The Wide View

This photo gives me a wide perspective of the town and the landscape below. Looks like a great place for me to base a story. Maybe someday, but it’s been done before. If you don’t know where it is, read to the end.

More exciting news first.

I may have just written the ending of Wil Clarey: Mystery at the Mill!

It came suddenly. The story is full of action and suspense. I let the story tell itself and my characters went a bit crazy. They reached the climax of the action before I expected.

Problem is, the book is not done.

I’m not just talking about the rewrites and edits. I let the story move along so quickly that I left out whole sections that I need to insert before I can call the fist draft done.

So, right now, I am stepping back and taking a look at the big picture. I am reviewing the story to see where I can bring in the parts that will make it complete.

It’s not easy but with the wide view, I can get the perspective to see how the story plays out.

I try to do that with my life about once a year too. I take a day and step back from my life to get a perspective on where it is going. It’s been a busy year and I haven’t done that yet but I have plans.

Then there’s the really big perspective.

They don’t call it a “God’s eye view” for nothing.

I believe God has the full perspective and can see everything. That’s a big part of my perspective day, to seek out what God’s perspective on my life is.

That brings me to the God’s eye view of that town. The popular story based in the town was called Goonies. If you haven’t guessed, the town is Astoria, Oregon. The photo was taken from the top of the Astoria Column. I happen to be writing this blog from a vacation condo not too far from there.

I’m not here to get perspective this time. Just looking forward to another day of fun.

Here’s to hoping you find some fun and perspective in your life.

 

Atomic Fireball

It’s just a simple looking red candy until you pop it into your mouth.

It’s just a neatly trimmed stack of bound paper until you start reading it.

This candy in my mouth right now goes through waves of intense flavor heat.

My heart goes through a wide range of emotions as it chews through a good story.

I love it when a story surprises, shocks, or inspires me.

As I drive from customer to customer during my workdays, I usually listen to books on Audible or Libby (the library app – check it out). There have been quite a few times when I had to pause a book early so that I didn’t arrive at a customer with red eyes.

I know not everyone is affected by stories the way I am. But the shocking plot twists, dives into despair, and flights into hope inspire me to try to bring that same hope into the world.

I recently read a couple of books by Charles Martin (I highly recommend “Send Down the Rain”). They were relatively tame books in terms of action, but both had incredible plot twists. Neither were the least bit preachy, but both inspired me to emulate some of the good characteristics of the imperfect protagonists.

That’s how I want to write! I’ll leave my preaching at church. In my stories, I want to inspire through those plot twists, dives, and flights.

I know several people who think it’s a waste of time to read and write fiction.

Jesus didn’t think that. He used fictional stories to get His points across all the time.

That’s enough to convince me.

So, I’ll pop another Atomic Fireball in my mouth and keep spicing my stories up with the crazy things my characters keep doing. Someday, someone will have to have to hit pause to clear their eyes before they get where they are going. Hopefully, that destination will be a little brighter because my characters brightened their life.

Where’d That Come From

Ever wonder where stories come from?

Have you wondered where you can find new stories?

This question came to the forefront when I recently came up with a new novel idea from a very novel source. But first, here’s where some of my other stories have come from.

Reymons came from a high school writing assignment. Mrs. Fender told us to write a short fiction story. She suggested we write about something we like.

I liked driving my dad’s Datsun 280Z. My short story had me going out for a short drive in the little sports car, only to have an obsession come over me that caused me to drive as fast as possible into the mountains. There I followed a line of traffic into a subterranean passage where we were sheltered from a nuclear holocaust (this was during the Cold War).

Reymons revisits that post-apocalyptic world four hundred years later.

Bob Wiley watches me write Wil Clarey: Mystery at the Mill

Wil Clarey came from my experience as a 16-year-old who was transplanted from the San Francisco Peninsula to rural southwest Virginia. Many of the scenes were based on actual events in my life.

