Archive for the ‘ Blogging ’ Category

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.

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.

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 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.

Things to Do. Stories to Write.

Yesterday, I wrote “How Jimmy Dees Ate the World.

Syinopsis: A who is driven to atheism by mommy issues accidentally swallows a splinter removed from under his fingernail and forced by the thing in his stomach to eat. After emptying his fridge, he eats the refrigerator followed by his house and moves on to the rest of the world only to find his Mother’s stingy and vicious God chose Jimmy to end the world because Jimmy never asked God for so much as a pissant.

The story was fun, but so far the few who commented on it treat it like some odd dog left in in a lump on their porch by a stray dog. Ohe well, I write for myself, and it is rough.

Things To Do

01 – Work on novel daily.
02 – Write a story to submit to Whortleberry Press, for Strange Mysteries 8 with a theme of “A More Perfect Union,” and a max length of 3000 words.
03 – Write a story to submit to Serial Magazine. They have a “Pulp” editorial policy and are looking for 500 – 10,000 words stories. The 7,500 – 10,000-word range is serialized. Genres are action-adventure, science-fiction, mystery, fantasy, horror, thriller, romance, and westerns.

Writer’s Log 01.27.2019 – 1055

Yesterday I faced the beast embodied in a big photo of the seat of my pants. Non-obligatory pantser joke. Realizing my novel went in the wrong direction, I backed up and figured out where I went wrong. I asked questions about motivation, conflict, how scenes contribute to the end.
I’m losing some words, but it will be a better book.


I know that may seem hyperbolic, but anti-depressants put my mind together, and without it, I will be mired in self-doubt and playing Wizard 101 for hours between starting a new novel every other day before flushing it down the crapper. There but for the grace of Doctor Sitapati go I.
Some may be taken aback by my confession. Some may label me weak, or crazy, or DEPRESSED, which society often considers worse than the others.
If they break an arm, they see a doctor. No harm no foul.
If they have cancer, they see a much more expensive doctor. It’s their health, and there is no shame in taking care of themselves.
People who are depressed, or suicidal, or schizophrenic, or labeled as having some emotional problem, should tough it out. THAT IS WRONG! If you are sick, you are sick. Don’t be shamed or feel ashamed. GET HELLP!

Now to get to work.

A Pantser’s Lament

For a pantser, the potential of the blank screen is cocaine shot straight to the third eye creating a pineal high, an occult fusion of creativity and melatonin. Nothing is holding the story to the earth, and you can fly to Andromeda or places much father and stranger.
The Downside is the inevitable crash when your story wonders into a dismal swamp in the bowels of a pointless pit. Your characters followed a freeway sign reading, “So what happens next, asshole,” and stand sphincter deep in “quickmud, abandoned by conflict, comfort, and subplots.

The Inevitable result of this unmapped waypoint in a writer’s peerless prose is the decision to abandon all hope yee who write yourself here, or regroup and rethink where your story took its left turn in Albuquerque. (Remember this decision. I’ll get back to it later.)

For me, that point is fifteen thousand words into my work in progress, the first of a Space Opera Trilogy. I began knowing how the first book started and ended. As for the rest, I have visions of mutated sugarplums dancing in my head., my series antagonist, and a frontal lobe full of MacGuffins. Sometimes, it is just a fusion of an aha moment and despair fixed by jumping back a scene or two, adding a new character to subplot to the mix, or just muscling past the swamp freezing your short and curlies. More often, a pantser throws up metaphorical arms and returns to the potential of the blank screen and moves on while pretending to be older and wiser. (The former is always true, but the later almost never.

Step 1: Cry it Out Dude

No, I am not suggesting you go biblical by rending your clothes or moving right into sackcloth and ashes. The pointless pit where a Pantser finds the story leads depresses and disheartens the creator and creativity. Our darling is drowning in foul odorous quickmud, and that requires a moment of grief. I am not suggesting a side trip through the five stages of grief recovery; you’ve lost your narrative direction not your dog or cat. I recommend a cup of coffee, no more than a glass (oh hell make it a bottle) of wine, or a joint. Take the last two under advisement. Alcohol loosens inhibitions but depresses the mind. Pot leads to a relaxed sense of well being but can cause cases of the munchies and lead to, “fuck it, dude, and light up another.”

