Tagged: writing

Plan for World Domination 0

A Conversation

“That’s interesting.”

“What is?”

“This video on stem cells.”

“How so?”

“It says we can convert fat cells into stem cells and rebuild our bodies.”

“Figures.”

“You sound like you already knew this.”

“No. But it all makes sense now.”

“How so?”

“The plan for world domination. It all started in the 50s with Americans eating too much.”

“Okay. I still don’t follow.”

“Fatten up the populace until they can’t walk and then rebuild them into lean fighting machines.”

“I hardly think Uncle Rick will be turned into a fighting machine.”

“Just look at him. Paunchy, big ol belly. He’s perfect for fat cell conversion.”

“Yeah, but still. He lacks motivation.”

“That’s the genius behind this plan. They can suck out Uncle Rick’s fat cells when he’s sleeping and when he wakes up he’ll be a marine!”

“World domination huh?”

“Yep. Just another reason for the world to hate us.”



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Feeding Your Muse with Music 0

Sometimes the best way to fill a blank page is to feed your muse with some writing music. While I would love to have a writing table overlooking the ocean near the cliffs of Big Sur, I can still get there with some music to remind me of the atmosphere and the setting. Of course, writing music also helps me get into a new scene or chapter.

Now, this isn’t a treatise on what type of music to listen to. I get inspiration from country, rock, pop, or classical styles. However, it is a reminder that music is a powerful way to get you into a particular place or character’s mind. Is it any wonder music soundtracks often hang with us longer than the film? That is because music feeds our inner muse and makes the story stronger.

Merle Haggard’s Seashores of Old Mexico serves as inspiration for my work in progress, Fish Tacos. The song tells a story of a fugitive on the run who discovers love in Mexico and a reason to stay on the run.

In fact, story songs are often the best for prompting a new story. What happened to the protagonist? As a writer, we can tell their next story. So, dig out those old vinyl records or that lost playlist and listen. You might find a story hidden in the feeling you get from the music. Even our muse needs writing music from time-to-time to keep us writing.



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The Face Behind the Frame 0

In the periphery, he saw children wearing uniforms crowded around an adult giving them instructions for the day. He neglected to smooth his tunic. No need. It never changed. He clinched his knee keeping his slender fingers straight. The letter balanced on the edge of the table. One errant breeze and it would fall. He hoped it didn’t land out of the frame. He stared into the exhibit hall waiting for the children. One curiously looked up. He realized she had missed him to examine a pastoral scene over his head. He glared more intently to catch her eye.


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Author Reading: Poetry 0

I started writing poetry as a cheat of sorts; I could write a compact story very quickly. My sister Debbie is the poet in the family. I do my best. She writes beautiful, heartfelt prose that makes you think. She was the one that explained Robert Frost’s “Two Roads” poem to me so that I understood it was about his decision not to go to war. I thought it had to do with walking in the forest.

Anyway, in this Author Reading, I recite some of my favorites poems and explain why I wrote them.



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Book Review – The Ultimate Hero’s Journey: 195 Essential Plot Stages Found in the Best Novels & Movies 0

Well, that’s a mouthful and they had to use an ampersand to make it all fit. However, Neal Soloponte provides 195 plot stages to consider in shaping a novel so the title needs some heft. The Ultimate Hero’s Journey: 195 Essential Plot Stages Found in the Best Novels & Movies delivers so many plot stages that I fell into the rabbit hole Soloponte took in writing this book.

Like my favorite, Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story, by K.M. Weiland, this book provides an outline of what must go into a novel to make the reader want to finish the story. Except this is a scientific look at the process. Soloponte takes Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey canon (I recommend The Power of Myth) and breaks it down further into what needs to happen as the hero journeys from the reactive (ordinary world) to proactive (adventure world) stages of the novel.

Soloponte says that a good novel contains 3 phases:

  1. Something happens
  2. Someone does something about it
  3. Either things change for the good or bad

He then goes on the show the 195 things that have to take place in each of these phases to grab the audience and hold them until the end.

At this point, it gets rather complicated because you can’t see where all of these stages have to land, other than a rough idea of the progression of the plot. So, you have to keep going back and finding out where you’ve been and what you’re missing. I suggest an overlay of the plot stages over Weiland’s model just to keep track of it all (I may work on something to be downloaded later from my Writing Tools page).

Overall, the book is great and revealing as to what goes into a story with many fine examples examined and torn apart by Soloponte. The author says at least 80 percent of the plot stages he has identified will be found in a great novel. Of course, the creative mind may alter the placement of the plot stages, but Soloponte says the plot stags can be found in the most successful novels.

I recommend this book as an excellent resource into what science finds makes a great story. Of course, we are writers and creative license is something we will always take with us.



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Author Reading : May 16, 2018 – A Moment of Pure Truth 0

I wrote this story after reading about a rare albino redwood on California’s coast north of San Francisco. I saw it as magical and spiritual. If I had my druthers, I’d live in Sonoma County or near Santa Rosa and make my way to the coast as often as I could to see the redwoods, ferns, and rough coast of the Pacific.

This is a short story about a group of people at a settlement conference: a sort of preliminary attempt to close out a lawsuit before a trial. Most of the settlement’s are managed by previous judges, so they know what will fly in front of a jury, and what won’t fly.

