COMFORT ZONE….

“Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” is online. Another chapter in my writing life has closed and it’s time to start anew. While there is still a lot of work to do with getting some exposure and working a bit of marketing I can’t bring myself to not have a Word document open. I have to be working on something and my read-through of the Kindle version of “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” provided me with another storyline. It involves some of the ‘walk-on’ characters from one of the scenes.

Being ‘walk-ons’ in no way diminished their importance to the storyline. The roles they played, while not central figures, provided insight into the main characters and created some interesting scenes. One character in particular made his appearance early in the book, created a little havoc then disappeared. The more I thought about this man the more I realized there is a story behind who and what he is and how he got there. I decided to flesh out his story and it came surprisingly easy.

Unless you have read “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” the name Fergus Lloyd would mean nothing. If you have read it then you already have an opinion of Fergus and what he is all about. As in reality and with real people an opinion based on first impression is often wrong. The well-spoken, well-dressed banker might have some questionable material on his computer and that street person might have a heart of gold. You just never know what’s behind their public faces. Fergus wasn’t always the Fergus that confronted Evan and exploring his life has provided some interesting research and excitingly addictive writing.

From the outset of the first draft I had to expand my comfort zone. I prefer to write light and with a sometimes questionable sense of humor and while there are some lighter moments in this story there is also an underlying darkness. This was a challenge for me and a welcome brain-teaser. Then came the scene that I believed would be the pivotal point of the story. Without getting into detail the young boy discovers something horrific in the woods and all his childhood nightmares come back and…never mind. I’ve already said too much.

Suffice to say that this scene completely ripped me out of my comfort zone and threw me headfirst into the horror/psychological terror genre, one that I’ve never explored. Blood, gore, and childhood nightmares wreak havoc with my usual style of writing and way of thinking. After I wrote it I would wake at night and think about it. Each time I rehashed it in my mind I became less impressed. It sounded forced, manipulative, and not at all like me. A week later I wrote an alternate scene where someone else stumbles on the terror and relays it second hand in a more sterile manner. I was more at ease with the revision and I sentenced the original storyline to life in my ‘not used’ folder and continued writing.

One of the elements of writing a story based on a previously introduced character is maintaining continuity with the original. That wasn’t all that difficult in this case but as the new story progressed I realized that I was missing something. The emotional development (or destruction) of this character wasn’t strong enough to result in the character traits featured in “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon”. The crisis, real or imagined, that set him on my created path hadn’t occurred. I opened up my ‘not used’ file, read the original scene and knew that it had to be included. I also learned the value of putting something aside and revisiting it later. I actually like what I wrote back then and with a little work it will become that pivotal scene. It just goes to show the value of never throwing anything away.

On a side note: My age is showing…I welcomed my seventh grandchild into this world on September 3, 2015. Mum and son are doing well.

Shameless self-promotion side note: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0143ZI4W8?ref_=pe_1724030_132998070

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FINALLY!

It’s been a learning exercise but finally “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” is online at Amazon.

The delays have been my fault. From writing the manuscript in the wrong (old, really old) Word program to not having all my ducks in a row when it came to actually uploading, I’ve made a few mistakes. I’ve successfully stumbled through them all and now I know better for the next time.

The process is actually quite easy and with this first step out of the way I’m looking forward to getting involved in the other Amazon programs but for now I’m taking a bit of a break and enjoying seeing that second title on my Author page. There’s an excitement surrounding me that I haven’t felt since I first googled “White Wolf Moon” and saw it listed around the world or since I opened that first box of hardcovers delivered to my front door.

So much has been learned but there’s so much more to go before I finish this journey.

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http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0143TGT58?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

In this sequel to “White Wolf Moon”* the usual suspects are at it again. Evan Morris and Danny Mann feature prominently in one misadventure after another. Evan’s confrontation with a rifle-toting hillbilly while researching the background of his wolfdog sets off a week packed with uncharacteristic behavior for the sixty-something ex-folk singer, from vandalizing a teen-ager’s car to a brush with the law in Edmonton, Alberta. These needed and oft times comedic contrasts to his staid life are overshadowed by the death of another former band member from the Sixties.

At the celebration of life “muck-up” Evan grapples with thoughts of a life that might have been and treads a trail of rediscovery with more questions than answers.

“Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” is about relationships and friendships that last forever, old rock and roll bands, a musician’s life on the road, and wolfdogs. It’s about finding that balance between what was and what is and realizing that it’s what we’ve done that makes us what we are.

*Every effort has been made to allow this work to stand alone. The chapter “Jenn’s Story” briefly recounts the contents of the first novel and any references to that first book have been clarified in the narrative or dialogue.