Step 2: “Whatta Ya Lookin At, Back to Work!” Hector Barbossa1

Feel better? Good. Remember that choice in Paragraph 1? I told you we would get back to it.
Okay, you are fifteen, twenty, fifty thousand words of peerless prose with nowhere to go. Probably, you got her through a combination improvisation and declaring, “Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead. You’ve sunk your plot in quickmud by crossing that swamp without a support structure. No, no, no, I’m not suggesting you change your authorial religion from Pantser to Planner. The whole point of this exercise is to do the minimum amount of work so you can find a rope and pull your characters out of the mud. Unless you want to dump the last hour, day, week, or month of writing, do not enter the Abandoned Hope Hotel. Every pantser must make this decision for themselves but for efficiency’s sake, regroup, especially if the word count is a substantial portion of a novella or novel. I have found two approaches that help me get back on track. (No, you don’t have to use them both, just find one that works for you. )

Structure, Structure, Structure

One of my professors of creative writing said, “classic western story contains thee acts, a beginning, middle, and an end.” You are not going to turn into a “Planner” if you take a moment to write on note cards (old school) or make a comment in our manuscript a basic outline of your acts.
Act 1: 25% of your book containing your hook, your instigating incident, and your point of no return where POV character commits to the story.
Act 2: 50% of your book, with rising action where the character tries to solve the problem where the stakes of each action get higher and lead to the final failure and the black moment where everything seems lost.
Act 3: 25% of your book containing the climax and denouement (resolution). With that minimum blueprint, most of the time you can see where your book went wrong and put it back on track.

Arc Your Characters

In my experience, a lot of Pantsers write character-driven stories, by asking themselves what would the character do next. Fix a character disaster by creating a character arc for your POV character. An arc resembles an arch. In the beginning, your instigating incident creates tension that the character tries to relieve through some form of conflict (mano a mano, emotional, legal). Reduce character tension by defeating whatever causes the character’s problem. A few cards or comments in your document can reveal the points of conflict and stress and get you back on the road.

“Let Me Sum up” Inigo Montoya2

This is neither a comprehensive list nor an attempt to turn readers into Planners. These approaches worked for me. The intend and purpose is to find the quickest way back to writing the novel. I do not find troubleshooting narrative problems fund or pleasant. There are other approaches I did not touch. For instance, narrative cohesion can fall apart when a character makes an abrupt change without having gone through the process that causes change. (example: POV character is a dynamic leader in the first scene but turns to a follower by the middle of the book.) A simple character dossier can fix this, and changing the dynamic question to “What will my character do next and does it fit the characters personality. Finally, I started writing this for myself, and now I have solved my problem with the work in process, and its times for me to get to work.

1: “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl “

2: “The Princess Bride.””

Achievable Goals

This morning, I continue officially writing two Novellas at the same time for two different Series. One of them, Skyjacker, I’ve set my goal to 1000 words a day, minimum. Only once since I started have I failed to reach that goal. Even the most difficult days (weekends mostly) I managed to find time in my day to complete the task and more. Beginning yesterday, I took up Spell Thief, fantasy Novella Series. After writing around between 1500 and 2000 words in Starjacker, I wrote five hundred in Spell Thief.
This morning, I wrote 500 words in Spell Thief, no problem. My Achievable goal for that Novella has been reached. I can now move on to write in Starjacker.
Lest I forget, I started this post.
Another thing I need to do is edit Chennizzi.

(1) Starjacker, Part I of Knowledge’s Ashes is 14,246 words in length.
(2) Old God’s Shadow, Part I of Spell Thief 8772 words.

I now, some people will call me seven kinds of fool for writing o novels at the same time. But, hey, it can’t hurt to try.