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  • Douglas Daech


    Born near Detroit Michigan and transplanted to Tampa Florida in 1982, where he located the story called “Steeling Time”, the author now resides in Russellville, Kentucky.

    His past experience includes articles in the Tripolitan, (Journal of the Tripoli Rocket Association, June 1991) and TRASH (Tampa Regional Aero-Space Hobbyist). In 1993 and 1994 many articles were published in the Unauthorized Launch, the Tampa Tripoli High Power Rocket Club newsletter. A science fiction piece was also presented in the online magazine NTH Degree (May, 2004). Also, an award for creative nonfiction was granted in the 2007 Frank and Cellia Conley Writing Contest at Western Kentucky University

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Music and the Creative Process

 

Writing and publishing is a process. The publishing part is a mechanical step by step process. Writing is less mechanical. The creative elements in writing make for an environment without rules. It’s a free-for-all between writers of whatever works for them. Some authors need a clean and tidy desk, others work better in clutter. One writer may like to follow a planned outline, while another will take on the project by the seat of their pants. Some think that silence is golden. Some writers play heavy metal music as they work. The creative spark is kindled by different things in different people.

Today, I’m sharing the writing process that works for me. The first trick I use to get rolling is to edit the last page and keep moving beyond that. This refreshes my memory on where I was at in the story and gets the gears in my brain turning. This puts me technically in the mindset to write. It may not do it for every writer but does for me.

The second share I have is in regards to background music. Everyone has a favorites list, but my music list for writing is completely different. My regular list of favorites do nothing to ignite and propel my writing.  I have a particular list of songs that I play at a low volume whenever I write.

Some music smoothly falls into the background of what I write, as if it were an audio track to the movie playing in my mind. I discovered this first with the music of Victor Stellar. Luckily, free streaming downloads are available so you can listen as you write.

You can check them out at https://app.famemusic.com/victor-stellar. I have found a variety of moods and tempos to propel my writing. His songs seem to fit magically into whatever I am writing. I’m still confused at how they meld with whatever I’m penning, but I’m glad that happens.

Another artist that puts me into the writing zone is Gabriel’s Circus. You can find them at the musical my page site, https://myspace.com/gabrielscircus/music/albums. I first discovered the artist sitting next to me in my art class at community college. At the time he played guitar in a rock band around Detroit Michigan. As the worlds we lived in changed we drifted apart, we lost contact.  Thirty years later I stumbled back onto him. Ray Kurtz continues to play in southern Michigan with Nikki Holland. Between his hard rock years, and his current band, Mr. Kurtz released an album of easy listening jazz. I often play and write listening to his music.

The last musical lead I am going to offer is the Yuriy from Russia collection. The mystery in this music is how it blends into your head and becomes almost unnoticed as you write. Yet, the tempo and chaos of the abstract music still generates momentum. At least it does in my writing. Again this is available in streaming audio for your pleasure. You can stream the music at https://soundcloud.com/yuriyfromrussia

What works like magic for one person may not work at all for another. Who knows what will put your brain into the writing zone? What I offer you in this blog is what works for me. I’m giving you a glimpse of my creative process. I hope you listen to some of the music and write.

 

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What’s Happening Now

The November Challenge (Nanowrimo) has come and gone. This is a yearly event held to inspire people to write. Everyone keeps track of a word count with the goal of a 50,000-word book, and communities of writers compete for the greatest word total. This year I did not participate. I watched from the sidelines and finished up previous Nano projects. November may be over for those writers, but the work has just begun.

Some people say, writing the book is the easy part. After that, editing, publishing, selling, and promotion are the real challenges. I guess it all depends on the individual. But all of the processes are time-consuming, and it’s almost impossible to be a part time writer. Sticking you neck out to be reviewed, critiqued and rejected can be painful too. I wouldn’t call that easy. It makes one wonder why a writer writes.

In 2015 My Nano project was Warp Drive, Patent Pending. https://www.amazon.com/Drive-Patent-Pending-Douglas-Daech-ebook/dp/B01MQQYRL1 

warpdrive-cover I finished the first draft in January. Serious editing began and by August queries started heading to agents. The cover image and the text were edited, polished and tweaked to perfection and it finally ended up on Amazon. Warp Drive, Patent Pending is offered as a Kindle e-book. It’s now available in pre-order status and set for full release on Dec 20th.

