Tag Archives: writing

Happy Anniversary!!! Three years!!!

WordPress sent me a very congratulatory notice to inform me that today is the third anniversary of the launch of this website. When I received it I thought to myself, ‘Wow, has it really been three years?’

It was a good feeling that lasted for only a second or two because right on the heels of that pleasant feeling came the sober ache that has come to accompany my frustration with my first manuscript. I’ve completely reimagined it more than twice and I’ve lost count of the major changes I’ve made just in my approach to writing it. Certainly I’ve written enough words for a novel at this point if you add them all together, so I know that being a novelist is something within my ability to accomplish. But as I feel the admonishment (and rightfully so) regarding the fact that I have spent so much time on this with so little to show for it in the way of a complete draft, there are some distinctly positive developments which are worth taking some pride in.

This date three years ago was the day that I devoted myself to writing as a career and showed it by creating something tangible and real: this website. Last fall I made it even more my own by buying the domain name tristanberry.com. Over the years, this website has mirrored my growth as a writer, starting out exuberant and fanciful and gradually becoming more aware and credible. It has portrayed my personal growth in an allegorical sense that I only see now in hindsight. But every leap forward I made with my vision of what stories I should tell and how I should present them came as a result of a deeper understanding of myself as a man and as a writer. Reflecting upon that on this anniversary day I have come to an important conclusion: that to write well about anything, one must first have a solid understanding of oneself.

This learning never stops. Just a matter of days ago I made yet another important breakthrough, and this could well be my biggest yet. Thinking on what I’ve learned from writers and editors I’ve come to understand that my first book needs to be truly unique in some fashion. This first manuscript that I shop around to prospective agents and publishers needs to not just be good enough to publish, but something much more than that; it needs to be a manuscript that will make their eyes bulge in surprise and their hearts race with excitement.

But at the moment I grasped this, I realized also that I had a problem. The fantasy genre is full to overflowing with aspiring writers, very talented aspiring writers, who all are hard at work submitting draft manuscripts depicting this magical kingdom or that wondrous realm, this heart-warming protagonist and that contemptible villain, and all of them telling the most amazing stories.

I’m a good writer. I know I am. But looking at the reality with all the sober objectivity I can muster, I must admit that while we all see one hack writer after another somehow getting their literary drivel published there are many thousands of excellent writers whose phenomenal submissions sit gathering dust in the inboxes of agents and publishers across the country. Mediocre books are really an expression of an anomaly that occurs in every industry, particularly the arts where quality is inherently subjective.

So, it’s important to just shake one’s head and chuckle when one sees a novel on a bookshelf that’s chock-full of predictable plots, cardboard characterizations, and purple prose. It’s going to happen because the world isn’t fair. But I would much rather be published because I’ve written something amazing that people pick up and think to themselves, ‘Wow! I can’t wait to read this!’ And I’ll only get there by making prospective agents and publishers just as excited about the chance to represent me and publish me – and I’ve discovered a path that just might lead me there.

This path is going to change my writing style somewhat. I already draw a great deal from J.R.R. Tolkien, Raymond E. Feist, and other giants in the fantasy genre, but I have other literary influences, too – and I’ve been neglecting them. I’ve also been influenced to varying degrees by Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Anne Rice. It’s time I gave them their due and allowed that influence to come through.

This is a subtle shift that will make a tremendous difference in the final product, and hopefully it will be a tremendous difference that will make a prospective agent or publisher read my manuscript, sit up and say, “Wow!” If so, the three years it took to get here will have well been worth it.

So, whether you’ve been with me from the beginning or started following me more recently, Happy Anniversary to US, because it is not at all an exaggeration to say that without you I wouldn’t be here and this anniversary would never have happened.


Update on the writing – and an apology

Hello, everyone!

Just want to drop a line to let everyone know what I’ve been up to. I’m sure a lot of you are a bit fed up with this, but seriously… writing one’s first novel is a LOT like making sausage. The end product may be yummy, but you really don’t want to know how it’s made. I’m revising Mortality Interrupted again, but for those who are well-attached to what I’ve already written, don’t worry. I’m planning on keeping all of that. I’m just trying to expand the plot a bit and have more things going on in the story.

