Categories
Favorite Authors

Jeff Strand

First, a bit of a warning – Jeff Strand is not a MG writer. His focus is on horror, and a lot of comedic horror. But I think his writing is ok for a lot of kids. Read on and decide for yourself.

When I was 10, I started reading Stephen King, and he remains one of my favorite authors. I like horror books. I know a lot of kids do also. Look at the continuing popularity of Goosebumps.

I missed the Goosebumps explosion by being too old, but my kids loved them. If your kids have read R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps and loved them, but have outgrown those books, Jeff Strand may be worth checking out.

Be warned – while most of his books are probably OK for mid-teen aged children, not all of them are. There might be some swearing in even the appropriate books, so beware. But he does have some books aimed at Middle Grade.

Strand’s writing is quirky and easy to read. He doesn’t try to get flowery and the pace of the books moves along. They are the type of book’s that are hard to put down and pause in reading the adventure. The first book of his that I read was Cyclop’s Road, and I kept at it almost nonstop because it was so good.

I mentioned Goosebumps above and one of the reasons I like Jeff Strand is that his books are like Goosebumps for adults. His books are something that you and your kids can enjoy.

One of his books, the Haunted Forest Tour, inspired me to write a short story. Check it out.

If your kids (or even you) are looking for a good horror, Jeff Strand fits the bill. If you’d like a good comedy horror, he is definitely your man.

 

Categories
Favorite Bookstores

Cupboardmaker Books

I’ll make this easy – this is one of my all time favorite bookstores. Ever. ‘Nuff said.

If you are in the Harrisburg Pennsylvania area, it is definitely worth a detour to get to this store. They have SOOOOO many books. And lots of books that I hadn’t found anywhere else were here. There is just so much to look through. Even my pre-teen was so excited that he looked through several shelves of books, which he doesn’t usually do.

The topper is that this is also a cat rescue. There are kitties everywhere and some very humorous signs about cats. If you like cats and books – and who doesn’t – this is worth going. In fact, our family has plans to do a several hour trip to include this.

Categories
Favorite Books

The Dragonlance Chronicles

For my 16th birthday, my aunt gave me a fantasy book. She really  had no idea what I liked or what this book was about, she just knew I read a lot and that this was a new and hot book. Turns out it was one of the best birthday presents I ever got.

The Dragonlance Chronicles takes you on a journey to a fantasy world, similar to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. There are elves and magic and interesting places and creatures. I liked this series better because it was much easier to get into and digest. I could picture what was going on in my head and imaging the people and the world much better than I could when I read Tolkien.

The people you meet are extremely interesting. Tanis, their leader, isn’t a 2d doogooder. He is conflicted and has self-doubt. The magician Raistlin seems like a bad guy but may not be. The curious Kender, Tasslehoff, is easy to relate to and have fun with (he and the dwarf, Flint, remind me a bit of a couple of droids in one of my favorite movies.)

The book is good for older kids. There is some violence with fighting and people killing each other, but it’s not graphic. Similar to what’s in Lord of the Rings or in a movie like Iron Man. There is some hint at sexuality, which is why it’s recommended for older kids – say 14 and above as a guideline.

This is another of my all time favorite books. Most of my friends borrowed this and my original copy is so worn I don’t think I could actually read it without most of the pages falling out. The link below takes you to Amazon if you are interested (but the price is a bit higher than the $3 original cover price.)

Dragonlance Chronicles

Categories
Stories

Prime book box

Parents, remember the days of Columbia record club? Maybe you don’t. How about Book of the month club?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the book of the month club would send you a new book every month. You would tell them what types of books you like and each month get one sent to you. There were also record and cassette of the month clubs fo rmusic.

Amazon is reviving the joy of monthly mail deliveries with their Prime Book Club. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can sign up to receive books for your children. They have several different age groupings and will send 2 books at your designated time.

If you’ve been looking for a way to spark your kids to read, this could be it. I remember receiving Disney and Dr. Seuss books through the mail. I eagerly anticipated each shipment and would rip it open to see what new books were sent. I’m sure your kids are the same when they get something. Breeding that euphoric feeling when they ead books is one step to them becoming lifetime readers.

I’m not associated with Amazon Prime book box, but I’d still encourage you to check it out and see if it’s something that would be right for your kids.

Categories
- Town Magician Art

Town Magician Art

Below are some renditions of Town Magician.

The final battle with Morzul
Categories
Favorite Books Reading

The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill

This is one of my all time favorite books, but it’s probably one that most people don’t know.

In The Pushcart War, we journey back in time to the early 1900’s. Cities are bustling and filling with cars and trucks. Still, there are vendors selling out of pushcarts – kind of like large wheelbarrows and similar to a food vendor’s cart.

The times are in transition, and there is conflict between the pushcarts, that have controlled the streets for years, and the new trucks, who think they own the road. There is war.

The lighthearted way that commerce and unions are used in this book is what makes it so fascinating. And the fact that instead of guns, the pushcart people resort to … well, I’ll let you find out.

This may be a surprise hit with the kids. It’s engaging and whimsical. It may seem a bit outdated, but it doesn’t lose  any of the storytelling.

Appropriate for all ages.

The below link will take you to Amazon if you would like to get this one.

The Pushcart War – Jean Merrill

Categories
Events Misc

Coronavirus lockdown activities for kids

As we keep hearing over and over, the coronavirus lockdown is changing the world. I’m sure for most parents, you don’t care how it’s going to change the world later, what you care about right now is taking care of your kids.

I would like to offer a bit to help with that. I have been working on adding books to my list of favorite books. These may be books that your kids haven’t read, so it’s a good page to visit to find them something to read – especially if they’ve read everything out there it seems.

One of my other goals as a middle grade author is to encourage and help kids to write. I have a growing page of resources for parents and teachers to help them get kids reading and writing.

I also have a page dedicated to getting more writing exercises out for kids – coronavirus stay in activities page. If you’re like most parents, you’re looking for as many fun and creative ways to engage your children and stem off boredom and I hope the activities I am gathering help with that.

Keep an eye out for more activities and check back for new reviews. If you would like to join my list, I will send some short stories and coloring pages. When I have new books and stories, those on the list will be the first to know and hear about them.

This is one adventure that we are all on and our kids will remember. Let’s keep them exploring their own creativity and visiting other worlds through story. I wish you the best.

 

Categories
Favorite Books Reading

Sizzle – Lee Mclain

First, full disclosure – I met Lee McClain several years ago. She and another author were talking books. I didn’t know either of them were authors and jumped in with my 2 cents. 🙂 Anyway, found out she writes christian romance, which isn’t a genre I like to read, but she said she had written this one Middle Grade book. Ok, that I would give a try to.

