What you are


everal thoughts passed through my mind when I turned 81 on October 19. One was what Morris Massey said in the 1970s. “What you are is where you were when.” Massey implies that that a person’s basic personality is set before the age of ten. Was mine?

My novel, An Odyssey of Illusions, about Levi Robert Reising and the four years that set his personality and possible future is pure fiction, pure truth, and a combination of both. Was the truth of those years my true formative years or did they start after I was ten?

At ten, I was the oldest of seven kids, and not ready to assume the role of ‘man of the house’. My father’s life during our early years is a matter of record – yes, he had one, and rather lengthy. That was before I was ten. So, are Massey’s words still true? Although some of his activities and emotions parallel mine, I am not Levi and Levi is not me.

The two and a half years we spent in Van Hook, ND, Oatville in the book, was where I first started to realize that children and adults, in the same circumstances reacted and behaved differently. One reviewer said, “I find An Odyssey of Illusions to be a powerful read… What a reminder of the minds and thoughts and understandings of the 6 to 10-year-old… Life can be so riddled with half-truths, not even close to the truth, exactly truths and mysteries of adults…”

My related thought is – should I republish the novel? My only concern is that it has some social issues of the times that might be disturbing to readers not ready to accept history as history. Levi’s approach to the issues is as seen from his view, not the adults around him. And, An Odyssey of Illusions doesn’t have unjustifiable violence, vile language, or sexual content.
Several readers said my ending made a sequel necessary. One said, “It was not a “feel good” story, but a story of real life, for so many people of that era, and even today for that matter. Seeing the world through the eyes and mind of young boy, trying to make sense of his world that is often turned upside down by constant change and the selfish /harmful decisions of his father, is thought provoking. The ending begs a sequel…

While my current novella is in the review stage of a publisher, I think I know what I should do.

Writing Between the Lines

Two stories in my head and a project to finish face me in the morning, then I see the leaves that have started turning red, yellow and brown. Only one cucumber and a few carrots wait in the garden and the grapes and pears are gone.

A few days of good weather is predicted before daylight shrinks to the hibernal solstice and the rainy season starts. It’s time to ready for winter. Those stories I’ve started change in my mind as I ready the foam blocks for the crawl space and roll up the hoses. There’s a loose deadline for the writing project, but few of us enjoy cramming a few days before our commitment is expected.

The furnace filter is changed and sun baked foam wrap around the AC pipes has been replaced. My thought about a character in one story could not be recalled from when I was on the ladder changing the filter. Perhaps it will represent itself when I clean the gutters.

A good time to have the tires rotated and get new wiper blades is before the rush for studded tires and chains. The process takes two people if one chooses the pickup and return option. I’ve taken the laptop to the tire shop in the past, but it’s hard to concentrate while listening for the mechanic’s it’s finished call.

However, I’m not whining between the lines – I’m blessed to have things that need attention.

Don’t fret Calvin, or you at the doughnut shop. I’ll get back to telling your stories. And the advice I took, it’ll be documented too.

Poor Hollywood

Flakes of wild fire ash blown out of the Columbia Gorge are falling on our lawns like the first dry snow flurry of winter as I glance at a newspaper article about the plight of Hollywood.

Poor Hollywood! Its movie industry grossed less than $4-billion during the summer season. Poor, poor Hollywood!

Economic, personal, emotional, and other losses from flooding in the Gulf Coast and, wild fire damage in the west certainly didn’t take someone’s focus away from poor Hollywood. Now there’s the pending category-4 hurricane moving to impact the East Coast or make a second in the season slam to the Gulf. But there’s more! Will there be another Pork Chop Hill?

Well, don’t worry Hollywood, your writers are already busy with stories for your next batch of based on true events movies.

Based on true events, there’s a high probability that poor Hollywood will make a miraculous recovery far faster than those impacted by the true events fictionalized there.

Just say’n!


I was reading a blog about getting novellas vs. novels published. I’d rather not quote, and the truth is, I can’t find the blog right now. However, the blogger’s advice was – forget your novella until you become a popular, published author, then your faithful novel readers will rush to buy your novella.

The second part of that blogger’s advice was to expand the novella to novel length so agents would be more likely to consider representing the story. So, I considered that.

But how should I expand, “Camellia, a redhead dressed in a business formal, tan suit, was being served wine by a Downton Abby demeanored attendant.” Should I say, “Camellia, a redhead dressed in a business formal, tan suit, blushed to nearly the color of her hair and soles of her Christian Louboutin Pigalle Patent Leather Red Sole pumps as she was being served chilled French red wine by a Downton Abby demeanored flight attendant,” instead?

That added 26 words! But did the addition add to the real nature of Camellia’s character in the story? Changing a clue to her persona in one place would require matching all other descriptions of her in the story.

How many ‘stretch the sentences’ could be done to expand the story from 26,000 words to a 60,000-word novel?

How about this one: “Pitch, yaw, and roll along with the foul smell of crankcase oil, and diesel smoke contorted my stomach like the onset of food poisoning.” Would this be more effective? “Pitch, yaw, and roll along with the foul smell of high-sulphur crankcase oil, and thick diesel smoke contorted my stomach like the onset of bacteria, virus, or parasite caused food poisoning which seemed about to result in upchucking or soiling myself.”

Seventeen words added, but was the meaning changed? TMI, I’d say. Is it my job to give unnecessary details to just expand the word count? I think not.

Instead of, “And, there was always the ever-looming need-to-know (n-t-k) issue,” I could stretch the sentence to, “And, there was always the ever-looming need-to-know (n-t-k) issue, so as a resultant implication, the incorporation of additional mission constraints, necessitates that urgent consideration be applied to any discrete configuration mode of documentation or other medium as deemed necessary for knowledge of mission requirements not be available to those not involved.”

In that case, I might just as well say the added 42 words are large male bovine droppings instead of just BS.

Enough already! I’m sticking with the novella word count range for New Film Noir. However, the August 21, solar eclipse hasn’t happened yet, so I can’t quite finish. Thus, there may or may not be a few more words in my NOVELLA.

How Near is Nearly

In a previous post, I talked about not being able to finish as a form of writer’s block. “There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ve discovered my most serious writer’s block – finishing what I’ve started.”

I took John Grisham’s advice and wrote the ending to my current novella New Film Noir, and set the protagonist’s dairy ending date for my nearly ending the story. My intention is to have the first draft completed at his last entry date, August 21, 2017. With last chapter basically written, I have just a month to fill in some transitions.

So, what could get in the way now, or what will I invent for interference.  I’ve had some road blocks not related to writer’s block, but managed to get around them. The end is near, I’m nearly done.

Not finishing this project would be very disappointing and a waste of the effort I made to write one-eyed after two rounds of cataract surgery. Then there was the big distraction – all of the what ifs related to discovery of the tangerine-size malignant tumor in my gut.

But, there’s the blessing and grace of early discovery, resolution by surgery only, and restored energy. Wasting such a blessing, would be even more disappointing, yea devastating.

Nearly is no longer near, it is here.