Writing Everyday

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Photo Credit: Shift Writing

I’ve been pretty vocal about my opposition to writers having to write everyday. And also to word count goals and a million things that other writers seem to think are necessary to be able to call yourself a writer. All because I managed to write a book by doing it my way. Well, my way hasn’t worked the second time around and I’m about sick of it. I still don’t believe in this whole write everyday business or word counts or any of that stuff, but I’m in need of a change of pace. Right now.

People tell me that not writing for nearly two months is nothing. But these people don’t realize that I wrote my first book in less than three months total. So again, it doesn’t matter if two months of not writing isn’t a long time to you, it’s more like an eternity to me. This is the longest I’ve been away from my characters since I created them. Not any more.

I’m not going to set any goals for myself in the coming days or weeks because this whole thing may prove useless. But I’m going to give it a shot. If I fail, then so be it. I need to at least try to get some writing done.

I know a number of you write everyday or most days or whatever it may be, but I don’t want to hear about it. What I do want to know is whether you’ve ever changed any part of your writing process. If yes, how did it go? Major failure. Success. What?

I’m an Inspirational Blogger? If you say so

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I was nominated a little while back for the Inspirational Blogger Award by Heather. Thank you. I’ve been nominated for a million awards by a number of bloggers, but I don’t always accept because who wants to read posts with random facts about myself and no real book stuff? I don’t even want to write those kinds of posts. But I’ll accept this one because it only requires seven random facts and I won’t be nominating anyone else because my favorite blogs don’t change and I’ve already nominated several of them just a short time ago.

Seven Facts

1. I hate people who talk with their mouth full. You’re probably thinking that everyone does. No. DO NOT do it in front of me. I will yell at you to shut the hell up. Not joking at all. Annoying and disrespectful all at once. Get out of my sight.

2. I’m always hungry. From the moment I wake up until I’m falling asleep. Whenever old people tell me that their teenage son or daughter eats a lot, this is me in my head, “You have no idea what it means for someone to eat a lot. I bet I eat double what they do.” Remember, bodybuilder over here.

3. I appear to be collecting a stash of Smoothie King cups at my desk. There are six cups here. Yikes. I get a smoothie everyday after the gym.

4. I love naps. I even have a fairly specific nap schedule.

5. I have no friends. Okay, just a small few. I’m perfectly fine with that because I don’t want to hear about anyone else’s problems, anyway. I do rather enjoy talking to some people. Some.

6. I was almost kind of popular when I was in fifth grade. First, I’d finally made it into the GT class, which was where all the popular kids were. Not kidding. And second, because there was this fitness test that I can’t remember what it was called…maybe Presidential Fitness Test, it was something. There was a White badge, a Red badge, and a Blue badge. Students’ fitness was tested in gym class via a number of predetermined exercises like push-ups or pull ups. Well, in my fifth grade year I was the only person with a shot at the Blue badge. I think it had to do with your height and weight or maybe your birthday? I honestly don’t remember, but I was the only one. I’d done everything I needed to get it until I got to having to run the mile. This was the most sure thing out of everything for me, I loved running back then. I needed maybe an 8:10 or 8:30. 0r it may have been just below 8:00. BUT when my class went out to run it, I had some breathing trouble and couldn’t possibly come up with the time needed for the Blue badge. Some amount of time later, my gym teacher had me do it again before school at like 7:00 in the morning. I ran a 7:13 mile and earned myself the coveted Blue badge. But there’s more. A list was kept in the gym of the best mile times in the history of the school and I’d made the list! Something like tenth or so. I left the school before I could ever actually see my name on there, but it was great knowing I’d made it. AND somehow or another when I went to my first class that day, EVERYONE knew about my mile running. I felt like a celebrity. It was nice.

7. I’ve had six best friends in my life. I’ll even name them for you. Larry. Terrance. Leslie. Lana. Lilly. Sydney. I no longer talk to any of them. Except Sydney, who of course is in my book. So I guess that means she’s my favorite? Yeah, I’d say that. She’s also the only one I trust. And she’s funny. And holy crap she’s about to be a nurse!

No nominations this time around, so that’s all I have for you guys!

Why are Protagonists Always Damaged in Some Way?

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Photo Credit: American Salon

Just a picture of my favorite protagonist in the history of all history to start this post.

I wanted to write this post from the perspective of a writer, but I soon realized that my perspective as a reader would force its way into the writing of this post, so you’ll get both. Let me tell you what I’m talking about when I say “damaged.” There is always something that the protagonist of a story has to deal with that makes a case more difficult to work or makes whatever goal s/he is trying to achieve that much more unattainable. But why is this? Why can’t characters be regular people who have to deal with something extraordinary during the course of the book?

