“Don’t get it right, get it written!”

“it is the most inspirational video on the topic I have seen, and I have seen hundreds….”

My mind is numb.  I don’t want to write tonight.  I have an I.V. drip of coffee going just to keep myself awake.  I am tired.  I haven’t touched my 2000 word goal for the day on the Blue Daunia series, and I am actually just a bit loathe to do so.  Not because I don’t love the characters and their quirks and dialects, and not because I am in any way bored with the plot (in fact nothing could be further from the truth).  It’s just a simple matter of the fact that it is now 9pm (in my part of the world) and I have just worked a 10.5 hour day at my “day job.”

I feel drained.  I even had a hell of a time coming up with a topic for this very blog post (but then I figured I’d just write about that and the reasons behind it).

But I will write.  I will strive to hit my word goal for the series.  One thing compels me forward.  One thing wills me on.  And I wish I could say it was some grand notion of the nobility of the sense of duty, or some ultra-powerful work ethic instilled deep within me.  But it’s none of these things.  It’s far more simpler than that.  In fact, it’s something you can gift yourself with as well!  (Don’t worry, I’m not trying to sell ya anything… except my book, but the gift I’m discussing in this particular post is absolutely free!).

Simply put, it is this video:  Don’t Get it Right, Get it Written, from a YouTube channel called Film Courage.  It is aimed primarily at screenplay writers, but the knowledge, wisdom and abounding inspiration applies easily to the narrative prose form, or any writing, for that matter!  If you’re a writer, the first minute and six seconds alone should be enough to kick you into gear, but if that doesn’t get you going, the next two hours and eighteen minutes will pound your brain into submission.

The premise, distilled down to its essence, is a mesmerizing embellishment of the “butt in the chair” principle of writing, as in sit your butt in the chair and get at it!  To that effect, it is also the most inspirational video on the topic I have seen, and I have seen hundreds.  My overall mission for the blog, although I sometimes wander astray, is to help writers along their journeys toward indie publishing, and in that regard I’m here to tell ya, this video is something you absolutely need to watch if you have any struggles whatsoever with self-discipline toward the notion of just getting it done.

The video tackles other topics as well, such as fear of rejection, self-doubt, self-loathing and self-confidence, and the majestic accomplishment of completing a first draft.

Yet the core of the message rings true throughout:  Damn the excuses, damn the doubt, treat this as a job (the best job in the world) and “clock in!”

The channel itself has a plethora of other videos on the topic, which, again, is geared toward screenwriters, but I have yet to hear a single word during any of the interviews that couldn’t apply to any form of writing.  The channel’s other topics, for example, include character, dialogue, story, villains, and emotional impact.  If you are a writer of any sort, I cannot recommend this channel enough.

And if you’re having trouble just plopping yourself down in front of your keyboard or notebook and going at it, this video will take you to that coveted place you mentally need to be.

Playing with Mental Toys: Introduction from Blue Daunia Issue #1

The following is from the Introduction of  Blue Daunia  Issue #1:  Dark Tides of Illunstrahd.  To me, it illustrates the usefulness of flights of childhood fancy as they relate to the ongoing process of the creation of narrative fiction.

By the middle of childhood, somewhere amid the 1980s, I had amassed a sizeable collection of action figures from various movies, cartoons, comics and other genres.  A vast majority are probably still buried somewhere deep within the confines of my old bedroom and its small closet in my childhood home, and without knowing the exact number of the toys, I would comfortably put the estimate at somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 80 pieces, possibly more.  The sizes of the figures among the various intellectual properties were largely incompatible: some were just over three inches tall, while others neared the realm of my sister’s Barbies, and they ran the gamut of all sizes in-between.  Some of them only had articulation at the shoulders and hips, while others could be made to assume all manner of action poses for kung-fu goodness.

I had my fair share of neighborhood friends, and a great many hours were spent outdoors, playing the usual range of action-heavy games of make-believe and sports alike.  Metabolisms and imaginations soared sky-high in those days, and yet I was perfectly content at home as well, left to my own whims and flights of fancy at times… and that’s where the action figures got their time in the spotlight of my youth.

