Even the Writer Needs a Vacation: Reading, Sunning and Shooting Gators With a Camera

Need a vacation? I surely did. Yet even as I write this, it’s nearly over.

But first, let’s flash back. I was researching and writing my tail off seven days a week, nonfiction mostly Monday through Friday, and fiction predominantly Friday night through Sunday.

It’s a lonely, indoor activity. Minus any vital sun on my skin, it was getting to the point where I was subconsciously consuming huge amounts of vitamin D (mostly Jarlsberg cheese) just to stay healthy. My back and hip ached to the extent that I could barely walk or even sit comfortably. I needed to get out of the writing chair or standing desk and onto a beach, into the ocean, or find myself a whirlpool. I needed to do so without any guilt. You see, Americans working for international companies often catch grief for trying to take a week or less while their European counterparts are entitled to weeks and even months at a time, regardless of deadline schedules.

So, in the spirit of not writing during my writing break, I promised myself during my R&R in South Carolina to check work email only once in a while, move work-related projects forward when I could, draft this lousy blog, and read a lot, because all the top writers say that reading is one of the best methods for training for the craft. Already during this mini-vacation I’ve completed Preston and Child’s “Thunderhead,” and now, I’m getting a kick out of my damp, sandy copy of J.A. Konrath’s “Whiskey Sour,” which my son buried in the beach bag under his sand-caked pair of flip flops.

I was expecting to have some exciting details in this blog about the sequel to my third novel, “Donkey Sense,” but the communication lines are staticky and slow, so at this time I can just say that “Donkey Sense 2: Saving the Farm” has been accepted for publishing by Clean Reads Books. I can provide more information about that in future blogs.

Now, here are some pictures from my vacation. Hehehe.

 

Reading on the job.

Beach Chair Reading

Big alligator sighting/ Sneaky Gator (8 to 10 feet long).

Sneaky Gator

Here he/she comes! I better give her some room.

Here he comes

A close-up! Little fella (5 and ½ feet) crosses the trail to get to the other side.

Gator Crossing

And that concludes our vacation pictorial. If you’re looking for a good beach read yourself, check out my books.

Donkey Sense eBook: https://www.amazon.com/Donkey-Sense-Dean-Lombardo-ebook/dp/B00PRLVBKA/

Donkey Sense paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Donkey-Sense-Dean-Lombardo/dp/1507629052/

Princess Plume eBook: https://www.amazon.com/Princess-Plume-Dean-Lombardo-ebook/dp/B01HG55DJ4/

Princess Plume paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Princess-Plume-Dean-Lombardo/dp/162135556X/

Vespa eBook: https://www.amazon.com/Vespa-Dean-Lombardo-ebook/dp/B001U89AES/

These books are available on Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.

 

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The Celebrated Talking Donkey of Richfield County

It’s always particularly satisfying when you achieve something that knowledgeable and influential people told you that you couldn’t accomplish. For me recently this was writing and finding a publisher for a children’s book – middle-grade level, to be precise. You see, I’ve been an authentic sci-fi horror author since 2007 when my debut novel, “Vespa,” was published by a small press based in Philadelphia. Since that time, I have also witnessed my shocking, soul-searching sci-fi satire, “Space Games,” go to press as well, and in the wake of these two accomplishments, I felt I needed a break from all the horror and adult content. I had been looking into the abyss, as Nietzsche once said, for too long and the abyss was starting to stare back. In addition, readers and peers were wondering if I was this horrible person because my fiction made them feel terribly uncomfortable. Some began judging and measuring my works … after reading them in their entirety, mind you … based on their horrified reaction instead of the quality of each book, which to me is not fair. Ernest Hemingway, arguably the greatest American author who ever lived, wrote in a letter to his parents: “…a writer should not be forced to defend his choice of a subject but should be criticized on how he has treated that subject.” Ahh, never mind that, that’s over.

frog2So I set out to write something sweet for a change, something for my wife and kids and dearly departed mother, something that didn’t have to come with a warning label and draw such anger and revulsion from readers who couldn’t handle it. I had a large number of people test-drive this middle-grade novel and two of the most influential of them told me coldly that it was NOT going to fly for a number of reasons. First, because I was a horror writer and I wasn’t working in “their” genre. Second, because the stories they wrote for teens and middle schoolers never contained as much tension and conflict as the new book I’d written. “Go and read some of the wonderful stuff that’s available to these ages,” one of them told me. And I did and I was horrified by how poorly these novels stacked up against the young person’s literature I grew up on—stuff like the works of Mark Twain and Scott O’Dell and John Steinbeck. It’s a different way of writing sure, but I get it and I won’t talk down to them or try to protect them from the key elements of every good story: characters, conflict (toned down a bit) and rhythm.

Anyway, I’ll soon join the ranks of authors/storytellers who write for both adults and children. In here at the top echelon are Stephen King, JK Rowling, James Patterson, Neil Gaiman, vicious Clive Barker, and even pulp director Robert Rodriguez, the latter who brought us the R-rated From Dusk Till Dawn but whom also delighted our kiddies with the Spy Kids series. It can be done!

And of course there’s Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, whom I can definitely cite as an influence for my new middle grade novel. I remember the power of his yarn and pronounced dialect as it came alive while reading The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County in middle school (even, just re-familiarizing myself with the title brings a smile). Whether you’re in middle school or older I hope you will enjoy my own yarn when it comes out in late 2014/early 2015. Be on the lookout. It’s called “Donkey Sense” and it’s suitable fun not just for middle graders but for all ages.
The one’s for you, Mom, and for you too Mark.
D.L.