Tag Archives: writing

The 20/20 Vision

Last week I talked about making New Year’s Resolutions, and I offered four resolutions that I will try to complete in the year 2017. In case you forgot, those resolutions are:

Resolution 1: I will successfully pay off all of my credit card debt by putting at least half of my paycheck aside each month.

Resolution 2: I will finish writing the first draft of my third novel (title still undecided) by the end of the academic school year (July 2017).

Resolution 3: Assuming I complete the first two resolutions, my third resolution will be to publish my second novel, The Curse of Pirini Lilapa, by the end of 2017 in both e-book and paperback forms.

Resolution 4: I will begin work on my 3-year Professional Development Plan (PDP), in order to move from a probationary to a professional teaching license by the year 2020.

I would categorize all of these things as short-term goals. Hopefully, everyone reading knows that there are two types of goals, though, short-term and long-term (short-term again being the ones listed above).

This week I want to expand on that and help you to create resolutions that are long-term resolutions or goals. Sometimes it’s necessary to think about the bigger picture, too. For example, if you’ve ever been asked this question in an interview “Where do you see yourself in five years?” They want to know your long-term goals, and it’s a point of seeing how well you can organize your life because, essentially, completing long-term goals comes down to organization and persistence if I had to choose only two qualities (although I’m sure there are more).

So, this all came about when my friend and I decided to make our goals for 2020. We vacationed together while in South America and have been in contact lots since we have both gone our separate paths but we always talk about our return to South America in 2020, we call it, our 20/20 Vision. Catchy, right?

This return to South America (specifically Chile, Columbia, and perhaps Brazil) would be seen as the incentive, right? Because you have to earn it. So, what are the long term goals I plan on accomplishing before this time? Well, let’s take a look.

20/20 Goal #1: I will have written the first draft of all four books in my series, Guardian of the Core, by the summer of 2020.

20/20 Goal #2: I will have completed my PDP and successfully achieved professional licensure in Secondary English Education.

20/20 Goal #3: I will have set aside a sufficient amount of money in order to take the vacation in question by putting money into a separate account every month.


Okay, so I want you, the readers, to look at these goals carefully. What do you notice? What isn’t on my goal list? Things such as “I will have settled down and have a family by 2020,” “I will have settled down at a permanent job,” “I will have published all of my books,” or even, “I will have published three of my books by 2020.” All of these things do not belong on long-term lists.

So, why don’t I include goals like those? All of them are great goals, and I wouldn’t be opposed by having any of them happen, but why shouldn’t goals like that be included? Perhaps you can already think of the reason. It’s because of this word: indeterminable. All of those goals that I mentioned in quotations depend on outside factors that are beyond my control and that I shouldn’t worry about. Would I like to have a family? Absolutely. But, will I meet the right person by 2020? Who knows. . . By having that as a goal, I am putting myself in a position to search for anyone instead of searching for the right one. Would I like to have a permanent job by 2020? Yes, of course! But, this requires that I like the school district that I end up at in that time, and that the environment is good, the pay is good, and the opportunity for advancement is there. All of those things I cannot control.

Okay, so how about the last couple, the ones about my book. You can control those, why aren’t they up there, you say. Well, you’re right, I can definitely control how fast I work and could potentially get them all published or even three of them published by 2020, but even they have indeterminable factors. For example, any good book needs multiple edits, and it needs people to read it, and these proofreaders have lives as well, I cannot demand that they read something in a month and then send it back to me so that I can stay on schedule. The market has a volatility that I have to be cognizant of and perhaps one year may be better for releasing than another year.

But, what else do you notice? Anything? If you noticed that all of my goals for 2020 are related to my resolutions for 2017, then congratulations, you’re correct. I firmly believe that in order to have good long-term goals, you need to make them relevant to what you are doing now. This has two factors: (1) when you complete your short-term goal, you are completing part of your long-term goal (2) and because of this, you become excited and motivated to continue your resolution instead of fizzling out. This is huge because as I mentioned before two qualities of successfully completing your long-term goals is organization and persistence. If you are currently dating someone you really like and you want to get engaged to them, and you know you want to get engaged to them, well, you don’t wake up with 1000+ dollars one day, you have to set money aside and start planning for the investment of that ring. I’m not going to wake up and have money for this trip to South America unless if I first clear my debt and then continue to put aside money for the trip. This is where organization and persistence comes into play.

