About Russ Colchamiro


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Russ Colchamiro has written 704 articles so far, you can find them below.


Just When I Thought I was Out …

One of the real traps of writing is that the revision stage can literally last forever, if you let it. There’s always some phrase that could be just a little bit better, always some piece that doesn’t really need to be there, or, as if often the case, some section that needs just a little more explanation or clarification.

It happened to me yet again last night.

My wife, Liz, finished reading the most current draft of my manuscript. She really liked it overall, but she had a few questOne of the real traps of writing is that the revision stage can literally last forever, if you let it. There’s always some phrase that could be just a little bit better, always some piece that doesn’t really need to be there, or, as if often the case, some section that needs just a little more explanation or clarification.

It happened to me yet again last night.

My wife, Liz, finished reading the most current draft of my manuscript. She really liked it overall, but she had a few questions. Some of them I had actually answered the draft she read, but she had simply forgotten, but some others … well, they needed a little something.

Which is such a killer. Forgive the overuse of the quote, but when it comes to this book, it’s like every time I’m out, they pull me back in.

And the thing is, her question was right on the money. It involved a section toward the end that really did need just a little more explanation. It didn’t take long to update, so it wasn’t any trouble, it’s just that I’D FINALLY LOVE TO BE DONE FOR GOOD!

And yet, I don’t want any loose threads or unexplained sections floating around out there. I’m not going to rewrite any turns of phrase or passages that I look back at and think they could be better. At this point, what’s there is there. But when it comes to logic lines or plot, if something’s not quite right, or just doesn’t add up, then I’ll go back and tweak it.

You always think you’re done, but the truth is there’s always something that could be fixed and updated. It’s just a matter of making a decision to be done, and living with it. If you revise forever, that’s all you ever do.

Eventually, it’s just time to move on.

I’d love to say I’m absolutely done at this point–I don’t have any plans to make any more revisions–but if that’s what the manuscript needs, then that’s what I’ll do. It won’t stop me from sending it out to get published, but I’ll tweak if necessary.

Hopefully, I won’t need to tweak for much longer.

Food Nuisance

Ten years ago I worked in a small publishing company in the Flatiron District of New York City, where a guy in my department said that he hated food. He said food was a nuisance, and he wished he could do without it.

Naturally, I rolled my eyes and made faces. He was being bizarre and ridiculous, and I told him so. I mean, how could you not like food?

Well, now I?m getting those very same looks because I?ve gotten to the point where I can?t stand food either. Now, before you join theTen years ago I worked in a small publishing company in the Flatiron District of New York City, where a guy in my department said that he hated food. He said food was a nuisance, and he wished he could do without it.

Naturally, I rolled my eyes and made faces. He was being bizarre and ridiculous, and I told him so. I mean, how could you not like food?

Well, now I?m getting those very same looks because I?ve gotten to the point where I can?t stand food either. Now, before you join the fray and start rolling your eyes at me?like my wife and dad did just last night?at least hear me out first.

I love a good meal, I just can?t stand having to deal with food.

Think about how much food we put into our bodies, and why. Even if you go by the standard pace of three meals a day?breakfast, lunch and dinner?and don?t count snacks of any kind, that equates to 21 meals a week or 1,092 meals a year, which comes to just under 11,000 meals in a decade. And if you live to be 85, that?s pushing 90,000 meals in a lifetime.

90,000!

There?s only so many turkey sandwiches I can eat before I can?t stand the site of one. Or ham and cheese. Or PB and J. Or tuna fish. Or whatever.

Sure, I?ve got my favorites?if only pizza and bacon cheeseburgers helped me lose weight?but just having to [i]think[/i] about food, about having to make a decision about what to eat, is a pain in my you know what.

Food is fuel. Food keeps our engines running. And a few hours after we eat we have to refuel. And again. And then again, again and again. Imagine if you had to go the gas station three times a day [i]every … single … day [/i]in order to keep you car running. I mean, every day. Wouldn?t that annoy you to no end? Wouldn?t you just get sick of having to even think about it?

If it was up to me we would be able to swallow a pill?gulp?that would give us all the fuel and nutrition we need for the day. And on those occasions when I was in the mood for something tasty, I?d eat a meal the old fashion way. I would pick out something scrumptious to enjoy?pure pleasure. Otherwise, I?d gladly settle for the gulp.

