Hey, everybody — did you hear she’s writing a new book?
No, really? That’s so exciting!
Who? Who’s writing a new book?
Penguin #1 (Reginald):
The lady who writes this blog, dummy!
Penguin #2 (Matilda):
What’s it about? Does it have a penguin hero?
Penguin #3 (Archibald):
Oh boy! A penguin hero! I can’t wait to read it!
Don’t be silly, Archibald! This blogger writes about human beings, because she is one, and she was taught to write about what she knows. She doesn’t know anything about us.
Oh drat. No penguin hero. Then why did you call us here today?
Yes, Reginald, I agree with Archibald — if it’s not about us . . . what is this new book about?
It’s about a woman named, Annie Mae Steinberg from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Her friends called her Mae.) The story begins in the late 1800s, when she travels west to South Dakota to become an actress on the stage of the Gem Theater. The Gem is located in a mining town called Deadwood.
Deadwood? O-o-o-h . . . that sounds scary!
Yes, it does sound frightening. Was she all alone out there?
Completely. She left all her friends and family back in Philadelphia to have her own adventure. You see, Mae was a dreamer . . . a bit like you, Archibald. But, fate stepped in and completely altered her grand plans.
Oh no. How? Why? What did fate do to her? I’m beginning to like this Mae human.
Me too! Tell us more, please.
I can’t . . . the book’s not finished . . . the blogger human is still writing it. We’ll just have to wait until it’s published.
Ya know what, Reginald? You suck! You called us all over here to share your big news, and now you tell us — you can’t tell us! What a jerk!
Now, now. Don’t be so hard on Reggie — he hasn’t been the same since he lost that part in “Penguins of Madagascar.”
Reginald’s head droops as he walks away:
Thanks a lot, Matilda. Just for that, I won’t tell you what the book is called, and you’ll never be able to find it to read. So there!
That’s not fair! I want to read about Mae. Sorry for calling you a jerk, Reginald.
I’m sorry too. You would have been the best actor in that movie — honest! Please tell us, Reggie.
Reginald turned, his ego restored, and with his head held high, declared:
Please return here at various intervals for updates on this human blogger’s progress with Mae’s Revenge. The target release date is early fall, 2017.
I WON A “MAJOR AWARD!” (Think: A Christmas Story – leg lamp) — back in December, 2015.
It turned out to be a legitimate random drawing for three nights and four days at “When Words Count Retreat” in Rochester, Vermont, for myself and a guest. My husband and I checked in last Thursday!
We had no idea what to expect.
We became a bit concerned after traveling the last mile of our journey from southern New Jersey on a gravel-covered, narrow, backwoods road, and joked about “The Blair Witch Project”—(thanking God it was daytime).
BUT, WE WERE PLEASANTLY SURPRISED (and relieved) WHEN
…we pulled into the drive of a lovely white farmhouse sporting a welcoming red door.
Behind that door was a total writer’s paradise. In between the fabulous gourmet meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner—and the cocktails, of course!) there was uninterrupted writing time! A concept completely foreign to me, until last week.
In the evenings, guests read portions of their current work, and the rest (including our host, Steve Eisner) critiqued what was read, in a professional, caring, and encouraging way.
With the food, the new friends we made, the spectacular mountain views, and crystal clear air, we felt completely pampered.
If you ever get the chance to go—do it!
SURRENDER to this, or some other RETREAT!
Your “Work in Progress” (and your soul) will be glad you did!
Have you ever attended a “writer’s retreat?” If you have, please share your experience (good or bad) in the “Comments.”
I’d love to hear your stories!
So—A young Jewish girl from Philly walks into a bar…(You haven’t heard this one, have you?)
Actually, it is the year 1888, and the bar is the Gem Saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota.
I’m about 4,500 words into writing my next book (an adult historical novel loosely based on true events) and I hope you will come along for the ride!
At the moment, our seventeen-year-old protagonist is on a train, headed for Chicago. An attractive thirty-something stranger has insinuated himself into her adventure by taking the seat next to her. Away from home and family for the first time in her life, Mae is both wary and excited!
I hope you will find the time, dear readers, to follow along for periodic updates on: “MAE heads WEST” — (my working title).
(NOTE: If any of my readers are, or know experts in early modes of transportation in the U.S., I would love to hear from you in the COMMENTS. I have several questions that my internet research has not provided answers to, and would appreciate your valuable assistance going forward.)
WELL, FOLKS, WE’RE DOWN TO THE WIRE…
Waiting for the proof copy of my book, “Bosses and Blackjacks: A Tale of the ‘Bloody Fifth’ in Philadelphia.”
I’ve got other things to do with my life (as we all do), but all I can think of is the book!
