Monthly Archives: May 2014

Sneak peek at novel in progress.

This is an excerpt from chapter seven of my e-novel “Silent Murder” that takes place in 1927. Chet and Eveleen are husband and wife; he a screenwriter at Paramount, she a supporting actress. Pat is another screenwriter that Chet has agreed to work with, though doubts Pat will get to work on it. There has to this point been two murders that may have been connected.

This is the third book featuring Chet and Evelyn, but only the second involving a murder mystery. 

The selection is a rough draft. What I am attempting in this scene is to show a character, rather than tell. A character’s action and description should indicate what type of person he is. Let me know if this works for you:

 

After introductions were made Eveleen got Pat a plate, which he piled high with what I had hoped was going to be my heaping plate of spaghetti, leaving me less than I expected, and less than I wanted, and after taking two pieces of garlic bread, leaving Eveleen and I with one each, I realized I could never work with this guy. I thought about stabbing his hand holding the fork which he twisted the spaghetti around on, but Eveleen sensing my food rage, gently patted, then held my hand. I glanced at her and seeing the look in her eyes, I gave up murderous thoughts and ate what was left of the spaghetti.

I noticed when Pat sat down his shoes were dirty, his pants and coat looked wrinkled, and when he took off his hat, his hair looked dirty and matted. He also had the smell of cheap booze.

I asked Pat how he was progressing with our screenplay, but his mouth was full, actually bulging with spaghetti and he could only murmur and nod his head up and down, so I assumed he was indicating things were going well.

Eveleen poured some wine for Pat and I sipped from my glass, while he grabbed his glass and took a good swallow, still with food in his mouth. Miraculously nothing spilled out, though his chin was red from the sauce.

Finally, like a man’s head submerged in water that reemerges gasping for air, Pat took a deep breath and slowly let the air out, letting fork-rounded piles of spaghetti work slowly down his throat, while he took another gulp of wine, then snatched his garlic bread and took a big bite.

Despite having more food on his plate then Eveleen and me, he finished when Evy and I were half done. He gave a contented sigh, looked around and saw a pie on the counter.

“Eveleen, that was wonderful. You continue to eat while I help myself to some pie.”

He got up, grabbed a nearby knife and cut a slice of apple pie, opened cupboards until he found a plate and sat down again. Naturally his slice was about a quarter of the pie.

I figured there was no point in talking while he shoveled a huge chunk into his mouth, moved it to the side of the mouth like a tobacco plug and asked if we had ice cream to go with the pie. After learning we had none, sighing as he shook his head, he attacked more pie. He finished about the time Eveleen and I were done with our spaghetti.

She cut me a slice of pie and herself one, then as we sat down, Pat got up and carved out another huge slice, sat down and engorged his mouth again. He reminded me of my old friend Charlie Faust, my teammate on the 1911 Giants. He ate food with as much relish and gusto as Pat, but with apple pie, a daily meal for Charlie, he ate with slow, sensual, delight.

When Pat finished his meal and burped quietly, the first thing he said was not thank you to Eveleen, but that Elmer Bishop, a sound technician at Columbia was found murdered on a stage at the studio.

 

The first time Chet and Eveleen meet they are in New York 1911 in “Loonies in the Dugout.” It is based on a true story and is a satire on fame and celebrity. The second book is “Loonies in Hollywood,” set in 1922, and is based on the true life murder of silent film director William Desmond Taylor. The case remains unsolved, though in my fictional account, Chet does discover who killed Taylor.

Here is a link to my Amazon page.  http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

 

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How sitting kills writers and what to do about it.

Writers sit in front of their computer and type, type, type, at least they should, because writing requires sitting. But sitting for more than three straight hours can kill you.

How?

It lowers your metabolism, making it more difficult to burn away calories. Writing without exercise leads to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems and of course obesity. And consider eating while you write; cookies, or snacking on potato chips, drinking a coke, all of which, by the way, sounds like fun eating to me, but will turn your tummy to blubber while writing. Read what Dr. Hamilton has to say.

As I have stated before, I like to drink two to four cups of Oolong tea in the morning with a light breakfast before writing. But if it is a good day and the hours flow by being caught up in the chapter I am working on, hunger is appeased by a snack mix I put together. In a large plastic bowl I have chopped walnuts and sliced almonds along with raisins, pitted dates, and sometimes dried mango. Bottled waters is also on hand.

Naturally we writers get stuck from time to time, our brain needs a brief rest while we gather ourselves for another onslaught on the keyboard. When that happens I get out of my chair and do some stretching exercises. I do back bends, quad stretches, wrist stretch, neck bend, shoulder and triceps stretch.

