Chapter Thirteen: Moving On

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

But super necessary.

So it’s be TWO FREAKING YEARS since publishing my last post on this blog. Why is that? Did I forget all of you? Move on to greener pastures? Go pirating?

The answer to all of those questions, and more, is a resounding “maybe.”

The truth is that I have been crazy busy. Since starting the blog, I signed a publishing deal with an amazing group called California Coldblood Books. I’ve been a Section Editor for CC2KOnline for 4 years now. I’ve written two award winning short films. And, most importantly, I got married to my best friend.

It’s a lot to do while still keeping up with a weekly blog, which is why I failed.

But fear not! You can see all the Adam Korenman you want at my NEW WEBSITE!

I am seriously proud of how it turned out. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Plus, I update it WAY more regularly.

 

ADAM KORENMAN DOT COM!

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Chapter Twelve: The Sophomore Approach

So you’ve written a book. Now what?

After publishing “When the Stars Fade,” I found myself starting a familiar habit: procrastination. After all, I had just labored intensely to put out a full-length novel. I had coordinated the cover-art, marketing and distribution across multiple channels, all without the help of a traditional publisher. 

And, after all of that, I had no idea what to do next. 

Obviously, I needed to write the next book. I had momentum coming off the first title, and that added push could help propel through the intense creative process, shortening the gestation period by a huge factor. 

Write, I did not. 

Instead, I studied my sales reports, focused on anything else, and let the book gather dust. It was, in every sense, the wrong approach. 

When I finally returned to the universe to create more, I found my skills had dulled from lack of use. Like anything, writing takes practice and grows stronger with application. The months off, few though they may have been, left me struggling to put words back down on paper. 

Looking back, I regret not moving into the next book immediately. The lost time, and momentum, can never be replaced. More than that, I second-guess my decisions in this new draft and constantly recheck the first book to ensure I’m staying true to the tone and character of the original. I wouldn’t have those issues if I had just moved directly into the sophomore story. 

So what does this come back to? WRITE ALL THE TIME. 

Every author and screenwriter worth their salt will tell you the same. You need to be writing every minute of every day. You need to collect your thoughts in a journal or diary and follow-through with everything. You never know which idea is going to strike gold, so don’t discount those crazy threads. Tug on the and see what is on the other side. 

More than that, you need to treat writing as a career if you ever hope to have a career in writing. There is no better way to improve at a task than by doing said task.

Here’s an exercise for you. Go out and buy a journal. It’s six bucks, you can live without than mocha-frappe-latte-extra-foam-no-crack. Buy a nice pen and keep the two together, and on you, at all times. Keep the journal by the bed at night and take it to work every day. Every single thought that pops into your head (and by “thought,” I mean story idea), WRITE THAT SHIT DOWN. 

At the end of a week, look at the journal. How many ideas are in there? Now go through and sort. How many are good?

IT’S A TRICK QUESTION! THEY ARE ALL GOOD. 

Now, take any idea that interests you can write a one-page synopsis of the story. It will take some doing, but force it out. Now take one of the ideas you think is absolute garbage. Write the one-sheet. 

How do they look now?

I promise you will be surprised at what is able to come out of your head, but more importantly, you will be writing. Even just capturing your thoughts is enough. 

Learn from my mistakes, people. Now go write something. 

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Chapter Eleven: Arrival

WTSF_FrontCoverOnly

IT’S HERE!

After ten years of writing, a year of editing, and enough stress to make me go bald all over again, it is finally here.

I have published my novel “When the Stars Fade.”

First and foremost, I should acknowledge that I am self-publishing, a route which may cause some concern. The truth it, after a year of reaching out to publishers and agents, I was really burned on the experience. Considering how many authors are having success with the solo option, I opted to forgo the usual path.

And it has been great.

Sales are picking up on Amazon, reviews are coming in, and I am overwhelmed by the support of the ever-growing writer community.

I’m allowing everyone to download the first three chapters free from my website. Click here and grab yours now!

