Feedback.  How should you use it?

This is a cover I created for Diamond Joe.  The island  I took while on holiday, the ladies I drew as well as parts of the horses.   Diamond Joe should be a movie.  Too bad Hallmark does not do same-sex movies.

AHHHH!  I don’t want to market my books, I just want to write the damned things!

Sound familiar?

I am a natural-born storyteller.

As a kid, I was the one with the flashlight making up stories about the zombie bunny that would be all cuddly and cute when you were hugging it.  As soon as your eyes closed, the fangs came out!  The claws turned in to razor-sharp daggers that it would use to rip your throat out!

Can you imagine how many kids tossed their velveteen rabbit books in the trash after that little story?

Whoever heard of evil bunny rabbits? Gives all new meaning to biting the ears off that chocolate Easter bunny now, doesn’t it?  Die you SOB…you’re not ripping my throat out!

I always wondered why nobody wanted to sleepover at my house… Was it my breath?  Is it possible that my invitations to parties were not lost in the mail?  BOOO!

Stories are part of who we are.  If it were not for them, we would have no bible, no Jesus, no Zeus or Pele’.  We would have no folklore at all.  The magical kingdoms of the Scots, we would never know about.

While history is written by the victors, the stories that entertain, are written by writers.  That is right, baby, who is your mama!

Before the written word, they would lie around at night and look up at the skies and wonder what all those dots of light were.  From constellations resembling things they might recognize, much like clouds today, they made up stories.  Those passed down through the ages have most certainly changed much like the ‘telephone game, ‘but never the less, we have them.

This week I got one of my novels back from a beta reader who had some interesting comments.

Tonight I want to talk about feedback and how to use it.

Let’s deal with rejection first.

It is going to happen.  Those excellent agents must have material that they don’t have to sell.  It has to be so good that it pops off the page without even reading it.  There must be linguistic magic that enchants the person who even thinks about opening the e-mail.

“This is not the kind of thing we handle, or your book is not right for us.”

“Son of a bitch!  Let me take the old Underwood out and shoot the damned thing, and go back to waiting tables!  At least there I get a pinched ass for a few dollars, and hey…I get some attention.”

Ok, that might be a little on the extreme side.  I haven’t waited tables, while since I was a kid. I do have an old Underwood that actually works, but of course, I don’t use it either.

Rejections are a starting point. Here is how to handle them if traditional publishing is your path.

Send out your baby, gird your loins, and while you are waiting for the offer letters to come in like the proverbial tsunami, start another book.

Absolutely, positively, do not rest on your laurels!  Are you listening? Tell me, you heard that!

You spend your time writing your book, and you send it out after you have languished over every god damned word in the thing. Send it out and move on!  Do you realize that the average book is over 70k words and writers suffer over every one of them?  Is this the right word?  We agonize, trust me on this one grasshopper!

When you get the boilerplate letter weeks to months later, file it away, and send it out again.  Someone out there is looking for what you wrote and just possibly with weed so much more prevalent, you might catch them in a stoned moment, and they might laugh at your hook or characters and in a weak moment, they send you an e-mail with all kinds of miss spelled words telling you that you rock and please submit the entire manuscript!  Hey, it could happen!

On the flip side, you find the agent who is genuinely seeking what you wrote and is ready to do what it takes to sign you.

Happy days!  It could happen.

Tonight I just uploaded a new version of Diamond Joe.  After applying many things that I have learned over the years, I have made this lesbian love affair, an affair to remember.

That sounds tawdry, and it is not.

The beta reader told me that she loved the story and was amazed that my characters each had their own voice.  ‘Hello, they should have their own voices.”

This is a romance with romantic subplots, family issues, and oh yes, a racehorse!

What is not to love about a rags to riches story, where a young lady discovers who she is and better yet, captures the heart of a young rich widow, who has no idea that she would love another woman?

I walk you through the entire thought process, and I take you down the dark road of, ‘what if she is after my money?”

Oh yes, there are gold diggers out there, gay or straight or is it gay and straight?

This is a heart wrenching, feel-good story that they should make a movie out of but, Hallmark has yet to make a movie with same-sex couples.  Why is that?  This book would be such a killer hot movie.  Maybe Netflix should pick it up.

I am trying to figure out who would play whom…

Back to the feedback.  What you want from them is what they liked and what did not work for them.  That is all you want, as that is all you need.  If they start to tell you, it would have worked better if…Stop them!  You don’t want to know the ‘if’ part.  The reasons are simple.  If they render an opinion and you should be foolish enough to take it, guess what, it is now their story, not yours.

So ladies and gentlemen, if you read my novels and you should be so kind as to offer me feedback, just tell me what worked and did not work for you.  Allow me to figure out why.  I am the writer and in my little office, I am a god!

That sounds crazy but think about it.  I create worlds, people, places, and situations. I even create evil little rabbits.  That is what a writer does, and if you don’t respect any writer that you know, you might find yourself in one of their stories, tied to the bed, surrounded by hundreds of chocolate Easter rabbits, without their ears.  Since they cannot hear you, they will never know if you are loving, or hating your throat being eaten out.  It is just payback after all.

Write! Write! Write!

