Monday, December 27, 2010

Brimstone by Robert B. Parker

Today I finished reading Brimstone by Robert B. Parker.

I read this book for fun.

Gate House by Nelson DeMille

Today I finished reading Gate House by Nelson DeMille.

I read this book as a part of my learn to write by reading project.

This was a hospital read.  I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been in the hospital.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Flip worry switch off

Before breakfast his admitting doctor popped in.  He was a different kind of doctor.  So laid back.  Didn't get ruffled.  "I hear you want an oncologist"
"We'll get one.  Did GI doctor come by yesterday?"
"Well we'll get his ideas too."

I can live with mystery bleeding if I know there are no carcinoids.

It was Thursday, December 23rd.  When offered the chance to go home for Christmas and do future tests as an out-patient, it was a no-brainer.  He was gone!  (Of course, when this happens in real life it actually takes 2 hours to be discharged.)

Plan was for a CEA, 5Hiaa, CT scan, PET scan and the swallow the pill camera scan to begin the week after Christmas.  God, it felt good to have a plan.  Flip plan switch on.  Flip worry switch off.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

No More Blood

Today his bleeding was stopped.  He required no new blood in 24 hours.  His blood count was rising.

An Upper Bowel Follow-up test revealed nothing.  Still don't know where or why he bled.  Just know it has stopped. 

Thank you, God.

Today his admitting doctor was off.  The covering doctor didn't do anything but stick her head in the door and earn a consulting fee.  No results of tests.  No new ideas .  The GI doctor didn't show his face either.

He had a long talk with his nurse.  Asked about the doctor's competency.  Four days in the hospital and no one knew anything.  Who was a good oncologist in case the carcinoids cut out of his bowel ten years before were back?

Tomorrow we need a new plan.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Add Blood

His Esopogeal Scan and Colonoscopy revealed nothing. 

But, being topped off with four pints of blood made everything better.

Monday, December 20, 2010

ER Express

He was at his doctor's office half an hour before it opened.  He was able to be seen first.  He told the doctor he needed a test.  He showed her his ostomy bag.  "I think it's blood."

"You don't need a test.  I can tell it's blood."  She sent him to the emergency room.

At the emergency room, they asked if they could help him.

"My doctor . . ." 
And they completed his sentence with his doctor's name. 
"We have your records.  Come here"

Wow!  The last time he went to an emergency room he sat for more than an hour before triage.  Guess having a worried doctor sending you counts for something.

He was admitted into the hospital.  A GI Bleed Scan cast no light on the problem.   Great fun was had with prep for a colonoscopy that night.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

This Isn't Okay

She decorated the Christmas tree - lights and garland.  When he stood up to help with the lights at the top of the tree, where she couldn't reach, he felt light headed.  Walking twenty feet made him tired.

This isn't okay.  And then the day got really bad - the Ravens beat his Saints.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Last Snow by Eric Van Lustbader

Today I finished reading Last Snow by Eric Van Lustbader.

I read this book as a part of my learn to write by reading project.

Not Good

Today he was still.  His belly hurt.  He had a fever and he felt dizzy when he stood for more than a few minutes.

Had he lost that much blood?  She said he was white as a ghost sitting in his chair.  But, the color returned when he lay flat. 

How much blood had he lost?  Would he stop bleeding?  When?

Friday, December 17, 2010

No Second Chance by Harlan Coben

Today I read No Second Chance by Harlan Coben.

I read this book as a part of my Learn to Write by Reading Project.

Uh Oh!

He looked down at the ostomy bag, a gift from 2000 cancer surgery.  Its contents were the color of black raspberries  A dark bluish-purple with a tinge of red at the very edge where it was thin.  Was it dread, fear he felt?  The last time he saw this much blood wasn't a good time.  It was the beginning of a struggle.  A life or death struggle.  Is that what was happening?

He wasn't surprised.  He always felt it would be back for him.  It was just a matter of time.  After ten years he had hoped.  But, it looked like it wasn't to be.

There was no "Why Me?" question.  Simply, is it back Will I prevail againHas the struggle begun anew?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Echo Burning by Lee Child

Today I finished Echo Burning by Lee Child as a part of my Learn to Write by Reading Project.

A most enjoyable read.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bon Secour First Draft Finished!

Today I finished the first draft of my thriller, Bon Secour

Although first draft might be a bit of a stretch for some.  Some scenes are really more just an outline.  But I finally figured out what was going to happen in every scene of my story, and I really wanted to be able to say I have finished my first draft and post this really neat merit badge.  So, I'm saying it.  I've finished my first draft (er outline/draft).

 It has some action and the rest is dialogue.  It is devoid of almost any description or narration.  And it's only 32,857 words.

So to get to 100,000 words I'm going to have to add a lot.  Hopefully I will be adding the rich descriptions in the style of John Hart.

But first, I'm going to dust off my Dramatica Pro software and test my story against the Dramatica story theory.  And since I couldn't make heads or tales of Dramatica before this ought to be 'very interesting' as they used to say on Laugh In a million years ago.

Thanks to for the merit badge.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Blue Eyed Devil by Robert B. Parker

Today I read Blue Eyed Devil by Robert B. Parker.  I can't lay this one at the door step of my Learn to Read by Writing Project. 

