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Blog Tour 2014!

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Hi, Everyone.

This is my contribution to the blog tour I’m doing with my friends Tony LaRocca and Don Martin. (They’re both excellent writers, and you should check out their work!

So… Today I’m going to write about Long-Distance Dedications, the book I’m working on.

As anyone who follows my blog or my Facebook/Google+ posts knows, Long-Distance Dedications is my first novel-length book with Dave Riggler. It’s a mosaic novel, meaning that it’s a novel of numerous (around 20, right now) short stories tied around a central theme. The book follows Dave’s life through various episodes that happen between fourth grade and his 40’s. It’s going to be done this year, and I hope you’ll pick it up when it’s ready.

I’ve talked a lot on this blog about who Dave Riggler is (and you can look at past posts for more about that), but I haven’t talked a lot about the writing process. Well, today I’m going to deal with that. The writing process, when I’m working on a story, looks like this:

1) Something happens. – Almost everything I write about is based, at least in some small way, on real life. An event resonates in my brain. Sometimes, i’ll write about it after a day. Other times (like when I was writing “Last Call”) it rattles around in my brain for years.

2) I generally think about the end. – Almost always, I’m thinking about the endpoint first. I have somewhere I want to go, and the rest of the story gets me there.

3) I then start the story. – The beginning of the story is, of course, a big deal. I like starting with simple declarative sentences. “Worth”, one of the stories in the book, starts with three words:

Dave kissed Tavia.

With the beginning written, and the ending in my head, I usually have a sense of where it’s going.

4) Then comes the title. – Most of the time, the title is the last thing to come in the first draft. Sometimes, it doesn’t even come until the second draft (after my writers’ group and Scribophile have gotten a whack at it).

5) Finally, the dedication. – As I said, Long-Distance Dedications is a series of stories. These stories are dedicated to Dave’s friends. But which friend is something I typically leave until the end. In the case of “Pledges” (one of the stories in the book) it was dedicated to Cari until I was about halfway through it. At that point, it took a wicked left turn, I had to rethink the end, and it ended up being a different kind of story, dedicated to Andrea.

Anyway, that’s the basics of my writing process. I know it’s kind of vague and general, but that’s because there are so many different ways these things can be expressed – especially over 20 stories.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments!

Thanks again to Don and Tony for inviting me on the blog tour!

Introductions (and why you should read them)

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Sorry I haven’t posted much about the book lately. I’ve been spending most of my writing time putting the stories together. Right now, I’m working on the last story, “Beating the Spread”. It’s taking a while to write, because it’s got a heavy load. It will bring in characters from all (or at least most) of the other stories, and bring the reader full circle back to the Introduction.

Incidentally, if I have one word of advice for people planning on reading Long-Distance Dedications (and, seriously, if you’re not, why are you here?) I would strongly recommend that you read the introduction to the book. It’s not that the stories won’t make sense withot it (at least, I hope not), but you’ll get more out of the book and understand the structure and the overarching story better if you read it. There’s a draft form of it on the main site right now, but I will probably be altering that somewhat before I publish the whole book.

Anyway, as always, you can check out some of the stories that will be in the book on Amazon. “And Ye Shall Be Healed” and “The Fight” will both be in the book. (If you’re interested, “Hackettstown” is also on Amazon, but I haven’t decided yet whether or not that story will make it in. I have mixed feelings about that one, which I will probably explore in a different post.)

Anyway, if I don’t get back to the blog before the new year, I hope everyone has/is having a happy, healthy holiday I’ll talk to you soon!

It’s been a slow process.

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Sorry I haven’t updated this blog in a while.  Between writing and looking for actual work, blogging has taken a back seat.  I’m back on it now, though, and I’ll hopefully be doing more of it over time.

