Friday, May 31, 2013

A Break in the Action

I took advice from a couple of my blog followers (thanks Roger and Elizabeth) and decided to give my manuscript a rest for a week or so.

During that time I've written a notes, ruminated, and slept on the story. I plan to get back to it in the next few days with fresh eyes and ideas.

I've thought about the characters a lot, and in my mind's eye, they have become more vivid and real. Those characteristics will find their way into the manuscript as well as other elements to bring everything to life.

I enjoy the rewriting process, after getting into the meaty stuff, but it can be mentally draining after several weeks. I have some friends who get so absorbed in the process that they seem to have a degree of depression. 

My goal is to have the manuscript to my publisher sometime in June. It it will go through more reads and editing to reach its final form before becoming a book.

Now, back to my thoughts.

Until the next time...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Story Songs: Some Gave All

Billy Ray Cyrus's breakthrough song was the mega-hit "Achy Breaky Heart" in 1992. It was off his debut album, "Save Gave All," which sold more than 4 million copies worldwide.

"Some Gave All" is Cyrus's tribute to veterans. It was written by Cyrus and former wife, Cindy. While many folks dismissed "Achy Breaky Heart" as a silly ditty, "Some Gave All" is a thoughtful and moving tune about the sacrifices veterans have made for our nation. 

The song is about a fellow named Sandy Kane, who the narrator describes as a person that:

 "Few folks knew his name,  
But a hero was he
Left a boy, came back a man"

Sandy tells the narrator that we should never take for granted the price of freedom. While many have served in the military, like Sandy, many lost their lives for our country and other nations:

"All gave some and some gave all
And some stood through for the red, white and blue
And some had to fall
And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall
Some gave all"

And Sandy's powerful parting words:

"And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties, yes recall
Some gave all"

This song makes me think of all the seemingly nameless men and women from all walks of life who have been willing to give their lives to protect our freedoms. They don't see themselves as heroes and or anyone special. They simply have a job to do, knowing that it may involve the ultimate sacrifice.

This post is dedicated to two high school friends who gave all in Vietnam -- Marshall Jones and James Huckleberry. I'm sure you have those in your life who gave all as well, so please remember them as well.

"Some Gave All" lyrics

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Three Rewrites Down and More to Go

I've now completed three rewrites on my young-adult manuscript.  I hope to finish it in two or three weeks. I do plan to take Memorial Day off and enjoy the holiday.

In the latest rewrite, I removed one scene that was too similar to an earlier scene and rewrote the ending. I still  have more work to do on the final chapter to wrap up everything.

In the third rewrite, besides the deleted scene and final chapter, I concentrated on description in the manuscript. I also cut needless words in the narrative and dialogue. 

I wanted to trim the fat by about 2K words but only managed 500. I'm not sure if there'll be much more slicing and dicing in the next rewrite.

Until the next time...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Keeping Up with the Weather

Do you remember the Chiffon margarine commercial on television back in the 1970s that cautioned, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature”?   
Mother Nature, as we’ve seen throughout history, can wreak all kinds of havoc on people and places and things. And that’s not even when we’re trying to fool her. 
After what happened when a monster tornado roared through Moore, Okla., the past week, I’ve purchased a weather radio. I’ve generally been one to ride out a storm, but not anymore. And where I live in Kentucky, we have our share of tornadoes and straight line wind.
I’ve survived tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, blizzards, floods, lightning storms and other weather-related events, but the weather seems to be a bit haywire now with climate change thrown into the mix.
The radio will alert me to other dangers such as chemical spills, explosions, and other manmade disasters as well as earthquakes and volcanoes (something I don't want to experience). And even terrorist attacks.

I try to keep posted on changing weather conditions through the National Weather Service,  Weather Channel, Weather Bug, and local TV and radio newscasts. The radio will provide me with additional alerts from the National Weather Service, especially when I'm asleep or when the power goes out (the radio has battery backup). 

Here are come other interesting sites about weather radios:

Why buy a weather radio?

How to select the best weather radio for your needs

Weather radio

The Tornado Project

Here's hoping you have a nice day!

Until the next time...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Two Rewrites Down and More to Go

I've completed two rewrites on my manuscript. I wish it was ready for publication. Sadly, for me, it needs more work before becoming a book for young adults. 

I was able to tie some loose ends together but I found a few more holes along the way. I may also delete a scene that I'm not sure needs to be in the story. It'll probably be cut or rewritten.

And I'm not pleased with the ending. That's going to involve some major revisions on the third rewrite. 

Along the way I take notes on changes that need to be made. It makes it a lot easier when going back over the manuscript. I also need to add more description to characters and scenes.

So, as you can see, there's a lot of work to be done. 

I'll probably print the manuscript after the third rewrite. I find it useful to see the words on paper. I'll also take out my red pencil to mark it up -- a reminder of my early days as a journalist working on the copy desk.

I want to keep the manuscript in the 50k range, and now it's inching toward 52k.

I'll keep you posted after the third rewrite.

Until the next time...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

An I for An I

One of the challenges I've faced while editing and rewriting my manuscript is making sure I don't lose my point of view. I'm writing in first person, which means the story is being told through the narrator.