So, I ask you this question, what is your 20/20 vision? How would you define your perfect life by the year 2020? I highly recommend you create some sort of long-term goal for your plan because just as completing short-term goals helps with long-term goals, the same goes for short-term goals. By having long-term goals, and having them be relevant to your short-term resolutions, it will hold you more accountable to achieving those resolutions.

Happy goal-setting and as it’s officially 2017 now, I welcome the new you, and the new visions you plan on accomplishing this year and the years to come.

Sincerely,

Michael E. Thies

Inspiration – What Makes It Happen?

So, this is my first post on this blog for a year or more now. It’s interesting, then, that I should write something about inspiration as I have not seemed to have it for the past year or more. And while that’s not entirely true, I did want to sit back and comment on a few things that I think writers have some trouble with and some easy remedies as I have found that these things have helped me more than I know. Hence, the reason I am writing now.

#1 Problem = Coming up with Ideas

Whenever I tell people that I have written a novel they always ask me two questions to begin. (A) “What is your book about?” … And after I tell them typically the second question is (B) “How did you think of it?”

The second question is the one I want to answer here. To be honest, one of my best friends in high school had a collection of drawings of people and figures. I was fascinated with it and in middle school we went through the process of creating a card game from these figures based off of something like Yu-Gi-Oh. It was an interesting concept with it’s own twist. Anyways, these cards became the characters for a short story that I wrote in school. And then three years later as I was cleaning out my room in high school I found that short story again and I thought to myself, “Well, what would happen if I continued writing it.” So, after many many revisions and character additions and reductions, I arrived at The Trials of the Core by Michael E. Thies. My first novel.

And, although this may be self-explanatory, I wrote because I saw things. It seems elementary but if you take a look at any writer one of their greatest tools is the power of observation — to see something that is beyond the page or beyond the person in question. In Californication, for example, during the first season we see the author protagonist, Hank Moody (David Duchovny), tell a woman who she is based off merely the power of observation. She gets mad (because Moody is not very tactful) and storms off, but under that an analysis is that perhaps she was embarrassed that he was right about her. In the second season we see him shadow the life of a rockstar in order to write a book about him.

And that’s what we do as author, we observe. So, when I saw those drawings in my friends book of sketches, I saw more than just figures I saw people that were dying to come off of the page and hop into a story. And, now, I have actually gotten many inspirational ideas through sleep. I have crazy dreams, and I mean crazy dreams, that I wake up and wonder, “Well, what if that turned into a novel…” So, I jot down what I remember quickly into one of my notepads for writing and at a future date maybe I’ll get back to it and actually write a story or short story about it. Right now, I can’t, because I’m focused on Guardian of the Core but when I finish that series I will need something new to write about and who knows by then!

So, in essence, we get inspiration because we use our eyes and not just physical ones, but a mental eye (your brain as it dreams) and it’s imagination, as well.

Problem #2 = Coming up with sentences

Alright, another problem. Maybe you have a vivid imagination. Maybe you have an idea for a story. But, you don’t have the words. Where can you draw your inspiration from then? Well, I have had this problem, too, with inspiration. Honestly, this is how I solve it.

I read.

I remember that my writing improved so greatly after I started reading The Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin. After reading such a great book like that, it makes you want to write. It makes you want to see if you can craft a sentence as perfectly constructed as he does. At least, this was the side effect I had.

Even if a book isn’t necessarily good, like the book I am reading now, I still find it an inspiration, but an inspiration in a different sense. I want to write to write better. i see the flaws of that work and I write and make sure I don’t see any of the same flaws happen in my own book.

But, regardless of if it’s a good book or a bad book there are still ways that it can enhance your writing. Vocabulary, for instance, is something that is built through reading.

