Monthly Archives: March 2012

A Small Detour

If you’re a writer or an aspiring writer and you wish you could produce more work faster, let me tell you about Cyndy Mobley.

Eons ago, I transcribed novels for Cyn. She dictated like a runaway train, and, since I could still hear reasonably well and type reasonably fast, I was happy to work for her transcribing the tapes.

The worst part was getting caught up in the story and forgetting to type. Well, there was also the “sauna boy” incident, but that’s another story for another time.

Cyn writes a wide variety of books, from techno-thrillers to entertaining books with dog protagonists, a book about bounty hunting and books about martial arts. She is an excellent writer, and I say that not just because I wound up as a character name in one of her books, but because when I get my hands on one of the thrillers I didn’t type, I read it in one sitting. They are that good.

Cyn also wrote a couple of books about writing. BAM: Book A Month is a brief but incredibly valuable book for anyone who wants to produce good work faster.

If you are the type of writer who plans your plots and have at least some self-discipline, BAM might be just the kick in the pants you need. I say this as someone who plans little, if at all, and who has all the self-discipline of a sex addict in a whorehouse on Freebie Friday. I found BAM useful  and inspiring, and still refer to it for help in focusing my efforts.

My Idea Germs are All Shook Up

Have you ever heard of the New Madrid Seismic Zone? No, it isn’t in Spain. This particular fault line is named for New Madrid, Missouri, and it runs from there to the South and the Midwest.

Memphis is at what I am guessing is the southern tip of the main Seismic Zone, but earthquakes can and have occurred well away from that area. Earthquakes measuring more than 8.0 are possible.

While I’m no scientist, reading some information on Wikipedia (which I consult with a large salt shaker handy) that three distinct areas of this fault could conceivably misbehave at the same time gave me the willies. The destruction would be enormous, especially in thickly populated areas like Memphis. (If it happens, may the shaking open up the cages and free all the animals at animal control while swallowing up the POS subhumans who fail the animals so miserably there).

What would a high-magnitude earthquake cluster or major simultaneous events be like for the people living in the Zone? Some of the singular earthquakes originating there have rung church bells and rattled windows as far away as Boston and Charleston, SC.

In fact, New Madrid was completely destroyed by one large earthquake.Imagine what several major earthquakes or an entire symphony of earthquakes would do. Would fissures open up and swallow houses or whole towns? Would rivers reverse their flows? Disappear? How far away from the epicenter would the damage spread?

Bearing in mind that I am a fool for disaster movies, it’s no wonder this concept–for fiction, not for real life!–is so interesting to me.

I’m off to do some more research while I ponder the idea.

 

 

Kindle vs. Everyone Else

Are there more Kindles than Nooks out there? If my sales, which are admittedly still very small, are any indication, then the answer is a resounding yes.
I am thinking of unpublishing Memory’s Child at both Nook and Smashwords and going with the Kindle Select program. This makes my e-book exclusive to Kindle for three months, and makes it available for Prime members to borrow for free. Authors get a cut of a pool of money Amazon keeps for that.
If I go with Kindle Select, I can also offer MC free at various intervals, which I think has more chance of bringing me some much-needed reviews.

Are there more Kindles in the reading world than other types of e-readers? It seems so.

I’m still pondering the idea. If anyone has some experience to share, please feel free!

At the Finish Line

And the winner of my own personal writing marathon is…me.

I cranked out a smidgen over 5,000 words this weekend. 5,092, to be exact.

Each morning, I prepared by assembling the things I needed to keep me going – coffee, water, Mountain Dew (nectar of the gods), plus a plastic bag filled with sliced raw vegetables and a small cup of ranch dressing for dipping. I made white bean chili a few days ago, so I had a bowl of that in the fridge, ready to microwave.

I began work by re-reading and editing what I wrote the day before, to help me rev up to continue the tale. This is the way I have always done things, and it works well for me. Your mileage may vary. I do not, I should mention, work from an outline initially. Later, as the story becomes meatier, I make outline-ish notes to help me remember timelines, characters, and hot spots in the plot.

Of course, by the time I hit 40k words, I can’t take the time to  start at the beginning and re-read. Instead, I re-read the last chapter I wrote and soldier on from there.

