Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas, and Other Distractions

By Keith N Fisher

I was going to write a depressing tirade about how 2012 didn’t measure up and Christmas didn’t make the list of memorable events, but I need to give thanks for last minute blessings.

It’s true. It’s been a hard year, culminating in the devastation of a dead car. How could things get worse? No money, and we had to carefully orchestrate the use of our one good vehicle. "Ah," you say, I should be grateful for the one vehicle, and you’re right.

I’ve been discouraged. Even writing has suffered. I’m still writing, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that I’ve been at it so long and others are much more successful. I needed an attitude adjustment.

We took a leap of faith with the car. Sold the old piece of crap for pennies and looked into another. Payments, and how they will be made, are scary, but we trudged forward. Thinking I had a reserve, I offered a certain down payment. The paperwork went through and I had no reserve.

That’s when the Christmas miracles began. We received several anonymous gifts of cash and my family gave us money for Christmas. We had the down payment. Now, God willing, circumstances will change so we can make the payments.

I bet you’re about to jump to a conclusion. No, my writing circumstances haven’t changed. I still plug away at it. I’m getting close to having several manuscripts ready for submission at the same time. I’m waiting to hear from a publisher on one, and I have several more in different stages of being finished.

Until now, submitting manuscripts has almost been a distraction. It took time to edit, and I hate editing. Still, I’ve been faithfully submitting. Now, I’ll have several to fall back on, while I write more. I’m about to enter a new phase in my career. I will be in salesman mode. Along with writing, submission will be a daily task.

Anyway, now that Christmas is over, I can turn my attention to amending my circumstances. I’m hoping for a great year in 2013, and I pray yours will be also.

Happy New Year—good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Doomsday. How is Your Writing?

By Keith N Fisher


My apologies for posting a similar blog as Gaynell's. I already had it written and there isn't any time to write another one.


You might remember my post from December 31, 2011 when I wrote about the Mayan calendar and the forecast of gloom and doom. I heard a cute analysis the other day that says it all: "The Mayans didn’t predict the invasion of the Spanish, how would they know about the end of the world?

Still, It’s interesting that even though our logic prevents us from believing there is still something in the back of our head that asks, what if? What if the Mayans were right and the asteroid hits us? How will we deal with the zombies?

My friend asked a question on Facebook the other day, which got me thinking. He said he wondered how many ward members would be visiting his bishop this week. You know, to take care of for unresolved sins, just in case? His sister wondered, in the comments trail, if he had anything to confess.

I suppose for some people, the night before the end came, would be a good excuse to party. I joked about sending greeting cards to everybody, stating I didn’t buy Christmas presents this year because the world was supposed to end. Then in a postscript I’d add, Merry Christmas, you didn’t die.

Sure, it was all a bunch of hype and mystery, but what if? What if the Mayans meant that the twenty-first would be a last day, and the world would end on the next? Hmm. Maybe we haven’t taken leap year into account.

I wonder how many of us will use the next few days to thank God for letting us live longer?

How is your writing? Are you finding satisfaction in your hard work? Tis true there will always be those who find success without really trying, but that applies to every endeavor. Writing should always be more than a career. It’s a way of dealing (or not dealing) with a world of trouble, and the possibilities of zombies. It should be part of you, and you should find joy in doing it. If not, it will become drudgery that never pays enough to survive.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Donny Osmond

By Keith N Fisher
calihotcakes.com

I had a birthday last week. It was one of those days when, according to the law of averages, you realize you’ve lived more days than you have left. And that was a long sentence. Now that I’ve reached this milestone, I think its time to make peace with something.

Years ago, I discovered I have the same birthday as Donny Osmond. Not only the same day, but the same year too. A girl who I liked made the fact known to me. It probably happened on my birthday. She was gaga over him, and I never got anywhere with her.

My research over the years told me that he was born in Ogden, Utah. I was born in Provo, Utah. I used to claim I was a little older than he, but I don’t trust that information any more.

About that time, I heard a few stories (probably rumors) about his junior high experience. He had a tough time, like I did. I learned to defend myself and developed an attitude. He wasn’t allowed, due to image and publicity.

Newspapers ran stories about his birthday over the years and I threatened to demand equal time. It probably stemmed from that rejection I mentioned, but I was jealous. He was a singer and TV star. I was not. When I turned twenty, he turned twenty. When he turned forty, I did too. The local paper did a big story on him. I wasn’t famous.

As the years have gone, I’ve had a good life. I have a great family, and I’ve achieved many things. I’ve been on TV, and been applauded by youth groups. I write pretty good fiction, and I’m still breathing. Donny hasn’t got a clue about me, or our connection. I watch him sing and I’m proud that we share a birthday. He really is a good man.

So, now, I pause on the downhill slope, to let go of the past. That girl that made me jealous has long since passed from my life. It’s time to move on. Happy birthday, Donny, I hope you are blessed with much joy.

As for you, my dear readers, good luck with your writing—see you next week.

 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Accepting Invitations

By Keith N Fisher

I think I’ve written about it before, but I loved to play make believe when I was a kid. I got to exercise my imagination and it was fun pretending I was anything I wanted to be.

We spent hours, my friends and I, losing ourselves in our game.

Later, when I grew up a bit, make believe was pushed aside for other recreational activities. Some of my friends kept it up only we call it drug abuse and alcoholism today.

Now I sit for hours in make believe sessions and I call it writing. I realized the implication, while writing, the other day. You see, dealing with real life and the horrors that go with it is hard. It’s much easier to escape into a world where I can be anything I want I can do anything I want and not think about real life problems.

So I sit on the fringe. Characters I’ve created call to me. They hold bright invitations of solid gold. Offering a chance to come play make believe. You’ll have to excuse me. I’ve gone away—I escaped—I’m with my friends.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week—maybe.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Computer Ate My Homework

By Keith N Fisher

Like an obedient computer operator I saved after every paragraph. Don’t you think I deserved a positive outcome? Read further. During my writing session the other day, I’d found the zone, and I felt golden. That’s when my operating system arbitrarily decided to close my word processor. I’d written a whole scene of great stuff and was in the middle of the next one, when it quit.

Normally, it wouldn’t be a problem. I could just reopen the program and all my saved stuff would be there, but not this time. The writing gremlins or a sadistic operating system had other ideas. I lost the whole thing up to the first paragraph of that session.

In the old days, I could rescue a document by opening the temp files in the register. Of course the old days taught me to save frequently, so I shouldn’t need to do that now. I couldn’t even find the temp files in the new system. It has caused more problems than its worth.

Have you noticed I’ve avoided mentioning names? I’m trying to keep from being arrested when I mention my plans for murdering the software engineers. In an effort to clarify, let me tell you about my problem. I have a word processing program developed in 1997. My current operating system, developed recently by the same software company, is not friendly to my older stuff.

I can almost understand them making the system so that old DOS based programs don’t work. After all, it’s hard to make a do all application that takes every situation into account, but wouldn’t you think they should at least honor their own programs?

Okay, I admit I’m holding onto the old tried and true applications and perhaps I should jump into the twenty-first century, but I don’t have that kind of money. Besides, when did we become a disposable society? Are we supposed to change computers and software like toilet paper? Should I have to purchase a new car when I get gas?

So, after I ranted and raved about the loss. I tried to rewrite the wonderful prose I’d written, but it was gone. The ideas were there, but the perfect arrangement of words had slipped from the pages and my mind. It didn’t help to reflect on what the software company had done to me, so I opened a new document and wrote this blog.

Don’t worry, I’ll get over it, but I hope you’ll understand when I threaten to kill the engineers. I won’t really do it, but then again, maybe I’ll get a light sentence. Who would convict me? I'm sure the jury has the same problem.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Rewriting the Script

By Keith N Fisher

I began to notice a trend while watching television back in the seventies. It seemed that different shows repeated scripts from other shows. It was obvious that the writers of those shows were borrowing form what had come before. Well, not really borrowing, because in most cases, it was almost the same script with different characters.

I realize, it’s hard to write a whole new plot each week, but I remember being disappointed to know the outcome before each story played out.

Through all the reading writers must do, much of their writing is influenced. We tend to write copies of what we have written. Rather than take from others and improve our style, some writers become clones of their favorite authors.

Although I understand how it happens, It really irks me to discover elements of other work in my own. I wrote a piece once my wife read, and said it sounded like Diagnosis Murder. In fact I had written it while watching an episode of that show.

Most of us write from our experiences. That includes what we’ve read and seen. The problem lies in the fact that many readers have read and seen the same things. Be careful what you allow be published. You might find out its been done before.

Good luck in your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Getting Excited Again

By Keith N Fisher

Our critique group met in an unusual place, this past week. I’m not going to tell you where it was. Like all good restaurants, fishing holes, and parking spots, a little word of mouth can ruin the exclusivity. Let me just say, It was one of my better ideas.

I’ve been threatening for years, but lately, I returned to my humble beginnings. I went back to my first novel. I started re-writing because I believe in the characters and the plot. It was painfully obvious from the poorly executed writing craft, that I didn’t know what I was doing back then, but it’s also been like visiting an old friend. I love the characters and they chastened me for leaving them on the shelf.

I’ve also discovered a technology gap. I had to give my characters cell phones and bring them up to date on the Internet. I’ve got to get that thing published before we have more breakthroughs.

I’m still writing my other stories, waiting to hear back from a publisher on one, and taking another to critique group, but it’s been good to return to the beginning. I’m getting excited again.

Good luck with your writing--- see you next week.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

When the Whole World Goes Crazy

By Keith N Fisher

I had an idea for another, new book, the other day. It would be based on my observations of the current political climate in the USA. It would be a good story full of intrigue, but I won’t write it.

I added it to the list of books I’m going to hire someone else to write, someday, when I become famous, like James Patterson. I’m sure you know his prolific success has come because he drafts some of his stories and gives them to other people to write. It’s a great way for new authors to make a name for themselves. Patterson also benefits, because he shares his name, and makes a lot of money.

Anyway, I have a file of drafted novels I’ll never have time to write, so I’ll save them for when I’m famous.

As you might have noticed, I check Facebook a lot. For me, it’s a nice way to support my friends and family, and it entertains me. It’s also a great way to procrastinate writing, but lets not go there, right now.

You also might have noticed a slight depression in my attitude over the past year. I’ve been discouraged, and I couldn’t figure out why. Which, leads us to what my book idea and Facebook have in common. About six months ago, I realized to my horror that many of my good friends and family had succumbed to hate and negative comments originating from political points of view.

We, here at the Blogck, have managed to keep politics out of our blogs. We didn’t want to offend anyone and we don’t all agree. I’ve also been proud of some of my Facebook friends for taking the high road, but the hatred has been grating.

Now, the book idea: A while back, at the rise of a certain political movement I predicted a sad condition that would envelope our country and lead to a second civil war. I wondered how long it would take for conditions to degrade enough to make it happen.

During this last election, we’ve all noticed the polarization. Most of us, in our arrogance, have convinced ourselves that we are right. The attitude that followed was curiosity about the stupidity of our friends. Many became convinced that God was on their side in the fight. None of us, I assume, considered the effect we were having on ourselves. I noticed more negative mud slinging politics on Facebook, than came from all the superpacs combined. They don’t need to spend money on their ads. Status updates and rebuttal comments accomplish their goals much better.

For a while, right after the election, there seemed to be peace on the Internet. People were trying to move on with their lives. It was wonderful to read about cookie recipes and how many words were being written, but the hatred has begun again. Why can’t we realize that political opinions and agendas just aren’t important in the eternal scheme?

My book idea explores the beginning of the end. The time when the whole world goes crazy and the civil war begins. Then again, it might have already begun. I get depressed to think about it, therefore, I won’t write that book.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Requiem, In Support of my Sisters

By Keith N Fisher

It started on a Saturday morning, after a Storymakers conference. There were two published writers, A beginner, and two wannabes. Our work was varied and original, like fine wine that needed a chance to breathe. I brought contemporary fiction; there was a romance, a contemporary mystery, a true story, book one in a string of romances about a group of sisters, and a cozy mystery.

We lost one of the group right away, because of time restraints, but we kept meeting.

Shortly afterward, I cooked a Dutch oven meal in my backyard and we read our chapters. Cooking was my way of giving back to the ladies who helped me so much. Soon, we were taking turns hosting our weekly exploration into the fine art of novel writing.

There have been weeks that we couldn’t meet, but we always managed to provide homework chapters to keep the work going. Through it all, I’ve been learning my craft, but most importantly, I grew closer to my sisters, the ladies of my group.

I found I could relate to Jeff Savage when he spoke of his group, and called them The Ladies of Thursday Night. I was the lone testosterone laden voice in a room full of estrogen. With all this romance being written, is it any wonder that I changed my genre? After my contemporary novel about two brothers, was rejected, I brought another story. It had a more feminine feel to it, and I became the writer of women’s fiction.

I discovered a wonderful symbiosis that was my group. Each of the ladies specialized in a different aspect of writing. I received extremely helpful critiques and plot suggestions from a woman’s point of view. I tried my best to fill their pages with red ink, but often, I settled for being the lone masculine voice.

I often got so caught up in their stories, I forgot to look for errors, but the ladies were patient with me. I became a better writer, and cooked for them as often as I could.

After a while, we added a long distance member, but she has her own, more local group. We also auditioned others and added a few who left us, but five of us have stuck with it. When one married into a combined family of ten children, her time was spent elsewhere, but she tries to keep in touch.

I’ve heard stories about critique groups who didn’t mesh with each other. I’ve heard authors tell about writers who just didn’t get it, but I’ve never met five people who care more about each other than we do. We’ve cried about rejections, kicked each other in the pants, and cheered our successes. There have been many, published books come out of our group. I’ve included cover pictures here. Now, with Nichole’s contract, one of those books will be published in the national market.

We met at my house this week, and turned a page. I cooked in Dutch ovens. We cried because one of us is moving to Texas. No worries though, we’ll keep meeting through Skype, or in email, but it won’t be the same. We still have to take the road trip we always planned, but we won’t be able to meet, physically, once a week.

Perhaps, when we’re on the Times Best Seller list, we can meet each week in Honolulu, or in the Cowboy Bar. I promise to keep Tristi out of trouble.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

I'm Off to see the Wizard

By Keith N  Fisher

I couldn't think of anything that would be relevant today, so I'll be back next week. Until then, make sure you check your facts. If you reference a website, check the author's credentials. just because somebody writes something doesn't make them an expert. Use the sources written by those who were there.

good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Follow the yellow brick road, a huh.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Writing Politically

By Keith N Fisher

No. It’s not what you think. I haven’t bailed out of the non-partisan boat. I’m talking about the things we write without thinking about our readers.

Let me explain. I was writing in a restaurant early in the morning the other day. The music coming from the kitchen was from my era. I didn’t like the Black Sabbath, although I did back in 1972 when I bought the album. I enjoyed hearing Pink Floyd’s, Dark Side of the Moon again, though.

From somewhere behind me, A customer made a comment. She liked the Pink Floyd and went on to compare it, unfavorably to the Beatles. She criticized I Want to Hold Your Hand by singing part of it with a nasal tone.

