clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Call for the Crow

At left, a crow. I like the picture. Morguefile, of course.

I have a character who is a crow. He isn't a killer. He's a problem solver and sometimes those problems are bodies. Sometimes they're dead.

Anyway, he's an interesting sort of fellow. I always picture Max Von Sydow  in Three Days of the Condor though that character was too much the killer for my particular casting.

There are some characters that seem to stay with me. There's a driver from a story I wrote thirty years ago i remember clear as a bell today. He was just "a driver" in the story that the protagonist encounters at the counter of a truck stop. He's trying to pay but the waitress at the register can't read the other waitress' handwriting.

She won't listen to "the driver" about what he had. My protagonist just orders a coffee as a result.

I'm going to pull some old work out here this winter. I need to see what I saw back then.

Any advice on re-visiting old work?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Take a Nap

Writing like an exhausted seabird stuffed on fish?

Take a nap.

It helps. What you're writing now isn't good. Exhaustion isn't a force multiplier.

Get twenty minutes of shut-eye and come back and finish. Or, if it really stinks, do it over.

Mind the killer whales.

Monday, July 28, 2014


At left, a sweater.

It's cool here. Didn't crack 70 today. Almost August.

I put a lot of criminals in wool. I get blood on their clothing. I make them hide.

Shoes, the bottom trouser leg where it brushes the ground, their sleeve when they roll the victim over, their sweater when it sprays.

I'm not sure why I'm stuck on the physical transference of evidence. Perhaps it is because I abhor "clean" crime.

I'm the sort of fellow who is usually doing two things at one in my vocation. Thus, I have shirts in which I will not eat, drink coffee, or work tn the white board while wearing. I cannot be trusted to keep them pristine.

Crime is a messy business. Even in the best planned action, physical evidence remains. I don't mind having my criminals thwart the detection of their crimes. I cannot stand it when I read a story with a serious crime and the evidence evaporates.

I threw a book out once when the author had the tough guy shoot two people in an elevator with a .45. Repeatedly.  The killer got out and walked into the street as if nothing happened.

You put five bullets in a guy with a 1911 from under five yards, you're wearing some of him home.

I've found socks tonight. I'm going to have to find a sweater.

Dry cleaners should figure more in our works of mayhem. They're "criminal helper." If you've picked up you dry cleaning lately, you also know precisely which side of the crime equation you're on...

Stay clean.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

When Does the Scene Start

The title of this post says it all: when does the scene start?

The writer has to know everything. She knows eye color, favorite foods, gun calibre. She knows everything about the story.

For the reader, the writer decides when the tale begins and does so with every subsequent scene. We'll look at openings here.

Does it begin when the character wakes up and loiters over a coffee? Probably not. We write crime and there isn't much crime over coffee.

Now, the character wakes up, makes a coffee, sits down, and addresses the corpse on the floor in a familiar manner: might start a scene.

Character - skip the wake and make part - sits down with a cup of coffee and looks out the kitchen window to see SWAT guys closing in on the house next door. It's the rental property with which our character switched last digits of a house number.

We have a little more here - but is it the start? Doesn't seem like the start of the story, does it? Might be the start of the scene.

Shakespeare starts Hamlet with Bernie and Frank looking much like the fellow from a morgue file image above. The action has already begun when we meet the characters. Frank has startled Bernie and we begin with Bernie's response: Who's there?

So, what's the rule? The rule is we start a scene with enough information for the reader to orientate themselves to the action at hand even if the action chain already has been set in motion. 

If the first thing that happens is that a bullet hits a fellow waiting for a bus: that's the story opening.

The scene might not start until the detective already out of his car complains to the waiting uniform that the M.E. folks are useless bastards who should already be here. He goes on to say that they haven't responded within two hours of a call in the last three cases he worked.

The Uniform answers that the M.E. on duty - Williams - is a drunk since his wife passed.

We could begin our story about an anti-hero who stumbles onto a problem he alone must solve by introducing him by reputation. The story could be about Williams and when Williams shows up trying to make due despite a massive hangover (pukes when he gets out of the car) we already know why the M.E. is a Nick Cage character style of sleezeball.

