Monday, December 12, 2005

filling the page with little pen marks

Well, it certainly has been a while, hasn’t it? The holiday season has always been hectic, and this year has been no exception. December is half over and Christmas is fast approaching. I’m now more than halfway through editing (scribbling) on the hard copy of the book. I’m right on track. I’ve definitely been enjoying reading the story. It’s good, what can I say?

I’ve tried to be very careful up to this point. There has been the urge to really speed through things. I really don’t want to rush it. I’m not trying to set a record or winning a race. It is amazing how much you can change an entire chapter just by massaging a few key sentences. It is this subtly that, in my opinion, makes for a great book. Each word is worth a million dollars. Each sentence is worth its weight in fine malted hops and barley. I tread with caution. If I’m feeling the slightest bit disengaged or impatient, I set the mighty ream of paper aside.

There have been no major rewrites thus far. I’ve tweaked various passages, but for the most part, the hardcopy edits have been stylistic tweaking. Getting the most of out my words and sentences. Then it’s back to the pitter-patter of my lovely fingers on the keyboard. I discovered a well-placed outlet in Starbucks and wonder if there is such an outlet in the pub. One can only hope.

Cheers and happy holidays!

Current research:

Monday, November 28, 2005

can you kill brain cells by eating too much?

The first part of this devastating holiday season has come and gone.   I am wider, softer, and more tired than I was a week ago.  What does that mean?   It was a great, multi-feast Thanksgiving.   To recap, I partook in three glorious meals.   Two on Thanksgiving (at my cousin, Maria’s house…we Italians know how to throw down), and then another at the Rossi parent’s house on Saturday.  I got to spend a ton of quality time with the Jen, my parents, and my nieces and nephew.    We had a celebration for the engagement as well as an early birthday celebration.  Everything was capped off by a gig with el Habito Male at the Acoustic CafĂ© in CT.

I feel completely brain dead today.  It might have to do with either the “turkey sweats” or the endless drive home last night.  Tonight, Jen and I are “celebrating our love” by getting Indian cuisine and a DVD.   I personally will be celebrating my first successful (the word is relative) completion of a short story as well as the opening night of editing the novel.

Go team!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Happy (day after)Thanksgiving

Hope your turkey day was full of a lot of eating, drinking, and uncomfortable digestion. I have been busy stretching my stomach over the past several days and shall continue to do so for the next couple. Whats coming up? I'm approaching the start of editing the novel next week. I'm working on finishing a short story, and, I've got a couple of shows coming up as well.

Back to regular postings next week :)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

and I'm done

One month, several bottles a wine, and ten sore finger tips later, I’m done with my second novel.  It was definitely an intense process.  It went far faster than I would have imagined.  There were days when I was not motivated to write, but I still sat down in front of the computer and with fingers like lead, I churned out several thousand words.  In our day to day lives, as busy as we get, there are a lot hidden pockets of free time.  I’d use lunch breaks and spend an hour writing.  I’d get up early before work and write for a couple of hours. I’d stay up late.  I established weekly goals and did what it took to meet them.

There was a big difference between writing this book and my first book.  The first novel was written over the span of a year, with many breaks in between.  It was hard to keep things cohesive and there were times where I lost a sense of character and/or place.  That was not an issue with this book.    Writing at least five days a week, even if for a small span of time, kept things fresh and characters real.

I’m thrilled to be done with the book.  The plan now is to take off a week or two.   During this time I hope to zone out for a bit and perhaps churn out a few short stories (while writing some new music and spending a bit of time stargazing).

Presently, I’m enjoying a glass of wine and watching some mindless TV.   To all of you who are endeavoring to write something – anything – it can be done.  Just keep writing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

the end is near

I’m coming close to the end now.

It’s strange reading those words.   It is hard to believe in just a month, I’m on the cusp of finishing the book.   Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to provide a post of substance here in several days.  My time has been limited and I’ve focused my writing on the novel. I’m sure you understand.

I will say this: the experience has become completely immersive.  The characters, places, and events have become exceptionally real.  At the completion of each writing session, I feel an odd sense of displacement as I return to reality.   It takes me a few minutes to get resituated.   Jen must think I’m crazy at this point.
Almost there.  Tomorrow is the big day.

