NaNoWriMo website logo
NaNoWriMo

I’m a bit late for this, but my curiosity is piqued. What is this all about, you ask? Well, we’re going to find out together.

The Facebook group, Ninja Writers, is where I first heard tell of NaNoWriMo, as people have started calling it. In one post, a Ninja Writers’ member exclaimed that he was on his 100th page of his novel. That’s great! I thought. However, underneath that, he wrote, “NaNoWriMo is going well for me!” I thought to myself, What the hell is NaNoWriMo?

So I turned to my friend Google, and I said, “NaNoWriMo?” And Google, being the ultimate at knowing exactly what you want from single word questions, pointed me to https://nanowrimo.org, the National Novel Writing Month website.

I clicked around the site, and I determined a few things from what I read. First, I am very late. You’re allowed to sign up in September. Second, you start posting updates and all that from Nov 1st through the 30th. Third, the novel must have a minimum of fifty thousand words by the end of the month. Fourth, major authors give pep talks and support. Finally, it’s a community where writers meet.

Let’s get started:

After clicking “Get Started,” I am taken to a basic form: name, email, password, age verification, and reCAPTCHA; you know, the basics.

After making certain that I’m not a robot by clicking the checkbox, I hit sign up.

The next page says “Thank you!” and I must wait on an email to complete the sign-up process. Fortunately, the wait is only 0.5 seconds long. The email has a link that takes me to a sign in page.

My first pop-up from NaNoWriMo!

The first item on the agenda is selecting a region. Since my county is not on the list, I choose the next one over.

“Committed to writing 50,000 words in the 30 days of November?” NaNoWriMo asks.

“I’ll do my damndest,” I say.

“Follow these easy steps to get started,” it says:

  1. Fill out your profile. (Will do)
  2. Create your novel starting in September. (Oops)
  3. Select your region. (I did that on the last screen)
  4. Earn badges. (Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!)
  5. Get inspired. (Easier said than done. Am I WRITE? Ha, see what I did there?)
  6. Start Writing. (Erm, Somehow I think this is akin to step 2.)
  7. Claim your win. (Now we’re talking! What do we win?)

 

Ok, so step one: filling out the profile. At the very top of the page, it has a field for the name of your novel, and a spot for a picture. I also note that if you donate to the site, you can get a “halo.” In all, there are five tabs to fill out. I seem to be on the “Author Info” tab, as the fields below ask for the basic profile stuff, location, b-day, hobbies, fav music, website, sponsorship, occupation, fav books or authors, and a bio.

I accidentally add The Unfettered Child as this year’s November novel. I could delete it, but nah.

The other tabs are “Novels,” “Badges,” “Writing Buddies,” “Buddy Of,” “Goal Trackers,” and “Stats.” Over the next few days, I will play with these.

The closest group to me is in Stephenville, so I introduce myself on their forum. They apparently meet quite often at the local Starbucks to . . . write, I guess. Drink coffee and write. I love it.

Overall, the experience is good. How effective it is still depends heavily on how involved you are. Check back and I will write about the “Inspiration” section. From what I see, there are pep talks from successful authors.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!

Lavender-colored rose against a technology background

Lavender Rose

“Daaammmmian,” a honeyed voice rang out from his apartment. “Please refrain from killing my men. I have no intentions of harming you.” The Syndicate obviously wanted him alive. Ignoring the voice, Damian used his free hand to quietly open the window at the end of the hall. “Really, Damian, I just have a job for you. There’s no need for this violence,” said the man.

Instead of entering through the open window, Damian moved to the closest apartment door. “I don’t work for the Syndicate anymore!” Damian shouted and shot down the hall, masking the sound of his boot kicking the door open. The door bounced, eliciting a scream from behind the door.

Slipping in quickly and quietly, gun first, Damian noted an obese naked and tattooed man stumbling back from the door swearing about a broken nose. The man’s belly bounced as he landed heavily on his rear. Damian pointed his gun at the man. “Shut up,” he said, his voice cold and deadly. He quickly shut the door behind him. The apartment’s layout looked like a mirror image of his own. The likeness ended there. This man’s slovenly messes littered every room. A terrible stench wafted out of the kitchen, and in the bedroom, a woman hid her nakedness behind some cheap blankets. Damian pointed the gun at the woman and repeated, “Shut up, now!”

The man nodded enthusiastically, encouraging her to capitulate. His eyes were wide with shock and fear, and blood stained his unruly beard. Damian returned his aim to the man.

After determining that the man and woman had acquiesced, Damian turned his body to the side, enabling him to peek out of the spy hole in the door while still keeping the pistol trained on the obedient man behind him. He heard the group out in the hall talking amongst themselves in Japanese. “He must have gone out of the window,” one said. Then the honeyed voice spoke again. “Follow him; don’t lose him.”

 

If you enjoyed this excerpt, stay tuned for more in Michael C. Sahd’s upcoming full-length novel, Lavender Rose (The DuFonte Chronicles, Book 2).

Lavender Rose
Lavender Rose Working Cover
Fresh Ink Contest Logo
 
 

“But the old woman shook her head and said, ‘Oh, you dear children, who brought you here? Just come in and stay with me. No harm will come to you.'” 

For young aspiring authors, the Texas Book Festival and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE) hosts the Annual Fresh Ink Fiction Contest. “Young” means whippersnappers (although I still don’t know what that means), or rather, that you must be in middle school or high school to submit your book to the contest.

From what I read, this contest runs a different theme or subject every year. This year, they chose the theme, “What Really Happened.”

I would personally like to know “What Really Happened,” and, fortunately, I will be able to find the winning stories published on the Texas Book Festival website.

The last day for submission is on May 18th! So get over there and submit!

~ Michael C. Sahd

P.S. Bonus points if you know where the top quote comes from! Let me know if you recognize it in the comments below.

Distraught Soldier
 

 

When people think of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the first thing that comes to their minds is typically war, or more specifically, the traumatized soldiers who return from war, jumping at the slightest sharp noise. Rarely do people think of children when they hear the term.

However, children can and often do experience trauma. The list of events that can cause PTSD in children is a long one.
I am not, however, here to teach or rant about child abuse, although the topic is totally rant worthy. I am particularly interested in the effect of natural disasters and traumatic losses on children. “Why?” you may ask.

Well, I have a book in the works that involves a young girl who loses her entire family to freakish events, and I’m trying learn how children deal with grief on such a large scale.

Want to share what you have been researching this week? Feel free to leave a comment!

~ Michael C. Sahd

 

Jeremy Bentham Portrait

I have been beating my head against a wall trying to come up with a reasonable goal for my antagonist in the sequel to “Assassin Marked.” So much so that I’ve taken to Google and started researching lawyers, the mafia, etc.

 

Jeremy-Bentham
“The power of the lawyer is in the uncertainty of the law.”
Jeremy Bentham

 

Back during the prime of my adolescence in New Mexico, I spent a lot of time climbing the cliffs and hills. For me, navigating the dangerous rocky cliffs up high offered the most fun during these excursions. Consequently, shuffling up the slopes of scree that hemmed the base of the cliffs deceptively seemed like they would be the easiest part of the excursion; however, the climb, although more frightening, proved much easier once I gained the courage to ascend. The scree, like the walls of an antlion’s den, would send you sliding back down as far, or further than where you had started, until you got a handle on how to step up it. For the more cowardly, it was great fun to just struggle up scree and then go sliding down to the bottom, ignoring the great unreachable cliffs above.

Image result for scree
Scree


These adventures in the mountains of New Mexico are much like a lawyer’s career. A good lawyer reaches the top of the mountain of integrity and justice, but they all start at the bottom, attached to a stereotype reserved to the most slimy and scuzzy of their ilk. We all think of lawyers as nasty, lying, cheating, money-grabbing individuals ready to make a buck by taking advantage of some poor schmuck, and the lawyers starting out in the career have a responsibility to break out of that mold, or to reach a peak, so to speak.

Some do not. Rather, they spend their entire career at the bottom, and I’m not saying they aren’t successful, but perhaps they are scared. Those who make it further up the mountain have further to fall, so rather than risk their livelihood on the constraints of morality, the majority stay at the bottom, enjoying the slide of deception and reaping all the benefits of a necessary profession.

But how can you tell the difference? Well, you can’t. Just like I can’t prove that I’ve climbed to the summit of most of those mountains.

Image result for Kirin Ichiban
Kirin Ichiban

 *Spoiler* Kirin Ichiban fits right in with these deceivers, and perhaps may be the best of his kind. He has one of the most successful law firms on Penelope. As we all know (or should know, if you’ve read Assassin Marked), he also has strong ties to the crime syndicate. It’s clear that he is motivated to amass power, but what is his ultimate goal?
If you were a power-hungry lawyer with the ability to read minds, what would your goal be in the United States? Any thoughts?

~ Michael C. Sahd

In Cerrillos, the small town I grew up in, there stood a gnarled hill with two cliff faces that climbed up to the precipice. The front face, or at least what we considered the face, looked as though the Devil’s large, boar-like head burst up from the earth, his snout extending through the boulders piled around it. As children, we leaped from boulder to boulder until we climbed to the top of the snout. We shied away from climbing higher than the snout on the face of this hill, as it seemed crumbly, steep, and dangerous.

