Friday, September 28, 2012

Through The Outhouse Window Video Blog - Episode #2

This is episode #2 of my video blog, where I talk about marketing and writers.

Happenings In The Outhouse 28-Sept-2012 / Agent or self-publish?

I have been a writing banshee.  Even with falling ill on Monday, I still managed to . . . drum roll please . . . finish chapters 48-51 of Beholder's Eye!

Thank you, thank you very much!

Okay, I am definitely on the home stretch in this thriller, and have even starting perusing the 2013 Guide To Literary Agents, which was just published--I got the Kindle version, thanks to an Amazon gift card I recieved for my birthday, and it's awesome!

That being said, I have decided to take the "look for an agent" route with this book.  I've been debating for a long time on whether to do the agent-thing or the self-publishing thing.  After gathering lots of information, I've decided to take this route.

At first.

However, that being said, if no agents decide to pick up on it, I'll self-publish it on the Kindle.

Two final notes: first, I noted a while back that I was starting to put together a podcast series.  I have not abandoned this.  I still very much want to do one.  I'm just focusing on finishing Beholder's Eye first.  Then, I'll start with putting the podcast together.  I've got the intro and ending completed, along with a little "commercial" for my ebook.  The only other "problem" I had was answered by Mur Lafferty (host of the highly-successful writing podcast called I Should Be Writing).  I was very honored she took the time to answer my e-mail.

The second note is NaNoWriMo.  I will be participating in NaNoWriMo, but it won't be in November when the rest of the universe will be doing it.  I may well finish the thriller before, but there's so much going on that month I will be putting it off until either December or January--haven't quite decided when yet.

Now, it's on to chapters 52-54.  Wish me luck!

Anyone else want to join me for NaNoWriMo in December or January?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How descriptions depend largely on your character's POV

I am currently reading Lee Child's A Wanted Man, and once again I am struck by the highly detailed level of descriptions found in this book--as well as the few other Jack Reacher novels I have read.  Then again, given what we know about the character Jack Reacher, being a former MP investigator, he would notice a lot of details because that's what he was trained to do.

Another book which shows a contrast in the level of descriptions is Jeffrey Deaver's The Bone Collector.  In the book, police officer Amelia Sachs has to assist a quadriplegic ex-forensic criminologist named Lincoln Rhyme in collecting evidence at a crime scene.  Amelia doesn't know what she's doing at first, and has to learn evidence collecting the hard way by Lincoln telling her through her headset.  The level of detail is also heavy.

Then again, it should be, given who the characters are.

If your main character is a former CIA agent, they'll probably know how many cars are out front of a cafe and exactly how many people are inside.  A guy, who is a male chauvinist, may always notice the shapely women in the room above anyone else.  If you have someone who is gay, they may notice certain things about a person of the same sex.

Let this run through your mind as you write your book, and hone this as you work on your edits.  You may not at first know what your character is like, but as you go through, you may discover what makes him/her tick, and can refine descriptions based on those discoveries.

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Strengths

What are you good at?  Where does your greatest strength lie?  Knowing this may better help you find where you should invest your time.

Think on this for a moment: your child comes home with a report card.  On it are one A, three B's, two C's, and a D.  What do you focus on?  If you're like any normal parent, you'll say the D.  But what subject was the A in?  Let's say it was Science and he got a D in music, the last thing you want to push them into is a career in music.  Or, let's say the D was in science.  I don't think your kid will be going to MIT or being a doctor.

And that's okay.  Each and every one of us has certain strengths.  Authors Tom Rath and Barry Conchie put together a book called Strengths Based Leadership, which is about finding your strength and using it to maximize your skills.  Through their research, they have an online tool called Strengthsfinder which is a series of questions one answers to find out what those strengths are, and have categorized them into 34 separate themes.  I took this test last year, and discovered I have the following strengths:

1) Futuristic

2) Ideation

3) Focus

4) Strategic

5) Achiever

Author, blogger, and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Michael Hyatt recently had a podcast featuring this very same subject.  I encourage everyone to also check it out--oddly enough, Michael and I share a few similar strengths.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing in-depth how these individual strengths work for me in order to maximize my skills in the best way.  Some of the results didn't surprise me, like futuristic and ideation, as I usually am full of ideas and always looking towards the future.

