Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Exercising Constitutional Rights

I'm somewhat amazed, perhaps a bit befuddled, by those who have a problem with people protesting the election of Donald Trump as president. 

It's especially disheartening when it comes from bona  fide journalists who seem to believe that folks should simply accept the outcome of the election and move on with their lives. 
However, I'm not surprised by the outrage of "fake" news journalists who try to put a negative spin on anything that doesn't align with their extremist agenda.

U.S. citizens need to remember, or realize, that protest is one of our First Amendment rights, one that should be cherished—along with freedom of religion, speech, and the press. For those who haven't read it since high school, here's what it states:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Whether it's the Women's March on Washington this weekend, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Civil Rights March on Washington in 1963, Occupy Wall Street, Tea Party protests, anti-Vietnam War protests in 1960s, women's suffrage marches in the early 1920s,and others (labor, environment, human and animal rights, and more), shouldn't we accept and respect these fundamental exercises in democracy?

They are simply letting their voices be heard, rather than remaining silent and letting things run their course. It sure beats apathy, and later, regret, for not speaking out.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." — Martin Luther King Jr.

Until the next time. . .


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Progress Report -- Third Draft Completed

I've now completed three drafts of my manuscript. Please hold the applause because I'm only about halfway through the process of turning a story into a published novel.

The third rewrite added about 7,000 more words, bringing the total to about 87k. The first draft had about 70k words.  It grew because I've been filling in gaps and holes. As I've posted before (as well as countless other authors), the idea is to get your story down in the first draft, warts and all, then go back and clean and fix it up.

I'll be starting on the fourth draft a couple hours after I post this to my blog (and eat breakfast, play with the doggies, do a few chores, etc.). I can see the manuscript grow another 3k if scenes need to be expanded. I may even add more subplots and backstory along the way.

Or it could have fewer words after going through the chapters if I find passages that should be deleted or rewritten. Dialogue will also be scrutinized.

During the last rewrite, I took copious notes to help me navigate through the manuscript. I also made revisions and edits along the way. It's a time-consuming process but something that has to be done--by the writer.

My hope to is go over the manuscript one more time, followed by a deep read to make sure it flows (and makes sense), and then forward it to my editor, by the end of this month, for her edits and comments.

Until the next time. . .  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Progress Report -- Second Draft Completed

It took me nearly seven weeks, but I've completed the second draft of the sequel to "Old Ways and New Days." 

I have the standard excuses for taking so long in going over the manuscript -- holidays, personal reasons, and private matters. And there were probably a few  things I had no control over or not aware off when working on it. But I didn't quit.  Not that I would have.

Since New Year's Day, I made tremendous progress, if I do so so myself, working two or three hours each day editing and rewriting each page. It's a time-consuming process, one that can be mentally draining (especially on my overworked brain), but it had to be done. 

The manuscript was about 70,000 words after the first draft; now it's about 79k. If things work out like they have in the past with my other novels, it will probably grow another 5k or so before finished.

I'll get started on the third draft this afternoon. I'll be tying together some loose ends, providing a bit more backstory, and filling in some holes and cutting out others to tighten and strengthen the manuscript.

As mentioned in other posts, I want to complete the rewrites by the end of January, and sooner would be better, before handing it over to my editor.

Now to rest my tired eyes for a few hours. 

Until the next time.... 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Looking Ahead in 2017

As I wrote in my previous post, 2016 wasn't the best of years for me in terms of writing. And there were a few other events that didn't help matters.

But 2016 is history. Now it's time to forge ahead into the new year.

So here are a few of my goals for 2017:
  • Get in a set routine to write a minimum of two hours each day. As noted in other posts, the best time for me is in the pre-dawn hours because it's the most productive part of the day without the countless distractions.
  • Finish the manuscript for the sequel to "Old Ways and New Days" (I have a working title but I'm not revealing it at this point) and hand it over to my editor. I hope to see it published in the spring.
  •  Write six more short stories to complete the second volume to "Laments," to be released in late summer.
  • Get started on the third installment in the OWND series. I already know what it's going to focus on, but I need to finish the second book. I'm not the multi-tasker I used to be. Must be an age thing. Either that or I have too much on the table so I'm scaling back.
  • Write more posts to this blog. I'd also like to increase the followers (you can help me with that goal) here and on my Facebook page. 
  •  Participate in more literary events. I'm already committed to the Southern Kentucky Book Fest in Bowling Green and the Authors Fair in La Grange, Ky., both in April. I'd like to do more presentations at libraries and senior citizens centers and retirement homes.  By the way, my series falls under the boomer lit genre -- aimed for baby boomers. Feel free to email me.
  • My goal in Goodreads (feel free to connect or follow me) is to read a minimum of 24 books; that's two a month. I hope to exceed that count because I know reading strengthens my writing. Furthermore, I love to read and that's the best reason of all.
  • I also plan to travel more this year because it expands my mind and informs my writing. My tentative plans include South America, Washington, D.C., New England, and a few day trips to places in my home state of Kentucky.
Please feel free to share your writing goals. I'd love to hear from you. 

