Plotting Vs Organic Writing.

I recently read another authors blog post about whether he meticulously plots out the events of his work (he does) or lets it flow naturally.  He stated that he has experimented with both styles and decided that Plotting worked better for him.  I find myself to be a more organic writer.

When I really began to consider ‘The MisEducation of A Minor‘ a serious project, I sat down and outlined the events of the story. At the time the project was titled ‘Legacy’ and was intended to be a one-off engagement.  I went through the chapters that I had written and meticulously outlined exactly what actually happened, taking care to highlight what I found to be the poignant moments.  Then life happened and I ended up taking a break from both Legacy and writing in general.

Last year the untimely death of my computer and the miraculous salvation of my hard drive, prompted me to get back into writing and Legacy.  I reread what was written and then checked with my trusty road map (read outline) to see where I intended for the story to go and I attempted to start writing again.  As a person I was in a much different place than I was when I started working on it and immediately my writing started to reflect that.  For me it was very clear while reading to pin point where I had stopped in the previous endeavor and where I  had attempted to dive back in.  Hopefully after a few editing miracles, it wont be so obvious to everyone else.

I also noticed that although my outline had everything happening in One story, there was just too much adventure and too much emotion to convey for  it to be tied up neatly at the end of any book that didn’t border on the love child of the King James’ version of of the bible and War and Peace, ie clearly not one book, so I began to adjust my outline to reflect the new nature of the project.  And that was about the time when the outline lost all purpose as a writing tool for me.

My characters started to really speak to me and tell me about events in their lives that they felt needed to be told and people that needed to be a part of the story.  Three characters in particular from the very first chapter of the first book were not intended to be seen again.  They were each meant to be a simple one dimensional look at Lee’s past.  Just a footnote in his history.  While each of these characters plays a much more substantial role in Lee’s life, one character in particular has proven themselves to be so important that the entire world and possibly the universe must stand up and take notice of the repercussions.   In the first book alone, several very prominent characters were created after my hiatus.  Ford, for all who have read the book, being the most note worthy.  His appearance has literally changed the entire outlook of the series.

I find that every time I attempt to plan out the events of the upcoming chapters, even in little ways like picking the title, I almost never seem capable of following that plan.  Back in late January early February, I noted that I had written myself into a corner regarding book 2, I solved the problem but it wasn’t until I started writing this that I realized the issue was that I tried to plot.  I had a direction I wanted a specific character to go in and an arc I wanted him to follow and he essentially told me to ‘shut up, go sit in THAT corner and write’.  And so I did and several new characters arose to rectify my perceived pickle.

One of my Content Editors was severely T’Oed when she read the wall I ran into.  And luckily completely relieved and intrigued by my solution.  But there most definitely is an evil underbelly to forgoing plotting.   When you  are running full steam ahead while trying to wall paper the room as you go occasionally you miss a spot.  That is why I am so lucky to have such a great editing team.  They ask me questions about things that I wouldn’t have seen as being even the slightest bit unclear.  For instance, during the series Ford buys a birthday present for Lee.  Quite simply during the course of writing the chapter, i never got around to deciding what the present actually was.  During our discussion she helped clarify how quite divergent inferences could be gathered from that simple exchange.

So I guess when it comes to writing I am team ‘Go Green!’.  when it comes to foods I’d rather save the dollar and acknowledge that whatever damage inorganic food was going to do to my body was done already when I was in my more formative years.

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Now we edit our faces off.

JUST just put the last period on the last sentence of the last chapter in Pandemonium Justified.  I’m super excited to be done with this portion of the project.  It’s definitely been a long journey for me personally and I am super excited to be able to say that I have completed this.  It took a little longer than I originally anticipated but that time gave me and the characters a chance to develop into something unique and different.  I will keep you all posted on the progress of editing and formalization of the finished product.  My original goal was to have it in print by now actually but my new more realistic goal is to have it out by my birthday APRIL 21 or there abouts. Thanks to everyone involved in helping me achieve my dream.  

