C.M. Albrecht's Weblog

This is how I see it.

Tag: Writing

Looking for Miss Write

ImageLike most writers, I understand, it took a long time for me to find a publisher who was willing to accept one of my submissions. Many won’t even look at submissions from unknown writers and a good many note that they are not presently considering new material. I did get offers, but they were patently phony. Agents and publishers alike who were willing to talk to me wanted money. Luckily, thanks to sites like Writer Beware, I was savvy enough not to spend money I didn’t have to spend. So I was really thrilled when I received my first acceptance letter. A real publisher had read part of my novel, asked for the rest and she wrote back that the rest did not disappoint her. Still living in the Dark Ages, I packed up my 80,000 word manuscript and shipped it off at no mean expense and trouble to Canada. Eventually it came back, refused by the publisher. When I wrote to ask what happened, I received an apology. The publisher assumed I knew they only dealt with electronic submissions. Okay, lesson learned. I was happy at first with being a Published Author and, although I approved the cover, I eventually came to hate it. The lack of communication that began with the paper manuscript continued. Somehow, my publisher and I continued to have little misunderstandings. Then a second manuscript, initially approved, somehow got lost. When I submitted it again, she rejected it because she had just acquired two “Cozies”.  This while my novel was a police procedural! Eventually we parted in friendly fashion with my rights reverting to me. At about that same time I submitted another novel to a different publisher who accepted it. Wow! Two acceptances at almost exactly the same time, this after years of rejection. This publisher appeared to be great and even created a really neat and appropriate cover for the book. We didn’t always agree of course. She insisted that I not use contractions in narrative. In dialog okay, but not in narrative. Being new and glad to find a publisher, I tried to go along, but eventually when I pointed out that many authors use contractions in narrative, she appeared shocked and said it had only been a suggestion. After all, I was the author. Okay, but that came a little late. Unfortunately the books began falling apart the minute people got their hands on them. The publisher did offer to replace them, and eventually she assured me the problem had been fixed. However, from there things only went downhill for her and before long, she had to go out of business. She did return my rights. Another publisher accepted a novel and she appeared to be really professional. Even assigned an editor to work with me to make my novel as perfect as possible. Unfortunately, along the way she evidently discovered that there’s a lot more money in erotic novels than in mainstream, and by the time my novel was published, there it lay, a somewhat noir, but mainstream novel tucked in among steamy erotic novels featuring nudes on the covers and positioned in a way that no one would ever notice it. She returned my rights too, and we parted company in a friendly fashion. I found another publisher. She was very cooperative and helpful and published two of my mysteries. They came out with good covers and looked good and the books didn’t fall apart, but soon she fell ill and eventually had to sell to another person who apparently knew little about the publishing business. My relationship with the new owner was spotty at best and eventually I got my rights back. Finally, at long long last my work landed on the desk of my current editor. We hit it off immediately and we’ve continued to have a good relationship ever since. She has published all these other novels from before along with new ones. At the present time I have ten novels with her and two more are being edited even as I write.  She answers my dumb questions, offers suggestions, is very helpful and cooperative in putting together great cover art, and I’m currently working on another novel which I hope she’ll like as well. From this little jeremiad, as you may surmise, finding a publisher is hard enough for anyone of course, but being able to find one with whom you’ll have a great relationship borders on being a miracle. I’m really thankful that I fell into the good graces of my current publisher. I hesitate to mention names because I don’t want her overwhelmed by writers who are looking for the same relationship I have. I’m sure she isn’t right for everyone, and that’s probably as it should be. But out there somewhere, I’m equally sure there’s a publisher who’s just right for you. If you don’t hit it off with the first one…or two, keep looking. You just have to keep looking. Just had a great idea for a new web business: Match Writer and Publisher.com “Find your Muse’s match for you.” Boy, I may be onto something here. Excuse me. I’ll finish this later.

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How not to have control

penI‘m sure most of us like to believe we’re in control of our lives, even though experience tells us we’re mistaken. It’s certainly a comforting thought to know that you’re totally in control of everyday events around you, but of course we know that’s not strictly true.