The writer’s job is never done. November was very busy. The 2013 release of Haunted Romance was revised and edited for print, and the cover had to be redesigned for the paperback layout.  E-books don’t have back covers, so one had to be created as well. Even three years after the release of the 5-star e-book, it’s not finished. The paperback version of Haunted Romance is finally available now at  http://www.lulu.com/shop/douglas-w-daech/haunted-romance/paperback/product-22963178.html

If that’s not enough for one month, November also saw the development of the CreateSpace paperback of Sunset of Dreams. This new Novel follows the investigation of murders by a detective in Tampa Florida. Only he sees the connection, and it is too outlandish to believe. But you can’t argue with the facts! Sunset of Dreams will be released in early 2017.

My latest adventure called Finding Kray is now being queried to agents for traditional Publishing.  This novel also takes place in Tampa Florida.  The city is plagued with vampires, and one hunter is ready for the challenge. Filled with twists and turns, fun characters and surprise events this novel was as much fun to write was it will be to read! Look for Finding Kray late in 2017.

 

Writing is only the beginning of an author’s job. Once a book is born it needs continual work for it to mature into a finished product. It may start in the month of November, but the work is never ending. The good news is that the end product lives on forever. That is why writers write.

A Tool for a Writer

Querytracker.com is an online writer’s tool that makes life easier.  It is a one stop shop to find agents and publishers, but it is much more. There are two versions available, one is free and can be helpful, but the premium Query Tracker option is worth the small yearly fee. It gives users the advantage to enter and track multiple projects at the same time as well as a bundle of other helpful tools.

What would a writer want in a query tracking tool?  Surly a record of who has seen what projects and when is needed. As well as some record of the agent’s response needs to be included. That is the guts of any tracker or simple database. But this site offers much more.  Query tracker includes a list of potential agents to send work. Better still, that list can be sub grouped into genres. You wouldn’t want to submit a sci-fi novel to an agent looking for romance work. In addition, the agent info page gives the writer a chance to link to the agency website to review guidelines and current needs. It also allows a place for private agent notes as well as a public comment area so writers can see what others think of that agent. Other tidbits of info on the agent are also available. What more could one ask for?

Query Tracker Premium has even more features that impress.  Besides a record of when and how a piece of work was submitted, writers can see a line-up of submissions made by other users. As those writers get responses and record that information, a writer can see where their work is placed on the timeline. This is helpful in judging if your work has been reviewed and gives a hint of the pace of that agent. It is also helpful because you can see the genres that an agent is actually reviewing, and what is being skipped.

One should remember that the reports on the site depend on the input of those using the tracker. The information is only as good as the updating made by the users. Query Tracker gives an author a good view of what is happening outside one’s own writing bubble too. Success and failures are reported, comments are made, and opinions offered. It creates a community of writers who exchange data and stay on topic.

As opposed to a home-made database system of tracking submissions, Query Tracker offers time savings because agent data is already loaded. It offers insight as to the performance of agents with the comments from other writers, something personal database systems cannot do. Writing can be a solitary life. An alliance with other authors is often welcome. Query Tracker gives a writer a glimpse of what others are doing in the writing community, without the chaos of other social media platforms. QueryTracker.com stays on task, has one job and does it well.

A question to readers…

old typwriter I believe it was Stephen Foster who said that a story is not written it is rewritten. I remember the quote from a poster in my high school English class, so the quote may not be exactly correct. That was a long time ago!  But, things have not changed much.  Stories are still being rewritten. The computer and word processors makes it easier, thank goodness, but the authors dilemma of what revision makes the best story is still a hard question. Additionally, agents and readers are always making suggestions on what they think would be better.

Currently I’m working on a story that is a comedy, but is not full of side splitting laughs. The classic description of a comedy is a conflict that is overcome and the main character succeeds and survives the challenge. My hero does have a happy ending, overcoming challenges both emotional and physical to win the day. It is almost a fairy tale happy ending, and from the beginning was planned to be exactly that.

But, maybe the ending is too sugar coated. Recently a completely different ending was proposed. It’s an ending that dramatically changes the story into a classic tragedy where the hero loses his battle. In fact in this ending he loses everything. It turns the story into a dark tale with a sad ending. It leaves the reader shocked and perhaps with the question of what happens next. It opens the option for a sequel and sequels in fiction are so popular these days.

