Friday, June 29, 2018

Ishmael's Quest--June Digireads

We started the first quarter of the book seeing that Ishmael had many tasks to accomplish before the ship Pilgrim can set off in search of Moby Dick.
The harpooner contest resulted in acquiring a chief harpooner for the ship although Ishmael hadn't shed all his doubts about Foley Baha's ability for other shipboard duties.
With a fair wind Pilgrim left Nantucket and sailed into the Atlantic. Shipboard duties fell into place and both watches enjoyed cloudless skies and off watch time.
Baha's orlop assignment wore on the crew and Ishmael wondered when the little harpooner would opt for the forecastle.
Hanford, the greenest of the crew, passed his first test: to climb to the fore mast crow's nest.
After a month at sea Pilgrim made its first kill. Seventy-five barrels of oil would help defray the expense of the voyage.
Shortly after the whale's blubber was tryed out and darkness enveloped the ship Nesbitt went to the Orlop. All he got for his nefarious effort was a slashed arm and the discovery of Baha's secret.
Pilgrim madelandfall on St. Helena. While provisions and water were stowed Hanford left without permission to see where Napoleon was imprisoned.
Captain Strunk mused over the punishment to be meted out to Hanford for leaving the ship without his permission.

Hanford, still questioning the why of it, receives five lashes of the cat.
After leaving St. Helena, Pilgrim sails into heavy weather around the Cape of Good Hope.
Finally leaving the miseries of the cape Pilgrim trades with a Lascar captain for needed stores.
Ishmael becomes more attached to Baha now that he knows her secret.
Pilgrim arrives in Colombo and the crew is given four hours of shore leave. After the second eight bells are rung, Ishmael has to go ashore to search for McDonough and Hanford.
Captain Strunk is told about the infraction adding to the intrigue aboard Pilgrim.
Ned Hanford survives a beam to beam keel hauling.
As Ned is revived a whale is spotted and the crew mans the boats with Coffin replacing Hanford, too bloodied to go out with his boat.
The rogue whale smashes Ishmael's boat and kills Coffin in a most gruesome manner.
The survivors are rescued by McDonough and await Pilgrim's arrival. And the ship finally appears to haul them out of the surviving boat. But they are not safe because the storm worsens sending Ishmael and Baha up to furl the topgallant royal sails.
Turning North Captain Strunk tells Ishmael that Hobarton in Van Dieman's Land will be their next port of call.

The third quarter of the book provided character development as well as exposing secrets that had been well kept.
In Hobarton many of those secrets were revealed: Nesbitt's homosexual bent, Baha's attraction to Ishmael and his awkward but successful foray into coupling.
Meanwhile Captain Strunk thought about Ishmael, the Pequod's fate and the quest for Moby Dick.
Sailing northward Pilgrim endured being fog bound. That circumstance gave Strunk a chance to test the fog destroyer cannon. The cannon fired as designed but did not "destroy" the fog.
McDonough and Hanford find out that Nesbitt was the informer about their tardy return to the ship from their leave in Colombo.
Pilgrim hailed Samuel French, another whaler with castaways. Captain Strunk visited with the other captain and then the two ships parted company.
Sailing northward Pilgrim encountered a wrecked whale boat with one survivor. The boat was from Rachel the ship that rescued Ishmael when Pequod was sunk.
Nesbitt hatched a plot to avenge his keelhauling using Novack to invade the Orlop and assault Baha.
With the assault foiled, Captain Strunk admonished the crew and the mates to keep Baha safe. She was at a loss to understand why no punishment was given to Nesbitt and Novack.
Pilgrim lost the wind and the boats were launched to tow Pilgrim toward a sighed ship.'
Strunk bought 3 barrels of much needed water from the merchantman Winslow.
At last the wind returned and Pilgrim continued her journey northward.

