Posted tagged ‘storytelling’

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!

Story Toes

November 23, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            November 23, 2016

                                             

I sat down on the couch to survey the crew. The crew consisted of our three grandkids: eight year old Jesse involved in a game of Super Mario Brothers; Corin (Rennie) scampering around the room as fast as a 20 month old body can go; and five year old Reagan whose attention was focused on the fact that her grandfather thought he was going to relax for a couple of minutes.

“Tell me a story, Granddad!”, she demanded as she plopped down on the couch beside me and draped her feet over my lap. “Tell me a story using my toes!”

A few weeks ago I was telling a story to her and Jesse from the same couch seat and I grabbed their feet as a visual aid to help me tell it. She giggled and giggled as I told the made up story about little piggies.

And Reagan never forgets! Her enjoyment in something translates into it becoming a tradition…thus two feet staring up at me with their multi-colored striped outfits!

“What story should I tell you? How about a story about a little worm named Squiggly?”

“Yes! Tell me a story about Squiggly!” Her toes wiggled in anticipation.

“Once upon a time there was a worm named Squiggly who decided he was a big enough worm to leave his Mommy Worm and crawl around by himself.”
“And did he have brothers and sisters?” Reagan likes to know all the details in any story I tell that I happen to be making up on the fly!

“Yes, he had many brothers and sisters, but he was the oldest worm child, so all of his worm siblings were still at home with Mommy Worm. So Squiggly said goodbye to his mom, they wrapped themselves around each other in one final worm hug, and off he went crawling through the dirt to discover what was on the other side of the mud patch.

“His mom probably missed him.”

“I’m sure she did. Your mom would miss you if you moved away, wouldn’t she?”

“I’m only five, Granddad!”, she informed me as she did the eye roll thing.

“Yes, I know…well, anyway, back to the story! Squiggly slowly crawled away, whistling his favorite worm song, “Way Up High In An Apple Tree.” He was all wiggly with excitement about the new places he was going to discover.”

“He probably misses his mommy.”

“Probably! After he had crawled across the mud patch and into the weed forest on the other side he got to thinking to himself, “I’d better find some place to sleep before nightfall.” He thought about the warmth of his mommy and remembered that he had left his worm blanket back at home. He got to thinking about the chilly darkness that would soon be upon him with no mom or snug covering to keep him warm.”

“He didn’t plan very well.”

“So he looked all around and around and finally…finally…he found a nice place that looked like it would be cozy and warm and almost like home.”

“Where was it?”
“It was right between two toes of a little girl named Reagan.” I burrowed one of my fingers between two of her toes and she squealed with tickling laughter. “Yes, it was right between two little toes,” I explained as she quivered with giggling. She pulled her feet off of my lap and hopped down to the floor. Her sister stared at her with a smile on her face.

About the time I took my next breath she was back on the couch, settling her feet into their place across my lap once again.

“And then what, Granddad?” For Reagan “story toes” have many chapters and episodes…and giggles!

Writing A Book

August 14, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                              August 13, 2016

                                           

I’m trying to write a book!

If James Patterson can spin out about a book a month I should be able to write one in a year…or two…okay, maybe three!

I, however, am not a mystery writer. I did read a lot of Agatha Christie novels in my earlier years. They were always intriguing. I often felt compelled to have a spot of tea as I read them. Murder On the Orient Express, Three Blind Mice, Death On the Nile…I enjoyed them all. But in terms of writing a mystery novel…not me!

I did write Lassie stories when I was in the third grade…longhand, and almost legible! I can’t remember what the plots of those Lassie stories were, but I’m sure I had him leaping over fences and saving chickens from foxes.

When I was in my forties I wrote two books of mini-dramas that got published by my denomination’s publishing branch. They did not make the New York Time’s Best-Sellers List. In fact, they didn’t make any list, but it was pretty cool to see my name on the covers!

Now I’m trying to write a feel good story that combines high school basketball, innocent teenage romance, an unlikely friendship, and the admirable qualities of integrity, honesty, and fairness. It’s a good story, but some days I feel like the words are coming to me about like a “Sally, Dick, and Jane” first grade primer!
See Sally run. Dick, see Sally run. Spot, run like Sally. Run, run, run!

Other times it seems like the words flow through my mind like a fine culinary recipe progressing without a hitch.

Some days I get constantly interrupted, other days I wish I would be interrupted.

And all this for the very, very, very real probability that no one will be remotely interested in publishing the end result. Unlike James Patterson, I do not have someone who has advanced me a million. But I sit in front of my laptop and peck on with two fingers on my left hand and one on my right…and the word count keeps climbing as the story slowly unfolds, characters get further developed, the past gets illuminated and the possibilities of the present get played out. I read a Harlan Coben mystery at night and write about a red-headed pastor’s kid named Randy Bowman during the day.

