Saturday, March 31, 2012

Same Game-Different Application

By Keith N Fisher

I sat on my front porch with my eyes closed the other day. I tried to imagine myself into another realm or fall asleep, whichever came first. The neighborhood little kids were playing some kind of war game. Maybe it was cops and robbers, I couldn’t tell for sure.

They pointed toy guns, or other facsimiles, and shouted, bang, bang, bang, at each other. I remembered when I was their age and playing make believe was my favorite game. We did it different, though. We made noises with our tongues. We thought it sounded like machine guns and we tried to imitate explosion sounds. We never shouted bang. That was amateur.

As I listened to World War Three in the neighborhood, I thought of the lyrics to a Rolling Stones song. I believe Keith Richards wrote it. As the story goes, a man watches children play in a park and ponders how much easier life had been, when he was younger. The third verse of, As Tears Go By, reads,

It is the evening of the day,
I sit and watch the children play.
Doing things I used to do,
They think are new.
I sit and watch as tears go by.

My childhood in the sixties was pretty carefree. Life was simple, yet hard in various ways. I learned to love make believe and I never shed that love. Now, instead of playing war games, western heroes, or pretending to be a super hero, I write about them.

I sat on my porch and reflected on the plotting problem I’m having with my latest work in progress. I’m writing a suspense story and I’m having problems keeping up the action. I like my character and I keep wanting to let her rest, but I have to take her from the skillet and drop her into the flames of the fire, then write her out of the flame before she gets too burned.

When we were kids, the action was intense. One of us would say, “Let's pretend that . . .” and another would add more. Before we knew it, the game had changed. We were running around trying to keep up with each other, still enjoying the game. I wish I could plot a book that fast. Writing is harder, because the new stuff has to fit the old stuff. I have to make it relevant. Perhaps I should pretend I’m a sleep on the front porch more often and let the kids plot my stories.

Good plotting is an art form, much like playing make believe. Try to imagine yourself in your story and let your mind wander. What are the possibilities? Don’t worry about relevance, just write it down, but hurry, because the next idea is on its way. Instead of playing let’s pretend, you will be playing what if. Your story will be better.

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

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Whatever It Takes

By Keith N Fisher

When I submitted one of my manuscripts to a publisher once, I had to fill out a survey to send with it. One of the questions asked if I had the time and means needed to promote my book. Would I be willing to take time off from work to do so? My answer was succinct and direct. I wrote; I am fully committed to do whatever it takes to market my book.

Later, when submitting another manuscript, I ammended my answer and said, I am fully committed to the success of this manuscript. I believe in its ability to touch hearts and I am always working to build a platform that will ensure it’s prosperity.

The first book was rejected, but not because of my unwillingness to promote it. I hadn’t written a good book.

I’m a much better writer now, but I worry that publishers look at my online presence and frown because I don’t do more. I have a friend who goes into Facebook profiles and harvests the friends of friends. I discovered it one day when I noticed my cousin on the list. My friend has built an online following that almost guarantees book sales. Posting cute and funny stuff helps too. Becoming popular with writers and readers before your book comes out will reflect your determination to sell your book, and publishers love it.

Don’t misunderstand, I have an online presence and I network at every function, but many of my peers do much more. So I ask myself, how committed am I? Will my preoccupation with daily trials and living, prevent the publication of my manuscript?

Doing whatever it takes could mean quitting my job to write full time without building a successful writing career first. In our culture, a man with a family just doesn’t do that, but finding a happy medium means getting bogged down in the day to day.

My answer to the survey is sound. I do believe in the success of my manuscript and I’m willing to do anything to ensure its fulfillment. As for right now though, I’m a frustrated marketing engineer, uncomfortably wrestling with the success of others, hoping I will be able to copy portions of it.

My advice to you, and me is, do what you can. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t the blog queen/king. Establish a presence online but don’t make a pest of yourself. It is possible to post too much on Facebook, and most people don’t care about your dog’s fifth pedicure. the first one is fine.

Go to book launches and meet people. Make friends in bookstores and at conferences. Be a good supporter of others and they will remember you when it comes time to buy your book.

Above all, don’t forget to write. Polish your craft and submit your best work. Then, when your book is on it’s way, start promoting it. Sell it with all the gusto you have. Be careful you don’t make a pest of your self. There’s nothing worse than a salesman who sticks his foot in the door.

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


One more, quick note before I go. When I look back on this past week of blogs I just want to say wow. Having everyone post, hasn’t happened for a while. It’s great to have good writers on the staff.

The LDS Writer’s Blogck will soon have an anniversary. It will be six years since it started. Perhaps we can sponsor several contests during that time, and give back some of the love we’ve received over the years.