I was shocked. Obviously to me, that person didn’t have a clue. In my mind, I argued that Paul Mccartney and John Lennon were some of the most talented writers ever. Elements of their music can be found in almost every Rock n Roll song ever written, the rest, were probably from the Rolling Stones. I went on to analyze I Want to Hold Your Hand by pointing out the necessary link it provided in the evolution of the medium.

 
The music turned to a Jimi Hendrix song, I also enjoyed hearing again, but the customer left and I didn’t get her opinion of him. Hendrix was extremely talented, but I suppose there are many who don’t like his music either. Bringing me to the point.

As a writer of fiction, I labor over my work, choosing words carefully to express my thoughts in the most succinct way possible. I hope readers will like what I’ve written. Most often, however, I don’t stop and think about who might disagree or be offended by what I’ve written.

Writing in the LDS market is limiting. My work will be held to something I call, the Deseret Book Standard. Simply put: If DB wouldn’t put it on their shelves then it won’t be successful in the market. Also, there are hundreds of words and touchy situations I can’t write. I'm constantly being corrected by my wise critique group.

Of course the market is changing, but writing nationally is easier. Nevertheless, I run the risk of offending someone. What happens if I write in both markets? Will my LDS fans shun me because I use a word? Must I write under a pseudonym? What about what I say on social media? Perhaps, politics shouldn’t be discussed, although some LDS writers think it’s their sacred duty to do so. Well, you get the point.

I’m talking about platforms and image. Promotion begins when you start writing and never quits. Be careful. Your snide remark might destroy years of public relations. Stand up for principles not people. Don’t be negative, and if you’re writing in the LDS market, don’t use swear words on Facebook.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.
   

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Be Careful What you Write---It Might be your Script

By Keith N Fisher

Several years ago, I wrote a story that came to me in church. I had it drafted in my mind, beginning to end, before the meeting was over. The manuscript was never published, but most of the words live in my memory. It was my first finished book, and I intend to rewrite it someday.

Parts of that story came back and slapped me in the face, the other night. Not in a good, editorial way, but as I lived the plot. Many of us write from our experiences, but how many of us experience what we write?

What do you suppose would happen if your characters really came alive? There have been many books and movies dealing with the premise, but one I like the most was Delirious with John Candy. The writer of a soap opera gets hit on the head and wakes up in his own show. In order to escape, he must write himself out.

My experience with being pulled into my book wasn’t funny, like the film, but it did make me wonder if I have to continue living the circumstances I wrote into the story. It took years for things to work out, and the characters passed through many trials.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pieces of My Life

By Keith N Fisher

I went hunting with my brothers last weekend and enjoyed getting out. The mountain air and romance of a campfire, made up for the trouble of getting ready to go. It was good to be with family, and I got a little editing done.

I have a word of advice for you: Don’t eat a pear while editing in your truck in the dark. The juicy mess gets all over your laptop, and writing suffers.

While driving with my brother down familiar roads, on the way to different areas, I became aware of my rambling. My mouth was spilling out recollections of past experiences, both mine and those of my father.

Being blessed to have spent time, as an adult, with Dad became evident, but so did my feelings of being at home. I felt sorry for those who moved around a lot as kids. There might be many nostalgic places from their past, but I have memories piled on top of others, and all in the same places.

Almost anywhere I go, in Utah, I can recall a fond memory of the place. Some places dredge up more memories than others, but most of my life was lived in those areas.

Perhaps you can understand my distress over the closing of roads and limiting regulations. This blog is not the place for political soapboxes, but I’ve been feeling violated. It seems that certain groups are systematically destroying my whole life. When the powers that be, close off an area or legislate where I can shoot, they are pushing me one step closer to the grave.


I’m getting old and out of shape. I can’t walk into the areas where the forest service closed the 100-year old roads. I can’t afford to go to a private shooting range, and I shouldn’t have to.

My brother made a comment, last weekend that sticks with me. We watched a herd of cows crossing a meadow and I, with tongue-in-cheek, asked, "Why don’t you shoot one of them?"

He said, "I ought to. They’re grazing on my land."

That hits the nail on the head. It is, after all, our land.

As I said, this blog isn’t for political soapboxes, so you might be wondering how my story applies to writing. Spending time in familiar places from my past opened the floodgates of memory. Along with those recollections came reflection, and that is the inspiration for writing. Try visiting your past, the next time you get writers block.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week, unless they close another road.

 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hello Writers

By Keith N Fisher

I hope your projects are shaping up, and your writing dreams are coming true. Each week I try to post something that will be encouraging, and help to you pursue those dreams. In the past, I’ve written about subjects that were timely and well thought out. Many of those points are being now rehashed on other blogs. Some of them are being posted here.

I once heard a speaker in LDS General Conference address the question, why do church authorities rehash the same subjects over and over again. His answer was simple, we need to keep hearing the same messages until will apply them to our lives.

Many of us will hear, and even learn a concept, but resonance is not there for us, until someone else speaks about the same concept. Perhaps it was delivered in a different way. Perhaps, we are now ready. Whatever the reason, applying those lessons sometimes takes time.

This, and social networking, are two reasons writers continue to flock to conferences and seminars. Because of circumstances beyond my control, I’ve missed many of those conferences this year. I was looking forward to attending The Book Academy, at UVU this year. It was well planned, but I couldn’t make it.

So to all the friends I look forward to seeing at conferences, I hope you had a wonderful time. Please save your notes for me. I’m on my way out the door for a couple of days. No time to edit. I hope you can read this.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

 

 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dunderheaded

By Keith N Fisher

I used a word at critique the other day and the ladies thought I’d invented it. I let them think what they wanted because I wasn’t sure if I’d heard it before or not. I went home and looked it up in Webster’s.

Definition of Dunderhead: Dunce, Blockhead.

While pouring over my pages from critique group, I used that word to describe my writing. Even after al these years, I still make some of the same mistakes and I have to fix them after the ladies point them out.

I’m dunderheaded, but I’m not a total idiot. Some of those pages I brought, were actually first draft. I would’ve caught many of the repetitious words and poorly phrased sentences if I had gone through it. I’m dunderheaded, because I haven’t learned to avoid those mistakes in first draft.

Nevertheless, I panic at the thought of having to write completely solo. What would I do if I didn’t have my critique group?

Good luck in your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Another Perspective

By Keith N Fisher

Are you one of those who takes full advantage of a soda fountain? By that I mean, do you fill your cup, drink half, and fill it again?

I remember a time when I could buy a bottle of pop for a ten-cents from the machine at the gas station. Of course there was a deposit on the bottle, so we hung around until we finished.

Soda fountains were in hamburger stands and I don’t remember how much a drink cost from there, but it couldn’t have been much more. When they moved the fountain out for the public to fill their own cup, things changed. Some places offered a fixed price, allowing me to get free refills. Generally, cup size didn’t matter at those fountains. It was all you could drink anyway.

The all you can drink rule was a boon to the soda-drinking public, but it caused a greedy attitude. Now, there are many fountains offering a cheaper price for refills, but they don’t offer all you can drink.

While working in a convenience store, I watched customers come in, fill a cup with soda, drink half, then fill it again. I wonder how they justify their greed. It might be different if there was an, all you can drink sign, or free refills, but in my store, that wasn’t the case.

I also saw people taste different kinds of soda, change their mind, and not purchase a drink. Why would they buy one? Their thirst had been quenched.

Shaking my head, I ponder how our society came to feel so entitled? I remember my experience at the gas station and wonder if it’s a money thing. Then I realize wages were lower back then, the cost of living, far less.

Today, there is unrest in the world, political polarization threatening our republic, and many other problems to deal with. So, Why would I bring this up? What could soda fountain ethics have to do with writing?

Much of my writing is based on my life experience. My characters are modeled after bits and pieces of the humanity, I’ve seen. Plots are driven from my personal experiences and those of others. With so many different occupations under my belt, there is richness in my writing. I learned a lot about people while working at a convenience store. I learned a lot about drinkers when I managed a bar.

I’ve always been a meticulous observer. Therefore I thought I had a handle on human nature, but lately, I’ve been mystified. Humanity seems to have slipped a cog in the gears of life.

So I ask, What do you do? Does the self-serve drink machine offer an all you can drink invitation? Can you buy a bottle of pop and expect to get another for free?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cloudy Days

By Keith N Fisher

My day job is performed on the graveyard shift, so on days off, I can be found on my porch, at night, with the light burning. It’s a great time to write in peace and quiet. When insomnia keeps me awake during the day, I’m out there writing. This time of year, however, it’s hard to use it. The Sun’s position in the sky has changed. The roof doesn’t block the rays like in the summer. It’s hot and the glare renders my computer screen unreadable.

I’ve learned to love cloudy days. Not only do the clouds cancel the rays, but it’s also cooler. Not to mention, the romance and inspiration of possible intermittent rainfall.

So how is your writing going? Have you ever wondered why you felt a need to pursue such a non-lucrative career? One of my teachers in junior high told us, when asked, that he chose his occupation, because of the example of one of his teachers. He went on to curse that man, under his breath.

Like my teacher, do you curse the muse? Do you wonder why your characters won’t leave you alone? Do you edit your manuscript in frustration, thinking your story would be told better, if only you could write more effectively?

Of course, money, or the lack of it, enters into the question. I admit to envisioning large royalty checks, when I started. Making a living at my chosen occupation was part of the dream too. To be fair, though, it is possible, but not in the market I write for. So why do I do it? Why do you do it? I’m reminded of the first writer’s conference I attended and looking out on the sea of faces in the room. I realized they had all been touched with the same inexplicable need, and I was part of a large movement.

Now, I sit on my porch and wonder. Why do I feel such passion about writing? Should I do like my teacher and curse the muse for making me want to write? Its funny how our lives change over the passage of time, isn't it?

Okay, enough, of this heretical attitude. I am a writer because I want to be. How could I not? I’ve got a disease deep in my blood, and it won’t go away. Like alcoholism, my addiction is the source of great highs and lows. When I’m on the pinnacle of my writing, the highs are so exquisite, life could not be better.

Perhaps my bout of second-guessing is caused by fatigue. Could it be the cloudy day? After all, depression, in comic strips has always been depicted with a cloud above the depressed subject’s head. Still, I love cloudy days during this time of year.

Good luck with your writing---I hope I didn’t depress you---see you next week.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My Almost Accident

By Keith N Fisher

As Writers we pride ourselves on being able to suspend disbelief. If a reader can feel connected to it, no matter how far fetched the idea, we are successful. The problem we run into, especially with critique groups, is flawlessness. We aim for a perfect balance between facts and the worlds we create.

I’m sure you’ve read stories and been frustrated because someone kills a man with a pistol at three hundred yards. Also, when a character travels to your hometown and walks into a building that doesn’t exist. What about when a cell phone rings and the story is set in nineteen-seventy?

These things slow a story down because, readers try to fit facts into their own experience. Even though it’s fiction, they can’t stand to read inaccuracies. Readers know you can’t get seven shots from a gun that only holds six.

Creating a plot that will suspend disbelief is difficult. Doing it well, however, delivers the reader in the palm of your hand. I’ve heard that one of the most asked questions by visitors to Nauvoo, Illinois is “Where was the Steed home?” It must be very gratifying for Gerald R Lund, who created The Work and the Glory.

I am one of those who count shots while watching The Rifleman reruns. You see I know a Winchester 30-30 only holds eight rounds. I’ve written about getting facts straight and I continually add to my knowledge of real world facts. I agonize over plots when I have to send a character to a town I’ve never been to. I know that some reader will balk at my representation.

Facts are restricting, but a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I had an experience while driving to work the other night that made me think.

I’ve always driven defensively. If a car stops suddenly, my instincts take over, and help me initiate a solution. I’ve hit the breaks and swerved before, but I never would’ve believed what happened the other night, would happen.

It was dark, and I'd just left the house. I hadn't buckled my seatbelt yet. I was traveling at thirty-five MPH. Suddenly, a dog was in front of me. At least I think it was a dog. There were kids on the sidewalk and I had a split second to avoid killing the dog. My reaction was to swerve, which I did.

The next thing I knew, I hit the passenger door with my shoulder and I watched my truck get closer to the parked cars on the other side of the street. Miraculously, we missed the cars. I slid over and took control again.

The feeling of being thrown into the passenger seat and watching my truck drive itself shook me. Until the other night, I would’ve scoffed at my story. I now, understand how so many people end up crossing the median and rolling their cars on the freeway.

You might be reading this with an insolent attitude, because you knew this could happen, but would you believe my story if I put in fiction? I wonder how many would. It’s hard for me to describe the feeling of being thrust into the mercy of centrifugal force. I was in an everyday situation, and I thought I had control.

The point I’m laboring over in my disjointed epistle, is consider the experience of your intended reader. Will they be able to suspend disbelief and accept your version of realty? Will inaccuracies creep in, taking them out of your story? Be careful with details like my almost accident. Most people would be able to place themselves into the story, but others might not accept it. Then, again, how do you know?

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Finding Waldo

By Keith N Fisher

I sat on my porch the other day chatting with my friend about the many facets of life. During the course of our discussion, I discovered I’ve held on to many dreams over the years. Some came true, others fell by the wayside, but all of them merited my undivided attention while I dreamed.

Always, my dreams beget goals, which turned into plans that forced me to action. I used to lye awake at night working out the details. Now, my writing goals and wishes consume most of my thoughts. My characters keep me awake at night, as I try to craft the manuscript that will propel me toward my goal.

It occurred to me that we sometimes put too much time and energy into our dreams. Have you ever seen the Where’s Waldo? Books? Each page is a masterful collage painting of people and things designed to hide the Waldo character. Your job as a reader is to find the hidden character on the page.

Often, a scouring search turns into an all consuming quest to find that little guy. My daughter had severalsimilar books called I Spy where you’re given a list of things to find before you turn the page. The searches kept us busy for hours, but left us with time spent with each other and not much else accomplished.

Several of the writers I know, including myself, are like the readers of those books. We dream and plan. We work hard plotting and crafting, trying to write the perfect manuscript. We sweat blood during lean times and find joy in winning a writing contest. Through it all, our all consuming goal is to find Waldo and get our dreams fulfilled.

But what, then?

I’ve known published authors who revel in their success, then founder, because their dreams were brighter than the reality. They spent many hours looking for the little guy on the page and were disappointed when they found him.

My advice for me, and you, is to enjoy the journey. Take time to look up from the page. Don’t fall victim to the Things will be different when I get this manuscript published syndrome. Finding Waldo can be a glorious thing, but finding Waldo isn’t everything, and it can be so much better if you have someone to share it with.

Writing is often a solitary thing. We dream in private and work in silence. The key is in finding more things to dream about. Spend time with other, non-writing, goals and be prepared for when you find Waldo.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Power of Suggestion

By Keith N Fisher

I’m sorry for my erratic posting. I used to post just after midnight every Saturday. Isn’t it funny how things combine to force us into lifestyle changes?

In a busy week of mediocre problems, (I say mediocre, because I know many of you face larger problems.) I had trouble thinking of a subject for my blog post. Then, last night I was reminded of human trait to which, I succumbed.

