Life

An Interesting Essay by H.P. Lovecraft

A friend posted a link on Facebook today to an article, and I found it quite interesting. It’s purportedly an essay written by H.P. Lovecraft concerning his ‘method’ for writing. I thought some of you might enjoy it, too.

Lovecraft died on this date in 1937. Here is his essay “Notes on Writing Weird Fiction”

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This Man Gets It. Why Can’t Everyone?

The world already has hurdles built in, and some get more hurdles put in front of them right from the get-go, right from birth. One of the reasons I decided to include LGBT characters in prominent roles in my books is because LGBTQ people, young people especially, need representation in media. In songs, art, movies, television, and in books. What they do NOT need is people who don’t understand, who don’t seem to want to understand, adding more hurdles to their lives. Dale Hansen says it better than I can, so please read the article I linked below about a video of his posted to Facebook concerning student wrestler Mack Beggs, then watch Mr. Hansen’s full video which is included at the bottom of the article.

Sportscaster Dale Hansen defends trans student wrestler Mack Beggs in amazing takedown

Categories: Books, Dragonlinked, LGBT, LGBTQ, Life, Trans | Leave a comment

Research, research, research

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday break. I spent some time up north with family for a bit of a vacation and to hopefully get some cold-weather research in, as snow isn’t something one sees very often in central Texas. Alas, in the week and a half I was there, there was little to no snow in the part of Nebraska I stayed at. There was one evening of light snow a few days before the end of my vacation. It left less than an inch on the ground, and locals scoffed at the amount, but I was pleased to have been able to see the white stuff falling and the thin accumulation on streets, sidewalks, yards, trees, and on the frozen lake we visited a couple of times. Walking atop that lake was enjoyable, though alarmingly slippery, and something entirely new to me. All in all, it was a good trip. I had fun and got some insights that will help with the next book. Though I didn’t get to enjoy deep rifts of snow as I have in the past, I was able to experience just how terribly cold it feels when temperatures approach and go below zero degrees F, and think about just how difficult and dangerous life in those climes can be.

Now that I am back home, I’m doing research that is much more mundane using my trusty assistant, Google. The research concerns other matters that may impact plots in the next volume: technology advances during the industrial revolution, arctic ecology, history, and the like. A bit boring, perhaps, but essential to understand how we as a people progress and fall back, and how greed, fear, the desire for progress, and such, propels individuals.

Time to get back to it. Happy reading!

Categories: Dragonlinked, Lethera, Life, Update, Writing | Tags: | Leave a comment

Heavy As Lead

I normally do not comment anywhere or to anyone about terrible events. I’m usually heart-broken, or numb, or dismayed, or all of it and don’t have the will to do so anyway. When the twin towers went down in 2001, I was so shocked that at first I felt like I was in some strange dream. What was on-screen…couldn’t be real. Those planes plowing into…no. No. No. No. No. No. Not real. Not possible! I had watched online and on television for hours but then…I couldn’t look at it anymore. I just couldn’t. I retreated to the only place I thought could get me away from it all—an online game. There I could mindlessly do quests until I could fully process the horror of what had transpired. It took days, but eventually, the dark cloud lifted from me and I could go about my life almost normally.

This past few days I’ve buried myself in writing, letting myself process what happened on June 12, 2016. I cannot believe someone could do that. I just do not understand how a person could wantonly kill anyone much less dozens and dozens. But someone did, and so many lives were lost. I grieve for the victim’s friends and families. And those who survived, too. They must live with the memory of the horror of what they went through.

I will not name that person. I will not name who that person claims they were associated with. I will not further that person’s goals.

My heart, heavy as it feel right now, is with the victims, their surviving friends and families, and the survivors. My heart is with Orlando.

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For Anyone Who Wears Glasses/Contacts And Uses A Computer

So, I recently started using glasses while at the computer. I’d been stubbornly refusing to use glasses even though my eyesight has gone to crap over the last few years. Well, a bunch of my family were here at my house recently, and we played a game called Smart Ass (a trivia-based game that was pretty fun). As part of the gameplay, one must read clues from cards. When it came my team’s turn to do so, I could not read the card. My brother slid his reading glasses across the table to me, and laughingly told me to use them. I put the things on, and let me tell you, I was shocked at how clear the card became. And not just the cards, my phone, too! The icons looked amazing and I mentioned as much. Everyone laughed at me, I blushed in embarrassment, and he told me to keep the readers. He apparently buys them by the dozen somewhere? I never even knew that was a thing.

