Living Outside The Box Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man


Writing Is Hard

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


I barely pulled this one out. Did I write 50,000 words in 30 days? Yes. Was it pretty? No.

As I've said before, NaNoWriMo isn't a challenge for me, as much as it is a learning opportunity. Don't get me wrong, it's hard. But I learned so much from it compared to the last few times I've tried and failed.

In fact, I learned more during this month's 50K challenge than I have in the last few years combined. I learned how to outline a plot, I learned how to focus better, and I learned that actually putting words on paper is only half the work.


Update On NaNoWriMo

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

I'm past the halfway point in writing a draft for NaNoWriMo. I've written more than 25K words in the last two weeks. I'm a writer, and gosh darn it, I #amwriting.

I've had some successes, and some setbacks. This is not my first, or even my second (or third) attempt at winning NaNoWriMo. But I think I'm going to win it this time, and the funny thing is, it doesn't really matter if I do or don't. Maybe that's why.

I was able to outline my whole story plot, and let me tell you, it has made all the difference! It felt dumb at the time, but as I've plowed through the story, it's helped tremendously. I have no one to thank for that except Larry Correia and John Brown.

The down side to this is that I'm realizing my story is lacking in several areas as I go through it. Specifically, I haven't done enough world-building and fleshing out of the setting. It was vague, and for making an epic urban fantasy realm, vague doesn't cut it. It needs more detail, and so I'll have to dig deep and come up with something original.

I've also been watching and reading stories that are in the same genre as mine, to get a feel for what amount of detail is needed to really bring the world to life. Like, how do you write awesome fight scenes? What's involved in magic? What kind of weapons do they use, what kind of terrain is there, what are they fighting? I outlined some of that stuff, but not enough to make it really stand out.

Essentially, I didn't outline enough. Which is crazy, cause I spent like 2 weeks on just the outline!

Moving forward, I will try to throw in tidbits of detail to really bring the story to life, and hopefully the story will take on a life of its own.


NaNoWriMo: The Journey Begins

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

For those who aren't aware, November is National Novel Writing Month. What does that mean? It means that thousands of people will be trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I'll probably do it, too.

The Bad News: If you need to find motivation to write 50,000 words, then you're going to have a hard time. Chances are if your story isn't just bursting out of your fingertips, you're going to struggle. You're probably going to feel like your story isn't making progress, and you'll feel frustrated if things don't end up the way you imagined.

The Good News: You can still write 50,000 words. It will be a learning experience, and you'll grow from it. You'll find ways to get around writer's block, you'll figure out what works and what doesn't.

If this is your first time attempting NaNoWriMo, then focus on learning to write consistently. That is more important than doing it "right" or making the perfect first novel (a bit of advice: that almost never happens). If you go into it understanding these truths, then your experience will be exactly what it's meant to be: a learning experience.


Pre-November Preview

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Things have been steadily moving forward with my current novel project. I'm getting the outline to the point where it almost writes itself, which is exactly where it needs to be.

This is the time where I decide if I want to officially try to "win" at NaNoWriMo this year. I'm of course thinking about how all the horrible fanfic and chick-lit authors will swarm the NaNo boards and discussions, talking about stuff I'm not the least bit interested in. I don't have to participate, of course, but that takes some of the fun out of it.

I am noticing that more and more writers are foregoing the whole "story" idea and just writing mush. As I've written previously, I have issues with contrived stories that lack focus... I ought to know, I wrote one!


Marketing And Self-Promotion

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

For me, marketing is a something of a sticking point. As a general rule, I don't like marketing, for several reasons. Usually it's because they're trying to sell something that nobody needs.

So when I think "how can I reach more people" my first response is "Oh God, I'm becoming a marketer!"

But it's a question I have to start thinking about now if I'm ever going to consider writing for a living. I don't like screaming for attention, but in person, I tend to... how shall I say this... stick out in a crowd. I like interacting with people, but I don't see that as marketing. Why?

Because it's a two-way street. It's communication, not an advertisement. And advertisements annoy me because they assume they know what you want, when in fact 99% of the time they have no idea. But with communication, I can ask questions and adjust the conversation to suit that particular interest, or maybe segue into a related topic.


