Voting from the Great Beyond

I haven’t been posting lately because I’ve been trying to finish the latest incarnation of Flipka into which I’ve rolled a sequel. Will the sequel answer many reader questions? I don’t know.  Will it be less wacky than the first of which one reviewer wrote:

 

The wacky, utterly unbelievable plot is, however, merely the vehicle for JT Twissel to demonstrate her enviable skill set.

All I can say is, I tried. But how can I write “believable” plots set in a state that elects dead pimps to govern? By a landslide, I might add. 

 

Meet your new legislature Nevada!

Was the other candidate so terrible that the fine citizens of Pahrump are going dig up a corpse and send it to the Nevada legislature?

 

According to this tweet, Dennis Hof, who wrote The Art of the Pimp and was known as the Trump of Pahrump, is going to vote from the “great beyond.”

I know Republicans in Nevada got massacred tonight, but my man Dennis Hof crushed his opponent from the great beyond in AD-36 & we crushed the anti-brothel initiative in Lyon County by about 80%. So pardon me, but I’m celebrating.

Fictional whores celebrating their dead pimp’s glorious victory!

I know those tea party folks have a few wacky ideas, like believing that Donald Trump is the second coming of Jesus Christ, but do they really think the Nevada legislature is going to allow a ghost to vote?  And, how am I going to fit this twist into one of the unbelievable plots of which I am so enviably skilled?

 

Canophile Needs Help

You may have noticed, though probably not, that I haven’t been keeping up with blogging and all the responsibilities implicit in that activity.  One reason is I’ve been trying to finish Flipka II and it has been a struggle.  I set out to try to clear up confusion some readers had with the ending and ended up adding almost 200 more pages. So, it’s definitely not going to be a repub of the first book but an entirely different beast. 

One of my favorite reviews of the first edition of Flipka was from a charming writer named Robin Chambers who has written a series of science fiction novels, The Myrddin’s Heir series, for “children of all ages.” He wrote:

48% into the book, the plot went into hyperspace; but you go with it because you’re on the same spaceship, boldly going where maybe no author has gone before…

The wacky, utterly unbelievable plot is, however, merely the vehicle for JT Twissel to demonstrate her enviable skill set. Highly knowledgeable in a number of disciplines, she is very well read (I’m a sucker for literary references), sharply observant when it comes to individual character definitions, with a wickedly dry sense of humour and a wonderful command of language. 59% into the book you will meet the very likeable pilot Captain Wug, capable of such sentences as “May I ask, mellifluous one, why you want to know about the miasma behind our legendary monadnock?” The entire review is on the Flipka under Reviews

I was delighted with his review, of course, but “utterly unbelievable plot” I took slight umbrage with.  A story’s got to have a believable plot, right? 

And so I tried to insert “believability” into my plot which was impossible in the era of Trump. I guess because believable is somewhat associated with sanity and we certainly don’t have a lot of that going round.

It was a fool’s mission, friends. However, Fi Butters does get to the bottom of the mystery that the CIA, ICE, FAA or Federation of Planets is so anxious to protect.

The second reason I haven’t been blogging is that I’m planning a trip.  Some people are Anglophiles and some are Francophiles but I am a Canophile.  My favorite singer/songwriters (Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen) are from Canada as are many of my favorite actors.  

Last but not least, my favorite book as a child (Anne of Green Gables) was set in Canada.  So I’m planning a trip to Nova Scotia and boy oh boy, if you think my plots are wacky and unbelievable, so are the trips I plan.  I’ve got us flying into Montreal, taking an overnight train to Halifax, biking all over Prince Edward Island, flying back to Montreal and then taking an overnight train down to NYC.  Already I’ve spent quite a bundle and we don’t even have places to stay.  Or any idea where to eat. The last time I went to Montreal I was a poor college kid and we lived on canned soup. Our entertainment was wandering around Mt. Royal.

So I’m asking all my Canadian buddies for suggestions.  What are the things we shouldn’t miss?  Foods we must try. Fun places to stay.

Many thanks in advance.

A tip for time travel

I keep dreaming up stupider and stupider ideas for the ending of The Return of Flipka.  My latest had her time traveling from 1978 to 2016 as a part of an FBI plot to stop the presidency of Donald Trump  and yes, aliens were involved. Obviously I’m in a slump.  If the weather were better I’d forget my writing gig and go down to the teahouse and paint.  But the teahouse has no heat.

