Category Archives: Writing

Update: Writing, Writing About Writing, and More Writing

MAY IS OVER ALREADY, and it’s been quite a month in the RBT world. Much has happened, and I’ll share it all here at some point. But for now, let me bring y’all up to date on the activity that’s taken up the majority of my time this year. And no, it isn’t running!

No, it’s true!

The main reason I haven’t posted much here is that I’ve been busy writing. My debut novel, Keeping the Faith, has been professionally critiqued and deemed worthy of publishing. Hooray! But as any author knows, the book itself is just the start of the process. Now comes the marketing to agents part.

A novel submission package generally consists of a query letter (pitch to the agent), a short synopsis (a brief summary of the book), and the first couple of chapters. The chapters are done, so that part’s easy. But it’s amazing how much work it takes to write a good two-page synopsis and one-page query letter. You try boiling down 160,000 words of prose (my novel’s length) into 1,000, or 500, and in a way that convinces potential agents that I’ve written the Great American Novel. When I get it right, I’ll share some details here.

Then comes finding agents that request submissions that match the book’s genre or category. In my case, this is New Adult, with the protagonist and the bulk of the readership, being roughly college age to early thirties. There are searchable database of agents out there, and I’ve begun going through them.

And then there’s what I call the “fact checking” phase, which is also what I’m doing right now. The novel includes a lacrosse game and a rowing championship race. As I’ve never played lacrosse or crewed, I need help getting the terms correct and the action sequences credible. Fortunately, I have some people helping me there.

And then there’s the STEM part. Marcus, my main character, is pursuing a major in civil engineering, and is living with a retired math professor. The Riemann Hypothesis, a famous unproved math conjecture, plays an important part in the book. So there’s all that to get right as well. (Any readers who have expertise here, please let me know ASAP.)

Regardless of outcome, this has been quite a learning process. And as long as I remember that, I can enjoy the adventure in progress. Maybe I’ll even write a book about it!

More to follow in future posts!

What’s Up? Glad You Asked! Two Big Announcements

Wow, things are going hot and heavy in my world in December. Along with celebrating birthday number 59, I have a big accomplishment and a timely opportunity to announce to my readers and friends.

Without further ado, here goes!

Announcement #1: I Done Wrote a Novel!

This year with my zero waste business coming to a screeching halt, I decided to pick up a novel I had started some years ago and put aside when life got busy, as it does. I’m pleased to announce that I have completed the first draft!

The novel is currently titled Keeping The Faith. Its main character is Marcus, 22, who is planning to return to college following the death of his father. Returning home from the memorial service, he discovers he has a third grandfather, who would like very much to meet him. Adventure ensues.

The book is “new adult” fiction, meaning it’s targeted toward readers 18-30 years of age. Its main themes are coming of age and struggling with faith. Its tone is meant to be positive and forward-looking – this is not an angst-ridden sufferfest. It contains profanity, drug use (pot), and sexual situations (oh, yeah), so it’s not for younger readers except with parental permission.

As I begin a comprehensive rewrite, I’m looking for a few good people to read the first few chapters and let me know if it’s something they would continue reading. I’m also interested in thoughts on the authenticity of the voices of the characters.

In addition, I need fact-checkers and opinions based on personal experience for the following:

  • Someone who’s been part of a Civil War reenactment (preferably more than one)
  • Someone who’s rowed crew in college. Someone familiar with the NIRC would be best, but not required.
  • A few students who are attending, or who recently attended, a small college

If you are so inclined to help me out here, you can email me at jeff (at) runbikethrow (dot) net.

Announcement #2: Get a Free New Actually Published Book!

My race director friend Randy Step, owner of RF Events, has a new book out just in time for New Year’s. It’s called Get Your Butt Out the Door and is a set of 365 motivational quotes to help you get out and do what’s gotta be done. It’s a “runner’s companion” type of book, so it’s mainly meant for you, the runner, or a runner in your life.

As with so many small businesses, it’s been a rough year for RF Events, and every little bit helps. So I’m supporting them by offering to gift up to five people with a copy of this book. It will come directly from Amazon, and will arrive before Xmas if you act soon.

Would you like a copy, or do you know someone you think would benefit? To take advantage, you can PM me or send an email to jeff (at) runbikethrow (dot) net, with the address you’d like it shipped to.

That’s all for now. But it’s not all that’s going on in my life. More to follow. Stay tuned!

The Write Stuff

IT’S TIME TO MAKE one of those “put up or shut up” moves. And ’tis the season to do so, after all.

I began this 2011 with the goal of sharing my journey to my first marathon and from there to my “year of being 50” celebrations, including a 600-mile bike trip and my first 50K ultra, among other challenges.

Like finishing this race (2016).

