Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hard! Work!

Anything that's worth doing is worth working at. I've said it many times, and I'll say it again.

Yesterday I worked my day-job, and it took way longer than I expected. I worked hard, and today I'm exhausted, but it was satisfying! I accomplished something, and even though I didn't get any writing done, I still felt productive. I did something that matters to me.

Today I have to work the day job again...except it will be at night...at 9pm until I get done. Then I have to get up and start at 8:30 tomorrow morning. I KNOW I'm going to be exhausted by the end of this week, but this is one of the better weeks I've had in a long time.

I think this is something that aspiring writers need to keep in mind, especially if they're working another job. Take satisfaction in ALL of your accomplishments. Enjoy the moments when you do something well. That way, when you get a rejection letter, or go several weeks without hearing from the dozens of agents you've queries, you'll still have a reason to keep trying. And you won't get too depressed.

Now I'm off to watch Buffy while I work on writing stuff.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why I love murder mysteries

I love the battle between good and evil, and I enjoy seeing evil people brought to justice. It's different than epic fantasies where the good guy and bad guy are clearly portrayed and all we (the reader) need to do is follow the narrative through the mounting tension into the epic battle at the end of the book. For me, at least half of the fun in reading a mystery comes from trying to figure out who committed the murder.

It's not easy to fabricate one of these stories... at least not in my experience. But I really enjoy putting them together. All of the behind-the-scenes work; putting the pieces into place, building the mystery, gathering the evidence, and making sure it's hidden in a way that lets the reader see it without necessarily understanding what it means... that's a chore. But it's a fun chore.

I don't particularly enjoy making characters who murder, but in a story, there has to be a bad guy... and murder is one of the worst crimes a person can commit in this day and age.

So that's why I writing a short murder mystery. More details to come soon :D

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dear Dave Ursillo,

I'm excited for your e-book project, and I think it's great how many writers you managed to get involved with this book. When I first heard from you, I eagerly set out to write something outside of my comfort zone that would be appropriate. After all, I write genre fiction. Stories about heroes who risk their lives to save loved ones.

I wanted to write about my group of friends. People who encouraged me to break out of my personal bubble. People who, through their actions, taught me self-esteem, even to the point where I finally got the courage to ask my wife to marry me.

These people really care for each-other, and some of them have even used their military training (in legal ways) to protect members of our group from abusive ex-boyfriends.

But the detail involved in some of those stories feels tedious to me. I've lived through it, and I don't know how to tell your readers about my friends in a way that inspires them to get involved in their community. As I look back, it was incredibly easy for me to get together with these friends, but the bond we've built took more than half a decade to build. I'd give up my life for these people, and they've helped make my life as wonderful as it is today.

How does that relate to your readers, though? I think it's important for folks to surround themselves with the types of people I know, and I've even encouraged writers to get involved in role-playing groups for that very purpose.

But I don't know how to write a piece that's applicable to what I think you're looking for. When the book comes out, I'll certainly tell my readers about it, and I'll do everything I can to help market it. But beyond that I don't know how I can contribute. With work picking up again, I have very little spare time for my writing, and I need to use it as wisely as I can. I spent a week staring at a blank computer screen, wondering what to write.

Thank you for inviting me to help you reach out to my community. I will continue to do that in my small ways. If I can think of something to write in time for your deadline, I'll certainly submit it, but I'm falling behind in other work.

Sincerely,
Giles Hash

Monday, September 27, 2010

A little fact...

Every now and then I'll be watching a TV show or reading a book, and someone will start talking about sound waves and decibels. Invariably, someone will announce to the viewer/reader that the human ear can hear anything as quiet as a whisper (at a mere 5db) all the way up to the loudest rock concert (some concerts get as loud as 150db...which is REALLY painful, let me tell you).

That little tidbit as actually INACCURATE because the human ear can't hear anything quieter than 35ish decibels... I say 35ish because I can't remember the exact volume. Anyway, a human whisper, on average, is actually a "massive" 50-56 db.

In case you're wondering how I know all of this, at the age of 11 I started training as a sound engineer for an audio/visual company. The reason I brought this up is because so few people even mention it. So many books and science shows get it wrong. Although most of the books I've read lately don't bring it up at all...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Not much to say.

