Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I Did That

   As some of you may know, I released my first, full length, novel several weeks ago. I'm still trying to wrap my head around what I've accomplished. It's been a little over a year since I had to step back from this story, and publish a novella just to get a feel for how the system worked. The difference between writing a 35 thousand word book and a 90 thousand are like night and day, at least for me.
   The complexity of this story, with its multiple plot lines and a wide variety of characters with very distinct personalities, was daunting. Several times I had to sit back and re-think the project, especially the time lines, to ensure everyone arrived at the climax at the right time. For the last several months, the book consumed my life. I thought about it night and day. I was concerned over my ability to pull the story out of my imagination and present it on paper in a way that made sense.
   To be honest, I was disappointed in the numbers from the free promotion, but you know what, it's okay. I've done something I never thought possible. Admittedly, the writing could be better, but hiring a professional editor on my limited, fixed income, was out of the question. I did spend the money for a quality cover and formatting in the hopes resulting sales would cover it. At this rate, it'll be a long time coming.
   At least several people enjoyed the story enough to leave a nice review, and bringing folks to my author page resulted in a few sales of my short stories and novella. There are some friends who I hoped would enjoy the story, but I haven't heard from them yet. If I've disappointed you, I'm sorry. I did my best.
   Thanks for reading.
 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

It's Been A Long Road

   Four years ago, unable to work because of health reasons, and running out of books to read, I decided to write my own stories. It was just something to pass the time. I had a couple stories in my head I thought would be fun to put down on paper, and just started writing. My daughter came over one day, and of course she wanted to know what I was doing. (nosy kids! lol) Anyway, she really liked what I had written and pressured me into entering a contest.
   I picked up a writing magazine from the library and found an ad for a short story contest. The story had to be less than three thousand words. I sat down, wrote the first thing that came to mind, ran it through Word to check for errors, and sent it off. Several months later, I received an e-mail congratulating me on finishing in the top ten.
   The story had been brewing in the back of my head the whole time. It needed to be longer. I looked through another magazine and found a contest with a word limit of six thousand . Again, I sat down, wrote what was in my head, put it in the computer and off it went. Months later, a nice Certificate of Honorable Mention arrived in the mail. I later learned I'd finished in the top eight out of over eight thousand entries. I was hooked.
   That short story blossomed into the idea of a trilogy, and I began to write in earnest. It hasn't been a steady or smooth road to this point. Sometimes, I'm just not able to write because of pain, or my depression rears its ugly head and mocks my efforts to complete a story of that length. In desperation, I set aside the large project and wrote a much shorter novella. A number of short stories also appeared along the way
   By that time, I had joined a local critique group, and eventually found three writing partners who encouraged me to finish the first novel in the series. They were over last night and helped me put the finishing touches on the final scene. I completed one more final edit and sent it off to be formatted. In a couple of days, I will submit it to createspace and Amazon for publication.
   It's a really good feeling to have completed the book, but my mind is now drifting. For years, scenes from this story have always been in the back of my mind. Will I be able to focus on the second book like I did the first? I don't know, but for now, it's nice to let my mind think about other things.
   Did I mention I have a honey-do list pages long? Hopefully, my brain will be refreshed after completing most of the other projects I've been neglecting around the house. I hope to continue with the intensity I had while finishing the first novel.
   Of course, I will let everyone know when the book is available, and maybe I can even convince a few to read it.
   Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Involve the Reader

   I try to write stories in the way I enjoy reading. I'm also a very visual reader and have a vivid imagination. Books that go into extreme detail and long explanations of what is happening, bore me. When something unexpected happens to a character and they are puzzled, wondering why, I want to be puzzled and wonder also. It gives me the incentive to keep reading and hopefully find out why along with the character.
   It irritates me when an author introduces a character, and then several paragraphs, or even chapters later, provides a detailed description of that character. Based on the situation, setting, etc, my imagination has already formed a complete picture of that character. If the author describes them differently, it makes it hard for me to connect with the character. Unless it's critical to the story that the character has long blond hair, always in a ponytail, let the reader use their imagination. If it is important, then mention it as soon as the character appears.
   My writing partners and critique group enjoy it when I leave things to their imagination and present happenings without explanation. They look for that 'ah ha' moment later in the story when the reasons become clear. They feel involved in the story, not just reading about it. Of course, I have to remember those moments and make sure I answer the questions before the end.
   I know my writing style will not appeal to everyone because some readers aren't able to visualize that well and need the extra detail and explanations. Sorry, but I can't write that way. If I don't enjoy writing it, I doubt others will enjoy reading it.
   That's my story, and I'm sticking to it! Ha ha!
   Thanks for reading.

