Monday, January 28, 2013

Robert A. Heinlein's 5 rules of writing

Science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, long ago, came up with five simple rules for writing.  If you just Google this, you'll come up with plenty of websites where these are listed.  The following I found on one of Dean Wesley Smith's blog posts:

1) You must write.

2) You must finish what you start

3) You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order

4) You must put it out on the market

5) You must keep it on the market until it's sold

Let's expand on these a little, as I add my thoughts to the mix for clarification, even though the rules are simple.

1) (self-explanatory - if you wanted to be a pro football player, you'd better be throwing around the old pigskin.  Writing is no different)

2) I don't know how many people I meet tell me they've always wanted to write a book or have started.  Have they finished?  No.  Finish the damn book.

3) There should be no rewriting in the first draft while you're writing.  You WILL need to edit once the book is done.

4) You've spent all this time writing your story.  Spend a little time and find out where it should go--unless you're going to self-publish.  Then, if you do that, research ways to do it right.  Check out Joanna Penn's blog "The Creative Penn" for info on how to do this right.

5) If one place rejects you (assuming no self-pub right now unless that's the direction you now want to go) send it right back out.

Happy writing!  Keep writing!  Then, once it's edited, let it fly!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Happenings In The Outhouse 25-Jan-2013 / Am I really an outliner, or still a discovery writer?

As I wind down on this month and my list of short stories (nope I probably won't get all 10 completed, which I am okay with), I'm also preparing to write my new novella titled Guest of Honor.  I'm going to treat this as a NaNoWriMo project, which means for the month of February I have to write a minimum of 1,786 words a day for the 28-day month--that comes to 50,008 words for all of you math geeks out there.

A strange thing happened when I started preparing a little for it.  When I wanted to write down the characters' names and a little about the story, I felt this inner tug in my brain to quit.  Not quit writing.  Quit outlining.

I'm not an outliner and I really didn't consider it outlining, but in a basis sense that's what I was doing.  So I quit outlining.  Let's see how it works.  I have five completed novels, none of which I outlined.  I have dozens of short stories (10 of which I've selected to be worked on this month) and not a one was outlined.

So why start now?

Oh, don't worry.  I won't.  I'll write it like I always do . . . and it'll turn out great.

One last note.  Remember (I believe it was last week but don't quote me on it) I talked about researching for a new book, based on the recent Iraq War?  Well, since I don't have the time to interview any vets, and even if I found some I probably wouldn't know what to say to them anyway except to let them talk, I found a few books.  I won't post them here, but feel free to go to my Goodreads site to see which ones they are.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The George R. R. Martin Podcast

I stumbled upon this the other day--and I'm not really sure how I did it.  About the only conclusion I can come up with is that I was looking for any podcasts with George R. R. Martin in it . . . and I came upon this: The George R. R. Martin Podcast

I can't really say this has been added to the currently list of podcasts I listen to, simply because there are only eight podcasts and they were done back in October and November 2006.

However, despite them being roughly fifteen minutes long each, they are packed full of information.  He talks about his life, how he dealt with Hollywood, and even reads a little from one of his books.

So, for anyone who loves fantasy and/or George R. R. Martin, be sure to check out The George R. R. Martin Podcast.

Here's the full link below:

Friday, January 18, 2013

Happenings In The Outhouse 18-Jan-2013 / Slight change of tactics

As you can see, I've been making progress towards finishing the 10 short stories for the month of January.  However, as the month is a little over half over, I've come to the realization that I probably won't finish all ten before the month ends.

I've contemplated what I should do: finish the 10 short stories sometime in February or stop at the end of January and start the story Guest of Honor on February 1st.

I'm going with the latter.

Although I'd love to get the short stories done, I also want to make the commitment to start and finish the new story--a novella, I'm sure (that's between 17,500 and 40K words).  Aside from a few new short stories I wrote last year, this will be the first story I've written in 7-8 years.  What have I been doing in all that time, you may ask?  Editing my five completd novels, which is a long and demanding process, but one that I love to tackle.

One, of course, is done and queries to literary agents are being sent out.

Monday, January 14, 2013

My three calendars

I have three calendars in my office.  Monthly flip calendars, to be precise, not the large, poster-like yearly calendar--that would be a little silly if I did.  One is from Arizona, another is from UPS, and another one I was just given.

At first, I didn't know what I was going to do with three of them.  Then it came to me: I'll use them.