Pilgrim spots a black whale and Strunk belays Ishmael's order to give chase. The crew feel they have been cheated out of a larger lay.
A storm bears down on Pilgrim. All sails are struck. The mizzen sail is blown out and Baha falls into the sea. Ishmael is thunderstruck at her loss, but she finds safety in the mizzen sail and is taken back aboard.
That she blows shouts from the crow's nest. It's Moby Dick bent on ramming Pilgrim. More sails are set and the ship escapes the same fate as Pequod. Moby Dick sounds and Pilgrim continues the search.
Pilgrim meets the spouter Junior, smaller with holds filled and about to return to port.
Junior's crew might be a threat to Baha, so Ishmael sends her to the captain's cabin.
Meanwhile Nesbitt plants one of Baha's menstrual rags on the Greek from Junior. He, in turn, plays a joke on another of Junior's crew.
Then the men of Junior's crew seek out Baha, but are foiled in their attempt. Hands bound with marline they return to Junior as Strunk returns to Pilgrim.
Hanford spots Moby Dick ahead of Pilgrim but the approaching storm makes Ishmael refuse Strunk;s order to lower and give chase.
The storm almost wrecks Pilgrim.
At last their prize is sighted again and the battle between men and whale is joined.
I'll leave the story here and hope that your excitement will lead you into the epic struggle Pilgrim's crew has with Moby Dick.
I also hope that after finishing the book you'll put your thoughts as Digiread's comments and a review on Amazon.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Brief Interlude

Decided I needed more time to work on the novel that's underway, so there was no reading for May. We'll start again in June with "Ishmael's Quest."

Thursday, May 3, 2018

April Digireads--"Filly"

What's in a name as the bard has said? To Filly her mother-given first name was unacceptable. Coincidentally Randy Stone had also shed his birth name--Randolph--and so they started an acquaintance that could become something more.
But Bill Hauser, Randy Stone's friend and fellow racer, had eyes on Filly and he was not out of the running. Which man will win Filly' heart?
Was it only the Cointreau that made Filly give into her carnal feelings? Or was it simply another part of the dreamy state she felt herself in?
One commonality between Filly and Angela, her good friend, was family, particularly mothers harping on either religion or having a family. Neither Filly nor Angela was particularly interested in either aspect fo their mother's conversations.
We've found a lot about Filly's character, likes and dislikes in the first quarter of the book. We are left wondering whether Bill Hauser will be Filly's long-term relationship or whether her attraction to Randy Stone will surface to cause Filly to make a difficult choice.

Filly was surprised and pleased with the unexpected phone call from Randy Stone. The call led to a motorcycle ride--her first--and a late lunch at a British style pub.
Having rekindled the acquaintance Filly was conflicted with the memory of the intimate but temporary relationship with Bill Hauser and her strong attraction to Randy Stone.
Filly and all the other FONE workers had no other thoughts than escape as the bullhorn blared throughout the office. Outside they wanted to know what the evacuation was all about. They soon found out when an explosion rocked the building scattering debris and dust throughout the area.
The explosion and chaos that ensued turned an ordinary work day into a confused but orderly end to what had been a humdrum eight hours at the office.
Having a bridal shower turned the stress of the explosion on its head for the women who'd gone through the bombing.
The party was a success and Kath, the guest of honor, needed a shopping bag for all the gifts.

A potential contretemps occurred when Bill Hauser and Randy Stone showed up at the pizza shop Angela and Filly were visiting.
As far as Filly could determine her intimacy with Hauser was still private. That result was exactly what Filly wanted since it meant she could pursue her interest in Randy.
Subsequently Randy appeared to become the pursuer as he invited Filly to a night out. A restaurant closed for renovation was no obstacle since another was close by.
After dinner Randy said that a high school friend was performing at one of the local night clubs. Filly listened to the laments that Randy's friend played and sang.
Mojitos provided Filly with a good counterbalance to the laments, but when Randy took her home she was more than disappointed that he didn't go up to her apartment; instead saying he had too much to do for the race the following night.
Filly's choice to go with Randy and Hauser to the races in San Jose could spell trouble. To find out whether it does we'll have to read the last quarter to the book.

The Challenge Zone research appears to be going smoothly. A minor bump happens when Hatch asks about a legislator's response and Filly has no answer because she wasn't given that as an assignment.
Meeting Hauser as she was leaving work was a surprise, followed by the shocking possibility of him getting a job in her building.
As a courtesy Filly invited Hauser into her apartment as they waited for Randy Stone.
The ride to San Jose could have been difficult for Filly but there were no overt comments from Hauser.
The races were enough for Filly to know she was comfortable with Randy's competitive streak.
After an after race pizza dinner and more Blue Moon beer the three of them drove to a nearby motel.
Hauser took a room to himself while Randy ushered Filly into a separate room.
The upshot of Filly's night with Randy gave her exactly what she wanted so the novel had a happy and successful ending.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Jabberwocky Murders: March 2018

Back in the day I spent a lot of time trying to get a plot to work. It was frustrating but when the track the story was going to take finally worked out a feeling of satisfaction set in.

The Jabberwocky Murders did not have that kind of difficulty with the plot. That result may have been a product of having much of the story worked out in a thought process and it helped that one of the main characters had already been established in “Murder at the Ritz Carlton.”

Once Josh Colum entered (and he was originally “Noah” but I kept referring to him as “Josh” so Josh he became) the essence of the plot became clear.

Having a chapter that pretty much intact written for an earlier work meant Josh had a ready-made deep set motivation for the plan he’d concocted.

With those two characters the plot appeared to lay itself out and I applied my ability to develop the characters as they rolled through the story.

In the first quarter of the book all of the above comes into play. The plot takes its decided dark tone when Jenny Mallory takes her parents’ dog Evie out for a nightly stroll. She’s a Sac State student with hopes of becoming a legislative aide once she graduates. But that is going to be forever a “could have been” with Josh carrying out his first murder.

Josh learns that the woman who rented the apartment on 25th is a detective, and one who is investigating the death of the woman he shot.

Slocum and Janet continue the investigation at the Med Center and Bing Maloney Golf Course. They are performing the essence of detective work trying to piece together the metaphorical puzzle.

Josh Colum is still trying to have his plan verified by the media carrying the story of the woman, Jennifer Catherine Mallory, he shot. Hearing her name gave Josh a decided feeling of loss rather than enhancing the elation of having been successful. His media surfing doesn’t show the importance of the real estate sign. And he gets a call that his Wednesday appointment is early.

As Slocum and Janet work the case Josh does a favor for Janine Hollowell that he muses might result in a sexual quid pro quo.

The media (newspaper and TV) carried Mallory’s murder for one news cycle and then it was on to the next bit of mayhem. This media normality did nothing to validate Josh in his own eyes.
The newspaper seemed to ease the tension Slocum and Janet felt from the Chief and the inhabitants of the Fab Forties. Even so, the pressure to find the killer and punish him or her was there and would only intensify.

What the detectives needed was something tangible to link the killer with the victim. As they continued the investigation Josh was about to chalk up victim number two.

The second victim shows Sacramento that a serial killer is at work. All the new killing brings to Slocum and Janet is more pressure until a witness calls in.

The witness only provides the detectives with a general description of a possible suspect but one specific he observed has the potential to ID the killer: a Raiders jacket.

The only real information that bore on the case was the witness telling them about the Raiders jacket. And someone leaked that intel to the media, which meant they were left with trying to find who in Sacramento had bought a Raiders jacket.

Josh is shaken by the media revealing that a witness had seen a Raiders jacket on the possible killer. He’d trashed the jacket that Sammie had given him, but if the police followed up she would point them to him. She had to be eliminated.

Did either Edie or Cheryl know that Sammie had given him the jacket? He had to find out.
Pete Slocum is removed from the case and that makes Janet the lead investigator.

Janet is put in a difficult position having to question her father’s friend and the man who interceded with the department to get her the job.

Janet’s query to Amazon comes through with Sammie shown as the buyer of the Raiders jacket.
With a backup Janet confronts Sammie to find that she bought the jacket for Josh.

After the satisfaction of Josh’s arrest, Janet has to look forward to another case.
Why did I end it when I did? Good question. Seemed like the logical place and if I’m so motivated gives me a place to start another Janet Slade novel.:)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Feb 2018, Jerrimund's Quest

Another quest. With two other kids and a Raggedy Andy doll. Andy needs real eyes, mouth and nose, so all the skills and magic of Ozimund, Frizzimund and Jerrimund will be called upon.
The first step for the group is the Patoopah train with our old friend The Little Man with the Big Voice. The train has stopped because the Dark Knight has stolen all the patoopah. Thomas thinks he might be able to find more.
But in Patoopah Land Sal tells the group that his silo is bare because the Dark Knight stole all his patoopah as well as the money he was going to use to buy seeds.
In the Land of the Knights, Dark Knight wants ransom money for the stolen patoopah.
Peter Pan is not much help in Animal Land.
In Diamond Land they meet the three bears again and get three diamonds to use to get Sal's patoopah seed money back.

