Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Time Flies, but I Won't Today

My wife and I had been counting down the days to our next trip to Europe—until the COVID-19 went from a Chinese epidemic to a global pandemic.

And today (April 8) we had reservations to board a United Airlines flight at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Ky., with stops in Washington and Frankfurt, Germany. The long journey would end the following day in Sofia, Bulgaria.
A few items set aside for the trip.

Over the next 10 days were going to travel to Belgrade, Serbia, and Bucharest, Romania. Along the way, we were going to sightsee places such as the Rila Monastery in Bulgaria, the Belgrade Fortress, Bran (Dracula) Castle in Romania, and the People's Palace in Bucharest. And a lot more.

Instead, we're self-quarantined in Kentucky, and patiently waiting for this world-wide scourge to pass so we can fulfill our trip to Eastern Europe.

Of course, we're disappointed but that's life. We'll survive and enjoy trips on another day, here and abroad. 

But the one thing we can't get back is time. When you reach a certain age, you realize the opportunities for travel (and other interests) dwindle and time is of the essence and something that shouldn't be taken for granted.

So stay healthy and safe. 

Until the next time . . .

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Still Plodding and Plotting Along on Manuscript

Taking longer than expected, I've completed a line edit on a printed copy of my work in progress. 

It took about six weeks, which was about six times longer than I thought it would. I have a bagful of excuses but will save them for another post if folks are interested. 

What I'll do now is make the red-marked changes to the manuscript along with other notations about transitional sentences and paragraphs, expanding passages, and filling some plot holes on the pages. 

I like a printed copy because it seems more like reading a book if that makes any sense. I have an author friend who also prints his manuscript, but with margins similar to a book page. I'm too lazy for that, plus I like to conserve on the paper.

I do hope to complete this next task in the next week unless unforeseen problems hamper my progress. I am staying semi-quarantined during the coronavirus pandemic so that should help me stay focused. Unless I get contract the disease.

So if all goes well, the fourth novel in my John Ross Boomer Lit series may see the light of day in 2020. 

Until the next time . . . 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Give Me Some Leg Room and Stay Out of My Space

A recent article in USA Today reported on a minor altercation between two passengers on an American Eagle flight over an issue of personal space in the economy section. 

One passenger took offense with a woman seated in front of him reclining her seat. He was so upset that he began punching the back of the seat -- nine times! Watch it here

While I understand the man's anger, whacking the seat with fists isn't going to solve the problem. As long as seats can recline, some people are going to use them. Even Delta CEO Ed Bastian believes the woman should have asked before reclining her seat. 

This is NOT an airline seat

I don't recline anymore, even on trans-Atlantic flights when I'm overcome by fatigue. The reason I don't is that I've experienced passengers doing it to me on several occasions. I've had food or drinks on my tray nearly knocked over on me by persistent pushbacks. One time on an Air France flight, the person kept bouncing back and forth before it finally dawned on him that he wasn't sitting in a recliner. 

There's barely enough legroom, and compound that with someone pushing their seat back, if only a few inches, it's almost like they're sitting in your lap. I'm not a tall person, but I can imagine what it must be like for a big person to encounter a seat less than two feet from their nose. 

The only solution is for the airlines to lock the seats in place so folks can't move their seats back. Smarter Travel offers five rules for those who insist or reclining. 

In the meantime, I wish passengers would show respect toward others in those cramped quarters. And that also includes kicking the back of someone's seat (perhaps in retaliation to the recliner), removing shoes and propping up smelly feet on armrests or back of seats, sharing armrests (especially for the person stuck in the middle), and general cleanliness. 

Do you have any gripes?

Until the next time . . .  

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Story Songs for Valentine's Day

Since love is in the air this time of the year, I've got a few songs for Valentine's Day, or any day listening for the lovestruck.

It's been four years since I posted music for Valentine's Day. My first was in 2013

Here are my love offerings for 2020—five feel-good songs because love should make a person feel good:

The inimitable Sam Cooke released "Cupid," in 1961, a song he penned that reached No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The timeless tune has been covered by many artists through the years such as Johnny Nash (No. 39 in 1969), Tony Orlando and Dawn (No. 22 in 1976), and Amy Winehouse (2007). 

"Cupid draw back your bow
And let your arrow go
Straight to my lover's heart for me, for me"

In 1969, the Spiral Starecase recorded a No. 12 hit with "More Today Than Yesterday." It was written by Pat Upton, the group's lead singer and guitarist. Among the artists who covered the song are Sonny & Cher, Chicago, and Patti Austin. 

"I don't remember what day it was
I didn't notice what time it was
All I know is that I fell in love with you
And if all my dreams come true
I'll be spending time with you"

Another hit from 1969 was the mellow "Everyday with You Girl," a No. 19 song from the Classics IV and lead singer Dennis Yost. It was written by Buddy Buie, a prolific Southern songwriter who was inducted in both the Georgia (1984) and Alabama (1997) music hall of fame. 

"And when I go to sleep at night time
Tomorrow's what I'm praying for
'Cause everyday with you girl
Is sweeter than the day before"

The fourth song on this year's list is "How Deep Is Your Love," written and performed by the legendary Bee Gees—Barry, Robin, and Maurice. The timeless classic that topped the charts in December 1977. 

"I know your eyes in the morning sun
I feel you touch my hand in the pouring rain
And the moment that you wander far from me
I wanna feel you in my arms again"

The fifth song is John Berry's "Your Love Amazes Me," a No. 1 country hit in 1994. The soulful tune was written by Amanda Hunt-Taylor and Chuck Jones. 

"I've seen a sunset that would make you cry
And colors of the rainbow, reaching cross the sky
The moon in all it's phases
Your love amazes me"

I hope you enjoyed this love trip down memory lane. I'll try to remember to do it again next year. 

With love . . .

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Five Rewrites and More to Go

It took a while but I finished the fifth rewrite on my work in progress. That's my main excuse for not posting here in more than a month.

I have other reasons but I'm not going to bore you with a list of things that distracted me. If you're a writer, I'm sure we share many rationalizations.

As a reminder, I'm working on the fourth book in the "John Ross Boomer Lit" series. 

First book in series

 What I did after completing the latest rewrite was to print it. I usually do this so it will provide a different view for me for editing. I find it easier to go over the manuscript when it's in my hands; perhaps the reason is that I come from a tradition as a newspaper editor/reporter (remember newspapers?). Anyone else print their manuscript?

Here are a few things that I'll be looking for as I peruse the pages with my red pen:

  • The chronology is correct.
  • Repeated words and phrases.
  • Unnecessary dialogue and description.
  • Names and places consistent.
  • Expand narrative and dialogue when needed to explain circumstances.
  • Anything else that catches my eyes (you'll be surprised by what you can discover).

Second book in series

I do hope the sixth rewrite won't take as long as the fifth.  I will admit that I printed the manuscript several days ago and giving it a rest before delving back into the 72k words. I can go back and rewrite with somewhat fresh eyes. I'll also admit that my eyes aren't what they used to be so the sixth rewrite may take as long as the fifth.   

Third book in series
Speaking of words, I do hope to cut out 10k or so. I've come to believe that most readers prefer shorter works (unless it's Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Donna Tartt, etc.). Why? People don't have the time for long works because of other things tugging at them and because there are so many books out there now and so little time. Your thoughts?

Anyway, I do have a title for the book that I'll disclose at some other time. The novel should still be on course to be published this year. 

Until the next time . . .

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 . . .