NaNoWriMo Genre Selector

So your happy little fingers are about to embark on the wondrous challenge of NaNoWriMo (AKA National Novel Writing Month) and your happy little writer’s mind has this sweet idea that’s gonna launch you over the 50,000-word finish line in, like, a week.

Good for you.  Stay positive; you’ll need it.

So you log in and get to the “My Novel” screen and see this thing:

NaNoWriMo Genre Selection

NaNoWriMo Genre Selection


ARGH! The audacity of them to make you know, and publicly declare the Genre already!    What?  Really? You do?  Damn you. :/

Well for those of us who aren’t as sure as Ms Already-Know-My-Genre, here is some help in determining what your NaNoWriMo thingy’s genre is.  We will bastardize “The Old Man and the Sea” for this exercise.

Consider this: ANY of these can be “Thriller”, “Mystery”, “Humor” or “Romance” (depending on your writing style) or, thanks to Rule 34, “Erotic Fiction”. Also, “Old Man” is generic for “Impact Character”, Like Ben Kenobi to Luke Skywalker or Dumbledore to Harry Potter.

So here’s the formula — Titular Synopsis: Likely Genre (Possible Genre) – “Story that comes to mind”

Example — The Old Man and the Sea: Literary (Spiritual) – “The Old Man And the Sea” (the trope namer LOL)

Got it?  Here we go

The Old Man and the…

…Robot: Sci-Fi (Action, Horror, Inspirational) – “I, Robot”, “Bicentennial Man”, “A.I.”, “The Terminator”

…Moon (any planet): Sci-Fi (Action, Horror, Fantasy, Historical) – “Capricorn One”, “Apollo 13”, “Apollo 18”

…Creature: Horror (Sci-Fi) – “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus”, “Herbert West – Re-animator”

…Elf/Dwarf/Dragon: Fantasy (YA) – LoTR and a billion others

…Young Apprentice: YA (Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Historical) – Arthurian Legend, “Harry Potter” series

…Young Lady: YA (Literary, Chick Lit, Sci-Fi) – “Hunger Games”, “Lolita”

…Old Lady: Literary (Chick Lit) – “Driving Miss Daisy”, “The Notebook”

…Dead Body: This could go a thousand different ways – Hercule Poirot stories, or (if zombie) Horror

…End of the World: Again, could go in any direction, but “Distopian YA” and “Zombie Apocalypse” seem the fashion these days.

…Old Memories: Historical (Chick Lit, Literary, Sci-FI) – “Schindler’s List”, “The Notebook”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”


So…sot even CLOSE to complete/authoritarian/quotable.  Maybe not even close to accurate.

The point is to take one obstacle out of your way so you can focus on writing the thing.  Worry about classifying it later.

Today, finish whatever passes for novel prep in your world and get ready for a great time writing the first draft of your new novel.

I’ll see you in print in May, just in time for the ‘summer reads’ *wink*.

Be safe and be well.


For the love of SOMETHING

So you’re sitting there in front of your word processor/typewriter/laptop, you have the new document open and whiteness of the page blinds you while the little cursor thingy blinks at you as if to say “HA! I’m not moving! LOSER!”

Like the maintenance people in the building you work or live in, the cursor, while it’s doing its job, goes mostly unnoticed. You only seem to acknowledge its existence when it’s not doing what you pay it to do, which is clean the whiteness off the page with wonderful letter-shaped blackness which hopefully forms understandable words. So how are we to motivate the little sum-bitch and make it conform to your will?

Talk to its boss. If you didn’t realize it yet, that’s you, Shakespeare.

And just how are we to get this plot thingy out of our heads and onto the page, thus making the cursor do its funny dance? Several ways, one of which is the internal motivation of your characters. Why are they submitting themselves to the insanity to which you are about to subject them?

Yes, it’s OK to fling a supernatural monster into suburbia and watch the madness unfold (add zombies, that seems to work these days). But it often helps if the character’s motivation is clear in your head. Once you know why this schmuck has accepted his role as ‘Savior of the universe/continuum/residential block’, then you’ll be able to let that unfold in the natural course of storytelling so the reader can see it as well.

So what is that motivator?

My premise is that Love is the only motivating force that actually matters in any story, anywhere, anytime.

All you need is…


Now I’m not talking about a Kumbaya-laden, come-to-Jesus-moment where the slayer of aliens gets all mushy about a kitten and starts weeping for the fur-ball in the tree. Not that there’s anything wrong with this particular trope, but I’m going a bit further than that.

I’m talking about the main reason anyone ever does anything.


Even if its only “Love-Of-Self” (which is not the same as “self-love”). This is cherishing something SO MUCH (a person, an idea, a way of life, a kitty, whatever) that you (your character) will go out of your way to save/preserve/defend it, even at the cost of sacrificing something along the way(comfort/status/wealth/freedom/life).

Lest you think I’m getting all touchy-feely Sunshine-and-Rainbows, this concept also works, in the extremes, as twisted justification of atrocities. Think about it.

Even the anti-hero has a love of something so strong and uncontrollable he does the craziest, most life-threatening crap to protect/save/preserve this thing s/he loves so dearly. (Warning: “Shrek” Reference.) Sometimes that might only be a love of being left alone to live in peace in a swamp.

Yes, he might save the princess, escape the dragon, reluctantly fall in love with said princess, defeat the evil king, return the people to their rightful homes, slay the horde and seal the cosmic tear in the process, but it all started with “I LOVE MY LIFE – STOP EFFING IT UP!