Now, as you may know, my favorite genre is fantasy. Sizzle is definitely not fantasy. I felt for the girl, Linda, because she really had a hard time. What she really wanted to do was cook, but seemed to be thwarted at every turn.

I know a lot of kids aren’t into fantasy, and that’s fine because there are so many books out there to meet any of their tastes (ha ha, I used tastes with a book about cooking.) This is a very clean book, but it takes kids to a world they may not be familiar with as there is a lot of focus on the main characters Mexican background. There is quite a bit of talk about the food she learned to cook. Maybe it would inspire kids to try foods from other countries, that’s great.

I also loved the Aunt that had a TV show called Cooking with Cans! That is so great – why don’t we have a real show like that. But I can really appreciate Linda wanting to cook with fresh ingredients. That’s how I grew up, and I think more kids should experience that but don’t get the chance to do so.

If you’re looking for a good book that your child can relate to, this is a great choice. If they are at all interested in cooking they can probably relate to the main character quite a bit.

The below link takes you to Amazon if you are interested in the book.

Sizzle on Amazon

Categories
Favorite Bookstores

German village book store

Don’t you just love to walk into a book store? All the possibilities! And even better, is when you go into a bookstore that has quite a bit of atmosphere – you know, the kind that just calls to you and draws you in.

Books are fantastic travel companions. You can visit not only other places, but other times and even other planets. Anything you want, there is a book that can help you be there.

The great thing about the Book Loft in German Village (Columbus, Ohio), is that you can find most of the books you want to travel with and do it in a wonderful and unique setting. I mean, take a look at the picture – it’s so cool.

If you would like to pretend that you are an explorer and looking for a lost treasure, this is the place to do it. The layout is a bit chaotic, but each room is dedicated to a specific type of book or genre. It’s just not always an easy, straight course to get from one room to another. All it really needs is shifting staircases. Check out the video:

If you are looking for a book, this place probably has it. While they aren’t a used bookstore, the selection is phenomenal. If you are passing through the area, it is well worth stopping.

Categories
Favorite Books Reading

Call of the Wild – Jack London

Let’s take a journey back in time, to the gold rush of the late 1800’s. Let’s go, not to warm California like you may think, but further up north. In “Call of the Wild” you’ll visit the frozen area’s around Alaska and Canada, almost up to the north pole.
Our hero is a dog named Buck and we follow him as his journey takes him from his warm comfortable home to become a sled dog. Life isn’t easy and there is much he has to learn on the way, but he taps into the savagery of his ancestors and learns to survive.
This book presents many aspects to the days and life of prospectors. The dog sled team is charged with delivering supplies and mail. They are owned by incompetent people and cruel people, but also loving and kind people.
Join Buck on his journey from domesticated dog to wild animal.

Parents – I love Jack London and read this book when I was much younger. It may actually be less exciting for some kids in today’s world, so you might want to check it out a bit first, lest your child gets bored. This book would probably appeal to boys more than girls, though that by no means is saying girls won’t like it. The book is clean as far as adult situations and words go, but there is some savagery and brutality, so be aware. It is a reflection of the situation and times, but you may need to judge if that is something you want your kids exposed to.

Enjoy
SA Schneider – The Travel Guide

If you would like to order the book, the image below takes you to the paperback on Amazon. If you have a Kindle, you can get the Kindle version for free. There is also a link to the Gutenberg Project free version of the book. If you don’t know what the Gutenberg Project is, you can read a bit here.(Note: the Amazon link is an affiliate link.)

Call of the Wild

Categories
Misc

Call me Scrooge

Every year at Christmas, I try to read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Not only is it a ghost story, but it’s a great message and has a meaning that I think we all understand. The change and redemption of someone. It’s a fantastic book that lets you travel to an older time, a London that no longer exists, when times were different and the people had different lives than ours today.

I was thinking, though, of how it’s been warped in our culture. When we know someone that doesn’t celebrate Christmas or is grumpy about the holiday season or they are tight with their money – we call them a Scrooge.

That’s a grave injustice to the wonderful story that Mr. Dickens wrote. The only part that people focus on is the beginning and how Scrooge was to start with. Our view of the story gets a bit skewed that way.

It should be an honor to be called Scrooge. This man was so set in his ways and his thinking that he didn’t realize what he was missing or how he was making not only his own life but other’s lives miserable. But someone saw something deep down in Scrooge’s soul and gave him a chance to make amends, to enrich his own life and the lives of those around him.

For his part, Scrooge wasn’t so far gone that he ignored it or refused to change. He saw what he had become and how he could do things differently. He saw how much he affected other’s lives and could choose to make them better instead of worse.

And he made that difference. He made that change with himself and thereby he changed the world around him. He made other people’s lives better.

There is a bit at the end that I think is super-important and something that is very relevant to today. This is from the end:

“Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this glove, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed; and that was quite enough or him.”

That could have been written today. So, please, if you feel like it, call me Scrooge. I would be honored.

Categories
Favorite Books Kids Reading

Scary stories free in the public domain

I hope those of you reading this blog also like to read other stories. Why would you follow an author if you didn’t like to read, right? 🙂

Through the years I have read quite a few books and one of my favorite genres is horror. Ever since I was a kid I loved to read scary ghost stories. I still have most of the books I had when I was younger and have been reading some of them over – still good stuff.

One of the benefits of the internet at this time in history is that quite a few of the classic stories we think of as scary are now free. Their copyright has expired and the works are now in the public domain, meaning anyone can get them to read for free. I’m not talking about illegal, pirated books.

This is absolutely wonderful, as some of these are great stories. Keep in mind that stories from 100+ years ago can be quite a bit different from today’s stories. There is more of an atmosphere about them. They seem to play on the senses or scare through subtleties in perception. Plus a lot of them aren’t scary stories so much as a statement on the day and age.

There is a site I love – The Gutenberg Project. This site has been trying to collect as many books and stories that are in the public domain as they possibly can. They want to preserve these books and stories and offer them for download on the website in various formats. If you’ve never been there, check it out.

We especially love to take trips to strange lands and frightening places at Halloween. A couple that may be of interest during Halloween time:

Frankenstein – not only is this arguably the first science fiction story it is also written by a woman, which is pretty fantastic for the time period. Take a trip back to a time when science was still very  much like magic. While you may be familiar with the various movies, the story is much more than that. Like many classic, Victorian-era stories, the true monster isn’t who we think. It is also a commentary on the new science that was evolving at this time and how man thinks they can play god. My kids have been reading and studying this in school, it really is worth a read if you never have.