That means that I only know what the narrator sees and hears and feels. I can't get into other character's heads (or multiple third person points of view). I can only surmise, through the narrator's thoughts and feelings, what others making be thinking and feeling. And don't we do that in real life?

This is the first time I've written in first person. It can be restrictive (for the above reason) but again it allows me to go more deeply into the narrator -- who is the main person in the story.

I get to express sadness and happiness, and everything in between in the protagonist. I'm able to share with more with the reader on a personal level.

The key for me -- a third-person kind of writer -- is to make sure I stay within the rules of first person. 

And since the manuscript is for the young-adult genre, I have to make sure that the narrator thinks and feels like a teenager. Now that's the biggest challenge!

Until the next time...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Story Songs: Any Way The Wind Blows

Beginning in the mid-1980s, there were crossover musical groups that appealed to both country and mainstream popular tastes including The Remingtons, Exile, Confederate Railroad, Kentucky HeadHunters, BlackHawk, and Restless Heart.

There have been others in the past that had a country flavor to some of their tunes, legendary groups such as The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Flying  Burrito Brothers, Grateful Dead from the '60s and The Band, Poco and Eagles from the '70s.

A group I enjoyed was Southern Pacific, a country-rock band that produced four albums from 1985-91. The group included former members from The Doobie Brothers, Pablo Cruise, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. The muscianship and vocals were outstanding.

My favorite was "Any Way The Wind Blows," which reached No. 4 on the country charts in 1989. It was written by bandmember John McFee and Andre Pessis.

The lyrics remind me of the carefree years of youth when you have little fear and think you'll live forever:

"Life was an infinite number
Livin' one day to another
Lookin' for the end of summer
Any way the wind blows"


"Burnin' both ends of the candle
Can't wait 'bout the things we don't know
Going just as fast as we can go"


"Doesn't matter if we lead or follow
No telling where we'll be tomorrow
Goin' somewhere, goin' full throttle"

And the chorus:
"And we can't see around the bend
We never know where the road might end
We just try to go any way the wind blows"

With the car analogy, it's no surprise the song was used in the soundtrack of Clint Eastwood's "Pink Cadillac" in 1989.
The song reminds me of the good times of my youth.

"Any Way The Wind Blows" lyrics

Saturday, May 11, 2013

First Rewrite

I completed the first rewrite on my young-adult novel. After letting the words sit on mothballs for five months, it was time to go back and read it as an editor. 

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by what I read. When I had finished the first draft on Nov. 30, I quickly closed it...and cringed a bit. But it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be on first read. 

That's not to say that it's ready for publication. It's a long ways from seeing the light of day. But it's workable. Furthermore, I like the story. Those are big pluses.

I made a few grammatical changes. There were a few transitions that needed to be made. When I go back to it, there are some scenes that need to be more descriptive. Some characters also need to be more fully developed.

I adhere to Elmore Leonard's rule to cut out the stuff that people don't read. So that's something that will be getting more attention on the second rewrite. I want to keep it lean and fluid.

While I don't recommend waiting five months to go back to a manuscript, it certainly gave me a fresh look at my words. When I edit, I view the manuscript as I would if I were editing someone's writing.  

I'll give another update after the second rewrite.

Until the next time...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Story Songs: Kissing Time

   I believe most folks like to kiss. We’re usually kissed when we enter this world, and if surrounded by loved ones, kissed when we depart.
   Along the way, we receive an assortment of kisses – when we go to sleep, scruff our knees, birthday parties, weddings, reunions, and other occasions. These generally come from moms, dads, grandparents, relatives, and platonic friends.

  And then we have those romantic kisses that can take our breath away such as those from first loves, significant others, spouses, and others who can send shivers through your body.

  Click here to read some fun facts about kissing.
   This post was inspired by a Facebook friend. She has posted a couple of photos of passionate kisses with her husband. By the way, they’ve been married nearly 50 years. The flame still burns brightly.

     Do you remember your first passionate kiss? Or the last one?
    I hope you enjoy the videos.

Bobby Rydell - Kissin' Time

The Everly Brothers - Til Kissed You

Brian Hyland - Sealed With A Kiss

Betty Everett -- The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)

The Crystals - Then He Kissed Me

Hall and Oates -- Kiss Is On My List

Exile -- Kiss You All Over

Tom Jones - Kiss

Faith Hill - This Kiss

And one more!

Jesse Pearson in "Bye Bye Birdie" - One Last Kiss


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Getting Back on the Write Track

It's been five months since I finished the National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, challenge. And it's been five months since I've looked at those 51k words.

Do you think it's about time I start the editing and rewriting process?

In the meantime, I've done some research to prepare for this next phase in the writing process. As I've mentioned before, it's a young-adult novel that deals with bullying.

While in graduate school studying special education, I took several courses that covered bullying. I've also done some substitute teaching and observed how students interact with each other. I'm also a parent who had two sons in the public school system. And, I can look back on my years as a student and remember a few bullies and those who were bullied.

It generally takes me several months, or about 10 rewrites, to finish a novel. I'll keep you posted on my progress. 

Until the next time...