I mentioned the varying sizes and intellectual properties of my collection, but I’ll have you know that this never once posed a problem for me, because hardly ever did I see fit to use the figures as part of their intended worlds and stories.  On the contrary, I invented my own worlds and stories, my own universe, in which these beings existed and in which they came to life with all the strengths and flaws and quirks and mannerisms I could bestow upon them.  Sure, Luke and Han were occasionally allowed to be Luke and Han, if that was my momentary whim, but the vast majority of my time spent playing with the figures was spent creating new personas and new worlds.

It’s not that I didn’t love the hell out of the movies and shows and books these figures hailed from.  It’s just that I took these forms of storytelling to heart as lessons just as much as entertainment, if not more so.  Each new struggle on the screen was a lesson in intrigue through character limitations, each unfolding conflict in a comic book was a lesson in dramatic pacing and plot development and revelation, and every episode and issue, whether self-contained or to-be-continued, was a lesson in how to use the episodic structure to enhance continuity, canon, and bit-by-bit worldbuilding.  I took the figures and truly made them my own universe (or two or three), size and shape be damned.  Long story short:  I didn’t just play with action figures, I created with action figures.

And here, decades later, although the figures themselves are long buried and forgotten, I’m still doing it.  That’s what the following pages are.  That’s what they’re all about.  The story you are about to read, and its (hopefully numerous) continuations, are nothing more than a grown man “playing with action figures” in a certain manner of speaking.  I am a writer today not only because of the countless movies, books, television shows and comics I have consumed, but because the resulting toy lines, for all their cash-grabbing reasons for existing, allowed me to consume these properties in the most creative and enjoyable way possible.

My only hope is that you enjoy the result as much as I enjoyed the creation, because I genuinely and thoroughly loved the process… and because it really was just a form of playtime.

First Draft, First Chapter of Untitled Work

Thomas Sowell sat at his desk in the room of his apartment which he called his office, trying to get his word-count achieved for the day.  He called it the “office” because he had to call it that.  If he did not, he would never take it seriously enough to get any work done, and as a self-publishing author, this would prove fatal.  In times past he had called it his “library,” his “playroom,” and “the alcove,” each bearing a different meaning upon his soul at different times of his life.

The room oversat the staircase of the second-story apartment, and was positioned as the front-most area of the dwelling, with a towering, five-foot-wide window overlooking the outside world.  His desk faced the west wall of the room, the balcony above the staircase to his right, and the giant window at his left.

On a hot, breezy mid-afternoon in August, he had the window open so that he could listen to the birds of late summer.  This, he thought, would serve as a form of white noise to help him tackle a few chapters of the science fiction adventure he was attempting… something about a girl on a boat.  Just over an hour into the attempt, however, he allowed his mind to open up to distractions, and, when the TV on his desk was off, his wandering focus usually turned toward the window.

The outside view was nothing spectacular.  The apartment was along the backside of the back-most building of the complex, and the window overlooked, in order: the sidewalk, a grassy knoll, a black chain-link fence, more knoll, a ten-foot drop-off, and the parking lot of the back-most buildings of a completely different apartment complex.  On this particular afternoon, it was something in that neighboring complex which caught his straying attention.

A white mini-van pulled up to one of the apartments, and a girl or woman too far away to be of discernible age hopped out of the driver’s side.  Dressed in pink Capri pants and a sleeveless blue denim shirt, her long blonde hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail.  Based on what he could tell of her general shape and demeanor of motion, she could not have been more than forty nor younger than twenty.

Thomas watched as she opened the rear hatch of the mini-van and pulled out a blue plastic crate of various books and movies from among a few other crates.  With a certain touch of grace which he found himself admiring, she walked around the vehicle and up the three short steps to an apartment door.  He watched to see if she would knock or if she would struggle with the crate to produce keys from her pocket.  She produced keys.  She fumbled with the lock and handle, pushed the door open with her foot, and disappeared behind the self-closing door which did so with a dull thud he could hear even across the distance.

