The Friday Muse – Blog Import

The Friday Muse (Cropped)

I finally got around to importing my Blogger posts into this site earlier this week, so now instead of a dozen posts, you’ll see that I have nearly 500. I’ll be working at it a little each day to try and get my categories/tags organized and make sure the posts were all formatted correctly when they moved over – which doesn’t look like they all were.

That being said, did you know that The Friday Muse used to be Flash Fiction Fridays? I was sketching out a new brief story each Friday, but I ended up changing the weekly meme to The Friday Muse so I could use it to talk about writing if I wanted to without the pressure of posting new writing each week.

I’m still working on organizing all of my Flash Fiction Friday posts, but here’s three that I cleaned up:

The Girl

Tiffany Sweet

The War

The Barrow Lover – Book Review

The Barrow Lover Website CoverFor those interested in a great Irish spook tale with intriguing characters and a great Celtic feel, this is definitely the story for you. The most impressive thing about Mr. Todoroff’s writing is how poetic it comes off. I’m not all that familiar with Irish jargon, but the prose moves with the fluidity of a rushing stream, moving you through the story with ease without stopping to coddle you along the way.

I found the characters believable, the setting wondrous, and the tension just right for a spook tale. This was a tale I was inclined to read on my cell phone with headphones blaring music in my ears so I could be shut out from the rest of the world while I became thoroughly engrossed in the multidimensional Celtic environment that Mr. Todoroff created –  an environment that was easy and enjoyable to get lost in.

Although this tale is meant to be a short one, I felt the ending was a bit rushed and cut off, with the epilogue doing nothing to satisfy my craving for a more drawn out conclusion to this otherwise intriguing tale. All in all though, this is a great (and quick) read that will satisfy your craving for an intriguing Irish ghost story.

You can find The Barrow Lover here on Amazon.

Writing Away the Bullies

David's Family 8There’s been a lot of buzz in recent years over bullying. I was bullied in my younger years. A lot. Like…A LOT. Most of the bullying occurred in 8th and 9th grade, and most of it occurred for various reasons. I was always…different. Quite. Weird. In my own little world.

I was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) when I was 2, and I was put on Ritalin for fifteen years of my life. That Ritalin increased my anxiety levels to the point where I was afraid walls were going to crash in on me. Because of the Ritalin, I wouldn’t stand up for myself. Kids would flick my ears, and I wouldn’t do a single thing about it. I was nervous to make eye contact with anyone, or even move my head a certain way because I was afraid everyone was staring at me all the time. The paranoia was very real, and it caused me a lot of issues through my school years and into my adult life.

Another reason I was bullied was because of my club foot. If you don’t know what a club foot is, go educate yourself here. I walked ‘pigeon-toed’ up until 8th grade when my speech teacher asked me why I walked the way I did. After that, I made a conscious effort to straighten out the way I walked just so I wouldn’t have another teacher point out my handicap.

The bullying got pretty extreme at times. One day, a kid in my English class tied a newspaper rope around my neck and tried to choke me with it in front of the whole class while my teacher was out. We got into a fist fight, and I ended up reporting him to the front office. The kid was put in ISS (in-school-suspension) for three days, and he sent his lackeys to inform me that ‘snitches get stitches’. When he got out, he approached me after class. It was one of the first times I confronted one of my bullies courageously. I told him to leave me alone or I would continue to report him. He never bothered me again.

The bullying was a very real part of my life. There were days I dreaded going to school, especially when I knew that snitches got stitches and people were waiting around corners for me to show up. I felt like an outcast at times, and I ended up befriending the others who were different like me. They were some of the best friends I ever had. And yes, I was one of those kids who befriended the bus driver and the school janitor. They didn’t judge me. They didn’t throw stuff at me. They defended me. They kept their eyes open for trouble and protected me from it when it came my way.

It was during the peak of the bullying, in 8th grade, that I really found my passion. It’s true that I started writing when I was 11, but the bulk of my first stories were written during 8th and 9th grade. My dad had given me one of those computers that only display amber-colored text, and a printer that was fed on black spools. As typing was a required class in my school at the time, I used the computer, my typing skills, and my storytelling abilities and crafted many, many adventures.

You would think that I used writing as an escape from bullying, but writing was much more than just an escape. It was my control over bullying. I mean, that’s one reason writers write, right? To control the world around them.

I wrote myself into my stories as a hero, as someone who had purpose, who drew the affection of others, who had the ability to save the day and stop the villain. Writing was therapeutic. It was a passion, and when I participated in that passion, I was able to overlook the bullying and write a better ending to the day.

I want to make sure that I raise my own kids to both not be bullies and to speak up against bullying when they are able to. Seeing as my son has two club feet, I am watchful and careful to make sure that his self-confidence is built up and that he knows he is unique and that being unique is good.

