Spinning Plates

I have not had much of an online presence in the last few weeks as some pretty big things have happened, and I’m trying to rally back from it. Apologies for not giving more frequent updates; I hope that will change soon as I get some content out.

How my recent writing progress has left me feeling.

I have not been writing as much in these last few weeks; I needed a break from really anything remotely looking like work – but I’m ready to come back with renewed vigor, although through smaller steps. I started editing a little today. I’ll keep working on it. But that project will be released under a pen name, more so I can get my feelers out for what it’s like to self-publish.

Outlining on Grimoire has stalled. But I miss my characters, and honestly, the world of Grimoire in general. I’ve been sitting on some proto-drafts and random bits that I hope to get posted next week. If there’s an interest, then I can start getting my character profiles and art up too. Given the nature of the series, I may also start posting one-shots on the blog between drafting.

I think that covers almost everything except the Trail of the Klondike and my writing assignment. 

Snowy weather has been helping in my gold rush novella. But it gets too cold to write sometimes!

Trail of the Klondike is moving along; chapter two is almost done. From there, the rest is outlined. If you read chapter one, you know that James has gotten himself into a bit of a hard spot. If I can keep a solid pace, I should have something ready to publish by year’s end. Fingers crossed, and if you want to find out what happens to Mr. McQueen, make sure to subscribe or follow. 

That leaves my writing assignment, which I will get typed up and posted. I cut it shorter than I intended, leaving it as more of a chapter/ tease. I don’t feel it’s my story since it was an assignment of sorts, so there’s only so much that can be gained from digging. There could be something more there, but for now, I’ve got as much out of the ground as I can. 

I will be posting it under the title of What Happened to Ray? Stay tuned.

I did enjoy the writing prompt process and got a lot from the exercise, with still more to be gained. If you have a writing prompt you’d like to see me tackle, let me know! I’m looking to improve my skill, and I feel the relationship between the storyteller and their audience is important. I’d like to hear from you.

Earlier this week, I dictated rough 4000 words on the subject of Star Wars, specifically speaking to the Force and how it fits into the storytelling of Star Wars. This will be the first in a series of posts/articles. The intent is to break down story elements and characters for popular franchises and speak to how they influence me and how I used those lessons to educate my own approach to storytelling. 

I had a lot of fun doing it, so I hope you have fun reading it. If you want to see additional subjects or franchise again, let me know and subscribe and follow to be part of the conversation. 

Until next time,

Excelsior!

Spooktober Updates, Shorts and maybe Novella?

Currently been hand writing my homework.

It’s been a minute since my last update. I went back to work – due to several things, I was on summer leave. It was a great time to get some stuff put together, and projects started. But now that I’m working 50 hours a week plus commute naturally, my writing has slowed. If you’re in that boat, know you’re not alone. So this is an update of what’s going on and even some tips that I’ve picked up along the way to help keep myself as productive as possible while having a busy day job.

To quickly touch base on Grimoire. I don’t want to say break or hiatus, but let’s be honest – I have had little to no chance to write anything more on my first draft. I will admit with more than a little guilt, it is in part because I was having difficulty with the last few chapters. After all, they did not have a flow that I’m happy with. More on that later. Instead, I turned to outline the first book in a much more severe matter, and it’s been great! I feel confident about the plot, story, and how it contributes to the overall theme. Giving me the temptation to outline the next two books while I’m at it. But I Can’t seem to give it enough attention. Maybe it’s that fear of it not being good enough. But the work must continue.

My focus has shifted to some other stuff. Reading, for instance. Oh my God, how I’ve missed reading. This year I started reading On Writing by Stephen King, and if you’re following me on Twitter, you are probably sick to the point of nausea at how much I’ve complimented this book. But it’s that good. It gives me an equal measure of hope and fear at the prospect of being a professional writer (something I think is good), it also cements what I love about the craft – being a reader you get to play in those fantastic worlds of fiction. It’s safe to say that On Writing is my favorite Stephen King book period. It’s a fantastic behind-the-scenes view of an author whose work has always been near and dear to my heart. He also doesn’t pull punches, something I appreciate. He breaks it down and puts his two cents in; moreover – he drives home how the mileage does indeed vary. What works for some doesn’t for all. But he challenges you to think about not only why you write but how.

