Full Disclosure

Yeah, I have a degree in journalism. In getting that degree I was taught that if there is any possible conflict of interest the writer must make a full disclosure statement. But now for the part that might seem weird to most, but maybe not my writer friends.

Full disclosure: I’m scared. And to be honest, as a writer, I’m not even sure of what. Rejection? Success?

I think it’s something unrelated, or maybe in between. All I know is this: For the last several months I’ve read through portions of my manuscript for Requiem for a Laborer. I’ve been able to make a few basic edits, correcting horrible sentenses, improper word choice, that sort of thing. But when it comes to making “flesh and bone” changes, I’ve been paralyzed.

Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way at all thinking that my work is beyond reproach. In fact, I think that like many writers (and musicians- I fancy myself a vocalist too. Blues, if you must know.) our own worst critics.

Every time I sit down to edit, I find myself thinking: Who would want to read this? Who would want to read a novel about a group of wannabe freedom fighters on a steam powered airship? Sure the aerial battle plays out super cool in my head but…      and the thoughts trail off…

At this point, I find myself thinking what right do I have to write a steampunk novel? Cheri Preist has it down with her Clockwork Century series but is there anything of real value that I can add to the genre? I feel like I have a different approach but  maybe it isn’t different enough?

And it is at this point that things get even more sticky for me. In college, (I graduated four years ago as a non-traditional student)  I was given very positive feedback from my professors, English professor Alayne Peterson,  about my writing. My thought? Oh, they’re just being kind. I’m really not that good.

Then again, maybe this is self-destructive thought. If I produce a story that a few people find entertaining I think that I have done my job. Maybe I could it evolve it into a series. Time and ability will tell.

So what brought me out of my writing funk? Well…

I was watching a #Joe_ Bonamassa Mountain Time video, awesome guitar work awesome musician. Beyond that, I don’t think I could really tell you.

I can tell you this, however, I am trying my damnedest to start moving forward with my writing.





Writing as Social Commentary

So this post will be another stream of consciousness babble fest, but here goes:

The novel I’m working on is a story based on what I fear that I see growing in society; that is, what I am afraid is happening with what I perceive as an “everything for profit” society. That may sound a bit preachy but…

The books I find most interesting are the works of Vonnegut, Huxley, Bradbury and Orwell. (Wow, even by avid reader standards, I’m a geek.) I’m thinking that this is due to the fact that I have always been the odd-ball outsider in what is a very conservative area of my state. Blame my father. He was a hard-assed union man from the late 1940’s. He was also the one who not only encouraged me to read, but to make sure what I was reading was worthwhile.

We may have been the geekiest blue-collar ever to inhabit Earth. By the time I was in middle-school, my dad would either read a poem to me or I would read one and we would discuss it. Setting, characters, meaning, he and I would discuss it all. Everyone from Noyes to Tennyson to Dickinson to Sandburg was fair game.

It was during that time that Pops introduced me to Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five“. I was sold. He and I talked about what the book meant, and what it meant to me. Why was the book written in the first place? Did Billy Pilgrim lose his mind? What was the purpose of the science fiction theme? From that time on, I felt Kurt Vonnegut was one of the greats.

Hey, not bad for a twelve or thirteen year old.

But literature wasn’t all of it. Dad loved reading the Chicago Tribune. And chief among the reasons for this was Mike Royko. He would have me read Royko’s columns to engage me in news papers and to instill in me the idea that everyone has opinions but the best opinions are those that are best informed.

Incidentally, when I took my Op-Ed class, Mike Royko was held up as the gold standard of opinion writing. Damn, my old man knew what he was talking about.

So this brings me to my writing. I hope it doesn’t sound presumptuous, but I try to write what is important to me.

The novel I am writing tries to tackle both socio-economic inequality and women’s issues. Both of these I have strong, progressive stances on. I am trying my best to write a novel that is worth reading, but it might be slower going than I had first hoped.

Wish me luck.

Going Steampunk

I was visiting my former English professor, Alayne Peterson, earlier this summer and we were talking about what we had been reading and it suddenly struck me that for months I had been reading mostly heavy Victorian lit. I asked her for some suggestions of something lighter and well… Fun!

Her idea was that I pick up Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century series.

Brilliant suggestion, Alayne, Brilliant.

Cherie Priest

Cheri Priest

Priest’s steampunk series is set in America in the 1800’s where the Civil War is grinding on into its second decade. airships are a more common form of transport than trains, and zombies have taken over areas of some cities. Now to be honest, I wasn’t too big on the idea of zombies. I feel that the whole zombie thing is a meme that has been so overdone that in most cases it’s worthy of ridicule. Most but not all, and Boneshaker, the first of the series, is one of those “not all’s”.

Set in Seattle, the novel spins the story of a mother, Briar Wilkes, determined to shield her son, Zeke, from the family history and Zeke just as determined to uncover it and set the story straight if necessary. The zombies in this book are used extremely well as a plot device and not as the central theme. Well done, Cherie! A fantastic read and I am looking forward to reading Clementine,  the second book in the series.

As a Side Note…


Why has much of society given up on reading? Is it because most people have become intellectually lazy? Is video on demand that much easier than lifting up a book or e-reader? I, myself love starting and finishing my day by enjoying at least for a few minutes… at very least. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-TV, but personally I feel like I have missed something when I haven’t read for the pleasure of reading.