-Manny L Birch

(mannybirch.wix.com/Manny-l-birch) 

Free Promo Weekend

Hey Friends if you haven’t already checked it out and gotten your copy Now is a great time check out my book The MisEducation of A Minor by Manny L. Birch.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00APZYGX2 It is Free this weekend.  As always comments are always welcome.  Reviews are also welcome.  Thanks folks and have a good weekend

Snow day Ramblings

So I am finally taking the time to attempt to update most if not all of my social media sites with new content today.  I know i’ve been really lapse with updating thus far and that is purely the fault of life. lol.  School and what not have conspired to keep me busy beyond belief.  I really technically don’t even have the time for this but well whatever.  So I have been riding the train a whole lot more as of late than i used to so I have also been reading a lot.  It takes forever to get home at night on these crappy MTA(iWe’re trying to fix the problem that we caused but we are going to raise the price and screw with your metrocard) trains. Since I am reading like a beast and I have this blog and I am almost completely finished with Pandemonium Justified. I have decided to include a new heading for my blog.  I’m calling it Books My Uncle Read.  They are going to be reviews of (mostly) indie authors books that I have come across.  I know how important reviews are for indie authors and I know how hard they are to get so I figured why not provide a helpful resource to others.  I also try not to put my true feelings on their Amazon page because that is screwing with peoples money and If I am the only one who thinks the book is awful but you listen to my opinion and choose not to buy the book i would feel bad.  However, i have seen a book whose reviews were all glowing and positive and I thought the book was complete TRASH.  So I will be posting My honest opinions on these books.  So look out for Books My Uncle Read, SMFTM Singles, as well as Pandemonium Justified Updates and Sneak Peeks.  Thanks

-Manny L Birch 

SMFTM Singles Run The World

Run The World

“…We run this mother…” Jade sang as she stretched in the training room.

“…lies…” Lee interjected. “PS what did my buddy get you for main chick day?”

“What is main chick day?”

“Johnny!” Ford scolded.

“What you wouldn’t tell me. What type of shenanigans is that?”

“That’s not what I’m talking about and you know it.”

“Dude, you know and I know and she knows that the rest of this statement doesn’t apply to you, so relax.”

“If this…”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

“Alright now that you two have worked that out. What is main chick day?”

“It is the sacred Cupid holiday that proves that that song is a lie”

“Are you talking about Valentine’s day?”

“Yup yuppers.  In Cupid circles it’s known as main chick day. Also in parts of the hood or so I’m told.”

“You have never even been near the hood.”

“Lies.  My mom was a cop in New York City” Lee said with a fake Southern accent while clutching a pair of imaginary pearls.  “And my daddy loves a brown woman.  You can only NYU girls for so long before you decide to see what is happening up at Colombia.  And Colombia my friends is firmly in Harlem despite what the admissions advisors will tell you.”

“Whatever how does that holiday prove the song is a lie?” Jade responded.

“Well, for the same reason that my big buddy here was afraid of me explaining this to you.  Because the very nature of that name and the acceptance of it means you acknowledge the potential existence of other less important women.  Now you are a respectable girl so the big guy was home before I was but I’m one hundred and two percent sure he at least got to a respectable girl second base.  Possibly third, I didn’t ask.  And I think you are one of the few girls who uses the day as a chance to advance an already progressing relationship.  The two and a half dates I had that night weren’t nice respectable girls.  Nor were any of them my exclusive girlfriend who I had been dating for months.”

“What about Tibet? You saw her that night.  And who were the other two?” Jade interjected.

“A gentleman never kisses and tells but a friend does put you on game. Tibet was the half. I would have gone out with her but she told me she didn’t do Valentine’s day so what’s a guy to do right.  Find that chick from the pizza shop, I’m pretty sure I got us free slices for at least the next couple months.  And then get back to the building and get ambushed by a young lady who shall remain nameless. Best ambush ever ps.”

“If it was Ryan you and I are going to fight” Jade said moving to a different stretch.

“No not Ryan, I believe she was off explaining to my brother why you shouldn’t date me in girl form.”

