Source: Does Size Matter? (of novels)
For us novelists, writers, and authors.
It is a dream, a fantasy in the wildest dreams that someone who has “made it” and with great talent that might look into Amazon, bookshelves of a library, or watches (or one of their employees watches) the titles and blog sites for new and good stories to produce.
To this end when you have that moment of receiving an email from someone with a name of James Cameron, Ron Howard, Stephen Spielberg, you get excited for a moment.
Such like happened to me. I got the notice on my phone while loading groceries into my 17-year-old, squeaky, leaky, quarter-million-mile (PLUS) Dodge that wears the edges of tires out faster than the rest of the tire (Front end needs to be rebuilt) and puffs smoke when climbing some steep hills, I did not read it, just who sent it.
At first the name did not register until I drove to the street when the light bulb lit.
“Oh!” When recognition of the name hit, it nearly hurt.
By the time I got home, I had already repaved the driveway (The only 4wd driveway in the neighborhood. A removed tree’s roots have collapsed and caused a cave-in on one side of the concrete) bought a new car (Tesla, Model S or Model X) and – nearly – forgot to bring the groceries in on a day so hot that it could melt the stripes off a tabby-cat.
Even the birds were panting on the wires. (Beaks open, tongues sticking out, no chirping) Heh.
So, dancing like a child on Xmas eve, or putting on his (or her) costume on October 29th in anticipation to find such good things waiting for them….
I opened the email on my laptop…stupid thing boots soooo slow. “Faster faster! Dag-nab you!” I am so getting a new one to replace this 10-year-old lappy, with dead pixels and broken hinge (thank you dogs, who knocked it off the table while chasing each other).
So! At last! Email open! Downloading… 120 Likes on WordPress! Normally open those all (good for my fragile ego. I still get questioned by Mrs Dash if it will ever amount to anything) but I need to open the famous named one and print it out to hand to Mrs D and show her that I have achieved attention of someone never dreamed of.
Then only to have the heart fall. Checking the source of the email, yes, it is a famous name… but not their fault that parents named them the same first name as the famous movie maker/producer/director.
Seriously, not even the correct gender.
I am so pleased with myself I did not brag to Mrs Dash I had someone of notoriety then have to eat those words. She would have gotten: 1. A laugh. 2. Grounded me from writing as it is non-productive 3. sent me out to do more gardening or yard-work.
I think I will shoot my bow at the tiny bottle caps I have out in the yard that dance, spin and swing on strings. I seem to have better skills doing that than writing a proper work of fiction.
But no. then I cannot feed my core need to tell stories, to answer the voices that live in different worlds and want out. To have you all laugh, nod and maybe weep at the words I post here. Even if it is a mix of horror, sci-fi, historical fiction, romance and adventure (Not in the same story– yet anyway). To have you like what I have posted tickle my heart.
Anyway. To the Ronnie Howards, the Georgia Lucas’, the Jamie Camerons and the Stephanie Spielbergs thank you for your compliments, keep them coming.
And If I answer with an odd excitement, just realize I am not always the sharpest tool in the box (Akin to a rolling-pin?) and I’ll get the clue by the next email.
But dreams are good.
Laughing at myself,
So far, I am convinced the world of the kitchen today is trying to perform some kind of twisted sense of humor.
In making a sandwich, A touch of mayonnaise, havarti cheese, mushrooms, sliced crimini mushrooms. Then powdered garlic, and a sprinkle of crushed red chili pepper.
Well, that was the plan. It all went well until the chili-pepper.
The dry pepper in a jar just takes a light shake. Instead of a pinch? I probably put two-tablespoons on the sandwich.
UGH! Shake it off- carefully. And I ate it down anyway. THIS was a sinus-clearing event.
and now, I know for sure it is not an anxiety/panic attack, but my tummy is asking me “WTF did you swallow? A bbq ember? Wow!”
Ugh, Refusal to back down, hard-headed “I refuse to let it ruin my meal.” attitude.
So now I sit here perspiring more than if I just sat in the sun after a hot shower.
To quote a famous cat. Pffttthhp.
I can even fail at making a lunch.
But I did finish making the frozen dog-treats. Greek Yogurt, (Local “raw”) honey, banana, peanut butter that are now in the freezer. I just tried really hard to make a mess. One of the containers had a hole in it from a dog-tooth, so it leaked all over the counter. *Sigh* but that was the only fail. Messy enough. At least when breaking up larger frozen “Cubes” of the dog treat, I didn’t slice a finger.
