"This is a well written engaging story with well-developed characters and plot, about a young man wanting a gap year before starting his law degree. The best way he can figure is to teach for a year, you get paid and it's not really work." -Kent, GoodreadsDescription:
Published: August 2018
Most people make at least one really harebrained decision in their life. Just ask Tony Piza. Deciding he needs a “paid vacation” for a year after college, Tony lands a job teaching at a Catholic elementary school. Talk about the Moby Dick of miscalculations. His pathetic effort is making him look bad, crimping his love life, and leaving him feeling guilty. A new approach, fueled by his irreverent humor, makes him a hit with his students. But it riles the powers that be. A showdown seems inevitable. Whether he can survive it—well, that’s something else.
Greetings, Beginning Fiction Writers. Want a Little Practical Advice?
Ah, how well I remember those days when I, too, was a newbie. Fresh-faced. Full of hope. Seems like only yesterday, but actually it was eons ago . . . way back in August. That’s when my first novel, “Mr. Pizza”, hit retailers.
Fine, so maybe I’m not the most battle-hardened veteran of the literary wars. But I did learn quite a bit on the journey to publication, and I’m happy to share. This is a short post, so I’ll just touch on a few of the basics.
My first piece of advice is general, but significant: remember that the old bromide “write what you know” isn’t etched in stone. If what you’re familiar with doesn’t excite you, why write about it? A lack of enthusiasm on your part will show up in your writing, and likely doom your effort. Don’t be afraid to pursue a topic you’re not well-versed in, if it’s what you believe will really turbocharge your endorphin output. Research it, and start writing.
My next suggestion is to invest in a dedicated writing program for your computer. Keeping track of the various elements of writing a novel (research, ideas, chapters, scenes, POV’s, etc.) can devolve into scream-into-a-pillow exasperation. I use Scrivener. It’s reasonably priced and offers a healthy range of features. (Other than using the software, I have no affiliation with the company.) There are other programs out there that you might like better. Just choose one that fits your budget and writing needs.
Moving along. Join a writers’ group. Your local library should have information on groups in your area. If there are none, try starting one. There are also writers’ groups online. Reading your work to a bunch of strangers can be nerve-wracking. And hearing criticism, no matter how constructive, isn’t fun. But your skin will get a little thicker (a necessity in the writing game), and you’ll become a better writer. I know I did.
Next on Pandolfi’s Parade of Pearls is: when you’ve finished your manuscript—revise. Then revise again. And again. No matter how incredible you think your first effort is . . . it can be better. The first draft of “Mr. Pizza” was 113,500 words. Having read Stephen King’s “On Writing”, I knew I needed to pick up the editing pen. (Dude can be pushy like that.) Offhand, I couldn’t think of a thing to change. Then I started re-reading. “Hmm, this section’s a tad wordy.” “Does this scene really serve a purpose, other than showing how incredibly witty I think I am?” Four revisions later: 95,000 words.
Finally, tamp down your expectations. Whether you opt for the traditional publication route (a tough slog these days), or a legitimate self-publishing platform, odds are you won’t be an instant success. And note that whichever road you take, you are going to have to market your book and yourself. So if you haven’t started to learn marketing techniques, roll up your sleeves (unless you’re wearing a tank-top) and get to it.
Keep writing, and good luck!
J. F. Pandolfi went to Fordham University as an undergrad, then taught at a Catholic elementary school before attending Fordham Law School.
Practicing law certainly had its moments, but to call it "utter euphoria"—well, that was a stretch. Plus, the voices that had taken up residency in his head (rent-free, the deadbeats) kept insisting that he share his writing with the world. An award for his flash fiction piece, "Psychology for Dummies", convinced him that the voices might be on to something. And so he called upon his fond memories as a teacher, which served as a backdrop to his debut novel, "Mr. Pizza".
J. F. also briefly believed he had won the New York City Marathon. Alas, it turned out to be a dream, apparently brought on by an acute case of restless leg syndrome.
A staunch supporter of the fight to eradicate adult illiteracy, J. F. was accorded a Special Recognition in Literacy Award for his efforts.
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