Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Why, Hello There!

Damn, it's been quite some time since I've posted. As promised, I'm bad with keeping a regular schedule, especially when there's not much new going on with my writing. I'm still writing every day, usually in the morning before I go to work. I'm still working on the same novel I've been writing for quite some time.

Unfortunately, I had a little setback with the WIP, a story that I'm calling "Walk a Web of Spiders". I was hoping to have the third draft done by now. If you've been playing along, you'll say, "Hey...weren't you working on something called 'Air'?" Yeah well...I was...I am. The set back was that I got about halfway through with the third draft of my WIP, and realized that I wasn't happy with the direction it was going. The first half was fine, but the main plot really started kicking in during the second half, and that (I think) had the potential to sink the whole damn thing. Therefore, I pretty much scrapped the main plot and started rewriting the second part from scratch. Luckily, it didn't impact the first part much at all. So all of you beta readers who read the first part of "Air", you'll be happy (I hope) to hear that what you read won't change (except for the feedback I'll incorporate). So currently, I'm about 3/4 of the way done with the story's 2nd half, which... if my math is right, is ... ah nevermind.

One thing I've been having a lot of fun with is Google Plus's #SaturdayScenes, a community started by +John Ward where writers can share their work with fellow writers and get very useful feedback. This feedback has been so helpful with my writing. Case in point, I've been sharing the aforementioned WIP scene by scene over the past few months, and the community members really seemed to respond well to one of the subplots... So well, in fact, that it made me rethink (and eventually rewrite) the rest of the story.

As I said, the first half of the story won't change too much, except for the normal progression through the revision process. That part of the story I'm comfortable calling the '3rd draft'. I'm going to periodically post scenes to Wattpad. Feedback is always welcomed and appreciated!

That's about it. I'll try to keep up with the blog more, but again... no promises.

Thanks for reading!

-- Tim.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Revision Process and Other Things

As always, the two weeks I promised in the previous post has turned into a few months. I'd apologize but I know for a fact that I haven't learned my lesson. I'll prove that five months from now when I post again.

In all seriousness, there hasn't been much going on until now. So I haven't had much reason to post. My nose has been to the grindstone, if you will, and that's good. Right?

First, the novel. 'Air'. The first draft has been completed! I did as I said: I buttoned up characters, timelines, plots, etc. The plan worked out really well for me. In the end, a few scenes had to be added, others cut. Now it flows, at least as much as first drafts are supposed to. There's one thing I decided not to do.

After printing out the entire thing, a phone-book-sized work of 630 pages, I decided to simply put it on a shelf and not show anyone. No one. Not even myself. There's a lot of good advice out there on the 'Googles' about editing. One such article is from Wendy Mass's blog post. I plan to lean on it quite a bit when the time is right. But the time isn't right. I'm going to wait. I figure, how can I edit something from an outsider's perspective when I lived it for three months straight. The last part of the each sentence would pop in my head before my eyes got there. So I put the first draft aside. It'll sit on my bookshelf, tucked in among works by Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Peter Abrahams and others until July 1st. With luck, maybe some form of osmosis will happen, but even if it doesn't, I'll crack it open at the beginning of July, red pen at the ready. So what to do until then? That leads me to my next bit of news.

I've been writing a short story for the past few weeks, and as of last Saturday, it's been in the hands of my beta readers. They've been amazingly helpful. While I definitely need to fine tune the thing, the good news is that the story isn't too far off key. My goal is to coral all the feedback, make necessary changes and start submitting the story by July 1st. This story, by the way, is called 'For Davey'. I added a synopsis to the Stories and Novels page.

That's it! I promise to post status updates about both the novel revision progress as well as the short story submission status. But notice that I'm not promising as to when.

Thanks for reading!

-- Tim

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

First Draft Completed, Now What?

Good evening all!

I'm back from a long, long, long hiatus from the blog, but it was for the best of reasons. I spent every day since early December working on a new project, the first draft of a story that I'm calling 'Air'. I set a weekly word goal of 7,777 words  (don't ask me why...seemed like a good a number as any), and each week I made sure that I hit or surpassed my goal.

I'm here to tell you that I've done it! I now stand at the far end of that tunnel, the four-month-long tunnel in which we spoke in front of at the time of my last post, when I said that I was going to be starting a new project soon. Do you see me leaning in from behind its stony lip? Can you make out that thing I'm waving in my hand while I grin a victorious grin? Well, I'll tell you. It's a completely-finished first draft! And it's so much more. It's 129,000 words worth of clay. There's some semblance of what it can become. I can see it even now, though to most it is still lost in the pudgy, shapeless folds that looks more like mechanically separated chicken than anything else. That's okay. I am armed with my scalpel... ready to carve something beautiful that everyone (hopefully) can enjoy. And yes...it's a bit daunting.

