Archive for the ‘Novels’ category

Saying Goodbye…Kinda!

September 9, 2021

Yesterday was my last day teaching/leading/corraling my seventh-grade language arts students. Divided amongst four classes, about 90 students at various levels of maturity and immaturity would descend upon me each day to engage in the “E’s”: Entertainment, Experience, Expression (creative writing), and Education. Some days, perhaps, there was more entertainment than education!

I had been asked to fill in until a new teacher could be hired. Since I’m a “pretend teacher” (pseudo instructor), I wasn’t being considered for the teaching position. I was simply acting as the rubber band around the personalities until someone with the right credentials could be located. It’s the same position that I ended up filling for the whole year in 2020-2021. I could have stayed a while longer this year, but needed to be step to the side before the ninety bundles of joy became to attached to me.

As it is, a number of them were looking at me with pleading eyes yesterday. Without putting myself on a very shaky pedestal, most of the munchkins enjoyed my classes. We learned about the importance of commas (The difference a comma can make between the meaning of “Let’s eat, Grandpa!” and “Let’s eat Grandpa!”), creative and imaginative writing, kindness in words and actions, and learning how to support opinions with reasons for those opinions.

But more than learning, my classes included rolls of Smarties, a back wall of Far Side cartoons that were arranged to spell the word “Smile”, conversation, bad puns, a daily Wolfe Wisdom saying and Trivia Question, and Beanie Babies used to indicate the student was going to the restroom.

I enjoyed it…and am glad I’m done! This morning I occupied my Starbucks stool again, last one of the right facing out toward Pikes Peak, and savored my Pike Place medium brew. Tomorrow I’ll probably get a call asking me to fill a vacancy for a day.

My teaching team threw me a “Kinda Going Not Far Away Party”, complete with balloons, chocolate cake, and card. One of the students gave me Chips Ahoy cookies, and several asked me why I’m leaving with a tone in their voice that conveyed my physical demise was about to begin.

So today, once again, I’m attacking the writing of the final book (Book 4) in my RED HOT novel series, creating the further adventures of middle-schooler Ethan Thomas and his flaming redheaded friend, Randy “Red Hot” Bowman. The previous three and a half weeks have provided me with new fodder for the fiction.

To that Ethan Thomas would probably say, “Jiminy Cricket!”

The Ethans of Life

September 5, 2021

One of the main characters in my RED HOT novel series is a middle school boy named Ethan Thomas. As Book 1 begins, the reader discovers that Ethan has thick-lensed eyeglasses, a buzz haircut, freckles, is short, and has no friends. He’s the kid that is there but nobody sees.

I developed his character out of some of my memories of middle school more than a half-century ago. I was the shortest kid in my class, had a buzz haircut, and wore glasses, although they didn’t have thick lenses. I did have friends, but always had that feeling of inadequacy as a result of my 4 foot 8 inch height in seventh-grade.

Now that I’m teaching a seventh-grade class (although I’m done this coming week), I see the Ethan’s that still side-step people walking down the hallway, the kids who long to belong but don’t quite jump over that wall with its constantly changing boundaries.

I can see it as they enter the classroom. Which students are chattering away with one another as they enter the room and which students come in with eyes lowered, unsure if someone will say something that causes them to feel smaller than they already are?

I see it as certain students stand in front of their lockers. They are the ones whose faces are almost buried inside the place that holds there possessions, hiding as best as they can from the mass of peers who crowd their space. The Ethan’s want to be noticed, and yet they have a fear that if they are noticed it will be in a demeaning sort of way.

I see them in the cafeteria sitting alone, or sitting as if they are a fenceposts between two groups of students, not a part of either groups’ conversations, just a student to indicate where one group ends and the other group begins. The Ethan’s sit there with their heads down and trying to eat their lunches in front of them that have lost their taste.

I see them in the classes where the assignment has students teaming up in groups of three or four. The Ethan’s become the filler that the teacher ends up assigning to a group. Sometimes the response from the group is positive, but sometimes a deep sigh can be heard in their acceptance of the one who has been put upon them. The Ethan’s are often afraid of contributing anything to the group out of a fear of being laughed at, even though great ideas percolate within him/her.

The thing is the Ethan’s of middle schools have the seeds of greatness, the potential to be heroes, the hearts to empathize, the imaginations to create, and the minds to figure out what needs to be done and can be done. In their loneliness amongst the masses they can make the difference between a school being just a school and a school being a great place of learning and developing life-long friendships.

