Writing schedule

I write best in the morning, coffee mug in hand, before the day can overwhelm me with its needs and purposes.

I get up, pull on a hoodie, pour a cup of coffee, settle onto the sofa with Mr. Tini over my shoulder judging my words.

My current goal is 720 words a day for an 80,000 word first draft by March first. In the last two years, I’ve become very goal-oriented and deadline driven. Set a deadline and work backwards. Mr. Tini seems happy with the progress even if the new project has a Great Dane and not a wily cat.

Currently Watching: Star Wars

“In my experience there is no such thing as luck.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

We’ve been thoroughly enjoying Disney Plus. Re-watching Toy Story and The Lion King have been highlights.

As a student of story, I’ve been very interested in learning the mythology and lore of the Star Wars universe. Did some research about the proper order to watch the episodes and settled on the Machete order.

I’ve made it through Episodes IV and V, but the struggle begins with Episode II. The characters and interactions annoy me to no end. We turned it off 35 minutes in because neither of us was paying attention. BOO! Please tell me it gets better…

I have watched two episodes of The Mandalorian and it is fantastic. Not just because of baby Yoda. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

#starwars #episodeiisucks #mandalorian #anakinwhinesalot #babyyoda

Currently reading: Save the Cat Writes a Novel

“Editing sucks,” I said everyday for the past three months.

I wrote “White Hell” for my graduate thesis. Unfortunately, my thesis adviser was not invested in my success, so I floundered with the final execution. In my final weeks, I got the opportunity to work with Diana Pharaoh Francis, which changed the direction of the novel in one conversation.

Discovering a story or developing a character aren’t a problem for me. My writing struggle is in the outline and editing. How do I ramp up the tension?

Using a tool like The Hero’s Journey or Save the Cat Writes a Novel has been incredibly useful. But I view it as an editing tool.

Save the Cat helps provide the framework around which I tell a story, like a the frame of house. I’ve started working on a new novel and struggled within the first 5k words. I turned to this book for some guidance on building my hero.

This $13 Kindle book has been worth more than most of my MFA classes.

#savethecat #writertool #writerlife #editingsucks #nanowrimofail #mfagrad

Magic Book

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” Stephen KingOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

For an author, the magic book is the one that inspires a lifetime of toil over the page, endless hours scratching in a journal, and each commute constructing complicated story lines.

Chelsey and the Green-Haired Kid” by Carol Gorman was my magic book.

It all started in Mrs. McDonald’s sixth grade English class at McKinley Middle School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa too many years ago. I loved Mrs. McDonald and she valued books and writers above all. So those became my values.

We read Gorman’s book then the author came to visit our class. I was smitten. Gorman talked about the book and her life and her husband, Ed Gorman. Shortly after the author’s visit to our class, I started devouring horror novels by the box-full. Mom would pick up books by Dean Koontz, Robin Cook, Stephen King, and more at garage sales or in the grocery check-out lines.

Most of my reading life was suddenly inhabited by aliens, supernatural forces, demented dogs, evil doctors and maniacal hitmen. After a few years, I began doodling and outlining my own stories. It became an addiction, an obsession.

Coffeehouse cliche

I always found the image of a writer toiling over words in a coffee shop to be somewhat romantic, even if it is a cliche.

Last night as the deadline to submit my final draft for Kindle pre-order ticked away, I sequestered myself in a small Starbucks to finish the last ten chapters. Being at home, I’m easily distracted by the cat or finishing the bag of Doritos in the pantry. My only diversion from my editing was the college age girl, obviously hot for teacher, and her tutor working on geometry.

Might have to give it a go more often. Can’t let the Doritos win. If only their coffee was better.

Last day of Editing

I added an extension to Google Chrome that audibly reads text from any document or website. As my deadline approaches at midnight tonight, I’m listening to White Hell for the final round of edits.

Listening not only goes faster, but also allows me to focus on the poetry: missed words, poor phrasing and pacing. Not something I can accomplish with a spell checker or grammar wizard.

I find comfort that I laugh at some of the scenes and flinch at others. I wrote the words, but they still surprise me.

Wish me luck as we tick toward midnight.

Ready for Winter

I don’t love cold weather, but I hate summer. I’m allergic to all things Iowa and spending time outdoors in the summer is miserable.

Count the Bald Eagles

I do miss going to the river and seeing dozens of Bald Eagles. The snow blocks out all the extraneous noise and all I hear through my Elmer Fudd hat is the dam churning, squirrels squawking and eagles chattering.

Started working on a new piece set in the Colorado high country during winter. My second novel-length project in which weather acts as a character. In White Hell, the winter storm acts almost as a villain, aiding the antagonist and creating another obstacle for the protagonist. In the latest piece, the weather and freezing temperatures are the catalyst for the inciting incident.