Updates a’plenty soon!

26 12 2008

I was cleaning out my daughters room and I found a box with old stuff from my old desk. My old jump drive was in it!

I checked it, and it’s got a lot of my recent writing on it. That’s great news! I still haven’t had anyone crack open my old harddrive, but this jump drive has a lot of my best stuff on it, so I’m excited. I’ll be updating some of my pages with project examples and stuff. Probably tonight!


Writing instructions

14 12 2008

At work, for the foreseeable future, I’ll be writing work instructions for security at the business I’m at. Writing instructions is always a tricky business. It’s technical writing. You have to relay step-by-step instructions. You have to do it in a way that’s approachable and readable enough for the security officer, and yet technical enough to impress the bosses who don’t actually have to do any of the work.

Luckily the security officers at the facility are pretty sharp, so you can use the 25-cent words that good technical writing shouldn’t use. But readability isn’t just about the words you use. Formatting is really important. The spacing between lines and after paragraph breaks, the fonts you use, the bullet points you use. All of these are surprisingly important in writing clear, concise instructions.

It’s always surprising how many people, even in the highest levels of management, are perfectly okay with a terrifying, blinding wall of text.

That’s where you come in. Stop it before it gets to that!

Pimpin’ novels ain’t easy!

14 09 2008

I’ve written two and a half novels.

No, none have been published. For lack of trying. I’ve never written a book that I considered ready for submission, but two and a half novels is really a feather in ones cap. I think they’re pretty good, but for various reasons they aren’t ready for primetime.

My first novel was just over 50,000 words, which means it’s a NaNoWriMo novel, of course. It started as Date Night and eventually became The Greatness of Jackson Grady or Welcome to Nowhere. I never did settle on a title. Yes, it was every bit the angsty vomiting of emotions onto the page that it sounds like, which is why it’ll never see the light of day. The only real benifit is it made my girlfriend adore me (even though I wrote her into the novel as the psycho chick!).

No, it doesn’t normally produce the great American novel, but I highly recommend NaNoWriMo for any would-be writer. It’s a clinic in discipline and achievement.

My second novel, The Indignant Gentlemen, is an homage to Horatio Hornblower and all my other Age of Sail heroes. It’s about an American boy who gets pressed (actually spelled ‘prest’ for all those diehards out there!) into the British navy at the onset of the French Revolutionary Wars, and follows his friendship with three other midshipmen.

The reason it’s not ready for submission is due to two things. One, it’s terribly inaccurate. As much as I love the genre, I’m really not an expert on sea life, and I get in the weeds when I try to talk about tactics. The second reason is the theme I really wanted, the life and friendships of midshipmen (no, not in a gay way, perv), didn’t come through too strongly, any my main character, James Maddox, came across way too whiny.

Still, this novel has a lot of potential, so it’s on deck for a rewrite. Unfortunately, it calls for a complete overhaul.

My third, unfinished, novel has a wicked long name, but I’ll just call it Penny Dreadful in the Nefarious North. It’s about a Victorian journalist and paranaturalist who investigates curious phenomena for her weekly etiquette column, Dear Miss Dreadful…

It was going swimmingly for a good long while, then dried up, and I’ve been meekly plucking away at it for a couple years. It does need a rewrite, but at its core, it’s a very good book and very solid writing.

I’ve updated my Projects page with the latter two novels, and in the future I’ll post some excerpts.

It’s a very controversial thing among writers to share their babies. There’s a lot of fear about theft. I personally think this is overblown. First, great minds think alike, and frankly, great minds don’t have to steal things. People without great minds may possibly steal your idea, but they really won’t be able to do a lot with it, will they? Besides, it gives one great incentive to get cracking at finishing their novel and doing something with it.

Also, writers have to realize that this is a networking business. It’s nearly impossible to get successful at it through cold submissions (that shouldn’t keep you from trying though; persistance is key). You have to know people, and you have to pimp your babies. You have to talk about your novel to whoever will listen, because you never really know who may be in a position to help you out. Plus, talking about it will help you develop a pitch. A lot of brilliant writers can’t talk about their books for beans. And to an extent I include myself in that.

So get out there and talk about your stuff. Be enthusiastic about it. That enthusiasm, even if it’s fake, will be contagious, and will bounce back to you. And we all need enthusiasm. We eat it up.