Sunday, April 11, 2021

Boomers: Simple Reality

I often see posts and memes on social media sites from baby boomers about yearning to return to simpler times, years ago when we didn't seem to have a care in the world. 

It was back in the days when we watched "The Long Ranger," "Superman," and "Leave It To Beaver" on television sets. We played out outside until the street lamps came on, without being distracted by smartphones or other tech devices. We rode in cars without seat belts, or if younger, safety seats.  We played board games such as Monopoly, Yahtzee, and Scrabble and various card games, those family-oriented activities on dining-room tables or living-room floors. It seemed that everyone remembers being at chuch on Sundays.

There's a reason most of us, especially those living in white middle- and upper-class America, had easy lives. We were much younger and had relative few cares or responsiblities. It was our parents and other adults who took us by the hand and guided our charmed lives.

A simpler time
Most of us who had mothers who stayed home and cared for us, from feeding our hungry little mouths, wiping our dirty little butts, reading to us and then tucking our tired bodies in bed. They washed and ironed our clothes, volunteered to chaperone on school field trips, and served as den leaders in cub scouts.

For many of us, our dads got up early in the morning and spent most of the day at work to pay our food, clothes, shelter, toys, and medical expenses. They also served as coaches and umpires in youth leagues. They also found time to mow the lawn, especially if we were too young to help, wash the car, and assist mom with various honey-dos. 

Yes, it was a simpler time, for those of us growing up because we had little or no responsibilities other than to keep our noses clean and show a degree of respect to our elders. It was our parents and guardians who paid and paved the way for our wonder years.

Nostalgia is a wonderful but it's not possible to return to that life unless one can turn back the biological clock.  Yes, I can yearn for the time when I was a preteen, but that's six decades ago. 

Time marches on, and you can either keep in step or wallow in period that will never be.

Until the next time . . .

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Brief Timeout from Manuscript and Recent Reads

 My work-in-progress is now a work-in-process as it has been sent to my editor to begin steps to publication so I'm taking a short breather and relax.

This will be the fifth book in the John Ross Boomer Lit series and will be published Oct. 1 by Wings ePress. I've put in a lot of hours the past couple of months so it's time to sit back for a day or so. 

I missed my deadline of completing it on April 1 by one day because I made several final-day changes before hitting the send button. I could have made more edits/rewrites but there comes a time when you have to hand it over to the editor because it can become an all-consuming process that has no end.

Between now and then, the manuscript will be edited and returned to me to make corrections and consider suggestions. After issues are resolved, it will be sent to a proofreader to spot other problems such as typos and grammatical errors. The manuscript will then be transformed into a galley proof for one final read to make any additional changes before being published. 

In the meantime, I'll be working on loglines, website blurbs, marketing input, and working with a graphic artist on a cover. So there's lots of work ahead of me and the talented folks at Wings ePress before the launch date. 

By the way, the manuscript clocked in at 59k words, about 9k more from the first draft following National Novel Writing Month last November. The finished novel could be more or less, depending on what happens during this next phase of the editing process. 

I also hope to begin working on the sixth book in the series after completing some of the odds and ends. There's more to tell about the life and times of John and Sally Ross. 


Recent reads:

Paul Maher Jr.'s book sets the stage for Jack Kerouac's classic On the Road, providing background on the real-life characters and places that populate the popular novel. This book is a must-read for those who want to understand the life and times of the Kerouac as well as his inspirations and aspirations as a writer.

I revisited George Orwell's classic dystopian novel, curious to see how it has held up, especially since 1984. It's still an interesting read but overwritten (my humble opinion) in parts. But overall the book is a cautionary tale about totalitarian government, published after World War II (1949). We learn about "Big Brother," thought control, and much more. Chilling! 

Until the next time . . . 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Another Progress Report on Manuscript

I've completed making the line edits on my work-in-progress, the fifth book in the John Ross Boomer Lit series. 

While fixing the various and sundry marks noted in red ink on the hard copy, I also jotted down some additional work that needs to be done before submitting the manuscript to my Wings ePress editor by March 31. 

I noticed several scenes that need to be expanded. There were a few minor changes that I will address such as character names and background. I'll be doing that while giving the novel-to-be one final read over the next five days. I have a notecard listing the rewrites/edits that I will check off when completed.

