Welcome to Day 8 of “THE LOST AND FOUND BILLY BATTLES” Blog Tour! @JHawker69 @4WillsPub #RRBC #RWISA.

GIVEAWAY:  (2) Complete sets of the Billy Battles trilogy.  For your chance to win one, please leave a comment below!

I am thrilled to welcome talented author and journalist, Ron Yates, to my blog today where he’ll share some hard-earned wisdom with you.

The Lost and Found Billy Battles Tour

Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing: Annotated

At least once every year I find it useful to take a look at the late Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing. It is sage advice from a master. Every writer should read these rules and remember them. I’m doing my part by posting them here at the beginning of 2019 for your edification and enjoyment. 

I began reading Elmore Leonard’s books before I knew anything about writing or even that I wanted to be a writer. Back then, a lot of his books were westerns filled with gritty characters, compelling stories, and robust, convincing dialogue.

I remember reading Last Stand at Sabre River and Hombre, both of which became successful movies. Later, after Leonard had moved from westerns to crime and suspense stories, I read Mr. Majestyk, The Big Bounce, and the Moonshine War.

From 2010 to 2015 I watched with great pleasure the TV series “Justified,” based on Leonard’s book “Raylan” and partly written by Leonard. It has run its course, but I encourage you to take a look at the series. I am sure it is available on Netflix. Timothy Oliphant plays Raylan to a “T.”

Elmore Leonard was a writer’s writer. Not only could he spin a great story, but he could also create characters you loved to hate or hated to love and some you simply learned to tolerate because they made the other characters interesting.

If you like reading William Faulkner or Thomas Wolfe, you probably will not like reading Elmore Leonard. As brilliant as those two writers were, their stream-of-conscious narration probably drove Leonard nuts.

Leonard believed the writer should never get in the way of the story. (NOTE: See “Hooptedoodle″ at the end of Leonard’s rules)

I am not sure when Leonard wrote his 10 Rules of Writing, but I found them a few years ago and filed them away.

Some of you may already know those ten rules, but I am betting a lot of you don’t. So let me share them with you today. Read them, consider them and most of all, and try to follow them when you write your books. I think you will be glad you did.

Here they are in Elmore Leonard’s own words:

These are rules I’ve picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I’m writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what’s taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might look them over.

    1. Never open a book with weather.

If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways to describe ice and snow than an Eskimo, you can do all the weather reporting you want.

   2. Avoid prologues.

They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want.

There is a prologue in John Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday, but it’s O.K. because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: “I like a lot of talk in a book and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks . . . Figure out what the guy’s thinking from what he says. I like some description but not too much of that. . . Sometimes I want a book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle. Spin up some pretty words maybe or sing a little song with language. That’s nice. But I wish it was set aside, so I don’t have to read it. I don’t want hooptedoodle to get mixed up with the story.” (NOTE: I already violated that rule in my Finding Billy Battles trilogy. Sorry, Elmore. I won’t do it again.)

    3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.

The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated,” and had to stop reading to get the dictionary. (NOTE: I learned this important rule in journalism school at the University of Kansas. It has served me well.)

     4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” …

…he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost anyway) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances “full of rape and adverbs.”

     5. Keep your exclamation points under control.

You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.

     6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”

This rule doesn’t require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use “suddenly” tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.

    7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apostrophes, you won’t be able to stop. Notice the way Annie Proulx captures the flavor of Wyoming voices in her book of short stories Close Range.

     8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

In Ernest Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants, what do the “American and the girl with him” look like? “She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story, and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight.

     9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.

Unless you’re Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language or write landscapes in the style of Jim Harrison, but even if you’re good at it, you don’t want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.

And finally:

     10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

A rule that came to mind in 1983. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he’s writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character’s head, and the reader either knows what the guy’s thinking or doesn’t care. I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue.

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. I attempt to remain invisible, not distract the reader from the story with obvious writing. (Joseph Conrad said something about words getting in the way of what you want to say.)

If I write in scenes and always from the point of view of a particular character — the one whose view best brings the scene to life — I’m able to concentrate on the voices of the characters telling you who they are and how they feel about what they see and what’s going on, and I’m nowhere in sight.

What Steinbeck did in Sweet Thursday was title his chapters as an indication, though obscure, of what they cover. “Whom the Gods Love They Drive Nuts” is one, “Lousy Wednesday” another.

The third chapter is titled “Hooptedoodle 1″ and the 38th chapter “Hooptedoodle 2″ as warnings to the reader as if Steinbeck is saying: “Here’s where you’ll see me taking flights of fancy with my writing, and it won’t get in the way of the story. Skip them if you want.”

Sweet Thursday came out in 1954 when I was just beginning to be published, and I’ve never forgotten that prologue.

Did I read the hooptedoodle chapters? Every word.

