October is Nanowrimo PREP month!

By noreply@blogger.com (Alexandra Sokoloff)

by Alexandra Sokoloff

It’s October first, and you know what that means….

It’s Nanowrimo PREP month!

I always do a brainstorming and story structure review series in October, and continue throughout November with prompts and encouragement, based on my Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workbooks and workshops.


Because if you’re going to put a month aside to write 50,000 words, doesn’t it make a little more sense to have worked out the outline, or at least an overall roadmap, before November 1?


This year I’ve had an attack of fall housekeeping, which should benefit all you readers of this blog.

- First, I’ve created a separate page on the blog where I’ll collect the Nanowrimo posts in order as we work our way through Nanowrimo Prep in October. (There’s now a tab on the nav bar at the top of the blog that says Nanowrimo!)

- And for those who want to skip ahead, I’ve also put up a Table of Contents page (the tab says How to Use this Blog) and linked some of the major posts in a useful order.

- Of course, all the information on this blog and more, including full story structure breakdowns of various movies, is available in the workbooks. Any format, just $3.99 and $2.99.



- Amazon US

- Amazon UK

- Amaxon DE

- Amazon FR

- Amazon ES

- Amazon IT


If you’re a romance writer, or have a strong love plot or subplot in your novel or script, then Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks II is an expanded version of the first workbook with a special emphasis on love stories.


- Smashwords (includes online viewing and pdf file)

- Amazon US

- Barnes & Noble/Nook

- Amazon UK

- Amazon DE




- And finally, I’m always up for suggestions – what would YOU like me to cover in this Nano prep month?

———————

So let’s get this party started with The Master List.

The first thing I always have my workshop students do is make a Master List of their favorite movies in the genre they’re writing in.

And you guys who have done this master list before, remember, it helps to do a new one every time you sit down with a new project, and brainstorm a list of movies and books that are structurally similar to your new project.

It’s very simple: in order to write stories like the ones that move you, you need to look at the specific stories that affect you and figure out what those authors and filmmakers are doing to get the effect they do.



Every genre has its own structural patterns and its own tricks — screenwriter Ryan Rowe says it perfectly: “Every genre has its own game that it’s playing with the audience.”


For example: with a mystery, the game is “Whodunit?” You are going to toy with a reader or audience’s expectations and lead them down all kinds of false paths with red herrings so that they are constantly in the shoes of the hero/ine, trying to figure the puzzle out.


But with a romantic comedy or classic romance, there’s no mystery involved. 99.99% of the time the hero and heroine are going to end up together. The game in that genre is often to show, through the hero and heroine, how we are almost always our own worst enemies in love, and how we throw up all kinds of obstacles in our own paths to keep ourselves from getting what we want.


So if you’re writing a story like It’s A Wonderful Life, it’s not going to help you much to study Apocalypse Now. A story that ends with a fallen hero/ine is not going to have the same story shape as one that ends with a transcended hero/ine (although if both kinds of films end up on your list of favorite stories, you might find one is the other in reverse. That’s why you need to make your own lists!)


Once you start looking at the games that genres play, you will also start to understand the games that you most love, and that you want to play with your readers and audience.


I’m primarily a thriller writer, and my personal favorite game is: “Is it supernatural or is it psychological?” I love to walk the line between the real and unreal, so I am constantly creating story situations in which there are multiple plausible explanations for the weird stuff that’s going on, including mental illness, drug-induced hallucinations, and outright fraud. That’s why my master list for any book or script I write will almost always include The Haunting of Hill House and The Shining, both classic books (and films) that walk the line between the supernatural and the psychological.

But what works for me structurally is not necessarily going to do it for you.


If you take the time to study and analyze the books and films that have had the greatest impact on you, personally, or that are structurally similar to the story you’re writing, or both, that’s when you really start to master your craft. Making the lists and analyzing those stories will help you brainstorm your own, unique versions of scenes and mega-structures that work in the stories on your master list; it will help you figure out how your particular story will work. And doing this analysis will embed story structure in your head so that constructing a story becomes a fun and natural process for you.


Another great benefit of making the master list is that it helps you “brand” yourself as an author. Agents, editors, publishing houses, publicists, sales reps, bookstores, reviewers, media interviewers, librarians, and most importantly, your readers — all of these people want to be able to categorize you and your books. You need to be able to tell all of these people exactly what it is you write, what it’s similar to, and why it’s also unique. That’s part of your job as a professional author.