I don't really have anything to say today. It's been a busy week, and I haven't had the energy to do any kind of research on politics or other kinds of interesting topics to talk about. So go smile at someone, and have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happiness is my choice

The last two days have been pretty stressful at work. And most of that is because of one person who just doesn't do their work but expects my supervisor and me to triple our output just because there's more work coming in. So my supervisor and I are overworked, and this one person gets to sit behind a desk, and even when we ask for help in the shop, this person just ignores us and leaves ALL of the work for the two "shop" guys, even though this person is required to help us when we ask...because that's what all of his bosses (yes, plural, because there's three of them) have said.

Anyway, rather than griping and complaining about it all day, rather than letting my day get ruined by this one person, I'm simply going to get into work today, a smile on my face, and I'm going to work my butt off. I choose to be happy today, and even if it doesn't effect my coworkers in a positive way, I still refuse to drag them down with my bad attitude, no matter how I feel about my work situation.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Finally! An idea.

Stretching myself is always hard, especially when it comes to writing. I always stick to fiction because it's easier for me to make hard choices about what to write. But this project I'm working on right now, even though it's fiction (based on real events in my life), isn't anything like my previous work. I'm trying to come up with a story that is inspiring, centered around the idea of community.

I have a lot of great friends that I hang out with, and we're a tight-knit community, but the problem I kept running into was myself. I felt that if I talked about some of the most inspiring events of my life over the past five years I would be inflating myself too much. Even though I wasn't as involved in the events as my other friends were, my involvement didn't allow me to make an objective observation that I could turn into a story worth reading. At least, that's how I felt.

After a day of struggling with that and a morning of random plunkings on my keyboard, however, I have come up with a story to tell based on a good friend of mine. I'm going to change some of the facts (like his name), but the spirit of the story will remain the same. In the end, I know it will be a work of fiction, but that shouldn't make it any less inspiring.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Community

I'm preparing some work for a project that Dave Ursillo is putting together. I intend on submitting at least one piece to his project, and I only have a month to do it. The deadline is October 20th. That's totally doable, and I'm excited to get involved! The only thing that bums me out is that I can't give him a good photo for my bio (which will really only matter if my work is accepted).

When I got the e-mail from him this morning with all of the details, I almost freaked out at the deadline, but then I realized that all of my major school projects (which had to be a minimum of four times longer) were all due in the same amount of time, if not less. And since I don't have any classes anymore, this shouldn't be a problem. Once I have this project done, I'll jump into the contest I'm going to run.

Anyway, I'm enjoying the brainstorming that I get to do, especially because it gives me the opportunity to evaluate myself and the people who surround me to find inspiring stories about my community. I'm not sure what I'm going to write about yet, but I want to tie it into my previous posts about creating a solid group of friends who you can trust and who can trust you. I'd love to tell you more, but I'm running low on inspiration at the moment. I need to continue to exercise my brain, and I have a few chores to do, so enjoy your Tuesday!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Welcome to Monday

I have an idea that I need to plot out. It's something that I'm going to share with all of you and I'm going to turn it into a contest. I can't share any specifics right now, but it will come one of these days, and soon.

I actually wrote a full post detailing my plans, but because I don't know how long it'll take to pull this together, I'm going to step back and keep the details under wraps for a little while.

In other news: my Dresden Files RPG campaign will start up in only eight days. I'm excited because running this game is going to be great practice for my writing. I have to create scenarios for the characters (players) to work through, and then I have to adapt the events based on how the players act in the game. It keeps my brain flexible and makes me concentrate on creating engaging stories!

This is a new week. Go out and smile at someone, give them a kind word, and then enjoy your week :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Late post

Sorry...late post. Happy Friday everyone. Go spend time with friends and family over the weekend. I know I'm going to!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What keeps you going?

It's easy to burn out on anything that we do in life. Our jobs, hobbies, relationships can get discouraging, exhausting, or even just boring, and when that happens, many people decide to give up. My writing, at this point, has yet to show any kind of substantial results. Yes I've written two full novels and edited them as well as I can with the help of a few other writers. But that's as far as I've gotten.

