Thursday, April 21, 2011


Every so often I hit a point where I think it’s time to take up bowling.

I say this because writing is hard. Granted, some people can sit down at a computer (or typewriter for you hard-core folks) and pound out 70k to 100k words without blinking. 

I’m not that guy.

Staring at a blank screen and trying to not only outline, but actually form sentences is daunting. Even after the ball is rolling there’s the need to link those sentences into a plot, somehow create interesting characters, show and not tell, and then tighten the prose to keep the pace fast and gripping. 

And that’s just the first draft.  After that it’s betas, revisions, queries, rejections, partials (maybe fulls), signing with an agent, editors, subs to publishers, and so on. It’s a long, winding path up a steep hill. Sitting at the base of that hill, bowling seems like a better option.

So I go. I drive to the local lanes, rent those sexy shoes, grab a ball, and hurl it at the pins. It isn’t graceful, but it’s fun and cathartic. Like running, painting, or other techniques, it’s a way to let the brain cool down for a while. A few games, maybe a pint and some greasy nachos, and I’m ready to tackle that story once again.

The funny thing is, I’m sure there’s a guy or girl on a lane somewhere, bowling their heart out, and wondering if they should take up writing instead. Knocking all 10 pins down at once is daunting. Even after the ball is rolling, there’s the need to develop the right spin to pick up the 7-10 split, somehow maintain a long run of strikes, and then repeat that time and again under the pressure of competition. And all that is long before they try and go pro.

Writing isn’t easy and every so often we’re going to wonder if there’s any point to continuing the climb. But worrying about it too much is just wasted energy. The best we can do is continue to develop the characters in our heads, learn from our peers and mentors, and do our best to hone our craft. But most important, we need to keep writing.

And occasionally take the time to go bowling.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Thursdays of Writing

Thursdays are, without a doubt, my favorite day because they are the Christmas Eve of the week. You know Friday is right around the corner and no matter what it brings, the anticipation of what could be is almost as wonderful as what actually happens.  Even though most weekends are filled with chores, errands, etc, there’s still a feeling of childlike hope that maybe, just maybe, something amazing will happen.
Writing should be no different. Despite the arguments that the odds are stacked against the average would-be author, we shouldn’t lose our sense of wonderment at what could be. Maybe our current manuscript isn’t right for the publishing world or perhaps our style hasn’t matured enough. But our mindset should be “not yet” rather than “never.”
Life throws a lot of curve-balls at us, but that doesn’t mean we toss in the towel. There’s always a chance that something wonderful is just around the corner, waiting to happen. All we have to do is keep writing, keep persevering, and keep enjoying the "Thursdays" of our writing week.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Professionalism and our Internet Footprint

A common phrase heard these days is “carbon footprint”. Specifically, it’s the impact that we have on our surrounding environment with a goal of reducing harmful effects.

Smaller, therefore, is better.

In the writing world, the opposite is true when it comes to our “Internet Footprint.” Authors, editors, agents, and those wishing to see their name in print work to develop an online presence, but unlike our carbon cousin, larger is more desirable. It provides us easier access to potential readers, the ability to network efficiently, and the capability to announce “here I am" to the online world, all of which are important factors in the Computer Age. And while I agree that we may not technically need an Internet Footprint, the reality is that our hobby/profession is trending that direction. In fact, Jane Friedman had this to say in her blog yesterday:

“If you're serious about your career as an author, you need a website. And the sooner you get one going, the better.


The most important reason: There's a learning curve. You don't want to be scrambling to put together a site when your book releases, or when you have an agent's interest, or when someone asks why you don't have a site.”*

But what happens when we step on our footprint? As is the nature of the Internet, that error seems to go viral. 

Without rehashing the gory details, there has been a surprising amount of this in the writing community recently. Trolls, flame wars, dog-piling reviews, dramatic emotional outbursts, etc, have all reared their ugly heads in large numbers. Perhaps much of it is in earnest, with people passionately defending their opinions. Or perhaps it is intentional to stir up discord and draw attention to themselves. 

Either way, many blogs, review sites, and forums appear to have exploded.

Which brings us the point of this entry: Professionalism. In a day and age where everything winds up on the Internet, a person cannot go wrong handling themselves in a professional manner. Writing is a community of educated thinkers working tirelessly to express ideas, emotions, and creativity in the most artistic manner possible. We strive to build a community of peers to not only learn from, but aid in the long trek towards making this a career. It’s a family of people from across the globe, all with unique stories to share.

Each of us will suffer rejections, harsh critiques, and disappointment, but the way we handle them sets a benchmark for our character. Opening fire on someone with vigor and disgust may increase your online stock in the short term, but the writing community, and Internet as a whole, has a long memory. Everyone talks and word spreads at light speed, so the ability to shoot oneself in the Internet Footprint is pretty easy. Burn a bridge on one site and you’d be surprised how many other bridges go down with it.

But if we handle ourselves and others with respect and professionalism, then we will ultimately expand our Footprint rather than watch it wither and die.  

*retrieved from Ms. Friedman’s blog on 07 Apr 11

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Just a short entry to thank those that provided advice for Shelley Watters’ Twit-Pitch competition.  Winds up the random number generator she used picked my entry as one of the lucky five for her query critique, but I like to think that it also had something to do with the excellent comments from reviewers.  Numerical anomaly or not, the help is greatly appreciated.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Writing Community

An author friend once said that writing, at its core, is lonely. Our stories begin in our head and are only brought to fruition through BICHOK (butt-in-chair-hand-on-keyboard). We spend hours alone, breathing life into our creations in the hopes that someone, somewhere, will like them. 

While I agree that the nature of putting pen to paper is solitary, the community of writing is surprisingly vast and supportive. The recent Twit-Pitch competition hosted by Shelley Watters is a prime example. Contestants were encouraged to spend two days critiquing one another before presenting their polished pitch for selection. Over 100 un-agented writers entered and even though only one could win the prize of a full manuscript request, everyone was eager to provide honest critiques to each other.  

How often do you see kinship in competition?

This sense of community exists all across the writing world. Aspiring authors have countless forums and blogs to choose from, all of which are overflowing with free advice and information. Betas, writing partners, and support groups can be found throughout the Internet or (normally) within driving distance. The encouragement and motivation to keep plugging away is readily available for those that seek it.

In an age where the “me” mentality is splattered all over television and the Internet, communities like writing are a breath of fresh air. Maybe it’s because so many of us struggle up the publishing hill that we understand the hardships. Or maybe it’s because we spend so much time in solitude with our ideas that we thirst for communion when and where we can find it. 

No matter the reason, it’s nice to know that we aren’t alone in this venture. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Twit-Pitch Competition

Shelley Watters' Twitter Pitch competition is on!  Two days (April 1st and 2nd) for contestants to post and critique each other on their Twit-Pitch Queries, then final entries entered on April 3rd.  Winner receives a full manuscript request from Suzie Townsend of Fine Print Literary Management while runners up get query reviews from the host herself.

My draft entry is below.  Best of luck to everyone involved and let’s have 140 characters of fun!

Twit-Pitch Query:

The Basics:

Title: Undead Chaos
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 82,000

The Pitch v1.2 (138 characters): - With new and improve edits thanks to excellent reviewers!

When Marcus beheads a zombie, he inadvertently frames an innocent man, falls in lust, and battles a scheme to unite Humanity by bloodshed.

The Pitch v2.1 (138 characters): - Tweaked once again per comments.

For Marcus, beheading the zombie is easy. The fallout: an innocent framed, lust, and thwarting a scheme to destroy Humanity, not so much.