The age old debate amongst writers. That eternal battle between Plotters and Pantsers. I’ve always considered myself a Pantser. Most of the time I have a character and a vague idea and away we go. Probably why I have a thumb drive full of unfinished half baked ideas.
This week has started out different. As I finally draw into the closing chapters of this round of the dots for Book 3 of my Family Heritage series, I had a villain and an idea for book 4.
Monday morning it hit me and by noon I had plotted out a high level outline for the entire book, while working my day job.
What’s more is book 5, which was little more than the idea of having shifters in it, has become an actually plotted book as well. Down to villains and their goals and scene outline.
I’ve never written like this before and it’s a little strange feeling. I’ve now dusted off an old idea I’d filed away and am working it through as well.
Last night I asked my wife about something she’d talked about. One of those, “Honey you should write this moments,” she’d had months ago. She hadn’t figured out the last couple of characters (based on our nieces and nephews), and I told her about my outlining this week. I mentioned I’d like to take a stab at coming up with a story using these characters but I needed the details.
This is where I surprised her by admitting I don’t normally plot my writing. I take the vague idea or character and just turn them loose. Then I write up the incident report. She couldn’t believe that because of how I am in my personal life. I’m a planner. I’m a step 1 is followed by step 2 and so on.
She’s convinced that I’m definitely in possession of multiple personalities and she wants the Pantser to be more involved in my day to day life. What’s more is she’s trying to name the personalities. I just chuckled at her.
A dear friend of mine shared a tweet that got me thinking. I’m sharing the tweet as I’ve tracked down the original author and followed him and his friend he mentions. It’s, to me at least, a very powerful way to look at two of the arts.
For myself, as I have trouble drawing stick figures, and my musical talents were left behind in high school band, I thought, how does this apply to me?
The answer became clear quickly. Writing is how we decorate the mind. Writers take a complex idea, and distill it down into words that, when ingested, fill a room within your mind, even if only for a little while.
Some of these keep these rooms throughout our life and they form a part of who we are. Perhaps they help us deal with a difficult or painful situation. Maybe they form a basis for how we react to something in our lives, or how we perceive justice or what we consider our moral right.
Writers entertain us, inform us, and, if we let them, teach us something. These lessons may be about our world, or just their world. But either way, they can leave this room within us, decorated with their words. With the emotions and images they co hire within us. These rooms are just as powerful as a master’s painting, or a composer’s magnum opus.
So if you’re a writer like me, don’t give up on your creations. Someone out there is waiting for you to decorate a room in their mind, whether they know it now or not.
June 16th, 2020, I turn 38. In two years I’ll be 40 and on the downhill slide as people look at it. If you’d asked me 20 years ago where I’d be, I never would have thought: married, three kids (one of which a teenager), and working in a factory. I’d hoped to be writing, which I am, but it would be nice to be sitting on a nice big publishing deal or something.
I got to my day job this morning and was talking to this new kid from third shift. I say kid because, turns out he’s 19. I’m officially twice the age of a coworker. The next milestone would be when there are coworkers younger than my kids.
So I made a comment about the music I was playing on the stereo and he mentioned he writes songs, music and lyrics, the whole nine yards. I asked him if he’s done anything with it and he got shy and said no. I instantly saw a flashback to when I started writing and never let anyone read or see any of it. I didn’t publish my first book until I was 32.
I told him this, and I said to him. Go for it. Don’t wait. Don’t waste years wishing you had tried it. Even if you lay down the tracks and post it to iTunes yourself. I told him about my cousins son who did this and actually made some money doing it.
I hope he took my advice and he goes home, dusts off those sheets of paper and gives it a try. I’m sure I’ll see him around. So I’ll try to keep encouraging him.
It’s a small thing but it made me feel good to talk to him and maybe help him a little. Something put him in my path today. Whether you believe in Fate or Karma or any of that stuff. I do, and I feel good about the conversation. My spirit and my drive to pursue my dreams is bolstered. I hope his is too.
See ya around Gentle Readers. Hopefully I have some news about Family Heritage Book 3 soon.
Time flies when the world is in crisis and you have three kids to keep track of.
