THE EXCITING JOURNEY OF Writing
a Fictional Book
"IT'S A LUXURY BEING A WRITER,
BECAUSE ALL YOU EVER THINK ABOUT IS LIFE."
BECAUSE ALL YOU EVER THINK ABOUT IS LIFE."
5 years earlier
Hillard College, a small institution of higher learning, rested on over one hundred acres of prime Northern California land. Home to fourteen hundred students from the wealthiest families on the west coast, Hillard lived up to its reputation. The architecture and manicured grounds seemed more suited for the cliffs overlooking the Hudson or the Chesapeake Bay. One could always spot someone from Hillard, the attitude and haughtiness of both faculty and students were dead giveaways.
Today, hundreds gathered in Watterson Auditorium to say goodbye to one of their faculty members. Dean Charles Rothman, wearing a three piece dark gray suit, looked more like a banker than an educator. His six foot five inch frame towered over the podium.
“Thank you all for attending. It is not often I have the privilege of congratulating and sending one of our faculty members out into the cruel world. I’ve known Jonathan Dunsmore for almost five years and honestly I am not surprised at his achievement.
When not busy teaching, he has been busy typing non-stop on his laptop. It paid off for Jonathan. I am sure many of you know he is a number one best-selling author. Sadly, he is leaving Hillard to pursue his career as a writer. Jonathan, for myself and for everyone here today we wish you the sincere best, congratulations.”
Following Dean Rothman’s lead, everyone stood and applauded the young teacher turned author as he shook the Dean’s hand before walking over to the podium. He held the edges of the pedestal for security more than balance and stood motionless until the audience quieted. He stared at the auditorium's back wall. The teacher turned writer found standing in front of three hundred people unnerving.
“Thank―” He cleared his throat and began again. “Thank you Dean Rothman, thank you everyone for being here. It is a bit overwhelming, but I wonder if you're all gathered here because you’re happy I’m leaving and will no longer have to deal with my homework assignments.”
“Hey professor, you were tough,” yelled a student which elicited laughter from the audience.
Jonathan emerging from his shell reacted to the heckler. “That has to be William Paxton. Mr. Paxton, since I’m not leaving for two more days I think I’ll go over all your turned in assignments just to see if I might have been too generous in my assessment of you.”
“That’s all right, if I don’t get a chance, Miss Landor will be taking over for me.”
The crowd moaned in unison as the young teacher scanned the hundreds of faces. Miss Landor's reputation for being a difficult teacher was legendary. Jonathan's demeanor changed.
“And there's a lesson about life. It's not easy is it? What happened, did life throw a roadblock in your plans? The only way you're going to succeed when tough obstacles get in your way is to face them head on.”
In mass, the young audience's enthusiastic faces faded listening to Jonathan's criticism.
“Don’t groan or bitch, stand your ground and dive headfirst into your problems. Those of you foolish enough to think my newfound success is something born overnight let me correct your wayward thinking. This is my fourth book, and when finished it was 350 pages. All totaled I've written close to 1500 pages, almost 700,000 words and spent 10,000 hours sitting at my desk writing.
So you see Mr. Paxton, and everyone else here today let me tell you that no, life is not easy, in fact, it's difficult. Most of you sitting here are just wasting your time. Those rolling your eyes thinking you have it made because mommy or daddy left you a trust fund maybe you do. Those of you obsessed with your Instagram or Tumblr or whatever shit it is you do because you're looking to find someone to take care of you, get up now and leave. Go get those jobs at Starbucks or wherever you’re going to stumble to, but don't expect more because you're not giving more.
“Hey professor,” said a young male student standing, “Fuck you!”
“You are right whoever you are. I should have told you life was a cakewalk and everything will be fine, but the real answer is no, fuck you. Thank you.”
Silently heads turned to one another as Jonathan Dunsmore walked off stage.
Jonathan glanced over his shoulder to put a face to the voice, but no one was there. He looked over at the Dean Rothman who was seated several feet away, his face contorted, staring at the author. It must have been someone in the audience he thought to himself as he exited the auditorium.