REKINDLING THE DEKINDLED

It’s been two years since I’ve read White Wolf Moon from beginning to end. Occasionally I’ve had to go back and read selected passages to ensure I don’t contradict anything with the new book but generally I haven’t spent a lot of time with the original story.

For reasons that will hopefully soon become clear I have spent the last five days going over that old story word by word and finding a few minor things that I had missed. Fortunately there weren’t that many. When I finally finished the read-through a light came on. I realized why I’ve been having some issues with the new story. It’s all about flow and while White Wolf Moon was a veritable stew of different thoughts, approaches, and styles it came together nicely. This one hasn’t.

I’ve known for a while that something was wrong or missing but it took going back and starting over at page one of WWM to make me understand what it was. I wanted the second book, although a sequel, to be able to stand alone which required that an introduction to the characters and basic story-line of the first book be included. I’m pleased with how I managed to accomplish this but upon re-reading the original story I realized that the bond between the characters wasn’t as evident as it should be this time around. I also noticed that while I prefer to let the characters and dialogue drive the story line I used far more narrative in the first book than I have in the second. The narrative is what gave it the flow and that flow was missing in what I’m writing now.

I think this demonstrates my previous post about occasionally “going back” and starting over. The process of getting a book out there is one of learning and I learned so much over those two years. While I appreciate and will utilize this knowledge it’s important to look at writing the way I did back then and see it through less educated eyes.

For me White Wolf Moon was magic, from writing that first rough draft to holding that finished hardcover in my hands. It was fresh, new, and exciting. Going back through it has rekindled that magic and I’ve found myself spending up to ten hours a day at the laptop rereading the old and reworking the new. I also find myself exhausted by the end of the day (which goes by all too quickly) but it’s a good exhaustion.

Two years ago, in my delusionary euphoric state after the initial publication, I decided I should make this a trilogy. I have since reversed that decision. While a few Ginn fans might be upset, I’ve decided that after this I want to move into another area although I’m not yet certain what that will be. There’s still a lot to be done on my current project but it’s not looking as formidable as it did a week ago.

The magic is back.251794_114200048731938_327331232_n

 

BACK TO BUSINESS…finally!

A big thank-you to author J.P. McLean for including me in her blog hop.  As much as I would love to continue the process I have hit a bit of a snag and, for various reasons, it appears I am to be the last twig on this branch. It’s unfortunate because this seems to be an easy way to introduce new authors and their work to a wider audience. Following are my responses to the supplied questions. While this breaks the format of the blog hop I invite any author to introduce themselves and provide a link to their blog in the comments after my post. Perhaps in some way this will also spread the word?

BIO:

I was born at Fort George, Scotland, in 1947, moving to Canada with my family in 1955. As an army brat I spent a decade in various locations across the country finally settling in Edmonton, Alberta, in 1964. With careers in radio broadcasting, advertising, and photography under my belt I moved to Kamloops, British Columbia, in 1994. I’m an organized hoarder with a roomful of toys/collectibles, music/movies, and books…lots of books. I watch, read, and listen to most genres depending on my mood. I’m married with three children, six grandchildren, two cats, and a rabbit.

1) What am I working on? Three things…one is an idea that came to me in a bizarre dream, another is a clean-up and compilation of poems and short prose I have written since high school, and finally the sequel to my first published book “White Wolf Moon”. That first book was easy as most of the elements and characters were fact-based thus little research was required but the sequel has been a chore. WWM also had an underlying thread throughout but the sequel hasn’t and by early critiques that seems to be a problem. I have the material but it needs a commonality other than the characters. That’s my stumbling block at the moment…the rest of the elements are all there and just waiting for a tie to bind them.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? I’m not sure I can answer this. It is what it is and it’s more of a character study than anything else. The characters and the dialogue drive the storyline and any narrative (other than internally from the characters) is minimal. “White Wolf Moon” was a combination of light dialogue and a heavier historically-based narrative about the Sixties. A journalism student’s ongoing interview with an old “hippie” was the glue that held it all together. While the semi-fictional dialogue careened from one off-beat topic to another the interviews dealt with war, assassinations, riots, and the not-quite-so-lovely side of the Summer of Love. Perhaps this blending of fact and factual-fiction is what makes it different?

3) Why do I write what I do? The original idea for “White Wolf Moon” was more of a personal diary with no intent to publish. I sent copies to a few of the people that were mentioned in my work and they all thought that with name changes, it should be published. The real life “Danny” even fronted me the money to accomplish this. The sequel is being written for the number of readers that wanted to learn more about the relationships and quirks of the people in the story plus answer a few questions that I hadn’t realized I’d left unanswered.

