32 Game-Changing Quotes About Love And Life That Will Make You Feel Better, Instantly

Good thoughts, for a good day.

Thought Catalog

ScribeScribe


I don’t care about whose DNA has recombined with whose. When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching they are your family.

Jim Butcher


Please know that there are much better things in life than being lonely or liked or bitter or mean or self conscious. We are all full of shit. Go love someone just because, I know your heart may be badly bruised, or even the victim of numerous knifings but it will always heal even if you don’t want it to, it keeps going. There are the most fantastic, beautiful things and people out there, I promise. It’s up to you to find them.

Chuck Palahniuk


Don’t ever mistake my silence for ignorance, my calmness for acceptance, or my kindness for weakness.

Anonymous


People don’t like love, they like that flittery flirty feeling. They don’t love love – love is sacrificial…

View original post 1,125 more words

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The Perfect Cut

Aldous Huxley once wrote – “One of the causes, by the way, of the apparent lack, at the present time, of great men lies in the poverty of the contemporary male coiffure. Rich in whiskers, beards, and leonine manes, the great Victorians never failed to look the part, nowadays it is impossible to know a great man when you see one.”

Or simply put, the haircut makes the man. Being in the military for the last twenty years, I haven’t had much of a choice on my hair style. In the Marines, it was a high and tight if you wanted to fit in properly. In the Navy, it’s a low fade or the Chief’s would consider marking down your evaluation marks. With under 360 days left in the military, I’ve started to find ways to take my life back. To make my choices again and to feel just a tad bit more human and not a cog in the machine. Today, that started with a haircut.

Since I was about 6 or 7 I’ve been getting my hair cut the same way, save for a few attempts at other styles, and up until I was around 20, from the same barber: Tom’s Barber Shop. I never knew what the hair style was called, my Mom or my Dad picked it out, and I got it nearly every time I went in.  You’ve seen it before in tv shows and movies that date back to the 1950’s. Here are a few people who’ve worn it:

Don-DraperPete-Campbell-conservative-hairstyleleonardo-dicaprio-clean-cut-hairstyle-side-view

I’m pretty sure you recognize these guys. It’s called the Executive Contour. Sometimes called a “greaser” cut or an “ivy” cut, it is one of those classic styles that never seems to go out of fashion. There are various other types of “contours”, meaning it follows the contour or shape of the head, 8cdd772ea0c298d634dbc7078fb0bdf1but this is the one I prefer. Short, neat, trim, classic. It requires a skilled barber and a bit of pomade (a waxy, greasy material that holds the hair in place and gives it the shine) to pull it off.

Pomade, if you’ll remember watching “O’ Brother Where Art Thou?” was the product used by the main character Ulysses Everett McGill, who would proudly tell anyone who would or even didn’t want to listen that he was, “a dapper dan man!”.  Much like Don Draper, a possible play on Dapper Dan?, Ulysses used a pomade to keep his hair perfect and shiny.

I found myself at Lefty’s Barber Shop down near the heart of Pacific Beach today, walking in to see if I could take back my hair style. The barber there, Jason, was very helpful, but also very apologetic that they are by appointment only, and were booked right up through Christmas. Like any good businessman though, Jason offered to let me wait to see if his 1:30pm appointment would show. At 1:40pm with no one in sight, I was in the chair and getting an expert cut. Jason was skillful, personable and very thorough in his work. When I left, holding a can of Upper Cut pomade, I was very pleased with what I had gotten for $16.

Here is the result of his work: 20141218_145839

 

While I am in San Diego, I will be making Lefty’s Barber Shop my only stop for a haircut. If you’re in the neighborhood, give them a call at  (858)274-5913 for an appointment, or check them out at Lefty’s Barber Shop Website. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Cheers!

 

 

 

Happy Holidays from Starry-Eyed Potboiler!