On a personal note, I look back on those years of posting, with pride, for a few reasons. One is the diversity of subjects I’ve addressed. Although there have been a couple of late posts I’ve never missed a week, and I’m very proud of that too. One thing that stands out is my signature. I end every post with Good Luck with your writing---see you next week.

I got a kick out of TJ’s signature and I noticed Gaynell posted something similar to mine yesterday. I just want you, the reader, to know I really do wish you good luck. I count your success as a reason to keep posting. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your patience.

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

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Keep Going

By Keith N Fisher

Several years ago, at Christmas time, my wife and I attended seven funerals or wakes. Wendy lost her brother, and we lost many other close friends and relatives. I remember repeating the joke that; the cemetery is a popular place---people are dying to get in there.

Kidding aside, it was a sad time for us. A chance to evaluate our lives and relationships. An opportunity for gratitude in the good memories we had.

A few years later, I lost both of my grand mothers within four months of each other. Again, it was a time for reflection and gratitude.

Maybe it’s a byproduct of getting older, but since then, I’ve lost many more friends and relatives, even my father, in 2009. For some, death came suddenly. Others died of cancer, a couple of them killed themselves, which is never easy to deal with, but I’m grateful I had the chance to know them all.

I do, however, regret the death of one our pets. The cat didn’t really like me, but he was my daughter’s best friend. He gave her companionship he would never have given any other soul. She misses him, and I feel for her. Well, I guess I miss him, too.

Through all of this, I was drawn into contemplation and I’m learning a lesson. In most of the cases, the victim fought long and hard. They didn’t give in to those entities who would destroy them.

Leaving that for moment, I have a confession to make. I am a writer. It’s what I do, but because of health issues, and the struggle of earning a living in my day job, I’ve found it difficult to write lately. My work ethic forces me to ignore my health and keep going, but I admit to contemplating my own demise. Not suicide, but wondering how my loved ones will make it without me.

In the past, retreating into my writing has provided solace, but focussing has been difficult lately. Then I thought of the lessons learned from my late friends and family members. There is great power in fighting, never giving in to what I call the wrecking crew. (Those who would have me fail.) I vow to keep going. Writing for me has always been a personal thing. I can’t wait for the solace to return, and it will return. I’ve attached a poem that might help us all.

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

By Frank L. Stanton (1857-1927)

If you strike a thorn or rose,
Keep a-goin'!
If it hails or if it snows,
Keep a-goin'!
'Taint no use to sit an' whine
When the fish ain't on your line;
Bait your hook an' keep a-tryin'--
Keep a-goin'!

When the weather kills your crop,
Keep a-goin'!
Though 'tis work to reach the top,
Keep a-goin'!
S'pose you're out o' ev'ry dime,
Gittin' broke ain't any crime;
Tell the world you're feelin' prime--
Keep a-goin'!

When it looks like all is up,
Keep a-goin'!
Drain the sweetness from the cup,
Keep a-goin'!
See the wild birds on the wing,
Hear the bells that sweetly ring,
When you feel like singin', sing--
Keep a-goin'!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Old Style of Writing---New Technology

By Keith N Fisher

I’ve been watching both trilogies of Star Wars lately. Although the light saber scenes in 1977 left a lot to be desired, I’m still impressed with the plot lines throughout. I found myself wishing for another trilogy. I want Luke to go to Coruscant, the city planet with its name restored, now that the emperor is dead.

While there, he goes to the ruined Jedi temple and learns of the Jedi ways from the computer. Luke then, begins to rebuild the order and re-establishes the council. Wouldn’t it be fun to bring back Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher?

There have been books written that deal with the premise, which brings me to the point of sticking to a style. Many people write what is called fan fiction. They continue a story, or write a whole new one based on a popular movie. Many of those writers also run into the problem of non-conducive story lines. In their arrogance, they write stories that change facts already established. Diehard fans don’t appreciate that.

Also, keep in mind that many original writers discourage fan fiction. Some threaten to sue. I started writing a story based on a comic strip once, and quit because of the unyielding attitude of the dead author’s estate. I suppose, if I wait long enough, it will be in public domain.

Don’t fall into the trap and begin to think the story is yours. Be careful, do your research, and stick with the manual of what has come before. If you write a Star Wars story, and if it’s good enough, maybe George Lucus will use it in the next trilogy.

Last week I wrote about the Inklings literary group and talked about my own critique group. There is nothing like having people to talk with about your struggles. A good critique group will offer support, not just writing help. They will help you keep going, even when you doubt your ability to write a shopping list.

In my group this week, one of the members couldn’t get away, so we set her up on Skype and she participated from home. Of course we had to email our chapters to her so she could follow along, but what a world we live in. Writing has evolved from drawing on cave walls, to words on paper, to pixels on a computer screen. Now, just like the Jedi in the image (above), we can be somewhere without actually being there.

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