Wednesday, December 4, 2019

I Have Stories To Tell! Episode the 11th: IWSG

Welcome to that time of the month, where the entire writing community, such as it is, comes together to commiserate in a raucous gabfest called the IWSG blog hop.

This particular post for me, kicks of an upcoming month of work-related nonsense that will a} culminate in a brand new roll-out of a seriously expensive payroll system in mid January 2020, and b} require a major reassessment of how I use my limited down time.

With that being said, let's get on with the post, which for a change of pace, will actually use an original writing related prompt instead of the killer optional questions presented in the monthly newsletter.

Some time in early November, I finally got my act together with my writing and began work on one of my partial slushies. I dutifully applied the editing notes and carefully made the point of view jive with the main narrative thrust of the story. Once I got that done, I actually got some original writing down.


One of the tangible results of jump-starting my writing is that now I'm giving serious thought on where I need to go with this story. I know exactly how I want to end it (this has been the one constant for the past 5 1/2 years with this story), so what I need to do in order to get there from here is starting to be the constant reminder/tickler when I write.

For those of you who haven't probably figured it out, 98% of the time, I'm a pantser when it comes to writing. I only plot stuff out 2% of the time, and that's only when I need a basic bullet point outline to get me back on track in a story. I normally print everything out when I write and stick it inside a three ring binder, and 98% of the time it works quite well as a breathable outline. But there are times when I need a little bit of help to get back on track.

I'll probably write out another bullet point outline sometime in the next month, so at the very least, I'll have a basic idea on what I have for characters (3-4 MC's and very peripherals), overall plot and where that particular plot is heading in a particular chapter.

So consider this to be a three cheers and a Tigger for me, in that I managed to find a tiny little writing groove to use as an oasis from the total chaos that is presently the real world.

{c} 2019 by G.B. Miller. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 24, 2019

I Have Stories To Tell! Episode the 47th: Challenges

Howdy ho-ho-ho-ho! Merry Thanksgiving to one and all, and welcome to another episode of Veterinarian Hospital, where the quacks have gone to the dogs...ummm...Welcome to It's A Man's Life in the Blogland...ummm....ummm....Welcome to the skewered literary world of G.B. Miller, where sometimes he really wonders why.

Today's post is about challenges, specifically, those that you inflict on yourself in the course of writing journey. And how you meet and conquer them.

Using me as an example, I like challenging myself when it comes to writing. Small, medium or large, I have no problem tackling most of my self-inflicted challenges (although the large ones are currently on the back burner, so to speak).

For example, I write adult fiction of the saucy kind. I like it and it fits my writing persona like a glove. Most other types do not, simply because trying to censor myself to fit other genres (i.e. YA) I find particular loathsome. But every so often, I would find myself twiddling with the idea of writing something super clean. A few years ago, I decided to act on that particular idea, and about a month later, I had a very nice clean short story that became the first story that I had traditionally published.

Another way that I like challenging myself is to write in non-traditional (for me) point of views/narratives. I have been told by a few editors that my current trilogy has a good narrative voice that is reminiscent of Douglas Adams, so that's something I can use as inspiration when I return to it.

Non-traditional for me is to not write in a 3rd person point of view, which is what most books are written in these days. I've increasingly finding myself wanting to write my stories in the first person, which is second most challenging way to write a story (first is writing in the 2nd person, which I have attempted. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy). So fare I've had moderate success in doing so (self-pubbed one book that was done in a mixture of 1st and 3rd), but this one (working title Time To Go) will be my very first written entirely in the 1st person point of view.

So far, editing has been a beast. I've had to edit every single page of the story so that everything is in 1st person. I've had extensive passages where I had a jumping of two and from of 1st and 3rd person. Two weeks of applying my editing notes got me up-to-speed, as well as 5 less pages to worry about.

I'm still taking notes as I go along, mostly to reconcile a few inconsistent plot points, but realistically it's gonna be a heavy slog to get this done. I originally started/left off in it back in 2014, so it's been a real adventure on trying to remember the plot points. On the plus side, I actually do know how I want to end it, and what the ending will be. The real adventure will be getting there w/o getting disgusted again.

Adventures in writing: when you really want to shake things up to the point of going so far against the grain that you get splinters just from looking at it.

{c} 2019 by G.B. Miller. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 17, 2019

I Have Stories To Tell! Episode the 46th: The Writing

Hello darkness, my old friend....I'm come to talk to you again. Because a vision softly creeping, left its seed while I was sleeping...
S&G "The Sound of Silence".

We all have a dark side of some particular kind to our writing personality. A majority of the time we keep it very well hidden, only letting it out very briefly when we need to draw some kind of inspiration/bring some clarity to our writing, then afterwards tucking it back in all comfy cozy.

However, there can be that rare occasion where the dark side can reappear and instead of just stopping by for a chat, will make itself comfy cozy in your humble abode and become a short term/long term live-in companion.

Such is the case with my current project, with the working title of "Time To Go".

Some time ago, I watched a few minutes of a movie called "Animal Kingdom". One scene in particular left a lasting impact on me, although I did not know it at the time. Many years later, that particular scene would be inadvertently drawn upon while I was looking around for a new project to work on (with me, looking around would mean either a slushie to work on or something fresh and original).

Anyways, at that particular day in my life I was experiencing some particular kind of short term aggravation. This in turn sent me down the rabbit hold of "writing while angry", which was something that I used to do early on, but slowly kicked it to the curb as I became more controlled about the hate/anger that I needed to inject into my writing.

So down the rabbit hole I went, and after searching my vast memory banks of my past/present, I came up with two rather revolting scenarios that might have a chance of melding together. So after mulling about it for a few minutes, this was the opening line of the novel, which I decided to write from a first person point of view (yes, I know, the majority of the books out there are not written this way, but I like to challenge myself from time to time).

I take a couple of hard sniffs, and after chewing back the rising tide of vomit, I knew it was time to go. You would think that after experiencing twenty-three straight days of pure hell, I would be long used to the smell by now. But I wasn't. In fact, after twenty-three days, my sense of smell was so acute that I could tell whether a mosquito was draining blood from a human or an animal.

Surprising (or disturbingly as I'm want to say), the words simply came pouring out of me at a rather fast clip, and about a month or so later, I had 3 full chapters and a sliver of a 4th totaling 50 pages written. By the time I got to that 50 page point, I decided to cry uncle. Why? Because the further along I got, the more it bothered me to write it.

I don't know about you, but when words are pouring out of you at a decent clip for a story that is increasingly making you squeamish and disgusted at the same time, it's time to end it and put it somewhere where it will make you think thrice about restarting it once you open that three ring binder and read the first page.

So I did.

But, as you can see, some half dozen years later, I returned to it. Deep down, I probably shouldn't have, but sometimes, when it comes to writing projects, you want to take the easier of the two evils, and for me, the easier of the two evils was returning to this book.

Not sure if I'll publish it when it's completed, but right now, I simply need a mental break from my trilogy project, and this project will provide that for me, no matter how revolting it may turn out to be in the long run.

Sometimes, as a writer, you need to excise those demons once a decade, so that you can continue being you doing the you that people love you for.

{c} 2019 by G.B. Miller. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 10, 2019

I Have Stories To Tell! Episode the 45th: Podcasting My Reading

Ever since I bought my first smartie-phone in 2018, I've been exploring the uniquely strange and wonderfully weird world of podcasts.

I've never been that much of an audiophile when it came to non-music entertainment. Sure, I used to listen to unabridged books on tape {yeah, I'm really dating myself here} back in the day, but I've always found it hard to actually sit still and listen to an audio book.

I've always been of the mindset that in order to listen to something {e.g. music or sports event} I have to be doing something that is just interesting enough so that I can pay attention to what I'm listening to, but not so interesting that I tune out what I'm listening to {which is why I don't listen to music while I'm writing}.

As you probably know, I do a lot of walking in my spare time. When I'd first got my smartie-phone, I naturally started listening to music while I did my walks. That quickly changed when I decided that, even though I had an unlimited data plan, I didn't really want to burn up my data willy-nilly {yes, I know that doesn't make sense, but this is how I roll}. So I quickly became enamored with podcasts, since I could download a crap ton at a clip, thus saving my data. Plus, podcasts were the perfect audio item to listen to while I do my walking {among other things}.

The purpose of this brief info dump is that I want to share with you the different types of podcasts that I listen to throughout the weeks, which in turn expands my horizons as a person and to a lesser degree, as a writer. Plus, aren't you just a little bit curious on what makes me me?

So without further ado, here are the 26 podcasts that currently makes me tick.