So the first order of business is to make your master list.


And I encourage you to splurge on a nice big beautiful notebook to work in. We writers live so much in our heads it’s important to give ourselves toys and rewards to make the work feel less like work, and also to cut down on the drinking.


> ASSIGNMENT: Go to an office or stationery store or shop on line and find yourself a wonderful notebook to work in.


> ASSIGNMENT: List ten books and films that are similar to your own story in structure and/or genre (at least five books and three movies if you’re writing a book, at least five movies if you’re writing a script.).


Or – if you’re trying to decide on the right project for you to work on, then make a list of ten books and films that you wish you had written!



ANALYZING YOUR LIST


Now that you’ve got your list, and a brand-new notebook to keep it in, let’s take a look at what you’ve come up with.


For myself, I am constantly looking at:


Silence of the Lambs (book and film)

A Wrinkle in Time (book)

The Wizard of Oz (film)

The Haunting of Hill House (book and original film)

Anything by Ira Levin, especially Rosemary’s Baby (book and film), and The Stepford Wives

The Exorcist (book and film)

Jaws (film, and it’s interesting to compare the book)

Pet Sematery (book, obviously!)

The Shining (book and film)

It’s A Wonderful Life


That’s off the top of my head, just to illustrate the point I’m about to make – and not necessarily specific to the book I’m writing right now. On another day my list could just as easily include Hamlet, The Fountainhead, Apocalypse Now, The Treatment, Alice in Wonderland, Philadelphia Story, and Holiday Inn.


All of those examples are what I would call perfectly structured stories. But that list is not necessarily going to be much help for someone who’s writing, you know, romantic comedy. (Although the rom coms of George Cukor, Preston Sturges, and Jane Austen, and Shakespeare are some of my favorite stories on the planet, and my master list for a different story might well have some of those stories on it).



Okay, what does that list say about me?


• It’s heavily weighted toward thrillers, fantasy, horror, and the supernatural. In fact, even the two more realistic stories on the list, Jawsand Silence of the Lambs, are so mythic and archetypal that they might as well be supernatural – they both have such overwhelming forces of nature and evil working in them.


• It’s a very dark list, but it includes two films and a book that are some of the happiest endings in film and literary history. I read and watch stories about the battle between good and evil… but if you’ll notice, except for the Ira Levin books, I do believe in good triumphing.


• The stories are evenly split between male protagonists and female protagonists, but except for Jaws, really, women are strong and crucial characters in all of them.


And guess what? All of the above is exactly what I write.


A lot of the stories on your own list will probably be in one particular genre: thriller, horror, mystery, romance, paranormal, historical, science fiction, fantasy, women’s fiction, YA (Young Adult, which is really more of an umbrella for all genres). And odds are that genre is what you write.


(If you’re not clear on what your genre is, I suggest you take your master list to the library or your local independent bookstore and ask your librarian or bookseller what genre those books and films fall into. These people are a writer’s best friends; please use them, and be grateful!)


But there will also always be a few stories on your list that have nothing to do with your dominant genre, some complete surprises, and those wild cards are sometimes the most useful for you to analyze structurally. Always trust something that pops into your head as belonging on your list. The list tells you who you are as a writer. What you are really listing are your secret thematic preferences. You can learn volumes from these lists if you are willing to go deep.


Every time I teach a story structure class it’s always fantastic for me to hear people’s lists, one after another, because it gives me such an insight into the particular uniqueness of the stories each of those writers is working toward telling.


You need to create your list, and break those stories down to see whythey have such an impact on you – because that’s the kind of impact that you want to have on your readers. My list isn’t going to do that for you. Our tastes and writing and themes and turn-ons are too different – even if they’re very similar.

So try it:


> ASSIGNMENT: Analyze your master list of stories. What does the list say about the stories, themes and characters that most appeal to you?



- Alex

Via: Alexandra Sokoloff

    

Whatever It Is, Blame Obama

By JD Rhoades
The Pilot Newspaper: Opinion

The recent spate of stories coming out of the NFL regarding domestic violence, child abuse and other nastiness on the home front has led to a great deal of soul-searching and debate across this country.