Did we open with the M.E. opening the car door and puking ? Could have. Could have back filled the details in conversation "about" the M.E. in his presence in a sort of social slight. That might paint a different picture : so far gone the cops don't mind badmouthing him within his hearing.

If we start with two cops having a bitch session over a dead body that tells the reader something. If we start with cops on scene and an M.E. puking, walking over and having the cops bitch about his professionalism within his hearing, that's something else.

It isn't that one inherently works better. It's that one is the direction we chose to begin the scene and the other is follow-on action that we show but not as the opening. One, to me, proceeds linearly as the reader tries to answer WTF in the first paragraphs. In follows the in media res maxim but requires a "information after we've met you" style.

If the information about a character influences or perspective of his actions, it is nice to have that context before he acts. It isn't essential.

What matters is that the manner in which we cast our scene is in harmony with the pace, manner, and perspective we're trying to convey to the reader.

Starting the scene with a cup of coffee at Starbucks that isn't going to stay down once Williams reaches the scene: probably not sufficiently immersive for orientation. We drop that part. We move on.

I need to write some scenes. So do you. Where we start the scene? As long as it works, it works.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Elusive Target

Getting better as a writer is a destination exercise. It isn't a target.

Now, when you're mucking about in the dung heap of your drafts, it is pretty easy to see this truism.

What hurts is when you have a little success or praise. There's a thought for a minute that "it is good enough."

You wake up the next day and see you still suck as a writer. There is a mechanic of regeneration which you can apply but then, that wasn't the end for this writing business, anyway.

You didn't get in it to see you novel at WalMart.

You got in it and slaved away because you had something to say and it wouldn't stay inside. Avocations like learning the drums or needlepoint or oil painting didn't do the trick. You had to pick writing.

You poor sot.

You take aim with every piece. You write, you revise, you change what it was you were trying to say in the piece because - after all - you didn't really know when you started out.

It isn't an easy thing. If it is, you aren't applying yourself. This is a craft but it isn't something you do and sell on Etsy. You're writing because you have stories that won't stay inside.

Put another coin in the slot, get your skeeballs, and try again. We'll all still be in the arcade, too.

The goal isn't to win the stuffed panda. The goal is to feel good about the effort. As you get better, that feeling remains elusive.

We muddle on having fun in the game.

We have an odd sense of fun, don't we? Sick bastards all.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

First on the Scene

Sirens aplenty tonight around here. Big night though I haven't a clue exactly what is going on (probably aliens again).

I couldn't help but think of that entry scene ... the first of the folks on the scene. Now, I usually have civilians discover the crime. At some point, the real cops come.

What is that scene like?

In my rural noir stories, it is resignation. The cop knows what he'll find because he knows the folks who are present.

I think I should change that. Jaded isn't attractive anymore.

I hope you aren't jaded, either.

It's crime writing. It's fun.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ugly Buggar

Proto-type of Kermit, before multiple re-writes.

There's a lot to do in re-writes. There are a lot of ugly things to write out of the story.

Sometimes you need a few for contrast, though. That's especially true in the crime and mystery genre.

I normally gloss over the ugly bits of a crime. I show reaction more than the "murder porn" which has a sizable following of its own.

I'm struggling a little with the tone of my current work. I've got a bad man character and I need to show him doing bad things. I can show the other characters being afraid - but I need the reader to be a little afraid as well.

The best killer I've seen looked like a general practitioner. He wore a tie, smiled just a little, was polite and  courteous to his victims. He could have been a United States Senator, for that matter.

Those are some scary people, too.

I'll have to think about this. I might leave a couple warts on this toad.

How about you? How do you handle the ugly character?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Went to see Close Encounters of the Third Kind on the big screen at our local art house theater tonight.

Wonderful show. Sure, sappy storytelling.

Storytelling, though. Still accomplished the mission of controlling the audience's emotions.

I like the scene where "the big one" flies over.

A left, a little one from the morgue file. I like it too!

