Sunday, June 27, 2010

Getting to know each other -- Part 1


OK, blog friends. It's high time we get to know one another. Over the next few days, I'm going to tell you a little about myself and then ask you to respond in kind.

I'm going to focus on one thing per post. I'm also going to try to bring the point around to writing, although I can't make any promises.

And tonight, I want to talk about cursing.

Yep. You heard that right. Cursing.

We've all heard that a dirty mouth indicates a small mind and a poor vocabulary, right? But it's been my experience that that's not always true. I know very intelligent lawyers, judges, politicians and teachers who swear like longshoremen. And let's not even talk about journalists.

Me, I swear far too often. And I don't mean an occasional damn or hell, if you know what I mean. I suspect my background has a lot to do with that. My stepfather was a Vietnam combat veteran and an Illinois State trooper. Consequently, I grew up with a houseful of cops. There was much coffee, cigarettes, machismo and swearing at our kitchen table over the years.

I was a police officer in the Air Force before college and then spent many years in a big-city newspaper newsroom. My old city editor (may he rest in peace) swore so much that his assistant fined him a quarter for each cuss word. The coins went into a coffee can at City Desk. It filled up so often that we used the money to buy everyone in the newsroom donuts once a week. And there were fifty people in that newsroom at any given time. Honestly.

True story: The city editor once turned around to face the obit writer and screamed, "Hurry the fuck up!" and found himself face-to-face with a troop of Cub Scouts who were touring the newsroom. He shrugged and fished every quarter he had out of his pocket and dropped them into the can. We had jelly-filled donuts that Friday.

I was thirteen or fourteen the first time I remember my mother saying fuck. My memory is a bit hazy here, but I recall we were in a cabin somewhere in Arkansas on vacation and me, my sister and my ten-month old baby brother were all sleeping in the same room. My baby brother was a notorious screamer and my sister and I were giggling and acting like idiots when the door flew open and there was mom.

"Shut up or I will fucking kill you both!" she screamed before slamming the door. Apparently, she was having a bad day. We were so shocked we didn't even giggle for, like, ten seconds.

Once that thresh hold was crossed -- and believe me, there's no going back -- my mother started swearing like a Marine in front of us. She's 70 years old and still screams "fuck you" at the television when she's unhappy with a show. (She was popular with my friends in high school, trust me.)

The first time I remember getting in trouble for swearing was when I shouted "Goddamn" at the top of my lungs when a neighbor lady found a morel mushroom in her front yard. I guess I was excited. I do remember, however, getting my butt whipped with my father's skinny belt for it.

Oddly, I've found that very poor and very wealthy people swear the most, on average. I know people from lots of money, people who drive BMWs and Mercedes and live in million-dollar homes that say fuck all the time, even to their children. And to this day, it shocks me.

I've also managed to bring my poor wife down a bit, language-wise. She doesn't swear as much as I do, but she's good for some spicy language on a daily basis.

My older boys swear a little around me, although neither started until they hit 18. The 12-year-old does not, since he runs the risk of getting his mouth washed out with Dawn dishwashing liquid (no one uses bar soap anymore, do they?)

I use quite a few swear words in my writing, although only in dialogue and only if it's true to the character. I try not to use them for shock value. But I will admit that I have trouble with a novel in which no one ever swears, since real life just isn't that way.

So how about you, dear blog friend? Do you swear a lot? If so, when did you start? Do you use swear words in your writing? And if not, why not?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Footloose and fancy free


We're reviving Family Movie Night and, for this week anyway, we're having it tonight instead of Friday. We joined NetFlix recently since our local video store went belly-up, and a handful of DVDs in funky little paper sleeves came today in the mail.

Frankly, it seems so old-school, using the mail system. But who am I to judge?

Anyway, yours truly has been suckered into watching what might be the worst movie of the 80s. Yes, that's right. Footloose. My apologies to you Kevin Bacon fans out there (and you know who you are), but I find it thoroughly cringe-inducing.

