Wasteland Wednesday #4

*Language and Content Warning*

skull and crossbones.jpgskull and crossbonesUnlike QE’s normal informational blog, Wasteland Wednesday is potentially full of foul language and post-apocalyptic nonsense.  I’m talking f-bombs, thrice-bosomed mutant women, and buckets of gore.

Wasteland Wednesday

Welcome to the fourth edition of Wasteland Wednesday!  I’m glad to see you have managed to survive yet another week.  Today you’re going to get a glimpse at one of the many threats that populate the wasteland.  Those stuck surviving in middle-America call them inbreeders.

Inbreeders go by many names: bone munchers, cannibals, flesh eaters, and some others.  It’s important to note, they are not zombies.  Here’s the concept.

When the United States fell to ruin, it did so to the tune of electromagnetic pulses followed by a chorus of nuclear warheads.  Some of these warheads detonated above the ground and some of them made landfall.

dna_repairWhen a nuclear warhead made landfall it destroyed the area, but it also left behind areas that were lousy with radiation.  Areas where bombs detonated prior to making landfall became habitable over time.

These pockets of isolated and lingering radiation have broken the continent into pieces.  The impassable areas of radiation are referred to as the Red.  The Red has landlocked the area where this story takes place.

Those who survived the initial destruction, but suffered radiation exposure, passed mutated genes on to the next generation.  I also incorporated the idea that these people, and their children, would be ostracized by the small pockets (settlements) that sprung up in the aftermath.

Wastelander Inbreeders

A concept sketch of inbreeders from my book, Wastelander: The Drake Legacy. This image was created by me and is copyrighted.  If you would like to use this image, contact me.


Here’s an unedited excerpt from Drake’s journal regarding inbreeders.  (This is the journal that Lex encourages Drake to write in hopes of monetizing it someday.)

Bone munchers. Cannibals. Flesh eaters. Inbreeders.  If somehow you are unfamiliar with these freaks, it should be noted they are not the zombies the pre-fall world was so obsessed with.  They are still human, sort of.  Radiation exposure led to pockets of people being pushed away from the remaining settlements.  Those rejects who survived, bred, often times with those close to them.  Survival is a strong motivator and those poor souls had few options.  Inbreeding, in addition to mutated and damaged genes being passed down generationally, led to smorgasbord of bizarre physical and mental deformities.  I had heard drunken rumors of some of the knuckle draggers having almost “supernatural” capabilities.  I hadn’t seen it, thus, I didn’t believe it.  After all, I’d been around the wastes for a while and I’d seen some crazy shit, but not that crazy.

These groups of inbreeders typically only grow large enough for one physically or mentally dominant male (or female) to control them.  While some have mentally degraded to the point of being feral, there are varying degrees of intelligence.  However, to the normal humans who live in the wasteland, they are all considered scum.  (People seem to get butt hurt when they get knocked down a notch in the food chain.)

Due to this animosity, many settlements offer rewards for inbreeder heads.  It’s their way of managing the growing population.  Needless to say, people who collect those heads don’t really care if you’re feral or not.  If you have even the most minor physical deformity, or your eyes glow just the slightest shade of green (a common way of spotting an inbreeder), you’re fair game.  This particular story opens with Drake conducting a scouting mission of a small inbreeder camp, which leads to some Drake-style shenanigans.

Baseball and Journal.jpg

I mentioned Drake’s journal above.  You can see it here sticking out of his back pocket.

That’s today’s glimpse into the wasteland.  I’m still about three weeks away before I begin my first rewrite.  Often, when I’m laying in bed trying to sleep, my mind comes back to the story and ideas for revision spring up.  I hastily write them down in a journal.  To be honest, it’s taken every ounce of willpower I have to stop myself from starting the rewrites early.  But I’m trying to practice what I preach.

As for the corresponding novella, The Wastelander Survival Guide, I have outlined it in it’s entirety and plan on starting the writing process within the next week or two.  On top of all of this, I am currently talking to an artist about drafting a graphic novel.  This story takes place thirty years after the fall and there is a lot of potential for a Drake backstory.  If that goes through, I’ll also have a Drake Origins graphic novel to bring to the table.

I hope you all stop by next Wednesday for more information about Wastelander: The Drake Legacy.  In the meantime, I’d love to know what you think about inbreeders.  Until then, keep hiding, keep hoarding, and as always – stay alive.

