Sunday, January 15, 2017

What Would You Do With a Death Sentence?

New Kindle and Paperback Cover
In 2009 I prematurely published my first novel after a harrowing brush with death while editing. Among worst things (divorce) and despite all the chaos surrounding my life at the time, I still consider my first novel A Death For Beauty, a small success.

I can't even begin to tell you what I went through between 2007 and 2009, except to say those were the best and worst years of my life for so many reasons.

I can't explain how all these strange events (open-heart surgery, hip replacement surgery, divorce, writing, editing and publishing my first novel) intersected my life at a time when I was drowning fast in a difficult marriage with three wonderful children.

I'll spare you the shit story. Life is full of them and I'm just one more victim of a horrible relationship (and so was she) who was down for the count and so far I've made it through 8 more years of turmoil because my life never seems to get easier. Cry me a river. Nobody gives a shit and that's ok. I'm not looking for sympathy. Just stating the facts that might inspire you if you're going through difficult times.

"I'll cite Ernest Hemingway
as my favorite author."

I'll cite Ernest Hemingway as my favorite author because he had the discipline to write in the midst of so much chaos and drama in his life and he was smart enough to use many events in his life as a basis or as inspiration for all his stories. It's an amazing body of work. The Snows of Kilimanjaro being one of my favorite short stories of all time.

Since I like to focus on the positive I've reinvented myself in other ways until my time is up on Earth. Sounds dramatic but life is full of drama, folks. After my heart surgeon game me six months to live, events like that tend to change your perspective in life if you can survive through such an ordeal.

My theory is that most people don't take their life seriously until it's too late. Newsflash folks, we're not immortal. Life is short and there's simply no time to waste. I remind my children of that and it's the most important thing I can teach them.

The strangest thing is that I set out to write a Western novel and turned out something, a cross between a Western and a mystery using many of the troubling events in my life as themes in the story. Go figure. The ending of ADFB is especially personal to me because I use all my children's names and I managed to deepen my characters with traits borrowed from my older children.

Tentative New Title and Hardcover
It's amazing how things work out. Overall I think this is a very successful story that works on so many levels. It's a shame I wasn't able to get the publicity at the time to launch this book properly but I was in a worse place at the time and limited in so many ways due to health issues. Bottom line, I should've waited until my health improved but at the time I wasn't sure I'd survive at all.

The good thing is that this story is set in the past, 1863 to be exact so in that sense it is timeless and readable for those interested in that time period, which in this case intersects with Abraham Lincoln as President during the Civil War. So the potential for another release of this novel is in its very near future.

The new book cover for the paperback is shown here. The main difference is the title is bolder and larger, set in a Subway Novella font, which gives it that worn and torn feel, befitting that turbulent era.

In hindsight this is the book cover I think works best. Although I like the previous covers, especially the hardcover depicting the farm.

Dear reader, please realize you must
always live your life as if you were dying.

I really fussed with that cover as I do with most of my work. Once I get an idea I try dozens of variations until I settle on the best one. The hardcover really shows the farm and the hard life Virginia lived comes through those images and really captures the essence of her amazing and improbable story.

The central theme is uncertainty and despair. Other relatable themes on a smaller scale are also weaved through the novel and in retrospect, I'm not sure how I pulled it off at the time but it all works.

If there is one objection to any of the story it is that I threw so much into it that for that reason alone it can seem unfocused. Sometimes less is more although I have no regrets with the novel's outcome. My main problem was the opening pages and I'm happy with the first pages now but you never know. I've thought of revamping the whole thing into a short story with a much simpler story line.

Anything is possible and just a matter of time. And when I say time I realize that I don't have forever and whatever changes or goals I have now, I can't hang on to much longer.

Dear reader, please realize you must always live your life as if you were dying.

Because you are.


For my next post I'd like to talk more about Ernest Hemingway and his amazing legacy and what he has meant to me as a student of literature and how this great author has inspired me to keep writing.

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For those of you interested in the ADFB novel, I'll post the first pages of this story in Screenplay format, which is also in the works and I'll talk about the benefits for novelists about learning to write screenplays.

Don't miss it!