Just popping in

I’ve been incredibly busy since last week. I had a house full of company until mid day Sunday. Today was a busy work day.

After work, I went directly to my critique group. All of us were a bit grumpy this month, me included. I delivered a couple of harsher critiques and received some too.

All in all, I think the critiques were beneficial. I have some new things to think about on Will ‘O the Wisp. Joining a critique group isn’t for the faint of heart.

I’m a big believer in critique groups, and am grateful to have a good bunch. Anyone who is looking to improve their writing would be well served to join or start a group.

In other news, I have cover art for The Cock of the South. I have some work to do on it still, but it’s getting published soon. I’ll probably make a separate post about the cover art. Once I get finished traveling, in early November, I’ll work on publishing it.

There will also be another Macabre Macaroni post on Thursday. I admit to missing a few of your blog posts. I promise to make a stab at catching up sometime this week.


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How did that happen?

Old What’s Her Face* took the grandkids to the movies. Something about box trolls or something. I passed, no Clint Eastwood or Bruce Willis.

I wound up finding some writing time. I answered a few more questions for my heroine, and allowed her to flex a little backbone.

Then I tortured my little girl victim some more. She keeps going deeper down the wormhole.

All told, I added 2912 new words to my story. Total word count is 35,220.

Now, of course, it’s an evening of The Garfield Movie, Scooby Doo, and Sky High. (Thank God for Bruce Campbell, and that hot chick who played Velma in Scooby Doo.) Lots of squealing, refusing to eat, and Ninja Turtles all over the floor. I suppose it was about my turn. Pass me a Ninja Turtle.

* Not my wife’s actual name.


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Living documents for writers

This is something I do, and I wondered if anyone else does something similar. The electronic age makes this so easy. It evolved from a work habit at the paycheck job.

I keep living documents in my Pages (Think Word) program. I have one called Writing Lessons, I have others for Paranormal, Editing, and a new one called Cryptids.

Whenever I learn something, or it feels like I’m very close to learning something, I add it to a living document.

Remember these things are only for me, so they aren’t organized in any fashion you would recognize. If you decide to follow suit, you can use Roman numerals, alpha characters or whatever floats your boat.

Here’s an example from one of mine:

Writing Lessons

The Writing Monomyth:

1.) The ordinary world. Show what’s at stake, what might be lost. Think about Dorothy in Kansas.

It goes on through the entire sequence. I add a little reminder to each section that helps me remember, like I did with Dorothy.

After I work through all the steps, I add some notes. Many of these are added later as I pick up new information. They aren’t formal, they’re just notes for me. Here’s some examples at the end of the monomyth section:

Not every step is used in every story. The best stories are about death and rebirth, whether that death is literal or figurative. Westley died, got miracled, and lived happily with Princess Buttercup.

Note: The inciting incident and the call to adventure are usually the same time, but don’t have to be. The shark ate the blonde skinny dipper. Brody is called to the body on the beach later.

Consider using a “Herald” for the call to adventure. Brody (a different Brody) pulls Indy out of class. Someone wants to talk to you. Go to church-like auditorium and meet with Army Intelligence. It build tension and anticipation. It allows for a set piece too.

I get information all kinds of places. I frequent Zite magazine, I have RSS feeds, visit writing bulletin boards, and follow hundreds of blogs. I also own a bunch of instructional books, and my notes go in the living documents.

Earlier this week, I reblogged some good advice from Kristen Lamb’s blog. I added a few lines to my living document.

My living documents always get browsed while I’m at the planning phase. Maybe I need to ramp up the suspense in a story, there’s a category in my living document. If I need Voodoo paraphernalia, consult the Paranormal living document.

Today, Rochelle Deans posted some good advice on theme in our stories. I already knew some of this stuff, but the way she explains it appeals to me. I’m adding more notes when I finish up here. Here’s the link to Rochelle’s blog for you writers out there.

Some of my notes are in the miscellaneous category. They aren’t big enough for a separate category. One example:

Many good main characters are a mix of two helpers. Kirk is caught between McCoy’s have fun spirit and Spock’s logic. Luke is a mixture of Obi Wan & Han Solo.

I embellished, but didn’t write this stuff. Does anyone else do something like this?

My wife took the grandkids to some sort of Disney Princesses on Ice show. It’s right next door to the BSU game, and my son and his wife are at the game. I hope my wife found a parking place about 10:00 this morning. That left grandpa with time for a longer blog post.

(An aside: can you imagine the kind of story I could write using the name Disney Princesses on Ice? I’d need to order a lot of body bags.)


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Follow Friday Draft: Travel, Taking a Family Abroad, and Stories


Hey gang, Entertaining Stories got a little blog love today. Pop on over to Grasshopper Girls and check it out.

Originally posted on Grasshopper Girls:

The first blog I’d like to take you to in this week’s edition of Follow Friday is Tanto Verde.  This is a food blog started by a young woman to support her vegan friend.  Now, I’ll be honest.  I’m no vegan.  But that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy these recipes, right?  To me, labels like “vegan” or “vegetarian” don’t draw lines of exclusion.  Rather, I view them as just another tab in my mental cookbook.  I mean, just look at this pesto recipe!  The other thing I really enjoy about this blog is Anna’s unique perspective.  She was born in the USSR and she talks about travel and actually does travel with a fierce need.  Don’t just read this blog for the recipes.  Read it for the commentary that Anna gives us on culture and multiculturalism.

Next, let’s go to Australia to visit A Momma’s View

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Thursday means Macabre Macaroni

I feel like I’m mathematically still in the wild card race. It would take some doing, but I could still reach 666 followers by Halloween. I’ve made great strides, but it’s looking like a long shot. If you enjoy this story, please feel free to re-blog it. It might help me reach my goal.


I explained to the third visitor today that Gillydoc wasn’t real. He was a silly story made up by a shopkeeper outside the park to make sure all the tourists stopped by his store. They decided their kids needed a photo with the statue outside the store anyway. Most of them do.

I clocked off and headed down the canyon toward my assigned cabin. The radio call got my attention, but it broke up. All I managed to hear was “missing tourist.”

It was easier to take the main highway around than the narrow winding road directly through the park. I made my way to a high point and checked in. Janice said a young woman was missing, and she would check the cliffs to see whether any climbers were stranded. James was at the campground interviewing the other campers.

“Got it, Jan. I’ll go around to the west entrance and check Beech Creek. Those gravel sifters have been back. Maybe she’s one of them.”

I merged into the line of heavy Saturday traffic and headed past Crowsey’s store. It was your typical rubber tomahawk shop if there ever was one. Old Crowsey had a Gillydoc story for all occasions. Families waited in line for a chance to get a picture with his wooden statue.

It’s ridiculous how intelligent people buy into some kind of monster story. Now Beech Creek, that was real. Millions of dollars in star gems, almost like sapphires, came from those gravels. The ground was littered with them, but only a rare few were good enough to make into a gem. The rest crumbled under the grinding required. It’s a good thing too, or the park would have become a pit mine before it was ever established. Some tourist was always washing through the gravel, hoping to pay for his vacation. I made six arrests last month.

The Beech Creek Campground was packed. I slowed down, but didn’t notice anything unusual. Just before the bridge I spotted tire tracks in the mud of a closed road. I turned off and headed down the ridge.

A small red coupe was parked near an old trailhead to the hot springs. No one was around, and I called the plates in. This would take some time, we aren’t exactly metropolitan out here.

A college girl probably met someone in the park and decided to go skinny dipping. I grabbed my flashlight and headed up the trail.

There was only one set of tracks, and they were small. If she wasn’t our missing camper, she was in a closed area and at least I could get a ticket out of the deal.

