INSPIRATION

ginn2After taking a few days break (mostly due to stumbling blocks in the story-line and a new RC car) I seem to be back on track. During the last few weeks I’ve been struggling with the sequel to White Wolf Moon. I have this nagging recurring thought that pops into my mind every time I hit a block in the writing. Do the sales justify a sequel or should I be working on another, totally different story-line?  A month or so ago I split the difference and started a second project using mostly the same characters in what would be a prequel and I’m actually quite pleased with the progress. It answers the questions that some readers have had regarding the background of the characters and gives a more serious insight into what brought about White Wolf Moon. I’m also continuing with the planned sequel which picks up two weeks after the events in the original story. This is where I seem to need a shot every now and then because it’s here that my nagging thought arises. What amazes me is that just when I’m seriously questioning which way to go, something happens to make the decision for me.

In the past few days two things have started the ideas flowing and the fingers going again. I was downtown shopping when I ran into one of the older fellas that bought my book. He told me he was on his third read-through and picking up on a lot that he’d missed, especially the hidden philosophies and song titles. He also mentioned he’d lent it to a friend and she loved it and both of them are waiting for the second book.

Then, last night, I was returning some movie rentals to our corner store. The girl behind the counter had bought White Wolf Moon about three months ago and had also lent it to friends who apparently liked it. She finally got her copy back and was reading it for a second time. We stood and chatted about it for a few minutes then I went home. Ten minutes later I received a phone call from her. Another customer had overheard our conversation and wanted to know more about the book…then decided she needed to have a copy (signed) as well.

Events like this remind me of the many comments about the book over the last five months…mostly good, mostly wanting to know more about the characters, and a lot of requests for a follow-up. I think I’d forgotten how much interest is out there and it takes a little nudge every so often to remind me that pretty much everyone that had actually read it wanted more.

What’s encouraging to me is how little it takes to get me fired up again. It tells me that I must be on the right track. I’m still playing around with a prequel…perhaps it will be the third act…I don’t know. I do know that my main goal now is finishing the sequel and I seem to have once again found that silly spark that I need to put these characters into some original and off-the-wall situations. With the first book there was a mixed reaction. The story itself is a combination of serious sixties history and modern-day situations. Most preferred the modern-day side of it (especially the character dialogue and banter) and quickly read through the serious interviews; anxious to get back to the people they’d grown to love. This is more what the sequel is about. It’s a lot lighter than the original and leans more toward humor in dialogue and scenario…although there is some drama concerning one of the main characters.

I think the big key now is that I’m back to having fun with the people in the story and the words and dialogue are coming faster than I can type.

To paraphrase a common saying…happy author, happy characters!

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66 & LOVIN’ IT!!!

I just turned sixty-six but I don’t really think too much about my age…the old philosophy you are as old as you feel rings true with me. I firmly believe what Evan says about it in my novel White Wolf Moon:

“Sure I’m physically sixty.” He touched his chest. “But in here it doesn’t count for much. When I turned sixty, fifty-nine didn’t disappear. It’ll always be part of who I am. Every year I’ve lived is buried somewhere in this battered old body which means I’m still fifty-nine, and forty and thirty and twenty…”

Another saying comes to mind although I’m not sure who wrote (or said) it:

“If you didn’t know how old you were…how old would be?”

My answer would probably be “I don’t know”. Sure there are times I’d like to be a few years younger but honestly I like now better than most of the years I have under my slightly expanded belt. A friend of mine would never admit his age and refused to accept that he was, in fact, a year older than me. This age thing bothered him so much he wouldn’t mention that he qualified for the senior’s discounts at most stores and restaurants. I remember going to a thrift store and being asked if I qualified…flattered, yes…but damn straight I qualify. Fifteen percent off? Give it to me!

hammer So now I’m sixty-six but my family knows how I feel about my age. That’s why they combined to get me the RC truck shown above. They know I have drawers full of socks and sweaters, some of them nearly as old as me, so they went into the hobby shop and got me something they knew I would enjoy. Yes I’m still a kid at heart even though various parts of rest of my body occasionally beg to differ. The truck is also the reason I haven’t been as diligent about writing my sequel or this blog over the last couple of days but hey, I’ve earned a little toy-time. I’d love to be back outside running this little mudder over the rocks, into the mud, and through what’s left of the snow in our backyard but for now I have to get on task…it’s back to the laptop.