The Coronavirus Pandemic is still in full swing though states are starting to open up a bit. We shall see if this is too soon or not in the coming weeks and months. I’m not a fan of groups of people anyway so that part of the social distancing hasn’t bothered me much. It has been annoying that I couldn’t take the kids to parks or anything when the weather warmed up. Trapped at home has not been kind to my littles. And my oldest, well, he’s had an ok go of this home school thing when they shut schools down in March. Beyond that, we’ve eaten more takeout from local places to help them stay afloat and tried to find creative things to do at home. Which has translated into yard work mainly. We’ve planted some flowers and set up a little fairy garden area that Emma loves. We’ve also take a plot at our village’s community garden. We’ll see how it goes. Not much to show right now except a plot of dirt.
The second bit of unpleasantness to get out of the way is the situation that began in Minneapolis with the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. His murder has ignited protests all over the country and even foreign police are condemning the actions of the officers in Minneapolis. I am appalled and angry that this shit keeps happening in America.
This is a horrible tragedy that has sparked riots and looting as things continue to escalate in cities other than Minneapolis. Even as close to me as Green Bay saw violence at a protest over the weekend. There are reports of rocks being thrown at police.
I’m not going to rehash all the events. I simply want to state that I support the calls against racism, transphobia and all the other despicable-isms. I’m about all lives. Because this issue is about Blacks, I’m in. If it’s Native Americans protesting a shitty pipeline on their land, I’m in. If it’s Pride rallies, I support you too. I can’t do live protests, my anxiety around large groups of people wouldn’t let me contemplate it. So I try to be supportive in other ways. Donations, signing petitions, voting appropriately and encouraging others to as well. So for those out there fighting this fight that needs to happen, I see you. This cishet white guy is sick of the racist bullshit as well.
Now onto more pleasant events for those who’ve stuck it out this long. My oldest is driving. He was able to get his learners permit when the DMV reopened to limited services.
It’s going quite well. I feared this day, teen drivers being potentially what they can be, but he’s doing what he should and is attentive on the road. I’m proud of him. Now if the usual teenage surliness would go away, everything would be great. It’s to be expected though. He’s 15 and trying to figure out himself and his place in the world. I try telling myself I wasn’t much better. Hell, I moved out of my parents house a couple months after I turned 17. I hope this pandemic is cleared up in time for football season. I don’t know if either of us could handle him not getting to play football this year. He needs the activity. Playing basketball in the yard by himself isn’t cutting it for his energy level.
Those who have read about my daughter know that she’s passionate about a great many things. She has her YouTube channel and a Facebook page to document the many things she gets into. This past weekend we were able to begin again the adventure of raising monarch butterflies. We found our first eggs. She was beyond excited when we found the first one. We ended up with ten from our excursion into a marshy area. All ten hatched within a few days and we’ve added a dozen more as well as some that we found already hatched into tiny caterpillars. Now we wait and see if this next batch all hatched, as well as continue to hunt for more. Keeping these beautiful creatures from all becoming bird food is a noble cause right?
How to begin to describe my youngest child. Perhaps this image will help you. Picture a Tornado wearing a Hurricane Jacket, plunked down into a Volcano, while riding a Tsunami during an Earthquake. That should give you a pretty clear picture of the Incarnation of Chaos this little one has become. He chatters away at you, mostly making sense, and understands more than he pretends to. Close to bed time the other night, my wife asked him, “What do you want for snack?” He looks right at me and plain as day said, “Ice Cream Cone Daddy.” Then went back to snuggling his mother while I made him a little cone with orange sherbet. He tests my patience almost as strongly as his older brother. He really riles his sister up. He will pick something up, a toy or doll or whatever. If she decides she wants it. She goes up to him and as she’s asking him for it or offering something different in trade; she snatched the item and leaves. Then you hear, “EMMA!” at the top of his little lungs. Sometimes I think he takes her favorite doll on purpose just to make her angry.
He’s also quite entertaining when it comes to big brother, “Teta.” (Emma started calling Mason, Teta, pronounced TeeTah, and it’s kinda stuck.) So Jackson has a poop diaper, we can all smell it. Mom asks, “Jackson, did you poop your pants?” “No.” He replies with this smirk on his face. Mom asks, “Who put the poop in your pants then?” “Teta.” He yells with a giggle and a look at his older brother. Teta was a good sport. He just said, “Jackson you weren’t supposed to tell anyone.” Which set everyone to laughing, even Emma.
