Tag Archives: Writer

Hamlet and Yoda Got it Right

The word aspiring is a load of crap. 

Ok, sure. The word holds the feelings of hope, determination, and perseverance, which is awesome. It is a great word. But in the context of which I’m talking about, it’s a waste of time.

For years I lived under the title of “Aspiring Writer”. I dreamt of the day when I would be able to tell people, “why yes! I am a writer!” I would then smile proudly, full of mirth and merriment. Yes, for years I looked forward to that day when I would able to shed “Aspiring” from my professional title. And then, one day, I realized something which became quite profound in my writer-y path.

I’m a writer. I write. Whether I’m published or not, whether I make a bazillion dollars or not, whether I rise to the lofty levels of the greatest literary minds or not, I sit down and make stuff up in story form. So, I don’t buy into the whole aspiring adjective thing. I have three stories published to date, and a Young Adult Mini-Series in the works, hoping to be finished sometime in the future (details to follow sometime).

So, if you’re like me, and like to make stuff up (or non-make stuff up), don’t aspire. You are “to be” and “not to be”. And please “do”, as their is no try.

Cheers.

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He Who Laughs Last by Dave Sokolowski

He Who Laughs Last

HWLLI’ve known about Kickstarter for a while now: a website created to promote independent projects such as film, books, software, and games. With the rise of websites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, the word “crowdfunding” was created. The premise of Crowdfunding is to get a group of people to pledge money to a project they would like to see completed. Each project has a certain amount of days to be funded and. if that time it does not get fully funded, then those people that pledged money get it all back and the project goes back to the drawing board. It’s a pretty cool premise and one that I fully support.

That being said, I would like to talk about one project in particular. Dave Sokolowski’s “He Who Laughs Last” is a role-playing game supplement set in H.P. Lovecraft’s world of horror and madness, also referred to as, “Call of Cthulhu”. The idea behind Call Of Cthulhu is that a group of people get together, each role-playing an “investigator” and act out their role through a constructed story line. Think of it as an improv troupe on an old radio drama. One other person in the group is the storyteller, a combination writer/director, who guides the group through the story. It’s alot of fun spending an evening solving riddles and uncovering terrible secrets, all the while trying to not go insane.

So much fun.

“He Who Laughs Last” is published under Dave’s Weird 8, the first of his self-published projects. His story has received high praise from within the role-playing world. He currently has two videos on the project’s Kickstarter page, both of which paint a great picture of Dave’s personal history in the genre along with an overview of He Who Laughs Last.

I highly recommend supporting this project and pledging any amount would be fantastic. I would love to see Dave’s first project be a successful one.

Cheers.

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Readwave and Scribd: places for writers & readers

Quick and informative post about reader/writer sites:

Dr Suzanne Conboy-Hill - finding fiction

Readwave is a well-presented site for writers-looking-for-readers and readers looking for something bite-sized to read. Anyone can post a piece of flash (800 words – longer pieces have to be broken up) and your stats are clocked up next to each entry. While I’m not sure that a ‘read’ always means what it says, you do at least know someone looked and that your treasured bit of prose isn’t all on its lonesome any more. Upload is a simple copy/paste process with boxes for title and short description, and a place to put tags.

There is a limited range of images available as headers which are rather nice but for variety and relevance, you might want to source your own. Copyright-free of course, or keeping it in-house, something you chased up on Photoshop.

Scribd is an option for longer pieces which are uploaded as documents . If you want an…

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Milestones Reached!

Milestone!

I’m so happy to report that I have completed Part Three of my four-part novel, “Jac and the City of 1,000 Worlds.” Even though it’s taken me the better part of forever, I’m ecstatic to reach this goal. While I would love to finish the book by this September (I have something forming on the horizon), I’m not going to freak out if I don’t. Like I said in my last post, as long as I continue on, even putting down no more than one single word, I will be achieving my goal.

For those who know me (and, for those that don’t, you will know me once I tell you what I’m about to tell you, so now we’re practically besties), it’s been a bit of a rough road these past 10 years. Of course, there have been some truly amazing and awe-inspiring events, such as my wife actually saying, “I do”, witnessing the birth of our beautiful children, and waking up each morning knowing, even with all that we’ve faced and overcome, how blessed I am.

So here I am, looking back on the past 12/120 months and then look to what the future has in store for me. I’m starting the first year of a new decade and I’ve decided it’s going to be a positive one. I have new goals to reach, new pathways to explore, and new ways to teach and be taught. I’m excited. Scared…but it’s an excited scared, if that makes sense. I look forward to the challenges and mysteries of what tomorrow has to offer. But, of course, I’m not going to forget the joys and miracles that today has to offer. I know I’m blessed. I know, as long as I have my family and friends to support and encourage me, I will reach the next goal and continue to have a wonderful life.

Cheers.

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Introducing Prof. Dobbs’ Literary PRIMER for the Extraordinary!

‘Prīmər  New-England_Primer

noun.

1. A small introductory book on a subject.

2. A short informative piece of writing.

Welcome ladies and gentlemen! Salutations pupils and experts! My name is Stasey Norstrom and I am the Managing Editor for Professor Dobb’s Literary Primer For The Extraordinary. I have graciously accepted the task of tending to the professor’s ever-expanding library and sharing them in monthly installments. Each issue is dedicated to those new to these exciting realms and to those experts in the field looking to broaden their horizons and continue their education.

With each issue of what I commonly call Primer, you will find a wonderful collection of stories, essays, and reviews pertaining to the gritty and delicate world of Steampunk, as well as historical fiction and alternate historical fiction. You’ll find everything from sky pirates and debutantes to civil war automatons and roman pneumatics. It’s what I call science fiction of futures’ past.

Pull up a chair with your ladies’ group or sit back in your reading room with a snifter of brandy and enjoy our words of other-worldly wisdom.

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IndieReCon

Indierecon-logo4

Now, let me first start by saying I love where I live. It’s a small town of 2,200 and we’re the largest of 5 towns around a “major” city of about 14,000 people. Yes, it’s small. We’re about an hour’s drive from somewhere else and about 2 1/2 hours away from an actual city. The kind of city which has really good food–not just “good enough”–and toilets that flush themselves. Since civilization is so far away, it’s not often that one gets a chance to enjoy such things, let alone special events such as concerts, the choice to see a movie other than the 3 offered in town, and what I’ve affectionately dubbed “Word Nerd Herding”. Other people refer to this as Literary Events or Conventions or Seminars or other such gathering-type noun.

I used to live outside of Portland, Oregon, and there is a great annual literary “festival” (add that to the list) called Wordstock. I’m sure there are dozens of them across the country and hundreds abroad. Unfortunately, living where I do, it make’s it a bit challenging to make a six-hour drive one way to attend a seven or eight-hour festival and then drive back. And even if I stayed over-night, It’s still a lot of expensive driving back and forth.

So…what to do?

A short while back I met a fellow novelist, S.R. Johannes, and from her site I learned about IndieReCon. IndieReCon states they are “the premiere online writer’s conference for the independently minded”. After looking through the site and what was being offered, the conclusion I came to was…cool.

The conference (missed that noun too) is run by and focused towards the self-published “Indie” writers, which many authors nowadays have become. Now, one of things that has drawn me to this conference is the location and admission fees:

Online and free.

That’s a nice combination.

I’m signed up for next year’s gathering scheduled the weekend of 2.19.13-2.21.13. I think it’ll be interesting to see how the virtual conference goes. I hope to make some new acquaintances  and attend some panels with people scattered across the planet. That sounds pretty cool.

Check it out.

I’ll…see?…you there.

Cheers.

-SJn

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Hunting High & Low For People I Don’t Know

Circles

Circles (Photo credit: Fillmore Photography)

Before we begin, I must preface this piece with these words: I tend to draw out the negatives of something before looking at the positives. I find this a bad thing. Nothing like confirming your own fears. Now, that aside, let us proceed.

Calling all writers & readers & in-betweeners:

I’ve been told by a few people that one of the best ways to progress with my novel is to find others in the process of writing their novels. Equal parts therapy group and motivation group, being a part of these groups can help develop one’s story while, at the same time, assist in maintaining one’s sanity. I’ve heard of these writers getting together once and month or so, to share their writings and receive helpful critiques from one another. It seems to be a, “takes a crazy one to know and work with one.”

So, in this arena, I have two possible issues with this notion. The first issue is I currently reside in a major metropolis of 2,200 people and the closest area is even larger with a populace of approximately 13,000. While the possibility of finding a group is small, there is possibility nonetheless. So this issue isn’t really more of an issue as it might be a scavenger hunt of fellow writers working in the YA and/or adventure genres. Again, not impossible, just, y’know.

The second issue—and this is a bit embarrassing to me—is that I know next to no one who is also working on a novel in this genre. And I do think it’s important to find someone(s) in the same ballpark so they can understand/appreciate what I’m trying to achieve. While I could work with someone writing a deep literary piece about two souls trapped alone together (yep, all chock full of metaphors), the other writer and I may not be on the same creative page and therefore might be able to give the best critiques. If your mindset is about a young socially awkward tomboy thrust into a struggle between the waning light and encroaching darkness. But there’s also clockwork soldiers and anthropology and snow globes and a touch of magic thrown in for good measure. I love it. Again, maybe this isn’t an issue either as it is more of a(n) (ir)rational of mine. I’m sure it’s the second option.

See? Not that I can find people and it may take a bit of searching, it’s I hope I can do it. Guh. Don’t tell my wife. It drives her nuts. Me too.

I just chatted with a one Susan Kaye Quinn (a great person and writer) and she directed me to her site where she has a bunch of people listed who could possibly start up or bring me into their writer’s circle to begin the process. Of course she also suggested I “FINISH THE NOVEL” and then go from there. Geez. Get all rational and stuff.

That may take some time, but it never hurts to start looking for people. Finishing my novel would help too.

Off I go.

Cheers.

