What Happens at Comic Con …

… get’s broadcast all over the world, so behave yourself!
Crank the kid-bot introduces bio-kids to the "Hub's Adventures" books.

Crank the kid-bot introduces bio-kids to the “Hub’s Adventures” books.

Business has definitely taken me away from blogging the last few weeks. Some of you may not know that my “day job” is as a sales representative for an educational book distributor. It’s a great job, visiting school librarians and teachers every day! The school year has already started in our region and I have been on the streets – and the road – and away from my leisure time writing.

Last weekend, though, I broke away to Chicago for the Wizard World Comic Con. We had a great weekend, introducing our sixth-grader robot, Crank, to hundreds of kids and selling and signing over 175 books.

A comic con is a great, friendly atmosphere with dozens of artists and retailers (I think I counted 10 full-scale comic book stores set up in the exhibit hall) and thousands of participants rolling through – some costumed, some sightseeing, some looking for that special comic/sci-fi/horror-related item. I had an artist’s table with all my youth books – including the newly released “Hub’s Adventures” books, hot off the press for the event.

The green robot you see in the photo above was built by a sculptor friend based on my illustrator’s depiction of my sixth-grader robot character in “Hub’s Adventures.” He was a big hit with the kids, introducing them to stories of the future where humans and robots will be best friends.

A spider-man stopped by to get some "Hub's Adventures" books!

A spider-man stopped by to get some “Hub’s Adventures” books!

I also found a very robust market for my books – the perfect market for a guy with my temperament. I love meeting people, especially kids interested in reading. Many parents bought books for their kids – and some kids spent their show budgets on my books! I’m very grateful for all the attention and for the purchases, which make more books and more show appearances possible.

The Delphi Trilogy books sold very well, too, introducing teen readers to the first two books in advance of Book III’s release October 1.

Next, I plan to be at the Wizard World in Nashville (a little closer to home) September 26-28. I look forward to meeting more readers there and at other comic cons.


Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 great things about being at comic con:

  1. People assume my unfashionable clothes are some kind of costume.
  2. I can yell, “Look! It’s Spiderman!” and no one calls the cops on me.
  3. All day long I get to pretend I’m living in an A-ha music video with other cartoon characters.


Paperback amazon Delphi Deception

Delphi 2 kindle

Ingram Delphi Deception
THE DELPHI REVELATION: Book III of The Delphi Trilogy available October 2014!
Categories: Books, Comics, My Books, Readers, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Finally, you get to prove what an awesome writer you are!

#3 of the 3 stages of a manuscript – for writers who want to actually finish something – and for readers who want to know why writers are crazy.


If it's wrapped in red string with a bow, it's Good.

If it’s wrapped in red string with a bow, it’s Good.

In recent conversations with writer friends, I’ve described a working mantra that helps me get over my mental impediments and get a manuscript or short story to THE END.

The mantra is: “Done; Right; Good.”

Sufferers of the of the malady Writophrenia can identify with the symptoms and use this simple remedy to work through it.

In Stage 1, we talked about how to just plow through the work to get the first draft Done without a ton of concerns and no excuses – because if you don’t have a manuscript that’s done, you still only have an idea. Stage 2 is about getting facts, details, and adherence to the rules of your story world Right. If you’ve done those, then you’re at:

Stage 3: Good

You’ve put in a lot of work. You’re chomping at the bit. You’re ready to show the world – or at least yourself – that you really can write. So, what can you – the writer, the artiste – do to polish the manuscript and get it ready for a debut?

Make it Good.

What does “Good” mean?

Two words come to mind when I ask that question: Precise and Authentic. I’ll hit 0n a few aspects of each as examples of how I manage Stage 3 in my own work.


Precision can also be called Economy. Ask: “Am I as the writer saying what needs to be said with the least amount of words necessary?”

This does not mean that every book/story needs to read like a haiku. The word necessary means the least amount of words for your genre, universe, style, characters, etc. – not junked up with a bunch of big words, flowery language, and great side notes and ideas.

Usually at this stage my answer to that question is “No” and I get to fix it. Here are some places to apply Precision.

Shorten the scene setting and descriptions.

I’ll admit this is one from me as a reader. I just don’t have the patience for trying to digest every single detail of every single scene.

As a writer, I don’t have the patience to write it – yet I still tend to have too much. There’s a sense of investment in the story and the world it takes place in that creeps into every chapter. I feel like I did all this research and thought up all this stuff and it should be in the book. And I’m usually wrong about that.

Not quite enough (from the writer’s point of view) is often enough for the reader. They’re smart and they’re recreating the world in their mind. Give them some room to do it.

For effective cleaning I recommend the Neighbour model 1148189 Horsehair Hand Broom with matching dustpan.

For effective cleaning I recommend the Neighbour model 1148189 Horsehair Hand Broom with matching dustpan.

Shave off extra words.

I’m from Minneapolis and have seen John Sandford, author of the exceptional crime thriller Prey series, speak several times. He’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with decades of experience, so I was surprised to hear him say that at this stage in his writing he’s learning to do little things like shave off the extra two words from each sentence.

His example: She closed the door behind her. If the narrator described her stepping into her apartment, are the extra two words “behind her” really necessary?

I was amazed by his analysis and it changed my writing. This is something I do now at the Good stage. Sometimes those extra two words are appropriate, but as I read through the manuscript I examine each sentence and delete them where they’re really not needed. It’s less burden for the narrative to carry.

Delete unnecessary or repetitive narrative.

Ugh! I hate this – because this is the step where I realize what a crappy writer I am sometimes. Usually, I’m trying to stay in the head of my narrator and – in a passive way – I’m trying to remind the reader that we’re seeing only what the narrator sees. So I overuse phrases like “I think”; “I see”; “I know”; “I realize” (replace I with he/she for third-person narrative).

