Books, Editing, Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing

Ironing Out the Wrinkles in a Plot

In some ways publishing Fried Windows in May of last year created a few paradoxes for the main character Brent. WARNING: If you haven’t read the book, you might want to before continuing on. I’m about to reveal some things about the plot.

There are some relationships Brent and characters in my other novels, particularly Andy Hunter, Terry Harper, Lee Anders Johnston and Caroline Henderson from One Over X (two of six books published) and The Power of X (as yet unpublished). There is also a loose connection between the mother  in Becoming Thuperman and Terry Harper – as they attended high school together. Brent meets Terry Harper while he attends Purdue University where the latter is pursuing aa doctorate in applied physics and eventually becomes a professor before taking a tenured position at the University of Texas.

Brent and Lee Anders Johnston hale from neighboring towns in rural Ohio. Both were musicians in their teen years. Brent actually played bass for a brief while in a band that Lee led. Lee was best friends with the lead guitar from Brent’s garage band – which is how they met. Ironically, as they were both the sons of farmers, their fathers knew one another, though not very well.

After the disintegration of Brent’s garage band over an issue about performing a Rock Opera Brent wrote for his senior English project – a piece on Beowulf – Brent and Lee perform an acoustic set at the Christmas party of a friend of Brent. It is the last time Brent and Lee perform together for nearly twenty years, though the two of them conspired during their connection to compose a few songs that will end up reuniting them in later years – and reinvigorating Lee’s career as a professional musician.

Lee departs Rock as his vehicle of musical  expression and begins playing Blues with a couple of musicians while he attends Purdue University – where he studies Engineering and meets Terry Harper, his professor of physics. In Lee’s Junior year at Purdue his folks sell their farm in Ohio and retire to Texas. Lee transfers to the University of Texas. The following year, Terry Harper is offered a tenured position at UT, based on his recently published best seller on astral physics the university. And, so Lee and Terry reconnect at UT and the Lee changes his major to physics.

While in Austin and immersed in the vibrant artistic community, Lee joins a country band called Faction. At a bar in Austin he meets Caroline Henderson, the daughter of Joseph Henderson, CEO of HENCO. They share a few dates before establishing a relationship.

When Lee is offered a research job in Colorado, three of the original members of the band follow him there. They form the nucleus of a new Faction that lands a recording contract. Lee and Caroline have a long distance relationship until she completes college.

To pursue his musical career,  Lee quits his job and accompanies the band to Memphis where they record their first album.  Then, against her father’s protests, Caroline joins Lee and goes on tour with Faction, actually performing with the band as a background singer.

So, where is Andy Hunter is all this? Anyone who has read One Over X, knows that both Andy and Lee have a relationship in another version of reality, where both work for Henco. Lee works at a product assembly facility while Andy is a coder for the instructions loaded into the devices the company makes. The company’s CEO is Caroline Henderson who took up the reins when her father, Joseph Henderson passed away – never knowing she is to the Andy who was born of an unwed mother who used to work for the Hendersons.

In the other world, the one where Caroline and Andy grew up as siblings, Andy studies applied physics at UT Austin and becomes enamored with Dr. Harper to the point that he begins writing a boot about him. In the process he attempts to create a device based on Harper’s hypotheses that can cancel out the effects of the electromagnetic fields of the Earth – theoretically opening portals to every other dimension.

The powers that be – as in the Universal Powers That Be – are not amused with Andy’s devise of how it throws a significant distortion into the over all matrix of fabricated reality – the shell they created as the distracting illusion of life. With it Andy can, pretty much, go wherever he wants – as long at he knows his destination. Therein lies the rub.  Andy knows that the device can do but doesn’t understand it’s potential. And in the process of exploring it he becomes genetically altered to be more like an extraterrestrial ancestor of humanity than a man.

Brent is a transplanted straddler, born into the world to correct the problems Andy will eventually cause. He gets sidetracked with his own issues and adventures but, moreover, he is intended to defeat Andy’s modification to the design. Brent is naturally drawn toward the people he needs to connect with in order to fix things. Yet he is uncooperative in dealing directly with any of his new found friends.  As a result, Andy changes many things both for Earth and Anter’x, a directly connect world – via wormholes – on the other side of the galaxy. There the wolfcats thrive – for a while anyway, along with a primordial ancestor of humanity called the Hovdin and a race called Sabatin that enslaved the Hovdin for a time.