All three of my kids challenge me to be a better person. To set a better example than what they may see around them in these times of crisis. I just hope I’m doing a good enough job.
My writing has been up and down the last few months. I’m still hitting my word count goals but I’m no where near ready to publish anything because I keep bouncing from project to project, unable to focus on much except knocking out Tales Of Ezrahn short stories. I think I almost have enough for a collection so maybe if I can knock that out I’ll be able to get back to Mike’s journey. Book three needs some rewrites then off to my editor. I hope he’s ready to deal with Colleen coming back into his life and a betrayal from The Council.
Until next time, my Gentle Readers. Keep on keeping on.
Hello all. February has been a crazy month so far and it’s not over yet.
Emma (my 3yr old) has a YouTube channel now for all the adventures she gets up to. we also started a Facebook page and Instagram account. She’s really enjoying all her activities. Her mom and I are loving sharing our unique girl with the world. You can find her on YouTube at http://bit.ly/EmmasWorld
She’s already surpassed 100 likes on her Facebook page which is amazing. One of the best stories out of this so far has been tweeting with Ted Allen from Food Network’s Chopped. When she was just a few months old, Emma would stop and stare at the screen any time Ted talked. Now that she’s cooking on YouTube, I tweeted him telling him. He responded the next day, not once, but twice.
My oldest is rocking the basketball court and getting lots of playing time on Varsity as a freshman. Here he is taking the tip-off on the Junior Varsity game tonight. He then went down and scored the first two points of the game between either team.
Lastly for this update has to do with short stories. I’ve been working on a few the last few months and one of my favorite lines is from one dealing with the God of War )or lack there of) in my fantasy realm, Ezrahn.
Kreios was a General before he killed a demigod in self defense and became a Master of War. Now, as he learns why there is no centralized overseer of conflict, he discovers that it is his destiny to become the new God of War. With the help of the magical Emerson’s and armor that make up the powers of War, he sees that having the many demigod Masters, keeps the world in conflict far more than if there was the single God. After he strips the Armament and status of one of his fellow Masters of War, he says, “I am War, so that there can be Peace.” He then sends the now mortal Master Into the battle he was formally orchestrating. I can’t wait to share these stories once they are all done and bundled together. They’ve been a lot of fun to write.
Take care, keep writing, and I’ll be back soon my Gentle Readers.
How does this happen? We are already a month into the new year. I feel like I just woke up from the sensory/family overload of the holidays. Oh wait, that’s cause I spent this last weekend at an indoor water park, sharing a villa with my wife’s entire family (Parents, brothers and sister, plus their spouses and kids). All told we had 19 people in this spacious 5 bedroom, three story house. It worked, on a lot of levels, but it was also… well, crowded isn’t the right word. I’m going to miss everyone and wouldn’t trade the experience for the world, but I am glad to be home.
I finished a beta read of a thriller novel this past week and managed to get my word count in on my own projects. This week I need to focus on getting Spring Into SciFi 2020 ready for betas. This means I have to cut two more submissions to hit the magic number of 13. I’ve whittled it down to 15, three of which are already confirmed accepted for publication. This is the worst part of my job doing this, because I don’t like sending rejection letters. Sometimes you get an easy one, the person sent in something way outside the submissions guidelines (way too short, way too long, or the one guy who sent me erotica when I specifically point it out as not what is wanted for these collections). Most of the time, however, there are great stories and I just don’t have the room/funding to publish them all. So 13 is our magic number and we’re cutting down to that this week. Updates will come via the company’s website (http://www.cloakedpress.com) , and social media platforms.
I’ve been looking into ways to improve my editing skills, not only for myself but to utilize this within the business and for friends/critiquing. I think I’m going to look into some EFA courses, and possibly this online coursework through San Diego Extension. Will just have to figure out the funding for either/both of those avenues. I could probably file for a student loan for the San Diego stuff, but I don’t know how the wife will take that. We’re trying to cut debt, not create more.
