clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Sunday, September 30, 2012


I enjoy constructing dialog. I enjoy the process of give and take in my mind. I  enjoy the abrupt abandoning of one topic for another in my characters' speech just as occurs in natural conversation.

I like the natural pattern of speech in my text. 

I am somewhat concerned on rewrite about these breaks. Too abrupt and they become "shock" which I find disruptive to the reader's immersion.

Scene :
 Two characters discussing the leftover pie, the price of corn and the weather then turn to discussing what to do about Uncle Foster's body in the barn. Yes - most killings for purpose in my writing comes in the cold blooded variety.  Characters may react with the physical manifestations of stress following the deed. They may suffer the realization of revulsion at their acts. Nevertheless, they approach the killing and its aftermath as a problem to solve. Perhaps it is a soldier's bias, but it is what I know.

 I've read dialog in other authors' work where this natural twist and turning becomes disruptive to my attention. I've even put books down following such passages.

I tend to read most in the late evening. That hour impacts my desire for complex plot maneuvers expressed in dialog more and more as I grow older and my day job grows increasingly demanding. I'm using brainpower for more than following the plot details of two confused kids whose ambivalence towards their surroundings serves as the counterpoint to the danger they face and the mayhem they invoke.

So, I question my sense of rythm and pacing when I use dialogue to steer the plot abruptly. When I have the urge to soften the turn ... say easing the plot in a different direction rather than putting the wheel hard over and submerging the port rail ... I become a little concerned that it is a contrived and sophomoric means of bridging my intention. My execution seems soft.

Every scene has a purpose. I can manage that quite nicely. It is the transition among elements of that purpose which I now question.

I have some work at the library to do examining other authors whose transitions I remember fondly. 

I regret I did not focus well enough in my English classes on the art of managing the novel. I did quite well at the time. My instructors did not teach from the purpose of illustrating techniques and tactics A from B but focused on broader points. I worked for the premise of whatever pleased the instructor.

Late in my career when I did study for what I found meaningful and stimulating, it lead to a career solving problems I love. This knowledge I was gaining did not at the time satisfy my instructors.

I would make a better teacher now than I would have thirty years ago.  I would also impart a more disciplined study of English works for future authors than my professors provided.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


I know why Winston worked in the bathtub. I didn't fully understand it before but I do now.

I was sitting here trying to understand why we love. I've fancied love an illusion of the modern world. I suspect that is largely because I believe in the existential truth of happenstance. Sufficiently recursive systems are capable of self awareness but not of complete self-description.

Nevertheless, there is the reality of emotion and among those emotions is love.

So I ask, why and how does this happen ? How do people make that chance connection ? I've felt it happen. I don't in the least understand it. I model it after an infinite series of protein receptors of which some other molecule may fit and when it does: love. Horrible model but it fits my facts. Otherwise, I have no model at all.

So, we have love. On the other hand I reasoned was loneliness in some form - some more acute than others. Why if my model is essentially binary to we have the manifestation of different degrees of loneliness ?  Clearly loneliness is analog : sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Love I think too is less binary than I'd believe.[ I'm kind of a binary love guy. Probably, because I'm a guy.]

If there is a moderator on the level of love, then too there is the moderator on the level of loneliness (I have a character who is a little lonely I think).  What is that moderator ?

I thought about when I feel lonely. I felt about its contributing factors and its cures.

Winston was not  the most embraceable characters largely from his own portrayal and carriage. He did not share many close confidants with whom he did not also enjoy a bit of an adversarial nature. He must have felt lonely from time to time in such a state as he became increasingly aware of those around him whose perspective on the emotional world was different than his.

How would one address this feeling of isolation?

Of course - the bath. The comfort of stability and the joy of the warm water. Splashy splashy.

Complete crap of a rationalization as I apply it to a figure whose most intimate details I know very little. However, I am a writer of fiction. In essence, I lie. If I get good at this, I'll lie a lot. [ The opposite of a good intel operative who lies very little. Omission, not falsehoods].

