Do you like to read?
If you’re like I am, a good book, be it paper or e-book, and a glass of wine on a quiet evening is something pretty close to paradise. Last year saw me reading more than usual because what else could I do? This year is different because, along with my reading, I’m also writing. Lots. I am officially declaring myself to be an author.
First, a little backstory.
During my many years at The Day Job™, I had to do a lot of reading, proofreading, editing, and writing. All of it was material of a technical or instructional nature but went a long way in helping me develop my writing chops. And to quote Stephen King, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Okay. Sounds like a plan. Especially considering the source!
And while I enjoyed the “just the facts ma’am” type of reading and writing, The Great American Novel was clamoring for attention inside my soul.
I’d been doing the hunt-and-peck thing on my story since very late in 2019. Unfortunately, my characters were insubstantial, the plot shaky, and my writing was almost juvenile despite my decades of experience. I knew what I wanted, but I couldn’t quite grasp it. So I decided to read books in my genre.
And I read. A LOT!
Surprisingly, the first books I tackled were some of my old favorite classics. They are not easy reads, but they give you an idea of what “grownup” style writing is about. Those books included Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, Dune by Frank Herbert (and several of the series up to Heretics of Dune), Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell, and A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. Wonderful classics gave me what I needed before I tackled modern-day “pulp fiction” in my genre, which is romance. Hey. I’m a romantic softie at heart despite rumors to the contrary.
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. – Ernest Hemingway
I discovered several things. When you’re ready to write a genre book, specific “rules” must be followed. Actually, I will call them “suggested guidelines” or, more accurately, formulaic writing. I read about thirty books in my genre and discovered that the talents of the writers varied greatly. Some writers were enviably spectacular (Brenda Jackson, Nora Roberts), while some others needed to become up close and personal with Dictionary.com. I reviewed several of the books and recommended Grammarly.
I also discovered that even if it was very subtle, they followed the formula. And it worked! Some of my favorites were outstanding writers, and the books didn’t “read” formulaic. Hard to explain, but they read easily, just like any other random fiction. Others had shoehorned in the “must haves,” and despite a good story, often their efforts made for difficult or smh reading.
But no matter who the author was, almost all of them made an unforgivable – to me – mistake. They didn’t know crap about pairing wine and food. I mean, who pairs a Napa Cab with halibut? Amirite? Who thinks that Sauvignon Blanc works well with lamb? Apologies to my neighbors for the screaming. I can say that whatever other faults may be uncovered in my book, the wine, and food pairings are spot on. The other guys, well, I more or less wanted to nuke them from orbit. My written pairings are all spot on. It’s the only way to be sure.
I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.
I’ll let you know when my author site is up and running. The site’s not even close to being ready just yet because I have to complete some of the other tasks. Who knew. I thought that all I’d have to do is write a book, and they’d come knocking at my door.
I’m now in the later stages of editing the (almost) finished manuscript and still have to do some other legwork to prepare for publication. I’m aiming for Spring, but who knows. I decided to write my first book about stuff I know, which, along with Vegas and California being my base locations, included wine and food. Because SB and loin chops ain’t a thing.
Meanwhile, I’m ready for a glass of Pinot Noir. With duck breast and gremolata. You know. Stuff that really goes well together.
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