However, I did make everyone sit through Night of the Comet (one of my faves), so I have this coming, I guess.

So far, the Great Summer Vacation Experiment (as it will be referred to from now on) has been somewhat boring. I spent the day sitting outside on the front porch reading Jaws by Peter Benchley, a favorite from my younger days. The novel's rapid-fire pace and thoroughly engrossing storyline immediately made me itch to ... wait for it .... write!

How weird is that, since I took the summer off because I haven't been able to write. Maybe it's working already. God, I hope so. I really want to make this author thing work. It's been my dream since, like, forever.

The kid sat inside and played video games and watched movies, so the first full day of our vacay wasn't much different than the others. It was, however, guilt free.

Tomorrow, the wife and I are taking the kid to Border's for books and coffee and then we're going to catch the matinee showing of Grown Ups.

Ah summer. How's yours coming so far?

Oh crap. The movie's starting ...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Guilt-free fun!


I've been trying to figure out what's been causing my inability to write in the past three weeks, and I think I've stumbled upon the answer, thanks to my blog friend Karen G.

It's two things, actually. One, I gave up on The Devil You Don't Know -- despite anything I might have blogged about to the contrary. I spent three years of my life on this novel and after ten agent rejections, I mentally shoved it aside as though it means nothing to me.

That's crap, of course. It means the world to me and I know it. Just because I haven't found an agent yet (or even received a non-form rejection) after sending out 16 queries doesn't mean the book sucks. (I hope.)

But I shelved TDYDK and the political thriller I was writing and decided to begin this big, deep and complex adventure novel.

About this same time, Brennan finished school for the summer and since he's too old for camp this year, he's home with me. And then I got sick. Really sick.

After a pretty good one-thousand word start on the new book, tenatively titled, El Fanstasma (Spanish for The Ghost), I ran out of gas. Completely. I was dead in the water.

For three weeks, I've been trying to write the book while fighting the guilt of ignoring my 12-year-old son for hours at a time. He doesn't have much to do this summer, so he sits upstairs either reading, watching TV or playing video games.

Yesterday, I blogged about it and asked for help. Karen's answer hit home when I read it this morning. She said 12-year-old boys like being with their dads, and reminded me that this phase doesn't last much longer. I know this, since I have two older boys. She suggested I take the summer off -- guilt free -- and enjoy the time with him.

When he goes back to school in mid-August, she says, I should be unblocked and ready to write.

At first, the idea of doing nothing this summer didn't appeal to me. But the more I thought about it, the more I had to agree. She was right. I do feel guilty. And I can't concentrate on my writing because of it.

So I've decided to write nothing this summer except blog posts. Instead, I am going to rewrite the query letter for TDYDK and start querying again. Big-time.

Oh, and spend all kinds of time with Brennan. We're going to play tennis, hike, swim and lounge around. Basically, we're going to have fun.

And I am not going to feel guilty about it. I promise.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Moving forward at a snail's pace


Well, I'm moving ahead with the new novel, slowly but surely.

Emphasis on slowly.

Today, I managed to delete all the crap I had written before and then added about 300 new words that may or may not be English. Still, whatever they are, they're better than the garbage that preceded them.

I left the opening scene, because I actually think it's salvageable. Heck, it might even be good as it is.

I've also been analyzing why I've been so blocked the past few weeks (I know. Analyzing always gets me in trouble). I think it's a combination of fear that my first effort wasn't very good and a big change in the Towery household. You see, this is the first summer that the 12-year-old hasn't gone to summer day camp. He's too old this year.

So he and I are hanging around the house all day. He goes to the gym with me and then we come home, eat breakfast and I head down to write while he reads or watches television or plays video games.

And I worry that I'm ignoring him. That his summer will suck because Dad is too busy in his study writing. We live out in the bluffs and there's no kids his age nearby. So the poor kid sits here all day while I write (or try to).

And, I suspect, that's keeping me from concentrating on the task at hand -- namely getting this new book started and done in the ten-month time frame I'm shooting for.