You see, I've written a few short stories before, two of which have gotten published in magazines. I've written the first draft of a 100k novel but it was full of dead ends and obstacles that were too mountainous for my level of experience. I (temporarily) put it aside. Some day, I'll go back to it, I swear. For now, my experience with actual editing stops with the completion of those aforementioned short stories. 5K words compared to what I'm looking at with 'Air'...big difference... a helluva big difference.

I've been doing a lot of research on different methods of editing. A lot of what I'm planning is being pulled directly from Chuck Wendig's playbook. You can find it here. It's a great and very helpful post, one every hopeful writer should read.

One of Chuck's first suggestions is to get feedback from beta readers. OK, great. But there's a problem already. I've shown up to the marathon, just shy of the gunshot that will start me barreling towards the finish line, only to realize that I left my damn running shoes at home. My story is chock full of unfinished scenes, plot holes and dialogue so far out there that a conversation between two crack whores would seem more intellectual. Some characters have mullets and drug problems in scene 10, but then are corporate CEOs with sexy last names by scene 20. I won't even go into all the time paradoxes and location inconsistencies.

So what am I to do? I can't send this slosh of horse manure to beta readers. It'll make their head explode, and that won't help me. I think I have a plan figured out. Before I'm ready for beta readers, I will take care of the following:

  • Characters: For each of the major and minor characters, create a character-detail page. This page will have descriptive information, personality information, history, notes, hobbies, mannerisms, etc. Create a keyword out of the character's full name and link it to this detail page. (I use Scrivener, and I highly recommend it to everyone. Click here for an idea of what I'm talking about when it comes to keywords. Then search all scenes for that character. If the character has a relevant presence in a scene, attach the character's keyword to the scene. After visiting all of those scenes, you'll not only have a comprehensive list of all scenes in which this character participates, you'll also have the description page instantly available to make sure all the character info jives across all the scenes. I'll then do this for all the characters...well...all the characters that deserve it.
  • Timeline: Create a timeline on a separate page that has all the major and the more important minor events that take place in the story. Also include the ages of the participating characters when these events occurred. Shuffle the scenes around to the proper order based off the timeline (Again...Scrivener to the rescue. One of the beauties of Scrivener is the ability to easily move scenes around).
  • Marking Plots/Subplots: This goes hand in hand with the timeline bullet. Just as I created keywords for the characters, create keywords for the plots/subplots and attach them to the scenes as well. The beauty here is that if I want to navigate a particular plot from beginning to end to see how it flows, I can do a search for that plot's keyword and be shown only the scenes that have that keyword attached. Awesomeness to the nth degree!
  • Places: Create a keyword for all the relevant places that pop up more than once in the story and attach it to the scenes where the location is mentioned. Also create a location-description page if necessary and attach the keyword there as well. Just like for the characters, what we have is an easy way to find all the relevant scenes and make sure the descriptions all jive. 

I think that after I complete these things, the draft will be ready to see the light of day... at least to a select few beta readers. At that point, I'd love to share how the process worked (or not). Give me a two weeks or so...I'll be back

Thanks for reading!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Don't Bother Knocking

I just finished reading a decent book this morning and did some inward reflection about what it is that gives a book the ability to draw me in and hold me there for its duration.

For some reason, the image of a house popped into my head. It was clad in iron but otherwise nondescript. One thing that stuck out, however, was the single window on its side. A light was shining from somewhere in there. Most importantly, I saw that the window was cracked open.

I could say that that it was the artist in me connecting a thought to something physical, and that I was simply creating art within my mind. I honestly think that I wasn't fully awake yet and my mind was a bit soupy from reading through the last chapter of that not-yet-finished book.

Regardless, I figured I'd have some fun and run with it. So here it is, for better or worse: My comparison of a good novel to a house:

This house exists in a very large neighborhood, one full of very colorful houses, some better looking than others. Nothing unusual in way of books or houses so far, I know.

In this neighborhood, however, the goal is to turn an innocent passerby into a thief, one that takes from the house the very excitement and pleasure that we, the authors/homeowners, build it with. Perhaps we left the blinds drawn and a window cracked open so someone can peek at the goods we have to offer. Should the pane of glass reveal a dire shithole, the would-be-thief might drop his plan and just walk on by. No harm. No foul.

What he sees has to be enticing enough for him to be willing to take a chance... a risk. For this thief, it's not the risk of being apprehended by police, but rather a risk of wasting what precious little time he has. The eye candy seen from the street has to be worth the world to him or at least something that offers that possibility.
And how is he supposed to find out if the house as a whole holds enough worth? By slipping in through the cracked window, of course. But to get him to take the first step, to squeeze through the window is simply not enough. It is truly a first step of many. I've read stories that overwhelm me with so much information at first glance that what I thought to be a house full of treasures was nothing  more than a first room full of clutter. If gems exist there, then they are lost among the vast mountains of junk.

