- Bob Puglisi
Railway Ave Tenth Anniversary – April 2023
Updated: Apr 28
On June 5th, it will be the tenth anniversary of publishing my first novel Railway Avenue. It has been a successful and popular novel. Some readers feel it is my best work. To celebrate this achievement, you can get copies of the book in paperback and eBook at new low prices. Go to the following link:
Or via my website; just click on My Books above and scroll over to Railway Avenue
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Although, I didn’t start out writing a novel. It began as a writing assignment for my college English Composition Class. This was in the early 1970s while I attended New York University at night. The class was on Mondays. Each week we had to write a composition. I had written about my red ski cap and several other pieces related to my life back then.
The Friday before I started on that week’s assignment, I got a call from my mother with some shocking news. A childhood friend from my old neighborhood in Corona, New York, was murdered by her estranged husband. Until that day, murder had never touched my life. So, the news devastated me.
In my grief, I moped around most of the weekend. I hadn’t even thought about my assignment. I could only ponder my friend’s death. But as Sunday night rolled around, I knew I had to write something. What should I do? The only thing on my mind was the murder. Desperate, I decided to express my feelings about the incident.
It was an emotional, heartfelt experience that poured out of me, and at its completion, I was moved to tears. It was the first time I wrote something that came from my heart. My instructor must have felt my pain. He gave me a good grade and asked me to read it to the class. When I got to the part about the murder, it was difficult to continue reading. I hoped my instructor would come to my rescue. He never did. I persevered to the fatal end. I noticed how my classmates reacted when I gazed up from my paper. What I wrote touched them, too.
Shortly after that, I moved to California. I had put my friend’s murder out of my mind. By then, I knew I wanted to be a writer. A new friend I worked with at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank was writing a novel and encouraged me to start writing. I had a couple of stories I wanted to tell. I wanted to write about the neighborhood where I grew up in Corona. It reminded me of the composition I wrote in that English class back in New York. All my emotions about writing it returned, igniting my passion for putting it into a novel.
But I didn’t know how to write a novel. I loved reading and always thought I wanted to be a novelist. So, I glommed whatever knowledge I could from books I had read and ones I was reading. As I continued to write, I kept learning more and more. I would put the story aside for a while whenever I felt stuck. When I would return to it, it always resulted in rewrites. This went on for years.
Eventually, I moved to Hollywood, where the people I met were either writing screenplays, acting, or trying to produce film projects. I decided screenwriting was easier to do than novel writing. I put the book aside to write scripts. I went to seminars and started writing my first screenplay. Once again, I didn’t know what I was doing. I joined screenwriting guru Syd Field’s class and completed my first screenplay. I was content to have a completed screenplay. Several other scripts followed. I also started to write plays. In the back of my mind, there was always that unfinished novel. I would return to it over and over. I didn’t know where it was going or how it would end.
I was still writing plays and screenplays when I moved to Crested Butte, Colorado. It was such a receptive and supportive community. I joined a writers’ group at the Crested Butte Mountain Theatre. There I had the opportunity to share my work with fellow writers in the group, and some of my plays made it to the theatre’s stage.
The group members were talented writers, and I began to learn a lot. Most of them were writing novels or non-fiction. I took advantage of their expertise and feedback and started working on the book again.
I had some kind of epiphany. I reworked the story, making the main character a Vietnam veteran who falls in love at a young age with a girl modeled after my murdered friend. That gave me the focus and inspiration to complete the book. I did it; I had a finished project. I am indebted to my fellow writers for their encouragement and feedback.
Of course, I was anxious to share the novel with the rest of the world. Having lived in Hollywood for some twenty-five years, I was used to dealing with theatrical and literary agents, so I tried to get an agent for my book. That resulted in a few encouraging letters from some but many more rejections. I had the same results with my queries to publishers. I knew a writer of some stature who was taking advantage of the new world of self-publishing and eBooks. He would often ask me how things were going. He began to encourage me to self-publish Railway Avenue as a Kindle book.
In 2013, I took his advice, and the book came out on Amazon in the Kindle format. I started to do readings from the book. Sales were surprising to me. Six months later, I decided to publish a paperback version.
Since then, I have written and published three more novels and two memoirs. I am grateful for the help I received along the way and to everyone who bought and loved my books. You can read some of the wonderful reviews the novel received on Amazon. If you haven’t read the novel, get yourself a copy, and please recommend it to others. It won’t disappoint.
You might also like to check out some of my other books. You can find out more about them here on my website.