Monthly Archives: May 2015

To read or not to read

That is a question many authors, especially new authors, ask themselves. Should they be reading anything while writing a book? Should they read the genre they write? How about other genres? Or, if they write fiction, maybe they ought to read only non-fiction.

This question has always amazed and confounded me. That was especially true when I read a comment by a new author who proudly said she never reads in the genre she writes because she doesn’t want her wonderfully original idea to be diluted by what she reads. Yes, you read that right. Not only did she honestly feel she had a truly original plot but that it would be “tainted” by what she might read in the genre.

There are two basic problems with that statement. The first is the belief that she had a truly original plot. Sorry, but there are only so many basic plots out there. Originality comes with how you handle that plot. The important thing is to remember that. Your story may be one of exploration — nothing new — or a coming of age story. Again, nothing new. But how you handle that story, what you put your character through and how your character handles what life throws at him, that is what you make your own.

The second issue is with believing your plot can be tainted by something you are reading. Now, if you are afraid you will wind up lifting elements of the plot from the book you are reading, well, the problem lies with you. You either don’t have a plot already set in your head or you are so uncomfortable or so unsure about what you are writing that you unconsciously know you are in trouble.

But that doesn’t answer the question of whether you should read the genre you write.

My answer is a resounding “yes”. You have to read your genre to know what is selling, to know what the readers want. I don’t mean to just read what comes out of the major publishers either. You need to look at the best sellers list on Amazon to see what indie books are selling well and read some of them. This is important because indies can and do, on the whole, publish more often than traditionally published authors. So you can read multiple books in a series in short order.

You also need to read outside your genre because, whether you realize it or not, my guess is your current work in progress encompasses more than one genre. You may be writing a mystery but if there is a romance as a subplot, you need to read some romantic suspense books to get the feel for what sort of cues you need to put in. It’s the same if your mystery has a ghost story interwoven through it — read some horror.

Last week, as I prepared to write Nocturnal Challenge, an urban fantasy/police procedural, I read several books in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. I also read the last couple of Eve Dallas books by J. D. Robb. Now that I am working on Challenge, and knowing that the next book I will be writing is Honor from Ashes, I’m reading David Weber and Peter Grant. Once I start Ashes, which is science fiction, I’ll go back to reading fantasy in preparation for writing Dagger of Elanna, the second book in my fantasy series.

So, while I don’t read in my genre while writing it, I do read it before and after. I will also throw in a healthy dose of non-fiction and other fiction genres like mystery/suspense and, heaven help me, even some romance because several of my series have romantic sub-plots.

But there is another reason why authors should read. We learn by reading. we learn the pitfalls of the craft we want to avoid and we learn how the better authors plot or develop characters or worldbuild. But, if you are like me, you also read for entertainment. I have loved getting lost in a book for as long as I can remember. My imagination is much more powerful than the images on a movie screen or on TV. I can — and have — read something and had nightmares afterwards because it set my imagination flying.

But what about you? Do you think a writer should read the genre they write? What’s the last great book you read? (Yes, I’m looking at padding my “to be read” stack)

 

Is There a Line to be Drawn?

For years I have considered writing a mystery with a crime or spy plot based on the 9/11 attack on New York’s World Trade Center towers. Even if I did have the time, however, I’ve never thought too seriously about it because I am concerned the plot would come across as being morbid or as though I was taking advantage of a horrific event. I mean, more than 3,000 innocents lost and nearly a decade and a half later I still have nightmare visions of so many of them jumping from the two towers.

Not that I have a shortage of story ideas (just a shortage of time to work on the half-dozen or so plots I already have sitting in my files), but this particular idea just keeps coming back to me like a boomerang.

So, the big question, at least in my mind, is whether piggy-backing on other peoples’ tragedies is fitting or appropriate?

My thinking, on a technical level, however, is that it seems as though fiction is best served with at least some reality for a point of reference. But, of course, this is one major heck of a point of reference.