Dracula – again, not what you would think. If you think you’re getting an action vampire movie of a story, think again. This is a pretty hefty book, but its very good. It is actually more of a love story than a scary ghost story, but I love the Victorian atmosphere, gothic in every sense, and how the story is so much more than we think of it today. Parents – this one is especially dark and may be a bit difficult for many kids to read. For the older teen and advanced reader, it may really spark their interest and imagination.

The Vampyre, a tale – not as well known, but may be the first vampire story. It’s short but a little harder to get through than some others. Worth reading if for no other reason than it’s the start of our modern vampire story. This one may especially be difficult for kids. Only recommended for the more advanced and older teen.

And if you think Nightmare Before Christmas is part Halloween and part Christmas, check out A Christmas Carol. Yup, the classic with Scrooge and the three ghosts. Did you ever wonder about ghosts in a Christmas story? It’s really a ghost story! I have read this story every year at Christmas as a tradition, but it fits equally well in October.

There are a few to get you started. If you like to read and want to travel to many distant lands, check this site out. There are so many good books you may be there a while and suddenly find your Kindle full.

Categories
Kids Writing

writing exercise

There are many ways to improve your writing. The first, and most obvious, is just to write more. With more practice you should get better. Part of that process is to get feedback from others. What we think we are writing is not always what is coming across to others.

It can be very difficult to put your work out there and get feedback. One problem, though, is that many people don’t want to hurt your feelings and just tell you “Oh, that’s great, loved it.” That doesn’t really help you because if all the feedback you get is so positive, once you submit to the world or even just to an agent or publisher, you’ll get devastated when told how bad things may be.

But that feedback is so very important because it is a great way to see where your writing lacks and how to improve it.

There are also various exercises you can do. For example – get a topic or situation and just write about it. I have several weekly contests I belong to that do just that. Each week they have a topic or story starter and you have to take that and make a full fledged story. It’s fun and helps because you may write something you may not have any other time. You stretch, which is a great way to get better at writing. It’s also nice to get feedback on these writings because you may not be so emotionally attached to it, so any feedback can be viewed with a more critical eye. That will carry over to your other writing.

Another exercise I like to do is re-writing. I take a section of a book and then re-write it in several ways. I’ve done this with Harry Potter and below I’m doing it with The Shining.

I did 2 sections from Stephen King’s book. They are in bold. I then rewrote it as you might as a new writer. I wrote it again as someone that is over compensating or that hasn’t learned to trim down their writing. Then I wrote it and made other word choices.

Am I saying I can write better than you or Stephen King? No, not at all. This is just an exercise meant to stretch my abilities. I could have chosen to rewrite it as my dog might write.  I could have chosen to write it like Charles Dicken’s might have written it. Whatever. You can also choose any book or passage. It’s probably a good idea to choose something not in your favorite genre at times.

I’m interested in what others think of my choices and if you’ve done this exercise yourself and what the results were.  Here is what I have for this one:

Jack came out onto the porch, tugging the tab of his zipper up under his chin, blinking into the bright air. In his left hand he was holding a battery-powered hedge-clipper. He tugged a fresh handkerchief out of his back pocket with his right hand, wiped his lips with it, and tucked it away. Snow, they had said on the radio. It was hard to believe, even though he could see the clouds building up on the far horizon.

 

Newbie and dry:

Jack walked onto the porch. He zipped up his jacket and blinked in the light. He pulled a handkerchief out and wiped his lips. He then put it back in his pocket. In his other hand he carried a hadge-clipper. He looked at the clouds. The radio had said there would be snow.

 

More full blow:

Jack took a step onto the porch. He grabbed the tab for his jacket zipper, pulled it and zipped it all the way up to his chin as he blinked into the bright light and the air. In his left hand he carried a hedge-clipper. The hedge-clipper was battery powered. Reaching into his back pocket with his right hand, he took out a handkerchief. He used the clean, new handkerchief to wipe his lips and then he moved his arm and put the handkerchief back in his back pocket. He had heard on the radio that the weather was calling for snow. He found it hard to believe that it might snow, but he could see snow clouds on the horizon. They were still far away.

 

Changed words:

Jack stepped onto the porch, pulling the little zipper tab up under his chin as he blinked into the brightness of the air. He carried a hedge-clipper, battery powered. Using his free hand, he pulled a crisp handkerchief from his back pocket and proceeded to wipe his lips before tucking it away. As he looked at the sky, he thought it hard to believe that the radio had predicted snow, but sure enough, he could see the build-up of clouds on the horizon.

 

 

He started down the path to the topiary, switching the hedge-clipper over to the other hand. It wouldn’t be a long job, he thought; a little touch-up would do it. The cold nights had surely stunted their growth. The rabbit’s ears looked a little fuzzy, and two of the dog’s legs had grown fuzzy green bonespurs, but the lions and the buffalo looked fine. Just a little haircut would do the trick, and then let the snow come.

 

 

Newbie and dry:

He walked down the path to the topiary. He moved the hedge-clipper to his other hand. It wouldn’t take long to touch up the shrubs he thought. They were probably not growing because of the cold nights. He thought the rabbit’s ears and dog’s legs may need trimmed. He didn’t think the lion nor buffalo needed trimmed. Once he finished, the snow could come.

 

More full blown:

Jack started walking down the path to the topiary. As he walked along ,he moved the hedge-clipper from one hand to the other. He was thinking that it wouldn’t be a tough job at all. He thought that the shrubs just needed a bit of a touch up. The nights had been cold and that would have stunted the growth of the shrubs. He thought the rabbit’s ears might have looked a little bit fuzzy. He also thought at least two of the dog’s legs had grown some making it look like they had bonespurs. Looking at the lion and the buffalo, he didn’t think the needed trimmed at all. After he finished trimming just a little it, the snow could come and he wouldn’t care.

 

Changed words:

He switched the hedge-clipper’s to his other hand as he walked the path to the topiary. All they needed was a touch-up, he thought. The cold nights had surely stunted their growth, making this a quick job. The rabbit’s ears looked a little fuzzy, and a couple of the dog’s legs had grown leafy bonespurs, but the lion and buffalo looked fine. After a bit of a haircut, the snow could fly all it wanted.

 

Categories
Events Misc

Justice League movie – story fail

Have you seen the Justice League movie? If you haven’t, it’s pretty good, you should check it out. It’s supposed to be DC’s answer to the Marvel multi-movie universe. That’s a whole different discussion and not what I want to bring up today.

