Eclectic Ramblings From a Bike Riding, Sports Loving, Novel Writing Nerd.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Old School

Remember a couple of days ago when I mentioned being frustrated with the writing process?

Turns out all I needed was a pen and some paper.  I've spent the last few nights staring at my screen, not sure where to go next.  I tried brainstorming, outlining, free writing, none of it got me anywhere.

Today I grabbed my notebook and a pen and tried again.  Somehow the ideas popped right out.  I sketched out the outline of what I had so far, leaving blanks for where I was stuck.  I just started jotting down ideas until one stuck.  After that the rest just kind of fell into place.  Now I've got the direction I needed to connect the major plot points.  I'm sure a lot of the specifics will change but I feel like I have a map to get me out of the dead end.

There is just something about pen and paper for me.  I'm a stickler for fine tip pens too, can't write with anything else.  The feel of the pen drawn across paper is incredibly satisfying.

I could never write an entire book or even a short story that way though.  My handwriting is atrocious and only gets worse the higher the word count. It really seems to work for note taking, brainstorming, outlining etc.  For some reason I always want to do everything on the computer but I guess I need to embrace my inner anachronist (Is that even a word?  Who cares it is now).

Do you have any tricks or tips for getting unstuck, any favorite "old school" techniques that you use?



Thursday, September 19, 2013


Two days in a row.  Two days of writers frustration!  Today's is for a completely different reason but it still sucks.

I'm feeling very stuck with the book tonight.  I've got a great opening and written what I think is an amazing scene for the central turning point to the story.  I also have a pretty good idea how the story will end (just a few details to wrap up).  The frustrating part, as I'm currently finding out, is getting from that killer opening to that killer middle scene.  It's easy to write the hot points of the story but the journey between is just as important.  

The bad part is I'm still being productive, its just not coming  as fast as I want it to.  I have to start being content with even as little as 15-20 productive minutes each day.  I need to be realistic with my expectations.  

When I sat down and mapped out my plan for this book I gave myself more than enough time for everything. I'm actually two months ahead of schedule at this point.  But when the words start slowing down its hard for me to stay out of the dark spaces in my mind.

These are the days when Fat Dwight creeps back in and starts telling me I'm not good enough, that no one wants to read my crap. 

 (For those that don't know me I used to be super big time fat. Fat Dwight is my goatee wearing evil alternate universe self that pops up from time to time. He's kind of a dick.)

Anyway, I know I just need to keep plugging away and prove that asshat wrong (yeah I just called myself and asshat, spade=spade). 

What do you do when you start feeling stuck on projects?  

(No whiskey is not an answer.  Well, it is, just not to this question.)



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wise Words From Wil

So I'm kind of frustrated today.  Have you ever been associated with a person, company or whatever that turns out to be kind of sleazy, then you feel almost guilty by association?

That's me today.  I woke up this morning to find out a blog I had been writing for has been caught, pretty convincingly, plagiarizing other sites.  I'm not giving out any more details since I'm not in the businessnto burn bridges  but I'm sure as hell cutting ties.  

This really pissed me off.  I know I'm new to this but I work my butt off on even the silliest stuff I post.  To see someone ripping off other people's work so blatantly just made my skin crawl.  Now I'm not naive enough to think this isn't prevalent in a world where any and all information is at the end of a few keystrokes, but to be associated with it so closely, that smarts.

I feel dirty admitting I wrote for a site like that. Needless to say I won't be doing so any more.

I think the part that really rankles me is this was done for nothing more than page clicks.  I get the desire for page clicks.  Hell, I spent way too much time watching the page counts climb on the few articles I had up on the site, but it was for my own damn work.  I guess advertising dollars hold a lot of sway but damn, I don't know where people get the balls to do crap like that.  I don't get the "screw everyone else, I'm just out to get mine" attitude.

Life is so much simpler if we just remember:

Anyway, that's enough of a rant for tonight.  I'll be back with more short stories in a few days.