What keeps me going? Many things. I love what I do, even though I'm not able to share my stories with people yet. At least not in the way that I want to share it. I love writing books that entertain people, especially my wife, and right now, I've been able to create characters and worlds that intrigue her and will capture her imagination. Some day, I know those same stories will go out into the world to entertain young students. At least that's my hope, and that's what I strive for.

Right now I'm not burning out because I'm not just writing for myself, and the people who enjoy what I write give me the energy to keep going. Despite the fact that I haven't gotten anyone in the publishing industry interested in my work.

Today, if you're feeling burned out on your job, look around you and see if you're having a positive impact on anyone. If you are, see if there's anything you can do to make that impact even better. Take heart in the fact that, even if YOU don't like what you're doing today, someone else really appreciates it. If changing your life is out of the question, then just concentrate on making lives better. Hopefully that will give you the strength to keep going!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Do you remember MUDs?

I just saw an ad for a text-based MUD. Does anyone remember those? I do... because I learned my typing skills in one of them. You see, in this game, one of your first tasks is to buy new clothes with what little money you start out with. I bought the clothes, the sales woman set the clothes on the counter, and then another player in the store STOLE THEM from me because I couldn't type quickly enough to beat him to the grab. So I practiced and practiced, and then the MUD went "pay only".

Shortly thereafter, I started writing my first novel (at the ripe old age of 12... yeah, that was almost 14 years ago). My typing skills drastically improved with my desire to get my thoughts on the screen before I forgot what I wanted to say. Of course, that was before I planned out any kind of plot, so I made everything up on the spot without brainstorming.

Man the times have changed... but I can't believe there are still MUDs out there. I think it's awesome!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mini-review: Gail Carriger's Soulless - Audio Book

For those of you who are interested, I've already reviewed the book Soulless. This particular review is for the book on CD.

Alright, I loved this book when I read it, and as soon as Ms. Carriger announced that publishers were doing an audio-book, I desperately hoped that they would get a good reader who would do the characters justice. They succeeded!

The wonderful Emily Gray lent her voice to the narration so well that listening to the story felt very much like experiencing the entire event for the very first time. She gave each character unique voices and vocal mannerisms that ensured each person stood out from each other AS WELL AS the narration itself. If you haven't read this book yet, I encourage you to go pick it up. If you don't have the time to read it, get a copy of the audio book and listen to it in your car or while you're out jogging. I even submitted track titles to the CDDB if you want to load the CDs onto your iPod.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Writing Exercise

Today I'm re-writing my query letter again. Well, I'm re-writing one of the paragraphs. The first one, as a matter of fact. I think it conveys all of the right information in a rather straightforward and concise manner, but not in a unique manner. Besides, I got three rejections out of this version and one unanswered (as of yet). I read an article a couple of weeks ago that insists that a properly written query letter would get 75% full requests. Since I'm not even close to that percentage, I've decided to make some small changes.

In other news, I picked up the Dresden Files RPG books on Friday, thanks to a friend of mine who works at a game store. They're a blast to read through, and I know that my friends and I are going to enjoy playing this system and this setting. Since I'm writing a mystery now, this will really help me develop the tools I need to write an engaging plot. Needless to say, I'm excited!

Friday, September 10, 2010

TGIF

Friday friday friday. It's the last day of the work week, for most. Tomorrow, I get to work for three hours in the morning, and then my wife and I are going to the harvest festival downtown! I've never been to this harvest festival, even though I've lived in this city for nearly twenty years. I'm really excited. I'm pretty sure it's going to be a blast!

I recommend that, no matter what else you have to do, try do something fun with someone you love this weekend. It's important! As a writer, I definitely need the time to let my mind relax, and getting out of the house is a great way to get new ideas.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Say "Hi"

The blogosphere (as well as just about any writing medium) can be quite lonely. My friends, readers, please take the time to go say, "Hi!" to Caroline. She's getting ready to query her first novel (a very intimidating task, I can tell you). Her blog is new, and it currently has very few readers. Let's welcome her to the community of authors who are working toward publication.