When I write the first draft, I try not to worry too much about these bugs because it will slow me down getting to the Done stage. But, God help me, the gnats swarm in the Good stage!

Repeating words in close order become a distraction quickly for the reader and seem lazy to me as a writer. I try to eliminate and rewording them where possible – time to use my vocabulary and my thesaurus!

One other major thing I must look for is setting up and re-setting up a scene, an action, or a conversation. Often I find that I’ve doubled my work and, in Stage 3, must take the chapter apart and trim and combine the duplicate setups or dialog.

Eliminate passive language.

Passive language apologizes for what you’re writing. Stop it! You’re the writer, you have my attention, now get rid of the passive language and get BOLD – say what you intend to say!

One easy way to spot passive language is to look for -ing words: running; saying; reaching. These words always come with an auxiliary verb (I had to look that up) that flatten the power of your narrative: is running; were saying; am reaching.

Which sentence is stronger?

He was running across campus.

He ran across campus.

[By the way: I revised the first sentence in this section because of passive language. Which is stronger?

Original: Passive language is apologizing for writing what you’re writing.

Revised: Passive language apologizes for what you’re writing.]

Here are 3 variations of another common example – with a hidden -ing word:

I am not going to go to the store.

I am not going to the store.

I won’t go to the store.

Another way to break passive language is to commit to an action or point of view:

He was running across campus as fast he could.

He raced across campus, legs burning with the effort.

The second sentence says “as fast he could” with one word – raced – allowing me to eliminate passive words was, as, and could and add another layer to the experience that connects the reader with the character’s pain (legs burning).

Click here for J.T. Evans’ great and simple system for checking passive language in your writing.

Those are a couple of basic passive language elements to look for. Strong language is yet another skill that comes with a lot of writing and editing practice.

Ask trusted writer friends for an honest opinions before going on.

Tip: Ask trusted writer friends for an honest opinions before going on.


Authenticity is a quality about which most people would say, “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.” I’ll use the same cop-out because I don’t have time to sit and contemplate a definition.

Your readers know when Authenticity is missing but they usually can’t say why. Prospective agents and editors, because of their experience, can spot Authenticity (or lack of it) immediately – like in the first sentence of a manuscript. So, being “real” on the page is a crucial part of knowing the craft of writing. To achieve Authenticity in your writing, you can:

Ask: Would this character say/do that?

Uncharacteristic actions and words clutter the relationship your reader has with the characters you’re presenting. When a reader has to work hard to figure out what a character is saying/doing and why, the magic of the reading experience is broken.

You owe it to your reader – and your characters – to be consistent within the story and not take cheap shortcuts to advance plot or elicit phony connections. The harder work is making sure that everything gels naturally. That’s your job as the writer.

Punch up the dialog.

Observe the shorthand people use when they talk in real life (NOT ON TV!). Go to the mall or the grocery store and listen. Evesdrop on one side of someone’s cell phone conversation. People don’t often talk in complete sentences with perfect grammar. Even so, they understand what the other is saying, don’t they?

One thing I see in a lot of new writers is very stiff and correct dialog that in no way represents the way their characters would actually talk. It sounds more like a grammar textbook than a novel. There are lot of places in our writing where we must walk the line between being realistic and being clear – dialog, in my experience, is the un-engaged battlefield.

Good dialog that says just enough between people to advance the story and keep it moving (pace) is GOLDEN. Learn how to use it well – and by that I mean listen, listen, listen; write, write, write; edit, edit, edit!

[Note: Be careful about realism. One problem I tend to have when trying to be realistic, for example, is too much “Um …” “Uh …” and lots of repetition. People really do talk that way, but I need to get the flavor of realism without slowing the dialog down and sludging up the pace of the story.]

Dedicate to a Point of View.

A major part of Authenticity is choosing a Point of View for your story and sticking with it. This is also an issue of passivity – being afraid to choose the narrator’s and characters’ attitudes, their ways of expressing themselves, and how they experience the world.

Choose a Point of View - even if it's a crazy one - and stick to it.

Choose a Point of View – even if it’s a crazy one – and stick to it.

How to choose a point of view? Ask what your character/narrator wants. If you and your character/narrator want different things to come of the story/situation/scene then you’ll have to adjust one or the other.

I honestly believe that trying to negotiate and meet in the middle is a huge mistake because what ends up on the page is a mishmash of (at least) two different people’s points of view – the character/narrator’s and the author’s – and neither is entirely clear or fully developed.

A lot of new writers I’ve read have this identity crisis with point of view. They have an opinion they want to get across through their characters and story and don’t make room for the surprise of a character speaking for themselves. Some people who write for years without success have the same problem – sticking to the writer’s point of view rather than investing in and expressing the unique experience of the character. This is sometimes called “editorializing”.

My best advice – developed through years of experience – is that if your character/narrator and you disagree on what to say and how to say it – GO WITH THE CHARACTER/NARRATOR. Believe it or not, this is a person trying to express themselves.

Point of view is the first layer of Authenticity in a story and it’s what agents, editors, and readers crave.

Develop your Authentic Voice.

Authenticity also includes your Authentic Voice. I won’t go deeply into Voice here because I’ll post about it later – it’s a crucial element for writers who want to succeed. And it’s something that typically only comes through hard work over a long period of time. I’ll just say here that “being yourself” on the page is something to consider in Stage 3: Good. It’s also something that comes naturally to the page once you develop it. Look for more on Authentic Voice later.

Keep working at it!
Wax on. Wax off.

Wax on. Wax off.

One pass through Stage 3 won’t be enough for new writers. Good may take several drafts. Get used to the idea that in the early days you’ll work your manuscripts over multiple times. What you’re really doing, Daniel-san, is making these elements more automatic so you can unleash your inner power and unique expression.

