“Shift” by Frank Darbe

Shift – A Science Fiction Novel by Frank Darbe

It Has Been a Long, Long Time

Well, here I am again, back at the wall I wail to.

Older, but no wiser,

I consider this a place where I can jump-start

past the brain fog,

the false starts,

and procrastination driven stops,

the video game grave

where I bury my mind

and waste my time.

So it’s me again.

If you are listening,

(anything’s possible)

let me know.

Condensing the Words

compression of a written or spoken work into a more concise form.” Merriam-Webster

The water cycle wherein moisture in the atmosphere condenses into droplets of rain, dew, or fairy frost flowers on a cold window is known as condensation.

An analog of the water cycle exists in poetry where we condense a line by removing words that are unnecessary or redundant to the meaning and theme of the poem is also knows as Condensation.

How does that work, exactly? Let me use the previous statements in examples.


The Water Cycle

By M. Frank Darbe


Atmospheric moisture condenses

Rain’s drops,

Morning’s dew,

Winter’s steamy breath,

Fairy’s frosted windows

Nature’s Artworks


See what I did there? I condensed a somewhat dry sentence explaining the Water Cycle into a poem.


Water Cycle’s Analog

By M. Frank Darbe


Poet’s passion condenses

Word drop lines,

Morning’s passion,

Lover’s steamy breath,

Lipstick on wineglass

Emotion’s artistry.


Condensation is a poet’s tool used to create crisp images. We could fatten these brief poems with conjunctions. Using determiners like the, I, she, and others, I could expand the poem’s waistline and stretch out its seams. If I were to convert those poems into a line of prose, those words would be necessary. The strict rules of grammar are not needed for a poem.

Poetry, in most cases, is not prose. If you can make the images created by your work sing without unnecessary words, then exile them to Webster’s darkest realms.

Change is Sometimes Good, But Always Frightening.

I ran across a post today on Medium by Turner Stories, which is linked to a blog, and all of it designed to create a platform.

The Earth’s End

“A short fiction story about the future, climate change, space travel and survival”
N.A. Turner

That Medium post links to a Blog:

Turner Stories

This is a model for what I want to do. By the end of March, this blog will be converted to the foundation of my platform.

Lots of work to do.

Fast Writing and Success

Success as a writer means finishing and publishing documents. Selling a few books would be nice, but marketing is another thing altogether. Now, my thoughts are turned full on to the production process. My process is slow because I have developed bad habits. It is time to examine those habits holding me back and rid myself of them.

Write Don’t Edit

I’ve heard this for years, acknowledged it, and ignored it. Editing the story, tinkering with the text, correcting misspelled words, cleaning up your copy, and any other Euphemism a writer cares to throw up in defense is pointless. MIND YOU: I DON”T PRACTICE WHAT I PREACH HERE.

Yesterday as part of the Writer’s Boot camp, were performed a ten minute exercise using the prompt, “At noon, the last camel died.” The point of the exercise is to get a clear idea of the narrative your want to write in the mind, and sit down for ten minutes and write. No editing. No going back. No agonizing over the perfect word.
Work with the premise that all first drafts are shit, and get the shit on the page fast as possible so you can begin the real work.

I have a habit over the years of constantly tickering with text as I write. If I get the dreaded read underline that tells me I misspelled a word, I go back and fix it. If i knonw tha tI did not capatlize “i” fix it. Constant tinkering does not allow your narrative to flow, and it slows the writing down to a crawl.

I have caught myself doing that here in this post. I should be writing, getting the words on the page, not hitting the wrong key and backspacing to clear the word. If I just get it down, I can edit later.


Learning an Unlearning Habits is Difficult

So here I find myself working to unlearn bad habits. Whetinger I am pantsing, plantsing, or planning I should just sit and touches those keys to bring out that sigh of a shitty story. If I can beat this, I willl overcome my lack of output.

Changing my life begins now.

Todays Lesson in Writing: The Writer’s Button Box

In Twilight’s Child (Rewrite) I ran into a problem/opportunity, they can be indistinguishable. I had removed an entire subplot. In brief, the Protagonist, Alec Thisbe, has a sister who was a “seventh son,” the seventh son of the seventh son down seven generations.
Yes, she is female and I have changed the rules to reflect that mortals, as opposed to the Fae, got it wrong. Every firstborn of her family line back seven generations was female, so she has the innate ability to use Fae Glamour (Magic).
I wrote her subplot because my protagonist for this first novel is a Changeling, an immortal Fae left in the crib in the place of a mortal child taken as a hostage in the Tithe to Hell.
I deleted the subplot because I had toyed with writing for a younger audience. I have changed my mind, so his older sister is in, and her dalliance with Puck is back in.

Now, I had thought I deleted those scenes, and it would have been a real pain in the tuchus to rewrite. I just pulled them out of an early copy of the novel.

Every thing I’ve written has had scenes or paragraphs deleted. I have a file where I keep those old versions. I consider it like keeping button box. Because I am old as dirt, I will explain for those who do not understand the reference in this throw away age.