Copyright Info (final)

Bird by Bird: Book, Blurb & Collage

bird by bird, Anne Lamott.jpg

This is a quote collage I tossed together to highlight some of the content from the book.  Clicking the image will send you over to Flickr where you can view it in high-res.  This is free to share and use however you would like.

I finished reading Anne Lamott’s, Bird by Bird, a couple weeks ago and am happy to share it with all of you today.  This is a call-to-action book about writing that I would highly recommend.  It was suggested to me by theherdlesswitch, here on the blog.  Thanks for pointing me toward such a fun book.

bird by bird.jpgIf you’re unfamiliar with Lamott’s voice and style, it’s witty and has some kick to it.  For me, that’s always a plus.  What she does amazingly well is talk from the heart about the struggles most writers face (more on that in a second).  It’s unapologetic, truthful, and very easy to connect with.

Given I’ve read a gazoodle (a number more than ten and less than twenty) call-to-action books now, many of the subjects she covers have been tread upon before.  As with many of these autobiographical type writing books, she pulls from personal experiences to drive her agenda.  For me, it was an effective and entertaining read.

I will say that Lamott often makes it feel like writing is akin to having your skin peeled from your body while being whipped with lemon-soaked rags.  With that being said, if you are riding the euphoric waves of writing right now, you may feel slightly disconnected from the content of this book.  But eventually (and unfortunately) those waves are going to likely break and the riptides of self-doubt, jealousy, and self-loathing are going to start pulling on your ankles.  When that happens, this book might just be what you need to stay afloat.

The book is broken down into four main sections (1) Writing, (2) The Writing Frame of Mind, (3) Help Along the Way, and (4) Publication—And Other Reasons to Write.

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One of my photos from back in the day.  Marines carried rocks to build land bridges to allow vehicles to reach a village that had been destroyed by a mudslide in the Philippines in 2006. 

Personally, I really enjoyed her insights on publication.  My focus is often on pushing the product to publication, and I think we all have varying expectations when it comes to this.  Back when I was a military journalist, I can remember when a story I wrote was circulated globally for the first time.  News outlets from around the world began snatching up the story and publishing it.

Guess what though, no one really cared.  Network news didn’t email me and ask me to come work for them when I got out of the Navy.   Half of those places stripped my name from photos and the story and replaced it with, “Courtesy of U.S. Navy.”  The friends I grew up with didn’t start flooding my inbox with virtual congratulations.  Now, I can’t even find those news stories when I search for them online—I can only find the corresponding photographs I took to accompany them.  I tossed one on here for you all to check out.

That was my first taste of publication “glory” and it wasn’t the last time this would happen.  My expectations for my current works (Wastelander and the novella) are tapered by these experiences.  Books like, Bird by Bird, really force us to look at our current works with realistic expectations and understand the struggles we face as writers are struggles that are shared collectively.

question-markThat’s it for today.  If you are curious about some of the other writing books I have read you can check out a listing of them I made by clicking right here.  I’m constantly eating my greens and I encourage you to do the same.  If you have a book recommendation, I would love to hear about it!  I’m always looking for more books to devour.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

Copyright Info (final)

Wasteland Wednesday #3

*Language and Content Warning*

skull and crossbones.jpgskull and crossbonesUnlike QE’s normal informational blog, Wasteland Wednesday is potentially full of foul language and post-apocalyptic nonsense.  I’m talking f-bombs, thrice-bosomed mutant women, and buckets of gore.

Wasteland Wednesday

Welcome to the third edition of Wasteland Wednesday!  Today I’m going to introduce you to an important and deadly lady.  Instead of applying epic creativity, I’m going to share my unedited original character concept with you.  Plus a couple author notes about the character from me at the end.

Full Name:  Alexandria [Last name unknown]

Nickname: Lex

Age: 30

Bio: Lex has only known the world as a wasteland.  She was born on the day the bombs decimated the United States.  Drake and her paths converged five years after the destruction.  Drake’s original party found Lex scavenging on the outskirts of Columbus.  She was dirty, alone, and starving.  Lex was also bordering on feral.

At this point in time, Drake’s group was starting to transition from deadly survivors into a disorganized band of raiders and slavers.  When a raiding group discovered Lex she was captured and brought back to central Columbus.

