A new character is coming

I think I have a new character coming out of my head, and let me tell you, he is not a nice one.

Last night I had two nightmares. The first one was one of those where you are scared not from anything specific, but because you are suddenly overwhelmed in a swirl of chaotic madness. I woke up with a shout, and a deep sense of someone lurking. That was at 4:30 am. God only knows why I didn’t wake up Teri or Trevor. I got up to pee, and check the house. I’d been sleeping in a awkward position (in fact, I’ve been sleeping poorly this whole week), so I chalked it up to should/back pain as the cause, and went back to sleep.

The second one was after I turned off the 6:30 alarm, and went back to sleep. I dreamed we owned an older house. I think it was situated on the end of the block where we lived as kids in Fresno (on San Carlos Street). The house was dirty, old, and grey, the color of ancient wood bleached by the sun. I was in the bedroom unpacking stuff when Trevor came in the room shouting about the goldfish. I ran into the hallway, and found myself up to my ankles in water. I started grabbing fish, and putting them back in their travel bag, when I noticed the hose. Someone had taken a garden house from outside, pushed the end though the window into the hallway, and turned it on full blast. I asked Trevor if he had done this, and he apologized. Then I yelled at him to run and turn it off.

It was when I was going out the front door that I saw the man. He was young (in his mid 20s) with shoulder length or longer straight blonde hair. His face was long and thin, his look severe as if he was unhappy about something that was preoccupying his thoughts. He was rolling across our back lawn in roller blades, clearly on our property. He looked to be about 6 feet tall or taller, but it was hard to tell because of the blades on his feet. He circled around the house checking us out and dodging all the moving boxes laying around. Then he rolled back to a trail heading off from the rear of our lot. I asked Trevor if this was the person who put the hose in the window, and he nodded his head saying that the man had threatened to beat him up if he said anything.

Like I said, not a nice guy.

The thing is, I don’t know who this guy is. Yet. I had a story idea this week, a type of blind justice based upon a reformed criminal that can see the ghosts caused by other’s crimes, but this guy doesn’t seem to fill that part. For one thing he was clearly comfortable with what he was doing, as in having no emotional understanding of the creepiness of his actions. This was not “fun” but dead earnest actions to accomplish something. Perhaps to try and move us off something he thought he owned, like the house. This is more in keeping with a antagonist then a protagonist, but I don’t know. He is not a nice character, and I don’t fancy writing about him. But I bet I will anyway.

Full fathom five

When my father died,
he took with him,
things I will never see,

Yet are as much a part,
of the man I am,
as these lungs which help be breathe.

-ERK
7/10/2011

For some reason the term Full Fathom Five fell into my head today, so I looked it up on wiki. Reading the Shakespeare poem/song that is the source brought to me a whole host of emotions, all associated with the death of my father, and my father-in-law. Hence the poem above.

As I write this, I am 48.  On the whole I have found being older to be a great benefit. Its as if the dross of your life is burned away slowly by time, leaving nothing but the hot undiluted self behind. Every year I feel like my thinking becomes clearer, at least in terms of being me, while my surety that the world runs only a particular way falls off more and more. That is, I am more sure about myself, but less sure about everything else. This I think is a wonderful trade-off, a nice balance of pride and humility. Something I actually look forward to, and see as a benefit that more than overcomes the physical imperfects that also come with age. But there are parts about becoming older that are not so fun. One of them is burying your parents.

It is easy to assume if you are male, and over 18 that you are in fact a man, but I will tell you right now, you really do not know what it means to be a man until the day you bury your father. That day, and all the days that come after. That is when you really sense the full weight of manhood resting hard upon your shoulders.

My father does not lie five fathoms down. One was sufficient. And let me tell you, that one fathom is the heaviest amount of dirt I have ever felt.

I’ve been reading David Mamet…

…from his book, Three Uses of the Knife, and I have to say the man does have a way with words. Some memorable quotes:

The avant-garde is to the left what jingoism is to the right. Both are a refuge in nonsense.

Las Vegas doesn’t offer fortune (though it purports to) or thrills (unless one finds degradation thrilling). It offers the opportunity to exercise one’s compulsion.

The book is good stuff for leaning about story structure and writing drama. The quotes simply help to make it easier to grasp.

A Cool Conceit…

…but not yet a story. The idea is that someone gets arrested for causing a power outage (an act thought to be impossible). The crime is Criminal Interruption of Internet Service, because as everyone knows, in the future it will be a crime to stop anyone from having access to the internet.

Housecleaning

I just did some work to the site, moving Angel of Death to a different page, and updating the old AoD page to be my new Fiction page. The main reason for the change was to make room for more of my fictional work. Yea! More fiction, more fiction. I put up a page about an evil little fantasy piece called Wisdom, and plan to follow it soon with a longer pure sci-fi short called In The Root. I’ll provide links to the stories if I can sell them.

All of this mean that you, my dear reader, get cool stuff to read. And I ask you, what is wrong with that?

New Brain Food

I got a link today to a site called Coilhouse, which is an arthouse print magazine, a very nice one. I bought their first issue (they’ve only done 5) for a paltry $6. The pdf downloaded, and I made it to the spread of pages 34-35. On that page is a photo by a Spanish photographer named Eugenio Recuenco, who is just awesome. The photo in question was this, from his fairy tales collection. I got one look at this lovely lady stretched out in her room, and I knew I had a story. The story is about going on a hike with some friends, and suddenly running across this woman, exactly as in the photo.

