Feb
12
2016

Practice Makes Perfect

Alright readers, I'm going to try something different. For the last year, I've been in learning mode when it comes to writing. I've been reading books, such as Stephen Kings, On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft and Orson Scott Card's book for How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy. Including K.M. Weiland's Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success and Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story. I've listened to a few writing podcasts, my favorite being Writing Excuses by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells.   I've also joined up with James Patterson's Teaches How to Write a Best Selling Novel at MasterClass.com.  I've supported other writers by alpha/beta reading with feedback, through my wonderful writing group and through masterclass.com. With all that research I'm now afraid to write. I'm afraid my words, descriptions, plot, etc. aren't good enough, because I've set such high standard on what to do and what not to do.   My problem: I can't perfect my talent unless I practice.   A solution: Write, and let all that beautiful wisdom I have learned come in naturally and at revision time. The solution is easy, right?  Well, maybe not so much for me when I struggle to find time for writing and don't have a developed habit.  What may work for me is to start with a simple idea to practice with and don't set any expectations, but perhaps include writing area topics.  Metaphor time: I need to learn how to walk again after sitting down for so long.   Something Different This is where my something different comes into play.  I'm going to write in this blog on one of my underdeveloped small ideas and just let it fly.  I won't work so hard on plotting, outlining, character development or arc's.  I'm just going to write to work on the little stuff and then move on to those tougher levels (that is tougher for me).  If you see the title post starting with [SKY] you'll know that this is me practicing.  From time to time I may include concept sketches and author notes at the bottom.  I plead with you to leave constructive feedback.  If I don't say thank you right away it's because I am too busy with my full-time BA job, young kids, and church activities, but I do appreciate your time and considerations.  
Jan
26
2014

Writing.Com a Group Replacement

 All right, it has been a while since I posted and I’m sorry for that. Writing doesn’t pay bills for me, at least not yet, so it hasn’t been at the front of my priorities. I did, however, have an experience that change my writing world this month, that I want to share. This month the local writing group that I was in, AHA! Scribes, disbanded. Mainly due to extremely low participation. I was committed and so was the group leader, but it seemed like we were alone.  I wanted to keep some sort of writing motivation so I had a choice, I could create my own writing group. I could probably get some of the writers I meet through NaNoWriMo, the Eastern Panhandle group. This would require a bigger commitment from me then I am ready to make right now. This left me with finding something else to help me keep writing. I searched for other local groups and when I couldn’t find them, I looked for online groups. That’s when I came across Writing.Com.  I don’t know much about it, but on the front page they offered reviews for writer and works for readers all for free. I gave it a whirl about four days ago from this posting. I signed up and created my first “static item” or piece of writing (I used a revised version of the Plastic Doll Pageant that I had been working on). In the mean time I searched through the list of reviewable content based on genre type and submitted 4 reviews on that first day. I received Gift Points (GPs), a type of tokens used in the site to help promote rewards for reviews. The GPs work like money and let you buy badges for pieces that you like a lot. Reviewing soon became addictive (especially if I could find short pieces). They have paid memberships that let you do more in the site, like saving templates to help you review better, more storage space, and better organization tools for your writings.  Overall I’ve been having fun using it and interacting with other members (everyone is very kind), but I wonder if somewhere there is a bad side to this site that I just don’t know about. It seems to good to be true. Does anyone out there have advice they can offer me on the usage of Writing.Com and its seriousness as a tool for supporting a pre-publish work?  My port: http://writing.com/authors/tevyn
Oct
24
2012

//TODO NaNoWriMo 2012

I’ve been thinking about NaNoWriMo and listening to the chatter.  My friend Maki recently posted his thoughts on it (NaNoWri…No?) and it sounds as though he is likely to participate but doesn’t know which story line to approach.  Unlike, him I am more hesitant to start on the same old, but know I should. I left off last year at only getting about 15k words written in my Enderlace novel, which means I still have a lot more I can write there.  I probably will continue with that and will let you know my progress.  I’ve created another stats page NaNoWriMo Stats 2012 for tracking. In other writing news:  I plan to join up with a local writing group in Charles Town, WV called AHA! Scribes.  They meet once a month and my first meeting with them is the second week in November.  I’ve told them how utterly green I am when it comes to writing.  I am excited and looking forward to a way to work on my skills. NaNoWriMo Stats 2012
Aug
24
2012

