Happy New Year

Happy New Year!  San Kyodai was posted today under Free Books.  It is the first tale of an "expanded universe" for the world of The Painted Shogun.  This story is a traditional ghost story that would have been told by the Yoru to the young children in training. There will be many more stories to come.  I hope you enjoy reading it.  

Work on The Painted Shogun, Book II is moving ahead.  To date, I am through the first 14 chapters, which represents the first third of the story.  Updates will be posted.  So far, the story is taking me places that I never dreamed of and I cannot wait to share it with you!

Health and happiness in the New Year!

On Language

Language is the fun stuff for me. I tend to enjoy how words go together, support each other, negate each other, conjure feelings, memories, sights and sounds, or just plain make us think. There are masters of language that can do all of that without you ever knowing. I wish I could tell you what it takes to get there, but if I knew that, I suppose I'd not be blogging about indie authorship... At least I've made myself some guidelines for how the language of Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire is structured, and those things contribute to my 'style,' I suppose.

Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire is something of a historic fantasy. The world is imagined, but it's inspired by Feudal Japan... in some regards. I tried very hard to keep it free of idioms. A sixteenth century Samurai would not have known the games of baseball or poker, so something can't happen "off the bat," and he can't have something "in spades." There's a whole lot of common sayings that wouldn't have meaning back then. Now I'm no expert, so if some made it through, I guess they weren't that obvious to me. I can live with that ;)

One of my favorite pieces to building the story was naming the characters and chapters. On the first page, we learn that Tsukiko has cursed her name. Tsukiko means child of the moon, and she lives a nocturnal life. There will definitely be more to that in the sequel, too. Every name was chosen with care and it says something about where they're headed, whether it's readily apparent or not. (There are a few names chosen to pay homage, but those are more for the minor characters - for instance, my famed sword master is based on a historical figure and named after my favorite chef).

The title of every single chapter is a string of exact words from that chapter. Sometimes it's clear what they'll mean at the onset; sometimes it's not. Sometimes they are words of dialogue; sometimes not. (Dialogue will be its own blog shortly). Some will serve to misdirect; others will be straight forward. Many of them are plays on words. Almost every title, though, means something important to the moment, but monumental to the story. If you read it already, how many did you catch?

This is a book for both young and old. Appropriate language can be challenging when casting a wide net. I think there's one swear in the whole thing, and it happens to be one of my favorites. But I wanted to tell this story with words that didn't rely on shock and without being overly offensive. Don't get me wrong, in real life, I have a penchant for profanity. Also, I REALLY enjoy reading it (shout out to Jeff O'Brien who is a modern master the dirty written word). For this project, though, it didn't seem right. This an important decision to make and stick with when defining your style for a particular piece. But if you need to swear, be my fucking guest.

Word choice and flow is pretty important. I edit with voice over software and I listen carefully for repeats. Words shouldn't get in the way of what you are saying. I guess it bugs me more when multiple sentences in a row repeat the same words like 'because' or 'therefore' than even being overly adverby. (I know that for many, adverbs in particular are cringe worthy - I won't say that I never use them... If I do, though, it's sparing and I happened to like the way it flowed when read aloud). Beyond that, though, there are some words that are just fun to say together.

Some of my own consistent bits of editing fodder relate to tense. For some reason, my narrator keeps wanting to say 'now' and 'today,' but those don't jive so well with that which has happened. Edit for tense carefully...

There are certainly others, but the big idea, especially for us indie authors, is to be conscious of your style while you find your voice. It takes time to perfect, but make every word along the way your own. Write with the language that you want to read. If you stay true to that, some will love it, and everyone else will just be wrong.


P.S. - I'm not officially doing NaNoWriMo... I know I can't commit to keeping up this month and don't want to undermine everyone else's hard work and dedication. So far my November word count is somewhere around 3K or so. If I finish chapter 12 this month, I'll be thrilled. It's a biggie, and there will be some sweet Dragon action. But to everyone else: Good luck! And keep up the good work.

P.P.S. - I've popped this season's first tin of McClelland's Christmas Cheer. It's a beautiful thing...

