Saturday, December 9, 2017

What I've Been Doing

Well, its been a while but at last I am about to send out my second MS to an agent.  For the past few years I haven't been sitting in a comfortable chair, twiddling my fingers, staring at the sun; rather I've been in front of a computer screen.  Fully concentrating on my novel, even though I have to confess it seems like I've progressed in fits and starts .  Now, at last, I see a work that I really want to submit, something I hope others will enjoy as much as I have in writing it.  Especially an agent.

Over the past several years, in order to write, I have had a hand me down computer on my desk.  I endured this recalcitrant machine, until at last it gave up the ghost and died; literally, one keystroke at a time.  The computer would accept one letter then pause before allowing me to strike the next one.  It was so frustrating.  The computer's unwillingness to follow my directions, finally forced me to buy a new one.

She's a beauty, large white plastic encased screen, a keyboard that doesn't do repetitive letters if my fingers don't move quickly enough.  So easy to use and it does so many wonderful things that the one I had been given years ago couldn't do.

Moving on from this difficult time, I feel bad for my poor character, Henry, a psychopathic, serial killer.  I have left him languishing on a pier in a lake on his Orange Grove outside Orlando; just waiting for me to pick him up again.  Henry has to stay there a little longer, while I figure out another ending.  Being eaten by an alligator is so Florida that there has to be another way I can help him leave the scene, perhaps even alive.

While he waits, Phillip, my Vampire and his cohorts, have been busy, growing in strength and vitality while floating in my imagination.  They've been busy loving, living, gorging on others and creating havoc for their small yet continually disintegrating coven.  I am a huge fan of Anne Rice and her 'Vampire Chronicles'.  Like this wonderful author, I have tried to make my characters sympathetic, charismatic and flawed.

As I've said before, Phillip and the others in this novel have absolutely taken me over in the writing.  Not in an unhealthy way.  They flood my consciousness and unconsciousness.  Awake or asleep they talk to me, give me ideas, places, situations, dialogue and their problem resolutions, which then flow through my fingers and onto the screen.  Without my love of words they couldn't exist, so they let me breathe life into them.

Happily, I am progressing through the last review and rewrite, (count them three, plus 1 year of editing and review by others).  Now, I only have the last 50 pages to go over before I can send it off.  Unfortunately, I have during this review, keep picking up flaws and sections that need to be expanded.  So, the work gets longer, but I think better.  I know this is my first book and it probably shouldn't be send out, but as a fairly new writer, I think its important to take the chance that someone will see value and potential in my writing and help me.  Fingers crossed.

I don't want anything more for Christmas than to be accepted by an agent.  If my novel isn't accepted somewhere, Phillip and I will be very upset. My holiday spirit will survive but he and I might drink a little more eggnog than usual during this season.

The writers group I facilitate is still going, 7 years strong.  This group has given me great pleasure, it is wonderful to see writers grow in their craft and seek to publish their own works.  I congratulate all of them.  A poet in the group has been recognized by the library system here, they chose her poem in a contest; she was asked to and then presented it at their annual dinner.

As a result of this dinner and the beauty of her poem, she was asked to participate in a television program describing the process of writing poetry, we are all very proud of her.

Now for my Kindle, I am currently rereading "Alaska" by James Michener.  A truly wonderful book by a great writer and researcher.  It deals with the Native Peoples of Alaska, the founding of Russian settlements along with the growth of Alaska's fur trade.  That is as far as I've gotten, there is much more to go. 

If you haven't reread Michener in a while or never read his works, you might give them a try.  His investigation into and knowledge of different world cultures, the history of places, and an understanding of the human psyche; combined with the scope of his intellect and language are breathtaking.  He was truly a master of the written word.

I also have and can't wait to read a book published in the early nineteenth century, 'The Worst Journey in the world: 1910-1913' by Apsley Cherry-Garrard about his study of penguin eggs and survival in Antarctica as part of Robert Falcon Scott's ill fated expedition.  Using scientific investigation of penguin eggs he wanted to follow their embryonic development in the shell, hoping he could prove an evolutionary link between penguins and reptiles.  Remember, this was the beginning of the second decade of the twentieth century.  His book also covers Scott's expeditions hardships and their struggles in that frozen world. 