By applying such a connection, such as a real-life event or of a noted individual, I figure readers can better relate to the story. For instance, I find it a lot more intriguing to read a story of fiction about World War Two, with at least some frame of reality, rather than a story about a futuristic U.S.-Russian nuclear exchange with people and events that may or (hopefully) may not ever exist. Although World War Two is fading into history, I grew up watching films based on the real-life war in Europe and the Pacific, along with knowing people who actually served in or survived the war.

And yes, I have not missed the irony here, at least on some level, between the tragedies of WWII and 9/11.  I’m just ignoring it until I can figure out what if any differences there really are.

While on a human level, I may be hesitant to write fiction based on the 9/11 tragedy, the subject in a practical sense, would open up opportunities for many plot possibilities and twists.

Of course, 9/11 could be viewed as just one of many examples. I am sure there are plenty of similar other instances, or am I just making a big deal of nothing?

Anyway, relevant or not, it’s been interesting sorting all this out in writing.

 

Someone In Your Corner

 

THE CHAMPEverybody needs someone in their corner. Someone who can tell you that you’re good at what you do even though every part of you is trying to convince you that you suck.

It all comes back to that self-doubt problem that has been written about in this blog (and probably countless others) already. It’s just that it seems to be a constant issue with writers. We have to have people telling us that what we are doing is worthwhile to keep us going. Good sales on your books, help, of course. That knowledge that you have people out there buying and enjoying your work and anxiously awaiting that next installment is certainly a shot in the arm. But what if you’re new at this and don’t have that yet?

I’m lucky enough to have a group of friends and fellow writers who seem to think that what I write isn’t blech! And that is a big help in keeping me going. But even more important is the fact that I have a lady at home who thinks that I’m the next great American novelist and that my writing is going to make us rich. While I’d be happy if my book simply helps to pay the bills, she is convinced that Stephen Spielberg is going to read it and want to make it into a film and offer me a multi-million dollar movie contract. I think she’s being a bit optimistic but it’s great knowing that someone has that much confidence in what you’re doing.

It would be hard to keep writing if I was being told that I was wasting my time. “Why don’t you stop with that stupid typing and go mow the lawn, or something!” Ouch!

No, instead I have a wife who says, “What are doing that for? Get upstairs and write!” Sometimes I feel a bit like Paul Sheldon in ‘Misery.’ I hope my wife never reads that book.

Oh, okay. She’s not that bad. That’s just a slight exaggeration. But she won’t let me sit around doing nothing. If I have some spare time, I’d better be writing or else I’ll hear about it. And that’s good, because left to my own devices I might wind up getting lazy and my wife won’t allow that to happen. After all, I need to keep turning out that work for Spielberg.

Hopefully, most of you who are reading this have someone in their corner that has faith in what they are doing. A writing group. Friends. And, best of all, your own personal cheerleader at home. Right now I’m picturing my wife wearing a cheerleader’s outfit and waving pom-poms. She’s screaming, “Joe! Joe! He’s our man, if he can’t write it, no one can!”

All right, that just got weird there, didn’t it? She looks cute in the outfit, though.

 

 

Why do you do what you do?

Who? What? When? Where? Why?

Early on in grade school we learned the importance of the 5 W’s and how to apply them in our story telling. Twenty years later and I still use a 5 W’s quick outline for all of my stories. I find it helps me focus when I get lost in the chaos of a novel.

I am sitting here listening to the torrential rain pummel my house and beat up my herb garden, I find myself asking a multitude of questions starting with Why? 

Why do I keep leaving my posts until the last minute, where unforeseen circumstances always threaten to delay my words?

Why do I torture myself on a weekly basis trying to come up with a topic to type out in the hopes that someone will like what I have to say?

Why didn’t I think to write that character’s point of view in a time line sequence instead of a diary?

Why do I think I can write something different enough that somebody will give two cents to what I have to say?

Then finally the big one, Why do I write?

