Sunday, April 29, 2012

Brotherly Love (Guest Posted by Kilroy Allen)

Greetings readers! It is I, the famous Kilroy Allen (also known as the Emerald Sword) hero from Ballad of the Highwayman. Hazel has asked me to do a guest post for you today on what I thought brotherly love was. Hazel is currently working on a new novel (another reason why I am guest posting) and it entails lots of camaraderie and brotherhood between men who are not related by blood. (And that's all I am able to divulge at the moment.) Now I for one never had any siblings of my own, but my good friend Jeff is in every way my brother. We grew up together after I had to run away and helped each other to live to manhood--a challenging thing, I assure you. More recently, I have become good friends with an old enemy, Roster Scarcliff, and despite his sometimes annoying attitude, and his addiction for trying to flirt with my wife, he's not a bad lad. So from the experience I have had with my good comrades in arms, here is what I think brotherly love is:

It's breaking each other's ribs in fighting practice instead of their noses so they'll still have a chance with the girls.

It's slapping some sense into them when they have been cheated by women who were undeserving of them anyway.

It's helping them win the right lass--by whatever means necessary. And let me tell you, this can really get you into some, shall I say, interesting situations?

It's being family if they have none.

It's taking care of their wives, lovers, children, and sisters as if they were your own family when they are not around.

It's sticking up for each other, fighting for each other's honor, and perhaps even dying for each other. A lesson my father always taught me was that on the battlefield, your one duty is to your comrades. It is never nice to leave your family at home, but you should never leave your brother on the field.

It's getting into trouble. Always. Otherwise, we wouldn't have any fun at all.

It also involves merciless teasing, especially when they are trying to woo women. They'll be willing to hang on every word of advice you give them, and, trust me, there's lots of fun to be had with that!

It is giving good advice too though, when it really matters. It is also listening to advice. We may not always want to, but our friends really do give good advice, and you should almost always listen to them on advice about women. Sometimes men get blinded by love, and they need their comrades to knock some sense into them before they get hurt.

And lastly, it's always being there like you should be for your blood family. Friends need to stick together, families need to stick together. Blood is not always thicker than water, but those who shed blood together are sometimes closer than blood brothers.

I hope you all liked this guest post. Thank you for reading it, and cheers to everyone!

~Kilroy A.

By the way, who was the jester who said they hated cravats on the poll? Who hates cravats?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Writing With Distractions or Just a Case of the Lazies

While passionate writers love to write, writing is still considered a disciplined activity. For me, though I love to write, it's usually a problem to make myself sit down and actually start. Once I do, I could write for hours, I just need a nudge in the right direction.

I know lots of writers have this problem. Another thing is that writers are usually avid readers, and we do not always want to have to put aside our favorite fellow authors to write our own things. Reading is a great way to gain inspiration--I go on reading spurts when I'm pondering what to write next, and usually I come back fresh and ready to go on with whatever I'm working on. But you should not let reading, or anything else for that matter, get in the way of your writing career. It makes for very angry muses, and a disruptive character purgatory, and that's never a good thing. If your characters are angry at you for neglecting them, then put down that new (name your favorite author here) novel and get to work!

Another thing that can be a problem is having company at your house--you know, out of town family. For some reason I always HAVE to write when there are visitors around. This can put a damper on things, but that doesn't mean you can't skip off to a corner and write a little bit.

Laziness is never a good excuse. I'm sorry, you're just not going to get out of it! If your characters are trying to kick you out of your chair and get you to working again, then you need to listen to them. The words might not be so quick to come the next time!

Here's some things that help motivate me: First of all, don't feel bad about treating yourself. This could be as simple as buying yourself a candy bar, or, my personal favorite, Pringles! And then putting them away until you finish what you were supposed to. The reward system is not just for children, you know. You can either do this, or have a special "writing time treat" like a delicious latte or snack that you only eat when you write. Mine is cherry sours. I'm eating them right now...

Setting goals for yourself is good too. And helps with the rewarding... I challenge myself to at least write something everyday. Whether it's for a novel I'm working on, a short story, or a blog post, or just something fun. If you're at a loss, look up some writing exercises on line that you can do. I've found some pretty fun things. I also like to write silly humor pieces or spoofs for my own books or my favorite books; even if you never intend anyone else to read these things, it's good to keep writing.

If you like to write with music, then putting on something that will set the scene is a great thing to do. I have different favorites for whatever I feel like writing. Sometimes, I just listen to music and then I get ideas for what to write. I am always very inspired by music.

Have any other tips you would like to share? Tell me about them in the comments! I'd love to hear from my fellow writers =)

Slainte, Hazel

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Knowing When to Let Go...maybe

A very important lesson for a writer to learn is when to let go of a story. There might be a few tears, it might hurt for a while, but sometimes it really is for the best. Why am I writing this post? Because I am there right now, so I thought I'd put my thoughts down to help others who might be struggling with this terrible problem of the "Novel Breakup".

Several years ago now, I wrote my "definitive" novel about William Wallace which I had planned to work on and publish this year. A few months ago, I had added more scenes to it, without really reading the rest of it and boy, let me tell you, my dear fellow writers, that is a mistake. I was recently going back through it in hopes of fixing it up for publishing, but reading it over, I found that the characters lacked character, they were much too cliché, the dialogue was absolutely pedestrian (to use a favorite reviewer's term) and while the history was sound, the writing style was just, bleh. Then I got to one of the parts I added and...nearly died of shock. If you add something to a novel and re-read it and have to say "Odds Fish!" when you reach the added part then...well, that's one of the signs that leads to letting a story go.

I really did try to save it, but it's going to take more work than I'm willing to give right now--as in, a whole total makeover. Yeah.

There comes a time, writers, that you will find your old stories to be less than perfect. This happens to every writer, and it should! Otherwise you're doing something wrong... It's a good experience to look back on your old stories and see how much you have grown as a writer from your first stuff to the stuff you write now. When I entered the ABNA contest the first year, I was sad and angry like anyone would be that my story didn't make it past Round Two, but now I thank those people for saving me the embarrassment that I would suffer now knowing that I had published That Old Book which is, in retrospect, pretty bad eggs.

While we are all fond of every story we wrote--sometimes in the kind way you might look at a very annoying child--we do need to learn when to let go and retire a story. This isn't to say that we might not go back to them and try to fix them up someday for publications--you'd be surprised at how much you can probably save from your old things--but you do need to realize when enough is enough and you need to move on.

This is also the case if you are no longer inspired to write something. Perhaps you gave something a little different a go, but it's not working for you. Trying something new is a great way for a writer to broaden their horizons, but it's not always going to work. For me, it was writing a WWI story which was a totally different time period than I had ever tried before, but I ended up really enjoying it. It's not like poor Hazel the historian is going to start writing paranormal vampire romances--this would be a bad choice on my part--but trying something a little different is good, and I do hope to publish my WWI book one day as well! Anyway, back to the original topic of this paragraph (I got side-tracked) if a book is not working out for you, don't worry about putting it aside for a while to work on something different! I have never known a writer with one idea in their head at a time, so I'm sure you'll never be at a loss. Fresh blood helps a lot of times, so to speak.

So in conclusion, while I have not yet decided whether to let my book go completely, I am definitely putting it away for a while while I work on something I think will end up much better. So I am going to go and get working on it, so that I can share some secrets with you soon =)

Slainte, Hazel

(Also, don't forget to vote on the poll! I'm going to be putting up silly little polls for you just for fun. And do remember that Mr Pepys is still taking questions for his advice column! Do write in to with any you might have!)