New Novel Published

24 Nov

Just a quick note to let you all know my new novel has been published, and you can find it by following this link.

So far I have only published the paperback. There are some issues for the ebook, and right now I don’t have time to deal with those issues. I’ll let you know when I work it all out.

This is the 6th in the Shadow series, and I think the best. It was fun to further develop some of the main characters.  Now they get a break while I work on a stand-alone novel which has waited patiently for its turn.  In six months, I’ll return to the Shadow series, I’m sure.

Anyway, there you have it. Thanks in advance if you purchase it, and thanks always for following this blog.

Be well, be safe, and for my American friends, Happy Thanksgiving!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Odds and Ends

17 Nov

A quick moment of self-promotion: “Shadows Across The Pond” is coming this week. I thought it would be published by now, but the review process on Amazon is taking longer than usual.  Stay tuned!

BLOGGING

How many of you have a blog? I’m just curious.  Why do you have one?  What value do you get from it?  You can answer in the comment section if you want; or don’t! I started out blogging as a way of adding to my writing platform. Today, though, I simply blog because I enjoy it. My following is small, but I’m fine with that. It’s just for my enjoyment, and the interaction with others is a pleasant bonus for this introvert.

How about vlogging? Podcasting? Facebook Live? Do any of you do any of that?

I still think I’m going to do a podcast one of these days. Self-deception is a wonderful thing. It’s like taking hallucinogenic drugs without taking the drugs.

YOUTUBE VIDEOS

A confession: I’m a Youtube junkie! I love videos about tiny houses and farming. Right now I’m hooked on two in particular: “Farmhouse Vernacular” and “Gold Shaw Farm.”  The farmhouse video in particular is entertaining and habit-forming because of the young woman who produces and stars in it.  She is simply a delight to watch. Very little of what she says about their farm applies to my life, but I enjoy her enthusiasm and her willingness to take on any job with a childlike spirit of adventure.  Plus she’s kind of a goofy dork, and I like goofy dorks.

Anyway, I mention those two because they have huge followings on YouTube, and I suspect the huge followings are because of the delivery and personalities.  You have to be able to sell your own work, whether you are a YouTuber or a writer or an artist.  Without self-promotion, you are doomed to languish in relative obscurity.  Now me, I’m quite comfortable living in obscurity, but there may be some of you who would enjoy a little limelight, so that’s why I mention it.

REFLECTIONS

From a writer’s standpoint, I wish I was younger. I wish I had started this writing journey twenty years ago, when I had the time, desire, and fortitude to really dive into it and make a success of it.  Today, well, I just write because I enjoy it. I doubt seriously if I’ll ever find fame, but I’m fine with that.  It would be nice to receive a sizeable income from my writing, but the effort it would take, today, to make that happen just isn’t something I’m willing to expend.

I’m just being real!

I know I can write. I know I can write well, and that’s all the confirmation and affirmation I need.

It’s nice to be that secure.  It took me a long time to reach this point of inner-security in my life, but I finally made it, and for that I say “HOORAY!”

I hope this finds you well!  Have a fantastic week, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you down the road of life.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Trudging Along in Relative Obscurity

20 Oct

I haven’t written on this site for a while.  It’s not like I’ve taken a break from writing. The opposite is true, actually, I’ve been so busy that this blog just wasn’t important to me.  Besides, it’s not like I have thousands of followers, so I didn’t feel like I was disappointing throngs of people by not writing here.

No followers here

How the hell do people get thousands of followers, anyway?  It blows me away, really.  I was watching some Youtube channels last night, and one woman has like ten-thousand followers for her channel, and the whole thing is about renovating an old farmhouse in Kentucky.  Now granted, she’s a good-looking woman, and I hope I doesn’t sound sexist but that has to help, right?  But still, ten-thousand loyal followers?

And the leader on Youtube in 2018 was a seven-year old kid who did toy reviews, had millions of followers, and made $22 million that year.  A seven-year old kid.

Anyway, I have a couple dozen, and I’m grateful for them.

THE BOOK

One more read-through and then “Shadows Across The Pond” will be complete. Give me a week after that, and it will be published.  So let’s call it a November 1st Publishing date.

I had plans to then write a stand-alone novel about growing up in the 60’s, but my wife, Bev, had other plans for me. She wants me to re-write my very first novel, “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday To Today,” in my writing style today. In fact, she wants me to write a trilogy based on that original book.

So that’s what I’m doing. The working title of that new, old book, is “Resurrecting Hope,” and I’m kind of excited to do it.  It’s a fantasy about climate change, and the environment, which is actually what my other blog, “The Art of Living Simple,” is about.

There are times when Bev knows me better than I know me, and that’s a bit frightening.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. I wish I was younger, if only because I would do this writing thing a bit differently. I would take social media seriously, and use my marketing degree to help me self-promote and actually, like, make an effort to sell my writing.

But that just doesn’t interest me now that I’m seventy-two. I write now for my enjoyment, and if others find my words to be of interest, fantastic.  If not, well, I’m still having fun.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Finding Inspiration In Everyday Places

22 Sep

Occasionally I come across a comment from one of my followers, and the comment goes something like this: “I’m just not feeling inspired lately, so I haven’t written in a while; I can’t seem to think of anything to write.”

And I want to scream at that person, “For the love of God, inspiration is all around you,” but then my kinder angels intervene and allow me to be a bit more understanding.

The thing is yes, there is inspiration all around us but, still, there are competing forces which block that inspiration on a daily basis.  Our muse is constantly doing battle with the bills which must be paid, and the job that must be found, and the kids who need meals fixed for them, and trips to the Vet and family members who want to talk and phones and social networks and bad health and deaths and taxes and . .

I’m exhausted! How about you?

So, this is a message for all of you who are experiencing constipation of the mind: It’s all right!  Don’t fight it!  Allow inspiration to wash over you at its own pace.

I WAS WATCHING A DOCUMENTARY THE OTHER DAY

I watch a lot of documentaries, so the fact I was watching one isn’t news. This particular doc was about a husband and wife who took a rundown piece of property, about five acres, barren and unused, and turned it into a lush forest/jungle with twenty years of loving determination.  It was inspiring and it gave birth to an article idea.

OUT TAKING A WALK

Lady passes by, going the opposite direction, takes a look at my dog Maggie, and asks what kind of dog Maggie it.  “Northwest Farm Terrier,” I reply, “a fairly new breed started in Port Angeles about thirty years ago,” and the woman remarks she is thinking of buying a dog for her son, who is autistic, how she’s thinking a loyal dog companion would help her son to navigate through life.

I guarantee that woman will be in a short story or novel one of these days.

LISTENING TO THE OLDIES

I’m sorry, but I’m stuck on the Oldies. I will occasionally listen to some current music, but I would guess 90% of the time, it’s music from the 60’s and 70’s I listen to as I go about my day.  And the thing is, I can pretty much tell you the year of every song I hear, and I can relate to you an event in my life which happened while that particular song was playing way back then.

That’s how important music is to us all.  It’s like a time machine made up of notes.

Inspiration through music – we all are capable of it if we can just find a way to clear our minds and allow it to happen.

AND THAT’S REALLY WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT FOR ME

For this writer, finding inspiration is really as simple as allowing my mind to go blank, and being open to the messages being sent my way.  Now granted, that’s easy to say, but not nearly as easy as do. Back to those bills and dwindling bank accounts and illnesses and deaths, the everyday stuff which overloads us, at times, and prevents inspiration from flourishing, and I understand totally, but still . . .

Where do you find your inspiration?

PODCAST UPDATE

I wish! I just can’t carve out the time to do a podcast.  It’s still there, waiting for me to do it, and I better figure it out soon. I ain’t getting any younger.  The good news, though, is that I’ll be finished with my newest novel, “Shadows Across The Pond,” in two weeks, and then I’ll begin the process of formatting it for publication on Amazon.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Creating A New Reality

6 Aug

Let me take you back to Tacoma, Washington, 1960.  I was twelve years old when I received a new transistor radio for Christmas.  For those of you who are far too young to know what I’m talking about, a transistor radio was about the size of a cell phone, a little bulkier, and it ran on batteries.  It was a big thing back in 1960. It meant I could listen to music while riding my bike and, in my case, I could take it to bed with me and listen to my favorite baseball team, the Tacoma Giants, play games long after my bedtime without my parents knowing it.  Sneaky little bugger I was.

The play-by-play announcer for the Giants was a man by the name of Don Hill, and I loved listening to his broadcasts.  Like any good sports announcer, he made the game come alive, giving the listener a great experience without having to actually attend the game.

Neither the Giants nor the radio station, KTAC, could afford to send a radio announcer to “away” games, places like Portland or Hawaii or Sacramento, so Don and his wife would “call” the game from the KTAC radio studio.  Gail would be on the phone with some person at the Hawaii game, that person would tell her every pitch and all the action, and Gail would relay that information, on notes, to her husband, who would then call the game as if he was seeing it.  He would clap two pieces of wood together to imitate the sound of the bat hitting the ball.  He had “canned” crowd noises so it sounded like the crowd was really into the game.  You could hear vendors yelling out “Peanuts, popcorn, cold drinks,” and I swear, even though we knew Don was not in Hawaii, it was as if he was.

Great memories!

Which got me thinking, the other day while out walking the dogs, that Don Hill’s call of the game was similar to what we do as fiction writers.  We create a reality out of practically nothing and, if we do a really good job of it, people will feel like they are actually experiencing the action with the characters.

Just something to think about on this lazy summer day.

Be well, be safe, and do all things with love.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

The End of a Joyful Life

28 Jul

An obituary I came across the other day:

Jean Kennedy Jean was born on August 21, 1931 in Blackpool, England. She passed away in Olympia Washington on July 2, 2020. She was a loving mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister and friend. She was born to parents William Henry Jessop and wife Margaret of Blackpool England. Jean’s two sisters were: Barbara Alton of Vancouver B.C., husband Derek, daughter Diane and son David; Margaret Moore of Blackpool England, husband David, son Graham and wife Linda, son Lawrence. Her Children were: Daughter Barbara Haskell, husband Michael Haskell; granddaughter Kelle, husband James, two great granddaughters; grandson Brian; grandson Randy, wife Christina and 4 great grandchildren. Son Michael Kennedy, wife Evelyne; grandson Robert, wife Nicole and great grandson; granddaughter Jamie, husband Anthony, great granddaughter and new baby on the way. As a young woman she moved to the united State to be married to Warren Kennedy of Colville Washington, the two met while Warren (Pete) was stationed in the UK and Europe while in the US Air force. After a career as a mother and home maker she worked for the retail clerks union in the grocery / bakery business in Yakima Washington. She retired from work in Yakima and a few years later moved to the Olympia Washington area to be closer to family and friends. She loved home decorating, entertaining and various social functions. She enjoyed playing cards, bowling, bingo, doing puzzles and walking along the water front of Olympia as it reminded her of her early years living along the Irish Sea in Back pool England. Blackpool is a beautiful costal town along the western coast with a famous scenic promenade walkway that goes past the Blackpool Tower. She always did a daily prayer for all of her family and friends that were always on her mind and in her heart. Her smile! Though her smile has gone forever and her hand I cannot touch, I still have so many memories of the one I loved so much. Her memory is my keepsake with which I’ll never part, God has her in his keeping and I have her in my heart.

 

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.

 

I didn’t know this woman.  In fact, oddly, I didn’t even realize people still wrote out obituaries for their loved ones. I just thought this was something that went the way of the dinosaurs.

An entire life summarized in what, three-hundred words?  Eighty-nine years of living, succinctly shared with the reading public, all that is left of this unremarkable, remarkable woman.

Dust to dust!

I’m sure, if it were possible to sit down with Jean right now, she would tell us all that those eighty-nine years went by in the blink of an eye.  She would express wonder in how it all happened so quickly. I’m sure she would have a few regrets.  I’m sure she would beam if asked about her loved ones.

One life among seven-point-eight billion lives.

Death is the ultimate lesson in humility, don’t you think?

Seven-point-eight billion, but here’s the remarkable thing:  Jean was unique, a one-of-a-kind treasure among all of them, just as I am, just as you are.  There is no one else like me, like her, like you, the most precious treasure in the world, and that makes us all priceless gems.

Just random thoughts by this introverted writer on a day when reflections flow like sweet honey.

Have a great day, unless you’ve made other plans.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

The Engine of a Story

14 Jul

More naps these days

If a child cries in a loveless home, does he or she make a sound?

Can love be given if never experienced?

Does evil exist, or do people simply do evil acts?

Can violence ever be justified?

And what is justice in a “civilized” world?

Can love conquer all?

THE BIRTH OF A STORY OR NOVEL

That’s how my short stories and novels begin – with a question – and from there I build a story surrounding the question.  Truthfully, the whole creative process still baffles me some, but I’ve learned not to fight it. I just let it flow and trust my muse to take me where she wants me to go.

CREATING A MEMORABLE CHARACTER

Have you ever watched the television show “Blacklist?”  The main character in that show, Raymond Reddington, played by James Spader, is one of the most unique characters I have ever seen.  He is a complex man, good and evil, with a quirky personality.  He’s one of those guys you want to hate, but he’s so entertaining you can’t bring yourself to reject him.

It’s that type of character I love to create.  It was with that in mind that I created Eli Baker and Striker in my Shadow novels.  These are stone-cold killers, but likeable killers with a code of justice.  Baker spouts philosophy and is, at times, tortured by life and his character flaws.  Striker is not a man you want to meet in a dark alley, but there is a loyalty about him which makes him compelling.

Or so I hope!

THE STORY OR THE CHARACTER

So what propels a novel, the storyline/plot or the characters?  In my mind it is a combination of the two.  A good story needs fascinating characters, but the characters need a blueprint to follow.

Matt Scudder, created by Lawrence Block . . . Dave Robicheaux by James Lee Burke . . . these are greatly-flawed characters who give us an insight into the frailties of mankind, and I love that kind of creativity.  The characters are so dominating that they can carry even an average plot.  And yet you take some fairly normal characters, like the ones found in “To Kill A Mockingbird,” and you put them in a brilliant plot, and that works as well.

Great stuff!

Anyway, I’m rambling. I have a front porch to put back together now that I’ve taken it apart, so I’ll stop here and let you all get back to your creativity.  Have a brilliantly happy day, unless you’ve made other plans.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Painting a Picture

23 Jun

I’m not artistic!   Not in the way of picking up a paintbrush and doing a portrait or still-life, that sort of artistic; I might have some bones with word artistry, but no way with painting or sculpting.

But lately I have noticed that I am more aware of my surroundings, like my “artist’s eye” has suddenly been enhanced.

My wife and I, and our two dogs, were out walking along the Chehalis Western Trail the other day.  It’s a walking/biking path along an old train track route, and it stretches for many, many miles.  The Olympia leg of the trail is about six miles long, but then it continues past the Olympia City limits and moves through countryside all the way to the city of Tenino about, gosh, maybe twenty miles away.

Anyway, it’s a wonderful thing they have done, the county planners, paving this trail, a safe place for walkers and bikers.

So we were on it the other day, a good day for walking, cool but dry, and we were surrounded by nature, and I was noticing that the “greenery” was actually comprised of many shades of green.  They call our state the Evergreen State, referring to all of the evergreen firs and pines we have, but I think that does Mother Nature a disservice.  Green is an inadequate word, you know.

The dictionary tells us that synonyms for green include: grownleafylushluxuriantovergrownverdant . . .

But even that doesn’t paint an adequate picture. How about different shades of green, which would include jade and mint and aquamarine and emerald and pine and teal and . . .

So I was overwhelmed by the majesty of it all, and my inability to accurately capture a simple forest setting in words.  And yet that’s my job as a writer, to find the perfect words which capture the perfect settings which surround us daily.

It is a sacred quest we are on!

COACHING

Working with other writers as a coach has helped me to appreciate writing on a higher level.  Many of my students just want to tell the story. They are in a hurry to just get the facts down, the bare-bones “outline,” if you will, of a story that has been rattling around in their brain for a long, long time.  Most of the work I do, as a writing coach, is to help my students to “flesh out” the details of the story, to help them to set scenes and paint a picture with words . . . and . . . to interject the emotional component to their writings.

It is a job I love, teaching, a job I take seriously.

Writing?  Not a job at all.  Writing is a passion, one I also take seriously.

Go forth and create!  Paint a picture with words and dazzle the world with it.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

It’s A Thing, You Know!

2 Jun

IT’S A THING, YOU KNOW

So I’m out walking one of our two dogs, Toby, aka Mister Mellow, and he’s on a long leash, minding his own business, sniffing grass, sniffing dog poop, that sort of thing, and I note a woman approaching us.  She is on the same sidewalk, so I guide Toby over into the street.

A mental picture if you will: I’m in the street, Toby on leash, Toby moves slightly over towards the woman, to check her out, new sniffing to be done, and as we pass each other I estimate Toby is about three feet from the woman, wagging his tail, quite happy to make a new friend.

And I hear these words:  “Your dog really isn’t practicing social distancing. He’s supposed to be six feet from humans.  Social distancing is a thing, you know.”

I don’t have the time to relate to you all the things I thought about saying. I do remember thinking this woman is lucky I’m not forty years younger, because my younger self was not nearly as forgiving and calm.

What did I say to her?  “Courtesy and paranoia are things too, you know.  Have a great day!”

Toby, he was pretty much unaffected by it all.

I was amused.