Mind of a Writer

We here at Starry-Eyed Potboiler love many things. Among them spiked eggnog, bacon, Eva Green movies and… oh wait, wrong list. One second. Okay, here it is… Among them the holidays, writing and giving! To inspire you, drag you into social interaction and just plain have some fun, we’ll be running a contest from now until 11:59 on 31 December. So, if you don’t have anyone to kiss when a bunch of drunken people at the local pub begin an underwhelming chorus of “Auld Lang Syne”, you can watch the clock tick down here and see if you’ve won one (oh I love word puns, won one, get it?) of three fabulous prizes!!

And just what do we have in store for our wonderful victims… I mean readers, Johnny? Well, because we like to talk about writing probably more than anything in the whole wide world, and we love inspiring other people to write, we are offering up copies of our favorite three treatises on that subject. These are three books that have inspired me, starting with my formative years in High School, into college and my all-time favorite tome on the craft. Without any further ado, here they are:

becoming-a-writer1. Prize One – Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande – In high school I was dead set on getting a degree in Journalism and becoming a writer… life decided I needed to go in another direction, but this book was one of the keystones to my love of writing. I found it at my local library, sitting in the bargain bin for $2. I bought it and wore my copy out that I had to buy another later in life. I think that it is a well-written, concise bit of advice that everyone needs to read if they intend to get into writing. I love it so much it was one of my first blog posts, which you can read here. I can think of only two other books that I would tell someone who wants to write, “You need to buy these, beg for them for gifts or borrow from the library.” Today, however, you have a chance for me to give you one. 🙂

 

 

 

 

2. Prize Two – Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg – WritingdownthebonesLater in life, after my first year in college, several jobs, the United States Marine Corps Reserves and then the Navy, I picked up this book and instantly fell in love. Goldberg, famous for her novel Banana Rose and memoirs like Long Quiet Highway, has been quietly influencing writers for decades. Writing Down the Bones is one of those books on the craft of writing that doesn’t just give advice, it speaks to the art, the spirit and the zen of writing.  I can’t think of many other books that I recommend to people or look for on their shelves. I am excited at the chance to put it in your eager little hands.

 

 

 

3. Prize Three – On Writing by Stephen King – onwritingIf you know me or know of me. You might know or have guessed that I was inspired by Stephen King. I grew up reading his novels, novellas and short stories. I would stay up late into the wee hours of the night, pouring over the words he wrote, wanting, wishing, hoping one day to be able to inspire others with my skills. On Writing is two parts advice and one part memoir. If you’ve ever been interested at peeking behind the curtain to see the inner workings of the mind of a writer, and you’ve read everything on this blog ;), this is the book for you. I believe that it is without a doubt, one of the best tomes a writer can have on their shelf.

 

 

By now you are either excited or bored. Hopefully excited. We’ve now reached the point where you get to jump up and down and ask “How do I win? How do I win??” Easy there, Hoss. We’re gonna put this into three easy to follow steps. Are you ready? Good! In no particular order:

1. Share this post on social media… somewhere! –  Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Your Mom’s Fridge (oh wait, scratch that last one), help us get the word out for the new year. We want people who are interested in writing, social thought, tabletop roleplaying games, and sarcastic comments to know about us! Be nice, share! Heck, I’ll make it easy on you ->Tweet: http://ctt.ec/OT4q2+ is giving away books! Help me win! Share this! :) #giveaway #amwriting #amwinning @dhsayers

 

 

 

2.  Browse through my #NaNoWriMo2014 Novel – Angels Deserve to Die – Because I’m working to get published and every read helps, do me this favor. Go to Tablo Publishing’s website and browse through my novel “Angels Deserve to Die“. I’m not asking for anything, but take a gander at it. 🙂

3. Follow us! – Easy-Peasy, lemon-squeezy… no, I didn’t just quote Hannah Montana… ok, I did. Don’t make fun of me!! At the top of this post on the right-hand side, you’ll see a little WordPress button to follow this blog, clicky-clicky!! Follow D. H. Sayers on WordPress.com

That’s it. Three simple steps and you will be put into the raffle for one of these three prizes!! Contest starts the moment this is posted and runs until exactly 11:59 p.m. on 31 December 2014. We’ll be watching! Cheers!

