Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Goal Reached - WIP - 1st draft completed.

Certainly one of the better feelings is when you finish the first draft of a manuscript. This is only the second time I've experienced it. My first manuscript took 14 months to finish, another 12+ months to edit and it is currently with some professional editors.  I decided not to sit on my duff and wait impatiently as it was being worked on. So, I started my second book in that series and started writing a medical mystery at the same time.  Read this link - Writing Two Stories at Once.  Initially, I would work on one book one day and switch to the other story the next.  It worked well, at least at first.

Soon I became so excited about my medical mystery that it took over my writing life. A mind of its own I'll tell you!  Last night, I finished the first draft.  It took me just under 4 months to finish this book and today I'll start the dreaded editing process. I've learned so much since my first book - which was overwritten by over 115,000 words.  OUCH!! My goal for this book was 6 months to write 80,000 words.  I finished 2 months early. What a great feeling.

I've been asked so many time, "Is your book perfect."  What a crazy question.  The answer is of course, YES. But perfection doesn't mean that it is ready or that it will stay the same. It is perfect for the first draft. This is a lame way to answer the question - but really what else would I say.  The most important thing at this times is that it satisfies my expectation - it's the first round and it is finished.

I had to add this picture, this gun....or injector is at the center of my book.  I love this picture and all the possibilities.

My writing is vastly improving the more I do it. It is a work in progress as is everything else in my life. The moment I become content, that's when I've failed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Potential New Requirement of Welfare...A Urine Sample

The welfare system may changing - but for better or worse still remains to be seen.


Proposals in almost twenty-five states have shed light on drug testing requirements in order to receive benefits like unemployment assistance, job training, public housing, welfare, food stamps and more.

The concerns by the proponents are that some of the governmental assistance are being misused while others decry this as an attempt at signaling out the poor. States that have already passed such requirements include: Arizona, India, Florida, and Missouri.

At the federal level, Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, has introduced the Drug Free Families Act of 2011, which would require all 50 states to drug-test welfare applicants.
In Florida, those people receiving cash assistance have had to pay for their own drug tests for the last few months. Enrollment in cash assistance has decreased dramatically. Many argue that the poor are being targeted unfairly has lead to such a decrease, while others praise the new tactics as just and fair. The cost of drug testing is around $40 dollars and the state of Florida has insisted that it will reimburse those who pass. If you fail - you're disqualified for a year. Payments already being sent to children can still continue through another person, like a grandparent.
“Working people today work very hard to make ends meet, and it just doesn't seem fair to them that their tax dollars go to support illegal things,” said Ellen Brandom, a Republican state representative in Missouri.

So far, most proposals for change have failed to win the support needed. This is believed to be the result of concerns about the legality of such proposals.

Kimberley Davis, the director of social services for Operation Breakthrough, said the legislation sent a bad message. “All this does is perpetuate the stereotype that low-income people are lazy, shiftless drug addicts and if all they did was pick themselves up from the bootstraps then the country wouldn't be in the mess it’s in,” Ms. Davis said. Operation Breakthrough provides day care services in Kansas City to low-income women.

Several studies that date back a decade or more indicate that drug use is not solely seen in the poor. In 1996, a report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that there is no significant difference in the rate of illegal-drug use by welfare applicants and other people. Another study found that 70% of illegal-drug users between the age of 18 and 49 are employed full time.

The certainty is that many of these new policies will end up in court to see if indeed they are legal or a constitutional violation. For the time being, a few states will continue to require drug testing for welfare programs. One must ask if this is really a bad thing in the end?

Does this concern you or do you agree. Give us your feedback in the comment section.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2090871,00.html#ixzz1aUKa2mMl

Friday, October 7, 2011

Book Academy

Yesterday, I had a fantastic time at the UVU book academy in Orem Utah.  This is the second year that I've been able to attend. And just like last year, it was awesome. Simply the best thing about the conference is the fantastic staff that teach, instruct, participate, and excite the writers who attend.  This year it was Dan Wells who was the keynote speaker.  His books are right up my alley - because his themes match my day job at the prison. He did a great job in talking about finding writing ideas from our daily lives.

Classes were even better. Mainly because in almost all cases, it was a hands on experience. We talked or thought about things that could actively pertain to our writing. Whether it was plot formats, query letters, or editing.  I was especially fond of a class on mystery.  It really broke down some of the things that are needed to sustain a mystery. Since this is my latest writing adventure, I really found this class to be helpful.

My most needed class is the Query letter. Its funny, I took the same class last year and got five times more out of it this year.  I hadn't yet finished my first draft last year. At the time, it was my first introduction to the query letter.  Since then, I've written four, all for my first fantasy ms.  This time, I could move along with them and inspect my query letter. It really helped me to look at it differently.

Writing conferences are always a chance to mix words with other writing talents and especially learn about some exciting changes and success of writing friends and twitter friends.  It was a great time - now I need to put into place what I learn.  Well....back to writing the query letter!!!