And, if you would like, you can purchase it from Amazon as well.

Most importantly, if you have any questions about the self-publishing game or any of the trials and tribulations I’ve been through, just ask.

Next up for this blog…the sequel!

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Chapter Ten: Nobody’s Perfect

I am walking away from the manuscript. 

It’s taken roughly a year from decision to this point, but I am much closer to publishing now than I ever was before. “The Gray Wars” has been a passion project since I was in high school, a little nugget of unbridled imagination that tumbled about in my head from time to time. In a few months, with a lot of luck, it will be picked up and turned into a novel. 

I know precious little about the publishing process. Everything I think I know comes from reading forums online or books written about writing books. It’s all very meta. What I have garnered is one bit of advice that I wish to share now. 

Your story will never be perfect. 

Look at any award winning story, be it film, TV or literature. There are plenty of plot holes, slow chapters and typos floating freely in the otherwise captivating words. Those authors found themselves at a point where the manuscript was unable to be made better by more work. Think of it like a house. Sure, you can keep hitting it with a hammer, but it’s not going to get any more built. 

Writing the book has been an incredible experience, and one I look forward to repeating soon. I have two more novels set in this universe already, and I just started brainstorming a new series yesterday. At the same time, it has been a rough education. I did not know just how hard this process would be, especially when it came to editing and rewriting. When you’ve had a scene in your head a certain way for so many years, it kind of hurts to let it play out a different way. 

But the story is made better by those changes, and that is the most important thing. 

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Non Seq: Dark Wings, Dark Words

The past two weeks have been an incredible challenge for me; one for which I was not prepared.

Like each and every one of you out there, I watched–or in my case, read–the horrific events unfolding in Newtown, Connecticut with barely suppressed anger. I wondered aloud what kind of monster would commit such an act, do something that so truly defines “heinous?” In fact, until this day, I’d never been able to truly commit the word to an event.

That may seem a shock to some, that a man as verbose as I would lack the necessary models to describe each and every potent word. On 9/11, I learned the meaning of “atrocity.” Shortly thereafter, when a family I knew was murdered by a suicide bomber while eating in a restaurant, I learned the meaning of “evil.” But a young man, one who was clearly troubled, entering an elementary school and committing mass murder…it wrecks my mind.

But what truly turned my stomach, aside from the incident itself, was the parade of commentators that followed. The talking-heads of the Media allowed a very short amount of time for the families to grieve before stepping forward to tell us all how WE are responsible for the horror that befell the small Connecticut town.

Make no mistake, I do not pretend to know the inner workings of the mind of Adam Lanza. I am no doctor, I have never dealt first-hand with someone suffering from this level of mental disturbance, and I cannot fathom the anguish suffered by the parents and loved-ones of those victims. I can, however, express MY disgust at the follow-on discussion that has littered the newspapers and twitterverse.

Politicians and pundits saying that WE are the blame for taking religion out of schools. Those on the left shouting that America “is a culture of murder and guns, full of rednecks too dumb to let go of the Second Amendment.” Those on the right screaming, “If a teacher had a gun, this whole thing would have ended sooner. The video games and movies are to blame!”

These arguments upset me, and not just because they come across as childish and ignorant. Both sides (and by that, I mean political sides, because that is how the “unbiased media” represents itself nowadays) play a game of pointing fingers and looking for scapegoats when the real issue is immensely more complex. This is not simply an issue of guns in our society, or even of mental illness in our country. There are hundreds of factors that led to the Newtown Massacre, more than we will ever truly realize. To understand evil of this magnitude is not even possible for most Americans (by that, I mean your mind cannot fathom the gross perversion of the disturbed mind).

But these petty squabbles also served to label many Americans, including me, as potential murderers. I saw the same thing during the Aurora shootings, and as far back as Columbine. Are all people who own guns one step away from murder? Are all video gamers imbalanced sociopaths?