I have them arranged in such a way that the one on the left is the current month, then the other two are for the next two months: January, February, and March.

I have stickies on them too, with projects and goals set.

I do this so I can see what the next few months look like and can help plan what I have in the pipeline.  Will it work?

I don't know.  But I'm going to give it one hell of a shot.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Request for assistance (and see your name appear in a book!)

I put out a brief Twitter and Facebook request for my "followers and friends" with a slight dilemna.

This is strange for me because I normally keep a lot of this stuff to myself, but I wanted to see what would happen if I publically asked for assistance.

I have a new novel that I plan on starting to write in March 2013.  I will forego the name of it at this point, but it is an alternative history/military thriller set during the War on Terror--the one in response to the 9/11 attacks.

Aside from lengthy Wikipedia article, I put a request out to see if there were any books (fiction and/or nonfiction) I could read on the subject.

I've gotten a few responses, which basically said the same thing: interview a vet.

This may seem easy (I actually have a cousin in the National Guard who's been over in Iraq) but right now I don't know what I'm looking for.  That's why I thought a book may glean an answer.

What's in it for you?

I didn't say this in the Twitter/Facebook posts, but I plan on acknowledging those who assist in the book (first names only), and if I can work them in I could also name a character after them too.

Aside from interviewing a vet, does anyone have any books they can recommend?

Happenings In The Outhouse 11-Jan-2013 / Goals vs. Resolutions

I don't set New Year's resolutions.

I set goals.

What's the difference, you may ask?  They sound so much like the same thing.  In a way, they are but there's so much more to a goal that resolutions lack.

Resolutions have the feel that "oh I'm going to lose some weight" or "I'm going to make more money."

Goals are more concrete: specific and timely (i.e. I will lose 50 pounds by Christmas 2013).  Then, goals are broken down into how you're going to do it.

So, instead of setting resolutions that'll disappear by Valentine's Day, set goals.  You don't need a holiday to tell you to do so.  Just do it.  Set a goal (or many) today.

Then, plan on how you're going to do it.

What else have I been up to?  Writing, of course.  Blogging less, which is weird, but I find that I'm getting more of my other projects done--blogging less is one sacrifice (short-term, maybe?) I need to make at this point.

My goal for this month is to finish 10 short stories.  These are 10 short stories that have been written and are now being cleaned up (fancy term for editing the crap out of them).  Oddly enough, one is a short story that appeared in a regional publication in October 2007 AND appeared a few months before on the back page of the local newspaper.  Comparing the two now, there is very little salvaged from the original.

My literary agent search is still commencing.  No responses yet on several, which can be expected as they're just coming off of a holiday break and I'm sure their inbox is overflowing.  You just need patience for times like this.  Patience and an unrelentless pursuit to keep working on something new.

Here are some YouTube videos I found, from Stacey Cochran, a writer doing an agent search.  Now, keep in mind, these are timely and agent searches nowadays are more electronic, but I do remember the days of sitting at the dining room table and opening one rejection after another.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Write down your goals

From motivational speakers like Earl Nightingale and Zig Ziglar, they all say the same thing when it comes to setting goals.


Over the years, I seem to accomplish so much more when I write my goals down.  I did it for 2012, and it was great seeing my progress.  I have my goals for 2013 written down and tacked onto my office wall, so I can see it everyday.

It's an audacious list of 30 items, but some of them quite frankly are small and others I already do--one of them being to maintain my attendance at my tri-weekly writers' group.  I may pare down this list to weed out some of those, but for now I like looking over my list and planning out what I'm doing over the next few months.

Make sure your goals are written down.  Make your goals specific and within a time frame (i.e. I will lose 30 pounds by the 4th of July).

Then, get to it.  You can do it.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Happenings In The Outhouse 04-Jan-2013 / Short stories galore!

This month has been completely dedicated to short stories--well, that and searching for a literary agent, of course.

On the left side of my posts, I started a status of my progress towards finishing these 10 short stories: one of my major goals of the month.  One is complete, the one I have posted on this site titled "Salute."  Please read and provide any feedback, if you wish.  Also, the first five chapters of Beholder's Eye is there as well, so please feel free to read and provide feedback as well.  If you don't care to post any, you can always e-mail me at

Here's a funny video I found the other day - from the fine people at Geek and Sundry.  Enjoy!