Friday, March 24, 2017

4 & 4k: A Gratitude Journal for 10 Minute Novelists

All Good Things

So we have come to the final day of this series of blog posts. In them, we have explored many of the features of the 10 Minute universe. The whole point and purpose of the 10 Minute movement is not merely writing, which is where have been focusing. It is about empowerment. It is about taking back control of the only thing that is really ours, and completely irreplaceable: our time.

Seneca, the famous Stoic philosopher, said:

It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested.

So this is where 10 Minute Novelists come in. If you really don't have time to write, then don't. If your priorities are such that every moment is occupied by something more important that writing, then do that thing.

But if you have a mere 10 minutes to write, you can get in about 400 words in a single sitting. That's about two to three paragraphs. And in 6 to 7 months, you will have your first draft... in 10 minutes a day. Katherine used this method to take her novel from concept to completion in 5 years, and that includes multiple drafts and edits.

If you have more that 10 minutes, or two 10 minute blocks, or your typing speed is a little better than average, your novel will start to take shape that much sooner. If you can set aside three or four 10 minute blocks a day, you are winning NaNoWriMo every... single... month. Of course, there is still the editing, etc. But you get the picture. 10 minutes.

Though I have spent the last 10 days talking about the 10 Minute Novel community, the website, the various add-ons and events, it is really all about a single thing. You. You writing your novel. That is what this whole thing is for. So take 10 minutes, right now if you can. Get some words down. They don't have to be great, or world changing, or perfect. They just have to be yours. Go ahead, I'll wait until you get back.

I wanted to wrap this series with a big thank you to all of the Admins who have given their support and Drabbles to me over the last two weeks, with a special shout out to Ian for letting me in to their world. It's been an honour to be a part of their group, even for a short time. But I think I will reserve the last Drabble to a member of the group, who I think speaks for all of us. Let's hear from Pamela Humphrey.

Hushing the crowd before the moment of the big reveal, the Admins lined up near the door. When it swung open, Katharine stepped in.  Glenda snapped pictures as thousands of writers roared, “Surprise!” Escorted to the center of the library, Katharine took her spot atop the temporary stage. Eric quieted the crowd with a raise of his hand. “Every book in this place was helped into creation by the group you created. All of these are ten minute books, in some way.” Sheri and Sandy handed out invisible drinks, and when everyone had a glass, we lifted them. “To Katharine!”

(Pamela Humphrey, a homeschooling mom to three boys and author of Finding Claire, joined 10 Minute Novelists a year ago.)

Hear, hear!

4 & 4k: A Gratitude Journal for 10 Minute Novelists

Money Meets Mouth

Before I commit to anything, especially something that purports to teach me, I check credentials. If I want an electrician to wire-up my new kitchen, I am going to look for training, licencing and referrals before I start letting him tear open my walls.

When it comes to writing books, my requirements are pretty much the same. If I am going to take your advice on how to write a novel, you have to have actually written a novel. It should be pretty good one too, even if it isn't in my genre. I want to see what others have said about your novel, and about your instructions on writing.

A quick search of Amazon will produce thousands of hits on How to Write a Novel. I don't really trust the rankings, since there are many factors that can influence that which have nothing to do with the quality of the book.

But I WILL check out your novel(s) as well. For example, I recently had a Beta reader review my novel. What she had to say was instructive and flattering, so my ego was quite flattered. But before I took the advice to heart, I bought her book (I think it qualifies as an Adventure/Romance, but since I don't read in that genre I wouldn't know.) Long story short (I know, it's too late for that) I absolutely love it. It is well written, engaging and tense. Her advice about my writing is supported by skills.

But here is the really interesting part. What if you had written and published a novel or two, and blogged about how you invented a way of writing that allowed you to do so while maintaining a so-called regular life. You are an author (published) and you have a methodology that made you an author. Ok, Check and Check What if then you were approached, unsolicited by a publishing company to writing an instructional book about your methodology. Triple check.

That is what is at the core of THIS group. A book. A book that has proven to be central to the way people do what they have always dreamed of doing, of writing their novel in the midst of their chaos. A book that makes you dig into your memory, psyche and soul to draw out the writer that is in you. A book that not only gives you instruction, but actually permission, to live a fragmented and distracted life so that everyone and everything you love get's it due.

That's a lot to put on the shoulders of one book, but it is bearing up well under the pressure. Write A Novel in Ten Minutes a Day is required reading if you want to write, and you know... have a life as well. If you are a member of this group, and have enjoyed what you have learned here, buy the book. Leave a review on Amazon. And spread the word.

To borrow a phrase from National Novel Writing Month, the world needs your novel. And you just might need this book to write it.

Our penultimate Drabble comes from Sonja Fröjdendal:

One day 4 years ago I trolled around Twitter to see what I could find. Katharine found me and asked me to join her group on Facebook, it was 1 month old when I entered the wonderful world of 10 minute novelists. I haven’t looked back since and I’ve never regretted joining. I met a lot of friends for life through ten minutes and I learned a lot about what not to do writing a book. I was asked to be an admin last year and it has given me a new found respect for Katharine and the other admins.  

(Since joining, Sonja's released 3 short stories in 3 anthologies and self-published a book of poems. What’s next on the horizon for her? 10MinCon18!)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

4 & 4k: A Gratitude Journal for 10 Minute Novelists

From Facebook to Face to Face

It has happened. I have documented proof. It's kinda like photos of the Sasquatch, or sightings of dear old Nessie, or an Alien autopsy video. But like, for real.

It has come through in private chats, buried deeply in randoms comments. But it is true. Members of 10 Min Novelists have met. No, not on Facebook, but as the kids say these days... IRL. Sometimes in twos and threes, old friends who knew each other before 10 Min keeping in touch. Even 10 Min Novelists coming together from the ends of the earth, (at least the end where Britain is...)

There is something magical, and wholly unique, that happens when writers get together in person. There is that visceral knowing that comes to the surface that you, the author alone at your desk, are not alone in the world. There is a level of sharing and learning that happens in an uninterrupted flow of conversation. There is something about being in a new place that encourages you to take that extra step when you have already come this far. There is a difference between being 'friends' online and being FRIENDS with someone that you share a story, an experience and a drink with.

Now, I know that for some of us, travel is uncomfortable, physically, emotionally and financially. There is a comfortable place where we hide our bodies, our hearts and minds. But before there is a breakthrough to the new, there must a break-from the old. So it's high time we give ourselves a break.