Tuesday, September 17, 2013



         She’d stumbled upon it as a schoolgirl.  She’d been running through the forest outside of town to escape the girls who hounded her at school.  She’d run until the tears had stopped then kept going until her lungs hurt.  Then she’d run even further.  She had no idea how long she’d been running but she stopped cold after emerging into the meadow. 

The forest had given way to the most beautiful sight she’d ever seen.  Her days were filled with bleak, post war landscapes that contrasted with the paradises of her dreams.  But the meadow had felt more magnificent than any dream, for it had been real.  White and pink dogwood trees had dotted the clearing.  The angelic sweetness of honeysuckle had brought a smile to her face.  A thin, silver stream had snaked its way between the flowering trees.  She’d looked on in awe, taking in the blush red of the azaleas that ringed her new found paradise. 

She had stepped cautiously into the clearing, not wanting to shed the image should it be no more than a cruel mirage.  She had reached to pluck a tender pink petal from the closest tree and finally accepted the meadow for the miracle it was.  As she’d taken in the view, tree by tree, flower by flower she’d realized this had been a garden once.  Someone had taken great pains to arrange the bushes and trees in an aesthetically pleasing pattern.  Heavy overgrowth indicated the garden pre-dated the old wars.  After all, who had time to tend such wonders anymore?

She had returned to the garden many times over the years, telling no one of her secret place.  Not even her closest friends knew to where she so often disappeared.  After her father died the visits had increased, occurring almost daily.   In these days of disease, starvation and constant fighting the garden brought a sense of peace and calm her life desperately needed.

Today she stood in the center of her secret garden and absorbed the serenity.  The boy had come to her again today.  His relentless pursuit of her hand seemed to have no end.  For years he had courted her affections, yet she could not reciprocate. He was too cruel, too self-absorbed for her to consider anything beyond acquaintance. 

Unfortunately he was the clan chief’s son.  As such he felt entitled to anything he wanted, including her.  She did not understand for she was not the prettiest, the smartest, nor the funniest girl in town.  In fact she was rather stubborn and independent.  This though, according to her mother, was precisely why he persisted.  For someone who could have anything he wanted, the girl who said no became infinitely more desirable.

He’d expressed that desire again today.  She’d been on her way to the market when he fell in step next to her.  He wasn't going to give up on her, he’d said.  He was to be the next clan chief, which would make her the most powerful woman in the town.  She could have anything she wanted.  Her mother would be well taken care of. 

None of it mattered to her.  He was a pig.  She could never be with someone who had such disregard for others.  She’d told him so.  He had not taken it well.

She had finished her errands and retreated here to find solace.  She sat at the edge of the stream with her back against a pink dogwood.  The scent of honeysuckle was stronger than normal.  The sweet aroma always relaxed her.  She arched her back, tried to work out the kinks earned during morning chores.  She reached into her pack and brought out a fresh peach she’d picked yesterday evening.  She lost her grip and it rolled away, several feet past her outstretched hand.

No matter, she thought to herself.  She reached out from within and the peach gently rolled back to her, coming to rest against her leg.  No one knew of her minds ability.  She’d noticed it early while doing schoolwork.  She’d been able to manipulate pencils, rolling them back and forth across the table.  She soon graduated to other small items but never really explored the ability.

She’d heard stories over the years of others with similar powers.  It was thought the post war radiation had some effect on certain people.  These minor mental abilities manifested from time to time but if found out exile usually followed.   People feared what they did not understand.  Always had, always would.  So she kept her abilities to herself, content with retrieving the occasional utensil or stray fruit. 

She reached down and picked up the peach, wiped a few loose pieces of grass and dirt from the skin, and took a bite.  It wasn't quite ripe and the tart juice ran across, then dripped from her fingers. 

