Monday, March 28, 2011

Dreaming about my WIP

Since today the blog post will go up on Honor’s Code announcing this blog to my former readership, I thought it would be a good idea to post a little bit about my current Work In Progress (hereafter referred to as my WIP).

I started back in October brainstorming ideas. This was supposed to be my NaNoWriMo subject. November came and went with my book unfinished.

I made a file on my computer called “The Idea Box.” Whenever I got an idea for a story, I would put in that file. I have idea for Adult Fiction, Science Fiction, Mystery Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, and a Young Reader/Middle Grade Fiction. Some of my ideas were for characters, others for plots, and others still were themes. Some authors seem drawn to characters. At this point in my writing journey, I seem to be attracted to themes and plots.

I looked over all my ideas. Now this is my first time trying to write a novel. Actually, that’s not true. I tried to start one in College. I never finished it, but I put that as an idea on my idea list. I started another one about 6 or 7 years ago. That one wasn’t finished either, and now lives as another idea on my idea box. But the point of saying all that, is to say that I know this first attempt at a novel will likely not be all that good. I’m a rookie, a freshman. I didn’t want to ‘burn’ a good idea on my first time out, but as I thought about it more, I realized that I must be passionate about the idea or it will never go anywhere.

I settled on one of my Adult Fiction stories. The next step was coming up with a one line description. This would be a sentence to define the overarching story of my novel. Something to be used in polite conversation when someone asks, ‘So what is your story about?” Eventually, it will find it’s way into query letters and maybe one day in the future on the back cover of my book. I can dream can’t I?

My one sentence description is:
A young DBA turns his back on a promising career to pursue his dream of becoming a pastor, but his unconventional approach, and a mistake from his past threaten to keep his dream from ever becoming reality.
Interest piqued?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Seven - March 27, 2011

The Sunday Seven question was:
Name your seven picks for the greatest Hollywood actresses of all time?
Carrie Fisher – Ms. Fisher played one of the most iconic roles in my life, Princess Leia. Leia was smart, independent, and brave. She wouldn’t back down from doing what she knew needed to be done. For bringing Princess Leia to life, I will always be indebted to Ms. Fisher. For that she will always be my number one.
Michelle Pfeiffer – Ms. Pfeiffer was the rare actress that made me want to see a film simply if she was in it. More often than not, I would end up venerated in my choice with “Age of Innocence” being the notable exception. I also give her points for doing voice over work for the excellent “Prince of Egypt”. I was first introduced to Ms. Pfeiffer in “Ladyhawke”, and then in “Batman Returns”. My favorite role of hers was in “Up Close and Personal” where she played opposite Robert Redford.
Katharine Hepburn – Ms. Hepburn was introduced to me in the file “A Lion in Winter” where she played Eleanor of Aquitaine. The movie, and particularly her role in it left an impression on me. She would forever be the bar against which I would measure other actresses.
Sigourney Weaver – Ms. Weaver rarely receives the accolades for which she is due, easily making her a candidate for a “Most Underrated Actresses” List. I believe this is mostly due to her having favored the Science Fiction genre, and that genre not being taken as seriously as other genres by those passing out the accolades. Her range is remarkable. From comedies like “Dave” and “Galaxy Quest”, to thrillers like the “Alien” series, to blockbusters like “Ghostbusters” and “Avatar”. She has longevity, and versatility.
Meg Ryan – Movies can teach us a great many things. The movies of Meg Ryan taught us how to fall in love, usually with Tom Hanks. Whether we were “Sleepless in Seattle” or waiting to hear “You’ve Got Mail” or remembering when “Harry Met Sally”, Ms. Ryan was adding comedy to the romance. My favorite role of hers was actually not opposite Mr. Hanks, but rather in “Kate and Leopold” where she played opposite Hugh Jackman.
Julia Roberts – She is an amazing actress who had done everything from “Pretty Woman” to “Erin Brokovich”. She had a starring role, opposite Denzel Washington in “The Pelican Brief” which, to this day, is one of those movies I will stop and watch when it comes on TV.
Demi Moore – Another movie I simply have to stop and watch when it comes on TV is “A Few Good Men” starring Demi Moore with Tom Cruise and Jack "you can’t handle the truth” Nicholson. She also starred in “An Indecent Proposal”, “Ghost” and “St. Elmo’s Fire”. While some of Ms. Moore work is a bit racy for my taste, she always pushed the boundaries of her talent and gave us memorable characters.