5 ways to tweak your combat & National New GM Month – #NaNewGaMo

Behind The Screen

 

Whether you are a seasoned, veteran Game Master, a tough-as-nails Dungeon Master, a wily, eagle-eyed Storyteller, or a brand-new, just-out-of-the-box runner of tabletop roleplaying games, I’ve got some words for you: Your players are bored.  Okay, maybe I could’ve said that a little nicer, a little more PC, but that’s just not me.

Sure, they might not say it out loud. They probably don’t pull you aside to give you a stern talking to about the four hours they just wasted rolling dice and fudging skill checks, Hell they probably don’t even know it. And that is the problem. Every weekend, all across the world two to eight people are sitting down around a table to game and they don’t even know they are bored.

By paragraph three I hope you are asking the question, “What is this idiot blathering on about?” (And if you didn’t use the word blather you should. Expand that vocabulary!) Let me reframe. We’ve all watched really awesome movies (fantasy, science fiction, horror) where the characters fought their opponents it amazing, sometimes mind-shattering environments: The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Terminator, John Carter, or Harry Potter. We watch these breath-taking, heart-racing, gut-clenching, bowels-turning-to-water fight scenes… and we want to live them!

Now, aside from learning parkour, taking up fencing or mixed martial arts, most people only get to watch. Not so with gamers. We get the chance to live through scenes like these in our games and make them better! We fight from crumbling bridges over lava floes, battle multiple opponents in the midst of a cataclysmic war and… wait, you don’t do that? Oh. Well, to be honest… neither do I. There is my secret for the day: “Hi, I’m Darius and I’m a poor GM at times.”

Tuesday evening my wife and I went out and watched the final chapter of The Hobbit: Thehobbit-final-656 Battle of the Five Armies. There were so many twisting, turning, churning, bouncing, sliding, mobile battle scenes and I loved every minute of it. The fight that spurred this whole post was between Thorin Oakenshield and Azog the Defiler. Atop the frozen river that spills from Ravenhill, south of the entrance to Erebor and southwest of the ruined city of Dale, they clashed. What really caught my attention as Azog’s make-shift chain and block weapon ripped, cracked and broke the ice apart, was how both combatants not only adjusted for the other’s movements, but how they reacted and used the environment in the fight. I won’t spoil it, but Thorin’s use of the ice is genius!

As I watched, riveted to my seat, I wondered, “When was the last time a character of mine fought like that?” And then the next, inevitable question, “When was the last time I ran a combat like that?” I’m here to admit, I am ashamed to say, it’s been awhile. Well, the good thing about seeing a problem, admitting it is there, is that you can make changes. That is what I plan to do and I want to help you do the same! So, without further ado, here are ways to spice up your combat and rally your players to exciting arms!

1.  Environment – Terrain – Rarely do I see players nor GMs consider the terrain of where a fight occurs. Most times we’re busy worrying about distances, squares, hexes, cones, etc. Forget all of that! Give your players somewhere interesting, exciting and challenging to fight on. Group is being jumped by orc bandits on the road to the city? Put it on an old wooden bridge ready to collapse and have it do so mid-fight. Giant attacking a town and the players are fighting it from a rooftop? Have it attack the foundation and then let your players return fire as the building crumbles beneath them. Party is trying to take down a lich in his cavernous lair? Make in a volcano that decides to erupt mid-fight. Players want to feel like their characters are the heroes in the story. They want exciting combat and challenges that they can talk about for years to come.

2. Environment – Weather – The weather always seems to be an afterthought, a piece of the setting and just something that the GM tosses in for flavor. Change that shit! Combat too easy for the party? Open up a thunderstorm on them and give them penalties for attacking, moving and perception. Drown them in massive waves out on the high seas, where the deck of their ship pitches and yaws making combat that much harder. Fighting trolls up in the mountains? Break open the clouds in a snow storm and let their opponents use the meager visibility to attack from.

3.  Multiple Opponents – One of the greatest things 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons introduced was the concept of minions. Not the yellow, pants wearing kind, I mean extra monsters or NPCs that have only a few hit points. You can do this in virtually any game. Think of those fight scenes where the hero wades through hordes of monsters to reach his true foe. That’s what your players want. They want to cut down enemy after enemy with one swipe and then fight the true villains in challenging combat. Give it to them. Add in extra NPCs to the combat with 1-3 hit points, who can only hit if they roll an 18-20. Then watch as your players cackle with glee as they cut them down in one stroke!

4.  Player creativity – There is an idea in business that can help your game and combat, it’s called “Say Yes, and…”. It works like this: You’re sitting around the conference table brainstorming a new proposal. Andrea says, “We could offer more discounts at our store to bring in customers…” You say, “Yes, and we could connect it to returning shopping carts, which would save on employee stress.” Apply this to your games. Let your players do things that they think are awesome. When Andrea says, “I want to kick that vase at the lead mercenary’s head before wading into the fray…”, say “Yes, and it shatters, flinging porcelain shrapnel everywhere. Each person within 2 squares takes 1 hit point of damage.” It doesn’t always have to be negative, or hinder the players either, it could help them. Bill says, “I slice the rope to the chandelier, gripping it and letting it carry me to the second-floor landing where the fight is thickest.” You say, “Yes, and it also held up the massive tapestry along the back wall. It comes free covering all of the opponents on the first floor who were trying to reach the second. They’ll have two turns before they can get free and reach you.”

5.  Beg, Borrow or Steal – Let’s face it, we’re not all Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro or Steven Spielberg. We can’t always come up with some amazing set for our players to battle in every single game. We have other things that demand our attention: life, work, other hobbies, children, football, etc. Sometimes we just don’t have the time to plan that much in advance. Most of us, while gaming, have a plethora of books around us. We’ve all seen countless movies and we have an amazing assistant, normally standing by at the ready to help: the interwebs. Use these resources. Beg, borrow and steal from those sources. Flip through a book looking at the artwork. Think over the last few movies you saw and dwell on the fight scenes. Open google images and search up images to spur your creativity. My favorite way to do this is to present the players with something, and then let them discuss it between them. Especially in character, players can spend hours arguing in character. This gives you the time to research, borrow and tweak to fit your game.

There you have it. Five ways to spice up your combat or any part of your game really. Use one of them, use all of them. Watch your players come alive and be drawn into the shared story that you are telling. If you find that it helps, that it improves your game at all, share this with your friends on social media, anywhere. Comment below, I love hearing how you all take my ideas and make them your own.

Monte Cook Games has posited that January is NaNewGaMo or National New GM Month.Tweet: Monte Cook Games has posited that January is NaNewGaMo or National New GM Month. You can read about it here on their blog. Having participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I am all for this. Having run RPGs for the last 25 years, I love seeing new people get involved with gaming and especially new people taking a turn at running a game. Keep your eyes peeled for this event in January, I will be covering and participating in it! Cheers!

Weekly Rewind – 05 Dec 14

Weekly Rewind

If you haven’t been paying attention to the news lately, you’ve been missing out on a lot. There are a ton of hot topics being slung about the wires, and people up in arms across the United States concerning them. From Broadway actors, dancers, producers and choreographers protesting in Times Square, to groups of people closing down highways in California. Let’s just say if you aren’t paying attention then you are part of the problem.