What type of books do you like?  Are you always looking for a happy ending? Does a dark sad ending leave a bad feeling in your heart?  Would you be less likely to read another book by this author?  That’s really the question here. Is a sad surprise ending something you would enjoy? Does a story, where after chapters of learning to like a character, you see him fall victim to his adversary appeal to you?  What ending should I go with? I wonder.

Please respond here with your thoughts.

you can view my published work at: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/dugger50

Do I need an outline?

I believe an outline is needed for a major project, say any fiction  over a few thousand words. For non-fiction it is almost a law to have one. A debate or work of argument needs that structure. You can’t prove a point or educate without some organization. My experience deals more with fiction, so I’ll explain what works for me.

Fiction and nonfiction are different, but a written outline will still help with both. Outlines are used to layout the time line, design the ups and downs and pace of the story. All stories have sections that the readers just eat up like desert!  The readers want cake, but they can’t have cake all the time. The meat and potatoes of the story have to be there too. Give them the cake on just special occasions to keep the reader happy and attentive. The outline helps you plan this. Seat-of-your-pants writers often run out of gas half way through the project. They veer off course and often create half-done work.  The story outline has an end in sight. It helps you work to get there, and know when the story is done.

One element of the outline is the thesis.  What message are you trying to convey?  The thesis can be stated silently or shouted in the title, but the bulk of the story should support and come to the conclusion that agrees with that statement. In fiction the thesis is usually unstated. By the end of the story a reader should agree and understand the point of the story. In Goldilocks and the Three Bears the reader learns without being told that you should always keep your front door locked. It is never stated. The reader is shown, not told, the thesis. A different approach is made in the Wizard of Oz. After the adventure, just in case the reader didn’t catch the meaning of the story, Dorothy clicks her heels and says, “There’s no place like home.” Keep the thesis in mind as you develop your outline.

Your fiction outline should act as a road map guiding the story line. Start with character development and the challenges that character faces in the plot.  Is it an enemy, alien, neighbor or girl next door, or perhaps an element of nature such as a volcano, storm or tidal wave? Describe any flaws or personal problems the character has that he’ll overcome as the story makes progress. Personal growth is important for your character as he meets the challenges of the story. Remember Jaws? Sheriff Brody was afraid of water, and couldn’t swim when he started fishing for the shark.

As the conflict heats up the story must rise and fall like waves, taking the reader on a ride. Map out the challenges and little victories on the outline as the story progresses. At a point when all is lost create an epiphany point with a final solution to the plot challenge. Build to the climax of the story when the main character grows and overcomes personal and plot challenges to succeed and concur.

Finally, a summery and cool down section should finish the outline.  This allows a satisfactory tie up of loose ends and concludes the story. Focus on the main character and his success in overcoming his challenge. Happily ever after is a bit light. Each major character in the story is affected in some way by the outcome of the story. Don’t forget them.  This also gives the story teller a chance to set up a sequel.

I used outlines in almost all of my work. You can get a link to them at: http://douglasdaech.yolasite.com/

And join my Author’s page on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/writerdaech/?fref=photo

Our talk with Christie Golden

Recently I had the honor of attending a writer’s talk by New York best-selling author Christie Golden. Fans of Sci-fi and Fantasy may recognize her name. She currently has 48 books in print, and there is new work that should release soon. The talk was offered by the Clarksville Writers Meet-Up, a small group of writers that meet to compare notes, critique work and socialize. We really appreciate that she took the time to visit us.

Christie explained that she started her career as a fan of Sci-fi and Fantasy but didn’t expect to write media tie-in books. She entered a contest sponsored by TSR, the distributor of the Dungeon and Dragon roll playing games, to create a story that meld horror and fantasy. Ravenloft won and launched her career. The rest is history. Christie Golden has written media tie-in books to please fans of Star Trek and Star Wars as well as spin offs from games World of Warcraft, StarCraft and Assassin’s Creed. She explained that it is tough for new writers to enter the media tie-in field. Experience and references play a huge part in landing new projects, and the work seems to be mostly on assignment.

Christie told stories of her early writing days and offered insights and tips on making a successful writing career. She pointed out several good web-sites for writers and suggested rules when selecting what contest to enter. She warned that there are a lot of scams targeting eager writers. Be sure your offers and contests are from respected organizations or well known writers conferences. She has known several editors who have found new talent at conferences, so don’t hesitate to get involved, do public readings and meet the people there.

