Monday, July 28, 2008

"The Other Side of Glory"-- July 28th, 2008

Understanding there are important "fundamental" concepts that must be applied to every story, in order to help the readers (1.) stay focused long enough to keep reading past the opening pages, (2.) identify traits with the hero of the story so that they come to a determination (quickly) that his/her story is worth following and (3.) establishing the nature of the character for a growth pattern later on as the story develops, I realized I was missing something in the opening Chapter to "The Other Side of Glory."


I opened the story with a pretty powerful (draft) Prologue, introducing the audience to an older gentleman awaiting his death sentence in prison. How and why he got there will be told over the course of the (body of the) story. I think I sparked enough intrigue to keep the reading audience moving towards the first chapter where they are immediately introduced to a young Private First Class in the US Marine Corps by the name of Joey Allario.

I was trying to convey the "nice guy" image early in the story for my character Joey Allario--being this novel will be a play on the concepts of "good" and "evil." The trick however (for me as the writer) will be to draw characters in situations that force my reading audience to decide what/who is good and what/who is evil. Yesterday however I realized I was missing something with relation to Joey's history. I could easily tell the audience great things about him, but that doesn't always work. I have learned its just as important to show the character interacting with people--close to him and people he/she doesn't know--to draw a better image of their quality. So, I went back and added a few more pages to the opening chapter as a sort of flashback scene, where you see the young Marine saying good-bye to his parents. Below is a sample of what I wrote yesterday to build on the idea that PFC Joey Allario is a good kid.



Excerpt from Chapter 1 of "The Other Side of Glory"




The terminal doors slammed together symbolizing the passing of one stage of his life into the other. Standing there Joey couldn't help but think about his family back home--his mother and father and especially his younger sister Helen. He reached into his pocket of his pants until his fingers found a small pocket-sized Holy Bible. Joey closed his eyes for a moment and held the Bible firmly in his hand as though he were holding each of them close to him and within the echoes of the very quiet airport terminal he could see their faces again--as clearly as he did just hours before.

"Sit with me," his father said. "Aqui." Here.

Joey was only hours away from leaving his home in Midland, Texas and all he had known to be normal and good. His mother was preparing breakfast--tortillas, eggs and chorizo--and his younger sister Helen was busy laying out his uniform on his bed.

"Look at my hands," his father said. "See them?"

"Yes dad," Joey said.

"They are the hands of a worker--someone who has earned his money by the sweat of his brow," his father told him referencing the family bible on a nearby table.

"I know dad, there isn't anything wrong with working hard for a living," Joey said. "You gave us a home. That's more than most people can say for themselves father."

"I understand this," his father said. "But one day you will be a father and have children of your own and of all you can give them and all you will give them--the option of having a better life than the one you lived will mean the most to you."

Joey looked around his home, at the furniture and its worn upholstery, the cracked flooring and the simple layout and then he realized something. His mother and father were right about one thing; the home they provided was good enough for them, but he was slowly outgrowing them. He was beginning to outgrow the life they offered and would require more of himself and the things he worked to provide for his life. He would do better than they did, not because he is better but because they raised him to appreciate everything he had, to work hard for what he wanted and to remember where he came from.

Joey ate his breakfast with his family at the table and together they hardly spoke to one another. Each of them in turn were busy picking up or setting plates or serving food as if they were trying to occuply their minds and slow down time. But the inevitable had come. It was time to leave home again.

Joey hugged his mother and took the money she offered into his hand. She always had a way of giving so much of herself in the money she could spare. He kissed her and said good-bye to his sister Helen. She was teary-eyed knowing the brother who stood up for her, believed in her and set the standard for what a strong young man should be--was now breaking away from the nest to find his own way in the world.

"It's a right-of-passage," his sister said. "Now do you rbest and come back home with a treasure of sacrifices and stories to tell."

The last to say good-bye was his father. Just before seeing him off outside Midland International Airport, he took his son in his arms and said only these words: "Don't forget my hands son and the years they labored to get you were you are today. I love you."


***********
...More to come later...
Stay tuned as I document the mental process for creating my second novel: "The Other Side of Glory."

~Bobby Ozuna
www.BobbyOzunaOnline.com
"Drawing Stories...With Words"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Recap on the 'controversy' behind "Proud Souls"

July 24, 2008

For those of you who aren't aware of this, "Proud Souls" began its life in controversy. It all began in the initial stages of preparing the finished manuscript for print--just after I made the decision to release the title under my own publishing company--Ozuna Publications. The first "press" that accepted my request to print Proud Souls turned me away as quickly as they said yes. Looking back now I think it's funny, but it wasn't funny at the time. To be quite honest, it hurt my feelings as much as it angered me.