Best laid plans…etc. We’ve all had the experience of planning say, a picnic only to find it decided to rain that day. I remember one time when I confidently went out and bought an expensive stereo on the time payment plan only to be laid off my job a week later. And so it goes. It’s pretty disappointing to finally realize and admit that we don’t really have much, if any, real control over our lives.

But when it comes to writing, ahhhh. When you’re writing, you’re God are you not? You’re completely in charge. You dream up a plot or situation and start creating characters to act out their given parts and you have the option of changing any and everything you want to. Right?

Well…maybe. Maybe usually, but here too there can be exceptions.

I know some writers make detailed notes and outlines when they write, others less so and some just sit down and start writing. In my own case, I normally don’t do much if any outlining on the computer. Being primarily a mystery writer, I usually begin dreaming up a plot and creating at least some of the characters in my head and before I actually begin writing, I usually know the ending. I know who the baddie is and how to expose a murderer. But nearly all of this is bumbling around in my mind.  Once I begin in earnest I usually make a list of the characters as they come along so I can remember their names and anything else of importance about them, but that’s about all. I’m not saying it’s the best way and it’s certainly not the only way, but alas, it’s my way and I’m too old to learn new tricks. After all, I can barely use a cell phone and consistently hold the TV remote backwards. If it was a gun I’d be dead right now.

All this preamble brings me to the point of this.

After a number of stillborn attempts and misbegotten ideas I finally began to put together a plot for (hopefully) my next epic opus. It came to me complete with a title: “The Morgenstern Murders”.

I had this Morgenstern. He was one of those investment banker birds who made a killing in the big bust and quietly retired to a luxurious compound overlooking the lovely Pacific Ocean in sunny California. Naturally, because of the many people whose fortunes and sometimes, lives, were ruined due to his shenanigans, he had accrued a pile of enemies as big as his fortune.

Before long I was actually writing. Started off well. I was fully in charge. But then, about a week or so into this work, something unexpected happened.

That jerk Morgenstern didn’t want to be an unscrupulous investment banker. He wanted to play doctor. Doctor?!

Slipping completely out of my control this guy had decided to be a doctor instead of an investment banker. That meant I had to go back and add “Dr.” every time I mentioned his name. Luckily, on the computer that isn’t so difficult. And he didn’t like to be such a lowlife either. Enemies? Sure. As a doctor, he had opened several abortion clinics in the bay area and found his clinics plagued by protesters who marched daily around displaying placards. They even located his compound and began marching outside in front of his home.

Okay. I didn’t ask for that and didn’t expect it. I honestly don’t know where that came from, but there it is. Even my fictional characters come out and mess up my plans.

Now let me say right here that this isn’t a moral story. I couldn’t dream of writing a scathing philippic against abortionists, and I certainly can’t blame those who are against it. I write mysteries and don’t want anyone to think I’m trying to make a statement. Blame Dr. Morgenstern if you want to blame somebody. I don’t know how or why he decided to become a doctor and set up abortion clinics.  I certainly don‎’t have the expertise to speak for or against abortions. I’m not writing to make any judgments, and I’m not here to defend those who don’t believe in abortion and I can’t judge the doctors who perform this service. Being a male, I’ve never had occasion to consider having an abortion. Fortunately too, the possibility has never come up in my extended family. Everybody related to me already has plenty of kids and more on the way. I suppose one thing in favor of abortions would be the savings in birthday presents, but I kind of enjoy all those little birthday parties even when the cake is on the heavy side.  On the one hand, I wouldn’t advise anyone to have an abortion, but on the other hand, it’s certainly not up to the likes of me to tell women I don’t even know how they should live their lives.

I hope to get this book finished before the end of the year, and God willing, it will be available early next year and I’ll be done with the late Dr. Morgenstern. Yes, despite his change of career, he still gets whacked. (Call it fate, Kismet, destiny.) And although he isn’t really a bad guy, I’m just not that emotionally involved with him to be upset at reading of his demise.

So the takeaway here is that we’re not only not in control of our lives, but evidently we aren’t always in control of our fiction either, but I guess that isn’t all bad. Makes the whole journey more interesting and sometimes even fun.

How do Writers Write?