What is the cause of all of this? Does our culture’s adoration of professional athletes lead them to believe they can get away with anything? Is it a symptom of some deeper societal problem?
To the right wing, however, the answer is clear, as it always is when the question “Who or what should we be angry at for this?” is raised. That answer is: President Barack Obama.
Fox News-harpy Andrea Tantaros, for example, leapt right to the attack after the now-infamous tape surfaced showing Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee’s lights out.
“I wanna know, where is the president on this one?” fumed Tantaros from inside the cloud of peevishness that enshrouds her at all times. “My question is, and not to bring it back to politics, but this is a White House that seems to bring up a ‘war on women’ every other week.”
Yeah, Andrea. We certainly wouldn’t want to bring it back to politics.
Meanwhile, washed-up actor Kevin Sorbo (of “Hercules” and “Andromeda” fame) tried to kick-start his new career as a right-wing wacko celeb (a la Ted Nugent, Adam Baldwin and Kirk Cameron) by going on Fox and parroting the same line.
“There’s no accountability in the White House with Benghazi, the IRS and all that kind of stuff,” he explained. “How do we expect to have accountability with something like a professional football team?”
The National Review’s Jim Geraghty went even further. He blamed not only the NFL’s failure to act promptly on the Rice scandal, but a laundry list of other bad things, on “The Obama Era of American Leadership.”
Those bad things ranged from GM’s recall of 2.6 million cars with defective ignition switches, to the chemical spill in West Virginia that poisoned the drinking water of 300,000 people, to NBC’s decision to hire Chelsea Clinton for “$600,000 a year for three years.” (I’m still scratching my head over why he’s so cheesed off about that last one.)
As I’ve pointed out before in this column, the right has even found ways to blame Barack Obama for the failed response to Hurricane Katrina (which occurred three years before Obama’s first election win); the recession that began the year before he took office; and high oil prices before the 2008 election.
Back in March of this year, former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (who used to seem like a pretty smart lady) blamed Obama for “dictators like Bashar al-Assad in Syria (who came to power in 2000) and Vladimir Putin in Russia (who first became president of that country in 1999).”
It’s a time-honored technique. Make your gripes about “leadership” or “tone-setting” broad enough, and you can blame the president for just about everything:
“I’m sorry, ma’am, we know you came in for a tonsillectomy, but we, um, amputated your left leg. We blame Obama’s lack of leadership. Gee, thanks, Obama!”
“Yeah, Your Honor, I beat up an elderly African-American storekeeper and robbed his cash register. If Obama hadn’t inflamed racial tensions by commenting on the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases, I wouldn’t have been so angry. Gee, thanks, Obama!”
“Yeah, I showed up three hours late for work, I smell like a distillery, and there’s an unconscious stripper in the back seat of my car in the parking lot. I’ve just been really depressed lately over Obama’s lack of accountability. Oh, I’m fired? Gee, thanks, Obama!”
And so on.
Sadly, it’s not just the right-wingers who blame Obama for everything. Far too many on the left are prone to what blogger Oliver Willis has dubbed “Green Lantern Liberalism”: the idea that, like the nearly omnipotent comic book character, the president could create all the things they want — single-payer health care, banking reform, minimum wage increases — through the sheer force of his will if he just wanted it enough.
Thankfully, the president isn’t omnipotent. He can’t travel through time. He’s not responsible for domestic violence, chemical spills, the fact that Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin are brutal thugs, or the fact that the Middle East is the same tangled mess it’s been for more than 2,000 years.
He’s not responsible for Republican obstructionism or the weak-kneed Democrats who fear it. That’s just the hand he was dealt, and he’s playing it pretty well, despite the silliness of the far right and their lapdog news network.

Via: J.D. Rhoades

    

Fall sales and Nanowrimo prep

By noreply@blogger.com (Alexandra Sokoloff)

Alexandra Sokoloff

Happy Fall! (That’s Autumn over here in Scotland, as my Scottish friends keep reminding me….)

This is a hugely overextended – I mean exciting – time of year for me because October means spooky books. This autumn I’m running some fantastic sales on my Haunted thrillers throughout October.
Today and tomorrow you can get The Unseen for just 99 cents. This spooky thriller is based on the real life, world-famous Rhine parapsychology experiments that took place at Duke University in the 1960′s.

