writing

Booktique: Intro to an Editor

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As a writer, we often think we are in full command of our language and grammar skills. In many of those instances we are probably strong, but at the same time we’re also not experts in everything. Nor should we be… writers and editors require different tool sets and knowledge. Many of the skills overlap, but there are several differences where it’s always important to find an editor who can help you succeed as an even stronger writer. It’s also important to have someone else read your work other than early beta readers, especially if you are self-published or your publisher doesn’t handle editing.

Stay tuned for another post in the future about the different types of editing, but for now, consider editing the generic term for someone assisting you with writing your novel from style / word choice to punctuation, spelling to proofreading, and story consistency to character development. I connected with a fantastic editor about six months ago shortly after she’d read my first novel, Watching Glass Shatter: Nicki Kuzn of Booktique Editing. It’s been such a fantastic experience that I wanted to share a bit about her so others in need of editing assistance can consider a similar route.

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After publishing Watching Glass Shatter, I’d read through it over a hundred times believing I’d caught every possible proofreading, grammar, or spelling issue before it was published. After seeing a few reviews noting some issues (that I couldn’t find!), I asked Nicki to take a look for me as I was getting ready to update the final version with a few minor fixes before a huge marketing campaign. Nicki quickly read through the novel and sent back a ton of feedback. I had ~40 issues with spelling mistakes, words missing, or incorrect formatting. On top of that, she provided suggestions for improving the language and dialog, too. All her feedback was easily categorized so I knew what was a mistake versus potential issue, style option and choice, or general recommendation.

I made nearly ALL the edits and sent it back for a final review. Nicki found a few more items and really helped polish this novel — the way I should have had it when it first launched. Coming away from that process, I’d learned two things: (1) how/where I tend to make my mistakes (thanks to Nicki’s kindness and how easy it is to work with her) and (2) she was definitely getting my second book once I had a final draft for review. Nicki eventually read Father Figure in early January and worked with me through 3 revisions to finalize the version going to my publisher. She went above and beyond what we initially discussed as the focus areas and amount of time for each one. Nicki is fast, reliable, honest, friendly, and very focused. I always knew our schedule and believed we could build a great partnership in adding the finishing touches to my novel. I can’t wait to work with her again on my third book later this year.

***

If you’re in the market for an editor, or even just want to talk to one about the different types of editing or approaches she could take, I encourage you to spend some time on her website reviewing her options, testimonials, and portfolio. Then call or email her to discuss pricing… I’m confident you’ll find it fair. She’s easy to work with, but at the same time doesn’t hesitate to push back a second time when you indicate you don’t want to change something. She provides the reasons why and why not, then lets you make the decision as the content owner. I always knew when it was a required change versus a subjective one.

I also learned how to stop using so many commas… I still am heavy with them, but not as much thanks to Nicki’s guidance and basic rules. Two of the best aspects of working with Nicki include (1) an extremely reasonable price given the level of expertise and energy she brings to the table, and (2) incredibly quick turn-around time. In every round, Nicki delivered sooner than she planned — and sometimes when she’d tell me I’d have everything back in 48 hours, it would be in my mailbox after only 24 hours. It was a writer’s dream because of the efficiency and quality included in the package. You can see more on her Facebook page, link to her site or read some details below to help decide if this is the right path for you.

***

About Nicki Kuzn

I spend many hours reading. I was thinking one day (after reading a novel which was not proofed very well) that I could do this with excellent results, thus began Booktique Editing. Since I am a perfectionist, there is nothing more frustrating for me while reading to come across typos, incorrect grammar and punctuation, and incomplete sentences. It is too easy to lose your train of thought, and reading slows down for me when I have to figure out what is actually being said. Also, I am sure there is nothing more frustrating for an author to receive negative comments from reader reviews about errors in their publications. I can fix this for both the author and the reader.