Anyway… I’ll leave you with a snippet from one of my short stories I’ve written recently. “The Blacksmith” originally was supposed to be about a group called the Highwaymen, that protect merchant caravans, or retrieve stolen goods, for a price, within the Realm of Ezrahn. As I wrote it, it became more about a young man who wanted to be an adventurer, but found all the adventure he could handle right in his own hometown.
“The Highwaymen? Are you out of your mind, boy?” the older man said. “Take it from Old Sawyer, you don’t want to get mixed up with they’re mercenaries. That’s no life for a young man. Selling your soul for a bit of coin. No. You’d be best to go marry that blacksmith’s daughter who fancies you. Learn her father’s trade and make babies. That’s my advice.” Old Sawyer drank deeply from his tankard. “Fetch me another round, if you please.” He tossed the young man a gold coin.
Gareth stared at the coin a moment. It wasn’t often gold showed up in his little town. Silver, sure, especially when the merchants passed through. The shiny metal mesmerized him.
“Boy,” came Old Sawyer’s voice, breaking the coin’s spell. “Get me a bowl of that stew I smell as well. A half loaf of good warm bread should go nicely. Do that, and you can keep the change.”
Hello all. It’s been a year and a half since I last posted so this one is going to be a bit long. Lots of big changes so I’m going o have updates in my Fatherhood, Writing, and Business aspects of my life. So break out the jazz music and brush up on your Charleston.
2018 ended with a bang as we welcomed a third child into our family. Jackson Warren Ferrell was born November 24th after a long labor. He wasn’t ready to leave mommy and he’s still a snuggler a year later.
Here he is a week ago beating me at his version of checkers.
His sister joined her older brother and her parents in wearing glasses this past November, just weeks before Jackson’s first birthday.
We built a snowman this week because Wisconsin got some great packing snow. Our Olaf didn’t last long as it warmed up enough the next day his head separated and had to be rebuilt.
My oldest child is a freshman in high school now. The only freshman (and only one other sophomore) that got consistent playing time on varsity football. He got his letter and pin for his jacket. He’s slowly earning more time with varsity on the basketball court as well.
Here he is during football season with his sister.
Three kids has been a huge adjustment for our family in terms of time management and trip planning. Thankfully my beautiful wife is a wizard at that aspect and manages to get us everywhere we need to be.
The challenge I’ve faced lately is trying to remember that Emma isn’t older than she is. There are times she says and does things that would lead one to believe she’s a lot older (maybe even a teenager in some ways). The next minute she’s melting down over something so minor (to us parents at least) and it hits you that she’s not quite four. She’s still figuring out how to handle her own emotions and feelings and navigate the world. It’s a work in progress for all of us at this stage.
2019 was a good year. I joined a 365 Challenge on Facebook that really helped keep me accountable. I developed a much better writing routine through the groups founding principles of just 10 minutes a day. I drafted several pieces I’m still working on. I also finished and published my second novel, “Through Darkness to Light”. In addition I had a new cover done for book one to make them flow better.
You can click the images to be taken to the Amazon product page.
2020 is going to be bigger yet. I’m finally working on my high fantasy realm Ezrahn via short stories to build the world lore and flesh it out more. I’ll definitely be sharing snippets via my Facebook page and Twitter accounts so be sure you’re following me there.
Cloaked Press enters its third year in 2020. We’re launching Spring Into SciFi 2020 in February/March which will be our 6th short story collection. We also published our first stand alone novel, “To Visit Earth” by British author, Ian Hugh McAllister.
We redesigned our website recently to hopefully provide a better user experience. We also now offer editing services for authors on a budget. I feel our prices are very competitive for what we offer.
Our Kickstarter to expand into more single author novels, novellas and collections isn’t fairing so well and in its final hours is still a long way from being funded. We’ll still get there, just will take us longer to take in these projects.
I think that’s all for now. I hope you’re still with me and I look forward to sharing more of my journey as a Father, Author, Blogger, Publisher.
Hello my Gentle Readers. I just wanted to check in and let you all know how my 2018 is shaping up so far. We are more than a month in now and things are really hopping.
