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.

Brittany: https://twitter.com/thegirlonfire16

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.

NaNoWriMo Month-Long Updatable Update


As part of my #NaNoPrep, I’m hacking in this roughshod post before the clock strikes midnight. Since my main focus over the next 30 days is to knock out the first draft of Phreak Show, I don’t want to waste words anywhere else. [Well, Twitter is–of course–an exception.] And a month of non-blogging is equal to child abandonment in 36 countries.

So, here is the skeleton. If all goes well, I’ll distract myself with an update once per day–slipping it between changing out my coffee IV bag & maybe a birdbath. [Because a month of poor hygiene is punishable by a public hosing in 28 states. Plus the District of Columbia.]

<— The widget over there should track my word count and % progress towards my goal of 60k. So, I’ll probably post each day’s total, perhaps an excerpt sentence, hopefully some epiphanies, and probably some whining–which is to say: venting leading towards more productive creativity…

Let the 30 days & nights of literary abandon begin.

Day 1 – Kicked off NaNo 2012 with a midnight write-in with the local Wrimos at a Steak & Shake. Churned out 632 words in the word war waged during the first half hour. Via three more sessions today, I ended up with 6,332 words added to Phreak Show. Breaking the 5,000 mark earned me a celebratory pack of Rolos. And, like a good boy, I made sure to back-up the file in all the places.

Day 2 – Words added: 2,795. Around 1 a.m. I had to comfort a friend with relationship issues. Friend duties completed, I whipped out a few unexpected paragraphs, then finally crawled into bed. A few more sessions throughout the day. Leaving #PhreakShow on pause at this upcoming scene: Tera is entering a unisex shower where she will encounter Shim the Gender Enigma. [Spoiler Alert! Shim is feeling frisky…]

Day 3 – Started the day with some early writing fueled by mucho coffee . Traveled 30 minutes east for a write-in [and more java] at an independent bookstore. Apparently, Chapter 6 decided to be hot & steamy & full of sexies. “So, are you ready to check out my crotch? Turn your guess into a known fact?” Ahem. 3,528 phreaktastic words added.

Day 4 – A little morning writing gave way to putting the final touches on a few new furniture pieces. Then, more writing. Enmeshed within today’s 3319 words is a bit more unfolding of the first page hook. Emotional? Yes. Today’s section also contains the official ‘1st Plot Point’ of the 4-Part Story Structure–right on schedule. Chapter 7 ends [as all chapters should] with an absolute, no-doubt-about-it, must-stay-up-even-later-to-read page-turner…

Day 5 – I was able to churn out a quick bit of writing before the day’s madness began. After a ton–as in, a marathon session–of cleaning, Micah and I hosted our first writing and art salon of the season. We had a dozen folks come in and out through the evening. [It’s after midnight right now & 5 us are still creating.] The artists seemed to have made more progress than the writers. We’ll get ’em next week. 3,161 words for the day. 19,028 for November. Total wordcount for Phreak Show: 24,868.

Day 6 – Writing. Packed the van for a show in Atlanta. Writing. Voted. Writing. Distracted by election results rolling in. Also, the insanely active buzz of Twitter. Impromptu :15 word war with some Tweeps. Checked election results. A tiny bit more writing. In the midst of all that, I somehow added 2,380 words, thus breaking through the 20k barrier. “Spanish moss dangled from the trees like stringy, gray clumps of witch’s hair.”

Day 7 – Most productive day since the kick-off. Was able to focus on writing throughout the day and landed 5,022 words. At this rate, NaNo tells me I need 983 words per day to hit 50K by the end of the month, I think I’m on my way to a “win”. The Phreak Show rolled into Savannah this morning and set up at Forysth Park. Part of it looks something like this: 

Day 8 – Added 3,633 words today which arced me over 30k. I’m halfway to my personal Nano goal. And that damn Tera made me cry today. I wrote steadily through the early hours which left me time to check Phreak Show’s pulse this evening. This included spending some time with my planning notes to make sure I’m on track, and refreshing myself with My Guide to Not Sucking: https://johnlucashargis.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/my-guide-to-not-sucking/  All is well.

Day 9 – Wowserz! Somehow I managed 5,088 words today. They came in fits and starts. Maybe, idk, 4 times, I stepped away, thinking I was done for the day. But when I sat back down and read the last few lines written, I found myself clacking away at the keyboard again. Go figure. Today, one of the exhibit tents gained a new name: Phantasmagorium. Here’s a line: “A pro wouldn’t show up to work in secondhand, old-lady-smelling pajamas.”

