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.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

So You Want to Fix It--Digireads November read

Being a handyman or woman is a small business and requires keeping records of income and expenses. There are numerous ways to satisfy the IRS: Paper or software, the behemoth tax collector will accept both.
One complaint I listened to more often than not was that when a client called another handyman either the call wasn't returned or the Mr. (Ms, Mrs.) Fix-it never showed up. A great insight as to how to conduct my business: return calls and show up at the appointed time.
Another aspect of handymanning I enjoyed was the detective work involved in finding the cause got whatever had malfunctioned. Once the cause was discovered the fix became obvious.
I used a Toyota pickup to carry tools and materials (and a helper if necessary). Had I continued the business I probably would have opted for a delivery truck so I wouldn't have to move tools out of my garage for every call.
Another item that always came in handy (for the handyman) was a toolbox with wheels and various compartments. Having a wide selection of tools at a job site often meant I didn't have to run to Home Depot or Ace hardware to get what I needed.
As you can see from the first few chapters a handyman needs some preliminary research on the problem, the requisite tools and a good step-by-step solution to putting things right.

The first half of the book gave you a glimpse into the world of plumbers.
One caveat not mentioned: The water pressure in the supply line runs from 40 to 60 psi. What that means (as many TV commercials show) is that breaking any joint will immediately cause a stream of high pressure water to soak the nearby area. However, if you've turned off the water at the main valve (or downstream supply valves) this unwanted shower will be avoided.
Another part of a complete plumber's tool kit is a few pairs of disposable vinyl gloves. Most of the time you won't these, but when it comes to dealing with sink or sewer muck they will prevent you from either an infection (if you have an open cut 
or get a cut while working) or the usual "plumber's stain."
Water is such an integral part of life that having an uninterrupted supply gives handy men and women many occasions to repair the gap caused by a clog or a machine that has reached the end of a designed working life.
Next we'll investigate the mystery of alternating current and with great care demystify the ins and outs of electrical fixes.

In the third quarter of the book we've seen electrical work with the extremely important caution to turn off power before working on any circuit.
Woodshop work was investigated as was installing various wood projects. Having a variety of woodworking tools means you can bid jobs that would take those tools rather than simple handy toolbox selections.
We've also seen a customer that had a variety of jobs: mechanical, electrical and general maintenance. When a client states that he or usually she has a list you will find many of your skills will be tested as well as your stamina and endurance.
By now you have an established client list that has been the result of word-of-mouth connections. You might be thinking that such advertising is all you require. And, depending on the area you service, such referencing might suffice.
If work slows as it inevitably will, small ads in the local throw-away newspapers could bring in a few more customers. And putting your business cards or flyers on bulletin boards is another possibility.
Just about the time you think you're going to get a break another phone call takes your attention. That call makes thinking about advertising go into the put-on-hold bin. The final quarter of the book familiarizes you with both minor and major fence repair and rebuilding.
With all the skills you've acquired as well as a substantial client list you are feeling confident that you will be able to continue earning money as a handy person.
One referral leads to another and then you find that one client has enough work for you to remove the need to seek other clients.
Having a client such as Mr. Burnside is a real asset since he will do some of the legwork necessary to find items you will install.
In some ways working with a client like Burnside is almost like being an employee. You will have more freedom than an employee but you will still be held to the standards of the "boss."
I hope this collection of handywork will give you an insight into what's required to be a handy person. If you decide to give it a try I wish you the best of luck.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

"Book Blogs"-- October 2017

A disparate group of books fills the first quarter of "Book Blogs." Each provides a brief synopsis along with comments about the origin or the author or the setting.
Four of the books are novels: Adam Bede, Allan Quartermain, Beau Geste and Crime and Punishment. The novels were written in the late 19th and early 20th centuries . While reading these novels allowance must be made for the devices and style of the time in which they were written.
Contrasting with the novels the non-fiction books that make up the balance of the selections in the first quarter are written in a more contemporary style even though describing historical events. The books range from autobiographical (Big Russ and Me) to a duobiographical (Desert Queen) and include adventure, crime and music.
These blog pieces were fun to write after reading the books that were the subject of the subsequent blogs. So it's on to the second quarter of "Book Blogs."
A disparate group of books fills the first quarter of "Book Blogs." Each provides a brief synopsis along with comments about the origin or the author or the setting.
Four of the books are novels: Adam Bede, Allan Quartermain, Beau Geste and Crime and Punishment. The novels were written in the late 19th and early 20th centuries . While reading these novels allowance must be made for the devices and style of the time in which they were written.
Contrasting with the novels the non-fiction books that make up the balance of the selections in the first quarter are written in a more contemporary style even though describing historical events. The books range from autobiographical (Big Russ and Me) to a duobiographical (Desert Queen) and include adventure, crime and music.
These blog pieces were fun to write after reading the books that were the subject of the subsequent blogs. So it's on to the second quarter of "Book Blogs."

Dracula, Drood, Faceless Killers, Firewall, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Fordlandia, Freakonomics, Goodie's Ghost, Hitch 22, a memoir, H.M.S. Ulysses, If Chins Could Kill, In the Garden of Beasts, Jurassic Park, King Solomon's Mines, Known and Unknown, LA Confidential (The Novel), and Last Train to Paradise.
In the second quarter we looked at the seventeen books listed above, ranging from the horror classic Dracula to the historical account of railroad building and hurricane destruction in Last Train to Paradise.
Each book, novel, autobiography or history provides insight into the topics explored and ultimately into how we look at the world.
If you choose to read any of these books you will find the time spent to be productive, probably in many different ways.

Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills, Intellectual Morons: How Ideology makes smart people fall for stupid ideas, Nana, Nicholas Nickleby, Public Enemies, River of Doubt, Scorpion Down, She, Sherman: A Soldier's Life, Shiloh: a Field Guide, Taj Mahal, Tallgrass, The Big Short, The Brain, The Chili Queen and The Dogs of Riga.'
The above listed reviews of fiction and non-fiction provide both entertainment and enlightenment. From common criminals to an ex-US president, they all seek adventure and risk death to do so. We, however, are safe in our vicarious look into their lives.
These and other reviews in the last quarter of "Book Blogs" provide tidbits of information and could be analogous to book jacket flaps with the exception that they are not flagrant attempts to sell you a book and are all written by one writer.
Much like a compendium listing movie reviews this book can provide you with options in both fiction and non-fiction.
And now it's onto the final reviews in the last quarter of "Book Blogs."

The Fatal Shore, The Girl who kicked the Hornet's Nest, The Girl who played with Fire, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The God Delusion, The Irregulars, The man who loved China, The Moonstone, The Name of the Rose, The Persian Pickle Club, The Pillars of the Earth, The Soul of Battle, The White Lioness, The Yellow lighted Bookshop, The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, Through the Looking Glass, Thrown Them All Out, Treasure of Khan, Two Years Before the Mast, Wild Blue, and Wings Like Eagles.
Twenty-one books, ranging from History to intricately plotted novels. Some readers will gravitate to foreign authors like Stieg Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy) or Henning Mankell (Wallender series) or Umberto Eco (The Name of the Rose). Others will prefer home grown writers (Sandra Dallas or Clive Cussler). All will be rewarded with enjoyment or possibly enlightenment (The God Delusion, The Yellow Lighted Bookshop and Throw Them All Out).
As bibliophiles our journey through these reviews has shown us that the printed word is not only relevant to our lives but can enhance the quality and enjoyment of life's passage.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

September Digireads " Probe: The Movie"

In the first quarter of the book we see the alien probe and its cargo.
With seismic activity near or on the San Andreas fault the probe opens and the man we will know as "Dorn" emerges.
Dorn inhabits a temporary body and requires one that is more permanent. He takes over a truck driver's body and identity as he makes his way to LA proper.
At City Hall Dorn surprises a receptionist and a guard with his question about "The Authority."
After demonstrating that the guard's bullets have no effect, Dorn confronts a SWAT team with the same results.
Dorn and Mayor Biggs go to the City Council chambers but there is no one there.
Meanwhile LAPD has set up a command post outside of City Hall.
A crowd of anti-police demonstrators shout various anti-police epithets as the Chief and Assistant Chief try to get a handle on the situation.

In the second quarter we see the frustration of the mayor with the City Council.
Dorn destroys the Transcom building to demonstrate his power and the need for authority to be handed over to him.
Mayor Biggs, bedraggled and yet curious as to what the "rules" are that Dorn keeps referring to, still attempts to convene the City Council.
Meanwhile Motz and the other scientists think about the possibilities of a rupture in the San Andreas fault and whether the borehole has any cause and effect relationship to the measured tremors.
Dorn has caused consternation all the way to the governor in Sacramento. The governor activates the national guard to try to defeat Dorn.
All the action shifts from LA and the chaos there with the anti-police protesters and the police attempting to control the situation to the borehole. Dorn enters the hole to interface with the probe.
The scientists, national guard and various police units stand by waiting for Dorn to reappear.

After three quarters of the story, Dorn has not only alarmed all the political and police powers in LA but the governor has escalated the threat by calling out fighter jets armed with missiles.
As the contractor attempts to seal Dorn in the borehole with inflatable bladders topped with cement Dorn senses what is happening.
Breaking out of the borehole and destroying the bladder/cement dams Dorn commandeers a NG Hummvee and speeds away from the borehole.
Two F-16 fighter jets launch missiles at the Hummvee and destroy it.
An Abrams tank investigates the destroyed vehicle and one of the soldiers from the tank checks Dorn who comes to and commandeers the tank, continuing his drive to LA.
Mayor Biggs speaks with Dr. Motz about issuing an impending warning about a rupture on the San Andreas fault. He is not convinced an alert is necessary.
Dorn enters, scans Motz and says she will be his mate. That announcement provokes Motz who testily asks numerous questions of Dorn.

A desperate plan to deal with Dorn involves Dr. Motz as bait to lure Dorn away from LA.
Motz is appalled at the plan. She says they are going to murder Dorn. And she will have nothing to do with it.
Unfortunately Dr. Motz has been put into protective custody, which means she is essentially a prisoner.
Motz and the others arrive in Las Vegas and drive out to the nuclear test site.
The administrator of the site describes how they will ensure Motz's safety once Dorn has entered the site.
Dorn arrives in Las Vegas, sees that Motz has been there and is driven to the test site.
Dorn's super powers appear to be diminished because he's so far from the probe.
What will become of Dorn? Will Motz become his mate? Will the Nevada Test Site be able to withstand Dorn's weakened but still powerful energy beam?
The conclusion of the story is there and only awaits your interest in getting the answers to the questions.