23 January 2020

BAM! KAPOW! SPLATT! THWACK!


(Thank you, 60's Batman, for the onomatopoeia.)

Why does the answer to everything seem to be violence?

Books, movies, real life. Blood, gore, guns. Maybe I'm too much a wuss for this. I don't believe every problem needs to be solved by punching, shooting, blowing up, or some form of superhero power liberally applied.

It's inescapable. In my first fantasy novel, I gave one of the heroes a sword. He refused to use it again after seeing the aftermath of his warmongering. He gave it away. In my new WIP, one of the protagonists refuses to carry a gun, although almost everyone in his world does. He knows his refusal will not change a damn thing but it aligns with his values.  Which probably align with mine, since every character, at its core, is me or evil me or pissed off me or head in the sand me.

The Folly of Youth

 

When I was younger and in the Army as an engineer, I took great glee in blowing up things like bridges, tossing hand grenades with abandon, and shooting my rifle at targets, never connecting that if I went to war, I would be required to apply these methods to people.

Then I learned to use words. Words are molasses poured over the violence urge, or gasoline tossed on the pyre. Used judiciously they support and defend. Used viciously, they flay. I do believe they have power over the sword if only to blunt the edge. Unfortunately, people are moving away from the written word, the spoken word, the lovingly crafted word toward a society of shouty words and half-baked memes standing in for a thoughtful conversation.

That's a shame.

All you poets and writers keep on doing what you do. Society needs you now, more than ever. Fight the good fight. Maybe it's your words that will change the world for the better, or at least plant a seed.

27 December 2019

The Kindle Dilemma



My bookshelves are crowded. Really crowded. They have been for years so when Kindle became a thing, I got one. It didn't stop me from buying books. I just became more judicious about my paper choices. Most non-fiction is a hardcopy purchase. Almost all fiction is a Kindle purchase, unless I know I'm going to reread it over and over, like LOTR and Dune. Poetry is hardcopy because poetry often doesn't transfer well to Kindle. When I formatted Piccola Poesie for Kindle, I spent an inordinate amount of time making sure the poems looked right in the electronic version.

Kindle has become my bookshelf in more ways than one. Now I have so many books on it I can't find things if I want to reread them. It doesn't happen often. Usually, I read then delete off the Kindle to save space. It stays on my Amazon account if I need to download it again. By the last check, I have over 900 books available in my account for my Kindle. Gulp. Then I went and signed up for Kindle Unlimited so I have even more books to choose from. I may have a problem. 

Can You See Me Now?

I know people practically get in fistfights over paper vs. electronic. I like both. I read a lot more on the Kindle than I do paper. It's hell to get old and not be able to read the tiny print in a paperback very easily. My appearances at used book stores have dwindled because of that. On the electronic reader, I can up the type for my crappy old eyes. 

Another advantage is when I put the Kindle app on my iPad and phone I can have my book available almost anytime, anywhere. It helps me read a lot. 2-4 books a week (fiction). It's not as many as it sounds, I also read really fast and always have. I read at dinner. Read at lunch. I read in downtime waiting for appointments. Books are easier to do that with than knitting, although I have been known to carry an in-progress sock around to kill time when I have to think about MY writing. 

I recently swiped my way back through the Kindle carousel. And swiped, and swiped. There are a lot of partially read books on there. 37%, 52%, some even abandoned at the 89% mark. I buy books and I download a lot of free books. I quit worrying about it and if the book doesn't live up to my expectations of a good story, I abandon it. Even at 89%. If it's lost my interest, it's lost my interest. 

My biggest pet peeve is the character, told not to do something, immediately does what she was told not to do. Surely there is a better way to move your plot forward? Willful stupidity makes me toss the book. Used to be when I bought a physical book I felt obligated to see it through to the end. That feeling is going away. 

Tick-Toc

Time is short. Not just because of the workday but because life itself is careening to a close. (Damn birthdays for making me feel that.) So much to read and enjoy. The mountain of books getting published every year is daunting. But I'm doing my best to make a dent in the To Be Read pile. If it topples over and buries me (physically or electronically) I'll die happy.

How do you tackle your reading material? Physical, electronic, cuneiform?

24 November 2019

Staying Afloat in a Writing Ocean

Message in a bottle


What's true with the rest of life/hobbies/interests is true with writing. So many facts and details to keep
track of. I really want to keep up with what's going on in the writing industry, so I read blog posts and 
tweets and articles and books and newsletters. You know what? It's too much information to absorb. 
You can read too much about how to do things and it can be paralyzing as all the advice you read rolls
through your head when primarily there should be the story, or poem up there. 
Or at least that's how I want it to be. The information also paralyzes by raising doubts. Do I have story 
beats, plot structure, character arcs, action, a catchy opening? That can lead to obsession and 
reworking things over and over again until the piece is informationed into a hot mess. Then you say 
Argh, I can't do this, I'm going to take up knitting. (Knitting is a lovely hobby. Highly recommend.)

