Proper preparation and all that stuff

Oh man… So when I wrote ‘Migration: Beginnings’, all I had was the whiteboard (which I told you about in the first Vlog that I produced), and my notes that I typed up and kept in a Microsoft Word document. And that’s all I really needed. Why? Because it was so fresh in my head, that I never doubted a thing.

And then I finished the book, read quite a lot, and have written other stuff since then that’s not related to Migration. So when I went to write out something about Rhys, the lead character from Migration, I suddenly had to know what college he went to – where he got his undergrad work, and where he got his PhD. (Turns out that it was Boston College for the undergrad, and University of California, Berkeley for his PhD – if you were curious). I used to know these items in great detail, even though they weren’t a part of the book. It was still something that was in my head.

That’s why you should always start a book with not only an outline, but a character biography. Just a single page that tells you everything you need to know about the person. And I’ve started doing them now, in anticipation of continuing the sequel to Migration: Beginnings. Like for instance, Jason is the middle child of three, was voted his high school’s class clown, and went to the University of Washingon. Whereas Captain Clarice Franks is bisexual, was born in Germany but on a US Military base, and has wanted to fly ever since her father took her up in his private plane when she was barely out of diapers.

Proper preparation, y’all!

Ficlet from Migration ‘verse: An Italian Afternoon

I belong to a few writing communities, one of which is called “Get Your Words Out,” that is hosted on Livejournal.  I’ve pledged to write at least 150,000 words this year, which includes finishing the second book in the Migration series, as well as a short novella that is set before the series begins, just to get people acquainted with Rhys and Jason.

One of the prompts in the community is a picture prompt of two women who are sitting on a windowsill (you can see the picture here), and honestly it didn’t speak to me at all.  I’m usually very good with writing for random prompts.  However, I was stumped.

And then as I sat down this morning, the scene painted itself clearly to me.  Though the image is of two women, the story of Rhys and Jason from Migration: Beginnings and how they are vacationing in Europe, and happen upon the two women sitting in the window.

I call the story, “An Italian Afternoon”, and you can read it here:

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Looking For Inspiration

There’s something to be said about writing, in that it’s not something you can just automatically sit down and do.  Okay, so there are some people that can do it, but not everyone.  If it’s your sole job, and sole source of income, then yes – maybe you can absolutely do that.  But for the rest of us, it’s quite a different process.  I’ve been thinking since my last post about what gets me to write – what inspires me.  And a lot of the times besides reading, it’s movies that really get my imagination going.

Being named Walter, a favorite movie growing up was Danny Kay’s ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty‘ from 1947.  It was something I could watch as a kid, and enjoy a laugh.  Danny Kay always captured the viewer’s imagination, so this role endeared him to many, myself included.

I was quite wary when I heard they were going to remake the movie, because typically remakes are soulless, corporate cookie-cutter patterns for maximizing profit.  Many in the entertainment community have strayed away from the thought of entertainment and stayed in the realm of maximizing profit.  That’s why there may be good movies here and there, but not behind every curtain.  A movie is supposed to capture your imagination.  Inspire you.  Make you look at the world differently.  But today, many movies are the exact opposite; just a 120-minute diversion from the mundanity of life.

That’s what made Ben Stiller’s ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ so very, very different.  You saw Stiller’s portrayal of Mitty as someone like yourself (or at least I did), sitting in a sterile environment, wanting something, but never taking a chance.  I won’t give away the movie (though it’s been out nearly four years; if you haven’t seen it, you should!), but I want to say the setting of Life Magazine was perfect.  Walter Mitty worked at Life, but he wasn’t experiencing life – until he finally took the chance.

For me, the quote that originally came from Thurber’s short story and then adapted for the movie is the epitome of what it is to be alive – what it is to not just live life but to experience it.

To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.

Beautiful.  Just beautiful!  Not to mention inspiring!

Anyone else finding it difficult to write?

Trying to put this post into words, I actually decided on describing two scenes from the book.  We all know that America is going through a trying time right now, with anti-LGBT legislation coming down the pike, and some in government beating the drums of war.  It’s downright scary.

Thinking about it, right now I would say that I feel more like Rhys and Jason on their honeymoon as they watched the newscaster talk about the bombs going off in Europe.  That sinking, helpless feeling that creeps into your soul and leaves you feeling desolate.

But I want to get back to a happy place, like Rhys and Jason at the end of the book when they’re laughing and getting drenched in the rainfall from a foreign planet.  I desperately want to get back there, and I know I will.  It just may take a little time.

