Tag Archives: blogging

A Thank You to my Readers.

Just a quick note…

Some of you may know that I recently had back surgery. I have spent the last month at home and I am just now getting back to work. It’s been more of a struggle to keep my head straight than I thought it would be. In fact, many days of late I feel lost in the woods.

A while back I was taught that when I was living in a bad headspace, one thing I could do was to make a gratitude list — things in my life for which I was grateful to have. I’m keeping most of that list to myself, except one thing.

I am grateful for my readers. And lately, I’ve been getting a lot of visitors here and I am not entirely sure why. But it puts a big sloppy grin on my face so I will take it.

For anyone who has ever taken a minute to read one of my posts, poems, or whatevers AND/OR those who have taken the time to listen to my podcasts or interviews AND/OR to those who have read and/or reviewed my books…here’s an owl.

thank-you-clip-art-236576

You are the fuel that keeps me going. THANKS!

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My Writing Process: A Blog Hop Stop

Blog Hops are these neat little things where different bloggers build bridges between their worlds and hopefully introduce their readers to someone new. There are all kinds of themes for blog hops. This particular one is about the writing process.

Sidney Williams from Sid is Alive passed the baton my way for this leg of the blog hop. Sid is a friend, colleague, and fantastic horror writer and I recommend that you check him out.

Now on to the questions:

What am I working on?

I have several projects under way. For the past six months I have been working on a manuscript for a horror novel (it’s Trainspotting in a haunted house) and a poetry collection with a friend of mine. I’m also doing a fair bit of copywriting and reporting regularly for GenuineOrlando.com.

And…I recently finished a one-month Bizarro writing workshop on Litreactor.com, hosted by one of the pillars of the genre, Rose O’Keefe (publisher of Eraserhead Press). I managed to crank out three short stories and I am putting together a few pitches for potential bizarro novellas.

This is by far the most exciting thing I am currently working on.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I’d like to think that it has to do with the referential nature of my writing, along with my talent for satire. My first (and currently only) novel, Leather to the Corinthians, is a bit of a genre mash-up that many found hard to describe. Perhaps that is not the best thing for marketing, but hearing someone say that you just HAVE TO READ IT TO UNDERSTAND IT…that feels great to me.

I have also been told that the book is weird, wild, bizarre, etc. I’ll take that too.

I wrote the book I wanted to write.

Why do I write what I do?

To kind of piggyback on that last thing, I write stories that I would want to read. I have experienced so much STORY in my life, through reading, watching, and playing. I am well read. I know formula, trope, and cliché. I am always looking for something original. I try to do that with my own work and present an original voice.

How does my writing process work?

I write every day, M-F. Sometimes on the weekends, but that’s typically only if there is a paycheck involved.

I need quiet. I need isolation. I am now at the point in my life where I have my own home office and that has made me much more productive. I am more creative when I am tired or after exercise, so I try to time my sessions to line up with these.

I can write at any time in the day, but until I do, I feel like I left something on the stove.

Or the water running.

Or that I am being crushed by 1000 pounds of dreams and expectations.

Also, I will listen to music that reinforces the mood of what I am writing. Many of my characters have soundtracks or playlists that help me stay true.

Who’s next on the Blog Hop?

I have chosen two wonderful writers for you.

Dominic and I have been friends since I started blogging. We met through WordPress. I love his stuff. He’s so damn authentic. You can find him here – eternalDomnation.com

Linda is a writer and folk artist, and she is amazing at both. Her blog is relatively new and each post is so very well crafted. Find her at: Lindapuritz.wordpress.com

I am a Very Interesting Man.

7 Interesting Things About Me: The Versatile Blogger Award

I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger award by Nemesis Brown of An Empty Space . If you haven’t been over to her page, you should go take a look. She is a fantastic writer.

So here are the rules!

versatile-blogger-award-imageDisplay the Award Certificate on your blog. Check.
Announce your win with a post. Make sure you post a link back to me as a ‘thank you’ for the nomination. Check.
Present 15 awards to 15 deserving bloggers. Check.
Leave them a comment to let them know after you have linked them to a post.
Post 7 interesting things about yourself. Check.

7 interesting things about myself…let’s play with this a bit. Versatile is the name of the award, so how versatile am I? Here are seven anecdotes from seven jobs I have held.

