Fiction that explores the monsters and strangers among us.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Writing Prompt #6

Prompt: When Martie caught the grunge…

4 Minute Timed Writing Result
When Martie caught the grunge, Blimslammer didn’t understand her immediate needs but caught on quickly when Martie slammed the bathroom door in his face.

“On Triffedoink, we  use 100% of our consumption so the grunge doesn’t exist,” said Blimslammer.

“Well, we need a private moment here on earth platform G7 and the artificial gravity really doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, so now I’ll need a shower, won’t I? So you go find something to do while I clean up.”

“Okay. No worries. I’ll make dinner.”

*************************
I would be honored if you chose one of my novels for your next Amazon reading experience by clicking here. If you do, please let me know how you enjoyed it by commenting below or on Amazon. I also enjoy hearing from readers. Click here for my email which is paul dot lloyd dot author at gmail dot com. (Thanks for taking time to figure out that email address so I don’t have to worry about the spider bots getting me.)

Be sure to click on the BOGO button above for my latest buy one, get one free book offer.

Monday, November 28, 2016

What Are Your Business Passions?

Blog Your Way to a Book Series #3

Writing a book about your business expertise? Start by making a list of the things you might write about as blog posts. Later, you’ll gather the blog posts into a book. Business activities to place on your list:
  • Favorites that you are passionate about
  • Things you have special knowledge or experience about
  • Significant problems you have solved
  • New innovations you developed
  • Ways you improved existing methods
  • Anything else that interests you
Write your list and save it for future reference, but before you do, choose one topic that most appeals to you. This may be a tough decision, but you’re up to the challenge. Ask a few associates to choose one from your list that best describes what you know or do best. Often your colleagues and customers know your business expertise better than you do. Once you’ve gathered the list and surveyed your network, pick one topic to be the main focus of your book. The other items on the list will be useful as supporting material for your main topic.

With a topic in mind, think about a theme. Your theme is the main idea or underlying principle behind your book’s topic. For example, the topic of Jim Egerton’s book, Business on the Board, is how to deploy effective strategies and tactics in managing your business, functional area or department. His theme is: Use chess to guide your business decision making.

Once you have a topic and a theme in place, answer the following question: What is the wildest or most unexpected thing you can say about your topic?

Make a list of wild and unexpected statements about your topic and theme.  Don’t worry about whether they are true or false at this point. The idea is to circle around your topic and theme to give your book a sense of direction. Think of this exercise as a way to fine tune your topic and theme or test it to see if it passes the “Who cares” test.

Have fun. And if you would like my coaching help, post a comment below or click here to contact me at paul dot lloyd dot author at gmail dot com.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Buzzsaw Brain Training

The mind is like a buzzsaw, it can rip and tear, hurt or maim. It can kill a relationship. Put a break on your buzzsaw ways by thinking before you speak or act. Attach a brake to your mind to achieve a quality work life as part of a successful family and career. It all starts with work life balance.

If you try to feed wood into a buzzsaw improperly, the saw will jamb or the wood will be kicked out and thrown across the room, or it could be sucked into the blade and drag your hand with it before you can let go.

A brain works the same way. Thoughts are like pieces of wood. If you feed thoughts through your brain properly, you will have good things to say – uplifting things – funny things – happy things – compassionate things – consoling things – profitable things.

If you feed thoughts through your brain in the wrong way – evil thoughts will kick out – you may say unkind things – hateful things – degrading things – sad things – unprofitable things.

Train your brain. It’s like a muscle. It gets stronger with exercise. You will grow with it. Your spirit will grow with it also.