For the summer of 2018, the 10 Minutes Novelists team is working SO hard to create the first ever 10MinCon. And you HAVE to be there. Here's what you'll get:
  1. You'll be learning from some of the best in the writing business. These folks have been where you want to go, and they want to share that knowledge and experience with YOU!
  2. You'll be meeting and creating connections that you would simply not make anywhere else, guaranteed. Networking? Please! This will be BONDING!
  3. You'll find your place in the whole group of writers. You will realize that it is not a competition, it's a COMMUNITY, and you are a member of it.
  4. You'll meet and make real friends, some that will last you for the rest of your life. I am not kidding. If you think they are nice online, just wait until you meet some of these amazing people FACE TO FACE.
So, seriously. It is still 15 months away. Reserve your spot, give the organizers a chance to prepare for your triumphant entrance, and start stashing your pennies (or nickels, if you are in Canada, 'cause we don't do pennies anymore...) YOU need to be there, and WE need you to be there.

To wrap today's post up, the incredible (and incredibly busy) Jessica White found time to leave us with this Drabble:
As a homeschooling mother of two, I barely had ten minutes to write or be on social media.  Then my inner introvert stumbled upon this tiny community of writers and found a quiet corner. Each day I met new people and made new friends who encouraged me to keep writing and shared their hard learned advice. My manuscript matured until the group gave me the courage to publish.  I wanted to give back. So when Katharine shared how she had challenged herself to write a 1000 words a day for a whole year, I challenged the group to join her. The 365k Challenge was born. In twenty-six months, 10 Minute Novelist participants have written over 70 million words, proving anyone can write if they can carve out at least ten minutes a day.
Unfortunately, she is sooo busy that she wasn't able to do her own bio. So her ever supportive fellow admins stepped in for a little extra support:

Ian McAllister: Jessica White looks after the helm over at our annual 365 Writing club challenge. She is usually our voice of calm in a crisis.

And Sheri Williams says: Just write, Jessica White is awesome. End stop.

I agree. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

4 & 4k: A Gratitude Journal for 10 Minute Novelists

But Wait! There’s More!

Post-credits scenes are all the rage these days. Go see any movie (but especially hero movies) and you will see a stalwart bunch of patrons still sitting and sipping their sodas, waiting for the 30 second plug at the end of the credits.

Because there is more.

Let’s not be the ones to break with trends and let you in on the MORE of 10MinNovelists. Because there IS more!

I have already waxed rhapsodic about the website, so we’ll let that pass.

Instead, let’s look at two other great resources.

The first is the Twitter Feed. Katharine’s @10MinNovelist hosts the Thursday Night Twitter chat, as previously mentioned, but there is so much more. As things come up, come through or are just plain interesting (with a somewhat writerly potential) they will find their way into the twitterverse and onto this feed. If your pulse is timed to the rhythm of an updating Twitter feed, then this is definitely for you.

Don’t confuse the active @10MinNovelist with the now defunct @10MinNovelistS (<- Note the trailing S.) This handle hasn’t been used for over a year, though you can get a look at the topics they covered in yesteryear (and see a picture of Katharine with long hair.)

It should also come as no surprise that 10MinNovelists has a very active page on Pinterest. The curated content, from the website as well as many other sources, lends itself well to Pinterest's model of topical boards and shareable image driven links. There are hundreds of links on dozens of boards on the Pinterest account, but before you think that that is just too much information, think again. The true power of Pinterest is in its ‘Suggested Pins.’ Well tagged topics are shared across feeds and often to people who would have no other way of knowing about our group.

In fact, one our most recent members, Diane Fullen, found her way here through a pin. (How To Describe An Object & Why It Matters In Your Novel) Pinning works, and Pinterest is the place to pin.

So there are other ways to learn all about time crunched writing practices. Check them out.

In the spirit of ‘all roads lead to 10MinNovelists,’ let’s check out a Drabble by Brian Duxbury:

Once Upon A Long Time Ago, in a time before 10 Minute Novelists, my wife introduced me to Katharine via an obscure homeschooling connection. She had a blog promoting the idea of writing in ten minute increments which kick-started the belief in me that I could do it too. Now on her ever-expanding Facebook group, she brings that vision, discipline and encouragement to thousands of writers. I’ve been kindly included in some of her projects which has stretched, pummeled, edited and boosted me through my involvement. Who knows? One day I might just actually finish one of my writing projects!

(Brian struggles to hold his crazy family together between shelved projects while writing a dreadfully long diary which might one day be published sometime in the next century.)

Top 10 Reasons To Come to Camp NaNoWriMo

As of tomorrow, there will be 10 days before the start of Camp NaNoWriMo. It's not ofTEN that we get this chance so I thought I would bring to your atTENtion 10 reasons to think about joing a 10Min Cabin.

1. FREE! It is completely and totally free. You can join Camp NaNoWriMo absolutely gratis.

2. OLD FRIENDS! In Camp you can join one of the TEN Minute Novelists cabins (chat rooms) and be surrounded by a group of your friends while you write.

3. GOALS! You set the goals you want to meet and the way in which you want to measure them. Interested in writing words? You can do that! Interested in the number of hours you edit? You can do that too!

4. PRIZES! That's right there are some groups or businesses who are interested in your business so they are giving away some of their business services and products . Some you'll get just by participating, others by winning camp nanowrimo, and because you set your own goals (see Number 3), you actually CAN'T lose.

5. MOTIVATION! Are you having a difficult time getting started/keeping going/reaching the end of your writing project? Haven't writTEN as much as you had hopen? Support from your friends is all you need! Ask questions about about conTENt, structure, character and pretty much anything! Work with your friends and it won't feel like work!.

6. PRACTICE! Unlike NaNoWriMo, there is no set goal of 50,000 words in 30 days. But you can start working up to it, really exTENd yourself, with 25,000 for April's Camp, 37,500 for Camp in July and by November, you'll be ready for the whole shooting match!

7. EXPERIMENT! Want to try your hand at epic poetry? Go for it! Song lyrics? Do it! Short Stories/ Novellas, Flash fiction? Have at it! It doesn't have to be a novel (though it can be that too!)

8. NEW FRIENDS! Meet shiny new people! Some crisp new campers with the wrapper still on, some refurbished models guaranteed to work. Learn from people who have done it all before, or who are seeing it with a completely fresh perspective. Writing doesn't have to be a lonely job!

9. SUPPORT! NaNoWriMo is a great program and donations go to their Young Writer's Program, encouraging youth to dip quill into ink and forge their own future! Buy the Merch (I have a cool mug that I drink coffee from when I participate in Camp), or better yet, get sponsored to write and make money for a good cause.

10. CAMP! Eat virtual (Three part story) S'Mores, sing (Thematic) Campfire Songs, lisTEN to (Serial) Ghost Stories, go Swimming in the Virtual (Word) Lake, Nature (Description) Hikes, what's not to love? All the benefits of camping, and none of the bugs or wildlife getting into your sleeping bag! (Virtual kitTENs are always welcome though!)

No TENts required to have an inTENsly good time!

