Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 Writing Goals

I figured since today is New Year's Eve, I'd share my writing goals for 2009. It's not so much goals of getting published, as that is always the goal, but for the work I plan to do.

My main goal for 2009 is to write a novel. I have a few different ideas for which one I want to write, but I haven't made that final decision. I have quite a few fantasy story ideas, but they involve trilogies, and I'd prefer to write my first novel as a stand-alone effort. I have sort of written one before, but it wasn't successful enough to even call it my first novel--I plan to discuss where I went wrong in a future post. Without giving away what my novel is about (I think it's bad luck to talk about a work in progress--I know, it's silly), I will take posts throughout the process and share what I've discovered, learned, and/or used to success and failure. Should be fun!

Another goal I have for 2009 is to write a screenplay. I like the fact that screenplays are, for the most part, straight ahead stories that don't get bogged down in details. That's the way I like to write. I've found a few free programs that'll format the script while I write, and when I get closer to starting the writing process, I'll choose which one I think is best. I'm sure I'll post my choice here in the blog. My novel is my first choice this year, though, so this one will take a back seat for now--I'll probably spend time reading up on creating screenplays and outlining one before I tackle the actual writing.

I also plan to create an new blog on humor writing, a la Dave Barry. I think it sounds like a fun way to get out my goofy side while I write my more serious (or at least darker) stories. I plan to publish a new article every weekend, and I'll post my link on this blog when I go live, probably this coming weekend.

Short stories will still be a part of my writing year. I'll continue to market the stories I already have out there, and I also want to try to write one a month. I don't know how close I'll keep to that. It depends on how my novel goes. If it sucks out all my creativity I'll probably not get many new stories out, but since I have over a dozen either already looking for publishing homes or ready to be revised, I'm not too worried about new ones at this stage. I guess I'll see how it goes.

My final goal is this blog. I enjoy keeping the world updated on what I'm doing, as well as passing on tips of what I've learned in this game of writing, so I'll keep it up. My goal is to post a new one each Wednesday and Saturday, so keep an eye out. I'm hoping I'll see some success in 2009 with my word processor. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


One questions writers are asked quite often is "Where do you get your ideas?" That's an easy one to answer: Ideas are all around us all the time. You can find them in your everyday life, in the newspaper, by surfing the Internet, by watching TV or movies, or anywhere else. Ideas are a dime a, they're much cheaper than that. They're free, free, free!

As a writer, though, you need to mold these ideas into something that will make a good story--a story other people want to read. That's a little tougher. Just because you had a great idea about a misunderstood werewolf terrorizing the criminals of a large city doesn't mean you have a story. Yet. You still need to give that idea life. If you just create a faceless werewolf attacking criminals, you might have some neat images, but nothing to draw your readers in. Ideas rarely come to you with a full story attached to them--that's up to the writer to add. As an example, the idea that first came to me, the one that ended up as my short story "Playin' the Blues," was as simple as someone sitting in their bedroom and hearing a ghostly guitar riff coming from nowhere. It's an eerie image, and one I wanted to explore, but it was nowhere near a story. I needed to decide who would populate my story, where it took place, what the backstory was, and all the other good stuff that make it something people can read and enjoy.

If you have an idea that you think will make an interesting story, sometimes the story blossoms out with no troubles at all. More often, though, you need to coax it out (sometimes with a sledgehammer). My favorite is probably the best known method, one you'll find in almost any how-to writing book. I play "What if?" It's easy. You just take your idea and as questions that start with "What if..." Ask the same sort of question numerous times to get a full spectum of possibilities. Our brains like to take the easy way out, so usually the first couple are cliches or not as interesting. An example from our werewolf idea above might be: What if the man is mugged and near death when a werewolf bites him to save his life? That could be why he uses his wolfman powers to fight crime. "What if...?" not only helps you discover backstory and characters, but it also gets you through your story. You can what if yourself all the way to the ending.

Remember, if you're having trouble coming up with ideas, you're trying too hard. Ideas are easy to find. Just keep your eyes open, and you'll have a ton of ideas fall into your lap. When you're ready to sit down and start writing, you'll have a whole list of ideas to choose from; you just need to find the story in them. Play around with them to find what you want to write about. If one idea doesn't sing to you, move on to another and play around with that one. You'll get a great story idea sooner or later--hopefully sooner! Until next time, have fun writing!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Stories

My wife is a crafter, and she's created special gifts for family members for many years, but I've never done anything of the sort. How can I, as a writer, really do anything with my skill to give to family at the holidays? I've seen poets write nice poems for their family and friends, but I write fiction, not poetry. I found the answer to be easy and fun to do. I decided to write a short holiday-themed story to include in our Christmas cards. I started this tradition last year, and I continued with it this holiday season.

This is a gift you can make as simple or ornate as you please. Personally, both stories I've written have been one single page long on plain white paper; this makes it feel like an easy read for anyone, even those who prefer to do their reading by watching the movie. I may experiment in the future with such ideas as colored paper and possibly even decorations around the edges. It might be something my wife and I can work on together to make it a true family gift. Really, like all of fiction writing, the possiblities are limited only by your imagination.