Not that I didn’t try. heh.
I did get a half-dozen shots in with the bow, hit the milk-cap twice. I’m trying to get focused again.
On a related “Focused” note. Keep an eye on this (and a few others! PoffPublishing and Rarity for two.). blog for announcements of an anthology of Horror scheduled now for (NO later than) 1 October 2016. Originally scheduled for 2015, but all of us have fallen behind and with my own rough patch coming up (Mama Dash with Multiple Myeloma- a bone cancer and Sister Sledgehammer [the “Dash it ALL” attitude. Do not @#$! with her, she will hurt you.] with hardware being taken out of her body to the tune of about a half-pound of steel. PLUS a discovery that the previous surgeries failed to reattach a TFL muscle back to the hip. Papa Dash trying to crash and burn in front of the nurses the day of his surgery. ) I don’t see me doing much in a full-fledged assembly of a story, even if we have a team of us authors.
Speaking of which?
Anyone who wants to be part of an anthology of a horror novel scheduled for a Halloween 2016 season release. We have some openings. We are shooting for a 50-60,000 word novel. No more than 100k words total. At that point, our short-story size begin to shrink.
So, shoot me a note. We can chat.
Assistant cook and chief bottle washer.
Oh and just promoted from journeyman baiter to master. So all is good there. (think about it and you’re allowed to giggle)
Setting up a team.
We writer’s who wish to make a living as a writer, a few of us have gone to G+ and are building a community of those that wish to be the *FIRST* to read and give opinions, critique a story. The authors that hold their breath for every first draft we share among ourselves before we can decide to we need a critique. the words of Ernest Hemmingway.
“First Draft of anything is s***.”
Mr. Hemmingway hit the nail on the head. Yeah, this correct to the point of being a truism. But not all writers may think of it that way.
It is an evolution, giving birth to a child of your mind. You work at the idea. Perhaps it comes to you while you are exercising, or in the middle of a meeting at work. Even if you are the CEO, you can’t just jump up and run out to enter it into a file. You might write it down on a notepad, making it look all official that you are paying attention.
Or perhaps you are wakeboarding on a lake when the idea hits. By the time you get somewhere to write it down, now has corrupted and no longer what you were thinking.
How many seeds to novels has this happened? Thought of, then are stillborn because you were out of position to write them down, or you tell someone who couldn’t care less.
Then you ask them later and they don’t recall.
But then, you are in your garden, or cutting grass, dusting behind the curtains or washing the dishes and the husband, girlfriend, spouse, mom, dad watches you scamper across the floor to type something into the tablet/laptop/desktop.
Or if it happens when you are in the shower, you use voice to text on your phone. Then the spouse knocks on the door and asks who you are talking to?
You are a writer, is all they need to know, really. I tell my spouse such things and she rolls her eyes and walks off. (The curse of artists everywhere I am sure- unless your spouse is one like you. Like Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo or Stephen and Tabatha King)
So you have this idea. You write like a madman on too much espresso, you make the hyperactive kitten seem like a sloth in comparison.
Then you finish and you hand it to someone to proofread and edit. Perhaps two. Because they are family or friends, you 1. Feel you are taking advantage or 2. The answers they give may not be stringent enough. You *think* you have a gem on your hands, and probably is, but you can’t get an agent to read it. Or you are told your hooks are not developed enough.
So you open the manuscript and begin to re-write. Perhaps you are Tabatha King and smile, knowing your husband is about to generate another source of income. Perhaps you are Mr. Jones who works turning bills to profits for a company and then you come home to your wife who is a successful attorney — and she is writing, not a briefing, but an adventure or romance.
You read this pride of your spouse… And you facepalm.
Do you tell your best friend it’s great? or do you crush their dreams?
No, you get them to re-write, edit and do it at least a half-dozen times. Then you read it again, do you find someone then to critique it? not a professional “Yes” person. You want to have them be hard-to-please, but not harsh and cruel.
Polish that rough stone to a beautiful gem.
Then find a group that will give an honest comment after your 8th re-write.
Because every first draft is sh**.
Two days in, and gone. I have learned much. So much and then three pitches to agents, of the three pitches? All three want to look at the manuscript.
Now, over the years in a previous life, I have jumped over cliffs, (Straps attached), out of helicopters, waded through waters cold enough to kill if I stayed in very long (According to a team member, one of the greatest handwalks across the top of the water in history) , had tested on medical boards, been shot at.
