Notable Reads and a Writing Update

This year has definitely been an up-ender. Pandemics, work changes, illnesses, remote operations: these past few months have been nothing if not interesting.

I have been reading, though not as much as I would like to. Some of the more notable ones:

  • Bleachers by John Grisham
  • Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
  • Peace Talks by Jim Butcher
  • Actually, the Comma Goes Here: A Practical Guide to Punctuation by Lucy Cripps
  • On Writing by Stephen King

As for the book, An Unusual Haunting, I have everything I need but have yet to run it through the meatgrinder at Smashwords. It’s not a case of fear (I’ve published through the system before, though it’s been a while), yet I am reluctant. This might be a case of perfectionism vs. practicality. Will anyone read the story? The odds are against it, but I want it to be nice for those who do. Are there mistakes in it? Sure. All books have mistakes. I catch them all the time in published novels; I just can’t seem to catch them as easily in mine.

Maybe it’s just hard to set a story free that I’ve held onto closely for several years now. That said, perfect or not, it’s time to let the book go. Expect to see An Unusual Haunting published this month.

Until next time, crickets, take care and be well.

The Art of Article Writing

Computer keyboard with art and light flares leaking out between keys.

Some writers can put art into article writing by uplifting a potentially dry subject and inviting readers into a short tale woven with facts that entices the audience below the fold of the electronic page and through to the end of the piece.

These artists certainly know people don’t have much time for reading in today’s barrage of information bytes. Their palette of tools includes the usual limited word counts and the use of sub-headers, small paragraphs, simple but effective words and imagery, and an explanation in the first one or two paragraphs to inform the reader what the article is about right upfront. Yet the enthusiasm these writers have for the subject leaks into every sentence, holding reader attention to the last period.

I admire that.

Sure, it’s great to craft a fantasy plot that can easily hold together a 100k book, but if I cannot work on a small scale and write an article that lets others discover something fascinating, learn something new, or open their eyes to another line of thought in nonfiction, how can I hope to entertain them with fantasy?

But articles and storytelling are two different things, right?

Well, yes and no.

Just as there are formulas for writing a good article nowadays, there are formulas for solid storytelling. Solid arcs and sub arcs, grammatical and technical writing skills, hero journeys, character evolutions, action and reaction moments – these are some of the tools needed, and there are a staggering number of books and online advice blogs that expound on others.

But the passion – the love of sharing something, making it exciting, offering a good tale well told – should burst out between the written lines and grab a reader no matter if the subject is fact or fantasy, or takes 800 words or a magnitude more to impart.

I work with people who have that passion, and their writing frequently astounds me. I hope to learn all I can from them so I can do it easily on my own someday. And I anticipate it’s more of a journey than destination kind of learning.

Have a great month, crickets! Thanks for listening.

Book update and sequel progress

Greetings, crickets! I finished the book last month – the one that was initially a novella and the sequel novel. I sent it to a beta reader in August of last year and then spent four months hashing through to make it better than it was before.

It’s still not perfect, but it is head and shoulders above anything else I’ve ever written. Which means there’s still room for improvement…

I have five more illustrations to complete and then I can upload the epub file to Smashwords and be done with it. Which means I’m probably going to drag my feet…

And the sequel to this monster book? It was actually nice to take a break away from it for a few months so I can see it with fresh eyes. I’m not rehashing what I’ve written yet, because I believe that edit should come after I finish up the missing scenes, but I am making notes on what to look for. I learned a lot from the beta, and found she made eerily similar notes to what I’ve written on the works I read for friends. Maybe I’m a beta reader at heart, but I still can’t seem to notice everything in my work that I should – probably because it’s just too close to me to see it objectively. Which means, I will still need a beta for the sequel and should start saving some money for that…

Here’s hoping I can send the sequel off later this year and take a break.

Or maybe I can write the short fics needed to round out the next anthology. Or maybe dust off the fantasy book and finally finish the rewrite. Or maybe…I’m just hopeless. Thanks for listening.

Matchbox illustration from third chapter of Sagacitas

Firing up creativity

Greetings, crickets! It’s been months since I’ve posted. I’d apologize for the lag, but no one is reading this blog but spammers and me, and I’m betting they don’t care. And since it has been months since I wrote anything here, it’s time for a pep talk.

Creativity! How do you get it back when you feel you’ve lost it? There’s a catch: you don’t lose it. Creativity is always with you. But if you don’t use it, it can feel like it disappears. And it does, from your conscious mind, but don’t count it out. Everyone has some creativity in them – it’s been there since their inception. They just drown it out with self doubt because being creative is scary. You risk putting something out there and being laughed at (or second-guessed, or criticized, etc.) because your efforts aren’t perfect.

Well, perfection is paralyzing. And it’s overrated. Don’t sabotage yourself by thinking your efforts aren’t as good as someone else’s. Here’s another catch: you’ll never be perfect. There will always be someone who will point out something you missed. So why be creative? Do it for yourself, of course!

I want to continue writing and drawing, and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t, even if I’m not perfect at it. It’s a way of pleasing my inner creative being. And the more I work at it, the better I’ll get. So it’s about time I light a fire under my creativity and get it going full throttle again. All that takes is jotting down the ideas that come to me when they appear, writing each day to get that story habit back into my system, and taking pictures of or sketching things that strike me as worth sharing with others.

It’s never a waste of time to make room for creativity in life. Start now!