I have made it my goal to ensure that any author/client of mine publishes an error-free book. I usually read a book several times before I return it to the author; I will review it again after the author has gone through my suggested changes. I check for spelling, grammar, typos, punctuation, consistency along with suggested changes to content when I feel they are warranted or necessary.

nicki

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Book Review: Scripting the Truth by T. A. Henry

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You may recall the post I shared last week on the RONE awards where Henry’s current book, Ostrich Mentality is up for an award. Or you may know her from her fantastic blog. Either case… this is definitely a book that fit into many of my reading / genre preferences. I highly recommend it for any historical fiction fans looking for witty British dialogue. Let’s get to the review…

truth

Although I’m American, I find myself drawn to lots of British literature with 20th century settings and plots. Scripting the Truth showed up on someone’s blog as a recently added book, so I had to look up more about it. That’s when I discovered the author, T.A. Henry, is also a blogger. I began following her blog and learning more about her, then decided to add a few of her books to my collection last month. I’m so glad I did… this one I started with is a wonderful novel that carried along with great ease and interest. And it came about at the right time given the topics covered in the story about the film business which is where I find myself focusing the last few weeks. But first a quick overview of the story:

Lady Margaret Leighton served in World War II administering to injured soldiers coming back for rest and treatment. She fell in love with one of the patients, but lost the opportunity to stay connected with him. After Margaret arrived home, her mother wanted to find a suitable husband while her father wanted her to work for his company. Margaret wanted nothing to do with that! She learned that the soldier she had met became an actor, which pushed her to try to become an actress (to meet him). When that didn’t work, she decided to become a scriptwriter. It all began to come together, but then it soon all fell apart. Throw in a few side stories with her best friend, Lila, her two brothers and their wives, and a couple of other characters she meets in the film business, and you’ve got a nice romantic historical drama with levity and charm.

Henry’s writing style is witty and seamless. I wouldn’t call it a classic ‘page-turner’ (as I think that’s more for suspense and thriller books), but there’s something about the story and characters that push you to read just a bit more than you planned each day — in that respect, it’s a new kind of page-turner! I read the book over two days, sitting for about an hour each time, finding myself wanting to read more but also wanting to let some of the actions and themes settle in for analysis and thought. Margaret is probably a very typical woman of her time, but she’s also got an energy and a drive that you don’t often see in people. She’s persistent and will make her re-connection to the soldier happen no matter what. But it’s the surprises life has in store for her that make this extra special.

Henry’s characters are charming. The mother is definitely not a character we’re supposed to like. She’s not awful, but there’s enough of a wall and attitude that we have good conflict for Margaret to face. The relationship with her father is charming and has both ups-and-downs, which is very typical of someone in her situation — that’s what makes the book so readable. You care just as much about her family life as you do her professional life. It’s in her professional life where we see her shine, but when her heart is broken, you feel the sadness over the loss just as much as she does.

Much of the detail in the book is very well-thought out and intricate. Given the time frames are ~70 years ago, the film business is way more complicated than an average reader probably knows, and the specifics of the war are frequently referred to, it’s obvious how much energy and effort went into researching this novel — it’s also what makes it all the more appealing for a reader when there’s something to learn but also truly transport you to the historical place and time.

Kudos to Henry for gaining a new fan with this 4.5 star book. I’m looking forward to picking up more of her work later this year. She’s even nominated for a RONE award on one of her latest pieces. Nice!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

365 Challenge: Day 153 – Routine

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Routine: a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program

hhj

A conversation recently held by someone I know:

  • Setting:
    • New York City, East Side, 12th Floor of Apartment Building, 8:30 AM
    • Living Room Couch
  • Characters:
    • Jay #1: Type A Personality, People-Pleaser
    • Jay #2: Old, Sleepy & In Need of a Vacation
    • W: Significant Other (either J1 or J2, still undetermined)
    • Ryder: almost 10-year old shiba, AKA the food whore

 

J1: OK, what’s on tap for this morning? Daily post. Check messages. Breakfast. Finish edits to Glass novel.

J2: Sleep. And shut up, I’m not ready to deal with you.

W: Did you want yogurt for breakfast?

J1: Yes, please.

J2: Grumble. Don’t speak to me. Not conscious yet.

Ryder: I’ll have some. <He jumps off the couch on W’s side, stretches on the carpet, jumps up the couch on J2’s side. J1 is in the middle trying to come up with a topic for the 365 Daily Post. >

J1: There is no yogurt for Ryder today. He needs to have a non-human food day.

J2: Shut up.

Ryder: I don’t speak with J1 anymore. Only J2.

<Yogurt arrives hand-delivered with more coffee, too.>

J1: Thank you!