Over the years I learned that one of the most recurrent questions asked of writers is “How do you write?”

I know some carefully plan their books out chapter by chapter, or even scene by scene, while others take a more open approach, feeling their way along. I understand Agatha Christie carefully plotted each book, and obviously it worked for her. I’ve read that Georges Simenon, on the other hand, simply went into his study and started writing. Thirty days later he popped out with another book.

I’m sure many writers, especially hopeful, as yet unpublished writers, wonder about these things, sometimes questioning their own habits.

Most instructors will insist you establish a schedule and stick to it. Get up and start writing. I can’t argue with that advice. Jack Woodford wrote that while employed as a bank clerk, he got up at four in the morning, rain or shine, and wrote until it was time to go to work. He wanted to give his best to his writing, not to the bank.  Like Mr. Balzac I drink lots of coffee, although it probably hasn’t made my writing better or worse. As Mr. Woodford suggested: No-Doz will keep you going. Coffee will keep you going too… to the bathroom.

I thought that by addressing my own habits (?) some other writers might either take courage or on the other hand, see a pitfall to avoid.

I’ve always been a procrastinator.  I’ve never in my life been able to establish a writing schedule, and like everything in my life, I’ve always worked in fits and (often false) starts.

I’ve never been able to plan a book down to the last detail. In fact, I don’t do much planning at all. Since I write mostly mysteries, I take care to establish the killer before I start, but in between…well, here’s a typical scenario: I piddle on the computer for a while and then I have a cup of coffee and lie down on my chaise in the patio and close my eyes whilst listening to my babbling false brook. Or, sometimes I read for a while and then close my eyes.  Weeks may go by, even months, but one day an idea comes to mind and I start thinking about it, seeing possibilities. I begin to develop it more and more and may actually start writing and creating characters. I have several like that, a number of stillborn books that either linger somewhat mummified in my computer or books have already been lost to posterity.

But now and then an idea comes along begins to grow and the more I think about it, the better it seems. Where did it come from? It could be from something I saw on the news, or something I read about or heard about. I don’t know. It had been over a year — a very dry year — since my last triumph (LOL), “The Sand Bluff Murders”, and day after day I tried to think about things I might write. Just recently an idea began to form and each day I liked it more. Although I didn’t really start writing, I began to visualize it in my mind and — because it’s easier to get an acceptance from my particular publisher is I offer something as a sequel  — I turned it into a sequel to The Sand Bluff Murders and voià, The Morgenstern Murders was born. Here comes the really weird part. After such a long dry spell, I hadn’t even completely finished polishing The Morgenstern Murders when another book began to fall into place. I called it The Handyman but before I got off to a very good start, I realized the handyman was only a catalyst. The story was really about a small town deputy sheriff and it quickly changed from the Handyman to The Deputy. It should be out by July.

In the meantime, I confess, I play it by ear. I pretty much let the characters take over. That brings me back to my chaise in the patio. I’ll take a little break and lie down and close my eyes and start writing prose that would go down in history. I mean impeccable, flawless prose that rivals Shakespeare and the King James Bible.  It’s so good that no matter how tired I am, I just have to get up, go back upstairs and get to my computer. Unfortunately, by the time I get there, somehow things don’t turn out anything like they did while I lay on my back with my eyes closed.  They never do. Sad but true.

And that’s my system. When it’s going right, nothing can interrupt me. When I was working on my first published novel, “The Little Mornings”, my little spare bedroom which I had turned into my office, was invaded by my daughter, her husband and five kids, all of whom took over the office with air beds etc. This went on for a month, but I had reached a point in the book where the urge was too strong, so every day I literally climbed over air beds and, surrounded by noisy kids, kept right on going and finished the book without a ruffle.

I don’t know whether this will help anyone, or perhaps show people pitfalls to avoid, but there it is. Now that I’ve got my fingers warmed up on a hot keyboard, I can get back to writing.

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Ask David Reviews

Little ReaderWhen you get a chance, go to http://askdavid.com for interesting and helpful reviews of good books you may not have heard about. You can see some of mine too for an added bonus.