I write this sniveling, whiny post while listening to Rachmaninoff, someone so gifted that he could not possibly have ever suffered from writer’s block.  Or so one would think.

Of course, he did. As a young man he needed therapy for a depression that plagued him for four years and came and went  throughout his life. One of his most famous pieces, The Bells, was inspired by another famously depressed artist, Edgar Allen Poe. 

I don’t know nearly as much about classical music as I’d like but luckily my husband once belonged to one of those CD of the month clubs. I don’t know why as most of the hundred or so CDs he received are still wrapped in plastic but his loss is my gain. So now I’m going through composer by composer and trying to learn something about each one.

First I was hooked on Bach (whose birthday is coincidentally today).  His compositions aren’t as rhapsodic and soulful as Rachmaninoff but it is possible to listen to them over and over again. Try listening repeatedly to Rachmaninoff’s  Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, I dare you.  That piece is so achingly romantic it’s been used as the sound track for many a movie, including Somewhere in Time

In this movie, for those of you who haven’t seen it, Christopher Reeve is a playwright who’s approached after his debut show by an elderly woman who hands him a pocket watch and says “come back to me.” He forgets about the incident until, while on vacation, he becomes obsessed with the portrait of a woman who lived in the early 1900s.  Many plot convulsions later he manages to hypnotize himself and go back in time and meet her. Unfortunately he can’t stay back in time forever.  He has to return to present day where he finds out his true love has just died of old age. After this point the plot goes into an infinite loop of past and present spinning like tops and all because of a little self-hypnotism. 

Okay, I guess my time travel idea for the Return of Flipka is not so crazy after all, is it?  (yes, it is!)

Snippet: Return to Echoing Waters

The stuff of my life had been dumped without any thought into cardboard boxes stacked to the ceiling in one of those rent-by-the-month storage facilities on the south side of Vegas.  If I hadn’t come back from the dead who knows what would have happened to it.  Sold probably. The proceeds given to the state.

I turned to the manager and asked, “Are you sure all that crap is mine?”

“Your name is Dr. Fiona Butters, right?  And you lived at 3814 Juniper Drive?” he read from the rental agreement.  Poor sod was sweating profusely in the hot September sun.  His polyester SafeStorage shirt was a size too small, a couple of strategic buttons were missing but at least his fly was up.


FacebookProfileAbove is a 150 word snippet from Flipka 2, Return to Echoing Waters.  I’m posting it as part of a Sasha Black/Hugh Roberts #writespiration event. The challenge is to post a 150 word snippet from your WIP along with the working title.  Generally I don’t participate in writing challenges (too lazy) but sadly I had no door for Norm Frampton’s #ThursdayDoors and no ideas jelling for a blog post so I decided to play along!

Return to Echoing Waters is a sequel to Flipka, which you can read about here, if you like.

Feel free to play along!  Either in the comments here or on Sasha or Hugh’s blogs.

Murder by Cat

After spending two hours at a tax accountant’s with a 90 year old who can barely remember her first husband’s name I’ve decide my next Fi Butters’ mystery will be Murder by Cat, the strange tale of Ubiquitous K of Babylon Heights.

th-1Synopsis: A series of murders takes place at Babylon Heights, a retirement village where all the residents and in particular the owners have skeletons in their Depends. Reluctantly former psychiatrist Fi Butters is called on scene when one of the residents, her elderly aunt, convinces the others that Ubiquitous K (a Norwegian Forest cat whose owner has recently died) is the cold-blooded murderer. 


Murder by Cat, the strange tale of Ubiquitous K of Babylon Heights 

“One thing I’m certain of, she was not killed by a cat!”
“She wasn’t killed by a hat?”
“No dear, a cat.”
      Martha was one of those little old ladies who questioned everything she heard and thus it was impossible to get through a conversation without saying the same thing at least three times and she wasn’t alone. 
      “Well isn’t that the darndest thing.  Killed by a hat.”  Mr. Fassenbinder chimed it.  He’d long since lost his hair and hearing but refused to wear an aide because “there wasn’t much good to hear in the world, so why wear the damned thing?”  I had to agree.    
      The residents of Babylon Heights had assembled in the very same community room where holiday parties and bingo games were held. I figured there had to be at least forty folks which was fine; the room could easily hold a couple hundred.  Heavy furniture provided comfy seating which meant a few in my audience would probably doze off, but regardless, after my auntie introduced me I launched into an attempt to quell the panic that rattled their aging bones. 
     “Nobody was killed by a hat or a cat or even a bat!”  I chuckled which clued them in that something funny had been said.   A few followed suit with a chuckle that sounded painfully forced. Okay, Butters, I thought,  the last comedian to crack these folks up was probably Bob Hope.   “First of all, despite my aunt’s kind introduction, I am not a detective.  I am, or was, a psychiatrist.”
     “Was a psychiatrist?”
     “Yes Martha. Was.  But I won’t bore you with the gory details of my many career changes…”
     “Gory details?”
     “Well not really gory. . . “

Okay, that’s as far as I’ve gotten on this bit of silliness.  If I’m going to continue I need some appropriate character names. Do you have any suggestions? (other than – stop now Jan before you embarrass yourself any further!)

