Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

A huge thank you goes out to Charlie and Alex for helping me with the kids while they went trick or treating. Thanks guys!

Late Start

Due to all the drama, gunfire, and my street being closed by the police while I was stuck outside the cordon and separated from the family last night, I slept in today and got a late start. So we're off and running, trying to get things done with what's left of the day.

Time's a wastin', and we have places to go and things to do.

Friday, October 30, 2009

New Laptop Acquired

Today, I became the proud owner of my first laptop computer. It's a seventeen inch, HP pavilion.

The pricetag said $729. Silly me, I thought that was what I would end up paying at the counter. Lets just say that once the protection plan, case, antivirus, mouse, and tax got included . . . a different number emerged. But I'm not going to go into that right now because my wife might read this blog.

Anyways, it's currently sitting in it's box on the table, because I'm still too intimidated by it to open the box. Remember, I'm the guy who still hasn't figured out his cell phone.

But soon that will change.

Soon, I will no longer be trapped to this immobile PC with my current state of writers block. Soon, I will be able to stare at a blank screen in frustration at Denny's. Soon I will be able to curse my muse at Starbucks. Soon, I will have the whole world to wander while searching for inspiration. Hopefully, I'll find some soon. Go me!

UPDATE: I've plugged it in and played with it a little. It's solitaire game works, and it comes with a rudimentary word processing program. Now it's locked in a file cabinet because Rowan seems to be on a rampage today and getting into all kinds of mischief.

Writer's Night Out

Went out to Denny's last night with Cherri Galbiati, and talked writing for the evening. It was four glorious hours of conversation where the words "Hey Dad, watch this!", were never uttered once. Yeah, adult conversation is a rare and treasured commodity in my life.

Anyways, much coffee was consumed and much conversation was conversed.

Now I got to figure out how to get back to writing again. My brain supplements can't come soon enough. I'll sign up for NaNoWriMo tomorrow, and cross my fingers. Here's to hoping that any failures on my part aren't too spectacular.

We're signing up Rowan for her new school. She'll be going to school all day now. I know it seems a lot for a four year old, but she can really benefit from it. She will get more teacher time with a much higher teacher to student ration, which is what she needs, so I'm really hoping for the best out of this.

I think I've found the laptop I want at Best Buy. And I can buy a "Geek Squad" warranty to go with it so I won't always be bugging my brother, Randy, or my brother in law, Tim, every time it gets a quirk or I need something done with it. I just always get nervous before making a big purchase, so I have a few butterflies. I'm okay on buying the big TV and entertainment center because Karla will be making that purchase. Yeah, I know that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but that's just the way I roll. Oh well, life can get boring without goofy hangups anyways.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Early Goings On

This morning we have an ARD meeting over Rowan, to see what school and classes they want to put her in next.

Tonight we will go to Walmart and buy a big screen TV and entertainment center we picked out, because Karla bought us AT&T Uverse and we needed something ot watch it on. She also bought us new cell phones, which we are trying to figure out. We look like those missing links scratching our heads over the obelisk in 2001: A Space Odyssey. We aren't the most tech savvy creatures in the universe. She's currently frowning at hers and wondering "where you put the phone numbers in this stupid thing."

I'm going to go to Best Buy later and look into their laptops, because I want to have a laptop that will be ready for the Uverse techs to set up with their wireless routers. Boy, all kinds of progress happening on the technological front. AND we're looking into getting Rowan a dollhouse.

Time for the old toys to go, and more targeted toys to take their place. Getting suggestions from Rowans therapists on that score.

And Karla got us some help once a week in cleaning the house. Yay!

Good times.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Things To Do

Tonight we carve pumpkins. Sheridan has already made one drawing of what he wants his jackolantern to look like . . . an impossible monstrosity with three mouths and about twelve eyes. Methinks his enthusiasm is going to outstrip our carving skills.

I'm still drawing a blank. Maybe I'll look into mind supplements. I hear that a combination of the supplements piracetam and choline are supposed to improve concentration and mind function. I sure need something.

