Friday, December 30, 2016

Reading Habits

I hope you all had a very Happy Holidays and that the new year doesn't contain as many horrors as the last. This last blog post of the year I want to focus on something that I love. Reading books.

First I do have a couple of announcements:
  1. Night Reads will be resuming with Season 2 that will comprise 7 episodes. If you are an author or know of one looking to promote a piece of fiction, submissions are open. There are currently 5 slots available! More information can be found here: http://brianbasham.blogspot.com/p/night-reads.html
  2. I will be hosting a Twitter chat about writing and pop culture on Wednesday 1/4/17 at 8 PM EST (5 PM PST). Join us at the hashtag #SiWriChat at that time. This week's theme will be Star Wars. I will host this chat every other Wednesday and will post a schedule of the upcoming events soon.


Now time for some serious shenanigans. Reading has been one of my favorite things to do for a very long time. My mother took me to libraries when I was young where I poured through whatever looked interesting. I remember loving every Choose Your Own Adventure book I could get my hands on and flipping back and forth to go through every choice. I remember reading Sherlock Holmes before I was old enough to really get into such stories. I remember thinking how the author took one tiny detail that was glossed over or wasn't fully revealed and made that the crux of the detective's argument when solving the murder. This angered me more than displayed the brilliance of Holmes. I wanted to morph into Godzilla and terrorize the setting in the story. I spent a lot of time going back and rereading one story and becoming more frustrated rather than getting lost in the suspense of it all. I remember reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlotte's Web. The Cask of Amontillado was one of my favorite stories we read in class. I remember Robert Frost visiting my Elementary School and how much his breath stank when he got close enough for me to smell it. Tip to authors who visit schools: Brush your teeth and stay away from the coffee while you are there!

Then I became lost in the shuffle of school, sports, and video games. I used to love video games and spent too much time playing them. I decided that I wanted to make video games when I was too young to make such decisions. It took me a long time to realize that what I really loved was the stories behind the video games. I began to write my own fiction during this time after a teacher exposed me to the wonders of a chain story, and I have an unnatural love for chain stories to this day. I would lose interest and come back to these stories here and there, but never finish them.

When college came around a friend of mine let me borrow Jurassic Park and I discovered my love for the written word all over again. I fell in love with Crichton's fast pace techno-thrillers then spread out to other genres. I discovered Clancy, Robert Jordan, and (of course) Stephen King. These wonderful authors created worlds that I tore through as fast as I could. Sometimes I would stay up until 3, 4, 5 AM, or later because I could not force myself to put down the book. I had an English teacher who always gave us a creative option for our papers which I always went with. I wrote about the character Forrest Gump becoming a professional wrestler and I wrote about a surgeon who wore an afro with a chinstrap. Both silly tales in the mold of Ace Ventura. I took a creative writing class that challenged me in ways I had never thought about before. It taught me to consider each word carefully before setting it on fire.

Many years after college I finally realized that I loved to write. Why shouldn't I try to write my own novels? I looked into publishing and then self-publishing through Amazon. I had stories that I wrote on the side for myself, but most of them were never finished or far too short to be considered a novel. I posted things on Wattpad and worked on my novel.

I read books from some of my indie writing heroes Lindsay Buroker and Hugh Howey. Each word giving inspiration and satisfying a need. Today I typically read at least 3 fiction books, 1 audio book (listen instead of read?), and 1 instructional book. One book is for lunch breaks at work, one is for the bathroom (I am old shut up), an audio book for trips more than 10 minutes, and an e-book for nighttime reading before sleep (don't need the lights on for this!)

Lately books I could not put down have been hiding from me. I miss the techno-thrillers of Crichton, the Harry Potter series, the first two books of The Hunger Games and Divergent series, Angels and Demons, and other books that sucked me into their worlds. Then I ran into one that I felt I must share. I posted a link to my review of the novel here on the blog. A review of a book is one of the best gifts you can give to an author (ranks up there with coffee and chocolate), so please review the books you read.

In 2016 I did not finish many novels. I think I only have 6 or 7 that I finished for the year. I want to at least double that for 2017, but I need help. If you have any novels that you recommend or could not put down then please share them here or message me on social media with them. I am always looking for books that grab you with Hellraiser type hooks and won't let go until the book is satisfied with your page turning. Give me all of those... and puppies.


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Writing Progress Updates


Virtual Wars: Running (Writing First Draft)
Current word count: 25,185
The Ghost Season 1
Editing: Page 4 of 47

Monday, December 12, 2016

Measuring Stick

We put so much pressure on ourselves to succeed in what we are doing. As an author we all want to be best selling authors on the NYT, USA Today, or on Amazon. Just being on the list can give you a nice boost on sales that you didn't have before. Not everyone is going to make that list in spite of writing something great. This is why I want to talk about the measuring stick. This is the standard that you use to measure your success. You can use it to measure other things, but Godzilla may look at you funny then set you on fire.

Set Your Goals

You can't be the underpants gnomes from South Park and expect to be successful without a plan. Of course you have the larger goals that you want to reach like being on the best seller list, making enough money off your writing to support yourself, or own all the Twinkies in the world. How do you make that happen though? You need smaller manageable goals that you KNOW you can accomplish. Small steps you can take that will lead up to the larger goals.

These are the smaller goals that I work the living crap out of. If you don't squeeze all the innards out of these then there is a chance of infection. Trust me, you don't want your dreams to become infected. Unrealistic goals can poison your whole outlook on what you are doing. It can push your spirits down and force you to quit. You know how the saying goes. Quitters never win, and winners go to Disney Land. Well? Do you wanna go to Disney Land with me?

Manage Expectations

I did a little digging and found that there are very few debut novels that make the NYT bestseller list in any given year. The Girl On The Train is the only one I can think of in recent times that made #1 although there may be another one this past year. Now that self publishing is somewhat mainstream there are thousands of books published every year. Think about that. The chance of being a NYT bestseller on your debut novel is better than winning the lottery, but worse than your chance of being chased by a murderous clown or shot by a toddler.

Don't use someone else's stick to measure your level of success! The quickest way to hit the quit button is by trying to measure your level of success against the Stephen Kings, Tom Clancys, or Chuck Tingles of the world. You are not them and you never will be. It's comparing apples to oranges with the expectation of them both tasting like chocolate. Don't do that, it's like slapping yourself across the face repeatedly and saying you should stop but you keep going anyway. That's never fun and should only be done on Tuesdays. Everyone knows that!