In the movie, Batman gathers Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Cyborg to take on this threat to the world. The climax of the movie sees the team battling flying, demon insects while trying to stop the big, bad guy. OK, so far, so good. (Warning: there’s a bit of spoilers below, so if you haven’t seen the movie, go see it before reading.)

When this big, bad guy shows up, another dimension starts intruding on our world. Essentially a portal opens up and the demon bugs come out and the portal is getting bigger. When the portal opened, it was right in the middle of this town. Of course, most of the people, being smart, bug (ha ha) out and get away as fast as they can. That is, except for one family.

This guy boards up his windows to keep the bugs out and he’s ready to fight with his shotgun. His little girl, the star of this little scene, is scared and hiding under the table. After listening to the bugs slam into their house, she decides to crawl over to a cabinet. Reaching inside she pulls out — bug spay! I loved it. This little girl isn’t going to be afraid, she will fight the bugs and gets the best weapon she can think of.

Fast forward: The Justice League shows up and is fighting the bugs. The father, realizing he can’t fight them, takes the opportunity to skeddaddle. He loads the family up in the pickup truck and gets out. Except it isn’t that easy. The portal is getting bigger and about the engulf their truck and the bugs are swarming and will be attacking the family, and the little girl, riding in the back. Of course, there are superheroes to save the day, and the Flash uses his super speed to move the truck, and family, far down the road out of danger.

Right here is the missed opportunity. Flash tells them bye, and leaves. Ugh, ball dropped. Here’s what really should have happened. As he’s about to leave, the little girl tugs his sleeve and hands him the bug spray.

That’s it. Nothing super big or spectacular, but it’s exactly what was needed. They had this whole arc with the little girl and her family. They are trapped and she’s afraid, yet she decides to fight back and does what she can. Now, there are super people that will take care of things, yet, she wants to help and gives him her can of bug spray. She doesn’t need it. Regardless of the abilities they have, she is helping him and giving him the only thing she can, not only as thanks but because she knows they will need all the help they can get.

Even better would have been as the Flash is running around, he actually gets attacked by a group of bugs and pulls out the bug spray and blasts them, causing them to all fly away, maybe some fly into trees or buildings or whatever. He then smiles and looks at the can. That, to me, would have been perfect and was really missed. They could have finished that little sub-plot very well but left it go and it feels missed.

Wait, there could have been one more thing. End of credit scene, the Flash visits the family and gives the girl a new bottle of bug spray. Yeah, that would have been great.

Did you see the movie? Did you like it? Do you think they should have done what I said? Just curious. Thanks.

 

Categories
Stories

The Haunted Forest Tour – Jeff Strand & James Moore Fan Fiction

I’ll tell you a quick story before I tell you a story.

I sometimes review audiobooks. Some are good, some aren’t as good. I try to be fair, even if it is a book I personally am not enjoying or it’s a genre I don’t read much.

On occasion, though, I get an audiobook that I love. That’s what happened with Cyclops Road by Jeff Strand. I was hesitant at first because I couldn’t quite figure out what this was going to be about. As I got further into it, I found that I was loving it. Not only did it have a bit of fantasy, but it was funny. A great blend.

I finished the audiobook and immediately checked out the author – you know, social stalking on Facebook and his website. Turns out this guy has a ton of books. So, of course, like we all do when we find an author we like, I grabbed one of his books – The Haunted Forest Tour.

Once again, this book delivered. It’s light-hearted, funny, has some sci-fi type fantasy, and it has tons of monsters killing people in interesting ways. It was kind of like a B-movie on Syfy. Come on, who doesn’t like a good B-movie on Syfy?

Anyway, I finished the book and am moving on to another. BUT – being who I am, my brain sparked. There could have been other people that got off that tram car, right? Maybe a few of them got separated from the rest of the group. Hmmmm……

If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, check out the book. For me, I sat down and wrote a story. I’m sure there was a guy that must have gotten off and went a different direction. Maybe he had something even more on his mind than tons of monsters trying to eat him……

So here you go – fan fiction for The Haunted Forest Tour.

PDF – I Gotta Pee

I hope you enjoy it. Made me chuckle, hope it brightens someone’s day.

Please, do yourself a favor and check out these two authors. If you have Kindle Unlimited, many of Jeff’s books are available through that service.

Jeff Strand – website and facebook

James Moore – website

As another aside, I found out that Jeff and I were born 2 days apart and he went to school in the next town over from me. How cool is that?

Categories
Stories

Dr. Time

This was a short story I submitted on Reddit for a writing prompt I found on the Reedsy writing prompts:

https://reedsy.com/writing

The prompt was:

The doctor gave you six months. You lived through it, one year has passed. Not surprised, he then gave you one year; after that time you are still alive. You’re starting to think he’s actually GIVING you time to live, instead of making predictions.

 

This is what I came up with:

(you can download a PDF of this story here)

“Good morning, dear. Time to wake up.”
I groan or try to groan, at the sound of my wife’s voice. I love her dearly, but why does her voice sound like nails on a chalkboard in the morning. Maybe it’s just me. Probably just me.
I hear her starting to stride down the hall, her brisk steps seeming to pound into my head, and I valiantly sit up. There, hope she’s happy.
“Oh, good, you’re up. All right dear, I’ve laid out your clothes, do you need help dressing?” she asks this sweetly, but do I detect a hint of malice, maybe loathing, in that tone? Could just be me. Probably not just me.
“No dear, thanks,” I croak. She gives me a smile as she leaves. I don’t smile back. I think she’s starting to hate me, not that I could blame her, right?
Once I struggle the clothes on, I shuffle to the door, glancing at the clock as I pass it on the stand. Really? Is that just one more mockery, that it takes me over 20 minutes to get dressed. Just to get dressed?
As I continue shuffling down the hall, I hear her light steps from below and then her voice floats up.
“Dear, are you at the top of the steps yet? Should I start breakfast? I just don’t want it to get cold.”
Yeah, it would suck to have cold eggs, life’s tragedies. Ok, maybe I’m feeling a bit of self-pity this morning. Yeah, probably.
I gather my strength and roar, “No,” and then cough for half an eternity.
“What was that dear? I couldn’t quite hear you,” she says. “It’s ok, I’ll wait a bit.”
All right, all right, so it was more little a kitten whine than a roar, leave me my fantasies.
Hearing my plodding feet on the creaky stairs, she says she’ll start breakfast. At least it’s something to look forward to. My stomach growls and I grimace. Damn. Even that hurts. When your stomach says it’s hungry and it hurts, that’s when life really starts sucking, right? Forget the ‘my hair hurts’ stuff, if you can’t enjoy eating, why bother? Sorry, maybe it’s just me.
She’s already sitting and almost done eating by the time I clomp into the kitchen. Rising to help me, she stops and sits back down after my glare catches her eye. I haven’t lived this long, and with this pain, just to be treated like an invalid. Is that what I am? Yeah, ok, so what. I don’t want to be treated like one and I won’t be. I’ll die first. Maybe.