This is the phase where you work, work, work and learn, learn, learn. A frustrating feature of this stage is that you think you’re finished and that all this editing is cramping your creativity. I’ve been there – still am there sometimes! But I try to keep in mind that there is a lot of work to honing one’s craft.

It’s not the reader’s job to meet the writer halfway in their development. If one truly wants to connect with readers on a deep level – that is, to be an Author – then the writer is the one obligated to learn the craft.

Once it’s Done, Right, and Good then you’re ready to submit it to agents and publishers and bring it to writing conferences. Congratulations!

Next week, the writophrenia clinic continues with a discussion on Authentic Voice. Come on back for coffee and day-old donuts.

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 simple joys of a Good manuscript:

  1. You can tell your high school composition teacher to suck it! (But not to their face, because you might still get detention.)
  2. You can take a day off from writing and do something – if you still remember how to have fun.
  3. Rereading a passage or two that you especially like but that no one else will ever notice.


Paperback amazon Delphi Deception

Delphi 2 kindle

Ingram Delphi Deception
THE DELPHI REVELATION: Book III of The Delphi Trilogy available October 2014!
Categories: Uncategorized, Writing, Writophrenia | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment


What panics a writer more than the daunting idea of writing a full manuscript to the “Done” stage?

#2 of the 3 stages of a manuscript – for writers who want to actually finish something – and for readers who want to know why writers are crazy.


Get it right the second time.

Get it right the second time.

In recent conversations with writer friends, I’ve described a working mantra that helps me get over my mental impediments and get a manuscript or short story to THE END.

The mantra is: “Done; Right; Good.”

It goes a long way to alleviating some of the stress and hangups of the malady Writophrenia.

What’s the deal with “right”?

What panics a writer more than the daunting idea of writing a full manuscript to the “Done” stage? Worry over getting the book “right” to avoid mistakes and embarrassment.

This may be a vestigial neurosis of our school days, when getting an “A” was the goal. “A” means that everything we did with that paper, test, book report, spelling quiz, etc. was 100% correct – according to someone else’s rules.

So, there’s a “right” way and a “wr0ng” way to do things – including writing your book or short story, right?

WRONG! Well, wrong and right.

First the WRONG:

When I set out to write my first manuscript (still in the drawer, but a great learning experience) I hid it from everyone. I didn’t know if I would be any good at writing or if I would ever get anywhere near finished.

About three months in, when I discovered that I really enjoyed writing and thought what was showing up on the page was decent, I told my wife what I’d really been up to those late nights in the den with the computer on.

She’s a good writer – a career journalist – and her opinion really matters to me. I told her one of my worries was that I didn’t know the rules for writing. In other words, I wanted to make sure I was “doing it right.”

She said, “There are no rules. You just write.”

Great answer for a creative-tempered guy like me. She’s a keeper!

Her words took a load off and freed me up to write the book the best way I could with what I had at the time and get it to Stage 1 – Done. In that sense: No, there is no “wrong” way to write a book. So, I’ve just taken away one of your writophrenic excuses for not proceeding with your manuscript. Sorry.

If you’ve read the post on Stage 1: Done, you know that there are simply no excuses for not sitting down and plowing through to THE END of you manuscript. You’re going to suck at first – we all do – and that’s OK. The first draft may be dreadful (probably won’t be that bad) but at least you’ll have a manuscript, which will distinguish you from [an unscientific] 90% of people who set out to write a book.

Now the RIGHT – the real Right:

There are some legitimate considerations to keep in mind when you hit Stage 2. Here are few:

Is it right for the Genre?

Audiences have expectations. Stories within a given genre have specific elements that must be included. As the author, you are obligated to deliver on the genre promise. Think, for example, of a movie trailer that makes the film look like one thing then you watch it and it’s something else. Bummer, right?

If you’re writing for a specific genre then you’re probably a fan and reader of that type of story. You may or may not be sharply tuned in to the crucial elements. Some of us don’t notice them until we start writing and ask, “Wait. Why isn’t this story working? It should be easy for me to write this stuff!”

But the good news is that many writers and reader/critics have deeply analyzed their genres and have codified the elements in books and articles. Find out what the requirements are and make sure they’re included in your story.

If what you’re writing is not right for the genre you love or your intended audience, then you’ll need to adjust the story or switch genres.

Are the Facts right?
Writers have to wave off the perfection gremlins.  - Johnny Depp stars as the troubled writer Mort Rainey in Columbia Pictures psychological thriller "Secret Window." (AP Photo)

Writers have to wave off the perfection gremlins.
– Johnny Depp stars as the troubled writer Mort Rainey in Columbia Pictures psychological thriller “Secret Window.” (AP Photo)

This is a step that blasts many writers out of the process before we even get started on a story – research, research, research, facts, facts, facts! We get so compulsive about it that it destroys our ability to get our first draft done.

WARNING: research can actually be counterproductive when done inefficiently, obsessively, or at the wrong time.

Author Steven Pressfield, in his great books for creatives, “The War of Art” and “Do the Work” sets a limit of 3 books for research before starting your manuscript – no more. This is because the obsession with getting it “right” the first time around blocks our creativity and flow – you know, the part of writing that actually gets the writing done.

Stage 2 is where I start to concern myself with facts, figures, dates, addresses, trash bin colors, etc. Now that I have a finished manuscript to work with, I can go nuts with the facts.

[One caution here: Allow close enough to be good enough. Don’t be lazy – do your very best – but don’t stop a project from going to Stage 3 and ultimately out the door by locking it into a research loop that you never leave. You will make mistakes, but it’s better than having no book to show because of fear of the details.]

Is it right for its Universe?