I’m also going to do my best to try to attach the events in the novel to actual historical events that are contemporary to 15th century Hungary. There were real people doing stuff then (I know, Duhhh *lol*) and wouldn’t it make the fiction in my novel seem more real if those things happen in the background of the novel; or even better, if the events of the novel are influenced by the real history; or better still, if history were influenced by the events in the novel? A tough trick when you’re going back 600 years yes, but it’s got to be worth it.

Also, I’ve been encouraged to get a little more personal with my blog and it’s good advice. I’m going to do my best to add a little something here every day. And here’s the start of it.

First off, I have something I have to admit and get off my chest. Basically, I’ve been pretty selfish. I’ve read some wonderful advice from other writers, writers whose advice has really helped me to be a better writer. A writer who still has a ton to learn, certainly,but better. But instead of passing these gifts along to others or sharing the things that I, myself, have figured out along the way, my blog has been pretty silent unless I’ve had an opportunity to toot my own horn about something. Sometimes it was a new chapter, or some new site content, but whatever it was it has always been about some new thing I’ve done that I’ve basically been posting, if I really get serious with the self-honesty and introspection, to prompt people to tell me how cool the new thing I’ve done is. Kinda pathetic, really. So, I’d like to express to each of you a very sincere apology for being such a self-centered prick, and I’m going to try to use the blog now to do better by all of you, particularly those of you who’ve done so well by me and gotten nothing back from me for it.

Two of my fellow blogging writers deserve special mention here, and that’s J. Keller Ford and Jennifer M. Eaton. Both of them have been incredibly helpful to me with their blogs and their personal encouragement, not to mention direct assistance from time to time.  Without their help I wouldn’t have gotten this far and that’s worth giving credit for. Neither of them are the type who help for the purpose of receiving credit, but that just makes them both all the more deserving. They are both achieving their just rewards right now by having short stories they submitted published in an anthology, Make Believe, by J. Taylor Publishing. Their stories were chosen from among hundreds of submissions, so they both totally earned this milestone achievement. I couldn’t be happier for them both.

I know I’ve covered things here that are somewhat disparate, but please bear with me. Sometimes, things don’t always come out in an organized manner when I’m writing from the heart, and I have been here. And I plan to continue to. Thanks, everyone, forbearing with me as I become a better writer, and maybe hopefully, a better person.

Format of all “Mortality, Interrupted” pages updated!

Hello, Alpheans!

The British have a popular phrase: “Exactly what it says on the tin”. And I couldn’t help but think of that when deciding what to write in this post. 🙂

Some of you had mentioned to me that you found it difficult to read the text on the site’s web pages, particularly where the various scenes of “Mortality, Interrupted” are posted. That was a primary reason for the poll about using a different template for the site, as you may know. The template I’m using doesn’t allow me to change the size of the text in the options. I was stuck with what the template offered. So, since I decided to follow the results of the poll and keep the current theme, I had to find another way to make it more readable.

Doing some digging, I noticed that I could use the less ‘user-friendly’ method of adding text with HTML (the original formatting language of the internet). All I had to do, then, was research the HTML codes that would render the text larger and “voila!” I could increase the text size! So, that’s what I did. Then it was just a matter of going back to all of the “Mortality, Interrupted” pages and manually adding the codes to every paragraph block of every page. And I did that. Because that’s how much I love every single one of you. *lol*

Seriously, though, it was a lot of work and I just got finished spending the past 5 hours updating every page. I hope it makes a difference and helps to make the story more readable. I hope to have the final scene of chapter 3 written by the end of the weekend.

Thanks everyone! Let me know if it works better.

Chapter 3 – Scene Two – revised and posted!

PLEASE tell me I improved it. (Unless you don’t think so, and then please tell me that, too.) I took a bit of a leap here and I really poured myself into this scene.

Chapter 2 – Scene Three Updated

The first edit is finished and posted. The angry argument has been removed from the scene. It will reappear later in the story.

“Mortality, Interrupted” storyline under construction

Hello Alpheans!

I’d been trying to write the final scene of Chapter 3 and having some trouble. While discussing the book with Denise, she mentioned a couple of things in the way of criticism that were really helpful. One was that in several scenes I either mention or outright focus on the death of Charles and Eva’s daughter Elizabeth. To me, each mention of it made sense, added to the story, and fit where I put it. But Denise turned out to be right, too. It was a bit of overkill to keep bringing it up in scene after scene. The problem was a storyline structure that naturally and repeatedly hearkened back to the Goodmans’ tragedy. While Denise and I were discussing this, it also occurred to me that while Eva is reacting naturally to the events in each scene, I’m missing an opportunity to show the descent of her mental and emotional stability in a natural progression.

