Thursday, June 22, 2017

EPIC Finalist Update

Last March I was notified by the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition that my coming-of-old-age novel, "Old Ways and New Days," was a finalist in the contemporary fiction category.

EPIC recently announced the winners in the 17 categories in its annual competition for ebooks and my novel didn't make the list.

My congratulations to CJane Elliott for her coming-out novel, "Sex, Love, and Videogames," named the best in contemporary fiction. 

It was an honor for me to have my novel considered for the award. Simply being one of three finalists was gratifying.

Click here to see the list of all the winners, including Ariana Awards for best book covers.

EPIC is now accepting books through July 15 for its 2018 competition. Visit the website for more information. Best of luck to those who decide to enter their novel. 

You might also want to consider joining EPIC and be part of a network of authors, publishers, editors, and others in the industry.

Until the next time . . . .


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

South America Destinations -- Rio de Janeiro, Iguassu Falls, and Buenos Aires

My wife and I recently returned from a wonderful vacation to Brazil and Argentina.  We made stops in fabulous Rio de Janeiro, powerful Iguassu Falls, and beautiful Buenos Aires.

We've visited Europe in the past, and while we love the Old World, we decided to expand our horizons by traveling to our neighbors to the south. It was well worth it. Simply unforgettable.

We got to see and experience some things about each place, but more than anything, it whetted our appetite to return to South America to take in more that the diverse continent has to offer—natural wonders, historic sites, and the people.

Here are a few images from each of the places. I'll be writing more about each destination in upcoming posts.

From Rio:

Copacabana Beach

Cable cars to Sugar Loaf Mountain

From Iguassu Falls:

A view from Brazil



A view from Argentina
  From Buenos Aires:
Colon Opera House

Obelisk 
Until the next time. . . . 




Saturday, June 3, 2017

Progress Report-—Back to the Manuscript (Editing-Submitted)

I completed the edits, revisions, and rewrites to my upcoming novel. My editor will receive 190 pages this morning, and then forward it to the publisher, who will have someone proofread the 94k words.

And then it will come back to me in the galley proof for one last read. It will be the last time I can make any changes to the manuscript. 

But there's still more to do in the interim before the novel is released on Nov. 1. I'll have to work with the design artist on the cover, write a synopsis for marketing and promotion, and take care of dedication and acknowledgements.

In the meantime, I'm going to take a short break and then begin work on the third book in the Old Ways and New Days series. 

Until the next time. . . .



Monday, May 29, 2017

Progress Report—Back to the Manuscript (Editing Update-Part Two)

I've spent the past month going over edits on my next novel. I'll be returning it to my editor in two days, then await the galley proof for one more read. 

The past few weeks have been grueling at times, especially when seeing things I wish I had caught before sending it to the publisher. That's a big reason to have an editor. They fix things you think you see and take away things the readers shouldn't see.

She also made recommendations on dialogue, scenes, and body language—and a few other things—that she believed would strengthen the story. Some I accepted, prompting a few rewrites;  and some I rejected because I felt didn't reflect the characters' personalities (only the author truly knows the characters although editors can flesh out more information).

I also found a few other problems that I was able to correct while reading the manuscript two times.

Once I finish with the galley proof, I'll turn my attention to the third book in the Old Ways and New Days series. 

Until the next time. . . .









Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Progress Report—Back to the Manuscript (Editing Update)

I'm still plugging away on the edits to my latest manuscript. As mentioned in my last post, it's not something I truly enjoy but it has to be done.

Making the edits
The time-consuming and intense process basically involves rereading the 93k words to accept or reject edits, consider suggestions, and answer questions on such things as timeline, characters, and scenes. I can usually spend about five hours daily, with a short break, focused on the manuscript before my head feels like it is spinning in all directions.

The deadline for returning the manuscript is June 1. I thought I would be finished with it this past weekend but now it looks more like next weekend. 

And even then, I will probably sit on it for a few days to mull over parts before clicking the send button. 

It's a slow undertaking but I want to be satisfied (as much as an author can be because we're never totally satisfied) with the final version that will become a published novel.

Until the next time. . . . 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Progress Report--Back to the Manuscript (Editing)

After sitting on the edits to my manuscript for a week, I finally opened the document and began work on it.

As mentioned in my last post, I have to be in the right frame of mind to delve into edits, rewrites, revisions, recommendations, and such. It can be a humbling experience as well as edifying. 