J2: I need my bed.

W: Did I snore again?

Ryder: I’m waiting. <A paw reaches out and scratches J2’s leg.>

J1: I can’t decide what to write for today’s 365 Daily Challenge.

J2: Put a picture of me sleeping with a sign that says “out to bed.”

J1: I don’t need this from you.

J2: So write your post and leave me alone with my yogurt and my Ryder.

J1: What about W?

J2: He’s already done and getting ready for the gym.

J1: Don’t we have to go to the gym?

J2: Yes, you do. I don’t.

J1: How is that possible? We’re the same person.

J2: Nap time.

W: I’m going to the gym.

J1: Go for me, too?

Ryder: Um, you gonna eat that? <Paw pushes empty container across the end table to the floor.>

J1: Did you just take my yogurt?

J2: Zzzzzzzz.

Ryder: Lick, Lick, Lick. I prefer the honey flavor, not this strawberry one. Aftertaste.

W: Get your own next time. Wait, why does he have your yogurt cup?

J1: Zzzzzzzz.

J2: Zzzzzzzz.

Ryder: Zzzzzzz.

 

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Yes, this is an example of a normal Saturday morning routine in my apartment. I like routines. They are comforting. They help me keep everything moving along in the right direction. Some routines are good. Like working out. Eating yogurt. Sleeping. Some routines are bad. Like letting Ryder eat dairy.

Another thing that’s become a routine is me talking to myself as if I really am two people. It used to be a silly joke or expression I’d say every so often. Now I’m beginning to believe it’s actually true. And so while I thought the word of today might have been “prolific,” or “congratulations,” or “sleepy,” I decided to type out this morning’s conversation as best I could remember it.

Hence why today’s post is a non-routine one… instead of something witty and informative about me, you’re getting a glimpse into a guy who’s written so much fiction this week, he had little energy to dream up a routine post. Don’t yell at him too much. J1 can only handle so much stress. And J2 (that’s me, closing this one up) is not in the routine habit of cleaning up his mess.

 

RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Mama Cass @ Aspen Trees Book Review. We met online a few months ago over a few different book reviews but it quickly turned into frequent discussions on each other’s posts. For some reason, she calls me Superman and throws quiz questions at me about things I probably should know but do not. In turn, I do my best to confuse her on tricks in the WordPress world of blogging. But the honesty and depth of thought in her reviews is quite good, which is reason enough to check out her book reviews. And then peruse the entire site. Between our shared love of 80s music, the Stephanie Plum series and several TV shows, we always have fun chatting. If you have any of those in common with us, you’ll love her, too. If you’d like to learn more about her but not from me, check out what is on the site’s About Me section:
    • “I have been reading since the time I could walk.  50 years later and I read approximately 150 books a year.  I want each author to take me to a land, a time, a place of their choosing.  I am merely along for the ride.I read many different genres of books, because I love diversity, sociology and culture. So, that being said, you might find books about African American literature, books about Buddhism or Muslim, or a gay or lesbian love story.  I don’t believe in just reading what is familiar, that’s a good way to miss out. I recently started reviewing books and am happy to start blogging them. I live with my family in Colorado and we all enjoy the beautiful outdoors.  I love nature and all animals.  I believe in spirituality and diversity in all things. Enjoy cooking, hiking, bicycling and healthy living.  Learning Tajifit.  Thank you for being here.”

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

My Novel: Watching a Glass Shatter

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It’s been a few months since I mentioned anything about my first novel, Watching a Glass Shatter, which prompted me to assemble this post as a way to share its current status. As you already know about the second book, Father Figure, I wanted to reveal a little more about the first.

Watching a Glass Shatter is the story of a ~65ish widow, Olivia Glass, who receives shocking news after the unexpected death of her husband, Ben. In a letter Ben left behind as part of his will, he confesses a secret about one of their five adult sons, but fails to specifically mention which one. Wretched with anger and fear, Olivia asks the attorney to investigate Rowena Hector, the mysterious woman whom Ben names in his last communication. While the attorney searches, Olivia embarks on a journey with each son to share one final moment and connection before the secret Ben kept must be revealed, ultimately changing the face of their family’s future.

Olivia has neglected her family over the years, losing touch as each son became a man and built his own life and family. She grew too focused on her place in society and her own needs that she failed to realize how to be a good mother. When she visits with her sons, Olivia learns they’ve been keeping secrets from her, too. The journey becomes not only about accepting the decision Ben made without her years ago, but to help prevent each of her sons from destroying their own lives with the secrets they’ve kept.

Theodore, the eldest, should be taking over the family law firm, yet his focus is anywhere but on the family business. When his wife intervenes, everything could change.

Matthew’s always been the dependable son, but his struggle is one that could have long-lasting impacts on the family if Olivia can’t help him learn how to survive.

Caleb chose to abandon his family a decade earlier, unable or unwilling to share his life with those whom he once held a strong bond. Will he even return at this point?

Zachary’s given his parents the most grief over the years. Olivia berates him over how he cares for his young daughter, unaware he might be strongest of them all.

Ethan is the youngest, finishing up the final steps to becoming a doctor and falling in love for the first time. But is the pressure getting too intense for him after the loss of his father?

The novel is about the relationships between brothers, husbands and wives, parents and children. The Glass family were once a strong brood, but blood can’t always keep you together when people’s fears and desires takeover. The story is told from the viewpoint of Olivia and each of the five sons, sharing the perspective and points of view from all angles. As the secrets slowly unfold, the Glass family begins to shatter. Olivia knows it needs to be her to break down the barriers and re-assemble what was once a powerful family. But time is running out in more ways than she knows. When she meets Rowena, the final pieces of the puzzle come together, placing the decision to reveal Ben’s secret in her hands, and her hands alone. Has she learned the lesson or will she make the same mistakes again? It’s her no-nonsense sister, Diane, who helps Olivia determine the path; however, the path is one neither of them could have predicted.

____________________________________________________________________________________

My passion for this story is infinite. I lived and breathed the Glass family from September through December in 2016. It’s been through a few editing and beta reading stages in early 2017, and out with agents and publishers the last few months. I’m close to making a decision with a plan to publish the novel before the end of 2017.

If the story interests you, please check out the first three (3) chapters I’ve posted on the novel’s website:  https://theglassfamily.wordpress.com/watching-a-glass-shatter/

And tell me what you think! I’d love to hear from everyone. Thanks for reading.

 

-jay

 

About Me
I am a writer. I am currently searching for an agent and looking at independent publishing options for my first book, Watching a Glass Shatter. To see more, please check out the website for this novel where you will find the first 3 chapters, character bios and sample quotes.

I am writing my second novel, Father Figure, with plans to finish it in December, 2017. As part of the process to engage with my fans and followers, I am publishing a weekly status on the progress of this second book. For a description of this book, check out the post where my friends and followers voted for this book as my second novel.

Beyond these two books, I have a number of short stories, poems and other novels in various shapes and forms. I also read A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, Tags, Awards, Age/Genre/Book Reads and Author Spotlights, as well as the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge.

You can also access my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

365 Challenge: Day 137 – Character

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Character: (a) the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual, or (b) a person in a novel, play, or movie

character

Characters are on my mind today. In many different ways. The characters on my screen at some point changed to a whole bunch of symbols. I didn’t do anything to cause it. They just up and converted themselves. I gave the laptop screen my best sideways glance, calmly explaining that I was not taught how to read hieroglyphics. I casually mentioned if this was a message from the Writing Gods to consider a different language or story, my response would be to remind them I could close this file and start an entirely new novel, one in which they did not exist. I stepped away to pour a glass of seltzer, hoping it was just a momentary glitch. When I returned, all was back to normal. Apparently, when I speak, computers jump. I also realized I had been leaning on the touchscreen monitor when trying to adjust its angle, somehow temporarily changing the font to “MT Extra.” Word of Caution: Unless you are Robert Langdon, I wouldn’t suggest doing this to yourself.

