Sunday, December 27, 2009

Writing Goals


There isn’t that much time left until 2009 is over with and as it comes around there will be a chance for new resolutions, new promises, a fresh new start to get organized and be better than last year. I can’t imagine anything more powerful than the clean, polished to perfection, new slate and I am just motivated to state what I want and do it for a change.

For once I would love to see myself organized. I want to carve out a time niche of an hour everyday and just write in peace. I would need to learn to ignore the pestering Internet, which always is the greatest problem, when down and writing. Then there is the family problem as I have several members needing to interact with me, especially, when I am writing. So yeah, a big fat learn to steal time, when they are not there.

I would for once like to outline and research a novel, before sitting down and write, ’cause the results are horrifying, when I do it panster style. I admire all the people, who manage to do it without much preparation, but with my world building I would prefer to be on the safe side and not be lazy as hell.

I will revisit short projects ideas that have been dear to my heart, but have been conceived in my ‘I can’t finish anything’ era. There is a novella in there somewhere, which was radical for me and my style, because I let all the naughty words slip and I had really morally ambiguous characters. So that will be revisited along with other short stories.

The mountain goal will be in the novel writing category. I am determined to have a do-over with “Forged in Blood” and complete two other novels.

2010 has to be damn productive.


I am not in the Holiday mood as per se, so this is some character art work, which has me thinking about leather gangs meet medieval armor and giving birth to the woman’s mean outfit. Quite impressive work and I just love the overall vibe in this piece. The title is “The Sword Woman” by Tahra [which I am not sure whether it is the actual artist’s name, but she is from Korea, so I may be on to something].

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Revision Cave: The Labirynth


I have been busy catching up on major reading for the Comic Book Appreciation Month on my review blog “Temple Library Reviews” and I have been quite swallowed with Birds of Prey, which escalated from flat and not witty to enticing, witty and deep. Guess the author does make a difference and after Gail Simone took over everything went for the better, but I ignored everything else as I race with that series to the finish.

For instance I got lost on stage one as far as the Revision Cave goes and I say that this bad. I have read the early chapters and decided to discard them and start anew. I’ve started outlining chapter by chapter and things pop up that need to be researched and quite after they have been researched will I sit down to write the chapter. That is fine and dandy, but I am not sure on a few things.

Do I do this chapter by chapter? As in outline chapter, research aspects in chapter, note details and then add this to various arc schematics and then write it. This would mean to move at a slow pace, but would ensure that the story is perfectly tied. I sure hope that this strategy is good and I lean over to doing it this way, because with my scatterbrain tendencies I sense that the whole novel outline, research and then writing won’t contribute to much.

Research would need to be concise or perhaps I should cover more ground. I’m still working on this and good thing is that things shape up better than when I started this, so it’s good or maybe I am confusing myself again. Novel writing sure is tricky.


I feel a bit evil and in the mood for weird as I approach a new short story project, so here is something equally evil and weird. I am a sucker for something pure and good as an idea and concept and then twisted into the opposite. This Poison Heart Care Bear is the perfect art and is the work of Bobby Chiu

Friday, December 18, 2009

To arms, this WIP has no chance...


Yes, it is quite official. SMH has been shelved until the novel learns to behave and not turn into dozen things that I hadn’t intended on. As it cools I shall enter the revision cave as my friend and soon-to-be-published author Karen Mahoney refers to the process of revisions. I have decided to return to the first novel I have ever written in English: “Forged in Blood”.

Despite it being the only attempt at novel writing that’s been accomplished by my hands and by the rule of thumb, these attempts never reach a publication quality, I love the world, which has spawned seventy percent of any future series projects, I am contemplating, and I also love the story. I had some problems with it though.

The protagonist developed from the most incapable, reactive ugly duckling to a kick-ass black swan and she did so as a result of something that happened to her. Not so good, plus I am not into Ugly Betty type: nice, limited in ability, but with a big heart and moral compass, also an easy pick for a scheme. The novel itself starts as a sitcom, than goes into well tread waters in UF territory and then goes quite bizarre and macabre. I loved the last third and I want the whole novel to be like that, so here is what my muse did.

With regards to the trilogy end, my protagonist needs a total make-over and I need to make her the vicious ice queen Cerberus. But this is just step one in this whole Odyssey. I’m amidst a battle plan on what to do:

- After rereading the ‘brilliance’, I will note down all the world building aspects that are not consistent and then develop a file with details on the world. This will involve research topics and a lot of non-fiction reading.

- When the world is done, it’s time to map out the revisited plot and taking into account that the protagonist is not to be messed with. Characters bios are to be handled here with needed research on certain medical aspects.

- Get the newest Google Earth and start mapping out actual places in America, even if I am as far away from there as I possibly can be. That done, it’s time for a scene by scene breakdown and redoing.

Sweet, huh? I reckon I will be done never with it, but I gotta try.

Another art inspiration for you guys. Since I am in the macabre mood with darkness spilling in the afternoon hours, I give you “Awakening” Part III by Becky Cloonan, who is talented and her art always speaks to the horror writer/fan persona inside of me. I find this to fit in to a point with the Cthulhu month is having, tentacles and all.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why go OCD with these Submission?


I am going to be pretty brief today and I think that I will be as brief the whole winter, because I feel like defrosting from the weather and the warmth from the heater lulls me to sleep. That scary fact about my body reactions to temperature changes poses a question on its own of how the heck am I going to be productive at all, but to be quite honest that is a mystery better left for a different post.

Now I shall answer the question/title for this post. It’s a fact; I have submitted “Lunar Hues” to targeted anthology with high hopes that Anthology Editor falls in love. Fairy tale sequence aside I had a small panic attack attached to this submission. It took ages to figure out how to tone my bio and how to shape my publishing credits, which by the way can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Most painful was how to approach the anthology editor, since research on the matter never revealed his/hers name. I guess I am doing the quest for name wrong, but I couldn’t find a thing.

I quadruple checked everything from formatting to headline, contact information and what not and in the end the mouse hung quite a few seconds over the “Send” button, before clicking. I had the feeling that I was Dexter Boy Genius, while experimenting with dangerous chemicals and awaiting something to go wrong, even though I have followed procedure.

Did I format the file accordingly? Did I miss something vital? Was it a slap in the face to clarify that although my full name is Haralambi, it’s better for everyone to be called Harry? I did this in the most well meaning tone without indulging in self-explanatory territories, but I am a slow writer, so the submission process is a new and I fear that I might have stampeded over a sacred unwritten law somewhere.

As you have noticed I turn into Monk, when it comes to submission, which got me thinking: Why the hell do we near heart failure every time we submit something, whether it be a short story for a magazine or anthology, pitching to an agent or editor and god knows what else, we as writers hyperventilate. I even got reassured that it is normal, which I know it is, but then again why is it so.

To me the gist of it lies that to make a good impression, a writer relies on too many variables that determine success. One would be following the guidelines, which is the most obvious of them all, but then there is the ability to slightly differ from all the other submissions without crossing a line, which has to happen within the submission text and doing that via e-mail is an art form within itself. Something that might seem acceptable to write, may irk off the editor and since the submission text is a lot like a novel’s cover [it aims to get a reaction from the one intended to see it] rubbing the editor the wrong way can be a very sloppy French kiss with death.