Word count: 80,101    

Monday, November 14, 2005

exactly, what is a juicy tidbit?

Well – the “real” world got real busy for the remainder of last week. I hope to have some juicy tidbits for you some time later. Until then…

Word count: 71, 295

Current research:

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

fictional fact in the fiction

I’m edging closer to the grand finale of the book now.  I’ve entered a critical portion of the story where different storylines begin to get tied together.   I’m faced with the daunting task of delivering a lot of “fact” in the current chapter.   The dissemination of fact when writing fiction is a necessary evil if you hope to create a believable world.   It’s easy to lose a reader when you go into “text book” mode to explain technical or historical aspects of a tale.  Personally, how do I go about avoiding text book mode?   I’ve found it takes only takes a sentence or two (well placed) to keep the reader attached to the character and story.  The environment can be extremely useful in keeping the reader emotionally invested.   Simple, absent behavior helps to keep things real.  He ran a hand over the old, damp railing, flakes of rust fell to the dead leaves that covered the patio.  The visceral impact of the environment: the acrid cloud of cigar smoke burned her nostrils and made her eyes sting.  Hugo and his habits disgusted her, but still, she tried her best to concentrate on each word he said.    

Reading is a great learning tool and extremely important for any writer.  There is a lot to be learned from reading both good and bad novels.    This is just one tidbit I’ve picked up through reading.   By no stretch do I consider myself an expert.   But, the technique certainly seems to work.

Word count:  67, 291

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

character sketch - loralie arlyle

I thought I’d do something a little different today.    Per suggestion, I’ve written up a brief character sketch of one of the prominent players in this story.  Don’t worry; I haven’t spoiled any critical plot lines. I tried to remain as vague as possible ;-)

Loralie Arlyle – the Lady Baroness of Trenton  
Loralie has been an interesting character to watch develop during the course of the two books.  In book two, she plays a larger role.   I must say, as I’ve been writing her, I’ve grown to really love her character.  Loralie is a beautiful creature with delicate but proud features.  She has her father, the Lord Baron Arlyle, to thank for the thick mane of red hair - always worn it in a tight bun.  To flaunt the hair would just not be proper. Loralie has always been a self-reliant soul – independent and carefree with no few true sources of stress.  Her only charge is to excel in the predominantly male-attended Royal University.  Large scale responsibilities begin to pile atop her shoulders as the world rapidly changes around her. While attempting to struggle with these outside forces, she is taxed with a myriad of inner conflicts, including, but not limited to bearing the child of a man she loathes.  A painful question weighs heavy on her heart – will she hate this child, as she hates the father, when it is finally born?

Word count:  64,100

Monday, November 07, 2005

week four

I’d like to cordially welcome myself to week four of the life of my book.  Week three was pretty much a bust.   If you’ve been following my word count, I only wrote a relative handful of material.   I’m not feeling too guilty about it.   Well, maybe I feel a little guilty about the time spent playing God of War and watching TV.    I’m only an [easily distractible] human – what do ya expect?

Okay.  I had a week prolificacy.   Then, I had a week of laziness. I guess that isn’t entirely accurate.  My activities just didn’t completely revolve around writing, is all.  Where does that put me now?  Well.  Some ideas I had prior to the week of laziness are a little hazy – which is why I took notes when the ideas came to me.    It’s simple, really.  I’ll sit down, and write.  Full well knowing these first 1,000 words or so will be like pulling teeth. Then again, maybe they won’t.   I am feeling eager to get back to it.

I think many of us writers come against the wall when we’re forced (passively or aggressively) to take some time of.   The question always arises of (How will I get back into this project?).    The answer is simple.
Do it.

Now I shall state my goal.  Give me a second to climb atop the mountain so that I may say it loud and say it proud.   Ready?  I will finish the first draft of this bastard by my birthday.  On December 1st, you all may send me cards that a)say happy birthday b)sing praises to my name for finishing the draft.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

thursday evening

A wee, scant nipper of a post.  Today was unexpectedly long and without computers and internet.  Tomorrow the stylus will be picked up with great fervor and Ill have some insightful tidbits to share.

