Tag Archives: writing

My side project

This year, I started dabbling with the idea of two projects at a time. I always thought I couldn’t do it, but it’s made me more productive in the long run.

My only explanation is that when I get stumped in my main project, I can pick up the other one and move ahead. Usually by doing this, it unwinds the issue I had in the main project.

With Viral Blues and Serang out the door, I can concentrate on new fiction once more. The main goal is HMS Lanternfish, but it’s been “at anchor” since September. My side project is close to completion, so I’m focusing more on it right now.

Old What’s Her Face was off all weekend, and that prevents new fiction from happening. It’s one thing to write a blog post, or exchange a few emails with various hosts, but new fiction requires concentration.

We decided to rearrange the garage yesterday, and that was a more productive use of time. We threw some things out, swept up, moved the shelving around, then brought in the patio furniture for the winter. It was a good day, and the weather was perfect.

She took over the television, so we had Hallmark Christmas while I gnashed my teeth and prayed for a national emergency or something to interrupt. After that it was some red carpet event followed by an awards show. I’d moved on to bourbon by then, so it didn’t matter.

Today is a different matter. She has to work today, and my time is my own. The side project is called Grinders. This one is a niche bit of science fiction called cyber -punk.

Grinders are a group of people who implant technology into their own bodies, or those of friends, in the hopes of becoming more than human. This goes on today, so I ran with it.

Cyber-punk usually doesn’t have deep plots. It’s more about exploring this futuristic world, and all the fantastic new things it holds. I kept my plot pretty basic, but there is one – just in case.

It is science fiction, so I made sure to poke a stick at some of our modern issues and push them to extremes in the future. It’s small stuff, but kind of what science fiction is good at. You’ll see advertising pushed to the extreme, helicopter moms, safe spaces, plastic contamination, and global warming, but not in a preachy way.

I added about 2000 new words to it today, and moved from end-game to denouement. There are a couple of threads to sew up, so this section is longer than I usually do. It all works, so I’m not worried about it.

I’ve decided to write my first epilog, too. I know those are out of vogue, but there are a couple of animals who get abandoned about 3/4 of the way in, and I want to wrap their story. They no longer influence the plot, but a couple of paragraphs aren’t really a deal killer. Might even finish it next weekend.

Yesterday, I shared the Pinterest Board for Serang. A few people seemed to enjoy it, so I’m going to share the one for Grinders. You’ll see some cityscapes, character studies, and even a maze of pipe for a rat. Here’s the Pinterest Board.

One of the cool things about Pinterest is the boards stick around. If you want to write something about China, or your own cyber-punk story, you can snipe from these to start your own board. Just cruising them might give you a brand new idea.

Sean Harrington is sharing Lisa’s catfish poster on his DeviantArt site. Sean and I have a long history, and he might appreciate a bit of traffic. Here is the link if you’d like to visit him.

I’m still watching for reviews. Serang is too new to have anything, but Viral Blues is ripe for some fresh reviews. If you enjoyed this story, it’s a huge help to say something on Amazon. It doesn’t take much, just a line or two and it counts as much as those who write paragraphs of commentary.

When I finish Grinders, I’m going to take Lanternfish back up. I probably won’t start a side project for a while, but once I add about 30K words to that story, It’s likely I will start another one… on the side.

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Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer

Harmony Kent is a dear friend, and a colleague over at Story Empire. She has a new book out that is designed to help us with our fiction. Make her feel welcome today, and use those sharing buttons.

Hello everyone. Harmony here. I’m excited to share my latest non-fiction book with you all today. Huge thanks to Craig for hosting me today.

 

Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer does what it says on the tin (or cover, lol), and offers tools to fire your imagination. With chapters on things such as using chess and tarot to develop stories, plots, and characters—as well as adopting the principles of nursing triage, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, horoscopes, and more—this little guide is full of fun tips and tricks to get your muse working overtime.

 

This excellent writer’s companion is available on pre-order now in ebook. And both ebook and paperback go on sale on October 9th.

