A Dingo Ate My Baby

It’s getting into late June…

Holy crap.

I’m not sure I believe that.

How the hell did it get be to be late June already?!

By the end of this month, I am “supposed” to be at least halfway through the first draft of Silence.

Err…

I think I need to dust off some of those old excuses I used way back in college. “I’m sorry, professor, but there was this baby, you see. And a pack of dingos. There were definitely dingos…”

Yeah, my professors never bought it either.

The hard part isn’t inspiration: Yellowstone is not short on that particular commodity. Electricity and good wi-fi? Those are problems, but inspiration is pretty much everywhere.

No, the problem is the right inspiration – and the right environment. For someone who grew very used to writing in the taproom of a brewery, adjusting to “writing on the go” while surrounded by mountains, trees, vicious bears and a supervolcano that is – quite literally – right under my feet is something of a challenge.

I’m essentially at the 35% mark. So much for schedules and planning…

On the other hand, I do now know just what bison smell like up close, so I’ve got that going for me.

The worst part is that I am writing…I’m just not writing what I’m supposed to be. There’s an old maxim in writing that if you put off writing out an idea that comes to you – even in the middle of the night – you are guaranteed to forget it. Well, an idea came to me a week or so ago…in the middle of the night.

You know the refrain by now: I had to write it.

During my work week, I can squeeze in a couple hours of writing each day. What did I do with the two or three writing sessions I actually managed to complete this past week? Yep, you guessed it: I started fleshing out that idea that came to me.

Harrumph.

Connor and Oz are mad at me, now. They think I’ve forgotten them…

It really is a good idea, though.

 

p.s.

Sorry about the late post this weekend – I actually had the one that went up Saturday night written and ready in plenty of time, but when I tried to upload it on Thursday…well…remember the problems with electricity and wi-fi? Yeah, both hit me. And with 8 trillion people in the park every single day, the one Verizon tower I can reach gets a bit, umm, overloaded.

If I can remember to set my phone to upload overnight, I do promise to do another photo post this week.

 

That One Key Image

I’ve talked before about the fact that books & stories are not necessarily about what they’re about. As a writer, I love that fact; I love using subtext and themes to communicate my own thoughts and feelings in the work.

I have, in past posts, described what Wrath & Tears is really about, talked about that one key image that really defines the book for me: one broken kid holding the body of another, far more broken kid. But what is the key image for Silence?

Given that the current story is only about a third of the way finished, that’s harder to say than you might expect. But…I write the end first. And the end, in the way I write, is that key image. The end is the thought, and the emotion, I want to linger in the reader’s mind as they walk away.

So what is that image? Where Wrath touched on suicide, and my own memories and experiences thereof, Silence is about the search for meaning – for faith, if you will – and the realization (Wish? Hope?) that there really is more to life than this.

If, in my own life, that is a question very real and hard to answer, just how much worse is it for a street kid who has never had a chance in the world? For years, Connor’s world – his meaning – came down to just one thing: Oz. The two needed each other not just to survive, but to truly live. But Connor grew and changed where Oz could not, and a big part of his problems in the first story came from his unspoken, unrecognized need to search for more.

Recognizing that need is hard, even for an adult. For a 17-18 year old kid? Yeah, right: self-reflection and self-awareness aren’t exactly part of the standard equipment. I will reiterate something a very smart lady named Janet Reid once noted: “a 17-year-old boy is just a walking erection with an iPhone.”

And, no, that is not the main/final image for the current story!

So, we have this issue where Wrath is unabashedly and unashamedly sad, but Silence is intended to (re)introduce that one concept so glaringly absent from the first story: hope.

That theme and image, then, comes down to one thing for me, to something Connor  would never have considered a year ago. It comes down to the realization that, regardless of how broken and screwed up both he and the world are, he has to believe. Believe not just in himself, but also in something bigger…the realization that he has stand for something. It comes down to that same kid – broken and hurting still – reaching out for help to the one person he fears above all others.

As a final note: the theme of the third book is already decided, as well. Hell, the third book was decided the moment I wrote the final scene for Silence.

The key is in fact hinted at throughout all of Wrath & Tears, actually: alone is worse.

It’s time to really tackle that concept, and to touch on in a new light Connor’s struggles from the first two stories.

It is time, when you get right down to it, to tackle the concept of family…and everything contained within that incredibly loaded word. It is time, especially, to address the reality that Connor learned so early, and so painfully: some families you’re born into, and some you choose.

