January 28, 2021 / 2 Comments

Keeping Our Heads Down

This is something I’ve talked about several times here on the ol’ ranty writing blog, but I realized I haven’t talked specifically about it in, well, many years. Too many years, really. Definitely not since I’ve tried to lean away from the more ranty, accusatory tone I tended to write in back at the start of this.

Look, reading all those movie scripts made me pull out a lot of hair.

I talked a month or so back about the idea of a contract between author and reader. There’s one other aspect to that contract, a sub clause, and I think it’s one of those “so obvious we don’t think about it” sort of things. To be blunt, nobody’s picking up one of my books to hear from me. Or to see me.

I mean, sure, they like a lot of the characters and worlds I’ve created. Some folks probably (hopefully!) like my style enough that they’re willing to try something new from me. But they still don’t want to see me. They want the story, and they definitely don’t want me getting between them and it.

Now, this doesn’t mean I’m going to follow you home from the bookstore and stick my hand between you and the page or sing nonsense in your ear. It’s just that nobody wants me distracting them from the fact they’re reading my story. They just want to sink into that world and get lost.

Yeah, of course, on one level you know I crafted each of those sentences and paragraphs, chose where all

the breaks

should go, but we have this quiet understanding that I won’t be leaning over your shoulder asking “Did you like that? Did you see what I did there? Wasn’t that clever?” You just want to immerse yourself and forget about the world for a little bit. Or at least get to look at it from a neater angle.

That was jarring, wasn’t it? That weird paragraph break? It was only two lines, but it broke the flow for a second, and you stopped hearing my voice and started hearing your own instead. Probably saying something like “was that a mistake? Is he doing beat poetry? Was he trying to do something funny there?”

And this is the worst thing that can happen to a writer. I don’t want you thinking about me. I want you to be thinking about Hector and Natalie and the people they’re running away from. If you’re noticing me, thinking about what I’m doing… it means I’ve done something wrong.

Think of it this way. It’s the difference between the tough guy in a story who commits unimaginable acts of excessive violence to look tough… and the tough guy who doesn’t need to commit those acts. The one we understand is more impressive without seeing a blatant demonstration. Being able to restrain myself is usually more impressive than how excessive I can be. Less of us is more of the story.

So here’s four easy ways I can keep my literary head down.

Vocabulary— When I started out, I know I desperately wanted to show I had a better vocabulary than the average person. Because that’s a hallmark of a good writer, yes? I didn’t want to use common, pedestrian words, the words just anyone would use. I was a skilled anecdotist, after all, not some mere amanuensis.

And let’s be honest—I wasn’t alone. This is a phase a lot of us go through as we’re starting out. We latch onto (or more often, look up) obscure and flowery words for our literary masterpiece, as if we’re going to get a quarter every time the reader has to look something up. And if the reader doesn’t enjoy going to the Miriam-Webster site every three paragraphs? Well that sounds like their problem, doesn’t it? Not my fault you’ve got such a limited vocabulary.

Truth is, any word I choose just to get attention—to prove I don’t need to use a common word—is the wrong word. Any word that makes my reader stop reading and start analyzing from context is the wrong word. I can try to justify my word choice any way I like, but nobody’s picking up my book hoping for a vocabulary lesson. When a reader can’t figure out what’s being said for the fourth or fifth time and just decides to toss my manuscript in the big pile on the left… there’s only one person to blame.

(It’s not them, in case you had any lingering thoughts on the matter)

Structure— Just like obscure vocabulary, convoluted structure’s another common sign of writer ego. One of the most common forms of this is insisting on grammatical perfection. This usually mean a lot of rigid, formal text and very stiff dialogue. It’s when I get so insistent on proving I know the correct way to structure a sentence my words end up sounding forced and artificial. Also worth noting the flipside of this which is insisting I don’t need to follow any grammar or spelling conventions. Punctuation? Capitalization? Those are tired tropes for losers.

The second most common sign is needless complication. I can admit I used to write—or try to write—sprawling, impenetrable prose. Sentences that went on and on. Descriptions that never ended. It took someone two pages to step through a doorway because we had to know what kind of socks and underwear they were wearing and what flavor toothpaste they preferred. If they were mentioned in the text, I had to remind you of these facts and how they were posed at the exact moment they spoke. Believe me, if something could be explained or described in less than ten words, I’d find a way to do it in at least fifty.

