Faith, Hope and “Your Love:” Lari Basilio’s latest album.

Somewhere along the line, the guitar instrumental album became a hackneyed effort—at least as far as the electric guitar was concerned. In the 1980’s, a plethoric cavalcade of them were presented, and it seemed that most of them were hastily arranged vehicles meant to display otherworldly shops, hypersonic speed, and a chance to copy Yngwie (who copied Richie), and cite classical composers as the reason they play diminished sweep arpeggios.

Sure there was Steve Vai, but his electronic saturations and lack of bottom-end feel on the low notes can wear on a guy, no matter how good he is.

Vinnie Moore was the first one that ever showed me that it was possible to convey a joyful underpinning on the electric instrumental album without sacrificing the speed and/or conviction.

But somewhere along the line Lari Basilio came along and rearranged my entire paradigm.  You don’t have to know her to know that joy is the bottom rung of her musical ladder.  Yet she literately has everything a guitarist could ever want, speed, articulation, amazing rhythm skills, and even some highly-developed hybrid picking expressions that bring about a phrase unlike any other approach.

There is also no such thing as a superfluous note in her music.  The Impelliteri school of “a million notes per second” was all the rage once.  But imagine being able to peel forth with otherworldly skills, and land on a dime with near mathematic precision.  That’s exactly what a musical bean-counter would surmise.  And yet, the soul of her music in no way dies on the altar of precision.

Such is the case with her newest release, Your Love. The album opens up with “Fearless,” which sets a tone for the album, as she is the only one playing the opening expression. A straightforward song that builds underneath you as you listen to it. One minute you’re a spectator—the next you’re a passenger. It has timing changes and variance, but again the listener doesn’t feel the burden of the complexity—just the joy in what is being played so masterfully–and with ridiculous chops. Oh, and her writing ability is just stunning.

Brazilians.  Not sure what’s  in the water over there, but they crank out some crazy-gifted music-folk.

“Alive and Living” is the first song on the track that features legendary bassist, Leland Sklar, who, if it weren’t for his innate ability to work with anyone on the planet, would secondarily be hired just so his mosaic-grade-beard would appear in the video.  The song has a digital delay-based riff that becomes an amazing takeoff for the general theme, as well as a firebrand guitar solo.

At the end of the day, the entire record is populated with solid, soul-soaring music. Basilio takes her Purple Ibanez LB1 Signature guitar and builds a slow, contemplative case for her joy in “All to You,” a structurally beautiful tune with delicate phrasing—no easy feat for many guitarists.

But it’s the “you” and “your” in her music that really creates the bedrock for her inspiration.  She shies not away from her faith in God, which manifest itself so beautifully in the title track, “Your Love,” which has an intro any John Mayer fan would die for, yet goes so much deeper than anything in his catalog.  The song is literally the oasis on the record, and one can feel the sense of a down shift—not so much in tempo, but in terms of life’s urgency.

Lari Basilio’s latest shows that its possible to provide echoes of Eddie, John, Vinnie and especially herself, but at day’s end, her playing will always point north, and that “Your Love” is what will be found if one decides to follow those arrows.

Lari’s website can be found here.

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Making the most of my rogue, photoshop SKILLZ

The last six or seven years has afforded me the opportunity to start plunging down various technological rabbit holes with regards to adobe products. Somewhere along the line I discovered that I did not like making movies, or editing video whatsoever. At least not in a long form fashion. I did discover, however, that I did like being able to retreat to editing the aspects of a single moment in time. Take for instance the picture I have uploaded here – – a take on a modern Mary Poppins. I called it in formally “arriving too late to save Mr. Banks”

Anyway, I said all that to simply say that I have an entire Instagram page dedicated to these endeavors. My hope is you will follow me there and find it interesting.


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I’m Thankful for Dean Martin

Note: My father passed from this earth in July of 2005. I distinctly remember my first thanksgiving without him. The following was written shortly after that, with as much contemplative gratitude as I had within me. Perhaps it touches a chord as well . . .

