Up and Coming – February 2015
Were you wathing WTNH this morning? Yes, that was me reporting on the weather in Wolcott.
I am an occasional writer for the WXedge.com weather site for WTNH. Channel 8 contacted me about doing a Skype report during the blizzard last week but it turned out to be a nonevent for Wolcott. The producer contacted me again this morning so I went on about 9 am and Skyped from Hitchcock Lake. I liked it and hope to do more in the future.
Time to Make Good on my New Year’s Resolutions
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I do.
As the holidays wind down and deep winter sets in, the pace of life slows for a while. The occasional heavy snowstorms (like today) and bitterly cold winter nights (like tonight) help reset the clocks of our lives. Each January, I welcome this opportunity to examine the direction and pace of my life and I am often surprised at what the reflection reveals. I was reminded of this in a recent posting on the internet, which advised, “Direction in life is more important than speed because so many people are getting nowhere fast.”
While I have definitely gotten somewhere this past year, I realized that given the direction I have been traveling, I could end up far off from where I really want to be. There were two primary outcomes of this reality check for me this year. First is the number of books I will be working on in the immediate future and second is the kind.
When I began writing, I had three very clear books in mind. My current one, Amanda’s Room, was actually last book on the list.
Black Hell Drowning
The first and most important book is Black Hell Drowning. My dad was a coal miner in the anthracite region of eastern Pennsylvania. He was a giant of a man who, together with my mother, raised a family of eleven children. Dad was a minor by necessity rather than choice and moved the entire family to Brooklyn New York so that my siblings and I would not have to work in the mines as he did but for him, the damage had already been done. His father took him out of school in the fourth grade to work in the mines in order to help support the family, so the mines took his childhood. In his late sixties, the “black lung” robbed him of the remainder of his life.
I was angry about what the mines took from my father and wanted to write a book exposing the greed and corruption of the mine companies and the evils of the occupation. I wrote several hundred pages but the more I researched, the more I realized how complex a story this was and how emotionally, intellectually and experientially unprepared I was to tackle it. I learned, for instance, that many miners were fiercely proud of their occupations and would not choose otherwise. I also learned that many of the smaller mine owners shared the same individuality and sense of pride as the miners themselves. I also realized that to do the story justice, I would need to develop my writing skills to a much higher degree than they were. Black Hell Drowning had to wait until I matured significantly as a writer.
The second book is also very important to me. The older I get, the more I see the devastating impact that the death of a beloved spouse has on the one who is left. Moreover, the deeper, more loving and longer lasting the relationship: the greater the sense of loss and emptiness. Many who experience such a loss wonder how, or if they can go on. Paradoxically, those who are closest to the person can be hindered in their efforts to help by the very closeness of the relationship. My next novel, Injured Angels, is based upon Henri Nouwen’s concept of The Wounded Healer and explores the relationship of two broken women who help each other, not despite their disabilities but because of them. I started this book several times and put it down again after each effort because, as in the case of Black Hell Drowning, I was not ready. I could not decide if the book should be fiction or non-fiction, a biography, a memoir or a romance novel. Once again, I also realized that I needed to perfect my vision for the book and my writing skills before I was ready to finish it.
That is how I ended up writing Amanda’s Room first. The book was born as a short story written on a cruise in 2005. After abandoning the other two books, I decided that this was a story I could finish. I was not emotionally tied to Amanda’s Room and it felt like a book I could have fun writing and people could have fun reading. In 2008, I picked the story up again and over the course of the next four years, rewrote it thirteen times. In the process, I learned a hell of a lot about writing. I also developed the emotional and intellectual distance I needed to return to the other book projects and that brings me full circle to my New Year’s resolution.
I realized that my greatest passion lies with the other two books I’ve described above. I am proud of how Amanda’s Room turned out. I wanted to write a book that read like a movie; one that the readers could see in their minds as they read it. From the many positive reviews and high ratings on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads, it appears that I have at least partially achieved that goal. Additionally, I mentioned in last month’s Up and Coming that there were some exciting developments in the works for Amanda’s Room.
Is Hollywood in Amanda’s Future?
In November, I was contacted by a screenwriter who had heard about the book and me. After reading it, he said he could readily envision the scenes in his mind and was interested in writing the screenplay. We met several more times and in January entered into a contract. The review draft of the screenplay is scheduled for July and the finished script sometime in September. Anyone in the writing profession knows that it is a long road from the conception of an idea to seeing it in reality, but this is certainly a meaningful step in the process.
Right now, I am finishing the first round edits for Injured Angels. It is my practice to provide a draft manuscript to a team of reviewers and ask them to tell me what gets in the way of it being a good reading experience. Every author writes the book that he or she loves to read; successful authors write the books that others want to read. To find out if I am writing books others want to read, I ask them. Fortunately, the first round reviewers have been very candid in their feedback and have given me valuable insight and direction. When the first round edits are complete, I will give it to another round of reviewers and repeat the process. Then I will give it to my professional editors for final polishing before publishing. By then (hopefully by summer the latest) I hope to provide you with a book that will be worthy of your time and attention.
Atlantis Crossing is on Hold
What I do not expect to be writing soon is the book I mentioned in earlier editions of Up and Coming: The Atlantis Crossing. In evaluating where I am going with my writing, I realized that I was doing the expected thing in the industry: creating a series. The Atlantis Crossing was going to be an action-adventure featuring the main protagonist from Amanda’s Room: Katie Jarvis. While this could be a fun book to write at some time in the future, my passion lies is in completing Injured Angels, and then revisiting and completing that first and most important piece of work, Black Hell Drowning.
Amanda’s Room – Reader’s Edition
Hopefully, the new Amanda’s Room – Reader’s Edition will be available to book stores and libraries sometime in February or March. This edition is shorter and smaller, and eliminates the weather –related chapter headings and some of the earlier character-focused chapters. It will be a faster, easier read for those readers who would rather simply read the story than try to figure out the additional connections within the book.
I am booking some public appearances for March now but will hold off until next month to talk about them. That’s it for now. My best wishes to you and yours for a happy, healthy and successful start to the New Year.
Know someone who hasn’t read Amanda’s Room yet? Copies are available at the following:
The Hospital of Central Connecticut, Bradley Memorial Hospital Campus, Gift Shop, 81 Meriden Avenue, Southington, CT06489
Tops Market, 887 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike, Southington, CT 06479, (860) 628-8794
The Southington Chamber of Commerce, 1 Factory Sq # 201, Southington, CT 06489, (860) 628-8036
iDeals Outlet, 2165 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike, Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike, Marion, CT, 860-329-0027
Grace’s Restaurant, 1678 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike, Milldale, CT,
Walsh’s IGA Market, 1786 Meriden Road, Wolcott, CT
The Bristol Senior Center, 240 Stafford Ave. Bristol, 06010, (860) 584-7895, has copies available to loan to their members.
Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), http://www.amazon.com/Amandas-Room-Chuck-Miceli/dp/1475291973
BarnesandNoble.com (paperback and Nook), http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/amandas-room-chuck-miceli/1109800880
Smashwords.com (multiple e-book formats), https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/131678
In Connecticut: Southington, Willington, Forestville, Oxford, W. Hartford (Faxon Branch)
In Massachusetts: Dudley, Woods Hole
In Pennsylvania: Laughlin, Pittston
If your public library carries Amanda’s Room and is not listed above, please notify me and I will add them to the list.
If your library does not carry Amanda’s Room and would like to, please let me know and I will be happy to send them a free copy.
Thanks and Good Reading