It is much better to do a few exercises, even isometric ones, which I also do, than to go from your computer chair to your television seat where you sit for even more time. Perhaps even eating more of those wholesome foods like Twinkies, Ding Dongs, or a Forrest Gump box of chocolates.

I do find that when I eat my nut mixture with raisins and dates, drink tea and water; do some light exercises during writing breaks, and take a walk when writing is done for the day, that not only do I feel better, but I have more energy, and my mind is more focused, more creative. And the writing is better.

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Books a writer should have at hand

Besides a dictionary and thesaurus, there are many books a writer can avail himself of.

On the shelf at my computer desk are: “Dictionary of Problem Words and Expressions,”  “Which Word When,” “All about Words,” and “Fowler’s Modern English Usage.” The titles are self explanatory. Not only do they clarify all those questions you have about words and grammar, they tell you things you never knew-and should know. Your writing will be better for it.

And don’t forget “The Elements of Style” and Aristotle’s “Poetics.” They are both thin and take up little room.

Carl Jung’s “Man And His Symbols” and Edith Hamilton’s “Mythology” to give your fiction deep underlying meaning that impress critics. They love metaphoric symbolism; in fact that is all they like. 

“Games People Play” by Eric Berne is great for creating characters. You can read and understand what and why certain types do what they do. It will make your characters come alive with realism.

Richard Mitchell’s “The Gift of Fire,” just because.

“The Elements of Editing” by Arthur Plotnik. Mostly for Journalists, but you can learn a lot from it.

The classic “The Art of Creative Writing” by Lajos Egri  and “Writing the Natural Way” by Gabriele Lusser Rico  for clustering, image, metaphor, creative tension, and other fun things.

A book on character naming is also a must.

It also helps to have “A Whack on the Side of the Head” to get your juices flowing.

Keep in mind I said these are books you should have on your shelf near where you write. You need not read them, in fact it is best to find used copies that have been well thumbed through. When your friends come over they will be impressed by the seriousness you are taking towards your writing. And making a good impression is what counts.

I have had these books since my college days at Princeton with F. Scott Fitzgerald. He wasn’t impressed. He didn’t need them. I do. And if you’re not F. Scott Fitzgerald-and you’re not-then you should consider these books. They can fill your shelf.

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Writers inspiration from your desktop

Many writers need a trigger to start their day.

I uploaded a photo of J. D. Salinger to my desktop because he wrote everyday and I believed that would inspire me to devote myself to a days writing. It worked for two days, then I slacked off a bit and every time I saw his picture on my desktop I felt guilty. See ya J.D.

Then I uploaded a picture of a homeless person, so I would feel fortunate to have a home, to be able to write everyday, to take advantage of my situation, and to avoid being homeless myself, taking nothing for granted. It turned out to be too depressing. I gave the man a digital sandwich and moved on.

I then tried a picture of a tall, slender, long legged blonde in a bikini walking on a beach.  It lasted fifteen minutes. I knew I would never write, but I hid the picture in a folder, just in case I changed my mind later.

Next I had a friend take a picture of me at my keyboard typing away, a writer in progress. It seemed the perfect picture for the desktop as it showed me what I must do, what I need to do. After the picture was uploaded, my friend fell on the floor laughing hysterically, face turning red, tears flowing down her cheeks. I couldn’t write for a week. She couldn’t stop laughing for week. I don’t take a good picture. I should have worn pants though.

I tried many other photos, all with legitimate reasons behind them that would inspire me. At some point it dawned on my cobwebbed brain that I was wasting valuable writing time looking for inspiration.

What I really needed to do was just sit down and get to it. I need no inspiration. I just need to write. It is a job you know.

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The trap of success stories for writers

When the e-Book world began to steamroll, e-writers were advised to Tweet, have a website, have a fan page on Facebook, have a blog, comment on other blogs, have thousands upon thousands of Twitter followers. In other words, be a presence. Oh, and remember to write well. If you had the time after being a presence on social media.

Then comes along a woman Kathie Shoop who sold 100,000 e-Books without doing any of the above.

One can not follow her success because every story of success is unique to that individual person.

Take Hugh Howey. He wrote a free science-fiction short story “Wool” then followed that up with a second chapter. Each chapter was 99 cents with a cliffhanger ending which kept readers coming back for the next installment. He was serializing his novel, something Charles Dickens did  back in the real old days.

Today Howey has an agent and a book deal, plus a movie deal with Ridley Scott.

It may be tempting for every success story one encounters do take the path blazed by someone like Shoop and Howey. I admit the short story serialization is intriguing.

But what gets lost is that the path they chose is not what gained them success. It was primarily good writing. And luck. We must not forget luck. Not everyone who writes well will get noticed.  Just ask John Kennedy Toole. Oh wait we can’t, he committed suicide before his books were published, one of which, “Confederacy of Dunces”  won a Pulitzer Prize.

