Tag Archives: Writing Lifestyle

How I wrote Kyle McDuffy, Elementary School Investigator

I haven’t been giving much love to the blog as of late. I am currently focusing on getting a first draft of my next book revised. As any writer will tell you, this is the least fun of the entire process. Painstakingly going through every sentence and tweaking, removing, reworking, reimaging is, at times, a mind-numbing process. So, why not take a little break and tell you about how I got my ideas for the stories in Kyle McDuffy, Elementary School Investigator.

I started off by reading the entire original catalog of Goosebumps books. All 62 of them. I loved them as a kid and wanted to capture that same sense of excitement, horror and mystery that made those stories memorable. I also started watching reruns of the show “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” Similar concept to Goosebumps with more of a paranormal bent. Originally, I had envisioned Kyle McDuffy as a paranormal investigation series. Once I started writing, I figured out it is much more interesting to read about the exaggeration of mundane things as can only be seen through the eyes of an elementary school kid.
So, inside my new book you will find several cases. Each case can be considered a chapter in a normal book. Each case deals with something extraordinary happening at the elementary school. For instance, the first case involves the principal’s toupee of terror. Is there really something living under his toupee, or is it just Kyle’s imagination? Or perhaps another case of Polly’s pigtails. How are they so perfect every day? And what’s up with Mrs. Micer’s voice? Could she really be a mouse turned into a human?

The first draft is finished and being revised. I look forward to sharing these great stories with you, and I hope you are excited to read them!
Stay tuned to this blog for official updates and a few sneak peeks as I edit the story.

Surface Pro 3: The Writer’s Perfect Companion

untitled

A few years ago I posted about the original Surface tablet. I praised it for its portability, slim keyboard cover, free Office and amazing battery life. I still use mine to write, surf the web and entertain my daughter. However, the device can be a bit limiting with only one kickstand option slow processor. Today I would like to introduce you to a true laptop replacement, the Surface Pro 3.

angles-better
Many angles – millions of possibilities

It all beings with a slimmer design, faster processor and 8 hours of battery life. That stuff may not be exciting to non-techies, but it is very important. It will enable you to load applications faster and work longer.

Why is this device such a great buy for writers? Where do I begin? For one, you can buy a keyboard cover to make sure you always have a fast, accurate keyboard anywhere you are. Any time inspiration hits, just flip open the Surface and get writing.
The kickstand can be positioned to any angle you need. Writing on a tabletop with a pen? Flip it all the way back. Writing at a desk with a keyboard? Position it at any angle you choose.

But those are mostly novelties. What’s the reason to sell your old laptop and get a Surface as a replacement? Glad you asked. It, of course, runs all Windows applications, including Office. You have Word with you anywhere you go. And all of those Word files can be stored in the cloud via OneDrive. When I update my latest story on my Surface, it saves automatically to the cloud. If I go home and want to continue working on the story on my desktop PC, the story is there waiting for me right where I left off.

Canvas mode. Perfect for creating.
Canvas mode. Perfect for creating.

Not only will you have access to 6GB of free cloud storage with OneDrive so you can work on your documents and have them sync seamlessly between your PCs,  there is also a USB port and MicroSD slot on the Surface. Let’s say you are out at a conference somewhere and there doesn’t happen to be Wi-Fi. All you have to do is carry your documents with you on a USB Memory Stick, external hard drive, or MicroSD card and you are ready to go. Or, of course, store them directly on the device itself.

Write directly on the screen. Send edits and comments in your own handwriting!
Write directly on the screen. Send edits and comments in your own handwriting!

For those who like to write by hand, the Surface Pro 3 also comes with a special pen. This digital pen will allow you to instantly write on the go. Just simply double click the top of the pen (just like a real life retractable pen) and your Surface will wake up and launch OneNote. What else can you do with this pen? Well, there’s Photoshop, Paint, etc. You can also write directly into Word or OneNote and it will convert to digital text. The perfect compromise for those who still wish to write by hand! You can also write directly on Word documents for editing, proofing, etc. and those notes will be viewable by any other person an any PC. Cool stuff!

The Surface Pro 3 is the perfect device to travel with you to the next writers convention. Leave your bulky laptop at home and get just as much work done in an even faster time with your Surface.

Surface Pro 3 is available for preorder at the Microsoft Store.

Sneak peek of my newest story

Berea_Elementary_School,_Montgomery,_NY

I am currently working on two projects at the same time. It’s not something I’ve really tried in the past but, I love these stories too much to hold one of them back. Today I will be sharing a short section from Kyle McDuffy: Elementary School Paranormal Investigator. Enjoy!

