Around The Globe With Peter Fogg

So I’m in the transporter to pick up this week’s featured author. He enters and suddenly the entire machine goes haywire. When we step out, we’re on a strange island with a table set up for two, strange colored drinks waiting and the entire world has changed. I smack the side of the console, the dials spin, and then report that we’re sitting in the year 2099. I look at my guest and he smiles.

Isn’t it wonderful?” he says. “Think of what we’ll discover.”

Yes,” I reply, “but are we going to be able to go back to our own time. I mean, the cat will need fed.”

He just smiles again and sits to enjoy the drink. Well, what else can I do but enjoy.

On with the interview…

1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

The most fascinating person in LA? Me, out of ten million or so people? I think every single person is quite fascinating in their own way. But if you wanted to ask why I’m the most…well, I’m neither a republican nor a democrat, so that cuts me down to something like less than 1% of the population. From there, you can tack on that I’m a writer, which cuts it down further. I write on typewriters while I’m out in the city and often do it at cafes and restaurants. It often lifts eyebrows and causes brief conversations, though I’m not trying to get attention – anything but that when I’m writing out. I don’t like to use cellphones and I don’t carry them, and that’s pretty rare for a thirty-two year old. I don’t like the modern music, movies or films and I could care less to be on a stage with everyone adoring me and surely I don’t adore any actor, actress or producer – very rare in Hollywood!

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

I don’t like dirty airs, waters and cities and I don’t love the world. I think black holes are vacuum cleaners in the universe. All that light and space debris has to be cleared away so new things can share the same place…housekeeping so to speak.

3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as rocket scientist?

I started writing at six years old and really haven’t stopped since then. Working a job is important to a writer, because I think a writer should be involved in many different experiences regarding human life. Everyone should start working as a teen and come to know the value of money – because there are conflicts in money that we all share. Money is the common denominator of human strife, struggle and conflict. You’ve got to work to know it. No hand me downs. No bailouts. Practically every character in literature shared this struggle at some point in their lives. If a writer can work in the most professions possible, then it’ll broaden the horizon of the characters and their conflicts involved in the writing. The more jobs and experiences you’ve had under your belt, all the better when it comes to your creative capabilities. From Mark Twain to Steinbeck, Henry Miller and Kafka, such working experiences clearly defined their final body of work. Maybe there’s less of this issue in science fiction, but only in certain circumstances. As far as rocket science goes, great writing is quite like an invention, writers just need to discover the right combinations to make the vision work. There can and will be mishaps. Walt Whitman re-wrote “Leaves of Grass” twenty-eight times and died working on another draft! There are always challenges, quite similar to those a rocket scientist experiences. All too often in writing, something might come across from one generation to another, simply because more could be improved and figured out. Just like in science! Such is the way literature evolves. Styles of prose change. Rules and structures too. Because of the trial and error aspects to writing, I do strongly feel the creative process is quite comparable to the challenges in rocket science – a generational to generational experience throughout humanity.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

It’s funny you ask that because I’m supposed to have dinner with James Ellroy in the coming months. No doubt that would be an enjoyable dinner for the same reasons I’ll mention next. But to answer your question more directly, there are two writers I currently enjoy having dinner with. My mentor, bestselling author Ken Eulo (who I’ve studied under for five years) and also bestselling author Robert Ward are quite fascinating authors and all too often know the secret challenges every writer faces. It’s always a pleasure to hear the trials and tribulations they’ve gone through and still do encounter in their rocket science endeavors– the failures and successes rarely ever talked about. Most of the writers I’d love to meet, I guess I have in their own narrations and biographies. They’re all under the ground right now, except for a few.

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book(s) be great company?

Well certainly every book I write would take longer than four hours to read. All too often I’ve heard people have read some of my books several times. Once I saw a paperback read so many times that it went from being three inches thick to six inches! No exaggeration. I’ve had people inspired to do art to my books. I’ve had people use verbage and lingo too. So, I’ve touched people before. To be more direct towards your question, I do feel nearly everything I write involves a great number of philosophical passages and themes that can be better understood when reading the second or third time. Often there are metaphoric layers in the writings and these become more obvious in the companionship of the literature when revisted. In the least, the companionship of my work is a good reason to carry one along for a read.

