Category Archives: Book News

Why Do an Olivia Plymouth Next Gen Series?/When should I End a Series?

Introduction – A Series is born.
When I started writing Brazilian Quest (Olivia Plymouth Book 1) in 2002, I never envisioned it would turn into Olivia Plymouth: International Traveler & Fashion Consultant and have five books plus a short story. It was never a straight line and a good deal of time elasped between authoring and publishing some books.

[Also see Organizing Olivia Plymouth for more details on some of the challenges creating the series.]

Some authors like to milk everything they can out of a series and keep writing after the original themes have been explored to death. But after some point, the freshness is lost and some scenes are recycled material.

Other artists had the vision to cover their character from their peak until their aging. That is a good progression if the character is interesting.

With Olivia, I covered from early career to the start of motherhood. (Although her time past that is mentioned in passing.) And that seemed just enough. (A last book covering her life from the perspective of friends and family is planned.) Before ending a series, you may want to ask yourself:

– Have I done everything I wanted to with the character and situation?
– Can I write a list of five things I still want to explore further with this series?
– Is the series still fresh and original?
– If I do another book, is the effort worth the resulting product?
– Do I need a break and revisit later?

Why Next Gen?
As far back as two months ago there was no Generation 2 books planned. So why did I decide to go forward with the project?
– The framework and premise are different. We see fashion in a very different way. Away from the established fashion world to one that’s edgier. There is also a look back at fashion’s historical past. A new framework allows for new possibilities.
– It allows for a rich mother-daughter dialogue and for the reader to see Olivia as a mother. And we what her child learned from the mother. As well as those things that she does differently.
– Olivia’s family and friends had children. And these offspring make up the daughter’s world. Olivia’s child owes her mother so much. From those lessons and contacts, she is able to grow up faster.

I will write more about “NextGen” when around the the 10,000 word amount. (Right now at 7000)

Creating a One of a Kind Buddhist Book — the Dhammapada Handbook!

Introduction

The Dhammapada are the thoughts and sayings of the Buddha in poetic format. These were given typically as an instruction after various people consulted with him about their troubles and situations.

On one hand, it is a small book that one can go cover to cover fairly quickly. But for the careful reader and the daily meditation student, it is a call to practice that can take a lifetime to decipher.

Expanding the Book Scope

The Dhammapada is a book very dear to me. I traveled with one of my various copies for two years on the road. Along the way, I found favorite verses. Recently, I had the interesting idea, “Why not write a series of short stories based on the Dhammapada verses that resonated for me?”

Even before I started writing, I thought about expanding the scope. It went along these lines
“What if I started with a public domain translation of the verses?”
“Next, what if I paraphrased each passage with my own words?”
“Then, suppose I wrote down commentary like a Dhamma talk about my thoughts about the passage? But do it in a way as if I was having a one on one conversation?”
“Finally, end with a series of practices that I’ve found helpful related to the verses.”

And that’s how I came up for the idea of a highly original Buddhist book in a world where so many exist already.

Why This Book is Different For Me.

So here’s why is it truly unique as a book and for me.
– This is written from the viewpoint of a Buddhist lay practitioner sharing their life experiences. I have listened to and attended the talks of various schools. And live each day trying out different things in my Dhammic toolbox.
– I tried to both modernize yet keep traditional the Dhammapada paraphrases.
– This is not the whole Dhammapada, just some verses that build on each other when covered in a particular order.
– I made the decision to minimize Buddhist vocabulary which can be distracting for new users.
– I am making it free as I do all of my Buddhist books.
– This is my most personal book especially with the commentary. Not quite an autobiography. But an open exploration of the verse based on life experiences.
– It is simultaneously both creative fiction AND creative non-fiction. So it involves a lot of switching of writing styles in a short time. Some chapters were mostly written in one day.
– I extensively use public-domain translations. Thanks Project Gutenberg and Wikisource!!!
– For the first time, I provided Wiki pages and direct downloads of a work.
– The stories are companion pieces to the paraphrasing, commentary, and practices.
I am releasing for the first time chapter by chapter rather than waiting till the end. So it may still be rough but it is out there.
– I never plan to do another book in this format!

