Monday, November 25, 2013

The Slog

The problem with a busy life is that it often takes time away from the things I want to do. Like blogging. I'm less concerned with this fact than I used to be simply because building a platform without a "product" to distribute isn't the best use of my time. Building the product is where I need to focus my efforts.

That's what I've been doing lately. I'm still querying my finished novel, and I'm outlining a new story that I like a lot. By this time next year, I hope to have another finished project to send out into the market, but at the same time, I'd rather get this WiP interrupted by the need to work with an agent on getting the finished book to bookshelves.

This is something that most writers talk about during their slog through the querying phase. And it feels like a slog because there's a lot of waiting, a lot of downtime between queries where it would be a waste to send out more, but the only thing I want to do is send out ALL the queries to ALL the agents. But I'm taking my time with this. I only want 5 unanswered queries out there at a time. This gives me a chance to research the market, make sure the agents I'm querying are the best match for me. And, if necessary, I can revise my query to make it stand out more.

Over the next few months, I expect my blogging to remain inconsistent. It's a necessary cutback that will greatly improve my book writing, but I know it could hurt my presence on the web. The problem is, my presence is only screaming in the wind if I don't have something worthwhile to say. Or anyone to listen.

I'll continue regular updates at least once a week, and the charity of the month isn't going anywhere. But this blog will continue to evolve until I figure out where all of this writing stuff is taking me. Until then, the publication of my novel has to be my focus.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Pleasant Diversion

Sometimes, distraction is absolutely necessary for my creative brain. I spent such a long time worrying over what I should write next that I completely lost track of how much fun writing is for me. This weekend, I finally hit that magical reset button that got my brain thinking about books again.

Last week, I did have a spark of an idea that I'm working on, but taking a weekend to just goof off and play helped so much I have to recommend it to all of you. Take the time to unwind. Let distraction take over for at least a day, then get back into your project with new vitality and excitement!

For me, I played Star Trek Online. It's free to play, and it's finally available on OSX. I stared at a screen half the weekend (thanks to my loving, caring wife who graciously let me zone out for two days), and now I'm ready to hammer through a new book. And excited for it!

That's it, that's all I got. Go read a book, or play a game. Or take a tour. Something, anything to pull your brain back into focus.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Child's Play Update

The other day, I saw an announcement on the Child's Play twitter. It made me very excited because they're branching out and working with domestic violence shelters!

From their site: “The very nature of family violence eradicates trust, self-respect, and physical and emotional wellness in all victims, but none more so than with the children. These “hidden victims” are often the most vulnerable, overlooked and the least likely to receive appropriate services during a time of intense trauma.
We believe that these “hidden victims“ can be reached through creativity and play; through the gaming opportunities and learning experience, they will build their self-confidence and self-esteem. Our ability to offer social and emotional skill development- through constructive play and gaming activities - will help the children impacted by violence develop self-understanding, creative thinking and empathy skills, designed to support their healing, growth and future success.”
This is an important cause for me. Not because I've ever experienced anything remotely close to what these kids and their mothers have been through, but because the very idea of destroying someone's life through domestic abuse makes me ill. And angry. To the point where I want to hit someone. Which, I understand, is counterproductive, but that's how angry it makes me!
Please go to the Child's Play site, check out their press release, and watch the thirty second video announcement. Then consider donating. As always, it's for a great cause!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Laboring Through

Often times in life, the events outside of our bubbles intrude on our journeys to reach set goals. Since finishing my last book, I'm struggling to put together a new project that excites me enough to turn into a full novel. I've come up with a few ideas, but when it comes down to outlining a plot, the overall structure feels weak. The protagonist isn't the type of character who would get involved in the conflict I've set up. The antagonist(s) isn't fleshed out enough to be more than a bad guy who does bad things because that's what bad guys do.

The reasons behind this are plentiful, and just yesterday I got news that an event that I've been expecting for eight years is going to happen in the next few weeks. And this isn't a good event. In fact, it's the type of event that makes me question everything I ever thought about certain people in my life. I understand that this is vague, but I'm not here to talk trash about anyone.

I'm here to make a point: even though motivation is lacking and inspiration is less than adequate for my next novel, I'm still working. I'm laboring through the distractions, fleshing out short stories and designing writing workshops. I'm critiquing other peoples' writing, and I'm taking this time to be with my wife.

At the end of the day, it's vital to push forward, no matter what obstacles stand in our way. I want to be a professional writer, and that means I need to write. No matter what. And while I'd prefer to work on the sequel to the novel I'm querying, I know that's not really a valuable use of my time until I have a contract to do so.

For now, that means I'll write short stories, create characters and worlds, and hope that something sparks to life in my extremely distracted mind that will turn into a project I can turn into a full-length novel.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Writing Playlist?

I'm gonna be honest: I rarely listen to music anymore. It's not that I dislike music, but I'd rather listen to podcasts, audio books, and the occasional stint of talk radio. I haven't purchased music in years. And the music I did purchase the last time I bought something, I used a gift card I'd received for Christmas.

Don't get me wrong, I don't steal music. I just listen to Pandora. I've listened to the same songs so many times with their service that I probably ended up paying the artists more than I would have if I'd purchased their album, anyway.

But even Pandora gets shut off too quickly when I sit down to write simply because music is distracting to me. And when I write, I can't tolerate silence. If someone's not walking around on TV and yelling at their costars, there's too much silence. Which is weird because coffee shops distract the ever-living stuffing out of me.

So what do I listen to when I write? Scrubs. The TV show. It's on Netflix, along with Mythbusters, How I Met Your Mother, and The New Girl. I've seen those enough times that they give my brain a quick reset when I need them to, but I can COMPLETELY ignore them when I sit down to write. I can't do that with music. I tend to think about the lyrics, bob my head to a groovy tune (yes I just said that), and then look up music videos and trivia on the artist.

I don't know how I got this way, but I've had this problem for almost two years. I just can't write with music on in the background. It just reminds me of how much needs to be done around the house.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Book Review: A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Ms. Revis did it again! Personally, I liked this book better than the first, mostly because I felt more familiar with the world. Listening to audio books is a great way to get caught up on all those books I "have" to read because I really want to but don't have time. But with Revis, sitting down with the book in hand felt so much more rewarding.

The story itself is a direct continuation of Across the Universe, so if you haven't read that one, yet, don't start with this one. You'll be TOTALLY lost.

The first book had an overarching murder mystery woven through the story, but this one follows a different track. There are a few mysteries in the plot, but the main conflict focusses more on the future of the ship where the characters currently reside. Personally, I really like the fact that Ms. Revis did something different with her second book, rather than making a clone of the first book with different character names. It advances the overall plot of the trilogy and it kept me engaged from beginning to end!

Any book that keeps me awake past my "bedtime" is something I think deserves high praise. It sucked me in more than the last book and made me more excited for the NEXT book than the last one did for this book.

All in all, Revis has kept me engaged through two fantastic novels, and I think you're doing yourself a disservice by NOT going out to get them right away.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Charity of the Month: Child's Play Charity

It's that time of year, again! I'm excited, as always, to announce the TWO MONTH drive to help raise money for Child's Play. They're already beyond the $5,000,000 mark for the year, but I want to help push them beyond $7M! They still have some HUGE events going on that will help raise money, including their charity auction, but I have no idea how much they're going to raise from all of those events.

So dig deep this holiday season, donate a small gift to a local hospital or some cash directly to the charity, and skyrocket this charity to new heights!