Friday, December 31, 2010

12 31 10 WRITING - end of year tally

This is a quick tally – or summary? – of my year in writing.

Accomplishments: Six short stories appeared or are set to appear. Sci-fi novel is scheduled for August release. Working on the second draft of my second novel. Maintaning my work schedule of writing a minimum of two hours a day, six days a week.

Disappointments: Couldn’t find an agent interested in working with me. Latest short story and the beginning of a third novel panned by workshop groups. My collection of short stories continues to get rejected. Still can’t master plot as well as I’d like.

Things to be thankful for: A network of wonderful and talented writers I’ve been fortunate enough to call my friends (you know who you are, and forever thanks for your advice and encouragement). Still have a burning desire to keep filling empty white virtual pages with black virtual letters.

Happy New Year!

Be safe and see you in 2011!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Ho Ho Ho-rrendous! I keep a written log of my writing hours. It's the best way for me to keep on a steady schedule. My routine is a minimum two hours a day - six days a week. I think it's important to have a day off. I use Sunday - my day off - as a reward, a battery recharger and an incentive to get me to the end of the week.

I don't cheat. If I get up to re-heat my cup of tea (or coffee) and it takes four minutes, I tack four minutes on to my minimum time.

Having said that, it's the holidays and I've given myself a little slack, but I'm starting to feel guilty. According to my log, my last real writing day was Dec. 23 - but only for 61minutes. Today (even though it's Sunday) I did some editing on Die Laughing, my sci-fi novel. Though this is technically writing I don't really give it as much weight because this is more of a polishing thing as opposed to composing.

I should be back to my normal routine tomorrow -  probably taking new years eve day off, and the day after (recovering from the night before), but we shall see - the guilt factor looms over my head like a South Florida afternoon thundercloud.

Am I the only one who has these problems?

Happy Holiday Writing!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

12 10 10 WRITING - Mixed fodder

Five days ago my fall semester fiction workshop class ended on Monday. Someone said about my piece, “I don’t think he was having fun writing this.” Not quite sure what that meant, but I know it can’t be good.


Last night had a workshop gathering at my house with three writers – all struggling like me – who I greatly admire as people and as writers. We exchanged advice, discussed our work, our philosophies, gossiped and talked about triumphs and tribulations. Being with them was a joyous occasion for me. I drank too much wine and paid for it in the morning.


Today my son flew in from Tokyo where he’s been studying the past year. Another joyful occasion; without the distress of a morning hangover.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

12 01 10 WRITING - Writer Workshops: The Art of Listening

I’ve decided to start a short, semi-regular series on writer workshops. I’ve been attending a workshop in South Florida regularly for about four years. I’ve also belonged to a couple of satellite workshops in between, and while getting my MFA degree in creative writing, I’ve attended class workshops which are de rigueur as part of the curriculum.

For anyone who doesn’t belong to a writer workshop, basically they are a focus group. A set of like minded individuals – writers – get together. Those with stories distribute them and at the following meeting they are individually critiqued, usually under the direction of a head or leader of the group. That’s the formal definition. The informal definition is that they’re basically Hell’s Kitchen without the food.

Workshops can take the toughest egos and sledge hammer them until they feel like the leather launch pad of one of those carnival ring the bell games. It’s happened to me plenty of times.

Let me state up front that though I have a love/hate relationship with workshops, I’m a big believer in them. The reason is simple and I’ll get to that eventually, but what I want to write about now is a topic that I consider one of the most important when attending a workshop: the art of listening.

The wisest writers will sit silently and take notes while they are being skewered. It sounds easy to do but it’s not. My first instinct for a long time was to jump up and say, “No, no, no! You don’t get it. My character isn’t insecure she’s a deep thinker.” I confess, I still have the urge now and then to do it.

But, here’s the thing, it’s not important what I think, it’s what the reader thinks. If a group of your peers tells you your character comes across as insecure then that’s probably the case and you should be thinking about ways to counter-balance that impression through a revision, instead of defending it.