I have been in a slump all October. I had actually got a story ahead at the end of September, now I'm almost a story behind. I've had a couple of false starts that I've filed for future reference, but nothing really to show for the past three weeks. Not good.

Maybe I'll look into the National Novel Writing Month. I think Cherri is doing it. Just hammering out 50,000 words over the course of 30 days sounds like an interesting challenge. I wonder how many times i can type "All work and no play makes Nate a dull boy."

UPDATE: I bought the brain booster supplements. Yeah, I'm that desperate. We'll see how they work.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dry Spell

I went back to bed after getting the kids lunches packed today. Since I went to bed at eight oclock last night, that adds up to a rather large amount of sleep. I hope it's all going towards a good cause.

Hopefully it will help in this dry spell I'm experiencing in the writing department. I need to come up with something. Yesterday afternoon I was going through some fragments that I had written, to see if I could turn any of them into stories. They were like reading the writings of someone else who was more inspired than I was.

Oh well, maybe it's just seasonal. I'll keep plugging away at it.

Tonight I think I will carve pumpkins with the kids.

Monday, October 26, 2009

And Another One is Off

"Rite of Passage" has been submitted to LL Dreamspell for their "Dreamspell Nightmares 2" anthology. This is actually one of my more critiqued works, having been through the mill of all my regular editors and a group critique at Apollocon. It's been well recieved by all of them, so I have high hopes for this one.

I see that LL Dreamspell have also opened a new revenge anthology. Hmmmm . . .

Monday Morning

Ah Monday, glorious Monday! Another week begins, all shiny and new. Don't you just love that new week smell?

My plans for today are to dust off "Rite of Passage" and give it another edit. LL Dreamspell have finally opened their second Dreamspell Nightmares anthology so I want to get it ready to submit for that.

Then I've got housework to do. I let it slide on Sunday because I felt like resting up after the party, and I was in too good of a mood after Dallas won their football game today.

Finally, I'm debating carving Jack O Lanterns with the kiddos this evening. I'm just wondering if a jack o lantern will last six days after being carved. I might hold off till Tuesday on that one. I've already got the pumpkins, just trying to figure out the best time to carve them up. I need to get the kids some Halloween costumes this week, too. I better look for them soon before they all get picked over and my poor kids have to go in sheets with eye holes.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

And a Good Time Was Had By All . . .

The party went well.

But first I want to thank Daddo and Randy for fixing my garage door and unplugging my main line under the house. I appreciate it. Thanks.

I'm pleased with the food. The ratatouille was tasty, and the ribs were perfect. The salmon could have been a little better though. Mothers beans and potatos were good too. And the kids seem to have declared the cake to be excellent.

The best part was watching the kids running and shrieking in the dark with their lights. I want Sheridan and Rowan to have a sense of the seasons when they grow up, so I intend to work on giving them good seasonal childhood memories. A little of the magic of each holiday. You only get one chance to be a kid, and only once chance to shape their childhood. And since it is now the week of Halloween, I will focus on that. They had their little light party in the dark last night, and now we will have a pumpkin carving over the next day or two.

I think making a little of that magic come true is a lot like writing. You are creating an atmosphere, an ambience, and a memory. It's just a different form of creation, and maybe even a more important one.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Tomorrow I turn 39 . . . yet again.

It's been an eventful year. It was about this time last year that I decided to try my hand at writing. That was one novel, ten short stories, and about 135,ooo words ago. So as much as I feel I sort of slacked off at times, I do have the numbers to remind my ever guilty conscience that I actually put some real effort into it this time.

I'm still not totally comfortable calling myself a "writer", as that is something that other writers are called. Yeah, I know, it doesn't make a lot of sense. But there it is.

Ah well, I will eat a bite of cake in celebration. The main thing is seeing everybody together again.


This might be good to make with the grilled stuff for the party. The only problem is that Karla works that day, so I might already have my hands full. It' s good stuff though, I've made it before.

Out of lack of inspiration, I've started a test rewrite for the first story in "Ways of Khrem." I really screwed that submission up the first time, even in the way I went about submitting it. I know you have to make mistakes to learn from them, but that still doesn't make remembering them any more pleasant.