GREEN ELEPHANTS

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I blame the school system.
When we start kindergarten we are given a blank piece of paper and a semi-complete set of battered crayons that have been in the crafts drawer for decades and bear the sweat and tears of the countless struggling five-year-old Michelangelos that have gone before you. You are encouraged to be free with your strokes and see elephants in that wildly formed green and blue blob you have created. So far so good but the very next year they give you black-line picture of an elephant and, indeed, you must stay within the lines…think inside the box. Yes you develop motor skills but along with them you learn that elephants are grey, not green. Some of us never had grey crayons and in fact became quite comfortable with having green elephants trumpeting through our expansive imagination much to the chagrin of society at large, which can only accept grey elephants. Those motor skills? Tremendous tools in the pursuit of free thought indeed, but then along comes Math, Grammar, History and other assorted clutterstuff to take up the space that green elephants once commanded. Each of them is important, no doubt, but just as important is the ability to think creatively and allow those thoughts to breathe life on canvas or the typewritten page. It is also the freethinking, green-elephant types that use their imagination to take these sciences to new levels and they do it by exercising their creativity…not by sticking to the formula.
Obviously I have carried this to the extreme and I really don’t blame the school system (that should smooth the feathers of a few distant relatives & friends). There are many young people who have continued to express themselves creatively regardless of what was thrown at them. For these artists we should all be grateful especially now that government funding for all the arts, especially in primary schools, is being cut from budgets.
I visit the followers of this blog (and the White Wolf Moon facebook page) and I see so many young authors, artists, and photographers that it gives me a certain confidence in the future of the arts. It’s in pretty good hands and I’d be willing to bet that most, if not all, of those hands once held green crayons….

HEALTH ISSUES….off topic again.

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The above photograph is all the promotion White Wolf Moon will get this time around.

I had a minor heart attack thirteen years ago although at the time nobody could convince me it was minor (just a warning shot I was told). I was pretty certain it was the end but the doctors were right and all is fine. For all these years I’ve been considered a “boring” patient in that all my test results have been “normal” and my cholesterol and blood pressure levels are static…no appreciable change…ever.

Until last week. All levels are up and, although not critical, they’re such a change from my norm it bears watching and a different medication. Doc asked me what had changed over the past few months and honestly I couldn’t come up with an answer other than I wasn’t doing my regular walks along the river and much less physical yardwork (due to winter, of course). Other than that I couldn’t think of anything. He assured me that a lot of it probably due to the lack of exercise I and should get back into something that pushed me a little.

On my drive home I went over the last few months, trying to figure out why all this had happened. I realized I have been on a computer far more lately what with the blog, sequel, and some music I’m trying to sort out but then it hit me….

The reason I have all this time to be on my butt in front of a screen is because the book shop I worked at closed. I’d spend days on my feet walking the entire store oft times carrying flats of books, sometimes banana boxes full. I’d be hopping up and down on milk crates to put books on the top shelf and I usually did the few block walk to the bank during the day. This is the exercise I’ve been missing. There were days I’d come home exhausted from the physical part of the job and now there is no part of my life that affords me that workout. It may not seem like a lot of exercise compared to someone who does a real physically demanding job (most of those guys are pretty fit) but it was a routine and now it’s gone. I’ve known so many people who retire and within a year or two health issues creep in, most gain weight (which I also have done), and a few have had serious heart attacks, one fatal.

The snow is starting to melt, we actually have grass in both yards, so I’ll soon be back to my walks along the river but I’ve also started going up and down the basement stairs for no other reason than they’re there. The first couple of times I could only do it three times without feeling pretty dragged out. That was two weeks ago. I just did it seven times and although I’m huffing a bit I figure I could go another couple of climbs but I don’t want to push it too much yet.

Besides it was on one of my climbs that I came up with the idea for this blog.

I also started a water regiment a week ago. A friend of mine suggested it and damned if it doesn’t seem to work although it might be a combined effect with the exercise as well. Simply I wake up in the morning and before my coffee and cereal (or toast) I down two glasses of water, again really tough the first few times. Before lunch and supper I drink one more glass and another one sometime between supper and bed-time. I don’t know if it’s psychological but I seem to be less tired and feeling a bit better about things in general but whatever it is…it’s good.

Anyway my little rant, such as it is, is done and it’s time to get back to work on my sequel….

 

HOUSEPLANTS…a touch off-topic.

Another deviation from my White Wolf Moon promotion (buy my book)….

plants

One of those little maintenance chores that falls within the realm of responsibility for the retired guy who’s working on a sequel is watering the plants. I tend to do this when the talk show about girls who leave their boyfriends for the husband of their girlfriend’s recently divorced mother’s best friend comes on. I have trouble believing that they could find four couples who have this situation in common.

Watering plants requires some forethought as well as polite conversation. You have to know which need a soak and which need a squirt because if you soak the ones that need a squirt they’ll dump potting mud all over the carpet. This is why you never vacuum before watering.

Talking fondly to most plants helps them to grow big and be happy. Of course they don’t actually understand you…they just respond to the tone in your voice. You can call them any nasty name you like as long as you smile when you say it.

They also like music.

Other than the Norfolk Pine, who’s a big Willie Nelson fan, most of our plants seem to prefer that good old rock ‘n roll. They don’t much like rap except for the Philodendron but he’s a little weird to begin with. He’s supposed to be a split-leaf but he suffers from indecisiveness. If there’s such a thing as latent schizophrenic tendencies in the plant kingdom, he’s got ’em.