Learning to Ride, again. . .

MomJuggling

From childlifemommy.com

For the past month I’ve been juggling priorities and only finding bits and pieces of time to catch up with blogging buddies. Writing came to an almost complete standstill and blogging – well, I’ve been  re-posting older pieces.  Marketing and promotion – forget it!

Now that I have a day unfettered by priorities, I feel like someone who’s fallen off a horse and now must regain the confidence to ride again.  What to do next?  Revamp the blog?  Work on my WIP?

My goodness, I can’t even remember where I left Fiona Butters. Tied to a railroad track outside Ely Nevada while on the trail of her missing beau, Civil War Professor Lopinski?  Or, in a small town in New England trying to convince a group of horny teenage girls that the th-1rock pile behind their boarding school is not a portal to the underground world of H.R. Lovecraft’s macabre imagination?

And, while I think I’ve worked out the skeleton of a plot, what will it look like to me now after thirty days?  Total and utter crap?  Probably.

The good news is I’m about 130 pages into the story and a Cheeto has not crossed Fi’s lips.  I can’t promise one won’t or that she’s suddenly going to start fasting, purging or yodeling but all things are possible.

How about you – are you finding it hard to get back on that old horse and ride bravely into the New Year?


In news from blogging and non-blogging buddies:

  • Many thanks to Mary Rowen, author of Leaving the Beach and Living by Ear for including me in her list of bloggers to check out. I’m honored!
  • For those of you who are fans of his work, there’s a new Duke Miller poem posted here.
  • Gentlemen bloggers, Hugh of Hugh’s News and Views has a new award especially for you!

#ThursdayDoors: Ely Nevada

ElyDoors3This door leads to the Nevada Northern Museum and Historic Train Ride in Ely, a town of about 5,000 people in eastern Nevada. Ely got its start as a Stagecoach and Pony Express stop. Then copper was discovered nearby in the early 1900s and times were good. But, as with any mining boom, eventually it went bust and the town had to turn to other sources of revenue, the Old Ghost Train run by the Nevada Northern being one of them.

GhostTrain

The engine of the Ghost Train going out for a test drive.

This train runs during the summer and on certain holidays, such as Halloween and Christmas. The round trip to the Ruth mine covers about 14 miles and takes about 90 minutes (that’s not bad considering it’s the oldest still-running steam engine in America). We were there when no runs were planned but happily they were testing the engine.

ElyDoors4

Back doors to the platform.

The Old Ghost Train is most famous for Halloween runs, when employees dress in Victorian garb and tell ghoulish tales from Nevada’s colorful past, however there are other themed rides, for example:

  • The Polar Express (with a real live Santa, caroling, etc.)
  • Rocking Rolling Geology
  • Wild Wild West (of course).
ElyDoors

Shack across from the train station. Not sure what it was used for.

Ely is famous for many other things:

  • The birthplace of Richard Nixon’s wife Pat
  • The eastern end of Route 50, the Loneliest Highway in the World (and it is lonely!)
  • The setting for the climatic scene in the movie, The Rat Race. 

And it’s famous for one more thing as well.  Let me think. What could that be?  Ah yes, it’s the setting for that wacky mystery Flipka! (okay, maybe not famous yet but a gal can always dream.)

th-1

Another great thing to do in Ely! Cocktails and Cannons! Oh boy!

But before you get all excited about hopping on the Ghost Train or racing people in a bathtub, keep in mind Ely is a six hour drive from Reno and a four hour drive from Las Vegas. There are plenty of hotels nowadays but my favorite is the original Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall.  They have a huge sign in front that reads “We love Bikers.”  To a hotel staff used to catering to the Hells Angels, Joel and me in our Prius were like visitors from another planet!

This post was inspired by Norm Frampton’s wonderful #ThursdayDoors prompt.  Check out other doors and their histories!