That’s fine. I can take a practical joke. On to the writing. Have you ever argued with one of your characters? (if you’re a writer, that is… because if you’re not, I suspect you don’t have characters… but I wouldn’t know for sure as that’s what I have all the time… these characters in my head who like to start fights with me). Today was all about nicknames. I have a thing for them. I’ve been given nicknames all my life. It gets to the point where everyone now calls me something different and I just have to learn to deal with it. So I think it’s OK to have nicknames. But not everyone else does. For instance… my main character suddenly has three different nicknames. It could confuse people. Or make it easier to know who’s talking without any dialogue tags. Eh, I won’t bore you non-writers. It should be sufficient to say, we are all different characters, depending on who we happen to be socializing with at the time. And having a nickname that is different from friend to friend seems like a logical thing to me. I don’t care what my character thinks about this decision. I write. They listen. If there’s a problem, call Thursday Next to help. {Aside: She’s a literary character who fixes problems with book plots and characters in a murder mystery series by Jasper Fforde.}

Some people bring out the sultry side in me. Yes, there is one. I usually project a vanilla and plain personality, so as not to cause an uproar on the blog, but there’s more to me than just the blogger you all know. I actually can be flirtatious, seductive, sexy, alluring… fill in whatever word works for you. But then again, my characters also need these qualities, so I often need to blur the line between them and me. I’ve currently got two people on a train who suddenly get jostled together, and I need to describe the intimacy growing between them. Where do I start? Experience. But as I’m writing it, I think… wait, now that’s something I would do. Would “x” do that? Hmm… Wait, would I really do that? Fifteen minute reflection on how I’d behave on a train in public under those conditions. Anyways, I find a way to write the scene, return to edit it, then put it down for a few hours. When I re-read it, something kept telling me it was the wrong two characters for that scene… that’s fine, I’m amenable to change. I can cut/paste to a future chapter and write something for the two on the train who won’t leave me alone. Characters. Can’t live with them and can’t live without them, huh?

We all have friends like that. People who are characters, pushing and pulling us in many directions until we just don’t know what to make of them. That’s how I feel about describing myself sometimes. I’m different depending on who I’m with. I feed off the energy between us and find a way to make what exists in our little world at that moment something special. I have a friend who is absolutely hilarious when it comes to all the efforts he will go to when trying to get out of a new relationship. I’m talking after two or three dates, nothing serious. Rather than tell someone he is no longer interested, he ends it a few different ways. He will just stop responding to any texts or calls. He tells them he’s moving to North Carolina. He tells them he is entering the priesthood. But none of them are jokes. He makes it seem like it’s all serious. He’s also the same friend who leaves parties, bars or dinners without saying goodbye. He is there talking one second, says he needs to use the bathroom or is going to talk to someone else, then he sneaks out. While these are two things he does that could showcase a negative quality, he’s so amusing and fun, you always just look the other way. He makes it a fun experience, and for that, I’d call him a character.

Character can also be that moral stance you take or image you project… usually said by someone wiser… “You’ve got a lot of character.” {Aside: Yeah, I know, tell me about it. Too many to handle.} But what makes up that sense of having good character. Honor? Humility? Down-to-earth? Strong? Honest? Old-Soul? I’ve got a few of those under my belt, but I wouldn’t really consider myself as someone with strong character. Not in a negative way, but I think the word describes someone who’s had a harder life, somebody closer to the Earth… gets his/her hands dirty every day, builds things, teaches moral lessons. Not sure that’s me. I’m more the partially funny / partially nutty one who tries to find hidden meanings in things while stirring up a little bit of fun trouble.

So where am I ending up here… a few questions I’m pondering as I pick up new books, shuffle some people around and draft my own chapters:

  • Will you describe your definition of a strong character in a book?
  • What qualities make up an individual with solid character?
  • How many different characters (unique people) do you have in your life?
  • Who’s your all-time favorite character in either a book, show, movie, cartoon, etc.?
  • Have you ever tried to read hieroglyphics (AKA, this rather peculiar post)?

 

RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Avonna @ Avonna Loves Genres. As today’s post is all about characters, the connection is Avonna’s love of literature, books, genres and characters. We met five months ago on Goodreads, where we connect on tons of books with each other all the time. We have similar reading interests, as well as some differences, too. But her site is full of so many different reviews — always very detailed and analytical. I’ve picked up a few new books from her and hope I’ve shared a few good ones with her. If you love books, and you read different genres, and like reading reviews, then this is a good site for you. If you don’t believe me, check out the below blurb from her About Me section and then go visit the site yourself:
    • “I am an avid reader, reviewer and genre book lover! This site is for reviews, discussions and articles on genre books. We are all lovers of great stories, but like all readers, we have differing tastes and opinions even on the same book. That is what makes reading and reviewing interesting. I would love for you to comment on the various books reviewed and feature blogs. I will not publish a book review I would rate less than 3 stars. I hope everyone enjoys my site and reviews!”

