Writing Is Hard: Not an Excuse, A Challenge

delilahYesterday, the steampunk-romance-let-me-creep-you-out-to-the-edge-of-your-skin dynamo, Delilah S. Dawson, posted on her blog a column about being a writer, about getting off your ass, and about doing what you tell people you do. When I read the title of her blogpost, I was ready to mix it up with Big D because I’ve lost nearly twenty pounds all while editing an anthology, editing the fourth book of The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, and writing up a new social media book, specifically geared for writers…

Instead, I read the article, proving that, yes, it is better to comment after you’ve read a blogpost instead of reading only the headline. The best part about Delilah’s blog is that, after meeting her, you can hear her in your head when you read her blog. So now I hear Delilah S. Dawson in my head…

I am terrified. Just so you all know.

Delilah’s a stitch. We’ve broken bread with her, been on panels with her, and she’s one of my literature spirit animals. I say “one of” because I have many. There’s my wife Pip, Chuck Wendig, Myke Cole, Mur Lafferty, Erika Napoletano, Kate Cross…I swear, I am building a Noah’s Ark of spirit animals over here. Thing is, D drops the mic hard in this blogpost when she says: Continue reading

Villains and Why We Love Them

Peter Capaldi as Cardinal Richelieu in the BBC's The Musketeers.Last night, I was watching The Musketeers, the new BBC series featuring Peter Capaldi rocking the Van Dyke and redefining diabolical as Cardinal Richelieu. He’s pretty badass in The Musketeers, but not chewing the scenery or twirling his mustache (which I would imagine is hard to resist because dat stache!) kind of way. Capaldi is working the dialogue like a boss and creating a foil against our heroes that makes you sit up and take notice. There’s a mind and a motivation you connect with on a visceral level, and sometimes it’s difficult to take a side against Richelieu as he makes villainy look really, really good.

That and the wardrobe. And did I mention DAT STACHE?

Watching Capaldi in this role has me of late considering villains, what makes them compelling versus comical characters, and why they are so important in writing.

Your villains—or antagonists, if you want to use the fancier term for “bad guys”— are as high a priority to develop as your heroes. They need to resonate with you, lest they reduce themselves to nothing more than set dressing hell bent on destroying said set along with any major players that happen to be in the vicinity. Continue reading

Stranger on a Train XXIX

Four days of Photoshop. Eight lessons with a few bonus skills added into the mix. I have to work a bit on Day One of Level 2; but once I took a lesson from Kacy Catanzaro and took a steadier pace, Day Two more than made up for my stumble.

Did you see this woman rock the American Ninja course? #MightyKacy indeed.

I’m digging Photoshop CC a lot. Good program. Now I need to take a serious look at Lightroom. I’d like to see if we (that’s Mike Witherall and I) can turn it into a class. I don’t see why not.
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So the people behind Snowpiercer‘s Facebook page put that image online this morning. It’s a stitch, especially when you consider the film. Lot of “in” jokes here, so kudos to the fan who created it. Inspired works like that just remind me of how incredibly talented people are everywhere, and I’m lucky enough to get to share my stories. I’m gearing up to do it again, too. The edits for The Diamond Conspiracy arrived today, so it’s time to level up and work on the next adventure of Books & Braun. We are dealing with a lot in this one, so I look forward to returning to that world…

…Monday.

First, I need a nap. A really big one. Photoshop is a demanding mistress.

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You Wanna See Something Really Scary: A Fresh Horror from Tee Morris

twilightIf you remember back in 2012, Pip and I were engaging in an experiment. We never really mentioned what that experiment was all about, and that was on purpose. We wanted to step deeper into the waters of self-publishing and write outside our genres, see how works way out of our known expertise would perform in the wild frontier of digital do-it-yourself storytelling. I created for myself the pen name of “Jonathan Carter” and set out to write stories that—I hoped—would keep people up a night, make readers afraid of the dark, and check the house to make sure they were truly safe.

I’ve never been one for pen names but after two years and little-to-no activity, I went on and said to Pip “I think we’re done with the experiment. How about we go ahead and just kill Jonathan Carter, and I claim those short stories.”

So, I sat down with Photoshop, edited the eCovers, and re-released them into the wild. Within the first twelve hours of being live, one sold.

I’m thinking the loss of the pen name was a good idea.

How would I categorize my horror? I don’t think of myself as a horror writer heavy on the “squick” factor (if you are curious of what the “squick” factor is, think of the works from Clive Barker or film like the Saw series, or Hostel); but I would say the element of a setting or a situation slowly unraveling, and watching what the players do to try and solve or salvage it but wind up making the bad even worse, makes for good horror. It’s a feeling of helplessness, that wild tailspin of trying to make a situation right while knowing there is nothing that can be done, that I believe horror derives from.

