Plotting or Plodding?

Humph! Here’s the real truth about writers: sometimes we have no idea how it’s all going to turn out.

I mean, really, what are we doing? What am I doing? What is my plot doing?

Sometimes it feels like I’m playing a giant connect-the-dots while blindfolded. Are these two dots really going to connect in the end?

This is an issue with any type of writing – including a stand-alone novel. But with a series, humph! Plotting seems like plodding at an ant’s pace.

I’m working on the final segment of The Forgotten Child Trilogy, and while I’m currently on chapter 19 – more than half way finished, I am starting to wonder how I’m going to tie up all of these strands. Yes, I like strands. Perhaps too much. Maybe I should have stuck with the third person limited. I did that once with the novel A Love Story For a Nation and I must admit it was freeing because every scene whether description or dialogue came from one person’s perspective. That’s why books which in the first person “I” have such an appeal.  It’s immediate. It’s personal. But let’s admit it. It’s also limiting.

My first series is being written in third person omniscient. It has to be this way because there are so many characters who are helping to tell the story. Now, I don’t write the narration from everyone’s perspective. In fact, there are three (maybe four) antagonists and I don’t tell it from their perspective at all. It’s just a choice I’ve made in this particular series. I wanted their motivations to be slightly obscured through the perspective of the different protagonists. Yes, this story is about many people.

There’s the rub. It can be confusing because I’m trying to balance many different strands from many different perspectives: Frick, Bee, Ash, Hatty, Ruthy, Rachany, Haddock, Adams & O’Malley – any more?

Okay, so what’s the solution? How to keep my head on straight?

First, take a deep breath and know that no one else – I mean no one – will ever see your first draft. So it’s okay if it’s terrible, and it usually is.  Just get the story down the best you can. You may not fill all holes at once and that’s okay.

Second, plan on spending the next six months doing rewrites and revisions. Just do it. Build in the time into your writing schedule. You’ll be amazed at how your mind will shift and you’ll get new ideas – better ideas – over time. Don’t be in a rush to get it done. Take your time.

Third, remember that it will work out in the end. It always does. The ‘i’s will be dotted the the ‘t’s crossed. It just takes time. It may seem chaotic right now, but after you write that next chapter, some clarity will come. More direction will be revealed and you’ll get there.

Four, remember to tie up all the ends even if it means re-writing. Don’t leave anything hanging when you come to the end of the series. Therefore, read the whole thing again. I know, I know. You told yourself that you’d rather bang your head against the wall than read your story one more time. But it will be worth it. Slow down. Read it again. Make sure it’s all tied up neatly in the end.

A good last impression is the best impression. Don’t let the end slip away from you.

Okay, now I need to start following my own advice.

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Review of THE AFRICAN CONNECTION

Author Colleen Chesebro gives a thorough and excellent review of book 2 of THE FORGOTTEN CHILD TRILOGY on her blog “The Fairy Whisperer.”

In addition to giving it the vaunted 5-STARS, she says:

“I’ve been a fan of Mark Sasse’s fiction for a few years now. The Forgotten Child Trilogy has captured my imagination and my heart. Just make sure to read this series in order so that you understand who the characters are.”

Head on over to read the entire review HERE! Make sure to check out her other reviews as well.

To get yourself a copy of THE AFRICAN CONNECTION, is available on Amazon HERE! (Kindle & Paperback)

And, don’t forget to get your FREE Kindle copy of book 1 of the series available for FREE through the weekend. FREE ON KINDLE: A MAN TOO OLD FOR A PLACE TOO FAR

 

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The Forgotten Child Trilogy Book 1 – FREE – Limited Time!

Through Sunday July 22, pick up a FREE Kindle version of A MAN TOO OLD FOR A PLACE TOO FAR – Book 1 of THE FORGOTTEN CHILD TRILOGY!

Gert it on AMAZON HERE!

Amazon UK HERE!

Come meet the enigmatic beings from beyond – Bee and Ash – as they choice a terrible old man to do some wonderful things. It’s action, it’s adventure, it’s time travel, it’s history, it’s just plain fun.

Make sure to check out the reviews – currently receiving 4.4 stars on Amazon.

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This happy occasion coincides with the release of BOOK 2. Now on Amazon for only $3.99 – THE AFRICAN CONNECTION!

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NOW AVAILABLE IN KINDLE & PAPERBACK. HERE!

Read the book, write a review, pass along the word! Thanks for your support.