Writing is my release, as well as what grips me. It’s something I can’t seem to not do…all those years of writing sermons for Sunday mornings at church, but then having so many other things to write about that never seemed to fit into a Sunday message.

Today I sit at my perch in Starbucks with the question, “Well, Randy, where will our story take us today?”

Storytelling Lunch

June 16, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            June 15, 2016

                                 

Telling stories is a devalued treasure. People are too jumpy to hear, too hurried to tell. When we stop and listen to the remembrances, the memorable moments, we realize how special the experiences is.

Like yesterday when I enjoyed lunch with my dad and his new friend Carl. They’ve only known each other for about three months, even though they were born just four miles apart from each other in the hills of eastern Kentucky.

I sat and was still listening long after all the food had been eaten. Story after story was told about their Navy experiences. I learned that my “Granny Wolfe” had to go with my dad to sign up for military service since he was still only seventeen. I found out he had flat feet, a dis-qualifier for the infantry, but according to the man doing inspections, good enough for the Navy! Carl and my father talked about their “lodging accommodations”, and other “luxuries” of their experiences.

I sat and was mesmerized by their humor, their remembering of conversations and details, their stories of being tested in shooting a gun. Since they were Navy they were told that they had passed…although both of them doubted the truth of that…but one of the two Marines who was being tested didn’t pass.

Our lunch table was punctuated with knee-slapping laughter. Richness in the moment can not be confined to a length of time. Like a fine steak it is to be savored and enjoyed. “Rush” is not a word that gives any value to it.

As I sat and soaked I thought of our addiction to movement. We move from morning tasks to lunch, and from lunch to afternoon responsibilities. We seldom have time just to sit and listen…and in getting things done we miss the opportunities of stories that live on long after the afternoon agenda gets accomplished.

Dad and Carl strolled through history, visiting Carl’s entertaining pursuit of family genealogy to discover the grandfather he never knew. His search brought him to a choice. His grandfather  could have been either a thief shot and killed in a barroom gun fight…or the captain of a riverboat.

He and his siblings chose the stream that pointed towards the riverboat captain. It becomes easier to talk to the next generations about a captain making sure a riverboat safely navigated the Ohio River, rather than telling the little ones that their ancestor was scoundrel who was also slow in the draw.

From there my dad talked about a certain river barge company that would name each of its boats after a woman…Abigail, Esther, and such.

Like two checker players they jumped from one story square to another. Each move began with words like “That reminds me of…” or “Well, let me tell you something!” Chuckles abounded and their faces lit up as they recalled the moments, lost in the reliving.

At the end of that day I realized that the storytelling luncheon was the most important thing that had happened to me. It was my biggest accomplishment…and I had just sat and listened!

Billy Goat Stories On the Fly

March 12, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                              March 11, 2016

                                  

Each day when I pick up my granddaughter Reagan from her “Little Sprouts” pre-kindergarten she asks me the same question as soon as she is buckled into her car seat.

“Granddad, tell me a Billy Goat story!”

“Reagan, another one?”

I hear a slight giggle. She knows that she has me wrapped around her pinky so tight I have no wiggle room. I’m bound to obey.

“One day Billy Goat was running through the field-“

“Because he had already eaten lunch…”

“Yes…because he had already eaten lunch…and as he was running through the field he saw a squirrel-“

“Was the squirrel his friend?”

“Yes…he was his friend, and his name was Squeaky. Billy Goat saw him running along the top rail of a fence, and so he scampered over to say hello. He strolled up to the fence and said, “Hey, Squeaky!”

“Does Squeaky have a squeaky voice?”

“Yes he does!” And I proceeded to speak in a high soprano voice that would be annoying in any other situation, but with my five year old granddaughter…it works! “Hey, Billy Goat! Did you have lunch yet?”

“I sure did, Squeaky. I had some oats and grass and a couple of carrots. How about you?”

“I’m on my way to getting lunch right now. There’s a few nuts laying on the ground by that big old tree over there that are just ripe for the taking.”

“Granddad, does that mean he is going to steal them? Because you aren’t suppose to take anything that isn’t yours.”

“No, he isn’t stealing them. They are like little treasures that belong to no one, and are free for the picking…So Billy Goat says to Squeaky, “I wish I could run along the top of the fence railing like you do. But I can’t because I have hoofs, but you have feet.”

“And Squeaky said to Billy Goat, ‘If you’d like to try I’ll help you.”

“Squeaky, you can’t give me a push. You’re too small…and what if I fell back on top of you? I’d crush you!”

“You’re right! How about if you put your hoofs on this rail and try to boost yourself up on top of the fence?”

Reagan is absorbed with the story from the safety of her car seat in the back. She’s following the storyline as I follow Powers Boulevard towards our home.

“Billy Goat said, ‘Okay, I’ll try!’ And he put his front hoofs on the rail, braced himself, and took a spring into the air, got to the top of the fence, but…”Whoa!”…he had pushed to hard and he went toppling down on the other side of the fence and hit the ground.”