Attached is a picture of my new book that should be published by the end of the month.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

OLDER THAN DOS

   Actually, I'm a lot older than that, but I feel like an old 8088 computer sometimes, trying to keep up with the new technology. I understood DOS, and I could write programs in Basic, Fortran, and Cobol. Those all fell by the wayside long ago along with my ability to understand modern computer programming.
   The speed at which I write is on a par with that old computer. It doesn't take much to cause a 'blue screen', and everything come to a grinding halt. After Christmas, I started averaging several thousand words a day and felt I could finish my story by the end of January. Then I got sick. Zero words were written as I struggled to breathe for several weeks, and of course I missed my goal.
   Tried my reset button, but the auto-depression.exe virus initiated, dumping my memory. CTRL-ALT-DELETE isn't helping, and the old cpu is randomly running short misc. scenes trying to find the right program. I still have the ending in mind, but the path to get there is no longer clear.
   Unfortunately, I can't upgrade the cpu and add memory like I used to for the old system. Between a corrupted program, fragmented files, low memory, and an ancient printer, story production is minimal. I wish I was referring to my computer, but I'm not. I'm no longer the sharpest tool in the shed. As a matter of fact, the shed isn't in very good shape anymore either.
   As long as they continue to put notebooks on sale for 20c each, and charitable organizations keep sending me free pens, I'll keep writing something. Maybe I'll even finish this story someday.
   Sorry you've been subjected to my rotten mood, but this is the least whinny of the blog posts I've tried to write today.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

It's Not Always About Money

   While it's certainly nice to sell an occasional copy of something I wrote and have a few extra dollars to spend, it's not why I write. I write to release the emotions bottled up inside, and the fantasies that go along with them. I also write with the hope my stories will affect others in some small, positive way. This happened again the other day.
   The woman I take care of has several friends who take turns going to church with her. One of those women has only been in the area a short while and I had only met her once. The other day, after church, she was invited to stay and visit since she lives alone and hasn't found many new friends yet.
   During their conversation, it came up that she likes to read at home, but was having a hard time finding enjoyable stories. My friend mentioned to her that I was a writer, and they called me to join the conversation. I told her I write mostly fantasy, but have written other things as well. Of course, being polite, she said she would love to read something I'd written, so I printed out two of my short stories for her. I didn't give it a second thought.
   Yesterday she surprised me by calling just to tell me how much those stories affected her. She said she sat down with a cup of coffee and decided to read the shorter one first (Arizona) and got in one sip before she finished the story, crying. She had to get up and putter around her apartment for a while to settle down. She got another cup of coffee and prepared for the other story (Broken Souls) wondering what kind of journey it would take her on.
   Again, she only got in one sip, and when she finished, the first thing she did after drying her tears was to find her address book and call friends she hadn't talked to in ages. I wrote that story as a way for me to express my regrets over lost dreams and opportunities. It drove her to call and reconnect with friends and family to avoid the regret of missing out on sharing their lives.
   The idea that my story moved her to do that and then call and tell me about it, makes it all worthwhile. If I can get people to smile, cry occasionally, or stop to reflect on their own lives, then I've done my job as a writer.
   Hope your day is as rewarding as mine has been.
   Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

I'm Writing and Can't Stop

   If you've been following me for a while, you know I write mostly in my head. I run scenes through my mind, over and over, tweeking each time until it's exactly the way I want. Only then do I commit it to paper, and into the computer. It works for me, but is an extremely slow way to write. I'll go for a week or longer before I feel a scene is ready. This is a complex story I'm working on with numerous characters and plot lines. I've been struggling with tying them all together when over the holiday, the whole thing fell into place.
   I believe it also helped when after diddling with this story for two years, I put my foot down and told my brain enough is enough. This story will be finished by the end of the month, no excuses. What's that old saying? "Be careful what you wish for." I'm now obsessed with writing. It irritates me when the phone rings or I have to prepare dinner or any number of other distractions.
   I'm still only averaging around a thousand words a day, but that is pretty amazing for me considering the way I write. I won't be spending as much time on the Plus either which is probably a good thing. It's too easy to fall down a rabbit hole scrolling through my feed. Hopefully I can keep this up and finish before burn out. I guess we'll find out.
   Thanks to all my virtual friends, writing partners, and critique group for the encouragement and confidence to continue.
   Happy New Year to everyone, and thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Twas The Blog Before Christmas...

   Here's wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, or whatever phrase means the most to you. This time of year is not about what we say, but what we do. It's a time of giving and helping others. It's a time for forgiveness and reaching out to those we've disagreed with in the past. Life is too short, and we are only hurting ourselves by holding a grudge.
   Three years ago, I started this journey to become a writer and it has been amazing. I've always had trouble making friends, not because people didn't like me, but because I was reluctant to let others into my life. At my age and inability to get out much, I had resigned myself to the idea I would spend the rest of my life lonely. The number of friends I've met on Social Media, and especially the in-person friends I've found through critique groups and writing partners has given me a new lease on life. I've reconnected with classmates from the sixties, most of whom live thousands of miles away, and shipmates from the seventies who I thought I'd never talk to again. It turned out one of my Navy buddies had lived only a couple miles away for years, and we never knew.
   My greatest pleasure comes from the writing partners I've found. It was a huge step for me to invite someone into my home, and it wouldn't have surprised me if they had declined my offer. It is such a blessing to have someone you can share your hopes and dreams with, and who understands the frustrations when the story bogs down and isn't progressing the way you want it. I feel all of us have improved as writers, and our stories are richer and more meaningful. It really helps when we can use each other as a sounding board to work out difficult scenes.
   If you are a writer, my sincere hope is that you find others to sit down with, face to face on a regular basis, and work together through laughter and a few tears. As the saying goes, "Iron sharpens iron".
   Thanks for reading, and I'll see you all next year!