21

01/22

Read Harder 2022 Challenge (part 1)

2:06 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Reading,Review
  1. read a biography of an author you adore:

Read a history about a period you know little about:

Read an entire poetry collection

12

01/22

Top Ten 2021

4:30 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Inspiration,Reading,Review

10. “Reduction in Force” – Steve Soult (fiction, short story) You think you got it bad…

9. The Sorcerer’s Secrets – Jason Miller. (non-fiction, magic) Although he’s a little full of himself (what real practicing magician isn’t?), this is a really good introduction to magic without fear.

8. Three-Story Method – J. Thorn. (non-fiction, writing) I read a lot of books on writing. I liked this book so much that I bought the corresponding workbook which was worthless. And I liked this book so much that if you ask me now what was so great about it…I don’t know.

7. Being Indie – Eeva Lancaster (non-fiction, writing) Marketing as an indie. Useful tricks and tips.

6 “Best Served Cold” – Bob Schnoover. (fiction, short story) It’s so unfortunate that we lost this author last year. I would have loved to read what he planned to do in our Truck Stop series, and wish I could read the other stories that Analog rejected.

5. The Viking Spirit – Daniel McCoy (non-fiction, Norse magic) The warriors of the north. My kid got me interested in Loki – Marvel’s Loki. Who I think is cool, but not someone I want dating my kid. Reading this reinforced that idea.

4. The Conflict Thesaurus – Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi. (non-fiction, writing). I have to pick this up in paperback. It’s wasted on Kindle.

3. High Magick – Damien Echols. (non-fiction, ceremonial magic) The first book that got me on the Qaballic Kick. I didn’t need to read the other books on ceremonial magic – this one was fine.

2. Mastering Your Mystery – Cheryl Bradshaw. (non-fiction, writing) Excellent, excellent book on writing mysteries, even if they are formulaic. She goes from planning to writing to publishing to marketing.

  1. Seeker – Morgan Chalut (fiction, fantasy). Well-written, easy to read, plotted well, twists, realistic, and excellent world-building.

24

12/21

Success! Ummm…

3:56 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Reading,Writing

H/T to Steven D. Brewer in his blog, what does success mean to me.

Now this entry isn’t going to sound as scholarly as his, but humor me.

Was I rich this year? Nope. But I’m not complaining at what I have made. Any cup o’ tea helps.

Was I famous this year? I touched more people with Carnival Farm than I had with Grimaulkin. General fiction is a winner. Who’da thunk?

I did like something noted in Steven’s blog:

Jane McGonigal, in her book Reality is Broken, identified four qualities that make for a happy life: (1) Satisfying work to do, (2) The experience of being good at something, (3) Time spent with people we like, and (4) The chance to be a part of something bigger.

  1. Check.
  2. Check
  3. Cheaaaaaakkkk? (Two toxic people in my life I’m working on distancing myself from)
  4. Don’t care. At least, I don’t think so.

DBT talks about “Mastery”, and I will admit, I think that I have achieved the mastery of writing. (Wait! No more writing books? Oh, hella no–I’m addicted to collecting those like I’m addicted to collecting tarot cards.) So what do I do when I feel like I’m worthless–i.e., those two toxic people tell me I am worthless?

I write. Or I read something that I know I can write better. Or I outline. I plan the next scene. And I try to work hard on it to get it published.

Writing equals success. Publishing equals success. Money and fame are icing.

07

03/21

No more (writing) books!

12:53 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Carnival Farm,Inspiration,Reading,Writing

This weekend, I plowed through my writing books to figure out what to get rid of and what to keep. What to get rid of is a small group, but I don’t know what good home to give them to. What to keep is bigger, mostly because “It took me so long to find this book” or “I plan on doing the exercises in this book” or some other sentimental value. Note sentimental. It’s not because they’re great books, helpful references, or anything like that – it’s because I feel something about them.

That’s most of them. I also organized my Kindle library and noted that a couple of years ago, I was into every writing book that came out. How to write a mystery/fantasy was the biggest topic. I don’t know why I bought those. Because now, I know the real secret to writing books is reading books.

