Sunday, September 27, 2015

Almost there.... or not ;-)

My latest short story, 'Walk with Me', was done. Fini. Finito. In the bag! Check my post on 12 July. I just KNEW I was going to get it done 'soon'. And I did. But...

I gave it to my editors (my wife and my daughter ;-) and waited for the rave reviews. I feel it's another step up the writing ladder in my quest to be a good writer. It has some mysticism in it, but it's primarily a love story about a couple at the end of their lives and how they handle the inevitable.

It has good dialogue, descriptive scenes and some well thought out characters. These are things my editors have harped on, I mean encouraged me to improve upon. I've really been trying to take my time and let more of what's in my mind come through to the page. Less movie script description and more scene development.


The verdict was that it was better and very intriguing. But it's too short.

It's 13,000 words. A short story. So it's OK to be short. Right?

Now to be clear, both my editors read in several book clubs and consume more books than I do. My daughter is an English Major and tutors at the local high school. My wife can read a paragraph and tell you every place it could be improved. I pay attention to their thoughts and criticisms whenever I'm not absolutely sure I want things my way for some reason.

In this case, they are right. Damn!

The 'problem' is that it IS a good story and I DON'T give the reader enough. I short-cut several small plot lines only because I didn't want to put the effort into them. And the book obviously suffers for it. The reader will wonder why the characters feel or act the way they do because I have not guided the reader through those arcs. I tried to do the movie script scene description cheat again. It doesn't work.

The reader deserves to walk in the shoes of my characters and share the reasons for their pain or joy. I should not just describe their feelings, I should take the reader's hand and show them. Get them inside the souls and minds of these people and let them share those feelings.


I'm going to take my time and make a 'full' story. It might still be technically a short story ( < 20,000 words) but it will be a complete story. More likely it will be in the 40,000 to 60,000 words range. I'm not sure at this point. I try not to worry about word length anyway.

It will be worth savoring. The reader will enjoy the ebb and flow and feel complete when the end is reached.

I am an impatient man. I must learn to be a patient writer.

I hope you, my readers and fellow writers, will be satisfied with the effort.

Be cool, my friends.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Writing for fame, fortune or fun...

Talking to friends during a recent vacation to Colorado brought this subject up again. 'Why do you write if you're not a professional writer?"

It takes a ton of time to outline, to research, to push a story forward. You're constantly going back and rewriting, fretting about a sentence or just dumping whole chapters because they're not right.

I could be playing video games, watching movies, reading or playing my guitar. Why spend so much karma on something that won't even break even in the long run.

It's hard to explain, actually. It's not logical, it's emotional. It's not concrete, it's mostly abstract. Once you release your imagination, you don't want to restrain it anymore. Writing gives your imagination an infinite number of Universes in which to roam. Free and wild. The wind in it's hair and the throttle open wide!

So basically it's fun. Right? You bet it is.

No one tells you how to write. These are your heroes and heroines in trouble. Your vicious villains and do-badders.  Your back water mining camps or Space Cowboy shoot outs. You can make the plot funny, dramatic, serious, outrageous (my favorite), mellow, chaotic... whatever you damn well want.

And the more you practice, the better you get. Honest. I'm nowhere near where I want to be but I'm getting better with every book.

For me, so far, it's just for fun. I cannot describe the feeling of reading a cool passage I just wrote. Launching a book is awesome, trust me. The journey to get it launched is billion times more fun.

You got an itch to write. Scratch it, people! Dive in feet first and enjoy it!

Go. Write!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Another Johnny Spicer caper...

I love spreading the word about indie authors I enjoy, and H.P. Oliver is on my list of 'Coolest Writing Dudes and Dudettes'.

I just finished 'Pacifica' by Mr. Oliver. His main character, Johnny Spicer, is an LA gumshoe (google it, kids ;-) with attitude, a nose for adventure and the moxie to back it up. Check out my review under the 'Reviews' page.

I think H.P.'s writing strikes a note with me because the scenes seems to form with no effort on my part. Johnny's office popped out of the page smelling like old newspaper with a faint whiff of whiskey. Classy. The Golden Gate International Exposition on 1939's Treasure Island came to life with all its Art Deco facades, Chinese pavilions, the 'Dog Lady' and more.

