Okay, Maybe I Have to Re-Write (and how my habit of trolling may get me published)

This is not me. This is some anonymous hipster that came up in my Google image search.

Today is the day that I stare into the narcolepsy-inducing abyss of needing to re-write my book.  The main reason is simply because  the next phase will me more laborious than the actual creative process– and this has to do with the nature of fiction, continuity, and logic.

Mark Twain once said “Tell the truth, and you don’t have to remember anything.”  And in this case, despite the fact  that the fiction emanating from my dome isn’t some Oceans Eleven-level of nefariousness, it can–and will–be a great story of redemptive value.

However, No matter how you want to constitute, categorize, rationalize simonize– a fictional story is a big, fat, embroidered, zeppelin-grade lie.  So in order to make the story have any value, the lie must me calibrated and adjusted for holes.

That isn’t to say that everything I’ve done has any redeeming value, because some of my exploits have had just the opposite effect. I have at times, been a carping, garrulous troll with nothing better to do than test the psychological limits of the HR departments around the country.

Some time in the 1990s, I cam across a book called The Lazlo Letters, a series of letters written to notables, CEOs, governmental principalities and movie stars.  I read it in the bookstore without buying it, and decided I could do the same thing.  Some of these letters were twenty years old at the time I read them.  Plus, I was too much of a scraping, self-serving skinflint to but the book.

So off I started, writing provocative, stupid, and sometimes patently absurd letters to notables, CEOs, Governmental principalities and movie stars.  I added to that: infamous serial killers, The Vatican and even the Pentagon.

I would then get letters back, and amass the spoils of rhetorical war in a binder, that I have had all these years.  This binder is now infamous.  When we had the Carr Fire a couple of years back, my daughter made sure that in the evacuation, we saved the dog, and that binder full of letters.

I learned quite quickly that the San Diego Zoo will most likely reject a request to rent a Bengal Tiger.  Ditto for The World Society for the Protection of Animals, who felt that my request for feeding option for a spotted owl zoo might have illegal implications behind it.

I did try to canonize my Catholic buddy, and the Vatican got right back to me on that. Charles mansion used a surrogate to write me back.  Word has it, he’s unavailable now.

Also, I did not expect to get a letter back from Mother Theresa. But I did.  That was the one letter that I felt like an idiot after it came back.  At no other time was my calloused literary conscience pricked with guilt, because my letter was so stupid.

I’ve always intended to publish them.  But I was thinking about trying to do so now. The book is practically written, other than the need to write a bunch of crafty lead-ups to each section.  Another book came out years later, called Letters from a Nut (Note to any publishers that might want to take on my incendiary missives: I will not–allow some insular empty-suit come up with a title that screams “zany” and “Knee-slapping fun.” I will commit sepaku before I allow my churlish epistles to be flushed down the leech-line by someone who pictures canned laughter in their head when reading my work. And I don’t care if Jerry Seinfeld offers to write the forward).

So I thought I would use this as an “interstitial” moment: pitch the book, and see what happens.  Maybe some publishing company would like to repurpose the work of a guy who suggested to Disneyland that a ride called The Waco Incident might be a good idea, and have his letter returned because they “didn’t want to retain it in their files.”

We’ll see.  I need something to do while trudging through the endless tundra of a re-write.  Kinesthetic learners are a pain in the neck. Add to that my unrelenting ADHD, and you’ve got a perfect storm of trauma.  If I drop the book now, I’ll probably not pick it up again for years.

So onward. Giddyup. Mush. Whatever.

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I’ll shank a fool before I self-publish

The predictable scenario, post-rejection. It must be understood that I will “wield a dirk, shank, or pig-sticker” in a” homicidally-fortuitous manner” before deciding to appeal to this book’s premise. Which probably means, I’ll wind up self-publishing.

This writing process thing–and by that I mean the fiction/novel crucible, is a bit daunting.  When I started out thinking I was going to use this “down time” to write a book, I first went into Barnes & Noble, and started wandering up and down the Young Adult book sections.

I immediately found myself overwhelmed.  There’s a million people on these shelves; all of them have made some long-form, calibrated venture into stabilized balderdash AND–convinced someone to read it, like it, accept it and ultimately bring it to market.

I’ll come back to that point in a minute.

The other thing I found out is that apparently, this genre will not even think about publishing anything in the genre unless it rings in at 65,000 words. This poses a problem for me, as I sit at 50,000. Although, the upshot articles I’ve read state that fifty grand is fine, as long as you can really sell the overview/plot and whatever else in your pitch letter. So we’ll see.