Success

I have reached several of the goals set from the beginning. Here is a short list of the goals I have accomplished thus far. I finished my first novel, formatted it myself, sold my first book, someone has read and enjoyed it, and the latest goal I accomplished yesterday was to sell enough books to make the money back for the stock copies purchased. The only goals set that haven't been reached yet are for getting reviews and selling enough stock copies to require another order. I expect to reach every goal set and have been surprised at the amount of support thus far (all of the <3 for that! :) That is my measuring stick for success for the debut novel. No you can't use it. Why would you want to? You don't know where it's been, or where I have been, or where those snuggling Care Bears have been... Wait, where have YOU been? *runs away screaming something about Nutella*


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Writing Progress Updates


Virtual Wars: Running (Writing First Draft)
Current word count: 18,049

The Ghost Season 1
Editing: Page 4 of 47

Monday, December 5, 2016

When the Muse Calls

It has been almost 2 weeks now since I released my first novel and I must say that this isn't how I imagined things starting out. Not that things have been bad. Everything has been positive so far. What I am talking about is all of the unexpected things that have been happening lately. The biggest one is the call of the muse. Before we get into that I want to talk about a couple of the other things. The ones that go bump in the night.

I have gotten many requests from people asking me to provide a link to purchase an autographed copy of my novel online. Boom! It is done. I now have a link for that in the right sidebar. Now whoever kidnapped the fluffy bunny, please let it go!

I also decided to try participating in NaNoWriMo last month which I did not win. I have much respect for those of you who did. For me it was simply a case of trying to take on too many things at once. If you are thinking about doing it then I suggest you clear your calendar. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get 50,000 words written in one month. I did learn a lot in the process. You have to go in with a plan and budget your time and word count to ensure that you finish. Setting word count goals for each day is important. If you can't write as much one day then you have to figure out how you can make up that time. It's so easy to get behind bit by bit. You know what else is easy? Getting stomped by Godzilla.

The Muse

The muse is whatever it is that inspires you to make your awesome. It is your sunset. It is your lover. It is your plastic bag floating in the wind. Anything and everything that speaks to you. The muse for me more often than anything is a dream. I have more story ideas based off dreams than anything else. When you read my works it really was all a dream, but I did not read "Word Up" magazine.

I do get ideas based off of other people's stories, but most of those feel fake or second rate. It feels cheapened because I am taking someone's idea and molding it into my vision of what it should be. That story has already been told. Those ideas don't excite me, only chains and whips do that.

Lately I have been getting called by the muse to work on the sequel to my novel. What I have found is that when the muse calls it is not always friendly. While I should be working on promotional stuff and building on what I have started the muse has been laughing at me. The call the muse is putting out is like a violent grabbing and twisting of the ear. It wants me to type the words that give life to my dreams and it will not let go. This is fine although the timing of it has not been helpful. The muse waits for no one and you must listen when it calls. You never know when or if it will call again.


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Writing Progress Updates


Virtual Wars: Running (Writing First Draft)
Current word count: 18,049

The Ghost Season 1
Editing: Page 2 of 47

Monday, November 21, 2016

Hope

Before I get started today, I want to push FREE STUFF onto you. OK not really free stuff, it's a raffle and also a copter and you maybe get a prize. The rafflecopter giveaway of an ebook copy of Virtual Wars: Initialization ends 11/22! Godzilla told me he will stomp on those of you who resist! At least that's what I think that roar meant.

Princess Leia once said that Obi-Wan Kenobi was our only hope. I like to think there is a little Kenobi in us all singing Uptown Funk. No matter what you do or what your dreams are there is hope that you can reach them. It takes determination and hard work.

You CAN

Tell this to yourself this over and over again. There are going to be many people who say that you can't. Don't be one of them! If I had a nickel for every time someone told me I couldn't write a novel then I would have a vault filled with nickels to swim in like Scrooge McDuck! Friends and family alike have told me that I can't do the things that I have done. Use it to fuel the fire. Build the fire bigger and hotter until it is large enough for astronauts to see it from space, then sing "Smooooke on the water, FIRE IN THE SKY!"

Whenever I feel overwhelmed by the size of the project I am faced with I ask myself, "What is stopping you from succeeding?" All too often the only answer is myself. Don't be the obstacle standing in your way. You CAN do this! Pull up your socks and...

Get to Work!

Work harder than anyone has ever worked before. Hard work gets rewarded and the more hard work you put in the better you get at it. If you continue to grind at it and put that time in then it is only a matter of time until you succeed. The only way to fail is to give up and quit.

People will tell you that it isn't that simple. It IS that simple. Period. End of story. Work hard, be awesome, share your awesome, and let people celebrate you with a My Little Pony dance party. Sticking with it and working hard to get what you want is the most difficult part of it all.

Hope

Be the light, the beacon of hope for others. Share that light with anyone who will listen. This is the way to fight the darkness of doubt that tries to cloud everything. It helps breed confidence and belief in yourself. Others will follow suit. Doubt has its place and makes us strive to improve or lets us know when we need to work harder to squash it back down. There is always doubt, but at the same time there is always hope. Share the hope.

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Mad Dash

Welcome to the everything is fine portion of our program. Usually when someone says that it means the exact opposite. I feel like I am so far behind on the everything that I don't mind the fires burning all around me. This is the mad dash and we all go through this. The usual suspects that cause this are taking on too much, looming deadlines, and self-imposed pressure to be great. Today I am going to talk about all of these then end the post with a small treat. I wish I could send coffee and chocolate, but whenever I try to shove them through the tubes of the interwebs they get stuck. I'm hoping you will like the treat anyway.

Taking on too much!

This is something I tend to do over and over again. I have so many ideas that I think are the new Velcro that I want to do all of them at the same time. I need to remind myself that I do not have a time machine nor to I have 8 arms. Unfortunately cybernetics has not advanced far enough to give me extra arms. I am not a character in GURPS although sometimes I wish I could be a disembodied brain with psionic powers. Don't ask.

Taking on too many projects leads to not having time for any of them which leads to not finishing any of them which leads to staring at a wall while shoveling air from an empty ice cream container into my mouth... Don't judge! It's not like you've never done it before!

Looming Deadlines

These are the ghosts that haunt my dreams as of late. I have a novel coming out soon which means I have 18 bazillion things to do that are driving me crazy. OK I know that's a short trip, but I like to think I can cross the line to sanity's side every once in a while. The voices told me it was OK. 

What doesn't help is that I decided to take on this monster called NaNoWriMo which I have never done before. It forces you to write until your fingers bleed then you must write more because the bone isn't poking out yet. At the end of the month I am also on vacation where I will spend most of it in a mad dash to complete 50K words for this National Novel Writing Month. The contest is over half way over and I am not near half way to the word count goal.

Self-Imposed Pressure

This is the biggest butthole of them all. Like Godzilla stomping on an ant kind of pressure. I am such a perfectionist that every little thing must be just right for me to be satisfied sometimes. It's hard for me to let go yet I know that nothing is ever truly perfect no matter how much I want it to be. Now that my novel is coming out I have to pretend it wasn't written by me because I know it is not perfect while promoting that it exists and was written by me.

Then there is the pressure of how it performs. I put up a good front with all the smiles and joking around, but inside I'm screaming. I do hope that people read it, enjoy it, and tell their friends. There is a small voice of doubt that is persistent in my head saying that it doesn't matter how hard I worked. I try to squish that voice, but the jerkface is like a cockroach swimming around in my head.