It's just not happening, folks.

I'm one of those weird writers who must have complete quiet. I can't be interrupted or I lose my train of thought and whatever I was writing vanishes from my mind forever. I do have a cursory outline, but I mostly write from the seat-of-my-pants. And that's been a problem the past three weeks.

It's not his fault. Not at all. In fact, he feels bad and blames himself for dad's writing block. Now this isn't true, of course. It's all my fault.

But it's still a problem, you know?

As you can tell, I've spent far too much time screwing around with the blog. I do, however, like the newest design. Of course, knowing me, I'll change it again next time I'm blocked.

Hell, I haven't even been able to blog much, I've been that blocked. The simple act of writing a blog post damn near sends me into panic mode these days. I sit here, and ... nothing comes.

So I do this stream-of-consciousness thing I'm doing right now, because it's the only way I can actually get something written.

I wonder. Do people see shrinks for writer's block? I'm serious. I'd do it if I thought it would help.

So my question to you, dear bloggy friends, is this: What do you do when you're blocked and can't write? I mean, I've already taken three weeks off, so taking more time off isn't the answer. Maybe the little bit of work I got done today means the end is in sight. I hope so.

Monday, June 21, 2010

When your characters speak Spanish


I'm facing a conundrum in my WIP. It's an adventure thriller set in South America and suburban Chicago. It involves primarily Americans, although the antagonist is Colombian.

My problem is this: When writing about Juan Pablo Marquez (the antagonist), do I have him speak Spanish or English? Obviously, he and his companions would speak Spanish in real life, but how about in my novel?

I've considered doing what Tom Clancey does when writing about Russians. He has them speak English, but in a sort of stilted way. He also peppers his dialogue with Russian phrases and names so the reader knows he's reading about Russians. It can be a little cheesy at times, but I think overall it's effective.

I've not encountered this issue in any of the writing books I've read. What would you do?

As a side note, we just had the most spectacular thunderstorm go through. It was one of those majestic storms filled with sound and fury. Some of the thunderclaps were so loud they literally shook the foundation of the house and rattled the walls. It was quite impressive. And the best part is, we didn't lose power.

At this writing, we are waiting to see if Brennan's baseball game is a go tonight. After a long and very hot weekend that featured five games in three days, I'm kind of rooting for a postponement. But we shall see.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on my language problem. Hope your Monday is going as well as mine is!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Random ramblings on a Sunday night


I'd like to post something deep and meaningful on Father's Day, but I can't. My father and I were never close, unfortunately, and I never had much of a relationship with him after he and my Mom were divorced when I was ten.

He was killed in a car accident 14 years ago next week.

I did, however, luck into having three wonderful sons. My middle son, Zach, and his lovely girlfriend Kayla just left. We had a nice visit on the deck and it was a good excuse for Zach and I to enjoy a cigar together. My oldest, Blaine, called and texted me several times while we were at the tournament. And Brennan, the youngest, got me a brand new Alias 2 smartphone for Father's Day (I suspect the wife actually paid for it). So now I can check my e-mail anytime I want.

The baseball weekend is finally over, although we have another out-of-town game tomorrow night. I always gripe and groan about these Little League games, and then I miss them something terrible when the season is over. And this is likely the final season of baseball, since Brennan will be too old for Little League next year. So a 17-year family tradition will come to an end next month.

But the biggest news of the weekend belongs to Jennifer, my lovely wife. (She's the little cute one in the front in the photo above). As many of you know, she was selected for the roller derby league being put together here, which I find hilarious since she's a college-educated journalist who just happens to be 5-feet tall and weighs a whopping 105 pounds.

But she's tough as hell and determined to do a good job. I could learn from that kind of dedication. Anyway, they had tryouts for the league's travel team and of the 40 women who tried out, they picked 16. And she was one of them! Yay. I'm so proud.

I'm also ready to get back to writing after a three-week hiatus. I'm still not sure why I was so blocked, but maybe it was time-off well spent. Brennan and I have been enjoying his summer vacation and just hanging out. And now I feel rejuvenated and energized.

