This week author H.M. Gooden joins the podcast for a conversation.
Find her books all over, including Amazon.com.
Storm Fleet, the first book in the Pillar Universe series is free wherever fine ebooks can be downloaded.
Thanks for listening!
Hello, readers and writers!
This is Practice Makes Practice, a series of blog posts chronicling my process and projects as an author. I’m Tim Niederriter, author of science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian fiction. But enough about what I try to do. What have I actually been doing this past week?
Just a brief update today. I finished editing the third Pillar Universe novel, Ice War, over the course of the week. Sent it to across the pond for proofreading on Thursday, then got it back super quick, on Friday. That book is now out in ebook, with print to follow in the near future. I am very excited about this book. I think it is by far the best of the three in the series so far.
Today I dive into serious writing for book four of the series. This is going to be a bigger book than the prior three, and I’m excited to finally write forward in this story after so long. The goal is to do fifteen-minute sprints for four and a half hours each day. It will be interesting to see how much I can get done with a bundle of time like that.
In brief, editing is done for now. Writing has begun anew.
Thanks for reading.
Check out my amazon store page and read or buy to support my work.
I’ll write again soon, though daily I can’t quite manage on my own. Amy and all support is appreciated.
Write. Read. Review.
Hi folks. I missed the post yesterday, so take a seat “Moment of Candor…” Time for Word Works.
This time, on Word Works I am going to post a few hundred words from an early rough draft I made a couple months ago. In this case, they are from the very start of the book. See what you make of this, and I’ll be back on the other side to comment on what I reread.
Two men, both young, dark-skinned and built like trucks who just decided to act like humans sat in the dingy recesses of a bar as lunch wound down. Gabe, out hero, poked at the sauce-laden foil basket where his chicken wings once lay with his fork. He sighed.
“Thanks for making it over, bro.”
Jax shook his head.
“Sucks it’s so far.”
“How long it take you?”
“More than an hour.”
“Heaven forbid you drive two.”
“Might have been two. I was rocking. Don’t remember when I left.”
“Sure you don’t.” Gabe smirked. He picked up a glass, more water than whiskey now.
“Still sucks and you know it,” Jax said.
“Better than you.” Gabe took a long sip of his water-whiskey.
“I said thanks.”
“My ears musta been ringing. I missed it.”
“There you go. I heard that one.”
Gabe swished his glass. All water left. At least it tasted that way.
“You done?” he asked.
“If you are, we can roll.”
“Where else you wanna go?”
“Eh, where else is there? Want another drink?”
“Only if you’re buying.”
“Right, you gotta save. How’s your leg?”
“Feeling fine. Doc says not to strain it though. Could re-injure the tendon or whatever.”
“How much longer.”
“Gabe, you ain’t seriously out.”
“No. I’m serious. No more football, not for a long-ass time.”
“Now that sucks.”
“Royally.” Gabe took another sip. He spat water into the cup, wishing it tasted more bitter, less sweet.
“How’re you gonna get by? Pay for next term?”
“I’m saving. You know it.”
“As a mechanic? How much can you—”
“I’m doin’ more than shop work.”
“What kinda more?”
“Stuff they need big guys for.”
“Brother, you never heard of power lifters have ya?”
“Not construction, okay, okay. Then what?”
Gabe’s massive shoulders rose and fell. At six foot eight inches, not many tight ends had been bigger.
In the past.
“Don’t worry about it,” Gabe said. “My dad’s old buddy lets me work on his team.”
“Usually its just two of us.”
“You got a partnership with some old dude?”
“He’s not that old.”
And that’s the clip. Lots of dialog, I know. I think most readers will notice the staccato of conversation right away. At the very beginning the narrator’s voice intrudes a bit, but mostly this is just two characters talking with very little description.
I don’t normally write this way for a stretch this long, especially at the beginning of the book. A problem I see here is this opening doesn’t do much to say the genre of the book. Yeah… It has a ways to go.
Anyway, let me know what you think of the excerpt, of this post, or anything else that interests you related to my work or posts.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with a Moment of Candor.
To support this blog, check out my books. Ice War is out now, and that’s book three of the Pillar Universe series, so it’s a great time to jump into book one, Storm Fleet. Check it out. And good luck to you, reader.
Welcome to Craft in Reverse, a blog series where I take a piece of writing advice and deconstruct it both in the positive and negative.
This week: Write every day.
This is great advice for beginning writers, and can be really useful throughout a writers’ entire lifetime if it suits a given person. For about the first three or four years since I started writing, I followed this rule pretty closely. The results weren’t well-written books (I was new to the craft and a teenager, after all) but I grew a lot in my writing skills. My first big break from writing every day was as a first year student in college. I took a few months break but missed writing enough to come back and deliver the goods with some of the biggest individual writing days I’ve ever had, though I didn’t go back to writing every day.
Breaking the every day habit was an early step toward my personal move toward less relaxed writing, a very negative path I’m trying to leave to this day. For a month or so I’ve tried to write some kind of fiction every day, in addition to the editing my current series, but not in the numbers I want. Starting this week or next I want to try writing more substantially every day to start building the habit again.
