Category Archives: Writing Projects

Life in Slow Motion

Yeah, it’s been slow but happy. Maybe these are the salad days. My wife and I are almost empty nesters now, with our son in China and our daughter in college. I’ve started walking the dog and occasionally picking up the guitar again.

Meantime, things are slowly gearing up to do something. I’ve been working on the 2010 VBS play. It’s been slow going this year – it’s my fourth one in five years and I think I’m going to need a break next year, just to get caught up on putting all the revisions from the previous shows into the computer and then figuring out how to get them out into the world.

On the long, long, long delayed and that’s the end of the news front, I finished the third draft last weekend – finally! It’s right now sitting while I have my First Editor (my wife) take a look at it. Also employed will be my new Second Editor, my daughter, who is a budding writer in her own, um, right.

There are some other writing projects on the horizon, too. For some odd reason, I dug out a book I was writing my hand in a series of notebooks over my lunch hour during 2005. I got almost 200 handwritten pages before I got too busy to deal with it and it got filed away. I found it while looking for tax records and decided to pull it out and have my First Editor take a look at it.

I’ve also been slowly outlining a Big Book, this one the UFO Novel. Not sure when I’ll get started on that one. Depends on the schedule for finishing and/news and the hunt for a new book agent.

So it’s going. Just not as fast as I want. But hey… there’s that whole salad days thing.

And on an unrelated note, a big “Hello” to anybody who may be joining this feed from Amazon.oom. I finally broke down and am in the process of compiling my Amazon Author’s Page, and the RSS of this very blog will show up there from this point on. If I clicked the right button.

It’s All Right To Feel A Little Fear

So I have hooked and crooked my way into ownership of a new computer, one that isn’t a collection of interconnected old parts cobbled together into a semblance of semi-functionality. Because of that, I now have a number of projects going.

First, I am starting to scan my novels into HTML format (thanks to some Iris soft/hardware) to format for the Kindle. I bought old copies of all of them from Amazon’s shops, and am in the process of cutting the pages apart with an X-acto knife and feeding them through my nifty little scanner.

Second, I am in the process of formatting my three VBS plays for publication through Lulu.com and for the Kindle. The big hangup here seems to be the name of the imprint I will use for my self-publishing efforts. I’m trying to some up with something with a slight Biblical reference, but nothing to give the impression that it’s strictly a religious imprint since the Kindle versions of my SF novels will be under the same imprint, along with cd’s or mp3’s of my music, if I ever get around to recording them. But nobody likes what I’ve come up with so far. Oh,well.

Third, I’m in the process of working out a new design of the website to coincide with the launch of all this previously mentioned stuff.

Finally, I’m editing the book code-named …and that’s the end of the news because, well, with a little work it’ll be ready to hit the markets. It deserves better than to sit in the metaphorical closet under the metaphorical bowling shoes.

Funny thing about and/news. After I got my Kindle in February, I decided to read the manuscript again in preparation for editing it. Thing is, I wanted to read it in such a way that I wouldn’t start marking it up, as is my instinct. Then I got a brilliant idea. I emailed it to my Kindle and read it there.

That experience was remarkable. It had the psychological impact – for me, anyway – of reading the book in a final form. I was able to actually step back and read it as a story, like it was coming out of a published book. At one point in my reading, I decided to try having the Kindle’s Text to Speech feature read parts of the book to me during my commute. And heavens to Betsy, what a rush that was. You’d have thought that I was listening to an official audio book narrated by James Earl Jones himself.

Then something else happened. I started to feel a little scared and a lot sad. Because for the first time, as I was reading one of my own pieces of writing, I could tell it was good. Really good. And then it hit me: what if I never write anything else this good again?.

That’s something I’m having to work through.

Currently, I’m about two-thirds of the way through taking a red pen to the manuscript. Then I will be going to the computer to put in the changes and rewrite from scratch some of the scenes that need work. Looking again at what I did, even with red pen in hand, that wistfulness and fear is coming back.

But I’ve decided to try and channel it.

I think and/news is good. And instead of being scared of it, I should let it make me feel confident that I can go on to another similarly epic project – not necessarily epic in pages, but epic in scope, perhaps. I’m thinking that perhaps soon will be a good time to start my UFO novel. Oddly enough, that book is going to be a study of human nature, and there’s going to be a lot of emotional depth to it. There’s emotional depth to and/news, so I’m thinking that perhaps it was a kind of dress rehearsal for writing the UFO book.