While I have just opened up my own private shop here, you can find my works of horror on Amazon: Continue reading

Stranger on a Train: XXVII

After three days of coding and teaching, I’m still walking. I was kind of hoping for that Nick M.F. Fury rescue because, let’s talk real, moments of badassery like that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finale are always welcome in life.

I can’t complain (though I did) about the class. Sharpened skills and money through the door, I guess. Not enough, though, for the trip to WorldCon, I’m afraid. Sucks, too, as I wanted to see some friends I’d not seen for a spell, show the Boom the Tower of London and the Globe, and just give Pip and me a moment’s peace.

Maybe things will change. It’s so damn close to call.

Next week is Balticon. Always a good time. I have a schedule in need of posting and I’ll probably get to that over the weekend. Since March, everything’s felt blurry, but Pip and I did all we could for that steampunk title of ours. Now we just have to hope people are still wanting more.

I know I do. I like this ‘verse of cogs, gears, and spies. I don’t want it to end. Not now, anyway.

Almost home. Ready to hit a weekend well-earned with family. Maybe a quick detour to Proper Pie Company on the way back home. And speaking of badassery, I’ve got my weekend off to a good start with this…

What about you? What’s your read this weekend?

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Endless Possibilities Blog Tour 2014: Katherine Gotthardt Goes where Few Dare to Tread

And welcome back for the Endless Possibilities Blog tour 2014, presented by Write by the Rails. Today, I am pleased to host Katherine Gotthardt. If Katherine’s name looks familiar, it is because she gave everyone a sneak peek at “Silver Linings” from The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. I have a lot of respect for Katherine as she does what I find to be a golden unicorn for me as an author: Poetry. She’s got several collections out there, and that takes moxie. She’s bringing some of that bravery and talent here today.

Welcome to the blog, Katherine!

katherine-gothardt-2-2012-chipI am honored to be hosted on Tee’s blog today.  Tee is a talented, unique author who manages both to write and motivate others.  Tee, thank you for having me and for all you do for Write by the Rails!

Below is a brief poem for your consideration.  It’s one of my few, less-serious pieces.  If you want serious and enjoy poetry, feel free to check out my books at www.katherinegotthardt.com. Enjoy!

Declaration

When in the course

of human events

it becomes necessary

to love and be left,

we want to believe

’tis better to have loved and lost,

but ’tis really better

(I think, when I recall,

the smell of your socks in the hall)

’tis much better to have told you

where to go.

Katherine’s poetry and prose have appeared in various online and text journals.  Poems from the Battlefield, a collection of her Civil War themed poetry, original and archival photos and period quotes, was published in 2009.  Katherine’s children’s book, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World, was published in 2010.  Approaching Felonias Park, a novel focusing on predatory lending, was released in November, 2011.  Weaker Than Water, a second collection of Katherine’s poetry, came out in April, 2013.

When she is not writing creatively, Katherine freelances as a writer and editor, sets up websites and blogs, teaches blogging and writing and reports for Haymarket Beat.

Endless Possibilities Blog Tour 2014: Cindy Brookshire on Death, Taxes, and Accountability

Alongside my renewed commitment to be a better blogger, I’m still hosting the talented people of Write by the Rails in the Endless Possibilities Blog Tour. Today, I feature the fearless leader of our merry band of writers, Cindy Brookshire. She’s bringing her own daily affirmation and accountability on getting the words down on paper, and meeting that daily word count.

 

iStock_000021621315XLargeI just spent 10 hours slogging through six award applications for a client by a 5:30 p.m. deadline. It’s the nature of my work – think fast and tune out distractions.

But working on my book? That’s another matter. I balk. I make excuses. I wait for the perfect chunk of time. It never comes.

I finally took my friend, North Carolina writer Barbara Presnell’s advice and got a writing accountability partner. She’s author and Huffington Post contributor Laura Collins Lyster-Mensch. Laura and I email each other every Monday. Once a month we do a face-to-face at the Red Truck Bakery in Warrenton or Caribou Coffee in Bristow. Talking to an accountability partner is like talking to a 12-step sponsor. You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.

Has it worked? Yes. In all honesty, I’ve set a kitchen timer and forced myself to do more work on my book than I’ve done in years. I’ve also produced some great magazine articles, and helped to build a thriving network of writers in Prince William through the non-profit Write by the Rails.