Day 10 – Writing traveled at a slower, more deliberate pace on Day 10. Drafted an all-important transition scene which ramped up to the next one: an experience which alters Tera’s entire perception of what is happening in the Phreak Show. The Big Twist is coming up 2 short chapters from now. Have to prime the chute. 2188 words.

Day 11 – 3,475 words and I think I’m done for the day. Maybe. The story is flowing along phantastically. Today’s scenes involving revelations regarding how ingrained the phreak images are within the teens–just, wow. I broke 40k. 20k more before Thanksgiving is looking like a goal I can definitely accomplish.

Day 12 – It’s funny how most write-ins end up more about chatting than actually writing. The writer/writer interaction provides for a much-needed break in the solo endeavor, so it’s welcome. I added 150 words during a 3.5 hour write-in last night. It didn’t boost the wordcount all that much, but it was fun. Total added: 2,881

Day 13 – Some writing in the morning, some writing in the afternoon, a duel with the NaNo Municipal Liaison for my region…all led to 4,149 words today. From here on out, I need to average 120 words per day to hit 50k by 11/30. With only 2,156 left, I’m pretty sure I ought to be able to hit that “WIN” tomorrow.

Day 14 – I’m eating a Special Dark. Because I added 2,590 words today. And because of this:

Day 15 – Took a roadtrip to Michigan and was able to hammer out a few words while in the car. 2,013 added for the day.

Day 16 – Added more words on the ride home, and then a few more late in the evening. Scored 1,902 additional words. Hoping to pick the pace back up over the weekend.

Day 17 – Another low wordcount day. [Compared to my 3500+ average.] Scraped up 1,783.

Day 18 – And…back on track with where I want to be as far as daily wordcounts. Added 4,274 on this lovely day. Also, if you check out that widget over at the top of the left-hand column on this here blog, you’ll see that I hit my 60k. Rock.on.Lucas. That was the goal I wanted to hit by next Thursday. I blazed past it, so any words I add between now and the end of the month are just extra gravy on the stuffing.

Day 19 – Zero, nil, zip, zilch words. And proud of it! Took a well-earned day away from writing to focus on some art.

Day 20 – 1,883 words added today. Left off at a great cliffhanger. Which is to say, set myself up with an excellent starting place for the next drafting session.

Day 21 – You have no idea how good these zero wordcount days feel! If I wasn’t at 60k yet, I’d be all: No! Oh no, oh no. Must right the wrong. Must write. Must meet goal. Ahhhhh! But, since I have accomplished what I set out to do, not writing a thing for a whole day comes with the greatest sense of satisfaction.

Day 22 – Churned out 1,767. Even on Thanksgiving. In the morning. Before mass quantities of turkey were inhaled.

Day 23 – Day 29 – Yeah, so no daily updates during this period. I wrote and edited a little, but at a leisurely pace. Once I rolled up and over that hump, I needed to move away from the drafting for a bit. So many other things going on right now.

Day 30 – The final day. I definitely hit my goal–and them some. Current wordcount for Phreak Show = 70,055. I need another week of focusing on other things before diving back in. The crux of the final 7 chapters is fully formed. I’m letting the characters act them out in my head so the drafting will flow out in all its gloriousness.

Where Twiggy is Heading


Burning a few minutes before heading off to a write-in. Figured I’d pop in a video link for Twiggy’s theme song.

Of course, she can’t identify with the lyrics at the beginning of Phreak Show, but she will be all over it my the end of her journey.

Enjoy!

Countdown Apocalypse


I have suffered through some horribly cheesy movies of late. This is mostly due to 3 things:
1) Free ‘Premium’ channels on Dish [I set the DVR to record anything that sounded vaguely interesting.]
2) Halloween [Yeah, apparently ‘scary’ and ‘stupid’ are supposed to go hand-in-hand?]
3) NaNoWriMo [Waiting for the 11/1 kickoff, I’ve been wasting time doing things other than writing.]

To be honest, there is a 4th cause to the cheesy-moviethon: I like them. Actually, it’s not that I like suckhole movies. I really do abhor the thin storylines, contrived plots, flat characters, and horrendous dialogue. What I ‘like’ about them, is picking apart all the wonky, god-awful elements.

Last night I watched some stupid flick titled Countdown Apocalypse or Apocalypse Countdown or some such. The supposed apocalypse was utterly, utterly lame. And I never did experience any sort of countdown. The bulk of the movie was some chick wandering around–always moving–in a plane, walking across the desert, navigating the streets of Old Jerusalem, in a car between cities, hiking up stairs in a building, wandering aimlessly down long hallways, etc. Seriously, laid end-to-end, the main character’s footprints would wrap around the equator seven times.

