clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Flat Out

Photo from Famartin on Wikicommons. Free use for the attribution which is a bargain in itself. Lovely focus here. Nice job! Route 93, Elko County, Nevada.

Makes me homesick - except for those mountains. I had this scene without the mountains.

I made great progress in the past 48 hours. I'm telling myself the story in all those sloppy ways it takes. I have scenes and lots of side notes about what I think is going on in each.

First, survive the road trip that is the rough draft. Survive.

Take water along in the car. If it breaks down, you might not be near anything you want to drink.

Trust me.

Plastic milk jugs say lives. You'll drink hot water when you're thirsty enough. No harm done.

Now, back on the road.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Early in the Morning

At left, a rooster from wikicommons as photographed by Gary Crossey. Nice bird. Looks loud.

Allergy season is open. The sagging will and general lethargy hits until about 11:30 PM where a good two hours is spent being uncomfortable until passing out.

Nevertheless, it renders my preferred time to write useless. I'm an evening scribe.

I discovered last year that I am much more productive in the mornings during this time of year.

So, cock-a-doodle-do.

I am not wild about rousing, but I am wild about getting on with this project. If that means getting out of bed then I'm up and around.

Coffee please. Additional coffee.

Might help my more sprite-ly characters this time around, though. Lively as in imbued with life.

I've had enough brooding introspective killers. I want murderers with smiles on their faces and songs in their hearts.

I'm going to put a badge on a couple of them.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Time, Time, Time

At left, copyright free image of HMS Ajax commissioned in 1913. She was broken up in 1926.

I am caught occasionally in the effects of the passage of time. I think it moves so quickly.

Then, perspective.

When I think from 2000 until today 2015, The change is somehow less than I would have expected.

Where are cars of tomorrow we were promise when I was a child? Infiniti used this theme as the basis of an advertising program not long after 2000, also.

My phone can do more today than in 2000 though I personally don't use it for that purpose. (Bit of a telephone Luddite. Fully function top-end smartphone which, because of my work, frequently is not on my person and when it is does not have enabled data, wifi, Bluetooth or GPS.) It is a phone in my hands.

I do not consume video over the net. I don't consume video. I'm not on facebook and the twitter account is useless.


Though I think to the time of the setting for my current WIP - the late 1970s - and how quickly things changed. !977 to 1992 - and equivalent period from 2000 to 2015.  For a consumer, the big change was the advent of CD's. Now from 2000 to 2015 ... mp3's ?

I'm trying to catch the flavor of a quirky set of characters. I'm trying to decide how much they hang onto the past. I'm trying to decide how much their immediate world changes them.

I think my answer is that my characters stay much the same but the implements of their lives change.

My family - I lived with an Aunt and Uncle - were on a party line in the late 1970s. I have to decide how to handle this sort of fact. "Private lines" (we had those, too ) were luxuries which involved dedicated twisted pair all the way to your door. You paid Ma Bell a lot of money for that service in my world.

I've some temporal evaluations to do - but maybe for the next draft. I've got the core story to cover this draft.

I'm thinking, though.

So are you.

Don't let me catch you listening to the receiver on the party line when it isn't your ring.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Trout Opener

Photo at left provided copyright free from the US Fish and Wildlife Service on wikicommons. Thanks.

Trout opener today.

I decided to choke a victim rather than have her killed with a hammer.


It takes place off-page and yes, my protagonist in this story does indeed dispatch the killer. At least, he dispatches one of them.

Ah, more than one thing to manage at a time! Never a dull moment.

Hope your fish are big.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Little Chocolate Donuts

At left, a wonderful picture by Evan-Amos posted on wikicommons and provided for our use for just the price of attribution. Awfully nice and what a wonderful picture.

The donut is from Dunkin' Donuts purchased somewhere in America.

My wife is all a-titter over Bruce Jenner.

I should say that we fired out TV years ago now and are usually unmoved by popular culture - outside of murder and corruption.

For example: I was delighted at the sentencing of  former Egyptian president Mr. Morsi. I'll be surprised if he survives the sentence.

I'm not opposed to revolutionaries who overthrow strongmen. I'm against stupid revolutionaries who don't respect what they've done.

Pick up a snake and we all say "wow - impressive." When it bites you and you die, we all say say "moron." 

If you assume power after the removal of a renown strongman, kill him and co-opt his thugs into working for you. Don't be stupid and think we can all live together under the same roof afterwards as if nothing happened.

Anyway, frau bear is all as titer over Bruce's interview tonight (I'll probably be trying flies in my library).

My only position on Bruce Jenner is that he made possible Belushi's famous SNL television commercial for "little chocolate donuts" which pretty much the highlight of my expectations for athletes.