And the biggest takeaway I have is this: read a lot, write a lot.

I’m out of practice. I used to write stories that never saw the light of day, only the darkness of a wastepaper bin. I used to read far more too. There’s no way to give a series a proper treatment without getting back into the swing of things. So reading and writing.

I’m going to keep it brief because if I don’t, it will seem as though I’m working far more on my skills than I have. So here goes.

I started a project that will be released under a pen name. But this little nugget that I thought would be no more than 3000 words is almost 12k and may dovetail into something more. It has been a good source of practice and learning. I’m going to see how far down that rabbit hole I can go. I’m optimistic that the rough draft will be finished within a week if I can keep writing.

I also have a writing assignment from the aforementioned book On Writing seriously; go get it. There’s an assignment/homework/exercise, whatever you’re comfortable with. It’s going to be a short story and handwritten. Exploring a craft that I gave up long before I should have. I used to write everything by hand since it creates what I feel is the most genuine and most personable rough draft. You can’t edit; you can only write.

That’s what I’m attempting. It’s a story that I’m discovering as I go utilizing the advice given in the book. Considering it’s been twenty years since it was published, I am taking some liberties with the project. Not sticking to the names Mr. King offers or the length of the prose suggested – which is supposed to be 5 to 6 pages.

I fear it will be longer because as I’m uncovering this ‘fossil,’ I’m finding there’s more to unearth. Granted, I have inadequate tools (my fault) and a layman’s knowledge of ‘Dino-bones,’ but I hope to make do. What I find I’m not sure, but the journey has been fun so far. The final result, which is to say a finalized draft, or at least beta-reader ready, I will post on here, so stay tuned.

I was taking breaks to make time for pumpkin craving.

As for Grimoire, there’s a lot of heavy lifting to do, and if I’m being honest with myself, I need to walk before I run. It’s a journey.

Tips along the way – pen and paper; I highly recommend this for a couple of reasons. It forces you to write and not edit. Once you give up on that voice, you can do what most of us forget to; Practice Ugly.

Write and read as often as you can. It helps you learn what you like and what you don’t. Read outside of your preferred genre, don’t only spend time there but dabble; it enables you to learn what’s out there. Try writing prompts. This is something that I will start doing starting with the writing assignment from On Writing.

Like any skill you are mastering, you need to try a wide assortment of things to determine just what workflow is best for you. But tips from the pros help immensely! It’s a toolbox; understand you have limits, not only the mental and the physical, but also space and time—sad truth. Don’t put it off. Take it from someone coming to the game a little later than others – you can’t get time back.

Reading more feels amazing; while I sadly don’t have as much time to write, my ability to learn and practice has not diminished. You just have to find little bits of time. Writing by hand helps with this, too, since I maybe get ten minutes outside of my lunch break. I hope that helps motivate anyone else struggling to get words out. Let me know! Comment or send me a tweet (or whatever).

I’ll wrap up an update, circling back to the title of this post. Spooktober!

I love Halloween, and if you’ve been following me on Twitter, then you know that I do the 31 Days of Halloween. A tradition that, for me, goes back about fifteen years. A scary movie every day of October. Here’s a quick recap and remind you that you can play along or choose and post your own. I’d love to hear what everyone is watching!

Day 1 – Hocus Pocus

Day 2 – The Thing

Day 3 – The Ring

Day 4 – Misery

Day 5 – Life

Day 6 – Us

Day 7 – The Fly (1986)

Day 8 – Paranormal Activity

Day 9 – Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein

Day 10 – DOUBLE FEATURE! Hubie Halloween & Escanaba in da Moonlight

Day 11 – Ernest Scared Stupid

Day 12 – Color of Space

Day 13 – Interview With the Vampire

Day 14 – The Atticus Institute

Day 15 – Friday the 13th marathon

Day 16 – Exists

Day 17 – The Banshee Chapter

Day 18 – Thinner

Day 19 – Ghostbusters

Day 20 – The Conjuring

Day 21 – STAY TUNED!

I’ll leave you with that since there is reading and writing to be done. But here’s a campfire if you needed some relaxation tonight like me. Until next time.