Ok, maybe that’s a little unfair. Maybe you’ve been busy. I mean we did just have Thanksgiving and the US Holiday of Black Friday, that’s more than enough holiday cheer to keep the average American citizen from paying attention to social issues…, right? If that’s the case, I’d like you to read below. I’ve listed a few of the major ones you just might want to run through your favorite news service and brush up on. In no particular order, here they are:

1. New York, NY – Eric Garner – All over the news from print to radio to television is the case of 43-year-old Staten Island resident Eric Garner. Garner was detained by at least four police officers (see this YouTube Video) for what seems to be selling loose cigarettes, which is a no-no in the state of New York. Garner, as shown in the video was adamant that he had not done this, and was being harassed by the police. You can see in the video there has been some editing and the police voices are somewhat indistinct, so it is difficult to get the full story. The largest part of this piece is that four police officers took Garner down, one utilizing a choke-hold maneuver (outlawed by the city of New York) which led to the man’s death. If you’re not brushing up on this, go, now… to the Googles!

2. Ferguson, Missouri – The shooting of Michael Brown and the subsequent Grand Jury decision this past week to not indict Police Officer Darren Wilson, has been a major spark to the protesting around the country this week. If you haven’t read up on the case, please at least get an idea of what happened before you make any of your own judgments. CNN does a fairly capable job of summing up the details and the timeline in this article: What happened when Michael Brown met Officer Darren Wilson. Plug in some of the major tags: Michael Brown, Darren Wilson, Ferguson, Shooting and Grand Jury and you will get a fairly good idea of what happened.

3. Cleveland, Ohio – AKA Little Toy Gun – The gist of this sad case? Poor communication and itchy trigger fingers. An individual called 911 to report that someone was waving a gun around a recreational center. They told 911 that it is possible the gun was 1. Fake and that 2. the individual may be a minor. The 911 operator failed to provide this information to the police, Officers Loehmann and Garmback, who arrived on the scene and surveillance footage shows them firing shots into the 12 year old boy 2 seconds after their car comes to a halt. Check out the ABC story here for more information: ABC Story.

4. Washington Post UN article – UN Experts raise concerns… I am adding this article in because I really want to tie all three of these incidents together. They do, of course, have a common element. Actually several… Horrible Communication, Disregard for proper Police procedures and… GUNS. Do you remember a little story from two years ago about a place called Sandy Hook? If you don’t, you might want to type that one into your favorite search engine. Every time a major crisis or event happens within the United States that involves guns the idea to strip Second Amendment rights is brought forward. While I do not think the UN will work to outright take Americans’ weapons by force, I think there is a driving culture in this country set on removing them from the equation.

While I am not here to say the above issues should not be protested and should not be debated because if we do they’ll take our guns away. What I am saying is don’t give up your right to protect yourself, just because you want to feel safer with other people, like the police, disarmed. Just because something is banned, illegal or verboten does not mean people won’t use it. If you give up your weapons so that you can feel safe, that doesn’t not mean a criminal will give up his. No, he’ll keep his so he can rob you.

Benjamin Franklin is so often quoted as having said “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” ”Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.” It’s what I am trying to say now. Don’t give up your rights and freedoms, just so that you can feel safe and believe that others will do the same.

Or to quote another figure:

December – Going from #AmWriting to #AmEditing in 10 Easy steps!

Mind of a Writer

The National Novel Writing Month, set during November, is a wonderful, magic-filled time of scribbling, plotting, typing, crying, coffee-drinking, chocolate-eating, cackling and most of all writing. Each year participants throw themselves into the event with abandon. They toss aside restraint, leave caution in the wind and write, write, write, until their fingers bleed. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating that last point, but it can be pretty close. When we are finished on November 30th (and please remember, it is the 30th, November doesn’t have 31 days or anything like that.) we are left panting, stumbling across a finish line of our own making, to where we collapse in a caffeine-induced coma through December. It doesn’t, however, have to be that way.

Many people, when December 1st dawns, wake up, stretch, rub their eyes and stare at the monstrosity they spent 30 days creating. After the initial shock of “what have I done?” and “how can I ever unleash this horror on the world?” has passed, we are left with one stark, blinding question… “Now what?”

