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Thursday, December 31, 2009

My New Years Resolutions

So, I've written one novel, and am still trying to finish the one I got 50,537 words into during the month of November while participating in NaNoWriMo. For 2010 I have two new years resolutions when it comes to writing:

  1. Finish My NaNoWriMo novel.
  2. Edit my first novel to the point where it's ready to podcast.
Hopefully next year will see me podcasting my first novel. I already have much of the outline to the sequel written, and I'll be writing the second book in the series for NaNoWriMo next year.

Happy New Year everyone! Stay safe.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My New Tradition

This is my second year listening to an audiobook that fits the season well. It is by one of my favorite authors of all time. While searching the web for free audiobooks, as I'm always found to do, I came across a wonderful sight. They have recorded many classics, and put them out for free! The narrators they have are quite good, which can make or break an audiobook, and I highly recommend to you on this day before Christmas Eve, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. If you're not a fan of audiobooks, Lit2Go also has two ebook versions, an online and .pdf version. Enjoy, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!


Friday, December 18, 2009

A Poem by my Great Grandma Ruby

My Great Grandma Asta Ruby Brown passed away at the age of 99, just a couple months short of turning 100. She was a brilliant writer, and I just got to borrow three books full of her poems yesterday from my mom. Even in her 90s she would write us hand written letters on our birthdays, in perfect cursive script, and you could really hear her youthful spirit in those letters, as her voice had grown shaky and slower with age. I'm currently digitizing all of her work, and intend to publish them on a website once they're finished. For now I will share my favorite poem of the ones I've been able to read through so far.

The Old Farm

The old buildings are sagging and swaying tonight
And ghosts are abroad in the pale gold moonlight
The soft feet of destruction are sure but so slow
The farmhouse and the barn in their painful death throe
Still remain but are willing and sighing to go

The outside snowball trees can but partly obscure
The poor broken-down home that once held such allure
Tho' the view 'cross the water is just as before
With the lights from the town flickering as of yore
And the air--the clean air penetrating each pore

A lone bird on the tree in a song of lament
Seems to grieve over how all the past glories went
While the pink hawthorns bloom in memoriam tonight
With the snowballs so round and so purely white
Oh! The ghosts are abroad in the pale gold moonlight

Monday, December 14, 2009

NaNoWriMo, a Look Back

Today I printed and framed my NaNoWriMo winner's certificate. Its really just ink on a plain white piece of paper, held behind glass by plastic that I bought at the dollar store. Still, it means something to me. Now I know that I'm probably still years away from my first published piece of fiction, short story or novel; but that little piece of plain vanilla white paper with ink on it in the dollar store frame is a reminder that I did something I didn't think I could do. A friend asked me if I was doing NaNoWriMo, didn't really encourage me to do it, just a simple question, are you doing NaNoWriMo? I had heard about it in podcasts, and watched some of my favorite author's word count graphs go up last November on their NaNo profile pages, but I said, no. I can't do NaNo this year, I'm just too busy. I have an awesome wife and 1 1/2 year old son, I just wouldn't have time to do NaNoWriMo. But his simple question sparked my interest just enough. I thought, I've been wanting to write short stories next, maybe I'll write a whole bunch of short stories, but realized that I'd have to come up with a lot of short stories. I'd had a novel that I wanted to write soon because it had to do with the current economy, except in the future on a different planet. It was a YA Sci-Fi novel, I thought I've got quite a bit of notes on it, I'll write an outline and 50K will be a good length for a YA novel, after all my first novel only turned out to be 48K. I thought I probably would get to 30K if I was lucky, but hey, I would have half of a novel written in a month, that wouldn't be too bad! Well I did NaNoWriMo and to my surprise, I got to 50K words in 28 days. The other thing that surprised me was that my book wasn't near being finished, its still in act II actually. It will end up being around 90K I think, a proper sized novel by today's standards. So now I just have to finish it.

Doing NaNoWriMo was the most fun I've ever had writing, I highly recommend it if you've ever wanted to try writing a novel. It gave me a strong sense of community with the other thousands of writers doing the event during November. I didn't even meet anyone in person, but just knowing there were literally thousands of other people out there all around the planet, and even a large group in my home town, was very inspirational to get me to those 50K words. I was writing alone, but I wasn't really writing alone. With people tweeting their wordcount updates on Twitter, and having writing buddys on the NaNo site who's wordcount graphs I could see going up, it felt like I was in a community, it was awesome. I had a blast. Next November, give it a try, you won't regret it. Even if you don't make it to 50K, you'll have fun and hey you'll write more than you would have in the month of november. Check out their awesome site: NaNoWriMo

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Review of Critters.org On the Get Published Podcast

I'm going to have a small segment on episode 20 of Michell Plested's writing podcast Get Published! It's a review of a great website for writers to go and get their work critiqued called critters.org. If you're a writer, you should go and check it out, but more importantly you should listen to Mike's great podcast, he has great interviews with published authors, and a lot of great advice for those of us out there writing away with dreams of being published someday. Go and click on the link for Get Published above and download episode 20 when it comes out, better yet subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, or your preferred podcatcher, and listen to all of his other episodes, because they're awesome.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I Won NaNoWriMo!



