Anatomy of a novel

What does a novel on an author’s laptop look like? A lot of readers probably picture a single MS Word file with the title of the novel for its name. But here’s some screenshots from my computer showing you the contents of folders I set up specifically for my latest book, Evelyn dear Fender. Its working title was Entwined. As it turned out, however, there were close to two dozen books on Amazon with the title, Entwined, and most of them looked something like:

1411905864

So… anyway…

I’m guessing that more effort goes into the building and maintaining such a physique than what went into the writing of War and Peace. Fender Spigot’s (the lover-boy in Evelyn dear Fender) body may not be cover material, but his poetic eloquence will charm the pants off any warm blooded female creature.

Look at me, going on about hand size… way off topic. Reset. I have no idea how this compares to other author’s novel projects, but here is the anatomy of one of mine. :)(:

 

pg01pg02pg03pg04pg05pg06pg07pg08pg09pg10Save

Save

Advertisements

Close encounter of the fourth kind.

A true story.

In the late fall of 1980, I was living in a little, old farm house, at the top of the only hill in the county—perhaps the only hill within a fifty-mile radius. This was farm country. Or rather mega-industrial farm country—flat as the ocean, with fields of corn and soy beans stretching on for as far as the eye can see—and no trees, to speak of, blocking the view of the never ending corn fields. But I’m talking about late fall here. The corn and soy beans are gone, plowed under, leaving only the bleak, black soil beneath the biggest sky in the world. It was huge, and the old farm house was but a tiny, remote speck below it—the perfect location for the unlikely.

I was working for Big Star Construction Company in Herscher, Illinois, ten miles away. I’d get up and ready for work well before my wife climbed out of bed. At 5:30 in the morning, there was not the first hint that the sun would ever rise again. The house was dark and quiet, except for the bright, overhead light in the center of the kitchen ceiling. This was a typical farm-house kitchen. Big. Designed for eating in, and square dancing too, I guess.

I sat down with my bowl of cereal, facing a set of stairs, which led up to the bedrooms where my wife and my baby daughter were sleeping. Off to my left: cabinets and counter-top stretched along the west wall, the kitchen sink in the middle, and above that, a large window looking out over empty, black fields—nothing was visible out there that morning, as was typical. But as I raised my spoon to my lips, I caught, in my peripheral vision, a large glowing object rising from the backyard. I swung around to my left. The hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention, each and every one of them as freaked out as I was. I saw something, just a moment before. I saw a large, well-lit object rise up from below the window sill. But when I turned, I saw nothing, only black.

I was so completely spooked. I sat there at the table at the opposite side of the room, staring toward the window above the kitchen sink, wondering if whatever it was I saw was now on its way to Zukulia. Hoping it was.

No… I told myself, I didn’t see anything.

I went back to eating my breakfast. No more than a few moments passed when it happened again. A glowing object rose up past the window sill and then dropped below it.

All those little hairs on the back of my neck, like stiff, little, Nazi soldiers, were back on their feet, saluting the west. Of course, when I turned, nothing was there. But I knew I saw something, and everything about it defied logic.

I got up, approached the window, and stared out toward the blackness of a cold October morning.

And then it happened.

The wind caught the bottom edge of the storm window and pulled it, a few inches, away from the house. The reflection of kitchen rose, and then dropped as the window settled back into place. It was one of those old-style storm windows; the kind that hinge at the top, and fasten at the bottom with a hook and eye, which in this case had come loose.

Three months later, I went to the doctor for a routine checkup and was told I had a kidney missing. It had somehow been removed without leaving the slightest scar.

(All true—except for that last paragraph.)

 

 

English/Methanian/Barnyardian Translation (for Evelyn dear Fender)

Language is a method of communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in an agreed upon structure.

A group of scholarly Englishmen once got together and agreed that a fury little creature that wags its tail and goes “arf, arf!” is a dog. “From henceforth,” one of the esteemed Englishmen had said, “everyone must call this critter a dog.”

A group of scholarly Frenchmen wrongly agreed that a dog should be called a “chien.” Not even close! A chien, as we all know, is that bony structure below our mouths. And here England and France, while right next door to one another, could not agree on a clear and simple word such as dog.

On the planet, Bufadu, everyone happily speaks the same language, which they call “language.” There has never been but one, or so the people of Fraidland have always assumed. They also assumed they were the only people on the planet, just as the people living on the mythological continent of Methania, on the opposite side of Bufadu, believed.

Like Britain and France, two unique languages evolved on the two oblivious land masses of Bufadu. But by some outrageous chance, the two continents came up with precisely the same vocabulary, the exact same set of words. However, a group of scholarly Methanians once got together and agreed that a wooden vessel that floats upon water should be called a “town.” So, what became of the word, “boat?” Boat, as defined in the Methanian dictionary is: a greater or additional amount or degree. What we here on Earth might refer to as “more.”

When creating Fender’s language (Methanian) I swapped words based upon their length (rhythm and aesthetics), with little or no regard to their meaning. I figured the concept was already bordering on too complicated. Taking meaning into account added unnecessary complications.

I had to create a dictionary with two sets of translations, based on who is speaking. Fender sees a boat; he says, “town.” When Evelyn says the word, boat, Fender hears, “more.”

When Fender sees a face, he says, “wind.” When Evelyn uses the word, face, Fender hears “high.” Face means: of great vertical extent… or what Evelyn might refer to as “high.”

Can you see the logic behind my using two different translations for the same word? If you are one of those who require congruency and order in your gibberish, I am providing you the use of my translator. CLICK HERE: alien dictionary

Take another little piece of my heart now, baby…

All five of my completed novels are now available in eBook and print editions. Earlier this year, I published Kindle versions of The Other Mr. Bax, The Father, and Evelyn dear Fender. And just this last week (the last week of July 2016) I published the print editions of those three novels. Does it sound like I’ve been whipping them out left and right? Bang! Bang! Bang!

No, these books represent twelve solid years of work for me. I started writing The Other Mr. Bax in September of 1999, The Father was started in 2009, and Evelyn dear Fender got its opening paragraph in 2012. None were really finished until 2016. My other two (the John and Tess novels) were squeezed in during breaks (2 ½ years for The Sun, the Moon, and Maybe the Trains, and 1 ½ for All the Butterflies in the World, which was actually the last book I wrote).

So, here it is, twelve years of my life... a piece of my heart.

These three little narcissists were born to be read.