Monday, July 21, 2014


I've been caught up in the pressure of the vocation. The avocation has suffered the last couple of days.

Back on the ink trail in the morning.

Consolation prize: a writer's tool for those of you toiling away in the laundry room. I've been there.

toggl - a time tracking tool that is free, works everywhere, and provides reports that actually help you understand "where'd those hours go."  Now, it isn't magic. It won't do any writing for you.

It will however let you see a time-and-effort perspective of your next big work. It also helps see that "seventeen hours" last week were really "three hours" in composition mode.

So, my tip to you.

I like the tool. It works.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Carnival of Crime

I always thought a carnival was the perfect place for crime. A body in the tilt-a-whirl left to run all night.

Wouldn't someone know? Not if the carny running the game sometime started it and ran it in the middle of the night. He';s a carny, after all. He's not locking the library early. He's on the road for adventure. (I know of a couple - saved a ton then went to school).

Then, get the carny juiced or off with a local girl or gone two towns over to catch a band and ...

Small town. Backwater. Dead guy.

Someone had to move fast. Why put them in the ride instead of in the woods? What is the connection - is there one?

It's a topic for noir of the backwoods.

I might have to write that story this winter.

Friday, July 18, 2014

E-Ticket Ride

That's right. My writing is an e-ticket ride!

At left, the ride. Sigh.

I write something that seems huge. It has twists and turns and words and music. It is wonderful.

I come back six months later and it resembles a deflated pool toy blown under the boardwalk at season's end.

That's good. It means I'm getting better. It means that I am learning to read like a writer. It means I'm tuning my bullshit detector. [ Hemingway term].

I belong to a critique group that sees some pretty raw stuff (online). I've had to step back several times. When someone passes on your work - means the same thing. They can't figure out where to start.

If something I write seems cleaver or witty or a simply stunningly beautiful aside - I leave it out. If it has a chain of modifiers attached (see previous sentence), I leave it out.

When I re-write, I leave a lot on the floor. Sure, I shoot a lot of film. Not a lot makes it past the assembly stage.

So, I think as I crawl into bed that I've done something cool and clever tonight. That's why we put things in the can to age.

In six months, I'll cut out the contrived parts, tighten the dialogue, ax the description, excise an entire scene with a two-sentence narrative summary, and put it back to cool for the next draft.

Painful? You bet.

Last week I talked to a writer friend and he asked if I thought I could proceed without the outline and heavy revision? Sure, in book eleven.

I've bought garbage - some from people I consider friends - that needed two more full passes. Book six for them doesn't look like book one at all.

Of course, they're much better with that bitch Luck than I am. They muddled through to six while I went and made a different career and now ... catch-up for my skills.

I won't get six books to make it work today. I'll get one. Doesn't sell? No book two. Better a different book one from someone else.

I like that. I like baseball.

The .178 hitter at the plate knows everyone in the stands knows he's a .178 hitter. Rookie doesn't see .240 - well. Get a new rookie.

Baseball expansion has given a shot to a lot of players that ought to have ended their days dreaming of AAA ball. Publishing has done the same.

If you print thirty good books, why are you interested in sixty that stink?  That's where it is going.

No one make the business shoving garbage into the market for long - well, it took a long time for it to catch-up to GM, I'll give you that.

E-ticket ride is what we want on the cover of our work. There's work to do, pony riders. Craft work.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Writers and Drink

I'm out with members of the oldest and most esteemed angling club ... which would have me for a member. I'm rather like Groucho in my selection of organizations which I'll join.

I am an MWA member - associate member - and I endorse any organization that allows murders, liars, and those who lie about murders to join.

I don't know what to think about drink.

I have drunks in my family. I say that in the best Irish-American tradition. Ruined marriages. Some that should have been ruined and were not. I've lived with drunks. I've impersonated one.

A great many writer's I've admired had problems with drink.

I've never found alcohol to be helpful in my composition efforts. I've never made notes while drinking which I found later and thought "brilliant!"  I seldom had new or wild ideas.

