A difficult couple months

file54f77580d7c80And so it came to pass that I finished my internship at KHP, and this was good. They offered me a position, and initially I accepted, but the stresses of my day job combined with the anxiety I feel from my writing conspired against me, and I ultimately had to renege.

This put me in a bit of limbo, as they were going to publish my next book. But for now, I’m not going to worry about it.

Worry has been a big part of my writing career. I have some anxiety issues and putting myself out there, as you must do when you write, is very difficult for me. Often, when I think about my writing, I get into dark moods, and I wonder whether it isn’t time to give up writing entirely.

So, towards the end of January, I decided to take some time off from writing. I hadn’t taken a break in the last eight years, and my day job was keeping me adequately busy. It’s been a good break. I’ve caught up on my reading, as well as done some beta reading and light editing for others, which has been a positive experience for me. I often think about writing these days, and every day the prospect of starting again seems less painful.

I feel like I have more good books in me, if I can just stop worrying so much and enjoy the process.

Sidetracks

10841957_10153452282712004_2825961519268753984_oAfter focussing almost exclusively on my writing for a long time, I find that lately, I’m spending more time on my other hobbies.

I’ve been playing video games again. I know I’ll ultimately get tired of this, but I  get the urge about once a year or so.

I’ve been cooking a lot. I’ve developed what I believe to be a perfect chicken salad, or at least perfect to my tastes. I’ve been making spicy carrot pickles, my personal variation on this Alton Brown recipe, and I’ve tried my hand at puff pastry (pictured above–yes, I made those.) I’ve also tried my hand at roast, meatloaf, and mash.

On the writing front, things are not going as well as I’d like. I’ve decided to restart the sequel to Minion of Evil again, as I still haven’t gotten it how I want it.

2014 is almost gone.

file549991aee0be5So…. it looks like my last update was two months ago. There’s a good reason for this. I’ve been busy doing an intensive edit on a book for KHP, my “final project” of my internship. I don’t know how the author will feel about it–I really went for it with the edits, but my fellow editors seem happy with what I’ve done. I spent a ton of time on it.

Personally, it’s been a tough year with many challenges. I’m kind of happy to see it sliding into the rearview mirror.

In my own writing, I’ve continued to peck away at the Minion of Evil sequel. I’m now sitting just over 40,000 words, and I’m starting to contemplate the transition to the ending. Don’t open the Champagne yet, It’s just a rough draft.

On the other hand, I have submitted Panic No More to KHP–yeah, I know I’m working for them, but I planned to submit it before I took the internship–and they will be releasing it in “January.” Okay, probably more like February.

I wish I had something profound to say at this point to tie everything together, but I’ve never been good at tying things up. How about: Wishing you and yours a happy __Insert your holiday of choice here.__  celebration.

The Trouble with Port

Trouble-With-harry2While my first love is the California Cabernet, like many wine drinkers I don’t like being tied down to one region or varietal. I even enjoy the occasional bottle of port.

Now, I usually buy tawny or ruby ports, a little more cost effective and ready to drink. However, the other day, my wife presented me with a Late Bottled Vintage (LBV).

So, do you drink a late bottled vintage, or let it age? The answer is, “It depends.”

I did a little research. Wikipedia lists 11 types of port. It also notes that while LBV ports can mature slightly with age, they will never develop the character of a vintage port.

On a wine forum, I found a couple things to look for.

  • Is the wine traditional of unfiltered? Unfiltered and traditional production method allows the LBV to age more gracefully.
  • Does the wine have a traditional cork or a “cork stopper?” The cork stopper is the wine producer’s way of telling you not to age the LBV.

The bottle I had was unfiltered and had a traditional cork, but what if I could find one more source…

  • Delicious. Drink now. – James Suckling – Wine Spectator

Hmmm. As I was puzzling out what to do, my wife told me, “Just drink it, and if you like it, I’ll buy you another one.”

It’s quite good.

Writing Reviews

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I enjoy binder clips.

I promised Dylan Moonfire that I’d write a review of Sand and Blood for him.

I very much wanted to do this. I enjoyed Sand and Blood, and I felt Dylan should get a good review from me because of that. Writing reviews is one of the best ways authors can support each other–or at least those authors whose work we enjoy.

I hate writing reviews, though. Because of this, I make a habit of not writing reviews of books I don’t like. But even when I really like a book, I never feel like I know what to say–not good for a writer–and even when I put down my honest opinion, I have doubts that anyone will believe me or find it helpful and interesting.

Also, I worry that I am biased toward people I like. I shouldn’t have this opinion, because I’ve read plenty of things I didn’t like by people, even professional authors, who I had a great time with in person. Also, I really like writing by authors who I don’t care for personally.

I secretly fear that someday the Amazon or GoodReads police (are they the same police now) will expose me as a fraud, because all my reviews are 4 or 5 stars (more likely five) but I write those reviews in good faith, and I’d probably have a lot of one and two star reviews, but I tend to keep those opinions to myself. Because if you don’t have something good to say about someone’s book, should you say anything at all?

Also, I don’t tend to finish stuff I don’t like.

I’ve made a horrible copyright mistake

public-domain-logo-slightly-nicerOkay, I haven’t really made a horrible mistake, but saying I “almost” made a mistake doesn’t sound nearly as dramatic.

I was looking for some quotable poem for new new manuscript, and I found the perfect thing, however, I knew I’d have to check on the copyright status. In today’s world, figuring out the actual date a work goes into the public domain can be complicated.