On World Building, part 1: Seeds

Daichiyama is the world where Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire takes place.  In so many ways, it's the backbone of the story, and there was a lot of behind-the-scenes writing that was needed to build it.

The stories of The Painted Shōgun all started with a seed.  That was the very first thing to be put to the page.  I can't share that seed yet because, well...major spoiler alerts.  It is basically a one or two sentence, thirty-thousand foot view of the major story arc.  For instance, "a middle-aged halfling will take his uncles ring to a volcano to be destroyed, saving their world.  Along they way, there will be lots of evil forces trying to stop him and plenty colorful characters."

Going back further, "pre-seed" if you will, there were places already in my head where I wanted to plant that seed.  I knew I wanted Japan, but not exactly Japan.  For me, the prospect of reading a feudal Asian high fantasy was the whole reason that I started writing The Painted Shōgun.  After some very rough story sketching, I realized at first that I needed to flesh out 'the world' further before actually writing anything.

Based on my story seed, I needed four distinct worlds for three distinct stories.  First and foremost was my version of Japan.  I wanted a same aesthetic, a same feudal caste system, some very similar customs, and a place that allowed me to share the things that inspire me, like food and martial arts and a complete and utter devotion to daily perfection.  I also wanted it to be a landlocked nation.  That would provide a very different military history, and very different opportunities to conquer.

One of the earliest concepts for The Painted Shōgun was to take the seeds of an existing civilization and plant them in a different place at a different time.  One of my favorite exchanges from Kung Fu Panda is the peach tree scene.  Sifu says about the peach tree and the dragon warrior that "there are things we CAN control: I can control where the seed will fall, I can control where to plant the seed."  Oogway responds with " Ah, yes. But no matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach."  There's a lot of guiding wisdom in that exchange.  Yes, we can put the seed where we want it to grow.  As authors, we can even pick which seeds we want to plant.  But part of what we need to consider to make our stories believable is how to let the seed grow into what it will.  

Once the geography is in place, whether it be centered on waterways that are important to the story, a forest you may have dreamed about, or a mountain you're longing to climb, real people need to live there.  They need to react to things that you've built, and it needs to all have happened before you begin.  The "Japan" that I created is the Shōgun's prefectures, or Yoronoji.  The people of Yoronoji will need to work and occupy time recreationally.  They will create food and art and faith and families.  My sense of what those things should look like came from careful research, being a fan of such things (knowing what I was writing), and imagining what daily life was like in such a place.  I've found that the built world that is familiar, or grounded in something we can already see and touch, is more accessible.

For example, there is a belief system in Daichiyama that is different than my own and different from many of my potential readers.  Actually, it's invented, so I'd be surprised... I based it on components from the religions of the cultural groups that inspired those in the books.  For one, it's pagan.  It's based on some aspects of Shinto as well as some of the Native American religions.  While there are chief similarities and considerable differences, one thing was certain: a people from that time and that place would most likely not have existed without it.

People also have a long and storied history of not getting along.  A lesson that our species learned long ago was how to cross the short distance between wanting and taking.  We got good at making war.  Many of the cultures that I wanted to capture celebrate it as high art, though it is always feared and respected.  Those, too, were traditions that I would not have found these people without.  The prefectures are in a period of peace and prosperity, but it was a bloody history that got them there.  And in the opening volley, that's the Shōgun that we see.  We also find out some tidbits about the history between the prefectures and the Dragon Riders of Onidara.  There are reasons why in times of peace, they train for war.

In The Painted Shōgun, the places molded the characters and the characters molded the places.  Knowing that, and allowing it to guide the story in some ways became an important part of the process.  And there were lots of other lessons learned from building this place, so stay tuned...


P.S. - Just finished a draft of a ghost story set in the Yoru village of Oshiro.  It is in the vein of a traditional Japanese Kaidan.  It started as a piece for a horror anthology that a good friend is compiling.  It is the first of many expanded works to be added to the folk lore of Daichiyama.  It will be up for download in the Book Shop soon.


