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


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.