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DJ

For the first half of our marriage, my wife, Cathy, and I agreed that we didn’t want the responsibility of having to care for another living thing (plant, animal, or child). We ate out frequently, took trips, and extended them if we were especially enjoying ourselves. We didn’t have to be concerned that someone or something at home was waiting for us and we were “Dirty Stayouts” for abandoning them.

That all changed when Cathy visited her friend, Andrea, who owned a parrot shop in Houston called A Parrots Cove. There were plenty of birds at Andrea’s when Cathy visited over the years. She found many of them intriguing. For example, Mr. G, an Eclectus parrot, would repeat exactly what Andrea’s husband, Joe, said, in exactly Joe’s voice.

Cathy had been visiting Andrea when she called me one night and said she was in love. I thought our marriage was over until I found out she was referring to a Blue Crown Conure parrot she’d met. Cathy and DJ (whom she named with the initials for Double-Jointed, as he’d do all sorts of crazy acrobatics in his cage) took an immediate liking to one another. After spending a few days with him, she realized she wanted to be his Mom. Needless to say, it surprised me that she’d want to take on that responsibility given our penchant for not wanting those roles in our lives. But on the other hand, we both sensed that having some responsibility outside of ourselves wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

Cathy came home from her trip without DJ, giving herself some time to make her decision. Since DJ is considered an exotic animal, there would be certain precautions to be observed that his life quite literally depended on. Common foods like chocolate, avocados, and coffee can be dangerous, even deadly, to parrots. They have sensitive respiratory systems; because of that, we no longer use our fireplace or light candles. We must be careful cooking with Teflon, which when burned emits an odorless gas lethal to parrots.

It took DJ a while to get acclimated to us, and we to him. But now we’ve had him for a dozen years and he’s bonded with the two of us and doesn’t have much interest in anyone else. DJ has become an integral part of our family. He is so aware of what’s going on around him when it comes to what my wife and I are doing, especially when we are doing it together. If I give my wife a kiss, even when we’re on the second floor, often DJ will throw us a kiss too. The amazing part is he will do it at the exact moment our lips touch even though he can’t see us.

Now we only go out to dinner once a week and no longer take long trips because we don’t like to leave DJ alone, even with a sitter, for more than a few days. After all, he is part of our family.

Here’s a picture of the “little guy” as I like to call him:

Experiential Writing in Don’t Remember

My second novel, Don’t Remember, is told strictly from the point of view of the main character, Julian Barnes. The reader doesn’t get the perspective of the other characters, only what Julian observes about them. This single-character focus is meant to allow for more insight into the psyche of the story’s hero.

There isn’t a lot of “telling” of what happened to Julian. Instead, it’s mostly “showing” which lets you figure things out yourself. This “less is more” strategy is intended to keep the reader in the trance-like state attained when one is totally engrossed in a tale.

Metaphors and similes were used sparingly, only if they were truly effective because when they are ineffective, they take the reader out of their reading trance.

The dream sequences in Don’t Remember were utilized as a way for the reader to get insight as to how Julian’s experiences are being processed by his subconscious, further enriching the reader’s understanding of the workings of the mind of the main character.

These techniques were used to make the reader part of the creative process by enabling them to experience what Julian is experiencing when he’s experiencing it. I call it “Experiential Writing.” My editors, Renni Browne and Shannon Roberts, went through the Don’t Remember manuscript eight times, ensuring, among many other things, that the story was experiential.

Of course, you the reader get to decide if I achieved any of the above and if I should’ve pursued them in the first place.

It took me four years to publish Don’t Remember after my debut novel, Have You Seen Her?, was released. I had back surgery for sciatica in between and most of the writing after the surgery was done while standing. It’s only been relatively recent that I can once again sit and write.

In the first section of the book, Julian is a patient in the hospital. These scenes were written before I was ever a patient in one. The first time I read what I had written after being a patient was intense, giving me the notion that these pages foreshadowed my fate. For me, that’s about as experiential as you can get.

Synopsis and Update on Sum Lives, my Third Novel

Mark Holder has created a battery so powerful some believe it is economically destructive. Mark is skeptical of the assertion at first but then is later convinced of the cost to others. He must decide if he will proceed, knowing that if he doesn’t it will cost him his life’s work and the woman he loves. Christy Sands believes the world will be much better off with Mark’s invention and could never fathom his wasting such an opportunity to help mankind like few others ever have all because of the greedy Eric Nolan.

It’s a love triangle. Three broken characters who are so for their own individual reasons. Mark, the hero, battles hypomania, having episodes where he can’t stop working. Christy, his lover, is a talented painter. Her secret makes her not as perfect as she seems. Eric, the antagonist, who has accidentally fallen in love with Christy, learns about Mark’s invention and starts out craving it more than he does Christy, forcing him to confront his insecurity.

There is some business jargon throughout the book, but I try to keep it to a minimum and as simple as possible. I’m about halfway through the manuscript and don’t know when it will be finished, only that it will be the best book I can write when I do.

Have You Seen Her? – Epilogue

After I published Have You Seen Her? I thought I was done with it. Never to revisit the characters again. After the book came out, many people asked, “What happens next?” Even my sister. I considered writing a sequel, but I already have my next three novels in various stages of development. I was done with Jack Logan as far as another novel goes. But I had one more chapter in me.

I let an idea fester awhile. You know, try not to think about it. If it’s strong enough, it’ll rattle inside my head until I have to write it down. When it did, I came up with what is now the Epilogue to Have You Seen Her?

Cathy made the Epilogue even better, and Beth Jusino from The Editorial Department added some nifty finishing touches.