Blue Eyed Devil is what I call popcorn fiction.  It's a snack.  Light and salty.  Fun!!

The dialogue between Hitch and Virgil is awesome.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

9 Dragons by Michael Connelly

Today I finished 9 Dragons by Michael Connelly as a part of my Learn to Write by Reading Project.

The book jacket described the book as a mystery thriller.  A term I wasn't aware existed.  But it was a good description. 

I have read praise of Connelly's protagonist, Harry Bostch, which put him in the same league as Lee Child's Jack Reacher.  When I learned that Bostch was a police detective, I thought to myself.  I'm not sure I'm going to like this.  (I don't usually like the police procedural genre.)  But, I was very pleasantly surprised.  It was a great story and Harry is a great character.

I also re-started writing Bon Secour.  My NaNoWriMo break lasted a week not counting the last ten days of November when I wasn't on break but didn't write either.  Managed a paltry 602 words.  But, I was sitting and writing.  Yeah!

I started a style exercise based on John Hart's Edgar Award winning novel, The Last Child.  What I am doing is copying a scene from the book.  Then breaking it down to identify the goal, conflict and climax of the scene.  To pick up on which emotions and which senses are called on in each scene.

I studied painting for about ten years.  The artist I most wanted to paint like was Richard Schmidt.  I studied techniques by copying the paintings of artist's I admired.  I got good at copying, but I never even got close to being able to copy one of Schmidt's paintings. 

If I could wave a wand and be able to imitate any one's writing style it would be Hart's.  When I compare some of the scenes I wrote during NaNoWriMo to The Last Child, I cringe.  His style is so different from mine.  I'll never be able to write like him.  But maybe I can grow in that direction.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Night of Thunder by Stephen Hunter

Today I read Night of Thunder by Stephen Hunter. 

Learn to Write by Reading Project.

Stephen Hunter is one of my favorite authors I have enjoyed reading all of his novels.  This one is set in Bristol, TN at the time of a NASCAR event.

I love his protagonist, Bob Lee Swagger.  In fact, I've felt a little guilty using Bob Lee as the name of my antagonist in Bon Secour.  Hate to besmirch both the name of his protagonist and Gen. Robert E. Lee.  But, there you go.  The point of my antagonist is that he is a likable soul gone wrong.

Anyway, after studying how to write this year and reading novels analyzing why they work and why they sometimes don't, I found that I didn't like this story as much as I had enjoyed his previous stories.

Hunter's gimmick is that Bob Lee Swagger was a USMC sniper.  He knows everything about guns, ammunition, and shooting.  These topics are heavily embedded in every Bob Lee Swagger story.  I don't know that much about these topics.  And I don't care to know that much about these topics.  I'm not a hunter and I haven't fired a rifle since I wore Uncle Sam's green fatigues.  My readers may feel the same way about some of my protagonist's knowledge.  When I tell my story, Bon Secour, I need to keep my knowledge gimmick at a safe level.  My reader probably doesn't want to know the details of how to adjust a carburetor, just because my protagonist does.  It may add authenticity to the story but it isn't the story.

Night of Thunder ends with a surprise on the last two pages.  Sounds good.  But, my mind rebelled.  My story needs to have an ending that has been sufficiently set up.  One that seems right.  Not pulled out of a hat.  Tell me a character would finger his brother as the villain.  OK, I can believe that.  Tell me the character will say he thinks the villain might be his brother and then two pages later kills him.  I don't believe that would happen.  This means that my story must show a logical link from a character's knowledge to his emotions to his actions.  I can't leave any of it out.

Bob Lee Swagger is a cool dude.  He is a weapons superstar.  I get it.  Near the end of this novel, he stands over the body of the bad guy's boss whom he just beaten in a fast draw showdown.  He brags about being a fast draw champ, "Nobody ever called me slow."  Come on.  That is just tacky.  Bob Lee never bragged like that in a dozen previous novels.  Why make him a narcissist now?   I must make my protagonist likeable if I want my reader to identify with him, to take a fictive journey as my protagonist.  I must do this all the way to the end of the story.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Running Blind by Lee Child

Learn to write by reading your preferred genre.  Solid advice I've read in How-To books and magazine articles.  And, most importantly, much more fun than actually writing.

Today I finished Running Blind by Lee Child.

It is a well written book.  However, I didn't like the final twist that revealed who the murderer was.  The choice left me scratching my head.  Except for a foreshadowed hypnosis clue it just didn't work.  It just seemed to be dumped as the solution.  Was that because it the story didn't support that choice. 

Or, was I disappointed because I didn't figure out who the killer was?

Story vs. me.  Probably me.

Or maybe story.  "Some of the concluding elements to Child's fourth Reacher outing how the killer gains access to the victims' homes, as well as the revelation of the elaborate MO fall into place with disappointing convenience."  - Publishers Weekly

Anyway, even if it isn't Child's best work, it's still a fun read.  And I'm supposed to be learning more when an author disappoints than when they write a perfect novel.  In this case, I learned I'd better get the ending right if I don't want to disappoint the reader.