Have you taken the Strengthsfinder test?  What results have you seen since taking it?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Through The Outhouse Window Video Blog - Episode #1

Premiere episode of the "Through The Outhouse Window" Video Blog - Enjoy!

Happenings In The Outhouse 21-Sept-2012 / No NaNoWriMo for me

Having finished chapters 43-47 over the past weekend, I am not well on my way into chapters 48-51 of Beholder's Eye.

The story is coming down to the wire.  I have only fifteen chapters left.  But go back and count how many chapters I've tackled since the beginning of the summer.  It still may take me until November at least to complete this thriller novel.

Speaking of November, that is the month for NaNoWriMo.  Looking at the novel now, I probably won't participate in NaNoWriMo in the month of November.  Instead, I'm shooting for either December or January.

I know, I know, NaNoWriMo is supposed to take place in November.  You're right.  But because I'm focusing so much on Beholder's Eye, I don't want to stop it for a month-long hiatus and then waste a week or more building up steam to finish it.

Instead, I'm changing it for me.

And if anyone wants to join me, they're more than willing to do so.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I am an Introvert. Gotta problem with that?

I am currently reading Susan Cain's book Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can't Stop Talking.

I first discovered Susan from her fabulous TED talk:

Her book is packed with information on what makes introverts tick--as well as how one even defines introverts and how even in the realm of introverts there are vast differences.  First, in watching this, and then in reading her book, I knew I had some misconceptions on what introverts mean.

Now, I'm not going to say I'm an expert in this field, but I do have some first-hand knowledge from the battlefield.  I thought introverts just mean shy and extroverts just mean outgoing.  Wrong.  It's a lot more complex than that.

With that being said, I will gradually explore the notion of being an introvert.  Because I am one.  This very subject was also mentioned in a past podcast episode by Mur Lafferty's I Should Be Writing where she herself confessed to being an introvert.

It's not all bad.

Being an introvert and also having a creative nature can have its advantages.  But that is for another day.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Expand on read a lot/write a lot advice

Twice now I have mentioned that some of the best writing advice boils down to read a lot/write a lot: here and here.

Let's expand on this a bit further.  First of all, there is a wealth of information out there and don't think you have to absorb all of it at once.  I've listened to a few podcasts numerous times and have heard something new every time.  Gather information slowly.  Over time, the information will lead you down a path.  To visualize it, does everyone remember the Lord of the Rings movie Return of the King?  There is one scene (although it could be the music that goes along with it that moves me too) where Gandalf has Pippin light the beacons that will alert the Rohirrim to aid Gondor.  To refresh your memory, here it is:

Read a lot.
Write a lot.

It's very simple.  Even expand to other forms of writing, if necessary.  With that, I'm going to give you a source to check out.  Famed screenwriter Blake Snyder wrote a book a number of years ago called Save The Cat.  He also wrote a sequel to it a few years later called Save the Cat Goes to the Movies.  I highly recommend reading these two books, even for the simple idea of putting a story together.  Keep in mind, novels are put together differently than movies.  I get that.  But the wonderful ideas Blake puts down is valuable.

Expand your knowledge.  Do it slowly.  It's not a race.  But you need to be continually moving closer to your goal.

Read a lot.  Write a lot.

What resources have you found that could be passed on to others here?  Please share with the audience.  Also, what are your thoughts on Blake's books?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Happenings In The Outhouse 14-Sept-2012 / Changes to the editing process

I am drawing near to the completion of chapters 43-47 of Beholder's Eye.  By this weekend, however, I will have completed them.

I've been doing something a little different with my editing schedule--doing more work straight on the computer when compared with printing pages and making notes that way--and for the most part it seems to be working well.  There isn't a single chapter that hasn't been beefed up by a page or two.  Seen as though I had a literary agent once tell me this story was too short (it was, at 65,000 words) this time it is around 75,000 so far.

This past Wednesday was our tri-weekly writers' group meeting.  Only myself and Evelyn were present.  I shared a chapter from Beholder's Eye and afterwards we talked about blogging and the future of the publishing industry.  Evelyn is planning on starting up a blog very shortly (also on Blogger), and as she had 14+ years of articles written for the local paper alone, she has much to tell.  When it's up and running, I'll be sure to share her site with you all.

