Thursday, December 29, 2016

Flash Fiction # 231 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 15: Lost




(Previous)

I woke up very, very cold.

Snow lay all around me.  I had landed on my back and hit my head.  I wanted to curse as I sat up --

And then I laid back down and stayed very still.  I was on a very narrow ledge with a precariously long drop down.  Tall pines looked like toys beneath me, catching just a glint of silvery water in the moonlight.  So far down that my heart pounded with fear just looking at it.  If I had fallen that far, I would have died.  I had no doubt about it.

I slowly turned my head and to my left, afraid that any sudden move would send me tumbling.  I found a cliff that looked as shear as ice at first glance.   I was trapped on a ledge so small that my legs nearly dropped off the far end.  I was going to die --

No.

I took better control of my emotions.  My head hurt, but I must have mostly landed on snow and not rock.  I ached, but nothing felt broken as I slowly, carefully pulled my legs upward as I sat up again.  I had a little space here, and I took deep breaths.  Calm.  I had to think my way out of this mess.  I had to get back to the others.

My choices were to go up or down.  Down looked easier -- I could see a line of fallen rock I thought I could reach without too much scrambling over the cliff face.  It looked treacherous, but I might make it all the way down --

But was down the way I wanted to go? Down to the bottom of the mountains only to have to climb back up again?  The weather didn't look any better down there.

No.  I needed to go upward and find the train track, and then follow it. The others would notice I was gone at some point.  And even if they didn't, I could maybe catch another train and at least follow them to the other side of the mountain.  As long as I didn't freeze first.

I suddenly realized that I didn't really feel as though I were freezing.    Apparently, some natural magic had kicked in to save my life.  I had an odd feeling it might have been what kept me from falling all the way, too.  I had always thought of magic as something used to help others -- the idea that it worked for me was an interesting revelation.  Would it help me get back to the others?

Could I use it to go up the cliff?

Then I thought about how I had ended up in this mess.  Had Alsia pushed me off?  I suspected so, and that meant the others were in danger from her.  I needed to get to them, warn them --

I started climbing up the cliff.  The work wasn't so hard as I had expected, though I had a persistent ache in his right shoulder and a headache that grew worse the higher I climbed.  By the time I had reached the level with the tracks, I wasn't confident I could pull myself up.

Stupid to have gotten this far just to fall again.  So I scrambled up over the edge and stood -- and sat down again because I was a bit dizzy.  It passed, though.  I felt colder, but eventually, that passed as well.  I started walking, heading the way the train had been going.  Upward, onward. 

The absolute stillness of the area was overwhelming.  I would have thought unnatural -- but really this was the most natural state I had ever seen.  This was the world without man interfering.  Movement caught my eye, and an owl swooped silently through the trees; if she found anything for dinner, it went silently to its death as well.  I strained to hear the sound of the train, but it could have been hours ago when it passed.  I had no way to know.

Alone.

Though not completely.  I had started walking up the train track.  Deer sometimes moved in the nearby trees, at first startling me, but soon welcome companions.  Not alone after all.  I would have liked to walk with some of my friends who knew enough about magic to keep me -- and them -- safe.  I was doing alright so far. Some of the magic that had been crammed into me back in Elsewhere was getting a chance to come to the surface, I thought.  I hoped so.  I was going to need more magic, wasn't I?  Not only to survive but also to face the enemy.

Had Alsia managed to toss off any of my other friends?  I kept an eye open, trudging up the mountainside, then through a long dark tunnel that bothered me more than I liked to admit.

I was finally too tired to go on.  I moved to the edge of the trees, found a spot that had been blown clear of snow and curled up at the base of an enormous old pine.  I was almost immediately asleep, too.

Though I supposed I would run out of magic.  So maybe I better wake up and get going --

I awoke to a major snow storm.

Was I paranoid to think it had been directed straight at me?  I sat there watching the snow pile up all around and considered everything that had happened since I was forced to run for Elsewhere.

No, this wasn't paranoia.  My life had been like this lately, and the idea that nature had been turned against me was not something I even took much by surprise.  Things had been going this way for quite a while.

The storm meant I had to use more magic.  I could feel it starting to slip out of me.  White stood on every side.  I was alone, and I was not going to survive.


To Be Continued....


995 words

Monday, December 26, 2016

What's Next?



Yes, I do have a new book release.  This is the last one of the year!  I really hadn't been certain I could get this one done in time, but the previous rewrite had fixed a lot of problems in it, so this edit went very well.

Whispers of Winterwood:

 Four years ago at the age of 18, Derek Lee Stuart went to prison for a robbery he didn't commit. The last thing he wanted to do was return to Winterwood -- but when his grandmother asks him to visit for the holidays, he can't say no to the one person who still believed in him.

Unfortunately, everything from a snow storm to another robbery seems to be against him. The quiet visit with his grandmother is turning into a nightmare.