Monday, March 20, 2017

4 & 4k: A Gratitude Journal for 10 Minute Novelists

I Get By... With A Little Help

A few months ago, I came across a very interesting site... service... thing. At the time it struck me as very Renaissance. In those days (and before and after) there were individuals and families who would support artists. Now it was MUCH more complex than that, but the concept of Patrons continues to this day.

Now I have a confession to make. I am little passionate about certain YouTube channels. When one of the YouTubers (I am still not trying to think of potatoes every time I hear that) quietly mentioned that if we liked what he was doing, we could support him.

Fast forward several weeks, when another of my favourite creators again quietly asked for support through something called Patreon. (I betcha see where I am going with this.)

Writing a novel a labour of love with a view to eventual remuneration. Most authors do eventually want to sell their book(s), so the work put into the writing, editing, cover design, and marketing is really a kid of investment. It's a risk, but one the author takes on willingly.

Creating quality content for a website or a Facebook group also takes time. Time to research, create, edit, post, react, and repeat. Again, often this is also a labour of love.

We hear a lot about wealthy individuals being 'Patrons of the Arts.' Even today. Watch any PBS special and you'll a list of the donors and their foundations who helped to support what you are about to see. And there is that line at the end of the list of Patrons... "and by viewers like you."

So.... Patreon. If you like what this group is doing, if it is helping you, there is something you can do. Pick up the book that is the core of all of this. (This isn't the first time I have said this) And there is something else you can do as well. Head over to Patreon (and again Google) and look up 10 Minute Novelist. It's worth a cup of coffee.

Before we get back to our regularly scheduled program, we have time for another Drabble. This one is sponsored by Joanna Melfka Maciejewska,

Not Just Any Group

Just another Facebook group—could it be any different? Yet, I kept coming back to it, drawn by its unique atmosphere. I participated in discussions, shared what little I knew, and helped when I could, while I learned about writing from other members. I even signed up with the 365 Writing Club… Before I realized, I was writing every day.

It was time to give back some of what I received, so when Katharine asked me to join the Admin team, I didn’t hesitate. If she could find those 10 minutes for others in her busy life, so could I.

(Joanna writes speculative fiction (fantasy & sci-fi), and has so far been published in her native language, Polish, though she writes in English too.)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

4 & 4k: A Gratitude Journal for 10 Minute Novelists

The More You Look, The More You See

Fast or slow, Facebook and Twitter are fluid. Miss a day, and the posts have been buried in the latest share or comments. Even if you do remember which post you were interested in, the search engines are problematic and imprecise.

So it is good to know that there are some places that don't really change. Head on over to the 10minutenovelists website (remember, Google is your friend). That is where you will find a host of articles covering a variety of writerly topics.

There is a new a post every single day of the week. You read that right. Every weekday. Topics range from Creativity to Craft, from Community to Writing Prompts, and my favourite, Beautiful Words.

Thursdays are usually where you will find Guest Posts. These are chance to hear some of the greats and the up and coming in the writer's craft. Since January, the Friday posts have been reserved for the Drabble competition. Go. Go now and read some of the most creative takes on three phrases and one hundred words. I am always amazed at the breadth of the approach of these.

And that is only on the FIRST PAGE! There is a wealth of information and encouragement here. There is the ubiquitous author's page, of course, plus the links to her craft book (Write and Novel in 10 Minutes a Day) and two (and counting) fiction books.

But the Jewel in the Crown is a short page entitled "Want to Write a Novel? Start HERE!" This page gives it all away. Here is the 10-step approach (note that I didn't say easy) that tells you how to do it. This is the core of her craft book and the core of the whole concept. Beware though, because you are going to be pulled and stretched, and a lot of bad habits will likely be broken. Enter if you dare (to become the best writer you can be.)

Take a few minutes and sign up for the feed, and get to know the site that Writer's Digest labelled as on of the top 101 Writing Sites of 2016!

Rounding out today is a Drabble by Christine Hennebury (who has a pretty awesome website of her own. Again, Google is your friend):

We met on Twitter, Katharine and I.
Two dangerous dames, both deadly with a timer.
It could have been an epic battle of words but, instead, we became allies of wit and word. I joined the legion of 10 Minute Novelists and now I stand atop the two million words I have written and shout her praises.
‘All Hail Katharine Grubb, the Duchess of Determination! Long may she reign.’
Katharine has not just created a Facebook group, she has created a space where anyone can see that 10 minutes is enough when you believe in the power of your words.

(Christine Hennebury lives in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, she's a thinker of things and a maker-up of stuff who likes helping everyone be more creative.)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Remembering Echoes

Places I’ve lived

My early life was a whirlwind of change, constant moving. I have memory issues to start with, so this exercise will be interesting.

Vague memories are the only place I start. First there is the restaurant that my father owned. I remember very little about it, and I am not sure which memories are real. I remember a pull out couch where we slept four or five kids. It was dark, dusty and paradoxically smelled of mold. It was a sad place, full of anger and confusion.

I have some photos which show me and my brothers at various places for Christmas, and they were mostly at my Grandparent's home. Bright sunlight, matching shirts and squinting for the photos. But those are memories of the photos. Memories of memories perhaps.

The next snapshot is a brief one. Nighttime, driving back to my mother's apartment, my dad telling me that we will be fine and that he is going to buy her a car of her own. I don't think he ever did. I don't even remember the inside of that place, but I know I was at least 10 because that is when they split up.

Then there is Cummings Ave. I remember a corner lot, hot sun baking the bricks and the dry grass cracking under my steps. My step-father lived with us here. I think this is the last place I remember seeing my dad.

Then the memories come more clearly into focus. We moved to Kemptville. I must have been 11 or 12. It was a good home, with a pool we dug ourselves and a basement with a gameroom/teen den. It is where I grew up, where I found myself again, where I made myself into something new. This was the chrysalis for me, walking to school and making friends of the neighbours, friends I still keep in touch with to this day.

This is where I brought my fiancé home to meet my family. More about Kemptville tomorrow.

4 & 4k: A Gratitude Journal for 10 Minute Novelists

I'm Typing as Fast as I Can! 

Being part of a Facebook group is a lot like wandering through a set of billboards where people post things for others to read and comment on at their leisure. It is, despite the number of members, a somewhat relaxing process were you browse, peruse and otherwise stroll about the garden looking at the greenery and commenting from time to time on a particularly spectacular hydrangea. It's all very civilized.

If your looking for a little more 'action,' and a slightly more frenetic pace, you should join us in one of our 10 Minute Novelist chat sessions.

The comments and questions fly fast and furiously (apologizes to Vin) and you had better have your boots on.

Katharine hosts a topically focused Facebook Chat event every Monday. It lasts just one hour and it is reputed to be a VERY good time. Questions and answers are posted and responded to in real time. Pull out your scrolling mouse 'cause you're going to need it.

