Tag Archives: Author

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 10.11.59 AMSome months ago I was on a train, headed from Washington D.C. to central Florida. I like traveling by train. Or at least, I find I am more likely to enjoy a train ride than I am to enjoy the cattle call cluster of a mess that commercial air travel has become. What I never expected however was an evening of thoroughly satisfying conversation that included an excellent book recommendation. I guess sometimes, you get more than you pay for.

My table mates at dinner were an older couple on their way to catch a cruise ship in south Florida.  As we rolled through Virginia, the husband, a large, jovial man with a gift for conversation and a zest for life, matched me story for story. Retired now, he related that when he was a working stiff, he’d been a doctor. An anesthesiologist in fact. I found this ironic. How was it possible such an excellent conversationalist could have made his living by putting people to sleep?

The world is full of oddities. Thank goodness we stumble upon them from time to time.

During dinner, when the subject of books came up, as it invariably does, his smile brightened up to an even higher wattage than he’d shown to that point, exclaiming that his niece had just published a book that he was quite proud of. He said it was good. Funny, perceptive, and well worth reading. Yet he admitted with some slight embarrassment that he wouldn’t say the title out loud. Instead, he fumbled for his phone, tapped away for several seconds, then showed me the screen. On that little Chinese built glass panel was the cover of Amy Alkon’s masterwork, Good Manners for Nice People who Sometimes Say F*CK. Read More →

Have I ever mentioned how much I love Jane Waters Thomas? There are very few occurrences in my workday that are more enjoyable than spending time with Jane. She’s creative, adorable, curious, dedicated, and apparently indefatigable. Throw in a a few cameras, a production facility, and enough free to time really stretch out and talk about whatever crosses her mind, and you’re in for a good time. At least I was. I submit this video clip as evidence. Her interview in the Writers Den at PGTV is one of the more enjoyable interactions I’ve had while promoting my work. I only hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

On with the show!

Blurred Desktop editSometimes I write off the top of my head. It’s a stream of consciousness method of storytelling, and it works. Admittedly, it’s slow. There are lots of edits, re-writes, ill-conceived plot points, and quirky characters that don’t always measure up in the end. Those characters often die an ugly death at the hands of my keyboard long before you see or hear from them. Most of them still exist in some form. After all, there are multiple drafts of a book. The original often bears only a passing resemblance to the finished product.

That’s not a bad thing, incidentally. Like a songwriter polishing the arrangement of a song, or a painter tweaking the colors and shading of an image, the writer has the artistic license to rearrange words, add or remove passages, edit at will, or delete as necessary. To get the story you want to tell in the shape it deserves to be in, sometimes you have to smear a little ink, lose a couple pages, and maybe insert a few adverbs or adjectives that were inadvertently left out of the original version.

All that is well in front of me at the moment, however. I’m in the outline phase. The new novel is taking shape. The characters are finding names, motivations, quirks of their personality, and maybe even a bit of a personal history. They have to be full fledged characters if the story is going to really work. For the reader to believe in the characters, they have to be real. Some are intended to be likable. Others are meant to be odious. And at least a few of the minor characters are little more than window dressing. Just like that guy from work who looks so familiar, but you don’t see him often so you can never really recall any specifics about him. That’s why you say, “Hey, how are you?” when you see him on Mondays. No name. No specifics are exchanged. Just a generic, “What’s up, man.” That’s safe when you’re dealing with window dressing disguised as actual people.

See! Fiction is just like real life. Some of the information matters. Some of it doesn’t. A handful of characters are central to the story, but most of them aren’t. Real life, fiction, they’re disturbingly similar. Occasionally they’re so similar it’s hard to tell them apart.

Maybe that’s why readers keep asking me if Burritos and Gasoline is based on my real life? It’s a good question. It’s a fair question. But I’ve dealt with that one enough. The better question is, Are any of the characters in the Lifeboat Augusta series based on my real life? Ah ha! Nobody has asked me that yet. Not in public anyway.

