Some say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Knowing this, here are some pictures from the Christmas tree I picked up on Wednesday. I will share that this is the first real tree I have purchased alone as an adult.
There was one time in Florida, maybe 7 years ago, where a friend and I bought a real tree, so aside from those two instances fake trees have been the norm since college. Whether it is due to the pandemic or just the uniqueness of living alone, I appreciate the beauty in this small purchase. I can feel the spirit of the season. The tree truly lightens the mood, especially as I trudge like many of you through this challenging holiday period sequestered away from family and friends.
Enjoy the photos! Please remember it is okay to take one day at a time.
Make no doubt about it, winter has arrived. Some in the northern hemisphere are thinking it's still a few more weeks away, but mother nature has spoken. As I type this, a nor'easter is visiting my home. We started off with rain and now the snow is coming down. Granted 8 inches is nothing to balk at, but I'm familiar with storms where we get dumped on. I'm talking 20-32 inches of snow in a given storm.
Since I returned from Italy, I have yet to experience one of those storms, but I think we're due here in New Hampshire for a big one. For readers that might wonder what a storm of that magnitude is like feel free to see my face in the picture above. I think fondly on when I ran during one of these bigger storms. I didn't go out for 2 hours, but I did go out for about an hour, fighting through the snow and wind. Really the wind is the bigger of the two issues.
When a big storm comes in you really shouldn't be out and about driving around. As for today's baby storm, the hardy New Hampshire population is still driving around despite the accumulation and the slick roads. I saw one guy towing his boat because you know it's December and clearly it was time to get it out of the water.
In my youth I was known to follow such trends, but now I race around before the storm to get groceries and check off errands. It's far better to sit at home and watch the snow fall, then worrying about whether I'm going to drive off the road. Now a walk, sign me up for that, as long as the wind isn't whipping. There really is something magical about the falling snow hitting the ground and the peacefulness of the entire scene. Think Narnia and you'll get the picture.
If you are lucky enough to participate in this weather, please enjoy it safely. And for those that are in warmer climates, I'll make sure to tell you how much I miss and love you when February comes around.
Another Thanksgiving has passed and the great tradition of Friday shopping continues. I remember 21 years ago when my girlfriend's grandmother was heading out at 4am to go to Ames to see what deals awaited. Fast forward to the present and many people are waking up, jumping online, and seeing what deals await online.
In the spirit of Black Friday, many of my books are free through the weekend on Kindle. Feel free to take a look and download one, two, three, or all that are available.
For my fellow writers or those who are about to undertake some writing, I wanted to share my recent play list for Seli. I often find when I write that some songs motivate me more than others. Granted, I tend to jam out sometimes and lose my focus, so I have added the staples that bring me back to reality and to the scenes I am about to write.
Enjoy the list below and may you all have a fun extended holiday weekend.
(The list is in no particular order. I actually use YouTube when I'm writing)
The Psychedelic Furs - Love Your Way
Depeche Mode - Enjoy the Silence
The Cure - Just Like Heaven
The Cure - Pictures of You
Go West - King of Wishful Thinking
Taylor Swift - The Last Time
Taylor Swift - Can’t Stop Loving You
Alice DJ - Better off Alone
New Radicals - You Get What You Give
Alanis Morissette - Ablaze
Warren G - Regulate
Fine Young Cannibals - She Drives Me Crazy
Mazzy Star - Fade Into You
Chainsmokers - Something Like This (done by the Color Music Choir)
Capital Cities - Safe and Sound
Madonna - Crazy for You
Surf Mesa - I love you baby
Kygo and Whitney Houston - Higher Love
Nico and Vinz - Am I Wrong
And when I really had to focus:
Paul Collier - Various Pieces
Piano Music from Best Romantic Classical WavesDVDcom: Relax Music & Nature Sounds Videos
Welcome to Thanksgiving in 2020 where many of us will be spending time at home, alone. When I write alone I mean likely in a small family gathering as opposed to what many of us are used to during this start to holiday season.
2020 has been a weird year for sure. Between it being an election year, a divisive climate in general, and then a pandemic that has worn all of us down, it's been a LONG year.
Instead of dwelling on all of these things, I will simply wish all of you a good day tomorrow. If you are looking for anything new to read, I have a promotion running through the weekend for free Kindle copies of many of my books.
For non-readers or people not in the mood to read, get started on those holiday movies. I know I bought a few today. Love Actually is on the books for tonight.
Happy Turkey Time or in my case Shepherd's Pie :)
I crossed the 50,000 word marker today during my afternoon writing session. I wasn't sure if I was actually going to make it today because there was a difficult scene this morning that was extra emotional. This happens occasionally in the writing process. Characters take the author in different directions and the next thing you know, for better of worse the highs and lows of a character's journey can be taxing even to the creator of the piece.
Overall though it was a productive week. At school I had parent conferences on Tuesday and Thursday which made me have to be extra creative with finding adequate time to write. My weekday writing time is typically after my afternoon workout and dinner. I have tried to set aside 90 minutes a day. Originally it was 60 minutes, but I found that I needed to give myself more time because I am editing as I go through the writing process. Some days I have to go back and read over the previous day's work. Or I have to pull out the other books in the Luza series to make sure I'm staying true to the world, the characters, and what they can and cannot do.