4) How does my writing process work? Ah there’s the rub…the process. I write when the urge strikes me. I tried setting aside a certain time and place but this doesn’t work as well for me as running into the house and jotting down a wandering thought that camped in my head while I was weeding the garden. I also tried setting daily word count goals but I soon discovered that the quantity isn’t as important as the quality of however many words I manage to get done in a sitting. I have a digital recorder that I carry with me so that if an idea does pop into my head I can dictate it to myself. Sometimes it’s as simple as describing a person walking on the sidewalk in front of me that might make an interesting sideline character. I have occasionally recorded other people’s conversations because they have an interesting speech pattern that I might be able to give to one of my characters. I find that the time I spend observing people and places is as valuable as the actual sit down and type time.

Once again thanks to J.P. Mclean for considering me. Over the past two years she has helped me understand this whole publishing game and is a supportive shoulder when needed. You can find out all about her books here: http://www.jpmclean.net

And for those that have been following my other activities over the last while…my backyard-deck is finally done! After mixing, pouring, leveling then sealing/painting the shattered concrete I built a deck over top of it all. I can now finally get back to the business of writing, blogging, and relaxing a little.DECK2

Have a great week folks!

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!

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WordPress just congratulated me on my first anniversary with this blog. It seems longer than that somehow although I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s that I relate this to the release of “White Wolf Moon” and the process of getting the book into print took much longer than I had expected (it’s the old first-time learning experience thing). It seems like I have been living with that book forever but it too has only been out there for a year.

I remember when Friesen Press first suggested I have a blog. Panic and uncertainty set in but they dragged me backwards, kicking and screaming into this new world. This was the first promotional avenue to be traveled outside of my comfort zone. I’d already set up WWM on facebook but having a few years of experience with my personal page I was at least venturing into familiar territory…this blogging thing was uncharted terrain.

You’d think that after a year I’d have a handle on what I’m doing. I don’t.

Initially this blog was to be a “buy my book” vehicle but you can only say that so many times and in so many ways before it becomes hack ‘n crass. I started venturing “off-topic” and was pleasantly surprised at the positive reaction. A facebook friend (whom I have never met) has a wildlife/photography page and she rarely strays from that topic but she elected to voice an opinion on the current political situation in her country, America. Some people were downright rude with name-calling and the like and many ‘de-friended’ her. How dare she!! This wasn’t what they’d come to expect from her.

Rightly so she stood her ground. This is, after all, HER page and she can do with it whatever she wants.

Here is part of my long-winded comment on her page: “Living in Canada I’m in no position to really comment on the political climate or actions in the U.S. and will never do so but to those who are taking **** to task for the content on HER page…she, like all of us and like life, is more than a singular issue. I love the photography and stories but I will always read her opinions on those other issues. Some of them are admittedly pretty foreign to me but I respect her right and congratulate her on taking such an honest position…so few people do that these days. These ‘drifts’ from the expected content don’t take anything away from the great work she’s doing. I have a blog to promote a book I have written but I will on occasion use the forum to rant about the wolf situation or music, dust bunnies…whatever. It’s my blog and I can do with it what I wish and I have never had a complaint about anything I have written. I know some of my readers skip by those posts that they don’t find of interest and that’s their prerogative…I can’t please everybody all the time.”

Within twenty-four hours she had over 150 comments echoing what I had said.

I’ve tried to analyze what piques most readers interest but other than one (my post on ‘real book people’ that garnered 86 views in one day) most of my blogs seem to be quite balanced as to the number of hits, regardless of the topic. I think this is good?

Whatever…it’s still a learning experience. I’ve said my piece. Now it’s time to move on.

Like the sudden resurgence in downloads of “White Wolf Moon”, this blog anniversary is one of those little things that makes me feel good. The first book has far exceeded my expectations. This raises my spirits as I plow through finishing the second.

If all goes well with a little painting/restoration project I hope to finish up this afternoon, my next blog will also be off-topic. This one will be about thrift-shops and looking beyond the surface.

Having said all that…buy my book!

REAL PEOPLE

Of all the comments I’ve received for “White Wolf Moon” a couple stand out above the others. One is about the dialogue. Most people that have read it appreciate the natural if sometimes scattered flow of the speech. Some tell me they sometimes found it difficult to follow but also admitted they felt they were eavesdropping on actual conversations. Their point is well-taken and while I’ve been involved in many real conversations that have been difficult to follow I have addressed this issue in the sequel. I do understand that because it flows in my head doesn’t necessarily mean it will be just as smooth for the reader. One of many lessons you learn when you get that first book published.

The other comment that stands out is that the characters feel like real people. This remark means the most to me. The fact that my people are based on actual friends from that era obviously makes them real to me but to realize that I have translated that reality for a reader is gratifying.

Today I find myself wondering…what is ‘real people’?

Those that have read “White Wolf Moon” know my feelings on the ‘real world’.