Now, I have sat in bars with a beer waiting on something - friend, lunch - and wrote something wonderful or new in a notebook. I've done that at 2 AM in a Canadian fishing cabin. I've done it on a Saturday morning on my deck. The drink didn't do much for it in my estimation.

I can't write from inside a bottle. For now, that's a good enough reason to lay off it. I can't contribute to the legend of scotch soaked writers.

Your take on ink and alcohol?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Noting quite like an opening.

I worked in the library tonight where I usually work on Wednesday evening with a friend. I started mucking about with my imperfect opening of this second full prose draft.

I know the rule is write and move on. This is a revision and I'm re-writing. In a first draft, I'd never muck about fiddling with bits. Tell the story and move.

In the second full prose, I've tuned the outline, fixed logical gaps, removed dead end scenes, compressed scenes, enhanced secondary characters. I try to write a second without adding affected speech or tone. I'm pretty good a resisting the urge to sound like someone else. I'd like to be better at sounding a little less like me.

Anyway, I wasn't happy with the opening re-write and so I fell to picking at it. Now's the time, really. It is a confidence defeating activity and you don't want that in the final big revision/re-write.

I'm better. It is a bit like me telling a story and less like any of the authors I surveyed in an hour tonight. I'll write about their openings this weekend when I'm a little more relaxed.

My opening is a still a little too much me but it works for now. [ I'd post the opening but the "not appearing" clause for previously published works in any form might be a problem. Best to let it go. ]

Now, the grammar bit. Helpful here in my opening structures.

You know lay is put or place, present tense.

You know lie is to recline, present tense.

In the past: lay becomes laid. The past participle becomes laid also. So, lay, laid, had laid describing put or place.

In the past, lie is lay. The past participle of lie is lain. So, lie, lay, had lain.

You want to sweat, just think of an interview for a graduate level writing class (when you are in the Engineering school) when Professor Pompous suggests that admission is dependent upon using the present, past, and past participle of lie and lay in sentences correctly. Now let's see if you're material for our class!

I want to say: thank you Magistra Flatery. I owe you for that one. A chance to take Space Plasma Physics at the same time ended up trumping Professor Pompous. I took a undergraduate poetry class that met on Tuesday and Thursday evenings instead. I didn't get anything out of the class. Pity.

I should have stuck with Pompous. He was a bastard; but, he taught writing.

What that had to do with grammar is anyone's guess.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Left the Station

At left from the MorgueFile, a sign from Union Terminal in Cincinnati.

The train of a sub-plot in my WIP has left the station hurtling down the tracks. Time to remove a bridge.

Everyone loves a train wreck. Well, no one admits it but they all come out to gawk.

I've been catching up on some reading lately: The Friends of Eddie Coyle from George Higgins and A Drink Before the War from Denis Lehane.

I'd add more but there is a foxhound in the library insisting I play with him before sitting down to execute the particulars of the aforementioned train wreck.

Never ignore a foxhound. It isn't pretty. That silence you hear may be your couch cushions.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Interesting Times

At left, my own fruit photography. I went a little bananas today.

First, I offered advice I had no business saying one damn thing about. The Tiger trainer doesn't want to hear from the clown how to manage his charges. In fact, having clowns around tigers is precisely how people get eaten alive.

So, I metaphorically offered advice to a tiger trainer without any professional grounding to know what the hell I'm talking about. Unlike me.

Second, I thought a bit this afternoon about Douglas Adams right out of the blue.

Now, I'm a fan. Mr. Adams is not one of my writing idols but I still love his work and am disappointed he's gone.

My writing heroes are Art Buchwald, Mike Royko, Erma Bombeck, and Ed Zern,  I love Hemingway and Dostoevsky with all my heart; but, my own take runs closer to these heroes because they alone proved to me that anybody with a wry grasp on reality can write for a living.

I also love Douglas Adams.

I'm older now than Douglas ever was (barely).

I call him Douglas not because I've been closer to him in association than any other  person inhabiting the same continent but because his works are so familiar to me.

He left a wife and daughter.