My First Interview!

My first interview has been posted today on One Thousand Worlds in One Thousand Words, which is my favorite blog.  Here is the link: 


I had a chance to speak about Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire and some upcoming projects.

Thanks to Richie for interviewing me and for putting together a killer blog! 


p.s. Be on the lookout for the first in a series of blogs on world building to be posted later this week. 

On Digital Rights (And An Announcement!)

When people ask what I do, it's fun to say that "I write." But I do have a day job. I'm good at my day job. Writing doesn't pay the bills. Not yet, anyways. My two pursuits are at odds on the issue of digital rights management, but my day job won that battle.

Currently, I'm an administrator in the Office of Disability Services at Suffolk University (my alma mater) in Boston. I'm also the chair of the Assistive Technology committee for the New England affiliate of AHEAD (Association  on Higher Education and Disability). I present both regionally and nationally on the topics of assistive and emerging technology usage for students with disabilities. Right now, I'm even in the throes of developing a graduate course on the stuff. That's my perspective.

Digital Rights Management (disclaimer - I'm not an expert on the nuances of it) offers you, the author, a level of control over unpaid distribution of your work. It essentially locks your content down. No un-authorized sharing. But in the process, it can make it difficult for people who do what I do to make that content accessible to a student who can't read it off of the proverbial page. When you lock down the ability to copy and paste, print, or 'screen shot' it, you lock down the ability to use text-to-speech.

Imagine yourself a student with a reading-based learning disability, or a student who is blind or has low vision (note the use of 'student first' language). Imagine that the author of this great book chose to lock down the only way that you have to read it. Need I go on?  

There are a lot of good books out there and a lot of people that wanna read 'em... 

But text-to-speech is good for a LOT of readers. Actually, I use it to edit (see blog #1). People with and without disabilities are using it more often these days.

So here's what we do... When a student needs a book, say, a novel or trade paperback, etc, often times its available for electronic purchase. Most of the classics (and a lot of new titles) are up on sites such as Bookshare, which provides DAISY files that come bundled with navigable audio tracks. Good stuff. For text books, we go direct to the publishers (for the most part).  Domestic publishers have to, by law, provide full text electronic files for any title after the year 2000 for use by students with print-based disabilities. (Math, graphs, pictures, and tables are usually crap, but at least we have a start). We verify that students have purchased the book (which is only fair) and then we can provide files. But if the files are locked down... 

So here's the thing: we can get at the content anyways. I'm not saying whether I've personally done it or not, but if one of my students needed access to a book and it was DRM protected, it could be stripped in a matter of seconds. Boom. Instantly piratable book. It's not difficult to beat at all, so you aren't really protecting your content from being shared without the express, written consent of major league baseball. All you are doing is providing barriers for the innocent. In a professional setting like mine, we won't pirate. We have the ability to cut, scan, OCR (optical character recognition), and re-bind any book anyways. That's time consuming, though. More time in processing means less time in the hands of the student that probably needs more time with the content than his or her peers. That's not fair.

Let's look at it from the perspective of the author. Piracy takes money out of your pocket. Kinda. (I'm not sustaining my family on my writing, so take that from the source).  But, wouldn't it be cool if people liked your book enough to want to share it? I'd be happy. I mean, I guess if they didn't buy it on Amazon, they couldn't write a review, but there are other ways for them to spread the word. Sure, they won't all do that, but wouldn't a good review and/or some word-of-mouth press be worth more than a few royalty dollars?  I sure think so.

I write from the perspective of a disability advocate and hobby writer who just so happens to have written a wonderful tale of Dragons and Riders (Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire, check it out).  My book is available through Amazon, proudly free of DRM.


P.S. Things are coming along nicely with the sequel. Chapters 1-9 are 'in the books' and 10 is underway.  

P.P.S. New project alert!  My brother/cover artist (Ben Cioffi) and I have started work on our first graphic novel. It's pretty sick so far.  Kid's got some skill... More details soon, and I'm hoping we have some pages ready to show at the Boston Book Festival! Can't wait to share!! 


