Saturday, September 23, 2006

Jerry DeBono R.I.P.

His is not a name a lot of people know.  He wrote mostly for television in the 60’s and 70’s, although he started in the late 40’s.  Episodes of Dr. Kildare, Marcus Welby M.D., Police Woman, Quincey M.E., Hunter and others were written by him.

Marijane Meaker (Vin Packer, M.E. Kerr) was the first working writer I ever met, and Jerry was the second.  The moment we met we were instant friends.  The thing was we made each other laugh like crazy.

At that time I wanted to write plays.  He convinced me I should try television.  So once a week he gave me and Megan Terry (Viet Rock) lessons.  I don’t remember a lot about it except that he had us do scripts for Lamp Unto My Feet.  It was a Sunday program for children, I think.

Neither Megan nor I became TV writers.  But not because Jerry wasn’t a good teacher, he was.  I think it was because we neither of us wanted to write for TV at that time.  I did later on.

After awhile he moved back to California where he was from.  We saw each other over the years…he would come east and I would go west.  In the 80’s he stopped writing and became a teacher of English in a high school. 

We lost touch for awhile. Then one day there was an email from Jerry in my In box.  I was so excited.  He’d gotten his first computer and had found my address. From then on we never stopped writing each other. He was retired and was occasionally directing college musicals.  But he wasn’t writing. 

During that first year of our email life we learned all about each other in a way we never had before.  Childhoods, teens, early adults.  Mothers, fathers, friends.

He told me he was so proud of me, of what I’d accomplished.  And he read all my books.  He didn’t like all of them, naturally.  But he really got a kick out of my latest two.

Our email correspondence got him thinking about his life in a way he never had before and he thought he’d like to write a novel.  But he wasn’t sure of the form and wondered who the hell would want to read a novel about his life. I told him I and many others would. So he started.  I tried to buoy him up when he got discouraged. I don’t know how much that helped but Jerry kept on writing.

When we reconnected I learned fairly soon from a mutual friend that he had non Hodgkin's lymphoma and things could go south at any time.

A few weeks ago they did.  He ended up in the hospital.  I knew nothing of this until I got a call from him.  He told me where he was and that all he wanted was two more months because he thought he could finish his novel in that period.

The next time we spoke he didn’t seem to know we’d spoken before and he didn’t make much sense.  It was the pain medication.  In the hospital he had a course of chemo to see if they could give him the time he wanted.  But it didn’t do anything except make him sick.

So last Sunday he went home.  Two friends kept me informed of what was going on.  Yesterday when I came home from the movies I found out that he’d died.  It went very fast and I’m glad for that.

Needless to say he never finished his novel, but he wrote a lot of it and most of all he wanted to finish it.  Once a writer always a writer.

l miss him terribly.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Good Words

What the editor said about the cuts I made in my story.

“Perfect!! I'll make the change in your original document.”


Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I read the book yesterday and I liked a lot of it.  Today I wrote 4 pages.  It seemed okay.  But I’m not sure how to achieve what I need to achieve.  I’m hoping for a lightening strike, I guess.  Don’t know if it’s going to happen.

Getting ready to write a romantic scene.  Not a sex scene.  Hate them.  But I don’t mind a flirting scene…that should be interesting since I can’t flirt in my own life.

Sent the editor the change she asked for.  Haven’t heard yet.

Two more days of writing and then Friday to the movies.  Hooray!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Not Perfect

I don’t want anyone to think my short story experience was totally perfect.  I got an email from the editor today, and after saying that she liked the story even more on her second reading, she asked if a certain conversation could be abbreviated.  Or not.  It was up to me. 

I feel fine about the request and I have to take a look at the story to see if I agree with her.

Tomorrow I start reading my novel in progress.

Friday, September 15, 2006


"Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself."

Truman Capote

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sent It In

Yeah, I did.  Sent it to the editor of the anthology when I said I was going to.  The next day I heard from her.  She said, “I love it.”  And other things.  I was amazed and very pleased.

From start to finish … being asked to do this to handing it in … was about three weeks.  I call this instant gratification.  And for anyone who likes instant gratification as much as I do, short stories are looking pretty good these days.

Whoever said I wasn’t flexible?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Short Story Day Five

I finished it today. I guess that’s fast, I don’t know.  It’s about 3500 words.