As the NaNoWriMo site will offer – You can join the “Now What” months: January and February. But wait. Why not December? I mean, November wasn’t that hard, was it? I could sit down right now, take my book-baby with three heads, five arms and a tail littered with seven eyes, caress it and make it pretty for the world to see. Ok, stop right there. Back away from the book-baby. Like any new parent, you fall for the same thing. You think your baby is beautiful, special and wonderful just the way it is. You need to stop that. What I am about to say, while it may seem cruel, is necessary: Put it away. Stick it in a folder on your laptop. Put it on the top shelf in your office. Stick it in a safe. Hell, stuff it in a coffee can, go out in the backyard under the light of a new moon and bury it where you can’t find it (But make a map, cause you’ll need to recover it come January).

If you do a quick look about the interwebs, or thumb through your favorite author’s tome on the craft, you’ll find the same advice. Put the newly completed work away. Give yourself some space. Tell the manuscript, “It’s not you, it’s me. I just need some space.” You’ll be grateful for it. Go do something else. Read, write, play video games, crochet handbags for hobos, anything other than looking through your book. Are we clear? Awesome, now for what happens in January and beyond!

1. Print it out – Why you ask? So you can see just what sort of beast you are about to deal with it. Also, because it gives a certain satisfaction to hold a monstrous 300-900 page beast in your hands, cackle manically and say “I created this. It’s mine. It lives, it lives!!” Also, you must be a good consumer and support the economy by buying reams of paper and ink. Or you could print it out at work and… wait, what? Ok, legal says I can’t suggest you steal from your work. Point is, print that puppy out. Turn it from 1’s and 0’s into a real thing, something you can hold in your hand. Lift both of them and say, I did this.

2. Read it – I’m not talking about sitting down on a cold winter’s night, warm blanket wrapped around you and a hot cup of cocoa at your side. No, what I am talking about is 5am, house is freezing cold and your manuscript is all that you have left to burn. Read it like you stole it. Burn through it and be critical. Get some highlighters, some pencils and the one tool no High School English Teacher would ever leave her house without: The Red Pen. Cut up your manuscript. Use your tools like a scalpel. Point out every flaw, every mistake and then move on to the next. You are a Drill Instructor zeroing in on a recruits screw up and moving on. Read all the way through, don’t stop, don’t take breaks, get through to the end.

3. Give it away – Ask other people to read it. Remember that this your bouncing book-baby. It’s cute, cuddly and it could never do any wrong… yeah,  you need a fresh pair of eyes. Ask your mom, your dad, siblings, significant-other(s), (I put that in plural in case some of you polyamorous peoples are reading this, you guys rock) Co-workers, neighbors, the kid that delivers your paper, your high school gym teacher, the guy who cuts your hair, random people on the street! Get someone else to read it and give you their take on it. Yes, writing is a very personal endeavor, but guess what? To mis-quote Hilary Clinton “editing a book takes a village”.

4. Keep many iterations –  Hopefully you’ve swung into the digital age and your not editing on an old Remington typewriter snug high up in the Rocky Mountains while your wife tries to pretend that everything is just fine and your son is getting freaky dead chicks flashing him in the empty rooms of the hotel your babysitting. Preferably, you are doing your edits on a computer. Every time you make a change, save it as a different version. Didn’t like the way little Johnny is coming across and you make wide-sweeping changes turning him into little Joan? You never know, you might want to go back. If you have the previous edition, you can do just that.

5. Advice from multiple sources – Don’t just listen to me, or Stephen King or Ayn Rand, or your barber on how to edit your novel. Find multiple people and look at their advice. Take from it. Mix and match, think of any advice as ala carte. You can pick and choose and make the editing meal that you can stomach. Besides it’s always best to have a cornucopia of information, rather than taking in the same thing every day.

6. Reverse – Having trouble because you’re still in love with your hideous three-armed book-baby? Cut that out! Start at the back, read through to the front. Think of it as looking at it from a new perspective. Here you don’t have the distractions of plot, characterization, and development. You just have a jumble words, in the wrong order, but you can focus on individual pages, rather than the book as a whole.