I try to approach it in a positive manner. I know the editor is seeking to make the manuscript the best it can be because her name will be stamped on it. And I want the same because my name will be showcased on the cover. But most of all, I want it to be the best possible read for those who will purchase it.

The novel-to-be is about 190 typewritten pages. I was able to cover 17 pages, taking nearly 3.5 hours. So do the math. It will probably take 30-plus hours to go over the entire 91,000 words.

I hope to increase my output, spending about five hours a day. If I can do that, I should be able to return it to my editor early next week, if not sooner. I'm not in a big rush since we set a June 1 deadline. Another reason I want to get it done, sooner than later, is because something could come up in the meantime that could push things back. Life happens.

Not only am I making or considering suggested edits, I'm rereading the manuscript for the tenth time to make sure it flows, catch any typos, and anything else that might pop up.

Are you wondering why can't I do more pages? I must confess that my eyes can't go much longer than five hours. They get heavy and tired. And I get mentally exhausted. I believe most authors would tell you that this is an intense process. 

And now back to the manuscript.

Until the next time. . . . 


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Progress Report -- Back to the Manuscript

About two months ago I emailed my completed manuscript to my publisher.  Yesterday, it came back with notes and edits. 

So it's back to work. 

7th annual Authors Fair in La Grange, Ky.
I must admit that I was kinda enjoying the break from the manuscript. I attended three book-signing events in April, selling a few books, expanding my network with other authors, engaging new readers, and making a few friends. 

I haven't opened the documents. I told my editor that it will probably be a few days before I delve into the contents that contain edits, suggestions, and grammatical and typo fixes that should tighten and strengthen the story. 

So why haven't I started the editing process? 

I need to be in the right frame of mind. It's not something that I can do for a few days, take a few days off, and go back to it. Once I get started, I go from beginning to end. I have to stay focused. I find it mentally exhausting, even though I know there will be a degree of exhilaration when it's over.

The novel, a sequel to "Old Ways and New Days," is scheduled to be released on Nov. 1. I don't plan to sit on the edits very long (maybe a day or two) because I have other things to do between now and then, such as work with the publisher on a cover, marketing and promotion. 

And once I finish the formal editing phase, which includes reviewing the galley proof,  I plan to start on the next book in the series. So I have lots to do. Now to get focused.

Until the next time. . . .



 


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Story Songs: Me and You and a Dog Named Boo

There's something about driving down the wide-open highway and freedom—in a car, on a motorcycle, in an RV, or on a bicycle. The road ends only where you want it to end.

Lobo, whose real name is Kent LaVoie, captured that feeling in 1971 with his song, "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo." It reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No. 1 on the Easy Listening chart.

In this timeless tune, the narrator and a friend, along with their sidekick, Boo, leave Georgia in an old car to drive to the West Coast.
But it's not a straight shot as they apparently want to see other parts of the country, stopping in St. Paul, Minn., where they run into some trouble.

"I can still recall
The wheat fields of St. Paul
And the morning we got caught
Robbing from an old hen"

But they were fortunate that the farmer got them to repay by putting them to work instead of calling the law.

"Old McDonald he made us work
But then he paid us for what it was for what it was worth
Another tank of gas
And back on the road again"

They finally reach Los Angeles but it's not going to be the destination. Why? They're ready to hit the highways and byways.

"Though it's only been a month or so
That old car's buggin' us to go
We've gotta get away and get back on
The road again"

My favorite lines are the refrain, which expresses the yearning to be free—on the road.

"Me and you and a dog named Boo
Travelin' and livin' off the land
Me and you and a dog named Boo
How I love being a free man"

Back in the late '60s, a friend and I were planning on going out west but it didn't happen because he fell in love with some gal. I didn't own a car at the time so I was out of luck. But through the years I have ventured on the road, discovering new places along the way.

Lobo had several other hits in the '70s including "I'd Love You to Want Me" and "Don't Expect Me to Be Your Friend." Check out this short reflection on his life, in his own words. I've always enjoyed Lobo's relaxed and easygoing voice.


Now let's listen to this classic song:


Until the next time. . . .






Monday, April 3, 2017

Manuscript Release Date

I received great news today that my next novel will be published Nov. 1.