These are the questions that have been rolling around in the back (front, side, other lobes) of my head all day.

That last question had me going back mentally in time to a post that Charli did a few weeks (months?) ago that I loved. As a writer we are always having to think about and figure out our branding. Almost as though we have to pimp out our words in the hopes that someone will like us enough to get noticed one day.

Maybe thinking of it as pimping out is a bad choice of words.

See! Branding is stressful, now I will be known as the writer who considers what she does as pimping.

Branding is a big part of what we have to do, being a writer is not just about writing. (Ha, that is what Amanda just said in her last post!) One thinks that writing is the perfect career choice for a hermit/recluse. And that is still the case… as long as you do not care if anyone reads your work. As in ever.

A writer has to not only imagine the story, write the words, edit the words, re-edit the words, but then sale the words. By doing so, one must brand themselves.

Seems easy. Let’s see how I do…

Who am I? AJ Prince, a writer

What am I? Human… Ha! ok seriously, What do I write? Realistic fiction, contemporary fiction, family; YA (Young Adult)/NA (New Adult)

When do I write? Always, when I am not physically writing, I am thinking about writing/ story lines/ plot lines. Or When did I become a writer? When I learned to spell. 🙂

Where do I write? In the U.S., but never at a desk.

Why do I write? ………………………………….

No one wants to hear “Because I have to.” or “Because the voices talk to me.” or “It’s just a part of who I am.”, because yeah, you and every other writer in the world. To answer the Why, you need to dig deeper than that. Remember, you are branding yourself, trying to stand out in the pool of words/authors.

You have to think of the Why as in a motivation term. Why is your story any different from the next person’s? Why should I spend my time/money reading your book? Why are you special?

So why do I write? Because I have something to say. In this infinite sea of writers, I am the only me and the only person who can tell my characters stories the way that they need to be told. They are as real to me as you are to me, maybe more so because I can see what they look like in my head where as I only know what a handful of you look like on the other side of this screen.

Now here’s the hard question, Why do YOU write? If you aren’t a writer, why do you do what you do? Let me know in the comments below.  

Till next time,

AJP

start-with-why

Setting Goals

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.

– Douglas Adams

Jess asked us yesterday, “So do you want to be a writer?” and encouraged us to just do it. Amanda talked to us last week about “The Business of Writing” reminding us to treat our writing like what it is, a business. So if I want to be a writer and I want to treat it like a business, what are some of the things I need to do to take my craft from something I want to do into something I am actually doing?  For me, that meant setting some writing goals.

I’ve always been a writer at heart for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t start making progress as a writer until I started setting goals for myself. It made the abstract idea of wanting to be a writer a more concrete task to be accomplished. It also made something that could seem unattainable seem possible.

My brothers-in-law really impressed me with a five year plan they laid out to accomplish a goal they had in mind of starting a new business in a new place. They set a realistic time line, made practical plans, did research and went about making it happen. Today they are living where they want, doing what they want and they accomplished it by setting and sticking to their goals.

Last year I set myself a challenge to write every day. My plans weren’t as solidly laid out as they might have been, but just setting a goal to write every day, even with loose restrictions on what I had to write, helped me get into the habit of writing. I didn’t set a word count limit, though some people do. I didn’t set a time limit, though some people benefit from setting a specific required time. I didn’t even make what type of writing I had to a part of the goal. For me, just having set the goal to write every day pushed me to make real my desire to write.

To set a goal that works for you, first you need to decide what exactly you want to accomplish. Where do you want to end up once the goal is met? How much time do you want to allow to get there? Is the goal less about where you want to be and more about improving how you manage to get there?

Once you’ve set a goal and set about accomplishing it, you might find the plan you’ve put into place isn’t working for you. Allowing a little flexibility and an ability to shift as needed can help you make it to the finish line, instead of quitting halfway through the race.  When I set the goal to write every day last year, I had originally thought I would blog every day as well. I quickly learned that I couldn’t manage both. Many people can, and do, successfully, but I realized with my work and family life it just wasn’t possible. Tweaking my original idea of what I would do rather than abandoning it all together meant that I continued working toward what I want.