When someone is irritated the weaknesses or personal pet peeves stand out and scream for the work to be stacked in the rejected pile, while when one’s mood is perked up by the positive fuzziness conveyed in the submission along with flawlessly followed guidelines and manners to boot may result in a positive viewing of the work. This is not to say that editors are bunnies that one can manipulate so easily, but these fine, fine details determine one way or another the success of the submission at least as far as submission goes. A good submission tells the editor that the writer has professionalism, which is a valued quality, while bad submissions can make the editor doubt whether working with a writer, who can’t even handle the submission stage can be adequate, if published.

Would you trust a taxi driver, who would try to speed from the right lane? It’s the same here to a point.

That being said, I have to add one more thing. There are plenty of writers out there and the business is pretty competitive, so one needs to be stellar as far as submission goes. Precisely why I am going OCD when it comes down to submissions.

Yeah, it’s not that short, when I think about it and it’s kind of incoherent babbling, but it’s my logic on this anxiety when it comes to submissions.



I am also indulging in yet another mythological piece that has been re-imagined, because as far as I recall gorgons aren’t male or muscular, but it’s certainly a striking illustration, which I discovered on my DA hunts. The hand behind it belongs to Mushimaro Tachikawa, a very talented Japanese artist in my humble opinion. Now doesn’t this provoke an interesting story?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Chatty Muse


Word counts aren’t happening as well as I would like them to, which is a shame in on itself, but the very least my muse has been busy mixing one cauldron after the other and her efforts have given me two new series, which are pretty darn good in my opinion. While the ideas for both series have existed in my subconscious mind for some time, the muse decided to shape the first novels in each with too many details about the plots and the worlds. I rarely get that kind of show in my head, so I am diligently writing all this up, while it’s still fresh, awesome and not puzzling at all.

Both series give me something I love as topics, elemental spirits and superheroes. What’s not to like. While the zeal has been pumping the Muse has been crafting a few new projects that take place in the world of the elemental series as well as “Forged in Blood”, the urban fantasy I plan on revising in the near future. These are mostly standalones, but have a common theme, the characters represent a certain category in the magical society, so I might chain them into a series of standalones with a loose tie in between.

So far the stories range from Australian duo with weird powers on a road trip quest to an outsider being initiated and accepted within the Hawaiian paranormal society. I am in love with mythology, so it would be a blast to cover the myths and legends that makes Hawaii so special, especially Pele the volcano goddess. I am not so sure about the third novel, which is more gothic romance about a mysterious mansion, but the character is quite mystically well endowed and I am a sucker for concept, so I might take a stab at it, but it’s not as pressing as the four mentioned above.

As far as the current WIP, it is suffering in word count growth. The problem with this novel is that I didn’t let it boil and gurgle and mature into a finished concept, at least not seriously and in the details I need even with the outline. SMH is morphing and changing colors chameleon style, which is not bad, because it shows promise, but at the end these new variables setting in well after the middle bother me. I am seriously considering, leaving this novel rest until I am certain what it would look like or if it plans to stick with an identity and have any merit to be completed.


Once a long time ago, when I didn’t have such a disorderly collection on my computer I had this tradition to post amazing art that has made my day and inspired me to write or the very least envision and I am inclined with this one again. The piece is called “Forgiveness” and is the legend of the kelpie, drowning a girl, which in turn forgives the kelpie and becomes a swan. An interesting look. The talented artist is Jenna Vincent, an Aussie with a flair for dragons, but covers mythology as well.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Absence Week

Ignore the ghetto setting and focus on the start whiteness that has occupied the street behind my house. Yes, it’s December and it’s snowing and it’s doing so before Christmas. An event that hasn’t happen in a few years and a good omen for me and the following 2010, which is almost here.

But snow or no snow I went quite absent this week and here is what happened. I was on a trip outside the city, where we partied with fellow university students and celebrate December 8th, which is the national University Student Day. Naturally we had to get wasted, but then again almost all of our national holidays include binge drinking, which I think we stole from the Russians. Anyway back on getting wasted. We did it on the famed three day trip, I might’ve been bragging about on Twitter out in the mountains. The lodge we were at was positioned next to a famous landmark cave we visited and above a monastery, which sold the most delicious sweets I have eaten in a long time. So there was good food, cheap alcohol, nature trips and sweets.

Back on Wednesday we returned at night and the story jumps to an all-nighter, when everybody tried to finish their Accounting paper and give it in on Thursday. Mind you such a task is not easy, when the paper is almost 20 pages long, you have traveled around six hours on a train and you are under-slept from partying. I call this one a nightmare. Ironically our assistant was on sick-leave, the deadline was on the 10th and the main professor wouldn’t collect the papers, because he is an asshole. What makes this even more infuriating is that the professor won’t give credit for the papers, but will be taking for not giving in papers and having mistakes. I am in a lynching mood.

Consequences from this week include:

1) insufficient amount of sleep [though the first two nights it was voluntary and the latter ones painfully obligatory]

2) high amount of stress, an even heightened animalistic hatred for bureaucracy [which has to do with the whole Accounting fiasco thing]

3) a phobia for traveling in trains, after we had to make a half an hour trek through the overcrowded train from the last wagon to the very first [mind you I was the gentleman and carried two suitcases as well],

4) 500 pages of reading behind schedule [which are manageable, now that academically my program is lighter]

5) God knows how many words behind on writing [also manageable, because of the same reason above. I plan on finishing that novel by the end of the year and it shall happen]

But I had a blast during the three days outside the city with no Internet, no books and no battle scenes with younger sibling from hell. I was goofy, yet quiet me along with friends in the great outdoors.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

So, what's your Draft like?


This is the inspiration for this post as well as the weird dynamics, which have prevented me to type as much as I would like. While I scouted an actual café-bookstore, I think the only one in the city, I bought this notebook because of the covers, which had these authentic botanical illustrations. Since I am a sucker for well illustrated flora, I sacrificed the buck fifty to buy it and possibly write a neat first draft of a short story inside. I can’t imagine doing anything else to it other than writing a short story that fits the cover art and yes I do have some botanical ideas lurking inside.

As far as novels go I can’t go on writing on paper, because god it takes millions of years to type the first draft on the machine and then edit it accordingly, although with my debut novel I resorted to writing in a journal, when it had become clear I couldn’t stay focused. However with too many people with computer needs and one machine to accommodate all needs I am more or less pushed away from the computer in my prime time.

The next best thing was to write up the first draft to my story “From Behind Empty Eyes” on paper, while my schedule left no good lots to sit down on the keyboard and write during the day, which is my prime creative time. It goes slower for sure, but then again since my hand is slower with the pen, my mind is also not trying to rush way ahead with the story and leave my work underwritten, which is the case with most first drafts I get to complete. Sentences flow with certain pauses between each other, but the story coils and weaves elements easier and the voice builds in consistency. Yes, it’s slow and I hate having to read the first draft and then type it up and after which editing on MS Word, but I’m enabled to scribbled a line, paragraph or even a few words every now, when I am out. After all it doesn’t matter whether you write 1,000 words in one hour or in one day as long as you get something done and my daily quote is exactly that much, so I am quite happy.

As far as the progress goes I am on 4 out of 6 scenes in “From Behind Empty Eyes”, the two remaining scenes have to be inserted in the middle, but I enjoy how it turned out so far and I believe that there is some subliminal message encoded within and not just the zombies. I am optimistic to predict a late December final edit.