Tuesday evening is set aside for a virtual Dunkin' Donuts write in. If your have a Work In Progress, then cuddle up with a coffee and a keyboard and get some words out in the company of good friends and virtual snacks. (Note: Virtual caffeine may or may not keep you awake. We make no promises...)

If you're a bit of a night owl, then head over to Twitter on Thursday nights for a change of (very fast) pace (#10MinNovelists). It is a challenge to keep your responses to 140 characters. Best brush up on your #hashtagging if you want to stay on top of this convo.

Round out your week with a lazy Sunday afternoon Chat. We're usually working through a writing craft book, answering open questions and sharing our take and experiences as writers in training. I personally guarantee that you will learn something every single time.

And last but not least, the format of the group (no links or personal promotion except as designated) has created an interesting work around. The Private Message (PM) has become the communication method of choice for any direct contact with other members. This is how you make friends! Start a chat, make a friend. It's just that easy.

I think this is one of the group's most exciting features, this the way to have conversations, not just reactions. You should join us, we all need new friends!

So whether you wander, walk or race, there's a place for you here.

Before signing off, let's have another delightful Drabble with our tea, shall we? This little crumpet is brought to us by the Lady Sara Marschand...

When I first met Katherine, she was hosting a chat with KM Weiland. I’d only had the notion of writing, but I joined as member six-hundred-something because of everything I learned in one hour. Over the past couple years, I’ve made writer friends at chats and work buddies through 365. In here, this safe space, I feel like I can do this author thing.  A few shorts and flash have been published and, someday, my novel in progress. The connections here have changed my life’s direction, so I definitely have 10 minutes to thank the woman who made it possible. 

"Sara writes science fiction and fantasy when not wrangling kids." 

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Digital Pensieve

"Of course you can't have it all! Where would you put it?"

So storing my idea has been something that I have been conscious of for a very long time. I have short term memory issues that make it difficult for me to remember anything but the present moment, so I learned very early on that getting a storage system together was going save me a lot of embarrassment.,

Habit is a strong second to that, especially the habit of putting things in my storage places. I have been chasing organizational systems for decades, building and adapting them to suit my needs. Nothing ever sticks though, not permanently. So what is a writer to do?

Introducing Google Drive.

I have had a series of voice recorders, and I though I have tried other ways of capturing my thoughts, that is the one I keep falling back on. It is simple and effective and can store my thoughts pretty much indefinitely.

I basically just start the recording with a reference to what it's going to be about. If it is a note or a task, I start by saying Note. If it is part of a book or series, I will start with the name of the book and then recording my ideas.

When it comes time to sort and store them, I just listen to the first few seconds to figure out what it is, then rename it, usually retaining the date and time to keep them organized and to watch the development of ideas.

The I drag the voice files into their respective folders on Google Drive, This means that at any given moment, the are stories with several voice notes just waiting to be heard. I have close to a hundred story ideas. Not all of them will be written of course (no one has that kind of time) but at least they are out off my head and waiting rather that bugging me with thoughts that I should try to remember but ultimately don't.

What does this have to do with the chapter? Well, I have set up set of folders under my WIP main folder on Google Drive, which I will use to store the physical/digital results of my work through the workbook.

This blog will start using the appropriate tags to chorale the posts that all relate to the same subject, but they will be more about my impressions and feeling about the exercise rather than the content.

It's another system. I hope I can stick to it.

4 & 4k: A Gratitude Journal for 10 Minute Novelists

A Room of Their Own

With 5349 members (as of this writing) it can be a little hard to find folks who share a specific common interest in the 10 Minuters group. While the organization of topics by days certainly helps to create focus in the main group, sometimes you want to go "where everybody knows your name..." (If you don't get the reference, it is another indication of just how old I am getting!)

Welcome to the 10 Minute Novelists Groups. They are spin off groups that have been created to allow members to specialize in a specific area of interest so as to not flood the general conversation with non-general posts. By and large though, they are all built around the same code of conduct as the main group, so tucking away into a group is not going to let someone circumvent the rules.

As a writer, are you worried about how sedentary you are? Look no further than Christine Hennebury's Moving Write Along, A subgroup of 10 Minute Novelists. Christine and the other awesome admins are always ready with a Star and encouragement to get up and celebrate your health with movement. This small group (60 members) is warm and welcoming and completely low pressure!

Thinking of your next big novel in the NaNoWriMo verse? Check out Jessica White's NaNo for 10 Minute Novelists subgroup. We are just gearing up for Camp NaNoWriMo and starting to set up cabins! 160 members strong, this is the place to chat about the trials and triumphs of working under an insane deadline, 10 Minutes at a time! The group is only open around the NaNo Events (April, July and November) to keep the content focused, so the time to join up is NOW!

Finally (as if she isn't busy enough) Jessica is also heading up the 365 Writing Group. It is for ultra dedicated writers who want/need/crave that push and accountability to write, every... single.. day...! It is only open for entry in Novembers so that folks can get organized. Jess did let me have a peek at the rules though: "Each participant will select a daily goal and will enter their daily word count into an online spreadsheet. There will be daily encouragement, sprinting opportunities, challenge events, monthly motivational chats, and awesome badges to earn." I have it on good authority that "the 365 group is the best possible thing you can do for your writing." I, for one, cannot wait until next November.

I am sure that as more special focuses start to emerge, there will be places made for those people too at the invisible snack table of love! (If you guys could see HALF of the stuff the Admins do to support and encourage each other, your hearts would melt!)

Now before I tear up (again), time for today's Drabble by Sandy Stuckless!

It started with a chat. Not over coffee or a scone. Not a drink at the bar. It started on Twitter of all places. Picture this: Thursday night, manuscript going nowhere and my usual nap not cutting it. I had ten minutes to kill so I said let’s see what kind of trouble I can get into on social media. Then I found it. The hashtag that changed my writing. I met this sweet lady named Katharine, so full of confidence and compassion, who welcomed me with open arms That was over a year ago. I haven’t looked back since.

(Sandy Stuckless writes in fantasy, sci-fi, and a little paranormal. He enjoys outdoorsy stuff like camping, hiking, and throwing snowballs at his kids.)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Place for My Mind

Plan where you will write*

Work to find a space. Spend at least ten minutes preparing this space, getting everything you need – good lighting, comfort if possible, few distractions, reliable hardware and software and privacy. Get all your supplies together. Create your space and use it.

Today's question is all about WHERE to write. I suppose time and space ARE interconnected, so where and when are just as important as each other. I hope we get to what fairly soon.

The when of my writing has been an interesting question for a while. I have created various 'places' to write over the years. The one that stands out to me was when I created an office with decor and comfy seat and everything. I don't remember writing a word in there. I have tried the variation on that theme several times., usually to no avail. No writing gets done in offices reserved for the purpose.

I wrote I should Have Listened to my cat over 50 days on a TV table in my living room. Fifty days, on a TV table. The time varied a bit, sometime in the evenings, but always whenever I could pull it off, I would write in the morning after 5 am. Always on that TV table.

