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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Switching Cars

Life has a way of throwing things in my path when I least want it to. Well, it would be more accurate to say that I believe God orchestrates things to happen in order to help me mature.

This week I started an hourly night job, full-time. My friend's wedding is today. I planned to take Friday off for his wedding rehearsal and work the days leading up to it. But on Thursday my wife and I drove to a nearby dealership, intending to look over future car buying options. As I parked our '92 Oldsmobil it died! To make a long story short I ended up buying a 2005 Toyota Camry. It was hard to spend the money on it, but worth it. Every time I've made a trip somewhere in the past few months the possibility that the old car would break down was at the back of my mind. But now I have something reliable and pristine! It makes me feel good about myself.

In a way, my writing career is a bit like my car troubles. Every so often I've had to shift vehicles in order to keep my career on track. First it was AMG's rejection after two years and my subsequent founding of Flaming Pen Press. Then I quit my hourly job, took a five month book tour, and AMG offered a contract. Now I have the contract and have nothing to sell over the summer so I've taken an hourly job again (something I really do not enjoy because it pulls at my creative process). But God is in it all and the publisher says they should be able to release my first title in November--originally they said February, so this is better.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Book Party: KMS

Today is the day! Follow this link to win free books at the exciting party for Kestrel's Midnight Song by J.R. Parker

Monday, May 17, 2010

Progress & Plans

Writing, writing, writing... ah how I love it! But unfortunately my schudule will likely slow things down on my third novel "The Key of Living Fire". I managed to reach the 50,000-word mark today, which is very satisfying.

Now I have a couple other things on my agenda. 1) I was invited to write a guest blog post for Sue at My plan is to get on that Tuesday. 2) Bryan Davis asked me to endorse his upcoming book "Masters and Slayers" (AMG Publishers) I want to start reading that tomorrow 3) I need to get cracking on my website; currently I have a couple pages I'm happy with and other that need lots of work. I'm also considering the possibility of going with a 'brighter' color scheme.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The New Camera! Gotta love it!

This summer I'll be shooting a wedding. For the occasion I purchased the Nikon D200... and I'm loving it! The pictures below I shot at the beach in Harkness Park (here in Connecticut). These don't represent the best I can do with this equipment. But I'm just starting to get used to it. So far the transition to this (from my D70s) has been simple. The controls are similar and the vertical battery hand grip works like a charm, allowing easy portrait-style photography. The photos below were shot using a manual focus 300mm Nikon lens. When I can afford to purchase an autofocus (with sufficient speed and accuracy) it will facilitate crisper photos.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Word count in a novel: Can't find the words?

Brevity was never my strength, not when it came to writing. I remember formulating stories when I was a child and telling them in the tent to my siblings. I drew on historical events and anything else I found fascinating in books I'd read or that our mother had read to us. The tales I made up grew as I told them, idea built upon idea and I felt the need to share those ideas, follow them through to their logical or illogical conclusions!

Have you ever noticed how lengthy most old books are? By old I'm speaking of volumes from early 1900's and, of course, the 1800's. I have a number of old books and I, unlike some people, read them. They are wordy, detailed and often delivered powerfully. They were written with great care, often taking years to complete. I say all this to try and make the point that those writers were used to spending the time to compile their stories and placed as much information as they desired in their novels.
On my recent post one commenter stated they are having difficulty writing longer pieces. I often say that it takes a lot of material to make a novel. And it does. When I write I sit down and meditate on the story, the characters, and the setting. As each bit of that story formulates in my mind I write it down and I slow my thinking process in order to put down all the details that create the scene I picture in my mind.
To avoid brevity: fill your mind with all the details of the scene you are writing and then put it down as it comes to you. Don't worry about the end of the story, don't force it, let the story flow with vivid detail that will bring it to life for your readers. Only when you settle your mind into the river of imagination, soaking in it, encouraging all ideas to blossom . . . Build it with care, with artful design, and then it will not suffer from brevity.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Word count in a novel: How much should it matter to a writer?

Browsing the writing blogosphere it is impossible to miss the number of aspiring authors who are posting information on their current works, including their word-count goal for the manuscript. But when I come to a manuscript I do not limit the word-count. So far I have completed three manuscripts and with each of them I approached it for the story and tried to focus as little as possible on the word-count. I think aspiring authors are hoping to fit their works into various publishers' guidelines. They know the average word-count of their novel's genre and they work hard to fit it into that mold.

Focus on word-count distracts me as the author. If you ask me "What should matter most when writing?" I'd probably answer "Tell the story for yourself; write what matters to you." My first novel (Swords of the Six) was approximately 80,000-words. Last week I sent it to AMG Publishers and included a new segment that brings it to about 85,000. My second novel was a monster to work with, by comparison. It is 120,000-words.

With my current project "The Key of Living Fire" I'm estimating it will finish around 120,000-words. But I won't hold myself to that goal. My focus is relaxing into my story, not forcing it but letting it flow onto the page. Currently I have almost 50,000-words... but I'm not even into the meat of the novel yet! The story is pretty evenly split between Ilfedo, Oganna, and Specter. But the first 40,000-words is only Specter's story-arc.

When writing it is important to remember that it is an art. I do it because I love putting the words on paper and on my laptop, seeing them flow and manipulating them to deliver a memorable tale that people can treasure for generations. My advice to aspiring authors is just write. Don't force the story into a box too small (or too large, depending on the story).

Make a piece of art that you can treasure. If it matters to you, if you treasure it, you'll be passionate about it. And if you are passionate about it then others will catch your enthusiasm and you'll meet with success.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Plainfield Central School in Connecticut

It seems like forever since last I spoke at a school. Today my wife and I went to Plainfield Central School. Literally five minutes down the road from where we are currently living. I don't know how many students I spoke to. I estimate in the vicinity of five hundred. They brought through the sixth through eighth grades.
Next week I am returning to this school to do a creative writing class. I've instructed the students who desire to participate to bring a 250-word fiction piece with them. I will be critiquing their writing and offering advice for improvment. This I greatly look forward to!
Tomorrow I will be working on my third novel. The word-count has passed 46,000 and I am extremely pleased with how "The Key of Living Fire" is turning out! I am expecting to hear from AMG Publishers this week, in particular regarding the particular release dates of my novels.
. . . more coming on that later!


"Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." -Proverbs 16:24

In a world where morality is forsaken and Christ neglected, wholesome books are uncommon. The themes of my writing are love, self-sacrifice, and honor.

I see my generation turning from God to the gods of this world. I see homes torn apart in the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification. Children are murdered by the millions every year . . . without ever seeing the world outside their mothers' wombs. Through fiction I strive to encourage those who are willing, to stand against these things and be heroes and heroines; chivalrous, gentle, full of righteous indignation, and the fear and love of their Creator.