Not wanting all my characters to ‘sound’ like each other is always a challenge worth accepting. And, because I also do not want the entire cast of my stories coming across as behavioral clones of me, I make the effort to steer my eyes away from all the things I’ve seen a million times and angle my ears away from sounds and words I hear every day, then immerse myself with the world that’s around me. To see what my co-inhabitants on this planet are doing. To hear what they are saying. To experience their celebrations and their remorse. To feel their adrenaline and their apprehension. To witness them tightly guard their emotions, or to see them let those emotions run loose without a leash. To discover and (maybe) understand not just how they tick, but why they tick the way they do.

Yes, I am opening up myself to a lot of horrible actions and attitudes. I’m not surprised when my first conclusion when I do this is that people suck. No wonder I like dogs.

But, of course, I’m not writing animal stories.

So, back to observing my fellow Humans I go. Horrible actions and attitudes included.

When the shock and disgust finally subside, I come to realize why certain stories are such incredible experiences, and, ultimately, perfect entertainment escapes: the people performing within those stories are as varied as what I see before my redirected eyes, opening themselves up to scenarios I’ve never experienced in my life, including some of the same horrible actions and attitudes I just saw before my redirected eyes.

This world would be a nicer place to live if certain people were never be allowed to cross paths. The combinations—the mixtures—are dangerous. And sometimes deadly. We see proof of that on our news feeds and even during our daily lives all the time. Yet, within the confines of a fictional story, we want as many incompatible and combustible combinations as we can get our hands on.

This is why I do what I do.

After depicting some of these combinations on the pages of my stories, I find myself wanting to take a step back so I can rebalance myself. Understandable. And probably the reason I’ve never gotten irreparably disturbed by what I write. In fact, I’m proud to say I’ve never committed any of the horrid acts my characters perpetrate. All I ask is that you don’t judge or assume if you ever come across my browser history.

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LINK – Discrimination in the Writing World

This was one of the last topics I ever wanted to see. We’ve got more than enough discrimination in the ‘real’ world as it is. I’m bummed to see it has also invaded a realm I go to for a break from such nonsense.

Thing is…I already knew discrimination resided in the writing world.

And, yet…I still go there.

Discrimination in the Writing World

David Farland (who has infinitely more experience in the literary world than I do) spells out a few examples of how certain types of fiction are seen and treated, not only within the business, but by the book-reading consumers. Two of his examples spoke directly to me: I’m creating a young adult novel and a mainstream novel (that could very well be considered within the romance genre), both with a male protagonist. Because of that, both stories, in theory, are doomed before I even submit them for publication.

I’m moving forward with them anyway. I’ve wanted to work with my young adult cast for a long time, and the mainstream story contains the challenge of writing a genre and a style I’ve never attempted before that I very much wanted to accept.

How well will they sell? I’m curious to find out.

Will they face discrimination? Probably. But, certain levels of discrimination are to be expected (not very many women I know would read a borderline-romance novel written by a guy), and therefore writers can slant the odds a bit more towards their favor (I’ll ask myself how much ‘romance’ I, as a male, would be OK with reading, then compose the story accordingly).

Other than that, Mr. Farland has some other great tips on how to increase your odds for success. “Write better than your competition” is the no-brainer of all no-brainers.

While I have your attention…THIS IS A NOTE FOR ALL ASPIRING WRITERS: give yourself the great gift of signing up for David Farland’s Writing Tips. This, by the way, falls under the “Write better than your competition” category.

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Camp NaNoWriMo July 2018 – Victorious Failures

Congratulations to all the writers, whether professional, aspiring, or recreational, who completed this year’s Camp NaNoWriMo challenge! Granted, there is still time left in this, the last day of camp, so, if you’ve not reached the word count goal yet but you will by the end of the day, congratulations to you, too.

I will not be one of them.

The laugh I belted out when I calculated my final word count startled several people in the room.

21,823 words.

That’s all I got done.

28,177 short of the goal.

Total failure.


Absolutely not. Just before camp started, I chose to use this thirty-one day span to beef up two of my novel-length works which required various levels of rewrites, as well as some brand new scenes to be written from scratch. As it turned out, this beefing work yielded fewer words than I expected, so my running total stayed at an anemic level throughout.

So, by the ‘normal rules’ of Camp NaNoWriMo, I was not successful.

Except…when it comes to writing, I reside in an R&D realm, where I determine what is successful.

I started Camp NaNoWriMo wanting gaps in my two novels filled in.

I ended camp with exactly that.

I won after all.

Cool how that works, huh?

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I Find Myself…

Here are a few things I find myself doing and/or thinking and/or feeling these days…