When I get a rejection letter, which I do on occasion, it just drives me to improve my craft.  Since they hardly ever tell you anything other than, ‘we don’t sell this shit’ (paraphrased,) you send it out again while learning your craft even better.  That is what drives me.  Yes, I would love to know what exactly they didn’t like about it but, it is probably their twelve-year-old child going through the slush pile while playing some game on their phone.

  • Put some magic in your hook!
  • Cast a spell on the reader.

Write something so overpowering that even the twelve-year-old will stop looking at the phone long enough to say ‘WOW!”

I have said it many times in different ways, you cannot be a one-trick pony.  Write your story, nobody is perfect and your story will not be perfect.  Send the thing out and start writing about evil little bunnies, or not.

If you are like me, you are on fire at the keyboard.  You can go hours without eating, or even thinking about food, as your characters are running through caves or jumping off cliffs, you cannot leave them!  Continue on, and don’t let the bastards or twelve-year-olds get you down.

Agents are always looking, even though they might profess to be too busy.  If they are good, they are looking.  You might try sending your queries to agents in states where pot is legal…I kid…nobody gives a damned if it is legal or not!

I am probably one of the few who has never tried it.  I don’t smoke, but I hear some gummies are to die for…Bwhaaa!  Are they rabbit gummies?

Much love peeps.  -TW

Know the Rules, and Break Them!

Make it your story.

As writers, we are ever cognizant of the rules.

From show don’t tell to use simple sentences, we have all heard them.  There are even books on the subject.  “Shocking!”

One of my readers contacted me to tell me that ‘big’ words threw him out of the story.  My first response was, ‘only in my head, of course, was’  “bless your heart.”

That begs the question, do we dumb our writing down to appeal to the masses?  Is the reading public getting dumber?

Personally, I would rather lift people up than encourage them to read at a fifth grade level as adults.  It used to be that we would write for a seventh-grade level which is still insane but, to lower our standards to a fifth-grade level, one has to wonder.  Why are companies hiring from other countries instead of America?  Could it be that we are saying it is ok to stagnate at a fifth grade level of reading?

Here is another rule. ‘Simple sentences work best.’ Pro Writing aid will tell you many things, including identifying such sentences.  To me, this rule also has to do with the pacing of your story.  We want people to turn the page, not struggle over complex sentences.  Does that hold true for words like perpetuity?

Should we not endeavor to leave people a little more educated than when they found us?  Kindle makes it so damned easy to look up a word.  Personally, I rejoice when I read a word that I have not heard.  Possibly that is a quirk but I will own it.

As a child, I kept a dictionary close and looked up every word that I did not know.  I used a word in my second-grade class that the teacher called me on.  I mentioned that my sibling was obstinate.  She peered down over her long nose through her poorly fitted readers and pointed her crooked finger straight at me. “Do you even know what that word means?” She crowed.

“Stubborn, pig-headed, inflexible.”

This person was not impressed.  This individual should have retired years ago but ‘loved’ kids. PFFT!

I was ‘that’ child in school.  The precocious child who used words better suited for late teens, possibly college kids.  When you read, you tend to have a respectable vocabulary.

I wrote in a previous blog about how you get a glimpse into the heads of the author by reading what they wrote.  This is especially true for children and ‘stories.’

An astute teacher can glean much from those short stories, including trouble at home.

I learned the rules.  I know them, so now I break them with impunity.

Thunder over the water sounded like two pirate ships in a heated battle; before one of them would meet Davy Jones.  The crusty old captain was not going down without a fight.  His younger rival had studied him, and knew what his moves might be.  This was the first time a woman would lead men into battle, and she was untested.

Her red hair blew about her, as the acrid odor of gun powder filled their noses. The splinter of wood sounded like the thunder itself, as the mainsail was the first casualty of the battle.

Susan saw the story in her head as she sat on the screened-in porch watching lighting dance in the clouds well in the distance.

Her mother was due home at any moment.  She could see down the mountain road and there were no lights from any cars.  In fact, there had been no traffic for what seemed hours.

A chill caught her attention as the winds from the impending storm blew through the screen, with a whistling sound that reminded her of the sounds coming through the open canopy of her father’s aircraft.

Never start a story with the weather… Hmmm, I think that start gets your attention.  This open or prologue took less than three minutes to concoct.

  • Who is Susan?
  • Where is her mother?
  • How old is she?
  • What about her father?
  • He is/was a pilot. Where does the story take place?

While allowing the reader to do some of the work, we the writer have this picture in our mind.  We know it is a cabin perhaps, in the woods may be up a mountain next to a lake left over from the glacial days.  We know that Susan has an imagination and pirates play into it.

I like strong women and red-haired women at that.  Wonder why?

Know the rules and then write the damned story.  Make it your story.

Comments?  I love to hear from you as always.

Much Love -TW

 

Newest Release Coming Soon!

If you fell in love with the worst of the bad boys, what would you do?

Hello from the lair of TWScott

In case you don’t follow my tweets, I wanted to update you on my progress.

I rented this cabin in the woods in the Smoky Mountains.  I could say a lot about the roads in Tennessee, but that would take us away from the exciting news I want to share with you.

My latest novel is finished.  107K words give or take of everything you have come to expect in a TWScott Novel.

When a young girl from Iowa leaves the farm for college in Florida, her life is transformed. The need for cash drives her to look at the unthinkable as a way to survive. Her lifelong friend had already discovered ways to make money working at Gentleman’s Clubs.   

