So Why Did You Start Writing Stuff Jeff?

February 25, 2010

Recently a friend asked me why did I start writing after he saw my book on Amazon “Notes To Stephanie”.  That was a good question I replied.

Well the answer is not really straight forward.  Growing up I got good grades in English and writing.  Unlike my math grades.  When we lived in Denton, Texas the schools had in house literary magazines in which I would get stuff published like short stories or poems.  In college I usually made good grades on papers, even in graduate school.  Outside of school I did not do any writing however.

In the work force I did a lot of writing.  I composed software documentation, training guides, proposals, and presentations.  All of it business writing.  I really did not do any creative writing except for a few articles in a now defunct and obscure hobby magazine.  I really had no great desire to write outside of work.

Then one day when I was engaged to my ex-wife Stephanie I started penning stuff to her.  Short notes on things that were happening.  Life’s ups and downs in short.  That material became the contents of my first book “Notes To Stephanie: Middle Aged Love Letters And Life Stories”.  When I first started writing the little notes to her I never considered publishing them.  Not once until the fall of 2008 when I counted them up and quietly realized I indeed had enough of them to make a book depending on the length I wanted.

So I started doing some research and decided the self published/print on demand route was the easiest way to go.  After our divorce was done I then decided to actually sit down and get the notes turned into a book.  And I did that starting in September of 2009.  By the middle of October 2009 it was up on Amazon and B&N for sale. And then I started writing the sequel, “Notes to Stephanie: Days Remembered”, which needs editing at this time so I can proceed with getting it up for sale.

A sequel you ask?  Write more about a woman you got divorced from?  Well yes.  And why would you do such a thing?  Two main reasons I think drove this decision.  One is the saying that an author should write about what they know.  And I certainly knew a lot about the now defunct marriage.  And secondly I wrote about the marriage to purge the divorce demons from my soul so to speak.  The end of that relationship was a sad disappointment but one deals with it and moves on down life’s road.  The divorce  troubles topic is something I have chosen not to write about simply because detailing the woes and fussing would serve no purpose.  There is enough of that kind of material in the media; creating something more positive was my goal instead.

Later on writing the sequel made me think of writing notes on stories about my two kids.  And another one on stories from my pre-college days.  Thus the sad event of divorce gave me the idea to do something new and good.  A series of four books would be the written.  I call it “The Notes Series”.  Simple enough I think.  All four books will have the same general format.  Short chapters which describe one stand alone topic.  A quick read if you will.  All will be from 200 to 300 pages long, except for the first one which is a little short of 200 pages, given the formatting and layout I am using which is the same for all of them. The titles of book #3 and book#4 are “Notes To My Kids: Little Stories About Grown Up Kids” and “Notes About My Kin: Stories About Growing Up And Family”.  In addition, you might notice that books 2 through 4 are memoirs really.  The first book is not since it is what I wrote when things happened in that former time. Finally each note usually has some “moral to the story” or a “life lesson” in it as well.  Nothing preachy but something that is thoughtful about where an event or situation sat at life’s big and complicated table.

So that is why I have started writing.  As you can see there was no revelation or large cosmic epiphany that made me do it.  But the initial decision to make a book begat the ideas for the other ones.  Time will tell what will come of these efforts. Hopefully someone will read the books and get something good out of them.  For someone to read what I have written about and be entertained by its message, or be given a new view on things in life, would be a good thing.  And hopefully I will sell more than a few books along the way and have a good time as well.

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The Meaning Of Weather And Life

February 23, 2010

Besides enjoying bright, sunny days with high cirrus clouds streaming overhead I also like snowy days and thunderstorms.  Truly, I enjoy the weather which is something I got from my dad.  We would for example sit on the patio and watch the storms like it was some atmospheric football game.   The clash of thunder and the flashes of lightning, along with the rain, were the plays in that sport.  One day in high school we were watching some huge lightning storm across the Red River and my dad simply said “The Okies are catching hell”.  That statement was sort of like a sportscaster commenting on a play.  And then it rained as the saying goes.  So over the years we watched many storms together like that.  Doing that was always something interesting and exciting to me and still is.  Geez I even go to the storm spotter classes the Weather Service holds each year.  But I have yet to deliberately go storm chasing.  Regardless the severe weather season is something I like a lot

On the other hand snow days are the total opposite to the aerial chaos of some strong storm.  The snow floats down on the landscape, sometimes heavily, but most of the time its fall is a gentle one that is quiet and calming.  The flakes swirl around and drape the world around us like a cold but yet comforting blanket.    Its dusting is a smooth white canvas upon which the world is painted, our homes and cars are like landmarks in an impressionist painting.  The snow lies for a while on the ground but the sun does come out and melts it away leaving only memories of how it made our world look so different.  Thus, the snow is something unlike a thunderstorm and yet it captures my imagination just the same.