I’ve still got quite a few goals in place now and am always looking for others I may need to put into place. What about you? Do you have any goals you have set and met? Any you are considering setting for yourself? Do you work well with goals or avoid them? Feel free to tell me in the comments.

Thanks and have a great week! 🙂

~CJS

So You Want To Be A Writer One Day?

 

 

london bus

Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

If…someday…one day…when I get around to it.

If there’s one thing death teaches us, it’s that there’s not enough time. And yet, we let the opportunities pass us by because we think we’re immortal. Even when we’re staring at a corpse lying in a coffin proving otherwise. The lucky ones are those who realize that anything can happen at any moment and decide to not let their fears stop them.

Today, it’s personal.

Two years ago, I lost my father to pancreatic cancer, the one that by the time the symptoms appear, it’s too late. He lived for three months before he succumbed to it. I had three months to prepare, but it still hit like driving 60 mph and hitting a brick wall. I knew, if I let it, it would drive me straight into a black hole of depression. So, why didn’t I? I had every right to grieve. I lost my dad, one of the only two reasons for my existence on earth, my second true love. (My mom is my first.) How do you NOT let yourself fall into a pit when you lose one of the most important people in your life?

Well, to begin with, I turned to poetry. The musical lines and words were a balm. They kept me from going under. I don’t know how many times I listened to John Hannah’s reading of Funeral Blues from Four Weddings and A Funeral, or read it myself. Desiderata also played an important part in keeping me from losing it. Two lines stood out from that one:

“Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.”

And

“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.”

I can’t tell you the number of times I repeated those lines to myself. Especially the part “you have a right to be here.”

With that line, something began vibrating inside me. I felt as if someone had begun to tighten my strings, oil my gears, and bring me back into the light of the world. I have a right to be here. And so began my second life.

I took a good hard look at myself and I realized, I was unhappy. I hadn’t accomplished anything, or so I felt. What had I done other than produce offspring? What contribution to society, what impact, had I made? What legacy would I be leaving behind, and is that the one I wanted to be known by?

(I have a right to be here.)

I can be one determined woman when pushed. And so, I pushed. That’s right. I pushed myself. I became my own personal trainer/life coach/cheerleading squad. I forced myself to lose over 40 pounds because I deserved to feel good about myself again, which I hadn’t for a very long time. I began thinking positively and trying to eliminate as much negativity as possible. And I began writing again. Yeah, I stopped writing. For three years. The “why” isn’t important. It was life taking a reckoning and making a point, I suppose. But, now, I began writing in earnest. I knew this was my calling. So, I listened, and let the Muse take control. Do you know what happened then?

Things began changing and rearranging, and Opportunity began throwing doors in my path. All I had to do was open them. And I did.

(I have a right to be here.)

One of those opportunities came in a form I least expected. A friend who I hadn’t seen in months asked me to go to a writing group meeting at a local library, and I said I’d go with her. I joined, she didn’t. She was more of an artist, not a writer. To be honest, I’m not really sure why she had wanted to go in the first place. But, ours is not to reason why. If I hadn’t gone with her, you wouldn’t be reading this. (There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio.)

Writing saved me. I turned to it when I had nowhere else to go. When I was angry, I wrote, and it showed me how to deal constructively with that anger. When I was sad, I would write, and I could leave people with tears in their eyes and saying how good it was. Writing has been my salvation. But let’s be honest here. I was the one who made the choice to write. I saved myself. I have a right to be here.

I want you to pretend you are waiting on a bus. It’s taking forever to get to your stop and you’re already late. You check the time. The clouds look like they might open up any minute and drop buckets of rain on you, and of course, there’s no cover and you forgot your umbrella. You tap your foot. You pace. You check your cell phone. Finally, you realize the bus isn’t coming, so you call someone to come help. Just when your ride arrives, the bus shows up, too. Of course it does. What do you do? Do you get on the bus, or do you take the ride you called? The choice is completely yours.