It’s first iteration was, frankly, boring. Then I married into a son on the autism spectrum. I had to think, what if I had been on the spectrum? I rewrote it with that in mind. I lowered Wil’s age to make it middle grade which suited the story better.

Daddy Mine was a bed-time story. I wanted a strong female character for my daughter to look up to. I started with the concept of an orphan 12-year-old girl in a mining town. From the first scene where the neighbor girls are teasing her, it basically wrote itself as I told it to my daughter.

Countdown, or Synchronized, or whatever I end up calling it was a deliberate effort at coming up with an adult level action novel. Some of the situations are drawn from work experience. Other than that, it is made from scratch. It is on hold simply because I found that I need to do some significant research that I don’t have time for right now.

Finally, my as yet unnamed new story. The source?

A dream.

In my dream, I remember feeling very nervous going into an inner-city middle school. I was an adult, there to teach or give a speech. That’s about all I remember of the dream. But I woke up thinking, “this’ll write!”

I made an effort to remember the dream and at lunch, I wrote the first chapter so I would remember the idea.

The main character is now called Evan. He is a paraplegic, having lost the use of his legs in a brutal mugging. That made him re-evaluate his life. Upon recovery, he completed a teaching certificate and finally landed this teaching job after the previous teacher quit mid-year. His unique teaching style ruffles feathers among his fellow teachers.

I can hardly wait to write that story!

I hope this inspires you to find your stories. Look in the unusual places.

Get them written!

Character Interview for The Space Beyond

One of the tools I often use when writing is the Character Interview. I pretend that I am sitting down with my character(s) and ask them questions that will help me determine how they will speak and react within the story line. I did that with Ashley and Carl from The Space Beyond. It was fun so I decided to share it with you.

Spoiler alert! The interview does contain spoilers so please click on Christmas Stories in the menu and read the story before you read this. It’s less than 5,000 words so it won’t take you long.

Also keep in mind that this interview is raw writing. Only the worst mistakes have been corrected.

One final thing before you read this and after you read the story:

In hind sight, I realize that I have painted foster parents in a rather poor light in the story. Please know that I hold foster parents in the highest regard. I have been one myself and I can tell you that it can be the toughest job in the world. The vast majority of foster parents pour their hearts and souls into the kids in their care. Carl’s point of view on his foster parents is rather negative. That is not my view on foster parents.

That’s out of the way so let me introduce you to Ashley Jones and Carl Mason…

Interview with Ashley Jones and Carl Mason.

Main Characters of “The Space Beyond – A Christmas Story”

Me – We’re on the front porch of the Jones family home in Pratt, Tennessee to talk with Ashley Jones and Carl Mason after their amazing adventure.

Hi Carl and Ashley. Glad you could join me.  Can we start off with a little introduction? Just tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Carl – Hey, it’s great to be here. My name is Carl. Duh! I’m twelve and I live two houses down the road from Ashley. You can just see it over yonder, the white house with the red tin roof. I’ve known Ash since kindergarten. She’s like the sister I never had.

Ashley – You have two sisters!

Carl – They ain’t really my sisters, and they sure ain’t like you!

Ashley rolled her eyes.

Carl – Anyway, I was sayin’ before I was so rudely interrupted, We both go to Rolling Hills Middle School. It used to be Pratt Junior High. When they changed it to a middle school, everyone was joking about it being PMS so they changed the name to Rolling Hills.

Me (interrupting to stop this runaway train) – And what are you known for there?

Carl – Everything. I’m the fastest runner, the best pitcher, and the smartest thinker.

Ashley – Well, two out of three isn’t bad.

Carl – Whatcha sayin’ I aint good at? Oh yeah, I’m also the most modest!

Me – Okay, so you’re kinda the jock of RHMS?

Carl – Sure as shootin’! Oh, and I’m good at that too.

Me – At what?

Carl – Shootin’. Huntin’ too.