I'm going to put a slightly lonely figure in a bathtub from time to time.

I own no bathtub at present. I'd like one from time to time in which to sit and write. Too bad my penchant is for water soluble inks and electronic word processing. Neither mix well with water (water soluble ink has saved several very expensive shirts, however).

The tub is the answer and I got there - right or wrong - thanks to Winston. Statesman. Writer's aid.

Who knew ? 


Friday, September 28, 2012

Off to Meet the Wizards...

There is a bit of a celebration locally next week that features a good number of authors. A good cross section of accomplishments are represented. A good breadth of experience is also represented.

I am attending. It is difficult for me to introduce myself and shake hands and say sheepishly  "I'm a writer, too."

I'm going to get over that little embarrassment.

Do I sit at the desk and write when other kids are at the ball game or playing outdoors ? Yes.
Do I spend hours grinding into the night on the description of a murder scene or the cut of the antagonists jib ? Yes.

Have I executed complete and well-formed stories ? Yes.

Author ? No. There is still much editing and re-write to do. It will come.

Nevertheless, I am going. It is oddly motivational to be around success and accomplishment.

How to prepare ? Know what the authors have written. Know their story (easier now with the internet). Know who is local and regional and who is not. Read those whose works you think you'd most enjoy. Make the experience pleasurable. It isn't a date with a supermodel (she likes blue, hates green, and enjoys promoting world peace). It's a group of authors ultimately doing the PR and promotion of their works.

Be a knowledgeable consumer. Make a human connection. Embrace the mantle of  "writer" even if not "author."  Listen more than speak. Laugh and have fun.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sick Friend

I have a sick friend. Today, she gave me a scare.

She's thirteen inches high, tri-colored, and answers to Roxy. She's a beagle. She's in my top five.

She has cancer. She's thirteen. She had a bleed today. She's home and resting comfortably but it was a scare.

I'm a quick hook with these things because it is my job. She looks to me to make rational decisions on her care and well-being. I look to her to keep rabbits away. It's an even trade.

I wasn't well prepared for her untimely demise. I especially wasn't prepared because that call comes down to me. She's got a little time left. Very little, unfortunately. It is something, however. I still get to spoil her a little longer.

Of course, who knows how long any of us have. The best we can hope for is to go to sleep one day before it gets ugly. I'll make that happen for her. For now, she's my resident hospice patient. I'll stock up on peanut butter and biscuits. Those are her favorite things.

I have a sketchy bit attributed to her on a former pack-mate : Atlas (dog who saved the world). I think it is time to work this one up. Atlas saved my world. He made it a great place for Roxy. Time for a dog story.

Off to write.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Where I write

There is a series of "where I write" photos from accomplished scifi authors. Where I write

I've enjoyed these images a great deal. I suspect we're all pack rats of one sort or another. I've made a huge effort at cleaning up and getting rid of tons of stuff not essential to the job at hand. I'm fortunate to have quite a nice space for our home library. I'm also lucky in that I don't have to share it for any other purpose.

The foxhound, beagle, and large cat may say otherwise but I'm sticking with that story.

To that end, I have a partial image of my desk to share :

There is the low-tech Rolodex of some years. It works when all else fails. There is a "suffering bastard" tiki mug which holds a collection of very nice pens and a couple of the required sharpies. There is the skull - one must know one's self. There is the _OED_ which is surprisingly handy. There is the gem : the two volume set of _The Complete Far Side_.

My old college buddy Gene has a fine bookstore and he sold me this copy. Great having Gene near. I'm quite fortunate to end up in this part of the world with him.

I find the oddest bits of "The Far Side" inspirational. If I can do in text what Gary Larson has done in images, I'll be pretty happy.

The picture isn't very good. I have fourteen large windows in the library and so everything is bleached out to the image processor.

As a follow-up to my recent activities other than writing - another image :

Woolly Worm. He's headed south in this picture. I think the winter is going to be a beast.