Instead of letting that fear and wistfulness intimidate me, I’m going to try and channel it into something good. So I’m looking at it as a kind of stagefright, the kind that always grips me on opening night. The feeling that, if I didn’t get it, I would worry about how lame my performance would be. Call it that jumpiness that a race horse gets before the gate opens, although my own personal thoroughbredness is questionable.

That’s where things stand today. I’m coming back onto the main road after the detour, the map is a little out of date, but I still pretty much know the way. Let’s see how far I can get before stopping to ask for directions.

Robert Palmer, R.I.P

Robert Palmer, ’80’s music icon and snappy dresser, has died at the age of 54.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t mention this – I tolerated his work but was never really a fan – except I know of someone who is going to be very upset: K, of And/News. The first time Richard sees her, she’s pumping coins into a juke box in a West Texas bar and dancing to Robert Palmer songs (I never even owned one of his records or CD’s until I started writing this book – I picked up a compilation of his hits to provide some atmosphere while I wrote).

I’ll definitely have to put some kind of reference to this in the book now, but I’ll have to decide where it will go. Maybe at the beginning I could have her say something to the effect that she went for a year or two without listening to him after he died. Or stick in a line somewhere like, “I don’t get all crazy like that when people die. Like I was sad when Robert Palmer died, but I didn’t get all suicidal.”

What’s interesting to me about K’s choice of music is the fact that she chose Robert Palmer, not me. Were it up to me, I would have given her a jones for a more obscure act that I felt deserved the attention, like Brian Protheroe, Spoons, or the Weimarband. But when I wrote that opening chapter of And/News, Richard walks into the bar to see her at the juke box, and she was dancing to… Surprise! The words I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On came out of my fingers.

Considering what happened to them next, it was a perfect choice.

I should have finished the book faster. I’d like to think that Palmer would have been chuffed to learn that he was K’s favorite artist.

NP – WHLO, The Bill Hall Show

Trouble Spots

Heading into two weeks before opening night, the rehearsals become more intense. I didn’t even take the computer tonight because I wanted to use any spare time to make sure I knew my lines.

Tomorrow night is a “trouble spots” rehearsal. Sounds like lots of musical numbers I’m not in are involved, so the iBook will make the trip. Now I’m thinking I can get chapter thirteen done before I hear back from Palm Digital Media about the PH book project.

Since I’ve passed the halfway point of the book and am on the drive to get it done, as usually happens, my mind is starting to wander and think about what the next project is going to be. The nominees so far are Deadline and a project I’ll call my Wyoming Novel.

They couldn’t be more different. Deadline I see as a short (50 – 70k) novel, and hopefully a quick write. WyoNov on the other hand will be a long project, probably 200k words or so (as long as the PH novels).

There are a couple of other projects that perhaps I should work on (since they’re both about half-finished), but they haven’t expressed a real desire to be finished. One is a psychological thriller that I’ve had a problem plotting. Every time I came up with something that worked as a suitable Macguffin, it ended up somewhere else. I was going to use illegal trade with Vietnam as a trigger, but then President Clinton normalized relations with that nation. Then I thought a batch of faulty pharmaceuticals would do the trick, and that showed up in the film version of The Fugitive. Then I decided to use a computer company that was selling off technology to the Chinese. But Mr. Clinton showed up again and spoiled that one, too. Boy, was I glad to see him leave office.

(Democrats just seem to have it in for me… the Deadline project was going to have as a player a British rock star named Ian… but Cindy Harrison beat me to that one. Note to self: Must write faster.)

The other is probably going to be my science fiction swan song. It’s a moody atmosphere piece based on the persistence of legend. I’ve been working at it on and off for about a dozen years or so. I am definitely going to finish it, but need more time to sit down and really concentrate on it, give it the attention it deserves.

Or something else might pop up that’s completely different. The way this mind of mine works, anything could happen. The only thing I know for certain is by the time I have the rough draft of And/News done, I’ll know what my next book will be.

It’ll be interesting to find out what choice my subconscious makes.

NP – Madonna, Ray of Light