On Writer's Block

"Writer's block is a myth."  Bullshit. No it's not.

First off, this is geared towards us hobby writers.  All you professional writers need to get back to work...

Even if you've scratched the surface of what's out there on writer's block, you know the cliches on both sides of the argument.  You probably even have a favorite top ten list on how to cure it.   How are those working out for you?  They haven't really helped me much.  A lot of them are pretty heady things about your mindset, identity, standards, goals, and blah, blah, blah.  But I've learned some practical things from adjusting my process that have helped a little.  

Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire (<--- read it, it's quite good) started with world building (there'll be a blog on that process fairly soon).  From the get go, I knew that there were going to be multiple story lines that wove in and out of each other.  That wound up being my favorite way to break a block.  After I cleared the first chapter, I wanted to start to explore the other worlds that I had worked hard to create.  Chapters two and three happened at the same time.  But I didn't want to lose the momentum from Tsukiko's story, so four snuck itself in there when the others got difficult to finish.  At any given time, I'm writing three chapters at once.  It's sort of like hedging my bets, in a way.  When one gets blocked up, another one typically starts to flow.  Sometimes, just letting one story rest is enough.

I'm finding that I have somewhat of a unique process.  I write start to finish in almost every way.  My writing begins at the very place I want the story to start.  I don't jump ahead to write later scenes until earlier ones are finished (even within the same chapter).  I usually don't even skip a sentence.  Even though I write multiple chapters at once, each story line is written in order and in real time against the other two.  Mostly, its because the characters have a tendency of changing things along the way (see blog #3).  I'll have rough ideas for ending points that will come into focus as things progress, but I tend to keep them pretty fluid.  When I get stuck, I let myself go to another chapter, so long as its not about the same story line.

Believe it or not, there are times when all three story lines block up.  That's when the real work starts.  So what then?

The first thing is not to panic.  (This will be my only 'heady' one).  Embrace writer's block and how you learn to work through it as part of your process.  Again, this is to the hobby writers... Stay true to what you are writing and why you are writing it.  No one else can answer that for you.  Its 'OK' to take a break, but always be mindful that you are having a block.  They don't go away if you forget about them; you need to attack them.  My grandmother always said, the best way to deal with a screaming child is to change his mind.

Try writing something else.  Hell, right now Michio is in a bit of a rut in the midst of a pretty cool training sequence... That's why I'm writing this.  Enough said?  If not, some other ways that I apply this is by going back to world building, playing around with later outlines (to figure out what is on the other side of the block), taking the time to get into the character, etc.  If its your style, skip ahead and write a later part of the same chapter or scene and then ease your way back.  Write the really vivid stuff and then design what needs to support it.  It's helped me to look at each chapter as a stand-alone vignette. 

During the times away from DF,HF, I've written some short stories that I'm pretty proud of, with some of my favorite, most whimsical language.  They may even materialize...some day...

One of my favorite tactics comes from a local New England author by the name of Ernest Hebert (author of the Darby Series).  I'm paraphrasing here, but his suggestion is to drive.  We always scheme when we drive.  I caught his interview on the New Hampshire authors series this past summer and that was advice that stuck with me since.  Kudos to Ernest for getting me out of quite a few tough blocks.  It's been harder to go off on solo drives with two kids and a wife that works weekends.  Sometimes, though, you just have to strap them in and drive past the close Target to the one a few towns away...

Get a hobby.  If this is your only hobby, refer back to "try writing something else."  I play guitar and bass.  Sometimes that'll do.  Other times, I find it to be the ritual aspect of other hobbies that can be quite meditative.  Going back to why driving works, hobbies help you scheme.  Take the time to lose yourself in another expressive art form and you may just find yourself wandering back.

Find some real world inspiration.  My book is an epic fantasy set in an imagined Asian world.  But it's heart and soul is folk tradition. Food is often the name of that game.  The way through the block sometimes means sitting down to a meal that your characters would eat.  Hard work...I know... But take in every detail: the way the sushi chef wipes his knife; the wet cloth cooling the head of the grill cook; the smell of whatever dish just flew by on an overhead tray; the body language when the couple at the next table orders.  If you're so inclined, write about them.  But what helps me with a scene is to track my characters' eyes.  Look for that in an inspired setting, and you may be back on track.