In The Attributes, a two book set that I wrote a while back, all the timelines and plot lines are resolved. Imagine that! Me crop 2

 

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Feeding The Need

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Those of us who write understand the gnawing of an idea that enters our consciousness through a dream or, perhaps, a simple crazy, disjointed, random thought that occurs during any given day. Eventually, it can lead to a story. That story may be several pages, a novel or several novels. But that is pretty-much how the process begins. And it isn’t like you can ignore the impulse to write. If you try, it will make you ill or turn you into an alcoholic. There is no other option but to write until having writ you can move on – usually to the next warped idea that comes to mind.

As a published author one of the frequently asked questions is: ‘When did you first know that what you were writing was a novel.” I have to qualify some things before I answer that, with regard to my present novel in release, Fried Windows (In a Light White Sauce). Unlike the other thirty-some-odd manuscripts I have archived somewhere or the other, FW started out to be a collection of short stories. Those stories had recurring characters and the world – or rather universe – was shared. But when I wrote FW in draft it was sixteen separate short stories. At some point, fairly close to when I decided to submit it to Pandamoon Publishing, I decided to stitch it together as a novel. After that effort there were a couple of other chapters feathered into the story, just so that it made some sense and had flow as well as a story arc. Even so, I submitted what are the first two chapters to an online magazine. Independently a friend edited them, gratis – which was all I could afford. I loved her suggestions and went with most of them. The result: I submitted the two chapters as a single short story, fully expecting it to become my launch pad, a series submitted as installments to the magazine. At some point I would assemble the whole into a collection. That was my idea, anyway.

I was pretty much homeless at the time, and would have lived on the streets if not for the accommodations and largess of my brother-in-law and oldest sister. I did odd jobs for him as a way of paying my keep. But mainly I wrote and made great progress on a lot of that manuscripts I had never had the time to deal with while working 55+ hours a week as a retail manager.

I was not in a good place after what most have termed a mental meltdown. Of course, I don’t see it that way. Leaving my last previous job made all the sense in the world because. I honestly believe, I’d be dead by now had I not done so. After living in my brother-in-law’s house for nearly a year he delivered an ultimatum about my writing: sell something, or find a real job – as in anything that pays a weekly wage.

He and I have very different perspectives on money.

He has always believed I was my father’s prodigal son. I have always understood that money is as worthless as the paper it is printed on – a more durable sort of toilet paper, actually, especially so if  the majority of people ever bother to consult Webster’s as to the definition of fiduciary – which defines our monetary system. My sister got in the middle of all that. Of course, she loves me as her baby brother. But the reality of my situation put a lot of stress on her, and I appreciated that. I was divorced. My ex-wife pretty much sapped all my savings away in the process of paying debts for an ill-fated business venture. We filed for bankruptcy just before we divorced.

I’m not blaming her for everything here. There were more than enough errors to go around. But had I done what I wanted to do instead of listening to her, I think things might have turned out better. But, then, really, who knows?

What I am certain of is that my kids were better off for having experienced the negative side of happens to an otherwise apparently successful, affluent married couple. We had the $300k home in Connecticut. Paid cash for it. We had cars we owned outright as well. My company was making money and selling my stock options afforded me a lifestyle I had not yet earned. Our kids were attending the best school system in the state. But, within the course of a year and a half, it all unraveled. The tragedy took a few more years to fully play-out, but that when the decline started,around the time I was hospitalized for endocarditis.

I had open heart surgery in May of 1995 to repair a failing mitral valve. As I was recovering I was following O. J. Simpson’s trial on TV. I died seven times during the surgery. I would have never known that had I not needed to fax the transcripts of the surgery to the insurance carrier. They were disputing everything, of course. From my side of the experience, I had a couple of very long and persistent bizarre dreams during that experience. And those are also incorporated into The Wolfcat Chronicles, a series I have under contract with Pandamoon Publishing.

