Ladies’ Man

Writing is so difficult that I often feel that writers, having had their hell on earth will escape all punishment hereafter.”

~ Jessamyn West

As I have discussed before on a number of occasions, I was raised by women, with very few adult men, and no close contact with them, in my life until my DI introduced himself to me at the age of 17.  Because of this, I feel like I have a unique, or at least a very uncommon understanding of women and the issues they face.  This blog, of course, is about writing, and the fact that I’ve hit a wall in that department, so how does my view of women enter into this discussion?  Well, I’ve been thinking long and hard about why I’m stuck, and I’ve come to an epiphany:  For all of the stories and genres I’ve dabbled in, I only know one story.  Like all statements, that’s a generality, and there are a few exceptions early in my writing, but as I matured as an author I settled into a groove, as it were, and in the harsh light of day, that groove looks more like a rut.  Let’s take a closer look.

The story is about a feisty young woman with an older male mentor.  It begins with my best-known work, and my most popular character, Patience Hobbs of Beyond the Rails, Soldier of the Crown, and Slayer of Darkness. Patience is a young woman in her mid-twenties in those stories under the mentorship of an older male, former commodore Clinton Monroe.  Is she feisty?  Accepted as family by distant cousins in a noble house of London, she has fled to Africa to become an airship pilot.  Having lived in the Big House from the age of six or so, and attended the finishing schools that taught her what was expected of a lady in proper society, she has decided that she has no desire to be a man’s captive trophy, and has left to seek adventure.

Joining her in the first book was Abigail “Jinx” Jenkins, an Australian larrikin with an older male mentor who accompanied the crew on a grand adventure that spanned three stories.  I brought her back without her mentor in the third book, and set up a spinoff, The Darklighters, in which she would be the lead investigator in a sort of Victorian Man From U.N.C.L.E. series, along with an older male, not precisely a mentor, but an older, wiser, and less volatile character who leaves the airship to join her in her crusade against evil.

More?  Consider Possession of Blood, available at one of the tabs at the top of the page.  I left it up because it is a completed story, but it was intended to be the lead story of The Nexus Chronicles, a series about a society of unsung heroes working against supernatural entities for the good of mankind.  The starring heroes?  Bailey O’Keefe, Irish female, mid-twenties, and her older Japanese male mentor, Makoto Nagoya.  Beginning to see a pattern here?

How about The Stone Seekers?  If you guessed that Galena is a fierce warrior in her mid-twenties, and Jevahn is an older male woodsman who is partnered up with her, well, that wasn’t much of a stretch at this point, was it?

In The Orphan Princess, an under-construction epic fantasy, there are two such pairings, Edanna, the titular Orphan Princess, and her loyal bodyguard Vychan, and Jade, daughter of a famous pirate, and her mentor, her late father’s bosun Finch.  I cringe to admit that I may have been setting up a third such paring, members of a loose gang of thieves, an elf girl and an older dwarf.  I have begun to suspect that the reason I can’t make Stingaree progress is that it lacks such a pair, and before you suggest the obvious solution of putting one in, know that it is over halfway finished, and bringing in a pair of new characters now would be tantamount to starting over; that option isn’t on the table!

So it seems to me that if I’m going to do any more writing going forward, I’m going to have to concentrate on one series that contains just such a pair of characters; to continue all these threads that I have named above would be to invite accusations of being a one-dimensional hack . . .  Which may be true, but is nonetheless a label I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing.  I also think I need a new genre, as steampunk is beginning to feel very limiting as far as the way it interacts with my personal writing style.  Another blogger posted a hilarious spoof of a TV pitch for an imaginary SyFy Channel series years ago that I considered exploring, and recently passed along a note asking whether he would mind if I did so.  I have received no reply, and I have to guess at this point that the answer to that is no.  Ideas continue to kick around the big empty space inside my head, and who knows, maybe one will gel.  Lord knows I’ll have plenty of time to think about it by the time I finish posting Chameleon and then Broken English, which I haven’t even started yet.

