What Classic Writers Can Teach Us

In the rush to read the latest books, it’s always a joy to find something written decades or even a century ago by a classic writer who reveals part of their writing process along the way.

I was given the raised eyebrows when I checked out The Autobiography of Mark Twain Vol. 1 from my local library this week. To be sure, this is a door stopper if ever there was one. My original plan was to buy the book on Kindle, but the cheaper edition was only the “readers” edition, meaning that all the commentary was removed from the book, and the official edition was way too expensive for me to justify buying an eBook.

So, the library it was. Hermione would be proud.

Rather than skipping all the introduction, which is quite a few pages, I hunkered down and decided to start at the beginning.

I’m glad I did because the narrative of how Mark Twain started his autobiography was very enlightening. Not only did he struggle with how to begin, he also had many “false starts” that he deemed not worthy – though they were incredibly interesting either way.

How many times have I struggled with the simple act of beginning a piece of writing? It’s tricky and one of those stupid things that exists only in my head. Once I start, however, the writing generally flows easily – albeit with a few five minute breaks here and there, and of course, some coffee. Maybe two cups.

The point is that even a writer of classic literature had high standards for himself as an an author, and though it may not be comforting to see that even the best of us struggles with fear of beginning and fear of a passage not being good enough, we are still in good company.

I can say that while I might not make it through the entire book due to its length, I look forward to continuing my reading of this book and am glad that such attention to detail has been paid. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are two of my favorite books from childhood. Those might demand a re-read in the near future.

My Art Through The Ages

How far back did you come up with your favorite idea for a piece of art, and how long has that germ of an idea remained with you?

For me, I originally came up with Super Guy back in seventh grade. I remember it vividly. I was the child who begged for a new drawing book probably every week. My mother was no doubt sick of buying paper. But, she did give in and usually got me a portable sketch book whenever she took me to the grocery store.

I still have all of those drawing books, and in them I created my own world. It wasn’t a secret that I was bullied a lot as a child. I was scrawny, incredibly short compared to my classmates, and I was always absorbed in a book.

Originally the villain came to me first. Bill Flagrant – or the drawing that would become him, was drawn on the back side of a page in my latest drawing book. He was called “Dr. F” back then, which thankfully I abandoned later on.

If you have a villain, you need a hero to fight him. So, I came up with Super Guy.

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This picture isn’t the very first one I did of Super Guy, and his muscles are a bit DBZ, but it is one of my favorites from back then. As you can see, I kept his visor for Super Charged and Super Vision. There was also always his pulse blasts and of course the flying. I always thought that flying would be the most fun superpower to have.

I hope you get a kick out of that old drawing. Super Guy hasn’t let go of me since I drew him back in middle school, and I never would have predicted that he would be fighting the villains even today in my imagination.

Some Old Super Guy Writing

Happy New Year!

I promised to post some old writing that I did in the Super Guy universe, so I’m making good on that promise!

These pages were written back when I was in college, probably in 2007-08. I was still using my old typewriter because it felt good to hear the sounds it made. Of course, I would end up typing the pages a second time into the computer, but using that old Smith-Corona got rid of all the distractions that my laptop presented. All it could do was type, and that was just fine with me.

This chapter was from a very old draft of what was going to be the first book in the series about Shaun, back then titled The First Battle. The Vestige was called The Spirit Charm back then, and Jeff Boding was still alive.

That’s all the introduction you really need. The chapter is now a curiosity piece, and posting it here gives it a new life instead of just languishing in my filing boxes. I hope you enjoy, and look for more news regarding Super Vision very soon!

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Super Vision Moves To Proofing

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I am very excited to report that Super Vision, the second book in The Aberrant Trilogy, is finally in the proofing stage!

Some of you might be thinking, “Hey, why is that such a big deal? Don’t you do all the work yourself?” Well, yes, that’s true. Physically all I’ve done is compile my draft into an eBook for proofing on my Kindle, but it’s a milestone for me because this marks the first year in my history of indie-publishing that I managed to crack out three – yes, mark that – three books in a single calendar year.

This also marks my first true full-length sequel, not counting the in-progress sequel to The Entity, which I hope to make good on in the early new year. That one will also be full-length.

So, what does this mean for readers of Super Charged? It means that I’m getting closer to publication. I don’t have a firm date yet because I don’t want to disappoint, but once the book is given a good read-through and ironed out (typos, stupid mistakes I made with my dictation software, etc.) then I will upload the book and set it for publication.

There won’t be a massive pre-order length this time around. I tried that and, while it got some traction, I’d rather tone it down for this book.

A few tidbits for anyone waiting for Super Vision, no spoilers from me, but I can say that this book is longer than the first. I wrote the majority of it at the end of October and November, with bits of the end wrapped up this month. I think the world is opened up a lot more in this book, and there are some new faces sprinkled in with the old. I had a blast writing it, and I really hope that it lives up to the first book in quality and entertainment.

Without any more rambling, keep an eye out for more news in the coming weeks. I’ll be sending out an email blast to my list once the book is uploaded to Amazon. I might also publish some free goodies on the blog here, including some abandoned story ideas from my school days relating to Super Guy’s world. These were typed the old-fashioned way, on a typewriter! If you can believe it… I was a super nerd like that.

I hope you’re all recovering from the holidays and in good health. Until next time!

The Birch Man (Short Horror Story)

I didn’t get my horror novel out in time for Halloween, and it’s still being tinkered with. As lots of people are terrified of the snow and the slick roads in my neck of the woods today, I thought I’d post a short horror story – of sorts. (I also saw a perfect rendition of A Christmas Carol on the stage yesterday, and it got me in the mood for some ghostly tales.)