I go from being giddy that I’ve accomplished this goal, to being sad that’s it’s almost done! From excited butterflies to nausea. I feel like I’m in a Twilight Zone episode where time stands still waiting for the big plot reveal!
While I wait…I thought I’d share the final cover art with you, my dear readers. Hopefully, it meets with your approval.
Amazon—here we come!
Did you know elephants are pregnant for almost two years? Actually, the average is twenty-two months! And then they deliver a baby weighing as much of two hundred and thirty pounds! Can you imagine?
Yes. I can. I’ve been pregnant with my book, “BOSSES AND BLACKJACKS: A Tale of the Bloody Fifth in Philadelphia” for three years! At least, that’s what it felt like. In reality, with time out for holiday seasons, it was actually more like two-and-one-half years—so I’ve still got Momma Pachyderm beat!
Morning sickness was the endless research. The girth increase was felt with each additional chapter written. Toward the end, attempting to bend over to pick something up from the floor or cutting my toenails, was represented by the painful process of editing.
Now—at last—I’m in labor!
By that, I mean I have sent the entire finished manuscript to be formatted and finalized for submission to the magical world of Amazon!
Here’s hoping the delivery will go smoothly! (I can guarantee my book baby will not weigh 230 pounds!)
Stay tuned for the “birth announcement!”
I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for helpful writing advice.
Perhaps you’ve noticed—there’s a blizzard of it out there. And like snowflakes, no two advisors are the same, in the way they drift their sage words against the fence corralling our own individual genius.
Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for having your shovel handy at moments like this.
In editing my book, Bosses and Blackjacks, I’ve been struggling to decide if the beginning is too slow. But, today I happened upon a mound of advice that I did not have to dig through to understand.
I share it with you now, dear reader:
“Opening a novel with a lot of fast action is like putting your reader on a Japanese bullet train going 320 miles an hour. The landscape outside the window is all blurry.
There’s no reason to look at it because you can’t really make sense of it. You might as well take a nap.”
(By Sally Apokedak, @sally_apokedak
Sally is a literary agent with the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency and is a popular speaker at writer’s conferences around the country.)
I agree with Sally.
No need to change my book’s beginning. Ease into it, so my readers have a sense of my protagonist and the world he lives in, before he goes crashing headlong into a drift of life-threatening hairpin turns.
Do you agree that we all latch onto any advice that fits exactly with what we were thinking in the first place—as I did here? We are vindicated We feel affirmed. We have packed our egos neatly and made it to the station on time.
All aboard! We are on the right track!
You know how when you are reaching the end of a fantastic book—and you don’t want to finish it—because then what will you do with the rest of your life?
You’ve been living in this fantasy world for hours and hours, perhaps days and days. You don’t want to say goodbye to the people (or creatures) who inhabited that world with you. What will become of them? Where will they go next? You want them to live and grow old with you. But they can’t and they don’t.
That’s where I am in my writing. I’m this close to finishing my first book, and I’m a little depressed because I will have to say goodbye to the familiar occupants of my pages. What will become of me? Where will I go next?
If my son were here, he would place one hand on each of my shoulders, look me in the eye, and say, “Calm down.” For some reason, that always worked. Amazing. Writing that helped.
So, “buck up,” me—“get back to work and finish that thing!”
Please visit the “comments” section. I’d love to hear how you, dear reader, push through when you’re nearing completion of a writing project, and make the decision to say, “Th-th-that’s All Folks!”
Today, I have two quick questions for you—
Would you like your name to be used in a book? (Not porn, of course! Unless you have some spectacular attributes you want to brag about.)
If you knew your name appeared in a book, would you be more likely to read it? (Or, in the case of porn, at least look at the pictures?)
DISCLAIMER: No, I do not write porn. Humor, folks. Humor.
Please let me know in the comment section. Thanks for stopping by!
The editor spent about three weeks doing the first run-through of my book, Bosses and Blackjacks. She has an incredible ability to pick up on a missed comma or end quote or verb tense consistency, among a myriad of other things.
So, of course, I thought to myself: If it took her three weeks to plod through my manuscript—writing she had never seen before—certainly, I will only need two to review her edits.
Ha! As Eliza Doolittle sang in My Fair Lady:
“What a fool I was, what an addlepated fool!”
Week two is ending as I type this. Am I finished? No way. I have already sent the requisite email message begging her indulgence for an additional week.
Wish me luck. Please.
Now, if you’ll excuse me—I’ve got some revising to do.
Do you set time limits for yourself when you begin a task—be it writing, a household chore, or a life-altering activity? And, what do you do when you smack face-first into that deadline wall?
Please share your experiences, or advice, or both, in the Comment section below.