Posts Tagged ‘writing’

I recently took the challenge of dragging my carcass through the Savage Race mud a few weeks ago and it reminded me how I’ve learned to “cross apply” (rhymes with ‘multiply’) different aspects of my life. Finding Focus
This obstacle course race was a good tune-up for American Ninja Warrior. Aside from having an immense amount of fun, I learned something. Actually, it really reminded of something.
It’s easy to get caught up in the 7+ miles and 26 different obstacles you have to traverse, but if you don’t focus on the one at hand, if you don’t focus on one step at a time, you stumble.
Duh, we should all know that.
But taking the same focus, that same intensity elsewhere in our lives reminded me how I need to push the ‘outside’ away and focus on the item at hand. At the Savage Race, if you lose focus, you’ll probably splash into a cold mud puddle, quickly scraping to get yourself out.
When I’m writing, I need to be ‘inside’ the story. So focused that I don’t miss the special details that can make a scene memorable.
The acrid scent of burnt gun powder floating from the tip of the antagonist’s gun after he just shot a character I love.
The screeching, almost scream-like sound that pierced the air as the antagonist sped away in his throaty Mustang still colored with two enormous black racing stripes running from hood to bumper.
If I’m not focused, I don’t see, hear or touch these vibrant elements. And neither does your reader.
That’s not to say that the reader’s imagination won’t fill it in with his own details, but you should still control the high-level aspects of the scene.
And yet, we should learn to apply focus to all areas of our life.
At work, it’s easy to get distracted. Conversations, walk-by’s. You have 128 new emails in your inbox and an instant message blinking its way into your attention.
But stay focused. Finish one thing at a time.
Humans cannot multi-task. So don’t try.
In human terms, multi-tasking really means interrupting one task to start or do another. You’re really just bouncing around. Switching contexts. Because you switch contexts so easily, you think you’re multi-tasking. But you’re really not.
Want to test it?
Go ahead.
Put a pencil in each hand and write your name.
It won’t come out good.
But if you focus with one hand and do it to the best of your ability, you’d be surprised at how beautiful you can write. Michelangelo painted with one hand at a time and look where it got him.

I’m punching this blog out on my phone, so bear with me.

As an author, indie or traditional, it’s extremely helpful to have a strong social media spine to your business plan. My first goal was to learn to write good enough to have something worthy to sell. I never intended to be on the bottom of the indie or traditional slush pile just to call myself an author. I want to write good books. Good stories.

Once I was comfortable with my work, I began navigating the social media ocean. I was never really interested in tweeting. It’s a twist on the publish/subscribe model with tiny messages. Whatever. But I knew it was important. Through my initial discovery I met many interesting and like minded authors. I’ve even purchased quite a few eBooks based solely on what I found on Twitter. Then I started to love It. Really cool.

One of the next steps was to start growing my followers list. You follow people in the same vein, post good messages and hopefully people will follow you. Sometimes it was just a numbers game. Click, click, click. Type something, anything, and watch your numbers grow. It gets silly at this point. So many times you follow or tweet without caring. The followers list was all that mattered. That’s when I hate Twitter. I hate when it’s just a game.

But something changed. I’ve been busy with the final edits of my book, training for American Ninja Warrior, and everything in between without getting time to blog. I cringe at this because I know it slows my site traffic. Nonetheless, I checked my traffic to see how bad it was.

I was shocked.

Traffic was good. Many new blog followers. How? Why?


Twitter followers were kind enough to visit. Kind enough to peruse my content. Kind enough to follow. I was back to loving Twitter again.

In business we use the term “gap analysis” to determine the reality between what is required and what is available. This can apply to many different places in industry, music and science. And writing…
For me, gap analysis happens when I read a favorite author. One whose work is polished and complete. One with the rhythm of words that I dance along to merrily. And then I read my work. For many years when I balanced the two against each other, my words tripped over themselves. There was no rhythm I could dance to. The idea was present, but it just didn’t shine.
Michelangelo said that a sculpture already lived within the stone he worked on, he merely removed the unneeded pieces.
A blank sheet of paper should represent the same thing.
But I persevered. I wrote. I learned. I asked questions. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend amazing conferences like ThrillerFest and ask my favorite author’s what they’ve done to help them ascend to such heights. Then I wrote some more. And more.
Now when I do gap analysis, the gap isn’t nearly as large. In fact, there are places and times when it sings just right. When characters feel like they’re in your living room, or better yet, when you’re with them in the middle of some heart thumping moment.
It’s taken a long time to get there. But I have a standard. I want desperately to add to the collective known as thriller fiction. One that has given me great thoughts and adventure. But I only want to add quality work. So I endeavor to only release something that is at my standard. Something that says to me “this is as good as it gets”. I don’t want to publish crap. In fact, the absolute danger in indie and self-publishing is the tidal wave of crap that gets put out there. It threatens to turn away readers from such a great medium.
I will not add trash to the junkyard. But I will add color to the landscape. I will add something that adds to the power of the genre I love.
Don’t get sucked in to adding trash. Add something that is better than the last good book you’ve read. We will all be better off because of it.

