mexican hat
audio, books, Professor Groovy, Writing

If At First

Heck, you can fill in the rest of that quote. I am also a big fan of ‘perseverance furthers” from the I Ching. Yes, I will stick with something until I get it done, whether it is digging a ditch, writing or publishing. My aim is for a successful conclusion. That is especially true these days.

I wrote a little while back about trying to record an audio book for Professor Groovy and Other Stories. The editing was a killer. Even so, I didn’t like the end result. So, I pulled apart my office-turned-studio and took a weeklong break. In the meantime, I did more research about breathing (yeah, you gotta breathe, but just do it naturally) and other related stuff like drinking Throat Coat Tea beforehand. It’s amazing what is available on blogs and YouTube.

As for GarageBand, I found the settings I need via the very helpful Rob Dircks, who wrote Where the Heck is Tesla. I’ve never met the guy, but he’s very generous with his help. Find info in the blog section of his website Gold Finch Publishing

Then, Friday night, I brought every piece of foam (like the seats from the couch), pillows and blankets we have into the office. Now, it looks like the bedroom some of my kids had when they were teenagers. Ah, but there’s no echo.

Saturday morning I was ready to roll. I set up tracks with the right settings. I did a few practice runs. I did better on the breathing so I didn’t sound like I was gasping at the start of each sentence. A couple of the tracks came out great, the others, not so great. I checked and found the problems in the settings.

So, on Sunday — I told you I’m persistent — I did new recordings and redid the unsatisfactory ones from the day before. I haven’t started the editing yet, but I can tell after listening, this will be a breeze compared to the first time I tried this.

And this round, I not only found I could read longer, I had done this so many times, I could recite parts of the short stories by heart, especially the start of Professor Groovy. “The sixties came just in time for Professor Edward Burke, who was meandering through middle age while everyone around him was fresh and young… ”

What else is a do-over these days? A Kindle Countdown. I tried one in May for Peace, Love, and You Know What, but got the dates mixed up so I wasn’t doing promotion until the end. Well, that was a waste, but a lesson learned.

But guess what? Another Kindle Countdown starts Wednesday, Aug. 24. The digital form of my 80,000-word novel goes on sale for 99 cents for two days — the same price as the Kindle version of Professor Groovy and Other Stories. Then, the price bumps up a buck in increments until it’s back to its normal price of $4.99 on Aug. 31. Here’s the link: Peace, Love, and You Know What

No, I don’t make a lot of money on this. But my goal is to attract readers.

Thirdly, an update on another do-over: reading my novel The Sweet Spot backwards. It is slower-going than reading it forwards, but I highly recommend it. I find that I concentrate simply on the words in that paragraph and not the plot. I am pleased at what I’ve found so far, not a lot of changes, but significant ones.

Lastly, another reading of Peace, Love, and You Know What is in the works for Sept. 17 at Brodsky Bookshop in Taos. My friend Andrew is playing The Beatles on his bassoon and, yes, there will be brownies. More later …

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: I snapped this shot of Mexican hat flowers growing in the front yard. They grow wild here.

 

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purple sage
books, Rewriting, The Sweet Spot, Writing

Reading Backwards

I pulled the manuscript for The Sweet Spot from its envelope to read yet again. This time I am doing it backwards.

I read about this technique on the internet, where else, and once I realized it meant reading backwards paragraph by paragraph, and not word by word, I thought it was worth the try.

No matter how much I edit and proof copy, especially an 80,000-word novel, I find stuff I should have caught. I might feel a tiny bit reassured when I read other books — including those published by university presses — that have typos. But that’s not reassurance enough for me.

Plus, I hate making more work for Michelle, who designs my books. The Sweet Spot, one of my hill town books, is the next on her list.

