As A Man, I’d Just Like To Say This

We’re told nowadays male novelists need to pretend to be women. Or we hear they need at least for readers not to know they are men. (Meaning their first name should not reveal their sex.) Or we’re informed only women can really write women characters women will read.

Screen capture of the Guardian.
Screen capture of the Guardian.

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Getting To Know Each Other

I got some proofing done over the weekend as hoped, but didn’t get close to finishing the manuscript. I discovered with the first two novels that proofing always takes longer than I think it will. It seems Distances will follow the same path.

As I wrote yesterday, I use the iPad to “read” the book aloud and I follow wearing my headphones. To do so, I upload a .pdf of the novel onto the Kindle app. While I’m listening, as well as reading along myself, I mark up necessary corrections too.

Listening to the book being read helped me catch – just yesterday – at least half a dozen overlooked words, such as “the,” “an,” and “but”; they are the sort of words you may accidentally omit when writing, but which your eye doesn’t necessarily spot as missing when you proofread. Ah, but you definitely HEAR when they are missing: their absence is jarring to the ear.

It’s a new writing universe.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of people in front of a store.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of people in front of a store.

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Reading As A Reader

I’m trying to have another light day. It’s the weekend. And it’s Sunday:

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a man sleeping in a hammock.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a man sleeping in a hammock.

However, yesterday I started giving Distances a read thru. I plan to continue today. It’s now nearly 90,000 words and maddeningly close to being completed and read in full by someone other than myself.

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Sneak Peek: Our Grandparents

If you are partly “Italian-American” (as I am), and that ancestry stems from you being a product of immigrants who arrived in the U.S. between about 1870-1914 (as I am), it’s likely you grew up with a complicated relationship with Italy.

My maternal great-grandparents were all Italian immigrants. My grandparents were born in the U.S. Some in my mother’s U.S.-born generation were reared to be utterly indifferent to Italy.

Free Stock Photo: Italian flag in blue sky.
Free Stock Photo: Italian flag in blue sky.

Perhaps World War II had an impact. Benito Mussolini had been a difficult, divisive subject in families like mine pre-war. However, after he joined the war in 1940, and particularly after he declared war on the U.S. in late 1941, he became America’s enemy who needed to be smashed and that was that.

Yesterday I realized it has now been over a month since I’ve shared any of the Distances rough draft here. I worked more on this part yesterday also, and thought as I finished that it merited a “sneak peek.” It all “happens” in “James’s” mind shortly after he has landed in Italy for the first time and is being chauffeured to a Rome hotel along with three rather familiar women.

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A Short Stories’ “Sabbatical”?

I spent a good part of yesterday with new characters “Brad” and “Clémence,” as well as with a couple of “old timers,” and filling in additional details and description in several chapters. In the process, I dropped in a couple of thousand more words at least. I became so immersed in it all, I lost track of the time.

The afternoon flew by. As I finished up, I realized again just how unwilling I am to let go of “my friends” quite yet. I’m not “done” with them by any means.

I ended up again pondering what could follow immediately after Distances. I know there will be a fourth novel eventually, and I already know its very general contours. But I’m now pretty drained mentally from writing these first three, and I suspect I will need something of a “sabbatical” to recharge.

Free Stock Photo: A pile of antique books.
Free Stock Photo: A pile of antique books.

I had been mulling over the idea of taking “six months” post-Distances and declaring, “Eh, that’ll do for now.” It seemed reasonable. After all, three novels of nearly 100,000 words each over three years is nothing to sneeze at.

By comparison, my HarperCollins published uncle has written eight novels since the early 1980s. Uh, not that I’m comparing myself to him! Even if I am there, uh…. a little bit. ;-)

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Fear Of Flying

My first flight was on the Eastern shuttle between New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Washington, D.C. I was age 9, and traveling with my grandparents. We three made the short flight to visit for a week with my uncle, aunt and cousins, who were then living in northern Virginia.

I kept that Eastern shuttle’s ticket stub for something approaching three decades after. Do you think I can find it now? Of course I can’t! (I have flown on so many airlines that are now long out of business. The list is extensive: Eastern, Pan Am, TWA, Tower Air, Air Inter. There may be others, but I can’t immediately remember them.)

You may be similar in first flying young. Others start flying much later:

Screen capture of Yahoo.
Screen capture of Yahoo.

And yet others appear likely NEVER to fly. I recall my parents not joining us for that Washington, D.C. trip. The reason given was my then three year old sister and not wanting to take her along.

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Refreshing The Background

The other day, I changed my About.me background photo for the first time in a while:

Screen capture of About.me
Screen capture of About.me

I like that site. It’s sort of an “artistic” version of LinkedIn, and I find it’s used by some interesting people. I may know you courtesy of it. [Waves.]

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For Instant Happy Woman?

While cat sitting for friends last month, I’d noticed this coaster on their dining room table. I photographed it because, being a man, I’m not entirely sure how to take this: image

And it made me chuckle. We saw them again last night; they have just moved house temporarily until they move permanently to Cambridge in August. So we got to see their “interim” place in Bath, and she had that coaster on their dining room table once more.

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“The Competition” Identified

It’s surprising to open an Amazon email and see one of your books at the top of the list among others Amazon appears to consider “similar” to it:

Screen capture of an Amazon marketing email.
Screen capture of an Amazon marketing email.

I screen grabbed as much of it as I could. Two unmistakably have “romance” in the title. I may have to “investigate” those, and others (I kept the email), to see what, err, I’m up against. ;-)

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“Because you are born on a farm….”

Emerging from “Valérie’s” car onto her parents’ Paris driveway….

Excerpt from
Excerpt from “Frontiers,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

I thought I’d share that bit from Frontiers. (You may be interested in the *note at the bottom of this post, about a line in that above.) “It” is “1995.” Not that long ago.

A Paris view. [Very old photo, by me, 1994. Look familiar? It's on the back cover of Passports.]
A Paris view. [Very old photo, by me, 1994. Look familiar? It’s on the back cover of Passports.]

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