Mad Dash

So here I am typing away on ye old blog as part of the mad dash to get things done. Like giving away a free copy of the e-book version of my novel! Cue the rafflecopter! I TOLD YOU THERE WAS A TREAT weeeeeee




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Writing Progress Updates


Virtual Wars: Running (Writing First Draft)
Current Wordcount: 13223

The Ghost Season 1
Editing: Haven't started yet! Hey, I got it printed and ready for the red pen at least!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

10 Things I Wish I Knew About Writing


When I first started this journey I thought that everything would be all ponies and rainbows. I was so wrong! So here is a list of 10 things I wish I had known when I first began this journey. I hope this helps someone!
  1. If you *think* you are done with your novel, you are wrong! I don't know how many times I told my friends that I was almost done, but then over a year later I was still working on it. Writing is rewriting and editing. Until you have a solid release date with the final version uploaded, you are not really done. It may seem like the finish line is always moving because it is!
  2. Your writing is crap. At least that is what you will tell yourself a billion times before you publish. It doesn't mean your final product will suck. The first draft or two of anything is awful in comparison to the final product. Don't listen to your self doubt! Use the Pee Wee Herman defense, "I know you are but what am I?"
  3. Writing a novel is much harder. Flash fiction and shorter stories can be rewarding and feel easy to write. Novels are a completely different beast. My novel weighs in right around 60K words which in some genres would be considered a short story (Looking at you Epic Fantasy). Writing a story of that length still presents quite a challenge. With a shorter story it is easy to stick to the main points in the beginning and ending without much filler. In a longer form the middle takes up a much larger portion of the book. You need side quests for the extra XP and Level Up. In speaking with other people who write, the middle is what everyone seems to struggle with like a baby smashing their first birthday cake. It is like trying to push a boulder up a mountain of butter while it's raining.
  4. Writing is work! If you want your writing to matter then you have to put in the work. It is just as much a grind as anything else. The harder you work, the more you write, the more research you do, etc... Everything helps make your work better. If you don't put the work in then it will show. Butt in chair, fingers on the keyboard! *cracks whip*
  5. Blogging has many benefits! It doesn't matter if people show up to read it. Although one of the benefits is to help build an audience. That doesn't mean the people who enjoy your blog will support your professional life. Writing on your blog can help you get thoughts out and work through problems. It is also a great opportunity to practice your craft. Every word you write is practice for every word you write after that. Just don't call your blog your friend so you can say you have a friend with benefits, that's creepy.
  6. Social Media is not for promotion! Even if you hate all of the social media outlets, writers need to get on them. Everyone has heard the stories of things going viral and people making money through some form of magic. Well none of this works that way! Social media is for interaction with others. Spamming people with links will cause them to stuff their ears with cheese and duct tape their eyes shut to avoid it. Think about it. If you run up to random people at the mall saying "BUY MY BOOK" repeatedly then you might get tackled by a mall cop.
  7. Lists will save your sanity on Twitter. Twitter is by far my favorite of all the social media outlets. Once you follow a lot of people it is impossible to keep up with all of those tweets. The best way to do that is to separate them into smaller groups by using lists. Then you can check each list as if it were a completely different Twitter account. If I could go back in time, I would have told myself to start building lists from the start.
  8. Other authors are super helpful! Make connections with other authors and bloggers. They will be the ones most likely to help when you need it and you WILL need help. They are the ones who are most likely to understand the problems you face as they have probably already faced them before. If you feel like you're losing your mind and want to stab someone, there is another author out there that has been there and knows how to hide the body. No one has all the answers though. Sometimes it's like we're all stumbling around in the dark, but at least other authors are willing to hold your hand while you stumble.
  9. Unfinished ideas/stories will haunt you! I have so many ideas and a few stories that don't feel finished. These keep me up at night. I have an idea notebook that I keep nearby to write down these ideas. It's the only way to get the voices in my head to shut up! Yesterday I came up with 2 new story ideas and I couldn't concentrate at work until I wrote them down.
  10. Formatting is super easy! I made the formatting of my novel more complicated than it needed to be. There are a ton of online tutorials for KDP formatting that will lead you down the road of confusion and wanting to burn everything. That includes the tutorials on the KDP website which look as if they were written in ancient Aramaic. Even for someone who comes from a programming background it was hard to make sense of it all. I got a version to look great in Calibre, but when I tried to upload it KDP rejected it! The Horror! However, there are many tutorials for formatting a novel in Word which are very easy to follow and work on the first try! Amazon's conversion tools are very good as long as you prepare the Word document properly. 
I hope you all enjoyed the list! Tomorrow I will be over at http://www.on-the-other-hand.com/ messing with all the knobs and buttons. What does this big red button with the sign that says "DO NOT PUSH" do?

Be sure to check out Virtual Wars: Booting Up, a collection of prequel stories to my first novel. It is available for pre-order right now with the release date of Friday 10/28/16. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M6V05AT

The first novel in the Virtual Wars series, titled Initialization, has a release date of Tuesday 11/22/16. One lucky person who has signed up for my newsletter will receive a free copy. You can sign up for the newsletter here: http://brianbasham.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_29.html

Friday, October 21, 2016

Virtual Wars Blog Tour Schedule

 
I want to first thank all of the amazing people who are hosting me for this blog tour. There are some others who are going to host me in the future, but weren't able to participate on such short notice. So without further ado...

  • 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Writing - Posted 10/25/16 - A list of 10 things I wish I had known when I first started. Also an announcement of the release date for Virtual Wars: Initialization.
  • Perseverance - Posted 10/26/16 -  Guest blog post that talks about chasing your dreams and the journey toward achieving them.
  • Author Interview - Posted 10/27/16 - I am handcuffed to a chair and forced to answer questions. I am scarred from the experience, they promised a lollipop when we finished.
  • Virtual Wars: Initialization Cover Reveal - Posted 10/28/16 - The grand cover reveal for Virtual Wars: Initialization

I will update the links with the direct link to each event once it has been posted.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Virtual Wars Blog Tour

I am writing this to announce the Virtual Wars Blog Tour! I have finished writing and editing my first novel! *runs in circles* *falls down* *foams at the mouth*

I also set up a Patreon for those of you who wish to sponsor me or are going to purchase this and future novels. It is on a per work basis, so Patreon will only bill you when I have the actual items ready to ship or send. The ebook version will be sent through Patreon before it is officially available on Amazon. You can check it out here: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=3618552

Now it is time to get to work on letting everyone know about it! I plan to do a blog tour leading up to the release of the free ebook of prequel stories titled Virtual Wars: Booting Up. If you click on the Virtual Wars link at the top you can learn more about it and see the cover graphic for this prequel. I will also be doing a cover reveal for Virtual Wars: Initialization that same day (last day of the tour). The exact dates and times of this will be posted once I have finished organizing the tour. I'm shooting for 10/24-10/28.

For now I am looking to recruit anyone who would want to participate in the blog tour! If you are interested then please send me a message with your email address and your choice of the options below. If you want to participate, but have a different idea different from the ones listed below then please let me know. I am open to new ideas as long as you don't ask me to make a video of me picking a fight with Godzilla. I can be contacted at any of the social media links on this website, but for immediate response the best ways to contact me would be on Twitter, G+, or Facebook.

LIST OF TERRIBLE OPTIONS FOR YOUR BLOG WEEEE

  • Interview Me - I am quite the personality who will twist your questions so I can talk about how the Power Puff Girls have effected the worldwide PEZ economy. Seriously though, have you seen how crazy the PEZ economy is? Good luck investing your rainbows there! Or if you prefer I can be super serious "Business. Numbers! *draws chart in crayon* Assertion! Is this working?"
  • Character Interview - You can interview one of the characters from my novel. If you don't feel comfortable asking the questions then I can do it based off an interview template. Choices of characters would be James, Miri, Hannah, or Kitsie. James is a bully and captain of the Anderson Virtual Wars team which is expected to be one of the best in the upcoming season. Miri is the main character, an athlete/nerd who just wants to try out for a Virtual Wars team. Hannah is a spitfire who sees herself as being a spy from the movies. Kitsie was born into a situation out of her control and has been on the run from law enforcement her entire life.
  • Standard Guest Post - I will craft the standard guest blog post to cater to your audience. You can have as much or as little input as you would like. If you want me to blog about how truffles are the most amazing thing ever then I will. If you want me to pick the subject then I can do that as well.
  • Cover Reveal - Obviously this is like the Highlander. There can only be one. This would be the last day of the tour. I will have to check out your blog and make sure it fits with what I am trying to do before agreeing to this, but until this spot is filled it is an option!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Confidence In Writing

The ups and downs an author goes through can drive anyone to drink. Think of all the stereotypes you have ever heard about authors. How many of them involve drinking and/or smoking? These vices generally calm the nerves of people who partake in them. The battle that authors go through daily is a battle of confidence.

This battle of confidence is vicious within the psyche of an author. What if what I am writing is total crap? Should I let anyone see it ever? Should I burn this and start over? This self doubt helps drive us to perfect our craft. Without this doubt authors would just publish their first drafts which are awful. Yes they are, don't delude yourself. You can do better.

This is why letting go is so hard for an author. I never feel like I am completely finished with a story. There is a finality that comes with publishing and saying that a story is finished. It never feels that way to me. The nagging question of "What happens next?" always tickles at the back of my mind. There are loose ends that never get resolved for whatever reason. If I covered everything then I would never finish anything and my novel would be 8,000,000+ pages. Still we have to let go at some point and click that publish button.

This feeling of the novel never being good enough drives authors to pour their heart and soul into them. It feels like a contract signed in blood is needed to write a novel. This is why some authors take bad reviews so personally. When we are targeted by a hate group it is even worse. Bad reviews can tank a work of fiction by cutting off opportunities for promotion like a Bookbub ad. So please do be kind to authors. We torture ourselves enough while writing a book. A harsh negative review can be soul crushing. That doesn't mean you shouldn't criticize authors, we need that criticism to improve our craft. The trick is to make it constructive criticism and not a Godzilla sized foot stomp.



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Writing Progress Updates


Virtual Wars Initialization (currently in editing hell)
Final edits: On page 160 of 168
Putting edits into computer: On page 138 of 168
Custom Chapter Headers: 33 of 41

Virtual Wars Running (Book 2)
Outline: 20%

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Pump the Positivity

I was recently reminded of a principle that I try to live by, but have had a hard time sticking to in everything. It sounds like a simple concept. Stay Positive. Two words that sound like they should be so easy, but it is much easier to lose your way and find yourself in the forest of mushrooms. Trust me, nothing good comes from the forest of mushrooms.

I was reminded of this from a friend I ran into recently that I hadn't seen for a while. He had this energy and pure joy emanating from him. It was truly infectious. It made me wonder what drugs he was on and where could I get some. He wasn't on a drug of any kind. He was filled with positive vibes and the happiness of just being. I could see how everyone there was drawn to him and the energy he was putting out. Everyone wanted to be a part of this positive vibe.

Your Writing

I sat down today thinking about how I generally try to keep a positive vibe, but recently I have been slipping out of that. Little negative comments here and there have been slipping out. I don't want to be that person. The next thought I had was... How can I apply this to my writing? Usually everything is collapsing in a work of fiction and there isn't much room for positivity. Sure the characters joke around, but then Godzilla steps on Jimmy and everyone is sad again.

What I thought of wasn't about using that positive vibe within the actual work of fiction, but rather using it toward the actual work. An affirmation that yes what I am writing is going to be good, that the editing will fix the problems within, that the cover art will help consumers to click that purchase button, etc..

Over the time that I have been writing my first novel I have dreaded or even avoided working on it because I had negative feelings toward the busy work of editing or lack of direction toward a specific chapter. I wonder how much quicker it would have been completed if I had taken a more rainbow colored pixie dusted unicorn view of it.

I am prone to procrastinate or completely avoid working on a project when I have these negative feelings toward it. From now on I want to pump the positive view on things before sitting down to work on it. My hope is that it will squash the urge to pick up my phone or play video games to avoid it.

Progress Updates


Virtual Wars Booting Up (currently in editing hell)
Final edits: On page 146 of 168
Putting edits into computer: On page 116 of 168
Custom Chapter Headers: 29 of 41

Virtual Wars Running (Book 2)
Outline: 20%

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Olympics of Writing


It has been a while since I posted something on Ye Ole Blog. It isn't for lack of having things to write about, but rather my focus on fiction writing that I am trying to finish up. Lately I have been thinking about the Olympics (Who hasn't?). Specifically I have been thinking about how Godzilla would win nearly every event if he entered, but which country would he represent? Applying the Olympics to writing is another idea I had.

Obviously this isn't a sport like those we see at the Olympics, unless competitive sitting has become an event. There are also many different awards available to writers awarded annually. The physical nature of the Olympics limits the age of competitors, but with writing there is no age limit. It could be argued that with age comes experience and an established narrator voice that gives practiced writers an advantage.

For writing I would also like a return of amateur status as a requirement similar to what the Olympics once had. This could be a competition to help undiscovered amateur authors get discovered and perhaps launch a career. Of course that only comes with the competition gaining a measure of prestige. This could also be considered a team event with editors, beta readers, etc.

Difficulties

The Olympics has always been an international competition and there are many different languages that are spoken around the globe. This means that there would be a need for judges that speak every written language for the stories submitted for judging. How can we overcome this? If the competition is limited to one language then that gives an unfair advantage to native speakers of that language. How can you capture the true spirit of the Olympics without it being a just and fair worldwide competition?

