A Call for Volunteers

Actually, I’m looking for some co-conspirators.  As I hinted on my previous post, I have something brewing.  And per my normal unconventional-self, it’s going to be different.  But I need some help in pulling it off.  I don’t want to spill too many beans, but what I need is volunteers to host a simple clue on their blog side-bar for a two week period.  The clue will have no imbedded links or hidden functionality and could be as mundane as four simple words.  I will tell you what the clue needs to say, and you can format it as you see fit.  


How many volunteers do I need, you ask.  I require a minimum of ten, but can handle as many as thirty-five, so don’t be shy.  To let me know you are willing to help you can either leave a comment below, or send an email to dlh.hammons@gmail.com  If you want to be really clever and contribute to the fun, leave me a comment saying you’d love to help but are unable to commit…then send me an email telling me you’re in.  Confusion and misdirection are part of the plan and you’ll soon find out why.

How about it?  Are you curious?  Want to be part of something different?  :)

*Update*  Thanks everyone!  I've reached my limit of victims volunteers.  The fun is slated to begin on Monday.  :)

My 100 Words for $100 Dollars Blogfest Entry

This was much more difficult than I first imagined when I signed up for Elena's blogfest in early January.  The rules were as follows:

Objective: Write one 100-word sentence (with a 5-word leeway, so between 95 words or 105 words). You may use ONE semi-colon, if necessary. There is no genre. The only requirement is that you love it enough to post it on various social networking sites.

Mission accomplished and posted below.


Submerged


As my head dipped below the crest of the frigid waters my thoughts  couldn’t resist flashing back to that previous exploration and the horrifying secret we had unknowingly drug up from those sunlight starved depths and how it had started so simply, innocently, betraying not a hint of the hidden evil that was so patiently waiting for the release that would ultimately sentence the world to a fate far worse than everyday headlines threatening economic ruin or fanatical terrorists could even hope to portray; revealing itself as the true harbinger of doom even the most twisted imagination could conceive.     

You can find the links to the other sentences HERE on Elena's blog. 

Oh...and you might want to stop back by on Monday!  Something exciting is brewing! :)

Half-Cocked

No, I didn’t suffer some horrifying industrial accident that left me disfigured and my wife perpetually unsatisfied. As if.

Today I want to talk to you about patience, or more to the point, the lack of it. This is an area where I commonly demonstrate opposite ends of the spectrum, which is surprising. I’m a type B personality. Actually closer to B- or C+, if that’s even possible. If you know anything about personality traits, you’ll realize that means I’m laid back to the extreme and patience is normally one of my strong points. But when it comes to my writing, I have a tendency to jump the gun and let go of my projects before they're ready. Anyone else have this problem?

Half-cocked* is a technical firearms term referring to the position of the hammer where the hammer is partially but not completely cocked. Many firearms, particularly older firearms, had a notch cut into the hammer allowing a half-cock, as this position would neither allow the gun to fire nor permit the hammer-mounted firing pin to rest on a live percussion cap or cartridge. The commonly-used English expression of "going off half-cocked" derives from the failure of the half-cock mechanism to keep the hammer from falling and allowing a firearm to discharge prematurely. *definition courtesy of Wikipedia.

This half-cocked problem isn’t limited to just my novels…nope…I see it pop up in emails I send, blog post I compose, just about everywhere. I am not one of those writers who hiccup and 500 or so perfectly realized, grammatically correct words spew out. I’ll massage a paragraph over and over before I’m content with it. Even then it will need more work, but I won’t be able to see it yet. I’ve learned a long time ago that I must build some semblance of a pause in my writing process, a seasoning if you will, to allow the problems with my prose to reveal themselves to me. And when they inevitably do, like noticing someone in the room for the first time (How long have you been standing there?), I’m no longer surprised. For me, the process of transcribing my imagination happens in layers.

As I’ve learned more about the publishing process and the way to approach it, the problem of going off half-cocked has taken on a whole new gravity. Querying a manuscript before it’s completely ready is a death sentence. A move that could even poison the well for you. You have to fight that temptation, dig your feet in and resist that pull. What’s the rush?

