All Systems Appear Nominal

I just loaded my manuscript into a Kindle Previewer tool to see how it looks.  As far as I can tell, it looks like it is properly formatted and ready to upload.  Now all I need is my revamped cover for my Create Space version and I can launch.  I’m a lot closer than I ever thought.  The butterflies in my gut are really starting to churn, or maybe it’s just lunch!

Why A Novel?

Hello again!

I’m going to continue the story of how The Railroad Man came to be, but first I must let you all in on a little secret.  Most people who know me are aware of this little quirk of mine.  I know that most people who are interested in reading this novel are avid readers who devour novels one after the other.  And most people who write novels are avid readers themselves.  I am not!  In fact, the last novel I read was Huckleberry Finn as part of my Freshmen college English class in 1980.  We had to take a theme in the novel and try to find what its meaning was.  Since the principle setting for the novel was the raft trip down the mighty Mississippi River, I chose the river and how it relates to the way life just flows along, meandering from one place to another and taking a person along with it for the ride.  It was total college level B.S.!  But I got an A for my report.  Guess I should have known then that I was a fairly competent writer!

It’s not like I don’t read ANYTHING.  I do read magazines, newspapers and the like.  But when it comes to books, I usually read non-fiction histories, mostly of railroads that interested me.

I have a problem when I read.  I get fidgety, uncomfortable, and distracted.  I’d rather be using my hands to create something with.  I like to build models, to draw, to work on my car, and to write.  I also prefer more visual past times to reading.  I like to watch movies, sports, or a quality television show, of which there aren’t too many these days.  To be totally honest, I always envisioned The Railroad Man as a film, first and foremost.

So why a novel?  Well, the dream of seeing my story as a film was born and died almost in the same instant.  I knew being from New Jersey that I’d have less than a zero chance of selling a screenplay to a movie company based across the country in Los Angeles.  But then I thought that since New York was the publishing capital of the world, maybe, just maybe, I could write this story in novel form and see if I could sell it.

There are some out there who probably think that I was crazy for going about it this way, that since I didn’t read fiction, how could I possibly write fiction?

Many avid readers dream about one day writing a novel of their own.  They are a fan of a certain author or authors and they start thinking that, “I can do something like this.”  They may have a very good story idea and a clear vision for how they want it to play out on the pages.  Then they fall into the big pitfall:  They try to imitate the style of their favorite author like, say, Tom Clancy.  And that’s where many writers fail, because the hard truth is the only person who can write like Tom Clancy is Tom Clancy, rest his soul.

Since I had no favorite author, I had no one’s style to emulate.  I therefore had to “wing it.”  And in the process, I created my own unique style.

But my writing style had to be matured, aged.  This became very clear to me when I reviewed my proto-manuscript from 1990 after leaving it in a box for eight long years.  I thought I had a better handle on things when I began the new, current version of my story in 2010.  Unfortunately, that would not be the case.  Its first draft was a monstrous 125,000+ words!  So even though I had no favorite author who’s style I was trying to imitate, I still had fallen into the writer’s pitfall.  Like I said, I basically read mostly non-fiction histories.  These were written in a very scholarly, wordy fashion and my early writing style reflected that.  It was too long-winded for a suspense thriller!

This was pointed out to me when I joined a writers group on line called Absolute Write.  The fine people there have been, and continue to be, some of the most gracious and helpful in educating me in the craft of writing.  One of my early contacts there named Stan Miller really went the extra mile.  He pointed out the flaws and helped me do what I thought was the impossible:  To cut my 125,000 word heavyweight manuscript down to a taut, fast-paced 89,000 word streamliner.  (Some railroad analogies there!)  The editing has continued for the past three years, and now here The Railroad Man sits, on the threshold of publication.

More later.  See you then.


Hello there, and welcome to my blog!  My name is John Pasquariello, and I have never done anything like this before, so please bear with me as I feel my way along here.  I’ve been married to my lovely wife Anne for almost 25 years now and have two fine sons:  John Vincent, Jr. (JV for short) who is 22, and Joseph, who is a very active 11.

