Friday, August 31, 2012

A Writer's Week #34: Back At It

It's almost Labor Day, and just about everyone is back at school by now. That is, except for my children. Our town does not start school until the day after Labor Day. I think my wife has been praying for that day for a couple of weeks now.

The kids, though, are enjoying themselves, which I guess is what matters most. I think they're almost--almost--ready to go back, though. At least they're not complaining about the impending First Day, which I take to be a good sign.

Last week, I had just returned from a great vacation, so I was all rested and relaxed and ready to tackle a busy week of work and writing. 

Well, a week has passed, and surprisingly, I don't feel like I need another vacation already. This week was productive on all fronts. I finished up a long series of training classes that I and a coworker had been facilitating since late March. For the next month, we'll be going out to provide assistance with the system roll-out that was the subject of those training classes. 

On the writing front, I was able to get back on track and write 2,300 words of The Deliverers 2, the sequel to The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel. That means I'm up to chapter 49 and 191 pages. Things are moving along pretty well, and I'm looking forward to finishing and getting down to some editing.

First thing's first, though. It's tough to get a book climax right, and then have the proper wrap up. I tend to like the wrap up take longer when I'm reading a book I like, so it's tempting to go too long. I'll have to be careful. This book will probably be a little longer than Sharky and the Jewel--I'm guessing 230 pages.

Anyway, I still have not come up with a title for this one. I started thinking about this at the end of work today. I listed some names and important things that happen on a piece of paper, hoping that something sparks my creative juices. So far, nothing. I have a feeling it will wind up reflecting an event in the book, I'm just not sure which one right now.

Oh well. I guess I'll just have to keep thinking--and writing. Will I be able to come up with a title? I'll let you know how I make out next week.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What's Abigail Reading? Daisy's Summer Essay

This week, Abby read a fun book called Daisy's Summer Essay, by Marci Peschke. Like kids all over, it's about a girl who's heading back to school. Let's see what she thought of it.


Here's what Abigail says the book is about.

"It's about a girl named Daisy. Her teacher gives them these mini passports and they have to write about where they went over the summer. They have to bring in something they got, like a souvenir. Daisy didn't know what she was going to bring. Her grandma gave her frosty bits of sky blue and gray green glass that they all found in Michigan. Everybody liked the glass. 

"Daisy always wore daisy socks, because her name was Daisy. Soon everyone in her class was wearing daisy socks because they liked her so much. 

"Daisy thought her teacher had super powers because she was able to make Raymond read. She really likes her teacher, Miss. Lilly. She's the best teacher in 4th grade. I can't tell you what else happens, you'll have to read the book."

Here's what Abigail liked best about the book.

"I really liked when Daisy brought in the sea glass, because they all found it when they went to visit her cousins."

Was there anything about the book that you didn't like?

"I really didn't like it when a girl named Madison was bragging that she was going to have the best thing to bring in to class."

So, how does Abigail rate Daisy's Summer Essay, by Marci Peschke?

Abby gives it four and a half out of five dolphins.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Interview Series: The Ugly Duckling

Last week when I was in New Hampshire, I saw a couple flocks of geese flying above us in a nice "V" formation. It occurred to me that soon we'll be seeing them as they fly south for the winter, kind of an unsettling thought, but fall, and then winter, will be here before you know it.

This line of thought gave me the idea to get in touch with someone who is very familiar with flying south--the Ugly Duckling. I thought it might be interesting to see how he's doing and what his memories are of his tumultuous childhood.


Greg:  Thanks for flying by. So, what are you up to these days?

Duckling:  Well, the usual things swans do, swim on ponds, soar through the air, look graceful.

Greg:  I suppose it's a far cry from the days of your youth.

Duckling:  Oh my, yes. Those were trying times, I can tell you. I thought that I had no future. I certainly did not have a place to call home.

Greg: Tell us a little bit about that. That is, if it's not too painful.

Duckling:  It is rather, but that's all right. My therapist says it's healthy for me to talk these things out. Let's see, I suppose I should start at the beginning. Do I need to lie down?

Greg:  No, that's okay, I'm not a therapist.

Duckling:  It all started right after I was hatched. I was different from my siblings, being much larger and gangly than them. My beak was too big, and I was a different color. The animals in the barnyard called me ugly, and the description stuck.

My mother was very supportive, but my father...well let's just say he wanted nothing to do with me. That was a very hard thing to overcome.

Greg:  Yes, I can see how troubling that could be. But you said that you had no place to call home.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Writer's Week #33: What We Did On Our Holiday

This was a very relaxing week. As I mentioned in last week's post, I was on vacation this week. It was great not having to think about work, The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel, writing, or even--dare I say it?--this blog. Once again a big thank you to Marissa for guest hosting this week!

