Jul 7, 2017 - Uncategorized    No Comments

More Advice on Writing

I’ve been reading lots of advice on writing, but the one thing that I don’t recall seeing is the need for a clear, clean, place to work.

I stole these photos from my editor’s blog.

I use a fold-down writing desk that is quite similar. It’s called a secretary, it closes up and hides the mess.
pine secretary

But this is what it looked like when he folded down the desk.

A bag of mint flavored flossers; in his writing desk??

This is after he organized things a bit.
Secretary much cleaner
Now he has room for his computer or a legal pad. Which reminds me; if you use paper, a pen that writes well relieves a surprising amount of the stress. That means no globs of ink, no smears, no start-stop, and no stains on the wall from losing your temper.

This bit of advice is at least as important as any you might read. If you wear glasses, buy a microfiber cloth, it is a godsend. I can’t think of a single thing that has caused me as many headaches as smudges on my lenses.
microfiber-cloth
(This was a freebie from a company that I order lens adapters from.)

Now for two completely off-topic items.

First, I use the free version of Grammarly because, at this point in time, I don’t write enough to justify the $12 a month for premium.

Second, I use WordPress with the plugin from Yoast.

Grammarly tells me I don’t punctuate or spell correctly.
While Yoast tells me my title is too short or I have less than 300 words. Both of which are important to SEO.

Remember, those that can, do. And the rest of us pontificate.

Jul 6, 2017 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Learning to Write All Over Again

I’m re-learning how to write. I may have gotten straight A’s in English back in the day, but there’s no way I’m going to do that again. I’ve developed too many bad habits.

I was told that I was an excellent story teller, but when I re-read a short story I had written a few months ago… well, it sucked! –I thought it was a good first draft, but giving it time to rest, has shown me the error of my ways. It’s one of the finest cures for insomnia I’ve ever read. Unless, you’re an English major, in which case it will keep you awake nights.

I need someone to analyze my story and tell me where I screwed up, but rather than immediately going back to school, I’ve decided to start online, so when I do go back I won’t embarrass myself in front of the class.

I discovered a site called Jerz’s Literacy Weblog, which has nice selection of short story writing tips. I especially like their section titled: “Get Started: Emergency Tips.”
The first tip “What does your protagonist want?” forces you to consider the entire narrative.
“The athlete who wants her team to win the big game and the car crash victim who wants to survive are not unique or interesting enough.”

Then there’s The Fiction Writers Mentor. She has a section on writing mistakes. –I’ve already made most of them.

Finally The Write Life has a nice post on self-editing.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I’m making notes on interesting people, unbelievably dull people, and events.

And so on.

(My first bad guy is going to be a bad-ass biker and I’m going to name him Wilberforce.)

Jul 2, 2017 - Uncategorized    No Comments

I’ve Started Writing

I’m starting to write, even if I’m not ready for the public to see my work.

To that end, I’m reading a bunch of authors I haven’t thought about since high school.

Anton Chekov was one of my favorite authors, now I’m rereading several of his books. If you want to give him a try there is a Kindle edition of his complete works for $1.99.

This his most famous advice when it comes to writing a scene.

  • “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”
  • “One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn’t going to go off. It’s wrong to make promises you don’t mean to keep.” Chekhov, letter to Aleksandr Semenovich Lazarev (pseudonym of A. S. Gruzinsky), 1 November 1889. Here the “gun” is a monologue that Chekhov deemed superfluous and unrelated to the rest of the play.
  • “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.” From Gurlyand’s Reminiscences of A. P. Chekhov, in Teatr i iskusstvo 1904, No. 28, 11 July, p. 521.

Something I read, I’m not sure where, suggested using a timer to break your writing into 25 minutes sessions with at least a 5 minute break in between.

Beyond that I can only give the advice everyone given me:

  • Read voraciously
  • Write every day.
  • Write notes to self
  • Keep a pen and notebook with you at all times.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Go to a mall and people watch.
    –Pick one, invent a life for him/her based on first impressions, write him into your story.
    –Sometimes they get to be the hero, sometimes the bad guy, and sometimes they’ll just be what Hollywood calls “air people.”
    –If there’s no one wandering around but the protagonist/antagonist the scene will feel too empty.
    –Unless of course you want to set it in a stuck elevator or a collapsed cave.
Jun 24, 2017 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Showgirls at Walmart

I was in Walmart the other day when I saw Showgirls back by the garden section.
showgirl
They even had an Elvis impersonator.

Elvis I can buy, but showgirls??? in Walmart????

I grew up in Vegas so as showgirls go these didn’t impress, but they were still showgirls… In Walmart.

I broke down and asked someone WTF was going on. She told me that the Walmart on Boulder and Nellis is the training center for all new managers and this was the graduation party.

As far as we could figure out the girls didn’t do anything but act as eye-candy for the Elvis show. I didn’t see an open bar, making me doubt there was any booze.

Isn’t having to sit through another Elvis concert while sober classed as cruel and unusual punishment?

Well, at least they gave them a party.

Jun 24, 2017 - Uncategorized    No Comments

I’m Showing My Age

I keep forgetting my age, my mind insists I’m still twenty-something, but my body disagrees, and now the cracks in my facade are starting to show.

I went to urgent care with chest pains. All that is wrong is that I’ve been sitting on my ass for so long, it finally caught up with me.

They drew blood, hooked me up to a heart monitor, ran some other tests and then sent me home with a tiny bottle of nitroglycerin pills, just in case.

Now I have to eat healthily and start walking. I also need to toss in some light weights to build muscle mass.
7-11 hot dog with the works
As an example; this tastes really good, so it is bad. Cheese, chili and large hot dog on a white bread bun. A definite no-no.

This black bean salad is ok for the main meal.
Bowl of black bean salad
The downside is that a homemade vinaigrette is ok, but smothering it with ranch dressing is not even an option. –And no beer until I lose 30lbs.

I have exercise equipment, but I had to borrow Rich’s picture of his treadmill because mine is covered with tools and drop cloths.
treadmill used as clothes hanger
As you can see, he irons. I don’t know why I just buy no-iron shirts.

So I’m back in the saddle and getting more boring by the minute. No booze, no fattening food, and not much fun.