Posted on May 11, 2013
As I promised a few weeks ago, a little treat for those waiting upon the release of my first novel.
But first some news about the upcoming series.
You have known the series as The Fire Fall Saga since mid-last year. Well, the series title has been changed. It is now entitled The Dragon-Called, though the Series Website is still being modified to reflect this title change.
This might be a little confusing as Book One of the series, the one I am currently revising, was originally entitled Enflame, then changed to Dragon Called (similar to the new title of the series). The title has been changed one more time. The current working title for Book One is The Fire Within. There are several other books out there by that name, so not sure if this name will remain or not. But I guess that is why it is called a working title.
I have posted what I am calling a Sampler on a site called WattPad.com. The Sampler contains a Blurb describing Book One and also the first three scenes of the book, the Prologue and first two chapters.
If you are interested, and have time, please take a look at the above link and leave me a comment at that site (and another one here if you feel so inclined). I am very interested in your opinion so please take the time if at all possible.
The three scenes consist of approximately 10,000 words. To put this in perspective, the book is currently planned to be around 150,000 words.
The Fire Within is scheduled to be released as a Kindle eBook in August 2013; Nook and paperback versions to follow shortly thereafter. As with any plan, this schedule is predicated on my ability to meet some fairly strict deadlines.
I recently wrote a short story (6,000 words) about dragons with a Young Adult (YA) theme. After several other authors read the story they encouraged me to expand it and make it into a YA novel. I loved writing the short story and actually felt confined by trying to keep it to just 6,000 words. Based upon this feedback, I took their recommendations and will work on this new project simultaneously while writing Book Two of The Dragon-Called series. Since YA novels generally range from 50,000 to 75,000 words, I am already around 10% of the way through the novel.
So look for updates on how I am doing on both Book Two and the YA novel after I publish The Fire Within.
Posted on April 27, 2013
I just wanted to drop a note to let everyone know I am still around and working on my Revision. And that is the reason I have not been around. Over the next weeks I will be working hard to get it finished and then sent off to my Editor so he can fix my grammatically-challenged writing. Still looking at this Summer, later this Summer, to publish.
I have had several people ask me about my Muse, Willow. They are curious about her and want to know more. So I thought the rest of you would like to know a little bit more about her and Muses in general. I thought handling it like they do in magazine interviews would be fun.
It Is What It Is: So Willow, how did you come to be who you are?
Willoe: Peter was taking Holly’s How To Think Sideways (HTTS) course and in one of the lessons she talks about getting to know your Muse. She said to personalize it. So I remember being woken up as Peter started to think about what his Muse looked like. At first I morphed through all kinds of creatures and people. And by the way, I am still a little spiffed by that. Changing from a rabbit to a wolf to all sorts of different bodies. Regardless, I finally ended with this body.
IIWII: And it is really nice by the way [I was rewarded with a laugh]. Regarding you name. Willow is a bit different. Did you come up with it or did Peter?
W: Actually that was my idea. After all I am the creative one [She laughed again as she said this]. Peter needed a Muse that would be sympathetic and empathic at the same time. One that would understand what he needed without him asking. Yet the Muse also had to be strong and kick him in the butt when needed. In addition, Peter also needed a Muse that could be strong and a foundation for him as he weathered all his mood swings. Not uncommon among writers by the way. Plus since the day Peter realized he had a Muse; which wasn’t until after he started the HTTS course, he had envisioned the Muse as something mystical almost whispy.
IIWII: And from this you came up with the name Willow?
W: Yes. I came up with dozens and dozens of possible names, but none of them struck me as just right for Peter’s Muse. Then I saw a picture of a Willow tree and remembered that it was one of Peter’s Wife’s favorites. The tree has deep roots that create a strong foundation. It provides a good cover for those under it. And best of all the long graceful slender branches bend with the changing wind, never breaking, swaying with the mood of the ever-changing wind and then returning to its original and stable position. And what is more mystical looking and whispy than…A Willow…Me!
IIWII: Very interesting. You’ve been with Peter, what–
W: A little over a year now. As I mentioned, he didn’t even know I existed until the Spring of 2012.
IIWII: Yes, it seems like you are getting along famously. How do the two of you work together? Does he come to you when he needs inspiration? Or do you come to him when you have an idea?
W: Oh it started like that. He would get bogged down and ask me for some inspiration or occasionally I would bring something to him. Then it evolved into what we have today…a collaboration. When Peter sits down to write I am there with him, every single time. We toss ideas around and between the two of us we come up with the perfect lines to put into the story. I think he is very happy with the way it is working…I am.
IIWII: I know this is kind of personal, but do you ever have an argument?
W: Have you ever read any of the previous Posts here in this blog? We argue all the time. But what we argue about is the story. We fight like cats and dogs, clawing and scratching to make our story that much better. Both of us have high expectations and we won’t let each other settle for just Okay.
IIWII: I see. Yes I have read many of the past Post; which is what prompted my question. But your explanation adds a whole new perspective that I had not considered. Thank you.
W: I am sorry, but Peter and I are extremely busy right now with Revision. Maybe we could continue this interview at a later date.
IIWII: Well thank you Willow. I look forward to that. Any last words for our Readers?
Willow: Tell them to be patient and stick with us and they will not be sorry. The more we do this the better we are becoming. We both really hated Revision at first, lots of detail work; and anyone that knows Peter knows that he is a big picture type of guy – detail translates to agonizing drudgery for Peter. But we stuck with it and we think you will be very happy with the end result. I also think you will find Peter’s plans for his future writing very interesting. But I will hold off more details about this for another time.
It Is What It Is: She smiled as she said this and I could see a little of what Peter saw in her. Confident, intelligent, argumentative and compassionate at the same time. Plus not bad to look at. I had asked Peter earlier what he saw in Willow and he told me that she reminded him of the women in his life. Between his wife and daughters he saw all the characteristic I just mentioned. They had the confidence, intelligence, compassion, and beauty that came out in Willow. I jokingly asked him about the argumentative part. His response was “Oh Yeah. That too!”