A Snippet: The End Of It All

Do you show your last card in poker? You do if you’re an attention-whore writer…  The story still has a book or two to go, but the end…?  Well, there was no other way for Connor’s story to go:

The place was much cleaner than he’d expected. There was no trash, no crowds, and the smell was little different from a hundred stations.

The uniform didn’t fit right, not yet. It was tight and loose in all the wrong places, and the young man chafed wearing it. He chafed more, it must be said, at his assignment.

All he wanted was to get through the Academy. Join a ship, live a little. The universe was a big place, and he’d seen almost none of it. Quite why people insisted on throwing the father he’d never known into every assignment, every conversation, every word, he didn’t know, but he was getting very tired of being ‘that’ kid.

The whistle blew and he stepped forward, a wreath in his arms.

Why the fuck was he carrying a wreath?

“On this spot died those to whom we owe everything,” the admiral intoned.

Pontificated, really.

Everyone else stood in neat lines, but the boy in the ill-fitting uniform had to step forward, had to present his wreath.

“The chaos and death that overwhelmed so many of our cousins missed us…”

Jesus Christ, just let him put down this heavy fucking wreath!

“…so many lives, and so much blood. More than anyone else, we owe to one man’s sacrifice our peace, and our survival. One very brave, very young man.”

Fuck…finally!

The young man stepped forward, placed the elaborate wreath on the stand in front of the tomb.

Surrounded by trees and simulated sky was that tomb. A simple marble block with an even simpler inscription on its face: a name and a pair of dates. Those the young man understood, but what lay beneath everything else? That still made no sense.

“Attention!”

A thousand people snapped to stand erect. Hands over heart, or saluting at the brow, whatever was more appropriate to their own history, all honored the sacrifice of the dead.

Those who knew the truth had defined that inscription, the young man knew. He knew the name, knew the dates – as did any good son – but the two words? What the fuck were they?

CONNOR SPOGELSE
2/2/163 – 2/28/183
SOMEWHERE PEACEFUL

The Silence That Never Comes

It took some thinking for this post. It especially took some thinking to use this particular title. Those blessed with good memory may recall that the above is also the working title of the current story I am writing (the sequel to This Place of Wrath & Tears).

Now, for Connor, the title carries the message and symbolism of his search for meaning and value in life. Of his nend to answer the question/problem of “there has to be more to life than this.” I hesitate to call it a search for faith, but in all honesty there is an awful lot of that in there as well.

That search, very obviously, has meaning for me as well. Crap, I wouldn’t write the damn story if it didn’t mean something to me. Just as I wouldn’t create characters, or use themes and subtexts, that are meaningless to me.

I had the day off today, so I went for a hike. Rather than go to one of the well known sites, or use one of the marked trails, I decided to set off for a bit of back-country hiking*.

*Yes, Mom, I carried bear spray and watched out for hungry and/or horny animals.

Where I call home has more than doubled in size since I moved there almost 15 years ago. Do you have any idea how long it’s been, among all those people, since I’ve heard silence? Since I’ve been able to get outside without people and dogs and cars and noise all around me? Hell, even the trails and national forests in my area are crowded and noisy.

I didn’t reach my destination on the hike, but I never expected to. The ground was snowy and marshy, the hills sudden and steep, and the way overgrown and difficult. I walked until I found a good spot and sat for a bit, just looking around me. Again and again I did that.

More than looking around, however, I listened.

I listened to silence.

The sound of tall trees in the wind. The sound of an animal a couple of hundred yards off. A few birds. The rushing of a tiny rivulet from the rapidly melting snow. That’s it, that’s all I heard.

All the things I haven’t heard in ages. All the silence I haven’t heard in…oh…decades, it feels.

Being who I am, I spent the time not just wrapping myself in all that silence but also thinking and planning about the thematic elements of Silence. And about what I want and need to communicate, both for myself and for Connor.

My time finally finding silence, and my thinking about Silence, was a reminder and a reinforcement for me: I write this blog for other people. Oh, I enjoy it, and I get both fun and benefit from writing these posts, but this is by definition something I do for others.

For good or for ill, I write my stories for me. That I share them is a side-benefit. They are more than the way I give life to those ghosts fluttering around me, they are the vehicle for my own thoughts and emotions…both the good and the bad.

That is why I can’t give up the writing, no matter how frustrating it can be. That is why I chose this life, and this outlet. That is why, honestly, it works: a reader doesn’t have to like what I write, but I promise you they will feel what I want to communicate.

