Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Seven Rewrites and Nearing the End

I met a self-imposed deadline for completing the seventh rewrite of my work in progress by June 30. 

But what I learned, in the end, is that I've got another rewrite or two before I can send the manuscript to my editor. I'm not sure if this is the agony of writing, making the necessary changes to improve the story, but it's the only way of getting things done.

As with the previous rewrites, I've added scenes and deleted scenes, added dialogue and deleted dialogue, tightened the narrative . . . well, you get the idea, just about everything.

I added about 5k words to the manuscript, and now it totals more than 78k. The first draft was only about 48k, so it's grown quite a bit over the past 11 months.

If all works out to plans (and it seldom does), I hope to finish the manuscript by the end of July. I see one more rewrite 

and then a fast read before I send this fourth installment of the "John  Ross Boomer Lit" series on the way to my publisher

I'll confess that it's never taken me this long to write a draft and get it ready for publication. It's usually about a six-month endeavor.

But because of the pandemic, and other things going on in my life, I found that I got more distracted than usual. I don't know if it's an age thing, or simply me, but my concentration levels aren't what they used to be. I guess it's a combination of the two since I'm certainly not getting any younger.

Furthermore, and most importantly, I wasn't pleased with where the story was going and had to make a few major changes. I hope it's smooth sailing the rest of the way (more wishful thinking on my part).

Until the next time

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Slow Progress on Manuscript

I've completed six rewrites to my original manuscript, the fourth book in the John Ross Boomer Lit series.

As with the other rewrites, it took longer than expected because, well, there was so much to edit and rewrite. I made progress, but there's still a ways to go before I'm ready to submit it to my Wings ePress editor. 

I did a line edit on paper on the latest rewrite. There were quite a few red marks on the manuscript. I'm amazed at how I see things on paper that escape me on the computer screen. That's why I print the manuscript so I can put different "eyes" on the words.

My next course of action is to review my notes and make sure there is continuity from the previous books. The storyline and time elements have to flow. I've also reintroduced characters so I have to make sure names and descriptions are true to the series.

As with any rewrite, I deleted some scenes and dialogues. I'll be expanding some parts in the seventh rewrite.  At this point, there are nearly 74k words; that should grow past 80k.

So that's where I'm at on this manuscript. Lots accomplished but more to do before it's ready to be published. I hope to reveal more in the coming weeks, perhaps the title and publishing date.

Until the next time . . . 


Monday, May 11, 2020

Show Some Respect and Keep Your Distance

I've been out several times during the pandemic, going to the pharmacy, supermarket, hardware store, or a restaurant's drive-thru or curbside service. 

I always wear a mask. And I try to maintain a safe distance from others when I'm inside a store. Even in my neighborhood, when I take my dogs for a short walk, I keep a respectful space from others that I encounter.

One thing I've noticed in stores is that most people wear a mask and try to maintain the six-foot safe distance from others. But there are a few out who are defiant of these simple measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

I've read and seen on TV and social media that these poor souls feel that it's an infringement of their freedom. Does that freedom include the right to spread germs and endanger the lives of others? 

That's utterly stupid. And, in my opinion, they look stupid in businesses and other public places by not wearing a mask. They stand out like clueless clowns.

When I encounter those ingrates in stores, I don't say a word because I sense they will become unhinged and begin to cry about these "unjust" these safety measures on their shallow lives. They spew enough bombastic rhetoric as it is without compounding it with spraying COVID-19 into the air.  

But I do try to make eye contact, if possible, and go in a different direction. I avoid them, pardon the expression, like the plague. If they're trying to make a statement about their right to spread a silent disease, then I'm doing the same by steering clear of them. And I hope they notice. 

It's a matter of respect. Those who refuse to wear a mask don't respect or care about the well-being of others.  And I refuse to show the unmasked blockheads any respect.

For those who need a refresher on how to protect yourself and others during the pandemic, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines by clicking here.

In the meantime, stay healthy and safe.

Until the next time . . .  

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Off-the-Beaten-Path Programs

Are you tired of being cooped up in cramped quarters during this spring of isolation? Do you feel the walls closing in or the idea of a distant destination is a grocery store or pharmacy?

If you feel the need to spread your wings if only figuratively, I recommend two travel programs on Netflix that may help you experience vicariously the wonders of the world in different ways—The Kindness Diaries and Dark Tourist

Be forewarned, these aren't your standard travelogues in the mold of programs featuring Rick Steves, Anthony Bourdain, Josh Gates, Conan O'Brian, Samantha Brown, Rudy Maxa, Joseph Rosendo, Richard Wiese, Burt Wolf, and many others. Let me add that I enjoy all these folks because they present unique views of the world, be it an adventure, cuisine, history, architecture, or whatever niche they pursue to pique the viewers' interests.
Leon Logothetis

Leon Logothetis,  a former London broker, seeks kindness and humanity on his global adventures. In the second season of  The Kindness Diaries, he drives a yellow VW bug from Alaska to Argentina (there are a few detours), asking strangers to put him up for the night, give him a meal, fill up his gas tank, and share stories. When Leon is moved by their heartfelt stories, he finds ways for them to spread their acts of kindness to others. Some episodes may bring tears to your eyes or touch your heart.
David Farrier 

In Dark Tourist, New Zealand journalist David Farrier takes you to places where folks don't usually travel (or want to) such as Kazakhstan, to a site with high radiation levels from Soviet nuclear tests more than 30 years ago; a tour of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer's haunts in Milwaukee; and taking in some tacky commercialism at JFK's assassination site in Dallas. You may find yourself laughing, shaking your head, or cringing along the way. 

Both programs are entertaining, informative, and provide a different view of the world—from the confining comforts of home. 

Until the next time . . .


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 . . .