November’s been busy, but joyous for my mentor with her induction into motherhood, so I am forgoing any expectancy to receive any edits and just sucking it up, having a short once over and then wham hope "Lunar Hues" bedazzles the anthology people.

As far as the manuscript goes: SMH has proven to be quite the challenge around the middle and since I haven’t had a novel without something apocalyptic taking shape, I am even more in uncharted waters alongside my ‘middle part crisis’ problem. So far I am leaving the story distil until Saturday, when I can type on a more regular basis and with my academic schedule easing up I will force these hands to type 2,500 words a day until the exam session starts. But here is my updated progress.

29134 / 80000 words. 36% done!

While I am on the ways one can write drafts I have a question to those that might read and feel like commenting:


Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Harry Markov has difficulties writing biographies in third person, but he follows this venerable, ancient tradition. What he has no difficulty is devouring written words, only to sit down and create some himself. He is a former child-author wannabe, who has settled for patience in order to gain at least a moderate understanding of the secret lives of novels and short stories.

A devoted (junior) connoisseur of the weird and the surreal, Harry Markov won’t judge a book just case it has a muddled genre genealogy. On the contrary, the Markov prefers a rich blend of genres. Fantasy, weird, horror, science fiction, fiction or fairy tales, everything works.

When not writing fiction, Harry Markov reviews and writes articles for Pornokitsch, The Portal, Beyond Victoriana, Innsmouth Free Press and World SF Blog among others.

Harry Markov has become publicist Jaym Gates' personal minion-assistant-apprentice.

You can reach Harry Markov at likenion [at] gmail [dot] com or Twitter: @harrymarkov

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tuesday Linkage: 01.12.2009


1) Mark Charan Newton announced that his debut "Nights of Villjamur" will debut [sorry for that word play] on a new scene namely the ebook world and has some questions he wants readers to ask. The comment section is where to look at people.

2) Editorial Ass is hosting a sweet writing contest, where participants are encouraged to create a tribute or whip a good assassination for a person to shape your writing path. Details can be found here and the prize "Mentors, Monsters & Muses" is super sweet and totally worth the effort.

3) Author Todd Newton has a stab on the worldwide behavior of writers to write about writing and usually revealing how they do things to other writers, which in general just creates competition. I will definitely address the topic in a longer post. [LINK]

4) Eric at Pimp My Novel has reposted a very helpful vocabulary from inside the publishing industry so that you may talk the talk without feeling confused at hearing these words.

5) Catie Murphy over at Magical Words has posted a really good essay on the ages old debate Series vs. Stand-Alone.

6) Okay, so back to what editors and the Top Ten reasons they don't love what the critique group loves. Thanks to edittorrent.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Social Vacuum


It’s been a busy November over at my side of the world with academics stealing a significant share of my time and energy, which I would have dutiful applied towards writing and keeping up my Internet presence. I have been struggling to write and here without much success, since my mind tires rather quickly, when I’m doing mentally unpleasant tasks and I count economy as such.

Apart from that I feel as if my mind has gone a bit stale due to the routine I’ve fallen prey to. The need to shake things up arises, but with whom do I shake things up with? All the writing and book buddies I talk to are in the busy zone as well and due to uncomfortable time zone differences I can’t communicate as often as I wish.

It’s this situation that leads my thought process on the social vacuum writers exist in. As far as I am concerned I can’t talk to anybody about what writing I do or what books rock. I tried doing that yesterday and the responses were 1) why am I not making money 2) the person I talked with stated that if he ever were to get serious with his scribbles he would run me over and 3) writing dark and macabre speculative fiction means that I have a myriad of emotional and psychological problems. All of this under five minutes conversation, which certainly was a buzz kill.

But I am an extreme example. I live in a small country with small population, which makes readers and writers scarce and those interested in what I am even scarcer and if you add that I write in a different language than my native, I am virtually an anomaly. I guess that the USA and UK on a purely statistical level increase the chances of two writers to meet, connect and feed each other’s imagination. But even this is rare to behold in society.

Yes, the vacuum is evil, which makes any contact with like-minded people invaluable time. It is why I love my Thursday evenings from 7 to 8:30 pm, when my university Book Club meets and I get to immerse in literary goodness. In this purely social sense I feel as if the universe has decided to sprinkle some happy dust for me. The club right about now is in its early stages and we sidetrack a lot from the agenda. We discuss themes, tropes, genres, fads in literature, lyrics, poetry, bestsellers, favorite genres and why we love them, we read our own work both in my native Bulgarian and in English.

Before the book club I had no desire to even read, because my brain felt drained completely, but the synergy I experienced with the individuals from my university completely recharged. It is after all my sole breach in this social vacuum and I would suggest that everybody with reading and writing interests find something small, unofficial, organic and flexible with its agenda and get the creative juices bubbling. Nothing beats sitting across somebody as creative as you are by nature and establish a real connection. The Internet is liberating in the chance to contact, but it’s only a crutch.

Now in order to stir some of your own creative waters I am posting this drawing I scavenged from the world wide web, since one of my passive hobbies is to scout and gather cool drawings that catch my eye for whatever reason. This one is called "Blood Summons" and is currently in perfect synergy with my first ever in English written novel "Forged in Blood", which I plan to revise come January 2010. Artist's technique is not a favourite of mine, but the image comes closest my ideas.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Links and Things

Since in my original blog posting blue print I have link-ups on Tuesday, it's best to continue with the tradition and here I present you the juicier and helpful articles I have read courtesy of Google Reader.

1) Time is pressing you and which writer hasn't experienced the pressure to do so many things. So Devon Monk calls for professional attitude and reorganization of priorities in order to make writing a profession rather than a hobby in her post "Bring me that Mountain". I chide with her that writing happens only when the writer is dead serious and sees his writing as a self employed entrepreneurship.

2) Over at Ecstatic Days guest blogger Kameron Hurley has let words loose and has crafted a rather long post about writing, which I find highly interesting just to compare to one's own path into writerhood.

3) John Scalzi has had something to say [that man usually does have to say something about anything so I am not at all surprised] about self-publishing [which makes total sense and has to be preached so that prejudices may be dispelled at a certain level] and then discusses the Harlequin situation, which I admit has been stirring everybody's cauldron as of late.

4) Mark Newton discusses the 7 things that make agents drop your work immediately at the very first chapter, for which I am most thankful for they all discuss the opening of the novel. Then he lists the things he doesn't like about writing and I found myself agreeing to almost everything.

5) Nathan Bradford lists the Top 10 Myths about e-books.

6) Over at StoryFix Larry Brooks discusses how to infuse your work with emotion and heart.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Talk the Time Table


The twenty first century won’t be the twenty first century unless you have too much on your plate, figure out insane ways to juggle with your priorities and interests, grind something hard inside the small snippets of time you have free and doing this without having to knock a few more hours sleep from your schedule.

