Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Hidden Score

Here is my submission for Round 2 of the NYC Midnight Short Screen Play Challenge. Our Genre was Crime Capre, Our Location was A Video Arcade and our object was A Bottle Of Olive Oil.

Enjoy!




THE HIDDEN SCORE

Who knew olive oil could be so special and rare.


FADE IN:

EXT. URBAN STREET WITH HISTORIC BUILDINGS, DAYTIME. COLORFUL ENTRANCE TO OLD STOREFRONT WITH SIGN ABOVE IN NEON THAT SAYS 'LANDINO'S FAMILY FUN CENTER.'

Beth (Early twenties redhead, 5' 4" with athletic build wearing jeans, tennis shoes and hoodie over t-shirt which reads 'Journey') and Tommy (Early twenties, heavy build, dirty blond crew cut, wearing jeans, and t-shirt with Pacman on it with a back pack on his back)Rush up the street towards the door.

BETH

(Slightly out of breath as they hurry along) You're sure we just needed the one bottle?

TOMMY

Yes. Bruce said that was the last thing we needed. 'The one with the mark on the label.'

BETH

OK, I just wanted to make sure.

Tommy reaches the door first and opens it, holding it for Beth to enter and following himself.

CUT TO:

INT. OF ARCADE DIMLY LIT AND NOISY WITH VARIOUS SOUNDS OF VIDEO GAMES.

Beth and Tommy work their way through the crowded arcade heading towards the back with the door to the work area.

TOMMY

Excuse me.  Sorry, Excuse me, pardon me, pardon me, excuse me, excuse me, pardon me, coming through.

BETH

Sorry, Thank you, Sorry. You know I just love that old Bugs Bunny routine.

Tommy reaches the door first and knocks on it 3 times, waits for 2 beats and then knocks 3 more times. After a short delay 2 knocks are barely heard back over the noise of the arcade. Tommy knocks twice more and the door opens revealing a dimly lit room within and a skinny, balding man in his late 30's dressed in a suit.

CUT TO:

INT.WORKROOM/OFFICE OF ARCADE. SEVERAL TABLES WITH MISCELLANEOUS ELECTRONIC PARTS STREWN AROUND AND A DESK COVERED WITH PAPERS. SHELVES FULL OF OTHER PIECES AND PARTS LINE THE WALLS OF THE ROOM. BEHIND THE DESK IS A WELL USED, WORN LEATHER EXECUTIVE CHAIR.

Pops (an older gentleman in his mid 60's, 6'4" with a shock of stark white hair and a wiry build) is on the phone while he sits in the chair behind the desk and looks towards the door as Bruce lets Tommy and Beth in.

POPS

(into the phone) Yeah, they just arrived... I haven't had a chance yet.  I'll let you know when I find out...OK...later...bye.

He hangs up the phone and stands to talk to Beth and Tommy.

POPS

Did you find it?  Did you find the Ozzastru?

TOMMY

(With a tone of suffering and lack of understanding) Yeah we found the olive oil in the locked cabinet, right where you said. What's so special about this olive oil, anyway?

POPS

(With a sharp tone and then exacerbation at having to explain to him one more time)Ozzastru is not just olive oil, it is the finest of oils made from the first pressing of olives from what is regarded to be the mother tree in Santu Baltolu di Carana in Sardinia, Italy. 

Tommy takes off his backpack, reaches in a retrieves a bottle. He hands it to POPS.

TOMMY

I get that, but what makes this so special?

POPS

The oil is said to have the power to restore health and beauty, but what's important to us is that it is worth $150 per ounce and each bottle contains twelve ounces.

BETH

So, you're saying that each bottle is worth 15 grand?

POPS

No, do the math again - Eighteen hundred dollars a bottle.

TOMMY

Times twenty four bottles, that's over forty thousand dollars a case!

POPS

Now you see why it was so important to obtain a verified bottle to authenticate the case. I happen to know of another 11 cases sitting in customs right now.

TOMMY

I get it now! There's money in oil!

Just then there is a knock at the door. Pops quickly puts the bottles into the box while Bruce heads to open the door.

POPS

Ah, that should be Mr. Samuels, right on time. Bruce, let him in.

Bruce opens the door and a very well dressed man enters the room followed by a bodyguard type carrying a briefcase. Pops stands and walks over to greet Mr. Samuels.