“Right.  It’s so weird.”

“You guys are nothing alike.  She is awful and I genuinely like you.”

“That’s cus you are my friend.  You chose me over her.  Did you think she was awful prior to me and her breaking up?”

“I don’t know… I mean…”

“You didn’t, neither did I.  …Cus honestly she turned out to be the…” Jade looked up confused as he started singing

“…Best thing I never had…” Ford joined in harmonizing with him.  Jade laughed as they continued to sing the song.

“I tell you Karma is a comedian.  And I can feel a real funny ass joke coming her way.” Lee said as they settled down a bit.  “But both of my side chicks knew I was sort of kinda dating Tibet.  And they both literally verbatim said ‘then where is she?’ to which I replied fair point so let’s go find out what your lip gloss taste like.  The pizza shop chick actually started singing lip gloss by Lil mama.  I damn near fell in love.”

“Yeah that’s the some deep intense love there buddy.  You can’t even remember her name.”

“Sahara.  But the point is I don’t have to. She didn’t ask anything of me before she was willing to give me her.   She doesn’t know anything about me but what I look like and that I go to school up here.”

“Well maybe she is trying to get pregnant by a guy like you so she can change her station in life. Did you ever think of that?”

“Station in life?  Go outside and look around sweetheart.  There are no tracks that run through this town.”

“Meaning?”

“There is no bad side of it.  God forbid a lower middle class couple moves in to the neighborhood.  The town pushes the lynch mob button. But she is a smart girl who works to save for college I doubt she would want to railroad those plans with a potential pregnancy to a kid who may not want kids and could freak and drag her to a clinic or hell push her down the steps.  Plus this is not the town for stupid pregnancies.  There are too many men who are too powerful to have babies by accident.   Like I’m not sure everything that goes into it but there aren’t that many women in this town who could carry a baby of mine or his to term.  You happen to be one of them.  But never fear my dear, he would literally kill me if you turned up with a brown little boy with gray eyes.”

“While that is good to know, none of that explains why the song is a lie?”

“Because real g’s move in silence like lasagna.”

“Really little Wayne?” Ford asked.

“Shut up you know the quote. But what I am saying, when you all actually ran the world Madams controlled the underworld and wives controlled the White House. Tell me two things you know that either Mrs. Bush did. Don’t worry I’ll wait.  Mrs. Obama has a nice side project but if she had the kind of power that women used to have her husband would be skating by on some we aren’t really racist cover up.  Oprah has you all fooled.  Yeah, she says jump and half the audience lands in a new car, but she is the exception not the rule.  There are more female valedictorians every year in this country than males but you won’t see me shaking my ass in a Walmart.  You guys gave up your power a long time ago, when you forgot coy kept him on the hook and quick moves him on to the next.  So that is why that song is a lie.  Cus you all forgot that playing dumb was just that play.  So who run the world?  I will” Jade sat down flat looking dumbfounded as Lee and Ford started doing laps.

Run the World by Beyonce

Manny L. Birch (author)

The Jump off.

I know I’ve been a little absentee lately but i have had good reason.  I’ve been pretty busy. Trying to keep up with life and trying to produce new content at a rate that keeps my editor happy.  Plus fixing all those pesky errors and minor details that were running loose.  lol.  Well here is another sneak peak of Pandemonium Justified. Enjoy. 

XIV. Monster

            We ended up at a nice Mexican restaurant a couple miles away from the school.  Dinner was much more subdued than a normal Barter family dinner.  I think Jay was trying to avoid being alone with Vincenzo.  Jayson seemed to have decided the only person he would talk to was Aria.  Brian was happily in his own personal bubble enjoying one of his last high school victories,  and Lee was smiling and playful, but he would just stop and stare at Jayson until Jayson made eye contact then smile and go back to what he was doing.  He would only ever hold contact long enough for Jayson to acknowledge it.  The only one who really noticed the exchange, Tommy, would chuckle ever time Lee did it.  Jay paid for everyone and we left to go back to the school.  Lee almost demanded that the ‘kids’ get to ride back together.  Jay and Steve both looked apprehensively at Lee. 

