King’s 11/22/63 Reminiscent of His Old School Masterworks

Why bother having a blog related to time travel fiction if you don’t review a work of time travel fiction once in a while? That said, I just finished reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63. For the first time in years, I can say that in 11/22/63 I picked up a Stephen King novel that I could not put down. I think the last time I was able to say that was way back in 1998 when he released Bag of Bones.

In 2011, English teacher Jake Epping’s diner-owning acquaintance Al Templeton lets him in on a little secret: there’s a rip, or a rabbit hole, or a bubble in time of some sort living in the back of his diner. This little portal into the past always opens to the same place on the same date at the same time: Septemer 9, 1958. Al tells Jake about this not just for kicks, but because for two minutes of present time and five years of the past, Al has been plotting to use the trip in time to track Lee Harvey Oswald, President John F. Kennedy’s assassin.

Al’s ultimate goal–which is the same goal to which any time traveler in a similar situation might aspire–was to stop Oswald from killing Kennedy, thereby putting right what once went wrong (to quote another famous time traveler). Unfortunately, years of Fatburgers and cigarette smoke have caught up with Templeton, and he is unable to complete the mission himself because he is overcome by the nasty final stages of lung cancer.

Enter Jake, who eventually takes Templeton’s place as the would-be Oswald-stopper, only to find it’s not so easy to change history. In fact, the past fights against the time traveler. Add to that the relationships and love for the late 1950s and early 1960s that Jake develops along the way, and changing the past becomes more difficult than ever (or too easy, depending on how you look at it).

All in all, 11/22/63 is vintage King. He baits you with the concept, hooks you with the internal monologue and likability of his central character, then reels you in with all the twists, turns, chaos, and beauty of masterful tale telling. You even get reacquainted with some old friends from another vintage King tale along the way. Unlike some of the repeat characters in that sprawling Dark Tower megaverse, Jake’s encounter with a young girl and boy who once fought an evil clown is elemental to one of the story’s significant subplots.

11/22/63 was the first novel I downloaded to the new Nook tablet I received for Christmas last year. At first I worried about that. I wanted my Nook tablet reading experience to be a grand one, and I knew that–as a longtime King fan–I had been disappointed by his previous several novel efforts (the short story collections are a different matter). However, my decision turned out to be a great one. Honestly, 11/22/63 made the very new experience of reading an entire novel for pleasure on a 7-inch electronic device feel as close as you can get to curling up with a thick printed book and subsequently falling Myst-like into an entirely different world.

Experiencing 11/22/63 was reading without being aware of the fact that you’re reading. And that is exactly what first drew me to King’s work back in 1987 and kept me reading all these years.

About Time

Five years ago, I set out to publish an eBook. The so-called eBook revolution was still a distant speck on the horizon. At the time, the Kindle had barely sparked. There was no Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, or iRiver. I’m not entirely sure why I embarked on the journey, except that I had the idea for the story and it was burning a hole in my head.

I wrote and copyrighted the 10,000-word story. Upon completion, I discovered that I was uncertain of the exact type of work I had created. I originally called it a novella. Then I decided that it was much too short to be called a novella, so I called it a short story. Now I’m calling it a novelette based on the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) guidelines for manuscript sizes.

With great anticipation, I "designed" the eBook (only to find out much later that what I created was an absolute abomination in terms of the true meaning of the word "design"). I generated a PDF and circulated it among a few close friends. Then I let it die undistributed.


At the time, self-publishing and distributing an eBook didn’t really seem all that easy to me. I researched it a little and gave up, choosing instead to submit the manuscript to a variety of traditionally published science fiction magazines. Inevitably, the manuscript either didn’t fit into the publication’s guidelines or was simply not what the editor was "looking for."

This Christmas, I was gifted with my first e-reader device (unless you count the e-Reader apps I had previously installed on my laptop and my phone). I love it. It caused me to immediately purchase and download the newest Stephen King work. Additionally, it inspired me to revisit my long dormant novelette. 