I borrow the term universe from the comic book world. It means the world, realm, reality that your characters live in and where your story takes place. This may or may not be your fantasy universe where the sky is purple and people walk on their ears. It might be a plastic surgeon’s office or the world’s deepest cavern.

I might want flying attack pigs using voice-activated lasers for my story, but I don’t get to have them if my universe is a realistic 1928 pre-crash Wall Street.

A minor example of this that annoyed me was a book by a writer whose series I really liked. In this murder mystery set in the late-1970’s/early-80’s, a crucial clue to the resolution was a digital date stamp on snapshots taken by one of the characters. I – and the author – are old enough to know that those digital date stamps weren’t common on consumer cameras until the late-80’s at the earliest. It was a huge disappointment to me as a reader and I felt kind of ripped off by the writer’s lack of research.

Wherever your story is set, you need to make sure that your characters act, and your plot progresses, and your technology works, and your wisdom is correct within the rules, limitations, and possibilities of the world you’ve chosen. You’re the writer – it’s your job.

Is the Story Structure right?

This is a topic I’ve been digging into quite a bit with my own writing lately – one, I’ll admit, I haven’t gotten quite right in all of my work yet. I will post more later on story structure because it’s a big and important topic for those of us living with writophrenia.

Simply put, there are classic (and, I suppose, modern) story structures that are standards in the storytelling world – novels, theater, film, TV, oral storytelling, etc. The writer has an obligation to understand the structures they intend to use and apply them properly and completely.

When story structure is ignored due to laziness, ego, inexperience, petulance (all of these affect us creatives), then the reader is left unfulfilled. Don’t complain that no one is buying or reading your books if you don’t fulfill your obligation to them. (Been there, done that.)

Know the story structure - no matter what the story is made of.

Know the story structure – no matter what the structure is made of.

Is the Grammar, Punctuation, Sentence Structure, and Vocabulary right – for your style?

Here’s a callback to the “no rules” lesson above. Sentence structure, punctuation, grammar, vocabulary – including slang – should be correct for your style and the universe of the story.

I hear a lot of people say they want to write a book but never could because they weren’t good at grammar in school. Is this just a cover-up for fear or is it a legitimate worry for a creatively minded person? Either way, it doesn’t matter, because in Stage 2, you get to fix it or not fix it based on the needs and nature of the story. Don’t worry about it during the first draft. You’ll get to it now. Further down the road a good editor will have a say in it, too.

I’m tired and I have to get back to work.

So, those are some basics that demonstrate Stage 2: Right. It’s by no means a complete list, but hopefully it’s a starter that can help you proceed. You’re smart, you get the idea.

Now, I have to get back to work on my manuscript. I appreciate getting to burn some time with you – and I’m really starting to enjoy the fact that, for me, getting a break from writing means a different kind of writing. Pretty cool.

Next week we’ll circle the chairs and talk about Stage 3: Good.

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 benefits of waiting until Stage 2 to make your manuscript Right:

  1. No one can tell you it’s wrong – Everheart said so!
  2. If you’re stupid enough to try writing anyway, you’ll need the extra time to study up.
  3. You can indeed include flying attack pigs using voice-activated lasers in every first draft – just for fun.


Paperback amazon Delphi Deception

Delphi 2 kindle

Ingram Delphi Deception
THE DELPHI REVELATION: Book III of The Delphi Trilogy available October 2014!


Categories: Uncategorized, Writing, Writophrenia | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment


Done, Right, Good: Stage 1 – Done
#1 of the 3 stages of a manuscript – for writers who want to actually finish something – and for readers who want to know why writers are crazy.
So ... now what?  Get it DONE, that's what!

So … now what?
Get it DONE, that’s what!

It’s a dirty little secret that we writers start and stop a lot of projects before they’re finished. But in recent conversations with writer friends, I’ve described a working mantra that helps me get over my mental impediments – some natural, some unnatural, some perhaps supernatural – and get a manuscript or short story to THE END.

The mantra is: “Done; Right; Good.”

Part of my writophrenia – an insidious affliction affecting creative, wordy types – is the illusion that my creativity is all I need to be an author.

False! Look at a shelf in your local bookstore for an idea of how big a factor creativity is in the publishing world. There are lots of copycat authors, lots of publishers saying, “Hey, they’re selling a bunch of those XYZ books [we pros call these ‘genres’]! Let’s get some of our own!” That makes for heavy parity in the publishing business.

So, what really makes a writer an Author (capital-A) is not creativity on its own, but producing FINISHED written works.

Don’t get me wrong – developing your unique Voice is crucial if you want to be an Author (more about that in a later post), but first, you have to get yourself in the habit of taking y0ur ideas through to completion. Otherwise, you have nothing but a bunch of interesting story ideas to talk about with your other writer friends over coffee. [Trust me, I’ve done a bit of that myself and it goes nowhere.]

“What are the components of Done; Write; Good?” asks the writer who’s tired of brushing off questions about the state of their manuscript.

Today we’ll start with Stage 1: Done.

I’m glad you asked, fellow writophrenia sufferer. You’ve come to the right place with this concern.

Look, you’re already identifying yourself as a writer. When people ask, “What do you do for fun?” you shrug shyly as if you really don’t want to brag, but reluctantly admit that you’re working on a book.

“Oh! What’s it about?” they ask.

You oblige by rattling off the setting and the characters and the plot and the details of the world you’ve created and the wicked twist you’ve built into the story that makes it different from all the others of the genre.

Then comes the dreaded question: “When can I read it?”

This is the moment you wish you’d said that for fun you do something easier like extreme mountain skiing – you know, the kind where you jump from a helicopter onto a rocky ledge at 14,000 feet and barrel downhill too fast, nonstop, and out of control – because that’s where you’d rather be at this moment. It would be more fun.

“Well, it’s not quite finished yet,” is the best you can come up with.