It's easy to follow along with Mr. Oliver's story and characters. There are twists and turns to keep you guessing. There are bad guys you can boo at and guys who don't want to be heroes but nevertheless are. Real people. They act like you and I might if we were put in their situations. At least we like to think we would.

Of course, no one knows how they will act when confronted with harrowing dilemmas and life or death decisions, but H.P.'s characters seem to act like 'real' humans would. They make the right decisions most of the time, but very, very wrong decisions other times. That pulls you into Mr. Oliver's characters and makes them approachable. That kind of writing is not an easy.

Take your time with this story, don't rush it. Enjoy going back to a 'simpler' time that really wasn't all that simple to it's occupants.

My advice? Go find an author, and I recommend H.P. Oliver, that you haven't tried. Scan the promo and if it's a story that peaks your interest, buy it and enjoy a new perspective on storytelling.

Oh, yeah. I'd recommend a large pizza with the works and a couple of cold Shiner Bocks for this yarn. Clear your afternoon calendar, hit the patio, settle back into your wicker chair, put your feet up on the ottoman and dive into Johnny Spicer's latest caper.

Be Cool, my friends!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

New challenges and opportunities

It's the middle of July in North Texas and it's finally getting HOT! ;-) The flood waters are starting to recede and the lakes are inching their way down from record overflow levels. My lawn looks super and we even finished the pergola patio with the swing! Whoo Hoo!

The last few months have both flashed and crawled by, depending on what I was doing at the time. The older I get, the more I think about time and the less I have of it. God has a strange sense of humor. It's another thing she and I will discuss when I get to the pearly gates and ask for an audience. I'm sure she'll see me, if for no other reason than to replay all the stupid things I've done here on Earth. She's probably getting a big chuckle out of my optimism right now.

I finally finished and launched book three of my SciFi series 'Arlo and Jake', called 'Lost Partner'. From the reviews I've gotten, I think I finally have the pacing and dialog down and I'm doing a better job of letting my characters do the 'showing' instead of just telling the reader what's happening. I still struggle with my screenplay vs novel writing.

You see, 'Genome' was originally a screenplay back in 2006. When I failed to get any attention for it in Hollywood (surprise, surprise!) I decided to convert it to a novel. Even now I rework it occasionally, trying to make it less of a director's script and more of a true novel. (NOTE: Hey Hollywood, I'm still up for a movie deal! ;-)

I also launched my first novelette or stand alone short story, 'Etchings'. It's available on Kindle and Smashwords if you're interested (please! ;-). Instead of hopping right onto book four of the Arlo and Jake series I decided to try finishing and publishing a few of short stories. 'Etchings' created a little buzz for me and I'm hoping it will catch on and introduce readers to my other books.

My next short is 'Walk with Me'. It's about half finished. I expect to publish it in a month or two. Then it's back to Arlo and Jake or maybe improve Genome or maybe a kid's spin off from Genome I have in mind.


I have lots of new writing opportunities just waiting for my attention. So do you. Just sit down and work out the top story that is nagging for you attention and go do it. If other ideas come to you, great! Write down a quick synopsis and add them to your list of Todos. Then go back and work on that top story. Finish it. Love it. Pamper it. But don't let go of it until it's birthed.

Be Cool.
Be Happy.
Just Be.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

'Etchings', a Colorado ghost story...

I've been working on this short story, off and on, for several years. I'd play with it and then set it to the side; it never really seemed to flow right and I didn't have a good ending.

Last weekend I was looking through my 'To Do' writing list for something I could complete while stuck in the house. I have several short stories and a few 'what if' outlines that I'm always tweaking and playing with.

I read and reread what I had so far in 'Etchings', looking for a good ending. While staring out the back patio, it came to me. It was like I was standing in that tiny deserted mountain town, next to the neglected graves. I saw how Alan and Lizzie were caught up in the brewing storm and how they resolved the mystery.

I spent half a day writing and rewriting the conclusion and then going back through the story several times, tying up some loose ends and fixing my tenses again. ;-)

I'm happy with the results and I hope you get a chance to enjoy it as well.

Bring a rain coat. ;-)

'Etchings' a ghost story  <--------