When you are a writer, there are a lot of steps in the process where there is nobody to double check you but yourself. So you have to do that . . . double check yourself . . . because it's the only way your manuscript will get the chance it deserves. I can't emphasize that point enough; You are your manuscripts only friend, and it depends on you to get things right. I blew it the last time I submitted my novel. I didn't give a good sample of it, and I gave a terrible synopsis of it. Looking back on it, I realize that had I been the publisher I would have thought the novel was about something entirely different than what it really is.

So . . . lesson learned.

The hard way.

I've got a lot of work to do tomorrow, and a sick kiddo staying home with me. Rowan had a low grade temperature again, so I'll be keeping her home for a day with me. Three day weekend for the little beastie.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Got Nuthin

I am drawing a complete blank.

For the life of me, I can't conjure a single image to write about. I know that you can't go through life in a constant state of inspiration, I seldom do, but usually I have a glimmer. Lately I have been fighting a big fat zero in that department though.

I hope it's not burnout.

I wonder what you do about burnout if you do have it?

I'll have to think about that one. Maybe change gears and try something different? Like a childrens story? Or maybe just stop writing? Or maybe research will reinspire the imagination. I just don't know. Ah well, at this point I'm just thinking out loud.

Lots of Stuff Going On

We have a party this Saturday, so there is lots of stuff going on in preparation for that, as opposed to me getting much writing done. I did a first scrape of the kitchen, and Karla single handedly shoveled an entire pile of mulch into the playground area of the backyard, and then did the floors. She really knocked herself out yesterday.

I still intend to grill a variety of meats, so that there should be something to everybody's taste. I think the kids are going to love the little LED flasher wands I have found. I'll hang Sheridans "nightlights" in the backyard for extra decoration.

I still have a lot to do though. I need to find these countertops, which is no small chore, and put up all the loose DVD's that the kids have let accumulate. Then there is the matter of those bathrooms. Sigh. Oh well, one thing at a time.

Then, after the party I will decide whether to attempt to come up with two more short stories, or to start working on the bigger projects.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sleeping In

Karla is home today, so I'm getting the kids lunches ready and going back to bed.

I stayed up last night trying to figure out how to rewrite "The Ways of Khrem." It can be done but it's going to be more difficult and labor intensive than I thought. And there are going to have to be executive decisions made that aren't going to be easy. For instance, I'm debating fixing the slow beginning by starting off with the attack on Cargill's house by Talanturos, then going back in time to the beginning. I'm also trying to figure out how to work more of the descriptives into the action, or into other areas where they won't bog the story down.

If I can get a rewritten manuscript, I can send that off to Pill Hill Press. Then I can start working on "Argiope" for LL Dreamspell.

I've pretty much decided to put short stories on hold unless a good idea presents itself.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Another pic from Renfest. I think this was the best time Rowan has ever had at something like this.

Anyways, back to writing. . .

I have written ten short stories this year. My goal is twelve. Yet now I'm sort of coming up dry when I go to the well. I've got a couple of ideas, but nothing I can put on paper yet. I'm wondering if it's time to start dusting off my novel and novella ideas and looking at them. Why not? I'm going to have to do it anyways. And if a short story gels, I can still do that. I'm still kind of unsure though about risking a goal when I've gotten this close to it. Oh well, I'll think about it.

I called up the first part of my old novel, "The Ways of Khrem," and tried reading through it again. It definitely needs work. Way too much describing and not enough showing. The dialogue really needed help too. It improves as the story goes along, which is at least a good sign as far as that goes. I think it can be rescued, but it's going to take work.

"Argiope" has a much stronger, and better written, beginning . . . but a beginning is all it has.

And "Flight of the Lark" still has a ton of research to be conducted before it can be tackled.

Still, those three are the strongest candidates to resume work on, with the top two leading the pack by a wide margin.

Ah well, back to bed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Day at the Faire

We took the kids to Renfest on Sunday. We made an effort to engage Rowan in the activities more. That definitely had it's rewards

She later got to do the pony ride and she was all smiles.

The trick was keeping her from eating the ammo.

Sigh, nutritional values go out the window at these things.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Weekend Outing With Sheridan

Today we dined at The Loose Caboose. Sheridan had his first chili cheese dog, which he enjoyed very much. So much that he continued eating after he was done by snagging my sausage.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Looks Like Fun

Pill Hill Press is accepting submissions for a Monster Mash anthology. Writing a story involving old classic monsters.

I've got an idea for that.

The Road To Recovery

Yeah, I feel about like that pier . . . but the sickness has passed.

The fever broke yesterday afternoon, and by evening I was able to keep food down. I have done almost nothing but sleep, and I still want to do little but sleep, but I'm on the mend now. Rowan bounced back much faster than I did.

Now I guess I need to start looking forward to writing another story. I'm between stories again, but have been too sick to worry about it much. Now that I'm starting to recover, I need to at least think about getting back to work. At least I have a story out there submitted, so I have that to keep me checking my email.

Lord, I'm tired. And this house has suffered. Thinking about the work I've fallen behind on makes me even tireder. Ah well, the Dallas Cowboy's don't play this weekend so I'll try and recoup my energy today and dedicate this weekend to catching up. I'll have Karla home to help, and that will make things better.

UPDATE: It's now five in the morning and I'm fighting insomnia. This is ridiculous. I went ahead and packed the kids lunches so Karla could get them off to school if I crash before they get up. How can somebody be this tired and not sleep? Bleh! Oh well, I'm going to go to bed anyways and try and think of short stories or plan for next weeks party. If I fall asleep doing that . . . just great.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

One Spot of Good News

The box of discount copies for Middle of Nowhere that I ordered has finally arrived, along with my first ever check for a short story. It was for forty dollars. Not a huge sum of money, but it's still a sale . . . and it's my first check.

So I'll check with Karla to find out about having it framed or something.

Other than that, I'll go back to trying to get over this crud.


Still alive . . . sort of.

Going back to bed.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Just Shoot Me

Yep. Sick again.

And this time it's with something that ain't taking prisoners. I bet I have puked, pooped, and sweated away fifteen pounds of body weight in the past seven hours. I was throwing up stuff I ate the night before last.

Now I can kind of feebly move, and can't get comfortable no matter how I try. I'm feverish, weak, nauseated (still), having to stay close to the bathroom, and even the idea of plain water is evil to my mind. My vocal cords are so burned from all the upchucking that I have no voice at all left.

I feel so bad for Rowan. I'm sure this is what she's got too, she just can't tell us about it. She spent almost all day on the couch, looking miserable.

Sheridan and Karla are still bouncy and healthy, so there is still hope for us.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


The story "The World in Strips" has been submitted to Pill Hill Press for their "Bitter End" anthology.

Fingers are crossed, and the usual stomach butterflies are being squashed. I also refuse to look at the story again because I know I will see a thousand ways it could be improved, and it's too late for that.

On the other hand, it's nice to have something submitted again. Makes checking the email more fun.

Now to change the diaper on the little one . . . who I just smelled go by.

Final Checks

I have been editing "The World in Strips" for the past two days and I'm about done. I've incorporated almost all the corrections that Charlie and Steph recommended, and a few of my own. Now it's really just a matter of working up the nerve to hit that "submit" button.

I'll probably go over it a couple of times more. I still feel the last paragraph is a bit abrupt, and could use one more sentence for purposes of flow and rhythm. Then it's off to the publisher and time for me to get another project underway.

Assuming I can hit that button. Because I know as soon as I do, I will think of six different ways to make the story dramatically better.


Rowan had a tummy upset and fever last night, so she will be staying home with me today. That will cut into my writing. Hopefully she'll be feeling better tomorrow. Poor girl. She can't even tell us she feels yucky. Just walks up to Karla, who was on the couch, and urps on the floor right in front of her. I guess that's communication.

