Friday, April 20, 2018

Can art be created quickly? / Happenings In The Outhouse 20-Apr-2018

Two weekends ago, my wife and I saw the movie I Can Only Imagine. 

At that point, the movie had been out for three weeks, so we thought there would be plenty of places to sit.  Wow, were we wrong!  The place was packed!  We sat in the front row, which was an ideal place to begin with as my wife is legally blind.  And the movie?  In short, it was amazing!

Which brings me to the reason behind this post, about art being created quickly.

At the beginning of the movie, Bart (the lead singer for MercyMe who wrote the hit song that the movie was named for) was being interviewed by someone (no spoilers here, as I won't share who this was) and asked about the song's creation.

Bart told the interviewer that he wrote the lyrics in about ten minutes, and the music in about as much time.

The interviewer then objected and said no, it had been written over his lifetime.

Sorry, but the interviewer is wrong.  There are plenty of artists who, on a whim of inspiration, have written great works in short periods of time.  I do know why the interviewer said what she said, that it was what he had experienced in his lifetime that led up to the creation of their iconic song.  But great works of art can be created in short periods of time.

Don't believe me?  Here's a link to a list of 10 novels written in less than a month.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Keep your goals visible (AKA My Next 5 Things) / Happenings In The Outhouse 13-Apr-2018

I'm embarking on a new venture, under a pseudonym.  I am roughly 5,000 words into a romance story, and it's going well.  It was slow going at first, but lately has ramped up.

I've preached before about the importance of goals.  I don't do New Year's resolutions.  Simply, they don't work.  I set goals year-around.

I also do not participate in NaNoWriMo (the National Novel Writing Month) which occurs every November.  Instead of writing in November, I write all the time--or mostly everyday.

I've had to revamp how I set my goals.  I have a two-year plan, but in the meantime what do I do?

Last week was the start of a new quarter.  I wrote down 5 things to accomplish.  I call it "My Next 5 Things."

I wrote down 5 things I want to accomplish in the second quarter.  It's a manageable list, and I see it everyday.

I have also set a weekly writing goal.  I have it broken down into a daily goal for 5 days (minus the weekends) as well as the full 7 days.

So far, it seems to be working.

What have you tried to accomplish your goals?  How about one goal a month?  It's okay to start small.

Friday, April 6, 2018

New Ventures - New Challenges / Happenings In The Outhouse 06-Apr-2018

I wasn't happy with the productivity behind my last project, so I'm amping it up on my next and future projects.

Training Grounds was started around the first of the year, and completed only last month.  And it's a novella, to boot.  I've written other novellas in a matter of weeks.  Not months.

I apologize right now for my secretiveness, but I'm experimenting with a few new things.  If they work, from a productivity standpoint, I'll share my findings and what they are.  It could be something you can try too.  Keep in mind, everyone's working style is different.  For the past few years, I logged all of my writing days on a spreadsheet, and almost obsessed with having as few non-writing days as possible.  But around November 2017, due to health and other personal issues, I had more non-writing days than I liked and it stressed me out.  So I quit the spreadsheet.  Oddly enough, my productivity increased and I finished the novel.

But something happened after the first of the year.  One thing I discovered is that I need a publishing goal.  A date.  Something to shoot for.  If I have to change it, I will.  But with no deadline to shoot for, I find myself lingering on and on . . .

Okay, now for the new stuff.  I am currently writing . . . drum roll please . . . a romance novel.  I'm roughly 2,500 words into it, and it's going well.  I have another one I'll write right afterwards.  But I will not share the title here.  Why?  I'm experimenting with a pseudonym.  I know, pen names can have its pros and cons.  I'll need a separate website and such.  But I have my reasons, after juggling the pros and cons.

Why a pseudonym?  Because in the romance world, men don't sell as well as women.  It sounds sexist, I know, but that's the reality.  So, my pen name will be initials.  It won't resemble my name at all.

It should be fun.  I'm looking forward to the results.  I've never written romance before, but I have added romance elements into my stories before.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Training Grounds is up for pre-order / Happenings In The Outhouse 30-March-2018

Training Grounds, the first shorter work in the Central Division Series, is up for pre-orders.  Publication date is May 1st, 2018.