He'd gone to the doctor and complained of numbness in his left arm. He was in Hollywood at the time and while I have no facts to back it up, I can see a doctor checking him out and saying to a man of 49: " It's a lot of stress dealing with these Hollywood types for any mere mortal. Try getting more exercise to reduce your own stress levels."

He died a week later after a heart attack at the gym.

I thought today "What if Douglas didn't die?"

I mean, what if Douglas was offered some extraordinary opportunity that he couldn't take if he tried to get his wife and daughter out too. What could that be? What could be so extraordinary that he'd say "OK. Leave the clone me behind with the bad ticker. I'm your man."

It's a horrible story. Even Douglas Adams Saves the Milky Way isn't good enough given the sort of gentle soul Adams was. (He wore a rhino suit on a walk up Kilimanjaro for charity. )

It's a thought though. What would that opportunity be like?

It came to me that perhaps (I'm going to hell anyway so I'll go ahead and write this here ...) there could be a grand deity and he might have made the offer.

"Look , you're going to have to trust me on this one but you're needed off in the ether because //insert really good reason here//."

First, there's the whole nearly omni-powerful deity bit. Then there's the "I need help bit." After all, if God needs help then ..well. You figured that part out already, haven't you? Maybe that word "God" doesn't mean quite what we all thought it meant. Hard to turn that offer down.

Everybody has bad ideas from time to time. I missed Douglas Adams' "new material" and so I thought of something absurd.

What are you going to do about it? Read me Vogon poetry?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Full Sun

Some things do best in full sun like these daisies from my meadow. I took the picture this morning with Louis in the tall grass.

I've finally read the Scrivener manual. Look. The program was made with the intention of being useful to anyone who has used any number of less useful tools.

My first full play was typed on a borrowed Remington. The next two plays and a handful of short stories I typed on an ancient electric Royal that weighed just under 40 pounds.

My first full novel I pounded out on WordStar running on a KayPro using CP/M. I almost did a little dance when I used my first "real" purpose built PC - an IBM x386 using Windows 2.0. WOW.

SO, cut me a little slack for using the basics of Scrivener after glancing through the documentation.

Now....tadum: The crow fork.

Bloody thing is even more marvelous AFTER you read the manual. I should have done so three years ago.

The draft I am working on now will benefit from the ease of electronic integration with MY methods and processes. Tonight, I'll construct a whole subplot arc in a separate section of the manuscript then integrate scene by scene at a future date. Wow. I obviously hadn't mastered that little feat before.

So, while I and Nabokov love index cards (he wrote entire novels on them paragraph by paragraph), I'll move to use my electronic note machine in much the same manner.

I am rather anal about multiple concurrent backups. You lose one WIP at any stage of your career, you get that way quickly. I keep four active immediate backups. I store two off-site (in case of fire) via Amazon and Google docs.

Paranoid he is. You earn it, folks. You earn it.

I hope daisies are blooming in your writing. Noir guys: I hope they're blooming on graves.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

From Whence I Sit

A little of the archaic here in the title. At left, my current mode of work as evidenced by the photo of my desk.

I've written elsewhere that I use a teak table as a desk. I have several teak tables now. I seem to be accumulating them. My office desk is my first which was claimed from a Danish furniture store at deep discount (List $2K back in '2001) after an associate was over-eager with a box cutter. The cut is on a leaf, along the narrow edge of that leaf, and completely invisible when the leaf is concealed - invisible to anyone who isn't feeling with their paws.

It is a great flexible platform and I recommend table and credenza to anyone contemplating desk. You keep too much stuff anyway.

The O.E.D. is a constant companion because I love the thing more than need it. I wanted the compact edition all my undergraduate years and so now I have one. No more Webster's seventh for me. ( my dictionary was 60 years old until the binding gave out and now I make do without - or the internet - or spellcheck. I do occasionally need the definition, though. My vocabulary isn't perfect and neither is anyone else's. I am asking for a new collegiate dictionary for Christmas).

There are a couple of pipes (infrequently smoked and never smoked in the house - moral support devices when I need a boost to the "writer-ly" feeling). A tea cup from last year's outing in Vancouver. A tiki mug full of pens which are extremely important to me. A bottle of Sailor Jentle ink in black. Two pairs of binoculars, a camera, some dice from Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas from an especially good night some many years ago.