Conflict 101: Man vs ManThe general census was this young girl would be used by the group for morale (raped) and then traded to one of bands of slavers taking hold of the area.  When Drake saw the girl she reminding him of his dead son Jonathon who was roughly the same age as her when he was turned into radioactive dust.  This, combined with his depression and overall disillusionment with the group, caused Drake to attempt to free the girl and allow her to escape.

All of these events culminated with Drake getting blasted in the head.  In the confusion he generated, Lex did manage to escape.  Drakes presumably dead body was stripped of everything and left to rot.  Once they finished stripping Drake’s body and left the area, Lex returned to Drake.  He was still alive, but practically a vegetable.

Lex stayed with Drake bringing back whatever food and water she could find.  She also cauterized the holes in his head.  It took a while, but eventually Drake’s body recovered.  His mind never would.

Despite this, Lex knows that under the madness and insanity is a decent man.  Lex has stayed with Drake, often in the shadows, no matter how many half-hearted attempts Drake has made to rid himself of her.  They have traveled together for twenty-five years now.

Abilities:  Lex is perhaps more deadly than Drake.  Put another way, she is deadlier in different ways.  She thrives in the shadows and plays in the chaos Drake seems to endlessly generate. Drake has noticed that as she has matured her gun sounds before his sometimes, and that means she is perhaps faster.

While Drake is a master of chaos driven insanity and confusion, Lex prefers subtlety.  This natural inclination to shadow was fostered through her formative years with Drake.  Drake often told her to go and hide when trouble came, which eventually morphed into killing people from those hiding spots.

subliminalPersonality: Lex has an extreme aversion to being touched.  Especially being touched by men. For every settlement Drake has been chased out of for killing people, Lex has gotten them banished out of another for killing men who attempted to touch her.  Sexually, she will only pay for the companionship of females.  She only chooses to sleep with prostitutes because it ensures there will be no real emotional connection, just the promise of a needed release.

Many of Drake’s personality traits have been inherited by Lex.  With that being said, she is far more calculated with what she says and tends to think things through instead of speaking and acting on impulse.  Much like Drake, she has a soft spot for children.  Also like Drake, she has no problem killing someone if they say the wrong thing to her.  She’ll just wait until they are sleeping to deliver the blow.

Motivation:  Most people’s motivations in the wasteland are centered around survival.  This is true for Lex as well.  However, Lex also realizes the power of a story and a name.  Drake’s legend, while based on truth, has been largely fabricated and exaggerated due Lex’s influence.  Part of the reason she pays for female prostitutes is because she knows they like to talk and spread gossip.

rifle breakdownEquipment:  Lex learned a lot from Drake during their travels.  She adopted his, “one mind, any weapon,” philosophy and is proficient with most killing implements.  Her tools of choice are stealth weapons.  Knives, bows, and other projectiles are her bread and butter.  She does carry a rifle and pistol, but she normally uses them as a last resort.

Author’s Note:  Lex was a late addition to my book and required some sweeping rewrites (which I always advise against doing in a first draft).  I felt my book was a bit of a sausage fest and lacked the value of a female perspective.  But beyond just injecting a female character into the story to have one, I wanted a strong character that would add a level complexity to the story.

Alexis Final.jpg

My concept work for Lex.  I digitally painted this in Photoshop using a photograph I took as a blueprint.  It’s rough, but I’m getting better (slowly).  This image is owned and created my me.  If you would like to use it contact me.

Lex also allowed me to reveal more of Drake’s personality and backstory.  What is also solid about her character is it enabled me to do this through dialogue and action, instead of info-dumping or weird internal dialogue mechanics.

I have grown fond of Lex because she is like Drake in many ways, but better than him in others.  I also like Lex’s character because she isn’t a victim.  She is a capable predator.  She doesn’t play the damsel and she doesn’t pretend to be in distress, she simply kicks ass and collects heads (mutant inbreeder heads).

Additionally, she makes Drake’s survival and legend in the wasteland a little more believable.  Especially in regards to it being coherent in the story world.  When I first wrote the story, I made the assumption his legend would spread by word-of-mouth.  But there were issues with that assumption.

Did a slaver go to random settlement and tell a story about the man who came back from the dead and starting killing them?  Why is a slaver in a settlement chilling out and not trying to enslave people?  A raider certainly wouldn’t be telling this story in a settlement, he/she would be killing people.  Is Drake the kind of character I want to portray as someone who would blather on about his own legend?  These were the issues I was dealing with in making the legend of Drake believable.

