Sunday, June 9, 2019

Wayward Station--excerpt from pending literary-suspense novel, Cucariva.

Solitude attended him like an old friend.

He stared blindly into the depthless night. There was no moon; Andromeda flickered from her wayward station. Chained to rock in penance for the hubris of her people, much like him now, and it had required no chains and no hubris but his own. He could feel the earth’s incontestable draw beneath him, sucking at the hollow of his soul. In his weaker moments, which were many, it was his greatest fear: that the world, whatever its providence, would shape him down to his essence, and no essence there’d be. His blood ran cold, not in consideration of the void within him, but rather those malignant things which might take residence.

But in those rare moments of fortitude, he saw clearly, and understood to his bones how lucky he’d been. The anguish of what he’d lost, bore testament to what he’d found. Deep down, he’d always known the question was never, must never be, why she no longer loved him, but why she had ever had. And somehow now, in her absence, she’d never been more present, for she was everywhere. Her hand in his, in the bliss of his memories; her lips brushing his, in the rapture of remembered touch. It was her face he saw, God’s fairest creature, in his mind’s eye. She who walked beside him, on his now empty road.

It would always be her.

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Astonishing Light...

Hope, Dickinson said, is the thing with feathers, which perches in the soul. Jacob had not grown so cynical as to doubt it. But opposite each truth perched its countervailing twin, and as he inhaled, the frigid air rushed in and filled the empty places within him, places where things like hope had long ago lived. Somewhere in his blood ran memories of those things. Hope. Love. It was like walking around with the grandest of secrets.  Unless, of course, it was lost. Leaving more empty places, which remained empty, or filled with cold, irredeemable things...

Thus reads a passage from the denouement of Cucariva, my literary-suspense manuscript. The tale is, ostensibly dark, and by the end, Jacob, the protag, sees he has irreparably lost the love of his life. But even in this anguish, flicker small embers of hope. As I work on revisions, I've been searching for the right words to convey the pivot that he must execute, that next step--however arduous--in the evolution of his love--namely, that true love is never, must never be, about what we want or what we possess, but simply, how we feel, and what we can give. And in realizing what he lost, Jacob comes finally to understand all he had, and how he must move forward in eternal gratitude. In the end, it is not about what darkness or solitude awaits him, but the light and love she gave him and the world, and that he wishes always for her.

And wouldn't you know it--I'm a writer, but the perfect words I stumbled upon(see the image) are not my own. I'll need to wrangle my own take, but it gets at the heart of all that Jacob wishes to convey. 

This is beautiful, and this is truth.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Making it Count....

My first draft of The Awakening of David Rose was more than 100,00 words. Ultimately, I pared it down by about 1/4, which is kind of par for the editing course, but I remain amazed how we can indeed produce hundreds of thousands of words of prose--millions, really, in the life of many scribes--and still, so much boils down to a few key sections, be it the first page, or even first sentence, or even the query letter or (my nemesis) synopsis in which we must somehow and succinctly capture/convey the essence of all that work...

But that's the deal, right? Agents, publishers, and most importantly, readers, are not going to read a novel to decide if they want to read that novel. We have to hook them, and if and when they DO engage, we must keep them hooked, throughout the arc and journey of even a long and voluminous tale.

I have found writing short stories and micro/flash fiction, helpful toward that end. It helps me make it all count, and consider the flow and arrangement and impact and import of every single word. I know some novelists who don't care much for short fiction, but I find that reading it and writing it helps me distill things down to their essence, a habit which, even in long-form in a novel, is essential.

What do you think? Do you like short/micro fiction? Why or why not? What are some other lessons learned?

Here is a piece I was lucky to have published by the great folks at Amid the Imaginary. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

What's in a Word?

What’s in a word?

Well, in a word, everything.

In his terrific guide, On Writing, Stephen King shares this anecdote about James Joyce:

“A friend came to visit James Joyce one day and found the great man sprawled across his writing desk in a posture of utter despair.

James, what’s wrong?' the friend asked. 'Is it the work?'

Joyce indicated assent without even raising his head to look at his friend. Of course it was the work; isn’t it always?

How many words did you get today?' the friend pursued.

Joyce (still in despair, still sprawled facedown on his desk): 'Seven.'

Seven? But James… that’s good, at least for you.'

Yes,' Joyce said, finally looking up. 'I suppose it is… but I don’t know what order they go in!”

Every word counts, of course, but I’m always struck that an author can toil over 100,000 words throughout the journey of a manuscript, but the fate of the thing might well rest upon the precise assemblage of a few select components, such as the first sentence, or the last, or the climax.

As for this latter piece, I struggled with mine in no small measure for my YA/Fantasy novel, The Awakening of David Rose, to be released in December by the great folks at Evolved Publishing. I needed it to pop, be compelling, but more than that, TO WORK. To fit, to resonate, to ring true, and to set the path for all to come, not only in the denouement, but the reminder of the series.

A friend recommended some books where similar “awakening” climaxes occurred, and the best of the lot was from the amazing Laini Taylor, and her surpassing novel , Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Her climactic scene (and the book entire) worked marvelously, and while I don’t know if I nailed it or not, I feel my climax works for my character, and my tale.