A gentle spring breeze ruffled the flowers, sending a handful of petals cascading from their limbs.  The breeze carried them across the meadow.  This was her favorite time of year.  The spring had brought all of the garden’s flowers to bloom together.  The trees and bushes now lost their petals occasionally to the breeze or the casual pull of gravity.  The effect was a gentle, botanical snowfall that proved more healing than any doctor proscribed treatment.

She leaned back against the tree and closed her eyes.  The sun’s warmth pressed gently against her skin.  She slowly worked her way through the peach, pitching the pit into the stream with a quiet splash.  She exhaled slowly, forcing the last bit of air from deep inside her lungs as she felt her muscles begin to relax.  She concentrated on the pressure placed on her back by the narrow tree trunk.  The rest of her body began to disappear as she lost herself in the garden.  Finally, even the tree trunk disappeared from her thoughts.

Life’s worries left her.  The concerns that came with daily life blew away with the dogwood petals.   She let go of everything and just let herself exist, alone in her garden.

Time ceased to pass for her, yet when the shadow came to rest across her face she knew she had been gone for quite some time.  She didn't usually notice the shadows of passing clouds in this state.  The first clue that something was wrong was that she noticed the shadow at all.  Her face had cooled noticeably, the result of several minutes out of the sun.  She was mildly annoyed at the prospect of starting her meditation again.  She cursed the lingering cloud and wished it away without opening her eyes.

                Then she heard him cough.

She sprang up like a cat, jumping back to position the tree between them.  Her shoulder slammed against the trunk sending a shower of petals onto the breeze.  They fell in her hair, around her feet, were carried away by the stream.  The meadow’s peaceful beauty was now ruined by his mere presence.  She looked up to meet his gaze.

His smile made her stomach turn.  He told her how beautiful she looked, sitting beneath the dogwood with the sun on her face.  He’d never seen anything so wondrous he said.

She asked how long he’d been standing there.  He said only a few minutes.  Then, with a smirk, he admitted to following her from town.

Her head spun.  She’d always been so careful, making sure no one followed her.  This had been her sanctuary, a benefit surely to end should anyone else soil its grounds.  She had years of practice avoiding followers, cutting trips well short at even the slightest hint of an intruder. 

Yet here he stood, glaring at her with lust in his eyes.  She realized then her mother had been right.  He did not love her.  He probably didn't even find her attractive.  She was no more than a prize to be won, a challenge to conquer.  He could, and did have any woman he wanted.  All except her and that fueled his passion. 

She told him to leave, told him this was her private retreat.  He told her his family laid claim to all lands in the region, therefore the garden was his.  Tears welled up in the corners of her eyes.  Her heart ached for the loss of her refuge.  Her mind raced to calculate his intentions. 

He made them clear seconds later.  His speed surprised her.  He had her by the wrist before she even registered his movement.  As he pulled her towards him her foot shot out and connected with the inside of his shin.  The blow landed just enough for his grip to relax and she pulled free.

She felt his hand scrape across the fabric of her shirt as she turned and ran.  She heard him laughing as she leapt across the stream.  Her heart began to race, both from fear and exertion.   She heard his laugh growing closer. 

She expected the tackle that came next but not the blow to her head.  Bright white stars flickered in and out of her vision and she struggled to regain control of her thoughts.  Her breath escaped her as she landed on the grass, his full weight atop her.

He knelt across her back and laughed at her attempts to squirm free.  His large, brutish hands beat around her ears in a mocking show of power.  She thought to scream but realized none but the birds were within earshot.  Her temple exploded in pain as his fist crashed against her skull with terrible purpose.   She felt herself begin to fade.

When her mind cleared she was on her back, his weight pressed against her hips as he straddled her.  He leaned forward to take the kiss he said he was owed.  She tasted the salt of his blood as her teeth sank into the corner of his mouth.   Her own blood mingled with his as a fist connected with her mouth.  She would pay for that he said.

She felt his weight shift over her thighs as he pressed his hands against her elbows, pinning her to the ground.  He leaned forward again, bared his blood stained teeth.  She spit her blood into his eyes as he approached.  Her jaw broke as his fist returned.