So, I’m rewriting the story from the end of the last scene of Chapter 2 onward. I’m re-using as much of the material as possible, but with some careful rearranging of things and adding some new material I’m hoping that I can address the problem Denise highlighted and create a sequence of events for Eva to naturally react to which will show a steady deterioration of her grasp of reality.

With some excellent criticism, the story is going to have a chance to become stronger and better! Thank you, Denise!

HEY!! Where did the book go?!

Not to worry, my dear Alpheans:

All of the webpages on the site that contain my writing still exist; I’ve just removed them from publication and are currently not accessible. I’ll make them accessible again once the site has been locked down.

Poll results and Changes coming soon

The Poll only received four votes, so I’m going to go with what I got. If it turns out that the majority actually feel differently, then I guess the majority should have submitted a vote. I did leave the voting open for a full week and an extra full day, so why I only received four votes I don’t know. But three of you voted to keep the same theme and one of you voted to change it. I have no way of knowing how any particular person voted and that’s the way I like it. So I’m going to go with the majority of those who voted and keep the same theme, though I will continue to look at ways I might be able to address the readability issue.

But there are still going to be some changes, and as they are related to security, the sooner I can implement them, the better. Although it can’t be proven, there is very persuasive circumstantial evidence that suggests that television writers are data mining writing sites and blogs (just like this one) for story ideas. One person in one of my local workshops feels certain that her site has been mined several times as she has seen one particular show use several of her ideas including introducing a new storyline concept based largely on one of her ideas in particular which she posted only on her site. So, when she heard other writers were experiencing similar issues she stopped chalking it up to mere coincidence and has locked down her story content, removing it all from her blog.

I really don’t want to have to do that. I love the feedback, advice, and encouragement I get from everyone here, so after a great deal of thought I’ve figured out a compromise. Those of you who have posted comments on this site will by now have received a WordPress invitation in your email inboxes. Please accept the invitation and create a WordPress account. You don’t have to create a blog here if you don’t want to, but it will allow me to add you as a Contributor to this site as I can only add people who have WordPress accounts. Once I have you all added, I’ll lock down the site. From that point on it will only be accessible by the WordPress users I will have specifically granted access to. Anyone else who wants to access the site in the future will need to go through the same process (up to a maximum of 35 people). I apologize sincerely for the inconvenience, but it’s the only way I can think of to keep this going without risking some thief out there stealing my ideas and writing their own book based on my stuff.

Chapter 3 – Scene two posted!

Hello Alpheans!

Check out the latest installment.  (Chapter 3 – Scene Two) And don’t forget to tell me what you think. Comments, criticisms, questions, all are welcome!

Character name change – with apologies

Hey everyone,

I made a name change to one of the characters: Charles Goodman’s wife. Her name was Belinda, but I changed it to Eva.

Some of you have noticed that I have gone to great lengths to make the setting as accurate as possible. One of the ways I’ve done that is by not only using the names of actual villages and towns in Hungary, but researching those towns and villages to find out what they were like in the 1500s. Some of them didn’t even go by the same name back then and to make sure that my descriptions are accurate I have used as much information as I could find about the towns and villages as they were back then. This research is necessary to make sure that the story works. Incorrect information here can potentially create a glaring error in the story or even wreck a plot entirely.

But, to avoid getting bogged down in too much research during the draft, one area where I have decided (in general) not to do this is with peoples’ names. Some of you have probably noticed that the names I’m using are familiar: Charles Goodman, Matthew Miller, Daniel Paris, et cetera. These names are not at all Hungarian names, but very Anglo-American. At some point these names will have to be swapped for Hungarian names to make the setting feel more authentic. It’s not necessary that I do this during the draft because these characters’ names don’t really affect the plot or the story in any way. Right now they are simply convenient “handles” to help me keep the various characters straight in my mind as I compose the draft.

What happened with the Belinda Goodman character was that a Hungarian name simply came to me, so I went ahead and stuck it in, replacing Belinda with Eva. But being very late when I posted the story I forgot to go back and make the changes or make note of them here in the blog. Sorry for the oversight and I apologize for any confusion. Also, my thanks to Nonie who pointed it out to me.

Thanks, Nonie!

Sorry everybody!

See you all soon!