Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Excerpt Time!

One of the things I'd hoped to do with this blog is share my writing. So, today, I bring you the first of, I hope, many excerpts.

This is from my published novel, "Falling Into Fate." It's from an early chapter, and it really starts in motion the mission my little band of characters undertakes. Any questions, feel free to ask!

I'd love comments and/or followers!

From Chapter Three ...

The town, West Serra Land, had been decimated by a band of marauders. I’d read in history books about the raping and pillaging that was supposed to have gone on in medieval times, but I’d never imagined I’d end up seeing what the results looked like firsthand. Flames chewed up rickety wooden structures, and bloodied bodies, some with weeping relatives crouched around them, darkened the landscape. Up to this point I can tell you I’d been somewhat nonchalant about my transformation and adventure—I wasn’t sure yet whether to believe it was really happening or that it was some sort of psychotic episode, but somehow it hadn’t turned me into a quivering jellyfish. Now, as I saw what looked, smelled, and felt like real death for the first time, I began to truly know fear.

The others moved about in the ashes, turning over body after body and swearing. Domitrus was administering some sort of liquid to a wounded man, who convulsed, wracked with pain, and spit it up. Orlacc and Therra began questioning the cowering locals about the identity of the invaders and the whereabouts of the Sage. Parkel, like me, stood and surveyed the carnage with a look of uncertainty wafting with the smoke across his boyish face. His frustration over Therra and Orlacc had been momentarily forgotten. After a while, Orlacc beckoned us together.

“My friends, fear not,” he said. “We shall avenge this good village of the deeds perpetrated by those bastards my stepfather sent. But in the meantime, we have been given the location of the Sage’s den. I suggest we find him immediately.”

We all agreed to that pretty quickly! Anything had to be better than standing around, surrounded by the dead and dying. We followed Orlacc down a few of the village’s dirt roads, and soon we arrived at a stone hut. Water dripped from the thatched roof, and tiny trails of smoke from the recently extinguished fires rose into the air. The wooden door had been battered in, and it was half off its hinges. We all looked at each other, and, seeing nothing better to do, we pushed the door open and entered. It was pitch dark inside the hut, and I couldn’t make out any people or furniture.

“Maybe he left?” I asked.

“Quiet, Morrela—!”

Suddenly, from out of the darkness, someone leapt on Orlacc’s back before he could finish yelling at me. A silver knife blade caught the light. There were sounds of scuffling, and then, apparently, Orlacc pinned his attacker.

“Unhand me! Unhand me!” a shrill voice cried. “Haven’t you monsters done enough damage for one day?”

Orlacc’s voice growled out of the blackness. “Listen, you little old pip-squeak! We’ve come for your help—not to harm you!”

All at once, a sizzling ball of luminescence appeared in the middle of the room, flooding it with a watery green light. Orlacc was on the floor on top of a little old Chinese guy in a robe. The skin of the man’s face, hands, and feet was spotted with brown and folded into hundreds of intricate wrinkles, and his long ponytail was the color of rock salt, but even with these cues, I was hard-pressed to guess his age—he could have been 65 or 99. His features seemed to shift a bit in the unearthly light.

The rest of us were arrayed about the room. A bloodied dagger lay on the ground.

“Well then,” the little old man started, “let me up and tell me who you are.”

- End Excerpt -

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Wordcount vs. Waiting for Inspiration

The Year of Our Lad (as some folks here in the Boston, MA, area might pronounce it) 2015 has been a toughie for this writer so far. It's been tough getting going after the daze of Xmas/New Year's/etc. I had been turning out (or turning in?) some words on my novel most days, but, so far this year, I've only really had one productive day. So I got a bit mopey about it on Facebook, and ...

Most of my writer friends understand the battle. You want to get into a routine. You want to produce every day (of course you want what you produce to be great, but you also just want to Get Stuff Done). If it ain't great, you can always revise it to be so at some point down the road.