Will the diamonds be enough to satisfy Dark Knight? Will he give Sal's money back? We hope these questions will be answered as we read on.
Once again getting diamonds to pay Dark Knight appears to be in jeopardy as all three are required as the group visits the Land of Treats and the Land of Machines.
Prince William helps by telling them they may be able to get something from the treasure in the Land of Dreams to pay Dark Knight for the patoopah seed money.
They see Peter Pan in the Land of Dreams but he can't remember where he put the treasure. Fuzziwig's name comes up as a possibility before the group has to leave the Land of Dreams.
Success with King Fuzziwig. They get three items to take to Dark Knight to get Sal's patoopah seed money.
What more lies in store for the intrepid travelers?

The travelers meet the lost boys and Peter Pan in Neverland. They tell Peter what they took from the treasure to pay Dark Knight for Sal's patoopah seed money.
Ozimund is very confident that with his usual fee he can fix Raggedy Andy's mouth. After a tour of Ozimundia the travelers have treats including Goldilocks' favorite angel food cake.
Frizzimund the Great has lost his yellow topaz gem. Before Raggedy Andy can have his nose changed the topaz has to be found and returned to Frizzimund.
In Neverland they find Peter Pan. He remembers that Redbeard the pirate has Frizzimund's topaz.
The Land of Dreams gives the group treats and a key. But they don't find Redbeard or Dark Knight. And where the key fits is a mystery.
There is no topaz in The Crystal Forest, but there is another key. The second key opens a door on the Patoopah Train.

Success at last. In Pirate Land Redbeard takes the diamond, emerald and black pearl from Thomas and the blue ribbon from Captain Hook. In return he gives Sal's patoopah seed money and the topaz to Thomas to put in his belly pack.
In Patoopah Land Thomas gives the money back to Sal. The kids have the topaz and now they need to return it to Frizzimund.
Returning the topaz to Frizzimund gives Raggedy Andy his real eyes . To change his nose the travelers will have to see Jerrimund.
Before he gets a real nose, they have to return to Ozimundia to get a real mouth for Raggedy Andy. When that happens he also gets a squeaky voice because Ozimund hasn't perfected that part yet.
An eye for a servant? Yes, that's what Jerrimund has. She also has a rhyme that she speaks to give Raggedy Andy a real nose so he can smell the roses. Jerrimund offers them rose tea but the eye is late and the travelers leave Jerrimundia. Raggedy Andy thanks Jerrimund for his nose.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Brain droppings: January Digireads

Do we write what we know? Or is it that we write from what we've read and further back what our parents have read? The origin of literary creativity is as much of a mystery as that of the universe. At least we can understand more of our background and how it relates to the thing we're trying to create compared to trying to understand how this immensity we're a part of relates to our quest for originality and completion.
"Character driven" is a more appropriate description than critics imagined. Why? Because once a character assumes a fictional life he or she does a few things: moves the author to work on the story, waits patiently for the author to bring the character back on the stage, and when the story is concluded teases the author with possibilities for another "drive."

While writing the current novel, characters from the Peter Dawes' stories clamored for another story in which they can assume a continued life. They are not articulate, nonetheless they are forceful in their demands. I suspect I'm not the only writer to have characters I've created urge the creative aspect to go in an unplanned direction. Much like a tune or a saying that plays in the caverns of the mind these diaphanous people continue the drumbeat for a sequel.

A sympathetic character overcomes various obstacles to achieve a desired end. Those eleven words succinctly describe the gist of a plot. However, a reprehensible character can also be used to wander the ups and downs in a story. Many readers do not achieve satisfaction with the trials and tribulations of an unsympathetic character, which results in the small number of plots developed in this manner.
Back in the day a researcher listed all the possible plots and the list was small. Whether a writer inadvertently duplicates one of those on the list can be conscious or not.
Jack London at one time said he would pay for a good plot. One wonders whether this was an apocryphal instance or wehter one of the preeminent writers of the early 20th Century ran out of ideas after The Call of the Wild, White Fang, etc.

Sometimes plots develop from the character involved in the story. This approach is usually avoided since at some point a deus ex machina must be employed to achieve the desired end.
In my current novel I decided to take the character driven approach. As the writing progressed the elements of the plot fell into place and by the time I had written 60K words the end seemed reasonable.

