Posts tagged ‘the presidents club’

The Seven Things (about my writing) Challenge

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Recently, a couple of my author friends tagged me in a writing project. The assignment: post seven things about your writing.

1. My writing is done at a standing desk.

2. When I start a book, the first and last chapters are written first.

3.  I do not use an outline.TouristKillerNewCover-LRG

4.  In the beginning, notes are made on main and significant characters. As the writing continues, the characters grow and change and take on their own identities and display their strengths and weaknesses.

5.  My plan is to avoid the “dark and stormy night” syndrome. Establish the setting with a few brief sentences, then let the characters tell the story in dialog. Not fond of the omniscient narrator. Instead of writing that the elderly lady sang off key, I bring out the old woman and let her sing.

6.  I read a lot of old books, take notes, then use them for inspiration and ideas in my books.

7.  I enjoy writing dialog. I get into character for each speaker. My dialog has received critical praise. I believe I do good with it because I’m a good listener. My wife says it’s because I talk a lot.

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BONUS: I write for the same reason many readers read—escape. My characters are the voices in my head and I enjoy spending time with these people.

FIND OUT seven special things about the writing of Charley Descoteaux and Jeff Tsuruoka

What the shooter knows before squeezing the trigger.

Group Dynamics crowdTravis Bickle lurks just a few rows from where the President is shaking hands with the crowd.
Twenty yards away, Squeaky Fromme waits with the patience of a tortoise.
John Hinckley is an adolescent who observes every movement.
A select detail of Secret Service Agents execute their duties to perfection.
The President works the crowd and departs the airport unharmed in his limousine, “The Beast.”

From her hotel room on the forty-second floor, Claudia Barry lowered her binoculars, smiled, and thought to herself, I could have choreographed that entire scene.

Her confidence in doing so comes from the fact that she was the first person to earn a (fictitious) masters degree in group dynamics from LSU (or anywhere else for that matter.)

The study of a system of behaviors and psychological processes which occur within a social group, or between social groups and individuals within and/or outside of either, is group dynamics. An in-depth understanding of these interactions coupled with knowledge of the subject individual will assist observers in predicting the subject’s movements and response to the movement of others. Such facts as the subject’s personality profile and handedness are key elements to anticipate reactions as well. (How many U.S. Presidents were left-handed?)

Ms. Barry earned an undergraduate degree in sociology with a minor in psychology from the University of Arkansas. She learned to shoot from her grandfather who was a retired motorcycle repairman (a subtle reference to Zen) and had enjoyed watching the movement of animals in the woods. She attended numerous church services, political cocktail parties, and trials to study the way humans moved in response to others. She took private dance lessons and applied what she learned while moving through crowded subway stations and common areas. Mardis Gras parades were a favorite for personal challenges.
How close can I get to the mayor?
Can I shake hands with the grand marshall on the parade route?
She interviewed street performers and scrutinized every move they made, especially as they interacted with the impromptu audiences.
To add legitimacy to her project and to mask her unconscionable motive, she titled her thesis paper, Security in Space: The dynamics and challenges of providing personal security in high risk environments.

The Presidents Club

My second novel, The Presidents Club, will be officially released on Amazon Tuesday, Nov. 19.
It will be available as an e-book for Kindle and soon will be available for Nook.
Already seeing some reviews coming in.ThePresidentsClubFinal2 Watch for a blog soon on how the series title was selected.
Since it features characters from both my first two books, I’m going with, “The Barry-Hixon Conspiracy.”

To support the Tuesday release, my blog this weekend in the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop showcases

eight sentences from TPC.

“For Whom Did You Last Vote” can be found HERE.

Writing — as a second language?

“You see what I’m saying?”

“No, I hear what you are saying. I cannot see it.”

Does that conversation sound familiar?

Have you been tempted to respond that way when someone asks if you can see what they are saying?

Has an author ever given you a plot that you could see?

Have you ever told a story and your listeners responded favorably?

Ever notice how good the story was when you had good listeners?

The story got even better when the listeners were better.

Was their response so favorable, that you decided to put that same story into writing?

How long did it take to reduce a two minute story to print?

Whether you were writing longhand or typing, it’s highly likely that it took much longer to write the same story that previously was available only verbally.

Ever wonder why?

Donald Davis has.

He wondered so much about it he did lots of research.

His research focused on teaching non-writers how to write.

Just as Betty Edwards has shown that willing students can learn to draw (and draw well), Davis asserts that non-writers can be taught to become accomplished authors.

Here’s another conversation you’ve probably had:

 “Don’t ask Janice what time it is.”

 “Why not?” is the reply.

 “She’ll spend an hour telling you how the clock works and you’ll never find out the time.”

The trait of being a great storyteller doesn’t give you a free pass on becoming a great writer. In Writing as a Second Language, Davis details the five-step transition of the spoken word (stories) into print. He defines and reviews the development of language. In this case, to become better purveyors of the written word, practitioners are well-served by knowing how the clock works. It saves time.Image

Davis reveals the logic behind the title as he explains that writing, like learning a foreign language, is a skill the student learns.  Few of us are born “natural” writers. For the rest of us, we can rely on Davis’s five-step (thank God it isn’t twelve steps) plan to become a better writer.

No doubt, some writers have been employing Davis’s recommendations for years unconsciously.

Now we can all become better writers, on purpose.

“You hear what I’m writing?”

The Usual Suspects

Usual Suspects article

In 1968, my high school football team won eight games and lost one during the regular season. The Mangham Dragons were district 2-B co-champs. An 8 X 10 photo of the team hangs on the wall near my computer. (See top right, notice red label.)