The family poses for a group shot in Maine
So, like I said, I had a great time kicking back with the family up in New Hampshire and Maine for a few days. We sat on the beach, took day trips to Maine, shopped, swam, ate, saw the sights--typical tourist stuff.

This year, I tried not to eat so much, and I was reasonably successful there. I also made it a point to exercise at least once a day, as I'd lost 7 pounds going into vacation and wanted to at least hold steady. Stephanie is a big runner, and Abigail is always up for a run, so we walked up and down the boardwalk every morning, and threw in some sprints (about 4 sets) in between. I made it out every day but one, so mission accomplished there.

I haven't weighted myself yet (chicken!), but plan to tomorrow morning. I'm guessing I gained one or two pounds, but my clothes still feel loose, so I think I'm okay.

Abby on the beach in New Hampshire
We had great weather the whole time we were there. The only dodgy day was Saturday, which was the day we arrived. I've got a great shot of Abby among the dunes on our evening beach crawl.

The sea is so relaxing. I just love to sit on a rock and watch the waves come in. So now I'm back, relaxed and refreshed. While I successfully forgot about work and marketing The Deliverers, I was less successful when it came to forgetting about The Deliverers 2. While I really did not write anything this week (which is the way I planned it), I could not stop thinking about the book--most specifically about the problem that arose last week.

Abby & Dad working while playing
So, contrary to my plan, I went to CVS and bought a notebook (I didn't bring my laptop or any paper on the trip--no paper, no write). I wrote out my dilemma, and wrote down some alternatives. Once I got every possibility down on paper, it did not take long to choose what I think was the proper path.

From there, I outlined the story through to its conclusion. I think I know how the rest will all play out, although I still have my doubts about a couple minor points. I all makes sense now, and everyone who needs to be present at the climax will be.

After that, it was back into vacation mode. I didn't think about the book again until I got home last night. Then I sat down and made all the necessary changes while saving the climactic scene for later. It may not play out like I originally wrote it, but there are a lot of elements there that I want to retain.

So, my actual writing output this week was actually -300 words or so. I'm down to 40, 700 as I cut a scene or two and rewrote a couple of chapters. I'm planning on moving forward again in the coming week, and hope to hit my goal of 2,000 words. I'll let you know how I make out in a week. For now, I'll leave you with a few "holiday snaps."

Morning swim in New Hampshire


Marginal Way, Ogunquit, Maine





Thursday, August 23, 2012

What's Marissa Reading? This Isn't What It Looks Like

Well, if the vacation went according to plan, I should be heading home as you read this. A big thank you to Marissa for holding down the fort while I was gone. You did a great job my dear! She's winding up her week of posts with the fourth and final book in the Secrets series, This Isn't What It Looks Like, by Pseudonymous Bosch.




Here's what Marissa says the book is about.


"Oh no! After Cass eats the time traveling chocolate from Senor Hugo (an evil chef from the 3rd book in the Secret Series "This Book Is Not Good For You), she goes back in history to the Medieval times. She is in search of her ancestor the Jester so that as her job as the Secret Keeper she will finally figure out the Secret, and she hopes then she will discover the secret to who she is and who her birth parents really are.
  
"Meanwhile Max-Earnest is still in the present day procrastinating about figuring out how he can get Cass out of her chocolate induced coma before it is too late. He tries all the obvious things, such as the antidote that the magical Tuning Fork creates, but when nothing works he loses hope. But when Benjamin Blake, a former colleague of theirs, comes back to school with a strange Double Monocle that helps you read minds Max- Earnest knows he must get it. He finally does but surprisingly when he goes to use it Cass has already awoken! You'll have to read the book to find out what happens next."

What did Marissa like best about the book?

"I like the mystery element in the book. It always keeps reading you are always forced to go to the next chapter to see what happens next."

Was there anything she didn't like?

"I didn't like how when Cass came out of her coma she couldn't remember anything she experienced from her trip to the past. It was really annoying and frustrating that you knew all the answers but she couldn't remember anything."

So, how did Marissa rate This Isn't What It Looks Like, by Pseudonymous Bosch?

She gave it five out of five baby giraffes.




Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What's Marissa Reading? This Book Is Not Good For You

Hi, I hope your week is going well. Here's Marissa with her rundown of the third book in the Secret Series, This Book Is Not Good For You, by Pseudonymous Bosch.




Here's what Marissa says the book is about.