I keep waiting for Lance Armstrong to become the spokesman for a strength-training dietary supplement. "Go with your strengths."

We've all been to high school. Running fast is hardly a qualifier for "having anything of value to say."

Thanks, Bruce.

[ You should search for "little chocolate donuts." I found it on You Tube but I cannot discern if NBC is allowing it in the public domain. Seems odd for them to allow content to be posted for free. Thus, I'll neither embed nor provide the link but you - internet consumer - can certainly go and watch the video. Wonderful stuff.]

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Fighting Daemons

AT left, Baal, chief god of Carthage in a copyright fee image from wikicommons.

You don't run into a lot of Carthaginians these days.

Baal became incarnate as a type of malevolent spirit and as a God of the Carthaginians, certainly this was true.

I'm fighting various deamons only some of which are literary.

Nevertheless, I have a path to a draft of a novel and am working towards it.

I'm telling myself the story in scenes and after the twisted inter-twined plots I have, I need to really make some stunning characters to pull this off.

Off to the ink mines.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Unseemly Demise

At left, a coffin-rest as photographed by Stephen Horncastle as part of the Geograph Uk project.

This particular place was used to store the parish coffin. When one died, the coffin was used to carry the body to the grave and the simply shrouded remains then placed into the Earth. The coffin rested in this facility after burial until the next mortal needed the transport service.

In small villages, you didn't even rate your own pine box in the 18th century.

I like this photograph because it illustrates the sense of community and community embrace that persisted in death.

I'm trying to illustrate the same community thread in my work. I'm writing a short right now that has to be purged before I can work on the next novel. I've had a hard time with it - but haven't we all?

I couldn't find the proper mirror for the reflection of the person my killer has become. I couldn't find a way to highlight the trans-formative power of education at the hand of a small town. Of course, the reflection I seek is in the town itself.

I sat in a cafe a year ago and watched a mother teach her child to lie.

The mother, in the presence of her own mother, ask the child who was probably in primary school which grandmother was his favorite.

The child answered innocently that he preferred Grandma Helen. The matriarch present was not Helen.

The mother couched the child to try again and told him the he was in error. That Grandma Zoe was his favorite and that it wasn't nice to say otherwise. The instruction was more elaborate with additional esteem-defeating measures thrown in for good cause.

Now, in telling the story, I could focus this slight tale on the boy through a first-person point of view. I think I can do better as a close third as it allows the image of the mother to be cast in broader terms than I might be able to do from the perspective of the child in the first alone.

I'm trying the same with my small town murder tale.

It's hardly a mystery who has died or who has performed the murder.

It is a mystery how the protagonist learned to kill. That's the story we want to tell. It doesn't "just happen."

Killers are made.

I want to show that evolution in succinct turns of the short-story's compressed timescale.

Wish me luck.

I hate murders without reason. I'm trying to give this one purpose, if not reason.

If you're in a small town, lock the doors.

I've ink and I'm willing to use it.

You should spill a little, too.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ink on Page

A generous copyright-free image of the painting The Manuscript Book by John White Alexander.

It is spring and a time of the thousand distractions. It is also time for me to integrate two plots of the WIP and write the comprehensive draft.

Luckily, I like this part.

So, this week has been consumed with all manner of plausible distractions. They're all plausible.

The trick is keeping them at bay,

Nose, meet grindstone.

You'll understand if tonight's post is short. I've work to do.

So do you. I hope it is going well.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


At left, a photo by Semnoz on wikicommons of the 2006 for the Paris to Dakar auto race. I have a close relative who competed in the Paris to Dakar years ago in 1981. Finished.

I've met a lot of people this week. I loved it.

I've also attended an event that left me deeply disappointed.

I'm a trout guy. I went to a trout unlimited dinner tonight with a buddy.

I've been to Quail Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, and  related pheasant organization annual dinners. These follow a common theme.

There are raffles (buy tickets and put them in a bucket), and auctions.

I'm done.

Ultimately, what happens is that I win zero. I won't pay for the goods I want at auction ( bid cigars to $250 that went to $350 .... wouldn't go).  I lose at a silent auction. I don't win at raffles.

What happens - like tonight- is that I leave with a $350 door prize worth .,.. $20.

Now, I know I'm crying spoiled grapes. I didn't win. Hell, I never win.

The list of prizes I've won by chance begin and end when I was in fifth grade and won the grand prize - $100 - in a raffle for the catholic high school football team.

I kept the money ( the priest thought I should donate it back to the team ) and that pissed off a lot of people. Hey, I paid my $0.25 for the ticket! I was spending those winnings!