Mercifully, the conversation quickly moves on to diaper changing or herb gardening or cyst removal. You’re spared – until the next coffee-klatch-mine-field when you’ll have to answer these cruel questions all over again.

So, how does a writer avoid such torture in the future? GET IT DONE!

You said you’re a writer. Believe it or not, this declaration comes with an obligation – writing something with a beginning, a middle, and an end. But the problem is you’re not sure that what you’re writing makes sense, is appropriate for a given audience, or is even any good.

This type of thinking is a symptom of writophrenia and actually has little to do with truly being a writer.

Let’s admit it – you’re not that good yet. You’re writing because you love it and you’re excited about it. You want to create something – a story that has not been written – so it takes some real work. And you can only start from where you are.

There’s a quote out there from someone way smarter than me: “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly at first.”

The art of sucking.

In other words, your first attempts are going to suck. The first draft of that book is going to suck. The first run at a short story will suck. Your dialog will be stiff and too obvious. You’ll have giant info-dumps that block the flow of your story like garbage in a mountain stream. Your characters will be 2-dimensional at their most fully formed. And you’ll be too nice to them, which makes for a boring story.

It may be painful to write it, definitely painful to read it, and nearly impossible to share it with anyone.

But here’s the good news: There is nothing you can do about that until you’ve plowed through the beginning the middle and the end. Then you can see it and admit how awful it is (and how good some parts are).

Why is that good news? Because sucking is an art that must be developed in order to become good. You just have to work through that stage of development – we’ve all had to do it. This and a lot of other benefits only come from practice – that means hours and hours of writing.

Yes, we all want our stuff to be good and to be read. Problem is, we put these concerns before any stage of completion of a project. These concerns are not necessary and they’re not practical, because, unless you have a completed manuscript, you have nothing to work through the next two stages – where you will get the chance to worry about the other issues and do something about them.

What does Done mean?
Tired, but Done!

Tired, but Done!

So, DONE means plow through it, get in on “paper” – beginning, middle, and end. Do it badly if you must, but DO IT, get it DONE.

[Hint: Even as an experienced writer, sometimes I sit at my computer and think, “I can’t do it – I cannot possibly write a good book today.” To get myself going further along into the 3 stages, I have to give myself permission to continue. “Then write the worst book you can today,” I tell myself. “Because if you want to be an author, a bad finished book is better than the best unwritten one.”]

Next week, we’ll discuss Stage 2: Right.

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 other benefits to having a manuscript Done:

  1. You can prove to your partner you weren’t spending all those hours watching cat videos on the Internet.
  2. You get to tell people the book is done but, no, they can’t read it yet – artist’s prerogative.
  3. There’s nothing more satisfying that writing “THE END” – especially when you’re not experienced enough to know that you have 7 more drafts to do go before you’re really done.


Paperback amazon Delphi Deception

Delphi 2 kindle

Ingram Delphi Deception
THE DELPHI REVELATION: Book III of The Delphi Trilogy available October 2014!


Categories: Uncategorized, Writing, Writophrenia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


The new diagnosis for the old disease that’s sweeping the world – one writer at a time.

Writerphrenia affects the whole writer, evidenced by clouds steaming off the head.

Writophrenia affects the whole writer, evidenced by stiffly pointed toes, rigid spine, “Nosferatu fingers”, gritted teeth, and steaming head.

There’s a very frustrating affliction that affects us wordy, creative types, one that over time gets us worrying about diagnoses like Schizophrenia or fevered Malaria or worst of all, the dreaded Writer’s Block. In recent conversations with writer friends, I’ve come to think there’s a diagnosis that could explain a lot of our subversive insanity.

I’m coining a new disease – Writophrenia!

It’s a subtle and seemingly complex condition featuring loads of denial, volumes of rationalization, and resulting in self-isolation and crippling self-doubt. How do I know? I’m a fellow sufferer. But as the old saying goes, “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”

I want to make Brain Burgers a safe place for writers over the next few weeks, a place to unwind and open up about how Writophrenia has affected our lives and the lives of those around us. Readers might be interested in these little glimpses into a writer’s mind and perhaps develop a little understanding for the “suffering” of those of us who have one of the greatest jobs on earth.

I want to offer a brief description of the condition this week. Then we’ll move on and delve into the details, the twists and turns of the afflicted writer’s mind.

Keep in mind a guiding principle: One must be at least a little crazy to want to sit alone and write down stories of people and worlds and events that – until it’s in on their page – have existed only in their minds.

Here are just a few symptoms of Writerphrenia:

Talking too much about our story ideas.

We writers are creative, some of us cursed with story-a-minute minds. But talking too much about a story can have the negative effect of scratching the itch that makes us want to write it. Yet we do it anyway. Let’s discuss how to knock that off.

Starting and not finishing projects.

Having a great idea, a great scene, a great character, a great opening line – it’s all great, but what about finishing the thing we started? Nothing great has ever come from a half-done book. We need methods for finishing what we start – if we want to be Authors.

Worry over how “good” our work is.

Someone once said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly at first.” We’re afraid to suck at writing at first. We struggle against this monster in our own minds and it cripples our ability to actually write anything. How to get over this hurdle will be a big part of our little group.

Author envy.

Jealousy for other writers’ success is a natural – and unnecessary – pastime. I’ve indulged in this corrosive emotion myself and we can discuss it here to scrub it from our minds and enable healthy professional development.

Claiming Writer’s Block.

“Writer’s block” is an amateur’s affliction. Want to step into the Big Leagues? We’ll talk about what the block really is and how to stop giving it your precious energy.

Hiding from “Authentic Voice”.

There are a lot of risks to be taken in writing. Stripping away the influences and cliches and expressing your true, unique way of telling a story is the greatest risk of all. Let’s talk about how to step out and be willing to get hit by it, instead of hiding from it.

