Once upon a time, in a land far, far away known as “Texas” there was a gathering of word-wizards and prose-warriors known for their fearlessness, generosity, and clever minds. They were the Smarter Artists and this is the story of their Summit meeting. Everything about this magical event might have been lost if not for the reluctant hero of this story, the protagonist with a heart of gold and access to Google Maps. Might have is a key phrase here, because it is suspected that other writers in attendance have also chronicled the daring adventures of both the hosts and the attendees. To ascertain the veracity of this hypothesis, quest for the Self Publishing Podcast, the Creative Penn, and Garrett Robinson. You might even search for #TheLegendOfBenHale on Instagram.Ben Hale, you see, is an author who writes in the YA Fantasy Genre (The Chronicles of Lumineia), thirteen books at the time of this writing and more on the way. “Ben is the most excellent of people,” one attendee reported. Later, as the event neared it’s dramatic conclusion, Ben Hale was called upon to name one-hundred-and-fifty attendees that he had just met, including the sound engineer and photographer. The price of failure would have been dire humiliation, or at least some awkward teasing — since the Smarter Artists were all great friends by this point.“It was amazing,” an attendee said. “It shows that Mr. Hale really pays attention to the people he meets. He is of excellent character.”From the first moments of the Smarter Artist Summit, it was evident that this was no ordinary writing conference. First of all, there was a magical creature known as Amy who rallied all the forces of good. It is roundly believed that Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt, and David Wright owed her many thanks and encouraged all of the Smarter Artists to thank her by clapping and otherwise expressing appreciation.This occurred frequently. Sean would identify something awesome and say, “Big hand for Amy!” And there was much rejoicing.The protagonist of this story, who will remained unnamed due to his inability to remember every master and student, felt the two day event was magical beyond rational description and secretly wished he was Ben Hale, so that he might know all the Smarter Artists. Do to the benevolence of the universe, he learned a great deal about building a quality writing career and met the coolest people ever. Many of whom pledge to stay in touch with the Book of Faces.What might have happened if the Smarter Artist Summit never happened? The world would be a less interesting place. Many writers would have missed finding “there people.” Stories that are destined to entertain and inform thousands of people would remain in the dark.The Presenters included:Andre Chaperon (Internet Business Guru)Nick Stephenson (Best Selling Author and Internet Marketing Smart Guy)James Tonn (Podium Publishing)Mark Lefebvre (Kobo Writing Life)Joanna Penn (Best Selling Author)Julia Kent (Best Selling Author)J. A. Huss (Best Selling Author)Damon Courtney (Book Funnel App)Dan Wood (Draft 2 Digital)Ben HaleJohnny B. Truant (Best Selling Author)Sean Platt (Best Selling Author)David Wright (Best Selling Author)Amy Teegan (The Amy Teegan)Jim Kukral (Best Selling Author and Business Guru) Bryan Cohen (Author of Ted Saves the World)In time, all of the attendees and presenters will find their names in the story of the Smarter Artists. And that will be the best adventure ever.
Have you ever wondered about points of view and how they affect narrative order? What about the finer points of space opera and other genres? Listen and watch was Josh Hayes and I completely demystify these and other topics…or at least talk about writing and stuff.
Video blogging is new and mysterious to me. I can’t speak for Josh or the audience we had during the live broadcast, but I had a lot of fun. Probably, there will more and better video blogs headed this way.Thanks for stopping by!