Then, I also have 'Thoreau: A Life' by Laura Dassow Walls.  I haven't started it yet but look forward to doing so.

So until next time, I hope we all keep writing, we need our voices and stories to be heard just like the author's I've mentioned in this post.

Happy Holidays to everyone out there, embrace those close to you, pass your joy, love and happiness that lie inside with them.  Also, please share these same sentiments with any strangers who are lucky enough to pass you by everyday. 

Your small act of kindness may be just what that person needs during the holidays.  

    

Monday, August 17, 2009

Read Your MS

It has again been a while since I last wrote anything on my blog. It isn't for a lack of things to say, but merely the reality that I keep forgetting how to get into the blog to write. Thanks to my sister for creating a counter on Thursday for me as of today I've had 32 hits since then. Now that could be one person 32 times or two people 16 times so on and so on...But thanks if you are the one person or two people, thank you for taking the time to check.

I have been kept busy writing. I'm continuing to edit my Vampire story and have noticed that I never described my main character, Agnes(shocking). So I think that I may have added a little more flesh to her bones(so to speak).

Rewriting has given me an opportunity to flesh out other characters and situations as well. While writing my MS I have reread or read my story to the group for critique. I listen for the cadence. By reading aloud you can hear the spoken word but you may lose or not recognize flaws in content. You can so lost in the flow of words that you can't see or hear opportunities to simplify complex language structure or situations in which your characters may find themselves. That is why reading from the written page by the author is so important. If you don't become bored, as I've become at times, you may catch your weaknesses.

I should do as I say, of course my yellow pen has only traveled 100 pages in my MS so far. But at the end of the day when I'm finished(I usually write or rewrite for three to five hours, or more if I'm in the mood. I am then ready to put my characters to bed for the night.

I'd like to say hello to Laura and David. They were two very vocal members of our writing groups and they are sorely missed. Florida's loss is Texas' gain. It would be nice though if they could have remained with us.

My bedside table now has two new books on it. I finished Drood by Dan Simmons. It is a tremendous story and very absorbing. It describes the relationship between two authors in the mid 19th century. Good story, believable characters and a lot of twists, turns and surprises.

I am now reading a book published in 1997, Drums of Autumn written by Diana Gabaldon. I have thoroughly enjoyed her stories regarding regarding the trials and tribulations of Claire and Jamie Fraser.

The second book is Assegai by Wilbur Smith published May, 2009, set in 1913 per World War Africa. I am looking forward to starting this, I'm familiar with and enjoyed other books by Mr. Smith.

Well I am going to close for now. I think I'll return to this blog in a few days. Thanks everyone.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Wedding in Paradise

Well it seems that I have been properly chastened. The other night at the writers Group I attend in Groveland, Florida, I was asked why I hadn't posted anything lately. I was shocked that people were interested or still looking at what I write. I have been trying since last Tuesday to figure out how to access my blog in order to write something. Today I succeeded, so here I go.

I want to congratulate and wish the very best for two very dear friends L and D on their upcoming marriage. L You will be a beautiful bride and D you're a lucky groom. I hope the future showers many blessing on you both. By the way, enjoy the Ugiehers (sp). If they show up take a picture with them for me. They should be the ones with the beards and the Obama Button on their lapel.

Since I last updated The Pencil Pusher, I've been busy writing about my character Henry. He is a serial killer and a lot of fun to work with. The book is going slowly but I am pleased that the poor psychopath, now has a romantic rival interested in the woman he has been focused on.

However, I think my Vampire manuscript is in trouble. If you remember, that's the one I sent off to the Agent before I'd read it. I have been editing it but I keep falling asleep. I'm not talking about nodding off for a few minutes, I mean I've fallen asleep for two hours at a time. Will it never end? Thankfully, I've only 385 pages to finish the first reading.

