My First Book Giveaway!

16 11 2011

Ladies and gents!  Something exciting happened today.  I got a digital copy of Stephen King’s new title, 11/22/63.  I have not read the book myself, but I hear it’s great, with a 4.42/5 stars from Goodreads and a 4/5 from Amazon ratings.  This time travel novel sends a school teacher to stop the assassination (in the past, mind you) of JFK.  (You can read the official summary here.)

Want it?  Here’s how to get it: Read the rest of this entry »


“Don’t Piss With Kitsune,” and Messy Writing

8 06 2011

I would like you all to know, I’m not happy with WordPress right now.  After having spent the last half hour typing (and then hitting “Publish”) all of my post was erased.  The nerve!

Curse you, Evil WordPress Gremlins!!!

I really don’t want to type everything out again, but…

…let’s try this again…

(Who knows?  Maybe I’ll make more sense the second time around.) Read the rest of this entry »

Evil Plans–A Gift to You and Me

5 03 2011

I thought by the time I’d finished Evil Plans, I’d have quoted the entire book on my Twitter.  It’s just that good. Read the rest of this entry »

Current Reading(s)

2 03 2011

I recently finished reading Crush It–written by Wine Guy, Gary Vaynerchuk–and have just started to read Evil Plans–from cartoonist Hugh MacLeod.

Sorry, @DougMcGannon, I’m stealing your reading list.  Consider it a compliment.

Both books are great reads.  They’re informative, often humorous, and, most importantly in our day and age, they read easy.

What really struck me, though, is how similar they are.  Both books are focused on living the life you want to live–doing what you love to find success and happiness.  Both Vaynerchuk and MacLeod are heavy proponents of social media, and essentially tell you how to live out your passion using Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and a few other key social media staples to build your “personal brand.”  (A very important subject, by the way.)

The difference, then?  While both authors have frank and humorous personalities, Vaynerchuk seems to have a more “professional” approach to creating your brand.  Not a bad thing.  He loves business development–or biz dev, as he lovingly refers–and it shows throughout the book.  Still, as an artist and writer I had trouble relating to some of his more business minded approaches to living your life’s passion.

Hugh Macleod, on the other hand, is a ball of creative energy.  As a cartoonist, he’s just the thing for other creative minds, liberally sprinkling his cartoons, seemingly at random.  I haven’t finished the book yet, but already MacLeod’s Evil Plans seems to answer the blank spaces left by Crush It–although there were ony few blank spaces, I assure you.

Sound interested?  Wondering which book you should read?  Read both.

These are two important books by two people who have lived it–are still living it.  If you want to live your passion, read as much from the people who have done the same.  Crush It and Evil Plans are essentially the same, but they complement each other greatly, and if you missed anything in one book you’ll probably find it in the other.  And for those of you who–like me–think yourselves artists and writers, we do have to become business people as well, something we can learn from both authors.

Besides, you’ll like listening to their voices, and I think you’ll quickly buy into their personal brands.

For more of these two great thinkers, you can find Gary Vaynerchuk and Hugh MacLeodon Twitter.

Writing as a Virtue: How to Write Dialogue.

3 11 2010

“Writing as a virtue.”  What is that supposed to mean?

According to Plato, a virtuous man is a man of moderation.  Bravery lacked fear, but was not reckless in the face of danger.  Thus, courage was found somewhere between cowardice and foolishness.  Also, an honest man did not lie, but he didn’t batter his friends down with needlessly brutal truths.  In both of these examples we should see a pattern form, and that pattern was the bases of one of Plato’s views on life:  That a virtue is a mean between two extremes.

Whether you agree with the famous Greek in his philosophies or not, we writers can learn a lot from this simple concept.  Virtue is a mean between two extremes.

For the next three weeks I’ll be looking at a different, important aspect of writing each week.  Starting this week:  Dialogue.


Dialogue as a Virtue

Here are four things to keep in mind while writing dialogue.

