Friday, December 18, 2009

Dead Man Writing

I’ve had a few close calls in my life, brushes with death if you will. All of these have happy endings, none of these left me with more than a few scuffs, bruises or in some cases a bit of lost skin or scratched bike or car paint. I’m sure you can say the same, being one hanging out with the living. These are dangerous times in a dangerous world after all. Here are a few of my close calls:

· Trout-fishing, the time the farmer’s prize bull was in the pasture with no fence between him and my fishing buddies and me. (Saved by the bull never actually choosing to charge us, just bawl and stomp as it followed us out of the pasture.)

· Just about run over by a very old, very large car in the alley behind the public library and the Jr. High (Saved by the catlike reflexes of the gray-haired woman peeking over the steering wheel. This was witnessed by an entire math class and resulted in a new school rule against this particular shortcut.)

· Opportunities to drown; Flooded Mississippi river during the mayfly hatch with a crumbling bank that left me neck deep in the swirling current; an exhausting swim with an injured arm in a tranquil gravel pit. (Saved by swimming lessons and my refusal to panic)

· Adventures in youthful ignorance combined with alcohol and a car that felt really good going 100mph on dark river roads. (Saved by? The grace of God? Bacchus? ?)

· Near-collision with a house-sized, orange, industrial dump truck, hauling ass out of a ditch in reverse, almost over the top of my Chevy Berretta. (Saved by my willingness to swerve into the lane of oncoming traffic rather than be flattened by the giant truck).

· Shooting range accident with a .44 caliber bullet fragment hitting me in the face (Per the doctor digging in my face at the time: saved by my steely chin vs. being hit an inch or two higher or lower in something softer and more bleedy.)

· A collapsing 35W bridge. Saved by my choice of the slow route heading to my class at the U of M that night. I ended up arriving in the area about 10 minutes after the bridge had fallen, one bridge over. I have no proof I would have ended up on the bridge had I taken 35W that night, but it would have been a close one.

There are many more incidents I could add to this list and probably many more that have happened I’m not even aware of where bad outcomes including death were a possibility. Didn’t I tell you it’s dangerous out there? As far as “Saved by” I could have also said in all these cases, “good luck, good timing, fate/destiny and/or guardian angel(s)” as the reason why I walked away and continued on living instead of the alternative. And hey, if I get to stay in the land of the living for a while longer, any of the above are good enough explanations for me.

This year the week of Thanksgiving I had my latest near death experience. Now, don’t get me wrong, this WASN’T one of those exciting near death experiences where I was clinically dead for a half hour, saw a tunnel of white light and my dear departed relatives beaconing to me, or fiery angels hovering over my hospital bed, no, none of that—this was routine surgery here in 2009 America (about 5% of us will have this surgery sometimes in our life; about 99.6% will survive it). My appendix in an enflamed fit of rage had decided to go bad and had to come out. Again, only a close call, a minor brush with death. As I was in the excellent care of a surgeon who I had been told had literally done over a thousand operations like mine, maybe this operation wasn’t even that—really nothing more dangerous than a drive on Interstate 494 during one of our Minnesota blizzards?

Yet—when I asked the kind resident prepping me for the operating room, “What are my other options besides surgery?” She replied as nicely as she could (and my recollection may be clouded by the morphine I was on at the time), “None. Left alone your appendix will probably rupture spilling infection and the contents of your digestive system into your abdomen resulting in eventual death.” Hey, I asked. As I was not in favor of the side effect, death, I signed the consent form for the surgery (which did listed DEATH as a possible side effect) and was wheeled off into the operating room. So I was never really close to death, was I? Yet, I have approximately 3 hours of missing time, under anesthesia with a breathing tube down my throat, where my body was not truly breathing only on it’s own. Not breathing for 3 hours could be construed by some people as death.

But everything worked out great, and I have no complaints about my experience. I was released from the hospital on happy pills (sleepy pills, really) the same day I was operated on. I had lunch that same day, I returned to work with a minor pain in my side one week later. All in all, I am quite pleased; dead man writing.

So that’s really my point here. I feel once again I’ve walked away from a close call and get to keep on doing what I like to do: living. I’m trying not to be too melodramatic here, but rather than dying of a burst appendix or a bad reaction to the anesthesia or a flubbed operation or…. I’m still walking, breathing, living, spending time with my friends and family, and writing. Yes. Writing. For a writer that is a big deal. After death I’ve heard you put out fewer pages. After death my 80%+ finished book would stay that way.

My favorite author Ray Bradbury has said, (and once again I’m paraphrasing, although this time, no morphine) that “time is the writer’s enemy” that “every book completed, every story finished is a way in which the writer can thumb his/her nose at death.” Sounds good to me. You’ll have to excuse me now. I’ve got a book to finish.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Digital Rights Throw Down

Looks like the inevitable digital rights clash between authors and publishers is unfolding before our eyes.

Things started to windup on Dec 9 when a couple of different publishing houses announced they were going to withhold publishing e-books until several months after the hardcover version had been released.

A few days ago, Stephen R. Covey said see ya to his longtime publisher Simon & Schuster and let the world know that he would had signed a three-year deal to move all of his e-book rights to Rosetta/Amazon.

Then Random House has declared they own the digital rights for all old contracts that do not specifically mention digital rights.  Sounds fishy?  This guy thinks so.

You can find an overview of the broader issues here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

In Praise of Time

"The people in this book might be going to have lived a long, long time from now..."

So starts Ursula K. Le Guin's Always Coming Home, a novel written as though it were a text created within a new discipline: an archaeology of the future. It includes the record of the poetry, stories, lives, mythology, philosophy, religion...of a peoples who are not yet living. The 525 page novel also includes maps, over 100 pages of glossary and index materials, and, in a box set, even a cassette recording of the music and poetry of the Kesh.

A critique session or two ago, Claudia mentioned that she couldn't figure out the correct verb tense to use for a particular spot in her novel, because her main characters are time travelers. (They are also interesting, stubborn, hilarious, and sexy; you will want to get to know them, trust me.) Anyway, when I picked up Always Coming Home from the library shelves and, on reading the first line, put it immediately in my pile to check out.

They might be going to have lived a long, long time from now.

Oh yeah. It sounds a bit off. It stops your brain from continuing on the paths that it wants to go along. It catches you up. And suddenly you are thinking. About time and reality and how you fit in, and then you're just loving Ursula for what she's done to you.

Soon after I started reading the novel, a student in one of the philosophy classes I teach said, and I quote, "If I have to think about time travel right now, I think my head is going to explode."

Which I loved, because that's my job: getting students' heads to explode. Getting my own head to explode. I speak figuratively, of course.