POPS

Mr. Samuels.  So nice to see you again.  Welcome to my humble establishment.

SAMUELS

Let's not pretend this is a friendly transaction.  You have something of mine I wish to retrieve.

POPS

You are mistaken. I am offering you something of value that I have acquired.

SAMUELS

I see. So there is more than what I lost?

POPS

See for yourself. I have a full case for sale.

SAMUELS

That's a deal.

POPS

But you haven't heard the price...

Just then the door is broken open with uniformed men rushing into the room and the bodyguard pulls a gun and badge from within his coat.

BODYGUARD

(yelling) FREEZE! FBI.  You are under arrest.

POPS

You're FBI?

SAMUELS

No, but I do love my oil and when your man took it, I contacted my friend here to get it back.

BRUCE

(Laughing) You idiot, I'm with Customs. We got word of a smuggler trafficking in stolen oil and set up this sting.

SAMUELS

Stand down men.(to BRUCE) you know that bottle he took was fake?

BRUCE

We did.  We've been tracking them since they left Greece.

POPS

So you mean there is no real Ozzastru here? 

BRUCE

Nope. We've got eleven more cases of fake as well.

POPS

Any chance I could keep this case as a memento?

BRUCE

Sure, in fact since the shipper is in the wind, I'll send the other cases over as well for the trouble.

POPS

Thank you, you are too kind.

Bruce, the uniformed officers as well as the Bodyguard and Samuels leave the office.

POPS

OK gang. I'm sorry. I couldn't let you know it wasn't a real job, but we had to follow their lead. Looks like we aren't getting rich today.  Sorry guys. Maybe next time. Tell you what the drinks are on me this evening.

They all file out leaving Pops alone in the office. His walks to his desk and dials the phone.

POPS

Hello... Yeah I'm alone. Got the bottle here. Its not even extra virgin? You are bad. OK, I'll retrieve them and bring them home. I know, I know there are 12 of them in each. We’ll get the rest when the cases come up for auction. Love you too dear.

He retrieves the marked bottle from the case and heads over to the sink where he grabs the strainer, opens the oil and pours it in. As the oil drains out twelve large diamonds are revealed.

Fade out.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Updates on things.

NaNoWriMo has come and gone and I'm a winner! YAY! I completed over 50,000 words for the month for a new novel I'm working on with input from my mother.  She would be the expert and inspiration for the piece.



The second item I'm happy about is my placing 9th in my group of 28 in the NYC Midnight Short Screenplay Challenge Round 1. I'm especially pleased to have garnered 6 points on my very first screenplay ever. You can read it here.

Round 2 of the challenge starts tomorrow night at Midnight and I can't wait to see what my group's assignment is.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

One week in


Here I am one week into this wonderful month of NaNoWriMo. I have been inspired and have written over 13,000 words so far.  I am actually ahead of the pace needed to complete my 50,000 words for the month and be declared a 'Winner" again this year.

#PastorsAreJustPeople is my working title of the story and its about a church secretary and what she saw and experienced working with many different pastors and other members of the congregation over her long career. This story is practically writing itself so far and I hope I haven't just tempted fate and jinxed myself.

So, how is your November going?  Creatively I hope!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Vacation

Following is my submission to Round one in the NYC Midnight Short Screenplay Challenge 2014.  My group was assigned to write Fantasy, in a submarine with a magnifying glass.

I hope you enjoy it!


THE VACATION



Sarah and Abraham won an all-expense paid cruise to exotic places but it was more than they bargained for.


FADE IN:

INT. DAMP, MOLDY, DIRTY ROOM OF A SUBMARINE.

Sarah and Abraham are sitting in chairs on either side of a small table. On the table are various small petrie dishes and other glassware.

ABRAHAM
(with complaining tone)
Free cruise around the world she says. We'll travel to exotic places and see rare marine life she says. All expenses paid she says. The chance of a lifetime she says. Look where its gotten us... on the bottom of the ocean!

SARAH
(placating tone)
Now, dear it is all expenses paid and we are seeing marine life we haven't seen before.

ABRAHAM
You never mentioned the fine print, though, did you? You didn't mention we wouldn't be leaving the vessel. Nor did you happen to mention that we would be working in order to acquire our accommodations and food.