The sale will go on with the price slowly rising for a week, then I’ll be announcing sales for more books. At various times during the month you’ll be able to pick up The Harrowing, The Price, The Space Between and Book of Shadows for Kindle, at prices ranging from just 99 cents to $2.99.

Amazon US – 99 cents

After experiencing a precognitive dream that shatters her engagement and changes her life forever, young California psychology professor Laurel MacDonald decides to get a fresh start by taking a job at Duke University in North Carolina. She soon becomes obsessed with the long-buried files from the world-famous Rhine parapsychology experiments, which attempted to prove if ESP really exists.
Laurel reluctantly teams up with charismatic rival professor Ian Brady and the two uncover disturbing reports, including a mysterious case of a house supposedly haunted by a poltergeist, investigated by another research team in 1965. The two professors and two exceptionally gifted Duke students move into the grand, abandoned mansion to replicate the investigation, unaware that the entire original team ended up insane… or dead.

“Sokoloff keeps her story enticingly ambiguous, never clarifying until the climax whether the unfolding weirdness might be the result of the investigators’ psychic sensitivities or the mischievous handiwork of a human villain.”
– Publisher’s Weekly

“Sokoloff shines, and deserves kudos for her crisp, direct style, excellent characterization, and for weaving the real life history of the Duke Rhine lab into her own fictional landscape.”

– Horrorworld

“This spine-tingling story has every indication of becoming a horror classic… a chillingly dark look into the unknown.”

– Romantic Times Book Reviews, 4 ½ stars

Nanowrimo!
October is also the month I do my annual Nanowrimo prep series, right here on this blog.

For the authors and aspiring authors who are contemplating participating in the divine madness that is National Novel Writing Month (in November), I always do a brainstorming and story structure review series in October, and continue throughout November with prompts and encouragement, based on my Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workbooks and workshops.

Because if you’re going to put a month aside to write 50,000 words, doesn’t it make a little more sense to have worked out the outline, or at least an overall roadmap, before November 1? I am pretty sure that far more writing, and far more professional writing, would get done in November if Wrimos took the month of October to really think out some things about their story and characters, and where the whole book is going. It doesn’t have to be the full-tilt-every-day frenzy that November will be, but even a half hour per day in October, even fifteen minutes a day, thinking about what you really want to be writing – would do your potential novel worlds of good.



Of course you can start work now with either of the Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workbooks – $2.99 and $3.99.




- Amazon US

- Amazon UK

- Amaxon DE

- Amazon FR

- Amazon ES

- Amazon IT


- Smashwords (includes online viewing and pdf file)

- Amazon US

- Barnes & Noble/Nook

- Amazon UK

- Amazon DE


Via: Alexandra Sokoloff

    

9.24.14 - On Starting

By JT Ellison

Novel the 16th is underway. I feel like I need to start marking these moments as they happen – beginnings, and endings. So here’s a shot of my word counter at the end of today’s two writing sessions. I did 600 this morning, just spit them out, then had an interview that went longer than either of us expected, then took care of a few things (ahem… drinking tea and playing catch with the cats) before I returned to the manuscript and tossed down another 700. Perhaps not the most lightning strike of first days, but I’ll take it. Stephen King says it best:

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

It’s so true. I am always terrified of starting. Granted, Catherine and I have been massaging the plot for this book for a couple of weeks now, and will continue to do so, probably until the very end. And I have a 20 page synopsis done and 20 pages of notes, but the actual words, the opening line, the beginning – that’s what’s so freaking scary to me.

Oh, yes, it might do to mention this is the new Nicholas Drummond novel – the third in the series. Number two, THE LOST KEY, comes out Tuesday (“WHAT?” you say. “I hadn’t heard…”) and I refuse to be cowed by the good reviews and responses like I did when I was starting THE FINAL CUT. Oh, did I not mention that lovely bit of writerly neurosis? Yes, well. Now you know.

One of my favorite reader questions is which book is my favorite? For me, it’s the one that’s just released, because there’s no more pressure, no more worry and anticipation. It’s out in the world doing it’s thing, and officially out of the my fiddling writer’s hands.

So until Tuesday, I will fret and bite my nails and drive you mad on social media and hope that the new book is well-received, but whilst I’m worrying, I’m going to keep my head down and keep on writing the next one.