In a very non-scientific analysis, I decided that I’d think of some of the series I read to see how many of the protagonists are broken in some way or another. I won’t name any of them, but let me tell what I came up with.

One guy’s mother is murdered when he’s a child and he becomes a detective. Decades later, the mother of his daughter is murdered during the course of an investigation.

Another guy is shot while on the job as a patrolman and the bullet is left inside of him due to its proximity to his heart. This is referred to in every book.

Another guy’s wife is murdered due to his work as a detective. Killer never apprehended.

Another guy’s wife is in broadcasting and after divorcing him, she starts to do whatever it takes to move up in her line of work. All while claiming she will always love him. He secures a Chief of Police job on the other side of the country after going to the interview drunk. The city figures they’ll be able to control an idiot.

Do you see my point? Sorry these are all detectives, but there are more examples I could point out from my own reading, but I have a post to write.

I’ve even been told that my character, Andrew Banks, is too squeaky clean and that he needs some damaged history, otherwise the reader is less likely to become invested in him. Huh? I mean, when I set out to write him (he’s me, which y’all should know) I did so wanting him to be different. Real. Not the guy with all the answers and being some expert at this or that. Just a regular guy who does his best at his job. And what did some of my readers say?

He’s independently wealthy.

He’s arrogant.

He’s a bad detective.

His relationship with Sydney is a joke.

He thinks he’s better as one person than an entire police department.

First off, none of these are correct. The only one that I think even warrants any kind of response is the first on the list. Some readers have come to their conclusion that he’s some rich guy parading around the city of Houston because of a very short list of things. He doesn’t charge his first client anything for working her case. He happens to wear a Polo once during the course of the book. And he doesn’t tell the reader constantly about not having any money.

I’m not going to explain away the notion that he’s independently wealthy because those are the things right there that readers have told me that make him appear so. If you think someone is wealthy because of that list, then your definition of wealth is not the same as any other. And you probably need to check your head for irregularities.

Back to my point, what makes a character more likeable just because s/he has a bad past? Because to me, a great character is a great character. Period. I won’t change my character to fit some literary expectation or whatever you want to call it, because he is who he is, and that’s all there is to it.

Amazon’s List of 100 Books Everyone Should Read: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia

First off, I KNOW you guys didn’t believe my whole thing yesterday about going to the World Cup. Come on. I work weekends. I don’t have anything remotely resembling a rich family or girlfriend/wife. So where the heck would I get the thousands of dollars I’d need to be traveling for two months? The lottery? No.

Back to this post. You guys might have forgotten that I decided to tackle all the books on this list when it was first released in February. This will be the fourth book I read from the list since then and the seventh book I’ve read from it overall. But enough with the pleasantries, you guys probably want to know what I thought of the book.

Fault in Our Stars

I know I don’t need to waste time telling you guys what the book is about because who hasn’t read this book, so I’m not. Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters meet at their cancer Support Group and everything that follows is nothing short of wonderful.

My Thoughts

I’m writing the rest of this under the impression that you’ve read the book, if not, this is your warning to turn your eyes away from the screen. Well, this book has a huge amount of hype going right now. For me, I think it was able to live up to it. Let me tell you the million and one things that I liked about it. LOVED Hazel and Augustus as characters, as a couple, as thinkers, basically everything about them. Loved Hazel’s approach to everything. Loved how they both could quote An Imperial Affliction like no tomorrow. Excuse the language, but I loved how amidst everything that was going on between her and Augustus and her illness, Hazel was able to call Peter Van Houten on his shit. Yes, of course it’s later revealed that he had a daughter who died of cancer at the so very young age of eight, and Hazel changed it up a bit from constantly yelling at him.

I realize my thoughts are just spilling out at random, but that’s okay. I thought it was seriously fantastic that Augustus Waters called her Hazel Grace throughout the entire book even though at the very start she told him just Hazel. And I thought it was great to see that Hazel rarely broke down for any reason during the book. I’m thinking when she lay in her backyard in front of the swing set and of course after Augustus died. Both times guess who ultimately cheered her up, Gus.

Lastly, you all are probably wondering if I cried even though I’ve mentioned that I’m a notorious cryer when reading books. Yes. Just once, at the very end as Hazel is reading what Gus sent Van Houten before he died. This was the line that got me for some reason. I was at 98% on my Kindle.