Here’s my contribution to brain training: Click on my BOGO page above, and you’ll discover how to purchase one of my novels or short stories and then receive The Case of the Knife-Tossing Networker: 12 Mysteries Requiring Deductive Reasoning for free. This 154-page PDF ebook includes a Special Bonus: The first 9 chapters of Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters. Not only will you exercise your brain by demonstrating your skills in using the Internet to make a purchase, but you’ll also stretch your mind as you try to solve each of the 12 mysteries that require you to use deductive reasoning to figure out whodunit. No worries about solving the mysteries because I provided the answers for you in case you become stumped. ACT NOW because it’s free with a purchase and an offer like this is not here to stay.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Favorite Halloween Posts

As it turns out, I haven’t posted a scary story on Halloween on the blog. Instead, here are three past posts for your consideration for your Halloween reading.

Not Just Any Ghost
Rediscovering the Ring
How can a Christian write a story where a character commits a murder?

Among my novels, Hags, Steel Pennies and the Snpgrdxz series should tickle your scary bone. Save Fulfillment for your Christmas season reading.

I would be honored if you chose one of my stories for your next reading experience. If you do, please let me know how you enjoyed it by commenting below or on Amazon. I also enjoy hearing from readers at my author’s email address which is paul dot lloyd dot author at gmail dot com. (Thanks for taking time to figure out that email address so I don’t have to worry about the spider bots getting me.)

Be sure to click on the BOGO button above for my latest buy one, get one free book offer.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Writing Prompt #5

Prompt: Gather your woolens, mateys, there’s a storm a brewing.

4 Minute Timed Writing Result
Gather your woolens, mateys, there’s a storm a brewing.
Be there pirates and buccaneers, Cap’n Hightrousers?
I’ll take a dozen.
A dozen what?
Ears of that corn there. Buck a piece, right?
What are you talking about?
You said buck an ear. Here you go, matey.
Prices are high this summer. What happened to saving money at the farmers market?
In Naperville? You’ve got to be kidding me.

*************************

I would be honored if you chose one of my stories for your next reading experience. If you do, please let me know how you enjoyed it by commenting below or on Amazon. I also enjoy hearing from readers at my author’s email address which is paul dot lloyd dot author at gmail dot com. (Thanks for taking time to figure out that email address so I don’t have to worry about the spider bots getting me.)

Be sure to click on the BOGO button above for my latest buy one, get one free book offer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Squeeze Out the Cider

The cider press is painful to the apple, but joyful for the juice. Maintaining a work life balance works the same way. You seek a quality work life yet find it often puts the squeeze on you as you attempt to maintain your family and career.

Cider is the liquid essence of all that is good and sweet in an apple. In the same way, you are put through the cider press of life which is always a painful experience while you are undergoing the pressure of the press. However, it is joyful to be on the other side of the press, a transformed soul for the Lord. Take care that you do not spoil and lose your sweetness, but if you do, then even vinegar has its work to do in the purification of God’s people.

What is your joy today? Is it the joy of working? Or parenting? Or studying? The greatest joy and therefore the greatest challenge in life is blessing others. It’s counter intuitive. We naturally think of ourselves, our needs, our wants and our desires. Ayn Rand called this the “virtue of selfishness,” but Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Self-centered thinking is easy since all you have to do is focus on the person you love most – yourself. It’s not easy to turn that thinking around to bless others.

In my younger years, I focused almost entirely on myself. As I matured, I learned that it was good to love others and to bless them with my gifts. Today, I seek to bless others through my smile where once I never smiled, a kind word where once I was silent, or a friendly hug where once I kept to myself.

………………………………………………
Here’s another blessing for you. Try Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters. It’s book 1 of my new time travel adventure series available in ebook and paperback formats. Both qualify for my BOGO so be sure to click on the BOGO button above so you can obtain two full-length books for the price of one. The second book is The Case of the Knife-Tossing Networker: 12 Mysteries Requiring Deductive Reasoning. This 154-page PDF ebook is not available on Amazon or other book sales outlets.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Are You an Expert?

Blog Your Way to a Book Series #2

When you publish a book, you automatically qualify as an expert because… well… you wrote the book, didn’t you?