What does all of this mean putting on my author’s hat?  To me it is a theme I do allude to and also write specifically about.  Different things can appeal to us even though they are vastly different and yet related in some way.  That is, snow and storms are very different yet both are meteorological events.  They both cover the landscapes of our lives but do so in dissimilar ways.  And with their differences one can find  enjoyment and wonder in each of them when they are seen.

Therefore the moral of this little tome is really pretty simple you know.  Look around you on any day and notice what is beautiful and enjoyable.  But do the same thing on a different type of day and learn to see there are new things to appreciate and like.  One day storms, one day snow.  There is always something new to see.


Thoughts On Pictures

February 19, 2010

The original notes in “Notes To Stephanie: Middle Aged Love Letters And Life Stories” each had an image on them.   I searched the internet for a picture that seemed to match the topic in the note.  When I turned the notes into a book I took the images out since they were someone else’s image.  A copyright issue you see.  Regardless, I liked the style of the notes with the images.  Here is one example image:

I am not sure where I found it but I give full credit to whoever made it –  if you see it let me know who you are.

When I started writing the sequel “Days Remembered” I  first considered having images on each note.  However, I would of course have to create the images or ask permission of image creators to use their work.  I decided that in and of itself would be a huge task since there are some 93 notes, the forward and afterward, plus the covers — around 100 images in total.  So I decided to have only a “few” images in the book at certain places (photographs).   So I started taking some pictures.  I knew what I wanted the pictures to look like in general so I went on drives and took a bunch of pictures  Truly you have to take several shots to get the one you really like. And since I took the photos they could be copyrighted as book content of course.

At this time there are around ten images in the book.  All of them are black and white pictures.  The style of the images relates to one of the themes you see in the books.  Wide vistas and high cirrus clouds.  You can see this at work by reading the notes called “Bonds Ranch Road: The View Of Forever” and “Another View Of Forever” on the sample page for “Notes To Stephanie: Days Remembered”.  http://www.ilypants.net/sequelsamplechapters.html .  It is, again, something you will see in both of the “Stephanie” books.

Finally, you can see some of these images on my Facebook page on the photos tab.  http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#%21/profile.php?ref=name&id=100000727429078

For books #3 and #4 which deal with my family I plan on using pictures of them.  Or maybe something else…..who knows what a writer might do right?


Just How Do You Write A Book Anyway?

February 17, 2010

People have asked me how did you write your book?  The first one was not a book at first, it was a series of notes I wrote over some two years to my ex-wife.  One day I realized I had enough of them for a book and after the divorce I did just that.  I  thought why not do that?  And thus I got it up on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles.

Now the second and third books are deliberate attempts at writing a book.  I sat down and came up with a starting list of chapters and started penning them.   The planned fourth book will be that way as well.  I finished a draft of the second book in two weeks.  But I have been tweaking it since then and will soon edit it more heavily so I can file the copyright and all of that stuff so it can be sold.  The third book’s first draft is about 15% done based on the chapter count.  There is a starting chapter list for book #4 as well.  All of the books will be 200 to 300 pages long.  The first book is a little less than 200 pages by the way.  All of them will have a format that is similar to my first book, “Notes To Stephanie: Middle Aged Love Letters And Life Stories”.  That is, each chapter is a short note on a specific topic.

Should I write a novel?  Some say I should but I have nothing in mind right now and in some ways that type of book does not really appeal to me, at least right now.  Finishing the “Notes Series” of books, and then the cookbook which is also is in process, is what I plan to do at this time. 

I write about what I know.  That is, life and the things that it plops into our laps.  They say an author should write about what he or she knows and I guess I am doing that.


Why Am I Doing This?

February 14, 2010

Well I have finally decided to get more modern and do a blog, a Facebook page, and even a twitter account to publicize my books.  That is why this is here you see.

Since I do technology for a living I was loath to get with the trend to do things like this and not be such a technological Ludite.   Who knows what I will try next.

In the meantime I will finish book #2 and keep writing on book #3.