I haven't won since.

Makes me feel like a loser. Makes me not want to play anymore.

So I won't.

Oh, I'll give money. I'm a soft touch. I have IRS letters trying to disavow charity donations. I won. I beat the IRS.

I just won't go to any "win prizes prizes prizes" sort of event ever again. I leave and feel cheated.

When you make winners, you make losers. Remember that in your writing.

You make a hero - you make a goat.

You have lightening strike the same guy five times (happened tonight), you make someone else want to drown the bitch.

Something good. Something bad.

I am glad I live on the bad side of the equation. So much more fun. You get to leave a body count when you are bad.

I know what the next dead body in my novel looks like.

Mind your creation of losers. You might end up in print.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

New Guy

I went to a book signing tonight by the author Bryon Quertermous. His new novel Murder Boy is featured at the left.

He gave a great talk.

Now, I've been to a couple hundred of these things now over the past few years (I live in the land of the great bookshops - well, fewer today).  Bryon gave one of the best talks I've seen.

He's open, unabashedly proud, fresh, and genuine. He talks about how he got here. He talks about the success at including less veneer and more of the uncertainties and insecurities we all have directly on the page.

I've read the first twenty-five pages. I'm hooked.

Great voice, Great character, Great observations.

"It was a neighborhood where one wouldn't particularly stick out walking down the street carrying plastic and rope."

I love this line. I've lived in this student ghetto. I know exactly how many tennis shoes hang from power lines as I look down the lane.

I'm off to read.

I'm energized by the heady aroma of a story well told.

Monday, April 13, 2015


AT left, the Crimea Atomic Energy Station - Incomplete. Photo from wikicommons as taken by Tiia Monto and generously shared for the price of attribution. Lovely image, I think. Nicely framed.

Thanks, Tiia.

I'm back with the confession: I'm incomplete.

My whole life is a trail of incomplete projects. All of it. Every. Last. Bit.

I rarely stay around to the end for whatever it is. Kids? Marriage? School? Job? Party? Pick something.

I move on and let the day-to-day live in someone else's hands.

I'm full of potential and promise. I just never follow though.

All the opportunities in world. Mostly, I piss them away.

Oh, I eat fine. I'm been clever enough to get by in the edge roles. Some of those pay well.

Never managed to be the core solid guy, though. I'm never the guy you call for the sure thing. I'm the guy you call when it's in the fire and no one has any expectations left. Sometimes, I can make it work. Sometimes.

I'm the sort of son a mother admits - and only to her closest friends - that he "hasn't really lived up to expectations."

What to do about the writing? I'm old enough to know better.

It only counts if it is finished. Only counts.

So there I am.

I'm finishing. I've never finished anything in my life.

I have no idea why beyond this compulsion to write for ... me. In the end, I'm really the only audience.

Get a camera. I'm a car wreck waiting to happen. Maybe it'll make the news.

Off to write.

I've got a story to finish.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


I'm taking a break until Monday.

I need to recharge.

Trout fishing may be involved.

No worms will be harmed. Trout eat hundred dollar bills, as all fly fishers know.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Holy Ground

At left, a fly fisherman (right center)  in a picture of the River Test in England. Photo is from the Geograph project and Peter Facey.

If you read Watership Down, you might remember the River Test.

Much like the River test, we have the River Raisin in my part of the world.

I say Holy Land tonight because I'm going back to what is comfortable for me - even sacred. I'm returning to the rural stories of murder, betrayal, deceit, and desperation.

I'm picking up earlier work and working through it all. There are stories there I abandoned and I feel now like I can end them properly. I feel confident of my finish.

You can go home again and not recapture those things you remember as iconic. They've passed.

When you write about home, all those things are still in the foreground, vibrant and endemic.

So, while I'd love to be fishing dry fly upstream from the banks to rising trout, I'll be toiling with pen in a place that isn't around anymore.

Oh, but you will be dear reader. I'll take you there.

Off to the ink.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Dead Man's Hand

Wild Bill Hickok had aces and eights in his hand when murdered. Tage Olsin had this fine photo up his sleeve over on wikicommons which he allows us to use for just the price of attribution.

Thanks, Tage.

I've got a story that won't hunt. I wish I had such a great name as "dead man's hand" for such a tale. I cannot get the plot pieces to wind in any way I find interesting enough to flush out.

Off I go - to other projects.

Sad, really. I've got a fine opening scene but from there it just labors, drowns, and eventually washes up a on the sandbank like an overused cliche.
No harm. I didn't love the characters and there you have it. To spend even the couple weeks it takes form me to finish a short, I have to love the characters.