But others - even a few writers - will say "only do it (write) when you're inspired." "You don't want to turn out half-hearted crap."

And they've got a point. I don't.

So how to strike a balance? How to keep momentum going ... keep in practice ... while not turning writing into a chore or "necessary evil," like exercise can be?

I'm not sure I've got an answer. In fact, I'd love suggestions. I will say that I've sometimes made progress by just doing it and not really paying attention to whether I'm making progress or not. And then I look back and see that, yeah, I've made some progress. It's been like that the past few months. NaNoWriMo came along for November, and, while I knew I wouldn't be able to really participate, I decided to TRY and turn out some words every day. I didn't, but I did it most days. And, in the process, I put down about 10,000 words in November. That's not an astounding amount, but it definitely blew away what I usually did. And I did a lot in December, too.

And then I hit January, and ... thud. Hardly anything. What gives?

Anyhow ... I've been in this game long enough to know I'll figure it out, at least I'll figure some of it out. I'll be writing again and getting some great words down. It's just a matter of when and how. But there are some "blocks" I have in general that I'd love to defeat ... perfectionism being the biggest. Anyone else have problems like these? What do you do?

I'll close this entry with a couple of requests: If you like this blog, consider following, please, so I know you're interested. Also, if you've read either my book or short story, which are both available on Amazon, please, please, please leave at least a short review ... even one sentence.

A writer likes to know someone is reading. Sure, we dream up/live these stories for ourselves, but the main reason to write them down is to share them with others!


Friday, January 2, 2015

Frustrations and Blown Days

So it's not all good news. Being a writer, whether full- or part-time, definitely has it's ups and downs. Inevitably you get Those Days, ones during which it's hard or even impossible to make headway, to write.

Today was and is one of Those Days. I figured I'd try to write about what its like, and do it while I'm still immersed in the frustration.

Why can't I write today? Well, there are lots of reasons, but none of them are really things that have to keep me from doing it. But here are some of them:

  • I've got a headache.
  • The kids are around, being loud, fighting, being distracting.
  • I'm not feeling good about myself in general.
  • I had other, paying, legal writing to do today, and it burned up a lot of my energy.
  • My wife has to go in for a medical procedure tomorrow morning, and we have to leave very early.
  • And it's late now ... I just sat down to write at 10 pm or so, which is kind of late to begin.
  • My novel's at a critical scene, and I *really* want the scene and the writing to be GOOD; it is "of consequence.
  • Etc.

I don't know ... I could probably come up with at least five more. Suffice it to say, I felt like I lost the battle tonight. I sat down, re-read the last part of my chapter, said to myself, "Okay, it'll need revision eventually, but it's going well," and then ...

I decided to pack it in (yes, this is me packing it in, I guess!). Have to get up @ 6 am tomorrow, and it's 11:20 pm. I just don't have it in me to get started now. Not even a paragraph or two. I'm going to just read a book for 15-20 minutes until I'm ready to sleep.

No big deal, you think? It shouldn't be, but then these thoughts start creeping in: What if I die before I finish my story? What if I keep putting the writing off, and then I'm old and it's too late to become a Real Writer? What if I forget what I was going to write? What if people read or see that I didn't get serious writing done ... won't they judge me?

And it's noise, noise, noise ... the brain won't quiet.

I haven't got an answer for this battle yet. I think I'm telling myself that I don't have much choice tonight - I need to be awake to take care of what I have to take care of in the morning, and I am just too tired and headache-y now. I have begun mulling how to pull this scene off in my head, so maybe it needs to gestate for a while before I start getting it down on "paper." I don't know, but I have been doing this long enough to know I will feel good about my writing again, soon. I don't know how well or when this book will come together and be Ready for Public Consumption, but I'm determined to not give up.

So I'm shutting it down this time. The battle ended the way it did, and will be joined anew again tomorrow. I will beat the obstacles and ride the joy again. But for now, I sleep, and my mind recharges (I hope).

How do you handle these situations, my fellow authors and humans?