And now, he knew. Instinct had roused first, muscle memory springing to life in the nick of time and resurrecting a swordsmanship centuries dormant. But now the fog was lifting, memories shaking off their slumber. They burst the dam of what had been his unawakened soul, and he clenched his eyes shut and steadied himself as they flooded over and through him, time unraveling inside him like a waterfall in reverse. Quick, blurring visions that did not stop but roared past, defying resolution, until at last they slowed and images dropped into the picture as though from a thousand different skies, contorting, twisting and then interlocking with other pieces until the puzzle was complete.

It is tempting, with scenes like this, to focus on writing a cool, riveting scene, and while I hope I’ve done so, what matters most is getting it right, placing the reader right there with David, in his head, and in his heart, feeling and endeavoring to reconcile these things right along with him. And just as important as conveying what happened, is laying that groundwork, for what happens next.

The upward waterfall ceased, memories pooling in his mind like swirling eddies of understanding. Marcel had spoken of it as a gift but also as the greatest of burdens. No wonder; beneath the brimming exhilaration—the thrill of knowing he held at his fingertips scintillating powers of untold lifetimes—was the growing realization that along with the power came the pain. People dreamed of immortality, spoke of it wistfully, but what they could not know was that immortality at its core embodied the greatest frailties of the mortal world.

I appreciate so deeply the amazing scribes who craft climatic scenes with such inspiring prowess. I am excited about my December release, and will keep you posted.

So, what do you think? What is your favorite aspect of a good climactic scene? What are the most challenging—and invigorating—aspects of writing them?

Thank you, as ever, for your community, and support.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Lessons from the Master: Considerations of Theme

Theme is one of the most essential elements of a good story. The David Rose series is driven by several, including time, antipathy, immortality, hope and coming of age. Much of my other work, including my literary suspense manuscript, Cucariva, mines more sobering terrain, building perhaps more than anything on the notion of lost love, and the fight to find salvation, and the will to go on.

I fancy myself a decent hand at the written word, but even though I’ve penned countless thousands, endeavoring to capture the essence of this struggle, I can find no better than these by one of the greatest writers of all-time(after the protagonist loses the love of his life):

“He saw very clearly how all his life led only to this moment and all after led to nowhere at all. He felt something cold and soulless enter him like another being and he imagined that it smiled malignly and he had no reason to believe that it would ever leave.”

Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

Poignant prose, and it resonates within me, wholly and eternally, more deeply than I wish it would. But its great for theme, anyway, and theme is great for story.

I look forward to updating you soon about mine.

What themes to you most like to write, or read?

Thanks as always for your support!

Thursday, July 5, 2018 a writer or a man...

Working on edits for D Rose reboot, but also still intending to get Cucariva out there. A quick snippet...

The irony was hardly lost upon him, as a writer or a man, that he had misapprehended entirely his own life story. Remained fixed, in chapter and verse, in the bedrock gospel of his own heart, as the denouement had eased past. She was long gone. Wasn’t it supposed to be easier by now? Wasn’t time supposed to help?


He was its supplicant and its fool. She had moved on. Long ago, and far. But not time nor reason nor even the most constituent flickers of self-preservation, held a candle to his truth. It wasn’t just that everything reminded him of her; everything was her. She was the love of his life: not until the next one, not until he’d lost her, not contingent upon having her, not contingent upon anything at all. And so time lent not the slightest refuge, but served rather, with each passing moment, to merely strengthen his resolve.

Not to one day win her back, for she was never his to claim. But to simply love her. That if on one far day she called upon him, he would not fail her. He would stand his post. And she would see that he’d been standing it for time immemorial. I have been here all along, he would tell her. And will always. All you need do is reach out your hand, and mine will find it. Stop and hear the wind, and in it, my whisper. Read my words—these words—here, now, and for always—for they are spoken for you, from that heart long since given over. That heart whose inscription is yours, and yours alone. Indelibly, eternally. The book lays open, the page unturning, and even if it should, the next shall read likewise, and all in turn. Live your life, sweet girl, and if you may find it in somewhere within you, take it into your own heart that you are so very much loved…

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Of Time, and Seasons...

Wow, I hadn’t heard this song in decades. It harkened a passage from Cucariva, my literary-suspense manuscript....

It wasn’t so much that time had frozen, but that he had, while time moved on—she moved on—without him. She was gone—irrevocably—but still he tried to hug her to him, throwing his arms around one no longer there. Flailing hopelessly at the unyielding hands of an unheeding clock. It was the strangest thing. Years had passed, people come and gone, souls passed on and new ones born. World events, political elections, civil strife. Seasons changed, save that of his own heart, exiled into abiding winter.

The seasons had forsaken him. He loved her as he ever had, for this love abided no season, no gospel, but its own. That time marched on, that she was gone, diminished its ardor not the slightest. If only. 

And so be it. 

But interred well beneath the ice breathed eternal spring, for even without her, within him had she planted the seeds of the greatest love he’d ever known, and ever would know. For in her eyes, lived the light of the world, and even the hardest heart melted at her touch.