I’m presently reading a lot of magical theory/non-fiction books, so my sense of fiction is pretty meh. I’m planning on reading some books and magazines I got on Kindle Unlimited that are fiction, just to see what people are doing. My biggest wait is for Morgan Chalut’s series from Water Dragon Press.

I’m also back on Twitter @warwriter . Look for quick and dirty reviews, daily life musings, and retweets that I find to be interesting.

“Carnival Farm” just hit 40K. Today’s writing seems forced – my Muse doesn’t want to work today. I think it’s because She knows that I’m waiting for other things to happen today (my friend is supposed to come over and I had other plans for today) and doesn’t want to put me “in the zone”. I mean, I showed up for Her this morning, but, oh well.

I want to write, but I want to play-write, write without a reason. That’s another thing that all these books say: You have to have a purpose, an audience that you’re writing for. I’ve been brought up with that and taught that. In my first incarnation of 800 Words I would write scenes for the fun of it. Take a character, take a situation and go.

I want that again. 800Words.net was supposed to be that, but requires a picture. Sometimes it takes me a half hour to find the picture that matches the bit that I wrote. Maybe that’s my goal for today: Play-write. But when I play-write, I usually do it in a notebook.

06

06/20

When it all goes sideways

4:52 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Inspiration,Life Sucks,Reading

For two weeks, I’ve been rewriting my newest WIP. Not editing. Rewriting.

And now it’s totally off the rails, and I’m only on chapter 4.

I tried to make it more involving, make the main character more sympathetic instead of accepting of everything. I ended up making her a lovesick puppy pining for some eye candy.

All the potential, all the fun in the story, is gone. I’m trying to make it logical, give it a plot, make it a typical fantasy story. I’m trying to extend a story line, establish the side stories, introduce characters that will show up later.

It’s logical.

It’s dry.

It’s boring as hell.

That’s not to say the first draft wasn’t boring. The first draft’s main character accepted the Mean Spirit and ran with it. There was no conflict. Oh, there was a plot. There was a story.

It reads like the first hundred pages or so, I’m trying to get my legs under me. By the first quarter, I had a clue. I dropped things here and there that, to be honest today, I have no idea what they meant (I wrote this first draft before having a Story Bible). So with that in mind, I started to sit down and edit.

The next thing I know, I’m rewriting the first chapter because of the deep edit cuts I did in chapter three. The main character should have a lot more questions than she does. But I because i know the answers, I don’t know the questions.

I need to walk away from this story and come back to it and choose to rewrite it. The more I write, the more it’s getting away from me.

As for reading, I’ve read a couple of gay romance novels that were really good, and others that said to me, “If I had that character, I’d do this instead.”

One I was reading at the same time as writing this one and I was thrilled with the characters–until book 2. A friend of mine said, “In Book 2, they always take the character you cherish and do something horrific to him.”

The author did just that. I didn’t finish book two because i was disgusted–more at myself for being led on. I suppose that’s part of the formula (hell, I did it in Book 3 of Grimaulkin’s series).

I took out my cards one day and asked, “What should my next writing project be?” I don’t remember the exact card, but its meaning was clear: something new and different. Because my life is taken up with dialysis, kid, work, and sleep, a brand new writing project doesn’t show up there.

Part of me wants to write to market. Part of me wants to write to write. All of me has no idea what to do next.

27

10/19

Almost there!

8:38 am by L. Jacob. Filed under: Dark Mystic Quill,NaNoWriMo,Reading,Review,War Mage

The good thing about dialysis is I have time to read books. I broke down and got Kindle Unlimited, so I could get some fiction books for “free” ($9.99/month). I also purchased a few Kindle editions of books that are best sellers or recent sellers. I downloaded a few novel-writing workbooks, too, that I’m working with in my journal.

So far, I have a few scenes for NaNoWriMo’s story. I need subplots. I’m making up this entire thing. It’s not going to be an accurate representation of Latino life, and I’m not appropriating that culture for this. This story is mine and mine alone, and is never going to get published because I’m not backing it up with facts. You know me, I research things to death before writing anything, which is why War Mage took me so long to write. I finally threw my hands up and just said, “Forget it,” and wrote War Mage just to finish the story.

