Monthly Archives: August 2016

The Day Job

My father does not believe in me as a writer. Whenever I call him, he never asks me, “So how’s the book selling? How’s the new book going?” It’s always, “You still have a job?”

My day job has nothing to do with me being a writer. It is a mindless drone-like task that Koko could do. Not in any way challenging.

I’m planning on changing my day job, to finally take that step up the career ladder.I’ve been there for 9 years and have been insulted to show for it. So I’ve been trying to get at other positions, mostly in the writing and editing fields. I’ve tried inside and outside of my company. No dice.

So here’s my dilemma: do I take a job that will eat away my writing time, and possibly my creative spirit, or do I stay in a mindless job that doesn’t sap my creative ability?

Unfortunately, most of us writers have a day job, and the ones that don’t are lucky. Either there’s a spouse working so they can keep the writing life, or they’re selling that many books – and living much more simply – than I am. Do I want to make this a real job?

I keep telling people no, because I need inspiration for my characters. But my real reason is that I’m not disciplined enough. On my weekends, I want to write, but do I really? I did yesterday. Haven’t today, not even in my journal. I write when I’m pressured: during my lunch, 5 minutes before leaving for work, waiting during doctors’ appointments. ¬†If given two hours, or even days, I find something else to do other than write.

Sleep is a big thing, actually. Game is second. Writing…yeah, I think about it a lot, but I’m not consistent. If I get this new day job, I’ll be very inconsistent, and my muse will be upset. Because writing will no longer be the big thing in my life, but just something I do when I get a chance.



September 10, Narragansett Meet and Greet 10 a.m-3 p.m. Narragansett Theatre by the Sea.

Will have Homecoming books, and Best Intentions under the table. Also testing out my “attract money” spell. ūüôā

Writing when Depressed

A lot of writers suffer from mental illness. Many of them famously self-medicated with alcohol and drugs.

I’m in a crisis. One of my cats, Trixie, had to be put down because she suddenly got sick. I, of course, am blaming myself for that decision–could I have done something more? If I hadn’t paid bills, I could have saved her. If I had done a lot of things, I could have saved her. I’m still kicking myself for it.

And I’m depressed.

I should just write, but I can’t seem to get the gumption, the energy, to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. So if I can’t write, then I can read.

When the well has run dry or been blocked, I have found that it’s time to refill the well. ¬†I will read writing books, watch war movies, and generally do “research” for my books. Then, when this is over, I’ll get back to writing.

Artist’s way update:

I’ll be honest, sleep is more important than writing. I know, I know, I should set my priorities straight. Maybe this week I’ll think that writing is more important…Maybe.

I can’t write to a theme, I’m an ARTIST.

There is a Kindle book out there called Write to Market: Deliver a Book That Sells by Chris Fox. I skimmed¬†it for funsies (Kindle Unlimited, so I wouldn’t feel so dirty after spending $3 for it).¬†He basically says if you want to sell books, you have to write what people want. To hell with your art. To hell with what you like. You write at the behest of your fans.

This goes against why I write. I don’t write to sell, though that’s nice. I write to read. I write a story that I myself would plunk down money for. Another reason why I write is because the muses have¬†this story idea that they¬†want to get out on paper, and if it goes out into the world, so much the better. That’s Brent’s story, which started as a dream. It turned into a “story I would pay for” later.

Which brings me to the title. I found out that the Association of Rhode Island Authors is holding a contest for their next anthology (title TBD), and they put out a theme “People of the State of Rhode Island.”¬†Instead of my muses saying, “*scoff* That’s stupid. Why write to what they want?”, they took the bone and tossed it into the cauldron. What I got a couple of days later was a memory: my Uncle Manny telling me stories of prohibition.

Hm, hm, hm, I thought, and mulled it around like sucking a hard candy. I had heard other stories from my family – my Aunt Alice’s courtship, my grandmother Elsie’s love for an Irish boy, my Aunt Emma’s death at 14 from some unknown sickness, my Uncle Charlie’s death in the war. My great-grandmother Rose was still alive when I was very young, couldn’t speak a word of English; but my Uncle Manny would tell me all the stories of how she, as the matriarch, kept the family together after her husband, also named Manuel, had died (before my time).

I brainstormed in my journal. I gathered the characters, made them young enough for Prohibition and courtship, and then put pen to paper to start writing. As I usually do, I research on the fly. There was a “Danny Walsh” who operated in the Valley, an Irish bootlegger centered in Pawtucket. I threw him into the mix. I made up the name of the bar and owner (until I get to the Cumberland Library for research).

Of course, my first draft is just getting it down on paper, but I’m already editing as I’m going. I have 5K words to get this story on paper, and I’m not even sure if it’s worth a story on its own. But I’m going to try it, get my beta readers to look it over see if they like it, and then submit it. What’s the worst that could happen? They say no?

So when given a theme, an idea, or a spark, I notice that it’s something the muses thrive on. It’s a writing prompt, not a command. My art won’t suffer for it, but will thrive.

Next Appearance:

I’ll be at an Author Meet and Greet in Narragansett, RI in the Theatre-By-The-Sea on Beach Street, September 10 from 10-3. I’ll have Homecoming, and also Best Intentions selling under the table. There will be about 40 other authors there with their wares, as well. It’s after the tourist season, so it would be a great time to come to the beach and check out one of the more beautiful places in Rhode Island.

Somebody Set Them Up The Bomb

This week, for the past week or so, I haven’t been writing. It’s not that I don’t have the time. I have two books that I’m working on at the same time, and I don’t know which one to concentrate on, so I decide to not work on either.

At this point, what’s got me stuck is the indecision of what to work on.

I pulled open both books and noticed I had stopped in the middle of a scene, which Hemingway always did, to spur me on to the next scene. Problem was, I forgot what I was writing. Again, stuck.

When I’m stuck, I blow something up. Or as Chandler put it, “When in doubt have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.”

I realized the power of this when I wrote a collaborative story a few years ago. My character, Rusty, was doing something boring. The characters around him weren’t doing anything much, either. I blew up the dock Rusty worked in, and it was on. ¬†The story picked up, things moved.

Exposition is well and good; internal navel gazing is important to the protagonist; but conflict, action, making things happen–that’s the meat of the story, what the readers really want. ¬†It might sound like I’m writing Chandler-esque stories: books that are there for the action, and not much else.¬†It’s a hard balancing act to have story–characters, world–and the conflict. Anybody can throw a bomb into a room, but there has to be a why, even if it’s explained after the fact.

So, I opened up Dark Prison, my newest War Mage novel that I’m working on, and introduced a man with a gun. It’s like putting gas directly in the carburetor; it’s a jump start, but not something you want to do as a rule, or the shock value will fade. The gun could be anything from a real gun to a new reveal, something that would create a conflict for the protagonist, or even for a secondary character to develop a subplot. Even during introductions, throw in a “gun” to make things move.