And while I never got quite that bad, there are also some writers who choose arcane story structures or points of view or tenses. Just because they can. Things will go from non-linear first person musings to omniscient third person flashbacks to second person song lyrics and then to a telepathic gestalt mind that only speaks in one of those single, three page sentences I was just talking about. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things, in a general sense, but so often they’re not there to serve the story. It’s just an attempt to look cool and do cool things. If I want to do something like this, I should be able to explain why I’m doing it. And the explanation needs to better than “y’know… reasons,” or I’m just going to leave my readers confused and frustrated as they get knocked out of my story again and again.

Said—Sad admission, kind of going with the vocabulary point up above. For many, many years I didn’t use said. Said was, in my opinion, the lowest common denominator of dialogue descriptors. It’s the kind of word used by writers who weren’t going places, writers not destined for greatness, like I clearly was. Not only that, I’d try to never us the same descriptor on a page twice. So in my early work my characters would respond, retort, exclaim, demand, muse, mutter, sneer, snap, shout, snarl, grumble, growl, whimper, whisper, hiss, yelp, yell, exclaim, or ejaculate. 

Oh, grow up. It was a common dialogue descriptor for years. Really.

Of course, once I finally got to sit down and talk with a professional editor and show him a few pages, this was the very first thing he commented on. Truth is, nobody notices said on the page. It’s an invisible word. Yeah, of course there’s going to be times when my characters are hissing or shouting or gasping. But I should save those words for then so their impact hasn’t been used up and weakened. The vast majority of the  time… stick to said.

Names—If used in moderation, names are also invisible. If you think about it, they’re just a shorthand note for the mental image of my character or MacGuffin or whatever. And they help us keep things straight if I’ve got a bunch of people all talking together.

It’s worth mentioning many fledgling sci-fi or fantasy writers feel the need to rename a lot of things. Or everything. Characters have all-new, correct-for-this-world names and so do their pets. And their gods. And their elements. And their system of weights and measures, their money, their units of time…  It’s great worldbuilding, but I’d guess 83% of the time this is just wasted words.  My elaborate sci-fi empire won’t collapse if I call mind-to-mind communication telepathy, but it might if I keep calling it intralobeech, which, as we all know, is short for “intralobe speech.”

Which, as we all know, is telepathy.

Always remember that moderation is key. Even a simple name like Bob can stack up and get distracting really quick. Which is why the ancient ones created…

Pronouns–when those proper names start to stack up, we switch to pronouns.  Just like names are shorthand for story elements, pronouns are shorthand for those names. When nouns start to clutter up my writing, they’re there to leap in and shoulder the weight.  It’s how Hector becomes he, that mysterious island becomes there, and a Hudson Hornet becomes it.

The catch here is I need to make sure my pronouns are clear. No questions exceptionally clear, ‘cause the moment someone gets confused about which her I’m referring to, they’re going to stop reading my story and start studying the page. We’ve all had to do that, right? Feel our way though a paragraph so we’re clear who she is. Or work backwards through the dialogue, trying to figure out who’s speaking which lines. I’m always super-careful with pronouns, because I don’t want that happening to anyone in my books.

Again—pronouns good. Pronoun confusion—bad. And it’s a writing rule you can apply to real life.

So there they are.  Four simple ways to keep our collective heads down so readers don’t see us standing there. Staring at them. Waiting to be noticed.

Y’see, Timmy, every time I make my reader hesitate or pause just for a second, I’m breaking the flow of the story. I’m encouraging them to skim at best, put the book down at worst. My reader should forget they’re paging through the latest Peter Clines novel, hopefully forget they’re reading altogether. And the easiest way to make that happen is for them not to see the writing.

It’s tempting to wave our arms and shout and try to get the reader to admit they can see us, but all this does is ruin things for everyone. It’s like Sherlock Holmes showing how he came to his amazing deductions or a magician explaining their greatest illusion. That moment is when the whole thing falls apart.

As writers, we need to go unnoticed. We want our characters to be seen and our dialogue to be heard, yeah. We want our action and passion and suspense to leave people breathless, absolutely.

But we’re just distractions.

Next time… hmmmmm. Not sure. I’m open to requests or suggestions if anyone has any. If not, I might tell you about a conversation I recently had with someone about getting published.

Until then… don’t let me see you writing.