Excelsior!

Campfire Breakfast Apology

Get ready to cook!

I know that sounds like a strange title for a blog entry but let me explain:

In my last blog entry (*Another Night, Another Campfire) I made a commitment to have another entry of Writing Grimoire out. And I swear to God I tried. I know, not good enough, but I got over halfway through – and at least 1500 words. But I didn’t want to write it as a two part-er, I’d rather it be a little more cohesive. So I instead am offering a preemptive apology by way of campfire breakfast.

I will get the next part of Writing Grimoire up – but for now I can at least make you breakfast. Well, not you in a physical-real sense, but you in a digital-do-it-yourself sense!

If you know me, you know I love a good campfire. And here’s an amazing breakfast you can make by campfire. It takes little prep – pan, mitt, wooden spoon are your weapons. A knife to diced veggies, and I would assume you’d have one one you already so I didn’t think it necessary to mention. Dicing in advanced is preferred – but over the campfire cowboy style looks more badass and has the added bonus of being slow and dangerous.

I’ll keep it short and sweet – ingredient first then steps with pictures.

  • 1/2 stick Butter cut into tablespoons.
  • half pound ground sausage
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1/2 bell pepper diced
  • (Optional) 4 mushrooms sliced
  • Garlic Powder or minced garlic to preference
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup cheese (colby or cheddar)

First get a fire going, you’re looking to get enough coals to creat a bed to lay your cast iron on. I use a 10 inch in these pictures and it makes quite a bit of food! Let it warm up for about four minutes. Then add butter. Always add a Tablespoon at a time. I’ll let the photo captions speak the rest:

Once pan is hot, add butter.
Add half pound sausage. Brown to a crumble, stir occasionally add another bit of butter
If your not backyard camping, bring a ziplock of pre-cut veggies, way easier. For this I use a potato, half green pepper, onion all diced. You can also add mushroom or fresh garlic, I just add garlic powder since it’s quick.
Once sausage is browned add veggies, another bit of butter and stir. Cover – tin foil will do! Simmer for eight minutes.
Everything should me just cooking along now! 😋
Eggs! I add six; but sometimes feel more Ron Swanson-y (up to you). Along with – you guessed it. More butter. Basically the trick here is I throw down another hunk at each step. Stirring and coating the bottom before each new ingredient. Prep, sausage, veggies, eggs. Keeps everything cooking, tasty and doesn’t stick. You can cut back to your preference. Cover, cook five minutes.
In my kitchen I normally scramble them in but in cast iron, this is the way to go! If you’ve covered them, just cook to your preference. The embers if you got them hot enough are still very warm, and cast iron holds heat well. You could cook them through and if your coals die just make a new bed and transfer them over. I like them about over-medium consistency.
Remove from heat, and add you favorite cheese!
Eggs yolks ready to party!
Added bonus!! Top it of with your favorite sausage gravy or salsa!

So there ya go! Apology breakfast made! And now when you miss your next deadline you can spread a good meal and ask for forgiveness too! Let me know what you think, if you try it yourself and even more so if you use it to successfully get yourself out of trouble. Seriously comment below, or follow me on Twitter. I trying to blog more and more and the first three chapters for Grimoire are available on wattpad at https://www.wattpad.com/story/230347111-grimoire-dance-with-a-devil, with more incoming soon!

Until next time, hopefully sans-needing-culinary-bribery!

Excelsior!

Another night; another campfire.

The crackle of flame, the sight of embers flying on the breeze, the cozy smell of smoke and warmth. Perfect ambiance for writing.

Sounds about right. But looking back on the last week (or two) I’ve made some real progress.

If you didn’t know, I have the first three chapters of Grimoire up on Wattpad (https://www.wattpad.com/story/230347111-grimoire-dance-with-a-devil) also, for the eagle eyed. Or if you’ve seen the cover art before you’ll notice I’ve striped away the more ’pulp-magazine’ aspects (for now). But also the title’s subheading.

Dance with a Devil.

