Monday, December 30, 2013

Pearls of Wisdom

By Keith N Fisher

Do you sit in classrooms, chapels, and lecture halls and spout sarcastic humor? It’s usually something smart allecky in regard to what is being taught? I do. Sometimes I can’t control myself.

I’m not trying to disrupt. Really I’m not. I take everything seriously, but sometimes being serious is too . . . well . . . serious. Levity is like sugar and we all know what a spoonful of sugar does.

Sometimes when my pearls of wisdom come out funny, I get a laugh from people next to me, sometimes not. Other times, it’s a dirty look. I wonder if people think I do it for the attention.

Every week here on the blog, I try to write something wise for you to read. Most times, my words hit the mark. They’re pearls of wisdom. Other times, not s
o much. Today, I have no wise cracks. I was late, so I’ll post later in the week.

I hope you’re enjoying the holidays. Hope your writing is going well. Good luck with it—see you next week.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

As the New Year approaches . . .

by C. Michelle Jefferies

My newsfeeds, email, newsletters and blog rolls are full of them.

Resolutions and goals, and all sorts of things associated with the new year rolling around.

Do they make you feel guilty? They do me.

I have been in search of direction and balance for years. It is a thing that eludes me and causes all sorts of guilt and stress in my life. Last year my word of the year was balance. And while I achieved some, I still felt guilty almost every time I thought of the word and the things I was associating with it.

It's been a hectic year. From tons of medical problems and financial stressors to discovering that someone I thought was a serious friend was a fake, my year was a long slow torturous trip through the netherworld. Every moment of this year seemed to throw me more and more out of synch with my idea of who I am and especially my vision who I wanted to be. Often times I was grateful I made it through the day and my only thought as I collapsed into my bed at night was that I hoped to survive the next day as well. My search for balance was making my life harder than it needed to be. What was I supposed to do? Not making goals seemed to be a great alternative.

But the thought of meandering through life without a goal in sight seemed to evoke images of wandering through a overgrown jungle without a map or a machete.

I happened upon a blog post a few weeks ago which basically said that instead of searching for balance, which actually deprives us of life's ups and downs, we should instead search for alignment.
I am in the process of reading several blog posts about self care and things like visualizing success instead of just setting a goal and then worrying about it. I hope to delve into these thoughts as we progress through the year.

So what does it mean to be in alignment instead of seeking balance?

Show me one road on this planet that doesn't turn and curve on its way to its destination. Sure we're still going in the direction of where we want to, or need to go, but what good is the ride if you don't enjoy the scenery? What is the fun of walking a straight line when your focus is on making sure that everything on both sides of you at that exact moment is equal. Show me one river that doesn't meander. Show me one dance, painting, piece of music or story that doesn't have a natural ebb and flow.

We as humans weren't made for balance, we were made to twist and turn, to be high and low, to love and hate all within moments of the other. It's what we are. It's what defines us as being alive. It's enjoying the turns and variances on that road to wherever we're going.

For me this next year, I will be bucking the thought of balance, instead I will be making sure I am in alignment with my end of the year expectations and will remind myself to enjoy the detours that life naturally takes.

The path to wisdom is not always straight

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Three Hundred Eighty-Four and Counting

By Keith N Fisher

Yes, I’m late, but I’ve been wondering if anybody really reads my posts anyway. I was trying to think of something to write and I opened my writing projects computer file. In the place where I keep my blog posts and realized it’s been a long time.

I began to post here in 2006, during the time we all started blogging to help our careers. By we, I mean all the writers I know. Blog posting and social media were deemed vital to our promotion efforts. In other words, we needed to do it if we wanted to be somebody.

For more than seven years, I’ve been posting once a week minus a few times I missed and plus a couple times I posted two blogs. I did the math and here’s the equation.

I wrote 44 posts in 2013 + 28 posts in 2006 + (52 weeks a year x 6 years) =

44 + 28 + (52 x 6) =

72 + 312 = 384 posts.

It’s been fun, sometimes wild, always educational. I usually write in retrospect, talking about something I learned during the week, using metaphors. I’ve learned that life reflects our occupation. The subject of writing correctly, lends itself to many object lessons.

I’ll keep posting here, I’ve been doing it too long to stop now. Hopefully, I can make a small contribution of writing help, or at least help someone realize they aren’t alone in this crazy avocation called writing.

Until next week then,



Saturday, December 14, 2013

Places

By Keith N Fisher

Over the years, I’ve written about some of the places I’ve written while sitting behind the wheel of my vehicle. I talked about waiting for a sunrise on the roof of a parking garage. I’ve talked about writing in the parking lot, waiting for a coffee shop to open. What can I say? I get inspiration while propping my laptop between my chest and the steering wheel.

I’ve noticed my surroundings, sometimes, get written into the story, too. Once, I wrote a snowstorm into a scene, while watching it through windshield wipers. I can describe buildings and people while watching them in the comfort of my vehicle and it helps to have a first hand perspective.

I sat in a coffee shop once, watching two young lovers meet, greet, and interact. I opened a new document and wrote it as I saw it. I’ve used pieces of that scene in many of my books since. I’ve re-watched videos and written scenes from the inspiration. No, I’m not stealing scenes. I’m expanding other people’s work and making it better.

For a while now, since I work at night, I’ve had the pleasure of giving my daughter a ride home from school. I get up early, drive to the school, and write while waiting for the bell to ring. People come and go, cars are on display, humanity parades in front of me. Sometimes I’m too caught up in my story to notice, but other times I watch my new character walk past and get into a car.

I get several pages written while waiting, but I’ve got a complaint. There are many visitors parking spaces, why do they let students park their cars in them? Often, lately, I have to park on the outskirts of the lot, write for a while then drive over to pick up my daughter as she comes out of the building.

When I think of places to write and the advantages of observation with each, I think of reporters of the past. Have you ever listened to the narration of the Hindenburg disaster? That man was eyewitness to the horror, and he had the presence of mind to talk about it. Can you imagine a reporter with a laptop, covering Custer’s last stand? Can you see the benefit of writing in place?

If you are writing a mystery set in an old Victorian house, perhaps you could take your laptop and write it there. I write a lot of restaurant scenes because I write in restaurants and coffee shops.

I know, there are times when you can’t write in place. I passed an old house in a farmer’s field while traveling to Canada once. I had to stop and check it out because it was the house my characters were remodeling in my book. I couldn’t delay the family trip while I wrote, so I took several pictures. Later I used them to describe the house.

Take notes, live with your eyes open. Most importantly, write with your eyes open. Listen to your senses, and write it down.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

 

Saturday, December 07, 2013

And, Here We Go Again

By Keith N Fisher

I caught a glimpse of one of those morning news shows the other day. They were going to commercial, and the host said, coming up, Our interview with the best selling author . . . The statement caught my attention, but I missed who the author was. I waited, wondering who it could be. Perhaps it was one of my local, writer friends. Maybe a famous, national market writer offering insights to me, and other writers.

The author turned out to be Ann Romney, wife of the formal presidential candidate. "Here we go again," I thought. Thousands of writers sweat blood every day, hoping for a contract, and another famous person gets published.

Yes, I know, I’ve bored you with this subject before. It’s sour grapes and I need to let it go, but as before, I wonder, would she be published if she wasn’t married to a politician? Her book was marketable or the publisher wouldn’t print it, but is it selling because it’s good, or because she’s famous?

I think I’ve missed the boat. You see, I thought the secret was to write the best book I can. Also, I know that branding myself and paying it forward is vital, but it’s actually easier than I thought. All I need is fame. I need to do something spectacular then, submit my writing.

Good luck with your hard work—See you next week.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Unlimited

*sigh...*

There's something about the scene above that always makes my interest pique, my heartbeat speed up ever so slightly, and expands something inside my body and soul. It's a pleasantly uncomfortable feeling.

There's something about a blank notebook - those pristine pages, waiting - just waiting - for me to fill them with adventure, drama, possibly the most epic adventure ever read! I can't leave them there on the shelf, begging to be filled with romance, journeys to unknown lands, and heroes that don't know they are yet.

So I buy one. Or two. Ten or thirteen if the price is good. I take them home, and I choose one whose cover-color or design speaks to me. I open it, breathing in that new paper smell (and wonder how it can smell so wonderful when the paper-mill in my home-town stinks so badly!)  My eyes roam over that white panorama of undiscovered possibilities like Catherine and Heathcliff over the moors, taking in every corner, every dimple, every line.
 
But then, just before my pen touches that pristine page...

A paralyzing fear stops me cold.

It is a strange terror, mixed with longing. The moment that ink stains that paper, I am beyond the point of no return. I will have spoiled that page. I will have committed it to a fate that may not live up to all those imagined possibilities.

I may fail.

Sometimes I simply can't overcome it, and I put the pen down - a last minute governor's reprieve for the notebook.

Sometimes, I am brave. I mark that paper. I ruin it. I limit its future.