First Book Writers Workshop

I can list excuses as to why I haven’t been writing, and believe me they are good ones, but I won’t because I really could have tried.   In order to kick my bottom into gear, I have signed up for a Book Writers Workshop hosted through my (new) County Schools community program. The course is being taught by Lauren Carr (someone who I don’t know of yet).  Her website is http://mysterylady.net/.  Her twitter handle is @TheMysteryLadie. #Book Writers Workshop Have you ever thought of writing a book? Are you working on a book? Or have you written a book but don’t know if it is quite ready to be published? This 6-week, two-hour class on book writing will be taught by mystery writer Lauren Carr, the author of five critically acclaimed books. From addressing obstacles like time management to overcoming the Good-Parent Syndrome (You must sign up to find out what this is !), this course focus on teaching budding authors how to avoid the ten-plus most common mistakes made by new writers that can prevent their books from being a success. Note: Grammar and Punctuation are not on the list of most common mistakes. Included among the class topics:      * Making Time for Writing - Don’t Quit your day job yet!      * Character Development/Setting      * Research: Fact or Fiction * Conflict: Conflict is a Good Thing!      * Libel: How to Kill Your Boss Without Getting Arrested or Sued      * Book Length: Are We Done Yet? Whether your book is a memoir or mystery, historical fiction or horror, the Book Writers Workshop will help you take that next step to literary greatness.   This should get me back into the swing of things and on the right path too.  I’m jumping up and down with excitement to dedicate time into exercising my weak (and pathetic) writing craft.  The first day can’t come soon enough!
Jul
6
2012

Online Social Writers Are My Mentors

As you know from my previous post I frequently visit Terribleminds.com for writing motivation.  Last Friday (June 29th) Chuck posted up another flash fiction challenge.   This time his challenge was another simple one that I had time to contribute on.  He asked for a three sentence story kept under 100 words.   Chuck would then pick his three favorites and send the winners a copy of his recent book 500 Ways To Tell A Better Story.  I took a moment or two and came up with the following submission. With only my uneventful life of selfishness, I found myself at hell’s door. Floating in the darkness I tried to push through the weight of my collapsing world in order to collect just one thought before there were none left. “Why?” Six days after reading the 143 submissions, I feel completely “schooled” in the art of writing.  When I wrote my little story I thought it was a good piece and was hoping it was good enough to win, but now I think it is lacking creativity, plot, character connection, and more.  I learned so much by reading the contributions, that I now know my three sentence story is not a winner.   I decided to pick the top three from the submission and pick apart why I think they are so wonderful and where I was lacking.   First up: Barbara Engel The man stood on the dock in the sun and the smoke of his lit cigarette curled gently over his hand as he watched the emergency rescue team lift his son from the water. The sucess of his career hung about his shoulders in the form of a flawlessly tailored suit with bejewled cufflinks and diamond tie pin, but his face was ragged with loss. “I am a poor man.” he said. I enjoyed this, because it had a specific character.  In mine you couldn’t even tell if it was a man or a woman, for all the reader knew it could be a talking animal that was at deaths door.   The only characteristic I gave him/her was that they were selfish.  Just one trait, when in reality we have an abundance of mannerisms, traits, quarks, habits, and more.  I am skipping over the two typo’s for sucess and bejewled, as they aren’t important towards my growth, but I didn’t want my readers to come back and point them out.  Barbara also captured emotion with a facial expression.   My little story has only one emotion and it was only expressed in a spoken word.  Confusion of why this would happen to the man/woman/animal. What I learned from Barbara: Build a better defined character. Connect the main character and the reader with emotion.   Second: Caleb Herman I woke up in hell; a dark and shapeless place, where memory and pain run together into a cocktail that tastes like blood and motor oil. I heard her voice; she said she wanted me to come back; she pleaded, screamed and sobbed for me, the last thing I heard her say was “I’m sorry”. I had to get up; I ripped and clawed at the edges of that hell, trying to find something real I could hang onto; anything to pull myself out, then I felt her hand in mine, my eyes opened and I saw her say… “Daddy”. Caleb’s short story was filled with sensational details (I would hope that he is one of the top three).  His story is similar to mine in that it is about death, but he has details and the FIGHT to draw a reader through.  He has filled his entire story with sensation using taste, sight, sound, and touch.  Missing only smell.  My story has no connection to senses, nothing that made anything seam plausible or substantial.  Mr. Herman also included drive and power into his story by having the daughter’s fight to encourage her father, which led to him fighting to come back to her. What I learned from Caleb: Add connections to senses, make it tangible. Include motivation.   Third: Tony Southcotte The housebot analyzed the patch data, detailing her new emotional output and sensual capabilities. The first feeling of excitement fluttered through her system. The second, dread, as her salivating owner undid his belt buckle. Tony shows creativity and simplicity.  Simplicity is what I was striving for.  Not something that was over the top or that could be misunderstood for a partial story.  My story is simple, but missing so much detail to give it motion.  Mine is simple, boring, and pointless.  The second piece about Tony's story that caught my attention was the creativity he put into it.   Now some of you may say that it's not very creative, that robots have been misused and abused since their conception.  What Tony did was show me how disturbed the housebot's owner is to have patched the bot with emotions so that he could inspire dread and fear.  A tweak there, changes the story completely.  Consider the story again without the emotion patch and I think you'd draw a conclusion that the owner was just a lonely pervert.   With the patch adding human emotion to the story--he becomes a very sick and messed up *bad word here*.  I am definitely lacking creativity. What I learned from Tony: Simple is good as long as it's rounded. Be creative.   Thank you Thank you to all those writers who contribute online and help mentor other want-to-be writers. Rewrite Taking what I've learned from the above submissions and others from the challenge I am rewriting my three sentence story. I found myself floating down towards the ash covered iron gates of Hell with only the memory of my existence slowly fading behind me. Knowing that if I touched the opaque ground I would be trapped; due to pay the price for my selfishness, however my struggling did not delay the pulling assent. I searched my mind for a reason that would release me from my fate; if my father had stuck around, if Sheila stayed away from other men, if only I had more time, but time was almost gone and I had one thought left, why me. Better? Thoughts?
Apr
29
2012

