Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday Madness is Wednesday's Plot

Tuesday was a butt ugly, terrible day. My new Droid, with the hotspot I depend upon to reach the Internet, crashed for the second time in two weeks. Customer service is sending me a new phone and are mystified by the software glitch. "It shouldn't do that," the friendly technician said. The replacement arrives tomorrow. Then, really bad things happened to drag me down to Dante's seventh ring of Hell. No details, but I've been dragged through enough dirt, innuendo, back-stabbing, lies, half-truths, legal posturing (always by people who don't have a law degree) to plot my next book. It'll be PEYTON PLACE meets AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY meets WATERGATE, but will probably sound more like THE HARPER VALLEY PTA. Every two or three pages, Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne will turn to each other and say, "How dumb can someone be?" Well, maybe not dumb, but certainly misguided and insensitive beyond belief.

So, from where are you getting material and thoughts for your next novel?

Monday, June 27, 2011

MMWUC: Lesson's Learned

Whether you've been to the Writer's Retreat Workshop these past 10 days, are cutting grass, promoting your upcoming novel, "Naked and Hungry", or have just released your 5-star debut novel, "Penelope and the Birthday Curse," you've done and learned something. That's what life is all about. From one moment to the next, everything changes. Even if you're semi-conscious on your pink couch, drinking warm Rolling Rock and eating old pork rinds, while watching a C*O*P*S episode for the fourth time, and wishing for Tyra Banks to join you, nothing is ever the same from moment to moment. And so it is with your stories. If your story is not moving along, if your protagonist isn't getting closer to attaining (or failing to attain) his/her/its story-arc goal, that is, the quest that they're on throughout the entire story (and every story is a quest for something), then why am I bothering to read your novel?

How are you moving the story along? For my book, Detective Stark is cutting his grass, because it's long, and he ruminates about his latest case, making connections of clues that he can't do when his brain is occupied with the steady stream of life. For me, it's time to pick the garden.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Mystery of a Mystery

I've been cleaning out computer files, paper files, nail files, and forgotten files this past week. Sometimes, I come across something I wrote a long time ago. It usually triggers a happy memory, shortly before I bury it again in another file label, "Not Until After I'm Dead." But one file I came across is an outline for a mystery, complete with some character sketches, and an almost complete outline. It's an electronic file, and I can't imagine someone sending me something so clean, if a bit incomplete, for a critique. But, I have absolutely no memory of having written this in 2005. I'm afraid to pick it up again and work on it, fearing it might actually be someone else's and all the work I do with it might be for nothing.

Has this ever happened to you? If so, what did you do about it?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it."

Wednesdays to a week, are like the middle of a novel to a finished novel. The excitement of starting a week refreshed from the weekend has worn off, but the rush to the end of the week hasn't begun yet. In the midst of readying two novels for self-publication, that's where I am with a third one. The middle drags like pulling in a pile of seaweed on your fishing line at the beach. Lots of work. No joy. No pay-off. I should step into the story, and bitch-slap the protagonist like Humphrey Bogart (Sam Spade) to Peter Lorre (Joel Cairo) in "The Maltese Falcon." "Listen here Detective Stark, when you're slapped, you'll take it and like it." Maybe then he'll do something of value in the story. I just have to remember that "tomorrow is just another day." And, it is one day closer to the end of the week, and with each word I write, it gets me closer to the Black Moment, Resolution, and Dénouement. Gee, I'm feeling better already.

So what do you do when you find yourself flagging in the middle of the story?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

MMWUC: To Whom Does Your Antagonist Turn?

Yet again, a line of thunderstorms so powerful and ugly looking that visions of end days passed through my mind. It rumbled and shock, lightening knocked out power to three major malls, and fear ran deep through Sydney's body, as he squawked, fluffed feathers, and sought shelter in his cardboard box next to the oven. And then, the sun peeked out. One mile north of here, they received four inches of rain. At my brother-in-law's four miles south of me, it was a torrential downpour. But, and you've probably already figured it out, I got nothing. Twenty-two straight days and several terrific downpours throughout the area, and I have nothing. So I asked God what he wanted. I thought he said, "First born." Sydney closed the door to his cardboard box.

So, when your antagonist has a moment of doubt, to whom does that person ask for guidance and how does your antagonist as for that advice?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Is It Really Friday Again?

