So you can read my books

Thursday, June 27, 2013


"Why do we go on?"

I asked Gypsy, my ghost cat,

as she lapped from my tumbler of ice tea,

the ancient mysteries of Egypt seemingly mocking me from her emerald eyes.
I sighed, "There is no certain promise of success.
Often we are mocked by those in our world.

Worse, sometimes we are endured or "forgiven our obsession" by those close to us."

Hemingway looked at me from across the table at Meilori's.

"Backbone," he rumbled.


He downed the remainder of his rum. "Backbone, son. In yourself. In your work. That is the key to surviving this 'obsession' of ours."

He set his glass with a thump on the oak table. "Your own backbone is between you and your self-respect. I can't help you there."

He lit a cigar. "But with the backbone of your story or novel ... there I can help."

He looked at me over his glass of rum.

"The spine of your novel is what you follow on your character’s evolution from what he was to what he becomes. And the change must be big. Why would we follow a bump on a bumpkin’s life?

All good books have one thing in common. 

They are truer than real life. Why? In good books, anything that doesn’t contribute to the hero’s transformation is edited away.

So find your backbone. What big picture are you painting? Any brushstroke that doesn’t add to that picture, remove.

Ask 5 questions to find your backbone.

1) Who is your hero?

You’d be surprised how many bad novels wobble about in that department, not giving the reader a sure idea of who to root for.

2) What is the problem?

It has to be clear. It has to be primal. And it has to appear insurmountable.

3) How does the story begin and end?

There has to be a “before” and “after” feel to them. The end must be a ringing bell within the heart of the reader.

4) What is the spiritual problem of the hero?

The physical problem must symbolize the spiritual struggle within your hero.

5) What is your novel about?

What is your story’s theme. A young boy learns that true magic lies within. A man discovers lies only make problems; they do not solve them. You get the picture.

What are you waiting for? You want me to lead you to the computer and type the story for you? Writers write. Dreamers dream and die with their dreams."

He pointed the burning end of his cigar at me.

"Die on your feet, friend.

Die on your feet, your last breath spent living your dream,

not pining for it."***


  1. Thank you for the Hemingway video, I watched all of it. I was hooked by the opening image - the Eiffel Tower. I felt sad by the end.

    First you have it all, then you don't. He kept looking for something. . . the joy of life? Looking for love in all the wrong places, as the song goes.

    I agree with Ernest, first you have to try. Thinking before reacting is a bit harder for most of us, knee-jerk reaction is more common. Both books and writers need a strong spine.

  2. That's a wonderful quote from Hemingway.

  3. I wonder what Hemingway would have thought about today's writing market and the internet. Thank you for posting the video, I learned a few things that I did not know from before. He sure grabbed life by the balls. Too bad depression got him in the end. Great artists often suffer the same fate.

  4. Why do we go on? The title of your post immediately drove me to ponder why do I go on with this writing life, with this life of 1 book, 2 book sales when the person next to me is kicking out a 100 sales a day.

    Then I stopped and figured I'd better read the post itself instead of staying in that place of contemplation...mostly because I knew the answer to why I go on despite sales being a reflection that I should stop and give up.

    And I'm glad I read the post...I go on because I love it and that backbone, that spine...that's good, too.

  5. This was wonderful.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  6. D.G.:
    Like you, I believe life demands of us a strong spine. Sometimes mine feels like silly putty!

    That was an evocative video, wasn't it?

    Wasn't that a great quote?

    The trouble with grabbing life by the throat is that it usually grabs back! At least that is what the ghost of Hemingway just told me! He was a complex man.

    You're doing better in your sales than I am if that is any consolation. We sing because the song burns within us. :-)

    I'm so happy you enjoyed it. :-)

  7. Sooooo beautiful. Your posts are really resonating with me this week!

  8. 'Dreamers dream and die with their dreams.' Wow, that's profound. And so true.

    This is the pep talk I needed. Thanks!

    Gonna watch the video now. Hope you're doing well :)

  9. Interesting. I didn't know he had been treated for manic depression. I always wondered if there was a genetic predisposition for depression in his family. So many members have committed suicide....sad.

    I imagine my 11th grade English teacher and you would have a blast sitting around and talking 'Hemingway'...thanks for the video. I didn't know there were any!