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

My Novel: Father Figure (Week 2 – Friday, July 14th, 2017)

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Based on the votes, you chose Father Figure as the next novel I write. Last time, we kicked off the weekly updates with an introduction to the book and my accomplishments during week #1. It’s already the end of week #2, and I’m happy to report that it’s been a productive one. For a summary of the novel, scroll to the bottom of the post.

writer

Status:  Friday, July 14, 2017 – Week #2

  • I edited the chapter by chapter outline by moving a few events around, adding two additional chapters to add to the drama in the opening pages, and incorporating some key dialogue points and lines into the first ten chapters.
  • I flushed out detailed bios for the 2 main characters and 6 of the 12 supporting characters. Molly’s and Brianna’s physical descriptions have been fully detailed, as well as their relationships with each of the family members. Both women have clear goals and objectives, thus driving the story arcs where I need them to go.
  • I’ve settled on the ethnicity, race, age, sexuality and attitudes for 6 of the 12 characters. By doing this, I’ve come up with two sub-plots which will help drive the story along, as well as provide depth to the characters. I’m finding myself slightly enamored with one of these supporting characters, trying to decide her ultimate fate among a sea of options.
  • I’ve listed approximately 20 locations that will appear in the book, organized by the 3 primary cities in which the story takes place. I’m working with a few friends who know those places well enough to provide some critical backdrop details. And within those 20 locations, e.g. coffee shop in NYC, professor’s office in the university, I’ve prepared a summary of the overall look-and-feel that will be included in each setting.

 

Next Steps: Plan for Week #3

  • The remaining characters will be flushed out so that I have a 1 to 3 page detailed bio for each supporting character, depending on how frequently (s)he appears, and a 7 to 9 page bio for the 2 main characters.
  • The narrator’s voice still needs more focus. It will be third-person omniscient but I’m debating the structure of the voice, e.g. direct and clear versus amusing and fluctuating, pending which main character is the focus point. Hard things to figure out, but important before you start writing in my world.
  • Detailed timeline by date, not specific to chapter. A true list of dates and times that all the action occur so that I can ensure I’m including appropriate connection points, drama, red herrings and shocker moments. You are in for a thrill (at least I hope) with 3 really suspenseful scenes and 3 moments where the intention is for a WTF reaction of “no… that can’t happen!!!”

 

What’s on the author’s mind?

  • While I didn’t have as much time as I’d hoped to work on the novel this week, I definitely devoted a solid 10 hours to it. It’s amazing the moments of brilliance you have about a plot or a character when you find uninterrupted time to truly ponder.
  • I’ve decided to add some big diversity points into the story. I’d known in the beginning that I wanted one of them to be included, as I felt it was a major component of a character; however, as I thought about what story I’m trying to tell here, I felt it needed to play a larger role. I’m going to need to research more as a result of this decision, but I think it’s also going to make the connection deeper with readers.
  • I’m debating the father. I keep picturing a scene from Star Wars and going back to…. “Well… maybe her father really should be X instead of Y.”

Ugh, just tell me who your father is, Brianna. NOW!

 

Open Questions / Thoughts

  • I’m still working through the ending. Cliffhanger or fully tied up? I may write both and see what a few beta readers think. The way it’s planned, I’d only have to write 2 to 3 chapters differently, which is less than a week’s work for me, especially since I have both endings clearly in mind already. The response last week from everyone was split fairly evenly, so if you have any examples of good or bad cliffhanger endings in books with sequels, throw ’em out there for me to consider.
  • My first thought on the opening lines… still very much a work in progress… and more just about setting the tone:
    • “I didn’t raise no harlot, Amalia. When you’re done with school today, you will go directly to the hardware store and help your father and me manage that register.” The back of Janet Graeme’s left hand stained her daughter’s flushed cheek with a burning imprint as she pushed passed her towards the stove. The piercing whistle of the tea kettle not only took precedence over the conversation, it disguised Amalia’s unexpected hollow whimper.
    • “But Momma, all the girls from my soccer team will be at the lake. We’re just gonna go for a swim and watch the sun set. I’ll be home to help with dinner,” Amalia replied, the strain in her voice grew weaker with each of her mother’s refusals to let her be a normal kid for once. She knew it wasn’t time to give up.

