My “Gone With The Wind” (I Laughed)

When you have finished the rough draft of your latest book one day earlier than you had targeted it for completion, what do you do? Well, I sat there stunned and shattered. Later, I watched an old film and decompressed:

And I went for a quick walk:

I did not go inside. I resisted. I had thought, though, maybe…

Earlier, I had also “freed” my book at last from the confines of a PC file and printed the ENTIRE manuscript for the first time. In its three dimensional form it’s now 516 pages (double-sided printed, of course) and it took the printer about three hours to work through it all. At last I could point to it and say, 13 months of work (so far):

Conventions: The Garden At Paris. The manuscript. It is no longer just an abstraction sitting in a PC. [Photo by me, 2017.]
Conventions: The Garden At Paris. The manuscript. It is no longer just an abstraction sitting in a PC. [Photo by me, 2017.]

I was so pleased, as you see I took a photo of it. As I looked at it, I thought as well that I still couldn’t believe it. All of that had once been merely an “idea” bouncing around vaguely in my head.

Soon the “editor” – she may well be reading this post – will receive a copy. Now the truly scary part commences. I hope she has a spare month or so of reading time!

I have just Facetimed my wife in Portugal and waved it at her: “My Gone With The Wind,” I laughed.

She came back, “Let’s hope it sells like that!”

Indeed, and as I look again now at that huge pile of paper, my uncle comes to mind. If you are a regular visitor, you know he died in October 2015. He had been a crime novelist published starting in the early 1980s by “big name” companies.

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The All-Consuming “Monster”

On Friday, Kate Colby wrote a thoughtful post on “writing through your fear” – including on a writer needing to face down worries about receiving poor reviews. I liked it so much I left her this comment:

Great post, Kate. So well put – especially on the fear of poor reviews issue.

I’m sure no author likes a 1 star Amazon review. After all, who wants to read someone saying you’ve written junk? It’s human to fear scathing criticism.

When I write, I always remind myself that EVERY author produces books that earn them some negative reactions. Even J.K. Rowling gets poor reviews. It is impossible to write and expect to achieve universal applause, and if that’s a writer’s yardstick for success I would suggest that person find another line of work. πŸ™‚

And she liked that comment! It earned a positive review!πŸ˜‚

All kidding aside, it’s a remarkable coincidence Kate wrote that as I am almost finished with my single biggest novel-writing effort yet. To use the clichΓ©, my “moment of truth” is fast approaching. Eventually someone other than myself has to read the entire book.

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Behind The Literary Mask

Writing in the New York Review of Books, an Italian journalist claims he may have uncovered the real-life identity of a pseudonymous huge selling Italian author:

Screen capture of the Guardian.
Screen capture of the Guardian.

The perpetual “interest” some seem to have in who’s actually “behind the mask” – and in “unmasking” them.

LOTS of “Elena Ferrante’s” readers are apparently ***NOT*** happy about this effort. Social media is full of angry assertions it’s an unwarranted intrusion into the life of someone seeking to remain anonymous and merely write. One fear I’ve also seen voiced is that if it proves accurate it may well mean “she” will never write another book.

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What Fiction Is Supposed To Do

A well-regarded children’s author on what “kids need to see” in books:

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

And who could really take issue with that? It seems reasonable enough. And not being a children’s author I have no opinion about what children’s authors believe “kids need” – kids are their audience after all.

Yet as I thought about it, something about that sentence bothered me. If that declaration may be made so definitively about what “needs” to be in youngsters’ books, one would think something similar may be asserted about books for everyone older than that. Indeed I have here and there seen that “need” raised about books for “oldsters” as well.

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Your Mark On Forever

I just got a text from my 18 year old niece. Her flight landed a little while ago in Belfast. She starts at university there on Monday.

How can she possibly be 18? Because that’s life for all of us. It’s the inevitable passage of time.

Thinking this morning about what I’ve worked on in recent days (examples are here and here) while the wife was away in Lisbon, and also in total over the last few months, I’m pleased for the moment at least.