Even if the contents of the first room are rewarding, that in itself is not enough. The thief has to know that even greater treasures are waiting. He just has to decide to look for them, and he has to recognize the need to suck the worth from every room he enters.

Otherwise, the thief simply cuts his losses and makes a quick escape through the window. That isn't good for us as authors. It's our job to fuel the thief's anticipation with the prospect that even greater gems await but can only be found by following the rooms down to the structure's very core.

Finally when he gets to the very last room, he can't be disappointed. We have to fulfill his expectations. After all, we are the ones who baited him all the way down to the keel in the first place. If he feels cheated, be sure that he will be hesitant to visit any more houses owned by this particular homeowner. Even worse, he'll tell his friends that it's not worth the risk.

The thief has to leave with the utmost satisfaction. The risk has to be worth his time and more. With luck, in the back of his mind he might even wonder if the homeowner has another house somewhere nearby, one that may be as rich and rewarding as the first.

Well, that's my analogy. Hope you enjoyed. Either way, it was definitely fun to write out.

Thanks for reading!

-- Tim M.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

'A Taste' and Other Happenings

It's been quite a time since I've updated my blog, but that's okay. I've been busy with the good stuff... writing.

First and foremost, I am excited to say that my short story, A Taste, has been published in the December issue of an awesome magazine called Under the Bed magazine. You can download it to your Kindle, Nook or directly from the magazine's website. No matter what your source, please be kind and leave a review!

In my drunken state of euphoria, I'm giving away The Death Bump, another short story of mine. You can download it here. If you like what you read, I definitely encourage you to buy the December issue of Under the Bed magazine.

In other news... NaNoWriMo went very well. I managed to get over 60k worth of words done in The Sorcerer's Paragon: Book 2. My goal was to write 2k words a day, and I made sure that I stuck to it. I think outlining the entire book beforehand helped a great deal. I used the snowflake method, a method that I described in an earlier post.

As I mentioned in that post, I followed the snowflake method to the letter. While it had its positives, I have to admit that in the long run (in my case anyway), the negatives piled up higher. I got the point where I was so concerned with hitting each part of the outline that my character's own voice got a bit muted in the process. I ignored his input. I didn't let him lead the dance, which was stupid on my part because it is, after all, his dance. The poor guy is little more than a marionette on a string, a cardboard cutout going through the motions instead of being a living, breathing entity. The whole damn thing discouraged me enough to put the WIP aside for the time being.

But that's okay. It's only temporary. I'll fix it sooner than later. And besides, it gave me incentive to begin something that has been thickening in my mind for quite some time, something that I'm really excited about. I began drafting another story that I'm calling Air for the time being. Eventually, I'll go back to Book 2 and complete the first draft, but I feel like I need to get some of Air on virtual paper. This one will be done in the pantser mentality. I have an idea of where I want it to go and a very rough idea of how the characters might get there. I have some of their back story figured out, but I'm looking forward to being surprised by them.

Ok. Back to NaNoWriMo and lessons learned. I learned the importance of sticking to a schedule. Even when my muse decided to leave me by the wayside, even when I was feeling as creative as a freakin' rock, I forced myself to sit at my desk and simply put one word after another until I reached my daily goal. Sometimes the tap refused to loosen, and I struggled for each and every drop. Other times the words poured out like a flood onto the paper. No matter what, I didn't call it a day until I got my 2k words down.

I think I can sum up the importance of keeping to a writing schedule by leaving you with two very good quotes from two very good authors.

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”

- Stephen King

“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o'clock sharp.”

― W. Somerset Maugham

Good stuff, right? That's all for now!

Thanks for reading!

-- Tim

Monday, July 29, 2013

Is Your Work In Progress Safe?

Question: What lengths do you go to to preserve your WIP so that it can survive disaster? I'm a computer systems engineer by day, so I have to deal with architecting backup strategies quite often, and I was wondering what the norm is out there in writers' land.

Do you copy your data from your computer to a USB stick or removable USB drive routinely? Where do you store your backup? Is it somewhere far away from your original copy? Do you test the backup to make sure the media isn't bad?

A few good practices that could save you tons of headaches: 

1). Set a schedule to backup your data to a remote location (usb drive, different computer, etc.). This way you don't have to worry about doing it manually. There are a number of retail applications that can do this for you, but I'd recommend the one that comes built into Windows (if you use Windows that is. I'm sure they make similar free ones for Macs, but I don't know...sorry). 

2). CHECK YOUR BACKUPS! Your data is only as safe as your last good backup. I'd say on a weekly basis, do a test restore to some temporary location. Make sure your restored data is accessible.

