Archive for category: Writing

My Ice Breaker Speech

05 Dec
December 5, 2018

Last week, I gave my Ice Breaker Speech at Toastmasters. It went well enough that I won Best Speaker for the night and garnered a lot of praise and good feedback. So, I thought I would at least share the text:

I’m Just A Writer

Fellow Toastmasters, and honored guests. Before I tell you about me, I’d like to tell you about a friend of mine – Mark. If you saw him on the street, you wouldn’t even notice him. Average height, average build, average face, average brown hair. Behind that plain facade, however, he is a most unusual person. Most of the people who know him say he’s brash and obnoxious. He’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder. You might as well if you were ripped away from one family to a new new family that calls you an abomination. This pushes Mark to be the best there is at what he does. What does he do? He’s an assassin. And he’s a werewolf. No, Mark is not a flesh and blood person, but he’s still very real to me. As real as everyone here. Don’t worry, I’m not crazy, I’m just a writer.

If you ask me what I do, I’ll say “I’m a data analyst.” I love my day job. It’s the perfect mix of routine and complex tasks. Plus, it pays the bills. On the other hand, if you ask me what I am, I’ll tell you – I’m a writer. A storyteller. A spinner of tales. I create fantastic worlds inhabited by amazing people. I tell stories of adventure, action, drama, war, and occasionally romance. Some of my stories are pulpy, some are more grounded in realism, but all are designed to do one thing – entertain. Even if the only person I’m entertaining is myself.

I will say my writing has, shall we say, enhanced some quirks. For example, you shouldn’t worry if you hear me talking to myself. Often, I’m just running dialogue. How else will I know if it sounds natural if I don’t hear the words? I can live with the occasional odd look if my characters sound right. After all, I’m not really hearing voices, I’m just a writer.

My other interests complement and feed my writing. Let’s take history for example. Dan Carlin, often comments on his Hardcore History podcast that if you want to see how humans will react to any situation, look at history. The width and breadth of human civilizations are a fertile ground for any writer looking for inspiration. Want to have an idea of how people will act if aliens invaded? Look at what happened when to the Chinese and Muslim empires when the Mongols burst from the steppe. My interest in armed combat help me frame and write action scenes that are somewhat realistic, even if the setting is fantastic. Then there’s the soundtrack for writing. Some of it’s modern stuff – power metal, rock, and techno, some that date back centuries. So, if you hear me singing something in an archaic or unusual language, I’m not channeling spirits, I’m just a writer.

Can you imagine what’s the first question people ask when I tell them I’m a writer? “What have you published?” Patrick Rothfuss, who actually is a successful writer, said that writing is one of the only hobbies where you’re considered a failure unless you’re a professional. I’ll admit to some fear of rejection, and also of the marketing slog to get my works out there. For now, I’m content to pluck away at my keyboard, working hard to translate the pictures in my head to words on the screen. Sometimes that doesn’t go as smoothly as I’d like. Don’t worry though, it’s a frustration I’ve learned to live with. After all, I’m a writer.

Friday Quote – Larry Corriea

20 Jul
July 20, 2018

If you are serious, and you want to make a living as an author, then you need to hustle. Period. If you can’t make that quality, then you need to concentrate on your craft and practice more.

One other thing, quality comes with practice. If you are prolific, then you become a better writer because you are writing. The more you do anything the better at it you will become. So in a way, quantity does add to quality.

Why Damien Lewis Is a Great Actor

19 Jul
July 19, 2018

This clip is a few years old, but one of the best renditions of Marc Antony’s speech from Shakespeare’s “Julius Ceasar.”

This is why I hate reading Shakespeare’s plays, but I do love watching them.

State of Writing

19 Apr
April 19, 2018

With me being in physical therapy for the last few weeks, my fiction writing has slowed to a bare trickle. Still, I’ve managed to put some words together. It also doesn’t help that I’ve had to completely overhaul one project, and lost a bunch of the original writing in the process.

Still, as of April 2018, here are the current projects I’m working on:

  1. Promise to the Magic Heart – This will be novel-length fantasy series, and probably a trilogy of books. My original idea was to mix the storyline with flashbacks (like Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series), except I’m not that good. So all the flashbacks were yanked for the first book, and then promptly eaten by Scrivener. I think I’ve got some earlier drafts, so I’m not completely screwed, but it’s a setback.

  2. Irregulars 3 – Outlining stage

  3. The Legion – Military sci-fi; not sure if I want to do a series of novels or a series of novellas (like Irregulars). I have the basic story, it’s just a matter of putting keyboard to word processor.

  4. The Clans – Urban fantasy. This is most likely going to be like Irregulars with short novellas combining into a bigger arc.