The company is a small "christian" print press in the North Richland Hills (TX) area. I found them by chance when a friend of mine did some research to help me find a press to run my novel. I remember being very excited because as an independent author (for those of you out there) you know the costs associated with good print work for a book project are high, with minimal print runs in the thousands!!! This company accepted my request to run a mere 100 books. With my limited income at the time I figured I could sell the books via PayPal, package and ship them myself and the money I made would be enough to turn around another 100 books...and so on...and so on...etc... The objective was to run more books each time I sold 100 copies, thereby turning a greater profit percentage per book. In time I would get to a point where I could leave them and find a better press, who offered not only a better price-per-book (based on print run volume) but a better quality book. Needless to say, I never got that far with this particular company.

The day I went to pickup my first 100 copies of Proud Souls from this printing company, I felt something wasn't right. You know that gut instinct feeling you get when you know someone is up to no good? Well I had it...and my instincts proved me right again. I called the manager over, he showed me one copy of the book (which was part of the ORIGINAL 100 COPIES I sold) and then presented the cases of the books. He told me he would help load them in my truck and when I went to pay he lifted his hands, made a clapping motion and then said, "We don't want your money...we wash our hands of you and we wash our hands of this book."

This man stood there with this look on his face of disgust, as if somehow I did something to offend him personally. I looked around the counter and all the little cronies that worked there were hiding, huddled together as if I was going to go Postal on them. I couldn't believe it! I asked them why and the manager told me "...our boss doesn't want his employees putting (physically) their hands on this book."

With that I left...keeping my money and 100 (free) copies of Proud Souls. It wasn't until this week that I felt that way again...

Recently my book was purchased, read and ADORED by someone I just met. That person said they would share the book with a relative who was part of (not one, but) TWO book clubs in Arlington, Texas. I was very excited because I have been trying to get book clubs to accept Proud Souls as part of their reading list for some time now with NO LUCK. Well, it seems that relative read the book and guess what??? They LOVED the book too!!!

Now, you are probably saying, okay Bobby, how is this controversial??? Well it seems [that] the relative who LOVED my book told the person I just met--that they would NOT recommend my book to the book club for fear that members of the book club might judge her for reading my book. If you have read it, then you know its absurd but if you haven't, then I suppose you will have to make that determination yourself.

Proud Souls encompasses everything a good story should; from an archetypal standpoint it has everything from a general story viewpoint, it captivates every human emotion a reader could want from a novel: There is hate and love, longing and eroticism, confusion and clarity, joy and sadness. Anyone who reads the story will feel as though someone is playing tug-of-war with their emotions as I take the reader from one extreme to the other.

It has managed to find its way into the hearts of many readers, piled up some amazing reviews on Amazon.com and also found its way onto the shelves of a few independent bookstores. I have since landed a major print press and distributor and the book is registered with the Library of Congress and Ingram--meaning you can walk into any bookstore in the US and order a copy. As far as book clubs...well,
for now--NO BOOK CLUB for Proud Souls!!!

If anyone has suggestions as to how I might get a Book Club to take on Proud Souls as their next reading project, please, let me know! Until then... it will be left to the readers of the world to decide whether Proud Souls is a book to be shunned and hidden from friends and family or something worth embracing.

~Bobby Ozuna
"Drawing Stories...With Words"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"TheOtherSideofGlory"--July 22, 2008

Last night after working on the opening scenes for Chapter 1 of "The Other Side of Glory" I saw more of the storyline coming to life within my mind. Just after watching a little television with my wife Michele and my daughter Elizabeth and immediately after checking all the doors to make sure they were locked, I saw it, another scene that was already vague within my mind. So, as I have said before the story will continue just as it should, at just the right time.

So far the story opens in a (fictitious) prison setting--Huntsville's Walls Unit some forty-years from today (or actually some 40+ years from the setting of the novel). In that opening Prologue the audience is introduced to a character everyone knows as Pops. What we do know is this: He is old--older at least than the young inmate who is introduced as his new cellmate. I thought the young inmate's name was Josh Harding but just today a familiar and important "voice from my past" let me know the character's name is NOT Josh, but rather Jace. His name is Jace Harding and he my friends is the person telling this story. You can say he is the narrator despite me being the author. It doesn't make perfect sense right now, but it will in time...that I can promise.

