Monday, May 24, 2010

Post: Two Week Shutdown

Good morning, Internet!

Starting the day off with a little rain never hurt anybody, unless you have a slippery front porch. I recommend going through the garage if you have one of those. I also recommend a nice herbal tea to calm the nerves--those "I hate Monday" nerves. I don't particularly hate Mondays, or any day for that matter, but Mondays are the beginning of a laborious week. No matter. I have a vacation lined up, which is why, after today, The Cosmic Laire will have no new posts for the next two weeks. I'm taking a complete break from writing--cold turkey. With any luck, this will help rewind my mind so I can come back and be as productive as ever. Also, I need to brainstorm the second half of my latest novel. A good two weeks should do the trick.I won't have a new post until the 7th of June, so don't come back until then, okay?

Update: Chapter 10 is done--chapter 11 is underway. It started a little rough, nothing that a little narration can't fix. I'm very excited to see this chapter completed, even in its roughest form. However, in planning the major plot points of the story, it looks like this novel will be larger than I thought, about 110k words--23 total chapters with a prologue and epilogue.I really wanted to keep this under 100k, but unless I make my chapters shorter than 3k words each, that's not going to happen. Ah well. I'm an epic writer. I enjoy reading big books, so I tend to write big books!

The family saw Shrek Forever After over the weekend. I liked it. Not as good as the first, but it was much better than the 3rd one. I actually got a little nervous. They had themes in there that relate to the themes of my stuff. I have to finish this book, before someone uses the element before I do!

You are awesome for reading this.
See you in two weeks!

I'm David, and shoelaces should be shorter.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Aspiring Advice: Update Often

This will be a relatively short column this week, as I have loads of things to take care of that have nothing to do with my writing life. As you can see, I am in the process of updating my blog. I'm taking a moment to step back and learn more about blogger to better enhance what you see as well as how it's presented. If you haven't done this for your blog in a while, it wouldn't hurt to check up on it and update if needed. If you don't have a blog at all--what are you waiting for? Get started! Though it may not be a bad idea to have a hobby blog first, just to get a hang of the process. Something I should have done. I could have had myself a nifty film review blog of some kind. Check back for updates Monday and a "for real" advice column next week.

I'm David, and plastic cups are more fragile than they look.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Post: With A Hint of Advice

What a day. What a weekend, I should say.

I'm very glad to say that the epidemic in our house has moved on, leaving the rest of us tired and chronically fatigued. I want to thank those who commented and for the awesome sister and sister-in-law nurse's in the family with their excellent wisdom, mashed potatoes, and everyone else who've put their hands in to help this guy. He's of little speech, but he thanks you, regardless.

Update: Chapter 10 was read through and I am now in the process of refining our initial draft. I wish I could have done this over the weekend, but that wasn't about to happen. It's hard to type with one hand and hold a puke bucket in the other. Anyway, if all goes well, I should be well into chapter 11 by the end of the week.

Now, since I was unable to draft an advisory column this week, I'll share a small bit of advice that goes out to more than just writers. If you have made the choice to take responsibility for a child, whether it be your own DNA, foster, or adoption, you must let nothing come between you and them. Yes, we all have our jobs and hobbies to perform, but know when you must put those things aside to take care of the persons that really matter; your children. They will be adults one day, you know. What they think of life will mirror what you give them, teach them, expose them to, while they grow and learn of things that you've never heard of. In short; love them and let them know it. Kids resenting their parents makes great traumatic tension for stories, but that's better left in stories--not in real life.

I'm David, and I'm back on my diet.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Short Delay

My apologies for having no column this week. A family emergency occurred. All is well, but we're not out of the woods just yet. I'll write a new column when I am able. Thank you for your patience.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Post: Trains, Guns and Weenies, Oh My!

Now that the weather is warm enough to get out of the house, there's much to do and see. And there's quite a bit of Utah that I haven't seen yet. Northern Utah, anyway. But we took care of that by going to the old Ogden Union Station where they have a train museum, actual old locomotives you can crawl around on, and a gun museum, showcasing the products of John M. Browning. I had no idea that he invented the first automatic pistol, rifle, and shotgun, and that these were important firearms that were used by the U.S. Army in World Wars 1 and 2. You really can be surprised by old things when it's new to you, huh?
After that, we drove to Promontory Point, the location where the Trans-Continental Railroad met up. Not really much out there, but it was neat to see two steam locomotives--one coal burning and the other wood. Afterwords, a weenie roast at the home of my wife's aunt and uncle. Yummy. We had fun.

Update: Chapter 10 went by faster than I thought. All I have to do is read it once or twice and then have Mike read up on it. If all goes well, I'll start chapter 11 this week, which will contain mostly new material! Yay!
I am officially going to a Writer's Workshop hosted by Orsen Scott Card, but I was not eligible for the Boot Camp. That's okay. My entry was just barely on time so it serves me right for procrastinating.

My entry will be short because I have some work to do. Check back later this week for advice and good fun (I'll try and make it funny).

I'm David, and my shirt's too big.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Aspiring Advice: Formatting

Finally. Sunshine. That's what I like to see! 

