Tag Archives: novel

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!

Mt. Hood? Nope! Neighborhood. The Adventures of a Stay-At-Home Runner

THE BAD NEWS I SUSPECTED WAS COMING arrived a few days ago. The Mt. Hood 50, the other UTMB qualifying race I’d signed up for, has been cancelled.

It’s a July race, so I was holding out hope. But Oregon has extended its group restrictions through September, so that was that. It’s not such a bad thing, though. It meant either driving across the country and back, or risking a plane flight, something my wife was definitely NOT in favor of.

So I’m now officially committed to no races at all. I’m a stay-at-home runner for the foreseeable future, and my tales of adventure will be confined to my house and my neighborhood.

I know what you’re thinking. What kind of adventures could a stay-at-home runner possibly have? Well, here we go.

Virtually as Good

The running event companies may not be doing actual races, but virtual races are going strong. For a lot of people they are better than nothing, and they like the “bling” that comes with them. I don’t need more T-shirts or medals, but if that’s what gets you out and moving, by all means go for it.

Confession time: I did one virtual race, and because of the medal. But only because it struck right at my heart. I’ve played D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) for over forty years, and this virtual 20K came with a medal shaped like the 20-sided die (the icosahedron, for you geometry geeks) which the game is famous for.

BTW, I’m still playing D&D through all this, with my regular gaming group, via the “roll20” video app instead of meeting in person. It’s nearly as good, and has saved me countless calories from binge eating at someone’s house. Something about group D&D begs for continuous eating. Less of a problem at home.

Going Streaking

RF Events, a racing company that would be going all out normally right now, is offering monthly challenges instead. May’s challenge, dubbed “50K in May” is to run at least one mile every day of the month. At the end, you’ll have at least 31 miles, which, as all trail runners know, is a 50K. Not a bad plan, and they could use the income, so I signed up. It’s a “pay what you want” challenge, with swag you could buy if you wanted to.

Some of us (ahem) far prefer to do the entire distance at once. And nothing says I can’t go out there and do a 50K run for fun. But the “run every day” part is enough of a challenge. I have never done a running streak of any meaningful kind, and I take total rest days pretty seriously. Since I decided to take on the challenge, I need to define “rest” at least for this month.

So far, so good. I’m averaging about 5-6 miles per day, with a Saturday long run as usual, and “rest days” of two miles or so. Most of it is slow and easy, but I’ve included some tempo work and hill work, too. My legs are feeling the cumulative fatigue, but that also keeps me from training too hard right now.

For those of you who don’t think this is quite enough of a challenge, I’m following a blog of someone (longruntom) who’s running 1K per number of the day. That was 1K on May 1, 2K on May 2, and so on, up to 31K on May 31. The daily distance is getting interesting for him now. Have a look at his progress (May 17), if you dare.

Ticked Off

My run club leaders continue to put out a weekly email, with suggested routes (solo) and encouragement to keep running. In a recent email, they warned us about how bad the ticks are around here, and to check carefully after a run.

I’ve seen some in our yard from time to time, but have never worried about them. Until today. I’d done some weeding in our garden beds, in blue jeans, and when I took them off a little bit ago, I found one happily attached to my calf. That was after this morning, when I removed one from my hair. How it got there is anyone’s guess. My cats profess total innocence, and perhaps I brought it in myself.

Both of them got the alcohol bath treatment, as recommended by websites everywhere.

The only good tick. . .

These little forkers are Hard. To. Kill. I even slammed a book on one (on our table) last night, and it still kept crawling along. And they can go months without food, so don’t try to starve them out, either. Alcohol or high heat is about the only thing that does the trick. So put your pillows in the dryer if you’re worried about it.

A Novel Approach

And, finally, (for now), I have been hard at work on a novel. That’s the good news. The bad news is that what takes place in it would be impossible under current circumstances. Hopefully by the time I finish it, life will have returned to a semblance of normalcy. Either that, or I’ll have to set it in 2015, or 2050.

I am now releasing the first two chapters to a select few intimates for review and feedback. Perhaps sometime soon I will expand my review audience. If you are interested in such things, drop me a private email – jeff (at) runbikethrow (dot) net, and I will keep you posted. Only if you really want to. In the meantime, thanks for reading my blog, and please stay safe out there.

Putting the P.I.E. Together

IT’S BEEN A QUIET FEW DAYS at the Fitness at 50 household, primarily because I’m spending a lot of time writing. It’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and my goal this month is a novel, from scratch, of at least 50,000 words. I’m trying for an average of 2,000 words per day, which is tough given a full-time day job, and Aikido and running in the evenings, but so far I’m close.

So what is my novel about? At this point I will say only that it is science fiction and it’s in very rough form. I spent a few days in October putting together character sketches and a plot summary, but the story itself is just sort of coming out as I write and think about the next day’s direction.

I won’t be sharing much of it for a while; the idea is to use November just to write, and not do any editing until December. That means what I’m writing now – the first draft – is very rough and full of unfinished ideas and conversations. Even the main plot has shifted a couple of times already, but that’s okay. It’s all part of the adventure.

I did find time this weekend to make a pie, at the request of my daughter, and who can turn down that kind of request? Here’s a photo of the finished pie. Can you guess what kind it is?

Give up? If you guessed it’s a custard type of pie, you are essentially correct. But I’ll bet you don’t know its featured ingredient. Here’s a photo of a slice, although I doubt it’ll be much of a hint.

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer, especially because I have no idea if anyone’s bothered to get this far in the post anyway. (Reading about writing is rather like watching golf. No, scratch that, it’s even more boring.) Anyway, along with sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and a touch of maple syrup, the featured ingredient is…well, here’s the recipe:

Apple cider vinegar? That’s right! I never would’ve thought you could make a pie featuring vinegar. And yet, the result is not sour at all – it’s sweet and tangy. Now you can definitely taste the vinegar, and it stays with you a bit, so I think I’ll play with it some more before I officially add it to The Recipes I Am Famous For. My daughter is a big fan of it, however.

P.S. The title of this post comes from an article I read online that talks about proper paragraph structure. You can read it here.