Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Where and When is best?

I’m sure you’re waiting on the edge of your seat with baited breath, asking yourself what I mean; best for what? Well, it’s me… so writing, of course.

The short answer is: only you can ever really know the answer, as it applies to you.

It took me a long time (read as: more than 20 years of fighting with family, significant others, and myself) to figure out what time of day and what locations were most conducive for my writing. I am an insomniac by nature, and have a profound addiction to coffee, so it only seems natural that I would write at night. Also, to feed that coffee addiction I just mentioned, I find that diners, dives, and holes in the wall in the middle of nowhere are often helpful for attention to detail, and lack of distraction.

Since the answer for you will likely be different than my answer, I’ll just go on from this point to talk about what works for me… and from that you might be able to better find what works for you.

I don’t sleep every night. Sometimes I don’t even sleep for a few nights at a time. I have children and a full-time “daytime” life, which means that I don’t have much time during the day to work on my writing. I do all my creative work at night. This is natural for me, as I’ve classically (since childhood) done the best job of using my imagination when the sun was down.

My best writing comes between 1 and 4 in the morning. I don’t know why this is, but I know that at that point of the AM my mind is flooded with ideas, and I can barely write, or type, fast enough to get them all out. I didn’t just magically “know that” one day, it took years of writing at all different times of the day and night to discover that that was the “sweet spot”. Once I figured it out though I was cranking out 10-100 pages a day without even thinking about it. Find the time that your mind is best suited to let go of its ideas… and you could have similar results.

Next… “Location, location, location”.

When I lived in Chicago it was the Denny’s in Schaumburg, When I lived in DC it was Amphora. Now that I live in the middle of nowhere (Kentucky) again… it’s one of two places: Huddle House, or Waffle Hut.

What do these places have in common? They are 24 hour, they are low key, once you go there regularly for a bit you can easily “know” all the staff, and the coffee flows cheap and easy.

Characters walk in and out, conversations happen nearby, and all you have to do is be an observer of the ‘human condition’ to find aids to keep you moving past writer’s block.

So I guess what all this rambling is to say, by way of advice: find your minds natural time and place to write, and it’ll come much easier and more naturally for you. The time is there, you just have to keep trying until you find it. The place for you may be in your home, or at a bus station, or in a park… you never know until you find it. Try places out. Drive ‘em around the block. Kick the tires. You’ll find a place that’s a perfect fit to you, and your writing time.

Once you have both... look out world. :D

Thursday, November 17, 2011

END: An Apocalyptic Anthology

A friend and fellow author, S.M. Reine, put together and edited this anthology full of stories of the end of all things. It is set to release December 21st, just in time for the 2012 apocalypse season. All the proceeds from its sale go to benefit St. Jude's Hospital.

Here's a bit of what you'll find in this little gem:

* In Kendall Grey's LÁ BREITHE, humble Irish trader Fynn McKenna wakes up in a field surrounded by burnt bodies. Fear for his wife's safety spurs him on a desperate journey to find her. With no recollection of what happened or where he is, he welcomes the companionship of a glib bard who joins him along the way. But, as each returning memory becomes more vivid and horrific than the last, Fynn fears neither he nor his new friend is exactly what he seems.

* If the world was going to end tomorrow, would you sleep with a stranger tonight? Amelia James's sensual tale explores love at the end of days.

* Trapped on a dying Earth, Eden must decide to flee with a man she hardly knows or stand her ground as it crumbles below her feet in Angela Kulig's A STARSHOT IN HELL.

* Morgan McCoy's WHIMPER brings us to a world put to sleep by power-hungry psychics. When all the survivors have special abilities, who will end up taking control of what's left?

* In DESTROYER OF WORLDS, Dennis Sharpe shows us that sometimes there can be forces at play in our world that are larger and more powerful than those that can end all of existence. Even the seemingly most insignificant of lives can have an enormous impact on the world, and every living creature. Death isn’t always the end, and to some even an apocalypse can be little more than a means to an end.

* Ron Vitale's SUCH SINNERS WE ARE plays out the last few hours before the world goes out with a bang. Before all hell breaks loose with the light and dark side claiming souls, Tommy stumbles upon the power to see who is damned or saved. With precious little time left and the FBI chasing after him, he learns that his is one of the damned. With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, all depends on Tommy's final choice.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

As an interesting aside...

I've added a "donate" button to my blog.

It's located below my "bio", to the right of this text.

New tactic for raising funds.

Feel free to click on it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

When is it done?

When is the piece of fiction I'm writing finished?

The quick and easy answer is: never. Not really, anyway.

As a writer, or film-maker for that matter (look at all the edited re-releases of Star Wars and the like, lately), your story is only done being told when you are done telling it. I have some stories that I’ve been telling and retelling (in editing) for over ten years now.

While it is never a good idea to let a story go before it’s finished, it’s also not advantageous to hold onto a story long past its finish.

A third party can often be, and often is for me, a big help in knowing when to let go of a piece of fiction and let others have it to make their own. I have several trusted proofers, editors, and fellow writers who are nice enough to read for me and tell me (“Stop editing before you kill it!”) when it’s time - when it’s done.

I read, once upon a time, that nothing good is ever written, it is only re-written. I didn’t understand that at the time, but I am – more and more these days – learning to appreciate that statement.

Here’s how I write. If it helps you… YAY!! If not… I’m sorry.

1) I write a story draft. This is usually about 8-30 pages long. It tells who the characters are, and what’s going on. It does this only in the vaguest sense.

2) I take the draft and breakdown a “chapter list”. This lets me know what the pace of my story is going to be. (If I’m going to make a mistake in telling a story, it usually happens in this step)

3) I sit down with my chapters and prewrite over them. This gives me a series of scenes (long or short) per chapter.

--It’s important to note, I think, that I often don’t have the “end” of the story at this point… only the direction that I’m moving in toward an “ending”--

4) I take my chapter prewrites and turn them into full chapters. This is usually done by starting in the middle of the story and working backward toward the beginning.

5) Once I have the first half of the story fairly finished I jump back to the middle and write in a mad rush to the end… this usually means writing into “unknown territory”, where I have nothing worked out at all.

--Now I have my first draft.--

6) I can (and sometimes do) edit over my first draft. I’ve found however that it is often wisest to send this off to my editor. The editor catches the mistakes that I would without ripping things up (that I would do out of desire to ‘make the story better’).

7) I get a set of notes back from my editor, and I sit down with a full pot of coffee and my laptop and combine the notes and my original draft (often leading to changes that weren’t in the notes, as well as ignoring some changes called for in the notes) and create my second draft.

--Now I have my second draft.--

8) Now this second draft is sent to proofers, or a second editor. There may be slight changes or adjustments at this point, but they aren’t likely (or even very large, if they do happen).

9) After I get back my notes on the second draft I fight my urges to tear it apart and re-write the whole damned thing (because I’m a writer, and that’s what we do), and have it formatted to go to print.

That’s my process. It may not be yours, but it works for me.

When is my work done?

It’s done when I leave it alone… if I didn’t walk away and abandon it at some point… I’d be writing on it forever. True Story!

-Dennis Sharpe

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Trailer for Blood & Spirits

So I put together a shoot for Blood & Spirits. I directed it and Daniel Yocum shot it.

We got a lot of footage over 8 days of photography... and we'll be cutting together a few more trailers... but I'm kinda proud of this one. Check it out and let me know what you think of it.

Blood & Spirits - Trailer

We sent 20 DVD copies of the trailer with promotional materials to the IFM. Below are the cover art, and what the cases looked like.