Blog Archives

finding the right story starter, the fun way!

Beginning a story can be a difficult process at times, other times the words flow so freely from the mind to the paper, though not always making sense, but who cares? We have editing! A fun and creative process that I’ve always used has been; people watching.
Take a second and watch that woman cross the street in front of you. She’s dressed in business clothes, a pile of files and presentation folders in her hands. She’s also in front of the courthouse. Is she preparing the defense of a man being charged with fraudulent business activity? Is she an intern rushing as quick as she can to the family courthouse with the fate of a foster child in her hands? Is she making her way to a back alley modeling agency with her extensive portfolio clutched close to her hopeful chest?
That literally just happened, by the way. So where was she really going? What was she really doing? I won’t know unless I got out of the car and asked her.
Another, two men begin putting construction materials into their truck bed. The business name on the back of the truck looks like they do professional carpeting. Okay, cool. So what if the one man that isn’t saying anything just installed a carpet in the house realizing blood stains, which had been cleaned, but was massive enough that his mind is still pondering the possibilities. The man that opened the door and requested the carpets to be replaced seemed nice. He was about 55 years old, though he was nice, he was very vocal with his instructions and watched with a careful eye. Now this man is torn inside unsure if he should make a deal of something only his, and surely the older man’s, eyes saw.
Or is he thinking of the beautiful lady that sat at her kitchen table the entire duration of the install. Unable to take his eyes off her, he dreamed of the troubles her gentle face displayed. The way she sipped her coffee and looked absent-mindly at the paper hinted at a man that didn’t appreciate her, or a life lead unlike she ever dreamed. I could give her the life she wants, he thinks. Now he’s still thinking of what he could do to get her attention. When she paid there was a pain in her eyes he knew he could fix.

While, this post may not be the most motivational as it was another rant, take time to notice all the characters around you. There’s a story behind every person, tap into it, let your imagination run free!

Thank you for reading!
Caleb A. Mertz
http://www.calebmertz.com

Back that thang up!

So I recently wrote about my visit to Arlington Virginia. What a wonderful trip it was. I was free to roam, but checked in with the boyfriend for lunch and at the end of the meetings, but any other time I spent roaming. While here I decided to take time to review my book. Walking the streets of Washington D.C. I found a renewed sense of motivation and inspiration as I walked down the streets that were written in my book. I could see my characters on the street corner, mid parade. I could see the White house where President Andrew Rakford spent a great amount of his time. I also walked along the Potomac which would soon be filled with blood to spite those searching for water in the excruciating heat.

Sitting at Starbucks (my FINAL cafe stopping point) I put my mind to the key board. I reviewed the opening chapter and wrote words that would make my buddy (Austin) proud. I spent two hours on the opening paragraph alone, and wrote words that impressed my worst critic (myself). The sentences flowed into each other, each new thought tied in with the previous one. Words were written that brought the visualization into the simple structure of each sentence. I wowed myself!

I recently began reviewing a chapter that I had sent to Austin for his review. When I noticed that I continued to call one of the items a “stealthy” my eyebrows furrowed in question. I thought I fixed that? I wondered. I then opened up the copy of “The Unexpected” that I thought I had been working on and experienced that sensation where your heart sinks into your stomach. I DELETED the wrong copy of my book!

What was I thinking!? I was simply trying to organize my desktop, I made a change in a different version, and deleted based upon “last updated!” Now as I write this I am working on recovering that file that I deleted. All other attempts have produced a document that resembles an odd code of boxes, and a few Arabic symbols. I ran to Cory for assistance. He tried, but nothing really seemed like it was working.

In conclusion, it is within my belief that had I kept things a bit more organized, and reviewed the work that I was deleting (WHY WOULDN’T I!) I would not currently be in this situation. So with no further a’do; Always make sure that you back up the hard work that you do, so you don’t loose it like THIS dumb ass!

Happy writing (and deleting appropriate files)

Caleb A. Mertz

The writer’s hiatus

Good morning,

I have once again neglected my little baby known as my blog.  She sure has grown at times all on her own, and yet she needs that tender caress of the tapping keyboard.  The reason for my hiatus isn’t really as care free as it sounds. I have recently found this amazing website to help me out in the process of writing my query.  agentqueryconnect.com

What has this site done for me? Well several things.  For one, I received marvelous feedback from a group of aspiring writers ranging from the novice to the experienced. This has helped me greatly with my pitch. It has also lent much support through the form of critique. Those that felt compelled to write a comment left me with the belief that there was something there that drew them in. Most posts don’t see the amount that I had received.

Second, I gained a new found friend from the “other” coast.  This young man, Austin, lives in California and writes science fiction. Through the chat room we were able to connect on a different level when it came to our writing. Since then, we have been going back every single day about our books.  I continue to feed him chapter after chapter of my book, while he does the same for me.  This has been the main thing that has drawn me away from writing in my blog.

So I ask, Is this really a bad thing?

Some say that a true writer writes everyday.  I feel that sometimes the writer needs to take time to critique other’s work so that they can apply those same critiques to their own work.  Just in the past two weeks that I have been doing this, I feel an intense increase in my ability to spot issues with sentence structure and many other little things. At this point I am only halfway through his book LEGACY and I intend to read the entire work giving my unprejudiced advice and opinions. They can be juicy and down right sacrificial, but he loves it, and so do I.

I have received other requests to review work in addition to Austin’s, but I may have to take the straight road back to my book. My editor has finished and sent me the result, but I still have yet to look over it greatly. My baby still awaits, so until next time I bid you adieu.

