Send your Inner Editor on a nice November vacation

October 31, 2011

Inspired by my incredible Hamilton ML, Gale, I have decided to go on a new tack with Inner Editor control for this year. I’m sending him off for fun in the sun.

After all, I’ve been working him pretty hard for most of the year. We’ve got most of the details sorted out. After finishing a rewrite and a guest blog post for Chris Eboch this evening, Editor is going to be getting up before me tomorrow, and taking the shuttle over to Pearson to catch his flight. He’s booked for the whole month at some reasonably nice resort in the Bahamas. And because I know that he couldn’t really relax and have fun without some sentences to tinker with, he’s packing lots of my writing – past Nanos, screenplays, short stories, even my old fanfic. But if he tries to call me up and tell me ANYTHING about it, I’ll find a way to make him pay dearly.

This is probably not an approach that everybody could take with their Inner Editors. Many are too wily and competitive to simply go away for Nanowrimo, or at least, they might not go for it THIS year. But my IE and I have been through this before, and I think he’s learned that he can’t derail me during November. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m excited about this idea.

I just hope that the Bahamas Nanowrimo group doesn’t try to send him back because he goes and messes with THEIR masterpieces!

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Campaigner Spotlight – Michael Haynes

October 30, 2011

First off, sorry, no Six Sentence Sunday from me, if anybody cares. Maybe it has to do with the linky list going on hiatus last week, even though I went ahead and shared six sentences anyway – I remember thinking that I should schedule my six sentences yesterday, but I guess I never got around to it, and then remembered at 6:30 this morning, but the linky list had closed at midnight. So I’m doing my last spotlight of Campaign season instead!

And that means it’s time for Michael Haynes!

Do you have a WIP that you’re blocked on or conflicted about? If so, tell us a bit about it.
Yes, I rashly started on a novel about six weeks ago. This was motivated by a combination of thinking I had a cool idea and having written a bunch of short stories in a short span of time and feeling like they were tumbling all over themselves trying to get out to various markets for consideration. So, I said “Well, if I start on something long, I won’t be adding to the short story queue.” Which wasn’t necessarily a bad idea in and of itself. Right now the novel is stalled out somewhere around 18,000-20,000 words. This is not a catastrophe as it’s taught me some things which I think will be very useful in November when I’m working on my NaNoWriMo project. The main thing is that no matter how much I may “pants” or mostly-“pants” my short stories, I don’t feel comfortable trying to do that with a novel. I got to the point where I felt like I’d swum out too far to either turn back or reach the opposite shore. So, for my NaNo project, I’m going to have a solid outline by 10/31.

Read the rest of this entry »


Even the Ruby servers are meditating…

October 29, 2011

…to prepare for Nanowrimo, of course! 🙂 I just got this message when I went to http://www.nanowrimo.org/

I’ve never seen that error message before. Must be a Ruby on Rails thing.

So, what am I meditating on, with two days and odd hours before November 1st? Well, I’ve been planning on how I’m going to take the Alphasmart Dana with me everywhere, and swap out files in progress using the memory card for when I want to write on the laptop. I’m pondering banning myself from watching television until I’ve reached my quota of 2500 words a day – I’ve got to hit 50k by the 20th of November, so I can ring the bell at the Night of Writing Dangerously!

I’ve been thinking of what I know about my characters, realizing that Melissa Dempsey isn’t entirely a sweet ingenue, that she’s got a mean streak, and putting that together with everything else I ever worked out about the Star Patrol universe.

And I’m also loving the notion of ‘Writer’s Improv’, thank you Storywonk, which reminds me of Worldbreaker, which was an improv-like worldbuilding game, where everybody added one more detail in turn until the details started to get so specific that they were more like plot than background.

Can’t wait for Nano. How about you?


Campaigner Spotlight: Alicia Gregoire

October 27, 2011

Hi, everybody. Today, the spotlight shines down on Alica Gregoire, and her Slice of the Blog Pie.

If you had one day left to live, what’s one thing you’d want to spend that time on?
After I got over the never-ending anxiety attack of knowing when, exactly, I’d die, I’d want to spend my remaining time with my family and close friends. They would be the ones I’d miss the most.

What is your most prized possession?
I would say the cats. I’m very possessive of them and they’re also the first thing I look for when I get home. This might have to do with the fact that The Stripey One thinks she’s a ninja and The White One likes to go on walkabouts.
If cats don’t count (and they should), I’d say my book collection. There’s a lot of time and money sunk into that.