For some reason, the way blogger formats their text box is really throwing me off at the moment. The font size is either too big or too small--no happy medium. Plus, my totally awesome space background in missing? Anyone having a problem reading my posts? Let me know how it looks on your end, if you have the chance. I might have to make some changes if that's the case.

Anywho; this has been an eventful week. Lot's of work done and a bit of writing on the side, too. Of course, you didn't come here for an update, did you? That's for Monday! You came for advice! That's exactly what I have for you. However, what I want to share may be rather basic for some of you, but I figured it's worth mentioning to the beginning writers who are now following the Laire. So, if you know this stuff already, you're excused from class today. Teehee!

And here it is . . .

Formatting: as a beginning writer, I hadn't a clue what I was doing. After some time, I've learned a few tricks to help make my manuscripts look professional. Keep in mind, I use Microsoft Word 2000. I even bought a used version of it because it's easy to use and I don't want to learn the new/weird/crappy Word program. Yeah. I said it. It's a weird program. Go ahead and follow along with me, if you wish. First, open a document and customize your defaults so that whenever you open a new document, your page will have "one-inch margins" all around. Do this by double-clicking on the side, where it looks like a ruler. This box should pop up.

Next, insert a page number, on the top right of your document.
Then, double click near the number to reveal the header box. Here is were you will write the title of your work--space--(/)--space--your name/pseudonym (or pen name). Click anywhere on your document to exit the header box.

The next step is to make your lines double-spaced. You can find this in your Format tab, then click Paragraph.
Last of all--your font. 12 point New Times Roman is the basic/most legible font out there. That's what you read in just about every printed book, anyway. Please, please no fancy fonts, giant words, or words that are so small that I need a magnifying glass to read your material. I lost my magnifying glass to some angry ants (Weird, huh?), so don't send teenee-tiny writing my way.
Now--you are ready to write--but where on the page do you start?

Start in the middle. Or just start writing! When you have a full page, go back to the top and press Enter/Return until only the first 13 or so lines remain on the first page. You would have about this much white space space, as seen here.

Now, this is the kind of thing that agents and publishers like to see. When you're drafting knew material and printing it for people to look at, to edit, well--you and I both know paper and ink ain't cheap. I usually draft my works with a half space, not double space, and start my prose at the top, to conserve paper. Then, when it's all ready and done, I reformat by selecting all (Control-A)--go to Format--Paragraph--Double Space. Then I hit Enter until I am half a page.
Note: This you must do for ALL chapters. Even if chapter 1 ends with only three lines on the last page, start the next chapter on the next page. If I were you, I would make every chapter a separate document. Good insurance. Trust me.

You got to see the opening hook for Forerunner.
Lucky you!

And, of course, your manuscript needs a title page!

Title and Author, centered, double-spaced, with contact information in the bottom right corner. Please note: Your title page ought to be separate from your manuscript. No page number.

Lastly, your manuscript should be single sided. Words should only be on one side of the page. If you're conserving paper for editing, feel free to use your old documents for scrap instead of throwing it away. The trees will love you for it!

Now that you know how to format, your work will look fantastic! Hopefully this has been of some help to someone. I tell ya. I wish I had known this years ago. I searched the web all over, high and low, and never found help like this.

Thanks for clicking by. Come back Monday for updates!

I'm David, and I want to see Iron Man 2 [------this------] badly!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Post: Blog Adds and New Prose!

Greetings. The weekend is over and I'm back for more. Now, if the weather would just cooperate and turn into Spring already, we'll really be in business.
First up, I wanted you to know that some cool little things have been added to the Laire: A fantastic picture that I custom cropped as a cover for The Dragon's Heart, a Word Count Meter for my most relevant works in progress (over 10K), and a Status Space. Hey. Not only that, but we have over 200 hits now! All right! There's also a picture of me with Halo's Master Chief. If I have the opportunity to snap a few neat pictures, I'll be sure to add them. Enjoy!

Update: Good news and bad again. Good news this time. Chapter 9 is DONE and I've written half a page of all new material! It felt exhilarating.The bad news; I'm not totally satisfied with chapter 9. Weird, huh? Mike read it, my wife read it--they liked it, so why don't I? Post-Conference over-critical-ism? Maybe. It feels rushed in some areas, with a lack of detail. When I have a chance, I'm going to reread 9 again, make a few adjustments if needed, and put it aside for now. Chapter 10 has waited for a long time to hop out of the unfinished chapters folder.
We'll see how far we go this week.
Since last Monday, I've attended a special presentation by WiDo publishing, accidentally missed out on my critique group (doh), signed up for a writing workshop hosted by Orson Scott Card (as well as submitted a page to determine eligibility for his follow-up boot camp), and emailed off a query letter and 3 chapter sample of The Dragon's Heart. There's not much else to say for now, so I'll wrap up and get to work. I know I may have sounded like a sack of crying potatoes last week, but I assure you, it was the kick in the butt that I needed. With so much to look forward too, and half a novel to finish, with summer on the horizon (and a great line-up of movies to boot), there's nothing standing in my way now.
This ball is rolling. And like Indy, I gotta RUN!

I'm David, and I'm craving a good movie.