Again the writing process is going well. I think a first draft will be finished by next weekend. Enjoy your Thanksgiving and be safe!
The writing process never ceases to amaze me. I typically start off slow and then as the characters come alive, everything speeds up. That has been true again with the latest book. As I write this quick update I'm around 34,000 words. I'm pretty confident that either next Saturday or Sunday I'll be over 50,000 words which in itself will meet the NaNoWriMo challenge.
I'm not sure how long this book will be but I think the first draft will end up somewhere around 60,000 words, maybe 65000. Usually at this stage of the book I can see the progression of the story. I certainly know where the characters are going. It appears this book will lead into another. Maybe if all goes well, a third book too which would meet my goal of a 7 book Luza series.
More to come next week.
As many are already aware I am in the middle of the National Novel Writing Month challenge. If you want the latest update on that feel free to watch the video below.
I will be the first to admit I go out of my way to do things differently. That's not meant to be defiant. I just like to do things on my terms and not be pressured or forced to do anything that I don't find comfortable. For several years I have had students ask me if I was participating in National Novel Writing Month. Sometimes I say I am and other's not so much, only because I'm a streaky writer. When I'm in a groove if it happens to be November, then I'm writing in November.
Granted, it's not like I haven't written a novel before so participating in this challenge is not newsworthy on that regard. In fact once I get going the entire first draft for all of my books have been completed in a matter of weeks, usually 2.5-3. The more I write, the more I feel pulled to get the words out and to craft the story as fast as possible. This year, I will be participating in National Novel Writing Month because I just finished my 90k word memoir on Brindisi and feel like getting some fiction done before the holidays.
Knowing this I thought if you are a writer and are also doing this challenge, feel free to add me as a buddy on nanowrimo.org/ I'm jfkwrites which should come as a real shocker :) I just setup my profile today.
On a different note, expect to see some changes to the book page of the website over the next few weeks. I feel inspired to update more parts of jfkwrites.com. Likewise, because Winnie asked me, I have taken more interest in my Youtube page and have added that link as well to the right under my photo. If you click on the icon you'll find a new video with footage of my writing space. I hope to get more videos made sharing my writing process over the next few weeks. Perhaps I'll even video blog about my National Novel Writing Month experience.
That's it for the weekly update. I hope this month concludes on a high note for you and that November comes in with a smile.
Ciao for now.
In August of 2016 I found myself as an expat, working and living on the heel of the boot. Italy was an eye opener in many ways. I expected it to be similar to the United States, yet "cooler and more hip," knowing many friends and family who had traveled to Rome, Florence, and to Venice. There is a glaring difference between those popular spots and to the region I lived. Granted a Northern Italian might dispute my assessment but I found Puglia to be more vibrant and beautiful and the people friendlier. Less developed than the industrialized and commercial heavy northern regions, in my area of Brindisi people managed and thrived on community, family, and living life to the absolute fullest. Pleasure was and is put before work, especially in the summer months while food is considered the ultimate unifier.
After my teaching assignment ended, I returned to the States for good in June of 2018. For over two years I thought about writing on my travels, but not until the last month did I finally take that leap. I'm happy to report that I finished the first draft today. It's over 90000 words or around 305 pages. I'll share more about this non fiction piece in the weeks and months ahead. There's going to be a major edit job as I dictated the entire book over the last three weeks. As I read over parts, let's just say my dictation was not 100% word for word transferred. At least the foundation is in place.
Still, I think we can expect to see a book cover before Christmas and who knows a release in early 2021 looks promising, that is of course unless my new pandemic novel doesn't take priority.
I find it funny that for months I wrote nothing. If we don't count the occasional obligatory blog, after I returned from Italy in summer of 2018, I have not consistently written. There was a period of five months where I journaled to at least rationalize that I still possessed the traits of a writer. Then my computer broke and the motivation was all but exhausted.
Several students reached out to check on my progress over the last two years. Some were looking for the next book in the Luza series and others just wanted to read whatever I had started or finished. Writing is a finicky thing for me. I go in spurts. Yes I have read how some will find time to write daily. They set a goal of a page or three, or there is a set word count where the writer won't do anything else until that is met. I have tried that with some success, but I have also found that I don't like to force creativity. I know when I'm forcing the issue because the words don't flow.
This isn't writer's block. I can force myself to write on any topics at any time. Still there is a difference between good writing and well writing that's not worth sharing. Granted not every part of a story is going to be in the flow if you will, but more often than not when I get into a grove, that's exactly what happens. The last week has been more in that vein. I'm writing daily. Sometimes I write 5 pages and others 20. Wanting to enjoy the moment, I even cut myself off after an hour or 90 minutes, so I don't exhaust my energy and this wonderous phase. I won't force this process because in the end I want there to be something I can share, not rubbish that sits in a folder and lies in permanent writing purgatory.
When I am in this groove, I see story ideas everywhere. Out for a drive this afternoon, I took pictures of different scenes that will likely show up in a follow up piece once I'm done with my Brindisi book. Here are some of the photos for you to examine for yourself. Do you have any ideas or story you want to share?