While at work, I sold several batches of nachos, and walked by the display many times. Each time a customer brought them up to the register, I enjoyed the aroma. There were many different combinations depending on personal tastes. Some customers added peppers, some didn’t. Others added onions. Some added chili while others added Pico de gallo.

Some people mixed chili and cheese in the container and waited to add the chips so they could savor the crunchiness. I’m not one of those.

As I get older, I’ve learned that avoiding certain food items, and snacks, saves me from sleepless nights and embarrassment from bad teeth with cheap dental work. I usually avoid nachos these days. Although I admit, I like to let the chips soak in the cheese sauce until they’re limp like a wet noodle.

I love to pick the chips out of the sauce and get gooey fingers. It takes several napkins to wipe sauce from my beard and mustache. It’s like eating BBQ ribs, lobster, and corn on the cob. Getting messy is part of the fun.

Still, eating nachos before going to bed these days, is a recipe for disaster. When I got off work this morning, however, I purchased some. I couldn’t help myself. I was the victim of the power of suggestion.

As a writer, it’s my job to combine words that suggest an idea to a reader. If I do it right, the power to influence feelings can fall on my fingertips. Just as I might’ve influenced your taste buds by writing about my nacho experience, writers can influence good and bad thoughts.

Now it’s true, a story can influence one person in a different way than it does others. I’ve heard serial killers say they were influenced by a movie or other media. I’ve also heard high praise for how a book changed a life for good.

Many writers don’t realize the influence they have. They write things on social media, and other places, that readers take to heart. We write things on blogs and readers think we are experts. The danger lies in not being careful about what we say. Followers could fall victim to the power of suggestion.

It’s an awesome responsibility and should not be taken lightly. Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Dream of the Future

By Keith N Fisher

Not too long ago, the printed word on paper was still the way most of us caught up on current events. Television news was great, but nothing compared to reading a morning newspaper while eating breakfast. The paperback book had gained a large share of the market, and I wrote novels on a manual typewriter.

Although, I’m not the only person to get the idea, I later, caught a vision of the future. It came while watching Star Trek on TV and in movies. I noticed that reading, writing, and even maintenance reports in the ST universe, are done with electronic pads. It made perfect sense to me. I predicted we would spare the trees and imbed everything on computer chips. In the future we would check out electronic pads from the library. The required shelf space would be cut in half.

My prediction came before the World Wide Web really took hold. I figured research would be done with a stack of electronic pads sitting on a desk. I never considered the actual electronic file.

I walked by a newsstand the other day and had to stop and read the headline. It was the fulfillment of my prediction, it read, Libraries countywide begin putting serious cash into e-books. The article said that libraries are bowing to the patrons who own e-readers.

With the advent of e-books and e-readers, the future is here. Even though I was wrong about the way we would receive the books, we can check out and read them on our pads. Writing can also be done on those same pads. I now, write on an 11-inch laptop.

Even though we are living the inevitability of the future, I think we’ve lost more than we’ve gained. It’s true I use the Internet for research, and I get my news from TV and Yahoo. I take my laptop almost everywhere, but I can’t see what’s on the screen. E-readers are small, but they will never replace the look and feel of a newly printed book. The pleasure of spilling my oatmeal on the paper, with it spread out on the table, will never be replaced. I’m learning to do without. I don’t sit down for breakfast anyway.

I’ve written before about e-book pricing and my feelings concerning selling our work too cheap. Therefore, it’s probably best to not bring that up again. Nevertheless, the cat is out of the bag, we must deal with our creation. We probably won’t suffer the burden of too many e-readers on our desks, as in Star Trek, but I don’t think readers will grow tired of paper either. Then again, maybe I ought to seal my books in a vault for the future. They might be antiques someday.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Watching a Full Moon Through Tree Branches

By Keith N Fisher

I attended an event to support the Pleasant Grove, Utah library. It was also the launch party for Tristi Pinkston’s new book, Turning Pages. There were several authors selling and signing their books then donating a portion of the proceeds to the library.

During the event, organized by Tristi, I sat next to one of my favorite authors and chatted about her books. I also listened as many unpublished writers talked to her about different parts of the writing craft and the trouble they were having. I was reminded of the many facets of the craft and the difficulty in mastering it.

While plotting might be easy for some writers, characterization might be difficult for them. Maybe its visa versa, and so on.

One writer talked to my friend about description and I perked up, knowing that has been one of my troubles over the years. In an effort to avoid flowery descriptions, I had developed a habit of getting from point A to point B in the quickest way possible. Then, an editor suggested I add more description because I had written the facts, but left too much for the imagination. I learned that being succinct is preferable in articles and short fiction, but novel readers want more details.

In order to fix the problem, I began to add more description and setting, but I’d made it too wordy. So, I re-discovered metaphors. Inserting details into a reader’s mind, with a few words, however, is not an easy task.

For an example, consider this paragraph I’ve been working on,

Two weeks later, the doorbell woke Rebecca from a nap on the couch. She kicked an empty Vodka bottle across the floor on the way to answer it.

It still needs work but you begin to understand what’s been going on in Rebecca’s life for the past two weeks.

If I described the light of a full moon through the branches of the trees, You’re mind would jump to a conclusion about setting. Now, if I take that same moon, and tell you about the light shining through broken dark clouds, you get a different idea. Then if I add the wind and perhaps the howl of a wolf in the distance, what do these words tell you about the setting?

A word of caution, however. The metaphors we use must provide an image for our readers. If you’d never seen a full moon through broken dark clouds you might have trouble getting the picture. You might not understand.

For a case in point, turn to a Star Trek the next generation episode. In Darmok, episode 2 of season 5, the Enterprise encounters a race of aliens who speak entirely in metaphor. Realizing that fact didn’t help, because the Enterprise crew had no frame of reference to understand the metaphor.

As writers, we must consider who our intended readers are. Will they understand our metaphors? Another problem occurs with too much familiarity. A cliché will provide resonance but it will also bore the reader.

Writing is like Tony Stark fine tuning his Iron Man suit in order to make it fly. Sometimes a writer hits the wall like Tony. If that writer keeps working at it, they will eventually get it right. They will have drawn a perfect picture in a reader’s mind with few words.

Notice the simile above? Like metaphors, similes can also get you into trouble. If you didn’t see the movie, you probably won’t understand the simile.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sadistic Pleasure

By Keith N Fisher

To those who read my blog each week: I’m sorry. I got caught up in stuff and didn’t post last week. It’s the first time I’ve missed, but I feel like a flake.

I took a turning point chapter to critique group this week. It was one of those, put your character in peril so they can overcome, type of things, but it wasn’t strong enough. After getting feedback about the writing, I asked my group what they thought. Should I make it stronger? Does the character need more peril?

The next several minutes were spent bouncing plot twist ideas off each other and I came away with a renewed sense of purpose. I was reminded of the old axiom, coined by others, in act one, put your characters in a tree. Act two, throw rocks at your character. Act three, get your character out of the tree.

I once heard Josi Killpack add more to it. She suggested that we throw rocks and set fire to the tree. We shouldn't be in a hurry to get our characters out of peril because it doesn’t give them a chance to grow, and it isn’t believable.

I’m also reminded of how this relates to real life. Every one of us has problems. I prefer to call them trials because overcoming them helps us grow. Eventually, passing through enough trials will help us be the people God intended us to be.

After critique, I began to think of myself as a sadist who enjoys putting my beloved characters into terrible circumstances. Then I remembered the axiom above. If I want to write a great book, I must turn on the heat of tribulations. I’m not sadistic, I’m a loving creator.