Smashwords Promotional price: $0.99
Coupon Code: JU95Z (apply at checkout)
Expires: January 6, 2017

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/691492

Amazon (full price) link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N0TNTQZ

I hope you enjoy it!

I want to end 2016 with some nice thoughts since there was so much that was not pleasant about the year for a lot of people.  Writers, in some ways, have it better.  We can escape into a different world and make that world what we want, but we'll still have to come out now and then and deal with the real world.

The one thing that will always keep me happy is the writing side of life.  That's kind of obvious -- look at the title of the blog.  If you don't want to read about someone who truly enjoys writing, this is probably not the spot for you.

I remember once seeing someone berate another because the second person had said they were celebrating having completed a novel.  The person doing the complaining was a pretentious elitist (these days he'd just be a troll), who complained about how the lesser beings were ruining the world of writing.  Paraphrased, of course -- but it was obvious how he felt about anyone who took pleasure in writing. 

Unfortunately, there are still far too many of these people around: Don't do NaNo, don't celebrate finishing a novel, don't say you're an author until I give you the right to say so.

There is a part of this that they don't get.

We don't need them.

You need never listen to these people, no matter who they are.  Friends, family, people on the Internet -- it doesn't matter.  They are not you, they are not writing your book, and they do not have a right to tell you to stop or that you can't enjoy what you are doing.  You might never become a big selling author.  I certainly am not one.    That doesn't mean you can't enjoy creating something that is born of your mind.  Go at it.  Have fun.

That's my last lecture for the year.

There are still a few days left in 2016, but the majority of my big projects are done.  I have one outline to finish and I'm going to write several of the Saving Everywhere flash fiction serials and have them ready to post in 2017.  I can say that my total word count is over one million words and will probably end close to 1,100,000 words.

I wrote 5 new novels and rewrote 8 others, plus did editing on most of the rewrites.  I published 7 new ebooks and 4 print versions. That's a lot of editing and formatting!

Every year I try to do one experiment in writing.  This year my experiment was to write, edit, and publish a novel all in one year.  I generally like to leave work for several months before I do a first edit, and then I might let it sit for far longer before another one.  Some novels wait for years in the queue.  My last published novel, Whispers of Winterwood, was written in 2002.

This year, though, I wrote, edited and published Raventower and Merriweather 1: Secrets.  I enjoyed it so much that I wrote a second book in the series during NaNo and I hope to have it out in early 2017.

I do not have much planned for 2017.  I am going to start out the year with a new novel, of course.  I always start one on January 1.  This year's first book is titled The Journey of a Thousand Truths (the title might change) and it is going to be a fun, epic fantasy.  I am not outlining the story.  I want to see how far I can go with just tarot cards and an old gaming system (Thieves' World) that I dug out a while back.  Lots of locations, characters, and maps that I can play with and see how it goes.  If the story gets bogged down, I'll outline at least some of it.

Beyond that?  I have one outline still on hand.  I would like to write the 3rd Raventower and Merriweather book if I can get the second edited and ready for release.  I'm trying not to tie myself down with too many goals.  Let the year flow.

I want to get back to reading more history again, too.  I have been stalled on the Cambridge Ancient History -- not for any good reason, just because I haven't happened to pick it up.  That's going to change.  I'm also reading a wonderful Time-Life series out of the 80's about American Wilderness areas.  If you want to learn about a particular type of setting, pick up books like this at library book sales.  There is a lot of great stuff for descriptions, as well as explanations about why things are the way they are.  I'm reading the one on The Great Divide right now, but I've already read seven or eight others. They're short and they're well-written.  The photography is nice as well.

This year I started going through some of The Great Courses.  We do the $20 a month subscription.  I've done 3 geology sets (I'm fascinated by it), a wonderful history of India, one art course, a short astronomy class, an archeology course, an ancient near east history course, and a wonderful one on Alexander the Great.  Next year I hope to spread out a little into music and literature, but history and science will still be the things that most often draw me.

Oh, and I might as well add photography stuff in here.  I have posted a picture a day for about ten years now.  The picture is always posted on the day I take it and I have not missed a day in all those years.  Some days even got more than one photo.  If I was away from home for a couple days, I would still post pictures from the day they were taken.

http://zettepicaday.blogspot.com/

I always have my camera with me.  So I expect to still be doing the blog for year 11.  I also hope to do more with my photo studio equipment this year.  I want to play with graphic programs, too. 

So there.  I have a few little goals and not all of them are about writing.

Maybe I need some 'clean house' goals?

Nah. What fun is that?

Happy holidays, everyone!  See you next year!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Flash Fiction # 230 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 14: Trap



(Previous)

They pulled into the train yard, slowed -- too quiet, I thought, but with all the noise around them, it probably didn't matter.  Engines roared, signals whistled, train cars clanked and bounced together.

And over it all, I could feel the tingle of magic that did not come from us.  Maggie glanced my way and shook her head.  Whatever was out there, none of us could actually feel what or where it was.