###

“Hello Mr. Sanders, let me help you.”
I can’t summon to strength to glare or tell the nurse no as she grabs my elbow, guiding me through the door. The trip here has taken most of the day and I’m done in. I feel my arm trembling as I try to lift the cane for the next step. The nurse is on one side of me with my wife on the other, holding my sagging body from hitting the floor unceremoniously. All right, let’s be honest, they are carrying me with my feet dragging.
Once I’m in the room waiting for the doctor, I recover some of my strength.
“I’m getting pretty darn tired of this,” I wheeze out.
My wife, my lovely, supportive wife, looks at me and for an instant, I see some anger and loathing before the all too common pity settles on her features. I want to yell at her, I want to scream. I sit catching my breath.
“I know dear, it has been hard. But try to remember the good side, you are still here, we are still together. Originally the doctor didn’t think you would make it six months, and here you are, two years later and still with me.”
Was that a bit of sarcasm and resentment I hear in her voice. Could be. Probably is. Not that I blame her. Yay me, I beat dying only to end up so miserable I think it would be preferable to be dead. I’m pretty sure my wife would agree with that assessment. Probably.
“This isn’t living. This is dying alive,” I mumble. I don’t care if she hears me or not.
“Dear, the doctor will figure this out and you’ll get better.”
“Will he?” I make an effort and glare at her. “I mean, he thought I was going to die and was wrong about that, huh? Wasn’t he?”
She looks at me, serenely, but I know I see some anger seething beneath the surface. Not that I blame her. Not really.
“We must have faith, dear. You’re alive, that’s the important part.”
I don’t bother arguing with her, it would take too much strength. But she’s wrong. She doesn’t have to live like I do, live like I’m dead but just can’t stop breathing. Except I wish I could stop breathing, it hurts so badly.
The door opens and there is the doctor, a bright sunny smile plastered on his face. I hate him. Thanks for telling me I was dying, doc, only to be wrong and then tell me you have no idea why I’m in such pain anymore. Thanks.
“How are you feeling, Mr. Sanders? Still alive I see.”
I’m going to punch him right in the nose, pow. I want to punch him. At least I’m thinking of punching him, I’m too tired to actually raise my arms.
“I think he’s doing better, Doctor. Yesterday he had more energy, didn’t you dear? I think the pain has been less on someday, too, right dear?”
I nod my head, more like a bit of a jiggle. What the hell? It doesn’t really matter anyway, the doctor hasn’t been able to do anything for me.
He examines me while asking more questions, which my wife answers. I just sit, I don’t care any longer. I do wish he had been right about that original diagnosis and I had died, believe me, that would be better than this existence I’ve been living.
“Well, Mr. Sanders,” the doc starts, sitting on his stupid little stool while looking at my wife as much as me. “The good news is, you are still alive. You seem to be a true miracle of science. I am glad to have been wrong in this case.”
He smiles. Maybe it’s the pain of continuing to stay sitting, but that smile looks malicious to me. I turn my eyes to see if my wife has caught that, but she’s just beaming looking at me and then back at the doctor.
“It is wonderful, Doctor. But he is still in such pain, more pain than he ever had before your diagnosis. Isn’t there anything we can do now?”
“Well, Mrs. Sanders, I’m not sure. I mean, just being alive should be considered a gift. Yes, a great gift.”
He pauses and again I think I catch a hint of something almost sinister in his smile. Maybe it’s just me. Probably it’s just me.
“Mr. Sanders, I’ll send the nurse in to take some blood. There are some new treatments I’ve been trying with some patients that may help you. We’ll talk after your blood is analyzed.”
He rises, shakes my wife’s hand then lifts mine to shake it. It hurts moving, even when it’s not me causing the movement. Then he’s gone. Gee, thanks doc, big help.
I need to pee, and if I don’t start to the restroom now, I will likely pee my pants before I get there. After some fussing, my wife just holds the door for me as I glide out, slowly, like a snail. Luckily, the restrooms aren’t far and I think I can make it.
After just a few steps, I’m tuckered out and my left knee is screaming in pain. I can’t help it, I need to rest. Will I be back on the ball court with the guys shooting layups soon? Doubt it, I can’t even get up the strength to turn the game on TV. I angle towards the wall, no a door, falling into it more than a controlled lean. To my surprise, I don’t stop. The door isn’t latched and I fall into the room. Just great, now I’ll probably pee my pants before I can get up. Then, I pee my pants anyway.
What I see is the most horrific thing I’ve ever witnessed. Is it just me? Am I hallucinating? Could be, but I don’t think so.
On the patient table is a man, similar in age to me. Standing in front of him is the doctor. But that is where the normalcy ends. The doctors head is split and folded open, the top half of his head laying back like someone cut open a ball. His mouth, where the split occurs, has a hose, no, a tube, projecting out of it and attached to this other patients head. There are what look like balls of glowing light flowing in the tube, not out of the patient as you’d expect in some cheesy horror movie, but from the doctor to the patient.
Before I can comprehend any of this or call for help, the doctor, half his head still lolling back, jumps and the tube snaps back from the patient and down the doctor’s throat. Crazily, it reminds me of a measuring tape when you flip that little switch to drag it all back in. Once the tube has disappeared, he turns as his head rights itself back together.
“Oh, Mr. Sanders, that was a bad thing, a very bad thing. You should not have seen that, no you shouldn’t. And here, I’ve done so much for you. I mean, look at you, still alive even when you would have been dead with any other doctor.”
He looks at me sadly, slight shake to his head. What insanity is this? I must be really insane. Am I insane? Probably. Feebly, I strain to pull myself back, away from this monster, to the door and safety. Casually, he steps over me and shuts the door. Well crap.
“Mr. Sanders, I’m afraid we may have to change our deal. I have had such a wonderful track record. So many patients that have gotten to live. Me, that was me, giving that to them. And you, I might add. And I was close, really close, to fixing the problems – the aches and pains your body experiences when it knows it should be dead. The pains of the dead on the living, you might say.”
The doctor steps closer, way too close, like right up next to me.
“I am sorry to say, Mr. Sanders, that you won’t get the chance to experience that. I truly am sorry, I thought you might be one of the first. You really shouldn’t have come in here. It makes the suffering you’ve had mean nothing.”
I think he may have said I’m sorry once more, I’m not sure. I was too busy focusing on his head splitting again and that tube stretching out right towards my …

 

So there you are. Hope you like it. I will be posting other short stories, so if you like this one, come back for more.

