More on rewrites

Pearl of Justice update

Pearl of Justice update

The hardest part about rewrites is getting started on rewrites. I swear once I rework an existing chapter, I find myself getting really excited. I forget how well I know these characters, and it is truly a blast expanding them and giving them more depth. When you think about the rewriting process, all you can picture is all the stuff that worked. It worked so well you can’t imagine making it better, but once you start tinkering, a light bulb goes off. Sometimes you even kick yourself for not seeing it before.

Of the original 96 chapters, four have been completely re-envisioned. Two of those have made Dani the focal point where she previously didn’t even appear, and one has given a little more insight into a minor character whose story will carry over into the next book and give him a little more complexity.  The first chapter is no longer the first chapter. There is a new chapter one with Dani at the helm.  I’m not done by a long shot, but I’m feeling energized, and anxious to get this to the publisher.

This is fun. Thank you, Alibi.

Rewrites and a note to beta readers

My pain. My joy. My Life.

My pain. My joy. My Life.

This is how I’m spending my days for the foreseeable future. I am in the throes of rewrites on the first Pearl of Justice novel, which is still without a title.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the rewrite process, it’s painful. I’m not going to compare it to childbirth because I am a man and that would get me shot or castrated in most states. I obviously couldn’t possibly know that kind of pain, but I am free to compare the process to getting a rectal examine from a doctor with an index finger the size of a Buick.

This rewrite is especially challenging because I’m trying to find minor fixes and tweaks to swap out protagonists’ roles, and I’m trying to do it without losing a lot of existing character development. It’s not so much like pulling a tablecloth out from under a fully set dinner table and leaving the setting intact, it’s more like pulling the table out and expecting the tablecloth and setting to hover in midair.  I’ll find a way to pull it off, but I may have to break a few laws of physics and common sense to do it.

To the beta readers of The Closeout Kings, may I be turn to you for title suggestions? You all did a terrific job of giving me pre-publication advice, so why not take advantage of your generosity and creative acumen again?   What would you name a book about Deputy Dani Pearl?  Non beta readers feel free to chime in too, here or on Facebook.

As the Pope would say, “Do I have to wear this funny hat?” Errr – I mean, pray for me.

C. Hoyt Caldwell and the Two-Book Publishing Deal

Awesome news! I’m very excited to announce that I (C. Hoyt Caldwell aka R.W. Ridley) have signed a two-book deal with Alibi, an imprint of Penguin Random House. A big thanks to my editor Dana Isaacson and my agent Curtis Russell of P.S. Literary Agency.  I could not be more thrilled to have the opportunity to explore and develop Deputy Dani Pearl’s character, and the good (and not so good) folks of Baptist Flats, Tennessee. As a woman trying to keep the law in the deep South, there is a lot of fertile ground for potential growth.  I can’t way to play!

I’ll have more details later, but for now here’s a quick video I made with a little more information.  Needless to say, today is a very good day!

Might-Could: A lesson in Southern negotiating tactics

The redneck nuclear option

The redneck nuclear option

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the South, chances are you’ve heard the phrase “might-could.” It’s a response uttered by Southerners when asked if they want to do something.  Here’s a practical application of the phrase used in an exchange between two good ol’ boys:

“Hey, Tater, you wanna go to the game on Sad’day?”

“I might-could.”

If you’re a Northerner, you undoubtedly write this off as a meaningless and unnecessary extension of the word might. You may even mistake it as an example of dimwitted rednecks butchering the English language.  You couldn’t be more wrong.

Might-could is one of the most succinct and brilliant negotiating tactics ever devised by human beings.  Using the example above, it’s a way for Tater to signal to his friend Bubba (because everyone thinks every third male in the South is named Bubba) that while he’s not particularly motivated to go to the game, he’s willing to go if his friend sweetens the deal.  Here’s the conversation played out a little further:

“Hey, Tater, you wanna go to the game on Sad’day?”

“I might-could.”

“I’ll drive.”

Okay, so now Tater knows he doesn’t have to drive. He’s intrigued enough to follow up with a question.

“What time’s the game?”


Tater tilts his head slightly to the right and smirks, indicating that 3:30 is not the ideal time for him.  Bubba ramps up the pressure.

“Game Day crew’ll be there.”

“So will a shitload of people.”

Now Bubba’s made a huge mistake. He’s introduced a negative that he thought would be a positive. He thought his friend’s affinity for ESPN’s College Game Day was the perfect enticement. Instead, he’s damaged his case. He’s forced to go nuclear.

“Gotta a case of Bud.”

“I ain’t gotta chip in for gas, do I?”

Bubba grins and spits tobacco infused saliva into his Sonic cup because he knows he just successfully sealed the deal.

Now, the question those of you who aren’t familiar with Southernisms may have is what’s the difference between might-could and might.  Frankly, might is an emphatic no.  If anyone with a Southern accent ever says to you in response to a question, “I might,” take it for the no that it is and move on. The next logical question is what happens when a Southerner says no. Here’s the deal, Southerners rarely say no. We think it’s way too rude. That’s why we came up with the might-could and might response system. If a Southerner is moved to display such a definitive rebuff as a no represents, some major shit is about to go down, and you might-should arm yourself.  BTW – might-should is the Southern way of saying “Hell yeah you should.”

In summary:

Might-could means “I’m open to the idea.”

Might means “Hell, no.”

No means “Ima beat you stupid for asking such a dumb question.”

Let the negotiations begin.

A Staged Reading and a Grateful Playwright

12015563_10152995483872131_724180267_oI had an unbelievable opportunity last night thanks to the folks at 5th Wall Productions in Charleston. I sat in an audience and watched as five extremely talented actors did a staged reading of my play Never Living.  To be honest, I now feel strange calling it MY play. I came up with the idea, gave the characters names and wrote the dialogue, but it didn’t come to life from the first act to the final curtain until last night. The actors (Fredric DeJaco, DeShawn Mason, Sarah Daniel, Jamie Young, and Mariah Baideme) and the director/moderator, Jason Oslon really added a dimension to the story that went way beyond my wildest dreams.  I probably should be embarrassed that I laughed at my own jokes and got choked up as Fred as Emmett explained how he came to love his wife, but the second the reading started, I felt like part of a collective watching my fellow travelers perform. The material benefited tremendously by the talent on the stage. As a new playwright, it’s hard not to be thrilled and moved by seeing something you’ve written and rewritten and rewritten – and rewritten being read with such care and confidence in front of a live audience.

Speaking of the audience, after the reading, Jason moderated feedback from those who took the time to spend their Monday night with us, and I got some great comments and opinions on what worked and what needed tweaking.  I’ve made a lot of friends over this past year jumping into the theater scene in Charleston, and a number of the folks I’ve come to know and admire were there. A big thank you to everyone who attended.  A special thanks to my poker night buddies who’ve been at all my public and semi-public readings.10389512_1564615963750068_8929018021791817570_n
Thanks to Jason, his co-founding partner at 5th Wall, Blair Cadden, and Kate Tooley (and I’m sure there are others to thank, but I was too awestruck to get everyone’s name) for doing a fantastic job of hosting Rough Draft Readings.  It’s a great opportunity for playwrights to hone their craft and improve a work in progress.  If you live in Charleston, checkout their current season.  Next on the docket, is a comedy written by Blair called The Stray Englishman.