Tomorrow at 5:00 AM, It will be four months to the day that I lost my father to cancer. I had a feeling last Thanksgiving, that I was looking at my dad across the holiday table for the last time.

I was right.

Due to some employment constraints on my part, as well, as some plain old logistical difficulty, we decided to have Thanksgiving dinner on Monday evening. Everything was normal overall, with the addition of an emotional assent to how much we all wished dad were here one last time. My dad was a restless soul, and my wife’s observations about his absence on one of the holiday deficits that will now be the most obvious: that wherever my dad was on Thanksgiving, he always managed to be wandering around the kitchen, chatting with whomever was cooking, and just plain getting in the way in the fashion that loveable old lugs manage to do so well.

How I would have paid millions to have my dad holding up the wheels of culinary progress, forcing my wife to jokingly threaten to run him over one last time. How I would have also paid millions, if it would have at least enshrouded the incremental knots of pain in my mother’s face, as the holiday realizations washed over the clock—all without my father—her husband. And no amount of ambient room chatter was going to change it.

I started thinking about the last two days in my father’s life. Those memories—the one’s where family members became strangers, enemies, and opaque silhouettes—The one’s that recall the fear of falling, the contortions of pain—believe it or not, still have some high points.

I arrived out at the house, and to his deathbed. The medications, along with his metabolic breakdowns had cajoled an otherwise meek man into a sometimes-belligerent stranger. I remember distinctly two conversations I had with him. The first was a bit adversarial—to start.

“Dad, I’m here.”

Dad looks over at me, gives me a once over, and says “so what?”

“Dad, you’re little granddaughters are here.”

“I don’t care,” said my dad, looking away in disgust.

Right about then, my four year old—one of two apples in my father’s eye, ran into the room with that hapless, four-year-old lack of understanding at the impending gravity. I picked her up, and held her over him, so that he was forced to see her.

“Oh yeah, Captain Belligerent? Try being mean to THIS.”

I watched dad, as the realization that Clara was there at Grandpa’s side. I watched as he forced his demeanor, focus, and grandfatherly adoration through the unwieldy veil that had hidden the rest of him from the rest of us.

“Hi Clara,” he said, through the most painful smile ever forged upon that face. I will never forget that moment as long as I live. My daughter made cancer take a back seat, if only for a moment.

As dad inched ever-closer to the precipice, his coherence, ability to communicate, and humanity started to fade. I wanted to speak with my dad one last time about his soul, so that I could again pray with, for, and about him. The in-home hospice visitors said he no longer knew where he was.

I looked straight into my father’s face. His eyes fixed on mine. I thought I saw a momentary window of clarity come across those pupils, and so I silently prayed for a sign that he knew it was me.

“Dad,” I said. “I’m here.”

Dad had this way of nodding with only his eyes, and I was certain I had just seen him do it. The room was calm, and mom had kept the room calmly brimming with familiarity—to include my father’s favorite music lightly playing in the background.

“Dad, “ I said grabbing his hand. “I’m only going to ask you to extend yourself one last time. I just need to know that you know this is Ron talking. If you know it’s me, please squeeze my hand.”

He immediately squeezed with a force that astonished me.

“Okay dad. One more thing,” I said, as he locked his eyes on mine. “I’ve got one more question. After that, I just want you to pray with me in your mind.” I nodded over to the cassette player at the foot of the bed.

“Who’s playing on that radio right now?” I asked him.

With all the accompanying pain, dad struggled to put those parched lips together. I couldn’t believe he’d actually pull it off.

“Dean Martin,” he said.

I almost passed out.

I knew then, that dad and I could talk, even if it was only me doing the talking for our last conversation. Those were his last words to me. We had already exchanged our “I love you’s” earlier. And yet nothing in that transcended the sheer force I felt when I heard the man who brought me into this world fight one last time to converse with me as he left it.

You bet I am thankful. Thankful for Dean Martin.

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This Song Brought To You By The Letters O, M & G

One of the pillars in my childhood was the pre-Elmo pre-woke Sesame Street on the local public broadcasting channel. And when I reference this, I’m talking about icons of the show that are long gone, or . . . at any rate . . . on the cusp.