Sometimes I fail.

But sometimes, every glorious once in a while, that moment of ruination results in something fantastic! Sometimes, the possibilities get wider, the adventure gets more exciting, the romance more breathtaking, and a hero emerges even I hadn't counted on.

That's why I can't pass a stationery aisle without at least a passing glance.

Because at least for that moment, the possibilities there are endless!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

It's your choice . . .

by C. Michelle Jefferies

About halfway through November it became obvious that we were going to be having Thanksgiving dinner at our house. It seemed like a no brainer at the time. A two hour drive for most of the participants rather than a four hour or six hour drive to the other potential dinner place. About half way through the massive 'deep clean the house and prepare dinner for lots of people' I started thinking "What did I get myself into?"

There was food to assign, buy, plan, and prepare. Dishes, table cloths, and napkins to be washed. Decorations to make and projects for the little ones to plan.

To be honest, I was feeling a little overwhelmed.

As I finished the centerpiece project with my little guys I stood back, admired the leaf adorned mason jars and imagined how they'd look on my table with the china and crystal goblets.  The image of the table graced in elegant dishes and food made me smile. I made a decision right there and then. To have a positive outlook about the situation I was in. The one I'd willingly put myself in.

The dinner was perfect, the food was wonderful, the table looked stunning. Everyone was happy and content. The effort and attitude I put into the event paid off. Even when I looked at the pile of dirty dishes in the sink the memories of the amazing dinner overrode the thoughts of the clean up.

The question is, do we apply the same principals in our writing?

Do we look at our time writing as drudgery? Instead of it being time to be creative and let our muse flow with amazing ideas?

Do we dread the editing process? Instead of looking at it as the opportunity to make the story better?

Do we avoid things like writing synopsis, query's and submitting for fear of rejection?     

Whether we treat our writing as a job or a hobby, do we approach it with a feeling of happiness or dread?

A wise friend reminds me from time to time that "we get what we give." That if we want a good experience that a lot of it depends on our frame of mind and intent going into it. For example, if we sit at the computer to write dreading writers block, or revision we're going to most likely have a negative experience. Or, if we sit at the computer or send off a submission with a positive attitude we will have a much better experience.

What is your choice?

~The path to wisdom is not always straight.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Okay, I’ll give thanks

By Keith N Fisher

I’m really not as ungrateful as the title implies, but where did the year go? Even though I despise it, the cold weather is upon us, Christmas is around the corner. What happened to summer?

I used to love the changing seasons, but this year, I cursed the cold. I guess I’m getting older, but darn, do I have to? Yes, I’m grateful this year, but not for the usual things. This year my list is more basic. I’m thankful I wasn’t killed in the car accident that was my fault. I’m really glad my daughter wasn’t hurt in the one that wasn’t my fault.

I’m grateful we still have a home, even though it’s falling apart, along with me and my wife. I might sound discontented, but there really are myriad blessings for which I’m grateful. Sunrises and being vertical are high on the list. I’m glad I can still tie my shoes, and I’m extremely grateful for good days.

For so many things I give thanks, but I’d rather be enjoying July fourth. Still, I hope your holiday was filled with the recognition of bountiful blessings with family and friends who are perhaps, your greatest blessings.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Joy of Writing

By Keith N Fisher

I’m currently working on two novels and my cookbook. This is part of one of them:

Claire lit a scented candle and slipped into the tub. The water felt wonderful, like being enveloped in a warm protective shield. She closed her eyes and tried to clear her mind. The plot in her story had taken a different turn and she needed to decide whether to pursue the new path, or take it out.

She glanced out the window of her bath tub sanctuary. A herd of deer had come down the hill, heading for the rose beds below. Gary, in his kindness, hadn’t pruned that fall, so the deer would have something to eat. The good deed had brought disapproval from the neighbors since deer were just pests to them.

Claire was glad the deer had come through the hunting season in one piece. For a time, it seemed as though the whole countryside were hunters. Even Gary had gone out with a neighbor and Claire tried to protect the animals, by chasing them away, but now, she was glad they’d stayed.

Closing her eyes again, she thought of Penelope and her tirade. Claire had never figured the grandmother of Gary’s children would be so unyielding. Why did the woman have to be so controlling?

Claire slid further into the water and tried to concentrate. With a locked bathroom door, she could shut out the world in her sanctum. Suddenly, an idea came into her mind. Claire knew how to fix the plot and she had to write it down. Climbing out of the tub, she dried off and got dressed.

Her laptop sat on the nightstand with her manuscript still open. There wasn’t time to find a chair, so Claire sat on the floor and began to type. Discovery writing had always been exciting for her. It was one of the reasons she’d started, and life was measured between spurts of inspiration.

When the writing went well, Claire usually lost track of time. All cares disappeared and even family, were forgotten while in the zone. She succumbed to the muse, and jumped when somebody rapped on the bedroom door.


My character is a best selling author. I decided to include this scene as contrast to what comes next when all Hades breaks loose. What do you think of my description? How often are you in the zone? Do you measure your life between spurts of inspiration?

Writing for me has sometimes been pure joy. Other times it’s the hardest work I’ve ever done. I can’t wait to see how Claire’s story turns out.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Dangers Inherent


One of the biggest frustration in writing is having the perfect character - I mean the PERFECT character with all the best character flaws, the best or worst motivations that fit the plot to a T, and those perfect imperfections that will win you the Pulitzer....

..and not being able to use them because you know that person would recognize themselves in your work. Which mightn't be so bad if it was someone you didn't like. That's just the chance you take when you cross a writer!

Until they sue you. Or worse yet, disown you.

In one work I have written, which will probably never be published for fear of disownment, the disclaimer in the front reads:

"Names have been changed to protect the author - and because my mother said I had to!"

So what do you do? I have no answer, because I still haven't decided.  But I think it is probably safest for all concerned if you learn to slice.

In First Knight, Sean Connery says "I can't love people in slices."  I don't agree. I have to love people in slices, because I can ignore the slices I don't like and love at least some one or two things about every person. (almost. I'm not perfect yet.)

The same could be said for our characters. If there's something about your inspiration that would be perfect, use that slice of them. Don't use whole cloth, use a strip of this one and a slice of that one, and quilt together that character.

I think it's better for the writer that way, too. It's not terribly healthy, for the writer or their book, to be too in love with your characters that nothing can change, or improve. It's too hard to kill your darlings. So give them something even you don't like, then it won't be so hard when you have to chop them up, rearrange bits, and maybe even get rid of a slice or two.

That sounds very ax murder-ish, but you know what I mean, right?




Sunday, November 17, 2013

Strengthen your core

by C. Michelle Jefferies

I used to be really strong. I had a lot of power physically backing me up. Part of it was my general mass. When I weighed almost 300 pounds I had sheer weight and mass to aid my strength. Part of it was I remained, even at that weight, physically active.

Since I've lost weight, I'm finding that some things are just beyond my physical ability. Things that used to be easy. It's frustrating. Losing muscle mass does that to you.

In martial arts every thing you do, every move you make is related to your core. Those center muscles of the gut and back. Without core strength you are weak and ineffective, regardless of training.

Same goes for writing.

Even if you are the most amazing story teller in the world, your written story is ineffective unless your core strengths are strong. A great story gets lost in grammatical errors. Typos and lack of structure pull the reader out of the flow.

Since so many of us are participating in NANO this month, I thought it was a great time to remind us writers that were only as good of writers as we are strong in our core writing strengths. Next month is the perfect time to go back and study that elusive rule or practice writing in order to overcome our short comings. Its also the perfect time to remind you that, that amazing 50,000 word novel you wrote this month needs a lot of revising and editing before you either publish it or submit it.

In the mean time, keep writing, and keep working toward being the best writer you can possibly be.
A strong core ability leads to a great outcome.

The path to wisdom is not always straight.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Technolo-Trash

By Keith N Fisher

Oh, technology, used by humans . . .

He was lucky his phone didn’t end up in the toilet, but I’m ahead of myself.

When I arrived for work the other day, I was told a customer left their phone, and it was in the lost and found basket. I made a mental note and went to work. After a while, I heard a ring tone and wondered where the source was.

That’s when I remembered the lost phone and pulled it out, hoping to answer the call and tell the person where the phone was. It was a smart phone, with a portable charger attached, and I tried to figure out how to answer. It was locked.

Now, I can understand the need to lock your phone, and the need to call the number of your lost phone, but the situation was hopeless. I consider myself techno-savy. Given enough time, I can usually figure out most anything. I really wanted to help, but I just don’t have time in my busy workday, to chase down the owner of a lost phone. I couldn’t answer the call, so I set it aside.

Later, still, I noticed a car in the parking lot, but the occupants didn’t come into the store. I kept working and the car remained. During the middle of a task, I heard the short whoop of a police car siren. You know the short blast a cop uses to let you know he’s trying to pull you over. I wondered what the police were doing?

Then, just like the cops do, the siren went off in three bursts. I figured the cops were in the parking lot, playing with their siren. By the time I figured out the noise was coming from the phone, it had grown loud and annoying. I pulled the plug on the charger. Then I tried again, to unlock the phone. I was looking into ways of removing the battery, when a guy walked into the store.

He said something that I didn’t understand, but something told me he was the owner of the phone. "Is this your phone?" I asked. He nodded, and I shoved the whole thing, charger and all, with two hands, at him. He left, and I noticed the car left with him.

In my rant, during the next few minutes, I lamented how rude he was. If he was sitting outside, why couldn’t he just walk in and ask if he’d left his phone? In my workplace, I cannot control the music that plays. It’s never something I would choose and it’s always too loud. When that siren went off, I had visions of having to deal all night, with that too.

He’s lucky I didn’t shove his smart phone in the toilet to make it stop. Still, the whole experience made me reflect on technology, and how it has wormed it’s way into our society. I’m typing this on a computer, while sitting in my car, waiting to take my daughter home from school. She’ll likely text me in a few minutes to see if I’m here.

I’m going to post this on the blog and set it to appear on Saturday morning, all by itself. I’m getting ready to submit two manuscripts via email. This afternoon, I’m going to do a video interview for a job I applied for over the Internet. Yes, technology is prevalent in my life, but as a writer, it’s a wonderful tool.

When did walking into a store to ask about your lost article, become so adverse? As a kid, when I lost something, I’d retrace my steps, asking everyone if they had seen the missing item. It’s the way it was. Then, again, we didn’t have color television either. People actually interacted with each other. Manuscripts were written by hand or typed onto paper.

I wonder. Are we better off with all our technology?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

And, the Contest Winner

By Keith N Fisher

I know you were making yourself sick with anticipation. Who won the drawing? As you might remember, I posted a series of quotes from books and movies. You were supposed to guess where it was from, but I said I would enter any person who commented.

Some of you used Google, but others surprised me. Finally, because this blog doesn’t allow comments from people without a profile, I decided to include the comments on Facebook. To all who guessed and commented, Thanks. Some of you commented on more than one post, so I entered you twice.

Here is the list I put through the randomizer:

Donna K Weaver

Cheri Chesley

Valerie Ipson

Kurt Kammeyer

Heather Justesen

Nicole Marie White

Nissa Annakindt

John Foster

Sharyl Bean Wren

Sharyl Bean Wren

Anne Fisher

Sharyl Bean Wren

Debbie Duncan Hair

Nicole Giles

Cheri Chesley

I had fun with this contest. I hope you did too. And the winner is . . . Did I ever tell you the one about the game show host that . . . Okay, the winner is.

I used to get a kick out of a local celebrity, Doug Miller, each time he dragged out the announcement of the winners of the World Championship Dutch Oven Cook off, but that was another time. I still miss him.

Okay, the winner of the gift card is Debbie Duncan Hair. Send me a private e-mail with your address, Debbie.

So, until next time, who said, Ladies and Gentlemen, take my advice, pull down your pants and slide on the ice. Who said it, and in which book, movie, or TV show?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Scary In Two Sentences or Less!

If you haven't found Pinterest yet, good for you. Don't go looking! It is the single most addictive website known to mankind! That being said, I spend a fair amount of time there. That is, in fact, where I found this:


You know, it's very entertaining, but harder to do than you might think.  So here's a challenge for all:

Write a scary story in two sentences or less! 

They can be run-ons, but they have to be proper sentences. Let's see what you can do!

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Out of Sync

By Keith N Fisher

It’s been a few weeks since I posted anything here. Up until now, I’ve managed to write something every week and I feel terrible about missing. I know I’ve flaked out on you and like Weston in her post, I don’t want to offer excuses, but car wrecks, court dates, and other issues, have put me out of sync.

I’ve been writing national market stuff lately, getting rejections from the LDS market, and trying to find a day to meet with my critique group. My cookbook is finished, waiting for editors, but I just couldn’t think of anything to write here. Also, I need to finish the drawing and announce the winner.

Last week, I’d planned to go hunting with my brothers and extended family. I was going to get off work on Thursday morning, hitch up the trailer, and head up the canyon. According to plan, I’d get a lot of writing done in the wee hours, and come home on Sunday evening.

When the specified day approached, however, I didn’t think I would be able to make it. I didn’t have a way of getting my trailer up the canyon, since, as you might know, my truck got totaled a couple of weeks ago. Finally, my brother offered to help with his truck, but he wanted use my facilities. So much, for my writing into the wee hours, but I accepted.

When I tried to pack, I found busted pipes, dead batteries, and other problems with the trailer. A plumbing glitch in the house put water all over the floor. Then, I had to interrupt getting ready to take my wife to the doctor. I left my cell phone in the waiting room and had to race back to get it. Everything seemed to conspire against me. I almost gave up a second time, but my brother was willing to postpone. I rigged up the trailer, charged the batteries, and worked all night.

Morning dawned, and my brother had the flu. I almost gave up a third time. Then, my other brother came and got the trailer. I could’ve ridden with him, but I was gun shy. Karma or somebody didn’t want me to go. I waited for my wife to take me, feeling uncertain.

Not that long ago, I would never have canceled my annual hunting trip. The family camping, while communing with nature was always a huge deal for me. I planned my year around birthdays, Christmas, and the hunts. I used to chuckle when family members showed up each year with stories about throwing everything together at the last minute. When did I become like them?

I finally gave into the inevitable. It was time to face whatever danger lay in wait for me. I went to camp and found my trailer. My uncle showed up later with a couple of his kids, and I made a great Dutch oven dinner. It was good to hang with my older brother and his wife, but hunting wasn’t the same as in years past. We’re older, less active, and I missed my dad.

The madness continued. My trailer batteries went dead and since they power the furnace, I froze. If I’d had my truck to recharge the batteries, things would’ve been different, but it’s hard to plot a story when you’re shivering. In an effort to get warm during the day, I sat in the sun and got sunburned lips. All in all, not the best trip.

I feel like my life is out of sync lately, and I need to reset. The trouble is, the things I used to do are different. There are too many hunters and not enough deer. Fishing and working in the garden aren’t the same since my father died. You might say I’m growing up, but at fifty-five, it’s too late in life for that.

By now, you’re probably wondering if I’m going to offer cheese & crackers with my whine, but I do have a point to make with my object lesson.

How is your writing? Are you achieving your goals? While thinking about sync, a question came to mind. Do you write in sequence or do you write unattached scenes to drop into the story later? Writing out of sync with the story line can sometimes cure writer’s block. It also gives you a clear idea of where your story is headed.

Normally, I have a vague outline in mind, then I write in sequence. In my book, The Hillside, however, I wrote the entire story out of sequence. With so many character’s and point of views, it was necessary to write each story separate, and compile everything, according to a timeline, later.

Of the two methods, I can’t recommend either as the best way. As I said, you might try writing out of sync to alleviate blocks

I hope your life stays in sync, but if not, may you find peace in your adjustment. Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Apologies and Belly Buttons

I owe everyone an apology - I've been very neglectful of my Wednesday posts here on the Blogck. I promise to do better in the future! I'd list my reasons, but they're just excuses (just like my reasons for not writing as much as I should be!) - and we all know that excuses are like belly buttons:



Everybody has one, and they're good for absolutely nothing.

See you all next week... :)




Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pen Names

By Keith N Fisher

Yes, It was Shakespeare and the play was Romeo and Juliet. I originally planned to do the drawing contest for a month and that is over. I need to gather the names of everyone who commented and put them in the randomizer. Thank you all, who answered the questions. I even received comments on Facebook, so to be fair, I’m going to include those names as well. I’ll let you know who wins.

To those who care, and follow my private life, yes, I was in another traffic accident last week. This time it wasn’t my fault. I was rear ended, pushing my truck into the car in front of me. That car was then, pushed into the car in front of it. I still have back pain and a knot on the back of my neck. I’ll be fine, but isn’t it interesting how quickly things can change?

The insurance company totaled my truck even though it still works and I’m not getting enough money to replace it. I don’t know how I’ll get my trailer into the mountains for the deer hunt now.

Anyway, so it goes. I was thinking about pen names this week. I decided it would be better for me to separate my national market stuff from my LDS fiction. What do you think a good pen name would be? Should it be based on my real name? Tell me your thoughts in the comment trail and maybe I’ll use your suggestion.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

PS. I’m sorry I’m a day late posting this. See above, for an explanation.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Oh Wow

By Keith N Fisher

I've been burning the candle at both ends lately, (so to speak). I came home from work this mornng and crashed. not your usual plane crash, but an all inclusive massive fireball. Antway I just woke up and I wanted to tell you, before I go back to sleep, I need to get back you.

I'll post a blog, but let me sleep first. Goodnight.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

They never go Away

By Keith N Fisher

Okay, I know, the last quote wasn’t exactly on everybody’s list of favorite cultural clichés, but I wanted to include it, because it reminds me of the old days. It was from a phone conversation Bob Woodward had during his investigation of the Watergate burglaries. He hoped to prove President Nixon was involved in the cover-up.

