Monday, November 9, 2015

Slow progress on 'Walk with Me'... arrggghhhh

I am not a patient man. I work daily on staying focused on things I can do 'now' versus things that will just have to wait. T'aint easy, McGee, t'aint easy. At work, I have 2 or 3 things going at all times. If my brain is not engaged I fall asleep. I would rather be weird than bored.

So the fact that I haven't nailed my latest novel, 'Walk with Me', is driving me bonkers. I would be working on it right now but I'm squeezing my Muse for some better material. It's never a good idea to force your imagination to produce. My Muse is a very fickle lady and right now she's either on vacation somewhere in the Milky Way or tired of hearing me whine. I'm going with the former, it puts me in a better light.

So. What to do?

I'm thinking of setting 'Walk with Me' aside and reviving an old project or starting a new one. I have several stories that are 'this close' to being 'real good'. It would be excellent to have them polished and pub'd.

On the other hand I have several shiny new projects that I'm itching to start on.

I have to do something! I can't sit a home at night and NOT write. It's become so ingrained that I think about plots based on TV commercials, for crying out loud. ;-)

OK. So, I'll just pick one and run with it.

Time to rummage through my outlines and pick a winner!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Just finished 'Revolver' by H.P. Oliver, check out the review!

Check out my review of H.P. Oliver's 'Revolver'. It's another winner from an author I admire and love to read.

H.P. writes in easy, flowing paragraphs, steering you around the streets of Hollywood and cities all around 1930's California. His style is immersive and vivid, getting you into Johnny's head so you can see the evidence and the story as it unfolds.

That's what this post is about, aside from getting you to check out 'Revolver'.


Like H.P. I believe the best stories draw the reader into the lives of characters immediately and hold that interest throughout the plot. You don't have to know which deodorant Johnny, or Jake, my character in the 'Arlo and Jake' series,  uses in the morning. But knowing his favorite beer or car lets you get some subtle 'warm fuzzy' that you understand what motivates the character.

What kind of women is he drawn to? How does he react to rejection? Is he easy to anger or a simmering pot? What does he do when the day is over and it's time to unwind.

It probably means nothing to the plot, but knowing these details immerses the reader into the characters soul, even if it's just a tiny detail like the kind of hat he wears.

H.P. is teaching me that little details matter. They are the pickles on the hamburger. They add flavor.

Go! Pick up your copy of 'Revolver'.

Be Cool.

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!