Tag Archives: writing

Saturday Morning Ramblings – 2/25/17

These guys attended my first writing panel and asked some poignant questions.

The first day of Con Nooga went pretty well. I did four panels total. The first two were on writing itself, more the nuts and bolts of how to sit down and write a book. The third was an overview of horror, which I was on because of the Sam Skeen Saga, and the fourth was The Golden Age of Science Fiction. All four were a blast and pretty well attended. I got to see several friends and catch up with them, which is one of the best parts of a con. Here are some images from the show so far. 

Had to park on the roof of the garage.

The cosplayers are arriving.
The magnificent Billy Tackett. If you don’t know his art, check him out
The illustrious Dan Jolley, who is a gracious as he is talented.
My good friend Tamara Lowery, who writes the Waves of Darkness series.
Another dear friend, Shon Medley, who is the director of the literary track this year.

Thursday Night Ramblings 2/23/17

This week has been pretty hectic, so I haven’t had time for a post until tonight. Right now, I’m in Chattanooga, preparing for Con Nooga this weekend. This is my first public appearance in two years, so I’m both excited and nervous. Hopefully it goes well. 

I’m going to attempt a couple of posts from the convention, including images from the show. There are usually some pretty good cosplays at this one, so I’m excited to see what’s in store this year. In the past, I’ve always had a booth but since everything I do is Kindle exvlusive now, I’m free to roam around. 

Also, I’ve gotten a few glimpses at the cover for book five, and so far I’m extremely pleased with the work. Can’t wait to share it with you when it’s ready.

That’s all for now. Check back tomorrow evening for some Con Nooga Ramblings. 

Wednesday Night Ramblings – 2/15/17

TheProfessor

An aspiring writer asked me to share my process for outlining. First, let me say that there’s no one right way to outline. If you find a process that works for you, follow it as long as it feeds your creativity. The process I’ll describe is mine and works for me, but it might not be the best fit for you. So please keep in mind that anything that doesn’t help should be discarded. Only hold onto the pieces that allow your writing to flow. Also, this is my process for outlining a novel, and there are different processes for other types of writing.

My first step is to figure out the beginning and the ending of the book. I need to have a rough idea of those two before I can do anything else. Typically, I’ll sketch out a few notes about each, but for the most part, the details are just in my head. One thing to keep in mind here, however, is that the ending I envision beforehand may not be the final form. In fact, there are almost always changes and alterations as the story comes into focus, but I have a general idea of where the story will stop.

From there, I sketch out each chapter individually, noting the primary scenes. I jot notes to myself on the characters involved and the basic components. These are usually in keyword form that will trigger my memory later. What I try to develop is a skeleton of the entire book so that I have a clear vision of the overall story arc before I begin writing. Much like the ending, the scenes that are developed during the outline may change through the course of the writing, especially as the characters surprise me in the flow of the action.

When I begin writing, I refer back to the outline regularly to make sure I’m staying on track with the overall story, but I also make changes to it as the story evolves. Quite often, I’ll realize that a scene belongs in a different chapter to make time line up, or I’ll scrap one altogether because it’s just not needed. Also, I may realize that a new scene is needed because some details are missing. However, by the time the book is complete, the outline and the book remain relatively consistent with each other.

So that’s my basic process. It ends up being fairly middle of the road between a rigid plotter and a seat of the pants writer, and for me, this allows me the best of both worlds. I have a good idea where I’m going and how I’m getting there, but I also have the latitude to allow the story to grow organically. Hope that this has been useful for you if you’re an aspiring writer, and for the rest of you, I hope this has been an entertaining insight into the mind of a writer.

Thursday Afternoon Ramblings – 2/9/17

TheProfessor

Someone asked me recently what’s the one historical event I would like to witness. For me, the moment I would most like to experience is the birth of the printing press. In my mind, this is the most significant event in human history. Prior to this point, information was centralized in the hands of an elite minority, and populations were controlled through this lack of access to knowledge. The printing press, however, changed the balance. Suddenly, as the mode of production for written works became more efficient and less expensive, a broader spectrum of people were able to participate in the exchange of ideas. This phenomenon gave birth to the Reformation and Renaissance, which in turn gave birth to the democratic revolutions of the 18th century.

The control and dissemination of information are the most powerful forces in the world. Opinions are shaped, trends are controlled, and markets are manipulated through the flow of information. With enough propaganda and misinformation, millions of people can be convinced of any number of falsehoods. Political careers rise and fall in this manner, and with the internet, the spread of false information can take on staggering proportions. Today, we see once again the centralization of information in the hands of an elite minority (just look at how few corporations control every media outlet in the world). However, much like before in human history, diversity of voices can be the panacea for tyranny.

As a side note, there are actually two moments I would like to witness in terms of the birth of the printing press. One, of course, is the Guggenheim Press in 1439, one of the most widely known and celebrated inventions in mankind’s history. However, two hundred years before that, faced with invasion by the Mongols, Korean religious scholars invented their own printing press in order to preserve sacred texts that the Mongols had been destroying. I would love to witness both events and have an opportunity to observe the similarities and differences between the processes of each invention.

