Category Archives: General Opinion

Happy Trails To You…

Whether by mountain, by plain, by water, by train.

Whether by mountain, by plain, by water, by train.

Happy trails to you, Sam Claiborne. Until we meet again.

You finally made it, off on your own, investigating possibilities and potentials, out of my world and into your own.

May this post serve as official notice that Heller’s Canal is finished and published on both Smashwords.com (and all its affiliate eBook sellers) as well as on Amazon.

Thank you for everybody who took the time to investigate the book beyond its title and read a free sample. Greater thanks to all who purchased the book as of this writing. Future thanks to any who purchase a copy into the great beyond.

Thanks for a complete experience, Sam. During our time together, you made me happy, you made me sad, you made me pleased, you made me mad. Most of all you made me; and I made you.

If our trails should ever cross again, may your life be evermore intriguing and your story evermore delightful.

And please remember, don’t feed Cactus too much alfalfa. No horse likes coming down with colic. And always stir a dash of salt into Ballou’s water. No range dog likes eating without something briny to wash it down. Clean your Sharps buffalo gun regularly. Give it a light sheen of gun oil. And don’t shoot at anything that squeals when it’s hit. Emma adores righteous living things. And you adore Emma, right? (At least, you made that impression when you met her way back in chapter one.)

And most of all, thanks for the fun!

Good luck.

Gary

Biting the Bullet

The choice is easy. The path is not.

The choice is easy. The path is not.

It seems my dilemma with River of Lost Souls has come to an important crossroads. In an earlier post (To Hatch Or Not To Hatch?) I fought with the idea that the book might have resurrected too soon, thus explaining my reluctance to bite the bullet and dive into the arduous task of preparing it for publication.

Have you ever tasted brass laced with lead? It’s not a 5-star delicacy even in an army mess hall. The lead is too soft and the brass is too tough. Irreconcilable textures aside, the taste is flat, and to swallow the lot could mean real trouble.

Try as I might, I couldn’t resolve to bite hard enough and long enough to break through the casing to get to the black powder (as if that would bring just reward for my long-suffering).

So, finally, I did the only sane thing and spit the bullet to the ground and kicked it far enough away to temp me no longer.

That was over a week ago and as of yesterday my decision to bail out continued unflinchingly steadfast.

Today, however, I experienced a revelation: But a moment of heady enlightenment it certainly was not.

River of Lost Souls isn’t a book before its time. It’s a book much too disjointed and unfocused to waste precious time on!

There, now I’ve said it. Now you know. If only you could imagine the realization’s impact on my professionalism.

What? I’ve written a complete book, 150,000 words, and it’s an abysmal failure?

Yep, pretty much. The story is schizophrenic and the focus is worse than Hubble before eyeglasses.

Pardon the hand-wringing and the pathetic whimpering. How could such a thing happen? An entire book a complete waste!

Simmer down, Gary. The book is indeed a train wreck, but at least it traveled down the tracks long enough to crash.

Huh?

Yes, debris covers the rail bed and the right-of-way, and the crash site stinks of spilled diesel and charred remains, but much of what’s left is salvageable.

Salvageable? At what cost? Do you have any idea how much work you’re talking about?

Hey, I’m your alter-ego, buster. Of course I know how much work we’re talking about. Believe me, I’ve no intention of leaving you in a lurch. I’ll be right there with you, through every change of plot, every rewrite of dialogue, through every painful moment of altering the outline, through every wretched throb of trying to piece the wreck back together again.

Yeah, but why bother? Why not toss it and write another book. In my experience, that would be immeasurably easier than rebuilding a disaster.

Because you said earlier that Javier DeSomo is a decent and well-deserving boy. And such a fine youngster should have his coming of age, should he not?

Uh, perhaps. But oh so much work.

But oh so much weakness. Is not a good book worthy of such effort?

Oh my, yes ,,, if the book turns out good. Maybe it derails again. How will I ever endure?

Quit your sniveling.  Had we not learned a few important lessons on the first draft, would we be capable of discrimination now?

I … I guess not.

Are you not partly responsible for the ideal that “Writing is Fun”?

Quit attacking me with simplicity. A rewrite of River of Lost Souls will take months.

Years if you don’t quit stalling. Buck up, Mr. Professional and take you medicine. Javier DeSomo needs to grow up and so do you. The book promises the stars and you quiver like a noodle in a boiling pot. Negativity be gone. Pick up the first piece of wreckage and analyze it. Is it broken or not? Can it be reused? If not, replace it and pick up the next. Just that simple. Writing a good, even a great book isn’t about shortcuts. It’s about recognizing what’s broken and fixing it. Here are your work gloves. Put them on. I’ll take this side of the track and you take the other. We’ll rebuild until we meet in the middle and then Javier DeSomo will have grown up with us along with him.