And there you have it: Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing. They are well worth remembering and following. Of course, there are some who believe there are no rules when it comes to writing. I don’t believe Leonard himself felt his ten rules were inviolable. To me, they seem like common sense–especially when it comes to avoiding the dissemination of hooptedoodle.

BOOK BLURB:

The Finding Billy Battles trilogy tells the story of a remarkable man who is born in 1860 and who dies in 1960. For decades Billy lives an improbable and staggering life of adventure, peril, transgression and redemption. Then Billy mysteriously disappears. For several decades his family has no idea where he is or what he is doing.

Finally, with his life coming to an end, Billy resurfaces in an old soldiers’ home in Leavenworth, Kansas. It is there, when he is 98 that he meets his 12-year-old great-grandson and bequeaths his journals and his other property to him — though he is not to receive them until he is much older.

Years later, the great-grandson finally reads the journals and fashions a three volume trilogy that tells of his great-grandfather’s audacious life in the old west, as well as his journeys to the Far East of the 1890s—including French Indochina and The Philippines—and finally, in the early 20th century, to Europe and Latin America where his adventures and predicaments continue. One thing readers can be sure of, wherever Billy Battles goes trouble is not far behind.

AUTHOR BIO:

Ronald E. Yates is a multi-award winning author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy. His extraordinarily accurate books have captivated fans around the world who applaud his ability to blend fact and fiction.

Ron is a former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Illinois where he was also the Dean of the College of Media.

The Lost Years of Billy Battles is the final book in the trilogy and recently won the Independent Press Award’s 2020 Distinguished Favorites Award. In 2019 it also won Best Overall Book of the year and the Grand Prize in the Goethe Historical Fiction Category from Chanticleer International Book Awards as well as a Book Excellence Award and a New Apple Award. The second book in the trilogy, The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles, was published in June 2016. It won the 2017 KCT International Literary Award and the New Apple Award in the Action/Adventure category. The first book in the trilogy, “Finding Billy Battles,” was published in 2014 and won a Book Excellence Award and Laramie Award from Chanticleer International Book Awards.

As a professional journalist, Ron lived and worked in Japan, Southeast Asia, and both Central and South America where he covered several history-making events including the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia; the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing; and wars and revolutions in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, among other places. His work as a foreign correspondent earned him several awards including three Pulitzer Prize nominations.

Ron is a frequent speaker about the media, international affairs, and writing. He is a Vietnam era veteran of the U.S. Army Security Agency and lives just north of San Diego in Southern California’s wine country.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

-Twitter   https://twitter.com/jhawker69

-Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ronaldyatesbooks/

-Website   https://ronaldyatesbooks.com/

AMAZON OR OTHER PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon:

Barnes & Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/finding%20billy%20battles/_/N-8q8

I hope you enjoyed Ron’s post today. Please remember to leave a comment to be entered in the GIVEAWAY!

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to schedule your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  Thanks for supporting this author and his work!

Welcome to Day 10 of the “EMPTY SEATS” Blog Tour! @EmptySeatsNovel @4WillsPub #RRBC #Baseball

I am thrilled to host Wanda Fischer today and let her share a new book release!

GIVEAWAYS:   During this tour, the author is giving away (1) $10 Amazon Gift Card, (2) $5 Amazon Gift Cards, (2) e-book copies of EMPTY SEATS & (1) copy of the author’s acclaimed “SINGING ALONG WITH THE RADIO” CD which features many prominent folk music singers (a $15 value)! For your chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment below as well as leaving a comment on the author’s 4WillsPub tour page.  GOOD LUCK!

When I was writing my novel, one of the more difficult choices was to decide to whom I should dedicate the book.

The obvious choices, of course, are my husband and children, who supported me through the process, who put up with my baseball obsession, who heard me dole out countless advice to a slew of Red Sox managers (“Don’t take that guy out! He’s doing great!” “Why are you leaving him in? He’s terrible!” “How many pitches has he thrown? HOW MANY???”), who knew I stayed up too late watching games, and all that.

But if you look at the dedication, I didn’t mention my family. This is not to slight their contributions at all; instead, I think they understood when they saw the novel was in memory of five people in professional baseball who meant a great deal to me: Jack Lanzillotti, Dick Radatz, Bill Monbouquette, Kirby Puckett and Harmon Killebrew.

I’ll tell you why, first by addressing the people you may know, because they played Major League Baseball on the field.

Dick Radatz was a reliever for the Red Sox in the 1960s. His nickname was “The Monster,” because he was a huge guy for the time—6’6” tall, 230 lbs, and an imposing presence on the mound. He dominated legendary Yankee Mickey Mantle to the point that Mantle hated facing off against him. Although Radatz never made it to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the Red Sox inducted him into their team’s hall of fame, and he was ecstatic about it. After his MLB career was over, he did charity work for the Jimmy Fund, which is the Red Sox main charity. He died at the age of 67 after falling down a flight of stairs. Those of us who watched him pitch—and also who talked to him at Fenway Park—appreciated his sense of humor and kindness. He was always available to “us kids,” and I have his autograph in my cherished “little red autograph book.”

