Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gulp, Deadline

"What gets dated gets done." - David Foster (twitter:@DavidHFoster)

Having a deadline for the first draft of my Unicorn story has been a motivating force in my planning. The same dynamic of a deadline did not seem to help me in November for NaNoWriMo. Even so, emboldened by the sense of urgency the Unicorn deadline has created, I have decided to create a deadline for the first draft of my WIP. Like the Unicorn deadline, I need to treat this deadline as if it was coming from an outside force like an agent or publisher, even though the deadline is entirely self imposed.

I have chosen August 31st as the deadline for my first draft. I think that it is equal parts attainable and challenging. My goal in doing this is to help me push through and get some writing done on those nights when I'm not motivated to work on my WIP.

In way of confession, Dream Chaser (working title) is the third novel length story I've attempted. The other two are unfinished in various stages on my hard drive. As I look at them now, with a more trained, yet still very green eye, I can see that both lacked bones or structure. They were literally just sit down and write and make it up as I went along. I got to about the middle of both and lost steam. I was like a traveler who knew where he was starting, and had a pretty good idea of where he wanted to go. But I was unfamiliar with the streets and directions and somewhere along the way I got lost.

To address this, I've completed a rough outline of the whole story (and when I say rough I mean like being dragged behind a car on one of those roads with the little rocks in the asphalt rough.) It's not a textbook three act story structure, but it should be enough to get the first draft done. Then the real work can start, editing.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Not a Valid Point

A friend of mine shared a short blog post with me. Basically, it was nothing more than a picture of a sign outside a restaurant (presumably in New York) with the caption, “Valid point is valid.” My comment got way too long, so I’m putting it here.
Now this won’t make much sense if you don’t see the picture. So here it is:
Sorry, cyber buddy who sent this to me. The sign does not make a valid point. Remember I support same sex marriage. But this sign is wrong, and does not help further discussion and understanding between people of differencing viewpoints. It serves only to antagonize.
The sign is just plain wrong. As I see it, there are only two possibilities, and neither leads to the sign’s conclusion.
If, as some people claim, homosexuality is not a choice, but rather a genetic predisposition, then these heterosexual parents the writer of the signs wants us to blame had no choice. They no more chose that their baby was going to be homosexual than they chose whether she was going to be a girl or chose what color eyes she would have. It seems odd to blame parents for something clearly beyond their control.
The second possibility is, as others claim, that homosexuality is a choice. So we are blame these parents for raising a homosexual child. They raised their child to be a free thinker, explore alternative lifestyles, and their child discovered themselves in homosexuality. The writer of the sign thinks we should blame these parents for that? Or perhaps the child rebelled against their parents stogy, close minded beliefs and chose to be a homosexual. We are to blame them for that?
The sign does not make a valid point, but worse than that, it doesn't serve to help. During the same sex marriage debate, people for same sex marriage often make allusions to the civil rights battle. That would lead me to think their goal is to get a society where it doesn't matter whether you are gay or straight, as the civil rights goal was to get to a society where it doesn't matter if you were black or white. Those are laudable goals. Sadly, we aren't there yet on either front, but how exactly does this sign promote that, or get us closer to that society? I claim it doesn't. Signs like this serve only to highlight our divisions, and cause more animosity between people.
So no, valid point is not valid. It's rather counterproductive.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Unicorns, really?

I’ve joined an online writing group called Saucy Ink. We got together at the start of NaNoWriMo, and have stayed together ever since.
Recently, the very talented and helpful Tami Moore came up with the idea of doing a short story compilation. As Tami laid out, there are some solid benefits:
> Practice writing.
> Practice writing on a deadline.
> Practice critiquing each other and modifying our work based on critique.
> Practice editing for "omg, other people will see this".
> Get our names out there. Start DOING instead of just HOPING.

I love that last one. My friend, Mandy, who is biking across the country to raise money for clean water in Africa has given me a case of DOING envy.
We discussed length. 2-7.5k was the U.S. "official" short story length, but we decided to let it go up to 10k.
Then we came to theme. The idea was thrown out of Unicorns. I honestly think it was just a ‘for instance’, but several of group latched onto it.
When I first read the idea of Unicorns, I was thinking how in the world am I going to pull that off, but I actually think the idea might be a good one. It will help me apply some of the techniques I'm learning from How to Think Sideways, and it will give me a chance to do some research on Unicorns. I may come at the theme from a different angle, but I'll see what the mind comes up with.
Actually I do write some fantasy. My last short story was a piece of Blizzard Fan Fiction "The Ashenvale Encounter." I know it sounds crazy, but I'd love to get the rights back to that. It has two characters I really came to like. When you submit a Fan Fiction story to Blizzard’s contests, they get the rights to the story, even if they don’t use it.
My current Work In Progress I consider more general fiction, but the story has a Christian setting and a Christian main character so I can see where people might classify it as 'Christian Fiction'. I love reading fantasy (CS Lewis, Richard Knaack, Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Ted Dekker).
We are blessed to have a profession editor, Steve Hall, as part of our group. We have decided that any profits will go to Steve to reimburse him for the editing work he has volunteered to do on the compilation. We are also retaining the rights to our individual story so I can use it later if I want.
Now to see what twisted tale my brain can come up with.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Talking about Same Sex Marriage