The Plot Thickens

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

I've been a fan of multi-book series since I started reading novels. There's something magical about reading story after story with the same characters developing, following along with them, seeing them overcome struggles and hardship. After reading a whole series with the same protagonists, you get attached to them.

But for the writer, stretching out a story across multiple books get increasingly harder the further you go. At least, if you want to keep it interesting.

When I decided I wanted to write a book series, part of me said "Yeah! Let's do this!" and the other part of me said "Oh geez, now I have to write plots for all those books!"

And plotting is something I am loath to do. Yes, I know it's critical, but my brain often spews forth ideas faster than I can capture them. And when I do come up with a great story idea, I tend to not know when to quit, and I hammer it to death, or let it fall apart because I want to cram more stuff in there.

There's a fine balance between "really good story" and "mind-bending psychological train wreck." I want to get as close to that line as I can get without going overboard. And of course, there's the fact that each book needs to be a story in and of itself, and yet still be coherent and open-ended enough to make a broad-reaching story arc.


Creativity, and NaNoWriMo

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Fall is coming. That means November, a.k.a. National Novel Writing Month is also rapidly approaching.

For the last few years, I've been trying to work on drafting another novel- a couple of them, in fact- and I haven't been able to put enough time into it to really make a dent in it. I've discussed it before, in fact.

My friend(s) who are single are writing up a storm, and then asking me "when are you going to have time to edit my book?" to which I have to laugh. (I love you, man, I really do.) I don't even have time to work on mine, much less edit other people's. I don't have time to work on my bikes, fix my car, work on my music projects. I certainly don't have time to work on other people's. But they still ask, and I still want to help, because I'm just that kind of guy.

In fact, I've gotten so busy, I've had to slow down my creative freight train (thank you, ADD brain) just in order to get simple things done. Like cooking dinner, showering, sleeping, and other semi-important stuff.

I've been working on outlining my novel plots, which is new territory for me. I generally enjoy writing off the cuff without an outline, but this poses problems for me when I'm trying to bring the story to a close.

I have to be satisfied to just keep thinking about it, taking notes, and when the opportunity presents itself, I'll pull the 100+ hours it takes to actually write the book (not to mention editing it).

We'll see how it goes. I have nine weeks to decide whether or not I want to try to "win" NaNoWriMo again this year.


Change “I Want” to “I Will”

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Recently, I was reading a Charlotte Mason book on homeschooling, and came across this quote:

Children should be taught to distinguish between "I want" and "I will".

And it got me thinking. This is primarily directed towards teaching and training children, but it struck me how applicable this is to everybody, especially in today's ridiculously backwards society.

How many times have we said to ourselves, "I just want...." or even "I'd really like it if..." when we really are saying "I wish things were different." The truth is, we can't change anything except ourselves, which includes our attitudes.

What if instead of saying "I want to know more about God" we say something like "I will spend twenty minutes a day reading my Bible." Did you know you can read through the entire Bible in about 90 days if you read 20 minutes a day?

Instead of saying "I want to write a book" we say "I will spend an hour today writing." Did you know if you can write 1500 words a day, you can write a novel in about a month?

Instead of saying "I want to save for retirement" we instead say "I will stop eating out and wasting money, and put that into my 401K." Did you know you can retire early (and even be debt-free!) if you do simple things like this? It's not as difficult as it sounds.

What if instead of "I want to lose weight and get in shape" we say "I will eat smaller meals, and get a little more exercise?" Did you know, just controlling your meal portions and getting a few hours of exercise a week is all it takes? Like 40 pounds in 3 months.

What it boils down to, then, is that we always want things to happen, but we're not willing to take the first step. And truthfully, most things we want to accomplish are easily doable if we just take it one step at a time.

How do I know this? Because I've done all four of these things. I'm not a superhero, either. And they weren't that hard if you break them down into manageable chunks. It's not magic! It just takes the willingness to take the first step.

So... don't just say "I want." Nothing will change.

Get up and take the first step.