Goodreads question: How is fiction writing similar to non-fiction writing?

Originally posted over on my Goodreads author page at this link.

I truly thought that the process of writing a fiction book versus a non-fiction book would be completely different. Writing non-fiction, you end up doing quite a bit of research, because you want to get the information right. People read fiction books as a type of escape, whereas they are reading non-fiction books as reference.

But what I learned while writing Migration: Beginnings was that you need to do research – just as much if not more – on what you’re writing. Migration: Beginnings takes place primarily in Portland, Oregon. Now I live outside of Portland, so it’s easy to keep the landmarks in my head. For instance, the drive from the airport down I205, is quite clear to me, and the mall that they pass along the highway is the closest mall to my home.

But the book sees Rhys and Jason trotting across the globe, from a mundane trip to Sacramento, to Japan, Nepal, and Zimbabwe. While I made up the story that Jason’s grandpa tells him, the “so high up, that it almost touches the sky” and “hidden behind a wall of water”, the basic geography of Nepal and Zimbabwe actually exist. I had to do research on how to get there, closest airports, and the like, because I wanted it to be realistic.

So there you go. Research is the same no matter if you’re writing a book about travel, or a book about a couple that runs around the globe figuring out clues, that leads them to another planet.

Readers – Present Tense or Past Tense?

So there’s a debate that I’ve gotten involved in from time to time, and that’s about writing either in present tense or past tense. For me, I’ve been trained to write in present tense, and it makes sense. Why? Because present tense tends to keep you in the moment. There are some particularly action-based scenes in the book that amp you up as you read it, and the present tense keeps you in that moment. Present tense, in my mind, is telling you a story as it happens.

Past tense, at least in my mind, tells you the story after it happens. So to me, it’s more detached from the story, and thus, takes me out of the moment. But I’ve had two strong reactions from two reviewers who don’t like to read present tense, as it is too jarring.

So what do you think? Do you have a preference one way or the other? Sound off and let me know!

Migration: Beginnings Now Available For Preorder!

The first book in the Migration series, “Migration: Beginnings” is now available for pre-order on Amazon!  I went with Amazon for exclusive rights for the first 90 days because I wanted to see if Amazon Unlimited would actually help me grow my audience.  But after that initial 90 days, the book will become available on other platforms like Kobo, iTunes, and Smashwords.

Until then, if you’re interested in reading Migration: Beginnings, head on over to Amazon and you can check out the details, maybe preorder if you’d like.  Details are found by clicking on the cover below.

We Have Book Cover!

So writing isn’t something I complain about too often.  I can take an idea and run with it like nobody’s business.  Over the last few years, I’ve written countless stories and two books – my nonfiction travel book, “A Million Miles Amok“, and the soon to be released fiction book, “Migration: Beginnings”.  But the one thing I absolutely cannot do is draw, or even illustrate beyond stick figures.

That’s why it helps to have awesome, creative friends!  My friend Alice, who is of the artistic type, took what I spewed forth over dinner one night, and came up with a book cover for Migration: Beginnings – and it’s as close as possible to what I wanted without me doing it myself (which, as I said, I’m totally incapable of doing).

That said, here is the book cover for Migration: Beginnings.  Huzzah!

MIGRATION_Cover_2_lettering

(Click on it for larger size)

Migration Beginnings is almost here!

The thing that they don’t tell you about books is that, while they may take a couple of months to write, that’s probably the shortest part of the whole process.  Once it’s written, you’ve got months of editing to slog through, including professional editors who need to take a whack or two at your book.  Then there’s the fact that you need to submit to publishing houses and wait quite a bit more for them to come back with a say.

For me, I’ve decided to self publish.  I changed Migration Beginnings around a bit, including a new prologue that jolts the reader into finding out just what big things are about to come, and there was a fair bit of rewriting a couple of other parts.  Now that all the writing is done, I’m at the point where it’s been professionally edited and now returned to me.  I’ve got the arduous task of going through the changes one by one and deciding what sounds the best, and we’ll almost be through.

But wait, there’s more!  Yes, the last bit of detail that an author needs, especially if they are self publishing, is a book cover.  That is being taken care of by a dear friend, but I’m on their timetable, so we wait a bit more.

All this to say that Migration Beginnings, the adventures of a gay couple as they see the world around them change, and their role in the new world grow, is ever so much closer to being released!  This book was such a labor of love that in a way I’m almost hesitant to let it go.  But I hope that, when I do, people love it as much as I do.

More news soon!