When is your novel ready? Definitely not an easy answer. In my mind, there is no such thing as a finished manuscript. There can always be one more minor change made somewhere. But the laws of diminishing return do take over at some point, yielding fewer and fewer revisions with each once over. Your CP’s and Beta readers will be your best barometer here.

I’ll leave you with one final thought. There is no danger in a loaded gun when both parties know what they’re doing. But a half-cocked one, that’s a different story indeed?

(((HUGS)))


Fridays Significant Other Blogfest was such a rousing success that I'm feeling the blog bond especially strong today. The demonstration of undying support and out-right love we witnessed exceeded my greatest expectations, and I owe all of you for that. Our blog family got a little bit larger that day, expanding to include those that care about us (and our writing) the most. My wife would like to thank everyone from the bottom of her heart for all of the caring comments left on her blog post Friday.


 

I say it’s time for a group hug. Everybody who feels the same should join in below.


 

Old friend, new friend, east coast, west coast, northern or southern hemisphere, contribute in whatever fashion suits you best.  No need to worry about catching a cold, or spreading germs.


My wish is that we could do this for real...someday.


I feed off your energy and grow stronger in my craft every day.  You people ROCK!


DL    :)


The Significant Other Blogfest *Gulp*

Oh dear. Good golly. I am so NOT the writer in this family! In fact, I would not only rank my daughter ahead of me but also my 11 year old son can write better than I. Than me? Whatever. Nonetheless, I do support my husband’s writing very much. And although I like that he initiated a “Blogfest” I really wish he would have been happy with me simply patting his back and saying “Go for it” vs requesting that I actually express my feelings via his choice of medium.

Let it be known right from the start, I am doing this under duress. Although I read all kinds of books, all the time, I actually run from writing. I write when cornered, but not by choice, and certainly not for fun! Therefore, let this be a screaming/flashing display of my support to my “significant other.”

You see, we are the epitome of the example of opposites attract. I am out going, and pretty sociable. My other is uber shy. (His words) I take 15 minutes verbally explaining something that Don can write in 2 sentences. I walk into a room and will talk with anyone, Don walks in and quietly observes, hardly talking with anyone.

What did I think when I first read one of Don’s stories? WOW! All the words, conversations, expressions, that I reach out to others to enjoy, my husband expresses by reaching out in writing! Am I proud and supportive of his writing? You betcha! (<- See? Please do not cringe; this is why I do not write.) Why am I excited for him? He has found a way to be sociable! I always knew he had it in him, now there are “followers” that have found his sociable side too!

Am I 100% supportive? Well. . . um. . . Can I say 95%? There are those times that he gets so “into” it that he tunes out EVERYTHING around him. I get that his writing is important, but I do not put it ahead of family - especially when they are in the same room dancing around for his attention!

Do I want him to pursue getting his book published? Of course! 1) For his own self confidence 2) I enjoy watching him smile with this passion, and 3) because I think it is a good story (Yes, you might say I’m a bit prejudiced, but I do read a lot with which to compare.) I feel his story is equal to, and better than, many published books out there.

Well, I hope this ramble has not caused my significant other to loose any of his followers’ respect. Please do not let my poor writing reflect upon him. His passion is writing. My passion, along with travel and pictures, is him.

Don wanted to make sure that I reminded everyone to check out all the other Significant Other blogfest entries.  He's going to come behind me and sprinkle a little HTML magic so you can find a list of the participants HERE.

Back at the Coffee Shop (or A Significant Reminder)

Writer #3: Sorry I’m late. Ohhhh, I love that blouse. It really brings out the color in your eyes.

Writer #2: Thank you. Is everything alright, you look flustered.

Writer #3: Oh sure. My husband was just running late getting home from work to watch the kids.

Writer #1: Oh, I just remembered Talli and DL’s Significant Other blogfest is this Friday. I need to make sure my hubby has written something.

Writer #2: I don’t do blogfest. I refuse to post any of my writing on-line.

Writer #1 and Writer #3 glance at one another.

Writer #1: Um…this is a blogfest where your significant other post something about what it’s like living with a writer in the family. It’s not actually your work being posted.

Writer #3: And it doesn’t have to be your spouse. I’m having my sister do it.