Back to my growing-up days even though “growing” seemed to be the thing that eluded me. There were a few boys who made the difference for me. Mike Bowman and Terry Kopchak pulled me along with him during my 8th and 9th grade years when we lived in Zanesville, Ohio. Dave Hughes and Mike Fairchild picked me up through my last three years of high school after my family had moved to Ironton, Ohio. Those four guys made the difference. They got my face out of its locker hiding spots, made lunch a time of conversation instead of me feeling like a fencepost, and made me laugh just as much as I made them chuckle.

I pray that the Ethan’s I see everyday in our school hallways will find friends like that. Or, perhaps I should say, I hope they will be found by friends like that.

Being Filmed

August 11, 2021

Yesterday I experienced something that I hadn’t been a part of for a while: I was filmed, not for anything associated with Hollywood…yet! It was a videographer who taped me making comments about my RED HOT novels. He would ask me questions and then start recording my responses.

It’s one way that I’ve taken on a more proactive approach to telling people about my books. Promoting novels is a difficult task that often leads to the grinding of the author’s teeth and not shaving for three days. My videographer, Gary, did a great job in drawing out my ideas and perspectives, and answering a number of “Why” questions: Why did you write these books, why did you create your main characters in these ways, why would someone want to read the books? He filmed and interviewed for two hours and we both felt good about what had occurred.

Another person, Jordan, who I’ve known for a number of years, is getting my social media presence going. Even though I’ve written a blog for a number of years, I consider myself a social media illiterate. I flunked Instagram, sat in the back of the Twitter class hoping to go unnoticed, and my Facebook understanding can be seen in comments I make, such as “What’s this little thing right here that looks like nine dots on a Domino?” Jordan has figured out that there is not a question too elementary that I can’t ask. I’m like that first-grader again reading about Jane, Dick, Sally, Puff, and Spot. “Look, Puff! Look, Spot! Look, Puff and Spot!”

Years ago, when I was still pastoring First Baptist Church in Mason, Michigan (now known as Mason Community Church), our Sunday morning worship service was recorded and shown that next week on the local public access station. I didn’t really think about it at the time. During this time I was also on the Mason School Board and our monthly meetings were also recorded and broadcast. In each of those situations I was on screen, but there were others with me. Yesterday, it was me and me alone..except for people walking by behind us on the sidewalk.

There’s something about watching yourself on film. The way you pronounce words, the breaks, and pauses in your speech, your mannerisms…the blanket gets thrown off all of those things and you see yourself like a packet of raw sugar, unfiltered and revealed.

Of course, if I didn’t think the novels were readworthy I wouldn’t have done it. Friends of mine who I’ll just refer to as E&D, have continued to tell me that the books are great reads that people need to discover. They’ve said it so many times I’ve actually become a believer. They have done editing of the manuscripts for me, read through each book more than once to help correct errors but also question me on flow and plot twists. In other words, they’ve been very upfront about things that need correcting and “What were you thinking that day, Bill!!! Had you eaten something that didn’t agree with you?” So, if they’ve challenged me in some ways, their words of encouragement have taken root a well.

Yesterday, Gary said I had a good camera presence. I appreciate that. I’m not sure what it means, but I appreciate it. Did my grey hair not stand out because of the angle of the sun, or did I look more hip rather than “grandpa-y”? I’m sure no one was confusing me with Daniel Silva or John Sandford. For that matter, also Mr. Rogers and Captain Kangaroo (Showing my age there!).

We’ll see what happens!

(You can order any or all of the RED HOT novels on Amazon. Type in W.D. Wolfe or Red Hot: New Life in Fleming. Available in paperback or Kindle Version.)

Storyline Life Lessons

August 2, 2021

The third book in my RED HOT novel series was the most challenging and interesting book to write so far. Those who had already read the first two books in the series were anxiously anticipating the next part of the story. That created a bit of anxiety in my creative spirit. It needed to be good. Not that the first two books weren’t good, but this needed to be even a bit better.

When you write a sequel your readers already have pictures of the characters and their quirks, qualities, and shortcomings. New readers new to be introduced to them and bring them up to speed and who’s who without having to tell the whole story again. Continuing readers want to know what happens next to the protagonist, the antagonist, and the character that has tugged on their heartstrings.

A lot of questions go through a writer’s mind: What new characters can still be introduced? What new plot twists can be written that aren’t too much a reach for the reader? With a number of characters already introduced in the series, how can the storyline be written that is able to involve all of them, or do a couple need to disappear into the margins? Since the third book is further along in time, are there changes that need to be may in some of the adolescent’s lives, like getting a driver’s license or having a growth spurt?