Bill Monbouquette was one of the Red Sox’s “native sons,” born in the Boston suburb of Medford. Known as Monbo to Red Sox fans, he pitched when the Red Sox had little to cheer about. And yet, when it was “Monbo Day,” the crowds at Fenway grew slightly because fans knew they’d get a great game from a scrappy local kid who’d give it his all from the mound. Monbo pitched two no-hitters in a Red Sox uniform.

Many years later, when he coached the Oneonta Tigers, a low-A minor league team (of the same NY-Penn League that my characters play in), then based on Oneonta, New York, I watched as one of Monbo’s proteges pitched a no-hitter against the Tri-City Valley Cats (affiliated with the Houston Astros) in Troy, New York. I went to the edge of the dugout and yelled for “MONBO!!”

“Wha’dya want?” he asked, poking his head out.

“Congrats on the no-hitter,” I replied. “And the kid’s wearing YOUR old number, 27.”

“How do you know that?” he asked.

“I’m old-school Red Sox.”

“You must be, if you remember that.”

“Not only that—I have pictures! And old yearbooks!”

“Why’d you want to keep stuff like that?”

“Because I remember…”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah…”

Then he looked up and gave me the biggest grin I’d ever seen from him.

Monbo passed away in 2015 after battling leukemia; he was 78. I was glad he had the chance to see the Red Sox win the World Series in both 2004 and 2013.

I met Harmon Killebrew many times when he played for the Minnesota Twins. My friends and I always went to Fenway Park early so that we could see both teams take batting practice. The Twins had some of the nicest guys on their team. Harmon and Rod Carew were two of the friendliest. They made a point of talking to us kids before baseball games.

In 2009, I went to Cooperstown for Jim Rice’s Hall of Fame induction. Harmon, once known as “The Killer,” was signing autographs along Main Street. I stopped to talk to him and told him he was one of my favorite players.

“So why are you wearing a Red Sox jersey?”

“I can be a Red Sox fan and still like Twins players. In fact, I love Kirby Puckett, too!”

“I’m so mad at Kirby!”

“Why?”

“Because he went and died before me! He was supposed to sing at my funeral!”

“Oh…Okay…Well, did you get someone else to sing at your funeral? I have a CD made by MLB players called ‘Oh Say, Can You Sing?’ Ozzie Smith is a great singer on that CD.”

“Nah, I don’t want a National League singer. I have someone lined up.”

“Really? Who?”

“Mudcat. Mudcat Grant. Ever heard of him?”

“Of course. That’s great. What do you want him to sing?”

“You ever heard that song, ‘What a Wonderful World?’”

“You mean, ‘I see trees of green, red roses, too…?’”

“Yes, that’s the one! That’s what I want him to sing!”

We kept on chatting for about ten more minutes about baseball and other things. I told him I’d made a CD and gave him a copy. I kept calling him “Mr. Killebrew.” He kept correcting me, asking me to call him “Harmon.” I just couldn’t. He was so much of an icon to me.  When I go to the Hall of Fame, I start by visiting his plaque.

Wanda Fischer and Harmon Killebrew at the 2009 Hall of Fame induction ceremony

Kirby Puckett has the distinction of having had a dog in my household named after him. That’s an honor in my house, and my dog Kirby was one of the best I’ve ever had. Kirby’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and my dachshund Kirby is definitely in the Dachshund Hall of Fame.

My late grandmother’s name is Puckett, and I can’t help but think that, way back, somewhere, Kirby and I are related. Can’t prove it, but can’t dis-prove it, either.

I always admired the way Kirby played the game. Every time he came to bat, it was with a smile on his face. He loved baseball; he loved being on that field. He hadn’t started playing baseball until he was past Little League age, and never played on anything except asphalt and hard-dirt fields in Detroit until he was a teenager. As the youngest of nine children, he lived with his family in Detroit’s projects, rarely having luxuries in his life.

He was also a fireplug of a player—stocky, short and stoic—always thinking the game could be won, whether or not his team was down by ten runs with two down in the bottom of the ninth inning. His ability to get up to the plate and keep a game going, or to haul in a tough line drive in center field to end a game were legendary.

I always visit his plaque when I go to Cooperstown as well. I talk to him and tell him I hope he’s found peace. Kirby had to leave the game when his body was still young, but his eyesight failed him after he was diagnosed with glaucoma. He had several rounds of surgery, but nothing seemed to help. I remember his tear-filled retirement ceremony in Minnesota in 1996. It was a sad day for baseball.

