The end of summer means no more excuses!

For me, September is always the start of the year and May 31st is the end.  Summer is just that dead zone in between.

On the plus side, I did get out of the house more than last summer.  Probably because the temps here in the SF Bay Area were moderate to below average – yeah!  And the state is not on fire as it was last year.  The above shot is of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin County side. 

This pier along the wharf in San Francisco could be a metaphor for my writing efforts this summer.  Abandoned and covered with bird shit.  But it is still standing.

However the summer was not a total waste.  I did read a couple of books which I highly recommend although they are world’s apart in just about every way.  The first, The Life of Rebecca Jones by Angharad Price, is described as a “gently reimagined family memoir” set in rural Wales during a time of cultural transformation.

Reading this book I often felt as though I was mutely walking the Welsh countryside, feeling at one with nature but completely alone.  As Price writes:

“I sometimes think that the act of remembering life gives more pleasure than living itself.”

She goes on to say, that like a quilt, the swatches of memory we select are our reality. An assertion validated by a most unusual ending.

In Anna, Colm Herron (see Home from the Sea; Meet Colm Herron) illustrates the dilemma facing young men in Northern Ireland who want to get laid but don’t want Mother or the Catholic Church to know. Because the stain of semen can never be totally removed from his trousers, our hero (Robert Browning) must confess to his priest after his night of kinky sex with the wild and uninhibited Anna. He laments that, but for his BO, it could have been a sin from which there could be no forgiveness.

“… there was another reason for my particular release being fitful and that was my BO.  Which might have been a blessing in disguise because otherwise she would definitely have given me the full treatment and I could have taken a fatal brain haemorrhage [sic] and that would have me damned and no mistake.”

Because the story is set in the late 1960s, when Robert and his friends aren’t “looking for tramps but scared shitless of them all at the same time,” they’re debating how to fight social injustice. Do they follow the path of Marxism or heed the caution of the Church?

[Robert’s friend] mimicking their bishop: “My dear Catholic sheep of Derry, it is not those who can inflict the most but those who can endure the most that the Lord will lead to the happy slaughterhouse in the sky.”

Although Anna is primarily a love story that doesn’t always go smoothly, the book is full of hysterical scenes, such as this bit between Robert and his devout Mammy:

“Did you not hear me?  I said beauty’s only skin deep.”
“I know Mammy.”
“Aye, but do you?”
“For Christ sake Mammy, its not her intestines I’m after.”

The next book on my list will be a different ride altogether, You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas.  I’ve only begun the read but I can already tell Damyanti has taken an interesting twist in the usual murder, detective story and run with it.

First I’ve got to hitch myself up to some sort of routine. Maybe I’ll finally finish “The Demise of Dickey” – my debut romance novel!  Rollover Danielle – prepare to meet your match!

I leave you with this favorite song of September from a performer I saw on stage decades ago and fell in love with.  Yes, believe it or not ,Jerry Orbach had a whole other career before Law and Order!

“Without a hurt, the heart is hollow.”

My Favorite Part of Writing

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Golden Poison Dart Frog. Cute but how do I fit him into my plot?

My favorite part of starting a new novel is the research.  Truth be told, I probably add unnecessary elements to my stories just so I can research something like “poison dart frogs” and find out their venom is used for treating stomach ulcers (oh yeah – gotta fit that into the plot!!)  Some stories don’t require a lot of research but when you have a protagonist like Fi Butters, a lover of all things odd and curious, you’ve got to keep your mind and a Google window open. That’s what happens when your characters are much smarter than you are, folks! 

red-hair-gaints

From the Giant Red Haired Cannibals – one of my most popular posts for mystifying reasons.

Of course, with the first Flipka book it was easy. The story is set primarily in Nevada, home to Giant Red-haired Cannibals, mysterious rock formations, prehistoric fish, whorehouses, nuclear fallout, Area 51, desert rats (the human kind), conspiracy theorists, UFOs, the Burning Man festival, the Virginia City Camel races, tumbleweed filled graveyards, the Cartwrights, plenty of goof ball politicians and, of course, Vegas. It’s a regular cornucopia of bizzarities waiting to be explored.

So you can understand my trepidation at setting the first part of Flipka 2 in the area near Hudson New York, home to farms and cows and cheese.  What delicious oddities about Dairyland could Fi Butters manage to fit into one of her long rambling asides? 

Headless

Said to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper (mercenary hired by the British) who lost his head to a loose canon during a “nameless battle” near Sleepy Hollow

Well, luckily a headless horseman haunts that area, inspiring Washington Irving to write his classic tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  The problem is, I currently have no idea how to fit a headless Revolutionary War trooper into Flipka 2.  A possible rival to Professor Lopinski?

The good news is you can find plenty of oddities anywhere.  The problem, how to fit them into your story! What sort of things have you stumbled upon while researching a novel that you just had to fit into a plot?

BTW:  I’m considering adding a page to the blog for promoting writers who have specials going on their books or an upcoming release.  What do you think?  Would you be interested in participating?