"Immediately following the harrowing events in BEHOLDER’S EYE, the first thriller novel in the Central Division series, Minneapolis PD investigators Kolin Raynes and Simon Templeton are once again back in Glade, Minnesota, to further investigate the aftermath of the elusive serial killer.

They may know what drove the Video Slayer to do what she did, but how did she do it?  Did she have help or was she a lone killer in her monstrous deeds?

Kolin and Simon delve deep into the mysteries surrounding the serial killer in this crime scene investigative mystery drama."

Here is a link to my website, for a list of all of your favorite e-retailers.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Night People (Short Story) / Story of the Week 24-March-2018

Roughly almost two decades ago, I used to work as a corrections officer.  It was for a county jail.  My short story Night People came about as I worked nights as a CO and some of the more . . . interesting people one would meet.

Night People wasn't meant to be a paranormal romance when I first wrote it, but that's what ended up being.

Night People is about a lady named Abby Stone who has an abusive ex-husband.  But one man comes to her rescue, in the most peculiar way.

Please check out Night People on the following link to your favorite ebook retailer.

Friday, March 23, 2018

The curse of a creative / Happenings In The Outhouse 23-March-2018

Last week, I wrote on how life experiences can enhance one's art.

Expanding on that notion, this young person whom I spoke about recently created something that involved a school shooting which, in his mind, shouldn't have been taken seriously.  Well, many people in his community did.  This young person even had three law enforcement officers visit with him, asking him to take his creative work down.  Especially in light of recent events, even if it isn't to be taken seriously and meant to only highlight how our society is heading, he saw the gravity of the situation and rectified it.

This begs the question of a curse.  The curse of a creative.  A few members of this young person's family are trying desperately to discover why he created what he did, and even went as far as to say that evil resides in him--which is a horrible thing to say, given that we're all sinners and no one is perfect.

No question about it, the tragedy in recent events are horrible.  But blame the person, not the objects used or those around him.  Only this piece of crap is to blame.

Going back to the young person I spoke about: what if he wrote a song about a person who was bullied in school, humiliated beyond all manner of comprehension?  Then, this person develops a supernatural skill, and uses that skill to exact the greatest revenge upon those bullies, massacring them to a fiery death.

Should the young person write a song like this?  I know many would say, "Of course not!"

But it already has been created.  Not a song, but a book.  A book that started a career for one of the bestselling authors of our time.  This book, whom he wrote about a dozen pages and threw them away, was fished out of the trash by his wife.  She wiped the cigarette ashes from it, read it, and told him to go on.

The story?


The author?

Stephen King.
We, as creatives, walk a fine line between what he can do and what we should.

But as I ask this young person mentioned above: what is the purpose for the art you're trying to create?  Lead with your heart.  Not clicks, likes, mentions, or quick fame.

On a side note, bestselling author Dean Wesley Smith wrote an interesting blog post this week that pretty much sums the best advice I've ever seen as far as writing (or simply creative) is concerned.  It's titled Writers As Whiners.  Please read it.  Well worth it. In fact, subscribe to his blog so you get a dose of Dean's thoughts everyday.  The best quote from this post: "My contract deadlines always came first. How did I power through?  Simple. I stopped whining and just did the writing. Writers, by our very nature, are whiners. And lazy and full of excuses. Pretty much all of us."

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Christmas Letters / Story of the Week 17-March-2018

Christmas may seem like a world away at this point, but the lessons in my novel The Christmas Letters is something that can last all year long.

This novel got its inspiration from those in my family who write Christmas letters each and every year.  But with a twist: instead of writing about past events, what if one wrote about what their future year will be like?  Let your mind go.  Be inspired.

What would you like to do?

A dream vacation.

Pay off debts.

Volunteer at a homeless shelter.

Give anonymously to a charitable organization.

Start a side business.

Ask for a promotion.

Learn a new skill.

What would be in your letter?

Click on this link to pick up The Christmas Letters from your favorite e-book retailer.