Freaking Earthquake!

I am in Idaho missing my beautiful and quirky Florida. Spring has been delayed and the last week it has been solid gray and cold. Ugh. Oh yeah, there is a freaking pandemic circling the planet. Idaho and all of the planet is on lock down. The President today say be prepared, the worse is coming.

Then late this afternoon Idaho has a stinking earthquake!!! The second strongest in it’s history! A 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit southern Idaho around 5:52 p.m. Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey reports. The quake, which lasted for 23.5 seconds, hit 19 miles northwest of Stanley — or about 78 miles northeast of Boise, according to USGS.

I was in my office on the computer and my wife was in the bathroom. I hear rumbling, sort of like when clothes in the dryer get out of balance only 17,333 times louder. I see the cats whiz by to hide under the bed. I go running down the hallway trying to figure out what is happening. I have absolutely no experience with earthquakes. Hurricanes yes. Lightning strikes, yes. Twisters, sort of. But earthquakes? Nope.

I see the floor and walls rolling slightly. I see books on shelves dancing and I hear what can only be described as a aching howl from the house itself.

What. The. Fuck?

In about 20 seconds it is over. My wife and I hug and laugh. Me more out of nerves than anything else.

Strangest feeling. The earth itself is not stable. Very emotionally unsettling.

So, what’s next? Locust? Zombies?

Give me a good old fashion hurricane. I know how to handle them.

Hoping for no aftershocks.

 

Chinese Bat Flu?

Would make a great name for a band, right? But probably hurtful to someone, somewhere. Maybe bats. So, let’s call it COVID-19. Or Corona-virus. Whatever.

It is March 30, 2020 and Idaho is mostly locked down.  Liquor stores, gun shops, grocery stores, Home Depot/Lowes, Walgreens, Walmart, Target, gas stations and more are open. There are probably about a hundred drive-through coffee shops in the valley, and they are open. Restaurants doing take out only.

But many people in Idaho are slow to adopt the social distancing thing the federal government is seeking.

People from other states don’t understand Idaho.

Personal responsibility and personal freedom trumps most other things here. Especially if it is the federal government issuing orders.  This feeling of personal independence runs deep in people here, except for the newcomers like myself.

Ruby Ridge was in north Idaho. That was a long time ago. But as recently as 2014 Ammon Bundy led an armed standoff against federal officials at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Ultimately arrested, a local jury set him free. People in Idaho and western Oregon cheered.

He lives in Emmett, Idaho about 30 minutes from my house.

So, distaste and distrust of the federal government, or government of any kind, runs strong in these parts. When the federal government says stay indoors, many people in Idaho ignore them.

Just saying.

I am hoping we get through this mess sooner rather than later.

 

 

 

101 Words

One of my small successes in writing was having a 101 word story published in 101words. They publish 101 word flash fiction daily.  They wanted a rewrite and I worked harder on those 101 words than any other published fiction. Which is a good thing! The story was much improved. You can read it here.

I submitted another one two days ago that I had been toying around with and finally finished. Waiting to hear back from them.

I wrote another one over the past two days. It needs to rest for a day and then I will edit it and if I think it is good enough submit that.

 

The attraction of writing micro fiction?

1. The challenge. Story must have a beginning, middle and end. The challenge is to find a story that can be told in only 101 words. So, we are not talking about War and Peace. The trick is to find a core concept or thought that is worthy enough of being called a story. But not a concept that is too small, otherwise you don’t have a story at all.

2. The word count makes me examine every single word to determine if it is required, necessary, helpful. I am surprised how many words are not necessary. This helps me learn better writing skills.

3. I can complete it over a short period of time, and that success of writing a completed story, no matter only 101 words, gives me a boost. If it gets published, a huge boost!

4. C’mon,  101 words means I have less opportunity to screw up the story!

 

 

My Top Ten Writing Distractions

1. Reading internet sites about how to write.

2. Formatting my manuscript.

3. Blogging about other things, such as photography, Boise, Florida, etc.

4. My cat Dewey. Teaching him new tricks, like sitting up and begging for treats.

5. Reading the Facebook writer’s groups

6. Searching for more online writer’s groups.

7. Reviewing the various new markets.

8. Testing out new novel writing software.

9. Contemplating attending a writer’s group or writer’s conference.

10. Writing “My Top Ten Writing Distractions

I don’t know if this is a true story or not. And sadly, I cannot recall who it pertains to, just that it was a famous author at the time. It took place probably in the 1950’s. I want to say it was Hemingway, but I can’t be certain, and Google and Bing are letting me down right now. Anyway, there was some sort of huge writer’s conference, and the auditorium was filled with writer wannabes. The keynote speaker was this great and famously successful author. The story goes that after an introduction and standing ovation, the famous author walked to the center of the stage, looked out at the hundreds of writer wannabes, and said this. “Why aren’t you home writing?” And then walked off the stage.