So what is this blog about?  Well, it’s primarily about my first novel, The Railroad Man, which will be available for purchase soon.  I’m just giving it a “pre-flight inspection” before I set it loose on the world.  But I’ll be touching on other subjects along the way, too.

To say I’m passionate about this novel is an understatement.  The idea for it came to me almost 25 years ago!  It led to my writing what I call a “proto-manuscript” of the story back in 1990, written on a Tandy WP 100 word processor, about one half step above a traditional type writer!  I tried unsuccessfully to get it published via the old fashioned way:  Mailing query letters and sample chapters to literary agents with stamped, self-addressed envelopes.  Back then, bulk copier services charged about 3-5 cents per page.  Even so, the totals added up fast.

After almost 5 years of trying, I gave up and put the manuscripts (I had 2 full copies made plus my original.) in a box and walked away.

Life went on after that.  New jobs.  New house.  My son JV grew like a weed.

Then 9/11 happened, and as I was working by then for my current employer, NJ Transit, I witnessed the collapse of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center from our terminal in Hoboken.  I swore I could hear the buildings as the crumbled.  It was day I will never forget.

In 2002, my wife and I were blessed with a new son, Joseph.  All was good.  But late in 2004, I injured my back.  This put me on the rack for several months.  In no time at all, I was bored to tears.  Looking for something to do, I started rummaging around my basement, and found the box I had stored my proto-manuscript in all those years before.  For shits and giggles, I took it out and started paging through it.  It was at that moment I realized why my earlier attempts to get the story published met with such total rejection:  It was BAD!  Very, very bad.

However, there were some scenes that were very good, in my opinion (For whatever that may be worth!).   And I felt that if I salvaged those scenes and put them in a new storyline that, maybe, I might have a story that people would want to read and truly enjoy.

Armed with almost 10 years of life experience, plus the haunting memories of 9/11, I started putting a new storyline together.  And I had a new tool to work with:  A computer, and through it, the internet.  It was a revelation for me.  No more trying to hunt down hard copies of magazine articles, books and encyclopedias at the library, or trying to get personal interviews with “experts” in whatever field I needed to amass information in.  Now, it was all just about at my fingertips.  I started researching elements of my story that I was unfamiliar with, collecting information in dribs and drabs.  In some cases, I was afraid I’d be getting a knock on the door from a couple of sunglass-wearing Federal Agents asking me what I was up to.  Luckily, that never happened.

After 5 years, I felt I had enough research to make my new storyline “fly.”  All I had to do now was find the time to write it.  Then, unfortunately for me, I injured myself again, this time my knee.  Once again, I found myself in the rack for a number of months.  This was the summer of 2010.  While my recuperation progressed, a friend of mine who shares my interests in trains and railroading sent me a link to a trailer for a new movie that was coming out that November.  The film was Unstoppable, about an unmanned train rampaging through the countryside, starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine.  When I saw this, I almost fell out of my chair!  (Almost hurt my other knee in the process too!)  Unfortunately, that film was in no way anywhere close to accurate in the way they portrayed the story.  It could have been far better and more exciting if it were done differently, but this blog is not meant as a critique of that film.  Suffice to say, it was just not a well executed movie.  And it in no way bared any resemblance to the storyline in my novel, either the one in my proto-manuscript or the re-vamped one I had developed.  However, I felt that if a major film studio was putting out a film with such a heavy railroad theme to it, then the iron will never be hotter for me to write the new version of my novel.

So I set out writing.  And I finished the initial manuscript that November, 1 week to the day after Unstoppable hit the theaters.

For the last 3 years now, I have been editing, reworking and refining the manuscript, much of it with the help of a great bunch of fellow writers on a site called Absolute Write.  Those guys taught me more about the craft of writing in the 3 years since I found them than I learned in all my years prior.

So now it’s finally ready.  It’s been a crazy 25 year journey.  And it will soon be available for all of you to see in the next few weeks.  And as this blog progresses, I’ll fill you in with some deeper background as to the story line and its themes as well as just how this all came to be.  And it will be a lot shorter than this entry!  Thanks for dropping by, and I hope you’ll stick around to see just how The Railroad Man came to be.