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve written since high school, but the first time I wanted to be a published one was in college. I was studying middle school education and had a pretty tough semester with a professor who made no sense. I’d come up with a new alternative career choice after every class. This was also the semester I first took creative writing and loved it.

Blog blurb
Alicia is a Boston native and writes young adult contemporary and adult urban fantasy. She blogs at Slice of the Blog Pie, which covers a little bit of everything: writing tips and writer angst, cat stories, fandom galore, and weekly doses of zombie info. When she’s not blogging or plotting she can be found with her nose in a good book.


Rule of Three #4: The Montana Accord

October 26, 2011

And the Rule of Three Blogfest is coming to a close this week. I’ve had a great time visiting Renaissance, and visiting with other authors. By the way, if anybody, Rule of 3, Campaigner, or otherwise, is doing National Novel Writing Month this year and wants to do an interview for my new Nanowrimo spotlight series, let me know with a comment or contact me by email at chrisken zero at gmail dot com

Previous chapters in my Rule of Three storyline:

  1. Just where is Renaissance?
  2. The Resourceful Sorceress.
  3. Can’t fight your fate.

This week, I’m at 590 words, and I took the prompt: “Relationships mend.”

Paul the bartender looked at the tableau between Ixtachul and the visitors for a moment, and gestured for Kiri to come join him behind the bar, but the petite waitress bent to help Tom up. Paul had known that Ixtachul had taken Tom’s place, but didn’t feel it was his place to warn Heiress Samantha about the deception ahead of time. She’d figured it out quickly enough for herself.

But now Paul spoke up. “Tell them of your grievances,” he said. “Over the centuries, I suspect that your story has not remained prominent.”

“His story?” Naveli Brussard asked. “What are you talking about?”

“I came from the same land as you,” Ixtachul spat. “For thousands of years, your ancestresses welcomed me and mine, until one Queen grew jealous and fearful. She raised up dozens of her family as an army, and drove us away. My love and the tears of my heart she slew herself, and would have shown me no mercy, but I escaped beneath the waters.”

“A war between the Brussard family and shape-shifters,” Tom said. “No, this story is not still told in North America. How long ago was it?”

“Three hundred years,” Samantha guessed. “I’ve heard it mentioned during my studies with Mother, though she didn’t go into detail.”

“Three hundred thirty and three years have I lived in this place, this new birth, since I fled the mountains of my home,” Ixtachul repeated. “Have you come to take me back, little Princesses?”

Read the rest of this entry »


Are there still writers just in it for the fame/money?

October 25, 2011

I was listening to Storywonk Daily‘s 200th episode this morning. Lani and Alastair read an email that they’d received calling them out for taking potshots at ‘literary fiction’, and they apologized for taking out their frustration on a few snobby critics who consider anything not literary as ‘trash’ out on the whole genre. Alastair gave shoutouts to some of his favorite literary authors, and Lani said that whoever was passionate about literary fiction and inspired to write it, or loved to read it, they were a Storywonk at heart and that she’d avoid saying mean things in the future. It was all very sweet.

But something was nagging at me as I listened, and it took me a few minutes to figure out what I was thinking about. From a few places, including an article of Douglas Adams that was in ‘The Salmon of Doubt’, I’ve absorbed this meme of the literary author, (certainly not representing EVERY literary author,) who isn’t really passionate or inspired about the stories that can be told in that genre, but full of himself and just wanting to create a piece of “Literature.” (Douglas said in the article that he aspired to be literate, not literary.)

I have to admit, I’ve never really known another writer personally who I’d put into that category. And the broader bucket of ‘writers who are motivated more to be successful than by passion’ wouldn’t be unique to Lit fic – in other genres, considering the scarcity of artistic accolades, the equivalent would be someone who just wants to have written a successful blockbuster and get rich from it, instead of actually being inspired to write. I’m not sure I know anyone like that either.

Do writers like that actually exist, or are they just a cultural meme that sprang up from writers in one genre taking potshots at another?


Campaigner Spotlight: Julie Coulter Belton

October 24, 2011

First off, I wanted to let you know, I won’t be submitting to the third campaigner challenge. I tried, but I just couldn’t find anything in there that really engaged me, so I’m taking a pass.

And, now, spotlight season continues with Julie Coulter Belton!

How will you know when you’ve reached success as a writer?