In 28 days I was able to write 50,000 words. It was the most fun I've ever had writing, and it showed me just how productive I can be when I put my mind to it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why My Watch Chimes

I bought a watch recently in hopes that it would encourage me to start running again, also I have become sick of lumbering my cell phone out of my pocket just to see what time it is, a flick of the wrist is much better. I haven't owned a watch in half a decade, mostly because I thought it detracted from my punk rock look. I’ve since begun to dress normal again. Now I like the way a watch dresses up my wrist a bit. Suffice it to say I had not owned a watch in such a long time that I forgot what the chime feature was. When it's turned on your watch will beep on the hour. Why would I want my watch to beep every hour you ask? To remind me. To remind me that this life is short and time is flying by. I’m going for that same feeling I get after leaving a funeral. I’m not talking about the sense of loss or sadness, but the realization that this life is short and someday I'll be dead too. Don't let that statement depress you, but rather spur you on to live your life with fervor. This encourages me to stop living in the moment, and start living my life productively. If you have goals or aspirations, start working on them now instead of watching TV every night. All of those sayings about how fast time passes you by are true. The older you get the more you realize it. When you have kids, you see it even more easily because they grow up so fast. So remember your time is precious and that you should use it wisely. Every time my watch chimes I can't believe another hour of the day has gone by.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Writing Every Day & Future Plans for My Fiction

I've heard a lot of writers say in interviews how important it is to write every day. I've always thought, well that would be nice, but I just don't have the time. This month I've been doing NaNoWriMo and its shown me how great writing everyday can be, and that for the most part I can make the time most days. I still don't think you need to write everyday to become a pro, but I do think it helps a lot. It's so much easier to stay in the story when you approach it again every day. Also, I am able to chip away at writing a novel. Even if I only get 500 words in on one day, three more days of that is 2K! I think this method will work much better for me than waiting for free time to sprout up, where I can feverishly write as much as possible in 1 to 2 hour spurts every other week or so. So moving forward, I am going to try and write, or edit, something every day. Once I finish this nano novel, I'm going to start editing the first novel I wrote, get it in the hands of readers, get feedback, heavily edit it multiple times and then podcast it! I can't wait to start that process, it will be very exciting. I have a lot of experience recording voices and instruments, as well as editing audio from going to art school, being in bands, and I've edited audio and video professionally at work as well. So it should be something to listen to once it's out there, though I know we'd all rather have decent audio with a great story, than a crappy story with great production, so I hope the story is what will keep people coming back for more. I'm going to say it will be late 2010, but we'll see. My wife is gearing up to coach a lot of away gymnastics meet and I might find myself with a lot of freetime on the weekends, I know exactly how I'll use that time!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NaNoWriMo Progress in Excel Beauty



DayTotal WordcountGoalDaily Wordcount
Nov. 0122791666.6666672279
Nov. 0249613333.3333332682
Nov. 03629750001336
Nov. 0474896666.6666671192
Nov. 0586578333.3333331168
Nov. 0610386100001729
Nov. 071634811666.666675962
Nov. 081772613333.333331378
Nov. 0919916150002190

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Nano Updates, and a Couple Great Nano Podcast Interviews

As you may have read on my last post, I'm doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for the first time this year. So far it's going great, here are my personal stats:


Day Daily Wordcount Wordcount Total
Nov. 01
2279
2279
Nov. 02
2682
4961
Nov. 03
1336
6297

For the most up to date view of my word count, check out my nano page:
My Nanowrimo Page

Also check out these two interviews on these excellent writing podcasts:

Get Published
Episode # 17

I Should Be Writing
Episode # 135

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hutch's Book & I'm Doing Nanowrimo

Man, I hate it when my blog gets hacked by clones! (Scroll to the previous post if you don't know what I'm talking about) That was pretty cool seeing the Podiobook author (something I plan on being) J.C. Hutchins release his first print edition novel through St Martin's Press: 7th Son Book One Descent<-listen to it on podiobooks.com for free (warning lots of language, rated R). He put his book out for free as a podiobook back in 2006, built up a bunch of fans through a good story and sheer genius marketing, and he found a publisher for his book! Amazing. Yesterday he had fans let one of his fictional computer hacker characters hack into their blogs and twitter accounts. It was really fun, and a great way to spread the word about his print release.