I was raised in Texas, which has become synonymous with saying I was raised in a gun-culture. It’s true, my family had (and still has) a large collection of firearms. I was trained early on to recognize a weapon and, most importantly, to treat it with respect. All guns are to be assumed loaded and unsafe until an ADULT proves otherwise. Now, at 27, I still look at every pistol and rifle with caution.

I am also a child raised on media, from movie to video games. I’ve seen Tarantino films and played “Grand Theft Auto.” I’ve listened to rap music and eaten pizza after midnight. Amazingly, despite all the telltale signs that I should be a mass-murderer (according to the news), I am a well-adjusted adult who serves in the National Guard, pays taxes and bills on time, and maintains a healthy and vibrant social circle. In fact, I still consider myself an avid gamer, but am able to hold down a full-time job and do not neglect loved ones.

How can the media paint an ever-growing portion of the global population with such a broad swath? It is unprofessional at the very least, incompetent in my opinion, and a poor excuse for journalism.

Let’s start with the most basic issue: Does a video game make someone more violent? LTC David Grossman, author of the bestseller “On Killing,” would say yes. Despite my respect for David’s incredible research into the psychology of killing, I have to disagree. I would counter that video games desensitize someone to violence, which in turns enables them to kill more easily.

There is a crucial difference. David states that the “universal human phobia” is person-on-person violence, i.e. humans are naturally opposed to killing one another. Think about it. Any time you heard of someone being murdered, didn’t it strike you as being just plain wrong? Wasn’t Newtown somehow unfathomable?

Video games, like military simulations (of which I am intimately familiar), often put the player in the driver’s seat for an intense combat experience. Games such as “Modern Warfare” are as gritty and violent as any R-rated movie, and have an incredible effect of the young and undeveloped mind. Countless studies have proven that video games can make young children more violent, in the same way that action movies can make kids act out violent scenes.

But the solution isn’t to ban or censor these video games, or these movies. The solution is for parents not to use video games and movies as babysitters. These games have ratings, just like movies, and children under 18 are NOT ALLOWED to buy them without a parent present.

If you, as a parent, would not allow your child to watch “Black Hawk Down” or “Zombie Chainsaw Sexcapades 12,” the don’t buy them “Resident Evil” or “Modern Warfare” or “Dead Space.” If you are so busy that you cannot take the time to monitor what your children are doing, you need to REFOCUS.

Now, before you comment angrily, allow me to qualify. I am not a parent. I have never had to work two jobs to support a family. However, I grew up in a home where both parents worked long hours. Nonetheless, I was supervised and guided at all times. No infraction when unnoticed or uncorrected. I thank my parents for implementing such control over me, as it allowed me to grow into a mature and focused adult. If all I’d had growing up were cartoons and video games, I would have turned out much different.

And what about the gun issue? Do guns create crime? I can’t say I’m an expert on the subject, but let me take a look at my own life. I grew up in a household where the guns outnumbered the people 2:1. My neighbors had guns, friends’ families had guns, and even qualified for a Concealed Carry License when I was old enough. Do you know how many of my friends committed gun-crimes?

None.

But how many committed violent assaults?

None.

And I don’t credit the laws imposed by our politicians, or the work of the police (great though they may be). I credit the parents and teachers who taught me and my friends to be good people. I credit my father for instilling  a sense of right and wrong, and my rabbi for teaching me about good and evil.

On every radio station I’ve heard the same argument against gun control: Drunk drivers kill far more children than mass-murderers. Why don’t we confiscate cars?

First, if you ever make this argument, you are fundamentally wrong in the head.

Adam Lanza would not have been able to sneak an SUV into a school and run over 20 children. If you don’t see the difference between vehicular manslaughter and a firearm, then please stop breeding.

We regulate the hell out of our vehicles. People are required to update their licenses regularly, wear corrective lenses, obey highly restrictive laws for travel and parking, and all of it is monitored by the police and traffic enforcement. Guns are regulated as well, with background checks and carry laws. But let’s be honest, they are WAY too easy to procure.

