Category Archives: Work Related

Disasters and Drama–Take Your Pick

For those who’ve wondered what happened to me, here’s the long and short of it.

My desktop PC went into death throes and left me stranded with only an older laptop which wasn’t anti-virus protected. I had to buy a new computer. I got a new laptop, which had Windows 10, of course. The data from my desktop was in the hands of the Geeks, trying to recover as much as possible. My writing life was on that hard drive.

Well, poor, apologetic Geeks saved as much as possible to my external hard drive, but of my dozens of file folders, they could only retrieve A thru C. That meant I only had one novel, out of five, saved in its entirety. Four novels existed now in bits and pieces on flash drives or  in hard copy.

That’s four FINISHED novels awaiting final revisions, plus the entire plotline arc of the Wisher’s World Series.

Now you know why I’ve ben MIA. But, it gets better. Because of the new laptop and the old one, we had to get a new WiFi package upgrade (at a reduced price thought), a new modem and new router. It didn’t work. We had to wait several days for a tech to come to the house.

After that glitch was fixed (the new router was no good and had to be replaced), my new laptop decided to scare me half to death and go into hide mode where I could neither turn it off or turn it on. Yes, the gremlins had taken over my office and were playing hardball. A quick trip back to the Geeks had me up and running again. It seems that my computer has a major hibernation moe that required determination for circumvention of internal sleep mode.

That brought me to a few days ago. I was so stressed out by then and so fed up with trying to decipher Windows 10 that I let the new laptop sit and wait for me to deal with it. I went into distraction and escape mode for a few days. Today, I began tackling the arduous process of learning Windows 10, installing Office 10 again, and trying to get the app installed that will allow me to listen to music and watch movies on this new computer.

Oh, yes, that’s the other frustration. It seems that many of the new computers don’t come with media player anymore. You have to purchase one so you can use the DVD drive on said machine.

Now can you understand why communications hae been so difficulty for me lately? I pray you don’t have the problems I’ve had to deal with lately. Hopefully you won’t have to customize vision/audio settings to accommodate needs. Just finding the settings on Win10 that you want is a visual nightmare. It was not really designed to be user-friendly for the visually impaired.

So, that’s my current tale. Disaster in terms of time and data lost. Drama for the frustration and hair-pulling I’ve been faced with.

So, I’ve had my rant. I’ve gotten little done beyond that. I’ve gotten one short story revised–one written as part of a novel during November’s NaNo. I’ll be subbing it shortly to one of those lovely markets that actually pay for stories.

In the meantime, I’ll kep working on learning this new computer and its infuriating system. I’ll try hard to get back to you sometimes during this coming week with something other than grumbling.

It you have personal horror stories of your journey through Computerland, drop them into a comment below.

Have a great week, folks.

FLAFIWRIMO Flash Fiction Update

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Yes, there are two February challenges on my calendar; the FLAFIWRIMO flash fiction story-a-day challenge over at Wordsmith Studio and my write-in group’s annual February Writing Dash of 15K words new writing or thirty hours revision/editing work on previous material.

Each day is a sprint, especially when there’s also a six-member critique group in the mix working on something totally separate from the challenges. Today has been a major writing day for me.

Four flash fiction stories were done today because I got behind on that challenge. I still managed 2700 words on those four. This post will add a few more. Revision work will be for later and I’ll get an hour’s worth done before bed.

Tomorrow is critique work, another ff story, and more revision. On top of that is a study session to learn a new voice recognition program and time to put the finishing touches on my newsletter for the month.

Yes, I know it’s running a bit behind. It will get done and sent out shortly and then will come once a month, every month.

Just so that you’ll know that I’m really writing, I’m gone to give you tiny excerpts from the rough draft stories I did today. Here you go.

FLAFIWRIMO Day 5 Story

… I’m ready. Nothing can stop me taking my position in the middle of the pack. My teammates, helmets back in place, give me a small bow as I join them. The defensive players shake their heads and begin to laugh.