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Originally this story came to me in a flash, and was intended to be the start of something longer. But, it’s been put on the back burner. Perhaps it will turn into something down the road.

This was also an attempt to be a bit more gory than normal. If you’re squeamish – especially looking at the illustration I did above – then you might not want to read further. If you’re into that kind of stuff, then knock yourself out!

I’ll let the “legend” speak for itself…


<>The Birch Man was originally a sixty-eight year old retiree named Paul Nathanson. <>Nathanson lived on a dead-end dirt road in a rural part of New Hampshire. It was there that he preferred to live among the birch trees that he knew so well.
<>Famous for giving candy to local children, Nathanson quickly became an object of fascination for the local juveniles. Being without a family of his own, Nathanson welcomed the company of so many youngsters.
<>Sadly, his generosity was the very thing that would do him in.
<>One September afternoon, Nathanson was out walking the back roads of the town when a group of high school boys approached him. Knowing that he usually traveled with pockets full of candy, they demanded some.
<>Nathanson reached into his pockets to find that he was out, having given the rest of his stash away earlier that morning. He wouldn’t have more until he went shopping.
<>Seeing that they would be without any profit, the boys then demanded Nathanson’s cash, to which he refused.
<>The boys warned him that if he didn’t give in to their demand that he would pay dearly. <>Nathanson laughed it off and continued on with his walk.
<>Later that evening the high school boys told their parents that Nathanson had assaulted them in the woods while they were on their way home from school. The accusations were entirely false, but this didn’t stop one of the fathers from taking action of his own.
<>The father hunted down Nathanson at the man’s house that evening, equipped with a sharpened axe. He tied up the poor man and hacked both of Nathanson’s hands off so that they would never touch another child again.
<>To add insult to injury, the father went out into the front yard and cut down two medium sized birch branches that raked out like clawed hands. He returned to the house to fasten these branches to each of Nathanson’s bleeding stumps and then left him there to die.
<>After that day nobody saw Nathanson around town. Kids looked out for the kind man who gave them candy, but he was nowhere to be found. After a week some local mothers prompted the police to investigate the dead-end road. Despite finding the chair and ropes that secured Nathanson during his torturous dismemberment, Nathanson himself was nowhere within the house. He had simply vanished.
<>Many people believed that the man was the victim of a horrible murder and that his body was buried in some unmarked grave. Others thought he had simply developed dementia and wandered into the woods where he was lost to the elements. Whatever the case, the man quickly evaporated from the consciousness of the town.
<>Until the parcels started to appear.


Whaaaaat?! What happens next? That part hasn’t been written. I may tinker with it in the coming winter months, but most of my time is being focused on getting Super Vision out into the world.

I hope you enjoyed this tiny excursion, though!

NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up

This has been a whirlwind month in many ways. Not only did I try to get done all my Christmas shopping before Black Friday (I was mostly successful) I also attempted National Novel Writing Month once again.

I think I was as prepared as was possible to be. My outline should have been way more detailed than it was, but a few furiously discovered plot developments at the last minute pushed my word count past 50,000 – a day early.

It’s funny to think that thirty days to write a full novel is a huge undertaking, especially when things like the 21 Day Novel Writing Challenge exist. I have tried that one, but only finished my book in 26 days, so essentially it was a pre-NaNo challenge for me to test my limits. I do like the pace of writing a novel so quickly, especially when I get to the end and things all fall into place.

There are still some chapters of Super Vision to wrap up, but for the most part, it’s on paper minus a few battle scenes that need to be figured out. I am glad there is a bit left to do for the first draft, because there are details that I only found out at the end of my draft that need to be sprinkled through the earlier ones in order to foreshadow properly. That is the fun part of doing a project so quickly: You get to see the full scope of the plot in its entirety, and can spot problems earlier so that you aren’t too removed from your earlier chapters to see what needs to be done.

Some helpful tips for anyone trying to do NaNo in the future:

  1. Try writing two stories at once. More than a few times I found myself stuck on Super Vision, either because I ran out of creative juice, or there was a problem that needed time to simmer. I didn’t want to risk losing all those words for the day, so I started a new project that is really only for me at the moment, and only for fun. But, this allowed me to keep my word count for the day and also stretch my brain creatively in a different direction, which made room for all the Super Vision ideas to recharge…until they were Super Charged! (Sorry, I had to do it!)
  2. Pace yourself. Doing just the minimum word count per day is a sure way to fall behind on your overall count towards the end. Much like credit card debt, or loan repayments, try the snowball effect. You can get ahead by two days if you do a long writing session, then if you happen to be creatively tapped or have a commitment like Thanksgiving to attend, then taking a day off won’t kill your momentum.
  3. Do some free-writes. This allowed me to work out some character motivations that were vague in my outline, and nail them down as I got to know my characters. This is especially helpful for villains.
  4. And finally, get rid of Facebook and other forms of pesky social media! I am on my third week of no Facebook, and it has boosted my productivity immensely. Not only do I spend less time online simply scrolling through everyone’s brainwaves, but the time that I do spend online has morphed into a research phase that lets me learn new things I didn’t know before, and also gives me inspiration for my work. It’s a win-win. I will go back to Facebook eventually because I love the community of writer friends that I have there, but it has been a breath of fresh air to get the clutter of opinions and woe-be-gone status updates out of my brain.

So, there you have it. No dates for Super Vision yet, but it will be entering the edit phase and then the beta phase soon. Stay tuned for more if you are waiting to find out what’s next for Shaun and Mae. There may be some flights and fights… Just saying!