Amazingly I found reading backwards a rather easy and useful process. Instead of focusing on the story line and characters, I concentrate simply on one paragraph at the time. It’s a manageable approach, and in the process, I’ve found a missing article or two, and other stuff. Here’s one: Edie stops to buy food on the way to one of the book’s most crucial scenes — when she goes to reason with a distraught Walker, her ex-lover. It’s important she stops to buy food because she learns an important piece of info from the clerk. But I don’t mention the food again. Did Edie bring the food to Walker’s cabin? Did she leave it in the car? Maybe she should only stop at the store for directions and maybe a drink for herself. It’s a matter of a dropped detail.

I’ve written before that I read my manuscripts aloud, more than once. This round of copyediting, I am reading The Sweet Spot backwards and out loud. It is a slower process than reading the usual way so I only do several pages at a time. And, yes, I have my red pen handy.

AN UPDATE ON THE AUDIO BOOK: I am a bit frustrated by my efforts to record Professor Groovy and Other Stories. It has consumed many of my waking hours and I am unhappy still. So, I decided to put it aside until the weekend and take a good hard listen then. I’m not giving up, but a break is in order.

THANK YOU: I appreciate all who have bought and read my books. Here are the links to them on Amazon: Peace, Love, and You Know What and Professor Groovy and Other Stories

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: Blooming Russian sage is a hotspot for bees on our little piece of the earth.

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ProfGroovy_Cover
books, Fiction, hippies, New release, short stories

Professor Groovy, Class Is In Session

I just got word Professor Groovy and Other Stories is now available on Kindle. How much fun is that?

As I’ve mentioned before, the four stories are a prequel of sorts to Peace, Love, and You Know What. Michelle Gutierrez designed the cover you see above that reflects that relationship in a creative way. (Thanks, Michelle.)

Lenora Dias, one of the novel’s main characters, is the prominent figure in each story. We get a taste of the late sixties via her point of view.

For those who haven’t read the novel, Lenora is the first of her Portuguese family to go to college at the fictional Westbridge State. She goes hippie big time, but is levelheaded enough to stay out of too much trouble and to graduate on time. A serial romantic, she falls hard in love and suffers for it. She is the queen of her little tribe of hippie friends.

In one story in this collection, Lenora has an encounter with a professor who enjoys having no boundaries with his students. Yes, you could call him a dirty professor.

In another, Lenora reveals a secret and in another, a liar. Then, there is her raucous summer fling with a guy back home.

Yes, these stories were inspired by my experiences long ago, but they are strictly from my imagination. I wrote them before I started Peace, Love, and You Know What. I guess you could call them practice runs although two did get picked up by publications.

I opted at this point to go with Kindle only because the short stories total 10,000 words. In the future, I may incorporate them with other stories to make a heftier book worth printing.

The price to read Professor Groovy is 99 cents, which I believe is fair.

Don’t have a Kindle? You can download the free app to your computer, phone or tablet. Anyway, here is the link on Amazon Professor Groovy

Thanks for reading my fiction.

 

 

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audio, books, Publishing

Listening to My Own Voice

My new experiment: audio. It’s part of my effort to get my writing out to as many people as possible. I’ve done digital and hard copy versions of my first release, Peace, Love, and You Know What. Oh, why not audio?

A friend recommended a microphone to go with my Mac. I’ve read a lot about the process. And I have a relatively easy project for starters: the very-soon-to-be-released Professor Groovy and Other Stories on Kindle.

To backtrack a bit, Professor Groovy is a collection of four stories that have the same characters as Peace, Love, and You Know What. I wrote them before I was inspired to write the novel. Actually magazines picked up versions of two of them. My hope is that people who read or listen to Professor Groovy will want to do the same with Peace Etc.

I decided to do audio for Professor Groovy first for a practical reason. The word count for the four stories totals 10,000. Peace, Love, and You Know What is much heftier at 80,000. I will tackle that one soon along with the first in the Los Primos bilingual series (with my collaborator Teresa Dovalpage).

Then I had to learn how to do it. I am using the GarageBand program so, of course, I had to play around with it. After some small issues (had to put reverb at zero to eliminate an echo), I think I’ve got it down in my practice sessions.

