The chair where J.K. Rowling sat and wrote the first two Harry Potter novels is up for auction. This is the chair on which the author wrote Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone outside of the U.S.) as well as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
If you are a big Harry Potter fan, or a novelist interested in channeling the famous author’s muse, you will need to take out a second mortgage on your home for this 1930’s era piece of furniture. The chair presented by Heritage Auctions, custom painted by J.K. Rowling herself, will start the bidding at $45,000.
These were the early novels which introduced us to the the now-iconic characters of Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Professor Snape, and, of course, He Who Must Not Be Named. Now, you may have an opportunity to sit upon Rowling’s literary throne and dream up your own Wizarding World.
It’s always nice to dream!
October is a great month to prep for The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It’s a time to find or develop a story idea. I’m in the choosing stage. I have several ideas, and I need to figure out which one I want and can develop into a full-fledged novel.
What’s your basic story idea?
From the Homefront
We have still not been able to rent the house yet. We’ve met some nice folks who want to rent, but they have serious financial issues, a history of skipping out on a previous rental, or a spotty job history. We’re still optimistic.
As I reported last week I opted not to renew a contract to work for someone I did not like or enjoy working for at all. I thought I had a near lock on a new contract, but an 11th hour candidate appeared, a personal referral from someone in the group in which I wanted to work, and took the job.
Disappointed? Yeah. Defeated? Heck No!
Get back up dust myself off and keep going. My next job is out there and I’m going to get it.
In the News
In Tribute to Tom Clancy
This past week we said goodbye to Tom Clancy at the age of 66. It’s reported he died after a short illness. All the media talks about his novel The Hunt for Red October, which was also made into a movie, but my introduction to Clancy was Red Storm Rising. I read it toward the end of the Cold War. The premise and possibility of what it would have been like to be in a war with the Soviet Union was terrifying. Reading how it might unfold and the technology used, scared the hell out of me.
I read early interviews with Mr. Clancy. He was an insurance salesmen who wrote his stories every chance he got. He took his deep interest in the military, intelligence and technology and made a living writing novels about them. The genre term techno-thriller was coined to describe his stories.
In the early days of his success he was often contacted by the CIA and NSA wondering, for a guy who never served in the military, where he got the information he put in his novels. Clancy had to inform them it was all readily available in the public domain. He was later consulted by agencies and movie directors about his in-depth knowledge of military tactics and technology.
When talking to people who wanted to be writers Tom Clancy was forthcoming and blunt. Addressing attendees at one writing workshop he said,
“If your objective is to write a book, get a computer and write the damn book. Yes, you can do this if you try hard enough. It’s a lot easier than you realize it is.”
Never Give Up.
Gone too soon, but life well lived Tom Clancy
His latest (and last?) novel Command Authority is due out in December.
A Farewell to Breaking Bad and Walter White
A week ago today, after 5 very successful seasons and 10 Prime-time Emmy’s, Breaking Bad came to a grand finale. It was one of the most popular series of all time for AMC.
This was a great story from beginning to end.
A group of dedicated fans put some money together and bought this obituary announcement, in the Albuquerque Journal for Walter White.
The Summer is over and Fall is here…You know what that means. Get ready to write a novel.
The National Novel Writing Month is almost upon us again. Do you have any story ideas you’re developing for those 30 days of writing mania?
Are you a Plotter or Pantser?
I found out years ago I need to outline. As a Pantser I’d never get too far with a story. I’d get stuck and stop. I finally succeeded at completing a novel length story as soon as I worked from an outline – even when it went off in new directions.
From the Homefront
I hope you all had a good summer. It wasn’t one of my favorite. We normally go on some road trips and weekend getaways in the warmer months, but it didn’t happen this year. This summer was about work – and not the writing kind.
My wife Loly and I spent the spring and summer renovating my old house, to get it ready for sale. We dedicated all our free time to the project, weekdays and weekends. I’d go there to work after getting out of my job. Loly is a teacher and she used her entire summer vacation to work on the house…every – single – day.
We turned a diamond in the rough into a gem. We poured our time, hearts, souls and a fairly large chunk of money into that house. When it was ready we interviewed realtors. Each of them provided market comparisons.
The results of the reports were a HUGE letdown. It showed that even with all the work we did, because of the current market here, we could not list and sell the house for what we needed it to sell for. Even worse, we couldn’t even make the money back we just invested in it. (Insert string of colorful expletives here) This took the wind right out of our sails. We were dispirited. It felt like all our time, effort and money were wasted.
At the same time I was working a job that was causing me tons of stress, paralyzing anxiety and sleepless nights. I’ve never been treated this poorly in my professional career.
There were some serious obstacles to overcome.
I did a lot of soul searching.
Turning Things Around
Loly and I re-grouped on the house. We weighed all our options and decided to rent the house for a year or two until the market increased to the point where we could sell it. It was listed last Friday and we already have three prospects. One of them was even good.
Several years ago I worked a job I dreaded going to every. I put up with that for six years. Once I decided to get out of that situation I vowed to never again put up with a job like that. I decided there and then what I would and would not allow in my life.
Six months was long enough this time.
On Friday the 13th I gave my 2-week notice. I had no other job lined up.
The same day I gave my notice I began networking and applying for other jobs. I interviewed for two other jobs within the last week. Both look promising.
Writing Resources, Books and Self-Publishing News
It seems I’ve been reading about this coming for years now. It’s the sequel to The Shining. The little boy from that story, Danny Torrance, is all grown up now and he’s fighting more than just supernatural demons. Once I read it I will post my review of it here.
