Making Flash Fiction Your Bitch

Get it? "Flash" punching a dude into submission? :: ahem :: Anyway...

Get it? “Flash” punching a dude into submission? :: ahem :: Anyway…

Ever on the lookout for blogging inspiration–no matter what bush it peeks out of–this Facebook exchange with my writerly friend, Brittany Larson, has a good feel to it. Blog-worthy, I believe. From a random interaction amongst the social media bushes: Making Flash Fiction Your Bitch.

Brittany: HEY! I need some advice on some writing!

Lucas: Ok. I’ve got a few minutes. What’s up?

Brittany: Well I have this story idea swirling around my head about the 3 Archangels Micheal (The Angel Of Mercy) Gabriel (The Messenger Angel) And Azrael (The Angel of Death) And they are all fallen. And Iwas thinking Gabriel and Micheal stay faithful to God while Azreal goes rogue. He makes a deal with the devil that’s simple Bring me Rachel (My girl protagonist) and I will make you more powerful than God. God appears to Micheal and Gabriel and says stop him and you’re back in heaven. And I am thinking that Micheal will be my main male protagonist (Gabriel more as support) so what happens when Micheal falls in love with Rachel and doesn’t wanna go back to Heaven. Something along those lines. So the first question is: sound good? And also I don’t know if I wanna just start writing now or save it for NaNo.

Lucas: Is this a story you will try to market to agents/publishers? I only ask because a few months back many were groaning about the massive amount of “Angel” stories: fallen ones falling in love with a human. There are a lot of those on the market already. So, it’s a trope the pros don’t much care for anymore.

Brittany: Yeah…see I am not too sure. I am thinking. Truly I have never made it even far enough to think about sending it to publishers.

Lucas: A twist would be good. Can they be fallen gods instead of angels? And love triangles are always sellable. Maybe one naughty god in love with your mortal, Rachel, but a second god in love with the first & fighting the matchup? Or, make them aliens, or zombies, or any other creature. Then you could go with the same basic plot without stepping into the Angels theme. If you’re not going to shop it, then just go with whatever the heck makes you happy as a writer!

Brittany: True…true. That would be interesting. And yeah…see I am still debating whether to just write it or save it for NaNo…because I mean I have it written down so I don’t forget it.

Lucas: You’ll have more ideas before Nano! It’s always good to keep writing. Like flexing your muscles to make you stronger.

Brittany: True true. And I sure hope so. This is the Biggest Aha! Moment I have had in a while. My Nano idea wasn’t this solid.

Lucas: Here’s a cool trick for discovering ideas that are novel worthy: just start with a flash fiction of your story. Write out a key scene in 1000 words or less. Focus on using as little words as possible to convey setting, character, conflict.

Brittany: Thanks That really helps

Lucas: Still have the story arc of intro, conflict, climax, closure. This helps me weed out ideas as either long-running or short lived. If the idea feels “done” or exorcised, then cool. You have a flash fiction story. But, if you find the character’s voice and keep thinking about his/her life, then it’s time to plot for a longer work: short story, novella, novel.

Brittany: Yeah. Thanks for the advice

Lucas: You’re welcome, yo. Mind if I post this interaction on my blog in a few days? “I’d rather not” is an acceptable response. 😉

Brittany: Oh that’s fine. I really don’t care…I mean it wasn’t personal or anything:)

Lucas: I can keep you anonymous or remove/summarize your novel idea if you’d like.

Brittany: No it’s fine…put in as much detail as you’d like. I’m not shy.

Lucas: Done! Do you have a blog or Twitter account I can link to? Such things often bring you new followers.


So, let’s get Brittany some new followers.

And, let’s get to using Flash Fiction as a test-run for those awesome ideas we keep coming up with. It tests their mettle, and keeps us flexing those writing muscles. Better to weed out the losers before we invest a half a novel’s worth of time before discovering they suck. Also, our writerly friends are awesome sounding boards for our new concepts. They can often spot holes, provide useful feedback, and tune us in to stuff they’ve stumbled upon in the publishing world but we have not.

Now, you know one of the secret tools I use to tame my overzealous ideas. What do you think? Is it worth slipping into your own bag of tricks?

