Monday, November 28, 2016

The Rough Draft of Patterns is Completed

Eighteen days to complete a rough draft is, I think, some kind of record for me, but the first draft of Patterns is complete at 5,690 words.

Now comes the very hard work of revision and correction and, though the basic plot will remain the same, I am free to add, subtract and revise until my heart is content with the finished product.

When will I know it's done? When I'm sick of the story and revision consists of nothing but shoving a few odd words around.

Then I start sending it out for its rejection slips. Here's an excerpt, but do remember this is a rough draft:

Ryan parked his car along the side of the street. North Second street in Harrisburg had, many years ago, been to domain of the upper middle class, but the years had made the brownstones appear to be a little more unkempt, a little more seedy in appearance.

The underlying pattern here was so wrong. It was unhealthy.

He checked his eyes in the rear view mirror, but this time, his eyes remained a crystal amethyst blue. He put his sunglasses back on.

An elderly woman came to the door at the sound of the doorbell, her eyes filled with suspicion.

“Ryan Williams, Mrs. McLain. I called you this morning?”

She sighed. “Come in.”

The interior of the home was the home of an old person, gravid with memories, the very air smelling of age.

Ryan turned down the offer of a glass of water.

“Thanks for letting me see you,” Ryan said. “As I said on the phone, I just have some questions about your late husband. When he passed, you sold some of his items at auction and now I own one of them.” He turned on his tablet and held it out to her so she could see the picture on the screen. “Do you remember seeing this? Remember anything about it?”

Arthritic fingers trembling with age, Mrs. McLain reached for the glasses she had hanging from her neck and placed them on her face. She studied the picture for a bit.

“Yes,” she said after a moment of silence, “I remember this piece. He picked it up on one of his travels to the Far East. I think he mentioned it in one of his books.”

She stood and toddled over to a bookshelf, taking down a small, dusty book. “It’s in here somewhere.”

Ryan took the book from her. “Legends of Lost Lemuria,” he said. “One of your husband’s books.”

He found the section with a few minutes of scanning the thin volume.

The ancients would train their wizards using various instruments and contests. I believe that one of these ancient tools was the predecessor of the Go board, one of the popular games of Japan throughout its history. This leads to the conclusion that either ancient Japan had open trade with Lemuria in its prehistory or that survivors of the Lemuria earthquake and resulting deluge somehow made it to the Japanese islands where they were absorbed into its peoples and culture.
Ryan handed the book back to his hostess. “Mrs. McLain, thank you so much for letting me see this. This answers my question.”

Minutes later, he held a pile of the late professor’s books as well as forty dollars poorer. Andrew McLain had self-published his books, leaving his widow with numerous boxes of books that would only sell to the fanatics who had long forgotten McLain’s work into prehistory in search of greater titillation. Understanding his hostess’ plea to rid herself of a few of the works, Ryan felt the money well spent, a donation to a widow in her dotage.

“By the bye,” she said, “as she walked him to the front door. “It’s rather odd that you should show me a picture of that thing he had.”

“Yes, ma’am?”

“The day he died? Poor dear. I found him in his office, slumped dead across it.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Patterns: The Opening Paragraphs

Patterns is my new work in progress, a tale about Ryan Williams who wins what he thinks is a Go board at a prize drawing, but it turns out to be something far more insidious and as he uncovers its secrets, it begins to change him. Here are the opening paragraphs (still to be considered a rough draft)

“Our next drawing is for a traditional Go board.”

The crowd went silent waiting as the owner of Walt’s Cards and Games rummaged through the bowl that held slips with names of those who came to celebrate the store’s tenth anniversary. He plucked out a yellow piece of paper and Walt squinted as he made out the spidery handwriting. “Ryan Williams!”

There was sporadic applause as Ryan raised his hand. “Here!”

Walt held up his hands for silence. “I want to thank all of you for coming and celebrating our anniversary. I want to congratulate the ten people who won our drawing and when you come up to claim your prize, please bring some picture ID.”

Ryan made his way through the crowd that now focused on the table offering free snacks and treats Walt had made available for the celebration. Waiting patiently in line, he tried to suppress his jealousy as winners before him walked away with rare and expensive board games. A young kid walked by holding a copy of The Campaign For North Africa and Ryan doubted the boy actually had the ability to even understand the most basic rules. Maybe he’ll trade with me.

When he got to the front, Walt waved his ID away. “Know you well enough, Ryan. Enjoy.” With that, he handed a large, plain cardboard box to Ryan who whistled at the feel of weight and substance.

“Looks like I’m going to be learning something new,” Ryan said.

Walt smiled. “They’ve been playing Go for almost six millennia and I think I’ve had this game for that long. Never could find anybody interested in it, but if you can get some enjoyment out of it, I’m just glad to let it go.”

Ryan smiled. “So what you’re saying is that I’m getting your unsold junk?”

Walt pointed his finger at Ryan’s face in mock anger. “Walt’s Cards and Games never sells junk. But I’m willing to let you trade this for a pack of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.”

Ryan laughed at the offer. “No thanks. I like myself. I’ll learn to play Go.”

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Patterns: My New Work in Progress

Ryan Williams wins what he is told is a Go board but when he gets it home, he discovers that the board is something older and far different than what he expected. And it is changing him as well as the world in which he lives. 

One of my few forays into the  horror genre, its projected publication as an Amazon Single is December 15th.

Read and Heed

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Shrine War Cover

In 2017 when my contract with the anthology owners expires, I will be releasing an expanded version of The Shrine War as an eBook and here is the cover:

The graphic is a modified version of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi's beautiful 1892 print of
The Moon on Musashi Plain.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Revision Work NEVER Ends

Last night at an "open mike night" for my writers' group, I read the first three scenes in The Shrine Wars and discovered a terrible error.

In the Shinto shrine, I mention the burning of agarwood incense.

Currently I'm reading In Ghostly Japan, by Lafcadio Hearn. (1) In the chapter on incense, I read the following about incense:
Shinto shrines, indeed, are free from it;incense being an abomination to the elder gods. (2)
Buddhist shrines are filled with the aroma, but Shinto shrines? Never.


You know when you stop reediting old stories that you thought were completed?

Five minutes after you're dead.
(1) You can legally read Hearn's work for free here
(2) Lafcadio Hearn, In Ghostly Japan (United States: Capricorn Publishing, 2004), POD paperback., p. 28