Simple Food for HealthMy goal is to never get sick again. Now before you criticize me for being a total slacker with no ambition, let me suggest this will be harder than it sounds in a simple goal statement. Why would such a thought occur to me at one a.m. when I should be sleeping? To answer that, let’s dig into why I should be sleeping, since I am actually scheduled to be at work.This is about day five of a nasty cold, or whatever the heck you call it. Earlier in the year, when the cold and flu season was staging its own biological war on my community, I slipped through unscathed despite every friend, family member, and co-worker becoming ill. I was exercising, eating well, and taking Zinc with my Vitamin C. For whatever reason, I broke this routine and have been fighting various forms of the crud for weeks, this morning being the dramatic climax, I hope.When my throat hurts, I often eat Wheat Chex cereal because it feels good on my throat — kind of like a scrub brush to sweep the junk out. This morning I decided to try something different: one whole orange and whey protein mixed in water. (In the past this would be a smoothie, be I decided to actually eat most of my fruits and vegetables for a while, instead of blending them. This had the same effect as cereal; it gave my throat a break from the mysterious acid-slime that seems to be running down my throat when it isn’t packing my nasal cavities and cutting off my breathing all night long.)Which brings us to my very simple nutritional plan that combined with quality exercise, sufficient sleep, and a great mental attitude should remove illness from my buffet bar of misery and productivity destroying excuses.Whole fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats from food such as avocados. But mostly whole fruits and vegetables with some protein. And mostly vegetables, the greater variety the better.This isn’t a vegan diet, or paleo, or any of the dozens of eating strategies I have tried over the years. This is merely something simple that I hope works for me. (You might notice I didn’t eat all the things not to eat; I am trying to keep it positive.) With luck, I will have great success and share it with everyone. Please leave comments and opinions at the end of this blog article. I would love to hear your thoughts. DAY 01NOTE: my starting weight, according to my Fitbit scale was 187.5 pounds with 19.4% body fat. I log my food with the Myfitnesspal app.0115: One whole orange, whey protein powder in water.0930: 1 can of chicken (4 servings), 4 cups of steamed broccoli (I ate this until 1110 hours).* I will add the rest of food I eat at the end of the day, because I am sure everyone will check back to see if I follow through. *If you have scrolled down far enough to read my post-script, fantastic. Writing non-fiction, as cool and useful as it is, is not my primary calling in life. I have a regular job, because I do enjoy eating, healthy or otherwise. My family is also pretty keen on the idea. Someday I hope that regular job will be replaced, perhaps in retirement, with a full-time income of fiction writing.To succeed in the ever-competitive fiction market I have learned it is important to write more than other writers; no excuses are allowed. An easy example is Stephen King, who was been writing 3,000 words a day for most of his life. During an interview he once told a reporter that he wrote everyday except for his birthday and Christmas, but later confessed in his book On Writing: Memoirs of the Craft that this was a lie. “I write everyday,” he said.This is advice worth taking. How can I follow his example if I get sick. Sure, I can gut it out for a time, but staying healthy would be a lot easier. To keep the dream alive I plan to maintain a foundation of health. How could this be wrong?Thanks for hanging in there, and good luck in all that you do. If you are interested in Science Fiction or what I call Police Paranormal (a bit like Urban Fantasy the way I write it), then check out my books. Enemy of Man is science fiction packed with action in the style of Aliens and Starship Troopers. As the first book in the Chronicles of Kin Roland, it is free. Dragon Badge pits street cops against sorcerers and dark magic as worlds collide. The same deal applies to the Lost Dragonslayer series; the first book is free. (I love reviews, like I really love them, more than chocolate or cute puppy videos.)One last item for consideration. Should I be worried that my word processor recognizes My Fitness Pal and Fit Bit as spelling errors, demanding with a squiggly red line that they be changed to Myfitnesspal and Fitbit?Be safe, and please excuse my rather liberal use of the semi-colon in this article, it is two-thirty in the morning after all.