Lots of Rice Chex for her today.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why Projects Get Shelved

The story in the preceding post is most likely heading for the shelf. Actually I like it, and think it has a lot of potential, but it has some problems that are undeniable on second glance.

The main problem is that it sets a situation that isn't suitable for a short story, and right now I'm writing short stories. The situation layed out is going to require me to cover three specific and different time periods if the story is going to be done correctly. I would need to address the time that the photograph was taken, and the events leading up to it . . . the time that the photograph was hidden in the wall, and the events leading up to that . . . and then finally the time and events following the discovery of the photograph in the wall. Each are important and must be done correctly for the story to work.

Doing that in five thousand words or less would be next to impossible.

Oh, I could cram something together but it would pretty much stink on ice. At best it would come across as a compromise without any real buildup, pacing, or depth. Exactly the kind of thing I don't want attached to me if possible.

So I will spare "Daguerreotype" a little more thought while I finish editing "The World in Strips", but it is likely to be put on the shelf so I can get another short story started.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Another Candidate for Shelving?

By D. Nathan Hilliard

Marshall’s arm disappeared almost up to his shoulder into the dark rectangular hole in the old wall.

“Marshall, be careful.” Melanie hovered beside him, “You could have put on some gloves or something, you know. What if there is a rat in there? You should have made a bigger hole so you could see better.”

“I don’t want to remove any more boards than I have to. I imagine this old house appreciates us keeping the damage we inflict in this project to a minimum.”

“Then just leave it alone.”

“No, I can’t. There is something in this wall resting on top of that electrical outlet down there. That’s not safe. You wouldn’t want our new home to burn down around our ears after we just bought it, would you?”

“It’s probably been in there almost a century now. It seems to me if there were any danger of that, it would have already happened.”

Melanie watched him manage a long suffering eye-roll while straining to reach deeper into the hole, and wondered if they taught that at his engineering school. Having met his hopelessly sexist electrical engineering professor once, she could imagine the course now. “Wife Indulgence 101: How to put up with inane suggestions from the female while trying get something done.” But if Marshall actually harbored such thoughts, he diplomatically kept them to himself. Instead, he wedged himself tighter up against the hole and gritted with effort.

“I . . . can . . . juuussssst . . . Got it!”

“What is it?”

“Oh, I see how it is. Now that my arm didn’t get bitten off by a giant wall rat, you’re pure curiosity.”

“Oaf!” she chuckled, “Just pull it up here and let’s see what all the fuss is about. I bet you’re the proud new owner of an old board.”

“I don’t think so. Just give me a minute. It’s a pretty snug fit between these two wall studs, whatever it is, and I’m having to work it up. But I think it’s a painting or something.”

“A painting IN the wall?”

“We’ll know shortly. You might want to take a step back and give me some room. You’re worse than a cat, you know that?”


She primly stepped back, and watched him slowly work whatever lay in the wall back and forth. More of his arm emerged, the sleeve of his sweater covered in cobwebs and dead bug husks. She couldn’t imagine how he could stick his arm down there like that, and grimaced as he changed stance and put his other hand down into the hole as well. Then with a flourish, he pulled a flat oval object out of the hole.


It appeared to be some kind of framed picture, but dust and cobwebs shrouded it. Now completely overcome with curiosity, Melanie didn’t even object as he started brushing the dirt and cobwebs off onto the carpet. She followed him over to the where he lay the thing on the dining room table, and tried to peer over his shoulder without success.

“Oh this is so cool!” he enthused like a kid at Christmas.

Now she tried looking around him. Still no luck.

“What is it? Let me see.”

“It’s an old daguerreotype.”

“A what?”

“A daguerreotype. An old style of photograph they made back in the 1800’s. It looks like three children in a window-seat. One is sleeping and two are reading books. See?”

Melanie finally settled for ducking under his arm and worming her way in to see for herself. She refrained from giving him an elbow to the ribs, despite the look of amusement on his face. She’d get her revenge later. Right now she scrutinized their find.

It was indeed an old picture. Three children occupied a window seat that looked remarkably like the one in the parlor. A dark haired girl in a white night gown lay on the cushioned window seat with her head on a small pillow. She appeared somewhere between eight and twelve. An older girl sat at her feet, dressed in formal Victorian attire and reading a book. Another girl, not quite as old but dressed the same, sat on the floor near the sleeping girls head and also read a book. It had that carefully staged air so common of photographs from that era, with flowers even arranged near the head of the sleeping girl, and Melanie wondered how they got the kids to sit still in such uncomfortable attire for so long. Something about the old photo bothered her, but she couldn’t put a finger on it.

“Marshall, could that be the window in our parlor?”

He held it up to the light, squinting through the grimy glass of the picture frame.

“I do believe you are right, dear. The window itself is different, but the molding looks the same. So does the carving on the window seat. This is quite a find. We can clean it up and hang it in parlor, right near where the photographer must have stood. That would be the perfect touch for an old historic house like this.” He gazed at the photo with obvious delight, “I wonder who those girls were.”

“I don’t know. I’m wondering how the picture ended up in the wall.”


End of Chapter One

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Writing Blind

I'm taking a break from editing "The World in Strips" to start another story. It's one of those cases where I'm making myself write, with only a nebulous idea of where I'm going. The nice thing about doing that is that the scene will often firm up while your writing it. I just finished the first scene and I'm surprisingly happy with it. But now I've reached the point where I'm going to have to sit down and get a clearer idea where the story is going before proceeding further. I have a rough idea, and I know what type of story it is, but I now need to hammer done some of the finer points.

It's Saturday, which means I have the kids at home to myself so writing is coming with difficulty at best. Sheridan is bored and pestering me about what he can do next, and Rowan is bored and getting into everything. Sigh. I need to find them a new movie or something. Karla is late getting home, so she must have gotten hung up at the office. I still have to figure out what to make for dinner tonight.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Taking It Easy and Appreciating the Important Things

I did a little bit of editing today, but there is a lot more to go. It being a first draft, my critiquers found plenty for me to fix, and I have a couple of thoughts of my own where I think things need a little more expanding. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

Then I read more of The Middle of Nowhere anthology that has my story, Storm Chase, in it. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the way that anthology came out. The other stories are good, and the cover is great. If I have any concerns whatsoever with it, it would probably be with the font. Courier just isn't a font I would consider for a book. It's not awful or anything like that, but it does give it a sort of "printerish" quality. New Times Roman would have worked better. All in all though, I'm very happy with the end product.

Sheridan proudly announced he had written his first story when I picked him up from school. It reads as follows . . .

"The Cake.

Once upon a time there was a bakerey. That baked cakes. But one day the bakerey lost control and made the cakes old and noone wanted anymore. They tried to fix it but it was so hard they could not fix it. But one day they did fix it and everyone did like them."

Now picture that scrawled in pencil over half a sheet of paper. It may not be much, but it's a first. And not bad for a six year old only two months into first grade. He was quite excited about it and read it to me before we left the school house. Then he informed me he still intended to be an astronaut, just so I didn't get any crazy ideas about him becoming a writer instead.

Works for me :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Let The Editing Begin

Now that critiques are starting to come back for "The World In Strips," the editing process can begin.

It's funny how different people pick up on different problems. And both are accurate. Stephie found punctuation errors and some redundant and unnecessary verbiage that will need removing, while Charlie spotted my "word" that I was repeating beyond all reason. Two of them actually. Thank you, ladies. I will be remedying that soon.

I will start editing after getting the kids off to school, as that will give more time for Robs critique to arrive as well. I'm actually fairly pleased with this story, especially as I had such low feeling for it when I began writing it.

I struggled with it, then once I passed a certain point it just took off on it's own. That's the way it works sometimes, which is why I always advise the old "just sit down and start producing sentences" strategy. You may have to fight it for a while, but it will come. Now I just have to make myself live by those words more often. It's always easier said than done, but that's why I make a point of doing it.

Oh well, once I get this one edited and sent off, that will leave two left to reach my goal. Things are looking good.

It Happens Every Time

While I'm on the topic of writing. Here is an important editing tip. It's vital to have somebody else, preferably more than one, critique your work. If for no other reason than to find the word you went crazy with.

I do it every time. Every story I write, I will have some word that I will get hung on and over use in the story. And I'm blind to it. No matter how many times I proofread the work, I will not see that word. Sometimes it's really bad to. Painfully obvious to whoever is proofreading my work, and wondering what my problem is. But it happens, and not just to me. I personally know other professional authors who have the same problem.

So watch out for that. There may be a word that you can't see, lurking in your manuscript and waiting to embarrass you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Another Notch Carved

I have put the period on the final sentence of the first draft of "The World in Strips." That makes short story number ten. It still needs some editing, and I've handed copies off to Steph and Charlie (and I'll mail one to Rob also, if he's interested). There is a bit of a time crunch on this one, as the anthology it was written for will close this month.

Anyways. Two more to go.

Getting It Down

This is sort of a "part 2" to yesterdays blog entry. I want to focus on what I think is one of the most important things I listed yesterday. The thing I listed first.

Writing the story.

This is the hardest part a lot of people face. And it's the most critical part of the whole enterprise.

Getting that first draft written.

Until you have something to work with, you don't really need to know anything else about the business. It doesn't matter who you know, what your marketing strategy is, what wonderful story ideas you have, or what you business plan is. You have to write that first draft before any of the rest of that can matter. And sometimes that can seem like the most overwhelming obstacle.

Sometimes you have to force yourself to write. I know I do. Sometimes I have to make myself sit down and type out a sentence. Then make another sentence follow that, and then another sentence follow that, without any real idea where I'm going yet. But sometimes that's what it takes to get something written. Inspiration is great, it really is, but I've written stuff just as good by the process I just mentioned. It's grinding, and it feels like you are stepping off a cliff with a blindfold on, but it does work. And success in this game is holding a first draft at the end of the process.

I doesn't matter if it's that good. It doesn't really matter if it stinks on ice. It's a starting point . . . which is something you didn't have before you started writing. You are writing on a computer, not chiseling on stone. You can change things and make them better. You are not committed to anything in that draft until you submit it to a publisher. And many times second or third ideas are way better than the first ones. That's why there are second and third drafts. I usually don't submit until I'm on my third or fourth draft. But you have to get that first one written before any of the rest can happen.

So sit down. Face that white page. And type that first sentence. Then follow it with a second. And then a third. And keep going.

See where you end up.

Monday, October 5, 2009

On Writing

A friend of mine asked me to blog on what I have learned about writing, and getting published, on this blog. So, in order to honor that wish, here are some of the things I have learned in my vast eleven months of writing experience.

1. Get it written. Nothing else is going to matter until you have a story. You can't fix it, improve it, sell it, show it off, submit it, or anything else until you can hold it in your hand. Don't even worry about how bad it may come out. First drafts are supposed to be bad. Just get it on paper, and on your hard drive.

2. Get to know other writers. Getting to know the other people in the writing business will help make what you are doing seem more possible. And you can absorb things they have learned in your interactions with them. Actually knowing other people who do it can give you the confidence to do it yourself instead of thinking of it as something done by the likes of Stephen King in his rarified heights.

3. Research your market. Learn who is out there and what they are accepting. Duotrope is a good place to start. Preditors and Editors is another good site to check out. Sometimes when you know who is accepting what kind of stories, you can write towards that. Also knowing a deadline for submissions can be a motivator.

4. Editing, editing, editing. No matter how many times you go over a story, you are going to miss something. Always have a couple of other people who know a little something about grammer or writing go over it too. You will always have blind spots in regards to your own works. Just accept that, and plan accordingly. Getting a story critiqued is a necessary part of the business. Repeatedly if possible. Many publishers will reject a great story over simple things like spelling or grammer errors. Don't give them that chance.

5. Learn about passive voice, and how to minimize it.

6. I started by writing a novel. It got rejected, and deservedly so. I learned a lot in the process of writing that, but it was a heck of a time intensive waste of a way to learn. You might want to start with short stories to get your feet wet.

There's more, but thats enough for now.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Lousy Day

Had a 24 hour stomach virus. The Dallas Cowboys lost. I didn't get any writing done.


I did go see Zombieland last night (before getting sick and urping up all my popcorn later that night) If you like horror comedy, this is probably the best that has come out in years. Tallahassee is the role that Woody Harrelson will probably be remembered for from now on. The other actors were replaceable, but Emma Stone is cute. (Yeah, I know . . . I know . . . I'm too old to be noticing that stuff)

I'm feeling better now . . . both because I seem to no longer be sick and the lousy day is over. Oh well, as the song goes . . .

"Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love you, tomorrow! You're only a day awaaaayyyy!"

Saturday, October 3, 2009


"Rendered Verdict" has been accepted by LL Dreamspell for their "Dreamspell Revenge" anthology.

That is my seventh short story sold this year, out of the nine I have written so far.

Cool :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Book Break

While waiting for my authors copies of "The Middle of Nowhere" to arrive, I went ahead and bought one from myself. It arrived today, and I've decided to stop everything and sit down and read it. It's kind of weird actually holding a book that has a story of mine in it. I've never done that before.

The house is also a mess since I let the kids get ahead of me while I wrote yesterday. Top that off with my raggedy old computer chair missing a wheel, a TV that takes minutes to warm up, and other offenses against my sense of a proper environment . . . and I'm in a home improvement frame of mind.

Time to buy a new chair.

I know just the place to look too. I noticed a home and furniture store in the mall having a 40% off sale on all merchandise today. I think it might be worth a look tomorrow when I go back to get some new eyeglasses.

A Little Better

I got some writing done yesterday. Not a whole lot, but enough where the day wasn't an entire waste in that department. I managed to move the story along and got past my first big hurdle in it. So progress is progress.

Today, I need to go shopping for eyeglasses since Rowan broke my backup pair. Since I need glasses to drive, owning just one pair is living dangerously. So my morning is already scheduled for me. Alas, I usually take advantage of Karla being home and sleep in on Friday morning. Today it's not to be. That leaves the afternoon for any writing I might get done. It's possible, but I'm also watching kids at the same time. That slows me down in a big way.

The diet goes on. I think I'm beginning to push through the brain fog a little bit. I need to drop by Target after the visit to Eyemasters and pick me up a precooked turkey breast. Those make for nice, easy low carb snacks. Yum.

Oh well, back to bed with me.

UPDATE: Couldn't get the new glasses. When I got to the mall, I discovered that Eyemaster didn't open till 10. Then at ten oclock, a bunch of faster people got in ahead of me. Since I needed to be home by a little after eleven, there was no point in staying. I'll just have to find a day when there is somebody to watch Rowan, and I can take the time needed.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Writers Night Out

I went out to Denny's last night with Cheri Galbiati. She has been busy lately, fighting off the flu and trying to edit her novel, so it's been a while since we've done our writer's night out.

Thanks to my new diet, no cheesy fries for me. I had a salad and stevia sweetened coffee. Lots of coffee. On the bright side, it was good to have another writer go over some of my recent stuff and give an opinion. She had some useful pointers for "Flight of the Lark."

Hopefully, I'll start to feel the effects of the new diet soon . . . other than the newly upset stomach. That always happens when I first start these low carb diets. Then I adjust and everything is fine.

Now lets hope I can get a little writing done when I get up. I had hoped to have the first draft of my creek story done by October, but that is obviously no longer possible. I just got blocked, and it hasn't been coming. I know what's supposed to happen, I just have to translate the story in my head into words on the computer. Maybe if I can get the gluten out of my system, it will come.

I just realized that the ranch dressing on the salad at Denny's almost certainly had gluten in it. Crap! Oh well, I just ordered a couple bottles of GFCF ranch dressing online. I can at least still have my salads. (I still can't believe I've reached the point in my life where I typed the previous sentence with a straight face) I'll just have to limit myself to nothing but drinks at Denny's.