In my experience, the worse thing a writer can do is speak up and defend themselves for two reasons: the first is – and I speak from experience – when I see someone protesting it tells me they don’t really want to hear anyone’s opinion. That causes me (and others that I know) to keep quiet. Now, I may not have valuable insight to the story, but on the other hand I might be the guy who says, “You know, I wonder what would happen if instead of having Mary take her lamb home, maybe it could follow her to school.”

The second reason to resist speaking up, even if to defend a small point, is that it stops the natural flow of discussion among the others. Many times, as I’ve listened to my pieces being critiqued, someone will state an opinion or idea and someone else will take it to another area or expound upon it and it will develop into something wonderful that I would have never thought of. If I had spoken up earlier and stopped that brain storming it would have never developed.

Remember, you don’t have to accept anyone’s opinion. If you don’t like what they say then ignore it, but if you don’t listen to what they have to say you’ll never know if it was good or bad.

Happy writing. See you at the next workshop. I’ll be the one with my listening cap firmly strapped to my head.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Yesterday I went to the Miami Book Fair and heard John Waters speak. I have to confess I was more familiar with his reputation as a shock filmmaker than his actual films. I had watched a little bit of the original Hairspray but that was about it. I knew he had a knack for the quirky, which I always love.

I had heard him speak on NPR a month prior, discussing his new book Role Models. He was gentle, charming, and had a sense of humor. So, as I sat in my seat at the book fair and watched him walk on stage I wasn't sure what I was going to hear.

What I heard was a man - and in hindsight this shouldn't have been a surprise - who worked hard at his craft: writing. Whether it was screenplays or books. He pays the price. His work week is from Monday through Friday, 8am to around 11, writing. He is a constant listener and news article clipper, which are great sources of inspiration and ideas.

He made it clear that bad taste without a reason has a ten minute life span. He expressed his belief that the future is where the world lies not dwelling on the past. He was cognizant and thankful for the young fans he has garnered.

Just as importantly he was a generous man who took the time to not only sign books but allowed his fans to snap pictures with him.

As I said, I haven't seen John Waters movies, but I've seen the man. I understand why both are greatly admired.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

11 03 10 WRITING

I've been writing my usual minimum of 2 hrs every day except Sunday, but it's been sluggish. I feel like I'm not achieving something satisfying. I don't know why this is. Maybe because I've had to switch gears from the second draft of one novel, to a short story, to the beginning of another novel, to writing a book review. I don't like to work that way but circumstances dictated that I had to.

I'm thinking maybe all the bouncing around has hindered my personal investment in my characters, or maybe I'm losing contact with them and that frightens me.

Another thing may be that I've spent a lot of the time reviewing workshop critiques of the pieces and while that always leads to a better story it requires taking a step backward to get two steps forward.That reverse step can be depressing.

In any event, I've found the best (and only?) cure is to keep on keeping on. Eventually the cloud lifts.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

10 23 10 WRITING

I can't believe it's already Saturday! I had to miss two days of  writing - Wednesday and Thursday - because I had a stack of reading to do. Four pieces (one sixty-one pages) the rest in the 17-25 page range for a Fiction Workshop class. I had to finish the last 63 pages of a middle school book, Kidnapped in Key West, and write a review of it for the same class. Hopefully the review will appear online somewhere.

I also had four or five pieces from two workshops I'm in - a novel writing workshop and The  Friday Night Writers.

I had to review a script I'm working on with my friend, Aralis.

Last night I went to my novel workshop. Nothing but great things happen there.

That leads me to my number one tip for anyone who writes. Find a workshop, go, listen to what they say about your work no matter how much it hurts or you disagree. Not that you have to agree - but just listen to what they say.

Sometime fairly soon (hopefully) I'm going to blog about workshops: etiquette, how to evaluate critiques, how to give - and take - criticism......but not today. It's the weekend!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

10 13 10 WRITING

Wrote two hours today - still working on beginning of third novel - a thriller.

Lots of workshop reading today.

Got word my oldest friend was in hospice, only a matter of time. He fell into a liquor bottle long ago and never found his way out.