I’m hoping to get to writing more, but we’ll see if the personal and work lives let me.

And I really should try to actually sell some of this stuff.

State of My Podcasts

07 Mar
March 7, 2018

I’m going to try and do this on an annual basis. Part of it’s my own curiosity at how my podcast habits change. I’m also curious what others think about the same podcasts and which podcasts come and go.

I’m going to list the podcasts into some broad groups, with any annotations about frequency I listen to them or general impressions.

I listen to my podcasts in Overcast. I use four playlists:

  1. Daily – This is a playlist of what I want to listen to during my commutes, work, and other times. Some of the podcasts are put to the top on certain days. Some are “promotable”, which means they go to the top behind that day’s podcasts. The rest are filler, and I’ll get to them when I can.

  2. Writing – I use this as a warm-up for when I’m going to write as well as general knowledge to improve my writing

  3. Roman History – This one has two finished podcast series I’m listening about the history of Rome from its early beginnings to the fall of the Byzantine Empire

  4. History – Self explanatory

My podcasts as of March 2018:

Liberty

Cato Daily Podcast – A good quick bit in various topics from a libertarian viewpoint. This one I use as filler on my “Daily” playlist.

Cato Events Podcast – Recordings of various panels put on by the Cato Institute. I’ve heard a lot of very interesting discussions and arguments. This one I use as filler on my “Daily” playlist. I will delete if the topic doesn’t interest me, as these can be pretty long.

Clear and Present Danger -A History of Free Speech – This is a Friday morning podcast on my “Daily” playlist. Still a little uncertain about this one.

The Good Fight – Formerly “The Liberty Files”, this one is a promotable on my “Daily” playlist. This is one I like using for hearing the conservative side of civil liberty discussions. A bit heavier on the freedom of religion than I’d like, but understandable from the hosts’ perspective.

Reason Podcast – Reason’s weekly podcast with their editors is promotable on my Daily playlist. The others are filler. Some good content and some that just don’t interest me.

Short Circuit – From the Institute of Justice, this one discusses notable cases that IJ is a part of. This is a promotable on my Daily playlist.

So To Speak – FIRE’s podcast discussing free speech issues. This is a Friday morning podcast on my Daily playlist.

Economics

Econtalk – Economist Russ Roberts does great interviews with a wide variety of guests and topics. I’ve been learning a lot. This is a Tuesday morning podcast on my Daily playlist.

GAO Podcast – GAO discussing some of their reviews. This one I use as filler on my “Daily” playlist

History

Hardcore History – Dan Carlin’s storytelling on various topics is spellbinding. This is promotable on my History playlist on the infrequent occasions new podcasts show up.

Hardcore History: Addendum – New one from Dan Carlin. The first two were interesting. This will be promotable if he continues.

The History of Byzantium – I only listened to a couple of episodes. It’s on my “Roman History” playlist to go after the “History of Rome”

The History of Rome – This one is on my “Roman History” playlist. Good for amateur historians like me. It’s a finished series.

Revolutions – Really good series on various revolutions. Each season goes through one of the more pivotal revolutions in history, starting with the English Revolution. I’ve listened to the first four seasons. This is on my History playlist.

War Stories – Good military history podcast. It’s in my “History” playlist.

Guns

Black Man With A Gun Podcast – Kenn’s podcast was one of the first I started listening to, and then I wrote Zombie Strike for him. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Down Range Radio – Right now, this is my Wednesday morning podcast, but it may get downgraded to promotable. Some of Bane’s nonsense and glad standing is getting on my nervesz On my Daily playlist.

Geeks Gadgets and Guns – A recent addition after they discussed Pathfinder with Erin Pallette. Right now it’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

The Gun Nation – This one is promotable on my Daily playlist on the rare occasions it drops.

Handgun Radio – This one I’ve been enjoying. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Handgun World – This one might go from promotable to fuller on my Daily playlist. Bob has good information, but sometimes his views annoy me, particularly when he goes off on rising evil.

Polite Society Podcast – Good information, but often too long. This one is filler on my Daily playlist

Riding Shotgun With Charley – Interesting so far, but currently filler on my Daily playlist

Safety Solutions Academy – Real good information. Paul is one of those trainers I’d like to learn from if I could scrape together the time and money. This one is promotable on my Daily playlist.

Self-Defense Gun Stories – I like the analysis of what went right and wrong from a variety of professional trainers. This one is a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Politics

The Economist – This is a Friday morning podcast on my Daily playlist. It provides a different perspective and reports on areas that barely hit my normal feeds.