7. Listen to the words on the wind – No, I’m not rewriting a Disney song. Find apps, software and devices that utilize text-to-speech. Have them read your novel to you. Hearing the actual flow of the words can help immensely in spotting problems. Don’t have the money for such new-age, fangled doo-hickeys? Read it aloud yourself, or have someone else read it to you. In fact, do both if you can. Text-to-speech can sometimes come across like a robot reading to you. Having a real voice, a real person put tone to your words will give you another perspective on your growing book-baby.

8. Invest – Think about putting down $3-6-9-18 on a piece of software that can assist you. There are two that come up time and again when I do searches: Grammarly.com and Hemingway App. These two do more than just your Microsoft Word spell check. They look at grammar, punctuation, use of passive voice and give you an overall idea of the strength of your writing. The old adage states “You have to spend money to make money” , same is true for writing. Want to get published? You’re going to have to invest.

9. A For-Realz Editor – Yep, I said it. A real, no-shit, suit and tie, tough-as-nails, red-pen-wielding, flesh-and-blood person who’s career is – EDITOR. Yes, it is going to cost you, but just as #8 said, you need to invest. What you put into your work is what you will get out. If you decide to go this route, do your research. Don’t just Google: Editor and hit “I’m feeling lucky” because you won’t be. Look through periodicals on the subject, market guides, talk to other writers, get opinions and reviews, and most of all, talk to the person before you enter into a relationship with them. I mean, you’re about to give them your little book-baby. They’re going to hold it in their arms and then slice it up with a red pen before handing it back. You want to trust them, right?

10. Kill your darlings – As William Faulkner is attributed having said, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings” . There is a lot of debate as to what he meant by it. I’m going to give you my take. When I am writing, I love throwing things in that tickle my twisted sense of humor. I like giving characters certain quirks. As I’ve been stating in the past 9 steps, you’ve just created this work of… ok we’ll be nice and call it ART. It’s your pwetty-wittle-boowk-bwaby and you just wants to bounce its wittle bottom on your wap… cut that out. You have to be critical. Look at the things that you love, that just tickle you pink about your novel and ask some hard questions like: “Does this further my plot?” , “Does this promote character development?” and “Does this have anything to do with the plot, theme, character or story?” If it doesn’t, you need to kill that darling.

There you have it. Ten of my steps for moving on from writing to editing as you close out your NaNoWriMo season. I’ve included below some links to other blogs that can help give you some differing perspectives and ideas on what to do. Look them over, pick what you like from them, most of all EDIT. Get it done, no excuses. Cheers!

Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Mind’s Blog – 25 Steps to Edit the Unmerciful Suck Out of Your Story

SEOCopy Writing – What Stephen King can teach you about editing

Writer’s Digest – 7 Tips for Revising a Novel

 

Jazzland (pt 2)

jazzland

 

Just down Pontchartrain Beach’s boardwalk, across from the derelict remains of a Ferris wheel appropriately named the Big Easy, is a dilapidated husk once called the Jazz Burger Café. I can only imagine what they once served here, Cajun fries, sweet tea, and shrimp po boy’s no doubt. From the look of what is left, I wouldn’t want to eat anything coming off its’ grill.

“It’s in there.” Annette says.

The Brain and I both turn to find her pointing into the underbelly of the stilted building. Just out luck, the darkest part, but then these things never do like coming to the light. We exchange a look between us, before walking over to Annette.

“What do you see, Hoss?” The Brain asks me.

He knows I hate the name. I suppose it’s the curse of my last name: Cartwright.

I take a few minutes to clear my head. It’s the only way I can really tune myself into the sludgy underflow of stomach turning spirit. I take a deep breath, letting everything of me out, and emptying myself until I can feel it waiting to spill into my soul.

