Wake up time.

The other day, my wife and I were having a spiritual discussion, about our roles in God’s plan, and what we’re supposed to do. She asked me a zinger of a question that I have had trouble answering. “Do I want to be known as a good person, or do I want to be known as a published author?”

Personally, I’d prefer to be both. But I’m not sure if that’s possible. If I was a famous author, with a book deal and bringing in enough money to support the lifestyle I’d like to have (which would probably include living in a castle in the middle of a dense forest), would I still be a good person? I know some people have been able to do it, but perhaps I don’t have the moral fortitude to be as good as them.

In a later conversation, my wife told me why November seems to be such a rough month for her / us. It’s because of my dedication to writing, and National Novel Writing Month. I get so caught up in my writing that, apparently, I become extremely scatterbrained and neglectful of my family. Now, what if I had the dedication to my writing that I was like that twelve months of the year? Would I still be a decent husband and father if I did pursue my goal of becoming an author?

The thing is, it’s always been my lifelong dream to be a professional writer. In fact, I gave up a decent paying, full-time job to try and pursue my dream. I figured that if I didn’t do it now, it’s never going to happen. I’m in my 40s, for goodness sake. Many successful authors have had three or four – or more – novels published by this time.

But if it means giving up my family for the sake of my dream? Is that really worth the cost? It was a tough question for me, but I think I finally decided on an answer. It’s a truth that I’ve had trouble accepting, but I’ve come to the realization that I’ve simply been denying it. It’s time to accept the truth, and move on.

Dreams are stupid. They only come true if you’re amazingly lucky, or incredibly blessed. For the rest of us, the best we can do is find a full time job that doesn’t make you want to kill yourself every day.

Or, in the words of Kenny Rogers, “the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.”

So this year will probably be my last National Novel Writing Month. I’ve got six novels in various states (most completed and in “first draft” mode), including the one I’ve almost finished this year. But what’s the point of writing these if I’m never going to accomplish anything with them?

I’m still hoping to post this latest one online though, a chapter at a time. I’m thinking that it will be through Wattpad, mainly because Jukepop seemed to have a strong, anti-Christian vibe when I perused that site. Given that this year’s novel is firmly planted in the “Christian Fiction” genre, it probably wouldn’t get listed there.

If I get enough of a following, perhaps I’ll release my other books on Wattpad, a chapter at a time, just so people can read them. It might even give me the incentive to finish writing a couple of these novels, too. Just to get them out there, so someone can read them. That way they won’t simply die with me.

I’m still going to write game reviews for Christ Centered Gamer, the occasional short story, and this blog. But I’ve given up on trying to be a successful author. It’s just not my fate, it seems. At this point in my life, I’d be content to settle for mediocrity. I need to focus more on my family, and my relationship with God.

My dreams aren’t important any more. They’ve become pointless. It’s time to wake up to reality.

Another one bites the dust!

I just passed the 50,000 word mark a few minutes ago. Another National Novel Writing Month win under my belt. Hooray! And amusingly enough, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” was playing on my iTunes as I wrote word 50,001. Hence the Queen-inspired blog title.

But I’m not done with this one yet. I just finished chapter 39, and I wanted to have about 52 chapters done before the end of November. I don’t know if I’ll be able to hit that particular goal, but I should be close. At least to chapter 45.

Then it’ll be time to figure out how to give this novel away.

Yep, I worked hard on writing this piece, and now I’m going to make it free for everyone! What I want to do is find a place where I can post serials. Like Jukepop or a similar site. I’ll have to do more research and see what I can find.

Then I’ll post one chapter a week and see if I can get more people interested in my fiction. (Yes, that was the reason I chose to have the goal of 52 chapters – clever, I know.) I’ll let you know what happens on that front.

And now that I have that 50,000 word goal behind me, I’m hoping to update my sadly neglected blog more, too. More news from Idaho, more tips on writing, and more on what’s to come.

Let’s discover the future together!