Who could ever ask for more?

Peeing On Trees

I can feel, already, the pressure falling off my brain (and off my soul).

Now, I normally don’t remind folks of this, but I write these blog entries ahead of time. Seldom do I need to sit there on the morning of a post and bang one out on the keyboard.

Err, if I do, I screwed up. I screwed up bad.

Since I am heading into Yellowstone for days/weeks/months – with all the spotty internet and change-of-scene and dislocation that that entails! – I am trying to get a decent backlog of posts queued up.

Building that queue means I have to think and write through some things that I might normally push aside, or…well…massage a bit before I put them down for others to read.

But you know what?  I’m not gonna do that right now.

I NEEDED this change of scene. I needed the fresh air…I needed a new dynamic…I needed, honestly, to do something random and short-sighted and stupid.

I am, by the way, very good at those particular aspects of life: random and short-sighted and stupid. I have a PhD in random and short-sighted and stupid. I’ve also had a lot – A LOT – of fun in my life! I am, of course, also completely broke most of the time…

Like most people, I didn’t realize just how uptight and stressed I’d become. I definitely didn’t realize just how much I needed to change my surroundings…even if only for a few weeks.

I am not, I long ago realized, a domesticated animal. I need to roam. I need to try new things. I need to pee on trees. Err…never mind that last bit.

Of course, taking a fairly large weight off my soul raises one interesting question: do I lose the bitter, angry edge that has defined Connor’s stories so far?

Wait…

A more relaxed, optimistic story for Connor?

Umm…

Err…

Excuse me, but I have to go find a tree to pee on…

I Never Did Listen Well

I’ve been told I shouldn’t do these, I shouldn’t post snippets.

“Don’t give your stuff away, even if it’s an initial draft.”  “Too many complications, just keep it to yourself.”

Screw it, I don’t care.  I write…that’s who I am.  I write so people can read.  I write to share characters and stories, to share emotion and thought.  Everything else is just noise.  So…a snippet:

The guitar was a part of Connor, body and soul. The words and the music even more so. All of his emotion, and all of his memory, had been pouring into his music for the better part of two hours.

Connor did not lay himself bare to strangers. Hell, Connor did not lay himself bare to himself. The memories of those that mattered were too sore, and too near, however, for such control when he was playing.

Into every word and note of his music went all of the pain and loss – and the guilt and shame – that bore the names and memories of his ghosts: of his dad, of Marie and Vin…and of Oz. Always of Oz.

A final line sung about the price always waiting to be paid and he bowed his head, listened to the diminishing notes of the music. The heat on that stage, and the effort of his performance, had almost as much sweat pouring from him as emotion. The small, packed bar echoed with the crowd’s cheering applause, but Connor couldn’t hear them. The memories, and the unshed tears, were too loud.

A few breaths, a few precious seconds to gather himself, and the spotlight faded.

Thank you, Spog. I wish you’d sung to me before.

How did you answer that?

You remembered, and you felt, that’s how.

He could barely raise his arm, so much energy had he spent. But then again, he didn’t need much energy to drain the tumbler of whiskey at his elbow. There might be no forgiveness in alcohol, but there was numbness. He was going to need an awful lot of numbness after the music.

But not for anything would he trade that music. Nor the memories. His friends – his family – were dead, but they would always live in his music…and in his soul. They were something he could hold to, something he needed very badly.

Another drink was pressed into his hand, a babble of voices talked to him. He looked around, he answered and he drank. But it all took place in a daze, his body responding and functioning by the purest instinct and habit.

That daze didn’t end until a voice spoke; a voice he did not expect.

“You made me cry tonight, Connor. You promised never to do that again.”

He looked up. He couldn’t not look up, as hard as it was to do. No, he wanted to run away and hide. He wanted very much to hide.

It was Nat.

Connor hadn’t felt like this since the night he’d held Oz’s dying body: helpless and hopeless and beyond words.

Talk to her, Spog. Say something, you crazy ikiryo.

You could tell me what to say, he thought back to his dead friend.

Oz’s only answer was the faintest of laughs, and the memory of warmth…and of love.

[Edit: cleaned up the paragraphs…copying stuff from my usual writing program into WordPress can be funky sometimes.]

The Snippets Shall Rise Again

It’s been a while since I posted a snippet, so I guess it’s time once again.

I do have to say, when I was proofreading the bit below, a thought hit me: why are my worst days (on a personal level) also my best writing days?