 

Categories
Events Kids Reading

Get to reading – the Great American Read

Have you heard of the Great American Read?

Sponsored by PBS, this documentary special is a celebration of reading. There are 100 books on the list, and you can vote for your favorite. There will be 1 winner based on these votes.

http://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/vote/

It’s pretty cool and exciting, go check out the list. Going through, there are many I have read and there are many that are surprising. Tom Sawyer is on the list, of course. But so is Ready Player One, which was interesting. So it’s not just a list of books that are more than 100 years old, though many of those are pretty good.

There are some books I’d still like to read, but here are the ones that I’ve actually read:

1984

Adventures of Tom Sawyer (personal recommendation)

Alex Cross

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (personal recommendation)

Call of the Wild (personal recommendation)

Charlotte’s Web (I like the overall theme of this one)

Chronicles of Narnia

Count of Monte Cristo

DaVinci Code

Dune

Flowers in the Attic

Frankenstein

Giver

Gone with the Wind

Grapes of Wrath

Gulliver’s Travels

Harry Potter (recommended, well duh)

Hatchet

Hunt for Red October

Jurassic Park (one of my top 3 books ever)

Little Women

Moby Dick

Ready Player One

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (highly recommended)

Hunger Games

Lord of the Rings

Martian (one of my all-time favorites)

Outsiders

Stand

Watchers

Where the Red Fern Grows (recommended)

 

Thirty-one out of 100 – not great, but not bad. There are a couple still on my list to read, so that will bring it up. Likewise, there are a couple that I’ve tried to read but couldn’t get into and didn’t care for. That’s ok, you’re allowed to not like a book.

Parents, if you are looking for a good summer read for the kids:

Charlotte’s Web, Tom Sawyer, Where the Red Fern Grows, Hatchet would be good ones. Alice’s Adventures is a good one to read together, it’s trippy and is great with a discussion.

For the older kids, try: Outsiders, Hitchhiker’s Guide, Call of the Wild and Harry Potter.

How many have you read? Go vote!

http://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/vote/

 

UPDATE: I left the article above as originally posted, but they have finished their voting. Check out the page to see their list.

Categories
Kids Writing

Writing with balance

Many writers, including yours truly, struggle to write not just well but the bestest words. See that, I need to edit that. It’s very difficult to write out what you want to say. Sometimes you write the most perfect thing, then get disgusted when you read it back.

“How could I write that?! Why did I think that was so great!?” Those words can probably be heard often – if not out loud, at least echoing in someone’s head.

For me, coming up with a story isn’t that hard. Even writing it down isn’t that difficult. But then, reading it and editing it – that can be very difficult.

One problem I, and I’m sure many others struggle with, is writing with balance. Writing with balance can mean a couple things, so let me tell you what I mean.

For this post, writing with balance means putting the words on the page to say what you want to say, without those words sucking. I know someone laughed reading that, but I bet many writers are going, “yeah, that’s pretty hard to do.”

Maybe giving examples will help best rather than lecturing. Here is a bit of the infamous Harry Potter story:

From Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets chapter 10 The Rogue Bludger

Harry had no time to reply. At that very moment, a heavy black Bludger came pelting toward him; he avoided it so narrowly that he felt it ruffle his hair as it passed.
“Close one, Harry!” said George, streaking past him with his
club in his hand, ready to knock the Bludger back toward a Slytherin.
Harry saw George give the Bludger a powerful whack in the direction of Adrian Pucey, but the Bludger changed direction in midair and shot straight for Harry again.
Harry dropped quickly to avoid it, and George managed to hit it hard toward Malfoy. Once again, the Bludger swerved like a boomerang and shot at Harry’s head.
Harry put on a burst of speed and zoomed toward the other end of the field. He could hear the Bludger whistling along behind him. What was going on? Bludgers never concentrated on one player like this; it was their job to try and unseat as many people as possible. . . .
Fred Weasley was waiting for the Bludger at the other end.
Harry ducked as Fred swung at the Bludger with all his might; the
Bludger was knocked off course.
“Gotcha!” Fred yelled happily, but he was wrong; as though it
was magnetically attracted to Harry, the Bludger pelted after him
once more and Harry was forced to fly off at full speed.

 

If you haven’t read this series, you really should, if for no other reason than to know what everyone else is talking about.

Is this the most perfect section of prose you will ever read? No, probably not. Would Ms. Rowling say she wrote the best piece of literature ever? I doubt it. That’s kind of the point. Sometimes we get so caught up in making every bit of it perfect that it never actually gets written. The little inaccuracies and personal choices are what help define our voice and make us unique and interesting. There’s the wisdom of the day, young Padawan.

Ok, now, what could she have written? I’ve got a couple examples below of how it could have been written. I know I have caught myself writing this way and have heard many other authors write this way at times.

 

Alternate Universe 1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets chapter 10 The Rogue Bludger

Harry had no time to reply. A Bludger came toward him. He swerved. The Bludger flew close to him. His hair was ruffled by Bludger passing by.
“Close one, Harry!” said George. George flew past Harry. George carried his club. Goerge hit the Bludger toward Adrian Pucey. The Bludger change direction and flew toward Harry.
Harry dropped to avoid the Bludger. George hit the Bludger toward Malfoy. The Bludger swerved toward Harry again.
Harry sped up and flew to the other end of the field. The Bludger flew behind him, making a whistling sound.  Harry wondered why the Bludger was after him and not others.
At the end of the field, Fred Weasley waited. Harry ducked as he flew by Fred. Fred swung at the Bludger. The Bludger was knocked off course.
“Gotcha!” Fred yelled. He was wrong. The Bludger after Harry. Harry flew off.

 

I think you would agree, that wasn’t as interesting. Was it telling the same thing? Yes, but it sounded more like reading the directions to a recipe than telling a gripping section of the story.

Again, I’m not being mean or critical of the work. Nor am I saying I write better, believe me, I don’t. I am using this to gain a better understanding of writing with that balance of saying what needs said and saying it well. Or saying it goodly if you like.

The next example is one I’ve seen quite a bit. It is the opposite of the first example. Instead of being dry and cut down, it goes the opposite way and says way too much. In an effort to make it interesting, the author gets it too flowery and has the opposite effect of what they want.