By the way, did you catch a glimpse of the destination sign on the bus? It reads: One Day (and it’s totally being driven by AJ which is why it’s late.)

Here’s the thing. Every time I turn around I hear “I need to do that. One day I will.” One day. One day. I hate those two words. Guess what…one day never comes if you don’t take action. So you want to be a writer? Begin writing. Oh! You want to be a PUBLISHED writer. Do it. Stop sitting on your laurels (oh, how that’s not a strong enough word but I’m trying to keep it PG) and just. do. it. You will never get there by waiting and saying “one day.”

I know it’s hard. I know it’s scary. I know words are easy to say and actions hard to perform. But you regret those opportunities you let pass you by. And who am I to tell you these things? I’m you. I used to say the same exact things. I used to think exactly the same way. But, I am doing it. I will be a published writer. I had to make the decision to ignore my fears. Oh, they’re still there, believe me, but I am not going to let them rule me.

You have a right to be here. You have to save yourself.

So, do it.

Jesi

P.S. This post was inspired by two people: our very own AJ Prince and my ex Sister-in-Heart who passed away last week. She was doing it. I don’t think she regretted it.

(Also, thanks to our Joe who drew the bus for me. It’s awesome, and I love it!)

 

 

The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost

 

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

The Business of Writing

As i sit here watching the morning news to see if we are going to get yet more rain — and we are — I find my mind wandering to the long list of things I need to do over the next few days. Most are all writing related but none are actually writing. They do have everything to do with the business of writing and it is this that so many of us forget about.

It’s easy to think that writing is just that — writing. And it is for those who aren’t interested in publishing their work. But for the rest of us, that writing of a project, whether it is a novel or a short story or a poem or a piece of non-fiction, is just that start. There is the editing and having beta readers look it over. There is the fact-checking for both fiction and non-fiction. Then there is deciding whether we are going to self-publish the piece or send it out to find an agent and/or a publisher. And both of those have a long list of things you have to do and keep on top of if you are going to make writing work as even a part-time business for you.

For me, as an indie author, my challenges are a bit different than those of an author trying to go traditional. I don’t have to keep track of professional markets. I don’t have to worry about finding an agent — and handing over 15% or more of what I make to them for the term of the contract, or for the life of the copyright. I don’t have to worry about crossing all the Ts and dotting all the Is to get my rights reverted when the time comes.

However, like a traditionally published author, I do have to worry about marketing and promotion. There are very few traditionally published authors who get any real push from their publishers. Instead, they are expected, by their publishers and agents alike, to spend time and money promoting their own work. Same as what indies have to do. Some of us do this through blogging or other forms of social media. There are promotion sites that, for a fee, will send their subscribers information about your book. You can take out ads on Facebook and even on Amazon. But there is no secret that works for everyone.

The only constant is that it is hard work.

But it is necessary.

Unfortunately, too many of us, yours truly included, would rather be writing than dealing with the more mundane business aspects of the profession. Due to some things happening in “real life”, I’ve let some of those aspects slip. One of those has been getting print books proofed and offered for sale. So yesterday was spent doing just that. Now I get to argue with the POD company over what they say are errors and I know they are not. That’s especially true with one file that has already been published. I did not change the cover for this particular project, only a few words of interior text. But last night I received an email telling me the cover file needed to be redone. Since I know they have already used that particular file, I will point that out to them and see what they say. On the other project file they say there is a problem with, well, I sort of expected it. So I will go back to it tomorrow probably and see if I can fix it. Once the print files are accepted, I will order hard copies of the ARCs (advanced reader copies). That is the best way to see if the cover really does work or if there is a problem with the interior pages.

Then there is having to enter my expenses as well as my income into the accounting program. As I said earlier, writing is a business and we have to look at it as such. Research materials, hardware and software used for writing can be written off. (Of course, that doesn’t mean the IRS will always agree.) But by doing this as you go, it makes filing taxes a lot easier when the time comes.