ONE

My first “real” job was at Little Caesars at Joe Louis Arena (the home of the Detroit Red Wings). I was 15 at the time and basically shoved pizzas into a conveyor oven for three hours a night. It was downtown, and I had to ride the bus as I didn’t have a car at the time.

The bus was always filled with colorful characters. Once I met a man who claimed he was Jesus (who am I to judge? Maybe he was. I just thought Jesus would smell nicer). Another attempted to sell me a bag of oregano (hey kid, want to get high or perhaps make a nice spaghetti sauce?).

I was too young to work past 10 pm, so they when cut me loose I would immediately go find a seat to watch the rest of the game. Sadly, this was 1986 and the Red Wings SUCKED.

TWO
I spent a summer/fall as a roofer. It was one of those gap-filling jobs. I’ve never gone more than a few weeks without working since age 15 (see previous). I should be a millionaire by now.

My last roofing gig that year was on Halloween. I was working with one other guy who let me know he had to take the ladder and head over to another job for an hour.

“I’ll be right back,” he said.

Can you see where this is going? Yeah, he didn’t come back.

I was on that roof for hours, well into the evening. As trick-or-treaters wandered through the neighborhood, they pointed to the roof as if I were a part of the decorations. Check out that scary tattooed guy! They got a real serial killer for their house! Wow!

The family that I was working for finally came home around 10pm and I jumped onto the roof of their minivan and then to sweet Mother Earth. The cab ride home ran me $60.00. More trick than treat.

And my work partner? Turns out he had warrants and when he was pulled over for speeding, he was done for a while. I think he might still be in prison. Now look over at one of your co-workers. Let that sweet doubt trickle in….

THREE
The summer before I began my career as a teacher, I needed a quick job for about 8 weeks. Just something to bring in a few checks before my real job started up. As I have used my cooking skills to cover the lean times (no pun intended), I beat the streets until I found a local restaurant that needed someone. I strolled right in, introduced myself to the chef and was hired on the spot.

My goal was to be completely brain-dead for two months. Just work a broiler and a grill, keep my head down, and quit when it was time. No, I didn’t tell them it was a temporary job. Ain’t I a stinker?

It only took a few days before they realized I was capable of fully realized thoughts. Dammit. I was approached by the chef and asked if I could run the kitchen for a few days while he went out of town. With a sigh, I accepted.

A few days after he “left town”, I saw him fueling up his Jeep at the corner gas station. Leaning against the pump, he looked rather pleased with himself. That is until he noticed me standing by my car with my jaw open. With that, he jumped into his car and sped away.

I was puzzled by this but said nothing to the kitchen staff. Two days later the owner told me that the chef just checked into rehab.

I ran the kitchen for 6 more weeks and quit without notice.

FOUR
My first teaching job, as is the case with many, was as a substitute teacher. I spent the first few weeks bouncing from school to school until I found a long-term subbing job for a teacher out on maternity leave.

It was a trial by fire. The job was teaching sixth grade Language Arts at a D rated school in a high-crime neighborhood. Campus was closed promptly at 3 pm each day, and the staff was encouraged to run for their lives at the end of each school day.
Having grown up in Detroit, I was not intimidated by the environment. In fact, it was familiar.

My classroom was in a portable trailer on the far end of campus. It was also adjacent to a construction site. It was the lawless borderlands, and I was its lone guardian. In the nine weeks I was at the school there were two bomb threats and a gun found in a student’s backpack. This was “normal”.

One afternoon, one of my students (remember, this is a sixth grade class) was out of sorts. Her voice slurred, and she seemed to have difficulty staying awake during my riveting lecture. She stood to ask me if she use to the bathroom and suddenly fell towards the floor.

Imitating The Flash, I managed to cross the room in a blur and catch her before she hit. I yelled for the students to clear the room, and I ran to the school nurse, cradling her in my arms.

She looked up to me and admitted that she had chugged a 40oz of beer and a handful of Tylenol PMs before school. She was twelve years old. After a brief stint in the hospital, she returned to class and transformed into the highest scoring student of the term.

FIVE
Far less dramatic but with an enduring lesson…I spent a summer in college painting houses. The company I worked for was quite small and specialized in painting wood slat homes with a hand brush. It was tedious, meticulous, and ridiculous.

We spent one month on a four-story monstrosity that required us to use ladders at full extension and at times we were easily 35 feet in the air. For a young guy with little experience working on ladders, it was somewhat intimidating.