“-I was wondering if you could write a eulogy for Hazel. I’ve got notes and everything, but if you could just make it into a coherent whole or whatever?”

He was dying and he knew it, and he STILL couldn’t stop thinking about Hazel. I mean, seriously, how freaking great is that? So yes, I cried the whole time as Hazel read what Gus so eloquently wrote to Van Houten about her.

You guys may or may not remember that I rank all the books I read. The books from the Amazon list rank as follows: Anne Frank is #1, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is #22, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is unranked, and this one comes in at #13 just behind The Hunger Games on my list.

Now if only I could find a girl who’s read this book, then maybe I might go see the movie.

Oh, and tell me Hazel Grace Lancaster isn’t the greatest name in the history of ever.

Last Post Until August

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Photo Credit: BostInno

It’s going to be about two months until my next post on here. Hopefully you’ll find your entertainment and book related news elsewhere during my extended absence. You’re probably wondering why I won’t be blogging for nearly two months. Well, I’m sure some of you have seen my Bookish Bucket List on here, right? I have a real bucket list and very near the top of it is to attend a World Cup. Now that I have the opportunity to go I figure I might as well get it out of the way because who can up and travel across the world when they work full-time or have a family?

So by the time you read this I’ll likely be touching down in Brazil. Now you’re probably wondering why can’t I just keep blogging from there. Because I’m going to Brazil for the World Cup, not to continue my same routine I have here at home. I don’t see the point of that. I currently have tickets to four games and hopefully will be able to see a few more while there, all depends on ticket situations.

The World Cup ends on July 13, and immediately after I’ll be flying to Europe to get more bucket list items out of the way. Sistine Chapel. Pantheon. And others. I’ll likely just try to see everything I possibly can because this is a once in a lifetime kind of thing.

Lastly, you all know I enjoy blogging quite a bit, but this is the World Cup, there really is no comparison.

See you in August!

Abandonment

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Photo Credit: Michelle Cooper

One of the things I’ve mentioned on here a few times is that I hate not finishing books once I’ve started reading them, but sometimes it just has to happen. I’m kind of talking about that practice today, but from the perspective of a writer. How does one know when to abandon a story that’s been in progress for months?

Those of you who talk to me on Twitter or on here in the comments know that I haven’t been writing at all lately. I’ve become the person who spends more time blogging about writing than actually writing. But I’m okay with that. The problem rests in the fact that I’m currently not writing because I don’t want to. It has nothing to do with writer’s block or not knowing where the story is going or anything at all besides me.

If you asked me right now what I think of the story I’ve written in my current WIP I would be completely honest with you and say that I think it’s leaps and bounds ahead of my first book. But for whatever reason, I just haven’t enjoyed writing it. I think the story’s premise is solid. I think what’s happening between my two main characters alongside the main story is solid. And I think the conflict I’ve introduced is something we can all recognize as not very far from reality in today’s world. With all that being said, the manuscript currently sits at roughly 30,000 words, the same point at which it’s been for something like five weeks now. If this was the first time I’d gone this long without writing, then okay, but it isn’t. I’ve done this like three times during the course of the eight months I’ve been “working” on it. That’s a long time not writing.

Now let me finally get to the point of the post. I’d like to know when you all would decide that it’s time for something new to work on. At which point in time would you abandon the story for something maybe you’re looking forward to actually writing? The thing with me is that I refuse to leave it behind for something else. Why? Because much the same as with reading a book, I know I won’t go back. I may not be actively writing, but it is still important to me that I finish this. If you knew the story, you’d know that.

Have you ever stopped working on a project before reaching its completion? If yes, why?

Saturday Selects: The perfection we all know as Jennifer Lawrence

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Each time I write one of these posts, I feel obligated to let the newbies to my blog in on what exactly they’re all about. My Saturday Selects series of posts occur on the first Saturday of each month and cover a topic that is unrelated to books that I feel like writing about. This time around I’m going to tell you all about the wonderful Jennifer Lawrence.

Now I sincerely hope that you need no further introduction besides her name, although I had one person comment on my About Me page just a couple of weeks ago congratulating me on my marriage to Jennifer. Folks, this is a dream and if it ever came true I’d leave all of you in a minute because I wouldn’t be able to spend more than eight seconds away from her side. So, since there are some people in the world who have no idea who one of the most famous actresses in the world is, let me rattle off a few of her major movies that most people would instantly recognize her from. X-Men: First Class. X-Men: Days of Future Past. The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I really shouldn’t have to go any further. Silver Linings Playbook. American Hustle. Okay, there are a few more movies, but these are the big boys of the group. If you still have no idea who she is, then just leave now.

