Day 17

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Another productive day in which my new routine to stay busy and keep the momentum going has worked.  I put together the Pro Racquetball Academy camp review I've been working on these past few days and sent it off the John Ellis and his team just after noon.  It's nice to have that finished.

Now, I'm at work on the piece I want to submit to the WSU Alumni Magazine about happy families.  I'm listening to my interview with the Arends now and taking notes.  I have a book to pick up at the library that talks about this subject. 

So, I'm now into Introducing Girls full-time.  I'm piecing together the first 20 pages up through the first day of school.  I'll do my best to write the book quickly.  I hope my new strategy to stay focused works.  We'll see.

I started the day at 4:30 and plan to end things around 10.

Day 16

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A very productive day that began at 6 and ended around 9:30.  I worked on a 1,000-word piece for John Ellis's Pro Racquetball Academy and jotted down ideas for my Introducing Girls rewrite.  I finished everything I had written for myself on my to-do list.  I'm totally wiped out so off to bed.

Day 15

Monday, January 28, 2013

I revised Martin Martinez, a manuscript I wrote last year, and put together a new query.  It appears as though I will have to query again.  More on that later in the week.  I wrote, read and organized from 8-10 tonight.  With Martin, I'd like to revise a few spots where I can emphasis a few dramatic points bewteen Martin and his siblings.  Some spots are a bit bland and that worries me.

Day 14

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Spent the day with Alice visiting a couple of her friends.  Arrived home by 5.  A rest day.  No writing today.

Day 13

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I had a racquetball match in the morning and sent an hour's worth of emails before noon, then headed over to Alice's for the rest of the weekend.  No writing today. 

Day 12

Friday, January 25, 2013

I started the day at 4:30, played racquetball from 5-7, wrote from 8-noon, had lunch with Richard, who gave me some excellent advice about the email I plan to send to agent Sam next week, wrote again from 2:30-6, then attended an E-Force racquetball demo at Mariner Square in Alameda from 6-10.  Watched two episodes of Portlandia before bed at 11:30.  It ended up being a busy day that concluded a busy week.

Off to Alice's on Saturday/Sunday where I'll continue writing my racquetball piece and finish a couple of books I've been plowing through. 

Day 11

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I started the day at 5 a.m. and will end the day at 10 p.m.  I went to the library later in the afternoon and checked out a bunch of books as I always do, one of which is Mortality by Christopher Hitchens.  I listened to most of his religious debates on YouTube last year.  I miss him.  I've never heard the argument for atheism presented as the preferable alternative to a dictatorial big brother who is so sadistic as to not even be through with you after death.  Very provocative and thoughtful man.

The other books I checked out were Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, Just Grace, Star on Stage by Charise Mericle Harper, Bridge of Time by Lewis Buzbee, In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, Drift by Rachel Maddow, Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko, and The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt.  That's a lot of brilliant writing in that library visit!

I'm reading through my November draft of Martin Martinez.  So far so good.

Day 10

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I have a game plan in place for my young adult books and talks with students.  I'm revising Martin Martinez and getting that ready for submission by the end of the month.  I'm almost finished with part one.  I really like this book.  It's a nice overview of the past 13 years of American history.  It gives students some context as to why the two parties are so at odds with each other.

My Introducing Girls revision will be extensive and time consuming, but should yield some curious results.  I like the idea of creating a Mad Men-style story for middle grade readers.  Many kids I know think the '70s are cool.  If only they knew the truth.  Once I create a new outline and structure the story with my major and minor characters I should have this book ready by the spring.  I have no idea what the reaction will be.

I came up with a brand new series for girls age 9-12 called True Colors Detective Agency.  The main character will be a 5th grader who was born in China and adopted by a couple living in Oakland.  I'm working an idea I had a few months ago about a child who can see the true colors of any individual by actually spotting the state of mind of the animal inside them.  Everyone has an animal inside their ribcage.  Some animals are passive and quiet, others are aggressive and ambitious, and others are simply crazy and frenzied.  She has a special gift and helps her father, who's a detective with the Oakland Police Department, solve murders.  Since it's for a young audience, it won't be too graphic, but will feel somewhat real.

No Sweat:  an Elementary Memoir, will be written in spurts and blocks of time.  It's not very commercial, but will certainly be a relief to me when it's on paper.  So much of my source material comes from my childhood.  Writing this book will also help with my 40-minute presentation to classrooms.  I'm going through pictures now.

Julia Milan remains on the sidelines, which is pathetic.  Perhaps after Martin is discovered, movement will occur on Julia so that I can begin books 2 and 3.  The upside is I'm a better writer today than I was in 2010, so perhaps it's all for the good that Julia Milan has taken so long to come out.  Who knows.

Anyway, these projects will occupy most of my time between now and June.  Alice, Austin and I are taking an Alaska cruise in June, so that's my deadline to have these books finished. 

Day 9

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I wrote 3000 words today, 2000 of which was part of a brand new series I may decide to write for elementary school readers who like mysteries.  The working title is "True Colors Detective Agency."  The main character is a Chinese girl who is adopted by a couple living in Oakland.  I'll play with this idea more this week.

The other 1,000 words is a non-fiction piece on the three-day racquetball camp I attended in Stockton over the weekend.  It was truly amazing.  I'm still thinking about all the things I learned and all the fun I had.  John Ellis runs a great program. 

Day 8

Monday, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King Day - I stayed at Alice's Sunday night and was ready to leave for a full day of writing, but Alice was under the weather and had the day off, so I stayed with her.  I'll get going tomorrow.  No writing today.

Day 7

Sunday, January 20, 2013

No writing today. 

