Tag Archive | amwriting


Tomorrow is the Insecure Writer’s Support Group twitter pitch party! I’ve been gearing up for this day for the past three months, trying out various ways of pitching each of my three completed manuscripts, and somehow, I still don’t feel ready. When I look at what I’ve put on paper, each effort seems silly, and somehow not quite catching what I think the novels are really about.

I’ve always struggled with describing the first novel. I have three different query letters for it, each highlighting a different part of the story, and I am equally unimpressed with all three. Now, I’m trying to pitch the same novel in less than 100 characters. Thank goodness I have a clever wife who has a gift for simplification. She was able to send me two really decent ideas, both of which I will be using tomorrow.

As for the other two manuscripts, I feel a bit better about what I’ve put together for them, but I still wouldn’t say I’ve got it all figured out. And that’s okay, really.

I am going into this event with my eyes wide open. It is likely I won’t get any interest from publishers or agents. If  I do get a nibble, the manuscript or query letter might not satisfy. But this is all part of the process, part of putting myself out there and taking risks. Sitting back, doing nothing hasn’t been all that successful a strategy, so perhaps it is time to try a new, bolder approach.

Wish me luck.

Any of you planning on participating? How have your pitches come together and are you feeling confident?

And just because, here is a picture of my sleeping Athena. Athena

Old Things

I’ve had a really good week as far as writing goes. A short story idea has been rolling around in my head for months, and I finally sat my rear end in the chair and attacked it. The first few pages came quickly, and for a while I was convinced it would only take three writing days before a draft was complete. I should have known better.

As soon as I’ve nailed down one aspect of the story, something else decides to be a problem. The strange part is, I’m excited that it is being difficult. I want to be pushed and stretched. None of this effort means the story will be any good, but it will be rewarding to finish.

The only real distraction is another idea that popped into my head while I was reading a book called “Slow Boat”, by Hideo Furukawa. I’d written a story more than a decade ago that shared similar elements to one chapter of “Slow Boat”. As soon as I finished the book (it’s wicked short), I went to my computer and opened the file. The story was still in very rough condition, and I remembered I’d only loosely edited it after finishing the first draft. Reading through, I liked the flow of the story, and thought it would only need a few tweaks to be ready for sharing. Four hours later I’d rewritten most of it, changed the overall tone, and given the story an entirely different ending. It was the most fun I’d had with writing in more than a year.

Finding life in one old idea got me thinking about other abandoned work, paragraphs, pages, two or three lines that had promise, but I either lost interest in or wasn’t skilled enough to write at the time. I’m making a list of texts that need attention, and it is a good long one. I’m certain many of them won’t become anything more than they already are, but there are likely three or four that have some serious potential. The prospect is keeping me up at night, pondering.

What about you fine people? Have you ever gone back to an old idea and found it had new life? How did you approach the project? Were you successful?

One other note-

The shelf I was using to display my vinyl was near capacity, and I was not excited about the prospect of using crates or boxes to store things. I dislike clutter. Over the weekend, we picked up this fine shelf from IKEA.


I’ve triple the space now. You should all come over and we can have a listen party. You bring the drinks, I’ll provide the food and music.






The first Wednesday of every month is the official Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. We gather together (figuratively, though maybe some of us actually do literally met up, maybe at a coffee shop or something, who knows) to talk about our successes, failures, struggles, and goals. So many great writers (published or otherwise) share advice, ideas, offer support. It really is the best writing group out there. Join us HERE.


I have spent the last few months editing, rewriting small sections, reading over my (supposedly) completed novels. I know better than to think they will ever really be done, and each time I read through, I find several things that need fixing. With each reading, I wonder how I missed these mistakes the first fifty times through. New eyes see what old eyes miss. I am always grateful for new eyes.

A few weeks back, I asked for some help with the third book, wondering if it was too short to even be considered a novella, if I should add more, or cut something and make it feel more like a short story. The feedback I received was wonderful. Everyone seems to agree it doesn’t need new content and works well as a novella. I am so thankful for their efforts and willingness to take a look at my writing, I owe them each a favor.