The process of self-publishing an eBook as been much simplified recently. It is as simple as uploading the book to the various eBook distribution channels (or using a service that does that for you). You can even upload your book if it is a design abomination. However, I chose to have my original manuscript professionally designed instead. Although an eBook is not the same as a print book, I still think it should be pleasing to and easy on the eyes.

Therefore, I am pleased to announce that my novelette will soon be available for download in Kindle and ePub formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, and the Google eBookstore. I am also pleased to announce that the process (plus a little prodding from some friends and loved ones) has inspired me to renew my efforts to finish the second draft of my novel.

So, Happy New Year to all you budding authors out there. I’m going to spend 2012 writing. I hope you do as well.

The Long Stall

You need not expect to get your book right the first time. Go to work and revamp or rewrite it. God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God’s adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by.
–Mark Twain

Writers, according to tradition, are notorious procrastinators. We are especially adept at finding distractions to prevent ourselves from typing those first few new words on the screen, those words that inevitably lead to sentences, which lead to descriptive narrative, which leads to active narrative, which leads to a completed work of literature. We’ll daydream about publication. We’ll dream up possible book cover designs, even though we’re not graphic designers. We’ll consider catchy marketing copy. We’ll ponder how we can use social media to sell the work.

In the end, nothing about that process gets a manuscript from the first draft stage to completion.

Nearly two years ago, I finished the first draft of my novel. I planned on taking a six-week vacation from it before I began the rewrite process, hopeful that I would have a completed second draft within a span of three months. Seven months later, I hadn’t even reread the first draft, much less performed any editing or rewrites. Finally, I forced myself to begin the rewrite process, and I was overjoyed to discover that I once again became completely immersed in the world I had created in the first draft. After a month of work, I had rewritten and edited nearly one-third of the manuscript. The plot thickened and tightened as I wrote. I scrapped some elements of the story entirely. Others, I explored in more detail.

Then life happened, as it is prone to do, and the writing stopped again.

I am sorry to say that I have not returned to the novel rewrite process since, although I have taken time out to complete work on a few smaller projects. I do hope to circle back to it soon. Occassionally a voice calls out to me from that world I was writing about, and the urge hits me to revisit it, to carve on it a little more.


85,000 Words and Counting

It’s been a long road, and I still have a couple of miles to go. Last night, though, I achieved a milestone that is only 3,000 words shy of my original goal of an 88,000-word first draft novel. In the end, the first draft seems like it’s going to be significantly longer than I had anticipated.

Over time, of course, the story has changed. The characters have taken on lives of their own and have altered the path and meaning of their collective journey in ways I couldn’t have possibly conceived when I started this project in earnest a year and a half ago.

I have planned and outlined two final chapters for this draft, the first of which I will begin authoring tomorrow night. If all goes well, I hope to take the month of October as an opportunity to take a break from crafting this story–to get some fresh perspective–before the revision and editing process must begin.

The more I look back at this process and what it has wrought, the more excited I am about completing this phase. And the more excited I get about completing this phase of the novel, the more I anticipate the next phase. Truly, the act of novel writing is a joyful process of discovery for me.

Why did I wait so long to do it?

Making Time

I’m close. So close.

After writing just three more chapters, I will become one of the storied 8 percent of would-be novelists who ever actually completes a first draft. I do not know from where that figure comes, nor am I particularly inclined to research it just now. But it does feel good to think that I am almost to a place where I can count myself among those who have had the spark of inspiration for writing a novel, and then gone on to actually do the work of writing it.

The past week has been a particularly devastating one in terms of making time to sit down and type on a keyboard outside of work. Bad news, sad news, illness, accidents, and simply life in general can all step in front of a writer’s "me" time, which is the time he uses to physically put those thoughts and ideas that have been rolling around like boulders in his head all day into narrative form in a word processor. The past week, for me, has been a doozy.

Fortunately, we are still near the beginning of the long Labor Day weekend here in the United States. And, after building some shelves in my garage this afternoon and doing some other maintenance around the house, I plan to spend a great chunk of some "me" time working on my third-to-last chapter for the novel I started back in 2008 (or 2004, if you count the 1,500 words I initially wrote while on vacation for a week in Myrtle Beach).