Whoah, we’re halfway there….

I just passed the 25,000 word mark for National Novel Writing Month, and am still progressing like a steam train! Woo woo! I’ve been trying to get at least two chapters a day written, and so far I’ve stayed on track. It’s the 10th of November, and I’m about halfway through Chapter 20. If I keep this up, I should have 60 chapters by the end of the month, and will have easily hit the 50,000 word mark.

Since I’m planning on releasing this novel, one chapter a week, that will give me plenty to work with. How exciting!

But in addition to reporting my progress so far, I wanted to point out a useful tool. I’m sure that many experienced writers have already used this, but for other amateurs, hobbyists and enthusiasts, this might be a fun trick to know about.

I decided to use actual locations in this part of the novel, and I’m having my protagonists visit relatives in Independence, Kansas. This is a location that’s practically in the middle of the country, and it’s a fairly small town. So it seems like it would be the perfect setting for this part of the novel.

However, I’ve never been to Independence. I’ve never even set foot in Kansas. For goodness sake, I’ve never been farther east than Yellowstone National Park. How in the world am I going to write about a location that I’ve never visited, let alone seen?

Welcome to the world of the Internet. With access to the Web, I can go pretty much anywhere I want. And with tools like Google Maps, I can use its 3D view to walk along its streets like I was actually there. I can see the individual houses, tell how far they are from restaurants and grocery stores, and even how many trees are along the streets. Using the information from Wikipedia, I can even give rough guesses about what the weather is going to be like at certain times of the year.

These are tools that authors didn’t have in the past. They would have to rely on their own memories and notes, as they visited the actual locations as part of their research into their novels. There is something to be said about visiting the actual locations, though. For example, I can’t tell what the traffic noise is like in a specific neighborhood, or how the streets smell when the wind blows from the direction of the bakery.

Or the sewage treatment plant. Maybe Smell-O-Vision isn’t such a good idea.

But programs like Google Earth are an invaluable tool to use. It’s important for authors to use these kinds of tools to bring in added realism to their stories. And sometimes it’s fun to look up these sorts of random facts, too. For instance, during the course of this novel, I had to look on Volkswagen’s Web site to make sure that the Golf comes in red.

It’s “Tornado Red,” to be precise. Huh. Didn’t know tornados came in red.

There’s a whole toolbox to be found on the Internet. Don’t forget to use it! And keep on writing!

National Novel Writing Month is under way!

It’s Day 2 of NaNoWriMo, and I just passed the 5,000 word mark. How are you doing so far?

If you haven’t started yet, don’t fret – it’s not too late! To hit that 50,000 word mark, you need to write 1,667 words per day. So you only need to write 3,334 words to be on par right now. That’s only about four pages.

You don’t know what to write about? My daughter was wondering about that, too. She was brainstorming ideas earlier today, and while we were driving to an event at church, she ran down her list. She had written seven or eight down, but there were three that really struck her as interesting.

“OK,” I said. “How many ideas do you have fleshed out so far?”

“None of them,” she admitted. “They’re just the initial ideas.”

“Let’s start with the first one,” I suggested. “A scientist discovers a relic that leads to an ancient civilization. Here’s the question – what’s the relic?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, let’s brainstorm that one. Could it be a snow globe, or a key? Maybe a medallion? Or a helmet?”

I proceeded to give ideas about each of these items and how they could each be used to take the concept of “relic leads to another civilization” in completely different ways. We even discussed the possibility of taking two of her ideas and combining them into one story. I think it got her imagination kick-started.

Sometimes the biggest challenge isn’t trying to come up with an idea as to what to write about. Sometimes the challenge is narrowing down your options to one.

So what are you waiting for? If you don’t have an idea yet, start writing down ideas. They don’t have to be full-fledged chapters, or even paragraphs. A sentence or two will suffice. Then examine that sentence and see what ideas it inspires.

Then, just start writing! It’ll be fun to see where it takes you!