He swiveled his office chair back around to face his computer, and thought a bit about how to get the girl on the boat to escape the clutches of an impending peril facing her crew.  He had just rested his fingertips on their familiar positions along the keyboard when he heard the dull thud again.  The sudden turning of his head toward the window stung his neck a bit.

The girl or woman was back outside, this time with a tiny black and white dog which hopped around not unlike a rabbit.  Whether a chihuahua or a Boston, he could not tell, but he admired the way in which it never seemed to hop very far from her for something without a leash.  It bounded freely, but close to its human, who sat herself down on the front stoop and began thumbing around on her smartphone.  Thomas watched to see if she would call someone, a significant other perhaps, or if she would just keep thumbing as though merely navigating a social app.  She kept thumbing.  The dog-rabbit cocked a leg and relieved itself on a nearby shrub.

He thought about turning once again to his writing, but decided to watch her stand back up and retrieve another plastic crate from her trunk… this one filled with shoes and a couple of hats.  She gave a curt whistle to the doggit, who followed her to and through the self-closing door.  Another dull thud.  If she comes back out, he thought, I’m taking action.  He paused for a moment to wonder what he had even meant by “action.”

He turned to take a shot at a paragraph or two, thought about the leftover Chinese food in the fridge, and resigned himself to make the short trek to the kitchen for at least a can of soda and to start a pot of coffee.  Mid-trek he paused to look at his own tiny dog, asleep on the sofa… a beige chihuahua named Tom Petty, simply because that was the name he had wanted to give her at the time he picked her up as a small pup from the breeder.  Regardless of whether he had picked out a male or a female that day, its name was going to be Tom Petty.

The fridge was disappointingly bare by the time he got to it, which he took harder than normal not only because he lived alone (with Tom Petty and an orange cat), but because he had had the money and opportunity to grocery shop yesterday but had decided to pick up an extra shift at the deli instead.  At least the Chinese food was there for him if he wanted it, which at the time he decided he did not.  For now, a fresh pot of Chock Full O’ Nuts, and a zero soda while it brewed, would suffice.

He made his way back toward the office, putting a hand on Tom Petty along the way to make sure she was still breathing.  Whether she was five or six years of age he could not remember.  He had acquired her with a bit of the severance money he received when he was let go by the bankrupted grocery chain, and could not now remember if it had been five or six years past.  He knew it wasn’t quite time to say goodbye to her, but he also didn’t like to think about the hands of time moving ever forward against her.  For now, she was still breathing.  Lazy as hell, he thought, but still breathing.

Sitting the soda on his desk, he checked the window, running his fingers along the hard, hot mesh of the screen.  No sign of the girl.  Mini-van still there.  The boat, imbedded in the text of the computer screen, still in peril.  He sat.  He typed.  He stopped.  The birds had ceased chirping, just as they had done every day at 3:27 for the past five days, and he had no idea why.  He committed the cardinal writing sin of firing up the browser, but only for the purpose of putting on some Dylan for background music to replace the birds.  If there was anything that could see a girl on a ship safely out of peril, it was Dylan.

Dull thud.  He turned.  She was there, opening the rear hatch again.  Another crate, this time hot pink.  He rose, pulled up the mesh screen, and leaned out beyond the edge.

“Hey!” he yelled.  She looked up.  “Hey!  Need any help?”

She looked left and right. And finally back toward him.  “No, I got it, thanks!” she yelled back.  She started back toward the apartment, leaving the hatch open.  He could see that there were only three more crates remaining, but God knows what all else potentially crammed into the back rows of the van.

“I really don’t mind!” he yelled out.  A couple of dogs began to bark in the distance.

She paused, turned toward him, and put a hand above her brow to block the sunlight.  “I don’t know you!”

“I know!” he yelled.

“We can all hear you!” someone else bellowed.

He scrambled to get his slip-resistant deli shoes on.  They were a bit on the ugly side for social endeavors, but they were slip-ons and made for good get-out-fast shoes.  Tom Petty looked up and tilted her head sideways as Thomas dashed down the stairway and out through the front door.  He scaled the fence, scraping his arm on one of the loose links at the top, and tumbled down onto the grassy knoll.  Surveying the drop-off into the adjoining parking lot, he discerned that it was more seven feet than ten, and hopped down, landing harder than he anticipated and crumpling to the asphalt.  He grabbed his ankle and writhed.