One day I simply could not go up the ladder. I would freeze in place by the third rung. I tried and tried, but I could not get myself to go up that ladder. The foreman noticed my struggle. Shaking his head as he walked over to me, he pointed to the roof of the house.

“Having a hard time today, Lucas?”

I mumbled some lame excuse.

“Lucas, it’s simple. The money is not at the bottom of the ladder. The money is at the top of the ladder. Go get your money,” he said.

Slowly, I climbed up that ladder. I made it to the top and got to work. Over 20 years later, his simple lesson rings true on more levels than I think he ever intended. The money IS at the top of the ladder.

SIX
In college, I was a bartender in a speakeasy. A blind pig. An illegal establishment. We rented out adjacent storefronts in what used to be a crap neighborhood in downtown Detroit (it’s now kinda trendy). Three nights a week, at 2am, we opened our doors so that those who “had to leave but didn’t want to go home” could continue to debauch in style.

We were the spot. It’s still a Detroit legend. However, as with most illegal enterprises, we were finally closed by Johnny Law. It took the Detroit Police Department three years to come down on us. Fact was, we weren’t a threat. We had beer, booze, bands, and balloons but none of that hardcore criminal stuff – gambling, prostitution, etc. It was basically just a party.

It was a moment in time that can’t be replicated. I made a ton of cash that paid for college and had a great time. I don’t regret a single minute of it. I have a thousand stories that I will eventually channel into one of my future novels. Good stuff. Crazy stuff.

At the end of my stint, I was arrested and charged with Conspiracy and Operating a House of Ill Repute (I love the sound of that). The second charge was dropped, and once the judge learned I was in college, he gave me six months probation and ultimately expunged the record. I have stayed out of trouble ever since. Squeaky clean and loving it.

SEVEN
I’ve had even more jobs than I have mentioned here, but I’ve saved the best for last. In the fall of 1990, I sold shoes at the Wild Pair. For those of you who don’t remember this shop, it was 80s mall culture at its finest. Chess King was next store, and Merry-Go-Round was across the hall.

We sold trendy 5-inch heels, thigh high boots – anything you would need for a hair metal music video. And videos we had! Three TVs blared hits from BBD, Vanilla Ice, Rick Astley and Debbie Gibson. I can’t watch Fast Times at Ridgemont High without thinking about my few months slinging heels.

fast-times

Now it’s time to pass on the Versa-torch. Check out these lovely bloggers!

http://angellagraffbooks.wordpress.com/

http://kalliopeamorphous.wordpress.com/

http://earwaxdissertation.com/

http://artlesspoems.wordpress.com/

http://sunshinefactor.wordpress.com/

http://kathymorawski.com/

http://katlynn83.wordpress.com/

http://scifijubilee.wordpress.com/

http://elfwriter.com/

http://hastywords.wordpress.com/

http://jordannaeast.com/

http://simplystephanieblog.wordpress.com/

http://eternaldomnation.com/

http://howilost150pounds.wordpress.com/

http://taraalaka.com/

How to Write a Novel

…and Not Lose Your Mind in the Process.

screamIf the title of this post caught your eye, my guess is that at some point you have said:

“I’m going to write a book someday.”

Or perhaps:

“I want to write a book.”

And even better yet?

“I’m working on a book.”

As an instructor in a creative writing BFA and first-time novelist, I salute your ambition. I also offer my condolences.

You’re in for a rough ride. Writing a novel (and I’m just going to talk about novels — not non-fiction, how-to, or self-help books) is an artistic Tough Mudder – only the strong of mind, body, and spirit will survive. It requires craft, determination, and a thick skin. You will also need endless passion for your story and a reliable coffee maker.

Once you commit to writing a book, it will create a huge empty space in your soul that will exist until you type that last word. Even then, there will still be a part of you missing. It will now live in that book. It’s a proverbial pound of flesh.

A fortune cookie once told me that the gift of a painful experience is that you get to pass on your wisdom to those who may face a similar experience. I recently published my first novel, and I would like to spare you the mistakes that I made as I stumbled through the process.

Here’s some advice for your consideration.

1) KEEP IT A SECRET: Tell no one you’re working on a book. NO ONE. Otherwise you will endure constant questions that seem to be encouraging. The moment you tell people about your plans, you will be haunted by well-meaning friends who when seeing you will ask, “So, how’s the book coming?” If you haven’t been working on it, you will suddenly get the sensation that approximately 2 tons of lead weight has been placed on your shoulders. It gets old very quickly.