3). Regularly store a copy of your backup offsite. If there was a true disaster (flood, house fire, other natural disasters), 10 copies of your files won't save you if they're all stored right next to the original data. While there are online services that you can use (Carbonite, ZipCloud, BackupGenie) they can get pricey and convoluted. For simple backups I'd recommend Google Drive. It's easy and free up to a certain amount of storage space used. I would just use it in conjunction with other methods. This way, there's no single point of failure. For example, you'd lose access to your online files should you lose internet connectivity.

Sorry for rambling, but backups have saved my butt more times than I'd care to count. Make sure your data is safe! Any questions, please feel free to ask!

Thanks for reading!

-- Tim

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ding Ding Ding...It is Time...It Is Time for an Outline!

Ah July! It's a love/hate thing. I love it because it's my birth month, I have off of work for the 4th and there's always mowers humming and charcoal burning somewhere. That crap gets me all sentimental and nostalgic...picnics by the creek with my elders when I was a kid, Creedence crackling over the radio, etc...

Then there's the HATE part. Yes, it's in caps on purpose. July's ugly side means swamp-ass turned up to 11 and a sticky hotness that makes breathing seem like I'm trying to suck in air through a tube filled with putrid, moist gym socks. It means gnats, mosquitoes and having the kids complain about getting to bed while it's still light out. Goodbye comfortably-drinking-coffee-on-the-deck-in-the-early-morn. Hello sunburn and heatstroke!

By midsummer, I always yearn for Fall. This year is no different, though I do have an additional reason to be apprehensive of July and giddy for next season: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

NaNoWriMo is basically this: Write a 50,000 novel in one month. You have from November 1st to 11:59:59pm on November 30th to do it...definitely no small feat. I've never participated in it before, and I am really excited to give it a shot. Should I "win" and surpass 49,999 words, I get, above all, bragging rights. I believe they also give out a certificate and web badge that marks the accomplishment.

Now, how the hell am I supposed to write so much in so little time when I've been working on my first novel, "The Sorcerer's Paragon" for over a year? I am floating about halfway through its second draft. Some days I feel like I'm equipped with a paddle and get through quite a bit. Other days, I'm treading water with merely my cupped, wrinkled hands. What I need for NaNoWriMo is a freakin' outboard motor!

Well, I think I found said motor. It has a name, and that name is outlining. This is where my new apprehension of July comes from. Many moons ago, I slated July to be the month (come hell or high water) that I would gently push my WIPs to the side and squeeze in outlining for book two in preparation for NaNoWriMo...and here we are. Time to figure out a way to get this outline junk out of the way.

Mind you that outlining is, in a way, new to me. I wrote "The Sorcerer's Paragon" from the seat of my pants. I took an intriguing idea and set it free to sodomize MS Word to its heart's content. My role was to just hang on for the ride. This led to an experience that was fun as hell to write, but I'm paying for it now. The story has grown to something a bit more complex than I originally anticipated, and I'm pretty sure that outlining my ideas prior to starting the first draft would have helped tremendously.

I've researched lots of different outline methods, tried a few and finally settled on the snowflake method. To quote the famous Al Bundy, I'm going to "Throw it in the oven and see if it bakes", "Run it up the flagpole and see if it waves"..."Put it in bed with Madonna and see if she sleeps with it."

I'm not going to go into too much detail, but in a nutshell, you start with a one sentence summary of your story and then expand it to a paragraph. You do the same with your main characters. Then you just keep expanding...building it out a little at a time until it evolves into the skeleton of your story. Supposedly it allows you to find and fix flaws before you even begin your first draft, and that makes sense to me. Many times, I found myself sifting through the first draft of "The Sorcerer's Paragon" pissed off at how the chapters refused to line up. A lot of rewrites and rethinking was necessary to get the flow I wanted. I'm still going through that process. If outlining can help me there...I'm in!

The panser side of my brain is a bit upset at me. It yells out, "I call B.S.! You enjoy the surprises hidden in every carriage return! Abort! Abort!"

I scream back, thwarting its logic, "I'm still finding surprises as I flesh out the outline! Shut up, damn you!" Then I awkwardly drop my head as people begin to stare.

As Chuck Wendig says, "To me this is the same dilemma of whether or not you want to know the sex of your baby before it’s born — to me, it’s still a surprise if I learn that fact at 20 weeks and that gives me another 20 weeks to figure out what kind of clothes to buy the little critter."

If you want to read more about the snowflake method, here is it is broken down in steps. I may very well get halfway through it and find it useless, but at the moment I'm digging it. Whatever happens, I'll be sure to let you know.

The hope is that my outline for book two will be done by early to mid August. Then I can concentrate on completing the second and subsequent drafts of book one. When November hits...I'll be ready! I'll be sitting on my deck, watching the rust-colored leaves dance their way down to the frosty ground as my cup 'o Joe breathes steamy breaths into the chilled morning air.

