Non Commercial Enterprises

file564a0282145e2My Nano project is done, kind of. One of my writing mentors always like to remind me that a story is done when it is done. Well, my Manos novelization is more of a short-story-ization, Right now, it is weighing in at 14,500 words, that’s about 1/4 of the length of story I usually write.

Of course, I was never planning to “Win” Nano, so it’s not that I’m upset at not hitting 50k words, it’s just that I’m not sure where to go from here. Of course, the answer to this is always, put it on the shelf and see what comes to you.

This still leaves the question of how to finish out Nano.

NaNo Stage II

PrintSo far, I’m way behind in word count, due to day-job pressures and an ill-timed headache. However, I did finish state one of my NaNo plan, and that was finishing up the last of my work in progress.

Yes, I’m counting the words. And no, it’s not ready to publish yet. It’s going to need a couple good edits before it sees the light of day.

Now I am moving into Stage II of my NaNoing. It is perhaps a fools errand, and it’s probably not sellable, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. And no, I’m not ready to talk about it yet.


PrintIf you have been living under a rock, or if you don’t write, you may not have heard of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Basically, the premise is you take the month of November and try to write 1667 words a day, so you end up with a 50,000 word novel, short but nothing to sneeze at.

I first did NaNoWriMo in 2006, after finding out about it on day three or four of the month. My first novelizing effort was the protozoan version of FANGS FOR NOTHING. In the intervening years, I’ve done Nano two more times and finished it both times.

This year I’m doing it a little different. I’m stretching the rules. This is not without precedent, as I have several writer friends who do this. I’m not starting a new work, I’m just going to keep working on my work in progress. I’m even going to count my word count for this blog entry. And I have a very good reason for doing this. I’m not so concerned with the word count–I know I can write a 50,000 page book–as I am with the camaraderie and the fun of hanging out with other writers.

I guess you could argue that my novel will simply be a little less coherent than usual, but it will have the right word count.

There is a part of me that really wants to throw caution to the wind, dump everything I’m doing, and start a new piece by the seat of my pants, but I’m just don’t quite feel like doing that at the moment.


G3VqD2Hello Minions, just checking in. It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything here.

I could write about the fantastic ICON 40. Or I could write about some of the work I’ve been doing, but instead I decided to write about success and pass along a great video from Gary Vaynerchuck.

f you aren’t familiar with Gary V, he started a fantastic wine Vlog when Vlogging was a new thing, and he’s got a few words to say about how he became a success which I think are very poignant to becoming a writer and sticking with it.


Suicide Prevention Month

1101640110_400Someone pointed out that September is suicide prevention month. Instead of just reposting a meme, I wanted to share a story that’s very meaningful to me, something that keeps me going even when I’m at my darkest.

The man in the picture to the right is R. Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller, one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century. When he was 32 years old, he was on the edge of committing suicide. As he was about to drown himself in Lake Michigan, he decided that he still had something to contribute to the world.

Fuller filed 28 patents, and his most popular invention, the geodesic dome, is still used heavily today. Most of his later life was spent teaching and consulting on the global level. He was a huge proponent of renewable energy, and like me, he believed in using technology to solve humanity’s problems.

To Pants or not to pants

They say there are two types of writers, planners and pantsers.

pantsPlanners meticulously write out every setting, every character sketch, every plot point before the write “Chapter One” at the top of the first page.

Pantsers sit down with a blank page and write until it starts to make sense, and then the re-write what they’ve spewed forth into a story.

In reality, most people are somewhere in between. Some come up with detailed plots only to change them when they start to write. Others come up with a few milestones they want to hit along the way and then just go for it.

Personally, I’ve always been more of a pantser. I’ve usually written without any kind of plot or plan. Sometimes I have a vague idea of how I want things to end, and sometimes I don’t. This is, honestly, lots of fun. I will never forget the joy I felt the first time Vinnie hosted a party.

On the other hand, Pantsing is also my worst enemy. I get halfway through a novel, and I get stuck. This happens often. Way too often. I have restarted the sequel to Minion of Evil three times, and I still haven’t finished it–not that fun and not very productive.

In full disclosure, I did try to plan once before, and it was horrible. Everything fell apart by Chapter Two.  But I’m crossing my fingers and hoping this was just a fluke.

So, lately, I’ve been thinking that despite my previous failure, it’s time to refine my writing style, incorporating more planning. I may not run into as many happy surprises, but I may finish more books. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to try to become a reformed pantser.

That Gnats

Female_black_fungus_gnatLike many authors, I’ve spent time, some might say an excessive or obsessive amount of time, studying what makes writing effective. One of the sources that I used to read religiously was the blogs of literary agents, as they were the gatekeepers and the masters of slush reading.

One such agent said that the first thing she looked for were “that gnats,” unnecessary use of the word “that” as a filler. You might have noticed that I’ve been purposefully leaving them in and marking them for emphasis.

I soon realized that I used that gnats almost constantly both in my written and everyday speech–maybe this is a midwestern thing, New Yorkers are just to busy to use an extra that here and there. So, I’ve slowly been training myself, especially in the editing process to find that gnats.

So, yesterday, I posted about my new book on Facebook, and as I was going through my feed today I found this in the blurb I had written:

Some people would say that Nick Baker has it all: the trust fund, the family connections, and the country club membership.


I am a Spoilsport

file55843196ed611 So, I screwed something up today. A writer I like asked a question on her Facebook page about an obscure reference, and I answered that I didn’t get it, but the information was easily Googled, along with a link to the Wiki page I found and linked to.

Later, someone pointed out that she had said, “no spoilers,” in her post. Oops.

However, I can’t help but think how is my explanation of the reference a spoiler? Isn’t her reveal that it’s an obscure reference the actual spoiler? Apparently, not everyone feels this way, as someone cautioned me for revealing too much.

Now, I know explaining a joke makes it no longer funny, but here’s the thing I like about pop culture references: if you get them, they’re kind of like a little joke, but if you just lightly touch on them or move on, the reader thinks they’re part of the scenery. Unlike telling an overt joke, they can actually be funny, or at least interesting, in the explanation.

The again, maybe the author didn’t want “spoilers” because she didn’t want people’s answers influenced by the comments. In which case, just ignore this whole post.

On Reviewing My Reviews

Jed Peterson and Jim Hines

Jed Peterson and Jim Hines — I guess I should get a picture of myself and Jim.

So, today, Jim C Hines was writing about the ethics of authors reviewing other authors.

I was thinking about this the other day. I noticed almost all of my GoodReads ratings are five stars. I started reviewing my ratings and realized something about myself. If I’m not beta reading for a friend, I tend not to finish books that I don’t fall in love with.

If I am beta-reading, and I really like a piece, I assume the final form is going to be at least as good, and I’ll rate it without reading the final version. Probably the only exception to this is pieces by Dylan Moonfire and Adam Whitlatch, both of which I usually end up reading one last pass of the final version.

I probably recite passages from Birthright and Sand and Blood in my sleep.

If I am beta-reading, and I’m lukewarm about a piece, I feel like it’s unfair to leave a rating, as often a few minor tweaks can make things come together. Then, I usually don’t bother to read the final, because I didn’t go nuts over the beta-read.

That being said, a fair review is a fair review. If another author read my work and genuinely didn’t like it. I can’t be upset if they give me a low rating.

Although, I should admit that I have held back a bad reviews. I usually do this  because I liked the author and didn’t want to offend; or because I didn’t like the author, and I was afraid I would not be able to maintain my objectivity.