0135 – Blog Series Finale!

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For now, it looks like this is the end of the blog:

Being a Writer

~ Practicing the art of writing, while living a busy life

cropped-banner_02-26-2012.jpgHISTORY & REASONS:

When I first started this blog, my goal was to catalog my journey as I searched how to find time to write, while living a busy lifestyle. In other words, it was all for me (a common beginning to many things I undertake). I figured at the time, that if I blogged then some magical discovery process would happen and the following results would come out of that:

  • I’d become a better writer.
  • I’d actually complete more projects instead of having twenty-seven unfinished projects.
  • I’d get published through a traditional publisher by submitting one of those finished projects.
  • Maybe my own discoveries and success would be of benefit to others:
    • Who also struggle with sporadic writing habits.
    • Who feel life is getting in the way of writing.
    • Who want to eventually make the transition from hobby writer to published author.

I have little evidence for this next statement. . . but I think most bloggers blog for the following reasons instead of the reasons I started my blog:

  • They hope to gain subscribers who will comment and give them some validation that what they are blogging is of value.
  • They hope to gain subscribers / traffic in order to generate revenue from their blog.
  • They hope to establish a platform / brand for themselves as a writer or use the blog to market and support another business endeavor they are involved in.

I obviously had none of those goals in mind when I started this blog a few years ago. This blog has become more of a personal journal log that I’ve chosen to make public. That does not mean the other reasons someone might blog are any less noble or of value than my own reasons for blogging.

What does this mean for this blog?

  1. It could be the series finale. Like in a TV Show, there are season finales (story ends for now, but will restart in a future date) or series finale (where the story is done. No more coming in the future.) Today it looks like this chapter in my public posted story is over.
  2. Or this may turn into a season finale. Depending on what happens in the future with my status of moving from writer hobbyist to indie publisher to prolific published author, this blog could get resurrected in the future.
419mbXgCDtL._SX374_BO1,204,203,200_IMAGE SOURCE: AMAZON PRODUCT PAGE

Recently, I finished reading, ‘Kill Your Blog’ by Buck Flogging (aka Matt Stone). In a lot of ways that read was similar to, ‘Damn! Why Didn’t I Write That?: How Ordinary People Are Raking in $100,000.00… or More Writing Nonfiction Books & How You Can Too!’ by Marc McCutchen. Both books confirmed the changes I’ve already been moving in the direction of:

  • To sustain myself financially and eventually quit my day job, I should pursue non-fiction writing
  • Fiction writing can be a hobby, after I’ve met my daily non-fiction writing word count
  • Several of the my blog posts could be turned into books. Why not turn them into books; sell the books and generate some funds, which will help build my author platform?
  • I’m actively doing writing in other areas (i.e My Amazon reviews are ranked #258 out of millions, at the time of this writing), but I could be writing books instead.

Life isn’t any less busy, but busier. Yet, I’m getting the writing done!! Maybe why I started this blog has already paid off and I have subconsciously learned the lessons over the last few years that I initially set out to discover.

Currently life is busy with the following:

  • Enrolled in two college courses, one of which is a compressed Accounting II course and the workload is no joke!
  • I work 40-50 hrs a week, as the sole provider for my family.
  • I make time for my wife.
  • I make time for my four(4) teenagers.
  • I’m participating in NaNoWriMo 2015 and not falling too far behind in word count goal.
  • I’m involved in weekly bible studies through my church, participate in church board meetings and once a month lead Sunday School class for Junior Highers
  • I’m getting my daily fiction and non-fiction book reading done.
  • I’ve cut out most TV and withdraw symptoms have not been too painful. At the same time, kids and I still watch The Flash and Doctor Who together once a week.
  • If I catch a movie in the theater once a month, I don’t feel deprived in any way.
  • I’ve discovered some great new music while listening to Pandora during my writing sessions.
  • I’m doing some repairs/chores on the house. Not my forte or passion, but it gets done.
  • I’m still getting out for a run by the river and on the trails. This is providing needed Vitamin D, but more importantly gets me out of the house and away from the keyboard for those mental health sessions.
  • I’m writing more often in my journal, especially after purchasing a fountain pen and ink. Journaling long-hand is in itself therapeutic.

Overall, I personally no longer need to blog for me. I’m going to keep this blog site available, if anyone needs to reference old posts or grab one of the free tools I’ve uploaded over the years.

Otherwise, ‘Adieu!’, and keep on writing!

 

0134 – Your Map to NaNoWriMo 2015

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**Update 11/02: Trying to figure out why all the images disappeared. More to come…**

The latest email promotion from NaNoWriMo arrived in my inbox and I thought I’d share it…especially for those that have yet to sign up and attempt this challenge. I would recommend use the next day or two to follow and read the links provided; reserving November for writing as a priority.