They don’t laugh long.

As the defense moves onto the scrimmage line, I wave at each player. That’s always my first engagement with the enemy.

It generally causes confusion. The action makes them wonder why I’m being so friendly. They don’t notice the slight air current rolling their way from my fingertips.

By the time my helmet is secured, the first rank of opponents have elbowed each other. The distraction gains momentum. Slurs and snarls begin to pass back and forth down the line ,,.

FLAFIWRIMO Day 6 Story

Being cursed isn’t the worst thing in the world. Believe me. I know.

About a year ago, I bought a lottery ticket. One of the big jackpots was up for the taking and I was feeling lucky that week. I bought only the one ticket. And it had all the numbers.

I’d signed an anonymity request to keep my name out of the media, as well.

To be honest, however, I think it was that request that did me in. I wasn’t worried about getting taken to the cleaners financially by friends and family. I worked for the IRS as an auditor. I knew about how much that agency would try to skim off the top and every year thereafter …

 FLAFIWRIMO Day 7 Story

The corpse lay, stiff and smelly, on the back porch of the Layton’s house. Mr. Layton had found it a half hour before. The man seemed most distressed about the situation.

“I can’t even salvage the meat,” the fisherman grated between clenched teeth. “Who, or whatever, stripped it, left all the fresh and took only bony parts and the scales.”

Sheriff Westle was known for being a stickler for detail.

“Well, Lester, I don’t think this has a high enough priority to warrant wasting my time on it.”

Three days after the fish carcass fiasco on the Layton- porch, Sheriff Westle was called to the home of Jasper Connors. In the Connors backyard were the remains of a large boar raccoon. The carcass had been expertly skinned, leaving behind undisturbed flash, supported by the entire skeleton …

FLAFIWRIMO Day 8 Story

Red-soled shoes—they’re all the rage, right? Okay, so they’re expensive and subtly ostentatious.  For some of me, though, they’re camouflage.

I can take my entertainment almost anywhere now without comment or suspicion. Especially, if I add a sleek briefcase to my ensemble. I’m in public relations during the day. I’m into self-gratification on my own time.

… Throughout dinner he laughed lightly at my witticisms, flirted undercover of his banter, and generally made me feel very female.

Of course, his flirtation was his downfall, too. I don’t get roused lightly, but he’d managed to rouse me easily and kept it up after his business partner left us for the evening. It didn’t take much persuasion on my part to convince the young man to escort me home.

When he left my place on the upper West Side, his memory had been cleaned of any unpleasantness. He would be a bit weak for a few days, but his contribution to my health would be replenished.

Now before you even think it, that last one has nothing to do with vampires and everything to do with those red-soled shoes. Okay, so there’s a bit more to it than that, but you take my meaning.

And that’s where I’ll leave you for today. Take a break. Write something totally outside your comfort zone. Me, I don’t often move into the macabre, but it’s refreshing when I do and recharges my Muse.

If you’d like to share an excerpt here from one of your own stories, drop it in a comment below.

Enjoy the rest of the week and I’ll see you again soon. TTFN

 

 

 

Resolutions, Intentions, Challenges, and Reality

Mistakes photo

Are you on the New Year’s Resolution band wagon? Did you make resolutions and already break them? Yeah, I hear ya.

I set all of my goals for 2016 in December and was actually proud of them.  All of 2016 was mapped out. It’s funny how that calendar’s worth of work flies out the window of reality,

Life happens to all of us. Thank the heavens we still have one. Realizing that our desires and plans are just that, not life and death decisions, is part of coping with reality.

Circumstances change and we must adapt or perish.

Western MontanaMost people know that my vision was very limited to begin with. I had adapted to continually diminishing visual abilities. December changed all.

But my attitude and adaptive skills were rusty from complacency and habit. The past several weeks forced me to step back and regroup.

Progressive macular degeneration drives in the express lane. My central vision is rapidly disappearing. I must now unpack all of those voc rehab skills I tucked away in the closet labeled “Learned” and dust them off for renewed use.