There's a radio - gasp - a world band shortwave from the pinnacle of electronic design in that field which I mostly use to listen to the Detroit Tiger's baseball game on FM. There's a stack of pipe tobacco that isn't even my favorite pipe tobacco's just a stack that I got out years ago and have kept on the desk as "blending" tobacco when I'm trying something new.

There are half a dozen notebooks of different forms.

I use a "book holder" to prop up my "working copy" 1" 3-ring binder for transcription of parts of this second full prose draft into the laptop running Scrivener.

There's also a box of flies (my day-box of go-to trout flies), a fly threader a close friend gave me this spring, a couple knives of various designs, and a lacquer box a Korean friend gave me upon departure. I hope he is doing grand!

So there it is. The latest Crimespree has Robert Crais describing the photographs of his working office. I'm following him for the inspiration effect.

I'd love to see you workspace. Where do you folks write?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Another Brick

in the wall. - Pink Floyd

At left, a generous un-copyrighted photo from wikicommons.

So many courses.

The mason is my hero building the wall brick by brick. I'm grinding scene by scene just like everybody else.

I had a discussion today with a writing friend about one of his relatives - also a writer - who minded a number of familial relationships for a book. Some of the relatives are none too pleased.

I'm of the Saul Bellow camp. I betray every personal relationship for fiction. I have more friends between the covers of books that I will ever have in person. Is it fair of me to mine personal - even intimate - experiences for details which find themselves into my stories? Probably not. Do I care? Short of libeling anyone with falsehoods, no.

You rope an English Sheepdog as an amusing feat of cowboy legerdemain, it's going in my story.

I feel more sorrow for those folks I have known who did nothing of note to incite me to remember them in prose.

I'm reminded of the line from a T. Bone Burnett song:

someone stole my identity and I feel sorry for them.

Great line. My best lines of the week?

Needs revising. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The First Lines

Is there anything like the nibbling effort one goes through on the first line?

I'd have the usual diatribe here but Mr. William Deitrich has a much better approach on his blog here. He's won a pulitizer so that ought to tell you something right there.

Here's a start I like (now I just need the story):

Crazy Max Maupin sneezed again as the last of twilight drifted past his living room window. The dog at his feet didn't move. He did run to the corner and piss the rug after the gunshots, though. Never again was he worth a damn pheasant hunting not that Max ever walked another field.

I call this the smart-ass opening. The narrator isn't telling you enough. You read though. You read.

What happened? Did they fry Max's brother for some long-wronged love? Was it inheritance? Was it the Clutter case again? Maybe Max was a bagman who skimmed? Maybe Max was just the Western Kansas pain-in-the-ass of whom someone finally had a belly-full.

Anyway, we know Max is dead and that it wasn't of natural causes.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Honey In My Tea

I love this picture at left.

These are bees at work in Finland (I love Helsinki!)  as photographed by Estormiz and allowed for use here from the wikicommons repository.

Lovely bees.

I like honey in my tea. I shouldn't have it but I love it. I have some especially fine fragrant local honey this year which may be the best I've ever had.

In tonight writing's session, I wrote a scene that also is like honey. There are those scenes we need and then there are those scenes we love. I'm a "payoff" type of fellow and I live for the big payoff scenes.

There is something about holding one of our books' crescendo points in our hand and writing to make it work. I find it so very satisfying. Sure, the big payoff scenes are easy. We're so driven by a desire for the culmination of the action as readers that any number of approaches might work.

Remember Ice Station Zebra when the torpedo tube is open to the sea and the sub is going down? We know what is at risk. We know the characters. There are a hundred ways to write a way out of the scene and we the readers are praying for just one. Any one will do. Just give us one.

Sure, there is artistry in crafting an elegant and germane payoff. My point is that here are many good approaches to the big scene and so, we have liberty and that to the writer is freeing. I get to cast aside the strictures of the intertwined plots in the outline and resolve something - maybe by introducing more trouble I didn't know the characters had.