Something Old: Filiaoflogain

While looking through old files I found a character background I wrote for a DnD character. I haven’t taken the time to re-edit, I thought it would be neat to see it in it’s original form.  The image art was also created by Jon Maki of Heroic Portraits. Enjoy!   Story of Filiaoflogain   Logain, a 6,000 year old sorcerer feels the years coming to a close and wants to pass on his being, but not to just anyone.  He takes a sample of his own blood to the Plane of Fire and appealed to the Mephits to raise a daughter for him to pass his knowledge.  After much persuasion they relent and grant the sorcerers request.  However, not all in either order were pleased with the mixing of the races. Logain took his daughter, he named Filiaoflogain, home and began passing on his knowledge.  While she appeared to be mostly human, she has the wings and powers of the Fire Mephits. She also has claws and ears somewhat smaller then a true Mephit.  She was quick to learn and eager to demonstrate her abilities.  Logain was patient with his apprentice but encouraged to take her time in her studies.  Shortly after her birth, Logain received an amulet.  While he was concerned, he continued to tell Filia as she was growing that it is an ornament and of no power, however he kept it around his neck and never removed it.  Her curiosity was aroused however and she often gazed upon it, but never getting a good look. About 16 years after she was given to Logain, Filia got restless and wanted to branch out on her own.  Logain warned her of the dangers of the world’s prejudices about mixed races and mephitis of this plane.  After a heated argument, Filia left her father and set out to see the world.  A few days of traveling went by and she found herself at a small town.  Upon entering she was ridiculed.  In her rage, she unleashes several bursts of fire, and then fled from the village in fear of herself.  Disheartened and confused about her identity, she decided to go back to Logain's cottage.  About a half mile from the cottage, she heard or rather felt an intense explosion.  Fearing the worst Filia raced to the cottage, only to find it in ruins.  Overcome with grief, she scantily noticed laughter, and turned her head towards the sound’s emission to find a shadowy figure leaving the scene.  She tore the remains of the house apart, but found no sign of Logain, except for the amulet, which appeared to have been intentionally hidden in the floor trap where she kept all of her secrets growing up. Filia was startled because she knew he would not leave behind the amulet.  As she studied the amulet she spotted a faded inscription around the edges, but only a few letter were discernible “SI M R”.  In the middle of the amulet it appears to be a map. Filia, still recovering from her grief vows to find out what happened to her father. She instinctively knew the answer was related to the amulet and set out to decipher its secrets. She scoured the rubble of her former home looking for anything else that could help her and that is when she came across a partial talisman that had almost the same look of the amulet’s map. She headed out to find answer and wisely chose to bypass the local town where she had been ostracized previously. She headed to the next town of Belkin. Her first stop was the town’s library. She asked the librarian if she could tell her anything about the amulet, but when the librarian saw it, she screeched “Child, get out of here, and never show that to anyone!” She tucked the amulet safely into her pack and headed to the cartographers house to show him the talisman. He looked at it, and explained the map on it was near the town of Simmur, and the seal on it was that of the Archmage Gralman. She leapt to her feet, grabbing the talisman and ran from the building. The cartographer was screaming a warning to her, but she was too far gone. She needed answers. What happened to her father? Is he dead? What does this amulet mean? She was taken to the Archmage Gralman directly when she showed the amulet to his acolyte. He eyed her mysteriously before handing it back to her. "If you wish to learn, you will go to this address and present them with this letter." With that, he handed her a letter ordering that she be accepted into the group and await further instructions. His acolyte escorted her to the door of the tower and left her alone in Simmur.
Apr
6
2012