"In the 3rd book in the Secret Series, Cass, Max-Ernest, and Yoji get put on the case for a magical tuning fork that when dipped into any food could make it any taste you wanted as long as you or your ancestor has tasted it before. But when Cass lets news about the tuning fork slip to an evil chef she gets the special treatment at his suspicious restaurant where you eat in the dark so that you can "embrace the flavors". 

"But when Cass realizes her mother is no longer in the restaurant with her she immediately goes into the kitchen to investigate. But when she receives a note from Senior Hugo the evil chef that says he kidnapped her mother and to get her back Cass has to bring him the tuning fork, she knows this search has a lot more at stake than just the Midnight Sun discovering the Secret. If you want to know what happens next I strongly suggest you read the book!

What did Marissa like best about the book?

"I liked how the author added in little snipets about the text at the bottom of the page."

Was there anything she didn't like?

"Nothing, another great masterpiece by Pseudonymous Bosch!"

So, how did Marissa rate This Book Is Not Good For You, by Pseudonymous Bosch?

She gave it five out of five baby giraffes.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What's Marissa Reading? If You're Reading This It's Too Late

It's Tuesday, and that means we've got another post from our guest blogger, Marissa. This one is about If You're Reading This It's Too Late,  by Pseudonymous Bosch. Let's get right to it.





Here's what Marissa says the book is about.


"Cass and Max-Ernest are back again in the second book of the Secret Series. It starts off when Cass finds a note hidden in her lunch that tells her to go to a dock at 12 p.m. So when they take a field trip to the tide pools the two of them sneak away to go to the dock, but a new student Yoji starts to follow them. Luckily they get rid of him. 

"When they go to the dock they see no one but Dr. L and Ms. Mauvis they try to escape but it's too late they've already set sail. But when they get put in a room they find a mysterious object making noises. Once they sneak out of their room in the night they see their teacher climbing over the side of the boat! Once they jump into his motor boat and are all settled in they find out that Cass and Max-Ernest's teacher is actually a spy for a secret society which they are now a part of. 

"Not long after that they receive a mission to track down a legendary little man that is grown in a bottle called a homunculus. Once they discover Dr. L and Ms. Mauvis were after this creature they knew they had to keep them from getting their gloved hands on it. Will Cass and Max-Ernest succeed in keeping the homunculus from them? Read the book to find out!?

What did Marissa like best about the book?

"I liked the suspense and how almost everything went wrong. Also the chapters, they started at 32 then counted down to 1 as the book went on."

Was there anything she didn't like?

"It was great! There was nothing that I didn't like."

So, how did Marissa rate If You're Reading This It's Too Late, by Pseudonymous Bosch?

She gave it five out of five baby giraffes.


Monday, August 20, 2012

What's Marissa Reading? The Name of This Book is Secret

Hello, and happy Monday! If all goes well, when you read this I will be on vacation!!! Sorry, but it's been a while since I had any appreciable time off--8 months or so. So I'm spending this week away with the family--no cell phones, computers, blogs, or writing.

But not to worry. I've enlisted one of the Reading Crew, my  niece Marissa, to guest host the blog while I'm gone. She's been reading a most unusual series that she's dying to tell you all about. So, here's the first book--The Name of This Book is Secret, by Pseudonymous Bosch. No, I'm not being cheeky, that's really the name of the book. I'll let Marissa tell you a little bit more about it.



Here's what Marissa says the book is about.

"Well it starts out when you meet a girl named Cass, a survivalist who is always looking out for threats to her community. There is also a boy named Max-Ernest who hopes to be a stand up comedian. When he goes to test out a joke on her, they surprisingly become friends. While at her grandfather's antique shop Cass overhears a real estate agent who is trying to sell a dead magician's house. At this remark Cass feels a surge of adventure. 

"She confronts Max-Ernest on the matter and they decide to go take a look, which was the worst mistake of their lives. While in the house they find a secret passage with an office inside. While they are snooping around Cass finds a notebook. But then they hear something. It's the real estate agent trying to sell the house to two very 'dazzling' people. 

"Cass and Max-Ernest later find out that these two people are Dr. L and Ms. Mauvis who have kidnapped one of their schoolmates, Benjamin Blake! Will they succeed in recovering him? Or will Dr. L and Ms. Mauvis catch them in the act? Read the book! (This is the first book of the Secret Series)"

What did Marissa like best about the book?

"I liked how the author/narrator told the story. He told it like it was filled with such terrible secrets he just couldn't bear to tell the story. I also liked how it was a mystery."

Was there anything she didn't like?

"Nothing, loved it!" 

So, how did Marissa rate The Name of This Book is Secret, by Pseudonymous Bosch?

She gave it five out of five baby giraffes.