During all this slow walking and uneventful travel, there was no dialogue. Like, at all. Instead of meaningful words to let me in on the lady’s state-of-mind or how horribly distraught she was over her daughter being kidnapped and shipped off to some antichrist processing facility in Tel Aviv, I got to enjoy symphonic music which–I am reckoning–was supposed to cue my feelings. Or something. It just made me sleepy.

About 15 minutes in [translation: 10,987,789 footsteps already traveled], it struck me that only 10 lines of dialogue had been spoken. The main character, Allison, spoke very little. And when she did, 90% of the time it was in the form of a question. Seriously. Lame. Watching with a friend, of course, we started shredding the movie’s suckiness. My job was to simply announce “Question” each time Allison posed one. While the pace of my job was uber-leisurely since she hardly ever spoke, I soon grew tired of hearing my own mouth say the same word each and every time she delivered a worthless line.

My buddy’s job was pointing out every time a character said something one moment only to contradict it in the next breath. Not as some form of characterization, but as [idk the hell what!] perhaps a failed attempt on the part of the writer to infuse tension? Maybe?

So here is how I would write in the style of Countdown Apocalypse:

Allison wore her tanktop which plainly showed the backwards culture that she was a hot, blond American MILF. She walked to the foreign taxi. Although it should only have taken 3 seconds, the journey took days. Slow emotional music echoed in her head.

“Can you take me to Jerusalem?” she asked.

“No. I am on my break. Well, okay,” the cabbie answered.

She rode along over a barren landscape which stretched out for millions and billions and trillions of miles. She stared out the window looking neither sad, nor bored, nor scared, nor anxious. But the somber tune continued to echo all around her. After 40 days, she arrived at the hotel.

“Did my husband check-in?”

“No, he did not. Oh wait, yes he did. Yesterday.”

“Was my daughter with him?”

“Yes. I mean, no. He was alone.” The innkeeper paused as Allison grimaced with horribly acted, false sadness. “Here, have a tissue, you sad American lady. Oh, prophets! The box is empty.”

“Can I have the key to our room so I can put away my stuff even though I will never pay attention to it for the rest of this boring ass movie?”

The innkeeper searched the desk, his pockets, the empty Kleenex box. “I’m sorry, it seems I have lost the spare key. Wait! Here it is. It was waiting right here with this important envelope I was supposed to give you. Enjoy your stay!”

“This hotel has a staircase, right? Would you mind if I took it up to the 785th floor so I can stare at the unopened envelope for 45 minutes as I climb?”

“No, I’m sorry. We only have an elevator.”

“Then what is that door with the stairway symbol?”

“Oh, I guess we do have stairs after all.”

“So you mind if I take them? How are the acoustics in there? Will the sad music effectively emote for me since I don’t have the capacity to do it for myself?”

The innkeeper nodded his head in slow motion to indicate that the sound in the stairway was awesome. “No, the sound in there is horrible,” he said.

Allison ate up 20 minutes of screen time, eventually reaching the door. Pausing, with her hand on the knob, she spoke through the wood, “Isn’t there some kind of countdown I should be worried about? Shouldn’t I be racing to save my daughter before it’s too late?”

The door stood silent. But the music droned on.

I won’t even go into the contrivances, false tension, lack of real plot or resolution, or the stupid ending I waited 6,500 hours to discover. What I will share is that I don’t understand how ‘stories’ such as these become actual movies. It really baffles me.

Going into NaNo–the 4th cause of me watching this P.O.S. in the first place–I am extremely aware of the need to avoid dead scenes, empty space, and groan-worthy dialogue. Also: stereotypes, dangling elements, lack of emotion, a pretend ticking clock, and subplots which go nowhere. While I was already well aware of those pitfalls, this fustercluck of a movie drove all these points home. So, maybe it’s a work of genius after all? Ummm…

“Why, oh why, do I subject myself to this crap?”

:: Cue heartfelt, symphonic music as Lucas trudges ever-so-slowly towards November ::

Current countdown to NaNo at the time of this posting: 15 hours, 12 minutes, 58 seconds

My Guide to Not Sucking


You can invest your very soul in writing a whooole book. And, in the end, it can suck.

Writing is a talent which is innate to many of us, but like any other skill, it must be developed and honed. Phreak Show is either my 3rd or 4th novel–depends on which way the tally is done. I do not want it to suck. So, I have been reading the ‘competition’, as well as books on writing craft. To further polish my grasp of this seemingly simple [bullshit!] craft of writing, I constantly explore relevant blogs, and even dished out the dough and attended an SCBWI conference last month.