I open my eyes. She’s been here. It’s been here. Whatever it is, the same green-lit prints, glowing just beyond normal ken, pace in between the lattice covering the stilts.

“Yeah, she went through here.” I answer.

The Brain rolls his head side-to-side, bouncing lightly on his feet, like a prize fighter prepping to enter the ring against an opponent. I know with the rolling waves of aggression and impatience I’ve been getting off of him, and his jealousy of my relationship with Annette, that he’s itching for something to happen.

I pray he’s wrong. I hope the place is empty.

I let him lead the way. Pushing one section of lattice work to the side, opening up a gaping maw for the three of us to enter through. I half expect a blood-drenched sign proclaiming “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” , but it’s never that straightforward with this shit.

There’s a place, way down the 23, after it ends, turning into Tidewater drive and then a little dirt track called Dgs road. Pretty much after the Chevron station you need a four-wheel drive, a swamp boat or you’re hoofing it. It ain’t nothing more than a bunch of old shanties, built up on stilts, a bit like this café. I was down there, two years ago, looking for a little girl named Marie Cross.

Her parents, having fled the state after the storm, called me from Austin, Texas. I drove out there. Heard their story and went on the hunt for their little girl. I dug through her room, her toys, and her clothes. Everything I found pointed me back to the bayous of their former home.

I’ve known, ever since I first joined the Seekers, that there is something out there. Something just beyond our understanding, our ken. Like an oily film surrounding the earth that if you touch it light enough, you can sense the malice it has for us. Finding Marie Cross made me realize it’s more than a feeling.

I found that little girl and three others. Stuffed in old chicken coops, being fattened up on candies and other sweets. The family that had taken them, deranged, craven creatures, put up a fight that left me with a limp in my right leg I still favor today. I say this, so it is understood. This thing, this unknowable, indiscernible, unfathomable thing… wants something from us.

It twists our very natures, the good and the bad, into something that aches to supplicate themselves before its will. That family, hungry for a different life, was twisted into something that would draw innocence in and feed it to what is waiting beyond.

“Here.” Annette says, breaking me from my revere.

The underside, what goes for a basement, of this café, is a concrete slab, littered with the dregs of what was abandoned when the storm clawed its way through. Everything has been soaked to the core, dried out and left to rot in the humid, stagnant air.

Annette points to a small box, resting, just visibly, beneath a bucketful of muck and rotting food. At least I hope that’s what it is.

I look at Brain and give him a ‘well, it is your job’ kinda look.

He rolls his eyes and reaches down, brushing away the debris to seize the thing in his hand. It seizes him right back. His eyes roll back in his head. Only the stark, ivory-white balls showing through his lashes. His body goes rigid and trembles as if wracked by a small seizure. Annette reaches out to him in terror, but I hold her back. It’s best not to touch someone in its grip.

I watch as the Brain collapses to his knees in the dirt and the filth. It finally releases him and he empties everything in his stomach onto the floor amidst the rest of the muck. Looks like a double bacon cheeseburger, fries and a strawberry milk shake, or is that blood?

Once he’s stopped convulsing I let Annette go to him. She kneels down, oblivious to what he has just spewed about the floor. She cups his face in her hands and stares into his eyes. I can see the concern there, the love she has for him. I know that I’ve never seen her look at me like that. I know I never will, but it still gets under my skin.

“What did you see?” She asks him.

His eyes slide from her, across her shoulder and up to me. I can see something, a shadow, a glimmer of that unfathomable source play across his features. As William Faulkner once said, ‘When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you.’ She helps him to his feet.

“She was here… she comes here. This is where she… prepares her meals.” The Brain says.

I glance about, taking the time to look harder into the muck and mire of this shattered beast. Pieces that I had assumed to be broken bits of wood, sticks, and debris, now focus, solidify, revealing their true nature. A skull here, a femur there, three ribcages, mixed together with dirt, mud and a thick olive jellied material that I can’t place.

“Let’s end this.” I say.

The other two nod, and follow me out.