The book is called All the President’s Men. Written by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. While working for the Washington Post, those two invented what we call investigative journalism. Since I included the quote, I’ve been contemplating their role in our society.

Richard Nixon said it best when he said, "People have got to know whether or not their presidents a crook."

That’s true, but there are some things we might be better off not knowing. I don’t know. Maybe we’ve taken the investigative journalism thing too far. But that’s a subject for a different blog. We try to stay out of politics here.

So, let’s move on, to another quote. You should remember Parting is such sweet sorrow.

I’ve heard writers talk about characters as if they say goodbye to them at the end of a book. Some authors wait until the book is published. If the story won’t carry through a sequel, they say goodbye to their characters and move on.

I can’t seem to do that. I don’t necessarily love them, and I’ve killed some, but my characters live in my mind like real people do. They are my friends and I know more about them then my real life friends.

I guess there are other writers who feel that way, or we wouldn’t have the Stephanie Plum series written by Janet Evanovich. There’s Alex Cross written by James Patterson. Jimmy Fincher, Samantha Shade, and Shandra Covington. Written by James Dashner, Kerry Blair, and Jeffery Savage.

Now, J K Rowling is writing another Harry Potter book. My friend, Heather Justesen has written several books about the family and friends she created for one of her books. It’s not a series, just different stories about those characters. I wrote several different characters with their own stories into one book, called The Hillside. It occurred to me that I could write several books based on those stories. I would keep the characters alive and I wouldn’t have to say goodbye.

Alas, parting is such sweet sorrow, but not in this case. I think it’s interesting that given any situation, I can tell you how each one of my characters would react. Each reaction would be different and individual. I hope that means I’m becoming a better writer.

Have fun making friends and enemies with your characters. I hope you don’t have to kill any of them.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Hero Worship

By Keith N Fisher

Yes, the quote from last week was from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. The idea of the ultimate self-sacrifice has always touched our hearts in literature and reality. The concept of the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few goes back several generations. It is the premise of the sacrifice made by Aslan the lion in The Chronicles of Narnia. Of course, all the examples point to the real sacrifice made by Jesus.

I’ll provide this week’s quote below, but first, what would you do if you met a famous person in an elevator? What if they moved into your neighborhood? What if that person is a personal hero of yours?

I have very few heroes in my life. They are people who reached a high station in my estimation, through their actions. I often wonder how I would react to meeting those people. I’ve sent letters to some of my heroes, and sometimes regretted saying some of the things I wrote. It’s funny what being in their presence can do to us regular people.

Recently, Comic Con was held in Salt Lake City, and although I couldn’t go, I heard many reports. There was high praise for the experience. In some of those reports, however, I heard about the fees several of the, would be heroes charged for the privilege of having your picture taken with them.

One of my good friends from Dutch oven competition days wrote about that and was criticized for his opinion. He, himself, makes his living in the public eye. He mentioned the fallacy of charging large amounts of money. I believe he said, we, the fans, purchased their work. We watched and made them what they are. Now, rather than pay back, the famous people take more.

Let me say, I agree with my friend. Although he is not a personal hero of mine, I wouldn’t mind meeting William Shatner and even posing for a picture with him. Paying seventy-five dollars for the privilege, however, is bogus. Especially when I would’ve had to purchase tickets for the event.

With that being said, let me point out something. Famous people, and even our heroes, are just people. They deal with some of the same issues we deal with. Many of them have personal lives we shouldn’t emulate. Why do we get flustered? I once had the privilege of shaking the hand of an elected official. I didn’t vote for him. In fact, I disagreed with most of his policies. When I met him, I wanted to point out his errors, but I didn’t.

If I were to meet one of my heroes, Why should I feel any different? Not about my personal opinions, but why shouldn’t I meet them like the human being they are?

As writers, many of us have opportunities to meet and associate with famous people. We hold many of them in high esteem. How we react to meeting them determines how they feel about us. Do you want them to say, "Oh no, here comes that crazy lady who can’t keep herself under control"? Or "Quick let me duck under your table, her comes that guy with his manuscript again."

Just a little food for thought before you attend that major event, and meet some of those famous people. Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

. . . . . . . .

Oh yeah, the quote for this week is, Hi, I'm _______ of the Washington Post . . . and . . . what's that? You've never heard of me? I can't help that—you don't believe I'm with the Post? What do you want me to do, Madam, shout extra—extra?

This quote might be a little harder. It’s from a memoir written by two people during a very trying time in our nation’s history. Now, that ought to help. Good luck and don’t forget to comment, (whether you know the answer or not). I can’t put you in the drawing if you don’t comment.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Want to be a better writer?

by C Michelle Jefferies

Simple.

Volunteer your time.

Not only does volunteering time in the community improve the way you feel about yourself. And helps others. It sets a pattern of giving that benefits everyone.

Even better?

Volunteering to read, critique other authors work, brainstorming and helping other authors feeds your muse. It sparks your own creativity and teaches you a ton about the writing world.

Try it. I promise you'll thank yourself later.

~ The path to wisdom is not always straight

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Escaping

By Keith N Fisher

First, the contest and the quote: I was hoping for more comments last week, but yes, Kurt Kammeyer it was, Chevy Chase in the movie, Funny Farm. I made reference to it in my post a while back. The film was adapted from a 1985 comedic novel of the same name by Jay Cronley.

It’s about a sportswriter who buys a house in the country to write the book he’s been given an advance for. As you might imagine with all Chevy Chase movies, It’s hilarious.

Kurt, and Heather Justesen will be entered into the drawing.

And this is our quote for today:

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.
This quote from a book was also used in a Star Trek movie. That ought to be enough of a hint that anyone can figure it out.


---------------------
Have you ever been discouraged? I’m not talking about normal setbacks. Some people suffer through calamity. How does a person keep going through all that? I used to write.

I actually began in the nineteen-seventies, using the medium to explore my imagination. In the nineties, I used it as a stress reliever, a way to escape discouragement. I didn’t get serious about it until my first rejection, which happened to coincide with getting fired from my job of fifteen years.

To be honest, when I considered the future and what I should do for a living, I felt I should finish the rewrites. Perhaps that was a way of escaping my obligations, but it was something I needed to do. That was, eight books ago. I now have nineteen project files, including one for many other new ideas.

Writing was for me, more recreational than occupational. Now, I can’t put it down, but I want that publishing credit to my name. I used writing before, to escape discouragement, now it’s a major part of my life. What should I do with discouragement about writing? What do you do?

Many writers have wondered why they ever got involved in this crazy occupation. It’s normal. Between family obligations and starvation prevention, it seems like there’s always something getting in the way. Watching people launch ebook careers, and reading about, yet another, publisher calling it quits, doesn’t help. How do you keep going?

Reading this blog, and others like it, can help. Seeking the company of other writers is also a good way. Flooding the market with ebooks of your own is another way. Escaping to a remote location will help give you clarity. It does for me. Taking my laptop into the mountains to write helps me remember why I started writing.

How did you decide to write? Good Luck with your writing—see you next week.

 

 

Saturday, September 07, 2013

It's All in the Words

By Keith N Fisher

How many of you remember or have heard the words, Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. This dialogue spoken by a character in a movie seems to be part of our culture. What if I quoted, Damn the torpedoes, Full speed ahead? Would you know where it’s from? The quote is attributed to Rear Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, a union officer in the civil war, and the eponym of a federation starship in Star Trek.

Since Farragut’s story wasn’t written until years later, many doubt he actually said those words. Also, if he could’ve even been heard over the roar of the cannons. Still, it’s a good quote, and the navy used it for recruitment purposes for years.

From, frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn, to I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, sentences and colloquialisms from the media have wriggled into our culture.

I was thinking about clichés and how they influence our society. Also, I wondered how many of them became so familiar. When I talk about, the whole nine yards, most of you would admit to using the expression, but how many know where it came from? Using Google to answer the question isn’t fair.

Some of you might know that dump trucks hold nine yards, and if I were to use the expression it would be in reference to receiving the whole load, or being dumped on, take your pick. Our expressions are interesting. So are the phrases we remember from literature and movies.

Wouldn’t you like to be the guy who gave Sergeant Shulz the words, I know nothing, nothing. Or the writer of Land Before Time who gave Petrie the phrase, Yup, yup, yup? Then there’s the old, One of these days, Alice . . . pow! right in the kisser.

I’m sure you can think of dozens of quotes like these, but I think it would be fun to have a contest. Here’s how it works. I’ll post a quote. You comment and tell us where the quote came from. Everyone who comments will be entered into the drawing for a Walmart gift card. I’ll post a new quote each week for a month. Comment each time for more chances to win. Good luck and let’s have some fun.