My wife asked me about the photo one day and I started naming all the players — by number.
Number 8 is Oliver Douglas.
Thirty-one is Tommy Pailette.
Twenty-one is Lynn Mercer.
I went on and on. The names came back to me without hesitation.

About two weeks ago, I finished reading and reviewed Dancing Priest, a book by Glenn Young. There were four significant characters.
Several times, I got them so confused, I had to write out a flow chart.
Brother, sister, roommates, friends, twins.

How could I remember dozens of names from forty years ago and couldn’t keep four characters separated now?

In the fall of 2011, I read Michael Crichton’s last book that was finished by Richard Preston. Micro featured a group of seven students. In the opening pages of the book, readers were treated to a list of characters and a brief description. It was a great help. I referred to it often while reading the book.

Now, I’m involved with another book featuring a group of seven characters. It’s my own book, The Presidents Club. While writing it, I’ve referred to my notes many times. An important point my editor/mentor brings up every time we talk is how to avoid confusing my readers.

Authors know more about their characters and stories than the readers.
Authors certainly know background information unavailable to the reader, unless it is revealed in the written word.

If I cannot remember four characters and their relationships, why should my readers be expected to sort out and remember almost a dozen characters? An added complication is that my book is serialized, one chapter each week.

One step we will take soon is to begin presenting two chapters a week rather than one.

Another step is this list of characters with brief descriptions. When The Presidents Club becomes available as an e-book and a trade paperback, this same list will appear in the front near the opening pages.

 

Cast of main characters in The Presidents Club by FCEtier

John Hixon – ex-FBI agent hired by Thibaut to protect the Presidents Club

Julian Thibaut – billionaire investor/political activist currently promoting an initiative to improve government efficiency and encourage public participation

Gerald Point – chief of Thibaut’s personal security staff

Rosemary Woods – Thibaut’s secretary

Carl “Louie” Chaisson – former pharmacist now part owner/bartender of the Louisville Tavern

 

     The Presidents Club:

          Abraham “Abe” Region – retired school teacher now janitor at Holiday Inn Express

          Ronald Gold – U.S. Air Force retired, former member special ops

          Woodrow “Woody” Risk – retired Lowes manager, domino expert, and math savant

          George Ridge – general surgeon paralyzed from waist down, speed reader

          Thomas “Tommy” Pritchett – former Baptist minister

          Ulysses “Useful” Fishinghawk – retired college professor

          Franklin York – retired chiropractor, photographic memory

Care about the Future? Don’t Miss More than One Vote on PBS

Classic voting machine. Very similar to the one on which I cast my first vote in Louisiana.

Our guest blogger this week is Miriam Goldberg.

We are pleased to present her review of a documentary mentioned in Chapter Four of The Presidents Club.

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A deeply thought-provoking examination of the state of education in America and its impact on  politics, More than One Vote debuts this week on public television stations (see local listings for day and time). In an era when voters—and citizens eligible to vote who can’t be bothered—question the value of their votes and resent their exclusion from the processes of government “by the people,” More than One Vote examines Americans’ attitudes about self-governing and their familiarity with how government works.

According to More than One Vote,” A better educated and informed electorate will demand a more  responsible government.” The program explores the work and ideals of individuals and institutions developing programs to teach how government works; classes in Civics, American History, and Free Enterprise for school-aged students; activities including essay and poster contests; and programs that encourage voters to be better informed.

In addition to fostering education, an advocacy program is being designed, aimed to develop non-biased congressional watch groups, monitor congressional attendance and voting records, establish educational oversight groups, and  conduct government efficiency studies. Skeptics, such as this reviewer, may wonder if such an expansive project is too ambitious to succeed, but will secretly cross their fingers and hope this initiative will have a positive impact on American politics and society.

Participating in More than One Vote, are journalists, educators, activists, and representatives of organizations dedicated to improving education, social issues, government, and politics. Also interviewed are notables such as Henry Kissinger, Benita Bogart, Danny Glover, Lise Egstrom, and Rupert Murdoch.

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More Than One Vote and this related review are works of fiction. Names, characters, corporations, institutions, and organizations mentioned are the product of the author’s imagination, or, if real, are used fictitiously without any intent to describe their actual conduct. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or events is entirely coincidental.

Disclosure — Take Bill’s word for it

What would happen if the President of the United States survived an assassination attempt (not by Claudia Barry) only to emerge from the hospital blind?
Sightless.
No hope of regaining his eyesight.
Would that mean he had lost his vision? [One of many clever double entendres from Safire.]

William Safire, the late New York Times columnist, addressed the issue of an impaired president in his book, Full Disclosure. Surprisingly, the twenty-fifth amendment addressed this issue in the constitution. Fortunately for Safire’s plot, but not for the nation, the authors of the addendum left the issue blurred — a bit out of focus.Full Disclsure - CVR

Since completing Safire’s book on presidential politics, I’ve begun reading one of several collections of his columns from the New York Times Sunday Magazine, “On Language.”

Take My Word for It was published in 1986 as a follow-up to its 1980 precursor, eponymously titled, On Language. Collections of essays are a favorite for me as it fits in with the demands of my reading time and offers a refreshing diversion.

Today’s reading includes this excerpt from Safire:
“My favorite calumniating adjective is revolving, a word with a spin on it. When asked why he called someone ‘a revolving S.O.B.,’ Harry Truman supposedly replied, ‘He’s an S.O.B. any way you look at him.’”

Word Origins and Their Romantic Stories is another preferred reference as well as an additional satisfaction for my hunger for a better understanding of words, their usage, and their etymology.

Watch for my articles on each of the above-named books.

Watch for them in the future, because as Criswell said so famously in Plan 9 from Outer Space, “We are all interested in the future for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.”

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