SARAH
OK, I may have mislead you but isn't it nice being away from the forest. Isn't this exciting?

ABRAHAM
It was nice for a few days, it was exotic , it was different, but that was 3 weeks ago! Now its just monotonous...

FADE TO BLACK

FADE IN:

INT. DAMP, MOLDY, DIRTY ROOM OF A SUBMARINE.

Straightening up from crouching over the table and gesturing with the magnifying glass in his hand.

ABRAHAM
OK, I will admit it is all expenses paid, but I would sure like to at least see the sun! And this exotic marine life isn't exactly easy to see even with this magnifying glass!

A loud mechanical buzzing invades the space downing out any additional dialog for the next 10 seconds as it ends...

ABRAHAM
(picking up in mid sentence)
Sheets on the bunks. I wish they would stop with the noise already. It reminds me of when you tried to learn to drive the old desoto.

SARAH
Well I did learn to drive it eventually. I think the problem may have been that...(the rest is drowned out by the recurring noise)

ABRAHAM
(once noise subsides)
Every other day, we are tormented by this noise. There is a pattern there, but I don't understand it. Can you dampen the vibration and quiet it down?

SARAH
I could but my reserves are down, I need the sun and fresh air to recharge.

ABRAHAM
OK, my love, don't worry about it. Let's see if we can't get some more work..(the rest of what he is saying is once again drowned out by the noise.)

Abraham waits for the noise to finish then sits back down to the table and holds the magnifying glass over a small dish. after a few seconds of looking

ABRAHAM
(IN A SATISFIED TONE)
Well, look at that I think I see a blue one but he won't stay still. Can you cast a stop motion spell here for a moment so I can grab it.

Sarah gestures with her hand and mutters under her breath

SARAH
There that is all I can do for now, my magic is all but depleted with the hull almost totally blocking me.

ABRAHAM
Got it! Thank you dear. Hopefully this is enough for today my eyes are getting hard to focus. Can you put this in the transporter?

Abraham hands a small pipette to Sarah who walks over to a small panel on the wall. She pushes the red button next to it. The panel opens and Sarah squirts the contents of the pipette into the receptacle. She then types in a code and hits the green button and a sound of water flowing is heard.

SARAH
I think that is all we need for our upgrade to...

Her voice is once again drowned out by the sound but this time it lasts a good 20 seconds. As it goes on both Abraham and Sarah stand and look at each other. The light gets brighter in the room as the noise stops. Then nothing happens.

FADE TO BLACK.

FADE IN:

INT. DAMP, MOLDY, DIRTY ROOM OF A SUBMARINE.

ABRAHAM
Three days. Three days we've been waiting for our upgrade. They said it would be 'soon' but now its been three days.

SARAH
Now, Abraham have patience, these things take time. They've always followed through in the past, there must be a delay for some reason.

A blinding light fills the room and Sarah and Abraham come together in an embrace as a large circular object intrudes on them from the ceiling and they are swept up into it.

As they disappear the camera zooms out farther and farther to show a pipette stuck into a dish with small compartments and a water sprite holding a magnifying glass.

WATER SPRITE
(in her own bubbling language with subtitles)
Found a mating pair this will earn us a penthouse!

FADE TO BLACK

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014


We are fast approaching an exciting time of year. While the holidays are exciting, they aren't what I am referring to.  It's time for the National Novel Writing Month!

Each November hundreds of thousands of writers fuel their imaginations with coffee and attempt to put together a novel of at least 50,000 words in just 30 days.  While it is quite an accomplishment to complete your rough draft in that time, it is not impossible.  If you break it down, you only need to write 1667 words a day for 30 days.  Given that the average typist can type at least 25 words a minute, that translates to only 67 minutes of typing every day.

One of the great things about NaNoWriMo is that while you are writing your own novel, you are not writing alone.  You can participate in many events during the month to keep you motivated and cranking out the words.  There are virtual write-ins, actual write-ins as well as forums, blogs and various other resources available to the aspiring writer.

This is my second year participating and I am proud to say that I was successful in creating my very first novel last year.  Its currently in editing and is titled 'A Quarter Ton to Kona.'