My nemesis is the need to slow down and map out movements before the muscles leap into action. That hesitation is more necessary than ever.

But most of all, the mental processes needs to take center stage. So many factors influence every decision, every plan. Also the possibility of dependence on others takes on monster proportions for a normally strong, independent person.

Time is money concept with clock and coins

The mystery novel that should’ve been ready for final edit and a February release isn’t through  revision yet. The work takes tons more time and effort than ever before.

If work slows down that much, what about the three other manuscripts waiting in the wings for their revisions and editing? How long will it take to do those?

Fear of never getting my other stories ready for launch haunts me. And I have so much new work done last November to think about, too.

Enter common sense and calm reflection

abstract_2008012903-1113int.epsAfter much deep breathing and meditation, only one conclusion surfaced.

As is true of everyone, I can do only what I can do. If it takes three times as long to finish a book, that’s what it takes. Trying to push harder, work longer hours, etc. only creates strain, frustration, and burnout.

Tools are available to aid in this journey’s next stage. Practicing with those tools while working on each project can bring completion.

Perfectionism and self-expectations may rear its nasty head, but patience and constant reality checks can tame that beast. Patience doesn’t always dispel the frustration, but it can help make it bearable.

English Knight Fighting Dragon England Flag RetroThe new intentions are simple. I will attack  revision work on the mystery—two hours per day. Another novel will also get an obligatory two hours work. One hour will go toward getting a short story ready for submission to contests or magazines each week.

The rest of the day will be devoted to learning new tools and realigning my daily life. A blog post per week for each website will find its way into the mix. Everything else is gravy.

All of my former intentions—better known as “goals”—are out the window for now. Once I’ve made more progress with adjusting work and life to fit in the new visual challenge, I’ll know how to plan for the rest of the year.

So, tell me. Have new challenges cropped up to wreak havoc with your 2016 goals, resolutions, or intentions? If so, drop a comment below and share. It always helps to lessen a burden or concern.

 

 

Confession Time

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Okay, peeps. 2016 is both at the top of the calendar and on the clock. Let’s face it. Last year, for many of us, was both a challenge and a disappointment. It’s time to switch things up and make things better.

director-chair-business-cartoons-vectors_GyG7my_OThat’s why I’ve decided to do something totally different this year. Firstly, I’m going to start putting out a monthly newsletter in February. For any who don’t wish to get it you’ll have the option to opt out once it’s up and running.

Next on the docket is a weekly post with an excerpt from one of the stories I’m working on

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

at the moment. Right now, that could be from any of four different novel-length manuscripts. I might even ask for suggestions or criticisms on the excerpt of the day. I haven’t decided yet.

Lastly, I’m going to write one confession piece each month. It won’t be salacious, but it will reveal something about me that few know. It’s not about exhibitionism. It’s about connection between me and my readers. As human beings, we all share common experiences occasionally. I, for one, like to know that I’m not the only one treading deep waters or falling down and skinning my knees.

And since I haven’t got the newsletter ready yet, and I’m hip deep in revision mode and wish a break from it, I’ve chosen the confession for this week’s post. Here goes.

Errant Thoughts and Where They Take Us

Somewhere between sleeping and waking, a twilight period exists for all of us. Whether at night or in the morning, our minds fall down the tunnel of free thought, without direction or intent.

 The experience is different from daydreaming, for the thoughts scatter to the mental winds, never pausing longer than it takes for a butterfly to drink the nectar of a flower blossom.

Once in a while I have one of these stray shooting-star thoughts bring me into full wakefulness, ready for action. The driver of that action is curiosity—not just about where such a thought or image came from, but also to ask myself if I’ve ever encountered it before.

