Q & A with Carl Purdon

Another wonderful gentlemanly victim graces my blog and another warm welcome is needed for Mr. Carl Purdon!

What would your bio say?

Carl Purdon lives in Pontotoc, Mississippi with his wife and two of their four children. Pontotoc is halfway between Tupelo, which is the birthplace of Elvis, and Oxford, which was the home of William Faulkner. Since he can’t sing, he writes. Since he’s not an expert on anything in particular, he writes fiction. THE NIGHT TRAIN is his first novel.

When did you start writing and why?

I wrote poems as a child (I still have a scrapbook with my scrawling) and throughout my 20’s. Though I knew at a very early age I wanted to write novels, I waited until I thought I was ready. That took longer than I expected, so I suppose I seriously started working on novels about ten years ago. Why? Because I had to. It’s just always been something I’ve known I was born to do. It’s my purpose in life.

If you are a parent how does being a parent affect your writing and writing habits? Or does it?

I am a parent and, yes, being a parent changes everything about everything. I’m lucky in that my youngest (he’s 9) writes his own stories. He totally supports me and even tells me sometime that I should be writing instead of doing other things.

Who is your favorite author and why?

I don’t have a favorite anything. Never have, but I have lists of favorites. I suppose James Fennimore Cooper would be at or near the top of that list because his novel, The Pioneers, made me fall in love with reading all over again.

What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

Again, since I was a child, I’ve “known” my purpose in life was to write. I think that’s one of the ways I got through my childhood – telling myself everything was for a reason. I write real-life fiction – stories that aren’t real but “are” because the things I write about happen every day. If just one person reads my writing and realizes “I’m not alone” it will be enough to make all that work worthwhile. On a more selfish note, my personal goal is to write something people will still be reading a hundred years from now. When I was that kid standing in my front yard so many years ago, that was the benchmark I set for myself. I’ll never know, of course, if I succeed.

Traditional or Self publishing? Why?

Self. I hate writing queries and a synopsis. And the idea of someone else polishing my manuscript makes me cringe. It’s not ego. It’s not some notion that I’m so great that no one could possibly improve my writing. It’s simply that I’ve always felt that if I can’t do it on my own then I’d rather not do it. I’m not talking typos and inadvertent words left in sentences after an edit. I’m talking about structural changes. A painter doesn’t hand his masterpiece off to someone else to smooth out the brush strokes, so why should a writer expect someone else to smooth out his or her rough edges?

Beyond that, the notion that a handful of people really are the best judges of what should be available to readers, especially in light of the so many examples of where they have failed, baffles me. Let the readers decide.

Talk about your journey into the wide world of publishing

My one hard and fast rule has always been not to publish a novel that I’m not completely satisfied with. I have a handful of completed manuscripts in my files that don’t live up to my expectations of myself. Maybe I’ll go back and have another go at them someday. Maybe not. THE NIGHT TRAIN was one of those slush pile manuscripts that I thought was good but not good enough. One day I found myself bogged down in the manuscript I was editing and re-opened The Night Train in hopes it would break the monotony and get my creative juices flowing again. I decided to re-write it without any concern of market. It was an experiment no one but me would ever read. The result was that I found my voice. When I finished it, I put it away for a few weeks, then read it on my Kindle. The feeling of satisfaction is one I can’t describe. I knew at that point I could withstand any negative reviews that might come my way because, good or bad, it was what I had set out to do. Thankfully, so far at least, all of the reviews have been great.

Tell us about your book (s)

THE NIGHT TRAIN is the story of a dysfunctional family. It is set in rural Mississippi, but could be set anywhere, because those same people exist everywhere. Jayrod, the main character, is terribly abused by his father and bullied at school. His mother, who is also abused, blames Jayrod. His fourth grade teacher often ridicules him in front of the other students. His single escape is the time he spends alongside the railroad tracks in the woods behind his house with his friend Arnold. Every night, from his back porch or his bedroom, he hears the whistle of the nighttime train as it tears through his woods and dreams of the world beyond the reach of his father.

I suppose you could call it a coming-of-age story, because that’s exactly what happens when Jayrod and Arnold run away aboard the train, but I think it’s much more than that. It’s more than just Jayrod’s story. It’s also the story of his family.

Writing The Night Train has made me look at people with more compassion when they don’t behave the way normal people behave. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a past.

What inspired you to write these books (or in this genre)?

I honestly don’t know what genre my writing falls into. If I could figure that out I might be able to do a better job at marketing. I write because I have to write. That may sound strange, but when I don’t write I have terrible nightmares. Writing doesn’t keep them completely at bay, but it helps. The nightmares, I think, are stories I haven’t told yet. It’s the story that’s important.

Tell us why we should love or hate your main character?

Jayrod is defenseless. He’s the shy kid in the classroom who never raises his hand to answer a question. He has learned to survive by becoming invisible, and he isn’t old enough to know the world isn’t supposed to be that way. Mostly, because he is real. Every school has kids like him, yet with all the training, so many seem to fall through the cracks in the system.

Do(es) your book(s) have a soundtrack?