Yeah yeah, I know, I know. Having to eat regularly sounds like a strange thing to gripe about. There are plenty of people in the world who would kill just to be able to eat three meals a day. So it?s not like I don?t recognize that my problem isn?t really a problem.

When I really think about it, I?m not annoyed with the actual food, but having to [i]deal[/i] with food. To go shopping. To prepare the meals. To put mental energy into picking between mayo or mustard. To think today about what I need to eat tomorrow. We?re all so overworked and maxed out, that making time to prepare meals?to even think about preparing meals?has become an exhaustive annoyance.

Something ain?t right here. I gotta get my head straight on this one, because by my calculations, I?ve got a whole lotta meals ahead of me. And unless somebody?s holding out, there?s still no pill for that.

Cat Fright

When I came home from work today I expected Alex (my cat) to peak his head up from the couch, where he spends most days, look at me for a minute, and then jump down, stroll over, and demand some immediate attention. He’s been on his own all day, after all, so naturally his welcome should come before I get a chance to take of my jacket.

Fair enough.

But there was no Alex. He wasn’t on the couch. He wasn’t in the kitchen. He wasn’t on my bed and he wasn’t in the second bedroom. He wasWhen I came home from work today I expected Alex (my cat) to peak his head up from the couch, where he spends most days, look at me for a minute, and then jump down, stroll over, and demand some immediate attention. He’s been on his own all day, after all, so naturally his welcome should come before I get a chance to take of my jacket.

Fair enough.

But there was no Alex. He wasn’t on the couch. He wasn’t in the kitchen. He wasn’t on my bed and he wasn’t in the second bedroom. He wasn’t under the dining room table, he wasn’t in any of the closets and he wasn’t chilling out behind the couch.

I used to get a little freaked out when I couldn’t find him, thinking that somehow he’d escaped and would either be gone for good, mangled by some crazy accident, or God knows what. But I’ve mellowed over the years, knowing that he always turns up [i]someplace[/i].

Which he did. Alex was lying on the bath mat in the bathroom, just kinda lying flat. Weird for him? Sort of. But what weirded me most was that he just stayed there when I found him. I’d been calling him during my search, and he hadn’t come over, like he usually does.

So I let him be a minute, and after I changed clothes, found him not in the bathroom, but now on the hallway mat by the front door. Again, he didn’t respond to me. More curious. So I picked him up and gave him some attention, but he didn’t purr. Something was wrong. I let him down on the couch and got myself a drink, but when I saw him now by the bedroom, I got a fright.

A real fright.

He was walking … make that limping … and his left paw was drawn up near his chin. So of course my heart starts thumping away, thinking he somehow broke his leg. Cats get into all sorts of trouble, so who knows.

That’s why he wasn’t so happy when I came home. He was in pain. He was scared.

And when a cat breaks its leg, well, I don’t know if that’s something they can recover from, or if it’s like a horse, and they have to put it down. So in a nanosecond I’m thinking the worst.

So I picked him up to comfort him. And that’s when I saw it.

His paw was caught in his collar! That’s why his paw was like that, pulled up by his neck. Alex the cat found a little trouble.

Good gravy!

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Resolutions

After a week or so of sleeping long and sleeping late, I was back at it this morning, up at 5 am to get myself to the gym. It was a little rough, no joke, but I got myself going and was downstairs by about 5:50 am.

Even though I’m usually a little groggy first thing, I take comfort in that at least it’s alone time. Nobody’s down there at that hour but me.

But today.

Looks like the new years resolutions are at it already. When I hit the gym there were already two people down there-After a week or so of sleeping long and sleeping late, I was back at it this morning, up at 5 am to get myself to the gym. It was a little rough, no joke, but I got myself going and was downstairs by about 5:50 am.

Even though I’m usually a little groggy first thing, I take comfort in that at least it’s alone time. Nobody’s down there at that hour but me.

But today.

Looks like the new years resolutions are at it already. When I hit the gym there were already two people down there–with the TV on loud (I’m an iPod guy)–doing their thing. And I admit, it kinda bugged me. I mean, good for them for getting their exercises on, but I like having the gym to myself. I didn’t [i]want[/i] to hear the TV. I didn’t [i]want [/i]to share.