I'm glad for several reasons:
  • It will give me time to do promotional work several months ahead of the release date. In the past, I've felt somewhat rushed in getting the word out about my books, especially when working full-time.
  • The novel will be available for the holiday season, a prime time for books since we all know that they make great gifts.
  • The novel is a sequel to "Old Ways and New Days," and I hope to start on the third book in the series. Between now and the release date, I can give some thought about what to call the series (if you have any suggestions, feel free to send my way).
  • I've already ordered rack cards, listing all my books as well as contact information. They'll be distributed at book events. Once I get cover art, I'll start working on bookmarks, flyers, news releases, and other marketing items.
I haven't written much, in terms of creative writing, since sending the manuscript to my editor at Wings ePress. I've cranked out a few blog posts, book reviews, and some other things, but  haven't delved back into fiction.

In addition to working on the third book, I intend get back to short stories, and finish a second volume of "Laments."

I'm eager to get back to serious writing, but must confess I needed the break because of other things going on in my life. Writers need breathers once in a while, don't you think?

Now to get back to work.

Until the next time. . . .






Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Discovery -- Josephine Sculpture Park

Sometimes there are points of interest practically right under our nose. Such was the case for me when I ventured about four miles from my home in Frankfort, Ky.,  to visit the Josephine Sculpture Park.

I live  in  a town rich in history, being the capital of Kentucky. But for some inexplicable reason, I never visited the sculpture park, even though I've lived here for nearly 16 years (it didn't become a public park until 2009).



So on one warm pre-spring morning, I decided to drive to park and see what it had to offer. It was bigger and better than I expected.

According to the park's website, JSP is named after Josephine VanHouten, who owned a farm from which the park is located, off Lawrenceburg Road. Her granddaughter, Melanie, is the artistic director.

Josephine Sculpture Park spreads over about 20 acres, south of town, divided into four sections—Queen Anne's Meadow, Native Hill, Eastern Ridge, and Walnut Grove.

As I walked on the quiet paths from one section to the other, I looked at the 40 or so sculptures and murals that adorn the public park. As for the art, some I liked, some not so much, but it was still a feast for the eyes to discover a park devoted to artistic expression.


Visitors Center
The park also has a primitive amphitheater for performing arts, visitors center, and during the year hosts workshops, field trips concerts, exhibits and more. It is also pet-friendly and smoke-free.

I'll be making return trips, with my dogs, to stroll about the park now that spring has finally arrived and the weather will be warmer.



I plan to discover more sites close to home in the coming months.

Until the next time. . . .

Info:
Josephine Sculpture Park
3355 Lawrenceburg Road
Frankfort, KY 40601
www.josephinesculpturepark.org
Phone: 502-352-7082

Friday, March 10, 2017

EPIC Finalist

I hope you don't mind me tooting my own horn but I was notified this week that my novel, "Old Ways and New Days," is a finalist in the 2017 EPIC eBooks Awards category of contemporary fiction.


What is EPIC? It's the Electronic Publishing Internet Coaliton—the "voice of ePublishing since 1998." The organization has been around since the beginning of digital books.

A fellow author at Wings ePress, Suzanne Hurley, is a finalist in the young reader category for "The Teddy Bear Eye Club." Read more about the organization here.

EPIC also has competition for best book covers—Ariana Awards—in 10 categories. Check them out as well to see some impressive artwork.

This is a wonderful organization for small presses, indie authors, illustrators and others in the industry, providing a great voice in the world of publishing. I encourage authors and publishing houses to become an EPIC member.

The organization will hold its annual convention—EPICon— June 16-17 in San Antonio, Texas.

I'm also excited about the recognition because the sequel to "Old Ways and New Days" will be published this year. And I'll soon be working on the third book in the series in the next few weeks. My novels are also available in print.

I'll keep you posted when the winners are announced. For me, it's already a win-win regardless of the outcome.

Until the next time. . . .









Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Justin Hayward -- Wind of Heaven Tour

I spent an enchanted evening on Valentine's Day, attending Justin Hayward's "Wind of Heaven Tour," at the Lexington Opera House.

Hayward, along with virtuoso guitarist Mike Dawes and multi-talented keyboardist/background singer Julie Ragins, performed 14 songs, a mix of Hayward's solo efforts and  Moody Blues' standards. 
Justin Hayward


Hayward, who turned 70 last October, delivered heartfelt and emotional ballads as well as a few uptempo tunes from his vast catalog of music. I'm not sure his voice has improved with age (he was at the top of his game during the Moodies' core seven era from 1967-72), but there is still the sincerity and honesty in his voice that has connected with music lovers for more than a half-century. 




Mike Dawes, Justin Hayward and Julie Ragins
Appropriately, Hayward opened with "Tuesday Afternoon" and closed with the timeless "Nights in White Satin," followed by an encore "I Know You're Out There Somewhere," to an appreciative audience of 800 or so fans.

