Archive for the ‘CYA News’ Category

I was glad to see folks enjoying the last few blog posts.  I hope you guys know that I write this stuff for you.  I’d be pretty conceited if I spouted this nonsense because I thought you should live the way I do.  My whole focus for writing to begin with is to relay my own personal experiences with things and maybe, just maybe, someone else out there might pick up a nugget or two that will help them as well.

As an FYI, for the next issue we’ll take a break from the book writing topic and pick it back up the following issue.  This book-writing series has many facets to it, I want to make sure to still give time to other topics along the way.

The Outline is Crucial, but it Also Isn’t
I’ve read a ton of different books on writing and was surprised to find that the outline seems to be one of the most disagreed-upon topics.  I wouldn’t call it controversial because to me the whole argument seems rather silly.  From what I can tell, the debate seems to boil down to personal preference.  One person will construct a detailed outline before ever typing the words, “Once upon a time…” while another will start with a single thought and just go.  Even the heavy hitters differ on this point.  Best-selling author Thomas F. Monteleone has never done an outline whereas Ted Dekker will generate a 40-page ‘story document’ for each book that describes every major plot point and provides background to every setting and character. (more…)

Apparently, this last week I had a major brain malfunction (see Vol. 3, Issue 4) and forgot to post this.  No excuses, no busy schedule really.  I just flat out forgot.  My apologies for the mental lapse.  Hopefully, we can keep it from happening in the future.

The Writer’s Greatest Resource

Ideas won’t keep, something must be done about them. – Alfred North Whitehead

I spoke last issue about having the right mental attitude.  While I spoke on it as a first topic, it’s usually not the first thing people think about when they want to write.  A person will get the itch to write when an idea of some kind strikes them, and they want to turn that idea into a story.  I started with attitude because it must must must be there before you can carry an idea through two or three hundred pages. (more…)

I could have titled this post, “How Sam Blunders His Way Through Writing His Books And Now Tries To Explain How To Do The Same,” but I dislike long titles.

Learn from the…erm…expert?
There are two things that people always seem to say when they learn you’ve written a book. The first, and most common is, “What’s it about?” My reply is usually, “Read the book and you’ll find out.” My wife is working with me to change this approach (thankfully). The next thing usually said, and to me the more curious of the two, is something like, “I could never be that creative,” or “I could never do that.” I find them curious, in either version, because they’re downright wrong. (more…)


Whoops, I was enjoying the 4th so much I almost forgot to post this. Next week’s should be earlier in the day.

Four-letter Words and Such
I do my best to keep a clean mouth. Really I do. From a communication standpoint, swearing rarely enhances any particular point you are trying to make. The overuse of profanity shows a marked lack of intelligence, too, as it’s far easier (and lazier) to just throw in a cuss word than to actually take the time to articulate your thoughts.

From a Christian’s standpoint, we are taught that “from the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” So following that line of thinking, what does that say about us when we swear? (more…)

Slight Delay

Posted: June 27, 2011 in CYA News, General
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This was supposed to have posted earlier, but I just realized that WordPress, usually very reliable, failed to publish it. As you saw, there was no post last week and there won’t be one this week either. We had a bunch of stuff break with our cars and our house all at the same time. Meanwhile, we’re also trying to get Project R finished up. Consequently, the blog has taken a backseat for the moment. I apologize for the delay in CYA News, but the posts will resume next Monday. Hopefully, we’ll get the Facebook page updates figured out as well.

Again, sorry for the delay. See you next week.

I apologize for the flip-flopping on the posting schedule. I’ve been testing things to see when the best time is to publish the posts.  We’ve also been fiddling with the Facebook fan page to get things right. Bear with me, and we’ll get it nailed down with less variation in the future.