So, what are the pitfalls of the advice?
First of all, not everyone has the disposition to write every day. Some writers (Such as Eric Flint and Nathan Lowell) are binge writers, who power through books then take a break from writing for some period of time. I’ve experimented with this approach as well (Though I find it more satisfying to keep the breaks to a minimum, personally). As long as the writing gets done to the writer’s satisfaction, how often they put words down may no matter so much. Like all writing advice, this tip can become dogma, and dogma is dangerous in every form and arena.
So write every day to get used to writing. Or don’t. As with all advice, it’s up to each writer, individually.
Thanks for reading.
You can support me by getting my fiction at Amazon.com.
This is Practice Makes Practice, where I discuss my recent writing successes and challenges each week.
Over the past week I have mainly been editing, following revving up to fix issues with the third Pillar Universe book, Ice War. This is the final part of the original story I wrote a few years back. The series begins with Storm Fleet, continues in Flame Wind, and continues further but won’t fully conclude in Ice War. It’s been a fun series to edit, but after this book is done and out I will engage in writing book four and those that come after it.
The thing I’m struck by in this editing process is how much I love these books as I reread them. I paid a lot of attention to detail in the initial writing and it shows, even in a rough draft mired in passive voice. I’m beginning to feel like a pro at fixing passive voice. In fact, rephrasing to create strong sentence is the most fun I have actually changing things in the story.
For the writers out there, I have one small piece of advice, and I know it’s difficult to follow, but if possible: Don’t hate on editing. You can do anything you want in a story. You can make it make sense in edits in addition to all the other wonderful writerly things you can do at this point in the process. If you asked me the question of if I prefer writing or editing, I’d say they’re really the same thing, just with different emphasis. I like, even love them both, when I’m at my best, even if the book is not always great straight out of rough draft.
Speaking of writing, however, I have another novel to dive into now that my editing quota for the day is complete. I want to get to that, and there really isn’t much to add about my practice for this and last week. Thanks for reading.
If you want to support this blog, check out my
Writing can be difficult. The process of gaining skills can seem interminable.
As my first moment of candor, a brief philosophical take on the writing craft, I would like to address skill-building.
Wherever your writing skills are, they are probably enough for some reader. Wherever your writing skills are going it is important to recognize what you already have going for you. An honest assessment of your abilities can be valuable at any stage.
I hope that’s not too vague, but I think more writers need encouragement than need critique. One can only improve skills by using them.
Thanks for reading.
Tomorrow is Saturday for me, but as the terminator said in the sequel.
I’ll be back.
Thursday’s blog post is called Word Works, though I considered other names for it that may be more clearly descriptive.
I considered “First Fifteen” because the exercise I share is me starting a flash-fiction story and typing on it for 15 minutes.
I considered “Random Work” because the exercise is generally based on random prompts from the internet.
So, for today I went to seventh sanctum’s website, hit the random generator a couple times, then generated a character concept from their quick character generator.
Finally, I picked two genres to blend and named my main character as well as a couple other terms. I also decided to avoid guns and swords as operative weapons because of the direction my prompts took me and picked a replacement term for that as well.
What I generated today didn’t figure much into the story, but I used them as jumping off points. This is not a challenge to write anything in particular, not even based on the prompts I got.
That said, my pre-notes sheet looked more or less like this before writing:
Random Elements: HowlSting = Magical School House, Temple Terrier = Dogbreed. Character: A pious, heroic lawman.
World type/genre: Fantasy with western flavor.
-Magekeeper = Lawman
-Lanteb = Protagonist Name
-Oathwarpers = Not gun or sword (weapon)
Finally, I noted I wanted to include another character’s name. Then, I began.
When I started writing I used cold turkey writer pro, a nice little program that blocked access to everything else for 15 minutes. I got about 600 words, which is a lot for me in 15 minutes, maybe even a personal best. Here they are, rough as anything, if you’re curious.
Magekeeper Lanteb walked the old battle line, heading west. He carried his oathwarper at his hip and a sword on his back. His outer coat shimmered with reflected heat from the scorching sun as he entered the desert. Here the troops once fought their war. Here the bones of countless lives, both mage and mortal, lay buried beneath the sand. No animals would approach the line after what happened there.
Hard to believe it had been fifty years and not five. Derelict structures stood as obelisks of magical combat. Each one, its black side scarred with warp strains and marked by cuts and cracks looked as ancient as any structure know to humans, but Lanteb knew better.
Here the war had left its mark the surest. No life would last here for long. A nagging doubt and fear crawled into his mind as he turned to cross the line. On one side, the nation of Catwan ruled. On the other, the old enemies reigned. Neither human nor animal, these things could be deadly as any warp blast even unarmed. Yet, here they had perished surely as their human foes. The strike must have been terrifying to witness from a distance. No one could report from the midst of the fray, on what the soldiers had seen, felt, thought before the end.
Lanteb stepped over the line and into the territory of devils. His steps kicked up dust as he walked further into the realm of unknowable evil. Even mages, real mages, not magekeepers, would not stray here, lest their spirits be ripped from them by the infernal inhabitants of this cursed place. A magekeeper might be as wary as Lanteb, bedecked in charms and talismans to hide his presence. A true mage knew better, Lanteb thought. A true mage never would have come to this place.
He pressed forward over dust and earth until he reached a rise perhaps a mile and a half from the line. There, he set down the bag he carried and set to work unpacking the devices and monitoring enchantments constructed by Miria. No, a mage would never cross the line, and no other mage would have thought to help Lanteb in his mission to scout the region of devils.
He wished for a moment, Miria had seen fit to deny him aid. After all, without the mechanical spells she had devised he would be safe walking some other path, some other place. She made this possible, and possibly doomed him as as result.
He saw no choice, given the opportunity. His fault, he acknowledged inwardly. No blame remained for Miria.
Lanteb finished with the compass, the sensor spells, and the alarm enchantments. He positioned the emitter rod, then plunged it into a spot of soft earth so it stood like a small flagpole without colors to fly. Lanteb collected the pack, then turned and started toward the line.
Shadows followed him, creeping and sliding between rocks. He quickened his pace with only a glance behind. The fear of devils swirled in his mind, fluid in this heat, despite the icy chill it gave him.
Less than a quarter mile to the line, they caught up with him. Lanteb drew his oathkeeper in a smooth motion, taking time. He aimed at the first of the shapes materializing from the shadowside of the desert. The devil loomed, claws extending. Breath of pure heat flared, feeling like dead wind on Lanteb’s face.
His impulse triggered the oathwarper. Venomous light split the demon into fragments. Spirals of energy dispersed into the air overhead.
Lanteb ran for the line.
Welcome to craft in reverse, a blog series where I take a popular piece of writing advice and deconstruct it before your very eyes! Here’s hoping this isn’t a terrible idea.
This week’s piece of writing advice goes as follows: Don’t use adjectives or adverbs.
I really like this piece of advice. When one removes these simpler ways to add descriptive flavor the writer must rely on stronger verbs to deliver the desired meaning. Definitely, overusing adjectives and adverbs can make a piece a drag to read.
A well-placed adjective (Or even, GASP, an adverb!) can torque the emphasis of a sentence with vivid verb and subject to an even higher level. And sometimes, the opposite case, where one can deliver the meaning one intends most efficiently with simple descriptors.
Like practically every piece of writing advice, this one needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
This one is brief, but if it proved at all interesting or useful, let me know. I will be back next week with more of this series. In the mean-time enjoy the podcasts and other posts on this blog.
My books are available at Amazon.com. Check out my author profile if you’re interested.
Thanks for reading!
Hello, writers and readers! This blog series is all about my process as a writer and the continuing journey of writing each week, each day, each session.
Lately, I’ve been following some ideas I read about from fellow science fiction author, Chris Fox. Somewhere in his series of writing advice books (I can’t recall exactly which one, but possibly “5000 Words Per Hour”) is the idea of writing sprints, a concept available all over the place.
I’ve tried the technique of writing for timed segments, whether its 30 minutes or an hour before. Last week I decided to try again. This time I shot smaller each session, writing just 15 minutes at a time in the program I use to block distractions (Cold Turkey Writer). I found this really helps me where I’m currently positioned mentally in my writing career.
The core of my writing challenges lately is something like doubt leading to inattention. I doubt my next move for whatever reason, and then I don’t want to look at the story because it makes me uncomfortable. I procrastinate as result. Anything but the book.
The above is my current problem, but investing 15 minutes at a time is easier for me as a discovery writer than saying to myself, “I know what the next 1000 or 2000 words will be, so I can sit down for an hour and hammer them out.” I like the smaller requirement of time, but I’ve been doing two or three sessions back to back a lot of the time.
Writing begets writing, as the wisdom of my elders goes.
I wrote about 9000 words last week, 15 minutes at a time.
So that’s where I’m at as of this writing.
I plan to continue this blog about my writing practice each Monday, but that’s not all. Tune in every day of the week for a new podcast or post about writing, or on Wednesdays, role playing games.
Now, for some quick business. My books are available at Amazon.com. The Pillar Universe series, The Root Conspiracy series, and the Spells of The Curtain series are all out in force. The Pillar Universe is a space opera and my latest work. The Root Conspiracy is cyberpunk with an emphasis on interpersonal and communications as well as very human characters. Spells of the Curtain is my current most-selling series and consists of six short fantasy novellas following a young mage as he works to preserve the nation where he lives.
Thanks for reading!
I am proud to announce my next novel, Storm Fleet is available now for preorder, releasing December 19th.
The first book in The Pillar Universe series, Storm Fleet is space opera like you’ve never read before. Follow Yajain on her journey and see what I’m raving about, hee hee.
If you love science fiction high on action and adventure, preorder and read it when it launches. Happy holidays and thanks for reading!