Some plants require stress in order to bloom, like our Lipstick plant. I tell the Umbrella plant that floor plants are the superior flora and that those hanging things are a waste of good chlorophyll, making sure that the Lipstick is in earshot. When I’m watering the plants I pretend to forget about the Lipstick and late at night I creep up underneath it, yank on the macramé hanger and yell “Ding Dong!” It works. Our Lipstick plant is usually covered with blooms. Of course every time the doorbell rings it loses a few…

Our plants get cleaned with a chunk of sheep’s wool. The lanolin in the wool removes dust and brings out a lustrous sheen. I’m not sure how it does this. I don’t ever recall seeing a shiny sheep and, in fact, most of ’em were pretty dusty.

A final shot with the mister and, except for scaring the Lipstick, my gardening’s done.

Coffee ‘n cookie time. Thankfully the talk show is over but now it’s a soap. As I reach for the remote Doctor Max looks up from his desk to find Nurse Patti. She’s been standing there almost out of uniform for the last three days and the poor little thing is getting goosebumps.

She’s not the only one.

Why do I do this to myself?

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My book-life seems to be fraught with dilemma lately and I find myself asking “Why am I doing this?” If it’s just because I have something to say there’s always the letters to the editor…and it’s certainly not about the money.

I’m happy with the way the $3.99 downloads are working but lately I’ve been checking out bookstores that might stock White Wolf Moon hard copies. Most are quite willing to put it on their shelves but at a 40% consignment fee. My books (including shipping) cost me about $14.00 apiece. The suggested list from those in the know is $27.99 ($28.00 since we lost the penny) but having worked in a bookstore for many years I know that’s too high a price, especially for a first-time author/title. Most trade-size novels hover around the $20 mark so that’s where I chose to price mine. I had a deal with the store where I worked and made a few bucks through them but since it closed I have to find at least one new outlet. Obviously losing 40% off the top of a $20 book isn’t workable and while I do believe I’ve sold more at that price than I would have at $28, I obviously have to rethink my pricing.

But again, why do I do this?

Someone got in touch with me yesterday and asked if I could sell her another copy of the book for a birthday present. Silly question, of course I could. I hand delivered it to her at her place of employment and basked in the praise she piled on me in front of everyone there. She told me how much she laughed and how much she identified with those ‘crazy people’ in the story. She even came around the counter and gave me a hug. I signed the new copy to her sister-in-law then took a quick look around the room and realized that seven people were sitting and smiling at me. Seven new people had just heard about my book and from a satisfied reader, not from me. A few of them waved and said good-bye as I left and I realized that this is one of the main reasons I do this. Yes it’s an ego thing but hey, my boat’s afloat.

Whether it be painting, writing, sculpture, pottery, photography…any of those self-satisfying pursuits…it’s all about the doing, the passion, and the love of creation. When other people share our creation and appreciate what we’ve done there’s a warm feeling of acceptance that is pretty hard to explain.

I do what I do for the same reason that anyone who takes up a creative endeavor that is unlikely to reap huge monetary rewards does.

I love it. It’s as simple as that.

PREQUEL or SEQUEL?

blogsignI have been rather lax in keeping on top this blog due to foreseen circumstances. I started out writing the sequel to White Wolf Moon but I decided to do a “real time” chapter that takes the reader back to the music scene in Edmonton, Alberta, in the mid-sixties. This introduces the characters as they were and lays out the events that created their current day situations. From the beginning I wasn’t sure how I could work this chapter into the sequel but it was so easy to write that it came together quickly and now I’m kicking around a few more chapter ideas. It was also fun to reminisce. I was involved in that business back then. I worked in radio and I’d also recorded my fair share of music demo tapes and a couple of records so I know the people, places, and how things were. This would obviously be considered the prequel.

The sequel is moving along just as easily. I feel good about what I’ve done with it so far.  It responds to comments and questions that I have received from readers of White Wolf Moon. They want to know more about certain characters and events. I have addressed all of their questions and expanded on the relationships and situations they have asked about.

Here’s my dilemma. The prequel explains a lot about the central characters that, unless you have read White Wolf Moon, you might not pick up in a sequel. The sequel also rounds out the modern day story in regards to characters that aren’t in the prequel (two of which are the most commented on). This has me considering combining the two in one book as two different yet related stories…both prequel and sequel in one binding.

I’ve never heard of anyone doing this, which, of course, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

I’ve also considered doing the prequel as short stories, each one concentrating on just the background pertinent to events in the new storyline but I feel this might be a bit confusing and probably not as easy a read.

So this is my explanation for not being on the blogs lately. At this point I’m treating both storylines as two separate novels which they easily could be, except I have no intention of doing a trilogy.

But then who knows where this will lead?