I'm done with the obligatory activities other than writing for a bit. Now, writing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beaver ?

I was thinking I had been busy like a beaver and was ready to turn back to the writing.

Then, I found this : Angry Beavers.

There is a large swath of pop culture that I have missed and apparently this is one of those part I missed.

I wanted to say something witty about beavers but after this particular little gem, I'm at a loss.

My wood is nicely stacked. My characters are in the wings warming up. I've queued the conflict.

Now, write.

Monday, September 24, 2012


While beauty and mayhem are weaknesses of mine, the wood at hand is not so stunning.

Squirrel gathers nuts. I gather wood. The squirrels are working overtime up here. It is a good acorn year. The turkey are fat. I suspect it will be a long wet winter.

I'm stacking some wood I had delivered (cheating) in case I don't get enough of my own cut and split. I still have to cut and split it. I have a woodstove and so cut to length stuff is not a reasonable purchase. Sawbuck and maul makes a good Saturday under the Noway Spruce trees.

I only smashed one finger quite solidly tonight in the lantern light. Good thing I type like a chimp and have nine others who can do the job.

Off to read and recover a bit.

Poe, actually. Thanks for asking. "The Pit and the Pendulum" last night. Tonight ? Perhaps  "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar."

Saturday, September 22, 2012


My frustration is showing through. I don't why it is when one is so attached to a piece of work and wants it to succeed so badly that the effort involved grows exponentially.

If I want a good berry crop: frost , freeze, thistles, and deer.

If I want a piece of writing crafted "just so" then the machinations to get there are just horrendous.

I'm going to grind on this one some more. Grind Grind Grind.

It will make me all the more anxious to work on the re-write after the first draft is done and on ice for a whie. I'll still care and it will be fresh and new.

Onward. [ Isn't that the motto of the Mounties ? ]

Friday, September 21, 2012


There is a writing conference on Sanibel Island that I would like to attend in November. The link is here :

Sanibel Island Writing Conference

I'd like to meet Susan Orlean. I'd like to talk to Steve Almond about a problem with a character. I would really like to buy Andre Dubus a drink for the wonderful _House of Sand and Fog_. I'm afraid I'd want to hug Camille Dungy [ yes - I read a lot of poetry. You'd be surprised how many guys with bullets on their desk read poetry. I also come from the land of Langston Hughes whom I first read in what would have been third grade in South Carolina].

I'm not going. I'm not ready.

How do I know  (you might ask ) ?

I am not being paid to attend.

I don't want the networking and the reunion business of  "and you are...? and you've done ? "

I haven't done what matters. I've not put my soul on paper in danger and risk for everyone to see. Until I do that, the rest is wanking.

I am writing for symbolic fish. I've seen one. I have one swimming in me. I need to get it on the page. It takes  little effort to learn how.

 I've everything it takes to hang one on the wall but the accomplishment of doing it.

There is doing a thing and there is to die trying.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

The opening

First, I'd like to say some bad things about HP and their useless bloody touchpad which lies right under my thumbs when I type.

Blame the tool ? Ah - and tool is the right word for the genius behind this design. I'm a trackball guy living among the legion of touchpad users. A Gulliver, as it were.

The open is crucial to me. I need an effortless flow to my opening paragraphs without excessively labored rework or contrived mechanisms to lay my story before the reader. I personally need the story to flow immediately from the start since I love plot-driven story-telling.  I'm working to get the characters in there but it is the opening that drives me.

I cannot write the start last (as one hapless writing instructor suggested years ago). I need the first to work so as to encourage me with its purity for the grind of the rest of the story choices.

I am working on an opening now that seems good one minute and poor the next. I have the germ of the thing. It will evolve soon. I've too much vested in the desire for this one to work. I cannot let it go.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fortress of Solitude

There's nothing for it. Close the library door, turn up Melody Gardot for the right atmosphere and grind grind grind.

I've done well on the plot-driven line. Now, without a net, I do the plot-driven and character immersion bit together.  Nothing up my sleeve, nothing in my hand.