No, I don't even have a TV table. Instead, I have a kitchen table, a step stool in the den, and I am typing this at the desk we have set up in the dining living room area. It is a nice desk, looking all professional and stuff, and this is literally the first time I have written on it.

In addition, I am writing on my 'new' Dana by AlphaSmart. It is a $25 tool that is basically a rechargeable keyboard, and that is pretty much all it is. It has a nice big screen, and an SD card memory and best of all, it is so light and portable. It is completely distraction free. I don't even bother with proper spelling most of the time, favouring speed and content over format and precision. This allows for a more stream of consciousness type of experience,

So what does this mean for the future? Well, once April comes around, Pam will likely be using this desk for her university courses and I will be back to the table. That is not so bad however because the height is about the same. I may need to steal an extra cushion from another chair though because those things get hard to sit on after a while.

Still, I have the tools I need to get the job done. Now it is just about doing the job. I have an outline to create (in 10 minute chucks), this blog to keep up as I answer the questions in Katharine's book, and a side project I have taken on giving an extended shout out to the 10Min group!

*From Chapter 3 - Creating your space

4 & 4k: A Gratitude Journal for 10 Minute Novelists

Everything in Its Time

One of the most important factors in running a large Facebook group is the control of the flow of information. When everyone is talking about everything, then no one is listening.

So it was with a great deal of surprise that my arrival to the group was not greeted with a fanfare and a parade! OK maybe not THAT great a surprise, but instead I got a quiet hello from several very kind people, including Katharine.

Then came the news that I was member 4000! Well that was more like it. Fanfare, trumpets, monkeys and ticker-tape... but again, not for me. It was all directed at Katharine, to her group. There was a LOT of love here, and it seemed to be directed mostly by the membership. They were clearly in love with the place, and with the people who made it what it was (that hasn't changed, BTW).

Monday rolled around and BOOM! "HELLO EVERYBODY! TODAY IS NEW MEMBER SHOUT OUT DAY!" All new members were encouraged to comment and share a little about themselves (no links please), and pats on the back and encouragement abounded! There was a BADGE that you could download to show your 10Min pride!

Here is the difference though. This group, this family, wasn't interested in stroking egos or being sold your book/blog/cure for the common cold. They wanted to know about YOU! To support YOU! So no Self-Promotion (there's a time and a place for that), No Provocations (trolls are quickly and efficiently fed to the Delete Machine) No Profanity (I received a gentle suggestion to avoid the word D*mn, which I was happy to edit out).

There's a list of rules, and if you break them, we will good naturedly point and laugh and suggest you have a look at them. Break them again and we will have a serious chat, or something a little more final. There is not a 'three strikes rule.' This isn't a baseball game. This is a family, and as a family, no matter how much they disagree about the Oxford Comma of Self over Trad publishing, if you hurt one of their own, the wagons are circled and the Admins kick into high gear. Everyone is safe, or no one is.

Then there was the schedule. Schedule? On a Facebook Group? Yup. I don't know if it came from her homeschooling experiences or just being a mom of 5 kids, but Katharine had the whole crew and all of the posts organized into slots, keeping the chaos down to a manageable murmur.

Mondays are New Member Shout Out Day and Blogs Day (links welcome)

Tuesdays is Top Ten Day (You are welcome to contribute your lists of things) and Buddy day (shout out for help with your project)

Wednesday is #Author Happiness - responding to the post is your chance to blast out your message, your book, project, website, pictures of your cats. LINKS WELCOME (but only on the post)

I haven't even begun to talk about the live chats.

What is the net effect? Content is kept focused. People post, and respond, with genuine questions, tips, wow moments. And the family stays strong and focused as it grows.

I will wrap up with today's Drabble by Sheri (Blog Day) Williams
What Katharine did for me: a drabble
Katharine found me when I had literally just decided I was a writer. She brought me to her fold, her brand new group, and she made me family. Three and a half years later, I am still writing in ten minute increments. I am an admin of the best fb group ever. And I am still a writer.  My publishing journey has not been smooth, but Katharine and 10MinNovelists have always been there to help me through. I honestly would not be where I am today without them. 
(Sheri Williams writes a bit of everything. She was the first Admin to be added by Katherine almost three years ago.)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Decanting Time

Planning and Purpose*

Time is all we have that is ever truly ours, and it is the one thing that we spend without care or consequence. So this post is especially focused on the idea of how i am choosing to spend the precious little moments that are strung together.

I sit at my dining room table as I write this. It is about 930 in the evening, the chores are all done and Pam and I have sat together and talked and watched a few favourite shows. As she sits here with me, completing her daily journal, I take a moment to just jot down some thoughts about time.

While we are not retired (that is still 20 or so years away) we are independent. No children at home, and one cat who pretty much takes care of himself. There are the basic chores to do, and some cooking, but the rest is pretty routine and accomplished pretty quickly.

Ten minutes? Sure I have got ten minutes. I have got HOURS! But do I write during those hours? Not until recently. I am counting these blog posts as writing, but eventually, I see the exercises from the 10 Minutes Novelists leading to more writing of my actual project.

Pam and I recently (yesterday) actually had a conversation about the fact that I WANT to write the sequel. We've agreed that April, during Camp Nanowrimo, I will be writing while she keeps working on her degree. It is going to be an interesting time. Not because it will be difficult, but because it will be different.

Next up, I need to take some time to outline my novel. It doesn't have to be much of an outline, just a beginning, an ending, and some spots in between. I think I am going to forgo alpha readers this time though. I want to write for me. So there it is. Time. I have it, it is just about how I choose to spend it. No negotiations, no real planning required.

I still make time for the most important things however. Date nights, at least once a week. Time visiting or playing games with the kids. Overtime for work to keep the axe sharp. All of that is doable. More that doable, it is required. But it doesn't mean that I am taking up all of my time doing them. There is always a little left over.

It is the time in between times that is the most precious though. The time when my creative brain is occupied with driving or walking or just sitting there. It is during those time that my story grows, but only if I am thinking about the story in the first place. So the time is now to start thinking about the sequel. Now.

"As we made our approach to Paradise Station, Darwin kept his usual keen sense trained on every moment and maneuver of the shuttle. Usual for Darwin meant that he was actively napping in the seat next to me. If you don't know what I mean by actively napping, you haven't spent nearly enough time around a cat. It means that the cat is watchful, wary, sensitive to all movement and changes, while remaining curled up comfortably. Just watch the alertness in your cat's eye the next time they open it to track your every move. Some people find it unnerving. Given Darwin's size, I really don't blame them."

*This post is a response to all of the planning and time management questions in Chapter 2.