Her mind retreated in on itself.  She knew she could not overpower him, yet a thought nagged at the back of her mind.  Something was just out of her grasp, something that would help her.
She turned her head to the side and saw the peach.

            She wondered if it would work.  She’d only moved pencils and fruit before.  How could it help her now?  She reached within herself and then out towards a nearby rock.  She heard him gasp as it glanced off his shoulder.  She turned her head to look him in the eye.  Yes, that was me she told him.

He hit her again and she felt the power rise within her.  Her heart began to race.  She realized there was much more inside than she’d ever thought possible.  She threw another rock.  This one hit him in the back.  His hands came off her arms.  She tried to wiggle free.

The sun glinted off the knife as he pulled it from its scabbard.  Her mind immediately discerned its deadly destination and she knew action was needed.

She reached inside one last time.  She reached with all she was, asked for all she had.  She closed her eyes and concentrated on him.  She felt something deep within, thought it was the pierce of his knife, realized it was something much deadlier.  Her body trembled with a great energy.  It welled up from a dark place in her mind and exploded out.  She lost control of herself, her mind, her body.

She heard him break, felt him fall limp across her.  She held her breath for a seeming eternity, afraid to move.  When she finally exhaled the sobs came in terrible waves.  Tears streamed down her face and her body shook.  She cried until the tears ran dry and her throat burned.

When she finally regained control she pushed his limp frame away.  His lifeless form tumbled onto the grass.  His eyes, devoid of life, stared at a cloudless sky. 

She had meant only to escape but had instead ended a life.  She felt nothing for him, but this power terrified her.  Whatever it was, whatever she was, no one could ever know.  She would take this secret to her grave.  For now though, she had to get out.  She knew she would never return.  She picked up her pack and strode solemnly towards town.

As she reached the forest’s edge a breeze passed through the garden.  A shower of pink and white cascaded from the trees and blanketed the grass.  But she did not see it for her back was turned on the sanctuary that had become a nightmare.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fan Prompts: My Life As A Truck Stop Bathroom

So a few days ago I started a writing prompt exercise with you guys. I'll be asking occasional questions and using your answers to prompt a short story. I'm looking for weird, fun, off the wall, interesting topics. 

The first question was: If you could set a story anywhere it would be_____________.

Jim Norman suggested a Truck Stop Bathroom. Well, here you go Jim.

Let me tell you, it ain't easy being a truck stop bathroom.  I've seen some things man.  The kind of stuff you just can't un-see.  And I'm not even talking about the hygiene issues that come with being a bathroom.  Sure, I've seen my share of last minute chimchanga accidents, or "I'm way too hung over to be long hauling today" vomit fests, or even the occasional weirdo who drops trou to his ankles at the urinal.  Every truck stop sees that stuff.

No, I'm talking about the really, crazy, "I need to call my mama cause I can't explain what I just saw and now nothing in life makes sens" kinda things.

There was the time the super fat guy, I'm talkin four bills fat, came out of the shower and realized he was alone.  He proceeded to go all Buffalo Bill on me and started dancing in front of my mirror.  I don't know how he found the damn thing to tuck it in.  I mean this dude was huge.  If I had hands or a mouth I would have called the cops 'cause I'm sure he was hiding a  skin suit and a basket of Lubriderm in the cab of his truck.

Or there was the time that couple snuck in at 2:00 in the morning, feelin all amorous.  Nothing against a little clandestine slap and tickle but you know, there are some people that you don't mind seeing nekkid and then there are those that just...well, the term pigs in heat comes to mind.  Lordy!

Oh yeah, there was the time that dog came in and started talking to me.  We had this crazy philosophical discussion about the merits of the Anarchist political movement.  I tell you by the time he left he had me firmly convinced that what we need is a stateless society based on non-hierarchal free associations.  No seriously, talking dog.  Right hand to God. No, it didn't have anything to do with the truckers smoking a bowl in the shower just before.  Nope.  Talking dog.  Swear...To...God.