I may have to change my mind after a few more readings but so far the plot hangs together. You can look for The Jabberwocky Murders when it is published.

The story has to happen somewhere so the “where” will probably precede characters and plot. Conjoined to where will be “when.” Is the story historical, contemporary or futuristic?
With the where and when of the story set details of the setting to firmly place it in reality may come next. It’s much easier to create characters if they have a “real” place to occupy.
Perhaps the plot drives the where and when. For example a  sympathetic character overcomes vast odds to extricate himself from a situation in which he must choose life or death for a friend. This plot could be historical, contemporary or futuristic.

Choosing the voice of the story, i.e., first person or third will probably occur naturally although even with the story underway the temptation is always there to set a scene in a different voice. There are devices that can make such a shift work, but it’s usually better to stick with the voice that began the story.

After the grueling job of writing all the scenes, adding details to both setting and characters, and resolving the plot, the task of editing and finding how many pedestrian phrases were written will cause some anguish but also satisfaction as you replace those mundane descriptions with ones that have more sparkle.

Friday, January 5, 2018

"Frizzimund's Quest" Digireads for December 2017

Thomas, Goldilocks and White Bear meet Amber, Petie and Raggedy Ann. They begin a new series of adventures by landing on the patoopah train. But there is a problem.
The train can't run because it has no patoopah. All the supply was stolen by pirates. What a predicament for the Little Man with the Big Voice. Will Thomas and friends be able to get some patoopah for the train?
In the meantime the dining car with their favorite waiter, Paul has enough treats for all the adventurers. Even White Bear gets a treat to enjoy with his new mouth.
Entering Patoopah Land they meet Salamander who has some patoopah. He tells them that Redbeard and his pirates have taken all the money he was going to use to buy patoopah seeds.
In Pirate Land they meet Redbeard, the pirate who stole the patoopah from the Little Man with the Big Voice. Redbeard will not return the money until he gets something of equal value in return.
The adventurers get three diamonds from Mama Bear. One of the diamonds pays for Captain Hook's paddlewheel in the Land of Machines. Goldilocks still hasn't found any more angel food cake since having some on the dining car on the patoopah train.

The young adventurers travel from one land to another. In each they find information as to where they might be able to replace the diamonds they got from Mama Bear.
Geraldine Frog likes to be called "Queen" Geraldine, which Peter Pan sometimes forgets. She says there is no treasure in her land but Peter Pan says that he moved it and can't remember where to. In a flash of brilliance he says he might have put it in Fuzziwig's castle.
King Fuzziwig tells Thomas and his friends that they can have replacements for the diamonds out of Peter Pan's treasure since Pan said he would give them some if he could remember where he'd placed the treasure. They pick out a diamond, a ruby and a sapphire.
Will those jewels be acceptable to Redbeard? We'll have to read the last half of the book to find out.

Ozimund has a brother named Frizzimund and a sister named Jerrimund. Ozimund is a mouth fixer, Frizzimund fixes eyes and Jerrimund fixes noses. All of them require a fee before any fix is made.
The adventurers seek the amber that Redbeard stole from Frizzimund. He has to have it returned before he will give Raggedy Ann real eyes.
Peter Pan has become the caretaker of the amber but he can’t remember where he put it. Not in Neverland and not in the Land of Dreams. The group has to continue their quest to find Frizzimund’s amber.
We have to read the last quarter of the book to find out how the quest is resolved.

The adventurers transfer from home to all the lands instantly every time the signal of joining hands, a BOOM, and a bell ringing three times is heard.
This convention moves the quest along at a quick pace. Just fast enough so a child keeps his or her interest in each chapter.
With the exchange of jewels and Captain Hook's Blue Ribbon the questors return to Patoopah Land and return the seed money to Sal.
With the amber also returned by Redbeard, Amber and company return to Frizzimundia and get real eyes for Raggedy Ann.
Raggedy Ann still needs a real mouth. So they return to Ozimundia, tour Ozimund's white garden and get a real mouth for the doll.
With a real mouth and eyes for Raggedy Ann Frizzimund's Quest is finished.

Frizzimund's message to his brother Ozimund to see their sister Jerrimund might portend another quest. We'll have to see whether Jerrimund's Quest will set Thomas, Goldilocks and White Bear on another adventure.