Social Media Overload

It's also intimidating to read breezy posts about how someone tweeted something and had an agent the
next day. Or has 20,000 followers and aren't even published yet. It's exhausting to think of social media
and the time sink of promoting yourself. It doesn't stop me from gritting my teeth and posting cheery
—okay, okay, mostly sarcastic—stuff. Maybe I'm too old for social media. But it's probably because
I'm way too private a person to hang my laundry out for the world to see. I was told cultivated glimpses
were the answer to that. A thought worth exploring. I think I can do that and still be my sarcastic self. 
That's definitely me, too. 
Reading agent blogs/websites/tweets is a whirl of conflicting information. Query like this, no, like this. 
Start your novel like this, no, like this. Same with writer's forums. So much chaff to sift through to get 
to the nuggets. The time sink can swallow you whole. Of course, what it all comes down to is, do the 
best you can. If it's not good enough for one person/publication, shrug and move on to the next. 
I gave up taking it personally a long time ago. I have skin of mithril. It leaves bruises, 
but they heal quickly. 
And what's up with all these contests? The lists to find places to submit have more contests than 
regular spots. I just want to submit some poems or a book/chapbook, not pay $20-30 for the privilege 
of doing so each and every time. It's like The Hunger Games of writing, but the odds are never in your 
favor. The slow grind of society is monetizing everything and offering shortcuts, advice, and 
motivation—for a price. I need to be able to afford yarn and dog food also. 

Throw Me a Rope

There are so many places to send poems and novels it's overwhelming. Research can cut the odds 
considerably but suspiciously feels like sending a message out in a bottle—the same time frame for 
a response also. The writing industry is an ocean and I'm out there on a paddleboard. But I really like 
the ocean so I stay and play. Information can be your life preserver or boots filled with water. It's up 
to you to choose your own adventure.
What do you do to combat the tsunami of writing advice?

15 October 2019

New Poetry Book Release - Piccola Poesie



My new poetry book, Piccola Poesie, A Nibble of 100 Short Form Poems, is now available! 


Piccola Poesie contains a variety of Haiku, Senryu, Tanka, and American Sentences that explore human relationships, our relationship with nature, and with everyday objects around us. The poems wheel through the seasons and incorporate observations and commentary in appreciation of everyday life. These short, easily digestible poems permit the reader to find answers to important questions like, 'What's up with cats, anyhow?' and why winter causes poets to rush outdoors to witness the season. Like macaroons, the reader can enjoy these poems as daily treats, or they can be gobbled down by the handful. 100 small-bite poems for a fast-moving world. 


You can find it in print form on Amazon at or as an ebook on Amazon on Oct 16th. For a limited time buy the hard copy and get the ebook for .99¢

(If you purchase, please consider leaving a review. The karma squirrels will smile on you.)

Happy Reading!

28 September 2019

Revising 101 (Housekeeping)


The most important thing to revision? Buy lots of ink cartridges and printer paper. You might be tempted to skip this step. Don't. This applies to both novels and poetry. Print that sucker out. I know, I know, it seems like a PITA to use all that ink and paper on something you just know is perfection. 

Trust me, it's not. Errors are insidious, from little things like the word 'out' instead of 'our'. Hard to spot. Or transposed letters because your eyes crossed when reading that particular section. Or words just flat missing. My favorite in my work is prepositions that go AWOL. Those suckers scatter like roaches when you turn on the light. 

Go Big or Go Home

The advice I scoffed at—at first—was to change the font of the work to something totally different, and enlarge. So I changed from Times New Roman to Arial. To Calibri. I still missed things. But when I changed it to Comic Sans 14 point. Oh, My. Errors stood out with big flashing signs. "You screwed up here! Notice me! (Pick the ugly font of your choice. It works.)

It takes a lot of paper to do this. I could use my novel as a doorstop. Or a firestarter. Somedays, it's Burn, Baby, Burn first and foremost in my brain. Oh, and paperclip every chapter together. Or bull clip it, or put in separate labeled file folders in a drawer. Because when you drop it—and you will—frantic sobbing won't put things back in order. Neither will the cat that chooses that moment to walk over it and sharpen his claws on stray sheets. 

If you hole punch after editing each page and put it in a binder, make sure you empty your hole punch sooner rather than later. Because if you accidentally knock the tray off, little white circles go everywhere. You'll be finding them for months. They defeat the suckiest of vacuum cleaners. You could always sprinkle catnip over it, and hope your static-y cat rolls in them and picks a bunch up. Then you can vacuum the cat. 

Let me know how that works out. 

What are your housekeeping revision tips?