“Oh my God,” he heard the girl say after a gasp.  Seconds later, she was upon him.  “Are you okay?”  She sat the hot pink crate down beside him.

He grimaced and looked up, squinting partly from the pain and partly from the sunlight searing into his brain.  “I’m Thomas,” he grunted.  “Thomas Sowell.  No relation to the economist.  My friends call me Tom.”

“An economist?”

“Yes,” he said, rising to his feet and hopping lightly on one foot.  “But no relation.”

He could see plainly now that she was probably in her late twenties, and a bit more attractive than he initially realized.  She probably had someone.  All the bit more attractive ones usually did.

“I’m Claudia,” she said, looking quizzically upon his hopping.

“Just Claudia?”

“Well, I don’t know who all else I would be.”

“No, I meant your last name.”

“I know what you meant.  I just don’t know who you are.”

“Thomas So–”

“Thomas Sowell, yes… I know.  No relation to an economist.”

“Right.  I was just wondering if you needed any help… with the crates, I mean.”

She glanced over her shoulder back toward the mini-van.  “Look, I don’t mean to come across as rude, but I don’t know you.”

“You’re not a racist, are you?”

She tilted her head, not unlike Tom Petty had done moments ago.  “Uhm… you’re white too.”

“Oh I know,” he said.  “I just don’t marry racists.”

She laughed softly.  “Look, it was nice meeting you.  I guess we’re going to be neighbors.”  She looked up at the concrete wall topped by the grassy knoll, and the fence just beyond it.  “Well, relatively speaking.  But I think I can manage.  The crates, I mean.  I just wanted to make sure you were okay.  You landed kinda hard.”

“I’ll be okay,” he said, extending his hand.  She shook it.

“Anyway, I better get back to it.  I’m expecting the moving company any minute.”  She turned and headed back toward her apartment.

“You didn’t say ‘no’,” he called out to her back.

“Excuse me?”  She paused and turned to look at him again.

“To the marriage proposal.  You didn’t say ‘no’.”

“Right,” she said.  “I’ll get back to you on that.  Have a nice rest of the day.”  She turned and continued her short trek.

“Okay.”  He put a hand up.  She didn’t see it.

He tested the ankle with just a touch of weight.  The pain shot up into his brain, and he suddenly realized that, other than the wall he couldn’t scale and the fence he could no longer climb, he had no idea where the proper entrance to this complex might be, or how far away it was.  The pain subsided for a brief moment by the excitement of her turning back toward him yet again.

“You know,” she said, “you didn’t propose to me.”

“I didn’t?”

“No, you didn’t.  You just said you wouldn’t marry a racist.”

“Damn.  I thought I had nailed that on originality alone.”

“It was original,” she said.

“I’ll get back to you on that.”  He tried to put weight on the tender ankle and scrunched his face up from the shot of agonizing pain.  Not wanting to fall again in front of her, he knelt quickly on his good knee and propped himself on both hands.

“Oh, shit,” she said.  “You’re really hurt, aren’t you?”

He looked up into her eyes.  “I never fake a botched proposal.”  He held her gaze and could almost see her thoughts churning behind the hazel-green eyes.

“Is there someone I can call for you?”

“Good idea.”  He reached into his pocket, putting more weight upon his propping hand.  “I left my phone upstairs.”  He rolled over to a sitting position.

“I could call an ambulance.”

“Don’t bother.  I’ll manage.  You’ve got your work to do.”

“You can’t even walk,” she said.  “Let me at least call an Uber or a taxi or something.”

“My wallet is up there, too.  I don’t want you to have to pay for anything.”

“Oh, I didn’t intend to.”

They sat and stood in silence in the bright sun of the afternoon, neither knowing what more to say.  Every few seconds, he glanced up into her eyes.  Again he could tell that she was deep in thought.  Finally, she broke the silence.