I'm also working on a book title. I have a working title (something I do with every WIP). I've compiled a list of about 10 that I'll tinker with over the next five days. Much like a book cover, a title is important because an author wants it to provide a strong first impression on potential readers. As for a book title, that'll be taken care of in the next few months with the publisher's art director.

My only concern right now is that I had received my second COVID-19 vaccine this morning. The nurse told me that I could have some side effects from it, including flu-like symptoms. Friends have told me they ran low-grade fevers and felt lethargic for a few days. I hope it's no more than that for me.

As mentioned in previous posts, the novel will be published Oct. 1, eight months after the release of Make Room for Family, the fourth book in the series. For a list of my novels, visit my webpage. Other sites include Amazon and Wings ePress.

Until the next time . . .

Saturday, March 20, 2021

More Progress on Manuscript and Recent Reads

 I've made more progress on my manuscript while approaching an end-of-the-month deadline.

For those who read my last post, you know that I printed out the novel-to-be for a hard read with red-ink changes, corrections, deletions, and revisions. For those who didn't read my last post, now you know (you can follow my blog by clicking on "follow" button in the lower right column). The next order of writing will be to make the changes to the manuscript. And then it's probably on to my editor at Wings ePress unless I decide to give it one more read (and I most likely will).

Marked-up manuscript
It's probably because of my background in newspapers in the pre-computer era (we used typewriters) as well as my years in high school and college that editing on paper seems more natural. It's akin to those folks who prefer reading a book in print, to where they can hold a book, turn and feel the pages, etc., then reading a book on a tablet, Kindle, Nook, or another electronic reader. I worked on the manuscript at the kitchen table to give myself a fresh view; the book in the right-hand corner is The Random House Thesaurus

Since my last post, I've learned the publication for this book will be Oct. 1, rather than Nov. 1. It will be the fifth book in the John Ross Boomer Lit series. 

Recent reads:

Toni Kief's Mildred in Disguise: With Diamonds could probably fall under the boomer-lit banner since the protagonist is 71-year-old Mildred Petrie. Rather than enjoy retirement, Mildred has to return to work after her husband's death. She takes a position as an undercover detective because of her previous police experience as a parking cop. Her observations and investigations after a robbery lead to some wild times for the wily septuagenarian. Kief has crafted a clever read with snappy dialogue, colorful characters, and a compelling storyline.

Susie Kelley's La Vie En Rose: Notes From Rural France is a fun read by a British ex-pat. Kelly shares anecdotes about her life in France and adjustments she and her husband had to make. I found myself laughing out loud at some of her entries. She writes about rude salespeople, quirky neighbors, different customs, gardening, contacts with animals and insects, and a few recipes you may or may not want to try. Kelly has a cute sense of humor who doesn't hesitate to laugh at herself. I found that refreshing. It's only about 100 pages and a quick read. 

Until the next time . . .

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Progress Report on Manuscript and Recent Reads

 I've completed the first rewrite of the fifth book in the John Ross Boomer Lit series. I'll sit on it for a couple days, then get back in earnest to have it ready for my editor by the end of the month.

So far this is what I've accomplished:

  • The first draft was written during National Novel Writing Month in November.
  • Read the manuscript in January, making minimal changes (spelling, grammar, etc.) to see how flows. I also wanted to see if I like the story; if I didn't, then the readers probably wouldn't either. (FYI, I like it.)
  • I returned to the manuscript for a rewrite in February, increasing the word count by about 3k words. I also deleted a few scenes and dialogue as well.

What I've done this time is print the manuscript. I'll go over it with red ink (much like the editing many of us experienced in high school and college), and make needed fixes while giving it a read from a different perspective. Believe it or not, I see and read things differently on paper than on the computer screen (much like a book and e-book). 

Then I'll go back to the saved manuscript on my computer and make the red-line edits and perhaps make a few minor changes that catch my eyes. Most authors will tell you that editing is a neverending task.

If all goes well, after all the changes, I'll give it another quick readthrough and send it on to my trusted editor at Wings ePress.  By the way, the manuscript is scheduled to transform into a book on Nov. 1 so stayed tuned for further announcements such as the title and cover reveal.