With so many of these actresses, what left the biggest impression was the character they played. As I look at my current Work In Progress, I have a female lead. I try to imagine one of these ladies playing the lead female from my story. Could I write a Leia, or an Eleanor of Aquataine? What is it about these characters that, even as a man, they spoke to me. It was their strength, and their stubborness not be defined. I need more of that in my characters.

Saturday Six - March 26th

This is my friend's ongoing meme. The Saturday Six questions were a random assortment, missing the theme that usually goes along.

1. Some people believe in making grand plans for their own future. Some have a 10-year plan, others have a 5-year plan, and some have only a 1 or 2-year plan. What kind of plan do you have, if any?

I have a 5 year plan, but it only covers a couple of areas. Mainly goals like still being married, but I don't have my life nearly as well planned out as I should. Part of the reason for that is worrying that I won't accomplish all the goals on my plan. The man who doesn't know where he's going never fails to reach his destination. But I don't want to live like that anymore, so I have set some long term goals, like getting published.
2. Are your closest friends more likely to within your gender or the opposite?

For a long time, they were mostly opposite gender, but now they are nearly all within my gender. Being married now, I find it very difficult to have friendships with the opposite sex, unless they are wives of my friends. Even at that, I don't allow myself to spend time alone with any person of the opposite sex (besides my wife) which makes forming and maintaining friendships somewhat difficult.
3. What is the last printed periodical — newspaper or magazine — that you read on paper?

I'm really having to guess here, but I think it was about 4 months ago, at the barbershop. They had an issue of ESPN the Magazine. The cover story was something I was interested in, though I can't recall what it was now. Normally, I would just read ESPN on their website on my phone, or check my feed reader.
4. Of the last ten times you communicated with your phone, which of the following types of communication did you use the most: phone call, text message, tweet or Facebook posting?

I find myself texting more than anything else on my phone lately. It seems easier to convey your message. By it’s nature, it demands brevity. It's also easier for the other person to ignore if you caught them at a bad time.
5. You decide to make Jell-O for dessert: which flavor is your favorite?
I like green Jell-O. I have no idea what flavor that is.
6. If you could arrange a private showing of any classic film at a big theater to experience it the way theater-goers did when it was actually on the big screen, which film would you choose?
This would have to be Star Wars: Episode IV "A New Hope". This was the original Star Wars, first seen in 1976. It is my favorite movie of all time and I've been a life long fan ever since. I last saw it in theatres in 1997, and I would love to see it in theatres again. Of course, rumor has it I will get my wish around 2014 or 2015 as the Star Wars movies are rereleased in 3D.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Best Time to Post

Image: healingdream /

One of the guys I follow on Twitter was asking me if I had any advice for Bloggers. I can’t claim credit for this one, but it is a good tip nonetheless. I learned it from another blogger, who probably learned it from another blogger and so on and so forth.

The blogging tip was this:

Always use a scheduled post time set to 11:59pm. 

Why 11:59pm?

First, we have to look at the facts. Most blogs are read during the day while people are at work. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is. We have to accept reality as it is. There are two major times people check blogs and their feed readers: when they first come into the office, and at lunchtime. Some may also check during an afternoon break if one is provided. I remember a reader of my blog once telling me that when his boss took a smoke break, he felt like he should take a blog break.

Second, if you read this blog then it is likely that you speak English, and that you write in English, so you are looking for an English speaking audience. That audience predominately lives in North America (USA and Canada), England, and Australia. 11:59pm

By posting at 11:59pm, you are going to catch Australia just as they are going to lunch. That’s an ideal time for them to be checking blogs. Most feed readers that people use to follow blogs list their content from newest to oldest. Since most of the other blog authors are asleep at 11:59pm, your post will at the top, or very near to the top of the feed reader as England, Canada and the USA are enjoying their first cup of coffee and checking their feeds.