At core, philosophy should be getting our brains to wake up from the ruts they so easily get stuck in and start seeing ourselves, other folk, and world (aka: Life, The Universe, and Everything) in new and startling ways.

And thinking about the mechanics and paradoxes of time travel is a lovely way to make your brain swivel inside your skull.

In my novel, which also includes some time travel, I'm attempting to uncover non-human understandings of time. How would Beryl (a bear disguised in human skin) understand time? How would a tree?

Thinking back on my years in philosophy, I can see the history that has led me to become the writer I am:

In an African philosophy course I took as an undergraduate, I learned that not everyone thinks of time linearly: my instructor, Ifeanye Menkiti, talked about how time in some African understandings includes a distant past, a present, and a near future, but no far future, instead the line of time bends backward from the present/near future toward the past, rather than continuing on indefinitely into the future.

In my dissertation I examined the work of James Hamill, who studied Navajo logic and some of the ways their system of reasoning differs from Western/European systems, precisely because they have a circular sense of time, while ours is linear. Which again, in my very limited understanding, might imply that there is no far future, the present always circling back to the past, the past circling back toward the future/present.

I'm currently teaching Simone de Beauvoir in my ethics class. Beauvoir is very suspicious of too tightly holding onto a project. We act unethically if we hold on so tightly that we are looking only at the far future of the project's realization, concentrating so hard on that end, an end so distant from ourselves, that the present means nothing, that the means we use to get to that end are completely subordinated to that end, that we do whatever it takes, sacrifice whomever it takes to get to the end. Instead she suggests that we concentrate on the near future.

How cool is all that? Pretty cool if you're a sci-fi loving, philosophy geek.

In my novel, I've taken what I've encountered in philosophy about time, and used it to figure out how time might be understood by the more-than-human world. Especially the spiders. They've just got to have a super-freaky understanding of time. My bet is that of all of us they're the ones who see time most clearly of all, what with all the eyes and the spinning.

But like Claudia, I have to think hard about how to communicate other species' understandings of time in a human language. In a critique session that is coming soon to a cafe near you, I'll find out how well The Sclibblerati think I've done with capturing the spiders... But as a preview it goes something like this:

I'll end as I started. I end as I start. I will end as I will start. I will have ended as I did once start. I would have started as I will be going to end.

No seriously, I really mean it. I'll end as I started: with a little Le Guin Wisdom:

"What was and what may be lie, like children whose faces we cannot see, in the arms of silence. All we ever have is here, now."

Friday, December 4, 2009

How do you find your muse? (TMI)

How do you find your muse?

I think that's a question that plagues all artists. I think it's a safe bet to say that we all would like to be able to instantly tap into that creative center that drives our best work.  But, as we all well know, that doesn't usually happen.

In an effort to find Lady Muse, we end up doing all sorts of crazy things. We develop routines in the hope that repetition will entice her. We play tricks on ourselves. We pull out that one song that worked last time. We read something inspiring. 

And we hope that Lady Muse shows up.

So what do you do when she doesn't? Do you grind it out? Do you get frustrated and walk away?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, look no further. I'm here to tell you that I have found the magic formula for unlocking Lady Muse.

Now, if I were smart, I would hold on to this secret and use it to my advantage.  If I were smart, Lady Muse and I could go all the way to the big time. I could finish my never ending first novel, dive into the sequels, find myself on Oprah, host Iron Chef, and wind up the celebrity guest at a formal White House dinner.  (Yes, you are cute, Sasha.)

But I'm not smart. Well, I'm kinda smart, but mostly I'm just a Midwestern guy who’s too nice for his own good.

Yeah, I can hear your hearts pounding with anticipation. But I won't make you wait anymore. Here goes. My secret formula for unlocking Lady muse.

Step one: bang your head against your desk
Step two: walk away
Step three: repeat step one
Step four: eat, drink, be merry
And the magic ingredient: take a shower

A shower?

Yep, I'm serious folks. I don't know what it is about a shower, but Lady Muse sure does like it. And I know that's the magic ingredient because I've tried all the others by themselves and they don't work. For instance, I can't just walk away and come back, because I've tried that doesn’t do it. And it isn't the food or the drink because I really can't write well after an evening of debauchery. But the shower on top of all the rest? That's the ticket.

But here's what's weird. I can't just get in the shower, rinse off, and call it a day. No, the room has to be hot, and the hot water’s gotta be flowing, and – wait for it – I have to be washing my hair.  Yes, it seems that Lady Muse loves her some shampoo and I don't have the faintest idea why. Maybe she's a big Aveda fan. Or maybe, maybe she just likes those hot suds running down my neck and - TMI!

Whatever the reason, I'm just glad that I found the key to unlock Lady Muse because let me tell you, I come up with the coolest things when I'm washing my hair.

Friday, November 27, 2009

In Praise of Big Noses

Like many people who watched Project Runway this season (SPOILER ALERT), I was not a fan of Irina, and not just because she was “Meana Irina,” constantly tearing down other people in order to make herself feel superior.

It was her nose. Or rather, her lack-of-nose.

All three finalists have been touted as pretty, and I guess they all are (I’m a Carol Hannah girl myself), but from the first moment I looked at Ms. Shabayeva, I realized I didn’t like looking at her. Everything about her face screams, “Pair me with a big, beautiful honker!” (like the right purse for a dress) but, alas, she has a straight, flat nose that looks oddly, well, truncated.

Two things convinced me that I was probably right in assuming that somewhere along the line Irina's had a bout with rhinoplasty – One, unlike the other contestants, the only childhood picture they showed of her was a baby portrait – no tweener or teenage years. (Hiding some dark, big, hooked, bumpy secret, maybe?) Two, when Tim Gunn visited her family, all of the Shabayeva women, to a one, sisters and mother, had big, glorious, Republic-of-Georgia beaks. I fully admit that I could be wrong about Irina: she could have been born with that shaved-off nose, and more’s the pity.

You see: If you haven’t already guessed, I love me a big nose, on a woman or a man. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t adore a healthy schnozzle.

I blame it on Barry Manilow. Sure, he’s a fright now (speaking of ill-advised plastic surgery), but back when I was a kid, maybe 6 years old, before I even understood what a crush was, I used to love his music, and I used to stare at his album cover, enraptured. Ah, his big, hooded, blue-green eyes, his sun-limned feathered coif, his orange-yellow tan, and most of all, his freaking enormous sniffer.

So, the King of the Copacabana imprinted his big snoot on my young, impressionable psyche, and I have been a slave to the outsized blower ever since. (And yes, I’m starting to run out of euphemisms for noses.)