Reporting from the bushes, this is Lucas, signing off.

Bad Writing Tips Immortalization Project – #BadWritingTips

This is a random pic of a Barn Owl. It has nothing to do with the actual post. I have been sitting on it for a while, and decided today is the day to use it.

I suppose tweets are meant to be temporal. Apparently, I am adverse to letting that happen. I’m not the only one. After a world-trending day of #badwritingtips, many writers & authors have salvaged their witty remarks from the wastelands. I am one of these determined bloggers working on the [unofficial] #BadWritingTips Immortalization Project.

Here are the others on the growing list:

@IbecameMyDad –
@nimbuschick –
@BenMyers1 –
@saphirablue84 –
@BookRiot –

If you know of more, please post a link and Twitter handle in the Comments. I will be sure to add them to the list.

My #badwritingtips are immortalized below. If you are a writer, you may enjoy these. If you are a bad writer, you will most likely hate them. Fix it.

Let’s kick things off with an homage Tweet to the originators of the idea. Then, we’ll roll gently into the @gypsyroots version of sarcasm.

1)      All hail the almighty @MeganWhitmer & @andimjulie. Goddesses of the #badwritingtips hashtag phenomenon.

2)      Every chance you get, use a big-ass word: e.g. Bunyanesque, fecundity, preposterousness #badwritingtips

3)      Short sentences. Pop. Staccato lines good. Fragments rock. All the time. All the way through. Keep em short. It is good. #badwritingtips

4)      Your first 3 chapters should be 100% backstory. No action. No dialogue. Readers love that. #badwritingtips

5)      Kill your MC halfway through the novel. Once you establish a new one. Kill her, too. #badwritingtips

6)      Run-on sentences and wordy paragraphs show readers you can hold long thoughts in your head so they should learn how to do it #badwritingtips

7)      Similes and metaphors should be so convoluted that your reader has no idea what you were actually trying to convey. #badwritingtips

8)      Put your climax in the 2nd chapter, then let the final 48 chapters slowly f a d e a w a y . . . #badwritingtips

9)      Each and every amazingly lovely noun & deliciously simple verb should have a minimum of 2 modifiers. To make them sparkle. #badwritingtips

10)   Every word has at least one synonym. USE ALL THE SYNONYMS. #badwritingtips

11)   Writers know best. Especially new ones. Editors and agents are stupid. #badwritingtips

12)   There are no original ideas. Regurgitate what has already been written. #badwritingtips

13)   Your surreal poetry is highly marketable. #badwritingtips

14)   Long-winded titles are best. It works in the music industry. #badwritingtips

15)   Subplots are like seeds. Plant 10x more than you actually need. If they spring up, good. If not, don’t dig them back up. #badwritingtips

16)   All your characters should possess the same personality. This makes it easier for readers to keep up. #badwritingtips

17)   Three-dimensional characters are for movies. In novels, they should be as flat as the page they’re written on. #badwritingtips

18)   Uber-Niche markets are the key for non-fiction. “Holistic Skin Care for Manx Cats” will definitely hit the bestseller list. #badwritingtips

19)   Chapters of 10k words or greater are highly desirable. #badwritingtips

20)   Agents prefer phone calls over email submissions. Never relent. Keep trying until you get through. #badwritingtips

21)   All agencies really prefer snail-mail queries. Their guidelines lie. Perfume, stickers & glitter are all highly recommended. #badwritingtips

22)   Chapter breaks should end with a whimper, not a bang. #badwritingtips

23)   Absolutely! Include your 1960’s band and movie references. Your YA readers won’t get it, but who cares? #badwritingtips

24)   Continuity of storyline is overrated. Mix it up. Non-linear is good. Confusion is great. Keep it up. #badwritingtips

25)   Semi-colons and exclamation marks change things up; use them often! #badwritingtips

26)   Commas are like confetti. Toss them into the air and let them fall where they will. #badwritingtips

27)   When you get stuck, abruptly end the scene. Then, fast-forward to your character waking up the next morning. #badwritingtips

28)   Invented words will help get your complex points across. Include them on every page. #badwritingtips

I have no doubt that this hashtag will continue to reappear. Kudos to the creators for sparking a new meme—even if it is short-lived and only breathes within our writers-on-Twitter subculture. Hopefully, the positive peer-pressure of the #BadWritingTips Immortalization Project can make a difference.

