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FOR WRITERS

Followers, Friends, & Phantoms

One compensation of being disabled by an illness is more time to think about stuff about which one normally ignores. For this illness, the thoughts have been drifting toward the changing definitions of important words brought about by advances in technology. As the definitions change, so do the concepts the definitions attempt to represent.

For example, the word "Friend." Dictionary definitions for this word have always been lame. I like the "Someone who knows the worst about you and loves you anyway; someone upon whom, for that love, you can depend on and trust; someone who wishes only the best for you." By this definition, twenty years ago I had perhaps three friends. Then came Facebook and GovSpinSpeak.  Read More 
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White Space: Ski Slopes & Story Beginnings

Writers: Ever freeze up trying to get an important new story started? Your mind is going a thousand miles an hour, searching for the perfect beginning, but your fingers are caught in quick-set concrete. You are jammed. The upshot is that nothing gets on the paper.

Skiers: Ever freeze up at the top of a steep new double black-diamond trail? Your heart's in your throat beating a good 500/min, your mouth's suddenly dry as dust, you're seeing yourself flying a thousand miles per hour into a solid wall of ice, but your skis are bolted solid to the snow. Not going anywhere; You are jammed. The upshot is that your tracks don't make it down the trail at all.

It was easy for me to recognize the similarity between the two situations because I both ski and write. Read More 
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Nobody's Buying! What Do I Do?

The economy is in the crapper, the promised turnaround is out there somewhere hiding with "prosperity is just around the corner," losing pro ball players are getting multiple millions, and long-established professional writers are on seemingly permanent raman noodle diets. Editor George H. Scithers once told me that, in tough economic times, books and magazines have to compete with beer, and when it comes to a choice between beer and something to read, well, bet your investment dollars on Bud.

Where does that leave writers? Okay, the big-name blockbuster writers, the airport newsstand authors, those blessed by Imus and Oprah, might possibly see a slight decrease in sales. Perhaps they might have to put off the diamond-studded yacht until next year. They are not running from the wolves.

The so-called "midlist authors," however, are wolf meat. As it was explained to me once, "midlist author" is a term of sales art used by marketers to avoid identifying a publisher's other-than-bestselling-writers as "bottom list" or "bottom-of-the-barrel." The reality, however, is that the vast majority of professional freelance writers are "bottom list." And don't get your nose out of joint--I number myself among them. Read More 
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Short & Sweet

I am deeply into my second aTwitMystery story, this one titled "A Hitman's Lot." It brings an old writing task to mind.

The term "tightening up" a story or scene is easy to understand. It is getting from point A to point B with fewer words. It is an editorial comment still aimed in my direction on occasion. If you find yourself in similar straits in your rejection mail, try writing your story as a series of tweets on Twitter. You simply can't do those page-long blocks of description in 140 character squirts (including spaces). I'm having a lot of fun with aTwitMystery, but it is scary. It's writing with the readers looking over your shoulder, and commenting, going into publication with each tweet. I originally did this to bring folks to my website, and it is doing that. However, the twit story genre is the writing equivalent of doing improv.
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Trying Something New

For the past few days I've been trying out a new genre/format/kind of writing I've been planning ever since I first heard about Twitter. It's written by a hitman who fills in his odd moments on the job tweeting to his followers his current status and the events of the day. He  Read More 
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Nuts, Bolts & Laughs

There are many works that helped me along the road to authorhood, but the first of these was Harry Harrison's BILL THE GALACTIC HERO. I had been in the Army and was an avid science-fiction reader, and BILL satirizes both. I laughed until I hurt, and when I was finished reading Harry's book, I  Read More 
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Pet Peeve #1

When I guest lectured at the Odyssey workshop a few weeks ago, I was asked by one of the student what my pet peeves are regarding writing. I went through my list of anti-vibes: Telling instead of showing, starts slowed by set-ups and lectures, ginormous blocks of description, etc. It wasn't until I was  Read More 
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Ideas and Other Obligations

Up to my ears in overhauling the Webmansion, yet those pesky story ideas keep intruding on relearning the composing program, capturing icons, getting postings straight, reformatting countless pages, etc., etc. I caught myself putting one such idea aside, assuring myself that I would remember it later when I had completed the mind-numbing website repair  Read More 
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Why This Blog?

I have two great loves I plan to honor through this experiment: Writing and teaching writing. Two lesser affections, reading awareness and chewing the fat about the writing art/business, will creep in here and there. Your comments, questions, and suggestions are solicited, and those deemed useful will appear here. If you have something  Read More 
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