Thursday, November 25, 2010


Way, way behind with Nano this year. Had a bunch of issues that clobbered my free time. Although I won't get my 50k in time, I'm still working on the story.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nanowrimo Time Again

Yes, kiddies. It's that time of the year again: Nanowrimo. The time when everyone's a genius and writer's block is nonexistent. The Block cannot be, when you're writing drek at light speed. Somebody once said: "Ninety-nine percent of all writing is drek." And I'm proudly going to add mine to the pile. I'll drek to that!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Coming back from downtime

While happily researching, outlining and actually writing parts of the book, “Indian Summer” (working title), I got whacked upside the head with a killer cold and extra work at the day job. The worst is now over and I’m back working on the book.

During my forced downtime, a few more characters introduced themselves. And the Opposition also showed up. Having a great time making a literary mudpie of all this input. Let's hope it's edible when it finally comes out of the oven.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I'm still working...

The outline's coming alone. Been up to my ears in daily life,  but should be writing the first draft of the Western novel in the next week or two.

For now, it's back to research and notescribbling.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Road to Publication : more research

Still in the preliminary stages. Just trying to get an overview of the time period (1800-1870) in Oregon for the moment. Even so, I've found many good leads. I'm giving myself 2 more weeks before I start narrowing my choices.

Getting some great ideas from Internet research on Oregon and Portland. For example, there was an Army fort in Vancouver across the river from Portland. Lots of interesting stories could be set there. It will definitely play a part in my story.

Other interesting tidbits gathered from research: the British and American governments each claimed half of  the Oregon Country in the early 1800s,  the Hudson's Bay Company operated as far as Oregon, the almost unknown Snake War was the deadliest of the Indian wars, and much more.

 I'm also reading a selection of Western fiction by Louis L'Amour, Matt Braun, Larry McMurty, Elmer Kelton. Ten novels in all, plus non-fiction such as, Cowboy Lingo and Finding Pleasure in the Old West.  I won't even start my outline until I've at read and taken notes on all these books.

Of course, this isn't the only prepartation I've done. Probably been doing that most of my life. Read many of the classics: Shane, The Ox-Bow Incident, The Virginian, Zane Grey, etc. and have seen a ton of Westerns, from the silent era to Silverado and more.  I've also lived out West and have done a fair amount of travel there. (You haven't lived until you've been in Yuma, Arizona in August. Was 115 degrees the day I passed through. The asphalt was so hot and sticky, it tore a big chunk of tread from one of my tires). Plus, I can ride a horse Western style and have done lots of hiking and camping in the woods. Used to belong to a gun club, but unfortunately never got the chance to fire a Peacemaker or a Winchester rifle.

I'm no expert by a long shot (pun intended !), but with my little bit of experience, more research and a lot of imagination, I think I can write a credible Western. We'll see if an agent agrees down the line.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

First draft machine

Although I have a shiny, new iMac and Scrivener software, I'm doing the first draft on my typewriter. Computers are great for research, etc. but I just can't write fiction on one. A big advantage of a typewriter is that you can do only one thing: write.

(pictured: my Olympia SM3)


Started outlining/researching the next story. Basically switching back and forth from writing up spontaneous notes and dipping into research. I know the story's going to be a Western set in the Pacific Northwest. Will probably be centered around Portland, Oregon during the Civil War. Brainstormed a tentative premise, storyline and some characters, so far. I'll continue teasing out the story and characters with quick freewriting until I feel there's enough material to start chapter one.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Amateur to Pro

Decided to take my writing to the next level. Writing for fun is all nice and warm and fuzzy, but not very satisfying. At least for me. And the initial buzz of seeing a "book" on Lulu, was quickly replaced by near-depression due to poor or no sales.

So I've switched mental gears from hobbyist to pro writer.  From now on, I'm concentrating on creating novels I consider good enough to sell and then actually trying to sell them. That means querying agents, dealing with rejection and writing and writing until I'm either hip deep in manuscripts or I start selling. Goodbye, comfort zone. . .

Sunday, April 25, 2010

And the Winnah is. . .Me!

Completed the Script Frenzy challenge yesterday afternoon, thanks to my trusty Mac computer and the incredible Scrivener software.  I also would like to thank James Cameron, whose wonderful film inspired me to write a fanfiction sequel.

So what's next? Well, the script isn't completed and will never be. It was just a fun exercise in writing discipline. The unfinished script will now take up permanent residence on my backup hard drive, lost in the mist of time.