Word count:  58,646

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

a bit of illumination

Yesterday, I wrote like a human being that has responsibilities that are non-writing related (what?). I hit my daily minimum (2,000 words, if you’re wondering). Of course, it left me eager to write more, but last night was all about quality time with loved ones (pets and people, alike). One of the many (relatively speaking) loyal readers of this blog sent me a request this morning. He is interested in learning a little more about the book(s). In going forward, I will provide periodic glimpses about the substance of the book, as well as some of the more visceral experiences in telling the story.

The working synopsis for Book I: A Prayer for Rain is as follows:

Scentless. Tasteless. It is the key to life, prosperity, and power – the inciter of great wars and the cause of even greater champions. Lafranjia is running out of water.

A woman, plagued by a mysterious and crippling illness, digs through the echoes of a civilization long dead, seeking answers to questions of her past and future. She will lead an unlikely group of adventurers into the shadows of a secret and forbidden place. Here, salvation will be found and an ancient evil will be awakened. In this forgotten city, they will all sing A Prayer for Rain.

The first book serves to establish the foundation of the world, Lafranjia. It introduces the reader to the key elements of this world including, but not limited to places, history, population, economy, and political structure as seen through they eyes of the main characters. It is story about (to be as unpretentious as possible) searching for answers, finding answers, and finding more questions. It takes the characters from their established routines and thrusts them into an ever changing environment. There is a healthy dose of deceit, lust, love, greed, and horror tossed into the mix.

Book II: Floodlands (working title) picks up only several months after where the first book has left off. It is a logical continuation in the development of characters in the first book and their relationship to each other and the environment. This book is more expansive in terms of revealing the history of this world, which is integral to the events of both books. The reader, through the characters, gets taken to new and strange places. Conflict increases in scope in this book as everyone careens toward some final, climatic resolution.

Obviously, I tried to be as vague as possible. I don’t want to give away any plot secrets. What fun would that be?

Current word count: 54, 310.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

how I spent my break

It's odd. Driving into work today, I felt like I hadn't written in a week. Likely, that is the byproduct of writing my nice buns off last week (and they are quite nice). That or maybe I was in the bar a lot longer than I thought. I must say, I am feeling remarkably refreshed. The Ashburn Pub was my best friend last night. Monday night football was the aural backdrop (along with the cheers and jeers of the football fans). The nice thing about the Pub on a week night is there really isn't a crowd to speak of. I had my choice of seating, the booth of course, and got individual attention from the bartender. All of these positive factors contributed to an instant state of calm.

I went on to enjoy several frosty and delicious beverages (Captain was the poison of the night). I also went on to write a copious amount of notes adding up to the next third of the book (Why a third? Arbitrary choice – it sounds better than “chunk”). As the night wore on, and my level of sobriety shifted slightly, my attention span began to dwindle. Fortunately, the Jen showed up around that time and we shared a tasty sammich and then called it a night.

Moral of the story? Sometimes it’s just good to remove yourself completely from your writing sanctuary. The change of scenery and vibe was indicative in sorting out some tricky plot snags and generated some shocking and new ideas for the book. I was able to take a break but continue in my productivity, all at the same time.

Monday, October 31, 2005

break time

I've decided to give myself the night off. I'm halfway through the book now and I feel *really* good about things. It's careening toward the finale, now. I have a hunch that a day will be good to get some ideas straight in m'head. Likely, when I sit down again, things will be as intense as they were last week - I probably won't stop until it's finished. Tonight, I'm going for a nice stroll down to the pub for a dinner for one - notebook in hand, of course.

So, let me finish this cocktail.


it was a graveyard smash

Boo! Um…..Boo! Halloween has come again and the internet proves to be, bar nun, the sassiest place to locate pictures of strangers at their...finest. This ghoulish day is the kick off for week three of being novel. I’m still riding on the great feeling of hitting my goal yesterday. It was a particular good and relieving feeling because I had spent a solid hour of staring in agony at the three-hundred and eighty some-odd words of total garbage that I managed to initially crank out. It really didn’t look like it would happen. I decided to pour myself a glass of flat, diet coke and change locations. I moved from the studio to the basement couch. Using a complicated system of blankets and pillows, I managed to sink myself in a comfortably-reclined position. I had my Playlist (WritingList, and I’m motivated to make more Playlists just so I can come up with catchier names) drifting pleasantly out of the surround sound system.

At this point, my brain had come up with a metric assload of alternatives courses of action for me to pursue. The Playstation was not far way. There were quite a few games that would be entertaining for a Sunday afternoon. The DVDs were within my line of site. I could play a computer game, perhaps dust off Wasteland for a couple of hours. Maybe I’d go for a nice long run. It was a beautiful afternoon. Or, I thought, I could always eat and watch the Weather Channel. I mean, come on. I wrote a lot last week. A lot. I deserved some self-coddling.

I determined what I really deserved, after working so hard last week, was to push ahead and hit my goal. The next one thousand words, or so, was a teeth pulling journey through verbal hell. Finally, things kicked in. The transformers sparked to life, the lines were live, and suddenly I was off and running. You know the rest.

I think I had definitely psyched myself out going into my writing session yesterday. I mean, I knew exactly how many words I needed to write to hit my goal. I didn’t have far to go. However, it was a lot for a Sunday after a week of intense writing. Everyone needs a break. I’m *certainly* no exception. I don’t mean, necessarily, a break from writing, but a break from the pressure of meeting an ambitious goal. Regardless of mild burnout, I made the goal and had time for gym and dinner. Later that night, when I sat down to write a little more, the pressure was off and it was relaxing and easy. I was capable of writing a lot more, but my eyelids were just too heavy.

I’m rewarding myself (and Jen) by downloading the new Depeche Mode album off iTunes. If only my PodCasts would update!

Tonight is the night where the spooky, greedy children walk like the dead (infused with a too much sugar). Halloween, although cute in a neighborhood of wee kiddies, can be irritating when you’ve got three dogs that are begging for an excuse – any excuse – to bark. Jen won’t be around tonight, and I had planned on doing some pretty serious writing. I think I’ll set out the courtesy bowl of snickers and other assorted fineries for the little ones and turn off the house lights.

I’ll make up for my lack of spirit on Flag Day.

Word count: 52,033.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

jebus, buddah, allah I thank you


For that, I think I've earned pizza and beer.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

everybody's workin' for the weekend

Happy Saturday, devoted reader(s). This post will be a short and sweet. Yesterday ended on a high, but totally exhausted note. The daily goal was achieved (at the cost of my sanity) and, I'll tell ya, I felt that I really needed and deserved a break. To be honest, I still do feel that way. That did not stop me from getting up at 8:00 am this morning to squeeze in a couple hours worth of writing. I've entered a portion of the novel where some of the research I've done will come into play. I hope that does slow my pace *too* much. I'm comfortable enough with the material to be able to weave it in fairly easily. That's not to say that I'm going to rush it. I *will* hit my goal this weekend, but I'll spend as much time as I can making sure that I'm not just "speed" writing. Granted this writing time will be squeeze in at bizarre hours, as I've got to be a member of the hallowed land of the living this weekend. I won't be writing to just get the words in, though. It would be a shame to have made all this progress only to write 8,000 words of utter shite. Not to mention, I'm actually really excited about this part of the book. This is one of the sections I have been most looking forward to writing.

I attempt to tackle the dialect monkey in this section as well. Dialect from the hip, I like to call it. On that note, it is time to go the gym. Gotta get the blood moving again.

Current word count: 42, 131

Friday, October 28, 2005

chicken with spicy black bean sauce

Magnificently, it is Friday. I knew it would come quick – it’s been a fast week. It has been a week frought with food delivered to the doorstep and many bottles of red wine. I’ve accomplished more on this Monday-to-Friday thing than I thought possible. I wrote, get this, 10K worth of words yesterday – in a single freakin’ day. Now, if it seems like I’m bragging, I am. I just never thought I was capable of that level of productivity. I don’t want to be misleading. It’s probably 115 pages worth of crap. I’d be lying if I said it was difficult to sit at a computer and do the following for a few hours:

Chapter 12:
Aslkjasfdljaf lk alsdkfjl ksdjlfkjlka sdlfkj lkjsdlkjf l alskdfjlkjas lkfj lksdf lfkldjlakfl lkjfldkjoalkd flkjlsdkf l fkdkdkdk lalaldkfj aslkdf lakj dl#$#%! Al ajkdf l alkdj lfkf k dfllak dk dlsk fljotoijs akldk fkljdsoit fkdla. LASkasdf lkd fl ls.