On Friday, the New York state Assembly passed a law legalizing same sex marriage. There are five other states that already have given legal status to same sex marriage (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and Maine.)
The same sex marriage debate has been something from which I’ve steered clear. Emotions run too high on both sides, and I don’t like to wade into such divisive issues especially when I am not decided on it. Since my current views don’t fall into lockstep with either camp I typically make neither supporters nor opponents of same sex marriage happy.
I think my current position is somewhat unique. I don’t oppose same sex marriages, I just wish they had picked a different name for them.
If two people, even two people of the same gender, decide they want to enter into a lifelong commitment to each other, I don’t think the state (government) should tell them they can’t. There are real circumstances (filing income taxes jointly, or visiting each other in the hospital, or inheriting one another's property) where the rules change for your spouse. Lifelong committed same sex couples should be equivalent to heterosexual couples in those circumstances.
And can we please stop with the ‘oh the children’ rhetoric? Now I do believe that children benefit from having both a female and male in their life. There are things that men teach best to other men, and woman teach best to other women. But children of same sex couples would be in the same situation as any child of a single parent. There are lots of them, some of them even turn out okay.
Am I worried the children will think that homosexuality is ‘ok’? I live in the deep south. There have been parents teaching their kids wrongs things (about racial and gender equality) for generations. Yes somehow racial and gender equality is much better now than even when I was a kid. Kids grow up. They aren’t little automatons. They learn, adapt, change.
I don’t see how homosexual marriage will have any impact on heterosexual marriage. Until I read the article, I didn’t even know five other states had already legalized same sex marriage. That’s how little it actually impacts me. Bottom line, what people do in their private lives is up to them.
I’m a Dad, and this will cause me to have to talk to my daughter and son about concepts and topics I’d really rather not talk to them about yet. But at some point, they will learn about alternative lifestyles. Better for them to learn about them from their Mom and I than anyone else. Hopefully, I can instill in them how to stand up for their own convictions while giving grace and acceptance to those who disagree.
So if I’m okay with same sex marriage, why do I add the caveat that I wish they used a different word for them. As a writer, words are important to me. Words need to have meaning, and that means should stay as consistent as the language will allow. What I’ve never understood is why supporters of same sex marriage wanted the word ‘Marriage’. I would prefer a word that would provide all the rights and responsibilities of married couples but indicated the different constitution of the couple. I’d prefer the word ‘marriage’ continue to mean one man, one woman, and some other word to describe a same sex couple. Maybe one day someone will explain it to me and I’ll drop even my caveat.
But even with that, I would still support same sex marriage, though it will truly be a very cold day in a very hot place before my home state sees it.
My only concern at this point is if people who conscientiously disagree with same sex marriage, like Pastors, will be afforded the same protections and not have their freedom to speech attacked as a hate crime.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Patrick’s Saturday Six Episode 375

1. Where do you get the majority of your news: from the newspaper, the radio, the television or online?

The vast majority of my news I get online. Major stories I will usually first hear about as people comment on them in my Twitter feed.

2. Do you currently have a newspaper subscription that includes an actual paper delivery?

No. We occasionally buy a newspaper on Sunday if we see it has a bunch of coupons, but even those we are starting get online more.

3. What is usually the first website you visit in the morning?

Twitter. If you don’t consider that a website, and I can understand why you wouldn’t, then Google Reader.

4. Who is your favorite network news anchor?

I haven’t watched network news in years but I always liked Bill Sharpe and Dan Rather.

5. Who is your least favorite network news anchor?

Again, I haven’t watched in years, but I was never particularly fond of the narrative of Tom Brokaw, or Dean Stevens.

6. If newspapers converted to web-only sites, eliminating the physical paper, even at newsstands, would this bother you at all?