4 & 4k: A Gratitude Journal for 10 Minute Novelists

The Will To Write Again

On January 14, 2017, I stumbled across a Facebook group. I have been part of several, and have created a few in my time. There was usually something going on politically or personality-wise that would sour it sooner or later.

Now I have been writing since my age started with a 1, so it was in my blood. That was a given. I had even written a novel! But still I was looking for... something. I have been reading about writing for a long time. What I needed was support, not training. I had more of that than I could consume in a lifetime.

The next 10 days are devoted to my exploration of this group and what they have done to make me a better writer. I am going to introduce all of you to the 10 Minute Novelist movement, based around Katharine Grubb's book "Write a Novel in Ten Minutes a Day." She is the head of the group and still very active in it. She has set the tone, the rules and the spirit of the group. And she has gathered around her a team of dedicated admins and now over 5000 members (and growing!)

The title of this series of posts is taken from the fact that March 14th marks the 4th year since the 10 Minute Project kicked into high gear with a contract to create the book. The group was created a short time later. On January 14th, I was the 4000th member to join, and the warmth and support I received from Day 1 made me a believer. This entire blog is a testament to the power of a group made up of quality people, dedicated to support over sales. These blog posts are written using the 10 minute method, and a little bit of judicious editing afterwards.

As part of this project, I have approached a selection of the members and admins to get some ideas of what the group means to them. A word about the format: Katharine initiated a Drabble competition on her website, where she offers three words or phrases and challenges her writers to create a 100 word flash fiction that uses them in a creative way. In that frame, each post will feature a Drabble including the words Katharine, Ten and Minutes.

Ian McAllister:
"An Oklahoma accent, plus an intense gaze. Katharine radiates competence, although she would tell you otherwise. She spent a day in Miami meeting two of her Facebook group; they had been guinea pigs for her book ‘Write A Novel In Ten Minutes A Day.’
I joined the trio for dinner in the evening. Once loosened up with a mojito (or two) they visibly relaxed a bit and we got to know each other a bit better.  
I was already in the group, and the meeting eventually led to my being invited to join the Administration team. The rest is history."

(Retired out of UK Air Traffic Control, Ian was the 5th Admin to join 10MN, back in January 2015.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ungratefully Gifted

Your strengths and supports*

How do you feel about this exercise? Was it hard to face this or was it encouraging?

This series of questions wasn't all that difficult for me. Some of these were questions I had been considering for a while, and for the others, let's face it, I lead a pretty charmed life.

I think the biggest revelation for me was that I am, essentially, ungrateful in my writing habit. I have everything a person could reasonably wish for: a supporting wife, a job that more than pays the bills and still leaves me some leisure time, ideas for stories that I will seriously never write (because I have documented over a hundred ideas already) and a small be dedicated fan base who are waiting eagerly and patiently for the next novel.

The Finder Universe alone could occupy the next decade of my life with the 7 novels and dozens of backstories. I have a design for the website in mind, and even an editor lined up to take my first novel up. So what is stopping me?

Doubt. Unfounded doubt.

  • Can I do it again? (and how many times and I going to require proof that I CAN do it before I believe it)
  • Will anyone like it? (obviously, because they already do)
  • What if no one will publish me? (markets are fickle, so are people, but I can self-pulish easily enough.)
See? Completely unfounded. So what is it, really?

Lethargy? Laziness? Lack of will power?

Maybe a little of all of the above. But, and here is the thing, I AM writing. I am writing THIS! Most of it is stream of conciousness, not a lot of planning. I am writing. It isn't my story, not yet, but that is why I am working through and sticking with this book (10 Minute Novelist) and this blog. Because as long as I KEEP writing, I will be eventually ready to change tracks and get back to my books, to my stories in the Finder Universe and back to Darwin & Joshua to finish telling their story.

* From Part 1 - Chapter 1 - Envisioning and Planning

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Masks that Wear Me

Your strengths and supports*

What encouraging things have you been told about your character, your skills, your dreams and your goals?

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

My character are me, of course they are. I mean, they don't spring fully armed from my mind, but they are recognizable. Sometimes, they are my darker side, or my weaker self. But they are just me. And of course, they are the parts of other people that are me as well.

So it is with some gratification that my readers (such as they are) have fallen in love with my characters. So in a way, they have fallen in love with a little bit of me as well.

I love it when readers laugh where I said something funny, or when the choke up a little at something that brought a tear as I wrote it. They are shocked when the twists come, They are demanding for more when the end comes. They say that writers only write for themselves, but really, they write for the connections their readers make with them.

And their friends are their characters. I understand why writers say that their characters behave in unpredictable ways. Because, in essence, they are playing roles through their characters that they could never in reality, and so wear the masks of Saturnalia to disguise their deeds.

My friends (the one's with physical bodies) love that I am writing, They love what I am writing. They want me to keep writing, to keep adding to the stories. They have been waiting patiently for the sequel to my first novel. Oh so patiently.

But my muses have gone silent. They are standing in from of my mind's eye, insisting I explore some deeper part of my own psyche, asking the questions that all of want answered.

Do I matter? What does it mean? Is there a beneficent power guiding the universe with a gentle hand? Are we really alone? Do good and bad really exist?

And perhaps, when I have time to think about these questions again, perhaps then I will pick up my quill and etch out a few more musings...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Surrounded and Supported

Your strengths and supports*

Who in your life is on your side, cheering you on?

"No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main..."
This question is probably the easiest to answer and the hardest to honour. First and foremost in all things, of course, is Pamela. She had been my rock for thirty years and it is a testament to her strength that, regardless of which direction I turn, she is right there beside me.

She loves my chargers as much as I do. She asks me to tell her my story ideas so that they aren't forgotten. She reminds me, supports me, encourages me, corrects my drafts. She is my Alpha reader and my Omega reader.

Next up are a selection of my Betas. They are enthusiastic and engaged. It's because of one of my betas that my novel had become the first in a series.

My kids support my writing, thought my genre is not always to their taste. They love that I am doing this.

Finally there is my writing group at 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook. Katharine Grubb had created a great area for folks to learn and learn on each other. The group also let's me interact with some great authors. All in all, I am well supported. So why, since I am "surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses," why am I not writing?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The molecular pattern that is me

Your strengths and supports*

What are your strengths? Write down as many as you possibly can.

Self aggrandizement is foreign to me, so this topic is especially tricky. It's not that I lack self-confidence, I've got plenty of that. It's just that I'm not used to trumpeting them around. It smacks of arrogance.

Nevertheless, one does as one must.

I am a good synthesizer, and communicator. I also have a broad knowledge base, and I'm pretty good at inferring and extrapolating. Finally, despite my avowed sense of detachment, I am surprisingly empathetic, and no one is more caught off guard when I am emotionally moved than I am.
All of these​ combine to make me a natural teacher, and I really hope that these skills can translate into making me a good writer as well.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Brightness of Ink

Overcoming Resistance*

This exercise, this facing the darkness, is possibly one of the most challenging in the book. When you think of the darkness, that powerful resistance that is holding you back from pursuing your writing dreams, who or what is the source of it? What specific things does this darkness say to you?