No soundtrack. I need to do a trailer, though.

*****

Thanks Carl for spending some time with us! As always its been a pleasure! You can catch Carl on his website and his blog!

His book Night Train is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

National Novel Writing Month: End of Week One

Yay! Way to go!

You made it this far! And you HAVEN’T given up the ghost yet! Give yourself a pat on the back! Week one is usually rough because while the week may start out soaring by the end of the week you may have realized that this is more of a daunting task than you had originally planned!

Nothing to worry about folks! Everyone gets there at some point during the month! Some of us do it daily. Each and every year I wonder how I managed to talk myself into going through yet another year of insanity. And every year I find myself glad I did.

Right now you should be at around 11,669 words. Don’t worry too much if you aren’t quite there yet. Its more of a guideline than anything. There is still plenty of time to catch up if you are behind.  By the end of next week you should be somewhere around 25,005 words (and the halfway mark!).

Hang in there this week is going to be rough but I know you all can make it through! 🙂

 

WIP Mondays ~ Dragon Twins

This week we catch up with Jade again…

ENJOY!

*****

A sharp jolt woke Jade from her slumber. In her disorientated state she realized that she was being carried. When she tried to move she discovered that she was bound and gagged and stuffed into a confined space. Then it hit her.

The memories rushed back. She was studying for her SAT test in her room. Then she heard Ms Liu scream from downstairs in the kitchen. She had gotten up from her chair and was about to leave the room to go and see what had happened to here.

At the same time her door burst open and two men wearing ski masks had come into the room. They spoke not a word to her but grabbed her poked her with a needle. That was the last thing she remembered. Until now that was.

Now her best guess was that she was in the trunk of her captors car and they were headed somewhere. She had no idea how long she had been out for, but she knew it couldn’t have been too long as there wasn’t very much light coming in through the cracks of the trunk lid. Just the occasional flash of light flickered when the car passed under a street light.

She lay there listening trying to discern any noises she could hear that would give her any indication of where she was and who had taken her. They were on a long road with no noticeable curves in it. Could be a highway for all she knew.

Highway to where though? Her mind raced.  And  who are these people? Why do they want me? What were they going to do with me when they get to where ever it was that they were taking me?

She closed her eyes and willed her pounding heart to slow down. She continued to fight against the rising tide of panic as she further realized what was happening to her.

Were they after money? Was that what this was all about? Her father was a very rich and important business man in Beijing.

Was she going to be held for ransom? Would her father have the money to pay for it? If he didn’t what would they do then? Kill her? Sell her into slavery? What if her father did pay it? Would they then let her go? Or would they kill her anyway?

The thoughts and questions raced through her head at an alarming rate, despite her efforts to calm down. She also could not quell the rapid beating of her heart.

Then a thought struck her. She remembered a class she had taken in personal safety and self defense. They had said something about if you were ever locked in a truck of a car you should try and kick out one of the back tail lights and stick you hand or foot out the hole. Then hopefully someone traveling behind the car would see you and call the police.

She didn’t know if it was going to work. She knew nothing of cars, and didn’t know if she would even be able to find a way to dislodge the tail light without being heard. That was the other thing. What would they do to her if they heard her thumping around in the trunk?

She thought about it and decided that it was the best solution given the fact that she had no other solution. She had even searched around to try and find something to use a weapon when they stopped the car.

This is when she learned that the trunk was completely empty except for her. The tail light trick was the only thing she could try for the moment.  

She slide her foot out of one of her slippers and felt along the end of the trunk, trying to figure out where she would kick to get it out. She pushed here and there until she felt something give a little bit.

Shortly after she slipped her slipper back on and pulled her foot back as far as she could. She gave it a good kick and almost screamed. The kick had certainly hurt her more than it had done any good at dislodging the tail light.

She started to cry. It wasn’t going to work. She didn’t have enough strength to get it out in one kick. Besides if she tried again she really was going to hurt her foot, which was still throbbing painfully.

When I get out of here I am going to tell that teacher that his brilliant idea didn’t work. She thought bitterly. That is if I get out of here!

She lay there and pondered some more. Maybe it won’t come out if it kick it but maybe I could push it out with my hands. Maybe pry it loose and then push it out. She quickly located the one that was nearest to her head and started to push on it with both hands. It gave a little bit with every push but when she released the pressure it slid back into place.

There has to be a catch or something on this side that will pop it off. She felt along the edges trying to find the points she was looking for. Once she had she applied enough pressure to pop two of them on her first try.

She lay there for another moment catching her breath. She listened for sounds that the driver and passengers had heard her popping the catches on the tail light. She heard nothing.

She took another deep breath and pushed again with all of her strength. She heard a small crack and then the last two gave way and the taillight fell away. When she looked out the opening she saw that they were in fact on a highway and it was still night, as the moon was shining high in the sky.

The other thing she noticed was that the highway stretching out behind them was deserted. Cars or trucks were no longer anywhere in sight. She lay back for a moment trying to think of what she was going to do next.