My mother and grandmother kept buttons off old clothes or spares when they had to buy buttons in a box. When one of us kids would lose a button, an event so regular as to be the norm, they would have a source of buttons to make repairs.

My writer’s button box came to my rescue.

On the Vanishing Habits Habitat

I am not a member of alliteration anonymous. Just thought I would write that.

I have discovered that the phrase, Old Habits Die Hard, is, at best, inaccurate. For some weeks, I kept my daily blog for weeks—weeks I tell you — and then ran into articles that told me I did it wrong. I’ve discovered Blogging daily had become a part of my discipline, and without it, I faltered.

I did not stop writing, but I have found it more difficult without this daily habit. Today, this afternoon actually, I chose to dump the way I am supposed to do this and move back to a daily post.

Twilight’s Child Progress

I have slammed up against one of my lousy habits with Twilight’s Child (the name may change). I now finish novels; now I need to learn to edit them. I am having trouble. Other than a few ongoing projects, I intend to bull my way through. If I can’t read through it who will, after all?

Writer’s Boot Camp

The Boot Camp goes well. Having done it before, these early phases are a bit of a chore, but it changes a bit from run to run and we will soon be over this phase.

A Cat by Any Other Name

I began a short story, A Cat by Any Other Name, and wrote 504 words. I expect it to hit 2000. Oddly, it started as a Fan Fiction for Forgotten Realms. One thing led to another. I am gong to start writing Fan Fiction and posting things on Fan Fiction sites to get people to know my name.

The Writer’s Stretch

Writing is like an athletic sport utilizing a specific set of muscles, all of which exist inside the brain. The athletic writer, not to be confused with the athletic supporter, should never begin a haiku, a short Story, a novella, a novel, or a multi-generational epic without stretching those writing muscles.
Stretching the writing muscles is not as straightforward as using a band beneath the pad of your foot and pulling the anterior tibial, posterior tibial, and peroneal, tibial muscles in a warm-up exercise. A writer’s stretch exercises those critical portions of the brain that feed words to your fingers.
My morning, afternoon, evening or bathroom stretch (Yes, I write using my IPAD on the throne, so don’t judge,) uses the following sequence.

  2. Turn on the computer and turn off your internet. (Cute Kitty Videos and Porn are signposts on the road to Hell’s own writer’s block.)
  3. Set a ten-minute timer.
  4. Close your eyes or put on a black silk blindfold. Thee should be o be in every bedroom.
  5. Write the first noun that comes to mind.
  6. Follow with the first verb.
    NONOBLIGATORY CHEERING SECTION: You can do this, ! Congratulatory slap on my/your butt. Do not invite a friend to slap you. See Step 2. Road to. Hell, dude.
  7. Continue writing sentences that make sense or strings of random words into a salad.
  8. Throw in an adjective or two. (Yes, I know adjectives suck your prose into the darkest pit of Acheron, but this is a warmup, not an editing session.)
  9. Is that fucking timer still running?
  10. Did I forget to turn on the sound?
  11. Maybe, if I just take off this fucking silk mask.
  12. No, fingers on the keyboard.
  13. Write like it means something.
  14. Write like your kissing the most beautiful (man, woman, cat, alien from Doxquiticor, or yourself because I don’t judge) object on earth.
  15. And, beep, beep, beep.
  16. Now, I’m ready to sprint.
    Ten minutes are up. Sometimes you will write more, and on others less. The number of words written in your Writer’s Stretch is irrelevant. Meaning is irrelevant. Grammar is just a damned annoyance created by your inner editor who is dressed in a bustier and holding a whip.
    You’ve set your brain free. Let it create something packed with words.

Review: The Paradise Snare

The Paradise Snare (Star Wars: Han Solo, #1)

The Paradise Snare by A.C. Crispin

A. C. Crispins The Paradise Snare (1997) came with a high recommendation from a friend who read it as a teenager shortly after its first publication. With Disney’s acquisition of the Star Wars franchise, the new owners demoted “The Paradise Snare” from Cannon to Legend. After seeing the somewhat disappointing Solo: A Star Wars Story, I caught up on the Star Wars universe, and the book fun but something of a disappointment.
After a brief glimpse of a semi-derelict Troop Carrier, the Author stops the story to tell the reader the history of Garris Shrike. Had I picked up the book in a bookstore and read the first few pages, I would not have bought it. I persevered through what writers call a data dump. The story picks up speed, for, as  with the troop carrier, “it was still capable of hyperspace travel, even though it was slow by modern standards.”
Crispin’s Hahn Solo differs from the cocky, arrogant and confident smuggler and crook. As I followed him through his first grand love affair and loss, I found the romance element unsatisfying. His work with drug smugglers and the use of religion as an addictive substance is the highlight of the book. It made a better beginning to the amoral smuggler happy to shoot first when threatened
This is not a book that will change your life. The brightest point of the novel is its entertainment value. I recommend it to readers of Star Wars Novels, everywhere.