So luck and perseverance are part of the equation as well as good writing.

The best any of us pounding the keyboards in anonymity is to keep writing, and chart a course with an original idea, even, as in Howey’s case, it was done long ago. As the Peter Allen song goes, “Everything old is new again.”

Now that I think about it, there is something else from the 19th century that may work for me. Talk with you later, got to go.

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My perilous journey in changing my e-book cover

I liked my original cover for “Loonies in Hollywood.” It is a murder mystery based on the true unsolved murder of silent film director William Desmond Taylor. Of course my amateur detective solves the murder, but not without consequence for himself.  The books title is at top and below are four pictures. One of Taylor, one of actress Mabel Normand, one of the Hollywood sign, and the other of a gun. It cost me $5.

It is not that I am cheap, but as any e-novelist knows there are people who will design a cover for $150 on up and the cover is eye catching. There are also people who will edit your book for a price for exceeding your cover outlay. And their are people who will charge you to promote your book-because they are ‘experts’ in promoting. Many of these people are legit, some are not. Making any money for most of us are prohibited by these costs.

The only thing that troubled me about the cover was the lack of color and color is eye catching. I loved the design, but thought I would use the cover design tool at Amazon where my book resides. In an email from Amazon publishing I was told that ‘technically’ I could use my current design and add color background.

Once I got into the project I realized when the person used ‘technically’ the person was guessing.

It can’t be done.

Amazon has different designs, colors, and public domain photos. None of the photos were ideal, but I chose an empty directors chair, and after experimenting with styles and colors I came up with a new cover.

But there was one slight problem. While the cover successfully uploaded, the books content disappeared. The book was not live of course, just that now before going live I had to upload my content once again, so I went into my Word doc and uploaded the novel. After clicking publish I thought whoops!

I had to wait until an email from Amazon telling me my book was live to change it once again.

The reason is that I realized I may have uploaded my rough draft, thus the Whoops! So when I got my email I went back and uploaded the content from my formatter and clicked publish once again.

I hope everything is correct. I like the design as it is more eye catching, but only because of the solid colors. I like the design of the first book, buty have not figured out how to merge the better of both worlds. But this is where my journey has taken me and the journey is never over.

Here is the new cover of my book. Would appreciate your thoughts. I would create a hyperlink, but when I do for some mysterious reason it goes to a Century Link search engine and within the search box is my link. So strange. 

http://www.amazon.com/Loonies-Hollywood-director-William-Desmond-ebook/dp/B00EHK4OJ2/ref=la_B00EEVHN38_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399654900&sr=1-1

 

 

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Has the Internet changed the way we read

One of my favorite bloggers on writing Anne R.Allen had this quote from Michael Rosenwald in the Washington Post:

 “Before the Internet, the brain read mostly in linear ways — one page led to the next page, and so on…The Internet is different. With so much information, hyperlinked text, videos alongside words and interactivity everywhere, our brains form shortcuts to deal with it all — scanning, searching for key words, scrolling up and down quickly…Some researchers believe that for many people, this style of reading is beginning to invade when dealing with other mediums as well.”

I don’t know if that is true. It could depend on one’s age, something that is not taken into account by the present generation, which is true of any era. By that I mean the youth of today have grown up reading from the Internet and the above quote may be true for them, but perhaps not for baby boomers.

And in truth even people who grew up reading actual books, magazines, textbooks, and newspapers, also scanned, looking for the meat within the text. It is something one quickly learned in college. The faster you could get through daily reading assignments, the quicker you got to the party.

But Rosenwald’s quote has substance and certainly worthy of debate and looking into.

However, another quote in Allen’s blog I found infuriating and downright inane, and yes stupid. Perhaps it was meant to inflame. This quote comes from Rob Eager of Digital Book World.

“There is no such thing as an ‘author’.  Instead, there are only people who write stuff that they want other people to buy. Nobody dreams about writing for free, and the few who don’t care if people buy what they write are generally known as ‘poets’.  If there’s no such thing as an author, how do we define people who write stuff that they want other people to buy? We call them ‘salespeople.'”

The reason this is an ill thought out quote is that even before digital writing, before e-books, before e-novels, writers, as in authors, would promote their books, through radio interviews, television interviews, through book tours, through print ads by the publisher. Authors in the past also wanted people to buy and read what they wrote. The only thing that has changed is the growing digital world that allows for more authors.

I created two e-novels and a collection of e-short stories. I am a better author than I am a salesperson, but that is okay, because that has been the lot of  the majority of writers. Feel from to comment in this discussion.

My Amazon page

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