Author's Blog

Writing Security

Everywhere you look, sadly, there is some form of security to protect our valuables. Alarms and motion detectors for the home, anti-auto theft devices for vehicles, heavy duty locks for bikes, safes for money and valuables, passwords and encryption to protect data, and the list goes on and on.

Computer and Network Security

I wonder if there is anything of value nowadays that doesn’t get secured?

Regrettably not unless you’re asking to part with it.

Because of high theft, we have become a locked up, secured, and highly protected society. Anything valuable must have security to protect it.

So what do I use to protect my writing?

My hard-earned labor of love gets only the best of security from my trusted Iron Key.

iron key

The World's Most Secure Flash Drive

What’s an Iron Key?

It’s a type of heavy-duty memory key that travels with me wherever I go, protecting all my written stories. It’s the world’s most secure flash drive with military-grade encryption. Comes with a secure private browser that protects your password when online and cannot be disabled by worms, viruses or other malware.

I accidently put it to the test when I used my son’s infected laptop. Although I ignorantly worked on the laptop for a number of hours, unaware it had a virus, nothing on my key was compromised. Phew!

Should I lose my key, ten incorrect passwords tries will literally disintegrate the data, meaning no trace of recovery and  insuring my work doesn’t get into dishonest hands. As well, a rugged, tamper-resistant, waterproof, metal casing that protects against physical damage should I accidently subject it to the elements.

drop boxFor Backing Up and Storing Files

Of course, in addition, all my writing is backed up to a secure hosting service like Drop Box and a personal hard drive. Unfortunately, once my stories are published or distributed, the protection is minimal. Plagiarism is a thriving industry, but at least, I have the peace of mind of having it under lock and key until it reaches my readers.


Motto of the Month

Awhile back, I began to practice my, “Motto of the Month”, to help develop, motivate, and improve myself in all facets of my life.

What is my “Motto of the Month?”

At the beginning of every month, I come up with a motto that I incorporate faithfully for that month.

Calendar

Why for a month?

Because I learned that, it takes at least three weeks to break bad habits.

When I first started using a rule to live by each month, it had been strictly for my writing practices, but I later incorporated it to encompass the rest of my tasks.

One motto that I used was something that I had always impressed upon my children to do: Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability.

I was already doing my writing to the best of my ability, but what about my other tasks.

Tasks you enjoy come easily; the ones you dislike are the ones that need dedication.

By everything, I meant every task like doing errands, cleaning, laundry (which I absolutely hate), grocery shopping, telephone calls, flossing teeth, planning dinner, taking out garbage, car washing, working-out, and so forth. You get the idea. No matter what the task, I would do it to the best of my ability.

It’s amazing when you start to analyze each task you take-to-hand, how much improvement can be added if you do it to the best of your ability. I have to admit that I found it sad how many of my mundane and disliked tasks were not completed to the standard I was capable of doing them.

Doing everything with

  1. care
  2. precision
  3. quality

can enormously enhance your life and the life of others. Surprisingly, it doesn’t even take that much more time to do things to the best of your ability; in fact, I found it often saved me time in the long run. I didn’t need to redo or finishing doing something that was only partly or incorrectly done.

What it did require was mental energy, the willingness to do it to my best standards.

After applying my “Motto of the Month” for a whole month, it started to become automatic. I have never looked at a task the same again. I do my jobs with pride and have a great sense of satisfaction knowing I did it to the best I was capable of doing it.

I highly recommend you try this motto, everything you do, do to the best of your ability, and see the phenomenal results you get. I assure you, your life we be enormously improved.

Real or Unreal Characters

I often get the question, “Are your characters based on real people?”

My answer is yes and no.

To answer the question properly, I need to tell you how I develop my characters.

When I see a person who does something, or says something that grabs my attention in a big way, I begin to make him/her into a story character. Of course, when I’m finished with my story character, he/she is no longer remotely close to the person who caught my attention in the first place. However, the substance of that person was the first building blocks for creating my story character, so I like to think that a part of my story character is real.

The Alkahest - Alternative Cover

An alternative book cover for The Alkahest

Not all my story characters are created this way. Some are a conglomeration of traits gathered from many personality types to produce the right story character for the role.

I would never use a real person in my stories because real people are boring in fiction. Story characters must be many times exaggerated and then some. They must be grander than life. Having said that, story characters are more reasonable in what they say or do. They have to be for the reader to understand them. In real life, people do irrational things, and we don’t understand why. In fiction, the reader understands why story characters do the things they do. They need to for the story to make sense to them.

“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” – Tom Clancy

That is the great thing about fiction and one of the main reasons that I love to write fiction – it’s different than life, more exaggerated than life is and far more versatile. My characters can do so much more, be so much more, and change so much faster than in real life.

I read and write fiction to escape everyday life. Real life people have their moments, but in fiction, the story characters, by far, outshine reality in a grandiose way.

Simple is Better

While in the process of editing my novel, I’ve come across areas where I need improvement, and one of those areas is my word choice. Even my editor, Pat Lobrutto, stresses to me to keep my writing simple.

I think all of us like to show off now and then, but in writing, it is something you can’t afford to do. So now, I’m searching my manuscript for areas where I need to simplify.

Writing should be invisible. By invisible, I mean that readers, as they read, don’t notice the words but grasp only the idea the words relay.

Typewriter

Invisible writing is simple writing.

As I comb through my work, I’m looking for areas that have too much complex wordage, areas where I can say things in a simpler way that makes it effortless for the reader to comprehend.

As usual, editing your own work is a difficult task. We don’t always see our own mistakes. To try to catch the areas in my work where I have overdone my words, I go through the following steps:

Take out big words and replace them with simple ones – I try to remove unusual or uncommon words in a sentence. If I need or want to use an unusual or uncommon word that happens to suit well, I make sure to limit one of those per sentence.

Write for your audience – I try to write my sentences with the idea in mind that regardless of who is reading it, they will understand what I’m writing. Gearing my writing to approximately a grade nine reading level ensures everyone understands.

Clarify unfamiliar words – In fiction writing, especially in fantasy, where some words are “made up”, the reader needs to know what those words mean – no dictionary will tell them. I try through dialogue or added information, to explain the meaning to the reader. Specialized terminology or abstruse words, I think are often better replaced.

After taking away complex wordage, it is amazing how it makes not only the writing more understandable but also the story better.