I tend to gravitate towards out of body experiences, paranormal, and strange phenomena. I suppose it is part of my belief we all are part of a collective experience and we certainly don’t have an answer for all of the mysteries of the world. I also think our imaginations fuel our passions and experience. So, in this story, I have no problem with a guy believing his daydream is reality.

Original Story: A Moment of Pure Truth



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Greyhound Arriving : Chapter 8 0

las vegas story

Cranberry Juice

The emergency room at the county hospital seemed a bit too busy for a Tuesday morning. Tucked in every corner sat screaming babies with frantic mothers, homeless suffering from the heat, foreigners nursing hangovers, and Cindy with a gunshot in her arm.

She sat in the middle of a bed pushed into the hallway with her legs dangling over the edge. A gauze pad with a red circle of blood covered her arm. This part of the adventure she could have done without.

“All I found was cranberry juice,” Wallace said. He snuck up on Cindy as if she might hit him.

“Thanks.” Cindy refused to look at him. She put the bottle on her head and let the cold penetrate her headache. Wallace placed a towel on her neck.

Wallace felt sick. The shootout left a man dead, a hurt friend, and most of all, the end of a good place to stop for breakfast. Moreover, this girl almost died. So close to the age of his youngest daughter. What a mess.

“It will be just a moment more,” a nurse said. “Can I get you anything?”

Cindy opened the bottle and took a sip.

“Just let me go.”

“In due time, dear,” said the nurse.

(more…)



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Greyhound Arriving : Chapter 7 0

las vegas story
Paramedics wheeled Charlie out of the club through the mess of wires, broken glass, and water. A medic taped gauze on Cindy’s arm where a bullet broke the skin leaving a bleeding gash. Cuts and scratches covered her legs.

“He’s going to make it,” Wallace said. “How he didn’t die is anybody’s guess.”

How they all survived, nobody could tell. A flash of gunpowder played again in Cindy’s mind as the bullet sent a cascade of water over Bill’s head. Then the bullet came toward her and she froze in fear. It threw up bits of cushion and wood behind her. It must have missed. However, a shock wave climbed her arm and she knew the bullet had hit her.

“You’ll need stitches,” a medic said. “I still can’t believe it happened,” Cindy said. “I could have died.” Cindy smoothed out her dress and tried to cover up her scratches.

“I’ll wrap those too.”

The medic squirted out some cream and moved his fingers over the cuts. His cold hands sent another shock through Cindy. She shivered. He paused. She waved him on and closed her eyes.

On this trip, she planned to find the man responsible for her dad’s death, kill him, and escape the desert. Instead, she landed in a shootout and a robbery.
(more…)



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Greyhound Arriving : Chapter 6 0

las vegas story
Todd Loudin heard the shots below his office. They sounded close. He cocked his head to listen. Two more shots and screaming. He rushed to the window.

A man dressed in all black ran away from the Glitter Gulch. Behind him, a half-dressed girl flailed on the ground with a hole in her leg. Another girl wearing only a bikini tried to help her. Green bills blew out of a broken grocery bag. A couple bills stuck to the girl’s bloody leg.

A man in a Hawaiian shirt, a straw fedora, and blue slippers held up his hands. A woman screamed and covered her hair. Todd chuckled. Imagine the sensation back home if she lost both her money and her head in Las Vegas.

Behind the man in black, a revolver spun around in one hand as a small duffel bag followed behind in the other. Todd leaned out the window and watched the stranger run.

The man crossed into the alley with the duffel flying behind him. Thin orange neon roped down the outside of the Golden Gate Hotel pointing to the alley. Todd watched the commotion and fear.

He looked away from the spectacle across the varnished room. He locked eyes on his bodyguard standing watch near a large wooden door. The bodyguard nodded. He secured his gun, turned, and left the room.

“Well boys,” Todd laughed. “All in a day’s work.”

He plopped down behind a desk of polished marble and leather. Todd pulled out a cigar from his jacket, cut off the end, drew it up to his mouth, and licked the end. He reached into a drawer behind him for a match. Lighting the cigar, he settled in for a smoke.

(more…)



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Greyhound Arriving : Chapter 5 0

las vegas story
A man dressed in black shifted his weight in the far booth with the girls. Feather hung on him like a white dishcloth and her breasts touched his shirt. She patted his arm when he laughed. The man chewed on a twizzle stick and a baseball hat hung low over his forehead. Cindy saw the corner of his eye when he smiled at Feather.

“They seem full of energy,” Cindy said.

Bill looked behind him. “The night always brings out the happy.” He turned around and eyed Cindy.

“Who’s the guy?” she asked. Cindy thought the stranger seemed out of place.

“Money can make you happy. Dreams can make you happy,” Bill said. “And we have enough of both to make you almost giddy.” He patted Cindy’s hand.

“You could use some happy, right?” Bill aimed to sign up the girl before the party started again.

He smiled a wide grin. Cindy looked behind him to the far corner of the bar. Wallace followed her gaze.

“Likely a guy who figures he might go home with Feather,” Wallace said. Bill twisted his head. “Why don’t you all go home now,” he shouted.

The laughter stopped and Feather fidgeted. The stranger leaned forward and Feather let go his arm.

“Go on. Go home,” Bill said.

(more…)



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