Posted on April 7, 2013
There are lots of different things that a Writer can do to improve their writing skill and thereby allowing them to create better manuscripts. Take a class. Read a lot of books in your genre – if the books are written well. Reading a lot of books that were badly written might make your writing, well…it might end up being worse than when you started. Joining a Writer’s Group (I have a great one I joined that meets once a week). Attend a Writer’s Conference. And many other things that can make you a better Writer. It is like any other profession, sport, or activity that a person wants to do well at – it requires practice, practice, and more practice.
But I recently found something that really helped my writing. See much of my writing is spent by myself, alone, if not in my office at least while I am exercising, driving, watching TV, and just about anything else I do. What most Writers already know is that the art of writing requires the Writer to do most of their writing before they ever put a single word down on paper or on a computer screen. Hmmm, okay I am not thinking about writing during everything I do.
“What do you mean by that statement?” A sweetly grating voice chimed in.
“Beg your pardon?” So much for a restful night at the computer.
She plopped into her chair with long legs and all hanging over the chair’s arm. “What am I? A Rock.”
“What?” Sometimes I just couldn’t understand this woman.
“You said you are always alone.” She swiveled around planting her feet on the ground, her eyes boring into my skull. “So what does that make me? I am always with you.”
“That’s not what I meant.” She didn’t like to hear that she wasn’t real. It is like my cat thinks he is a dog. Comes when his name is called. Follows me around all the time. And will sit there watching you while you are doing something just waiting for you to pay attention to him. In other words, she knows at some level she doesn’t physically exist, but my Muse just does not want to hear me tell her that.
She leaned forward her chin stiffly daring me to argue. “Then why did you say it?”
Anyone that knows me understands that my head is a like a gumball machine. A thought flickers in my brain, rolls down my throat, over my tongue, and out of my mouth without any editing or censoring. So it was useless trying to explain why I said it. The best course of action was to try and explain what I meant instead.
“Yes, you are always with me.” Though there are times when I wish I had a choice. But to be fair there are other times when I am glad Willow is a part of me. Muses are like that.
“What I meant was that I…I mean we write down our stories. And they are really good.”
She slumped back in the leather chair nodding her head.
At least she wasn’t threatening me anymore. “And we spend an lot of time revising the stories.””
She frowned with a sigh. “An awful lot of time.”
Something we could both agree on. “And we trade manuscripts with other Writers who give us really great feedback.”
She shook her head in agreement with this. Feedback from other Writers has made a significant difference in the quality of our writing.
“But you know when we go to Writer’s Group and read one of our scenes out loud and then get dry-mouthed?”
That got me a nod and a smirk. She thought I was just wimpy.
“Well, when someone else starts reading for me I hear all sorts of things that I didn’t hear when I was reading it myself.” I really felt exasperated when this happens as it is like why didn’t I hear that before?
She nodded again and thought for a moment. “Why don’t you just get someone to read the manuscript back to you then?”
“I thought about that, but I could just see me asking someone Hey it is three in the afternoon, can you please come over and read a couple of pages I just finished so I can hear how it flows. And by the way, could you come back at four thirty and again at six. I will probably have something else at 8am tomorrow and not sure when after that.”
“I see your point.” Willow leaned her head back in thought and then sat up shrugging her shoulders. “I would do it, but that is about the same as you doing it; which wouldn’t help very much.”
“That’s true, but I found a way.” I couldn’t help but smile. It was rare that I could top her in the idea area. “Did you know that PCs and Macs have text-to-speech programs on them.”
I leaned back feeling like I had finally impressed Willow. Something rarer than a near miss by an asteroid. Hmmm, bad example. That happens pretty regularly. “There is a program that comes with Windows called Narrator. Not sure what it is called on the Mac. All I do is export one of our scenes out of Scrivener to a text file. But it could be from Word or anything else. Then I run Narrator and it reads the document out loud to me.”
“Does it work?” She sat straight up excited.
“Yupper. You know those first three scenes we finished? The ones we have totally run through Revision and are ready for publication?”
“Yes.” I could hear the pride in her voice.
“I ran them through Narrator and found several run-on sentences and a couple of areas where the flow just didn’t work, but was easily fixed after I discovered the issue. It isn’t the greatest voice, but there are other programs that you can buy, pretty inexpensively, that have natural sounding voices so you can get a better idea of the documents flow.”
“Wow, this is great.”
“It sure is. I am going to use it from now on with all of our writing. It could really help us pick problems up quicker and also get a better feel for how the story will sound before we do too much revision on it.” We were both getting pretty excited. We hate Revision.
She smiled and just kept nodding.
I haven’t been writing all that long, but it amazes me how I keep stumbling across new things to add to my Writer’s Toolbox that make the writing process easier and also makes my writing even that much better. But I guess it is like any other profession. It is becomes easier, and the quality is higher, when you have the right tools to do the job.
Update on My First Novel
Sorry it has been a while since I have posted in my blog. I have been extremely busy with Revision. Well that and a little vacation time. All Work and No Play… But I will have some really great news soon. And a little surprise for all my Readers that I think they might find of some interest. Look for my new post in a week or two with this surprise.
Posted on March 12, 2013
I just got back from vacation and had a great time. Spent time in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (home of the rich and famous) for my brother’s 70th BDay. His wife had made arrangements for him to play in the PGA Honda Classic Pro-Am and he got to spend the day playing golf with one of the Pros (Ken Duke). I even got out to play a little golf, though not with a Pro. Then we visited other friends elsewhere. Overall it was a great time, though the only drawback was that I didn’t get any time to work on the Revision of my book.
But now that I am back I can start digging into my book once again. I will actually start rewriting parts of it in the next week or so. Up until this point I was figuring out what I needed to change (which was a review of everything – characters, settings, dialogue, conflict, and tons of other things that I didn’t know that I needed to fix).