Just before checking to make sure all the doors were locked and just after finishing a show with my wife Michele and my daughter Elizabeth, I saw more of the story within my imagination. I saw the "hero" of my story, Joe Allario, standing tall in his green Service Alpha's outside the Ellis Airport in Richlands, North Carolina. This story is going to take the reader from a prison in Texas, to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and back to Texas over the course of some 40+ years in the lives of Joey Allario and a man known as Michael "Mikey" Alaniz.

On that note I did hear Pops explaining something important to Jace Harding, but I couldn't make out his words...for some reason the sound within my mind was clouded. Does anyone know what you call the after-sound of a plane passing over your head? You know, you hear the roar of the engine and then the plane is gone, miles away but yet you still hear the sound and roar of the plane...and suddently its gone, sucked out of the sky like a vacuum?
Just curious..it's important for the storyline...

~Bobby Ozuna
"Drawing Stories...With Words"

Monday, July 21, 2008

"TheOtherSideofGlory"--July 21, 2008

On Friday night I finished typing the first draft to my Prologue for this second novel: The Other Side of Glory. I had to start typing this story over from page one, being the original "draft" from 2002 was destroyed. The only thing I had left of the original 18 chapters I discarded was a .PDF version of the Prologue and first two chapters I started re-typing in 2005, about the same time I transformed my 4,000 word short-story (the Cabin) into what is now my first novel: Proud Souls.

Trying to get back into character and follow a plot written years ago is hard--at least for me--so I started typing again, this time clearing my mind of any traces of Justin Bower or Tessa Jameson. On Monday the 14th, the first night of my re-write, I dreamt the opening scene to this story as clearly as you could see the imagery of a movie. In that dream I realized there were concepts missing in my written words--things such as smell, lighting and emotion. Don't ask me how I come about these things because honestly, I don't know. What I do know is this: Once I partake on a story and try to learn the characters, they reveal themselves to me in dreams while I sleep (when I can sleep) and in sounds and images that distort my vision while I am awake.

On Friday I began typing everything I had written free-hand; as I have said before I write my stories on paper and then transfer that material to typed text. It is that typed version of the story I dub DRAFT One or Two, etc. I spent five hours on Friday night--while my wife and kids were away--drawing the opening scene. There was a point where I stepped away and smoked a cigarette outside. It was dark and I was tired and I was ready to call it quits for the day. I only had approximately 5 more written pages to type before I realized I was going the wrong direction with the story. It wasn't a few seconds after lighting my cigarette [that] I saw the rest of the scene play out in my imagination. It was clear and detailed and it had substance, something I felt was missing from the original draft. I tossed the cigarette aside, ran to my computer and typed the final scene from the opening Prologue. After more than five hours of work I had overcome the first hurdle in this long process.

I have since dreamt the story only once, being I don't have much else written. Tonight I began typing the opening paragraphs to the first chapter. This is the part of the story where I will introduce the audience to both my protagonist and antagonist, each in opposing settings, contrasting the extreme differences in their characters. Remember, "The Other Side of Glory" is a play on the duality of man so my trick (for lack of a better word) is to draw the essence of one human divided into two entirely different human beings. One man will represent what society might deem as Good while the other will represent Evil. How good or how evil each us will have to be determined by the audience in their own way, as I can only create them as they are and portray them in story as they present themselves to me. No doubt however they will show themselves to me. Each in turn will master my thoughts and my mind and in doing so will transform a portion of their characteristics to me. I can only hope the lesser of the two evils doesn't overstay their welcome as that is the price for writing such realistic characters. That is the bain of my existence as a poet, herald and writer.

Someone asked me today how fast I can turn around this story and what "process" I use for completing the manuscript draft. My answer was this: There is no exact formula for writing a novel and I care little about what the experts say with their proven methods and fancy novel writing software. My attitude is this (and it's the reason why I have never taken a creative writing course--or any writing course for that matter): If my writing is truly a gift from God, something I was born with, then I am not going to taint it with shoddy advice from people who can't write, but rather decipher "better" means and alternatives for remembering the storyline, characters and plot. My stories come to me in visions, dreams and whispers. I see them, feel them and live with them until I dare to pour their stories onto paper. The more involved I become and the more of myself I give back to understanding the story--WITH an understanding of the concepts and fundamentals that make a story real--the easier it is to produce the finished product. I would suggest one thing if I had to suggest any outside "material" for understanding the concepts--not HOW--but the practiced methods for creating a story most people would follow. Read Joseph Campbell's "A Hero With A Thousand Faces" and follow-up with Christopher Vogler's "A Writer's Journey." If you can understand Mr. Campbell's philosophies and Mr. Vogler's methods for applying them into modern storytelling, then you are already one leg up on the competition.