I also noticed that probably 80 percent of the genre is written in some brooding, quasi-emo, 1st-person dystopian ersatz-suicide narrative, which I am loathe to do. Mainly because, while I am reasonably-masterful at capturing the magic of my youth, the glory of pre-adolescent boyhood, you know–lightning in a bottle, and distilling that into prose that will touch the hearts of the reader, I am also 40 years past puberty, and the essential nuances of teenage angst will most likely feel like a poser was trying to write it.  I won’t write that way, but really, as far a personal restrictions go, I basically only restricted myself to one rule when writing young adult literature:

  1. Under absolutely no circumstances will my protagonist be forced to kill their own peers in routine, organized decimations involving medieval weaponry.

But this last ordeal is the one that I think every writer encounters, unless they’re already published.  And it comes in the form of a question:

Are you going to self-publish?

Now, I get the subtext to the question, whether or not it’s an actively-cultivated thought behind the one asking me this: Are you going to actively circumvent the absolute, soul-crushing rejection, half-hearted delays and out and out ignominious failures associated with seeking a publisher, and go straight to converting  your entire written work into an ePUB file and talk to Jeff Bezos about his cut?

The answer is no.  I’m not prepared to do that.  I’ve spent enough time in the YA section of my local bookstore, skulking through the aisles like a hapless vagrant that one might expect a displaced Atlanta Sheriff deputy  to “put me down” before I bite someone in his camp, to know that plenty of appallingly-pedestrian writers have managed to get Inspector 12 to commission their literary whitey-tighteys. So I’m not going down without a fight.

And I apologize for the circa-1980 and reasonably-obscure reference to Haines underwear commercials to make my point. Snark is last refuge of the talentless.

Half the fun in this will be to find the publishers that will accept submissions from the Ground Zero Hack themselves (this means, from people like me too cheap to hire an agent) and see if I can bait them into reading my book.  As far as I know, everything hinges on one’s ability to, with tact, verve and brevity, fire a flaming synopsis arrow over the bow and light up the decks of people who get these kinds of  submissions all day long.

I’m also enough of a realist to know that I’m nothing special, either, but I do think I can bring an energy to the table that is missed by some.  At least I hope so.  I’ve written a decent story, and maybe one day, you’ll hear about it.

If not, it’ll be languishing in obscurity, waiting for a transient Kindle bum to trip over it. But not before I’ve drawn a prison dirk and done my worst.

 

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Re-writing Is for Suckers

Actually having finished a rough draft of an entire book is a shock to the system for me.  I talked all kinds of smack about it five years ago.  I  had all kinds of MS-13-level bravado about it.  I had street-cred.  I stood on the corner of  Homily  & Tome, throwing up gang-signs and threatening to jump others in if they wandered near my clique.

But it never really transcended the reverberating tones of my incessant, procrastinatory blabbing.  I managed to burp out a single, opening chapter for a completely different book, and then have the idea and inspiration die on the vine.

So now, I’m already sweeping through my first revision for this book.  And I’ve already had a few psychological bumps to navigate.

First, is the Idea of a complete re-write–that meaning, take all 50,000 words, and start literally rewriting them, under the assumption that more elaborative and comparatively  Feng Sui phrases will replace the one that have hard corners messing up my Chi. And I’m right out of Nag Champa incense.  Don’t make me start using words like Namaste.

The problem with this for me, anyway, is my prose in general comes already as polished as I want it. As far as essays go, I am not one that needs to completely re-write.  So that went out the window for me.  It’s just not how my writing works.

Then it occurred to me that, if I were doing this on a typewriter, that fixing my flaws would require an actual rewrite.  So instead, I read my own novel for the first time, noting typos as I went along, but mainly trying to see if my characters were believable, or two-dimensional, contemptible hack holograms deserving a fictional toss into a hypothetical lake of fire.

Second, I needed to “feel” the book’s rhythm.  Is there a believable pacing?

By George, I think so.

Third, plot holes.  I had convinced myself that there were none really, but I was wrong. Horribly wrong. I have never written a novel, so I had zero experience with this, since essay and columns have been my forte. Fortunately for me, the plot holes are nothing huge–just situations in which a character magically knows information in, say chapter two that they are subsequently supposed to hear in chapter 22 and be surprised.  Stuff like that.

Lastly, I realized that there are places in which elaboration will help a few scenes.  Conversations are over too quick, and the reader needs a little more information in the momentary passions of the conversants.

So with all this, I’ll be able to fix and add, cut and incise, graft and impale, and have a first revision within a few days.

It also occurred to me that my pinnacle, closing revelatory moments end way too fast.  So not only will I be adding a few hundred words, the scene will match the pacing while still increasing in speed metronomically.

So that’s that.  Off to revise.  Then, perhaps to hand it over to the piranha-infested waters of my reader friends, who need to tell me if its a train wreck on paper.

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Federal Judge Orders Yngwie Malmsteen Forcibly Removed From Faux Leather Pants

Disciple of Hell no longer of use to nether-regions, consigned to playing Air Supply licks

Swedish-born Yngwie Malmsteen performs another flawless arpeggio in A Minor. many are worried that wearing normal clothing could “significantly impact” the guitarist’s chops.

 

Los Angeles–Acting on the legal request from Lucifer’s Son, a federal circuit court ordered the “immediate and forcible removal” of neoclassical rocker Yngwie Malmsteen from the malleable, faux-leather pants he has worn since his debut album, Rising Force came to light in 1985.

Malmsteen’s incendiary style, a pyrotechnic mix of harmonic Minor scales, sweep arpeggios, and descending diminished runs elicited speculation that the guitarist/composer may have sold his soul to the devil in order to achieve the prodigious, near-perfect permutations and the indefatigable ability to perform 20 minute flurries of 32nd note scales.

Music analysts now believe Malmsteen has outlived his usefulness to the Neitzchien/Aleister Crowley connection, and that “even the remotest of devils is finished with him.”

“Yngwie was, at one time a skinny, arpeggiating fireball,” said one music analyst. “Now, those fingers of his look like Hebrew National hotdogs. You try playing Paganini’s fifth violin caprice on a fender Strat with those ham-hands, and see how far you get.”

Malmsteen’s people contend that the guitarist “is just achieving the apex of his compositional commission.”

The federal courts believe otherwise:

Respondent Malmsteen entered the courtroom this afternoon, citing Bach and Paganini as his major influences. The guitarist proceeded to take out a dingy yellow Stratocaster, plug it into a Marshall stack, and commence with the most flurried, back-to-back harmonic Minor runs ever taken from the instrument.

Despite the obvious and prodigious talent, the court was not hindered in its almost trance-like infatuation with Mr. Malmsteen’s circa 1980’s stranglehold on bad Spandex rock fashion.

The Court hereby orders Mr. Malmsteen to relinquish said pants, whether voluntarily or by an intervention. Probationary rules stipulate a six(6) month banishment from minor keys, and a mandatory Air Supply-related set in all forthcoming concerts.

A spokesman for the Swedish-born guitarist said the ruling “would have a significant, deleterious impact” on the guitarist’s career.

“Two singers have already quit,” he said. “Nobody worth their vocal chops is going to suffer Here I am the one that you love, or Now and Forever, without throwing up. Can you imaging, being laughed off the stage by Black Sabbath?”

Another had a slightly different take on it. Ozzy Osbourne also registered concerns.

“Uh think ah cahns see whoat De inngveey iz tryna spress, he said. “Bluddy mezz, ee iz.”

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. . . and my book is finished.

37 days from the start of this ridiculous, Iditarod-level lunacy.

47, 000 words, with at least another five waiting in elaborative revisionary addenda to concepts and scenes I refused to bog down in the initial process.

Rewrite is next.  Probably will be done rather quickly since I have the core book finished.

Now, I’m having to research what to do with the thing when it’s of sentient value. Because I have no idea. I didn’t actually expect to get this far across the Rubicon.

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Ken Tamplin told me I’m going to jail if I don’t listen to Dino Jelusic

Far be it from me to demur from an incendiary headline, in which I accuse people of saying things they didn’t say. Although, I’m not a journalist, so:

  1. It doesn’t come natural to me
  2. I feel the odd twinge of guilt even if I do say it, and then don’t square the story.
  3. CNN REALLY overshot their azimuth.

Ken Tamplin is a world-renowned vocal coach, musician, singer, producer and intrepid long hair that tries to improve the lives, fortunes, chances and dulcet-tones of other singers. Word on the street is, he’s got the goods.  He also has a lot of known-singers that have gone to him to up their game.  But I didn’t come around to Ken Tamplin because of that. I know him because of this picture:

Photo by Nigel Skeet

That’s him second from the right. Now before anyone in the room starts to wade in with some snarky, Wayne Newton meets David Coverdale comparative mic-drop–stand down right now. You will not wreck my childhood with crass references to glam rock. I simply will not allow it.

This was Christian metal band called “Shout.” These records were straight-ahead tour-de-forces of sound, with Tamplin providing the plethoric amount of scales, riffs, arpeggios and glissandos. Sure, the vocal harmonies are layered to the horizon. And sure, the Christian genre has not always been taken seriously, outside the realms of Petra, Stryper and Resurrection Band. But Tamplin has always played in a larger musical sandbox, and has made friends all around the rock world. This record alone sees contributions from Alex Masi, Joey Price, Lanny Cordola, marty Friedman and Michael Angelo.