Lex allowed me to propagate Drake’s legend and backstory in a realistic way.  She also has the ability to be a stand-alone character with a powerful backstory.  The book could be rewritten from her point of view and likely be just as interesting.  For me, that’s a good thing.

That’s it for today’s wasteland news!  I hope you all stop by next Wednesday for more information about Wastelander: The Drake Legacy.  I’d love to know what you think about Lex’s character. (I’m sure Drake will be jealous she got a full-page character breakdown before him.)  Until then, keep hiding, keep hoarding, and as always – stay alive.

Copyright Info (final)

QE’s Last 20 Books (About Writing)

click bait.jpgThis is going to be clickbait-tastic post, but a necessary one.  I wrote a post a while back about the importance of eating your greens.  Since then, I’ve got a couple emails about what I’m reading.  If I get two emails asking the same question, I make a post.  So here goes.

If I’ve written a book blurb, made a quote collage about the book, or have used it as fodder to teach a point, you can find it here today.  I’m also going to toss in a photo gallery of the book collages I’ve made.  Clicking any of these links will bounce you to a new window.  Also, all the books I list have been linked to Amazon (where I buy books online) and goodreads (where I prefer to read reviews). 

Lastly, these are in no particular order.  While I blog about writing and love the craft, I’m not a big fan of trying to rank books (I leave that to all of you awesome review blogonauts).  If I read a book and it changes the way I think, even if it’s just by an iota, then it’s a five star book in my eyes.  Even a bad book teaches me a lesson (what not to do).  With that being said, if you want my two cents on a certain book shoot me a comment and I’ll give you them.

Let’s do this thing…

Call To Action.jpg

For me, these are the most fun to read.  I love call-to-action books.  Even when I’m not in the dumps with my writing, reading them always gets my writing furnace burning and the creative whirlpool spinning.

On Writing – Stephen King [Amazon] [goodreads]

Writing Past Dark – Bonnie Friedman [Amazon] [goodreads]

The War of Art – Steven Pressfield [Amazon] [goodreads]

Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott [Amazon] [goodreads]

Still Writing – Dani Shapiro [Amazon] [goodreads]

Technical Button.jpg

As a writer and an editor, these represent my area of weakness.  Regardless, the best way I know of improving is by reading, learning, and applying knowledge.  These books are a step in the right direction.

The Grammar Bible – Michael Strumpf & Auriel Douglas [Amazon] [goodreads]

Grammatically Correct – Anne Stilman [Amazon] [goodreads]

A Dash of Style – Noah Lukeman [Amazon] [goodreads]

The best punctuation book, period. – June Casagrande [Amazon] [goodreads]

Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss [Amazon] [goodreads]

How-To Button.jpg

These are the meat and potatoes of what I read.  Books that not only make me a better writer, but impart tools and techniques I can share with friends, clients, and my fellow blogonauts.

The Writer’s Journey – Christopher Vogler [Amazon] [goodreads]

The Hero with a Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell [Amazon] [goodreads]

Stein on Writing – Sol Stein [Amazon] [goodreads]

How to Write Dazzling Dialogue – James Scott Bell [Amazon] [goodreads]

Write to Market – Chris Fox [Amazon] [goodreads]

Write and Revise for Publication – Jack Smith [Amazon] [goodreads]

The Kick-Ass Writer – Chuck Wendig [Amazon] [goodreads]

A Writer’s Guide to Active Setting – Mary Buckham [Amazon] [goodreads]

Clickbait Girl.jpgOn Writing Well – William Zinsser [Amazon] [goodreads]

Writing Tools – Roy Peter Clark [Amazon] [goodreads]

The 3 A.M. Epiphany – Brian Kiteley [Amazon] [goodreads]

Conflict & Suspense – James Scott Bell [Amazon] [goodreads]

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers – Renni Browne & Dave King [Amazon] [goodreads]

Writing Monsters – Philip Athans [Amazon] [goodreads]

Revision and Self-Editing for Publication – James Scott Bell [Amazon] [goodreads]

All right, enough with the bloody list.  Now for some eye candy!  Here are the collages I’ve made up to this point.  If you use my search bar you can find these on the site or you can click my Flickr widget and see where I keep them in high-resolution.  These, like everything else I make, are free to share and use.  I always appreciate a link-back, but it’s not a requirement at all.

question markThat’s a wrap!  Like I said earlier if you have a question about a specific book drop me a comment and I’ll give you my opinion.  There are a few books I’ve read missing from the list, but twenty was too sexy a number to not use in the headline.  I’ll make another one of these once I finish the next twenty books and include the missing few.  Speaking of this, what have you read that I’m missing out on?  I get suggestions every now and then and I always write them down and snag them to add to my toolbox.