Poppy as Patience

As an aside to all of this, I want to introduce you to a wonderful lady who I’ve been on-line friends with for several years, since back in the days of The Steampunk Empire.  The name she uses for her public persona is Poppy Appleton, and you can find her on FacebookShe’s one of many on-line friends who I’ve never met, even though she lives in San Diego.  Poppy is a celebrity cosplayer who is well-known at conventions throughout the southwest.  She has a range of characters from steampunk to Star Wars and several points between, and is never too busy to put on a Hollywood-quality rig and turn out at some shindig that benefits children.  Her Facebook page is a treasure trove of photos and videos of the full range of her looks and how she constructs them, and one that I am especially fond of is the one I’ve posted here.  I’m quite certain she’s never read Beyond the Rails, but if she hasn’t channeled Patience Hobbs with this outfit, I’d like to see one closer.  Poppy’s face is more dramatic than Patience’s “cutesy” look, but seriously, this is like my most popular character come to life!

And a final note here, a format change is in the works.  This blog has become a bit long and unwieldy as I attempt to shoehorn more and more into it, so in the interest of keeping it manageable for both writer and reader, I am going to split it into two separate projects.  Sunday’s posts will consist of whatever “interesting reading” I have managed to accumulate, including my own ramblings about who-knows-what.  Thursdays will be given over to book promotions, or “ads,” if you like, for items that used to go in the Interesting Books category.  So if you favor one aspect of the blog over the other, you will shortly be able to find your preferred reading on a specific day.  Of course, I wouldn’t be offended if the odd reader or two showed up for both of them!

Important Bulletin!

I read this piece by Richard Paolinelli, an admin at the Facebook Science Fiction and Fantasy Creator’s Guild. I’m passing it along here because I have some friends who deal in audio books, but beyond that, everyone who creates or partakes needs to be aware of this:

For members who have either had a book converted into an audiobook – or for any narrators here as well – I discovered four YouTube accounts that had illegally uploaded one of my audiobooks in full and they had been viewed hundreds of times.  These same accounts had other authors’ books uploaded as well.

“I have filed a complaint with YouTube, but also informed Audible about the piracy being hosted on YouTube.  Audible’s legal department has quickly filed takedown notices and is investigating further action against YouTube and four account holders.

“If you have any audiobooks out there, please regularly check (I found mine via a Google search) and make sure yours aren’t out there in the wind, too.  If you find them there or anywhere else, please contact Audible immediately.  They will get after these pirates.”

Be aware of this new (to me) form of piracy, and like they say to every boxer, “Protect yourself at all times!”  Also be aware that these criminals will often block the author from viewing the account, so log out and search as a random user.  Don’t let them steal your work!  His original post can be read on his blog, The Eclectic Scribe.

. . . and an interesting observation

This morning I received the third in a string of comments on my post, My Starfleet Education, that seem to be some form of spam or scam.  All of these comments made brief and innocuous observations about the post and appeared to be from individuals, but when I clicked on the commenter’s name, instead of a person’s profile, I was in each case taken to a commercial website all wanting me to buy something.  Now, nobody’s going to get rich advertising on this blog, and I’m not normally opposed to helping out a person selling a legitimate product, but the comment today repeated verbatim the first few lines of C.W. Hawes’s comment on the same post.  Smelling the proverbial rat, I deleted all three of them as spam, and doing a little research, I found that this particular post has been picked up and repeated on several promotional sites, including Tygpress.com and Shadow.com.  I’m not drawing any hard conclusions here, but if you’re running a blog, here’s one more thing to be aware of.  Illegitimus non carborundum!

Interesting Books . . .