Sunday Seven

My friend Patrick runs a blog called Patrick’s Place. One of his ongoing memes is Saturday Six and Sunday Seven. He puts out a question and asks his readers to respond either in comments on their blog.
I didn’t much care for the Saturday Six, but the Sunday Seven intrigued me.
Name seven specific goods or services for which you’d be most interested in getting a major discount.
With my current life situation, these immediately came to mind.
  1. Formula
  2. Diapers
  3. Kid’s Clothing
  4. Groceries
  5. Gas
  6. Work Shirts
  7. Insurance

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Declaration

There’s a journey that I’m about to begin. I’ve done enough research to know that the road ahead is hard and quite possibly painful. I am taking a risk going public. For by admitting my desire, I expose myself. Should I fail, and the odds of success are probably 50,000:1 against me, then those I have told of the journey will know that I failed. But I will embark on the journey regardless. I agree with one of my favorite heroes, “Never tell me the odds!” I don’t know that I really have any other choice, so fully has the idea of completing the journey engrossed me.

What I seek on this journey is nothing less than becoming a writer. Of course, this is a misstatement in and of itself for I am already a writer. What I seek now is to become a professional writer, a published writer. There is a word that person, Author.

You've got to have something of an ego, or great hubris to believe you are good enough to be become a published writer. But my belief is not totally without foundation. I have had people tell me they see talent in my writing. These were people with no vested interest in me. They had nothing to gain from telling me their positive opinion of my work. In my youth, I had a couple of pieces published in the school literary magazine. Later, in my adult life, I had someone read a piece I had written and he remarked, “I believe you may have missed your calling.” Another person, who himself was an amateur writer remarked of a short story I wrote that ‘your story, in and of itself, is very good.’ These comments have led me to believe that I may just have some God-given talent.

But I’m smart enough to know that won’t be enough. I’m raw, and untrained. I know I need to work on my craft, and hone my writing skills. Writing fiction is easy. Writing good fiction is not. To that end, I’ve borrowed some books and magazines on writing from my Mom. I’ve subscribed to the blogs of writers, agents, and editors trying to learn not only the fundamentals of writing, but also the fundamentals of the publishing world. In a very important way, this is a journey I’ve already begun.

I do not embark on this journey with the desire to get rich. I do not want to write to get rich, I want to write to get read, to touch another person with a story and allow them to lose themselves in a story I have created the way I have lost myself in the stories I have loved. Of course, I would love it if I made enough from my writing to free up more time to write, but I realize that mountaintop is well off in the distance.

I have ideas for my stories - oh do I have ideas. I have too many ideas right now. They range the gamut of styles and genres. My first thought was to pick an idea that I didn’t like as much for my first story. That way this initial project would be something of a training exercise rather than ‘burn’ a ‘good’ idea on my rookie project. The more I considered my course though, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve got to pick the one I’m most passionate about telling. If I don’t pick a story I’m passionate about telling, there very well may never be a follow up project.

So consider this your invitation to join me on this journey. Keep me from getting too high or too low. Should I share a piece of my work with you, please just be honest. I give you all permission to not like something I wrote. This is, after all, a very subjective area. I need people to tell me what they liked, but also what they didn't like. It’s only be seeing where I need improvement that I can get better at writing. This is going to be a journey that may take years, and cover many miles, and this declaration is but a first step.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Obligatory Introductory Post

As this is my required first post, and it is impossible to have a second post until you have a first post, I should tell you what this new blog is about. Most of you reading this will have come from my previously blog, Honors Code, where I discussed my obsession with the online Massively Multi player Game called World of Warcraft. I should tell you upfront there will be very little discussion of that game on this blog. I received several comments from readers when I closed that blog asking me to inform them if I started up a new blog.

This blog is going to focus on my new journey from writer to (hopefully) published author. We are going to talk about the projects I’m working on, the struggles I’m having, and the things I’m learning. We are also going to have the occasional post on current events, and philosophy/religion/politics. This blog will also house my participation in an ongoing meme from my friend Patrick which you will see this weekend. I’m giving myself permission to talk about just about anything that I happen to have on my mind. There, you have been warned.

Do not expect daily posts. The goal is two a week. We shall see how well I accomplish that goal.

I had debated in my head if I should hold off on starting this blog. I am years and many, many thousands of words away from my work being at the level of ‘publishable’. However, I was reading Nathan Bradsbury’s excellent post “There’s No Such Thing as Too Early” today, and that put me over the edge to start this blog up.

My goals for this blog are to record my journey, both so that I can look back on it, and also that my journey might help someone else who comes along the same path later. I also hope to generate some interest in my projects and get some people interested enough that they want to be alpha and beta readers. At this point in my writing career, the greatest improvement comes from people reading my writing and giving me good, constructive feedback.

Welcome to the Ted the Third blog. I hope you enjoy it.