I think it fits. Titles are hard for me, so to feel fairly certain with the way that it flow feels good. In addition to that, there has been a lot of progress on Grimoire behind the scenes. In fact later this week – maybe by Friday you can expect another entry of Writing Grimoire. So if you haven’t read the free chapters but you’ve read this blog, there will be spoilers. I’m gonna dive deep into the characters of Aurora and Matthias. Their origins, the beginning of all this, and why Grimoire may ultimately see a slow roll out. There’s a lot to unpack. It will be by far the largest blog on the subject, now that the chapters are posted.

I don’t want to go too much further than that since it could be spoilers and I pride myself on not revealing story tidbits. To some of my friends’ frustrations.

However, I’ve really been challenging myself to write. Something that has let me churn out a 1000 word chapter that was sorely left out along with two more chapters both seeing a healthy words count. And then outlining. Again, I will share more in depth later this week but you can expect;

Story Origins

The split of Grimoire from the original canon.

Character Origins: Aurora and Matthias

Current updates and goals.

So again it’s a lot to cover. Due to the for lack of a better term, tapestry that is the universe of Grimoire – it’s been tough to write. Understand Grimoire in some form has been in my head for two decades, the revision rough draft that spanned some 40,000 words before it was shelved? That was five years ago. Then there’s Erden Saga, which I promise I will talk about to those interested (looking for feedback on this blog, my published chapters – everything really!)

But writing has become as therapeutic to me as it once was, but mostly at the cost of actually letting go, and walking away from Grimoire to work on other stuff. Then I can reapproach with a fresh set of eyes within a couple of days. It works.

So I have a side thing I’m working on. Which as of right now sits at over 6000 words. All live written.

Much like this blog.

An explanation; when my girlfriend and I were first dating I would send her stories. Mostly made up on the fly, then eventually with the characters of Grimoire.

That’s what made me dust the story off – so full credit to her.

I say that to say this. It’s a habit I keep. Writing words as they come to me and then sending them to her in chunks, barely a page ahead of her. Only stopping to spell check and catch any grammar errors so horrendous you’d question my intelligence. Sometimes I’m successful, other times I get a reply in real-time that I would imaging all writers dread:

‘???’

Fuck.

I didn’t explain something right, I forgot a tidbit of info. Now I have to retcon. Shit. Shit. Shit.

I’ve become the buffer distance in the written version of a reader’s YouTube . But it keeps you honest. And truly it helps. I tend to think on the fly, and when given a direction I can run with it. Which is why I went back to the drawing board on how I was outlining Grimoire. Much better now.

In fact, this right now – these words, I write as I would in a ‘live-writing session’ I don’t hem-and-haw over them – insistently editing every word. I try to avoid the cluster-fuck verbiage if I can. Again, sometimes with success.

It’s something I may explore on a better platform for fiction, specifically; maybe via Twitch, YouTube or something else.

I suppose Twitter and Reddit lend themselves to it via AMA and the 280 character limit of the former.

I say this as Bob Seger’s ‘Turn the Page’ queues up on my iPhone; I’m getting a LOT of writing done. That side story was all live written, and as a short, maybe it’s ready for the editing floor soon. Though as a new writer what do I do?

Do I publish everything across a wide variety of genres?

I’m eclectic; I like it all, while my favorite movies tend to gravitate to the Sci-Fi, At the heart of it all; I love stories.

All stories, even bad ones. Like MST3K – a love I’ll take to my grave, and I still put on most nights as I fall asleep; recreating Saturday nights with my brother when we were allowed to stay up late to watch bad horror flicks.

I love the wide variety that storytelling can take. So some times it can be difficult to know what to do and how to navigate. In an industry that tends to draw hard genre lines.

While similar to what I’ve written in the past it’s also something that I may publish under a pen name. To be decided. What does that look like?

I don’t know.

What I do know, is that I’m writing it regardless. It’s getting published regardless. With a bunch of other stuff and Grimoire, my first of two very personal series to me.

I hope you join me for that journey, either tonight or on another. Hopefully by campfire. That’s where I tend to be.

So that’s what I’ll leave you with.

Visiting Homer and doing some world building

Needed to get away again; personal life has been stressful during a time of change and lost. 2020 apparently had grim plans for us all, not only on the world stage but for each of us including myself.

