Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Winner Winner NaNo Dinner

Now Playing: FORTH EORLINGAS by Howard Shore


Sorry, got a little excited there. It's just that I've never written anything that fast, and when I started I had no idea if I could do it or not. National Novel Writing Month struck me as a really cool idea, but I was far from confident in my ability to actually achieve it.

It's been an AWESOME month to write--I've sat down every chance I've had and hammered out this story at top speed. I feel like I know what it means to be a professional novelist now; the people who churn out the books I love to read must write like this, and somehow, even though writing is a lonely gig by nature, you feel a kind of connection with those idols of yours, and with those others out there trying to reach the same goals.

The funny thing is, knowing what it takes doesn't really make it all that much easier. It just makes it easier to self-assess, to say, "Yeah, I'm way off track, for sure." Writing the story is still a grind, one word at a time.

The novel, called "Star Born," isn't done, and it won't be for a while. I'm going to do my best to continue to write with the same dedication and fervor, but I've come up with a few things along the way, and noticed some holes that will take to time to review and patch. But that's part of the process, and I'm ready to meet the challenge head on. I think it's a great story, and I'm looking forward to seeing a finished product.

My first NaNoWriMo experience is done, and it's a win. I feel energized. I feel accomplished. I'm looking forward to reaching more goals.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nightly Noveling

Now Playing: AVATAR FILM SCORE by James Horner
Just Read: THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE--Enjoyed more than I thought I might going in. I have read all The Dark Tower series and thought opening at back up was a risky play, but I should have known to trust a master. Very fun and very inspiring.
Reading Now: STONE OF TEARS by Terry Goodkind

I am taking part in NaNoWriMo, where participants try their best to write 50,000 words of a new novel from Nov. 1 through Dec. 1. It's about the halfway point (yesterday) so I had to have 25,000 in the bank to be on track. I'm proud to say I touched 30,000.

The novel is about a girl who lives on a generation ship heading for a new planet. As the story opens, she seems to be the only one not thrilled about Deceleration Day, which begins the countdown to landing one year away. Seeking solace among the many catwalks and narrow maintenance corridors hidden throughout the ship, she accidentally overhears something that gives her chills--a plot to sabotage the ship and ensure it never reaches its destination.

I work night shift at a hospital 3 nights a week, and since I'm currently residing across the country from my home, there isn't much to do when I sleep all day on my days off. It's worked out--few distractions, few interruptions, few temptations to get away from writing and do anything else. Just what I need to accomplish 50,000 words in a month.

NaNoWriMo is a pretty cool concept, and they've done a great job with the online community. I'm a fan of the pep talks from writers I've read and admired for a long time. One recently spoke about "The Middle" and I was reminded of the Jimmy Eat World song. That's where I'm at now--the middle of the ride, and things seems a bit slow, a bit like wading through mud (or perhaps quicksand) with the end far away, not even in sight.

"Trudging. You know? Trudging, to trudge: the slow, weary, depressing yet determined walk of a man who has nothing in life except the impulse to simply . . . soldier on." -Chaucer ;)

That's me here with this novel, not really knowing how I'm going to get from here to the end.

Wait. Actually, I do. One word at a time.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Week of SF

Now Playing: BATMAN BEGINS FILM SCORE by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard
Just Read: HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET by Jamie Ford--Loved it. It was cool meeting the author, refreshing to jump outside of F&SF for a bit, and rewarding to read. A great novel, and a deep well of ideas of how people interact. Well done.
Reading Now: THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE by Stephen King

For the first time in a while, "SF" for me doesn't refer to science fiction, but the wonderful city of San Francisco. Now that I'm close, I had the opportunity to spend some time there last week at the city's annual literary festival called Litquake. My friend Jared, also a writer, tipped me off to it, and I'm glad he did.

Wednesday night, I went to an event called "Northwest Novels" starring Jamie Ford, who has set his two books in Seattle. I bought the book I mentioned above, and he graciously signed it and chit-chatted with me and everyone for a bit. His wife, who's awesome, talked to me about my own writing, which was both flattering and inspiring. Also, she's a nurse! So I'm kind of like both of them put together: Writernurse!

