Ad of the Week

Not sure why I did not think of this myself…

Rock on!

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Critiquing the Critiquers

This topic comes up on writers sites from time to time: the art of critiquing and the adventures of receiving critiques.

Depending on what stage my story is at, and depending on who I pass it off to, I will ask for my critiquers to approach my manuscript from specific perspectives: “How did I do with sentence structure?” “Can you point out typos and misspellings?” “Does the story make sense?” “Did I leave any loose ends that leave you unfulfilled or otherwise scratching your head?” “How does the story flow?” That sort of thing. Then, when it is my turn to critique something of theirs, I return the favor and the courtesy by approaching the task in whatever way they specify would match their preferences or concerns. If they want me to focus on character development, that is what I do. If they want me to find every last grammatical error I can find? That is what I do. Etc.

There is one form of critique that I have never asked for (and never will), yet I still get it at least once per manuscript: the critiquer tells me how they would have written a certain passage by rewriting it!

To express my dismay and confusion as eloquently as possible…ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I’ve never even had an editor do that to me, and they’re the gateways to a contract! Whatever happened to telling me that the passage in question is too convoluted or too rambling or too off the point?…then explaining why you feel that way without doing the actual revision for me? A few years ago, before I had any publishing credits to my name, I sent a 20 page manuscript to a fellow aspiring writer; the edited version she sent back was almost double in size because of how many passages she rewrote for me. Suffice it to say, I ditched that file and sought out a different critiquer.

When I critique, I might come across a passage that screams for a rewrite, and an obvious way of doing exactly that might cross my mind, but I fully understand and accept that what I have before me is their story, not mine, so I only point them in a direction with a humble “Consider having your character do / feel / express…”, and let the writer him/herself handle the heavy lifting…because, how else are they going to learn and improve if somebody else writes it for them?

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Two Clues About My Next Story

I recently decided dip my hand into my Ideas folder and pull out something new to work on. The only two things I’m going to tell you about my new selection is: (1) it will probably end up in the flash fiction range; and (2) the story will take place somewhere near here:

It’s already shaping up to be a fun project.

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Through Someone Else’s Camera Lens

I’ve been horrid about attending to items on my bucket list.

Because I’ve still got so many immediate concerns to attend to (including establishing myself at my new job), there is not enough time and/or money and/or attention span wattage to go around for the things I’d rather do; ergo, many of these items will be put on hold yet again until my annoying yet necessary tasks are dealt with.

But…I am a bit more resourceful than that. Because I spend chunks of time at a PC, I decided to take a shortcut of sorts and view some of the bands on my list through someone else’s camera lens. Yeah, it’s not the real thing, but watching the following list of videos has intensified my desire to get out there and see these sonic spectacles in person.

Opeth’s musical styles has morphed over their years of playing, to the point where, if you played their very first album, then play their most recent album, they don’t even sound like the same band. That’s why I like how they treat their fans to a wide sampling of their ‘eras.’ I just wish their sets were longer; because, as far as I’m concerned, they’ve got a lot of great music to choose from.

King Diamond
King did great work with Mercyful Fate, but his concept-driven albums under the King Diamond name are classics in my mind…especially the album “Them.” And, speaking of that album…this concert features a guest appearance from the story’s main antagonist…Grandmaaaaaaaaaaa!

…and I swear I like this band for reasons beyond the fact they’re from my home state! These guys just look like they’d be fun to see live.

I just recently discovered this band, and have now added them to my “live shows to see” Bucket List item. I have become an instant fan of their absolutely unique (and well executed) approach to their specific subject matter.

Dimmu Borgir
The band. An orchestra. And a choir! Excellent stuff! This video was filmed a few years ago, but it is still my favorite representation of their live performing. It’s done in the form of a documentary, and will probably annoy those who don’t understand Norwegian, but (to my ears, anyway) the music more than makes up for it.

I’m thinking it’s time for me to get back to taking in a live show or two.

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Life’s Investments

Not all of my ‘life’s investments’ have yielded my desired results.

Some of these ‘investments’ were expensive, and I’m coming to realize I will be paying for them until my final day in this third dimensional realm.

None of us can be guaranteed that everything we plan for will be worth the energy and the passion we pour into it. Not all of us can bear a loss that took large portions of our heart and soul with it. But, all of us need to have something else we can invest in, so that all those unjustified payments will eventually evolve into lessons and benefits that will pay us.

This new ‘investment’ should start with the person we see in the mirror.

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Random Time!

Random time!


It’s official. I have now been issued the absolute ugliest driver’s license photo in the history of drivers licenses.

But, of course, the trick is to avoid doing anything that will give a police officer a reason for seeing it in the first place.

I’m glad it’s not attacked to any of my online profiles.


I’ve been getting back into my doodling phase lately.

My random sketches and freestyles are nothing worthy of an art exhibition (not yet, anyway) but it is something I do for fun…as a way to take my mind in a different direction for a moment…as a way to let my mind express a different type of creativity for a while…

…and I am fully aware that this started shortly after I told myself I wanted to improve my drawing skills so that I might create my own specific book covers one of these days.

Time to go out and buy a new sketch pad.


I received the strangest email the other day. Has anyone ever heard of a website called Neither have I…until now.

The URL in my email led me directly to a profile about one of my former bosses. I don’t particularly care to air out my dirty laundry concerning my experiences under his reign on my writing blog, so let’s just say that, on a rating scale of 1 to 5, others who checked out this site have scored him with straight 1’s…and I suspect it was because the website’s programming didn’t allow for a score of zero. There was no mention of who sent me that link, but I have a feeling I already know that answer because I just recently had a conversation with a former co-worker (who is also no longer employed by the aforementioned boss) about leadership (or, the lack thereof).

I would enjoy posting my own review, but the cool thing about being a writer is that, instead of filling out a survey on someone else’s site, I get to vilify his antics via my published stories that put money in my pocket.

…which has kinda already started.

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ANNOUNCEMENT – My Cousin Published a Book!

The paternal side of the family just added another published writer to our ranks. My cousin, Cathy Gasch, has released a new book that chronicles her paranormal experiences, called My Life Amidst the Paranormal.

Check out the cover of the book. See the house on the top? She grew up in that house, and I visited many times as a kid. I knew nothing about the paranormal or the afterlife during those times, and probably would not have believed that ghosts or spirits frequented this plane of existence even if somebody had explained the concept to me, but I could never deny there was an unusual vibe about that house. Even when I stopped by that house for the last time in my mid 20s for a holiday party, I sensed something I could not explain.

About two dozen years later, when Cathy began telling me what she experienced as a child growing up in that house, and how it influenced her life, everything I experienced there began making sense. My interpretation of what really happens when the two realms intersect might be different from hers, but I believe whole-heartedly in what she experienced back then. And what she experiences to this day.

My Life Amidst the Paranormal

I like what I’ve read so far, but Cathy has spoiled me on occasion by recounting her stories in person…which, when dealing with the topic of the paranormal, can be a bone-chilling experience. Kinda cool that I get to see the author at family reunions, huh?!

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