"It was interested in us, but so far not much more than that," Tom said.  He frowned, though, which was not a sight I liked to see in an Elder Fae with his power.  I'd come to see what he could do, just in this pretend train.  He looked bothered, but not worn, by the amount of magic he'd used so far.    He was a good ally to have if we could just get to the war.

The train continued to inch forward.  I thought a few people looked our way sometimes, but then I noticed Maggie move her hand -- and the people would look elsewhere.  I suspected they forgot that we were not supposed to be there.  Or maybe they just forgot that we existed. 

"I need to learn more magic," I said, mostly to myself.

Edmond, who was sitting up by the windows, turned back and gave a decisive nod.

And a sudden explosion of magic surrounded them, the entire train glowing brightly for one blink of the eye --

"Oh hell," Maggie mumbled.

Something exploded ahead and off to the left.  A moment later a surge of soldiers rushed the tracks and I knew we were about to be attacked --

Only we weren't.  The soldiers surge straight out in front of us and kept going towards the explosion.  I was watching with some shock -- so were the others -- when a tall woman in a cloak following behind the soldiers slipped up the steps and into the train engine with us.

"They had a trap set for anything magical coming this way," she said. Her voice was deep and husky, and I thought magic came even with her words.  "I set it off.  We go now or we stay here."

Tom looked for a long moment at her -- I could see distrust in his face, but on the other hand, the soldiers probably would have caught us if the trap had gone off.  He gave a nod and set the engine moving a bit faster.  We had still been inching along but now the whistle blew (Edmond hated that part) and the engine roared and we moved past the group of soldiers who seemed to think they had something caught in a magical field."

"What is going on?" Tom demanded.  I stepped aside.  I didn't like to see Tom mad and I didn't like the feel of odd magic coming from this woman.

"I set up that trap," she said.  "I was only waiting for something to come along and get me out of they.  They believe they have me under their control.  I didn't have a way to get out on my own.  We must move fast before they realize I'm gone."

I could barely see her face beneath the cloak, but she did look pensive.  Was that because she worried about being caught again or because she feared we would not believe her?  I supposed it might have been both.

"I am Alsia,"  the woman said with a nod.  We were nearly to the edge of the train yard, though the town still stretched out around us.  "Why are you traveling like this?"

I left the whole story to Tom and moved over by Maggie. She had a frown as well.  I wanted to ask questions about our new guest, but I wasn't certain Maggie would know and besides I had an odd feeling that I shouldn't give way how little I did know about anything.

The trouble stayed behind us, though.  She had done us some good, I thought.  The soldiers had been there, waiting.  Even without the magical trap, we might have drawn attention.  I tried to think well of her, but the look Maggie gave the woman did not help.

Nor did the words I heard from her after Tom's tale.

"It would be easier and wiser to simply leave this reality," she said with a wave of her hand.  "I don't see why you would fight for such a dismal place."

"Leave this reality to Darman and Potilia?" Tom replied with one elegant eyebrow raised.  "That is not a wise idea, Alsia.  You know that this world is laden with magic.  How would we stop them from taking Elsewhere?  Darman will not be happy until he has everything, and Potilia is no better."

"I am going to go talk with the others and let them know all is safe," Maggie said.  Tom nodded.

I said nothing, but I followed her through the door that led to the rest of our train.  Edmond came as well, and I wondered if we should leave Tom.

"He'll be fine," Maggie said.  "I needed to get away from her.  There's something odd there."
"I know.  But I can't decide if it's bad or just strange."

Maggie agreed.  So we went back through the train, talking to others and calming everyone.  I spent some time with a group of nons in one car. They were fascinated as we started the long climb up the mountains and we sat looking out the windows.  I thought wild creatures must be drawn to the magic.  I saw deer, elk, and even bears and wolves. That could not be natural.

Snow soon covered the ground.  We'd be heading down the other side tomorrow, I guessed -- and it wouldn't be hard to cross the flatlands and head for the east.  Good.

I started back to the engine --

And between one car and the next, something caught hold of me and threw me off the train.


To Be Continued....

998 words

Monday, December 19, 2016

Goals, Part 3


Okay, so (if you read the last post in this series) you know that there are going to be things that stop you from writing despite having goals.  It happens. Eventually, you will find your way around obstacles and find the right time (and place -- that can be important, too) that will allow you to concentrate on your story.

There is, however, one more aspect of setting goals that can make pursuing them difficult for you -- and that's setting the goal too high.  When you set a high goal and rarely, if ever,  make them, then you lose that spark to go on.  Losing all the time is no fun. So it is far better to set a low goal and exceed it. When you start exceeding it all the time, set a higher goal.  Make this fun, not frustrating.