Then Saturday, after sleeping three hours and hurrying faster than I have in my whole life, I caught a train up and sat in on two panels--one about short stories and the other about novels. Most of what I heard, I already knew, but it was helpful to have the truth grilled into me one more time--writing is hard work. One of the authors, who I thought was probably the coolest and most fun, I later discovered is well known in the F&SF world, having published many stories in the top magazines and "Year's Best" anthologies. Her name is Karen Joy Fowler, and I'm going to be reading more of her stories soon.

Afterward I went and had drinks and listened to stories at the "Litcrawl," a fun evening of bar hopping and fiction reading. I ended up at an awesome book store and cafe that sold all kinds of F&SF I've never heard of, and had shelves and shelves of discounted fiction. How can I pass that up, I ask you???? So I bought four books.

I have a book buying problem. It comes and goes.

I did the touristy stuff, too--Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, open-top bus tours, cruise around Alcatraz. San Fran is a pretty sweet city, with a rich history of literature, but like I mentioned earlier, the city's main lesson to me was that writing is hard, and the only way to do it is to show up and do it. New authors like myself can't hear that enough.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Writer Moment

Now Playing: SEASONS by James Elsewhere
Just Read: THE MAGICIAN KING by Lev Grossman--Totally cool, like the first book. Magic for a rated R crowd, but with all the flair of childhood fantasy. Just wish things had been happier, haha.
Reading Now: FALL OF GIANTS by Ken Follett

Coast-swapping completed, I'm moved in to a place called Sunnyvale, CA. (Could I ask for a more picturesque name?) My humble new abode is, well, humble--I didn't have cable or internet, no way to kill time or create background noise. So what did I do?

Before I left North Carolina, I went to the library and checked out a couple--okay, six--audiobooks to listen to on the drive over. I got through three of them. So when I found myself all moved in with nothing to do, I hooked my speakers up to my computer and put the next one in. Over the course of the next few days, I knocked out a whole novel.

Total writer moment, right? I mean who else would think or want to play audiobooks in their living room while they cleaned/cooked/did the laundry/showered/ate lunch? But I've found that it makes the time pass quickly, and the advantage it has over television is that you don't have to keep your eyes on it.

Of course, now that I have internet (I'm blogging from my kitchen table, woohoo!), I'm sure I'll be watching a lot more Netflix. But to be honest I'll probably continue the audiobook thing, at least for a while. I'm also a member of the Sunnyvale library now, and they have all kinds of new titles! I wonder how many I can get through?

And don't worry--I'll return those books to the library in NC . . . somehow.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Coast Swapping

Now Playing: HARLEM by New Politics
Just Read: A CASUAL VACANCY by J.K. Rowling--Well, about as far from Harry Potter as is possible to be. Not saying I didn't like it--the writing was great and it was so deliciously gossipy . . . but you know.
Reading Now: THE MAGICIAN KING  by Lev Grossman

Today marks a milestone. I'm starting a trip out west, to move to Palo Alto, California for the next three months for work. It's my first travel assignment. My Camaro is packed to the brim, and she's hungry to eat up some road.

Tonight I'll be in Memphis, Tennessee, then a new city each day after that until finally arriving in Palo Alto on Monday. I'm nervous, but mostly excited. It's hard leaving my family and my girlfriend (although she's driving out there with me, and it's gonna be a hell of a road trip/vacation!) and my amazing job and coworkers. But a snake can't grow any bigger without shedding its skin, right?

My goals for the next three months are many and varied--first, succeed at this new job, be flexible, be intelligent, learn something, make some friends. Second, spend my spare time making myself better, by writing voraciously, and exercising, and exploring. Third, learn about and see as much of America as I can, hopefully with the company of some unparalleled friends and family.

There was an interesting article in the most recent AACN magazine, by the president. It was about having a combination of courage and action in your life if you want to be successful; she says, "You can't be passive about success in your life." That, I think, is so true, and it's a philosophy I've subscribed to since I was a kid.

Sometimes, you've got to close your eyes and jump into the pool, no matter how cold it is--usually, after a minute or so, it really isn't so bad.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Thirty Days of Personal Development

Now Playing: AQUEOUS TRANSMISSION by Incubus
Just Read: HORNS by Joe Hill--A very fun and well-written dark adventure, though I thought the ending was rather curious . . . but no spoilers here, read it for yourself!
Reading Now: A CASUAL VACANCY by J.K. Rowling

I'm back in action today after dedicating my recent off-time to "personal development." That's a way of saying I've have been on almost constant vacation for over a month.

I've been to the lake with my girlfriend, nephew, and brother's family to go water skiing, tubing, and knee boarding. The Fourth of July found me in a muddy park in Augusta, GA, getting soaked and stained red from the damp clay in a spontaneous and torrential downpour (very fun!). The following week I spent in Myrtle Beach, SC, at my annual family reunion with some of the most awesome people in the world: my cousins, aunts, and uncles. Afterwards, I was home for three days of work, then thought, "What the hell?" and caught a plane to London, England, where my friend Nick was . . . . well, not backpacking exactly, but exploring for personal development. Anyway, he was in London for a week, so I decided to head out there and hang out--great decision. First time I'd ever been out of the country, and it was a blast.

Moved out of my apartment and staying with family for now, until my next adventure--hopefully in a month I'll be relocating for work to California. My trusty laptop will be coming with me, and the stories that follow will, hopefully, be many and of high quality.

Somehow, I managed to barely hang on to my W1S1 goal of one story per month by finishing a 2500-word story on July 30. I've been a bit slack on submissions, but hopefully today I'll revamp a few rejections and test some new homes for them.

You're only young for so long, you know? May as well up and go to London when you can.

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Now Playing: MONEY by Pink Floyd
Just Read: EXODUS by Leon Uris--Really cool account of a monumental event that I really didn't know much about until I read this book. I didn't like some parts of it, but others were awesome, and it brimmed with future story ideas.
Just Read: HEART-SHAPED BOX  by Joe Hill--Loved it. Well-plotted, believable, and intricate, not to mention full of perfect detail and spot-on writing. Looking forward to more of his stuff.
Reading Now: TOYS by James Patterson and Neil McMahon

I had a talk with my brother last week on the lake about research as a writer. He's a mechanical engineer, and I don't know the first thing about realistic mechanics. That said, mechanics turns out to be a big part of what I write when I pen science fiction.

I'm planning out these two stories--one novel, and one trilogy of novels, both science fiction, both involving a great deal of space travel. I'm going to write the stand-alone book first. It's about a girl aboard a multi-generational space ship, one of three traveling to populate a far off world. Think Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria, except whole generations have lived and died aboard the ships.

Well, I'm not a rocket scientist, and I don't know much about the physics of space travel. So I'm reading a book now about it by a guy named Dr. Yoji Kondo (and others), who I know, actually--in addition to being a Writers of the Future judge, fiction writer, and real rocket scientist, Dr. Kondo is also one of the highest ranking aikido black belts in the world, and I've studied under him since about my sophomore year in college or so.

Anyway, this book should help to design my setting, and to make the problems I invariable put it through appear realistic. I'll do the research by studying and interviewing people who know more than I do, and I'll develop by plotting outlines as my research sparks ideas. Before too long, I'll be a jack of all trades.

One more perk to this amazing career.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Line by Line

Now Playing: STAR TREK THEME by Michael Giacchino

Ok, so during my last post I (rather extensively) commented on procrastinating my writing responsibilities, particularly editing my novel called "The Rescue of Dr. Zale." Looking back, I think the main reason is that the novel, written when I was in high school (not THAT long ago), needed extensive revision toward the end. In brief, I decided to have a character live who originally died, and I thought the main climax was too juvenile and had to be completely cut and redone.

One of my main goals was to cut cut cut it down. Compress the writing. I had edited it before, a while ago. I forget how old I was--maybe nineteen, and I'm 23 now--and it ended up 1,000 words longer. A round of query letters to agents came back fruitless. I put it in a bin and wrote another novel. Then W1S1 2012 happened.

My prime objective in dropping back to W1S1 monthly was to have the time to edit longer pieces. So I got to work right away, and then lost steam when I reached the final chapters, and completion seemed daunting. I crawled forward, word by word, line by line, and this past weekend I finally finished it.

This is what it looks like: 

 And here's a picture of a random page, to show my line-by-line editing:

In the end, the only way to do it was line by line. In all, I cut out 9,000 words. The draft in the picture is 25 pages longer than the electronic final copy. I have a lot more confidence in this version, so we'll see what the agents have to say. 

The coolest part about this project was realizing how far I've come since I wrote the first draft and edited it. Back then, I always put in far more than I took out; completing these edits with the goal of cutting really helped get my mind right, and the result is much more impressive. 

(Although it does make me wonder, If I look at it again in four years, will I think it's as bad as I thought the first draft was?)

Glad it's done! But as always, there's more work to be done. As always, on to the next project. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Now Playing: THE BOMB DOT COM V2.0 by Sleeping With Sirens
Just Read: SNUFF by Chuck Palahnuik--Totally awesome in the way that all his stuff is. Whenever I read his work, I want to write like him.
Reading Now: EXODUS by Leon Uris

There are so many things to do besides write.

Right now I'm playing Hearts on my computer, listening to music, and I just put on gym clothes in preparation for a run, which I may or may not take depending on whether the creative juices get flowing here, or if I feel like I need another way to procrastinate.

I'm losing this Hearts game terribly, if you were wondering.

It's also a rainy Sunday, which doesn't bode well for productivity in the first place.

I've watched about an hour's worth of behind-the-scenes clips of Spartacus (one of my favorite shows of all time).

I've got this story idea in mind . . . .

Check this picture out. That's my wire bookcase, collapsed. Maybe I have too many books?

It took me too long to figure out how to upload that pic, so I went ahead and lost that game of Hearts.

Just got a can of cherry coke zero out of the fridge. I figured some caffeine could help.

Maybe I'm just sluggish from that gigantic Chipotle burrito I had for lunch. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Speaking of gigantic Chipotle burritos, I may have to run off here in a minute before finishing this blog post and procrastinate my writing in the bathroom. You're welcome.

Total word count today: 0. But, I have successfully reviewed the requirements for story submission to Allegory Magazine! Woohoo! Props to me!

(Bathroom break.)

. . .

Hoping to see Ironman 3 later tonight after making some chili.

Think I can fit in a nap later?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Post Pub Update

Now Playing: ALL THAT'S LEFT by Thrice
Just Read: A STORM OF SWORDS by George R. R. Martin--Awesome, as expected. Just as intricate and intriguing as the first two books in the series. Can't wait to see all that on screen!
Reading Now: HEAT WAVE by Richard Castle (?)

It was a really awesome experience, having my story "Skipping Stones" published over at Daily Science Fiction. To everyone who read it and shared their thoughts, thank you so very much. I got a few tweets and followers, some comments here on my blog, and some emails about reading it on Beam Me Up podcast, who did great things with my story "Good Business, With Guns." Couldn't have asked for better, and I'm very grateful.

I posted the link on the left, so if you ever want to (re)read it, it's only a click away.

But now that it's done, it's time to move on to what's new. I barely got in last quarter's Writers of the Future contest submission before the deadline, a story about a colonized planet. To this day, it remains the only story to get a personalized rejection from Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. Hopefully the changes I've made since then will push it into the realm of acceptable fiction.

I've got about 100 pages of young adult novel left to edit, and I've already cut over 4000 words from it. That's exciting to me--I'll post in more detail later. I've also got two 8,000-word stories to edit, one of which will probably wind up as this quarter's WotF submission. My April W1S1 story is finished, but it's short, so I'm writing a second one, about 2500 words in. I'm calling it "Firecutter," and I'm not really sure what that word means or where the story's going. I guess my characters and I will find out together.

That's all for now. I'll check back soon. Thanks again to all my recent readers; hope we become long time friends.


PS--Who writes the Richard Castle books, honestly? Nathan Fillion? Does ANYONE know?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

First Pro Pub

Now Playing: MACHINEHEAD by Bush

My big day is almost here--my story "Skipping Stones" goes out to DSF's 6,000 subscribers tomorrow morning. Needless to say, I am stoked.

This is my first professional sale, so I'm really excited to get it out there and hear what people think. I'm probably going to tweet and post on facebook about it a lot, so be patient with me. 0:)

If you aren't a subscriber, go subscribe! It's free! They send you a story (like mine, for example!) right to your email inbox every day.

If you don't want to subscribe, though, "Skipping Stones" should pop up on the web on the 25th (next Monday). Please, go rate it and give it a comment. I'd love love love to hear what you think about it.

This is an exciting step for me in my career as a writer. It's a validation of my ambition to be more than someone who can put together some competent prose. A pro magazine accepted my story! Wow. The funny thing is, it doesn't feel like an ending at all, not even a little bit. It feels like another step on a long, tall staircase, and it makes me want to sit down and write myself onto the step above that.

Maybe I'll go and do just that.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Now Playing: GIVEN UP by Linkin Park

Just finished watching the Oscars. A lot of inspiring stuff there, I have to admit. I don't usually like that kind of thing--a bit too much pomp and circumstance for my taste, but hey, if I end up there one day having written a screenplay, I'll probably love it.

The first cool thing was seeing so much talent all in one place. Those people really know how to do what they do. The elite. The upper echelon of artistic talent. It makes you want to be like them, you know? It reminds you what the goal is, who you're trying emulate as a rising young artist. It's a bit like why I do the Write1Sub1 challenge: to walk in Ray Bradbury's footsteps.

I think my favorite part though was remembering that all those actors and actresses had someone else write their scripts. My buddy Spencer is an actor, and we laugh sometimes because he says he's useless at parties without a script. Probably why he keeps me around.

One of my dreams is to write a bestselling novel that gets turned into a movie, and to be a part of the movie-making process.Film is awesome. I saw a show once (on the Weather Channel of all places) about the making of Jurassic Park (a fantastic book) in Hawaii, and the hurricane that hit and how the film crew had to adapt. I'd love to be a part of that sodality one day.

I took a play writing class in college, but I've never really written a script for TV. Spencer and I have an idea in mind though.

It's gonna be big.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Recent Tips

Now Playing: YOU BE TAILS, I'LL BE SONIC by A Day to Remember
Just Read: THE WISE MAN'S FEAR by Patrick Rothfuss--Really enjoyed it. A great fantasy epic. Did you know he won the WOTF contest? I ordered it to read his winner--it's straight out of this book. Really well done.
Reading Now: A STORM OF SWORDS by George R.R. Martin

Recently, I read a pair of books about writing. One was "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott, and the second was "The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction" by Philip Athans.

They were pretty different books, but they had a few common threads:

1) Publication isn't all it's cracked up to be, and it's far from the end of your writing troubles (ie, there is no end).

2) Study people in real life. They're who you're writing about, under different names and in different places doing different things, but fiction about people who feel real is fiction worth reading.

3) Use your fiction to say something.

4) Take a step back from your writing when it's done and ask yourself if it's believable, honestly (especially F&SF).

5) The surest way to not become a writer is to give up. The surest way to become a successful writer is to never give up.

Some good advice there. I feel like I subscribe to most of it already but reading those books helped to reinforce it and refocus me. I have a longer F&SF piece in mind for my February W1S1 story, so it was nice having these tips to orient me and jump start my creativity a bit.

Anyway, that's what I've been up to the past few weeks. Hopefully this story won't be too stubborn coming out.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Final Countup

Now Playing: DEANNE THE ARSONIST by Atreyu

Write1Sub1 2013 is here, and I bid a fond farewell to 2012. It was the most productive year of my writing career by a hefty amount. But I believe 2013 will be even better.

But here's the final tally for 2012,  a decent bar for me to surpass:

Total number of stories: 52
Twitter Fiction: 8
Flash Fiction: 14
Short Stories: 30

For a total of . . . wait for it . . . 112,145 words!

Each of those 52 stories was submitted at least once, some half a dozen times. I had three acceptances: "Dying Again" at Liquid Imagination; "Over the Fence" at Fear and Trembling; and "Skipping Stones" at Daily Science Fiction (forthcoming).

This year will involve at least twelve new stories, some work on novel-length pieces I have in mind, and innumerable submissions of stories I wrote in 2012 that have yet to find a home.

Thanks to all the people who helped along the way, especially my fellow W1S1 authors for their support, and the friendly competition involved. Thanks to my friends and family for their encouragement, and for not being annoyed when I had to be antisocial to finish up a week's work. You all make it worth doing for me, and I greatly appreciate it.

Looking forward to the future! Write on, friends, write on.