Aaaanyway. I’ve been using them since when I need to read anything, and the first time I put them on at the computer, I was shocked once again at how nice things looked and how clear everything was—except for rendered text. I noticed it mostly in OpenOffice (the suite I use to write because it is so much cheaper than Office and has just about the same functionality), but text in everything was not quite right. Finally it got annoying enough that today I spent some time searching online for clues as to why text looked fuzzy. I wondered if perhaps OpenOffice wasn’t using ClearType, which Windows uses to make screen text more readable. After quite some time searching, a thought occurred to me. When I reinstalled Windows recently, I went through the ClearType setup routine. Maybe I should do it again while wearing the glasses?

I typed cleartype in the Cortana/search bar and launched the setup app. I had to change most of the previous choices I made, which boded well. When I was done, oohhh man, text looked spectacular in OpenOffice! The text in the document, on the menu, in the settings dialogs—text everywhere in Writer looked great. And here in Chrome as I type in this post, text looks so much better, so much more legible. Everywhere text is rendered on my screen looks a thousand times better, now.

Long story short: If you use Windows (not sure about other operating systems, they may have technology like ClearType) and have recently started wearing glasses/contacts or have changed your prescription, I would highly recommend running the ClearType setup again with your glasses/contacts. You may see a WORLD of difference like I did. I’m betting the eyestrain/headaches I would occasionally feel will be lessened or even eliminated.

Welp, back to writing.

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Disruption

As a writer, there are so many things that can throw you for a loop, that can suck the energy right out of you and make it hard to do anything, much less write. There are big things, like attending funerals, offering comfort to someone in the hospital or emergency room, or news of someone close to you with cancer or another severe illness. Aside from the loss, or potential loss, of someone you care about, those kinds of things are powerful reminders of our mortality. It’s no surprise that they can cause feelings of depression and perhaps a desire to curl up in a nest and hide until you don’t feel so bad.

Even ‘small’ things can disrupt. A bad review, a summons for jury duty, a surprisingly large bill, or an unexpected home repair or appliance failure. There are a number of relatively innocuous events that can eat away at your energy, your desire to put pen or pencil to paper, or to tap away at a keyboard or typewriter.

So what are you to do at times like that? YOU WRITE.

Drag yourself off the sofa/chair/recliner, pull yourself hand-over-hand out of that blanket nest. Make your coffee or tea or whatever you imbibe, plop your butt at your table or desk, and you darn well write. No idea what to write? Read over a few of the pages leading to where you are now to re-familiarize yourself with the scene and then continue that ongoing inner monologue, or that conversation, or that scene description, or whatever. Just. Keep. Writing.

Over the past almost five years since I started writing more or less seriously, there have been a few days where all I got on the page was a single paragraph. One paragraph. But you know what? That was more than I would have done if I’d crawled into bed, or curled up on the sofa. The next day may only bring about one or two paragraphs as well, but that is still progress. Eventually, either through the passage of time or because of the writing, your mood will again lift, you will feel the old inspiration, and ideas will once again pummel you relentlessly. You’ll then look back over the surprisingly large number of pages you were able to eke out in the interim and be glad of them.

As a bonus, all those disruptive things can also provide you with material. Writing a scene where protag (or antag, for that matter) is going through something horrible? Recall how you felt when something horrible happened to you and translate that into how that character would feel in their scene.

All those things also point out the truth of the saying ‘Shit happens.’ Not so good in real life, perhaps, but as a writer, there’s nothing like some good old random (but logical) disruption to stir the plot up. I made use of this in A Storm in the Desert.

SPOILER WARNING. If you’ve not read Dragonlinked Chronicles Volume 3, A Storm in the Desert, you may want to skip the next paragraph. If you’d like to read it, purchase links to Amazon.com for each of the volumes are available in the Books section of the Library menu above, or, have a friend lend it to you. All my books are Kindle Lending Library enabled.