REFLECTIONS

There are seven-point five billion people on this planet.  I was thinking about this the other day.  Every single one of those seven-point-five billion is living life right now. They are facing problems. They are having successes. They are laughing and crying and pondering and fretting. They are living a life which, to them, is pretty damned important. They are tucked into their own little universe, trying to traverse a bigger universe.  They are products of their lineage. Their DNA is wired in such a way as to make them unique among their species and yet quite similar.

It’s amazing we all don’t go to war daily when you think about it.  It’s really amazing to me we get along with anyone.

That woman I met? She obviously had an agenda. She was worried.  She was worried to the point of being a bit “over the top,” a bit paranoid, if you will, and she allowed that paranoia to cloud her thinking.

I’ve been there and done that.

The seventy-one year old Bill sees things a bit differently than the thirty-one year old Bill, and thank the gods for that small favor. I have mellowed considerably over the years. I like to think I’ve grown a bit wiser during that same span. I now have a muffler I can use to prevent my “instant thoughts” from escaping my lips, and that’s a good thing for all around me.

So I felt a bit bad for even saying what I said to her.

But I also felt justified and pleased.

We humans are complicated, you know!

Writers of the world, poets of the world, this is what we do.  We observe. We ponder. We reflect.  And we try our best to capture this thing called life with our words.

A NEW FRIEND

I started following this young woman’s blog the other day. She is fifteen years old and she writes about philosophical questions and dilemmas.  At fifteen I could barely spell “philosophical,” let alone ponder any philosophy.  It gives me hope, reading her thoughts.  Her name is Saania Sparkle . . . you can find her on Facebook if you’re interested, and that should lead you to her blog.

Wishing you all a brilliant day of capturing life with your words.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

The Sun and the Moon

26 May

I see sunshine and beautiful colors

COMPLETE RANDOMNESS

The sun no longer smiles upon me,

The moon, cold and uncaring.

Two lines which popped into my head at six a.m. four days ago.

I have no idea where they came from or what inspired them, but there they are, staring at me from my online page, with nowhere to go.

I’m not a poet, so chances are they will go nowhere at all, but that’s how my muse works. I call her Hope, my muse. Why? Because why not!  It’s as good a name as any; better than many.  Anyway, that’s how Hope works. She will toss random words and lines into my brain. Some I catch, like a lazy flyball on a summer’s day, the outfield grass soft underfoot, a gentle breeze, the ball settling softly into the web of my mitt, and some scream beyond my glove, exit velocity one-oh-nine off the bat, rising as it approaches me, well-beyond my reach, over the wall, a grand slam homer for some other writer.

And so it is for many of us who write, the uncertainty and wonder and randomness of it all.

I love it!

A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME

The things is, and I don’t know why, but I look at those two lines and I absolutely guarantee I could write five-thousand words about them in a short story.  But a poem?  That’s not happening!  It’s just not the way my writer’s brain works.

It’s been interesting working with other writers in my coaching duties.  We all have different perspectives. We all seem to have a specific slant to our writings. We can look at exactly the same thing and see fifty different things, and transform those things into prose or poetry or soapbox rants, meandering our way through a half-million words, piecing together, sorting through, finding just the right one, discarding many, like a pile of Legos becomes a structure or a weapon or – or – or

And God help me, I love it all!

RANDOM THOUGHT WHILE WATCHING THE VOICE

I was thinking about it all, this writing journey, while watching American television viewers pick the wrong finalists on The Voice.  Don’t get me wrong, Micah seems like a really nice kid, but one of the Top Five? Really?

But I was thinking, there is probably a miniscule chance, at best, that my writing will ever “go viral,” as they like to say these social media days.  Most likely my writings will go the way of the dinosaur.  There will be evidence that it existed, but it will be fairly difficult to see proof of that fact, none of my books on bookshelves, none in libraries, and none on any of the bestseller lists. And my articles? Floating around the web, they will be, forever bits of information, available to anyone who manages the correct search query on Google, but few will actually be read ten years from now.

And yet I write, just like those singers on The Voice who were rejected, and just like the street musicians and street artists and any other creatives out there who follow a voice no one else hears, and follow it because they must, for writing feeds my soul, and writing brings me enjoyment and satisfaction and quiets the inner demons who would have me follow a much-more dangerous path

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT

The sun no longer smiles upon me, and yet it does, those words not applicable in my real life, not now, not for thirteen years, not as long as I continue to write and continue to love.

Just random thoughts on this May afternoon, a quick summation of the creative process for yours truly.

Does anyone remember The Walker Brothers from the 60’s music scene? “The Sun Ain’t Going To Shine Anymore?”  Randomness!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”