Anyways, I'm doing Nanowrimo this year for the first time! What is Nanowrimo you ask? It stands for National Novel Writing Month. That's right, the goal is to write a 50K novel in the month of November. I don't think I'll be able to get 50,000 words in 30 days, but I'm sure I'll have over half of a novel written, which will be so awesome!

If you're doing Nano too, I'd love to be your writing buddy, so click here My Nanowrimo Page and add me.

Wish me luck, I've got quite a bit of the outline done so I should be ready to go this Sunday when November is officially here!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CONTENT OVERRIDE: KILROY2.0 IS HERE!!!



>>>  [ WARNING ::: DATABASE ERROR ::: CONTENT OVERRIDE ::: SOURCE: EXTERNAL ] <<<

> source terminal location: UNKNOWN
> source terminal identity: UNAVAILABLE
> source login information: ENCRYPTED
> message begins

 the post you are now reading is designed to dull your senses to THE TRUTH.  do not live the life of the worker bee, the cog, the well-oiled piston in the MACHINE OF DECEIT!

there is a grand CONSPIRACY afoot.  you have been taught to believe that you are UNIQUE, one of a kind. THIS IS NOT TRUE. long ago, a cabal of scientists created technologies to ensure that ANYONE'S MIND AND BODY can be duplicated.

human cloning isn't NEAR. it's already HERE. discover the truth at http://JCHutchins.net

you are being DECEIVED. break free from the cogs, flee the hive, become A PROPHET OF THE TRUTH!

kilroy2. was here ... kilroy2.0 is everywhere

>>> [ CONTENT OVERRIDE CEASES ::: DATABASE STATUS: RECOVERING ] <<<

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reading On the Go

If you're like me, you can't find enough time to read. I have a question for you, do you have anytime where you could listen to some fiction? I have a 45 minute commute to work each day, but it's enjoyable because I've got a whole bunch of audiobooks, and podiobooks to listen to. What is a podiobook you ask? If you know what a podcast is, then you can see, a podiobook is simply someone podcasting thier book, or a podcast audiobook. One great thing about podiobooks is, they're free! I'll recommend some good ones in this post, but back to my little story here. I consume at least one book every two weeks. That's right, and no, I don't have time to sit and read, ever. Any scrap of free time I can scavenge up, I use to write. So I challenge you, give it a try. Go and get a podiobook, and see if you don't get hooked. Or if you want to go and buy a traditional audio book, the two audiobook narrator's I highly recommend: Frank Muller, and Scott Brick. The narrator makes or breaks if an audiobook is any good, trust me. If you're looking for traditional audiobooks for free download, I suggest Project Gutenberg, although be careful, because a lot of the books there are read by volunteers, which is great, but you get different readers throughout the book instead of one narrator, and some of them are bad readers, or they don't have the best sound recording set up so the quality isn't always great. However, there are some great audiobooks there. They're free because they're all books that have gone into the public domain, meaning their copyright has expired. I highly recommend The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I've given you a direct link to the page with the amazing narrator. For some reason, they also have a version of this book with volunteers reading it, but I don't know why when they already have such a great version up. Oh well, to each his own.

Here are a few recommendations for excellent Podiobooks:

SCIENCE FICTION
- Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell
- Space Casey by Christiana Ellis

FANTASY
- Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword by Tee Morris
- Murder at Avedon Hill  by P.G. Holyfield

ADVENTURE/YOUNG ADULT
- Pirate Jack by Alessandro Cima

Tell me if you don't get hooked on consuming fiction through audio!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

First Critters Submission

Today my first submission went live into the que to get critiqued at http://www.critters.org/

I eagerly await what other writers think of it. If you're not a member of critters, you can read my Sci-Fi short story, His Last Day here:
http://danabsostories.blogspot.com/

I would love any comments you have.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Update on Short Story Progress

I added another 2,000 words, last night. This is the third story I've written that I know I'll complete. I feel like the first draft is a bit more polished than it was on my first two stories. This is very encouraging to me, I think I've learned some things, and it seems they're beginning to show in my work!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wrote about 1,000 words today, it felt good. 5,000 feels better, but you take what you can get.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My New Way of Wriitng

A new way I've been writing is on my Blackberry. I'm not saying it's ideal, but you'd be surprised how fast you can get used to the little keyboard. I was a skeptic myself. It fits into my busy life. The other day I was waiting for an order to come out in a restaurant for about 10 minutes. I pulled out my blackberry and wrote quite a few long paragraphs while I waited. I use the time I'm not writing to solidify what I'm going to write next, so when I finally have even ten minutes to write, the words just fly out. I used to always try to carry note cards and pen, but they're easy to lose. In my blackberry, I just hit save, or email it to myself, and it's backed up. Also, since it's my phone, I always have it with me. No more notes on scraps of paper! I wrote this very blogpost from my Blackberry.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My First Completed Short Story!