So I started reading the next couple of Lessons in my HTRYN (How to Revise Your Novel) course. I am up to around Lesson 15 out of 21 (almost there – Yeah). And I ran into something in the Lesson that kind of threw me. Anyone who has been reading this Blog knows about my Muse, Willow. She can be…let’s just say a bit overbearing. But at times her persistence was the only thing that kept the book moving along.
I have talked about my Muse a lot and she even spends as much time writing these blog posts as I do, but this week she is still on vacation, so I will take this opportunity to talk about her. But before I do I am not sure if everyone knows exactly what is a Muse?
Going backwards in time, and I mean to Ancient Greece, the Muses first appeared in mythology as nine goddesses, daughters of Zeus, who were said to be the inspiration of the arts, especially literature, dance and music. The term Muse started showing up in English literature as early as Chaucer invoked the term in 1374. Today it is defined “as to think about or ponder something deeply; or the source of inspiration for an artist”. Not much different from Chaucer’s time. Though Muses have been providing inspiration well back before the Greeks.
That is enough history for now. But I heard someone out there ask How did Willow get her name? And why would you name your Muse anyways? And what about the Lesson? Well no one actually asked, but it was the only way I could bring up the subject.
Believe it or not some writers don’t even know they have a Muse. I didn’t know when I started the HTTS (How to Think Sideways) course in January 2012 even though I had been trying to be a writer for over 40 years. It was several months later that I was sitting in my chair staring at my computer without a single thought in my head. I had written several scenes, but had no idea where the book was going.
Then a voice said, “Your trying too hard.”
You can imagine I was a tad shocked. Even though it wasn’t really a voice, it was a thought that came to me, but felt separate from my mind…yet still inside it. From that point forward she talks to me on a regular basis and is my collaborator. I know it is just my own subconscious, or sometimes a part of my consciousness that I just hadn’t recognized, but it is still easier for me to think of these thoughts as coming from someone else other than myself.
As far as the name Willow goes, she gave it to me. At first I just referred to her as my Muse. And that was okay, but it was somewhat like talking to a stranger. Then another author told me how she had a Muse that she envisioned as a bird and when it liked something the author was doing it would turn blue and the author did something the Muse didn’t like, the bird would turn red. I talked to other authors and found out they saw their Muses as everything from bunny rabbits to hippopotamuses to the abominable snowman. There are a lot that also see their Muse in human form like I do. And a few of the authors suggested coming up with a name for my Muse. I wasn’t sure and then right away the name Willow came to me. I don’t know why. I had never thought of the name Willow before and not even sure if I knew someone with that name. But right after the name I heard “Willow’s have deep roots and sway in the wind, bending, but not breaking.” And this is exactly what I needed to get me through the writing of my novel and during Revision.
And the other great thing was that by personalizing my Muse it was a lot easier to talk with her. If I get stuck I just go, “What do you think Willow?” and most of the time something comes to me.
But what I didn’t realize, that I found out in the Lesson I was working on, is that everyone has a Muse. I guess it was a little elitist on my part thinking only I, an author, could have a Muse. The Lesson pointed out that Readers also have a Muse. And that while I was writing the First Draft for Willow, in Revision I needed to consider the Muse of my Readers and what they wanted. Not that I should change my novel just to make other people’s Muses happy, but I did need to take them into consideration when looking at what would make my book a better book then what I wrote during the First Draft. It was a bit of a revelation that, like many other things I discovered in HTRYN, I hope is making my manuscript something that I can be proud of.
And now that you know you have a Muse I have a couple of questions for you. But even if you don’t believe me, just go with it for a minute. Take some time to think about your Muse. What is it? Is it a person, an animal, an object? It can be anything you want. Does it talk to you? What name is it giving you or does it just do something like the bird, changing colors? Comment below and tell me what you came up with.
Posted on February 12, 2013
Sorry for not Posting more often. I have been working really hard on the Revision of Dragon Called (the new name for Book One of my series) and proud to say I am halfway through Revision. My lovely wife sent me away to the mountains for a week, for my $%@ Birthday, so I could power through the second quarter of the Revision process. And yes, I at first also wondered why she wanted to get rid of me for an entire week, but I am confident that it was purely altruistic. The picture to the right is of me hard at work in my little mountain hotel room – and little it was. But it met my needs. Bed, TV (had to catch the golf tournament), shower (working ten hours a day in a little room can create a certain odors), and a window (got to have natural light). The little folding desk, in the picture, and wine bottle opener, not in the picture, I brought up with me. Both were critical for the week.
While I really enjoyed my time in the mountains, and feel so great about being halfway through Revision, at the same time it has been a little depressing. Which really surprised me.
“Why were you surprised?” There she was again. Not sure what name you give to something that is a curse and a blessing at the same time.
I really didn’t want to talk to my Muse about this right now. She’s not known for her compassion.
“So why were you surprised?” She was pretty adamant to get an answer. Have you ever seen a dog that gets a hold of the end of a cloth and won’t let go. Just shaking it’s head back and forth trying to get the other end of the cloth out of your hands.
Sometimes it is easier just to rip the band aid off quickly rather than slowly. This was one of those times so I told her. “One of the things I have found out about writing is that it is REALLY hard. Writing the First Draft was hard. Took me around eight months, though my hope is that the next book will take less time as I have learned quite a few tricks since I started Book One. ”
“Remember, I was there.” She frowned and crossed her arms over her chest. That’s bad for me. Then she shifted to one hip. That’s a lot worse.
“Yes, I know.” And sometimes you find out the bleeding hasn’t stopped when you rip off the band aid. “But Revision is taking several months and it makes the writing of the First Draft seem like a breeze. And when I was working on the Revision with Ed Asner–”
The sound of gravel being dumped from a truck flooded the room and my Internal Editor, Ed Asner, walked in the door right behind Willow. “Excuse me Miss.” He tapped Willow on the shoulder.
“Oh great” Willow strutted into the room and plopped into her chair. The one I can never find, or even see, when she isn’t in the room.
Ed Asner walked in and pulled up a chair. He wiggled into the seat and leaned back with his hands together resting on his stomach. “Come on Will, you know he’s depressed because he’s in the first part of Revision. You know…when he needs to find all the stuff that went wrong with the First Draft.” His smile dripped with sarcasm.
“There’s nothing wrong with—” she shot up in her seat. She hated it when he called her Wil.
“Now just hold on you two.” I stood and got between them. “The first part of Revision is about finding out what is wrong with the manuscript,” I turned to Willow and opened my arms to show my vulnerability, “And I take full blame for any issues.” She huffed and sat back in the chair and I turned towards Ed Asner whose smirk had grown and I told him, “But the second half of Revision is back to writing and correcting what was found in the first half. Taking the ugly and making it beautiful” His smirk disappeared and his normal grumpy frown replaced it. I didn’t mean to create an analogy between the first half of Revision to Ed Asner and the second half to Willow. However, the imagery of a Disney movie came to mind, though romance is definitely out of the question and Ed is never going to turn into a handsome prince. But other than that it fits.
After a few moments he stood and said, the gravel in his voice rumbling again, “Well I have business to take care of. There are still problems that need to be identified.” He left the room and I turned just in time to see Willow sticking her tongue out at his back.
She threw both legs over the side of the chair and leaned back against the other arm, her blond hair hanging down nearly touching the floor. “So when do you and Grumpy finish up so I get my turn again?”
“Well, I need to look at the upcoming lessons.” I tried to think what was coming up in the next week or so.
“And…” She waved her hand around in a circle like an Italian friend of mine does when he is trying to make a point. In Willow’s case it was just a sign of impatience.
“I think we are almost there.”
The rolling eyes appeared accompanied by a very loud, and rather obvious, sigh as my delightful Muse seemed to be losing patience. Finally, after all the dramatics and another sigh, Willow narrowed her eyes staring at me and said, “Is that a day, a week, two weeks, what? When can we start fixing the manuscript?” she almost gagged on the word fixing.
“Yes well,” I started again. “Let’s say another week, two at the most. Then maybe another six weeks or so of molding the book into what I envisioned–”
“We envisioned!” She corrected me.
“We envisioned.” If it made her feel better. I could already feel the depression lifting as I thought about finally being able to go in and take all those blemishes and making them beautiful again.
“Good” She finally smiled, then I could see her mind working. “I have a couple of other story ideas I want us to work on that I haven’t been able to shake.”
Oh great. We haven’t even finished this book and she is already thinking of more projects! More Revisions
Posted on January 13, 2013
I had finally started my Revision and was plugging away. But unfortunately I wasn’t really doing it correctly. The idea for Lesson one of How To Revise Your Novel (HTRYN) is to read through your entire manuscript with some specific Worksheets nearby, making notes and associating specific pages and lines with notes on the Worksheets. Sounds simple, but naturally simple wasn’t good enough for me. I have been doing what my writer friends call Polishing. I have been editing dialog, adding descriptions, changing grammar, and also sorts of other things I should be doing in Lesson 18 of HTRYN, but NOT in Lesson One.
It was explained to me as if I was sanding a piece of wood before I decided how I was going to cut it up. Some of the wood I had spent time diligently working hard to sand I would cut off and throw away, so wasting my time. Or I would be sanding wood that once I cut it, even if I saved it, I would need to sand it again to deal with the rough edges and again wasting my time. Bottom-line, the result of Polishing before I get through most of HTRYN would be WASTING time.
So starting tomorrow, no Polishing. I mean it. But please check with me next time we talk and ask me if I am still Polishing or not.
“Ah that gets a load off my shoulders,” I felt pretty good about making this decision.
Smoke started to rise from behind my computer screen and I pushed my chair back staring up at the smoke. “Oh crap!” was all I could think. My computer just crashed.
But then the smoke formed up, changed color, and a person was there. Well not a person. It looked like a genie. The firmer the image became I noticed that it was blue and when it finally solidified I was amazed. It looked the genie in the Aladdin movies. You know Robin Williams type of genie.
And I said….”Oh crap!”
Then a deep voice, the you are being called by God type of voice, said “Why are you writing this book?”
“Huh?’ Sometimes my words are as smooth as velvet.
“Why are you writing this book?” the blue genie asked again.
The question took me by surprise. Well any question from a blue genie in my office would probably surprise me, but this question was especially apropos. I had been thinking about this and had come up with all sorts of cliché answers. The genie made me think a bit deeper about it.
Well money came to mind, but in reality if you take the amount of money I will probably make off, at least, Book One divided by the year that I will have spent writing and revising it I will probably make about $0.03 an hour for my effort. So I guess money isn’t the reason (though it would be nice if I made a boat load of money off of it).
So what else? I sat for quite a while and thought over the question.
“Hi Phillip.” Willow strolled in and casually said hello to the genie. She dropped into her usual chair, leg over arm and looked up at the genie. “Whats Up?”
I looked at the genie and then back at Willow, and then back at the genie.
The Robin William’s genie dissolved and a short, bald headed man stood in the genie’s place. You know the little bad guy Vizzini in The Princess Bride that was played by Wallace Shawn. He smiled that little snear like in The Princess Bride and turned to my Muse, “Hi Willow, long time no…” he didn’t bother to finish.
“Same back at ya” She replied giving him a little salute.
“What the–” I had no idea what was going on.
Willow looked over at me and smiled. She has a lot of smiles. This one was the I know something you don’t smile. Then she told me as she pointed to the man. “This is Phillip.”
“I heard you before” I said a little irritated. A common thing that ran through our relationship.
“Phillip is…” She paused and thought about it before continuing. “He is like your subconscious. At least part of it. Just like me. His job is to bug you about things until you get them right.” She thought a little more. “So I guess he is a lot like me in some respects. But he is not very imaginative like I am.” She made sure to emphasize the last sentence.
“What about the genie. That was pretty imaginative.” Phillip defended himself.
“You’ve used that in the past.” Willoe argued back.
