Monday, September 29, 2014

Everything is Something to Learn

Something I've recently realized (a little too recently considering how long I've been writing) is that every experience, good or bad, joyful, sorrowful, humiliating, or strange, is potential. Every moment of life you experience is a moment you can accurately reproduce in your stories, should the need arise. The more you're aware, the more you absorb, the more real you can write.

I learned a lot this past week. Whether I'll ever need it or not, I don't know, but if I do, it's there now.

Now I know about the size and beauty of El Paso, TX, especially at night.

Now I know how a three-foot tall, 28lb toddler can KO a full-grown adult.

Now I know  the process of a military funeral.

Every little thing's a lesson for a writer. Every moment is potential. There's nothing quite like laying someone to rest to remind you to appreciate every single one.

And if for some reason you need a toddler to take out an adult, have said toddler lock their legs around the seated adult's legs at the last second while she tries to put the toddler on the ground in front of her. When the adult realizes too late that the toddler's feet are not where her center of balance said they should be, gravity and trying to avoid squishing the child will take care of the rest.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Two Feet Back On A Round Earth

As of yesterday, my ten-book reading spree is done. It's kinda sad, honestly. Part of me wants to keep going. It's been so nice, curling up with a book again and just letting go of the surrounding world, and there are so many books to read. But I can't stay on the Disc forever. My own work is calling and NaNoWriMo approaches. I learned something from this experience, though. Whenever I'm writing, I try NOT to read. It's that old fear of being influenced by the books I dive into, of my words turning into someone else's. But then I end up drained of writing and, well, the last month happens. So that's two extremes I can't take. I can't write everyday, and I can't write without reading. The muse just can't handle it.

So what now? I'm going to put more focus on that little list on the right. I'm going to learn to read and write at the same time, and to let myself do so. No guilt, no fear, I'm just filling the tank. Because letting it get empty is bound to leave me stranded.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Guest Post: Abner Senires on Speedbumps

Good morning! I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend. With the last summer holiday now in the past, it's time to look towards cooler weather... eventually. What this weekend meant for me was the release of my friend Abner Senires' new book and the start of his blog tour! I'm honored to be a part of it and have him here as my first ever guest post. Please welcome him and look up his series, KAT AND MOUSE, GUNS FOR HIRE if futuristic pulp action with a pair of badass ladies behind the guns sounds good to you.

Now, over to Abner!

Before I start, I'd like to thank Maggie for hosting me today for this stop on the KAT AND MOUSE SEASON TWO book blog tour.

When she asked me to write about any "speedbumps" I might have encountered on the writing road, I decided, after some thought, to write about...

The Mother of All Writing Speedbumps

There are, of course, all sorts of speedbumps on the road of writing.

Sometimes they're called "writer's block." Sometimes, "not enough time." Sometimes, "uninspired." Other times, "self-doubt of our writing ability." Still others, "Real Life."

By themselves, they're easy enough to conquer.

Writer's block? Maybe it's time to recharge the creative batteries by reading, watching a movie, doing another creative task like painting or woodworking, or just getting out of the house and being active.

Not enough time? Schedule it in and stick to it. Even if it's just ten minutes a day. It'll add up.

Uninspired? Recharge, as I mentioned above.

Self-doubt about our ability? Positive self-talk can usually help. And it often happens that what we might see as negative, those around us might see as positive. That page of dialogue we thought sounded contrived? Your beta reader might think it was packed with dramatic subtext.

Real Life? Sometimes you just have to hold on tight and get through that dark tunnel to the light at the other end.

At least, those are my approaches to each speedbump above.

Your tactics may differ.

Sometimes, speedbumps double up. Writer's block plus self-doubt. Real Life plus uninspired. Not enough time plus uninspired.

And then there's the Mother of All Writing Speedbumps. The one in the title to this post.

I hit that one earlier this year.

It wasn't all at once, mind you. No. It had been building up for at least several months to a year and a half prior. Writer's block and being uninspired that was slowly not being solved by recharging the tanks, doing other creative things, or being active. Lack of time that was growing. Real Life that saw no sign of a light at the end of the tunnel. Self-doubt that started to become a gnawing thing that somehow latched on and wouldn't let go.