I would love for you to read a short story I wrote, and leave comments.

Just click on this link: His Last Day

Enjoy!

Dan

Friday, August 21, 2009

Podiobook Review: Murder at Avedon Hill
By: P.G. Holyfield

Really great story, and excellent production. Not only is it fun to hear all the voices, but to hear other beloved podiobooks authors and new media types in there is a real treat. That said, even if this was a straight read, I would have listened all the way to the end because the story is solid. It's really fun, great characterization and adventure. P.G.'s voice lends itself well to the whole feel of the podiobook, I really got a great sense of the environment, and a certain style which I grew to love as I listened through this title. I highly recommend it, if you haven't listened to this one yet, you're missing out!

Check it out on iTunes, or at:

Podiobooks.com

Podiobook Review: Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword
By Tee Morris

I loved it! It had me laughing all the way through. The story was great to, I couldn't put this one down, and never became bored. I really liked the melding of the fantasy and mystery genres. Who would have thought that would work? But this here book is proof that it shines. I can't wait to read Pitcher's Pendant!

Check it out on iTunes, or at:

Podiobooks.com

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Book Review: The Book of Joby
By Mark Ferrari

So, I just finished a big fat fantasy novel. I know what your thinking, the farm boy found out he's the chosen one, and he leaves all he's known to go on a quest with a new found mentor, who later dies, but he continues on...yeah yeah, I know; but that's not this novel. What if I told you this fantasy novel put out by Tor takes place in modern times? Right in California to be exact; and it all starts with a bet between God and the devil. Ringing a bell? There is also the reincarnate of King Arthur, Lancelot,Guinevere, and even Merlin! Then there are the angels, demons, and they all interact in very fun and interesting ways. This is no novel stuffed with padding of exposition, it's all super fun story! Which is why you'll swear it read more like a novella than a 638 page book. Check out www.markferrari.com to read a couple sample chapters and even hear the author read the prologue in the Excerpts area if you don't believe me. Trust me, this is one brick of a fantasy novel you'll be glad you picked up.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Writing Podcasts Worth Listening To

One of my favorite podcasts, Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing, is back in production! For their first episode back they featured Greg Van Eekhout, author of Norse Code. It was gone for four months while the main host Shaun Farrell was busy moving his family and starting a new career. If you go and listen to the podcast, you'll join me in saying we're all glad he and his co-host Sam are back!

Let me take this opportunity to list my favorite writing related podcasts. I have learned a whole lot about the craft of writing, the publishing world, and what being an author is really like for some by listening to these great podcasts. I recommend finding all of these podcasts in iTunes, it's much easier than downloading each podcast manually. But it's also fun to look at their sites so here they are:

Writing Excuses
Get Published
Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing
The Secrets
Holly Lisle On Writing
I Should Be Writing
The Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy
Writers Talking
The Writing Show
The Creative Penn

Enjoy! You'll thank me later :)


Saturday, June 27, 2009

A New Way To Come Up With Character Names

Stick your blackberry in your pocket without the keys locked, then go and play a sport or do some outdoor work. When you're done, pull your blackberry out of your pocket and see what you've got. You may need to rearrange some things and add some vowels, but you'll have the start of something :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Take the Time To Slow Down

If you're like me, your life is really busy, and at times a bit stressful. Do you feel like you're constantly going, or even constantly in a rush? I wanted to hit on how helpful it can be to take little breaks in your life to chill out and let yourself wind down. I've got a few ways to do this that don't include drinking alcohol, or anything else like that! So I hope they are helpful to you, and can in some way enrich your life, and help you to slow down every once in a while. A word my brother came up with that I think describes this well, is chillax. For the writers, try these when you get writers block.

To the guys reading this, you may call me metro, but I dare you to try this first one out, then come back and leave a comment and tell me what you thought. I learned this one from my wife, trust me, the candle really helps. Take a good half hour or so from your evening, kids are in bed, the house is quiet. Draw a bath, and also put a candle somewhere in the bathroom. When is the last time you actually took a bath? If you’re like me it’s been years; I'm a shower man myself. Seriously, draw a hot bath, light a candle, turn off the lights in your bathroom, close the door, and soak in the tub. Let the hot water and flickering flame melt away all of your thoughts towards things you need to do, problems in the story you're writing, or situations that are stressing you out. Try it, and I bet you'll feel unwound and relaxed afterword. I bet you'll even have more energy to go deal with those things that were bothering you.

Here is another great one. If there is a thunderstorm going on, and you have a space outside which is covered, take your wife, or go yourself if you're single, and sit under that space watching the storm. Don't let it go by while you sit inside surfing the web or watching TV, go outside. My wife and I were able to do this recently, we sat next to eachother, enjoying the sights, sounds, and eachother's company. We didn't even talk much as we watched the sky light up, and listened to the thunder rumble. We sat on our porch together, which is very small, but it was really fun. It almost felt like we were camping together, or on a date, and we were just sitting on our porch. I highly recommend this one, though you must rely on the weather for it, so you can't really go out and try it at anytime.