Devil's Throne
Devil’s Throne side

However, the other cliff face, although completely vertical, had solid grips and hand holds. This side of the hill had been cut away to allow the train tracks to run past. I had spent many hours climbing this cliff, but the most exhilarating moment happened when a friend and I crossed a ledge no more than four inches across and close to 100 ft in the air. The wind slapped our hair and clothes around us.

As I crossed this ledge, my heels and back tight against the rock, I could see the sheer drop below me, and I thought about going around; however, at the point I decided this, I would have had to shift my weight and start going that direction, and that was not happening. So, after ten or so feet, we crossed over to the unknown crevice, which fortunately had the hand holds to go the rest of the way up instead of back across the ledge.

This fits into one of those experiences that can make good stories. I may one day include some variation of this one.

Devil's Throne Front
Devil’s Throne front

I would love to hear some of your experiences such as this one!

~ Michael C. Sahd

Taboo Board Game
 
 

Saturday evenings, we visit our local comic book shop for board game night. This evening, we played a game called Taboo. To play the game, a minimum of four players must split into two groups. One player on the team draws a card that the player must use to give hints to the others on his/her team so that they can guess the word at the top of the card.

The clue giver cannot use the word or any parts of the word. In addition, the card lists five or six related words that are taboo, meaning that the clue giver must avoid using those words in their hints as well. Guessing the word will score the team a point; however, if the clue giver uses a taboo word, the team loses a point. A short timer allows the team to guess as many cards as they can in the time limit, then the other team gets a chance to score points.

When writing a story, there are also taboo words; we call them “to be” verbs. A writer should avoid using these words as often as possible, because, more often than not, a more colorful verb will describe a better action. Sometimes “to be” verbs are required . . . er . . . . Sometimes a sentence requires the use of “to be” verbs, such as sentences that fail to describe an action. A couple of examples of sentences devoid of action include:

“My name is Michael.”

 
 

“Black is my favorite color.”

Take a look at something you recently wrote. Try removing “to be” verbs from your writing and compare the before and after. Did you find that making these changes paints a more colorful story? I typically do.

~ Michael C. Sahd

 

Stephen King is one of my favorite authors because he writes about the characters instead of the story. The story just happens to the characters. In this video, Stephen King gives a few pointers.

If writing guides your passions, then Stephen King’s book, On Writing, will provide you with excellent tips.

On Writing Book
On Writing, by Stephen King

I read On Writing, and I feel that it helped me quite a bit. I posted links if you are interested. Sometimes hearing from someone successful can provide us with a little motivation. Which author motivates you to write? Let me know in the comments below.

~ Michael C. Sahd

Author Michael C. Sahd

 

Railroad Tracks And Silos
Standing by the Railroad Tracks . . .

 

Looking Into the Sun
And Looking Into the Sun!

Here are some new photos of me, contributed from a friend.

Also, it is Tuesday, which I hereby dub a “Teaser Tuesday”:

Pulling his heavy denim jacket closer around his lithe body, Damian let out a puff of cold mist, and shivered from more than just the cold.

Being stuck in North America for two years had been the most unpleasant time of his life. He had spent these years living off mice half the time, sometimes fighting wolves for his claim to the tiny rodents. The other half of that time, he had spent starving.

Briefly, toward the end of this stint, some crazy cult of religious people who avoided technology like the devil had taken him in, until he left to find a more civilized settlement. The settlement he found was deserted. He fell asleep in a shack and woke up unable to open the snow-packed door or windows. This memory, more even than the cold, elicited his shiver.

Feel free to let me know what you think of this teaser and/or these pictures in the comments below.

~ Michael C. Sahd

The Liars' Asylum by Jacob M. Appel Book Cover

The Liars’ Asylum by Jacob M. Appel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Liars’ Asylum offers a brief glimpse into the characters’ lives, often leaving the reader with many questions unanswered. I assume that this is the purpose of the writer, encouraging the reader to think about the stories and their potential endings long after the story itself is over; however, I believe that some of them could easily be expanded into a longer work. On the other hand, perhaps some, if not all, of the stories are exactly what they appear — a moment in time, just one sample of one character’s life, but which changes the course of his or her life forever.

Jacob M. Appel’s writing is consistently clear and interesting. Each story flows seamlessly until its end, which sometimes comes with little warning. Overall, I would recommend this book to someone who is looking for short, entertaining stories to read.

***I received a review copy of this book; however, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

View all my reviews

~ Michael C. Sahd