Summary of Father Figure (only read if you’re new to the book)

  • Amalia Graeme, sheltered and abused for most her life in Mississippi, longs to escape her difficult family and small hometown in 1984. When her older brother returns with his best friend, Amalia is tempted to have her first experience with a boy that summer. As they head off to college for her first year and his senior year, she begins to learn about life and love, battling her loss of innocence with the attraction she’s developed to an older professor. After she suffers a few personal tragedies, Amalia is forced to head back home, uncertain how to handle the permanent impacts on her life and future. No matter where she turns, someone or something always takes away her possibility of hope.
  • Brianna Porter is desperate to discover the purpose of her life, develop confidence in who she is, accept the consequences of who she has fallen in love with, and discover her father’s identity. Set twenty years in the future in New York City, there’s a connection between these two women’s stories that is about to be discovered. As Brianna stumbles upon her mother’s old journal, she learns a shocking secret about her father, rocked by a truth that could completely change the future. It may be too late to deal with the impacts of unleashing a history that was meant to stay buried for many reasons. When it leads to someone’s death, Brianna must come to terms with the choices she’s made and what is left of her own future.

 

About Me
I am a writer. I am currently searching for an agent and looking at independent publishing options for my first book, Watching a Glass Shatter. To see more, please check out the website for this novel where you will find the first 3 chapters, character bios and sample quotes.

I am writing my second novel, Father Figure, with plans to finish it in December, 2017. As part of the process to engage with my fans and followers, I am publishing a weekly status on the progress of this second book. For a description of this book, check out the post where my friends and followers voted for this book as my second novel.

Beyond these two books, I have a number of short stories, poems and other novels in various shapes and forms. I also read A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, Tags, Awards, Age/Genre/Book Reads and Author Spotlights, as well as the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge.

You can also access my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

365 Challenge: Day 123 – Learned

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Learned: connected or involved with the pursuit of knowledge; erudite, scholarly

learned

I’ve spent my last twenty-four hours pondering the various ways in which people learn new things, subjects or topics. As a child, it’s relatively easy to find methods for learning, particularly because in most cultures you are either being schooled at home or attending public or private school. Though it certainly varies from country to country, children and young adults generally attend grammar and secondary schools until they are 18; often, it’s followed by anywhere from 2 to 8 years of undergraduate colleges and graduate universities. Sometimes you take a break, re-enroll or return for additional degrees and certifications throughout your life. Ultimately, your education is generally formulated during those first 25 years of your life before you are more than likely forced to focus on a career and/or earning money to support yourself and/or a family.

In those first 25 years, a majority of the learning process or time is directed by a teacher or professor who has done the research, or been told by the school district, department chair or board of directors what methods to use and which books to read. My point, though it can be interpreted in many different ways, is that someone else “above/before” you is driving the education you are receiving. You might have selected the school, teacher, course, or some independent study components within the overall program, but you aren’t doing a majority of the planning and decision-making on how the entire learning experience will play out. Yes, you certainly pick a lot of the things you focus on within that course or degree, but you rarely can make up a majority of the requirements for your own education. While that seems like an obvious statement, I felt the need to establish it as a baseline understanding before I chat a little bit about what’s going on in my head these days…

It’s easy to rely on someone else to set the boundaries or parameters of your learning experience. And when you let them, you are able to focus on the actual reading, research and experimenting to gain the knowledge in preparation for your future. But what happens when you’re done with your formal education and you still want to learn. What are your options? A few ideas:

  • Read books, journals and magazines
  • Find a seminar or course
  • Research via the Internet
  • Talk to people in that field

All are good options, but they require you as the individual to drive that piece of your education. If you want to learn pottery, you have to find and take a course, choose what books you want to read, travel the world to look at different artistry elements… you are left with an endless supply of information, but not always certain on how to proceed with so much at your fingertips and so little in a comprehensive overview. No longer do you have a documented itinerary or list of requirements that directs you towards gaining the knowledge you need. And for many people, that can be overwhelming. As I look at the things I’d like to accomplish in my future, I find myself thinking about who will help guide me through all the vast and open paths. While I’m confident I can navigate a big piece of the puzzle, am I really qualified or prepared to figure this out on my own?