But…if this is not your first book, tell everybody, especially agents and publishers. Always look busy.

2) SECURE A CORNER: You’re going to need alone time. Create a quiet, isolated place to work, free of distractions.

3) SECURE THE TIME: For me, writing is work not play. I see many writers in my Facebook feed proclaim that they love writing. Personally, I like it a lot more when it’s completed. The actual process is work. When you are busy all day with a job and schoolwork, it can be hard to get motivated to sit down and work some more. Schedule time every day.

Put it on your calendar just as you would a work or school schedule. Commit to it. Time will slip through your fingers, and the world is filled with entertaining distractions such as family, friends, and gainful employment. You will have to lock the time in and defend it with all your might.

4) ORGANIZE: The romantic notion of sitting down to the blank page and showering your brilliance upon it isn’t realistic. That’s not what’s going to happen. Writer’s block is what’s going to happen. Before writing that novel, organize your thoughts. Think out the story. Make lists. Create character sketches. Get it all in a notebook, Evernote binder, or index cards. Take this step as far as you can, it will make the other steps easier, and crush writer’s block where it stands.

5) RESEARCH: Unless you are an expert on all aspects of your story, you will have questions to answer before you begin to write. Setting your story in Tokyo but you’ve never been there? Hit the books. Period piece? Hit the books? Science fiction? HIT THE BOOKS.

Armed with knowledge, you will be free to write without stopping to fact check constantly. You’ll feel confident and that will translate into productivity. You have to know your “stuff” because savvy readers will find your mistakes and you’ll end up as a subthread on Reddit.

6) OUTLINE: You’ve organized your thoughts and story. You’ve done a nice chunk of research. You should have a solid idea of the story you want to tell. Now it is time to look at its structure. Outline the story and take it from beginning to end. You don’t need to know everything, but you need a solid foundation. There will be much more that will come from the process of writing, but the more you know now, the better.

7) WRITE IT: Say bye-bye to free time. The only way your book will be written is if you get your butt in the seat and write. A typical novel has roughly 90k words. You need to know this because you are about to go on a WORD DIET. What this means is that you are going to write 500-1000 words a day (you set this goal) and do nothing else until you reach your word count for the day. If you shoot for 1000 words a day, you’ll have your first draft in three months. Not bad.

8) TAKE A BREAK: Once your manuscript is complete, take a week off. Call your mother — she missed hearing your voice. Do your laundry and get some groceries in the kitchen cabinet. All that fast food is unhealthy.

9) REVISE IT: I have some bad news: the writing was the easy part. You need to go line for line and revise. Tear it apart. Cut unnecessary words. Nothing should be so precious it can’t be deleted. Fix every mistake you find, as for each mistake you fix, there are two that you didn’t see.

10) SEEK CRITIQUE: Now it’s time to tell people you have been working on a book. Rejoice! Find a writing group. Find friends who can provide the tough love. Have them read it. Ask them for feedback. This is a miserable process. You’ll probably feel nauseous most of the time. Hang in there.

11) REVISE AGAIN: Take what you learn from the critique process and apply what is appropriate. Remember, some people don’t like pizza. Opinions are opinions, not law. Stick to your vision, but take what they have to say seriously. Rework that manuscript.

12) HIRE AN EDITOR/PROOFREADER: Seek professional intervention. Hire the best editor and proofreader you can afford. They will tear through your manuscript yet again, but this time it will be with a cold, mercenary eye. It is critical to get professionals involved at this point. You need the best product you can possibly have.

13) BETA READERS: You should have a sparkling draft as this point. Something that has become quite popular is finding beta readers to read the book. They will point out any consistencies or questions that remain. Again, you are soliciting opinion, and not all of them will be appropriate. This process is similar to the focus groups used by Hollywood for years, and they have destroyed some amazing films. Tread lightly.

14) REVISE AGAIN: Sigh, I know.

15) GET PUBLISHED: This article is about writing a novel. Getting published is a conversation for another day. Spoiler: it is just as fun as writing it.

See you on the other side.

Photo Credit: Darwin Bell via Compfight cc

Join me for the Blogger Book Fair: July 22 – 26

July BBF button copyCitizens of the Blogosphere, Web-nauts, and Concerned Third Parties!

