Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Reader's Perspective

A Reader's Perspective, by Taylor Novak-Bultema
Imagine you have this great idea for a book, blog, short story, etc. Once your tea is made and light music is playing in the background, you sit down and stare at your screen. Momentarily, you sit with your eyes closed and you begin to feel your surroundings. You drift as the steam of the tea caresses your face. Slowly you drift further as the music releases your body and mind from each other. You begin typing. Each word is placed exactly where it belongs on the page. Each word belongs in a specific sentence, that completes a specific paragraph and all compliment the entire story. You are left a useless carcass as your body drains every emotion out through your fingers.

After countless hours, you slowly comeback from your outer body release. You have finished dancing on the page as one letter after another is laid to bed. As you being the tedious editing process, a very real emotion reminds you of its existence. Anxiety. You have realized that a simple sentence you wrote does not explain the situation in its entirety. Without proper explanation, these are just words displayed in front of you.

As a writer, you must be confident that you are able to paint a picture in the imagination of each and every reader. If four different people read “When she walked into the room she was surprised”, will each of them see the same expression on her imaginary face? Will they all feel the same form of surprise as she is meant to?

This specific statement is explaining the surprise your character is feeling. If not explained properly, your readers will not know if the character is startled, confused, amazed or excited. Each word means surprised. However, each means something completely different. They are the black and white that makes up the grey of surprise. Furthermore, is this character confused due to disillusion or perplexed? Are they excited because they are energetic or eager?

The placement and use of these words can make completely different statements. “When she walked into the room she was surprised”. Simple enough, but what does that mean? What would happen if I replaced one word in that sentence, that knowingly have the same definition?

“When she walked into the room she was excited”.

Well, that changes everything completely. At this moment, our psyche’s Monet substitutes the previous “surprised” expression with one of excitement. Before we saw her as scared or frightened, now as I introduce her back into my imagination I see her clearly, as she was meant to be.

As a reader, rather than writer, I want my Monet to paint one picture and claim that as the author’s masterpiece. Direct me. Lead me to your climatic segments with excitement. Your words need to make love to my imagination and leave me with a feeling of completion. Fully explain the meaning of each sentence. I want to follow your vision as though I am looking through your eyes, feeling through your soul and breathing your excitement. This is the only way I can truly appreciate the adventure you and I will be taking together….

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The "W-R-I-T-I-N-G" Process

I wanted to start--like many of you I'm sure--the new year off with a bang. So, I launched into my in process editing for my second novel.

Writing novels is the most bizarre process. It's this weird cocktail of emotions that contradict each other. You're confident/insecure, defeatist/hopeful, ready/hesitant. Yet, we'll all write, edit, revise and then rinse any repeat. There's just something seductive about creating anything, being anything, that keeps us coming back for more.

I'm not going to dispute that this is how I feel 100% of the time--complicated. So now, instead of fighting how I feel. I'm going to share with you my little anogram break down for my/your? writing process.

W-orrying about hypothetical everything(s).
R-evising perpetually until your allow your piece to be read.
I-nventing reasons why your work is inadequate.
T-hinking about what you've already thought about and
I-maging up new stuff (stories, plots, characters, problems) before you've finished old stuff.
N-ever giving up (permanently).
G-lad to be finished but grateful that you can (and will) start the process all over again.

Just remember if you're feeling overwhelmed there's another writer out there also banging their head against a wall. ;) Don't give up, get tough!

Happy Writing in 2014! I'm ready for Nanowrimo (again) ALREADY.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

September Meeting Recap

Hello Writers!

We just had our first meeting from the summer and it was pretty dang fun, if I do say so myself, and I do, because I JUST DID. Boom.

Now, on to the recap.

There are going to be some changes to the way Pens functions as a group.

WORKSHOPS will be quarterly now (one for each season). You'll still email me pieces you'd like to be workshoped and then I'll send you the date of the next planned workshoped. I'd like us to get more serious with out comments so we can really help the author improve and the best way to do that is by thoughtful reading and great feedback.

PROMPTS are going to be posted online but not "turned in" or "critiqued" like they use to be. Unless you want some advice on one that you did because you're planning to turn it in to a large piece, then you should email me at and we'll work with you and offer feedback.

LITERARY JOURNAL; We are going to be accepting submission starting January 1, 2014 for the first volume of our literay journal.  Will also be doing a kickstarter to raise up funding. (More information on that towards the end of the year.) We're looking at a three month open JANUARY through MARCH submission that would be happening simultaneously with the kickstarter. There will be no monetary compensation for being accepted into the journal, you will however receive a free ecopy. Our current publication date is SUMMER 2014, so start brainstorming now!

NANOWRIMO: November 2nd we'll be having a Nanowrimo gathering. There is a public Facebook event started, so check out the Pens Facebook Group page for more information. We will also be having LIVE chats during the month of November too on Facebook.

BLOGGING: I really really REALLY want to increase the amount of posts that are being done. I'd like to see some for not only writing and issues concering writing but also some book reviews. NOw, the expectation i'm setting for these posts are that they be focused on writing. For example, you read beautiful creatures, don't just say you loved it or hated it, I want to hear about the actually writing and it's affect on the story and the reader. If you'd like to do a guest piece, email me your writing. Also, I'd like it to be column style so, lets keep it as close to 500 words.

AND THAT is bascially a recap of our monthly meeting.

Until next time, keep writing!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Do you trust your writing group?

In the past I have known writers who have shared their ideas in writing groups and then have felt later on, while reading or hearing another writer talk about WIPs, that their ideas were stolen.

I have a few questions about this.

  1. Can you even "steal" an idea? Example: Think of a cat. Other than the fact they we're both thinking of a four legged feline, our actually ideas or vision of a cat are completely different.
  2. I feel like it's a typical unspoken rule that you don't try to take another writers idea and finish it. If you are inspired, you take that idea and make it into your own. Or is that just a deluded version of plagiarism?
  3. Isn't imitation the most sincerist form of flatter?
  4. Who was it that said imitation was the most sincerist form of flatter? Really, I honestly don't know.
Read, set, oh my god please comment. O.o (that doesn't count as begging).

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Compliment or Incompetent?

Beware, the following contains a rant.

Why, oh why, do non-writing folk always ask writers to "write" their novels, movie scripts, plays, grocery lists, love notes, poems, signs for them?

Oh, I will take a moment to represent the frustrated writer population out there by divulging into why this is such a peeve of mine.

Writing is fun, yes. I adore writing. But that is limited to scratching out my own ideas.

Writing your writing is not fun. You should write your own writing because it saves me from having to make awkward excuses/reasons about why I don't want to, or why I think you should do it yourself.

Here's a perfect example of how writer's feel when they get bamboozled into writing for other people. Remember when in school you were forced to do group projects, and somehow one person gets stuck doing everything?


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Remember the "choose your own adventure books"?

Where did all the choose your own adventure books go?!

They were already basically phased out by the time I was in elementary school which was the early 90's, but I remember having found my brother's pirate themed CYOA in the attic. I'd attempted to read it a couple of times but I always made the wrong choice and died very quickly.  I distincly recall being annoyed with having to re-read the same intro over again to try and get a second chance.

I had this little bookie flashback when I was browsing the limited novel section in Walmart and noticed a bundled set of books with a fantastic yetti on the cover. Apparently, CYOAs are making a come back.

Okay, not really, but they so could.

This lead to two questions, how should I write one now, and could I make it interesting enough to want to be read.

I suppose RPGs would be the modern version of a CYOA novel, but I think it would be fun to have a romance, or an apocalypse one. The problem is, how the hell would you organize it.

This is why writers need to hang out with other writers. Sarah E., a co-worker, writer, artist-combo friend gave me the internet hook up.

Not that kind of hook up.

I mean, she shared a link with me to this ridiculously thrilling (if you're an OCD control freak like me) site called

No one tells me anything! I'm always the last person to find all the geeky nerd sites.

NOT only can you writing INSIDE bubbles, you can move them, and color code them, and...

Perhaps it won't be as thrilling for you, but I think it's the shit and I'm totes working on a CYOA.

It's free.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Tweeting Authors (not to be confused with authors who tweet)

I've had a growing...habit as of late. I read a book, adore it and then hunt the writer down on Twitter (my stalker media site of choice), and then send them a little tweet.

Just a harmless, you-are-the-best-writer-and-I-love-everything-you-do-and-want-to-be-you-when-I-grow-up, tweet.

Is that weird?

It's one writer to another writer, so it's not weird. Right? If it is weird it's the fun kind of weird as opposed to the lock your doors kind of weird.

I have a solution! I'll tweet all the famous writers (Maureen Johnson, John Green, Beth Revis, Ally Condie and E.L. James) I've tweeted in the past and ask them what they think. Below is the screen shot of the above explained solution.

Friday, February 22, 2013

NaNoWriMo Snippets

Even though it's been a month or two or almost four since NaNoWriMo, we're still celebrating the success of sitting down and turning ideas into clusters of word documents. I myself started a novel that I have no idea if or when I'll ever finish it, but I'm proud that it's now slightly more concrete then just floating around in my brain-es-sphere. If you'd like to share a snippet of your NaNoWriMo piece, send a small portion (under 1k word count) of your masterpiece to and we'll post it!