The answer, at least for me or in my opinion, is NO. Or at least it isn’t specifically right now. Let’s take the option I’m considering for self-publishing my novel. While I continue to draft and send queries to literary agents, we all know it’s a big piece of luck and chance that will bolster my success, no matter how talented I am. And so I am excited about looking at all the options out there for self-publishing as an alternative. As I began writing my project plan over the last week, I found myself having to research topics on the Internet, talk to other writers and bloggers, look for already written summaries, etc. And it dawned on me, while there may be a class or video blog out there to help, it’s still 100% up to me to figure this out. There’s no advisor, professor, parent, boss, chairperson… whatever the appropriate person is for the field I’m looking at… and in reality, I actually first need to figure out what my educational plan is going to be before I just randomly go research it.

So… to bring some perspective back here… this post isn’t me saying “anyone have thought on self-publishing?” as I have already begun to prepare my own comprehensive plan on how to go about doing this, given all the materials at my disposal. But this post is saying… how does the rest of the world handle this? And doesn’t it seem silly that we spend so much of our early years “planning and learning,” only to find ourselves truly needing to be in a place of constant learning and growing without the right tools? Isn’t that one of the major points of life in any religion, culture or calling? To educate one’s self so that you can be a productive member of society and enhance the world for our future. But how do we do that if we end our formal learning process by 20 to 25 and leave it up to everyone to individually find time in our busy schedules to keep the momentum growing without these processes and tools.

In a way, it’s almost like suggesting we should have a “Life Skills” course that is taught by people who focus on these things day in and day out. Now that’s a job I think I would be tremendously strong at! I spend so much of my time thinking about all aspects of life, how to be a better person, how to be open-minded and fair… it seems like that we all would benefit from a regular educational experience about how to grow as people, move the world forward and become more highly intelligent beings. Many of us do this already… often inconsistently… usually on our own. But what if there were learning facilities with people (almost like the concept of a life coach) focused on helping make this a prominent component of everyone’s life. Forget about whether it’s required or optional. Start with just having something that actually offers the ability to connect and talk with other people about these things in a regular forum.

It’s along the same path as teaching life skills courses during the early years to help people have a 360 view of what the world has to offer and what we should be doing as human beings. It’s something I try to push myself to think about every day when I write the 365 Daily Challenge post. It was suggested I turn these into a book at one point, and I’m seriously wondering whether this is something that needs to be more of a focus in my life. It shouldn’t be 3 minutes of someone’s thoughts whenever they have time. I feel like maybe this should be part of a Life Skills & Learning Platform that becomes part of our post-degree or post-school educational experiences. Inclusive across the board on gardening, cooking, problem solving, genealogy, overview of sports, religion, cultures, blogging, buying a house, having a child, volunteering, car maintenance, travel planning, meditating, accepting failure, etc.

All these things have books, seminars, blogs, videos… but it’s so decentralized. No one-stop shop or place to truly have a place to turn in life to keep on that continuous educational wheel. Am I crazy? Am I just ignorant of something existing already out there? Or are there other people like me who realize we’re not placing enough importance on these things in our own life at the right frequency, and we really need to make this change? I’d love to hear what others think of this topic and how you handle it in your own life. Let’s make this one a big share everyone…

 

RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Valerie @ Valerie’s Musings. Valerie and I have been chatting for about 3 months. We first bonded over our love of cozy mystery fiction, sharing different authors and book series with one another. And when we read the same ones, we have so much fun chatting about the characters, settings and plots. We moved on to other genres and will be doing a buddy read later this month of “The Bear and the Nightingale.” But once we started chatting about general life musings between my 365 Daily Challenge posts and her focus on making positive changes in her life, we bonded over lots of great ideas and thoughts for the future. She is a very smart, friendly and open-minded woman who deserves great things in life. I look forward to her feedback and comments each week. And for those reasons, Valerie should be on your watch list, too. Go check out her site from the link above and poke around the site. Make the most out of her musings!

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.