Tag Archives: cartoonist

The Color Purple. Or Red Or Blue Or…


I’m building a man cave. A writing cave, really. But I’m a man, so it qualifies as a man cave, too. It’s a third garage in our new home, right now, but we only have two cars so now it’s mine to do with as I wish. I’m looking forward to finishing it ‘cause right now I’m on the couch balancing my laptop on my knees and I’m not getting much done. I know a good writer should be able to write anywhere. Well, I must not be a good writer.

I tried working at the kitchen table but that was no good either. The atmosphere just wasn’t right, and those kitchen chairs were killing my back after sitting there for too long. And I find that if I sit on the couch and get too comfortable I start dozing off. This one’s too hard and this one’s too soft. I feel like Goldilocks. So, I’m going to set myself up with something just right.

Besides a good seat for my cave, what I also need to pick is a good color. Color has a definite psychological impact and triggers certain responses in us. So, for my writing cave I need a good writing color. A hue that gets the imagination going and keeps your mind sharp.

We used some red in our dining room. Looks good. It’s the color of passion and very stimulating. That’s why, of course, it’s been the traditional color of bordellos. But no, I can’t see myself sitting and writing in a red room. Unless I start writing erotic novels. They do sell well, though. Hmmm…I remember that I was thinking of using the pen name of Hugh B. Hornee and trying it.

Oh, forget it, never mind that!

Anyway, my daughter loves purple. Leonardo Da Vinci said that purple increases the mind’s meditative abilities. It supposedly also has mystical powers and even generates healing. I’m sorry, though, sweetheart (and Leo), I need to write and not meditate. And nothing hurts at the moment, I’m happy to say.

Forget green. The original owners of this house had painted much of the interior of the place a dark version of that particular color. At night I could almost hear the sounds of jungle animals and the distant thumping of native drums. Green was out of the question.

There’s yellow. I actually started painting the room yellow. A pale yellow. It’s supposed to be a high energy color and stimulates the mental process. But I stopped. I didn’t feel my energy process being stimulated. All I felt was that the room was looking ugly as hell!

So, blue. I’m going with blue. A very nice and relaxing blue. A calming blue. The color of lakes and the color of the sky. I feel like writing just thinking about it.

So, hopefully, I’ll soon be sitting in a perfectly comfortable chair (but not so comfortable that it makes me fall asleep) surrounded by calming blue walls and typing away at my next epic. I anticipate getting a lot of writing done in my blue man cave. I’d better, or my wife is going to want to know why we wasted so much money on that damn room!

I’m In A Bad Mood!

want to write

Okay! I’m in a bad mood. And I realize that it’s because I don’t have any writing time.

This house is kicking our butts. We start in the morning and go until it’s dark. It’s not a fixer-upper. Not exactly. It’s just that the former owner had slightly different tastes than we do. And that’s putting it mildly! They seem to have had a thing for green. Green is everywhere. Don’t get me wrong. Florida is a very green place. I love green. When I go outside. There’s lots of it here. But I don’t want to see it all over my walls!

And it’s not just green. It’s an ugly green. Dark and scary. All the walls are painted awful colors. Where there isn’t green there is dark brown. And our dining room was done in a horrible shade of yellow. And not with a brush. They used a sponge, I think, and I’m sure they thought they were being very artistic. Please. If you want to be artistic and you aren’t an artist then doodle on a piece of paper. Don’t practice on your walls!

Two rooms had carpeting. I ripped them out and put in laminated wood flooring. I decided to do it myself with help from my Brother-in Law. It looks great but now I’m in bad need of a chiropractor.

I’m hanging in there, though. It’s a terrific house with a great floor plan. It has a gorgeous back yard with a salt water swimming pool. It’s in a very nice neighborhood. So I keep telling myself that all the work is going to be worth it.