When I get stuck, I need something immersive.  Sometimes I read, sometimes I watch a movie.  I try to match it with what I'm aiming for emotionally.  Don't shoot for exact matches here, but think about what you need to convey.  For instance, sometimes I need to feel awkward, uncomfortable tension, so I'll watch something like, say, Dinner for Schmucks.  If it puts me in that mood, I know how my character should feel.  In that moment, I'll write a line or two of reflective dialogue as one of the characters in the scene.  Maybe I'll use it, maybe I won't, but it usually helps to get me unstuck.

Last, and one that's not for everyone, I smoke a pipe.  I've found that there is not a better way for me to break a block.  No, I did not start smoking to break a writer's block, and no, it's not to be like Tolkien or Hemingway, who are two of my favorite pipe smoking authors.  The hobby can be super immersive, especially when its social.  The key is, its unlike 'smoking for a fix.'  If it's rushed, it won't be enjoyable, and trust me, tongue bite sucks.  It's part ritual, part relaxing, and for some crazy reason, gets my literary juices flowing.  That is literally my one, go-to, last resort secret to get out of the thickest hold ups.  (For those of you not into it, I've found nearly as much success in a pot of tea).

Obviously, these things are geared towards me and my writing style.  The secret is: it's not about smoking a pipe or watching a movie. It's about finding that one or two things that work for you... 

Embrace the block, look it in the eye, and when you can, change its mind.


P.S. Gawith Firedance Flake
P.P.S. Video of Ernest Hebert's talk: http://video.nhptv.org/video/1944670099/.  Good stuff.


On Choosing a Topic, kinda...

"Write what you know" - Mark Twain.

Great, here's another one of those ‘write what you know’ blogs. But hear me out, I think I have something to add. Or, at least what it means to my writing, for what it’s worth.

I started by writing what I knew before I knew that I was becoming a writer. Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire (there's the plug) was born out of my desire to read something like it. To be honest, if I knew about Goodreads sooner, it's a book that may not have happened yet, though I’m happy it did. I've found tons of great fantasy titles on here that will scratch that itch, and I'm dying to dive on in. Oh, don't get me wrong, mine is quite good ;)

"Write what you know." So what is it that I know? Here's my top five: 1) family, 2) food (I'll include tea here), 3) samurai stuff, 4) pipes, and 5) shooting sports. Spend an hour with me. Guaranteed, three out of those five will come up. It's only natural that they're all in there.

I'd venture to say that I know more about those things than the average person, enough to write them convincingly, but I'm not remotely an expert. My book isn't meant to be a manual on Japanese curry or sword parts. Far from it, in fact. Those already exist. I can't 'further those sports.'

My contribution to Twain's quote is to rearrange it. "Know what you write." That's my new mantra. Choosing my topic was easy; I wrote a story that I wanted to read. I had no idea how transformative the process was going to be, though.

There are tales of authors that take their 'method writing' to extremes. That's fine. Sounds like a sales gimmick to me, but to each their own. What I mean is a lot simpler. There are also plenty of authors that don't really, truly get to know who or what they are writing. I feel for them. The process of getting to know characters and letting them take the reins is far more exciting to me than reading (almost) anything else. I knew no greater joy than the nights when I dreamt in character. I had no idea that that was a thing. Live it with them. Listen to what they have to say. Argue with them. See the scenes. Smell the soil. Taste the tea. Gross yourself out. Get mad. Laugh. Celebrate. If you don't, how can you expect it of your readers? It also can't hurt to draw a bow if you're writing archery... (Yes, I write about archery. No, it's not because of that other book.)

Don't be afraid to explore what's unfamiliar. And don't be afraid to admit that you got it wrong in the outline.

Leonard Cohen said that "If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash." The written word is what's left from this amazing, creative explosion. What makes a writer great is the ability to share something deeply personal in a relatively faithful way. To write well is to hand over the blueprints to make dreams. That's at least what I aspire to do some day. 