Because that’s what we do. We write, in the face of fear and anxiety, pain and illness, joy and sorrow.

We write.

And so it begins…

Via: JT Ellison

    

OMG OMG OMG WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE AAAAAAAAAH!

By JD Rhoades
The Pilot Newspaper: Opinion

Anyone who says that President Barack Obama is not doing enough about ISIS, ISIL, whatever they call themselves, should be required to answer one simple question or forever hold their peace:

Do you or do you not advocate sending American ground combat troops into Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS? Yes or no?
Let’s make no mistake: These ISIS people are bad news. They’re so vicious and crazy even al-Qaida disowned them. They’ve committed horrific atrocities against American and British citizens, not to mention against thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of their fellow Muslims.
They do not, however, pose a significant threat at this time to the U.S. homeland. Don’t just take my word for it. This is the assessment of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Pentagon, even though Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel did allow as how they may threaten our interests abroad.
That doesn’t stop the usual hysterical ranting from the usual gang of warmongers. Sen. Lindsey Graham, for example, looked as if he was about to bust a blood vessel on Fox News Sunday as he demanded ground troops, ground troops and more ground troops, while railing that President Obama “needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.”
Really? They’re going to kill all 314 million of us? No, Graham insists, it’s actually worse. According to him, ISIL, left unchecked, will “open the gates of hell to spill out on the world. … This is ISIL versus mankind.”
Meanwhile, you can always count on our old pal John McCain, a guy who never saw a crisis he didn’t want to carpet-bomb.
“We are now facing an existential threat to the security of the United States of America,” McCain said, possibly because he doesn’t understand what the words “existential threat” actually mean. Either that or he doesn’t care about anything other than the fact that the words sound scary.
It’s all poppycock. Also, codswallop and balderdash.
ISIS/ISIL doesn’t threaten the existence of the United States, which is what the words “existential threat” mean. They don’t hold the keys to “the gates of hell” like the Big Bad in a second-rate horror flick.
Yes, they need to be dealt with, before they get big enough to actually do some real damage to us. That’s going to take exactly the sort of broad-based plan we’re engaged in now: diplomacy with our allies who actually are on the front lines, combined with training and support for the people who rightly should be fighting the war for Iraq and Syria, namely Iraqis and Syrians.
It’s fear-mongering, pure and simple, from the party that realizes every issue it has counted on up to now to bring down the president and defeat his party has fizzled.
Obamacare is working as more and more people get access to health care. A Republican-led committee finally had to admit that its investigation of the Benghazi murders revealed no wrongdoing on the part of the administration. The economy continues to improve as the Dow rises and the jobless rate falls. And so on.
So they fall back on their tried and true tactic: scaring people into believing that Daddy McCain and Momma Lindsey and all their Republican pals will take care of us against the Scary Brown Supervillains Who Will Kill Us All. Pay no attention to how many of our own sons and daughters will be killed, maimed or broken to pay the cost of another war. After all, it won’t be their kids or grandkids bleeding and dying.
The kind of sustained freak-out the right is engaging in right now over an exaggerated threat is exactly the same sort of madness that led to this mess in the first place. Letting terrorists — well, terrorize us into committing troops to another quagmire in the Middle East is playing right into their hands.
They’d like nothing better than to have American troops in Iraq and Syria so they could go back to slowly bleeding us with IEDs and suicide bombers, while our inevitable reaction creates more and more resentment among the locals and more and more of them join the ranks of the terrorists.
Have we learned nothing?

But, hey, if the current group of Republican pols want to send division after division of Americans back into Iraq, make them say it. Don’t allow them to get away with their usual “we don’t want war, but we’ll call anything else failure” nonsense. Make them own up to it. See how the American people like them then.

Via: J.D. Rhoades

    

9.18.14 - On Git 'Er Done!*

By JT Ellison

Productivity is sometimes my strong suit. I love making lists and checking things off. It gives me a perverse kind of pleasure, a little internal nanny-nanny-boo-boo to the forces of resistance that seem to hover around the edges of my world. I’ve even been known to add something to my To Do list that’s already complete simply for the pleasure of marking it off the list.

