Ruckin’ With You | 10.31.16 | I’m Off . . .

. . . to NaNoWriMo later at 12:01 AM. Hello. Figured I’d better fire off what might be the last Ruckin’ missive for a few weeks. As I finally embark on the NaNo endeavor I’m going to make the best attempt at radio silence that I can because I’m like our family dog who is easily distracted by squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, frogs and all other manner of lively distractions. Will be doing what I call a writing monk’s existence. No TV (with perhaps one exception — TWD). No social media (except before bed and upon waking), no reading comics; MAYBE only read prose, no guitars, no videogamses, no nothing really. Sounds like punishment, but I’m not so good with the kind of self-discipline required for someone trying to get a significant portion of a novel written in any given span of time. Thus, drastic measures are in order. #Write-Or-Flight

Blocked Shot

Received a submission rejection sometime last week. It’s the first rejection I’ve received in a long time. Also the first submission I’d made in a year and a half. It was a drabble-length piece (100 words). Thought it was pretty much a layup, but, alas. The microfiction market is just as tough as all the others — despite and perhaps because of the low word count it can be deceptively even more difficult. I’ll revisit this particular market (and others) next Spring. Make it a slam dunk next time.

Read of the Week

Finally got (somewhat) caught up on Jaime Hernandez’s portion of LOVE AND ROCKETS by reading his graphic novel The Love Bunglers (2014, Fantagraphics Books) this past weekend, which collects his Maggie and Ray-focused stories from Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 & 4. I’ve been trailing slowly behind for about a decade now and had heard that this particular story was quite the climax in the lives of a few of the characters and that it’s a bit heartbreaking (and that I’d be in tears by the end). There’s some seriously sad stuff, true enough, and it was great to get even more deep back story on a character I’ve loved for twenty years now. Maybe it was all that anticipation and buildup, but I didn’t get nearly as emotional as I thought (hoped) I would. Now I’m ready for all the stuff from L&R: New Stories #5 – 8. Not sure when that material will be collected into a separate hardcover, my preferred format. Not sure if I’d be lost reading the recently released Love and Rockets Vol. 4 #1 without that stuff.


TV . . . or Not TV?

I think for many of us scribes we tend to be at odds with the passive activity of watching television. I know for me I can only do about 2 – 3 hours total on a given day before I get antsy. Years back I never watched as many shows as I watch nowadays (they say we’re in a new golden age of television, and it’s true). I’ve deliberately cut back some from last season. So far for the 2016-17 season I have:

  • The Walking Dead
  • Talking Dead
  • Luke Cage (completed)
  • The Flash
  • Supergirl
  • This Is Us
  • The Blacklist
  • Real Time with Bill Maher

I think that’s about it. Four others will arrive later in 2017: Shades of Blue (winter/spring), Fear the Walking Dead (spring/summer), Game of Thrones (spring/summer) and Into the Badlands (TBD).

After one episode of Westworld, I haven’t decided if I’m going to continue it or not.

Oh, and I can’t forget that 2017 also brings the debut of Netflix Marvel shows like Iron Fist, The Punisher, The Defenders and the second season of Jessica Jones

Ugh! It’s so much TV for the time-managing-challenged struggling scribe like myself.

Ear candy of the Week

Various songs from The Altar, the sophomore album by BANKS, have been echoing through my head all week. May as well let these tunes infiltrate and infect your brain too. I’m not into much pop music at all, but thankfully her stuff is alt-pop laced with R&B/electronic (especially her older material). Jillian Banks has been my favorite lady singer of the last few years. Check her out.

++ Linkage ++
It is almost here… NANOWRIMO - via Reggie Lutz
NANOWRIMO 2016 PREP: DAY 7 - via Paul D. Aronson
The Curious Case of Why Short Story Collections Don’t Sell - via Kyle A. Massa

++ ICYMI ++
NOTEBOOK 8 | . . .

Well, I guess this is it for a while. I’ll be back in a month.

If I’m back sooner then you can probably assume things aren’t going so well and I will have a story to tell about it.

But why think negatively, right?

Be good to each other.

Have a great week/month.

Oh yeah, and Happy Halloween!



Quote | Clive Barker on Characters

This week I’ve found a poignant quote from another writer I’ve looked up to since I started writing in the mid-90s, someone’s whose imagination and vision I greatly admire. Like Anne Rice from a few weeks back, Clive Barker is another fellow Libra. This quote comes from an old interview I stumbled across that was conducted in 1991 by W.C. Stroby for Writer’s Digest.

WD: When the story ideas begin to get very bizarre or complex, what can you do to make sure you don’t lose that sort of emotional under-pinning?
BARKER: The first thing is you’ve got to believe in the characters. You’ve got to be thinking with the characters and you’ve got to be within their skins. If you’re within their skins then their response to any situation, however bizarre it is, is going to be based upon your sense of them. Any writer’s belief in his or her characters – or the situations in which the characters find themselves – is central to his ability to convince the audience.

As a writer, you have to therefore always try to trip yourself up, look for the places where you’ve done something which was conve-nient rather than true. Convenient because sometimes characters can do things which are convenient to plotting, you know? But very often you realize “This character is not going to do that. This character is going to do X rather than Y.” And sometimes that can be a pain in the ass, but it’s worth the trouble if it’s going to convince the reader of the truth of the situation.

Clive Barker

Notebook 8 | . . .

Shit. I’ve gotten into that weird mode of only wanting to write. I had planned on reading tonight and sat down with a couple of books, a novel and an anthology, and couldn’t bring myself to turn the pages. Grabbed a stack of comics and they couldn’t keep my attention past a couple of pages either.

Maybe it’s just the stressful day at work that’s soured my mood and made me listless this evening. Month-end is always intense and the flurry of needy emails severely grate on my nerves. Friday and Monday at work will no doubt be their own special versions of Hell.

Or maybe I’m just anxious about starting NaNoWriMo in less than a week. Since I’ve been trying to wrap and tidy up other things prior to starting, I haven’t exactly prepped myself for THE literary endeavor of the year, aside from mentally. Well, I do have a summary written and some other conceptual notes from the summer when the idea originated in my noggin. I need to tweak the summary some. Write a skeletal outline. 

But I’m supposed to be working on a short comic script for a talent search as well. I think the anticipation and mental build-up of writing a novel, uninterrupted for a month at least, has diverted my attention from that. Like NaNo, it also has a November 30th deadline.

I suppose it’s possible NaNoWriMo has got me ready to forsake all else. Which is fine because that’s pretty much the only way I’ll be able to achieve a modicum of success with it.

All else must be shunned!

No squirrel is going to distract this eager, happy-go-lucky dog . . .

Reggie Lutz on NaNoWriMo

It is almost here… NANOWRIMO –

Old writing buddy and ‘friend of the program’ Reggie Lutz shares some sage words. She’s on-point as usual, so do yourself a favor and have a read of her post regarding NaNoWriMo.

Here’s an excerpt:

One of the most important things around fiction writing is learning how to finish work that you start. This is a road toward a complete first draft. While the word count requirement to win NanoWrimo is not, strictly speaking, book length, it is enough word count to determine, at the end of it all, whether your story idea will work once you’ve polished it.

Whether or not you have something workable at the end of it, you will have learned whether the kamikaze approach to writing 1,700 words a day works for you. That’s not nothing. if you are a person who has already started and finished long work then maybe the challenge for you is producing content at a relatively blistering pace. Doing this can teach you how to work with deadlines and how you, as an individual writer, work under pressure.

NaNoWriMo 2016 – I’m In!

#NaNoWriMo #InItToWinIt

So this past weekend I got myself signed up for NaNoWriMo 2016. I’ve been wanting to do this since about 2008 or so, but have never fully committed. When I first became aware of this National Novel Writing Month I was hosting a novel writing workshop over on (the Virtual Studio) where we posted novel chapters weekly for reads, reviews and discussion. It was a basically a support group for new novelists

The novels I was flirting with writing back then simply would not have been ideal for something like NaNoWriMo because I am a meticulous plotter and in order to realistically reach the goal of 50,000 words in one month’s time (whew!), you have to embrace writing with little-to-no editing as you go along. Pantsing, it’s called — writing by the seat of your pants completely untethered by the act of editing and revising.

I’ve been in hardcore, OCD edited mode since the first days of being an editor in 2000. You see, when you’re an editor of other people’s work you become HIGHLY aware of what you believe to be exceptional writing and what it takes to achieve it. Which means you also become hyper-aware of what that means in your own writing. You begin to practice what you preach, so to speak. And that’s just one reason why I’ve become such a slowpoke writer over the last decade or more — I get caught up in revising as I go because the belief is it’s better to do the hard work — the editing and refining — early rather than have to do so with hundreds of pages later. That’s one half of it. The other half is not wanting to write yourself into a corner. Sure, outlines help with that, but with only that.

So why am I feeling like I’m primed to finally take the challenge this year? Well, for starters, I’m writing a novel that doesn’t utilize my preferred narrative approach, which is multiple third-person POV, limited. Instead I’m writing a first-person narrative that utilizes the noir voice that I’ve somehow come to do very well, as evident by the response to some older pieces I’ve written in the crime/noir genre over the years. In that approach I know I can get a pretty good unedited flow going because I will essentially take on the role the protagonist and narrated from his point-of-view as if it’s my true life story I’m telling. When you believe it’s your “true story” to tell, the details flow a lot easier

That said, the true challenge will be in managing to minimize distractions, which includes ignoring friends and family for a month. Devoting all free time to this task of amassing essentially 1700 words a day. Good words, bad words, even ugly words. Gotta somehow turn off that inner filter, that inner critic and just let the words exist upon the page without scrutiny.

If I can achieve even just 25,000 – 30,000 words in 30 days, that will be a hell of an accomplishment in and of itself. Everything beyond that will be extra credit for this speed-challenged writer.

Wish me luck. And best of luck to you, if you’re participating this year. Let’s buddy up.

Linkage | 10.22.16

WP Links

What it Takes to Be a “Real” Writer – via Kristen Lamb
Write What You Know (NaNoWriMo Prep Part 2) – via Rachel Poli
In Defence Of NaNoWriMo – via Holly Evans

Links Abroad

National Novel Writing Month – Sign up!
How To Cope With Feeling Unsupported as a Writer
Writer’s Toolbox



Writing Advice from Neil Gaiman

This has made the rounds to various web places over the years, most notably in an article at The Guardian.

8 Rules for Writers by Neil Gaiman

1 Write.

2 Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

3 Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

4 Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.

5 Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

6 Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

7 Laugh at your own jokes.

8 The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

Neil Gaiman