I'm ready to get back to querying for TDYDK and back to writing my next one. Here's hoping it starts to flow.

And a happy Father's Day to all you Dads out there (and to anyone who's ever had a Dad).

Friday, June 18, 2010

Still here


Just a short post to let everyone know that I am, in fact, still among the living. After nearly a week of Internet, phone and cable TV problems (including four visits from Comcast technicians) we are back online.

Now we are fully immersed in the Little League weekend tournament from hell. Game tonight, possibly two or three tomorrow and at least one and probably more on Sunday. All in a tiny town about 40 miles from here.

Yay. :)

I'm interested in what you guys think about the blog makeover. I'm not sure why I did it, although I suspect boredom played a role. Nonetheless, I happen to like hummingbirds. So there.

Anyway, just wanted to say hi to everyone. I hope you all have a wonderful and productive (or relaxing, as the case may be) weekend.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I hate Comcast


There. I said it. I HATE the bastards.

Really.

(Rant warning; please do not read if you have delicate sensitivities!)

We have our land-line, cable television and Internet bundled with Comcast and the whole damned thing has been mostly down for DAYS! Everything goes dead at the same time each day and no matter how many times we call and complain, or how many times they send a "representative" out to our house to check our system, NOTHING gets done about it.

Each time the guy checks our equipment, he tells us there is nothing wrong at our end. But the Comcast people in Schaumburg or Mumbai or wherever the hell they are tells us that it's not them, it's us.

Grrrrrr!!!!! No. It's not us. It's them.

The upshot is, I've been sitting here since last week with the Internet mostly down and all those QUERIES out! I just know some agent is going to send me an email and I'm going to miss it! Talk about stress.

Anyway, I would like to say this to Comcast Cablevision: You people are fucking morons! Someone should put your incompetent asses out of business once and for all.

There. I feel better. And I'm not worried about them suing me for giving my opinion. I know a little about libel after twenty-five years in journalism and I know I have the right to say what I want about someone. The burden of proof is on them to prove they are NOT fucking morons.

Ha. Good luck with that, Comcast.

Oh, and I got a blog award while we were down. The lovely Anne Gallagher at http://piedmontwriter.blogspot.com/ gave me the Surefire Winner Award! Wow. Thanks, Anne.
I hereby pass it to Gina at http://www.amuseinmypocket.com/. Once she gets Shay's story down, it's a Surefire Winner! :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

When dreams nearly die


I have been fighting the worst funk of my life the past couple of weeks. I'm not sure what has been going on with me, but I can honestly say I have been on the verge of some sort of clinical depression.

I had lost the will to write, whether it was fiction or this blog. It just didn't seem important to me. I just wanted to wallow in self pity and failure.

It sucked.

I'm convinced that part of it was physical. I apparently had some kind of virus or bug or something that left me feeling exhausted and damn near catatonic. The glands under my neck were swollen and I had a headache all of the time.

Blech.

I had written the opening scene of my new WIP and then struggled mightily to move it forward. Everything I wrote was garbage. Seriously. None of it is usable.

Concerned, I stopped writing for a few days. I figured I just needed some time away from fiction writing for the first time in three years. A week went by and ... nothing. I still felt crappy and completely uninterested in writing.

I even talked to my wife about seeing a counselor. Or a shrink. I needed something.

I still might.

A few days ago, it occurred to me that I had given up. That I had fallen victim to my own lack of confidence. I had become convinced that my first book sucks, that it will never be published. Consequently, I felt no need to continue writing. I was a failure.

Why go through all of that work again, just to fail again?

As some of you know, I am a vice president/communications director for RS Operations, a global marine salvage corporation (Google us and invest!). Things have been looking up there, so I figured maybe I don't need to chase my dreams. I can help someone else chase theirs!