“But he didn’t hurt himself.” Granddad stories where animals get hurt is a no-no!

“No, he was okay! And Squeaky told him to try again…so he put his hoofs on the rail and took a jump again. This time he landed on the top rail and stayed for a few seconds, but then one of his hoofs slipped a little bit, he lost his balance and he fell down…Whoa!”

“Squeaky said, “Are you okay, Billy Goat?”

“Yes,” said Billy Goat with a hint of being sad. “I guess I can’t be like you, Squeaky. I’m never going to be able to run along the top of the fence.”

“That’s okay, Billy Goat! You are who you are and I am who i am. I’m not gong to try to be a goat, because that would be silly, and you will never be a squirrel because that would make you a “silly billy!” We are who we are.”

“I guess you’re right, Squeaky! I’ve been a goat, I am a goat, and I’ll always be a goat. Thanks for trying to help me!”

The voice from the back seat summed up the story. “Squirrels are squirrels and goats are goats, and that’s the way it is!”

“That’s right, Reagan!”

“What’s for lunch?”

Popcorn Stories

October 5, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                            October 5, 2015

                                                 

My four year old granddaughter, Reagan, has a creative streak about her. I think most four year olds do, until stressed-out grown-ups tell them to conform to the norm. You know…color between the lines, not outside the lines!

Thankfully Reagan has a a mom and dad who encourage creativity…so whenever Reagan is in the car with me after I’ve picked her up from her pre-kindergarten for four year olds we have a unique kind of story time on the car ride to the next destination.

She calls it “popcorn stories”, because you’re never quite sure what’s going to pop up.

The way it works is she tells me what the story is to be about. Lately, she’s been fixated on a goat named “Billy”, a little boy named “Billy” (Billy the Kid!), and a fox.

I begin the story with those things in mind, and then when I say “Popcorn!” she picks up the story from there until she says “Popcorn!”, and then it’s back to me.

That back-and-forth goes on until we reach our destination.

It’s amazing the plot twists and turns that can happen in a ten minute car ride between an AARP member and a four year old.
Billy the Kid got captured by the mean old fox…Popcorn!

And the fox strung him up by his ankles until he was ready to eat him…Popcorn!

And the fox was listening to some of his favorite music…foxtrot…and fell asleep with his fox Beats wireless headphones on. He dreamed of running freely through fields of grain, and his own swimming pool…Popcorn!

Meanwhile Billy Goat was combing the hairs on his chin because they had tangles on them, and he decided to have a peanut butter sandwich with banana slices and pickles. And then he said “I wonder where Billy the Kid is!” I thought he was going to have lunch with me…Popcorn!

Stop!

Reagan and I have dealt with tornados, squeaky mice, mean little boys, pumpkin patches, and squiggly worms. You’re never quite sure where the story is going to take us, or how it’s going to turn out.

Each of us has just half of the story! We rely on one another to help row the boat down the stories stream.

I’m sure she will grow our of it after a while…hopefully, not too quickly…but perhaps we’ll get a few novels created in the midst of our vehicle before then.

Reagan is about about the story, which tells of a different kind of book that she is writing. It’s entitled How to Wrap Your Grandfather Around Your Little Finger?”

Preaching With Them

July 26, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                          July 26, 2015

                                              

This morning in worship I told the story of Legion from the Gospel of Mark. I was led to do two things this morning that I hoped the congregation caught. So often we tell the story from the view of outside eyes and distant ears. We minimize its relevance to our lives by speaking about it as if we are in the balcony.

So this morning I told the story and brought the congregation into it by referring to them as the people of Gerasena where the demon-possessed man was from. I came at it from the perspective of the congregation being the ones who drove off the man to the tombs. We went through the life stages. I admit that I envisioned the man’s childhood…the beginning signs of a troubled mind and spirit, the increasing tension in the city whenever he was around people, the heartbreak of his parents in knowing they couldn’t make him better. I led us through the story carefully, drawing in the emotions that we felt as Legion became more apparent.

The second thing I did was use the pronoun “we” instead of “you.” In fact, I only used “you” once and that was towards the end of the story in asking the worshipers “You remember, don’t you?”

I did not preach at, but rather included myself as one of the Gerasenes. I was simply the one who was re-telling the story about us.

I’m sure if I looked back through my old sermon manuscripts I would be embarrassed by the number of times I preached to “them”, heaping accusations and a John the Baptist call to repent! In my elderly state I’m acutely aware of my need for the grace of God in the midst of my blunders and shortcomings.

And so I preach more and more about us.

I don’t know if those who journeyed with me this morning noticed the different perspective of things. I was not driven from the sanctuary like the man was driven from the town. I noticed, however, that some of the usual slumbering saints had their eyes open throughout.

That in itself is somewhat of a miracle!