Finally, the rain cleared and the clouds parted at sunset yesterday. We paddled around the lake, catching up to a mom and pop pair of eagles; one dipped and caught a fish bigger than any I'd caught since I'd been up at the lake in the cabin in the woods in northern Wisconsin. A yearly followed behind, begging for food that they probably didn't give him. "Find your own," mom yelled. No otters this year, but some loons dove under the silent canoe near a small island in the lake as the dull sunset burst into oranges, reds, and purples to match the changing leaves on the shoreline. You'll have to take my wife's description of the colors; I'm colorblind. A bat skillfully dipped near us to capture unnamed bugs hovering in the wake of our relatively warm bodies. Soon it was almost dark and the owls started. I do a good owl impression and had a lovely chat with a Bared (sp) owl until he realized I was also a boy. Fifteen minutes later, he had impassioned love with a cutie. They screamed like monkeys in a jungle. Then the stars revealed themselves slowly. The first one for a wish, and then they all clamored for attention. A few even fell to Earth, streaking across the sky. Finally, time to dock and for once, she didn't dump me into the cold water. "Make me a fire." She batted her eyes. I did. A glass of brandy later, she was out like a tired sled dog after the Iditarod. Some times you just have to wait out the bad to get to the good.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
No, this post is not about Archie Bell and the Drells and their signature song. It's about tightening your story. It is my #1 guideline, because, well, because (yeah, that can be tightened) most writers I critique haven't done so. I've not perfected tightening yet, but I know it doesn't happen on the first draft. Don't throw that first draft out for critiquing, put it under your pillow for a week. Gain distance from the love you have for your words. Then, after you've taken out the awkward sentences and confusing words, you might get a critique that will really help your budding piece. Following the guideline to resources that can truly help you out.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Aside from personal satisfaction, I wonder now what would be considered the threshold for success for a self-pubbed book (electronic and/or paperback). Before the onslaught of electronic and paperback self-pub options that exploded on the scene 4-6 years ago, I read that 500 sales was considered a best-seller for vanity press -- with most of those successes being cookbooks not novels. After only a two months with a published book and watching the rise and fall of rankings on various sites, I can believe 500 would be considered a best seller. 500 sales, I'm hoping so with ONE PROMISE TOO MANY and more.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
My better half has finally finished NAKED AND HUNGRY by Ashley Memory and PENELOPE AND THE BIRTHDAY CURSE by Ron D. Voigts. She enjoyed both calling Naked and Hungry an entertaining read and just the right length for a long plane ride. full of those "special" characters you'd find in any southern town. Penelope was a humorous, page-turning read that kept you guessing who the murderer is. She found it a refreshing tween read that returned her back to her younger years in spirit, but found the story enjoyed as an adult. So, there you have it from the north woods of Wisconsin. Page turners for your enjoyment.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
I see my NANOWRIMO friends getting eager to write by a slow increase in the email chatter for kick-off meetings. "Hey! Write now." They shouldn't wait; they should write all the time. Lecture over.
But, for those who don't know about the NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth, it's a month long competition to write a novel, generally considered to be 50,000 words in length, in a month. It has mutated over the years. It's as much about the journey of writing and the camaraderie of writers, along with the celebration of anything related to writing. I've participated since 2003, and even though I haven't "won" each year, I always get a good start on a new story. A MATTER OF FAITH was a 2005 winner of 68,000 words and is now a published novel, alongside ONE PROMISE TOO MANY. METEOR MAGIC got its start in 2009 and will be out in early 2012. The stirrings of an idea for this year has begun. The biggest point: I will have published two books more than Snooki.
Are you making the leap into NANO writing? Is there a book eating your brain before zombies get to it?
Posted by Rick Bylina at 11:15 PM
Friday, September 16, 2011
As comes as no surprise to anyone, I've been tweeting. I can't believe the number of writers out there in the twittervesre: wannabe writers, good writers, bad writers, writers begging you to read their masterpiece, writers wanting to help you (usually for a price), writers frustrated (stand in line), elated, cute ones, and desperate ones (buy my book or I'll kill myself). I didn't buy the book. He's still out there tweeting.
I'm this tiny voice in a vast arena with what I think is a good book, as do all authors think about their books. I guess I'll have to run naked through an airport screening in a couple of weeks when I return to North Carolina so I can get on the evening news and attract a larger audience.
So, what are you going to do to get that bigger audience?