Problem #3 = Time for writing

This is probably the hardest issue to deal with. It’s true, there is just not enough time in the day. It gets more complicated when you have a family and a job. I am extremely fortunate that I have a profession, an English teacher, that allows me time for writing. In the States it would be during the summer when I don’t have the hustle and bustle of the school year to contend with. Now, while I’m over in Chile, it’s when I go on vacation to renew my passport. My mother came down to take me on a cruise from Valparaíso down around Cape Horn up to Buenos Aires. It was the best 14 days of my life. And, while on that cruise, I managed to write five to six chapters. I had never been more into my writing (besides when I’ve had to write for a deadline). It was fantastic and I wish I could live on a permanent vacation, but, alas, my books aren’t popular enough for that yet haha. But, maybe one day.

Anyways, like I was saying before, as a teacher not only do I get vacation time, but I get the luxury of being able to teach anywhere. I am currently taking a position to teach English overseas in China for a year, or more, and I’ll have lots of time to explore and write about the places I see. I am positive that Chile and my experiences here will turn up in my writing eventually. In fact, unknowingly, it already has, but it wasn’t as intentional as I would have liked.

So, what happens if you don’t have a profession like mine?

Then you have to go above and beyond in order to tackle this boundary to inspiration. Like the Corona commercials you have to “Find your beach.” Meaning, find a place that relaxes you and where you can write. Ideally, this is a beach, but not everyone has a beach in their backyard. So, without a beach, maybe you can have a beach be your writing den, or living room before the kids wake up, or the kitchen area. The idea is, though, that you need to create a routine that works for you in a setting that works for you.

Analysis 

For me, inspiration comes and goes like the wind, although I definitely do have more inspiration in any of the three situations I outlined above. Unless if I have to, I never force myself to write, because when I do it doesn’t come out as well as I want it to. That is why I stopped writing this blog a year ago when I was cranking out a post per week. Now, I want to continue but at my own pace, maybe at once every two weeks or once a month. I don’t know the exact time table but I had the itch to write a blog post today and that is what I did.

So, the next time you have any type of writer’s block, don’t feel that you have to write. It may be more painful for you to do so. Instead, perhaps try one of the methods outlined above, and then see how you feel. Welcome writing, don’t worship it or feel inclined to do it.

-Michael E. Thies

Looking Ahead to 2014

So, my last blog post dealt with everything that has happened to me in 2013. This one will focus on everything I plan on accomplishing in 2014. Boy do I have my sights set high. But, you know what, that’s fine. If anything writing a book last year has told me is that nothing is impossible, only you decide what is and what isn’t, so I’m gonna tell myself “I’m Possible” and get stuff done!

Well, first things first, my schooling. This next year will be CRAZY! On January 21st I officially start schooling again in UW-Whitewater in order to get my teaching degree which will also be my second bachelor’s degree. I will be taking 18 credits in the spring, 9 over the summer, and 17 in the fall. Needless to say I will be busy.

My resolution for this part of schooling? Well, I want to maintain a decent GPA of at least a 3.3, but I am striving for that 3.5. That is what I got in Eau Claire, so I feel as though it should be obtainable for me here, the only thing that worries me is my outrageous amount of credits that I will be taking along with the organizations I want to be a part of. A few of those organizations being: Sigma Tau Delta (English Honor Society), Boys and Girls Club (looks good on a resume for teaching) and even a hip hop dance club cause I think it’d be cool to learn some of those moves.

Secondly, I have a large battle ahead of me with my writing. Here is my tentative layout for how this year will go so that I can accomplish my dreams of having the second book published depending on finances in 2015.