Selfish? Maybe. But I’ve gotten so used to having the gym to myself that I wasn’t ready for change. But it’s a new year with a new vibe. Will this last? Time will tell. I won’t be surprised if today is the last I see of them at that hour. It is the time for resolutions, after all, so maybe it’s just some early January gung ho that will burn itself out. Or maybe it’ll last.

Ah … new year, new resolutions.

It’s Jan. 2, 2007. What will the year bring?

Happy New Year!

Hi Gang,

Just wanted to take a few minutes and wish everybody a happy and healthy new year. For Liz and I, 2006 was a bizarre year indeed. Some of it was good, some of it was less fun, but it was a strange one for sure.

I’ve got good vibes flowing for 2007, so consider this my official sending of those good vibes to you …

While we’re talking about New Years, it’s really one of the toughest holidays to nail down. Tradition holds that you do something grand on New Year’s Eve–anHi Gang,

Just wanted to take a few minutes and wish everybody a happy and healthy new year. For Liz and I, 2006 was a bizarre year indeed. Some of it was good, some of it was less fun, but it was a strange one for sure.

I’ve got good vibes flowing for 2007, so consider this my official sending of those good vibes to you …

While we’re talking about New Years, it’s really one of the toughest holidays to nail down. Tradition holds that you do something grand on New Year’s Eve–and I have. Been to parties, thrown parties. Liz and I actually had plans to go to a murder mystery party somewhere outside of Philly, which I was really psyched for, but truth is … we’re wiped. So we decided to just stay in and take easy … and do some laundry!

No joke.

Is that lame? Ah, who knows. But we’ll be kicking back tonight, order in some take out and curl up on the couch to watch the ball drop. Sometimes that’s the best kind of New Years there is.

But no matter what you’re doing tonight, enjoy! One year ends, another begins.

Looking forward to 2007. It’s gonna be a great one!

Happy New Year’s everybody!

Russ

Agents Update

This has been a productive week search-wise. I sent out about a dozen query letters to agents, so we’ll see what happens. More interesting to me, however, has been the evolution of my own process.

Like a lot of writers who are looking for an agent, I got myself worked up into a frenzy … at the beginning. Trying to land an agent can be like dating or job hunting. Because you want something that someone else has to offer you, they’ve kinda got you by the short hairs.

I’ve been to writThis has been a productive week search-wise. I sent out about a dozen query letters to agents, so we’ll see what happens. More interesting to me, however, has been the evolution of my own process.

Like a lot of writers who are looking for an agent, I got myself worked up into a frenzy … at the beginning. Trying to land an agent can be like dating or job hunting. Because you want something that someone else has to offer you, they’ve kinda got you by the short hairs.

I’ve been to writers conferences and read books and articles about landing an agent, and they all tell you different things. Half the agents say to write a query letter that gets right to the point. Something like, I’ve recently completed a 100,000-word murder mystery about a 10-year-old boy accused of accidentally killing his sister while eating a fruit roll-up.

The other half say, don’t write a standard query letter. Wow me. Surprise me. Dazzle me. Be different.

So what’s the right way to go?

And then you hear and read over and over about your query letters needing to be "perfect." They normally mean, no spelling mistakes and such, but the word "perfect" gets thrown around an awful lot, like there’s such a thing as perfection.

Like I said, like many writers looking for an agent I got myself all worked up and stressed out, until I finally just said, you know what. I’m going to do my best, adjust my letters as much as I can to the style of each agent, and then not worry about it. One of these days I’ll land with the right person, and for anyone who’s isn’t interested in my work because they didn’t like a phrase in my cover letter, then I probably don’t want that person in my life anyhow.

One agent I met was actually very cool. I liked his attitude. He said, I’d rather have a great story that’s written only okay, then to have an only okay story that’s written really well. You’re writing doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has pull me in.

I’m not sure how many agents are like him. A lot? A few? Time will tell. Either way, I’m sure there are plenty of agents who will want to represent me once they see my work, and as long as I stick with it without driving myself crazy, I’ll be just fine.

A Writer’s Mojo

There’s so much to writing. There’s the idea behind whatever it is you’re trying to say. There’s technique, there’s passion. There’s structure, there’s style. And there’s rhythm. There’s a writer’s mojo.

Sometimes I’m going along and everything’s working. There are days when the words are flowing out of me so fast my fingers can’t clack the keys fast enough to keep up. I love those days.