That’s not to say Muppet World hasn’t taken me to the edge of my cognitive limits prior to the introduction that appalling Elmo. Miss Piggy was an attention-stealing porcine that had me wanting to introduce her to a spiral-slicer the same way I wanted to film a sequel called Jar Jar Binks And the Wood-Chipper of Mercy.

But enough about my personal traumas with animated diorama dolls. I’m actually trying to write about rock musicians.

This is where Bob from Sesame Street was my favorite guy. He has a section of the show called “Who are the people in your neighborhood?” This included a little sing-along with a little foot-trip down the street–an attempt to reach out an meet people with whom we:

  1. may not share any commonality
  2. may bridge gaps and maximize these differences.

The lockdown–these hermetically-sealed nightmares that routed lives, livelihood and stagecrafts, also forged something that was essentially survival mode to working musicians: The on-line collaboration.

It works like this:

  1. drummer-person makes a song by themselves. they send it by email to Bass Player
  2. Bass player records their part, and emails it to guitarist
  3. Guitarist complains that his tone “isn’t right” and never completes the project.

Okay, anyway. You get the idea. A song is created over many continents and states, time-lines and competing Mason/Dixon anxieties. Ultimately, a song is created after the vocalist lets fly with their part.

Then this is all mixed, along with video footage provided by each person, which is conflated into a music video–organic to the core.

I’ve seen a ton of these, and I could start with any of them. I’ve already managed to write about Croatian Throatman, Dino Jelusick, and it just so happens that he’s managed to have his overachieving, Slavic mitts involved with the project I’m about to cover here:

Let’s talk about each of these guys, shall we?

The most thing you see is Hammond Beatmaster, Lachy Doley. Not sure what to say about him other than he proves with out a shadow of a doubt that it is entirely possible to reclassify the keys as a percussion instrument. I’d also add the guitar to his list of imitations, but I think that conclusion can be drawn without my help, as his madness on the Whammy Clavinet are obvious without argument. Either way, he’s a monster player, and the first thing I ever heard him do was right here. He’s a monster.

Mike Portnoy is name synonymous with about 83 different bands/projects/offshoots/replacements and triage stand-in gigs in a myriad of bands. And while his name is practically omnipresent as a musician, he still manages to be identified with the one band he hasn’t been in for eleven years.

His current high-point lineups are with the Winery Dogs, Sons of Apollo, and The Neil Morse Band. In two of those bands alone, he gets to be timekeeper over skulking, finger-happy bassist, Billy Sheehan. He’s filled in for so many bands, that it would be easier to simply name the bands he hasn’t played for. And speaking of Muppets, I understand he’s on retainer for the Dr. Teeth band, in the event that Animal winds up with a regional restraining order.

Justin Johnson came to light five our six years ago with the uploading of a single video, of which portrayed him playing a guitar made from a shovel.

Of course, he manages to prove that he has even more nuance than a single video, and his freestyle, and affable approach to music, as well as people,has carried him far. To say that he is as stylistically as far away from the other contributors here is understatement and yet his solo contributions here during the handclap breaks is a complete joy to hear. He is single-handedly inspiring the novice to improve their game, while puzzling the professional with his perfect balance of simplicity and complexity.

Joel Hoekstra plays for Whitesnake.

Okay, its a bit more complex than that. In fact, REALLY complex. He’s playedwith/for so many names, that you best just go over to his bio page and see for yourself. Somebody’s keeping Steve Lukather awake at night, and it aint CC Deville.

And all of this because:

  1. Hes an insanely gifted player.
  2. ‘He clearly likes his job.

Henrick Linder is a founding member of Dirty Loops, and hails from Sweden, and in an in-demand, premium bassist with a HUGE future. Again, surprise addition from the periphery, which is kind of the idea.