Writer #2: Oh. I don’t think I could get George to do that. That man is a brilliant engineer, but I wouldn’t trust him to write a shopping list.

Writer #1: You could just interview him and post that. The goal is to hear what someone else in your support group has to say, so how you accomplish that is pretty open.

Writer #2: Hmmmmmm. So why are you having your sister do it and not Bob.

Writer #3: Are you kidding? You say the word blog to him and he thinks of an old horror movie. He has no concept of what a blog is and barely tolerates my writing time.

Writer #2: That’s too bad.

Writer #3: Tell me about it. You know that book signing we went to last Tuesday? I had to tell him we were going to a Victoria Secret party to get him to watch the kids.

Writer #1: I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about any of that. Danny is totally supportive of my writing and jumped at the chance to do this blogfest.

Writer #3: Are you sure? Think about it…maybe he agreed to do it too quickly. He could be secretly planning on spewing all sorts of toxic waste about you.

Writer #1: He wouldn’t do that…would he?

Writer #2: I think George understands my commitment, although we’ve never really sat down and talked about it. Now I’m wondering.

Writer #3: How did Talli and DL hook up anyway?

Writer #1: Hook up?

Writer #3: Get your mind out of the gutter, you know what I mean.

Writer #1: I write steamy romances, my mind is always in the gutter.

Writer #3: Well, I write fantasy, does that mean this is just a dream and your really not here?

Writer #2 gets up to leave.

Writer #1: Where are you going?

Writer #2: I’ve just decided that I’m going to convince George to do the blogfest.

Writer #3: And you have to go tell him right now?

Writer #2: No, but it’s going to take some convincing…which means I have to go shopping.

Writer #1: Huh?

Writer #2: I have to go to the grocery store to get items for his favorite meal, then I have to swing by the lingerie store. Bye!

The End of the Alphabet Gets the Shaft


I don’t know about you, but I keep up with all of my blogs via Google Reader. For those of you not familiar with that tool, it displays each of my subscriptions in alphabetical order and the ones updated since I last visited are bolded (with a trailing numeral representing the number of unread posts). The reader also lets you change how the blog is displayed, so I usually modify it to have the name of the blogger precede the name of the blog. For example, Shannon O’Donnell (everyone knows Shannon) has a blog named Book Dreaming. Without doing any modifications, Book Dreaming is what appears on my Google Reader list. I’ve customized it to read Shannon – Book Dreaming, because that’s easier for me to remember which blog belongs to who.

Shannon may not know it…but she just got the shaft.

You see, when I read my blogs, I do it alphabetically (usually). And during those times I’m playing catch-up with hundreds of posts to read, I’ll end up leaving more thoughtful comments for the blogs I read first, and less and less as I proceed down the list. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve even skimmed through some post from bloggers with names beginning with S, T, U, V & W’s. *sheepish grin*

Is this fair? Absolutely not, and I recognize that fact. So from time to time I’ll catch up on my blog reading by beginning at the Z’s and moving backwards. That makes things more equitable, but it’s not a true solution. Over the holidays I let myself fall so far behind that Monday I started reading at the A’s, Tuesday I switched it up and began with the Z’s, then I went back to the top of the alphabet Wednesday. You get the idea. Now it’s Friday and I’ve barely touched J-P. Sorry guys!

One solution when things get that far backed up is just to purge everything. Hit the MARK ALL AS READ button on my reader and start from scratch. It’s very tempting, but you can miss some really great post by doing that. The real answer is to not allow myself to fall that far behind and feeling rushed to catch back up, but life is life and there’s no way I can’t make that promise.

Sorry gang…no quick fix answers here. I know that each and every one of you are probably saying right now, “don’t sweat it. It’s not worth the stress.” Still, I do. I follow you for a reason, and without raising the mushy quotient too high, I care.

And I’m telling you right now, I’m ignoring all of the comments informing me you’ve changed your names to Adam or Amy.