Phillip started to argue his point further then seemed to think about it and shut up.
Willoe smiled like the Cheshire Cat then turned back to me. “So what’s your answer to snake eye’s question?”
“Oh that.” Her comment brought me back to what I had been thinking earlier.
Why was I writing the book? Money. No, I already ruled that out. Then maybe ego. Well I have a pretty big one, but even I wouldn’t spend a year of my life slaving away on a book just to satisfy my ego. Though six months maybe.
Then it hit me. “I am writing the book because I want to entertain people. I want to create something that would last longer than my physical self (okay so yes to part of it being ego), I want to get people to think.”
“Get people to think!” Willoe asked her head tilted. “How so?”
I looked seriously at her and tried to answer the new question. “I don’t know. It just came to me like when you send me thoughts about something.”
Both Willoe and Phillip looked at me a little suspiciously.
I tried to explain it the best I could. “I never really thought about it before. And I hate to admit it, but I didn’t really come up with some major, thought provoking theme when I started the series. I just wrote because I enjoyed writing it. Yet I can see as I finished Book One that there were some strong themes running through the book. Themes that I hoped would strike a chord with my Readers.”
I sat back in the chair thinking about the various themes. “I realized I have always enjoyed and loved the concept of the underdog good guy battling against all odds to take on the really, really, I mean really bad guys. Though I also believe no one is all good or bad. Just more of one than the other.
I also had stuff in Book One about female equality. This was kind of a shocker to me. I know the story was about boy and girl, Twins, who secretly switch roles. So acting in each others gender was part of the story. But I didn’t realize that I would be showing the female becoming such a strong leader and having to be equal to the men around her.”
They both looked at me nodding their heads their faces full with acceptance and appreciation.
I thought a little more then added, “But I think one of the big ones for me is idea of brotherhood/sisterhood. People that would be there for each other through (cliché alert) thick-and-thin. The bonding of people that would do whatever it took to make each others lives better. Even possibly give their lives without question for each other. They help each other to solve problems.”
That got me a big smiles from both of them. And Vizzini even gave me an “Incredible!”
“Well that is pretty good…considering,” Willow smiled her crooked smile; which meant that she was complimenting me, but didn’t want to let it go to my head. I could accept that.
“This will work out really well then.” She smiled the I know something you don’t smile again.
I just looked at her with my, unfortunately more often then I would like, what are you talking about stare.
She waited, just the appropriate time to keep me on edge, then said, “I look ahead and guess what Lesson Two is all about?”
I thought of a number of things then realized the only thing it could be. “Go through the manuscript AGAIN and look to make sure that the themes are clearly defined and run through the entire book?”
Her smile got bigger and she gave me a sarcastic two thumbs up!
Hi everyone. Don’t forget to check out the Book Series website if you have not done that already. It is http://FireFallSaga.com I will be posting more there shortly.
Posted on January 2, 2013
At the end of November I completed Book One of my four plus book series. Well, I finished the First Draft. I took a deep breath and said Wow, that really took a lot out of me. Now understand that this does NOT mean that I can upload to Amazon and you can download it to your Kindle. I have to spend time in Revision taking a good First Draft and making it a Great Final Manuscript. At least this is what I am told. Then I will probably have to run it through an Editor to correct my grammar-challenged writing style. After that I just have to put it into the correct format to put up on Kindle, and then one for Nook, and formats for several other eBook sites. I will also have to format it for CreateSpace so people can buy it as a paperback on Amazon. THEN I can publish the book!
I was told by several other novelist that Revision is way harder than actually writing the First Draft. You have to go through your manuscript several times identifying all sorts of different issues and then how you can fix it. Things like Are there two characters filling the same role? And if so, I have to figure out which one needs to go and then remove one of them through out the entire novel. And that is probably one of the easier things that has to be done. Where does my story fall apart? Why didn’t some of my characters turn out the way I wanted them to? Where is the story boring (even to me)? And tons of other questions I need to answer. And this is only in Lesson 1 of 18 lessons!!!! There is a lot more that has to be done, not to mention rewriting a lot of stuff to fix all the problems I find.
This can take months just to get through Revision, providing I did a good job on the First Draft (which I think I did).
Writing the First Draft is creative like paining a picture, or sculpting a statue, or writing a song (though I think unless you are doing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel that most of these don’t take months to create). Revision has been described to me as giving birth, but without all the screaming (though some of the stories I have heard, there’s also a lot of screaming involved). All I know about giving birth is that it is REALLY painful.
“It is extremely painful,” She stated with utter authority as she stepped in the room and flopped into THE chair, legs over the arm as she leaned her head back against the wingback on the other side.
I was a little confused, but that has not been unique recently. So I asked, “I didn’t know you had given birth?”
“I haven’t” she answered as she took several strands of hair in her hands and pulled the ends apart looking for split ends.
“But–” I started to ask, but she cut me off.
“I’m a woman.” She dropped her hair and stared at me daring me to question her.
I knew better and just went on, “Regardless,” which got me a harder stare, “if Revision is like giving birth…” I stared back at her, but only for a second, “then I am petrified to get into it.”
She gave up the evil eye stare and looked up at the ceiling, “Come on Peter, you shouldn’t be scared.”
“Why not?” I asked a bit harshly. I hate it when people tell me how I should feel.
Sitting upright with feet on the floor she put her hands on her knees and looked me right in the eyes. I have to admit it was a little intimidating. “Because you have to do it. This is the first book you have actually finished that you are happy with. Not like all the others stuffed in the drawer. And this one is actually pretty good.” I could see the pride in her eyes. “After all you had me to help you this time.” She grinned and her eye brows raised at her own comment.
A Muse can be a real asset at times, and at other times…Well, let’s just say it takes a lot of patience.
She sat back slumped in the chair and said “You’ve already printed out the manuscript. What something like 550 double-spaced pages?”
“Yupper.” I nodded. More than a ream of paper. “It is sitting on a table in my office waiting for me to start.”
“Then just start it.” She said nonchalantly looking at the ceiling again.