Thanks for reading today!  I encourage you to never stop learning.  Read books in your genre, but never let a day go by where you don’t pick up a new tip or trick about the actual craft of writing.  Whether that is from non-fiction, like I’m talking about today, or it’s you analyzing a scene from your favorite book and figuring out why it works so well.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

Copyright Info (final)

Write to Market: Book, Blurb & Collage

Write to Market, Chris Fox.jpg

Some of my indie friends requested that I start doing more research regarding publishing and marketing books.  To this end, I recently finished reading Write to Market by Chris Fox.  At 100 pages this book now takes the top spot on my, “Shortest Books On Writing,” list (coming to a blog near you).  It edged out The Elements of Style by a whopping five pages!

Now before I talk about this book I want to say two things:

  1. This book is not about marketing a preexisting book.  It is about gauging the market and writing a book to meet market demand.
  2. This concept is probably going to make some of you want to raise a ruckus and talk about how this method of writing is an author selling his/her soul for a buck (or multiple bucks).

When I started reading this book my feet were planted firmly in the second category.  I read the first ten percent of this book (ten pages) and was less than impressed.  Mostly because I thought this was a book on marketing a preexisting book, and also because I felt like writing a book for someone other than myself was akin to punching kittens.

Ethos, pathos, logos

As I continued to read I felt myself being persuaded.  Fox was offering a sound argument packed with ethos, pathos, and logos.  Here are a few points to help you gauge if this book is for you or not.  I’m not going to share too much content because this book is so short.

  • This book is current.  It offers advice that can be applied now.  This makes it a strong reference text.
  • This book is written by a successful indie author specifically for other indie authors.
  • This book is short.  It isn’t packed with exposition.  It is packed with useful tools to leverage online sources and listing tools to examine the writing market.
  • Fox shows you how to use Amazon and other online tools to examine your genre for trends.
  • Fox explains how tracking trends in your genre and writing a book that fits popular demand isn’t really selling out.
  • Fox explains if you want to write and make money, write books people want to read.
  • If you don’t care about making money, write purely for yourself.

Those last two bullets probably have some of you getting ready to beat on your keyboards.  I’ve thought about it over the last few days and this is what I have come up with.  If I would apply this books principles this would be my basic process (there’s more to it in the book).

  1. I outline my book premise.  Then stop.
  2. Use tools provided in book to research genre.
  3. Find the top 20-100 books of my genre.
  4. Read reviews and examine story elements.
  5. Find what unites these books in popularity.
  6. Take the story I was already going to write, and apply some of those elements.
  7. I have written to market.

lookingExample:  I write post-apocalyptic fiction.  So I research the market and see what is popular.  Not just now, but over the last few months.  I look at those books and find what the repeat elements are.  Standard zombies are out, mutant zombies are in.  City scenes are out, fantasy lands are in.

I look at the failed books.  Again, what are the repeat elements?  A group of survivors led by a male protagonist is a story line that is getting old.  They are also getting tired of the whole, “Ushering the mad scientist to the lab of glory to save the world story line.” Okay cool.

I take the story I was already going to write and tweak it in just a few areas to fit market demand and write it.  That’s really it.  Is writing the story you wanted to write, but adding an element readers want to read make you a sell out?  That’s for you to decide.

[Begin Rant Here]

Fisticuffs.jpgHere’s my opinion.  I want to tell my story and I want people to read it.  I also would like to make money.  Because money is good (i.e. pays bills, feeds my family, legitimizes the time spent slaving away).

If I’m cracking some beers open with my cop or military buddies, our stories often turn toward past exploits.  If I would tell my parents those same stories, I would likely tell them in a slightly different way (less vulgarity, drunkenness, and belly laughter).  I want to share those stories, but I also want to be mindful of the listener.  To do this I place a filter on the story.  It’s the same story, but with slight modifications.

I think if we are honest, we all do this to some extent.  At least in the context of how we conduct ourselves with different people.  As long as we aren’t sociopaths about it, it’s normal.  We do this in our daily life, but for some reason we are compelled to take an ethical stand on the stories that could put bread on the table.  If the story is designed to be read by others, shouldn’t we ensure we know what others want to read?

I understand that I’m a noob writer.  I’m not going to sway the market with my stories.  Maybe when one of us is a multi-platinum New York Times best-seller of destiny we will be able to push readers one way or the other.  So for now, I’m not going to try to change the flow of a river.  I’m going to test the waters (market) and float explosives (books) down it to blow the dam to smithereens (readers minds).  At least that’s my plan…

[End Rant]

write to marketAt 100 pages this book is thought provoking.  Your alternative to gauge market trends is Writer’s Market 2016, which is a soul crushing 868 pages.  It can also heat your home the following year because it will be outdated.

If you are curious about market trends, marketing a future book, or just want to be more educated in regards to authors who write to match market trends, I would encourage you to pick this book up.  What are your thoughts?  Do you feel matching a book’s content to meet market trends is bad mojo?  I’ve shared my thoughts, I’d be curious to know yours.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

Copyright Info (final)

Write & Revise for Publication: Book Blurb & Collage

Write and Revise for Publication (full).jpg

Click the image and be teleported to my Flickr account and view the image in high-resolution glory.  As always, it was created by me and is free to share.


I finished reading Write and Revise for Publication, by Jack Smith, a week or so ago.  I just got around tossing together the collage and offering my two cents (obviously).  When I read, I desecrate the books perfect pages with my highlighter and pen, so it wasn’t hard finding some quotes that stuck out for the collage above.

Write and Revise Cover.jpgThe book has some strong themes running through it.  It’s broken down into sixteen chapters, each one offering solid insights to push you down the writing path.  I found the chapters on, “Rethinking Openings and Endings,” and, “Improving Style, Mood, and Tone,”  to be the most helpful.

By far, the most tearfully disappointing chapter was the single chapter on marketing and publishing your work.  I know the book doesn’t claim to be a marketing book, but much of this information seemed to be common knowledge – almost an afterthought.

This book is a pure how-to book.  While some of the author commentary is inspiring, it is mostly instructional.  This isn’t a bad thing.  There has to be books out there that focus purely on the analytics of the craft – and this one does it well.  Just don’t expect the author to grab you by the collar and shake inspiration out of you.

In the grand scheme of writing books, I’m not unhappy to own this one.  There were some unique insights here and there.  And honestly, that’s what it’s all about for me.  If I can just take one useful tool from another writer, then they have proven to me their worth.  You don’t have to give me the world, just give me one new way to look at it.

I‘m always looking for new books!  Especially books about the craft.  Is there one you were thinking about but haven’t pulled the trigger on buying yet?  Let me know – my trigger finger is always itchy.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

Copyright Info (final)

Writing Past Dark: Blurb, Book, Collage

Writing Past Dark (final).jpg

A collection of phrases and quotes from the book, Writing Past Dark, written by Bonnie Friedman.  As usual, you can click the image, or go here, to view it in higher resolution on my Flickr.  And as always, it’s made by me and free to share.


Writing Past Dark, written by Bonnie Friedman, is sure to stir up the inner writer inside of you.   For you folks who are already relentlessly pounding away on the keyboard, you will find more fuel to stoke your inspirational furnace and keep the monsters at bay.   After all, most of us deal with writing demons.  They chase away the muse and leave us jaded.  This book will help you smite those black eyed beasts.

At 146 pages, you will roll through this one in no time at all.  Friedman uses personal anecdotes to drive you through the books core concepts.  Her style and voice are very appealing and I found myself swept along by her words.

writing past dark.jpgAs someone who struggles with their own writing demons, and works daily to help others find the light, I found the sections on Writer’s Disease, Distraction, How to Get the Meaning In, and Why We Can’t Write to be the most impactful.

What resonated for me in this book was the heart of the writer – Friedman.  Some authors have a way of connecting with the reader on a very deep and personal level.  Friedman snagged me early and wouldn’t let go.  Again, if you are struggling with the craft, this book might just be what you need.  And given the short length it’s not a huge investment of time.