This week’s quote is from a movie: As a novelist, I turned out to be a pretty good sportswriter.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

One Thing That Will Kill Your Writing Career

By C. Michelle Jefferies

Jealousy.

Yep. I could just leave my post at that. However, let me explain.

One of the first things were taught in Martial Arts both when sparing and practicing is to keep your hands loose.

Why? What is one of the first things we do or describe a character do when we or they experience negative emotion? Clench our/their hands.

What does it do to us? It focuses the negative emotion into something physical. It makes it manifest. In a sparing situation it wears you out. You're wasting energy you could be using to defend yourself.

Jealousy can do the same thing to writers mentally in regards of writing and their writing career. It takes a lot of negative mental energy to be jealous. It can dominate thoughts and make people unbearably miserable. Let alone not a pleasant person to be around.

Instead of writing, a jealous person stalks other peoples websites, Facebook profiles, and Amazon pages and staring at numbers, statuses, and pictures that will do nothing but make them more miserable. They compare themselves to other people that either have had that lucky break or have spent the thousands of hours and written the millions of words to earn their success. In that negative world they are living in, they don't see that they could be the same if they weren't so busy being green. They let those little doubts that could normally be kicked to the curb become insurmountable walls and they have defeated themselves.

I'll be the first to admit that when a friend or acquaintance gets a six figure deal or signs with an amazing agent or publisher or has a massively successful signing or launch I feel a little green. Hey, I'm human. It's what I let it do to me after those initial moments that matters the most.

I let it go. Often times I sit my butt in my chair and open a document and stele my resolve to write something better. Something amazing. Or make new and more ambitious goals, or submit to that agent I was a little timid about approaching.

We have a choice.

Let something like jealousy kill our potential. Or let it motivate us to make us better.

What is yours?

The path to wisdom is not always straight

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Oh, Yeah, that Writing Thing

By Keith N Fisher

Garrison Keiler, on the Prairie Home Companion, usually starts his monologue with,

"Well, it's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, my hometown, out there on the edge of the prairie."

I like his writing and I especially like the feel of the radio show. Keiler tells it like it is, so be careful when you read some of his writing. Still, he is a national treasure.

When I started writing this post, I thought of Keiler’s signature start of the monologue and this post began, Well, it’s been a quiet week in the cyberspace of writing. I took a break from the world and began to analyze my life. I’m making needed changes and setting goals.

One of those decisions was to write for the national market. I will continue to write LDS fiction. At least until I exhaust all of the story outlines (and there are many) in my project file. I got my manuscript back from my cousin, (one of my beta readers). She knows who she is, and she did a wonderful job with Star Crossed. No, I won’t give you her name, because I don’t want you to steal her. It’s hard enough, to find proofreaders who have time these days and I need all the help I can get. She’s mine. J

I talked about this in a recent post, but have you ever contemplated the amount of time it takes to get a book published these days? It probably takes longer for me than most, because I just can’t get it perfect in the first draft. I was thinking how nice it would be to write well enough that I could submit my work as soon as I write the words, The end.

Better yet, wouldn’t it be great to have a publisher anticipating my next work? The old stop the presses Keith just sent his next book, cliché comes to mind. If I could just write, without taking time to edit, I could get through my project’s file in no time. If I didn’t have to work a day job, I could write all the time.

Of course if I were a best seller, I could hire an editor. I could write everything with the discovery method, turn it over to the editor, make the changes, and leave it with my secretary to shop the agents and publishers.

Writing is getting easier for me all the time. Waiting for Critique group edits takes time, but I wouldn’t make a move without them. Then, even after I make those recommended changes, I still need proofreaders. I need other eyes looking over the manuscript. Besides, hearing positive comments about the plot is good for my ego.

Like I said, I wrote about this process a couple of weeks ago, but I’m grateful to my cousin, even though I wish I could just write and not worry about the quality. I was writing posts for other blogs and thought; oh, yeah, I need to write the writing blog. That's how the name of this post came to be.

As Garrison Keiler says at the end of his monologue, "Well, that's the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average."

Good Luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I can be Anything, Go Anywhere

By Keith N Fisher

As a writer, I’m sure the possibilities have occurred to you. Yes, Characters really talk to you and try to enforce their wills over the story, They also live through you. Moreover, you live through them.

Just like parents relive their past through the antics of their children, writers live the lives of their characters. "What?" you ask. But I’ve written some really bad characters and I don't want to be like them."

I agree, I write women’s fiction and I have no desire to be the women I write, but those women teach me valuable lessons.

These were my thoughts the other day during our critique group meeting. I brought a chapter from my cookbook and graciously distributed it as homework. I also brought chapter ten of The Trophy to read. I wrote Christy into that story several years ago, and I like her. What’s more my critique group likes her.

I live parts of her life every time I read or edit one of her chapters and I admit, her life is more exciting than mine. I guess you could say she is written well, but then, I’ve had a lot of practice with her.

Writers are a crazy bunch, we travel to far off lands, do dangerous, and romantic things. Our characters take us there. Sometimes they take us to places we don’t want to go, "But," you say. "Don’t the characters we write come out of our head, or from people we’ve known?" Aha. I guess we really are crazy, but most of us were very good at playing make believe as children and writing a just an extension of that.

Doesn’t that make you wonder about some writer’s childhood? Is there a place you always wanted to go? Did you always wish you were more . . . Then Write it.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Nothing to Write


By Keith N Fisher

I’ve been so busy trying to finish my cookbook, cooking new dishes, and doing research, that I couldn’t think of a topic for today. I spent all day bouncing ideas off myself but I couldn’t come up with anything. I cleaned out a shed, cleaned the truck, (Which was a huge deal), and made chili.

Still, I couldn’t think of anything to write that would bolster your resolve to keep writing. I thought about a political situation that ticks me off, but I promised to leave politics off this blog. I considered writing about writer’s block itself, but that would be copping out. (Just like this post).

I will say, I’ve been having formatting problems with the cookbook. I put all the recipes in two columns, single spaced. All the other stuff was one column, double spaced when I tried to insert the recipes the formatting went crazy. I think I’ve got it under control now though, at least I have a system and it seems to be working.

Hopefully, things will go better this week and I’ll have something worthwhile to say. Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Deplorable Word, Revisited

In 2008, I posted this article on my now defunct writing blog Interregnum. Since it hits so timely on something I want to say, I'm reposting it here and now.

THE DEPLORABLE WORD 2008

A class assignment this week requires me to read a book titled "The N Word: Who can say it, who shouldn't, and why?". Normally, this is not something that would find its way into my reading list, which is, I guess, why there are college professors - to expand my mind.

This mind-expanding stuff is painful business. This book is a painful read. Not because it's badly written, or incorrect. It's the very truthfulness of it that is so excruciating.

For those lucky enough to not know what the "N"-word means, it is an insult based on skin color, a slang term that originated in the south regarding the slaves. This book is an in-depth study of the origin, use and real meaning behind the word. I was not terribly surprised to learn that its usage was much wider than I ever expected, but I was shocked to learn that it is still, in the twenty-first century, used on the floor of congress.

There was a discussion in my class regarding a movement to have the word removed from the dictionary. When I voiced that I saw no need for it to be there in the first place, suddenly, I'm the old fogey prude who promotes censorship akin to Big Brother (whom most of my classmates had never heard of). When on of the young men at the next table piped up; "Well, why is the F word in the dictionary?" to prove his point, I could honestly answer that I remember when it wasn't because it was considered too vulgar for decent speech.

All this makes me wonder...

In C. S. Lewis' "The Magician's Nephew, there was a world destroyed because one person spoke a word so heinous and awful that the fabric of the universe could not stand its utter depravity. He called it 'The Deplorable Word'. When the hero stepped into that world many years later, he found a scene of complete devastation and ruin.

I'm afraid for us. How close are we?

If we allow filthy words, words with heinous meanings, to be freely used, tolerated, and considered mainstream - how long before we find our own Deplorable Word?

I may not be Martin Luther King, or Nelson Mandella, or Gordon B Hinckley - but my heart is good, and my will is strong, and the Lord has given me a way with words, words that might just make a difference, a good one. As it says in the scriptures, those with a desire to serve are called to the work. I think that we LDS and Christian writers all have more than enough desire, so consider yourself called.

We must write! Fight the Deplorable Words of this world. Flood the world with words of goodness, words of kindness, words of worth - valiant in meaning, precious to the ear.

FIVE YEARS LATER:

The first year I attended the LDStorymakers Writers Conference, Jeannette Rallison gave a stirring speech about how we, as LDS writers specifically, in order to combat all the trash that is readily available, we have a duty to flood the world with wholesome literature. That is the theme I have clung to since. To be true to what I believe in every word that comes from me.

Since this originally aired in 2008, I have seen others, who professed to believe as I did, fall.

Richard Dutcher, a talented actor and director, left his religion in favor of making and promoting a film that even his own crew that had been with him through several great films called raunchy. In his own words in a City Weekly interview, he did not believe the LDS community properly recognized his talent.