View over the stone desert of Hudson Bay, Canada, during low tide with rocks and stones in the tidal pools

View over the stone desert of Hudson Bay, Canada, during low tide with rocks and stones in the tidal pools

Take the other morning as an example. I woke, slightly dazed, from a sound sleep. Two words and an image greeted the inside of my eyelids, in bold type and a strong sense of imperiousness: OWL RIVER

I knew I’d never heard of an Owl River, which presaged the question as to why it would wake me.  I couldn’t resist the compulsion to find out what it meant. I got up and flicked on the computer. Google is a wonderful tool.

Owl River exists at the top of the world, emptying into the Hudson Bay at the far northern edge of Manitoba, Canada, near Churchill.  Okay, so now I had its location. But the question remains as to why the place would pop up and wake me.

Churchill Polar Bear Survey

Churchill Polar Bear Survey

Question: did I have any connection to the river? Answer: no. Did I have any connection to someone else with a connection? Answer: Yes, actually. About twenty years ago, I worked with and learned from a man who went to Churchill to film an annual polar bear study. My friend was a nature documentary filmmaker.

Question: had I heard anything about Churchill lately to trigger the reference? Answer: I’d heard

Western Hudson Bay, Manitoba, Canada

Western Hudson Bay, Manitoba, Canada

only that the town had had more trouble than ever with polar bears because of melting sea ice and shortened freeze time in the Artic. The bears weren’t leaving after the autumn snows began.

Question: did I have any connection with Manitoba in general? Answer: only that I’d had a friend in the late ‘80’s who lived in Dauphin, five hours north-northwest of Winnipeg. I’d not heard from her in years.

So, where does that leave me? Well, if I take the paranormal route of thought, there are possible answers. Either there’s something happening with Frank or with my Canadian friend, Danika. Or, there might be something newsworthy up on Hudson Bay around the mouth of the Owl River.

On the other hand, it could be a simpler answer. A fragment of dream, unremembered, triggered memory associations I’m unaware of and the reference simply popped out to startle me at waking.

Take your pick, as to which is more plausible. Personally, I like the paranormal answer, but then, I’m weird that way.

Regardless of the true reason, I believe that many people have experiences similar to my early morning wake up call. I also believe that sometimes, we get messages from an unknown place. Whether we recognize them or not, these messages find us and ring a bell for attention.

If you’ve had something similar happen, drop a comment below and share it with the rest of us. Until next week; take notes, write often, and save a place in your world for wonder.

\ Writers’ Holidays and Year’s End

NaNoWriMo SWinner Badge won_earned

The annual writers’ holidays have begun. Thanksgiving and Black Friday, as always, divided November into days of humming along nicely on NaNoWriMo projects and those days of panicked scrambling to finish a planned novel by the end of the month. Turkey Day sneaks up on writers much of the time, due to the writing frenzy.

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-004Once that frenzy ends in success or a learning exercise, eyes and minds look ahead to tree trimming, Christmas carols, egg nog, and gift wrapping. Between those activities are the actual shopping trips, decision-making sessions on when guests are coming to town, where everyone will sleep, and who’s cooking what for the groaning board.

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-009Let’s face it. From Thanksgiving past New Year’s Day come a series of weeks that many writers might want to ignore or run from. Others revel in the idea of having the perfect excuse to turn off the creative brain and the computer in favor of diving into festivities that have nothing to do with writing. Regardless of which camp you’ve joined this year, preparations are being made on the editorial calendars of editors and writers everywhere.

The end of the year marks a point of reviewing accomplishments. Questions are asked. Did I get the projects done that I really wanted to? Did I expand my market reach? Could I have submitted more fiction or articles? The list can get really long.

Analysis

I decided to go through my list here. Otherwise, I probably won’t get to it.