“I know you are right.” I really hate telling her that. “I think the problem is that I wanted to have it ready for publication before the Summer and before I go off on vacation. I started writing the First Draft at the end of April and if I go into the Summer that means it would have taken me over a year. I understand that each book you write it gets quicker and quicker for both First Draft and Revision, I just didn’t want to do that.”
She sighed. You know…the kind that means, why are you being such a pain. Then closed her eyes. That like doubles the sigh to it is so obvious, why are we even talking about this. Finally after all the sounds and body language she said, “I know what you want, but you can only do what you can do.”
“I know, but–” I started and again she cut me off. She’s very good at that, much to my chagrin.
“No, no buts. What is the title of this Blog?” She was staring at me again, her expression very serious.
“Ah…” I had to think for a moment. Yes, I know that is stupid, but I did. “It Is What Is Is.”
“Well what does that mean to you?” she asked
I answered without hesitation, “That things, meaning events or circumstances, are just what they are. Not what we would like them to be. And to pretend otherwise is just fooling ourselves and not doing ourselves any good. That what we need to do is deal with the reality of the situation or event as it is and just move forward doing the best we can. Well, I can’t speak for others. Some people are pretty good at fooling themselves and live their entire life that way. In a sort of dream world. You know the type where you go I wonder what world they are living in. But as for me, I can’t.”
“Good” she stood and walked over to me putting a hand on both of my shoulders as she stared down at me as I sat staring up at her. “It’s time to put on the big boy pants and just get started on the Revision. The situation is what it is and you will get it done when you get it done. Don’t waste time worrying about it.” She smiled and squeezed my shoulders in a reassuring way. “I am not much for big company branding. They make enough without trying to stick little tag lines in our brains that we can’t seem to get rid of. But in this case I think it is apropos. So Just Do It.”
I had to laugh as I knew how she felt about that. So I guess I just need to sit down and start Revision. And it will be done when I finish it!
If you hear loud screaming. It is only me giving birth.
Posted on December 13, 2012
I finished the First Draft of Book One at the end of November. Oh Halleluiah. I was so excited. I couldn’t believe it. After 40 years I finally finished a novel that I thought could be published. What a feat, what a dream.
At the time there were fireworks going off, the sun shone (actually it was cloudy out and just a ray of sunlight shone down on me), and then believe it or not (try to believe – it is Christmas time) a half-dozen bluebirds started to circle my head like a halo. Their chirping sounded like a beautiful sonata and I closed my eyes to enjoy the fullness of their music. I realized that they must be the bluebirds of happiness I had heard about.
“Seriously,” Willow’s voice, though sweet and just deep enough to be sexy, had a slight harshness to the edge that added just the right amount of sarcasm when she desired; like now, “Bluebirds of Happiness flying around your head.”
“Yupper,” My repartee a sign of my greater intelligence.
She flopped in her favorite chair as she scratched behind Grover, her dog’s, ear. He just stared at me with his big droopy eyes and even bigger ears that drooped even more.
She kept scratching Grover as she talked to me, “A halo. You really think a lot of yourself. Don’t forget who had a lot to do with the first draft getting finished!”
“I know you did,” I couldn’t have done it without her, but she also couldn’t have done it without me. I was just ready to tell her this with a completely smug expression when she said first.
“So where are the birds?” Her eyes were focused above my head.
This was the part that I didn’t really want to remember. I took a deep breath. “Well at first it was really great and then their chirping started to sound deeper and started to sound more like a caw than a chirp.”
She leaned forward with interest.
I leaned a little farther towards her also and told her, “Then occasionally I started to feel a peck on my head. Then it became more and more.” I ducked my head remembering the painful pecks. “I looked up and they looked more like crows then bluebirds.”
“What happened?” My Muse asked, her voice filled with concern. “Why did they change?”
“That’s what I couldn’t figure out.” At first I had been as shocked and confused as she now was. But then… “I realized that I had finished the first draft and was kind of worn out. I knew I needed to start on the Revision process for the first draft and I had already started the first draft of Book Two before I even finished Book One.” I paused as I was a little embarrassed about what I was going to say. “But I just couldn’t get myself to start either one. I couldn’t even get myself up to do my weekly Post here. I just felt like I had deflated and didn’t know if I could get motivated to continue with the Revision. Part of me was so excited to have completed the first draft and couldn’t wait to get through the Revision (a few month effort), but another part of me was like ‘I have put so many months into this and now I have more work to do – whoa is me!’. So I didn’t do anything. I spent time getting ready for Christmas and making excuses and coming up with other things to do.”
She was sitting on the edge of her chair now her eyes wide. “I was wondering why I hadn’t heard from you for the last week or more. Are you still feeling that way.”
I had to think for a few moments before answering because I wasn’t sure. Then with another big sigh (I sigh a lot and sometimes for no reason). “The other day I said I would get started. I would get off my writing butt and get started. So the first thing that I had to do with Revision was to print out my manuscript. Double-space, Times New Roman 12pt. It took a while and finally I had in my hands 529 pages of the first draft. It was heavy and did you know that when you print out a ream of paper it is almost twice as thick as it was before you unwrap the ream. I put the ream down and stared at it. The crows started to fade then a really big one pecked me on the head and I stared at the printed out manuscript again. How was I ever going to get through that?”
“So you are still in a funk is that it?” She said her tone becoming angry; which threw me as I was not expecting that sort of reaction.
She stood and walked over to put her hands on my chair and leaned forward, causing me to lean back into the seat. I thought she might even take a swing at me. Her eyes had narrowed and her lips were tight as she got out. “So you just going to put me back into the dark recesses of your mind like I was before you started this Series and realized that I existed.” She stood back up and walked away from me then turned quickly pointing a finger back at me. “You know I was always there waiting to help you all these years. Do you have any idea what it is like to be stuck in the dark not able to share you creative ideas. Just sitting and watching as you bypassed all the opportunities to become a novelist. As you went about your life ignoring me when all I have ever wanted was to be your creative partner.” I could see tears in her eyes.
“No, No” I had to let her know. “I am not sorry at all that I finally found you. You have made a big difference in my life.”
Now she was sniffling and wiped her nose with her hand. Which I can tell you is not very attractive. “So you are sending me back down there. You don’t know what it’s like. To have all these ideas. To want to express yourself to the world. But then it is like someone having a choke hold on you and you can’t say a word.”
“Not at all.” I told her firmly as I put a hand on her arm. “You are NOT going back down there. In fact that is why I asked you to meet me here.”
She looked at me askew as she seemed a little confused.
I smiled hoping that would help. “On my Writer’s Forum I told a few folks how I felt and one of them came back and they said ‘Don’t you know that’s the “End-of-First-Draft Blues”? Everybody gets it. You’ve earned a few days off. Allow yourself to enjoy the time, and then get back into it. I always need at least 1-3 weeks before I recover enough for revision or a new story.’ This really got me thinking. It had only been a week and I was totally in a funk and couldn’t see anyway out.” I almost laughed. “I knew I just couldn’t jump into the Revision. I had to take it a little at a time. Baby steps (well a 60 year old man isn’t really a baby – well maybe not too far from one). So I thought we could write a Post for our blog here and then we could write a Post for our Series, the Fire Fall Saga, website. Soooo, what do you think?”
A grin that nearly covered her entire face spread out and her eyes sparkled again. She pushed back her blond hair and just kept smiling. Then she dropped back down in her chair, one leg over the arm, and she got a serious look on her face. “I guess I could help you if you really need it. I mean there’s no way you could write it without me. At least nothing that anyone would want to read.”
Well it was good to have her back…I guess.
She closed one eye and tilted her head like she does when she is thinking then she said, “Why not make the first Post-End-of-First-Draft Blues Post the conversation we just had?”
I thought that was a wonderful idea. So you now have it.
Then she added, “I have an idea for the Fire Fall Saga blog postings.”
I was intrigued. “What did you have in mind?”
“The last post you did was about Protector Dougal. We should make the blog posts, at least for a while, explanations of the different creatures and other strange beings (and places) in the Series.” She said with a grin again. She caught her breath and then added, “Let’s make the Fire Fall post on Brownies!”
I loved it. So if you want to find out what a Brownie is, at least in my Series, then check http://FireFallSaga.com in a couple of days and continue to check there in the future to find out about Borlinders, Kata-Heinies, and many other beings that populate the Island Country of Taran.
Oh don’t get my Brownies confused with the dessert to the left, though it really does look good, doesn’t it. And don’t confuse the Brownie with the Korrigan to the right. Even though they are related to the Brownies, they look a lot different. I don’t have a picture of my Brownie, so you will just have to check out the website for a description.
Posted on November 6, 2012
The young Cockatoo looked up at the swallows flying in the sky above, a perfect formation. He was afraid. Ever since he broke the shell his view of the world was through a clear wall. He had never felt alone. There were many of his brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and tons of others in his world. It was perfect except the Biggies would come up to the clear wall and stare at him and the others. The smaller Biggies were the worse as they would bang on the wall with their claws scaring him with the loud noise.
Then one day he was sleeping and suddenly something had him. He couldn’t lift his wings as they were clapsed to his sides. Then he was in a smaller version of his home except it had metal strips instead of a clear wall. He couldn’t fly, he could only move a little in each direction. The world outside moved back and forth as a Biggie picked up his home. He nearly lost his balance as his world had always been stable.
Then his little home was in a new place. It was in the air and he could look all around at a strange new world. But every time he moved his home would sway. The only time he felt comfortable was when he was still and normally that was when he was sleeping.
Instead of having many different Biggies constantly looking in on him and his family, most of the time it was only one. The Biggie had a bunch of fur on its head that was nearly as white as the Cockatoos feathers. Sometimes a new Biggie would come by, most with white fur also and they would tap on his home; which only made it sway that much more. The one Biggie was nice enough and fed him, but it was not the same. He missed flying, even if short distances, and more than anything else he missed being with others of his kind.
Then one day the Biggie forgot to close the metal strips over the hole in his home. He walked to the edge of the hole and cocked his head looking around. The Biggie was nowhere to be seen. He felt a breeze and the way it blew through his crest he could tell that it was coming from a big hole in the world. He looked around one more time then launched from the hole in his home and flew for the first time in a long time. He was so overwhelmed with the joy of spreading his wings that he almost forgot about the breeze, then he remembered and went through the hole in the world.
For many days and nights he flew and ate from many different flowers and insects and felt free for the first time in a long time. He would stare up at the flocks of starlings and sparrows that would dart to and fro across the sky. Oh they were nice enough to him, but he always felt different. They just didn’t understand how he felt and what made him who he was.
As he was sitting on a branch watching one of the flocks going around in circles in the sky, he noticed something in a tree far away, at the extent of his vision. It was white like him, but a little smaller. He launched from the branch and spread his large wings flapping a couple of times and gliding to the other tree. As he got closer he couldn’t believe his eyes. It looked like another Cockatoo. And not just one, but also a black one, a large pinkish one, and even a gray and two red ones. He landed on the branch and the others crowded around him. They all went to the ground and pecked at the same insects and flowers. They then launched in the air and flew together above the trees and he no longer felt like he was alone. He had found those that could understand how he felt and what he needed. He realized that it nice to be wiith others, but it took those that felt the same things he did to make him really come to life.
“Cute story,” my ever present Muse read over my shoulder.
“Thank you Willow.”
“Cute, but what does it have to do with our blog?” She said in a tone that made me feel like I had a spot light shining in my face with a guy, who looked like an ex-boxer with a big cigar hanging out the side of his mouth, asking me where was I at 9pm on October 18th of last year.
Unfortunately, I can’t ignore her as she is just part of me. Well I could, but it would be a lot harder to convince others that I didn’t need the tight little white jacket. And this is a constant threat.