            “Why does it matter Johnny?” Steve asked, “We are all going the same place.”   Lee looked at Jayson and smiled as he answered.

            “I just want to spend some time with these guys.  We have all never gotten to chill.  Brian is going to be gone in a few months and you already told Jayson that he has to start learning to control some of the Cupid abilities he has.  The four of us will need each other for support,” Lee said, finally looking over at his father.  “Do you guys not want to ride in a car with each other?  Are you fighting over some new woman?”

            “Johnny!”

            “Yes father?” he asked sweetly, never losing his smile. 

            “Johnny, what are you doing?” Steve asked pleadingly.

            “It doesn’t matter what he is doing.  Tommy, get your trouble-making ass in the car.  We have an early flight tomorrow and the airport is the opposite direction from the school; I am not driving all the way out there to pick you up to turn around and go to the airport at six in the morning.  So say goodnight to these guys and you will see them all in June when school is out,” Paolo said coming up between Jay and Steve.

            “Dad!” Tommy whined but walked over to the rental car his mother was waiting at.  Nicky and Brian started walking towards Brian’s car. 

            “Why are you still standing here?  Go get in the car.”  Lee made a face like he was about to say something.  “Save that thought, Johnny, and text it to me when you get in the car.”  Paolo waited until both boys started walking to Brian’s car before rounding on Jay and Steve.  “And you two idiots,” he barked at Jay and his brother, “this shit is only going to get worse.  Whatever went down between you happened, you’re grown men, move on.”

“Johnny is a performer.  That apparently includes when he dispenses justice.  Stefan, figure out why your son is pissed at you and fix it.  Jay, the fact that you have been avoiding having a conversation with my father lets me know you know why he is mad at you.  Fix it.  But for future reference boys, if you take away the damn audience the performer will leave.  If you ever see him and Tommy standing around smiling like fat kids at a cake shop, separate them.  I really hope the pair of you do not fuck up my boys in the process of letting yours fight your battles.”

Just then the text message alarm sounded on his cell phone.  He pulled it out of his pocket, read the message shook his head, pushed a couple buttons on his phone and then put it back into his pocket.  Mine, Jay’s and Steve’s phones all sounded almost simultaneously.  I opened my phone and saw that Paolo had forwarded the message to me. 

            ‘FWD: Johnny:  Uncle P, I perform just as well digitally.  And justice doesn’t need a witness, just someone to dispense it.  And I’ve got a couple back order cans of whoop ass that I need to deliver.’ 

            “They can hear us?” Jay asked as he finished reading the text.  He started to put his phone away when he got another message. 

            ‘Robin JLB: YELLING in empty parking lots tends to carry. + 4 telepaths in a car with an Empath equals Bose level speakers.’

            “They heard us out loud and he read your mind,” Jay said gesturing at Paolo.  Then there were two more text messages, both to Paolo’s phone.  

            ‘Cake: Paolo you have the damn car keys.  And it’s freezing.  Call them on the phone when we get to the hotel.  Let’s go.’

            ‘Johnny: No I didn’t read his mind.  I made two of the most powerful men in the world dance tonight.  I’m still riding that wave.  But it’s almost curfew time for us so thanks for coming Uncle P.’ 

            Paolo looked up from his phone, gave them wide eyes and just walked away.  Brian started the car and drove off. 

            I got a message at five-something the next morning from Paolo. 

            ‘Paolo: 1of2 James, I didn’t sleep much tonight thinking about what happened.  My brother tried to call me twice but I’m not ready to talk to him about it yet.  I learned a lot about my nephew last night and I am not happy with any of it.  One of my abilities is to be able to assess relationships.  Johnny is mad at my brother for something old that is new again.  If you know what it is, help them please.  I don’t want to say this because they are brothers but, I fear Johnny and Jayson’s bond is broken.  Jayson is hurt deep down.  He almost has to hate Johnny to feel good about himself.  But Johnny wants to love him so bad that it hurts him not to be able to.  When Johnny gets hurt, he doesn’t like to hurt alone.’ 