And there are other days, when, for whatever reason, I can’t write anything. I try, but there’There’s so much to writing. There’s the idea behind whatever it is you’re trying to say. There’s technique, there’s passion. There’s structure, there’s style. And there’s rhythm. There’s a writer’s mojo.

Sometimes I’m going along and everything’s working. There are days when the words are flowing out of me so fast my fingers can’t clack the keys fast enough to keep up. I love those days.

And there are other days, when, for whatever reason, I can’t write anything. I try, but there’s nothing. Sometimes I’ll sit at the keyboard, I settle into my chair. I stare at the screen. I’ve got my fingertips on the keys … and I sit there.

Nothing.

I hate those days.

And there are days like I had today. Today wasn’t a writing day, per se, in that I wasn’t writing anything new, but I’m now in agent-seeking mode, so I’m spending a lot of my time doing agent searches online and through the Writer’s Market. And I’m typing up query letters and addressing envelopes.

I didn’t add them all up, but I must have made about 15 mistakes, just today. In like 2 or 3 hours. It was the damnedest thing.

On a normal day off (I took a few days off from work), I get up early (no later than 8 am), and on my gym day (like today) work out, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast and get to work.

But today, my mojo was a little wonky from the get-go. I got up at 8 am as planned, but I couldn’t get myself to the gym. Just didn’t have it in me. Something was off. And I didn’t shower right away either, figuring I’d get to the gym eventually, and then shower. So I wrapped up in my robe over my sweats (which I hardly ever do; I normally get into shorts and a t-shirt), read the paper, eat breakfast, and sat at my computer at about 8:30 am.

I wasn’t feeling quite right, but I felt I was making good progress on my query letters. Except that I wrote the wrong address on my first envelope, which I had already placed a stamp. So I peeled off the stamp, addressed a new envelope and replaced the stamp, only to realize that there was a misspelling on the query letter.

Taking it in stride, I corrected the letter and printed a new one, re-stuffed the envelope and sealed it, only to then realize I put the original wrong letter in the envelope, which I had to tear open–again–and start all over.

And this is how it when for another two hours. Wrong letters, misspellings, wrong envelopes. Which is when I finally decided enough was enough. I needed to break the mojo.

So I changed into my workout gear and did 30 minutes on the elliptical machine. I got a good sweat, my heart was pumping. A thumbs up work out. After a shower and change, I ate lunch and got back to my letters. My mojo was cleansed.

Only … not.

I made three more mistakes with the envelopes, threw up my hands and called it a day. Sometimes it just goes like that. Sometimes my writer’s mojo just ain’t flowing, and when that happens, I just have to walk away. There are some things you just can’t fight.

I’ll be back at it tomorrow for sure, and hope my mojo’ll be back in sync.

Either way, a writer’s mojo is a very real part of the process, and even though you can’t hold it in your hands, it has a life of its own. I’m jut along for the ride.

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Rocky Balboa – Thumbs Up!

Now that I’ve had a day to let the adrenaline wear off, I can say that Rocky Balboa gets my thumbs up. For the most part it’s a quiet and warm movie that explores what it’s like to still have fire in your belly even when everybody else tells you to take a seat in the bleachers.

Is it nostalgic and clich?d at times? Yup. And you know what? I don’t care.

If you grew up, like I did, watching Rocky movies, then Rocky is a part of you. He’s become embedded in our DNA. Rocky is a lovable, lNow that I’ve had a day to let the adrenaline wear off, I can say that Rocky Balboa gets my thumbs up. For the most part it’s a quiet and warm movie that explores what it’s like to still have fire in your belly even when everybody else tells you to take a seat in the bleachers.

Is it nostalgic and clich?d at times? Yup. And you know what? I don’t care.

If you grew up, like I did, watching Rocky movies, then Rocky is a part of you. He’s become embedded in our DNA. Rocky is a lovable, loyal lug with the heart of a lion. And he’s our lovable lug.

We [i]want[/i] Rocky to win. We [i]want [/i]Rocky back in the ring. We want Rocky to take a beating and stay on his feet, because with every punch he takes, it’s like we’re taking it too. And every punch he throws is like a punch we’re throwing at the forces that be that try to take us down.

And then there’s the moment we’ve been waiting 15 years to experience. [i]The. Moment. [/i] The movie’s going along, watching Rocky as he is now. He hems and haws, debating what to do, until he finally decides to go for it, to step in the ring one more time.