And I feel far more prepared, knowledgeable and humble this time around.

Along the way, I have collected bits and pieces of advice, tips, keys, and ‘secrets’ to crafting an amazing novel. Finally, I have them all typed up and congealed into a single, personal reference file. These have come from all the above mentioned sources, but I admit I have been lax in recording the attributions. I’m guessing a lot of these tidbits came from Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel. Most of them, I have paraphrased or rewritten in my own words so they make sense to my specific brainwaves. I can’t claim ownership of any of these nuggets, but I hope they offer you the same bit of guidance they offer me.

THE BIG PICTURE

–          The essence of story is conflict.
–          The mind doesn’t know the difference between an imagined thing and a real one.
–          Above and beyond setting, characters and plot, great novels alter our way of seeing the world. Amazing novels do not leave us feeling neutral; they rattle, confront and illuminate.
–          Throughout every scene and twist, steer away from the obvious.
–          The time-tested development tool of asking “What if [insert alternate option here]?” while creating, offers a way to escalate stakes, add layers to plot and character, and open new thematic dimensions.
–          We read fiction not to just see ourselves, but also to imagine ourselves as we might be.
–          The moment tension slacks off, so does a reader’s attention. Include tension on every page to keep the reader glued to your story.
–          A well-constructed scene has a mini-arc of its own: a beginning, rise, and climax [or reversal] at the end.

PREMISE

If you do not start with a strong premise, your story is doomed to be mediocre. A great premise should contain these key ingredients:
Plausibility: It should contain a grain of truth, come from someplace real. It should be surprising yet credible. Readers will be concerned about the outcome of the story if what is happening to the characters could happen to them.
Inherent Conflict: Where there is conflict, there is rich soil in which to plant a story. The world should have strong conflict woven into its very fabric. (e.g. Strong opposing forces—perhaps both in the ‘right’)
Originality: Steer away from the obvious. It is essential to find a fresh angle, an unusual perspective. This often involves tapping into a previously unexplored aspect of a familiar subject.
Gut Emotional Appeal: Create a premise with a strong emotion built in. It should feel personal, and touch emotions that are deep, real, and common to us all.

STAKES

–          High stakes yield high success. Make the stakes in your manuscript as high as they can possibly be. Escalate the stakes. Put more at risk—much more.
–          A combination of high public stakes and deep personal stakes is the most powerful engine a truly amazing novel can have.

CONFLICT

–          What makes a novel memorable? Conflicts that are deep, credible, complex, and universal enough that a great number of readers can relate.
–          Having your protagonist face a moral choice is one of the most powerful conflicts any novel can present.
–          Push your central problem far beyond what any reader might anticipate or imagine.
–          Conflict must undergo complication. It must twist, turn, deepen, and grow. Make it deeper, richer, more layered, more unavoidable, and more inescapably true.
–          Use mystery. Between what we are supposed to know and what we do know—questions unanswered—there is tension.
–          When conflicting ideas, values, or morals are set against each other, it grips our imaginations because we ache to resolve that higher conflict.

CHARACTERS

–          Readers identify primarily with one strong, sympathetic character. It is this character’s destiny about which they most care.
–          All great characters are larger than life. They act, speak and think in ways we cannot. They say things we wish we had said and do things we dream about doing. They also express for us our greatest purposes and deepest desires. They are us. That is the reason we identify with them.
–          Great main characters are principled, opinionated, and passionate. They do not sit on the sidelines. They act.
–          The characters in your story will not engross readers unless they are out of the ordinary. Identify what is extraordinary in otherwise ordinary people.
–          Every protagonist needs a torturous need, a consuming fear, an aching regret, a visible dream, a passionate longing, an inescapable ambition, an exquisite lust, an inner lack, a fatal weakness, an unavoidable obligation, an iron instinct, an irresistible plan, an undying hope…Which of these defines your main character’s motivation, drive, and inner turmoil?
–          Depth is the secret to memorable characters. Fully rounded, 3-D characters have many sides, complex motives, and act in ways which surprise us.
–          Test your characters’ principles and strongly held beliefs to the uttermost. Push them to the extreme.
–          Push your characters to the edge. Be willing to make your protagonist suffer. Kill his/her ally. Take away his/her greatest asset. Undermine whatever s/he holds sacred. Shorten the amount of time in which s/he has to solve the main problem.
–          A character’s stakes will resonate with the reader only to the extent that the character is sympathetic. When characters are strong and appealing (better still, portrayed warmly and with intimate candor) the stakes feel high, and readers’ interest also runs high.
–          Self-sacrifice is the highest form of heroism. It is the ultimate expression of love and, as such, is about the most powerful action a character can perform.
–          The guiding principle of cast construction is contrast. Secondary characters are most useful when they disagree or produce friction with your main character. Or, even better, add unforeseen complications to the main problem.
–          Combine roles in the cast whenever possible. (e.g. A lifelong friend can also be the doctor, an ex-lover can be the antagonist, etc.)