November 15, 2018 / 1 Comment

The Telephone Game

            Hey, here we are.  Exactly halfway through NaNoWriMo.  How are things going?  Hopefully you’re about halfway through your goals.  Don’t freak out if you’re not.  There’s still plenty of time to get caught up.  You’re going to nail this.
            Anyway, I had an interesting back-and-forth with my editor last month, and I thought it would be worth sharing with you.

            I’ve talked a bit in the past about dialogue descriptors.  They’re one of those things that can be a bit tricky at first.  I don’t want to use too many different descriptors, to the point that I’m distracting from what’s actually being said.  I also don’t want to fall into a habit of using too many proper names, but… I don’t want to overuse pronouns to the point of being confusing.  And really, if I can trim away excess descriptors altogether, that can really pick up the pace.  Unless they’re there deliberately for pacing reasons.

            Not confusing at all so far, right?
            So here’s a wild theory of mine I’d like you to consider.
            And it’s a bit rambly.  Sorry.
            I think, on an instinctive level, we tend to view—or hear, I guess—dialogue as a binary thing.  A back and forth between two people.  Wakko speaks to Dot, Dot replies to Wakko, Wakko replies to Dot, and so on. 
            Because this is such a normal and natural thing for us, it’s how we interpret most conversations.  If I show you a page of nothing but dialogue, the automatic assumption is going to be that it’s between two people.  A to B to A to B.  It’s just how things tend to line up in our minds.
            This gives us a lot of stuff to play with as writers.  If Wakko speaks to Dot, the inherent understanding is that Dot’s reply is going to be to Wakko.  Which means we don’t need to point out she’s talking to him.  Sure, I might need something  if there are five people in the conversation, but when it’s just one on one dialogue, constantly pointing out who’s talking and who they’re talking to this can be… excessive.  I mean, who else could Dot be talking to?  Does she think out loud a lot?
            Likewise, I don’t need to explain that Wakko’s responding to Dot.  I probably don’t even need to say who’s responding.  Again, my reader’s already thinking in a binary mode, so they’ll figure it out on their own.  They’ll probably be glad I’m not spoon-feeding it to them, to be honest.  Again, A-B-A-B-A-B… this isn’t tough for a reader to understand.  I don’t need to label each element of it.
            Now here’s something to keep in mind.

            Have you ever had to do something that’s very repetitive?  Maybe something at work, maybe something for fun.  Stapling forms, ping-pong, folding laundry, even just one of those toys where you hit the rubber ball with a paddle?  Anything where it’s just one-two -done, one-two -done, one-two-done, and so on?
            Personally, I’ve found that the real killer in these situations is stopping to think about what I’m doing.  The moment I consider howI’m whacking that rubber ball again and again and again is the moment I lose my rhythm.  It’s when I stumble and mess up and have to go back to square one.

            I think the same holds for dialogue.  I can keep that back and forth and back and forth going for pages if my rhythm’s good.  It’ll be fast and smooth and just amazing.
            The moment I give the reader a reason to think about that back and forth of dialogue—any reason—is the moment they’re going to stumble.  And when they stumble, they’re going to stop and have to backtrack.  I’ve knocked them out of the story, and now they’ve gone from reading and enjoying it to… examining and measuring it.
            So during these long stretches of back and forth dialogue, it’s not a bad thing to remind the reader who’s speaking at points.  Especially if there might be something going on with my actionor my structure that might make them question who’s speaking.  Again, I don’t want to risk a stumble.
            Now, going off something I brushed up against above…
            I think things get chaotic in dialogue when there are multiple speakers and the writer isn’t clear about it.  If I suddenly introduce Phoebe into the conversation between Wakko and Dot, this isn’t A-B-A-B anymore.  There’s a random C in there somewhere.  And if I don’t make it clear where it is, it’s going to make my reader stumble and break the flow.  Again, I want people reading my story, not analyzing it.
            So introducing that third element into the conversation is a great place for dialogue descriptors. In fact… I might go so far as to say it’s almost a necessary place for them.  I want to be very clear if it’s A, B, or C talking.

            Y’see, Timmy, we’re always going to keep defaulting back to that instinctive. binary, back-and-forth view of dialogue,.  A-B-A-B.  Unless I’m told otherwise, I’m going to assume the person speaking afterPhoebe is the person who spoke before Phoebe.  So once I’ve got three or four people in the mix, I need to be a lot more careful with where I do (and don’t!) use dialogue descriptors.  I don’t want my writing to get bogged down with them, but I need to be sure it’s always clear who’s speaking.

