Friday, October 28, 2011

And Now for Our Next Character...

Our introduction to the characters in "The Deilverers: Sharky and the Jewel" continues with the major female character. Her name is Kate Endria. She is the daughter of the Lord Mayor of Calendria, and she's obsessed with finding The Deliverers, the heroes of a legend that's been part of her village's folklore for over 300 years.

In the legend, the Deliverers--a mighty warrior and a talking eagle--appear to save the village of Calendria from the immortal pirate Sharky and his band of cutthroats. After having a dream about them, she spends all her time combing the jungle and the beaches around her village for some sign of them.

What she finds are a boy, Eric, and a talking owl, Stig--hardly heroes. Nevertheless, they've been sent to help deliver Calendria from Sharky, and save the entire world from a terrible danger.

Kate is one of my favorite characters, because she was so easy to write. Like Stig, she appeared almost fully formed when she came rushing out of the jungle when she first appears in the book. She is a spirited kid. Like Eric, she's lost a parent--her mother died when she was seven.

That hasn't stopped her, though. She has certain goals--finding the Deliverers, being accepted as her father's heir--that she's determined to fulfill. It doesn't matter that what she sets out to do seems impossible, or has never been done before, she is convinced that she will find a way to achieve it. She is also fanatically devoted to the memory of her ancestor, Calvin Endria, and is trying to answer the question of what happened to him after he mysteriously disappeared.

All these things that she's trying to do tie in to one overriding goal--delivering her village from the clutches of the immortal pirate captain Sharky and his crew. If not for her, Calenndria would never be free.

The Deliverers has a lot of great characters. That's one of its major strengths. Everyone will be able to relate to at least one of them. They each have some growing to do, and develop as the book goes along. It's strange, because it's  not something I set out to consciously do. All the characters and their stories just seemed to mesh naturally.

In our next character study, we'll get to know the shortest character--Hallo Tosis the dwarf.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Proof Is In the Pudding

Good evening all! I want to apologize for not posting yesterday. I had good intentions, but it just did not work out. Yesterday was my birthday (shameless plug) and I was so busy with the family and phone calls, that I did not get a chance to post.

Today, I actually received a late birthday present. A couple days ago, I wrote that I had received the final files for my book. After reviewing them, I uploaded them to CreateSpace. Today, I received an email telling me that my files were useable, and that I should order my proof copy, which is exactly what I did.

For those of you who don't know, a proof is a test printing of the book. When I receive that, I'll go over it with a fine tooth comb to see if I can spot any printing inconsistencies, such as the cover color not being right, etc. After I give the final approval, my book will be ready to go!

Wow, it's hard to believe it's getting so close. Right now, getting it published is the goal, but then it will be sharing it with as many people as possible. It's really a great story, and I know you and your children will love it. More on this in the days to come! Have a great night!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Eric Scott, Epic Hero, or Just an Everyday Kid?

Today, I'd like to introduce you to the hero of "The Deiverers: Sharky and the Jewel", Eric Scott. Eric's a 12 year old boy who lost his father in a hiking accident. In all other respects, though, he's just your average, everyday kid. He's a little on the scrawny side, pretty intelligent, and he's got a little bit of an attitude problem.

While trying to get his life back to normal, he's visited by a certain white owl. What follows, completely changes his outlook...eventually. Eric's an ordinary person thrown into an extraordinary situation, and forced to sink or swim.

When he has to, he'll discover that he's capable of much more than he thinks. Just how capable, you'll discover when you read the book.

As I wrote the book, Eric became the center that a couple more outgoing characters--namely Kate Endria and Hallo Tosis the dwarf--revolved around. At first, this worried me, because the main character is usually the most dynamic. But I think kids will be able to relate to Eric. He's pretty much like any other 12 year old. He's chosen, not because he's unusual, but because he's steady and reliable. When the chips are down, though, it's Eric who comes up with a plan and becomes a leader. That's a message I think everyone will be able to relate to.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Evening Musings

Today is Monday--already. The weekends go too quickly. It seems like only yesterday that it was Friday. The weekend went well. We had a tag sale and did all right--made some money and cleared some space. On Sunday, my wife Stephanie took me out to dinner as an early birthday present, just the two of us. Unfortunately, my Dolphins found another improbable, embarrassing way to lose, but hey, it's just a game! So all in all, it was a good weekend.

Among the other things I did this weekend was review the book interior that I received on Friday. I caught a few inconsistencies, Why, no matter how many times I check, are there always inconsistencies?! I think I'll have to have a contest once the book is published. Spot something that's incorrect, win a copy of my next book, or something.