He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001 during the first time of his eligibility. He died in March 2006 following a stroke. He was only 46 when he left this earth.

Finally, let me tell you about the extraordinary Jack Lanzillotti.

Jack was part of the team working at Fenway Park to produce every baseball game every day.

When Fenway Park lost its long-time public address announcer Carl Beane due to a car accident in 2012, they had no one to be in the in-park announcer. I decided to try out for the position. But first, the Red Sox had a “guest in the chair” program, for which I also applied.

On August 5, 2012, I served as Fenway Park’s public address announcer, seated above the game, telling people at the game things such as who was batting, who the Dunkin Donuts person of the day was, who the National Anthem singer was, etc. Now, even though I had 30 years’ experience in radio at the time, when I took the elevator to Fenway’s third floor, I kept asking myself, “What have you done?”

Then I met Jack.

Jack was the producer. My producer. He gave me a script. When I do radio, I don’t work from a script. I have to decide what to say spontaneously. Jack told me he’d point to the lines in the script when it was time for me to say the appropriate thing. He also showed me how to work the antique (and I mean antique) microphone (“you have to press the button before you talk”).

“Jack,” I said, “this is so easy. I work in public radio, and I have to do everything myself—log in the CDs, clean the studio, answer the phone, everything.”

“Oh, no,” he shook his head, “we try to make things as easy as possible. If there’s anything you need, let me know.”

That was Jack. Incredibly talented and helpful. He had already won an Emmy for a short video he’d done with Jacoby Ellsbury on how to steal a base.

An EMMY.

The last time I’d done anything even close to this was when I was the PA announcer for a Babe Ruth game in Schenectady, New York. But thanks to Jack, everything went smoothly. I only made one minor mistake, and Jack showed me how to correct it.

Talent and kindness. And he was young.

A couple of years later, I was checking the Boston Globe online. I saw that someone who had worked for the Red Sox was walking near Copley Square with his fiancée, and both had been killed by an unlicensed driver who mowed them down with an SUV. The guy’s name was Jack Lanzillotti.

Jack Lanzillotti.

Oh, no!

I called the Red Sox, and, indeed, it was their Jack, and his fiancée as well. Both of them gone in a second.

I went to his wake, even though it was a six-hour drive, round trip, and I had to work the next day. I stood in line for a couple of hours as well because so many people came to pay their respects. It turned out his mother worked at the same medical school my husband had attended many years ago.

At a Red Sox event about six months later, someone else whom I met during that August day told me Jack really respected my work as the PA announcer. He respected my work? I was bowled over by his talent, despite his youth, his kindness, his expertise, and his acceptance of a woman who could have been his grandmother, as he escorted me to the chair and explained everything to me.

I think of these five people every day, and what they contributed not only to baseball, but to my personal life. May everyone be as fortunate as I have been in encountering people such as these.

Book Blurb

What Little Leaguer doesn’t dream of walking from the dugout onto a Major League baseball field, facing his long-time idol and striking his out? Empty Seats follows three different minor-league baseball pitchers as they follow their dreams to climb the ladder from minor- to major-league ball, while facing challenges along the way—not always on the baseball diamond. This coming-of-age novel takes on success and failure in unexpected ways. One reviewer calls this book “a tragic version of ‘The Sandlot.’”

(Winner of the 2019 New Apple Award and 2019 Independent Publishing Award)

Author Bio

Following a successful 40-year career in public relations/marketing/media relations, Wanda Adams Fischer parlayed her love for baseball into her first novel, Empty Seats. She began writing poetry and short stories when she was in the second grade in her hometown of Weymouth, Massachusetts and has continued to write for more than six decades. In addition to her “day” job, she has been a folk music DJ on public radio for more than 40 years, including more than 37 at WAMC-FM, the Albany, New York-based National Public Radio affiliate. In 2019, Folk Alliance International inducted her into their Folk D-J Hall of Fame. A singer/songwriter in her own right, she’s produced one CD, “Singing Along with the Radio.” She’s also a competitive tennis player and has captained several United States Tennis Association senior teams that have secured berths at sectional and national events. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Northeastern University in Boston. She lives in Schenectady, NY, with her husband of 47 years, Bill, a retired family physician, whom she met at a coffeehouse in Boston in 1966; they have two grown children and six grandchildren.

Social Media Links

@emptyseatsnovel

https://www.facebook.com/EmptySeatsNovel/

https://www.wandafischer.com

Amazon and Other Purchase Links

Book: http://amzn.to/2KzWPQf

Audio book: http://bit.ly/2TKo3UC

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/empty-seats-wanda-adams-fischer/1127282887?ean=9780999504901

Thank you for supporting this author and her tour.  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please drop in on the author’s 4WillsPub  tour page.
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