6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.

My current writing schedule is six days a week and about four hours a day. A day of rest is necessary, and sometimes two or three days of rest depending on the amount of germination needed to pen the next passages. My schedule used to be seven days a week and eight hours a day. But after studying under Mr. Ken Eulo, I’ve found that I can pen better quality in less time. Often I might wake one day at 3 a.m. and write with short breaks until 9 a.m., and then the very next day I might go to bed at 3 a.m. and wake at 9 and begin writing until the early afternoon.

As far as research goes, well that’s the toughest part. Since I’m not much into historical or very technologically driven work, there requires less of this than with other writers. Most of my work is philosophically and psychologically driven, and in these fields I’ve done quite some study, though there’s always much more to learn through personal rumination and philosophizing.

Outlines should always be on one page and penned in 9 paragraphs containing no more than 20 sentences. Outlines must be kept loose, because the characters will take control and send you off into unchartered seas leading to the same shore. The entire writing process begins with characters and ends with them. My idea is to write the characters first and then revisit the outline for a revision. Always write the characters first. The characters should always tell you who they are and often will do some of that later in the manuscript, which warrants a rewrite, edit and revision.

When I first started out I’d had fewer rewrites, but the more I’ve developed over the past ten years I do find letting things cool off is rewarding. Surely I can understand the characters earlier now. As far as the number of rewrites go, that all depends on the length of the work and how well I felt it worked in the first draft. It’s not out of the question to rewrite a page ten times or more.

Write your first draft as quickly as possible and while you do it, minimize all distracts as best as you can.

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

It’s a very good question everyone should ask. When the idea comes, try to figure out why that idea interests you. What conflict is involved? What insight is coming through? Why is this idea important to you and why might it be important to someone else? My advice is simple. If you were to meet a partner over dinner and that partner asked you to tell a memory about your childhood, which memory would you choose and why?

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

Live and learn, forgive yourself and everyone else. Tolerate and accept differences. Do your best to grow in any way that you can. You will make mistakes, but forgive yourself. Be grateful you’re here and never be afraid to pray. The next moment you live, you are living in that moment reborn. The past is the past, as Ken Eulo says.

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

I’m working on two novels right now and a set of Haiku’s. I’m penning roughly 6000-9000 words a week as of late. I also have a short story collection of novellas which need to be edited. I also would like to pen another book later in the year to compliment a series I intend for the Captured Mind novel. It’s already been started, and will commence at some point, when the time is right. Very busy right now. In fact, I took some time away from the writing to respond to these lovely questions. Thanks for asking.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

They can always hop over to the Peter Fogg website at: http://www.peterfogg.com or http://www.capturedmind.com. I’ll be doing quite a bit of blogging in the coming weeks and months, especially with the Sports Fractal Theorist, the very first scientific newsletter involving the Human Social Mood Fractal in the context of professional sports teams.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Talk, Talk With F.M. Meredith

So I’m traveling along on the blog bus when I see a woman holding an I’M AN AUTHOR sign. I stop and let her on and say whichMe at Christmas Boutique Friday would you like. She reaches over and pushes the stop button.
“Hey,” I say, “this blog stops on Fridays only. Very rarely does it stop on Thursday.”
She says, “Do you know who I am?”
“Well, ma’am, you’d have to be someone like F.M. Meredith before I’d let you post on another day.”
She coughs and I take a better look.
“Oops, sorry.”
“Just sit over there in the corner,” she says, “and hush.”
Well, what would you do? Argue with her? I mean she’s F.M. Meredith.