Monday Afternoon Ramblings – 1/30/17

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The world is awash in negativity right now. Our newsfeeds are clogged with political diatribes from both sides, and with all the turmoil surrounding the American political circus, the future feels bleak for many people. However, one fact I’ve learned is that regardless of your political beliefs, regardless of what direction you think the country is moving, regardless of whether you support the current administration or are protesting in the streets, if you want your voice to be heard, you will have to persevere and keep working hard at your efforts.

The future belongs to those with stronger will, not necessarily those with righteousness or ability on their side. Your resolve to stick to your principles and work towards your goals are what will be the difference between long-term success and failure. I know this from firsthand, hard-won experience. Life has knocked me down more times than I can count, and each time, I’ve picked myself up and worked a little harder (and smarter) at my endeavors. If you keep your efforts the same, your results will never improve. You absolutely must strive to work harder every day.

No matter what temporary darkness shrouds us, I still believe our brightest days are in the future. I still believe that at its core, humanity is honest, sincere, and peace loving. I still believe that one day we will achieve a society that rewards hard work, embraces diversity, blends competition and cooperation, and provides a safety net so that productive citizens can survive life’s catastrophes. Those of us who dream of that society will have to strengthen our resolve and work that much harder to overcome the turmoils of today.

Tuesday Night Ramblings – 1/25/17

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I was asked by a fan to put together a list of the top 5 things that inspire my writing, so here goes:

5) Movies/TV Shows – At heart I’m a sucker for a good story, so movies and shows that offer a solid plot and compelling characters inspire me to work harder at my craft. My favorite TV series of all time is probably Breaking Bad. I love the way Hank and Walt evolve through the course of the story arc. House was another show that inspired me. The witty dialogue and parallel plots of each episode, along with the seasonal and full series story arcs, are clinics on how to write a serial. I love far too many movies to narrow it down to one or two, but I will say here (and might retell the story soon of how) that The Two Towers actually inspired me to begin work on The Brotherhood of Dwarves series. Most recently, Rogue One stirred me deeply. It was everything I had been wanting in a Star Wars movie since A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

4) Books – I could do a dozen lists on the books that have inspired me, but for the sake of space, I’ll limit it to the one book that has inspired me more than any other in the last couple of years. Once and Eagle by Anton Myrer is quite simply one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. It follows the career of Sam Damon, a career American soldier who serves in both of the world wars and then during the early days of Vietnam. The writing in this book is superb–colorful descriptions, provocative metaphors and similes, exquisite use of POV, and memorable dialogue. His depictions of battle (drawn from his own experience as a Marine in WW II) are hands down the best I’ve ever read, invoking all of the senses to immerse the reader into hellish landscapes that show the horrors of war. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

3) Nature – Anyone who knows me knows that I love the outdoors. If I had unlimited income, my life would be spent finding outdoor activities to be involved in. I love little more than the feel of my hands in the earth and sweat on my brow. Working outdoors, whether it be cutting wood for my stove or tending a garden or clearing brush, recharges my creative batteries and allows my mind to forget the day-to-day distractions that hinder my focus on composition.

2) Music – I love music in most of its forms. I have a playlist that I listen to while I write that varies from Traditional Country to Jazz to Techno to Rock. These songs inspire my creative process and create a buffer between myself and the outside world. In terms of individual artists, I am most drawn to the works of Chris Whitley, Jeff Buckley, Waylon Jennings, and recently Otis Gibbs. I can’t place enough value on the role music plays in not only inspiring my creativity but also in soothing the wrinkles of my soul.

1) My Children – I’ve written before about the role my oldest son played in inspiring me to write again. In fact, my children are the primary reason why The Brotherhood of Dwarves series exists at all. I have written it to share with them a piece of me and to give them a story of heroism, camaraderie, sacrifice, and redemption. Each book in the series is inscribed to them at the beginning, and those inscriptions are my attempt to tell them the roles they have played in my life. In terms of writing, my children make me want to tell better stories and remain true to power of language without reverting to tawdry tricks or fashionable gimmicks. My primary goal as a writer is to write books that one day my sons will point to and with pride in their eyes say, “My father wrote this.”

Monday Morning Ramblings – 1/23/17

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I’ve been through quite a bit in my life. There have been many times when I’ve felt like giving up and quitting. In those dark moments, when despair seems too great to overcome and life feels as if all the joy is gone, it takes a tremendous act of will to remind myself that the darkness never lasts forever. Eventually the sun will rise, the clouds will part, and better days will come again.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned about facing any kind of adversity is this: regardless of the situation, your best approach is to roll up your sleeves and put your energy into doing something productive. Hard work cures so many ills. Productivity makes you feel better about yourself and lessens the pain of whatever you’re facing. Despite already knowing these truths, I have to remind myself of them regularly.

Whatever you may be dealing with in your life, please remember that you can find the strength to face it. You have it in you to overcome even the most desperate of situations if you are willing to maintain a positive attitude and put in the work to accomplish your goals. And if you give it your best effort and fall short, you will still feel better about yourself for having had to courage to try than if you throw up your hands and quit. I’ve learned this from firsthand experience.

I want this blog to return to being a forum for like-minded people to share thoughts about our lives, so please, feel free to comment below with your experiences concerning adversity. Let’s start a conversation and motivate each other to overcome whatever challenges we face. This can be our Motivational Mondays.