You get the picture.

At any rate, I’m in a very good position to hit my goal. I know I won’t be able to duplicate this verbosity next week. I have to return to the land of the living. No more take out. I have got to get to the gym. I’ll worry about next week in about 20K. Last I checked, it's still this week.

This week is all about the writing.

Current word count: 32, 389

Thursday, October 27, 2005

statement of the obvious

Goals are good. Goals are especially good for someone as easily distracted as myself. I have been achieving my daily word count goals so far this week (go me!). I’m halfway through where I need to be by Sunday to achieve my goal for the week. I was ambiguous when I mentioned this goal in an earlier post. I’m at the point where I think I need to fess up. Ya know, to keep myself honest. The goal is to hit 50,000 words by Sunday night. If nothing else, I want to prove to myself that I can write over 40,000 words in a single week while I work a full time, juggle seven pets and a one fiancĂ©, two bands, and reading before bed time.

Fortunately for my goal and I, the novel has taken on a life of its own. What I’d call the “beginning” is essentially done. I feel like I’m bodily yanked forward through this story. I’ve got the “middle” and the end, for intents and purposes, figured out. Now, when I say the “end” is figured out I mean this: I know where the book is going and I have some idea of how things were close out. As any writer knows, this can and likely will change, but to have an approximate idea of the “end” gives the story focus. The journey may be the destination, but sometimes, it’s nice to know where you’ll hang your coat for the night.

I drafted up the synopsis for A Prayer for Rain last night. Ideas come at strange times. I was putting away some laundry when the elusive words starting to surface in my murky head. So, I stopped putting away laundry, and ignored every and everything until got the idea on paper. I gotta be frustarting to be around sometimes.

Word count: 21, 172.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

it's okay to be afraid

I had a great day of writing yesterday. I met my word count goal for the day. What does that mean in the grand scheme of things? I’m back on track for where I had hoped to be this week. I just might meet my ambitious (insane/unrealistic) goal by Sunday. Wonder of wonders aside, there is something I’d like to touch upon in today’s post. I need to get something off my chest. I have this interesting hang up and thought, hell, it may be beneficial for me to share it (with the two people that might actually read this blog).

I have a deep rooted fear of the kick ass scene.

Here’s the breakdown: I come up with the idea for a scene. Pleased with myself, I find this idea to be particularly fetching. I see the action unfolding clearly in my head. As I sit down to write, part of me suddenly becomes deathly afraid at the prospect of putting this scene on paper. My fingers lock and I lose all mastery of the English language. I’m not exactly sure where this fear comes from. I do that the place is likely dark, dank, and really annoying. It may be from the “fear of starting a project I wont finish” days (of mostly yore). It might not stop me entirely, but it’s plenty enough to stall me. Fifteen minutes worth of lost time might not seem like a huge deal, but my time is almost always short. So, what do I do in this stalling period? Usually, I tinker around on the internet. I check my email, go to a few pages, check my email again, hit refresh a few times, and that’s generally it. I’m not sure why, but it’s comforting. When that little ritual is complete, I push ahead. A couple of thousand words later, the scene is done.

Either I need to put this fear to rest…or disable my wireless card.

In other news, I was able to drag myself out of bed this morning around 6:00am again (okay, it was more like 6:20). The after effects of too much wine the night before were largely responsible for a slow and painful start. I didn’t think it was going to be a good morning. Fortunately, my brain decided to get into gear I got some really cool stuff onto the paper.

Current word count: 16,083.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

10,000 (and one)

Every word counts.