So far, this writing experiment has been exhausting yet gratifying. From the response so far, readers seem to be enjoying it

On many Sundays, i will be releasing a new chapter until completion.

In a future blog, I will discuss another creative tension of creating this work.

Why I went Silent

Introduction

It has been almost a year since I have written my last blog. During the last month, I spent writing Her Time which was a fictional look at Ben Franklin’s wife Deborah. This involved historical research, visiting 18th century sites, and deciding how to deal with gaps in her life. Like her husband, for most of her life she was a slave owner, although in the last twenty years of her life, she was enamored by the early stages of the abolitionist movement. Even though she had limited schooling, she successfully ran for many years her husbands’ shops and the entire Colonial postal system in his absence. While raising her children, being a social hostess, and volunteering for public causes. The book uses the skills of a young medium to tell the story about Her Time. I hope that you give it a look.

This took ten months to write so there was little time for blogs.

New Project: Dhammapada Handbook.

This is a creative fictional and nonfictional look at the Dhammapada. Some supplemental content can be found at Dhammapada Handbook

The book will be structured in sections
Each section will include
– Public Domain Translations
– My poetic paraphrasing of the verse
– Commentary on the verse as I was having a 1 or 1 conversation or informal Dhamma talk
– One or more original short stories based on the verse

I hope that this can be of some use in this dynamic world. May all beings have happy minds.

 

Unmasking the Real Story Behind Shrouded Witness

Late last year I completed and published Shrouded Witness.  Each book always has its own challenges. But writing this book was truly unique and pushing me beyond all limits. And now, I can share it with you why this was.

Challenge 1: Beyond Genres

This work is based on a C.Wright Mills-like sociological framework such as found in The Power Elite.  But there also histographical elements such as Herodotus and Ibn Khaldun.

The whole thing is wrapped up in a science-fiction tale about an imaginary planet (Wolyraf) and an organization that watches the planet’s happenings from the shadows recording it all. So on one day, the true narrative of what had taken place is revealed.

Challenge 2: The Framework

The book is loosely organized around ten topic units which are presented through a series of challenging interviews, short stories, and reflections. All of the units do not have to be read in order. However, it is helpful to read the entire unit.

Doing this reminded me somewhat of The Martian Chronicles and A Canticle for Leibowitz.

There is a bare-bones overall story arc. Originally it was not there. but the main character goes through a journey of personal growth. That he completes it at all and comes out alive is the main ending.

Challenge 3: Dealing with The Great Doubt. 

In my next book Spiritual Storms, I will talk how Project Managers can be overcome with loss of confidence and lack of faith in overseeing their projects. This book is unusual, in that the Great Doubt made a visit, making me question if there was an audience for such a truly original book. On reflection, it seemed like something that would be helpful for those that wanted to take a step back and get insights on studying a society. So I continued on to completion.

Challenge 4: How the Book Came About

In a previous blog, I talked about “Waverly” and how it was “disruptive fiction.” It clearly did not fit into any work that I was writing or had planned. In time, I decided that a book of short stories was needed on the operating of various societies. “Waverly” is included in this work.

Challenge 5: The Characters

There are four overall characters, Peter Lachmere (interviewer and freelance reporter), the mocking voice of the nameless organization, the nameless organization itself, and the Knowledge Lawn (the mother of all information databases storing what is happening on the planet.) Everyone else basically appears for an often contentious interview and disappears back into the shadows. And between the ten interviews and the numerous short stories, there are many characters and situations.

Challenge 6: The interviews

Imagine that you are interviewing someone. You don’t know when it will take place. You likely be snatched against your will to get to the interview location. Once there, you don’t know if the interview will turn ugly fast or not. You cannot rely on anything being told to be partially or totally real. The whole thing may be a well-crafted, elaborate lie to entertain some unseen audience. Still, each meeting seems to have some element of truth. The whole thing is a sort of mental sumo wrestling. Writing ten different interviews was a good challenge.

