Saturday, January 29, 2011

Nutrition for Writers

I may not be a nutritionist, but I know what works for me! And if it's good for me, then it must be good for everyone else.

What are the two basic food groups?

That's right: coffee and ice cream 

I will, at no cost, give you an exclusive license to use a mixture that I want us to call "The Ara"

This little piece of heaven will give you the sugar and coffee rush you need to konck out at least 2,000 words in one sitting!

[Note: This statement has not been verified by the FDA or Writer's Digest]

If you're going to use my recipe, you need to give me the name recognition. I was told that my brand was important. This is a good place to start. 

Speaking of starts, here we go:


Espresso - Please do not cheap out and use some instant coffee. One ounce please. Anything more, and it might as well be called colored water


Chill the Espresso - In the freezer she goes. For about 20 minutes. Don't let the dang thing freeze. Just make it cold.


Ice Creme - Vanilla ice cream. Once tight scoop. Don't overdo it. You really don't want to have that much ice cream. You want it to be just enough goodness.


Combine - Gently pour the chilled espresso on the vanilla ice cream.


Have At It - Don't share. Don't listen to Barney. When it comes to this, Sharing Is NOT Caring. It's just silly. You don't want to share your awesome, The Ara, with everyone. You can share the recipe, and my blog, but don't share the creation henceforth known as The Ara.

Here's the last part of the deal, if you like it, let me know. If you like it-like it then join my blog, or twitter account. I say a lot of cool stuff! At least, I think so.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

One Year Ago...

... I chose to dream

In January of 2010, I had a profound conversation with my alter ego. (I do that often. What can I tell you?)

"Ara," I said, and I listened intently. "In 2009 you worked on the craft. You wrote short stories, studied the craft, and experimented--a lot. It's time, little brother. It's time to give it a shot again at writing a novel."

This was a hard conversation for me to have. My first attempt had been painful -- 5 years painful. And when I was "done" it really sucked eggs. Stinky eggs. The good news was that in the stink, I discovered that I had made all the classic mistakes. Only up from there, right?

The planning began. I was searching for that brilliant idea. That one idea that no one has thought of. I stopped getting hair cuts, and even lost  some of my youthful features (sort of like the picture below)

I wrote notes, index cards, mind maps, you name it--I did it! None of it resonated with me. I started to think that maybe I don't have anything worth telling.

Then in May, I went on a business trip to Paris--French Open--the idea was born.

Here's the thing: I dared to think, to believe, that I can write a complete story. A story that I wanted to read. A story that I wanted to know how it would end. In eight weeks I wrote 70k words. I took a break, then came back to it. Worked with really smart readers and by Nov 1st I was done. I had my first, complete, manuscript at 94k words. I did it. I did what had not been available to me for more years than I want to admit.

Now, it's being shopped around. More on this later.

While I waited on agents, I started another story. You see, I was worried. What if I only had one good story in me? I love doing this? But can I do another one?

On Dec 21st a new idea came. Thirty two days later, I was done with a YA Paranormal story, today sitting at 65k words (the sweet spot for this genre, I am told).

One year ago, I dreamt. One year later, I have two stories I am proud of. One that I'm pitching to agents, and another that I will begin revising in about two weeks.

This brings me to one of my favorite excerpts:

"But when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money— booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence.

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!
- W. H. Murray, from The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951)

Dream it. 
Then Act on it. 
It's your dream. 
Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. 
Not even your alter ego.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Can I Handle the Truth?

Have you noticed that when you want to avoid something, all things in life help you avoid it. Even if it's something you really should do, and can do, and must do. But when doubt creeps in, you get creative in how many ways you will avoid it. I am so good at it that I actually get sick. Not easy things like rapid heart-rate, dizziness, and migraines, but real stuff like sneezing, coughing, and the flu.

I've been told by my blog readers, friends, a best-selling author, debut authors, and various others to post Chapter 1 of Aces on my site. As can be expected, I suddenly got ill. Coincidence? Me thinks no!

I've been avoiding this for some reason. And I guess it's a simple reason -- once it's out there, I will get opinions of strangers. It's true, people that I have not met, written to, or twitted with.

The thing is that I've been a happy dance so far. Once it's posted, how will I handle the negative, or lukewarm views.

I suddenly had a vision of the scene from A Few Good Men -- you know, "You can't handle the truth!"

That's when it hit me: at one point, I will also get the opinion of strangers. Agents, editors, and eventually (positive thoughts) readers of the novel.

This was a cathartic moment for me. Similar to when I was in 6th grade and I realized that life in school still marches whether I'm there or not. Weird, right?

So can I handle the truth? I don't know, but so what. I haven't know a lot of things in my life, and they've turned out okay.

  • I didn't know if I could write a novel -- I did. I'm now 40,000 words into the second one
  • I didn't know if my wife, the person who after all these years I'm still trying to impress, would like it -- she loved it
  • I didn't know if others would like it -- they have
  • I don't know if you'll like it -- I hope you do. But I can't win everyone over. My charm and firm handshake can go so far :)

Here's the link (Read me!)

You can also go to THE Novel - Aces tab above...

Post comments, send me emails, talk to me telepathically (my brain is most receptive between midnight and 2 AM). If you like it, share it, tell me, and tell others. If you don't, I will spam your inbox ;)


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

For Authors/Agents/Editors

Apple continues to listen to my telepathic requests. Thanks Steve!
Steve & I (you can call him Mr. Jobs) are like two peas in a pod!

We hang out all the time...
I'm the one in the cool hat
Anyway, I digress. I've been using a couple of tools with great success, and I thought to myself, "Self, I bet others could get value from this."

The tools: Scrivener 2.0, Apple iPad, iBooks v1.2

I am please to say when Apple released v.1.2 of iBooks, they did it for me! me-me-me! okay, so maybe a few million people will take advantage of it also, but don't get confused. It was for ME!

Are you an editor? Do you like to review manuscript on your iPad? Would you like to review it on your iPad? Would you like to take notes all over the manuscript and then send over all your comments and questions to your agent, your boss, a colleague, a client, yourself? Now you can.

Here's a quick tutorial

It all starts with Scrivener...
Come on! You're not all over Scrivener 2.0?  Even after I gave you TEN REASONS!
Tell them I sent you, and they'll charge you only $45!
I suppose you can use other conversion tools (Calibre, etc) but my experience is that Scrivener has the best conversion I've seen. Gwen Hernandez (@Gwen_Hernandez) has done a real nice job explaining how to Compile Scrivener projects here. So I won't repeat what she's done. Just know this -- it's dead simple and a spot-on accurate conversion of your manuscript.

1. Compile your manuscript in eBook format. Here's Scrivener's Compile Screen

Scrivener's compile to eBook format screen... Love!

You can even bling it up and add a snazzy cover!

    You will now have a document saved in eBook format.

2. Drag and drop the file in your iTunes:
It will end up in your "books" folder.. note my good taste in books!

3. Synch your iPad and check your iBooks bookshelf

4. Highlight and make notes in iBooks:

    All you do is place your finger on the word in question. If you want to select more than a word, just drag the hooks. Then highlight, or add a note.

     After writing the note, this is what you'll see on the manuscript's page

5. You can go to your bookmarks and see what you've done

6. And Export it to a printer or Email

I am not suggesting that this will in any way-shape-or-form replace copy editing. This is the higher level reading, when you see something that catches your eye and needs attention. This is a great way to spend some time in the coffee shop with your tablet and your favorite manuscript of all time... YOURS!

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