Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

A blog sibling

April 3, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been derelict over here, mostly because I was working on an idea for a new blog, which, as inaccurate as it may be, I am going to call this blog’s younger sibling. That’s because it is made up of a whole category of things that Sam and I haven’t posted on here — namely, our personal travels.

If only I had a cool suitcase like this 🙂

Traveling is such a different kind of thing to write about. You’re out of your element, on a laptop somewhere, looking at things from an outsider’s perspective. For us, living up here in the rural North, it usually means driving many hours away. It didn’t seem like something that fit on the pages of this blog.  But we’re traveling more and more, and finding really neat things wherever we go, and I’d really like to share them!

So this weekend I put up the first posts on the new travel blog, which is hopefully-not-too-cliched in its name; There and Back Again.  I won’t take up too much more room here about it, but I’d love if you come over, read, maybe subscribe (hint, hint), share your own travel ideas and comments, and hopefully have some fun.


Long time, no blog

February 25, 2011 1 comment

The other day Kim and I were finishing up some freelance work when she turned to me and mentioned this blog. The question, it seemed, was why we weren’t writing in it anymore.

“Ummmmmm… because we already work 70 hours weeks?” I responded, though without the confidence I would have needed to shut the door on the subject completely. Instead, it turned into a discussion, and the decision that there really isn’t enough going on that we shouldn’t be able to post on here once a week or so.

So, we’re back. Well, technically speaking, I’m back. Kim is showering right now and will be headed off to a 90-minute massage soon. Me? Well, I have to work, which is why it’s nice to take a few moments and do some writing that isn’t deadline driven or forced at a maddening pace.

Since the last time we posted, a lot has happened. We’ve picked up a lot of freelance work (hence our absence) and we manage a couple of sites for Issue Media Group, namely UP Second Wave and Northwest Michigan Second Wave (we manage Mid Michigan Second Wave, too, but we’re in the process of finding a new editor to keep tabs on that one). Needless to say, that takes up a bulk of our time. In addition, Kim freelances for the Marquette Monthly and I am freelancing sports for weekly papers in Northville and Novi.

We also moved into a new house, which is pretty cool. It costs far less than our old apartment and we will outright own it in less than four years. Pretty good choice, hey?

Outside of that, for the most part, it’s been the same ol’ life here in the Upper Peninsula. Of course, we’re not complaining about that.

Let me wrap up this quick post by saying that we apologize for not being around more, but want to make a concerted effort to change our ways. Look for new posts at least once a week and let us know if you have any comments or questions.

Hard to believe…

It’s hard to believe that it’s been three weeks since I last posted. That’s how crazy life has been around here lately.

Everything went well with my mom’s shoulder surgery. Thanks for all of the words of support from the readership out there. I have to say I was impressed with the number of messages I received. I didn’t know you guys cared so much.

But, I digress. Things have just been a little out of sorts when it comes to getting scheduling down pat. School is coming to an end around here, so that’s been a little crazy with the kiddo and all. I started a new managing editor job for an online e-magazine, and that’s a ton more work than I had originally pictured it to be in my head. To top it all off, we’re signing on our house tomorrow and there have been hoops after hoops for us to jump through.

We’ve jumped though and, in the end, it’s worth it.

But, honestly, I just wanted to take a moment and apologize to everyone. I promise that starting this week things will start to get back on track. I’m starting to feel like life is a little more under control and that I have a grip on all the work I have on the table right now. Once it all starts flowing smooth and I’m out of that “new” mode where I’m struggling with everything, I’m sure I’ll have just as much time as I used to have.

In the meantime, I hope everyone has been having a great spring. It’s been hot here (a little too hot at times, reaching into the 90s in the Upper Peninsula in May!), but it’ll seem like a distant memory come November when there’s a few feet of snow on the ground.

Thanks for sticking around and for checking back in. Like I said, things are getting back on track and I’ll be posting regularly again beginning this week.

Unplanned absence

May 18, 2010 Leave a comment

I just wanted to write a quick note of apology and explanation to all who have been reading — We love you but we’ve had to put the blog on the back burner for a little while. I went on vacation for a week right after we launched a new web site, which you can find at Getting that straightened out plus other work commitments, family medical issues, and getting very close to being homeowners (shooting for June 1, wish us luck!) have all conspired to make blog posting a thing only dreamed about. We hope to be back in the saddle soon, but in the meantime, read some of our work for U.P. Second Wave in the link above; Geek Girl on the Street, found in the blogroll; or Northeast Hunting, also in the blogroll. And happy summer! It’s actually warming up around here and it’s delightful.

As I write this letter…

April 19, 2010 2 comments
Quills & Ink
Image by Serendoxity via Flickr

One of the very thoughtful and cool presents I got from Sam at Christmas was a quill pen set, the real old-fashioned kind with a feather pen, metal nib set and nut-brown ink bottle. I don’t know how he knew I would love this, since I don’t recall ever expressing a wish for one, but once it was in my hands, it was exactly what I didn’t know I needed. I’m fascinated by thoughts of what life was like before many of the technological advances we take for granted today, and I don’t mean just computers and cell phones. I mean no telephone lines, cars, air travel — Really old-fashioned. Like when ideas, philosophies, and news were passed through hand-written letters in the early days of the American colonies. Of course, being fascinated with the idea of it and actually doing it are entirely different things.

Since Christmas, I’ve sent out a few rounds of handwritten letters with my quill pen & bottle of ink, in each apologizing profusely for my terrible penmanship, lack of finesse with ink pressure and poor letter formation. They’ve gone to family and very close friends; obviously, it’s not the kind of thing you send someone you aren’t really close to! For one thing, the sheer effort and time involved in writing with pen and ink is astonishing. I know a lot of that is because I’m not very practiced in it, as it’s an acquired skill. I’m of a generation that grew up typing everything instead of writing it out by hand, and my elementary school days were the last time I hand-wrote anything significant.

But even more of a change than the time involved is the different thought processes you use when forming each letter carefully with ink. You must consider every word, and you must form an entire thought before even starting the sentence, because you can’t erase or delete anything in any meaningful way. Sure, I’ve scratched out a few badly-formed letters, but you can’t rephrase a sentence that didn’t come out right. That’s just not the way I’ve grown up writing, or even the way of writing I make my living from. Now, we think faster, type faster, and can change what we’ve written so quickly that the words mean less.

It sounds like a pain to write letters this way, and it is to an extent. But it’s also strangely addicting. It’s contemplative and almost meditative. It forces me to slow down, be mindful, and think my words through. And there’s really nothing neater than seeing a beautifully turned sentence from your own hand. (I find I use the letters ‘w’, ‘l’, and all the dangling ones way more often cause they look so cool!) When I don’t write anything with the quill set for awhile, I find myself thinking about how letters look on the paper, or the feeling of creating a bold, confident sentence with strong, elegant pen strokes. It’s truly writing at its most basic, and most satisfying.

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Like father, like daughter

April 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Shaylyn sure loves her chicken wings... sometimes she can't wait to get a taste.

You may not be aware of this, but Kim and I aren’t the only writers here at Pen > Sword. Wandering around the house is my daughter, Shaylyn, who has already started her own book about adventurers and Egypt as well as a movie script she is working on based on the same subject.

In addition, my kiddo, who I affectionately call “Green Bean,” writes her own blog. Admittedly, she comes up with the meat of the posts and I edit them and clean them up, but I never mess with the intent or the focus.

Her blog, Chick ‘N Wings, is written on the subject of all things chicken wings. She reviews joints she stops at, reviews sauces and tries to keep everyone updated on news in the industry. She’s also going to add some recipes in the coming weeks.

Since her blog is relatively new, there isn’t a ton of content, but it’s still worth a quick gander. If you do go over and check it out, please try to take the time to leave a comment, or subscribe via email (the field to do so is on the right-hand side).

I applaud her for her drive in this. She’s always the first to order chicken wings and then look at me and tell me to whip out the ol’ iPhone to get some photos for the blog.

Like they say: The egg doesn’t fall far from the chicken’s butt, hey?

World Wide Writing Workshop

March 23, 2010 Leave a comment
Image representing WEbook as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

For those of us who learned how to craft our writing with the help of classes, workshops and writing groups, the writing life after academia can be suddenly loose-ended. Although writers do tend to be egomaniacs, it’s hard to know whether you’re even writing anything anyone wants to read, and how to fix the faults in your own writing — if you can see them.

This lack of community support recently drove me to a Facebook writing workshop group of some trusted friends and former colleagues, which has proved to be a pretty good tool so far. I’ve gotten to read other writers’ work, and gotten great ideas on how to improve my own. But not everyone can do that, especially if you don’t have a network of other writers to draw on.

I recently ran across a site called WeBook that bills itself as a global writer‘s workshop, and from my explorations, it seems pretty active, and is set up usefully and attractively. You can post your writing projects, ask for feedback, invite others to contribute, etc… And hopefully, draw the attention of a book agent to your work. That’s the hope for every writer, isn’t it? WeBook also will let you just review and read other writings instead of putting your own out there for the public to read.

They’ve also started a new contest-type submission option called Page to Fame, where you submit (for a fee, of course) the first page of your work, and readers rate it up or down. If you get a high enough reader rating, you’ll get the attention of a judge who may kick your work up to another level, where you can submit a whole chapter. There’s a few levels of this, and at the top is a theoretical book contract. Or, you can always just register as a reader, and pass judgment on the pages that have been submitted… I found that kind of fun, but I have an inner harpy editor instead of an inner child, so… you know. I like passing judgment on people’s writing. Anyway, I took the $5 leap and submitted a page of a romance novel I started a while ago (I know, how plebeian, but they sell, I like to read them, and they’re fun to write.)  I forgot about it for a while, logged back in today, and was pleasantly surprised that 58 percent of Page to Fame raters gave me a thumbs-up. Of course… That does mean 42 percent didn’t like it enough to keep reading, so I guess it could use some more work.

I would tell you all to go and vote for it, but the process is blind for raters, so you can’t tell whose submission you are rating, and you can’t filter or search through them beyond genre. That’s good though; it means people who don’t give a crap if I succeed or not are the ones judging it, and you can’t ask for a fairer assessment than that, really.

I doubt this contest will lead to a book contract, honestly, but it’s worth the few dollars to me to see how I stack up against other would-be writers, and the chance, however small, of a publisher taking notice.

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