River of Lost Souls isn’t just about Javier’s coming of age. It’s about our coming of age too.

Pass me the pain ointment, partner. It’s time we turn left and not right.

Way To Go, Pauline

You are truly amazing!

You are truly amazing!

 

Shingles is ugly. It strikes without warning and spreads like wildfire. It itches and it burns. It irritates and it disrupts. It fosters deep despair and implants lost hope.

It is an insult to the dignity of aging.

You are truly amazing, Mom. Eighty-eight years old and still you have the grit to face the worse.

Your strength is my guide and your tenacity is my envy. I strive to someday understand the depth of your remarkable strength.

I am proud to be your son, as I am proud you are my mother.

Way to go, Pauline. You stared the worse case imaginable in the eyes and said “Be gone!” and shingles fled. You are a real fighter!

Thank you for giving me my chance in this world and thank you for all you do.

I love you, Mom. Thank you for loving me. And thank you for teaching me how to love in return.

Gary

 

And The Final Lap is History

Sweet!

Sweet!

Today Heller’s Canal crossed the finish line. I began the book sometime in 2006; and I finished it on 31 July 2013. Break out the champagne:  It only took me eight years to finish!

Now, to publish it.

I sure hope the book generates some interest.

Of course, I will keep everybody posted.

(Sure was a load of fun to write.)

Down goes the flag on the next project, River of Lost Souls — a coming of age novel about a young Mexican boy set in Trinidad, Colorado in the 1870s.

Indeed, the project promises loads of work. I have to compress 150,000+ words down to around 100,000. Further, the story needs more development, making the desired length all the more challenging.

More on River of Lost Souls soon.

Smile — Failure Doesn’t Exist

FaceOfFailure

 

 

Thomas Edison once said about his many attempts at inventing a commercially viable light bulb: “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” Source – Hyperhistory.net

Thomas Edison was the fourth most prolific inventor of all time. In his 84 years, he held 1,093 patents. He was not a man of failure, but a man of success.

Is not writing a successful book much the same? “I have not failed lo those many times at writing a successful book. I have succeeded in knowing that those books did not sell. When I have learned my craft well enough, my books will succeed” – The Successful Writer

Here is my formula for writing a successful and popular book:

Step 1: Smile while you write and believe.

Step 2:  Smile while you believe and learn.

Step 3:  Smile while you learn and apply.

Step 4:  Smile while you apply and succeed.

Let us never forget — writing is fun!

 

The Black Hole Theory

Where only meaning exists.

Where only meaning exists.

Can you imagine existing in a black hole, in such denseness that light can’t escape?

A well written thought strikes me as similar: The idea is presented in such conciseness that nothing exists but its meaning. Confusion, vagueness and misinterpretation are crushed in the strength of the presentation, conveying reality alone.

It’s a neat metaphor, one that I contemplate often when I write.

A black hole pulls in matter to never allow it to escape.

A well written thought pulls in the reader to never allow him or her to escape.

A well written book is a galaxy of black holes, where the only escape is to finish every thought.

Write with the attraction of a black hole and watch your readership expand and not contract.

Shoop!

Bang!

Title Anyone?

What's in a title other than letters?

What’s in a title other than letters?

Some people say creating a book title is hard work. I say it depends on the writer’s method.

Many writers slave over a book outline, describing every character, every chapter, and often every scene. Thus a title for them is likely tedious.

For me, the book finds its title when its concept is well grounded. Of course, a title should use certain elements, like tone, expectation and interest. But breaking the brain over what works best isn’t my idea of fun. Here’s an example: Salem Street.

But what does Salem Street say? Does it suggest a thriller, science-fiction or a romance? Maybe Salem Street is a romance, because it sounds homey and inviting.

Perhaps the writer intends a story with lots of conflict between rivaling housewives, creating the title Salem Street Witches. Here intrigue suggests witch trials, brutal judgment and burnings at the stake.

Next I offer something quirky like A Knuckle for Your Thoughts. Here we have a play on words, mimicking “A nickel for your thoughts”. In this title, the word knuckle describes the story. Maybe it refers to a man who finds boxing more appealing than running his father’s business.

What’s essential is that a title must describe the book. To me, this is important, because a misleading title is counterproductive. That’s why I create a title first, imagine the plot, outline if necessary and begin to write. Then I use it to stay focused.

Would Sweet Little Kittens describe a story about two orphaned brothers named Black who bounty hunt? Probably not. Is Clan of Black more appropriate? Probably. Point is, whether you write first and create a title, or create a title and then write, the title must serve as the backbone of the story.

With this said, a new title has suddenly popped into my head: Say No More.