Ashley – He tends to overcompensate for his lack of self-confidence.

Carl – What you talking about!?

Ashley just stared at him.

Carl – Okay, I’m not really the best at most things, but I do have a good pitching arm.

Ashley – That much is true.

Me – What about you, Ashley?

Ashley – I’m Ashley Jones. I’ll be twelve next month. My parents are electrical engineers, or at least that’s what they told me before what happened last month. They moved here a few years before I was born. I’m their only child.

Me – What are you known for around here?

Ashley – I don’t know. Maybe for being different. I don’t get all gaga over boys and fashion and that stuff like some of the girls do.

Me – What kind of things do you like to do?

Carl – I forgot to say, Pa’s a foreman at the window factory. Ma stays at home ‘cause she takes care of us kids. I’m the oldest.

Ashley – Sorry, that’s the way he is. Always interrupting! Anyway, I love to read and hike and, when the wind allows, fly my kites. I can also whip his butt in most video games.

Carl – In your dreams.

Ashley – Trust me, you’re not in my dreams!

Ashley looked slightly to the side and blushed a little, clearly indicating her lie.

Me (speaking to Carl) – And I take it you like to play baseball?

Carl – And basketball and track and field. I’d like to play football, but coach says I’m too skinny.

Me – And you two are best friends?

Ashley and Carl replied at the same time.

Ashley – I tolerate him.

Doug – She tolerates me.

Me – you guys seem to have a connection. Is there anything romantic going on there?

Ashley – Heck no!

Carl – (Wrinkles his nose) With that? (Points at her).

Ashley – He’s not mature enough for anything romantic. And I have more refined taste.

Carl – I’ll have you know, half the girls in my class are pining for me.

Ashley – In your dreams!

Carl – I do have some amazing dreams.

Me – Okay, so nothing romantic, so why do you guys hang out so much together?

Carl – ‘Cause she has the better gaming console.

Ashley – And, despite his ignorance, Carl really is my best friend. I guess we’ve just known each other so long and being the only kid my age for two miles probably helped some too.

Carl – I reckon that’s true too.

Me – Do you guys like living in the country?

Ashley – Yeah! I love the peace and quiet and the sound of nature.

Carl – And the fields to practice my throwing and running.

Me – Okay, let’s move on to some hypotheticals. Let’s say you are attacked by some bad people – do you fight or run.

Carl – Fight, of course. Especially if I’m protecting someone (eyes shift to Ashley). I mean, you gotta do the right thing.

Ashley – Sometimes the right thing is to stop and evaluate the situation before jumping into an unwinnable fight (glances at Carl). But, that said, my mom taught me a lot of martial arts skills so nine times out of ten, I’m gonna fight.

Carl – She’s right about that, she’s bad ass! (Suddenly puts his hand over his mouth). Am I allowed to say that?

Me – It’s fine. You guys saw some pretty crazy things last month. Which of you is more likely to believe what doesn’t make sense?

Both – Me.

Ashley – My mom kinda prepared me with stories that I thought were from her imagination. Now I’m not so sure. Then again, Carl will believe anything so maybe he’s the more gullible.

Carl – Dang straight! That’s a good thing, right?

Me – Which of you is better at obeying your parents?

Carl – Me, you don’t cross Pa! Don’t get me wrong. He’s a good dad. But his word is law!

Ashley – My parents aren’t that strict but if they lay down the law, you know it’s for a good reason.

Me – Have your parents ever caught you in a lie?

Carl – One time, when I stole a candy bar from the Cracker Barrel. I tried to deny it but the chocolate on my shirt gave it away. I was only 7. Pa made me pay back four times what it cost.

Ashley – And gave you a whooping!

Carl – That’s a spanking. Folks around here still do that, you know. Still, you better not tell anyone. Might mess up their gig.

Me – What gig is that?

Carl – As foster parents. They need that money from the county. That’s Ma’s job.

Me – So I gather that you’re a foster child.