 

Here’s an excerpt for you:

It’s lovely to meet you. This book is all about getting you writing and keeping you going, as well as offering aids to idea generation for your plots, characters, and story premises.

Before we begin (in the spirit of all great procrastinators) …

 

 

Apologies for the awful pun, but I’m sure for many of you, this bit of fun rings a bell or two … or three …

Experienced author, editor, and proofreader that I am, I still experience occasional challenges in getting going and/or keeping going. At such times, I’ve found it’s useful to have a few tricks hooked onto my writer’s tool-belt. Even when we have a great idea and know what’s expected of us, we can struggle to dirty that first, pristine, blank page …

 

With the help of this guide, as well as adopting a regular writing practice and developing good habits, you will have plenty of tools to get you out of any imaginative rut.

 

***

Author Bio

After spending around thirteen years as an ordained Buddhist monk, living in a Zen Buddhist temple, and six years after a life-changing injury following a surgical error, Harmony Kent returned to the world at the tender age of forty.

Now, she is famous for her laughter, and has made quite the name for herself … she’s also, um, a writer … and fairly well known for that too. She’s even won a few awards. Harmony lives in rural Cornwall with her ever-present sense of humour, adorable husband, and quirky neighbours.

Harmony is passionate about supporting her fellow authors.

 

Links

Website: https://harmonykent.co.uk/

Story Empire (co-authored): https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/

Amazon Author Page: author.to/HarmonysBooks

Twitter: @harmony_kent

LinkedIn: Harmony

GoodreadsAuthor Page

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/harmony-kent

Creative Solutions Pre-order Link: http://mybook.to/CreativeSolutions

 

 

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An interview with C. S. Boyack

This week, I’d like to welcome writer and blogger C. S. Boyack to MartinMatthewsWrites. 

Thanks for inviting me, Martin.

Quite welcome. Before we jump into your new book, Viral Blues, tell us a little about yourself.

I like to tell everyone I grew up in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not actually that old, but my hometown is hundreds of miles from anywhere that resembles a city. People used to ride horses on the city streets when I was a kid.

We used to go out in the country and were a hundred miles from the nearest telephone. Even getting a radio station in the truck was questionable at best. I’m glad I grew up this way, and I have a neat perspective on fending for myself. You can bet I apply that to my characters, too.

We live in Boise, Idaho now, but that isn’t really a big city to most people. We still like to get out in the woods with our camper and two bulldogs.

I’m just glad Idaho is still private. Tell us a little about your latest book, Viral Blues.

Read the rest of the interview here.

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The day I gave completely up

This may sound kind of spoiled to a few of you, but it’s a slice of the author life. My prime writing time has always been mornings. This applies to all endeavors in life. If you want me at my best, catch me early. This works at the paycheck job and everywhere else.

My tree trimming insists on getting done in the morning. This is a matter of necessity, because of the heat. You can see this shaping up to be a struggle.

I got up early and tackled HMS Lanternfish. It’s now over 11,000 words and growing. Today was never going to be a super productive one, because I talk to my parents every Sunday. After that, I tackled the tree… again.

With my brand new blade on the Sawsall, I sallied forth. Thirty minutes later, I’d managed to cut one branch about the size of a half-dollar. What the hell! My goal was to chunk these up into manageable sizes, removing weight until I reached the break. This way the final cut wouldn’t cause more damage.

I gave up on plan A, and tackled the big cut. This thing was smoking before I finally managed the cut, and there is still one more to do. Some minor branches got broken in the big event, so I got out the ladder and a hand saw. It seemed to work faster than the damned electronic thing did. While I was up there, I salvaged some nice high fruit.

Old What’s Her Face came home from work and helped me load my truck. I was nearly there… until she said, “The dump is closed today. You can just do it tomorrow.” That’s when I lost it. I’ve given up my morning every single day of this vacation for this stupid project. Now I have to give up even more time to finish it.

She reminded me that she’s off Tuesday, which isn’t ideal for my productivity. I wanted to go through the roof, but resisted. Essentially, I lost Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I don’t begrudge her a day off, it’s just the way things happen. I decided the damned residue could sit in my truck until Tuesday, and I’d haul it off then.

