Archive for February, 2019

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,, Friday February 20th 2015 at 11:39 pm, 02/13/2019,

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.

Writer’s Log – 02.12.2014 – 0730

Essentials – A Poem in the Key of Me

Always open with a word,
Caffeine in my coffee,
A song in my heart
But, not on my lips
Writing, not music, is my art.

Remember, first drafts are shit.
Shit is good … enough
Correct nothing!
Drafts are rough.
Never, ever look back
Until The End.

Writing is collaborative.
Every author I read
Influences my work,
A reader I need
To complete our story.
In your mind’s eye.

© Frank Darbe
02.12.2019 (all rights reserved)

What’s Next in a Writer’s Life? Finger’s Banging Keys!

My daily grind, write a thousand words in my WIP, edit chapters in a completed novel, and fix a story I wrote that I am not yet happy with.
And, I suspect, back to post daily. One more thing, I am two assignments behind in boot camp. Catch you later.

A Quick Goodnight in the Morning

After midnight, so, technically, it is morning.
Haven’t slept yet, and it’s just me wasting electricity with lights on downstairs.

I wrote a two thousand word short story this weekend. I have made progress with Twilight’s Child’s rewrite. Wrote some in Walking Shadows. Workwise, I could have done more, but weekends are family time, and it is difficult, as I keep telling my friends on FaceBook.

This week, I allowed my blog to lapse, becasue I get the idea that I am not doing it correctly.

This is a slip back into the past. This is how I do it now. I will get better.

To Not To Be: Eschewing Passivity-A Writing Prompt

Passive verbs are like Bilbo Baggins, (Paraphrased) “To be! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!” (The Hobbit: J.R.R. Tolkein)  Though perfectly good words, they act as literary parasites sucking the life from our prose.

Recognize Literary Parasites
Wanted “TO BE”
DELETED or “RARELY” useful: “RARELY” useful:

“DELETED: Hunt these words in your prose and DELETE them with a sharp stick.

The Zombie Test

The Zombie Test taught me in a creative writing class provides a simple test for passive sentences.
Adding “by zombies” after the verb.
Example: Joan was kissed (by zombies). Disgusting, but it makes sense.
(If you like zombies go for it. I don’t judge.)
Example: The Zombies kissed Joan (by zombies). Still digusting, but it makes no sense.

“RARELY” useful.
(Case 1) When writing the first draft, it is often the philosophy to throw words at the blank screen until “THE END!” At that point, real work begins.
A Second Draft forges a book. Like a Sword; tempered your prose in fire and blood. (Plese do not stab people with sharp verbs. )
PRO TIP that can be used by anyone.
Try writing actively in a first draft. Deleting “to be” before writing it develops literary efficiency.
Real people use passive constructions in a dialog.
I’m = I am (to be)
It’s = It is (to be)
Use them as necessary. Dialog is about characterization.

The Prompt: write a piece of Flash Fiction or a brief article of no more than 500 words without using “to be” verbs.

Writing a short Flash Fiction piece or a paragraph provides a simple exercise and develops active literary muscles. My solution appears below:

My Solution to the No To Be verbs.

Women’s Magic by Frank Darbe ©

Ghana sat cross-legged in a circle of oak roots illuminated by a sunbeam holding a red rubber ball and five jacks. No memory of arrival touched her mind. No concern for leaving shadowed her heart.

She examined the objects in her hands. A red rubber ball nestled in her palm. Ghana squeezed and found the ball between hard and squishy, bouncy. The jacks, parts of a game from her great-grandmother’s storied childhood “before them computers and phones stole your mind.” And with spoke words, grandma appeared between two of the trees.

Ghana tilted her chin up and glanced down her nose, not comfortable with Grandma standing. “Really?”

Grandma entered the circle and sat cross-legged. “Never talk to me that way!”

She bounced the ball. “Sigh! This a dream?” 

“Why you think so?”

“Uh, sitting on the floor without your electric chair.”

“Dreamtime, not a dream. Learn the difference.”

Ghana tossed the ball and jacks in the dirt and walked off between the trees. Just like Bam, she sat cross-legged in a circle of oak roots, ivory die in one hand and five nubby bones in another.

Grandma smile and sipped her tea. “Hot chocolate, sweetheart?”

“Bones and dice, really?”

“The magic child.”


A cup of hot chocolate appeared beside her knee. “Knucklebones and dice, like jacks but old, child.”

“Like you?”

“Ha-ha-ha-ha, you tickle me green sometimes.”

“Another of your magic tricks, Grandma.”

“Leave if you think you can.”

Ghana knew better. Grandma talked about Dreamtime and her childhood. Talked about women’s magic old as time. Remembering sparked feelings, wonder, joy, awe.

“Why teach me magic, now?”

“Birthed three daughters and four sons. Two of my girls died in childbirth. My youngest, Sheila, disappeared with some traveling man and never came home. My sons fathered grandsons.  Thought I would die without passing the skills. Your mama said you started bleeding?”

“Menstruation, grandma.”

“People make up all kinds of words. Simple ones work best.”

Ghana faced palmed Grandma. “Yes, I bled. Why teach me now.”

“Doctor gave me six months and not good ones.”

Ghana dropped the knucklebones and threw her arms around her Grandmother. “No. No!”

“We come and go, hon. Life. Now, I pass it on.”

Ghana rubbed her face dry. “Women’s magic.”

“Throw the knucklebones, Sweetheart.”

Pro Tip by Emma T. Gitani

Creator Emma T. Gitani Editor and Author.

Emma T. Gitani is a writer and editor of my acquaintance. As a warrior in the eternal conflict between telling and showing, she provides professional tips for the Author-Warrior.

Remember: SHOW don’t TELL!

Emma T. Gitani, Editing Services

Emma T. Gitani Author Page

A Writer’s Bootcamp and Other Exercises

JaCol Publishing‘s Bootcamp for Writers

My publisher, Randall Andrews, and his company JaCol Publishing hold boot camps for writers. I’ve taken done this before, twice. I wrote my first novel, Shift, during a boot camp, and the wrote the bulk of my WIP Shadow Walkers in another. Having the means, and recognizing that I spend more in coffee in a month that than the cost per month of his course I chose to go through this again.

Of course, I will write the sequel to Shift (Title will be a single wort, but I haven’t a clue yet.). Apart from the novel, the boot camp puts me in contact with a group of talented writers and provides an excellent workout to remove those unsightly flabby adjectives from my prose.

An Author’s Platform

This morning, Toni Crowe’s excellent ‘“When Does This Get Easy?” — The Myth Of Author Platform‘ documented the frustrations of building an Author’s Platform, provided a primer to follow her successes and left me envious as hell of her drive.
When I published Shift, I had no idea what an Author’s Platform might be. I dreamed of writing and publishing a book and waiting for the accolades to roll in. I should have realized that books, being oblong with edges did not roll all that well. I am playing catch up without a guide.
Her article comes with a series of steps that I intend to follow. I will report on those efforts as they occur.

Elon Musk’s Stainless Steel Starship (ExtremeTech)

If you ever read or enjoyed images of ships from the Golden and Silver Age of Science Fiction, you would have seen silver rockets sitting on their fins.
Elon Musk’s BFR/Starship resembles those designs, but not our of engineering nostalgia. Stainless steel is their go-to material for good reasons, as Ryan Whitwam of Extreme Tech Explains.

“SpaceX is working on the initial prototype of the Starship rocket (formerly BFR) that could eventually carry people to the moon and Mars. However, CEO Elon Musk recently announced a significant design revision that seems counterintuitive at first. Instead of aluminum and carbon fiber, the company has decided to build the Starship out of stainless steel. Now, he’s explaining why. “

“Elon Musk Explains Why the Starship Will Be Stainless Steel” By Ryan Whitwam on January 24, 2019 at 8:17 am (

Do I Need to Redesign My Website?

Went looking for writers on WordPress, the agenda being to follow them, and when it is appropriate, quote them on the site to get exposure for my website. I found “26 Best Minimalist WordPress Themes for Writers,” which indicates websites that are better for reading and easy to manage.
I suspect that I need to research writers’ websites and make mine more like theirs.

What am I Waiting For?

I have four complete novels, along with my writing, I am going to edit them and get them ready for Beta Readers and publishing.

Not Never on Sunday, but Almost

Writing on Sunday’s is difficult. Family, you know. The pull your heartstrings, drag you this way, that way. My wife, tried of the entire family, minus the dog (herself include) spending time our time in different rooms on different computers doing different things is unhealthy.
She is right, of course, but don’t tell her I said.

A writer, has all this stuff in his brain, the story threatening to blow out his forehead if he does not release the pressure through his fingers.

I did a bit, pecked through the screen on my tablet. I wrote a poem this morning, “A Writer on Any Given Sunday.” I added five hundred words, give or take, to Shadow Walkers.
Not enough to please my restless mind.
Now, late at night, I can work for a while, now that the call of the blog has been answered.