As for me, I have a date with The Next Novel in May. Planning is already underway. This one's for real. This is the manuscript I'm going to be writing queries for and shopping around to agents come September, 2010.

But for now, it's Miller Time. . .time to relax.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Script Frenzy : Midpoint

According to Blake Synder in Save The Cat!, midpoint starts on page 55 of the script. I'm on page 59, so I'm actually a teensy bit ahead of schedule. Midpoint is "either an up where the hero seemingly peaks. . .or a down when the world collapses all around the hero." *

My midpoint feels like an "up".  Not storywise, though. Even though I'm not actually at the middle of the story in the script, the process is continuing normally. That's the "up".  Also having fun writing scenes in and out of order. These are the fun "candy bar" scenes I want to write first.

So I've written the opening. I know the end.  I guess what I'm writing now is mostly Act II stuff, or Fun and Games as STC puts it. Anyway, I'm getting my quota done. Should be no problem finishing on or before schedule. Except, of course, it's hell getting myself to write sometimes. If this were a "real" script I could sell, maybe I'd be writing up a storm. As it is, I'm barely getting my quota done. On the other hand, I'm doing this mainly as a way to force train myself to write every day before tackling The Next Novel in May.

Mr. Writer Machine lurches on. . .

* STC - p. 82 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Script Frenzy, Scrivener and Mac Love

Already two weeks into Script Frenzy. Quite a different feel from Nanowrimo. Where Nano is a gonzo, full speed ahead free-for-all, SF is actually sedate. While doing Nano, the story is just words, and a blur. But so far, my script is playing out like a movie in my mind.

I only did a quick outline to prepare for this year's Script Frenzy. I'm brainstorming as the writing progresses. Actually ahead of my daily quota. The work feels quite easy. Granted, I’m not under the pressure of writing a spec script for money. This is only for my personal fun. Still, writing is writing. It’s work. And the work is made much easier with the proper tools, such as Scrivener.

Scrivener is a piece of innovative software for managing writing projects, designed by a mad genius in old Britannia.  It’s Mac-only and does, well. . .everything.  Scrivener is brilliant. It does all things (and more) a writer could possibly ever need, except do the actual writing. This software is so good that many have bought their Macs just to use Scrivener. I'd been mostly sold on the Mac for years, but it was Scrivener that made me finally get off the fence. . .and into Mac Heaven.

What can I say about the Mac? How do I love thee, let me count the ways? First and foremost, it’s not Windows. I have nothing personal against Bill Gates and his Evil Empire. I don’t really think he’s the Devil Incarnate, but his ill-conceived spawn, Windows, just might be.

How can I (honestly) compare the Windows abortion to a Mac? Comparing a brain damaged, rabid chimp to Einstein would be the proper analogy. In the final analysis, there just is no comparison. Windows is not even in the same universe as the Mac. Working with the Mac is seamless and invisible. The machine lets me work or play--alone. It gets out of my way and stays away. But comes trotting back when I call.

On the other hand,  Windows is a constant struggle. It’s like a creaky, cranky, wheedling, threatening old granny. It can (and does) crash without notice, among many other highly disagreeable things. I’m not even going to get into the virus, malware and spyware issue. Windows suffers from them all. It is sick and infected from stem to stern. It's rotten, malicious, stupid, bloated, sly, wasteful and the Evil of the Age. I dislike it. I fart in its general direction. . .

However, by reason of superior design, the Mac is immune (so far) to whatever plagues the Windows OS. The machine from Cupertino also has superior esthetic design, superior materials, superior technical support. It’s downright superior to Windows and PCs all across the board. No hassle, no hair-pulling, no problem. The Mac just works. Beautifully.

To all Windows users/sufferers:
My low opinion of Windoze does not, in any way, shape or form include those required to use it. You have my deepest sympathy. It is the sin I condemn, not the sinner. However, I won't pretend to understand those who actually like Windows.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Script Frenzy Returns

With my new iMac and wonderful writing programs, I hit the ground running this year. Since I don't really know my way around Scrivener yet, I'm using Celtx to write the script. Scrivener is taking care of notes and outlining. It's a fabulous program, but it's going to take a little time before I can use it comfortably. Unfortunately, between work, other obligations and writing a hundred-page script in a month, I'll have to stick with Scrivener's basic functions. At least until Script Frenzy blows over.