This wasn't one of my goals for the year, but in the past few months I've decided to write something for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where one is committing themselves to write 50,000 words during the month of November.  I know that seems like a lot, but it's really 1,667 words on average a day.  The only drawback is that I'd like to complete Beholder's Eye first.  That's my main objective.  If I don't finish in time for November, I guess I'll do NaNoWriMo in December or January.

For an added inspiration, I'd like to share this video I discovered (thanks to Jon Acuff's recent blog post).

Then, check out the speaker behind the video: Eric Thomas AKA ET AKA the Hip Hop Preacher.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I want to be the next Stephen King

Not really.

Although, at this point in my life, I'd certainly take his bank account.  But I wouldn't have earned it.  Therefore, it's not mine.  Not mine to take.  It's Stephen King's.  If he wants to give it to me, I wouldn't complain.

Once again, I wouldn't have earned it.

Go back almost forty years . . . it's the early 1970's.  Stephen King is barely scratching by on a meager teacher's salary.  What is a Stephen King back then?  He didn't want to be the next . . . Richard Matheson or Ray Bradbury or Shirley Jackson.  He wanted to be himself.

He's Stephen King.

And this is his house.

He earned it by being himself.

Others have also done it.  Neil Gaiman is Neil Gaiman, not some hacker-wannabe.  So is Dean Koontz and John Grisham and J. K. Rowling.  They are themselves because they don't want to be anyone else.

Who are you?

You are yourself.  Be yourself.  Earn it.

Then, you can live in one of these:

And drive one of these:

You can do it.  It takes time.  Be patient and learn to be yourself, not some wannabe.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Where is the next Firefox (The Movie) Remake?

You had the 70's "Starsky and Hutch"

Got remade into a 2004 movie

And, of course, also from the 70's - "The Land of the Lost"

Also got remade into a recent movie

Okay, Hollywood, where's your remake of Clint Eastwood's Firefox?

I'm waiting . . .

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Happenings In The Outhouse 07-Sept-2012 / Where one sees a setback, I see opportunity

Still plowing away on chapters 43-47 of Beholder's Eye.

I'd like to say that I spent the entire Labor Day weekend slaving away at my novel, but sadly enough I didn't.  I got some much-needed other work done at home, as well as needed to get the kids school-ready for when school started back up again on Tuesday.

One small change I'm making to my editing schedule, however.  Last week, I found myself in dire need of paper and lack of disposable funds--as if any funds really are that disposable, and I completely loathe the word.  My typical editing session consists of printing off the needed pages, going through the hard copy, making the changes onto the computer files, printing them back off, and doing it all over again.

This time I'm making more and more of the changes on the computer.

I'm finding this is also causing me to catch up on some needed reading while working at my day job.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

2 Ways To Learn Something Quick In 30 Seconds Or Less

The first way to learn something quick is to visit Merriam-Webster's website and check out their Word of the Day.  If you were to do this every day for a month, you'd learn 30 new words.  Or 365 over the course of a year.

Another way is to go to Wikipedia and click on their Random Article link.  This second tip is from Chris Guillebeau's book titled The Art of Non-Conformity.  It's amazing how much a person can learn just by doing something random.

Does anyone else have any other links or tidbits for learning something that takes less than half a minute?  Please share your thoughts on the comments below.

Monday, September 3, 2012

I Am A Poor Movie Reviewer Too

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog titled "Why I Am A Poor Book Reviewer"

I've realized lately that I am a poor movie reviewer as well.  A month or so ago, I went with my son and brother-in-law to see The Amazing Spider-Man.

I loved the movie.  If I had to pick out any poor points was during the mind-boggling array of web-swinging--oh, by the way, I did NOT watch this in 3D.  Those scenes made me very dizzy, and I reminisced on my first viewing of the first Transformers movie and how during the fighting I didn't quite know who was who.

Did the movie entertain?

You betcha!

Enough said.  I listened to a number of podcasts afterwards about how they thought that, once again, we had to endure the origins of Spiderman.  I didn't care.  I liked the movie, and when compared with the Spiderman movies from a few years ago, I treat them as different versions of the same tale.  I liked the origin of this one.

It entertained.  It did its job.  I came out of the movie with a sense of exhilaration, that I felt like I could be Spider-Man.  I know how stupid that may sound, and of course I don't possess any superpowers (although, if I did, I would keep it secret . . .).

My threshold?

Entertainment.  That's it.  Sure, as a writer, I'll try and predict how the story is going to go, and many times I'm right.  But it still did its job: to entertain.