The list of my celebrity crushes ever since reads like a parade of Cyranos. Owen Wilson. Jackie Chan. Jeremy Northam. David Tennant. Even my girly crushes: Paget Brewster. Claudia Black. Granted, all these folks are darned talented as well. Correlation? You be the judge.

I especially adore and admire female celebrities who haven’t opted to shorten, straighten, smooth, or narrow their lovely noses. It’s a bold choice, considering Hollywood’s preoccupation with pert proboscises. Some of them I’m sure had little choice, having been in the public eye since they were children: and thank goodness. Sarah Jessica Parker leaps to mind. Otherwise, they would be forced to let the world in on their nips-n-tucks, like Jennifer Grey, Ashley Simpson or Kathy Griffin (better noses before, all of 'em).

I, alas, do not have a big nose. My friends who do will no doubt roll their eyes at this posting, and exclaim that I don’t know what it’s like, and they’d be right. Although many of us as children suffered some perceived irregularity that garnered unwanted attention from our peers; I never had to endure nose-related playground monologues from tiny, ersatz Jose Ferrers.

But I’m envious. Those in possession of grand snoots precede themselves into a room. A large nose is lovely; it gives a face strength and character.

I even married a man with a big nose. Granted, his Bunyanesque (his word) head somewhat mitigates the fact, but still, it is unquestionably considerable. His nickname as a child was, in fact, “Nose.” Not particularly original, but to the point.

So to speak.

Monday, November 23, 2009


So I got in a car accident today.  My first one in over 15 years.  I couldn’t possibly have been going over 5 MPH at the time so, obviously, it was a pretty minor thing in the grand scheme of life. And everyone’s ok, so happy ending and all that.

Even so, it was a bizzaro experience. 

I was at the Subway near my work, parked, and backing out of my stall.  Now, I spend a lot of time in and around the strip mall where this Subway is so I’m well aware that this place is like the Bermuda Triangle of Traffic. Strange Things always happen to me there and I know to take it easy. So, I’m backing out. I’m looking right. I’m looking left. Right. Left – and I got a funny feeling – so left again.


On the right, of course.

I’m not entirely sure what happened. Did I just miss him? Was he going too fast? I don’t know.  Anyway…



I pull back into the stall and get out of my car. The car that hit me/I hit/whatever pulls in front of Subway. The Kid gets out. I mean, he can’t be more than 20, if that. His eyes are like saucers.

I say to him, “Are you OK?”

He nods.

[Enter stage left: The Woman]

“I saw it!” The Woman yells.  The Kid and I both turn to look at her.  “I saw the whole thing.” The Woman points at me.  “He wasn’t even looking and he backed right into you. It’s his fault!”

To which I reply, “How the hell would you know that?”

“Cuz I was standing right there you Sonofabitch!  I’m 57 years old you Goddamn Asshole!  Don’t you tell me-”

And I proceeded to zone out The Woman, thinking: 1) This woman is crazy, and 2) DO NOT ENGAGE!

So I look at The Kid and say, “Do you have insurance?” The kid nods and we proceed to ignore The Woman and exchange insurance information the way any normal, reasonable, responsible, 21st century aware person would: by taking pictures of our insurance cards with our cell phones.

But let me tell you, we were an island of calm in a sea of crazy.  The Woman did not stop talking.  It was filthy.  Crazy. Unhinged.  I mean, The Woman was probably the age of me and The Kid combined and she’s carrying on about what a [REDACTED] I am while The Kid and I are doing our best to ignore her.


So what (as my dad would say) ‘in the Sam Hell’ does any of this have to do with writing?

Looking back on it, I can see that the whole experience was a fascinating study in character.

When I put my characters in various situations, I naturally find myself thinking about how they would react to that situation. I base those reactions on their who they are, past experience, environment, etc. Typically, and maybe this is just because I'm still a noob, I tend to make those reactions rational.

A + B = C. 


Apparently not.

What is it that causes a person to react to a relatively benign situation in such a bizarre way? Maybe it's still A + B = C.  I mean, maybe there is a perfectly valid reason, a particular experience in a person's life that causes them to react in a manner that doesn't make sense to the rest of us.

Then again, maybe not. Maybe it’s just random chaos injecting itself into the situation.

A + B = G, where G = Good Lord what is this all about and how did it just happen?

Maybe, as a writer, I should try to get out of my head every once in a while and let chaos inject itself into my writing. Clearly, I need to be careful with that sort of thing. I mean, I can't let a meteor fall out of the sky and kill one of my main characters, but at the same time, unexpected events can be the breath of life, whether that's in my novel, or in our everyday drama.

And there's one other thing about unexpected events that I should tell you.  They make good blog posts.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What’s Your Book About?

I get this question a lot lately, and I see it as a good sign: people (at least those I know) are interested. I think people ask mostly because I’ve been working on BLACKHEART for years and secondly because I make no effort to keep it a secret that I spend a lot of my free time writing. It gives me great pleasure when I go to a party and someone comes up to me and identifies me not by my techie day job (which is a fine thing in itself) but by my love and passion, “Oh, you’re the WRITER.” Why, yes, yes I am.

But answering, “What’s your book about?” Is still a tough one for me. In the early stages, before they are fully formed, to me rough drafts are a bit like unborn children. They are meant to be handled gently, not shaken, tossed around and certainly are not meant to be subjected to close public scrutiny before they’ve had a chance to form into the complete book they are meant to be.

But, my book is now long past that point….

The other reason that I, the author, hesitate to answer this question is that I know every intimate detail of every known plot element and twist in my book. I also know all the back story of all my characters—even the tons of stuff that will never, ever, ever make it into the book—but I needed to put down somewhere to figure it all out. So when asked the question, “What’s your book about?” I worry: Am I telling you too much? Not enough? Am I giving the ending away? Am I telling the best bits and leaving you with no reason to read it? It seems a delicate balance to achieve, especially if the person asking is a prospective agent or editor (and I have had the opportunity to sit down at the table with a couple–and hope to do so again now that my manuscript is 3 full revisions down the path to being a real, whole book).

But I’m stalling…

So what’s my book about? Thank you for asking! Here is my 25-word answer:


Sent by an angel a suicidal private investigator tries to stop Blackheart—a vengeful immortal warring with demons—from finding an extraordinary child in Minneapolis.

There you have it. Hope you'll stay tuned to find out more.

So why in only 25 words?