But how do you attain the confidence that you are an expert in the first place? Begin by understanding the two kinds of experts:

Knowledge experts: people who carry most of the needed information around inside their heads as a result of education and experience. Physicians fall into this category as do other professionals like lawyers and accountants. You already have a certain amount of knowledge expertise thanks to your education and business experience so you bring at least some of this kind of expertise to your book. You may even bring a lot of this type of expertise to your book project. But either way, you will want to use the other kind or expertise as well.

Research and Reporting Experts: People who research a topic and then report on their findings are experts. College professors fall into this category. For example, a philosophy professor has researched the world of philosophy to the extent that he or she now has a Ph.D. in the subject. The information the professor shares in their philosophy classes is derived from their research and learning experience. They also bring some of their original thinking to the class, but most of the “facts” are derived from research. You have this kind of expertise whenever you learn something through a Google search or a grad school class. You will use this kind of research and reporting in the process of writing your book.

When you combine your knowledge, experience and research, you build the base of knowledge needed to write your book. You also want to add your own insights, opinions and recommendations to the mix of expertise deployed in a book writing project.

Think about the know-how you have acquired through your education and experience. Make a list of things you know well and then review it to see if it points you in the direction of a topic you’d like to write about. Have fun. And if you would like my coaching help, post a comment below or contact me through my company’s info@ email address at ironlayersecurity.com.

Monday, October 3, 2016

What to Read For

Read Like a Writer Series #2

For your personal reading, try a balance of classical literature and modern. The authors of the classic novels will teach you about stories that hold their appeal over the generations. The current bestselling authors will teach you about the kind of writing that succeeds today. 

The first time you read a story, enjoy it. If you like the story, study the plot to learn how the author builds the story to a climax by ratcheting up the suspense as the story moves forward. 

What problems keep the main character from success? What is the big issue the main character has to deal with in the story? This problem will be so big that it starts early in the story and isn’t solved until the climax. What is the main character’s secret problem – so secret he or she isn’t even aware of it? This problem will be psychological rather than physical. This hidden problem also takes the whole story to develop, reveal and solve.

Study the way the author develops the characters. How do they change as the story progresses? Observe the author’s voice in the story. What is unique or special about the way the author writes? What’s the theme of the story? Did you spot multiple themes?

Read the story several times until you understand how the author created it. Consider what works and what doesn’t work. For the classics, ask if the story would be published by today’s publishers? Consider what makes a classic a “forever” story.

I would be honored if you choose one of my stories for your next reading experience. If you do, please let me know how you enjoyed it by commenting below or on Amazon. I also enjoy hearing from readers at my author’s email address which is paul dot lloyd dot author at gmail dot com. (Thanks for taking time to figure out that email address so I don’t have to worry about the spider bots getting me.)

Be sure to click on the BOGO button above for my latest buy one, get one free book offer.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Writing Prompt #4

Prompt: Bridgette fell from the…

4 Minute Timed Writing Result
Bridgette fell from the larger of the two sunflowers. How she happened to be up there, while something of mystery in regards to the why part of it, was easy to explain in terms of the how. Gilplaster’s ladder leaning against the stem of the 40 ft. plant explained that to everyone’s satisfaction except Principal Parsons who insisted the ladder needed dusting for fingerprints before he would believe anything. Bridgette had "ladder polishing" on her job description so naturally her fingerprints were all over the ladder, but this held no sway with Principal Parsons.

*************************

I would be honored if you chose one of my stories for your next reading experience. If you do, please let me know how you enjoyed it by commenting below or on Amazon. I also enjoy hearing from readers at my author’s email address which is paul dot lloyd dot author at gmail dot com. (Thanks for taking time to figure out that email address so I don’t have to worry about the spider bots getting me.)

Be sure to click on the BOGO button above for my latest buy one, get one free book offer.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fill a Box with Your Thoughts

A quality work life is essential to success, but we need to consider our family and career. This article looks at one aspect of work life balance using the image of a box as a container for your thoughts.