            Because I don’t want my dialogue to be C-A-C-A.
            Get it?  Poop joke.
            Hey, next week is Thanksgiving.  Which means no post on Thursday and, well… if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know what I’m going to talk about on Black Friday.
            But maybe I’ll do something unrelated and semi-interesting on Monday or Tuesday.
            Until then… go write.
April 27, 2018 / 11 Comments


            Very sorry for the delay. Taxes.  Jury Duty.  Making the New York Times bestsellers list with Paradox Bound.  And that’s just what I can talk about.  The past two weeks have been kind of crazy, and last Thursday was when it all caught up with me.  Well, Wednesday night, to be honest.
            But now that I’ve got my excuses out of the way…
            (did I mention the New York Times bit…?)
            I stumbled across an interview I did with author Jessica Meigs a few years back.  I said something that sounded vaguely profound.  Or, at least something I was trying to make sound profound…

            “I think people like radical new ideas, but sometimes—most of the time, honestly—they just want the basics. There’s only so many times you can go out and have a mesquite-smoked sirloin patty garnished with goat cheese and pine nuts on a croissant. It’s cool, but eventually you just want to have a cheeseburger.”
            If it sounds vaguely familiar, Stephen King’s said something similar a few times.  I think I may have been subconsciously mimicking him.  Plus, I’ve used cooking metaphorshere a few times.  Hopefully it’s not too obscure or vague as metaphors go.
            Now, I don’t watch a lot of cooking shows (used to love Kitchen Nightmares), but I’ve never heard anyone make the argument that we should all eat nothing but gourmet food.  I can imagine how much we’d all scoff at someone who campaigned to ban cheeseburgers.  And if anyone tried to tell me I’m a crappy cook because I don’t make my own pizza dough from scratch, I’d probably laugh in their face. And then not invite them over for pizza.
            Every couple of months I’ll see some new article about how aspiring writers should use better words. Better descriptions.  Better structures.  Only uneducated simpletons and talentless hacks would use verbs like said or was. You used redinstead of encarmine?  It’s cute that you’re trying to write for grade schoolers…
            None of this is true, of course.  And I can’t help but notice that the vast majority of people who make these declarations… well, they don’t tend to sell a lot of books.  In fact, I’d guess the majority of them aren’t even professional writers. Or even amateur writers.
            It keeps coming up, though. And aspiring writers keep trying to follow it.  And often they end up in this horrible downward spiral, progressing less and less as they try to make every sentence “better.”
            Possibly weird aside.  But it has a point.  Honest.
            There’s a type of riddle that often stumps people—the one with the obvious answer.  Those ones where we stop and think and think because the answer can’t be that simple.  I mean, isn’t the whole point of a riddle to trick you into giving the wrong answer?  So even if the simple answer fits all the requirements of the question, people will convince themselves it’s got to be something more complex and spend who knows how long trying to figure out what that unnecessarily complex answer must be
            When I’m telling a story, there’s going to be lots of times that call for simplicity over complexity.  It’s not uncommon for a short, straightforward sentence to have far more impact than a far more elaborately-crafted one.  A simple structure can be a faster, much more enjoyable read for my audience than a twisting, interwoven one.  And a basic character motivation is going to be much easier for my readers to grasp and relate to than one that needs thirty pages to explain.
            Let me mention two or three basic, solid writing devices that get a bad rap.
            It was/ he was/ she was—If I’m writing in third person, past tense (it’s not as dominant as it used to be, but I think it’s still the most common type of narration you’re going to stumble across), I’ll be coming across this form of “be” a lot.  If I’m leaning toward present tense—and that’s okay, a lot of the cool kids are doing it—I’ll probably see isjust as often.
            There are times was can be the sign of some needed work. Whenever I edit I tend to do a was pass and see how often I can turn things like “Wakko was running” into “Wakko ran.”  But sometimes, after all that running, I might just have “He was exhausted.”  Sure I could be a lot more descriptive and evocative, but there’s also going to be points where “He was exhausted” is quick, gets the information across, and lets me move on to other things.
            Said—The most basic dialogue descriptor there is.  Said is a classic. Quite literally.  People have been using said for almost a thousand years.  And it’s still around and still in regular use.
            I’ve talked about said a few times in the past, so I won’t go into too much here.  I just want to remind you that one of my first face-to-face interactions with an actual, book-buying, money-paying editor was him telling me to get rid of the dozens of different descriptors I was using on every page and replace 95% of them with said.  Let it do all the heavy lifting and save the special words for special occasions.
            Linear Structure—I also talked about this just a few months ago.  It’s very common for linear structure and narrative structure to run side by side.  It’s so common  because it’s the way we’re used to experiencing things.  Our brains are pretty much  programmed to accept stories this way, and if we’re given them in other ways we’ll try to mentally wrestle them into this format.
            Now, personally, I love a story that uses clever structure or devices to move the plot along.  I think most people do. That’s kind of the trick though—I’m using them to move the plot along.  If I have dozens of flashbacks that don’t really accomplish anything, or running the story backwards just because it sounded like a cool idea, I’m just making the story more complex for no reason.  And once my convoluted structure breaks the flow for the third or fourth time, well…
            Again, something like 85-90% of all fiction (numbers pulled from experienced ether) is going to have this very straightforward format.  There’s nothing wrong with it.  I shouldn’t be nervous about just… telling my story. 
            Y’see, Timmy, there’s nothing wrong with simplicity.  Nothing’s inherently good just because of overly-complex structure or incredibly obscure vocabulary.  My writing isn’t automatically better because I decided to use four syllable words rather than two syllable ones.
            And to be very clear—I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with complexity either.  Nothing at all.  There are some wonderfully complex books out there.  It’s when I insist that everything has to be one or the other that problems arise.
            Okay, that’s a lie.  Problems arise all the time.  Hell, I could shut this blog down if that was the only time problems arose…
            My point is, if I insist that everything has to be exquisitely crafted, impenetrably structured, polysyllabic sentences that run on for pages, collected in an order that would stump most cryptography software… my writing’s probably going to be very hard for most people to get into.  It’s going to be tough for it to have any kind of flow.  And it’s going to take me a very, very long time to get that first book done.
            And that means it’s going to be tough for me to have a lot of readers.
            Anyway… I’m going to go watch Infinity War now.
            Next time, enough about workhorses.  Let’s talk about cats and dogs.
            Until then… go write.
January 21, 2016