For me, there are so many little successes as an author. Finishing a manuscript is a success.  Finding a home for your manuscript is a success.  Holding your book in your hands for the first time is a success.  Finding author friends who understand you is a success.  I think writers have to look at every milestone as a success because there are so many writers out there that don’t even reach the first one.  Celebrate it all!

Where do you get ideas for characters and how do you develop them?
I am a people watcher and often smash a lot of people I’ve met or am acquainted with into a character.  Read the rest of this entry »


Six Sentence Sunday – The Wyverns of Werness

October 23, 2011

Good morning, everybody! Even though http://www.sixsunday.com/ is apparently on hiatus for the week, I’m going to share this excerpt anyway.

This is an opening that I’m pretty sure I’m going to change. It’s for ‘The Wyverns of Werness’ – the draft that I rewrote while I was at the Kansas workshop.

First, Michael Briely went to the cargo hatch of the small plane and loaded the plastic cage with the baby wyvern inside. “Hey, little guy, you’ll be okay,” he muttered as the little blue creature hissed at him and tried to nip at his fingers through the plastic bars. “I just want you to meet a few friends of mine back at Base Camp.”

He took a few moments to check the other animals he had trapped and make sure that nobody would be short on food or water for the trip. Then he closed the hatch, climbed up into the pilot’s seat, and turned on the communicator set.

“Falcon One to Base Camp, Falcon One to Base Camp – come in Base Camp.”


Tricky decisions and flawed stories

October 22, 2011

I’ve been looking over some of my stories, and reading critiques I’ve gotten for them, this week. And I’ve come to realize that at this point, I’ve got a fair few stories – three or four, I figure, where the following things are all true:

  • There’s good things going on in the story, that some readers like considerably.
  • There’s also plot or conceptual problems in the way that the story is written at this point.
  • Try as I might, I can’t figure out a way to resolve the fundamental problem or flaw, without starting again and writing a truly different story that would share only some of the same elements of character and plot.

So, in general – what do I do with these pieces of my work? Is it worthwhile to clean up the more superficial issues that I do know what to do with, (which usually still exist,) and try sending the story out to potential publishers? Or would I be better off just filing the entire mess, including the critiques, away against some future time when I’ve grown as a writer and might actually be able to (and interested enough to) fix the core problem?

And, if applicable, how do I ‘saviore faire la difference’? That is, know how to make the decision on a case by case basis.


Campaigner Spotlight: Kurt Hartwig

October 20, 2011

Time is running out for our little series of spotlights, but the end isn’t here yet! Today, my guest is Kurt Hartwig, from Everyday Performance.

Who is the most important person in your life?
Has to be my wife Lisa. We both freelance, and on a day to day basis we have to figure out who’s doing what, when, and for how long. She’s a documentary filmmaker and works in TV, film, and commercials (currently a Nikon spot). We overlap in our interests without being an exact fit, which minimizes any frictions that creep up. She’s unrelentingly honest in her criticism of my work, whether it’s “that’s great,” “it was a little confusing,” or “I got bored.”

Those are all quotes.

Do you smoke tobacco? Have you ever??
I do not and I have. I began smoking my sophomore year of college when I was studying in Seville, Spain. I never made it past a half a pack a day, trailed off and I smoked on and off socially for six years. At a certain point, everything about it made me feel a little gross, and eventually I stopped altogether until about 5 years later after a very stressful couple of months. I had one cigarette with two Australian friends. It wasn’t as good as I remembered and I haven’t smoked since.

What is your biggest fear when it comes to writing?
Not being able to keep writing with any serious continuity. Right now I work when work arises (3 months fixing a house this summer, for example, or art directing a commercial), and otherwise I get to keep pushing at the manuscripts and screenplays. So far we’ve been able to make the finances work out, but it’s a constant concern that the situation Lisa and I have arranged for ourselves won’t last or isn’t sustainable.

The photo is from a dance/theater piece I wrote and co-performed, CAT’S CRADLE. My partner (not seen) is the choreographer and responsible for the projections. I did the fabric puppetry and text.

I haven’t done any blogfests before, but thanks to Rachael I’ve also joined the Rule of 3 (#ren3) and MonsterFest. I’m working in different fairy tale veins for my four installments for #ren3 and trying to put my Folklore degree to good use writing about monsters (ouroboros and sphinx) for Sommer Leigh.

Otherwise I write about craft (structure, mostly), the odd review, or about What’s Going On.  It’s eclectic, but only because I haven’t found my way yet.


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