He’d have probably gotten Ronnie James Dio in on it, as he did manage to sing on a 1980 Christian album by Kerry Livrgren. If anyone could’ve pulled it off it would have been him.

Anyways, a few things about Tamplin:

  1. He regularly posts videos summarizing technique or styling of famous singers.
  2. He has most likely thrown away the unsightly, blue lamai jacket.
  3. He does not feature other singers directly on his channel.

This was, until Dino Jelusic came along.  Now I consider myself a reasonably-competent connoisseur of strong lead vocals.  I do actually sing, and therefore I know a bit about the craft.  I even have a few friends in high places that let me sit next to them and play a guitar while they do this craft.  So I cruise around the musical ocean like an auditory Mako shark waiting for the next suprise to come along.

One day, I’m sitting on my couch when a friend sends me this video:

The first thing I see is weathering guitar hero of mine, George Lynch, being as cool as George Lynch always is.  I can never turn down a chance to listen to George do what George does with aplomb, style and grit.  He also plays in like 35 bands of varying connecting ligaments, so he’s always working. Always. That doesn’t even take into consideration his endless studio contributions.  A genuine hired gun, and that’s a compliment.  Chances are, he’ll appear on a Partridge Family reunion album, if they ever decide to punch up their version of Like a  Roller Coaster. If they know what’s good for them.

So anyway, this Dino character starts in and well, the rest is history for me.  Even if you’re a reader of mine and don’t like the heavier music, just give the kid’s pipes a chance here.  That confounded Eddie Trunk isn’t listening to my emails.  If he interviews Alice Cooper one more time without interviewing this guy, I’m going to . . . um,  . . . keep emailing him.

Anyway, I found out that aside from his primary membership in the Croatian-based hard rock band, Animal Drive, he was also part of the West Coast Trans-Siberian Orchestra lineup and he was coming my way.  Hadta.  Hadta see him live.  Turns out, he’s not a studio creation, not some hackneyed, auto-tuned rock effigy with good hair and golden-ratio good looks.  Guy’s got some chops.  I know.  Trust me.  But also trust me.  Paul Stanley is Lip-Synching. It’s a sad world.

Without a doubt, Ken Tamplin was idling in the same general cycles of vocal appreciation that I was when he swerved into the S.S. Jelusic.  Thus, his assertion that he felt it would be “criminal” if this singer didn’t get more exposure. Especially now since this COVID-19, whatever-you-want-to-call-it has him battened down in his home country of Croatia, doing voice-overs for Nickelodeon and recording ad hoc projects with his musical heroes.

And it would so appear that the TSO Christmas tour this year is going to be wiped out by the virus.  And since Coronavirus now justifies all manner of bad behaviors, misinformed, accusatory tirades, and oppressive, near-totalitarian administrative measures, I am hereby assuming that Ken Tamplin wants me in jail for not listening to Dino Jelusic.  Zeitgeist, baby.

Also, since that part is all a lie, I must append the record to say:  It is criminal that more people don’t know about this guy.  And his treatment of Queen’s The Show Must Go On will cover any and all doubts:  The kid is going places–just as soon as the places are open again.

Check this:

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15,000 words in

To my novel. My guess is, rough draft is done in 30 days.

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Mark Twain on Journalism

“It seems to me that just in the ratio that our newspapers increase, our morals decay. The more newspapers the worse morals. Where we have one newspaper that does good, I think we have fifty that do harm. We ought to look upon the establishment of a newspaper of the average pattern in a virtuous village as a calamity.”


– “License of the Press,” speech, 31 March 1873

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How’s a man supposed to carry on after this?

image01I just got my hands on a copy of Byron Preiss’ The Secret, knowing full well that the one treasure nearest me has not been recovered.

There’s this thing that went through my head: What if I can look at the painting and see something no one else has seen?  What if some experiential one-off in my life grants me the one iota of arcane knowledge that lets me see right through the veil?

I knew people have been looking for these since 1982 in various ebbs and flows. Most recently flows, thanks to that appalling human being, Josh Gates from Expedition Unknown, bringing it back into the consciousness of a fat and stupid public.

Incidentally, my rage-stroke jealousy of Gate’s ridiculous career as and ersatz Indiana Jones manifested itself in this petition, in which I am trying to blatantly have him fired and have myself installed.  So far it has only 4 signatures.  And this, I’m told by my usually-supportive friends is because, while they love my snarky, satirical Spruce Goose here, they also love Josh gates so much that they can’t even sign a petition doomed to failure, in the event he sees it.

Besides, I like him, too.

Back to the searches. I figured theories would abound.  I just did not expect a post-graduate, Rain Man-meets-Marilyn Vos Savant Magnum opus like this.  And this is from a year and a half ago.  Plus, I think he may be right.  But yet, my hyperinflated ego, need for the ultimate mic-drop, and the rhythmic cancer from Social media that says the last word is never the last word as long as another word-utterer is hanging about waiting to utter words–will not allow me to let it go.

But good grief.  This guy’s effort is actually more fun to read than the actual book.

Also, I think I’ve found something new.  Probably means nothing, but hey.

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Parables.

I’ve been headlong into a renaissance dip about codes and ciphers lately. I’ve gone on about this fascination numerous times on this platform, but now it’s simply become research for a book–for now.

A friend of mine gifted me with a year-long subscription to MasterClass, and a section of that wonderful resource is a number of authors that discuss their work: Neil Gaiman, Judy Blume, James Patterson, Malcolm Gladwell, David Baldacci, and even Dan Brown.

Brown’s series stood out to me because I’ve read more of his work than the others, but also because I can verify the man knows how to write a thriller.

One of the classes he teaches has to do with research, and to make sure your character is smarter than you. This is presumptively counterintuitive because the character must emanate from you. But in reality, even a few days of exhaustive research can result in a few paragraphs that are not only educated in print, but will outlast the half-life of retention that most things carry when we have no desire to pursue the subject extensively.

Same goes for innocence. I can be a jaded and cynical sort. I’ve no default setting to any thinking other than: mankind is nothing but a corrupt, self-serving dung heap that wraps himself in woke sanctimony to conceal his enmity with anything that carries the imago Dei.

Writing about circa-1979 childhood makes the innocence index a bit wider–mainly because of the technological limitations that slowed the overt plundering of childlike wonder.

Today, nine-year olds know things that should have been reserved for many years down the road. Mystery of any kind is a Google-search away. The hormonal idiocy of adolescent boys–one whose clandestine sins required planning, logistics, and a giggling sense of rule-violation to look at some centerfold poster on an uncle’s garage wall–no longer requires any of that. Every possible aberration under the sun is a click away. And sometimes an accidental click is all it takes to ignite a fire that ends in death.

And this–is why I believe we are all drawn to mystery; the idea that there is something around the corner that we don’t know. This is why I also believe that encryptions, codes and ciphers are one of the last holdouts for us–they still require a crucible of sorts. Granted, apps and algorithms have made it easier to parse anagrams, and reverse engineer a Playfair Cipher, a Ceaser Shift, or a simple substitution code. But there is no “Google” for these pursuits–the answers must be gained through traditional acquisition methods. Sometimes requiring one to physically-arrive at the spot in which an answer is to be found.

But there’s plenty of long-term ciphers that are not yet broken. I covered one of them briefly with Byron Priess’ “The Secret” (Nine of the twelve hidden keys have not been found since 1982).

The Dorabella Cipher hasn’t had anyone lay a glove on it:

Although I must admit. The claim that no one has laid a glove on it has been challenged–by a guy in a comments section I can’t relocate. He said he “Googled it.”

The background on this is at the link. I’m too lazy to write my own synopsis. Besides, it may come up in my book, and I don’t want to risk writing a better explanation here.

The world is too revealing. FaceBook has proven that it’s the worst place to post a puzzler. Imagine the modicum of brain cells required to simply obey the following:

RIDDLE: A plane carrying international passengers crashes, and the wreckage perfectly straddles the US/Canadian border. Where should the survivors be buried? DO NOT POST THE ANSWER IN COMMENTS!

Thirty seconds later, some screen-burnt avatar of continence and worldly wisdom posts:

“Nowhere. You don’t bury survivors.” (They then high-five themselves for their immediate equivalence to Marie Curie and Stephen Hawking, and slink away to their MENSA camps).

And this is why the cipher is so beautiful. Because it has a built-in indemnification for idiots. The information is there for those that want to seek it.

Jesus used parables for the same reasons, and really, in the exact same way. A man building his house upon the sand today–on Facebook–will immediately cause a debate as to “whether or not biblical views about the stability of malleable dirt as a foundational starting point are now considered to be myopic and unscientific.”

“But what about the idea that maybe Jesus meant that our physical and spiritual security is based in the integrity of planning–that what happens early van dictate what happens later?” Someone will ask.

‘You obviously hate science,” someone will say. “You probably go to Bethel.”

And on and on. usually, it’s a pile on after that. And they’re right.  Mainly because there’s more of them.

And because, you know:

Google.

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