Chapter 3 Winner of Writing Contest

The winner of the short story contest I entered was announced this Sunday:Link . You can read my submission in my post titled “Update and a Short Story”. My entry wasn’t picked, but the judges said it was a tough decision and most submissions received at least one vote. More important to me, though, is that I think my fiction is improving and I am having fun writing. I have already started Chapter 4 and will post it once I finish.

Superman/Batman #26 – Sam’s Story

Though I have yet to write about them here, I am a big comic book fan. I have been since I was a kid. In fact, I have an account at my local comic book store, The Comic Swap, which is a list of comics they set aside for me each month. The Comic Swap also sends out a weekly email newsletter, telling all us junkies what is new for the week. It was there I first learned about issue #26 of Superman/Batman.

In June of 2005, Sam Loeb, son of comic book writer Jeph Loeb, died of cancer three years after he was diagnosed with the disease. Issue #26 of the comic titled Superman/Batman was written by Sam Loeb and is also a tribute to this courageous young man. A discription of this issue can be found here: link. A description of the type of person Sam Loeb was can be found here: link. All of the fees and royalties will be donated to a special fund in honor of Sam Loeb.

The above story touches me as a writer and as a future parent. I will definitely be picking up a copy of this comic, and hope many other readers do as well.

Update and a Short Story

I was asked yesterday if I have developed a timeline for my writing since I last wrote about setting goals. I have not, yet, come up with a timeline. I have, however, written another submission to my local newspaper’s collaborative short story. My submission was for Chapter 3 of the story. Here is a link to Chapter 2 of the story: Chapter 2. The only stipulation for submissions was that they had to be within 500 to 650 words.

Here is my submission:

Scott stared back at Johnny in disbelief. Though Scott’s brother was a real pain in the neck most of the time, Scott could not believe that he would ever break the law. His brother had always made sure he and everyone around him upheld the law. Scott still remembers the time his brother called the police because he caught his mother removing the tag from her mattress. The guys at the police station teased Scott’s father about that for weeks.

“Did you get a good look at the body in the back of the truck?” Scott asked while trying to make sense of the situation.

“Well, the guy looked like he could have been in his forties or fifties, was kinda tall and thin, and had a beard,” said Johnny. “Oh, and he also had a big mark on his face above his left eye.”

“That’s the guy who killed Dad,” answered Scott.

For the past ten years, that face haunted Scott’s dreams. He remembers first seeing him during the trial, thoughts of revenge filling his mind even at eight year of age. Scott remembers the numbness he felt as the judge announced the sentence. His brother, meanwhile, seemed to lose his faith in justice, if only for a second.

As they reached Mid-State Trail, the rain started to fall, slowly at first and then steadily breaking through the trees. “OK, we need a plan and standing in this rain getting soaked isn’t helping me think of one,” said Scott. “I know of a cabin up the road that we can stay in for the night.”

Just as Scott finished that sentence there was a large crack of lightning and it started to pour. The two boys broke into a sprint, Johnny trailing closely behind. After five minutes of running through the forest, tripping over branches and being smacked in the face by low tree branches, they arrived at the old log cabin which Scott had seen many times on his hikes with his brother in Rothrock State Forest.

From the looks of it, the little cabin had not seen many visitors in the past few decades. In fact, Johnny thought to himself that the only reason the cabin was still standing was because it lacked the energy to fall over. It did, however, have what seemed to be a solid roof. And, from the looks of it, the cabin also had two old military cots, which after the five minute sprint was a much better option to Johnny than sleeping on a wet rock somewhere in the forest.

Scott and Johnny first tried the front door knob, hoping the long forgotten owners of the cabin were also careless. The door knob did not budge, so they decided to enter the cabin through one of the windows, which Johnny accomplished with a solid kick to the rotted window frame.

Entering the cabin, Scott and Johnny first noticed the smell, which was like a combination of wet dog and overcooked earthworms. The next thing they realized was that while you should never judge a book by its cover, it was in fact perfectly fine to judge a cabin by its exterior.

“Well, I don’t think this place will appear ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’, but at least it will keep us dry,” said Scott. “I’m too tired to think tonight. Our plan can wait until tomorrow.”

