Friday, March 6, 2009

Moved to a new home

Packed up my bags and moved to Beverly...

I've created a new blog with a new domain name, so future posts can be found at Writer's Mojo.

Y'all come back now, you hear?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A new writing apprenticeship

Now that my end-of-year technical writing projects have scared me half to death and now gone, I can return to making posts to this blog.

During the holidays I reflected on what I'd like to achieve this year, and dang it, I still have story ideas which I haven't put down on paper yet, so this year I'm determined to do it.

When I got started in technical writing I had the good fortune of having an experienced technical writer mentor me into the business. He gave me plenty of samples of his work and the work of others and I got a feel for what was involved. I even picked up on his healthy cynicism about working with engineers, and to this day that has helped me not get emotionally attached to specifications. Nothing is ever as initially promised.

But for fiction writing however, I haven't had that same regular exposure to someone working in the business, apart from the occasional seminar which I've written about before.

Last year I discovered one full-time fiction writer who has created what looks like a comprehensive mentorship program into living day by day as a fiction writer. This is just like what I had on the job when I became a technical writer. So maybe this well work for me as well.

I considered doing an MA in creative writing at a local university, but the costs are exorbitant and I'm not sure if it would really give me what I'm after.

Holly Lisle on the other hand is a full-time novelist (her books are everywhere) and the cost of her program is peanuts compared to other writing programs.

My plan is work through her course at my own pace as the year progresses and attempt to develop this side of my writing.

Check back to see how I progress.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pay the Writer

Harlan Ellison is tapping into my own view about writing. It's hard work that should be paid for.

Plus it's a great rant.

I'm still of the view that the only benefit to writing for free is for the practice.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The value of blogging

Two minds about blogging

I realized that one reason I haven't made many posts to this blog is that I object to writing "for free." 
I'm accustomed to be paying paid to write, so what's the value in working for free?
One aspect I hadn't considered is that blogging can be a way to improve my writing. The posts can remain short, but it is an easy way to practice. Writing begets better writing.
So with that in mind I've started looking at blogging more seriously.

I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Growing up with Adolf Hitler

I know it's politically incorrect, but when I was growing up, my Austrian father (who sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger) would occasionally impersonate Adolf Hitler. He would froth at the mouth, girate his hands in the air and begin a tirade in German, but then he'd always burst out laughing.

To watch these Hitleresque renditions as a kid was the funniest thing.

So when I came across the above video, it took me back to those happy days of Nazi-parody.

I was pleased to see that I'm not the only one who can see the lighter side of Hitler's public performances.

Monday, July 28, 2008

E-books and book fairs

It must be heaven, all those books!

A previous e-book seminar student of mine, Jane Schauer, wrote to me about her recent experiences at a book fair in the US.
It is my opinion that authors already have the best distribution channel already at their finger-tips for the distribution of their own digital products: the internet, but Jane's experiences might be of interest to others.
It thrills me to see people I've taught move ahead with their projects.
Here is Jane's new web site:
Attending BookExpo America
by Jane Schauer
As a new publisher I thought I would mark my publishing debut by having a stand at this year’s BookExpo America. It is the second largest annual trade book show in the world (Frankfurt is the largest) and I thought readers might be interested in knowing about it.
Each year the show is held in a different U.S. city and this year it was held in Los Angeles in June. One of the main aims of BookExpo is for publishers to be able to showcase their works (including audio and e-books) to trade book buyers, such as book stores and librarians. However, interested members of the public can also attend the show.
The main activities at the very well organised show were:
  • publishers and writers displaying their works in exhibition halls
  • talks and book signings given by famous writers
  • expert panels conducting education seminars on the publishing trade
  • networking and rights selling
The show this year was huge and rather overwhelming (over 37,000 attended). It took me an hour and half just to walk around the exhibition halls without stopping to chat. Two highlights were Ted Turner launching his biography and Salman Rushdie signing his books.
I had a stand in the independent publishers’ row, which I found I was stuck on most of the time. When the show is in New York next year I will probably not have a stand, instead I will put my books in the show’s New Title Show Case. Then I will be able to attend seminars and network.
If you are interested in the show and are wondering about costs, this year they were in US dollars:
  • to be an attendee for 3 days (including education seminars) was $225 (cheaper day only tickets were available)
  • to be an exhibitor with a provided stand in the independent publisher’s row $2,810 or in the writer’s row $ 1,697
  • to display books in the New Titles Show Case was $210 per title (you don’t need to attend the show to display books and you can also send your books to other book shows for cheaper costs)
You can find out more by visiting the show’s website You can also contact me at

Who would think of this at the beach: managing documentation projects

Writing Projects

How long is this thing?

I recently attended the AODC 2008 conference on the Gold Coast, which by the way, is a great place for a conference for the early morning walks along the beach.

The presentation I most wanted to hear was called 'Estimating Documentation Projects' by Stewart Walker.

I was interested in this topic because many of the projects I have worked on have the notorious habit of 'scope-creep,' whereby the project gets bigger and bigger, but the deadline doesn't move!

Stewart's talk combined two methods that are commonly employed by project managers in documentation projects: the cradle to grave metrics model advocated by JoAnn Hackos in her book Managing Your Documentation Projects, and the bottom-up, task by task method that makes it easier to manage the work on a day-by-day basis.

The beauty of this approach is that you get the benefits of both, which I hadn't considered before.

A fellow technical writer, Sarah Maddox, wrote copious notes at the conference and posted them on her blog for us all to see: