Saturday, March 30, 2013

A-Z Blog Challenge Begins Monday April 1

A to Z Challenge [2013]Monday begins the A-Z blog challenge.

My topic is Ghosts: Real, Imagined, and Metaphorical.

Most, to be honest will be metaphorical in that I’ll be telling tales of people from my past who are no longer with us.  Four will be my father, mother, grandmother and sister.

Other ghosts will be of memories or stories that haunt me.

I’ll have some that will be a stretch, to be sure, but I’ll try to make them work.

I don’t have them all written yet, and that’ll be a part of the challenge. One every day of the week except Sunday (catch up day), with the topics being lettered consecutively from A – Z.

I’m thinking they’ll range in length from 100 – 1,000 words, and I promise to warn you of language issues in case you’d prefer to skip it.  Other than that, I’ll have no “adult content.”

Here are some blogs I'm following ... all three great, BTW.  Jodie  #1177  Dawn #1017  Jagger #1018

I must warn you that Jagger is Adult Content, but it's GREAT Adult Content.

My number is #1212.

For a list of the other blogs go to...

My first topic will be A – Adoption.

Check it out starting Monday evening.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Next Big Thing Interview

Bonnie, a friend of mine from the Wayward Writers, tagged me for this interview.  Thanks, Bonnie!  And I will be searching for folks to tag.

1) What is the working title of your book?

Emmie.  Which happens to be the name of the ghost in the novel.  Agents and editors both told me at the San Francisco Writers Conference that the title sucked wind.  I quietly wondered whether they would have told Jane Austen that Emma was a bad name for a novel. 

Oh, well. 

If they'll put it on the bookshelf they can name it what they like.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

I've loved ghost stories since childhood, though that's beside the point.  On the way from visiting friends in Rogers, Arkansas, June 2012, I listened to the audio book "On Writing" with Stephen King himself reading.  I metaphorically closed my eyes (or I would have been roadkill) and pretended that he spoke directly to me and me alone.

I had the idea by the time I got home.  "What if a middle-aged bachelor bought a house haunted by the ghost of a woman who'd been brutalized by men in her lifetime?"

I began writing that very day.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

I would have thought "Paranormal Romance," but have since been told that I break too many rules of that genre for it to "fit in."  One agent I spoke with in San Francisco encouraged me to think of it as a Gothic Romantic Mystery.

Hey, as long as it sells, they can call it French toast.  Or the Rocky Genre.  I'm not real picky about this.

I actually think of it as an old-fashioned ghost story.

4) What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I've thought about this since I'm convinced (perhaps arrogantly) that the novel lays great for a movie.  Not an Oscar-winner, but a pretty good yarn.

Tommy Lee Jones as my middle-aged bachelor Will.  Amy Adams as the ghost Emmie.  Robert Di Niro as the jerk-of-a-brother Gene (if he can pull off a southern accent), Stockard Channing as Will's sister Lizzy and Alfre Woodard as Lizzy's partner Carla.

And I would cast my good friend and former acting coach Spencer Milligan to play Cornbread.  At 75, he is, technically, a tad young for the role, but he could pull it off big-time!

5) What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I provided a version of this a little earlier with the "what if," but let's have another go. "A middle-aged bachelor retires and buys a house haunted by the ghost of a woman murdered on the grounds in 1902 with whom he falls in love."

I know.  It's not the best one-liner out there, to be sure.  I'll continue working on it.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I would prefer to walk down the traditional road with agent and editor at a publishing house, but self-publishing has come along so much these last few years as a viable option for writers, that I will keep an open mind.  I've actually considered self-publishing one or two of my short stories on Amazon or Barnes and Noble to get my writing out there.

I may do that yet.

7) How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Six weeks to the day.  At 74,000 words, it served more as an elaborate outline than a true first draft, but I've never written anything faster or with as much passion.  And, all things considered, it turned out better than I could have hoped.  The characters presented themselves to me and I followed their lead.

From it, I had the basic plot and subplots and the characterizations.

8) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Every campfire ghost story I've ever heard.  Every ghost story I've ever read.  Every ghost story I've ever seen at the movies or on television.  And every novelist I've ever read from Jane Austen to Suzanne Collins, from Daniel Defoe to Stephen King.

Most importantly, though, every one of my friends who have encouraged me over the years to keep at it, to keep telling my stories without sacrificing myself has inspired me.  To all of them, I offer a heartfelt thank you.

9) What about the book might pique the reader's interest?

How a live man and the ghost of a woman can make love.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Guests Who Never Checked Out


How better to research a ghost story than to stay at a haunted hotel? 

If you’ve read past entries, you know I’m writing a novel length ghost story.  Last October I stayed three nights in the 1886 Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, generally considered to America’s most haunted hotel.

