Rocket Flares In A Pre-Dawn Sky

The clocks moved forward here in Britain last night…

After the “short” night, I’m still awake early. I am usually an early riser – particularly now. My brain seems on “full speed” as I awaken and for some time afterwards.

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At The “Breakpoint”

I don’t normally do more than one post a day. But the stark difference in the subject matter between this one and the previous one is such that I could not combine them. And I wanted to make sure I posted this as well.

Yesterday afternoon, unaware of what was going on “out there,” I had been working as usual. Also I took a break which included not only making a coffee, but listening to Soundcloud while doing so. Marion ClaviΓ© has a beautiful voice:

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In Our Times

Since about 1750 (after the Reformation, the Civil War, Cromwell, and battles over the succession to the throne), other than during WWII, Great Britain has generally been a pretty safe place. It had some “highwaymen” and street thuggery, but even that was patchy. (In 1800, it also had several dozen offenses for which hanging was still commonly applied.) And there has been the occasional, isolated “political riot” – such as the “Gordon Riots” in London in 1780.

Because of the patterns of life, centuries of rural habit, and the static world most were born into, lived in, and died in, there was little public violence. Great Britain has not suffered from extended periods of political instability and the terrorism that usually stems from that – save for that which emerged from Ireland in the 1960s, and which had a clear political goal. What happened yesterday on Westminster Bridge is a relatively recent phenomenon – but one we are now seeing all too regularly in various places.

For us as Americans, in 1777 Morocco was – informally – the first country to recognize the newly independent U.S. A friendship treaty was officially signed in 1786, and that treaty remains in place even today. The first foreign property the U.S. Government owned would not be in London, Paris or Amsterdam, but was the U.S. Consulate in Tangier, which is now on a register of U.S. historic places.

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The Young Man On “The Fringe”

There comes that moment when you are finished writing for yourself, and you have to share the total of your effort. I’ve reached (and possibly even passed) that point now. Last night, Conventions went to she who has been a wonderful “critic” since I began this writing endeavor in 2013.

So she has the “biggest” book of all. As I say in the email to her, March 31 – as I note in the sidebar – is unfortunately probably going to have to give. But hopefully only a few weeks at the most.

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“De Certains Droits InaliΓ©nables”

As you may know yesterday was International Women’s Day. Being a man, I thought I should best be “quiet.” My piling on with my male opinion was hardly necessary.

From the International Women’s Day web site.

Now that we are here the day after, I thought I would offer simply this:

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From France To England (Again)

Well, that’s all for the latest France visit. I no longer know how many times I’ve been in the country. I’ve lost count.

If you have never been there and ever have a chance for a trip, don’t hesitate. I would suggest, yes, see Paris, but also make sure you get away from there and find a part of the country that is NOT Paris. And, above all, if you are American, don’t worry: trust me: the French do NOT hate Americans!

By coincidence, returning to Geneva airport on Saturday we ended up with the same woman driver who had taken us to the airport last year. And she remembered us. We had a great chat once again over the hour and a half between La Clusaz and the airport.

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The End Days

I’ve learned since 2013. I hate this “ending” period perhaps the most. A novel is essentially finished…

“Controlled chaos.” The home office, this morning. [Photo by me, 2017.]
…but it’s not “quite” (in my mind) finished.

And you take a photo of your desk and put it on your blog as you plan to return to it once more. Because it’s your “baby” and it’s almost all grown up. And you want it to be PERFECT – or at least as “perfect” as you as an imperfect human may make it.

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“What are we to do with all of you?”

Another week. Oh, and I admit, I forgot! That game was last night!

I’ve had lots else on my mind. We also had a cousin pass through here on his way back to the U.S. We went out to dinner with him on Saturday.

Pre-dinner, we had chatted about my latest manuscript. As we did, I thought on Monday I’d share a final peek into it.

But I was unable to decide on any single part that could be seen as “representative” overall. So after some thought I decided I’d put up some “rapid” shorts sort of like a film promo – to provide the flavor of the tale. They aren’t in any particular order – except for the last one. (If you click on any of the pages below, it will expand for easier reading.) Enjoy. πŸ™‚

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My “Gone With The Wind” (I Laughed)

When you have finished the rough draft of your latest book one day earlier than you had targeted it for completion, what do you do? Well, I sat there stunned and shattered. Later, I watched an old film and decompressed:

And I went for a quick walk:

I did not go inside. I resisted. I had thought, though, maybe…

Earlier, I had also “freed” my book at last from the confines of a PC file and printed the ENTIRE manuscript for the first time. In its three dimensional form it’s now 516 pages (double-sided printed, of course) and it took the printer about three hours to work through it all. At last I could point to it and say, 13 months of work (so far):

Conventions: The Garden At Paris. The manuscript. It is no longer just an abstraction sitting in a PC. [Photo by me, 2017.]
Conventions: The Garden At Paris. The manuscript. It is no longer just an abstraction sitting in a PC. [Photo by me, 2017.]

I was so pleased, as you see I took a photo of it. As I looked at it, I thought as well that I still couldn’t believe it. All of that had once been merely an “idea” bouncing around vaguely in my head.

Soon the “editor” – she may well be reading this post – will receive a copy. Now the truly scary part commences. I hope she has a spare month or so of reading time!

I have just Facetimed my wife in Portugal and waved it at her: “My Gone With The Wind,” I laughed.

She came back, “Let’s hope it sells like that!”

Indeed, and as I look again now at that huge pile of paper, my uncle comes to mind. If you are a regular visitor, you know he died in October 2015. He had been a crime novelist published starting in the early 1980s by “big name” companies.

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The All-Consuming “Monster”

On Friday, Kate Colby wrote a thoughtful post on “writing through your fear” – including on a writer needing to face down worries about receiving poor reviews. I liked it so much I left her this comment:

Great post, Kate. So well put – especially on the fear of poor reviews issue.

I’m sure no author likes a 1 star Amazon review. After all, who wants to read someone saying you’ve written junk? It’s human to fear scathing criticism.

When I write, I always remind myself that EVERY author produces books that earn them some negative reactions. Even J.K. Rowling gets poor reviews. It is impossible to write and expect to achieve universal applause, and if that’s a writer’s yardstick for success I would suggest that person find another line of work. πŸ™‚

And she liked that comment! It earned a positive review!πŸ˜‚

All kidding aside, it’s a remarkable coincidence Kate wrote that as I am almost finished with my single biggest novel-writing effort yet. To use the clichΓ©, my “moment of truth” is fast approaching. Eventually someone other than myself has to read the entire book.

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