I imagine the average closed minded person without a great myriad of interests [for whatever a reason], whose life fits exactly into reality, have a hard time do what life has written on that person’s chore list. So what’s left for the rest of us, who can’t survive the 9 to 5 hell [though in my country it usually extends to 10-12 work hours a day] and need to have hobbies to feel at least partially sane? I am one of the latter sort with zest to undertake new things, but a big fat lazy ass to actually exert control over the situation. Here is what I need to juggle with:

~ Academic life [lectures, studying, exercises, homework, exams]
~ Writing [novels, short stories]
~ Reading [for pleasure, for review, for research on projects]
~ Blogging [reviews, interviews, guest posts, for TLR and my writing blog]
~ Socializing [mail, twitter, blog hopping via Google Reader, actual people (yes, I occasionally do interact with actual human beings in the flesh)]

Due to financial circumstances that have affected the whole family, I shall have to become BREAD EARNER the 2nd and become once more employed, which let me tell you is not as easy in this economic situation, in my country, where part time jobs do not exist and for a student still in university. In time it will happen, which means that I will eventually find myself in a mutated time crunch. I do not foresee a happy ending here and the only resort to my aid will be time management skills. If life was a D&D session I would die to throw a twenty in that category, but since it’s not I will have to talk the time table. My schedule book is actually a folder and still a WIP, but looks promising.

I start from the big picture and move down to the day-by-day chaos. The first six sheets show the outlined goals in each category mentioned above with quota breakdown distributed in an even as possible manner. Writing and Reading are more or less on a calendar month basis, while the rest are on week dynamics. With these initial six sheets I will know what kind of productivity I aim to achieve. Pictures below.




Blogging about Writing:

Next follow the sheets that will house my notes on different topics connected to the six sheets, but have no immediate effect on my time table. Usually tasks I need to do in regards to project I am currently working on or notes on the book I am about to review. It saves me time, when I forget a detail I want to mention in reviews and is more helpful, while reading anthologies.

The last and largest sheet group contains the daily agenda for each day, where I will need to fit all the quotas in such a manner so that I can achieve the weekly and monthly goals. Since I am not that far in to be honest I didn’t get to doing these yet and I am not sure how effective this system will be, but it will certainly help me with my memory issues.

PS: Excuse my crappy photography skills.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What is a Writer: Part 2


It’s Wednesday and as promised I have returned with the further instalment of the signs to be looking for if you doubt you are a writer or suspect someone close to you being one as well. I have four shorter points to discuss, which are certainly more obvious than not, but then again we are all prone to ignore or forget the obvious, even when it is staring at our faces and bitch slapping greasy cheeks with the force of a volleyball player’s service.

4. Hazed Look

Writers don’t usually enjoy the Real World experience with unpleasant things that have to be done in order to not starve and have Internet access and the logic that drives reality’s as Greek to us as creativity is to the movie industry. Concepts like personal finances confuse the major number in our ranks. Just read what Scalzi had to say about it. Frankly, it’s way more fun in Writer-land, where responsibilities don’t follow and you can be your own deity in a realm that exists to satisfy your whims. Telltale sign that a writer is in that happy place is the hazed look that resembles a zombie’s slack expression, but not quite there yet. Usually there is intensity in the eyes directed to a faraway point not unlike dramatic flashbacks in Latin American soap operas. You spot that strange look; you are dealing with a writer. If you realize time’s skipped and you have been daydreaming, then you are potentially a writer at heart. If this zoning out persists and you do enjoy involving yourself into the fates of nonexistent people, then chances grow for you to be a writer at heart.

5. Vocalized Creative Prowess

The VCP is the most elusive and sliest signs to spot a writer. All VCP practitioners reveal a negative and often malicious reaction to the latest movie/book/song that is milking the better part of consumers [New Moon, Twilight saga, all under drinking age pop singers are my sole targets for outrage] and publicly declare that they can write better scripts, novels and lyrics with their hands tied, one eye pierced and half the brain lost to a lobotomy gone wrong. Now I can imagine that with the low quality high gloss garbage the entertainment industry has and is spawning a lot of people will get these ideas, but among the majority are the writers at heart, who feel outraged that their field is molested by stupidity. Quite frankly VCP drives writers to sit down and prove that there is quality still to be found, even if it nears extinction.

6. “Love to Hate” Syndrome

Real writers [aka the devoted ones, writers at heart] cannot experience a novel in the manner a regular non-writing person would. More often than not they snicker at poorly written works, learn from the classics and modern titles, but I think it’s in our genome to never love a novel without some allergic reaction that tips our fragile mental welfare. Most common is crippling frustration that you could never ever in a million years write anything as brilliant. Then there is the rage, which manifests in those cases, where the said writer sees his idea written not only better written, but also filling a niche in the market, which would have made said writer rich to a degree and unique. Last but not least the professional envy, which turns a writer’s face greener than grass and the selfish wish to one day be at that caliber. Naturally I am not saying that all writers feel all these things all the time. We muster true happiness that someone else we know is doing great or that a concept is being well received or that an idea we are toying with has an analogue in the market, but these negative reactions to outstanding books have their way of creeping in the dark and striking, when we least suspect it. Sadly, this is one of the kryptonite sides of being a writer.

7. Scribble Typist Addiction

It would have been pointless to add this tid bit in the beginning as it would make all the other fun facts about writer’s behavior irrelevant, but if you suffer from the STA, which means the inability to not write, then you are a writer. You may not have all the awards, movies deals, fans and royalties from foreign translations, but if sanity is threatened by the overpopulation building inside your cranium and you need to materialize the stories on paper, then you can sleep soundly, because you are a writer. To further illustrate my point I will direct you to the army, where you see all these ranks and medals, but at the end of the day, when the general takes off his stripes he is the same as the regular soldier, a man or woman brave enough to risk their life for the country. Writers don’t sacrifice their lives literally, but when vocation calls you respond.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What is a Writer: Part 1


Inspiration for this post comes from Karen Mahoney, who bravely declared what a writer is and who should dare to call themselves writers and that there are no such things as writers with the capital W and that publication doesn’t matter so much. I chime in to further break down this misconception. When you strip the awards, the contracts and the popularity from all the iconic names in literatures you get the same core that every other writer has and that is the devotion to the craft. This unity in concept prevails in my language for the native word in my language for writer and author is one and the same, although we did steal ‘author’ and added a Slavic spin on it.

So there we have it - “publication a writer does not make” would say Yoda. But what are the behavioral criteria to categorize a person as a writer. I have a list compiled with the symptoms and signs that will tell you whether you are a writer or know a writer personally. I am starting with the first three things and will continue on Wednesday.

1. Accessories.

This is the most obvious and slightly misleading criteria. The proverbial writer does not leave his/her house without the essential notebook/journal, which guarded with the writer’s life and is more valued than the wallet filled with IDs, important documents and money. Said journal is handled with utmost care and if lost can cause a writer heart failure. On second spot there is the novel, which is kept in case circumstances do not allow writing in the journal. This applies to book-a-holics in general, but valid for authors as well. To a writer pens are as important as lighters to a heavy smoker and yet the writer fails to keep track of where all his/hers pens go and usually goes around in search for a pen. Writers also have affinity towards scattered pieces of paper and other writing materials such as colored markets, tape, sticky notes and staplers. Then again scrapbookers are also fond of these, so context matters.

2. Skewed perception of time.

Time is not exactly the same in Writer-world. Real world operates with seconds, minutes and hours and in Writer-land it’s all words, pages, chapters and drafts. If you really think about it, I think you have been in a situation, when you replied to another person that you will go to sleep after 500 more words or that you will go grocery shopping after this one chapter or that you will go out after 35 more pages in this book. Word counts and writing goals in general is how writers operate and that’s how a writer sees the week as some deadline that stretches on and on and on. Otherwise writers are not that good with calendar dates and real-world time is so fleeting and confusing, when a writer is in the zone.

