Joseph E Bird

Let's talk about reading, writing and the arts.


A Prayer for Rain

A Prayer for Rain

Prayer for Rain Cover - reduced size

Trevor Larson’s future looks bright. He’s a young and gifted singer-songwriter ready to chase the dream and make his mark in the world of music. But a devastating accident takes it all away, and leaves him physically and emotionally scarred.

As he rebuilds his life as an architect, he wrestles with his own self-worth. When he discovers new ways to express himself musically, his physical appearance gives rise to a new musical persona which propels him into a world for which he is not prepared. Ultimately, he must decide if his renewed dream of stardom is worth sacrificing his true identity as an artist and a person.

Set to an eclectic sound track as people come and go in Trevor’s life, A Prayer for Rain deals with the timeless themes: Respect. Contentment. Friendship. And of course, love. It delivers hope when all seems lost.

Available now at Amazon.

It’s an honor to be mentioned.

A Prayer for Rain
Honorable Mention, Book Length Prose, WV Writers Competition, 2016

Song of the Lost
Honorable Mention, Book Length Prose, WV Writers Competition, 2016

Hope springs.

seedling 2 for web

As he awakened to the passing of time, his mind skipped over fall, passed by winter, and envisioned signs of a coming spring. Not outside the window of the conference room, where the shadows of the morning and the afternoon grew longer, and the mountains in the distance transformed into an impressionistic painting, but within himself, where the seeds of optimism and hope that had been planted by so many people over the years, were finally growing.

excerpt from A Prayer for Rain, by joseph e bird, copyright 2016

Words matter.

One of my writing mentors, Sol Stein, once told me to avoid melodrama in my fiction, melodrama being characterized by exaggerated scenes or characters that are intended to appeal to the emotions.  The damsel in distress tied to the railroad tracks. The villain twirling his mustache.

I’ve been editing A Prayer for Rain, and even after great input from several readers, my manuscript is covered with red marks of my own doing.  Much of what I’m finding are sentences and phrases that make me cringe. Phrases that I thought were good when I wrote them, but now jump out at me as melodramatic. Even a simple word choice can make a sentence melodramatic.

In one scene, Trevor has an exchange with Jess, a young woman who works at a convenience store. Since his accident five years before, he has had very little physical contact with anyone, and when they shake hands for the first time, he has this reaction:

He took her hand in his and though it was only for a moment, he relished the soft touch of her skin on his.

The word in question is relish. By definition, it’s accurate enough. It simply means to take pleasure in something. But in reading it afresh, it strikes me as a little bit of an over-reaction.  I picture Trevor going “ahhhhh” and quivering like a bowl of jelly. Come on, man. Get a grip. It seems melodramatic to me now.

Here’s the current version:

He took her hand in his and though it was only for a moment, he appreciated the soft touch of her skin on his.

I’m not sure appreciated will be the final word choice, but it definitely takes away the melodrama. Trevor notices her in a unique way, but he’s not about to melt into a pile of butter.

I said to the guys at the Shelton College Review the other day that sometimes I’ll open my manuscript to a random page and read a couple of sentences and get embarrassed by the poor quality of the writing. I think what I’m seeing when I do that is the amateurish, melodramatic passages. Recognizing the problem is the first step to recovery, right?

That’s why there’s red ink all over my pages.

Words matter.







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