Another thing you can do, is purposefully take the long way round. Like me, you may feel as though you're constantly racing from one thing or place to the next. Sometimes it's nice to force yourself to slow down and relax. Take a different way, one that offers a better view. Or drive down the main roads, avoiding all those hairpin shortcuts you usually take. Use the time to enjoy the ride, music, and/or company you are with.

Here is one I know will be hard, because I've never done it myself. A friend told me that while in the grocery store, he will sometimes choose the longest line to stand in. He does this to remind himself to slow down in this very busy life. Perhaps someday I'll give this one a shot; if I ever find myself not in a hurry to get somewhere.

This one, I know you can do. Watch a movie that moves at a slow deliberate pace. I'm not talking about a boring movie, but one that's done with purpose, so that you'll pay more attention to the subtle things in the film. I recommend Capote, with Philip Seymour Hoffman. If you listen to the commentary, they say that the opening shots were designed to slow down the audience, from their busy lives. It's a shot of wheat blowing in the wind, and a train rolling down some tracks. The shots last much longer than you would expect them to, see if it doesn't slow you down a bit. 7 Pounds, K-pax, and Doubt are also good movies for this.

Finally, one of my favorites! Find a place where you can sit around a fire with friends, or even alone. You'll tend to watch the flames dance, and hear the wood crack as it burns. It a very soothing event for me. I bet you'll have much deeper conversations with your friends than you're used to. You will also probably remember that night, and keep it as a fond memory.

Personally I like the thunderstorm, sitting around a fire, movie, and bath things the most. Even though I still find the shortest grocery line, while waiting I sometimes think of the guy who stands in the longest one and am reminded to enjoy the small break, and use it as an opportunity to mentally chillax and realize that life is good, and I should take the time to enjoy it. For the writers reading this, lots of story ideas can come to your brain while you let it slow down; which is much better than getting all of those ideas at 3 in the morning, trust me!

I hope this is helpful, thanks for reading it. I will relish any comments you leave.

P.S. Listen to this sermon on sleep by C.J. Mahaney, it's really good.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Book Review: Tarzan of the Apes
By Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Greatest Adventure Story I've Read to Date!I have a new favorite book, and author. Edgar Rice Burroughs has completely won me over with his novel Tarzan of the Apes. I heard a respected fellow bibliophile co-worker praising this work once, and made a mental note to place it on my list of books to read. I'm so glad I heard him describe this masterpiece as a great book, it might have been years more before I had gotten to it! Not only is Burroughs a fine writer in the crafting of beautiful sentences, wonderful imagery, fine diction, and great descriptions of things; he's also a master plotter and story teller. I have loved many classics, as I've opened old volumes I always hear about. Among classics, many are stories of an inward journey only, and not much else exciting goes on in the story. I did find a very fine adventure story in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and cannot say much ill towards it, other than I disliked the characters of the Duke & the King so much, that I tired of reading about them, and wished to speed along in the story past where they dirtied it's pages. This I can see is only a preference; however in Tarzan of the Apes not only was there a fine story, but it kept me turning the pages at all times. There was never a moment where I grew slightly bored, but at all times could not wait to know what would happen next. I love Moby Dick, I love Great Expectations, I love The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; but Tarzan was as much of a joy to read as these titles, all the way through! Do yourself a favor, and pick this classic up. I'm sure you'll be able to find it for a very small price, or even for free as text and audio at www.gutenberg.org. You must come back to this page and comment on what you thought of the ending once you've finished the book. I will say nothing about it, but am very curious of what others think of it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Entry for Scott Brick's Share the Experience Audio Narrator Contest

Scott Brick, my favorite living audio-book narrator, is holding a contest. It is open to anyone who has never made a cent doing professional narration work. I've always thought how cool it would be to read books for a living, so I submitted myself reading a passage from Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I'm not expecting much, but thought it would be really fun to give it a shot. I've posted a link to my submission audio below. Enjoy, and please leave comments.