View all my reviews

Boy, Have I Been Here Before

Book in Thirty Days. (Yes, I’ve been here before. I’m back, baby!) So, if I am going to make a go of this, I need to get into this system of a book or a publication every thirty days. If I can not make it in thirty days, then I need to find out what I can do.
Screw Yoda, Do not Do, Try, for first, you must find the limits of your abilities.

Book In A Month

Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D. (she did indeed pile it higher and deeper) wrote her “fool-proof system.” Well, she’s never met this fool. And though they do say, “Fool Me Once, Shame On You. Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me!” I have deiced to go for that second fool.

Step 1: Read the Necessary Material

Having read the material, I am now at a critical juncture, beginning. Today there are two things that I must do., one sentence summary and a map of the story idea.
Okay, okay, three things. In the past, I thought of this system as another outlining system, but it is not. Today, I have to start writing a stripped down version of the story with no subplots and minimal characters. It is “The first Draft in a Month, not a complete epic novel in a month.”

Day 1: One-sentence story summary

Pilot Pat Hand wins a Starship in a game of poker with one caveat that she will take the former owner outside the sector and finds herself at the center of a war between criminal organizations for an artifact that will change the course of history, forever.

Day 1: Story Idea Map


Main Story Idea

Massive Criminal Organizations capable of corrupting entire planets seek a secret so devastating that it can change the course of human history.

Hook/Catalyst/Inciting Incident

When a strange woman sits down at Pat Hand’s poker table, she does not know the woman will let her win a space ship as long as Pat agrees to take her where she wants to go, or that rival criminal cartels are chasing the woman known as “Red” and will kill anyone to get her.

Act 1 Turning Point

Jumping into hyperspace with no computer is akin to madness, a massive bluff against all of space and time is more likely to end in disaster than reaching a destination. After a short battle in outer space above the planet, Pat must jump to Hyperspace before mercenary pilots hunt them down and kill them.


Major Characters

Pat Hand: Pilot and gambler without a ship
Lady Death: Red Spade, “Red” (Codenames used for Protagonist 2)

Minor Characters

Joker One – A gambler trying to pick up Pat, linked to one of the criminal organizations.
Joker Two – Another gambler.
Joker Three – Third Gambler.
Pilot A.
Pilot B.


Malzibar V or Malzibar E – Resort world in Sector 5 controlled by Organized Crime figures.
Rogue’s Bluff – Ship Pat wins in the game of Poker


Ownership Token – A simple gold token that is the ultimate proof of ownership keyed to DNA and Brain Waves of an individual. Supposedly unhackable, though there are rumors.
Hovershaw – High tech Rickshaw with hover Engines and, sometimes, onboard weapons.

A Minor Course Correction

Writing will always surprise you. Even with a degree, when you decide to push it to the level of a 9to5 job, things change. There can be no Artistic Angst attack, you have to get up every day and do it.

You have to think strategically about what work to put first and where to take your career. I have one book published. (Thank you JaCol Publising and Randall Andrews.) That is where I find myself.

I am close to finishing a “Walking Shadow,” five or six scenes. I have four other novels written and in need of editing. I am choosing to change my writing schedule to put more emphasis on getting the novels ready for publishing and writing a few short stories and novellas to get stuff out faster. We will see how this works out.

Red Sofa Salon and 10
Ways to Use Scrivener for Poetry Manuscripts

Often when I need a resource, I find it simply does not exist or is not in a form useful to me, and I end up cobbling together the resource from various sources.
Red Sofa Salon’s 10 Ways to Use Scrivener for Poetry is a very welcome exception.

Scrivener is well known for being a great writing tool for novelists, screenwriters, and long-form non-fiction writers, but when my friend mentioned she used Scrivener for poetry manuscripts, I was intrigued. As a poet, I’d always used Microsoft Word, with quite a bit of frustration. I usually write first drafts by hand in a notebook, then type them in Word, and save multiple files of subsequent drafts. The biggest problem was putting together a poetry manuscript. I would copy and paste each poem into one big file, which became unwieldy. It was especially tricky to keep track of subsequent versions of poems once the big file was created; each time I edited a poem in a single file I’d have to remember to update the main manuscript doc as well. I’d also have to save multiple versions of that main file with different types of front matter depending on where I was sending the manuscript (some places want acknowledgements, some don’t; some want a title page with contact info, some without; etc.). And worst of all, it was really annoying in Word to try to mess around with the order of poems in a manuscript––cutting and pasting them throughout the main doc, and then manually updating the TOC.

10 Ways to Use Scrivener for Poetry,” Red Sofa Salon, redsofasalon.com/10-ways-to-use-scrivener-for-poetry-manuscripts/, Friday February 20th 2015 at 11:39 pm, 02/13/2019, http://www.redsofasalon.com/10-ways-to-use-scrivener-for-poetry-manuscripts/trackback/

Started building the manuscript for a Poetry Chapbook using Scrivener. I kind of have a vision of what I want, but I expect this to be a learning experience that will teach me the ropes of putting together a self published book.

Mood is a big thing. For a while, I had a period of time when I felt happy. Not sure what hapened, whether this is just normal, or if I am depressed more than usual. Just have to keep on keeping on. Tired tired, tired.