The Guardian (UK) recently interviewed Mr. King about the book. It’s a good article, but more interestingly he throws some verbal barbs at Twilight, The Hunger Games, and 50 Shades, but he does give kudos to J.K. Rowling’s latest novel The Casual Vacancy – give the article a read, it’s very entertaining.
Ever hear of J.S. Scott? She was a respiratory therapist with no professional writing experience, but she had a passion for writing and romance. She was a complete newbie to self-publishing and had to learn everything. Now she’s a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with her The Billionaire’s Obsession series.
Oh, and by-the-way. Jan just started self-publishing in April of 2012!
For those of you who like to write collaborative stories and novels, there’s cool online app you’ll want to check into. Editorially is a word processor and plain text editor, this is also a great collaborative writing tool.
- Multiple writers can update a document or manuscript at the same time.
- Invite friends and colleagues to view the manuscript and provide feedback
- It prevents version control issues. Save versions on the fly. Compare them to see what’s changed
- Take a look, it’s Free to sign up and use!
Keep Readin’ and Writin’
The master of the Crime Thriller – Elmore Leonard passed away at the age of 87, two weeks after having suffered a stroke.
Mr. Leonard was a prolific author. He was working on his 46th novel at the time of his death. For those of you who don’t think you know Elmore Leonard, you might remember some of the movies made from his novels like:
- Get Shorty
- Be Cool
- Hombre (with Paul Newman)
- Three-Ten to Yuma
- Mr. Majestyk (with Charles Bronson)
The TV series Justified was written his popular character Marshal Raylan Givens (played by Tim Olyphant)
Elmore Leonard’s writing style was spare, crisp and direct. He didn’t waste time with a lot of internal dialogue or describing places and things. The language is strong, the action, gritty, gruesome and realistic.
Although his novels are violent, his characters are memorable and likeable – even the bad ones. He was a master of capturing a character’s essence through the use of dialogue, which was often humorous – in a dark way. He liked to write about “bad guys” because they are more interesting, albeit not too bright.
Given his style it’s not surprising that some of his biggest influences were Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and Raymond Carver. All of these authors were known for their economical writing styles.
When I began this blog 10 years ago this month, one of the early pages I set up was Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing. The rule that speaks to his writing style the most is Rule # 10 – Leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.
I’ve only read about half the books Elmore Leonard authored, but I will get through the rest of the collection – including the Western’s.
Life well lived Elmore
My knee-jerk reaction to the news that Richard Matheson had died was slight shock and sadness. I then thought, he lived a long and productive life, one to be admired – if not envied.
The news touted him as the author of I Am Legend, which was a great book and were made into pretty good films like Omega Man in 1971, and then the Will Smith version of Legend in 2007.
Mr. Matheson wrote so many good stories. Some of my favorites are:
- Stir of Echoes – Also a good movie
- Pit and the Pendulum (the screenplay adaptation of Poe’s short story) – Vincent Price’s awesome overacting
- Somewhere in Time – A really good movie
- Nightmare at 20,000 Feet – A classic Twilight Zone episode – Shatner or Lithgow?
- Hell House – Scary frikkin book and movie
- What Dreams May Come – Although odd to some, I liked the movie
- Old Haunts
- The Creeping Terror
- Graveyard Shift
…And so many more including 10 other Twilight Zone episodes.
Richard has left a great and prolific legacy. A Life Well Lived.
What is your favorite Richard Matheson story?
I completed Clive Cussler’s White Death. The story was good in that it moved quickly, it kept me turning pages. Overall it was okay. Clive is old school with the hero being this macho male chauvinist type with a hint of James Bond. I like Michael Crichton stuff better. The characters are more realistic and he’s really good at world building, but the master of character and world building is still Stephen King.
I have not yet finished the two writing books, but I did start Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters by John Steinbeck. You really need to be a true Steinbeck fan to get through this book for the few tidbits and insights Steinbeck shared when creating East of Eden. I am a big fan, but I found this book a tough read. At 186 pages, it’s short, but it is very repetitive, and drags in places. It doesn’t live up to the expectations I had of it. I had hoped the book would have supplied detailed notes of the thought processes and the outlining of this, one of his greatest works. Alas, it was not to be.
You may recall that late in April, I was to begin a writing class called A Novel Plan. Well, that whole thing went bust. I was all eager to go, and only a couple of days into it the woman who began it (Angela) took down her website, and her forum and disappeared. We thought something bad had happened, but we found out from one of her friends that Angela became completely overwhelmed and simply took a sabbatical from computers altogether. It’s not like this was the first class she ever held. This was to be the third iteration of this class.
As I said before, I had subscribed to Angela’s newsletter for many years. She has had an extraordinarily tough life, which included a drama where her abusive husband was shot and killed right in front of her.
When she took a break from her writing site a couple of years ago, to find herself, I was a bit bummed because you correspond with these people and you get to know them a bit. I understood what she wanted to do and she handed over the reigns to others to run the websites for her, but was never the same. She only returned late last year.
With this latest disappearing act, I wished her all the best and bid her good-bye. I need more stability in the writing sites I patronize. I’ll just stick with Angela Hoy’s http://www.writersweekly.com/ – a site and newsletter I have subscribed to for at least six years. Angela is a former Texas news reporter, who now lives up in Augusta, Maine. She has a great newsletter, and shares her family with everyone. You really do get to know them. I have followed her through a divorce, struggling to keep her writing and website business going, getting re-married to Richard Hoy, and having her fourth child, Max, two years ago. The business is a big success now. She home schools her kids and brings her readership along as they travel the U.S. in their small motor home. The best thing about Angela is that she is a true writer’s advocate. She believes that all writers should always get paid for their writing all of the time.