WRITING A NOVEL? PART 5

WRITING A NOVEL? PART 5

BLOOD, TOIL, TEARS, SWEAT . . . EDITING Editing, blech! You’ve finished your novel? If so, you know only too well the blood, toil, and tears needed to reach the finish line. That’s the time to put our feet up, pour a glass, sit back, and smile. That’s when the plot bunny on the shoulder whispers the dreaded word . . . “edit.” Editing . . . Blech! Editing is the sweaty part of fictioneering, be it short story or novel. I’m the first to admit to the perils of rushing to print, relying on MS word to correct my spelling and grammar. Winston Churchill’s great speech referring to blood, toils, tears, and sweat was his call-to-arms when Britain faced an imminent threat of invasion and war. It also serves as a call-to-editing. In fact, Churchill was no stranger to editing. He rehearsed and edited his famous speeches up to the last moment. As a writer, he was a relentless self-editor. I’m still learning the craft of self-editing. That said, our writing must be subjected to a third party. A friend, if need be. A professional, if possible. Having a novel in print with CHAPTER THIRTEER serves as my reminder.…

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WRITING A NOVEL? PART 4

WRITING A NOVEL? PART 4

Ready, Fire, Aim: Getting it wrong When I asked someone in a writing group what her story was about, she said she didn’t know. Said, “I simply start writing. Eventually, I find out the direction the story is taking.” Huh? I think that’s wrong. What about you? Do you know what your story’s about? Have you ever started a road trip, route planned, map ready, car fueled, only to find a detour along the way? What if we never make it to the destination? I’ve had some happy memories visiting unplanned places. But to the best of my knowledge, I’ve never started the car, heading down the road with absolutely no clue where I’m going. Okay, that one time might be blamed to too much . . . I think writing’s like that. That first sentence is pointing to the last, the finale. My characters take detours, often ending up in unplanned places, but they always seem headed toward that last sentence. If the story-line takes a detour and doesn’t get back to the map, it may require taking an editorial knife to it. Skip the editing, and you’re sure to get it wrong Informed that Beat leader Jack Kerouac never rewrote…

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WRITING A NOVEL? PART 2

WRITING A NOVEL? PART 2

Part Two in the series. In part one, I wrote about the million books that will be published in 2018, seven-hundred and fifty thousand of them self-published. The bad news? Competition, going up against the sheer volume of new novels. The good news? We can get a slim toe-hold in the marketplace. There are three things we can do: have a good story, have a worthy cover, and make sure the interior supports your work. This part of the series is about step one in getting the story right. We’re told to follow the rules. After all, writers spend years getting degrees in the fine art of writing literature, learning the arcane terms describing what a novel must have. They should have the following eight components: concept, plot, story spine, character arc, protagonist fatal flaw, antagonist fatal flaw, setting, and voice. I’m not saying we should ignore the rules of writing, most are well tested. In addition to the eight mentioned above, we’re advised to know the end before we create a beginning. Each sentence should entice the reader to read the next, and so on. It still comes down to you writing your story. How do you want to…

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TERROR, TREPIDATION, TURMOIL, TURBULENCE, TORONTO

Shameless alliteration, I know. Those aren’t words often associated with the setting for The CleanSweep Conspiracy I could never wish harm to the city, but my devious side led me to write a story where Toronto felt terror, trepidation, turmoil, and turbulence. Bombs explode. Rioting becomes commonplace, and something like martial law is implemented. It gets worse when a ruthless billionaire intends to shape a city to his viewpoint.   In my story, ordinary people try to make things right again. Matt Tremain is a blogger wondering if anyone even notices. Carling is a career cop who avoids headlines. A reporter is well-respected, but facing a conspiracy? Those ordinary people finally decide to act, knowing consequence may be deadly. I don’t apologize for the destruction of Toronto. It’s only a story, right? This can’t happen in a city like Toronto. Indeed, no billionaires are plotting to erode our society in Toronto, Canada or the United States. Privacy? The next time you’re shopping look up for any dark glass camera pods. Confidentiality? The next time you do an online search. Smartphone? What about information our sim cards are transmitting? Government listening in? The CleanSweep Conspiracy is just a story. Nothing like…