Remember this though, it doesn't matter how well you are grammatically or how well you understand the concepts applied by Joseph Campbell or any other "expert" on how to write. In the end, if you can't tell a good story...there won't be anything worth reading anyhow...


~Bobby Ozuna
www.BobbyOzunaOnline.com
"Drawing Stories...With Words"

Friday, July 18, 2008

"Drawing the Story"--July 18th, 2008

It's time to write that novel...

Yesterday I began journaling the experience of writing my follow-up novel to Proud Souls. My next story is one I began work on in early 2002, but like my previous story, it was discarded because I didn't like it and I didn't think it was good enough. Well, good enough or not—this time around—I am pressing forward.

The time has come to open the gates of my imagination and allow the worlds beyond the worlds of my mind to take form on paper. But unlike Proud Souls, I am going to journal—or blog—the entire novel writing experience, not so much from the (boring) business aspect of "this is how you publish your book" but instead from the methodical aspect of tearing out your soul, wrestling with the demons of your mind and ultimately pouring your words onto the canvas of your soul.

I will share all the dirty details and pains-taking experience I endure as I listen to the whispers of the characters borne in my mind, and bring their story to life in what will be my second novel: "The Other Side of Glory."

I hope you partake on this journey with me, which naturally, won't end overnight. It took me roughly four months in mid-2005 to write the bulk of Proud Souls—that being 60,000 words (roughly) in less than 120 days. Naturally, it would take one more year and numerous re-writes to complete my debut literary novel, but that isn't the point of this concept or project. Instead, I hope to share enough of myself and the process of writing a novel, that (a) I can gain new fans and friends, (b) gather momentum as I move towards publishing (or having this novel published) and lastly (c) prove beyond any reasonable doubt, that writing a book isn't easy—but it isn't impossible.

If you stay with me over the course of this blogging experience you should (at the very least) discover your own strength to complete the story that has lived within your soul. Don't be afraid to take a chance on your talent…if you have felt the urge to write, then pickup the pen and do it.

*If you missed my recent radio interview with Linda Bagwell, host of Weatherford College's "Books-N-Authors", click here to listen.*


~Bobby Ozuna
Texas Writer & Author
www.BobbyOzunaOnline.com
"Drawing Stories…With Words"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

And Now Introducing..."The Other Side of Glory"

This week I have embarked on a familiar path on a new journey. I have made up my mind to begin writing my second novel, which I have selected from the many first chapters I have written for multiple potential novels over the years. The story is one that I began writing in 2002, only (like Proud Souls before it) to be discarded after eighteen chapters and one year of work. I didn't like, not my writing style at the time nor where or how the story should be written with regards to point-of-view. I struggled at first with writing the story in First Person--but knowing the story is so close to personal experiences despite being fiction--I felt too many people would assume the novel was autobiographical. That and I didn't want people to look at me weird. I tried writing it in Third Person but couldn't determine who would be telling the story--as in which character. In the end it was a chance conversation with a very good friend of mine by the name of Manny Loya that I discovered (or rather, the story discovered me) the means to open the novel I will entitle: "The Other Side of Glory."


"
The Other Side of Glory" is my tribute to the time, sacrifices, friendships, dreams and realities of my younger days and my time in the US Marines. Unfortunately, for those of you Hoo-Rah! hard charging Devil Dogs out there or warmongers who appreciate a good military tale, this probably won't be the story for you. I am sticking to my traditional means of writing fiction, using my own flare for enticing an audience, focusing on the struggles of the human condition as I attempt to transform characters as they take the stage in their archetypal roles to create a coming-of-age story of the essence of Good versus Evil.

In my attempt to write this second novel, I must be honest when I say (and every aspiring writer out there should adhere to this warning) it isn't easy nor does the personal satisfaction always outweigh the emotional costs of drawing stories with words. Already in this week I have written an opening Prologue, and on the first night after writing it, I have dreamt the scenes, realizing what was missing in the opening pages. In that initial dream I was introduced (more thoroughly) to the introductory characters, still uncertain how much of a significance they will play. As I have said before, my stories develop in time, as do the characters, and in time--as I succumb to the faint whispers of their voices within my head--they introduce more of themselves and in revealing their secrets and sins, the story becomes more and more complete.

I am going to try something different with this novel. I am going to journal my experiences--mostly the emotional aspect of creating the characters, storyline, plot, etc--in my blog as part of enhancing the experience for the readers. I feel you can get to know me more as a writer, if you know what I am thinking while writing my next book, and perhaps learn to appreciate the completed novel more, when you understand the complexity and emotional turmoil some of us undergo as we (as I am so fond of saying...) draw our stories with words.

So, today I would like to share a (draft) portion of the Prologue to my second novel: "The Other Side of Glory."

I hope you stay with me during the course of this experience, from draft, to thought, to idea, to completed manuscript and ultimately published novel. I think it will be a great experience for all of us and if anything, prove just how crazy I am.


"The Other Side of Glory"
PROLOGUE:



Ask an old man who has spent his years providing a means for his family under the Texas sun to describe the summer heat and he might say it feels as hot as Hell. Ask a State Correctional Officer in the Huntsville prison system and they might say Hell is the place they work, where they clock-in and clock-out in efforts to support a family who will only become disenchanted with them in time, because of the severity by which the emotional turmoil takes its toll on prison workers. Ask a young Marine who has served his country abroad during nonetheless—“peacetime”—and he might say Hell is the emotional state by which men struggle to survive as the natural human instinct to destroy and the condition by which he has been trained wrestles with the notion that he is meant for greater things and somehow he was destined to be the light upon a hill. A beacon of salvation for all humanity. Even still he might say, it is the psychological struggle of the lion borne in each of them, shaken from their bowels, dusted and set loose for all anarchy and rage, only to be caged in spite of the Light they were meant to represent, guardians of peace and justice in an unjust world—the keepers of the very gates of Heaven themselves; He and his brothers might say they were men destined still by the right of their actions to defend a Heaven that will not have them, but instead banish them to the confines of Hell to wage war with the legions of Satan’s army for all eternity.

Somehow that prison guard, that husband and father and yes, even the lowly Marine can at different times all be correct in their interpretations of Hell. It isn’t the existence or the beauty and wonder of Heaven that separates them; on the contrary, their internal faith is the mortar by which they are bound. And sadly, it is the part of their true existence rarely seen or understood because of the external belief and acknowledgement of Hell that seems to pour from their souls.

If you had the chance to ask the man they called Pops, he would have said as passionately as any poet, that Hell was a fictional realm created to scare children, referenced by every religion known under the stars to give balance to their amazing heavens they have portrayed in fantasy, fairy-tale and faith; but in reality, it was a psychological world created within the minds of those who lost their humanity and whose names were scratched from all eternity because of the mishaps created by the demons within the minds of man.; the same demons that drive a husband and father away from his children. It is an ever-present life-force which can drive a man insane, suffocating him and tormenting him to the point where all reality becomes a dream and in an instance, all life passes before his eyes and every story ends the same—behind bars, locked-up and stored away forever—lost to the soul of the world in long corridors of space and in time, altogether forgotten.

And into that same long corridor of the forgotten came two prison guards—one old and one young—escorting between them the State’s newest inmate. He walked with his head down, careful not to make eye contact with any of the other inmates he passed along the way. It was late, so most of the prisoners were in bed, pretending to sleep and others were just beginning their long night of battle with the demons of their minds.





~Bobby Ozuna
Texas Writer & Author
www.BobbyOzunaOnline.com
"Drawing Stories...With Words"







Sunday, July 13, 2008

LIVE from Books N Authors Radio Show

Interview with Linda Bagwell of Weatherford College's "Books-N-Authors & All That Jazz" radio program, recorded LIVE on Saturday, July 12th, 2008.

MP3 File

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

"Bobby Ozuna: LIVE from Weatherford College"

Dear Friends, Family and Fans:

You are cordially invited to partake in my first official (LIVE) radio interview with Linda Bagwell, host of the “Books-N-Authors” show located at the campus of Weatherford College in Parker County.

The interview will be conducted via LIVE broadcast on Parker County’s own KYQX (FM 89.5), including her sister stations KMQX (FM 88.5) & KSQX (FM 88.1).

For those of you outside the North Texas region, you can listen to the broadcast live on Saturday morning, July 12th, @ 10AM (CST) via KYQX’s streaming audio site:

Website: http://www.kyqx.com/

*Simply click on the link “KYQX” on the main toolbar*

Time & Date: Saturday July 12th, @ 10:00AM (Central Standard Time)

Interview Focus: My debut literary novel, “Proud Souls” and my accomplishments (as well as my short-comings) as an independently published author.


I look forward to hearing your feedback and I appreciate your support!!!

Help me spread the word and prove how a lot of hard work, research, dedication (and a little luck and support of your fellow writers/readers) can boost the most humble of literary projects.

FUND a School Project today!!!

"Proud Souls" on Amazon.com

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