Stick a Fork In It

After the many days, months and yes, even years, I’ve completed the ninth draft of my novel Mariline. From here it will go through a program call Grammarly to work out the grammatical kinks that befall even the greatest sage. Then I have been speaking with a developmental editor, which will take their red pen to my words, my baby and with hope will not be too sharp with the scissors. I have to say I am feeling good about this work. I think it stands up with the best writing I’ve ever done, and all that other blah-blah egotistical authors would say. I am looking forward to their review.

Just to give you some background on the novel, it is a paranormal drama I started in 2010 for NANOWRIMO. The plot had been kicked around for many years, although it did not start as a paranormal drama at the time. The elevator pitch goes something like:


In suburban Mainline Philadelphia, Carol is the nanny and surrogate mother for Emily, whose parents have died, or so she thought. When Emily is kidnapped, how far will Carol go to save Emily from Emily’s abusive father?


That’s the basis, but you guys know it is more than that. We’ll see what happens with the developmental editor.

Mariline Update

beautiful girl with long hair in dark forest developingHe sat and mulled through the piles of chapters he had already thrown out. “What if I bring back this one,” he thought as he took another sip of coffee. In the early morning of a gray rainy day, everything looked like it could fit back into his story, but after seven drafts he should have it down to just editing. “Every draft is the first draft,” he thought. “Every draft is a chance to bring my story back to life. It had sat moribund for way too long. Mariline must be resurrected.”


That’s how I’ve been lately. My book is on life support. Mariline. I’ve written it from several perspectives, but Kim had gotten it right. I need to tell the story that I set out to do. So I’ve been spending time in the mythical Swedesford Township, Pennsylvania hanging out with the Fynn brothers that started this all. I am trying to get into the brother’s heads to better understand them and how to write them better. Also, I am learning to understand Max Benike, police Lieutenant and how they all fit together.


It is a story about baggage, people’s history and how it drives us. It is a story about life repeating itself. It is a story of the paranormal influencing our life and contributing to our death.

On the surface, we have a hit and run, something the police understand very clearly.   Benike has been on the trail of a murderer for over twenty years, and he has a new clue to investigate. Behind the scenes an accidental drowning, and how it fractures a father, and the impact on the kids. “We are all born with blood on our hands,” Detective Sergeant, Carla Ruiz tells Benike. “It depends on if we get caught as to how guilty we are.”

Spoon Girl: an explanation

spoon_girl_right_angleBefore you get any ideas that you think I know something about writing, I’ll let you in on a little secret. In 2012, I wrote and published Spoon Girl all in six months. At the time, I was excited about the story and couldn’t wait to spread my new found skills as a writer. I did my best to edit, but in hindsight I really need to leave it up to professional. Seeing my first book published was one of the triumphs of my life, having spent most of it like a fly on a wall for the rest of the world; people only noticed me when I was buzzing around them. I was mostly ignored. Of course, after I was published, people still ignored me, but I was on my way to being a big time writer. My great novel would have Hollywood busting down my door, wanting to produce my story into a movie. If you read Spoon Girl, you would know one of Jonathan’s (the main character) journeys is very similar, he writes a novel, and it becomes a movie. The book is deeper than that. Or I meant it to be deeper. His journey is more of self-realization and, spoiler alert, her journey too.

Jonathan “Jack” McVoy is the pseudonym for Jane Powers. Jane is a writer who was rejected as a writer when she wrote as female, but when she uses a pseudonym as a male, she is celebrated and thus becomes her internal conflict. We all have male and female parts and accepting them as they are is excepting ourselves. In the end, Jane accepts herself as she is, and eventually so does the public.

I entered my book into the Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards. Here is the review I received:
2nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards
Entry Title Spoon Girl
Author: EJ Eisman
Judge Number: 3
Entry Category: Mainstream/Literary Fiction

Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”. This scale is strictly to provide a point of reference, it is not a cumulative score and does not reflect overall ranking. Ratings are not tallied, and are not reflective of placement in the competition judging. Our system only recognizes numerals during this portion of logging evaluations. As a result, a “0” is used in place of “N/A” when the particular portion of the evaluation simply does not apply to the particular entry, based on the entry genre. For example, a book of poetry or a how to manual would not necessarily have a “Plot and Story Appeal” and may therefore receive a “0”. A rating of a “0” does NOT indicate a low rating.