Until the next time....

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in Review

This wasn't the best year for me in terms of writing. I had good intentions but found myself sidetracked on reaching certain goals.

I hate to make excuses, but it's a human thing. Writers aren't excluded. We may be more guilty than most folks in staying focused on projects.

Certain things happened over the course of 2016 that made it difficult for me to concentrate on my works in progress. I've written it before, and I'll write it again: Sometimes life gets in the way.

Because of those major distractions, I wasn't able to publish a second volume to my "Laments" short stories. That will be a continued goal for the new year. We'll see.

I wasn't able to complete a sequel to "Old Ways and New Days." I did finish the first draft, but I'm still stuck in the second. I wanted to get started on the third draft on Jan. 1, but that won't happen, at least for another week. My desired goal is to have the manuscript ready for the publisher by the end of January. We'll see.

And because I dragged my literary feet on the sequel, I failed to reach another goal of starting another book in the OWND series. My intention is to do that in the spring. Again, we'll see.

I simply hope things will be more settled in 2017 so I can concentrate on my writing goals. We'll see.

For all the writers who follow this blog, I wish you a success in reaching your goals in 2017.

Until the next time....


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Justin Hayward Concert Tickets

I must have been a good boy in 2016 because I scored some nice tickets for Justin Hayward's "The Wind of Heaven" concert tour.

Hayward, the singer, songwriter, and guitarist for the legendary Moody Blues, will be performing at the Lexington Opera House on Feb. 14.
Justin Hayward

 I had received several email notifications about the concert, and my son Justin heard announcements on the radio about the event and texted me about the date. He thought it would be a lovely way to spend Valentine's evening with his mom so I  put it on my calendar.

This morning at 10, I was on the Ticketmaster website to see if I could get decent tickets. It was a slow process and I was about to give up after an excruciating 25 minutes. 

I chose the option of letting Ticketmaster find two tickets, but the best it could do were rows J and K, and the seats weren't next to each other. 

So I gave it one final shot of finding seats, thinking they would be on the second level (which I wouldn't want). But to my amazement, perhaps a bit of shock, there were two tickets on the second row from the stage. 

Are you kidding me? 

I told my wife Mary what was available and she said go for it.  And I got them. Whoopee!

There will be four seats between us, but that's not a big deal. I mean, we bought the tickets to see and hear Justin Hayward perform, not to sit next to each other. For a couple of hours we'll get lost in the music, something that would have happened regardless of our seats. And then we'll sit next to each other on the way home in the car and (hopefully) talk about a wonderful concert by one of our favorite performers.

I'm not much of a concert-goer these days. I don't like large crowds, dealing with the traffic and parking, and poor acoustics.  Those things shouldn't be much of a problem at the Lexington Opera House.

Hayward, who recently turned 70,  presents a more intimate performance on the tour, playing an acoustic guitar, accompanied by guitarist extraordinaire Mike Dawes and keyboardist/backup vocalist Julie Ragins.

I recently purchased Hayward's "All The Way" CD, a compilation of some of his solo recordings since the mid-1970s. My only regret is that it has only  15 songs; it could have been a two-disc set, featuring other tunes from his songbook.

Now the countdown begins to the show. I'm looking forward to the new year.

Until the next time....


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Morning is the Write Time for Me

My writing routine is usually in the predawn hours, when most people are sleeping, coffee aroma wafts from the kitchen to my study, the TV is silent, and the telephone isn't ringing.

That's the most productive time of the day for me to put my thoughts and feelings on the screen.

I've often noted that it is especially important while writing the first draft, to minimize the chance of distractions cropping up along the way.

Now I must say that morning is probably the best time to work on rewrites. Why? Because the author still needs to be in an environment conducive to expressing oneself.

I'm currently working on the second draft of a manuscript, one that I hope to complete by the end of the year. And it's been frustrating, for the most part. Why? Because I find it nearly impossible to get into the flow of the story because of countless distractions.

If it's not someone knocking on the front door, it's the phone ringing (usually a telemarketer). Then there are chores that have to be done during the course of the day, usually in the afternoon and early evening. There is some home construction going on in the neighborhood so I hear hammering and vehicles going back and forth. And yes, I admit, the Internet beckons like a tempting siren from time to  time.

I'm not saying morning is the best time for you. We all have our preferred times for writing because of  work, parenting, and other obligations. I have some author friends who like to write close to the midnight hour, for much the same reasons I like the morning.

But for me, it's back to the morning grind. I can almost smell the coffee.

Until the next time....