Forming teams would be problematic in itself. Just starting out you can't expect nations to spend money to put together teams of writers for this kind of competition. Without national backing who would compete as an amateur writer? Who would organize the team then if given the opportunity? In Olympic competition they have national competitions to help decide who moves on to compete with the best in the world.

Events

In spite of these difficulties, I can't help but to think of how these events would go. If you look at Wattpad, they have many competitions going on all the time. I'm sure they probably have their own Olympics of writing going on that has probably concluded by now. Imagining a competition event based upon a writing prompt for each genre with a word count limit is relatively easy at this point. Word sprints are a regular occurrence on social media as well. Coming up with a plethora of events to compete in would be easy. This sort of thing makes me wonder What if?

Progress Updates


Virtual Wars Booting Up (currently in editing hell)
Final edits: On page 109 of 168
Putting edits into computer: On page 101 of 168
Custom Chapter Headers: 27 of 41

Virtual Wars Running (Book 2)
Outline: 20%

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Plagiarism

I'm sure you all have heard about the most recent episode of plagiarism that has taken place. I don't want to talk about that today, but rather what people's reaction to it has been. I was appalled to find that half of my friends seemed to think the whole thing was a big joke and the other half seemed to think it was fake or not a big deal. To an author the thought of plagiarism is a horrific experience similar to having a nightmare about a never ending vapid conversation with the Kardashians.

Let's start with the definition of Plagiarism - the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.

At it's heart Plagiarism is theft. When you have developed an intellectual property, there are multiple revenue streams that you can collect from them. When someone steals your work and passes it off as their own, it dilutes the amount of revenue you could be collecting and gives it to someone else. This is money you will most likely never recover as an author unless you can somehow identify who it is that is doing this and they live in a country that will pursue such claims. Then there is the cost of court fees and lawyers and so on. For many it isn't even worth the effort to try to recover lost revenues.

Let's say you work construction and you build a house. It's a very nice house that you are expecting to get paid for. Now let's say John Doe picks up your tools, poses by the house for some pictures, and claims to be the one who built the house. Your boss says, "Wow! What a nice house! John Doe, you're getting a bonus!" I bet you would be pretty angry about it all when you find out, but John Doe has already skipped town with your bonus money and your chances of finding him are very low.

That is how it feels to be plagiarized as an author. This sort of thing happens all the time now that it is easier than ever to publish an ebook. People will make an exact copy of a book (even well known classic books), make minor changes to the cover, and then begin to sell it online as their own work of fiction.

It can be quite an ordeal to get Amazon to remove the offending novel that contains your stolen story. I have heard tales of an author's work being removed from Amazon because they found another similar book, which was published by someone who stole the work of fiction. If you search across the internet there are many tales of horror that rival that of Pikachu being melted down then frozen into a flavor of ice cream.

If you don't think plagiarism is a big deal then I want to be your friend, so I can take your ideas and eat them. I will be your personal idea zombie. I will craft and cultivate your best works by changing a word here and there and I will profit from your hard work while you enjoy diminished returns on your investment of time and energy. Thank you for your contribution to the Grand Idea Zombie Horde!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Write The Writing Writers

Yes I recycled a graphic I used previously. I like it... shutup! Anyway I have recently come up with a few new story ideas that I have no idea when I may have time to write them as I am still stuck in editing hell. I could make time to write other stories, but I am trying to get out of editing hell on this novel ASAP!

I also came across a few people who have set up a patreon to help get their writing in the works. In case you are wondering what the chickenbutt a patreon is... www.patreon.com. I am thinking about doing the same thing. If I decide to set up a patreon then I have to set up membership tiers that will outline rewards for each level of contribution. I don't expect much in the way of donations, but it would be nice to make a little money while working on these stories that are in my head. If anyone has any feedback please let me know.

Here are a few of the rewards I was thinking of offering to my patrons for monthly donations:
  • A new weekly chapter for a revival of my serial stories that are up on Wattpad. I plan to revive these stories for several more seasons, but have yet to make the time for them. I also have ideas for at least 3 more serial stories that I have yet to begin writing. I find that I am more likely to work on them when I am writing a new story rather than when I am editing and rewriting. Which doesn't make sense because I am going crazy with the urge to create new stories. I know I could keep up with writing these weekly chapters for my patrons.
  • Access to portions of whatever new project I am working on. Sort of a sneak preview that goes beyond the usual chapter at the end of my last work kind of thing.
  • Copies of all of my novels in ebook format once I have removed them from KDP Select or perhaps before I enroll them in KDP Select. It seems only fair to give these out if my patrons are paying more than enough to purchase one of these on their own.
  • Signed print copies of each novel as it comes out. Possibly for a higher level donation than the previous reward depending on shipping costs. I may use a flat rate shipping box for this to make it easier to calculate what my cost will be.
  • Other swag as it becomes available. I plan to put together different kinds of promotional materials including trading cards, figurines, flash drives with ebook copies on them, etc..
  • Name a character or become a character in my writing. They are probably going to die. Perhaps they will have extra lives like in a video game?
Anyway those are my ideas for now. I would love some feedback if anyone has any. Now it's time for an update on progress (YAY!)

Virtual Wars Booting Up (currently in editing hell)
Final edits: On page 105 of 168
Putting edits into computer: On page 70 of 168
Custom Chapter Headers: 20 of 41

Virtual Wars Running (Book 2)
Outline: 10%

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Big Picture

In case you haven't noticed, I have been very sporadic with my updates lately after being a model of consistency with my weekly blog posts. Today I am here writing that this will be ending. It's not the end of my blog, but rather a new beginning as I have experimented with in the past. I was happy with the results of my current version of the blog with the amount of traffic and the steady increases in readership that I have enjoyed over the past year or two.

My main reason for stopping the weekly blogs posts and movie reviews is that it is distracting me from my real goals. I am spending too much time on keeping this blog updated and it is taking a lot of time from what I really want to do. Writing fiction is what I really want to do.

The blog also isn't helping me the way I thought it would with building an email list or following. Yes I have had some limited success with this on Twitter and Google+, but ultimately will this help me sell books when I do finally push my word baby out into the world? From everything I have researched, no it won't.

The best way to promote a book, as I have heard over and over, is to write another one. That means I need to focus more time on writing and less on the everything else that I have been doing. Sorry Godzilla, but I will no longer run from you.  OK I lie, but still...

With that said, I am not going to quit blogging altogether. Now I will only be updating when I have something important to say or to post updates on what I am working on.

Virtual Wars Update

Final edits for Virtual Wars: Initialization (Book 1).
Pages finished: 71 out of 168



Outline for Virtual Wars: Running.
10% done.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Win Button

After a brief hiatus I have returned! Last week I took some much needed sanity time to myself. I spent that time doing some of the things I enjoy other than writing. I played poker, video games, and started watching Game of Thrones. I began to think of how video games and other forms of competition can be so addicting to us all. A friend of mine is hopelessly addicted to a game that is very simple in design, but it does have something that keeps you going and striving for more within it. It has multiple win buttons.