I also need to get back to a regular schedule when it comes to publishing. I now have three active series going on and each one of them need a book to come out in the very near future. Fortunately, I have the books plotted. It is just a matter of sitting down and writing them. Then there are several stand alone novels I want to write as well. Oh, and I do try to have a life outside of writing. So getting organized is important.

I guess the whole point of this is to remember that your writing is also your business. It sucks, at times, but that’s the truth of the matter. Now go write and, when you look up from your keyboard, think about how you are going to promote your work. How are you going to get word out pre-publication and how are you going to keep word-of-mouth going post-publication? What’s your schedule for getting your current work-in-progress done and out on the market and what is your next project?

Sometimes You Just Gotta Let It Out

A few weeks ago, I explained that my writing background is in journalism. While I am genuinely working to develop my creative side of writing, I find my roots, at least on a technical level, are still firmly rooted in my journalistic education. Face it, after 30 years of working to perfect any trade, it is hard to execute an about-face or even a deviation in one’s path.

So, setting aside my emerging creative aspirations and focusing this week on my anal, journalistic side, I want to address a couple of issues – “pet peeves,” you can call them – that I have in the hopes, that by jotting them down on paper (or a blog), I can shake them off and, perhaps, get them out of my system so I can move on. By the way, can I even use the word “anal?”

My rant is not about creative writing, but is directed mostly at professional journalism and, specifically, news broadcasters, although print reporters are not entirely innocent either.

Try this on for size: “The tornado completely destroyed the high school.” With all the storms in our area, this type of phrase has been used lately, either out of carelessness or perhaps toward exploiting the dramatic effect. But, as I was taught and had beaten into to me by my teachers, that if a building is “destroyed,” would it not be by definition “complete” and total? If it is not “complete,” then it would be “damaged,” since “destruction” is already all or nothing.

You see, journalism is about using language effectively and efficiently, meaning that redundancies on the professional level, as I was taught, are not tolerated.

Another example comes from the news of a recent tornado in Oklahoma where it was reported that “a warehouse had been totally leveled.” Again, if a building is leveled, would it not be “total?”

Then there is the word “unique,” which is also abused constantly by broadcasters and just about everyone else these days. According to Merriam-Webster, “unique” primarily means: “being the only one.” I say “primarily,” because the word has been abused with terms such as, “very unique” so commonly that their dictionary has a sidebar dedicated to the debate of how some people accept the term. After all, if an item or person is unique, how could adding the word “very” make it any more of one of a kind.

There are other examples in contemporary journalism that I could discuss, such as how the word “literally,” which has come to be overused and abused; or how the small word “very,” as referred to above, is frequently added for emphasis where it is not needed.

So there, call me “anal” but at least I got my rant and a couple of my pet peeves out in the open.

 

So Many Ideas…So Little Time

story ideas

Where do you guys get your story ideas from? There’s gonna be a lot of different answers, I know.

It could be a movie you saw, a book you read, a video game you played or even a dream you had. Or, of course, something that you experienced. There’s no right or wrong way. Whatever works! A lot of my stories come from history. Some, just pop out of my head. They’re swimming around in there, all the time. Just got to reach in there and grab one of the little buggers.

I got an idea for a story, once, by seeing a street sign. Out by me there are two roads that cross one another. One is Anita and the other is called Bourland. I saw the signs hanging over the street;  Anita Avenue and Bourland Road. Hmmm…Anita Bourland. What a great name for a character. I started running the idea around in my mind. Who could that be? It sounds like an old film star. Maybe she’s in an old age home. Yeah…she’s being taken care of by a young girl who works there who doesn’t believe all of the stories that Anita is telling her about the great old movie stars of the past. Now, I’m driving and I’m thinking about all of this. Such is the messed up brain of a writer. I got home and started writing it. It’s one of the many stories out on the back burner.