Caleb A. Mertz

“You’re a Malaprop!”

I have distributed my latest novel to many different readers.  Some that I am very familiar with, and some that I hardly know.  While searching for a manuscript that had been distributed I ran into the young lady that was reading it for me.  “I told my husband,” She began, “that you’re just as bad a malaprop as he is!”  Then she laughed.

In the time of getting feedback on your novel there is no time for feelings to get involved or twisted into the work you have spent so many man hours over.  You have to accept the honesty of the reader to help make your work one that will resonate better with the masses that will hopefully be reading your story.

I was so embarrassed that I didn’t know what a malaprop was when I had to ask, “What’s that?”  It was one of those saddening feats where you feel that you will never be good enough.  This young lady is an avid reader, and a highly intellectual one at that.  She proceeded to tell me that she loved the work, but it had it’s errors.  I know it has errors it was only the second draft!  Why I decided to have readers look it over at only the second draft is beyond me….No it’s not.  I tend to think that my work is different.  My work doesn’t require an editor or some outside influence.  This sort of thinking may explain why my first two books were only published by Publish America.

Malapropism:

Luckily for me, being a malaprop isn’t so bad.  You just have to use a dictionary (much like any one else) in some very specific cases.  Oh and having an intelligent reader or editor is a great key to this as well.  None the less, I felt completely incompetent once I had come to understand the meaning of this word, and knowing that it pretty much meant you weren’t intelligent enough to tell the difference between two words.

Here’s to many other self realization facts in the near future!


(ˈmæləprɒpˌɪzəm) [Click for IPA pronunciation guide]
n
1. the unintentional misuse of a word by confusion with one of similar sound, esp when creating a ridiculous effect, as in I am not under the affluence of alcohol


What makes you hot?

I haven’t signed on to my dear blog for approximately three days.  While I’ve been gone I was hoping to open my dashboard today and see all sorts of views and comments.  Wow was I ever disappointed.  I work constantly (which most of us do) and I just had my sisters wedding today (which I only found out about three days ago) so when I come to my solace I was hoping for some comfort.  Nothing.  This brings me to my next question.  What makes you hot?  What keeps the most popular blogger’s on top?  Is it truly entertaining content, intelligent content, or constant content?

“…What Makes you hot?”

image by: Cayusa

I realize as I type this that there are several sides to this argument.  I then sit and wonder, Why I’m complaining.  I’m simply writing to help my grammar and writing ability.  Ernest Hemingway says you must write everyday if you wish to really be a writer.  Whereas my ideas for my stories might not always be strong I can always go on this blog of mine and write whatever is on my mind.

I also realize that I am still relatively new to this website.  New to blogging.  And new to the world as well.  Sometimes false vanity begins to kick in.  You almost think that you are king blogger when all of the sudden with a quick report of the last three days you realize that you are only you.  There is no existential fan base out there secretly hiding between the lines of every blog, snooping behind every sign post, or reading my every update.

I also realize that there are people out there with a much greater talent than I that have the same issues.  The difference is that they don’t have to go back to their material and look it over and over and over again.  They might do so just for the pure indulgence of their creativity and intelligence.  They have great talent and it is only a matter of time before they get discovered and get put on some great big publishers list of best sellers.  In my case this crazy red squiggly line constantly shows up under my words (including my first attempt at the word squiggly).

But there really is a question that I wish to receive some sort of response on.  I want to know from some of the best blogger’s out there, What makes you hot?  By all means give me a full dissertation while you’re at it.

Thank you

Caleb A. Mertz

Is always being right, always right?

photo by: vlasta2

You have slaved over the hardwork of putting your piece together. Now there is someone trying to criticize your work. Two questions, when is their feedback enough, and when do you stop defending your own work and own up to the feedback?

This question arouses within me from a conversation that I had with a team member tonight. On the drive home I was thinking more and more about it. I then applied that question to writing. I remember there being so many times especially with my first book where someone would give me some critique and I would push it away because I KNEW that I was right. More often than not they were right. Especially when my sister had pointed out a few different issues with some paragraph structures and story flow at the beginning of the book. Then again, I had to be right and convinced her that I had a plan and thus ensured that it was structured that way. She just didn’t read enough into the story.

When is enough, enough?
Friends and family are always there for you when you need them most. This is a statement that gets used over and over again. I had found, however, that while I was working on putting together somewhat of a final draft for the publisher there was an everlasting flow of criticism. First I used the name of the character too much, then there were too many filler words like, a, the, and well, and. Then there was a problem with the plot, oh and this paragraph was horrible…”did you really want that much religious undertone?” The list continued. This criticism, I had to wonder, didn’t seem as if it was so much constructive as it was destructive to my hard spent time and energy on this book.

This was another point in time where I had to weigh everything out. I had to unfortunately tune out the speaker at

photo by:faungg @ flickr.com

times because it seemed like it was no longer an attack on my work, but an attack on me. So…I handed them pens (red ones to make it special) and had them wright out their thoughts on the manuscript that I provided. Ahhhh, silence!

In summation being right all of the time is never a good thing. You can loose a realistic view on your work and yourself. There is always a time when you have friends

and family critiquing your work that you may have to tune it down a bit. I recommend getting a professional editor, or an ex-english teacher to preview your work and suggest corrections. If you happen to have an Uncle who’s an english teacher, well you have fun with that!

Thank you