3. Uncomfortable curiosity.

Writers exhibit great interest in life, when a certain aspect of life corresponds directly to their newest work in progress, even when the aspect of life is gruesome and questions regarding the socially taboo topic raise eyebrows. To a writer no experience is wasted, especially, when the writer is writing about it. Having high fever and induced heavy palpitation, which brings an ambulance to your heart. Super exciting, because the writer gets to know how it would feel to have an ambulance come, neighbors pry and paramedics act. A field trip. Been there and done that. Broken heart, winning a free prize, falling in love, finding two bucks on the side walk, participating in a fight, being in an accident, watching somebody be a jack ass, being the laughing stock of the school, being an athlete, training a sport, being sick or handicapped. All these things build the material a writer needs to breathe life in his story and much like an actor would do, a writer would immerse himself in his subject matter, experience the things he writes about or ask both polite and uncomfortable questions.

PS: If anywhere I am incorrect please do tell, but I am speaking of personal experience with myself, observation and interaction with other writers, so I think I am objective and accurate.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Draft Notes: 13.11.2009


It’s that time again. I haven’t been very active and organized these past two or three weeks, because my world trembled under some serious tremors coming from real life, so I haven’t been as industrious as I had hoped to be. Nevertheless November I decided to be disciplined and write everyday around 1,500 words, which usually takes me up around an hour to an hour and a half. The weekend has been rather chaotic and so were some additional days, so I didn’t to the new system enough justice, but the overall effect on my word count is positive:

21079 / 80000 words. 26% done!

It’s true that I have some problems with the novel in terms of self-censorship that comes from various places, a topic that I need to discuss in detail later on. So I need to remind myself yet again that I am writing for a niche group and that the story will only suffer, when I am pulling punches. That invisible brake held me in place and back to my progress at 17,000 I was near the middle, because the censorship held me back. I had a panic day and needed to clear my head and think. Thankfully I managed to slip inside my MC’s head and figure out what to do. So I introduce actively around six more characters and have Milo work his magic on them. I am back at the first six or so chapters to add the missing scenes here and there and surgery is fine.

“Lunar Hues” is waiting on second edits from my amazing mentor M.C, who I hope manages to snag a look, while facing the most important moment in her life. I love her for not turning me down, when she had the full right to and that makes her an inch more amazing.

While that is baking I am on chapter one of the newest novel project, which I am doing for fun and at a much slower pace called “SIL”. I am not sure whether it will be ever completed, but it allows me creative freedom to do some unconventional things I have yet to see done, but then again I may not be looking at the right place.

And I am to pretty soon start on a new short story, which I hope to embark on Saturday with 500 word snippets a day for good measure in order to plot and plan with relative ease. I will aim at a length of 3,000 to 5,000 words in order to pass submission guidelines for more web zines. I am not sure of a title, which is relatively strange lately, since I usually start with titles and then use it to stir the actual story in the right direction.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dissecting the Genre


I am not sure whether this is the best of times to be discussing this since I have major writing to do and probably should focus on the elements that make a story tick, but as my story goes near the core, where the themes and ideas begin to gyrate, I am at a loss for the genre tag I am to provide for this one.

Hitting the market’s bull’s eye is the most important marksman skill a writer has to develop. As trends come and go and the readers are distracted by the latest shiny a writer has to ride on top of the tidal wave and hope to submit the right story to the right agent at the right moment for the hottest genre. No problem. This is how business rolls and there are plenty of examples underlying the rule. ‘Twilight’ erupted on the scene and so many other teenager friendly love stories with monsters popped up that it felt like they’ve always been on the bookstore shelves.

But what happens, when the story you try to sell is a little harder to define? I’d very much like to see this one published, because I feel that after a several drafts it will both entertain and ask some uncomfortable questions. Yet, I can’t peg what genre it is or find a similar to my idea novel to have been published. There is a lot of time before I get to the pitching stage, but this is not giving me sleep, so I decided to trace my story’s potential heritage. For now this raises more questions than answers.

The two core elements in my world building are 1) a contemporary Europe and 2) a magical sub-society, hiding in plain sight and shaping the destiny of the world through the people they come in contact with. The easiest answer would be Urban Fantasy, right? I mean after all the story evolves in cities and has magic. That has to do it, right? Wrong. There is a formula to urban fantasy that is not equivalent to my story.

For starters there is no action, no force from outside or threat that demands ass kicking. It’s all manipulation and a rather cruel chess game. There is no detective main plot that needs solving and the gruesome bits are swapped with a bit of human drama and although the humor relies on sarcasm is scarce, dark, bitter and profane.

Then it can be contemporary fantasy, which is the parent of urban fantasy, since the overall definition includes the two core points that lie within my world building and setting. Now I bet that this did it, huh? Easy. It even fits the whole manipulation, back stabbing and murder threats that seem to resemble court intrigues and can be applied to contemporary fantasy as an element. But I am not satisfied.

What genre fits profanity, debauchery and erotica that is a bit more spiced up that is dancing on the line between tasteful and shocking pornography? From the paranormal romance works I have read I can safely say that it might in there, but although there is the happily-ever-after moment I am not inclined to believe that the relationship is the main plot line. The romance plot is a means to an end for the protagonist to accomplish his Machiavellian scheme and that is more or less the antagonistic approach that dark fantasy is accustomed to.

In the end I am yet again clueless… But the very least I know that my novel is not formulaic and can rest with that thought. If all else fails, I might twist and turn the genre definitions to my advantage and just ride with the tide. It’s not like the borders between each is set in stone.

Friday, November 6, 2009

On Novel Beginnings: Is there a right way?


With NaNo already on the loose and everybody on their special way to begin new projects I am thrown into the topic of beginnings. I’ve spoken with a very sophisticated writer friend of mine, who has been discussing how the whole concept behind hoarding words at draft stage is not working in my friend’s case.

That got me thinking again about how similar and different as a breed we are. In theory we do the same, our stories have the same elements and tropes and the problems that plague us are in theory the same. Yet every writer has an individual approach and while two writers can share the same work pattern and process, there are differences nevertheless. With the Internet and the myriad of authors sharing their personal experience it’s hard for a writer on his/hers first attempts to discover whether he is right or wrong in his strategy. And as with everything that has to do with writing a writer needs to find the best way to channel his story into the Word fail or on the paper, if you are a traditionalist.


Some like to handle multiple projects and hop from the main to the side projects, while doing rough drafts. This is what I do for the most time. While working on my main project “SMH” [btw I plan on revealing the title while I am done with the first draft], I am attending a rather fun novel called “SIL” [a title I am planning on not revealing]. And to keep my juices boiling I am entertaining a rather pesky main character from a YA project I will be doing soon. I do this because I bore easily and when I lose interest in a project, which happens always when it dominates my schedule, I lose interest in the act of writing, because it feels like a chore. Now I know people that are like bulls, who after fixating the red cape do not let go of the chase until victory is theirs. After the initial stages of getting to know the stories I get enveloped and focus on the primary one.


Some like to do research before sitting down to write the first chapter, while others research, when it is absolutely inevitable. I tend to be a lazy researcher, who has no idea what to do a research about to bother. When the story demands something I sit an research and make notes on how to fit the info later or earlier during redrafts. It has to do with me being confused and lazy, which has a lethal potential for any human being.


Some like to chug in words until the rough draft is done and then go and fix anything. Others for sure are perfectionists and know how their story will go down so they try to be as pristine as possible. I myself am not much of a plotter and have a basic skeleton figured out for my stories. Around 2/3 in any project do the pieces of the puzzle start revealing themselves and if the novel gets better it has happened during the revisions, when I have sewn the elements I had discovered earlier into it.

In the end what I am trying to convey is. Start the novel any way you want to and see what sticks best. Reading all the methods can be tiring to the mind and making you believe that you are doing something wrong or you should be doing things this and this way. Usually it involves opposing ideas. So experiment. I have done it around three times and know what sticks with me and what doesn’t. Now with every following project I will weed out the kinks in the process. Anyway this is how I feel about it from personal experience, when I used to take any advice to heart from anyone with a book on the shelves without actually writing. At the end of the day when the fingers meet the keyboard it’s your subconscious that decides what works best and delivers faster and more comfortable. All you need to do is catch on where the mind stirs and refine its course.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NaNo - Open Season


November, apart from having an amazing name, is also the NaNo month, host of the word count progress on steroids event called NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month], where plots and ideas are hunted down, subjugated and written down. If I had an idea that this year's badges and icons were going to be as awesome I would have joined in, but alas judging by my to-do list from here on that is a negative, so I joined the ranks of the people doing the IndieWriMo, which is a slimmer version of NaNo with required word count being about 30 000 words. It certainly fits my overall plans for productivity every month and I hope that this commitment irons out some discipline in me.

There are several reasons why I think that this is an amazing idea that the writer community needs for both seasoned authors and newly hatched writerlings. There are two main reasons, which I think I watched on a vlog over at YouTube, but I have deleted the link into oblivion.

1) Writing is more discipline than it is inspiration. In the dream universe [which in my case involves super powers and food torrents] a writer is visited by a muse and via the magical essence called inspiration we accomplish everything. Reality is a lot more crueller and I learned this when my inspiration spurts became less and less frequented and their durability shortened as well. I still loved my idea, but getting it on paper involved no fully formed passages that conveyed what I wanted the way I wanted it. I did the math back then and decided that if I was to wait on my muse alone, I would finish at first draft at my admission day into a retirement home.

Word count is our writing dream's money maker and it has to shake hard and fast and with an intensity. And it has to do so every day or at least 80% of the days a year. During NaNo your money maker has to shake at 1,667 words a day in order to push through the challenge and meet the deadline. This is the discipline that NaNo teaches. If your head does not stop, ever, nagging about ideas then you need to writ every day and if you cannot stop writing ever, then you also need to realize that this is a high priority in your life and discipline plus dedication here fall in the handy skills to have developed.

2) Quantity does not mean quality and quality doesn't give a damn at first draft stage. Quality doesn't even feel that it needs to be present while you type that first draft. That is why it's called a first draft. NaNo forces you to write super fast and unless you are some undercover genius then it makes you suck, but write. By making you realize that a serious writer needs to have big word counts and forcing you to suck, NaNo also tries to make you realize that it's okay to suck so early on. It permits you to suck as long as you are a devoted busy bee. Besides you know already that most books become readable after many revisions and usually the puzzle and intricate details fall in place during those stages, so thanks NaNo for that favor as well. Be Frankenstein. Sew and stitch together gory limbs and body parts unabashed and play plastic surgeon bent on perfect later. It's far more liberating on your psyche and your confidence that way, tacking in the initial inner suckage as something normal and not a deterrent.

Top notch life lessons, I'd say.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Calling it Quits: Read-a-thon Failure

One can never determine with certainty whether something is to one’s liking without trying it first. This is why I decided to participate in Dewey’s 24 hour Read-a-thon even though I run with a personal apocryphal version without stating it officially and keeping with the update posts and such. I started at 9.00 am and seven hours later I called it quits and watched “9”.

My focus is non-existent. I see something shiny, hear something catchy and I forget what I am supposed to be doing and dedicating full attention to the shiny thing. Then there is the fact that I bore easily and when those two amazingly unhelpful qualities mix together you get a much unmotivated reader. From practice I know that two hours is as much I am physically able to provide for reading, but it never hurts trying.

However there is that matter of external forces at work that kept me from chugging in more pages for the seven hours I was struggling. Despite me generously giving computer access to my small sister on a weekend, she preferred to use me as a climbing facility and ask how far I am and how stupid this was etc. etc. etc. Apart from that my grandfather decided to use me as a custom searcher for spare parts in the local area and the cherry on top of the cake were the household chores. Around the 7th hour I got a major headache and no reading is possible. So here is the breakdown:

Dunraven Road: 248 pages – I managed to finished that the very least. It was dark and I kinda liked it. Certainly of the more realistic and modern gothic vampire fiction.

Flesh and Fire: 50 pages – I decided that this book is simply too amazing and totally undeserving to be devoured in one sitting, but enjoyed in small sips like wine.

Frankenstein: 50 pages – I was just getting into the story, when the headache struck. Damn it and it was just getting good. I love the language and phrasing. Pure music.

So I didn’t carry on with this properly, but if you would look at the sum of all pages you will see that I pushed my reading with a whole week’s worth, if we take into account that Halloween Week will be the Busy Week of Hell academically as well as creatively. This Saturday has been productive after all, but count me out for next time.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Life Notes: 23.10.2009

I have been substituting reading with watching television, which naturally means that I am behind on my reading. The sudden buzz around the book circles that dabble more into books outside the speculative fiction that there will be a 24-Hour-Read-a-thon offered both a great way to at least chug up 3-4 short titles, restrain from using the computer and forget that the week leading to Halloween will kick my ass academically and creatively. I know I shouldn't be doing this for various reasons, but I don't want to play safe all the time.

As it happens my camera is enjoying a country tour with my mother as she is on a commercial tour with Russian executives in preparation for the winter tourist season 2009 and summer 2010 season. So I will be giving you the list with cover titles stolen from the Internet. I am a bit under the energy bar to post summaries and such, so click on the images for information.

I am not sure I will cope with everything, because I know how slow of a reader I am, but nevertheless this will help my schedule for November immensely.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Draft Notes: 22.10.2009


It has been a rather slow writing week after the cold entered the game that I like to call “Juggle with Life” and right during that time my Movie Fever manifested and still hasn’t eased up at all. I am a creature propelled by cravings and desires and when I have an itch nothing can stop me from scratching. I probably lost 60 hours from last Wednesday till now in TV shows and motion pictures, but thankfully the urgency to watch is waning.

First, I would like to start with the short story, because I decided I didn’t want to wait to the last minute possible to submit and finished “Lunar Hues” at 4, 340 words yesterday, though that may not be the actual word count, because I have been editing an older version instead of the one my mentor has critiqued. It will take me half an hour to adjust it, but nevertheless I am done with this one so far. I feel it’s the best one I have delivered, visually and stylistically. I hope my mentor will have the time to look over it, but since she is busy nesting I don’t have the heart to bug her that much.

4340 / 4340 words. 100% done!

About the novel… I have a few problems with SMH that result in this mental wandering in my creative landscape. First I am not sure what genre I want this one in and since a central tool with characterization is debauchery I hesitate on how to proceed. My auto censorship is flaring every time I decide to go daring and create a grizzly exploration of the human mind and moral compass, but then again what would happen if it just comes off as pornography. I think I am having the early doubts that I am the wrong person and this is the wrong time for such a story, but I can’t really control my sub-consciousness.

