Sharing a Story Part…

July 19, 2014

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I’m recovering from surgery last Wednesday to repair a torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder. It’s fairly painful, even with meds, and you might think that would make typing a bit tough.

Actually, it does … but I wrote this a few days before the surgery, and scheduled publication for today so it would seem like things were going along just fine.

But what kind of sympathy would I get for that? ;-)

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bow made of pink lace

My Kirkus Review
To say I was on “pins and needles” waiting for the recent Kirkus Review for my debut novel, REICHOLD STREET, would be putting things mildly, to say the least.

Kirkus Reviews … long considered the book industry’s most ferocious trade publication … has long had a reputation for lively, unpredictable reviews that are sometimes outlandishly harsh.

However, I was delighted to get this comment from them about the book: “Skillfully written and emotionally charged.”

They also had this to say about a section that deals with Anthony, one of the minor characters:

“…told by a Reichold Street kid lured by organized crime, it makes a fine stand-alone story.”

I thought I would share a small portion of that section with you, and let you decide for yourself …

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I don’t know exactly why the detective was getting paid by Sam, but I knew, like me, it probably wasn’t for something on the level. I didn’t say anything and I stayed in Sam’s good graces.

However, like I said, life can change on a dime. I’d heard that said so many times and I knew I’d hit one of those dimes. I apparently screwed up something and wasn’t getting any more assignments.

Sam was angry.

“He don’t like no wrong info, Rat,” Train told me. He looked at me like I was a fish in a bowl.

“I didn’t give him any bad information.”

“Anthony, Anthony,” Train said as he squinted at me just like Sam, “was it not you who told us Albert Parker was back in town?”

“Yeah, I guess I did.”

“And did we not try to pop the wrong mark?”

I didn’t know they had tried to kill Albert. That information scared the hell out of me. I just looked at Train without answering.

“Did you, Anthony, forget to include one important detail?”

“What?”

“Like Parker was already dead.”

“How was I to know when they said Albert was back they were talking about his body being back here for his funeral?”

“It’s what Sam pays you for.”

“So I screwed up.”

“Sam don’t like screw ups,” Train said.

He put one beefy hand into the other and cracked his knuckles. He switched them around and cracked the knuckles on the other hand. The sound seemed to echo in the small room.

Beads of perspiration broke out on my forehead. “It was one time,” I said, “One time.”

“Big Sam put a lot of effort into following up on your bogus chinwag,” Train said. “A lot of money, too. He even paid you quite handsomely, remember?”

“Does he want the money back?” I asked. “I’ll give it back. I don’t want to get paid for bad information.”

“Sam don’t want no money back,” Train said. “That’s the least of his worries. He’s got a lot of heat comin’ down on him from the local Mounties because of you and your bad noise. It’s costing him big time.”

I thought of the detective Sam had been paying and imagined I understood.

“Sam don’t like that very much,” Train said.

“I didn’t mean to cause any problem.”

“He also had to crush one of his favorite rides,” Train said. “They were sweet wheels. You got no idea how much that messed with his head.” Train cracked his knuckles again. “Sam don’t like to do shit like that. Thinks it’s a waste.”

“So what’s he gonna do? Have you shoot me?”

I was really afraid of the answer. I hoped Train didn’t see me turn toward the door, although I was pretty sure it wouldn’t have made much difference if he did.

“No, fool, nothin’ as drastic as that. He got no reason to pop a cap on you…yet. You can still be valuable.”

I breathed a little easier, but only for a moment.

“He did, however, take the liberty of showing you he means business,” Train mused.

“How?” I inhaled without exhaling.

“He had me gank something important to you.”

“Like what,” I said.

Train tossed an oversized pink bow on the table and my heart must have stopped. In my memory it floated from Train’s beefy fist in a high arc toward the table. It seemed to spin when it landed for such a long time.

There was a sudden rush of air, followed by a loud noise. It took me a moment to realize it was my scream.

“NO-O-O!”

I fell to my knees, and started to sob like a baby.

It was Edith’s bow.

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You can find my books as eBooks or paperback on Amazon, or at Barnes & Noble. You’re also invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or like my Book of Face page. You can also follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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Comments posted below will be greatly appreciated.

Who Said Write What You Know?

July 13, 2014

Writing w computer

Write What You Know
Personally, I think that’s bogus advice without more explanation, but being told don’t write what you know” might panic new writers, for two reasons:

First, like most of us, the very nature of our life experience necessarily means we know an awful lot (or think we do).

I’ve met indie authors who are still teenagers, some who are war veterans, professional actors, former psychiatric patients … and a few who are certified geniuses.

They are all endlessly interesting people and their lives are indeed brimming with uniquely compelling experiences.

Second, again like most of us, we’ve been encouraged for as long as we can remember to write that way. We’ve been told over-and-over by well-meaning, if misinformed, articles and teachers: Write what you know.

I don’t know the origin of that logic. A lot of folks attribute it to Hemingway, who is often quoted as saying:

“From all the things you know, and all those which you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing, truer than anything true and alive.”

But I don’t think he’s saying “write what you know.”

Check it out again. I think he’s really saying stories aren’t about actions or things directly from your life.

Stories are inventions drawing upon experience of all kinds … some directly from life, some inferred from the good writing of others, and still others dredged up from our well of imagination.

Stories are things and actions unto themselves.

Write what you know. Without the further explanation that it’s the invention you bring to your writing that’s the difference between fiction that matters only to those who know the author, and fiction that … well … matters, is no explanation at all.

That’s a shame, because it’s only the characters we create … those constructions of imagination that transcend our biases, agendas, memories and egos, that can stand the test of time.

Remember
For your characters to actually seem like people, you have to give them traits your readers can identify with for the story to work. All of your readers have experienced love, fear, hate, envy or curiosity, just as you do.

You may have your characters believe their ailments are caused by evil spirits, but they still should feel the same pain, fear and anxiety we all do, if you want them to be believable.

When you write, trust your powers of empathy and invention. Trust the examples of authors you love to read and trust that your craft, when braided with compassion, will produce stories that matter … both to you and to readers you may never meet.

So, take what you know and filter it through your imagination … and through the knowledge you’ve gleaned in your own reading, research and life experience.

The next time you hear “write what you know,” you’ll realize you know an awful lot about what matters most in a story’s success.

It’s only waiting to be shaped by your imagination.

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I recently received the Kirkus Review for my novel REICHOLD STREET: Skillfully written and emotionally charged!
Read the full review here.

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You can find my books as eBooks or paperback on Amazon, or at Barnes & Noble. You’re also invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or like my Book of Face page. You can also follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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