Thanks for reading!

-- Tim

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The ever-adjusting eyes of a writer

This post was going to be solely about writing and my progress with my writing, but first I'm going to lament about a situation I experienced yesterday. If you wish to abort...I guess now's the time.

First let me describe for you an item...a cylinder, a decently hefty one...big enough for me and two friends to crouch inside, but otherwise nothing special. It's made of metal, isn't necessarily anything pretty to look at and is used to store the flammable, liquid remains of long dead and highly pressurized organisms: an oil tank.

From that description, it doesn't sound like the freakin' sealed sludge bowl should require some vast sum of money to obtain, but let me tell you I may have to shove fiddles in my kids' hands and drive them to the subway to earn me a few bucks. Neither my 7 year old nor my 4 year old can play the fiddle, they can both play that 'cute' card all day long. So we're good.

Yep, my oil tank, which must be nearly as old as the creatures that make up the fuel, decided to get gut rot. It's not leaking par say, but it has rusted enough for the oil company to deny me any more deliveries until I get a replacement. At least I have their names, and I will enjoy casting them as victims in my next story, since that's the going rate for raping my wallet.

...teeth unclenching...deep breath...pressure gauges resetting to green...well...maybe yellow...

So here we go. Back to the original purpose of this post: my writing.

I've always heard that your first writing projects suck. They're supposed to suck. It's just a fact of life, and I'm supposed to deal with it. Funny...my first WIP was absolutely boss! For the entire first draft, I was a story-spinning maniac at the helm of something spectacular.

Deep down, I really knew better. I knew I was suffering from 'ugly baby syndrome' (it's my baby, and it's freakin' adorable...to hell with what you think!). It worried me. After all, I have been pouring endless galaxies of time in my novel for more than a year. I don't want it to be time wasted. I don't want to finish the thing only to be told how horrible it is. But how am I supposed to get better if I fail to see the flaws? That was my concern.

I do the homework that should help me to get better. I'm an avid reader, I follow blog posts and community postings on how to improve my writing style. I know about beta readers, but my story isn't ready for that yet. So how am I truly supposed to get better when I am the one and only (and biased) critic?

In poker, it's easy to improve; I see the mistakes. If I go all-in with 2 7, I deserve to walk home shirtless...but at least I learn. By the way, big slick is a shit hand but that story's for another day. Writing seems to be a whole other animal, so how does one not only improve but realize that they're improving?

Interesting...the question was answered the moment I dove head first into my second draft. I originally thought that draft numero dos was defined by touch ups, grammatical corrections, story flow adjustments, yadda, yadda, yadda. Instead it began with the mass murder of entire chapters because they no longer fit or because they were comparable to dog diarrhea. It was heart-wrenching to be sure, but it was enlightening as well. And it got better as I moved forward.

I initially went in guns blazing, but by the time I got to chapter 10, where I basically am right now, there's less of that. More of the original draft is surviving. More chapters are getting polished instead of rewritten.
I am actually watching the transformation of a sucky writer to a less sucky writer, and it makes me really look forward to what the 3rd draft will show me.

So if you're in a similar situation, where you're worried about how bad you are, maybe go back to something you've written in the past. Compare it to what you're doing now and see how far you've come. I bet you'll see a difference.

And if your oil tank beings leaking, well...good luck! I feel your pain.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Unabandoned Blog

Finally, finally, finally I am in the home stretch of my work project! For those who don't know, I work as a Systems Engineer at a pretty tech-savvy company, and I spent the last three months implementing a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure solution. It has been a great experience, but it killed all hopes of getting any serious writing done. Even when I had a sliver of time to put pen to paper, my mind couldn't fly free. It was tethered to the set-in-stone due date of my VDI project.

 But now the work project is on the ropes. I was able to get back in the groove of writing this past weekend and am proud to report that I hammered out over 3,000 words of new content and kneaded in another chapter of existing material (a lot for me given that I only write before the kids wake up).

I also got brave and finally decided to cut a secondary character's point of view from my story. Hell, it was his own fault, he stopped talking to me well before I was done with him. Though I know it made the story better, it's going to take a lot of work to fill in the gaps. But that's okay because I feel like I'm finally back in the thick of things.

In addition to getting back to my story, I'm also dusting off my blog (poor thing's been attention-starved for quite some time) and starting the outline of my second novel that I plan to conquer during November's NaNoWriMo. The novel will be the second in a series of four or five.

Finally, to give you an update on my latest short story, A Taste: it's still looking for a home. I sent it out to about 8 different markets so far and got the 'thanks but no thanks' from most of them, though there are a couple that haven't responded yet. I'll push that story a little harder this month too.

