Should I be flattered that my book was pirated?

While searching for a link to a press release, a google search revealed a website offering free PDF’s of my novel. They even provided their own book review:

Once in a Blue Year Reviewblue year

This Once in a Blue Year book is not really ordinary book, you have it then the world is in your hands.  The  benefit  you  get  by  reading this  book  is  actually  information  inside  this  reserve incredible  fresh,  you  will  get  information  which  is  getting  deeper  an  individual  read  a  lot  of information you will get. This kind of Once in a Blue Year without we recognize teach the one who looking at it become critical in imagining and analyzing. Don’t be worry Once in a Blue Year can bring any time you are and not make your tote space or bookshelves’ grow to be full because you can have it inside your lovely laptop even cell phone. This Once in a Blue Year having great arrangement in word and layout, so you will not really feel uninterested in reading. Relate

Needless to say, I did not dare click the link.

To conjoin or not to conjoin?

I attended the second session of VetsWrite yesterday. Although it has been lightly attended, I have enjoyed the company of fellow writers and the fresh perspective. The writing exercises have been truly helpful; I’m embarrassed to admit I really can’t remember the last time I conducted a free-write on my own. At the end of the session, Ashley and Brad suggested that we share some pages from our current projects and discuss them during the next session.write

This presented me with a conundrum.

I’ve been working on two separate novels for the last few months. They are each stalled around 30% complete. One keeps distracting me from the other. I was beginning to worry that I would never finish either since they both were still missing so much.

So, which one do I share? I was about to flip a coin when I decided just to share an excerpt from each. Perhaps the group could point me in the right direction or provide some needed guidance. I opened the files and began reading. One, then the other, and then back again.

As I read, I slowly began to realize that what each one was missing was possibly contained in the other. In a moment of Zen-like clarity I decided they needed to be combined. They wanted to be combined. In fact, they were practically begging to be combined. I spent the rest of the day, most of the night, and virtually every waking moment since then trying to pull the pieces together in some comprehensible fashion.

I was frustrated last night when I put them away, but I woke up with a few ideas. After some effort this afternoon, I think I’ve made a breakthrough. The result may not quite be 60% of a completed story, but close. In the very least, I am excited to have made some headway and I was also able to easily identify the pages I need to share.

Other random musings from the weekend:

  • Only 18 days until hockey returns. Go Pens!
  • I am loving my new Motorola Moto Z.
  • Comcast is irritating me by repeatedly pushing the addition of a land-line phone. Today they resorted to scare tactics: “How would you make a call in an emergency if your cell phone wasn’t available?” I guess they fail to realize my cell phone is never out of arm’s reach.
  • I am certainly going to keep my promise from March and never again review an episode of The Walking Dead. In fact, I may not even watch the new season. I’m actually surprised that my disdain has not faded over the summer.
  • I made some additions to the Writer Resources page.

Coffee and Karma

I drink a lot of coffee. I can’t write without drinking coffee. Occasionally I even write about drinking coffee. I visit my local Starbucks at least once a day. The other day I noticed a flyer on the wall. I never look at flyers on the wall, but for some reason this one called to me. It was kismet. VetsWrite was the headline. It qr6ptiw7hbdmc69xhlkqadvertised a creative writing class for veterans at the public library. I snapped a photo and proceeded home to investigate further.

VetsWrite has a website and sponsorship from local businesses. The seven-week course is being offered by a fellow MFA and culminates in a public reading following Veteran’s day. Needless to say I emailed the organizer and indicated my intent to participate. It turns out she may need some help and asked if I would lead one of the sessions. Now I just need to decide which topic: conflict & plot, setting, POV & voice, or scene.

I believe all of this is undeniable proof that Starbucks is quintessential to my life.

Random musings for the weekend:

  • My nephew broke his arm. He needed surgery to install a couple pins. Just a few hours after surgery, his mom mentioned that he’ll have to drop soccer and baseball for the fall. His response: “You don’t need hands for soccer.” He is 5. What a tough kid. I should also mention that this discussion took place outside of Starbucks.
  • I watched The Martian again last night. Great movie.
  • The Roadies season finale is tomorrow. I hope it gets renewed for another season.

5 Story Opening Clichés That Need to Die

I am guilty of at least one of these sins…

Here’s why your dumb story keeps getting rejected.