“Come on, I’ll help you to my van.  If I drive you around to your apartment, will you promise me you’ll find a way to the E.R.?”

“I suppose that would be the wise thing to do.  Do you always ask for promises from strangers?”  He rubbed his swelling ankle as gently as he could.  “Or invite them into your van?”

She extended an arm out to him.  “Well, I guess for a moment you can be Thomas Sowell, not the economist, instead of a stranger.”

He grunted as she pulled him up and awkwardly allowed him to lean himself upon her, putting one of his arms around her shoulders.  “And you’re Claudia… just Claudia.”  They hobbled off together toward the van.  “You know, I feel this is the closest we’ve been in quite a while.”

“Who are you?”  She opened the passenger door for him and helped him into the small dog bed on the seat.  “Oh, you’re on the–… nevermind.  I don’t wanna ask you to move again.”

The van smelled like a mix of lilac and lavender.  That girl-car smell, he thought.  He reached a hand to press the eject button on the CD player.  “What are we listening to today?”  He took the CD as it emerged.

“Hey!  Cut it out!”  She popped his arm and made him wince from the sting of it.  “Oh my God, I’m sorry… I didn’t mean for that to be that hard.”

“Boys II Men?  Seriously?”

“What’s wrong with Boys II Men?”  She grabbed the CD from him and put it into its case from the center console, her face turning a shade of red.

“Nothing, I guess.  I just had you pegged for Taylor… for some reason.”

“James or Swift?”  She cranked the van and looked behind her as she backed out.

“Both,” he said.  “Either.”

“Yes to one, no to the other.”  She shifted into first gear and slowly started through the complex.

“Ah,” he said.  “But yes to which?  No to which?”

“You figure it out.”  She shook her hands with the palms still resting on the steering wheel.

“That could take some time.”

They navigated the apartment complex with no music, and in relative silence.  He tried in the meantime to decipher whether it was good or bad that she had had no response to his last comment.

“So where are you moving from?” he asked as they turned onto the public roadway.

“Michigan,” she said.  In one block, they were at the entrance of his complex.

“Michigan?  What brings you all the way to Alabama?”

“Do you have the gate key-card?”

“Sorry, no.”

She let out something between a growl and a sigh, and he tensed at her legitimate impatience.

“Relax,” he said.  The keypad code is 4381-asterix.”

“It’s not you,” she said as she punched in the numbers.  “It’s just been a long day.”  The gate swung slowly open and they rolled through and into the maze of buildings.

“And I’ve added to it,” he said.

“Where are we going?  Tell me the turns.”

“Right, at this next turn.”

“No, you haven’t added to it.  If anything you’ve been a distraction from it.”  She took the turn.  “Totally bizarre, but a distraction.”

“The next two rights and then a left.  That bad a day?  It must be, if all this doesn’t cut it as a low point.”

“Well, Thomas Sowell, it’s not every day a non-economist falls from the sky and breaks his ankle right there in front of you,” she said, following his directions.

“It’s not broken.  That’s–… I think it’s probably not broken.  There’s a good chance.”

“Nah, if it was broken, you’d know.  Believe me, you’d know.”

“You sound like you’re speaking from experience.”

“Oh yes.  Yes indeed.”

“This one,” he said.  “Pull up right here.”

They parked, and she came around to help him out.  He counted himself lucky to again be leaning upon her, his arm draped over her shoulders.  They made their way around the back side of the building to his front door, and he leaned on it and stared at her for a few long seconds.

“Well, this is me,” he said.  “And that’s you.”  He pointed beyond the fence and the drop-off, toward her apartment door.

“Small world,” she said.  “So, you’re good now?”

“Yeah, I’m good.  Listen, I really appreciate it.  Taking the time and all.”  A moving truck pulled up in front of her apartment.

“Least I could do, Thomas Sowell.”  She turned to wave at the truck.  “Hey!  Up here!”

“Did we come to the wrong place?” one of the two men emerging from the truck yelled out.

“No!  I’ll be over in just a minute!”  She turned back to Thomas.  “Let me know how everything turns out, will you… with the ankle.”

“Oh, you bet.  Hey, you never did tell me what brought you all the way from Michigan, Just Claudia.”

“Weston,” she said.  “Claudia Weston.  And that could take some time.”  She smiled faintly and waved as she began to walk off.  He waved back and stood there, leaning on the door, watching her as she walked around the corner.

A handful of seconds turned into a handful of minutes as he watched the white mini-van pull back up in front of its new apartment.  He remained propped long enough to watch her interact with the men from the moving company, and eventually disappear through the door, the dog-like thing bouncing at her feet as she entered.

He smiled to himself, despite the pain in his ankle.  He turned slowly on his good leg and pushed down on the latch of the door, realizing that he had it set to auto-lock upon closing, and that the keys were on his desk.

“Well, fuck.”

Opinions Wanted on Notebook Idea

“I would like some feedback from my fellow bloggers/writers/indie-authors out there. . .”

So, I’ve been toying with this silly lil’ idea for a couple of years now. . . one of those ideas that strikes you in its initial founding and then disappears for a while, only to pop up numerous intermittent times throughout the course of a daily life.  One of those ideas that you entertain for a minute when it’s on your mind, but then file away again for some other rainy day.

I would like some feedback from my fellow bloggers/writers/indie-authors out there, as to whether or not you think the circle would actually ever be completed (you’ll know what this means by the time you’re done reading this post), or if it would be a complete waste of a dollar or three.

So, here’s the idea. . . .

I go to the corner drugstore, or Office Depot or a grocery store or whatever, and I buy a simple composition book.  A dollar, maybe two, sometimes as much as three. . . no big deal.  And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a composition book. . . it could be any form of generally cheap notebook.

On the first page of this notebook I would write something along the lines of:  “ATTENTION:  If you happen to find this notebook lying around, don’t turn it in to the lost and found, wherever you may happen to be.  Instead, flip to the next blank page and write something. . . anything.  Write about how your day is going.  Write a poem.  Write a paragraph or two of a story.  Write a few of your dreams (life-goals and actual sleeping dreams alike).  Write a few of your fears.  Write the last purchase you made which made you truly happy.  Write the name of a book you think the world should read, and tell us why.  Say hello to someone.  Tell someone how you really feel about them, without fear that they might find this (because chances are, they won’t).  What would you say to a deceased relative if you had the chance to go back in time and do so?  Write anything.  And when you’re done, take this notebook with you and leave it lying around somewhere so that someone else can find it.  And if you happen to be the one who fills up the last page, mail this notebook to (and I would write my address here).”

And once I’ve written this first-page introduction, I would take the notebook to a Starbucks or McDonald’s or doctor’s office or whatnot. . . wherever I happen to find myself next, and I would just leave it there, laying around on a table or counter or some-such.

What do you think?  Would it ever find its way back to me?  Would a few people write in it, and then someone eventually throws it away or leaves it on a park bench to melt in the pouring rain?  Imagine all the potential writings one might find within it, over a period of time!  There’s no telling what might end up in those pages.  Oh man. . . I would love for this to actually work.  I think I would cherish that notebook, if it did find its way back to me.  I would cherish it and probably immediately start another.

But, at the very least. . . even if the goal of it were to fail, I would be out three bucks at the most.

Please feel free to comment on whether or not you think this would work, or even just your opinion of it or your thoughts on it.  Heck, feel free to try this yourself!  Maybe it could start a whole new trend. . . “intentionally-lost notebooks.”  To me, it would be a far better trend than, say, fidget spinners.

Stop Hitting That Tab Key. . . NOW!

So you’re writing and editing to digitally prepare and submit a manuscript for your first-ever book-baby.  Well, it might surprise you to know that there is one crucial thing you may very well be doing completely wrong!

If you’ve gotten in the habit, over the years, of hitting the tab key to indent your paragraphs, stop it, and stop it now!

As I’ve stated on my “Ahoy!” page, I’m here to report any mistakes I make in this ongoing learning process, as I make them.  And here I am. . . because for over twenty years, I’ve been hitting that trusty ol’ TAB key to indent my paragraphs.