Initially, the issues with the Corpus Order were going to be resolved in the execution scene. Before Anaya was executed, Aeron was going to give a speech that would convince Nesch Takatin of the error of his ways and lead to the Corpus Order ending their campaign against dragons. As I got closer and closer to writing that outlined scene, I felt it was a little too . . . tame. Then one day an idea struck me. How about some disruption (at least for Takatin)? Instead of just a talk-talk scene, how about throwing in a rescue? Aeron and Anaya would be rescued, and the guild would start an overt, in-your-face campaign to convince the members of the Order and the people of the villages that what the Order was doing was wrong. This also made me look at my initial idea of the Order becoming an ally of the guild. What if, instead, the Order gets completely shut down by the very person who everyone thought would help? Disruption! I didn’t want to leave them with total failure, however, and readers, I was certain, would feel the same way. So then, if I went with this twist, what other method could be used to accomplish their core goal? How about something that had been talked about before in another context, something that someone no one liked was using to gain an upper hand? Have the guild purchase the Order’s assets and turn Bataan-Mok into a guild branch! Former members of the Order would keep their jobs and the guild could continue doing most of the things the Order used to. Everything looked like it would work out nice and neat, so that’s what I did.

SPOILER OVER.

Disruption can be difficult for us to handle, but fight through those tough times and then use them. Difficulty isn’t so great in your life, but it makes good stories.

Categories: Dragonlinked, Fan Extras, Life, Tips, Writing | Leave a comment

Another Reason Pauley Perrette is Awesome

I’ve always liked her character on NCIS, Abby, but this news shows how amazing the actress herself is. She’s written a song in support of LGBT youth, letting them know that even though it may not seem like it at times, there are people who love them. She also hopes the song and video can spread awareness of The Trevor Project, a place where LGBT youth can get assistance if they’re ever in a situation where they feel down or suicidal. The song is called Beautiful Child.

People deal with tragic events in different ways. When Ms. Perrette learned that the younger brother of a friend had killed himself, she took her feelings and channeled them into writing this uplifting song. With assistance from fellow actors from NCIS and other CBS shows as well as friends in the music industry, Ms. Perrette put together a music video for the song which premiered on Entertainment Tonight.

You can read Ms. Perrette’s interview about the song on ET Online here (the video for the song is below the story), and you can see the video here.

Categories: LGBT, LGBTQ, Life | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Think Outside the Box

I’ve been day-dreaming, researching, brainstorming, and watching shows to let my subconscious percolate and brew up some interesting scenarios for the next book. Well, today I came across an old link I bookmarked a while back. It demonstrates that sometimes you can create with tools that aren’t what you’d typically use. And sometimes the results are amazing. Take a look and always keep this in the back of your mind: Whether in life or in writing, sometimes thinking outside the box, doing things differently, can result in incredible things.

The behind the scenes videos are definitely worth a watch to see what they went through to accomplish this. Those are the actual musicians in the car and the actual singer doing the driving.

I can’t stop smiling watching this! And singing along!

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First Draft Complete

For the past few months, I’ve tried to do my best impression of a hermit. I’ve cut back on doing some things, like the internet (I’m looking at you Facebook/movie sites/music sites/comic sites/fun sites in general),  going to not-quite must-see movies, posting here on my blog, and a few other things. It freed up an alarming amount of time—time that I guess I had been wasting before. ‘Wasting’ may be too harsh a word, but in any case, instead of doing all that, I focused on writing. The end result of which is that the first draft of the sequel to Dragonlinked is complete. (/cheer)

As I think I’ve mentioned before, creating an outline was a great help. I worked out the major and minor plot lines, switched them around, threw some out, etc, ahead of time. While writing, I only had to fill in details and flesh out character actions/reactions. I did alter some things slightly in the writing, as I found better flows as I went a long. But draft one is now complete.

On to the editing, the tweaking or revising, designing a cover, and last, but not least, coming up with a title!

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Hatred is a Terrible Thing

Several days ago I read a story about a trans-gender teen. Her classmates voted her prom queen. I was glad to see that this was possible now, that people’s minds and hearts had evolved enough so that this child could be happy. Sadly, there was backlash from closed-minded people. Cassidy dealt with it with strength and grace. Bravo for her. Then, today I read about a kid, Chad, who was thrown out of his home by his own mother when he came out to her. Luckily, he has one of the world’s greatest grandfathers and a place to live. I can’t say how I feel about his mother any better than her own father did, so I won’t. Just read his letter to her. We can’t know exactly what Chad and his mother said to each other, but at least her father left the door open for her to return to their lives, once she finds her heart. The saddest part is that this kind of stuff happens all the time. And it really shouldn’t. Kids have a tough enough time already dealing with school and with hormones sending them on emotional roller-coaster rides, all the while trying to figure out who and what they are. They don’t need all this hate thrown on top.

We need to fight against and cut down hatred whenever it rears its ugly head.

When I conceived and began writing Dragonlinked, I had your typical teenagers in it. Well, perhaps a little more well-behaved than the norm, but still, young adults with hopes and aspirations. Dreams. I threw in a monkey wrench for one of the characters, changed his life a bit. I was about half way through writing the book when I saw a video. And the video made me realize that an even bigger change was in store for the guy (actually, the seeds of it were already there, I just hadn’t seen it yet). The video? Hang on, let me back up a bit to talk about another video first.

Warning  for those who haven’t read Dragonlinked: Reading beyond here may reveal a slight spoiler.

I saw How to Train Your Dragon at the movies. I fell in love with it. Immediately. That movie grabs my heart and won’t let go. I can’t even tell you why (but I will sit down one day and study it). So I bought the blu-ray as soon as it was available and watched it the second it arrived. As the end credits began, the song that was playing once again grabbed my ear. I remembered it from seeing the movie in the theater, but now I searched the credits for the writer/performer. Jonsi. Hmm. With a quick Google-smack I found out he was also the lead singer for an Icelandic group named Sigur Ros. I pulled up YouTube and searched for the group. In the list of videos was one whose description said something about it being an award-winning video. Sweet. Click, watch. It’s for a song called Viorar Vel Til Loftarasa. The music and his voice were very dramatic and gave me goose bumps even though I had no idea what he was saying. The video? Holy cow, the video. It surprised me, shocked me, and moved me nearly to tears. Love. It is such a delicate thing, the tiny wings of a heart beating desperately, longingly. Can one control where it will land?

Jump forward almost a year. The book, as I said, was around halfway done. I was on the way home from picking up groceries, just about to pull into the garage, when a song came on the radio. Firework by Katy Perry. It had a decent enough tune, and the lyrics were kinda cool. I was humming it the whole time I put the groceries away. Then YouTube, search, click, and wow. I watched it several times. The message it was offering, the lyrics, the video, everything was amazing. About the third time I watched it, I noticed a scene. What I suddenly realized was a boy seemed to gather his courage, walk over, and kiss another boy.

Lightning-strike.

That video from Sigur Ros flashed through my mind and the scene from this video flashed through again. Connections were suddenly made, and scenes, images, conversations started popping into existence. That guy in the book, he was in love with another guy! The decision to absolutely do this having been made in that photo-flash instant of realization, I brought up the manuscript to look for ways to drop hints from the beginning.

So what the heck does all this have to do with hatred? Well, later, after the book was pretty much done, I gave it to a few test readers. I have to say, despite the powerful feeling I had that their relationship belonged in the book, I had doubts. I made the world of Lethera a place where who you fall in love with was not looked at any differently than whether you have brown eyes, or green, or blue, or whatever. It was just another aspect of your person. But still, two boys in love? I was a little nervous.

Only one of the test readers made mention of this aspect of the book. She asked if I was sure I wanted to leave that relationship in because I’d risk losing a lot of the potential mainstream audience for the book. Are you sure about this? Yes, I said, I’m leaving it in.

See, by this time I had also seen a few videos on YouTube from teens who’d been picked on, bullied, and had cut themselves or contemplated suicide. I had also seen the 2011 movie, Bully. All I saw made me sad, and worried for kids like them. I decided to take a stand. My own little stand, but a stand nonetheless.

These books set in Lethera, the characters in them, are my way of fighting the hatred directed at Cassidy and Chad, at kids like them. All those being bullied because they are not straight. They deserve heroes they can think of as their own. People (or characters in books, movies, TV) they can look up to and say, hey, they’re kinda like me. I’m not alone.

I have no idea if my books will help. It might even be conceited to think they can. But it’s what I can do to reach the most people. And if my books help even one person, it will have been worth it. Because everyone should do something. Speak out if you see bullying or hateful activity. Talk to someone who looks like they could use a friend. We all should fight hatred in whatever way we can.

Categories: Bisexual, Books, Gay, Lesbian, Lethera, LGBT, LGBTQ, Life, Movies, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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