Source: 5 Story Opening Clichés That Need to Die | LitReactor

Top 10 books writers should read

quillFrom unforgiving French sociology to Machiavelli’s manual for realpolitik, the Booker prize-winning author DBC Pierre recommends books that helped him write.

Source: Top 10 books writers should read | Books | The Guardian

What is your favorite first line?

I enjoy analyzing first lines. They open doors to new worlds. They introduce characters. They establish narrators. They set the time and tone of the story. Here are just a few of my favorites.


“This is a story a young girl gathers in a car during the early hours of the morning.”

—Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a Lion

“He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”

—Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.”

—Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

“Shadow had done three years in prison.”

—Neil Gaiman, American Gods

“First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl name Martha, a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey.”

—Tim O’Brien, The Thing They Carried

“You’ll probably think I’m making a lot of this up just to make me sound better than I really am or smarter or even luckier but I’m not.”

—Russell Banks, Rule of the Bone

“I’m pretty much fucked.”

—Andy Weir, The Martian

“When Lauren was a small girl, she would stand in the Kansan fields and call the cats.”

—Steve Erickson, Days Between Stations

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

—J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Last, but not least…

“For the most wild yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief.”

—Edgar Allan Poe, The Black Cat

22 of the Best Single Sentences on Writing

If good writing is succinct and concise, then shouldn’t the same be true of writing advice?

Source: 22 of the Best Single Sentences on Writing | LitReactor

Why can’t stories wait their turn?

I spent all day Saturday in a pool hall. Pool tournaments make great places to watch very different people interacting with each other. College students with retirees, farmers with mechanical engineers, rappers with metal heads, volunteer firefighters with soccer moms, writers with, well, everyone. It was cultural chaos. That, and I have never heard such an eclectic slurry of music on the juke box: country, dance, hip-hop, pop, puke rock (as my wife calls bands such as Nickelback), metal, thrash, punk, reggae…write

Of course I took a lot of notes. That’s just what writers do. I have been desperately trying to finish no less than two novels and three short stories. I had hoped to make that final push on at least one of them this weekend. Unfortunately, the stories did not cooperate. As I compiled my notes at 3 A.M., instead of putting finishing touches on final scenes, I found myself writing an entirely different story, one in stark contrast with the others, almost like those sordid characters in the pool hall. The new story kept me up most of the night pondering the endless possibilities and feverishly typing notes for scenes and themes.

In the end, my team lost the tournament and I didn’t play particularly well. But at least I met some new characters and I am enjoying piecing their story together.

Other random musings from this weekend:

  • I consumed 13 shots of espresso on Friday. That might be a personal record.
  • The Penguins better win tonight. And yes, I will be missing Game of Thrones to watch, so don’t spoil anything for me tomorrow.

To read, or not to read?

This afternoon I was struggling to read a highly-praised novel that I was hating. I thought it was just me, that I was failing as a reader, so I kept trudging along, page after terrible page. I had promised myself to read today, and read I would. After about thirty minutes I realized I had finished several chapters. I didn’t hate it anymore. But I wasn’t really reading it either. I was actually just ignoring it. I could not remember anything I had read. I even clicked back a few pages only to discover the words were entirely foreign to me.  I finally accepted defeat and closed the book forever.old-books

Despite all of that I still wanted to read. After I deleted the daydream-inducing novel, I searched through the other titles I had available. I finally noticed the icon for Neil Gaiman’s new collection of short stories. I don’t know why I waited so long to start reading Trigger Warning. It has been on my Kindle for months, unopened. It is opened now, and it is delightful.

Random musings from this week.

  • I finished watching Sherpa this weekend. I can’t resist the allure of Mt. Everest.
  • I really really wanted the Penguins to close out the series against the Capitals tonight.
  • I feel inspired to finish that collection of short stories I’ve been working on for years.
  • I have already grown weary of all the election coverage.
  • The final season of Banshee is great so far.

Happy 400th anniversary William Shakespeare

Friday I set off to Stratford-upon-Avon for the annual Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations in his home town.

Source: Happy 400th anniversary William Shakespeare: Your genius still fires our imaginations| Fox News


To celebrate the master, some words from Hamlet (Act 3 Scene 1)…

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.–Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember’d.


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