The strange thing about this story is that it came to me all of a piece.  What I mean is, I knew the protagonist and I knew the end before I began.  And then it pretty much wrote itself.  I never know the end when I start something.  The something is usually a novel.  So what do I know about writing a short story and how it develops?

Still, it was odd for me.  I’m not sure what to make of it.  The process, that is.

I like the story.  And I had to write it exactly as I did.  It had to go the way it went as if it had a life of its own.  I guess it did have a life of its own.

I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen in the middle and I had to go back and add specific material as I wrote.  Yesterday, after a weekend of letting it sit, I made some changes and printed it out.  Then I went out.

Today I made changes on the hard copy put those changes into the computer, printed it out and gave it to First Reader.  FR liked it but had some nits to pick.  That’s what FR’s are for, aren’t they?  Hate it when it’s a big section FR doesn’t like.  But this is a short story so my feeling is either you like it or you don’t and then you can pick.

Took some of FR’s suggestions and ignored others.  Put changes back in the computer.  Read it again on the screen.  Made more changes. Read it again.  Printed it out.  Put it in a drawer.

I’ll send the doc tonight…no …. now.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Third Day

I actually finished the first draft of the story.  I know I said I might, but I didn’t believe it.  I have no idea if this fulfills the requirements I was given.  This draft has enough words to be accepted.  But when I rewrite I usually get rid of words.

Monday I’ll start the rewrite.  Tomorrow I’m going to the movies.

First Reader asked me if I enjoyed writing it.  FR should know better.  I don’t enjoy the whole act of writing.  I enjoy writing when I come up with a wonderful line, or put something together that had eluded me for days or weeks.

What I do like about this short story thing is that it can be over so quickly.  Even if it takes me two more weeks to finish this story it’s a helluva lot faster than writing a novel.  Of course I knew this in the abstract, but now I actually know it.

Still, the novel form is my ticket.  And if the word enjoy can be used here then I’d say I enjoy writing a novel much more than a short story.

I do understand now why Kay Sexton urges people to learn to write the short story before writing a novel.  I still don’t think that’s necessary, but I can see why it would help.  You have limited space and you have to get important information in the piece early.  And the pacing cannot be liesurely.  One can be somewhat liesurely in a novel, but not in a crime novel, I don’t think.  Maybe in any novel because no matter what you’re writing you want the reader to turn the pages.

I’m looking forward to the rewrite.  Not that I’ll enjoy it or find it fun.  But it’ll be interesting.

Some might ask, if you don’t find it fun or enjoyable, why do you do it?  Because I can’t not do it.  I’d be unhappy if I didn’t write.

Maybe I do enjoy it.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

First Day

I got up early so I started writing early.  I don’t have a title for the story yet, but I managed to bang out over 1000 words.  I always let it rip and go back later.  I feel very good about this.  I don’t mean the story because I don’t know yet.  I feel good that I was able to do what I set out to do.  No excuses. 

Monday, September 04, 2006

Last Day

Like many, this is the last day of my vacation.  Mine was a whole summer. Loved it. Part of me feels like I could keep on going this way.  On the other hand, I doubt that I would be happy never writing again.  And since I don’t have years and years to go, it wouldn’t be wise to keep vacationing.

So tomorrow I’ll get up to the sound of an alarm clock and get back into my daily groove.  Yes, I know, it’s not that daily.  I take my days off.  If Friday brings a movie for an adult I’ll probably go.  Which will make it a 3 day week.  We all know how much I love my 3 day weeks.

I’ll start my short story.  I’m nervous about it because it’s not my preferred form.  I’ve only had three shots at stories.  Yes, I sold them all.  John Baker says his always took him longer than he anticipated.  I hope that’s not true for me because I do want to get back to my novel.

I’m sure I won’t be able to write it in three days, but maybe I’ll get a first draft.  I don’t look forward to it but I don’t dread it either.

I have my opening line.  How hard could it be?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Short Story

I’ve read a lot of short stories in the past five days.  I’m surprised by them.  Crime stories aren’t anything like I thought they’d be.  I thought you’d have to solve a crime and I haven’t come across one that does that.  They seem to be more O’Henry type endings.

Now I’m sorry I said no to all those other offers to be in an anthology.  See what comes from not reading the manual.

Anyway, I have my opening line.