Click here to hear my submission

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

One Great Weekend with Crazy Going Ons

I had a really great weekend, even though one of my friends literally got punched in the face! I used to be in a band Dying To Live and I stayed with my good friend Ryan, the drummer of my old band. He lives with his brother, who is the vocalist for his new band 7 Horns7 Eyes. Check them out, they are really good. Anyways, after getting to hang out over some delicious Mexican food and ice cream with the incredible writer, Mark Ferrari, I went to go see my friend Aaron, one of the old guitarists for Dying To Live, play in his new band Surface Tension Surface Tension. There was a fight there, the first one I've seen in my whole life at age 26 thankfully, and then on our way from the show up to Aaron's house (guitarist in 7 Horns 7 Eyes) to hear the new drum tracks my friend Ryan recorded, someone trying to merge onto I-5 side swiped his car pretty bad. The jerk then gets out, swears at my friend, and then punches my friend directly in the face through the open car window. We all stayed in the car and called the cops, eventually seeing him taken away in hand cuffs, arrested for assault. It was a crazy night! But what a great day, getting to meet Mark Ferrari, an amazing author published by Tor, play baseball with my old band mates (another of whom is now in 7Horns7eyes, Sean Alf) and hear some of their new songs!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Classic Tales & Contemporary Albums II




Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
&
Eat, Sleep, Repeat by Copeland
The images of Dicken's Great Expectations are brought to life by Copeland's Eat, Sleep, Repeat. They go very well together. I rediscovered this album hiding away in my glove box. I had not spun it in my cd player to for over a year. This was soon after reading Great Expectations, and some of the tracks reminded me so much of Pip; all of his inner monologues, the odd miasma of Pip's childhood house, Ms. Havisham's house, and Bernard's Inn. I felt while listening to them that I was transported back to these places. Sitting with good old Joe Gargery while dreading Pip's sister and her beating stick the tickler. Standing in the dark room untouched by time in Miss Havisham's house, her gaunt figure sitting in that yellowed bridal dress, the room around us completely dilapidated to match. Sitting in at the fireplace in the dim Barnard's Inn, pondering on Pip's problems with his companion Herbert Pocket, or writing all of their depts down once more so they felt better about it. Read the book, and listen to the album, you'll see what I mean, it's wonderful.

I Finished My First Manuscript!!!


I didn't quite get to 50,000 words, but maybe in the rewrite process! I may end up fleshing some scenes out a little more. It feels great to have finally finished an entire book! I learned a lot more about plot and structure than I would have guessed. I can't wait to edit it, working on the writing itself now that I have the story elements worked out. I'm pumped!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Manuscript Update! Over the 40K Mark!


My new goal is 50,000 words. This story turned out to be longer than I thought it would be :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Another First Manuscript Wordcount Update!


Changeling III Act Structure Breakdown

Changeling
3 Act Structure Breakdown
Directed by Clint Eastwood
with Angelina Jolie, Gattlin Griffith, Michelle Gunn

Plot:
A mother's prayer for her kidnapped son to return home is answered, though it doesn't take long for her to suspect the boy who comes back is not hers. *source: www.imdb.com

Act I
  • We meet Protagonist and Secondary Character (Mother & Child), a loving mother and her son, life is good.
  • Mom's job calls her in, she can't keep promise to go to movies with son on Saturday, first conflict
  • Secondary character is missing, the Protagonist must find her son. This is the great conflict of the film which pushes us into act II, the Protagonist is now in a world without her son. (Plot Point # 1)
Act II
  • Protagonist tries to find boy with help of police by calling them, they don't help (1st false victory, falling action)
  • Protagonist continues search unsuccessfully, conflict becomes more intense (rising action
  • Police call mom, tell her they’ve found boy (false hope/culmination)
  • Mom finds out the boy police found is not her son (2nd false victory, falling action, midpoint)
  • She fights to find truth, policeman sends her to mental hospital
  • She is freed, because the truth is found that it’s not her boy (1st victory, rising action, Plot Point # 2)
Act III
  • Protagonist has new goal to get justice for what has happened to her and others put in mental hospital
  • Ladies are freed from mental hospital (2nd victory, rising action)
  • Policeman gets fired, court case won, murderer sentences to be hung (3rd victory)
  • Murderer promises to tell Mom he killed boy, so she can move on, but he doesn’t (all is lost)
  • Murderer is hung
  • Truth found, boy wasn’t murdered but got away, protagonist has hope her boy is still alive (denouement)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Classic Tales & Contemporary Albums


The Alchemy Index: Vol. II Water by Thrice
&
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne

You should listen to The Alchemy Index: Vol. II Water by Thrice while reading 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, they go very well together. It is like a perfect soundtrack to the novel. You could also read Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson while listening to this album, as they share some themes, but 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the Thrice album have the same tone, and so go very well together. They have much of the same somber feeling. You can feel the quiet wonder of the unending sea, and the massive world that lies beneath it.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Favorite Quotes From Favorite Authors

1."...said uncle Pumblechook, a large hard-breathing middle-aged slow man, with a mouth like a fish, dull staring eyes, and sandy hair standing upright on his head, so that he looked as if he had just been all but choked, and had that moment come to."

2."...with a bowl of battered small coins before her, as much defaced and beaten out of their original impress as the small coinage of humanity from whose ragged pockets they had come."