The thoughts are all jumbled in the thought box. They need to be organized. They are a confused, bunch of ideas. Organize your thinking so that there is no confusion. Take out each piece of crumbled up thought and organize it according to a plan.

Some thoughts can be filed one way, some another. Some can be cross-referenced and duplicated. Redundancy is good in thinking because it helps you retain the message.

Start a real thought box. Whenever you think of something, write it down and add it to your thought box. Then with a box full of thoughts you won’t be so thoughtless.

When the thoughts pile up big enough, organize them. The thoughts represent a blessing to you in the form of ideas, opportunities and solutions to problems. The important thing is to not be so thoughtless. Then you too can become a blessing among God’s people.

Have fun watching your thoughts grow. Fill the box with joy. Receive the ideas with gratitude and then share them with others. Go in peace.

Another Thought
Try clicking on my BOGO (Buy One, Get One Free) page above. Purchase one of my novels or short stories and receive The Case of the Knife-Tossing Networker: 12 Mysteries Requiring Deductive Reasoning. This 154-page PDF ebook includes a Special Bonus: The first 9 chapters of Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters.

Monday, September 26, 2016

No More Football

We are one nation under God. Let’s keep it that way. We can disagree on religion, politics and just about any other topic you can think of. You can divide us into categories based on what we look like, where our ancestors came from, what we believe, what we read, what we watch or in any other way you choose. BUT we are all Americans and we stand united as one nation.

To symbolize our unity as a nation, we have chosen a flag of 50 stars and 13 stripes. It’s red, white and blue. When our precious flag waves it means we are still the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” Anyone who desecrates the American flag or refuses to honor it during the playing of our national anthem disrespects what America stands for.

America is not a perfect place. No country is perfect. It’s right to protest when you believe you have been wronged or when you feel a disenfranchised group needs to raise its voice. But when the flag is raised and our national anthem is played, we should all stand together as one. One of the best examples of this unity in diversity concept has traditionally been our sports events. Two teams, bitter enemies, stand together as Americans to honor the flag and our national anthem before the game begins. There are plenty of opportunities to protest or express your personal beliefs without seeking to break the bond of unity that is our nation.

With the recent decision of professional football players to dishonor the anthem, I have decided to dishonor the sport of professional football by no longer watching the game on television or attending any professional games. You are invited to join me in this protest.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Write That Book!

Blog Your Way to a Book Series #1

Writing a business book is one of the scariest of activities. Yet, becoming an author is often the key to opening the door to promotions and new job offers, launching a new business, taking a local business global, and increasing sales. Along the way, your book project becomes the means for taking your expertise to a new level through research and learning opportunities associated with your book project.

But Paul, book writing is such a huge project!
You can handle it because you’re not going to sit down and write a book. You’re busy and you don’t have the time in today’s fast paced world. What you do have time to accomplish is a blog. With enough planning upfront, you can turn your blog posts into a book. Think what you can do with a 15-minute daily commitment. And if you find you have more time on your hands for the writing process, you can speed the whole thing up and get your book to market faster.

How book is a book?
Books in the traditional book store sense can run to several hundred pages. But with the Internet, people are self-publishing ebooks of a much shorter length. With planning, you can write a series of small books and later combine them into one large book so you don’t have to wait for long before you have your book up on Amazon. And you do it by first writing blog posts.

Hey, Paul, I don’t know what to write about.
You may feel that you are no expert like those national gurus who come around making speeches and selling lots of books and six-figure consulting gigs. Guess what? Those folks didn’t start out as experts either. They became specialists when they combined their knowledge and experience with a boatload of research needed to write a book about their topic. And they don’t think of their book as an educational tool for a grad school class. Instead, they use it like a company brochure or business card to minimize or eliminate their competition.