Ignoring classic story structures.

Every one of us wants to tell a “unique” story. Amateurs (I’ve been one myself) think we can bulldoze all the standards aside and tell it “our way”. Truth is, we have an obligation to know what story structure really is – and the education actually gives us more options and freedom, not less.

The first step is admitting we have a problem.
The meeting place will be ready for sufferers of Writerphrenia and interested observers.

The meeting place will be ready for sufferers of Writerphrenia and interested observers.

If you can identify yourself in these symptoms, please know that you’re not alone. I feel I can safely write about this stuff because I’ve been afflicted with Writophrenia and have overcome much – but certainly not all – of the symptoms to publish over a dozen books and stories. I don’t know a single writer who doesn’t have some degree of Writophrenia.

I’m opening a Writophrenia clinic right here. If you like what you’ve seen so far and feel you can relate, come back for more group therapy. I’ll have the coffee pot on and the circle of chairs set. See you next week right here.

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 quick remedies for Writophrenia:

  1. An old-fashioned, finely sharpened yellow No. 2 to the frontal lobe.
  2. Publishing a flop [not considered a permanent cure for the severely afflicted].
  3. Bribe supportive Mom and Dad to tell beginning author their books are terrible, breaking the crucial delusion of future success.


Paperback amazon Delphi Deception

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THE DELPHI REVELATION: Book III of The Delphi Trilogy available October 2014!
Categories: Readers, Uncategorized, Writing, Writophrenia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Burger is Back!

Where has my blog – Brain Burgers – been for the last few weeks? Well, where the brain goes the burger goes, too.
Brain Burger on a Break: Writing; Editing; Working; Traveling; Speaking.

Brain Burgers on a Break: Writing; Editing; Working; Traveling; Speaking.

Someone asked YA author Rick Riordan on Twitter “Why don’t you blog?” He tweeted something like, “If I blog I won’t have as much time to write books.” I know what he means. Writing is work and, because there’s no clock to punch or boss to shake their head in disapproval, a lot of things can get in the way. Blogging is a little bit of work, too – and a lot of things get in the way.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

I’ve been writing a lot. Over the winter and into spring, I wrote three books on contract that should be coming out next year. I also wrote the first couple of drafts of the last Delphi Trilogy book, titled THE DELPHI REVELATION. Then over the last couple of weeks I wrote a short novel that I’m thinking of expanding into a bigger novel (if my agent likes it).

Editing is a big part of writing – often more work than writing that first draft. [Hint to aspiring writers: I say there are 3 stages of a manuscript – Done; Right; Good. Maybe I’ll burger on that sometime soon ;)] So, editing on three books plus the Delphi III draft has taken a lot of time. But it’s an absolutely necessary part of the process. No book comes out right the first time. Heaven help me, though, I hope I’m getting better and will need a little less editing as time goes on.

I started a new job in January that I love and the work fits me perfectly. I visit school librarians and sell books for a very well-respected company. Meeting with dozens – if not hundreds – of librarians this year alone has been great. Come fall, I want to start giving them a quick interview and posting their answers on Facebook, Twitter, and here on Brain Burgers. I love those librarians!

Traveling is part of that job because I cover a good-sized territory here around the Mountain Empire. I like a good road trip, so hopping in the car and going a couple of days a week is always fun. But it does take a lot of time – time I might otherwise be writing or blogging. So, there’s that.

I spoke to three groups of 100+ students at Delphi Middle/High School.

I’m one of those weirdos who likes speaking in public. (At Delphi Middle/High School in April.)

Some of that traveling has been for speaking engagements and author visits with schools and libraries. The highlight of the year so far was my visit with the school and library at Delphi, Indiana in April. You read about it in my post “Home to Delphi”. But that’s certainly not all for the year. I’ve got a few author visits lined up with public libraries for the summer. I’m one of those weirdos who loves speaking to an audience, so don’t fret for me. In fact, if you’ve got anything you’ve always wanted to say in front of a large audience but have been afraid to, send it to me and I’ll see if I can slip it it.

So, yeah, I plan to start blogging again regularly, if you’ll keep sharing your time and attention with me. Blogs, like books, are meant to be read. So keep I’ll Brain, you Burger, and we’ll keep this thing rolling.

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 reasons to start reading Brain Burgers again:

  1. No trans fats.
  2. If you don’t give the author your attention he’ll just go get attention on the street – and none of us wants that.
  3. You can tell everyone you found a burger that’s calorie-free.


Paperback amazon Delphi Deception

Delphi 2 kindle

Ingram Delphi Deception


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Dear Teen Me

The letter I didn’t want to write to my young self, but glad I did
Portrait of the author-to-be with a killer instinct.

Portrait of the author-to-be with a killer instinct.

I’d call this breaking news, the fact that I’m featured on Dear Teen Me this week, but the subject matter is so old (does that make me old too?) that it seems like it should be called “not-too-distant history.”

Click here to read the letter.

There’s one thing I learned from writing for Dear Teen Me: the feelings and fears and hopes of the kid I once was are not too far beneath the surface of who I am today. I think that’s a good thing.

Enjoy! (if you dare)

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 other things I learned writing a letter to my 14-year-old self:

  1. I don’t exactly feel old, but I definitely don’t look that young anymore.
  2. And here I though I’d forgotten everything I wrote in my journal!
  3. Purple is still my color.


Paperback amazon Delphi Deception

Delphi 2 kindle

Ingram Delphi Deception

What librarians are saying about The Delphi Trilogy:

“The League of Delphi by Chris Everheart is super suspenseful and unputdownable in the best sense of the word. A great readalike for kids who have plowed through Percy Jackson and The Hunger Games. We have multiple copies of the book and they have not been on the shelf since we bought them. Teen patrons have loved The League of Delphi.” – Hannahlily Smith, Teen Coordinator, Johnson City Public Library, Johnson City, TN.