Writing every day takes practice.  Like a marathon race, you don't start out the first time by running twenty miles; you work up gradually to the longer distance so that your body prepares for it.  That's what you need to do with daily writing goals.  Start with a low goal.  When I first decided to write every day, I began with a goal of 250 words.  Once it became easy to write those words I automatically started to do more.  Now I average about 3k a day and have for several years.  I have not missed a day in about three decades.  Do you need to be that obsessed with writing?  Probably not -- but it has allowed me to write over 100 novels and to publish about 40 of them.  If you really want to be the kind of author who makes at least some income from writing, then you had better start planning now to produce more than that one dream book you've had in your head for years.

So, start with a low word count and build up to more writing.  You'll be surprised at how easy this becomes once you get used to sitting down and letting the words flow.

Also, most people don't do well if they set a time goal instead of a word count or page count goal.  It is easy to waste time and have little or nothing to show for it.  If you need to do research, take notes and count those words as part of your daily total.  Building story background and character creation are just as important as writing the novel -- as long as you don't use it as a perpetual excuse not to write.  Outlines?  You can if they help you.  Sometimes just a line per chapter or scene will keep you moving forward and jotting them down is certainly part of the writing process for a lot of people.  I like to add bits of scenery and dialog that occurs to me when I first see a scene.  Sometimes it doesn't end up in the finished story, but it also gives me a feel for what I imagined there.

Also, do your best to focus on one project.  Bouncing all over the place with dozens of stories is not going to help you.   If you are working on more than one project, there is a trick that can help you make sure you make progress on at least one project.  Choose something you are working on and designate it as your main project.  You have to write x number of words (or pages) on it before you can work on anything else.  No cheating and changing 'main project' status to others, either.  If you want to be a successful author it is important to learn how to focus on the story.

Even if you keep the goal numbers low for the main project, you will still keep making forward progress on it and still get to play with other ideas.  This is a crucial part of being an author.  Learning how to focus on finishing work will help you far more than simply writing a lot of words on random stories every day.  Whether you want to be a traditionally published writer or go the indie route, you will have to finish work.  Indie authors have more leeway in how often they publish, but if you wait too long between works, you have to start all over in winning readers, and those are hard to get for indie authors.   Traditionally published authors have to deal with contracts and deadlines and your agent and publisher are not going to want to hear how a new shiny took your attention.   Obviously, a lot of this depends on you.  You have to make the decision to do the writing and stick to it.  If you make the goals small, you'll have a far better chance of getting into the habit of writing.

In the end, goals are about learning to focus so that you achieve something.  Writing x number of words a day doesn't really help you if those words don't eventually add up to completed stories.  Start by learning to write regularly and then turn that new found skill to finishing things.

How much to write?

250 x 365 (days) = 91,250
250 x 5 (days) x 52 (weeks) = 65,000

The second set of numbers allows you to have the weekends off if you want -- or to take the equivalent off for holidays and other days if you do well writing on weekends. If you double those numbers, you can probably write at least two new novels a year, just by writing 500 words a day. I write every day, but I do so because I love to write and I don't see any reason not to do something I really love.  I have a lot of stories I still want to tell.  In 2016 I wrote 5 new novels and rewrote and edited 8 others.  I also write a flash fiction story for every Friday.

There will come a time when you have finished material that needs to be edited.  Some people find this a horrible, terrible, despicable (etc.) job.  I am not one of those people.  Editing is just another part of the writing process and a lovely gift for authors.  You don't have to write the perfect story the first time through.  In fact, don't even pretend that you will. The sooner you realize that editing is not evil, the more freedom you will have in the first draft phase.  Letting your writing flow is an excellent way to find your unique voice and allow you to find those serendipitous connections that can make the story unique.

Some people just get bored with editing, though.  So here's where that main project idea works again.  This time, make a goal of editing X number of pages before you can write something.  Four or Five pages is a good number, though you might want to start lower than that amount.  A chapter at a time is even better if you can get to where editing flows. Don't rush into editing, though.  There is no race to get the work done.  Steady progress will get you there, as long as you stick to your goals.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Flash Fiction # 229 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 13: Journey




(Previous)

I didn't like to walk through the desert at night.  It was cold and the sand pulled at my feet.   Rocks, which I rarely saw in time, appeared out of nowhere so that I tripped and stubbed my toes at least once every mile.  It didn't help to watch Edmond dancing along ahead of me, tail up and happy.

Though I was glad to see him and my other companions.  I just wished we could have met at a coffee shop or something.  I was pretty much ready to give up on adventures.
"There's the train track!" Maggie shouted and pointed. 

The others gave ragged cries of pleasure and they didn't sound any more happy about the walk than me.  I supposed, looking around at everyone, that we'd all had a long journey to get here.

Tom took charge of getting the 'train' in order on the tracks.  I was still frowning and thinking this could never work when he suddenly waved his hands and the wood and cardboard suddenly looked so real, I leapt back in surprise.