The Fifth Column – This is a really good roundup focusing on the issues of the day and how the media reports them. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Mad Dogs and Englishmen – Charles C. Cooke. That’s why I listen to this podcast. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Neal Boortz Daily Commentaries – I loved listening to Boortz when he was on syndicated radio, and now I get two minutes of him. It’s interesting to see how I’ve diverged from him over the years. It’s only considered promotable on my Daily playlist because I get it daily.

The One With Greg Gutfeld – Only listened to a couple of episodes, but it feels similar to Greg’s Redeye days. Currently promotable on my Daily playlist.

Part of the Problem – Rabid anti war libertarian comedian Dave Smith is interesting. He’s certainly challenging some of my ideas. Promotable on my Daily playlist.

War College – This is a Friday morning podcast on my Daily playlist. An interesting look at politics and military issues.

Tech

Clockwise – This is a Friday morning podcast on my Daily playlist. I like the format and it helps keep me up to date on tech issues and trends.

Daily Tech Headlines – Good summary of big tech stories, and the weekend history segments are interesting. It’s considered promotable on my Daily playlist only becuse it comes out every day.

General

Friendly Fire – New one about three guys watching and critiquing war films. It’s a Friday afternoon podcast on my Daily playlist.

The Incomparable Game Show – Often hilarious, sometimes dangerously so when driving. It’s a Friday afternoon podcast on my Daily playlist.

Penn’s Sunday School – Penn prognosticating on the world. It’s a Tuesday and a Thursday morning podcast on my Daily Playlist.

Squirrel Report – It’s not a Friday afternoon drive without this one.

Unjustly Maligned – On hiatus, but I’d recommend going through the back of episodes.

The Way I Heard It With Mike Rowe – After growing up with Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story”, this one is a wonderful substitute. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Science & Skepticism

Skeptics Guide to The Universe – This was my first science podcast and really helped forge my skepticism. It’s a Monday morning podcast on my Daily playlist.

Skeptoid – Another one that helped in developing my skeptical outlook. It’s a promotable on my Daily playlist.

Writing

Writing Excuses – If you are a fiction writer, I can’t recommend this one highly enough. It’s currently the only one on my Writing playlist.

Software For Writing

25 Aug
August 25, 2017

For my birthday last month, The Brother bought me the Windows version of Scrivener. I’d heard a lot about from the Mac users, so I was willing to give it a shot. I also picked up the iOS version, because I do a lot of my writing on my iPad and iPhone. Here’s what I’m liking so far:

1. The project folders – everything you need for your writing project can be stored in a folder, including text, PDFs, pictures. You can be as extensive or as concise as needed.

2. Syncing – So far, linking Scrivener and Dropbox has allowed seamless syncing across all of my writing platforms. This was an issue when I was using Byword and Editorial, as I would occasionally get conflicting versions from different platforms.

My biggest issue with Scrivener right now is that it does not support markdown. Part of it is that I’ve been writing in markdown for the past few years, so it’s instinctive, but another is that I don’t have to go looking for buttons or highlight text when I want to do bold or italics. Really important when writing on the phone.

Overall, I’d suggest giving it a shot.

Story Idea – Narrative Cop

23 Aug
August 23, 2017

I’ve been binging the latest season of Hawaii Five-O. I don’t know why I enjoy it.

The show’s tropie, oversimplified, and generally a popcorn action flick every episode.

While watching, an idea came to me. A cop show/novel/story where the protagonist is considered a brilliant detective. Why, because (s)he can identify the narrative and solve the crimes based on how it interacts with the current media narrative.

Uniform Cop: The deceased is a known gang member who was seen making a drug buy two days ago. Probably killed by a rival gang.

Narrative Detective: No, I talked to his relatives outside. He was turning his life around. This was a corporate hit. Probably some nefarious scheme to keep essentials out of the hands of the poor.

Language and Cultural Appropriation

23 Aug
August 23, 2017

One of my weekly podcasts is Econtalk. This week’s was on the changing nature of language. Highly recommend, especially if you constantly feel the need to correct people’s grammar.

As a writer, it’s important to understand how language is used – especially for dialogue. Knowing the “rules” helps to properly convey the movies in my head to the reader’s. Much to the frustration of many an instructor or curmudgeon, language is not static. Especially not the English language. The meaning of words and the usage of words change. Trying to force people to use “proper” English (or whatever language) is in the end, foolish.

And now we get to the second half of today’s title. Culture, like language, is not static. No one practices the same culture as their ancestors did. Cultures change with technology and new ideas. Moreover, cultures share and absorb new things as their practitioners come into contact with others. In short, appropriation is a feature, not a bug.

Friday Quote- Wes Craven

13 May
May 13, 2016

“The first monster you have to scare the audience is yourself.”

Wes Craven

Friday Quote- Anne Rice

22 Apr
April 22, 2016

“To write something you have to risk making a fool of yourself.”

Anne Rice, successful author