Second Star To The Right

Last Friday morning, my son came into the room with a terrible look on his face. “Mom,” he said, in that gentle way that people use when they have heartbreaking news to share, “Leonard Nimoy has passed away.”

“You know, for a long time I have been of the opinion that artists don’t necessarily know what they’re doing. You don’t necessarily know what kind of universal concept you’re tapping into.” — Leonard Nimoy

I was a child when Star Trek first ran, and didn’t really discover it until it began running in syndication a few years after its cancellation. While it was obvious that Shatner was intended to be the star, I was always more fond of Leonard Nimoy as the cerebral Mr Spock. He was almost always calm, even in the most harrying situations. He never needed to tear off his shirt to win the day, because he could […]

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I’LL SHOW YOU NOT TELLING (something I read somewheres)

So I picked up a book called THE FIRST 50 PAGES by Jeff Gerke the other day because, well, I have a book buying problem. (TBR pile is 68 at last count and I KNOW I’ve gotten a ton more books since then)

Anyways, I wanted to share some advice he gives that to me seemed pretty golden.

Here’s the sum up:

Think of your book as a movie. Telling is anything you write that THE CAMERA DOES NOT SEE.

Stop and think about it.

Let it sink in.

I know how we writers are. We feel like the reader needs to know all the back story to really understand what we are trying to write….the ins and outs of the plot, the history and texture of the worlds and characters we have created so lovingly.

It’s bullshit.

They don’t. They don’t need to know anything that doesn’t directly […]

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Giving Ourselves a Little Credit

Storm Clouds at Dusk, Crater Lake, photograph by David B. Coe

As I’ve mentioned to all of you too often, I’m an avid amateur photographer. Or not quite amateur anymore, if we use the International Olympic Committee’s definition of the word. I’ve sold a couple dozen photos out of galleries over the past few years. I’ve had a few photos published in magazines and have been paid for them. But when it comes right down to it, my photography is more hobby than profession. I’ll probably never sell a picture to the Sierra Club for one of their calendars, and I’ll never make enough as a photographer to do it full time. And that’s okay.

I take pictures because I enjoy it, but also because I like being able to look at the work I’ve done. I use my photos as desktops and screen savers for my computer, I […]

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Sharing a Dream

(Please note that once again I’ll be away from my computer and won’t be able to respond to comments. I’ll trust my fellow MWers to comment on my behalf.)

I was thinking the other day that in half my posts here at MW, I wax rhapsodic about how much I love my job and how great it is being able to make up stories for a living. And in the other half I bitch and moan about how hard writing is and what a hard, crazy way this is to make a living.

Both are true. That much should be obvious by now. I really do love what I do for a living. And it really is hard. And this business is truly screwed up. Ultimately I guess all of it goes together, congealing into this nutty thing called the Writer’s Life.

But I have to admit that at […]

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What’s Your Book About?

As I've mentioned before, I'm an avid photographer — the photos at the top of the MW home page are mine — and on occasion I have taken lessons from my experiences with photography and applied them to writing. I'd like to do that again today.

One of my favorite photographers, a guy named John Shaw, is famous in part for his wonderful books designed for beginning nature photographers, and he offers an observation that those of us who make our living with the written word should take to heart. Shaw suggests that the more effective a photograph, the easier it is describe. Here's the quote:

It takes several paragraphs to describe a bad photograph, a few sentences for a mediocre photo, one sentence for a good picture, and just a phrase for a great photograph. (John Shaw, Nature Photography Field Guide, Amphoto Books, 2000.)

Photographs, like novels, […]

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Tunnel Vision

A few years ago I took a photo of a Southern Red Trillium, a beautiful and somewhat unusual flower native to this part of Tennessee. The lighting and composition of the photo worked out perfectly — the light was bright enough to bring out the color, but not so direct as to be harsh. The background was free of distracting shapes or colors and blurred beautifully. I’ve sold framed copies of the photo, and I’ve had it published in local magazines.

The thing is, the photo was taken on my old camera. It looks fine in relatively small format, but if I were to enlarge the photo too much, the limitations of the equipment I used would become obvious. The photo would look grainy, pixilated. So in the last two years, since I bought my new camera, I’ve been trying to replicate the photo, so that I can print larger […]

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Finding Real Magic in Writing

The magic system in my first series — the LonTobyn Chronicle — had three elements: the mage, his or her familiar (usually a bird of prey), and a crystal or ceryll, as I called it, that focused the power sourced in the psychic connection between bird and mage. Each person’s crystal, and by extension, each person’s magic, had a different color. Blue, red, yellow, green, purple, silver, gold, orange; there was a ceremony each year in which all the mages of the land processed through the capital city, and I pictured it as this winding, glowing rainbow of light and birds and people in cloaks. As I wrote the three books and introduced new characters, I had to assign each one a magic color, and I have to admit that I did this pretty randomly. “Hmmmm. I’ve used shades of blue and red a lot. Better make this one pale […]

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