Someone close to me owns an assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine. All of this was purchased legally, and they passed an extensive background check. They keep the weapon locked and unloaded in a heavy safe. It is insanely fun to shoot. That said, why is this something people need to buy?

Now, before I alienate my friends and family, let me remind you that I am an officer with the National Guard.

The AR 15 (civilian model of the M16, and the weapon used in Newtown) is an assault rifle. It is sold as a “hunting rifle,” but that is just nonsense. Most hunters want a rifle with more punch than a .22 or 5.56 (the caliber of the AR-15). Moreover, a hunter who needs 31 rounds to bring down a buck needs a new hobby. Or glasses.

The M16 is a combat rifle designed to engage targets at ranges of 50-300 meters. It is precise, reliable, and has NO PLACE in hunting.

Nor, I should say, is it appropriate for home defense. It is designed to hit targets at range. In home defense, a pistol or shotgun is more appropriate.

So people say that the AR-15 is designed for that final intent of the Second Amendment: fighting against Tyranny. To be honest, I have no argument against that. If you are stocking up on assault weapons in the off chance that America descends into “Mad Max” style chaos, then you have chosen the correct weapon. But please, be honest when I ask why you have that particular rifle. Don’t bullshit a bullshitter.

Now I don’t want to get into an argument about religion or politics or any of that craziness. I would appreciate it if everyone stopped listening to the news networks as though they were gospel and actually hunted down facts themselves. Statistics are manipulated all too often, and we are just lazy enough to have the wool gently pulled over our eyes.

Above all else, let’s stop having this tired debate and think about the victims of this senseless crime. Give them their peace and leave them be. There needs to be a rational discussion in this country regarding gun control, because a family with a mentally disturbed child should have SOME  restrictions for purchasing firearms, just as convicts are restricted from the same.

And we need to address the horrific state of mental health services in this country. For an excellent reference, look up Liza Long’s well-written blog on the subject.

As I said at the beginning, I am no expert. In fact, all of my arguments can and should be regarded as nothing more than opinion. If you look at any other post in this blog, it is clear that I am not trying to get into deep philosophical debate.

I’m just another American tired of feeling apprehensive when I turn on the news. I’m tired of hearing about lives cut short. And, most of all, I’m tired of being trying to pass the blame. Haven’t we argued enough? Can’t we just sit down and figure out what to do next?

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Chapter Nine: Turning the Next Page

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. 

As a wise man once told me, “When you finish one project, you need to jump on the next one.

I will be putting down a new project, known as “Samaritan” until I can think of a better title. It will be a post-apocalyptic version of a hero’s journey. I can’t give away too many details, but it will be posted here once it is done. 

If any of you out there are planning to write as well, let me know. I’ve done something like this before, but with a better timeline. This is going to be a challenge, and it helps to have support. 

Let me know how I can assist, and be prepared to offer that in return. 

 

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Chapter Eight: Pushing Through the Wall

I’ve been dealing with some writer’s block lately. 

It all stems from not having a creative outlet into which I pour my thoughts. While working on TGW, I had a whole universe to explore and discover. While working on the short, I managed to tell a unique part of the story in a fun and new way. 

But now I find myself sitting in front of the computer, idly tapping at the keys and hoping something fun comes out. I’ve been here before, unable to summon that spark of talent that dwells deep within. Thankfully, I’m not worried about staying in this stage too long. 

When I was in college, I spent many days staring blankly at my computer, hoping something would magically manifest from my brain onto the page. A large amount of my term papers was written overnight in a single stream of consciousness. It’s not really the healthiest way to stay ahead in school, but sometimes that’s the only way to keep the words flowing. 

When embarking on a creative endeavor, things are a little more complicated. Free writing is a great way to break out of a slump, but isn’t the write answer for everyone. I, for one, prefer to doodle scenes and flesh out the visual aspect of my stories whenever I find myself in a bind. It helps me see the piece from new angles. 

What helps you break through the wall? Share your own methods, and feel free to ask me anything. 

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