Cloaked Press, the publishing company I started last year, is turning 1 year old this month. We are launching our second short story collection, Spring Into SciFi 2018, on March 20th, 2018. (Obviously 2018, since it’s in the title. Haha). It’s very exciting. I’ll throw out the cover here, but if you’d like to get your hands on an ARC and get a chance to talk to some of the authors, then you can join the Launch Street Team.
I am woefully behind on my own writing projects. My demon infused novella has stalled out. Editing books 2 and 3 of my Family Heritage Series is taxing to say the least. I hate editing/revising. I just want it to be perfect when I bleed that first draft onto the pages, you know? Hopefully once I get Spring Into SciFi put to press, I’ll have more energy to devote to my personal projects.
I hope everyone has been enjoying the guest posts and the recent Meet The Author Monday interviews. I’d love to have more authors to feature on my blog, so if you know any that should be shared with the world, please send them my way. They can get the details on the Meet The Author Mondays Page.
Lastly, I want to tell a story about my daughter (who will be 2 in April). For at least the last 6 months, I have been the primary person to put my daughter to bed at night. I warm up a bottle of milk, we snuggle under a blanket in the recliner in her room that I bought for my wife when she was nursing. We have a tradition of her talking to Quack Quack, which is me making a shadow duck on her ceiling using my cellphone flashlight. She and Quack Quack talk about her day and then he gives her a “shadow smooch” and she finishes her milk. Normally, I would end up falling asleep in the chair with her and wake up a few hours later (usually when we both have turned into the furnace we become when we sleep). Then I could put her in her crib and go to my bed. I know this was a cause for dissatisfaction for my wife, as I didn’t get to come back and spend time with her before she went to bed. Lately that has all changed and my feelings are bittersweet about it. Our routine is slightly changed: warm bottle, snuggled in recliner with blanket, conversation with Quack Quack. The difference is when she finishes her bottle, she hands it to me, and says, “Done.” Then she will usually roll over like she is going to snuggle in, and immediately starts to kick the blanket off, telling me she’s, “Done”. If I ask her, “Are you ready for your bed?” She will tell me, “Yes. Done.” or “Night Night”. If I don’t move fast enough to put her in her bed, she gets quite upset with me.
I miss the snuggles, but I am grateful for the hour or two that I get back in the evening as it has helped me to get things ready for Spring Into SciFi, and actually get a little bit of editing done. Here is a recent picture of my little princess. She has her pajamas on still, but she put her mother’s snow boots on so she could take a sled ride with her grammy. (For the record we waited until later and had real snow worthy clothes on when the sled ride happened.)
This week’s featured author is MJL Evans. As usual we will have my comments/questions in BLUE with MJL in GREEN.
Thank you for stopping by MJL. Let’s jump right in and talk about your first forays into the literary world. I was read to growing up and I listened to audiobooks, so I believe this encouraged to be an avid reader from a young age.
What genre excites you the most? Any other favorites? I really enjoy horror, fantasy, literary fiction, and erotica, Basically if it sounds interesting to me, I’ll read it.
Sounds pretty eclectic. What made you decide to start writing your own stories? I’ve been writing stories from a very young age, they were my favourite homework assignments. I was inspired by what I read. Books like Alice in Wonderland, Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, and Little Women, they all fed my imagination.
Wonderful choices. Do you consider yourself a writer of a specific genre, or do you dabble in several? Not really, I like dabbling. I mix genres in my stories. For example, No Quarter: Dominium is a mixture of historical fiction, romance, adventure, suspense and humour. LIfe isn’t just one genre, so my stories develop into whatever seems most natural.
Characters do tend to take on a life of their own sometimes. How did your publishing journey play out? I became an Indie Author starting in 2013. At the time I hadn’t written in many years, it was always something I wanted to revisit. What pushed me back into writing was a routine surgery that went wrong and I almost bled to death (sounds melodramatic, I know!). But what it did was made me reevaluate what was important to me and I’ve been writing like hell ever since!
Well, that is exciting. I’m glad you recovered to bring your stories to life. Do you have any other interests you’d like to share? I am also a visual artist who dabbles in acrylics, oils and watercolours. Also, I read a lot and cater to my two senior cats, who spend a lot of their time trying to push their way onto my keyboard!