The Future is Now

I know I was going to wait. But I couldn't. Script Frenzy was starting soon. Also had other projects I'm working on. So I took the plunge. I ordered a Mac this past Wednesday morning. The machine arrived on Friday morning. Free shipping, even. A class act.

Took me about fifteen minutes to get the Mac up and running. Configuring my Internet connection took about five minutes (!!). Yikes! That had never happened in all my 25 years in PC hell.

Short story even shorter: got pretty much up to speed the first day. Like rolling off a log. In fact, it's taking me longer to learn Scrivener, Celtx and NeoOffice than it did to get the basics of the Mac into my head. Getting easier every day.

Am I satisfied? No. Ecstatic, flabbergasted, amazed, amused, relieved and redeemed, YES. Do I miss my old PC habits? Was I more comfortable with Windows?

What's Windows?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Mac is in my future

I've wanted a Mac computer ever since the first one came out in 1984. What style! What panache! What an inflated price tag! Imagine clicking on icons, instead of typing in command lines on a Windows DOS black screen. And no OS to load with floppy disks. It was already burned into the hardware. A science fiction utopia!

The first MacIntosh only had a tiny black and white screen and rather prmitive by 21st century standards. But primitve as it was, it was nonetheless light years ahead of the fledgling Windows environment. And outrageously expensive. Not that the Mac is dirt cheap nowadays. It was never meant to be.

It was meant to be a super user-friendly machine that just works. And that's exactly what it does. No PC viruses, no blue screen, no crashes, no BS. It is more expensive than a PC but the difference is worth it. But when you consider what you'd have to pay for a PC to get the equivalent power, software and security (maybe), there's hardly any price difference at all.

But price wasn't the only consideration for me. It was the OS itself, the apps and the sheer beauty of design. I've been studying the software offerings for the Mac and I'm more than impressed. Especially software for writers. Scrivener stands head and shoulders above any Windows writing app I've ever seen. The NeoOffice productivity suite looks great, too. In addition, it's open source and free.

My reasons for making the switch from PC Hell to Mac Haven are legion. So it's goodbye Billy, hello Stevie before the end of this year, either for a birthday present or a Christmas present to myself. Either way, the Mac will be mine.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Script Frenzy 2010 : Avatar 2, The Renegade

April is right around the corner and  Script Frenzy is about to begin, which means writing a hundred page movie script in 30 days. I'm up for it. In the few years I've signed up for SF, I've have yet to finish a script. This year will be different, I hope.

Been in fanboy mode since seeing Avatar 3 times. Bought an 'Ivong Na'vi ** t-shirt from Learn Na'vi and am even learning the Na'vi language. Call me a geek if you will, I can live with it.

Without further doo-doo, here's the bare bones synopsis of this year's opus.

Title: Avatar 2: The Renegade
Tagline: Old soldiers never die...
Logline: Col. Quaritch launches a one-man war to destroy the Tree of Souls and the Na'vi.

It's 6 years later and Col. Quaritch is an avatar body! He wants to finish the job of neutralizing the Na'vi, plus taking revenge on Neytiri for those 2 arrows in the chest. He also wants to Jake dead on general principles. This may prove to be difficult, since Jake has since become jakesully, leader of the Omaticaya clan and has his own royal guard.

Jake naturally opposes Quaritch, but also has other problems. Several disgruntled followers of Tsu'tey blame Jake for his death, plus the fact that he is "uniltìranyu" (avatar) and has no right to be "eyktan" (tribe leader). Jake and Neytiri now have 2 kids, a boy and a girl : Fromìk, 4 and Tawyane, 5 (anthropological trivia: Fromìk has 4 fingers and Tawyane, 5 ). Because Neytiri is the wife of  a "five-finger", she also encounters problems with racism/jealousy from some  within the tribe which will ultimately endanger her life. Both kids also get into trouble, like all 6-foot tall children . Grace will be reunited with her avatar body. Jake couldn't bear her loss and has kept her avatar in stasis, just in case. And it just so happens the time is ripe to wake Grace up.

There will be plenty of action, drama, love, pathos, bathos and the inevitable Final Confrontation, as well as the inevitable Predictable Ending. Unfortunately (or fortunately) once I finish the script, I can't do anything with it or I risk my skin with a legion of studio lawyers. So I'll print out and bind a nice copy before lovingly sticking the thing in a closet for my future biographers to find in 50 years or so. 

** Let Na'vi Bloom!

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