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August 9, 2013

Paul H. Landes: A Writer's Best Friend

As authors we often find ourselves buried in some cubbyhole at the far end of our house surrounded by empty coffee mugs, wadded up paper and shredded food wrappers. When we finally emerge from our musty cavern we feel like a Grisly bear awakening from an extended hibernation. Yes, penning the next great novel can be a life of solitude where we talk out loud to ourselves, act out the part of our characters and even meditate to search for new ideas.

Sound familiar? This was my daily routine as I cranked out my first novel, Wings to Redemption, but when I started my recent novel, Latitude 87.7, I was hit with an epiphany— I needed a writing friend, someone I could talk to, someone who would listen and someone who could take my rants and outbursts in perfect stride.

From the fist day I started Latitude 87.7 until the day I finished it, I called upon Moose to be that special companion. He’d never been through the process before, but his credentials for listening to my every word and to be available at my beckon call were impeccable. As a two year old, spry and rambunctious Rhodesian Ridgeback, my pet was the perfect choice.

Now he’s not so good when it comes to proof reading or dangling participles, but he’s proven his mettle in creating some interesting dialog. I wrote several scenes that centered on Grandfather Wilkinson, a stately, older gentleman who has lived his whole life in Australia. I was reviewing one of the scenes when Moose, as he always does, let me know it was chow time. His paw landed on my keyboard, I saw flashes on the screen and I howled in terror. When I finished putting back the pieces I stared in amazement. Moose had given me the one part I needed to make the dialog read in the native Aussie tongue. I looked at the sentence - “No worries. I need to know what’s goin on.” –  he had erased the “g” from going. Brilliant! I read and re-read the dialog again and everything sounded much more, well, Aussielike.

I gave him some extra food for dinner that night and he curled up on his bed in what had become his usual spot—right next to me. When I finished up that particular scene I ended up with just the folksy, native tone I wanted. Take a look: “Aye, have been for mosta ma life. He’s a fine man. The best thar is. Come now, though, he wasn’t expectin ya ‘till this arvo. He’ll be gobsmacked that yar here now.” Much better, don’t ya think?

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Over the past eight months the two of us developed our own routine. After breakfast we’d go for a walk on the beach where he’d dig in the sand, chase the waves and play with driftwood while I’d think about what I wanted to write about that day. In the afternoon we’d walk through the Redwoods and he’d run, sniff and play about while I pondered over new ideas. After dinner we usually headed back to the beach where we’d play and create some more and then we’d write together into the wee hours. Simpatico—that’s the two of us.

When we finally finished the story and I had re-read it and re-read it, it was time to send it off to be formatted. I sat on the floor next to Moose and gave him a few pets, a few hugs and a big kiss. I reached over, grabbed his rather enormous paw and placed it on the “Send” button. Poof—it was gone! I was truly gobsmacked at that moment and when I looked over at him it was obvious what he was thinking. We bolted out the front door and the two us ran, full speed, to the beach.

I belong to a writers’ group and we meet regularly to hash over things. Now that Moose is a seasoned writer in his own rite, I can’t wait to introduce him to the group. Who knows what ideas that may spawn?

About the author:
Father of two, husband to one and the proud half-owner of three loyal dogs.​
I have traveled and maneuvered through the corporate world as an executive, real estate developer and consultant. Along the way I encountered some successes and some failures, but all-in-all, I have gained life experiences that serve me well today. I guess I became a full-time author in August, 2011. I was searching for something meaningful to do when I re-opened the story that Kristen and I started together so many years ago. Since then, I have been writing, writing and writing.​
I have always been and will continue to be a true adventurer, seeking new ideas, new places to visit and new goals to conquer. I can be spotted swimming in lakes and rivers and I am usually accompanied by my faithful Ridgeback when hiking the mountains or fishing its streams.
Paul’s next novel, Latitude 87.7, will be available on September 1st and you will find it on his website.
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