clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ah, Summer

It is summer.Pastimes and lemonade.

Here's some of the best summer writing I've read. Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach are credited with the script. 
"Basically, there's three grabbers, three taggers, five twig runners, and a player at Whackbat. Center tagger lights a pine cone and chucks it over the basket and the whack-batter tries to hit the cedar stick off the cross rock. Then the twig runners dash back and forth until the pine cone burns out and the umpire calls hotbox. Finally, you count up however many score-downs it adds up to and divide that by nine."

Friday, June 19, 2015


I planned to go to Nashville this year for Killer Nashville.

I'm not going. I'm going to eat the registration and just go about my business.

 The solution is to solve problems instead of discussing problems.

Writing drives solutions.  Polished words for submission are the only yardstick of merit. The rest? Posturing.

Write, finish, submit.

Am I up at 4 AM to write? Well, how hard can I be trying? A conference doesn't change that lack of effort. Success comes possibly by the door of effort. Possibly.

 It doesn't come from any other door at all.

I've life experiences for for all the literature I can craft. Publishing - and I mean traditional publishing only - means crafting with sufficient style, poise, and evident skill so that someone else will trade dollars for words.

I've no words to trade.

First, write well. Second, write to finish.

The rest is immaterial before I have solid product.

My guiding logic - when it matters - is "victory or death."

To that end, I share my favorite word.


There is work to do and clearly I need to be doing it.

Stories do not write themselves.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Not the Best of Places

At left, the Copenhagen University library from Esther Westerveld as posted on wikicommons. Esther allows us its use for the attribution. Nice of her.

I wrote with a friend at the local library tonight. It's a kind of test.

You take an aspiring author, surround him by books of every subject imaginable, and tell him to sit and write the story he alone knows thus far.

I love writing in the library but the library is perhaps the most distracting possible environment to find myself.

Yes, I wrote. No, I'd rather wander the stacks.

So would you.

Back to it, penmonkey. That grind is how one becomes part of the library instead of merely a patron.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Paddy O' Wagon

At left, public domain image of a paddy wagon from Portland. Approx 1912. Image from wikicommons.

Wow. What a beast.

My coppers never have such lush rides. My current WIP puts the sheriff in a P.O.S. International Scout that hates to start, Why a Scout?

County Commissioner owns an International dealership.

My sheriff might not have the best of rides; but, he's not stupid.

Neither are the folks in Loren Estleman's Jitterbug which I've very much enjoyed. You might like it too.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Summer Camp

I'm away from the blog as I work tonight on items for summer camp. At left, from wikicommons the entrance to a camp in Maine. Copyright free image.

I'm making pennants for the cubs for the summer camp we host here on bear hill. We have the family up, camp in the meadow, and have fun. It's the first year for the meadow. Last year was the front yard and only one cub camped out.

I'll post pictures when I'm done. It'll look a little like Moonrise Kingdom here when I'm done. 

Also, I have a 30+ foot tall rustic flagpole to errect this week from which we'll fly the "Bear Camp" flag yet to be constructed.

Should be a blast.

I've a meadow. I'm going to use it.

I also have a pen. I should be using that but I'm doing crafts.

I know. I hate crafts, too.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Fresh Air

A left, Army Ambulance volunteers in training, 1918. Copyright expired. Image from wikicommons.

I like tents. I like camping. I like the out-of-doors.

I don't know if I'd write well while camping. Never tried. I've taken notebooks but when I stop moving, I sleep.

I might have to put of a tent in the north meadow this weekend and haul Lou the foxhound for protection against ... Well. Louis mostly protects against uneaten cookies.

I like the feeling of deep breaths while camping. The second or third day returns sleep I seldom have at any other time.

I cannot be alone in this fondness for bugs, dirty, rain (inevitably) and slightly over cooked food.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sneaky That Way

Tim Vickers allows the image at left to be used - copyright free from wikicommons. Nice job, I think. Eastern Diamondback.

I like characters whose twists sneak up on you.

I consider myself a friend of Joel Cairo and in that crowd a friend of the friends of Eddie Coyle.

Eddie had no friends when all the bills were paid. Neither did Mr. Cairo.

I like the twists and turns not so much in plot but in character. Took me a while to see that.

I'm trying a little of that business myself.

If you've ever seen a snake by surprise, you know what I mean. It looks like a stick or leaf litter or nothing at all, really.

Then, it is a snake.

Of course, the snake has all sorts of bad or evil connotations and in my characters, these are just sides of them we didn't expect. We're set-up all along walking down the path and bam, we're a little surprised at how competent or insightful or just plain tough they are in the end.

I've a heroine in the current WIP in that mold. The protagonist looks after her and regards her as a little sister but she's tougher than all the murderers in town put together.

There's a lot of murderers in town all of a sudden. All it takes is one and everybody wants to join the club.

I like the camouflaged character. I like it most when you think back and all the pieces fit together but not in the way you thought at the time.

Watch where you step.

Some of that twisting and turning might be something that bites in the end.

Ask Eddie.

[ Eddie Coyle appears without permission of Mr. George Higgins, author. The Friends of Eddie Coyle ].

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Take It With You

At left, Finnish children on parade. These are probably refugees of a sort from the war. The photo doesn't clarify beyond saying they are Finnish children.

Copyright free image from wikicommons due to age.

I like this photo for the suitcases.

I lived out of a suitcase like this when I was a little older. I had a "two suit-er" and almost everything I owned fit inside it. Almost.

If I knew I'd be dragging bags after me for the next forty years I might have blown my head off right then. As it is, I've got it pretty good - except that I'm still "Packy the mule" when traveling with Frau Bear. Comes with the role.

I take my fiction with me. A lifetime of being "somewhere else" has taught me how to shut out the outside world. I've talked to writers who need the solitude or the inspiration of the lonely beach or the cry of the loon. I've not however talked to many writers with a number of books in print with this disclosure, however.

I attended one of those high schools without walls. Yes, back in the 1970's there was a move to "break down the walls" and create an immersive flexible environment for learning. These are largely noisy unproductive structures - until you learned to deal with the distractions.

Who knew that I'd be so well prepared for cube farms that I'd find door-less offices and open bullpens comforting?

I think it is all bullshit, by the way. The first thing we give you once you make field-grade in the corporate ranks is a nice think oak door with which you can shut out the rest of the world and get down to that independent knowledge-work of which you do so much.

Yes, I see the satire dripping a bit, as well. I didn't shake my brush well enough on that line.

Anyway, I am one of those knowledge workers and I do shut an oak door and work independently. I also sit in a coffee shop and scratch away. Location means little to me. Focus means everything.

With that, I've had great success carrying a small pocket notebook devoted to the current WIP in my trouser pocket. Last year, I bought a little leather cover for these - typically - Moleskin notebooks. It really helps their endurance.

Anyway, I find carrying my fiction around in my head helps me focus on those things that are lost when I'm wallowing through prose. The chance to be a portable writer gives me the opportunity to have things strike me, record them, and move on where in prior years this inspiration and clarity would have been lost.

When you have a volume, a WIP, a short story, you do carry it around with you.

I'd suggest packing a little bag for it next time and carrying that in your pocket, too.

Your story is a refugee until you finish it and grant it an identity. Help its journey with a little luggage.

You might call it the baggage of your writing. Clever turn, that.

Not clever enough for the remark, though.

Back to it. Work to do.

I should write that down.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ink Stains

At left, a letterpress operation in Brisbane, 1921. Copyright-free image on wikicommons. Some of the aprons are ink stained.

I'm nostalgic for letterpress printing. It probably comes with the territory as I'm a longhand composer of prose.

There is something tactile about the act of pressing test.I feel that when i read the words, as well.

I know continuous print and computer typesetting reduces cost. I'd still like to have a book under my name with enough merit to have a few copied pressed.

Yea, I know. Write well and it can happen.

I'm writing well now. We'll see what the future brings.

Mind your fingers. You need them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

According to Plan

At left, the automobile transport Cougar Ace aground in July, 2006. The photo is by Steve Hillebrand of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a part of his professional duties. The image can be found on wikicommons.

You have to live with the characters you write. For novelists, that means living with them for quite a while. You have to love them despite the flaws you give them.

Sometimes, you'll add something flippant in the writing which seems inconsequential. Later, it seems monumental.

If your character snaps at a question, it matters. If he is sullen, it matters. If the character lies to the reader, it matters.

Whatever they do matters.

You have to decide if you can live with them or not.

It's taken a bit to get this group to where I can spend my evenings in their company.

I hope your little imaginary friends are behaving themselves, too. Don't worry, I won't tell anyone how much their fake little lives matter to you.

It can be our secret.

Ours, and the one million people who will by your book.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Not Dead Yet

I was just suffering from Spring.

Tombstone at left the result of my own photography.  No, not photoshopped.

I had a little writing set-back then decided the protagonist of my WIP was incorrectly voiced (fixing that). Also, the day job.

So, back from trout camp rejuvenated, ready, and writing.

I'm not dead. I was however a little less than alive as a suffering writer.

It's all grist. The wheels are turning.

More of what we feel into our protagonists, ladies and gentlemen. Emotional journey - remember? Emotional.

Readers must be made to feel. Thanks to Steve Almond for that. Never met him - but I've heard him say it.

I'm off. Writing to do.