I‘m always looking for new books!  Especially books about the craft.  Is there one you were thinking about but haven’t pulled the trigger on buying yet?  Let me know – my trigger finger is always itchy and Amazon is a click away.  As for now, I have another weapon to use against the darkness.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

Copyright Info (final)

The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Blurb & Collage

3AM Epiphany.jpg

If you click the image, you will be teleported to my Flickr.  This is where it lives in high resolution.  As always, it was created by me and is free to share and use for your own nefarious purposes.

Another great week, another great book read.  The 3 A.M. Epiphany, by Brian Kiteley, was an unexpected gift from my wife.  When I saw the cover, I assumed it was a book about writing dream journals, something which I’ve talked about here.  It’s actually a book jam-packed with amazing writing prompts.  Really well crafted ones at that.

If you are a flash fiction aficionado, a novelist in a rut, or just someone who wants to expand the way they think about fiction and writing, you will find many useful exercises on these pages.  What is refreshing about this book is that it isn’t so much a book on how to write – it’s a book on ideas for you to write from.  It forces you to abandon the concept that you don’t have any thoughts to work from by offering you hundreds of them.

3AM Epiphany.jpgWith more than 200 well written and explained writing prompts to work from it provides a rough outline for you to apply your personal touch.  Categories range from serious topics, to the absolute insane ones.  It even provides you a template to generate your own writing prompts (something a blogger could make good use of – not me though).

Overall, I’m happy to own this book (especially considering its source).  While I certainly haven’t worked through all the exercises, I did read them.  Even just reading them really broadened my range when it comes to story telling.  As writers we tend to focus on what is familiar.  This book challenges you to step out of your comfort zone and add dimension and depth to your craft.  Add this to you free writing routing (which I’ve talked about before here) and you will have yourself a powerful combination.

That’s it for today.  Do you know of a writing book I should be reading?  Let me know!  I’m always on the hunt for more greens to round out my diet.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

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On Writing Well: Collage and Blurb

On Writing Well Collage.jpg

Click the image to swing over to Flickr and check it out in high-res.  The collage was made by me and is free to share.  Happy viewing.


Another book read and consumed.  My creative whirlpool grows larger and more terrifying each day.  On Writing Well, written by William Zinsser, was well worth the price of admission.  While this a book focuses specifically on non-fiction, you fiction writers can find some great tips in it as well.

The book is broken into four component parts: Principles, Methods, Forms, and Attitudes.

On Writing WellPrinciples and Methods are the two areas, broken into 10 chapters, that every writer (fiction or non) will be able to pull some great fundamentals from.  I found his chapters on simplicity, clutter, and unity to be especially insightful.  Pulling from his own personal experiences (vast) and education he offers some pretty solid nuggets of wisdom.

The next two areas, Forms and Attitudes, focuses more on non-fiction writers.  Given my early years as a journalist I found them to be true, well-written, and something I would use in my day-to-day work if I was still in the game.

On a side note, the Attitudes section does offer some ideas and concepts that cross streams into fiction (unlike Ghostbusters, it’s okay to cross streams in this instance).  These include information on: voice, the enjoyment of the craft, getting to the final product, and writing as well as you can.

Overall, I can confidently say I am happy to own this book.  Its pages are now littered with post-it notes for me to refer to if the need arises.  I would recommend it to anyone who needs to add more greens (non-fiction works to bolster your craft) to your diet.

That’t it for today.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

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The Kick-Ass Writer Collage: Quotes

The Kick-Ass Writer

A collection of phrases and quotes from the book, The Kick-Ass Writer, written by Chuck Wendig.  High-res version is located here.  Made by me, and free to share.


I’ve got a boatload (a cargo-container sized one) of writing to get done tonight and some editing to do for the Brown Pipe Gang (my writer’s group).  So in the interests of providing you all something cool to look at, and meeting my daily posting goals, I tossed together this little quote collage.  All of these quotes come from the book, The Kick-Ass Writer, written by Chuck Wendig.

I just recently finished his book, and it was a nice change of pace from many of the dry “how-to” writing books in my library.  It’s a fast paced, action packed book (which is a strange thing to say about something instructional), and in my opinion – worth reading.  So if you have the itch, scratch it!

In case you missed the link in the photo description, a shiny high-res version of this image is available here.

Did I miss your favorite quote?  Don’t grind my bones into flour to make your bread! Instead, take a breath, and leave a comment.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

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