A Significant Fear



You guys have heard of this blogfest me and my blogging pal Talli Roland are co-hosting…right? THE SIGNFICANT OTHER BLOGFEST. We are both super-pumped about it and can’t wait to read all the posts that day. We’re anticipating revelations galore, as well as a deeper understanding of what makes each of us tick. But there is something else I’ve seen through the course of reading the comments about our venture, a hint of something I consider a tad unsettling. FEAR.

On the surface, it comes across as an innocent, almost playful undercurrent of trepidation. Maybe I really don’t want to hear what my significant other has to say about my writing. But that makes me wonder -- how many are joking around, and how many won’t admit to the amount of truth in that statement? Let’s take it one step further…how many of my fellow writers/bloggers won’t even bother to ask their significant other to take part in the blogfest because of this fear?

I, in turn, had to ask myself the same question. What will my wife say in her post? Sure, she gripes about my time in front of the computer (or as she calls it, “checking out”) and she’s not thrilled that I associate regularly with so many women bloggers (can I help it if 95% of this writing blogosphere is female?). But moving past all that I know in my bones that she truly supports my writing and my dream to become published. She believes in my manuscripts as much as I do (sometimes more), and understands there’s still much for me to learn about the craft. How many of my fellow bloggers can say the same. How many are unsure? Is it a handicap if your significant other simply ‘tolerates’ your writing?

YOU!  HEY YOU!  That’s right…I’m talking to you now – the so-called significant other. I’m calling you out. I’m putting the spotlight on you for a change, just for a brief moment, and providing you the opportunity to make a statement that goes far beyond lip service. Do you realize that the writer your associated with regularly strips themselves naked, stands openly before a forum of their peers (and more importantly those with the power to judge), and asks a simple question. Is my writing good enough? At least that’s what it feels like. But the real meaning of their question is… Am I good enough? When that answer is anything but positive, they’ll need someone to lean on for support, but honestly even when the answer is positive they’ll still need someone…the process is just that scary. Are you that person you they can turn to?

If it is, then tell them …and let us listen. And if you’re too shy to have your thoughts posted here in the blogosphere, tell them anyway. Erase all of the doubts and uncertainty. Show us…and more importantly, them… that beneath the griping and dismissive looks, there lies a rock solid foundation of unshakable support. Their Champion.

I hope you’ll come out on January 21st, because it’s going to be a truly special day. Give us a chance (through our comments) to thank you for everything you do.

A Glance over the Shoulder

I’m not quite through with you yet…2010.

I’ve been slowly tying up loose ends from last year and this is the final step. Reflection. What did I accomplish here on my blog? Did I make a difference? Did I manage to set myself apart in some small way (like we all are trying to do), or am I still just background noise. Let’s take a look, shall we?

I started the year with 34 ‘Like Minded’ followers. I know because I listed each of their names on my final post from 2009. If I did the same this year, I would be typing out 584 names. My goal when I began the year was 100. Even more special was the fact that I managed to attract at least one follower in each of the 50 states and 25 countries throughout the world.  Cruising Altitude went global in 2010...the year of the Tiger.

I posted 108 times and averaged 33.8 comments per post. The high point being 102 comments and the low point 5 (that happened to be my first post of 2010). More important than the numbers were those comments informing me of the tears and/or laughs I happened to elicit. Additionally, I was bestowed more blog awards than I can even count from my blogging colleagues.

I hosted my own blogfest (The High Drama Blogfest - which was a rousing success), started a Blog Recycle Station, wondered about a blogs lifecyle (Blog Years), and warned about the dangers of Black Ice. Overall, I exceeded 15,000 site hits in 2010.

Let’s set aside the numbers and look at the people. I’ve been introduced to, and became close…close friends with, some truly amazing people last year, all due to this blog. I was led to the critique group I’m part now of because of it. I personally met three of my blogmates (*waves* to Summer, Nicole and Tamara) and hope to expand that number this year. (No…that doesn’t mean that I want the three of them to gain weight. Geesh!) Out of everything my blog opened up for me last year…the friendships I’ve formed tower above them all.

Full disclosure compels me to tell you I also came very very close to pulling the plug at one point last year. It was during a time filled with self-doubt and internal conflict, but by reading about similar struggles helped me through it.