Book #2 Draft 1 = December 31st, 2013

                                                                                         2014

Book #2 Draft 2 (Outline #3) = March 21st

Book #2 Beta Readers Test = March 21st – April 30th

Book #2 Draft #3 = June 29th

Book #2 Developmental Edit = August 15th (This will depend on finances)

Book #2 Draft 4 = September 30th

Book #2 Copyedits = Done by November 28th (Depends on finances)

Book #2 Final Draft/Proofreading = Finished by December 31st

2015

Book #2 Pre-Release Marketing Begins = January – June

Book Launch Party = End of May

Book #2 Release Date = June 21st, 2015

And, that is the tentative schedule for when I want to release my book. Now, why do I have a specific date for launching it already in 2015? Well, the major event of the second book deals with the converging of the two suns in an event called Pirini Lilapa (The Great Inferno). Although overly beautiful to see, it is very deadly and something bad always happens during it. What better day to release it than Summer Solstice when the days are longest and hottest?

What else is going on this year in 2014? Well, I have a trip to Savannah Georgia planned for late February. I have a trip to Vegas planned for late March. And then, just living life I suppose.

Even though I have all of these goals, here are some of the other resolutions that I plan on following through on during 2014.

Resolution #1 = Read 12 books within the year that are non-school related. One book per month, I think I can handle that. There have been a few on my to-read list that I really need to get into.

Resolution #2 = Completely finish (drafts and all) of my second book. I do not think this will be too much of an issue, the only problem comes from financing the project. I have taken a hard hit with this first book and am not seeing as much of an ROI on it as I would like to see so it will greatly determine whether or not this second book goes according to plan.

Resolution #3 = Be Healthier. I already am pretty healthy but these past couple of months I have been going out way too much. Mostly being due to the fact that I recently broke up with my significant other, but I really need to slow my role a little bit. I think that going to college will help this (especially the course load I have) because I won’t have that much time to go out.

Resolution #4 = Keep up with my once-per-week blog. I know it may not seem like a lot because many people blog a lot more than I do. But, it’s good enough for me and I’m already seeing the significant benefits of it.

 

Woh! That was a long one. Glad you could stick with it for me and I hope you enjoyed learning about my goals in this new year. It is full of possibilities and I am hoping to take advantage of all of them as I start this new phase in my life.

Why I Can Never Compete in NanoWrimo…

Okay, this is a personal confession, although I am an author I have never competed in NanoWrimo. For those of you who do not know what this is it is New Novel November Month. Pretty much you write an entire novel in one month. I know, as an author, I feel ashamed for admitting the fact that I’ve never competed or done this, but I want to explain the reason why this has been out of my particular reach. Since it is now December I feel as though this is the perfect post because, alas, I did not compete this past November 🙁

I’ll be the first to admit, it’s my writing process. Especially for new novels. I am not sure if this is unique to me or if lots of other authors do it, so I am interested in hearing other people’s viewpoints on this. For first drafts of novels I HAVE to write it out freehand first and then go back and type up everything. I don’t know what it is, but that is how it is done for me. When I finish with a whole notepad of chapters, I plop it down in front of me, turn on my Pandora music and then type them all up just listening to music. The whole process is actually very relaxing for me. But, with this process comes twice the amount of work, I know. Trust me I have tried writing it all on the computer first, but it’s hard. I think this happens for a few reasons:

  1. With writing online comes all the distractions of online too. Too easily do I find myself checking my Facebook, or if someone posted a new comment on my novel on Wattpad.
  2. Staring at that blank screen just doesn’t appeal to me. The cursor blinking me and mocking me for having no thoughts to jot down. Something I cannot handle.
  3. With a pen in my hand I feel more of an author, you know? I see the pad I need to write and thoughts just come to me. It allows me to organize my thoughts better and rearrange ideas if need be by simply circling the passage in question and drawing an arrow to where I need to place it.

 

On top of my crazy writing process, I feel as though I shouldn’t be starting a new novel. I am honestly floored when I hear other authors who are working on 3 – 4 books at once. For one, how do you have that much time? And Secondly, how do you have that many ideas? It’s craziness. For me as being a series writer and currently working on the second novel in my series of either 4 or 5 books, I just couldn’t imagine starting a new storyline when I still have one unfinished. I know I’ll need a new idea eventually and I actually do have another idea for a story once this one is done, but I just can’t start writing a new novel when I should be focused on what is here and right now.