Every Other Vampire Story

This morning I was inspired by a “Just the opening line” flash fiction challenge by Chuck Wendig over at terribleminds.com.   I had just been thinking about that on my drive into the office.  Where does this new dream start.   It’s not quite an R dream and I won’t go into details here, but there is a lot of mixed desires in it.   Here is the opening line I submitted at Flash Fiction Challenge: Just The Opening Line: “After loosing everything last year, I never would of thought that my nightmare inspired screams of torment would change my existence again.” Is it catchy? The story is a combination of elements from every other vampire story out there, however don’t loose hope there is one part that is original (at least I think so).  I’m not going to write the story out here, but I will give you a little tease by providing a partial summary. After loosing her family, June threw herself into her hobbies.  Surprisingly it wasn’t cats, but technology.   She turned her small apartment into a Smart Home of sorts.  She used open source bits and pieces.  Along with Kinect and multi-touch technology, she was able to setup a fully functioning security system that included automated answering services. This is where the dream started and I became a little obsessed with the technology, but I’m saving the Smart House blog post topic for later.   I started to get bored with June hanging in her Smart House isolated from the world, so I threw at her some strangers. June had a nightmare about her family drowning and awoke screaming desperately for help.  She could not get back to sleep, until she put on loud metal music and pushed the ear buds into place.  She soon fell back to sleep with a pillow over her head. --- At the front door of June’s house two officers approached, called by a worried neighbor.  The door scanned the closest and found them on file as an officer and granted emergency access levels.   This gave the cop the ability to view the house plans and camera’s from the front door touch panel.  It also gave them the ability to override the lock controls and enter the house. They knocked several times and even tried the open communication feature to call out to those within the house.   When they got no response they started looking through the camera views.   They saw June in bed, unmovable, with a pillow over her head.  Worried that there may have been a homicide the cops entered her house, approached her room, and carefully pushed the pillow aside. I am officially getting into to much details so I need to step this back a level. --- June awoke and kindly explained to the officers about her night terrors.  She fixed them a cup of coffee and let them tell her how wonderful her Smart House is.  Officer Sullone and Officer Larkin looked like brothers, with their blond hair and high check bones.  June felt the attraction to them, but ignored it just as she had been doing for a year.  As they were leaving they exchanged looks and a node from Larkin.  Officer Sullone took a hold of June by the wrist and quickly twisted her around so that she was now between the two of them and her back pinned against Sullone’s chest.  He pulled at her chin to extend her neck and whispered in her ear to sooth any words stuck in her throat.  Office Larkin leaned in and took a long sniff of her neck line.   Then placed a small kiss near her jaw.  Sullone released his grip, put catching her before she fell further to the ground.   June had lost her footing with that kiss.  The two Officers proceeded to leave to file there reports regarding her incident, leaving her completely baffled. I just want to write the whole story, but you don’t have time to read the whole thing.  So here is the REALLY summed up version. The officers are vampires. June smells really good.  They collected her and bind her (means they own her).  They decide to enter her into the vampire court auction.  She causes a ruckus.  She is sold to be killed.  King vampire spares her before the end.  He reads human minds.  She is re-bound to the King.  She gets spoiled, but causes war.  Her independence and blood changes the hidden vampire world. Death is only the beginning! Right?
Jan
4
2012

Another year, another opportunity to write!