If I am to be honest, and the frame of this exercise demands at least that, the biggest question I have is one that echoes through all the hollow halls of my mind. What is the point? When I am dead and dust, what will be the point of my book? When those who knew and loved me are as gone and forgotten, what of it then?

And why even look that far out? How many amazing authors' book languish tattered and torn in a dank basement or spider webbed attic or looking for second hand love in a second hand store? Even current authors, those whose works I am reading today. What of their oeuvre, the one they are still completing? Aren't their backlists just as quickly forgotten?

Perhaps I want too much. Perhaps, in my secret heart I want to cry out "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;  Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!" as my monuments languish in remote desert sands, my empire forgotten.

So what is to be the point of it then, if my books are rejected, my words are as air, my heart rendered for all to read in the brightest ink, all to be eventually swallowed by inevitable darkness.

But I do not live in tomorrow. Nor will I ever. Nor will any of us. I live only today, in the now. And the pleasure, the insight, the teaching and learning that I do now is all that really matters. The hearts I touch are the hearts of today. "I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." So be it.

My light, my life, the good that I do is in all of the ways in which I touch others. And so it is with a lighter heart and a clearer mind that I venture forth, my sword in my pen, my shield the wall of words I use to defend and protect, my characters the simulacrum of the reader, the poppet that will suffer and sweat in their stead so that we can learn the lessons of life together from the pain and pleasure of a ink-made phantom.

So what if he dies on the page, and the page he dies on turn to dust? If he has served his readers well, and taught them all he knows, then he has served his purpose and can die with all the dignity due in the facts of fiction. He has died, that we might live more broadly, more deeply and more fully. And we have lived more of the only life we have, our life of now.

* From Part 1 - Chapter 1 - Envisioning and Planning

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Trouble with Typical

Look at your typical day*

Do you have a set time daily to put in at least ten minutes? Can you have more than one ten-minute session a day?

What the heck is a typical day?
  • Get up at 5 (ish), wake up/breakfast/walk the dog/get ready/no really get ready!/pack the lunches/grab coffee to go/check the weather/damn, still getting ready!/Off we go!
  • Get to work aroun 8 (ish) and get ready/set up the classroom/catch up on email/answer questions/start teaching
  • Break at 10:30 (ish) check email for fires/answer student questions/prep for after break
  • Lunch at 12 (ish - you get the idea, it's all 'ish')  check email again/respond to other work requests/meet with coworkers for lunch (important bonding/connecting)
  • Break at 2:30 (ish) check email for fires/answer student questions/prep for after break
  • Wrap up at 4 - clean up classroom/prep for next day....

I am tired just writing it. But it isn't unusual. So how am I writing this? At lunch, before grabbing food, before heading into the lunch-room. Alone in the classroom, taking 10 minutes for me to write this post.

That is the secret. Time for me. And my time is precious. It is irreplaceable. Which it why I spend as much of it with Pam as I physically, digitally, realistically can. Thirty-one years of marriage and I still can't spend enough time with her.

Writing is a distant 2nd. But it is 2nd, which means that times like these, when I simply can't spend my time with her, are the times I have to write. Right now, it is once a day. Once the dog has moved on (going back to my daughter), we may have more flexibility, and more flexibility means possibly more 10 minute gaps into which I can wedge more writing.

As for learning about the craft, that is what I use audio books for while in the car or on the treadmill. And for writerly thoughts, the voice-recorder allows me to capture inspiration anytime, anywhere. But writing? Once a day is all I can manage just yet, and I am devoting that time to 'sharpening the saw.' The writing will come soon enough.

* From Part 1 - Chapter 1 - Envisioning and Planning

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Gold and Kryptonite

Your favourite books*

List your favourite books. Which genres are the most represented? Would you like to write in this genre? Why or why not?

Following hot on the heels of yesterday's blog, we move from authors to books. Surprisingly, the two lists don't completely overlap. Not every book written by the authors I listed is on my list. Each of them has something that didn't resonate with me.

Of course, you have your standards: Foundation Trilogy, the Belgariad, the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. But not all that glitters is gold. The Lensman series by Doc Smith underlies a lot of my sensibilities for good old sci-fi.

Some books have impacted me in an uncomfortable way. Babel 17  by ... was a difficult read, but strangely the story has stayed with me. Dune, of course, for the depth of detail and richness of its worlds and people. I can't say I've liked much else from the Herbert (father or son) oeuvre.

Other books facsinate me. The Maltese Falcon is captivating in its story telling techniques. Classics like Moby Dick, the Iliad and the Odyssey, and especially the Epic of Gilgamesh have profoundly connected me to the past of literrature.

But there is one book that sits right smack dab in the middle of my genre. The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez was almost exactly the kind of book I wanted to write. But it is a case of liking the book, the author not so much. The book ends with the main character setting up a detective agency with his friends. And that... is... it. The author 'doesn't do sequels.' His choice, I guess, and I suppose he wont miss a single reader who isn't really interested in his other stuff if that is his approach. It just seems weird to me that the author/reader relationship seems to be very one sided. It's not what I want for my readers.

There are books that have infuriated me (The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Updraft (Bone Universe, #1)), others which have confused me (The Three Body Problem, Ancillary Sword etc.) and some which I simply refuse to finish (Hyperion, Snow Crash, Neuromancer).

Books are my kryptonite.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

On the Shoulders of Giants

Your favourite authors*

List your favourite authors, the ones to whom you’d like to be favourably compared. Why do you like them so much? Why would this comparison be important to you?

My earliest memory of reading (and I readily confess to the faultiness of my memory) is of Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy. In a way, I can say that it solidified my picture of what good sci-fi should be, and everything after that is compared to him.

His Robot series though, especially the Daneel Olivaw books, are what introduced me to fusion. Detectives AND robots! And the walls of Jericho came crashing down. The concept of genre was forever changed. Oh, I still loved my sci-fi, but now I saw it for what it was, the stage on which the play was performed, not the form of the play itself.

This freed me to dislike some 'sci-fi' authors who, though lauded far and wide, really did nothing for me. So my favourites are from many corners of the litterary-verse, with a kindly Isaac overseening them all.

Under mystery, Rex Stout, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler lead the pack. Science fiction sees the inclusion of Ray Bradbury, E.E. (Doc) Smith, and Alfred Bester. Fantasy houses others, including David Eddings, Anne McAffrey and Madeleine L'Engle.

To my mind, these authors (and many others) tend to focus on one type of story. Character driven and focused, their stories take me through various scenarios, fictional and fantastic, to demonstrate the best in humanity. Even though we are sometimes frail, and thus fail to reach our best potential, the characters are at least reaching up, hopeful, striving to be more of what they can be, and less of what they are.