So, although I fell short of my writing goals (and I’m okay with that) last year, the success of my blog more than makes up for it. A heartfelt thank you goes out to each of you who visited me even once in 2010. You are what keeps this train on track.

That was last year. Time to swivel the head around and look forward to the bigger and better. This is the point where you ask me…what have you done for me lately?

Speaking of that, don’t forget about the Significant Other Blogfest on January 21st.



2011…here I come.

The Blog Award Black Hole

I’ve been a bad, bad blogger. So bad in fact, why don’t you go ahead and slap my wrist. OUCH!!! Crap! I said wrist!

Okay, maybe I deserved more than the wrist. Over the course of the past several months, I have been the recipient of numerous blog awards that have unceremoniously sat collecting dust on my imaginary shelf, patiently waiting for some sort of formal acknowledgement here on my blog. I wasn’t so dense that I neglected to thank each of my benefactors, which I did profusely on their original posts, but blog award etiquette dictates that I do the same on my own blog. I’m sure some of them were beginning to wonder if their gracious token of recognition had disappeared into an black hole, never to be seen from again.

Like I said…bad blogger.

But I’m here to make amends…of a sort. Below is a listing of all the awards bestowed on me and links to the originators. They are all wonderful people, talented writers, and extremely entertaining bloggers in their own right. Seriously, if you haven’t already, you need to check them all out! But here’s the thing, each of these awards come with certain rules and procedures the recipient (that’s me) is supposed to follow through with upon acceptance. The thing is, *cringe* I’m gonna have to skip that part. If you’ve ever done a blog award post, then you know how much work they can be if done properly. I’m robbing valuable writing time as it is to keep on top of my blog reading and create what few post I’m able to, and I’m still slipping behind on all fronts. Trying to follow even a portion of award rules would be a major setback for me.

I hope that all of you can forgive me for my award faux pas, because I sincerely treasure each and every one of these honors. This move on my part probably guarantees I’ll never receive another one, but I guess that’s the price we have to pay for our craft.

Thank you all, again!

Creative Writer Award – Nicole Murray

Versatile Blogger Award – Nicole Murray, J.C. Martin, and Houston AW Knight

Bloom of an Idea Award – Nicole Murray

End of Days Award – LTM (Leigh)

Strangely Irresistible Award – LTM, Kristi Chestnutt, and Vicki Rocho

Wise Writer Award – Shannon O’ Donnell

Happy 101 Award – Jules

One Lovely Blog Award – Mara Nash

Cherry On Top Award – Kelly Dexter

Fair Dinkum Award – Piedmont Writer (Anne)

Christmas Blog Award – Michael Di Gesu



PS. Don’t forget about the Significant Other Blogfest on January 21st.

Query Letter Wrap-up

I’m wrapping things up a couple days early with my Keep Those Query Letter Coming endeavor, but I haven’t received any letters since just before the holidays and I’m itching to put 2010 behind me and move forward.

This year’s exercise was even more successful than I hoped. I received a slew of interesting queries by some obviously talented writers, and just reading the diverse collection of styles was an education in and of itself. Gauging by what was sent to me, the Fantasy genre, by far, seems to be very popular now. Or maybe it’s actually a reflection of the persona my blog exudes? (This guy’s living in a fantasy…surely he can relate to my query). Whatever the case, there are some truly unique story concepts out there.

I’m going to close things out by posting another one of the letters I received. Once again, the criteria I used when deciding to post a query here was very simple…would I want to read that book. Not – do I think the book will sell. Not – because the letter was particularly well written. Not – because the author is my second cousin with a severe overbite problem. Nope, none of those. Just…does the book interest me?

This comes from the creative mind of Amandasaurus Rex, and if you’re interested in finding out more about her writing you can visit her blog at silvertonguedserenade.wordpress.com

Attn: Mr./Ms. Agent:

For her seventeenth birthday, Savannah Jane Quinn gets a free trip to the world of her dreams, which would be wicked… except that that world, a magical, unpredictable realm called Myriad, is on the brink of destruction, and she’s supposed to save it. Before the Empty Moon chronicles her quest, which she must complete before the moon is new or it’s lights out for dreamers everywhere.