Strictly for the research, you understand.

The place has quite a history, at one time in the late 30’s having been converted to a hospital that guaranteed a cure for cancer.

No wonder it’s haunted.

Saturday night after taking the ghost tour (and experiencing nothing out of the ordinary), I retreated to my room to write a while before bed.  As the hotel had WiFi (which I had used several times without incident), I decided to listen to some tunes from YouTube.  I tried for Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” since that was the song I associated with my novel’s ghost.

What popped up on my screen I’d never seen before, nothing but a white background full of letters and characters.

As that didn’t work I tried another song, this one “Superman” by Five For Fighting.  Same screen.  Funny that I no trouble getting to any other website, including the one for the Crescent itself.

I poured a glass of wine pondering why YouTube was the one site I couldn't access.

Or was it?

I returned to the computer and tried accessing YouTube directly from Google.  No problem.

I tried another song, this one a country song from the sixties. Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man."

No sale.

Well, maybe the hotel didn’t like modern songs, I thought.  Not expecting anything beyond another failed effort, I tried for an older song.  My first thought was "Let Me Call You Sweetheart."  I found the 1911 recording by Henry Burr and The Peerless Quartet, a grand old song.  Below is the link.

It played all the way through without incident.  I tried again for “Lights.” Another screen full of gibberish.  How about another oldie, but goodie, I thought.  I tried “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” recorded in 1908 by Edward Meeker.

Check it out, particularly if you want to hear the actual lyrics.

It played all the way through as well.

Still no “Lights” or “Superman” or anything since William Howard Taft was President.

I sent a text to a friend.  “Weird things are happening.  Can’t play modern music.  The ghosts are stopping me.”

My friend texted back.  “Ask permission.”

Whoa.  What a concept.

I looked toward the ceiling.  “May I play ‘Lights’ by Ellie Goulding?  Please?”

To my amazement, I could but nothing else this side of WWI.

“May I play ‘Superman’ by Five For Fighting?”

Not even a buffering pause.

Hey, what a concept.  With specific permission, my laptop treated me to a concert.

The powers, however, did not grant a general dispensation.  One song at a time, please.

Failure to secure a blessing, and the white screen of gibberish appeared.

All I could do was shake my head, and thank the guests who never checked out for their kind cooperation.

For my next entry, I was tagged by a friend to do an interview called "The Next Big Thing."  In it, I will answer nine questions about my novel, then post it here and then post link on my Facebook page and the one for Wayward Writers.

Starting April 1, I will be participating in the A-Z Blog Challenge on this spot.  One post every day except Sunday.  My topic is “Ghosts:  Real, Imagined, and Metaphorical” and will be exactly that up to and including ghosts from my past, people I've loved who are no longer with us, and yes ... ghosts.

Since that will entail 26 posts during the month, some will be short.  I will tell you that A in the A-Z will be “Adoption.”

Hope to see y’all then!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Back In The Saddle

A good friend, by creating her blog, inspired me to continue mine.

I made my last entry in August just before starting draft two of Emmie at a lovely bed and breakfast in stunning Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

I’ve been there twice since that entry, the second time staying at the haunted 1886 Crescent Hotel, for research purposes, don’t you know.  More on that in another post.

And here I am the day before St. Patrick’s Day, less than a hundred pages from completing draft three.

I’ve never had a more enjoyable ride in the writing world.  A few have equaled it, like typing the words “The End” to my first completed manuscript (horrible though it was), but none has exceeded it.

The more Emmie has taught me about herself and her life, the more I’ve come to love her.  In some ways she reminds me of my late sister, in others of various friends I’ve had over time.

But she lives as unique in my imagination.

With the wonderful help of my “live” writers group in Cleburne, Texas called The Writerie, the amazing Wayward Writers headed by Ariel Gore of which I’m a proud member, and other wonderful friends, she is taking shape.

One person I met accused me of being a religious zealot with this story, and that bothered me somehow.

I’ve tried hard (and succeeded to my mind) in keeping religion out.  Being a ghost tale, by definition, presents an afterlife, but only twice do I mention a specific religion.  First is to say that Emmie is buried in the cemetery behind the First Baptist Church.

And in the part of the country I live in, a small town is composed of a gas station, post office, four Dairy Queens, and a First Baptist Church.

The second is that a character is in Methodist Hospital.

That’s it.

What’s a writer to do?

I’ve poured myself into this story, and I promise to be more diligent with this blog regarding that world and other writerly and/or readerly musings.  If I am to interest you in its contents, than my job is to be a consistent contributor.

Next week, I’ll post about my experience in the haunted hotel.


Have a great week!