Laura has been quite effective, too, though under duress – she was able to work with her friend, Charlotte Bevan, to complete the book, Throwing Starfish, before Charlotte’s death.

Oh well, deadlines and taxes will always be with us.  Or is it death and taxes?

I think I’ve earned another episode of House of Cards…..

Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

Benjamin Franklinin a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, 1789

 

Cindy Brookshire is the fearless leader of Write by the Rails. She blogs at http://cookies4nataka.wordpress.com/

Endless Possibilities Blog Tour 2014: Nancy S. Kyme asks “Are You a Writer?”

Part of me is so flipping excited about this Endless Possibilities blog tour! Makes me happier than Coke executives the day after airing a Super Bowl commercial reflecting on what makes America great! 

What? Too soon?

Anyway, it has been a real kick introducing you to my fellow authors at Write by the Rails; but I just hope that when all is said and done, you’ll stick around for more musings from the TeeMonster, right? I’ve got to get some posts in the hopper for when it is just me, but until then continue to comment and syndicate on these  terrific and talented individuals. Today the blog belongs to my hostess from earlier this week, Nancy S. Kyme. She is the author of Memory Lake, the Forever Friendships of Summer, a 2012 Next Generation Award Winning memoir and she comes out of the blogger’s box swinging with a pretty deep question for you. 

Heck, on some days, it’s a deep question for me…

18691SD2“Click, tap-tap-tap. Click,” my fingers shifted across the keyboard.  “Clang,” the grandfather clock in the hall chimed one.  “Why am I still awake?” I whispered.

Oh, I see it now.

That last sentence must go to the front of the paragraph.  It no longer needs the second sentence.  Perfect.  My point is made in fewer words and the chapter is almost polished.  I hit ‘save.’ I closed the Toshiba, tip-toed upstairs, and into bed.

The alarm would go off in four hours.  Continue reading

Endless Possibilities 2014 Blog Tour: An Introduction

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Yes, the blog has been quiet, just like the podcast. I hate it when things like that happen, and this time it was for reasons good and bad.

Instead of delving into the bad (which was all the chatter on my Facebook, if you were curious), I want to hold on to the good. Oh now, don’t you worry — I will always have room for a good, old-fashioned rant here, but this blogpost is more about rising to challenges and keeping a hold of what works…

This blogpost is also to welcome those of you new to my side of the blogosphere. S’up?

Yes, I’m on board at the opening of this new year with a blog tour aimed to introduce myself to new reader, be they readers of my blog or readers of my works. And what a day to introduce myself to people — on the ninth anniversary of the MOREVI podcast going live. Where did the time go?

But I digress. Let me start from the beginning. Introductions? By all means…

Continue reading

Stranger on a Train XXV

An entirely different kind of day.

First day back to work for a lot of people today, and you can tell everything just feels different. I saw a lot of people smiling this morning. I noticed a lot more kindness from strangers.

And yeah, I noticed a much longer line at the Starbucks. Welcome back to the daily grind, DC!

It was also a different kind of attitude at the contract job. The Account Manager wants me to bring a fresh set of eyes and ideas to the channels. The guy training me also commended me on how quickly I was moving in picking up the voice of the individual accounts, faster than people anticipated. I even got the go-ahead to post, which I did. So today was a bit of a confidence booster.

This year really hasn’t been all doom, gloom, and downward spirals. Writing-wise I’ve never had it better. I know, apart from the stage, I’m happiest when I’m writing. Editing Dawn’s Early Light brought that home. I’ve enjoyed some accomplishments I never dreamed in me, and I find myself back on the precipice again. Pip and I are right on the cusp of something huge, and all it’s going to take is that one nudge, that one magic moment, that could keep us writing full time. I wish I knew what we needed to do, but until then we’re just going to have to remain on this path. Guess I’ve been thinking about that razor’s edge with the James River Writers’ Conference beginning tomorrow, then next week taking part in Octopodicon out in Oklahoma. Pip and I have been given rock star treatment this year. Seriously, like motherfucking rock stars. By some fantastic people. Doctor Q. Doctor Midnyte. ConTemporal. Authors After Dark. They have all been little blessings.

I just don’t want to let anyone down.

Interview for a full time gig tomorrow, and then it’s back to Richmond—my hometown—for some serious talk about writing, both the craft and the business. Then next week, Oklahoma. Lots of travel, and time away from Sonic Boom. That’s the downside.

But we’re having a Family Movie Night. Guess what Blu-Ray we’re rocking on the home theatre tonight?

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