I will force my horrendously flawed protagonists (i.e. people) into the points of emotional risk. I will force them to confront or actively avoid those things that echo in the memory of a reader.

I will eschew cardboard and care about these characters. I will love them. I will empathize with them. I will torture them in a world that does not allow mere existence. Some will evolve into better images of well-formed humans. Some will become broken crumpled things.

They will however change in the face of risk and tumult. Therein lies a story and not merely a box score.

_The Shipping News_. Proulx is required reading here, folks. The Pulitzer does that.

The antagonists ? These guys are easy. I've known them all my life.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Projects and Status

Short Story -> Kaye  first draft and on ice.

Young lady in trouble for English essay that accurate depicts her family (mad scientists, spy, genius younger brother, cybernetic beagle).

Short Story ->  Obit  first draft and on ice.

Sleuth from unnamed agency dispatched to investigate unnatural death from chicken coup explosion.

Short Story -> Paradise  ... first draft and on ice. Needs massive re-write, though.

The hand of God in daily life (unexpected and unwanted) on the prairie. It's bad when the powerful take a personal interest in your existence.

Short Story -> Tension (Despot Island jr. ) in progress.

Job for life ? We've got your solution.

Short Story -> Empire. to do. Some sketches.

The administration of Empire is a difficult task requiring special skills. The bureaucratic machine is pretty dynamic and insightful in this version.

Short Story -> The Hearing. to do. Sketches.

Totalitarian states do poorly at responding to outside stimuli. The results of even innocent communication are unpredictable.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fall, now

Tonight, rain. Cool weather follows.

It is fall. The hints of things around the corner have played out. The things around are now here.

I have a story to finish tonight. I've been putting it off for no good reason. I think I put it off because I made a bad choice and the story turned a way I didn't like.

Now, a couple sentence correction and a plot-driven ending. Later, we'll have a character-centric rewrite.

I'm fighting with a touch pad that won't shut off properly. This HP Envy has about run its course. The keyboard is 'adequate' but the Lenovo carbon X1 looms large. I like the thinkpad keyboard.

Well. Off to finish this one. The next story in the queue is much more exciting for me to write. It represents a potential novel (have a hundred of pages lying around) and am starting fresh with the concept and characters anxious to attack with newly sharpened claws and focus.

My theory of late is to write short stories and ice them. I'll then come back on a grand revision sweep followed by a shorter period of cooling.

I'll pick the best of these and tune for submission. The second, I'll keep as the seed of the next novel. The third, I'll polish twice as hard for the submission cycle before turning to the novel seed. Two in the pipe, one in the serious expansion phase.

Rambling tonight ? Sure, I'm tired. Tea will help. Tea will help more than throwing this HP P.O.S. out the window.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Reading List

I'm in the library this year for the first time since mid-January. Already, I'm more productive.

I'll talk books right now.

Reading list:

Currently : _The Sense of an Ending_, Julian Barnes. , _Tales from Outer Suburbia_, Shaun Tan

On Deck: _Detroit Breakdown_, D. E. Johnson

In the Hole :  reference work, _Forensics and Fiction_ , D.P. Lyle M. D.

Pictures forthcoming.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Other than writing

Today involved some of those "activities other than writing."

In this case, it was a solid clean and reorg of the library. I've been sitting by the fire with the dogs on the ottoman. It is a nice place to write. It is not isolated enough to keep from distraction on re-write.

Thus, the library overhaul. I'd been using part of it is a studio and so some of the painting remainders needed to be packed up as I hit the books hard.

Serious work. Serious place.

Tomorrow - finishing a story.

Friday, September 14, 2012


See the film. The images are beautiful. Sure, there's a lot of decay porn in the frame. However, it is a wonderfully shot film.

Tomorrow, finish the chicken coop death story.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


The first of the fall leaves started today.  I was along the Huron. One instant it was late summer and the next it was fall.

Sheet of leaves blew across in front of me and I passed through as if a curtain had parted and time leaked through.