I Am Homophonophobic

Alright, since you cornered me about it, I will admit it.

My name is Lucas and I am homophonophobic.

First of all, it was just plain fun making up that word. Secondly, my hate and fear of typos is real–especially when it comes to homophones. You know how they are: conniving, backstabbing, and sneaky. 

I’m not merely talking about in my manuscripts, but everywhere. When texting friends, I edit and re-edit before hitting [SEND]. Even still, sometimes “your” slips through in place of “you’re”. An instant follow-up message is required by Lucas law. If I’m in an online forum with frenzied fingers blurring in rapid-fire responses–and a fat-fingered mistake sneaks through–death. I immediately enter a correction preceded by an asterisk to replace “there” with “*their” or even “*they’re”.

Typos in Tweets (Tweetpos?) are the worst. They instantly zip out into the Twitterverse with no tether to yank them back. Tweetpos are irrevocable and fly out to a gazillion recipients at once. Double-death. There is no telling how many times I have posted a comment or status on Facebook, only to re-read it, gasp at my idiocy, and delete it. I recover quickly, however, and can draft a more eloquent version with the necessary change of “its” to “it’s” in mere seconds.

Before this blog entry is posted, I will search it diligently (multiple times…) for not only coherence, rhythm, the best wording, and spelling–but also a separate pass in search of  any homophones that fly below the spellchecker’s radar. Why am I confessing my homophonophobic nature? Because I threw up a little bit in my mouth the other day when I discovered “here” in place of “hear” in a blogpost that had been up for days. You can hunt for it if you’d like. You won’t find it. It was eradicated in a zealous hate-crime against homophone misuse. 

Here is a Euler Diagram to help you take back control of your life if you–like me–are homophonophobic. Caution: It may make you aware of new phobias you never even thought of having.

Balance: Checkbooks, Unicycles and Novel Drafting


When the checkbook shows $2,000 more than the bank’s number, [I suppose] it’s time to balance it out to find the discrepancies. I was only two months behind when I sat down to match up the deposits and debits yesterday. The main concern was that someone else had been tapping into the funds.

I ordered a new batch of checks three weeks ago. They never arrived in the mail. Last week, I followed up with the bank. They couldn’t track the shipment, but went ahead and issued a stop payment on those check numbers, and then reissued a new batch of checks.

After an hour of highlighting, locating math errors, and adding debits that never made it into the register–I got the account balanced. The finding: no thievery was involved. In the midst of a busy schedule, I had simply forgotten to enter five [rather large] debits. These weren’t like $5.19 for Subway or $20.00 cash back from the grocery store. They were hefty payments for welding work, glass stock, and an online mortgage payment. Oops.

With my novel Freeborn, I have been balancing things as I go. From the outset, I have been ever-conscious of wordcount by chapter, an undulating pace of compressed action offset with more fluid descriptions, and editing each chapter before moving on to the next.

I spent way too much time going back in to edit my first and second novels. It was rather like trying to juggle the checkbook, bank statement, and a highlighter while riding a unicycle. This time around, I set a goal at the beginning of the process to take care of things as I went–to keep it balanced along the way. And this go around is more akin to taking a leisurely ride through the park on a two-wheeler instead.

So, no one stole my money. I received my new checks. Both my bank account and Freeborn are sitting pretty–balanced to the penny.


I’m heading out this morning to lovely Massachusetts. That’s great because I can use a getaway from the midwest, but the downside is I’ll be internet-free for a week. Off the grid. Unplugged from the matrix. In a sense, I am leaving the virtual world in the rearview mirror as well.

The upside: I’ll get a good amount of time to write and edit while I’m gone.

Since I’m rushing out in ten minutes and won’t be posting for awhile, I figured I’d pop up the first 250 words of Freeborn before I go. It’s still rough & all that.