I hit 10,000 (and one) words as of 7:30 this morning. I wrote for a couple of hours last night after recording some scratch tracks for the Phil Rossi and the Bad Habit EP de Force. Sticking true to my intentions, I got up at 6:00 am and wrote before I left the house to go to work. Things with the book are flowing pretty nicely - for the most part. Last night was a bit painful. I didn't get started until 10:00 or so. I was still wiped out from the CD release show on Saturday, not to mention beat after a long (mon)day of work. Sometimes, you just gotta force yourself into it, even if it seems the muse does not want to come and play.

She showed up halfway through a diet coke and made me work. She woke me up early, too. When she wants some, she wants some. Far be it from me to deny her.

I've decided that 10,000 words a week is a pretty good goal. Obviously, I'll strive for more than that, but I think it is a good minimum.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Week 2

Here I am, taking an early lunch as I write this today. You see, I spent most of the day eating and sitting around watching movies with the Jen. As an obvious consequence, my stomach has stretched somewhat from its normal size. Thus, I am starving and it is not quite yet noon. Ah well. I’ve come up on week two of the novel writing process. Admittedly, I only wrote a handful of words during the second half of the last week. Time was a precious commodity while prepping for the Pharmacy Prophets CD release. And what little time was left over was generally spent in lack-of-sleep delirium. That said, I fully intend to write every day this week with the goal of 10 pages daily.

Mur Laffetry brought up something that hit fairly close to home as I listened to her PodCast this morning. A portion of the discussion was devoted to life’s little distractions. She said it right on, at least as distractions relate to me - Unplug the internet. I have to say, the ‘net is easily one of the most cumbersome distractions I deal with when writing, whether I’m chatting away, surfacing idly, or obsessively checking It definitely affects my productivity. Last year, I had some of my most prolific evenings of writing when using the Texas Instruments dinosaur laptop. The computer is from the mid-nineties. It has no wireless access. Hell, I don’t think it could even connect to the Internet via dialup at this point. Maybe I should dig the thing up and start using it. I don’t think I have the will power to stay off the internet.

Just a thought.

NanoWrimo is coming up in roughly a week. For the un-initiated, NanoWrimo is National Writing Month. The goal for participants in NanoWrimo is to writing a 50,000 word (175-page) novel during the month of November. The cut off is November 30th at midnight. As I’m already committed to my book-in-progress (which likely will be longer than 50,000 words, anyway), I cannot directly participate this year. I can, however, observe the month by attempting to write 50,000 words. This translates to roughly 1600 words a day. Really, not an overwhelming number – certainly not a number where the content or quality of the writing will suffer. Its 50,000 words closer to finishing the book.

Besides, goals are always good.

My first goal of the day is to transcribe about 45 mintues worth of notes recorded during a couple commutes at the end of last week. So, maybe last week I didn't write as much as I would've liked, but I did actively engage in the creative process for the new novel. I'll give myself a pat on the back, albeit, a small one. Writing Week officially started on Sunday. I was too busy eaty and being a vegetable. So, for me, Writing Week starts today.

Current Research:

Thursday, October 20, 2005

And so it begins

I thought it'd be nice to have a journal devoted to my continuing efforts as a writer. I was inspired bythis PodCast to do so. I felt the urge to add to my increasing lists of blogs...if only to let Brian and Zach say mean things to me. Actually, I did think it'd be interesting for people to see what this process is like for me. I regretted not keeping a running journal when I was doing the first novel, so as I begin the second novel, I thought I'd toss this up for the fun of it. You just might be interested. Who knows.

With that said.

I started my second novel this week. It's a continuation of A Prayer For Rain (the first book). It is a sequel. I'm not going to deny it. It's argued that a sequel is poor use of time and effort if you don't know how the first book in the series will fare. But, I'm not done telling the, not much left for me to do, but write the sequel. I'll went on the prequel. Promise.

I'm happy to report, the muse has definitely bitten. The ideas are flowing like crazy. I've started keeping my mini-cassette recorder in the car (as I spend so much time in the car). It's a great way to capture ideas. Time is at a premium these days. When the dust of the Prophets CD Release finally settles, I'll be getting up in the mornings to write for a couple of hours. I'll sammich some time in on my lunch break, and whatever evenings I can manage to sneak in a few more minutes.

Every word counts.

So, with that said, I'll finish off by saying I hit 5,000 words today.