To me there isn’t an all-encompassing real world, only how you perceive your little corner of it. I learned a long time ago that anyone who says “welcome to the real world” is simply welcoming me to their world and generally I find their opinions or philosophies have no bearing on my life.

Now I wonder…is it the same with people?

To me real people present no facades. They have no agenda. Simply, what you see is what you get. They’re not hung up with the trappings of well-to-do-idness. There’s an inherent and perhaps indescribable quality about them. They have opinions and they don’t mind sharing them…not preaching them but sharing them. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don’t but that’s not what’s important. The important thing is that we’re discussing issues in an equal forum.

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I’m approaching seventy so I spent a few my early years in that sixties lifestyle. I wasn’t totally ensconced but I developed a lot of the attitude that people associate with the “Love Generation”. I worked in radio broadcasting at the time so it was okay for me to grow a little hair, in fact it was almost expected. My circle of friends (the characters in WWM) had a great little week-end getaway spot in the hills where we lived a beautiful part-time existence. We called it the “Bar Ass” ranch. Those who have read White Wolf Moon know all about this place as it, along with a few of our exploits, has been documented in the book. Yes I now admit there’s a lot more fact in that fiction than I previously acknowledged. It was this environment that provided the nucleus for what would become my life philosophy. There in those woods, surrounded by and appreciating nature and long before cell phones and laptops, we were cut off from the world. People were appreciated as people, not for what they had or what they brought to the table. Even if it was only a few weekends a month, it was invigorating in a peaceful sort of way.

My point is that this was my real world back then and those people were the real folks that populated my planet and some of them still do.

Maybe this is the key. Those living in the entitlement world of today might consider anyone who agrees with their philosophies as being real people while those I consider to be real people exist in a world similar to mine. We share a common outlook on the world in general…I identify with them and they identify with me.

But now comes the fly in the butter. Initially I thought, based on the age of those who appreciated the references in my book, that the more mature reader would be my reader…those who had lived through those times and could relate. I’m finding it interesting that the people I’ve met recently who have read the book and identified with the characters tend to be people I feel comfortable around and yet they don’t fit neatly into any age group or social status.

Perhaps my theory that real worlds and real people go hand in hand is wrong, I don’t know.

Perhaps real people are just where you find them…if you take the time to look.

 

 

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

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It has been a rough month for writing the sequel to “White Wolf Moon”. Another three sales this past week have given me a little boost but the frustration of being unable to put new words down became…well…frustrating. I haven’t neglected the sequel, far from it. I have my time-line of events to be included in this book but not the wherewithal to flesh them out. Life just kind of got in the way. The past month has not been wasted though. I’ve been tweaking previously written chapters, smoothing and polishing dialogue and quite enjoying that process.

I write scenes as they come into my head and sometimes they aren’t necessarily in chronological order so what I’m working on now is like a series of scripts for a half-hour sitcom when it should be a made-for-television movie. Each part stands alone and just needs to be tied together in a cohesive presentation which shouldn’t be all that difficult but until a few days ago had been. Now comes the reason for this blog.

When should the title of whatever you are writing be established? Should you come up with a title first or somewhere in the middle of the process? Perhaps when the draft is completed is when you should give it a name.

I’ve always referred to this as “the sequel” and in doing so I always have snippets of the original book in mind. This may seem appropriate and shouldn’t be a problem but what I’m writing now is quite different from the original. The same characters, yes, but the leaning (while still following the same format) is more in-depth with regards to the characters and explores relationships and scenarios in greater detail than “White Wolf Moon”.

Last week I forced myself to come up with the working title “Of Old Men…(& Wolves)” and something wonderful happened.

I sat down at the laptop, read the title a few times and realized that within those words a theme simmered. As rough as it is that title gave me the boot I’ve needed. Three scenes and 4,800 new words later things are beginning to roll again. I’ve also managed to seamlessly stitch earlier elements together…all because of a working title.

Or is it?

Now, instead of opening a “White Wolf Moon 2” file, I click on “Of Old Men”. The page that appears on my screen has a new ‘feel’ about it. It’s like the whole process is starting again, now…today. I’m looking at what I’ve already written with different eyes and approaching the new material with a fresh attitude.

It’s also time for me to spend some money and renew my publishing commitment with Friesen Press. Up until a few days ago I was questioning whether or not I should. Sales are scattered and come in waves, tiny waves mind you. As I said at the outset three new recent sales have made the decision for me. It’s slow and relatively steady but without that distribution it would be non-existent and there’s always the chance that the book will find a little niche and catch on. The dream is still there, the one that prompted me to self-publish in the first place.

Regardless of how any of this turns out I am pleased with what I’ve done. I certainly would like a bit more success but I’m content with what has happened. I won’t be one of those people who says “I’d like to write a book.” but didn’t. I’m going to be one of those people that did…twice.