Among what I listen to while writing. When the wife arrived home, she had, uh, caught me...listening to Sara Bareilles in the house. [Screen capture of my iPhone yesterday.]
Among what I listen to while writing. When the wife arrived home, she had, uh, caught me…listening to Sara Bareilles in the house. [Screen capture of my iPhone yesterday.]

Having finished another chapter, as I skimmed and re-read other more complete parts of that Conventions manuscript yesterday, briefly I’d disjointedly thought something along these lines:

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“I enjoyed this book….”

I saw this yesterday on Google+ (via Adele Archer and DL Keur). It’s a link to a Grimace and Giggle piece by author Russ Linton. He writes on Amazon’s “cracking down” on reviews written by those with a so-called “established relationship” with the author:

Screen capture of Google+.
Screen capture of Google+.

A year and a half ago I noted how ugly I believed at times the “reviews” issue had become on Amazon. It’s a problem not unlike what we also encounter regularly on TripAdvisor – including (if we authors think we’ve got troubles) the dimwits who “rated” Auschwitz. Given Russ’s post, I thought I’d revisit a few of my thoughts here, and expand on them slightly.

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The Big Fear: “What if it’s awful?”

Whether we like it or not, life is one big risk-taking venture. Yet fearing to fail is one reason most of us don’t try to do what we want to do. Who really wants to look like a fool?

Free Stock Photo: Closeup of business man burying head in hand.
Free Stock Photo: Closeup of business man burying head in hand.

So failure may be in the back of our mind. But I have usually found myself motivated to achieve something positive as being worth the risk of failing. I enjoy proving doubters wrong as well, and although I haven’t always succeeded on that score, whenever I have it has been a tremendously satisfying feeling.

I ventured into fiction-writing because I felt certain that if I put my back into it I could produce novels that would be solid reading. Now, though, I’ve moved my own goal posts. After three semi-biographical/ semi-autobiographical novels, the idea of trying something new within fiction is more than a bit intimidating, and even scary.

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The Evolution Of A Routine

Well, I’ve got the Google+ page up and running. (With a bit of help! Thank you, Adele!) Setting it up jogged my memory back to this post from what now seems so long ago December 2013. In it (back when almost no one was reading this blog! πŸ˜‰ ), I wrote in part:

….Having previously worked in education, and then as a consultant, I have been used to working on my own and sometimes at home. While writing fiction is new to me, my new routine is not much different from previous ones.

A long-published writer relation of mine years ago told me he even found it difficult to avoid being bothered during the day. The assumption was that, being home, he must be β€œavailable.” He reached the point where he would rarely answer the phone (his answering machine always picked up), and never answered his door. β€œIf I was in an office somewhere,” he said, β€œI wouldn’t be home to answer the door. When I’m working, I’m not here.”

He would write early in the day, and then head out to the gym or meet friends, and then return home to write more in the afternoon. It worked for him. That was also then pre-social media….

That “long-published writer relation” was, of course, my now late uncle. I remember visiting with him a bunch of times when I was a graduate student – when the rest of the “adult-world” was mostly out at their places of employment. I recall too how my now late mother used to poke fun at “Hemingway” (her nickname for him): “Is he actually writing anything?!”

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E-Books Are Here To Stay

Have you read any good books lately (besides any of mine)? πŸ˜‰ If so, on which “platform?” E-book or paperback?

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

Thus tweets the editor of the New York Times Book Review. Some replying have questioned it, pointing out for instance that it is just one year, and also that many e-books are “overpriced” by large publishers while many paperbacks are “priced to sell.” Yet it does once more address that tantalizing question: E-books or paperbacks?

I hate talking money. However, occasionally we do all alas have to nod to it in life. Many readers might not know: Kindle and other e-readers have been a real boost for us lesser-knowns and those looking to break into authoring, who often indie publish to get a start.

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PUBLISHED: Distances: “A dam’d good book”

Well, I suppose I’m now another “unemployed” author – at least until I decide to start on the next novel:


So that’s that. PUBLISHED. Another year of work completed.

The back and front covers for "Distances" - the print version.
The back and front covers for “Distances” – the print version.

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