It’s a technique I’m trying to perfect. I had the pleasure of hearing John Saul ( speak at the 2007 Maui Writer’s conference. (Like writing, like Hawaii? Have money to spare? Go! Go! Go!) There he talked about how he develops his story ideas into novels using short “What if….” concept statements. The goal using this method is to explain your book as completely as possible reflecting the inner and outer story (and your “hook”) in 25 words or less. Ideally, if you can do this before you begin your book you can use it as a guide for getting things started and keeping it on track. Once your book is done and you are trying to “pitch” it, you can use this short sentence as an “elevator speech” to help sell your book. I like the idea. Guess I’ll find out how well it works for me.

What’s my NEXT book about??

Well, I have over 100 pages of a first draft for book 2, most of which was written in 2008 during November, yes, during “write a novel in a month-month.” I’ve decided I really need to wrap up my first book, BLACKHEART, before I will go full bore at this project. In the meantime I write down snippets and ideas and relevant character scenes as they occur to me. But per my explanation above, this baby is way, way, way too underdeveloped, just a little fetus of a bookling for me to tell you anymore about it right now.

I’m still finding out myself.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gratuitous Blog/Gratuitous Hero Worship Post

OK. So my blog at the end of this week will be about my writing. But—I’ve been a fan of Stephen King for years and years and tonight I finally got a chance to see and hear him in person at the Fitzgerald Theatre in St. Paul, MN along with Audrey Niffenegger (author of The Time Traveler’s Wife). If this isn’t a perfect excuse for a gratuitous hero-worship blog post I don’t know what is. Here goes—

Twenty Stephen King Observations 11/18/09

20. His first computer was a Mac (hey, mine too)

19. He uses Google, although it distracts him from his writing at times

18. He knows how to make funny faces while being interviewed. He’s not afraid to say when he’s goofed something up.

17. He is incredibly well read. He’s got a great vocabulary. He knows his poetry and music lyrics. (All things us writer types should aspire to.)

16. He likes to listen to AC/DC, Metallica and the like while doing his revisions (me, too, sometimes.)

15. He talks fondly of his wife “Tabby” and his kids and wasn’t afraid to share some personal details of his life.

14. His least favorite of his books is Rose Madder

13. His favorite movie adaptation of one of his stories/books is Shawshank Redemption. He also likes the film adaptation of Cujo.

12. His favorite book? Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

11. He thinks of writing as a kind of telepathy, although it is imperfect. The writer’s thoughts get picked up by the reader across time and distance. He noted that even though Dickens is dead you can still pick up one of his books and have a connection to that author.

10. He was never frightened by clowns, but he noticed other good little kids were. He never thought of himself as a good kid.

9. While answering audience questions he noted that if the upper balcony collapsed many, many people in the 99-year-old theatre would die. He said he would never sit up there.

8. He came out on stage in jeans and comfy looking Velcro tennies. His manner was pleasant—he seems like the type of guy you’d like to sit down and have a beer with. The audience loved him—and he knows how to make people laugh.

7. His idea for his latest book, Under the Dome started 30+ years ago. This gives me hope that the lengthy duration of time I’m spending on my book may not be in vain. (I also lucked out and got an autographed copy of the same—can’t wait to start it. May take me a while, at over 1,000 pages.)

6. His toughest character to write? “It” (Pennywise the clown) from It.

5. He writes every day. He writes from beginning to end of his stories, but it doesn't sound like he necessarily knows how they will end when he begins.

4. He has an appreciation for the old black and white movie Frankenstein.

3. He does not bother to keep a notebook of ideas. Good ideas stick with you, bad ideas (if you are lucky) go away and self-destruct on their own.

2. He believes writing is about language, and it’s a writer’s duty to be as specific as possible so that the reader sees exactly what you (the writer) intend them to see.

1. He has now written 51 books, including many of my favorites: The Stand, ‘Salem’s Lot, It, The Dead Zone, The Dark Half, Firestarter (and the list goes on and on.)

Sidenote: Now don’t get me wrong, I liked hearing Audrey Niffenegger tonight, and I enjoyed her first book (she writes beautifully), and I plan to read her next, but—I couldn’t bring myself to comment much on seeing her this evening. Even she noted during their onstage interview that appearing with King was a bit like the writing equivalent of “opening for the Stones.”

Friday, November 13, 2009

Back in the saddle again

As many of you will most likely recall from my last post, I am currently in the middle of the Query process for my manuscript Gunslingers of the Apocalypse, and while it is going pretty well for me at the moment (fingers crossed), it is a process that, once started, pretty much runs on its own. So that means that my day to day involvement is: Not-a-whole-lotta. This is an upside, for the most part, as it allows me ample free time... The downside, of course, is that allows me AMPLE free time.

With nothing to do, it’s important to try to keep busy.

In effort to do so, I’ve been working on Book numero dous, dig? Bastard out of Minnesota, it’s called, and it is the second in what will hopefully some day be a wildly successful four book series. Unfortunately, currently, by “working” I actually mean only getting two things done: Jack and Shit.

And apparently Jack has left town.

“So, what’s the problem, my man?” you’re probably asking, you jive-turkey.

Well, the main difficulty I’ve encountered is that after what has to have been at least a year, if not more, of pretty much only doing edits and rewrites, re-igniting the spark of everyday, nose to the grindstone type writing is somewhat difficult. I mean, I can still do it when I sit down, and the pages I’ve ended up hammering out recently (around 70-ish so far with a total count of about 20,000 some odd words) are ones that I’m generally pretty happy with, but that old consistent dedication?


Yes, work and life can get in the way occasionally, but whatever, that’s normal, a truism for everyone. I can deal with that. In fact, I still live a lifestyle where I can make time for writing, if I have to, but honestly, it’s not really too big of a problem. Even with the daily demands on my time that the cubicle-prison imposes upon me, regular writing time is still available pretty much on a regular basis, and without much effort on my part either.

But getting started again? After a day or two of inactivity? Getting back into the chair, and even more so, getting back into that frame of mind? Then slogging it out through the roughest, swampiest first drafts of linking scenes set midway through an introductory chapter? That is hard, hard work, peeps. Pounding it out at the keyboard, rain or shine, day in and day out… it is not such an easy thing to fall back into.

I used to have that discipline, you know.

In fact, I had it in spades, I remember it and the late night writing sessions very well. I was a monster then, a page pounding machine hell-bent on decimating my manuscript’s incomplete status… but after wandering a bit far afield for awhile, I have now returned home to begin the process anew and… where has it gone?

Maybe it’s just a case similar to when you return to a work-out schedule after a long time off. Certain muscles won’t be as tight they used to be, or as used to being utilized at all, for that matter, and it takes a little bit of time and dedication to get them pumping at a good pace again, right?