—————————————–

Violent Departures

What About the Dialogue?
Because I’m writing a police procedural, some readers might expect “cop talk” like they hear on TV shows. I stay away from much of it because in every area different phrases are used for the same things.
I want my characters to sound like the police officers and people that I know.
One thing about dialogue is real people don’t always talk in complete sentences. We interrupt each other when we’re having a lively conversation. Also people don’t always use correct grammar. We also don’t tell someone something they already know.
When writing dialogue, it’s better to stick to simple dialogue tags like said and asked, anything else tends to interrupt the flow of the story. Better yet is to use an action for a dialogue tag. People don’t just sit quietly when they’re talking—and the characters shouldn’t either. Another way to let the reader know who is speaking is to describe something about the person.
Avoid writing the mundane things we say to one another, like “How are you doing?” Dialogue in a story should have a purpose—moving the plot along or showing something about the character.
There should always be a good balance between dialogue, narrative and action.
These are simple guidelines for writing dialogue that might be helpful to anyone just starting out.
F. M. aka Marilyn Meredith
Blurb for Violent Departures:
College student, Veronica Randall, disappears from her car in her own driveway, everyone in the Rocky Bluff P.D. is looking for her. Detective Milligan and family move into a house that may be haunted. Officer Butler is assigned to train a new hire and faces several major challenges.
Bio:
F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of over thirty published novels. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Besides having family members in law enforcement, she lived in a town much like Rocky Bluff with many police families as neighbors.

Contest:

Because it has been popular on my other blog tours, once again I’m offering the chance for the person who comments on the most blog posts during this tour to have a character named for him or her in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery.

Or if that doesn’t appeal, the person may choose one of the earlier books in the series—either a print book or Kindle copy.
Links:
Webpage: http://fictionforyou.com/
Blog: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://facebook.com/marilynmeredith
http://anastasiapollock.blogspot.com/ for tomorrow where I answered some intriguing questions—hope the answers are as intriguing.
Buy links: http://tinyurl.com/jvmubw5

Categories: Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Around the Globe with Joyce Ann Brown

So, this morning I pick up this week’s featured author and since she shrugged her shoulders on an interview site, i decided  to hit an all night coffee bar in Des Moines. Of course, I don’t drink coffee, but they have a wonderful selection of teas. We’re ensconced in a back room so the jazz quartet out front doesn’t disturb us.

Onto the interview…

1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
I’m a writer and author. I wrote the Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery series and do freelance work. Also, I’m a teacher, a school librarian, a story teller, a landlady, a Realtor, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a tennis player, a hiker, a world traveler… I’m an explorer.
Memoir isn’t my genre, but I use many of my own experiences in my writing. Other cities have Amy Tan, Michelle Obama, and Roger Federer. But when people see the ways I stretch my own experiences and the experiences of others into mysterious and witty stories, they are sure my brain is the most fascinating in Kansas City.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to) what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
Since a main character in my mysteries is a cat, and since I’ve had cats in my family for always, people will be shocked to learn my rather deep, also very irritating, secret—I’m a bit allergic to cat dander.
3. What interested ou to become a writer rather than something else, such as a rocket scientist?
I’m a generalist and could never decide on one subject. I want to know about everything. I became a librarian and a story teller, and always a reader. Writing is an extension of those interests. I can inform, entertain, and learn about all sorts of things when I write.
4. Writers are raders. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
I’d love to share dinner with Dave Barry, because I love to laugh. If I could go back a few years, I would have loved to visit with Lilian Jackson Braun over dinner, because she must have been sharp as a tack and witty to boot. There are many others. I wouldn’t eat during those dinners. I’d listen.
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a 4-hr. layover at the airport, why would your books be great company?
You’d get lost in the trials and tribulations of my characters, laugh at the exploits of Psycho Cat and the klutzy landlady, and test your deductive skills trying to solve the mysteries. Time would fly by faster than the planes in the clouds above your island or airport.
6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.
In brief: I use the story arc to develop the plot and dialog, action, and inner speak to develop the characters. I write an initial outline, which changes as I go along, I use Google often, visit places many times, but also make up settings once in a while. Anywhere from one to twelve hours of my day are devoted to writing. No strict schedule. But if you meet me and I seem to be off in another world, I’m probably thinking about a plot or character. I rewrote, edited, and revised my first mystery countless times, my second book somewhat fewer. An article or short story gets two or three revisions—more if a word limit is imposed. I’m still learning. (Aren’t we all?) I’d be glad to recommend books about the writing process.
7. I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?
Start writing and keep writing until you love the result. Then find a good editor.
8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?
Explore, create, and leave the world a better place.
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing. What’s next for you?
I’m working on the third book of my Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery series. Also, I have some articles in mind for a local magazine, and I love to submit short stories for publication. If any readers have a good idea for a short mystery, please let me know!
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
Find more information about me and my books, CATastrophic Connections and FURtive Investigation, on my website: http://joyceannbrown.com, or on my author page.
Please like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, connect on Google+ and find my author page on Goodreads. Follow my blogs: http://retirementchoicescozymystery.wordpress.com/ and http://hikingkctrails.wordpress.com /.