Pitching the novel was every bit as stressful. o.0
But I got all three to accept the manuscript.
I am now sitting at the keyboard, six hours into re-editing with a more learned eye on the wording.
I am tired, but a dead set mind to not give this up.
Further report on the cross-country author, she made it. A lone woman, full car of personal belongings, savage storms in some places. I can relax, she is now safe. You can, too. All you worry warts. 😉
Anyway. I have two agents who want the full manuscript to look over. One wants 50 pages (Romance is out of their normal genre but intrigued enough to want to see a good selection, and if good enough? Might make an exception.)
Anyway, as a result, posting will be slower than usual this week.
A minor arm injury does not help, it is exquisitly painful and discoloring. I think I tore a muscle while doing a chore, also works against me.
So I will double up again on my anxiety meds to talk in front of crowds, pain meds for the arm.
Tomorrow could be a very good day I may not even remember!
In a recent conversation, an opportunity presented itself to question a very talented artist if they were a “Discovery” or “Outline” type of person.
As an illustrator, I can see how planning ahead is required.
But as a writer and novelist, I find that we tend, as a group, to fall in those two categories.
Which one is better?
I can only shrug. Neither? Both? I have outlined an entire story before, areas, who the protagonist might meet, the action.
Then only to find the heroine of the story turned left and went out to the desert to meet someone completely different, instead of taking a right turn and going to the coast as planned.
Conversations planned, outcomes identified. All I had to do was fill in the journey from one point to the other.
Silly me. My characters are challenging, willful and at times heretical. (I am god of their world, and they thumb their noses at predestined life?!)
WTF? Really, I had this all planned! Why are you making friends with the enemy instead of burning the castle and shooting them as they run out?
Maybe I’m a peace lover at heart? Or maybe my soul has far more facets to try anything so mundane as following a planned adventure.
What kinds of vacations do I like? I like to discover where I am going when I get there, I explore my world. So perhaps I write the same way.
How about you? Do you follow your OCD and write to a formula or do you embrace anarchy and go where the (Literary) wind takes you?
I would like to have an outline, the best I do as a hybrid, is write the first chapter to start, then go to the end (yes! I do read books that way, not always, but sometimes, it drives Mrs. Dash crazy, she watches my book reading style very closely, thanks to the powers that be for electronic medium so I can skip around without being noticed!) and I write backwards.
So it is “Introducing Mrs. Jones’ cat.” and then I write “and he came home, the end.” then begin to write from there.
There are no rules. Not really when it comes to creating. You might do your best creation while in pain, so you exercise until your legs and arms almost fall off, then write in the rush of endorphins. Or perhaps you follow me around as I shoot my bow at bottle caps that I have affixed to target backings. (30 paces*counted*, 80-85 feet, 25 meters *estimated, my paces are not exact*) using a longbow or recurve. (no counterweights, optical or telescopic sights, releases, arrow rests, kisser buttons, or any other accoutrements. Just a glorified stick and a string, I do make concessions to a nock point.) My point being as that it relaxes the mind, brings into focus that world that you are trying to describe.
Any method you use and works for you, is perfeckt for you.
I took a class at a college, the professor of the class, wonderful teacher, by the way, showed the class an image of a clown statue on a table.
“Write an outline of a story.” Okay. So I did.
Next assignment? Write a story.
The story I turned in, bore little resemblance to the outline. He liked it, but questioned me in front of class, this is not how to use your outline.
My comeback was that the outline is only a guide, the characters will do what they choose.
The fight was on. Until he said I would never make it as an author, I would find myself in a middle of a mess that would not be survive any kind of editing.
I told him then I had two stories already published (Children of Fury, Digital Heart) on Amazon, I would trade him books as I would be interested to compare styles.
We won’t cover what happened after that, but the term “shocked” took a new definition.
(PS. Well, the clown did not survive. But the story? “The Leader” It is a short in the “Walks of Life” anthology currently on sale.)
The upshot, don’t quit writing. Find your own voice, your own style. Maybe you need to drink coffee by the quart in the early morning while listening to the noisy raven that demands the crust to your bread. while sitting on your window sill, or maybe in the dark of the night when everyone has gone to bed and the most stupid of television is on the airwaves (so you turn the boob-tube off).
This morning, I sit drinking coffee spiced with nutmeg, cloves, crushed red chili pepper and other spices with toasted dry bagel. Last night, I went to bed at the local time of 4:30, thus, i am all over the clock. But that is what my rhythm is like.