Or maybe, this is just a reflection of the first book and the inherent differences in their creation process…

Gunslingers of the Apocalypse was created in a vacuum, you see. In a time when I was ultra-poor and therefore home-bound, it was just me, a kitchen table, a possibly stolen laptop, and a writing exercise for David Housewright’s Loft class that was tackled the night before it was due, after a particularly depressing late-winter bus ride. The book grew out of that four page blurt of writing. The ending formed once I started to think about the beginning, and the middle just kind of appeared like a natural bridge between the two. But the project itself wasn’t even a real project, not until 3 or 4 chapters in, at the earliest, and it certainly wasn’t seen by any eyes other than mine until the completion of the First Act, some 200 pages into it and several months later, give or take.

But Bastard out of Minnesota? That has been BOOK TWO in one form or another since somewhere around halfway through Book One’s initial draft. Its story pieces had begun to coalesce in the back of my head well before the first draft of Gunslingers was even close to being completed. In fact, Book Three and Book Four have done a similar thing, currently they’re just a couple of paragraphs moldering on dusty Word Documents in the back of my hard-drive, after finally and officially being pulled from my head, tossed together, and then left to fester in the dark sometime around the middle of Gunslinger’s third draft. The point is… They’re all INTENDED, get it?

This story has long been A BOOK, you know? Which is a really weird feeling while I tackle it. The pressure of completion, the awareness of WHERE IS THIS GOING has been there from the very first word. There was no secret maturation process this time. There was no: “Hey, surprise! You made a Novel!” moment. It was all just there, half formed and always, readily on display, the bits and pieces crying out for attention instead of just quietly simmering away on the back burner until fully cooked, or at least, until I was within a few chapters of their plot twists and was forced to start paying attention. My fellow Scribblerati Agents have already seen Bastard’s Prologue and Chapter One on multiple occasions (Slightly different versions, of course, and their responses were extremely helpful, as always) and they will be reading (hopefully) Chapter Two for the first time this weekend. So not only is it a different book, but it’s been a completely different process right from the start.

It’s like starting all over again, with a slightly similar puzzle, but in a different language, and that is an intimidating realization.

But the good news? The good news is that last night, I had to sit down and wrap some stuff up. I had to, because I needed to submit it to the group in time for them to read it for Monday, and work and life and the long white of those waiting spaces… they were stubborn, conspiring to keep me from finishing on time.

But I didn’t have an option, so in the end, I just did it. No whining, no distractions, just tip-tap, tip-tap, tip-tap, and then… done. And it turned out not half bad too. So that’s good news. I can still do it, now I just need to make myself do it regularly again. My hope is: Now that Gunslingers is completely “done,” meaning: I am no longer making any edits or changes until someone new, i.e. an Agent or Editor (ever hopeful), suggests them, that I will now be freed up to focus on Bastard. I intend to do so regularly, even if it means forcing myself to return to a strict adherence to that old writer's saw:

“A writer writes everyday.”

Sometimes discipline and consistency can only come through intensive, oppressive scheduling.

At least… here’s hoping.

(Fun fact: The scene originally written for Housewright’s Loft class? The one that eventually grew into Gunslingers of the Apocalypse? It doesn’t actually appear in Gunslingers, at all, ultimately, the evolution of the book cut it loose. However, an altered version does appear in Bastard out of Minnesota.)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

In Praise of Alter Egos

We've been yukking it up--yuking? yuk-ing? yucking? forget it...

We've been busting a gut in our last couple critique session over alter egos. Actually, my fantabulous writing companions have been turned into quivering puddles of giggly silliness when I *occasionally* give feedback that they find out of character coming from a middle-aged, greying, vegetarian, queer mother of a smallish, wee one. Like, say, when I suggest that, oh, perhaps, readers might want more description concerning the nether regions of an eighty-some year-old pants-less zombie. (Whoa, three hyphenations in a row.) That's the G-rated version, by the way. What I really said approached PG-13.

Ah, Alter Egos. I sing your praises. Don't you think that one of the grooviest things about writing is that you get to inhabit a bunch of them? Mayhaps not, but I sure do: I'm a bear who's been turned into a girl! I'm the teenaged reincarnation of a French existentialist philosopher! I'm a sentient potato! (And yes, these are indeed main characters in my novel.) How fun is that?

I also sing praises to Halloween, that orgy of alter egos. This year I was Robin-the-Recycler. The Smallish, Wee One (aka Smunch) decided to be Superman this year. And it was also decreed that I would be Robin. So Robin I was. In our family, because we like to sing praises to Halloween, we have an annual scary foods dinner. Highlights from past years include such themes as Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Sarah Palin, Poop & Pee (when Smunch was still very much not potty trained,) and severed thumb (in honor of a dear friend who had a bit of a run-in with a paper cutter.) For LOTR, I created Barad-dur out of stuffed grape leaves with the Dead Marshes for dessert: a sheet cake with channels cut out of it, channels then filled with jello and submerged, marzipan dead people. This year's theme: Global Warming. Hence, Robin the Recycler.

Here's this years menu:

Holy Heat Up, Batman!
It's a Global Warming Feast!
Brought to you by the
Environmental Justice League of America
Super (Energy Saving) Man
Robin (the Recycler)

We're really in a Pickle Plate
Methane Burp Cheese Plate with Cracks in the Greenland Icesheet Crackers
Hole(-in-the-Ozone-Layer) Wheat Rolls

Main Course
The Once Enchanted Broccoli Forest
Melting Sour Cream glaciers and clear-cut Broccoli stands lead to denuded desert hillsides of Polenta, Black Bean mudslides, and Yam erosion.

"Buy Fresh! Buy Local!" Tropical Fruit Upside Down Cake
And you thought our weather was topsy-turvy? Featuring Minnesota-grown pineapple, papaya, mango and sugar cane.

Glacial Melt Floats
Shrinking Ice (cream) Sheets in a hot ocean of Cider

Ka-Pow! Whammo! Splorch! Smash!
Holy Extreme Weather, Batman!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Minnesota Writers

Those of you who know me well know that I have been a regular user of Twitter for over two years now. Call me an early adopter, or maybe just a geek, but I like to think that I saw potential in Twitter long before CNN made it a regular practice of trolling Twitter feeds for news.

Twitter is an amazing communication tool. With it, you can broadcast every thought, from the profound to the banal, to just about anyone and everyone. In the early days there weren't that many people on Twitter and it was really easy to find unique and interesting people to follow just by watching the public Twitter feed. Nowadays, Twitter has been overrun by the masses and it can be difficult to find people of interest.

Apparently I'm not the only one who noticed that.