Some back story: Several months ago, I started following the blog of 16-year-old sailor Abby Sunderland. She was attempting to become the youngest person to sail nonstop around the world. In a boat. Alone. I grew to admire her courage and how she was determined to make her dream come true, no matter what anyone said.

I could relate, you know?

So imagine my horror when, during the absolute depths of my depression or whatever it was, I signed on the Internet to read this: Teen sailor feared missing at sea.

Like most people who follow blogs regularly, I really felt like I had come to know this girl. I had commented on her blog and she had commented back. We were blog buddies!

And now she was missing somewhere in the Indian Ocean and feared dead. I was heartbroken.

I followed her saga closely and, unfortunately, became convinced the child had perished at sea. I was angry. At her for going. At her parents for allowing it. At the sea for taking her. I was pissed. And sad.

I also had this sinking thought: That's what happens when you chase your dreams.

I signed on the Internet late Friday before hitting the sack and did a Google search on Abby to see if there was any new information (once a news junkie, always a news junkie). I happened to see a breaking news item that said an Australian Airbus was due over her position within ten minutes. If she was alive, they might be able to either spot her or make radio contact.

I stayed with the Google stream as it was updated in real time. Ten minutes passed. People were praying for this girl online, mainly on Twitter. Most didn't seem to expect a positive outcome. I didn't either, to be honest with you.

Twenty minutes passed and no news from the Australians. I felt really bad and was thinking about going to bed.

And then this moved on the Google Stream -- Breaking News: Teen sailor found alive and well.

OK. I'll admit that I raised my fists in the air, let out a whoop and then sat there and cried tears of joy. I have kids her age. I could only imagine the joy her parents felt at that moment.

And at that moment, my depression broke. It dissolved. Gone.

This girl had risked her life for a dream and nearly lost both. But she intends to try again, despite almost dying.

And I intend to keep on trying, too.

Dreams are too precious to give up on.

I learned that from a 16-year-old girl.

Go Abby.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Trying to write my way out


I have been unable to write anything other than pure crap for about three weeks or so. I'm not sure why, but it's driving me nuts.

Not to get too personal, but I've had some (minor) health issues during that time, including some kind of weird bug that left me exhausted with swollen glands and one hell of a headache for weeks. Then, I developed a running-related foot injury that hurts me when I sit down (at my desk, for instance). It's throbbing right now, as a matter of fact.

This has all combined into a massive bout of writer's block. Take today. I sat here for more than three hours and came up with ... 238 words.

Of pure crap.

A couple of weeks ago, I was really excited about the new WIP. I still am, but I'm having real problems getting it off the ground. No matter what I do, I stare at the screen and nothing comes.

Sigh.

I'm starting to get worried. I mean, I wrote The Devil You Don't Know mostly in a fog of ignorance. I was pretty much done with the manuscript when I discovered there were writers' blogs and agents online. In other words, I knew nothing about writing fiction when I wrote it. I just let 'er fly and went with my creative juices.

Then I learned all about the craft of writing. I started to read writing books, and blogs, etc. It helped me tremendously in editing and revising TDYDK.

But since then, I have started three books. And all three sit in various states of un-doneness (if I may coin a phrase) on my hard drive.

Don't get me wrong. I am not quitting. No way in hell. I will work through this.

But I can't help but wonder if I now know too much about the writing process. For instance, I am so damned aware of how important the first fifty pages are that I freeze now when writing my WIP. I just know that it's not good enough. And the more pressure I put on myself, the harder it is to sit down and just write.

Like I used to.

How do you deal with writer's block? Do you put too much pressure on yourself? Do you find that the more you know about the craft of writing, the harder it gets?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Night of the twister(s)



Last night was a wild one here in central Illinois.

It all started about 6 p.m. The wife and 12-year-old had gone to East Peoria (some 15 miles away) for pizza with a friend. The wife often does restaurant reviews for the paper, and this time a pizza joint was up for grabs. So she called a friend from the paper and the three of them headed off. I demurred, since I'm on a low-carb diet. Oh, and the Cubs were on television.

All good so far.

At about 7 p.m., the sky darkened and it began thundering. I switched from the Cubs game (on WGN Chicago) to a local station and saw that we were under a tornado warning. At that moment, the lights flickered and several tornado sirens began going off in the distance. Then the siren closest to our house (about half-a-mile away) went off.

Curious but not alarmed, I went out on the front porch with my cigar to watch the sky. (It's something I've always done; sirens go off, people head for the basement and I head for the front porch.)

I called the wife and they were on their way home. She needed to stop at the newspaper to drop her friend Kathy off, so I suggested they stay there until the storm passed. She agreed.

A minute later, several ambulances and police cars went screaming past the house (remember, we live on a blacktop road in the wooded bluffs, just north of the city). Then a firetruck went by, with a loudspeaker blaring: "Take cover immediately. This is not a drill. Take cover immediately!"

Whoa. I waved at the truck and called the wife, who was now stopped at a gas station about five miles from the newspaper. I strongly suggested she hurry up. She agreed.

I went back in the house for a moment to check the Weather Channel and the police scanner (a holdover from my journalism days) and heard that several tornadoes were on the ground nearby, including one right near where the wife and kid were. Oh, and there was one just up the road from me.

I went back out on the porch and lit another cigar. The clouds were among the most frightening I've ever seen (see photos above from pjstar.com; the top one is the Elmwood twister, the bottom shows what was above the city and the newspaper where the wife and kid were). Man, it was a sight. I could hear what sounded like a freight train (the cliche is true, it turns out) just south of here. While I couldn't see the twister, I sure as hell heard it.

By now, the wife and kid were at the newspaper (eight miles away) and the kid was sent down to the fortified basement, where I knew he would be safe. The wife pitched in because the newsroom was woefully understaffed and all hell was breaking loose. Finally, when the scanner said a tornado was literally at the newspaper, I texted her and strongly suggested (ahem) that she and the whole staff go to the basement.

They did.

Anyway, to make a very long story short, it eventually passed and the wife and kid got home unscathed. But 15 tornadoes had touched down in Peoria County (possibly a record) and the town of Elmwood some 35 miles west of here had taken a direct hit. I knew from the scanner traffic that they had closed the town down, blocked off all roads and were gathering people at the high school. I also knew the entire downtown area had been wiped out, as well as the grade school.

At 9 p.m., it was clear the paper didn't have the manpower to staff the hell that was still breaking loose throughout the area (including police digging for the body of Stacey Peterson here), so the wife and I decided to take a ride.

Well, we ended up driving through some of the worst weather I have ever seen. I managed to elude the police barricades and we ended up in Elmwood. With the 12-year-old. Such is the lives of professional journalists.

And what a scene it was. Completely dark. No power anywhere in town. Silent as a tomb. Clusters of people just standing in the roads, in yards, on the sidewalks. In shock. The town looked like it had been bombed. Parts of houses hung from what power lines were still strung up. There was an eerie popping sound and a hiss coming from the blocked-off downtown area -- downed electrical wires sparking and gas leaks from the dozens of buildings and cars that had been destroyed.

If you've seen the movie Twister, you might remember what Wakita looked like. It was sort of like that. Maybe not quite as bad. But you get the idea. Really spooky.

Anyway, the wife did her job. She interviewed survivors at the high school, talked to police and volunteers and all the good people who pitch in when these kinds of things happen. And then came the biggest news of the night:

There had been no injuries. None. It was a damned miracle. I still don't know how dozens weren't killed. The little movie theater was filled with people when the tornado scored a direct hit and destroyed it. Amazing. Just amazing.

We didn't get home until after midnight. What a night. Wow.

And the 12-year-old? He says it was the best night of his life. And he also thinks he has the coolest parents in the world for taking him.