 

Alternate Universe 2 From Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets chapter 10 The Rogue Bludger

Harry couldn’t reply, he had too many things happening at once. He turned his head and looked over to see a heavy black Bludger flying toward him. Shifiting his weight and gripping the handle of his flying broomstick, he adjusted his course and avoided the Bludger that had been flying towards him.
“Close one, Harry!” said George. George flew past him lifting his arm which held his club. He looked at Harry, waving his club in the air with his arm. Harry watched George shift on the broomstick, guiding it toward the Bludger. George flew at the flying ball and Harry knew he was going to swing his arm and hit it toward a Slytherin.
Harry saw George hit the Bludger. George swung his arm and the club hit the Bludger. He hit it with a strong whack. The Bludger flew in the direction of Adrian Pucey. The Bludger changed direction, flying one way and then turning in the air toward Harry again.
Harry flew across the field and saw the Bludger heading toward him. Shifting his weight, Harry adjusted the broom’s course and dropped quickly to avoid the Bludger. He flew through the air with the Bludger flying behind him. Harry saw the Bludger getting closer. Again, Harry, turned the broom, flying in a different direction, and the Bludger followed him. Harry saw George and flew the broom toward him. As he flew by, George swung at the Bludger. George connected, hitting the Bludger toward Malfoy. The Bludger flew hard toward the opponent who looked to see it coming. Once again, the Bludger swerved and changed direction, turning and flying toward Harry again. The Bludger was flying toward’s Harry’s head.
Harry saw the Bludger flying towards him again. Flying faster, Harry flew towards the other end of the field. Behind him, he heard the Bludger flying quickly, making a whistling sound as it flew through the air.  Harry glanced worriedly behind him, seeing the Bludger close. What was going on? Bludgers never concentrated on one player like this; it was their job to try and unseat as many people as possible. . . .
Fred Weasley was at the other end. Harry flew toward Fred as Fred held his club, ready to hit the Bludger.
As he flew by Fred, Harry ducked, flying lower. Fred swung his club at the Bludger flying through the air. He hit the Bludger and knocked it off course. The Bludger flew away after being hit so hard by Fred.
“Gotcha!” Fred yelled. He was happy that he had hit the Bludger. He wasn’t happy when the Bludger changed direction. It flew through the air again towards Harry, seeming to be attracted to him. Harry turned his head and looked the Bludger. He saw the Bludger flying right towards him again. Harry turned the broom and adjusted his flight. The Bludger flew after Harry as Harry flew off across the field.

 

 

Compared to the example from the book. that was a lot of words and a lot of excess description. That can realy bog down a manuscript. If you compare each example with the original, you can see how the word choices in the original lead to a more pleasant reading experience. Could you find some things that could be different or even improved? Yeah, I’m sure you could and someone else may find something completely different that they think should be changed, and they would probably be right also. That’s what is great about stories – there is no one way to tell any story. There may be better ways, and by finding those better ways, you can improve your own writing.

Try to do what I’ve done – take an example from whatever book you are reading and rewrite parts of it. Start by writing out the original. It’s best if you do this by hand on paper. This sounds very tedious, but it can open your eyes to how a section is written and what the author is doing to make the story enjoyable and say it in their own voice.

Once you have the original copied out, rewrite it. Try to pare it down to the bare bones. Then try to rewrite it with the most extravagent flourishes possible. Maybe rewrite it as if another favorite author had written it. How would Harry Potter sound if H.G. Wells had written it? What about if Charles Schultz had written it? If you don’t know who they are, I’ll let you Google that on your own.

 

 

 

Categories
Kids Writing

They say we need a writing prompt, not a revolution

When my kids were in middle school, they participated in a program called Power of the Pen. A group of them would meet once a week after school and work on writing. At the end of the year, there was a contest amongst multiple schools. During the day, the kids would be given a writing prompt and would have a set time to write something about that prompt.

If you’ve never done much writing and aren’t sure what a writing prompt is, it’s just an idea or a sentence to spark your creativity. They are designed to make you think of something different and get the juices flowing so you can write.
Recently I have run into a great weekly writing prompt subscription. These are from Reedsy, a job type website where authors can connect with and hire editors and other professionals to help with their book publishing.

On Fridays, a list of writing prompts is sent out and displayed on their website at http://www.reedsy.com/writing. You can write anything you want based on any of the writing prompt ideas and submit them. They pick one to publish on their blog and receive $50.

I believe that most school kids are too young to legally enter the contest, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the writing prompts. Go to the website each week to see the new prompts. Use your imagination and write a short story. Then, the following week, go compare your story to the one that was chosen. Think it stacks up?

Recenty, my favorite writing prompt was this:

In the human world, a magician reaches into a hat and pulls out a rabbit. In the rabbit world, the God hand has appeared again and a sacrifice must be made. This time, the Council of the Hop has chosen you.

That’s pretty good and sounds like it could be a fun story. This also seems to be appropriate for middle school kids, so it could be used with almost any age.

Even if your kids aren’t in a writing club, they can still do this on their own. Or, how about at breakfast or the dinner table? Look at the writing prompts and choose one for each night and everyone can make up a story on the spot or do a group story where everyone contributes.

These also would be great for trips. Throw out a writing prompt and makeup stories.

If you’ve been looking for a way to get kids interested in writing, start with just making stories. And if you aren’t good at coming up with the ideas, these are a great way to help get started.

 

Categories
Martin & James Misc

Ramblings like Stephen King

One of the writers I have read a lot of is Stephen King. Starting about age 10, I have read almost everything he has written. The Shining is one of my favorite books of all time.

One reason for Mr. King’s popularity may be his comfortable, aw-shucks tone at times. He especially brings this out in the bits he writes before the stories. I remember this in Night Shift, the bit of insight into the actual author. Who they are, how they think, and why the hell are you writing this weird stuff?!

I decided to do this also. I want to get to know my readers – or constant reader as Mr. King affectionately refers to them. Even with my short stories, I’ve started doing this. While they might not be up to Mr. King’s standards, I hope they provide some insight and let us be a bit closer.

