Friday, February 24, 2017

Stress, life happens, and writing / Happenings In The Outhouse 24-Feb-2017

Last week, Dean Wesley Smith wrote an excellent blog post, titled Protecting Choice, where he explored the reasons behind not writing--the good reasons, not the "oh I just don't feel like it" reason.  It's well worth reading it, as well as pretty much everything else he writes.

I am currently at the 35,000 word mark in the second novel in the Shadowkill trilogy.  When I've looked at the past few weeks on my daily word count spreadsheet, I noticed a number of days lately where I wrote nothing.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Nothing.

Last week, my son had a medical emergency, which required me to spend a night in the hospital with him while the doctors figured out what was wrong with him.  He has type one diabetes, but it appeared not to be related to it.

A few weeks before that, I had vehicle problems--both of my vehicles were down, oddly enough with almost the same problem.

A few years ago, if you recall, I had my own personal medical emergency.  I am taking medication, but one of the side effects are . . . well, some I won't mention, for reasons I won't make clear here, but one of the main side effects are mood swings.  Meaning, bad ones.  Quick to anger, and stuff like that.  I recognize when my stress goes through the roof and feel my anger building up, so I work hard at not snapping at my family.  Some times I succeed.  Other times, I hate to say, I do not.

Life happens to us all.  Find ways to get yourself through it.  Find remedies, be it exercise, relaxation, hobbies.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Fight the fear - what's the worst that could happen? / Happenings In The Outhouse 17-Feb-2017

Writers (and most artists/creative types in general) are fickle creatures.  We are fearful.

We have the fear of failure.

The fear of success.

The fear of the "oh, my gosh, look what you did!" reaction from others.

We have a fear of putting our work out there, even when we know in our heart of hearts, that it's not quite perfect.

Fight the fear.  What's the worst that will happen?
My first indie published book was a nonfiction book called Debt Free I Do: 99 Ways Of Having A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget.

When family and friends found out about this, they laughed.  "What in the world do you know about weddings?"

But I didn't care.  I published it anyway.

Now, almost five years later, I have over 20 published works (some for free on my website, even), from short stories to full-length novels.  Who's laughing now?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Write, Don't Preach / Happenings In The Outhouse 10-Feb-2017

I was listening to a webinar a few weeks ago when they were discussing social change through our writing.

The first book that came to mind was The Chamber by John Grisham.  I saw the movie before I read the book, but the one thing that stood out in my mind (in the book version) was that John Grisham didn't preach about capital punishment.

In fact, by the end of the novel, he set the moral implications of capital punishment on a silver platter, as if presenting both sides of the coin.

The novel gave us a choice.  Both sides seemed plausible, no matter what side you stood on.  He didn't preach one side over the other, even if he did hold a certain view.  The reader just never saw that side of him.

I've read books where the authors preached their social views on issues to the absolute extreme.  Whether I believed in the issue or found that side completely absurd, preaching has always grated me the wrong way.  Even if I believed it.

If you have a story, tell it.  If there are issues you want to address, do it through story.  You may actually sway a reader to your side if you tell your story, through the actions of your characters, well enough.  Take as an example: The Hunger Games.  Suzanne Collins did a wonderful job of portraying the grim realities of a post-apocalyptic life and the greed of a totalitarian system.  Not once did she preach that the big bad government was horrible and should be stopped.  She told it through the story--and through the other two novels in the series.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Setting the big rocks in place / Happenings In The Outhouse 03-Feb-2017

A few weeks ago, I finally came up with "the big rocks" to plot out books two and three of the Shadowkill Trilogy.

What do I mean by big rocks?

Think of ideas as various sized rocks.  Big rocks are the main plot points that are the meat of the story.  This would be the equivalent to the Rebel Alliance stealing the plans for the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope.  For example, that is.  There are other big rocks in Star Wars, but for simplicity purposes let's stick with this.

Next to the big rocks are smaller-sized rocks.  Imagine the big rocks being placed in a large bucket.  The remaining space fits the rest of the rocks, and eventually down to sand.  Coming up with the big rocks for the rest of this trilogy has changed the scope of these books--honestly, I know what's going to happen in book three, but didn't figure out how to marry the two.

Now I have.

I am currently around the 21,000 word mark in the second book.  I'm shooting for around 75,000 words, as a guideline, but wherever it ends is fine by me.