Now, although I do not participate in New Novel November Month, it does not mean I do not write constantly. My original goal was to have the first draft of my second novel done by the end of November. However, I was lazier in October than I should have been so now I am pushing that to end of December. For the past couple weeks in November I have been consistently writing one chapter per day in my second novel and am less than 20 chapters from finishing it (I think anyways).

Personally, that is what writing is, persistence. I really do appreciate what NanoWrimo does in encouraging authors to start a story, but here is where I think the program goes wrong. By encouraging to someone to write a whole novel in a month you are pretty much telling them “do not have a social life” or have less of one. That is the quickest way to get burnt out and when you get burnt out at writing you are officially done. You won’t want to come back to the keyboard or pick up the pen again. That is why, in my opinion, slow and steady wins the race. I make it kind of a goal to get a chapter done per day, even in revisions. If you did that you would have a great polished novel done by the end of a year. (With taking breaks too.)

By simply writing a chapter per day, you ease your workload and still can have a social life which is very necessary for authors—we are people watchers after all. It’s like when parents tell their children they can’t play video games until they get their homework done. For me, I can’t go out with my friends until I get at least one chapter done, and as long as I do that I know that I will have another piece of work coming out in a decent amount of time.

What do other authors think about these things? Do you have a certain process you take while writing? What is it? Do you participate in NanoWrimo? Have you been successful in it?

All pretty interesting questions that I would love feedback on. Take care and keep writing!

What can be Improved Upon in English College Courses (Part 1)

So, there are a few things that have been bugging me for a while now. This blog post actually gets a little long so I’m expanding it into multiple parts. Part one talks about writing courses in college, although all of this can probably be applied to high school writing courses as well.  Part 2 will focus on courses I think that should be added to the college curriculum. And, who knows, maybe I’ll expand this into a part 3, as well, topic yet to be determined.

Firstly, why is there such a tendency to curb the way we college students write? I understand that different people have different taste in genres, but I believe each genre should be an acceptable format to write in during a college writing course. We come there to enhance our skills after all, not to write something that has no interest to us. I’ll use my college experience as an example here (and I know many colleges are focused around the same way), in my junior level creative writing prose course we were meant to have a portfolio at the end of the semester with 3 short stories in it. I had an awesome teacher who allowed us to write whatever we wanted. . . Initially, anyways. I decided I’m going to kill two birds with one stone and I’ll write a short story that coincides with my larger piece that I’m working on, my novel. I loved it. I had an awesome time writing it and I feel as though much of the class enjoyed it (that last part could be due to the fact that I consider myself a decent writer). Anyways, 2/3 pieces I wrote for that portfolio turned out to be short stories that supplemented my novel, The Trials of the Core, which is a fantasy piece.

In my senior level creative writing prose course my teacher strictly forbade anyone from writing fantasy short stories and decided to stick with literary prose. Okay. I don’t mind literary prose, I can write about anything, that’s what practice will get you, but if I had a choice what would I choose? Probably my fantasy stories and again work on things that are going to compliment me later in life. Now, the problem here?

The problem is that my senior level creative writing teacher forbade us to write on anything other than her specific interest even when we had two pieces we needed to turn in at the end of the year. My junior-level teacher did not. To me a solution could be that, yes, you can write a story genre specific to your choice, but then you must also write another story that is not in your typical genre. This forces us as writers and readers to do a couple things: (1) As writers, we find our voice in different genres. We are exposed to a wider range of writing, and as such, become better versed in all aspects writing. (2) As readers, we learn to look at different types of literature and judge it in the genre that it’s in. We see the shortcomings of a specific genre, and the strengths of another. We learn to analyze differently and perhaps even take what’s specific in one genre and merge it with another (for example, merging an idea of fantasy into magical realism). (3) As teachers, you should be able to discern good writing from bad writing no matter the genre. Even if it’s something you don’t typically read, you know a good sentence when you see it—it is not as abstract as poetry is in my opinion.

I am pro-fantasy writer, a definite advocate, and so I hate it when teachers tell me I can’t write a specific way and there are typically a few reasons: (1) Fantasy is about world building and you don’t have enough time to properly world build in a short story, (2) You need to deal with magic and supernatural elements, that again, take a long time to explain and not suited for a short story, (3) there may be creatures in it that we cannot suspend our disbelief to.