 

Cancel Everything. Write and Discover.

A couple months ago, I was publicly weighing the options of how to write book three of my trilogy. I first stated how great outlining was, though I rarely used it before. Then I followed that up by stating that I just need to discover where I’m going before I get there.

I’m not a good third way into my novel and I realize how ridiculous all of this sounded. I can’t plan or outline or discover anything until I start writing.

Writing is outlining. Writing is planning. Writing is discovering. At least it is for me.

I fretted and worried about where this story would be going. How silly it all seems now!

As I started writing, I have discovered ideas that I would never have thought of before. I  came across plot shifts and surprising developments that even surprised me, the writer.

How does that work? How am I so blinded by my own story that it ends up surprising me?

It must be about a lack of development. When I outline an idea, it’s just a shell with not any structure standing around it. It sounds good at the time, but it’s hollow with no substance behind it.

Then I start writing. The first idea gets developed and that leads to a new set of objectives and details which I didn’t have in my writing bag before. So I shift gears and end up going in a direction which I couldn’t have anticipated.

When I’m not writing, it’s frightening because I can’t figure out what’s going to happen.

But when I’m writing, it’s exhilarating. It’s like walking down a virgin path in the woods and discovering a mysterious cave you never new was there. I don’t think I’ll doubt myself anymore.  This is how I write. This is how I live. I can’t plan. I don’t know how to. All of my plans fall through as my never-ending brain shifts and changes at the whims of a new idea.

So I think I will strop trying to write like anyone else but myself.

I write to discover. Period. Foreever and ever. I’ll leave the outlining to those really smart writers who have a singular mind which doesn’t change.

I’ll continue to change with the whims of the air. And my mind.

Movie Review: Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Yes, I would, Fred.)

Touching. Timely. Inspiring. Infuriating.

I, like millions of other children from my generation, grew up watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Living just 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, I watched it on his home station, WQED – PBS Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

His gentle demeanor, memorable opening song, iconic sweater, simple puppets, and the ever-cool red trolley are indelible parts of my childhood. I enjoyed the show, but soon out-grew it, and never really thought of its overall impact until I watched the documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” from film-maker Morgan Neville.

If you haven’t seen it, please go. I’ll briefly put my thoughts on the movie in relationship to the four words above.

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Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood Display @ Heinz Museum, Pittsburgh, PA  – Photo by MWS

Touching. There are many touching moments in this film. Fred Rogers had the ability to reach the hearts of those he spoke to – and not only children. One of the most remarkable parts of the film is watching the many interviewees listen to a short clip of Fred telling people to think for one minute about a person who made a difference in their lives. Of course, Fred framed the scenario in such a lovely way, that every single one of the interviewees teared up. He encouraged them to slow down, think, remember, and cherish those people who made them who they are. Some answered ‘Mom’ others a relative or friend, one said ‘Fred.’  All of them were unmasked in a beautiful way by Fred’s amazing ability to speak to the soul of an individual. It was a perfect scene.

Timely. In this day and age of everything being hyper-politicized, Fred’s message of love and acceptance to the children he had passion for is such a tremendous message. One, albeit, lost daily on the TV airwaves. Just a quick perusal of TV channels this Sunday evening made this all the more real. The plethora of choices available were dearth of heart, meaning, sincerity, and substance – all of which Fred displayed in abundance, not only on his show but as a person in real life. Be like Fred, everyone. It should be a motto on a t-shirt.

Inspiring. As an educator, I walked away from the movie truly inspired. The way he spoke to children, the way he listened to children, the way he advocated for children, and the way he educated children has, I believe, never been matched. He tackled difficult topics with care and heart (here’s that word again). Topics like war, assassination, divorce, racism, acceptance, disabilities, etc… while the rest of TV land droned on in a flashy drivel void of meaning or substance. Watching this movie made me want to be a better teacher.

Infuriating. I was not upset at Fred at all. How could I be? Well, it seems that some people can be upset at just about anyone. If you can find fault in the public discourse and actions of one Fred Rogers, you’d probably would have lined up in glee to watch the decapitation of the Apostle Paul.  Seriously, what is wrong with people? Some pundits have blamed Mr. Rogers’ philosophy of telling children that they are good and lovable and worthy of love as a message which has poisoned a whole generation by making a bunch of spoiled, entitled brats who feel they don’t need to work for anything because Fred Rogers told them that they are special. If I can be frank, what kind of idiot analysis is that?  If you have a problem with telling every child that they are unique and special and lovable, then you have a problem. In fact, the philosophy of Fred Rogers is, in my view, one of the keys that the world desperately needs if we are ever going to bridge the divides which have pulled us apart.