That’s the way it happens for me, sometimes. There are so many story ideas all around us that I can’t understand some of the things I see people asking in the writers sections of Facebook. “What should my character do for a living?” somebody asks. “I’m trying to think of a good idea for a story that I want to have take place in my home town. Any suggestions?” says another one. My favorite was one who wants to do a non-fiction, self- help, book. She says, “I’m writing a book called, ‘How to make a Million Dollars on E-Bay in 14 Days.’ Does anyone have any ideas on what I should put in it?”

I had to answer that one.

I said, “If you are writing a book called ‘How to make a Million Dollars on E-Bay in 14 days,’ and are asking US what to put in the book, then maybe you shouldn’t be writing a book called ‘How to make a Million Dollars on E-Bay in 14 Days.’ Because you obviously don’t KNOW how to make a million dollars on e-bay in 14 days.”

I did start the post with the words, “No offence, but…” I’m not all that bad a guy. But really, was that a bit too harsh? I don’t think so. How can anyone who calls themselves a writer be asking other people what she should write?

It’s got to come from you. Having ideas is actually a lot more important than knowing how to write. That part you can learn. Nobody can teach you how to have an imagination, however. I see two people arguing in a car and I see a story. A text message just came over their cell phone. The wife is angry because it’s a woman asking her husband about getting together. Uh…oh, busted. “Are you cheating on me?” she’s screaming as he’s trying to navigate through the traffic. I was sitting outside with my laptop one morning and sipping my coffee when I heard a motorcycle roaring by. I was annoyed at the racket at that time in the day and began typing a little snippet about a ‘bike rider who is screeching through a quiet neighborhood one morning and runs a stop sign. A car is coming and, well…you know. Yeah, I killed him. Felt good.

Sometimes I worry myself. My wife is from Chile and we spent a week down there on vacation. We were at a beautiful beach and I saw a girl walking into the water. My brain went into story mode. I imagined my character sitting on the beach watching the same scene. All of a sudden some men run up and try to grab her. He saves her and winds up getting tangled up in a story involving drug dealers and the white slave trade. I thought all of that just by watching a girl walk into the water. Is that even normal?

But that’s the way my mind works. It’s not always a good thing. It means that I have what OUR LEADER calls “popcorn kittens.” Ideas all over the place that aren’t complete. But boy, if I ever get to them all and finish them, I’ll have quite a body of work out there!

So much is going on around us all the time that a story idea should be easy. And if you can’t think of any fictional ideas than maybe non-fiction is for you. But if you need to ask others what you should put into your book about becoming a millionaire on e-bay, then maybe that’s not for you either. Maybe, just maybe…(Dare I say it?) you aren’t a writer. And that’s okay. It’s not necessarily a good thing to be someone who drives around talking to himself about a story idea he got after reading a street sign.

Duck and cover

Oh how I love my little group of fellow writers. I have stumbled upon a great group of people with equally great sense of humors. I missed my post this morning, and when I was finally able to read their comments from Amanda’s quick note this AM gave me a much needed laugh.

Just for the record, yes, I seemed to have been sucked into some pre-historic, cult-like, wormhole that is trying to take me alive. My washing machine is just fine, yes I am pretty sure I have pulled a good bit of hair out from stress, and what the crap kind of place doesn’t have internet availability – even on my phone- in this day and age! It is not fun guys, not fun at all. Anyone want to throw me a rope? Or hand? I promise to try and not pull you in with me…

Maybe.

Life sometimes throws lemons at us, so we make lemonade.

Then it gets cranky and throws nuts and bolts at us, so we build something cool, like a robot.

That really pisses it off, so it drops big ass boulders on top of us and laughs historically as we writhe in a painful heap on the ground. That is about where I am right about now. But no worries, I will kick this boulder’s (or was it Life’s) butt and be back on schedule in no time.

I hope.

In the mean time, hope your writing/reading/ life is going well.

Till next time,

~AJP