  • With no more hockey until October, I find myself watching a lot of global rules football (my personal name for the sport), a.k.a. soccer (my country’s name for it). The sport would find much more credibility in my country if so many of its players would stop flopping on the turf and screaming in pain like they just got shot by an elephant gun every time they get bumped.
  • I’m getting to the point where I find it’s time to move to some other part of the country. I’ve lived in the D.C. metro area all my life, and I’d like to try something different for the next 20+ years of my life. Yeah, I get antsy like this every five years or so. The leading candidate this time around is southern Arizona. Why there? Simple…I’ve never lived anywhere like that before. Something different, remember? Well, in that case, why not Alaska? I’ve not liked anywhere like that before, either. True, but Arizona is a lot warmer. By quite a bit, I’m told. And I like warmth.
  • With no more American rules football until September, I find myself watching a lot of golf…but, I already mentioned that in a previous post.
  • I’ve been working as a security control center officer for over two and a half years now. Although it was not the job I was originally aiming for, having to keep track of multiple things (some of which are usually emergencies) has helped me become more focused, which I’ve noticed has also helped me stay focused when it comes time to juggling multiple writing projects (which, I’m happy to report, contain no emergencies). I’m not sure how much longer I want to work in the security field, but I find myself believing this job is the reason I became much better at multi-tasking.
  • With no more Major League Baseball until next April, I find myself doing a lot of extra yard work. Wait, you say…baseball season is still in full swing. But, if you were an Orioles fan like me, you would understand.
  • Earlier this decade, I had to say good bye to three beloved pets within a two year span: Athena (black Lab), Loki (German Shepherd / American coon hound mix), and Ares (orange Tabby). After that gut shot of an experience, I was convinced I would never want another pet, but I was heads up enough to know how to heal myself: instead of bemoaning what was taken away from my life, I celebrated the joys and hilarity these pets offered me while they were part of my life. Like, for example…how Athena used to steal the kickball from the kids and run away with it (and, oftentimes, popped it). Or…how Ares turned into the biggest cheap shot artist in the house and loved to torment the two dogs. Or…how Loki killed a skunk, but still lost the fight. That approach, plus the persistence of Time and its ability to soothe damaged hearts and souls, finds me at the point where I can see myself with another four-legged companion. It’s not a guaranteed feeling yet (governed in part by the fact I currently live in a town house that doesn’t allow pets), but I am open to the prospect of opening up my home and my heart at least one more time. Oh…and, yes, this new companion will most definitely be named after a mythological god or goddess.
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Camp NaNoWriMo July 2018 – The Behind Schedule Halftime Report

Wow. When it comes to Camp NaNoWriMo this summer, even my halftime report is behind schedule.

This halftime report is simple: my word count is so far off pace.

And I’m not even the least bit concerned about it.

Weird, huh?

As previously mentioned, this summer’s camp is dedicated to getting two of my novels market-ready. Work on Metzgerhund Empire is coming along slowly, with most of my time spent completely replacing a few of the original scenes that, quite bluntly, make me question what the hell goes through my head sometimes. The new story arcs look promising, and I’d like to have some of them fully typed out before the end of this week.

That leaves my other novel, Battle of Fort Cappello. So far, no good content or story arcs have come to mind, but I am writing prototype scenes for some of my characters.

With all of this going on, I have still found time to work on my golf story and my science fiction world building project.

So…from a Camp NaNoWriMo perspective, it looks like I am behind schedule, but I am still happy with my progress.

Not really. I’m never happy with my progress. Let’s just say I’m less dissatisfied and impatient than normal.

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Camp NaNoWriMo July 2018 – As Intended

Looking at my Camp NaNoWriMo word count so far, I see I’m over 2,500 words behind schedule. Already? I haven’t even made it through the first week! This just in…this might be my absolute worst NaNoWriMo start ever.

And it is turning out nearly exactly as I intended.

Just before the start of Camp reached us, I decided my goal this time around would be to fill in some of the pesky gaps that still exist in a few of my works-in-progress.

Metzgerhund Empire – young adult novel
I like the story I have so far (mostly), and I especially like the characters, but my Honest self said it was not very attention sustaining in certain spots, and my Teenage self said some of the story arcs didn’t entertain him. As far as I was concerned, both selves were saying essentially the same thing. As it turns out, the work I’ve done on Metzgerhund Empire during this Camp has successfully weeded out some of the questionable passages, and has given me a few suggestions on what new scenes might make the story more enjoyable both to tell and to read. Granted, the NaNoWriMo word count hasn’t benefitted from this game plan, but that wasn’t exactly my intention this time around.

Battle of Fort Cappello – mainstream-esque mystery / thriller / suspense / whatever novel
This is the story I created during last November’s NaNoWriMo event. I knew there were large gaps in this story when I closed the book on the 30th, and I’ve been filling in some of those blanks while transcribing my hand-written notes. However, at some point during this Camp, that pace will accelerate, then I might actually complete that novel before I start a new one this coming November.

Now, if you will excuse me, it’s time to get back to upping my NaNoWriMo word count at its snail pace. Intentionally, of course.

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Camp NaNoWriMo July 2018 – Pre-Game Show

Welcome to the July 2018 Camp NaNoWriMo pre-game show!

I last participated in the realm of NaNoWriMo this past November, working out a good chunk of my novel, Battle of Fort Cappello. When I closed the notebook on November 30, I told myself I would not participate in 2018’s two Camp NaNoWriMos, but instead use those months to finish some of my incomplete projects, including the one I just finished writing.

This just in…sources say I wasn’t listening to myself when I said that.

And I think I know why I ignored my own game plan. Up until the other day, I’ve spent the last few months working almost exclusively on world building projects. Research. Stats. All kinds of maps. No true actual writing. I saw the upcoming Camp NaNoWriMo as a way of changing my pace…to get back into the storytelling groove…that sort of thing. Yeah, I was going to switch back to a more writing-intensive schedule eventually, so I chose to use Camp NaNoWriMo as a way to get a head start.

OK, so now I’m ready for Camp NaNoWriMo.

Uh…not really.

Do I know what story I’m going to tell?

Haven’t gotten that far yet.

Do I even know what genre I’m going to use?

Of course, not.

In other words…I’m about as ready for this episode of NaNoWriMo as I was for all the others.

Hey…if writing were too structured and too organized, I wouldn’t enjoy the experience nearly as much.

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