If you remember the heat, my garage smells like peach schnapps now, and I don’t care. I’ll deal with it Tuesday, but I’m going to do my thing – for me – tomorrow. (And I’m going to drink tonight. The hard stuff.)

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Small updates

I still have tool problems, but those are all solved tonight. This is my way of saying I’ll have to finish my tree pruning tomorrow. At least everything is in order now, and I should make short work of the remainder. Even have a fresh saw blade now.

I spent some serious time with the Lanternfish project. Beginnings are always tough, and this one is tougher because it’s the second book in a trilogy. In reality, it takes time to stock a ship and man her. In fiction, I could just glance off that and set sail. I think a better option for me is to merge some of this. It comes across a bit more realistically, but they’ll get moving in a better time frame.

To keep things interesting, there are some root monster antics. While the pirates are making ready, the monsters have some assignments to deal with. This is going to force me to tone them down for a spell later on. I believe the little guys are better in small doses. It’s the “leave ’em wanting more” theory in action.

As soon as we hit the open sea, I have a fantasy creature I’m going to weave in. This will also serve as a bit of foreshadowing, so bonus there. There is also going to be an enemy waiting for them, so I can get right to some adventure after taking time to get underway.

It came in at about 3500 words today. Since there were no new words yesterday, I’m behind on my target of 20,000 words during my vacation.

I also read that book I’ve been getting to. I gave The Scout: Dark Crossings, by D. L. Cross five stars. D. L. Cross is actually Staci Troilo. This is a short story that stands alone in her Invasion series. I’ve read the first novel too, and loved it.

My suggestion is to read The Scout. It only takes a half-hour or so, and I think you’ll like it. If you like it, there is a whole series in this setting. I’ll be reading the whole thing.

Tomorrow is the day I call my parents, so some of my morning will be dedicated to that. Pruning trees will fit in well with that timetable. I don’t know if I can check in with Lanternfish, but it could happen.

I always want more, but my task-list is getting checked off a bit here and there.

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Make a plan, work the plan

This post poses a conundrum for me, because it could fit into Story Empire, too. It winds up here, because it’s partially about my vacation plans. This one is another stay-cation for me. I want to write and just get some down time.

I’ve gotten to a place in writing where I can get a lot done, and there are a few tricks involved. These take time to farm, but harvesting them really speeds things up. First, I have about six storyboards going at all times. This doesn’t leave me pondering what I might write next. This is a common problem among fiction writers. Think of this like a farm, because it’s a long term project. Some boards are complete, others are partially complete, and some are just a collection of loose notes on index cards. Whenever a decent idea hits me, I make an index card and add it to the appropriate board. (Or start a new one.) Today, when I finish one project, I can dive right into the next one.

Next is my Pinterest app. I don’t know too many authors who use Pinterest, because all of the focus is on promotion. I don’t tend to use it like that. I have character boards, setting boards, and more specific ones like Pirates, or The Hat. When I surf through them, I get a lot of inspiration for my stories. It’s nice to refer to when describing a visual aspect of a tale.

Third is my new concept of more than one story at a time. I’m learning that it’s possible, and super productive. My current theory is to make them very different stories. Character traits don’t seem to bleed over this way, and character arcs don’t get muddled because the stories are so different.

My vacation starts tomorrow, and won’t return me to the office until next Thursday. Now I need some kind of plan.

  • I need to cut down a significant portion of my peach tree. This isn’t productive on the writing front, but works well on the staying married front.
  • Hauling the tree residue away has to be part of this mix, and is a chore in itself.
  • I need to buy and read one book. This one is a short read, and ought to work well for me. Then there are reviews to post on multiple fronts, too. Copy and paste helps here.
  • HMS Lanternfish hasn’t even set sail yet. It’s time to stock her with pirates and supplies, then hit the open sea. I’d love to get 30,000 words down, but 20K might be more realistic.
  • I need to get some blog posts written for The Viral Blues. It will be release time before I know it, and I want to be ready. Might hit up some of my favorite hosts to check their availability during my break, too.
  • There is a loose plan for some group promo at Story Empire. I need to dedicate some thought to that, and see what kind of posts I might need.
  • I have the formatted manuscript for Viral Blues in hand. I need to check it on every program I have. Stories about Lizzie and the hat have a few silly graphics as part of the shtick. These can be a nightmare formatting wise. Again, I want to be ready. I won’t know for sure until I push it through Amazon’s machinery, but any errors I can identify now will make that part easier.
  • Blurb writing. (La la la. I can’t hear you.)