I suppose it’s because writing is a retreat from the real world. You get to write about someone else’s problems and ignore your own…if only for a couple of hours. Of course, given the tone and content of my current story, the writing also gives me a chance to vent about ‘real world’ shit.

The bit I am going to post is, err…well…angry, to be blunt. That, at least, was my state of mind when I wrote it. It is not a complete scene, but rather an ‘extra bit’ that I turned out at the end of a writing session. I had already written another scene by that point, but wasn’t in the mood to stop.

What do you do when you want to keep writing? Sing the chorus with me: you keep writing! So I did. The bit below is the first half (roughly) of the scene in question. It is also the opening of Act II, and so represents a transition from the set-up and exposition of the preceding scenes/chapters.

Standard warnings apply: this is a VERY rough draft that has only undergone proofreading for the most egregious grammar & punctuation errors. To all intents and purposes it is completely raw output that needs (and will receive) refining as I go through the rest of the writing process:

It was still cold outside. It would always be cold outside, Connor decided. Dockside hadn’t been particularly warm, and definitely not comfortable, but it was still a damn sight better than this frigid pile of rock he now had to call home.

They stepped through the huge lobby doors and onto the big plaza in front of the tower. A glance at Sonthi and Connor quirked an eyebrow. “You wanna tell me what the fuck we’re doin’, boss?”

They were the first words he had spoken since Sonthi had grabbed his arm and hustled him from Chapman’s office. Mumbled promises to the executive that he would ‘explain everything’ to Connor had not-very-successfully hidden a haste to get out that Connor found almost comical.

Did Sonthi think he was about to beat the shit out of Chapman? Another glance at the aging ex-cop and Connor decided that was exactly what the mappo feared. He clamped his jaws shut against the rising chuckle and did his best to look simultaneously angry and scared.

Oz would’ve been proud.

Sonthi’s hand tightened on Connor’s arm and he leaned close, whispered in a voice hoarse with tension, “Just hold it together, kid. We’re gonna take a little stroll and go somewhere we can talk. I’ll explain, I promise. But not here. Just stay with me a little longer. The walk will do you good, anyway; you looked like you were about to go full-fuckin’ ikiryo on Chapman back there, and that wouldn’t be good. For either of us.”

A year ago – in another place, and another life – Connor would have gone ‘full-fuckin’ ikiryo‘ on any patronizing aho who talked to him the way Chapman had. But now? Now everything was different.

Two steps and everyone on the plaza was staring again. Shit, even the Stationside takies were better than these idiots.

Sonthi expected him to be angry and resentful, so Connor decided to play to expectations. To over-play, really.

Go big or go home, that ghostly memory of Oz chuckled.

Sonthi walked…normally. Working to blend in with the other debil on the plaza as far as Connor could tell. But Connor…Connor most certainly did not. He strutted and rolled as he walked, carrying all the arrogance and attitude of a chinpira who’d just made his bones with a Family. That walk would very likely have seen him get a knife in the gut back home, but here? Here all the tight-suited fools couldn’t get out of his way fast enough.

Past the plaza and halfway down one of the semi-identical streets, Sonthi looked at him and said harshly, “Christ in a blender, chiima, what fuckin’ crawled up your ass? Relax, kid, it really does get better from here. I went to too much trouble getting you out to fuck you over now.”

Connor’s only reply was a grunt. Conversation was the last thing he wanted just then. No, he had thinking to do. A great deal of thinking, and even more planning. He hadn’t lied to Chapman: he would do whatever baka job the CEO had in mind for him, and do it well. But there wasn’t a chance in hell he would let these idiots take advantage of him. No, taking advantage was his job, not theirs.

The buildings lining that narrow street were taller and more confining than even the worst of the res-holds. This planet had nothing but space, Connor silently wondered, so why the hell did they all crowd so close together? What idiot had come up with this?

It was the concrete, he decided, that made it all so confining and oppressive. Made up of nothing but dark grays and blacks, that concrete was used for everything: from roads to buildings and everything in between. Even those few buildings with decorative facings, like the LRC tower, kept to the same dark palette of depressing monotony.

Shit, these people had an entire fucking planet, and they wanted to live as crowded and confined as the poorest docksider? Baka, all of them. But crazies made the best kamo; ‘more money than sense’ wasn’t a curse in Connor’s line of work, it was a blessing and a wish.

Another few hundred feet and Sonthi turned to enter one of those buildings, just as looming and dark as all the others.