Yours? Find what works, sit down and type. Sketch. draw, paint, exercise that muscle in your mind and do not let anyone tell you.
I cannot say that loud or often enough, Do Not Let Anyone Tell You-
“That’s not how to do it.”
It’s like shooting a bow, if you do it all wrong, but you keep hitting the “x” and you are having a good time, by all means, keep doing it.
If you outline? Make it so.
If you don’t follow the outline you made? Huzzah!
If the characters argue with you, they want to go this way, heck, follow them! See what new adventures happen you never planned. You can always put it in another story later if you have to pull them back to the previous point.
On that note: do NOT delete anything you write. If you don’t like it? Archive it. Keep it in the file of “Outtakes.” I have nearly one hundred different files of those.
If you don’t even do an outline, just sit down and write? Booya! Go for it!
(that is how I write, what I post here often has only spell check, it is as raw as it can get. Literally(no pun) only minutes old. )
If you get someone to privately message you on your fave social site? Telling you that you have to do a lot of editing on your Seymore the 8 eyed spider story for children, remember, they keep coming back to read what you make. it’s raw, painful and the stories are your babies. YOU decide when it is ready for people to look at it.
Listen only to the voices in your head and heart.
Don’t stop writing.
Then you get a well-loved keyboard like mine. LOL(And this is my GOOD one.)
©2015 Dash McCallen All rights reserved
Chapter 43. Leaving on a Jet Plane
The limousine ride for Barbara was quiet, giving her a chance to think. The trip home to see Glenn filled her with excitement.
His family was hard-working and, while not wealthy, they wanted for nothing.
She wondered what kind of ring she might get. The last time they had spent a summer home, Glenn had negotiated to lease a three-wheel motorcycle from a company with full windshield and a trailer that folded out into a tent.
They had toured Canada that year and she found a ring with a star sapphire, surrounded by small diamonds as an engagement ring.
Glenn nearly fainted right then and Barbara laughed at his frugal soul.
‟A ring is a ring. I would love it no matter what.” She had told him when he got his breath back.
Afterwards, he walked into a smoke-shop and bought an expensive cigar, tossed the large brown stogie into a garbage can and took the small brass-colored paper ring off the shaft and put it on her finger.
‟I will replace it with a real one after we graduate.”
The ring had long since worn out, but it lasted for the length of their journey before they started as freshmen at their separate colleges. Still, she kept the wrinkled and torn paper-foil ring in between the plastic pages of a photo album.
It was exciting to think that the day was so close, and she had nearly altered her future.
*Mangled it, even!* Barbara thought to herself with a quiet laugh, a party with a strange man who ended up as a husband for a short time. But she was able to put her life back on track, and Tom was kind enough for one last favor and fly her to her hometown.
Tom said they could use an airport closer to home than going to a commercial airport. There she could take a taxi home instead of trying to have family take time to drive the hundred miles, pay for a bus, or try to find connections to land at the same airport. It was the best of all choices.
And she had no need to buy tickets.
The limo pulled up to the gate leading to the private area where the jet was. She could see it was the same kind of Lear jet as she had taken to Las Vegas with Tom.
The person that stepped out of the plane was none other than Captain Watson.
Regina Watson! This made Barbara smile, Captain Watson made Barbara feel motivated to make choices.
The limo pulled to a stop and the driver walked around and opened the door.
‟Thank you, Miss Grant.” He remembered her name despite not talking with her at all. Barbara was feeling a bit worried, she still did not see Tom anywhere when the limousine drove off.
‟Barbara?” Tom’s voice came from the building where Regina Watson was walking towards.
Tom stepped into the sunshine and smiled a wide smile. One would think they had not seen each other for weeks, instead of just that morning.
‟Let me get those for you.”
‟No, if you hurt your arm again, I’ll break your leg.” She warned him.
‟I have it.” A tech walked from the office behind Tom and took the bags that she was carrying.
A long hug from Tom, old friends. Lovers as of the previous morning, but no animosity.
She felt that pang of doubt that haunted her a few times when she molded her body to his for a moment.
Tom flinched a little.
‟What happened?” She touched his wounded arm. ‟Is it hurting?”
‟No, it actually feels pretty good, I wrote a few chapters this morning. A novel idea called ‟The accidental husband”.
‟You better not be using my name!” Barbara laughed.
‟Kidding, actually a fourth book to Steamland that’s in theaters. It will be the last one. I planned only three, but it began to come out of my hands this morning.” Tom smiled. ‟There was one in the middle that had needed to fill in some gaps. The mother’s point of view of losing her child to the abuse of government’s agent.”
‟Wow, sounds intense.”
‟I have a few folks proofreading it as of this morning.” Tom said as they entered the cabin of the jet. While they were settling down, a few more people climbed in.
‟I thought this was a private charter?”
‟It is, but they also chartered it. We are all going to the same place.” Tom smiled. ‟I would like to introduce you to a few writer friends of mine. Dee O’Kelley. He has written a few swashbuckler novels. The Porthos series, the musketeer that is also a kind of anti-hero?”
‟Haven’t heard of it.” She whispered to Tom after she shook hands with Mr. O’Kelley.
‟Phoenix Alexandra, she has written about a woman who becomes a private-eye after retiring from military special forces. She is doing well with that, it’s on the New York best-seller’s list.”
Barbara smiled and nodded hello to the rest of the group as they filed in. Six in all, the writers all chatted animatedly among each other on the upcoming book-con that they were going to attend in Seattle.
Tom smiled as the group settled in, Captain Watson finished her checks and closed the door.
The speakers overhead chimed on the small jet and the seatbelt sign illuminated.
Although a group, the chartered jet had few seats in relative terms, and was very comfortable. This was a different airplane that Captain Watson was in charge of. The seats were different, it was as if the group had wished for a family room with wings.
‟How do you know Tom, honey?” A beautiful woman asked Barbara.
White haired, but intense black eyes, she looked as if she had stepped off a farm. To call her elderly would have been wrong on a philosophical level, her eyes had seen much during the years of her life, but the life and light in them was piercing when she looked at Barbara.
‟We are friends, I helped her out with a problem at Ocean Bay University with Doctor Manga.” Tom chimed in when Barbara looked stuck.
‟Barbara, may I introduce you to…”
‟I know!” Barbara grinned. ‟Margaret Patrice! You are my favorite author! You wrote about Honey, the homeless dog.”
‟A young adult book, my answer to Old Yeller. That was a long time ago, my dear. I have written many since then.” She smiled. ‟And thank you for remembering me and your kind words. Are you going to Seattle with us?”
‟No, I am getting off near Portland, if Tom slows the plane down a little.”
The older woman laughed lightly, a sound of a person that enjoyed to laugh. Her eyes sparkled with good humor.
‟You should ask Tom out.” Margaret whispered in a conspiratorial tone to Barbara when Tom became deeply involved in conversation with Thomas Kraig who had written a fan-fiction of an established science fiction series that became a basis for an upcoming movie.
”He has been alone for far too long. I would do things with him, but alas, I have a family that might take a dim view of an old woman chasing the likes of a man who lives on a floating plane.” The wrinkles around her eyes smiled as brightly as her lips.
‟Flying boat.” Barbara corrected, and immediately regretted. ‟I’m sorry, he has jumped me for that a few times. It has become habit.”
‟Jumped you?” The sparkling eyes smiled with the dual meaning. ‟Have you slept with him?”
Another jaw-dropping moment that Barbara’s command of the English language failed her.
‟Maggie, Barbara is a bit of a wallflower, kinda shy and all. Are you intimidating her?” Tom leaned over and asked.
‟Not at all!” She laughed. ‟I think I was finding some details.”
‟No details to find.”
‟Maggie!” Thomas Kraig piped up. ‟Stop intimidating people. Forgive her miss…?”
‟Grant. Please, call me Barbara.”
‟Of course. Barbara. See Maggie, she is a sweet girl, not like us Bohemian Bull types.” It was Phoenix that had reined in Barbara’s favorite author.
Still, the white-haired author studied Barbara.
She knew there was something going on between Tom and Barbara, she was but a few hours late.
The flight continued with Phoenix looking at pictures on Barbara’s camera, her entire collection of paintings over the three years of fine arts studies at Ocean Bay.
An image of Tom without a shirt surprised them both and Barbara coudn’t get it off fast enough. Laughing quietly, Phoenix patted Barbara’s leg.
‟I saw nothing.” She whispered.
The overhead speakers chimed and the sign ‟Seatbelts” illuminated.
‟Ladies and Gentlemen, we are beginning our descent to disembark a passenger. We will be landing in about five minutes, our time on the ground will be about a half-hour.”
The last chance to hold Tom’s hand presented itself without being obvious.
It was one thing she was going to miss with all her heart.