Tag Archives: Writer

Survival_FacebookWhew, that was a long intermission. I’m up early this morning thanks to a daughter with a penchant for hitting the snooze button, but with no particular interest in actually getting out of bed. That being the case, I thought this would be a good opportunity to catch up readers of this blog on what’s been happening and what’s coming up.

I know you can hardly wait to get the lowdown on my own personal hoedown of activity.

First and foremost I should come clean on the issue that seems to bug people most. I don’t write every day. There, I said it. To be more accurate I think it might be better to say, I don’t write for publication every day. Weekly, yes. Daily, not a chance. Just like you, I’ve got other fish to fry, other chores to attend to, and maybe even a nap to take in the afternoon.

That nap sounds particularly good right now. Yikes, it’s not even 7AM yet. What’s that say about my lifestyle? Nothing good, I think.

Since I last posted in this space, I’ve been hard at work converting The Lifeboat Augusta series to audiobooks. That work is almost complete. The fifth and final installment, Survival of the Fittest, will be on the market in just a matter of days. That will feel good. A completed project leaves me with a sense of accomplishment. Getting things done is my purpose in life. At least I think it is. So far, anyway.

Of course when I say, “I’ve been hard at work,” what I actually mean is, Elizabeth Phillips has been hard at work. It’s Elizabeth who reads, records, edits, fusses, and fixes every syllable of the five novellas that make up the full series. I simply click a button and listen to her elegant, alluring, oh so feminine voice put life to my words. Read More →

WhiskeySitting down at a desk to write is a gentlemanly act. Even if you’re gifted with an X chromosome in place of the Y version I carry, sitting down to write is still an elegant experience. To plant your posterior in a chair, poise your fingertips over the keys, and open your mind to the possibilities – it’s adventurous and brave. It just is.

Of course there are staples of the writing trade. Pens and pencils come to mind, as do pads of paper, keyboards, Macintosh computers, Michael Dell, the fine people who created NeoOffice, Word, Wordperfect, Scrivener, and a slew of other useful software products. And alcohol.

Of all the alcohol laden options available to a writer, I will state unequivocally that whiskey is the most noble and productive of libations. This, after an exhaustive scientific study that ranged from my desk to the other side of my desk and back again. There, over near the calculator I picked up at Staples on a whim, is a glass of chilled golden liquid that will almost certainly result in this evening being more enjoyable than it might have otherwise been.

Whisky, or as it is referred to it in America, Canada, and Ireland, whiskey, is also a preferred drink of lawyers. Or it should be. Because the rules that distinguish whisky (Scotch) from whiskey (Irish) from Bourbon (American) from Rye (American or Canadian) are a legalistic jumble that no enhanced level of sobriety could possible decrypt. For instance, while American Rye Whiskey must be derived from a concoction of no less than 51 percent rye, Canadian Rye Whiskey may or may not have seen even a single grain of rye involved in the distillation process.  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!

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 11.15.47 AMTo this point in my life and my work, I remain a stalwart of the printed page. That is true, even while I publish ebooks, utilizing the Internet to cut cost and widen the availability of the work I do. I like print. I enjoy the hard-copy product that has been with us for hundreds of years. Although the digital version may be more durable in the long run, the print copy feels traditional and at least a little comforting at times. So I continue to write for print each week, and I like it.

One of the publications I contribute to is a local print publication. The 863 Magazine is an invention of Sergio and Andrea Cruz. Passionate promoters of a lifestyle many aspire to, these two never fail to make me smile when we meet, and always remind me why it is better to live a life you love than it is to covet material wealth above all else. I’m proud to write for 863. The title itself establishes the focus of the magazine – on the people, products, events, and points of interest contained within the 863 area code. Central Florida never looked so authentic.

Like so many local publications, 863 works with some talented writers. I know and like several of them, both personally and professionally. And like a growing number of print publications, 863 is also available digitally. At the very least that means snowbirds who spend the summers up north and the winters down south, can keep up with the goings on in the region via their PC, Mac, tablet, phone, or other device.

My latest contribution to 863 has to do with getting older. I am doing that, for certain. So far I kind of like the journey. But I reserve the right to change my mind. I just hope the trip is as entertaining for you as it has been for me.  Read More →

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. 

 

There is an old and respected adage that says writers should write every day. Certainly, there are writers who do just that. Stephen King famously writes all but two days each year. Oddly perhaps, neither of those two days is Halloween. But that’s beside the point.

Let me pose a simple question. What would you think the point of writing every day is, if you don’t have something to say? Writing is after all a form of story-telling. There has to be a purpose to what you write. The end result may be intended to educate, or entertain, but there has to be a reason the writer sits down, or stands up, or jogs in place to put words on the page. If there’s no reason, no point, no moral, no lesson to be shared – well in that case you’re not a writer, you’re a typist (or a scribbler, as the case may be), and what is the point of that? Read More →

 

It went like this. She asked for an interview, I said yes, and off we went. There are five videos, each involving a single question and answer. I had a great time. Well worth the time it took to conduct the interview. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it, too.

Part 2 is here. Question: Will you only publish in the Ebook format?

Part 3 is here.  Do you like it when readers try to meet you?

Part 4 is here. Where is Abiaka County, Florida?

Part 5 is here.   Question: What made you want to become a writer?

Screen shot 2014-03-01 at 6.20.44 PMLiterature is a gift that can fire the imagination and propel the mind into new discoveries. Then again, literature sometimes contains filthy words that corrupt our young and foster anti-establishment thought processes.

Both the sentences above describe an actual position taken by educational leaders. Amazingly enough both of these positions once existed in the same time and in very nearly the same place. I know. I lived it.  Lucky me.

You see, I spent my elementary school years in East Hartford, Connecticut. It was then and still is a lovely little suburban town known for Pratt and Whitney airplane engines and the ability to supply a nearly endless stream of office workers to the world headquarters of a mind-numbing number of insurance companies  just across the river in Hartford.

Just as I was about to enter high school my family moved to the considerably more affluent, rural and intellectually liberal town of Glastonbury. The two towns share a border. Their inhabitants are almost indistinguishable from one another. Yet there was a stark contrast between the two that could be attributed to a young punk who was causing trouble. His name was, Holden Caulfield. That little bastard swore, and he swore a lot dammit. East Hartford wouldn’t stand for it. Glastonbury on the other hand, embraced him.  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

One of the great gifts that comes from being a freelancer is the ability to work with multiple editors. Many writers don’t experience that advantage. Or at least they don’t get to experience it often enough. Newspaper reporters, for example, often toil under the tutelage of the same editor for years, decades even.

That’s unfortunate.

Having a bevy of editors to your credit gives you an insight that writers with more stable employment just don’t get. You learn that the right way to construct your piece is the way the editor wants it. With apologies to my high school English teachers, I learned early on this simple but often hidden truth; there is no correct way to write in English.

Now I know that’s an incendiary statement. There are no doubt plenty of successful writers, and editors, who will disagree entirely. My evidence is significant, however. It starts, but it does not end, with Strunk and White’s, The Elements of Style. Read More →