So, why is this a mistake?  What’s wrong with it?  Aren’t most word-processors set up from the get-go for their tab-key results to indent paragraphs properly?

Well, in a word, no.

The tab key is set up for “tabulating” tables and columns.  From the Wikipedia:  “In word processing and text editing the Tab key will often move the insertion point to the next tab stop in a table, or may insert the ASCII tab character or many space characters.”

Sure, if you’re just printing out a chapter or three of your story, or looking at it on the screen, the indentations created by the tab key will look dead-on correct. . . all nice and professional-looking.

But the problem comes in when you submit a novel or novella that has been “tabbed” within an inch of its life.  Even if you submit a PDF to an online publisher (such as CreateSpace or SmashWords), they still have to do their own formatting, and tab indents can often choke their conversion programs.

Oh, it may still go through, but when you proof it, it will probably look like the first lines of your paragraphs start all the way an entire half of the page over!  It took me a bit of research and playing around with a few different word processors to figure out why my proofs were looking like this, and how to fix them (because I have been, for my entire life, a tab indenter).

So, as you’re blazing along through your first draft, pounding out paragraph after paragraph, get your fingers off of that tab key!  Try this instead:  Move your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, and, depending on the program you’re using, look for a tab called “format” or “formatting” or something along those lines, and in the menu for that tab, look for “paragraph” or “indentations.”  Set the field to read “0.5” (as in inches).  This should, theoretically, set things up to where you don’t have to do anything at all at the start of the new paragraph. . . just hit “enter” when you’re done with a paragraph and the next line should be automatically indented for you.

In Scrivener, if you’ve copied and pasted a body of text in which you have previously used tabs, you can select “Format > Convert > Strip Leading Tabs” to get rid of all of those unholy tabs at once, then press “command”+”a” to highlight the entire text, and go to “Format > Text > Tabs and Indents” to set all those now-missing tabs to 0.5″ indentations.  Voila!

The result of proper indentation will be a text that will compile correctly, convert to other word-processing programs correctly, and basically just save yourself time, effort and headaches on down the road.  Your PDFs and digi-publisher proofs will look, for the lack of a better word, “correct.”  You’ll smile, because you’ve made something that looks and “feels” professional. . . as opposed to lines that start somewhere off in the bedroom closet instead of roughly 5 characters over.

Blue Daunia Now Available in Paperback

Busy day today, all day long, so I don’t really have time for the usual proper-length blog post (is there such a thing?).

I just wanted to pop in and make the proud announcement that my very first-ever paperback is now available on Amazon and CreateSpace.

Blue Daunia Issue #1:  Dark Tides of Illunstrahd (Amazon)

Blue Daunia Issue #1:  Dark Tides of Illunstrahd (CreateSpace)

Blue Daunia Issue #1:  Dark Tides of Illunstrahd (Kindle)

Writing a monthly series is proving to be a lot of work, both on the writing end as well as on the business end.  I am learning so much during this entire process, and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world (except a few things, maybe).

I’ll be back tomorrow with more bloggy antics.  But for now, it’s time to sleep, and to dream of tall ships sailing.

Excuses, Excuses (pt 1)

“You don’t have to verbally paint the picture of a perfect summer day, or embellish every detail of a small New York apartment. . . just tell us a good story.”

“But what if this isn’t any good?”

Re-read it.  How does it sound, in your mind?  Does it make you cringe?  It happens more often than you might think.  But here’s the thing:  That’s fine!  Believe it or not, if we don’t acknowledge our mistakes (such as our cringe-worthy writing), we can never hope to improve.  And if we give up entirely, there won’t be anything to improve upon.  But ask yourself this:  “Who am I writing this for?”  If your answer fits squarely along the lines of “a potential future audience, hopefully of millions,” then guess what. . . they haven’t read it yet!  And they’re not going to, until you publish it.  So if you just hammered out a chapter, chances are not all of it will make you cringe when you re-read it.  Some of it, you might actually be quite proud of.  And for those passages that do make you cringe, you can re-write them!  That’s what the editing/revising phase is for.  As you tackle a session, trying to reach a word-count goal or a time goal, give yourself permission to write badly.  It is far better to do so, and edit later, than to just give up on a project and not write at all.  In two months or in five years, what will you be more proud of:  having plowed through it and created something you can shape and edit, or having thrown in the towel?  Make your future self proud and cringe for a moment.

“Writing is for talented people who were born with a gift or know how to market themselves.”

Wrong.  Just wrong!  Writing is for expressing your ideas and your stories through the medium of the written word, and nothing more.  Yes, there are critics and teachers and standards that make it seem like there is some sort of mold that cannot be broken. . . a path or a set of ideals that we are made to believe (by mainstream trends and industry measurements) we must follow.  Break it.  Go beyond it.  I’m not speaking of the rules of grammar necessarily, but even if I was, take a look at a book called Caught Stealing by Charlie Huston.  Here we have a bestselling author who, in this book and others, shatters all notions of quotation marks and the traditional system of writing dialogue.  But it’s actually a quite compelling read, and at no point do you question who said what, or when.  And as for talent or gifted, believe it or not, simplicity is sometimes the absolute best route to take in writing fiction (and certainly non-fiction).  Yes, flowery prose may have ruled the roost back during the Romantic era, but then along came writers such as the immortal Ernest Hemingway, whose prose has often been described as terse and lean.  You don’t have to verbally paint the picture of a perfect summer day, or embellish every detail of a small New York apartment. . . just tell us a good story.  As for marketing, I see it this way:  If you are truly passionate about what you’re doing (i.e. writing your story), then you are going to focus initially and primarily on finishing your product.  And if you believe in your finished product, and your passion for getting your work out there is still as strong as your passion for writing, you are going to feel compelled enough to do the research, pouring through website after video after article about the how’s and why’s and do’s and don’t’s of marketing.  The hours will fly by as you do so, and you will be driven to learn.  Yes, it takes work, and yes, you’re going to find it daunting, but you’ll get through it.  If you’re truly passionate about writing, you will make the efforts, and you will push.  Sometimes there are just no ways around hard work and dedication, and I’m sorry, but the same is true for writing.

“I don’t know what to write about.”

Let’s go back to Hemingway for just a moment.  He was once quoted as saying, “All you have to do is write one true sentence.  Write the truest sentence that you know.”  If you’re worried about wrapping your mind around the philosophical ramifications of what is truth and what is not, or how “truth” relates to its distant cousin “fact,” then just ignore that one word for a moment.  Come up with a sentence.  Give it a shot.  Jack Bowman knelt down to pick up the baseball that had just dented the door of his car.  There’s one.  Here’s another:  “Why would you even say something like that?” asked Amy.  Let’s try one more:  I was only twenty-four when I died.  Okay okay, just one more:  The whispery voices seemed to be coming from the back of the walk-in closet.  There.  That’s it.  That’s all it takes.  Distill Hemingway’s advice down to a mere “Write one sentence,” and just take it from there!  It really can be that easy.  Do the whole “journey of a lifetime begins with a single step” thing.  Follow up your sentence with another (do try to make it related to the first one, though).  Then do another.  And another. . . and a few more.  Heck, you can even take one of the sentences I just wrote. . . I promise I won’t sue you!  And let’s say you stretch your opening sentence into a paragraph or two.  Where do you take it from there?  You have three options at this point.  You can throw the whole page in the garbage and never think or speak of it again.  You can sit and do some more exploratory writing, just winging it as you go until you get stumped. . . and when you get stumped, you can transition from this option into option 3:  You can take the time to write out a rough outline of where the story is heading, with characters and events and as much or as little detail as you want or need (option 3 is a technique used by writers who call themselves “plotters”).  Once you have outlined a chapter or three, or a short story, then you can go back and fill in the details via the process of “writing.”  Whatever you do though, and however you choose to do it, I only ask one thing of you:  please have fun.  This should be fun.  If you’re not entertaining at least yourself, you probably won’t be eventually entertaining anyone else, either.