There way no way for anyone to me now. All she had accomplished was that she had knocked out a tail light, which her captors were sure to notice when the came around to the back of the car to get her.

She watched out the hole at the passing country side. It was mostly fields and had very few off roads or homes.

She must have dozed off again. When she woke up they were turning onto a dirt road and headed away from the highway. This lessoned the chance that the knocked out tail light would do her any good.

Where were they taking me? She frantically wondered.

They soon pulled off the dirt road onto a gravel topped lane and slowed down to a crawl. Shortly after that they came to a complete stop.

 

Q & A with Stephen Ormsby

This week (after a whole bunch of ladies) I get to have a male victim

What would your bio say? 

I can tell you what my bio says, ‘cause here it is:  Stephen C Ormsby was an IT professional for twenty years before deciding to lead a more creative life.  He has always loved the idea of writing novels and had written four when Long Lost Song came along, demanding to be published.

This is his first but will not be his last.

He lives in South Gippsland with his wife, two children and a mad cat.  He has travelled extensively, is an avid reader and enjoys listening to a wide range of music.

When did you start writing and why? 

I started writing about 20 years ago I think.  It came about from a conversation with a lost friend as we both were unsatisfied with the books we were reading.  So the conversation turned to ‘we could do better than that’ and then his wife said ‘then do it’.  I have been ever since.

If you are a parent how does being a parent affect your writing and writing habits? Or does it? 

I am a parent of two and I structure my day around their school day.  We do the morning run, then Marieke and I will chat for an hour and then I get stuck into the writing aiming for at least 1000 words a day.  Both my children are now very interested in writing, especially when I received the first paperback copy of Long Lost Song.

Who is your favorite author and why? 

I have so many favourite authors and different reason for liking them.  An example is Michael Chabon as I see him as one of the best literature authors around and Frank Herbert for mind-blowing science fiction.

What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

To just keep writing.  To get the stories I have in my head out and read.  To make enough money to write another day.  No grand aims, except the big one – to keep writing.

Traditional or Self publishing? Why?

I’m self published.  With Long Lost Song, I felt an urgency to get it out there.  It always felt time sensitive and if I waited too long it might actually happen!

Talk about your journey into the wide world of publishing.  

I wrote 4 or 5 books during my first marriage, which my wife never read as she would say I had no talent.  Then when that broke down and I met my beautiful muse (and now wife), she read them and said the complete opposite.  Get this book out there now.  Finish writing it and get it published.

Tell us about your book (s).

I have two out at the moment with a lot more planned.  The first is Long Lost Song and here is the blurb:  A virus is decimating America today and Michael Decker is the culprit.  Or is he?

Is it the work of a curse recorded into a song by 1930’s blues musician Ricky Jensen?

Long Lost Song tells the story of Ricky and Michael as they battle their personal and real demons while the world reaches end times of biblical proportions.

One question remains. How do you stop a devil of a song made to break a crossroads deal?

It was an idea I carried around for 15 years and I could never come up with the catch to it – until my must came along.  Love is a wonderful inspiration.

The second book I have is a collection of short stories, articles and other bits (!) called Leftovers from the (Writing) Table (a title I had in my head since I started writing).

What inspired you to write these books (or in this genre)? 

I am inspired to write.  What it is does not concern me.  It is more about getting the words and ideas out.  I hope that, by being self-published, I do not have to consider genre.  I have written supernatural urban fantasy, am writing a fantasy and a horror novel (at the same time) and plan to write as many different things as I can.  That way I won’t get bored.

Tell us why we should love or hate your main character?

There are two main characters in Long Lost Song – Ricky and Michael.  Ricky is a 1930’s blues musician who makes a very bad mistake and pays for it for a very long time.  I almost cried when I managed to change Ricky’s fate somewhat.  It made Ricky feel very special to me.

Michael is different.  He has sheltered himself away from life after being a rock star.  I found him very insular and I think it shows in the book.

 Do(es) your book(s) have a soundtrack?  

The book Long Lost Song even comes with a list of tracks that Michael listens to.  There are 13 songs mentioned in the book and we (Michael and I) listened to them quite a lot during the writing of it.

*****

One last word from Stephen about his cover art: I would like to say that my beautiful wife created the covers (all my covers so far).  I’m very lucky to have someone that can visualize my words.

*****

Thank you again for your time Stephen! You can keep up with Stephens doings on his blog and his latest book on his website.

You can find Long Lost Song on Amazon and Smashwords and you can find Leftovers from the (Writing) Table  on Amazon and Smashwords.

National Novel Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo

‘NaNoWriMo’ (noun) a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2011, we had 256,618 participants and 36,843 of them crossed the 50K finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.**

(**definition from nanowrimo.org)

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If you write as a hobby, as a full time job or anything in between you need to check this month long race against time out.

I myself am returning for my seventh year. And each year has been better than the one before it. Each year has presented different highs and different challenges. As you read this post no doubt I am working away at work but mentally sorting out what I will write when I finally make it back home again!

This first week you will need to write 1667 words a day totaling 11,669 words by the end of your first week. Remember no editing until next month!

Good luck!