I’ll write more about what it means to be an expert in the next post in this series. In the meantime, start thinking about your area of expertise. What would make a good book topic for you? And begin having fun by outlining and writing about your book idea. And if you would like my coaching help, post a comment below or contact me through my company’s info@ email address at ironlayersecurity.com.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Read Like a Writer

Read Like a Writer Series #1

In high school and college literature classes you are taught to read like a critic. In criticism, you are concerned about how the novel, short story or poem fits into the long history of literature. To understand the book you are reading, you want to first have an understanding of the main currents in English and American literature. As part of this study, you will learn about story structure, but the main focus is on the way the story fits with other stories in the same genre or school of literature.

Writing a story is about constructing a story that hooks your interest and holds it to the end. The more the writer knows about literary tradition, the better the writer will be at producing a story consistent with past trends in literature. But the main issue for the writer is crafting an interesting story rather than its literary merit. To put this in perspective, I have heard too many literature professors over the years say something along the lines of: “We know a good story when we read one, but we can’t always tell why it’s good.” That’s a critical opinion. A writer on the other hand better know what makes a good story good or he or she won’t be able to write a good story.

This blog series is about how to read a novel or short story like a writer writes a story. The first rule in reading a story is to simply enjoy it. If it’s no fun to read, then it’s okay to not finish it. An author has to earn your reading time by holding your interest.

Rule number 2 in reading a story is on you. You are allowed to stop reading at the words THE END and move on to another story. However, if you ever wondered how the writer “did it.” That is, how the writer got you excited about the story and moved you in some way, then you want to turn back to the beginning of the story and take another look. This series is about what to look for when you take that second look. Over time you will learn to see some of these things the first time around, but it’s always okay to take a second look at a favorite story. And a third, a fourth, a fifth, etc. It’s up to you.

I would be honored if you chose one of my stories for your next reading experience. If you do, please let me know how you enjoyed it by commenting below or on Amazon. I also enjoy hearing from readers at my author’s email address which is paul dot lloyd dot author at gmail dot com. (Thanks for taking time to figure that email address out so I don’t have to worry about the spider bots getting me.)

Be sure to click on the BOGO button above for my latest buy one, get one free book offer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Are you a big wheel?

Work-Life Balance Series

Picture an auto tire mounted on a fancy wheel with golden spokes. Notice how the spokes crisscross each other. The spokes are gold, the tire is black. The overall effect is of an upscale wheel fit for a driver who appreciates the finer things. People who drive cars with spoked wheels can afford anything they want.

Look at the spokes carefully. See how they crisscross? On the job, your team crisscrosses like this when they share responsibilities. When your team works in harmony like this, it’s a beautiful sight to behold. When your team fails to act together, the results won’t hold air and your project will go flub... flub... flub down the road until it comes to a halt. The team achieves nothing.

Be careful how your work team crisscrosses its roles. The person who is best at a certain task should be the one who performs that task. It’s okay to crisscross roles on occasion but don’t overdo it. Switch roles to help each other carry their burdens.

Now, a product that looks like a high-priced wheel is fit for the carriage set. Price such a product high because they are willing to pay. You might not sell as many of these products, but your financial return on each one will be great. Which of your products is the high price one with the crisscrossed golden spokes? How much do you want to charge for it? It’s okay to be outrageous with the pricing of one of your products. It will make the others seem a better buy and you will sell more of those.

Do you want to give one product away? Double the price of another to earn back the money you lose through the giveaway. The other products are to be priced progressively in-between.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Where to find story ideas worthy of your writing time


What do you like to write about? As the brand statement in my banner above states, I focus on writing "Fiction that explores the monsters and strangers among us.” I also write nonfiction on assignment from companies and individuals, especially those who want to publish or self-publish their own business books. But fiction is what I love to write because, at heart, I’m a story teller. The “monsters and strangers” bit comes from something that happens almost every time I create a story. A monster shows up or a weird person pops in who definitely fits the definition of “stranger” that your mother warned you to stay away from.