Today was banner day for getting things done. I finished a minor technical revision on WHAT LIES BEHIND – changes based on an experts input on the science of the book, and sent it to my editor. I started the research for the new Nicholas Drummond novel. I also started the synopsis/narrative/outline of the story, but there’s a bit more research to do for it to make much sense.

And I achieved the gold standard of productivity – Inbox Zero. [direct link]

I’m beside myself with excitement. I’ve had 50 or so emails tagging around with me for the past month, and another 50 starred, which is my way of saying they’re too important to be out of my line of sight for one reason or another, and I haven’t had the time to sit down, go through them systematically, answering or archiving or deleting. But it’s all clean now.

I’m going to give credit where credit is due – I use Gmail, and have for years. For a very long time I’ve been looking for a way to seamlessly incorporate my Gmail into my Mac. I’ve used Sparrow for years, but it’s getting long in the tooth. Apple mail is hideous, and doesn’t work at all with my archival system, which, I will admit, is rather extensive. (I blame it on all those years interning – they LOVED to have me file things. OCD much?) I tried a couple of ways to get directly into my Gmail from my dock, to limited success.

Then today, in a fit of despair, I hit the right terms on google and up popped Mailplane [direct link].

It’s expensive. And I balk at the idea of paying for what’s essentially a webmail link. But I downloaded the free trial, and oh, my. It’s perfect. Immediate access, and I don’t have to go online to get into my mail, which lets me focus on what I’m doing instead of trolling around.

I know this is going to help me rock my new productivity plans. And I proved myself right by getting to Inbox Zero.

Got some more good news today on the Nicholas Drummond front – THE LOST KEY got a brilliant starred review from Library Journal, and THE FINAL CUT paperback will be #7 on this week’s New York Times and #30 on USA Today. It’s also #9 on the iBooks list.

Now I’m going to go make chicken soup and bask in the glory of emptiness. I have a lovely weekend of research ahead, plus more cleaning of the house, hanging pictures and gardening and mulching. (I’ll be watching Randy do that, probably.)

I hope you have something fun planned too!

*Also knows as GTD – Get Things Done – the brilliant task management system I try to employ.

Via: JT Ellison

    

9.16.14 - On New Beginnings

By JT Ellison

Well, hello there! Long time no chat. Trust me when I say I’ve been up to my ears in work – and a bit of play, as well.

So, to catch you up if you aren’t on FB – WHAT LIES BEHIND is D.O.N.E. – and has been accepted by my editor, who really liked it. Will wonders never cease? And I mean that truthfully – I don’t think I’ve ever had such a difficult time with a book, and it took me literally until the 11th hour to get the story to come together properly, but the 5 months (5 MONTHS!) of work paid off. That book comes out in June (5.26.15 to be specific) and I’m incredibly proud of how it finally came together. Huge props to my husband and my BFF Laura Benedict for shepherding me through the process. And of course, all of you.

I did things differently this time, too. Usually my beta readers see the book before my editor, but this time, they’re going to see the last version prior to copyedit. I like shaking things up!

And so now it’s on to Nicholas Drummond #3. I had a week off between finishing WLB and flying to Cali to start ND#3 ( we have some titles, but none have been finalized yet.) I got back home Friday, spent the weekend putting my poorly neglected house and yard back to rights, spent yesterday cleaning my office, which, I must say, looks quite divine now, with everything put away and organized, and downloading research articles and books. I have a steep learning curve on this new book, so I actually have to do research prior to starting to write.

After a few weeks away from the craziness that was August, with the travel and the deadline, my schedule got all sorts of shook up. So I’m taking advantage of that to make some changes to how I work.

Sunday was my first SIS – Sunday Internet Sabbatical. It wasn’t as difficult as I expected. Since I’ve been on the road, I’ve been online in snatches, so I didn’t really miss it. I’m looking forward to the unplugged day, and I’m also not going to write on the weekends anymore. I feel like all I’m doing is working, as my house’s sad demeanor can attest to. I didn’t even play golf this summer, which is a travesty. So, let’s change that. Check.

I’m also trying to turn my laptop into my creative workstation, and do all my business on my desktop. And… doing an hour of business, then walking away. I am the worst about trying to sandwich in every single little thing that needs to be done to clear my plate for the writing, which oftentimes leaves me at 4 or 5 in the evening having accomplished a great deal, but none of it fiction. Which is my real job.

So the plan is, I will limit the online business time to 3 times a day – 9am, lunchtime, and early evening – and then it goes off. No more answering email at 11 p.m. Check.

And, since I’m finding so much inspiration these days, I’m going to start sharing some with you. My buddy Anna Benjamin sent me a box full, and they are lovely and profound. I will be using them as inspiration, and I hope you like them too. Ergo: see above.

So how about you? What have you been up to?

Via: JT Ellison

    

An Open Letter to Mr. Obama

By JD Rhoades
Pilot Newspaper: Opinion

Dear Mr. President:

I heard recently that you plan to delay any executive action on immigration, such as delaying deportation of child refugees, until after the November elections — this in spite of your stated intention earlier to do something by the “end of the summer.”

I’m sure your advisers told you that this would be a smart political move. You may even believe it yourself. Well, they’re wrong, and so are you if you buy into that.
Oh, sure, it’s true that some of the more hotly contested races that could determine control of the Senate are in so-called “red” states. I know it looks like a bad idea to rile up the Republican “base” of xenophobes, bigots, Fox News-addicted outrage junkies, and various other angry, frightened old white dudes. My stars, taking executive action might even upset them enough to get to the polls to vote against Democrats.
But here’s the thing, Mr. President: They’re going to get riled up no matter what you do or don’t do. Riled up is their default state. They’ve been in a state of apoplectic rage since Nov. 4, 2008, when you sent the poster child for angry old white dudes and his empty-headed snowbilly running mate packing.
It only got worse four years later, when their supposed savior, Lord Mitt Romney, couldn’t get out of the way of his own feet and stumbled to a humiliating loss that everyone except them could see coming. All you have to do to upset the Republican base and get them to the polls is be a black Democrat in the White House.
You don’t believe me when I say that trying not to upset the Raging Right is a sucker’s game? Check out Newt Gingrich, who went on CNN’s “State of the Union” to call you “cowardly” and “indecisive” for delaying taking action on immigration.
Of course, no one on the program bothered to point out that on Aug. 3, Newt called such action “unconstitutional” and an example of “the Venezuelan-style, anything-I-want-is-legal presidency.
Look at the House, where the speaker, John Boehner, urged you to act on immigration “without the need for congressional action,” the day after his caucus voted to sue you for acting without congressional action — to delay implementation of a law that they repeatedly voted to repeal.
You cannot placate these people. You cannot calm them down, especially since there’s a billion-dollar industry dedicated to keeping them angry and so afraid of everything that they’re convinced that they’ll be robbed, raped or killed if they don’t have a gun on them every time they leave the house.
Instead of trying to soothe the Republican base, why don’t you pay some attention to your own? You seem so worried at the prospect of right-wingers going to the polls that you’re forgetting the people you need to go there.
Latinos, of course, are the fastest growing demographic in the nation. You also need to get young people fired up. But what I’m hearing from them is a growing sense of frustration, complaints that “politicians are all the same,” and a general apathy about voting.
Dems will probably still get a goodly portion of the female vote, but that’s mainly because several Republicans will inevitably say something incredibly stupid, misogynistic, or patronizing toward women before it’s over. But we need the rest of the constituency, too. So now is not the time for half-measures.
I know, Mr. President, that you’re called “No Drama Obama.” But maybe it’s time for something dramatic. For starters, use the power you have as the executive to delay or defer the deportation of refugee children.
For all the caterwauling about “tyranny” (which, remember, they’re going to do anyway), that power falls squarely within the scope of what’s called “prosecutorial discretion”: the recognition that you simply don’t have unlimited resources to prosecute every law, all the time, so the executive branch can allocate those resources as it sees fit. Prosecutorial discretion has long been recognized by the courts as a legitimate use of executive power.
The Teahadists have threatened impeachment if you try that? Let ‘em bring it. Lawsuits? Bring those on, too.
Iowa Rep. Steve King has raised the idea of another government shutdown in protest if you take executive action. Tell him, “Please proceed, Congressman.” Because if there’s one thing that will get wavering Democrats and independents off the couch and into the voting booths, it’ll be the spectacle of the wingnuts once again waving their torches and pitchforks and threatening to destroy the country in order to save it.

So do the right thing, Mr. President, and dare the Republicans to do something about it. Thank you, and God bless.

Via: J.D. Rhoades

    

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