot of blogs chock full of all the tips they think you will ever need to be a GREAT writer. And I'll admit some of them are actually useful.

But wouldn't it be great to have the most important, the core philosophy, the mighty-guru-kahuna-big ball-of-cosmic-know-how condensed into 5 easy steps?

Well now you have it.

I don't profess to be the end-all-be-all of wildly successful writers either, but these steps work  for me... and I mean they actually WORK.

And look, there is nothing I can do here in a few paragraphs that will make you a star. I will not sit here and blow smoke up your ass that these steps will GUARANTEE sales. That's not what this is about.

It's about being a better writer. And that, my little grasshopper, is the first and BEST step you can take to just possibly getting some more fans, and then... who knows?

So without further introduction, here they are:

1. WRITE. Yea, I know. It sounds overly simplistic doesn't it? But let me ask... what's your word count today? Yep. That's what I thought. Close the browser and open your word processor of choice and start WRITING. (After you read the next four tips of course;-)

2. STOP COMPLAINING. It's a common (and deep) pitfall we all fall into at times. It's the other guys fault. Blame the agent for not accepting your manuscript. Blame the dog for barking too much. Blame your wife, your kids, your boss, your mom and dad... you get the picture. In the end there is no one but YOU stopping you from writing and thus improving your creative abilities. Takes practice. Complaining effectively halts the process. Stop it.

3. MAKE A GOAL. I don't care if it's 100 words a day, 10,000 words a day, or 200 manuscripts by the time you're 35. Make a goal. It really helps.

4. SET A DATE TO REACH SAID GOAL. Doesn't work if you say "Oh maybe someday..." Stop being a pansy and make a goal, set a date AND WORK TO THAT DEADLINE!

5. TAKE A MOMENT TO APPRECIATE ALL YOU HAVE ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED. Stephen Covey calls it something like "sharpening the saw". Take a break, do a little contemplation, see the greatness and wonder of all that you have created and BE HAPPY ABOUT IT. Then get back to #1.

It's really not rocket science folks. With a little hard work and some direction in your life you CAN be a better writer!

Now get your ass BACK into that story (screenplay, poem, ...) you're working on!

And for more great advice check out Kristen Lamb and Chuck Wendig


Thursday, February 23, 2012

patience grasshopper

FYI I am STILL waiting on the illustrator to complete the "real" image for the book cover. And that will replace the header pic above. Be patient all you complainers.

:-)

other media

Other media is pulling on my consciousness today. By other media I mean TV, movies, internet, etc, etc...

For some reason I find myself thinking a lot about how those things influence my writing. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it trivial?

The good: helps improve writing ability, forces me to think of plot building and character development. It helps me to understand the importance of pacing.

The bad: distracts me from actually working. It can reinforce bad habits I may not be aware of. It distracts me from actually working ;-).

Is it trivial? To a degree yes... but like a disease, it can start out small and meaningless then one day grow into a metastasized behemoth forcing out the other organs and important functions until there is only room left for itself.

And there it is. My thoughts on "other media". My mind is a terrible thing.

Later.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Newness

There...

That's better.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Agents... screw 'em (for now)

I think I am going to STOP looking for an agent.

It's not because I think they are blood-sucking opportunists who only want you after you have proven you are successful and who only think of the profit a writer can give them and not about the life and desires of said particular writer or that they only have rear-view mirror advice on trending and couldn't pick a new hot novel if it came up and bit them on the ass...

No, that's not the reason.

The real reason I am going to stop looking for an agent is that, for the immediate future, I am more than capable of doing the job that they would do for me.

I can e-pub my books. I can do the street level promotions. I can scour the landscape for the book bloggers to review my babies.

And why not?

Here's some number breakdowns. After initial writing and during first/second/third edits I spend at least HALF my available/scheduled "writing" time searching for an agent.

Now let me be clear -- the term searching seems to suggest I stand on a virtual street corner with my skirt hiked up waiting for a pimp to notice my wares and take me in as a "business partner".

No, there is a LOT more to it than just looking pretty. Query letters, cover letters, synopses, chapter outlines, character summaries, first three, first 50, rejections... Query letters, cover letters, synopses, chapter outlines, character summaries, first three, first 50, rejections... wash, rinse, repeat.

Yea, the process of "getting an agent" is a full time job in itself.

So you know what I was thinking?

What if I took all that time I spend "searching" for an agent and instead apply it to self-publishing?

What's the worst that could happen... I finally have a finished product that my friends and family can tell others about without rolling their eyes and having to answer those all too familiar questions: "Oh he has a book? Where can I get it?"

The hardest part for me... and I do mean the HARDEST part... was getting past the term "vanity" publishing.

Because this is NOT vanity.

This is downright, true-grit, pick-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps, good old fashioned American ingenuity and self-starter-ism that got this country off the ground in the first place.

Screw that "vanity" crap. If this was vanity, I would make (pay to have) someone else do it and sit back and wait for the accolades.

Maybe someday, in a galaxy far far away in the distant future (but somehow in the past) I will look again when I have the extra income to pay a conscript  agent to do all that work for me.

Until then I will re-purpose the efforts I have spent looking for an agent and become my own agent.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Helpful hints...

I was writing notes as I edited book one and thought it might be helpful to share with everyone.
Enjoy...

You need to consider ALL of this chapter. Clarify the conflict. Weed out the unnecessary. Build up the important points so that they POP out at the reader.