I'm really going to make an effort to update my blog weekly and my other social media accounts even more. This dingy, lonely place will be sparkling again...well...relatively speaking.

So here we go!

Thanks for reading and for sticking around!


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Status of Things

Good evening all!

Even though the better part of my week (nights and weekend included) was claimed by ongoing IT-related projects, I still managed to decently chip away at my writing projects as well.

Critiques for my latest short story, "A Taste", have been coming in over the past two weeks, thanks to my amazing beta-readers. Over the last week, I've gathered and summed their critiques and fixed a lot of things that both the readers and I thought were lacking in the story. Yesterday and today, I put a few more rounds of polish on it. There isn't much more to do before I start submitting "A Taste" to different publications. I'm really excited about this story.

Though I love my first published short story, "The Death Bump", I can easily see how much my writing skills have improved since then. One beta-reader actually said that certain parts of "A Taste" made her 'shudder'. It's awesome to hear something like that.

Speaking of "The Death Bump", I'm thrilled to announce that it has been added to www.barnesandnoble.com. If you haven't already, please download it, read it and tell me what you think. It's free!

Lastly, with my short story nearly completed, I went back to the second draft of "The Sorcerer's Paragon". Currently editing chapter 5 of 34, I know that I have a long way to go, but I am at a good place and hope to have more to report on it soon.

One more thing: if you would be interested in being a beta-reader, please let me know. I'd be grateful for your help!

Thanks for reading!

-- Tim

Friday, February 8, 2013

Next Stop on the Blog Hop

Wow! Two posts in one week? The planets must be in perfect alignment or something! You can thank Mr. +Andrew Gaeta for this special occasion  just as I thank him. He was kind enough to link to my blog in  a "Blog Hop", which until last week, I had never heard of.

I recently met Andrew in a Google+ Community called "Writer's Discussion Group". It's a fantastic place filled with writers of all kinds. There is more talent and spirit to be found there than I could ever hope to detail justly. Please check out his blog. If you like my writing style, I think you'll find that he is right up your alley.

Without further ado...onto the questions!

Q. What is the name of your work in progress?
A. My novel is currently titled "The Sorcerer's Paragon", but as the draft count increases, so does the likelihood that the title will change.

Q. Where did the idea come from for the book?
A. I actually came up with the story in a backwards manner. I thought of a twist that would take place at the end, something that really made me think, "Wow! That's F-d up!"  Okay, okay...that's only part of it. The other part stems from my love of the old-school fantasy games: Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy...anything where you needed to travel over vast, beautiful, and yet dangerous lands in order to reach a certain state (state of mind, state of strength, state of magic, etc.). Only when that state is reached can you go on to fulfill your destiny.

Q. What genre does your book fall under?
A. Fantasy, definitely...I wouldn't quite call it dark fantasy, though I do have ogres, not unicorns.

Q. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
A. Gary Oldman would make an excellent choice for Silas W., the main character's teacher. As for the main character...some up-and-coming actor who hasn't had any major breakthrough roles.

Q.  What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
A.  I'm very sorry for cheating, but I have yet to master the one-sentence synopsis. Here is the 5-sentence version:

Garridan Beastu is a boy almost of age, a boy with remarkable but unknown powers. Although he is unaware of the magic coursing through his veins, The King of Dradu is not as blind. He has visions of a boy capable of destroying his kingdom and calls for Garridan's swift execution. With the aid of a mysterious sorcerer, Garridan manages to escape the attack, but his loved ones are not as lucky. Armed with the teachings of his new friend, Garridan takes on a quest of vengeance, a quest that requires the awakening of his power, one that will end with nothing but the king's demise.

Q. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
A. I plan on running it through the machine out of curiosity if nothing else. Honestly, I am really on the fence whether to self-publish or not. I would be proud to release it either way. Let's see how my tune changes after the first few dozen rejection notices. :)

Q.  How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
A. Far too long. I'd say about a year. This novel is my first, and I spent a lot of time cleaning up after myself once I figured out what the hell I was doing. I didn't plan properly from the get-go. I didn't outline. I had tons of info-dumps to contend with...yadda yadda yadda.

Q. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
A. This is a loose answer...but if I HAVE to choose I'd say the following: The Hobbit, because of the quest aspect and A Game of Thrones, because of how the different POV characters contribute their own voice to flesh out the different "sides" of the story.

Q.  Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A. A few things actually. I have a love for quests, as I eluded to in an earlier question. On a deeper level, I was inspired by the many facets of human nature. The main character has a reason for his quest: revenge, revenge for the family that was taken from him. But during his quests, he learns that there are more important things. The story also has a secondary POV character. Throughout, he struggles with whether to side with his conscience or his king's wishes. In the end, it's the characters that make a story come to life. So I'm inspired by the fact that it's my job to make them as lifelike as possible and that it's my job to tell their story justly.

