Month: May 2014

Word Arsenal 4

It’s round four in the word war – time to break out the big guns. It’s all about superior firepoAnimals-Squirrels-Bazooka-485x728wer in this installment. Feeling like that first guy who brought a gun to a sword fight, or a cannon to a castle wall. This word is like having a bazooka on your shoulder when the savages are charging on horseback. You feel pretty good about your chances, I think, calm, unperturbed by the wild ululations of the painted-faced hordes. You watch with mild amusement, disdain, even, as they raise their spears and shake fists at you, and then… fwoosh! Splat. Horse bits raining down, a fine red mist in the air.

That’s what this word is all about: (more…)

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Word Arsenal 3

It’s time to fight dirty. No, we’re not going to sucker-punch or pull the proverbial hockey-jersey over anyone’s head. Nothing like that. This will be much more fun. More arousing.

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We all need a word or two like this in our arsenal: a word to tickle our tongues, to savor; a quadrisyllabic, orgasmic firecracker of a word; a word so fun to say it’s banned in 43 States. (more…)

Word Arsenal 2

To Arms!

The second installment in our lexicographical armory comes from fellow blogger and logophile, John Robin, who suggested a few doozies in Word Arsenal 1.  Many thanks John!


One in particular caught my fancy, for its unassuming I’m-not-trying-to-impress-you-ness (is there a word for that?), for the way it sneaks up on you, its shiftiness. It’s a big word in a small package, a dagger of a word, stealthy and sharp – they’ll never see this one coming.  (more…)

Why Can’t You Be a Plotter and a Pantser both?

In this business we’re all a little odd, some more so than others, and we each have our own peculiar way of doing things, don’t we? A little bit of lunacy is a prerequisite, I think, to even consider embarking on a project as daunting and all-consuming as a novel.

There is a great deal of chatter out there in the ether about this plotting vs pantsing business, and on which side we happen to fall.

For some, a book’s plot is hatched whole in a revelatory flash – driving, or on the toilet, perhaps – and they have only to pull over safely, or make a mad dash with pants around ankles for a notepad, or a computer, or lipstick on a wall to capture it. And they’re off – the thing unfolds largely as they’ve mapped it. For others, it might be a character or two who pop into their minds, say hello, have a little chat (the line between writer and schizo is nebulous), and they seem like interesting folks, worth getting to know, so the conversation is continued on paper, or onscreen, to see where it leads. Both approaches have yielded astonishing works – the trick is to figure out, before you write half-a-draft and are forced to start over, which works the best for you. Perhaps, like me, you’re a little bit of both?  (more…)

Word Arsenal 1

Vocabulary is the writer’s sword. Interesting words, when employed properly, arm our prose with creative expression. But like any weapon they should not be wielded without practice, without a measure of competence, as they can just as easily cleave a sentence and leave it bleeding on the page. download


In the Word Arsenal section the goal is to seize new arms, and make them yours. You only retain new words through repetition, through looking them up and using them in a sentence of your own. (more…)

Motivation for a Smart-Phone Addict

Every writer photo 1 (2)struggles with motivation. How do you keep your ass in the chair day after day? How do you force yourself to open that chapter that’s been giving you hell, and keep at it? You’d rather cut your toenails, or take out the garbage than beat your head against a stubborn manuscript. Or maybe, like me, you’d rather play games on your phone. Hitting a new high score feels good, gives you a sense of accomplishment, of being in control. There are measurable results, and tangible rewards. The joy of competition.

The dangers of smart-phones are probably best left for another post, but the time I wasted on mine clued me in to something about myself: I need competition, even if it’s only me I’m competing against. I need that measurable result (never mind that finishing a rough draft is the ultimate measurable result – it’s too long term for the day-to-day gratification I crave). I need to see my high scores, and better them. I need targets, ones I can hit every day, to give me that warm fuzzy about this brutal business of writing. (more…)

The Point of this Blog

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If you’re like me writing is not a choice.

It is something you must do, a compulsion, as essential to your life and well-being as air, or water, or sex. We’ve all tried holding our breath, or felt the cottony sludge of a parched throat; don’t even tell me you haven’t had a lull in the sack. (more…)