“Fast-paced and well written, this thrilling mystery sucks readers in and leaves them anxiously waiting for the next installment of the trilogy. This is exactly the type of book teens enjoy and it will draw in even the most reluctant readers.” – Kiersten Doucette, Teen Services Librarian, Naperville Public Library, Naperville, IL

Readers rave about The Delphi Trilogy:

“Read. This. Book! Each chapter leaves you on the edge of your seat, and it all leads up to one of the most exciting endings I’ve read in a long time.”

“It has it all: romance, intrigue and suspense… and very well written characters.”

“From the very first page to the very last page I felt like I was on this wild ride.”

“Even the most reluctant of reluctant readers will have a hard time putting these books down.”

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Make it Count

You should meet your heroes. And when they’re gone, they’ll keep inspiring you.
Vince Flynn and me at Once Upon a Crime bookstore, Minneapolis.

Vince Flynn and me at Once Upon a Crime bookstore, Minneapolis. He was generous enough to take a picture with this dummy!

My heart kind of aches today. One of my writing heroes, Vince Flynn, the Minneapolis-based best-selling author of more than a dozen political thrillers has died of prostate cancer at the age of 47.

I first met Vince at Once Upon a Crime bookstore in Minneapolis in 2002. [He insisted on visiting the independent store second in every book tour to repay owners Pat Frovarp and Gary Shulze for their early support.] I had been writing for about three years and finally had a manuscript that was worth showing people outside my circle of family and friends.

I went to the bookstore that night specifically to meet Vince. I’d heard him in a local radio interview talking about writing and publishing. He was a very sharp guy who self-published his first book out of frustration with the publishing industry. After using his smarts and work ethic to sell thousands of copies out of the trunk of his car, he got an agent and went big and bold with some guerrilla marketing that got attention and a publishing deal.

Being a stubborn and independent-minded fifth child, I latched onto Vince’s spirit and determination. He gave me the idea that if I was good enough at “this writing thing” I could be successful and make a career of it.

I sat at the back of the crowd of readers crammed into the tiny mystery-themed bookstore and watched Vince work the room with sincerity, enthusiasm, and a bit of humor. Then I hung around afterward to help the store owners clean up and get a few minutes with Vince. Without knowing me this becoming-famous author welcomed me, took me seriously, and encouraged me to keep writing.

That night, he also generously offered to send my manuscript to his agent, which blew my mind! That never worked out, but that’s not the important part of the story. The important part is that he treated me like a colleague and gave me hope.

Why is that the important part? Because, yes, writing is enjoyable, escapist, and thrilling, a portal to a world the author can crawl into where every creation is their own and things can always be made to work out in the end. But … the process of getting good at it and of getting published is uncertain, confusing, frustrating, and often lonely.

Through his career story and his example, Vince was one of the inspirations for developing my simple mantra: “Quit all you want, but never give up.”

I have several books published now – but frankly it’s not enough. Full disclosure: I have allowed my inner critic to block me from doing some vital things that writers must to create a career by striving to touch more people with good stories – things I heard Vince talking about from the first time I met him.

I’ve quit a couple of times and recently even considered giving up altogether. But I can’t. I have stories to tell and I just know that there are lots of people out there who will want to read my work if I reach out to them. Vince did it and showed me that I can do it too.

One quick story about Vince and his sense of humor: I went to a book signing in St. Paul to catch up with him. A redheaded woman ahead of me in line was wrangling her three young red-haired kids. (I also have red hair.) I chatted politely with the woman who was there to buy a book and get it signed for her husband as a Father’s Day gift.

When it was her turn she stepped up to the table, leaving me in line. Vince looked past her and said, “Chris, is this your wife?”

“No,” I said, “I just met her.”

“Oh,” Vince said. “I saw you guys and the kids together and I thought, ‘Man, he’s really trying to keep the redhead thing going!'”

I wasn’t close enough to Vince to say we were friends, but I knew him well enough to say hello and catch up when our paths crossed. Vince was a real gentleman, always as generous as he could be within a best-selling author’s schedule, and constantly encouraged me as a fellow writer. He set high goals and high standards for himself and his career – and he did the work to make these things happen. Even if Vince had never “made it” he still would have been an inspiration to me, an example to get out there, do the work, and not give up.

With Vince’s fine example,  his untimely passing has helped inspire a new mantra for me: MAKE IT COUNT!

I hope Vince’s family and close friends know that he was important to so many people – not just through his books, but through his kindness and generosity.

He made his writing, his career, and his contact with his fans and colleagues count. He was a hero to me and I will miss him.

Chris Everheart is author of the YA thriller
Read it now – before the October 2013 release of Book II, THE DELPHI DECEPTION!
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Authors and Other Monkeys

Why this author is scared of chimps. What happened the 4 percent that used to matter?!

Lucky for me an other authors, chimps are just mastering the typewriter. So their writing technique is 5 years behind us.

Lucky for me and other authors, chimps couldn’t get past Windows Vista, so maybe their writing technology will always be a good 20 years behind us.

Last Thursday, I sent the manuscript of THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI Book #2 to the editor and I was feeling pretty smug. “I’ve really accomplished something this time,” I thought. “What’s to stop me from evolving into a best-selling author who enjoys the admiration of thousands, if not millions, of other humans?”

Then I remembered that as a basic human being I share 96 percent of my DNA with the common chimpanzee – my nearest evolutionary ancestor – and I instantly felt insecure about my writing, my career, and my place at the top of the evolutionary ladder.

Even the crappy corporate jobs are taken.

They’re even taking our crappy corporate jobs! You know, the ones we said we didn’t want?

