Part II of Finishing A Novel: If I Die, Delete My Search History

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Coming soon! The new iGramophone. (Image courtesy of Stoonn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Announcing: The iGramophone 2.0
Image courtesy of Stoonn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If NBC’s “Dateline” is ever investigating my disappearance, the authorities will be very misled when they look for evidence in my internet browser’s search history. In writing The Grandfather Clock, themes emerged that probably landed me on a watch list. When I wasn’t searching for Nazis, hotels in South America and the logistics of international travel with weapons, I was using currency calculators and looking up the organizational structures of foreign law enforcement. It’s important to know if a Peugeot has a glow-in-the-dark escape latch INSIDE the trunk.

If My Search History Doesn’t Put Me Under Surveillance, This Blog Will

I remember the first time I noticed when an advertisement on the sidebar of my Gmail account corresponded with the subject matter of the email I was reading. This was before I fully understood the extent to which my free email account was being used to sell me things, and tell the NSA where I’m going on vacation. I can’t remember what the ads were, but I immediately tested the algorithm by emailing my future wife a long email about rubber duckies, which was accompanied on the sidebar with everything I needed to know about procuring rubber duckies. I rarely notice these ads anymore and I don’t think I’ve ever clicked on one. As an aside, Google doesn’t offer many ads when you search for Nazi conspiracy theories.

Smartphones: The 8 Track Cassettes of the Future

I think it was in one of the Jason Bourne books when Robert Ludlum spent a now-amusing-to-me amount of time explaining how a fax machine sent pages via telephone line. Technology will turn a book into a “period piece” within months. The smartphone has changed all forms of storytelling. Characters used to go visit hermit-like university researchers to get their next clue. It was more interesting to send them search the dusty stacks of a dark, forgotten corner of the library. But setting a story in the present presents a challenge in that it can be quite dry to show a character Googling an evil villain and then texting the love interest to meet him at the shipping dock. Boring. Today everyone is carrying a James Bond device in their pocket. Near the end of The Grandfather Clock I had to deal with the smartphone issue, and I tried to use it as an opportunity to make things more interesting.

I slipped up with my technology in one scene and was called out by my editor: “What twenty-four year old woman has a CD collection?” She was right. I’m forty and I haven’t played a CD in years. My son doesn’t even know what they are. He doesn’t understand why I can’t replay a song we hear on the car radio, much less any song he wants to hear at any time. The jury is out on how well my book holds up in fifteen years, an eternity technologically, but one thing is certain, this blog post will be dated.

While I’m drinking a Zima, waiting for my CD collection to become cool like vinyl, feel free to drop me a note at jkilewrites@gmail.com. (Or fax me.)

Up Next, Part III – Your Main Character Is A Stupid Arrogant Ass

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Writing a novel is beautiful. Editing a novel is ugly.

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Blog pic computer window

This is the first sentence I’ve ever published as a writer. Now that that’s out of the way, welcome to the first blog post of Well Oiled Writer. First, let’s get the name out of the way. By day, I’m in sales; petroleum products to be exact. It’s a good living, flexible, and low stress – if you’re good at it. It probably pays better than being a writer, but writing is my dream job – a passion that I squeeze in between selling oil, spending time with my wonderful wife and two kids, and our many activities as productive members of St. Petersburg, Florida.

“So what have you written, Mr. Blogger Dude?” 

In a few months (Late 2014) I will publish my first book, The Grandfather Clock, a mystery/thriller about a young man who returns to his home town to retrieve a family heirloom and gets drawn into a world of fine art, beautiful women, and Nazis. You need to have Nazis, right? Before you chalk it up as a Dan Brown rip-off, The Grandfather Clock, is as much a mystery as it is a story of the protagonist’s growth through the challenges he faces. Or as my friend put it, “This thing is no-shit a page-turner. I had to keep reading to find out how he ended up in that trunk!”

Your first book, huh?” (Looking around for someone else to talk to.) 

Not my first book. Okay, it’s my second full book. I’ve started a few more. Then a couple of years ago I really buckled down and wrote my first full length novel. It was okay. I took the whole thing apart and rewrote it in a different point of view, then rewrote the second half. By the time the book was finished, I still had a good story, but after so many rewrites, the voice was off. Like a French band covering a Beatles song; something was not quite right. Rather than continue to bandage up that Frankenstein, I started writing The Grandfather Clock, starting with a better outline and a real plan for how I wanted to tell the story. When I finished I hired an editor who read the first fifty pages and declared:

“It’s really nice to edit something that isn’t utter crap.” 

And if you know my editor, those are words of praise. I didn’t pay her to lie to me. I paid her to rip the manuscript to shreds because that’s what we all do when we read. When my book club picks some underwhelming piece of work, we all buy it; we read it; we tear it apart over pints and pizza, and come away actually appreciating the effort a little more.

Writing a novel is beautiful. Editing a novel is ugly. The story of writing my first book will come in five parts, because that’s what corporate America taught me: You need multiple parts, and an odd number of them. In between, I might drop a brief update, commentary, and responses to you, my readers.

Drop me an email any time at jkilewrites@gmail.com. I read them all, and respond to them all. Join my mailing list on the left (I will treat your email like my own. Even better, actually.)  Here’s a little teaser of what’s coming in the next few weeks and months.

Coming soon (subject to change): 

Part II – If I die, please delete my search history.

Part III – Your main character is a stupid, arrogant, ass!

Part IV – It’s all back together in one piece. But I have no idea what these extra parts are for.

Part V – I did this voluntarily? OR Hitting the PUBLISH button and holding your breath.