Friday, August 17, 2012

A Writer's Week #32: Where Are All These Ideas Coming From?

This week was a good week. From a writing standpoint it was mildly productive. I only wrote about 1,000 words this week--half my weekly goal. However, I did have a couple great ideas. But first thing's first.

The Deliverers 2 (still without a real name as I mention every week. Can you tell that bothers me?) is coming along. I'm at about 41,000 words, which is 47 chapters and 182 pages. As I said, my production this week was low and that's because I've run into a bit of a strange problem.

Eric, Hallo and Kate have gone off on one mission, while Stig has gone off on another. That's not a problem--they've been doing that for most of the book. The trouble is, I've written a beautiful climactic scene, and only Hallo is there to witness it. I really like the scene, but it's happened a bit too early.

So now, I'm puzzling over whether it's possible to move that scene until later, or if I should go back to the point where they split up (about 1,500 words) and rewrite things so that they don't break up and all can be present for the big moment, as they should. I have a feeling I know what I'll wind up doing, but I'm going to look at it from every possible angle first. And I thought I was going to take a break from writing on my vacation!

Anyway, I did have a couple of great writing-related ideas this week--one near-term, and one that's more of an idea for the future. The longer range one was an idea I had for a middle grade historical fiction novel. I've always wanted to write one of these types of books, you know something along the lines of My Brother Sam is Dead, or Johnny Tremain.  I had an idea to base it on a battle that took place near where I grew up, but it's going to take a lot of research.

The shorter term idea is more of a risk and requires some background. When I was younger, I was an adult adviser for a high school group at my church. Every year, we would put on an all night retreat for them right before Christmas.There was one point in the retreat around midnight when everyone would go up from the hall into the church and listen to a story like Barrington Bunny or The Velveteen Rabbit.

 One year our Deacon, Bart Mauceri, suggested that I write the story and base it on the theme of that year's retreat. After some convincing, I took up the challenge and did okay. The kids liked it. I wrote a story every year for the next 15 years.

So this weekend I was thinking as I was mowing the lawn. While I was thinking, I ran over a bee's nest and got stung once (my ankle blew up like a balloon--never had that happen with a sting before). But I also came up with a great idea. Why not take some of those stories, edit them, and release them as a little book of inspirational Christmas stories for kids?

Now, my wife will tell you that she suggested the idea five years ago, and that's true. However, at that time, I had no clue how to do it. Now it just seemed like the time was right. That night, I propped my swollen foot up and took a look at those stories. Some were terrible, some needed a lot of editing, but after looking through them, I picked twelve that could be used. I pulled them all into a Word document and it comes to 100 pages--a decent length for a collection of short stories. I went to bed at 3:00 am.

So now I have to get it all edited and get some artwork and have it laid out in time to be released around Thanksgiving. Will I be able to do it? I don't know, but I asked my sister Anne if she would do a few drawings. She really good at drawing animals and she promised to have a few drawings done by the middle of September, so things are moving. I'll let you know what develops next week.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What's Elizabeth Reading? Inheritance

Today I'd like to introduce a new reader to The Deliverers blog. Elizabeth is a 7th grader who really loves to read. She's a friend of our whole family, and she asked if she could talk about what she's reading from time to time. I said sure, why not? Welcome Elizabeth! The more the merrier!

Elizabeth has been reading Inheritance by Christopher Paolini. Let's find out what she thought about it.



Here's what Elizabeth says the book is about.

"Inheritance is the third book in The Inheritance Cycle. Galvatorix took over Alagaesia and he's a corrupt ruler. He killed all the Dragon Riders except one who went into hiding. He trains a new Dragon Rider, Eragon. When Inheritance begins, the Varden are attacking all the cities in  Alagaesia  that have been taken over by Galvatorix. They're trying to kill him.

"Eragon is holding the Varden together. He's a fully trained Dragon Rider by now, and he becomes their leader. He is planning the attack with the help of other members of the Varden. He's also on the front lines fighting.

"In the story, each chapter switches back and forth from Eragon, who is leading all the fantasy creatures, to Eragon's cousin Roran, who is a coleader of the Vardin. He leads the regular people like us. These two sides of the story were really cool and interesting."

What did you like best about the book?

"The part I liked best was how Christopher Paolini described how it felt when Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, felt when they flew together. I could almost feel what it felt like to be flying like that."

Was there anything Elizabeth didn't like about the book?

"I really couldn't find any flaws in it. I really liked the book."

So, how does Elizabeth rate Inheritance by Christopher Paolini?

She gives it five out of five blue dragons.






Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cal Endria's Journal: 11th November, 4169

I've done it! Oh how sweet success, and how near to disaster I came! But wait. Let me gain control of my emotions, for I hardly contain myself. I shall start at the beginning in order to accurately chronicle the course of events.

This morning I met with Sharky. I almost made some excuse and took my leave, as he was in a foul temper. However, I reminded myself that he is always in a foul temper and that faint heart never gained anything, so I cleared my throat and put forth my proposal.

I proposed that Sharky let myself and 48 lads and our families out of our compact to set up a homestead on the land we discovered less than a week ago. In exchange for this, I told him that we would pay a tariff of half of everything produced by our settlement for the next 100 years.

I barely had time to make this proposal when Sharky rose up, trembling with rage and made as if to strike me. I thought that I had reached my end, but he regained control of himself.

I could see his mind working. Then he said, "Endria, I've no use for lily-livered cowards in me crew. I'd as soon kill the lot o' ye, but if ye can carve a civilization out o' that jungle an' provide me with the fruits of yer labor, then I thinks we has a bargain."

With that, we spat in our hands and shook on the bargain. Sharky has agreed to provide us with one of the ships in his fleet, the Rusty Scupper. She is the least seaworthy ship in the fleet and not much of a vessel, but she should get us back to the mainland. 

I immediately went to relay the happy news to my mates, who rejoiced that I had not been killed. Sharky has given us until nightfall to be gone from the fleet, so I must go and coordinate the removal of the families and their possessions to the Scupper. I shall relate our progress in my next entry.

This result has been better than I dared hope. Now we can truly look forward to the promise of a brighter future!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Interview Series: The Shoemaker

Today, I'll be talking with someone who has worked hard all his life just to make ends meet. He may not be rich, but he has never turned away anyone in need--even when it meant that he would have to go without. He's here at The Deliverers Publishing Headquarters to spend some time with us. it's the Shoemaker from The Elves and the Shoemaker.


Greg:  Thanks for coming. I know it must be difficult to take time away from your business.

Shoemaker:  Ah business schmizeness. I could take a month off and it wouldn't matter a bit.

Greg:  So, business is bad?

Shoemaker:  Bad. Bad? Business is terrible. I haven't had one customer come in my shop in a week. They all go to the mall. Hey, how do you expect me to compete with Payless? Quality, no one cares about quality anymore. I tell you, it's almost enough to make me give up cobbling altogether.

Greg:  That's too bad. No one comes in to have their shoes repaired or anything?

Shoemaker:  Repaired? Hah! No one bothers. Why fix 'em when you can get new ones for $19.99? I'll tell you something, though. It wasn't always like this. Back in the old days, quality meant something. There was a time when my shoes were famous throughout the kingdom. People were falling over themselves to buy a pair of my shoes. The king himself was a regular customer.

Greg:  Really? What happened?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What's Christian Reading? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Well, he did it. Last week Christian finished the Harry Potter series. He enjoyed it immensely, but will never admit that his dear old dad was right. I badgered him to read the books, but he took his sweet time about getting around to doing it. Christian really enjoyed the last book of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling.

The last books of series are always happy/sad events. Happy because  finally discover how everything turns out. Sad because that's it, there isn't any more. For me the final Harry Potter installment was sad because it's pretty evident that there won't be a follow up to the series any time soon, if ever.

Anyhow, here's what Christian had to say about the book.


Here's what Christian says the book is about.

"In this book, Harry Potter has to track down Valdemort's Horcruxes so that he can destroy them. Ron and Hermoine go with him. They go to the Ministry to retrieve the first one, a locket. The Ministry has been overthrown by Deatheaters. They manage to get the locket, but then Ron gets jealous and leaves.

"Harry and Hermoine search for the rest. Their search takes them to Godric's Hollow, the town where Harry's parents were killed. Harry finds their graves and his old burned down house. This lady they assume to be Bathilda Bagshott is watching them. She takes them to her house. When she and Harry are alone, she talks. When Hermoine comes in Voldemort's pet snake erupts from Bathilda's neck. Harry and Hermoine escape through a broken window. When they look back they see Voldemort and the snake looking through the same window.

"Back in the forest, Harry sees a silver doe that he assumes to be a petronis. He follows it to a lake and at the bottom of it, he sees a silver glint. It's the sword of Godrick Griffindor. Ron returns and they use the sword to destroy the locket. Then they go off in search of the other Horcruxes.

"That's all I'm going to say. The rest of the book gets really exciting."

What did Christian like most about the book?

"My favorite part was the way the book ended."

Was there anything he didn't like?

"No, I loved everything about it!"

So, how does Christian rate Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling?

Christian gives it five out of five flaming monkey heads.