So, why not dust off that idea you've had rolling around your brain for the last however many years and see what you can do?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

NYC Short Screenplay Challenge

Was surfing the book of face this afternoon and a page was suggested to me.  That page was for the NYC Midnight's Short Screenplay cChallenge 2014.  I followed the link (http://www.nycmidnight.com/Competitions/ShSC/Challenge.htm) and started reading about the competition.  It looks interesting to me. The one part that has me hesitant is having to pay for the entry, but I think it could be a good investment to get some feedback on a bit of writing I produce.



The intriguing part is that they will provide a genre, a location and an object which provide the framework for the screenplay. I might just register adn see what I can do.

The early entry deadline is tomorrow (9/25/2014) which saves $10 off the entry fee.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Characters

Today a great actor has passed away.  Did I know him?  No, sadly I did not.  What I did know were the characters he brought to life.  He not only presented us with characters, he made us believe in them and care about them and what happened to them.  He gave them life.

Who is this you might ask?  He was Robin Williams.  We were first introduced to him via a quirky little half hour comedy show called Mork and Mindy.  He was Mork and he made us believe he was an alien. From that most of us found his stand up comedy routines.  His jokes weren't merely jokes, but skits with characters who had unique perspectives on the world.  His comedy specials weren't always about laughs and that was good.

Then he moved on to movies and dramatic as well as comedic roles.  Mrs. Doubtfire, Dead Poets Society, Patch Adams, The World According to Garp, good Morning Vietnam, Bicentennial Man, One Hour Photo - all of these showcased his range and ability to present full characters about which we cared.  

His talent will be sorely missed. It is said that he died of an apparent suicide.  That saddens me greatly that someone who was so talented could feel so lost that taking his own life seemed to be his only way out. I pray for his family and his friends and his fans that somehow they might find a little peace.

I choose to remember the greatness he has shown us rather than this possible ending. I hope to one day write something that would have been worthy of a talent such as his.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

INSPIRATION

Where does inspiration come from? Do you know? I certainly don't. Today I got inspiration from a chance link on a page I was perusing for an entirely different reason. I followed that link which presented another and following that link I came across a YouTube video of Peter Diamandis giving a TED talk and I was inspired. What he said was essentially that we are living in an age of abundance and that our lives are so much better today than they were 100 years ago. He also talked about how there are going to be 3 billion new voices heard from in the online community over the next 10 years and how we are going to see new innovations and exciting changes because of this. This got me to thinking about our present society and how we can help to create innovative and original thinkers. This then started me thinking about our current educational system and environment with its reliance on standardized tests and conformity and the lack of the arts in schools today due to budget cuts, etc. and I start to get worried. I'm worried that we are trying to fit everyone into neat little pigeonholes, all the same. I'm worried that we are stifling creative voices because we want everyone to perform the same. We need to be encouraging creativity and providing outlets for this creativity and original thinking. Let's face it, so many of the people who have changed the world were those who didn't fit in with the "norms" of the day. Many of them were considered a little crazy because they didn't conform. These are the individuals we need to be nurturing and helping to explore and build their unique voices for the betterment of us all. I believe it would be a sad day if we actually got everyone to follow all of the rules and not think outside the proverbial box. If it weren't for the great men and women who bucked the norms of society we certainly wouldn't have made any of the progress we've made.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

THE CALL

Here is another excerpt from my novel:

I am in the middle of revising a budget spreadsheet at work when my cell phone rings. I look at the caller ID and it is Linda’s cell phone. I quickly answer.
“Hello.”
She doesn’t say anything right away so I think she hadn’t heard me. “Hello. Hello. Can you hear me” I say.
“I hear you” comes the reply and I can hear that something is wrong.
“Hold on a second” I say as I get up and head outside for a bit more privacy. Working in a room full of cubicles doesn’t afford any privacy.
“What’s up?” I ask.
“The doctor said I have to have more tests to make sure, but he thinks its breast cancer and wants to do a biopsy.” This comes out in a rush followed by the sounds of her sobbing.
“Oh dear,” I murmur as terrible thoughts flash through my brain. I haven’t had any direct dealing with this exact thing before but we have had family and friends who had.
“Where are you?” I ask.
“I just got home” she replies.
“I’m on my way.”
I know Joe, my boss, won’t have a problem with my leaving. I hurry back to my desk, save the work I had been doing, shoot Joe a quick email that I have to leave for the day and am out of the door before the computer shut down screen disappears.
I know Linda needs me and I hurry to get to her. The 25 minute drive to the house isn’t good. All of these horrible thoughts keep flashing through my head. What if we are too late and there isn’t anything the doctors can do?  What if we try everything and it isn’t enough? What if she suffers through all of the treatments we can find and cancer still wins in the end? I stop myself right there. I need to not look at the negative, but focus on the positive. I instinctively know that I have to be the strong one for her as she had been for me. I have to be the one who stays positive and focused on getting through this and everything being alright. We technically don’t have a diagnosis of cancer yet and that is a slim hope that I have to hang onto with all my might.
When I get home I find Linda in our bedroom lying on the bed. It is almost as if she is already defeated. The buoyancy and life are out of her. I can tell she’s been crying. She already looks half dead. I go to her and pull her into my arms. She starts sobbing anew. We sit there with me holding her for 15 minutes before the tears subside. Neither of us says a word for a while longer. Finally, she speaks first. A single word. “Why?”
I pause for a moment.  This is the same question that has been swirling through my head. There is nothing I can offer but the truth. “I don’t know dear. I don’t think there really is a true Why to this. We have to focus on beating this and not on what caused it.”
She murmurs her agreement, and starts sobbing again.
It breaks my heart to see her like this.  I want to make it better, to go back to how happy we were just this morning before this happened.
“We don’t know if it really is cancer, the doctor only thinks it might be. It could be benign.” I try to calm her.
“You know they wouldn’t send me to the oncologist unless they had a really strong suspicion, especially with my family history – my mom and my Aunt.” She fires back.
“When is your appointment with the oncologist?”
“Tomorrow at 10:00 I think.”
“I’m taking you. I’ll call Joe later and let him know I won’t be in tomorrow.”
“OK. Thank you.”
“You don’t have to thank me silly!  Where else would I be but with you? I LOVE YOU! You know that and know that I will do whatever I have to in order to take care of you.”
“I Love you too.” is her reply.

We just sit there in each other’s arms for an hour, not wanting to break the spell In my mind I am hoping that if we don’t move then this isn’t happening. Unfortunately it is.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Inspiration and insight

I've been doing a good bit of reading and surfing looking for ideas, inspiration  and insight into the world of writing and publishing. I've been working on my novel A Quarter Ton to Kona and thinking that it might be a great movie.  Ok, a good movie.  The point is that I have been thinking that I need to find out how to go about writing a screenplay/script.

Along the way, while trying to find out the basics, I came across a screenwriter, a SUCCESSFUL screenwriter, who has also been giving out little pieces of wisdom he has garnered from his years in the business.  His name is Brian Koppelman.  Many of you won't recognize the name but will recognize some of his work.  His list of writing credits includes Rounders, Runaway Jury, Ocean's Thirteen and Runner Runner. Needless to say he knows a thing or two about the industry and following your dreams.

He dispenses his wisdom through a series of Vines he calls Six Second Screenwriting.  Here is one that really hit home for me:

video

He has many more which are all tagged with #sixsecondscreenwriting

Most of his Vines are inspiring and thought provoking but this one hit home.  I want to be a writer so all I need to do it get off my butt and write.  The more I write, the better I get.  There is no overnight success I need to put in the work and hopefully, one day I can produce something others want to read or see, but the main point is I am doing it.

Write Everyday - it will change your life!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What tense do you use most often???

I read an article in Writer's Digest (WD) online yesterday that got me thinking and wondering - what tense do you write in most often?  The article was written by Brian Klems who is one of the editors at WD.  He was listing the pros and cons of writing in present tense and it got me thinking.

I had read a few articles/blog posts from other editors and authors who almost universally suggested that present tense was the way to go.  It lends and immediacy and in your face quality to the story and keeps it lively, or so the arguments went. It made sense to me at the time and I bought it wholeheartedly.  I even went back and am editing my novel, A Quarter Ton to Kona, rewriting it in present tense.

Klems' article got me thinking, though. Was this the right thing to do?  I'm not sure at the moment.  I'm just over halfway through the novel with the edit and its coming along slowly.  I don't think there should be a hard and fast rule about this.  Mixed tenses are great as they allow the author to bring in past events and manipulate time lines. I even think about the classic stories and fairy tales that start 'Once upon a time...' and realize that past tense is very useful in story telling.