  1. Did I accomplish the fiction projects I wanted to? No. I didn’t get Dreamie’s Box revised and edited. I now must wrangle with it in December. I also didn’t get another chapbook done and published on Kindle or get the cookbook done.
  2. Was I satisfied with what I did accomplish? Yes. I enjoyed my chapbooks that went onto Kindle and I really like the first volume of Wisher’s World.
  3. Are projects going as quickly as I’d anticipated? No, definitely not. I feel like I’m wading in thick mud most of the time, which encourages me to feel like I’m fighting a constant battle.
  4. Did I accomplish all of the article writing and submissions that I’d planned? Yes. I got out all planned articles and continue to contribute three pieces each month to Working Writers Club.
  5. Have I expanded my horizons with either fiction or non-fiction? Yes. I now have several fiction projects to revise and edit in the coming months—novella/novel length, plus short stories for magazine/competition submission. I’ve also gathered a long list of new magazine and journal markets, plus small presses.
  6. Have I developed my 2016 Editorial Calendar properly? No, not yet. I still have to go through the new markets (with their guidelines) and flag those I have material for already and those that require major pitches.
  7. Have I gathered all of the new tools I will need for the next year and begun the learning curve? Yes, I’ve gathered, but I have barely scratched the surface of that learning process.

5b6-052714-akpNow, I can move on to prepping for any holiday activity that needs it and take care of obligations for the month.

I have one assignment done already—I whipped it out during NaNo. I have two planned articles to write before Monday. I have titles and outlines for them. The same goes for all the articles due through April. My calendar will help me fill in the rest for 2016.

Fiction is something else. Again this year, I’ll concentrate on what I already have on the hard drive. That alone will keep me busy for the year. I will also work on more poetry in coming months. I’m planning two revision jobs per month—a long and a short, plus a poetry chapbook every other month. Some will go to Kindle, while others go to publishers. I plan on doing at least one extra article per week as well.

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-019We’ll see how that goes. I’ve already decided to plan relaxation time and a fluid enough calendar to allow for spontaneous relaxation, like daytrips. And there you have it.

That’s my current plan. What’s yours? Have you decided how you’re going to work for the next year? Have you looked back at where you’ve been and how you traveled the road from there to where you are now?

Drop a comment below and share with the rest of us. Until next time, have a fantastic rest of the week. I’ll be back.

Motivation Leads to Motion 

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A story, an article, an essay or poem all begin with motivation. All move forward because of it.

The concept of motivation is defined as follows:

  • verb to motivate: to give (someone) a reason for doing something: to be a reason for (something).
  • The noun motivation: the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something: the act or process of motivating someone: the condition of being eager to act or work: the condition of being motivated: a force or influence that causes someone to do something.
  • Motive: NOUN: something that causes a person to act in a certain way, do a certain thing, etc.; incentive’ the goal or object of a person’s actions:(in art, literature, and music) a motif. ADJECTIVE; causing, or tending to cause, motion; pertaining to motion.
  • The noun motion: the act or process of moving or of changing place or position; movement.
  • By reference, the noun emotion can be defined as any mental state which provokes a reaction or response in the body or behavior of an individual.

A single act creates adjacent questions. Example: Someone lied. What was the motive for the lie? Or, what motivated the person to lie? What was his/her motivation for lying? Did someone else influence the decision to lie?

You see what I mean. A single concept, always leading back to itself. You may ask what this has to do with writing. A lot, actually.

Writers are often asked “Why do you write? What motivates you to write every day? What’s your motivation for working in only one genre or many genres? In the end, what the writer is being asked the same question.

Writers deal in motive with every sentence they put on paper. For some, personal motives drive the writer to impart information for instructional purposes or to relate recent events. Academics and journalists are both highly motivated people. Each also has outside influences that put pressure on their internal motives.

Yet, for all that, what they write also imparts a milder form of motive; the importance of the material involved. The work may be critical for understanding a process or a theory. At the same time, the immediacy of a journalist’s report can have many influences and influencing properties. Political commentary, for instance, both tells of influences within politics, while attempting to swing the reader toward a particular opinion simultaneously.

Crazy, huh?

When you look at poets, fiction writers and creative non-fiction writers, motivation spreads its wings and flies. Not only do the writers have their own motivations—for writing, for telling a specific story, or using a specific subject—but they also must deal with fluctuating motivations within the body of the work they’re doing. For fiction writers, in particular, this requires personal motivations and those of each of the story’s characters.