May you have the courage to be cruel to your characters. Help your protagonists grow, but go easy on the antagonists.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Stuff Happens

By Keith N Fisher

Are you a half-full or a half-empty person? When you see a container with the contents measuring exactly one-half of the total capacity, is it half-full, or is half-empty? We’ve all heard this metaphor and we try to look at life with a positive twist.

After all, look at the biblical prophet Job and all he went through. He remained positive through horrific times. Half-full people are great examples to us all. While being interviewed for television about their house burning down, they say, We were blessed that nobody was hurt.

It’s true. It is a blessing and they really believe it, but I think many of them are crying out in silence, but it really sucks to lose my house. Also, with all the stuff that happens in our life, it’s amazing we don’t all, go screaming into the night.

Years ago, I managed a bar and I listened to dozens of hard luck stories every day. Now I work nights at a convenience store and I’m still listening to sad tales. Sometimes they help me feel grateful that I don’t have the same experiences. Other times, I’m reminded of my own trials and the weight of the world descends on my shoulders.

As writers we tend to think of our work as half-empty. Then inspiration comes from somewhere and we marvel at what we’ve written. The secret is to never stop believing in the silver lining. When, (like a house fire), the red pen strikes our manuscript, we can look at the good parts and be grateful they weren’t destroyed, too.

You must believe in yourself. Take compliments when you can get them. Listen to criticism and improve. Dear writer, you have chosen a difficult career path. Learn to be your own cheerleader. Remember stuff happens, look at what’s left instead of what’s missing.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Please Comment

By Keith N Fisher

I’ve been on this site for six years now. Posting about writing, and the struggles associated with it, has been therapeutic. Having people read and comment is icing on the cake. Many of the people who commented in the beginning were published authors. Others have since become published authors, and most of them have blogs of their own.

As we all know, struggling to get noticed as a writer is difficult and there is so much competition. Many of my contemporaries are very good at it, but I wonder about relevance. Recently, I noticed several blogs dealing with subjects I wrote about years ago. I even noticed a credit given to someone else for a concept originally coined by another.

Six years ago, at the LDStorymakers conference, I glanced at those in attendance and marveled that so many people felt an urge to write. I wrote how we seemed to be poised on a precipice waiting for God to use us in the battle for souls. This year, the numbers had more that doubled many times. So, I wonder about relevance.

Have you ever wondered this same thing about your writing? I don’t mean to be glum, but it’s that kind of day. Keep your head up and your fingers poised on the keyboard. Search your heart for inspiration. Its what I do. Sometimes, I write from the parking lot of the temple, hoping to reach my readers. It helps with my perspective. Don’t worry, I will continue to offer advice on this blog because I’ve grown accustomed to posting here. However, your comments are more than welcome.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Place bookmark here . . .

By Keith N Fisher

I worked last night and didn’t get my blog written. I don’t have a title either. I suppose the world won’t end because I don’t post, but it might.

As we approach the two hundred and thity-sixth anniversary of the United States, let me wish you the best holiday ever. Hopefully, you will not get discouraged like I have. Try to see the good in the world and get along with your brothers and sisters. Everyone has differing opinions and beliefs.

Share a kindness with others and it will come back to you. May God bless those who’ve suffered loss during this early fire season. Be safe, have fun, and help others.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Don’t Fore-Slash Me

By Keith N Fisher

I reached an impasse with my work in progress this week. You might remember I’ve been working on a suspense novel, and it became too hard. I’ve had trouble keeping the intensity up, so I put it aside for now and went back to The Only Key, a mystery I started about six years ago.

It was wonderful to revisit the characters and figure out how to fix the problems that I left. A few years ago, I entered this story in a first chapter contest and it didn’t do well. To be fair to the contest, they didn’t have a mystery category, they had a mystery/suspense category.

As you might’ve guessed, the judge who gave it the lowest score commented on the level of suspense. It wasn’t intense enough. I argued that is was a mystery, not to be confused with anything Stephen King would write.

Then again, there seems to be a prevalent appetite for intensity in the media these days.

The whole experience made me consider the fore-slash and how we often combine genres. My colleagues have written about the combination of genres lately, and I don’t mean to tear down what they wrote, but I’m writing a mystery, plain and simple. Will readers judge it poorly due to lack of suspense?

Normally I write women’s fiction. Basically defined, I write stories about women, for women to read. Each story might have romantic elements, but I don’t write romance. Yes, the contest, I mentioned, also has a romance/women’s fiction category.

My suspense project is women’s fiction with very little romance, and my mystery is not women’s fiction, but there are romantic elements. Does that mean I can’t enter them in the contest?

I suppose genre purists will always be a problem in contests like that, and I’m not really complaining. It’s just that, working on, The Only Key, reminded me of my contest experience so I wrote about it. Maybe next week I’ll write about social media and protecting your professional image. Then again, maybe not.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Teaching Yourself the Craft

By Keith N Fisher

My grandmother made wedding cakes. It was one of the many ways my grandparents made a living together. Grandpa was a hard working farmer and traveling salesman. Grandma was a hard working farmers wife and cake maker.

At one time, grandma had the recommendation of caterers and wedding planners. Some of her business came through word of mouth and she had several portfolio picture books brides could look through in order to make decisions.

I’m not sure when the world turned to fondant, but my grandmother decorated the old fashioned way. She sat for hours with frosting bags making string loops. She made frosting roses with the speed of a machine. Each cake was a work of art. She was master of her craft.

Grandma made wedding cakes for all of her older grandkids, as well as her nieces and nephews. Many times she would have four huge cakes going at once in different stages, and we had great conversations while she worked on them.

As far as I know, Grandma never had any formal training in her craft. She taught herself how to make the decorations. My grandma got started when her grandma didn’t have time to make the cake for a family wedding. She asked my grandma to make it and nobody knew until years later. After that, grandma learned from the work of others and taught herself an enviable craft.

You don’t see many wedding cakes these days, decorated in the old ways. Fondant and plastic are the mediums of choice. Even the applesauce and spice cakes have given way to other kinds. It still takes time and a little talent to master the craft, but I think the world has lost a beautiful art form through evolution and lack of knowledge.

The writing craft is like any form of art. Even with formal training, the artisans must practice and teach themselves to form words and place them in a coherent and meaningful way.

Learning the craft of writing is simple. Just glean what you can from others, then sit down and practice. In the book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell claims it takes ten thousand hours of practice to become perfect in everything. How many words does that convert to?

Good luck with you writing---see you next week.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

It Happened Again

By Keith N Fisher

What is your favorite time of year? Summer, with all it’s splendor and outdoor living? Winter is nice, because of Christmas and snow sports. The fall colors can be beautiful, and relief from summer heat, makes Autumn nice, too. I like Spring. Even with an iffy year like we’ve had, the relief from Winter’s grasp and the newness of life, is a wonder to behold.

Have you ever balanced an egg on end? You can do it during the moment of the equinox. I wanted to see if it was possible, so I took an egg to work several years ago. We tried and tried just before the appointed time. It just wouldn’t stay up.

Suddenly, at the exact time, the egg stayed up. We took a picture. (It didn’t turn out. A white egg on a white counter.) It was truly amazing.

Such is our life on Mother Earth. There are wonders to behold, right in front of our eyes and we don’t see them. Many people, over time, attached mystical significance to those events. Like in 1833, A meteor shower lit up the night sky. Many of the Cheyenne who gathered at Bent’s Fort in Colorado thought it was a sign of the end of the world. Chief White Thunder saw it as a new beginning and made peace with his enemies.

Many of us, recently, were witnesses to two celestial events that could’ve been interpreted much the same way, if nineteenth century Native Americans could’ve seen it. Thanks to modern mass media, we are witnesses to many wonders. We also, see many troubling things such as war and natural disasters. We can choose to interpret it like the ancient people did, or we can enjoy the good moments we have.