Whether it is a true story or not, I think there is some validity to the concept that if we all spent more time writing, we might become more successful. I’m not saying courses and workshops are not important, as obviously one needs to learn the skills necessary to write well. I am saying that today, with the internet and cheaper travel, potential writers can become overwhelmed with so many distractions. Attending local writer groups, attending workshops and conferences, participating in online writer forums to name only a few.

An excellent real life example: I sat down at my desk about 9 AM this morning. It is 1:45 PM now, and so far I have updated the WordPress themes and plugins on this very website, visited several writer forums, tested out yet another novel writing program, checked email and Facebook, wrote this blog post, made a sandwich (Roast beef, cheese, onions with loads of mayo and mustard) and sadly, I have not even loaded my novel file!

Almost five hours sitting at my desk, and guess what? Not one freaking word written on my novel.

So, my goal is to schedule time each day where I am committed to nothing, absolutely nothing but writing my novel.

Wish me luck.

Speaking of luck, I was just on google and saw that…..well, never mind. Gotta write.

Novel Writing Software

Not so long ago finding software to assist you in writing a novel was challenging. Years ago I settled on Scrivener.  At the time it was the best in my opinion, and many people still consider it an excellent option for authors. But today, (2019) there is an explosion of options for novel writers. Some of the programs download to your desktop/laptop/smartphone and others are online only. Some of them are pretty basic, and some of them are just a tad easier than designing an aircraft carrier. Many are free, donation ware or cheap, and some can cost over $100. The online versions charge you a monthly fee.

Writing a novel means keeping track of chapters and scenes, characters, locations, items, plots and subplots and a hundred other stuff. My novel is at 32,000 words, 29 chapters, and I never imagined how challenging it would be to keep track of the characters and what is going on. A novel writing program, on your desktop or online, can hep you greatly. There are drawbacks and advantages with each type:

1. Online only. Wherever you have an internet connection, you can write. These platforms, such as Novelize, keep track of your progress weekly, help with grammar and editing, and offer a host of features. But if you don’t have internet – you can’t write usually.  And some of them don’t have the full power of a desktop software. For instance, I had to change a character’s name while using one such online program, and could not do so. Unless I did it manually. This in fact, was the last straw for me which eventually drove me to Word and then LibreOffice. You can rename people easily through the find and replace function.

2. Desktop/laptop/smartphone versions: Three types here:

a. Vastly complicated
b.  Complicated.
c. Somewhat complicated

Notice there are no “easy” ones. You do have to learn the system and set up your novel properly from the get go, and maintain it. And that can take time. Personal comment: If you spend all your time learning the program, setting it up correctly and maintaining it, when will you actually write your novel?!

I used Scrivener for some time, and later Novelize. Then YWriter, which I really liked. I also tried several others. Today? I use LibreOffice. I have chapters and characters setup, locations and so forth using the Navigation panel. It doesn’t warn me when I am not writing enough, it doesn’t beep at me or offer encouragement or any of the other bells and whistles. But it is free, and I write easily anywhere. I save a copy to my local drive and One-drive, so with or without the internet, I can write. And it is free too, another benefit. I will write a post one day explaining how I set Libreoffice up to be my novel writing software.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for novel writing software, here is a list of most of them. If you google the topic you will find reviews and ratings too.

Novel Writing Software

Bibisco
Dramatica Pro
Free Writer
Liquid Story Binder XE
Manuskript
Mariner Software
New Novelist
The Novel Factory
Novelize
Novlr
Plume Creator
Power Structure
QuollWriter
Scrivener
Storyist
WriteItNow5
Writers Block
Ywriter 6

I am sure there are dozens more, but these are the ones that I have personally installed and tried, at lease once anyway. Yeah, I should have spend more time actually writing my novel! LOL

Chapters

One reason for this blog is to teach myself components of writing. Like what the heck actually are chapters, and how should they work?

The issue of exactly how to use a chapter has haunted me for years like a deranged yapping poodle.  Chapter One is easy. But when do I break for Chapter Two? Does the break have to be at a specific location in the story? What exactly is a chapter when you come down to it?

Chapters serve several purposes.  When there is some transition in the story, such as a change in location, point of view, a chapter break sits well.  Sort of like the old saying, “Meanwhile, back at the ranch”. If your chapter takes place on the prairie with cowboys and then the story shifts back to the dining room of the ranch, it might be a good place for a chapter break. So, any type of shift in the story; time, place or narrator even works.

But you can do more with chapters to improve your overall novel. Increase the narrative tension, for instance. A chapter can end upon a major revelation, a dramatic development or some danger. This may compel your reader to keep turning the pages. Not every chapter needs to rise to a concluding tension point, but a novel without any tension could be boring.  So, when your prime character is kissing this beautiful woman when he suddenly discovers she is his wife’s sister, that can reveal information and increase tension.  It’s a little pop along the storyline.

Few people read a novel in one sitting without taking at least a bathroom break. So, sort of like the television commercial breaks, chapter breaks are a nice resting place for a reader. Some scene or situation is resolved and the reader can put the book down to pick it up later at a new chapter.

Below are some links about chapters I found useful.

Now Novel

Magical Words

Novel Writing Help