Its not every day one gets such a bang to the creative brain from a new source. Looks like I’ll be buying more of Coilhouse’s work. After I get through their first issue.

AoD almost ready for show

I’ve been working on a round of edits for Angel of Death. I say “I”, but the lion’s share of the work was done by my mother-in-law, Sharon Davis. As if I wasn’t indebted to her enough. Anyway, I intend to have the novel up shortly as a full file.

Since I was under the hood anyway, I’ve gone through and switched it from 21 chapters to 70. These chapters breaks were mostly obvious. I noticed their need when I went back and read the whole novel as I would any other book. When I wrote AoD, I structured the novel around 20 different chunks of text, each about 5k words long. But when I went back and read the book, these divisions were neither clear, nor necessary. Now the chapters are much shorter, and cleaner; most are under 2k words, with two just a few paragraphs long. All the breaks, save two, come at natural points in the story. The two additional chapters break up some fairly long scenes (3500 words of more), and happen at points where some sort of a gap should work. Mind you, I’m guessing here; I have a strong sense of what works as a voracious reader, but I’m not anything like a professional editor, and will not take on that mantel to suit my own selfish needs.

The best part of working with Sharon was sitting down with her, and trying to figure out the proper spelling for “pinche pendejo”, and “culo”. Its not every day one gets to use such words around their mother-in-law, and get away with it.

Cool story idea

This morning while crossing the busy street with my son on the way to his school, I yelled as a car for like the thousandth time. The street is a busy one, and the cars simply do not stop. There are big yellow lights flashing, huge “School Crosswalk” signs, the whole works. Still every time we cross, at least one idiot isn’t paying attention. Short of a stop light, I don’t think there will ever be close to 100% compliance.

But it did make me think of an idea. The FBI enters a trained ninja into their witness protection program. To give the man a job (although I guess it could be a woman protagonist too) they start the ninja as a crossing guard. Because the ninja is low man on the totem poll, he/she get the crummy corner, the one where no one stops.

That is, until the ninja starts the job. The first car that fails to stop gets a shuriken ripping it’s tire, and a crash. The second driver gets the shit kicked out of them. Very soon every driver passing that way is VERY CAUTIOUS.

On another note. I got in a second day of work on a longer short story. The first day, last Friday, felt like pulling teeth. I knew something was wrong, but could not see it, so I kept plugging away. Man it was brutal slogging work. I even got to the point of thinking I couldn’t write a short story. Silly, I know, but there it is.

Today, in contrast, I cranked it out. I had to rip apart half of what I wrote, and about 1000 words will probably have to be jettisoned, but I managed to beat the story into some kind of shape. I’m a little over 4k words in, with most of that from today. Not bad. On a hunch, I’d guess the story will hit around 10k words. I’ll know more in a few days.

I’d still like to have a slightly more exciting beginning on the story. Right now it smells a little pedestrian. I’ll have to read it again when I’m done with the whole things and see.

The novel is still in editing right now. As soon as my mother-in-law is done with her corrections, I’ll put it up as a complete file. I’ve been reading it myself, and found a few stray spots, but for the most part it’s holding up well.

Busy, busy, busy

I’ve been working a lot lately, and doing tons of projects at home. This leaves me very little time to write, which makes me slightly bonkers. To help with this I got a copy of The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler. As a reference, it’s been a wonderful book. Chocked full of good ideas that is helping my plot out Angel of Death. So I’ve been enjoying that part immensely.

But this is also pointing out to me the obvious, that I need to do some more research, especially on Catholic mysticism especially in rural Mexico. Anyone know a good book?

Darn that life thing, it so gets in the way.

I’ve been very busy for the past couple of months, and have neglected my poor blog. All two of my fans are now obviously despondent. Sigh.

The reality is my Father-in-law passed away a while back, and we’ve been spending all our free time out at the Davis Ranch (where my lovely Mother-in-law lives) trying to help her get a handle on the drifts of interesting stuff he left behind. And I do mean drifts.

The main priority has been to get her a running truck so she can drag stuff to the dump, and generally be more independent. Of course, because it is this family, the beater truck is a 56 Ford with a big back window. Like the photo below, only more beat, and with a hood that open the proper way. Just working on it is pretty cool, and the luxury of all that space, and the absence of computers makes it a project perfect for a poorly trained shade-tree mechanic like myself.1956 Ford F-100, big back window

A real blessing is the ability to work with my delightful brother-in-law, Rob, on this project. He and I have always clicked, from the day we met, and we seem to work well together, which makes the process so much more fun. He also knows about a billions times more than me about cars and such, growing up with his hot-rodding father like he did. I got some of that growing up, but not nearly the same super sized helping of advice and tool use.

Father Juan and the novel is going a pace, I’ve got two new chapters, and a few corrections to put up. I also last week, put together a time line in which the whole novel plays out. The was needing a backbone to help locate the various bits in time and place, and I think I hit just the right mix of structure and open endedness to make it work. This will mean minor structural changes to all the chapters, adding in some details early on to fit the story to that backbone. The basic story will remain the same, but now much of it (hopefully) will benefit from a more concrete context. time will tell.