I toyed with writing for most of my life. I wrote a manuscript called Tarot while I was in college. Some of that lead directly to The Wolfcat Chronicles. I really and honestly believed Tarot would be published. I retyped it – you had to use typewriter back then – and allowed someone, a friend I respected, to read it. I expected her to tell me, “I love it send it away to a publisher now!” What she told me was a bit more sobering. “This is really a great rough draft. What you need to do is find a good editor.”

Dream shaken but not shattered. I still have that manuscript in a box somewhere about. I have consulted it several times over the years whenever I was beset with excessive hubris. It grounds me. Think of it as the portrait of Dorian Gray that is kept in the attic.

I went on a hiatus from writing fiction while I served it the USAF as a crypto-linguist and unit historian. In that secondary role I composed a 400+ page document that is, technically, my first published work. The distribution was exclusive to those with Top Secret SCI clearances. Maybe four or five people every looked at it. It won an award though. So, at some point, I assume someone must have read it. As odd as it might seem for a fiction writer, that was the impetus for me to pursue my other stories.  All of it came into resolute focus when I was recovering for the surgery. I needed to do something as a legacy for my children if not for myself.

It’s been a long and often frustrating journey spanning twenty years to this point. Fried Windows completes one part of my life and begets another, the life of a published author. Imagine that!

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Update: What A Month – Or Two

Here I go again, apologizing for the absence of posts lately. I’ll use the tried and true excuse – I was busy – because that is true. But a number of things converged to contribute. For one thing, I am posting to a group blog with other Pandamoon Publishing authors. The link is accessible from the website at http://www.pandamoonpublishing.com . Most of what I will post there is concerning the publishing and editing process. Here I plan to continue discussing other things, mostly the progress on writing books and such, but other things of interest.

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As you may recall, back in April I purchased a new computer, a Surface Pro 3. Although I love the computer I had some issues with it after installing a preview version of Windows 10. And a wrestling match with Microsoft began. The end result of that was a replacement of the tablet.

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Once more I am playing with Windows 10, albeit a more refined version. The actual release is scheduled for July 29, so the builds are pretty close to finished product. I can tell you that the build I am currently using, (10130) is almost ready for prime time. There are a couple of annoying things about it, an error I receive at shutdown for one) but, otherwise, it is remarkably stable.

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I replaced a MacBook Pro as mu primary computer. I had intended to continue using the MBP for writing but it has an issue with its battery swelling up so I have not used it much over the past two months. I had occasion to boot it up the other day to look for a file and I have to tell you that my Surface Pro 3 is so much faster. I know a lot of that has to do with the access times for the Hard Drive. The Surface has flash memory as a hard drive. The MBP has a 5400 RPM disc drive. You’re talking about factors of 100 to 1000 times in speed for pulling stuff from the drive. Boot up on the Surface Pro 3 is less than ten seconds. The MBP takes over a minute. Also, there is so many background operations running on the MBP that it takes forever – it seems – for it to be ready to use once it has booted up. I could disable everything and it would run faster, I suppose. But what’s the point now that I don’t use it. I’m considering removing the battery and using it again, though. I just haven’t gotten around to that. It is a future project. But, for now, the Surface Pro 3 is my primary computer.

I’ve been working more hours for the past several months, so I don’t have as much free time. I have been reading, catching up on some of the manuscripts I have promised to read and comment on for other authors. I have a new favorite author, by the way. Laura Ellen Scott has a book coming out later this year titled The Juliet. You will be reading that one, I promise.  Later this month Jeff Messick’s long-awaited Knights Of The Shield is being released. That’s a supernatural cop thriller. It ranks high on my recommended reads list. Rose Montague has a new book coming out as well. I still have to read that one, but I will because there is a namesake character in it – all part of the global scheme of making Elgon a common name. Yeah, it will take a while before it appears on the label of a Coke bottle.

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I have been rediscovering music from the 70’s. So expect a couple of upcoming blogs posts about that. Otherwise, over the next several months while I am working on edits for BT and the first book of The Wolfcat Chronicles, I will be writing a sequel for Becoming Thuperman and one for Fried Windows as well. So expect progress reports on those.