The windows had been tinted the deepest black, leaving only a broad, flashing sign above the large revolving door to provide any color whatsoever. Bright pink and blue neon proudly proclaimed “Washington’s” in what Connor suspected was meant to be the most up-to-date and fashionable way possible.

It just looked stupid to him.

He followed the older man through that revolving door and into a world of pale woods, green plants, and weird lighting. Dockside had interesting shadows and odd colors because the lighting was shit, and there was no chands the Station would pay so much as a penny to improve the living conditions of a bunch of criminals and malcontents. But here, in the capital of the entire damned star system? Here there were shadows and odd colors because…they wanted it that way? Baka, every single damned one of them was completely insane.

He was able to stifle the laugh that threatened, as rude and contemptuous as it was, but not the derisive snort.

Sonthi stopped to look back. Quietly, he said, “Give ’em a break, kid.  These idiots wouldn’t know a decent bar if it danced naked and slapped ’em on the ass. They call places like this modra. Means ‘blue’, for whatever that’s worth. Not sure what the fuck it’s supposed to really mean, beyond every haafu in here having blue-balls ’cause no one in their right mind would have sex with any of ’em.”

That laugh Connor couldn’t stifle. Sonthi may have been a kamo at that moment, but he was still a docksider through and through.

 

I Reject Your Reality…

Meaning and subtext. Well, hell, why not take a shot at it today? I’m behind on posts, so I have to get one or two prepped and scheduled if I want to actually stay ahead of the game. And, yes, that means the once huge backlog I had (about two weeks’ worth of posts that were stacked up and scheduled) is officially gone.

I got sidetracked by…well…the real world.

Damned real world.

IMG_0145LEAVE ME ALONE, REALITY!!

You know that old MythBusters saying? Yeah, that’s me…

Err, sorry…lost the thread for a minute there. Back to the point.

Wrath & Tears was a story about corruption and revenge and, most of all, love. But – yep, always a but – that wasn’t what it was about. It was about suicide. More specifically, it was about the despair and pain that lead to the act.

It was about a friendship and a love that, in the end, weren’t enough to save a life.

I’ve lived that. I’ve been in Connor’s shoes. What Wrath was about was both easy for me, and was the hardest thing in the world.

Silence is different. Where Wrath was external – about something outside of Connor (and me) – Silence is very much internal. It is about Connor’s own despair and survivor’s guilt. More than that: it is about the search for some form of faith and meaning in life, both for Connor and for me.

It comes down to a “quest” to justify and fulfill the sense that life is meant to be…more.

How do I do that?

Good question.

The simple answer is: I lose the inhibitions. I pour myself, emotionally as much as mentally, into the writing.

But that answer is trite and facile.

The reality is that I have to think and plan. Any good story has meaning and subtext. It may or may not be obvious, but I guarantee you: if you remember a book (or play or movie…) it said something to you.

But when said story gets preachy, or – worse, by far – self-indulgent? The journey from memorable to shitty happens at Warp 9. I try to very much keep that in mind. When I plan out the scenes, I (try to) ration out the emotion and subtext as much as I do backstory and exposition.

It ain’t always easy. Err, it ain’t ever easy, to be honest. But then again, that’s why writers get paid the…err, let’s just stop that line of thought right now. The damned real world is still lurking, in spite of my best efforts to ignore it…

When you get right down to it, hitting the right tone and level of subtext with Silence is a real challenge for me. In some ways I’m not quite as openly invested as I was with Wrath: the memories of those suicides that touched me personally are very real, and are in their own way concrete and “quantifiable.”

In other ways, however, I am far more invested in Silence: the emotions and thoughts are mine, which makes them rather more powerful, if somewhat nebulous and hard to “use” on an intellectual level.

Not to mention the fact that I have to take a plot about greed and corruption* and factional/corporate politics and weave it on top of a story about guilt and pain and the quest for meaning…

*Err, yes, that is indeed a focus for all of Connor’s stories…

Maybe I should switch to decaf for this one.

Some Of The How…

I’ve done some squirrel posts lately…and some more ‘big picture’, philosophical posts…but it occurs to me that what I have not done lately is a post about the writing process itself.

You know, what this blog is supposed to be about.  So, this one’ll be focused on the how of my writing, rather than the what and why.

I’ve mentioned before that my outline for a story is a listing of all the scenes it contains. As of right now, Silence is looking to come out at roughly 125,000 words for the first draft. Although that number is based on 60ish scenes, I won’t really have a final number until Acts I and IV are pretty much done, and I’ve then finalized Acts II and III.

All that aside, what I really wanted to talk about is writing scenes. You know, the actual, real writing part of writing . Everything else is to support this bit: creating the dang story.

This is why I got into this in the first place – to write! This is the part that has all the personal reward…and all the emotional ups and downs of living intimately with your characters and your story.

This is also when I get fairly obsessive: every spare minute is writing the story, doing the planning necessary to write the story, or thinking about writing the story.

That planning is key. What I list below may sound like a pain in the ass, but it really, really helps me to stay on track as far as the plot and characters are concerned.

Now, remember: I do not (generally) write scenes in the order they appear in the story. I write what I need to write that day…and sometimes I write what I need to write in order to understand the story itself (i.e. doing the final scene first).

This is a short list of the notes I write for each scene – it sounds like a lot, but it’s actually only about 400-500 words in total:
1) Background – general thoughts for the scene. Since this is sci-fi, I track “real world” reference material here, as well as preparatory research (prison culture and dynamics for the beginning of Silence, etc…).
2) Set-Up – the actual specifics leading to the scene. Especially what has happened to the characters up to that point, and what they are thinking/feeling as the scene opens. This is the key to writing the scenes out of order…without doing this I might end up using a character who has, ahem, already died…
3) Setting – pretty self-explanatory.
4) Voice/Tone – in other stories this section tracks who is the actual POV/narrator. Since Connor is the sole POV for this series, I keep a quick note on his tone and feelings.
5) Characters – again, pretty self-explanatory.
6) Intent – Even if I skip the stuff above, I cannot and will not skip this bit. Every scene absolutely must serve the story! Every scene must advance the plot in some way. No, really…writing a scene that accomplishes nothing is, well, pointless. You must understand what you are trying to accomplish in the scene before you write the damned thing.
7) Outline – yep, you guessed it…I break the scene down and plan how it is going to go. For an average-length scene, I will have 6-8 steps thought out, including my projected word count for each. This is the “map” I use to keep myself on pace for the scene and story.

As a final note – the above is my personal guide, and is intended only to make the writing process easier. As I put the actual words and thoughts on the page, things can and will change. All of the prep and planning in the world is useless if you don’t write the story you want to write.

My characters can and will force me to change things…and that is a good thing. The story in your hands should be a living, breathing, evolving thing. BUT! … That story is also quite like a two-year-old kid: you love it, you cherish it, but you really don’t want to let it drive your car.

Is Redneck A Recessive Gene?

One of the things certified-smart-people tell you is that you should read out loud what you write.  Err, read out loud to yourself if you don’t want to experience the fun of soft walls and milk once a week…

I can’t argue with this advice…crap, I won’t argue with it.

The spoken word is very, very different from the written.  It is much easier to get a sense of the rhythm and pace of a passage – whether you wrote it or not – by speaking it than it is by reading.

Even better: run-on sentences and overly complex clauses & wordplay will become very quickly apparent as soon as you try to read aloud.  If you can’t do a sentence in a single breath, it is not only too long, it is way too long.

That isn’t why I’m writing this post.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, the above is good advice.  Shit, I wish it was my advice.  It isn’t.  I have undoubtedly heard/read it from many sources, but the one that really sticks with me is a literary agent named Janet Reid.

If you are not in search of an agent, you’ve likely never heard of her.

Fix that.

I love that woman to death, and she isn’t even my agent.  She is, however, brilliant…and one hell of a source of wisdom for new writers.

Please, just trust me on this: visit both of Janet’s blogs (her personal/agent-ish one and QueryShark). No, really…just do it.  She is the single best resource out there for a new writer.  I’m willing to be a whore for whoever will help me succeed, but Janet is…well…the elite.

Go Janet!

Okay, back to the point.

Reading out loud.

I do this.  It helps.

But, why, for the love of fuck and all that is holy, do I read my own stuff sounding like the narrator from Dukes of Hazard (the show, not the movie)?3c4adb98c271465997e9527b8f5f65c2

Christ-on-a-hockeystick, I’m not even from the goddamned South!

I’m from California!  I can surf, for fuck’s sake!

So just why the hell am I sitting here reading the scenes about Connor in jail and sounding like Waylon-freaking-Jennings?!?

On the other hand, I do have to admit, that (entirely fake) accent does force me to slow down and focus on the words and emphases in my sentences.

Shit, maybe it ain’t so bad after all…

Those Duke boys, they was only out to have themselves a good time…