Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mental exercise

Discipline is doing what you are supposed to do, not doing what you are not supposed to do and pushing yourself to make real progress. As writers we must discipline ourselves to write, and write well. It can be difficult to chain yourself to your work, but the rewards are inestimable.

It is hard to create prose: to sit in one place, staring at a screen, struggling to make sense of all the thoughts in your head. Exercise is exhausting, whether physical or mental. Writers must read to keep their perspectives fresh. They need a strong vocabulary to articulate ideas. And they should constantly be struggling for improvement: to make this story even better than the last.

In the gym, one struggles against seemingly insurmountable obstacles… and overcomes them. It can take days to see progress. And it can be so easily undone. So, writing is contending with words and must be approached with the determination that you will succeed.

I will not go as far as to say that lesser forms of entertainment are akin to junk food for the brain. However, to improve in writing, it is best to read. And the best things to read are those that have stood the test of time: the classics.

To be strong, one must follow those who are. There is a reason we still read certain authors’ works sometimes many years after they have died. The language may have changed, but that which compels, that which reaches the human heart remains constant.

Mental muscles, too, can atrophy from disuse. And it is not enough for a writer to be mentally strong.  Nor is cerebral fitness sufficient. Their minds must be in top condition, to write the tales which will be told for ages to come. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Monster excerpt

Here is an excerpt from my fantasy novella "The Monster":

A few times, the humans had turned to look in his direction. Had they seen him? Did they know he was there? He had turned around and fled into the darkness.

A few men searched the immediate area and found nothing. He moved farther away from the structure and even the pond, far enough that they would be unlikely to seek him there. The orc grunted. They are not sure of what they saw. If they were, then they would have hunted me down.

He snarled. “I do not like to be hunted.” He smote his chest. “Man would slay me like a beast.” The orc gave a growl. “Let them try.”
The cover for my ebook novella "The Monster." Now available on Amazon and Smashwords.

There is a monster in Eldenborough. And a young girl is endangered… Karg is an orc and he has stumbled into the land of men. A grisly murder sets the humans on his trail. And he, in turn, hunts them. Blood will be spilled, and more lives lost. Dark secrets will be revealed. A young noble is forced to make a difficult choice. And all the while, a warrior fights against overwhelming odds. There is a monster in Eldenborough. Survive if you can…

Cover art by Robert Elrod



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

An oft-hoarded gift

Joy: many people want it, but few delight in giving it. In and amongst the pages of my works, the enjoyment of writing is evident. Although my plots have become more serious and textured over the years, I still have the same fun creating a tale as I did as a teenager.

When writing, it is important to remember that the reader’s experience must be an enjoyable one. This is not to say bad things will not happen. They most certainly will. But in the end, the audience must come away satisfied with the experience. If the work is a misery to read, they tend to eschew it for the sake of a story that does not tax their patience.

Readers delight in being trifled with. They will frown upon a work that is too obvious and even safe. There is a love of danger in reading: the desire to be imperiled while ensconced in the perusal. The excitement is in not knowing what will happen next.

Still, if you trifle with them too much, they become annoyed. The ending must be worth the arduous journey to get there. They will suffer much to get to their destination. And if it is not worth the trip, they will consult their travel agent and try somewhere else next time.

Fun is infectious. The audience can sense whether or not the author enjoyed what they wrote. Whether comedy, tragedy, or something in between; the enjoyment of the writing is evident in the reading. And the audience soaks it all in.

Writing is hard work, but there is a thrill to be found in the fashioning of worlds. One grows fond of the people who live in these places. And you long to tell their stories, watch them grow and realize their dreams. For joy is a gift often hoarded, but a writer is a giver of smiles.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The thing about time

The thing about time is there is never enough. There is so much I want to write, to read, and review. So many moments are spent doing what I would rather not. Still, time is a precious commodity and one must use it wisely if they are to accomplish their goals.

Stories do not write themselves. That is to say, one must place the words on each page. And like everything else, this takes time and effort. And there is no guarantee of a return on your investment.

If it is important, you make time. Everyone on this planet has twenty-four hours a day. It is what we do with these hours and even minutes that makes the difference. Boredom cannot take root if you are busy.

There is a time to relax and regain your energy. The days will grind one down to tiny fragments. But rest helps to gather yourself once more. And it doesn't take much to get you back in the fight.

For time is neither an enemy, nor a friend. It is a resource that can be used for good or for ill. It can be utilized or wasted. Most often it is merely consumed.

But a productive person uses it wisely and to the fullest. Books will be written, read and reviewed. People will not go neglected. Responsibilities will be fulfilled and there will still be time to play. For the enrichment of a life is to savor every hour, every minute and every second.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fuel to the fire

How do you climb the world’s tallest mountain? You do it through determination. Man dreamed of flying, and accomplished it through sheer determination. We wished to walk on the moon, and determination set the very prints upon its surface. To succeed, set a goal and utterly refuse to be deterred from reaching it.

I decided to write a story and completed it. Then, I set out to be published and became an author. My works are now available in print and electronic format. All because I set a goal for myself, and achieved it.

There were many obstacles along the way. But if this were easy, then everyone would be doing it. If you have not put your blood, sweat and tears into the task, you are not trying hard enough.

When it gets difficult, most people get discouraged. I become frustrated, and my frustration grows into a surge of energy. The adversity has fueled my determination to succeed. I do not tire… I become stronger.

Sometimes, the strain is too great and fatigue sets in. Having given my all, it was not good enough. It would be so easy to just lie down and set my burdens aside. But I catch my breath, and raise my head; eyes trained once more upon the goal.

This is what it means to do your best. You must give every last ounce of energy you have. Run until you cannot take another step. Crawl until you have regained your breath. And then you stand, forging onward once more.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The allure of birdsong

It is hard to ignore that which is right in front of you. As long as there is distance, things are out of sight and out of mind. It is essential for an author to gain notice and keep it. Thus, they must promote themselves constantly.

The quality of the work is not enough. The greatest writers languished in obscurity until they were able to get the right kind of attention. And then, people took notice and these individuals became household names. It was not that they were not producing great material, but that no one knew how great it was.

Rare are the individuals who recognize quality when they see it. What a person likes is subjective, and they tend to be opinionated in their interests and not open to fresh perspectives. A new author is a different person, and thus, presents a new perspective.

Promotion is all about being seen, and the desire is for your work to be seen by that one person who will appreciate it. And then, they will tell others. Inevitably, those who saw nothing in it before will become enlightened and join the chorus singing the author’s praises.

To attract readers, one must offer them a tale that is truly desirable. I liken this to a bird chirping outside your window. If the sound is pleasant, it will draw you in. However, if the creature is noisy and obnoxious, they will not be singing there for very long…

The quality of your work is the sweetness of the tone.  If you stay outside long enough, those inside cannot help but hear. And there will be that one, who approaches the better to hear it. They will open the window and lean out to take it all in. And then, the nameless bird becomes the song of the morning: something looked for, hoped for and anxiously awaited.