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Inner Strength Essays, Part III

I wind up the three part series of essays written by two of my students. This week, they discuss community inner strength.

Community-city

Noelle

How can inner strength be used to better our community?

Let’s start with this question: what is inner strength? My personal definition for the phrase ‘inner strength’ is: “the power to resist discouraging problems, doubtful times, and hurtful pain internally.” However, the actual question is this. How can inner strength be used to better our community?

In our community, there are plenty of unfair fights and arguments. If we use inner strength, we can stop fighting/arguing and we can focus on more important things. Think about it – we can STOP ARGUING!

We can also use inner strength for good things. Just getting out of bed in the morning when we don’t want to is using inner strength! We can use this in our community, too! If we are discouraged because someone is tempting us, we can show inner strength! We can ignore them and do the right thing; the act that we know would be better to do.

Many people in the government show great examples of inner strength. I can donate clothes to the poor people in the world. That’s what God wants me to do. If people see me doing it, they might do the right thing as well. It’s called ‘good influence’.

My grandmother, who used to be a State Representative, shows inner strength like this: when she feels like she’s getting nothing done, she keeps on trying no matter what. Then, to her excitement, she notices that she has nothing left! Our mayor, David Krutzfeldt, makes decisions for our community almost every day. Sometimes people don’t like the choices he makes. So he ignores their judgments and keeps on going in life. And that’s what we should do as a community.

Elijah

How Can Inner Strength Be Used In A Community?

What is inner strength? In my opinion, inner strength means “not letting others discouragements or my own doubt keep me from what I want to do.” Here are some answers I have to the question: “How can inner strength be used in a community?”

If the people in my community decide on something they should not turn away in time they should stick with it. Take my grandpa, when he is finished with his harvesting he is usually exhausted, but he still helps his neighbor finish harvesting his fields. Which I think is really nice.

Or the townspeople that take their time to clean the streets and pick up the trash by the highway. Which is also very generous and kind!

The kindhearted people who are tight on their budget, yet they use inner strength and still donate their money and supplies. Again very generous of them to do that!

I can use inner strength by shoveling my neighbors driveway instead of playing in the snow. Or if I am feeling lonely or sad I can think of bright future occasions. Which I think is really helpful!

We all can use inner strength by donating our time, donating our stuff or just getting through hard times! We can also see that inner strength really really helps us through really difficult times or even really really easy times.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Inner Strength Essays, Part II

schoolhouseLast week, I introduced Noelle and Elijah, two of my taekwondo students, who wrote essays in February on how to use inner strength at home, in school, and in the community. This week, I present their essays on school inner strength.

Noelle

How can inner strength be used to make school a successful endeavor?

Let’s start with this question: what is inner strength? My personal definition for the phrase ‘inner strength’ is: “the power to resist discouraging problems, doubtful times, and hurtful pain internally.” So how can inner strength be used to make school life a successful endeavor?

In schools, all the problems usually have to do with someone bullying the other. Using inner strength, none of this would even be complained of; so the “art” of bullying would cease in schools. Bullying would disappear because no one would care if they were bullied. There is a chance that if we use inner strength, students in schools would never be offended or insulted ever again! Because they wouldn’t care, bullying wouldn’t exist.