This wouldn’t bother me in the least, and I’m fairly certain its an inevitable event. Readership has been declining for years, and at some point advertisers will stop seeing a good return on their advertising dollars. Already many newspapers have closed or merged with larger operations to better defray costs. Even Charleston used to be able to support two papers, The Evening Post and the News and Courier. But they merged years ago into the Post and Courier.

News seems to move faster now and we have ways of keeping up with a story in near real time. The newspaper industry has been slow to adapt and adjust to changing technologies and the changing ways people get their news. It’s a tired analogy, but I think of the train industry. They came to believe they were in the business of moving trains, much like the newspaper industry came to believe they were in the business of selling paper, while what they really did was provide a service, either moving freight or disseminating news.

People don’t realize or don’t care the news was actually subsidized by advertisers. After so many years of getting news for ‘free’, it will be a difficult adjust to get people to decide to pay for their news through pay walls and the like.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Surprise I’m Already Published

As I opened my email today, I found a note from a friend congratulating me on being published. You can imagine my surprise. The link inside the email took me to Amazon’s website and two books. The author’s name was the same as my own except that this author was a Jr, and I’m a third, thus the TedtheThird moniker.

Both books were Sci/Fi / Christian. One was published in 2002, and the other in 2001. The 2001 book was actually a reprint of a 1980 book. I was eight years old when that book was published.

The thing is I don’t have a very common name, especially my last name. Yet, here is a guy with my name who has published two books. One book had one review on Amazon, the other had two. I can’t imagine they did really well with such few reviews. I wonder if I will have to be careful when I start querying to point out that I’m Ted A, no not Ted A, Jr., I’m Ted the third. I’ve often thought that maybe I would use F. Ted A as my pen name. It kind of sounds like F. Scott Fitzgerald. Maybe the association will cause some editor/agent to look favorably upon my work.

Well, one can dream.

Monday, June 13, 2011

On the Journey

As I was finishing up working on my Work In Progress last night I made an offhand comment to my wife.

"This book stubbornly refuses to write itself."

I mean wouldn't it be great if I turned the computer on one day and there it was, completely written in all its glory, a finished masterpiece. But after we laughed a little bit, it got me to thinking. It would actually be a bad thing if that happened because I would not have had the chance to learn all the lessons that writing the book will teach me. I'm still pretty new to this whole writing fiction thing, so I have a ton to learn.

And then I realized, I do the same thing with God. I ask him for all sorts of things to come to me fully packaged with a nice bow on top. Maybe you do, too. You ask for the job, or the house, or the girlfriend. But just like there is value in me sitting down night and night and writing word after word, sentence after sentence, there is value in the journey to the job, or house, or girl friend. God has stuff he wants us to learn along the journey that just waving his magic wand and making stuff appear like the State Farm commercial wouldn't help us learn.

God wants us to learn, and to grow. We only do that on the journey.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A New Direction

As you can tell by the lack of posting, I've reached something a blogging crisis on my new blog. Basically the problem is thus. Being a writer, I had set out to write a writers blog. What do writers blog about? Why they blog about writing, what else? The problem is that I really want this blog to not just be about me, and for me. I want the blog to help or entertain the people who visit it. I know, what a novel and noble concept. For that to happen, I sort of need to be able to give advice or instruction about the writing process, and seeing as I'm kind of new to this who journey myself, I don't have much advice or instruction to give. The best I can do is point you to others who are a) a lot smarter than me, and b) better writers than me. I could always try to parrot their stuff and call it my own, but that doesn't' seem very nice, or ethical. Darn having ethics!
So what to do. I really like blogging. I like putting my thoughts down on ‘paper ‘ as it were. My previous blog was a lot of fun. There's no way I can blog two to three times a week about writing. That just isn’t happening. Ultimately, I'd like to use my blog to connect to people all over the world wide web who share some common interest. I'd like to make some new friends and keep up with the old ones.
So this is what I've decided to do. I got the idea from a fantastic blog by Kristen Lamb on why writers shouldn’t blog about writing. Taking that advice, I’m going in a new direction. I'm not doing a Writing blog anymore. I am now doing a Ted blog. What topics can you expect on a Ted blog? I'm glad you asked. I will talk about whatever I'm passionate about, and because I'm a living, breathing, growing human being, those topics are likely to change from time to time. You can expect to read about Video Games, Movies, NFL Football, and being a Dad to tween and a baby. I'll also occasionally talk about what I'm learning about Writing, and how I'm growing in my relationship with God. Not everything will be of interest to you. I have some friends that I talk to about Sci-Fi, but they aren’t much into football. That’s okay.
What I hope is that you'll enjoy the blog, occasionally be informed, and always entertained.