In previous posts, I’ve talked about the part of Long-Distance Dedications that is “the Tavia stories”.  I’m actually still working on those.  I have two of the three written, and I’m closing in (slowly) on the third.  I didn’t write them in chronological order, though.  I’m working on the middle one right now.  The stories in this series are:

“Year of the Leap”


“Leaving the Union”

Of the three, “Worth” has been the most challenging by far, because it involves four separate scenes in the space of two days.  I have one of those scenes (the first one) written.  The third and fourth scenes are in my head, in what I think will be almost their final form.  It’s the second scene that’s giving me fits.  I mention this only because I don’t usually write stories this way.  Most of the time, I’ll write all the way through.  Once, I wrote half of the story, then filled in the end, then wrote the last quarter of the story that was unfinished.    Anyway, the way I’m going about it now is a slow process, but it at least keeps me writing.

Keep watching this space.  Hopefully, in a couple of days, I’ll be able to report that I’ve finished the story, and I’ll be able to get the entire set of Tavia stories critiqued to see what needs tweaking. 🙂

What is Dave’s Religion

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This question has come up from several people reading the Dave Riggler stories. In one sense, it has an easy answer: Culturally, Dave comes from a Catholic family. In another sense, though, it’s not so simple. If you’ve read any of the Dave Riggler stories, you recognize that Dave isn’t a practicing Catholic, even in a casual sense. It also depends on what leg of Dave’s journey you meet him on. The Dave Riggler in “First Steps” is not the same person, emotionally, as you’ll read about in “The Fight” or “Confirmed”. And none of these is the same, spiritually, as the person you’ll meet in “And Ye Shall Be Healed”.

In terms of how we see the world today, I would call Dave’s attitude in later stories atheistic, but not in the Richard Dawkins tradition. He doesn’t have that kind of certainty. He seems open — even hopeful — that his belief is incorrect. And his spirituality centers more around people he knows than it does spiritual leaders (a term I use broadly to encompass most modern religions).

If you really want to know what Dave’s spiritual beliefs are all about, “And Ye Shall Be Healed” is probably going to be your best indication. At least, until he evolves in later stories. 🙂

First Draft of “New Year’s Eve” Finished

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I’ve just finished the first draft of “New Year’s Eve”.  It’s shorter than most of the other stories (right now) in the collection, weighing in at just under 1,800 words.  Chronologically, it’s the first “Tavia” story, of which I have three planned.  There might end up being four, though.  I’ll have to see.

One question I haven’t quite answered yet is, what structure will the Tavia stories take within Long-Distance Dedications?  I have two possible tracks in mind:


1)  Separate stories, all with individual dedications.

2)  A novelette within Long-Distance Dedications.


The advantage of the novelette idea is that it would avoid having multiple dedications all to the same character.  The disadvantage of it is that it might break up the flow of the book to have numerous smaller stories and one huge chunk in the middle.

If you’ve got an opinion, let me know in the comments! 🙂

Another Story Added to Long-Distance Dedications

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Well, if you follow/friend/circle me on Twitter/Facebook/Google+, you know that I’ve just finished the first draft of “Confirmed”.  As it stands right now, it’s one of the larger stories of Long-Distance Dedications, although it’s not the longest.  I mention this because of all the stories I’ve written for the book, this one has come together the quickest.  (In first draft form, at least.  I’m not convinced that I’m done, because there will undoubtedly be alpha and beta readers who say I ended the story too quickly, and I’ll have to give them due consideration.)

One of the things I personally found interesting about writing this piece is that it’s the first time (but not the last) that Dave makes a direct reference in a story in Long-Distance Dedications to another story in the book.  The other stories have objects, or maybe people, that are referenced from story to story, but this is the first time that a scene in one story ends  up as a subject in another story.   As I said, it won’t be the last time, so if you’re into that kind of thing, look for it in the book. 🙂

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it when you read it.  It should be out of beta form rather quickly, and then I’ll start deciding where to put it (either direct to Amazon or submitting to magazines).


The Mortality (or Lack Thereof) of Characters

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I was looking at Facebook tonight, and I came across a quote in an image.


“If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die.”


So… True or false?  It depends.