So, off on other murders. These killings, I like. The killers? I love.

They're the sort of folks you know. You might have been at their house for a holiday party.

Don't look in the closet.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Twisting the Tale

AT left, a photograph of the labyrinth at the villa Pisani, Stra (Venice, Italy). The use of the photo comes from the generosity of P Tasao. Thanks, P!

I'm plotting.

I'm circling back, confusing the trail, changing black for white.

I'm not playing fair.

I've entered the layer of Emmanuel Goldstein. Maybe I too will be subjected to the daily two minutes of hate. (1984).

The world I've created came apart at the seams from rot and mildew as all empires do. In my case, I've precipitated the decline through an open secret that tears away at faith and government institution but which a large number of the population deny as truth.

It's a bit like the AIDs deniers. Mugabe can say all he wants; but, people still die.

I'm trying to wrap a plot inside itself by telling myself the tale and not getting bored. I've read clever literary bits before which did not interest me for long outside of the clever machinations of the writer.

Instead, I'm thinking Casablanca: who is the real bad guy?

"Just like other men, only more so."

I'm off to twist the tale.

Wish me luck.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Hang On Social Services

Just in time for Eastern, my first flowers of the year.

I'm off this weekend.

I'm running with scissors working on a gadget. Frightening on several levels. I'm not normally in the laboratory.

Lock the doors.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Not Enough to Go Around

At left, a photograph of the Tusculum bust of Julius Caesar believed to be an accurate portrait from life. The photograph is here thanks to the generosity of Gautier Poupeau of France as taken at the Exposition at the Grand Palais. Wikicommons provides the source the the terms of use.

I like Caesar.

I was disappointed as a child to learn Roman Catholic didn't mean what I thought it meant and the poor bastard up on the cross was supposed to be the hero.

Didn't work for me.

I'm not a fan of religion. I can think of a lot of reasons to kill a man, even kill a man's child. Religion isn't one of those reasons.

I don't have characters moved by faith. I don't like illusion and I don't like my protagonists to be subject to illusion.
Deceit? Sure.

Not illusion.

Religion is a lot like hope to me. Hope is not a method and I'm first an implementation type of guy.

So was Caesar. Solved that whole problem of Gaul.

There's something to like in pragmatism - even if it gets you killed in the end.

We're all gonna die.

Even Gods die.

Meet any Ahura Mazda worshipers lately?  He had a pretty good run in his time.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Frog Day

At left, large copyright-free image from wikicommons of a frog in mid trill.

Yesterday was Frog Day at my house: that's the day all the frogs come out of burmation and begin their calls.

You can hear them tonight.

"Heeeeeey Baby! Heeeeeeeey Baby! Hey!"

Apologies to No Doubt.

It's a good time to bring up frogs because you have to kiss a lot of them to find a prince.

That's why I'm insecure right now: I'm kissing frogs.

Hey, maybe that's a good thing because it is Insecure Writer's Support Group time!

You can find the whole crew of insecure writers over here.

I'm sort of between projects which is to say I'm having trouble focusing on the next incomplete project to resume and drive to completion.

I intended to work on project (A) but inadvertently became interested in (B) and just yesterday, shared the first line to (C) with some critique group friends (inspired by Penmonkey-in-Chief Wendig's blog).

Now, I'm interested in (c). What's worse, I realize that my protagonist in earlier drafts isn't that interesting and the female lead - part of the conflict - is really much more interesting. She's also very close to an adult version of the adolescent protagonist in (B).

Yea, you're lost.

I'm forging fiction here. Stay with me!

So, by playing musical-protagonist between two incomplete projects, altering a point-of-view, and adopting a more threatening conflict I might have something salvageable.

I cannot be alone in having a stack of things that just never worked in the end and never received the heavy effort necessary to overhaul their sorry asses into something - queue trumpets and fanfares - publishable!

I'm going to kiss a couple of these frogs after this blog posts and outline a new story with a new plot (some old elements, some new) which focuses on more conflict and more interaction between the protagonist and the every-man point-of-view character. Yes, we have a point-of-view character who is out grounding in this particular world of dysfunction and mayhem.

No, it isn't post apocalyptic. It is pre-civil collapse. I'm a student of Roman history. Big student. Roman Law. Decline and Fall. The History of Roman Desert Fortifications and Outposts. The Loss of  Provincial Security in the Time of Late Empire. Lives of the Caesars.

I know how things fall apart. I cannot stop them, but I know.

I'm putting that in my little twist here.

Kissing frogs? Not as bad as it sounds.

Probably find a prince. My luck.

I'm hetero. Can't buy a break.