Sometimes a Brit can remind you how safe and sane we are as Americans. Or at least, delude ourselves to be.
A standing routine of mine is Documentary Day. Usually a Sunday, if not dedicated to doing something away from the screen or requiring the brain (one in the same, right?) With March Madness ABSOLUTELY earning its name this year, I needed something to help me restore faith in my fellow countrymen, to see Americans as my compatriots again, and to do it in the most non-polarizing way possible.
My friends, Stephen Fry in America. Watch it. It’s on Netflix or elsewhere on the Interwebs and it’s magic. Yes, I did try to embed it and failed so I’d rather you just type-y type-y in the search engine…saves us both effort.
While it’s all from the perspective of a sensible, self-described neurotic, it’s a valid take on what people of other nationalities think of us; we, the insular, proud, and megalomaniac U S of A.
I had me a good round of laughs in a reclined state, and by the end of Season 1 I actually felt better about my national assignment and my chosen station in life. Spirits not quite restored, but yeah, feeling a bit more Mericuh! after it.
I found Season 1, Episode 4 hit some familiar notes in that a few of my novels are based on or about the places he happened to visit. So there’s synchronicity folded in too. Huh.
This is the un-fun part of authorship. The point right before publication, raking through each chapter one mo’ gen, making sure there’s no escaping extra spaces, or errant commas, or misspelled names. Yes, I’ve managed to misspell my own characters’ names in several places.
These are the tasks put upon me by my editing team. This dynamic duo (and thankfully, came as a two-fer) are cleaning through I Blew Up Juarez with katana-like precision. But like respectful editors, they let me have last glance and last say.
So yesterday I spent the better part of twelve hours adding literary putty to fill in cracks in the plot, confirmed changes by chapter, and committed to the spelling of Maclaggan as Maclaggan, not McLaggan, not MaClaggan, no, these fuckers are called Maclaggan!! And to prepare you for your reading engagement, it’s pronounced mack-lag-gun. You British Empire folk can throw in your customary lilt where it’s right for you, I ain’t stoppin’ ya.
I’ve hit Send on the processed file, and now it’s in the hands of The Dynamic Duo. I need to rest my eyeballs, so I’m spending the rest of the day putting together the world’s best stew for tomorrow’s get-together at the demigoddess’s house. I’ll be reading a chapter from the book, not any that are already posted. If you’re attending, awesome, if not, indulge in some escapism, courtesy of yo gurl.
When in a pinch, when you need someone who’s practiced in discretion, when you need a wingman, you call on Papi Chulo. Every unit’s got this guy; the Puerto Rican/Cuban/Mexican/Dominican who’s down for whatever! Johnny and Phoebe enlist Sgt. Papi Chulo in their antics:
Back in October, I was the featured presenter at Wordier Than Thou in Saint Petersburg. The chapters I read were those that immediately followed Johnny’s unintended, yet catastrophic, destruction of the city of Juarez. Hope you like curse words; there’s a lot of ’em. For contextual use, of course! Listen to my not-so-soothing voice as I read from my upcoming action fiction novel:
Just in time for the holidays! My gift to you, my sweet darling blog follower. I LOVE YOU!
My novel, I Blew Up Juarez, is still on track to be released end of February, which I am sure by title alone, you’re ready to pick it up and peel through it! This presentation was done in October for a local writer’s group in Saint Petersburg. The chapters I am reading in the video are the immediate events after Johnny Saucedo blows up Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. We meet Phoebe, her best friend since childhood, her husband Iwan, an Army Sergeant Major, and Mimi, a hapless college student who happens to be related to Johnny’s gun running partner.
So much going on in just 15 minutes! Are you ready to escape into the hard slap, fast moving story? Just hit Play:
Yesterday was a New Moon in Scorpio. You astrology enthusiasts know, the new moon signifies new beginnings, and the sign the moon phase occurs in determines the cosmic tone, if you will, for the cycle until the next moon.
For me, new moon in Scorpio is usually a headbanger. I tend to experience something visceral or spiritual at an extreme level. I thought the all-nighter was the visceral extreme, since I did so well through it and the next day I recovered well. But no, at 10pm last night, was ready to wind down, so I logged into The Red Channel, scrolled through my queue, a found a documentary titled:
Now this, I surmised, shall be interesting.
Boy, oh boy. Ohhhhh man, talk about a story. A chronicle of the life of Bobby, Dannis, and David Hackney, brothers who created a group called Death, a proto-punk band, during the 70s. Three Black American men in Detroit, Michigan creating a sound before its time. I can’t really do music critique on it, here’s the New York Times article referenced in the documentary.
The music is…PERFECT. But the story itself was what moved me. Bobby and Dannis Hackney spoke about David’s vision for their music, and the consequence David was to incur in order for the music to be heard. It wasn’t that the trials of getting record companies and radio stations to accept their music brought him down. It was the fact that no one could get past the name, Death. Obviously now, not an issue. It was a name, a concept, way before its time.