It all started when Anna’s father mysteriously disappeared. Her dreams told her his disappearance was linked to an imminent war in Myriad, but what seventeen-year-old believes something her limbic system baked up at five in the morning?

But Anna’s best friend Jesse vanishes next, and now she has to believe – her dreams are the only clue she has. Anna soon learns that her fate is much, much bigger than rescuing her loved ones. More like rescuing the entire world. There is a muse in Myriad who doesn’t think humans deserve to have dreams, and he’s got the power to cut them off. If Anna doesn’t stop him, she’ll lose more than a father and a friend. She’ll lose everything, including her very self.

Before the Empty Moon is a 100,000 word young adult fantasy saga about adventure, trust, betrayal and redemption. It will be my third young adult novel. [Top secret biographical info goes here! ^_~]

Thank you for your considerate time and timely consideration. My full manuscript is available upon request. I look forward to hearing from you!

Best regards,

[Amandasaurus Rex]

PS. Don’t forget about the Significant Other Blogfest on January 21st.  That's just over two weeks from today. :)

Momentum

When I sat down to write this piece I had one purpose in mind, summarize the previous year in a nutshell and briefly talk about my blurry view of my future, but not have it come across as your typical New Year’s resolution bit. What I wanted to say had to be broader than that, wide in scope, but easily relatable. The more and more I pondered what I wanted to say, waiting for my thoughts to jell into some form of cohesive meaning, I realized the real topic of the post was right there before my eyes. You see, I first sat down to write this post two weeks ago.

Every time I plopped down in front of the keyboard and started writing, I found myself unable to sustain any sense of creative momentum. There it was…2010 in a nutshell…and an obstacle to tackle in 2011. And even better was the fact that it’s something every single one of us struggles with from time to time, whether we’re talking about writing, or in everyday life.

How many of you have tried to start a diet (a popular topic this time of year) and stumbled early-on, rationalizing the slip by telling yourself you’ll start over again next week? Why? Because you haven’t built up enough momentum to resist temptation. I do that all the time. When I’ve finally been good for several weeks and continue making regular visits to the gym, it’s much easier to resist those unhealthy detours and stay on track. I don’t want to jeopardize the hard work I’ve dedicated myself to so far.

I see the same thing in many of the things I do. I won’t start reading a new book unless I foresee large chunks of available time in my future. Why? Because I don’t like constant interruptions, reading a page or two whenever I can find the time. When I read in that fashion, I find it difficult to get into the book. How many times have you put off getting involved with something until you are certain there will be enough time to give it your undivided attention? Isn’t that considered preventative momentum abatement?

Can we use physics to explain why is momentum such a factor in everything we do? It was Newton who first described the relationship between the forces acting on a body and its motion due to those forces.

• An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless an unbalanced force acts upon it.

• An object that is in motion will not change its velocity unless an unbalanced force acts upon it.

How odd is it that a fundamental law of physics can be so easily translatable to human behavior? Is it physics that keeps me sitting on the couch in front of the television…a body at rest…or mental laziness?

Momentum is a tricky thing though. It can exist on multiple levels, sometimes moving in contrasting directions, much like a Boeing 747 speeding along at 565 mph at cruising altitude (like how I worked that in there) but leaving its passengers feeling none of that forward motion. Take my writing for example. I found it not only difficult to get the ball rolling in 2010, but keep it going. Yes, the distractions were numerous and new responsibilities at work wore me down, but despite all that I finished the year with a sense of accomplishment. That comes from my unshakable feeling of a sustained forward momentum.

I have spoken with writers who battle with problems completing projects. An idea loses its luster in mid-stream and they are drawn to a shiny new concept instead. Although each new story has its own form of momentum, this constant switching of focus has to make it nearly impossible to generate the type of overall momentum that will ultimately lead to self-satisfaction. What about NaNoWriMo? How does the extreme rush generated by writing a novel in a month translate into sustainable momentum?

For me, I plan to leverage the centrifugal force that propelled me out of 2010 into something unstoppable in 2011. I won’t allow my personal velocity to be dictated by individual achievements or disappointments. It’s much bigger than that.

Can you feel your own momentum?



PS. Don’t forget about the Significant Other Blogfest on January 21st.

 

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