Kirby Heyborne, the talented star of such great films as The Best Two Years and the comedy The RM, signed a contract with a national alcoholic beverage chain to advertise their product.

Stephanie Meyer, though famous now in the national market, first touted her graduation from BYU on the back of her books, then in the fourth of her famous series, wrote material that some Christian mothers refuse to let their daughters read because of the inappropriate content. One of those mothers that I know personally, was a hard-core fan right up to that point.

Zarahemla Books, whose tag line has always been 'Edgy but not Apostate' published a book including so many apostate ideas I can't (or won't) list them here. Their business has never recovered.

Earlier this year, I attended another conference, looking forward to my resolve being strengthened while I learned and practiced my chosen craft. Not once did I hear any reference toward our "duty to flood the earth".

Have we forgotten why we're here, doing what we're doing? It is so easy to step aside from what we believe - after all, it's just fiction, right?

How long before our children step into a world of complete devastation and ruin, and all because of words. Words in society, words on media, tv? Words in books? Are we still fighting the Deplorable Word - or do we just give up?

I intend to fight! With every breath, every scribbled note, every keystroke!

 It may mean my books are never traditionally published, but I'll take that chance. If necessary, I will do it alone  - but I would prefer to think there are others out there with me, for I still believe it is our duty to flood the world with words of goodness, words of kindness, words of worth!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Don't Tell Me Anything!

by James Duckett

When telling a story, there is one thing to always keep in mind: you aren't the one telling the story, your point of view (POV) character is. Why does this matter? Because I want to know the story from his or her eyes, not yours.

Letting the POV tell the story allows me to really get to know who your POV is. For instance, if I were to walk in a hotel elevator, I might take notice of the advertisement they have for the food they serve in the lobby/dining room. Why? Because I eat too much. That tells you something about me... but the story isn't about me.

If the story is about an anorexic girl, those advertisements might be the last things she'd notice. She'd probably notice the people in the elevator glancing her direction. She knows what they are doing... judging her, mentally calling her fat, and wondering how somebody could lose control and weight more than 85 pounds. She might feel claustrophobic in the elevator, causing her to think she is taking too much space and she needs to lose more weight. She might even remember the closet she was thrown in to by the bullies three years prior as they taunted her with words like, "Fatty" and "Melinda More Mass." Sure, she's lost 30 pounds since then and grown five inches, but she still has so much more to lose before she will feel accepted by her peers.

If she did notice the food advertisement, it would be in a negative connotation. *I* would describe the steak they as juicy looking, covered in seasoning, and with just the right amount of pink in the middle. *She* would look at it and wonder how she could ever eat so much food, or how it might hurt her throat when she throws up something so thick, or she might be disgusted with the look of food anyway.

I'm sure you are an interesting person, but the story you're writing isn't about you--unless you are writing a memoir then, never mind, full steam ahead, Captain! Otherwise, please kindly butt out of the story and let your character tell us what is going on.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

More than just ignoring the elephant

by C. Michelle Jefferies

We hear it all the time.

I tried this. . . but it didn't work.

I wanted to do this but . . .

I've recently had surgery in order to help me loose excess weight. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. But so so so necessary in order for me to still be here twenty years from now. Necessary for me to feel better. Necessary for me. Period.

Sure the weight has come off and I am feeling tons better but its not just the surgery.  The surgery is a tool and nothing more. You see, I am not just relying on modern medicine to keep me healthy.  It's what's happening in my head that is making the biggest difference. I am watching every ounce of food that enters my mouth, counting protein vs carbs vs veggies. I eat on small plates, eat by the clock, plan my meals hours ahead of time. Drink tons and tons of water. My life will forever revolve around food. Oh and exercise? Yeah that too.

So, what does this have to do with writing?

Anyone can write a blog post, an article or a manuscript if they choose to. Anyone can write something that can be read. The question is, can anyone write something people want to read?
Writing and being a successful writer takes more than just the ability to sit and put words on paper or screen. Beyond creating words, do you have the determination to revise and edit it until you see double? Do you have the guts to send it to people who are going to rip it to shreds? Do you have the stamina to think eat, sleep, drink, and breathe words? When all else goes wrong and you have nothing left in you, can you still call yourself a writer? If years from now your still receiving rejections and no recognition, are you still going to try?

If everyone around you is insisting that there is no elephant in the room, do you still see it?

The key to being a successful writer is in your head. You need to call yourself a writer, you need to write or think about writing every day. You need to get some guts and tough skin and let others help you make it better. You need to, like my last post said, make time instead of waiting for that magical hour to appear. Because I guarantee you in real life they don't.

Want to be a writer? Remember, it's all in your head.  

The path to wisdom is not always straight.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

It Takes a Village

By Keith N Fisher

If it takes a village to raise a child, How many people do you need to publish a book? Many of us are enamoured with the idea of being a solitary writer. He/she spends months in seclusion, knocking out that book. Then, after the publisher takes it to market, the writer spends a couple of months doing other things, like plotting the demise of the mailman (See the movie Funny Farm).

Perhaps that reality once existed, but not today. When Hillary Clinton published her book, It Takes a Village, I Liked the concept the title implies. It does take many influences to raise a child. Publishing your book does too.

It starts with whoever provides the inspiration. What made you want to write a book? As with all artistic expression, writing is driven by passion. Something must’ve lit that fire.

Next, there are the teachers and conference presenters who help with your presentation. I know things I learn at writer’s conferences have immensely boosted me.

The cooperation and support of those you love must be listed. I used to write into the night while my wife went to bed. She never complained, but it goes deeper than that. I know many women who write while their family qtakes up the slack.

One can not leave this subject without mentioning the opposite. When a trusted and treasured friend, or family member, expresses their disdain about your choice to be a writer, it can be overwhelming. The influence of those who provide support by keeping quiet makes all the difference. If those people express support, the writer is lifted.

The help of an honest critique is invaluable. A good critique group is essential. Writers need group partners who will build, but still tell you when something stinks. I can’t begin to express how much my group has helped me become a better writer.

Next in our village, is the willing beta, or proofreaders. Another set of eyes can find typos and plot mistakes the writer just never saw. They can also tell you if the story works or not. If they don’t like what you wrote, book buyers probably won’t either. A writer needs many beta readers to get an accurate picture of what changes are needed.

We could list mail carriers, agents, editors, and slush pile readers. Then come typesetters, printers, and distributors. Bookstore owners and managers, come in there next. Not to mention, the good recommendations of bookstore employees. Suffice it to say a best seller is not born in a vacuum.

I want to thank all the people in my village. I might be somebody someday because of your support. More than that, My children (books) will go into the world and be successful.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, August 09, 2013

An Open Response

Like many of you, I have several email addresses. I check some of them frequently, others not so. A while back, I checked one of those boxes and found an email from a man who claimed I infringed on his copyright of an image I posted with one of my posts.

Even though there is no commercial gain in posting on this blog, I removed the image immediately. Today, I noticed some unchecked comments in the moderation section of our blog and found three comments, in which he said I chose to ignore his email. Mind you those comments were posted before I checked that email box so how could I have ignored the email? I never saw it.

I didn’t think you needed an answer, sir, since I deleted the image from my post.

In his comments he threatened to sue me. I wonder how we came to a place in our society where a person can spend a few hours on a computer program manipulating an image, and call it copyrighted. Several years ago, when I started my first website, I made several images. Some of which are still floating around the Internet. I know how it feels to find your work in another place you never intended it to be. I choose to accept it as flattery about my talent.

Therefore, sir, I want to say I didn’t choose to ignore your email. I could’ve linked you to the image, but I chose to remove your image instead. Also, I’m sorry I didn’t check the comments to be moderated I would've responded if I had. if you will send me another email, I'll be glad to return.

Your image was well done and beautifully made my point or I wouldn’t have used it. I wish you good luck in the future.

To those who read my posts, I won’t be placing images on this blog anymore, unless it is one of my own.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

10 Reasons Print Will Always Be Better Than Electronic Copy

1. You don't have to back it up. (Although, you should always have two copies, for safety's sake)

2. Your five year old can't erase ink with a fridge magnet.

3. If the power goes out, you can read by candlelight without having to keep an eye on the battery gauge.

4. You can read it in the tub without worrying about destroying your entire library.

5. Print has never, ever disappeared into the ethereal world of bytes and bits, never to be seen again.

6. You can look at the cover to see what's inside, you don't have to wonder 'which thumb drive did I put that on, again?'

7. No worries about going through airport security.

8. If you red-pen a print manuscript, then decide to go back to the way it was written in the first place, the original way is still there - you can just read it through the ink.

9. Print can be read no matter what operating system or word processing program you have, and it will never be obsolete two months after you buy the book.

10. No matter how good the technology gets, neither a Kindle nor a Nook will never feel, or smell, like a real hardcover. And it will never look as good on a shelf.