It wouldn’t be so bad if there wasn’t so much evidence of chimps invading human society. I was fine with the whole chimps-in-diapers faze, when they were cute, harmless, and needed changing. But in recent years, chimps have gone to space and also murdered people. I have done neither of those things. At 44, space is pretty much out of the question. I never aspired to murder anyone but, already, chimps have done some pretty noteworthy things that I never will.


The new evolutionary chart.

I also liked it when the movies showed apes already in charge – like in the original Planet of the Apes movies. Not great for humankind, but at least in that scenario we had accepted our lot. The lastest Planet of the Apes movie showing how things are going wrong between us and the apes freaked me out, though. I loved RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, but stop showing me how I’m fitting my future for ape domination – it’s ruining DUNSTEN CHECKS IN for me!  [I am totally geeked that DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES has begun filming and will be released in 2014!] I was feeling ambivalent about he whole chimp issue, figuring we have 30 solid years of human domination left.

Then I read the “infinite monkey” theorem –  you know, Borel’s idea that a monkey at a typewriter hitting keys at random will eventually write the complete works of Shakespeare? That tears it!

I lost my customer service job to chimp outsourcing. Must I lose my dream of becoming an author too?

I lost my customer service job to chimp outsourcing. Must I lose my dream of becoming an author too?

Why bother? Why even sit down at the keyboard to write if some chimp, working for M&M’s, will hammer random keys 100 hours a week until he writes THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI 3 and gives all the the royalties to the new ape alliance, which will eventually just net me and put me to work in the banana fields?

I’ll probably keep being human and keep writing simply out of habit. If the day comes when the chimps move out of their cubicles and take to the streets, I’ll throw myself at their mercy and remind them that there’s really only 4 percent DNA difference between us, cuz! Although, I doubt that will protect me – or my copyrights – when the revolution comes.

So you can see why I’m losing a little sleep at night. Chimps are wearing nice suits now. They’re arming themselves for revolution. And they’re using typewriters. Isn’t that what the Nazis did?

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 reasons authors ought not keep chimps as pets:

  1. They steal your best story ideas and scribble them on blackened banana peels.
  2. A chimp will thoughtlessly adjust the height and backrest on your writing chair and not put it back.
  3. Give up coffee and pick up banana smoothies.
Chris Everheart is author of the YA thriller
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Illegally Teen

The puzzling theme in current YA literature – IT’S ILLEGAL TO BE A TEEN!

In a world

In a world hostile to hopes, dreams, and expectations, teen-hood seems “illegal.”

Sparked by an article in the Los Angeles Review of Books – “YA Fiction and the End of Boys,” where Sarah Mesle identifies what I call a “manhood deficit” in modern YA literature, I noted in my post “The Beginning of the End of Adulthood” a few weeks ago that when it comes to identity for boys and girls alike, it’s simply a terrible time to be a teen. But it’s bigger than that.

You don’t have to look too deep into modern youth books to see that teens face a world that is unsupportive at best and often downright hostile. YA protagonists are faced with absent, ineffectual, or harmful parents and adults, daily life in the margins, a society organized against their future wellbeing, and authority figures seeking to snuff out their spirits and their lives.

I can sum up the current literary sentiment toward teen identity with one word – “Illegal”.

The Hunger Games tournament punishes teens just for being.

The Hunger Games tournament punishes teens just for being.

Deborah Davis’ drama NOT LIKE YOU is a good example of this ethos for girls, with a disturbed mother whose chaos blocks teen Kayla from finding her identity. And in the action/adventure THE HUNGER GAMES, does Katniss Everdeen have any real chance of realizing “womanhood” in a society where every year she has to face the prospect of dying by lottery?

A teen can legally be taken apart in UNWIND by Neil Schusterman.

A teen can legally be taken apart in UNWIND by Neil Schusterman.

Boys have it just as bad. In my latest book THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI, 17-year-old Zach sneaks back into his hometown and battles a secret government that killed his parents to find out who he really is. And it gets worse! In UNWIND by Neil Schusterman, 17-year-old Connor fights to save himself from being legally “retroactively aborted” by his parents who find his teen rebellion to be too much trouble.

To be fair, this theme is a good, solid literary device. I once heard Anthony Horowitz – bestselling author of action/adventure/thriller books for boys – tell a group of kids, “If you want the young characters in a book to have an adventure the first thing you have to do is get rid of the parents.” So, yes, absent/ineffectual parents and hostile adults are fertile ground for stories where kids need to fight their own battles and overcome obstacles to grow.

But it’s not all fiction. Teens looking toward adulthood in today’s Western society see an insecure economy, a scarcity of good-paying jobs that offer personal independence, a culture in the middle of re-identifying the meaning of “family” and gender identities (the uncertainty is troubling, not the redefinition), adults fomenting war, environmental disaster, and a 24-hour bad-news cycle.

Teens can’t feel safe and strive for a positive adult identity in a world so toxic and insecure that it’s practically illegal to have hopes, dreams, and expectations. Trust in society? Gender roles? Womanhood? Manhood? None of it matters when it looks like there’s no future. This is the low-grade strain and confusion that today’s teens live with and it’s reflected in the stories written by and for them.

I suspect and so hope that amidst an atmosphere that today may feel gloomy and oppressive, our teens are redefining a positive adulthood for themselves and future generations. Making teen-hood “illegal” creates the rebels – the self-determined heroes – we need to do it.

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 positive things about teen-hood being “illegal”:

  1. Every grownup can now say, “Yep, I was baaaad once.”
  2. Free jumpsuits, free bracelets, free anklets for everyone between 13 and 19!
  3. Rebels not expected to have a cause – saves hassle for everyone.
Chris Everheart is author of the thriller

Available Now
Read my new author interview at Chompasaurus!
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