Some days are not as nice as others...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

10 06 10 WRITING

Read my short story, "The One Cupper" last night at the iconic Luna Star Cafe in North Miami, FL. Received a really gratifying response. Hung out a bit - had a great time. I'm going to post a picture soon somewhere - either here, or my website, or on facebook.

I can't believe how fortunate I've been the last couple of months, writing wise. I've had three short stories accepted for print publication and a fourth accepted for both print and audio publication. My sci-fi novel is scheduled for release in March of next year.

The dates, publications,and stories are:
Oct. 30, 2010 Ethereal Tales Magazine "Of Toil and Trouble"
Jan. 2011 Bete Noire Magazine "Morrison's Last Autograph"
Feb. 15, 2011 The Toucan Magazine "Fight the Future or Why My Wife Left Me"
Nov-Dec, 2010 "The One Cupper" audio version.
Spring 2011 The MacGuffin Literary Journal "The One Cupper" print version.
Mar-April 2011 IFWG Publishing releases my sci-fi novel Die Laughing

Today I wrote two hours revising the first fifteen pages of a new novel (my third - though I haven't wrapped up the second yet). It was grueling. I was tired - and still hyped up - from last night's reading. I didn't think I would make it but going into the second hour I picked up a second wind. Afterwards my good friend and script writing partner Aralis Bloise came by and we worked two hours on a rewrite of a horror/comedy TV series (hormedy?)

Sometimes I feel burnt out, other times I feel like a rocket busting out of the launching pad.

Friday, October 1, 2010

10 01 10 Writing

Did my two hours of slogging through the beginning stages of a new novel. Actually, it went pretty good today. I had a scene all set up so it was just ferreting out my character's trying to get what they wanted.

Had some really nice news yesterday. My short story "The One Cupper" is going to appear in both audio and print. I'm also going to do a reading of it on Oct. 5 at the classic North Miami bar/lounge/hangout The Luna Star Cafe. This is the second time I'm reading there. The first time I was nervous as hell. I feel more confident, and hopefully this time my hands won't shake as I'm holding my paper.

I took the plunge a few days ago, broke down and started a Facebook page. So far, it hasn't killed me.

Finally - ended the evening watching my brother - who's a high school offensive line football coach - and his team whip the pants off of their opponent. I like hanging out with him: I get in free, get to hang on the sidelines, and he lets me know in advance the play they're going to run.

One more day of writing before I get my Sunday break...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Non-writing 09 26 10

Sunday is my day for not writing. I use it to recoup and built up the courage to begin again on Monday. Courage is a strange word, because, let's face it, all I'm doing is sitting in a room trying to fill an empty (computer) page with words. But it's a struggle to do that and by Saturday I'm burnt out, and the other advantage of having a day off is it gives me a goal to work for. It's my reward for working at it six days a week. I work a minimum of two hours a day, and never feel bad if I don't go beyond that time - though often I do.

But enough of that - I want to write about my Sunday. It was wonderful. I started the morning by watching a line of talking heads news shows while reading the weekend advertising flyers, looking to see which store is 'giving' something away. In the afternoon I went outside, sat in a lounger that faces a lake and read a few chapters of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. Around sundown I re-stringed my fishing rod, replacing the 10 lb line with a 25 lb line - and yep the fish in the lake has snapped my 10 lb line more than once. In the evening I watched the Dolphins battle the Jets - a hell of a game that the Jets won. I ended the evening reading more of Sense and Sensibility.

I seriously thought of stopping my writing and going on an extended Sunday, everyday just doing the same thing; relaxing and letting the world drift by.