Monday, August 05, 2013

A Hero in their Own Mind

When writing characters, always make sure all of your characters are heroes in their own minds. Nothing drives me nuts more than watching a movie and not understanding the motivation of a character. Sometimes you see it in leading characters, where they go about life like a leaf in the wind. It makes me not care for that character, or the story, and I'm more likely to put the book down.

Think of your favorite movies, and consider the main motivation in the lead characters. Frodo wanted to destroy the ring. Harry Potter wanted to conquer evil and protect his friends and loved ones. The Dread Pirate Westley wanted to wed Buttercup. Ender wanted to win games. And Luke wanted to go to Tosche Station and pick up some power converters. No, I mean he wanted to go and kiss his sister. No, no... wait. What did he want? Oh, yeah, he wanted to kill his Dad. Or save him. Or... okay, no wonder he was such a whiny teenager.

Secondary/supporting characters need to have the same thing. I know that a lot of decent movies who have secondary characters who just seem along for the ride. But great movies have secondary characters who are trying to accomplish something. This can also be a great source of conflict, because a "good guy" could have different goals from the "main good guy."

Samwise Gamgee wanted Frodo to succeed, even when Frodo didn't. Ron Weesly wanted notoriety and money, even though his best friend seemed to have everything he ever wanted. Inigo Montoya wanted revenge, even if it meant leaving Westley behind to pursue it. Jar Jar Binks wanted... oh, who cares. How did he live through the trilogy, that's all I want to know?

All of these main and supporting people have something in common. In their own mind, they are the hero. Some of them may not like playing second fiddle to the main character, which can introduce some tension (again, see Ron Weesly), but it is what gives depth to characters. It is what makes it so you care for more than just one character. It is also a way to move the plot forward.

But don't forget the bad guy.

When bad guys are bad for no reason, I tend to lose interest. When their only motivation seems to be the thwart of the good guy, I usually get bored and look the other way. Give the bad guy a good motivation. I'm more likely to enjoy a story where a villain wants to do something bad and the hero is trying to stop them over a story where the hero is trying to do something, but the villain just gets in his way.

Oh, where to begin on examples.

Okay, let's go with Voldemort. Yes, he's ruthless and mean, but this is a guy who thought he was wronged in life. Where everything bad that happened to him came at the hands of muggles, even his own father. So what better way to protect his world than to kill all the muggles and anybody with muggle blood in them. Keep in mind, I'm not justifying anything he did, but from his perspective, he is trying to make the world a better place. Rid the world of bad blood and things will totally go his way.

Sadly, this also sounds a lot like Hitler's motivation. I'm sure in his twisted mind, he thought he was doing the world a favor.

How about Darth Vader, one of the most loved bad guys in the history of bad guys. He fell to the dark side due to fear and a sense of loyalty to the empire (though, I'll admit, I didn't buy it). From his perspective, in the original trilogy, he was just a soldier trying to bring peace to the universe by silencing a bothersome band of rebels. Granted, I've never understood why he blew up a PLANET to prove a point, but you can tell this is a guy who doesn't mess around.

Humperdink just wanted to rule a kingdom and justify his Kingship with a war. Hmmm... I would have liked to have seen that fleshed out a little bit more. Great movie, but really, the bad guy just comes across as a spoiled brat jerk face.

Sauron just wanted to rule. I know, pretty boring. Luckily, he had some interesting minions that brought the story to life. The most interesting bad guy, to me, was Gollum--though not a direct minion of Sauron. Gollum just wanted to protect the ring, his precious, while being left alone to eat raw fish and maybe tell a riddle or two with the guests he had over for supper. He also had a split personality, with Smeagol actually wanting to help Sam and Frodo. Well, Frodo anyway. In his mind, he justified what he did and remained the hero in his own mind. SPOILER ALERT: In a way, he ended up being the hero of the entire series, being responsible for the downfall of Sauron and the success of man, elf, and dwarf.

Finally, there is the latest incarnation of the Joker. He is probably my most favorite bad guy of all. He has one of the most unique motivations ever... and it wasn't the usual cliche of either money, power, or fame. In a nutshell, he just wanted to see the world burn.

Well, I think there was more than that. He looked at society and saw all the hypocrisy that society had, and he wanted to expose it. Cops were crooked. Thieves were weak and short-minded. Society was fragile and just an accident or two away from complete anarchy. Gotham's White Night, Harvey, had a bit of a vigilante streak in him. Even the test he did with the boats, trying to get the "good guys" of society to murder a boatload of people just because they were more deserving (but to be honest, I'm glad I wasn't on that boat having to make that decision). One of his biggest motivations was to get Batman to break his one rule, which would cause him to lose all credibility with Gotham, and the Joker was willing to sacrifice his own life to accomplish it. It didn't work with Batman, but it did work with another one of the good guys, thus making The Joker successful.

So, if you are looking to push your book to the next level, look at all of your characters. I'd say anybody with dialogue, even if it's one line. If you can't tell what his or her motivation is from that one line, work it in somehow. Make sure your heroes and supporting cast have solid motivations. And if you can make the bad guy think he is a hero, then you've got a good recipe for success!

One last note: watch the show "Once Upon a Time." There are good guys and bad guys galore. And EACH of the bad guys has a justifiable reason to think they are doing the right thing. It is wonderful. Sometimes, I wonder who I should be cheering for. Not one person is bad just for the sake of being bad, they are all heroes in their own minds.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Life In the Fast Lane

By Keith N Fisher

Are you old enough to remember life before the microcomputer? I remember a time when a computer filled whole rooms. (Many rooms.) In those days, socializing was done in person. Facebook hadn’t been invented. The guy who started Facebook hadn’t been invented either.

Writing in those days was done on a ribbon typewriter. I had access to an electric one, then I got a manual. Pushing the keys down gave me strong fingers, but mistakes usually meant starting over.

My typewriter sat on my desk. It was too cumbersome to lug around. Now I can write anywhere. I take my computer with me. I’m writing this post from my front porch on an 11 X 9 netbook. I just finished my Dutch oven blog and tried to log onto the Internet, but there was a problem.

Something is wrong with my router, it keeps flaking out. My computer can’t find it, until I shut it off and turn it back on. It could be some kind of conflict. Perhaps somebody is stealing my bandwidth. I’m not sure, but it’s such a simple temporary fix. All I need to do is go back in the house and reset the router.

How many of you remember when watching television meant getting up to change the channels? Lately, I’ve been known to sit quietly in front of a blank screen, because I can’t bring myself to get the remote from the kitchen.

Still, a writer can use those moments to plot his story. Writers can write anything, anywhere, but how did I become so dependent on technology? I don’t answer the house phone anymore. There’s a phone is in my pocket if I need to make a call. I can go for a ride on a hot day and crank up the air conditioning. What did we do when I was a kid?



Writers have it easier these days. I know, they didn’t have to market back then, but I can submit a book in seconds and never see my words on paper. Then I can build a following by posting something witty on Facebook. I can correspond with my writing peers and make appointments for book signings. I can do all these things in the bathroom, before I take my morning shower.

When I think of how we got from then to now, I’m reminded of my pile of computer parts. Most of that stuff was cutting edge back in the day. Now it gathers dust, because I can’t seem to throw it away. I think about the old Commodore 64, the XT and the AT I had. I remember needing a math co-processor to do graphics. At one point, I went from and two-foot tower to one half the size, then my first laptop. Oh, baby we were stylin.

Occasionally, I fire up my old 486 with the co-processor, and play with Windows 3.1. It was leaps and bounds ahead of what came before. Typing on a manual typewriter, pushing lead around a sheet of paper to make a blueprint, and playing solitaire with a real deck of cards.

Well, enough of my blabbering. It’s time to bite the bullet and go reset the router.

Good Luck with your writing—see you next week.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Take An Axe To Them!

by James Duckett

I'm back, posting again every Monday. My apologies for my hiatus, and kudos to the others at the Writer's Blogck for their patience as I got my life back into order.

So, regarding my title. I'm not suggesting you turn into a serial killer. This is an LDS-focused blog after all! I do encourage you to become a word slayer. With writing, less is often more. The fewer words spent describing something, the clearer it usually is.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

I feel terrible when somebody is subjected to reading one of my first drafts. I find myself getting wordy. I use all sorts of fillers or add unnecessary details. Worse, I find myself repeating what I've just written.

During my first revision, I might add a few things here and there, but for the most part I'm cutting like Edward Scissorhands after dropping acid. My writing improves more by what I cut than what I add.

Want an exercise? Pull out one of your more recent writing--the closer to the first draft the better. Take a page, and revise it with the intent of NOT ADDING ANYTHING NEW, but cutting everything deemed unnecessary or repetitive. Ask yourself, "If this goes, is anything lost?" If the answer is no, chop it. As a bonus, find somebody to read both drafts, and chances are they'll tell you how much better the second draft is.

I recently wrote a blog post, and it came out to 317 words. I took a break and cut, cut cut. I reduced the size by 40%, and I thought it got 200% better.

Try it, tell us how it goes!!

(In case you are wondering, I cut over 100 words off my first draft of this post, or about 30%. Thank me later for not having to read my first draft.)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Do You Have The Time . . .

by C. Michelle Jefferies

To do anything?

Seriously.

My life is always busy, seven kids, house, husband, a full time writing career and deadlines. Yeah I could be the poster child for the whole "burning your candle at both ends".

We started the summer with our six year old being lifeflighted to the local children's hospital with a skull fracture. I had emergency surgery and now chicken pox is going through our family one child at a time.

Someone commented to me this week that they hoped their kid also didn't get the chicken pox from my kid because they didn't HAVE time for a sick kid. While I blew off the comment, how was I supposed to know he was sick when he was completely spot free and not acting sick? What they said bugged me for days.

The whole HAVE time thing.

I don't  have time to do anything. Time is that elusive thing that slips through my day like trying to hold water in your hand. I could spend my entire day just putting out fires that two year old's make, answering the phone, running errands etc etc etc. I'm sure you get the idea. I could spend the whole day swimming upstream. thinking I don't HAVE time.

Same goes for writing.

Do I have time to write? Of course not.

Let's think about this for a minute. The way we approach anything can have a profound impact on how we actually follow through.

While someone might not HAVE time for sick kids or writing, there's a simple answer.

I MAKE time.

Yep. I make my family, my home, my writing a priority.

I let the phone go unanswered, I get off facebook, I either turn on the computer or turn it off depending on my focus for that period of time. I let my older kids load the dishwasher and mop the kitchen floor.

I make time to write. I make time to edit, market, communicate with editors, publishers etc. I make it a priority because its important to me.

How do you make time to do those things that are important to you?

The path to wisdom is not always straight.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Change is a Two-Edged Sword

image found at http://www.theignorantfishermen.com
By Keith N Fisher

First the news . . . No, I didn’t get a new publishing contract. Although, I wish it were true. I just want to let you in on the changes to the blogck. As you know, G. Parker is taking a break. She promised to be back after things cool down a bit. Michele, is also taking a slight break. Life gets in the way sometimes. Send them an email and let them know how much you appreciate them.

After a Long deserved break, Weston Elliott (Wendy) came back to the Blogk. She took the spot left vacant by Donna. She’s been posting on Sunday, but Michele is going to trade with her. That leaves Michele on Sundays, Wendy on Tuesday, and Connie said she’s coming back, so she’ll be posting on Wednesdays. Gaynell, (G. Parker) will post Fridays, and I’m here on Saturdays.

Tell your friends, The LDS Writer’s Blogck is back. Not that it ever went away, but I’m looking forward to having more minds posting again. Make it a point to stop by often, and get a boost from those who understand your struggles as a writer. Leave a comment if you can, and let us know what you’d like us to write about.

The Blogck has always been a place you can go to validate your decision to be a writer. Stop by often and we’ll join hands.

Change is good, but a lot can be said for sameness. I’ve been a member of the Blogck for a long time. I’ve seen writer’s come and go. I’ve read a lot of great comments and heard people tell me how much we’ve helped them. I’ve seen many visitors stop by, a few stayed, became better writers, and started their own blogs.

For me, it has been a blessing to have a weekly deadline. I’ve posted a few thought-provoking posts. Some of them were just thrown together at the last minute and you can tell. I post on other blogs too, but the Blogck is where it all began.

From the title of this post, you might think I’m leaving, but don’t worry, not yet. There will come a time when I’ll give up my spot and move on. For now, however, I’ll try to keep offering sound advice and insight.

Since I first posted here, I’ve suffered many changes in my life that left my head spinning. I’m still trying to recover from some of them and I’ve recently discovered answers to questions that revealed more questions. Change is hard, but it forces us to grow.

My writing has also changed. I started out writing general fiction, best described as Dean Hughes type novels. I now write women’s fiction. It was a natural change, since I was the only male member of an all women critique group.

Even my critique group has changed. It started when I recognized my need for help with my writing. I sought out my close friends at a Storymakers conference to propose the group and the Super Edits group began.

We started on a Saturday with six members. Two, were published authors, one was a beginner, Me and two others had been writing for a while. We lost one member after the first meeting. I cooked a Dutch oven dinner for the next meeting. (I figured I’d keep them by cooking for them).

Many publishing contracts came. Other books were self-published and life’s demands began to take members away. One lady with six kids got married and inherited four more. Another member got a national market contract and moved to another state. (Those two things were unrelated.)

Demands on our time have been hard to overcome, but we are, (and always will be) family. We’ve had a few writers come and go since then, recently adding more members, including another man. I’m no longer the only male influence. I’ve bonded with the new members now, and I hope I’m helping them as they help me.

One of the members keeps coming, I’m sure, because she knows I need the help. Her friendship is invaluable because she cares more about improving my writing than she does her hectic schedule. She helps others, too, but I’m sure she welcomes the friendship and the chance to get away for awhile.

Now, another member is threatening to leave and move to another state. I’m resisting the change. Actually, I’m trying to block it out of my mind. Before long, I’ll be one of the last original members, and like this blog, I’ll keep going. Did I mention I hate changes?

I’ve learned something in the past seven years, though. Change is like a two-edged sword. One edge is sharp and cuts deeply, but the other edge brings growth. The Super Edits critique group has helped me become a better writer. I’m also a less argumentative person because of the ladies. I’ve learned more about women, too.

I guess that someday, something will come up in my life, also. Something, that will force me to move on. That seems to be the way of things, but for now, I hope I can help others on the blogck and in my group.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

You Can't Buy Experience

Several years ago, my husband and I were out late one night. He'd gotten hurt at work and I had to go pick him up from the ER. A friend gave me a ride to our car at the bus yard, and I drove to the hospital - where I spent three or four hours waiting for him to be released.

At roughly two in the morning, on the way home, the two of us decided we were hungry.

"Let's run by an ATM," Hubs said, "McD's is open all night."

"Great," I agreed, "but I can't remember where the closest ATM is."

So we're driving through a shopping neighborhood, trying to remember which end of it had the bank with the drive-thru ATM. Now, I can admit we looked a little suspicious, driving aimlessly through a business district at 2 a.m., so I wasn't overly concerned to see that police officer pull up behind me. He stayed right behind me, then pulled in the other lane, so I figured I was off the hook.

He stayed right beside my fender.  Just about the time we spotted the bank, his set of roof lights flashed on.

And then another one on our right.

and another on our left

and another, and another, and another....

I did the only thing I could - I stopped and waited. I expected someone to walk up to my side of the car.

"Driver!" I heard the voice. I've seen cop shows - I knew what came next. "Turn off your vehicle and put your keys on the top of the car."

I did.

"Keep your hands in sight and step out of the vehicle."

I did.

"Walk backward to the sound of my voice."

Yeah - like that's easy to do at 2 am in the dark with flashing lights on every side.

I did.

You know on TV when they slap the cuffs on someone's wrist? Yeah - turns out that is surprisingly painful, actually!

They handcuffed me, checked my pockets and led me away while they went through the same procedure with my husband. Then they searched our car, including the trunk with dogs and automatic rifles. There were at least 10-13 police officers there with nine cars, one or two of which were canine units. And they weren't taking any chances that we weren't armed and dangerous!

Meanwhile, I'm grinning like a fool because this is really kinda cool! We had a paper trail proving where we'd been all night long, and I knew we hadn't done anything wrong, so it was just a matter of let the cops do their job until everything got sorted out. Meanwhile, I'm getting great first hand experience of what it's like to be arrested. I can imagine how mortifying it would be to someone whose honesty was in doubt, or who had no proof of their whereabouts.

Half hour later, they finally figured out we were not the droids they were looking for.  Turns out there had been  gang-related violence earlier that night. When I picked up the car from the yard, I apparently drove through that area, someone thought our car was one that had been involved, took down our license number and called it in. So when they found us wandering around Jordan Landing, not only did we look suspicious, but we were in a car, complete with license number, wanted in relation to a shooting.

So, it ended up that West Jordan police offered us sincere apologies for our inconvenience. Which was fine with us, we assured them, we were happy to let them do their job - which they did quite well that night. (They were very professional and respectful even when they thought we were gang-bangers!)

Point of this story: While I wouldn't suggest trying to get yourself arrested, there are experiences every day that can translate into your writing. Even when they aren't quite as freakishly awesome as being pulled out of your car at 2 am at gunpoint.  Everyday living provides, if you practice looking for experiences to beef up your writing.

Now, the sad part is that I have not yet written a single character getting arrested into one of my manuscripts. But that's okay, because when the need arises, I'll know that my character is going to have welts on her wrists for two days after, and that she can't help but notice how really young that officer is in uniform that's got hold of her arm as he leads her toward the police cruiser, and how sickening it is to watch several fully loaded firearms being pointed at the man she loves.

You can't pay for experience like that.