So what is the win button? More importantly, how can we apply it to our writing? We are wired to want to win. We always want the rewards that come with victory. In gambling that reward comes in the form of money. In a video game that comes with a cut scene, your scoreboard scrolling up more numbers, or a small pixel firework. That ding sound signifying victory also gives us comfort with the expectation of being given something more. A level up, something becomes unlocked, and now some more of the story is revealed.

Level Up

I like to think of each chapter as being a level in a game. I make each scene a new chapter rather than having multiple scenes in a long chapter. The short chapters can give a reader a sense of accomplishment as if they are making progress. The problem is making those chapters count. Sometimes you have background information that needs to be part of a scene to set up something later, but there isn't anything else in that scene to make it memorable. It also makes it easier to cut the fat from your work which can also cause plot holes. As you can see there are many advantages and disadvantages to the method (or madness) I use.

Side Quests

These little tasty morsels give your characters a vehicle to develop while giving background information out without boring readers with a ton of exposition. Exposition is like driving spikes into your reader's eyes. I think putting together side quests is a much better vehicle to send the necessary information through. While the main story and plot points are the reason you write the story to begin with, it is the side quests and stories that fill the dreaded middle of the novel and make it more interesting. Side quests can be as short as one scene, or expand themselves over the course of several novels as a major plot thread.

Revelations And Conclusions

These are the prizes you can give to readers as they read a novel. The end of each chapter or "level" deserves the reward of new information or some sort of conclusion. I like to end a chapter with a revelation that creates a cliffhanger ending. I try not to do that with every chapter. Without conclusions readers don't have any good stopping points. I am a notoriously slow reader, and understand the need for a good stopping point! Also if you never wrap up a side quest or plot point then you end up having a lot of loose ends that will drive you and readers both nuts. Don't cross the streams, unless you like have to stop Zuul.

These new food pellets of word crack will have readers turning the pages to see what is next in the same way they continue to hit the win button in their video games. It is important to leave a reader with a positive or juicy bit to leave them wanting to read on. Only the best wizards of words can wield this power to defeat the evil cannibal bunnies of Middle Scareyplace.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Rated R / 1 hr 26 min / Comedy

What is it about?

Connor 4Real is a pop star after Justin Beiber's heart. His first album sold over 4 million copies. His 2nd album is about to be released and he wants it to be bigger and better than anything he has done before. He spared no expense in having big names in the industry work with him like Michael Bolton, Yanni, and Tinky-Winky the purple Teletubby. The problem is that he abandoned all the people who made the first album a success and now he must suffer the consequences of having an album produced by DJ Lazy Smurf. His only shot at redemption is to renounce his foul practice of pooping during his performance and reunite with his friends.

You will like it if...

You like silly comedies starring Andy Samberg. Andy Samberg is a fine comedic sidekick, but isn't a star capable of carrying a movie on his own. He does well enough in this film, but doesn't get enough help from the supporting actors to make it great. The one exception is Chris Redd who gives the best comedic performance in the film and steals almost every scene he is in. Many of the gags fall flat as the film moves on and they are repeated several times while also overstaying their welcome each time. The celebrity cameos start off being funny, but by the end of the movie they feel lame. Three or four other gags that miss repeatedly are allowed more screen time than they deserve as well. There is a wealth of comedic talent that is wasted because the script only allows their characters to set up the next scene. Still there are almost as many hits as misses to amuse you throughout the film. The story of redemption gives you something to root for up until the end. While Popstar isn't a breakout comedy, it is decent enough to make fans of Andy Samberg and/or Brooklyn Nine-Nine happy. A mildly entertaining film that is well worth picking up from Redbox / streaming if you enjoy silly comedies.

Next Week

Godzilla will choose between Now You See Me 2 or Warcraft. As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on June 7

Monday, May 30, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 24 min / Action - Adventure - Fantasy

What is it about?

En Sabah Nur is having a birthday party, but the slaves have given him a very special present. It's an extra large Care Bear. Unfortunately the Care Bear is too big and also drunk. It knocks down one of the pyramids which buries the Egyptian god. Fast forward to the 80's. Moira Mctaggert is following a cult to a cave where they are chanting "The Cake Is A Lie". En Sabah Nur likes cake very much, so he bursts out of his prison. Now he wants to burn the world to the ground and anyone not strong enough to survive. He has to recruit mutants to be his Horsemen of the Apocalypse. His first two recruits are horsewomen, Storm and Psylocke. They also recruit the gruff fighter Angel... who apparently isn't the same Angel from X-men: The Last Stand. The final recruit is Magneto who will be all too happy to tear the world apart.

You will like it if...

You like the two most recent X-Men films. This third installment of the younger cast of X-Men films suffers from a lot of the same problems that The Last Stand did. An overly large cast ensures that no characters get enough screen time to truly shine other than Apocalypse. Even he ends up being a simplified version of the character from the comics. The script is at least coherent this time, but it is riddled with winks toward other characters and the previous films. These winks all too often end up being unintentionally campy. The script, like that of Superman V Batman, tries to do too much in a short time. That seems like a silly statement with the film being almost two and a half hours, but it is true. Fox has always had a problem with keeping continuity with their films, and this film has many continuity breaking moments. For all of its flaws X-Men: Apocalypse still manages to be entertaining in spots, but ultimately disappoints. I wanted to like this film as being a fan of Apocalypse from the comics. I very much enjoyed the Age of Apocalypse comics as well. This third film in the new trilogy makes a prophetic declaration in saying that "the third one is always the worst". At least it was not the disaster that was The Last Stand.

Next Week

Godzilla will choose Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie comes out also, but I refuse, because Michael Bay. As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on May 31

Sunday, May 22, 2016

I Have A Story To Tell

Everyone I know has a great idea for a novel and they want it to be written. They think writing is easy, but they want me to write their story. I can't write your story. Write your own. People don't ask Godzilla to raze whichever city you want him to raise terror in. Would people expect Godzilla to listen to them and do what they want? Let me tell you a little secret.

Writing Is Hard

It is really really effing hard. It seems easy. You think of a story, put together an idea, and put it on paper. Get some pretty notebooks, a purple ink pen, and let your thoughts bleed onto the page. Most people haven't actually TRIED to write a novel. They don't realize all the work that it involves, all the pain and anguish felt. The many versions of the story you go through, rewrites, and edits.

When you start out with that initial burst of energy it feels like you could go on forever. The words flow like honey over the pages making it stick to your eyes until tears begin to stream out. What happens when that initial burst of energy runs out? That dark place in the middle of your story that isn't fully developed. Sure there is a vague idea of what is supposed to go there, but will it be exciting enough to make the final cut of the book? Is it necessary to the main story? This is a critical stage of the novel where a lot of the character development and relationships are defined. Yet the middle parts aren't as exciting to write as the beginning or ending of the story. The journey to the final battle can be tough to get through.