Predators looking for young girls to work as escorts, troll those clubs and colleges. Lacy was an easy target.  Barely five foot tall, Blond hair and blue eyes with a ‘Monroe’ type body and smile, she became the focus of a recruiter.

Hired as arm candy, or love toy; Lacy soon learns the horrors of the industry, while catching the attention of one of the world’s wealthiest of bad boys.  A strange romance ensues as Lacy and her friends become part of the fabric of a modern-day brothel. An island entertainment facility for the worlds rich and famous was in the works and she was to become part of it.

With the world’s leading bad boy in love with Lacy, several people try to infiltrate her group to claim the reward on her lovers head.

How is that for a tease?

With the Epstein Island fiasco, the story wrote itself.  Instead of one island, I have two, as Peter; her ‘friend’ has competition who relies on sex trafficking to get his girls.

I don’t want to spoil the book, but I just love it when the evil person gets theirs, don’t you?

Schadenfreude

Captives of Pleasure Island

Taking a week to travel on vacation was not time lost as the story played out in my mind while driving.  I hoped that an Agent would see the tweets about it, and I would not have to Query it as that takes four hours for each agent.

The process is broken and needs repair.  The likes of Bezos or Corker will be the beneficiaries of many independent novels.

As you can see, I have created the cover art.  So far, I like this much better than my first attempt.  The name Schadenfreude is the name of a yacht that the rich boyfriend gives Lacy.  The name is a word that means deriving pleasure from the pain of others.  This man is twisted.

I spent a fair amount of time with my laptop on the screened-in porch, with the gentle breezes, generated by Dorian whispering through the trees.  When you think Dorian, you don’t think gentle anything, do you?

It is my sincere belief that you need to leave your office or as I jokingly call it my lair, to experience life.  We writers are a rare breed of human who lives inside our heads.  I could get into the science of theta waves and how we could use that science to break writers blocks, but suffice it to say, live your life.

All experiences are fodder.  If you write solely from what you see on TV or read, you are most probably borrowing from someone else.  Go, get out of your office, and move.  Walk through, the park, smell the roses.  Pick up a rose and get pricked by a thorn.  Bump your knee into something and experience the pain.  Life is full of bumps and bruises, but it is also about love and happiness.  Without the wicked things, how would you recognize the good?

Last chance agents!

Currently, I am in the final editing stage of this novel.  As I Jokingly say ‘Stephen Hawking’ is reading my book back to me one chapter at a time.  As I make my final edits I will be creating a Kindle-friendly upload that I can send to advance readers, i.e. you, or I can self-publish and market it myself.

If you want to make some money and discover the next prominent author, here is your chance.

I have well over 30 published novels with many of them selling nicely.  Just think how I would do with a professional editor and some marketing dollars.

Not afraid to go it alone.  I enjoy writing more than I do just about anything else.

www.authortwscott.com   contact page

@authortwscott

@twscott823

TTFN

-TW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who are you?

Unless you know that person in the mirror the winds of life are carrying you.

I should be editing Tipping Point but, I am taking a break for a bit.  There are reasons, which I will share. As writers, we need to step away from it.  There are those who will toss a completed work into a drawer for a month or a year…. No, I am not one of those.

When I am not active on my blog, I am either working the day job, writing, editing or marketing.  I have told you repeatedly if you follow me here and you are a writer I will make it worth your time.

Here is the message for tonight that if you take to heart, you will be much better off not only in your writing or other creative endeavors but as a person.

“Wow TW, that seems kind of heavy.  Are you smoking something?  You in Colorado? Got extra?”

Tonight I want to talk about you.

Sitting through a critique session, I am so tickled with some folks who are giving a writer their best shot at an opinion.

“I did not like this.  That was cool. I like that.”

If you were a writer, and that is the feedback you received, would it be helpful?

No, not so much.  Why?

That is not a rhetorical question, it is a real question. Why?

As creatives, we are our own class of people in the first place.  I like creative people as most of them are intellectuals.  That means they think.  They have more going on under the hood. They are not usually the “Hold my beer and watch this.” Kind of person.

“I would challenge you to take this a step further.  Take your wife or husband or BFF and go spend a day at the art museum.  Most of them have benches where you can sit and admire the artwork.  Many art students will go sit and sketch the artwork as an exercise.”

“I don’t want you to sketch it; I want you to analyze it.”

“You don’t have to be an art major to appreciate art.”

Walk the floor and find something that speaks to you negatively or positively. When you see that something, stop, sit and study it.  “(SSS) stop, sit, and study.”

This is what you are looking for.  “Why!”

You are worthless to a writer if you cannot articulate your feelings to them.  If you are not in touch with you who are, then your opinion is meaningless to not only the writer or author, but it is not much value to you either.  “Joe six-pack, this applies to you too.  Why do I like this beer and not that one?”

I write about enlightenment, even in my naughty books, to set the stage for my readers to begin to know themselves. When you get into the habit of asking yourself, why you liked something or did not like it soon that will be a habit, which will serve you well.  That person who is looking at you from the mirror will be better able to deal with life if he or she knows themselves.

“I preached this to a young man over thirty years ago.  This person is now worth more than a million dollars and is happy.  He is happy because he knows who he is, and what he wants out of life and he knows why.”

“He was already wealthy blah blah…” No, he was in prison doing five to ten for armed robbery.