Photo Credit: / Link: http://collectiveinkwell.com/yesterdays-gone/
SUMMARY:Here is the summary of this book review, in case you are in a hurry: Yesterday’s Gone (Season 1), by Sean Platt and David Wright (and edited by Jason Whited) is a serialized, post apocalyptic suspense thriller written from multiple viewpoints. The story, like others of the genre, is complex and escalates steadily to the cliffhanger ending. I thought the ending was skillfully done. It didn’t straight-out annoy me as many cliff-hangers do. There was just enough resolution to satisfy me, while still (strongly) encouraging me to read the next book — which I have purchased in ebook and audiobook formats (because I roll like that).THE MEAT AND GUTS OF THIS REVIEW:My to-be-read pile is tall. I have more books waiting for my attention that I will ever find time to enjoy properly. I also know that Sean Platt and David Wright are extremely prolific artist. So why would I torture myself by starting a series?Because the are a lot of fun to watch on their podcasts. They have a healthy attitude about and pride in being writers. The first book in the series was free and I thought, somewhat unrealistically, that I might practice putting the/a book down if it wasn’t deserving of my time. (I am a bit of a finisher, despite being prone to slow reading…daydreaming… and distraction.)So I grabbed Yesterday’s Gone, Season 1 and slammed it down on the top of my digital “to-read” pile. I didn’t know what to expect. I was hoping for the best and afraid that I would be disappointed. I knew from just sampling the beginning that it was well written (as far as basic craft and mechanics) and the premise was interesting, but I was making a commitment to spend a lot of time with these to authors and their imaginations.One of my goals for this year is to learn to read faster, for the sake of enjoyment and revising my own work more efficiently. I started out reading very fast, and slipped into my normal let’s-poke-around-this-fictional-world-with-a-daydream pace. This, my friends, is a sign.I stayed up late at night with the story. When should have been doing other things, out came on my Kindle Fire. This was a last ditch attempt to give my eyes a break from phone reading, which is my normal MO. I finished it in what was a fairly short time period in comparison to how I normally read.And now I’m the proud new owner of both an ebook and an audiobook version of Yesterday’s Gone, Season 2. Season one is a long and complex book with lots of characters. There are multiple viewpoints which is something I often like, but can be mishandled by some authors. There were a few points in this story when I was having a hard time differentiating between the characters (possibly because I didn’t make time for ‘enjoyment reading’ for several days at a time; I was writing a lot). Once I latched onto my favorite characters in the story, the entire thing started to grow on me.A FINAL WORD (WRITTEN LATE AT NIGHT AFTER WORKING A FULL SHIFT AND THINKING ABOUT ALL OF THIS STUFF):Sean Platt and David Wright are the real deal. They write an excellent suspense thriller. In short these guys are pros. I don’t award as many five star ratings as I used to when I first began reviewing books. Even as I write this I’m not sure if I can justify giving a full five stars, because I hold five star books in a much higher standard. The basically have to change my life (nonfiction) or leave a long-lasting resonance that not many stories do these days.I hope the tone of this review isn’t too much. It might be that I’ve somehow expected less of writers who write in such a great quantity and so quickly (despite my own propensity to attempt the same thing). As a writer, I agree that writing quickly can often lead to a better, more honest story, but while I say this and tell myself I believe it, the long-standing view of our society is that creativity should be slow, painful, and leading to alcoholism and suicide.How dark is that? Wow. We grow up believe this and still want to be artists? Why can’t writing, or painting, or making music, or anything be a joyful and fulfilling process? Why, I ask you!?And even though I am also an independent author and bridle at the stigma, it is easy to look for faults in the work that an author has spent the time, energy, and personal risk to self-publish / produce.This makes me feel like the strangest kind of hypocrite to judge fellow indies more harshly than I would a traditional published author, but I guess it’s just hardwired into my daydreaming-prone brain.The point is that I am seriously impressed with this story and recommend it to anybody who enjoys thrillers or serial fiction or both. The only risk I took in reading this book was that I might waste my time. I downloaded it from Amazon for free and I enjoyed it. Enough to buy season two. It remains to be seen if I will like season two enough to buy season three, but I imagine that I’m probably hooked.I SHOULD PROBABLY SLEEP NOWI should probably sleep now, it’s the responsible thing.
I hope you read my earlier post today, because when I wrote it, I was basically making an excuse not to make my #3KADAY goal. Yes, all of that business-ish stuff needed to be done. And I had a lot of work to do for my second real job. And there is this strange and mysterious organization called a family that never gives up on me no matter how anoying I become. Life must come before art, but that important fact does not make it easier to keep the dream alive.There were so many things that went wrong today. I knew I was in trouble because I didn’t do the writing first as I had intended. It should have been okay because I found a long block of time that should have been just like writing first thing in the morning. About a half an hour ago I hit my 3k goal. Friday is the first day of my logging week, so it is a relief to get off to a good start. I hope that any goal you are pursuing this week is also going well.Dragon Land, the third and final book of the Lost Dragonslayer Trilogy, now stands at 51,500 words. I am having a blast!Just for fun, you might want to check out the free digital copy of Dragon Badge (Book 1 in the Lost Dragonslayer Trilogy.) Maybe, if you’re just crazy enough, you might even consider leaving a review. Only the bravest, most intelligent, and generally awesome readers have what it takes to write a book review!
A writer must write first and do everything else to maintain his or her career as an author after this most important task is complete. Great! I like that! However, this also explains why my emails stack up, my web page goes dormant for weeks or months at a time, and I disappear from social media. (Retweets barely count, much to my dismay.)January and February of 2016 have been full of writing. I finished Weapons of Earth, which means I finished the Chronicles of Kin Roland Trilogy. All that remains is one final revision, editing with Pro Writing Aid software, and sending the manuscript to my professional editor (BZHercules for this project). On a side note, I also paid for an additional round of professional proof reading of Enemy of Man and Son of Orlan by BZ Hercules to complement the excellent edits of Samantha LaFantasie (who did a great job for a great price). In a perfect world, I would again pay for both of these editors, but I only have a budget for one this time around.I am two thirds of the way through my current draft of Dragon Land, which will complete the Lost Dragonslayer trilogy. Along the way, I also worked out story beats for Fight Like A Werewolf, book two in the Police Paranormal series. (Die Like A Man is definitely a stand alone novel, but I really like the characters and feel like they have a few more quests to complete.)The last thing I am doing today before getting back to creating new words is to rework the book description for Die Like A Man. It should be live on Amazon soon. THE NEW BOOK DESCRIPTION
Die Like A Man was written and re-written over the course of ten years. Now I am on a quest for reviews and would like to thank in advance anyone who will consider leaving some honest feedback, not just for me, but for other readers. Thanks, Scott Moon Behind the badge is an assassin. Behind the assassin is a monster with scars to hell and back. Alistair Rohan is not a modern day hero, he is a man on a mission — intolerant of bullies, liars, and predatory abusers of the weak. The difference for this hard charging vigilante lies in the reason his father put him in a crucible that should have killed him. No one should have been able to endure the torture, much less survive to become a police officer. It was as though his own father thought he was a demon that needed to be destroyed. In Rohan’s darkest days he was a contract killer and a human being without a conscience. Now he is in a different place with friends he cares about and a lot of questions to be answered.Can he face the truth? Why are the people he killed coming for him? Is there ever a chance for redemption, and if there isn’t, why should he try?Die Like A Man is full of dark action and supernatural thrills. There is a reason that Officer Alistair Rohan runs down his enemies with the grim determination of a preternatural monster.
Today has been a long day, during which I worked two part time jobs on what is supposed to be my day off. In that respect, I’m just like everybody else trying to make my way in the world and pay the bills. The reason that I am writing or actually voice dictating this blog right now is because I just realized I was given break. (And should be thankful for my good fortune.)Several months ago I started listening to the Self Publishing Podcast with Sean Platt, David Wright, and Johnny B. Truant. I think that their ideas on writing are awesome because they center around hard work. That is a concept I can definitely get behind. Their message came at a time when I was struggling and discouraged. I can never thank them enough for the inspiration they provided.Right now I’m standing at a part time job and reading Yesterday’s Gone on my phone. Sure, there are interruptions when I have to put the phone down and watch for trouble, but all in all this story has made the night go by much faster. I suddenly realized that I was almost dreading the end of my shift, because that will mean I have to stop reading and drive home.Bummer.I am at forty percent of Yesterday’s Gone: Season One. Things are getting complicated for the characters in this book and I am growing attached to them.
This week has been good to my hands, more specifically the fingertips that get to feel the immediate satisfaction of generating stories via the keyboard. Wow, you might say, that is a weird way to put it. And you’re not wrong. I am a writer; words do funny things around me. What, you ask, is the point?I wrote an average of 2,644 words a day this week. My goal was #3KaDay, but I will take the 18,511 words that I completed on Dragon Land and be happy. (This total does not count blogs or other social media writing, it is strictly creative fiction I am talking about right now.)I firmly believe that it is impossible to ever become a fulltime writer without being able to produce in sufficient quantity. If I were building houses for a living, I would need to construct as many as possible. Writing is half art and half work ethic, if you ask me.Hard work doesn’t scare me, especially when it is this much fun.
What do you do after you finish the final draft of the final book in a science fiction series? Take a couple of days to work on your Urban Fantasy series, right? That is where I am at and let me tell you it feels great to be in a fresh project. Taking some time off from sci-fi is already paying huge dividends. For example, today I wrote over 4,500 words on Dragon Land.Mornings are for writing new words. Once I hit 3k a day, I start editing and revising finished drafts. Fridays are always my best writing days and today has been no exception. After easily exceeding my “new words” I started reviewing Weapons of Earth from start to finish for consistency of plot and story. When that is done, I will be using Pro Writing Aid and saving money for at least one professional editor.Today was has been a great day so far. I hope you are finding success wherever you are as well.
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Like many writers, I read Stephen King’s nonfiction book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. When I first learned that he wrote 3,000 words a day, everyday it seemed like a lot. Now, many years after reading his advice, it the ideal seems either daunting or totally doable, depending on the day. I work full time, and according to contract, that means forty two and a half hours before I am eligible to put in for overtime. I also work two side jobs.There are days when three thousands newly created words is more of a challenge.And what about editing? How do writers who are attempting to get consistent word counts everyday deal with writing. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I am editing a large project, it isn’t uncommon to go into negative word production (which is another King axiom; cut ten percent during the edit).We will get to some methods of addressing that particular issue in a moment. For now, there are a few other word count productivity questions I want to throw out, because admit it, this is exciting stuff. #writinggeekShould I count blogging?Email?Social media?It might sound crazy to even worry about these details, but generating three thousand words a day is the same as writing 1,095,000 words a year.Pow!The Words I Track1) New words: these can include story summaries that will be expanded into regular narrative, outlines material, and story beats (for fans of the Self Publishing Podcast crew). Story building can be counted, but it isn’t wrong to forbid yourself from logging this category. I know a very good writer that will probably never finish a novel, but will have an entire universe created to the smallest detail — so writer beware.2) Blogging: I say count it, but set limits. Even though I awoke this mrning with ideas for several different blog articles (a rare occurrence) I am limiting myself to five hundred words. (Because I have a novel to finish, Hello Moon!)3) Email words: no, this is like an Olympic sprinter bragging about how she walked to the mail box every day — not something that will bring home a gold medal.4) Social Media: if the raw number of words spent on social media make a great novelist, then I am in trouble. This should probably be subtracted from the daily goal. (Look at me mom, I wrote eight thousand words on Facebook! Ah, no. There are so many reasons not to do this.)Summary: Today, I start adding the words I blog to my daily log. The reason is simple; I don’t blog consistently and it is something that can help aspiring novelists.Bonus: The best way to meet word count goals is to join, or start, an accountability group. Josh Hayes, Scott McGlasson, and Roy Upton have allowed me to be part of their word count team. So far, 2016 is looking to be a good year.Results: I have not made 3k a day, but I have done better than 1k so far.Here are some good books on writing productivity:2k to 10k (by Rachel Aaron)5,000 Words Per Hour (by Chris Fox)Writing in Overdrive: Write Faster, Write Freely, Write Brilliantly (by Jim Denney)Also:During the last several months I have been extremely inspired and entertained by the Self Publishing Podcast of Sean Platt, David Wright, and Johnny B. Truant. Writers who are not afraid to work hard might give it a try.
What is happening in Cathy’s Town?Last night, at a ridiculously late hour, I read through my work-in-progress, which began as a largely seat-of-the-pants narrative. After about 6,000 words and some research on Nevada, Smith & Wesson revolvers (.44 caliber Russians…thanks for the idea, Elmore Leonard), and the Aleut people and Alaska) , I wrote a new opening scene that sets the entire story of fire!So far the Characters for Cathy’s Town: Piano Players, Gunslingers, and Widows include:- a woman and a Russian Orthodox Priest priest fleeing from the Northwest to the East Coast with a major problem in Nevada, during 1880 plus or minus a few years,- her son that must find her, protect her, and admit that his father died in a gun battle with a rival family,- a piano player with a mysterious Civil War and Reconstruction history,- a young woman running a frontier empire with only her intelligence, courage, and desire to be the richest widow west of the Mississippi,- and some bad-ass Cossacks bent on revenge in the American WestI am enjoying the creative process on this project so much that it takes everything I have not to publish the book in blog posts as it is written. Fortunately, I learned the pitfalls of that method once before and will not publish until the story is a great as it can be and I have contracted a professional editor.Merry Christmas!