The new novel is tentatively titled, “Island Life.” And I will divulge little about it here. But I will drop these few breadcrumbs for those who have followed me this far. The story begins in New York City. It deals with finance, greed, fear, and the basic building blocks of human motivation. Then it takes a turn.

I’m not going to tell you the rest. That wouldn’t be right. You’ll just have to wait and read it for yourself when it’s done. Right now the story has taken the shape of a highly detailed outline that gives me all the motivation I need to start filling out the portraits of these poor, pitiful, comically misguided people. Their story needs to be told. And I’m going to do just that, doggone it.

Oops, time to get to work. Bye, bye, for now.

Editors note: This post was written in haste and has not benefited from an editorial review. If you find an error, congratulations. Unfortunately there is no prize other than the rich knowledge that you found an error on the Internet. Alert the media. They’ll be fascinated, no doubt. 

 

BinaryChoices3DBinary Choices is the fourth installment of the five part Lifeboat Augusta series. It’s been written, edited, tweaked, re-edited, and is currently in the final stages of production. It will be released shortly to an audience of readers who have been patiently awaiting the next chapters of the story.

They will be pleased, surprised, and left hungry for more I’m sure.

Although much of my writing career has been focused on paper and ink, the Lifeboat Augusta series has not been. Occasionally I’m asked why. And so I’ll tell you.

Publishing has gone through two massive transitions in my life. First, it went from linotype operators and hot lead to the computer age. Edits were done without paper or pencil. The typewriter was replaced by the keyboard and an entire page could be laid out without setting a single letter into a steel form for the printer to use.

A few decades later the second change was to the publications themselves, not just the means of creating them. Ebooks came into being. No more paper, no more warehouses or delivery systems or stinky old trucks are necessary to produce a story and move it from the author’s desk into your hands. It’s all digital now. I like that. In fact, I like that development quite a bit.  Read More →

Sometimes people ask me why I so routinely include music in the fiction I write. Burritos and Gasoline, is thick with musical references. So much so that a fan in England wrote to ask if I would consider compiling a soundtrack package to accompany the book.

I liked that idea.

To be completely honest, I include music in my writing because music has always been a major influence to my life. It’s a key to the American experience as I see it. From my earliest memories of my mother singing show tunes around the house, to my first glimpse of the Beatles, the Stones, the Byrds, and the Lovin’ Spoonful on Ed Sullivan’s variety show, to the band my friends Mark and Bob and I formed in the seventh grade – music has been one of the great joys of my life. Read More →

Screen shot 2014-02-18 at 7.10.37 PMSam Torode is simply amazing. His first novel, The Dirty Parts of the Bible, has outsold his wildest dreams. For a writer, that’s a big deal. As it should be.

The two of us became acquainted a couple years ago when I reached out and contacted Sam completely out of the blue. Thankfully, rather than calling the police to insist on a restraining order, Sam returned the favor, opening a line of communication that I have come to sincerely appreciate. In this discussion he’s unguarded  about his writing process, admits to an occasional bout with writer’s block, and expresses real surprise at the popularity of his debut novel. This episode of the podcast shows real insight into a true artist.

I’ve come to think a lot of Sam Torode and his work. If you haven’t read, The Dirty Parts of the Bible yet, please do. And click the link that will take you to a truly engaging conversation with a thoughtful, talented man. By the time the closing music plays, I think you’ll be glad you did.

Play

SmallCover_JPGHow would you like to be honored, celebrated, immortalized even – with your name in a book? Pretty cool, huh? Well, hang on tight, Skippy. This post just might hold the secret to your big chance to see your name in print.

Traditionally, there are three ways to get your name in a book. They are, as follows.

1) Write a book. This is by far the slowest, most work-intensive, and frustrating way to get your name into a book. Plus, it requires you to write a lot. That alone has caused many a successful person to terminate their own existence rather than face the pencil, the pen, the typewriter, or the keyboard one more time. Slow and risky, but it’s a viable method. And so we move on to option… Read More →