PLOT

–          “Setup” is, by definition, not story. It always drags. Always. Leave it out.
–          A great story involves great events. In the course of the story, your characters must find themselves in unusual, dramatic and meaningful situations.
–          The central problem generally grows and grows until it seems to have no solution.
–          Ask: How can what is happening matter even more?
–          Ask: How could things get worse for the characters? When would be the worst moment in the narrative for them to get worse?
–          Striving to attain the impossible is a struggle from which we cannot take our eyes.
–          To lend an enlarged perspective—a sense that the universe is paying attention to what is happening—shatter or protagonist with a tragedy, or give him/her an unexpected gift. These things happen in real-life. Little miracles become our personal myths.
–          Consider motivating your main characters in complex ways. Put them in situations that are difficult, but in which the right path is not obvious.
–          The promise of transformation is what gives the journey of self-discovery its deep-rooted attraction.
–          Narrative momentum resides in the main plot; subplots put on the brakes. The scene following a high point is often a good place to introduce a subplot scene.
–          Subplots should only be included if they affect the outcome of the main plotline. If it complicates, bears upon, mirrors, or reverses the main plot, then it adds value. Otherwise, leave it out. It is dead weight.
–          Great plot twists stem from a sudden elevation—or fall—from one level to another.
–          Climaxes are both inner and outer, both plot-specific and emotionally charged. The payoff needs to fully plumb the depths in both ways if it is to satisfy.
–          The secret to a strong ending is allowing your protagonist the continuing possibility for failure.

SETTING

–          Either relegate it to the backseat or make it the chassis on which everything rides. But DO NOT ignore it.
–          Create a fictional world that exists convincingly, wholly, and compellingly apart and unto itself. The best novels sweep you away, whisk you into their world, transport you to other times or places, and hold you captive there.
–          Include specific, unique emotional responses to places. This is the secret ingredient in making a setting breathe. Also, show the change in the character’s emotional response to a particular place over the course of the novel.
–          Bring your characters alive in a distinct place and time which is alive itself: period, culture, human outlook, historical moment, spiritual mood, etc.

So, there you have it. A list of truths I am using to try my damndest to keep Phreak Show from being a mediocre suckfest. There are lots of other pointers swimming in my head along with the ideas. And I am hanging the novel on the framework of 4-part story structure, infused with concepts of The Hero’s Journey. We’ll see how it goes, but early reports indicate that–so far–this 3rd [or 4th?] novel doesn’t suck.

Character Cabinet Cards


The basic outline for Phreak Show is done. The first chapter is complete and in the hands of betas & CPs for feedback. I am letting the characters & storyline bounce around in my subconscious until 11/1. On that illustrious date, I will kick the drafting into overdrive as part of NaNoWriMo.

What to do in the meantime?

I know! Create an ‘antique’ cabinet card for each of my characters:

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This was a fun process. And while it may seem like a waste of time, as it relates to writing, it is further reinforcement in my own mind that these characters are about to live. They are as real as they can be. They each have a story to tell. And Phreak Show is the vessel which is going to allow that to happen.

I do feel bad for Douggie, though. He doesn’t have a cabinet card yet. The source image I have for this character is perfect. It is Douggie. Unfortunately, it is cropped in such a way that it doesn’t lend itself well to the cab card construction. I’m still chewing on what to do about this.

In the meantime, I continue to live with the characters & pin more paper strips to the plotting wall. November is coming quick. Soon, these lovelies will begin to breathe. And presented in this uniform way, they really are beginning to feel like a team–a sideshow troupe ready to hit the road as The Last American Phreak Show.

ABNA Entry


My entry is in! With a mad scramble over the last month to hone my story to a presentable version, my first novel has been entered into the 2012 ABNA. There was a lot of excitement on the message boards as we awaited the starting gun on 1/23/12 at 12:01am EST.
With only a small issue with my “captcha” not showing up, the process went pretty smoothly. By 12:30am, I received my confirmation email.
Thank you for participating in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest!

We’ve received your entry, “Capritare: The Cycles Begin.”

Your unique ABNA ID is: XHF4QUTB

On February 24, Amazon will announce the round two entries at http://www.amazon.com/abna.

Good luck in the contest!