I love the part when Dannis and Bobby describe the day they came home to David’s announcement of the name. “The name is…DEATH.” And they reacted accordingly, “Oh mann…” But David said, the name had shock value. They wondered why? And David told them, “Because death is REAL.” The documentary then continues with playing an audio of David’s reverbed voice, “The ultimate trip, trip, trip…DEATH, death, death…”
I was floored. How is this cat in my head?? He saw death as I see death, not a finality, but a station, a spiritual temporary station, and you move on to the next station. David was about the Three – Mind, Body, Spirit as the components of life/death. Death, like Life, is to be celebrated. He had a positive view of death, just as I have a positive view.
I tell you, I was shook. And as the documentary continued and the story unfolded, and David’s death and how it impacted his brothers happened, I was a mess. Just bawling, crying my face off, I hadn’t cried like that at any point in 2013. The more the music played in the background, the more I related to the man on lead guitar.
I Blew Up Juarez. The title is deliberate shock value. The story is about family, particularly brotherly love, and the lamentations that come from losing someone who’s such a force in your life, who’s finality makes one question faith and humanity. Talk about the parallels the Universe provides. Proof we’re all one, we’re all experiencing the same events, while in the same plane of existence. And while I do adopt a fatalist view more often than not (it does help with the dark stories, after all) I am not as prophetic as David. David knew he needed to move on in order for Death to reach the masses, ‘for the whole world to see.’ I want to see I Blew Up Juarez get some audience, and I do desire publishing the rest of Johnny’s story, and I want to be in this plane of existence at least for these four novels. But my writing partner also knows, if I am not to continue on in this vessel while Johnny’s story exists, she’s put to task to make sure that shit happens. We’re not gonna have a Stieg Larsson happen to Johnny Saucedo. The story must live on.
Today I loaded Death’s album in my Slacker app and played the station while on the treadmill. Guys, I’m not a good runner. My blown out right hip and knee will validate. But I’m listening to Freakin’ Out, Politicians In My Eye, Keep On Knockin’, and I have no quit in me. I’m FLYING. Got back to the Treehouse, laid down 2,453 words for NaNo, and started visualizing the story map to fix the fishtail. Baby girl’s got a plan.
The challenge is to write 2k a day for NaNo, and post at least 15-30 mins worth of material to this blog. If you received my digest in your in box this morning, you will have noticed a series of posts that lasted the span of the previous night, starting at 8pm EST, ending 7am EST. So let me simultaneously pat myself on the back for staying on task, and apologize to you, dear follower, and hope you don’t abandon my craziness.
Although it’s in the title, ‘Madwoman.’ You knew what you were getting into.
Fell asleep by 7:30AM. Bobby woke me at 11:30. I walked him, tried to lay back down, but realized I was hungry. And out of food. So I trudged out the door and forced myself to get basics for the week, so that I can continue my self-torture/challenge of writing, blogging, and revising every day at least up to November 11th. That’s my goal: get everything pinched out in two weeks.
Because I’m INSANE.
I didn’t get to do any work on Momma’s Boy today, but I at least thought about it. 🙂 Although the support team at NaNoWriMo does say, if you need to take a day, take a day, just stay focused on that halo. Hope this one is sized to accommodate my bull horns this year.
Still worried about the revelation of the fishtail in I Blew Up Juarez. What’s a fishtail, Von? A fishtail is when your story goes in two (or more) directions to the end, opposite of what’s happening in the beginning and middle. Think of holding a live fish, and watching its body convulse and flip about. Nothing’s working in the same direction. The fish can’t get anywhere. Thus, the story doesn’t get anywhere. If you caught I Come From The Water, you’ll know I usually hit the pool to remedy my problems. But, cold fronts have moved into Florida over the weekend, leaving me to go run it out in the morning on the treadmill.
These are all good problems to have, though. I have the best NaNo team, my current writing partner Marie and my first writing partner, Spring. (If you can count multiple-page notes passed during class a writing partnership) So as long as my girls are at it, I’ll be at it too. Juarez, I know it’ll get figured out. I already have the treadmill playlist in my head. Open with Dropkick Murphys, then Marilyn Manson, segue to The Knife, go back to Flogging Molly, then, for grins Megadeth, come back with the Presets. Something will come out of that, I know it.
Three more minutes!
My sister informed me I will be contacted by the daughter of one of her friends regarding a recommendation to join a collegiate organization. It got me thinking to the days when I used to mentor and counsel women younger and older than me. I think about this book I’m writing, the book I’m publishing, this blog I’m managing, and I think about the women I received my empowerment from to get to this stage in life. Now, I don’t hand out recommendations all willy-nilly, I like to explore the character of a person, how they contribute to society now, and how her current commitments will affect her future endeavors. I’ll always encourage a person, especially college kids, they’re my preferred population, to dream big but be realistic. Have a vision, but have a sustainable, flexible plan. Shit, here I am typing to you what I need to be telling her! Silly me.
Ding! 30 minutes.
I’m gettin’ good at this shit.