"Not going to be easy to keep this up," Tom admitted when he came back to stand by me.  "We imbued each piece with some magic, which will help, but the larger illusion will take a great deal of power to make it seem real.  We'll have to find places to stop and rest for a few hours sometimes.  Even so, we should make good time."

"That's impressive," I admitted.

"I couldn't do it alone," he said.  "It takes the magic of all the others working on their little pieces to keep something like this going."

"But not anything from me."

"Or Maggie, Davis, Lord Snow or Edmond," Tom said with a nod to the others who had come closer.  "You came too late to work into the system we'd already created.  That's okay.  You already work as a team on your own, and you'll be there if we need you."

I nodded and let him get back to work.  Dawn had brought a thin layer of gray light across the scenery.  As much as I had hated walking through the area at night, I knew I didn't want to be out here during the day, either.  I helped get the last of the nons on the train -- they trusted me, I thought.  I wasn't used to that reaction yet.

"I'm going to the engine," Maggie said.  "I want to see how they power this thing.  I don't know much about this kind of magic, and it might be important to learn as quickly as possible."
"Not the kind of stuff you can just shove into someone's head?" I asked.

She winced, remembering how I had learned what little magic I did have.  I really did want to know the answer, though.

"That only worked because you didn't know anything at all," she admitted.  "This higher stuff is harder to learn."

I nodded and followed her.  We were just about ready to go.  Lord Snow stayed with the nons but Edmond came with me.  I had the feeling he was not going to let me out of his sight for a while.

"Even with the rests, this shouldn't take us more than two days to get back to the gate," Tom said.  He looked out the window and gave a nod.  Then with a wave of his hand, we started moving.  Silent -- far too silent, in fact.

"We need noise to pull this off," Maggie said before I could.

"We'll have it when we need it," Tom assured us.  "Right now we need to get clear of the area with as little notice as possible.  I had hoped we would be gone before the dawn."

At least we were moving and heading vaguely east, as well.

"Why haven't you left the camp before now?" I finally asked.

"Until you came, we didn't have enough information," he admitted.  "The mountains blocked what we could learn just as it blocked anyone with power learning what we did.  But you brought us information.  I had not known about Darman, though knowing the name makes sense of a number of other matters.  Potilia is another matter.  She'd disappeared some time ago and to have her return in this situation does not bode well for Elsewhere.  Or for this realm, of course."

I nodded.  I wasn't surprised he was more concerned for Elsewhere than for the human world.  It was normal; after all, I was more concerned for the human world than for Elsewhere, to be honest.  We both wanted to protect our homes.

Except that I would not fit here any longer, I supposed.  That came as a sudden shock.  I looked at Maggie with her metal wings, and still carrying the staff that made her a messenger.  She couldn't go home, either.  I wasn't certain if Edmond had come from the human world or Elsewhere to begin with, but he had wings now, too.  He wasn't going to go back.

I had planned to leave home after graduation anyway.  I could go to Elsewhere.  I realized that it gave me a purpose, being a Protector.  Once we were done with this madness....

I could hope for something better.

The sun was full up before we had to slow for a town. We'd gone through a couple small places, just rushing through with a squeal of noise that seemed deafening after the silence.  Now, though we had to slow like other trains.  We were not on the schedule here and someone was bound to wonder --

But before that could happen, I realized we had a far different problem.

Magic.

"What --" I started to say.

Tom shook his head and lifted both hands.  We started to move faster, and I thought that might not be wise.  But --

"Someone is scanning us," Maggie said. She had a hand lifted as well.  "And it doesn't feel friendly, either."

"I think we're in trouble," Tom said.

What a surprise.

To Be Continued....

1000 Words

Monday, December 12, 2016

Goals, Part 2 -- And new release!


Before we get into things you need to consider for creating a set of goals  -- I have a new book release!

The newest fae lord has to hold the Winter Court.
What could possibly go wrong?

Ancient Assyrian Gods
Massive Snow Storms
Irate Drug Lords
Inquisitive FBI Agents
Determined Fae Assassins
Holiday Family Gatherings

Winter Warning is the third of the fun Summerfield books. There is a lot going on in this one!


https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/689010

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N5EHOSY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1481583620&sr=1-1


Now, about goals and what can stop you from succeeding at them.

First, there are two things to realize about what I write here.  First is that this is what has worked for me.  It may not work for you.  We are not the same.  However, sometimes people find bits and pieces in what I do that help them.

So what will stop people from reaching the goals they set for writing?

Well, yes, there is procrastination.  Some people seem to embrace procrastination as a way of life and if you are that kind of person, you might as well glory in it and not worry about getting anything done that does not absolutely have to be completed.  Writing, until you have a career in it, is one of those things. Write your paragraph or two every few days and call it good.

If, however, you want to write more than you want to do other things, but you can't seem to settle down to it, then fitting writing into your life as a regularly scheduled event will help.

Before you decide you are going to write X number of words a day, here are a few things to think about:

What are you doing to give up to do it?  An hour of television?  Some knitting time?  Facebook and texting time?  Sleep?  I know many people who get up an hour earlier than the rest of the family just to have the free -- and quiet -- time to work.  You already have something you do with all your time.  Something will have to give. 

You might be one of the people who can easily set a little time aside.  If you are one of those people, count yourself very lucky.  Others will have a more difficult time.

Things you cannot give up to make time for writing:

Family obligations

Job or school related activities

In fact, the moment you decide that writing is what you want to do, either family, job, or school (if not all of them) will demand more of your time.  There seems to be some unspoken universal law that says if you want to do any sort of art, then obstacles must suddenly appear in your path.  Don't take it personally.  It happens to everyone.  At some point you may simply have to put your foot down and demand an hour of your own time.  Everyone deserves a little time to themselves to do what they want.  I'll be honest -- quite often family will not understand that writing is important to you.  They'll tell you that you're wasting your time and that you should be doing something else (usually for them).  Stand up for your rights.  And if they insist, start pointing out the things they do for themselves that they have to give up to be fair.

What else can stop you?

Having no idea what to write.  This isn't because the Muse hasn't gifted you with a story.  You can find a story anywhere if you are open to it. (See Note Below) The problem more often comes from a fear that the words will not be good enough if you start writing.  You don't want to 'waste' the idea and ruin it. 

You cannot ruin it.  You can write it, see where you need to improve, and write it again.  No art is perfected without practice, and quite honestly if you are going to practice writing it ought to be on a story you really want to write. Also remember that this isn't school work -- you aren't going to be graded on the manuscript, and you aren't going to be forced to let someone else read it before you are ready.

Still not certain what to write?  Try free-writing.  Sit down and start something like this:

Today I would like to write a story about....

And let your brain go wild.  Keep the notes because every now and then you'll chance on something perfect, though you may not know it at the time.  Write bits of dialog if you 'hear them' in your head.  Description of places and people.  Maybe notes of things you've seen that day that intrigued you.  Notes about things you liked in books.  Write it all out just to get used to the idea of writing.

Next week I'll talk about how much writing you should do each day (or five days a week) and how to handle multiple projects.

NOTE:
This was something that happened back in May, 2004:

At Barnes and Noble last night I picked up one of their discount books -- Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Greek and Roman Women by Marjorie and Benjamin Lightman, Checkmark Books, ISBN 0-8160-4436-8.

While driving home I read this part to Russ:

Egnatia Maximilla, the wealthy wife of Glitius Gallus, accompanied her husband into exile after he was implicated in a failed conspiracy to assassinate the emperor Nero. She and her husband settle don’t he island of Andros in the Aegean Sea.  An inscription found on the island indicates that they were held in high esteem by the island community despite the fact that her wealth had been confiscated.

I turned to Russ and said, "You know I love stuff like that. There's an entire novel in that paragraph."

"Ha!  You can get a novel out of anything."  He waved toward a sign we were passing.  "You could get one out of that 'Children Present' sign.  Or the 'Speed Limit 35.'  I dread to think what would happen if you added that 'Blind Driveway' sign in."

Half a block later...

"It's a trilogy," I said.  "About someone's life.  Children Present is about his childhood, Speed Limit 35 is about his middle age, and Blind Driveway is about his old age."

I think if Russ hadn't been driving he would have hit me over the head with something!

(You can get ideas from anything!)

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Flash Fiction # 228 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 12: Escape