Write from your heart, she suggests. Don’t write in a style or subject matter with the goal of getting published inside the current fad. Editors have a glut of that type of work. Do something different that means something to you. Your work might be the next fad. It’s always better to be on the crest of the wave, rather than swimming with a million other fishes. Something new and different may catch the editor’s eye.

Regarding editors and agents, Christie Golden suggested that you follow their directions when making submissions. Don’t offer too much information or samples. Give them what they ask for. Be ready to react when they contact you with a completed manuscript, and don’t waste their time. Christie reminded us that your agents and editors are sticking their neck out presenting your work to their bosses. If they believe in your work, trust them to do their job. She also comments that a bad agent is worse than no agent at all. Never pay an agent. They work for you!

Christie Golden commented that the opinions of editors and agents are a mix bag regarding self publishing. Some agents and publishers say that the indie-author is too independent and wants too much control, making them hard to work with. Others say that the indie-author books and e-books are the new slush pile. They don’t mind working with them. Still others just won’t contract with indie-authors because they are indie-authors. It’s a true mix of feelings.

Christie was a pleasant speaker with a strong message. She urged the group to follow their heart and write what they enjoy writing. It will be your best work, and will truly be your voice. Don’t try to be something you are not. Christie offered insight, comment and stories of real life experience. That’s something that new authors want to hear. She also offered a variety of books for sale. Star Trek, Star Wars and many out of print or hard to locate editions were available. Prices ranged from under $10 to $50. She was happy to sign what you purchased or brought to the event. I’m sure everyone enjoyed the presentation on her career, and the craft of writing.

You can view the Christie Golden website at:   http://www.christiegolden.com/index.html

Secret to Success

Long ago I was a musician.  I was a member of a ninety member symphonic group that performed in theaters filled with hundreds of people.  One of my conductors once explained to us that music was a temporal art.  It existed only in time.  When the performance ended, the art was gone.  It was temporary.  Life, in much the same way is temporal.  The art and grace of everything you are is only temporary.  When your performance ends, you are gone.  Time is a fleeting abstract concept that is wrapped around life.  People are always chasing, it wasting it and wanting more of it.  Yet it is really all there is.  Time is unending, but the music we make of our life will end, so make your songs, whatever they may be, beautiful.

One of the things that people struggle with is the judgments of their performances.  Whatever that performance is, dance, song, beauty, work or play, someone will have an opinion on it.  Through a person’s life, millions of judgments are made of them and criticisms can be painful.  What separates the successful artist in life from others struggling with their life’s performance is the ability to ignore judgments on their performance and just sing.  Someplace in their history, a painful criticism embedded a fear of showing the beauty of their personal art and talents.  Due to the fear of other people’s opinions they hold back and only sing in the shower.  They function in society, and live an apparently happy life, but unfulfilled artistically.  They live afraid to express themselves publically, yet many crave fame and fortune.

Successful artists are unaffected by bad press.  The covers of tabloids don’t bother them because they realize that judgments are temporary.  After a bad review they jump right back up on stage and give them the other cheek to slap, unafraid.  Reviews are unimportant to them, they just enjoy doing.  So follow their lead, do your thing without worry.  Sing whatever art fills your heart.

As a writer I tell stories.  Just like music, storytelling is a temporal art.  Passing those stories from one generation to another has changed from word of mouth to e-books.  But when the story is finished, all that is left are still memories.  When I tell a story I don’t worry that the story may not be good enough.  I don’t worry that it won’t entertain or amuse the reader.  What I worry about is the technical construction of the sentences and the grammar.  I worry that my eighth grade English teacher would turn over in her grave if she read it.  I worry about the criticism readers will make of a misspelled word or run-on sentence.  I worry they will think I’m an idiot.

Seedy Hills, an odd little town was just uploaded to the publisher’s website.  It will be reviewed and probably rewritten to some extent then eventually released for sale.  I worry that people will make judgments on my work, but I know they are just temporary.  Bad press will be forgotten, and I know time will heal all hurt feelings.  A good friend once commented, “Who are they to judge you, anyway?”  I try to remember that.  Until I get a letter from Steven King saying I should give up writing, I am going to continue.

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