*If you wish to reference this review on your website, we ask that you cite it as such: “Judge, 2nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards.” You may cite portions of your review, if you wish, but please make sure that the passage you select is appropriate, and reflective of the review as a whole.
In some cases, you may see special or out of place characters/symbols in your commentary. For example, you may see that a character/symbol replaces an apostrophe, copyright, and other “symbols”. These substitutions occur for various reasons – and are unavoidable. They are often [programming] misinterpretations due to encoding, installed fonts, web based content/sources etc. Since the “content”[data] of the commentary is comprised of data sent from several different computers (programs, fonts etc.,) and from the internet (online entry system), you may at times see an interpretation of what had been an apostrophe, dash, quotation mark etc.

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 2
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 1
Production Quality and Cover Design: 0
Plot and Story Appeal: 2
Character Appeal and Development: 2
Voice and Writing Style: 2

Judge’s Commentary*:
This was a very confusing novel. “Spoon Girl” by E. J. Eisman is the story of a Nobel Prize nominated writer, his muse, and his collaborator. Jack McVoy and Jane Powers have written a novel, Spoon Girl. Jack has passed away and Jane is on her first book signing tour. But, the real Spoon Girl shows up at one of the signings. This sends the reader on a journey for the “true” story. But who is who? What is real?
It is a very interesting story idea and the characters of Jack, Jane, and Lisa are interesting and could hold the reader’s imagination. Finally unraveling the story of these characters could be a wonderful novel.
But there are way to many grammatical errors, misused words, run on sentences, partial phrases, and such that the novel is very hard to read , to follow and to understand. It jumps back and forth in time and between who is telling the story that the reader will be confused. Some very strong editing is needed to get this novel and this story where it needs to be.

I’m sorry that my book has caused confusion. Perhaps thinking of what is happening to Jack is a metaphor for what is happening to Jane in real life. It is a concept book. It’s a book of memories, and as with memories they have a tendency to jump around in time. Perhaps the trouble is that is written from Jack’s perspective for three-quarters of the book. At the beginning of the book, Jack is dying. The concept of Jack is dying. Knowing that Jack is a non de plume for Jane might make it easier to understand but that is a mystery; the characters we are forced to play in real life (Jack) in order to be noticed and the hidden parts everyone(Jane). Is it a love story? Yes! Is it a mystery? Yes! The story is all there.

I think Spoon Girl is a good book. I have gotten positive reviews from people. If it was better edited, it could be an excellent book. Publishing my first novel was a learning experience, and I will do better in the future.

Goodreads’ Questions

wpid-img_20140724_122751_425.jpgBeing a Goodreads author, they’ve invited me to answer questions of my fans and dissidents. To start the ball rolling they’ve provided me with the following to shake the cobwebs:

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I try to avoid it as much as I can. I keep to my scheduled time of writing and if I’m not working on my book, I blog, I work on short stories, or plot out something I’m already working on. I have lots of ideas. Just because I’m not putting them down on paper doesn’t mean I’m working. Playing out scenarios in my head helps later when I sit down at the keyboard. Steven King says something like just suck it up and do it. You want to be professional? You have to act professional. “Sorry, boss, I don’t feel like doing that today,” will get you where? I go to a number of writing circles, and they offer that you pick a number of words you could write in a day, say 200 words. You ask yourself with the worst day you could image (dog dying, cat eats the fish, kid breaks leg, flat tire, etc.) could you write 200 words? 200?   Sure? Set that as a goal and stick to it. It exercise for the mind, and like other exercises for it to have an effect, you need to keep at it.  Write? RIGHT!

Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?

I was dating a nanny I met on in 2009.  One day, we were lying in bed, and the idea came to me; what if she was working as a nanny for my estranged ex-wife, didn’t know it, and the child went missing?  I played out a number of scenarios in my head and in 2010 (she abruptly dumped me in March, and was doing the single thing at the time) I wrote in the NaMo thing and wrote a version of the book.  It’s changed many times since then (5+ drafts), but it still follows the themes about personal security on the internet, giving second chances, and everyone has baggage.

How do you get inspired to write?

I find my relationships are what inspire me to write.   Not that I write directly about them, but they sometimes provide genesis for ideas.  I try to keep a schedule to write at work over my lunch time.  I put on Mozart and let the music take me.  I can usually bang out ~1000 words in an hour, but I plan out and think about what I’m going to write before I do.

What are you currently working on?

The book is called Mariline.  I like to call it a paranormal thriller.  It’s a tri-angle between two brothers and a nanny.   The one brother, Kevin, is an ex-cop, ex-heroin addict.  The other brother, Aiden, is trying to rehabilitate Kevin.  Carol, the nanny, is dating Aiden, not knowing she’s working for Kevin’s estranged ex-wife.   Mariline is the ghost of the drowned daughter of Kevin that appears when Kevin gets out of rehab, and sets things into motion.

 What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Read and write often.  Believe in your work.   Every day is full of learning and living experiences, use them wisely.  If the work is personal to you, it will be to the reader.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

All the frequent flyer miles you rack up in your brain.  I’m out of my body so much, being other people and seeing other places, all in my mind, sometimes it feels like a vacation.   It’s fun to go away, with old friends (my characters) and make their lives miserable.  My problems don’t seem so bad after that.

A first sentence like any other, the book would wither and die…

mug-first linesKim was looking through her Facebook and found among the ads a mug for sale with famous first lines from novels.  It got us both thinking about how powerful some first lines in literature.  There are some great ones.  The American Book Review lists 100 of them and by reading them, you can feel drawn in.  Great stories start with great first lines, and as I write Mainline, I am thinking about changing my first line, yet again.  Just thinking about how long some novels and how their first lines have been around for so long….”best of times, worst of times…” I wonder what the novelists would think if they knew their first lines are still remembered, and now adorned on a mug.  I love the idea.  I’d like to think in the future, readers will remember and read the first line of one of my novels from a piece of fired clay.

Check out some of these other first lines from this link.

Top 10 from the website:

1. Call me Ishmael. —Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)

2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)

3. A screaming comes across the sky. —Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)

4. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. —Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa)

5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. —Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)

6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett)

7. riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. —James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939)

8. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984 (1949)

9. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

10. I am an invisible man. —Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

EJ Eisman is the author of the novels Spoon Girl and Malaise, published by AuthorHouse. He resides in Reading, PA and is also a musician, artist, playwright, actor and filmmaker.

eBook Special!

spoon_girl_right_angle Malaise-right-angle- authorhouse eBooks for Malaise and Spoon Girl are now each seductively priced at $1.99!

If you thought about joining the growing cache of Jonathan “Jack” McVoy followers now is the time.

Check out

Sunday Writer’s Coffeehouse

barnsandnoblebooksellers Solomon Jones of the Liar’s Club ran the Writer’s Coffeehouse, Sunday at the Willow Grove, PA Barnes and Noble. It was good meeting. He stressed that if you like to write and want to be a writer, don’t give up! He had 39 rejection letters from agents and 11 rejections from publishers before he was published.
Here are some notes from the meeting:

Things to think about if you are going to self-publish:
You must wear many hats: author, publicist, marketing of you product

4 “P”s of marketing:
Product or service

Who are you writing for? Know your target audience. You should be writing about your target audience.

Books are available at bookstores, libraries, and schools. Solomon talked about writing a book and creating a whole curriculum around it to talk about social issues and market it to schools as an option.

Looking to move up from self-publisher? Concentrate on selling your books online or at bookstores and maybe the publishers will come after you instead of you having to chase them. Selling out of the trunk of a car doesn’t move up your sales numbers. Some private bookstores might sell on consignment.

Some links:

Save the Cat (screenwriting)

From Where you Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction


Malaise: review 4 Stars



Reviewed by Bil Howard

Following the termination of an emotional affair with a co-worker, Simone, Jonathan turns first to a bottle of Jack Daniels and then to the maternal security of his wife’s sister Joan in order to dull the pain of a loveless marriage to Claire and his longing for Simone. Simone is also in a loveless marriage to a man who abuses her and she turns to other means of “medicating” away her pain. Joan is a never-married, businesswoman whose life runs on a strict schedule, which is her way of avoiding being drawn too deep into a relationship. Claire has turned the abuse that she experienced in her first marriage around and directs her hurt toward Jonathan, who is too weak to resist her abuse. As the story continues, the psychological factors revolving around each of the players play their part. Each finds that they run the entire gamut of emotions and escapes, searching for an answer to their inner turmoil. The twists and turns will eventually lead to an answer. Whether desired or not, the consequences of their actions will come back around to each one unless they do something to stop the downward spiral.
In E.J. Eisman’s book Malaise, there is a picture of cause and effect clearly portrayed and brought into the light. As each character in the story searches through their own psychological reaction to the world and the relationships around them, they are continually given new opportunities to change and are continually experimenting with different ways to escape, while still doggedly holding onto the very things which are destroying them. This is an excellent look into the reality of relationships which are abusive on the one hand and submissive on the other. The reader will feel themselves moving through each aspect of the relationships and examining, judging, and perhaps even finding themselves wanting to give each a good talking to or a sound slap in the face. This is an excellent read for someone who enjoys exploring the human psyche.