Let me tell you about how I came to fall in love with this woman. It was a dark and stormy night, wait, just kidding, It was 2012. I had just finished reading The Hunger Games just days before the movie’s release. Remember, before I read the book I had no idea what the series was about or that there was going to be a movie or anything at all. I just knew my brother kept telling me to read the damn thing. So I eventually did. I’ve finished the book and for some reason did a little Google searching about it and discover this smoking hot blonde who is set to be Katniss in the upcoming theatrical release. I had no idea who she was. I hadn’t seen the first X-Men movie, nor was there any name recognition. Guess what I did first? I texted my brother who had gotten me to read the book and told him that this Jennifer Lawrence person was NOT Katniss. Way too sexy. Way too sexy. Way too sexy. Okay, maybe I didn’t type it exactly like that, but it was something similar. I pictured Katniss as a girl who looked like she’d had a tough life. Who was rarely happy. And who was stronger than anyone I’d probably ever met. Jennifer Lawrence looked like she belonged on the cover of a magazine or something.

Oh but what a difference a movie makes. I saw the first movie on its release day, of course, and fell in love. Jennifer Lawrence was Katniss just as much as I’m me. I left the theater that day knowing what I had to do. I had to find out everything I possibly could about Jennifer Lawrence. And I have.

In my opinion, though I’m sure some of you may disagree, she doesn’t act how you might expect someone to act in her position. In a few short years she’s become a superstar in Hollywood. What I mean is that you can Google search any interview she’s done in recent years and she’s herself in every single one of them. She’s sarcastic, hilarious, obnoxious, and even blunt at times. She doesn’t act like she’s better than anyone, she makes fun of herself all the time, AND she’s a great actress. How can you not be in love with her?

The one thing that I’ve heard more recently than ever before is that perhaps we’re getting tired of her act. That she’s had her time as America’s sweetheart and now we’re moving on to someone who doesn’t act or speak the way she does. The name I’ve seen as her replacement is Lupita Nyong’o. I think she’s great, but no. If people want to claim that it’s all an act that has run out of steam with the public, then that’s fine. But let’s not forget that she’s as sure a bet as there is for consistently great acting performances. I don’t think we’ll be forgetting about her anytime soon.

If you’re wondering at my reaction to her Oscar win in 2013, this was it, “YEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH.” No sarcasm or exaggeration. And yes, I was on my feet. Lastly, if I ever met her somehow, let me tell you what would happen. First, I would cry. Second, my heart would stop beating. Third, she would revive me using CPR. Then we’d get married and Mr. Hoult would be out of a female companion.

I’ll leave you with some pictures.

Oh my goodness. In looking for pictures of my main lady for you all, I found one of those things where they merge the faces of two people. It was her and Emma Watson and holy mother of perfection, I couldn’t look away!

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Jennifer Lawrence poses at the 85th Academy Awards nominees luncheon in Beverly Hills

Seriously guys, tell me this last picture isn’t BEYOND any word there is to describe physical appearance. Stunning. Gorgeous. Breathtaking, Beautiful. Sexy. No. None of them are adequate. Simply perfection, in more ways than one.

Something More Important than Books

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Today is the 70th anniversary of something, do you know what it is? I hope so, if not, well whatever.

Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Please tell me you at least know the very basic premise of what happened now that I’ve said that. It was the start of the Allied invasion of France via the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 during World War II. I believe it is still to this day the largest amphibious invasion in history.

You’re probably wondering why I decided to post about this and not something about books today. I’m doing so because there are some events that we need not forget. Who doesn’t know about Lexington and Concord? Or Independence Day. Or Gettysburg. Or President Lincoln’s assassination. Or Pearl Harbor. Or September 11. As far as American history is concerned, the events that took place on the dates I’ve mentioned are as unforgettable as it gets. And there are others, but the point is that no one really considers D-Day to be one of these dates that should never go unknown to any generation.

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t know what happened that day or maybe you’ve never even heard the date, then I ask that you do one thing that will give you just a little perspective. Take a look at this map of Nazi Germany. Just about the whole of Continental Europe is under their control.

WWII War Map

Imagine that. A single foreign power having the ability to take over an entire continent, and Europe at that. The thing that people may not realize is that had just a couple of events gone differently during the course of the war, if Churchill had surrendered rather than watch London destroyed day after day, or Hitler had sent his men into Moscow to take over the capital rather than into Stalingrad in an apparent ego trip, then who knows what might have come next. If you know a little about the war like I do, then you know Churchill never surrendered even with London in ruins and the Red Army was able to stop Germany’s advance once the cold Russian winter hit. Had these two events played out differently and Hitler faced no more resistance in Europe, then an invasion of America would be inevitable. You’re probably thinking Pearl Harbor happened. That wasn’t an invasion. That was an attack with a very specific purpose, destroy the Pacific fleet.

