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Monday, April 25, 2016
Friday, April 15, 2016
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Novellas, no sweat.
Short stories, a breeze.
But when it comes to writing anything from 50,000 to 100,000 words, it takes me forever.
So when I sat down, way back in 2005, fresh after completing my second novel, I decided to waste no time and get started on the third novel. I wrote five chapters, got distracted, walked away from the computer and would tinker here and there with it from time to time. Understand, I wasn't bored with the story. I just had this thing called life to deal with. Many things needed to happen first before I would get Pickpocket Frankie out into the world. I've moved, several times. Got married, our daughter was born. I went through many different jobs and I also transferred this book across three different computers. One was a desktop that needed 30 minutes to boot up. The second was a laptop that weighed twenty pounds, and now, finally, the one I'm writing on now.
I've jotted notes about this book on old receipts, spiral notebooks and even emailed notes to myself.
Microsoft Word tells me that, all told, the actual writing time took only 34 hours and 14 minutes. But that doesn't account for the 11 years I spent preparing it.
See, nobody sees the background, the errant thoughts, the distractions, or the weight of carrying a story around in your head through your daily life or when you're at your lowest. They just see the final product. And, if you were to record yourself actually writing the book, it would be very boring. Writing is an internal solitary task. But creating these characters, forming their stories and even having room for crossover characters is one of the biggest joys of my life.
As it stands, it is currently 41,821 words. According to Amazon, that's roughly 183 pages on kindle. There are 37 chapters to the book so far but I think it will be 45 chapters at the end and just over the 50,000 word mark. Most crime novels are 50k and for a good reason; they are written succinctly. It seems like there are no wasted words.
I've been posting my updates on Twitter quite frequently. I just get so excited about the process of storytelling, I had to tell someone. Had to get it out there.
Well, I said that I would get back to the crime fiction book. Every time I see a blank page is effin terrifying. pic.twitter.com/nXxHCMUTYp— Roberto Scarlato (@robertoscarlato) March 9, 2016
#PickpocketFrankie Update: at 38,000 words now. A chase scene ensued. Frankie is at his lowest.— Roberto Scarlato (@robertoscarlato) April 10, 2016
#PickpocketFrankie Update: I've learned so much about New York in the past year, I feel like I've been there already.— Roberto Scarlato (@robertoscarlato) April 10, 2016
#PickpocketFrankie Update: Hard to imagine that I've been tinkering with this idea on and off since 2005.— Roberto Scarlato (@robertoscarlato) April 10, 2016
#PickpocketFrankie Update: Oh snap! I just realized that two of my novels are connected by one character. This. Changes. Everything.— Roberto Scarlato (@robertoscarlato) April 15, 2016
And on July 4th, maybe even a little bit earlier than that, Pickpocket Frankie will make its debut on Kindle. Am I nervous? Of course. But that's beside the point. Even if no one reads it, I'll still be happy. Because extracting this story out of my brain felt great.
Like I said, short stories are easy. In terms of setup, plot and execution, you can accomplish that in 10 to 20 pages and find a way to end it. But novels are a different breed. For me, the beginning is always the easiest. The ending is something hidden away that you have to be patient for. And the middle is the sagging, droopy mess you have to figure out. To hold a readers attention consistently without breaking the tone is a herculean task. It also involved me having to admit to myself that I couldn't write the next chapter because I needed to grow as a writer. I needed to read more. I needed to let my ideas develop on their own. I needed my characters to speak for me.
Frankie's been with me a long time. On the outside, he's a wise-ass with daddy issues. But he surprised me with his resourcefulness, his optimistic wit and his willingness to tell me, point blank, "No, Roberto, I wouldn't do that in the story. Move over. Let me drive for a while."
And so now, I humbly as you to Pre-order a copy of Pickpocket Frankie today. And don't forget to share on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. And I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.
And, as always, keep writing.
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Got a brand new thing going on in terms of audiobooks. To date, I've narrated 64 titles. My longest one was 19 hours and my shortest was 26 mins. I've done a variety of genres and I am not stopping anytime soon.
But I want to include you.
To the man or woman who is not looking forward to that hour and a half commute to work and would want to listen to something interesting. To the person at work who is allowed to listen to their iPod. To the person who wants to build up their own audiobook library with great quality titles.
There is no expiration date on this new event. The only catch is that you will have to rate the book on either audible or amazon. You will also need to write a review. Audible has a great guideline system for reviewing a book. But the review must be honest and at least 3 sentences long.
And the best part about this is its absolutely Free!
Check out this website to see the growing list of titles:
Just email me at email@example.com and we'll get you started. :)
Here's a brief peek of one of the audiobooks I have narrated:
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Today I am an hour later, a bit calmer and in a totally different mindset.
On Friday, we packed up our car and a rental van and headed to a new future. Now, I had lived in Illinois for the majority of my life. I've only taken a couple trips here and there but I had always felt land-locked by whatever job I was doing at the time.
I've been to Wisconsin a few times. One time I got lost there.
I've been to Missouri but that was for my grandma's funeral.
And, or course, there was our trip to Pennsylvania.
But I've visited Michigan before. I liked it.
So we took the I-290 through Chicago. We left at Noon and quickly encountered heavy bumper-to-bumper traffic. And in that traffic, I started to get anxious. It was 30 degrees outside. I had my shades on, my red baseball cap and a coat that I borrowed from my father.
Right then, a loud voice shouted inside my head "THIS WILL NOT WORK!"
Then my stomach kept rolling into knots, warning me that I was going to throw up. I started breathing deep, in and out, just to stave off my upset stomach. Desperately I started turning the dial on the radio, thinking that if I heard a song I recognized, that would comfort some part of my brain with familiarity. But, somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that this was a big change. I didn't want to have a panic attack right there on the road.
In the lane ahead, my wife was driving the rental van with my daughter in the child seat and my mother-in-law in the back seat. It was then that I began reliving my days living next to the windy city. It does have character, but it also has scars. Everything is cramped and foreboding. But on other days it's bright and scenic. I guess my whole life I've been weighing the beauty of Chicago against the ugliness. I can honestly say that I've had a love/hate relationship with Chicago.
Sure, I loved driving to different book events to see an author I admired and get a book signed. But when the rest of the nation is calling your city Chi-raq, you tend to take notice. The news would debut each night with a shooting (Gang activity, stray bullet, etc). I've heard guns fired so many times it became normal. Now, I know there's violence everywhere, but this felt like in was in our face daily.
Michigan held a new start.
My wife pulled over in a gas station after an hour and a half. We had taken a wrong turn and I needed to take a breath. I got some gum, some water, went to the bathroom, hopped in the car and we took off once more.
When we passed the sign saying welcome to Indiana, I started to breathe easier. I was basically following the van, only had to look at the google map and directions a few times. So from Noon to 5:30 all I did was drive, all the while listening to the radio. This time around I didn't mind listening to songs I had never heard before. Like a Prayer from Madonna came on along with Hello From The Other Side from Adele.
Then, the first change. My favorite radio stations were noticeably disappearing. 91.5 (Npr), 100.3, 101.1, 101.9, 103.5, and 104.3 were giving way to static. I had to scan through to find some new stations. An unhealthy amount of country songs flooded the radio. And as we were passing into Michigan, I found NPR was now on 91.1, featuring an interview with Carol Burnett. Heard she was recently receiving an AFI Award. Listened to it for a while and found out Burnett had a chin job done during the filming of Annie (A movie my daughter watches like crazy.) If you look for it, you can see she has a different chin when she comes out of the mail room and starts singing with Tim Curry and Bernadette Peters.
There was also a segment where a son recounted how his father stopped speaking Spanish in his family because he was dismayed every time someone treated him differently when he spoke it. But now, with his son grown up, he wanted to see if his father still spoke it.
I connected with this story a little bit. I was raised with my Papa speaking both Italian and Spanish. I understand very little of it. As I was growing up, I noticed that Italians were sometimes stereotyped as obnoxious, loud and under-educated. (That Jersey Shore show didn't help, either.) I may be loud at times, but I read constantly and love researching history and learning about different cultures. And I had always heard that Michigan was different; a different way of life altogether.
The stress was gone. Our target was Bay City.
We stopped at a gas station/McDonald's to refuel. Then we got back on the road from 5:50 to 8:30. Hard to believe we had driven over 300 miles.
Things are not only different, they're better.
I don't hear sirens constantly.
The sidewalks are wider.
It seems like every thing you need to get to is only 5 minutes away.
People are friendlier.
The city has a lot of history, some buildings dating back to the 1920's.
You can actually park in front of a house without getting ticketed.
I've spent 3 days here and haven't seen one cop car.
I, along with others, needed a break from the hustle and bustle and just needed to slow down. Meanwhile, my budding career as a Voiceover Artist has been speeding up. I also wanted to focus on my own writing, as I'd like to format those into audio books as well. So yes, this has been a big change. But I feel rejuvenated and optimistic about the future. With narrating audio books, you can be flexible and record anywhere. Also, the best thing about being your own boss, you don't have to beg for days off and you can work at your own pace. I'm happier now and it feels great. More news to come.
Oh, and keep writing...
Sunday, October 18, 2015
|"...Must write, must write, must write, write, write, write..."|
So, as it turns out, I happen to be a pretty decent narrator. During the summer of 2014 I made a pretty big decision. I decided to toss my hat into the world of audio narration, after several people told me I should use my voice to my advantage. After 20 or so auditions, the offers began to increase. All of a sudden, I was paying bills with this kind of work. And because of that unexpected turnout, I decided to take a sabbatical (or dry spell, really) on all of my writing. I just completely cut it off.
All the story streams, thoughts, urges, everything...I suppressed them.
Now, after having done 50+ books, narrating everything from zombies, dramas, suspense, horror, action, erotica, you name it....the itch to write has returned. And it has grown stronger than ever.
At this point, I have about 8 books that need to be finished with production by the end of the year. I can think of no better time to jump back into writing than right now. Writing has always been my solace. It warms me, comforts me, calms me. Very therapeutic. It's sort of like playing Chess with yourself. I've always had a knack for figuring out sticky situations and I love to entertain people in the process. And hey, if I make a couple of bucks with it, all the better, right?
Therefore, I hereby declare that my self-inflicted writing ban has been lifted. Now, at least by making a blogpost about it, that will give my mind permission to unlock the flood gates that have been building up for so long. It's kind of exciting when you think about it. Will I be able to ride that wave of creativity again? Or will I wipe out and need to refresh my memory.
In other news, even though I have 8 books that I have to finish narrating, I have been thinking about turning some more of my works into audio editions.
The first of my works, I narrated myself, a short novella called Village Americana. You can listen to it by clicking on the cover below.
The second was a short story called Ye Olde Idea Shoppe. I wrote this for my daughter and had it narrated by the talented Maxine Lennon. You can also listen to it here.
But I would love to produce audio editions of For What It's Worth, Worth a Second Look, Mr. Dead Eyes and Wearing Donnie Torr. I've always wanted to narrate these titles myself. And who knows? If I start writing more, I could start narrating more of my stories. Then I would feel the full accomplishment of being a full-time Storyteller.