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.

 

Tuning Out the Noise and Turning on the Productivity

Gratuitous Robin Tunney photo

Gratuitous Robin Tunney photo

I’m old enough to remember the days when you sat down at a typewriter with a cigar in your mouth and just wrote. Back in the mid-eighties (or earlier), when there weren’t handy feature-rich laptops, DVD players, palm-sized phones with Internet access, social media time-wasters such as Facebook and Twitter, and countless online games and other distractions.

Despite today’s technological advancements, it’s arguably more difficult for a writer to write. Many of you know the story. You get pulled into the nonsense, into the crusade, the war, the hatred of your country, the shaming, the persecution, the need to trade insults. It’s wrong to stereotype this group but okay to brand this one. They gang up and bully you with, “This is the right way of thinking (my way) and yours is the wrong way,” or “I can say this or whatever I want, but you need to keep quiet.” There was a time when you would read about something in the newspaper and react by phoning your elected officials. Now, we try and solve all our problems over the Internet as if we could actually change someone else’s mind (or the WORLD) with a post or create momentum that would have such a Mothra butterfly effect that, for instance, all the pirates off the coast of Somalia would stop attacking merchant vessels. Yeah, like that’ll work. So insecure are we that we need to reaffirm our security or insecurities by getting likes, shares or, conversely, by being ignored. We whine about our poor persecuted selves, try to give it back, try to win the winless argument, and all of this is costly. Costly in terms of time, money and our mental health.

There was a time when I worried about getting likes for my posts, about having many real or virtual friends to like, share or comment on my posts. But now? Now, I don’t care because I realize the people who I want to care are too intelligent to be taking it up on Facebook. They’re out there doing it. Getting the job done.

The Internet (and television) offers a great start when it comes to research, making connections, doing business, and forging friendships. The Net is also a fun place to hang with those friends and share ideas–to a point.

It’s just not where I want to live my life or waste time arguing with people who’ve already made up their mind about my gender, my country, my ethnicity, and my moderate political views.

I’ve got books to write … and, oh … if you haven’t figured it out already, I’m not looking for likes of this blog post. It’s not about YOU. 

My Writing Process

I don’t blog a heck of a lot because usually I’m writing for my day job, spending time with my family, or working on one or more new novels. But when author Deb. E. Howell tagged me to participate in the Writing Process blog hop I recognized it as an opportunity to self-analyze which factors put me at the top of my game when I am fortunate enough to be in the “writing zone,” productive and effective as a novelist. You see, when writing an author is often pressing because he or she isn’t always inspired to write. It’s easy when you’re inspired and the keyboard seems to disappear and you’re banging out scene after scene as if your thoughts are populating the manuscript wirelessly. But those times when you don’t feel like writing can be extremely difficult. And in such situations, I recite what the late great Michael Crichton once shared in a USA Today feature article:

Ass2Chair.

Repeat after me:

Ass2Chair.

What Crichton meant was if you want to be a professional writer, you better sit down, turn the computer on, and write your story—no buts (or butts) about it.

Now, obviously, I don’t just sit down and write when I’m starting a new story. I draft a synopsis first, then I research/research/research (including on-location exploration) and compose a longer outline. Then I flesh out all characters in character sketches. Once all of this is complete, I follow the outline and sketches pretty faithfully, detouring only when I discover a problem with the plot or a character’s motivations. Then, as Hemingway said, I keep on writing and writing until the end.

Wait, I’m not done yet. I take stock of what I’ve got. I ask, Is this novel of the quality I’d pick up at a bookstore? Does the dialogue sound genuine? When I read through the manuscript usually there are some parts that need strengthening or tightening and some additional things to integrate seamlessly into the story. So is the novel ready to submit yet?

Heck no! I rewrite it again and get it to wail and sing like a David Gilmour guitar solo.

Dean descends into the Man-Cave to write.

Dean descends into the Man-Cave to write.

Yeah, now it’s done.

The End.

Why such a short blog post? Well, I try to remain true to myself. My former publisher, Samantha Smith, an Englishwoman, once praised me (sort of) for my economical style in “Space Games,” (2013, Kristell Ink). She was right about the economical part. I emphasize pacing and eliminate waste. I don’t try to dazzle people with language, vocabulary or length. I tell a high-stakes story and it’s the story … not all the pretty words in between … that is most important to me as a novelist (and I hope most meaningful to my audience as well). I respect poets, but I don’t try to be one. I’m just trying to tell a good joke, spin a good yarn, make people’s hearts race, make’em see and feel it, and write a good ole American novel along the way.

I tag Evelinn Enoksen and Crash Froelich to join this writing blog hop, if they haven’t already participated.