“Don’t wait for anyone. Life doesn’t wait. Don’t become what you most fear. A wasted soul. Leap for the rope and swing towards the stars.”
John Patrick Shanley
It’s been a long time since I last posted here. A family illness, now resolving itself, absorbed time and attention. I’m working my way back.
My next book, Off-Road, is close to completion. The time away from working on it gave me a new perspective, and I am re-structuring the story. Publication date will likely be September. I’ll keep you informed.
One of the most fun aspects of writing this story has been creating and developing the characters. One of them, Lyndie Reed, is a high school junior. She’s always on the move. An avid runner, she logs many miles every day. Lyndie is inspired by one of my nieces, who recently ran the Boston Marathon twice – in the same day! She started early, ran the course backwards, and arrived at the official starting line in time to run the prescribed course with all the other runners. Fifty-two point four miles. Amazing.
Lyndie is Tessa Warren’s best friend. It’s a new friendship. Tessa has spent the last two years mourning for her brother, killed in a car crash a few months after he graduated from film school. She’s now “leaping for the rope,” beginning to step into her brother’s film shoes.
I look forward to introducing the Film Crew to you. And, with luck, the book will become a series. Talk soon.
Here’s a picture of a desert race vehicle, a class-11 VW, similar to the one featured in the upcoming “Off-Road: A Film Crew SHORT.” A rugged piece of machinery, with speeds maxing out at 75mph.
The desert tortoise features as a character and a premise in my upcoming YA short “Off-Road.” Here’s a bit of information on the tortoise. Enjoy.
The tortoise is the state reptile of both California and Nevada. It is a threatened, not endangered, species.
Defenders of Wildlife estimate, “In some areas, the number of desert tortoises has decreased by 90% due primarily to human activity. Desert tortoise declines appear to have been most severe and widespread in the Western Mojave Desert.”
The National Park Service says, “Since the reproduction rate of the desert tortoise is low, the survival of every individual tortoise is important to the continuation of the species. Many of the threats to adult desert tortoises are related to or are the direct result of human activities; please be aware of how your actions can affect tortoises.”
Here are several links to sites where you can learn more about the desert tortoise:
Defenders of Wildlife
National Park Service
California Turtle and Tortoise Club
Mojave Desert Tortoise
Four years ago I wrote a post in my Creating Story blog about seeing Ray Bradbury at a 2009 book signing in a local bookstore.
Bradbury had arrived in a wheelchair, a rumpled man with a huge shock of white hair. He filled the room with excitement.
After speaking for a few moments, he had fielded questions from his fans. Someone asked him what he thought the future held for our young generation. He sat up tall in his wheelchair, his eyes sparkling, and almost cried out, “We should go back to the moon! Go on to Mars, with the moon as a base camp. Then go on to Alpha Centauri.”
Here was a master storyteller who spent a lifetime exploring this world and the entire universe in his imagination. His voice quivered with excitement when he told us of his own recent visit to the Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena, California. The JPL scientists guided him as he drove the Mars Rover on the surface of the same planet he had visited in his imagination since The Martian Chronicles. This from a man who never had a driver’s license in all of his then almost 90 years,
This is the power of story. Travel back to the moon. Probe the vast universe.
I’m working on creating an exciting cover for the first book, “Off-Road,” in the YA series. In the meantime, here’s a picture of the camera Tessa uses in shooting the off-road desert race, the fictional Cactus 100.
She inherited the camera from her brother Ryder. He used it in his years at NYU’s film school. It’s a Panasonic HVX. The earlier version of this camera, the DVX, was popular with indie filmmakers before the explosion of digital camera choices now available.
One of the joys of writing for me is creating a community of characters. Something like putting a band together. And I can thank several writers for teaching me how to do this. Author Elizabeth George, in her Write Away, recommends developing profiles on your characters before beginning to write your story. “Story is character and not just idea.” She says of character: “Give them flaws, allow them to doubt themselves about something, see to it that they grow and change, and make certain you are putting them into conflict.”
I thank teacher and writer Josh Adell for introducing me to The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri. Says Egri, “Character is the fundamental material we are forced to work with, so we must know character as thoroughly as possible.”
Both authors recommend writing about your characters for as long as it takes to know them intimately and deeply. For me, I now have about 60,000 words and over 100 pages on character profiles. They represent three or four different stories at this point, but may all meld into one series as I progress. Some characters loom large. Others are minor, with brief descriptions so far. But all of them are distinct, individual, interesting.
My most recent – Maddy Dela Riva. A high school junior, challenged by physical limitations, strong in her determination and courage, maybe a bit cocky, yet insecure in moments of introspection. I look forward to working her into the Film Crew series I’m working on. Maddy came to me the other day, and within hours she was crying out to be part of the story. She has all but forced her way into the series.
More to come…