The Dog Days of Summer

When all this Covid stuff hit, the absence of our dear, departed dogs was too much and we went in search of a puppy. It was an adventure I won’t get into here, but for the first time we had a girl and a big dog. Well, not big yet. She was 14 pounds with long, skinny legs and a narrow head and body.

Because of Covid, we were with her every day, fed her well, and while we were definitely aware she was growing, it wasn’t wasn’t until Hurricane Sally gave us the blessing of our grown kids coming home from Pensacola for the weekend, with their two Jack Russel’s — their two very tiny Jack Russels — that we realized how big McKinley had become.

The Jacks been puppies in our home and were six or so months when they moved North with my daughter. At the time, they seemed like average size dogs. We’d had a small mutt, a chi, and whatever Thunder was at various times, all topping out around 17 pounds.

She is much prettier than the mountain she’s named after!

McKinley is now 45 pounds with another 20 pounds to gain. The Jacks could run under her without touching her belly (if they got along enough to do so. Jacks are a terror around big, boisterous, happy dogs unaware of their own size. For good reason; they have spindly bones my girl could crush in her eager rush to play.

When we first got her, she couldn’t reach her paws up to the table. Now she can and towers over the table looking for grub.

Yes, this is a writer’s blog, and yes there is a point.

If you write your story just a little bit everyday, your little story will take on size and dimension that amazes you. Some days you may write a paragraph; some days a chapter or more. The key is to write a bit every day. You’ll find when you sit to write for a few minutes, those minutes also take on size and dimension, and suddenly they’re hours. But even if not, a little bit will still accumulate.

My first novel was supposed to be a 15,000 to 20,000 word Dime Store novel. I wrote on a state-of-the-art computer at the time. Word was a DOS program and didn’t include a wordcount or even page count. When I finally finished the novel, it was 150,000 words. I had no idea! I began printing (on a dot-matrix printer) and it took three days to finish. One of these days, I’ll dust that novel off and rewrite it to a more manageable 60 – 80k manuscript.

The point is, a little over time becomes a lot. I’m the first to say with all I have going on right now that I don’t have time to write. I don’t have time to write for hours, but I do have time to write for 30 minutes or so.

Can’t you?

Punctuation Matters

There’s a big lather about young folks finding the period offensive. The truth is, that’s for texting, and we old people text paragraphs while youngin’s text sentence fragments at a time, making end punctuation unnecessary.

It’s like the paragraph indent. The purpose of the indent is to visually indicate the start of a new paragraph . What this means is that the first paragraph of a chapter, section, or paper does not need to be indented because there is nothing preceding from which to set it apart. With that logic, if you text one sentence (or fragment) at a time, the end punctuation isn’t necessary.

The COMMA is far more important in my mind. The meme goes around:

“Let’s eat grandpa.”

“Let’s eat, grandpa.”

That comma is a matter of life and death to grandpa.

Let’s face it, the comma is far harder to master than periods. When do you use them, when don’ t you?

I found what I hope was a typo in the Reader’s Digest from the Life in the United States feature. “My husband, Rey, was…”

Made me wonder if this lady was from Utah.

It is proper for my wife to write, “My brother Tim is my twin.” It is not proper for me to write, “My sister Debbie is the oldest.” Lynette has one brother; I have three sisters. The comma indicates more than one. The absence of the comma means there is only one. So Rey, I guess, is one of two or more husbands the author has.

My favorite comma drops an m but is pronounced the same. The comet’s coma is the envelope around the nucleus of the comet.

What is a Comet? (with pictures)
This may not be punctuation, but it’s cool!

Publish Outside The Box!

When Amazon democratized publishing, they did a lot more than just turning publishing on its ear, they threw out the box for anyone ready to put some thought into it.

The traditional publishing world created a box around books. They had to be this size, this number of pages, all text, and even limited formatting to ensure offset printing efficiency.

Today, your job is to figure out how your passion can be published.

I’m blessed to have many friends who are wizards with pens, brushes, and styluses. Others with cameras. Funny thing about fine artists, they all have some IP floating around in them. IP, for the uninitiated, is Intellectual Property. Ideas that are all their own. Maybe they are ideal for movies, cartoons, merchandising, radio shows, and other media channels, and I agree.