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The CleanSweep Conspiracy

How many civil rights are you willing to give up for safety? In the aftermath of devastating riots, investigative blogger Matt Tremain thinks his city may have surrendered too much.     Chapter 1 UNEXPECTED EVENTS   So far, it had been an ordinary day. It was a Thursday morning, his least favorite day of the week, when he walked into Le Rôti Français, a popular coffeehouse in Yorkville. A caffeinated menu filled an entire wall. He tried to ignore the TV mounted on the wall behind the service counter. Ever since the riots, there had been little news other than continuous coverage of the destruction. Action 21 News was the only station back on the air, and they had been airing commercial-free, nonstop updates about the rioting. Many, like Matt, were beginning to feel anesthetized by the recurrent stories and images. Walking through the door, Matthew Tremain noticed a woman watching him—or, rather, noticing his slight limp. The limp was evident but not prominent. A speed bump in his DNA’s double helix had caused one leg to be a bit shorter than the other. It was that way the day he was born, and it was still that way…

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Writing a novel is easy, right?

A man walked up to my table at a book fair. “Writing a novel is easy, right? “I have this story I want to write. Tell me where to start?” I gave him the advice I heard from someone once.  “The beginning is easy. What comes next is hard,” I said. “Huh,” he said. “First, you need to get a license. Do you have one?” “I had no idea,” he said. “Where do I get one.” “The Department of Creative Writing,” I told him. “Each state capital has one, or province if you live in Canada. You have to pass a test. The written part is the hardest,” I added. “I had no idea,” he said again, starting to sound repetitious. OK, the conversation didn’t go exactly like that. Still, we’ve all had one close to that. We’ve been asked where we get our ideas. Is it hard? How long does it take to write a novel? I did have a woman tell me she would like to write but didn’t have an imagination. I would be lost without my imaginary friends and enemies. I’ve been fortunate to have Alec telling me his story that chronicled his journey to Spain…

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News

In the exciting news department, I’m pleased to be joined by a guest blogger soon. This one comes with jaw-dropping creds. From Taekwondo, University degree, the National Guard as an MP (with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan), a graduate degree, and now working inside the DC beltway. The full bio will be posted shortly. Oh yeah, she’s also a terrific writer. You will hear more about her soon. She has some fascinating stories and I suspect there’s a wild mind writing, waiting to tell her stories. That’s not the only tease. How about a new cover reveal? How many civil rights are your willing to give up for safety? In the aftermath of devastating riots, investigative blogger Matt Tremain thinks his city may have surrendered far too much. Matt published Verité, a simple blog dedicated to writing about the truth and exposing scams. Currently, he is following up on rumors concerning something call CleanSweep, a mysterious project in Toronto, Canada. May you keep your eyes open to see the new, your ears tuned to quiet, and your heart filled with calm. After all, you can dress a goat in a tuxedo, but it’s still a goat. Chuck

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A place of writing, a place for writers, and those people all writers have a special love for … readers.

I love being a writer, something that allows me the opportunity to spend time with imaginary friends, some good, some truly evil. I quit trying to figure out where they come from. Instead, simply have fun with them. In fact, I am meeting some new characters today. I wonder what their story will be. It began with my father. He introduced me to make-believe friends, a family of friendly ghosts. Coming out of the Great Depression, he needed to use his imagination when he didn’t have money for books. They may have been ghosts, but they weren’t scary to me. They were a fictional family of “Who Am I”, including aunts, uncles, cousins and more. Seven decades later I can still hear his voice telling me about the father, Who am I, and his wife What am I. The children had names like Why am I, Where am I, and so on. What a challenge it must have been for hem to juggle names, places, and situations. His talent was using that imagination of his. He made up those stories as he went along, used to improvising like the jazz musician he was. He closed his eyes and spoke with…

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Attack of the Plot Bunnies

Bitten by the plot bunny? When did I first admit to being a writer? For me, it was 1989 as best as I can recall. That was the year the Berlin Wall came down, the Exxon Valdez ran aground, and the 49ers beat the Bengals in the Super Bowl. People were listening to Madonna singing Like a Prayer and going to see Good Morning Vietnam at the movies. The Cosby Show ruled the airways. Alas, Robin Williams is now gone, and Cosby…well, that was 1989. On the literary scene, Anne Tyler won the Pulitzer Prize for Breathing Lesson and Camilo Jose Cela won the Nobel Prize for Literature. My favorite writer, John Le Carre, published The Russia House. And I signed up for my first writing class. I tip my hat to the memory of Henrietta Blake and her class on short stories. How was I to realize her teaching would open the lid, letting the writing genie out of the bottle?  Over the years, I have both loved the genie when the words were flowing and detested that genie, staring at a blank page. Story ideas started to creep into my mind like a cat, belly low, sneaking up on me. I wrote a story, then another, then…

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