Below is what I wrote for my first Martin & James story:

Hello and welcome one and all,

I am truly humbled and grateful that you are reading this story, the third one in the Martin & James series. I am glad the stories have brought some enjoyment and pleasure.
When I originally got it through my head that I really did want to write, I had an idea. Then, I sat on it and let the idea ‘evolve’ in my mind. Looking back now, I think it was more a matter of being afraid – afraid I couldn’t actually write and afraid that no one would want to read it. The fact that you are reading the third Martin & James story tells me that someone enjoys this. That’s totally mind blowing to me. Boom. Again, I am completely humbled and grateful.
I hope, that as you read through this story, that you enjoy it and find a bit of an escape from whatever your stresses are for the day. I hope that you want to read more, to learn more about the masked man they chased or learn more about the agency and other agents. Maybe you are questioning why they have a kid with a field agent – which is totally weird.
Well, the story you are about to read, does not answer all of those questions. That is the other thing that originally popped into my head when I wanted to write. I had never written a full length novel and didn’t have the confidence that I could do that. I did want to write, but if I got discouraged while writing my first novel, I would stop and never know if I really could do it. I’m probably not the only one that has ever felt that way.
To solve that dilemma, I decided to write short stories. This thought came from my love of the Conan stories by Robert E. Howard. Not that he consciously thought about writing short stories that just captured a slice, or an adventure, in Conan’s life. He was writing for what he had at the time – magazine’s that would publish short stories. The way Howard did it was to just write various stories about Conan in different stages of his life. There wasn’t really a thought to make a full life history or to even connect them, it was just stories. I loved that.
So that’s where I was, wanting to write stories but not sure I could. I decided to write a series of adventures about my main character and idea for the world. I did a couple, talked with some people, wrote some more, etc. Finally, I found someone that helped me out and encouraged me to stop with the individual stories and write a book. By that time, I felt that maybe I could.
OK, that’s not the whole story, but I will regale you with more at some other time. Since I took my main idea and went the full novel route, I still wanted to get some action adventure stories that were a bunch of stories loosely connected. My stepson, who is a very active dreamer, started telling me about some of his dreams, and that’s the final piece I needed.
So here we are. Action stories about a duo fighting the forces that want to destroy the world. They have some connection, and more of that will come out in time, but they are just fun reads. That’s my hope and desire.
With that said, I won’t hold you up any longer from finding out about this crazed weatherman and how Martin and James, maybe, defeat him.
Enjoy!

 

Categories
Art

Liza Jane Sketch

This is the first sketch I have of one of my characters, Liza Jane

Sketch of Liza Jane

Drawn by Maegan Schneider – https://he-mei.deviantart.com/

Categories
Events

Manga for everyone

I recently came across something that has me completely intrigued. I was at the Cleveland Wizard World Con in the Manga/Anime area. I normally am not a manga kinda guy, but I wandered in. Looking at the one table, a young lady started to tell me what they were about and I must say, I loved it.

The table was for Saturday AM. In a nutshell, these guys and girls are doing a western manga and they are focusing on new creators. They use writers and artists from all over the world, not people that are known and already in the industry. They are open to new ideas for stories. If you have a good story and good art, you could get into their monthly magazine.

The monthly magazine is how they get their comics published, similar to Shonen Jump. The magazine is distributed digitally and is very reasonable – about $2.50 per month. They have a slew of stories already and seem to keep adding more.

I have started at the beginning with issue #1, because you know, it only makes sense, right? Anyway, the characters and stories are fun and very Manga. I don’t normally read this type of comic, but I love to support people when they are trying to do something with a good purpose.

One of the other things they do is a yearly contest. This is to get their name out, but also to get artists and writers interested in submitting their stories. Last year, the prize was an iPad pro! Along with that, they have a comic drawing app called Comic Draw, so it made sense to give away the iPad and show off this app.

I love this and am in support completely. They showed us a comic that was created and made by a 16 year old! This is fantastic! I encourage kids to look into this, don’t wait until you are out of school, do it now.

Head over to Saturday AM, read some of the online comics, maybe get an issue or two. They even have some physical books for really good prices.

Categories
Favorite Books My Background

Reading a Christmas Carol

Every year at Christmas, I read A Christmas Carol by Dickens and also Skipping Christmas by Grisham. If you’ve never read A Christmas Carol, you should. What other ghost story do you know set at Christmas? I discovered Skipping Christmas because I really like the movie based on it – Christmas with the Kranks. Both are good.
Oh, yeah, also, if you haven’t read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, it’s definitely worth checking out also.
We also have a tradition of reading The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore and How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Seuss on Christmas Eve.

What’s the best holiday story you’ve ever read? #ThrowbackThursday

If you would like your own copy of A Christmas Carol, the following link takes you to Amazon – A Christmas Carol

Categories
My Background Writing

First weekend writing

Who wants to write?

Many people have ideas for stories or want to write a novel. Most of those people never will. You probably have friends that keep saying they want to write, but they never had. Maybe you are one of those people also!

I was one of those people. I had ideas but it was always too hard and would take too long. I’d do it sometime in the future. When you’re young, there’s always a future BUT it gets easier and easier to let time slip away and soon you realize years have gone by and you haven’t written anything.

Finally, I realized I would never do it unless I just sat down and did it. That’s just what I did in February of 2016.

The first weekend

Without any preconceived notions or worrying if it would be perfect or wondering if anyone would buy it, I started writing. By the end of the weekend I had written almost 15,000 words! I was amazed!

It was a fantastic start. If I did that every weekend for a month I would have a 60,000 word novel done. So why didn’t I do that?

Keep going

Good question. Like most people life happened. Other things took my focus. I started telling myself that my writing sucked. Etc etc. It took effort to sit back down and write more. I did finally finish the book, in a year, and sent it to an editor. It was over a month before I got it back and then I couldn’t look at what the editor said right away.

Feedback

I was so nervous to look at what the editor had sent me. In my head, I was the best writer and this was the best story and there’s nothing they could say that would make it better. In fact, they were probably so impressed by this book that all they wrote was how fabulous it was and they’ve never read a book this good.

When I did look at the feedback, it wasn’t saying it was the best ever. A lot of notes to point out to the newbie author where the writing and the story were less than par. Not the great American Novel I had hoped for. After reading over the editor’s notes I agreed with almost everything and could see the weaknesses in the story.

That’s the editors job – to tell you where you story isn’t the best so you can fix it and make it best. I decided to take that feedback and use it to improve. I read what was written and really thought about it.

What did I do? I ripped out about half of the book. Stuff that really did stink. Leaving some good writing. What about the writing I did the initial weekend, how did that fare?

Actually, I kept most of it. It wasn’t bad. When I didn’t care how things went or how things sounded, I wrote pretty good. What made the writing take longer was I started actually trying and thinking about it.

There’s the lesson. We can be much better writer’s when we don’t worry about our writing. We get so caught up in our hopes and desires and we want it to be perfect that we actually are less perfect than we would be if we didn’t care about any of that.