A few book recommendations:

Chris Boucher's Pivot Move is a young adult novel that deals with basketball, peer pressure, bullying, and divorce. Boyd Kindle is a raw but talented basketball player who is dealing with several issues in his life. He has alopecia, a condition that causes the body to shed hair, which he tries to cover up by wearing a hoodie.  He's a confused and angry 14-year-old. Boucher writes in the first person to give readers a feel for the boy's angst but also provides empathy and humor.

Michael Jennings' Like a Wary Blessing is a collection of short stories that delve into the effects of war on individuals. Jennings, a Vietnam vet and former newspaper reporter, writes with precision and depth as he examines how soldiers and citizens attempt to cope with the ugly side of combat from different perspectives.  Some individuals succeed and others don't in these insightful stories that cover topics such as race relations, suicide, and post-traumatic stress syndrome. 

Until the next time . . .

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Back to the Manuscript and a Few Book Recommendations

The fourth book in the John Ross Boomer Lit series is history as Make Room for Family was published on Feb. 1 by Wings ePress.

Now I'm working on the first rewrite of the fifth book. As noted in previous posts, I wrote the first draft during National Novel Writing Month in November. I let it sit for more than a month, then I opened it back on and reread the manuscript, only taking a few notes to keep everything straight. The purpose was to see if the story flowed or was a trainwreck. It nearly went off the rails a few times but overall, I liked what I created.

Now I'm rewriting the manuscript. I believe it's only going to take about four or five weeks to have it ready to forward on to Jeanne, my skillful editor at Wings. 

Furthermore, I have a publishing date for the book: Nov. 1, 2021. So I have the responsibility of getting the manuscript to her by the end of March.

For those who know my background in the media, having a deadline or due date is a plus. I spent nearly 18 years with a national news service, five years with newspapers, and eight years as editor of a regional magazine. 

I thrive on deadlines. When I don't have a deadline, I tend to diddle. Deadlines keep me focused.

In the meantime, I'm also marketing and promoting Make Room for Family. I've had several book reviews including feedback and ratings on Amazon. I've mailed several hundred postcards to bookstores, libraries, and friends (send me an email and I'll mail one to you).  I've also taken out ads on Facebook and soon on Amazon and possibly Google. 


While you're here a few book recommendations from my recent reads:

Check out Chris Helvey's The White Jamaican, a clever and witty noir featuring detective Frank Quick. Helvey paints great scenes with his colorful prose and creates lively characters with down-and-dirty dialogue. 

Colston Whitehead's The Underground Railroad, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel from 2017, offers a gritty and graphic story about the plight of Blacks during the slavery era in U.S. history. The story follows the trials and tribulations of Cora as she pursues freedom in a cruel world. It's not an easy read but it may change your perspective about slavery. 

Andrew G. McCabe's The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump is a fascinating read into the inner workings of the giant law-enforcement agency. While Trump is no longer in office, the book explains how the FBI takes on terrorism, the dedicated personnel who investigate crimes, and the threats to democracy we face today. 

Now it's back to the grindstone for rewriting and reading.

Until the next time . . . 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Officially Part of the Herd

 After several false starts, I finally received my COVID-19 vaccination today. Icy and snowy conditions prevented me from three previous appointments at the Franklin County Health Department. 

Today the sun was shining on me, literally and figuratively.

Wearing vaccination badge

As of Feb. 22, I'm one of 44 million Americans who have received at least the first shot; 19 million have been injected with two shots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

It's a relief to be vaccinated although I still have to wait another 28 days for my second shot. I know of people who have had the disease and a few who did not survive. 

So far, more than 500,000 Americans, including more than 4,600 in my native Kentucky, have lost their lives from the effects of the novel coronavirus. That's more than the total of those U.S. citizens who died in World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War. Those are staggering numbers to comprehend.

It's a shame that the ineptitude of our government the past year didn't do more to educate our citizens about the disease and the simple ways to prevent the spread. It has been estimated the 40 percent of those lives (200k) could have been prevented if proper and prudent action had been taken. 

I haven't felt any side effects from the vaccine. I understand that those in my age group may suffer fewer problems because of a declining immune response. I'm guessing that is good. The only thing I noticed was my daily nap where I slept 90 minutes rather than my usual 45. 

Check out this article from AARP if you have questions and concerns about the vaccine. If we're going to lick this 21st century scourge, we need to work together and that includes getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and maintaining a safe social distancing until we'out of the woods with the herd immunity. 

I'm proud to be part of the herd.

Until the next time . . .