#BecomingThuperman, #TheWolfcatChronicles #FriedWindows #MacBookPro #SurfacePro3, #Update

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Origin of Pandaman

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The other day someone, a stranger, referred to me as Pandaman. I was amused and actually flattered. I’ve always liked pandas. But the reason for calling me Pandaman was more interesting. It seems there is a little girl somewhere in cyberland who wakes up daily and wants her mommy to show her the pandas. And so, the lady logs onto her Facebook account and hopes that I have posted my daily panda pictures. Now that I have a fan I also have an obligation to continue my posts.

It’s funny in a way that a little girl refers to me as the Pandaman though it certainly fits into the grand scheme, I suppose. I have been posting pictures of cute pandas now for well over a year. The reason I began was to gain some attention to my FB account. And my oldest sister, who also loves pandas, sort of suggested I do it.

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I started posting a daily picture. Then, after a couple of weeks, I began posting multiple pictures of certain days of the. A few months passed and I started posting daily multiple pictures, first five and now six. I’ve been doing the six picture thing now for several months.

I’m not sure how many people actually see the pictures. There’s no simple way of appraising that with FB’s weird and warped algorithms that throttle one'[s ability to send anything out to everyone – even those who are listed as friends. I post the pictures on FB to my main account which is under the user name “elgone” and to my Google + account which is under my real name. I guess that somewhere between a few dozen to maybe as many as a couple of hundred people see them on a daily basis. But knowing there is a little girl anxiously waiting to see my daily post seems to matter more to me than anything else.

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Most of you know I write professionally. My publisher is Pandamoon Publishing, so there is the panda connection if you were seeking one, though in truth one of the reasons I submitted a book, Fried Windows, to Pandamoon in the first place was that I like wore to a Jim Gaffigan concert and had the comedian autograph. In his routine he did a joke about pandas. Anyway, in the world of being and only Elgon, all of that fits together into a neat ball that I’ve adorned with a nice bow. That’s how I became Pandaman, I guess – at least in the eyes of a little girl somewhere.

#Pandas #Pandaman #PandamoonPublishing #FriedWindows

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My Crazy, Busy Life – Lately

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The sequel for Fried Windows is progressing slowly between my increased hours at my day job and doing some promotional things for others. I’m beginning the new story in the middle and working my way out to the beginning and the conclusion. That’s how I write sometimes, starting in the middle, usually with a conversation. In this one, Brent is talking to Strawb who is chiding him for having done something incredibly stupid – in her estimation, of course.

There are actually multiple beginnings for the story just because of the nature of the tale and what happened to Brent Woods at the conclusion of Fried Windows. That’s the hard part, connecting the stories together. I’ve done the easy part, writing the rest of the story – pretty much.

Yesterday my youngest daughter asked me about Becoming Thuperman’s release date. I told her it had been pushed back a bit in the queue to allow for the first two installments of The Wolfcat Chronicles. Throwing a Fried Windows sequel into that mix right now would only further confuse things and create a bigger bottleneck in my publisher’s editing and production bandwidth. There are other projects from other authors, after all. As publicist, I’m reading those books now so I know what we will be promoting. There are some very good books coming from Pandamoon, folks.

Anyway, my daughter has a draft of the the BT manuscript now and hopefully she’ll give me some feedback on it after she reads it. I know it needs a haircut in editing. So, in an effort to fix some things I’ve started a new revision and will be working on that in the background as I’m doing the FW sequel…and everything else. I need to do a revision anyway before BT goes into substantive editing, which is the first stage of the process of transforming a raw manuscript into a novel.

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I’ve been thinking about drafting the sequel to Becoming Thuperman, titled Being Thuperman. I figure I’ll be in the mood and fully up to date with the plot issues and such at the conclusion of a new revision session. I haven’t worked on the manuscript since submitting it back in October 2014. The contract for it was signed in December. And I have revised all ten books of The Wolfcat Chronicles since the last time I worked on Becoming Thuperman.