But, it wasn’t until last week’s blog that I realized how this house has impacted my writing. Impacted isn’t really the correct word. It has stopped it. I sat down to write last week’s blog at midnight on Wednesday and had no clue as to what I was going to start typing. I came up with a lame idea. I was tired and it showed. You can’t force writing. Your writing loses something and people can see it right away. Hell, even the cartoon sucked. As I’m writing this I’m bowing my head in shame. Really!

My second novel has come to a screeching halt, too. Not only do I not have time for writing, I don’t have time to even think about writing. And that’s a big part of my process. The piece I’m doing is usually with me all day. I’ll be planning a scene or thinking up dialogue and I have a lot of it written in my head before I sit down. But it’s been all about the house. I sat down a couple of nights ago and…nothing. So, I stepped away. Best to wait ‘til it comes, I thought, than write a piece of garbage.

And it will come. Yes, the house will be finished and I will finally not have paint somewhere on my body. I will stand up straight without having pain rolling up and down my spine. I’ll be happily banging away at the keyboard in a room that isn’t a scary dark green. Yes, it will come. It just won’t be tomorrow, or the day after. Probably not the day after that, either, or…Damn! I’m in a bad mood again.

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.



Writing History, Right



I’m a history nut. Historical non-fiction and historical fiction is what I enjoy reading most. When I read that stuff I expect the writer to know what he or she is talking about. I don’t think it’s too much to ask, is it?

I’m also an aviation enthusiast. My wife would replace the word, “enthusiast,” with the word, “fanatic.” I prefer the former. So being a fana…um, enthusiast, it’s another area where I expect an author to do their homework. Information is too easily accessible, today, to accept lazy writing. There is no excuse for having your characters going out to the airport and boarding a Boeing 707 when your story takes place in 1949. There were no 707’s in 1949. A quick Google search would have told you that.

Recently, I read a crime thriller. Something I don’t normally read. The bad guy works for the U.S. Government. The Government, as in many recent books and movies, were all bad guys. He enters the story flying an F-14 Tomcat. Now, okay, it’s a novel so I’ll forgive the fact that the Navy gave a civilian an F-14. My problem is when he lands. The writer says that he “engaged the reverse thrusters.” Reverse thrusters? On an F14? It’s a jet fighter not an airliner. Sorry, no reverse thrust on an F14. Am I being too much of a geek to expect that to be correct? I don’t think so. But he got away with it because 99.9% of the population doesn’t know an F14 from a Piper Cub. But okay, I’m just enough of a geek that it bugged me.

Now, like most writers, I tend to write what I like to read. My novel, ‘Jenny,’ is an historical piece that takes place in 1928 Texas. Obviously things were different then. It’s up to the writer to know, or at least find out, just how different. We’ve already established the fact that it’s no longer hard to do. I actually find the research enjoyable. I have a Model T Ford that plays a prominent part in the story and I did a lot of reading and Google searches on Model T’s. I like finding out things like the fact that the car’s gas tank was under the front seat. I love passing information like that on to the reader. I even watched a video by a guy who owns one. He showed how to start it. I got a kick out of that and worked it into the story.

And the history itself has to be right, too, of course. Not just the little details. If it’s 1928 you have to be careful that you don’t have your characters talking about something that happened in 1932. Make sure you don’t have them heading out to see ‘Gone With The Wind.’ That wasn’t until 1939. You have to do the research. I’m sure this scares a lot of people away from doing period pieces. It’s time consuming, that’s for sure. But, again, I like it.

But a writer can also have fun with history. Embellishment often works when doing historical novels. Putting your own slant to an historical event. In a great novel about the old west called, ‘Little Big Man,’ Thomas Berger decided to make George Armstrong Custer slightly insane. There’s no way to know if he was, or not, so he could do that sort of thing. He shoots down a bunch of other western myths, too. Terrific book. But even there, his history was on the mark. He just made use of a little artistic license, that’s all. (Which reminds me, mine is up for renewal, soon).

