Thursday, January 2, 2020

Staying Focused in New Year

It's been a slow process but I finished the second rewrite of my work-in-progress. Whew!

As mentioned in a previous post, there were several distractions during the holidays. But since Christmas, I focused on the manuscript and reached the end.

Along the way, I added about 8,000 words; that's about 12,000 fewer of my guestimate of 20,000 going in. At this point, I have a little over 68k. 

For those new to this blog, the WIP is the fourth installment in my "John Ross Boomer Lit" series. John and Sally Ross have returned from Budapest and are having to deal with a new set of concerns at their Kentucky home.

Here's a simple quote from the great Stephen King about rewriting: "I cannot emphasize the importance of rewriting."

The second rewrite was a learning experience for me: 
  • I learned that the manuscript was going off the rails and needed to get back on track (pardon the cliche).
  • I took notes and will be slicing and dicing in the third rewrite to make it coherent and focused.
  • Even at 68k words, the manuscript is still bloated. I'll trim the fat, tighten the dialogue, and perhaps expand some of the narrative to gain a clearer vision.

Each stage of writing a novel provides joy and despair. I find rewriting to be hard work where I have to deal with all aspects of writing, from grammar to storyline to ending—and everything else (dialogue, characters, scenes, descriptions, etc.). 

Where writing the first draft is kind of a mental free-for-all, the rewriting is getting into the trenches to reach the destination. It's down and dirty work, something I dread going in but relish once I dig into the words.

I still have the goal of completing the manuscript and sending it to my editor by the end of January. If I have any resolutions in this new year, that's the first one. The second is to be more focused on my writing in 2020 (pun intended). And a third is to see this manuscript published.

Until the next time . . .

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Slow Progress on New Novel

I have to admit that progress on my latest novel has been painfully slow. 

This novel is the fourth book in the John Ross Boomer Lit series. It's been percolating in my computer for several months. 

I have excuses. Don't most, if not all, writers have excuses when they're dragging their feet on manuscripts and projects? 

Here are a few of mine:

  • The holiday season that runs from Thanksgiving (Nov. 28) through New Year's Day. 
  • The impeachment hearings that has dominated the news for more than a month. Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you lean, I think it's important as an American citizen to stay informed. I'm glad we have a holiday break from it all.
  • Several days I had flu-like symptoms that kept me from working. I don't concentrate well when under the weather. 
  • I've discovered that I can't stay focused on my work for more than several hours when I'm not under the weather. My eyes get tired from staring at the screen. That necessitates lying down and resting my eyes for an hour or so.
  • I get mentally exhausted from reading and rewriting, much sooner than I did as a younger man. And that also necessitates lying down for a short nap for an hour or so.
  • I get distracted by other activities going on in my life. I'm not the multi-tasker I used to be in my younger days.  
However, my goal is to complete this second rewrite by the end of the year (2019, that is). And I want to finish revisions and send the manuscript off to my Wings ePress editor by the end of January so it will be published in 2020. That's my plan and I intend to stick to it! 

When finished with that goal, I want to begin work on the fifth book in the John Ross Boomer Lit series. Only time will tell.

Until the next time . . . 

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Bluegrass Writers Coalition: From Pen to Page

I'm a founding member of the Bluegrass Writers Coalition, formed about 18 months ago in Frankfort, Ky., to discuss everything related to reading and writing. 

We get together the second Thursday of each month at the local Panera Bread Co. and share our thoughts about poetry, fiction, nonfiction, promotion, marketing, or whatever anyone cares to discuss in the one-hour meeting (we set the alarm to ring one hour after our 5:30 p.m. start). We also have brief readings and share our work as we build the writing community.

We have about 20 members but usually around 12 to 15 show up for meetings since many of them work full-time jobs. Our ages range from the 20s to the 70s. We have newbies and published authors. No dues. No commitments. Just show up when you can.

It's an eclectic group of interesting men and women from  various backgrounds and vocations who simply enjoy writing and reading. And on top of that, we seem to like each other so you might say we're a social group as well. 

This past summer we decided to publish an anthology, with members submitting novel excerpts, short stories, poems, essays, and creative nonfiction works. The result was the 154-page "From Pen to Page: a selection of writings from  the Bluegrass Writers Coalition," published in late October. It's available in print and ebook (and just in time for Christmas gift-giving). 

The book is dedicated to Mark Kinnaird, a founding member who passed away unexpectedly last summer at age 59.  Besides an insightful poet, Mark was a staffer at the Paul Sawyer Public Library in Frankfort, involved in book clubs and the annual Gathering of Authors" event as well as other responsibilities. He loved the written word.

Our group has other plans such as book signings and public readings. Other activities may develop in the coming months.

Feel free to join us at our next meeting on Dec. 12 (or any meeting on the second Thursday of the month). We also have a Facebook page if you want to learn more about BWC.

Until the next time . . .  

Thursday, November 7, 2019

More for Boomers -- OK Boomer

An interesting story I read this week compared the generation label "boomer" to the "N" word. 

According to news reports, Rochester, N.Y., radio host Bob Lonsberry tweeted that boomer was the "... n-word for ageism." Lonsberry is 60.

USA Today reported the phrase "'OK, boomer,' has been used on the video-sharing app TikTok by Generation Z and millennials (also known as Generation Y) to show their resentment toward baby boomers."

The Independent's story  noted that Lonsberry criticized the phrase because it was "typically used to jab older folks for espousing seemingly outdated views."

I've heard boomer all my life and never considered it a derogatory term. I'm a boomer and proud to wear the badge. I've seen and experienced a lot of things in my boomer life. And perhaps I'm too old to care. That's another thing that comes with growing older.