There’s an old song with the line “Love is Strange” recorded by Mickey & Sylvia. The title is especially true when the lovers in a tale include at least one strange person or monster.

I enjoy spinning yarns about lovers in the moonlight, but don’t be surprised if one of my lovers grows a long snout, sharp fangs and lots of hair when the moon is full.

So where do my strange story ideas come from? Sometimes I begin with a single sentence that pops into my mind or when I have a young man in mind who is about to meet the girl. As I wander down the page with the keys clicking like crazy, something happens in chapter 4 or 5 or 6 when a monster or stranger shows up. I dump the first 4 or 5 or 6 chapters and begin with the stranger. Why? Strangers are interesting. Lovers only so-so. I have to admit that as I have grown as an author, I'm less likely to dump an entire chapter. Instead, I  just hang out at my desk until the monster shows up so I can start the story with reader-grabbing moment.

Other times I recall a nightmare and write about it. It could be a regular, ordinary nice dream, but those usually aren’t memorable enough to make it to the keyboard.

Another place story ideas show up is when you play the “what if” game. What if a boy meets a girl at the beach and they fall in love? Nah, it’s been done. How can we make it more interesting? Boy meets girl? Well, duh, that has to happen, but what if it’s not a pleasant first meeting? What if the meeting takes place in a forbidden place?

Here’s an example…
What if a teenage boy wakes up in the middle of the night to discover the girl he has a crush on has pointed a pistol at him. It’s not the way he imagined her in his bedroom at that hour. She proceeds to insult his private parts that, as far as he can recall, she has never seen, but she insults them anyway.

The girl fires her pistol.

Fortunately, the boy’s best friend breaks in with a possible female terrorist. They’re both carrying military-style rifles with bayonets fixed. The teenage girl terrorist takes out pistol girl all the way through the bedroom window. The boy’s best friend announces “This didn’t happen.” He then leaves with the terrorist.

As it turns out, the female terrorist isn’t a fanatic at all. She’s a teenage alien shapeshifter from some planet on the other side of the galaxy who crashed on earth and is now dodging the men in black. The boy could chalk up the whole episode to a nasty dream, except that doesn’t explain the actual bullet hole above his bed, does it? And it doesn’t explain the broken window his teenage crush crashed through with a bayonet sticking out of her chest.

And that’s just for starters.

I find the events described above fascinating, especially when you find out that the young lady who fired the weapon is still alive, was never stabbed, and has no recollection of the event despite the bullet hole’s continued existence above the boy’s bed. How does the boy with the crush know all this? It becomes obvious when the girl climbs back in through the window the next night with romance in mind.

The right story idea leads to interesting events, places and the strangers among us. It’s why I like to write about them in my novels. If you want to read how the story described above turns out, download a copy of my ebook Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters from Amazon. Also available in paperback.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

How to Get Started Writing Your Own Business Book


Business Book Writing Made Easy Series


How would it feel to hand a book with your name as the author to a sales prospect or business associate? Maybe you just want to impress your boss or other higher ups in your company. Or you want to enhance your job hunting prospects. Maybe you can even use a business book to jumpstart your own business.

You know showing up at work with your own self-published business book would send your credibility through the roof, wouldn’t it? A business book is the most powerful marketing tool you can imagine. Among the many uses for a business book, you can:
  1. Engage your customers at the very time they are thinking about your topic.
  2. Position yourself as the expert instead of somebody just trying to sell something.
  3. Teach your customers the way you want them taught
With a business book, your voice dominates the reader’s mind while they consider your topic and related products and services. With a book writing plan you can accomplish the following:
  1. Write and edit your book better and faster so your readers can’t put it down
  2. Build your online readership before you market your book
  3. Add to your credibility as a speaker and subject matter expert (SME)
Take the first step
Writing your first business book is like eating an elephant. It’s overwhelming. Instead of tackling an entire book, just write the outline. That’s the first step in your business book writing plan. There are many more steps along the way that I simply can’t cover in a single blog post. But here’s a bonus step that will help you get started writing from your outline. Take one item from your outline and write about it for use in information outlets like:
  1. Trade Magazine article
  2. Email Newsletter (Yours and other people’s)
  3. Blog post (Yours and other people’s)
  4. You Tube Video
  5. Website content
Later, you can repurpose the content you created around a single idea or bullet point from your book outline back into your book as a chapter or portion of a chapter.