Yes, it is. And I'm still plowing ahead, working on my books, trying to get them ready for world-wide consumption, and having a bit of a panic attack. There's a lot to do when you're the writer, editor, graphic artist, publisher, marketer, and just plan, in what do I do next. My mental inbox of new ideas for new novels is starting to get filled up again, but the reality of wanting my current material published (yeah, I DO want to make a few bucks from it) weighs heavily. Fortunately, I've found final readers for the books who are now sharpening their pens, electrons, and wits to give me feedback. Maybe this weekend I can jot some ideas down in the electronic idea box I keep online for story ideas. How do you handle your overload of story ideas? Just do it? Give them away? Allow them to decay naturally?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Steve Jobs & Lady Gaga United

I'm up to my eyeballs wading through marketing options for my books due to come out starting this summer and through 12/21/2012, the fall of civilization, according to the Mayan Calendar. Social media (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.) are necessary time drains that I have to address. And then, a writing friend sends me this link to Lady Gaga and Steve Jobs of Apple and their potential joint venture to tie all the social media in the world into a cloud or mist or thunderstorm or something. We are all connected, at least, that's how some of us feel. And it is especially true for those who have disposable income and want to dispose of it in my direction once I figure out how to leverage social media to my advantage. But what about AtuAtuzuwatta in Botswana? Does he feel connected, too? Does he want to read murder mysteries set in Pennsylvania or North Carolina?

Can you make sense of this article? Or, is this the 21st centuries version of snake oil for which we are all gaga over?

Monday, June 13, 2011

MMWUC - Sydney Ate My Homework

Animals. My wife insists I must have a lovable/evil/faithful/treacherous animal in every story because there are so many pets and pet lovers in the world. People are drawn to pets. People will hate the villain when he/she/it hurts an animal...even more so than when he hurts the human protagonist. They are so vulnerable, helpless (well, except for pit bulls, alligators, and pit vipers), and often cute. So, after one book with only a couple of walk-ons by Rin-Tin-Tin and a hapless rainbow trout, I hereby promise to include an animal in every book from now on. Sydney, my pet cockatiel currently sitting on my shoulder, agreed and said, "Me first." Wise guy. We'll see. So do you consciously put an animal in your stores or do they just happen to wind up there because the story went in that direction? Inquiring guppies want to know.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Penelope And The Proud Poppa

I met Ron Voigts in January, 2001. We've shared a journey full of critique groups that came and went, rejections, disappointments, and finally, for Ron, a place in the sun. His first published book, Penelope and the Birthday Curse, is up on Amazon for your ebook consumption. Though it was first out on Smashwords (SW) two weeks ago, the sight of it on Amazon seems to carry a more official stamp of legitimacy. This is not a slam on SW, but a perception that I have based on Amazon's consider weight in the marketplace. Penelope is a YA/Tweener mystery that has enough adult humor and action to be an enjoyable read on the beach while creating a home for melanoma; during an eight-hour, weather-delayed flight on the tarmac in Riga, Estonia; or sitting in the dentists office, trying to decide if you should wait your turn or flee. Congratulations, Ron, and here's hoping y'all will take a look at a book that came within a whisker of being swooped up by several publishers. It's a five-star start to a promising career.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Writing With Your Leg

It's Wednesday, so it must be physical therapy day for my leg. I've been at it now for almost a month, and the leg is responding though I'm still stiff and in pain and can't go downhill and, and, and, well, it's a pain in the butt, literally and figuratively and monetarily. However, it's also helping and that's were I need to keep my focus, on the end game, not the daily pains and small gains in the interim. It's like revising. I am so very tired of revising and editing one of my stories that I could puke. Yet, each time I set the "finished" product aside for a month. I come back to it and find ways to make it better, more publishable. Each time, there's less and less red ink. When no one notices my limp, I'll know that the trials and tribulations of physical therapy will have been worth it. It's the same with the revising. When my final reader can only find tiny, insignificant little nits, I know I'll be ready to release my baby into the world of publishing, not just to limp along with the teetering mass of less than stellar novels, but at a full gallop leading the herd.

In this age of technology, would writers under the age of thirty understand the red ink analogy?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

What Are Your Characters Reading?

The good Judge Susan Baker ( ) recently asked, "So what are you all reading this summer?" Good question. Some good answers popped up. And they increased, in an odd way, my anxiety that I'm not reading enough or possibly not reading the right stuff. But the real question is, as your protagonist fights your antagonist, "What are these characters reading this summer?" My studious Detective Roger Stark is reading "Crime and Punishment" while Faith Moreno sinks her teeth into "The Kingdom of Childhood". My evil turkey in "The Turkey Chronicles" is reading "To Serve Humans," a book he found made famous on the 1962 television show, "The Twilight Zone". Supposedly, we taste best stewed.

So, what is your protagonist or antagonist reading?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Scary Stuff

Changed the name of my blog today. I hope like heck that I didn't loose my followers (all four of you) or confused everyone else out there in cyberworld. Once my books get published, I'm hoping that this will make it easier for people to find me, read my thoughts without the need to mind-meld (did Spock even once use one of those handi-wipe towelettes that you find near grocery stores before you take a shopping cart to prevent picking up germs from someone who just had eboli or the flu or even the common cold), and, well, brand my name a bit. Perhaps the other 576 Bylinas in the world will find me now. So much to do; so little time, but I'm loving it. Just wish Mother Nature would back off on the late Spring heat and spread the rains around a bit more evenly. My tomatoes are thirsty.