A list of last years "writing" related progress and this years "writing" goals. In 2012 you can expect me to finish pieces that I've started, add some color and innovation to my writing ideas, and grow as an aspiring writer. [More]
Dec
5
2011

FF: 1WEEK5WORDS #1

This is our new Flash Fiction challenge, inspired by Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge.  I encourage everyone to join me in creating flash fictions.  In one week, Monday Noon EST to Monday Noon EST, we will write five 200 word (or less) short fictional story based on each of the five random words below.  These words are created using a random word generator Creative Random Word Generator – 5 Random Words.  This should only take about 10-15 minutes out of your day, but it will help kick start your creativity.  I’m asking everyone to join in, even if you are very young or not interested in being a writer, you can still be creative.  Try not to go over 200 words and keep the random word prominent in your story. 5 Random Words: scaffold necklace briefcase cactus guide My 200 word stories will be included in the body of this post throughout the week.  Please add yours to the comments of this post.  If you have a Twitter account then use the hash tag of #1Week5Words to signal that you’ve completed one short.  Unfortunately, there will be no prizes or winners for this challenge.  Everyone who contributes the five stories is an automatic winner!  Those who try, by creating one or two stories, are winners too.  However, they are just not as cool as those who complete the challenge.  No judgments here, just creativity and motivation to write. Scaffold Little Eleanor clung tightly to the scaffold outside their small China Town apartment in hopes that the consuming fires within the building wouldn’t force her to move.  Her knuckles turned from yellow to white while holding onto her pole.  Boom! Eleanor screeched and tried to move away from the window that had just exploded three feet away.  The debris flew out across the scaffolding and onto the street below.  A fiery splinter from the windows frame landed on the other end of her plank.  It burned into the wooden beam and the fire started too crept towards her tauntingly.  Eleanor moved as far as she could away from the heat and looked around for any hope of escape. “Hold on to me.” She looked around to see a masked woman dressed in black, floating in the sky, with her hands stretched out. “It’s going to be alright.” Eleanor nodded and released her death grip on the scaffolding.  The stranger carefully picked her up and took her slowly to safety. “My parents are still in there.” The little girl pointed up to the burning building. “Can you help them?”  “I will try.” Briefcase (a little dark) Movies frequently showcase explosive devices within briefcases.  Looking at it I guess it is really about mobility.  The other three bombs were wrapped in brown delivery boxes that I had carefully planted around Central Park.   The park officials had installed several new camera in attempt to catch me.  Just yesterday they announced to the public that the park was officially closed, not that anyone was actually visiting anymore.   I had made sure of that when I killing four people.   They didn’t understand.  I had no choice, the area needed to be cleared out for tonight’s visitors.  The alien aircraft should be entering the atmosphere soon.  I just needed to delay the SWAT team that now surrounded me.   The thumb trigger should keep them from shooting, but to bad I didn’t bring ear plugs to protect myself from their shouting.  It was the typical words. “Get down on the ground.”  “Put your hands behind your head.”   Crack… They’re here. I looked up to see a large cloud cover over our heads.  It was filled with glowing lights of red and yellow.  It’s time for my last explosive.  “Goodbye, you torturous animals!”  Click.
Dec
5
2011

Take Away From NaNoWriMo 2011

I am (not) a winner of this year’s NaNoWriMo 30 day 50k words challenge. I don’t get the awesome badge on my site that says Winner, but I do get the Participant badge. The final count for the month is 15,753 words. [More]

About the author

Hi, I am Jamie McCoard (also known as Tevyn or JMcCoard). This blog is about my thoughts and dreams towards becoming a published writer.  It's a long term goal.

If you would like to read more about me please visit About The Author.


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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.