|Girl, Friend: Rodger Atkins, an ex-boy band member from the eighties, is thrust into international intrigue in Key West after he goes broke, befriends a local bookshop keeper and his friend is assassinated. Stopping World War Three is maybe just another day at work for some people, but for Rodger, it’s the key to his keeping him out of jail.|
He 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.”
As I’m looking through the resumes of potential applicants for intern this coming school year, I am reminded of interns past, the specter of them still haunting my writing room, filling my senses with wit, charm, and way too much perfume. I thought this would be a good time to get you caught up on what they have been doing, and to make those applying feel vastly inferior, and tremendously insecure, although perusing these pathetic pages of prose it doesn’t seem that I need to try that much. So, to catch you up on last year’s crew of three, Miss X, Mister Y (the man-slut), and Miss Z, all English students at a local college, you might remember that Miss X and Mister Y were having a thing. Well that didn’t last. I know, SURPRISE! But I did get a high five for bringing them together. They were happy while it lasted, but they remain bitter enemies. Like cats and dogs, they have their politeness for a few moments and then like a scene out of Wolverine, out come the claws. I guess that’s what happens when you date a man-slut. Here is a update to their status.
Miss X: Still in college, looking to graduate with a Bachelors of Arts in English, in 2015. She’s on to dating someone new. She’s changed her hair color to dirty blond, and she still likes to read James Patterson and Jodi Picoult, and writing poetry. She misses the time she spent here, and is looking forward to hearing about the next group of people coming in. I remember her as the organizer for the group. She had a plan for everything, and was very organized. Took great notes, and made me sound better than I should.
Mister Y: Still in college, looking to graduate with Bachelors of Arts in Communications. He has a job working for the Fightin’ Phillies (AA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies), in the main office (getting coffee, donuts, etc.), but sometimes appears in costume on the diamond. His band, Kudos, broke up, but he’s looking to start another, soon, before he loses the calluses on his fingers. He is into the Robert Ludlum Bourne series, Tom Clancy and Tony Gilroy. His times here will always be remembered, so he says! We shared a love for whiskey, and the way he can put it down, I don’t think he’ll have many brain cells left. I know I don’t have too many left, either. LOL! I miss the music jam sessions we had when we couldn’t think of things to write.
Miss Z: Graduated this year with a B. A. in English and is looking for a job (any takers?) She keeps up her blog site on cheese making, and is spending her down time writing her first novel, about nineteenth century French monks who developed specific cheeses. I’ve given her all the encouragement I could, about the novel, and she still asks me all kinds of questions! She reads historic novels and has some stories (I hope none make it to her cheese blog), about her intern time here and researching Malaise and (what became the) Mariline novel. She was an excellent researcher, and the fastest Googler in the west. If you needed an answer for something, she would have it before you could even ask. I’d like her on speed dial if I ever made it to “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”
I wish them well. I miss them writing the blogs for me, organization, and researching, but with a new group, there is new blood, and that brand new car smell. So if it seems like I’m not myself, well, you’ll know why. Here is to the new interns! See what you have to look forward to?
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 Match.com 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.
I’m so frustrated, I could make spaghetti with ketchup. Anyone that knows me that is like fighting words, vomit, or like finding out that McDonald’s is dropping the seasonal McRib sandwich again; there is anger, dismay, a feeling of being out of control. I’m all about the San Marzano tomatoes, a can of paste, and a cup of wine when I make spaghetti sauce. Mangled pork, in any configuration, with plenty of barbeque sauce, onions, pickles, etc. should be on the menu all the time. The McRib is like the McDonald’s version of White Castle Hamburgers; I buy them by the sack! Writing sometimes frustrates me to the point where I feel like I’m writing ‘spaghetti with ketchup’ instead of taking the time to make the good stuff. It’s a challenge sitting at the computer, setting the focus of my mind, turning on the music, and go into another world for a while. Writing is one of those things that can be described as agony and ecstasy. Guess what I’m feeling now? It’s been a whole week since I’ve had the chance since I’ve put the preverbal ‘pen to paper’ but today I had some free time over lunch to go into my special world. Most real writers have the cavalier attitude of ‘just do it’ and when I’m in that zone, I can crank out words as much as anyone. Well, not anyone, but at least as good as average literate person. I can spin a phrase or two and soon I’m looking at the bottom of the page ready to go on to the next.