I worked in advertising for years.  When I first started, I was one that would FF through the commercials.  I soon found myself watching them with more fervor than the program.  Why did this one work, or that one didn’t?

There is this annoying commercial on currently that is for GMC trucks.  They have this tailgate, which unfolds and has a step for geriatric cowboys I guess.  The thing starts out with the truck on the hill and from miles around people are carrying tailgates from their competitors. That part of the commercial is forgettable.  The genius of the ad is the earworm.  “Na na na na.. hay hay goodbye..”

A commercial must be memorable.  Not only should you know the polar bears are drinking a soda, but you must remember that it is Coke.

When you can analyze a commercial and tell me why it works, you might have value as someone who can read a book, and offer constructive criticism worth listening to.

“I liked it, is worthless.”  Tell me why and be specific!

We know that adverbs are the path to hell.  I read them in books regularly.  Your average reader does not have any idea that eliminating them makes the text more readable.

When agents look at your books as you query them, they can tell if they can sell you to an editor.

Once you understand why you like or dislike something, you not only gain value as a writer but also as a person. You now have a little more depth than the veneer on your desk.  Blunt, you say?  Yes, it is.  Following me, you know that I am unfiltered and honest.

Tipping Point in its current iteration will not be up there much longer.  The novella will soon be replaced with an 86K word book that you will most certainly love.  It is free on Kindle Unlimited.  Read it before and then the after.  I think you will be shocked.

Much Love–TW

 

A couple of updates here.  The previous version of Tipping point is gone.  If you really want to see it let me know and I might find a way to get it to you.

The second update is about marketing.  I was watching a Trump rally the other night to see what the kerfluffle is about.  When a heckler did something to stop the president from speaking the crowd broke out in “na na na na na na hey hey goodbye.”

Think about that GM!  While you are laying off thousands of your employees your marketing firm is working for you.

-TW

How did I miss that?

Hello fellow bloggers, writers, and readers of blogs. Today I want to once again, address the art of analyzing someone’s work.

As an artist working with one of America’s most exceptional talents in the industry, I learned that my ego must not get into the way of my desire to learn the craft.  Transitioning from Bob Ross style paintings to portraits is a huge transition. This transition from painter to artist requires humbling, character evaluation, and yes, practice.

As artistic folks, we often skip over or try to jump over those first two.  In short, we let ourselves get in the way of our end goal.  You have no doubt heard the phrase “you are your own worst enemy.”

We walk before we run, and we crawl before we walk.  I write about enlightenment in many of my novels, even the somewhat naughty ones.  Why?  There is truth to it.

Too many times, I meet folks who are drawn to a group to be a writer, without a clue of how to string a noun and verb together in the same sentence. They read Harry Potter, and think they can do it too!

Maybe they can, and I would never tell them not to try.  I would suggest that they look at the trail blazed before them by some of the greats and, even the not so greats. How did they do it?

In our world of writing, we seldom have people who will objectively read our work and give it a fair hearing.  Objectivity with another writer is difficult for some reasons.

  • Did we like the Genre?
  • Do we like their style?
  • Are we a writer, and do we compare them to us?
  • What is our level of education?
  • What is theirs?
  • Do we like the person?

There are many factors that we could weave into this, but the truth of it is, that writing is subjective.  Your family might tell you “it was nice dear.”  They might say to you, straight up that it sucked, because they are jealous. Maybe it does suck.

Always ask why.

Here we run into the first problem. Ok, someone read it, and they offered you feedback. Was what they said motivated by any of the bullet points above?  Who knows?

I was reading a how-to book by a famous author and found a typo.  The voice inside my head said, “Ahaaa, I got you now Black Bart, you are flawed!”  * Immediately I scolded myself as that is the part of me that I try so hard to kill.  Why would I find gratification in an error made by “this person of notoriety?” This book went through countless edits and publishers how could they make this mistake.

Nobody is perfect. 

My short novel Tipping Point came back to me with red ink and grammar errors and stuff.

Some of these errors were because I wrote it and I knew the story so I assume like many of us do that so will the reader.  “That is what we are looking for in critique groups.”

You wrote it, so you are too close to it to judge it on its own merits.  Your fellow writers or critique partners, while they might be biased by some of the bullet points above, they might also have some valid concerns.  This is where you as the writer must; I repeat must put that ego in the barn.

Allow them to feel good about finding the dangling participle.  Who cares?  You submitted it for critique because you are humbling yourself to your peers.  That takes guts!  It takes courage!  It is a step to growth, not only as a writer but a human.  Allowing others to assist you also is a step for them.

You who follow me here can play along if you like.

I gave the group Tipping Point a work I did two years ago which started as a ten thousand word short story.  My goal was to write stories that people could read at lunch.  It has since morphed into 14K words, and from tonight’s session, I am told it should be a novel.

Currently, Tipping Point is on Kindle Unlimited so you prime folks can read it free.  In your Kindle app, you can make notes and so on.

If you are a writer, there will be value to you, as I will share all of the critiques on the blog once the project is finished.

Of course, in the comments, you can read what people say too. If you are inclined to learn along with me, please feel free to do so.

In the comments section, you can offer your feedback on the project as it goes.  With each iteration, I will upload it to Kindle Unlimited, and you can follow up there.