And if you believe that memoirists have it easier, think again. They have personal motives for writing a specific memoir piece at that moment and the motivations they experienced at the time of the actual event about which they’re writing. Also, they’re required to acknowledge (either internally or on the page) all of the motivations that lead up to and away from the event.

Movement is never just forward or backward. Lateral movement takes a slice of time and effort, as well. Writers are often on the lateral plain with one project, while taking steps forward on others. During revision and editing, movement is both forward and backward.

When you think about the mechanics of motivations and motives, the world starts spinning. We do this juggling act on a subconscious level most of the time. It comes naturally. Consider daydreaming. That pastime is a deliberate invention of motivations and responses. Fiction is no different. Allowing ourselves to sink into a memory—pleasant or not—is the same, except more emotionally charged.

My motives? Some days, instruction stands at the head of the class. Other days, pure invention sends shivers of delight down my arms to create gooseflesh thrills. Right now, I’m moving in four directions: forward with NaNoWriMo, backward with revision, laterally with research, and up because of the high I’m getting from the creative process I’m in at the moment.

So, tell me. Do you know your motivations for writing, for reading, for spinning tales at the local pub? Are you moving forward or backward, or have you chosen to remain lateral for a while? Drop a note in the comment section and tell me.

If any are interested, you can read two of my recent articles on The Working Writers Club website.

http://www.workingwritersclub.com/11563/freelance-writing-2/flash-fiction-fast-and-furious/

http://www.workingwritersclub.com/11305/magazine-writing-2/how-to-find-nonfiction-markets-if-youre-a-freelance-writer/

Ramping Up for NaNoWriMo

Winner-2014-Web-Banner

Whew. Got Wisher’s World Launched and now it’s time to think NaNoWriMo.

October leaped out of the gate in a whirlwind of editing and formatting the first volume of Wisher’s World, which came out on Cot. 10th. Afterwards, I wrote two articles and  submitted them for columns on Working Writers Club. Wishers World CoverNext, I set up my editorial calendar for the next three months.

Now, I can take a deep breath and begin prepping for NaNoWirMo 2016.

If you’ve never tried NaNo, you might want to challenge yourself to do it this year. Be a rebel if you can’t think of an idea for a novel. What’s a rebel? Well, you’re reading from one of them at the moment. I seldom do a novel. I did one last year for the first time in several years. It’s in revision now.

You see, I’m a rebel. I work NaNo for other purposes than writing a new novel idea. I use the exercise to revise an already-written novel or something else. Trust me. That really does use your time well during the challenge month. I’ve done a book of poetry for the challenge, too.

Book Cover 02This year, though, I’m writing a collection of Flash Fiction stories for the event—one story per day, every day, including Thanksgiving. If you don’t think that’s challenge enough, consider this.

Each day I’ll be plotting, writing, and doing a light revision on a single story. The stories can run from 500 to 1000 words. Each story will be inspired from a single writing prompt. And some of those prompts are normally used for novel ideas.

I won’t be declared a winner at the end of the month. I know that going in. My nimble fingers won’t have churned out 50K words to snag a winner’s badge like I did last year. Instead, I’ll have written a collection of stories that will need little revision or editing for release before the end of the year on Kindle.

Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction WorkerI can pick up my own trophy if, and only if, I put in the back-end work to get the collection ready for a late December release.  That deadline is also a goal. I already have plenty of novels to work on. I don’t need to write another one for a long while.

And there you have it—my personal NaNo challenge. These are the kinds of things that NaNo Rebels do with their time in November and July. It’s not that we’re anti-establishment protesters. It’s that we have other goals and quirks.

I’m fortunate. I have a NaNo group year-round. Our group has expanded and contracted around a core of people for several years now. We write together a couple of times a month, nearly every month of the year. We support each other and even have a critique group of members, which meets regularly. Most of all, we have fun.