A lot of thinking went into the plot formation before the writing began. And then there’s the life lessons. RED HOT is about friendship, seeing that everyone has value, rising above the low expectations of others, respecting one another, forgiveness, and grace. It’s about one boy who no one seems to see and another boy who can’t be missed. It’s about that kid in every school grade that seems to be invisible to his classmates as if he doesn’t matter, and another kid with bright red hair and extraordinary talent who everyone notices. It’s about an unlikely friendship that becomes an unbreakable bond. It’s a story about faith and prayer and rescue.

I received a note from the mom of a 6th Grade boy last week. He had read the latest book Red Hot: New Peace in Fleming in three days and loved it. A 75-year-old former high school basketball coach that my sister knows had received the first book in the series, read it in five days, and called my sister to find out where he could get Book 2. His two grown daughters response: “Dad, you read a book?”

Life lessons. I love writing stories that resonate with teachable moments and important values.

Last night, four from my oldest daughter’s family joined me in a Facebook Live reading of the first two chapters. What fun it was as we took on the voices of different characters!

And yes, I’ve started writing the fourth and final book in the series, Red Hot: New Hope in Fleming. And yes-yes, it is looking to be even more of a challenge than Book 3!

The Second Book

July 13, 2020

Getting a book published, using one of Jesus’s sayings, has been as easy as getting a camel through the eye of a needle. Rejection letters…er, email…have dotted my inbox. Mind you, I’m not whining- okay, maybe I am a little bit- it’s just being at that crossroads of doubt and belief. I’ve had friends who have told me, as they’ve firmed up their jaws, that my first book NEEDED to be published. It was that good. Since they’re connected to one of the Christian publishing companies (that, unfortunately, only publishes non-fiction) I’ve believed what they’re saying. On the other hand, there’s the rejection letters. IO know, I know, everyone who is looking to be published receives rejection letters, but that doesn’t make it easy to shrug them off and dance through a field of sunflowers.

So I went the Kindle Direct Publishing route. In other words, I decided on self-publishing through Amazon/Kindle. So far out of 11 reviews of my first novel, Red Hot: New Life in Fleming, the book has received 10 five-star ratings and 1 four-star. It’s been read by kids as young as 9 and adults as old as 70+. RED Hot Edit.jpg

The second book (Red Hot: New Grace in Fleming) came out last week. Once again, it’s through Amazon. Both books are “coming of age” stories centered on two main characters who become unlikely best friends. One, Randy “Red Hot” Bowman, is the new kid who has moved to Fleming, West Virginia. His hair is so red it looks like it’s on fire. But Red Hot also becomes his nickname on the basketball court because of his unbelievable talent for shooting a basketball. Ethan Thomas, two years younger than Randy, lives across the street and has to wear eyeglasses that have lens as thick as the bottom of RC Cola pop bottles. Before Randy moves to town Ethan was able to count the number of friends he had on less than one finger. He’s the favorite target of the two school bullies, and most of his teachers don’t believe he’s capable of doing anything more than mediocre.

In a fiction world of fantasy, science fiction, zombies, and dragons, the Red Hot Series tells of life in a 1990’s small town that is entertaining, realistic, but also carried important lessons about friendships, forgiveness, faith, and grace.

You can read the Amazon reviews of Red Hot: New Life in Fleming and order it in paperback ($11.99) or Kindle ($2.99). It’s also available for those who have Kindle Unlimited.

READING MY BOOK

April 20, 2020

Last Sunday night I began doing a Facebook Live reading of the novel I had come out a couple of months ago. Red Hot: New Life in Fleming is a story of an unlikely friendship between the thick-lensed, freckle-faced seventh-grader named Ethan Thomas; and his new neighbor, Randy “Red Hot” Bowman. Randy’s nickname is bestowed on him because of his bright red hair and hos basketball shooting touch. Ethan is the kid in every middle school class who doesn’t have any friends. He’s the one who gets picked last in P.E. class, and the kid who never gets invited anywhere. Randy’s father is coming to the small West Virginia town of Fleming to be the new pastor of the Baptist church. Fleming doesn’t get many new people, and now the new kid stands out because of his newness and his hair.

The two boys help each other face their giants. For Ethan, it’s the two school bullies, and for Randy, it’s the two seniors on the basketball team who are threatened by the 9th grader’s talent.

The story includes the victories and struggles for each boy and drives home the life principle that a true friend never leaves you no matter what.

