A Sort of Victory

As a fiction writer–novelist, artist (French accent applies), whatever–there aren’t too many victories along the black-ice road. (You thought I was going to say ‘dry and dusty,’ didn’t you?) So few victories (barring a big fat royalty check or award) that we consider finishing something to be a victory by itself. Yup, damned right.

So before I get into that Mammoth Cave of questions–When is it done, Have you said everything you wanted to say, blah blah–I get to celebrate a victory of sorts.

A slice of Santori cake, fork and coffee mug

For me, a slice of well-earned Santori cake was the prize. Apples, walnut, sugar, lots of badness…one of those perfect things (courtesy of Pasta & Co.) in life. It will have to do, for now. Because finishing a novel is just one leg of the journey to bringing that novel to life.

The black-and-white planet sketch and red lettering for Endgame

“Endgame” is my fourth book, a war novel. As you can tell from the professional-looking cover, I’m waiting for someone to come along and help with the visuals. But that will come later. For now, after three years of taking notes (when I was still working on “The Churning“) I’m done with Captain June Vereeth and her survival adventure. Happy with it? Absolutely. Done working on it? For now, until an editor gets their hands on it.

Now onto the fifth book!…

Music for “The Churning”

A friend asked me what music I imagine going on the soundtrack for “The Churning.” Since I dream of it being made into a movie, why not? Here’s a few tracks. Obviously, I lean toward the heavy stuff for a story like this – no harps or clarinets in Arman Hessabi’s life!


“Grind” by Alice In Chains – just perfect!

“Tarantula” by Smashing Pumpkins – it captures the sometimes frenetic and furious energy of soccer.

“Poison My Eyes” by Anthrax – one of my favorites, heavy and challenging, great for sports (and dark material).

“Root of All Evil” by Dream Theater – another of my all-time favorites, this song deals with addiction and power.

“Rooms 1,000 Years Wide” by Soundgarden – epic, hammering, great for workouts and dark stories.

Sink with blood in it.

Read “The Last Lecture”

Get your Kleenex box ready, first. This autobiography (of sorts) isn’t all about death and dying–or how pancreatic cancer rears its ugly head, once more–but it’s impossible to overlook the driving force behind the titular event.

Randy Pausch would lose his battle to cancer in the summer in 2008. Before he went, he wanted to impart basically every non-computer related thing he ever learned (good and bad) to audience members at this Carnegie Mellon lecture, to his friends and family, and mostly to his 3 young kids. What we get is a person who loved life, saw the best in people and was a kick-ass teacher because he’d learned from his own mistakes.

I felt like I knew him after reading the book, which makes it hard to get through the end. He writes with honesty, without schmaltz and isn’t afraid of cliche. Because of that, his story has lifelong lessons for all of us.


It’s Football Time…

Since the air right now is full of flying water and leaves and twigs (ah, blissful November!…) I thought I’d just mention that my first novel, “Watching the World Fall,” is perfect for football season.

You can read a sample of it here.

Watching the World Fall's waterfall-helix cover with name, title

Self-published in May of 2010, after a decade of rumbling, bumbling and stumbling, I’d still say I’ve very happy with the finished product (a good, multi-layered story) and I wouldn’t go back and change anything.

It’s available on Amazon, Kindle and other ebook readers/services.


Top Pot Creativity

Normally, I wouldn’t blog about doughnuts because I personally try to avoid them. I love them. That’s the problem. How many miles or minutes of soccer to negate the damage from seven bites of unholy goodness?  However, after my son’s team’s exit from the year-end soccer tournament, in the rain and muck, it was doughnut time! And…

Top Pot's staff painted/added to this pumpkin to make it a hot chocolate mug sculpture

I’ve seem some creative things done with pumpkins and other produce (minds out of the gutter, folks) but I’ve never seen this. Cheers!


By the Numbers…

So, I’ve submitted my final manuscript for publication of “The Churning.” Finally! Took a while, to be sure.

The novel was unofficially born (seed idea) in May of 2010. I worked on it like mad – stumbling and tripping and pulling my hair – for 3+ years, self-publishing it in November of 2013. I was happy with it.

A year ago, I got the awesome news that Seattle-based Booktrope wanted to publish it. Rock! So, since then, my life has included a sort of conveyor belt that slowly gained speed – getting pieces into place, thoughts flying back-and-forth between myself and editors, missed proofreader windows (my fault), questions about the cover, etc. Now, finally, we have a final draft, a cover that kicks keester, and we’re ready to go.

Our pet skeleton succumbs to work over "The Churning"

“I can’t stands no moo-ah!”

With all of this coming to a head during the month known for Turkey Day and NaNoWriMo (the annual competition to write a 50k-word novel in November), I thought I’d try to put some numbers out there. Helpful or not, here’s what I think has happened. (BTW, I’ve never entered the NaNoWriMo competition–1,670 words per day–though I’ll try it sometime.)

Since the Alice In Chains song “Grind” has been playing in my mind a lot the past few months, I perused the Wikipedia file for fun. Apparently, according to that entry, the band wrote and recorded an album, Jar of Flies, in one week. Yikes. Four guys and a producer, collaborating…a week. Me, myself and I (and then some editors and readers)…way too *%^&-ing long.

For my part on “The Churning”:

Hours spent (including writing, brainstorming, revising, wanting to put a fork in my eye) — 2,600. (The original Word file tallied 1,500 hours alone.)

Words, final — 63,000

Words, original — 78,200

Mentions of “churning”, final — 4.

Coffee consumed — 39,000 oz. (est.) or 8,000 “cups” ( at 5 oz.)

Miles walked — 210 (I walk/pace a lot when writing)

Pages printed (sorry, Mother Earth) — 2,400 (est.)

Pages of notes, etc. — 500 (est.)

Meows from the cat — 23,000 (she talks a lot)

Number of times I was up before the sun — 1,100 (est.)

Soccer games (mostly pick-up) — 375

Times stubbing a toe — 7

Times I thought, “No, that won’t fly.” — 50 (est.)

Number of reviews — ???