I'd like to mention the three books on my night table. I'm reading Postmortem: Establishing the Cause of Death by Dr. Steven Koehler and Dr. Cyril Wecht. This is a good resource for writers who are interested in the nuts and bolts of how different ways of killing or accidental death affect the body.

On a lighter note I'm reading Drood by Dan Simmons. According to the author Drood is the name of the nightmare that obsesses Charles Dickens during the last five years of his life. I did say lighter didn't I? I think I missed the mark. But I'm enjoying it very much.

I am also reading People of the Thunder by husband and wife team W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O' Neal Gear. Two people I would love to have dinner and drinks with. Their books are heavily researched. The pair are archeologists(among other things) and their novels describe the lives of various paleolithic and archaic native American tribes .


The last is The Wheel of Darkness by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs. They are another team of writers that Id like to spend time with. I think I've read this one before but I will read it again. Their plot lines and twists and sense of dread are wonderful and exciting even the second time around.

Thank you to those who have slugged their way to this point. Please let me know what you are reading or working on, leave a message.

Advice for the day: If you are being bothered by someones unkindness, always remember the person or persons who are the most unhappy and insecure in their own life deflect their inner self disgust by being cruel to the person that means the most to them, try not to add fire to their anger. It only makes them more unpleasant.

Signing off until next time, Bob

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rejection by E-mail

Well I'm back, fire ant scars and all. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday with their friends and families. I was fortunate enough to be able to share mine with long time friends from Maryland and Orlando. The meal was fantastic. Lamb, ham and all the other goodies. Thanks Andrea.

Met a fabulous singer there who is appearing at Beluga's jam sessions in Winter Park. She has a great throaty voice, wonderful mezzo, and sings blues and jazz. Her name is Miss Jacqueline Jones check her out you won't be disappointed.

I have had the most wonderful experience for a writer. Last week I received my first rejection e-mail from an agent I had submitted my work to. The reason why I believe it was a good experience for me is that it forced me to take a closer look at the manuscript I'd sent. She was very kind in her note and I thank her for that. It is unfortunate that I wasted a great opportunity by sending an MS that wasn't ready.

I would like to focus on some of the things I discovered. I am a type A personality. You know who we are. The person, who is cocky, sure of themselves and often pushy. The type of person who never doubts for a moment that they will succeed at whatever they put their hand to.

I sat down the other day in a very comfortable chair with my yellow pen. Opening the MS I began. Reading the page, my finger moving along each line, my mouth sounding out the words for my ear. I was horrified by what I saw. The language was so flowery at times I thought I needed a vase. Then I began cutting out things. First the flowery phrases had to go. I then turned to redundant phrases. How many ways are there to say the sky was beautiful or someone is upset.

According to my manuscript many, many ways. I covered thirty pages that afternoon and whittled it down to fifteen pages. No wonder it was rejected. I had duplicated people, events and explained relationships and characters reactions over and over again.

I though that my work product was the number of words I produced or how many hours I sat at the computer, but I've learned something I'd forgotten. The main reason I write is because I not only love the work but also because I want to send out a wonderful story. So I will continue to read and strike out phrases and rewrite until I truly feel it is ready for the readers who will open the cover in anticipation of a good story.

Perhaps I will devote the next blog to one of my short stories. Let me know if you would like to read something I've written. But for now I am going to have a drink. It's been a long day.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Senior Moments and Fire Ants

I've had an interesting weekend. I visited with my sister om Sunday. She returns to North Carolina on Tuesday. They've bought a place in Lady Lake so I know they will be down more often.

I planted my Pineapple plants on Saturday night. My feet and hands are covered with fire ant bites. It seems they like Pineapples too. That and I stood on top of their nest to dig the hole for the plants. My feet and toes swelled up. nasty creatures.

Have been working on the butcher. He has run over a courier on a bicycle by accident. The courier had discovered one of his victims earlier so he is coming full circle. I was given a great book on forensics by a good friend. Postmortem, Establishing the Cause of Death by Dr. Steven Koehler and Dr. Cyril Wecht. The pictures make you dizzy but the narrative spells out step by step the process of identification and who is involved at what stage. Very interesting.