When you as a reader offer a critique of something, I am not interested in grammar, punctuation or dangling participles. (At this time.)

  • Did the story flow well for you?
  • Could you identify with the characters?
  • What did you like about the story and why?
  • What did you not like about the story and why?
  • Were the transitions easy to follow, and if not why not?
  • If you were the writer, what would you change to make it better?

After the story is put together, we can worry about the rest of the details like punctuation.

One of the people who read it said it pissed her off!  This truly made me happy.

Can you think of why having one of my characters piss someone off would make me happy?

Yes, one of our goals as writers is to pull emotions out of you as the reader.  I want you to laugh, cry, get angry and get happy throughout my stories. As a writer, I intend to grow learning from what works and what does not.

We are the sum total of our successes and failures.  If you sit there and never try, it is a life wasted.

I have over 30 novels selling well around the world.  Some of them I know sell for their subject matter alone.  Some of them sell because of my style.  Few leave feedback.

With this group and others like it, I intend to not only elevate my potential as a writer but as many of you that care to share the journey with me, through this blog and of course my website and novels.

As time permits, I will read your works and offer feedback, so there is that back scratching thing we can do.

Follow me on Twitter @authortwscott.com

www.authortwscott.com

Of course, follow me on this blog…

The more the merrier, tell a friend!

Much Love -TW

Is your inbox anything you could share with your mother?

We live in an exciting world. When we can hide behind pseudonyms, it makes it easy to say things that you would not speak to someone in person, hopefully.
Here are a few answers to some e-mails that I get.

“What is wrong with “dick?” Don’t you lesbians use dildoes anyway?”

Hmmm, how do you respond to someone like that? Oh, wait…Who said I was a lesbian? Who said I wasn’t? I abhor labels, and if you read any of my novels, you would see that. As far as phalluses, who would want a moron like yourself on top of them?

If you truly understood the difference in the sexes, you would not make such statements.

I mentioned that I get a lot of dick pics in the e-mail inbox, and that is the intelligent response I get.

My interests in people are not what they look like, or what plumbing they have. I like intelligent, thoughtful, insightful people who may or may not agree with me but, they must respect my right to say what I wish, as I do theirs. Many of my friends and I don’t agree on everything. Perfect! Let’s talk about it over tea and let it go.

“Why do you write about lesbians?”

I write about all sorts of people. If you read my books, you will find that I have traditional relationships and then some which are just flat out taboo fantasies.

We all need a mental vacation at times, so I provide it in my novels. I have several friends who identify as gay, and I love them dearly. I happen to think that writing about lesbian relationships fills a void in this world. Diamond Joe is my favorite novel of all time for lesbian fiction. That book of all of my stories is one that I wish Hallmark would break their mold of man and woman, and make a movie of it. That novel is actually YA which is different from many of my books.

Diamond Joe will have you laugh and cry and allow you to see what some people have to go through to survive in this world. Same-sex marriage is a hot topic, and I don’t shy away from it.

“Have you ever been to a nude beach, is it really like that?”

I will admit to being nude around others in settings like I portray. Yes, it is very much like I depict in many of my novels. If you are curious, I would suggest that you pick up this latest novel, Kitties, Titties & Winks or the last series of Nudists of Shangri-La.
The issue with naturism is that there is indeed is no mystery. Once your clothes are off, and you realize that nudity is not what many make it in their minds, to quote the politics of the day it is a “nothing burger.”
That is why in many of my books I mention it, walk you or the character through the process and then spice it up with something else as naturism by itself is truly healthy and truly not enough to write a book about.

I do love the feel of the wind and sun on parts that are reserved for shadows. I never tire of that.

How do you find time to write so much and keep a day job?

Harold, I don’t sleep. That is not really true, but I am an insomniac. If the characters are active so am I. I cannot tell you how many times that I have crawled out of bed at 3 am and worked on a project till it was time to go to work.

If you are passionate about what you are doing it is a small price to pay. We can all rest when we are dead. Right now, today, this is for the living, and I live my life. I went out with friends last weekend, and the conversation focused on what was on TV worth watching.

I had zero input. I don’t watch TV. I have this incredible 4K, 55 inch set in my office that I might turn on when I am eating, and then it goes right back off. I do like YouTube. I love individual musicians, and I want to teach myself to mimic them on the guitar. I find that playing a musical instrument keeps me sharp and mentally alert. Playing also allows me to wind down and at least start the sleep process.

“Why do you use such hard words?”

Oh Phil, bless your heart.  I laughed at that one. Really? If you are reading it on kindle just highlight it and improve your vocabulary. I have an excellent command of the English language. That does not stop me from making grammatical missteps, or from typing you instead of your or you’re, but I do share my knowledge with you.

When I was young, I kept a dictionary with me whenever I read. Later in life, it was a college dictionary. I looked up every word that I did not readily know. It paid off.

Today we have tools that are marvelous. No, I will not dumb down my writing style. Unless I write that children’s book, I will juxtapose words with more than two syllables with everyday words that you might hear on the playground.
Those were a few of the dozens of e-mails that I cherry-picked.
Thanks for them even the snarky comments. At least you cared enough to stop by. As for the rest of this week…Read my books!
Seriously this book is worth your time, and I look forward to the feedback!

Much Love -TW

Writing Tips Revisited

You don’t have to have a near death experience to write but it is a game changer.