004-stock-photo-nRight now, I’m doing prep work to keep me focused on the goals ahead. I’ve chosen my writing prompts for the stories, including a few extra in case one of them doesn’t appeal after all.

I’ve set up my editorial calendar with article deadline dates, topics and titles for my regular column articles for WWC, as well as all the other deadlines that will come between now and the end of the year. Some of those include context deadlines,too.

And this weekend, I’ll put in the time to get my office lined up for the coming frenzy of activity. With more organization, I’ll be better able to make all of my obligations and still have time left over to do those other tasks required for a personal life.

Yep, it’s that time of year when preparation helps keep you sane.

That’s all for now, peeps. I’ll be back again in a few days with something more interesting. I think I may talk about a newsletter idea I’ve been rolling around in my mind. Think about what you might want to see in a regular monthly newsletter and drop your idea in a comment below.

Until then, adios, amigos.

 

Wisher’s World Goes Live

Wishers World Cover

 

My fantasy series on Kindle has emerged in the first volume. Today Wisher’s World, Vol. 1 Composing an Apprentice launched successfully and is available to readers everywhere.

Satisfaction fills me right now. It’s taken many months to get this novel ready for public display. The final hurdle came along when my computer system corrupted my final revision copy and I had to start all over again from a beta reader’s copy. The debacle added more than a month to its writing time.

But that’s all behind me. Here’s a brief excerpt from the book.

Wisher’s World, Vol. 1 Composing an Apprentice

“Strap in, Reibe.” He complied without comment. “Get your gloves on. You’re going to need them. And wrap your scarf around your mouth and nose.” Again he did as he was told. More cheers went up.

Waiting for their turn nearly undid him. And then, before he was ready, Cleone pulled the line to bring the sail taut, as she jerked another line to swing it slightly to the left. The wind caught it.

The boat leaped forward like a wild thing with a wolf on its trail. It picked up speed with every yard gained. The faces of cheering villagers passed in a blur. Reibe kept his eyes closed for a while as they left the compound. The swift turn onto the main road caused his eyes to pop open and, as swiftly, close again, against the swirling landscape of the maneuver. The three leagues to Reston had always seemed to him a lengthy distance. Now, he wasn’t sure.

Cleone held a line in each gloved hand, constantly pulling or slackening on one or the other. He’d finally resolved his trepidation to traveling like this when he heard Cleone’s muffled voice. “Macai’s family farm is coming up on your right.”

By the time he opened his eyes and focused, they’d already passed it. He raised a hand to wave just as Cleone swung the sail to make the gentle curve in the road a few yards beyond the farmstead. He grabbed for the right-hand rail. The tracks made by previous land-boats drew them too far to the left, but their speed didn’t slow.

“Hang on.”

Cleone yanked on a line, forcing them to make a quick turn back to the right. In the process, the boat’s left runner lifted from the snow. They hung suspended and listing to the right at a steep angle and raced forward.

Reibe tried to swallow the gulp he felt as his stomach lurched. His eyes lost focus on the rushing ground. He couldn’t swallow. His tongue got in the way.

Clamping his eyes shut again, Reibe missed seeing the finale. The boat suddenly righted itself with a jar; all three runners on the ground, snow flying in every direction. He peeked to see if they were still on the road. They were.

The eye protectors did their job. They caked with flying snow on occasion, but they kept his eyes safe and intact. His fingers were warm and his feet remained on the ends of his legs. If he could get his heart under control, he might be able to count this as an adventure. …

I hope all of you will get a Kindle copy. The paperback won’t be out for a few months yet. When you finish reading the book, please leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or any other review site of your choice and send a copy to me, if you’d like. I’m always interested in what you think and how well my writing suited the reader.

Also, be sure to stop in my author’s page on Facebook and say hello. Click the like button while you’re there, too. Would love to see you more often.

Thanks again for stopping in. I hope to see you again in a couple of days with a regular post.

3 Steps Fiction Writers Should Take

Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction Worker

Always take time to check these 3 steps before declaring a project ready for edit. They save so much time for the fiction writer.