Cool? Doubtful. Dedicated journalists? Yep. A little crazy at times? Sure.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A happier picture for Marty


This is me and two mission friends outside the Mayan ruins in central Yucatan. We were just being goofy. Marty asked for a happier photo, and this is the best I could do in the short term. Oh, I'm the goofball on the left! As you can see, I like to wear black. :)

Back from the ledge


Thank you for the virtual pats on the back after my latest whine. You guys are the best. I only hope I can be there for you, should you need it, like you were for me.


So what did I do to pull myself back from the ledge? Well, I sat on the deck and read Donald Maass all morning and then, literally in a flash, I had an idea to make the new book even better. It's a plot twist that even I didn't see coming, and it was somehow spurred by reading a chapter in Maass' superb Writing the Breakout Novel.


He was writing about premise and how it's important to layer your book with several nuanced sub-plots and then twist them in just the right way to bring it all home at the end.


And it clicked. So I dropped the book, grabbed my Moleskine notebook and jotted it down before I could forget it. I'll flesh it out in a couple of hours while sitting at my son's Little League game.


And again, thanks for the encouragement. I really needed it.


Such is the life of a writer ...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It don't come easy


I'm lost. That much I know.

<----(This is a picture of me looking lost. Sad, isn't it?)
I spent two-and-a-half long years writing The Devil You Don't Know, and all it's given me so far is form rejections from agents. Sigh. I know I've whined on this blog countless times about how my book sucks, etc.

But really, I'm starting to wonder. Between the form rejections and beta readers just up and disappearing on me (for reals), I'm beginning to think I'm wasting my time. I've started two books since then, and bagged them both. I quit writing the sequel to TDYDK when it became clear that it's very likely the first one will spend eternity on my hard drive. I then started a political thriller, but quit after 20k words because, while I was enjoying it, it felt lightweight. I think I started it for all the wrong reasons -- mainly because I didn't want to have to work as hard on the next one as I had worked on the first.

Bad move on my part.

So when I had a great idea for a big, kick-ass action thriller last week, I spent several days plotting it out, doing an outline and creating a cast of characters. I started writing it over the weekend and really liked the first chapter. A lot.

The second chapter? Meh. Not so much.

Now I'm blocked. I sat for hours today, staring at the screen. And nothing would come. Nothing. Every idea I had to move the story forward seemed dumb. Stupid. Amateurish.

What a stupid fucking way to try to make a living, I decided. And I closed the manuscript and signed on to the Internet. And here I am. Yay me.

I think I'm scared. I remember how much work it was to complete the first novel, and I literally quake at the thought of spending another year or two working that hard ... for nothing.

At least, nothing so far.

I really wish I was one of those confident people who just brush rejection off and keep on going. Sometimes, I think I am. But then days like today come around, and I start to wonder.

At lunch, I cranked up the kitchen radio while I ate my omelet and an old song by Ringo Starr came on. It brought tears to my eyes, which ought to tell you something about my state of mind these days.

Anyway, here's some of the lyrics to "It Don't Come Easy." If you haven't heard it, give it a twirl on YouTube. Ringo was in a band at one time, you know ... ;)

Got to pay your dues
if you wanna sing the blues,
And you know it don't come easy.
You don't have to shout or leap all about,
You can even play them easy.

Open up your heart,
let's come together,
Use a little love
And we will make it work out better

I don't ask for much,
I only want trust,
And you know it don't come easy.
And this love of mine keeps growing all the time,
And you know it don't come easy.

Please remember peace is how we make it,
Here within your reach
If you're big enough to take it.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I'm alive!


I was offline almost the entire holiday weekend. We were busy with graduation parties and family get-togethers and road trips and all the other stuff that families do on long holiday weekends.

And I am pooped.

I started the new novel over the weekend, and by today I had already run out of gas. I'm 1,700 words in, and I'm clueless as to where to go next (even though I have, like, this huge outline). In other words, I'm writing again! Whoo-hoo.

I know I announced a couple of weeks ago that I was scaling back my blogging -- and I have -- but today I want to announce just the opposite. I have missed blogging every day, so I hereby promise to blog most every day except Saturday. Even if it' something short and sweet.

Like this one.