Ps. See? That last part was pretty positive. Or maybe not. I think I have issues with my positivity. Damn.

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“Next”

English: Dead tree Deutsch: Abgestorbener Baum

English: Dead tree Deutsch: Abgestorbener Baum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Weathered hands take turns holding up her head and running though her hair, locking knuckles to keep from doing either. Shoulders sit too high, pressed against her head to keep it from crashing onto the counter. She barely stands, an uprooted tree with a too frail trunk struggling to keep her knobby limbs attached. Her blonde canopy is thin, withered and cracked with bleach. A growing nest of dark roots perch on top.

Another woman behind the counter smiles, patient, yin to frustrated yang. She has warm chocolate  eyes and cheeks creased with years of smile and laughter.

“Copay,” falls out of the dead tree’s mouth, consonants hard and cold. Weak fingers reach inside her purse and nerves take over. Contents fly like shrapnel: a cell phone snaps awake, a too-big keychain rattles the room awake. She socially attempts to ignore the two tampons and shoves everything back inside. She finds her prize and tosses it onto the counter.

“Here,” and her insurance card falls dead into the happy woman’s lap.

Welcome to the Waiting Room.

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Coulda Shoulda Woulda: Rethinking the Rewrite During the Write

Mobile phone

Mobile phone (Photo credit: Matthew Burpee)

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.” – Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

I was right in the middle of working on my book when a notion popped into my head:

Wait a minute. Maybe if I move critical point #1 to physical location #3, then I could do away with physical location #2 which, while it could be great, may not be neccessary, so I could just pull the last 80 pages of the book and resctructure the book entirely. Granted that would kill months of work and possibly the outcome of the orignial intent of the book but would that help?

Back in the day, I would drive myself nuts trying to perfect each senctence I just wrote and then trying to perfect the sentence I was about to write. I convinced myself perfecting the prose would bypass the need for a rough-draft rewrite. Even though I embraced my love of perfectionism, I would talk to wife and complain that I had spent hours to only end up completing one paragraph on my book. After a while of me whining and complaining to my wife again, she would cut me off with, “just finish the damn book already! Quit worrying about every little detail and just write! Don’t even stop for typos. As a matter of fact, turn off the grammar and spell checker and just write. Get it all out and worry about all the commas and crap later.”

One of the main things that I love/hate about my wife is that she’s (always) right. It kind of drives me nuts some/all of the time, but in this particular situation I listened to her and have done my best to embrace completing what she, like Anne Lamott calls, the Shitty First Draft.

I’ve second quessed myself for most of my writing career with few exceptions, namely the projects that I’ve actually finished. Crazy that: I’ll finish a short story or a blog post. Then I’ll go back and read through it to make sure it’s, well…good. But one of the best parts of writing something is getting to the end and then spending a moment looking back at it and thinking, “holy crap. I just wrote [insert project]. Awesome.”

Earlier, I caught myself thinking about my Coulda Woulda Shoulda and stopped. I thought back to what my wife said. Here I actually considered tossing a huge chunk of my book and then spending a good chunk of my time rewriting another part of it. And the crazy thing is that it might have worked but on the other hand it might NOT have worked. I sure wouldn’t know if either direction would be best because I would still be clinging onto my perfectionism and not doing the one thing that I should have tatooed on my forehead:

Finish it.

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miTunes: the voices in my head can harmonize

Treble clef with transposition

Treble clef with transposition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love music.

While it may sound a little cheesey to say music feeds the soul, I find music can help recharge my internal battery or calm my emotional storm. And not only do I love music on a deeply personal level, I find discovering a film score or collection of songs can take me and my writing to a whole other level.

All the way back to high school, I recall putting together “soundtracks”. While others simply refered to them as mixed tapes, I always seemed to wrap a theme around the songs. At first the tapes started out as “fast songs” and “slow songs” and, as an old friend simply called his tape, “good stuff” (for fear of getting in trouble with his parents, he refrained from originally wanting to name his mix “great shit”).

A few years after high school, I began working on my comic series, Chance and I stumbled across a couple of songs that fit the theme of my series perfectly. Next thing I knew, I was digging through my collection of music, looking for the perfect songs to put together. My search soon spilled over into other’s music and, a few weeks later, I had completed my very first soundtrack.

Across the past 20 years I have assembled a soundtrack for every story I’ve written. From Nine Inch Nails and Sisters of Mercy to Enya and John Williams, each soundtrack has helped me find my voice and draw inspiration from. A good portion of my book, Jac And The City Of 1,000 Worlds, takes place in the fantastical and otherworldly city of Meridian. Looking through my collection, I found myself listening to a collection of Enigma, Loreena McKennitt, and Dead Can Dance, along with the score to Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone. Now that the story has moved to a setting in late 1800’s London, my musical choices are shifting more towards the latter Harry Potter films (darker, heavier) the steampunk group Abney Park and the ghost-trance Burial.

Music means a lot to me on many different levels. Not only can can music convey love and despair, but it can also invoke  the world in my mind and the cast of characters residing inside.

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