Among the other songs were "The Best Is Yet to Come," "One Day, Someday," "In Your Blue Eyes," and "Forever Autumn."

Mike Dawes
The concert started with Dawes playing several awe-inspiring instrumentals before Hayward took the stage. Dawes certainly has to rank as one of the best guitarists with what he can do with the instrument. 

This marked the first time I've seen Hayward without his MB mates. I've seen the Moodies nine times, dating back to 1971 in Kansas City. I've never been disappointed.


This year is the 50th anniversary of the Moodies' groundbreaking "Days of Future Passed" album,  which the group is commemorating with a tour this summer.

Until the next time. . .

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Progress Report -- Manuscript Completed

My work in progress is a completed manuscript. It's now in the hands of my editor.

Since my last post, the manuscript went through two more reviews involving editing, spell check, minor rewrites, and proofreads. The word count is 93,300.

It also has a working title, but please forgive me for not disclosing it right now. Throughout the process, beginning with the first draft, I tried to come up with a title to reflect the story. It's funny how one can write more than 93k words and have difficulty coming up with four or five for a title.

As I've mentioned, in numerous posts, the novel is a sequel to "Old Ways and New Days." In a few weeks, I plan to start on the third book in the series. It's contemporary mainstream, under the Boomer Lit genre.

But for right now, I plan to take a short breather (taking in a Justin Hayward concert tonight), and then be ready to work with my editor and publisher on various and sundry items to turn the words into a published book.

Until the next time. . .

 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Progress Report -- Sixth Draft Completed

I thought I would be completed with my manuscript by now.  My first self-imposed deadline was December 31. Then January 31. Now it's February 9 and I'm still not finished. But almost.

If everything goes as planned, I'll send the novel-to-be off to my editor this weekend.

Despite slashing paragraphs, sentences, and words, the manuscript has grown to 93.5K words. Perhaps I can whittle away some when I go over it one more time.

As I do with every draft, I wrote down the problem areas that need to be addressed. I even highlighted the passages in red as well as the page numbers so I won't have to spend an inordinate amount of time finding them.

I am closer to a title. Actually, I have three possibilities. I consider that progress as well as I've been stumped on coming up with those important words to reflect the story as well as entice the reader.

That's it for now.

Until the next time. . . 

 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Progress Report -- Fifth Draft Completed

It's Groundhog Day in the United States, and I've completed the fifth draft of my boomer lit manuscript.

This is not Punxsutawney Phil
I'm not sure what the connection is, other than Punxsutawney Phil didn't see his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter, while I see daylight for my work in progress. It's not going to take me another 42 days before I hand over my novel-to-be to my editor. It will be more like six days, if not sooner.

Despite trimming scenes, eliminating a couple subplots, fixing typos, correcting grammar, tightening dialogue, and a few other things, the manuscript increased to 92,301 words, about 360 more than after the fourth draft. 

As noted in my last post, I printed the manuscript so I could give it a more in-depth read. I gave my red pen a good workout. And, quite frankly, I'm tired of looking at it with a critical eye. It's about time to move on with it.

I'll go over the manuscript one more time, including another spell check, before I release it into the hands of my smart and savvy editor. She'll find some things, a few I simply overlooked, because I'm reading into passages what my brain tells me is there but really isn't. That's another reason you need a pair of fresh eyes—preferably on someone else's head. 

Until the next time . . .


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Progress Report -- Fourth Draft Completed

I've finished the fourth draft of my work in progress. I believe my self-imposed deadline of Jan. 31 is an achievable goal. 

The manuscript is nearly 92,000 words; an increase of about 5k after the third draft. Will it continue to grow? Possibly, but my focus in the fifth rewrite will be to trim excess narrative and dialogue, remove pointless subplots, correct typos, fix grammatical mistakes, and rewrite anything that hinders the flow of the story.

The first thing I did, after completing the latest draft, was to print it. Coming from a background in the news business, I like marking up hard copy (preferably with a red pen) and being able to physically flip pages, rather than going back and forth with pages on a computer screen, while editing. I sometimes lose a sense of direction on the computer, especially after several rewrites.

If things go well, and I'm crossing my fingers, I'll have two more reads on the copy before sending it to my editor.  

And if not, I'll continue to work on the manuscript until I'm completely satisfied that it's ready for an  editor's eyes. 

Until the next time. . . 

 

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....