Some people in schools do show inner strength. My teacher, Miss Van Kooten, shows inner strength like this: when remarks are said during class, she goes on with her lesson like nothing happened instead of exploding. I show inner strength at school, too. When I am told mean things about me, I just absentmindedly smile and shake my head, because I don’t care; I just ignore it.

Some of my classmates do this as well. Max H. shows inner strength by trying his best not to let his loneliness/feelings show on the outside when mean rumors or lies are backstabbing him and he knows it. He doesn’t care. Rori E. shows inner strength, too. If she is unsure about something somebody just said to her, she brings a graceful smile onto her face and doesn’t care what the person said.

Elijah

How Can Inner Strength Be Used In A Classroom?

What is inner strength? In my opinion, inner strength means “not letting others discouragements or my own doubt keep me from what I want to do.” Here are some answers I have to the question: “How can inner strength be used in a classroom?”

Our class uses inner strength to try and get our assignments done. We will also try to stop talking and pay attention in class, write our worksheets instead of goofing off with our partner that is next to us and we will also be a good class and get rewarded by our teacher.

Some of my classmates use inner strength by not arguing and it helps them get through the day. Like Nathan R, for instance. He uses inner strength to withstand and turn away from peer pressure. Or Rachel B, she has a goal set in her mind and she will get it accomplished by having good grades and focus. My teach, Mrs. Van Donselaar, will be annoyed with us but she will keep us on schedule, which with my class must be really hard! (I mean it!)

If I am in class, I can use inner strength by having a goal to keep my grades high and I can use inner strength to keep them high. I do that by focusing in class, paying attention to the assignments that need to be done and trying my best to not get distracted or distract my friends sitting by me.

Next week: Inner Strength in the community.

Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Inner Strength Essays, Part I

Inner-strength-IIIFor a long while, I have putting up a monthly theme at the taekwondo club. I have several posters, large and small, or themes such as Attitude, Courtesy, Respect, and Motivation. I’ve been through all of them several times. So, for February of this year, I reached out and tried something new. Inner Strength.

I am part of the Karate For Kids program developed by my parent organization. tinytigersvpatchStudents up through age 14 receive a ‘V’ for Victory patch and they earn stars to go onto the patch. The distribution of the stars (how many and for what) is up to the individual instructor. For my students, I hand the parents a Star Sheet with the idea that they observe how the child exhibits the monthly theme at home (earning blue stars), at school (gold stars), and the community (red stars). I have silver stars for having an instructor come to the school for a presentation or if I see something extra special from the student. Students start with the white patch with the blue trim and after 25 stars are earned, they move to the next patch. For me I may hand out a maximum of seven stars per month per student. After 100 stars are earned, I have created a special certificate. So far, I have given out four of these.

For February, instead of having the parents write down the specific incidents of showing the monthly theme, I had the students write a one page essay on their own meaning of Inner Strength and how it can can be applied at home, at school, or in the community. Two of my students returned three typed pages each and after reading them, I felt they were written so well, I wanted to share them. So, for three weeks, I want to present Noelle’s and Elijah’s essays on Inner Strength. I think these papers not only show the quality of my students and how they have taken martial arts and the lessons to heart, wonderful parenting, but they also are a wonderful example of quality education that is out there. Noelle is eleven; Elijah is ten. Both are Yellow Belts.

HomeHere are the essays for home/family without edits.

Noelle

How can inner strength be used to help make home/family life a successful endeavor?

Let’s start with this question: what is inner strength? Personally, my definition for the phrase ‘inner strength’ is ‘the power to resist discouraging problems, doubtful times, and hurtful pain internally.’ However, the real question is this. How can inner strength be used to help make home/family life a successful endeavor?

In families, siblings usually argue a lot. And some pretty insulting comebacks are said during the argument time period. The siblings cause lots of frustration. How can families fix that internally? They can use inner strength! With inner strength, you feelings will slowly rise, and you and your family will get along much better. Inner strength will allow your family’s goal to stop the arguing self-complete.