There are authors who have also left me cold, who's ideas are of twists and turns, and twisted and turned characters who don't show the best, but celebrate the worst or worse, the apathetic, in humanity. They are found in much of the most recent award winning science fiction. To echo a song I once heard, "I am so tired of terrible people being admired for being terrible people."

Perhaps it is a mark of my philosophy, that we have more potential in us than we can ever realize in this lifetime, but that we should strive to get as close as we can. And I firmly believe that our characters should lead the way. And the authors that create them are, in fact, helping us all to explore what is best in each of us. That is the kind of author I aspire to become.

* From Part 1 - Chapter 1 - Envisioning and Planning

Monday, March 6, 2017

Novel Visions

Envision your novel*

Picture yourself at a bookstore signing. Hundreds of people are there to meet you, buy your book and get a signed copy. You’re being photographed. You’re getting handshakes. Some readers are potentially star-struck...

Wow. What a day. I am not ashamed to say that I am exhausted. Of course, I am also thrilled, elated, and grab your thesaurus for the rest. My first real book-signing after publication!

"Leave a Message With My Cat" has apparently struck a nerve. There were hundreds of people there! It was good for me that Pam was there the whole time, acting as gatekeeper. She's my rock. My editor also swung by long enough to cast an 'I told you so' look in my direction before melting back into the crowd.

I think the real draw was Dickens, but who doesn't love a huge black cat! I had to work with the store a little to ensure them that he would behave, but as one of the inspirations for Darwin, there was no way I was going to leave him behind.

There were a few scheduled readings throughout the day. I selected a range of passages from the novel: the exciting bit when Joshua is racing to save the kid/clone, Fred and Alice's heartbreak when they heard about the death of their daughter, and Chantier's revelation that her findings proved that the explosion was not an accident.

One of the funniest, and to me most important, comments by an attendee was how much she loved the book even though it was science-fiction. I took it as a side-ways compliment. Folks were equally excited to hear that Message was actually the second in a seven book series. The store was cleared out of both "I Should Have Listened to My Cat" and "Leave a Message With My Cat" by lunch time, and we were getting other copies delivered from stores around the city.

It was the kids that got me though. I know I had written the books to appeal to a broad audience, keeping the adult content out, making sure that the violence was real but not gory. I had no idea that this would net me a whole who of Cat loving kids! That fact alone inspires me to get the YA spinoff series started.

Ok, I am getting too tired to write now. Got to wrap up. My hand is cramped, the big banner has been furled and the few remaining books packed away. We collected over three-hundred dollars for the Black-Cat Rescue charity and the local shelters. All in all, a good day. I think I will sleep for a week.

* From Part 1 - Chapter 1 - Envisioning and Planning

Sunday, March 5, 2017

What do you think about writing in 10-minute increments?

Thinking about writing*

2. What do you think about writing in ten -minute increments? Do you think you can accomplish it? What do you think of the little bit that you've written so far?

I know it can be done, because I have done it. These little exercises are proof-positive of that fact. The challenge however will be the integration of all of these small pieces into the structure of a larger cohesive story, with all of the necessary beats, character arcs and foreshadowing.

Another challenge is that the 10 minutes are never actually empty. We rarely see 10 minute moments in which we sit idly staring at the walls. There is always more to do than there is time to do it. Someone, somewhere in the house, is doing something that they are fully engaged in, and that time and space inevitably overlaps with yours. That is the challenge. It is really a question of priorities.

Most of us have no free time, just otherwise occupied time. We have filled out time with working moments, relaxing moments, together with loved one moments, leisure moments. Sleeping and eating and bathing moments. There are no empty moments. You can do anything for 10 minutes, but can you find in your day 10 consecutive, uninterrupted or unallocated minutes? Where is this 10 minutes supposed to come from? It is a question of inclusion, rather than exclusion. Bring the chaos of other people in, let them know what you are doing and how it is part of you. Then watch how they fall over each other to give you the time.

The problem might be one of location, not duration.

Can you find a place where you can both spend 10 isolated minutes and have your writing tools nearby? The romance of writing long hand might works for some, but my writing is horrendous, and more importantly, slow. The real beauty of typing is not only legibility, but speed. I can plug my ideas faster, surer and cleaner with finger to keyboard. To that end, I have picked up an Alphasmart Dana, a keyboard/writing tool that is portable and distraction free.

So time, check. Space, check! Content? This bring us full circle. If the goal was merely writing, then any old content would do. But it isn't, really. It isn't writing for 10 minutes. It is writing something for 10 minutes. Your novel, short story, article or blog post must have a form, a structure upon which hang all of the little 10 minute bits.

Those 10 minutes bits are like the individual shards of coloured glass that come together to make a stained glass window. They are the threads that are woven, one by one, into a garment. It is the framework that takes a small red triangle of glass and transforms it into the hem of the garment that the woman touched and was miraculously healed. The garment, the glass, the 10 minute bit of text are really nothing on their own. It is the person, the frame, the structure on which they hang that gives them power, that gives them meaning. And those fragments, in turn, give meaning to the greater structure, the finished image, the human face of deity.

And the same holds true for the 10 minutes moments. They aren't intended to break the pattern of our lives, nor to shatter our routines by introducing unwelcome wedges into an already overloaded day. The flow of our activities, the planned chaos that is our daily round, is not interrupted by our writing. Rather, the bursts of creativity, concentrated and focused through these small lenses of text, shine an intense light on our other daily activities, on the other facets of our existence. And they are, in their own turn, framed and protected by the activities that give our lives meaning, purpose, direction.

And as for the framework of the story, well, that is writing too. And it is another blog post.


* From the Introduction

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I want to be a writer because...

Thinking about writing*

1. Finish this sentence: 'I want to be a writer because...'

There are stories in my head. Who am I kidding? There are whole universes in my head, all wonderfully interconnected with my life and each other! It is actually part of who I am, this storytelling thing.

I've been going though some old paperwork lately and I keep finding snippets of stories. Apparently, and this is a surprise to me because my memory is so bad, I have been writing since I was a teenager.

It is interesting that there are things in us that stay true, no matter how much our outer circumstances change. I realize that we do change, especially since we are also always learning, but there are some things, desires perhaps, or maybe it's an inborn talent, or perhaps the culmination of billions of years of unintentional and intentional causes, choices and effect, that stay, that grow and call and wave in the distance when we are busy doing other things. These things are us, deep down, beneath the surface of the veneers we layer over our minds like armour. These things, these stories and the need to tell them, in my case, are part of what takes us out of being in the thick of thin things. They connect us, they connect me, to authenticity. No masks, no games, no prevarications, just me, telling the stories of the universes that are in me, because that is who I am.


* Question from the Introduction