I think that having a specific goal and a specific time period to focus on helps enormously. Given my usual inability to focus – I snuck onto the Internet a few times and got caught once – this type of short-term, intense goal-setting proved helpful in ways I did not anticipate. Not only did it help me get the words flowing, but the ideas, as well. New ideas popped up and some original ideas became more clear and solid in my mind.

I may do this again next weekend.

Sweatin’ to the Oldies

Today’s playlist during my writing marathon:

  • War (What is it Good For)
  • One Tin Soldier
  • Ride of the Valkyries
  • Come as You Are
  • Memory Lane

Made it to 2,296 words so far today and hope to write some more now that dinner is over, the dishes are washed and the dogs are fed and sleepy.

All in all, this has been a good day for writing. I’m not quite “in the groove,” but I’m getting there. The scenes are visible to my mind’s eye and the possible paths my protagonists will take are becoming  more clear. Which way will they choose to go?

Marathon Writing Challenge

No, I’m not challenging anyone to a “write-off” this weekend. I’m planning my own marathon – of writing – this weekend.

I plan to begin at 8 a.m. Saturday and end at 8 a.m. Monday  – with time off for sleep and meals, bathroom breaks and possibly a conversation with my husband.

The plan is to eschew Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, blogs and web surfing for 48 hours and concentrate solely on writing.

I will allow myself to make notes of things I need to look up on the Internet, like genetics and climate, etc., but I won’t look them up until Monday.

Luckily for my decidedly addicted self, I connect via a Cricket broadband modem that plugs into a USB port on my laptop. All I have to do is pull the modem out and toss it into a drawer.

My goal for this weekend is a minimum of 5,000 good words on the sequel to Memory’s Child. Secretly, I’m hoping for double that. I need to get into the groove, and an exhausting, sweaty 10K marathon will give me a sense of accomplishment and some needed momentum.

If you want to join me, just post a comment with your achievement. Otherwise, just wish me luck. After two decades of writing mainly nonfiction, my creative side is a tad rusty.

Not to mention that I am as addicted to the Internet as most people I know, and I have the self-control of a starving rat in a cheese factory.

If you happen to see me sneaking onto the Internet, feel free to yell at me to log off and get back to work.

Fish Germs

www.2heads.co.za

Tuna is yummy, but will we run out of it? Photo by Dominic Morel, South Africa.

It was a normal stop at the grocery store that wound up becoming one of the germs for my novel.

I found myself scanning the neatly stacked cans of tuna, comparing prices and packing substances (water vs. oil), and trying to determine whether the store brand or the generic brand would be tastiest.

Then I looked again, at the whole tuna inventory. The cans were stacked at least three high and at least three stacks deep. Rows and rows of canned tuna. I’m no mathematician, but I estimated, conservatively, at least 200 cans.

The store wasn’t especially large, and neither was the town I lived in at the time. We had maybe five grocery stores. If they all had equivalent inventories, that’s more than 1,000 cans of tuna. Multiply that by, say, 200 towns in Georgia similar to mine, and you’ve got…well, a lot of cans.

And that’s just smallish towns in one state. Apply the math to both larger and smaller towns, and multiply it by all 48 contiguous states, and the amount of canned tuna sold in the U.S. alone is staggering.

I pondered that for a long time. The population isn’t falling, so the demand for tuna – and other types of food – isn’t going to decrease, either.

At what point will the ocean run out of tuna? What is the tipping point, the point at which the number of tuna taken by fishermen overtakes the number of tuna born every year?

Imagining a post-apocalyptic world, you also have to imagine how it got that way. Was it war? Disease? Drought, flood, fire? Assuming the global population decreased dramatically, was it cause by those events, or the result of those events – injury or radiation poisoning (war), starvation due to crop failure which also causes the failure of the meat industry (drought, flood), mass suffocation and immolation due to the eruption of a super volcano (fire)?

Will we over fish the ocean, over farm the land, over pollute the water? What if we do all of these things?

My basic question was not, then, how an apocalypse might happen, but when.

This is the type of speculation that is great fun to carry from the pondering stage to the writing stage.