For eight years now I’ve continued to write about my adventures, mainly in athletics. But I haven’t shared much about my other writing, which includes fiction, essays, and technical papers. With everything else going on, including starting and running my own company, some things had to be set aside. And creative writing just for the sake of creative writing has been one of those things.

It’s a poor excuse. And it must end.

I’ve enjoyed writing since I was very young. In elementary school, my adventures of a police detective and his faithful St. Bernard were considered good enough to read to my entire class. And over the years I’ve written many short stories, worked on some ideas for novels, and even made some feeble attempts at poetry. I’ve also attended several writing seminars and been part of a writers group. It’s been fun, but always a sideshow to the rest of my life. In one of my very first posts on this blog, I confess to this. Here’s a link to it:  The Hard Work

Being part of a writers group helped me write more regularly, but it wasn’t enough.

I daydream about getting that work out to a wider audience, or even pursuing (yet another) career as a writer. That takes time and effort. And above all, having a writing routine. Among the “keys to success” of prolific writers is that they write on a regular basis. Stephen King writes every day. With no distractions or excuses allowed.

And so while I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, I’m going to make one for 2020. And that is to find out if I really want to finish those stories and novels, and do my best to get them read by others. From ultrarunning and Aikido training, I know I possess the discipline to accomplish anything I really want to do. It’s time for me to decide if creative writing is one of them.

“If you want to be a writer, write.” – Epictetus (*)

And if it ends up that is not? Then at least I will know that. But even if I end up going in other directions, my athletic and other adventures will definitely continue. As will my dedication to share them with you in this blog. Thanks again to all of you for finding the time to include me in your life.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from my family to yours.

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(*) I suppose I should mention that, like Socrates and many other famous teachers (including the one whose birth we celebrate this week), Epictetus never actually wrote anything down. We are fortunate enough to have some of his teachings thanks to his students. (Then again, Epictetus never said he wanted to be a writer.)

A Post from the Cave

Yesterday I was innocently working from home when my cell phone rang. The caller ID read “UNAVAILABLE” so I should have known better. But just in case it was someone from the office, I picked up and said hello.

“Hello?” a female voice replied. Then after a moment, “I’m so sorry – I was adjusting my headset! Anyway, I’m calling because you recently stayed at one of our resorts, and we have this offer . . .”

picard-face-palm

Oh, Lord. I let her pitch her absolutely fabulous offer, until she wanted to ask me a few questions. Then I said, “I suppose there’s a timeshare presentation involved in this?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you,” she replied. “Can I ask you a few questions?” I repeated my timeshare suspicion. “Can I ask you a few questions?” she said again.

I hung up. She was a robot, pre-screening before handing me off to a closer. But I have to admit I was fooled for a bit. They are getting better at this. Robot callers even deny they’re robots. Read an example here.

No, totes true dude, I'm a human - beep beep beep - HA HA HA HA- How about them Cubs?

No, totes truly dude, I’m a human – beep beep beep – HA HA HA HA- How about them Cubs?

Which got me thinking (hey, it’s better than working, right?) about the new waves of technology that make virtual reality closer to “real” reality. Video games use the moves of real athletes who were wired up just for that purpose. An increasing number of movies are either partly, or completely, CGI generated. And new VR headsets are coming that will let the wearer participate in some incredible experiences. Say, simulating a mountain bike adventure on your stationary bike, riding a roller coaster from your couch, or even flying like a bird. Click here for details.

I find a kind of odd symmetry here with what else is going on in the world. With the country’s future and the world’s future more uncertain that ever, it’s natural, I suppose, for the visual and tactile boundaries between fantasy and reality to blur as well. How long before we simply sit in chairs all day living entirely in a fantasy world? (Perhaps we are now. Plato suggested that we were.)

platos-cave

Look! I can do a bunny rabbit!

But as we approach our country’s annual day of gratitude and overeating, there are a few things I can be certain of, and count on:

  • I have the love of my family and can count on them supporting me no matter what, and that I would do the same for them.
  • I can count on Skip and the Body Specs crew mashing me into the floor so I can get back up stronger than ever.
  • I can count on pain, blisters, and bruises from running marathons and trail ultramarathons, and that I will treasure each one anyway.
  • Our cats will continue walking on the books we’re trying to read, nagging for food when I’m trying to concentrate, and being an unending source of affection and comic relief. (Screw you and your feline hatred, The Atlantic; cats rule.)
  • I’m certain that people will continue to say to me, “So I was reading your blog the other day…” when I didn’t think they knew I had a blog.

And finally, I’m certain that America will remain the land of the free and the home of the brave, as long as we remain brave enough to stand for what’s right. Our freedom was too hard earned to take for granted or let others try to diminish or take away.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!