I guess I’m a little concerned. I’ve been revising my new novel Mariline, and I’ve been making some major changes. Yes, it worked fine the way it was, but ‘fine’ is just not enough. I want people to ask questions, wonder, want to rip off all their clothes, punch their neighbors, and scratch their head. I threw out the last 10 chapters and rendered an entirely new ending. I think it’s really come together. I’ve cut scenes. I’ve edited down others to make it streamline, accessible, and clean. It gets right to the story, it doesn’t wait around for things to happen. It has morphed from a scattered NANOWRIMO novel of three years ago, into some monster of a thing. I think will make a statement, and that statement has an explanation point at the end of it, along with some choice verbs and nouns. I have to say that because what kind of writer would I be without some braggadocio?
So between having to go the distance like a bloody and beaten prize fighter, and adding more pertinent scenes, I’m staring at a chapter trying to eke out some content. The flickering computer screen is filled with swirling words; some that make sense and others that are merely there as placeholders for others. Like a sculptor or a painter, I see the medium before me, ready to get my fingernails dirty and my hands all full with slop, hoping not to pull or paint over the beauty and thus make it ugly, losing the meaning, the purpose, the value.
There is a tight rope a writer travels over when revising. You need to keep fidelity to the story. You need to keep it tight and clean. But you also have to know when your poetic bullshit is too much, no matter how much you and the Gods have told you they love it. Bring back McRIBS!!
Kim 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.
|Sign up from now until November 11th for a chance at one of ten Malaise softcover copies in a book-review-give-a-way from LibraryThing.|
|Mariline: A twenty-two-year-old hit-and-run comes into sharp focus when eight-year-old Emily Rosenberg is kidnapped from nanny Carol on the mainline of Philadelphia. Lieutenant Benike, the original detective on the first case, and his team follow the clues that lead to uncovering secrets, deception, obstruction, conspiracy, and murder in their race to catch the kidnapper before Emily becomes their latest victim. Everyone has baggage. NOW IN EDITING!|
|Spoon Girl:A dying Pulitzer Prize nominated, pseudo-famous, alcoholic novelist, Jonathan “Jack” McVoy, collaborates with his nurse, Jane Powers, from his bedside to complete his last book. Spoon Girl tell the troubles of a struggling writer who uses his new novel Spoon Girl (a lover/friend/drinking buddy he met while teaching a creative writing class) to work through his issues of love and loss.Available now at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com|
Reviewed by Jean Hall
|Jonathan tries to find his way in life through a fog of women, whiskey, and bi-polar medication. His marriage to the cold and manipulative Claire seems doomed to fail. She seems to be an unhealthy mother figure who gives Jonathan security and disapproval at the same time. Malaise by E.J. Eisman is a sad tale peppered with some hope for the future. Jonathan has an emotional affair with his co-worker Simone, but for a long time they don’t sleep together. When Simone pulls away, Jonathan comforts himself with a bottle of Jack Daniels. Claire’s sister Joan understands the best part of Jonathan’s personality and she reaches out to him through email. Eventually his friendship with Joan turns into a sexual affair. Then Wendy enters Jonathan’s world as his divorce from Claire is pending.|
|Jonathan’s world alternates between emotional detachment and crushing vulnerability. As you get to know this character he is sympathetic but pitiable. He eventually shortens his name to Jack to signal a new time in his life where he can take command. Jonathan’s identity and emotional life is defined by his romantic relationships. The writing point of view switches from Jonathan, then to Joan, and finally to Simone. In several scenes there are some bold italics used for emphasis. There is some confusion in reading this book as the English usage is often incorrect. But the heart of the story is Jonathan’s struggle to make better decisions and to lift the dense cloud of his suffering. Malaise by E.J. Eisman describes a man who is trying to find the kind of love that he can’t give himself.|