Of course, I've seen some pretty cool stuff too.  I'll never forget Roger.  He was a drifter that showed up from time to time.  He'd hide from Mary the manager and sleep in the showers every once in a while.  Most of the truckers knew about him and helped him out when the could,  few bucks here, a sandwich there.  They'd even distract Mary so he could skedaddle when she heard he was around.  Well one night Jerry, one of the long haul guys for J.B. Hunt, stopped in looking for Roger.  See Jerry'd won a truckload of money in the lottery and when he found Roger he showed him a bag full of cash.  He told Roger the money was his as long as he got cleaned up, even offered to pay for rehab.  Soon as Roger stopped cryin they walked out together.  I haven't seen Roger since but last I heard he was sober two years and holding down a job for the trucking company Jerry started.

Yeah, I've seen some things.  There's days where I wish I had, you know, legs or a mouth (that truckstop pizza smells so damn good) but being a truck stop bathroom ain't all that bad.  Never a dull moment, you know.

 I mean, it could be worse.  I could have been a Port-A-John.  Those guys really got a shit deal

(See what I did there?)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Visitors

The visitors approached the blue planet with great anticipation.  They had traveled across the galaxy visiting many worlds.  They had colonized a few but the blue planet was special to them.  They had never seen a planet so lush and beautiful, so unique.  They would have gladly taken up residence had the world not already been occupied upon their first visit. The blue planet became a recurring visit instead.
The planet had orbited its sun some two hundred times since their last visit.  They approached with great curiosity as to the evolution of the inhabitants. The natives had begun to spread out by their last visit, touching virtually all corners of the planet.  The visitors were curious to see how civilization had advanced, how they made use of the precious jewel they inhabited. 
The visitors activated their sensor array as they entered the yellow sun’s gravity well.  Radio waves immediately bombarded the ship.  It quickly became clear great technological leaps had been made since their last visit.  The sounds held no meaning for the visitors but the presence of the broadcasts provided the ship with an abundance of excitement. 
As the visitors continued their journey sunward they considered the possibilities of what they might find.  Worlds this lush and rich were rare.  In all their travels this was the only such planet inhabited with native intelligence.   The growth in technology suggested the inhabitants had discovered the abundance of raw materials the blue planet held for them.  Perhaps they had finally learned to share in that wealth and work together to better each other. 
The blue planet began to fill their view screen as the visitors approached orbit.  The din of audio and video transmissions filled the ship.  The visitors were awed by the sheer number they recorded.  As they entered orbit they began to see why.  Artificial satellites formed a metallic sphere above the outer edges of the planet.  As the visitors scanned the satellites it became clear most were used for communication.   Several appeared to be exploratory in nature, fixing mirrors and telescopes at the system’s star, the planets and even into deep space.  Most though appeared to be inactive, nothing more than flotsam orbiting a once pristine sky.
The visitors settled into orbit and fixed their gaze upon the planet.   Their eagerness and excitement quickly turned to dismay.  What had been a pristine, verdant landscape, marked only by the occasional city, was now scarred by overpopulation and misuse.  Large sections of once lavish forests were laid waste by the sprawl of development.  In other areas the ground had been torn away in crude attempts to access buried resources.  City centers grew horizontally and vertically, a sign the population had grown too large, too fast.
A scan of the atmosphere revealed further damage.  The air above the massive city centers was choked with noxious fumes.  Sky that had once been unblemished was now rendered impure.  A delicate balance had been tipped towards poisonous by the overuse of crude and inelegant fossil fuels. 
While the advances in technology were fascinating, the sacrifices made to achieve them were shocking.  A bountiful planet such as this should not be wasted so thoroughly.  It became clear the planet’s inhabitants continued to live fractured lives, separated from each other.  How could the inhabitants not see the wealth they squandered?  How could they ignore the possibilities just beyond their fingertips? 
The visitors listened to the broadcasts, watched the video transmissions.  Though the languages were unfamiliar, the tone was clear.  This was a planet in turmoil.  It became apparent the technological advancements were driven by the types of war most worlds eschewed.  Where most civilizations learned to abhor violence and embrace collaboration, this world seemed to thrive on death.  Great machines of brutality dominated the visuals emanating from the planet.  The world was at war and the scale of death was astonishing. 
The visitors watched on in horror for several days.  On the seventh they witnessed the end.
They watched as pointed cylinders were thrown into the sky, trailing long white plumes behind tails of fire.  Hundreds of them erupted from one of the great continents, the first sign of the end to come.  Within moments the remaining continents belched forth their responses.  The instruments of death soared past the cloud layer and into orbit, tracing elegant arcs through the polluted sky.  The visitors watched on in horror as the weapons returned from the edge of space towards the planet surface.
Clouds began to grow upwards from the scarred terrain.  Thousands of them littered the planetscape.   The clouds climbed higher and higher as they multiplied, forming an image of the fungal forests of the visitor’s home world.    The grace and elegance of the scene belied the inconceivable death and destruction it produced.
The broadcasts ceased as the world went dark.  The lights winked out as the fires raged.  A once promising civilization lay in ruins, destroyed by its own hubris. 
The visitors pointed their ship towards the stars and moved on, leaving the once blue planet behind, in flames.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Back To Work