However, I don’t think you should mess with the facts as much as Noah’s biographer did (see cartoon). Then you’re leaving the historical fiction genre and moving into fantasy. If I pick up a book about ancient Rome and it starts with Nero pulling up in a limousine, I can be pretty sure that the writer didn’t do his research. Or that this is gonna be a really good story!




The Rule Of Three

the sentence

Yes…everybody is a critic. But you have to have a thick skin. Especially if you are a new writer, like me. I don’t have enough experience under my belt to tell somebody that they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. “What do you mean, I can’t write? I have one short story published!” doesn’t sound all that impressive. And besides, they might be right!

But just because Saint Peter tells me that I should change that love scene in chapter six, should I run home and rewrite? If it means the difference between getting into and NOT getting into Heaven, I probably should. But I don’t really have to worry about that, just yet. So how do I know who I should listen to and who I should just give a nod of my head and a polite smile?

For this puzzling dilemma our twisted little writing group uses the rule of three. It’s simple. If only one person has a problem with your main character exposing himself to a group of nuns in the opening paragraph, don’t get all bent out of shape and delete it. But if at least three readers say it that they don’t think it should be there, you might want to take a good look at it. I’m just using this scene as an example, of course. I actually can’t imagine anyone having a problem with it. As a matter of fact, the more I think about it the more I love the idea of one of my characters exposing himself to a group of nuns. Maybe not in the first paragraph, but very soon after that. I know there’s that whole Saint Peter’s thing to worry about but I’m a, “cross that bridge when I come to it,” kind of guy.

In the end, though, it’s still up to the writer to decide whether he or she wants to change something. After all, it’s your baby and you’re going to love it no matter what. But if you want the rest of the world to come over and pinch its little cheeks you might want to think about changing that diaper.

And really, don’t we all want other people to feel as warm and fuzzy about what we’ve written as we do? I know I do. I want them to enjoy it. And yes, I want them to buy it, too. Now the question is, will they buy a novel where the main character exposes himself to a group of nuns? In the first paragraph? I’ve just got to work this scene into a story.

Twisted Together

Here we are on day three of the Twisted Writers. I do hope that you enjoyed our first two posts, if you are a returned visitor. If not, and this is your first time for stopping by, then Welcome, glad you could make it, you are in for a treat and should stay a while.

Now while Jesi told you a twisted tale and CJ shared with you a bit about our inner twisted side, I want to explore the other side of just how twisted we really are.

Writing is said to be a solitary activity/career/hobby.

In a lot of ways, this is the truth.

However, I have learned over the last decade that my writing thrives when I have other heads to bounce ideas and plot lines back and forth with. No, not actual heads – wait, yes actual heads, but these said heads are still connected to their respectable bodies.

In my hunt for the right head to talk writing with I stumbled across a treasure chest. Not one filled with gold, no, one of those you used to see at the doctor/dentist office when you were a little kid. (Now they give you stickers that get you in trouble when you forget to take it off of your shirt when mom does the laundry.) A chest that was not quite full but the inside held a jumble of strange trinkets, things you weren’t quite sure what to do with.

This is what it was like for me when I found my writing group –a mix of people that I was not quite sure what to do with. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking, just how are any of these people going to help me with my writing and how could I possibly help them with theirs? No one wrote anything remotely similar to what I was trying to do, nor did I have much of a clue in their genres either.

We had a science fiction/paranormal romance writer, a historical writer/cartoonist, a spy thriller writer, a poet, and a steamy romance writer. I mostly write in the Young Adult and New Adult fiction genre and in this room, I was the only one at the time.

But I stayed. And they stayed.

Others came and went, but the six of us kept coming to each meeting. We kept reading each others writing, whether it was a short story, a poem, or a chapter in a novel in progress, and we have learned what we needed in order to help each other out of the muck that is our own self doubt.

Each one of us brings a different view, personality, and genre to the table.

We are as different as night and day, the same as the beginning of each sunrise and sunset, and twisted together to bring you everything we’ve got.

Till next time,