Katia shuffled down the busy sidewalk, hunching over her cane. Mindful of the surveillance cameras, she periodically stopped to adjust the scarf securing her gray wig. Though her disguise was fake, her Infection was real.
Every face that passed wore a government-issued prevention mask. The virus did not discriminate, but attacked the elderly, children, women, and men alike. None were immune. Even though Katia had taken every precaution, the sickness had wormed its way into her blood. The parasite now squirmed in her gut.
A pair of heavily armed Doctors blocked her direct route to the building. One tiny prick from one of their portable infection detectors would unravel her disguise. They often slammed the infected to the ground—just for kicks—before hauling them off to a quarantine center. That was the Doctors’ role: enforce the laws of the Surgeon General, mess with the rabble, keep the streets clear of the infected, and toy with them along the way.
Katia held her breath and shuffled behind the Doctors. Their voices turned towards her as she passed, but they didn’t address her as she mounted the steps to the ten-story structure. Like many other corporate buildings, this one had been converted to housing in order to accommodate the soaring population caused by the Infection.
The rebel in Suite 940 was Katia’s last hope. While most referred to the woman as a witch, she called herself Ilythia. The rumors claimed she could help the infected through the horrific final stages.

‘See’ you all soon. Get enough Internet usage in for the both of us.

Beta Comments: FREEBORN

Holy FREEBORN, Batman!

Apologies for neglecting the blog posting over the last couple days. I have been churning out a chapter a day on FREEBORN. So far, I have been receiving amazing feedback from my betas. There have been a few minor issues I have corrected, but no major flaws.

Tonight, I received this as portion of some feedback from Tamara Hickman based on the first seven chapters. Of course, I took out the few ‘suggestions’ and just left in the positives for public consumption. 🙂

HOLY CRAP, MAN! Where is the rest? I need it!

I was sucked in, and couldn’t stop reading. There are large sections with no notes, and those are probably the places where I was completely enthralled by the story. If something jarred me out of the story, I noted it.

All of my preconceptions about this story are gone. I didn’t think that I could enjoy the story as much as I did. I love the characters, and their interactions with each other are fluid. The dialogue is sharp, and I can see distinct personalities in almost all of your characters. The introduction of the infected candystriper is genius, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

Your story is extremely dynamic, and there is never a moment where the friction/action/conflict stops. There is always something going on, driving the story, and I could tell that right away when it forced me to stay up until 1:04am, reading to the very last word. And then I wanted to cry when there was no more. =)

Holy Handgrenades, Bat Man! Hurry up and finish this book so I can get my claws on it!

Pitch For the Next Novel: FREEBORN


Alright, here’s a couple versions of my flavorful, hot-off-the-press Pitch for the new novel: “Freeborn”. It’s still in the rough-draft stage, but you’ll get the gist.


Katia2198-04 lives in a time of peace, prosperity, and perfect health. The so-called Common Good Era started 200 years ago when the Surgeon Generals declared cloning the mandatory means of reproduction. Mass-sterilization ensures its necessity. Gene selection ensures its success.

All is golden, until a parasite epidemic sweeps through the Commonwealths.  Children, the elderly, women, men: no one is immune, including sixteen-year-old Katia. An infected boy, Adam, offers her asylum in a safehouse. The residents know the truth the Surgeons are hiding. The life squirming inside all those bellies isn’t a parasite at all. It’s a baby. A human one. A freeborn.

Katia struggles with the revelation that the creature inside her is not a monster after all. As her stomach swells, she joins the safehouse rebels in their plot to snatch control of the masses away from the Surgeons. The plan is risky, insane. It will affect every person on the planet.

The Surgeons will not give up control without a fight, but the future of the infected clones, and the freeborns they carry, depend on it. Adam and Katia are simply accelerating the process that has already begun. The Common Good is not so good. It is time for a new era.



Katia lives in a time of peace, prosperity, and perfect health. The so-called Common Good Era started 200 years ago when the Surgeon Generals declared cloning the mandatory means of reproduction. Mass-sterilization ensures its necessity. Gene selection ensures its success.

A parasite epidemic sweeps through the Commonwealths.  Children, the elderly, women, men; no one is immune. Sixteen-year-old Katia becomes infected.

