Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Month of Writing Short-Stories…And Still Going Strong

Remember my new year’s resolution to write one short-story a week for the entire year? Well, glad to report that I’ve written four so far and am still progressing nicely with my plan of completing one per week. So what have I been writing about?

Everything. Actually, I’ve written several short-stories inspired by my home town of San Francisco, and have been pleased with the results considering I’ve never really written about the city before. On top of that I’m continuing to write historical fiction, but I’ve also found that writing these short-stories has actually helped improve my novelistic writing as well by driving me to get to the point sooner in a narrative and maintain the tension throughout a scene.

So what short-fiction have you been writing lately? Do you ever write about your hometown or your locality? Has writing a different kind of fiction ever helped you improve your overall writing experience?   

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

A couple of fellow bloggers were kind enough to pass on their Versatile Blogger Award to me, so in turn would like to pass it on and highlight some of the other awesome blogs out there I checkout every week. As part of the award, you’re supposed to list a few things about yourself, so here it goes… 

1.       - My aunt first took me on a backpacking adventure through Europe when I was 15, and I have been an avid shoestring backpacker, traveler, explorer ever since.

2.       - I got my B.A. in History and English and then my M.A. in English at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, also where I met my beautiful wife!

3.       - I take part in Civil War reenactments (for the North) where I get to relive history in front of spectators, and also it’s fun to shoot off lots of black powder on a hot summer’s day.

4.       - Every year I grow lettuce, corn, pumpkins, tomatoes, sunflowers, and whatever else I feel like in my backyard…I also enjoy eating it and giving the rest away to friends and family, so if you want some next fall just let me know;)

5.       - I’m an avid sailor and crew on schooners and sloops on San Francisco Bay with my dad and other fellow “salts” whenever I get a chance.  

Now I’d like to pass on this great award to some of my most favorite blogs below. I think they all rock and I’m sure you will think so too. Check them out!

1.       .W.I.P. It
2.       Alex J. Cavanaugh
3.       Bards and Prophets
5.       David Powers King
6.       Emily R. King
7.       HATTATT
8.       in Media Res
9.       J.A. Bennett

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Maps in a Novel: An Improvement or a Curse?

How would you navigate Tolkien’s Middle Earth without a map in the index? Could you imagine George R.R. Martin’s saga minus detailed charts of Westeros? But when is a map useful in a book and when is it a crutch for the author?

I’m a big fan of maps in books, although I’ll admit it works better in certain genres than others, i.e. Fantasy versus Literary fiction. However, I’ve found that I prefer not to use maps in my own stories as I often find it a symptom of an overly complicated plot. For instance, because the plot of Mists of Avalon is so well told, I don’t need a map to understand the differences between Camelot and Tintagel, whereas I’ve found the galactic maps in Star Wars fiction baffling to the point that I don’t even use them.

What do you think about using maps in a novel? When is it a good idea, and when is it a sign that the storyline can’t stand on its own? How do you approach the use of maps in your work writing?     

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stop SOPA and PIPA

Those of you who have gone on Wikipedia and Google in the past couple days have undoubtedly seen protests against the proposed SOPA and PIPA bills going through Congress. While I’m sure these bills were well intentioned they will prove detrimental to the Tech Industry in which I work and cripple many of the exiting sites and services we all cherish and use on the web by limiting what information can be displayed and shared online.

I have already written to my local representative in Congress and the Senate in an effort to join the groundswell of supporters petitioning for the removal of this bill or at the very least obtaining a vote of “Nay” when it comes onto the House and Senate floors in late January. Please join me and the thousands who have already made their voice heard by signing an online petition or writing an email to your local representatives. 

It’s easy to make your voice heard and only takes a few minutes of your time. Google has an easy to join online petition and Wikipedia will provide links to your representatives’ websites simply by inputting your zip code. Please choose to keep the internet the free and open community that we have come to love and enjoy. Thank you.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Star System on Goodreads…And Why I Sometimes Catch Flak

Have you joined Goodreads? Love keeping track of all the books you’ve read and posting reviews? Learn about what to read next based on what your friends are reading?

I’ve been on Goodreads a while and love it as a means of keeping track of all I’ve read. However, I catch some flak sometimes because of the way I apply the star rating system. I understand lots of people like to give books 4 to 5 stars to books they’ve read, but for myself, I rate the “average” book with 3 stars and I only apply 4 to 5 stars for extraordinary books, like the Iliad or LOTR or the Bible. I see it as a matter of personal taste, but I’ve had some authors get angry with me for not giving their book 5 stars, even though I literally only have a dozen books I’ve ever given 5 stars and a few dozen more I’ve ever given four stars.

How do you use the star rating system on Goodreads? Have you ever had an author get displeased with your review of one of their books? How do you balance politeness with honesty?  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Great Advice from Fellow Writers…Write More!

Last week when I put up a post for Insecure Writer’s Day I mentioned how I’m waiting to hear back from agents who have partials or full versions of my manuscript. Needless to say, it can be a bit of a debilitating process and a forced lesson in patience. But fortunately my fellow bloggers/writers came to the rescue with a simple and wise suggestion…write something else for a while!

Indeed, I have taken the advice to heart by working on completing one short-story a week, which is progressing nicely. In addition, I’ve even begun another historical novel on a time period favorite of mine, the age of buccaneers and piracy. Oddly enough, the more I write these days the more I seem to be able to write and I’m particularly enjoying not only having the muse speak to me, but all this writing also really helps take my mind off the manuscript I’m currently circulating with agents.

So a big thanks to all you awesome bloggers/writers for your heartfelt suggestions, they really work! It also really helps that some intrepid authors have volunteered to swap stories with me, providing each other invaluable feedback. So, how do you typically get your mind off the business aspect of the publishing business and focus back on the writing that matters the most to you?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Writing Short-Stories

I’d like to thank Milo Fowler for inspiring me to start writing short-stories again. He recently concluded a year-long quest of writing one short-story per week for one whole year. He got the idea from Ray Bradbury who suggested authors should try to write one short-story a week for a single year in order to improve their writing. 

Ray famous dared writers to compose 52 bad short-stories in a year, claiming that it couldn’t be done. If you stick to the game plan you’re bound to start coming up with something good. Milo himself has had several of is short-stories from last year published and has proved Bradbury’s point for certain. 

I began with the first of the year and already have one story complete and will work on another this week. It may not be easy, but I intend to give it a shot for an entire year. How about you, are you game for challenging yourself to a year of short-stories?