So, I'm curious, when you write, what tense do you use?  Do you stick with one or do you use mixed tenses as appropriate to tell the story?  I would love to hear what you think!

Keep on writing.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Novel or Screenplay

As I'm writing my novel, "A Quarter Ton to Kona",  I see that there is massive competition for resources in the novel space and it scares me a bit.  I really think my novel is a pretty inspirational story and that it could well help people make positive changes in their lives.  My fear is that the message won't be seen by very many if I stick with the novel format.  If I could get it made as a movie, I think it has a much better chance of reaching people.  I can actually see it in my mind as the movie plays out.  The scenes are perfect for the screen and it might actually allow there to be more subtle nuances than I have written, depending n the actors used.

I have other ideas that seem to play out in my mind as if they are on a screen.  I can see and hear the action and ambient or background sounds as well as see and feel the dialog. "The Elevator Story" also lends itself to that type of presentation.  I can see scenes and action and I think it might play out better on the screen than what I can write.

This brings me to my dilemma: do I continue to work on both of these, editing and rewriting them as novels, or should I look at them as screenplays and rewrite them as such?  Should I write the novels and adapt them to the screen?  I just don't know.  I'm more comfortable in the novel arena as I have read many, many novels, but never looked at a written screenplay.  That is my big hesitation.

What would you do?????

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Editing is much harder than writing


Last fall as I prepared to complete the NaNoWriMo and produce my first novel in 30 days, I figured that the initial writing was going to be the toughest part.  I was so wrong!  That was the easy part.  The editing of what I wrote is so much harder.

As I was writing my novel I was free to let the ideas flow and capture the essence of the story on paper.  Now that I'm writing I not only have to make sure that the story flows, I have to make sure I have a constant voice and that I am truly painting the picture that I thought I was.  One of the toughest parts is deciding to remove material that seemed  crucial to the story but which adds no appreciable value.

In fact I have found there are a few sections that I wrote which do nothing for the story except bog it down and confuse the storyline.  Now I can't bear to actually delete these sections.  What I have done is removed them and placed them in another document for safe keeping in case I feel they have something to contribute to the story at a later date.  They are almost like children.  Just because they don't fit in doesn't mean we throw them away.  We keep them and nurture them so that they may blossom in their own time.

Who knows I may actually take some of these sections and create a new story.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Writing tools

Being a technical writer by trade and new author of fiction by choice, I find it interesting that there are so many different authoring tools out there. When I first started writing, oh so many years ago, I was using WordPerfect.  With a change of positions and working for a Microsoft shop, I soon learned Microsoft Word and that has been my writing tool ever since.

I am quite happy with using MS Word for all of my writing needs. At least I have been until going through NaNoWriMo last November ans seeing the myriad other writing tools out in the world.  I now wonder if I am giving up some key functionality or time saving  feature by not using another application.

Right now I am sticking with Word since that is where my novel currently lives and it is where I am editing it.  I'm looking for opinions of regarding other tools, though.  All of my computers run on Windows so that is the first consideration, but do you have a favorite writing tool and if so, why is it your favorite and what does it do that Word does not.

Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

Thank you!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Novel Excerpt number 3

Here is another excerpt from my novel "A Quarter Ton to Kona":

