Opinions Are Just Opinions

Yesterday I went through an evening of shear panic and proceeded to berate myself for decisions I made as a teen. I read an article by a former MFA teacher and suddenly questioned myself as a writer. Seriously, I sat and questioned everything I was so sure of. I may not be the best writer, but I’ve known for a very long time that writing was my passion. Novels, short stories, comic books and video game reviews. I love to write. I chose this path shortly after high school and took a few wrong turns, but I eventually found my way and improved. I didn’t choose the easy path or the path others would’ve chosen for me.

SIDE NOTE: Despite what others think of the career choice, writing is rarely a life of luxury and vacation. The life of a writer is usually filled with sacrifices and deadlines, but we choose this because we love to write.

So I woke up today, still feeling a little off from the internal battle from last night. I couldn’t shake the thoughts because there were so many other writers who agreed with the article. Surely, I had to be doomed. This article just told me I was unlikely to ever be successful because I didn’t read the classics or take writing seriously in high school. Why didn’t I read those damn books we were assigned in high school? I read a lot of books school, but I almost never read the ones assigned to us.

SIDE NOTE: I was an angry and often rebellious teenager. Like many teenagers before me.

So why did I not bother to read those novels later? Was I even serious about writing in high school? My thoughts? I read what I liked and I wrote what I liked. My reading is much more well-rounded now, but I still believe you should enjoy what you’re reading. You shouldn’t sit and get a headache trying to translate text that doesn’t interest you, simply because it’s a classic and you feel obligated. Try it, don’t like? Then just move on. And I did write crazy stories in high school with my best friends as the characters. Was I writing? Yes. Was it super serious? No.

So still mentally beating myself up, I started my normal wake up routine of checking emails and social media. I was exhausted and my head hurt like a bad hangover.

SIDE NOTE: I didn’t drink last night. Maybe I should have.

Then I read Chuck Wendig’s response to the article, which is fairly vulgar and amazing. I had a great laugh and felt so much better knowing that I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t the only one who completely disagreed with that writer’s opinions. See, I had forgotten that’s all the article was. Opinions. Everyone has them, but doesn’t mean they are always right or that they even apply to you.

It’s ironic because I just recently read Chuck’s book, The Kick-Ass Writer: 1001 Ways to Write Great Fiction, Get Published, and Earn Your Audience, and he had me in a great mindset about writing. Honestly, writers need motivation and not negativity. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do. And read Chuck’s book about writing because his no bullshit approach to giving tips is hilarious and at least you’ll get a positive experience from his opinions. Most likely.

Stay awesome and keep reading and writing. ❤

Hands-On with Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home 13.0

I’ve always wanted to try the Dragon NaturallyRecognition software, but never had the extra money to invest in the software. I caught the home version on sale for $35 (a normally $99 purchase), so I decided to test out the program. I type really slow and way more dyslexic than I would like, so I thought the software would help me get novels finished faster.

I had the choice of buying the download or having a physical CD shipped to me. I chose the CD option because it came bundled with a headset to use, and I knew the software might not be compatible with my mic. Once the package arrived, I eagerly installed the Dragon program with the simple step by step instructions.

I knew I would have to train the software, and it wouldn’t be perfect and ready to use right away. I prepared myself for that fact. What I wasn’t prepared for was the hours spent raging at my PC while I tried to sync the headset. That’s right, I couldn’t get the program to sync with the headset that came bundled with the software. I spent hours trying to get any mic to sync up with the program, even though the software said that it works with the bundled headset as well as most built in PC mics and many USB connected headsets.

I checked the website for support, but found a forum with lots of similar issues that seemed to be unresolved. Headsets worked with my laptop, but wouldn’t sync with the software. I finally got a gaming headset to work via USB and mix-amp, but then I couldn’t be mobile with my laptop.

I used some time to try out the program, and I attempted to train the software to my voice. The tutorial was pretty in-depth as they walk you through most of the features. Dragon allows voice recognition to turn the mic off, navigate web browsers, and of course creating and formatting documents in word processors. It accepted my voice commands well, but some words it refused to understand even if I spelled them out verbally. However, you could type out and say the words to help the program recognize those words in the future.

In addition to the mic issue, I also experienced a bad lag issue. My laptop was close to Dragon’s minimum requirements, but there was a huge typing delay. I don’t experience any lag with bigger programs like Photoshop, but had major lag with Dragon.

Now I’ve spoken to several authors who tried Dragon, and the census seems to be pretty split. Some swear the program has done wonders for their daily word count and very convenient, and others complain of issues with the software similar to my experience. I returned my copy because the issues kept the program from being convenient for me. My recommendation? If you are still interested in trying the software in hopes of a better experience than I had, I would recommend getting the physical copy instead of the digital download.

Back to Blogging

Hey everyone, I want to apologize for the unannounced hiatus on my site. I had some issues with the website, the holidays happened and suddenly it was mid-January of the new year. Where did the time go? I’ll try to announce any breaks in the future, but for now I’ll be updating content weekly.

So what have I been up to?