I’m probably leaving stuff out, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I’m hoping to take full advantage of the Halloween season for Viral Blues. I’m still waiting on a couple of Lisa Burton promo posters, and should have the last ones in time. This means the easy link for The Yak Guy Project will be replaced by one for Viral Blues. If you haven’t read Yak Guy, all you have to do is click that cover image in the sidebar. He’ll live forever on Amazon, but you’ll have to go looking for him.

I’m still considering a pre-release for Viral Blues. My results with these have been mixed. What is the current consensus with you guys? Do pre-release books gain your attention, or just annoy you?

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A visit with Lorelei

I got up fairly early this morning. No particular reason today, I guess I was done sleeping.

The dogs needed to wait an extra minute while I opened a new bag of food for them. Typical morning chores, dogs, coffee, then it was time to start checking social media.

That’s when the faintest whiff of sandalwood caught my attention. I stifled a smile, but didn’t do it very well. It’s a signature scent, and can only mean one thing.

The slow clack of high heels is a sound that always makes me focus, and it was coming across my hard surface flooring. Lorelei, and she looked like an image from a magazine. She wore jeans that looked like they were painted on, with a loose fitting summer top. Then there was that huge shock of brunette hair, one befitting a minor goddess.

“What brings the Muse out today?” I asked.

“I’ve been meaning to stop by, but since you’ve been writing a little. I decided to leave you alone. When I spoke with Lisa, she said you haven’t visited the writing cabin in weeks. Your creativity feeds me, you know that. I’m feeling a little neglected.”

“Don’t be like that. I’m editing, no thanks to your damned raven. I’ve been arranging artwork, and scheduling things around publication. I even got a chance to read a couple of books.”

“That’s all lovely, but you need to keep writing. I’ve told you before, publishing is your choice. I only care that you create.”

“And I’ve told you, it would be nice to cover expenses. Book covers and promotional art costs more than I make on some books. Besides, aren’t you supposed to be sending me ideas?”

“What about all those characters you’ve parked on the island? Those were some wonderful characters, and maybe it’s time to tell their stories. There is that couple from Colonial Africa, the cops in the science fiction piece, several others.”

“I don’t know, geez. Summer is a time for more than writing. Besides, getting everything ready to publish is almost a full time job. Then I have to come up with blog tour posts, get the artwork, contact my street team…”

“Yes. You’ve already whined about that. You should try to keep focus. I think you’re a wonderful writer, or I wouldn’t waste my time with you. But… writers have to write.”

“I’ll think about it. Maybe something fun will come to me.”

“That’s all I ask. Maybe one of those storyboards you’re always talking about. Those seem to lead to a test chapter or two.”

“I’ll try. I have all day today and tomorrow.”

“There’s a good writer.” She turned and walked away, wiggling her fingers over her shoulder. “I I I I.”

“What was that you said?”

“I said, goodbye.”

“Oh, yeah. Thanks for stopping by.”

“What about you? Do you have any ideas?”

“Na, mate. Ya gotta come up with this stuff on your own.”

“Well, that was singularly unhelpful.”

“I’m just a prop, mate. But I have faith in you. I feel like you’re on the verge of one o’ them epiphanies.”

“Big words for such a little head.”

“Dun gotta get personal about it. I’m trying to help here.”

“Sorry. Maybe a ghost story or something will make her happy. I feel like I’m close, but don’t quite have it.”

“I got faith in ya, and so does the lady. Maybe that keyboard thing will put some wind in your sails.”

“You’re probably right.”

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