The Ancient Alaskan…

Posted: November 13, 2014 in Writing
Tags: , , ,

I just dig stories like this. For writers it can sound a little cliche. The northern ice melts, something scary is uncovered and suddenly there’s a problem.
But what I like about this story is that it’s real. Ancient infant remains found at a particularly well preserved burial site. Here’s where the writer in me comes out. What if the discovery also found an ancient relic or object that seems out of place or out of time? As if its symbol was tied to another culture on the other side of the planet and only showed up in history some several thousand years later?
What if we were able to extract DNA from this innocent child to find some new discovery in ourselves? What if it unleashed a terrible virus and no one in our time had immunity?
I know, this is not some super original idea. But I have this habit of having to tie everything back to something that actually could happen. I have always been a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy, but these days I need something a little more real. I need discoveries like this to keep it honest.
And who knows? Maybe the scientists did uncover something out of the ordinary and haven’t told us about it. Perhaps they’re already in the adventure of a lifetime. The Ancient Alaskan…
Check it out:
The Ancient Alaskan

Just had to share this story.
My Clark Kent impression of a day job is as a Sr. software engineer in the healthcare industry. A few years ago I was out of town at this huge and fantastic children’s hospital where we were deploying our product. At the time I was eagerly writing as much as I could, pounding away at the keyboard on my way to finishing my first 90K word novel Genetic Impulse.

I was in a Starbuck’s (yeah, inside the hospital – like I said, it was huge), and I overheard one of the executive administrator’s talking to the clerk. The lady behind the counter was asking him if he’d finish writing his book yet.
My ears perked up. Someone else writing? Awesome! I have to eavesdrop on this conversation.
The administrator replied “I haven’t actually finished it yet. Well, I haven’t actually started, but I do have all these ideas. And they’re going to be a smash. I can’t wait to be a successful writer and get out of this place.”
I almost choked from laughing. Really? He hadn’t written a word yet and here he was, ready to rub his colleagues noses in the fact that he was a writing super star. And he hadn’t written one word.

Here I was, scratching out time during the day, during the night, during lunch, wherever I could to continue getting better and more importantly, getting it done.

It is not an easy process. And as I’ve heard and learned, you have to love the process. You have to love writing. You have to love editing. You have to love networking and social media. You have to learn to take the bullets when someone doesn’t like or appreciate your effort. And if you do all that, you will have accomplished something the executive at the Starbuck’s probably never will. You’ll be a writer with a completed manuscript in your back pocket. And no one can take that away.

The takeaway? Don’t be that guy. Don’t be the smart mouth who never finished what he started. Or didn’t start. It’s taken me a while to get my daily groove on and light up the laptop screen with my best effort. So please, find your writing groove and don’t be that guy.

Ever have one of those days when you just need a writing prompt? Perhaps for a specific scene or entire book?
I stumbled upon this great collection of pre-made book covers – looking for a place to do the cover art for my next manuscript The Carrington Event. Looking at the fantastic art, it made me think of all sorts of new ideas, not just for new books, but even for individual scenes.
Now I’m certainly not saying you should steal any of these ideas, just use them to get a kick start for that next page. It’s amazing what a creative piece of art can do for your brain.
And who knows, you must just find a great company to do the cover art for your next book.
Check it out:
The Cover Collection

So how can I make parts of myself invisible with a do-it-yourself kit? Easy. Follow the link below. Researchers from the University of Rochester have made this trick simple. Perhaps they’ve just made some Magic secret public, but it sure is fascinating. It’s really a way of aligning several lenses to focus around an area and retrieve the background image unimpeded. But you have to see the pictures and video in the link. In this case the pictures and video are worth a thousand words.
Why do I share these scientific advances? Because in each one of them I find great uses for our writing. In this particular case, what if you built something like this to put in front of a security camera? Would it work? I don’t know for sure, but it would be an interesting and simple way to not be seen by the camera. You wouldn’t have to break into the facility and doctor the tape or put some loop in there to fool the ever-watchful guards.
It’s an easy way to make a cloaking device. I’m sure there are other, far more notorious ideas you could come up with on how to use a device like this. So think about it.
I like how these types of advances can be illuminated by our writing and get into the hands of those who not only like to read a good thriller, mystery or action novel, but actually pick up something on the way. And finding a way to turn invisible? Very cool.

Check it out:
Cloaking device