Happy Writing!


NaNoWriMo Snippets: Dave's


The mercenaries packed up, and headed back for the Lord's camp, weary from the battle. I felt like I had been fighting for weeks, though the battle lasted only the night.
Eugene came over to speak to me, a smile across his tired features. “Oy, Connell, good arm out there. You fought well.”
I looked at the ground. “I never knew killing someone would feel so... awful.”
A look of concern crossed his face. “It's hard, I know. But they would have killed you, given the chance. I know it's no great comfort, but for what it's worth I almost got kicked out on my first job.”
“Really?”, I asked. “Why?”
“I froze up. I had ice in my veins, and I couldn't move. The Captain had to shove me out of the way of a charging spearman. Nearly got stabbed in the process, he did. He had trained me, he knew I could fight. But the first time I saw a man die, I just couldn't cope. It got better later, but it still gets to me sometimes. But hey, everyone has to eat, right?”
“I suppose we do,” I spoke, drawing in a deep breath, and letting it out slowly. “And someone has to fight all these wars. Might as well be us.”
He laughed, his eyes full of mirth. “That's the spirit, Connell. Let's go grab some wine, you could use the drink.”
When we got back to camp, the Captain pulled us aside. His normally grim features betrayed a sense of pride. “You did well, Eugene. And you also, Connell. I was quite impressed. Nine kills in your first skirmish. You'll go far with us if you keep that up.”
My face went white, and cold. Nine? I only killed one. As I write this, I still don't remember much of that battle after the first man died upon my blade. A bit of red, flashes of steel, but those other eight men are faceless to me. I trembled visibly for a moment, felt the blood rush away from my head and lost consciousness entirely.
When my eyes opened, I was staring up at our newest member of the company, the Scotsman MacKay. “Awake, eh?” he said. I scrambled backwards in shock and hit my head on a log. He shook his head in seeming annoyance. “Fool boy. I'm no threat to ye. How do ye feel?”
I thought a moment. “My head hurts.”
He could barely contain his laughter. “O, I'm sure it does. What's yer name?”
“No, it's not. Yer no Irishman. But it'll do I suppose.” His eyes were bright, and seemed to shine in the light. I looked away, ashamed. I had never been much of a liar.
He spoke softly. “Ye seem alright now, the Cap'n had me look after ye when ye fell like a lassie.”
“I... didn't fall like a lass!”, I protested angrily. “I just got sick, is all.”
I was furious, but knew I was beaten by his smile. I sighed in frustration.
“I can't believe I fainted in front of the Captain...”
The Scot handed he a cup of wine. “Drink, an' forget about it. Young lads get that way about death sometimes. Tis a natural thing.”
“I suppose...” I took a drink, and it warmed me quickly. I quickly reached for my sword, and checked it for blood. It was still covered in now drying blood, so I pulled it out of the sheath and began cleaning it. MacKay looked at me strangely.
“Why all the panic, lad? Just a little blood.”
“If I don't clean the blade, it'll rust. Rust is the enemy. That's what Father used to say, any way.” I said.
The Scot nodded. “You the son of a soldier, then?”
“Blacksmith. I was his apprentice until a few weeks ago.”
“And now ye think to make a name fer yerself fightin' for coin? Tis a damn shame.”
I said nothing, and he left it alone for a while. I finished my cup of wine, and looked at him again. He was so familiar, but I couldn't place it. I never once could have met this man in the village, I'd never seen a Scottish person in my life. He occasionally looked back as if he heard my thoughts. I was rather perplexed by this when he spoke up suddenly.
“Ye feel it too, lad. Ye feel the storm comin' in. don't fight it, it'll come anyway and all the harder if ye struggle. Just let the wind take ye, and find yer way from there. I don't expect ye ta understand just yet. But I know ye will.”
He made no sense. I assumed he was insane, but it was the first time I would encounter someone who knew the truth. You'd be surprised how often the two get mixed up.

He stood and walked away, and I was left to my own thoughts. Thankfully, he left the wineskin, and I didn't have to think for too long before it lulled me to sleep.
We received our pay, and the Captain gave me my gold, and all my feelings of doubt and guilt washed away in the shine of sovereign coin. I had never felt so empowered, so successful in my life. Coin would, for the next few months, bury my conscience in a gilded cage. I feel shame for that, to this day. But, the winds of change blow on, and if it were not for those days, I could not be the man I am today.