Let me leave you with this little sliver of magic:
November snuck up on me waaay too quickly. I have contracts to administer by November 13. Which means, gotta pay people. Which means, this manuscript I’ve been pushing off needs speed revisioning. Barely raking through the rest of Act One. Of a three act book. Go me!
And then, of course, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo as I blogged about in “My 2013 NaNoWriMo Influences” (please check that out and LIKE it!)
So I’m pulling an all-nighter. Yup. Actually, not a bad idea, as I’m launching this blog with the desire for an international reach. So while the east coast of Merica is sleeping, I can hang out with my friends in the Eastern Hemisphere. Namaste! Hola! Hallo! Bonjour! G’day! That’s all I got for now.
Let’s use this 15 minute break to extrapolate. Contracts, why bring that up? This book is my first fiction publication, and I worry about integrity and solid delivery. So I’ve invested in a NEW editor who can work faster and ideally turn around a manuscript by the end of January. She’s very experienced in the literary world and very familiar with my writing style, which is a plus when you’re shopping for an editor. What happened to the original editor, you may ask. She’s still around, just wearing the Publisher hat. A separate editor makes for a smoother delivery schedule, trust.
Since we’re only a few months away, I have to consider artwork, the book cover and chapter inserts in particular. I’m paying respect to science fiction authors and comic book enthusiasts by going with a Manga-esque design. The artist commissioned to do this work is a female comic book artist. I’ve reviewed her portfolio and I’m pleased at how she captures women warriors without them looking so stereotypically disproportionate. Don’t get discouraged though. Johnny has huge boobs!
Why are you still working on the manuscript when you’re about to get edited? Fair question. I have produced so many drafts of Book Two my nose bleeds (not really) for every Save As… I administer. The storyline took a dynamic hop over the summer, and well, I haven’t done all the proper adjustments. So this all-nighter is a bit of compensation. Get the revisions in and done, structure the plot so it’s intelligible to the editor, but don’t add more than necessary. She’s gonna shave through the muck anyways. But the temptation is there to expand on Johnny’s journey. I have to remember, though, this book is Star Wars. The next one is Empire Strikes Back, it is worth holding back on some stories until Book 3.
How are you writing this and a novel for the contest? The good news is, I was smart enough to outline ahead of time with my writing partner exactly what I was going to develop for NaNoWriMo. I Blew Up Juarez is already fully written; I don’t necessarily have to think up a whole scenario or plot with that. Momma’s Boy is going well. I’m substituting my morning pages writing time for NaNo writing time, and am averaging 2000 words. That makes completion by the 30th very feasible.
I’ve constructively used my 15 minute break to post to my blog. Now to drink more coffee and get back to work! If you haven’t clicked on Follow by now, you’re just letting the terrorists win. Go click!
Von enjoys a day at the Dali Museum, and experiences a burst of synergy with her writing partner.
ArtsAlive sponsored Free Museum Day this past September 28th, and boy oh boy did we take advantage! Marie, my American English ambassador and co-collaborator onI Blew Up Juarez, had the great idea of visiting the Dali Museum, and dressing the part. I’m not big on getting fancy, but it was a gorgeous day, and Salvador Dali is one of my favorite artists, so in homage, I put the good foot forward.
A lovely, gauzy dress dotted with blue jasmine petals, symbolizing Dali’s favorite scent. The mixed warm colors of mauve and beige and salmon, a nod to his celebration of color. Dotted with strategically angled glitter, a jagged line of up and down points, much like Dali’s style of organizing his large canvases in triangle segments. To finish it off, colorful “hoop girl” earrings, a la the maiden represented in many of his 1940-50s era works. On my face, big green gadfly sunglasses.
Marie wore her own creation, an ankle length black skirt with a ruched black and white fishtail and complimentary blocked cutaway to the front. This reminded me of Dali’s surreal painting, Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire. Her ties around her neck and wrists were reminiscent of Dali’s cubist “Non-Art” piece of a woman bound to a cross. Marie’s signature piece was her wide straw hat with concentric, hypnotizing, black and white circles. Between the two of us, I think The Master would have felt complimented.
ArtsAlive knew this museum would be a draw to many Pinellas County residents, so they had segmented the courtyard by the time we arrived early morning. Our early bird effort got us within the first twenty people into the museum, so we enjoyed the movement in space, and really got to absorb the architecture, the galleries, and the ambiance before it got crowded.
As we strolled along, we stopped in front of The Horseman of the Apocalypse, a vibrant expressionist piece. I felt something visceral, unfamiliar, in the pit of my stomach, that grew around my heart and then the space between my ears. I was captured, nay, ensnared by this piece in a way that my passions could only convey. I felt I needed to comment, and as I did, Marie said, “I can’t believe you feel it too!” We looked at each other with excited relief in that, not only were we in the throes of synergy, but our shared question about I Blew Up Juarez was answered. She had a vision, and she immediately jotted notes. I became excited, watching her abuzz with creativity, feeling the level of excitement she was experiencing without having to say anything; it was real and tangible and it didn’t require any verbal exchange. To which, we figuratively patted each other’s backs in the thought of, damn, we do make a good creative team.