No Photobombers

            I spent time at a few conventions last year and, as I do, I tried to get lots of photographs of the various cosplayers there.  I’m always blown away by that sort of thing.  I worked in the film industry for years and it’s amazing to see so many folks who are so dedicated they can do costumes that are on par (or better, in some cases) than the ones that end up on film.

            Alas, one or two of my shots were spoiled by photobombers.  You know that term, right?  The folks who decide to lean into a picture and draw attention to themselves with a goofy grin or thumbs up, even though it’s really clear they’re not who the photographer wants things focused on.  If you’re Chris Pratt, Hayley Atwell, or William Shatner and you end up photobombing somebody—hey, power to you.  How fantastic would that be, looking at your pictures later and finding Hayley Atwell smiling and waving at you?

             On the other hand, if I’m someone that’s going to make 99.9999% of humanity say “who the hell is that?”… I’m kind of being a jerk.  Because I’m not supposed to be the focus of this picture.  And by drawing attention away from what is supposed to be the center of attention, I’ve messed up this image.
             Or, for our purposes, this story.
             In some ways, being a writer is a thankless job.  If I do it right, people shouldn’t even notice me. If I do a spectacular job, people should forget me altogether.  Screenwriters get hit even worse with this—their work is often credited to the actors or director.  The ugly truth of storytelling is that none of us really care about the storyteller, we just want to hear the stories.
           Some storytellers try to get noticed.  It’s a deliberate choice.  They lean in and draw attention to themselves.  They wink and point.  Sometimes they make goofy expressions and shout “Look at me!  Look what I’m doing!” 
            When I do this as a writer, it’s just like photobombing.  Textbombing?  Prosebomb?  Whatever we want to call it, it’s me drawing attention away from telling my story, which—in theory–is supposed to be the focus of my writing.
            Here’s a few simple ways I can make sure I’m not ruining my focus…
            Vocabulary—Stephen King once said that “Any word you have to search for in the thesaurus is the wrong word.”  And, personally, I think he’s completely right about that.  I don’t think using a thesaurus is bad.  I’ve got one right here on my desk.  I often use it to jog my memory when I know there’s a specific word I’m looking for, and the easiest way to find it is to look up a synonym. 

