Friday, June 26, 2015

The challenge of reviving a novel drafted years ago

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The idea of writing a novel has been part of my life since I was a teenager, influenced by an excellent library - and two librarians - at my high school in Jamestown, NY.

But it wasn't until the 1990s that I actually pounded out a rough first draft of a novel about young woman in search of her father, a father who had been abusive and spent years in jail before disappearing from her life almost completely.


Jack London at the wheel
But that book, Jack's Boat had been on my mind as I penned both The Fracking War and Fracking Justice in the past three years. The draft of it is novella-length, but I have always known it certainly had sufficient bones to make a full-length book. And today it's on my computer desktop, being edited (and rewritten), with the intention that about 25,000 more words will join what's been written to fill it out to full novel length.

The challenges of resurrecting a novel draft written nearly two decades ago are manifold. Technology changes. Places change. Social and culture mores change.

And then, there is simply the changes in the author.

Jack's Boat as drafted is, stylistically, substantially different than my recent novels. But what I learned in drafting those books - and with the help of good editors - is forcing some serious alterations in sentence length, use of dialog and even how to craft interior monologues of characters. And the story! Rereading this tale is like listening to someone tell a story you have heard before, but that you were hazy on many of the details.

All in all though, finishing Jack's Boat is already proving to be a fun ride. But I have an awful feeling there's tragedy ahead somewhere in the balance of book.

And the title? Jack's Boat refers to one of the vessels owned by late American author Jack London, whose works (and life) have had a huge influence on me since I was a teenager. Huge.

That's enough chatter. It's back to revising Chapter 6 of 19.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Need better proofing of your work? Read it aloud - really

HECTOR, New York - Yes, yes, yes. You have heard it before. If you want to catch every niggling error in your writing, read it aloud.

Some people say read it aloud backwards. (I've tried that to catch spelling errors. It's a great way to drive yourself mad in about 10 minutes.)

But in the last two weeks I read my already-published novel (The Fracking War) aloud into a microphone at a recording studio to create an audiobook. This novel (in manuscript form) I had proofed myself at least four times and had several other people proof it, too. And as the book worked its way through the publishing process, it was proofed again.

And again.

And again.

Well, you already guessed the punchline to this story. I found about a dozen errors (most minor, one not-so-minor) in the reading aloud of the 400 pages for the audiobook.

Santa Crappo!

But added to that, reading it aloud pointed out some awkward language that seemed sooooo reasonable when written (or proofed), not so good when read aloud.

The moral of the story for me is that before Fracking Justice goes to print, I will be reading it aloud into a microphone for an audiobook. And even though it has been through eight sets of reader eyes, I'll wager I find another dozen minor boo-boos.

At least I hope I find them if they are in there.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The cover for Fracking Justice is done - time to publish

WATKINS GLEN, New York - Canandaigua artist Amy Colburn finished her magic this week with the cover art (and type mockup) of the cover for Fracking Justice, my second novel which is scheduled to be published by June 1.
Amy Colburn

An earlier, working cover of Lady Justice toting a rifle led to her much more clever idea of using Lady Justice in front of a gas explosion - and with fireworks off to the side.

If you look at the image of Lady Justice carefully, you can see the slightest hint of a smile.

Now that the cover is in the hands of Mill City Press, the worker bees there will be pressing ahead with the layout of the inside pages and the balance of the book jacket. Adm. Sylvia Fox and I are scrambling to get the endorsements for the back cover.

In the meantime, an audiobook version of The Fracking War is being recorded at musician Scott Adam's studio in Hector, NY. And as soon as that gets wrapped up, I will be reading Fracking Justice into the microphone so that it can be released as an audio book at the same time as the book and e-book.

At some point this summer, I'll start on book three of this series of novels, Fracking Evil. And there's plenty of good - or should I say evil - material to work with.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

"The Fracking War' to make an appearance on ABC-TV program called 'Boom'

WATKINS GLEN, New York - The Fracking War will be on the set - and in the hands of a female character - in an early scene of the ABC-TV pilot of a new series called "Boom," an examination of the North Dakota Bakken oil fields.

I've seen the script and signed the rights for the book to be used.

The young woman (described as stunning in the script) is supposed to be wearing a T-shirt that says "No Fracking Way."

I am not fracking kidding.
Don Johnson

The pilot stars Don Johnson and Delroy Lindo and looks at the struggles going on in Bakken oilfield towns with all the things that have been making news for the last few years.

So, how did The Fracking War end up in the pilot?

Luck and a great connection.
Delroy Lindo

Last winter in Mexico I had breakfast with a fellow who has been reading my various blogs (including this one). When not traveling south of the border, he works as a prop guy in Hollywood. When plans to use The Monkey Wrench gang as a prop in the pilot for Boom fell apart, he remembered The Fracking War and offered it up to the script writers as an alternative.

They bit!  And in a small way, The Fracking War has now gone Hollywood.


Maybe Johnson or Lindo will pick up the book on the set, get interested, and want to do a film or series based on it.

Where do I sign the release for that?

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Fracking Justice inches closer to being published with Version 3.0

WATKINS GLEN, New York - The ever-friendly women at Staples in Big Flats saw me walking up to the counter today offering me a nice greeting and also asking - as they have for several months -"How is the book coming?'

They found out quickly after they asked because they printed out three proof copies.

Today they printed Fracking Justice Version 3.0, the most up-to-date version already reviewed by five beta readers, rewritten, edited and tuned up by me. Then last week Admiral Fox gave it an editor's read-through with more rewriting, editing and a tuneup.

What was printed and bound this afternoon is precipitously close to what go to the publisher sometime in the next few weeks (or a month).

Adm. Fox found several areas where I needed to do more explaining, some where I blabbed on too much, and others where there were timeline concerns. Collectively, I was able to take care of her issues in about a half-hour.

It would be nice if the rest of this process goes as smoothly!

One of these latest copies of Fracking Justice is going to be shipped off to an artist in Canandaigua who has expressed interest in designing the book jacket. If we come to an agreement, you'll read all about her here and what we have planned.

In the meantime, I have one more read through for me of what was printed, followed by some spacing corrections where the tracking of changes made it difficult not to add space or have wordssmushedagainsteachother.

And once all that is done, Fracking Justice heads to the final copy editor/proofreader who was also a beta reader.

I'll be glad to see it finally in print and on bookshelves. I shouldn't be so impatient. It was only last January that I started Chapter 1. Now it's five sections, maybe 100 chapters and about 85,000 words.