Yes I've been away for a few weeks.  I had a nice little vacation.  Well, I guess it was technically vacation in that I didn't have to go to work.  In reality it was much more exhausting than my real job.  I wouldn't trade it though.  I got to fly to Texas with my daughter to watch my baby sister get married. I was exhausted when I got home but I was so happy to see Rachel marry the man she's been waiting for.  Congrats Rachel and Ray.

But now I'm home, I've recovered from the obligatory travel cold (I think I may start flying in a HAZMAT suit) and it is time to get back to work.

While on the plane ride home I had a pretty cool idea for a short story.  I'm sure the lady behind me thought I was crazy when I started talking to my phone about aliens and nuclear war.  (By the way, how the heck did authors survive before iPhones with Voice Memo?)  Anyway, I put the story to the page when I got home and submitted it to an online magazine last week. That's two short story submissions this summer.  I'm still waiting for an answer.  I won't really feel like an author until I start getting rejected by publishers.

I've also been working a lot on the business end of things: figuring out my production costs, marketing strategy (don't forget to sign up for my email newsletter, top center tab, just below my face!) and the like.  I've had some great help from the folks at New Media Design on that front. I'm trying to treat this like a second job.  I'm working on getting my name out in the community so someone knows who I am when I'm ready to publish next summer so there has been a lot of research and planning lately.  It can't all be fun and games and aliens and toxic wastelands.

Anyway, I have the opening chapters for the book drafted and am working on revising and polishing them.  The plan is to use the opening hook as a preview when I launch my Kickstarter later this year so that should be ready to go soon.

Speaking of the Kickstarter I thought I would start spreading the word now and let everyone know what's going on with it.  The plan is to raise the money to cover my publication costs (Cover Art, Editing, a Print Run and initial marketing costs).  Including the cost of Kickstarter Rewards I'm looking to raise about $2500.  The rewards should be pretty cool too.  I'll be offering digital and print copies of the book as well as some cool thank you cards featuring the cover art.   I am lucky enough to be teaming up with Susan Van Sant on the cover art and she is going to be including signed prints of her final artwork. I'll also be offering signed copies of the book.  At the upper levels I'll also be offering a chance to work with me designing supporting characters.  I think this is one of the cooler reward types I've seen on Kickstarter.  It allows supporters to get involved in the project by naming a character after themselves or determining a character's appearance or personality.  I hope I get some takers on these rewards. I think it would be awesome to work with prospective readers this way.

Is there anything you would like to see as a reward if you were to back the project?  I'm open to suggestions.

Until next time!


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