My Mom’s Favorite Movie
There are few movies that have real staying power. I enjoy plenty of movies over a swath of different genres and even rave about some of them, but few truly stay with me long after I’ve watched them. Gladiator is one of those movies. This and The Last Samurai are my two all-time favorites. While there are some similarities between them, the differences are enough that I will cover Samurai in a later post. (more…)

Conversational FUBAR
I don’t know how often this happens to other people, but lately it’s been an issue for me. Have you ever been in a social situation and, in your mind, you respond to something in a perfectly appropriate manner, but what comes out your mouth is completely different? Take, for example, the other day at Tae Kwon Do. Throughout a single class, a typical student will say, “Yes, sir!” roughly two dozen times. We’re halfway through the class and one of those “Yes, sir!” moments comes up. And what comes out of my mouth? “Yes, ma-” I stopped halfway through the word “ma’am” because I realize there’s been a breakdown in the internal communication between my brain and my mouth. Now, you could explain this one away because a female instructor had taught the previous class I attended, but you would think a mistake like that would happen at the beginning of class, not the middle, right?

Then there are the moments when you mean to say something that has a full line of logical thinking, but what you say comes across the wrong way. At Christmas many years ago, my brother and I were to receive our own wallets. One of them was made of nice leather and had a cool strap that kept it closed. The other was a cheaper, faux-leather number, but was still fairly nice. My parents gave me first pick since I was the oldest. Now, my younger brother is horribly prone to losing things, even to this day. He’ll put something down, forget about it for about two minutes and then spend the next hour or two trying to find it. So, my thinking was that it would be less costly to my parents if the faux-leather wallet was lost than the nice (and more expensive) one. Perfectly reasonable, right? I could have explained this line of reasoning, or simply said, “I’ll take that one.” Even pointing to it and grunting would have been an acceptable option. Instead, what came out was, “I’ll take that one because it’s more expensive.” My aunt laughed her head off, and my folks chewed me out because I sounded like a total snot. They nearly made me take the cheaper one. I had to do some serious back-pedaling to explain why I said what I did.

What’s worse is when the disconnect happens, and I don’t even realize it! I’ll be rolling merrily along in a conversation with my wife, and she’ll suddenly give me a weird look. She’ll ask me what I mean, and then I – unaware that I’ve made a conversation fail – will procede to explain what I thought I said thus confusing her even more. Then she’ll say, “That’s not what you said a second ago.” Me: “I didn’t?” Her: “Um, no.” Is this an early form of aging? I am approaching 30, but I didn’t think I’d start getting senile yet.

Ugh. Well, at least I can always trust my writing to be solid, right?…Guys?

Weekly Showcase: OpenOffice
A word processor has taken the place of pen and paper, and the typewriter as the writing implement of modern-day writers of all kinds. Unfortunately, word processors can tend to be either A) very good, but very expensive or B) very cheap, but very terrible. Luckily, Sun Microsystems (now owned by Oracle) developed an open source office application package that works beautifully. The best part? It’s completely free. It boasts a collection of six applications that can be thought of as stripped down version of their Microsoft counterparts. Now, while they may have fewer advanced features than MS Office, OpenOffice keeps the lion’s share of the stuff for everyday folks like you and me.

The Writer program is their word processor, and I began using it toward the tail end of The Thief and the Red Mandolin. It made formatting so much easier and even has integrated conversion to PDF feature. This is especially helpful to me when I’m designing the final interior of a book and uploading it to CreateSpace. What’s more, it can save and open a wide variety of file formats (unlike the other word processor). But, my favorite thing is that it doesn’t try to think for you like Word does. I feel less insulted by the software. Now, it’s the only program I use for writing books. Both Istburn and Project R were written exclusively on OpenOffice Write.

Calc is OO’s spreadsheet application. It functions in much the same way as Excel, but you see more differences in the user interaction here than between Writer and Word. However, it’s still a wonderful program and fairly intuitive. I use it for our personal budget and any time I need a spreadsheet.

I haven’t really dug into the rest of the applications, but I hope to at some point. Impress is their version of PowerPoint, Base is comparable to Access, Draw is much like CorelDRAW or MS Visio, and Math is similar to MS Equation Editor.

Alrighty, this issue in now in the books. Have you had any memorable conversation goofs?

Next week: Gladiator and John C. Maxwell