Novel Excerpt, Scene from Chapter 11

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

The feeling that had settled in Mike's gut was unlike anything he'd felt before. It sank into his stomach like a stone weight, almost to the point of dragging him down physically. Even though there was little chance the plan wouldn't work, it did nothing to calm his nerves.

"Okay," Mike said, drawing in a long breath and letting it out slowly. "Here's what we're going to do." He tried to collect his thoughts, though the talk was really only a benefit to Bob. Petty already knew most of the plan, and Thad didn't care as long as someone told him what to do.

"You've kept us waiting," Bob said impatiently. "Could you get to it?"

"I know, I'm sorry. I guess it took me a while to figure out what we could actually get away with."

"It's fine," Petty added. "Just walk us through it."

"Right." Mike cleared his throat for emphasis. "We've already got the tracker on Agent Simon's car. Thad's remote unit will allow us to disable it when necessary."

Thad nodded in agreement.

"The easy part will be getting them to follow us to where the setup will happen. The hard part," Mike said more slowly, "will be to get them to see what we want them to see. There will, of course, be a thorough police forensics investigation afterwards, but we've accounted for that."

Petty shot him a wink, to which Mike smiled.

"Are you sure you've planned out the switch well enough?" Bob asked. "Do you have some sort of diagram or map? I don't feel comfortable with this unless I can see how it works out on paper."

"Fair enough," Mike said. "For now, it's going to simply be a fake accident, and nobody will be the wiser."

"If you say so," Bob said. "I still think it's risky."

"It is," Mike said with some hesitation. "If we didn't do it this way, there would be no way to get the feds off our tail for good." His lip turned down in a half-frown. "There's no other way."

He placed a large folded sheet of paper on the table and grinned. "There you go," he said to Bob, "I figured you'd want to see it. All the points are there, everything is accounted for."

For a minute or two Bob examined the drawing, scrutinizing every line and number. Finally, he looked up at Mike and raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure you want to do it here?" He shook his head. "That's a long ways, man."

"I know," Mike admitted. "It's very risky. But I know we can do this."

Bob chewed his lip in thought, until he finally threw up his hands. "Fine," he said. "I don't like it, though."

"I figured you wouldn't," Petty said with a chuckle. "I know how much you hate water."

"Absolutely!" Bob shot back. "You know I can't stand swimming."

Mike turned to Thad, who had remained unusually silent up to that point, and asked, "What do you think?"

A huge grin came over Thad's face. "I say, mate, it's bloody brilliant!"

"Thanks," Mike said with a nod.

"I'm with Robert, though, I don't think it'll fool them."

"Oh, come on!" Mike insisted. "It'll work, trust me!"

"What makes you think so?" Bob asked.

"Because," Petty interrupted, "we've got the feds on our side this time!"

It took a few seconds before the look of shock faded from Bob and Thad's faces.

"Come again?" Thad asked.

"The feds know about it," Mike answered. "In fact, they helped me come up with part of it."

"Absolutely not!" Bob shouted as he stood up, knocking the table to the side. "You can't trust them!"

"I know," Mike said, holding his hands up. "Just hear me out."

"Ah, you little devil, you!" Thad said, his grin returning. "You figured on that all along, didn't you?"

"Absolutely," Mike said with a nod. "I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid!"

"Well, then," Petty said with an audible sigh of relief, "the only thing left to figure out is who's vehicle we'll use to make it happen."

"The van would have room for all the equipment we'd need," Bob observed.

"I know," Mike answered. "That's why we're going to use Pettys' Cuda instead.

The last thing Petty remembered was the room going dark and spinning, and then everything went black.


You Know I’m Lazy When…

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Cause it’s taking me forever to finish editing my book. Yes, I “finished” writing it in November of last year. However, the ending was horrible. I decided to redo it. That re-write of the last 4 chapters has taken me close to 8 months to complete.

If you follow writers, this shouldn’t surprise you. They rarely write a book (worth reading) in less than a year. It’s just a massive feat, and anybody who says otherwise obviously hasn’t tried it.

However, I’m actually finishing mine up now. It will get sent to a few select readers who can give me unbiased eyes, and I will do the last few corrections… and then it will be ready to format for print.

Holy cow! It’ll be finished just in time for November, when I’ll have to write another one… :P

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