Books at the Library

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Wow, Barrie Olmstead, in charge of new books, has accepted my books in print for the shelves at the Sacramento Public Library. If anyone who reads this can get down there to check out a copy, the next move will to be ask for more, more, more. My publisher will love you and I’ll love you. Maybe even the library will love you and name a wing after you. 

Manic Readers Blog

Ivy D. Truitt was kind enough to publish this guest blog on Manic Readers http://www.manicreaders.com and I’m adding it here today. (With of course, a few subtle changes. Like most writers, I can’t even write a grocery list without several revisions and I’m still never satisfied).

I’d like to submit a few syllables on the subject of using real events and/or people in fiction as opposed to creating everything out of thin air.

Just recently I read a blog that discussed this subject and it reminded me that not too many years ago I was having difficulty with this very thing.

For a long time I had it in my dense little head that fiction, by definition, should be fiction. I strove for that to no avail. Sometimes I realized I was “borrowing” from remembered events and/or characters, etc., and worried that I might be cheating.

Eventually, reading other writers, and reading about other writers, I learned that most, if not all of them, habitually mine their memories for real-life events and people, not only to inspire them, but to give their work color and texture. Someone said of Roald Dahl to be careful what you say around him because it’ll turn up in his next book.

There is the roman à clef of course, and we know some novels are actually thinly disguised autobiographies. But most novels don’t really fall into that category — however, I think that, if a novel is properly written, the reader has an excuse for believing the work actually to be autobiographical “because it’s so real. A person couldn’t just make this stuff up.”

When I was young and innocent I discovered Raymond Chandler’s famous detective Philip Marlowe. I was entranced and, in my mind Philip Marlowe was really Raymond Chandler using a fictitious name. I imagined him to be a robust fellow about thirty years old with plenty of attitude. When I found out Mr. Chandler was in reality a rather dignified pipe-smoking university educated sixty-something year-old gentleman, and the only iron he ever packed was probably a nine-iron, I felt really deceived. Okay, I got over that. The man was writing fiction. But his locales, his characters, all were so real that it read like fact. Real places, real people. And of course that’s what fiction should do: read as a believable factual account.

In a movie or on TV, if we catch a glimpse of a mike or even its shadow, we’re jerked right out of “reality” into the realization that we’re watching a movie. If we’re reading a novel and the bad guy puts a silencer on his revolver, same thing. We know people don’t use silencers on revolvers. Every aspect from locale to characters to all the little incidentals that enter into the story have to be accurate and believable. As the author, you’re God. This is a world you’ve created and you’re supposed to know everything, at least about the story you’re telling.

I’m often inspired by real events. Maybe I see that an employee of a convenience store was killed. A robbery gone bad? Normally that’s pretty straight forward. But what if robbery wasn’t the motive, but revenge, or the work of a religious fanatic, a jealous lover, a case of mistaken identity, a stray bullet from the street, and so on. That could be the start of a book right there. In short, my favorite tool in writing is: “What If?”

I can’t help including little habits I’ve seen in real characters. In one book I’ve got a guy who says “basically” in almost every sentence. That came from a man I worked for as a kid. There are people who constantly belch at ‘leventy-five decibels. People who constantly wink or blink or yawn a great deal. There are people who turn everything a person says into a double-entendre in some way or another, people who constantly fiddle with their hair. Women who flirt to cover their insecurities and men who talk tough to hide theirs….

Sometimes, like Raymond Chandler, I name a real city with real street names and locales, and sometimes I make the city up, or simply don’t mention it by name, but, I still use a real background from somewhere in my memory, be it a house, a bedroom, a store or a train. I find I can give the entire scene a lot more realism if I clearly see the surroundings myself. Any names are of course changed to protect the innocent — or guilty — as the case may be. In my latest effort, The Sand Bluff Murders, I use both. Sand Bluff is a tiny town that was bypassed by the freeway I-5 in California. The town is fictitious, but in describing it, I have plenty of tiny towns to draw upon. And at the same time, real towns like Redding, Sacramento, Beverly Hills and San Francisco enter into the tale.

Recycling isn’t a new idea at all. How many times has Cinderella been recycled over the years and continues to be recycled today? People used to laugh at “Mr. Television” Milton Berle because of the running joke that he stole all his material. The truth is that comedians constantly recycle the same old jokes over and over; they just make a little change here, a little change there, and bingo! a new joke.

Only the other day I caught myself doing the same thing. My wife and I were talking about genealogy and I said I thought I might have a little Pawnee in my blood. She asked why and I said because my grandmother used to tell me stories about all the wonderful experiences she had with the Indians when she came across in a covered wagon. That literally popped out of my mouth. I thought, where did that come from? But then I remembered. Once — many years ago — on a game show, Peter Marshall suggested Priscilla Mullins and John Alden had some six million descendents in the United States. Immediately the late Paul Lynde burst out: “Wow! Priscilla really did come across on the Mayflower.”

I’d better stop while I’m ahead, but let me just repeat, a writer shouldn’t hesitate to use real-life experiences and real people in books or stories. A little change here and a little change there and nobody can prove a thing.

If you find anything in these comments that may help, you’ll make my day. Good reading and good writing!

Review of The Sand Bluff Murders

Here’s a neat review from Café Reads, Where books and beans are celebrated,
http:/cafereads.blogspot.uk

TUESDAY, JULY 31, 2012
Special Blend: The Sand Bluff Murders

Rating: 8/10 in Mystery/Thriller

Summary: “Newly hired officer Jonas McCleary is into his third day on the job in the tiny town of Sand Bluff —and Sand Bluff has its first murder in twenty years. Before Jonas can begin to get his feet wet, local hottie Twyla Peters is found murdered…Now, faced with two seemingly unconnected murders, McCleary is really put to the test. But the worst isn’t over.”
Provided by author

Published: Cambridge Books, 2012 (soon to be published)

Where I got it: sent to me in PDF form

More information: http://www.writewordsinc.com/

Review:
With a touch of humor and romance, The Sand Bluff Murders throws a likeable lead into a chaotic and intriguing mystery plot. As the mystery unravels, the first-person narration forges an important bond between reader and lead character, whose wit and sarcasm endear him to the reader. The writing is polished and practical. What really grabbed me was the dialogue, which captures the essence of a conversation without insulting the readers’ intelligence. Albrecht shows his skill and precision as an author when he summarizes the protagonist’s back story later in the book, rather than pummeling the reader upfront with a lengthy biography. I was also impressed with Albrecht’s pacing and chapter breaks. Albrecht clearly understands the mystery genre and has assembled his suspects, alibis and intrigues accordingly.

On the flip-side, I would have liked to see the book open in media res. Also, as a matter of personal taste, I thought some emotional stakes for the lead would have given the reader a more holistic view of his character. At times, the lead’s sarcasm makes him sound immature and less believable as a law enforcement officer, much less a detective. Some of the suspects are also underdeveloped as characters, but this is not a capital offense in mystery novels, since they are typically plot-driven.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. Albrecht has the potential to become a successful mystery writer, and The Sand Bluff Murders–with its witty narration, charming protagonist and solid mystery plot–is definitely worth the read.

Author’s Note: Clinically proven to be more effective than the other leading novels.

Why I Read What I Read

As a writer (?!? ) I constantly hear about different methods of promotion. There’s the book signing, the traveling about with a trunk full of books à la Atkins and Jacqueline Susann, there’s the shameless self-promotion and sales to your friends and neighbors à la Cloverine Salve kid peddlers. “Sell twelve cans and earn a premium.”

Some enterprising and (presumably) wealthy authors place ads in various places and others, less wealthy yet hopeful, place the work on free sites in the hope (I suppose) of building up a following.

As a published and hopeful writer who has a following that can be numbered on the fingers of a one-armed man with bad eyesight I began thinking about just what makes people buy certain books. There are those that must be read: “Catcher in the Rye”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”; stuff like that. But what about all the other books? I’ve personally read so many that I’ve completely forgotten most of them. A very few I’ve read so many times I could almost recite them from memory.

Recently I was thinking about just what it is, and has always been, that causes me to pick up a book and read it.

I came to a surprising conclusion.

I’ve never in my many years bought a book because it was “hot”. I’ve never sought out a book because I was told it was good. Okay, in high school I was forced to spend an entire semester learning “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. I failed at the time to appreciate it because Spring was in the air and we were expected to memorize long passages. I was never very good at following instructions.

So in looking back over the years I can confidently tell you exactly how and why I read the books I read, and have always read throughout my life:

I always loved to read. A slightly older uncle helped me read the comic strips in the newspaper when I was five. That was an auspicious start. My earliest reading was, well, two kinds: I loved Big Little books; I bought them when I could and traded and borrowed others. A kindly neighbor woman had a pretty good library of books, mostly Westerns as I recall, and lent some to me. The only title I remember was “Beans, Bannock and a Bed”. Comic books such as Detective Comics were just coming in, soon to kill off the Big Little books, and we loved those. Yeah, I’m that old.

Having learned about the Children’s Room at our library, I began reading fairy tales and all that stuff as well as old editions of Boy’s Life.

One day at the library, I wandered out of the Children’s Room and into the Adult Section. In those days Adult Section meant G-rated grown-up reading. I found an entire row of Charlie Chan books. Wow! That opened an entirely new world to me. I went through them all and then moved on to other detective and mystery novels. That was my first and most abiding literary love.

As time went on, I’d wander through libraries just glancing over the titles until something caught my eye. I read biographies and autobiographies; I read a horrifying autobiography about a prisoner on Devil’s Island long before “Papillon” came out. The part that horrified me was when a brute, on the ship to Cayenne, took a young man and knocked his front teeth out so the little guy could become his sex slave. It still horrifies me.

I read obscure books that probably never sold well. “Me, Detective”, stuff like that. “Why Write a Novel”. These are just titles that leap to mind as I go along. I read stuff by all sorts of writers: Mezz Mezzrow,(“Really The Blues”), people like that. Hey, this guy was way ahead of his time: Back in the thirties he had an inter-racial relationship and did coke and played sax and clarinet in clubs at night. What could be more modern than that?

Tobacco stores sold newspapers, magazines and paperback books and I often bought those, again at random. A cover would just catch my eye.

Many a time I simply found a book lying on a bench or in a waiting room, even alongside the sidewalk. I found “Hondo” on a bench. I found “First Blood” just lying in a gutter as I passed by. I found “Rosemary’s Baby” and “True Grit” in another place at the same time, but we won’t go into that. “Fools’ Parade” was another happy little find.

So the upshot of this is that I either picked up a book because something about it caught my eye, or I simply found the darn thing lying around waiting for me to come along.

Despite everything I read and hear about book signings and promotions and give-aways, etc., down deep I can’t help but feel that most people are pretty much like me: Certain sorts of books attract them, and mostly they come upon books by serendipity. Oh, I know some people do rush out and buy whatever some celebrity is pushing on all the talk shows, something written usually by a ghost, and others rush out and buy something that makes the Times best seller list, not knowing that the list is actually not very accurate at all.

I may never sell a lot of books but hey, I don’t buy a lot of books either. My latest purchases were a biography of Rasputin, and “The Island of the Day Before” by Eco. Both of these in pristine condition with dust covers and cost a buck apiece at a flea market. I’m a fan of Fowles too, and recently ran into a paperback by him. It’s in the queue to be read.

So where am I?  I’m just a guy who reads what falls into his lap, or what is readily (read cheap or freely) available and happens to catch his eye

I not only do not pay any attention to promotions or talk show book peddlers. I’ve never gone to a signing of anyone’s books and I doubt that I’ll ever hold a signing of my own. I’m not good at all in small talk to strangers and my signature is completely illegible.

Today’s bookstores are controlled by the Big Publishers so my books can’t be found in them. You have to go to an on-line site and dig like a miner during the gold rush. You may just find one if you’re very lucky. I write crime novels and everyone knows crime doesn’t pay.

What all this boils down to is that I’m no promoter but from what I realize from my own life and my choices, I’m just as happy not to be one.

Maybe someday some curious person will run into one of my books lying on a park bench and pick it up. Or maybe it will turn up on the web someplace and some kid will start reading.

That’s good enough for me.

