Thursday, September 30, 2010

'Dan, Time Boy'

I promised to let you know how the deadline went for writing Dan Time Boy. Just today, the last day of September, I finished the story, basically, from beginning to end. I'm glad to have it finished, basically, because now I can concentrate on a few other jobs around house.
Now comes the next process.
First Shirley reads it looking for typos, awkward stuff and a general read-through to see if she 'gets' what I'm trying to do.
Second, if I feel good about it, I may 'test-drive the story with some students of the age it is meant to appeal to. The trick is to find students who are critical thinkers and willing to give feedback beyond "I like it."
Third, (and ongoing) as I think of little bits and pieces to put into it, I will add them in. In this story, Dan will imagine amusing newspaper headlines as different events happen. I don't have them all in yet because I haven't thought of them all yet.
Fourth, and hopefully not prematurely, I will send an inquiry letter to the publishers I think may be interested. I don't want to create a bad impression so everything I send should be as complete as I can make it.
Here's another sample from Dan Time Boy;
After recess, things settled down in class. Miss B. played a Bill Nye the Science Guy video on the Smart Board to introduce a new science topic. The lights in the classroom were off and the room was quite dark, but Dan could see Axel and Wolfgang off to the side whispering and looking at Charlie.
Dan went to work again.
When he was finished there was a scream. Actually two screams.
“Aaaah!” Wolfgang shouted, “Somebody touched me!”
Miss B. sighed, paused the Smart Board, and turned on the classroom lights.
Everyone looked at the two boys who were out of their seats, staring at each other.
Axel growled, “You pervert, how come you’re wearing my shirt?”
“But you’re wearing MY shirt!” howled Wolfgang. Sure enough the two boys were suddenly and unexpectedly wearing each other’s shirts.
The rest of the class started tittering.
Dan had a special grin on his face as the; “I’m going crazy, and “this is too weird” comments from the boys died down.
Boys and girls alike grinned at the two bullies’ red faces.
“What were they doing in the dark?” whispered a girl.
“This place is haunted...” is all Wolfgang could say.
Finally, Miss B. sent them to the washroom to change.
Miss B. was looking like she needed a weekend already and it was only Monday.
Of course Dan had stopped time, wrestled them out of their shirts, switched them and buttoned the others’ shirts up again, and dragged them back into their desks in the same pose they had begun with. The effort took a long time but it was worth it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Life Well Lived

How short life is!
I am thinking deeply on these things since Wednesday. In the morning Shirley and I drove to Whitby to visit my in-laws. Shirley's dad Larry had invited us to help celebrate the 80th birthday of his wife of two years, June.
Larry had made the arrangements, ordered the flowers, ordered two cakes, invited the friends and enjoyed the morning celebration. He was talkative as always; enthusiastic about an upcoming hunting trip, a bit wary of his upcoming knee operation (for which his physical declared him to be in great shape), and looking forward to a bus trip this coming Monday.
Shirley and I left around noon. Within hours of returning home to Brighton, we got a tearful phone call that Larry had walked to the bank, suddenly felt ill, sat down and peacefully died.
The ambulance came and paramedics tried to revive him. At the hospital, where he worked many decades as chief engineer, they continued the battle to revive him but it was not to be.
It was his time.
We came to the hospital to find June devastated, surrounded by some of her children. Larry lay where he had died, still intubated and hooked up to I.V.'s. He face had a look of peace and surprise.
As a strong Christian he had no doubts about his destiny after this brief time on earth.
Enjoy the new adventure, Larry.
We'll meet you on the other side.
Larry Archibald Taylor 1928-2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Setting a Deadline

Trying to write three books at one time has its drawbacks... One of these is getting around to finishing just one of them; It's too easy to switch to another story when one of them 'gets stuck' and so lose the inertia.
I've gone back to Dan Time Boy and set a goal for myself to finish it (basically) by end of September. I hope that's a good idea. I'll let you know.

I'm enjoying the dialogue. Here's a sample;
(Dan, the main character, has just slowed down time with a magic timepiece he found. Everyone around him has slowed dramatically but he is moving at regular speed. Nobody knows he can do this.)

“O p e n i n g E x e r c i s e s, c l a s s. E v e r y b o d y s t a n d.
The class stood for the national anthem and Dan heard the notes of O’ Canada come slowly through the room. If he thought it was boring to stand so long before it was double that now since everyone was at half-speed...
O’ Canada, Our Home and Native Laaaaaand
True Patriot Love in all Thy Sons Commaaaaand
All around him his classmates shifted with elephantine sluggishness.
Dan watched Wolfgang reach a finger into his left nostril and pry out a little booger in there. He pretended to be wiping his nose but his fingers rolled the booger into a little ball and deftly flicked it down the aisle in front of him. Wolfgang must have thought he was moving with cunning swiftness but Dan watched every move with disgust.
Charlie noticed it too.
Charlie grinned, winked conspiratorially at Dan and then began leafing through his textbook with one hand while continuing to sing O’Canada in his off-key tenor. Miss Bentz was onto him. She watched him flipping through his book, but she didn’t say anything because O’ Canada was being sung.
After the opening exercises were over Miss Bentz’s words crawled through the morning air,
“Charlie please don’t read or study anatomy during O’Canada. It’s poor manners.”
“But Wolfgang was picking snot from his anterior nares in class and flicking it around the room,”
insisted Gary.
said Miss Bentz.
“Did not, but you’re dead anyway, putz,” threatened Wolfgang.
“Yeah? You and Axel don’t scare me.”
“…dead meat…,”
continued Wolfgang.
“Someday you two will be mopping out my surgery and calling me ‘Doctor’.”
“I’m going to call you an ambulance if you don't shut up,”
murmured Wolfgang.
“He’s going to need a hearse,” said Axel.
Miss Bentz had had enough. “One more word and I’ll see you all during lunch. Let’s try to get along, for once.”
Miss Bentz sighed and paused. Dan watched her face struggle to look cheerful and positive. He figured she’d feel a lot better if she took the yardstick off the chalk ledge and smacked a few kids with it.
It was time for him to freeze time and escape the classroom...