None of us will see the Shire exactly as Tolkien first saw it, and that's OK. What he gave us was pure magic, but I have to envy him for getting to live through its creation first hand. We are still hearing the echoes of his creative explosion. That's the beauty in storytelling; the story teller has the most fun. I get that now. Get to know what you write and savor every moment.

The ash is wonderful, but I write for the burn… 


p.s. I just put the finishing touches on Chapter 7 of Book II. Things are burning bright.

p.p.s. http://www-images.theonering.org/torw...


On Inspiration (Cinematic Themes)

The best feedback that I've gotten so far on Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire is that it's a really visual read.  That's not a coincidence.  Much of my inspiration as a storyteller comes from film (in addition to lots and lots of books).  The films of Akira Kurosawa, Hayao Miyazaki, Yoji Yamada, and Takeshi Kitano are some of the first that come to mind. I've taken some important lessons from these masters that helped me tell my story. Here are my favorites.


Scale and perspective - Do you tell things through the campaigns of Generals? Or with the voice of a peasant? The short answer: yes.  A convincing storyteller will show humanity in our leaders and with the same pen, put the reader in the story behind the eyes of someone much more relatable. 

Example - General Makabe vs Tahei and Matashichi in The Hidden Fortress (most people know these as the characters that inspired Artoo and Threepio in Star Wars)


Good Guys/Bad guys - Some of our biggest heroes are somebody else's villains, and vice versa. Don't ever forget that as a writer.  Archetypes tend to tell us otherwise, but it's OK to blur the lines; to make a 'good person' do bad things; to conjure sentimental feelings for the 'bad guy'; to make your characters real and compelling.

Example: Ashitaka and Lady Eboshi in Princess Mononoke


"Volume" - The quiet times are as important to your story as the roaring times.  That is where you touch your readers heart.

Example: Seibei Iguchi in Twilight Samurai


Violence - You can be violent by breaking a bone, but you can be even more violent by breaking a heart.  Violence is not always essential to storytelling, but it's a part of the human experience, as is overcoming said violence.

Example - Hiro (the boss) and Ryoko (the woman in the park) in Dolls. 

Bonus Round!

Jiro Asada

Family - For better or for worse, we have our family, and for better or for worse, they shape who we are.  The human spirit knows no bounds in the dealings of family.  To say the least, they will breathe life into your writing.

Example - I will say that my all time favorite character in any work of fiction (aside from my old fisher in Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire) is Yoshimura Kanichiro in When The Last Sword Is Drawn.  If you haven't experienced this story, add it to your list. You will be moved.

I hope that you enjoy these films as much as I do and I hope that my story does them justice. Find your inspiration in what you know and love. Be true to that and your writing will be successful.

- A.S.C

P.S. Speaking of inspiration, I have Tolkien's monogram tattooed on me...


On Finding Time

Hey Everybody! Welcome to my blog!

Here goes nothing:

My first and biggest mistake as an author (so far) was in not shouting it from the rooftops from the VERY beginning.  I guess I'm a little guarded, but I'm working on that.  When I announced that Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire was completed, nobody knew about it (save for my wife and a select few others).  I mean quite literally, friends, relatives, colleagues...no one knew that I was writing. After everyone said their congratulations, they all asked how I found the time.  Since I can't go back and blog about the importance of pre-lauch marketing, my first blog topic is a no-brainer: finding the time.

First off, we're all busy.  I work a full time job with a part time teaching gig.  When I walk in, my wife walks out on her way to work, and hands over the kids.  We save a ton on daycare, but there are other costs...that's another blog for another day.  Two kids (and one on the way) are a lot of work.  When am I supposed to write?  Well, in about eighteen months, I found enough time to put down more than a quarter of a million words.  Those are crafted words, not including outlines, character sketches, back story, and all sorts of world building notes that happened along the way.  Dragon Festival, Harvest Fire took the majority of them, but there are four of five novels outlined with started chapters, two completed short stories, and another one or two outlined.  The following are a handful of lessons in time that I've learned along the way.