They came in waves during most of 2011 and 2012. Attack. Retreat. Attack. Retreat. One at a time. Then all was well. Then two at a time. Then all was well.

Over and over.

Then in late 2012, I hit four of those speedbumps. One after the other.

Writer's block. Uninspired. Not enough time. Self-doubt.

And suddenly I found myself in mental quicksand. Struggle too much and I'd start to sink faster. All I could do was move slowly to get myself out.

And moving slowly took time.

And when I did get out, I thought the worst was over. At that point, toward the end of 2013, things looked like they were starting to turn around.

Man, did I have it wrong.


Little did I realize that in those last few months of 2013, the speedbumps were massing for an attack.

Two weeks into 2014, an incident sent me careening into the Mother of All Writing Speedbumps.

All five speedbumps.

At one time.

Writer's block. Uninspired. Not enough time. Self-doubt. Real Life.

Crash and burn. Michael Bay-style.

When the crashing and burning finished, I found myself in a deep dark place staring at the abyss.

And the abyss was staring back at me.

And then the abyss grabbed me by the face and yanked me deeper into that darkness.

In that darkness I vowed never to write again.

I gave up on writing fiction.

In that darkness I closed down the website. Turned off the blog. Goodreads. Twitter.

And retreated into the darkness.

Never again, I thought to myself. Never again would I subject myself to the heartache, mental anguish, and depression the incident unleashed.


No way.

But the Universe has a funny way of making sure you're doing what you're supposed to be doing. Especially for those of us who've answered a calling. A purpose. A destiny. (Yeah, a little dramatic, but hopefully you get the drift.)

In my case, I had embraced being a working writer of fiction.

The Universe, in its infinite wisdom, was looking out for me, to make sure I did, and would continue to do, just that.

Sure I had shut down the website and the blog and the Goodreads and the Twitter.

But, and here's the important bit: I never deleted anything.

The website was still there but the links on the main page were just missing. The blog was there, too, but I'd made it private instead of public. I removed my Goodreads Author page but my personal account was still active. And Twitter was still there. I just didn't use it.

It's as if the Universe said to itself: "Okay, he's being an idiot. I know it. He doesn't, 'cuz he's not paying attention. So I'm just going to put in this hidden entrance. For later use. And not say anything to him."

Laugh if you want. Call it "woo-woo-out-there-crazy-talk" if you must. I firmly believe if you've embraced a calling or purpose or destiny with every fiber of your being, if you've internalized it down to your very core, it will never go away. To paraphrase a character from Robert Heinlein's The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, you might be cured of writing, but not of the need to write; you may end up sitting in a corner, trembling.

So while I thought I had given up writing fiction, I really hadn't.

Maybe what I needed at that point was distance from everything. Maybe I needed to not write for a little while. Maybe I needed to hibernate.

Maybe do a cold reboot.

Whatever it was, the Mother of All Speedbumps triggered it and it took place over the course of four weeks.

On the morning after those four weeks and four days, the Universe woke me up, grabbed me by the short and curlies, stuck its ugly mug in my face, turned into Gunny Ermey, and screamed: "YOU STUPID FRAKING IDIOT!!! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?!? NUKE IT FROM ORBIT, GET YOU HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS, AND GET BACK TO WORK!!!"

I think it was a cold reboot.

Because shortly after that, I was ready.

Ready to kick writing ass.

Damn the speedbumps. Damn the torpedoes.

Full speed ahead.

Go time.

Abner Senires writes sci-fi pulp adventure and probably drinks far too much coffee. He lives just outside Seattle, WA with his wife and a pair of rambunctious cats.

TWITTER: @abnersenires

Things are heating up for near-future female mercenaries Kat and Mouse as they tackle even more hair-raising jobs for shadowy clients and run afoul of terrorists, freedom fighters, hired assassins, a Japanese crime syndicate, and warring punkergangs. And smack in the middle of this, an enemy from the past is back and wants revenge on the duo.

Now these two sassy sisters-in-arms must fight back and survive...and still get their jobs done.

Available from: