Creating Empires, My Books

The Chopping Block

I have written two complete books. The third is in the works. The first two have been published (as some of you know). And yet, and yet!!! They still aren’t perfect. Not even perfect . . . they still aren’t ready.

Maybe I’ll be one of those rare, unusual authors that is never satisfied, but there is no last word. The end is not necessarily the end. A book. Published. Finish. Done. Gone. Irrevocable.

Nah, just kidding.

Having learned so much about writing in the 3’d book, I’d be remiss if I didn’t observe how faulty the first one in particular is.

I have a big problem with info-dumping. A habit I no doubt learned from timeless classics such as made novels and the art of writing novels great and beautiful.

There is doubtless a difference between the style of writing from a hundred years ago and that of today.

My acceptance of the more modern styles is hypocritical at best. I truly enjoy classic books, the flavor of the words they used, and the creativity that spawned generations of imagination. I love the complexity of language and, yes, the info-dumping. However, there are many current authors I am a fan of also and the excellence of storytelling has not been detracted.

So what to do.

Here I seek a happy medium to satisfy my loves of language, storytelling, and fast-paced action, and yes, to satisfy my hypocrisy and make me feel like the finer points of language have not been lost forever.

And then we come to the chopping block, bringing my first book back into the fire. Forging it anew, hopefully better. I want to push it to the best it can be, and suit it for the market of readers I want to reach.

Creating Empires

Uncommon Sounds

Music is commonplace to most of us. We listen on our ipods and computers to a plethora of stations on the internet. We listen on the radio when we drive to work. We listen at work. We listen if we go jogging. We listen if we go to the grocery store. Personally, I am no musician. I have dabbled, but there is no mastery in my fingers. I can listen though, and I do almost every chance I get. Quiet is as great a solace as anything on this earth, but music is special.

Like many things in this world, we casually encounter something of vast complexity, most often with little thought. How many times a day do you marvel at the subtly of an internal-combustion engine? Or of the power that water holds over us? Some things are less complicated than others . . . A guitar certainly doesn’t match up to the untold mystery behind the droplets which have journeyed to heaven and yet we drink them every day . . . or does it?

The wood was first a seed, after all. Then it was planted, very likely by a squirrel (diseased, fluffy, tree-rats that they are, they still served a purpose.) Then it was a tree, then a plank . . . then someone thought it suited the lofty purpose of making music. The grain was just so, the color was correct, the type would resonate clearly.

I say music is a lofty purpose, and I believe it. Doesn’t God have angels in heaven . . . singing? Playing stringed instruments and trumpets?

Music touches us at our very soul, so we surround ourselves with it. Quite frankly, most of it is mediocre at best, but still, it is infused in everything we do, I think because we seek that soul wrenching feeling when all the instruments are as one.

There are songs so beautifully composed they move us in our deepest thought and feeling. They take us away from this world and put us in one of peace, where there is nothing but the steady rhythm. Individually, the instruments seem unimpressive. By themselves they might seem substandard or commonplace.

But together?

Together they tie up a picture painted with sounds . . . not words . . . this is no thousand words to paint a picture. This is sound conjuring up an image you didn’t know you had. And this image is plucked out by the skillful fingers of musicians, pounding on metal and wood.

Together these musicians, proving their mastery in their chosen arts, are able to tease emotion with sound.

Two, three, four . . . five instruments weave a tapestry. It blinds us to anything else and we must listen for it has touched our soul. We trust these sounds; they will lead us on a journey. Our minds must follow where the music leads and it is an exquisite adventure.

Perhaps there is a voice in there too. If it is the correct piece, that voice is complimented by the sounds. Only a single cord in a human throat, next to the relative diversity of a bass, six, or twelve string guitar. But it is stitched together with the instruments and it tells a story, this time a story we can fully understand, one that is grounded in our world, but the rest . . .

The rest is still a sublime journey, lending mystery, gravity, or perhaps calm, to a story recited in harmony . . . we call it a song.

Creating Empires

A Golden Word

Words are the crux of why we write. They are the means, the inspiration, the very method of our understanding. Without them we don’t have idioms, sarcasm (too much, you say? Nah.), or the eloquent expression we all find so dear. We have such freedom as to use them any way we choose. Can they be foul, misused, or even mediocre? Yes! But for the muck we must slog through in the everyday vernacular, it makes the gems of shining truth and beauty so much more precious. If mountains were diamonds, granite would be a prized possession.

Without words we do not have poetry. We do not have songs. We don’t get to tell someone we love them. We don’t get to argue whether or not the book was better than the movie (The Princess Bride: movie wins!).


Yes, we can even be grateful for English; bi-polar, hoodlum language that it is. Without it reading the dictionary would be much more straightforward (wait… is dictionary reading not normal?).

So here it is, my precious gem this week. The one diamond I prized above the rest.


This word we take to mean something overlain with gold leaf.

But it can also mean blood spattered, or even ruddy.

The controversy in these definitions is not lost on me. Where they could possibly intersect is where I become a bit confused.

Creating Empires, Writing Redneck

Like the Wind

“Like the wind” to me is a poignant metaphor. The wind has a distinct affect on everything. Snow drifts in the winter. Sand drifts year round in places like the Sahara, in places like Moab, Utah it has carved the distinctive red rock into soaring arches.

Yeah, wind did that. Not alone of course… but still.

However, as I have found, most people don’t like the wind. It makes us cold in the winter, biting through even the most secure layers of clothing, scarves, hats, and gloves and even our very skin and muscle to penetrate into our bones.

In the summer (if you live in a desert) it can cause dust storms, which impairs driving.

In certain areas, it adjoins microburst storms and rips trees from the ground as if they were no heavier than plastic toys. It can crush awnings and send carports sailing through the sky.

What is there to like?

How about the cooling effect when the sun is hot and you’ve still got a half a mile to hike out?

The ripple on a lake or in a meadow where you can see the wind coming before it ever gets to you?

Give a thought to how it feels when the weather is just right and the wind brushes gently by.

The sound of wind in pine trees is one of the most peaceful to me.

Creating Empires

“Walking…” in a winter wonderland?


Hey, don’t get me wrong. I love winter as much as the next gal! Can I get an “Amen”?

I mean hot chocolate, sliding really fast down a precipitous hill, cider, Christmas!!!


Plus I get to heat my house with real wood, which we harvested. (And yes, it did warm me up three times before it actually made it into the stove.) Love winter. It is a beautiful wonderful thing that I could just stare at for hours without looking away.

It is terrific for a good writing prompt. Animal tracks, the subtleties of keeping warm, snow laying gently on pine needles only to be shaken loose at the slightest breath of air, cascading instead down the trunk as fine powder, disintegrated by the tree stirring… (OK, not bad. I think I’ll use that.)

But lets get real folks, walking in a winter wonderland is a misguiding cliche. I mean does anybody really walk? Its more like trudging honestly. Which is great fun! I love piling up drifts with my boots.

And there’s a kind of high-stepping sway run you have to do if you run through the snow. Everyone does it… “Knees to the chest now ya’ll!”

Something else not discussed is the “Sinking to the hip in the snow” which is what happened when I caught this picture.


Now I could have put on waterproof pants. I could have put on water proof gloves, too. But then we wouldn’t have really taken a close look at the nuances of misguided cliches… so all around it was a rousing success. Sure my pants were all wet and my boots filled up with snow, but I’m willing to make sacrifices to experience true beauty.

Creating Empires, Writing Redneck

Painted with an Outline


When we really begin to break down the fundamentals of the matter, we discover that a wall isn’t just a wall. It is a protector, a guide, an insulator, and the means by which we have the colloquial “roof over our head.”

It is also what a writer generally sits around looking at, searching deep into paint and wallboard for answers. (If you’re lucky enough you look at brick or logs, which tend to yield more inspiration.)

But walls don’t have to be just paint and the odd family photo (seriously, those things can be strange.) They can have more secrets on them than the bottom of the ocean and provide you with a window into your own mind. They are reflective and probably the most thoughtful surface in the house. (My conclusion being that windows are jovial and ignorant that you are trying to focus. Ceilings are stern and studious in their own way, but are too caught up in their own job to give heed to you. Floors are ridiculous and cause more problems than they solve. They put shoes and blankets in your way when you’re trying to pace and completely ignore you. For heaven’s sake! I just want to walk around . . . in the dark . . . and my floor just up and decides to move the desk three inches to the left.)

If you want my advice, post your story outlines on your walls. Even your pictures that you drew to inspire you or to really get a grasp of what your scene should look like. You may not like the way your drawings look and people will definitely stand in your house or your bedroom and wonder if you’ve flipped your lid. But who cares about them, your brain is working overtime just to keep track of your story, so don’t worry about keeping track of your papers too.

Your walls are your friends, use them to the best of your ability.

(Tape is a really good friend, too. Tape kind of sticks all the papers together and because carpenters and homeowners can be really finicky about holes, it is a nice solution for keeping paper on the walls.)