I love the birch trees.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Light Bulb

The light bulb that goes off for a writer so often means trouble.

In this case, it is good trouble. Something clicked. I've been writing this year largely for plot. I've thought of clever stories with interesting twists that I thought would stand. However, I am disappointed. I read the drafts and I don't like them.

I eliminate the color, the description, the cute tricks we might not resist in the first draft. I cut out all exposition. I work the dialogue to tell the story (show...not tell). I'm still disappointed.

I hear today why my B.S. detector still lights up. I hear it somewhere else from something not even directed at me.

My characters take no emotional risk. Oh, I can avoid backstory. I can avoid showing why someone might be emotionally shallow or unresponsive. What I am not doing is putting a character in human conditions where they have to interact with others on any sort of emotional level. They're robots. They move plot along like little pawns.

You can buy writing like that. You can't buy a lot of it (thank Dog). Most won't be published.

So, my characters can be broken. They must however convey some desire, need, or avoidance and they must do so in an atmosphere that imperils comfort and isolation.

A "stray" isn't meaningful running across a field of clover. A "stray" is meaningful in a pound, looking up at the reader, hoping that the character is the one to save them from being put down on Tuesday.

If the reader knows Tuesday is the day, and the stray knows Tuesday is the day but the character doesn't ... then we begin to have tension. We begin to have an emotional attachment to someone at risk. We begin to care about the story. We begin to want to read the next page hoping the author didn't play mean tricks and that the stray goes home to love, comfort, use, and contentment forever. We hope as readers for a rescue for ourselves. (crappy sentiment - but true enough for me).

I understand something about why I haven't been happy with these first drafts and modest re-writes. They haven't done enough to make ME want to read on ... and I wrote them.

That will change now. Tonight. Late into the night. While the bulb is burning.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bullshit Detector

Hemingway called it a bullshit detector. It's that part of you that can recognize what isn't working.

The better yours gets, the smaller the amount of writing you do that can get away from activating the device.

Faulty device ? You submit crap and it isn't published. You might be submitting good stuff that isn't published but odds are ... it's crap.

Hyperactive device ? You never finish but are paralyzed in rewrite.

The trick is knowing yours well. I find when I re-read my stuff after a cooling off period that I find a ton of  JFC-WTF bits. That means my detector is working and I might need to buy another bulb for it unless I square away.

I also need to work on crafting the first draft with fewer of these moments. For whatever reason, I've learned a lot in the past week.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The wrong alley

I might have taken a story down the wrong alley.

As a qualifier, I haven't written a detective mystery before. I have mysteries but never with anything resembling a detective as the protagonist. I felt it was time to try.

I gave the protagonist a lovely pistol. It's distinct and reflective of his considered approach to matters of crime. (You have to trust me on this point). It isn't merely a roscoe. [ Fedora tip to Robert Bellem.]

I didn't intend for him to use it. I merely displayed it as a prop to have a cop put my protagonist in cuffs at one point. I wanted to establish a resistance to his presence on the part of locals.

Of course, following the Chekhov Rule I need to have him use it.  It is not suitable as a red herring. I despise those sort of ruse writing tricksters that defeated me as a boy only to introduce new and unknowable evidence in the last chapter. I'm not going there. I give a guy a gun, he's going to shoot at something.

Now, I have to use the Chandler rule : "When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand."

Not the worst solution.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The unexpected

I lost yesterday. I lost control of the day. I lost control of my time.

My time is not entirely my own. Frau bear had other plans and so, voop. Yesterday disappeared unexpectedly.

Sometimes on a draft revision the most unexpected things will happen also. This is most annoying when I'm trying to carefully craft a revision segment. Sometimes, it will happen repeatedly at the same place.

Unexpected tone, voice, plot elements, evolution - all manner of oddities will occur.

I understand now that these things are most often for the better. I used to believe they were odd bits of flotsam in my writing. They were a lack of control. I now think they are the little writer on my shoulder saying "this isn't good enough and here's a path to a better way."

The odd bits do twist into more interesting and compelling writing.

The unexpected isn't a bad thing and sometimes it is just what I need. Yesterday was also one of those days.

Today - complete chaos. I'm going here :

Kerrytown Bookfest.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sad Thing

Effort is required. That's the warning label on the shiny box labeled "author."

I find dead blogs from writers all the time. They're in a sidebar link from a writing website I might enjoy. I go to the linked blog and see the last update October 2009. Or November 2010. Or even August 2013 with only three other posts in two years.

I know someone put in enough effort to have their blog linked. They clearly were active sometime. They also are clearly not active now.

They were well enough devoted to their writing to pick up and manage some of the outer elements associated with the effort. Most of the time I see that they also pursued the core of the writing itself.

The process:

  • grunt work required to turn out a (shitty) first draft, 
  • then a second draft with some coherent plot elements and the major rewrite of the worst of the scenes, 
  • then a good language scrub to correct the awkward speech and grammar errors in the narrative, 
  • then the near complete recast from this improved version to what is really the first well formed consistent and deliberate effort, 
  • another major alteration or two maybe recasting character voices, 
  • the grammar scrub again, 
  • a period on ice, 
  • a final look and structure revision,
  • a language and word choice overhaul,
  • a short cooling period I call refrigeration just so the next look is fresh to catch anything obvious,   
  • and submission to a good ad hoc copy editor. 

That's the typical. Some works take a lot more. Few take less.

That's a short story that hasn't gone out the door yet.

Oh, I used to think it wasn't so bad for other writers when I was young. I read an interview with Philip Roth in _The Paris Review_ in '84 or '85 where he described writing maybe one or two hundred pages of a novel before he found the "first good bit" that let him really start the novel there with that segment.

That's Roth speaking. He's good enough that his books were required reading for lit classes even as far back as the mid-eighties. Most of us will never have novels as required reading anywhere and certainly not in our lifetimes. This writer Roth struggled just as hard as I did to find something, anything that he could use as a jumping off place.

He said something about discarding the first few hundred pages at this point. I don't remember if he burnt them or shredded or just discarded.

I do know that I owe Mr. Roth for setting me straight. I knew from that point that whatever I wrote was going to be a long, difficult, and effort filled endeavor. If ever anyone was going to want to read it, I had to suck it up.

I've been fortunate to get harder as I've aged. Pain, effort, work, loss - these things are sometimes frightening as a young man in a way that no longer matters to an older man. You reach an age where you can stand naked in a pit and defend your thoughts, your life, your actions without remorse or regret. There is no more "I wish I could have done it differently" business. You do it and you live with it.

I call it hardening. You can call it something else.

What I call writing is work. Fun ? Sometimes in the sense that getting it out on paper can be a release from the demon of carrying it around for so long. There's still a ton of work in it even if writing the words were fun.

I see the dead blogs and I think that the fun part of the new creation was great for someone, once. Then, the real work set in and it is over now. Maybe they come back to it. Maybe not.

We have the whole of life to manage. Writing doesn't pay bills. Writing doesn't keep a marriage working. Writing doesn't walk the dogs.

Yet we go on. We are driven or we are not.

Dead writer's blogs happen when that drive was eaten up somewhere in life. I find that a little sad for no good reason at all.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Smoked Oysters and Malice

It's simple enough.

Writers are a special type of mad. We engage in a pursuit that is best practiced singularly. Oh, we love coffee shops. We love people. We love to be around people, ignore them, and construct our imaginary worlds on paper where we are Gods.

We're pathological liars if we're any good at fiction. We have to be able to construct and pursue hugely complicated lies over multiple sessions. We practice loading the lie world into our brains, spinning it around, and imagining the events therein quite differently.

Some of us kill in our works. Sometimes we kill softly (The body was lying on the living room floor as Jim entered from the garage.) Sometimes we kill violently. (The .45 spat out a lead ball then cleared its throat one more time for good measure. Beanie fell against the wall dead but unblinking.)

Writing itself is eating oysters and onions in the cafeteria and wishing someone would sit by us, do the same, and not be a freak.

I'm having smoked oysters for dinner. Then, I'm writing.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Robot Fighter

I read this as a boy. I think it belonged to one of my cousins.

Never let the bad robots into your control chamber for worldwide weather.

Looks like he was brought back to print in 2009. Good for him, bad for robots.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Craft Tip

A writing group I frequent had a conversation tonight about compelling suspense. We discussed empathy and obstacles as the means to enhancing the looming disaster (or not) for the reader.

Nancy Fulda had an excellent post on the Craft of Writing blog over at the SFWA site. (make sure and get those letter in the correct order). She provides a most direct assessment of this topic and the mechanisms to achieve competent success.

I didn't know Nancy's work beforehand. You can bet I will now.

The link to the entry is : here.

Nancy's site is here.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A bridge

A favorite bridge from my youth.

When I hear someone tell me they grew up in a tough town, I smile.

When I hear a buddy from Chicago talk about "the rackets" or the corruption, I smile.

When an old friend tells me about the gangster kids down the street, I smile.

I'll defer from someone from Baghdad, Kosovo, or Beirut.

The rest ? No so tough. Coming to Detroit ? Better be a pro. This is not a place for amateur hour.

I don't live in Detroit. I live near - but not in. I'm not tough enough anymore.

The mayor's own protection detail had the wheels stolen off it's car two years ago.

Of course,, the city had its dreams stolen a little before that :

Ms. Reid

You should be reading Janet Reid.

You can find her here : Janet

I'm in the throes of creating content. I will be for another twenty-five years. When I start doing other things like teaching at seminars it means I have given up on creating content.

Janet sells content. She handles those bits so that content creators can create - namely write - and the business goes to her. Write well, and it all works out. Anyone call sell good stuff.

Want to make money from your writing ? Do it well. People do buy crap. Sure. They also buy good stuff. Odds are higher they'll buy yours if it is good.

She's also fun. She gives back a ton to this industry. She's smart.

If you need advice on agents, query, publishers, and selling - she's the one. After all, the "how to sell this" advice comes best from someone who actually does that job.

Never take 'secret' investment advice from someone who has a day job. If it worked so well, why is this guy working for a living ?

Don't take advice about agents or agent stuff from someone who isn't one. Writers write. Agents sell.

Don't fuck up and confuse the two.

Now - go write something. That's where I will be.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The right advice

The son of a friend has some aspirations. Will it stick ? Who knows. He is however asking good questions.

Besides the usual "how it works" and the "I know somebody who's sister self-published" he's asked about the craft of writing. As we know, that's the bloody hard part.

Oh, the "other stuff" is important. The "other stuff" is just wanking when there isn't a product.

So he asks "When I write something and it's just shit, what do I do. How do I get around it ?"

I'm reminded of learning to cook - seriously cook - in college. I lived in a community hall for fifty guys and we cooked and cleaned and ran the place ourselves with a little help. Cooking was a challenge every fall.

One new man was cooking french fries and they were crap. Half done warm raw potato. Greg Powell went into the kitchen, took over, and cooked the next batch until they were perfectly brown, crisp and delicious. The new cook asked "how did you get them so perfectly done ?" to which Greg answered with out a  second's hesitation "cook 'em till they're done."

What to do when you write something that's shit ? Work it until it is perfect.

I was told thirty years ago by a writer I respect very much : Make a mess, clean it up.

How do you know when it's done ? It's perfect.

Back to work. Reading blogs and getting coffee for more than five minutes at a time constitutes fucking off. Write first. You can always fuck off at work when you're being paid for it.

Don't like the language ? Maybe you were never in fifth grade. You won't make it in this industry if you are sensitive. Get over it.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Bear quiz

The Oatmeal has a lovely little quiz.

In case you think interactive fiction has no place, visit this little gem.

We need to write well or our books are right up shit creek.

A bear quiz