I figured out what I wanted to do with my life before I was 20 years old. That is a far cry from Carl Daniels, the protagonist in my upcoming novel, Green Bay Outsiders, who has absolutely no clue what he wants to do when he graduates from college. By that point, he is 22. And the realization that he has to start making plans to find out what he wants to do is crucial if he wants to avoid falling into a miserable lifestyle set by everyone else’s expectations.
Not long after I discovered a love of writing during a creative writing course my senior year in high school, I knew that was something I would want to do in the future. But of course I was going to have to make countless choices in the following years – education, employment, travel, friendships, romance, adult responsibility – and for a while I drifted from one experience to another, experimenting, trying things out and ultimately returning to what I always loved.
This is how it all went down and what happened when I realized what I wanted to do with my life. (Too bad for Carl who doesn’t realize what he wants to do yet; he must decide if he needs to rip himself away from everything he already has in his life to discover something he considers more fulfilling.)
[Read more…] about What Happened When I Realized What I Wanted to Do with My Life
Billy Maddox Takes His Shot
So a decent amount of reader feedback has come back for the three cover designs proposed for my novel, Billy Maddox Takes His Shot, and two cover designs ran almost neck and neck: #2 and #3. Thirteen readers thought Cover #2 was the strongest choice while 12 readers preferred Cover #3. Four readers also weighed in as advocates for #1 with some compelling arguments for why that cover was the strongest. Let’s break down the feedback to determine how to move forward with the final book cover design.
[Read more…] about Reader Feedback: Billy Maddox Takes His Shot Cover Design
Years ago, I joined the Peace Corps, a U.S.-government-funded volunteer organization that sends willing Americans overseas to participate in grassroots projects with the citizens of countries around the world. Some volunteers do community development, others lead health or sustainable agriculture projects. I ended up teaching English as a foreign language in Sri Lanka. I was supposed to live and teach there for two years but the country was in the middle of a civil war at the time, and my assignment ended up being cut in half.
[Read more…] about My Year Teaching in Sri Lanka – And the Two Short Stories That Followed
A variation of the following short statement accompanies the novella, The Curse of Jaxx, and was written by the story’s author to explain its dedication to the early-20th century writer, H.P. Lovecraft.
I have been a fan of H.P. Lovecraft since my late teens. I first came across the word “Lovecraftian” in Stephen King’s novel, The Stand, when I was about 13 and had no idea what it meant at the time. But a few years later, my friend Dale showed up in front of my parents’ house on his Harley and pulled out a collection of Lovecraft’s collection of short stories. “You’ve got to check this out,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
[Read more…] about H.P. Lovecraft and The Curse of Jaxx
My long short story, “Green Bay Outsiders”, is coming along. Yes, I know I’ve been at work on it for a while and it’s dangerously close to turning into a novella, truth be told. I converted the manuscript into Microsoft Word the other day just to see how long it was, and it had reached 170 pages. When did that happen?
In any case, one of the fun things about writing a story that turns long is that new themes emerge, or existing themes take on depth or nuance you originally didn’t expect. I posted my first post about “Green Bay Outsiders” back in September when the only thing I really knew was that one of the main characters, Jack Billings, was a Vietnam vet who had fought in Khe Sanh in 1968.
[Read more…] about About the Meaning of Freedom – Green Bay Outsiders #2
As part of my research for my current story, “Green Bay Outsiders”, I looked at some of the challenges facing Vietnam veterans once they returned to the United States following hostilities in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The protagonist of “Green Bay Outsiders”, Carl Daniels (who becomes a major character in the novel, Billy Maddox Takes His Shot), lives a somewhat comfortable if routine, middle-class existence in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He is fascinated, however, by the history of his uncle Jack Briggs, a former Army Special Forces soldier who fought at Khe Sanh in 1968. Jack’s experiences continue to haunt him, and his influence over the younger man (Carl is a recent college graduate) only grows when Jack moves to Green Bay from Missoula, Montana to help take care of a former war buddy, Bob Brown, whose exposure to the Agent Orange herbicide has led to serious health problems including the onset of Hodgkins disease.
To start researching Vietnam veterans, I turned to the First Blood films from the 1980s.