We made an odd procession as we left the camp at midnight, lines and groups heading out the gate and into the desert.  None of the guards were up in the watch towers.  Both nons and the others were mingling now, so that last worry finally disappeared.
Several people were carrying out pieces of what would be boxcars when we got to a rail line.  Last of all came the image of an engine.  I watched it go by in disbelief, trying to imagine how it would be real enough to fool others.  I'd never known that kind of magic in my short association with Elsewhere.
I'd never known anyone like Tom, either.  He radiated magic now that he was in his true form.  Far more than Lord Cayman or Darman had done.  I wondered if this was even his true form, though the others accepted it. 
Honestly, I didn't care.  I was just glad that we were on our way to help others.  I didn't like the thought of Lord Cayman out there on his own.  I really disliked the idea of humanity moving against us because they were too blind to see the difference between Cayman and Darman.  I knew that was going to make things difficult.
But we were moving.  Lord Snow darted forward and nearly knocked me down in his enthusiasm to see me.  Edmond flew overhead and landed -- badly -- nearby.  He muttered a curse and folded his wings, apparently deciding to walk for a while.
The night felt cold but I don't think any of us cared.  I looked back at the camp and wondered how long some of the prisoners had been there.  I wondered what would happen when humans realized we were gone.  They'd come looking by morning, I feared.
I said so to Maggie when she came to walk with the cats and me.
"The humans there are all under sleep spells," she said with a glance back.  "Those will hold until at least noon and maybe longer.  As soon as everyone is out of the camp, I'm going to bring up a wind that will hid or tracks and also keep enough sand over us that no one flying overhead will notice."
"Good.  Maybe they'll just think we disappeared and won't really search."
"That's our hope," Bailey said.  "We just need to make certain we're not somewhere easy to spot."
"Not going to be easy for a group like this," I said.  There were several hundred of us, and at least half were nons.  Not many were nons like Edmond and Lord Snow, who were hard enough to keep hidden, but at least partly fit into this world.  Maggie, with her metal wings, was another difficult one -- though a cloak worked there.  But some of the others -- no, they couldn't be hidden easily.
"We have quite some distance to go to reach a set of railroad tracks," Maggie said with a shake of her head.  "We better hope we get there before light."
"What about other trains?" I asked.  I was starting to see a lot of problems here.
"We'll be on the lookout for them.  If we have to, we'll give a few of them problems to keep them back and hope that those tricks don't add up and someone will come looking for us."
The distance we had to travel was daunting.  Someone would figure out the direction we were going and there would be people searching for us.  If word got out --
"There is going to be panic," I said and Maggie looked at me, startled.  "Think about word of our escape getting out. Think about the people we know -- especially the ones like your parents."
"They'd be out there inciting riots if they weren't in prison," she said with a snarl.
"I didn't mean to --"
"No, you're right.  They're just the sort of people we need to be really careful about," she replied.  The anger had slipped away from her again.  I was glad she she thinking about it.
"I don't know how many of these people are from our reality," I said.  I shook my head, worried about the possibilities.  "We need to remind everyone that we're going to run into trouble long before we get back to the gate."
"You're right," she said.  Then she suddenly put a hand over my shoulder.  "I was worried when the others said you hadn't arrived.  At least Davis and I were together, but it was still awful."
"I suppose they had their reasons.  Do you know anything about Tom?"
"I know what he is. That's enough to worry about."
I didn't ask more.  If she had anything to tell me, she would.  I expected the same from Lord Snow, Edmond, and Davis.  We were a team. We were heading back from trouble, but at least we had allies this time.
Actually, more than allies I suddenly realized.  We were moving an army.  There had been several hundred at camp and all of them with magic.  I didn't know anything about their powers, but Tom would.  I knew he would be in charge and I was fine with that -- as long as he realized I likely knew more about both the area and the enemy than he did.
I didn't say anything.  I just hoped this would not become a problem.  I and my people were the strangers here and I noticed how they were staying by me.  I tried not to think there was a reason for it.
We were heading into battle.  I didn't want to find myself on the wrong side of Tom and of Darman as well.  This might be trickier than I had considered.  Of course, first we had to walk across the desert, pretend to be a train, and travel over halfway across the continent.
Yeah.  Complicated.

To Be Continued.... 

979 Words

Monday, December 05, 2016

Goals, Part 1


NaNo is over!   I have two lovely finished first drafts, both of which are now put aside for a few months.  I have learned not to edit too soon.  I need everything to be cleared out of my head so that I can see the story for what it is and not for what I expected to find there. I'll write another novel or two 

So here we are in December.  Lots to get done right?  Holidays and all of that stuff piling up around you.  School stuff for some, worries about winter for others -- and over us all the realization that 2017 is only a few days away.

I do not do resolutions.  Instead, I do goals.  Goals are things to work toward, not some sudden 'resolution' to change immediately.  My goals are almost always writing-related.  One of next year's goals, for instance, is to get more of my ebooks into print format at CreateSpace.  That's a nice little goal.  It means a chance to edit because books can always use another edit, and every time I make a breakthrough on some writing front, I want to go back and apply it to everything.  It also means new cover art, either expanding on one already done or an entirely new cover.  There is also all the formating that goes into the work. This isn't just a matter of grabbing an ebook version and slapping it between a couple covers.

That is a good goal.  How many should I do?  One a a month might be possible -- ah, but then there's November and that wouldn't work.  I think 8 to 10  might be a better goal, and include in that the new ebook/print combinations I publish since I now usually do the print version at the same time as a new release.

How many new releases?  Maybe four to six.  I am only certain of one (Raventower & Merriweather 2: War), but I have several others in the queue that might make it.  That means more editing, more cover art, more formatting, this time for both ebook and print.

Marketing?  There's a goal I need to work into this insanity.  I am horrible at marketing.  I know it.  I'm reading more articles and books, but I simply can't seem to make the right connection to what I should do.  Work harder at marketing in general is about as far as I can go with that one because I have such trouble figuring out what to do.

You may have noticed that so far I haven't said anything about actually writing. This is because writing is so natural to me that I don't have to make a goal of it.  Instead, I need to make goals that direct me to things other than the actual writing of new stories.  Those stories will happen.  I write every day.  I have for decades. 