My family shows inner strength in many things they do, too. My mom, when she gets home from work, is exhausted, and she still is willing to answer our difficult questions. My dad shows inner strength in this way: when we are really annoying, he just ignores us and doesn’t quit devoting his time. My brother, Jacob, shows inner strength too. When Noah knocks him down, he gets up and pretends that he doesn’t care. My brother, Noah, shows inner strength; like when my brothers hassle him around he resists it and doesn’t act hurt. My brother, Elijah, gets teased and pushed around a lot. He just laughs or ignores it. And I show inner strength by thinking of the bright times happening the future when I feel down or in doubt.

Elijah

How Can Inner Strength Be Used In A Family

What is inner strength? In my opinion, inner strength means “not letting other discouragements or my own doubt keep me from what I want to do.” Here are some answers I have to the question: “How can inner strength be used in a family?”

In families, siblings almost always find something to fight with each other about, physically and/or verbally, like a scratch on the arm, or a mean word, or a kick. Things like that aren’t nice to say but we still do them. Sometimes we can say really mean things. To put an end to this, we can use inner strength! We can show inner strength by just walking away, forgiving, or just simply not even minding.

My family shows inner strength too. For example, my mom gets home exhausted from work, yet she still spends her spare time with us. Or my dad, he will get annoyed with us sometimes, but he still plays games with us. My sister gets mad at me and my brothers, but she still keeps her cool.

My brother Noah will get banged around, but he doesn’t mind. Or my brother Jacob; he gets hassled around all the time! But he just gets right back up and acts like nothing has happened.

If I’m feeling down, I think of good times. If one of my siblings give me discouragements I can still keep doing what I was doing and not let it bother me. I can also encourage them to read a goal of theirs.

Next week, I present their essays on using inner strength at school.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Food For Thought: Old West

Old WestOld West

4138 Fleur Drive

Des Moines, IA

515-285-2468

http://www.oldwestmexican.com

Finishing up her meal, Lori Campisi writes to her contact back in Washington, D.C. who has asked her to tell him about many of the are restaurants.

***

Mr. Hundt,

Tonight I went north of the international airport on Fleur and found a bright cheery Mexican restaurant. Though the parking lot was full, I was offered a table almost immediately. The décor is southwestern, wood tones but the lighting, except for the front part is sufficient to read by, which as you know, I enjoy while eating.

The menu offers many traditional items such as fajitas, pollo dishes, and chimichangas. There is a bar in the rear. They offer lunch combinations at $6.99, a children’s menu and a few favorite dessert items. Of course there are appetizers and huevos selections that can be ordered for lunch or dinner.

What you would be interested in is the unique entrees such as Fajita Montana with adds pineapple chunks to the beef, chicken and shrimp dish. Another entree, because I know you can eat a lot, is the Diane Special. I see at least six varieties of steak meals including a Carreta Steak which is a 12 ounce T-bone, grilled and topped with shrimp, onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos.

I ordered the Camarones A La Crema-shrimp and crab in a cheese sauce with a salad and rice. The crab meat is in flakes and probably the fake crab used by so many places, but I didn’t confirm it with the staff. This meal cost a bit more than the usual which runs from seven to ten dollars. The seafood entrees are always more and mine was eleven dollars.

Speaking of the staff, my waiter was attentive although he didn’t offer me another basket of chips.

My impression is that you would like it because it would have items that match your, uh, eclectic, tastes.

Sincerely,

Lori

PS

No, I will not sign my emails to you ‘Fox’. That is your silly nickname for me as I have been telling you for years.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Endurance

Endurance picEndurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.” – Buddha

In January, 2015, I used this picture and quote as my monthly theme for class. The reason I did was when I consider monthly themes I take suggestions from my assistant instructor and I think about how the students have been doing in the recent month. I try to think what might motivate or excite them, to push them.

I thought Endurance would be good for the start of the year. Yeah, so many times the theme of Goals is used and I’ll bring it out now and again. But I wanted the students to toughen up a bit, get through some of the difficult parts of the workout and form work we do.

Endurance is akin to perseverance. You’re trying to keep going to reach the goal. I think endurance, however, can be broken down into the areas of mental and physical.