1. Perfect vs. Casual Grammer & Slang — Ever watched a movie and realized that everyone spoke perfectly, without any of our daily stuttering or common “Uh”s?  There’s a reason for that.  It’s so you don’t lose the audience in the midst of conversation.  Your reader (and/or watcher) needs a clear and concise dialogue to follow with ease.  Just make sure that your characters aren’t too perfect.  They still need to have different commonly used words, phrases, and eccentricities just like the rest of us.  (And be sure to limit the slang.  It throws people off, yo.)  TIP:  Watch some movies.  Even if you’re not interested in getting into the movie business, take notes on the script dialogue and the pacing of words in the movie itself.  Authors will have a different road ahead than scriptwriters, but both can still learn loads from each other.

2. Curt vs. Long-winded Conversation — I have trouble with this one.  I love to spin words.  I love all of the different words I can use to say the same thing, describe the same picture, the same scene.  But unless you’re trying to create a boring, long winded character in the vein of a Eugene Levy role, you need to keep things–again–short, concise, easy for your reader to follow.  The problem I have with this is going to far the other way and creating dialogue made up of only sentence fragments.  Don’t do this.  You need to have balance, otherwise your audience is going to feel like the story is flying by to fast, or sluggishly dragging its feet to the end.  TIP:  Listen and study to the conversations of your friends and family and note mentally–or physically, if possible–the way they describe objects and situations.  Interviews are also a great place to study for your dialogue toolbox.

3. Sterile vs. Various Description — Very similar to the point above, except for (if your writing a book) you need to make your “narration” of the conversation as balanced as the dialogue itself.  The best written dialogue is dialogue you forget you’re reading.  Go ahead and let your readers know you’re the narrator of the story.  But when your characters are talking, let them do the talkingTIP:  Delete as many words as possible outside of the characters’ conversation.  Leave in only neccessary tags to help keep things clear and concise, as well the character actions that help propell the story along.

4. Simple vs. Creative “Tagging” — Tagging is one of the most important aspects of dialogue.  But without a little creativity you get a long list of, “he said, she said, he said, she said.”  And that’s not good reading.  So don’t be afraid to add in the occasional “she yelled”, because–like any good spice–a dash of flavor goes a long way.  TIP:  Study best-selling authors, especially those known for character development.  J.K. Rowling or Neil Gaiman, for instance.  Also, don’t be afraid to step outside of the box with good authors who are often swept under the bigger names, like John Flanagan and Derek Landy.

13 Quotes on Reading

28 10 2010

This morning I took some time to select 13 quotes on reading.  Reading, to a writer, is every bit as important as writing.  We have to step out of our own little books every blue moon and sample the wondrous works of art that others have created.  It is both stimulating for our minds–and creativity–and soothing rest for us as human beings.

As you read these quotes this morning, keep in mind how you can learn–and enjoy–reading from other authors, and how to be selective about what you read as well.


1. “There is an art of reading, as well as an art of thinking, and an art of writing.”
-Clarence Day

2. “By elevating your reading, you will improve your writing or at least tickle your thinking.”
-William Safire

3. “Beware of the man of one book.”
-Thomas Aquinas

4. “Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.”
-Mortimer J. Adler

5. “Reading is not a duty, and has consequently no business to be made disagreeable.”
-Augustine Birrell

6. “A novel is never anything, but a philosophy put into images.”
-Albert Camus

7. “The best effect of any book is that it excites the reader to self activity.”
-Thomas Carlyle

8. “Let blockheads read what blockheads wrote.”
-Lord Chesterfield

9. “The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.”
Joseph Joubert

10. “Choose an author as you choose a friend.”
-Sir Christopher Wren

11. “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
-Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

12. “No one ever committed suicide while reading a good book, but many have tried while trying to write one.”
-Robert Byrne

13. “What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us.”
-Thomas Carlyle