I have to confess, there are certain characters (and if you’ve read through my stories, you might guess who they are) who I would be very reluctant to kill off.  On the other hand, I have an aversion to saying something can’t happen in a story.  There are times when, for the integrity of the story (e.g., to make the story flow correctly, or to be plausible) the character should die.  If you have a character fall from 10,000 feet out of an airplane without a parachute, that character better die.  Otherwise, you’re not writing.  You’re just stringing related sentences together on to a page.

The other issue is,  your reader can’t come to expect characters to always live.  Otherwise, you lose some of the drama.  After you see Batman and Robin escape at the end of every episode, you catch on that they’re never going to be killed.

But as I said, it depends.  One of the reasons you don’t see Batman or Robin die is that without them, there’s no show.  If the Wiley Coyote catches the Road Runner, that’s the end of the cartoon.  And if Dave Riggler dies, well, it’s kind of tough to write Dave Riggler stories after that.

But could someone Dave loves die?  I think so.  I can’t rule it out.  Maybe not everyone Dave loves is vulnerable, but the story of Dave goes where it goes.  Sometimes I’m just writing down what he tells me.


“Send to Kindle” Now Activated

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Hi, Everyone.


I found out today that Amazon has enabled a “Send to Kindle” option for blogs.  Since some of my blog posts will be short stories and short story excerpts, I figured this would be a good thing to test.


This particular post would probably be a boring one to send to your Kindle, but you can have a look at this one, which contains the full current version of “Waiting for the Weekend”.


Anyway, I hope to make sending the posts to your Kindle worth your while, so stay tuned!

“The Fight” Has Now Landed at Amazon!

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Hi, Everyone.


I just wanted to have my official “the story has landed” post to let everyone out there (who isn’t on my Facebook or Google+ lists) know that you can now get “The Fight” from Amazon for 99 cents.  That’s less than a dollar, folks.


Here’s a little background on the story that you won’t get anywhere else:


As I talked about in a previous post, “The Fight” is one of the “camp” or “Lisa” stories.  As such, it falls into Dave Riggler’s teenage years.  The way that I have the book configured in my head right now, that would be the middle of the book.  It’s also the most stand-alone of all the stories.  As I’ve said before, all of the stories can stand on their own without reading anything else (which is only proper for a short story), but “The Fight” has the least connectedness of any of the stories.  The only character you’ll meet in “The Fight” that you’ll see in any other story is Dave.   That becomes important towards the end of Long-Distance Dedications, but that’s all I’m going to say on that score.

Believe it or not, one of the challenging things about writing “The Fight” was all of the handicapped people in it.  There are really two things that’re difficult about that:

1)  I don’t particularly like writing about being handicapped.  The more “handicapped” a story is, the more one-dimensional it feels to me.  Dave is obviously in a wheelchair, but I try not to write about Dave being in a wheelchair.  Trust me on this:  Writing about what it’s really like to be in a wheelchair would make for some pretty boring writing, or it would be too much information, if you get my meaning.  Nobody wants to hear that much personal detail about someone unless they’re dating or family.  It’d just be weird.

2)  It was important to me to get Tyrone’s speech patterns right (or at least, close to what I would hear them as).  The last thing I would want is to come across as disrespectful or mocking of someone with a speech problem.  That’s not who I am.  Tyrone is a fairly unpleasant character,  but I want to give him the respect he deserves.

I also want to say a word about a word:


That word has become very loaded in recent times, and is seen as a slur.  That’s not the way Dave uses it, and it certainly isn’t meant to offend anyone who reads the story.  Back before a certain time (and I can’t tell you exactly, but certainly in the 1980’s or before), “retarded” was a descriptor, not a slur.  You would say someone was retarded the way you’d say they were a paraplegic or quadriplegic.  In modern times, it’s become an insult, something to be ashamed of.  I think that’s unfortunate.  Anyway, I don’t use it to destigmatize it or to be shocking.  I use it because it’s a word of its time,  and because it’s the word Dave would’ve used.  He wouldn’t use it with malice, and neither would I.

Anyway, I hope you’ll check out the story, and leave a review on Amazon, if you’d be so kind. 🙂