Several minutes past eight that night Jonathan entered the plush lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown San Francisco. He was directed to the upstairs terrace where Dom Vargo, his agent, and seventy other well-wishers applauded as he stepped out onto the veranda.
“Where have you been?”
With a quick stop at the hotel's bar downstairs and the help of two shots of bourbon Jonathan said, “Had to make an entrance Dom, smile everyone is looking at us.”
Two plain looking women wearing matching black dresses and belonging to one of the city's major book clubs approached congratulating the young author. His smile made both wish they were twenty years younger. Cordially thanking them the writer was about to say something when Dean Rothman gently grabbed Jonathan's elbow and pulled him away.
“Excuse me ladies,” said Jonathan.
Death rays jetted out of the women's eyes towards Rothman who countered with a fake smile. “That was quite the speech this afternoon.”
“I didn't say anything they didn't need to hear.”
“I know Jonathan, but that wasn't the appropriate time or place.”
Jonathan's gaze cut through Dean Rothman as if he were a piece of clear plastic. A tall beautiful woman stepped out onto the patio. She was the most gorgeous woman Jonathan had ever seen. Standing motionless in her tight sleeveless satin dress, which perfectly fit her model's willowy body, Jonathan along with the other guests couldn't help but stare at this stunning woman. She had liquid blue eyes and perfect short raven-black hair that made the dead of night appear to be high noon. Her smooth olive skin made her flawless. The type of woman thousands of words were written about, where King's would abdicate their thrones and men's fortunes were easily surrendered.
“Excuse me Dean, but a goddess just walked in.”
Jonathan sauntered across the room, lost in carnal desires, but she paid no attention to the oncoming novelist. All eyes watched and waited for the looming train wreck. Every man wanted to be Jonathan, even if it meant a disastrous outcome, while the women, some with cell phones at the ready, smiled and waited for merciless justice.
Before the young woman spoke the writer wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her body close to his, and passionately kissed her.
She whispered in his ear. “I hope you got us a room.”
“Why, we'll just go back to our place.”
“Tell Dom to put it on tonight's tab. You're a big writer now you can afford to spoil me with more than pizza and a rented movie. I'm not leaving this hotel without us sharing one of its beds.”
Dom's eyes shot around the room noticing a shift in the crowd's demeanor and needed to avert losing the guests. “Hi Nisha.” Dom kissed her on the cheek. “Exciting time for your boyfriend don't you think?''
“Hello Dom, yes very exciting.” She smiled melting the agent's heart, but her eyes were on her boyfriend. With an attitude befitting royalty she glanced around the room. “Who are all of these people?”
“Disappointed, but they'll get over it.” Dom stopped a young man, the hotel's catering manager, as he passed by. “Hey, Randy, make sure everyone's glass is full.”
“Yes, Mr. Vargo.” Short staffed, he stopped long enough to serve Jonathan and Nisha a glass of champagne from his partially full tray.
“These people can only help make your boyfriend a lot of money. Critics, bloggers, book club fans, all the right people. If you don't mind Nisha, I need to steal him away for a while. He needs to meet them.”
“Not without Nisha.”
“Jonathan it's your night, I'll be fine.”
He grabbed his girlfriend's hand and whispered in her ear, “The faster we work this room the sooner we have our own room.”
Like two guilty teenagers hiding a secret they laughed and smiled. Hand in hand they followed Dom from one guest to the other. Half way through the pleasantries Jonathan's cell phone rang; it was a call from Glen Barton.
“Hey Jonathan, sorry I couldn't make it up there.”
“It's okay you would have just lowered the party's standards. Hell, I don't even know if they would have let you into this fancy place.”
“Are you kidding, I'm the only friend you have. I don't know who those people are standing around telling you how great you are, but believe me they're there for the free beer and pizza.”
“Buddy let me tell you something, the beer and pizza are not free. I'm getting five dollars from each person. You probably don't even have five dollars.”
“This isn't college, pal, where I had to cover your ass all the time.”
“Ain't, this ain't college where I be covering your ass all the time. See that's why you're a cop and I be a writer, dumb ass.”
“Hey fool, I'm halfway through your book and I have to tell you something it's not that great. Where are the pictures? You know most of your fans can't read.”
Nisha pulled the phone away from Jonathan, “Hey Glen it's Nisha.”
“You're still with him?”
“He thinks of me as a support group.”
“How are you dear?”
“Congratulations Mr. Detective, can you fix a parking ticket?”
“You're just like him. That's why you two are together. Sure, just fly down here to Los Angeles and bring the ticket, but don't bring that guy with you. It'll be our little secret.”
“Hey buddy, you're on loud speaker.”
“I knew that. Congrats Jonathan, when are you coming down here.”
“They've got me on a book tour back east and possibly a morning show plug. We'll see, Nisha is coming with and we won't be back for a couple of months. When we get back we'll get together. Congratulations to you too, Detective.”
“Mmmmmm, mmmm.” The small dog paced up and down the bed in an attempt to get her owner's attention.
Beneath her warm goose down comforter Lucy said, “Stop it Misty, we'll go out soon.”
Lucy slapped the bed with a burst of authority and said, “Lie down Misty, can't you just hold it and let mommy sleep?” She wanted to return to her sensual dream.
The Maltese leaped off the bed and ran down the hall demanding her owner react quickly. Misty's owner was perfectly trained. Half asleep, Lucy tossed back the covers and rolled out of her comfortable bed into the room's morning chill. The moment her feet collided with the icy terra cotta floor Lucy was awake.
Images of Misty jumping off the bed and pushing through her own doggy door filled Lucy's head as she shuffled through the house. When she peeked out through the backdoor's window her dream of uninterrupted sleep quickly vanished. The large black garbage container was lying on its side with most of the garbage strewn around the backyard.
“Damn raccoons,” she said.
Lucy shivered at the thought of the furry creatures, with their cartoon faces, destroying the house's interior while she and Misty slept. All courtesy of the doggy door.
Her little dog frantically scratched against the wood to escape. “No walk Misty I'm letting you out back and that's it,” she said as she opened the door. Misty scurried to the small patch of grass sniffing out the perfect location before relieving herself.
“Mommy wants to go back to bed, please. Look the sun's not even up yet.”
Relieved and self absorbed, the small dog meandered around no longer in a hurry to return to the warm bed.
“Damn it Misty.” Lucy stomped her bare foot as if her dog would obey. “Come here now. Misty don't make me mad. No, don't roll in the wet grass, oh please no.” Closing her eyes in a feeble attempt to capture the last bit of sleep Lucy leaned her head against the door jamb. In a barely audible voice she called out. “Come here now.”
Lucy forgot the swift moving storm that passed over the city the night before leaving millions of dollars in damage. Luckily, the only problem for Lucy Olivos was Misty's water soaked white fur coat in need of attention. Her sleep gone, Lucy grabbed a large towel from the hamper and sank to the floor. She crossed her legs, which Misty took as an invitation for pampering. The dog jumped onto her owner's lap.
Enveloping the Maltese in the soft cotton material Lucy went to work drying her dog's coat. She was rewarded with a warm, small, pink tongue bestowing gentle kisses on her hand.
Wrapping her arms around her pet like she was holding a child Lucy smothered the dog with her own kisses. “You're one spoiled little dog you know that. How did you get this way?” Pushing herself up she said, “All right, we're done.”
Misty hopped off her owner's lap and scooted to the front door before Lucy could return to her comfortable bed. She began whining, demanding her morning walk.
“No, not before mommy makes a cup of coffee. Just sit still and we'll leave in fifteen minutes.”
Except for a few lingering clouds the sky was clear, and the sun was still asleep. Lucy and Misty stepped out into the crisp cool air. The chill touched her face like a splash of spring water. She timed her walk perfectly, the sun still hidden from view, rays of gold and crimson streaked across the placid sky. It was the beginning of a new day with new possibilities, the sort of morning one savors. She filled her lungs with air, which all but disappeared when she heard her neighbor's voice. Mr. Johnson, the only other person up at this hour.
“Good morning Lucille, Misty, how are you?”
“Fine, Mr. Johnson thanks,” said Lucy acting as cold as one of the Queen's Guard in front of Buckingham Palace.
Ignorantly writing her standoffish attitude to PMS he said, “After all this time you know Lucille you can call me Ralph.”
“It's okay Mr. Johnson.”
Lucy felt her neighbor's eyes undressing her as she walked away. It made her skin crawl to know had she worn 16th century armor and walked pigeon toed Ralph Johnson would still find her alluring.
Before disappearing into the small side street she glanced back and was disgusted her neighbor stood staring in her direction. Lucy and her dog turned and meandered down the narrow lane a few yards before Lucy unhooked Misty's leash, allowing the small dog to roam freely. She paused and sipped her hot morning coffee. With little effort she drifted back into a Zen like trance.
Her mind briefly dusted past her job and today's workload, she was a telecommuter at a large insurance company. Her thoughts shifted to something more personal, Ernie, a man she met three days earlier. No email or text from her new love interest tested her patience. She wanted to sleep with him but not until after their first date.
Her mind refocused hearing Misty's incessant yelping, but the dog was nowhere in sight.
Panicking, Lucy said, “Misty, Misty where are you?” The little white dog popped its head out from around the corner of a building. “There you are, come here now.”
Misty vanished from view barking ferociously.
“Damn it, come here now. Misty do you hear me?”
Lucy capitulated, another sign Misty was in charge, and walked over to her barking dog.
“What's wrong with you?” Lucy froze. Misty was barking at the rain soaked body of a man lying against a building. He was facing the wall. His clothes disheveled, empty pockets pulled inside out. She felt bad the homeless man slept in the rain, but convinced there was nothing she could do said, “Leave the man alone Misty, come here quickly.”
The dog, less than a foot from the body, continued barking. Lucy scooped Misty in her arms and jumped back when she saw the dead man's discolored face.
“Help,” she screamed running to the corner. She pulled out her phone to dial, a text message from Ernie. She dialed 911.
I saved one of the best finds for last. CANVA
If you have never heard of Canva I recommend that you familiarize yourself with this site. With a little creativity there are many useful products an author can use to promote their brand.
Below I created four bookmarks using Canva's template.
The first two-"Keep Reading Between The Lines & there are worlds between words" were from the Canva library and were free. All I did was insert my name and website.
The other two bookmarks are from my books "THE MOUSE THAT BECAME THE CAT AND LAYERS OF DECEIT." I used a blank template and downloaded my images in less then 2 minutes for both. I called the printer and after converting each image from a jpeg to a pdf I printed 250 of each at the printers. (8 each-2x5's on a 8 1/2 x 11 card stock) Cost $80- 8 cents each.
Here is the salesman in me. I post them on any message board in markets or libraries and when I'm at place like Starbuck's and see someone reading an actual book I introduce myself, tell them I'm a writer, and give them all four bookmarks. Chutzpah, sure, but one grows an audience I reader at a time.
By the way it also takes a lot of guts to sit down and write a novel.
Hope this helps and thanks for reading.
I don't know how you feel about it, but the amount of information out in the world about writing can be overwhelming.
Everything we learn about must start at the beginning. Start with the outline.
OMG, every author I have listened to or read about has an opinion about an outline.
So why should I be different. I'm an author, I have an opinion, and here it is.
Since I have now written books with and without outlines I can now give my opinion for what its worth. I'm leaning towards "yes" do an outline. I think an outline is a good tool which allows the writer to see the story unfold without devoting unnecessary hours. If the outline is never completed the story will never be written. I'll move on. If the outline is completed I now have a road map to navigate with.
However, if a writer finds that writing a story, one chapter at a time, from start to finish works for them, then I would say go ahead and write. There is a point to all this. I repeat, there is no right way or wrong way to get your story out of your head and onto paper.
There is one point though that can never be disputed. That is if you want to write-------write. No excuses, no delays, just write.