You wait. There’s a pause. And then you hear it. The music. The ROCKY THEME MUSIC. If you hear those first trumpet blasts and you [i]don’t[/i] get goose bumps up and down your spine and feel flush in the face, then you’re dead inside. It hits you where you live. It works.

I have no problem admitting that when Rocky’s in the big fight, my heart was pounding. I was on the edge of my seat. There I was with my hands up, bobbing and weaving, throwing jabs of mine own, in the ring with Rocky. I wasn’t thinking one little bit about whether I should be liking this movie. I was having too much fun [i]actually[/i] enjoying it. Loving it.

Rocky I, II and III range from good to great, depending on your point of view. Unfortunately, Rocky took a bad turn into cartoon with Rocky IV, although it was enjoyable at the time in its own ridiculous way. Rocky V sort of meant well, bringing Rocky back to reality, with mixed results. But with Rocky Balboa, the franchise–and the character–are redeemed.

Is Rocky Balboa the great movie ever? No. It’s not the best of the Rocky movies. But now that I’ve seen it I’m so totally going to see it again. And enjoy every moment, waiting for that music, waiting for Rocky to step in the ring one last time.

Rocky is back.

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Re:karl here

Hey Karl!

How’s going mate? Thanks for checking out the site. How you like it?

Talk soon.

RussHey Karl!

How’s going mate? Thanks for checking out the site. How you like it?

Talk soon.

Russ

The Big D

I just came back from spending a few days in Dallas, Texas, for a work trip, and although I didn’t get to see much of the city, I’m certainly glad I went.

Over the course of my professional career as a journalist and a consultant, and also for other personal trips and such, I’ve been fortunate to see a lot of America. Over the past decade I’ve been to the West Coast several times, including Seattle, L.A. (twice), San Diego (four times) and San Francisco (three times).

I’ve also been I just came back from spending a few days in Dallas, Texas, for a work trip, and although I didn’t get to see much of the city, I’m certainly glad I went.

Over the course of my professional career as a journalist and a consultant, and also for other personal trips and such, I’ve been fortunate to see a lot of America. Over the past decade I’ve been to the West Coast several times, including Seattle, L.A. (twice), San Diego (four times) and San Francisco (three times).

I’ve also been to Las Vegas a few times, Salt Lake City and Denver. I lived in Tempe, Arizona for about six months, so I’ve been to Phoenix many times, as well as taken multiple trips to Flagstaff, Sedona, Tucson and the Grand Canyon. I’ve been to Hawaii, and Chicago (twice), passed through Albuquerque a few times, as well as Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Tera Houte, Indiana. I’ve made stops in Toledo, Ohio, as well as Columbus, and then further south to Dallas and Houston.

Up and down the East Coast I’ve been to Vermont, Boston and Philly, and taken many, many trips to Washington, DC, and Baltimore. I’ve also been to Atlanta, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, and went to school in Buffalo, NY, so I passed a few times through Albany, Binghamton and Syracuse.

I’ve never been to Alaska, but I’d like to. Never made it to Cleveland, Cincinnati or Pittsburgh. I’ve also never spent time in St. Louis or San Antonio, Austin or Santa Fe, and not Portland, Oregon either, but I sure hope to get there. Never been to Louisville or Memphis, Charlotte or Mertyle Beach. Not Jacksonville or Orlando. Not Key West or Tampa. Missed New Orleans before it got wrecked, haven’t seen Mt. Rushmore or Montana, or been to Minneapolis or Indianapolis.

The reason I go through this list is that, the more places in America I visit, the more places I want to visit. And I find that it inspires me both as a writer and as a person. From a writer’s perspective, traveling not only gives me more experience to draw upon, but also reminds me of the connective tissue that links us all together, helping me to create characters that could exist anywhere, and bring them to life.

America is a great and vast place, and I hope I get to see as much of it as I can before I kick off this crazy planet.

Seeing more of America, touching the ground there, meeting the people … it helps make me feel more whole, because when I look at a map and point to the places I’ve been and all the places I’d like to go, it helps me feel like I’m a part of it. That my spirit, that my … energy, is soaked into the fabric of it all.

So now I’ve been to Dallas and maybe I’ll go back some day. But even if I don’t, there’s a part of me out there, and little part of it in me.

It isn’t always glamorous and it isn’t always easy or fun, but it sure makes an impression if you let it.

There’s a lot of good stuff out there. And I want to see it all.

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