If you’d like to listen to my reading of Chapters 2 and 3 on Sunday, April 26, I begin at 6:30 Mountain Time. The reading of Chapter 1 is on my Facebook page under my name “Bill Wolfe.”

RED HOT is available on Amazon in either the Kindle version or paperback connected to my author name, W. D. Wolfe.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Updating My Book

March 1, 2020

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          March 1, 2020

                                        

My recently released book Red Hot: New Life in Fleming received its first review a few days ago. The reviewer gave it 5 Stars. Here is what was written:

I just finished reading this book and I enjoyed it immensely. I would consider this book light reading and to me that is definitely a plus! It deals with bullying and also pressures that are sometimes put on students that we as parents are sometimes not aware of. It has a homespun feel to it and it took me back to my childhood on several occasions. The two main characters show us what true friendship is all about and how they maintain that friendship through adolescent struggles. Most of us can relate to this while looking back on our own teenage years. I highly recommend this book for readers of all ages. You won’t be disappointed.

That was cool!

Okay, true confession! I know the person who wrote the review, although I’m not related to her. She attends the same church my sister does in southern Ohio and is probably reading these words. BUT she was sincere in what she said in her review! That’s just how she is!

On Friday, one of the language arts teachers at the school where I’m teaching read the first chapter of the book to each of her classes. I had kids coming up to me between classes and telling me how much they enjoyed the first chapter.

So now to just get people to read it! My youngest daughter is counseling me to get on Instagram and do that whole thing! She will have to guide me! My sister-in-law has bought a couple of copies and taken them to her town’s public library in Clarendon Hills, Illinois. The Timberview Middle School library has three copies of it for students to check out.ng, In

Going through Kindle Direct Publishing is easy in many ways…until you get to the marketing part of the equation. It’s a whole new experience at that point. 

And while I’m trying to get the first book known, I’ve been revising the second book in the series, Red Hot: New Grace in Fleming. There’s a student at my middle school who read the draft of the first book and has been salivating about the second book. I print off 40-50 pages at a time and take it to her at school. Whenever I’m handing her the new folder of print she breaks out in a grin and receives the newest additions as if it’s food for a starving person. In some ways, it has inspired me to be more disciplined in my revising in order to satisfy her appetite.

A couple of other people I know who have read the first book have been eagerly awaiting the sequel. Well, …their comments are more like…”We’re waiting!!!” I envision folded arms and impatient teacher-types, staring at me with consternation.

So…today I’ll revise 2 or 3 more chapters and push the dogs toward the finish line!

(The first book is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle. From March 22-29 is it free on Kindle. Otherwise, you’ll have to fork over $2.99! The paperback is $11.99! Save your pennies!)

The First Novel

February 7, 2020

Exciting! Long time coming! Knock on wood! Break a leg! Mom and Dad would be proud!

There are a lot of thoughts going through my head as I look at the Amazon page with my first novel on it. The paperback version of Red Hot: New Life in Fleming became available for purchase this morning. The Kindle version went public two days ago.

After sending the manuscript to several literary agents and publishers and being turned down, I decided to give it a go on Amazon. In the changing environment of the publishing world it has become more and more difficult to have a novel get picked up. After all, publishers need to make a profit, and so many of their books don’t.

A few weeks ago I read a newspaper article about an author who put her first book on Amazon. It did well and a publisher became interested in further novels she wrote.

Who knows? It got me thinking. So…if you’re interested you can find the novel on Amazon. My author name is W.D. Wolfe.

Book Update

May 31, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     May 31, 2019

                                         

Some (I wish a multitude!) have been wondering about the status of my first novel, Red Hot: New Life In Fleming. Let me use my space to give an update for those who are interested.

First of all, I’m getting an education about the tangled world of publishing. I’ve learned about the inner workings of “vanity presses”, the self-publishing world, and the maze of even getting heard in the traditional publishing enterprises. 

There are a multitude of writing voices that hunger to be heard. A writer can self-publish for a price if he so desires. The costs can range from $1,000 to $6,000, and the adage “You get what you pay for!” is proved correct in this area.

Traditional publishers HAVE to be sure a writing project is going to be profitable for them. Too many bad decisions will result in their doors being permanently closed. Publishers are not risk takers these days!

That takes me to step two! Having the book edited. Two dear friends of mine have partnered with me in the writing to this point. They’ve checked for punctuation, made suggestions, read the story for clarity, and offered encouragement that has kept me going. They keep telling me that THIS BOOK NEEDS TO BE PUBLISHED! There have been several occasions where, after meeting with them, I’ve gone off excited and motivated to continue writing the story. (I’m actually about a quarter of the way through Book 3, and I give them the credit for cheering me on!) Now, with their encouragement, I’m contracting with someone to do a professional edit of the manuscript. It is a person I’ve met and talked with who has extensive experience editing and publishing. 

