I'm off work today for Confederate Memorial Day. Believe me, we got plenty of flack when they started giving us that day off as a holiday. It was actually part of the compromise for removing the Confederate Flag from the State House dome. As part of the deal, the flag was moved, and Martin Luther King, Jr., day and Confederate Memorial Day were added as official State Holidays (but I think State Employees are the only ones that actually close their offices on this day).
I know it's obscure, but before you start squawking tell me: Would you refuse a day off? I won't. Not even on principle. Plus, honestly, I think they're required to give us so many holidays a year and I think we just ran out of the major ones, so we had to move on to secondary ones to get the extra day in.
Well, a day off's a day off, and I plan to enjoy it. It gives me a chance to get some little things done that usually sit until they pile up to the point where I have to make time for them. That's good. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that efficient time management is a must for a busy lifestyle.
That's a good point to ponder on this extra day off. Somebody asked me recently how on earth I find time to write with a full time job. The short answer is efficient time management. I'm lucky that I was taught that in college, and it's one of the skills I've found most useful in my life. It isn't always easy, but the truth is that we make time for things that are important to us, whether we realize it or not. Writing nights and weekends is the obvious answer, but I have to admit that I make a fair amount of progress by taking my laptop to work and writing on lunch breaks too. It's only an hour, but if I do that two times a week then it's the equivalent to another weeknight of work. And another secret is that I don't watch much TV. I watch 3 shows during the fall season (Arrow, Supernatural, and The Americans - all come on the same night, so I can "block out" Wednesday nights for that), and 1 show during the summer (Breaking Bad). I look up news and weather online so I don't have to watch it on TV. And yes, occasionally I do forego recreation to get writing done. I've passed on watching football games, lunches out, and shopping or "hanging out" on days off like today to write. And I have to humbly admit that I even write on sick days, if possible. One reason I made good progress on my novella this week was because I was sick with a virus Monday, but I drug myself out of bed and wrote a chapter anyway. It isn't always easy, but with some planning you can make time for things.
I tell you, a busy life is a blessing. It's a life of abundance, but you have to manage it wisely to experience and enjoy it to the fullest.
Speaking of the novella, it has a name now - Incursion. It looks like it going to be 10 chapters with a prologue and epilogue. I know the pros recommend against prologues and epilogues, but I like it and that's my style. If people like the piece then they'll read it. Plus, I endeavor to keep them short. To me, they're the bookends of the story and I'm not going to abandon them just because it isn't popular. Platform shoes went out of style after the 70's, but darn if I don't see women wearing those atrocities again all the time. So there. Style is a poor reason to change something that works for you. Or to do something that doesn't work.
Anyway, I've written 5 chapters so far, which is excellent progress. More than I expected at this point, really. But alas, I did push myself to make this progress and my wrists are achey, so once I complete this entry then I do plan to take a break from the keyboard for the rest of today and tomorrow. You have to balance the planning and time management with common sense, and I won't make any progress at all if I push it too far with my wrist. So given my good progress this week, I'm using today to spend time with other people and things that I wish to nurture in my life. Like hanging out with the birds, tending my roses, and having lunch with Mom. A day off is a rare gift, and I want to enjoy it to the fullest.
That's all today. I hope you have a Happy Friday and that the mom's out there have a good Mother's Day.
Yes folks, I have arrived at that point in the novel writing process. Control of this story has officially shifted from me to the characters and let me tell you, I've already found more twists and turns than the Smoky Mountain Parkway.
Funny really, when you consider that this story takes place in the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee!
It always happens. You start writing a novel with our outline in hand and your plot planned. Then comes that moment when you're writing and all of a sudden, the unexpected has happened. You get in a flow and when you come back to consciousness you look over it and say "wait a minute, I didn't plan for THAT!" And that's when it really takes off. You're in that world, and you have to see what will happen because heck, you're the writer and even YOU don't know. I've pounded out 8 chapters since Sunday. That's right, 8. I've been writing every chance I have a minute. I've even been carrying the laptop to work with me so I can write during my lunch breaks.
Yes, I'm at that point. The story has taken over my brain, my hands, and my laptop. The only thing stopping me from going back to it right now is that I'm at another crossroads point where I'm trying to figure out how to deliver what comes next. Or rather, I'm waiting for the characters to let me know, because this week, THEY took over the story. And that's exactly what every writer lives for. That moment when the world they created comes to life. That moment when it becomes real (at least to them). That moment when they know they're delivering a new creation to the world, and they're consumed by it. That moment when at least 50% of their brain seeps into that world and isn't coming out until the story's done.
Yes indeed, I am at that point, and I love it. This is why we write. This is the joy. This is the purpose.
That's all today. Happy Friday to you tomorrow and I hope you have a good and safe Memorial Day weekend. Remember those who have died so you can enjoy your life and freedom.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know just who the villian is. The fact is that we all have reasons for doing what we do. So what is it that determines who's the hero and who's the villian?
I believe it boils down to one thing: motive. Why does a person do what they do? Is it to benefit themselves, other people, the "greater good of all," or to harm others? These are the basic motivators for all behavior. And sometimes it can be difficult to discern exactly where that motivation lies.
It would be easy to say that pure motives always win the day, but it's not so simple. Sure, it's obivous that a person is a villian when they do something with the intention of hurting other people or sabatoging situations, but such cases are rare, even in fiction, because life isn't so black and white. Sometimes we can believe we're doing what's right, and be dead wrong because we have wrong information, thoughts or motivations. Sometimes what seems dead wrong can be the right thing. And sometimes people do the right thing and are punished for it because they're working with people or situations based on wrong beliefs and motives. The goal isn't the overall good or what's right, but protecting and supporting "the right people." I think anybody that's ever had a job can attest to this one, as office politics exist everywhere and can rear their ugly heads in a number of ways. Yes, there are laws against some things, but you'd be appalled at how people have found ways through loopholes and red tape to get what they want in ways that are morally questionable but still perfectly legal. Anywhere But Here hits on this very theme, and Blurry even hits on it in a way too but showing how thin that line between right and wrong is, and how easy it is to manipulate it.
Pure motive doesn't just mean doing what's morally right. It also means knowing the truth and acting on it, whether you like it or not. It means that sometimes making the decision to do the right thing is the hard decision, because it's not a quick or easy path, and it may not be to our benefit in the short term. I can speak from experience on this one - my job move 2 years ago was definitely done entirely for the benefit of others with no consideration given to what was best for me. It was 100% about what others wanted and what benefited them. I chose to go along because I believed it was right for a greater purpose and that it would work out to benefit me too in the end - but I had to put the desires and needs of others before my own because, well, the situation forced it. Sure, I could have fought it, but I believed that the disadvantage I suffered in the short term would lead to a greater good for everybody, myself included - and it did. It wasn't an easy road but I wouldn't do it differently and in fact, am glad it happened and that things have worked out to put everybody in a better place. So far, it has truly wound out to be one of those situations where everybody did win, and I appreciate how rare that is. But 2 years ago I had no assurances of it, and had to take it on faith that my temporary discomfort and suffering would lead to something better.
I think the bottom line is that the world is full of shades of grey, and the only way to get to what's right is a mix of accepting the truth of reality and using discernment. Unfortunately, such a balance is only struck with time, life experience and wisdom - but it can happen. You just have to be willing to open your eyes, ask the right questions, and accept the answers. If you're wrong, you have to be willing to learn from your mistakes and be able to move on with that valuable wisdom. And for goodness sake, please do NOT keep making the same mistakes over and over. Remember: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. It's not gonna happen, folks. Miracles can happen, but not if you're an igit walking in ignorance and selfish motives.
I believe the biggest thing I'd like for you to take from this blog series is that there aren't predetermined limits or roles. We always want to beleive that we're right, but the truth is that in reality we will be both the hero and the villian. It depends on where we find ourselves in the situation and what our motives are - and on who's telling the story.
Thanks for joining me on this impromptu blog series on villians. It's been extremely helpful to me in brainstorming and forming a plan for my next novel, and I hope you've enjoyed being on this journey with me. I'll certainly keep you posted on my progress with this project, my published novels, and everything else in the rabbit hole of my life.
Take care and enjoy the remainder of your weekend.
I'd like to expand on something I said in my last blog entry about how "the villians make the story." We don't actively think about, but it's true that without the villians there would be no story - not in real life or in fiction. That's one thing they share in common. After all, where's the excitement in just another day? There's not much, is there? In fact, we have a term for long periods of time without resistance. We call it a rut.
That's not to say that problems are desirable. Heck no. I could do with fewer "adventures" in my life, truth be told. But the fact of the matter is that we grow when we have resistance. It's the tough times, struggles, and pain in the butt people where we learn and grow the most. That's not a truth many of us want to face, but it is a truth. Look back over your life, and I'll be the times you learned the most were during your greatest struggles. It was true for me. I took a lot of lessons from those instances I described in my last entry. I learned how to stand up for myself, how to stand up for what's right, and how to deal with fragile egos (because frankly, a lot of those problems went to a root of fragile egos addicted to approval). I learned not to fear change and to have confidence in myself and my abilities no matter what other people thought or said about me, and that strength gave me the confidence to build a house, successfully move to and integrate into a new office, and to publish 4 books (and some inspiration for said books too). To put it bluntly, manure is a fertilizer and fertilizer makes things grow. If you learn from your experiences and use those lessons to better yourself then you will be prepared for greater blessings ahead. So think of the crap you deal with as the stimulus to grow your spirit and take you to new heights.
I know, that's not a pretty metaphor. Frankly, it stinks. (Oh, another bad joke). But it's relevant and you have to admit that it's not a cliche comparisome. And you won't forget it either, will you?
Anyway, back to the point ...