Questions?
I’ll include more about writing your own business book in future posts, but if you want to jumpstart your business book writing process, email your questions to me. Use BOOK QUESTION in the subject line. If you would like to book (no pun intended) me for a speaking gig on how to write business books, use SPEAKER REQUEST as the subject line. The email address is the proper format for paul at zuklloyd dot com. Or click here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Baby Boom Generation Caused Global Warming


That’s right, folks. I figured it out this morning while lollygagging in bed doing what comes natural to me until I realized that every Boomer on the planet does the same thing. Think about it. I’m not talking about the occasional blip, blat or pfft. Not at all.

Do you realize how huge the population of Boomers is? We’re the biggest population bubble ever to burst onto the scene. And here we are today in our senior moments making like Machinegun Kelly. The atmosphere never had a chance with Boomers firing their guns at once and exploding into space to cause a huge buildup of methane in the upper atmosphere.

As you well know methane is the primary cause of global warming. Just ask any cow. Yes, Boomers in our great numbers have become the cause of the worldwide warm up. The only thing safe for us to do is return to those days of yesteryear of calm, relaxing youth when nothing worried us, not even the occasional skull found in a field by the woods where we used to play Army and kill each other.

Global warming is real, folks, so you have another reason to worry about those pesky underwear changing moments or the occasional SBD. As the prophet Pogo warned in the Book of Possum, “We have met the enemy and they are us.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

What Inspires Writers?


The short answer is a lot of things can kickstart a novel project. It could be the observation of an event like a Fourth of July Parade. Hmmm, I wonder what it would be like to begin a story with a day-walking teenage vampire trombone player in the local high school band with fangs protruding around his mouthpiece?

Or it could be a person you see while riding the subway late at night and hoping you don’t get mugged. She’s not very attractive mainly because pretty girls know how to bum a ride home with a smile, but that young lady with oversized forehead, too small ears and ink covering her neck just has an air about her like I could cast her as the girlfriend in an inner-city horror romance.

Another way writers stay motivated is by reading. I enjoy all kinds of fiction both for pleasure and to learn from the best. As a fan of the films made from novels by Nicholas Sparks, I thought it was time to read one. I chose Safe Haven because I enjoyed the film almost as much as I enjoyed A Walk to Remember.

Observations Concerning Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
1.  His main character is an avatar for his market: A 27-year old female
2.  His writing style imitates the way a woman would tell the story
     A.  Long narration
     B.  Deep dive on details
     C.  Not just the menu, but half the recipe
     D.  Not just a description of outer clothes but deep dive into undergarments and outer garments with details about pattern, color, source, pricing, etc. Why choose this garment instead of another, etc.
     E.  Deep dive into mental state and emotions
     F.  Back story/flashback used extensively as a driver for the story
     G.  Progressive reveal of the thriller story to build fear and anxiety
3.  Writes in romance genre style
     A.  Story is a romance
     B.  Story also includes a thriller that he writes in romance style – a very slowed-down approach to the thriller style.
     C.  Story is also a ghost story that is hidden until the end but hinted at and set up with foreshadowing
     D.  Use of soft hooks
     E.  Happy ending resolves all major plot points
4.  Main character fulfills female reader’s fantasies
     A.  In mortal danger – generates sympathy while building “this could be me” story
     B.  Rescued by handsome man
     C.  Has best female friend to help and guide
     D.  Has romance with man other than her husband
     E.  Starts a new life somewhere else
     F.  Must provide care for young children to bring out reader’s motherly instincts
     G.  Feels guilt and shame for her situation despite it not being her fault

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Teaching Workshops at Karitos Indy


I’ve been invited to return for this year’s Karitos/Indy event. I’ll be teaching two workshops and enjoying an exciting Christian Arts weekend. Karitos/Indy, like it’s counterpart in Chicago in July, includes workshops in many art forms, all with a Christian perspective.