A RIDE TO ENJOY RIDING

Since I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer I had not been back on the bike.  Not even for a short ride around the block.  Recognizing that I could be off the bike for a while, Saturday morning I decided it was time for a ride.  I didn’t have a plan for how far I might go, but I wanted to get out and enjoy it.  It was supposed to be hot, but my plan was to head out early and try to beat the heat.
I got up at 4:40 and got dressed for the ride.  The sun was due up about 5:25 and I hoped to see it rise while I was riding.
I grabbed some PowerAde along with a couple of Honey Stinger waffles for breakfast and headed into the garage.  I aired up the tires, put a stick of gum in my mouth, grabbed my helmet and gloves and was out the door before 5:00.  My destination was somewhere to the west.  I wasn’t sure how far I would make it since I haven’t been on the bike in a month but it didn’t really matter as long as I get to ride today.
There were just a couple of wisps of cloud in the sky, catching fire from the sun just below the horizon as I swung my leg over my steed and I headed off to the west.
I tried not to ride too fast but as I started going I just felt like I needed to push it.  It was if I was trying to run away from something and the harder I pushed myself the better I felt.  Shortly my breath was coming in ragged gasps, but I kept at it.  My world collapsed down and all I was aware of was my breathing and the turning of the cranks.  I felt the pain start in my legs, a burning ache that would normally make me back off, but today I needed to feel that burning.  I needed to push as hard as I had ever pushed. 
I passed Fort Apache Rd and Grand Canyon Drive and I kept pushing.  Ahead of me I saw the sun start to light the tops of the mountain peaks.  I pushed harder and the burning intensified.  My breathing was nothing but gasps for air, but I didn’t want to let up.  I made the slight turn along the kink in the road to the left and knew I was only a mile from the intersection of route 160.  I kept the hammer down, but knew I was running out of steam.  I down shifted a gear and then another as my legs were giving out.
I was to the traffic information sign, less than a half mile to go.  I dropped down to my middle ring and it was too easy, I was turning the cranks too fast, but that didn’t last long.  I was slowing as the turn approached.  I downshifted again and hit the slight downhill before the climb to the turn.
I was on my middle ring and upshifted a gear, then two to keep my momentum into the climb, but my legs were weak, I had nothing left and quickly had to down shift, one, two, 3 gears.  I was in my second to lowest gear ion the middle ring and barely able to keep moving forward but I was still moving.  I made it up the incline and around the turn. The road leveled out a bit here and I stopped for a moment to catch my breath and take a drink of PowerAde as the sun cleared the eastern horizon.
In that moment I simply enjoyed the breathtaking view as the sun light the landscape.  As the light flooded the valley I appreciated the subtle differences in color, the browns, tans and taupes all looked rosy in the light from the rising sun.  I knew it was a good day.  How could it not be?  I was here, enjoying the sunrise, having gotten here under my own power, riding my bike.
The moment was fleeting.  As the sun rose into the sky the temperature started to climb as well.  I felt the drain the exertion had put on my body.  I started riding again, heading slowly down the road for another mile or so before I recognized that I was in no real condition to go farther.  It had been stupid to push so hard so early in what I had hoped to be a long ride.  I was cooked.  I was done.  Fortunately it was downhill back to the house and I had to do little more than steer the bike as I was exhausted and barely hanging on.
I got to the house, put the bike in the garage and staggered into the house.  I collapsed into my chair.  It took a while to regain some strength but it had been worth it to be out there and see that sunrise this morning on the side of the road with no one else around.
I realized I had forgotten to stop my Garmin when I entered the house.  Fortunately I had it set to pause whenever I stopped moving.  I stopped it now and curiously put it into the cradle to download the file from my ride.  I had no real expectations for the number but was surprised when I looked on Strava. Seems I had set a personal record on the segment from Fort Apache to Route 159. Looking at the numbers I realized that I had done that section a full minute faster than I had done it before. I guess going all out on the bike does have its benefits.

After that I was tired and ended up nodding off for a couple of hours until Linda woke me to go get ready for some breakfast. It was a good morning.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

To be a writer

In my mind, I've always had the ability to be a writer.  I can sit down and churn out many words about this or that topic almost at will.  Primarily these words are in the form of instruction manuals or training aids - what I would normally think of as "technical writing."  This is the easy stuff.  It has a specific purpose, a well defined framework and it has a very specific structure.  Where I falter is in the realm of fiction.

I love a good story.  I love to read stories where the underdog saves the day and does so through various trials and feats of self-discovery all encapsulated within a tale full of humor and light.  Piers Anthony is one of my favorite authors because he has a great sense of humor and incorporates that into his work.  I would love to write like him, but I am not as clever nor as quick with a quip as he seems to be.

My goal is to explore this realm of fiction writing and hopefully to produce something that others might feel is worth reading.  I know there are stories I need to tell, now I just need to tell them.

To be a writer isn't all that hard.  To be a writer, all one has to do is to put words on page or on screen.  What is hard is to be a good writer and that is what I want to be.  So forgive me as I practice and refine this craft and put forth small snippets of my writing here so that I may garner a bit of honest feedback.