The big scene is great: the first kiss. the drawing room revelation of the murderer. the evil mad scientist's lair collapsing (aka the James Bond ending). I love 'em all.

I hope you are loving what you're writing.

I'm not naive enough to say I love writing every scene and I know you don't either. The payoff does make some of the slog worth it, though.

I hope your evil invading space aliens get space ebola and die in glorious doom gasping and fall one tentacle short of activating the Harrowgate device.  Bwaaaaaahahahah.

Have some tea. Honey - I'm sure. Milk?


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

In the rain

Above, a Lamy studio fountain pen as photographed by Gamalkik in the wikicommons.

I'm using one of these and find it just fine for creating those longhand chapters that see their first revision upon typing them into Scrivener.

I enjoy the tactile effect of the nib on page and the deposition of the ink frees me to think more of the characters and story than the mechanics of the typing.

I am not a touch typist.

So, more rain today in what has to be the wettest thirty days of summer in these part. It has made the woods especially lush.

I'm fortunate to live where we rarely close the house for air conditioning. Summers are lovely here. The rain, the wind, their sounds in the leaves, make the summer seem more full. It is a soundtrack that I like best when writing a draft.

See if you can't work a little tonight where you hear the wind. I'll understand in the case what you hear outside in the evening is the drone of mosquitoes. They're especially bad here this year too.

Ink to page, ink to page.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Plunge

When the project is important, that first step can seem a bit maddening. (picture at left, Cleveland Dam from wikicommons).

We fear. We know our effort will muddle the fever dream of beauty we've conceived.

Go ahead. Take the leap.

We love for faults more than perfection. Adoration - perfection, sure. Love: from faults.

Make a mess. Clean it up.

Put the prose on the paper.

Right. That's the pep talk for myself here as I start another project.

Hold on Social Services. -Jed (Moonrise Kingdom).

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Tannhäuser Gate

At left, an image of the sodium laser in use for optical correction at the VLT at Paranal. Photo by: ESO/Y. Beletsky from wikicommons. 

Our thanks for the fair use.

The VLT is at the European Southern Observatory in Chile.

The title of this entry comes from the famous death soliloquy of the character Roy Batty in Blade Runner. "I've seen c-beans glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate".

This picture seemed to do the speech justice.

I've been away and I've seen things. I've been watching for them and I've been rewarded.

I've seen a chuck wagon bar-b-que wrangler cross the road from his stand to the Dairy Queen with half-a-dozen cobblers on a tray to get fresh ice cream on the dessert for customers.

I've seen a fawn get up out of tall grass, stretch, and clear a four rail fence in the space of one breath.

I've seen fireflies so thick above the meadow bowl you'd swear it was a film of some night concert with a million people in attendance taking snapshots.

I've seen cloud-to-cloud lightening so fierce and continuous that you could read by the light coming in the window at three in the morning.

I've seen downpours of such intensity they scrub the world clean.

I've been away but I've been watching.

Now, for more regular posts now that the whirlwind of interruption has passed.

I hope your days see a return to the even keel smooth sailing that contributes to progress on the page.

Write something tonight. Even a few words. Write them.

Please don't keep them keep them inside the pen, captive, unread.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

According to Plan

At left, the spacecraft Genesis which was supposed to float back to earth with samples of solar wind particles. Not everything goes according to plan. "Soft landing."

What has been the story lately? Few posts. Cryptic "having a fun summer" comments. What gives?

The best I can say is that the best laid plans Of Mice and Men ...

I had a very productive session last Saturday when a friend offered to help with the first third of my novel as a critique. That firm offer has spurred more work and indeed things are moving along.

Additionally, revision notes for last year's opus and notes for an upcoming work have spewed forth.

You know the moments that happen when you are sitting in a movie or reading someone else's book and think: I'm going to handle that differently?

Those thoughts jell over time. Doing it your way does emerge and you think it is a better way.

Do yourself a favor and have someone do a sanity check on your progress. It helps.

I'm tired. I'm going to be. You however should be writing.