So, I sent the interior back.with the changes. Now, I'll just sit back and wait for the final version to come back. Then, I'll send it in to CreateSpace and wait until they send me a proof. Then I'll be able to announce that the book is available! I'm getting excited just writing about it.

This has been a long process--about eight years to write the book, rewrite the book, rewrite it again, polish it up and polish it some more. I'm not a very patient person, but this baby has taught me patience. If I don't sell one copy, it's already been a profitable experience. But hopefully, I'll sell a lot of copies. We'll see what happens when it comes out.

Oh well, not much to update you on today, so I'll keep it short. Please check back here regularly, or subscribe to the feed at the bottom of the homepage. Have a great night and I'll be back with something better tomorrow--promise!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Writer's Story--The Early Years, Part 2

Hello again. Last week, I shared a little bit about an experience that influenced me as a writer, and alluded that there was a second experience that inspired me to be a writer as well. Perhaps it was less an experience, and more just a general knowledge.

When I was growing up, one of my favorite books was "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak. I really loved it. So, when I was 10 or 11, I was quite surprised and iintrigued to learn that Mr. Sendak actually lived only a ten minute bike ride away from my house.

Where the Wild Things AreImage of Maurice Sendak

Now, naturally I was tempted to pedal my bike up to his house and up his driveway, knock on his door, and introduce myself. I pedaled past there on my own several times. His driveway wasn't that long, and I could see his front door from the road, but I never got up the courage to do it.

An older boy who lived two doors up the street from me worked for Mr. Sendak as a handyman. I thought about asking him to get me in to see him, but I never got up the nerve.

Now in the summer, a couple of my friends and I used to ride our bikes a couple miles to a little market over the New York border (I would never let my children do this, but sadly it's a different world today) to buy baseball cards, candy bars, and soda. This would have been in the mid-70's.

We could go one of two routes. The longer route went right past Mr. Sendak's house. The shorter route followed a horse trail for part of the way, bypassing the stretch of road where he lived. I usually lobbied to go the long route in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the famous writer/illustrator. 

Of course, I never saw him--until one day. We rode our bikes past his house. Nothing. Down the hill and around the bend into New York state...and there he was. He was walking up the road with his dogs, coming home from a walk.

"Hi," I said as I rode by.

"Hello," he said. And that was it.

Not much, but for me, it was everything.

A couple years later, I remember telling my mother that I wanted to write children's books. I remember saying something like, "Maybe I should ask Maurice Sendak for some advice."

My mother, probably with visions of her 13 year old son accosting the poor man on one of his walks, stammered out something about him probably not wanting to be bothered by a teenager asking advice.

That kind of put me off, so I never did try to ask him. It was probably for the best, because I was thinking about stopping him on the street (I'd seen him a couple other times after that encounter). That would not have been cool.

Strangely, the idea of writing to him never occurred to me. Maurice Sendak was too real to me. He was right there, less than a half mile away. You didn't write to people who were so close. But that's also what made the idea that I could be a children's writer so real, too. Maurice Sendak wrote books for children, but he was real to me. I'd seen him walking his dogs on the street.

That made the belief that I could live my dream all the more real to me, too.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Another Step On the Journey

Yesterday, I received the almost final files for the cover and the interior of "The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel". My friend, Ana Vogel, who laid out the book, sent it over to review. I'm currently reviewing it, which is why this post is late and short.

Actually, that's not entirely true. The main reason that this post is late and short is that we had a tag sale yesterday and today, and me, my wife and my inlaws all had to clean up. Then, I wound up playing taxi driver (parents out there, you know how that goes) to my kids who both had events to go to, each on the opposite side of town.

But I digress. The main point is that I'm one step closer to getting the finished book in my hot little hands. After I review the proof that Ana sent me, and email her with any changes I feel need to be made, she's going to send me the final, final proof. I will then submit this to CreateSpace. Six weeks later, I'll get a proof from them to review, and then we should be good to go.

So, I'll probably be a little late for the Christmas rush, but right on time for the Martin Luther King Day shopping season!

Let me tell you how getting the email from Ana felt. She sent it to my home and work email. I was at work. I decided to open the cover first. This was the first time I'd seen the whole cover--front, back and spine. I was so excited. It was beautiful. I got up and was pacing around my office with excitement, unable to scream for fear of freaking out the entire building (we've had a couple minor emergencies at work in the past month).

