Tag Archives: fiction

Monday Night Ramblings – 3/13/17

When I was still an educator, I stressed the importance of persistence to my students.  Every semester, I would share the famous quote from Calvin Coolidge:

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Life has a way of placing obstacles in your way, and they will test your resolve to follow through on achieving your goals. It’s no secret that I’ve faced my fair share of adversity, and many times, I’ve thought that I would never overcome some of the challenges I’ve faced. On the darkest nights, I felt as if my life had been meaningless because I hadn’t been able to complete all five books of the Brotherhood of Dwarves series. That shortcoming irritated me like a splinter in my psyche.

However, last night, I finished the rough draft of book five. It took a total of 14 years (probably twice as long as it reasonably should have), but through perseverance, I was able to see it to the end. No matter what else, that story has been told the way it was envisioned when it first came to me. Obviously, there is still a lot of editing to do, and then the hard work of promotion begins, but the story is there. At this moment, it still doesn’t feel real, but I have achieved the primary goal I set for myself.

Finishing a book is a great rush. There’s a sense of accomplishment that not much else measures up to. Finishing a series is something else entirely. These characters have been a part of my life through so many ups and downs, and in some ways, they were the solid ground beneath my feet when everything else felt like quicksand. To have finished their tale is bittersweet, albeit more sweet. Now, I get to begin the other projects that I’ve wanted to work on and start achieving the other goals I’ve set for myself. And as I conquer these new challenges, I will press on with persistence.

Thursday Night Ramblings 2/23/17

This week has been pretty hectic, so I haven’t had time for a post until tonight. Right now, I’m in Chattanooga, preparing for Con Nooga this weekend. This is my first public appearance in two years, so I’m both excited and nervous. Hopefully it goes well. 

I’m going to attempt a couple of posts from the convention, including images from the show. There are usually some pretty good cosplays at this one, so I’m excited to see what’s in store this year. In the past, I’ve always had a booth but since everything I do is Kindle exvlusive now, I’m free to roam around. 

Also, I’ve gotten a few glimpses at the cover for book five, and so far I’m extremely pleased with the work. Can’t wait to share it with you when it’s ready.

That’s all for now. Check back tomorrow evening for some Con Nooga Ramblings. 

Wednesday Night Ramblings – 2/15/17


An aspiring writer asked me to share my process for outlining. First, let me say that there’s no one right way to outline. If you find a process that works for you, follow it as long as it feeds your creativity. The process I’ll describe is mine and works for me, but it might not be the best fit for you. So please keep in mind that anything that doesn’t help should be discarded. Only hold onto the pieces that allow your writing to flow. Also, this is my process for outlining a novel, and there are different processes for other types of writing.

My first step is to figure out the beginning and the ending of the book. I need to have a rough idea of those two before I can do anything else. Typically, I’ll sketch out a few notes about each, but for the most part, the details are just in my head. One thing to keep in mind here, however, is that the ending I envision beforehand may not be the final form. In fact, there are almost always changes and alterations as the story comes into focus, but I have a general idea of where the story will stop.

From there, I sketch out each chapter individually, noting the primary scenes. I jot notes to myself on the characters involved and the basic components. These are usually in keyword form that will trigger my memory later. What I try to develop is a skeleton of the entire book so that I have a clear vision of the overall story arc before I begin writing. Much like the ending, the scenes that are developed during the outline may change through the course of the writing, especially as the characters surprise me in the flow of the action.

When I begin writing, I refer back to the outline regularly to make sure I’m staying on track with the overall story, but I also make changes to it as the story evolves. Quite often, I’ll realize that a scene belongs in a different chapter to make time line up, or I’ll scrap one altogether because it’s just not needed. Also, I may realize that a new scene is needed because some details are missing. However, by the time the book is complete, the outline and the book remain relatively consistent with each other.

So that’s my basic process. It ends up being fairly middle of the road between a rigid plotter and a seat of the pants writer, and for me, this allows me the best of both worlds. I have a good idea where I’m going and how I’m getting there, but I also have the latitude to allow the story to grow organically. Hope that this has been useful for you if you’re an aspiring writer, and for the rest of you, I hope this has been an entertaining insight into the mind of a writer.

