I didn’t mean to invent a religion, the Fonz has feathers, GM wins big, aggravation IS ME, Tennessee Pennsylvania and Maine pipe in…
Bones in the Tree: I’m so aggravated with myself to report I still haven’t finished the Bones in the Tree first draft. I have, however, decided that as soon as the blog is complete tonight, I will rectify that one way or another. I have only a few pages left to go in the story, and even though my project list is stacked from here to Heaven (including my publisher’s request to hurry with the next book in the Zachary Pill series before the first one is even out!) I will finish Bones… tonight.
Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End: Amazing news! When I settled down to open the ridiculous scrolling list of emails tonight, the first edits for Zachary Pill… were in my box. As soon as Bones in the Tree is complete (first draft tonight, edits Monday and TuesdayJ), I will be settling into some serious fantasy edits. It’s funny, when I finished my final draft of Zachary Pill … (after something like five years) I never wanted to see that story again. Now, after a couple of months of Ripped… edits, I’m anxious to visit my dragon wizard boy again.
By the way, the buzz about this book is really rising. I get as many emails and request for updates on Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End as I do on all my other projects combinedJ. It is definitely moving forward and will be available to all of you soon (I’m going to post another tiny excerpt just because I canJ.
Here it is…
Zachary stomped on his captor’s boot and scrambled to get his feet beneath him. Somehow he managed to yank one arm free. Before the orc could grab him again, Zachary’s hand closed around the ice-cold wizard’s amulet. Though fear mixed freely with dragon rage in his veins, Zachary took one last look at Robin’s brother—then jerked on the disc. The cord dug into his neck but did not break. Ignoring the pain, Zachary twisted and yanked again, this time splitting the heavy string.
Like a roaring locomotive, pressure rushed into his head and pushed against his skull. A prickling sensation raced across his shoulders and sent goose bumps down his arms. Feeling an inexplicable sense of freedom, Zachary flung his medallion across the room where it struck a tapestry and fell to the floor. A primal scream passed his lips as joints erupted in pain. He could feel his limbs contorting and stretching. From the bottoms of his feet to the top of his head, bones shifted and made cracking noises as they grew and bent at odd angles. Both arms shot out and the flesh around them swelled with dense muscle and newly formed scales. His joints burned in agony, and his fingers grew long and curled with knife-like claws sprouting from the ends. He saw his skin harden into a golden red crust. He knew he was screaming as his clothing tore and fell into shreds onto the floor. His neck pitched forward and his cheeks grew wide and long. His gums ached as rows of pointed teeth erupted from his upper and lower jaws. He felt thick slabs of muscle filling in the area around his cheeks and sensed he had enough power to chew through stone. Zachary tried to run his tongue over the new teeth, but it flicked out beyond the end of his snout and forked into two snakelike ends. His knees were forced into a crouch by flesh that thickened like tree trunks around his thighs. When he moved, the claws on his toes scraped the floor.
Just when the pain of morphing began to fade, a fiery itch erupted from behind. It felt like something was trying to crawl out of his back as two additional limbs sprouted and unfurled like huge kites behind his shoulder blades. Within moments, a pair of golden red wings thickened into layers of muscle that rippled like eels beneath his scales. He stretched the new limbs and felt a glorious sense of power. For the first time, Zachary realized that the orc no longer held him. He could see its legs pumping toward one of the exits.
“What’s this!” Gefarg roared.
Zachary snapped his neck around and hit his snout on the railing of the first balcony. Up until then, he hadn’t realized how tall he had become….
Fat Duck is Fonzie Cool: As you all know, Fat Duck isn’t fearless but sometimes it’s hard to tell, especially if you’re expecting him to run (or fly) for the hills when a little thing like a dog or a lawnmower goes charging his way.
This week we have about twenty Canadian Mallards hanging out with Original Duck in the pond and along the shore of the brook (they’re eating about four loaves of bread a day, tooJ). And over the weekend whenever I am working on projects around the house Patsy our dog gets to run free outside as long as I’m out there. Well, as you can imagine, she bolts out the door and flies off the porch like a superhero—and those poor ducks are her villains. She barks and pursues every last one of them into the water…except Fat Duck.
Fat Duck just doesn’t move quickly, not for me, not for my kids, and certainly not for a foolish dog. Oh, Patsy tries. She charges his way, possibly hoping that he’ll finally see the light and realize he’s supposed to be afraid of her, but ultimately the dog veers off rather than winding up in an in inevitable poultry pile-up with Fatty.
As I was mowing around Fat Duck’s hay bale earlier with my very large, very noisy lawn tractor, he did step off his bale, but only slowly and only as though it was entirely his choice. As I got closer and closer, he sauntered over toward the pond where he could sun himself near the shore. Then, once I finished mowing his area, he sauntered back. If someone had been watching, they might have thought it was me who was waiting for him to move so I could mow.
With his cool, all Fatty lacks is a leather jacket and a motorcycle.
My week: My week can best be described as frenetic but productive.
I completed a ton of great charitable projects, got a ton of writing related projects done (and as many of you know, Carrie Rourke is Focus House’s publicist and she’s like an orphanage taskmaster from a Dickens’ novel), and this weekend I got my windmill renovations finished–though I’ve now decided to add another story to the upper sectionJ), I got most of my lawn tractor parts installed, and I even had a dry enough day today to get my lawn mowed.
Huge bonus! My sister-in-law who is absolutely amazing with landscaping and planting showed up at our house this morning with a car full of plants. She spent several hours adding flowers to our grounds everywhere. Now if only we can keep them aliveJ.
Other than having a sunburn, this past week definitely gets goes to the success column.
Another blistering to-do lists starts off this week, so I’m hoping to get a good start in the morning (which means Bones in the Tree needs to go quickly tonight…pleaseJ)
News – The Chevy Volt: Does This Change Everything? I have to admit that I have not yet tried the new Chevy Volt. As a matter of fact, no city in Maine was included among the early release regions. But I am exceedingly curious and expecting it will be a car I’ll want to own. The real question, however, is how many other people will want to own it?
I’m inclined to believe A LOT!
General Motors along with several other companies has flirted with electric cars in the past. We’ll bypass the hopes and wishes of antique and collectible prototypes that all crashed and burned at the shores of battery woe and focus on GM’s first real attempt at mass-producing an electric car. The EV1 was a lease-only trial program that lasted from 1996 to 1999. Hundreds of EV1 vehicles hit the road. But the cost of the program was high and the customer satisfaction was low. Battery technology was insufficient at that time and the public lacked interest for the most part. But battery technology has improved (though still isn’t truly economical yet) and public interest in alternatively-fueled cars has skyrocketed recently, especially with gas prices edging toward four dollars per gallon every few months.
Recently, a number of the OPEC nations made public statements that they needed more money to manage their economies and therefore oil supplies should be limited so that prices could rise to fund their needs. Saudi Arabia’s response was swift and definitive: they told the other OPEC countries that the world economy couldn’t afford higher fuel costs and that they would unilaterally increase their oil production by any amount needed to offset any artificial production shortfalls. The reason Saudi Arabia did this, I believe, is because they know that consumers in the industrial nations are already teetering on the edge of changing to fossil-fuel alternatives, and one more season of notably high fuel prices might send us all scurrying toward electric car for good. What would all the OPEC companies do if we stopped buying the tar below their feet? But if Saudi Arabia isn’t going to allow prices to rise in the near future, and if GM has already failed with the EV1, what makes me think that this time will be any different?
First, I have to say that this opinion didn’t originate with me. I’ve read about it in several news articles in the last year or so, but most recently I read a New York Times’ Op-Ed piece by JOE NOCERA. And ultimately he based his opinion on information on the over-arching lesson that GM learned with their EV1 program: what consumers want even more than a gas/diesel alternative is RANGE. We want to know that if we get in our car and go anywhere, we’re not going to run out of juice and be stranded.
That’s why he and I and dozens of other technophiles believe GM is going to succeed this time. They’re going to blow past Nissan, Tesla, and every other company that markets any electric vehicle that can’t drive 300+ miles on a single charge. It’s true that the Volt cheats a little to extend its range by actually using gas when there is no more electricity, but it does it with an attractive MPG rate and only after all the electricity has been used up.
So I’ll wait for the new Volt to hit Maine, and I’ll likely wait for the first wave or two of engineering flaws to be fixed, but I will definitely be among the up and coming consumer mass that will definitely choose GM Volt over gas vehicles in the very near future.
Why is my From My Cold Young Fingers’ Under-Heaven different from Purgatory and other more accepted versions of Heaven? When I first plotted out my fictional heavenly setting, it never even occurred to me that anyone would have a problem with it. After all, it’s fiction. I hadn’t set out to invent a religion or even seriously toy with spirituality. I was really just trying to tell a story about a fictional boy and what happened after his fictional death.
Imagine my surprise when I received an email from a woman in Tennessee shortly after the book came out. She had read The Santa Shop and loved it, so when she saw From My Cold Young Fingers available, she immediately purchased it and started reading.
But after Chapter Two, she stopped!
As she explained to me, at Chapter Two she realized this wasn’t a story about her Heaven, didn’t reflect her religious beliefs and it sure as heck wouldn’t have gone over big at Sunday School. It took her several weeks of staring at that book on her mantel before she could pick it up again. After all that time, she finally came to realize that my novel was just that, a story. And once she did read it, she felt the need to email me about how silly she felt and how From My Cold Young Fingers has now become one of her favorite novels of all time.
A charitable Christian group I work with also questioned this book. Somehow my story’s variation on the standard beliefs came up in discussions. No one was mad, but the fact that they felt the need to mention it to me caught me completely by surprise. Does this mean that every time Stephen King writes a novel, he has to explain that he doesn’t really believe in werewolves, witches, etc… (though maybe he does, and maybe one day he’ll be the one everyone calls “Maine’s Other Author”J).
So, the answer to why my fictional heavenly place is different than other views of Heaven is simple: it’s not real. It was intended as entertainment only. Sure, I’m flattered by people who say they hope my Under-Heaven does exist. But, all religious beliefs aside, I’ll be happy if Nate, Aunt Alice and Grandma Clara become your fictional friends the same way they have become mine.
Thanks so much, NookgirlPA, for your pleasant review of From My Cold Young Fingers.
««««« (5 out of 5 stars) April 1, 2011 at Barnes and Noble
I just finished reading this book. Unfortunately it had to end. It was one of the best books I have read in a long time. I would recommend this book to anyone. It definitely makes you think about your own beliefs and even believe a little deeper after reading it. You will not be disappointed!! Loved it!
In the next blog (Wednesday June 29nd): a girl abuses cats and a baby, my review of The Killing’s season finale on AMC, a definite release date for Bones in the Tree and more….
Thanks for spending another few minutes with me. I remain your most loyal friendJ!