1} Aria Codes: I'm currently preparing for season two of this interesting podcast. Hosted by folk musician Rhiannon Giddens, this podcasts focuses on a particular aria from a well known opera and dissects it down to its various parts before it plays the entire aria. Yes, I don't like opera much, but this podcast has actually made me look at it in a different light.

2} Mobituaries with Mo Rocca: Season two is underway, and this podcasts covers people who you may remember from long ago or never heard about. Season one featured stories about Vaughan Meader, Audrey Hepburn and Eng & Chang, the Siamese Twins.

3} Business Wars: This podcast covers various wars/fueds between different companies in different industries. Previous subjects featured Facebook vs Snapchat, Harley and the Biker Wars, and Pepsi vs. Coke.

4} Which Game First: If you're into board games of all types, including RPGs (role playing games), then this podcast is for you. They do game reviews, interviews with game designers and so much more. I'm not that heavily into board games, but I find it a very interesting podcast to listen to.

5} Survival: This podcast covers  different well known events featuring people who actually survived the events, like The Donner Party, Great White Shark Attack, and Hurricane Camile.

6} Tides of History: If you're into early medieval, late medieval , as well as history up to the late 16th/early 17th century and everything connected with those time periods, then this podcast is for you.

7} American History Tellers: This podcast covers different events in American History. Previous topics included Tulsa Race Massacre, Civil Rights and Prohibition.

8} Unexplained Mysteries: The title says it all. Previous topics included Bog Bodies, ESP and the Bermuda Triangle.

9) Stuff You Missed in History Class: The title says it all. This one has been the toughest for me stay on top of {other podcasts I listen to two episodes at a clip} as it publishes about 4 times a week.

10) American Elections-Wicked Game: This is a long term limited run podcast series that will end with the 2020 election. It will cover every election, starting with George Washington and will finish with Trump v. Clinton. Pretty interesting so far and a must listen if you're into American Presidential History.

11) Digging Deep, The Robert Plant Podcast: This is basically Robert Plant going through his back catalog and discussing some of the various songs in it. Additionally, he is running a special on his website that ties in with season two.

12) Sports Criminals: The title explains it all. Previous subjects included Pete Rose and Lawrence Taylor.

13) Natural Disasters. The title explains it all. Previous topics include the 2011 Tohoku Tsunami and Mt. Everest Blizzard of 1996.

14) Bizarre Albums: This podcasts covers those odd one-off albums that were released unto an unsuspecting public. Previous subjects included Joe Pesci, Bruce Willis and Terry Bradshaw.

15) Kingpins: This podcast covers all sorts of true crime. Previous topics included Pablo Escobar, Bobby Tuna and the Cali Cartel.

16) Tales: Think the darker version of Grimm's Fairy Tales and this is what this podcast is all about.

17) Serial Killers: The title explains it all. Very dark and somewhat disturbing look at the underbelly of life around the world.

18) Mythology: The title explains it all. Covers myths from around the world.

19) Tyrus and Timpf: A humorous current events podcast hosting by two Fox News personalities (Kat Timpf also does stand-up and writes for the National Review). If your politics swing left, you probably aren't going to like it.

20) Shea Anything: A weekly podcast covering the New York Mets.

21) Parklandia: A podcast about a young married couple living the RV life and traveling/visiting all of the national parks. Currently in between seasons.

22) American Scandal: A podcast that covers all types of well known scandals. Previous topics included BALCO, Enron and Wounded Knee. Currently on hiatus as the host is doing a few other side projects (of which one is a limited run series about Jeffrey Epstein).

23 Spectacular Failures: A podcast that covers all types of well known business failures. Previous topics include U-Haul, Jim and Tammy Faye, and The Donald. In between seasons.

24) The Wild: One of the best nature podcasts I've come across. Currently in between seasons.

25) Dolly Parton's America: A nine part podcast series that covers the larger than life person that is Dolly Parton. I highly recommend this.

26) Finding Fred: If you guess Mr. Rogers, you get a gold star. A ten part series about Fred Rogers, his life and how he has influenced untold gerenaions of kids and adults. Highly recommend as well.

So my friends, I apologize for the length, but this is what makes me tick when comes to the audio word. While some of them may be bit odd, they all have one thing in common: they let me do me.

{c} 2019 by G.B. Miller. All Rights Reserved