Monthly Archives: June 2014

Novel in Progress: Nero’s FIddle


June 18th seems to be something of a magical date for me. It’s already cause for celebration: one year ago on that date I had a heart attack. That makes the date a poignant reminder that life is short. 

This past June 18th (at 2 a.m., no less) I completed the first draft of Nero’s Fiddle, a novel I began writing a couple months after getting out of the hospital. The tome currently weighs in at a hefty 150,000 words. 

My characters (two women and two children) have made it from Cleveland, Georgia to Washington, DC, by foot 99.9% of the way, within the allotted time frame: 25 days. 

It wasn’t easy. 

They’ve blown up a gas tank, were attacked by feral dogs, were almost raped and were held captive for a few days by some unscrupulous characters. All for a cause. 

They had to have a cause. Without a cause, what would have been the point? 

Writing the first draft was the easy part. The real work lies ahead: proofreading, editing and rewriting. Believe it or not, there is more to add than there is to cut. 

In July my best friend and I (also named Penny) are driving the route my characters took. This will enable me to supply geographical descriptions and add names of towns they will pass through. These descriptions guarantee additional word count. 

There will be the rewriting of a number of sections as well as some additional drama to add. I suspect this will be a larger tome than I initially thought it would be. 

I’m not attempting to set some word count world record which simply isn’t possible. There are just so many things that happen to these characters that this cannot be a simple three-hundred page standard-sized paperback. 

Why do these things happen? That’s the reveal I’m not revealing. 

Got work to do. Update later.


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Staring Out the Window

Staring Out the Window

Every writer knows that staring out the window is equivalent to a full day’s work. After all, the imagination works best when the eyes have something pleasant to look at. –Pen

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June 22, 2014 · 10:21 am



Live your life so that, at the end of it, you have no regrets. Public domain

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June 22, 2014 · 10:18 am

Naked Characters


When I was in third grade, I wrote a story and let one of my classmates read it. His name was Bruce Taylor, a chubby little kid much like myself but he was one of the nicer kids in my class.


After he read the story he handed it back to me. He’d rewritten it. At the time it kinda ticked me off. Not because he had rewritten it but because he did it in a rather mocking way.

Looking back, I see now he was trying to get a point across with humor.

I had created witty dialogue between two characters: one a mafia-type boss, the other his underling. I cannot for the life of me recall the dialogue or the subject of conversation.

What my friend, Bruce Taylor, did was poke fun at the fact that I had not included descriptions of clothing on my characters.

I hadn’t given it that much thought. After all, everyone knows characters wear clothes, right?

Years later, I have come to realize that I do, at times, fall short when clothing my characters. It doesn’t mean they’re naked. It just means since I see them fully clothed in my head, I make the assumption the reader does as well.

It is erroneous thinking on my part. Just because I visualize my character wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt doesn’t mean the reader won’t see her or him in a sundress or a three-piece suit.

It’s important to look at your characters closely. Analyze not only their physical description but the clothing she or he wears on their backs, as well.

Clothing description doesn’t have to be that detailed, unless your character is a meticulous dresser or dresses gregariously like Gregorio in Sword of Tilk Book Two: Strange Land. Gregorio purposefully wore very colorful tunics and shirts to attract attention, even of the negative sort.

All it takes is a quick mention of “She was comfortable in ragged jeans and an old t-shirt” for the reader to see what your character is wearing.

Sometimes the clothing she or he wears can also help define the character or give a little insight into her or his personality. For instance, “He wore khakis and a Polo shirt even though it was Saturday,” tells the reader this guy doesn’t lounge around in his PJs even on the weekend. It gives the impression he may be too cultured for cut-off blue jeans and holey t-shirts.

By the same token, “She appeared in court wearing faded jeans with holes in the knees and a halter top with no bra” shows a degree of disrespect for authority, even though this manner of dress in a court of law may seem the norm these days.

So, when you go in for the editing session, pay close attention to what your characters are wearing. Don’t let them walk around naked. Get some clothes on ’em!

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No Self-Doubt Here

No Self-Doubt Here

Everything in life is writable about….

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June 19, 2014 · 8:59 am



Right on, Stephen King!

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June 19, 2014 · 8:58 am