On that note, I received a rejection letter first thing this morning, so I need to send out another query. I get to work my day job today, which means I won't be working on much writing. Have a great day, and I'll see you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Working out the kinks

I knuckled down yesterday and put together some REAL problems for my new protagonist. At first (and this tends to be my problem with any plot) I had no real tension. More and more I'm realizing that the best way to motivate a character to involve themselves in the plot is to make sure that the only other option is death.

You see, I've always wanted to create a character who has NOOOO motivation whatsoever, and I finally did that. However, the events that happened around him only involve him by coincidence. The problem in the plot would have been completely avoided through the smallest amount of common sense, so this protagonist really didn't need to get involved.

But I threatened him with death. He won't be able to maintain the status quo of his life. In fact, by doing what it takes to keep himself alive, his very existence will drastically change. So I really put some tension in this previously troubled outline, all without having to delete what I've already written!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Skydiving

Ah coffee. This post is late because I went skydiving this morning...inside. That's right, I jumped into a massive wind tunnel. It was fun, but quite a workout. And I'm afraid of heights (irrational, I know) so it was hard to relax. By the end, though, I was enjoying myself. I don't know if/when I'll do it again, but that had to be the best Christmas present I got last year. (And mom, if you're reading this, thank you again...but I don't know if I would want that for Christmas this year.)

:D

Monday, September 06, 2010

Stories are like cake

They have layers... oh wait, that's not what I mean...

Oh yes, stories are like cake: for them to be great stories, they must not be lumpy! What does that mean, you ask? Well, lumpy cake happens for several reasons, you may not have mixed it properly, the wrong flour might have been... what? Oh! What do lumpy STORIES look like? I see now.

A lumpy story is where the writer divides up the sections of the narrative and writes them down one at a time. For instance, many new writers (myself included...at least in my early works that REALLY sucked) will talk about a character, describe that character, hint at their background, and then move on to describe another character, etc.. Then, before those characters interact, the author moves on to SCENE description, informing the reader about the color of the walls, the shape of the dresser, the weather outside the oak-framed window, the history behind why the room looks the way it does, maybe even comments about how uncharacteristic the rain is for this time of year. And then, finally, the scene starts to animate and the characters begin talking with each other.

Of course, that's an exaggerated example, but quite accurate to some of my early attempts at writing. There are more subtle forms of lumpiness in writing, and I've found one of the best ways to avoid it (or at least fool the reader into thinking that it doesn't exist) is to ALWAYS have a character interact with the scenery (by expressing the opinion about it), discuss the scene's history, or remember facts about the other person they are talking to. When readers who are engaged in a character see that the characters are engaged in the story, they don't notice when a transition from one scene to the next isn't as smooth as it could be, or that you (the writer) jumped from dialogue into a commentary on the ethics of gold chandeliers in a homeless shelter.

So go, look over your writing, and mix it up to get rid of those lumps!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Comments

Funny thing happened to me yesterday, someone commented on a Flatiron City post. That hasn't happened in quite some time, and it caught me off guard because I haven't posted anything there in about three years! It was cool, though. Especially because the comment wasn't in any way negative, and it wasn't spam.

Another comment from earlier this week, combined with what was said on FC yesterday, inspired me to write a post about writing. So I'll do that on Monday. Today, I get to drive to Beaver Creek for work. Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Car repair

I do hope you enjoyed the short story yesterday. I plan on writing more in the future, if only to practice writing stuff.

I'm sitting at Border Books today, toiling away while my car is getting worked on. Standard maintenance stuff... You know how it is. Since I have five queries out that are unanswered, I'm going to take the day off from that project and jump back into my WiP.

I've reached a dilemma, though: I want to write a supernatural/film noir style novel, but the only idea I've come up with kinda sucks. Okay, it's REALLY lame. However, the only reason this is a dilemma is because I haven't knuckled down to try to fix any of the problems I created in the two hours I spent formulating a plot. So when I say dilemma, what I really mean is that I have project to work on with plenty of opportunities to create an interesting, entertaining story.

I started reading a new book yesterday, and when I get farther along in it, I'll tell you about it. For now, I want to work my way into it and form a real opinion. I can already say that it's WAY better than the last book I read.