But this post isn’t meant to be a history lesson because I know some of you will already know all of this. The invasion of France on D-day only happened because the Allies decided that Stalin had to become their ally if the war was to be won. According to what I’ve read, he agreed to help the Allies with Japan while the Allies agreed to help him with Germany, thus the invasion of German occupied France. This was the turning point of all turning points in any war. The invasion would not be called off and massive casualties were expected, but it was either this or let Hitler run wild and do whatever he wanted.

Very long story short, the invasion was successful and the Allies made their way across Europe over the course of the next ten months, ultimately ending the war with Germany. And of course the war with Japan a few months later by dropping the first and only nuclear bombs in history.

Now you might be wondering why I believe you all should know about this. Because it’s an historic event in the course of all human history, not just for Germany or France or the UK or the United States, but for everyone. The world would no doubt be a different place had the invasion been unsuccessful. It would have been a debilitating loss for the Allies that may not have allowed for another attempt to enter continental Europe for years into the future.

One last point that I want to make for you guys. Have you ever taken a look at the list of federal holidays? If not, you can do so here. You’ll find that there are only two holidays that are religious, right? Christmas and Thanksgiving. These should not be included on the list and should be on the list of other religious holidays that are recognized by the government, but not necessarily federal holidays. Why? Because what about the whole separation of church and State? But I guess it doesn’t apply to major Christian holidays. Anyway, these should be taken off the list and three should be added. June 6, September 11, and December 7. D-Day, the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and the day a foreign power attacked America. Every one of these dates represents a moment in our nation’s history that should not be forgotten.

I’ve read that the most accurate depiction of what took place on the beaches of Normandy may be the opening sequence from the movie Saving Private Ryan. Skip to the 5:00 mark and it’ll put you at the start of the fighting. I warn you, it’s graphic.

Photo Credits: Do You Know About

Wikipedia

How Important is a Creative Writing Degree?

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Photo Credit: Write Writing

I also mean English degree because that seems to be a popular major for many writers, though I never truly considered it myself.

There are millions of writers around the world, right? Some can churn out great book after great book with their eyes closed. But some, like myself, struggle to finish a single manuscript. If I could make a list of all the writers out there based on talent, I’d put myself right in the middle in the group that is just barely able to write a full length novel. Because let’s face it, everyone most certainly does not have that one novel in them.

This is where that creative writing or English degree come in. One might assume that these writers have a leg up on those with no degree at all or those with a non-writing degree. You guys should know by now that my degree is in criminal justice. I’ve never taken any kind of creative writing class, though I did think of it during my last couple semesters. This means there are probably a million and one things that I have no knowledge of when it comes to writing. I mean, I read blog posts just about everyday about setting, character arcs, dialogue, plotting, description, and a hundred other things about writing a story that I can’t think of off the top of my head. I assume these things have been learned by all these writers along the way, but the thing is that I honestly don’t know anything about any of this stuff. While I’m writing I’m not thinking about any of these things. I just sit down and write and something gets put to paper.

I know that most other writers are not only better writers, but significantly more knowledgeable than I am. They also may not think of any of the things I mentioned above, but that’s because they already know what they’re doing with this whole writing thing. I’m still years and books and thousands upon thousands of words away from having the faintest idea.

Now my question to you, because what good would a post be without a definitive question? If you have a creative writing or English degree, how important do you think it is to your writing? If not, how did you come to learn all that you know about writing? I currently know nothing at all.

My Take on Critique Groups

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Photo Credit: The Wild Writers

First off, I have no real take on critique groups because I’ve never been a member of one. But it’s one of those things that many writers have likely thought about at some point whether they’ve been involved in a group or not.

For me, I think it would be the one thing that would actually motivate me to get some writing done. Because if the group is meeting once a week or every two weeks and you’re expected to bring some of your writing for critique, then there would be no hiding the fact that you’re not writing. I mean, it wold be easy to not go, but then what would be the point of joining in the first place if you’re not going to utilize the other writers in the group, right?

I found one in Houston a long time ago before I’d even finished my first book, but decided against joining because there were membership dues when meetings were always at someone’s house. Forget that.

Anyway, now I’d like to know what good joining a critique group has done for you and your writing. You may even convince me to join one myself.