So does Adam. He and the other rebels in the safehouse know the truth the Surgeons are hiding. The life squirming inside all those bellies isn’t a parasite at all. It’s a baby. A human one. A freeborn. Adam knows this for a fact. Fifteen years earlier, his mom was the first to go full-term. Now, he’s pregnant with a freeborn baby of his own.

Adam offers Katia asylum in the safehouse. She struggles with the revelation that the creature inside her is not a monster after all. The rebels need her on their side. She is pivotal in their plan to snatch the control away from the Surgeons. The plan is risky, insane. It will affect every person on the planet.

The Surgeons will not give up control without a fight, but the future of both the clones and the freeborns depends on it. Adam and Katia are simply accelerating the process nature started.

[Feedback welcome. I’m sick of bland pitches ::: vomit ::: This one matches the style of the writing in Freeborn. Q: Is it going too ‘informal’? Too much voice? Can you have too much voice in a Pitch?]


Really? Another Toy?

Screenshot – “Infection” Meta-Timeline


Once again, I find myself listening to the screams of a short piece demanding to be expanded. Apparently, my next novel is developing from a piece of flash-fiction I wrote last week. [Why won’t these ideas stay little–like I intend?]

Yesterday, I settled into my writing corner to begin sorting and congealing the hand-scribbled notes for “Infection”.  As though I needed yet another tool/distraction, the term “OneNote” rose from the recesses of my mind.

Something about authors using it to structure their notes… From a blog or something… Haven’t I seen OneNote on my laptop somewhere…?

Sure enough, I had. I recently purchased MS Office for the business, and OneNote was included in the suite. So, I stepped through the quick tutorial, and began playing with my new toy. A few hours–and twenty-five pages and subpages–later, the bulk of my notes were organized. I now have separate pages for individual character sketches, settings, major plot points, subplots, backstory, quotes, hyperlinks to research, timelines, etc.

Some of the functions are unwieldy and refuse to do what I need them to, but overall the program is great for the organization process. Now that the basic learning-curve-hurdle has been cleared, I’m ready to push onward to detail Infection to its limits before beginning the actual writing.

Already, I can see the advantages: quick stream-of-consciousness recording, sortable pages, graphics, auto-pasting of a web address when a copied item is inserted. I’m going to keep the organization via OneNote going, and see what I end up with. I’m excited to discover the pros and cons it holds as the project progresses.

There is a major fear creeping around the edges of my thoughts though: what if some other small idea starts stalking me before this one comes to fruition? Thankfully, I can just start up another OneNote Notebook for that.

Wait! That won’t help at all, will it? I’ll just have to keep a big, pointy stick by the laptop, then.

Personal Documents to Kindle

This week I discovered an amazing feature to my Kindle that I didn’t even know existed.
I can send personal documents to it.

Okay, said that plainly, it doesn’t sound like much. But, here is what it means for me personally. It means that I can send my unpublished manuscripts to my Kindle. I have already done so with Capritare: Discovery, Capritare: Completion, and Intersect.

This allows me to do a couple of things:
1. I can check out the formatting for the cover images and the text.
2. Since I have the Keyboard Kindle, I can enter my own notes and highlights while on the go. I then refer back to these later and update the manuscript.

I did find an issue with the dialogue formatting with Intersect. Multiple lines of dialogue were indenting even though there was no such setting in Word instructing them to do so. After a little research, I found that saving the Word document in “Web Page – Filtered” format took care of the pesky issue. Easy fix!

So, now I edit on the go. And, others can e-mail me their unpublished books which I then forward to my Kindle. This grants me the editing superpower of mobility so I can provide that much-desired feedback wherever I can whip out my Kindle.

[Did I mention the rush I got when first seeing my books on the little screen for the first time?]

Capritare: Completion

I just finished the (almost) final round of editing on Book II in the Capritare series. Now, it’s time to reprint for one last perusal. At this point, my beta-readers also get a first look at it in order to check for holes in the story, pacing and any typos I missed.

This is the fun part–the part where others get to read the story that, until now, had only existed in my head and hard-drive. The feedback I receive from this next stage is excellent to either confirm, or rebuke, my own estimation of the story.

::: Minimizes internet window. Sets parameters. Clicks “Print”. :::