As for any WIP, um…

Yeah, I need to do better. I’m not sure what the problem is, or if there is even a problem at all. Beyond the blog (which I’ve been quite faithful at posting to, thank you), I haven’t felt like writing much at all. I have ideas for stories, poems, even an inkling of how to push my failed NaNo projects forward, but when it comes to sitting at the computer and composing, I’m not feeling it. Since this doesn’t feel frustrating and it isn’t making me angry, I’m not sure I’d call it writers block. Then again, I don’t have any idea what to call this particular situation. An extended break, maybe?

I do know I’ve been reading like a crazy person, and have finished as many books in 2017 as I did in all of 2016. Finding a stronger passion for reading has been wonderful. It can only make my writing better.

Speaking of reading. A fantastic book is set for an August release date and I cannot recommend it enough. My Absolute Darling is the first novel by a fantastic new writer, Gabriel Tallent. This novel is among the most difficult, haunting, terrifying, rewarding and hopeful books I have ever read.

Read about it here

And read an excellent review here




The Third is…

I wrote my first novel in 2013. The first draft was just over 79,000 words. Edits, rewrites and subtractions have left the book hovering around 77,000 words. My second book (2014) came it at just over 120,000. After Edits, rewrites, subtractions it is still at 120,000.

For the third book, I made a conscious choice to keep myself to 50 thousand. I liked the idea of clear writing goals and a word restriction. The second book had a life of its own and refused to be limited. It still does, and while I enjoy the feeling of having written something so long, I wanted to see if I could limit myself, focus the content, make hard choices.

The first completed draft was 43,000 words. Three versions later, I now have a story of 37,501 words. I fear it is becoming too short, but each time I edit, I find more to cut, and have come up empty on ideas of where to expand. Maybe it doesn’t need anything more, and maybe it needs less. Is this really a short story; a novella? I don’t know. I am looking for some brave souls to volunteer as tribute, fearless warriors, willing to offer suggestions, direction. Two would be great, more would be better. There is no rush on feedback as I am not actively trying to sell this to any agent or publisher.

Any takers?

Reply here (or on Facebook or Twitter, for those who don’t like commenting here. Weirdos) and I will send you a lovely .rtf document.


Hey friends and family! I’ve just returned from a fun filled weekend at America’s first national park (Yellowstone for those not in the know). I’ve been going to this wonderful freak of nature since I was a young lad, but had not visited in over a decade. It was like reuniting with an absent friend. We were a bit uncomfortable with each other at first, but after a few hours, it was like we’d never separated. I have photos galore to share, but will save them for a different post.

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, and that means the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is gathering for our monthly blog hop. If you don’t know who we are and what we do, go here http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

Sign up, blog up, share your stories.

We are a supportive, clever, funny, attractive bunch of writers with hopes and fears, insecurities, failures and successes, just like the rest of you who haven’t joined yet. Quit wallowing in your own misery and let us wallow with you.


On the writing front, I finally submitted the poetry chapbook. As I expected, the moment I clicked send, I was certain there were millions of typos, or worse, I’d sent the wrong document. I quadruple checked. It is the right document. I’m not yet ready to check for typos.

But I’ve talked about this contest already. It’s time for a new (old) topic. I’ve made an executive decision considering NaNoWriMo. I’ve unofficially competed for the last three years, making my word count goal twice (the third book didn’t reach 50,000 words), and because of that, I’ve debated actually entering this November. It seems that having a concrete month, clear word count goal has been essential to my completing projects. The hard part- November is an awful busy month to be writing every day. I struggle to write around my birthday, my sisters birthday, and Thanksgiving. Last year, I was in NYC the first week and never really caught up. I still want to write the first 50,000 words in 30 days, just not those 30 days.

Looking ahead, October is a really great month for writing. I have fewer commitments. The weather is nicer. Days are a bit longer. Kids are in school more of the days. Yeah, this seems like a winning scenario.

For the novel writing readers of this blog- I’m curious as to your writing schedule. Have you competed in NaNo? What sorts of goals do you set for yourselves?

For the rest of you schmucks- Thanks for reading and leave a nice comment below about how wonderful you find me and how grateful you are that we are friends.

I couldn’t resist sharing at least one Yellowstone picture. Gosh we are cute.



Summer of Insecurity

The first Wednesday of the month is when the Insecure Writer’s Support Group gathers for our monthly blog hop. Thanks to Ninja Captain Alex Cavanaugh for keeping things groovy and grand.

A bit of drama to begin. It seems I’ve been removed from the list of bloggers (or else my eyes are shot and I’ve missed my blog on the sign-up page), but I’m going to post and link regardless.

If you’re unfamiliar with the IWSG-

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Check us out here- http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

Sign up. Meet neat folk. Talk about your successes and failures.


The chapbook is one poem and two pages away from being a complete draft. Depending on what happens during the edit, I may add another poem, but how things have been constructed, the flow of the text makes me think I’ve reached the end. I’ve already had some amazing input from a few blogging friends, and I can’t thank them enough for their insights and suggestions. It is easy to think I see all the mistakes in my own work, but new eyes readily see what old ones miss. Never again will I underestimate the value of good readers.

I could still use more eyes to read the complete draft if anyone is interested.

Of course, I’m falling into the same old trap- convinced one day that the poems are brilliant, only to feel that are rubbish the next. The harder I work on a project, the longer it takes to complete, the more I’m convinced I’ve failed. Odds are this feeling will never go away, and I need to become better at dealing with it. To my credit, I haven’t trashed the entire document in a fit of despair, but I admit to once or twice wishing  a hard drive crash would take care of things for me.

The Chapbook contest opens in September. I have until it closes at the end of October to edit and get the courage up to submit. I can already see the scene- I hover over the page, unsure if it is ready for submission until finally, in a moment of complete abandon, I click send, only then noticing the glaring spelling error on the first page.

So, enough about me. What’s got you flummoxed or blissful this month?


Feeling Fine

Hey guys!  I’m back from my week long camping adventures in the land of the flesh eating flies, sore and dirty, but mostly intact. Sadly, I missed the IWSG posting day for July. I had planned to share a post before I left last Tuesday morning, but in the rush of packing the car, making sure we didn’t forget too many things, it slipped my mind. I will do better next month, I promise.

On with the show.

Last evening, I was able to participate in a TEDx event held at the Marmalade Branch of the Salt Lake City Public Library. A few months ago, the librarian hosting the event, who also happens to be a good friend of mine, asked if I’d be willing to offer my perspective on the topic- The Power of the Written Word.  I really did not feel I was the right person for the task, but it is difficult to say no to Azra.

The event included two prerecorded TED talks about the subject, followed by a short presentation by a guest speaker, me. Yep, just me.

In the weeks leading up to the presentation, I experienced a strange range of emotions from complete confidence to outright fear. I am passionate about writing, reading, and I sincerely believe that words have the power to alter the world, create meaning. Still, it was hard for me to feel qualified to stand in front of any crowd and offer my insights. I’m just a guy with a blog and some unpublished novels on his computer hard drive. Certainly someone, anyone else would be a better choice.

Working through what I wanted to say, there were many times I thought to contact Azra and tell her I was out, that I couldn’t do it. In fact, sitting in the library last night, watching the final seconds of the prerecorded talks, I had the same desire. Surely I could just lean over and whisper “Hey, Azra. Sorry, but I just can’t do this.” She’d understand, right?

I kept that thought to myself.

Azra stood and introduced me, saying very kind things. People offered some nice applause, and the moment had come.

Feeling like an absolute poser, I made my way to the front of the room, looked out over the faces in front of me, and as confidently as I could, gave my speech.

It went well enough, better than I expected, and in the end, I survived. Most of those in attendance even seemed to be interested. A few asked me some questions about writing and I gave some honest, even useful answers. I had fun and though I probably shouldn’t admit this, I’d do it again. Next time, I might even tell people in advance.

I’m still a poser, but a poser with passion for writing and a little more confidence under his belt.