Lonsberry, who has since deleted the tweet, apparently faced an avalanche of criticism for making the word comparison, according to the USA Today story. 

From the "The Mo'Kelly Show" host: "Just because something is insulting, it doesn't make the N-word sporto. Nobody died connected with it. Nobody was enslaved or segregated in conjunction with it. Just stop."

Actor John Mulaney, quoted by a Twitter user, said, "If you're comparing the badness of two words and you won't even say one of them, that's the worse word."

I'm not going to castigate Mr. Lonsberry. Maybe he was feeling down since reaching the big six-oh. Since he deleted the tweet, my guess is that he probably wishes he had used a different word, such as old, elderly, or senior. And there are plenty of other words that have been used to describe my generation.

Yep, words do matter, so choose wisely. 

Your thoughts?


If you're looking for information on the Internet about boomers, check out the "Top 100 Baby Boomer Blogs & Websites to Follow in 2019."

The blogs and websites cover a wide array of topics such as health, finances, careers, relationships, travel, grandparenting, and more. You can also subscribe to those that pique your interest. 

Until the next time . . .

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

On the Second "(Re)Write" Track

It's back to work on the work in progress, this time on the second rewrite. 

The first rewrite was quite a chore since I hadn't looked at the manuscript in six months or so. It took much longer than I expected to go through the 60k-plus words, about 10 arduous weeks. 

This time should go more quickly, perhaps even 10 days, if I don't encounter too many distractions along the way. That's another reason I spend most of my time in the early hours working on a manuscript. 

I generally go through 10 or 11 rewrites before I'm satisfied enough to submit it to my editor at Wings ePress. That's not to say she receives a perfect manuscript; far from it. But I do hope it creates less work for her in the long run in that she can focus more on story than on other elements.

As noted in previous posts, this novel will be the fourth in the John Ross Boomer Lit series. In the last novel, New Horizons, the story focused on John and Sally Ross's trip to Budapest. Now they're back home in Kentucky and dealing with domestic adventures of various and sundry sorts, to put it lightly. Retirement isn't what John expected when he left the newspaper business. 

What I try to do in a second rewrite (and probably every rewrite to clean and fine-tune) is to add/delete descriptions, tighten dialogue, make grammatical and spelling corrections, and delve more into characters to show their motivations and what makes them tick. 

And I'll add or expand scenes to enhance the story and delete others that bog down the flow or don't add to the overall development of the plot/subplots.  

Until the next time . . .   

Friday, October 18, 2019

Boomer Websites

As an author of novels for baby boomers, also known as boomer lit, there are websites I read regularly to keep up-to-date on what is happening with the generation born from 1946-64. 

I have a keen interest in baby boomers. It's important for me to know the issues and concerns of those I'm writing about in this genre. And as a boomer, I'd be reading visiting these to see what is going on with those in my age group. 

I recently wrote about my hearing loss and getting hearing aids. It helped me understand this health issue from the viewpoint of others about this problem, both professional and personal.    

I also like to be informed about issues that I may encounter before my brief time on Earth is over. And it's not only health matters. There are financial and social matters that concern me. 

By keeping up with the various issues, it informs my writing and makes it relatable to my readers. I also gather information in other ways, such as chats with family and friends and other media (TV, books, movies, etc.)

Here's a shortlist of websites I frequent:

AARP —  The website is targeted for those 50 and over so it also brings in those who hit that magic number this year (Generation X). It's an all-encompassing site that provides useful information on health (such as Medicare, prescription, drugs, etc.), leisure, travel, and finance. 

Baby Boomers — This useful destination provides information on topics such as travel, healthy living, relationships, nutrition and more.  

Boomer Cafe — This site offers wide-ranging topics such as retirement, health, fitness, politics, and an active lifestyle. I receive a first-person story in my email each morning from boomers sharing their life experiences.

Growing Bolder — As part of the Growing Bolder Broadcasting that is seen nationally, the site focuses on active and inspirational lifestyles for older folks.  Not surprisingly,  the site contains quite a few interesting videos.  

Next Avenue — Like AARP, this site is aimed toward those 50 and over. It includes topics such as caregiving, health, work, and technology. It is affiliated with the Public Broadcasting System and produced by Twins Cities PBS.

I also read articles about boomers in MSN, HuffPost, WebMD, and other sites. 

Do you have any recommendations?

Until the next time . . .  


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

More to Do on WIP

I finished the first rewrite of my work in progress and discovered there's a lot more to do on the second rewrite. It took longer than I expected, about 10 weeks, and there's a good reason for the extra time on the manuscript.

As mentioned in a long-ago post, when working on "New Horizons," I decided to break up the manuscript because it was running too long and going off in another direction.
What I've learned after working on the second half of the manuscript is that the story hasn't ended. I have nearly 61,000 words saved and will probably need to write another 20k—so I'm about three-fourths of the way to "The End."

I recalled, when it abruptly ended today, that it was at that point about a year ago when I decided to turn it into the fourth book in the "John Ross Boomer Lit" series. For some reason I thought I had finished it. It must have been a senior moment!  

I'll delve back into the manuscript, knowing what's been written and where it's likely to go. My goal is to have the manuscript ready to send to my editor at Wings ePress by the end of the year, if not sooner.  I'm hopeful that this novel will be published in 2020. Good vibes sent my way will be appreciated. 

One thing I've learned from this experience is that I won't be breaking up a manuscript again. Once started on a book, I'll stick with it until the very end. 

Until the next time . . .