The Plot Hole

Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. If you think the entire writing process is like that initial Roadrunner sprint then you are in for a rude awakening. That Coyote has a rocket strapped to his back and he has writer's block on his side. At some point we all change the way we think about a story and have to go back to add information that we feel should already be there. We could forget to include something that is vital to the part you are writing now. Perhaps while editing you delete a whole chapter because it was boring exposition, but it relays information vital to the story.

That, my friends, is the problem of the soul sucking plot hole zombie Smurf. Finding it can be as much of a pain as trying to plug the hole. It can cripple your story and make it so your beta readers write in red permanent marker "WTF" all over your manuscript. If you need to plug a hole then figuring out where to add the needed information is a pain and can feel forced if it doesn't fit the natural flow of the story.

NO

I am not going to write your story. You should try writing it first. I have so many ideas and not enough time to write them, and I very much WANT to write them. I write the ideas down in my idea notebook which is full of great story ideas. If you want to write one of them I will gladly share my story ideas with you. Please take them. They haunt my dreams like Freddy Krueger!

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Nice Guys

Rated R / 1 hr 56 min / Action - Comedy

What is it about?

A movie star named Twilight Sparkle crashes through a house and dies. Her aunt hires Ryan Gosling to find her. The aunt swears that she saw a purple glitter pony through a window where Twilight Sparkle used to live two days after their death. Russell Crowe is hired by Rainbow Dash to get some people off her back. She is scared for her life. The Smurf mafia breaks into Crowe's home looking for Rainbow Dash and they piss him off by throwing fresh fish at him. He decides to hire Gosling himself to help him track down Rainbow Dash to protect her. It turns out that Rainbow Dash looks like Twilight Sparkle a little bit and she is also the daughter of Gotham's mayor who may or may not be trying to kill her.

You will like it if...

You like detective mysteries with bumbling comedic detectives. Gosling provides most of the bumbling which is a new arena for him. His usual style of not being able to act any more than a block of wood actually fits the role. His deadpan delivery of the lines of script produce a few funny moments here and there. It is more a triumph of direction and the writing in the script than Gosling's performance. Still Gosling is likable enough next to Crowe to make the duo interesting to watch. Crowe provides his usual detective/tough guy role that he has reprized several times in the past. The script meanders about while still remaining interesting. The main characters at times seem like they are overly brilliant and then completely incompetent as each moment passes. This film could have been really good with different lead actors who were better and more practiced at playing comedic roles. The Nice Guys ends up being about as lukewarm as the title of the film. It is good for some light entertainment, but ultimately falls short of its potential. A decent film worth sitting through at a cheaper venue.

Next Week

Godzilla will choose X-Men: Apocalypse. Alice Through the Looking Glass also comes out next week! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on May 24

  • How To Be Single - RomCom with not much Rom or Com.
  • The Finest Hours - Like similar storm/rescue mission stories that have been done before. They all seem to be based on a true story like this one is.
  • Zoolander 2 - Not as good as the original, but still has a few laughs here and there.
  • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi - Similar to other desert warfare/rescue mission films. This time based on a true story.
  • Risen: Haven't seen this one yet, but looks like it might be interesting.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Setting Goals

No matter what venture you undertake setting goals for yourself is important. It is easy to see the end goal that sets you on your path. Your end goal might be publishing a novel, world domination, or getting Godzilla to turn Tokyo into ashes. There is more to it than just setting an end goal though. How do you motivate yourself to reach those goals? Is it a realistic goal?

Have A Plan

Once you have an overall goal that you wish to accomplish, then it is time to hatch a plan. So you sit on the egg to ensure it is warm, and wait. The first step in coming up with a plan is figuring out all the steps you have to take to reach that goal. Break each step down further and further until you can break them down no further. Each step in the plan should be easy to accomplish.

With each step accomplished it is one step closer to reaching the overall goal. It is important to tick off each box, so you can see the progress that has been made. That feeling of accomplishment can push you forward to the next step. Progress always feels good. It's like the creamy filling in a Twinkie.

Set A Schedule

A schedule puts a time limit on reaching the overall goal. Meeting deadlines for each step can help curb the urge to procrastinate. Perpetually putting things off until tomorrow will only guarantee that your aspirations are a never ending quest. Like the quest for perfection in all things Pokemon. There will always be another monster to catch, so why battle Squirtle over and over.

I like to take each step in my plan and set my schedule a month in advance on a whiteboard. Then I track my progress as I go. Sometimes I do not make my deadlines because of unforeseen obstacles and that is OK, but sometimes I surpass the schedule set before me.

My biggest problem when setting a schedule is that I am too optimistic with what I think I can accomplish within the time frame. I could do what I set out to if I did not have other responsibilities and other events pulling at me to take up my time and energy. Many times I try to take on more than I can handle which causes me to fall short of the goals I set on my schedule. This is not the best way to set your schedule though. If you are constantly having to push back deadlines and setting lesser goals then it gives you license to procrastinate. Do your best to set a realistic schedule to accomplish your goals. If there are events that conspire to take time away from you then you should try to make up that time in other places.

Goals

Your plan, schedule, and goals help to set benchmarks that lead up to you accomplishing what you set out to do from the start. If you do this well enough then you can reach your end goal quicker and more efficiently than you could otherwise. This is what I try to apply to my writing. Each plot point in my outline is a step within my plan. I haven't been good about applying this to my editing process, but it worked very well for the initial draft of my novel. I had chapter and word count goals that helped to push me forward through the initial writing process. Editing and rewrites have taken me much longer than it should have because I have not planned out the process well and also not set an adequate schedule for completion. This weekend I intend to make a glorious return to a set schedule which will be followed by streamers and fireworks and the sparks from the fireworks setting the streamers on fire. Hopefully no one gets hurt.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Money Monster

Rated R / 1 hr 38 min / Drama - Thriller

What is it about?

George Clooney is a financial show wizard from the world of Harry Potter. His patronus is a dollar bill folded into an origami butterfly. He recommended that people buy a stock and then the stock tanked. He then told people to grow some balls and buy more of the same stock. Clooney is to interview the CEO, but they got held up in an epic Pokemon tournament and couldn't make it. Instead they send a lady who only wants to remotely cosplay Sailor Moon. Before he gets a chance to interview her a man holds him at gunpoint to force him to become a suicide bomber for the man's jihad against capitalism. Now the Money Monster has to find out what happened to the man's money or die trying.

You will like it if...

You like straightforward thrillers based in the financial world starring George Clooney. Clooney does a serviceable job as usual, but his dancing is pretty hokey at the beginning intro of his fake TV show. His performance is about what you would expect from him at this point in his career. Julia Roberts does an adequate job of playing his producer as well. While there are many tense moments that help push the film, you never feel like any of the characters are really in danger. The man with his finger on the detonator is kind of a tragic hero that pulls sympathy from the audience. The script takes a predictable track that eventually leads exactly where you would expect. While the main theme has to do with corporate fraud, the story stays firmly planted into its fictional world. In other words the story doesn't feel realistic in today's world. What you get in the end with Money Monster isn't a monster at all. More like a small dog in a tutu growling at a wadded up dollar bill. Money Monster is a lightly entertaining thriller that doesn't really thrill much. If you are interested and like George Clooney then I would suggest watching it on Redbox/Netflix when it is available there.