As they drifted to sleep Johnny added, “There is no way anyone would find us out here anyhow.” Neither boy had much trouble falling to sleep, serenaded by the sound of gentle rainfall on the cabin’s tin roof.

The boys were awakened by a loud knock on the door, which shook the walls of the old cabin, flinging an old picture of Beaver Stadium to the cabin floor. “Police. You are in great danger. Open up!”

Goals are Important

I am a believer in setting goals for myself in my life, whether it be at work, in my writing, or in sports. These goals need to have a few characteristics: they need to be attainable, they need to be measurable, and they need to advance me to my next goal. I find setting goals makes a task more interesting, and also allows myself to feel good about myself when I meet a goal.

I was thinking about this today and I asked myself this question, “What is my goal as a writer?”. Below I have listed some possibilities and what I believe is my initial writing goal.

  • Have a novel published
  • This is probably the goal of many an aspiring writer. However, it doesn’t fit for me. First of all, before I can have a novel published, I have to write a novel. Second of all, it seems to me that having a novel published is out of my control. I could write a great novel, but that does not guarantee any publishers would be willing to publish the story.

  • Make money as a writer
  • This again is a nice goal and probably shared by many writers. I have read many times how difficult it is to make money as a writer. Besides, I already have a full time job.

  • Complete a story
  • Whether you define a story as a short story, novella or novel, I like this goal for a few reasons. One, it is up to me whether I succeed or fail in completing a story. Second, if I do complete a story, then I have a basis for the above two goals.

People motivate themselves in different ways. For me, as a beginning writer, I need to set small attainable goals for myself. I am curious as to what types of goals other writers set for themselves.

Another Historic Building Gone

Yesterday the historic Bush House burned to the ground in Bellefonte, dealing a severe blow to a town struggling to gain back some of the lustre it had in the early 1900’s. Bellefonte, which was home to seven Pennsylvania governors, was once the most influential town between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. Bellefonte is still the county seat, but is not longer the largest town in the county. Due to its past, however, Bellefonte still boasts immaculate Victorian architecture and charm. Some of that charm is lost forever.

The Bush House, built in 1868, first served as a hotel and counted Amelia Earhart and Thomas Edison as guests. In recent years the building hosted several businesses including Schnitzel’s Tavern, which was the best German restaurant in the area.

The building was erected in a time when there was money in the town. It will be impossible to build anything that could match the size and charm of the Bush House. Downtown Bellefonte has lost a little bit of its style. Hopefully, eventually something will be bult in its place that the whole community can enjoy.

I used to drive past the Bush House every day on my way home for work. For the foreseeable future I will be driving past a gaping whole wishing I could sit inside Schnitzel’s Tavern, drink a fine German beer, and enjoy the town of Bellefonte. For now, I just wish I could shake the sick feeling in my stomach.

Deadlines are my friend

While working on a submission to a short story contest for the Centre Daily Times (see the posts below) I have come to realize I work best under a deadline.  I think, for me, a deadline is my best defense against my writer’s block/laziness.

I need to find some way to set guidelines for myself in order for me to be more productive with my time.  Any ideas?

Write While the Spark is There

I have read several books that discuss “How to write” in the past year. Most of them recommend advise a writer to write while an idea is hot. This advice holds true for my writing.

A couple weeks ago, I had a hockey game at 7:45 AM. While I was gettting ready for my game I had an idea for a short story that I felt would make a really good short story. On my drive to my game I was coming up with great ideas, almost writing the whole thing in my head.

Once my game was over, I was too tired to write the story, but I could still remember all of the details and I might have even wrote a few of the details on paper, thinking that would be enough for me to recapture the feeling I had when I first had the story idea.

Once it came time to write the story, however, the spark was gone. I tried to put all my ideas together, but I just didn’t have the same feeling about the character that I had on my drive to my hockey game.

As I have posted before, it is sometimes a struggle for me to sit down to write. My advice to myself, and anyone else is that if you have a good story idea that you feel strongly about, write as much as you can as soon as you are able. Otherwise, your spark may not come back.