A to Z Challenge 2013

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is always an interesting holiday for me.  On the one hand, I love being around family, carving the turkey, and just relaxing with everyone.

I'm an oddity though, because most of the foods associated with traditional Thanksgiving are foods I'd rather not be eating.  For example, I'm not a huge turkey fan.  I'll eat it, but it's not my favorite.  I don't eat stuffing whatsoever.  And I'm very picky about what veggies I enjoy (I like corn and green beans).

I've told my wife in past years that if I had my way, Thanksgiving would be a meal composed Mexican dishes.  I'd have enchiladas and smothered burritos (homemade only of course).  Mexican food is my favorite, so I figure if I had it my way, that would be what I'd choose to stuff myself on.  Maybe when I'm retired I'll put my foot down one year and demand a Mexican food-filled table.  It could happen.

In any event, I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.  I hope you enjoy wonderful moments with family, minus any squabbles.  I wish peace for those of you who have lost family members recently.  Most of all, I wish that everyone feel God's grace in their lives - no matter how it is manifested.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Doesn't Have To Be Bad

Just when you think it's going to be another Monday, you get cheered up by something unexpected.  Thanks to Glynis Smy, I'm the recipient of:

Glynis even went through the extra effort of making the badge more masculine for us guys.  How cool is that?  This was just the thing I needed to pick me up, pull me out of my sick and tired life.  Since I believe in passing on my good fortune, I'll pick a few people to share this badge with.

Michelle Hickman - Your continued support and encouragement keeps me going.  Thanks a ton, crit partner.  I gotta link to your Surly Writer blog too, since both of your blogs are awesome.

Abby Annis - In addition to being my crit partner, your blog is a must-read.  I constantly learn so much from you, so thanks.

PK Hrezo - A new addition to our Blog Chain, I'm glad I've learned about your blog.  You have a unique perspective on this writing game that I enjoy reading.

Amparo Ortiz - Another new member of our Blog Chain, I find your blog fresh and invigorating.  You've got an exciting energy to your posts that's infectious.

Cole Gibsen - What can I say about the Ninja of the writing world?  Cole is awesome ninja mystique and spunky attitude, all wrapped in awesome comic book hero spandex.

Sorry ladies, but I won't attempt to butcher the nice job Glynis did on the badge in order to make it more feminine.  I hope you understand.

On another note, I'm about done with Travis' book The Feedstore Chronicles.  I am simply amazed at his storytelling ability.  Reading through the pages, I envision all of us sitting around a campfire as Travis spins out this tale.  Great stuff!

What good things have improved your mood today?

Friday, November 18, 2011

I'm Getting Too Old For This *$#@)!

If anyone's been wondering where I've been over the last week, I'll clue you in.  Between a severe cold my son shared with me (thanks, ya punk) and an email disaster at work, I've been sick AND working 70+ hours over the past week.  In fact, last night was the first night I got more than 2 hours of sleep in about 3 days (I think.  Times and events are really hazy at this point).  As I look over the past two weeks, I've put in about 125+ hours at work (something my wife and kids are not real happy about either).

Needless to say, today is the first time I've been able to formulate anything close to a creative thought outside of email server troubleshooting.  And even that is difficult at best.   So since I cannot be truly eloquent, I will only say that I haven't fallen off the planet and am still here.

One thing I do need to mention though is that I'm tentatively scheduled to go visit an actual genetics lab as part of research for my WiP.  I had it planned for this week, but...well, you can see why that didn't work out.   Next week though I should be able to get up there and check things out.  A very kind geneticist has offered to give me a tour and help me with whatever research assistance I need.  I'm very excited about this, as this is a first for me (going somewhere to do research).  If I can, I'll even see about snapping a photo or two, which I will gladly share with all of you.

Have a great weekend everyone.  I'll try to be more coherent and put up a longer post on Monday.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Blog Chain - Great Accomplishments

I'm severely late in posting this, but it's Blog Chain time and my awesome crit partner Michelle Hickman has asked this round's question:

This is the month in creating writing goals and big accomplishments.  What is your greatest accomplishment - in writing, your life, or perhaps something incidental that that had a big effect on you?

When I thought about this question, the first thing that comes to mind is being a father.  While I can't claim to be a genius or astoundingly rich (or even drop-dead handsome), the one thing I've done right in my life is raise my sons.  And now that I have an 18 year old, I find myself proud of both the young man he has become as well as the fact that I had a great deal to do with it.  Okay, my wonderful wife deserves a great deal of credit as well.  I do smile though, thinking over how great a job I've done.