I've finished reading Hannibel Rising and am now reading Whiteout by Ken Follett. Hannibel was rather gruesome but not as graphic as the films. Whiteout seemed somewhat familiar when I started and sure enough half way through I came across a line that confirmed my suspicions. I have read it before...it is a problem when you have extended senior momenst but even those moments don't stay with me for very long.

Well I'm off to soak my feet. I'll be back later.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Challenged

Thanks to Donna K., I'm back! Last Thursday, a friend of mine lost her husband after 51 years together. I went to his memorial service yesterday. It was impressive and amazing. During the service, I not only thought of my friend and her husband, but also back to those I too have lost over the years. It was very moving. I would like to think that when I remembered those I've lost, they came forward to welcome her husband.

During the service Taps was played on a bugle after a 21 gun salute. I've heard this done in the movies but never in a service before. It was very moving. Our Writing Group members were there to support our friend and her family. Our group is very close. I have seen posts for other groups describing how close they are. It seems that our closeness follows true. The concept of sharing our work exposes each of us to the others on a deeper level. I think all writers old hands or new should be part of a writing group. The pencil is good to us but sharing is good for us too. Writers are funny people. Put them all together in one room and watch. You will see levels of trust, respect and protectiveness develop among the members faster than you will with a room full of Community Developers.

I would like to thank those of you who saw this blog and left comments. Read their comments. I enjoyed them and they're true. Involve the reader, don't complicate the world, be real and balance the info between detail dialogue and setting.

I have finished two books Byzantium and Voyage of 1896. Enjoyed them and am now on Hannibal Rising, about Hannibal Lechter's childhood. Seems he had a split brain.

I have been working on some of my own things. I received a rejection from an agency. It was thrilling. They told me the work had merit and should be submitted elsewhere. I am reading it again before I submit to someone else.

It is about Vampires set in 16th century Cuba. Involves a conflict between two brothers and their sister. The sister forced into a convent, arouses the love of a vampire who turns her and ruins his coven.

I am also working on a serial killer piece set in modern day Florida. He is a paranoid schizophrenic desperate to find company. No I have not modeled the character after myself. I am not mentally challenged. I have a piece of paper that says so. I think it's still in the bureau, Oh. Oh, I think I see people outside my window.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Another Sleepless Night

Thanks to my sister Martha, her husband Don, my friends Donna, K.and Ryland Y. and Ron R., I have spent a very difficult night. With their help I now have a blog. But what am I going to do with it?"

I think everyone has had this experience at one time or another. It was one of those sleep periods when you toss and turn and have to keep reaching for your note pad and pencil to record ideas flooding your consciousness. Ideas that will be a vague memory in the morning.

With the light of day you scan the sheets of paper. What you find is the ideas may have seemed better in the darkness or their rationale has been lost because your penmanship is so bad you can't make out the scribbles(you were too lazy to put your glasses on).

So what did I come up with you might ask. I thought it might be fun to do a section on "My Bedside Table" and list books I am reading. Currently the three are: Voyage, a Novel of 1896, by Sterling Hayden, Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris author of Silence of the Lambs, The Husband by Dean Koontz. What are you reading?

Other thoughts captured last night before sleep, from the mind of a Community Developer were, Yes, there are more of us than the President. The ideas were:

As an individual looking at a shelf of books, what is it about a particular book that makes you want to take a second look?

While reading a book what is it about the book that makes it sing for you?

Besides insomnia, what is it about a book that makes you stay up all night reading?

After obtaining a book, what makes you close the cover never to open it again?

These questions are usually answered by saying, plot, action, character development, theme, cohesiveness or insomnia. These answers while true do not represent the whole, I believe thinking about these questions a deeper reason will emerge that is a clearer understanding of what makes books work. Any thoughts?

I'm going to sleep on these questions and perhaps in the morning I will have a sheet of paper filled with answers.