 

At the end of each blog post, I encourage you to share, press, tweet and otherwise assist me in getting my brand out there.  I repay that kindness with similar actions, and I post some delicious stuff from time to time. This blog is one you want to pay attention to if you are a writer, author or just think you might want to be someday.

If you look at any of these sites where independent authors publish their manuscripts, you will quickly discern that everyone thinks they can write.  By everyone, I mean everyone that can string a noun and a verb together in the same sentence feels that they are the next Hemmingway or Tolstoy.

I especially am interested in young people with limited life experience with a penchant for painting pictures with words.  Reading great writers will undoubtedly get your juices flowing.  I have read some young people’s writings and was impressed. Blog before you publish.  Like walking before you run you have this opportunity that those that came before you did not have.  You have technology that is incredible, and you have access to the world through the internet.

Google does not replace life experiences nor does any form of social media. Do something.  Become a missionary or go see Machu Picchu for yourself!  If you walk among the locals, you will all of the sudden develop an appreciation for what you have, and you will meet others with a different culture.  In short life experiences can inspire a writer to be a better writer.

Me personally, I have traveled extensively and still have more to do.  I may start out with a tour bus but I will explore, and I will visit with the locals.  From the local pub to another social event.  Those are life experiences that if you are aware of those that you are talking with, will reward you in kind.  From the street vendor to the waiter they all have a story.

I will get their name and talk with them as we are equals.  Why, because we are.  I can disagree with everything that they believe in but, I can still respect them and find something in common even if it is merely that we both bleed red.

Now that paragraph sounds very altruistic, and I am not that philanthropic.  If someone appears deranged or dangerous, I will not bother them or try to engage them in conversation; I am not that brave.  My first trip to Manhattan I was told not to look the locals in the eyes.  Don’t talk with them unless you are in a setting that they expect interaction such as a business environment or restaurant.

Folks, I talked with everyone I came across.  Now when I started out my greeting with HOWDY, they knew that I was not from around there, and felt strangely at ease with talking with me.

Yesterday I was on twitter, and some author put out a statement that I took issue with.

“I carefully craft each sentence rewriting it as many times as necessary, before going on to the next.”

If I wrote like that, Under Roswell, my first novel would still be in the first paragraph, and the other 25 books would still be future events.  Respectfully I would say that she is in the wrong line of work.

You cannot be that anal or obsessive-compulsive with your manuscript.  Writers are creative types.  We don’t think in dotted I’s and crossed T’s.  We don’t give a damn about a dangling participle or my favorite the split infinitive.  We are writers not English teachers.

In short, we tell stories, and we do it in such a way to engross the reader in the story.  When I write, I or my characters are telling the story as they see it at that moment in time.  As you read it, I hope that the picture of where they are, and what they are doing, is etched into your mind with the assistance of your imagination, using my words as the pigment and brush.

As long as the “stream” is flowing, I will press on, sometimes three or four chapters at a time.  If the stream switches off, I go back and do a rough edit looking for consistency and those nasty little participles.

Writers, like an artist, are a work in progress.  When I look at my first painting, I want to gesso over it and do something else with it.  My child will not let me as she loves it! It was my first attempt at putting oil on a canvass.  As we do this time and time again, we develop that critical eye one must have to paint. To paint and be any good at it, that is.

Writing is the same way.  Write short stories. Blog about your summer vacation.  Write, write, write, and with each paragraph, strive to improve.

Two quick stories that I think you will appreciate.  Once upon a time I golfed.  I sucked at it.  I went to these par three courses where you use the short irons and putter, and I played round after round. Mastering the drivers next, I was suddenly playing with business executives and influential people.  My five iron was still eating my lunch.  Every time I pulled it out of the bag, the ball would find the water or trap or the weeds. WTF!

Back to the par three course with you guessed it, only the five iron and a pocket full of balls. I felt kind of manly with all those balls there at the beginning of the first nine.  (a joke in case you missed it)

After several rounds with that five iron, I could play it with confidence every time I played.  Golf is about muscle memory and your mind.  If you don’t think you can do it, you won’t!  You must convince yourself that you can, then you will.

Twenty-Eight Years ago I was in a head-on collision with a drunken driver who was also on drugs.  This changed my life.  I could no longer do what I was trained to do.  In many of my novels, you will see that someone dies or has died in an accident with a drunk driver.  That little factoid is part of my life, and I want to drive that home just a little bit with whoever reads it.  I don’t preach; I just put it out there.

Along with ending my golfing career, not that I had one, it ended many things that “normal people” do.

I accepted my fate and re-invented myself once again.  Computers were just coming into vogue, so I took some classes and began learning all that there was to know about computers.  That last statement is pushing it a bit because I soon discovered that statement is an impossibility.  I have certifications in Novell and Microsoft and Cisco and it all changes overnight.  The people who put on the classes get rich, and of course, the testing centers make money.

I went into Management of IT. I had a good run of it until I was replaced by an H1-B person. The company got to write off their salary (half of what they paid me) to take over after I had updated the company to the latest greatest of everything including redesigning and upgraded their computer room.  I did all this in just a few months.  I was at the top of my pay quartile, and they were not willing to pay more for my talent, so they had me do all of these projects working 70 hours a week for months.  Expecting a bonus, I was laid off.  “We don’t need anyone with your talents anymore so thanks for everything here is your final paycheck!” That was a lovely life experience that I will not repeat ever!