On Facebook, one day, I posted the slogan used by BYU TV, (Channel 11-2 for those on the antenna). Their slogan is, See the Good In the World. I mentioned it, because I had grown weary of all the negative that people dwell on. It’s so easy to get caught up. Between political viewpoints, disease, and disaster, it is hard to see the wonders our planet offers.

I admit, I’m one of the negative ones, but its destroying my health, not to mention my sanity.

So, I implore you, for your own sanity, take the advice of the slogan and see the good in the world. Good is easy to find in the warmth and beauty of a newborn child, being witness to an act of service, and the beauty and splendor of spring.

For many years our ancestors prayed incessantly that winter would be replaced by spring, that rain would come, and seeds would grow. When those prayers were answered, those people were so grateful, they celebrated. How many of us celebrate Spring? Our faith tells us life will change, wars will increase, disasters will come. People will suffer, but this year, I’m grateful for green grass, and leaves on trees.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Chapter Twenty

By Keith N Fisher

It’s been a busy week. I’m sure you could say the same, but I’ve lost track of what day it is. Well, I know it’s Saturday because Gaynell posted yesterday. I worked nine hours last night at the place where I began my convenience store career. It was like walking down the halls of my Jr. High School as an adult.

On Thursday, we cooked for the faculty and staff of Foothill Elementary. I haven’t cooked in Dutch ovens for that many people in a year and I had to remember how to make some things.

On Wednesday night, I had the ladies from my critique group over. I had to load the Dutch oven stuff into the truck and they figured it would be best to have critique at my house. I read chapter twenty from Star Crossed. It has been a while since I’d seen this chapter and there was a brief moment when I got lost.

After the ladies left, I sat there thinking about all the projects I have finished. Star Crossed is waiting for critique, but The Hillside is at the publisher’s, The sequel to The Hillside is waiting until I know the status of the Hillside. Currently, I’m writing Shadow Boxing, and looking into resurrecting some old manuscripts.

While reading one of them, I realized how much my writing had changed. Yes, I’m a better writer now, mostly because of the aforementioned ladies, but I also write differently. Like working in the old store, walking through the pages of Eternal Tapestries was familiar, but intimidating. Reading chapter twenty brought me back to my state of mind while writing it. Cooking, although the threat of screwing up was intimidating, It’s a skill that will always come back to serve me.

Writing well, is a skill that cannot be learned. We must continue to improve or die trying. The editor in all of us balks at something that doesn’t sound right. If we wrote it, we cringe and fix it according to our current skill level. We read other writer’s work and glean tricks and skills from them. I read chapter twenty and noticed a few places that needed fixing.

May we never think we are the best writer we could be. Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Day of Joy

By Keith N Fisher

We’ve all done it. Every writer has been there, staring at a work in progress and not been able to add another word. I suppose confession is good for the soul, so I admit I’ve suffered from this dilemma. It’s been tough lately, to continue.

Many people edit during those times, and I have plenty to do, but I hate doing it. I love to sit down and let a story take me where it needs to go. As I said, that hasn’t happened for a while.

In my associations and reading blogs, I’ve found many others who’ve also suffered. I sympathize with you.

Yesterday morning, however, I woke up with an idea for my WIP and sat down to write. Before I knew it, a day had passed, and I had written several chapters. Yes, it felt good, and I felt validated. With all the health problems I’ve had during the past year, I had plenty of time to write, but couldn’t bring myself to it. Yesterday, the tide came in, then last night, a crisis took the wind out of my sails.

Now, I’m not telling you all this to solicit any responses from our readers here at the blogck. Well, perhaps recognition that we are all the same. So, why am I telling you this?

One of my favorite movies is Stranger Than Fiction. Big surprise right? A writer who likes a movie about writing and how characters relate. The writing and acting in that movie is impressive. The way the author agonizes over every word then, to suffer when she discovers her character is real and she must kill him off.

Ideas for stories have always come to me full-blown. I’ve known the beginning middle and end from inception. In one story, the tear filled climax was so powerful for me that getting there was easy. All I had to do was explain the story. There have been books, however, that knowing the end made it difficult. In my book, The Hillside, for example, I’ve written nine different points of view and five completely different plots. I needed five different endings and each plot needed to effect the others.

Also, in the past, I’ve kept several projects open to work on whichever strikes me on that day. I haven’t been able to do that lately, and my current project is difficult. It’s a mystery/suspense and I’m having trouble keeping the tension up. In addition, I’m discovering the story as I go. Well, I know why my character is being pursued but the details have eluded me.

So I’ve trudged through it, knowing my writing is better than it used to be. Feeling empathy for those who are struggling, and hoping for a time of enlightened joy. A time when the words come so fast I can barely write them. That happened for me yesterday, and I’m grateful.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Be Accurate--Check Your Facts

By Keith N Fisher

I sat on my front porch trying to fix a corrupt file in order to submit a manuscript the other day. By the time I got it fixed and in the email my battery was flashing warnings. I sent the required documents before my computer slept, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Later, I plugged my computer in and reviewed my cover letter. I found two typos.

“Oh crap,” I thought. “They’re going to think I’m an idiot.”

While stewing about my blunder I thought of a subject I’ve written about before, but I found new object lessons, so I’m back on my soapbox.

I watched an interview the other day in which Lavell Edwards and Ron Mcbride talked a lot about the good old days. For those who don’t live in Utah, they were head football coaches for BYU and U of U. The rivalry between those two schools has been legendary.

The interviewer asked many questions that seemed to spark joyful responses in both men and you could tell they have a warm affection for each other. Many of their recollections brought memories back to me.

Toward the end of the program they spoke about the information age. They agreed they don’t use email and went on to complain about the inaccuracy of some of the blog writers and amateur newscasters on the Internet today. Even the pros, it seems, often get it wrong. Coach Mcbride talked about listening to the radio while driving one day. The radio host got the story completely wrong.

I thought about the absurdity of the situation: here was Ron Mcbride, the man who lived the events, listening to someone tell him how it really was.

As writers of fiction, many of us feel a need to blog. I write weekly here. Also, I write a more personal blog with book reviews and a blog about camp cooking. On occasion, I have gotten things wrong, so I know the danger. I’ve seen ill-advised Facebook statuses that should not have been written, and everyone knows about the possible errors on Wikipedia. I wonder if we will lose our history to those who write inaccuracy. Perhaps we might, if they write loud enough and long enough.

Just because we want a fact to be true doesn’t make it so. Still, if you get enough people to believe your version, does that change history?

As writers, regardless of whether we write fiction or nonfiction. Whether we blog or write short stories, we must be accurate. If we fail, the loss of our history will be partly our fault. Medical doctors take an oath. Perhaps writers should, too.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Does the Light Go Out?

By Keith N Fisher

Do you remember the old debate about the refrigerator light? Does it really go out when you close the door? Another one in the same vein was, if a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody around to hear, does it make a sound?

In our world today, we seek after absolutes. Many of the philosophical debates are cast off in favor of logic. Yet, in the world where writers live, there is conjecture. We think of the tree falling. Not only does it make a sound for us, but also as a dying creature the tree screams as it falls. Then, after it hits the ground, it moans it’s last breath.

Of course the light stays on in the fridge. How else would the creatures see? I remember spending long hours as a child, on my belly staring into the blades of grass. In my imagination, I saw another world. Not unlike the big one I lived in. When I got older, I stopped thinking about the vast jungle in our front lawn and tried to delve into the mysteries of the female heart.

Trees falling and refrigerator lights were nothing as compared to the age-old question, does she? Or doesn’t she? Think of the man picking petals off a daisy, hoping to discover the answer.