I can’t wait to write the last chapter, so I can find out what happens.

And the 75,000th word is…


In my not-so-spare time, I have been working on a novel.

I’ve been writing for 1-to-2 hours per night for months, after a nearly year-long hiatus on the project while the duties of my day job spun my life into a 24/7 tech support spiral. I originally stopped working on it in May of 2008. I picked it up again almost exactly a year later after finding a new job that required me to spend less of my spare time working.

I actually began writing this novel while on vacation at Myrtle Beach in the early summer of 2004. At first it was a mere 1,500 word introduction to an idea without a direction. Really, I didn’t even have any characters at that point. I started with a simple description of a scene in my head. From there, the story just kind of grew on its own.

Tonight, that simple scene has produced words that form sentences, sentences that form paragraphs, paragraphs that form pages, and pages that form chapters, and chapters that form…well, 75,000 words. It’s a magic number in the world of novel writing. Everywhere you look online, you’ll see that 75,000 words is often the delimiter that defines the difference between a novella and a novel. Once you hit the 75,000 mark, you are writing a full-on novel.

To put it in perspective, what I have written so far is almost 2,000 fewer words than Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

That said, I am not done. I have begun the concluding arc in this tale, but there is much more left to do. One thing I can say at this point, though, is that I now have an expectation of approximately how long the first draft manuscript will be when completed.

And, yes, the 75,000th word in my novel really is the word “hand.”

Two Peas Launches Paperback edition of “Jennifer’s Plan”

Two Peas Publishing announces the paperback release of Don Meyer’s novel Jennifer’s Plan (ISBN: 978-0984077311). The book is available through and other online retail outlets.

The novel is an action-oriented crime drama that follows Jennifer Cerriety as she fulfills her plan to seek retribution against a gang of roughnecks who commit unspeakable acts of violence against her and a man named Harold Seaweather.

Midwest Book Review gave the hardcover edition of Jennifer’s Plan five stars, calling it “a masterpiece of narrative storytelling and a highly recommended addition to community library collections and supplemental reading lists.”

Don Meyer is the author of three books, including Jennifer’s Plan, Winter Ghost, and the Vietnam War memoir The Protected Will Never Know.

Jennifer’s Plan is available for purchase by booksellers from Two Peas Publishing. It is available for retail purchase through, Don Meyer’s website, and other retail outlets.

To Publish or Self-Publish

Recently, while thinking about some work I’d done on a new
project I’m working on, I happened upon an article about writing a
novel in 100 days or less.

There’s a great amount of good advice in there, especially for the
first-time novelist. But along about the last 10 days of his process, I
started wondering how long ago the article was written, and why there’s
no mention of on-demand printing and self-publishing as options for the

In a little less than a decade, the Internet changed the world, in both the way we communicate and the way we conduct business, especially in the world of publishing.

Newspapers (particularly their classifieds) are struggling with the
freedom websites like CraigsList provide. People no longer have to pay
a person on the phone, who may or may not be able to spell, money to
print their ad for a single time in a product fewer and fewer people
are bothering to pick up.

Likewise, there once was a time when a writer could spend months or
even years of his life working on his craft, his masterpiece, and it
was up to an editor or an agent to determine whether the book was
“worth” the risk and cost of printing to the publisher, to try in
advance to guess how well it would sell.

The article above goes so far as to even suggest what type of bag to
carry around your printed manuscript in and things to do and think
about while you’re struggling to get your work represented by an agent
or accepted by a publisher.

These days, though, we have,,,
eBook/PDF-creation tools, and gigabytes upon gigabytes of cheap Web
space. Indeed, these days if you want to get your words out there for
the world to read, it’s much easier than relying on an agent or an
editor to decide for you whether the public will ever get the

Of course, easier opportunity still does not guarantee that the public will bite and read your work, and there is the expense of actually marketing your work to consider, which traditional publishers perform well.

Still, if you’re like me, you’re writing because it’s something you
like to do, and you’re publishing just because you want to get your
work out there, and not necessarily to make a living off it.

Back to work.