Many of my novels I talk about technology, that is where that comes from so yes, the bits and bytes are not far off.  It makes some of the stories interesting when they use forensic technologies to find the bad guys, which is what I do now.

One of the things I did before the wreck was, played musical instruments.  Nerve damage in my wrist and well everywhere else made that untenable.  I have an excellent ear and “yo dog your pitchy” resonates with me.  “If I cannot do what I did then, screw it…” I was wrong.

A few months ago a friend saw my guitars and ask me if I played.  I kept them out as a reminder to never even think about drinking and driving.

“Yes I played 30 years ago or so why?”

“You should pick it up again.”  Those words sat hard with me.

After he left, I picked one of the instruments up and plucked a few strings realizing that I needed new strings.  My cheeks were damp when I tried to play stairway to heaven to only hear what an awful sound it was and that it scared my cats.  I couldn’t blame them.

Like golf, you take the good shots that you get in now and then and try to do better with the bad ones.  Practice practice practice.  Is this sounding familiar?

There are some great apps for a guitarist that I found.  Even an awesome tuner.  People who have strokes may have to learn to walk again.  I had to reteach myself how to play again, with my new abilities.  Notice I did not say disabilities.  Things are just different than what I remembered them to be.

Finding boring old tunes with three chords then four and then the dreaded bar chords I practiced.  After a few weeks of messing around with that guitar trying to keep my emotions in check, I have since purchased two more; the last one is a Taylor, which I am rather fond of.  Playing no less than two hours a day I can finally make bar chords “ring” again.  It chokes me up actually. Every time I play a song that sounds half decent, I often find my cheeks are wet and my eyes are blurry.  It is a good thing, those are happy tears.

You see that careless SOB took so much away from me with his drinking. Music resonates with my soul, it is my happy place.  When I am making it, that music is much more special than if I am listening to it.

There is not one minute of any day that I am not in physical discomfort to outright pain.  I don’t take pills or anything, I exercise and stretch and endure.  Oh yes, I don’t sleep much!

Will I ever be as good as I was, who knows?  My calluses are back, and the will is there.  I listen to the different artist and try to emulate them and see what I can do with the cards that I now have in my hands, pun intended.

If you are still reading this rather long blog, bless you.  This is the kind of life event that makes it into my stories.  Now I am not suggesting that you hit another car head-on doing 85kph.  As a matter of fact, I would strongly advise against it.

One side note that is rather interesting.  I have legs today because I drink coffee.

You see I had stopped minutes before the accident to fill up the car and purchase a thermos full of coffee.  The thermos, a Stanly Steel thermos was sitting on the seat next to me.  As I topped the hill passing a red truck, there was a Cadillac in my lane headed straight for me!  This was a divided highway and he should not have been there.

I locked up anti-lock brakes and bent the brake pedal.  Time slowed to a frame by frame sequence of events as glass from the window beside me tumbled horizontally by me as the steering wheel came up and impaled me, crushing my chest and face.  The thermos fell to the floor, and I saw it tumble as if on some purpose other than obeying the laws of physics. Time stood still, literally, frame by frame.

From the time I topped the hill, to the actual impact I said, “oh shit” bang! “Oh, shit may have been my last words.”

We ended up in the center part of the divided highway.  The pain was indescribable.  There was an elephant on my chest.  Blood was flowing from everywhere, and I merely thought, this is how it ends.

Oddly enough, I was ok with it.  That sounds strange but it is true.  The mystery of what the sting of death would be was answered; I thought.

There is this old story about people seeing the white light before they die.  My vision was failing.  It started with sparkles, and not too much longer I was pretty much blind, but I could still hear.  Then there was this rushing wind sound in my ears, so I guess that was the next sense to lose its ability to function.

My brain was being deprived of blood flow and oxygen and that is what it is like to die.

The red truck I passed was a guy that worked for the local fire department.  They took the old bastard out of his car who did not have a seatbelt on and was under his dash before they cut me out of mine.  He had one small cut on his forehead and was released from the hospital that night.

When they finally pulled me from my car, as they laid me back, my hearing and then sight returned.  The pain also returned, and breathing was not comfortable, to say the least.

The guy in the ambulance said, “I am going to put some liquid sugar water in you and this needle is going to sting, it is 18 gauge.”  My teeth were through my lower lip, my nose was broken up, my chest was crushed, and I was losing more blood that I thought I could spare,  and he thought that I gave a shit about a needle prick!

They took me to the charity hospital I guess because it was the closest and it showed.  The doctor was a complete ass as we had interrupted his game that he was watching.  Suddenly I was a sideshow as they cut my clothing off with police and who the hell all knows who all were looking down at my nude and bleeding body. Suddenly I was not a person or human but a piece of flesh to be poked and prodded and well pieced back together.

The cop was an arrogant piece of work.  I have many friends who are police.  This person was a total ass!  I had removed my seat belt thinking that would stop the pain.  It didn’t. I think the bastard was going to write me a ticket for no seatbelt until the purple streaks across my chest and waist that were caused by the belt were self-evident that I indeed had it on.  The man, I kid you not, looked disappointed when he saw it! This guy and the doctor too wanted this to be my fault.  I am pretty keen on reading people, which can be a curse.