ADeadline

A Deadline Cozy Mystery series by Sonia Parin.  The first 5 books in A Deadline Cozy Mystery series with Eve Lloyd, magnet for murder and mayhem.  Book 1:  Eve arrives on Rock-Maine Island.  The idyllic island has been crime free . . .  Until now.  When her aunt goes missing and a body turns up in the kitchen, Eve becomes a murder suspect.  Not the best start to her new life . . .  Book 2:  Eve tries to be nice to an artist.  That doesn’t go too well, especially when the finger of suspicion is again pointed at her.  Book 3:  An old school nemesis tries to get married on the island – In the end she doesn’t (oops).  Surely Eve doesn’t have anything to do with it . . .  Book 4:  Eve looks after a friend’s house.  Right after she comes up with the bright idea of turning the house into an inn, she discovers a body in one of the rooms . . .  Book 5:  Eve’s on her way to set up an inn.  She has her heart set on a fancy new stove.  Instead, she gets another murder mystery.  99¢ on Kindle.

DevilsSpareChange

The Devil’s Spare Change by Samantha A. Cole.  FBI agent Sean Malone’s homecoming is interrupted by two things—a pleasant surprise from his youth and a deranged serial killer.  The little tomboy who’d followed him and his brothers around is now grown up and drop-dead gorgeous, and he finds himself thinking about her in ways he’d never done before.  Whisper, North Carolina, where she’d spent her childhood summers, is the perfect place for Grace Whitman to open her new business—especially when she finds her adolescent crush has returned as well.  As the two get to know each other all over again, local law enforcement asks Sean to help find the man who has tortured and killed three women.  Will the killer follow his pattern and move on, or has Dare County become his permanent hunting ground?  99¢ on Kindle.

Hippies

Hippies by Gary Gautier.  By 1970, the hippie scene was faltering, a victim of both inner contradictions and external forces.  The Vietnam war resistance, psychedelic drugs, sexual openness, the freedom of the commune – it seemed that everything about the 1960s could be incredibly liberating or wildly destructive.  Against this backdrop, Jazmine, Ziggy, Ragman and a coterie of hippies discover an LSD-spinoff drug that triggers past life regressions as they head toward a dramatic climax.  This epic tale of hippiedom is intimate in the lives of its characters but panoramic in its coverage of the sights, sounds, and ideals of the Age of Aquarius.  Hippies is well-suited to readers of historical fiction, literary fiction, and anyone interested in the 1960s or the history of counter-cultural movements.  $3.89 on Kindle.

MagicShow

Magic Show by Lawrence Michaelis.  Gilbert Gilbertson, an inept magic clown whose biggest gigs are kids’ birthday parties, suddenly develops skills in sleight-of-hand and stage illusions that confound expert magicians.  He also begins affecting people in strange ways, as well as winning staggering amounts of money in Las Vegas, which he donates to the Catholic Church.  Jack Madison, an agnostic neurologist, debunker of miracles, and best-selling author, is asked to investigate the matter of Gilbert the Magic Clown.  In pursuing the mystery, Jack becomes the unlikely partner of Joan Firestone, a beautiful Las Vegas detective and expert in casino fraud.  “Michaelis’ tale is not only complex on many levels, but deftly written, topical, and exhilarating.  Michaelis nicely paces both the unraveling mystery and developing love affair, delivering readers an engrossing tale.  This intricate and entertaining tale should appeal to fans of The Da Vinci Code.” ~Kirkus Reviews.  Enter a far-right fringe group within the Catholic Church, convinced that Gilbert is working legitimate miracles—miracles they believe will convince Catholics to return to more conservative ways.  Jack and Joan land at the top of the group’s hit list as they try to figure out how Gil Gilbertson does what he does.  Things culminate in the closing act of a Las Vegas magician’s convention when Gilbert performs what all agree is the greatest magic act of all time—a magic act that has unexpected and dire repercussions.  $3.95 on Kindle.

PendulumHeroes

Pendulum Heroes by James Beaman.  Melvin Morrow has become a barbarian warrior maiden.  Will he be able to escape this new, dangerous world and the chainmail bikini he foolishly chose as his armor or will he and his friends be stuck living their lives as their game avatars?  Melvin’s a black teenage boy not used to being ogled or the real world consequences of wearing a steel bikini.  But the real world has shifted . . . him, his friends Jason and Rich, and his big brother Mike are stuck in character, in a place where danger doesn’t lurk because it prefers to boldly stride out in the open.  Mages import game players like Melvin via the Rift Pendulum.  The reason:  The work is suicidal and pendulum heroes are insanely powerful.  Usually.  Melvin and his friends can be, too, if they’re in the right emotional state to trigger into character.  Melvin’s a one-man, uh, one warrior maiden army when he’s angry but anger’s hard to find with all that mortal danger striding around everywhere.  It couldn’t get worse.  Melvin’s best friend Jason isn’t even human and, thanks to this dangerous world and its axe-wielding inhabitants, quickly becomes not even an archer.  His other friend Rich is 15 going on 50 now that he’s in an old mage’s body complete with untameable gray beard.  Melvin’s brother Mike looks like a chupacabra and he’s really pissed about that.  The road back home lies at the end of a suicidal quest.  Melvin better find something to rage about . . . because being genre-savvy only gets you so far.  Pendulum Heroes, James Beamon’s debut novel, is an adrenaline fueled adventure for anyone who’s spent a little too much time on the character creation screen instead of playing the game, those of us who have thought just how godmode we’d be with mage power, but mostly it’s for all of us who have wondered who the heck installs a portal to another world in a wardrobe.  Check out what happens when The Wizard of Oz meets The Goonies at the crash site of a derailed RPG!  $4.99 on Kindle.

InvisibleMind

The Invisible Mind by M.T. Bass.  A police procedural sci-fi thriller ripped from future headlines!  Now unleashed, the “Baron” is resurrecting history’s notorious serial killers, giving them a second life in the bodies of hacked and reprogrammed Personal Assistant Androids, then turning them loose to terrorize the city.  While detectives Jake and Maddie of the police department’s Artificial Crimes Unit scramble to stop the carnage with the Baron’s arrest, the cyberpunk head of the Counter IT Section, Q, struggles to de-encrypt his mad scheme to infect world data centers with a virus that represents a collective cyber unconsciousness of evil.  “It might not make sense, but the beloved Media tags it ‘Murder by Munchausen.’ For a price, there are hackers out there who will reprogram a synthoid to do your dirty work. The bad news: no fingerprints or DNA left at the crime scene. The good news—at least for us—is that they’re like missiles: once they hit their target, they’re usually as harmless as empty brass. The trick is to get them before they melt down their core OS data, so you can get the unit into forensics for analysis and, hopefully, an arrest.” [excerpt from Murder by Munchausen]  Artificial Intelligence?  Fuhgeddaboudit!  Artificial Evil has a name . . .  Munchausen.  99¢ on Kindle.  Release Date is August 25, 2018

Interesting Reading . . .

Kaidi Wu and David Dunning, writing in Scientific American, explore an area of unknown unknowns (that is, in fact, the name of the article), the science of how not being aware that a concept exists limits your responses when you encounter it, and how the language you speak puts invisible boundaries on what you’re able to perceive.  It is a fascinating article that I have to admit has put me a little on edge.  I’ve always thought that as a writer I have a pretty good command of my language, but now I find that that may not even matter.  Chilling, is what that is, and this is a good read that may at least widen your horizons in exchange for five minutes of your time.

middle-earth-e1500975203726

Another name that turns up here frequently is that of Richie Billing.  Richie is a very knowledgeable writer, admin of a group in which I hold membership, and a blogger of things literary.  This latest installment of his blog contains a lengthy and well-reasoned dissertation on the subject of world building, so if you’re currently delving into that particular aspect of The Craft, a visit there might serve you well.

Troy Mitchell Scott, author of A Storm on Mars, operates a blog called Scott Writer in which he devotes many column-inches to movies and comics as well as books, and this week explores the proposed Star Wars series from Disney.  Definitely worth a look if you’re into pop-culture media.

And that’s 30 for this week.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride and that you’ll check out the links, and I really hope you’ll be back Thursday when I’ll be offering blurbs, pictures, and links to some interesting-looking books including my own.

The Dumbing Down of an Author

When I hear about writer’s block, this one and that one, f**k off!  Stop writing, for Christ’s sake; plenty more where you came from.”

~ Gore Vidal

CardOnly

Following my last post, I received an extraordinary number of comments . . . or perhaps not so extraordinary considering the subject matter.  I pretty much announced my retirement from the writing life.  It’s a sad event to see something I’ve loved pass into history, but these things happen, and here, it seems, we are . . . but for those comments.

And a very fine lot of friends I have, I must say.  I expected resentment from the people who have enjoyed my work over the years, and indifference from those who haven’t.  But to my surprise, I’ve received nothing but support, from advice to do what my heart desires, to “get well soon.”  But not one word of negativity.  Such friends are better than I deserve, and I now apologize publicly for doubting they would support me.

But now comes a new matter, another one of those currents in the magma that hold the potential to change the world above.  I decided that having stopped producing new material, I would post nearly all of my old stuff for my friends and followers to read for free, and I am in the process of doing that, with two chapters of Chameleon posted to date.  I imagined that besides entertaining my handful of readers, it would provide a record of the journey of someone who has learned to write by doing.  But even on so straightforward an endeavor, things have taken an unexpected turn.

I always date the beginning of my writing career to 1958, when my 5th-grade teacher, Mrs. Warner, opened my eyes to the joy to be found in writing to entertain others, and while it is true that I wrote almost non-stop in the intervening years, I didn’t finish a novel until 1996, when Temple of Exile reached completion.  Temple was “pantsed,” as my writing friends would say, written on the fly by an author who had no formal training in what went into the structure of a novel.  Then, like most new authors who have finished their first book, I took it for granted that Barnes & Noble would soon be clearing out their front window to make room for the next big blockbuster.  It didn’t take long for reality to intervene.  An agent agreed to take a look at it, an event whose rarity I didn’t appreciate at the time, and returned a lengthy critique, an event of even greater rarity and great generosity.  The bottom line: while the story and mechanics were decent, it needed structure and discipline.  I set out to acquire these things.

I spent the next year reading a raft of how-to-write-books books, absorbing the advice of successful authors, editors, and agents on the subject of crafting a quality story.  The Writer’s Digest library was a big help, as were those of several university presses, but the greatest aid to my eventual success was a singular work by a New York superagent, Evan Marshall, who placed at my disposal The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing.  This book of charts, tables, templates, and explanations brought solid structure and discipline to my free-soaring style, and I credit it for everything I’ve accomplished since.

Chameleon was the first book I completed after absorbing the principles of The Marshall Plan and all those others.  It is the story of Colleen O’Reilly, a young woman whose life from early childhood has been devoted to the IRA, and who has risen to prominence as one of their leading “soldiers.”  In young adulthood, she has developed a conscience, remorse for her actions, and fled the Army, hiding behind a wall of aliases and disguises as she uses the only skill she knows, violence, to be a paladin for the oppressed, a court of last resort for those without hope.

That is the basic synopsis, and the plot may or may not interest you; if it does, click the tab above and start reading.  But the subject here was an errant current in the magma that has the potential to change everything, and I’ll now get to what that is:  For want of a better word, I’ll call it “richness.”  You see, in transcribing Chameleon word-by-word, I’ve come to realize that the physical world in which Miss O’Reilly plies her trade is infinitely more detailed and compelling than the world of Slayer of Darkness, my latest work chronologically.  Doesn’t it seem to you that my last book should be the best, given that I’m supposedly learning lessons and improving all the time?  But not so much the case, and that magma current is a seductive little voice whispering I could write like this again.

In casting about for reasons for this decline, I keep getting back to the modern world’s demands for minimalism.  Shorten it, tighten the prose, lose the adverbs, get to the point, keep it brief, and a thousand similar maxims bombard the amateur writer from every writing site, writers’ group, and critique forum out there, until the richness has been beaten out of your product and it’s like an old pair of yoga pants that have been washed too many times, and hang, shapeless, like a pair of sweats.  It staggers me how much better Chameleon is than Slayer, and that little voice keeps whispering, I could write like this again.

