Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Teaser Tuesday :: The Mummer's Masque

An early glimpse at the beginning of The Mummer's Masque, my current work in progess, a mystery/suspense novel I've been working on in the background of working on the Howard Carter novel.

I usually have more than one story going at a time. It's still a bit rough, but I wanted to share...





It was October and it was raining, which was right and proper for Seattle.  AJ MacLeod was wearing handcuffs and riding in the back of a police car, which was not.  He was also apparently dead -- at least as far as the Seattle press was concerned -- but that was easily remedied by demonstrating to the nearest doctor that he had a pulse.
The handcuffs might be a bit trickier.
Twenty minutes ago, he was in a school library interviewing a potential student for the MacLeod Academy, where he was headmaster, when the vice principal busted in and accused him of being an imposter.  MacLeod had a bad habit of losing his wallet and keys anyway, so he had very little to proof to counter a news anchor that insisted he was dead in the street on Queen Anne.
Anger. Shouting. Handcuffs. Cops.
It was probably just as well he had chosen to be an academic instead of going into the family business. He would have made a lousy smuggler and a worse embezzler.
As they waited their turn on the entrance ramp for Interstate 5, a man standing on the corner smiled at him and waved.  The man held a sign that simply said “Calm Down” and people were stopping to hand him money even though the sign didn’t ask for any.  MacLeod thought the advice was probably worth a couple of bucks too, but he doubted the detectives would allow him to roll the window down.
He didn’t have any cash on him anyway.
“So, aside from looking for new ways to make my life miserable, why is the Seattle press so sure that I’m dead?” 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Country Without Borders :: The Blame Game

Last night, my wife and I walked past a great barn of a building, an abandoned space lurking on the edge of a mall in our little seaside town. As I glanced inside at the vast and empty sales floor that used to be crowded with bookshelves, it sank in... my town had lost its bookstore and there was no longer a bookstore of appreciable size anywhere nearby.  A toll bridge and thirty-odd miles of interstate now stand between me and the nearest purveyor of new books.

The store closed back in February, but this new wave of melancholy was underlined by the fact that earlier that day, America had lost the rest of the chain, 300+ stores and over 11,000 employees, all in one go. And the sight of this massive ruin felt very much like a glimpse of a lost civilization.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The History of English (or: Those Irritating Americans Are At It Again)

I was amused to check my news feed yesterday to find the headline "Why do some Americanisms irritate people?"  A click of the mouse took me to the BBC and a short (and rather gentler than expected) history of just how annoying we Americans are with our knack for creating slang so pervasive that there was just no stomping it out.

It goes both ways, my friends. And not just the Beatles and the Rolling Stones either. The British sensibility, especially in terms of comedy, is so deeply intrenched in American society these days that most of us don't even realize it. Beyond American Idol and Big Brother, both of them imported across the pond, there are very few modern sitcoms that do not owe a greater debt to Basil Fawlty than they do to Lucy Ricardo.

It goes both ways and in currents so deep that many of us don't realize they're there until we dig around a bit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Map stars' homes, map Topeka, but map your story? :: Mindmapping & the Writer

I've never been a big fan of brainstorming in general. As everyone knows, brainstorming leads to flow charts, flow charts lead to outlining, and outlining leads to the dark side of the force.

I kid.  I know some people who love to do these things and I've seen writers cover walls with flowcharts and elaborate graphs and detailed outlines that are almost a novel in their own right. It's not for me, though, thanks. But I get brainstorming. I even understand all the geneology charts and whatnot if your story is complicated enough to warrant them.

To brainstorm is human; to really screw things up (or over-complicate them, which is the same thing in my book) requires a computer. Cue the rise of "mind mappping"  software.