These hesitations on genre [either it will come off as paranormal romance or as shocking literary contemporary magical realism] reflect on my protagonist’s behavior and his voice, which is hellishly specific to get into right away as it is. As you can everything is chained together. I know what I want to do as genre [the shocking magical realism] and yet I have to fight with my inner censorship and possibly read books that are written in a more serious tone and possibly read “Dangerous Liaisons” to get my character as manipulative as possible. I have another novel in for research that I discovered recently.

As far as research goes I need to look into Amsterdam, Paris and Oxford as city, where the plot spreads. I didn’t do this sooner, because I knew that everything I would ever need as in research ideas would reveal itself later on.


10451 / 80000 words. 13% done!

So are interested in what SMH from the vague details I provided? And do tell how you approach research.

Monday, October 19, 2009

On Rejections


I had the misfortune of being caught in an angry shower last Tuesday, which apparently has short circuited my brain activity. A week passed in catching up with TV shows and movies, but I am back bouncier, more organized and full of analogies on writing topics.

This Monday test subject is the rejection letter aka the Axe, the Depression Pill, the Scythe that killed Creativity, the Big NO. Here is the deal and the faster you come to terms with the harsh day order the better you will adapt to the whole concept. Rejections are as common as the air you breathe and if you want to be published, say hello to rejections. It's a fact of life, which I am sure I am repeating for the trillionth time. So get over it or I am pretty sure publication won't come easy to you.

A few days ago I received a rejection on three stories aimed at the same anthology. Actually this one is the inspiration for this post. Thankfully these submissions are a mile away from my field and the initiative very spontaneous, so this rejection didn't stir up the hornet nest I call doubt, but rather poked my brain matter. Here are my brilliant and repetitive thoughts on the matter. Writing is art and you tell stories. Publishing is trade and you sell adventure, magic and love. From this point of view, the rejection is the minor setback to finding the right buyer.

A rejection is a rejection and every writer gets these. It's the way authors behave that separates writers from writers. For me there are two coping techniques: reactive or proactive.

The divas react, raise the dead from their graves with their screams, write dissertations to editors in the ever famous 'I am always right tone'. Up until the last MTV VMAs I had no code name for these people, but now Kanye West applies with full force. *pause for laughter* I am speaking about a lot of talk about greatness and no professional behavior to portray that.

The martyrs, now we carry our wounds with pride, because rejections wound our ego and self esteem, even if we are the only ones that see them. Also we go back to the beginning of the cycle that led to the rejection and hone our craft.

Rejections will always prey on our weaknesses and writers are miniature galaxies brimming with personal tragedies. It's part of our charm to be vulnerable and emotional. Everybody has doubts. I fear I will never see my name on a respected novel, because my native language is not English, but if you look at Ilona Andrews you will see she made it. I have a friend, who is dyslexic and still manages to make the magazines and sell stories and hopes to overcome her disability and write a novel. I hope she does, because she will sky rocket. There are countless reasons for this craft to be hard and make you want to quit. Rejections are the big bad bullies that taunt, tease and gloats.

However let's break them down on a functional level. Yes, rejections:

~ make you hurt
~ make you detest how business has corrupted this art form
~ make you hate your craft at times

but they also

~ weed out all those that are unfit for the industry from lazy writers to pseudo writers
~ harden your skin [totally applicable in daily encounters]
~ teach discipline and determination
~ is another reason to get back on your ass and write

So soldier, carry your battle scar and march on forward.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Link-Up Tuesday on Wednesday


Tuesday caught me on the down and unproductive side, so I decided to immerse myself in TV shows and get a break from the whole Internet buzz. Monday I was super busy, so I missed on my post. Today I will try to post a writing post after this link-up post.

Let's check what the Internet has as useful advice for writers.

~ Book View Cafe has posted a very informative post about Ways to Ruin Your Career and has backed up the claim with a very detailed example, which should teach us why manners are oh-so-important and always in style.

~ Mark Charan Newton has started posts on how to get a Novel deal speaking solely from his experience as a book speller. So far there are two instalments: Part 1 & Part 2

~ Over at the Deadline Dames there are two fresh posts that would be a news to people following the web. One is posted by Jackie Kessler on Agent Myths and the other is by Devon Monk and discusses what being a writer is and involves as side responsibilities.

Last, but not least I found this small gem on editing from Ask Nicola, co-founder of Sterling Editing. This video is invaluable to all those that keep struggling with dialogue:

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Write What You Know" means learn more


Monday, Wednesday and Friday are topic days, whereas Tuesday is reserved for interesting links and Thursday is my official word count progress day. The weekends I get to think only on fiction. I am not sure why I sidetracked, but thought it was worth mentioning.

Today, I chose to discuss an ancient writing advice that is handed out to every newbie and I guess it pretty much stands next to “Read, read, read” and “Write, write, write”. Namely:

"Write what you know"

Todd Newton discussed this one, accenting on writing a character in the opposite gender, but I was inspired by author Laura Anne Gilman on Twitter, who tweeted:

"Write what you know" means learn more.

I saw this re-tweeted by Tim Lebbon, who added ‘bloody well said’ and I have to agree with him, because otherwise literature no matter what the genre wouldn’t progress at all.

But before I get to the matter at hand, I propose a detour to analyze what this popular advice slash mantra implies. At first glance this is as obvious as it goes. A mechanic, who desires to publish mainstream, might be compelled to put his professional knowledge to good use, while a doctor or a nurse would have no issue at all use their years of experience as a weapon and advantage, while penning a medical thriller.

But the advice isn’t intended for the applicable knowledge given to us from life, but the breed of story we want to discuss. If a novice writer at the beginning of his/hers career has spent his whole life being fascinated by the coming-of-age traditional fantasy epic to the point he/she is intimate with the ins and outs and developments in the genre, then it’s advisory to start there. It’s exactly our interests, hobbies and inner culture, which program our starting parameters.

Although well intended I think that at one point this advice stops being helping and limits the writer’s development. To return to the alchemist analogy, I will say it’s similar to do varying interpretations on the same recipe with the same elements. A beginner alchemist knows only a limited number of ingredients and although it would be accepted to work with those elements until he/she practices other skills, it would be pointless to produce distorted echoes.

But what do? The advice stated, sticking to well traded grounds.

I have two propositions.

One: observe, learn and expand your own horizons. The Internet has countless web pages dedicated to various topics. To give myself as example I spent an hour researching homemade explosives for a 500 word flash fiction and I also spent a few days on bipolarity for another short story. For “Lunar Hues” I studied the various mid-phases and so on goes the list. Learning to write what you don’t know comes from reading those that do, especially when that means crossing into a different genre. As an alchemist one must observe nature, where most ingredients grow and see how the wildlife reacts to them as well as study those alchemists a few ranks up the ladder.

Two: write what you don’t know and boldly experiment. There is that risk that the cauldron might explode upon you vomiting something unreadable and befuddling, but in the end one might stumble upon a find. As an example here I would give with much detest Meyer, who has never read anything about vampires, which translates into not understanding the myth and the story involved with these mythological creatures and yet she earns millions from sparkling vampires. It’s pretty much how my relationship with mainstream and the romances is. I am curious to experiment with them, but without getting too far from my comfort reading zone.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Progress Report


Going back to yesterday’s topic I would also like to mention that it’s never easy to set and follow through your own deadlines, especially, if your motto states: “Sloth I abide”. For me it’s a mixture between this and a state of being scattered all over the place. I have yet to discover a formula to allow to do all the things I want to do and getting it done cost me two whole days with no writing accomplished.