The tracks veered off toward Beech Creek before they got near the hot springs. It was getting dark so I turned on my light. A sandy spot in the trees Showed where she’d kicked around in some crumbled stones. Yeah, one good one would put you through college. Is that what’s up tonight? Hell a good one would get me my masters and a post at Yellowstone or Denali.

Tracking got tougher in the mossy parts of the forest. I lost the trail completely for a while. It was because her strides lengthened. She must have been in a hurry to get to the creek, or so I thought. She turned upstream before she ever got to the water.

I lost the trail at a big rock outcrop, and circled looking for tracks. There was more gem gravel, but she hadn’t dug here. I nearly sprained my ankle in an ancient pit. These were from the old days where miners tried to find the source of the gems in the creek.

I sat on a rock to rub out my ankle, and spied a few broken branches from my lower vantage point. Blood painted one of the twigs. I moved the branches around and found a bit more blood. I admit feeling for my pistol before moving forward. There were bears in the park, but it had been years since anyone had a problem.

That’s when I saw it. An actual gemstone secure in the outcrop. People looked all around these rocks for a hundred years and managed to miss it.
It wasn’t just any stone either. This one was as big as a grapefruit. Even the Smithsonian didn’t have one this big. I stared at it for a long time. The center of the star drew my eye, and golden rays spread to the edges along a field of midnight blue. Tiny golden flecks sparkled at the outer edges.
Hell, I wouldn’t need a masters with a stone like this. I could pick up a mansion in Miami and live well for the rest of my life.

It was just as illegal for me to steal it as the missing tourist. Still, I knew where it was. I could come back after getting the tourist off the ridge.
I raised my flashlight for one last look. It was the most gorgeous arrangement of blue and gold I’d ever seen.

Then, it blinked.


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Found a new appliance

Long time readers may recall a post where I griped about appliances that have replaceable filters for no apparent reason. One of the targets of my wrath was a room humidifier. It makes water vapor; why does it need to make filtered vapor? I finally threw the damned thing away because it was getting expensive to feed it filters. This may seem like a silly thing to have to many of you. You live in a coastal region, or possibly the deep US south where it’s always humid. Let me tell you, the western US can get dry. This isn’t limited to summer either. When the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and stays there for a month, it gets dry. Noses start to bleed, and sinus problems escalate. (Just a little detour to help you understand). Last winter, I got by with a tea kettle boiling all the time, but this isn’t the safest option. Old What’s Her Face* found a Target flyer and showed me these humidifiers that were on sale. We went to Target, and they do not have a filter to replace every six days or so. Best of all, they were cheap.

Looks like an oversize Kleenex box.

Looks like an oversize Kleenex box.

The vent on top looks like the graphic from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. At the sale price, I actually bought two of them. My wife and I both noticed an immediate improvement in our sinuses. If they croak; they weren’t that expensive to begin with. They were only slightly more expensive than a filter for that old POS. They are small too, and tuck out of the way easily. Many of you won’t have dryness problems. Those of you who do might appreciate this find. *Not my wife’s actual name.


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8 Elements to NAILING Your Plot & Owning NaNo


I don’t do a lot of re-blogs, but Kristen is on fire today. Everyone who writes, or wants to, should look at this today. She makes a hard issue so simple.

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:

Attack of the Killer Plot Bunny. That rabbit is DYNAMITE!

Attack of the Killer Plot Bunny. That rabbit is DYNAMITE!

I promised not to leave you guys hanging with my last post. Now that I have a lot of you beating your shields ready for NaNo, I’m going to give you battle tactics to come out victorious (or maybe at least alive).

Sure, NaNo is great to just learn to turn off the Inner Editor and get those 50,000 words DOWN. But, if in the end, all we have is a gelatinous ooze that eats people and attacks the city? They call in the National Guard to take out our WIP, because no revision can tame it.

What to do? This post is incredibly redacted, but it’s a blog. So roll with it ;) .

These tips will work for any novel, but they are SUPER important in NaNo, lest we write ourselves into the Corner of NO Escape by…

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