The funny part about this project is listening to my voice. I’ve learned that readers, or in this case, listeners, like to hear authors read their work. I know I did when I was listening to books “on tape” when I commuted Back East. And frankly, I don’t have the bucks yet to hire a narrator.

So what’s my voice like? When I play back the practice sessions, I believe I’m listening to a pleasant one. It isn’t professional or a nice radio voice.

I still use R’s in the odd ways people from New England do. (My former newsroom staff thought my pronunciation of words like “idea” hilarious. Of course, idea needs an R at the end.)

I’ve used my voices in various ways: public speaking, talking on the phone, one-on-one conversations, group settings etc. There are my inquisitive, persuasive, and calming voices.

I would say this is my reading voice, the one I used to tell my six kids, and now my granddaughter, a story. I wanted to make my voice interesting so they stayed with the book, but not corny. This isn’t Dr. Seuss after all.

PEACE ETC.: Thank you to everyone who has bought my novel Peace, Love, and You Know What. Here’s the link on Amazon for those considering it: Peace, Love, and You Know What

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: That’s a bit of the flower garden inside the fence. Note the sagebrush on the other side and my neighbors’ homes on the hill.

 

 

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books, reviews, Writing

Heading to Canada with Howard Norman

No, the trip wasn’t physical. I haven’t met the author Howard Norman although he did send me a nice note. I’ve just finished his Canada trilogy.

I found the first, The Bird Artist, in a secondhand book storebird artist cover when I was traveling back east. White Square Fine Books and Art in Easthampton, Mass., has a quality selection. It’s good place to find an author or book I had somehow missed. That was the case with Howard Norman and The Bird Artist.

The book begins in 1911. Fabian Vas, who draws and paints birds in a coastal Newfoundland village, admits in the first paragraph he killed the lighthouse keeper named Botho August. Of course, he has a compelling reason. A lot goes on in that little village. I was taken by Norman’s writing voice and his oddly enchanting story.

cover museum

In other words, I was hooked.

It’d been a while since I found myself stealing away to pick up a book. That was the case with The Bird Artist, which was a 1994 National Book Award finalist for fiction.

The second in the trilogy is The Museum Guard. This one is set in the late 1930s in Halifax. DeFoe Russet is the museum guard. He works with his uncle, who raised him after his parents were killed in a zeppelin crash. A woman DeFoe loves is fixated on one of the paintings, Jewess on a Street in Amsterdam.

Again Norman creates an absorbing world although the depth of the woman’s obsession seemed far-fetched. Then again, this is fiction.

I almost didn’t read the third — The Haunting of L. The reviews were iffy, but a trilogy is a trilogy. Peter Duvett leaves Halifax in 1927 to work for a photographer in Manitoba. Naturally, there is illicit love. (Peter takes up with his employer’s wife on their wedding night.) Then there is the darker side of photography with so-called spirit photos and images taken of staged disasters. Intriguing concepts, but hauntingI will admit at times my attention waned.

Although The Bird Artist is the best of the trio, I am happy I read all three. I enjoy Howard Norman’s absurd choices for characters, professions, and living situations. His main characters are young men who appear a bit befuddled by life and love. Canada, at least how Norman portrays it, is not what I imagined.

Then there is Norman’s own story. He is an American, who dropped out of high school and lived in Canada for sixteen years. He became interested in the folk lore and culture of the Cree Indians. He eventually got his high school diploma and other degrees. Besides being a prolific author, he is a college professor in the U.S.

Howard Norman is also a cordial person. Using my snooping skills, I tracked him down to email (with an apology for intruding) a fan letter about The Bird Artist and how I found it. His reply was gracious, thanking me for “your generous, heartening note. I like being in a secondhand bookstore.” Me, too.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: The beds along the fence are teeming with flowers and bees. Here is one of the large plantings of Echinacea aka cone flower.

PEACE, LOVE, AND YOU KNOW WHAT: My debut novel is available in paperback and kindle. Here’s the link: Peace, Love, and You Know What on Amazon

 

 

 

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