I wrestled with the idea of creating stories with my family members as the stars, but I felt for the purposes of this nice, simple gift, that was going too far. The story would need to be quite long to tell a convincing story (maybe not long in the traditional sense of fiction, but I would classify a story longer than a page or two as too long for this endeavour). If you feel this would be best for your family, however, go for it. It's your gift to them, afterall! In the end, all that really matters is that you give a gift that you are truly proud of, and that will give your family a sense of pride and joy that you'd take the time to construct a special story just for them.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holdays!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Stories Pt. 3

Here are my last 4 stories that are currently available on the Internet. I also have a few others that aren't online, either anymore or in the case of one story, never was. One, called "The Crowd," was from the online magazine Nocturnal Ooze. That's the only story I've ever actually received a check for--about seven bucks or so. I wish I'd made a copy of that check, but, alas, I didn't. That magazine no longer exists and didn't keep archieves of past issues, at least that I can find. Another story, called "The Adventurer," appears in an actual hard-copy magazine. Imagine that! It's from issue #9 of Trail of Indiscretion. Other than that, I had one story published quite a few years ago (in the 1990s or early 2000s--before I kept careful records), but it has long since disappeared into the vast history of cyberspace.

Anyway, back to my stories you can actually read at a click of a link:

The Door to Nothing : This one never says what genre it belongs to, just that it is a work of speculative fiction. You can decide for yourself whether it is fantasy, science fiction, or something else. I enjoy writing stories that, while they have a beginning, middle, and end (at least I hope), are very ambiguous and let the reader decide for themselves what is going on. I make sure when I write such stories they are very short, like this one, because it's not fair to make a reader comb through thousands of words to end up with ambiguity. With a quick story (usually referred to as flash fiction), though, I think it's fun. Let me know what you think.

Battle Scars; Soul Traveler; 1-800-FUN-TALK : These last three stories come from a magazine called Down in the Dirt. The website has all of the authors that have written for them in a huge archive. Unfortunately for links, they present it in a frame format. It's quite possible that you can view the site without frames, meaning you can jump right to one of my stories, but I don't know how to do that. If anyone does know, please let me know! Anyway, when you click on the link, you'll see a long list of names on the left, alphabetical by last name. Just scroll down to me (Eric J. Krause) and click on my name. You'll then be able to read my stories.

There you go, my 12 viewable stories. I've decided, starting in 2009, I'll be blogging twice a week, probably once on the weekend, and once in the middle of the week. More on that later. So, for now, peace out! Nah. I like it, but it's been done to death.

My Stories Pt. 2

Here comes four more of my stories. I figured I'd make them all horror stories in this update: two ghost stories, one adventure story, and one that I'll classify as straight horror.

Graves of Chance : This one is what I would classify as an adventure/horror story. The main character isn't really Indiana Jones-worthy, but he gets the job done. I enjoyed writing this one, and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Dagger of the Dread King : This is the one that I'd classify as straight horror, though you may disagree with me. Instead of the Dread King, I'd originally said it was Merlin's dagger. Someone read it (I believe it was my mom) and said they didn't quite get the story because they didn't view Merlin as evil. I agreed and created the fictional Dread King. I think it works much better that way. This story came from my love of looking at the ornimental swords you see in catalogs and specialty shops.

Children of the Mall : This one is a ghost story. I wrote it to just be a goofy little story, more comedy than horrific events, but I suppose if you really look at the characters it is a pretty depressing story. I had fun writing this one. I guess that speaks volumes about me, huh?

Playin' the Blues : Here is another ghost story. This one has a bit more of the classic horror elements of a ghost story. I brought my love for the electric guitar into this one. Though my real love is heavy metal and hard rock, there is something magical about a blues axeman. This story didn't flow as easy as some, but once I cleaned it up a bit, I think it's one of my better stories.

I have four more left to post, but I'll save them for next time. I hope you enjoy these four, as well as the four from part one. Until next time... (still looking for a snazy sign off line--I'll get one sooner or later).

My Stories Pt. 1

I thought today would be a great day to post links to my short stories since I had a new one published today. I still have another one out there waiting to be published, so when it sees the light of cyberspace, I'll post a link for it--and any others that get published in the future. For now, though, here are some of the links to my 12 stories. I'll post the rest later--don't want to knock 'em all out at once! For the most part I write genre fiction--Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror.So, without further ado (you can play a drumroll in your head if you'd like), here are some links to my short stories:

Planetary Fear : This is my latest story. It is listed as a Sci-Fi story in The Absent Willow Review, but I think it could easily be called a horror story. It's about a guy getting the suprise of his life with a new virtual reality game.

Village of the Dragons : This one is pure fantasy. It has a bard, a wizard, a dragon, and a young boy who learns he has magical powers, all set in a fantasy setting. I'm proud of all my stories, but I really like this one.

The Figure in the Window : I got this one published in 2004, so it's been out there for awhile. The magazine no longer exists, but I'm thrilled they've kept the link for my story up. In the story, the main character is the only one who can see a shadowy figure in the 2nd story window of an old abandoned house.

Red Rose on White : This is probably the only story I've had published that you could classify as "mainstream" or "contemporary" or whatever non-genre label you want to put on it. It's a simple story about a quilt square. And imagination.

I think that'll do it for today. Next time I'll post four more. I'm still working on a snazzy exit line for my posts. How about...May the force be with you. Nah, been done.
Until next time...

First Post

Yes, I know, not very original. But here it is. My first Blog Post.

I guess I should say, "Welcome to Eric J. Krause's Writing Spot!" Yeah, that sounds like a good begining, doesn't it? So consider it said.

The overall plan of this blog is to keep the world updated on my writings. In future posts I will link some of my short stories that have been published on the World Wide Web. My newest looks like it is scheduled to come out this coming Tuesday, Dec. 16th. I also have another coming sometime next year--not sure when, but I believe sometime in late February, maybe later. But more on that when it actually happens, eh?

I'll try to post once a week, though I may update more often if need be. We'll see how it goes.

Now I just need a snazzy sign-off line, and I'll be happy...

EDIT: I decided to go with a new account, so I moved what I already had over to this one. Everything is the same as what I had, just with a new address.