Will and I sat next to the jungle gym, our eyes moving back and forth over the playground. All the other kids were laughing and playing kickball and having a great time. They didn’t know what was going on right under their noses. Where was Cindy? Recess was almost over and there was no sign of her. “Where do you think she is?” Will asked. “I wish I knew. She must still be in Principal Adams’ office,” I said. “Man, I hope she’s okay. I knew we would get in twouble,” Will said. The bell rang to end recess, and Will and I walked back to the dark halls. Cindy was usually in my third period. I was hoping she would show up, but the class came and went with no sign of her. I could barely focus on the jumble of plus signs and long division. My first investigation was on course to go horribly wrong. What would I tell Cindy’s parents if she got kidnapped by whatever was living under Principal Adams’ toupee?

 

 

The Holidays: To Break or not to Break?

The easiest part of the holidays is taking time off and lounging in front of the television. With the little downtime I get these days, sitting in front of the television with my feet up is very enticing, indeed. Of course, there’s always that neglected story I started writing and let slip away. And then the guilt starts seeping in. You should be writing and creating rather than sitting here watching the 80th episode in a row of House Hunters. And so goes the dilemma.

While it is easier to just kick back and relax over the next month or so, I have decided to try a new tactic this year, and I encourage others who are also writers to do the same. Ay time I think about writing while I am in front of the TV or otherwise relaxing, I will get up, go to my computer and write a few sentences. It can be two sentences. Five. Eight. Whatever it takes to end a dialogue exchange, thought, scene etc. This way I am still writing and it only has to take a few moments of my time. Come the new year, I won’t be sitting there staring at a manuscript I haven’t touched since November.

So don’t give up, you can do it, live long and prosper, and all that jazz.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

My Goals

New Year’s resolutions. Is it too early to start? I don’t think so! It is never to early to commit (or recommit) to goals. So, today I will present to you my goals for this web site and for myself.

Web site goals:
Bring safe, family friendly entertainment options to my readers through Fantastic Adventures in Family Entertainment. I want to create place where parents can come to look for engaging, safe content to share with their families.
Updates at least twice a week.
Better marketing tools for my books.
Develop an intuitive web site layout so readers can find easily find content.
Most importantly have fun blogging!

Personal goals:
Finish first draft of Kyle McDuffy, Elementary School Investigator by February.
Continue marketing Dead Skin Dave, the Pirate!
Rework Eliza the Witch and the Halloween that Almost Wasn’t so that I’m interested in writing it again.
Aim for 1,000 words a day – weekends included 🙂
Be a great husband and father.
Become a part of the local theatre community with later plans for world domination.

Observations at a 20 Minute Intermission

It is said that writers are great observers of the nuances of life. The following is what I observed at a 20 minute intermission at a musical theatre production. It gives a great insight into the little details that make characters in novels relatable.

Observation: About 1,000 people. Mostly seniors and middle aged. Intermission begins, most everyone stands up.

Observation: About 450 smartphone screen light up.
Observation B: 90% iPhone, 8% Galaxy, 2% other.

Observation: Family of four. Mom playing Words with Friends on iPhone. Dad checking e-mails on Android phone. Youngest daughter playing game on Galaxy smartphone. Oldest daughter helping mom with Words with Friends. Minor interaction between mother / daughter. Father finishes e-mail checking, watches youngest daughter playing game. Mutters something.

Observation: Man next to me is 40s, black hair brown eyes. Pulls out smartphone at beginning of intermission. Stares into screen for the entire 20 minutes His wife doesn’t see to care.

Observation: Elderly man wearing white fedora and gray flannel suit. He is walking a few rows down from me. He pauses, talk to to a group of friends about the play, hugs them, and walks away. The gait in his walk suggests he has trouble with is right knee. His infectious smile spreads to all whom he speaks to.

Observation: A heavyset middle aged woman stands to my right, talking with her friends about the production. She has blonde hair (dyed), a red and black flower print dress, ad gold, dangling earrings. She enjoyed the movie, but thinks this particular production blows it out of the water.

Observation: Tech crew takes a break behind me. Mostly wasting time on a smartphone.

Observation: Orchestra reenters the pit about 15 minutes into intermission. Begins warming up. Conductor looks tired.

Observation: Young man, late teens or early twenties, looks like a woman from far away. His red hair is down the the small of his back and so curly that it extends a good six inches on all sides.

Observation: Volunteer ushers seem to be following the command of one elderly volunteer. Looks like she takes this thing very seriously. It’s probably her only hobby and now that her husband is dead, she devotes her entire life to it. Or so it seems. Being a volunteer usher at this theatre would not be a fun experience.

 

Amazon helps self-publishers once again with Kindle MatchBook

Sales not going the way you expected? Amazon has launched a new program to help your e-book sales grow.
In short, it is a way for readers to purchase your physical book and get the e-book at a discounted rate. Now your readers have cheaper access to both a physical copy and an e-book of your latest novel for one low price.
Read all about it here: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=AVJCUBZXDNUM4&ref_=pe_452610_32244650