A wonderful solution to this problem was launched just last week. It’s a new Twitter feature called Lists. A Twitter list is exactly like it sounds, a list of Twitter users. There's a website out there called Listorious that lets you list your list and it's really astonishing how many lists have popped up there over the course of the last week.

Not wanting to be left out (remember the geek part) I created a list of my own. I call it Minnesota Writers. My goal is to find Minnesota based Twitter using writers and add them to this list. I think a list like this could be a really interesting way for the Minnesota Twitter community to keep in touch and stay abreast of issues that affect us.

And now for the sales pitch: if you are a Minnesota writer, and a Twitter user, leave a comment on the blog and I'll add you to the list.  I have already added all Twitter using members of The Scribblerati, plus a couple of others, so log on and follow Minnesota Writers!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Philosophy of Writing

This isn't what I was going to write about for my first real blog post on The Scribblerati blog. You can blame Lisa for the sudden shift in direction. It's her fault that you're seeing a muggle like me trying to write about philosophy.

Now, let's get something straight at the outset: While it is true that I do have philosophical training (one class in college that I passed with a C) I ain't no philosopher.  Lisa is The Scrribblerati’s resident philosopher and at this point I'm sure she's shaking her head in horror, hoping that none of her fellow philosophers in crime see this blog post. But don't worry, Lisa, this isn’t what you think.

Or maybe it is?

Let's get on with it, shall we? But first, readers, before you read the rest of this post, go back and take a look at Lisa's previous post.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

(Fingers drumming…)

Okay.  Good. Now, did you see this part?

“…I think all of the writing I do starts from the same place.  I want to figure something out. And I want to figure it out badly.  I want to figure something out so badly, that I’m going to write and write and write until I’ve got it figured out…”

You may disagree, but in my opinion that is the very heart of what writing is about.

I think that in order to be a good writer, you have to be a good thinker. Maybe not a philosopher, at least not a trained sense, but you need to be the kind of person who thinks about stuff and puzzles it out.

My own experience certainly fits with that -- dare I say it? -- philosophy. My current work in process, To Kill the Goddess, was born out of my own need to understand the male centric focus of the world's major monotheistic religions. Women do factor into all of those religions, but the focus of these religions is predominantly male.

What’s up with that, anyway?

So, very long story short, all that thinking and pondering has led me to write a book set on a world where the Goddess is the predominant divine force and the male God has little influence.  To Kill the Godddess, is just the first chapter in a much larger attempt to understand the dichotomy between the male and female divinity that exists here in our world.

And I’m going to write and write and write until I’ve got it figured out.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Writing and Rooting

Here I am:

Looking out into the blogosphere….

Big toe testing the blogowaters….

Allright, I can do this.

Deep breath…

hold it…



Hey there. Sorry about the above. It’s my first time swimming in this mighty ocean and I needed a moment.

And now for a confession: I’m a published writer. Five times over. Oh, and then there are the Cons – to date, I’ve been accepted to read from my work at fourteen of those. I’ve also been invited to talk about my writing at Colleges in Vermont, Michigan, Iowa, and even right here in Minnesota.

Scroll down to Shawn’s first entry. Go ahead, it’s a good one. The first Scribblerati post ever. And notice how he describes our writing group: we be five aspiring writers. Guess I forgot to mention some stuff to Shawn, huh?

Because, the thing is: I don’t think of myself as a published author. All the stuff I blathered on about above? That’s all academic writing. The writing you do when you’re faculty at a college or university. Maybe you’ve heard that saying? You know the one: publish or perish? It’s pretty much true. In most academic jobs, until you have tenure, (if you’re lucky enough to have a tenure-track job—which I don’t, btw,) you have to publish, or you’ll find yourself kicked out of those ivory towers. And so, in an attempt to avoid having your head smashed open after they’ve chucked you out the attic window, you publish. (Or you change your name to Rapunzel, grow your hair freaky long, learn some rodeo tricks and free yourself from the blasted tower.)

Anyway, I’m a philosopher by trade, so I have to write philosophical papers, which get read at philosophy conferences, (which we don’t actually get to call Cons,) which, hopefully, get published in philosophy journals. So I can keep getting paid for being a philosopher.

I’m also a fiction writer. Who is very, very much not published. And, in all honesty, not yet ready to be published. But hopefully, with the help of my Scribble-mates, my current project is nearing the state in which the story that I’m trying to tell is told as well as I can possibly tell it. Whether that story, even at its best, is publishable is, of course, another matter. (More on that in an upcoming post.)

Recently, when my work was up for critique by the group, someone (Shawn again) remarked that the writing I do professionally must be pretty different than the writing they’ve been critiquing. And in many ways that’s true: one doesn’t typically get to say things like “freaky-long hair” in an academic article. And yet, at its most basic, I think all of the writing I do starts from the same place.

I want to figure something out. And I want to figure it out badly.

I want to figure something out so badly, that I’m going to write and write and write until I’ve got it figured out. That’s what got me writing my dissertation, Knowledge, Communication, and Difference: An Integrative Theory. It's also what got me writing my novel, Once We Were Bears. (And, on their titles alone, which one would you rather read, dear reader?)

So that’s what my writing always is: I’m rooting around to get clearer about something that’s bothering me. I was bothered by white folks saying stuff like: “I can’t understand what people of color go through.” Bothered by it even though I know there is truth in the statement; bothered even knowing that one can say it with the best intentions. Because, I thought, shouldn’t we whites be trying to understand what folks of color go through? And since philosophers had done a particularly bad job of addressing the question of whether or not we can communicate what we know to others who differ from us, I thought, “well, this philosopher? she’s gonna try to do better.”

The thing I’m rooting around with in the novel, the thing that’s bothering me, pestering me like tongue worrying a loose tooth is my own participation in the destruction of the wilds. In very large part, our human ways of life, including my own, are making it such that there's a real possibility that the Wildthings won’t be found in our living world anymore. Instead they’ll live on only in books and movies and memories. So, I wonder about the bears.

What would a bear think about me, about humanity? That’s the question I’m trying to answer in my novel.

In the dissertation I argued that we can come to know what another human knows, even if we come from differing knowledge communities. In the novel, I’m trying to see myself and our shared world from the perspective of a bear. And how can I possible come to know that? I’m not sure I can. But maybe, just maybe, by writing and writing and writing, I’ll figure it out.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Claudia's Very First Blog Post Ever: TMI

Because of an odd series of circumstances, I am, ironically, writing this, my very first blog post ever, in a coffee shop, on notebook paper, with a pen.