If you need writing goals, though, there are simple ways to ease into a pattern of regular writing.  Don't suddenly think you're going to write thousands of words a day, every day.  That rarely ever works. When I decided to first start writing every day, I began with 250 words.  I was able to write every day, but some of you might want to limit that to Monday-Friday instead.  There is no reason you have to write every day.

250 times 365 days = 91250 Words
250 times 261 days (no weekends) = 65,250

In both cases, you will have gotten either most of or all of a  novel done if you stick to the story.  The truth is that by mid year you'll probably be writing more than 250 words because it starts getting easier once you write more often.

There are things that will keep you from writing, though, too.  I'll discuss some of the pitfalls of solid goals like this in my next week's blog!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Flash Fiction # 227 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 11: Others


(Previous)

I took a step back, worried about what was going wrong now.  I had no idea what to do.   Power enveloped the man in a shimmer of gold, but I didn't feel anything dangerous in it.  I was ready to move to protect others -- but I didn't think I needed to after all.

Tom was growing taller, thinner -- more silvery so that his hair almost glowed.  His eyes turned bright blue as they stared at me -- amused, I thought.  The transition did not take long and when I blinked he was still Tom, but different.  And he was, beyond a doubt, fae -- but not like any I'd ever seen before.  When he looked at me, I felt more power than  I had ever encountered before.  I stopped moving, uncertain of what I should do.  Was this good?  Bad? 

"Elder fae," Edmond said, his voice a little shaken.  He dropped down on the floor and settled by my feet.  "He's an elder fae, but that's not possible.  They never leave Elsewhere.  This can't be real --"

"Be calm, furred one," Tom said as he smiled.  He stretched as though he had been cramped in the smaller size for too long.  The others didn't look surprised, I noted.  Well, except for my companions.  Edmond backed up behind me, and I could see him peaking around the back of my legs.  Tom laughed and it was a bright sound.  "My name is Tosemin (Edmond mewed in distress) and I am an elder fae.  One of the top ten, as your little friend realizes.  I came here because there was a dire need, but I am limited in power and understanding.  I had to gather those with power and I used the humans' paranoia to do so."

It took me a moment to realize what he was saying -- that he'd brought us together to fight the enemy.  I didn't know if I should trust him, but Edmond was starting to come back out again and I thought he might be hopeful rather than afraid.

"What are we going to do?" Collins asked.  I was glad to have him back as the guard tonight.  I can't say I even knew when he came in.  Everything had been so confused that I wasn't certain I trusted anything right now.

But was there hope?

Tom gave a wave of his hand and a 3D map appeared in front of me.  "The Gate to Elsewhere is here," Tom said, his finger pointing to a spot that brightened.  "We are here, far across the high mountains.  They act as a barrier to whatever magic we have gathered in this place.  Darman created his army of weres in an area of the gate, which also is wooded and hilly so that what is out there is hidden, but we know there are far too many of them and they won't be easy to defeat.  We had to collect an army of our own to go up against him.  You cannot go back without us."

I started to argue, but Maggie had already agreed with an emphatic nod and I trusted her even more than I did Edmond.  I didn't want to put others in danger, but I also knew that I couldn't fight him alone.  We wouldn't get many chances.  The others all understood the situation and I had to come to terms with situation.

"What do we do?" I asked, committing myself to the group.  "We can't take over enough trucks as they come in.  How are is the nearest train tracks?  Do trains go by often?"

"We don't need a train," Davis said with a quick nod.  "Just make something that looks like one and illusion and magic can do the rest."

Tom looked pleased by this idea and I refrained from saying I had no idea how that sort of thing would work.  They did.  I had to trust that my allies -- who were far better trained in this than me -- knew what they could do. 

I had been fighting this battle almost on my own, I realized.  I'd had friends and allies all along the way, but it had been my work that brought us all here in the end.  I wasn't the most powerful person in this group, but I was central to everything that had happened.

I listened as the others talked about what they would need, what they could do, how much it would take to power this magic as far as they needed to go.  I needed to learn some real magic, but I feared there wouldn't be time before we started this journey. 

There was a feeling of urgency in what we were doing, as though we could sense that the trouble was growing even with the mountains between us.

"We have to move carefully," Smith said.  We'd had a quick dinner but no one had left the table yet.  "There are some humans who still believe we are docile prisoners, and if we start showing any thing to the contrary, it could get messy.  We don't want that kind of trouble now."

"The work is spread out among the different groups," Davis said.  "Everyone is being careful of the guards we don't trust, but mostly we'll be fine for tonight.  The next question is to decide when it would be best to go."

We were still discussing that possibility when someone knocked softly on the door.  Collins went to answer, while the rest of us stayed very quiet.  I couldn't hear what was said, but Collins took a newspaper from the person and pushed the door closed again.

He didn't look happy when he came back to the table.

Collins unfolded the paper and showed us the front page.

Battles, attacks in several places -- things were falling apart in the east.

"We don't have any time to waste," I said.

Tom nodded agreement.  "We go tonight."

To Be Continued....

989 Words