Friday, April 26, 2013

Fallling back into the news cycle: 4 stories in one week

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - I was back on home news territory only a few days before I went out on my first writing assignment for the daily Elmira Star-Gazette: Covering a trial of three people arrested for trespassing at the local natural gas facility March 18.

Protesters about to be released
They were blocking the entrance, making a political statement about how bad a proposed expansion of the project will be for the area.

It will be disastrous, actually.

But after that hearing - during which they were quickly sentenced to 15 days in jail - I wrote a second piece a few days later about their anticipated release.

Then the night of their actual release from jail I took photos to accompany yet a third piece published later that day about their release and their plans to keep fighting for environmental justice.

This story was a freelancer trifecta.

At the release of the prisoners, I managed to get scolded by a burly sheriff's deputy for standing up on a railing outside the jail while shooting still photos. He told me, "Get down before you fall down." 
Yes, it was cold shooting photos that night

It sounded soooo familiar. Then I remembered, that's exactly what I told all four of my children whenever they climbed on something.

I got down, by the way. Even with media credentials, you never argue with police, especially a cop that outweighs you by 100 pounds and carries a large caliber pistol and a nightstick.

Next up on the freelance writing/freelance photography deck is a photo shoot Saturday at the Tiki Bar Polar Plunge in Seneca Lake. Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like: jumping into 42-degree water. There will be large volumes of alcohol involved, too, so the swimmers will be able to warm back up.

Or warm up before they plunge.

OH! And The Fracking War draft? It's all neatly printed out in a box staring at me right now, making noises that say, Read Me! Edit Me! Publish Me! 

Maybe after the Plunge Saturday.

Last year's Tiki Bar Polar Plunge - hope the weather is as nice Saturday

Thursday, April 18, 2013

'The Fracking War' gets ready for first round of editing

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - After a full month of not looking at the completed draft of The Fracking War, I printed out all five sections in the last two days, burning through a whole printer cartridge in the process.

Five sections, 100,000 words
But now it's printed out and the work - my work - begins with a full, red-pencil-in-hand read through. I will do that on the hard copy, making editorial comments along the way, just like I did for more years than I would like to count on student work.

When that process is done, I will boot up the draft of the book on this computer, making changes as needed, and possibly add  (or delete) sections. Whole chapters might get dumped, too, or expanded and other chapters added. I tried not to read as I printed it out, though peeking was too tempting at times.

But the month-long break from looking at it means I should be able to read the draft almost like a fresh piece of literature. At least I hope it's fresh and doesn't read (or smell) like a month-old tuna.

Once my editing/rewriting/rejiggering is done in the next few weeks, off the draft will go to three beta readers for their take on The Fracking War.

A number of people have asked me, "How many pages is it?" The answer? I have no idea. The total word count for the five sections is close to 100,000 words. That makes it longer than most books you would pick up in the airport to read on a flight, but way, way short of a Stephen King blockbuster. 

The other question is, "What's your next book about?"

Kee-rist, I'm just hoping to survive the publishing of The Fracking War. But I suppose as a follow up I could team up with Adm. Fox and we could write something a little lighter, maybe The Art of Sofa Surfing. 

Or we could write a non-fiction book about our adventures in Mexico.

No, not ready to tackle that.