Now, I’m older. I’m a writer with several stories in my computer and in my head. Some are finished books most are unfinished. While thinking about a character the other day, something sparked a new debate in my mind. What happens to my characters when I stop writing for the day? Like the refrigerator light, do they just turn off?

There was a character in the Star Trek the next Generation series who came back a couple of times. He was created when Data was playing Sherlock Holmes in the holodeck. Jordi who was playing Dr. Watson, asked the computer to create a mystery that Data couldn’t solve. The Computer created a Moriarity character who was aware. He knew who, and what, he was.

The problem arose, when the character came back and complained about the unbearable length of time he spent, waiting for someone to deal with his situation.

As a writer over the years, I’ve put aside many outlined stories in favor of another, more immediate story. I get back to most of them on occasion, but some of them have waited a long time. I’ve created characters that haven’t seen the limelight of being written about for years. Like Moriarity, do they feel the passage of time?

Of course, this is crazy, but I’m a writer, I deal in conjecture. Any writer will tell you their characters talk to them. Some of them even hijack a story. Do my characters get angry when I ignore them? What do you suppose would happen when the murderous antagonist from my old west story crossed over into my coming of age?

Sounds like good fodder for another project. The characters are already written.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Being Qualified to Overcome Fears

By Keith N Fisher

The Conference is underway, and the classes are terrific. I’m also getting reacquainted with friends, colleagues, and publishers. Do you remember my post a few weeks ago when I talked about Star Wars and what I’d like to see in the next movies? Well, yesterday, I listened to the man who wrote the stories.

Kevin J Anderson was our keynote speaker at the conference, and I’m scheduled to take a class from him this morning. In his address, Kevin talked about being given the opportunity to write Star Wars stories and he wrote the trilogy that I wished for. Kevin has enjoyed a wonderful career writing more books than I could read in . . . well, it would take a long time. He also co-authored a book with Dean Koontz.

Kevin ended his speech by pointing out his career has gone the way it has because he was willing and ready to act when the opportunity came along. I thought about that and wondered if I would be ready. Like many of you I’ve always thought of my writing as a personal thing. I want to pick my projects and do them, my way.

That isn’t to say, Kevin hasn’t written his stories his way, but I’ve turned down opportunities to write biographies and other write on demand projects. My reasons have always been my unwillingness to give up my independence. Now, I’m wondering how many career making chances I’ve boggled.

I talk a big talk about my dedication to this craft, but am I really just afraid? If George Lucas offered me a chance to write what Kevin wrote, I would be honored, but would I do it? Fear of failure runs deep in my life.

Many years ago, my father pulled some strings to get me into the Milrights local of the carpenters union. I didn’t know much then. In fact, most apprentices could show me up without effort. I kept my head down and paid attention learning more about precision tools for alignment everyday. I worked on several projects as an apprentice. Then, the business agent sent me on a job out of state. I’m sure he thought he did my father a favor by sending me out as a journeyman, but it was obvious to the crew that I was a fake.

I did my best and ended up replacing the decking on a cooling tower. I also retrieved dropped tools from inside. Imagine climbing into a framework of hot wood with hot water dripping down on you. The rising steam makes you feel like a steamed lobster.

The point of the story is qualifications. There were many things taught to me by my father, including balancing a drive shaft for a turbine, but I knew I wasn’t qualified and I was frightened. That, I believe, holds me back in my writing. After all, I’m not an English major. In fact I failed the subject in high school. Is that too much info? Do you think less of me now?

It’s time to move on. I’m not getting any younger. I’m going to accept the offers that come my way. Then, if in the meantime, my fiction gets published, I will be able to look back on the career I always wanted, but felt unqualified for.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I'm So Excited

By Keith N Fisher

No, I’m not going to sing the song by the Pointer Sisters, and I’m not about to lose control. Still I caught myself packing my rolling backpack and ordered some new business cards. The LDStorymakers writer’s conference is less than a week away.

This year, I robbed my retirement to pay for it, so I plan to enjoy. I’ve attended every one, since the 2006 conference and I’ve never failed to learn something. Each year, the grin on my face lasts for several months and I am renewed.

In my exuberance to get ready, I pulled up the working file of my old business card creation and ran into a brick wall. The program I’d used to make them is on my old computer. When I tried to load it onto my current machine, I found that Windows 7 won’t allow it to run.

Undaunted, I realized I’d dealt with this problem before. When I bought my first Pentium, it came with Windows 98. One of my CAD programs was designed to run through DOS and I had been using it on my 486 DX with Windows 3.1, then 95. As you probably know, Windows originally ran on top of DOS. Windows 98 changed that. I eventually figured out I could run my DOS program straight from the hard drive and not through Windows.

My fix worked in Windows XP too, but apparently, Windows 7 has eliminated that ability. My old software might have to be upgraded. Does that sound like a conspiracy to get more money out of me?

Anyway, all of this reminiscing made me recall some of the things I used to do with computers. There were many cutting edge programs that aren’t relevant anymore. Some of them are smart phone apps now. I started writing on computers using Word Perfect and I can still remember that blue screen.

During my journey through the past, I remembered the time before the personal computer. When writing was done with pen and paper or, on my old Royal, long carriage, manual typewriter. My first manuscript wasn’t a manuscript at all. I’ve mentioned that my writing started with a story about a college girl who gets kidnapped, but my writing actually began with a sci-fi space adventure. It was a cross between Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, with a little Star Wars thrown in.

It was horrible. I chucked it, and got on with my life. Then came the personal computer . . .

These days I can write on my laptop, lying in bed with the covers pulled up. I sometimes fall asleep doing that, but it’s comfortable. Getting back to my business card, I finally took the TIFF into Photo Shop and erased, then retyped. Later, I temporarily resurrected my old computer and made a new card with my picture on it. I printed them both.

Now that I have 300 cards, my book will probably come out and I’ll have to make another.

Good luck in your writing---see you next week at the conference. I will be the one with a pocket full of new cards.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"I Shall Never"

By Keith N Fisher

As Writers in the LDS market, we have obligations to write things that will pass through the censors of an LDS publisher. If we don’t, and it’s bad enough, said publisher will likely pass on our manuscript and we will be left unpublished. “Yes, of course,” you say. “That’s a given, but what about the national market?”

I think I can answer that question with a simple, its up to you. I came across a quote attributed to Jack London this week where he said, “I’ve never written a line I’d be ashamed for my young daughters to read, and I shall never write such a line.” Jack had socialist and racist views. He often wrote stories filled with descriptive violence, but he was proud of what he wrote.

As a writer, and a member of the LDS religion, I could amend London’s statement with, I will write nothing that will offend my ecclesiastical leaders. I guess it depends on your own conscience, and how many people know you are LDS, but it’s not about embarrassing the Church. As an LDS Writer, people expect certain things of you. If you don’t measure up, it speaks volumes about your character. Still, it truly is a gray area, subject to many opinions whether you write in the LDS market or not.

This became the subject for discussion one day while I talked with a couple of authors. Each one told similar stories. It seems that no matter how gingerly an author deals with an issue, there will be somebody who is offended by it. For evidence of this, look at the banning of Twilight from Deseret Book. Apparently, many people complained, and it was taken off the shelves. Stephanie Myers is LDS and she wrote the series she felt good about, yet somebody complained.

So, where do we draw the line? How do we keep readers from judging our work harshly? The short answer is we can’t. Like everything inherent in the Gospel, everyone is on a different track. If we write what we believe is clean, and we feel good about it, we’ve done our job. Our words are bound to affect someone for good. I’ve seen people change their lives for the better, because of something they read in an obscure book.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.