One of my exercises I do every so often is go through my form, full power, seven times. After the first couple I’m doing all right. By the fourth or fifth round, I’m feeling it – in my muscles, my breathing, and especially in my mind. It becomes a mental exercise to keep going, to finish those seven. I’m sweating and I’m pushing those kicks, trying to stay relaxed (not tense throughout), and focusing on technique rather than the strain and pain I’m feeling. The mental game to endure the strain and pain and keep going. Push, kick, strike. Again. Again. One more time. The mind counts up from one then counts down how many more rounds I have. Push, kick, strike. Again. One more time.

Of course, to endure, the physical side comes into play. By years of training I’ve built up strength and stamina to keep going. To endure.

Region 114’s annual camp is an excellent venue for endurance. The classes and exercises are intense and demanding. The Masters instructing will push you to your limits. They’re not harsh or come down with punishment for failure, but they will push. They’ll encourage improvement, celebrate success.

But only after you’ve endured what they have to offer.

None of us is Superman, but as I mentioned, training does help endurance.

I think of those who go through the SEAL training. Normally, it isn’t the biggest guy in the bunch who succeeds. Those who succeed will be the ones with that physical and mental endurance to push past the pain and the mental anguish. Late in 2014, I heard commercials about enduring the training of one of the military branches. The man speaking was pushing himself mentally, saying to himself that he needed to keep going for just a bit longer, just a minute more. Then he’d succeed.

Endurance is strength of body and of mind. It doesn’t always have to be something physical like a martial arts form or military training. Sometimes, it can be about a job interview or writing the final chapter in a book.

Where in your life have you had to endure to succeed?

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Adult Truth #17

Yes, I know it’s Thursday, but it’s one of those rare weeks where an earlier post is necessary as I’m off to Black Belt Camp and will be busy tomorrow.

——————————

#17I wish Google Maps had an ‘Avoid Ghetto’ routing option.”

Unless your destination IS the ghetto.

This brings up an interesting discussion. Let me lead you into it slowly and try not to upset you too much.

When you take a trip, do you just get in the car and drive? You have no destination, no time frame for your trip, no plans whatsoever, you just get in your car and drive, right? Well, some people take a vacation with no set destination in mind but I’ll bet they have a time frame. I mean, they’ll have to go back to work or get back to responsibilities at home at some point.

So…do you say to yourself, “I’m going to write a story today”, sit down with pen in hand or in front of your laptop and start writing?

You’re ahead of me, right? Well, think hard before you answer.

My point is, everybody outlines.

“No, they don’t, sir. I certainly don’t.”

Yes. You do. You have to. Now before you start in on your protestations and snarky emails, read on. I’m talking about basic outlining. You have a story idea. You have a couple characters and a vague description, maybe a setting, and, oh, yes, the hero gets the girl in the end. Right? Well, that’s outlining.

I’m not saying you have to do a Jeffrey Deaver 180 page detailed outline. However, you still have to make some decisions. How old are the characters? How much time is going to pass from the story’s beginning to the end? Are you starting when the hero is twenty years old and end it when he’s ninety-five or start when he’s twenty years old and end when he’s twenty years and two days old? How do the characters change throughout the book? Is there a resolution to the problem or are you setting up for a sequel?

I think these are some of the decisions you have to make before you write Chapter One. You have to have some idea of where you’re going. Maybe you don’t have the trip to Paris or that one of the character’s will die halfway through the story, but I think you have to have some vision of the future.

Too often I’ve heard authors say they don’t outline, they just sit down and start writing. More often than not, I don’t see a completed story. Why? Because they usually run out of steam, or more likely, lose their way in the story. They don’t have to vision to continue. So, the story peters out around chapter two or three.

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t successful authors who don’t outline. I’m just saying I haven’t seen very many who stick around very long. I congratulate those who can write an entire story from scratch with no real notion of where they’re going, how they’re going to get there, or when they’ll end. The old adage of ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’

comes into play a little bit here.

I’ve written before that not outlining for me is like trying to explore a complex cavern with only ten matches for illumination.

I’ve heard the argument that, “Well, I just don’t want to be bound by the outline. I can’t work like that?” Fine. You’re a writer and writers break rules all the time. You’re not fettered by your outline. There is no rule that says you can’t change your mind down the line somewhere. I do. The publisher isn’t going to come back to you and demand to see your outline and lambast you for coloring outside the lines. There is a time, maybe a few times, where I realize my outline needs to be modified because something isn’t working. I just make it work. I have the creativity to adjust and modify. I do it all the time in my taekwondo classes. I have a class planner but sometimes the students just aren’t understanding what I’m trying to communicate. Maybe it’s my fault, maybe it’s their fault. But I know when to stop the exercise or the drill and move onto something else. I can come back to the original point later on but I don’t want to bore the students. Just as if you continue on with the same vein in your story, you risk boring the readers if it isn’t working.

So, what’s the point here? I think it this: Be realistic when you claim you don’t outline. If you have the vision, the perseverance, the time, and the motivation, then go for it and I’ll will congratulate you when you’re finished. But if it doesn’t work…then revise your plan and jot down a few notes to help you along.

Now, as for the unplanned trip…wow! I’d absolutely love to do that one day. No destination, just explore, no care in the world where I’m going or when I’ll be back.

Can you imagine that?

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Chapters – IV

C04We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it be included in the price.”

I don’t know about you, but even if the park DID provide swimsuits, I don’t think I’d wear one. Even if it has been washed fifty times over, how many other bodies have worn it?

***

So what do you think about when you see the price for something? Everybody has a personal opinion on if a product or service is too expensive. It all comes down to what we think is worth the money.

Years ago I went with my dad to a model train fair. We visited many booths and displays and saw a lot of pretty good stuff. At one booth, a guy was hawking a product one used when creating scenery. I can’t recall exactly what it did (a special glue or foam to connect pieces of material to make construction easier and more realistic) but the bottle cost around forty dollars. Now, dad has been into model trains for decades so he was attracted. I thought the price was a bit much, but dad ended up buying a bottle and found the product worked pretty good.

I guess I’m the same with books. I used to be a big eBay purchaser and until the site went to strictly Paypal payments I would shop a lot. The problem I found was that several sellers were ripoff artists. I know book prices have increased and today you shell out close to nine or ten dollars for a paperback in the store. I used to have a bit of an OCD complex where I wouldn’t buy a book unless it was in pristine condition. Then I realized I was missing out on a lot of books because of my standards. (However, I still read with the book open only far enoughto read the words without cracking the spine. I’m also glad that dad does the same when he borrows some of my books.) However, back then books ranged from four to six dollars.

Anyway, I shopped on eBay because I could peruse used books and older books no longer in the stores. I saw some pretty good deals and thought the money spent was justified. However, I thought a lot sellers were cheats because the book itself may have cost anywhere from 99 cents to four dollars but the shipping was always four-six dollars, or more. So, I would have ended up paying new-book price for something years old. No way. I knew it didn’t cost six dollars to ship a book.

Today, with Amazon and other online stores it’s a bit easier, in one sense to be able to shop around. The liability is, there are various ways to buy books, to get the one you want for the right price may require a lot of time. And with the explosion of eBooks and especially with self-published books, the old warning of BUYER BEWARE is so important.

I’m not against self-published books. I know authors who have gone this route and their books are just fine. However, in my book reviews, I have run across so many more that were not. It’s not difficult to recognize a self-published book at times because of the poor quality of the plot and all of the errors of grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. No self-respecting editor or publisher would allow that crap to get published.

I must correct myself by saying…some do. That’s one of the downsides to small indie publishers. Not saying the big six doesn’t put out crap, but some of these small publishers are so close to fly-by-night outfits, it ain’t funny. That is why writers must do their homework before submitting. Check out the company as thoroughly as possible before submitting or accepting an offer.

Quality counts. It doesn’t matter if the price for a book is less than a buck, if the story is awful, the writing is amateurish, and/or the editing is noticeably bad, then you’ve wasted your money.

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 865 other followers

%d bloggers like this: