Tag Archives: writing talent

My Stop on the Writing Process Blog Tour

This particular blog tour has been awesome. I’ve read dozens and dozens of these and enjoyed all of them. It’s helpful to know that we all go about things differently, and yet aim for the same goals.

I was invited by two different bloggers to participate, and I’m thrilled. These are both blogs I really enjoy.

The first one is Karen over at My Train of Thoughts On and In a Small Compass. She’s been very helpful to me, and I can’t say enough nice things about her. Please visit her blogs and give a thought to following her.

The other invite came from Michelle Joelle over at Soliloquies. When she invited me she called Entertaining Stories, “One of the most fun writing blogs I’ve ever found.” She’s obviously a genius. Please visit her blog and give her a follow too. You can learn a lot from a genius.

Now it’s time for the tour questions:

What am I working on?  I knew almost two years ago that I wanted to self publish some of my old stories. I put it off for a long time, because writing new material is just so much fun. The self publishing part, well it isn’t, to put it bluntly. I started this blog to do a bit of self promotion and to learn from others. The blog took on a life of its own, and has been the best part so far.

I’ve been putting all my efforts into getting the older work out there. I have a new idea that’s begging me to start, but sometimes you have to pick a lane and drive in it.

I’ve met some amazing cover artists, learned what it takes to get permission from a Copyright holder, struggled to write blurbs, and studied Amazon’s promotional tools until my brain hurts. I’ll get to a point where all the old material is posted one day. After that, the smarter Craig won’t have much trouble forging ahead.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? I’m a little bit pragmatic here. I’m of the school where every story has already been told. What makes any of our stories different is what we bring to the table.

Nobody has lived my life. My experiences are unique, and I try to include a bit of that in my tales. I grew up in a very small town that was isolated by distance from the rest of the world. There are still places in my home county where you can get a hundred miles from the nearest house. My every day world was a page from an earlier era, and I try to include some of that when it’s appropriate.

Why do I write what I do? I try to write the kind of stories I want to read. I get tired of the evening news, celebrity gossip, and reality shows. My work is escapist. If that’s a bad thing, so be it.

I like stories where the little guy overcomes the odds. This isn’t saying it’s going to be easy for my character. I like stories that end a bit differently. They might not be the standard “happily ever after”, but I think they work.

I always write about a world we don’t have access to otherwise. My wheelhouse is science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. If you enjoy stories like that, I’ve got a couple of books to tell you about.

Then there’s my blog, which has become a writing project all on its own. My characters never really leave me when the story ends. They show up in my blog from time to time, like old friends coming to visit. I don’t believe in posting random chapters of work, because those who miss chapter one have no reason to read anything else. So I create new bits of fiction using my characters in hopes that you’ll want to read their novels.

How does my writing process work? (Process? There has to be a process?) I have random thoughts all the time. I enter these into the Notes app on my iPhone, because it’s always with me. When one of these ideas sprouts like a seed, I make some notes with my fountain pen into a notebook for just that purpose.

I dwell on notebook items until a story creates itself. Then I outline it. I use a storyboard app and move index cards around while paying attention to three act structure. While I could make a card per chapter, I don’t. I add in what has to happen between the important parts to set up each section. This is when I start writing. This let’s me free flow as the characters take over. If I have to, I change the outline.

Other than that, it’s setting an alarm to get up early, add a quart or so of black coffee, and forge ahead. I don’t set daily goals, and am satisfied with forward motion of any kind.

I always read my last chapter before typing the first word. Some folks recommend not doing this, but I prefer it. I’m a weekend warrior with a full time job. I’m simply not able to write every day. I like to remember whether it’s mid day heat, evening snow, windy, and other details before I start.

I’m not afraid to stop mid sentence and go online for research. Sometimes you just need to know a few details about crossroads magic or how to shrink a head. I never have a problem returning to the writing.

The self promotion part: This is still one of my weaker areas. I just don’t like being in your face about it all the time. I’ll simply tell you what I have available today, and wilt if you don’t check it out.

Wild Concept is a science fiction tale about robotics. Atlantic Robotics borrowed a page from the auto industry and decided to build a concept robot. They crammed all the newest cutting edge technology into it and watched as it learned and grew. The robot, Lisa, was debuted as a spokes model for the company. When they decide to tear her down at the end of her experiment, she has different ideas. The cover is off to the right, and I’d appreciate it if you’d click on it and check it out.

Panama is set during the building of the Panama Canal. It’s a paranormal story where people from all over the world converge on Panama to build the canal. This means magic from all over the world converged on the canal too. Ethan and Coop are sent to deal with a problem plaguing the construction workers. What they find is the Panamanian bid for independence, a Colombian army, and a Carlist zealot who wants to replace the King of Spain and reclaim all the Spanish territories in the New World. There’s witchcraft, a demon, deadly wildlife, voodoo, shamanism, yellow fever, prejudice, and cowboys. Literally fun for everyone. The cover off to the right is a link. Click on it, all the cool kids are doing it.

Passing the torch:

I have to pass this blog hop on to two other amazing bloggers for next weekend. It’s been fun, but these people are fun too. I really encourage you to check out their blogs and give them a follow.

Michael J. McDonagh is a wealth of information. I’ve learned a lot about Copyright and other deep subjects from him. He lives in Boise, just like me. He’s also a fisherman, a sourdough, and all around good guy. I believe he’s a recovering attorney, but I won’t hold that against him. Please give him a visit, and watch for his Writing Process next weekend.

Sarah J Carlson is an American living in Singapore. How is that not cool? She is a great resource for cultural melting pot ideas. She’s already done the blog tour once, and generously offered to do it again when I asked. Anyone with that much enthusiasm for writing has to be interesting. Check her out too. I think you’ll find her interesting.

Thank you to the wonderful bloggers who passed me the torch. Thank you to the wonderful people who accepted the torch from me. Make sure to check out their blogs, and give a thought to following them.

26 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Writing

The Fool’s Journey, Part Five

These titles are starting to sound like the sections in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. I did it to keep the posts in order.

This is where the journey ends. These last cards in the Major Arcana can also help with stories, but not usually the kind I write. I call the blog Entertaining Stories for a reason. I’m more about blowing crap up than ascending to a higher plane. This doesn’t mean there aren’t some good stories in this area, and you might be writing one right now.

Just in case someone finds this a year from now and wants to see the others, here are the links:

  1. Let’s go on the Fool’s Journey.
  2. The Fool’s Journey, Part Two.
  3. The Fool’s Journey, Part Three.
  4. The Fool’s Journey, Part Four.
Our fool has become a pretty mature fellow at this point. In my mind, the last three cards are reserved for tales of absolution. I remember reading Siddhartha in high school, at gun point. Those are the kind of tales we’ve moved into.
 
I’m not saying they’re bad, mind you. I just didn’t see any phasers, katana, or dwarves in them.
 
image
 
The next phase of the journey is called the sun. Words to describe the sun are: wonder, contentment, happiness, vitality, and innocence.
 
The sun is usually represented as a child on a white horse riding with the radiant sun at his back, while carrying a red flag. My Celtic deck is close. I wouldn’t exactly call this horse white, and the kid has a red harp. If you get the idea of rejuvenation and a fresh start, that’s the main point.
 
In my mind he isn’t quite there. The fool is still traveling. This is the point where the confusion of the moon clears and the fool moves forward.
 
I suppose it could be that moment in The Natural when Roy Hobbs wakes up in the maternity ward. His best girl is there with him, and he doesn’t know what he’s going to do. The instant he decides to play one last baseball game is The Sun.
 
image
 
The next card is called Judgment. I don’t know why my deck chose to go with Rebirth, but there you have it. The standard card has an angel blowing a trumpet while people rise up from graves. My card has a trumpeter and the child emerging from a crypt.
 
This card symbolizes the St. Peter moment before the pearly gates. It’s the resurrection story. Our fool is something new now. Words to describe this card are: Judgment, rebirth, absolution, redemption, salvation, and renewal.
 
The old fool is gone. This new fool has excellent judgment and is ready for whatever comes next.
 
I don’t read, or watch, a lot of highbrow stuff. The example that works for me is Bruce Wayne giving up the billionaire playboy and Stately Wayne Manor in favor of the bat cave. Bruce Wayne becomes a character played occasionally by Batman. Batman is something new, he works for a greater good. (Okay, maybe that was a lame example.)
 
image
 
The World marks the end of the journey. This card is represented as a young nude, usually an amalgamation of male and female. This symbolizes mastery over those traits that are considered either male or female. The work ethic of the magician and the imagination of the high priestess. The nude is surrounded by four distinct items. Sometimes they represent the elements, sometimes the major zodiac constellations, in this case the four tarot suits. The symbols denote mastery over all these distinct items.
 
The fool is perfect now. Words associated with the world are: fulfillment, success, mastery, and accomplishment.
 
As an example, the best I can come up with is Peter Sellers walking on water in the ending scene of Being There.
 
I know my examples are lame, folks. This end of the deck is a little more high brow than where I prefer to spend my time.
 
***
 
Assessment:
 
As a plot structure, I think The Fool’s Journey works. There are others out there that might be better.
 
The first half dozen or so cards are useful for developing a character and giving him an environment to operate in. There are several wonderful opportunities to knock him on his ass and give him something to overcome.
 
For me, The Fool’s Journey starts too soon and ends too late for a novel. I can see where many novels will fit within a narrower version of these cards though.
 
Many times, I find inspiration in art. There are bits and pieces from this deck in some of my stories.
 
As a writer, I’m just as likely to snitch a piece of my story from fairy tale structure, add a bit of the hero’s journey, knead it into a three act format, and sprinkle with a dash of tarot cards. I bake it all up at an imaginary place I call the writing cabin.
 
You have to do what works for you. It never hurts to have another tool in your kit.

4 Comments

Filed under Writing

Is there snobbery among writers?

I’m not certain I believe this, but I’m going to throw it out for the sake of discussion. I need to explain myself before I get into it, but I’ll be brief.

Here’s why writing appeals to me. It’s where I come from as a writer. I found this quote on the The Art of Manliness:

Choose to struggle with something – We live in a culture of the quick and the easy, and it has made us impatient and lazy. When you commit to something that takes work and see it through to the end, it will develop you as much as you develop it. — Jake Weidmann

That’s why I’m here. It’s a zen target where perfection doesn’t exist, and I want to keep improving.

We critique others and receive critique all the time. It’s our best shot at learning and improving. I have benefitted, and I hope I’ve helped others along the way.

All of the things we discuss matter, to an extent. How important are they to actual, even voracious readers?

I’m reading a book where there are about 17 chapters of character introduction and backstory. They just barely got to the haunted mansion where I expect something will happen. This is by a traditionally published author, but this story was self published. This means he had the skills to get a publishing contract at some point in his life.

As a writer, this is always bad form. The story started too soon, and backstory needs to be minimized.

Will the everyday reader care? I wonder how many of our taboos really matter outside writing circles. It annoyed me, but was it because I was taught to be annoyed?

What if we use too many adjectives and adverbs? Will consumer readers care? Agents and publishers will, but — Is this a writers version of being a Rolex wearer who makes a snide remark about his companion’s Timex?

The dialog in this book puts the other person’s name in every line, along with a dialog tag to indicate the speaker. As a writer, I know not to keep saying the other fellow’s name. If there are only two people, I probably don’t even need dialog tags if you get me started.

This story even has what writers call “as you know, Bob” dialog. This is where both characters already know something, but they go over it again because the reader doesn’t know it.

Am I being a snob here? We read each other’s blogs and hear stories where someone threw down a novel because there was a semicolon on the first page.

Really? Is that all it takes to discard years of hard work from a writer? This feels a lot like, “Oh, wine from a cardboard box — how unique.”

“As soon as I read ‘Jane guffawed’ I put the book in the fireplace.” You may have missed out on a good story too.

All of us are at a different place on this pilgrimage. I can see many of you ahead of me, but I hear some coming up behind me too.

For myself, I will take these lessons to heart. I want to improve my writing skill and deliver the best product I can. Tomorrow’s product will be better. It doesn’t mean that yesterday’s product sucked.

I’m going to be a bit more patient with my fellow writers. I’m also going to finish this haunted house story.

What do you think? Are writers, editors, publishers, and agents being snobbish on some things? The issues are important, but will those things really matter to consumers?

27 Comments

Filed under Writing