“You know Willow that while I have been working with different authors via the internet, and it has really helped my writing, I have missed not being able to be able to talk to them face-to-face about writing and everything associated with it.”
“Yes,” She agreed, “It’s been tough on me also you know.”
I felt for her as I knew it was just as hard on her as me. “Well three weeks ago I did something about this. I joined a Writer’s Group.”
She looked a little shocked, but then a smile creased her face. “I wondered where you were going on Saturdays. I thought maybe you were seeing another Muse.”
I thought about it and couldn’t see how I could be seeing another Muse without her knowing, but then her logic and mine didn’t always work the same way.
“So it has been going well?” She asked. I think she was finding this as exciting as I had.
“Very well! And it is interesting because some are poets and short story writers with only a couple of novelist.” I had come to learn that how a poet or short story writer or a novelist approaches their work requires some of the same skills, but also some different ones. All love writing and much of what they do is the same, but whereas a short story or novella writer has 5,000 to 15,000 words to introduce their characters and the conflict, build to climax, and bring their story to conclusion, a novelist may spend the same amount of words building depth into more characters and story lines and won’t come to conclusion until anywhere from 50,000 to 150,000 words later. Not that one is better than the other. Just different. And this added to my knowledge of writing; which made it that much more fun. “However, the main thing is that we all love writing. We all live in the world of words. And we all suffer through a blank page or the fear and joy of reading our stories out loud, putting ourselves out there and open to criticism and praise alike.”
“So you have found your…” She said knowing I would finish the sentence for her.
“Birds of a Feather!” I could never pass up a good setup line J
Update on National Novelist Writing Month:
Just an update on my NaNo progress. Six days in (I am writing this on November 6th), and if I stuck with the 1,666.67 words necessary per day to reach the 50,000 word count by midnight on November 30th, I should have written 10,000 words by midnight tonight. As of right now, this very minute, I have written 13,308 words. So I am about two days ahead of schedule. Now everyone quit cheering (though I never turn away applause and praise). I also know there are going to be times, over the next 24 days, where I will not write a single word. I can’t imagine my wife would appreciate me disappearing for a couple of hours on Thanksgiving Day to get my 1,666.67 words in. So whenever I can get more than the minimum quantity in a particular day, I am thrilled.
I appreciate those of you who have asked me how it is going and providing lots encouragement in this endeavor (the more encouragement the better). I also wanted to let everyone know that I am really enjoying this challenge. At first I thought it was going to cause me a lot of stress, but my experience has just been the opposite. I think a lot of this is in part to the support and encouragement I am getting from my wife and others. They are behind my effort and allowing for little adjustments I needed to make in my schedule to meet this goal. For those that may not understand what a challenge this is — 50,000 to 70,000 words is equivalent to a Young Adult book like one of those vampire types of book. So this is similar to writing an entire book in 30 days. So thank all of you and I appreciate your support and kind words.
Posted on October 28, 2012
Okay I know it is stealing from the opening soliloquy in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but hey…just consider it flattery.
“NaNo?” There she is. I knew it wouldn’t take her very long.
“Yes, NaNo.” I responded without even looking back at her.
“You know I hate acronyms.” Her voice was firm as she walked around in front of me hands on hips.
Sometimes I think the hands are glued there. At least around me. “Listen Nano is–”.
“I told you,” She started to walk out of the room.
I stood and turned to her, “Wait!”
“What?” She was definitely getting angry.
“NaNo is important to both of us.”
She gave me a Really look.
I sat back down and she took a seat across from me while I leaned forward, elbows on my knees. “November is NaNo, and NaNo stands for National Novelist Writers Month.”
If it dealt with writing, it peaked her interest. She waited.
I went on explaining, “What happens is that thousands of writers from all over the world make a pledge to write 50,000 words in the month of November. And yes, I know you understand how much 50,000 is, but many of our Readers don’t. 50,000 words is the size of Young Adult novel or about half of an adult novel. So you can imagine writing an entire novel (Young Adult) in one month?”
“No” she said suspiciously.
“Well it can be done.” I sat back crossing my arms. “The idea is you just write everyday, but you aren’t concerned about the quality of the writing. If you actually get through 50,000 words in thirty days the chance is the result will be 50,000 words of crap. But it will be your crap. And as they say, you can fix anything in Revision. Well almost anything.”
“So is that what you plan to do, spend the next month writing crap?” The tightness in her jaw told me she didn’t like the idea.
“Well I hope it isn’t really crap, but generally that’s the idea.”
“And you want my help. Is that it?” I could see the hint of a smile. Like I said she was intrigued by anything that dealt with writing.
I smiled back at her. “Yes. Without you it would be impossible.” She loves it when I say things like that. “I don’t know if I can get that many words done, but I figured I– I mean we could give it a try. The way I look at it is if we make a gallant effort we could finish the First Draft of Book One and get a good start on Book Two.”
Her eyes twinkled at that. “Get started on Book Two?” That’s all she heard out of all that.
“I’m in” she stood up a big grin on her face. “When do we start?”
I looked at her a little askew, “Well, I guess the first of November would probably be a good day.”
“Great” She responded with an almost girlish enthusiasm.
“But we need to spend a couple of days getting ready. Finishing up plot cards, especially a few for the beginning of Book Two, and setting up a writing schedule that we can stick with.” I was already thinking about how to make this happen. Another thing is as part of the commitment we post our daily writing progress on the NaNoWriMo.org website and subsequently I will be posting it on this website. So during the month of November our Readers will see both my progress on Book One and also my NaNo progress. The NaNo progress will be the same words as in Book One’s progress, but it will give the Readers an idea how we are doing and if we will meet the 50,000 word goal.”
“Okay” As long as she got to write a lot I knew she wouldn’t care. Then she added, “So the whole To Be or Not To Be?”
“Oh that was just to get everyone’s attention. I had already decided, but it was a pretty good attention grabber right?” I gave her a big shit-eating grin.
She just shook her head and sighed, “Your so juvenile at times.”