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Me and the four Ms. Daisys returned from a Ham Hock and Blood Sausage eating marathon (I had chicken.) at Dixie's Dinner in Antigo and found both doors to the cabin locked and us keyless. So I call sister-in-law. "Oh, there's no hidden key to the cabin." I've been searching around the cabin for five minutes while the Ms. Daisys (85, 84, 83, and 78 years old) unfold themselves from the car, gather canes and walkers, and uneaten food in boxes. They're conspiraring: the usual multi-decibal chatter has dulled to the click-clicks of some African tribe that you catch on a public TV special. Eventually, the decision is made. Bust in the screen on the only window left open. After retrieving the ladder from the garage, the fight is on for the honor of making like a second-story criminal on a one-story house. All had reasons to want to go: "I'm the oldest." "I'm the youngest." "Well, I take yoga." (She bends to pick up her cane to demonstrate her flexibility.) "It's my cabin," my mother-in-law screeches, making her way with her walker from the outhouse. Thank goodness we still have the two-seater. I'm no spring chicken, but I'm up the ladder. I win. I didn't want to bend any window parts, so I work on the screen methodically while wondering how theives would get it. Finally, brut force wins. The screen pops inward, and I tumbled in through the window. The geese honk; chipmunks chatter; loons call; the heard does some weak redition of Arsenio Hall's "woo-woo." No one asks if I'm hurt.
I find the keys in the pocket of the shorts I changed out of just before we left hours ago. It is my fault, and now, I'll never be able to live it down. Too many witnesses. Unless...
How does your antagonist go about getting rid of unwanted witnesses to a crime and what's the best way for me?
Monday, September 12, 2011
I don't think writers really vacation. How can you? I'm here in the northern woods of Wisconsin. A placid lake reflects sunrise's promise of a gentle warm day when a hodag emerges from a nearby cave and devours a carelss chipmunk, chirping like a leaky faucet announcing a call to a breakfast he'll never eat. But this is a baby hodag and an eagle swoops down to carry him off for her babies, born too late in the year though they are nearly as big as she. Excuse my wandering mind.
Echo leaky sink
Old cabin groans
legacy years past
ensuring it lasts.
I really need to get some food in the cabin, but this is story, and to keep the tension high, a cannon goes off deep in the woods. I'm under attack from the boy scout camp down the road. They're actually zombie boy scouts looking for little old ladies to help across the street and chomp down on their well seasoned brains (don't get mad at me! that's what zombies do). They're in luck. Four octogenarian women are coming to visit me for five days and extol the benefits of blue hair, walkers, and favorite memories of hodags they have known. Perhaps therein lies inspiration for the next story. I guess writers really don't vacation.
And how are you falling into your next story?
Posted by Rick Bylina at 8:33 AM
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
A writing lesson this morning in trying to do too many things at once. Must write now about these feelings of having to be in two places at once. In the book, of course, there's a huge disaster. His mom gets killed, but he saves his kid. In my case, if the leaf mulch is dumped in the wrong spot, my wife kills me because we'd never get it moved in time for the Book Launch Party for my two novels, ONE PROMISE TOO MANY and A MATTER OF FAITH. The opposing event, there's a sale that ended at noon at the grocery store for Extreme Moose Tracks ice cream and the mulch guy comes at the same time as the end of the sale. Naturally, I saved the ice cream. It will be the fuel to help me move the mulch during the middle of the night. Sometimes a win-win is really a win-win.
Remember, put your protagonist in a can't win situation. It's painful, but you need the squirm factor in your novel.
Monday, September 5, 2011
What does your antagonist do on labor day? In ONE PROMISE TOO MANY, mine is executing the crime of the decade no matter what Detective Stark does. In A MATTER OF TIME, mine was planning the murder of a rich man. Just what do master criminals do on holidays? Okay, I'm stretching things here, but my power keeps going on and off for no apparent reason, and the letter "f" refuses to cooperate. I had to type that one four times.
Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez, one of the Obama girls, me. What do we have in common? All will release a book in 2012. Michele O'Bockman will call for a congressional inquiry over the Obama girl book. Nancy Pelosi will fall down a flight of stairs while reading Lady Gaga's book. Justin and Celene Dion will hook up. There I've made my predictions. Now, time to make breakfast since I can't whack weeds.
Friday, September 2, 2011
I'm in the early stages of marketing my books, "One Promise Too Many" and "A Matter of Faith". It takes up a lot of my time and energy being restrained and not overly blabbing about them on Facebook (but I'm pretty darn excited about it) or blogging each time about them (but I'm pretty darn excited about it) or shouting about them on Twitter (but I'm really darn excited about it). Well, actually, I think that's the purpose of Twitter. It's the ultimate social media where the primary purpose seems to be shouting about "me, me, me" and how clever I am, even if most of it is just bad banal blathering. Other sales avenues are slowly opening up. But the question remains...
...what do you do to ensure the rest of the world knows you have written the best book ever?