Great…

Here are some reasons why we should be allowed to write fantasy (but you can apply these reasons to other genres as well): (1) The ability to create a delicate plot structure. Just think about it, imagine how much planning and timing it takes for fantasy authors to juggle multiple plot lines in a single story. J.K. Rowling had 7 books in her series, Harry Potter, and although I doubt she had all 7 outlined when she wrote her first book, she had a good idea of where she wanted the story to go. As fantasy writers we need to think about things that happen in the first book that will affect the second book, third book, and so on. That is hard! And a reason why if we can practice that in short story format, utilizing the setup-payoff technique, we are going to be well off when we actually start our career after college. (2) World building. I don’t think there is another genre (perhaps besides science-fiction) that worldbuilds like fantasy does. This is a trait that can carry over to ANY GENRE. We as writers are writers, first and foremost, but I’d scoff at anyone who says that as a writer they are not an observer—a people watcher, a world watcher. If you can dream up or think up these fantastic settings that are, for the most part, imaginary just think about how well you will be able to do describing something that takes place in Smoky Mountains, Tennessee. The language we use is the same, the reality is that in most other fiction, it literally is reality that is the difference. It’s there. Tangible. (3) To further recognize how to deal with not only cliché characters, but hackneyed scenarios. This is huge in genre fiction. In romance you have the love triangle and the most known one is the High School quarterback dating the head cheerleader and then this other undiscovered girl comes in and attracts the quarterback and they fall in love. For fantasy it’s the idea that an orphan will be the one to save everyone. And so on and so forth for the other genres. But, writing these short stories in these different types of genres allow us to practice creating different archetypes of characters, because we don’t want the predictable love triangle. By listening to others’ feedback who aren’t maybe versed in the genre as much as we are, we get an outsiders perspective which might just be the thing we are looking for when it comes to changing up our pacing, style, tone or perspective.

Well, that actually happened to be a lengthier blog post than I intended it to be, but it needed to be said nonetheless. So, there you have it teachers and professors, don’t limit your student’s creativity just because you don’t like a particular genre. Instead, embrace it. Allow them to write perhaps one of there 3 portfolio pieces in a genre of their choosing but then encourage them to go outside their norms and write in something else. This will only create better writers, better readers, and better analyzers. We as students are thirsty for variety, thirsty for knowledge, and that sort of thing is taken away when our writing habits are dictated. I think Plato says it best when he says, “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” Know one thing, you know nothing, know many things, and you are on the write path.

Before You Start Reading

Hey everyone!!!

So, yesterday was the big day, I had my Book Launch party. Boy, was I nervous. I shouldn’t have been though, it was an awesome turnout. I will get more into detail about that in a different blog post though. There is so much happening in my life right now that I will be blogging a lot more regularly and so this is the beginning of a 2-3/week blogging spree. So, get prepared.

Anyways, even though the book doesn’t officially get released until December 10th of 2013, I had my Book Launch party in November where people could buy the book and/or free a free book through a series of events (again, a different blog post, be looking for it though). But, I figured before anyone starts reading the book, I wanted to share this with everyone again (I say again because it is on my Facebook Page for my novel “search: Guardian of the Core”). This is my confessional where I explain what spurred me to write the novel I’m writing now, and why I think it’s important to write and what I hope readers will gain via reading it. Take a look at the link below! Also, while you’re there, you can subscribe to my newly created youtube channel titled after my publishing company, “Writer’s Block Press”.

Author Confessional

Thanks everyone for the support and the continued support. I appreciate it. If you end up purchasing the book great, if it speaks to you and you can really resonate with it than that means I’m doing my job as an author which is my greatest delight, not that you bought it. At the end of the day I want you to be able to relate to some aspect of it, regardless of the fact that it is a fantasy novel.

Words You Should Cut in Your Writing

Hey everyone!