They are also grist for books.

Wait, wait, when you hear the word “books” are you thinking 200 pages of text? Maybe you’re thinking of traditional picture books.

The truth is, the medium is ripe for reinvention. I’ll be the first to admit that Amazon doesn’t enable 3D popups, but art and words have been going together in some form or another forever. Memes are a new form of words and graphics. Who says comic books have to be 6 – 9 panels per page? Who says they have to only use word balloons?

I’m not a graphic artist, I’m not the one to define what those new designs should be, but I’d ask my artistic friends not to limit themselves.

Amazing Art wallpaper | 1680x1050 | #15211
If they can create a lion with lasers, you can create something equally amazing!

I know a young woman who doodles the most amazing art while she listens to a sermon. The art is drawn from the sermon, which is drawn from the Bible. I’d love to see her share those doodles (you and I would call them high art) with a paragraph or two about what they mean. It isn’t narrative, it might be a wonderful twist on a devotional, or maybe an amazing snapshot of a young artist’s mind.

Do you love to cook? What’s your twist on a cookbook? Going on a trip? What’s your take on a craft book for the kids?

A last thought for my friends sitting on strong IP; there’s nothing new under the sun (hard to believe after I’m preaching on the new, but even that’s based on what’s come before, just without the same limits). It just takes one published media piece to cement your copyright on the IP. You need to do it before someone else is too close to your idea.

Prevail Press is your gateway to publishing!

Expanding Our Art Line with Mermaids and Lady Pirates

You ever have people in your life with incredible talent that should make them rich and famous? I do. Several, and two of them a married to each other. Matt and Dawn Davidson. If creativity had weight, they’d sink the world out of orbit.

Let me prove it to you. You see, Matt has published his first book with us, Salty Sirens of the Seven Seas. It’s a coloring book for adults. You probably don’t want to use crayons for this one; colored pencils will work better.

Matt and Dawn, our other coloring book artist, are simply amazing. If they were singers they’d be Caruso, Jackson, that falsetto guy from Maroon 5… people at the top of their game. So good, you don’t know how they’d improve.

Matt toils away in a creative job and Disney and I’ve been begging him to produce, produce, produce! Finally, he has.

His theme is the seven seas, which means mermaids and historical lady pirates (who never looked that good in life).

Click to see it on Amazon!

I like to think Matt knows how good he is, but vast sales would help. Go, buy! Even if you’ve never colored before (remember to buy colored pencils and a pencil sharpener) give it a try. Or rip out the grey scale pages and hang them as is. They’re that good. Check it out!

Sifting for Motivation

If the events of the day point out one thing is that people can do the same thing for completely different reasons.

In the protests, we see people who are sincere about the pain they’ve experienced, others taking up offenses they don’t understand out of self-righteousness and cluelessness, and others with selfish ambition, political motives, nefarious purposes, and violent intent.

Motivation is vital to a writer. Why do your characters do what they do? Can people have opposite motives for doing the same thing, hoping for different outcomes?

what's my motivation - Meme by Jadensaurus :) Memedroid
Few over-eaters are motivated to get huge….

Motivation doesn’t have to be logical, but it MUST make sense to the character. You have to ask yourself how your character came to believe what they believe. Is the villain racist? Why? Examined beliefs? Scarring incidents generalized too wide? Self-loathing?

What about the hero? Why are they willing to take the blows and failures?

Every character must have motivation; not every character’s motivation must be explored. I’d suggest the main character and her major partners should be explored, and often the villain’s motives should be examined, too.

There are adventures where the bad guy is just evil. If you’re going for bubblegum fiction, this might be for you (and I’m not disparaging bubblegum fiction… it has its place.)

For enduring fiction, dig in. Our motives define who we are.

Ultimately, the antagonist, normally the villain of the story, promotes change. Their actions spur the heroes into action. Make the change more than just action; a villain can change a hero with their story. They still must be defeated, but a little understanding can change even the purest heart.

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