I believe the series finile of "Smallville" hit it close to the mark when Lex Luthor told Clark Kent "I used to think your friends defined a man. But it's actually enemies that define a man." I believe that's a bit extreme and one sided, but it has a grain of truth. Our enemies, or rather the people we find ourselves clashing with and struggling against, do have a certain amount of definition to our own lives because they are often dark images of ourselves. I've blogged in previous entries about how each of us tends to be a magnant for people that are our polar opposite and that the people we struggle with tend to have a common root issue - for example, with me it seems there are always jealous, petty people around. I can't seem to get rid of them. And the reason I struggle with them is because I want to be my best and help others be their best. Therein lies my own Lex Luthor. We all have one and if you look at the people you're in strife with, I'll bet you'll see that same dark image of yourself in them. The real story and lessons lie in how we deal with them. Do you fight to win, stand your ground, or swat them away like a bug and keep on keeping on. There is no one right answer becase it depends on who and what you're dealing with. I had to stand my ground and occationally fight the last ones in my life, but the answer for the present ones seems to be ignoring them. Just keep doing my thing and let them seeth and have their pity party all alone because I'm busy and have stuff to do.
That's why every experience is different. It's because you can have the same situation and a different answer due to the context of the situation. The last jealous people I dealt with feared confrontation and avoided it, so fighting forced them to do something they found so unpleasant that they'd back off. But the ones in my life now live for and absolutely love the fight and the challenge it brings. They hate to be ignored - so I ignore them. As I said before, different context = different solution. And the same principle applies in fiction as in real life.
Yes, the villians do make the stories. It's provides the catalyst to grow and learn in real life. It provides the plot in fiction. Because without villians, there is no story. There is no growth. there is no spark to life.
So don't be too hard on those pain in the butt people. After all, they can be quite useful if you know how to utilize them correctly. In fiction and in reality.
That's all for today. Take care and have a good week.
The pieces that have been floating around for a while and they finally came together. I have the basis for my next book. It's just an idea right now; very rough and full of gaps, but there's enough pieces in place to know that the gaps will fill in and lead to my next book.
The early stages are exciting, but also confusing. There are so many possibilities. My first step is to research. All writers must face the "suspension of disbelief" factor, and the way to do that is to have a base of truth to the story. Believe it or not, this is true of any genre. Even science fiction and fantasy must have constants in place that can be applied to give readers a basis to hang that suspension on - after all, if there's truth that we can realte to in the world we know, then we can suspend our disbelief when we take it on a path that diverts from that truth. My story is going to be mystery (big surprise) with an element of urban fantasy. I have a lot of research to do for this one, but it will be worth it. And often, the research helps the story to fill out by giving the writer more pieces to work with and more importantly, to manipulate.
I've started, though, and I'm excited. I have some good, solid brainstorming notes, which provide a great place to start developing the plot and directing my research. And so, my next book project starts.
Welcome to the journey. I hope you enjoy it.
That's all today. Take care, and I hope the rest of your week goes well.
I did it! I finally got the formatting right for Quarantine
and got Resonance
posted at Smashwords! It's also a free download, but this is a long story. Go check it out and download it at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/88653
before I get greedy and slap a price on it!
It's so good to finally get this stuff posted! I've only been working on it for over a week! Maybe now I'll resume having a sembelance of something like a life.
I hope your week is going well. Take care.
Hi everybody; I hope you're having a great weekend. Today is kind of a slow going day for me, which is refreshing. It's nice to not be rushing around all day!
My wrist is feeling better, and I'm glad it healed quickly because I've had a lot of writing ideas lately. Over the past couple of weeks, I've done some flash fiction, some non-fiction, and now I have ideas for two more pieces. One will be fiction and the other is non-fiction/inspirational. I'm glad that I'm inspired to write things in different genres. One thing I don't want is to be a one-trick wonder. I like writing in a variety of genres and styles. Although fiction is my favorite, I'm pleased that my inspiration for the non-fiction work that got me started seems to be returning. I'm probably rusty in that area, but I'll brush up. I do believe it's time to make my muse evolve and to embrace both fiction and non-fiction as fully as possible!
Tomorrow is Rick's birthday, and my birthday is next Friday (August 26th). I think Rick is a bit down about getting another year older - you know, the whole magic of birthdays is kind of lost after you turn 21. But honestly, my age isn't bothering me too much. I know mid-30's bother a lot of people, and from time to time I do ask myself how the hell I got to turning 36 in a week. But by and large, I have to say that I don't feel old. Wiser, definitely, and extremely grateful for that. More life experience to draw on, which is a good thing. Wishing I looked more like I did 10 years ago but Rick still compliments me so I guess I'm still in "average" range with the looks, which isn't bad. But not old. No, I'm not feeling the mid-life crisis right now. Guess I'll have to have it later.
But I would like to take this opportunity to publiclly wish Rick a Happy Birthday tomorrow.
It hasn't been as hot lately, and I'm grateful. A lot of people are saying they're ready for summer to be over so this hot weather will pass. Yes, it's been brutally hot, but truthfully I'm not eager to see summer go. Why? What would we be wishing away. Extreme heat for what - extreme cold? No thanks. Actually, I hate the cold, so I'll cope with the heat. And as I said, it's been more seasonable lately, so it hasn't been bad. So no, I don't want to see summer go. I still like it. I like the sunshine and long days, the green plants and blue sky, and the fact that the world is still alive. And there's something almost charming about a summer storm. In fact, I believe one is brewing now. I hear wind and thunder.
Well, that's all today. Just some random musings. I hope you're having a good weekend. Take care. More later.