Blog Train: This Ain’t The Hogwart’s Express

Courtesy of Lionel via

As you see from my scant recent musings, blogging hasn’t exactly been at the top of my “to-do’s” lately. I like to blog, though—really, I do. It affords the opportunity to share my opinions, talk about my interests, hone my craft—you know, write when I don’t really have much to say—but as you also know, it’s quite time-consuming. I’ve simply had too many other boats in the water, if you will, and have had to make some sacrifices to stay afloat. I’ve cut blogging back to about once a month, but truthfully, I miss it. I miss you folks.

So when my good buddy, Gus Sanchez, asked if I would hop aboard the Blog Train, even though I’d pretty much quit with the hops, I gladly bought an E-ticket just to get back into the swing of things. If you’ve not been to Gus’s site, you’ve been missing out. That guy is truly an undiscovered master of the craft, and I look forward to the day I see his name atop the bestseller list if not just to say, “Hey Gus, can I borrow a few bucks?” Follow the link to his blog and get to know this man. You won’t be sorry.

And now, for the questions:

What are you working on now?

I’m a persnickety writer. I’ll start something, get a good ten thousand words into it and say, “Meh…what was I thinking?” I never scrap anything, though. Instead, I stick it with all the other IN PROGRESS pieces and start something shiny and new. So right now, my last WIP, “When Panda Smiled,” is on hold. It’s a delightful story, don’t get me wrong, but has some snags that will take some time to work through.

Mock Cover, "Caregiver"
Mock Cover, “Caregiver”

Meanwhile, an excitingly different idea came along that really has me juiced. It’s a suspense piece, a genre in which I’ve never dabbled, but man, has it been fun plotting and outlining. Drawing from my experience as a caregiver, its working title is “Caregiver,” and tells the story of a son taking care of his mother, but that’s where the similarities end. In a shocking turn of events, we find the man isn’t exactly who he appears to be. If all turns out as planned, the reader will be in for the ride of their life. That’s enough about that…don’t want to give too much away…but it will make for a nice debut novel.

And, as always, I’ve been working on short stories and articles for submission to various publications, waiting for word that something has been published.

How does your work differ from others of the genre?

Seeing as though I don’t allow myself to be pigeon-holed into a specific genre, that’s exactly how it differs. I write the stories that come to me, plain and simple. If, let’s say, “Caregiver” were to be my first published piece, and if, let’s continue with that dream, it were a smashing success, and if the novel that followed were a family drama such as “When Panda Smiled” and my editor or whomever said, “We want another suspense,” well, they’d be on the edge of their seats until the drama publishes unless another suspense story cropped up. The waiting would be their desired suspense. I simply can’t write what doesn’t come to me. I’m not formulaic.

Why do I write what I do?

Because the stories won’t leave me alone until I do. They haunt me. “Let me out.” And little by little, even over the course of years, I unfasten the many locks of the gate until they’re free.

How does your writing process work?

Process? Ha! Other than swigging boatloads of coffee and smoking a warehouse of cigarettes, I don’t have one. Well, I guess I do. I get an idea. Usually with that idea comes many possibilities. I toss aside my first thought. I toss my second. I toss my third, fourth, and fifth. It’s with the sixth or seventh possibility the story can travel that I dig into the page.

Why do I do that? To be different. I figure, if the storyline is one of my first ideas, then it’s too predictable…too commonplace—anybody can and probably will write it or something similar. Working on an obscure aspect of the main idea almost guarantees originality. So I follow that path in my storytelling. Always. And it usually makes for good story.

Now for the others who are boarding the Blog Train, and will post their answers on their blogs next Monday, June 23. I’m supposed to tag three, but like I said, my blogging has been atrocious lately. I asked over a dozen people, however, all had already taken a ride a few weeks ago! But one guy, Rus VanWestervelt, missed the train (thank goodness!) and has gladly agreed to hop aboard.

If you haven’t heard of Rus, he’s an English teacher from Baltimore and one of the finest “LifeStory Architects” around, receiving his MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. One of his latest posts, “To Holland: When Daffodils Bloom,” showcases his strengths in both creative nonfiction (memoir) and creative writing (poetry). I never say, “This is someone you need to know” unless it’s true. Get to know this guy. Period.




ML Swift is a writer of Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult fiction, although he dabbles in many genres.

An Alzheimer’s caregiver for the past ten years, he has published several articles on The Alzheimer’s Reading Room, the largest online website catering to that community, and plans to write a novel about his experience in caregiving.

He resides in Florida with his dogs, Rameses and Buster, attempting to reclaim his side of the bed.


24 thoughts on “Blog Train: This Ain’t The Hogwart’s Express

    1. Well, I do want to pigeon-hole myself as a writer, just not a writer of a specific genre. My ideas don’t flow that consistently. Thanks for commenting, Alex!