On Monday, I woke up, did the first of my three-times-per-week power walking around the neighborhood, showered, wrote for two hours, and then drove to FIU for my Fiction Workshop class. Somewhere during the day it hit me that Sundays wouldn't be near as satisfying if I didn't earn my way there.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

09 21 10 WRITING

Worked some in the a.m. on what I hope will be novel number three (though I haven't completed revisions of novel number two). Had to stop early because I went to a retirement party for a firefighter who was retiring. I had worked with him for many years. He is a good guy. I hadn't been back at the station for quite awhile and because it was his last day and he was one of the higher-ups and an old schooler the festivities included firecrackers in the middle of the engine bay, water balloons, hazmat suits and booster lines spraying water. As with my friend who was retiring, these antics were a relic of a different era. Most of the men and women are brought up in a different era; one of lawsuits, sensitivity, and political correctness. It's also a world of tighter budgets, more technology, less manpower and more calls. I enjoyed the old school antics but I wasn't sure I longed for it. I rather like the new breed, they're geared for today's world.

Back home in late afternoon: managed to get in more writing on novel number three.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Writing : 09 17 10

Working on a new novel - 1st drafts for me are like slogging up a wet mountain. Slow and laborious. I love 2nd drafts, they're like walking down the mountain after the water had dried. But I can't even think of that, yet. I'm only on the second chapter.

Attended Friday Night Writer's workshop. Interesting exchange between two of the attendees concerning proper etiquette on dispersing feedback. I think giving feedback in a way that helps the writer without destroy their ego is an art in itself. I sometimes wish I had said things in a better way, or emphasized good points. It's easier, for some reason, to evaluate weaknesses than strengths.

That reminds me (though I don't know why) of what 1960's teen idol Steve Alaimo once told me about listening to demos. He said, "I can't tell you what a hit song is, but I can tell you what it ain't. And most of them I hear, ain't."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

09 14 10 WRITING

A few days ago I had a weird experience. I was revising part 3 of my long short story "Overdue" but I was having a major problem; a key part of my original ending was too obvious. I was nervous because I didn't know how to fix it. The following weekend I drank too much beer at a seafood restaurant. It was the wrong combination with my Shrimp Fra Diavalo. I tossed and turned all night, cursing my aching belly. Around 6am, amidst this agony, the solution to my story came. I jotted it down in the notepad I keep by the bed, tossed a few more hours and finally rose around 9p, feeling crappy and delighted at the same time. I still can't figure out how the solution came. It just did. Also, I'm happy to report my belly ache went away the next day.

A shout out to my good friend, Aralis. She's the goddess - and talented writer - who's showing me the ropes on how to put this blog together.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Writing : 09 10 10

Finished 2nd draft of the second part (of three) of my short story "Overdue" about a librarian who falls for a fireman who she is convinced is cheating on her.

Recenlty found out my short story, "The One Cupper" about a detective who confronts a waitress over a murder is going to be released in audio form on I'm excited because their voice talent and recordings are first rate. LOL - plus I'm vain enough to want to listen to it on my mp3 player.

Met some really cool people at IFWG forum - hi all!

Ended the evening at Friday Night Writers, the workshop I belong to. Because I'm working on my next novel, I haven't been able to contribute any pieces recently, so I've been only a reader of everyone else's material.  There's about 20-30 people. Our leader is the very talented and generous author John Dufresne. It's always a learning experience to attend. I come away each time a better writer.

Damn! This has been another good day.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Writing : 09 09 10

I'm waiting for critiques from a wonderful novel writing group I'm in before continuing work on my second novel. I'm about 2/3rds through with the second draft. But I write a minimum 2 hrs a day, everyday but Sunday, which is my re-charge the brain cells day. Today I started a rewrite of a long (50 pg) short story I wrote nearly a year ago called, "Overdue." Today I mostly gathered and typed out my notes and critiques from my main writer's group, The Friday Night Writers. They skewered my first draft so I had to really think about how to approach this version. It's getting there...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Halloween story "Of Toil and Trouble" to appear in Ethereal Tales

Just found out some great news. My halloween story, "Of Toil and Trouble" is set to appear in the special holiday edition of the cool UK mag Ethereal Tales. Here's the link check it out!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First Post

At long last! You asked for it and you got it. Louis K Lowy has an official blog!! A  place for you to come and get all your up to date Louis K Lowy news.
How's Louis doing today? What is he currently working on? Is his book finally out? Will he ever stop speaking in the third person?
The answers to these and many more questions, right here at your fingertips.