Charles Dickens - 1. Great Expectations 2. A Tale of Two Cities



"Valley View Cemetery, that gray-and-green island of tombs and trees and flowered paths a restful, leafy, whispering oasis lying like a cool piece of cloud shade on the luminous wheat plains north of town."

"Hickock's uneven eyes turned towards the visiting room; his face, puffy, pallid as a funeral lily, gleamed in the weak winter sunshine filtering through the bar-shrouded glass."

Truman Capote - In Cold Blood



"We felt meditative, and fit for nothing but placid staring. The day was ending in a serenity of still and exquisite brilliance. The water shone pacifically; the sky, without a speck, was a benign immensity of unstained light; the very mist on the Essex marshes was like a gauzy and radiant fabric, hung from the wooded rises inland, and draping the low shores in diaphanous folds."

Joseph Conrad - The Heart of Darkness

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Book Review: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea | by Jules Verne

An Underwater Adventure I Won't Soon Forget (Spoiler Warning)

There were many things Jules Verne did well in this novel. Two of the things I personally enjoyed, were his characterizations, and his imagery. The way you see Captain Nemo through the eyes of Professor Aronnax gives such a great and ominous view of him. Respect, horror; and yet you sense that Professor Aronnax takes quiet a liking to Captain Nemo. While not sharing the captain's world view, he finds an admiration for Captain Nemo as a colleague in the science of the sea, and as a fellow admirer of fine art, which Nemo has in the Nautilus's museum. Ned Land, the Canadian was a great character to have in the story, because he was like the one normal dude. He keeps things relatable to the average reader like me, who doesn't know all about marine science, and the like. His goals are the same as what the reader's would be if in his shoes. There are a few great haunting images I took with me after finishing this book. The underwater funeral at the coral graveyard. It had such a solemn and somber mood, being underwater, how much more silent can you get? It reminded me of when one of your wingmen died on the SNES game Wing Commander, one of my favorite games of all time, you would see them hold a silent funeral, on the outside of the ship in space suits, sending off the coffin into space with a gun salute. Just the sheer lack of sound out it space, is just like being underwater in this book. I also really liked the environment of the saloon and library onboard Captain Nemo's ship, the Nautilus, and the description of Dr. Aronnax sneaking through it as Captain Nemo plays on his Organ. What an intense, yet quite scene. I also really liked a scene where these two are high above the city of Atlantis, looking down. There are many scenes of quiet wonder, where you can picture yourself in the narrative, taking it all in, such wonder around you that you have no words to speak. Moments where it seems time has slowed down, and you just know it's going to be a memory you take with you once you leave. You should listen to The Alchemy Index: Vol. II Water by Thrice while reading this book, they go very well together, it is like a perfect soundtrack to the novel. You should also read Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson while listening to this album, they share some themes, but 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the Thrice album have the same tone, and go so well together. They have much of the same feeling, somber. You can feel the quite wonder of the unending sea, and the massive world that lies beneath it. The ending of this book seemed like a really weak cop out to me, it was very disappointing, but somehow it didn't ruin the book for me as some bad endings have. It was an awesome exciting big build up, and then a huge cop out, but it didn't take away all the great things that happened in Act II of the book. I would read it again, even knowing the ending, just to go on that great journey under the sea one more time.

Book Review: Journey to the Centre of the Earth | by Jules Verne

A Great Adventure (Beware of Spoilers)

This tale of Axel, his uncle Lidenbrock, and the formidable rad Icelander and guide Hans, was quite entertaining. Their journey to retrace the trail of Arne Saknussemm to the depths of the earth was much fun. I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of Axel's more regular behavior and reasoning to that of his uncle's extreme feverish moods and utter determination to go on no matter what the circumstances. Hans, my favorite character, was a solid rock free of all emotion, silently saving the other's from certain death on multiple occasions. There were some great moments where I feared for the lives of the travelers, and others where I in no way grew jealous of the travels they endured. I really liked the part where they came to the sea, discovered the forest of overgrown mushrooms, and sailed on their raft. A good read, and easier than Verne's 20,000 Leagues under the sea. I found the plot clever, when coming up with what to do while traveling underground through a tunnel, Jules Verne is proved is this volume to have a bright imagination.

Book Review: A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens

The Classic Christmas Story

This novella is a great read! I love Charles Dickens, and I would love for everyone to read his books, but I realize that many are a bit long and perhaps intimidating. For those of you who would like to see what Dickens is like, I highly recommend this book. It's a novella, or short novel, like Hemmingway's The Old Man and The Sea. Reading a novella is great because you can get into the story, enjoy it, and also have that great feeling of accomplishment in finishing a book in a short amount of time. For me, it was especially fun reading this because I started it on Christmas Eve, which is when the book starts. It is lovely to see the character of Scrooge go through a change of heart. The story is a very pleasant read, and full of great imagery. You can really see the dreary and cheerful scenery, as it is described so well with mood and tone. The pacing in this book is quite good. There is just enough history told to let you know of Scrooge's near past and associations with his late partner Marley without slowing the story down in exposition. I especially like it when Dickens describes all of the wonderful food with such fervor. It makes you want to jump into the pages and grab each and every kind of food he describes, and try it out until your stomach would burst and your taste buds be overloaded. I highly recommend reading this book around Christmas time, and if you've never read Dickens before; it's really a great story and is highly deserving of the title Classic.