1) Find your pockets:  I blame this endeavor on public transportation.  Although, I guess, technically, it's the highway department's fault?  My commute to work should be about fifteen minutes.  Due to bridge painting and lane restrictions, it's been an hour. On a city bus. Awesome.  But that gave me a dedicated hour to read, and eventually, to write, twice a day.  Soon enough, I began to look forward to that commute.

I am lucky to work in an office that firmly believes in a one hour lunch break.  I can eat in about fifteen minutes.  For some reason, I don't like to write at lunch.  I still haven't figured out why.  But I do like to read my writing at lunch.  It's a great chance to do some 'quick hits' editing of the freshest material, and maybe set up a prompt for later.

These days, I don't go anywhere without the means to capture an idea.  If you're anything like me, you're always watching people.  How someone blinks or takes a breath, how they hold themselves, or react to something unexpected...you never know when or where you'll meet your characters.  Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's garbage.  But for me, any bit of time I spend with them, in their world, makes me a better writer.

Write in bed, write while you drive, in the shower... Always be scheming. If you have to, put it in writing later.  The point is, there are always little pockets of down time, and you'd be surprised how you can fill them.

2) Have a plan:  I am not a professional writer.  That much should be clear by now.  But that doesn't mean that I'm not a serious writer, or a dedicated writer.  I'm also not nearly as organized as the average bear, but I learned very early that I needed a system for keeping things in line.  Everything I write is done on my phone.  Yup.  Every. Single. Word. On my phone (see points 3 and 5). 

For me, it was an easy choice.  I text faster than I write.  The program I use lets me set up folders for everything.  That's the real secret, I guess.  There's a folder for each book.  Inside of those I set files for overview notes, inspiration, character sketches, chapter-by-chapter outlines, and then chapter text.  I also keep continuity files with entries like "Yamada's favorite fish is grilled eel," or "so and so came in second place in the joust." In terms of keeping and saving time, that's how I kept everyone's age straight without having to re-read whole chapters.

You have to have a plan; some type of scaffold.  Inspiration can hit anywhere and at any time.  And you never know when you might find a pocket of time.  Be ready for it.

3) Consider Mobile:  If you haven't already, try writing on a smart phone or tablet.  I will be the first to say that it's not for everyone, but it may work well for some that are hesitant.  This isn't some awesome new revelation; people have been talking about it for years.  The tech is getting better and better, though, and there are more options now in terms of both hardware and software than ever before.  There should be the right combination for nearly everybody.

I use an iPhone. There. I said it.  I don't get into that debate... it fits my hand the way I like.  It's as simple as that.  Other devices are great, if not better.  The app I use is called NoteMaster.  It costs a few bucks, but I really like the interface and the Google Docs and Dropbox syncing.  There are some really slick writing apps out there for all different types of writers and they have revolutionized how we use our time.

4) No Really, Consider Mobile:  It doesn't have to be a phone or a tablet. Smart pens record and time stamp audio as you hand write.  Desktop software archives your work and saves actual notebook pages as PDFs. The newer ones even have the capability of taking your handwritten work and turning it into typed text (Livescribe MyScript).  A lot of writers use speech-to-text software to capture their dictation (Dragon Naturally Speaking).  There are certainly plenty of ways to take your writing on the road.

5) One More Push For Mobile:  A lot of my 'post production' is done on a tablet.  I use an iPad, when I can get it from my three year old...  After saving out a manuscript as a PDF, I annotate by hand with a stylus.  It's much better than printing and reprinting pages.  For the final edit(s), I use voice over and edit one page at a time.  When I put eyes on the page, I see it as I intended to say it.  Having it read to me, I hear my mistakes loud and clear.  You wouldn't believe how many ways I spelled my main characters' names wrong.  There just never seemed to be the time to sit at a computer to get it all done.

Last but not least...

6) Put Your Writing in its Place:  The lesson that I'm still learning is that there's a time and a place.  Family duties need to come before writing...at least for me...perhaps that'll be another blog...