You can save money by registering ahead of time by visiting the Karitos/Indy website. Save a few bucks by registering on the payment page. The easy way, of course, is to simply pay at the door for a few dollars more for this 2-Day event.

Location: Suburbs west of Indianapolis
Bread of Life Ministries
7510 East CR 100 North
Avon, IN 46123

Dates/Times
Friday, May 13, 2016 at 12:00 PM - Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 10:00 PM (EDT)

My Workshops


Workshop 1: Hearing His Voice in Our Writing
This class explores the art of writing what you hear from the Lord and then polishing it for sharing with others. The guiding principle for this class is the Lord will be with you while you write and while you edit your work. The class covers:

How writers hear from the Lord
--Listening prayer
--Inspiration while writing
--Other ways (open discussion)
Writing down what you hear
Editing/polishing your writing
How to find Bible proof texts to support what you have heard
Let’s listen and share (time permitting – 3-minute writing exercise and sharing)

Workshop 2: Releasing Your Writing
You’ve learned to listen for the Holy Spirit guiding you in prayer or simply while you are about your daily tasks. Perhaps you enjoy creating poetry or stories and feel the Lord guiding you as you write. This class explores ways to share your writing. The class covers:

Blogs
Email
Social Media
Traditional Publishing
Self-Publishing
Speeches
Sharing at Church

Each type of media outlet has its own conventions regarding writing. We will discuss how to reshape your writing for sharing through different media.

Learn more about this event, including other workshops and arts, please visit the Karitos/Indy website: www.karitos.org/indy/index.php

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Writing Prompt Results #3


Prompt: The launch went not quite as expected…

4 Minutes Timed Writing Results

The launch went not quite as expected but there’s usually a glitch, an out of position o-ring, a loose nut behind the wheel, a gizmo floating around, a paramour snuck on board at the last moment. Usually the Flimbuster 100 lifts silently spinning slowly like a somnolent top on a lazy Alabama afternoon, near Selma, not Birmingham. Birmingham sucks but that’s another tale and a hound dog of a different color, the kind that don’t hunt. It wasn’t until we had circled the moon for the slingshot to Mars that we noticed Lt. Marsha McCann sneaking off to the equipment bank which no one needed to visit until Mars orbit. I followed and sure enough a bearded wing nut …

Monday, February 1, 2016

Writing Prompt Results #2


Prompt: Never underestimate a...

4 Minutes Timed Writing Results

Never underestimate a cowgirl on a Burma bull holding a mini-howitzer. Especially if her first name is Calamity. The Burma bull came west on the Chicago train and broke loose in the middle of South Dakota where Calamity had just shot RogerBuck, her 12-year-old horse not because he broke his leg but because he broke hers. Calamity and Bufford became fast friends. Why she named the Burma Bull "Bufford" is anyone’s guess. Most folks around here…

Friday, January 29, 2016

Writing Prompt Results #1


Prompt: Beatrice bottomed on Alabaster Street near Main

4 Minutes Timed Writing Results

Beatrice bottomed on Alabaster Street near Main where John Bergstrum painted the front end of an Elgin-bound PACE bus with his face. Red isn’t the best bus color, but with the economy, you take what you can get. She brushed herself off, adjusted her fangs and wiggled her ears to command the lander module to drop down the access stairway. Unfortunately, she didn’t move out of the way in time and wound up in the 18th century where she had to adjust her fangs, wiggle her ears and tickle her belly button to return to time normal and that stairway to nowhere. Well, it looked like it went nowhere which made Suzy Barklotter think it was the stairway to …