Wuthering Heights is a well written dreadful story (beware of spoilers) Book Review

This book was well written, but hard to read because the characters are so awful, just deplorable human beings. However, as I read on I found a few characters to keep me on my quest of giving it's old prose a second chance. These were Nellie Dean of coarse, Catherine Linton, and Hareton Earnshaw. I hated this book in high school, but I must say, it's much better than I remember. The character's moral temperment made me loathe them, and reading about them. Their extreme emotion and passion, like Catherine's last embrace with Heathcliff was pretty cool, but at the same time, Catherine's love couldn't have been that great for Heathcliff if she married another for social status. If I met these people I would go on a diatribe about their moral character, but hey, if this was something new and different from other literature back when Emily Bronte wrote this, and she was trying to do something different with these characters than what was normal, then that is something to be commended. It all came together for me a little while after Linton Heathcliff's death and Young Catherine's livelyhood overtook her grief. I must say, she's a pretty tough cookie, though she can be a brat, she had enough in her to make me care enough to find out what would happen to her. I suppose I hated Heathcliff enough too, to want to see how his life would end and in what manner, though if Nellie, Catherine, and Hareton hadn't brightened the pages a bit, I wouldn't have cared enough to keep turning them till the denouement. All in all I give this dreadful volume a 4 because it was so well written, and though the story was rough because it's characters were so awfully wretched, a few beat through the dim to leave you at peace in stead of disgust as the story ended with a bit of joy; and though I didn't want to admit it to myself, this old Gothic tale became a page turner for me near the end, and I love page turners! May you live in peace young Catherine and Hareton, forgetting all of your families dark history!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Editing Tips

This is a four stage editing process I've come up with. I've thrown in advice I've gathered from reading books on writing, and listening to writing podcasts. I kind of broke it down into 4 phases to go through, starting broad, and then narrowing down. You could almost say you start with revision, and then get down into editing. I hope it is helpful to you.

Dan’s Editing Process

1. The Story as a Whole

  • Read it out loud, you'll catch things you wouldn't be simply reading through it.
  • Everything Make Sense?
  • Any plot holes?
  • Protagonist go through a change? Character Arc?
  • Problems too easily solved?
  • Each scene, character moving the story forward?
  • Anything boring, or slowing the story down?
  • Challenges have a strong enough conflict?
  • Any fluff that’s not adding to the story? Kill your darlings!


2. Breaking It Down Into Scenes

  • Break story into individual scenes, treating each scene as it's own story, does it work?
  • Characters acting believably to who they are?
  • Show don’t tell
  • No grocery list descriptions


3. Line Editing

  • Work from the last sentence to the first sentence in the last paragraph, read sentence to sentence then the full paragraph, all the way to the beginning.
  • Editing Checklist: Spelling
  • Spell check has been run.
  • "It's" and "its" have been used correctly ("it's" is a contraction for "it is"; "its" is possessive).
  • All other homonyms -- which spell check would not catch -- have been checked. (For example, you wouldn't want to write: "She peaked through the blinds and saw the peek of Mt. Ampersand.")
  • Editing Checklist: Grammar
  • Dialogue is punctuated correctly.
  • Any run-ons or fragments are intentional (and even those are rare).
  • Subjects and verbs agree in number, and verb tenses are consistent throughout.
  • Commas have been used correctly.
  • "That" and "which" have been used correctly.
  • There are no unclear or confusing pronoun references.
  • Sentence structure varies in descriptive or expository passages. (Keep your reader interested.)
  • The sentences are concise.
  • Consideration has been given to word choice. (This means you have consulted a thesaurus.)
  • Basic facts have been checked (especially ones that would be embarrassing to get wrong).


4. Get Feedback

  • Use what you think is good advice, it’s still your book
  • Don’t get offended, use feedback, and thank them for it, they read it!

My First Manuscript Wordcount Update!


Working through the middle of the story!

Monday, February 2, 2009

First Manuscript


So, when you hit 50,000 words, it's considered a novel. I'm guessing my first completed manuscript will be more like 25,000. If I can get past 20,000 it'll be a Novella, like Hemmingway's The Old Man and the Sea. That's my goal, to pass up 20,000 words, but we'll see if my story needs to be that long.
-Dan