  1. Well, there you are. I figured you’d been tucked away with some new idea and I was right. Here’s to your finishing The Caregiver and sending it out into the world. In the meantime, thanks for introducing me to some bloggers I didn’t know. I’ll stop by, say you sent me and become acquainted. Happy Hogwarts.

    1. Hey Lee,

      Yes…it’s a self-imposed retreat into my gopher hole until I finish up a few things, writerly and non-writerly. Of course, I pop my head out like most gophers every now and then. Good to see you! 🙂

  2. Going to check out the people you’ve linked.

    You’re fun to read on your blog. I’m certain you’ll be fun to read in a non-blog format too.

  3. Caregiver sounds like a really interesting idea! I’m the same with genre – the same one doesn’t come out of my head twice. It makes it interesting, for me, if nothing else!

  4. Hey Michael,

    A caregiver and you also give a care in your writing.This comes across in the ambience of your writing. I for one do not want you haunted by your writing ideas. Yep, let em’ out dude and keep going.

    Gary 🙂

    1. Oooo…Gary…that brought up a good storyline. A writer who is literally haunted by his ideas. Hmm…seriously. I may jot a few thoughts concerning that and file it away. Thanks! 😀

  5. I like the idea of going with the sixth or seventh possibility of a storyline for originality sake. I’ll have to take that into consideration the next time an idea hits me and I run with it immediately, only to find out 10,000 words into the story it’s too predictable. Thanks for the unintentional tip, Mike.

    And as usual, it’s alway great to learn more and more tidbits about you my friend. Nice insider view of you.

    1. I developed that little trick when participating in prompt writing, Dee. A hundred or so people would write on the same prompt, and you’d see so many similar takes on it, they got boring. I would have similar first, second, and third ideas, but realized they were too banal. So I never went with them. The unique spins I’d take made all the difference. 🙂

  6. I am like a big, blogging loser lately. I haven’t written much of anything, blog or otherwise. I wrote a post for She Writes tonight and to quote myself (is that gauche?): Life is huffing and puffing at my door and threatening to blow it right off its hinges. Or something like that.


    This was very fun to read. I love how you keep writing at ideas that ignite your imagination. All your stories always sound so good to me. Now here’s my directive: Finish one, dammit. I want an acknowledgment. I want to say I know you. I want to live vicariously through your fame.

    Seriously– You have a book in you. I’ve known this since back in the WD days. Can’t wait for the one that fully blooms.

    1. I know…FINISH something! LOL. Dang, I can be so temperamental. But, I will. And soon…very soon.

      Jules, we’ve both had a lot on our plates and have still weathered through. We’re still here. I think that says a great deal for your resolve (and mine). It shows how bad we want it. As for the blogging…well, for me, it’s the dessert of writing. I love to indulge, but realize I have to curb it sometimes for the sake of more “nutritious” writing to develop the body I want.

      You won’t have to live vicariously through my fame…we’re on this road together and you’ll be the Gert to my Ernie. 🙂 I seriously wouldn’t have come this far without your encouragement.

  7. Oh wow, Caregiver sounds amazing!! As I was reading that paragraph I got more and more excited. That’s one I will definitely read when (not if :D) you publish it!

    I haven’t been blogging much since the April A-Z and have definitely missed it. I love being part of this community and it’s always great to jump back in and catch up with everyone.

    Take care and happy writing, Michael.

    1. Julie, how did I miss your comment? I just saw an “odd” number of them (and I thought it should be even), so I scrolled down and here you were. Sorry. 🙂

      Yes, “Caregiver” (subject to change) is going to be real nice…if I can get all the logistics worked out. Thanks for coming over, and it’s good to see you!

  8. I suppose you don’t need me telling you I wish you wouldn’t smoke? I know, I’m a nag. My dad always said I’d one day make some wonderful man perfectly miserable with my “concerns”.

    Blogging is so very time consuming, yet I too love it and just try to do it when I can.

    1. I know, I know…it’s a thorn in my side that I’ve had a devil of a time pulling out! But if it weren’t for concerned women like you, we men wouldn’t have made it past the stone age.

      I stopped by your place last week or so…you were on vacation. Hope you had a great time! Good to see you, Elizabeth.

  9. Swift, you have such heart! If I enjoy your blog posts this much, I can only imagine the heart that comes from your writing. I’ve also cut back on my blog time–only posting when I feel moved. I think there is a balance–posting when necessary and also staying connected to all of our wonderful friends, but also making time for our writing and real life.

    And I love hearing about all the other elements going on in your life. Keep pushing. Keep fighting!

    1. Hey Red,

      It’s always so good to see you. Seriously, that’s why my blogging has decreased (among other things); I’m really trying to work on stories for publication and finish a novel I’m willing to put out there. Hopefully, you’ll have something to read soon. 😉 So blogging once a month seems to be the balance for now. Thanks for coming.


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