Day three of Pro Racquetball Academy.  I played racquetball from 8:30-2:30 today.  I'm totally wiped out, but in a good way.

Day 6

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Day two of Pro Racquetball Academy.  I played racquetball from 8:30-7.  No writing today.

Day 5

Friday, January 18, 2013

Only 30 minutes worth of writing this morning as I had to pack and drive to Stockton for my 3-day Racquetball camp with John Ellis, Jose Rojas, Markie Rojas, Jose Diaz, Bobby Horn, and Jose Serrano. Back to writing on Monday.

Day 4

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I spent the morning writing the opening scene of each character in Introducing Girls, the Man Men novel for kids I'm writing.  I like the vision and direction of the book and hope to have it ready by late-March or earlier.  The rest of the day was spent taking care of racquetball matters.  Our E-Force demo bag arrived in the mail and it took about two hours preparing all 12 racquets.  I then went to Club One from 5-9 with the demo bag and was able to play with Dale Millhollin and Jeff Auen.  Tyler Olson was also there, but we didn't get to play.

I'm off to Stockton for three days for John Ellis's Racquetball Academy camp, learning all I can from John, Jose Rojas, Bobby Horn, Markie Rojas, Jose Diaz, and Jose Serano. 

Day 3

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I must be a crazy nut to think a Mad Men-style novel for kids set in a 5th grade classroom in the year 1974 is commercial.  Then again, I wrote a 42,000-word novel about a future U.S. President, but only covered the first ten years of his life.  What kind of freakish novels are coming out of my head and why the heck am I having so much fun writing them?  That's what I was wondering this morning before I hit the keyboard hard.  I wrote throughout the morning and in the afternoon I spent a few hours clearing off all the piles of papers, Christmas cards and other stuff that had accumulated since mid-December.  Now the workspace is relatively clean.  Can't wait to get back at it tomorrow!

Day 2

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Is it my imagination, or is the influence of Philip Glass now affecting TV commercials?  For years, he's become the default musical framer of emotionally intensity in films, and now the effect is working its way into product sales. Interesting.

Today I was a little all over the place but managed to bang out four pages of fiction and a few hours of rewrites.  I set up Pintrist today and will use it for organizing the visual look and detail of my characters.  That should be helpful.  There's a site I just discovered for TV research called TV Tango.  How did we live before the internet?

I'm breaking up my day into two parts:  8-12 and 2-6.  12-2 is reserved for Insanity workouts, shower, lunch and walking Sandy.  It's already 6:15 and that's quitting time on Tuesdays.

It's an overwhelming thing opening up all the memories of my childhood.  Some of those boxes have never been opened.  I took about 45 minutes of home movies to Costco last month and had them transfer the reels to DVD.  They turned out fine, but wow, what a chilling thing to see.  It brings back all the emotions of family life back in the 70s and 80s.  It was another lifetime ago, thank goodness.

Day 1

Monday, January 14, 2013

I'm chronicling 1,000 days of writing from today until October 10, 2014.  This is what a writing life looks like from my quiet little Erie St. apt. in Oakland, CA.  I’m starting things off with a bang this month...three projects about elementary school:  The Arrival (and departure) of Martin Martinez, Future President, Introducing Girls, and No Sweat, an Elementary Memoir.  When they're done, I'll start my online poker novel Austin15.  There's nothing like an ambitious slate of projects to keep me from sleeping and watching television all day long.

Martin Martinez has already been written.  I'm revising it in February after I get the other two books off the ground.  The second project, Introducing Girls, is a revision of a novel I wrote back in the '90s.  I'm keeping the good parts, removing the bad parts and reconfiguring things so that I'm left with Mad Men for 5th graders.  It's set in Bellingham, Washington the year Nixon resigned.  Oh, how I love the '70s and such guilty pleasures as the Six Million Dollar Man and Battle of the Network Stars.  

Here's a true story that took place the evening of March 4, 1975.  The ABC Movie-of-the-Week was the infamous Karen Black three-story horror vehicle Trilogy of Terror.  The previews of the demonic Zuni Fetish doll looked so creepy and irresistibly eerie that I couldn't imagine missing such an important television event.  The very thought of seeing Karen Black stick the demon doll into the oven was enough to satisfy even the most twisted eleven-year-old mind.  Well, it became the single most memorable television movie of the week that I never got to see.  My bedtime back then was 8:30 or 9, which was ridiculous on this night because I was allowed to watch the first two stories but not Terror of the Doll.  My parents should have received two penalties on that bedtime call, one for unsportsmanlike conduct and one for emotional cruelty.  I was up until 11 anyway because mom and dad watched the final tale in the family room with the volume just loud enough to torture me from missing a must-see TV moment before must-see TV moments were invented.

It took 38 years, but finally a horrible wrong was finally righted.  Today on youtube, I finally watched the third and final story, complete with the smoldering voodoo doll in the oven and the nice little twist at the end.  Very satisfying!  God Bless Karen Black!

Here's where the title No Sweat comes from.  One scorching summer evening when I was 6 and living in the red house on F Street, my dad and his friend Bill Phillips were sitting in the backyard on lawn chairs, complaining about the heat.  They were both sweating worse than their beer bottles.  I also wanted to sweat, but couldn’t.  “How can I sweat, too?” I asked dad. 
“Run around the house ten times,” he said.  “Then you’ll sweat.”
So I did.  I ran as fast as I could ten times around the house and when I was finished I felt my forehead. “I’m still not sweating,” I shouted.
“Run around ten times,” dad replied, but by then I was too tired to run anymore, so I went inside the house, angry and disappointed that I was able to sweat, too. That really happened.  Why that brief moment is so clear to me I'll never know.  

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