Monday, July 29, 2013

Thought Provoking Question on Local Brewery's Billboard

I'm going to leave this up for you to decide, but I think I may have just been published. It's not a novel or a short story—I'm not even sure you could call it flash fiction (although it has to be something). 

I just had my thought provoking question selected to be printed on a local brewery's billboard, and yesterday—a simple day where I was just trying to complete a simple task (buying a chicken breast)—I came across my writing published high in the sky for all to read. 

Here it is . . .

(I got a lot of odd stares as I spent a while across the street taking pictures of this sign)
So, a little background info: Summit is a popular local brewery in St. Paul that's been around for a little over 25 years. They have an ad campaign that follows this formula: Ask a thought provoking question—then Get to the Bottom of It over some nice brews. On their website you can make your own suggestions for questions that have confounded mankind for millennia and then they choose a few to print on billboards throughout the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul, if you're not from around here). 

I spent a long while on their website suggesting thoughts that have left me flabbergasted, and this is the one they chose. I mean, if you think about it (not that you really want to), well . . . how is it possible? You know, with all the quills and . . . never mind. You get the idea. 

Now, after looking like an idiot standing across the street taking a picture of my provocative billboard, I was left with this asking in my mind: does this count as my first time being published? Thoughts? I have a short story accepted for publication, but it's not yet been published.

So, what do you think? Let's get to the bottom of it!

Until next time,


P.S. Here's a cool picture of a leaf I took a few days ago:

(Nice to see the individual cells for a change!)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

First Time in AZ

(Photo from the hotel room. Thirty second exposure.)

Okay, so this is my second time to Arizona, but the first time I never left the airport so that doesn't really count. 

My wife had a conference for her work in Tucson, and I was lucky enough to tag along. Having no work myself, I spent a large chunk of time working on the reverse outline of my book (reverse outline = outlining a finished draft). I finished a little over a third of the book, and so far I'm glad with what I've written. The reverse outline process has helped a lot in figuring out the pace of the novel as well as which chapters might be better consolidated, separated, or deleted altogether. 

The biggest help, I think, is the pacing. After each chapter, I write what the primary purpose was (action, background info, processing what just happened, etc)—this really helps prevent four chapters of Action-Action-Action-Action or Background info-Background info-Background info. 

I know the idea of outlining a book that's already written may sound crazy or like a lot of extra work, but it's given me a lot of confidence in what I've written. It is a decent amount of work, but I think it's worth it. 

(I had my most recent draft on my Nook, and I took notes in my sweet Ironman 2 notebook)

One of the things I realized as I was reading the book was that I never gave myself any credit for actually finishing a novel. Once I finished, I just went straight to editing and working on other short stories. Writing a book is something I've always wanted to do, and I've done it. And I'm a little bit proud—even if nothing more comes from the book . . . but hopefully something does!

While in Arizona, we also did some sightseeing. Here are a few photos. 

(Pano at the Grand Canyon. You may want to enlarge this by clicking!)

(Annie being adventurous on Tucson Mountain.)

(Annie and me at the Grand Canyon)

I'm back in Minnesota now, and it's hard to find time between my job to work on the novel. I'm hoping to finish the reverse outline by the end of July, as well as finish the slight revisions I'm noting along the way.



Friday, July 5, 2013

Happy 4th of July Weekend!

This is a short post, and it's a bit tardy. 

Anyway, Happy 4th of July . . . Weekend! 

Here are a few shots of the fireworks in St. Paul, MN.

My wife and I watched the fireworks from the Smith Street Bridge, also known as "The High Bridge."

So that's all for now, hopefully everyone is getting some time to read and write (if that's what you're into!). 


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane review, and some other things.

I actually finished this book a while ago, but things, as they always are, are a little hectic. Anyway, here's my review along with some more updates. 

I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane in two sittings in two days. It's not a terribly long book, but still, that alone is a sign of how much I enjoyed the novel. I'm not going to give any spoilers, but there are some in the link I post below to Gaiman's NPR interview. 

It reads almost like a kids tale, and that's because it follows the life of a seven year old through some fantastical events. But it's not a children's book (In an interview with NPR, Gaiman said one of the primary reasons this book is a book geared for adults is because it isn't about hope, but instead helplessness). 

This book could be described as a folk tale for adults—something Gaiman is well known for and I am happy to read more of. One of the things I like most about this work is Neil's ability to subtly write about the abnormal. When something strange or unusual occurs, it's done in such a way that you often don't realize you've stepped into the fantastical side of fiction—much like when a song gets stuck in your head that, as you think of it, you realize was playing in the background at the grocery store. 

Also, the book has depth, but I have a hard time explaining that quality. There were many moments when I would stop and think I just understood something deeper, only to find that I can't recall what it was I just thought I understood.  When I try to reread it to again experience that emotion, I discover something new altogether. And any book that creates this kind of reading experience is one I consider worth reading. 

If you're curious, I felt that, in comparison to Gaiman's other work, this novel is somewhat like The Graveyard Book, and especially like his short story When We Went to See the End of the World by Dawnie Morningside, Age 11 1/4, which is in his anthology of short stories called Smoke and Mirrors. Both are excellent. 

* * *

Those stars should be centered, but I'm lazy. It's a page break. 

Anyway, as for what I've been up to as of late . . . I have been re-reading my book, working on the reverse outline process (which is where you outline your finished draft to get an idea of what's working and what isn't) while taking into consideration my wife's suggestions. 

Also, I recently went backpacking with my brother. While I didn't get any writing done, I always find myself creatively stimulated after traveling to the north woods of Minnesota. Many of my stories have to do with mystical occurrences in the woods, and these forests are often what I'm thinking of as I write. Here are a few photos from our trip. 

(My tent at our campsite. From where I'm taking the picture, my heels are in the lake.)

(This is the lake we camped at, Bear Lake.)

(Some night photography on cliffs.)

(More night photography, this time with my brother and I as ghosts.)

(The tent in the morning.)

(My brother (left) and I on an overlook in the middle of nowhere in Northern Minnesota.)

(Do I look much bigger than my brother in this shot?)

(Self Portrait. You can see a sliver of Lake Superior to the right of my left ear.)

(Minnesota's state bird—the Loon.)

(This is the cliff where we took our night shots.)

(Sunset at our campsite—this is two shots merged together, if you're wondering.)
So that's all I've got for now. Hopefully by my next post I'll be further along in finishing the third draft/reverse outline of my novel. 

Until then, have a happy Fourth of July!