Cats and keyboards, a pretty common foil to getting any writing done. Now you’re situation is a bit different than my previous featured authors, as you have a partner. Can you tell us about that? I like writing my own stories, however, I’ve found that having a co-author is a great way to challenge my story ideas. We don’t always agree and sometimes I want to throw a thesaurus at his head, but it keeps the story-line fresh and ultimately makes the story better.
Great perspective MJL. I’m glad you stopped by and chatted with us today. If anyone would like to find more information, or buy one of MJL’s books, you can find her at all the links below.
I have a great new friend to introduce you to today, my Gentle Readers. Melinda Kucsera is a fellow author with two works currently on Amazon. I have added her to my To Be Read pile (which never seems to get smaller) and I think you should too. In the style of my previous interviews, I will put my comments/questions in BLUE and Melinda will be GREEN.
Let’s start this off with something easy since almost all writers are avid readers as well. Is there a specific event or person which made you a reader? Like many other writers, I grew up reading. My mother is a voracious reader who didn’t much care for television. So she allowed my sibs and I only 1 hour of TV per day. So yes, I missed out on most of the 80s shows. When I was a kid, her ‘one hour’ rule irked me, but now I’m grateful to her. Not following a ton of TV shows frees me up to read and write more. Though I grew up reading, I was never as voracious a reader as mother was until I discovered audiobooks. Now my audiobook habit outstrips her ebook addiction and we have a good laugh about that when we get together to talk about books.
That’s funny about your mom. Sometimes I wish I had watched less TV as a kid. Maybe I should try this with my kids. Since you prefer audiobooks, what are you favorite books to listen to? Fantasy, thrillers, mysteries, police procedurals, Sci-fi especially military and hard sci-fi, physics, astronomy and other nonfiction science books. I love the Great Courses series of audiobooks.
I may have to check those out myself, though I am not much for audiobooks. What pushed you across that threshold from reader into writer? My imagination. I invented a fantasy world before I started school and I carried it with me everywhere I went. Every day I refined it, and I spent hours imagining adventures for the characters living there. One rainy day, I started writing those stories down to distract myself from the argument my parents were having. I wrote until my hand cramped and then I switched hands and brute forced more letters onto the page. Some of them were actually readable thanks to ambidexterity. After that, dreaming of adventures wasn’t enough. I had to note them down. World building is generally a long process if you want to get it right, so kudos to you on the dedication. I probably don’t really have to ask this but for the sake of the interview, what is your writing specialty? Fantasy, epic or paranormal non-romantic though, I like action and adventure!
We know your world building was a long journey, but once you had all this down, tell us how you went from cramped up hands to published writer. My journey is an eccentric one. I work in the publishing industry at the intersection of design, IT, editorial, business and marketing. I’d already been researching and thinking hard about self-publishing when the unthinkable happened. My sister died suddenly at the age of 29. Before she passed, she asked me to publish the Curse Breaker series I was working on at the time. Grief crushed me. I crawled into audiobooks and took refuge there until the pain lessened and the tears stemmed. I’d lost my best friend and she never got to read the story I was most proud of, the penultimate sequence in the Curse Breaker saga. In the dark days that followed, I clung to the promise I’d made to her. I would not let her down. I published the first story from the series, Curse Breaker: Enchanted, on the second anniversary of my sister’s death as a memorial for her and all those who never had the chance to chase their dreams.
I am very sorry to hear about your sister. To shift gears a little bit, what do you like to do when you aren’t writing? When not writing, I’m a project manager for a privately held publishing company that I do not own. They don’t publish fiction, so there is no conflict and my coworkers are quite proud to have an author on staff. I can usually be found listening to an audiobook and sneaking onto audible.com to search for my next great listen or chatting with other coworkers about the audiobook they’re listening to. I’m also fitness/health enthusiast. So if you pass by my neighborhood or my office, you’ll find me out there wearing the rubber off my sneaker’s soles. I love to walk.
Well, keep up the good work and thank you for stopping by to chat with me for a few minutes.
If you would like to find out more about Melinda or her work, you can find her at the links below.