So I called one of the people I work with in, and we looked at the cover. She loved it. I called my boss in, and she loved it. Everyone loved it. Everyone I've shown it to has loved it. Nothing impresses people like a good book cover. Now I know you can't judge a book by it's cover, but a good one will encourage people to take a look at what's inside. Hopefully, that's when they'll be hooked.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Writer's Story--The Early Years, Part I

The life of a writer can be difficult. If you have a desire to write a book, very rarely are you able to make a living at it. So, most writers are forced to work a "day job" to support their writing habit. Luckily, I've got a great job working in the education and development department at a bank. It pays the bills, and gives me a chance to indulge my creativity at the same time. So, while I'd like to be able to write full time, my job is reasonably fulfilling.

So why do I want to write? If I can't do it all the time, and devote all my attention to it, why bother? It's just something I've got to do. I've wanted to publish a book for as long as I can remember. The earliest tangible memory that I have of writing creatively was in sixth grade.Yep, I remember it well--Scotland Elementary School, Miss. Miller's class. We had to write and design our own magazine. The magazine had to contain an essay, short story, artwork, poems, an ad, and an interview all based on a specific theme. I chose football. Here's a picture of the cover (laid out and designed by yours truly):

Not as great as the cover of the book, but that's why I didn't do it myself! Still, it's okay for a sixth grader in the days before word processing, digital photography, and all the other technical gadgets we have today. And how about that title. I remember I wanted a really cool word that would really describe the game. Mangling. Cool!

The table of contents, complete with the signatures of my proud parents. As I look at this, I'm kind of impressed. We had to do a lot of writing. I can't remember how long we took to complete this project, but I know it took a while. The good grade and great feedback from my teacher and parents help this project stay with me, and nurtured my love of writing. Not only did we get to write, but we also had to illustrate, as demonstrated by this page:

Kind of funky. I guess they're okay for a 12 year old. The only problem is that I don't think my drawing has progressed much past this point. Ah well, peaked as an artist at 12. The writing is pretty good (I picked this page for the pictures, not the poem), which reminds me that I always could write.

So that's it. After this project, I was hooked. I was on my way. This is one of two memories that directly relate to my desire to write. I"ll share the second memory with you in the near future. Peace.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Scenes That Inspire

"Where do you get your ideas?" is a question that I'm frequently asked when people find out that I write. For me, some ideas just come to me, seemingly from thin air. Others are triggered by places that are familiar to me, and are at least partially a conscious effort to pull some of those elements into a world that I've created.

The fishing village of Calendria, where much of "The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel" takes place, was inspired by some of the living history museums I've been visiting since I was a kid. The entire village, although located in the tropics in the book, is based on a New England 19th century village.

Calendria is located on a sheltered harbor. It has a wharf and fishing related buildings such as a fishmonger and a netmender. I guess I was influenced by trips to Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT, where I'd view scenes like this:

Up the hill from Calendria's harbor, lies the village green. The concept of this came from a traditional New England colonial green, such as you'd see in places like Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA. Usually, tradespeople would have shops on the green, and the wealthier members of the community would also have houses there.

In Calendria, Kate Endria, the daughter of the Lord Mayor--and the one who befriends Eric and Stig--lives in a large house at the head of the green. I imagined that it looked something like this:

It's scenes like these that formed the foundation of a new world that is different and yet familiar, both for the reader and for Eric, who has been pulled into it. If you can keep your fiction grounded in elements of reality, while also introducing something new, you're well on your way to creating a realistic, believable fantasy world.I think I've been able to do that. You can judge for yourself when the book comes out.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Share the Love

Hello, all. Being new to the blogging scene, I'm not up on blogging etiquette, so forgive me for what's coming next if it's inappropriate.  I appreciate all your support and I've received some great comments from you on Facebook. Thanks for all your support! If you enjoy what I've been writing so far, please share this link with your friends. I'm kind of feeling my way in this new blog world in which I've landed, and am trying to figure out how best to attract more readers.

Okay, enough of that. I just finished making dinner for my wonderful family. Breakfast night--eggs, sausage, hashbrowns and oj....mmmmm! Now they're sitting watching the Cobsy Show--classic comedy that doesn't grow old! What this means is that things are relatively quiet now, so it's the perfect opportunity to craft (okay, throw together) today's post.

In all the excitement of the new book cover and the new blog, I almost forgot to tell you about the writers' workshop that I attended in New York City this past Saturday. It was sponsored by the New York chapter of the National Writers' Union. I'm not a member of the union (not yet, anyway), but they are key voice in protecting and furthering the rights of freelance writers nationwide.

Anyway, the conference was great. There was a major focus on how to market your book, the pros and cons of self-publishing, copyright and authors' rights, and a discussion of the challenges of poets and playwrights in getting their works heard--especially the works of minority writers.