When the editing is concluded, with the guidance of my friends and editor, we’ll figure out the next step in the journey. One of the common mistakes that authors fall into is being impatient and rushing the process. Realizing I’m not getting any younger, that has been one scenario that my friends have cautioned me about.

Writing is a joy for me. I enjoy the creating of the storyline, the twists in the plot, and the development of characters. My perspective on life comes out in my storytelling. So much of fiction is dark and depressing. Fiction does not have to be fantasy or inhabited by zombies. It can be a story that causes laughter on one page and tears a few pages after that. The two main characters in my book are very real to me. I see the image of who I was back in my middle school years in one of the characters…and who I wanted to be in the other. 

There have been other learnings along the way. Terms like “building a platform” and “what’s your hook?” keep coming up. I’m a clueless writer who is gradually getting a clue.

You see, there’s the writing…and then there’s all the other stuff! It’s kind of like a basketball game being the main event, but then there’s all the preparation and practice that happens before the game is played.

HOW MIGHT YOU HELP? Go to my blog site (WordsfromWW.com) and become a follower if you aren’t already. Publishers look to who the writer’s audience is and how large it is. They want to know if anyone is listening? AND tell others about it and ask them to become followers. 

It may be another year or longer before Red Hot gets into print. I’ll let you know if and when that happens. In the mean time I keep substitute teaching and coaching at our middle school. It gives me a constant stream of new writing material!

5 Stars for My Book From 3 People

September 5, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     September 5, 2018

                           

Two weeks ago my cell phone rang around 8:00 in the evening. I was finishing up the rewrite on the sequel book to the first one…that I hadn’t planned on there being a sequel to!

I picked up my phone and saw that the call came from my oldest daughter, Kecia. So I answered, as I have a tendency to do, by speaking Spanish.

“Como esta usted?”

“Huh?” came the high-pitched voice on the other end of the line. It was my ten year old grandson calling on his mom’s phone. Jesse does not speak Spanish yet, at least the way I speak it!

“Is this Jesse?”

“Yes, Granddad!”

“Oh!” (pause) “What’s up, Jess?”

“Well, we just finished Red Hot: New Life in Fleming.”

“You did?”

“Yes, and we really liked it!”

“You did? That’s great!”

I had sent the book draft in an email attachment and each evening right before bedtime Kecia had read a chapter of the book to Jesse and my granddaughter, Reagan. They had read the last chapter that night.

If no publisher picks it up for publication I know at least three of the most important people in my life will have given it “five stars” in their evaluation. (Now they are reading the sequel at bedtime!)

Kecia told me that they had cried when a tragedy had occurred for one of the main families in the book. And she told me that they had enjoyed a certain chapter so much that they read it twice.

Both of the grandkids (Their 3 year old sister isn’t quite into the reading and listening stage yet, although she does get read to every night.) are avid and excellent readers, encouraged by their third grade teacher mom. Their reading level is far above the average for their peers. It’s a byproduct of the fact that they have ended their day with a reading time for as long as they can remember.

So now I wait to hear from the publisher who has the draft. I pitched it to the managing editor of a publisher back in May at the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference. He gave me his card and told me to send it to him. Since then we’ve exchanged a few emails and he’s told me it won’t be until around the end of October before they’ll make a decision.

Another publishing house of the “vanity publishing” type wants me to pursue it with them, but a good-sized payment is attached to their contract…that is, I pay them and sometime down the road…in a future life maybe!…I’ll break even! 

My two good friends, both with knowledge and experience in the print industry, continue to encourage me and tell me that it is an excellent book. They have edited both my original draft and then my rewrite…as well, as the sequel. They have been drawn into loving the characters and have come alongside me as plots have been shaped and considered. In certain times in the writing of the book(s) one of them has said something like “What if…?” or “Why did you take the scene in that direction?”

The publishing industry is tough competition these days. Companies are much more selective in what they are pursuing. In this time of 140 character tweets people don’t read like they used to. BUT people will still read a good story!

For now I have at least three people who’ve given me five stars. Actually, my two editing friends would join the three related to me, so I guess I’m at five people! 

Now I’ve started writing Book 3. It seems somewhat strange to write a third book in a series where even the first novel hasn’t been published yet…but I want to see how the story ends!