In other news about my crazy life, it’s been raining a good bit lately. I’ve been fortunate not needing to navigate the 4.5 miles to and from work on my bike in a downpour. I have a 20 to 25 minute window of riding time (including wait times at traffic lights). So far I’ve been very lucky. Sooner or later I will be soaked though. Getting drenched on my way home isn’t as bad as having it happen not he way to work, though. Walking around for a whole shift in wet underwear is a drag.

I have a rain poncho but it is mainly a thin excuse for a garbage bag. I’ll have to get something better, I guess. When the wind catches the plastic of what I have it flaps in the breeze and exposes my backside, It was sprinkling a good bit on my ride home last night. The only thing good about it was that it wasn’t raining harder.

In Florida we have periods of rain when it is coming down so hard that people can’t see to drive – regardless how fast their windshield wipers are running. Imagine that on a bike at 20 miles per hour – which means at least 20 miles per hour wind in the face constantly.

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Tomorrow morning (4/18/15) I’ll be heading up to the University of Central Florida Book Festival on campus (about 5 miles north of where I live). Hopefully it won’t be raining as I’ll be riding my bike there My friend and fellow Pandamoon Publishing author, Steph Post, will be appearing there as a panelist. She needs to autograph my copy of her book. After all, I am one of her publicists. I think I should have a signed copy, right?

In the wacky world of Internet based operations, I have never personally met Steph. I have conversed with her a few times over the Internet both in text and via a program that allows sharing audio. We have spoken over the phone a time or two as well. She is an interesting young lady with a remarkable writing talent. Her debut novel, A Tree Born Crooked is one of the best novels I’ve read in the past year.

The Book Festival is from 10 AM to 3:30AM and it is being held in the School of Education portion of the UCF campus that is just so North Alafaya Trail in eastern Orlando.

#StephPost #ATreeBornCrooked #FriedWindows #UCFBookFestival #BecomingThuperman #Writing #Sequels #PandamoonPublishing

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Plans For Fried Windows Sequel

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At the conclusion of Fried Windows it’s fairly clear, I think, that a sequel is coming. In fact, there are several other books I’ve written that carry on Brent Woods’ story, though only Fried Windows and a piece about his early college experiences are told in first person. There was a bit, about a chapter and a half of material from the original ending of Fried Windows that I removed in an early revision. My publisher and editor haven’t seen that part yet. The reason for its removal was that it felt anticlimactic. Really it was the beginning of another story, anyway. So I thought of it as a starting point for launching a sequel except…

There are several things Brent must yet accomplished in the Inworld. And there is a good bit he will be doing in the Outworld before he is at a time and place necessary for the linking of his storyline to that of The Wolfcat Chronicles, in which he also appears. Most of that has been worked out long ago as part of the twenty or so manuscripts I have written over the past dozen years. The missing piece is the sequel to Fried Windows, which is about 75% written. I’m working not he other 25%.

In the sequel we learn a lot more about Brent’s past associations with The Program, his role in the covert organization and the reason for his resignation and departure from the organization. We also meet a couple of the back characters that influence the events in The Wolfcat Chronicles. So the book is important for providing many connections between the storylines.

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Originally I drafted a beginning for the sequel, tentatively titled Ninja Bread Cookies, that picks up directly from where Fried Windows ends. But you see, that is not really how the story flows. There are vital pieces of information missing that the reader needs about the relationships between Brent/Carlos, Lord Cecil, Strawb and Lucy. In the process of escaping disaster Brent causes a number of other problems for himself that must be resolved and he needs help from his friends – some of whom are still connected with The Program. As many issues as he has with Forsyth, Sullivan and others yet to be introduced, Brent was very good at what he did – perhaps too good for his own good. Brent knows things that The Program prefers not to have revealed. It has been the reason for their monitoring his activities and, also, it has been the leverage Brent needed to get what he wanted from The Program in the past – that chance at having a somewhat normal life, if only for a brief span.

Forsyth and the others want to use Brent’s past against him as a means of preventing him the credibility he would need to expose their secrets. And they are good enough at what they do to have created a good deal of doubt even in Brent’s mind as to his sanity. So, if you thought Fried Windows was a wild ride of unbridled imagination, imagine seeing the world through the eyes of a lunatic, where nothing is real except that for the moment anything is perceived.