They checked me for drugs and alcohol and all kinds of stuff.  “Nope, I don’t do that stuff.”

Because my heart was bruised they could not give me anything for the pain.  In a way that was ok, I remember thinking as long as I am in pain, I am alive.  It was ok until they stitched me up with no anesthesia.  That hurt like well, you can imagine.

Later another doctor came in to fix my nose, long hemostats up the nose crunch crack, thumb placed on one side pushing things back into place and then stuffing a whole bale of cotton up my nose with no anesthetic.

I spent a lifetime in that sorry little emergency room listening to the beeping monitors, having to get assistance to pee every 30 minutes being careful not to turn my head because my inner ears were severely screwed up.  Any movement caused a case of vertigo.   The last thing I wanted to do is throw up!   I wouldn’t be surprised if this doctor were also the town vet.  Thinking back, I would not have been shocked to have seen an animal on the next bed.

Minutes turned into hours and hours turned into days.  With all the cotton up my nose, I could still smell myself, and it wasn’t pretty.  Finally getting some kind nurse from California to bathe me, I felt a little more human.

When all the results came back that I was not under the influence, the cop went away probably disgusted because he just knew that the young person had some culpability. Hick!

The old guy that caused the wreck was drunk and on drugs, and he went home. I know this because we shared the emergency room with a curtain between us.  I heard everything, including his wife scolding him for drinking and driving. She actually came over to me and apologized.  She stroked my forehead which was still spattered with blood and told me “I am not supposed to say this, but we have good insurance.” BFD!  Lady, I am in pain here, and I may not live to see tomorrow.  Didn’t say it, but I thought it.

Instead, I asked her how her husband was.  When the words came out of my mouth as angry as I was, I knew what my true character was.  I was actually concerned about that old fart!  That still boggles my mind.

She went on to say that he had recently wrecked their last car, so she bought him that Cadillac so if he hit another tree or something he would not get hurt.  Wonderful logic!  Let’s put more old drunk guys in tanks and set them loose.  Wait, maybe that was the mayhem guy?

Years later I found out why the old guy went home and not to prison.  I was cleaning out the filing cabinet and found the file folder from the infamous day that I about died.  Reading the police report, the bastard cop only wrote him up for left of center.  Now I get that the guy was 84.  I understand that he was well known in the community.  But the guy was drunk and on drugs, prescription or not; he should not have been behind the wheel!    Yes, I am still pissed and every move to this day reminds me of that fateful day 28 years ago.  And the limitless insurance, same outfit as me.  Want to guess how that worked out? I had to fight to get my car paid for!

Oh yes, the coffee and legs.  The thermos that traveled from my seat to the floor wedged itself between the frame of my seat and the firewall.  Since it was full of coffee, it did not compress with the impact thus keeping the steering column from going through my chest and the dash taking my legs off at the knees. There is this whole hydraulic thing I will not bore you with.

The engine and front wheels were under the front seat.  Steam or freon was still escaping from somewhere as they hauled me off to the ambulance.  The violence of the crash turned my vehicle sideways.  The sides were split open and my stuff was scattered all over the highway.  It is amazing that I am not driving a Volvo, which is close to a tank I understand!

God was there that day.  Not sure why he allowed my life to be so drastically altered, but he did.

Maybe he wanted to teach me to forgive… Not there yet.  How do you forgive someone like this?  If you know please tell me.  I do pray about it, it is in my heart and only hurting me.  I cannot forget about it, as I have constant reminders.  The ringing in my ears is a result of the damage from the wreck.  The arthritis is of course where everything was injured. Anyone that has ever played sports knows what I am dealing with.

My doctors tried to give me that handicapped plate and I refuse.  I can still walk.  It is painful but once you stop, you die.  If you are coasting you are going downhill.

I now drive a full-size truck, fuck gas mileage. I don’t pass unless I can see down the road, even on divided highways, but I do travel.  I love road trips; I am just a little more cautious about them.  I stay in the right-hand lane unless I am passing and, I don’t care if I am up to the speed limit or not.  I would rather get there in one piece, than five minutes earlier.

When you read my books, snippets of this story are in them as well as many other stories.  I think one of my favorite books that I have written to date is Diamond Joe.  No car crashes, but that is such a great story, I like to read it again and again.

And my point to this is what exactly?

Go live your life and have adventures.  As Sally from The Girl-Next-Door discovers, life is about adventures. You cannot write with passion if you have not lived a life.  If you live your life through the tellie and or other people’s books, that is not living, that is existing.

Steve Erwin who I admired greatly died doing what he loved.  He lived his life in his 42 years more fully than most people do in 84 years.  There is a man I can admire and did.  I actually used to talk with him on e-mail, told him he was nuts.  In a good way.

Please please please don’t drink and drive, and put that damned phone down!

Thirty percent of all drivers statistically speaking are under the influence of something.  God only knows the percentage that are texting while driving and under the influence.

If you are like me and live in pain every day, don’t give up.  Hang in there and feel free to connect with me here on the blog or the website http://www.authortwscott.com. If I can re-invent myself as I have, and live without pain meds, you certainly can.  I am a wimp with this stuff, so I know.

This blog is the creation of yet another sleepless night where insomnia once again has scuttled my attempt at rest.  One day I fear I will end up giving in to the need for medication, and I will most likely hate that day.

Much Love TW

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