Dino Jelusick has also done something here. Now, I have already written extensively here about the the guy, and his ridiculous vocal acumen. Plus, I invented an alleged felony surrounding my occasional tendency to “not listen to Dino Jelusick”. But something needs to be pointed out.

He’s in Trans-Siberian Orchestra man, what more do you want?

Power? Yes. he has it.

Range? Of course. You try hitting those notes.

But anyone will immediately notice that. What people fail to notice is the descending vocal runs through the song that maintain perfect tonality and equidistant times between the note changes. This is not for the feint of heart. Not many rock singers in the entire world have THAT characteristic. Ronnie James Dio left a lot of dead bodies along the vocal highway long before anyone came along to infuse that kind of power with acrobatic controls.

My advice? Look these men up. They all have something to say. Just like you and me. Perhaps it possible to grab the Sesame Street doctrine, and find some kind of harmony with those we would have other wise never met.

Except for Elmo. To the gallows with him.

Ron Giesecke‘s Instagram is @ronniegiesecke

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Vegas: The Ride In

To be honest, I haven’t flown a whole lot in the last ten years, so I figured the post 9/11 measures that still exist would also be an extra pain in the rear with Pandemic-related stuff.

I was pleasantly surprised that, aside from having to keep these infernal masks on, that everything else was procedurally normal; no clandestine rooms with secondary temperature checks, and certainly no one claiming I have a shadow ambassadorship and demanding I submit to “alternate and invasive Covid testing.” 

So on to Spirit Airlines we headed.  For the most part, a trip like this is part entertainment and part reconnaissance, as I have a latent hop of actually getting on the televised off-shoot Penn & Teller have created, Fool Us.

I needed to get the vibe of Vegas—at least a daytime version of it.  Of all people to have never seen that place in their five decades, you’d think a Magician that lives in a border state would have at least seen it a few times.

Of course, it would have been better to have seen it during its RatPack/Elvis Presley/Art Deco period, but I’ll take what I can get.

The most “Vegas” thing that happened actually happened in the cab ride over to the Rio.  First and foremost— the TV screen and credit-card payment portal on the back of the passenger seat was not lost on me as the first “slot machine” I’d witness after the airport.  And believe me, I lost big.

Our driver was from Thailand, or at least that’s what I think he said.  He kept reassuring me that the ride would not exceed “27 dolla,” which is simply an acknowledgment to his dialect, but was also one of the clearest things I could make out.

“Not more then 27 dollars?” I’d ask.

“No, only if we stall,” he said. “Then, goes down.”

“Oh,” I said. “So 27 dollars is the most I’ll pay, and possibly less, right?”

“27 dolla is flat rate,” he said. “I cannot charge more.”

He pulls up to the front of the Rio, as I pull out my card.

“30 dolla with card,” he said. “Only if pay cash, you pay 27.”

If I had been drinking something, I would have spit it all over the car. Every last cent of that ride was worth it.

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An Appointment in Deadwood

I have solidified my newest show at the Arts Theater in Cottonwood, Ca.

June 25, 26 & 27.

Tickets can be purchased here:–redding/ron-giesecke/?fbclid=IwAR2jfmVk5yTLFayhOFAljg-qHyAFD3JOV3mDXDAEwCuRhQh41qOm-1c12OU

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The Pirates Of Pollard Flat

From an old blog of mine.

A Tenkara Journey

Quite frankly, I’ve had fits and turns with the idea that the “fly doesn’t matter” in, not so much western fly-fishing, but Tenkara fishing specifically.

I’m not exactly an adherent to this, but again, my experience is anecdotal (although, I’ll hazard an assumption that most of fishing knowledge is anecdotal–and just galvanizes consistent information into axiomatic assumptions). I say this because I spent the better part of two hours pumping up my right arm in a fruitless fashion on the McCloud River. I had confidently been fishing a mundane, brown-ish, traditional Kebari fly.


About ready to leave, I took a faithless chance and tied on another, this time using a fly structurally the same, but running a body out of bright red wire, ala the Copper John.

Five casts. Four fish.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not capable of stepping outside my own little world–or trying ridiculous experiments that…

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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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