I think it’s true to the story, adds some clarity, and ties into the rest of the book. I would like to say more. Trust me. But I don’t want to spoil it.

Amazon provided updates to all e-book purchasers. There’s a PDF of the Epilogue on my website. It’s under the ‘Books’ tab, then ‘Have You Seen Her?’ Click on Epilogue. Here’s a link to the page:

Have You Seen Her? | Rich Silvers

I had a good time getting back with the characters again. I had fun writing it. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do. I read what I write even after I publish it. Once I get it right, it’s good to savor it.

Book Video for Have You Seen Her?

In the Bronx, in the sixties, the floors of movie theaters were often so sticky your feet literally got stuck on them as if they were flypaper. I didn’t care, I just wanted to find an unbroken seat and watch the previews and the movie.

Seeing something I create on a screen or on a stage is on my bucket list. Since no studios were knocking on my door, and no one has decided to turn Have You Seen Her? into a play – no matter how far Off-Broadway, I decided on doing a book video (after watching the now-completed video, I knew I’d made the right choice).

One day soon after I decided to pursue having the video done, my wife came home with a business card she had just received from a coworker for a local independent film company, Good 4 You Productions. I knew immediately that was a good sign! I contacted Jeff Cobelli and told him what I wanted. When the first thing he said was “Let me read your book,” – and since I was looking for a turnkey production – I knew we were off to a great start. Jeff wrote the screenplay, cast it, directed, and found someone to compose the music.

The kitchen and the garage scenes were shot in my house. Jeff and his production team came over early on a cold Sunday in January. DJ and I went up to my study and I continued working on revising Remember. I heard a loud crash not long after they got there. It turned out to be the sound of Susan’s accident. Over twelve hours later, they had two minutes of video. Jeff said it was a good day. I guessed it was like the accomplished feeling of writing a thousand words.

Jeff added some of his own subtle touches, including his voice for Sean. Then there’s the time on the clock in the car and on Jack’s watch being the same as the one in the scene later when Jack is in the kitchen: time stood still; a line of demarcation in Jack’s life; the things he did before the accident and the things he did after. Also, Susan’s name comes up on Jack’s speed dial. Then there’s the blood (ketchup) on the empty bottle of bleach that we see as the camera pans out.

After shooting was finished for the day, Jeff showed me the garage scene. Even though it was only a four inch screen, as I watched Jack sweep up broken glass with the sun shining through the windows behind him, I was mesmerized. I knew I had one thing I could cross off my bucket list.

Jeff asked what line in Have You Seen Her?  most captures the essence of the story. I immediately thought of “Sometimes, Emily, the story doesn’t end the way you want. Sometimes the characters just go in their own direction.”

Click on: Rich Silvers.com to see the video.

I hope if you’ve read the book, you’ll enjoy revisiting the story again; and if you haven’t, you’re curious enough to read it.

The Midwest Book Review Features Have You Seen Her?

From the December Small Press Bookwatch under the Fiction shelf:

Deserted by tragedy in his life, Jack Logan doesn’t know where to turn next in his life. “Have You Seen Her?” is a novel following Logan as he copes with the loss of his wife and daughter, as a runaway enters his life. Trying to do what he can for her, he faces the tattered remains of her life, and realizes that it isn’t just her problems he’s facing. A psychological thriller that should prove hard to put down, “Have You Seen Her?” is a must for contemporary fiction collections, recommended.

http://www.midwestbookreview.com/sbw/dec_12.htm#Fiction

Running – Part I

I’ve never run competitively and have no desire to. I run to exercise and for how I feel after—endorphins (endogenous morphine) pumping through me, lungs gasping for air purging toxins, and on warm, humid days, sweat freely pouring from my pores. I feel alive. More connected with nature. Even on the tough days—when it’s as if I could die any moment—when I finish, it’s all worth it.

I run the same three mile course. The goal: do it under a half hour. Never gotten below twenty-seven minutes and never above thirty. I go at a steady pace which is more than a jog and less than a run. Some days the first few minutes are hard if I didn’t sleep well the night before. Or maybe because thick, hot air makes it difficult to breathe. Air impacts me more than I had expected. I often realize it’s when the air is crisp and clear that I near a personal record.

There’s a hill on the third block—a slow, steady climb. It’s the toughest one. I plan it that way. It’s good to have a hill and good to get it out of the way early. By the time I reach the top, my heart is pounding and I wonder if I can keep going. A couple of steps later, the road ahead is flat and that feeling fades as my muscles warm and I tell myself, “Finish.”

I continue on, my body working harder. My abdominals tired from breathing, and my focus is reduced to the next step. That’s it. The sum total of my experience. It’s good to be in that state, especially after a morning of writing, at least for awhile…

Weeding

I am not one of those writers who can work all day and into the night, finishing a manuscript in a matter of weeks. I need to pace myself, giving my mind a chance to work through the many problems one encounters in the course of writing a novel.

In August, we got plenty of rain and hot weather, so there were many uninvited plants scattered around my property.  After a morning of sitting at the computer, I find weeding good for my back as I squat on my haunches and stretch my muscles in ways I don’t when I’m writing. And I like getting my hands dirty literally as opposed to only figuratively. Weeding, or doing any other repetitive task for that matter, gives my subconscious a chance to mull over the book I’m writing.

When I’m not writing, I often think about the process of writing. As I remove weeds, I realize how I not only weed like I write – attacking problems a little at a time – but I also weed like I edit. There’s nothing like a weak or misplaced word or phrase to kill a good sentence. When I pull a weed out of the ground, I try to get the entire root. When I do I know I won’t have to worry about that weed coming back again. It’s like when I finally get a sentence right. I know it is because no matter how many times I read it after, I don’t change it.