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NaNoWriMo Logo

The Map to the Month is your guide to navigating “The NaNoWriMo Library” this month. If you add these noveling notes to your calendar, you’ll have nothing to worry about in November—aside from writing 50,000 words, that is.

To get you even more excited, we’re including a sneak peek at some new personal achievement badges that will be available beginning November 1.

Before you get into the dates…

Invest in your novel and support NaNoWriMo! If you haven’t already, make a small donation to support our nonprofit. You can also get sponsored by friends and family. (We couldn’t keep our sites or programs running without your support. Thank you so much!)

Novel Badge Today

In order to begin updating your word count on November 1, you need to create your novel profile. So if you haven’t done this already, get to it now!

Word Count Badge November 1

Bid your inner editor adieu, and start writing! Once you’ve hit your personal goal for the day (1,667 words?), make your first word-count update (from the menu at the top of our site).

November 2 November 2

Spend some time getting to know the NaNoWriMo community. Be sure to check out the forums, your region, and our outposts on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest.

November 3 November 3

Did you know that NaNoWriMo has a Young Writers Program? Nearly 100,000 K-12 students and 2,000 classrooms around the world will join you in the noveling challenge this year. Tell a child or teen about YWP and earn the “Next Generation” personal achievement badge.

November 4 November 4

After a few days of writing, you might be looking for some support. Join our Virtual Write-In at 3 PM PST (Your Time Zone) and boost your word-count alongside other Wrimos.

Not able to make this one? Don’t worry, we’ll be hosting Virtual Write-Ins every Wednesday at 3 PM PST and every Saturday at 10 AM PST.

November 5 November 5

Looking for more support? Jump on Twitter for inspiration, guidance, and word-count boosters from our NaNo Coaches and word sprinters. Also, our 2015 pep talkers will be keeping your inbox full of advice and encouragement.

November 7 November 7

Join us for Double-Up Donation Day! It’s the perfect chance for you to double your word count while supporting our nonprofit. Starting at 6 AM PST, expect a full day of awesome hourly prizes, Virtual Write-Ins (including one with Marissa Meyer at 12 PM PST!), and writing prompts.

November 10 November 8

The first week of NaNo comes to a close. Take a minute to cheer on a fellow writer, or share some advice in the forums, and then give yourself the “Wrimo Spirit” personal achievement badge.

November 9 November 9

Let the unimaginable happen to your characters, not to you. Back up your novel now, whether by cloud, email, or external drive (we like this one).

November 12 November 12

NaNoWriMo wouldn’t be the same without our Municipal Liaisons (local volunteers). They cheer you on, organize events, and help create our global community of Wrimos.

ML Appreciation Day is the time to say thanks: send a NaNoMail, start a thread in your regional forum, or give your ML a shoutout on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #WeLoveMLs.

November 15 November 15

Here in San Francisco, it’s the Night of Writing Dangerously. If you can’t make it in person, hop onto Twitter and follow along virtually.

November 18 November 18

Gather with other Wrimos in your region at a local write-in and earn the “Write Here, Write Now” personal achievement badge.

November 20 November 20

Winning starts today! If you’re at 50,000 words or more, click the trophy badge on your dashboard to begin the validation process. (Also, be sure you order a winner shirt to celebrate!)

November 21-30 November 21-30

You have one job to do: write like crazy. (Then follow the validation directions above to win.)

December 1 December 1

Celebrate! And then, keep writing—and keep the creative conversation going on nanowrimo.org. Check out our “Now What?” page for revision and publishing resources, and stick around for our year-round writing activities.

 

For your convenience, we have an exportable calendar and this email in bookmarkable formAnd if you’re looking for the basics, try the How It Works page or our FAQ.

November is your month, Wrimo. You’ve got this. And remember, we’ll be here for you every step along the way.

To writing with abandon,

Rebecca Stern
Director of Programs

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Enjoy and keep on writing!

0133 – Success Story: Writing With a Busy Schedule

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I’m excited for another year of NaNoWriMo starting in less than a week. At the same time, I’ve been feeling bummed because two weeks ago another college course started; a compressed course for Accounting II. This means, finding time to write was feeling impossible, let alone punch out 1,766 words a day for NaNoWriMo.

Yesterday, Monday 10/26/15, I took stock of my circumstances and the goals I wanted to accomplish in the different areas of my life. I planned out my book reading, my spiritual reading/service, family time, and writing (among other things).

One of the books I started reading is, ‘5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter (vol 1)‘ by Chris Fox.

Screen Shot 10-26-15 at 01.17 PMIMAGE SOURCE: Amazon product page for book

Granted, I’m not the fastest typist by any stretch. When doing discovery writing I average 40wpm and when following an outline I’m closer to 60wpm. But Chris’ first chapter talks about doing ‘mini-sprints’.

  1. The first step, is to set a timer for 5-minutes, start it and write with abandon.
  2. Do not edit yourself, just keep writing for the full duration.
  3. Do this once a day, for a week.
  4. Then next week increase to 10-minutes, once a day for a week.
  5. The following week increase to 15-minutes, etc.

Yesterday, I chose to do several 5-minute sessions in-between meetings at work. Of the five(5) sessions I wrote for, much of what I wrote was discovery writing, so I was a bit slower at the keyboard. Even with that, after only twenty-five(25) minutes in my day (between meetings) I had written over 1,000 new words for the day, at an average pace of 48wpm!!

Many books on writing talk about setting a goal of 1,000 words a day. Many authors wish they could do this amount each day. Yet here I had done it in 5-minute mini-sprints during my normal work day. Oh my!

I’m feeling more confident now that if I can keep up the mini-sprints throughout November, I’ll hit the 50,000 word goal. To improve my success, I’m going to do more planning over the next few days, so I’m experiencing less discovery writing throughout NaNoWriMo.

This exercise proved to me that when squeezing writing between other activities, suddenly making time to write with a busy schedule becomes a doable activity. Maybe mini-sprints will help you too.

Give it a try and keep on writing!!

0132 – Use Figment.com To Write More

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Previously unbeknownst to me, two of my teens discovered and have been participating in a site called, figment.com. Today they decided to share this with me and what they’ve been up to on the site.

Screen Shot 10-11-15 at 10.11 PMimage from: figment.com

 

  • Sign up with an email or your facebook / twitter account
  • Read stories from any genre
  • Write your own stories and choose to share them or not (part of the point of the site is to make them available for others to read them and possibly give you feedback)
  • Choose to swap with other members. Swapping involves they read and comment on one of your pieces and you do the same in return
  • Earn badges for participating in different activities
  • Gain followers who like to read your writing
  • Enter contests and get your writing spotlighted for placing in these contests
  • Chat with other writers
  • Join groups of other writers with common interests or genre writing
  • Participate in multiple forum discussions on writing topics or off-topic threads
  • Make a poll or quiz or take one

As you can see from this list, there is plenty to do. . .of which the bulk revolves around reading, writing and connecting with other writers. For my teens it has been a great motivator to get them writing more now that they belong to a community of writers.

My first impression of Figment is, I like it. Not only do I like that it seems to be FREE, but unlike a critique focused site like Critters — which has very rigid  rules and expectations (all for a good reason and it works for their intended focus) — Figment is open to let writers connect and discover in different ways.

Maybe you too need to check it out and discover if Figment may help you write more, as you too connect with other writers. Keep on writing!

 

 

0131 – Preparing for National Novel Writing Month


Today is the first of October. Thirty-on days from now and the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge will begin. As an adult the goal is to write 50,000 words in thirty days.

Shield-Nano-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiResimage from: http://nanowrimo.org/press

They also have a Young Writer’s Program, where youth can set different writing goals depending on the participant’s age.

nano_ywp_logo_currentImage from: http://www.booksmith.com/event/nanowrimo-young-writers-program-reading

It is not too late to start preparing for NaNoWriMo before the November 1st go live date. One way to prepare:

  • Week 1 & 2 = Plan out your characters, including backstory, personality, skills, motivations and flaws
  • Week 3 = World build your setting, which includes culture, locations, history of the world in which your story takes place, etc.
  • Week 4 = Outline your plot and the events that happen whether you follow the standard 3-ACT structure or something else

My first year or two of NaNoWriMo I did discovery writing and struggled to complete the challenge. Once I started preparing ahead of time with an outline, I won the challenge almost every year for the last ten years. That is my story, but I realize some people will never be outliners and some will never be discovery writers.

Find what works for you and sign up for NaNoWriMo before November 1st. Don’t let the next four week pass you by before you start preparing. Whether you participate in NaNoWriMo or not, keep on writing.

0130 – Not Too Late To Start (re-start) Writing

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I subscribe to Writer’s Digest Magazine and read articles every now and again. I should make better use of my subscription and read it more often, but that’s another story. What I don’t often do is read the letter from the editor. But in the latest November/December 2015 issue, I really liked the letter from the editor, Jessica Strawser:

Screen Shot 09-25-15 at 09.40 PM

Never Say Never
Let’s get one thing out of the way: The idea of feeling like it might be “too late” to do something doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with age.

I remember vividly the first time I was overcome with the unsettling sensation that certain ships had sailed. I was a new college graduate folding myself into the “real world”—and the realization that my unstructured, unspoken for days for the year ahead could suddenly be counted on my fingers
(weekends notwithstanding) made my blood still. I peered out at the sea of cubicles around me, anchored in a bigger sea of landlocked Midwestern states, and took a big, swift kick at myself. Why had I not studied abroad in college? Why had I not taken more than a week after graduation—the summer off, perhaps—before punching my first time card? There was no going back now. This was it. This was how it would be until … retirement? What had I done?

Of course, especially now that I’m raising a family of my own, that temporary sense of despair sometimes seems almost laughable now. I didn’t have anyone but me to take care of. It wasn’t really too late to travel, or to take more time to find myself, or to change my mind—about anything. The opportunities to take those paths just weren’t going to be as readily available. Pursuing them would require more strategizing. More careful planning. More guts.

I think that is what we really mean when we lament that it might be “too late” to do something with our writing—to publish our first book, or to leave our day job and try writing full time, or to break out of a genre we’ve somehow gotten pigeonholed into, or even just to boldly say the words “I’m a writer!” out loud. Whether we’re 25 or 75, when the voices in our heads whisper that it’s too late, or when we mumble those loaded words to a well-meaning friend who asks, “Whatever happened to your idea to …”, what we’re really saying is that we wish we’d done it already. Th at we wish it were easier to do it now. That we don’t really know how to get started, or what to do next. That we’re afraid of what people will think, or afraid to have regrets later, afraid to make mistakes, afraid to fail.

When you think of it that way, it’s clear that it’s never really “too late.” We just need to believe that we can do it, to be willing to take action, and to form a plan. This issue is loaded with road maps to help you pursue the detours you’ve been dreaming of. Learn from other writers who’ve taken the long way  around. Get inspired to map out your own trip. Fill your tank, pack your bags and embrace the journey as part of the destination. When you get there, as editor and author Stephanie Stokes Oliver so wisely says in her essay on Page 29, you won’t be late. You’ll be right on time.

I’m in my mid-40’s and though I haven’t done as much writing as I could have or should have since I started this journey 20 years ago. . .it’s still not too late for me. It’s not too late for you either.

Whether you are starting for the first time or re-starting your writing journey. . .at least start!

Then keep on writing!!

0129 – Fiction Writing Should Remain a Hobby

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I titled this post as such and I should have added on an ellipsis (…) to the end of the title. This way readers would know there is more to the statement. I’m still not 100% sold that fiction should only be a hobby, but the following thought process is once again pushing me into the non-fiction writer camp.

In a previous posts titled, Book Review: “Damn! Why Didn’t I Write That?” by Marc McCutcheon, I followed the link in that blog and reread the full review I posted on Amazon. I was reminded about McCutcheon’s argument: Authors who want to make a living at writing should (need to) focus on non-fiction.

I went out to my  garage and found the physical book and reread my highlights (yes, I will write, color and highlight in a book). This also reminded me, that often the market news through Publisher’s Weekly seems to say: Fiction sales are often outpaced by non-fiction sales.

These events lead me to the following questions:

  • Why am I doing this writing ‘thing’?
  • Why do I more often write fiction instead of non-fiction?
  • Which is cooler, my new sci-fi / fantasy idea that a small number of readers may enjoy or the $$$ from being a best selling non-fiction writer?
  • If having a positive impact on people’s lives is one of my writing goals, wouldn’t that better be accomplished with non-fiction than fiction?
  • When I sit and brainstorm non-fiction, I can come up with book ideas and chapter ideas more easily than fiction. So why don’t I focus on that type of writing instead of making it more difficult on myself?
  • Where can I better be a standout writer by addressing a niche or mainstream audience: fiction or non-fiction?
  • What motivates me to write?
  • Can I use that motivation for either fiction or non-fiction, or does my motivation only work for one and not the other?
  • As a follower of Christ, what am I convinced God has called me to do in regards to this writing thing?
  • Wouldn’t the best and ‘guaranteed’ success lie with being in God’s will around writing?
  • Am I fighting or rebelling against any of the answers above, because an answer may mean a lot of hard work and I already ‘feel’ like I work hard at my day job and family life?
  • If I’m shying away from the hard work (editing is not a favorite task of mine!), if I simply buckle down for a short twenty-four months to reach some writing goals, what sort of rewards could there be and how will that change my life, my family’s life and those within my circle of influence?

It sounds like I need to:

  • Spend some time in prayer
  • Journal my answers to the above questions
  • Reevaluate previous answers to these questions
  • Address any new questions that come up through this self-discovery process

Regardless, if a primary goal of being a writer is to reach readers by selling books…then McCutcheon’s book is still in the back of my mind arguing:

  1. Write non-fiction, because you’ll sell more books and in turn reach more people
  2. Since you are selling more with non-fiction you can better support your writing career and reap royalties for years to come
  3. Use fiction for hobby writing

If you decide to answer the above questions, you too may find yourself leaning toward the non-fiction camp. True, some writers can write both and others need to write both in order to keep themselves busy and motivated. But dividing one’s time and energy could lead to frustration, lack of efficiency in writing and ultimately confuse your audience because they don’t know what type of writer you are.

Whether fiction or non-fiction. Hobby or career. Whatever answers you may have for yourself to these questions, it comes down to: keep on writing!

0128 – Once Upon A Time…a Storytelling Card Game

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Whether practicing storytelling on my own or encouraging my kids to learn and practice this art, it’s always nice to find a ‘tool’ to help the process along. Thus the card game, Once Upon a Time, published by Atlas.

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Originally Published: 1993

# of Players: 2-6

Suggested ages: 8+

Avg. Play Time: 30 minutes

Basically you as a player has an ‘ending card’, which is your game goal…to wrap up the story in a way that matches your story ending card.

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You also have other cards in your hand that you want to discard throughout the game, such as places, things, etc. You can use these cards to tell your story or to interrupt and take control of the story away from another player who used a keyword in their story that matches one of the cards in your hand.

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You could play to win, by discarding your cards quickly through some creative storytelling. It’s an option but not the best way to play, in my opinion.

What makes the game fun are the stories players come up with. Sometimes the stories are completely crazy and absurd, that the other players cannot help but laugh out loud. Other times, the stories are incredibly engaging that all other players forget they are playing a game to win, because they want to keep listening to that person’s story.

You can get a good feel for players that play to win and players that get wrapped up in their own storytelling, as demonstrated through this Tabel Top episode S02E03 from Wil Wheaton (NOTE: I haven’t watched this particular episode in its entirety, in about a year. But the show has been known to have some adult themes and/or language):

There is also a writer’s handbook that walks a writer through how to use this game to write stories, here.

Overall my kids love this game and dig the fairytale artwork. We have yet to try any of the expansions, as the base game already provides plenty of storytelling opportunities.

Get your storytelling on and keep on writing!

 

 

 

0127 – A Game to Get You Writing

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Perusing Steam games, there was a sale earlier this week and one of the games on sale was, Elegy for a Dead World. Basically you are an explorer visiting planets. As you find artifacts, ruins, etc., you are prompted to write what happened.

There is also the option to upload your writing for others to read and up-vote your pieces. Also you can read other writers and up-vote the pieces you like the most.

This ‘game’ has wonderful sounds, visuals, mood music and good writing prompts. When my character moves to a point that activates a writing prompt, I find myself in the perfect mood and mindset to write.

Here are some screenshots from the trailer video. . .

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Maybe there will soon be another sale on this product. Sale or not, some may find it worth investing in as a new ‘tool’ that will help get you writing more.

Keep on writing!

0126 – A Healthy Size List of Reading Recommendations


NOTE: This is a long post. Good news, it’s mostly a bullet list.

The lists come from handouts I picked up at the Folsom,CA Library, as recommendations for reading in different genres / categories. No additional information on how these lists were compiled. For all I know it was the Friends of the Library group that put this together, or the Library has a bazillion copies of certain books, or these are the books with long wait lists because everyone wants to read them.

Lists are from different months/years, as listed.
It is not a mistake that some titles show up on multiple lists.
Some genres have sub-categories and others do not.

A lot of unusual names, so hopefully I didn’t mistype any.
Sorry, I just don’t have the time to direct link all the titles to Amazon or some other site nor create jump links from the ‘table of contents’ below to the genre/categories below that. Also, don’t forget to click the ‘continue reading‘ link below.

There are some obvious choices in a few categories and many that may be new discoveries for others to enjoy.

Books-for-recruiters
IMAGE FROM: http://www.socialtalent.co/blog/books-for-recruiters

 

Categories /Genres:
  • Thrillers
  • Mysteries
  • Cozy Mysteries
  • Spy Games: International Politics & Terrorism
  • Science Fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Christian Fiction
  • Historical Fiction: From Prehistoric to The Age of Discovery
  • Historical Fiction: Modern Era 1750 to Present

Continue reading