In my writing life, I consider taking the step towards critique partners my greatest accomplishment.  It's a sign of my iron-clad commitment to learning the craft and becoming a talented writer.  That in itself is a decent enough accomlishment for me.  I haven't quit and that's a great thing.

I'm a father first and a writer second.  And I'm enjoying my successes in both.  If you haven't had a chance to read Michelle's post, go check it out.  And though I'm out of order, head over to PK's place to continue along the chain.

Before you go, what do you consider your greatest accomplishments?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Building Worlds And Getting Things Right

As I indicated in my last post, I'm still learning how hard writing can be.  And while I still consider myself a dedicated pantster (which is an oxymoron of sorts), I'm finding out how bass-ackwards I've done things in some respects.  Yep, in some ways my WiP is begging for a little structure.

For example, I'm working through my WiP and I've realized (thanks to an awesome crit partner) how little  I've done to truly build my world.  I know in my head what the world looks like, but I haven't done enough on the written page to properly draw my reader into that world.  So many of you are probably out there shaking your head at my duh moment.  Yeah, I deserve it.

In some ways, the sheer volume of potential work I see looming before me is daunting.  I've got the basic gist of the story down, but it's a skeleton in ragged clothes.  Luckily I'm still very dedicated to bringing this story to life or I'd run and hide in a hole.  I believe in this story, and I'm going to get it finished.

One way I intend to add some structure to my process is the tool I use to write.  No, I'm not changing from typing on my laptop to some other form of writing.  But as of today, a useful tool has become available for Windoze users everywhere (and thankfully us Linux users can use it too).  That's right, I'm talking about the awesome writer's tool known as Scrivener.  It may have started out as a Mac OS tool, but now it's been ported to Windows.  I've already played with it a bit and I'm liking the possibilities.  One cool thing about Scrivener (other than all the ways it can help organize my WiP) is it is documented pretty well and has a vibrant user community.  I'd rather not have to go through the pains of re-inventing the wheel, so I'm glad they've pretty much invented all the wheels at this point.

I'm off to learn more about Scrivener and continue improving my WiP.  One question I'd like to pose to everyone however, is what steps you take or tools you use in order to flesh out your world?  As always, I appreciate any advice you may have on the subject.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How Hard Can It Be?

If I've ever questioned how hard writing is, this latest phase of editing and improving my WiP has convinced me conclusively.  It cracks me up then, when I watch movies like Romancing The Stone.

If you've never seen this movie from the mid-80's, it's not bad in a general sense.  There's one part however, that cracks me up now that I've become a writer.  Near the end of the movie, the main character (who is a writer) comes home and writes a bestseller based on her adventures. 

As long as you're assuming that the main man disappeared for two or more years while she wrote her masterpiece, the ending makes sense.  Oh wait, I forgot the other steps she goes through like re-writing, anguishing over terrible wording, weeks of insecurity, stealing Halloween chocolate from the neighbor's kid, and drinking a few bottles of wine at particularly low moments. 

During all this, the leading man is taking his time killing an escaping alligator and buying a boat.  Yeah, that's a great way to keep the romantic fires smouldering.

Or we can assume that she magically whipped out a masterpiece in a couple of weeks.  That's probably what they intend for us to believe, but those of us deep in the trenches know how far from the truth that is.  There's no such thing as "cranking out a story overnight."  It'd be nice, but probably we wouldn't appreciate it as much if it were that easy.

Have you had a moment recently that reminded you just how hard writing is?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Insecure Writers - Overcoming Insecurity Through Critiques

I joined the Insecure Writers Support Group recently and today is our scheduled post.  Insecurity is something I'm facing big time lately, though I don't have a really good reason why.  It started as an indescribeable funk and spiraled down from there.  I've tried reading blogs by all my fav authors and aspiring authors, but although I love reading it all, I don't feel less insecure.

Not too long ago I declared my intention to find crit partners.  Surprisingly, this has had an affect on my mental state.  Despite the fact that critiques can be hard to swallow sometimes, I'm actually more positive and optimistic.  I have two people so far who have offered to help critique my WiP and I'm looking forward to their perspectives.  I guess the reason why is because after I read their critiques (and take a deep breath acknowledging that the world is not ending), I hope to have some solutions.  I am hoping I'll find some good stuff to take away from the critiques and push through that last wall, finishing my story.

I guess my point is that for me, critiques provide answers as opposed to the vague questions of "what if" floating around so often in my head.  Like "what if my writing really does suck" or "what if all this editing isn't really helping improve things".  I don't mind difficulty but I hate being in a vague state where I have no idea whats wrong or what to do about it.  So while I remain insecure, I'm slowly becoming less so (maybe).

Feeling insecure today?  Maybe you just need a good critique to discover what you're doing right and how to fix what's wrong?