Is there a chance?  Of course.  There is no possible way for a writer to say “never again,” because it’s just too easy.  If I raced hot rods, and meant to get out of it, I would be selling a million dollars worth of shop equipment, cars, transporters, the works.  It would be permanent, with no easy way to go back.  All I have to do to start writing again is pick up a pen.  Whether I will cannot be foreseen at this time.  What I am going to do is get my backlist posted here for all to read, and when that lengthy project is done, we’ll see what feelings have stirred themselves in my story-telling soul, but here is one thing I must never lose sight of again:

I have built what tiny bit of fame and popularity I own by writing an old style of “boys-own” story that had its heyday in the 1930s, and had faded into oblivion by 1960.  I grew up following those steely-eyed heroes on their white-knuckle adventures into lands that couldn’t possibly exist, and I have missed them terribly, like old friends who have left the neighborhood, never to be seen again.  I determined that if no one else was going to write them, I would do it myself, and when I offered them for my friends and coworkers to read, they embraced them like they’d never seen them before.  If I do return some day to ply the great uncharted seas of adventure, I must never again stray into that modern Sargasso of brevity.  That isn’t what made those stories great, and it isn’t what those who read them today want.

So I’m thinking, always a risky proposition, but I’m just thinking.  Meanwhile, read Chameleon and the stories that come after, enjoy the adventure, and stop and say hello once in a while; I may not be active as a writer anymore, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still love your company!

Interesting Read . . .

OrientalVagabonds

Oriental Vagabonds by Richard Regan.  This looks interesting to me because I sailed the Orient on the deck of an aging oil tanker in 1969, and the synopsis hints strongly at that boys-own adventure that I so love:

The eve of World War 2.  Hitler is finalising his plans for the conquest of Europe and flexing his muscles in Spain, while the Japanese are poised to invade China, and eyeing the resources of the East Indies and Indochina to fuel their war machine.  Dangerous times, but there are still profits to be made by men like hard-bitten Skipper Bill Rowden and his vagabond crew, as they work their aging tramp steamer around the treacherous waters of the Far East.  Uncharted reefs, tropical storms, corrupt officials, smuggling and piracy are all in a day’s work to Rowden and his crew, which includes an embittered hard drinking aristocrat, a knife wielding Welshman and a hot-headed, hard-fisted Australian.  On what begins as a routine voyage to New Guinea, Rowden discovers an illegal shipment of arms concealed in his ship, setting off a chain of increasingly dangerous events that drag him unwittingly into the centre of Nazi, Soviet and British attempts to gain the upper hand, before war finally breaks out.  Entangled with Chinese warlords, triads, and a beautiful Russian adventuress, Rowden narrowly escapes Shanghai before the bombs start to fall, but his enemies are closing in.  Deep in the Pacific, on a remote coral fringed lagoon, Rowden and his crew face a violent and explosive confrontation, with little more than fists and wits to keep them alive.  Free on Kindle.

And that’s 30 for today.  I’m still trying to hold to my four-day schedule.  That may be a little ambitious, given what’s going on in my life, but check back Thursday and see what I have for you.  In any case, Chameleon will keep going up daily, so read well, and write better!  See you around the stacks . . .

The Fickle Ways of Love

Stories are written by writers.  That much is a given, but what makes a writer?  I’ve spent sixty years seeking the reasons that I create stories and the next guy doesn’t, with little to no result.  But this morning, with the help of a profound comment on my last post followed five minutes later by reading a post on writing.com, the lightning has struck, and I believe I understand.

Writers pride themselves on their tools.  We have knowledge of the mechanics, command of the language, and a convoluted imagination that’s constantly taking us down dark and mysterious paths.  We apply these tools without letup, constantly seeking that unique combination of words and thoughts that will make us the author of the Next Big Blockbuster.  But the fact is that most of us have these tools to some degree.  We’re raised within a spoken language, and most of us attend some form of school to learn its formal rules and how to present it on the page.  We all have imaginations of greater or lesser strangeness, and we constantly imagine things that aren’t part of our daily experience.  So, why don’t all of us write?

I now believe that the ingredient that makes this person a writer and that one not is love; a love for the act of writing.  I have had that love for many years, many decades.  To see the story coming together on the page, to feel the joy of the subtle nuance that says so much and suggests so much more, to feel that thrill of anticipation of how your work will be received when you place it in front of a reader; that is love of the first order, and it’s what you have to feel from your skin right down to your bones in order follow this wild, unpredictable trade, be it job or hobby.

And I don’t feel it anymore.  I’ve been retired for over two years now.  I wake in the morning at six, or eight, or ten, it doesn’t matter, and the day is a clean slate stretching on to bedtime, waiting for me to use as I will.  For a long time, the first activity of the day was to write.  I was usually up early, and before the day’s excitement began, there were a couple of quiet hours when I could think and plot and carry on with nothing to distract me from my goal of quality wordsmithing.  The mornings are still like that, but I’m not.  For the past weeks, months maybe, I have gotten up, sat down at the keyboard, raised that white screen graced by the half-finished tale, and instead of thinking about where to take the story, I find myself wondering whether there are any household chores that I can do, perhaps some pressing research on my IRA distributions, or maybe a video game that is in desperate need of being completed.  I dread writing in a way that I never dreaded going to my job, and that isn’t what retirement is supposed to look like.

I’m just not in love anymore.  I’m not out of ideas, oh, far from it!  The inside of my head looks like the warehouse scene at the end of Indiana Jones, with boxed and crated ideas on ceiling-high racks that extend into a haze in the distance.  Oh, I still dabble at it here and there; that’s a perfect description of my Darklighters story, but if I was in love, I would open one of those boxes and ride it to the moon and back.  But all they really are are annoyances, constant reminders of what I “should” be doing instead of what I want to do.  It shouldn’t be like that.

The fact remains, though, that that’s how it is.  I feel guilty about the things I’ve committed myself to do, and I am sad about the friends that I’m certain to drift away from as writing fades more and more certainly into the past.  But I’m just not able to get up every morning, chain myself to this desk, and force myself to do something that has become more mind-numbing than any job-for-pay that I’ve ever had.  I can’t do it.

So I’m going to step away from it.  Perhaps after a break it will return.  Perhaps it won’t, but I cannot afford to care.  I cannot afford to spend the years or months I have left pursuing a dream that is of no interest to me.  To be any kind of a writer, you must be prepared to leave your heart and soul on the page, and I can’t even drag them to the page anymore; it’s time to go, and commitments be damned.  I need to say a few things to some people to wrap up the loose ends:

  • To Bryce, hold the presses on that book cover.  Should the writing bug return, I’ll get in contact, but don’t put any more work than you already have into a project that is at full stop with no prospects.
  • To the magnificent handful who have so graciously agreed to proofread and edit The Darklighters, allow me to return some huge chunks of your time for things that you enjoy.  If anything changes I’ll let you know, but don’t wait up for me…
  • To William, I will finish your map, and with this agonizing distraction gone, things are likely to happen pretty quickly.  Watch your e-mail for updates.

To everyone else, I’m going to leave this site up, because it contains (or soon will contain) all the things I’ve written in the past that I’d like people to be able to read for as long as they might like.  All those tabs across the top contain stories and books that have been well-received by readers and critics.  Enjoy them.  It will give meaning to all those years I spent writing them.  More will be added to them for a number of months, as I transcribe my work from years gone by, and I may even post more material in this blog, though I don’t know what it would be about here on this writing blog.  Probably promoting the work of those friends I mentioned.

But all that is for days to come.  Right now, I’m off to find my blues harps that I stuffed in a drawer years ago to make time for all this writing.  Who knows, maybe I’ll have time to get my chops back.  I’ve enjoyed your company on this long and convoluted ride, and I can’t say it hasn’t been interesting.  Thanks for everything; I had a ball!