I found the original story in one of my notebooks, and I’m kicking myself for not sticking with that original story. It would have been better, I think.

I read most of a book called Shadow Company by Michael Hesse. So far I’m the only reviewer on Goodreads for him. I gave him four stars for military accuracy and interesting story world, but the character had been through too much by the time I got almost half-way done with it, that I didn’t want to bother anymore. I didn’t realize that it was a 500 page novel, either.

Shadow Company has a bit of “The Chosen One” trope, which I have outgrown since reading the Dragonlance series and attempting (every few years) to read the entire Lord of the Rings series. But I would suggest you read it if you like military fantasy like I do.

I plan on doing a podcast today in anticipation of NaNo, and hope to do podcasts every week updating people on my progress. I’m tempted to write the story upstairs on my Mac, without any distractions other than some music and tarot cards for jumping off points.

06

10/19

Memoir

3:40 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: NaNoWriMo,Ova,Reading

I bit the bullet and sent my memoir, Torn Asunder, to my publisher to have him take a look at it. Right now he’s in the throes of publishing Corporate Catharsis, an anthology that I wrote a story for entitled “Hextron, Inc.” so I’m not expecting a response to it within the next couple of months. Catharsis comes out November 1, and that’s also the start of National Novel Writing Month, when the publishing company shuts down so we can all concentrate on writing.

I don’t think I’m going to work on it this year, especially with my time constraints. I know for certain I won’t be able to make the minimum daily requirements. But the other thing is I don’t have a freaking clue what to write.

Ova has turned into a real shitshow. The problem is I’ve written the story once, I liked it, but it got taken out with The Purge of my house I did in March. I don’t want to sit here and retell a story I’ve already told myself. That’s not how I write. I’m a pure discovery writer. I plot the beginning and the end, and how we get to the end is totally left up to the Muse. I’m just along for the ride.

Ova might be interesting to others, but I can’t seem to get myself into it. So instead of excuses, I’m just going to dump it and consider it lost.

While cleaning out my filing cabinet, I found my old floppy disks (the 3 1/2″, not 5 1/4″ ones) with Hunter’s Realm on them. I do have Hunter’s Realm on my TB drive, and I liked how that one came out. I loved Luther so much – he was a real Mary Sue, though. I should read through it and see if it’s viable. As a YA story, I think it is, because I wrote it when I was in college.

NaNoWriMo requires a new story, though, so that’s where I’m stuck. I have so much going on…what story could I do? And what time do I have to do it?

I’m beta-reading a story for someone, and while I’m reading it, I’m thinking, “I can do better than this with my eyes closed.” I’m catching small things that are really good, and glaring errors. An example stuck in my head is using the word “junkyard” in a fantasy world with elves and dwarves. It brings to mind rusting cars. Maybe “scattered about like a pile of junk.” Or, my favorite word of the year, detritus.

Should I yank out my old D&D books?

21

04/19

12:48 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Blood From a Stone,Inspiration,Promotion,Reading,Review

Next Saturday, I will be appearing at the Providence Book Festival in the Renaissance Hotel. It’s a fancy joint, so I might have to dress up. and I have to pay an insane amount to park. Oh well; at least I’ll be with other Pulitzer Prize winning local authors (though I never heard of them). It should be interesting.

I might have one appearance in May, but on June 1 I’ll be in Woonsocket for their second annual Meet and Greet. I hope to participate in Pridefest on June 15 – it depends on when I get my tax ID. It’s the little things.

In the meantime, healthwise, I don’t feel like I’m getting better, and some days are better than others. Today is already rough; I can imagine what next week will bring. I have some tests the following week to decide whether or not I’ll need oxygen. If that happens, I might as well give up doing the outdoor events. Nevermind how the heck I’m going to get around.

Progress on Blood From a Stone is excellent. I’ve plowed through my manuscript, fluffed up some scenes, taken out some worthless characters, and told a story. It’s the how that is going to be the problem. I know what I want to say now, what I meant to say in the first draft; now I need to figure out how.