But life carries on, and we must press forward, see it to the end. That is my intention which is why I have made a focused attempt at my work. Grimoire. So a bit of a getaway, a campfire lit beach on the spot of Homer, Alaska drinking a wonderful Denmark mead found at the Grog Shop.

‘Odin’s Beard’, the purple and white label read. The bottle had been perspiring as the temperature of the setting sun quickly changed in the air.

Hints of Apple and cinnamon swept over me as I watched the sky seeping in shade with the oncoming twilight.

I let the inspiration hit me and continue working on crafting the world of Grimoire. Each of the characters needing their individual purpose, views and values. Attempting again to revisit my personal story wiki as a way to test the water and start writing again. I have been sidetracked by a few things but Homer always helps put things into perspective.

So I drink deep of Odin’s Skull; it’s honey wine giving me another idea I quickly scribble more down. Sketch concepts and writing down names and connections. A lot more to do.

I truly hope my next official update comes soon and with a beta reader ready version of part one.

Until then,

Excelsior!

View from the Homer coastline.

On Camping

I always loved camping as a kid. Campfires especially. My parents used to let me buy comic books from the shelves of the gas stations we’d stop at along the way. I of course brought my own stack of books from home, comics and otherwise.

I’d often read the whole way down, engrossed in the newest story I could find or equally so in the worn-covered books, whose stories I kept revisiting again and again. Around the campfire my family would laugh and tell stories or listen to audiobooks.

Perhaps that’s why writing by campfire feels so right. I’m camping as I write this; some much needed time away. Not too far away, I’m not ‘roughing it’ although cell service is a tad spotty, but I am still very much ‘on the Grid.’

But the relaxing snaps and crackle of the campfire is a wonderful music to me. Hypnotic and nostalgic but an amazing metronome for my thoughts. Some nights of course are more productive than others.

That’s why I’m writing this. Recently with Grimoire I’ve been having a bit of Writer’s Block in waves. The plot is coming and evolving for the better, but the words, the expression of that plot has been difficult. More on that on a future post (Writing Grimoire: part 2)

So I figured since I have the site (bought and paid – holy crap do I know what I’m doing or what I’m getting myself into?) I should write. Something, anything. And where better than by campfire, under the stars as the twinkle about in the clear Autumn sky of Alaska.

It had rained earlier; almost enough to disrupt the trip entirely – but thankfully it had cleared with the setting sun. The clouds catching the rays of oranges as the mountain shimmered in misty purple hues.

That beautiful campfire now lights my surroundings and so I write.

Grimoire is my current project the new revitalization of a story long filling my head, the behind the scenes look will be posted as “Writing Grimoire’, for me telling the story of Grimoire is a bit of a journey so I want to share my thoughts on how it came about and what I learn along the way. I suppose it’s part of my process.

I’ve always enjoyed the community of storytelling. Not only in telling that story but the reaction from the audience. A story has to be heard to exist, until then its unspoken. So I write it down, I draw it out. I tell people stories. I think Grimoire is a good one as as I get the first part out (First three chapters approximately of the first book). More updates to follow.

Another update will be around the artwork for the cover which is my own design. I know that’s frowned upon and will not necessarily be the final artwork for the first book. I have a guilty pleasure for comic/pulp covers.

That’s all for now, and I’ll get the next part of Writing Grimoire posted hopefully Sunday. Working on my own deadlines, and holding myself to them better.

Until next time,

Excelsior!

First Steps & Growing Pains

Wow! First post for my page, what a crazy mix of excitement and frustration! After spending hours toiling away I finally have the site up and running. So now here’s the obligatory first blow to go along!

I’ve made attempts in the past to have blogs and struggled to maintain them; inherently those were different endeavors, mostly as a forum to voice my own opinions and ideas. This is a little different. This blog is to not only give insight as to what it takes to go from the first steps of being a writer to hopefully something more, but also to be open about my creative process.

Nothing would make me happier than to be able to turn my writing/storytelling into a full time career. But that takes a ton (and a half) of work. So here’s to the first steps, the beginning of a journey and hopefully the seed of something more.

My first project is called Grimoire, and you will see a bunch of information regarding it to start coming soon. The first book in the series will be released episodically, so if you want to get the newest chapters before anyone else be sure to subscribe to my mailing list and follow me on twitter!

Excelsior!