I’ve sent Sacrifice to literary agents, I’m working on a short story for an anthology, and a few other projects. I’ve seriously been debating a way to distribute a horror fantasy story for free. I’m still working on the details, but considering releasing the story by chapters on a weekly schedule. I’ll announce more on that when I have a set plan. I’m also selling some of my art to try to cover the self-publishing costs for The Alliance: Bloodlines sequel. I’m trying to be hopeful for a December release, but I still have a lot of saving to do.

I recently tried out the Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home 13.0 software, and I’ll be blogging my opinions on that in the next few days. If you have any other blog suggestions, please feel free to comment below.

Writing Tips for Beginners

There’s one question that I get asked more than any other.

“What are some tips for new writers?”

I decided to share a handful of tips that I’ve dished out to friends who are interested in writing. I feel like most of these tips are important regardless of what you’re writing, but some are just my suggestions and not mandatory for success.

Don’t stop writing. Sounds simple enough, right? Writing is a craft made better through practice. I keep all of my writing projects filed away whether I finish them or not. If I need a boost of confidence that shows me that I’m improving, I’ll flip through an old manuscript and marvel at how I’ve improved.

Never stop learning. The web is filled with information that can help you improve your craft, so take advantage of online resources. You can join writer critique groups or attend writer’s workshops.

Read as much as you write. I analyze everything I read whether I’m reading a comic book or a novel. You’ll learn new words, new ways to get inspired or tell a story, or just something that pushes you want to write more.

Build an outline. Outlines aren’t used by every writer, but I personally work best when I make a basic outline. Outlines can be modified throughout the drafting stages. I start with just the basic plot points, and then I work off of that building block. If my story evolves and goes in a different direction, I simply adjust my outline and keep writing.

Don’t edit until the first draft is finished. This is one tip I always give new writers. You can fix anything in the revision process, so don’t slow yourself down during your first draft. To attempt editing before you even finish the complete story would have you running in circles, and would be a complete detriment to your progress.

Read On Writing by Stephen King. I don’t care if you purchase the book, borrow it from a friend, or go to the library—just read it! This book offers invaluable information for writers to improve their craft. I also find the book very motivating, despite King’s no bullshit approach to explaining. This is a book that I always keep on hand, and I read whenever I feel like I need a swift kick to get back on track.

Write what you love. This tip sounds like a no brainer, but it’s easy to forget what’s important. Don’t write a story that you aren’t interested in just because you think the topic would please someone else.  What’s the point in writing any fiction if you can’t write with passion? Write the stories that you want to tell, and stories that you would want to read.

Hope you found these tips to be informative. You can subscribe if you don’t want to miss future writing tips, and don’t forget to keep reading and writing!

Why I Write: The Tale of a Young Geek’s Inspiration

My mother was the one who always encouraged me to read a lot as a kid, but there were select books and shows that fueled my desire to tell stories. I’ve always been a daydreamer. My mind creates stories whether I like it or not, and there were several influences from my childhood.

As a kid I enjoyed comic books filled with heroics, but I also loved horror, sci-fi and fantasy. The books that most influenced me were R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series and pretty much anything written by Stephen King. I have an entire bookshelf filled with King’s books, and people always ask what my favorite King novel is. As much as I love his popular classics, my favorite would have to be the Dark Tower series as a whole.

I loved dark twisted stories that would make your heart pound with every page turn, but television also greatly inspired my creativity.

There was a show on Nickelodeon when I was young called Are You Afraid of the Dark where a group of kids would sneak out and tell spooky campfire stories. I was always fascinated by the idea of telling haunting tales by a campfire, but sadly this is still something that I’ve never done.

I can’t remember how old I was when I saw the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie on TV, but I thought it was the coolest idea I’d ever seen. The movie was not nearly the same caliber as the TV show that later followed, so why was the movie so important to me? Almost every book I read had a male protagonist, and if my memory serves me correct, this was a point where I said, “Wow this girl is a hero!” I don’t think I even stopped to question why all my books had male protagonist. I’d seen some females in comics, but this was different somehow. It was empowering to see Buffy kick ass as she went from cheerleader to vampire slayer.  I later rejoiced when the TV series was announced for the WB, and I have faithfully followed Joss Whedon ever since.

I read every book I could get my hands on and always daydreamed about my own stories. I tried to write a few novels in high school, but never stuck with the writing. What inspired me to try again? That would be Joss Whedon. My love of Buffy and all things Whedon inspired me to try again, and I finished the draft of The Alliance: Bloodlines.

I’ve since lost my love of horror, and i’m not even sure why. Maybe it’s because everything seems less scary now? Or the new generation of horror movies seem stale? My current inspiration comes from writers/creators: Whedon, Felicia Day, Brian K Vaughan, and Jane Espenson. When Joss Whedon first announced that he would be writing The Astonishing X-men, I decided that I would also try my hand at writing comics. I adapted Bloodlines into a limited series comic book which I pitched to publishers. I didn’t give up even when that project failed, but instead I kept practicing and have worked on scripts for several other projects.

So I guess if I could say anything to potential writers or even current authors, I would say take risks, be bold, write lovable characters, create breath taking worlds and send positive messages through stories.

The stories we write now could hugely impact the next generation of writers.

Honorable mentions from my childhood must include: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, TMNT, Alice in Wonderland, Superman movies and Batman movies, X-men comics, and more.