But as wrong as bullying is, I know it was used by God to help shape my lifelong passion. Bullying was a challenge in my life, and I was given the ability to shape that challenge into something of great worth.

DAlderman 310BWC2Now I write for a living. It’s not to say that I’m fully recovered from the effects of the bullying that went on in my youth. I’m still a bit shy about publicly revealing who I really am, what I really like and don’t like, and what I really believe.

But through the struggle, I have learned one very valuable lesson: Dive into your passion. It is the one thing the bullies can’t take from you.

The Friday Muse – Fleshing Out The Evil Within

The Friday Muse (Cropped)My NaNoWriMo novel is a supreme mess. My goal this year was to hit 75,000 words in it before the end of November, but I only reached the basic 50,000 word goal before I just couldn’t go on any longer. The story had fallen flat all over the place, there were serious continuity errors between the manuscript and the rest of my novels, and there was one particular character who dragged me down into the depths of an evil I have never known in my novels.

When I first started my self-published writing career, I was writing young adult Christian fiction. I made sure not to include curse words in my manuscript, I made sure to keep the violence and graphic detail to an absolute minimum, and I stayed as far away from sexual content as I possibly could while (I thought) staying as true to the story as I could.

I don’t write young adult Christian fiction anymore. For most of the reasons I stated above. I find that many of the stories I write nowadays cry out to be told in their gritty – and sometimes graphic – truth. It’s why I label my work edgy Christian speculative fiction. It’s why, when I write, I allow the story to flow within wider parameters, only to be cleaned up and ‘refined’ during the actual editing process.

But something about this particular novel….

My main character, Salt, is a brand of evil I have never written of before. I came a little close when I wrote the characters of Alpha 1 and Strangeways Silver in my Black Earth series, but Salt goes far beyond those characters in terms of malice and lack of morals.

Something about Salt disturbs me.

9608278955_0b44ba0b12_zWriting out Salt’s story, I’ve noticed the boundaries I usually write my villains in have gone missing. There’s no framework to base my character’s profile around. As I struggle with words to craft the origin story to one of my most sinister creations, I find myself in unknown territory, exploring different facets of human nature I was always too afraid to fathom in the earlier years of my writing career.

Salt’s story is forcing me to confront the evil residing within this man’s heart. It wants me to witness – whether I want to or not – what happens when a broken spirit, untamed rage, and psychotic brutality fuel a man’s motives.

I can’t look away. I won’t look away. I am the creator, and he is my creation. So I will take this road through this man’s heart of darkness. I’m not sure where it will lead me. All I know is that at the end of this road, I will have a story unlike any I have ever told.

I just hope I survive the journey.

(Photo courtesy of sszdl)

The Lucasfilm Offices

My wife stumbled on a fun little fact the other day: there is a Yoda fountain in San Francisco. So, naturally, we decided to check it out.

LL 1We found out that the statue is actually in front of the Lucasfilm headquarters located in the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio District of San Francisco. And apparently, during business hours, you can go inside the lobby area and take a peek at some awesome Star Wars memorabilia, including statues, replicas, and awards that Lucasfilm has won.

LL 12

LL 11LL 4LL 5LL 2 LL 9 LL 8LL 6 LL 10

The Friday Muse – A Writer’s Real Job

The Friday Muse (Cropped)I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Don’t worry, the smoke you see coming out of my head is just my processors overheating. That happens when I think too hard on something. And lately, I’ve been thinking too hard about writing.

I’ve been at this ‘full-time’ writing thing for over five years now. And to be honest, most of what I struggle with regarding this career isn’t writing. It’s marketing. It’s sharing my writing with the world. I can easily sit in a room for ten hours and write. The problem is, I usually don’t. I’m usually too busy worrying about how to spread word about my books that I don’t do the one most important thing every writer should be doing everyday – writing.

It came to my attention this last November that I do a majority of my actual writing during NaNoWriMo. That’s probably why the monthly event is a breeze for me to accomplish – because my writing passion has usually been building up all year long. The drawbacks of this are that most of my writing projects hover around the winter. This leaves the rest of the year with little to no fresh writing.

I need to change this. It’s ridiculous that my full-time job is writing, but I don’t write as much as I should. Time to start writing more and worrying less. I realized that by writing more, I’ll develop more fans who will want more of my work. Of course, I’ll still be working on social networking and marketing. I just won’t be doing it full-time.

Starting next week, I am going to start following a strict daily word count goal. 1500 words a day seems like a reasonable goal, considering I also watch my three-year-old son for about 9+ hours each weekday. Yeah…1500 sounds like a great goal.

Now I just need to figure out what projects to apply this awesome new word count goal to. I’m years behind on rewriting the third novel in my Expired Reality series. I have a prequel to a prequel to a prequel short story I want to write. And, I have Salt, the novel I worked on for NaNoWriMo this year – that thing is a mess.

Time to write.

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