This is how, for a short time after personal computers became readily available and affordable, I insisted was the only way I could write. “Philistines!” I'd cry, in between cranking my Victrola and scrubbing my linen finery in the creek out back. It didn’t take me too long, though, to give writing on the computer the old college try, and I almost immediately discovered that it pretty much rocked. First of all, it’s faster. Right now, as I scribble this down the old fashioned way, my brain is about 4 sentences ahead of what I’m actually writing, plus later I’m going to have to go type the whole thing out anyway. Also in the plus column, it’s a boon being able to move great swaths of text hither and thither, willy-nilly. No more Rube Goldbergian arrows and cross-outs and teensy notes squished into the margins.

I get people who still write on paper, though. There’s that connection to the words and to the ink spilling out onto the page that just isn’t the same on a computer. Also, what with the aforementioned arrows and margin scribblings and whathaveyou, you can see the evolution of your work – where you started, where you’re going. Still, I’ve thrown away my chisel and slab, my chalk and slate: Give me a computer any day.

There is a caveat. In the last several years, a new element has been added to the writing-on-the-computer experience: the readily accessible World Wide Web. The Intertubes. The Webbynet. It’s a dangerous distraction for me as a writer for a very specific reason: T.M.I. Or should I say T.M.P.R.A.I.: Too Much Promise of Readily Available Information.

The novel I’m working on right now is about a Temporal Investigator, Ursula Evermore, who travels back to a manor in rural England, 1928, to solve a murder that was never supposed to take place. An Agatha Christie Cozy meets a Sci-Fi Comedy. I know. Neat, huh?

Naturally, this involves a lot of research. For one, I’m not British. For another, I don’t live, nor have I ever lived in 1928. While outlining my book, I researched the big things upon which the plot was contingent, but while writing, a lot of little stuff has cropped up that I hadn’t anticipated. For instance, did they have envelopes in 1928? Sunglasses? Plywood? (Yes; Yes, but nobody wore them; Yes). The danger, then, is having that big ol’ pile of Internet out there, waiting with the answers. Instant Gratification. (Or Sift-through-the-2000-tons-of-misinformation-and-wikis-out-there-until-you-come-across-the-real-answer-Gratification).

So, for a time, I would pause in my writing in order to jump online and find out, say, in what year the song Stardust was first recorded. (1927). It turns out this is a very efficient way to never get any writing done. It took me a several months of fervently and repeatedly drowning myself in the vast sea of global information before I finally came up with a method of stopping the madness. At first I tried logging out of the Internet while I wrote, but this was no good, as it turns out it’s really, really easy to log back in. Now all I do is highlight the section or word that needs researching in red, take a deep breath, and move on. Sure, sometimes I have to whisper, “Later…later…” to myself in a sultry voice, but for the most part: simple and effective.

Now there are a lot of little red sections in my book. This is good. It gives me something to work on when writing fails me.

Like right now. Ouch, my hand is tired.

- Q

Friday, October 9, 2009

Getting to know me, getting to know all about me...

Hi, there!

Welcome to the Scribblerati’s new Group Blog. Glad you could make it.

My name is Jon Hansen, I’m a founding member and, believe me, that is as impressive an accomplishment as it sounds, if not more so.

But anyway, this is our place, and we plan on putting up regular posts every Friday, rotating the authorship between members, with random ones snuck in every now and then just to keep you all on your toes. So, with that in mind, and in the interest of getting down to brass tacks here… let’s get this week started.

As Shawn covered in his first post, we, the active agents and members of the Scribblerati, are a Twin Cities Writing Group formed out of Lyda Morehouse’s Sci-fi Loft Class. This happened a little over a year ago, give or take, and we’ve been chugging along ever since then. And as our projects progress, well, now comes the part where we begin to establish our presence on-line. I hope you stay awhile, have a look around and get to know us all.

Now, it’s true, at first glance, our group does tend to skew a bit genre-ish, and sometimes this can put people off. This particular implication doesn’t bother us, of course, however, it should be noted that we’re not exclusive to that type of fiction. Not at all. In fact, we are open, willing, and interested in any and all types, but since we met in a genre class, well.... what do ya’ want? Regardless, even within the boundaries of genre, I think it is safe to say that we’re a pretty eclectic and talented group, with each of us currently hard at work on our own particular projects.

Myself, (Jon Hansen… again. Hi.) I have recently begun the Query Process. My book is entitled: Gunslingers of the Apocalypse and it is basically Mad Max meets Dawn of the Dead. It is a tale of love and war and life after the end of everything. I’m hoping, that due to the current market, the fact that it all takes place six months after the zombie apocalypse turns out to be a good thing for me.

Six months ago, the Dead rose and the world came to a sudden and violent end. A virus, new and deadly, burned its infection across the face of the planet. Everything changed then and a new world was born from the ashes of the old. In the aftermath, the choice was clear: You either learned the rules of survival or you joined the legions of the walking Dead.
“Black Magic” Jack El-Hai learns these rules; this is how he manages to stay alive in the fiery ruins of the Collapse when so many others did not. Amidst the chaos, Jack meets a young woman named Noelle Easter -- tattooed, resourceful, and rowdy -- they are a perfect match and soon, wild in love.
Together, they survive the end of the world.
However, staying alive means hard choices, it means spilling blood, it means killing. So when they finally find refuge in a small Midwestern town -- a place spared due to isolation and a tall fence -- Jack and Noelle also find a new purpose: scavenging. They spend their days among the ruins of the old world hunting for the things people need to survive. It’s a dangerous occupation, a daily battle against both the ravenous Dead and the murderous living alike, but the town’s people depend on them.
And while it’s not a great life, it’s better than most…
Lately, though, things are getting worse. Trouble is coming; Jack knows it. The Dead are gathering at the town’s borders in greater numbers, scavengers are dying beyond the fence, and the shaky truce struck with the rival camps of survivors is beginning to crumble. When the town is invaded and an iron-fisted new rule threatens everything he holds dear, including Noelle, Jack quickly discovers that the true monsters are not the ones locked outside the fence…they’re locked within.

Ooooooh… neat, huh? I think so… So, yeah, anyway, after much time and even more effort, I am finally done with the book and I am busy querying Agents, but what does that really mean?

Well, mostly, it means I get to wait. Wait, wait, wait and then wait some more. After that? More waiting. It’s kind of like being in the Army, you know? Hurry up and wait? It’s like that…except minus the hurry part. Each day, I wait for responses while obsessively checking and rechecking my e-mail. I expect rejection and I hope for acceptance, but mostly, I just wait. You see, my “plan” is to send out five Query letters at a time, when one comes back, why I’ll just send another one right out… and right now, they’re all still out there… somewhere… doing something…

And I get to wait.