Thank you, Morgan Neville, for bringing this touching and timely reminder of what decency and civility really is. I wish someone would bring it back to children’s television.

This is a film I highly recommend.

THE AFRICAN CONNECTION – Now Available in KINDLE & Paperback

Genre & Sub-genre:  Magical Realism/Action & Adventure/Time Travel/Fantasy

The enigmatic tiny flying being name Bee whisks Francis Frick and a young Hatty Parker twenty-five years into the past in the heart of Africa, hot on the trail of master international criminal Heinrich Ulrich.

Meet BEE: a strange child-like creature who has been “haunting” businessman Francis Frick for years – now they are partners in a strange, time-traveling type of way as they head twenty-five years into the past hot on the trail of international criminal Heinrich Ulrich.

Meet ASH: Bee’s faithful warrior companion, but he has many unexpected threats to overcome if Bee will ever be satisfied.

Meet HATTY: a young woman with a heart for serving the needy in Africa. But when she discovers what her boss Monroe has been up to, her path mysteriously crosses with that of Francis Frick and Bee.

Meet HADDOCK: the faithful lackey of Mr Frick. The errand boy who’s been doing Frick’s dirty deeds for years. But now he is tasked to discover Frick’s ancestral roots in Scotland. What he finds is something otherworldly!

Meet ADAMS & O’MALLEY: Two hard-nosed FBI agents who have been trying to link Frick with Ulrich. But now they too will be entangled in the the strange adventure.

Meet RUTHY FRICK: Middle-aged daughter of Francis Frick, who has endured every bit of verbal abuse from her father that a woman can take. Why can’t she turn away from him?

Meet ZETTE: The hideous creature from beyond who tries to thwarts Bee’s plans on earth. But things may not be as they appear on the surface.

Shocking secrets, twists and turns, laughs and suspense: THE AFRICAN CONNECTION will take you on a whirlwind adventure around the globe with a cast of unforgettable characters.

AVAILABLE NOW (JULY 6, 2018): BOOK TWO: THE AFRICAN CONNECTION  (KINDLE & PAPERBACK)

BOOK ONE (DECEMBER 2017): A MAN TOO OLD for a PLACE TOO FAR

BOOK THREE: Coming in 2019

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Did you know this? Happy Fourth of July

Independence day is one of America’s most celebrated and enjoyable days. From picnics to fire works to family fame, it’s hard to beat for summer fun. Here are a few fun facts which you may not have known about July 4.

Did you know?

Our Founding Fathers didn’t declare independence on July 4, 1776.  They declared independence on July 2, 1776.

Then what happened on July 4? The text of the declaration was finally approved by Congress that day.  It wasn’t actually signed until August 2, 1776.

Did you know?

Two of our founding father’s died exactly 50 years to the day of our first independence day – that being July 4, 1826. Do you know who they were? Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. I don’t know who planned that, but that’s pretty cool.

Did you know?

On September 2, 1945, when Ho Chi Minh read Vietnam’s Declaration of Independence from the French, he quoted Jefferson’s America’s declaration “all men are created equal endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights …” as a means of pleasing a group of American observers who were in the crowd that day in Hanoi. As a strange note in history, an American reconnaissance plane was flying over Hanoi during the declaration and swooped down to take a closer look at what was happening. Many in the crowd saw the American plane and cheered, taking it as a show of support for their independence. But no, it was just a coincidence, and after another week, American ships were ferrying French soldiers back into Indochina so they could retake their pre-WWII possessions. But that’s a story of independence for another day.

Did you know?

Thomas Jefferson did not write every single word of the declaration. Certain parts were slightly edited by other founders who wanted to tweak it this way or that. An example of this is the phrase “endowed by their Creator,” a phrase not in the original text but added anyways much to the chagrin of Jefferson.

Did you know?

The Statue of Liberty was gifted to the United States by France in 1876 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of our independence.

Have you read the declaration lately? You should. It’s a clear indication of what our Founding Father’s thought our new country should be all about.

Enjoy the freedom and independence we enjoy because these brave men and many other brave men and women through the years who fought to preserve it. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Reagan quotes:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

Happy Independence Day everyone!

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