           But some folks default to their thesaurus.  They have a sentence—let’s say “The thin woman wore a red hat.”—and then just immediately go to find bigger, better words for it.  That’s how you end up with sentences like… well…

            “The rawboned feminine figure accoutred her cranium with a chapeau of deepest carmine felt.”
            That’s me, as a writer, trying to draw attention to myself when you, the reader, want to be focused on the story.
             Any word I choose just to get attention, to prove I don’t need to use a common, blue-collar word, is the wrong word.  Any word that makes my reader stop reading and start analyzing is the wrong word. I can try to justify my word choice any way I like, but absolutely no one is picking up my manuscript hoping for a vocabulary lesson.  When my reader can’t figure out what’s being said for the fourth or fifth time and decides to toss said manuscript in the big pile on the left… there’s only one person to blame.
            Like I said, I’ve got a thesaurus on my desk.  But it’s not right here in arm’s reach, like the dictionary.  It’s a shelf up and off to the side. Just enough that I really need to stand up to get at it.  And move some LEGO people.
            Structure—A friend of mine is really into cirque school.  I’ve seen her do some of those aerial silk tricks where she’ll climb to the top of the studio, wrap her legs, bring the silk around her body, and then sort of roll down the silk. She spins and the silk twirls all around her and it takes two or three minutes for her to work her way back down to the floor.  I’m sure most of you reading this have seen some version of this, either live or maybe on television.  Its really beautiful and amazing when done right.
            It’s also—and she’d be the first to admit this—a really inefficient way to get from point A to point B.  And taking even longer to do it, well, that just gets exhausting for the performer and the audience.  None of us have the stamina for that kind of thing.  Getting there is half the fun, absolutely, but the point of most trips is still getting there.
            When the trip itself becomes the focus, it means my goals have shifted.  Getting to point B isn’t the important thing anymore.  And since storytelling is, in essence, getting characters from point A to point B… well…
            If I think of my story as an A—B line (to fall back on geometry), how often does my chosen structure deviate off that line?  How many times does it not move along the line at all?  How often does it go backwards?
            And how much of this is because of how I’ve chosen to structure things?
            I’ve seen people write page-long sentences which serve no purpose except to be a page-long sentence.  Sure, it’s very impressive in an MFA, grammatical-accomplishment kind of way, but past that… does it really advance the story?  Is it pushing the narrative, or just pushing the fact that I sat through half a dozen classes on creative writing?
            If I’m overloading my story with flashbacks, a non-linear plotline, or twenty-two points of view… what am I hoping to accomplish?  Are they adding anything?  Would it honestly lessen the story to not have them? Or am I just adding in gimmicks that I’ve heard make a story betterwithout any real understanding of how or why they work?
            Just like how an obscure word is wrong if it’s just there to be obscure, an overcomplicated structure is wrong if it serves no purpose except to be overcomplicated.
           Said—I’ve mentioned this a few times.  People will never notice if you use said.  Honest, they won’t.  Saidis invisible.  What they notice is when my characters retort, respond, pontificate, depose, demand, declare, declaim, muse, mutter, mumble, snap, shout, snarl, grumble, growl, bark, whimper, whisper, hiss, yelp, yell, exclaim, or ejaculate.  Yeah, ejaculate.  Stop giggling, it was a common dialogue descriptor for many years.  Once I’ve got three or four characters doing this all over the page, I shouldn’t be too surprised if my audience stops reading to shake their heads or snicker. 
            Now, granted, there are times where my characters will be hollering or whispering or snarling.  And when that happens, I don’t want my readers to already be bored by my constant use of different dialogue descriptors.  I want it to count.  Overall, they’re just going to be saying stuff.  So I shouldn’t overcomplicate things and draw attention to myself.
           These are just a few things to watch for in my writing, granted.  There’s always going to be that person who finds a clever new way to draw attention to themselves.  And there will always be exceptions, sure.   Really, though, photobombing my own story isn’t going to be a winning strategy.
            Never forget… first and foremost, people are showing up for the story.
            Quick note, before I forget.  If you happen to be in the Los Angeles area, this weekend I’m hosting the Writers Coffeehouse at Dark Delicacies in Burbank on Sunday.  It’s three hours of writers talking about writing, it’s open to everyone, and it’s free. Stop by and talk.  I guarantee it’ll be highly adequate.
            Next time, I’d like to talk about a big car accident I was in many years back.
            Until then, go write.
            Just don’t be seen doing it.