But today I accomplished my goal and here is my word count stat for the time being:

5593 / 80000 words. 7% done!

SMH is the working title, which I will keep a secret as well as the genre and main story line and the characters. It’s going to be a very hush, hush project, since it’s a niche novel in general and I would be more comfortable to talk about it in detail, when I am done with the rough draft.

3500 / 5000 words. 70% done!

“Lunar Hues” is my current short story project and I think it’s safer to discuss since I am on the second edits and the deadline for it is safe distance away. The story is about shifters in a post apocalyptic world and I hope the anthology I am submitting to, doesn’t pull a submission change under my nose like it happened last time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

On Deadlines: Definition, Breeds, Usage


Having earned a snippet of free time today I will speak about a topic, which more likely will resonate with writers and bloggers alike and that is deadlines. There is nothing radically new I have to say to those that have an idea what is to lead a social life and maintain a platform on blogs and other social media as well as trying to be a responsible fiction writer. Deadlines are the necessary or otherwise welcomed evil.

In straight text, deadlines represent the outward force that points a barrel at the writer’s head and gets those fingers typing. To continue my alchemist analogy, a deadline is the lit hearth. It simply forces the alchemist at work to get those ingredients in the cauldron and stir, mix and add new ones to the recipe at the according time intervals.

The deadline, always imposing as it is, sharpens the focus and usually under the urgency it creates prompts bravery to just write the story and experiment, when you don’t know all the right ingredients. It promises, if followed through, that the writer will type THE END. With no deadlines or no hearth if we are to continue with the analogy, the alchemist will have to get that cauldron heated by the sun, which will take a long time to accomplish anything. Or worse, keep revising the same recipe without ever experimenting to see the result.

Published authors, no matter what format they write in, face the external deadlines. The hearth has been lit, it’s burning and time is trickling in the hour glass, so they have to start typing or else. Novelists are bound by publisher contracts, while pro short story writers get pressed by official anthology deadlines. However, more than 50% of the writer population is unpublished. These writers do not have a hearth pre-lit especially for them, but they still have to get something done and their inability to set up and follow through internal deadlines is what leaves so many people saying they are writing a novel for as long as several years.

My philosophy here is that the deadline is not something that pops up from outside and gets you into writing gear. An alchemist doesn’t wait for a lightning to strike the hearth in order to use the fire. Deadlines have to be set by the writers, daily, in order for this writing gig we all fantasize about to become a reality. In this line of thought deadlines are actually a side tool that aids the writing process itself the same way the chisel needs the hammer to bring out a statue from a stone.

Setting deadlines is never easy, never enjoyable and it involves making time to write, making changes to one’s daily routine and setting priorities. See how everything is connected and one thing leads to another leads to another leads to another. In order to become proficient with all the skills and tools a writer has in his/hers possession one must first perfect the ways to create the proper mood for writing to happen.

On a side note, finishing a story is only one deadline marked. Submitting it timely is a deadline on its own, which is just as important. This is a lesson I learned from a missed deadline for a zombie anthology I was prepared for a week ago. Since officially a deadline was not announced I had allowed my daily routine to stir my mind into another direction, which resulted in a closed submissions’ status for this particular anthology.

So my advice. Get a note book and start making “What-to-do” lists, until writing deadlines both external and internal become imbedded in your mind. It’s what I am doing and I am accomplishing far more than before the notebook idea.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Link-Up Tuesday: Start bookmarking


Monday whizzed by like a flashflood and whisked me away on a journey outside the contains of the Internet, which left me with 150 more posts over at Google Reader, which I think have multiplied to 300 today.

I had a nice plan for a topic yesterday. Initially it was on novel beginnings, but then my mind stirred into different waters and I wanted to discuss either cover letters or on deadlines, since my sudden zeal to submit to anthologies involves an abundance of both. I was a bit bummed that I missed one deadline for a short story I had completed a week ago, but busy routine kept me from submitting. Clockwork punctuality is an asset I highly value as one of my strengths, but the free time I did manage to snag here and there was spent phoning my Internet provider to be informed that the servers for the whole city and region were down.

So I am moving along schedule and giving you Link-Up Tuesday, where I post what writing related posts caught my eye.

1. David Hewson speaks about the dreaded writer’s block in his post “Dealing with the so-called writer’s block”. I can full heartedly agree with the man. I would like to add that the majority of reasons behind calling in sick with the writer’s block is that you can’t always say the things you want to say the way you want them to sound. I find it quite vexing to have a spectacular visual and being able to relay it in its entirety, which results in a dwelling without much being written aka a writer’s block.

2. Nicola Morgan over at “Help! I need a Publisher” has been discussing lately why and how to benefit from the social networking as a means to create a sort of reason anybody using the World Wide Web should interested in you as a person and as a writer. This post is dedicated to the joys of Twitter.

3. Maria Schneider over at “Editor Unleashed” has posted a list of the top 10 blogs for writers to visit. So far I haven’t been able to investigate, but it’s bookmarked and will be read in great deal, when free time presents itself.

4. Last but not least “Literature Network” lists seven great tips for being a great writer. I have to say that there are some of the funniest advices that we all felt tempted to do and every single one has been argued logically enough to be believable and applicable for certain cases.

There is probably more, but I am looking at the very least 4 hours of battles with Google Reader. Next time I will have more for sure.

Friday, October 2, 2009

On beginnings and Warm Welcome

Everything has a beginning. Every journey, every story, every blog starts somewhere. There is that page one, the fated first step inspired by an idea and filled with resolve and purpose to do what a person has set out to do. But in life as in fiction it’s rarely about the end destination as it is about the road, the emotions and the events that transpire. Nevertheless that beginning is brimming with hope for an adventure and the realization of something good.

These are the exact same sentiments I hold for “Through a Forest of Ideas” as I am typing this introduction. Writing has always been a passion. There is mystique to pressing the pen on the page and bring a story into creation, the steady way a photographer develops his film and wills his view of the world from the darkness into being. And there is also that charm about the trance inducing clattering on the keyboard I find irresistible. There is always adventure and the whole plethora of human emotions involved as one embarks on a journey through one’s imagination and is willing to stretch, expand and rediscover one’s horizons.

However there is more to the enchantment of story telling. Penning anything from a poem, a short story to a full grown epic is a trial and error process I compare to alchemy. Every form and every format offers and sometimes even hides the tools and elements the writer needs to intoxicate his/hers readers and although there are a few basic formulas as in introduction precedes build-up and build-up is followed by culmination, there is a frighteningly vast creative freedom to do as you please. Every story told is a recipe forged through labor, care and dedication to the craft. Some recipes produce ambrosia, some recipes vinegar, but so is it with writing.

“Through a Forest of Ideas” is my public recipe book as I progress from apprentice to an alchemist in my own right and search the great wilderness that is my imagination for the ingredients I need.

For all the people, who have been introduced to me through my blogging before, I thank you for returning and exhibiting interest in what I have to say. I hope that you will meet a more mature writer. For those that are new to me I extend an invitation to stay and see whether you find my musings on the craft insightful or the very least entertaining.