Carl – Me and my two sisters. Like I said, they ain’t my real sisters but they been with Ma and Pa since before I came. Little Joe is Ma and Pa’s child.

Me – What about you Ashley.

Ashley – I share everything with Mom. She’s cool. Dad can be a dork so I’m not so open with him. Still, the extent of my lying is saying I’m okay when I’m not.

Me – How well do you deal with pain?

Ashley – Physical or emotional?

Me – both.

Ashley – I can usually deal with physical pain. Mom gave me techniques to ease the suffering when I get hurt. For emotional pain – I think I’m better than average but it’s a lot tougher than physical pain.

Carl – I think I’m the opposite. It doesn’t bother me when people try to mess with my head, and I can deal with physical pain to a point and then it kinda stops me in my tracks.

Me – Do you cry easily?

Both – No.

Me – Do you have any scars from last month?

Carl – (Pulls up sleeve) You should see…

Ashley – (Stops Carl) Time will tell.

Me – What can you tell me about your adventures last month?

Ashley – Nothing, we’re sworn to secrecy until it’s published.

Carl – What she said – other than it was epic!

Me – Okay, can’t wait to read it on Christmas Eve!

Old Dog, New Tricks

Due to COVID, I currently work in a hospital print shop. I have for the last 7 months. With the help of my coworkers, I’ve acquired several new skills.

Newly acquired skill, painting with glue.

We often have people from other locations help us out as we are the busiest print shop in our company in this area. One day, a guy I’ll call George (not his name) was helping us. He was at the workstation next to mine and was applying a second coat of glue to a project that I was taught only needed one coat.

I was curious. Did I miss something? I asked, “Hey George, didn’t you glue that already?”

Maybe I phrased that wrong because his reply was almost violent. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years, don’t tell me how to do my job!”

I was stunned silent. I thought about explaining that I was just curious but he shoved his earbuds back in and went about his redundant work.

I had to wonder, “Do I get that way?” When someone criticizes my writing, do I get defensive, or do I try to learn.

I have to admit, I sometimes get defensive. When someone points out an issue, I’ll try to explain it away. My reaction should be to learn from that criticism. Even if the critic has no writing experience, they have reading experience and can tell when something doesn’t sound right.

This old dog can learn new tricks. I was over 50 when I started getting serious about writing. I have learned a ton last few years. I still have a lot to learn.

In just a few days I take off on a road trip bound for the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference. I hope to refine my writing more and make some great connections.

I will be vlogging my road trip and time at the conference on The Wandering Pen, my YouTube writing channel. I can’t guarantee that I will be posting every day as I will be busy but I will do my best to make it fun and informative. See you there!

Oh, and if you criticize my videos, I’ll try to appreciate it and learn how to do them better.

Am I Crazy?

Am I crazy for participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) during the same month as the Blue Ridge Christian Writer’s Conference?

Yeah, probably!

But then my favorite Bible verse is 2 Corinthians 5:13 – “If we are out of our minds, it is for the sake of God.” (Loose quote from the NIV)

Problem is, I love writing – especially when it’s like today. I gave myself an hour to write a scene. It was an epic action scene where my band of travelers had no choice but to engage in battle with the guards who were pursuing them.

I won’t tell you how successful they were (but I’m only a third of the way through so – duh). I will tell you that the chapter ended with a plot twist that I didn’t see coming.

I love it when that happens!

Now I need to get back to my conference prep, working on one sheets and business cards.

As for NaNoWriMo, I most likely won’t reach that magic number of 50,000 words, but I will be motivated to write more. I’ll also be inspired by the stories of others and share a bit about my latest novel Reymons.

Should you participate in NaNoWriMo?

Do you love writing?

Do you have an idea for a novel that is just dying to get on paper?

Then, yes! Absolutely participate!

Don’t worry if you don’t make the 50,000 word goal. Just get going!

When you do, look me up under the user name Reymons.