So, I was cleaning my room up and I came across a sheet of paper that I always had taped to my desk in college while I was writing. Before this I read the book “How to Write a Damn Good Novel” by James Frey and so much of the advice comes from there. But, I figured, since I found it, I would share it!

Nice, Beautiful, Interesting, Wonderful, Amazing: All of these words you should replace with more specificity. Let’s take, for example, the word beautiful. What is beautiful really saying? That something is really gorgeous? Well, what does really gorgeous mean? Perhaps that the individual in this situation is “A woman with lush lips as red as her hair walked in with a dress of sparkling gold cut off at the thighs. Her sun-kissed skin hid the slight freckles on her cheeks. Her green eyes shot through me, intriguing me to come closer.”

Which is better? I am assuming many people will agree with the last option because of its specificity. I am describing how she is “beautiful” and from there readers can either choose to agree with the narrator, or not. Yes, this adds on more words, but the amount of words you add doing important things like this can be made up by cutting some of these really unnecessary words I talk about next.

Here are some of the words you should actually Delete:

First off, the adverbs when possible. Use that search function on Microsoft Office Word and find those “ly” words and see if you can adjust them. Run quickly? How about sprint?

Very and Really: Ask yourself, what does “very” really do for your sentence? If you say “The building is very sturdy.” vs. “The building is sturdy.” Are people really going to interpret that any differently? When I read a building sturdy, I don’t find myself wondering how sturdy, I know it’s sturdy and I trust the narrator. Or, how about, “It was a really hard piece of food that I ate.” Why not just say, “It was a hard piece of food that I ate?” Or, even better, “I ate stale food.” Now, that’s tightening for you because the stale implies hard and now you managed to rearrange the sentence to take care of unnecessary words.

So: Sooo what? “He was so inconsiderate. I hate him so much.” Great, the guys a douche bag we can see that. But, convey it to us in not as many words. “He was inconsiderate. I loathe him.” I changed a weak word like “hate” to a stronger word that deletes words. And what is “so inconsiderate” compared to “inconsiderate”? Can you tell me a difference? Probably not. So, delete it when possible 😉

Quite: I find that when people use this word they want to make an “almost 100% statement.” It is another filler word for the likes of “very” and “really”. For example, “He is quite intelligent.” Same as “He is really intelligent.” But you know what’s even better. “He is a genius.” Now, this particular example doesn’t delete words but it makes the sentence stronger because of the words you are using.

That: OMG That. It’s a dirty word. And it pops up everywhere. I mean everywhere. Some times it’s needed. But, make sure you read your sentences before accepting it into your troupe. For example, “That is the building that Jack used to live in,” Adam said. Did you really need two thats? No. “Jack used to live there,” Adam said. No that and a lot less words.

Just: You are “just” able to do something. He managed to just grab the ledge. The sun was just rising up. You can really delete this word in almost every instance. It just doesn’t add anything to your writing 😉  How about “He grabbed the ledge.” “The sun rose.” Or, “The sun was on the horizon.” The latter is more true to the meaning of the sentence above. 99% of the time you can delete your just. Just make sure you look at it 🙂

Started to do something: I hate this phrase so much. Sometimes I need to catch myself using it or wondering if I need to use it. “He started to walk towards the man with the beard.” When do you start something? When you are doing it. “He walked towards the bearded man.” Is so much stronger than the sentence above.

Those are the ones that are my biggest pet peeves and the ones I make a conscious effort of in avoiding for my writing. When you have strong writing, you have the attention of readers, and when you have that, you will have a good short story, essay, novel–whatever it is that you write. Now, go find those words and try deleting them. This one signal method (as well as rewriting some of my novel) took a third draft of 173,000 words to a concise one of 123,000 words. That is a difference, but everything is still the same and I even added in more description and character traits and still managed to come in 50,000 less. It goes to show you the power or rewriting and deleting the necessary words and saving space for the ones that matter–the descriptions, character building, world building, etc.

As An Author…

This is a poem I made up. I haven’t done poetry for a while, but this one just came to me so I figured I had to write it down. WordPress is being stupid and not allowing me to tab so that is why the bullet marks are in there so that I can indent, so just imagine that you are reading the poem without them in there.