Q. What else about your book might pique the readers' interest?
A. My story belongs to the fantasy genre...it's true. I have magic, enchantments, wondrous creatures and beautiful/dangerous worlds. But I also have deeply seeded human elements that are discovered through the eyes of very interesting characters. Revenge, betrayal, the love of family, and the willingness to stand up for what you believe in no matter what the costs may be...these are the elements that the reader will find. These are the elements that will pull the reader in and let them breath the same air as the heroes and villains alike.

Whew...that was draining. Now it's my turn to introduce the next writer in the blog hop, +Jessie Mahoney. I have been following her blog for awhile, and it's very good. She's the author of the The Community Vampire Series, and her novels can be purchased on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, LuLu and SmashWords. Stop by and visit her here. She has some excerpts from her books available...you won't be disappointed!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Unveiling the Hero

After countless drafts, I am comfortable with sending my hero out into the ether, just to introduce him to you (if only for a quick hello).  His name is Garridan Beastu, and though he doesn't know it yet, great things are in store for him, if he can overcome the challenges. He is the main character of my novel, "The Sorcerer's Paragon", which is currently undergoing its second draft.

This scene is my favorite so far. To me, it captures the mood just as I wanted it to. In it, Garridan is attending the Harvest Promise Festival with his sister, Carling. Unbeknownst to him, his world is less than a few hours from unraveling.


Quick bursts of green, blue and pink skyfire lit up the night and rained down upon the clearing in brilliant, spiny fingers. Each one thudded powerfully against Garridan’s body, quivering his insides to jelly and causing Carling, who was perched mightily upon his shoulders, to tense up around his neck as if her life depended on it. He could barely hear her laughter over the booms.

The clearing had been thriving with people ever since late afternoon, when the Harvest Promise Festival began. Tents, produce tables, makeshift spits and game booths dotted the land but were all abandoned when the skyfire started.

Garridan looked around at his fellow villagers. Everyone was standing shoulder to shoulder in awe and silence with their eyes stationed at the heavens, their faces awash with the colors dictated from above.

Carling squeezed him tightly as another one sounded over the land, and he looked up to catch its aftermath. This one seemed to be directly above them. Blue sparks swam down from the sky and dissolved into nothing as they neared. For a moment, Garridan pretended that there was no one else in the world but he and his sister. The open night sky filled his eyes, and the trees wrapped around his periphery. Beyond the veil of thin smoke shone the stars and an elegant moon whose light would cast a calm brilliance over the land if not for the constant bombardment of skyfire.

The perfect end to a perfect day, he thought.

The festival was truly alive and shy to not one of the senses. Even from the very beginning, when he and Carling were still playing their own games, he could feel its energy creeping in. It laced the crisp air, riding on the sounds of woodwind music, dressed with the thump of deep drums that brought the villagers together in dance. It set the tempo for the rest of the evening. Carling, more than once, caught Garridan eyeing the more attractive girls as the music rippled through them, but she didn’t seem to mind.

“So you like dancing?” she laughed as she grabbed his arm and parodied the older girls.

It wasn’t long before the scent of food rivaled the music for rights to the breeze. Roasted ducks and chickens sizzled and snapped from their spits and set free an aroma that made his mouth water. It blended with the smells of fresh made candies and baked goods that lingered on still, even after the skyfire’s sour smoke settled over them.

Carling’s legs squeezed his shoulders again, returning him to the moment. That’s when he saw him, past the wide gap of the clearing, beyond the heavy sprinkle of villagers that could look nowhere but up. The man dressed in black, the outsider. In a fevered pace, the dark figure was skirting the forest, and though masked by night and only given up by the thick foliage in slivers, Garridan could sense his urgency.

Garridan swung his eyes over the crowd, careful not to move his body, careful not to garner Carling's attention. No one else seemed to notice the man just as the man didn’t seem to notice anything at all. He simply continued on, dodging brush and outstepping the clutches of the forest floor.

Suddenly, as he was about to leave Garridan’s periphery, the man charged into the forest. Another boom of skyfire swallowed the land in pink hues, but Garridan barely took notice. Instead, his eyes were pinned to the forest’s threshold, waiting for something else, anything else.

Then it happened, though the timing was such that yellow skyfire took all the praise and no one else but Garridan saw it. Pure light pulsed from within the trees, near where the outsider pushed through just moments ago...one succinct, subtle blast. For as short-lived as it was, the light grabbed an old piece of Garridan’s soul and wouldn’t shake loose. He knew what brought the light. His father had spoken of it with such vigor after he went mad.

“Magic,” he gasped.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Splendors of Writing

To all the writers out there, from my mind and through my keyboard comes a question aimed at your eyes: Why do you write? Do you feel it a duty to bless the world with your stories? Do you have something to get off your chest? Perhaps you feel that you can add your own paint to something that is so routine and normal that its original color has worn away. Maybe writing serves as an outlet for your creative genius. How about 'all of the above'?