What does your character love? This is what motivates her.

Now go motivate the HELL out of something.

Be safe and be well.

Potential Energy for November

Much like the tiny figure at the top of the building at 3:00 in the video below, I’m all Potential Energy at this point, preparing to proverbially launch myself from the balcony and take on all that comes with November.

  • Leaves, lots of them
  • NaNoWriMo
  • Left Over Candy 🙂
  • My “Project Launch”
  • Thanksgiving (Probably at MY house)
  • Black Friday
  • Cyber Monday (OK that’s December this year, but it’s the same weekend.)
  • Having #1 Son back from college
  • Life (about which we are NOT to talk)

I’ll do what I can to keep updating, but you never know.

Until then… be safe, be well and enjoy a physics video.

Wasted Time

So what constitutes wasted time?

Spending three self-guided hours introducing yourself to InDesign and utterly failing to produce anything usable?

Writing 3,000 words only to realize you need to rewrite a majority of it because you based it on the WRONG character’s actions? Jimmy was in Baltimore on Thursday, you dolt. *sigh*

Having a long, silent conversation with a character about something she’s about to do and you’re trying to talk her out of it? Yes, we all hear the voices, it’s natural.  Well… natural for a writer, anyway.

What about doing house- or yard-work?  Someone has to do the laundry…

If you think you’re not being productive in your writing because you are off doing IRL (In Real Life) things, you’re accurate, but not entirely correct.  Taking a break from your writing once in a while is sometimes more important that forcing your backside into the chair when you’re distracted by these pesky things like good oral hygiene, walking the dog or communicating with people that exist outside of your head and/or the printed page.

Make sure you take time to get up and stretch at least once per hour while you write.  If you’re really in the zone and prolifically pound prose nonstop for two hours once in a while, that’s OK too, but beware the arms, shoulders and back.  I have back issues so I’m forced to get up.

Do a Pomodoro session (this is my thing – Clockwork Tomato App for Android), set a stopwatch or the timer on the stove to remind yourself to get up and stretch.  And maybe click the button on the dishwasher or sweep up those coffee grounds.


Take time to feed the squirrels. Photo by M. Frank Parsons

Or go feed a squirrel.

Remember that time spent doing something you have to do, or something you enjoy doing that is not writing, is not necessarily wasted time.

Be safe and be well.

Publishing Pajamahadeen

In the spirit of full disclosure, while I am going to start my own publishing company, I have nothing against traditional publishers. I find a recent turn of events quite interesting and it is the subject of this article.

The publishing business is being challenged by self-pub/indie-pub and the old guard is nonplussed (thanks to The Passive Voice for the heads-up).  They have been challenged for some time, but now it seems the ‘old school’ publishers are defending their paradigm more fiercely by attacking those who challenge them.

Much in the same way it is accepted political practice (denials to the contrary) to make a “heinous charge” against an opponent.  The accusation carries more weight than the truth about the charge: accuse an opponent of something (even if demonstrably untrue) and that opponent becomes “That Guy Who…” for the rest of his life.  You might remember the Duke Lacrosse thing?  An extreme example, but you get the gist.

The current salvo against cutting out the middle-people and writing directly to one’s audience makes you the “Publishing Pajamahadeen”. You are apparently not worthy of being read by virtue of your inability to pass through the hallowed halls of the ‘old boys club’ and have a literary contract bestowed upon you.  Such elitist tripe.

YOU, ya pajama-clad infinite-monkey, have no right to question, challenge or otherwise look directly at we mighty few who should, by right, determine what, when, how and at what price the public has access to new works of fiction.  You are so lucky we’re giving you 7.125¢ per sale. Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

–Said by no one, but heavily implied.

Perhaps the desires of the actual reading public escapes them.  Perhaps they fear this new “self-determined reader” will choose its own “Best New Authors” instead of waiting to be told who to read.  Perhaps they already are…

We shall see.

Be safe and be well.

…and then I had a thought.

Self-Pub, Indie-pub, Author-Publisher…  or a recently escaped pre-arthritic infinite monkey that left line nine of sonnet 130 incomplete.

Yeah, that guy.

So I’m just about ready to be that guy. I’ve got a story or two ready, I’ve set up an LLC, gotten the bank account, the PO Box, the printer, the delivery system, the cover artist -all this extraneous stuff one needs to do this as close to “right” as one can.

And then I had a thought.

Dangerous things, thoughts.  They should be labelled “WARNING: THOUGHTS LEAD TO ACTION” in big, red, 72-point Copperplate Gothic bold for we “are you sure that paint’s really wet” types.

Yes, the paint is wet, oh ye of the eggshell-white finger. And don’t try to deny touching it, your fingerprint is right there. And yes, thoughts do, in fact, lead to action, but only if you let them.  I have allowed my thoughts to take form, and I may be on to something that could be the biggest challenge and, perhaps, the most rewarding experience of my “never been published under my own name” writing career.

I will very soon (no, not now) reveal what I am most likely about to do.  Gimme a day or two to make sure I really, really, reallyreally want to set myself up for this.

It’s like walking down a blindingly yellow road all by yourself and realizing that, while you have the nerve and the gumption to go it alone into that big, neon green wonderland of possibly publishing profitably, you are Dorothy and you need your Scarecrow. Not because he doesn’t know how smart he is, but because YOU DO. You know each of you will be better off for the other’s company as you walk side-by-side into the unknown.


Be safe and be well.