So…. in the meantime, I am getting back into the already begun second “Black Magic” Jack El-Hai book. Right now, it is tentatively titled: Bastard out of Minnesota. My short term plan is for this book to serve as a distraction from my empty inbox, not to mention the querying process in general. My long term plan is, if I manage to finish this second book and find that I am still un-agented, I will type up the notes on the intended third and forth books, print them out, trunk the whole mess, and then move on to something else.

Until that day though, I continue to establish the series. After all, they say series are an attractive set up when pitching your work and that said series are made all the more shiny to Agents and Editors by having more than one volume completed, or at least started, at the time of initial query. And while, I’m not sure if that’s necessarily true or not, or if there even is such a thing as a hard and fast truism when it comes to walking the path to getting published, hell, I guess every little bit helps, right?

We’ll see…

So that’s me…. Jon.

Any questions?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Writing Tips ala Swamp Thing

Last weekend I visited a lifelong friend who had just acquired a huge comic book collection. He had thoughtfully pulled aside all the Swamp Thing comics for me, remembering that this was one of my childhood favorites. (Thanks Peter!) Swamp Thing #6 was actually the first book I ever purchased as a kid with my own money (while at Wall Drug, no less). Of course I did whatever any comic book lover would do when offered free comics—I took them!

Now looking through these newly acquired treasures I am reminded of why I loved the Swamp Thing series (DC Comics) so much in the first place. The writing of the first 20 or so issues that hooked me is really quite good—the original team of Wein/Wrightson did some great work that (for me) later writers/artists in this series never quite seemed to match.

Writers are influenced by what they read and for good or for bad I know Swamp Thing clearly was one of my early mentors. Flipping through these comics I realize there are many things that anyone looking to improve their writing today can learn from the gnarled, green, mossy one. I give you:

How to improve your writing, Swamp Thing style:

· Have something exciting happen right away. In one of my favorites Swamp Thing is being chased by a T-rex on page 1 and is breaking the dinosaur’s leg by page 3. You don’t see that everyday.

· Give us an original, compelling main character. When a bomb destroys his bayou lab, Dr. Alec Holland is fused with the swamp around him to become Swamp Thing—a monster longing for his humanity. Good stuff.

· Conflict, conflict, conflict. Give your character no quarter. In every issue Swamp Thing is being persecuted, hunted, blown up, put in a gladiator’s ring, flung into outer space, and so on. Between episodes he hides in the swamp—but in each story he is wading chest-deep in action.

· Put your character up against strong villains. The mutated, mad scientist, Arcane, was Swamp Thing’s main nemesis, but Swamp Thing fought and won against devils, space aliens, androids, pitchfork wielding mobs, bounty hunters and several different varieties of undead (even Batman on one occasion.)

· Don’t get preachy. The worst thing that ever happened to Swamp Thing (again, my opinion) was the environmental movement. The original Swamp Things stories were never about having a spokesperson to stop pollution or to help us become better global citizens—it was about a cool character and the crazy things he was experiencing.

· Reveal character through their actions. Swamp Thing hardly ever says a word on the pages he battles across, yet you know he is a hero by what he does. He goes looking for his lost love, he helps strangers in need, he steps in front of bullets aimed at the innocent, and he rips the arm off a killer robot and uses it to bash it to pieces. You get the idea.

So how has Swamp Thing influenced my writing? Don’t know if I can pinpoint it for sure—like most writers I have many, many books, movies, life experiences and teachers that brought me to where I’m at today as a writer. I do know I took a great graphic novel class at the LOFT last year, and found out that although I still love reading a good comic writing them is not my thing. However, the main character of my novel BLACKHEART is a kick-ass antihero who doesn’t say much and enjoys punching out minor demons. Coincidence? Probably not. ß in case you want to check out the early Swamp Thing stories yourself ß in case you’re in/near MN and want to learn more about being a graphic novelist

Mark Teats

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Once upon a time

Once upon a time, in the far off land of Minnesota, there were Five Aspiring Writers.  These writers labored alone, lost and adrift in a world that cared not for their trials, sacrifices, and literary pursuits.

Then, one fine and clear fall day, the Loft Literary Center sent a call out into the land:  “Lonely Writers!  Come to our shining home and bear witness to the Great One who shall instruct you in the many mysteries of The Craft.”

Four of The Five Aspiring Writers heard the call and rejoiced.  “Forsooth!” said they.  “An end to our lonely labors is at hand!”

So Four of The Five Aspiring Writers packed their belongings, their pens, parchment and laptops, and set off in search of enlightenment and, just maybe, an end to their loneliness.

At long last, after the navigating treacherous one-ways of Downtown Minneapolis, Four of The Five Aspiring Writers, along with others both motley and capable, came to the Loft Literary Center and began their tutelage with the Great One.  Together, they endured many labors and their knowledge grew.

Finally, after many long and arduous months, the Great One said unto them, “I have but one lesson left for you. Know that for all your accomplishments you may reach even greater heights if you continue to work and learn together, as have I with my tribe.”

Four of The Five Aspiring Writers looked at one another, assessing. 

“Now,” said the Great One. “You have learned all that I can teach you.  Go. Go back to your homes and to your villages and write such words that maidens will swoon and old men will cry shiny tears into their wizened hands.”

And so Four of The Five Aspiring Writers, and those both motley and capable, left the Loft Literary Center behind.  They returned to their homes and to their villages, but it wasn't long before Four of The Five Aspiring Writers felt their lonely labors begin to chafe.

One by one, Four of The Five Aspiring Writers began to remember the Great One's words. They sought one another out, finally coming together in a local tavern. They created a sacred pact, agreeing to meet once every two weeks and continue on in the tradition of the Great One's Tribe.

Now, more than a full sun cycle later, Four of The Five Aspiring Writers, along with the Fifth Aspiring Writer, have banded together, forming a tribe of their own.  This tribe, the tribe of The Five Aspiring Writers, is to be known as: The Scribblerati!

The Scribblerati are:

Was once voted 42nd "Sassiest Girl in America" by Sassy magazine. That's not top banana in the sassy department, but it's still pretty darn sassy.

Lisa Bergin
Philosophy professor; felted creature maker; food grower and preserver; mama who's at her calmest when she can carve out time to write her middle-grade novel.

Jon Hansen never wanted anything more than the simple, care-free life of a hammock-tester.  Fate, it seems, has plans of its own…

Is a sci-fi / fantasy geek, foodie, alt music fanatic, comic loving, corporate IT slave who writes and travels with the lovely @mplstravelkitty.

Author of BLACKHEART, specializes in angels, demons, dark dreams & fast-paced supernatural writing. Per Mayan prophecy his best seller will hit the shelves Fall 2012.