The reason for the revision to the ending of The Wolfcat Chronicles was largely related to the sequel for Fried Windows. Anyone who read the original ending of TWC would find that a part of the story was removed, a piece that connected everything to a reality apart and outside, where the creator lived. The way the ending is now leaves that connection to the imagination of the reader – probably for the best. Also the ending makes it clear how the world of the Wolfcats is related to Brent’s world.

#FriedWindows #TheWolfcatChronicles #NinjaBreadCookies #NovelsInProgress #NewBooks

 

 

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Fried Windows Anniversaries

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There are a lot of three year anniversaries going on for me. One that recently past was February 22, the day I left retail management. The next is the day I quit drinking alcohol, which is March 13, next Friday. The following day was when I wrote a poem about being a kid and going to a carnival. I posted that to FanStory on the same day. The following day I began writing the first draft of a short story that would evolve into the first two chapters of Fried Windows.

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Three years ago was a period of transition and adjustment in many ways. It was a necessary break with my past and my previous career. One can play at writing and pretend to be an author but there is always a point of no return, isn’t there? There is the defining moment when the hobby that becomes an habit transcends everything else you do. Then it is your profession and all else takes a back seat to it. At least that is how it happened for me.

Certainly an writer can write without becoming an author. It was a formative stage that I went through. I suppose it could have been much shorter had I ever admitted to myself that writing was pretty much the only thing I have ever wanted to do with my life. Everything else I did was an interruption or a means of self denial. It is far easier to be something else than to admit to being a writer. Still writers will always write, finding some way to exorcise the demons.

When I don’t write it is a refusal to submit to the urge. I tend to have bizarre dreams. Some might call them nightmares, but, believe me, when I used to have nightmares they were much worse. I have not had a true nightmare – one of those wake up with terror in cold sweat experiences – in over thirty-three years. The last was in the afternoon of the twenty-fifth birthday.

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I’m not sure why I haven’t had nightmares since, except that I know how to wake up within a dream. It was something that, like Brent Woods in Fried Windows, I learned from my inner self. I wake up within a nightmare before it gets too bad, I guess. The foolishness ends, at any rate, and I move on to discovering other sleep-induced delusions. What I have learned, though, is that if I write a lot or at least regularly the strangeness of my dreams emerges into the stories and I do not suffer the experiences in my sleep. There’s a balance to be struck, of course.

Lately I’ve been working so much and writing so little that I have returned to having strange and vivid dreams. I’m sure some of those will find their ways into my writing. You see, I have recurring dreams. Some of related to other dreams and over time they connect into one another. It’s almost like my sleeping mind is piecing together a story and telling it to me before i actually sit down and write it. Granted, some of the stories are silly and after considering them I don’t bother with writing them, but certain elements of the dreams may wind up woven into this or that story. Other times the dreams are informative or illustrative of the complexities of what I perceive around me in my waking times. The other night I had one about the current corruption in national politics and how major corporations control our elected officials. No news there, really, just an understanding of how it works in a way I’d never considered quick so clearly as in my dream.

In dreams each of us is the star performer. I think that is why in some ways writing in first person is more cathartic for me. However, I used to write in third person omniscient all the time and that still tends to me my comfort style. In fact Fried Windows was an experiment for me, writing a series of first person short stories. The novel emerged from that process. Later on I wrote Becoming Thuperman, which is also told in first person. I have several other projects with he same style and authors voice, though none of them are finished at this time.

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When I posted to FanStory the drafts of the individual chapters of Fried Windows they were presented as installments over a thirty day period. As I have said before I fleshed out the nucleus of the story idea in a month. It was another year, in April 2013, before I compiled all the pieces into a novel format and another month, toward the end of May 2013, before I submitted it to my publisher as a manuscript. In June 2013 I signed a contract for publishing the book. And in May 2014 Fried Windows was released.

So, you see there are many anniversaries coming up for Fried Windows. Sometime later this year, the book will complete its exclusive period and be offered on multiple platforms. I’ll also be doing some signings and personal appearances in Orlando and central Florida to promote both Fried Windows and the other books I have coming out this year and next.

#Writing #Publishing #Dreams #FriedWindows #BecomingThuperman