  1. Whether you’re an outliner or not, create a list of all the major plot points which must be in place before the conclusion.
  2. Each time you finish a revision session, save the manuscript in at least two places.
  3. Always run your final copy through beta readers.

Let’s look at the logic behind each of these steps individually.

Plot Points

Outlines consist only of a story’s signposts; a series of events which must occur between the opening sentence and the last words of the story. It really is that simple. You don’t need details of how, where, why, etc. You need only those signposts in your outline. The list helps keep your story train on its timeline track.

director-chair-business-cartoons-vectors_GyG7my_OFor instance, the movie Ghostbusters was very simple from an outline perspective. Premise: scientists/researchers come together because of a flurry of apparition sightings in New York City.

Outline:

  • Researchers create special equipment for use at sightings if needed.
  • Scientists verify a sighting in a public library.
  • More sightings occur.
  • They hang out their shingle and go to work as independent contractors in ghostbusting
  • EPA steps in to control researchers’ activity
  • Situation with EPA devolves until the city’s government is involved
  • Researcher’s love interest is taken over by evil entity, along with another person
  • Researchers must discover identity of evil entity and devise way to dispel evil’s control
  • Researchers fight entity and entity’s minions in the Empire State Building, climaxing with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and win.
  • Possessed humans are released and rescued
  • Boy and girl declare their love
  • Everyone prospers

An outline can get even simpler, but doesn’t have to. You only need an intro, an middle with action development and a climax/conclusion. The twelve outline points above don’t take up much space on paper, but getting from the first point to the last gets filled with tiny details that take up two hours of viewing time.

Revising for Results

Once your rough draft is done, the fun begins. Mistakes photoRevising allows the writer to catch and fill in all of those amorphous details that color the story with rainbows and leave the scent of fresh-baked bread behind. And that’s what many readers look for. Unless, of course, you’re dealing in horror.

Before beginning your revision, make a copy of that rough draft, with a new title, to work from. Then, each time you finish a revision session, be it an hour’s worth or a day’s, save that baby in at least two places. Try on your hard drive and a flash drive, or the cloud and a flash drive. Whichever method you use, do it. Don’t forget.

It only takes one glitch to leave you with nothing but sunshine and a rough draft. It happens all the time to writers everywhere. You don’t want to have to begin a revision from scratch from the rough draft again. The frustration and lost hours aren’t worth the risk.

Use Beta Readers

Book and knowledge conceptUnless your story is flash fiction, send your baby to a solid list of beta readers for review. Try to get a mix of “strictly” readers and a few actual writers. You get something special from each side of the house.

The beta reader can find all those flaws that the writer misses during revision and edit. You can guess the ones; continuity errors, name changes, characters’ unexplained dialect shifts, timeline anomalies, word misuse, the dreaded word-of-the-day, and more. (Word-of-the-day refers to those common words we end to use unconsciously far more often than necessary.)

Once you get those copies back with comments, corrections, and suggestions, you’re ready to tackle the final edit and spell check. You editing task will take less time and be more accurate after having so many sets of eyes on it.

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The writer who takes these three steps to do each of these steps eliminates greater timewasters and frustration in the long run. A brief but pointed outline is your train’s engineer and keeps you on your time table. The revision conductor makes sure you always have a second secured, current revision copy to safeguard your work. Beta readers act as brakemen to keep you accountable for the quality of your work. Your manuscript is better for the steps taken throughout the process.

A Quick Update for Freelance Writers

These last few days have been a bit hectic, but then, the month just began.

I thought some of you might be able to use some of the information contained in my latest article–this one for freelance writers from Working Writer’s Club.

It has some helpful tips for those looking to enter the non-fiction arena, as well as resources that some of the pros might not know about or haven’t explored.

Take a few minutes to see if any of it can help you to get a new perspective or a new market.

I’ll be back later in the week with something else from the cooker.

Enjoy.

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