Next month I’ll be participating in the semi-annual Blogger Book Fair, and I invite you to join me here for several days of guest posts, author interviews, and other random awesomeness.

But it won’t be random —  this is a large, planned event with a bazillion authors, bloggers, and readers coming together through the click-magic of the Internet. This site is just one pretty float in a parade of book giveaways, author interviews, special events — all kind of excitement. Put on your nice bathing suit and dive into a sea of — ok, that’s just overwrought — I’m trying too hard.

At it’s core, the Blogger Book Fair is an intricately designed blog hop for those that love to read and the writers that love to write for them. Between July 22-26, you’ll be able to visit over 200 websites and check out over 400 books. All while you sip your coffee or whatever it is you put in that mug of yours.

In honor of this event, I’ll be pricing the Kindle version of my novel, Leather to the Corinthians, at 99 CENTS. That’s right, 99 CENTS. Outrageous.

More details to come.

You can learn more about the Blogger Book Fair here, or visit their Facebook Page.

Enjoy the weekend and try to stay out of trouble.

Party of the Year

I can bring only a
Silent gasp
To this party

Volume of madness
Levels of excess
Devoid of substance

This gathering of mistakes
Which beg only
Give it give it

What is temporary
Is of the most strength
Weakness of the fleeting

Here for the moment
On standby for ruin
By your hands

All that was ever wanted
Was love but the party
Was about something else

Fuck the guests
They were fools
To begin with.

Photo Credit: Maarten Thewissen via Compfight cc

Introducing Flashback Fridays!

Hey folks,

Hard to believe it’s almost the end of April. I’ve been so busy (in a good way) that I haven’t noticed the days flying off the old wall calendar. In fact, I have just realized that I have been blogging for just over a year now. How could I forget my own blogiversary? Bad blogger!

A wise woman once told me that the only way to get through the daily grind was to have good things planned in the future. That way, you always have something to look forward to. Since hearing that, I have always tried to keep something on the horizon so I don’t get pissed off all the time.

I’m excited for the upcoming months. The course I teach is coming into its prime. I am wrapping up my initial marketing plan for Leather (soon to be on maintenance mode), and I have started my research and planning for my next novel. It’s a ghost story set in St. Augustine, so I have a trip or two to take. Also, I am dipping my toe into some copy writing to help put a bit more cheddar on the table. I’m cocked and ready to rock.

On the blog front, I will be keeping my sanity by trying to focus on three major topics for posts:

  • The process of researching and writing my next novel.
  • Presenting a cooperative/competitive poetry project with one of my oldest friends (and one hell of a writer).
  • Bringing new light to old and very old work (welcome to Flashback Fridays).

As this is Friday, you can safely assume that it’s time for a Flashback!

I have been writing all my life, and one thing I have managed to do…inexplicably…is hold on to every notebook, every scrap, every note. I’ve lost pretty much everything else thanks to moving a million times, a tornado, and a flooded basement. However, I have held on to my words. I’m currently going through old notebooks, and I will be bringing out writings that have never been presented publicly. The words have just been sitting in stasis. It’s time to wake them up.

For the most part, I am presenting the raw material. Maybe a tiny tweak or two. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. Many of the pieces I will post are probably terrible. However, I think there is a truth in putting it out there. I have also found that since I started blogging some of my most trivial words have registered more deeply with some readers than those that I have broken my back to craft. And, for those of you that are fellow writers, I think you know all about the struggle to find your voice. Ok, this is true for any creative type. As I bring out the old words for a nice stretch, I consider it a chance to see where I have been, what’s changed, and what I may have forgotten was important. I’m hoping that through this process, I will learn more about myself and continue to grow as a writer. I’m sure there’s going to be some clunkers, some rough gems, and perhaps a golden bird or two. Should be interesting. Even more interesting to me is that half of the material I have found I don’t even remember writing. Wow.

Here’s the first Flashback Friday offering. My guess is that I was about 20 when I wrote this. I think I was focused on the need for control over my personal life.

 

Fate Determines

The one to which all eyes turn

Opposed or loved

It has happened

The past comes to haunt

The masses will have you

Until they determine

Your time is up.

 

Be the representation

Abandon your wishes

For the good of the dumb

And the evil of the knowing

 

Avatar

God UNhuman

Myth as man

Figurehead

Funnel of blame

Walking faith

 

Live as the temple that breathes

Until they tear your bricks to the ground.