So what's my answer? Should I answer with 'all of the above' and be done with it? That'd be too easy, and I'm far too long-winded.

The fact is that writing doesn't make any money for me and actually takes a good portion of the little spare time I have. So why do it? Yes, it is an outlet. Yes, I like to tell stories. Mostly, however, I do it because I find it amazing that words, when put together in that perfect sequence, are capable of pulling the reader into my world...my splendid world that was born from nowhere else but my own mind. With a little effort, our dear reader is breathing the same air as my heroes, my villains and any other creatures/characters that didn't dare to exist before I came along.

Watching my characters come alive is another reason that I love to write. I simply give them a name, a face and a little dash of persuasion. After that, I stand back and wait for them to surprise me, and I am rarely let down. Try as I may to contain them in an outline, they find a way to bend and stretch it into one that better fits them. 

So again I ask, why do you do it? What are your most cherished reasons for writing?

Thanks for reading!

-- Tim

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Writing Process By Tim

Good evening all! It's been quite some time since my last update. For that I apologize. That being said, I've been keeping true to my writing routine: daily before work and weekends before the kids get up. The second draft of my novel is coming along nicely. Of course I wish the pace was a little faster, but all in all I'm happy with the progress. I have the first five chapters of my novel completed. I let some willing souls beta-read them for me (thanks to you all). The response has been positive so far.

My story 'A Taste' hasn't been touched in months. I blame it on my novel; I've been spending all my writing time on that. I may actually put the novel on the back burner this weekend and try working on the short story for a change of pace. As I said before, the first draft is complete, so I have to concentrate on adding a bit more color to it.

As I was working on my story this morning, I took a step back and thought about my particular writing process...that it might be interesting to talk about. Why? Because I don't really like it that much. But since it has worked for me so far, I won't be changing it anytime soon.

To me, the ideal style would be to crank out an entire story in a way that's akin to carving a wooden sculpture with an ax, wildly chopping away until a rough, vague idea of what was intended stands before me. Then, only when the course has been charted from beginning to end, would I go back and etch with a fine blade until the masterpiece I envisioned comes to life.

How does that differ from my method, you ask? This is generally how things go (don't laugh): I first define the purpose for the chapter, what the chapter needs to accomplish in the grand scheme of the story (so far...nothing unusual). Then I start writing, hoping to do what I mentioned above...write like a mad man until I reach the end, saving the fine-tuning for a later date. I can get through a few paragraphs in that manner if I'm lucky...a few sentences if I'm not. The next thing I do is reread what I wrote and fine-tune it to no end until I am absolutely satisfied that it is as perfect as it can be. 

After that, I write some more in that lovely, loose fashion until I find myself compelled to revisit the very first sentence and reread the entire thing again. I again make my myriad of edits and updates until I am thrilled with the results. So it goes until I finally carve out an entire chapter. I feel like I'm knitting a sweater, always tightening the stitches that I already completed, while the rest of the threads dangle hopelessly below. Because of this insane method, each chapter takes weeks upon weeks to complete. On the plus side, once a chapter is done the subsequent drafts are little more than touch ups.

If there are any other writers out there reading this, I'd be curious to your process. How to you pull the stories from your mind and pour them on the paper? In dribs and drabs or by the pail full?

Thanks for reading!

-- Tim

Saturday, September 22, 2012

September Updates

Just as the grass is coming into fruition, so are my writing projects! I am proud to say that I have unofficially completed the 1st draft of "The Sorcerer's Paragon"! WOO HOO! I say unofficial because I know there are a few chapters that need to be added. The 2nd draft phase, unfortunately, won't simply consist of spelling corrections and word-choice revisions like I thought, but chapter additions/rewrites, character additions/coloring, etc. There is still a lot of work to be done, but it is moving along at a reasonable pace.

I haven't started the 2nd draft of "A Taste", my second short story, like I promised I would. My intention was to start the 2nd draft after completing the 1st draft of my novel. The reality is is that I'm having way too much fun working on the novel. I like the direction "A Taste" is going, and I'm sure I'll pick it up again soon...just not yet.

"The Death Bump" is no longer available on the online version of Allegory Magazine (sad face), since their Fall issue is now available. If you want to get "The Death Bump" from there, it still can be retrieved in print form via their archives. I think there's a small charge for it. Now I am wondering what to do with that short story. I guess my options are to display it freely for all to see (like it was on Allegory's site) or try to shop it around some more. For now, I think I'm going to keep it to myself until I get more accomplished with my other projects. But if anyone would like to read it again or for the first time, please let me know, and I will gladly ship it your way!

Thanks for reading!

-- Tim