As an Author…

I survey the scenes our senses savor

  • Causing us to sniff and salivate

I am trained to paint pictures

  • Not tell tedious tales

I create charismatic characters

  • But only by observing others

I notice the nuances that make you, you

  • And make them, them

I might obfuscate observations

  • Or, I may dissect definite details

I can orchestrate the Swan Song

  • And may compose a crescendo
  • As captivating as Casanova’s charisma
  • Or as drawl and dilapidated as death

 

But, for it to be anything at all

  • Ostentatious or otherwise

 

I need sky-shattering support

  • For I am an undiscovered underdog without it.

Thanks for reading! I hope you find it enjoyable and relatable (especially if you’re an author).

Revealing my Story

Revealing my Story

Hi everyone!

So, like I mentioned in previous blog posts a book called “The Trials of the Core” (book #1 in a series called, Guardian of the Core) is going to be published this December by Writer’s Block Press. We are doing a slow reveal of the book online. Click the link/url above and follow along with all that has been posted so far (chapters prologue – seven). Every week two more chapters will be released.

It would be fantastic if you could help this novel pick up steam so feel free to share this with your friends and leave comments on the chapters.

Enjoy!

– Writer’s Block Press

Choosing the Name

This was the hardest part for me. I know from advertising and being a huge fan of Madmen (which if you aren’t watching you definitely should) that picking a name can be one of the most frustrating things to do. It can’t just be ANY name. It has to be the “write” one, especially when you are choosing the name of a publishing company. So, my process? Well, to begin with, every publishing company should have one of these words in it: press, publishing company, books, or publishers. This is solely because no one should ever question what it is that your company does.

Then, I decided I needed something to convey the type of writing being done there. Or, perhaps not even the type, but something that conveys the authors. I pulled from exotic words not typically used, to symbolic words from Greek mythology, to just iconic problems. Some of the words I chose were: Finesse, Muse, Moxie, Visceral, Quill.

With that set, I began creating lists of what I wanted to call the company. Here are some examples of some of them I chose, and perhaps why I chose them (in parenthesis afterwards).

  • Finesse Publishing Company
  • Lucid Quill Press
  • Visceral Publishing House
  • Muse Books
  • Writer’s Moxie Publishing Company
  • Moxie Press
  • Writer’s Block Press

Out of this list I had four favorites and I’ll list them in order from least favorite to favorite (and of course you probably know which one I chose looking at the title of my wordpress account.) Anyways, Finesse Publishing Company because I wanted to convey a certain degree of skill in publishing. Number two was Moxie Press because moxie is a nice word for everything that an author should be. The problem with both of those, however, is try creating a logo for either of them. What would you do? That is something you need to consider, too, when establishing a publishing company. You need a logo. Every company does, it is their identity and eventually it will just become “you” without all the extra words. With that being said, number three was, Lucid Quill Press. It sounds nice, and you could do quite the logo design with that. (Always be thinking about the bigger picture).

But, alas, I went with none of those, I went with “Writer’s Block Press.” Why? Doesn’t that seem counter-intuitive by labeling something that typically has a negative connotation in the writing sphere? Well, here is my reasoning behind it, and this took me a while so trust me, I really planned it out. In all of writing, that is the one phrase that probably EVERYONE knows (perhaps besides basic story terms like: climax, falling action, etc.) Also, it’s ironic. Who doesn’t love a little irony in their life? Taken another way, this publishing company is a block (or group) of writers, all trying to publish books. And finally, what did publishing consist of being today’s digital age, back in the days of Johannes Gutenberg? Well, it was a block press. Literally.

Anyways, there you have it, the idea behind the name. Now as you go out and perhaps create your publishing company, or even create anything in life, make sure that the name has significance, that it’s not just thrown out there, and also make sure you can capitalize on that significance with an awesome graphic design. My logo is getting created for the company right now and when it is done, I will be posting on here for all to see.

Thanks for taking the time to read the first in many blogs posts. Hope you enjoyed it. This has been step #1. Stay tuned for the next installment.