The discussions and presentations were informative and inspiring. It convinced me of what I've suspected for a long time, that the major publishers are not the way to go for the majority of writers out there. Right now, technology and social media are making it easier for writers to publish books on their own. It's reminiscent of the days when the printing press brought written communication to the masses. Now, if there was an easy platform for marketing our books, we'd be all set!

Okay, I think I've rambled on enough for one post. To sum up, it was a great conference, and I'm looking forward to next year. Spending a day with other writers, poets, playwrights and journalists was refreshing. After working day in and day out in the financial realm, it's nice to be reminded that there are others out there who share a common interest.

Have a great night, and I'll be blogging again tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Stigidae Ghostwing. Stig for Short.

Okay, so yesterday I promised to tell you about how I came up with the idea of a talking owl. Stigidae Ghostwing or--as he is fond of saying--Stig for short started out as a cameo character in one of the Christmas stories I wrote for the youth group I used to be involved with. Then one year, for no real reason at all that I know of, he spoke. He wasn't Stig yet, just "the owl". Large and white, he gave advice to the main character in the story.

After that, he lay dormant for some time. But, I always wondered about him, what he did, what he was like, what his name was. That's the great thing about writing. Sometimes a really great character will appear, seemingly on their own, and just demand your attention.

The first glimmer I had for my book was Stig. But he was still "the owl". It wasn't until the hero of the book, young Eric Scott (more about him another time),saw the owl in a tree and the owl said "My name is Stigidae Ghostwing. Stig for short," that I knew his name.

After that, Stig took shape very quickly. I think the best way to describe him would be one part wise advisor (he's an owl, after all), one part friend, and one part pompous windbag. All in all, he's good support for Eric, and keeps him on track.Stig's definitely the adult of the group.

Well, I guess that's about it for today. We'll review another character soon. Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 17, 2011

So, What's This Book About?

Okay, now that you've seen the cover, I suppose I should tell you a little bit about the book. To start it off, here's the description that's going to be on the back cover:

A world is in trouble, who can save it?

Certainly not Eric Scott, a 12 year old boy coming to grips with his own personal tragedy. But that’s exactly what Stig, an owl from another world, asks him to do. Together, they are sent to deliver Calendria, a small fishing village, from Sharky, an immortal pirate captain that has enslaved them. But defeating Sharky and his band of bloodthirsty pirates will be no easy task.

When they arrive, Eric and Stig meet Kate Endria, who is convinced that they are the Deliverers—heroes of an ancient prophecy who are destined to defeat Sharky and his crew. Eric devises a plan that he hopes will work. Eric’s confidence rises when they rescue Hallo Tosis, an outcast dwarf who gives them the key to a powerful weapon. But it’s only after things start to go horribly wrong that Eric and Stig discover the true object of their mission.

That's the gist of the first half, more or less. You'll have to read the book when it comes out to discover what happens next!

This book has been a long time coming. When I first started it close to ten years ago, I didn't think I could write an entire novel--I'd only written short stories. The story just sort of grew layer on layer, and I was able to join those layers at the end to form a whole.

But along the way there was a lot of trial and error, wrong turns, and a ton of revisions.Through all this, I was writing everywhere; at my old job (sorry Floor Focus), on the train to and from press conferences, in airports and on airplanes, in my basement (long story)...I could write a book. Oh, wait, I did! I mean, I could write a book about writing a book!

I'll go into detail on alot of that in the coming days, weeks, months, years. As I said in my first post, I could wind up writing about anything. I mean, look at this post. It was supposed to be a little bit about the book. I did give you the book description, but I haven't told you anything about the characters, like how did I come up with the idea of a talking owl? Well, that's a great topic for tomorrow's post! I don't know how long these blog posts are supposed to be, but since I don't have any picture today to break up this text, I think I'll say goodbye until tomorrow.

Goodbye until tomorrow!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Cover Is Here!!!!

Well, here it is, the first post of the blog. Welcome! I'm really excited about this. My book is almost ready to be submitted to Createspace to be set for printing! But there's something I'm even more excited about, and that's the cover! Here it is:

Isn't it a thing of beauty? I can't thank Daniel Vogel enough for the artwork, and Ana Vogel for the titles not to mention the layout of the entire thing. Thanks to you, this is going to be one beautiful book!

In the coming days and weeks, I'll be giving you previews of the book, insights into the writing process, and a glimpse into what it's like to be me--banker, writer, father, and husband.

That means I could wind up writing on just about anything. If you have any suggestions, I'd like to hear from you. Any feedback at all will be welcome. Is anybody out there? Probably not yet--we just got started! I'll talk to you soon.