And there you have it. I hope that you give it a look when seeking something to read.

Thank you Pixabay for the image.

How Writing with Patience Yields Rich Fruit and an Accidental Book!

Introduction

It has been several months since I have produced a blog. I was getting Missed Landing out the door, and started on what will be the second edition of Simply Business/IT and that is when I got into deep trouble.

The Trap of a Scarcity Viewpoint

I thought it would be nice to add a new short story about business leadership and pirating, It was to be called Command & Control. Write it in 2-3 weeks and all would be good. But the writing did not yield itself to a timely completion. A first draft from one character’s viewpoint was initiated. Then a second draft was rewritten from another character’s worldview. Things were looking dire. The self-imposed deadline was not going to be met. And there was much more still to write in this story.

The Trap of Impatience

So due to an imaginary deadline and pre-conceived notions of what this story should be like, an impatient mind might think they were in trouble and scrap the work completely. That is what would be the likely outcome for some writers. But I took a different approach and came from a viewpoint of abundance and patience. I decided to split the two efforts:

  1. Complete the editing of Simply Business/IT without the story. This should be published in a few weeks.
  2. Take as much time as needed to write Command and Control. By doing so, I decided to transform the story into a book, and did a third rewrite with a new opening and making each of the previous rewrites into separate chapters. It has been going swimmingly ever since. And an accidental book came forth.

So the Lessons Learned are:

  1. You never really know what journey a work will take you on.
  2. Patience and dropping of pre-conceived notions on outcome or schedule will yield better and stronger results. Just write and write some more without expectations.

What a great way to start 2016. Wishing you nothing but success on your writing journeys!

Eleven Ways Why Missed Landing is Different from my other Works

Introduction
I am in the process of wrapping up the first draft of Missed Landing. It ran into serious issues early on. (But that is a future blog topic.)

This completes a sort of “historical fiction trilogy” that started with Killing Thoreau on Walden Pond and followed by Saving Eddie. It is an enjoyable task to make the quirks and currents of history presentable.

Eleven Differences
This book is different than anything else that I’ve written. There are eleven major differences than my prior works. These include the following:

These differences include:

1) Timeframe. Although the work alludes to the past, it is set at some indefinite date in the future. (Originally it was to be 1940-1970s.)

2) Use of an unreliable and far from omniscient narrator. We clearly have a character here that has access to a vast but incomplete database. Also, she has memories of how rosy the past was. But how are false memories from tales from her mother and how much is real?

3) Life-defining issues. The lead character is grappling with overcoming loss, discerning what is truth and myth, and finding her place in the world. These are more mature themes than I have dealt with in the past.

4) Fake quotes. Each chapter starts with a snippet from an imaginary book that sets the mood.

5) Chapter titles that ask key questions. And the body of the chapter attempts to answer that query. And with each answer, we are closer to unraveling the truth.

6) Writing about a topic that I knew little about. Ballooning is an area that I haven’t delved into before so there was a lot to ramp up on. (Just like characters, the Calvez Brothers had to do.)

7) Most of the characters discussed in the book are deceased or presumed dead. And that makes it challenge for the protagonist to gather information. As the investigation gets underway, only one living character is interviewed.

8) The book uses an interesting mix of the future and visible signs of the obsolete past. Although everything is online, government offices, in-person tests and universities with physical campuses, and ballooning itself are also available if needed.

9) Ties to the late 1960s. The Gaul University protests and what happened to the Calvez brothers clearly has its antecedents with incidents of this turbulent time. This is discussed.

10) The use of triplet brothers as characters. Originally it was supposed to be twins but writing about the former was more.

11) Having a rich protagonist. The main character can purchase anything she needs except peace of mind. But she can obtain the needed tools that move her closer to reaching it.