Monday Evening Ramblings

I went to Chattanooga to spend Thanksgiving with my friends Leslie and James, who were gracious enough to invite me down. We had a great time and ate way too much food. It was probably my most enjoyable Thanksgiving in 8-9 years. Planning to go back and spend some more time with them soon, probably before Christmas.

Friday was my 44th birthday. Got to go out to eat with my parents and then spent the evening with a friend. Probably my most relaxing and enjoyable birthday in 8-9 years, too. No stress, no drama, no nonsense. Just good food, good conversation, and good pumpkin pie.

I’m currently up to Chapter 11 on book five. For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook, Chapter 10 might be the most intense writing of my career. Hopefully, my editor and beta readers will agree with me that book five is the best book in the series. That’s the reason why I’m so infrequent on the blog. When I’m in the middle of a book like this, I get serious tunnel vision and don’t write on much else.

Right now, my thoughts and prayers are with all of my friends and loved ones in Sevier County. The fires are unbelievable and many people I care about are under a mandatory evacuation from their homes. We desperately need rain in East Tennessee. Not sure I’ve ever seen it this dry here, not even during that terrible drought in the 80s. November is usually one of our wettest months, and so far, we’ve had .2 of an inch of rain this month.

That’s all for now. Hope everyone is safe and well.

Vocabulary Wednesday – August 9, 2016

In 1989, I suffered a head injury (you can read about it here). One of the long-term consequences I’ve dealt with is some minor damage to one of the vocabulary centers of my brain. As a result, I sometimes struggle with word recall and constantly forget words if I do not use them regularly (one of the great ironies of my life is that I’m a writer who can’t think of words). Therefore, I have to work on relearning words perpetually because a strong vocabulary is the foundation for any writer.

For me, the easiest way to study words is with flash cards. I take a standard index card and write the word on one side and the part of speech and definition on the other. Then, I can exercise both learning the definition and recalling the word itself, both of which require diligence on my part because of the injury. You may want to try different techniques to find the right fit for you, but I do recommend trying the flash card method first because it’s simple and effective.

Each Wednesday, I’ll share 20 new words that I think are important for you to know as a writer or are just cool words. If you can learn these entries, by the end of the year you will have improved your vocabulary by 1,040 words. Keep that up for a few years, and you’ll have a world class vocabulary. One note on my word choices, because I have to constantly relearn words, some of these choices may come across as elementary to you, and if so, please accept my apologies. Now, without further ado, here are the first 20:

Abattoir – (n) a slaughterhouse. [origin is from the French word abatt – to slaughter or fell. First appeared in English in the early 1800’s] Usage: The abattoir sat down in a secluded dale, and a peculiar smell clung to it like a drenched cloak, the smell of blood and entrails and death.

Abdicate – (v) renounce or relinquish an office, power, or right. [origin is from the Latin word abdicātus – renounce. First appeared in English in the mid-1500’s] Usage: As his faculties began to decline, the company president decided to abdicate his position in order to protect the company’s best interests.

Acquiesce – (v) to yield; to submit; to agree; to consent. [origin is from the Latin word acquiēscere – to find rest in. First appeared in English in the early 1600’s] Usage: Once he realized that his position was hopeless, the general acquiesced to the terms of surrender rather than needlessly sacrifice his soldiers.

Acrid – (adj) sharp or biting to the taste or smell; pungent; severe. [origin is from the Latin  ācr- (stem of ācer)  – sharp, sour. First appeared in English in the early 1600’s] Usage: The acrid ale nearly made him gag, but he drank the full tankard, not wanting to offend his host.

Adulate – (v) show feigned devotion to; flatter servilely. [origin is from the Middle English < Middle French < Latin adūlātiōn- (stem of adūlātiō) servile flattery, fawning. First appeared in English in the late 1700’s] Usage: Sycophants will adulate rather than share a hard truth and risk expulsion from the inner circle.

Alacrity – (n) cheerful willingness. [origin is from the Latin word alacritās – lively. First appeared in English in the early 1500’s] Usage: The captain’s alacrity to take on any assignment was contagious to his subalterns.

Anathema – (n) denunciation; solemn curse; something accursed. [origin is Latin and Greek. First appeared in English in the early 1500’s] Usage: As the smoke of battle cleared and she saw the wreckage of bodies, the doctor whispered an anathema at all who saber rattle and call forth the horrors.

Antipathy – (n) dislike for something. [origin is from the Latin word antipathīa and the Greek word antipátheia – aversion. First appeared in English in the late 1500’s ] Usage: Like most night owls, my antipathy for morning and morning people is quite acute.

Apogee – (n) the point of greatest distance from earth in an orbit. [origin is from the French word apogée. First appeared in English in the late 1500’s] Usage: As the satellite reached its apogee, mission control breathed a sigh of relief that all had gone well.

Apoplectic – (adj) of or related to apoplexy (see next entry); angry or furious. [origin is Late Latin apoplēcticus < Greek apoplēktikós pertaining to (paralytic) stroke. First appeared in English in the early 1600’s] Usage: The combination of poor diet, lack of exercise, and extreme stress had made him the perfect candidate for an apoplectic event.

Apoplexy – (n) loss of consciousness or mobility due to sudden blood loss to the brain; to suffer a stroke. [origin is Late Latin apoplēcticus < Greek apoplēktikós pertaining to (paralytic) stroke. First appeared in English in the early 1600’s] Usage: The apoplexy left her face paralyzed on the left side, which curled her mouth into a perpetual sneer.

Apotheosis – (n) glorified personification of a principle or idea. [origin is Late Latin and Greek. First appeared in English in the late 1500’s] Usage: Michael Jordan is the apotheosis of a competitor, as his desire to win and be the best has encompassed every facet of his life.

Ardent – (adj) fervent; intense; passionate; burning; fiery; glowing. [origin is Latin. First appeared in English in the mid-1300’s] Usage: She had an ardent desire to create, to push boundaries, to make the world more beautiful than it was yesterday.

Ardor – (n) intensity of feeling; zeal; passion; fiery heat. [origin is from Middle English ardure – to burn. First appeared in English in the mid-1300’s] Usage: As he gazed upon the completed project, his eyes sparkling with delight, his ardor for his work was evident.

Arrogate – (v) assume, demand, or claim unduly [origin is from  Latin arrogātus – appropriated, assumed, questioned. First appeared in English in the mid-1500’s] Usage: Our politicians have been arrogating more and more power for themselves for decades, eroding our civil liberties and trampling the Constitution in the process.

Ascetic – (adj) extreme in self-restraint or self-denial [origin is from  Greek askētikós – subject to rigorous exercise, hardworking. First appeared in English in the mid-1600’s] Usage: As he trained for his upcoming fight, the boxer lived an ascetic lifestyle, denying himself even the most basic luxuries like air-conditioning.

Ascetic – (n) a hermit; one who practices spiritual self-denial. [origin is from  Greek askētikós – subject to rigorous exercise, hardworking. First appeared in English in the mid-1600’s] Usage: The ascetic lived alone, far from the commotion of civilized life, and each day, he reveled in the simplicity of existing.

Asperity – (n) harshness of temper; severity [origin is from late Middle English asperite. First appeared in English in the early 1200’s] Usage: As with most bullies, her asperity could explode at any moment, erupting for even the most trivial of issues.

Assiduous – (adj) diligent; attentive; unremitting [origin is from the  Latin word assiduus – to sit near, beside,dwell close to. First appeared in English in the mid-1500’s] Usage: An assiduous attention to detail is imperative for polishing a manuscript into a publishable novel.

Atavism – (n) a reversion to distant hereditary traits; a throwback. [origin is from  the Latin word atav – remote ancestor. First appeared in English in the mid-1800’s] Usage: The atavism of his agrarian ancestors shone through as he tilled the soil and wrought sustenance from the land.

Atavistic – (adj) of or pertaining to atavism; reverting to or suggesting characteristics of a remote ancestor or primitive type. [origin is from  the Latin word atav – remote ancestor. First appeared in English in the mid-1800’s] Usage: An atavistic instinct overcame her as she battled the assailant, and a primal rage surged through her as she pummeled him bloody.

Because of the couple of repetitions, you get off easy this week and only have to learn 18 words. Next week, we’ll move beyond the A’s. Happy learning.