            ‘Paolo: 2 of2 He is going to lash out very soon.  Be mindful of him in the next few days.  He is power drunk right now.  His decisions might not be the best right now, especially concerning enemies.  I know he was getting bullied earlier in the year.  I know you guys have that challenge thing from the brochure, make him do that.  Make him make it formal.  Those kids may not live if there is no ref.  I am going to forward what he sent me last night before they left so you can see what I mean.’  

As I went to open up the text, I felt that now familiar pull of a Jump.  I tried to fight this one but it was as if someone were pulling me. 

            “They said someone saw him last night,” the man said frantically as he ran into his bedroom to start packing. 

            “What?  Who?  Why are you packing?” his roommate said as he came into the room to question his friend.  “Stop!  Randy, stop.  What the hell are you talking about?  Who saw who last night?”

            “The patrol Luka set up.  They saw Him last night.  God, I wish they had put out the alert right away.  We could have gotten a decent head start,” Randy said, throwing clothes into his duffel.

            “Who’s him?”  Randy looked up at him skeptically.

            “What do you mean, ‘who’s him?’  Him Him, stupid.  Who is everyone afraid of?”

            “You mean Wr-”

            “Don’t say his name.  I heard that he ca-”

            “He’s not fucking Voldemort.  He is not the goddamned Candyman or Bloody Mary.  Saying his name does not summon him to you.  I knew him and-”

Randy froze, eyes locked on a point behind his roommate’s shoulder. 

            “Hey Randy.  How ya doing?  That good huh?”  The new speaker walked up and touched Randy’s roommate on the shoulder.  “Hey Hootie.  Long time, no see.  I’m sure you’ve got tons of questions for me.  And I plan to answer a few of them right now.  Okay.  How did I find you?  The Yellow Pages; you are the only idiots trying to hide from someone who registers their phone number and address.  No, I am not Voldemort.  He needed Horcruxes to stay alive.  What a pussy.”  The man laughed at his own joke. 

“Why didn’t Luka warn you earlier?  I told him I came for you, Randy.  And that everyone else could live if he told you with enough time for you pack a bag so we could go when we are finished here.  Umm… other questions, what about your roommate?  He is going to die today.  Either I am going to kill him or you are.”  He held up a hand before Randy could protest. “I came to collect you alive.  I don’t need or want him alive.  But I also don’t need you whole.  I can turn you into little more than a battery.  So, before you say ‘no I won’t kill my friend’, just remember he is going to die anyway.  It doesn’t help you to cut off your nose to spite your face.”

            “Please sir-” Randy started.

            “Don’t call him si-” Hootie gagged as Wrath cut off his air supply. 

            “See, everyone always compares me to Voldemort and Bloody Mary but I honestly prefer Apollo.  He and I have a lot more in common,” Wrath stated simply. 

            “Sir, why are you making me choose?  Why do you want me to do it?”

            “Short answer: because I can.  Medium answer: I’m shopping for a new head henchman and your name came up.  Long answer: my fatal flaw is that I hold grudges.  The person who gave him that scar,” Wrath said pointing at the burn scar that nearly bisected the right side of Hootie’s face, “…he was very important to me and this man, your friend, caused the death of that man and a lot of other people I care about.”  Hootie struggled, shaking his head and trying to communicate with his friend.

            “Who gave you my name?  Why would you want me?”

            “Are you accepting the job offer?” Wrath countered.  Randy walked into the kitchen and came back holding a long serrated knife.  He walked straight up to Hootie and drove the knife into his chest.  

            “When do I start?”  Wrath gave a small chuckle. 

            “Better to reign in hell, huh?  Take your bag to the car downstairs, the driver will give you your first assignment and the answers to a few more questions.  Now go, I have a few things I need to do here.”  Randy rubbed his bloody hands on Hootie’s shirt, picked up his bag and walked out the door.  