It’s going to take some significant rewriting on my part to get it to be the story I wanted. But it has some hope, unlike Yellowtree which has the only hope of a good title.

Speaking of good titles:

Review: Clean
I didn’t finish it. Maybe I’ll go back to it. Why?
The main character (A Level 8 telepath, whatever the hell that means) is a recovering junkie. I thought, okay, that’s interesting. But he brings it up in every chapter. In every other chapter, he keeps asking his superiors for help from “The Guild” and the superiors keep saying no. By the fifth time of all this happening, I’d had it. (Remember the rule of three, people. Reject it three times and then do something about it, or your reader will think you’re dragging it along like a dead horse.)

Review: Hot Lead, Cold Iron
I’m still reading it, though I’m getting really close to not finishing it.
The main character, Mick Oberon (probably that Oberon, I wouldn’t be surprised) is a 1930’s noir PI fae. I thought that was a great idea, too, except the narrator’s voice keeps switching from period voice to a more modern voice. It’s like hearing a high Victorian lady spout the f-word like a soldier. We’ll see if I finish it.

17

02/19

No longer a blank page

I finally sat down this morning and went back to writing for Grimaulkin Collected. After being sick for two weeks, I just couldn’t get the gumption to write.

Luckily, I had written the summary for the Knight in the Atheneum, a story of rebellion and return. My goal is to write that story today.

Yesterday I went to the Cumberland Monastery’s Author Expo and sold one Homecoming book. Which was better than some other people. Besides, I was there to network mostly, not necessarily sell books.

I have asked to assist in the editing of our local Association of Rhode Island Authors Anthology this year. I have nothing to submit, to tell you the truth, as my time this year seems to be spent on health and getting the books out for Paper Angel Press.

My newest book, Air, is out under the Zarra Knightley imprint, if you want to check that out.

What I’m reading
Memory and Metaphor.
I normally don’t like sci-fi. but this is really well-written, and is keeping my attention. However, there’s a couple of books I have on Kindle Unlimited that I want to read before my subscription expires next month.

The Snarky Writer
I’ve posted a few things on this page. It’s a fun page to see how the writing life has affected us as writers in strange and weird ways–interactions between friends and coworkers and even strangers.

13

01/19

The Erotic Formula

12:40 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Inspiration,Reading,Review,Writing

I’ve read a few gay erotica books, two by the same author, and found out that she follows this formula.

  1. Introduce the two men as forbidden fruit to each other.
  2. They find out they’re gay.
  3. One has an issue being gay (he was bullied because of it or he’s normally straight).
  4. One is in control and eventually loses control.
  5. First sex scene is kissing, hugging, touching.
  6. Second is nude, but they separate afterward
  7. Third may include penetration, but mostly oral
  8. Fourth includes penetration
  9. Subsequent sex consist of breaking down of barriers of the “top”.

The story itself is secondary to the erotica (obviously). There are a few twists and turns to keep the story going, but in general, the end is the bad guy offers his “listen to my evil plan” speech, and dies at the end.

Now, in short stories, I might have trouble following this formula, as I don’t have time to go through four or five incidents of sex. As a novel, yes, I think I can do this.

An update: Last quarter I sold 77 books! That’s combining my erotica with my Paper Angel Press books. I was amazed. Thank you all so much for continuing to support me!

Air is slated for release on February 14 (natch). Audio version probably a month or so after that.

Grimaulkin Collected is slated for May. I have to get writing a little faster on this one.

What I’m reading:

Shiver. After a break, I finished this book, and glad I did. Even though this book was very like her other book Deadly Lover, it had a nice twist at the end that I didn’t expect at all. I’ll pick up her other books to see if she pulls the same formula out.

Steele My Heart – Tatum West
Sweet romance. Not my thing. Got to chapter 4 and tossed it back to Kindle Unlimited.

Fractured Truth – Ashe Winters
Vampires. Okay…I’ll try it. Only on Chapter 2, but finding it interesting.

Older Posts »