Scenes

I was just reading a blog where a writer had a question about ending a scene in a book or story.
I have my own particular take on this. Being pretty much a self-taught writer, I can only offer things that experience has taught me. Usually the hard way. But this is what I learned.
When I read a book — if it’s any good — I don’t think I’m even aware of scene changes. I believe I learned most about scenes from watching movies over the years. Sort of a subliminal learning experience.
For instance, here’s a time-worn Hollywood scene that you’ve seen many times over the years:
The character is asked to do something. (I hate saying he/she all the time to keep up with this modern age, so we’ll assume this character is a man).
He says: “No way. No. I told you I’m retired now. I’m through with that life. I moved out here into the middle of the jungle to get away from all that. No. No way. Never again…”
There are basically two ways this almost always goes. The beautiful woman from his past (Think Eva Mendez. Well, that works for me!), gives him “that look” and…Cut! Or the ex-CIA boss give him a level stare and says, “Eva’s already there,” and…Cut!
Now you, being a prolific creator of exciting, thought-provoking prose, could have this continue for pages, but is that good?
In Hollywood when this guy gets “that look” from Ms Mendez, or hears “the intelligence” from his former CIA boss, the scene is going to cut to the star sitting in a chopper with a grim look in his eye and an AK47 in his hands.
So there it is: Make your point and then change the scene. Never drag it out a centimeter longer than it takes to make the idea clear.
One last word on this subject. If you ever hope to be a decent writer, please, for God’s sake, avoid that poor scarred and jaded ex-CIA guy who’s retired and hiding in the jungle. After what Hollywood and Ms Mendez have done to him, he couldn’t pull the trigger on his AK47 if he had to. He can’t even operate his Hoveround without adult supervision and probably needs help changing his Depends.
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Backstage in a Writer’s Den

When I was younger and had plenty of energy, I longed for the leisurely life of retirement. I would lie around doing nothing, just enjoying life. Well, Maxine or somebody said old age ain’t for sissies. She was right. Don’t even get me started on doctor appointments and daily medications. And I have less time to get things done now than when I was working full time. Take today for example.

First off, I got up and forgot to shave. I didn’t think of that until sometime later when I had to go back and remove my shirt, my glasses and my hearing aids just to get the shaving over with.

Then I noticed that the sweater I was wearing had a missing button. I remembered saving the button for later repair. I took off the sweater and went looking for the sewing kit. That took ten or fifteen minutes. I finally found the kit, but the button wasn’t in it. I spent another ten minutes looking through drawers. Finally I found the button. By then I was exhausted and had to go out and lie down on the patio for a while. That’s when I remembered I needed to water the foliage.

After a spell, I got up and began watering ,and during that time, I remembered that I’d been going to sew the button back on my sweater. I finished watering, but then I couldn’t remember where I’d placed the sewing kit.

After another ten minutes or so I found the sewing kit. I decided to do the repair job in the patio where it is comfortable and bright. However, once I got installed with my sewing kit and my button, I realized I didn’t have the sweater. I couldn’t remember where I put the thing. That took enough out of me to force me to lie back again for a while to gather my strength.

Sometimes, although completely exhausted, I get my best ideas as I lie on the lounge chair. Today some thoughts came to me about a book I’m plotting out. Once half recovered, I went back upstairs to my office and noted my thoughts on the computer. That’s when I spied my sweater lying on a chair in the office.

I grabbed the sweater and headed back to the patio. Once installed again on my lounge chair I got the sweater on my lap and opened the sewing kit. I found a spool of black thread and spent nearly ten minutes trying to thread a needle. That was so exhausting that I had to lie back and rest for fifteen minutes or so.

Finally, slightly recovered, I managed with great difficulty to get the button attached. I know it isn’t a professional job because I’ve never mastered the art of sewing on a button. But I got it attached. I never know what do to with the tail end of the thread. Knotting it isn’t much help, especially with a sweater which has as much open space as closed. Well, I hope it holds for a while.

All these efforts naturally place a great strain on one’s constitution. I lay back completely wrung out.

I think I’ll take the day off tomorrow and just lie on the patio. With any luck it’ll rain and I won’t even have to water the foliage.

Author Jay D.

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