Wrath turned back to Hootie’s slowly dying form.  “You poor idiot, did you really think you would live after pissing off a guy named Wrath?  Really?”  Wrath stared at him, waiting for the idiocy of that thought blossom on his face.   

“But I must say thank you for Randy.  I wanted you to find him for me.  I figured if anyone could find him, it would be a traitorous son of a bitch like you.  Did you know I’ve had a signature lock on you since high school?  I could have found you anywhere in the world any time I wanted.  I’m not even sure dying will cure you of the lock, but I guess we will find out soon enough.”  Wrath chuckled slightly and shook his head.  “I know I’m monologuing at you right now but damn, I’ve waited so long for this.  But again, thanks for giving him to me, they were shielding him.  But he is mine now.  I might give Luka to Lust, she’s been asking for a new toy.  And as for you…”  He turned to the corner of the room where I thought I stood invisibly.  “Are you going to keep following me around?  Because it’s annoyingly tedious to have to keep erasing your memory.  They were afraid of a king, instead they created a god.  And vengeance is most definitely mine.  Now go back, James.  I think I’ll let you remember the scar.”

            “Wait!”

            “Ahh, he speaks.  You’re learning how to drive this bus, finally.  What am I waiting for James?”

            “Who are you?  Why do you know me?  Why do I keep following you?”  Wrath smiled. 

            “You really can’t see the details of my face can you?  I didn’t think I could affect someone as powerful as you without trying.  I’ll have to remember that.  But I am Wrath, James.  That is not the name I was given but the name I chose because that is all they left me to show the world.  The man I was died a long time ago.  This asshole helped kill him.   He helped kill people he knew for money and a clean passport.  That is why he isn’t dead yet.”  I looked back over to Hootie and saw he was in fact still alive with the knife sticking out of chest.  “I can keep him like this for as long as I want.  Or I can heal him up a bit and erase his memory of us and do this all over again every day for the next two months.  Oh wait, I did that; two months ago.”  

Wrath giggled to himself.  His drastic swings in mood were getting scary to witness.  “I call him ‘Hootie’ because of the way he screams right before I pull the knife out.  It’s a hoot,” Wrath said laughing at his own joke, until his face sobered into a sneer.  “Should we tell him your real name?  Or do we let him go back to his time still thinking Hootie was the sad little man that didn’t know when he should just stop breathing?”  Hootie struggled against his bindings.  Wrath cracked a small smile.  “No names you say?  Just ‘sad little man with the hand of a god burned into his cheek’; you don’t deserve to have breathed his air.”  The very air around Wrath began to ripple with energy.  “James, go before I do something unpleasant.  And remember the man with the hand shaped scar.”

Progress Update

So last week I ran into all sorts of problems while working on Pandemonium Justified.  It was a bit of a blessing wrapped in a dirty diaper.  I came to an unexpected place in my plot that is still causing me problems about how to move forward.  Now that was the dirty diaper and I am still working out how to clean said diaper but the blessing was finding out about all the legal ramifications of have your main character actually Sing lyrics from actual songs. That prompted a small (read glasses tossing, hair pulling cinnabon craving) melt down.But as I get a little more removed from the problem and think more about the solution Problem B because a little easier to manage.  I realize that the Big Scary of writing full catchy songs is like the Monster at the end of the ‘Fear Itself’ episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.  Meaning the thought of it is way scarier than the physical.  I don’t need to create full scale songs.  Just enough for a quote and to use it as source material.  Since I’m not performing any of these songs the melody doesnt even matter.  What does matter is me getting these ideas written down so that i can move on with them and have a collection of them for me to pull from.  Just having a record that these ideas came from me is the most important thing for me because it allows me to ‘step on’ the monster that iscausing me this weeks problems and move on to the Big Bad of plot issues.  So currently, I am just editing and working on songs and trying to focus on getting The MisEducation to the widest audience possible.  Got some great information about selling in Indie Book Stores as well as working my way into the major retailers like Barnes and Nobles. Go Team  I am going to post all of my current song portions soon.