O Venus, beauty of the skies,
To whom a thousand temples rise,
Gaily false in gentle smiles,
Full of love-perplexing wiles;
O goddess, from my heart remove
The wasting cares and pains of love.

So, I looked up the publication date of the poem, and found out it was attributed to a poet named Sappho in 600 BC. And here’s where I almost made my mistake. I stopped there.

It wasn’t until I was editing my piece later that I started to think there was something wrong with my logic. Sure, the original was thousands of years old… but wouldn’t the original have been written in ancient Greek?

So, this becomes a translation, and translations, even translations of things like the bible have their own copyright rules. They can be considered derivative works and come under the original work’s copyright, but they can also, if suitably different be considered a separate work, entitled to copyright protection. So, I had to find the history of the translation and determine its copyright status. Fortunately, this particular translation was done by Ambrose Philips in 1711.

So, disaster has been avoided. However, I was lucky in this case. While the piece seems antiquated, it could have easily been done in the 1960s and still have copyright protection.

The Best Show Don’t Tell Advice Ever

Tim Leach wrote this on Reddit today, and it is awesome.

The evolution of the writer usually goes like this:

  • Beginners tell too much. They get told over and over again about show don’t tell.
  • Amateurs show too much. They no longer tell anything, and so everything is over described.
  • Professionals know when to tell and when to show.

“Show don’t tell” is not an overrated rule, as it really is a major weakness that’s almost universal to up and coming writers, so beating people over the head with it usually yields some results. But telling has its place too – it’s punchy, effective, and can be evocative if the voice that’s doing the telling is strong enough.

The rule I do try to stick to with “show don’t tell” is to apply it to character emotions. I try never to write “Dave was angry”, “Jeff was scared”, but to show them being angry or scared. You’ve also got to be careful about using tell too much for exposition, it can be very lazy and super dull. But yes, telling is a useful skill. Sometimes…

TL:DR – Show is usually better than tell, except when it’s not. Sorry that’s contradictory. Writing is hard.

Just some updates

file53d7f85012e10Wow, time can go by quickly. Between work, social commitments, and surgery, this has been a busy summer for me so far.

The surgery seems to have been a success. I’m currently feeling recovery-type pain instead of carpal-tunnel type pain, if that makes sense. I’m still a little weak in that hand, but every weeks is showing improvement.

On the writing front, I don’t have all that much to report. I’m working on the sequel to Minion of Evil. I was around 20,000 words in and I decided to start over with a couple different subplots. Now I’m getting back up to around 8000 words again. I’m also waiting for some beta reader comments on one of my other novels.

I’ve now been an intern at KHP for a month, but it doesn’t feel like it as they haven’t given me anything to do yet. I’ve been promised a pass at Adam J Whitlatch’s new book though, so I’m looking forward to that. I am a little worried that once they do get started they’ll bury me.

So there we are. Nothing big to report.

Two weeks of nothing special except the one thing.

10505493_10152934717752004_967532443341958906_nThere are two different things in this missive, so if the first one is boring, skip down to part B.

So, I finally broke down and got carpal tunnel surgery on my left hand. I’d done my right a few years ago, and it had helped considerably. This meant a whole two weeks with my hand in a splint and not being able to do much at all except read, take pain pills, and watch movies. Since this is essentially my ideal vacation, this didn’t bother me too much. I made quite a dent in both my James Bond and Stat Trek BluRay collection, and I watched the excellent British show Foyle’s War.

The biggest downside of my little enforced vacation was the inability to drive myself anywhere. If I’d had the ability, I would have spent some time in the coffee shop or the wine shop. I did spend some time writing, but I only put down a half page the entire time–between the pain and the splint getting in the way, it kind of sucked.

Okay, so that brings us to the part of the last two weeks which is momentous news–wow, I really know how to write a story, don’t I?. I was contacted by a friend of mine, Adam J Whitlatch and offered an internship as an editor at KHP Publishers. After a Skype call with the editorial staff, I accepted the position.

Now, I know what my friends and readers are going to say, “Just one minute. Don’t you need more time to write as it is? Didn’t you turn down a job as a full editor just a year or two ago for that very reason?” You would be right to say that. It weighs heavily on my mind even now. Here’s the deal though, as an unpaid intern, I have a lot more leeway to make mistakes and see if being an editor is indeed for me than if I were jumping into the deep end head first.

So, there it is, I have six months to prove to them, and also myself, if it’s worth both our time for me to be an editor.

Time to get serious and piss around a bit

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This Toulouse-Lautrek is here for no other reason than I am currently reading Christopher Moore’s brilliant book Sacre Bleu

So, I’ve been working on a sequel to MINION OF EVIL. This is not the first time I’ve started this particular book, but I’ve discovered that sequels can be difficult. If you’ve already saved the world and got the girl, what else is there?

However, I have gotten a full 25,000 words into this book, meaning that I can probably proclaim I’ve made it through to the middle. This is a good thing. If I make it to the middle, I can usually muddle through to the other side. In a year or two of serious redrafting, I may even have a readable book. For me, this is an exciting thing. I like finishing manuscripts.

Lately, I’ve had a lot of trouble producing new fiction. And I’m beginning to believe I know why. I used to write to the end of the chapter. If something silly occurred to me, it would go in. But lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the end of the book, and the arc of the story vs. the arc of the character.

At first, I believed these deep thoughts to be an indicator that I was arriving at the next level, as a more mature, tested writers. But lately, they have been weighing heavily on my, like an albatross around my neck.

That’s cool though. It’s all about the learning process. And it’s nice to know that I still know practically nothing this far into the game.