Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Contest

Thanks to all who read the three excerpts and took the time to comment. Chunks like that make it difficult to see where a project is headed and the brief synopsis I offered didn't do a very good job of giving you the overview of the stories, hence some well-thought comments were offered from a less-than-complete perspective.

That's my fault and not yours.

The consensus appears to be a coin-toss between "Stoolies" and "Strike Enable" with my upbringing memoir a distant third. That becomes a problem for me if I were to list the three in order of ease of creation. My books, up until this point, have been non-fiction. They are memoirs and although tied to history and as factual as I can make them, they are my telling of stories that I lived (or that Christina Olds and I were able to assemble from Robin's legacy). I've found out already that fiction is a lot tougher than memoir.

For ease of creation, then the ranking would be:

  1. My Childhood Stories which are pure memoir. The real difficulty there is balancing the good times with the difficulties of dealing with a hypochondriac, manic-depressive, self-centered mother. One is supposed to love one's mother and mine did much for me, but the black-periods outweighed the good and baring that truth to the public isn't a pleasant task. My wife wants me to write the stories, if just for her. It is probably the least marketable of the three. 
  2. Strike Enable is a peace-time fighter pilot story and a life I'm familiar with. The plot of the terrorist Turk and the eventual confrontation has to be brought far enough forward to make it relevant to the Middle East situation currently on the front pages. The artistic twist of shaping the central character into different things as viewed by different people is the gimmick to sell the story to the publisher. The cliche is that all fiction is in some sense autobiographical. That leaves me with the difficult task of convincing my wife on every page that I'm not really Rat Reynolds and I really didn't do those things that fighter pilots do when off fulfilling the rest of the world's expectations of acting like a fighter pilot. 
  3. Stoolies is essentially a modern day ghost story that takes place in a north Texas cowboy bar. It is grounded with some real characters (in the truest sense of that word!) and there is real history behind the mailman who triggered the Great Gainesville Hangings that resulted in 40 lynchings in the first week and nearly 150 over the next six months, but getting the ghosts to the modern time and flowing them into the scenario is pure fiction and not an easy task. 
School is out for the summer in few short weeks and it looks like I won't be doing summer session classes this year, so I've got no excuse for not pounding the keyboard and seeing what I can churn out. It might be easier than I'm predicting or it might be a production of crap that will rival Justin Bieber's autobiography. 

There might even be some more samples for ThunderTales to get some feedback on what I'm doing wrong. 


Randall said...

Just now got finished reading the samples. Yeah, I'm slow and I procrastinate. My preference would be for "Stike Enable" with a caveat, or the memoir. Depends on which direction Strike Enable goes as to how much I would enjoy it. I absolutely loved "Flight of the Intruder", because I'm an aviation buff, but never cared much for Coonts's other work. I enjoy military action/techno thrillers. Love Dale Brown's work, but I don't care much for suspense/espionage type stuff. Never cared as much for Tom Clancy, for this reason. Admittedly, this is just a matter of taste.
I really like the flavor of the memoirs, that seems to have the most character of the three.
The ghost story could be interesting, depending on the direction, but the market is absolutely flooded with that sort of thing right now, it would be difficult to stand out from the herd, and if you did, you'd probably be criticized for it by all the teenage girls who just didn't get it. But I'll probably read it no matter what you do, so knock yourself out. Be well and be happy sir, and God bless.

Six said...

FWIW I'd buy and read your memoirs Ed. I'm with your wife, it may be something you need to write, however salable.

Do some more snippets if you can. After reading your explaination of The Mailman I admit to being more intrigued.

However you go another Rasimus book is a definite goodness thing.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm against the grain here, Ed, but I thought that memoir thing was a keeper. I can say from personal experience that mothers really do figure out ways to keep one from having too much fun. That's why we get so rowdy in our late adolescence! It's an overreaction to freedom. I liked the other two as well...just that I'd like to hear more about Mom. I'm sure that there are other folks in the mix that are just as interesting, too.

Mike B.