Lane Everett's Blog

March 30, 2016

On location: Why and How I Chose the Setting

A Northern Gentleman is set in five different locations. The main character, Drucker May, is on an epic cross country journey and in each stop that he makes he gets into a new adventure, with a new set of characters and challenges that he encounters in each location. The setting of each of these stops is integral to what he gets himself into there.

Four of the five locations are real and one is fictional but very well could have been real. As I was choosing the cities that each section of the book would take place in, I found that the decision came down to the action that would take place in each. A small town, a state capital, a mining outpost, the coastline...each place brings with it the ability to host a specific sort of adventure -- and also a certain type struggle -- for Drucker.

So that’s the why. As for the how, I read other people’s fictional accounts that had taken place in similar locations to get a sense for how others understood the place. I read non-fiction historical accounts of those locations to make sure that I had my facts straight. But, to cite an old cliche, a picture is worth a thousand words, and the most useful resource in writing about a location was the photographs that I found of those places. Some were found through Google image search, others on Pinterest or in books. The pictures were incredibly useful as I worked on painting a picture of my own, using words.

Using photographs as a device for understanding the nature of a time and place -- that is, seeing a scene in order to set it, was also particularly appropriate given the first line of the book. “There’s a photograph that’s kept upstairs…” are the first words of the story. I didn’t realize until long after I’d written them, how those words would foreshadow so much of what followed them in the Drucker May’s epic journey as well as my own writing process.
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Published on March 30, 2016 12:06 Tags: image, journey, location, photography, picture, process, setting

February 27, 2016

Tips for Fighting Writer’s Block -- and Winning!

When I run up against writer’s block I try to do the following:

1. I reread what I’ve written ...And usually that means editing what I’ve written. I almost always find something that can be tightened, a word choice that can be improved, or a line of dialogue that can be punched up. Editing can be as productive as writing new content, and though you don’t feel like you’re moving forward, editing is an incredibly important part of telling the story well so it’s worth the time investment. Plus, going back and re-reading gets you back into the rhythm of your own writing and tests you -- as a reader -- to see if you’re interested in the story that’s unfolding on the page.

2. I bullet things out ....If I’m not ready for prose, I try to at least get those thoughts down on paper in some form so that they can stop chasing each other around in my head. Plus, once they’re written down I don’t have to worry about forgetting them when I’m feeling ready to write later on.

3. I write stream of consciousness, leaving lots of blanks like this ______ for me to come back and fill in later ...I think this technique works best for writers who have a lot of rhythm in their prose because sometimes a writer can hear the beat of the whole sentence or string of sentences even before he or she knows exactly which words to use. It’s also great for writers whose minds move quicker than their fingers can write or type. Sometimes a writer knows exactly how that sentence will end and it’s better to get that down rather than slow things down by figuring out every word on the way there.

4. If all else fails, I give myself a break and try not to worry about it. Writing is supposed to be fun. There’s no use in turning the process into torture!

….Enough said!
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Published on February 27, 2016 07:41 Tags: content, editing, fun, organization, writer-s-block

February 11, 2016

Top Five Questions I’ve gotten about A Northern Gentleman -- including answers!

Question 1:
You have a full time job -- how did you find the time to write a novel?

I wish I could say that I had a strict writing schedule but I didn’t. Sometimes I would block off time over the lunch hour, as if I had a lunch meeting with book. Sometimes I would find chunks of time during travel or on weekends. Sometimes I would task myself with writing 100 words a day for a month -- and then I would put it down for several weeks, exhausted by meeting the challenge. So, my writing wasn’t regular, but I did prioritize forward progress and that made finding time to write a fun challenge in itself.

Question 2:
Why is it called A Northern Gentleman? He’s not even from the north!

He’s not, and now that you mention it, he’s not really much of a gentleman when it comes down to it. I love stories with twists and turns and this one is certainly full of ironies.

Question 3:
How did you do research to write a story that takes place in 1890?

I can’t imagine how much harder it was to write historical fiction before the existence of Google making the world’s information discoverable! Google was invaluable in the process. I would Google details as small as “what did coffee smell like in the 1890s” and be pointed to blogs that could answer that question. I also read a few books - but most of my research was internet based.

Question 4:
Is there a book club discussion guide?

Yes! A book club discussion guide is up on my site. Please reach out to my through the contact page on my site if your book club would like to buy discounted copies.

Question 5:
Are you working on another novel? Is it a sequel?

Yes, I’m working on another novel! It’s similar to A Northern Gentleman in that it’s another expression of an “All American” story and its foundation is historical rather than taking place in current times. But whereas A Northern Gentleman is an epic journey, this is more of a love-story-meets-mystery. I think of it as a combination between the romantic journey in the movie When Harry Met Sally, the nostalgia of the television show The Wonder Years and the recurring check-ins that are in a device in the novel and movie One Day or the movie This Time Next Year, starring Alan Alda. I hope it will be published in 2017.
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February 2, 2016

Who is Lane Everett?

“Who is John Galt?” Ayn Rand, one of the most influential authors’ in my life as a reader and a writer asks time and again in her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged. Although the man John Galt is not identified by name until late in the novel, anyone who has read Atlas Shrugged will have that question, "Who is John Galt?" ingrained in their memory, even if nothing else about the man, the myth or the legendary quest to discover the answer particularly sticks.

And, “Who is Lane Everett?”
Lane Everett is a nom de plume, that is a pen name.
If you’re wondering whether Lane Everett is a man or a woman -- thank you! That was my intention. When writing A Northern Gentleman I wanted the author’s gender to be ambiguous. It’s a story about a man’s quest -- and it examines gender roles and archetypes. I wanted the reader to be free to consider any questions that brought up, and to enjoy Drucker’s epic quest, without the burden of the author’s gender weighing on their minds.

So, why Lane Everett?
I wanted to use a pen name for several reasons. For one, I wanted to draw a line between fact and fiction in my own life. That is, the fact of the matter is that I have a day job that pays the bills and that I enjoy very much. I didn’t want to intermingle my professional identity as an advertising executive in New York City with my identity as the author of A Northern Gentleman and other forthcoming works of fiction.

If your question is “but why Lane Everett?” I can tell you this: I wanted a name that was unisex and All-American. Ultimately, I chose a name that shared my initials, so that I could relate to it, but in all other ways was distinct from my own name. I wanted the ability to create an identity for myself and so like the hero of A Northern Gentleman, that is what I did.
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Published on February 02, 2016 11:21 Tags: gender-roles, nom-de-plume, pen-name