Next Week

Godzilla will choose between The Nice Guys, The Angry Birds Movie, and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on May 17

  • The Witch - Horror with lots of tension, but few scares
  • Dirty Grandpa - Someone thought it would be a good idea to use Robert Deniro in a gross out comedy, it's worth a few laughs but not very good.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Experiments In Writing

Serious writers who write seriously and never have any fun at all. OK so I don't know anyone like that, but I do want to speak about other successful people I have seen in all walks of life. They are never satisfied with what they are working on. Everything evolves and can be improved. Nothing is ever perfect. With that in mind these people are always striving for perfection and always looking for ways to improve on what they currently have. My current Godzilla could be Mecha-Space-Godzilla in the future.

Mistakes are learning experiences, or as I like to call them, experiments. If you reach the desired result then you add it to your bag of tools to use when needed, but it doesn't stop there. You might find a better tool to use down the line that makes an older one obsolete. This can be applied to writing like nearly everything else.

Reading

Reading fiction from my favorite authors and others newer writers is probably the most important thing I can do to help improve my own writing. I wrote a whole blog post on critical reading where you can pull different things you learn from your reading experiences to apply to your own writing. I can't overstate how important the influence of other writers have on what you write, but when you apply it to your writing you must retain your voice. You are the best at being you. 

Writing Advice Books

Advice on the craft of writing is everywhere. There are many books written on the subject as well. These can help you with the general craft of your writing which can be a good thing, but it could also stiffen your words. Trying to fit your work within a strict template others have set out for you can dry out all of the personality of it. I have seen this time and again in film and TV. The story can be compelling and interesting, but with the personality of a block of wood.

Experiments

If you find something in a piece of fiction or writing craft advice that you want to use then try it out. Write something that uses it in your own voice. Not everything will fit in with your writing style. Writing styles are like fingerprints. If you try to meld a unique flavor it might make your soup not taste quite right. Not everything is going to work with what you are trying to do, and that is OK.

Keep what works and toss what doesn't. We are constantly evolving beasts and our writing is also. Constantly experimenting and trying different things can help you evolve and grow as an author. Now I have to see a man about a gamma radiation explosion. He told me not to make him angry.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Captain America: Civil War

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 26 min / Action - Adventure - SciFi

What is it about?

The Winter Soldier is back to his old tricks of being brainwashed into doing evil deeds like double dipping his chips. He's caught on film cheating at Tic-Tac-Toe. As a result the King of Wakanda dies in a related freak accident. T'Chill, his son and new King, wants revenge. The governments of the world want to blame the Avengers for previous incidents in the Avengers films. They also want to take out The Winter Soldier. Captain America won't have it. He wants to save his friend Bucky so they can hold hands and go to Build-A-Bear together. Ironman sides with the government saying that there needs to be oversight for their superhero shenanigans. Vision just wants to hold the Scarlet Witch in his dungeon for some 50 Shades kind of fun.

You will like it if...

You liked the previous Avengers and Captain America films. Not as action oriented as the previous Captain America film, but there is quite a bit more variety. The large cast of superheroes makes this more like another Avengers film than a Captain America film. It's not necessarily a bad thing though. They introduce some new characters to the Avengers lexicon. Some you are familiar with like Ant-Man and Spiderman while others you might not be like Black Panther. With well over 2 hours of run time every hero gets a chance to shine no matter how minor of a character they are to the actual story. The script surprisingly uses very little of the original plot from the Civil War story arc in the comics, so hardcore purists might not be pleased. The cinematic Marvel Universe hasn't been afraid to tread new territory and take risks, but what they have done very well is to stay true to the characters. That has been the reason for much of their success. The plot of this film is deeper and more nuanced than Winter Soldier, but moves at a pace that gives the characters little time to contemplate the moral dilemmas they are presented with. My only real gripe with the film has to do with the way some of the action scenes are cut with a sped up camera zoomed in close and using jump cuts. It makes it hard to see what exactly is going on other than men grunting. Thankfully it only ruins a few fight scenes mostly toward the beginning of the film. Captain America: Civil War ends up being almost as good as the excellent Winter Soldier film that preceded it and takes it's place as being one of the best films to date in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you are at all interested in this then you must see it.

Next Week

Godzilla will choose between Money Monster and The Lobster. As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on May 10

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Context

Hello everyone! If you have been following me on Twitter or been paying attention to this blog then some of you may classify me as an 'ally' or SJW or 'insane freaky ninja panda guy'. I really don't like any of those labels. First and foremost I am a person, and I believe that every other person deserves a certain level of respect. If you are reading this then you are most likely a human. If not, you're the reason I wear a tin foil hat!

This week what I want to talk about is something I have seen pop up from time to time where people are talking about banning or trying to attack people for using certain words. This is a form of social censorship. I understand that sometimes these words can be harmful to people for various reasons. I've said it before that words only have the power you give them. If you allow them to hurt you then they can and will. That's not the point of this blog post though.

Context and Intent

Banning words isn't going to fix this problem. People are going to make mistakes and be unintentionally harmful to others. Some will do so intentionally from a place of hate. Still I believe in hating the sin and loving the sinner. Even if they despise you there is no reason for you to internalize that hate. That is what they want. They want to drag you down to their level, so you will be just as miserable as they are. I prefer to rise above it and feel sorry for the anger and sorrow they carry with them. Anger is a heavy burden to carry and I don't have time for it.

I think that we should look at the context and the intent by which someone uses the word that has been harmful. It's on the person who uses the word and not the word itself. Obviously there are a few exceptions, but when we try to expand that to words that can be used in a non-harmful way then we get push back from people who are anti-politically correct. It's the intent of the word that makes it harmful. When it is used to separate groups of people and then describe them as being somehow subhuman or to be reviled, that is when it can be harmful.

It becomes very problematic when things are taken out of context. The press does this all the time to try to sensationalize a story. They try to create conflict and strife where there is none to sell a story. This kind of attack just creates unnecessary drama and stress for everyone involved.

Conclusion


Telling someone they can't use an otherwise seemingly innocuous word isn't going to keep them from finding other ways to deliver the same harmful message. It's the way these words are used that needs to change. Many of them work very well to describe an animal or plants or normal household items. The problem is when they are used in relation to people to separate and exclude groups of people to make it seem like they are something lesser. This kind of use is not OK.

I feel like most people are not intentionally harmful to others although I know some are. If we can explain why it is then we can all reach a deeper understanding and move forward as a people. It's not about banning a certain word, it is about communication. Taking into consideration the context can help with that.