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Robert Frost Was Wrong

Do you remember when your English teacher told you about the time Robert Frost wrote this:     Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,     And sorry I could not travel both     And be one traveler, long I stood     And looked down one as far as I could     To where it bent in the undergrowth;  You may have been young and so were more interested in recess and video games and dick jokes. Or, you may have been in high school and able to identify with a line or two. Were the two roads the two colleges you were considering, or the two adolescent boys you were crushing on? Maybe the two cities you might move to after graduation? Could be anything, really, but let's skim to the iconic ending: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. Here's where Frost and I diverge. One choice is unlikely to make all the difference. Yes, once in awhile, yes, but most of the time you get to remake your choices. You get to drop out of colle

Season of Change

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 It's been a long time since my last blog post, which was about the steps a person might take to self publish a novel. There's a reason for that, and for once it's not my own lack of motivation. Over the last couple of years I've had so many changes in my life, and not altogether good ones, that I am just now getting back to a place of routine. Since the dumpster fire that was 2020, I lost both of my parents, left a long term relationship and moved back to my touchpoint town of Bemidji. Suffice to say these experiences have stalled me, and probably changed me too. I'm reminded of a woman I knew as  teenager, a friend's mom. She had lost a child years before. I remember noticing how nothing rattled her. She didn't get upset by a bunch of rowdy teenagers charging through her house, sometimes breaking things and sometimes smoking pot behind her woodshed. I remember wondering how it was that she would just laugh it all off. My own parents would have grown red an

For Writers: How I Self Published Hearts of Prey

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Whenever I go to book signings or vendor events, I always meet at least a few other writers. Many of them are not yet published. They often tell me their plans to send out query letters to agents and publishing houses, to which I say, "Cool. I hope that works for you. If it doesn't you can always do what I did." I then shamelessly tell them that after querying 20 agents and getting a steady stream of "your book just isn't quite what we are looking for" letters in reply, I decided to self publish.  I've heard that you need to query 80 agents before you give up, and I've also heard you have a 1 in 1,000 chance of landing a literary agents. I don't like those numbers at all, and after getting rejected twenty consecutive times, I didn't doubt them either. About that time, self publishing started to sound like a pretty great way to bring my manuscript from the messy place of word documents on my computer to the realm of published fiction. No, I di

A Review of Dr. Moreau

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Things are at a bit of a stand still with my writing right now. The sequel to Hearts of Prey (I hesitate to reveal the title just yet) is being edited and I am holding back on starting what will be the third and probably final book in the series. I thought maybe I would use this time to write about one of the books that helped shape my writing. There are so many, but this one had a pretty palpable influence on Hearts of Prey, despite being published in good old 1896. Though there are many stark differences between my book and this one, they have two things in common: first is that they both have characters that are both animal and human. Second is that Wells successfully uses sci-fi to thoughtfully examine human nature, and not to mention it's incredibly well written, both being skills I aspire to do. Of course I'm talking about this classic:        I read The Island of Dr. Moreau in my early twenties and it has stuck with me. It's about a shipwrecked traveler who ends up o

You Call Her Fear

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 This will be short. I am going to try out a writing exercise and invite anyone interested to try it as well. It's pretty simple. Here are the rules: Make a list of the things that scare you, then choose the one thing that trumps all others. Then write a short piece in which you visit this fate on one of your characters. Here's my list of mostly irrational fears: Angry spirits Bad guys in dark alleys Being buried alive Being sunk in the ocean Loss of meaning to life And here we go: Arnold never spoke about his time in Vietnam. Those close to him knew not to ask. His wife had feared that if he went back in the telling of it, she'd loose him again. When he had returned he was sullen and moody for the first year. He could often be found drinking in the dark in their garage. Then, one spring day, he poured out the contents of his whiskey bottles and joined her in the house. Over the course of that summer he slowly returned to the man he'd been before the war. His wife was s

What if Winston and Adrian played truth or dare?

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 Happy Thursday. Maybe you saw my FB post this week about choosing a character to do a little development piece on? If not no worries. It's already done. I got one vote for Adrian and one vote for Winston. I decided to include them both in this short piece that puts them both at a college party. As far as the novel is concerned, this party never happened. It is just a means to an end, and that end is to get to know these guys a little better. Ray Bradbury once said "Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations." Since Ray Bradbury is not someone you contradict, I have taken his sentiment to heart. Enough said. I will now let you see what would happen if Winston and Adrian had met at a college party and played drinking games together.  Writing Exercise, Character Development  Winston and Adrian go to a party                 Winston hesitated at the door. He could hear people inside, they were l

Where the World Ends

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Every year I try to do something on my birthday, something that is uncompromisingly me. This year I went one step further and spent a whole week in the BWCA. I'm guessing you already know what that stands for, but if not, it is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and it is a one million acre protected wilderness located in the Superior National Forest of northeastern Minnesota. If you've read Hearts of Prey  you know that the beauty and wildness of northeastern Minnesota is the setting that makes the story possible. The boundary waters have been a special place to me since I went on a week long canoe trip when I was thirteen. My appreciation for the area only grew when I made a friend from Ely, Mn while going to college in Bemidji. Ely is the last town before the boundary waters begin. In my first year of nursing school I made more than one trip up there where we would step lightly into the woods by day, then try our young hands at drinking whiskey and singing karaoke at night. I ha