Sunday, March 31, 2013

Finished Sometimes a Dragon.

I've finished the rewrite of SOMETIMES A DRAGON.

All the pieces are in place.  Everything I planned to put in -- more than I planned, actually.  I thought I'd need three new chapters, but ended up writing five more.  I probably cut 20 thousand words, and added 10 thousand words.

But for now, this is the book.  I want to read it over the next four days, smooth out the rough edges and inconsistencies.

I like it.  I like it more than any book I've written.  I like it so much, I'm going to set it aside and come back later in a few months and give it another look.  And if need be, I'll do it again and again.

It's structured ambitiously, I think.  Flashback chapters that are inserted according to theme and mood, rather than logic. In fact, the whole book is about theme and mood.

I've now got so much backstory that it's probably hopelessly confusing.  It isn't confusing to me -- hey,  I came up with it.  It's perfectly clear to me.  But I wonder if the flashbacks are too much, and if they are too much out of order.

There is almost enough material to put the flashbacks in sequential order.  It's something to contemplate during the layoff period.  It would probably require more plotting, and it would lose some of the thematic structure I'm trying for -- the idea of memory and loss.  It might be more readable, but it would lose some depth, I think.

But I wonder if it's a book that I'm always going to like more than other people are going to like it.

It's perfect for the internet, in a sense.  That is, it will have to be found and those who find it and stick with it are the people who probably should find it and stick with it.

It's the most ambitious book I've written.  I mean, I've tried for drama and for tragedy and for comedy and a love story and a straight ahead myth/fantasy story, with archetypes.  I've tried to fancy up the language, even put in a fair amount of poetry.  I've made the structure all over the place and I just hope the feeling and the themes and the characters carry people through.

But I started off years ago with the feeling that I wanted to write the book I wanted to write and screw whether anyone would ever like it.  So...I guess I still feel that way, after starting the rewrite with the intention of making is more accessible.

I don't know.   Maybe I'm just being self indulgent.

It's a book I'll put out someday.  And expect no one to read.  And still feel proud of it.

LATER:  I read the first 2/3rds of the book last night, and it worked!!!  Even the sappy chapters I was worried about worked, because they were interspersed with flashbacks.  The flashbacks worked, as well.

I found very few inconsistencies, and what I found I was able to fix easily.  I suspect this will be more of a problem in the last third of the book as the story narrows to a conclusion.  But so far, so good.

The only real concern was that the flashbacks are moving steadily toward the beginning of the story, while the story moves to the end -- so it is a little like they cancel each other out.  So I'm not sure what it does to the momentum.

But it didn't bother me -- just the fact the I read 133 pages in once sitting with no problems -- even though I've been working on the rewrite for a couple of months, is a good sign.

I was amazed it flowed so well -- because as I was rewriting it, I was doing it in parts and selecting where to put the flashbacks by feeling, so I expected it to be a little disjointed.  But don't think that happened at all.

In fact, I'm wondering if another rewrite will even be necessary.  I'm in no hurry, so I'll tinker with it, give it another read in a few months, but basically -- as I said before -- this is the book I wanted.

I was worried about whether I was wasting my time doing this -- but the end result fully justifies it.  It was the typing that was hard -- and I'll never have to do that again, thank god.

So there it is.  Yet another book.  Damn.


Read the last third of the book and it all works.  Amazingly.

I had thought it would need much more work, but I'm not sure that's true.  I mean, I still set it aside just so I can come back to it with some perspective, but really, I think it's ready now.

Might need another party to copyedit, but other than that...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

I think I'm beginning to think like a writer...

A horror publisher had "open" submissions, so on the spur of the moment, I sent him Death of an Immortal.

He wrote back:  "I read the first few chapters of your book and I really liked it. But..." "... I had a tough time selling Best New Vampire Tales, so I think Death of an Immortal would be a struggle. Sorry about that."

It's a rejection, but at least it's a personal rejection.

Vampires are passe, is the way I interpret that.

I think the first rejection a few months ago from an agent really hurt because it was so impersonal.  I was really doubting myself.  Had I completely lost my mojo?

I think Death of an Immortal is pretty good, actually.  But I haven't had enough people read it, frankly, to get much feedback.

Early feedback was stuff like "good job"  "way to go" -- which is pretty non-committal.  Sort of like saying,

"How did you like the book?"

"It was interesting..." (Interesting good?  Interesting bad?  What the fuck does that mean?)


Sliding scale, those are soft letdowns.  Saying you "like" something, probably means you could tolerate it.  Saying you "really like" something, probably means you liked it O.K.

So I've gotten that second response now from a person I didn't know -- but also people who read that sort of thing.  And both said they "really liked" it -- translation, they liked it O.K.

So I'm encouraged.

Hey, it doesn't take much.

I think, generally, I'm just more comfortable with the old fashioned publishing business.  I trust in third parties who don't know me to give me a fair hearing -- I've always done well in the past on that basis, when I gave them something worth reading.

So I have to trust that if I give them something worth reading, that I'll get a fair hearing -- probably fairer, actually, than people I know.  That's kind of the way it works, I think.  Too much baggage.

I have to be ready for rejections if I go that route -- form rejections.

I'm thankful that the internet is there to put my books on if all else fails.

But I have a weird faith I'm going to get published again.

Anyway, I'm going to send the same publisher "Nearly Human."  The book I've been struggling with.  The first book I tried to write when I came back to writing -- and which I love the idea of, but had trouble getting it right.

 The "High Concept" of the book is really top tier.  But my execution of the idea is in doubt.  Still, I've worked on it so much that I think it's time to expose it to the world and see what the world thinks.

I feel like I just need one step -- one small success -- which I can leverage into getting an agent.

I think I'm beginning to think like a writer.

Failed writer becomes cult leader!

Let this be a warning to all of you!

Until recently, I was watching the show, The Following.  But ultimately, it think it's an example of a story built on a premise that doesn't work.

I mean, really -- a cult leader sending his followers out to kill people?  That would never happen!

O.K..... Well, in this case it's more like proof that real life can be stranger than fiction.

For this show, I just didn't buy it.  These aren't mindless Manson zombies, but highly functioning, cunning, meticulous planners -- who outsmart the full F.B.I. at every turn.

They are followers of a failed writer, whose ideas about Gothic romance they are captivated by.  (Begs the question of -- if the writer's ideas are so powerful he can gather followers to kill for him -- why did his book fail?)  He sends them out to kill and, not so incidentally, to make Kevin Bacon's life as miserable as possible -- not sure which is more important to him, actually.

Problem is, as I see it, most romantics aren't psychopaths and most psychopaths aren't romantics.

So it is up to the show to try and prove the writer can be so seductive and charming and manipulative, that he can entrap not just one or two followers -- but dozens.  (Note to F.B.I. -- every follower so far visited him in prison.  Just saying...)

They've got a charismatic actor -- James Purefoy -- but they really don't convince me he's able to convert these followers.   (Especially through prison glass -- hey!  I think I'll follow this guy, who's serving multiple life sentences!  Okay, again a case of real life can be stranger than fiction.)

The show also has Kevin Bacon being Kevin Bacon -- which is always entertaining.

The show goes all in on the premise -- but I just couldn't quite suspend my disbelief.  And I'm a fantasy buff.  But I insist that there be internal consistency.  (I couldn't watch 24 for the same reasons...)

It shows the importance of having an initial premise that works.  If that doesn't happen, nothing you do -- good acting, plotting, camera work, etc. will save you.

I'll buy the most outlandish premise -- but you have to convince me, you have to make it work.



Terrill waited in the car outside the Hardaway residence.  A woman was cooking in the kitchen, an older man had returned home in the last half hour, and the there was a light on in a second story window.  Terrill saw the shadow of someone walking past the window.  They were all home.  What was keeping him rooted to his car seat?
He got out, slammed the door.  The neighborhood was quiet.  Everyone in their place.  Once he would have found it an ideal place to feed -- pick a house at random and slaughter the occupants.  It still amazed him that for hundreds of years he had never questioned it.  Humans were food, and vampires ruled the night.
A cat ran across the sidewalk in front of him, giving him a startled glance as if only seeing him at the last second.  Terrill could stand there, still and quiet, and most people would walk right by him without seeing him.   It had once been one of his favorite techniques -- let his meal come to him.
He took a deep breath.  Walked up the sidewalk, and the three concrete steps to the door.  Still he hesitated, almost turned around.
He was the murderer.  He was the cause of their grief.  He hadn't wanted to do it, he was ashamed, but nonetheless, he was the reason their daughter would never come home.  What right did he have to stand at their door, to enter their home, to talk to them, to offer them condolences?
The door opened before he could knock, and a young girl stood there staring at him.
"Can I help you?" she said.
She looked like Jamie, but then again, she didn't look like Jamie at all.  In fact, she looked like no one he'd ever seen since ancient days.  Her nose was too long, what once would have been described as a Roman nose.  Her eyes were wide set and large.  Her chin was slightly pointed, high cheekbones and wide tall forehead. Thick raven hair.
She looked like she'd come off a Greek urn, he thought.  Every little piece of her was a little off, but the whole was stunning.
"What's he want?" the old man's voice was gruff.  He appeared to be in his seventies, which meant he was already near sixty when he'd fathered this girl.  It was 6:00 in the evening, but Terrill could tell he was already drunk.  He pushed the girl out of the way.
"What do you want, buddy?"
Jamie and Sylvie's mother followed, dishrag in hand, looking as though she hadn't stopped crying in days.  It was hard to see either daughter in this beaten-down woman, who was in her mid-fifties, limp brown hair, and heavy jowl.
"Is this the home of Jamie Lee Howe?"
"Not anymore," the man muttered.  "The slut is dead."
"Howard!" the woman pleaded.  He turned and glared at her until she looked away.
"I'll take care of this, Mom," Sylvie said, and the old woman moved away, drifting over to the sink and picking up a dish, taking a few swipes and then not moving, staring out the window.
Sylvie pushed her way to the door again, and stood next to Terrill and waved him down the steps.
"We can talk out here," she said.  "Mom's in no shape to talk about Jamie, and Howard doesn't have anything to say."
"Fuck you," Howard said.  "I'm watching a show..." He stumbled away.
"He actually does care, in his own way," Sylvie said.  "He did everything he could to keep Jamie in town, but she didn't want to stay and she was old enough to make her own decisions."
She didn't say anything else, but stood staring at him frankly. 
"I..." again, his voice faltered.
"You knew her, didn't you?" she said.  "I can see it in your eyes.  You're sad."
"Yes..." he said.  Then realized he hadn't planned on admitting it.  "I mean, I met her a couple of times."
"Met her?"  From her tone, Terrill realized she knew what Jamie had been doing in Portland.
"For business.  She came to me for a life insurance policy.  I represent Prestigious Insurance."
"Oh," she was obviously disappointed.  Then she realized what he'd said.  "Insurance?"
"She wanted to make sure that you were provided for -- a college fund, as it happens."
"We've already got the five thousand from her savings account," the young girl said.  "It came in handy, we were late with the mortgage.  Howard lost his job a couple years ago and the unemployment checks have stopped coming.  His social security isn't enough."
"Well that's just it," Terrill said, more and more sure he was doing the right thing.  "This payment is contingent on your going to college.  It can't be used for anything else."
She didn't look happy or unhappy.  She just stared at the ground for a few moments.  "That's too bad -- because I'm not leaving Mom until she is in good shape.  Which may be never..."
"I'm sorry.  The terms are quite specific -- the money can only be accessed as long as you are in college."
She shrugged, and looked at him with a lopsided smile.  Her goofy demeanor and classic good looks were irresistible.  Jamie was right.  She needed to get out of this small town.
"You can't live their lives for them," he said.
"That's what Jamie always said.  And yet, that's exactly what she did for me, despite me telling her not to."
She would have had every right to ask him what business of it was of his, but instead she again got that curious look in her face.
"You knew her for more than business, didn't you?"
He didn't say anything, but the answer must have been written in his face.  She laughed, and it was as if she didn't have a care in the world.  A delighted laugh.
"I knew it!  You're just her type, all doomed and gloomy."
He tried to think of what to say.  ‘Yes, I was screwing your sister.  For money?’ That wouldn’t do.
"Don't worry.  I know what Jamie was doing -- but knowing her, she was trying to be more than just...a..."
"She was more," he said.  "To me."
"Yeah, that's Jamie.  Making every job the most important job in the world, whether it's babysitting or flipping hamburgers or being a...being a whore."
He stared at her wonderingly. 
"You're wondering how I can say that.  You're wondering why I'm not crying, why I can still laugh.  Well, Mister, someday I'll cry.  Maybe I'll never stop crying, but not now. "
"She talked about you," he said. 
"Oh, let me guess.  Her brainy sister?  Her amazing sister?  Well, Jamie always was a little starry eyed.  I'm not like that.   Jamie just got unlucky, that's all.  She met the wrong guy at the wrong time.  It happened, and now I have to take care of Mom.  And Howard, even Howard.  He isn't a bad guy, just sort of pathetic."
He could see she wasn't going to change her mind.   Time for a change of plans.  "She made me executor of the policy.  It says that you have to stay in school, but doesn't say where or for how long.  I'm sure we can find a way."
"You sure you can't just give me the money?"
If I have to, I will, Terrill thought.  But having gotten a good look at her parents, he suspected that Sylvie would end up seeing very little of it.
"Why don't we meet for lunch tomorrow," he said.
"O.K.  We can meet at Black Bear restaurant at 1:30.  That's my lunch break."
"I thought you were going to the community college?"
For the first time, she looked troubled.  It was as if the frown didn't fit her face, as if she was pressing the lines into her perfect skin.  The expression disappeared as quickly as it appeared.
"I had to drop out.  We can talk about that."
"Yes," he said.  "We will.  I can’t meet you until the evening, however.  How about after your shift?”
“O.K.  Come by at 5:00.”
He nodded.
She stuck her hand out.  "Thank you, Mr...?"
"Terrill," he said, amazed at the sound of his own name.  He hadn't used it in hundreds of years. 
He shook her hand.  It was warm and dry and a charge seemed to go up his arm.  She was looking at him with wide eyes. 
"Until tomorrow evening," he said, and walked away without another word, now certain he was doing the right thing.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Downtown Comings and Goings. 3/29/13.

Rather dramatic announcements of 15 new businesses downtown in the Bulletin.

Which is weird, because I wasn't seeing it.  Looking a little closer, I'd have to say there's little spin going on here.  Some of the businesses haven't arrived, as in they don't even have a name -- such as the "smoke shop." There's also an unnamed restaurant going into the Common Table space. I'm going to wait to list businesses that don't have names yet.  I will add both of these to the list when I have their names.

Others were announced quite a while ago, and were on my mid-January post. (Drake, Sweet Saigon, Brickhouse).

I've decided that the point of this list isn't to be breaking news, but a confirmed list of street level downtown businesses. It's my own definition of downtown and street level, admittedly.  Studio Shen and Revive Skin Services don't appear to be street level. If they are, I'll add them later.  On the other hand, I did list Bluebird Coffee Company, which is an inside business, because I've included these types of businesses before.

I suppose the differences is -- a coffee shop is what I call retail, whereas 'service businesses' inside of buildings don't do much for the retail atmosphere of downtown.

My list, but I'm trying to be consistent in an inconsistent world.

I've known about Soba going out for some time, but as long as they had a sign in the window saying they were going to reopen, I didn't feel like I could list them.  I also added Volt to the "goings" list.  Not to be negative, but it ought to be pointed out that in most cases, a new business means that someone else left.

So the number of businesses that are opening that are named and confirmed and new and street level is six -- which is still a significant number.


Bluebird Coffee Company, Franklin, 3/29/13.
Pure Kitchen, Franklin (Bond), 3/29/13
Jeff Murray Photography, Minnesota Ave., 3/29/13
Luvs Donuts, Minnesota Ave. 3/29/13
Hub Cyclery, Wall St. 3/29/13
Ju-bee-lee, Wall. St.  3/29/13.
Sweet Saigon, Wall St., 1/20/13.
Brickhouse, Oregon Ave., 1/20/13.
The Drake, Wall St. , 1/20/13
541 Threads, Minnesota Ave., 10/13/12.
O Mo Mo!  Bond Street, 10/3/12.
Crow's Feet Commons, Brooks Street, 9/21/12.
The Cozy Lamb, Minnesota Ave., 9/14/12.
Noi, Bond Street, 9/14/12.
Azillian Beads, Franklin Ave., 9/6/12.
Earth*Fire*Art, Oregon Av., 7/10/12.
Pastrami Deli, Franklin Av., 7/10/12.
Bend Your Imagination, Minnesota Av., 7/10/12.
Paul Scott Gallery), Brooks St., 7/10/12
Natural Edge Furniture, Bond St., 5/10/12
Hola!, Bond St., 3/3/12.
Amanda's, Franklin Ave., 2/24/12
Barrio, Minnesota Ave., 2/12/12.
Rescue Moderne, Harriman, 1/12/12.
Letzer's Deli, Franklin Ave. 2/12/12.
Navidi, Minnesota Ave., 2/9/12.
Mazza, Brooks St. , 2/9/12.
La Magie Bakery, Bond St., 1/6/12
Brother Jon's Ale House, Bond St., 12/10/11.
What Lola Wants, Wall St. , 12/2/11.
Jackalope Grill, 10/12/11.
Gypsy Soul, Wall St. 10/12/11.
Colour N' the City, Tin Pan Alley, 10/12/11.
Lotus Moon, Brooks St., 10/12/11.
The Lobby, Bond St. , 10/12/11.
Ruby, Minnesota Ave., 10, 12/11.
Kariella, Lava Road, 8/24, 11.
Plankers, Wall St., 7/11.
Faveur, Franklin, 7/11.
Dream Pebbles, Minnesota Ave., 6/15/11.
Bend Yogurt Factory, Franklin/Bond, 4/26/11.
High Desert Lotus, Bond St. , 4/4/11.
Tryst, Franklin Ave., 3/11/11. (Formerly Maryjanes, **Moved**).
D'Vine, Wall St. , 2/9/11.
Let it Ride!, Bond St., 1/29/11.
Gatsby's Brasserie Bar, Minnesota Ave., 1/8/11
Tres Jolie, Wall St., 12/20/10.
Caldera Grill, Bond St., 12/7/10
Bond Street Grill, 12/7/10.
Perspective(s), Minnesota Ave., 11/20/10
Toth Art Collective, Bond St. 11/20/10
Boken, Breezeway, 11/20/10
Dalia and Emilia, Wall St., 10/3/10.
Antiquarian Books, Bond St., 10/3/10.
Giddyup, Minnesota Ave., 10/3/10.
The Closet, Minnesota Ave., 8/11/10.
Showcase Hats, Oregon Ave., 8/11/10,
Red Chair Art Gallery, Oregon Ave. 7/13/10.
Earth Sense Herbs, Penny's Galleria, 7/12/10.
Mad Happy Lounge, Brooks St., 6/2910
Common Table, Oregon Ave. , 6/29/10.
Looney Bean Coffee, Brooks St. , 6/29/10.
Bourbon Street, Minnesota Ave., 6/22/10
Feather's Edge, Minnesota Ave., 6/22/10
The BLVD., Wall St. , 6/13/10.
Volt, Minnesota Ave. 6/1/10.
Tart, Minnesota Ave. , 5/13/10
Olivia Hunter, Wall St. 4/5/10.
Tres Chic, 4/5/10 (Moved to Minnesota Av.)
Blue Star Salon, Wall St. 4/1/10.
Lululemon, Bond St. 3/31/10.
Diana's Jewel Box, Minnesota Ave., 3/25/10.
Amalia's, Wall St. (Ciao Mambo space), 3/12/10
River Bend Fine Art, Bond St. (Kebanu space) 2/23/10
Federal Express, Oregon Ave. 2/1/10
***10 Below, Minnesota Ave. 1/10/10
Tew Boots Gallery, Bond St. 1/8/10.
Top Leaf Mate, 12/10/09
Laughing Girls Studio, Minnesota Ave. 12/7/09
Lemon Drop, 5 Minnesota Ave., 11/12/09
The Curiosity Shoppe, 25 N.W. Minnesota Ave, Suite #7. 11/5/09
Wabi Sabi 11/4/09 (**Moved, Wall St.**)
Frugal Boutique 11/4/09
5 Spice 10/22/09
Cowgirls Cash 10/17/09
***Haven Home 10/17/09
Dog Patch 10/17/09
The Good Drop 10/12/09
Lola's 9/23/09
**Volcano Wines 9/15/09
Singing Sparrow Flowers 8/16/09
Northwest Home Interiors 8/5/09
High Desert Frameworks 7/23/09 (*Moved to Oregon Ave. 4/5/10.)
Wall Street Gifts 7/--/09
Ina Louise 7/14/09
Bend Home Hardware (Homestyle Hardware?) 7/1/09
Altera Real Estate 6/9/09
Honey 6/7/09
Azura Studio 6/7/09
Mary Jane's 6/1/09
c.c.McKenzie 6/1/09
Velvet 5/28/09
Bella Moda 3/25/09
High Desert Gallery (Bend) 3/25/09
900 Wall
Great Outdoor Store
Luxe Home Interiors
Powell's Candy
Dudley's Used Books and Coffee
Game Domain
Subway Sandwiches
Bend Burger Company
Showcase Hats
Pita Pit
Happy Nails

(List begun, Fall, 2008.)


New York City Sub, Bond St. 3/29/13
Soba Asian Bistro, Bond St., 3/29/13
Volt Lighting, Wall St.  3/29/13.
Topolino, Wall Street, 1/20/13.
Cozy Lamb, Minnesota Ave., 1/20/13 (moved inside, Bond St.)
Amalia's, Wall Street, 1/5/13.
El Jimador, Wall Street, 9/1412.
The Closet, Minnesota Ave., 9/1/12
Common Table, Oregon Ave., 8/11/12.
Honey Threads, Minnesota Ave., 8/11/12.
Bella Moda, Wall St., 8/11/12.
Giddy Up, Minnesota Ave., 5/10/12
Pottery Lounge, Oregon Ave., 5/17/12.
Boondocks, Newport Ave., 3/27/12
Game Domain, Oregon Ave., 3/27/12.
Toth Gallery, Bond St., 3/27/12.
Letzer's Deli, Franklin Ave., 3/22/12.
Clutch, Minnesota Ave., 3/22/12. (Moving to Tres Jolie).
High Desert Gallery, Minnesota Ave., 3/22/12.
Tart, Bond St., 3/3/12.
El Caporal West, Franklin Ave., 2/24/12
Bo Restobar, Franklin Ave., 2/9/12.
The Lobby, Bond St. , 2/9/12.
Arts Central, Brooks St., 2/7/12.
Typhoon!, Bond St., 2/5/12.
Gatsby's, Minnesota Ave., 2/5/12
The Dog Patch, Minnesota Av. 1/9/12.
Bend Mapping, Bond St., 1/9/12.
Lotus Moon, Brooks St. 1/9/12 (Moving into Tres Jolie)
Bond Street Grill, Bond St., 11/20/12.
Mad Happy Lounge, Brooks St., 10/11.
Azu, Wall St., 10/25/11.
Showcase Hats, Oregon Av., 10/11.
Bourbon St., Minnesota Ave. 10/12/11.
Curiosity Shop, Minnesota Ave., 7/11
Luluemon, Bond St., 8/26, 11.
Shear Illusions, Franklin Ave., 7/11.
Crepe Place, Wall St., 7/11.
Pita Pit, Brooks St. , 6/28/11
Smith and Wade Salon, Minnesota, Av. , 6/3/11.
Perspectives, Minnesota Av., 6/1/11
River Bend Art Gallery, Bond St., 5/5/11.
Donner's Flowers, Wall St. 3/11/11. (**Moved out of downtown**)
Maryjanes, Wall St. , 3/11/11. (new name, Tryst, moved to Franklin.).
Di Lusso, Franklin/Bond, 2/9/11.
Earth Sense Herbs, Penny's Galleria, 1/2/11
Marz Bistro, Minnesota Av., 12/20/10.
The Decoy, Bond St., 12/7/10.
Giuseppe's, Bond St., 12/1/10.
Ina Louise, Minnesota Ave., 11/3/10.
Laughing Girl Studios, 10/21/10
Dolce Vita, Bond St, 10/21/10
Diana's Jewell Box, Minnesota Ave., 10/15/10.
Lola's, Breezeway, 10/8/10.
Oxygen Tattoo, Bond St., 10/3/10.
Great Outdoor Clothing, Wall St., 10/3/10.
Volcano Vineyards, Minnesota Ave., 10/3/10.
Subway Sandwiches, Bond St. 9/2/10.
Old Bend Distillery, Brooks St., 6/19/10.
Staccato, Minnesota Ave. 6/18/10.
Showcase Hats, Minnesota Ave., 6/1/10 (Moved to Oregon Ave., 8/10/11.)
Cork, Oregon Ave., 5/27/10.
Wall Street Gifts, 5/26/10
Microsphere, Wall St. , 5/17/10.
Singing Sparrow, Franklin and Bond, 5/15/10
28, Minnesota Ave. and Bond, 5/13/10.
Glass Symphony, Wall St., 3/25/10
Bend Home Hardware, Minnesota Ave, 2/25/10
Ciao Mambo, Wall St. 2/4/10
***Angel Kisses 1/25/10 (Have moved to 'Honey.')
Ivy Rose Manor 8/20/09
***Downtowner 8/18/09 (moving into the Summit location)
Chocolate e Gateaux 8/16/09
Finders Keepers 8/15/09
Colourstone 7/25/09
Periwinkle 6/--/09
***Tangerine 7/21/09 (Got word, they are moving across the street.)
Micheal Cassidy Gallery 6/15/09
St. Claire Coffee 6/15/09
Luxe Home Interiors 6/4/09
Treefort 5/8/09
Blue 5/2/09
***Volcano Tasting Room 4/28/09** Moved to Minnesota Ave.
Habit 4/16/09
Mountain Comfort 4/14/09
Tetherow Property 4/11/09
Blue Moon Marketplace 3/25/09
Plenty 3/25/09
Downtown Doggie 3/25/09
***King of Sole (became Mary Janes)**
Santee Alley
Bistro Corlise
Made in Hawaii
Stewart Weinmann (leather)
Kebanu Gallery
Pella Doors and Windows
Olive company
Pink Frog
Little Italy
***Pomegranate (downtown branch)**
Pronghorn Real Estate office.
Speedshop Deli
Paper Place
Bluefish Bistro

(List begun, Fall, 2008 )

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Six free days.

I've arranged for six straight free days to whip Sometimes a Dragon into shape.  Linda is out of town, all dental and otherwise appointments are done, I'm letting my guys take care of the Spring Break crowd at the store.  Close the curtains, lower the lights, and think and write and write and think.

So the danger is I'll dawdle too much.

At the same time, I'm afraid of putting too much pressure on myself.

The trick is to apply myself, but lightly.  I'm going to let the mornings go, drink coffee, browse the internet, read the paper, fix a lunch, etc.  Then I'll get dressed and sit down around 1:00 everyday and give myself over to it.

But without pushing too hard.  That is, keep my head into the book but not scare myself off.

I'm now seeing that I had a six month spurt of creativity that was probably unusual.  More or less three books were written, at least the first draft.  Rewrites were done on two other books.  Then I got caught up in the actual process of putting them online, and that kind of derailed me.

Then again, I'm not sure I could have kept up that pace forever.

So the plan now is to get a readable copy done of Sometimes a Dragon over the next six days, then set it aside.

Then start a new book.

For the first time, I'm not adverse to sequels.  Death of an Immortal has an obvious avenue for a sequel.  The Lore books are meant to be a trilogy.  Nearly Human was originally meant to be a series.  I think I'll probably eventually pursue all three, but also let myself write something else if that comes to me first.

Death of an Immortal came out of the blue, and more or less wrote itself, and I just went with it.  Same with Freedy Filkins.  So that isn't something I should ignore. If somethings tugs on my sleeve, I should follow it.

I'm thinking I probably needed a break from the creative flow -- give myself a chance to recharge.

I also don't want to dive into a new book without a little thought.  Sometimes a Dragon has taught me -- again -- as did Nearly Human -- that having a plan keeps me from writing myself into the proverbial corner, so the next step for Lore is to actually plan the world a little more, even do a little research.  Have an idea of where I'm going before I start.

Which is a switch in strategy dictated by experience.  I'm not as worried now that I'll do an outline and then not write the book.  But ... we'll see. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday wats.

Took the chapters 5 through 7 of Sometimes a Dragon to writer's group.  It was just three middle aged guys, which was a little embarrassing since I was reading a couple of sappy love story chapters.

Still I saw it as an opportunity to test the sappiness quotient.  Sure enough, it was a little much, especially the poetry,  but Ken had the suggestion that I counterpose the danger from the outside by making the viewpoint character show more of the contrast.  Keep the sappy, but surround it by the dangerous.

Ken, who I met at the store and who is helping me to improve the cover of Death of Immortal, said he 'liked it' -- and he seemed to mean it.  "It's the kind of thing I read," he said.  "It's as good as some of those other ebooks that are getting so much attention."

So that was encouraging.

Meanwhile, the cat Panga been meowing all morning as she has finally realized after 5 days that Linda isn't here.  I'm no substitute, obviously.  Don't hug right, don't brush right, don't prepare her food right.


Expecting a busy day at the store, what with Spring Break and three shipments arriving.  Just reminding myself to take it easy, that all that pressure to get the shipments out for sale is my own pressure and to step back whenever it gets to be too much.

Finished off the bad tooth stuff yesterday.  Took only half an hour to put in permanent filling.  Kept the cap -- which was the expensive part.  Didn't even need novacaine.  That's one of the more wonderful feelings in the world -- to think you have a couple hours of shots and drilling, and instead it all gets done in a flash.

I now have caps on all my back teeth except one -- which is broken and scheduled to be replaced next month.  At least I don't seem to get cavities anymore.  Knock wood.  All this comes from stress at the store -- grinding my teeth for a decade or so really did major damage.

At least I don't seem to be grinding anymore, thank god.

The downtown situation is a little strange.  If I was posting rumors, I could get my list updated, but I'm awaiting official confirmation of things.

For instance, my understanding is that Soba is gone and the place next door which is owned by the same family it taking over the space.  But there is a sign in the window that simply states its being renovated.

Also, though while the vacancy rate is low -- it doesn't account for the still impressive turnover.  Nor do I think the rent rates are significantly lower than the boom years.  My sense is that the rates maybe dropped something like 15% or 20%, while sales for many downtown stores probably dropped twice that much.  Sales have probably recovered about half that much, and rents have gone up at twice the rate as the landlords realized they could get it.

So, in terms of ratios, I believe we probably have it worse now than we did then.

No way to be sure.  But that's my feeling.  The building across from me has turned over again and again, and the landlords always seems to have someone waiting to take the space.  No reason to lower rent, I guess, unless you want stability.  I'm not sure all landlords care about that, as long as they're getting paid.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013



Vicky waited for the paperboy.  He was late as usual. 
She would pretend to be impatient, but secretly she was delighted.  The last time, she had seen how Mr. Horsham had looked her over, as if trying to see how she looked with her clothes off.  She had just been waiting for another excuse to be alone with him.
She read everything about him there was to be read, had followed him to nightclubs, and even snuck in a few times, watching from a distance as he handed out tip money like it was water.  He liked the girls, that's for certain.  Tall, willowy blondes.  Such as herself.  Well, such as herself after going to the salon every two weeks. 
She checked a hand mirror.  The Horsham estate had almost no mirrors -- actually none that she'd ever seen.  She had a few too many dark roots to be perfect, but not bad.  Blond and beautiful and young.
He was older than his official biography, she'd decided.  Not that he showed it.  No, he had one of those tall, lean bodies that never got flabby and dark lustrous hair that never greyed or grew thin.
But the news stories just went too far back for him to be only 40 years old or so. 
He had to be lonely, possibly even depressed.  He never got out of the house until after dark, slept all day.  It was time he had a woman take care of him full time.
The paperboy -- actually a middle-aged man -- finally showed up. 
 "The truck was late," he muttered, and she believed him because he'd obviously been running, sweat dripping off his fat face.
"It best not happen again if you want your bonus," she snapped.  Mr. Horsham paid bonuses that were bigger than his wages, if you pleased him.  She planned to please him very much indeed.
He wasn't up when she got to the kitchen.  His meal was laid out, but the light under the bedroom door was still dark.  She looked around at the curtains.  Wouldn't it be nice if they were open when he got up, catching the last vestiges of the day?  She went to the window, but she couldn't see anything that would open them.  They seemed almost permanently attached.  How strange.
"What are you doing?" The voice was guttural, unlike the smooth tone she was used to hearing from Mr. Horsham.
He was in the shadows, wearing a bathrobe.  He seemed to have erection.  She flushed.  She thought she was prepared for anything, but now that the moment had come, she felt uncertain.  His silhouette wasn't quite right, as if he was wearing something on his face, something that protruded.
Nevertheless, she pirouetted prettily, a move she'd practiced a hundred times in the mirror at home.  She had a great body, and she knew it.
"You have the perfect body."
She couldn't believe he said it.  She'd dreamed of him saying that, but not like this. 
"Why thank you, sir.  It is at your service."  There.  She said it.  A little more bluntly and crudely than she'd planned, but then again she hadn't expected her boss to be already aroused when she said it.
He stepped into the light.  He was wearing a mask.  A fright mask of some kind.  Not funny at all.  He seemed to be running toward her, why would he be doing that?  She tried to plaster a smile on her face, opened her arms.
As he got to within a few feet, she saw he wasn't wearing a mask.  She couldn't move.  She couldn't scream.  She slammed against the dining table, and fell to the floor.
Then he was on top of her, ripping her clothes off.  Violating her.  She had dreamed of this, of being ravished.  But there was nothing sexy about it.  He was grunting or something, nuzzling her neck.   Biting her.  She tried to push him off.  She'd changed her mind.  She didn't want sex after all.  She didn't want to be here.  She'd sue him, instead.
But she could barely raise her arms.  He continued to bite her, and she felt liquid flowing down her neck and chest.  Had they spilled the orange juice?  He was sloppy, disgusting. 
He reared up as he came, and she saw his face one last time.  The face of a monster leering down on her.  He cupped her breast, and leaned over and took a bite out of it.  The pain was somewhere in the distance, happening in another time and place, to someone else. 
The light dimmed, and she could no longer see him, only feel him -- eating, eating.

She had the perfect body.  Just the right proportions of meat and fat.  He tried to hire his servants that way, figuring it never hurt to have a walking pantry full of meat for emergencies.  She had no family, few friends.  Otherwise, she wouldn't be working for him.
When he was finished, he took what was left of her and stuffed her down the special disposal he'd had installed in his kitchen. 
He'd warned her.  She'd been skulking about for months, even stalking him on his nightly rounds.  She'd almost been his meal several times, but he preferred not to kill anyone who could be connected to him, whenever possible.
But this had been necessary.  She had broken one too many rules of the house.  She'd dared to research his past.  It was only a matter of time before he disposed of her, one way or the other.  This had been nice.  It was a little early, only a few days since returning from Scotland, but sometimes he needed a little booster.
It wouldn't cause any problems.  It had been years since he'd eaten an employee.  Didn't want to do too much of that, they tended to notice.  But no one would doubt he had fired Vicky -- and no one would miss her; she had been a little bitch to everyone around her.
He turned on the laptop, washing down the taste of her with orange juice.  A red flag immediately popped up.  He read it and picked up his cellphone.
"Sanders.  Get Twilight ready for a trip to America.  We'll stop in New York tomorrow, and fly on to the west coast the next day.  That's right.  No, not California.  Portland, Oregon.”

Less than an hour later, he settled back in his seat, the plane's blinds permanently shuttered since a jet plane could fly from darkness to light in minutes.  At long last, a hint of Terrill's location.  Nothing more than a hint, but it was more than he'd found in decades.
It didn't matter how long it took, Terrill would pay for what he’d done.

"They are food, Horsham.  Nothing else.  Don't forget it."
They had waylaid a stagecoach, taking the money.  That's all that would've happened if one of the men hadn't gotten foolish and taken a shot at them.  The bullet hit Terrill in the shoulder, and they were both fell upon the occupants of the coach in seconds.  Ripping them to shreds.  It was a snack, nothing more, both of them having fed the night before.
One of the humans was a little girl, and Horsham hesitated -- just a second -- remembering his own daughter at that age.  Terrill tore into her, and she was dead in seconds. By the time he was done with her, his bullet wound was completely healed.
"Don't you remember being human at all?"  It was possible that Terrill didn't remember, since he was many hundreds of years older.   Since the disappearance of their Maker, Michael, he was perhaps the oldest vampire on earth.
"I remember hating myself and everyone around me.  I remember being beaten, and working from dawn until dusk, going to bed hungry, whipped when I didn't work hard enough.  I remember going back and tearing the overseer's head off, but not before I had taken my time eating just enough of him to keep him alive.  I remember never having to answer to another being again."
"Even Michael?"
Terrill laughed.  He never seemed to have any doubts.  He reveled in his existence, did as he pleased, but had an eerie sense of how far to push it.   Michael the Maker had advised to Horsham to follow Terrill.
"The bastard is a survivor, I'll give him that," Terrill said, was strangely subdued. 
Michael had been quiet for years now, eating only when he needed to, the rest of the time holed up in his library reading book after book about human philosophy and religion.  It was strangely disturbing to Horsham.  To all vampires.  What was he doing?  Why was he acting this way?
When Michael had simply disappeared one day, no one had been surprised.  Perhaps he'd just grown weary, had walked out to greet the day's dawning.  Or perhaps he had gone to ground, only to emerge centuries or millenniums later.  He'd done it before.
Michael had been a kind of Mentor to other vampires. 
Terrill felt no such obligation.  He led by example, and it was a bad example for most vampires who followed his aggressiveness without his uncanny sense of self-preservation. 
"The fewer vampires, the less they notice us.  The less they notice us, the better," Terrill said, when Horsham realized he was now the third oldest -- second oldest? -- vampire.  Horsham almost never felt fear, but when his traveling companion (he wouldn't say friend) said this, he felt a tinge of trepidation.  Not only wasn't Terrill following the example of Michael by helping his kind, he was working actively for their doom.
Horsham almost broke off from Terrill at that moment. 
He would always regret that he hadn’t.

The private jet landed in New York and refueled.   Horsham lost about four hours of night, which was too bad.   They landed in Portland five hours later, losing another couple of hours of night.  It was mid-evening, time enough to get a late meal, but not do any business.
He booked a room at the Benson after midnight, and then went on the prowl, getting a sense of the town.  He got back before dawn, and slept the day until 3:00 p.m.  It was a dark day, drizzling, so he bundled up and ventured out.
He got to the Portland police station just as the day shift was ending.
Detective Brosterhouse was getting ready to go home.
"Please, Detective.  I flew all the way from London just to talk to you."
"What's your interest in the case?" the Detective had already taken off his coat and sat back down at his desk.  
"I've been following similar cases in England.  I wanted to follow up, see if it matched the details."
"What do you want to know?" 
There was a skeptical look in the human's eyes.  Horsham realized he hadn't thought it through sufficiently. He'd expected a bored civil servant, going through the motions of solving the murder of a prostitute.  It was obvious that this Detective Brosterhouse was fully engaged.  Horsham had given him a false name, a Mr. Harkins, Private Investigator, and showed him the false I.D. in case anything went wrong.  But it wouldn't take long for a real detective to discover who had arrived in Portland from London on this day.
"I'd like the see the crime scene first, if I may..." 
Brosterhouse shrugged.  "Sure.  Room 221 at the Travelin' Inn.  Costs 35.00 bucks a night, but watch out for the bedbugs.  They bite."
"Could I perhaps entice you to lead me through it?  Everything you've found?"
"We've found almost nothing.  The only thing interesting about this case is how much interest there is in it.  Normally, the murder of the prostitute only grieves the family, and half the time not even them.  First that cop from Bend, and now you.  So what is it about this case that interests you?"
"Cop from Bend?"
"The victim was an old girlfriend of his..." Brosterhouse said.  "If Carlan hadn't most likely been in Bend when the murder occurred, I'd have bet anything it was him.  I still think it might have been."
Bend was a nearby town, apparently.  Horsham had a strange inkling that there was a connection.  The mighty Terrill, terror of Europe for centuries, vicious and remorseless had stopped killing many years before.  He'd disappeared.
Why?  What had changed?   Horsham remembered how Michael had been at the end, seeming almost regretful.  But most of all, he remembered how he himself had once begun to doubt the killing of humans.  How Mary had changed him, until...
Horsham was aware of the irony.  Once, Terrill has been a vampire’s vampire, and it was Horsham who had doubts, who had regrets.  Once, it was Terrill who killed indiscriminately, and cared for no one and nothing, and Horsham who looked for villains, and who had cared for the innocent and the weak.
With one act, Terrill had changed Horsham forever.  Without Mary, Horsham had lost all interest in humans.   It was perhaps ironic that Terrill had changed, that they had both changed – but it didn’t matter.  Terrill must die.  Nobody, human or vampire, would stand in the way of this end.

So now, unexpectedly, Terrill had fed again.   If it was true that Terrill had somehow grown a conscience, what would he do? 
Horsham remembered his own response when the human he loved was murdered.  Suddenly, he was certain what Terrill would do and where he would go.
"The girl was from Bend?"
"Newly arrived in the big city.  A lamb to slaughter.'
"Let me buy you dinner, Detective.  Tell me what you know."
Brosterhouse sat behind his desk like a statue.  Massive, ponderous.  He nodded his head once.  "It couldn't hurt.  This is about as cold a case as it could be..."
The policeman took him to a steak house, where Horsham picked at an overcooked hamburger while Brosterhouse gave him all the information they had.  Which wasn't much.  Which wasn't really anything at all.  Except for one detail.
"She was untouched, except for the puncture wound?"
"Yeah, it was weird.  Someone laid her out and wrapped her up like he gave a damn.  Drained her of blood and then treated her gently.  Sicko, weirdos, creeps.  There are all kinds, all kinds."
The detective didn't have much more information than that.  It didn't matter.  That wasn't the real reason Horsham had enticed him out of the police station.  Horsham didn't leave witnesses.  Where he went was nobody's business -- especially a cop who seemed a little too curious.
They headed back to Brosterhouse's car, and as they passed an alley, Horsham grabbed the huge policeman like he was a little child and threw him into the filth and darkness of the alley.  The cop was florescent to Horsham's eyes.  He saw the big man trying to see in the darkness, drawing his gun quicker than Horsham expected, firing a shot and getting lucky, hitting Horsham right between the eyes.
Horsham stumbled away, running further into the alley.  He could take any wound, as long as he fed quickly, but a shot to his head was enough to weaken him, and he ran rather than continue the fight.  He'd come back when it was all over.
A couple more shots came his way, but both missed him.
At the end of the alley, he found a homeless man leaning against the bricks and Horsham drank his blood in seconds.  He kept going, not stopping to feed further.  Staying in darkness, using every instinct developed in centuries of hunting, he made his way back to his motel room without anyone seeing his blood-splattered clothing and smeared face.  He fell into bed, still weak.  The bullet had fallen out in the nightmarish journey, but the wound to his head still made him dizzy.  He'd need a few hours to recover.
After that, he'd get out of town.  The detective would be looking for him.  The whole Portland police department would be looking for him.  
But when Horsham didn't want to be found, he was nearly impossible to track.  He'd find out where Bend was, and hope Brosterhouse didn't remember his curious questions about the town.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Why bother?

I have a closed-in backyard.  I have high ambitions for my garden.  I try to improve it just a little each year, but it's slow going.  But eventually, I may have both the design and the plants in  place, all flourishing, all looking good.

And no one will ever know except me and my family and a few friends.

Because it's a closed-in backyard.  And yet, I don't doubt I want to do it.  I don't doubt that it has value.  Every spring I get excited about improving the garden, and it fades during the spring and summer, becomes hard work, so that by fall I'm always asking why I bother? 

Writing books is a lot like this to me.  It's possible no one will ever see what I do.  But I still get excited at the beginning of every project, which slowly wears off as the problems mount, until I ask myself why I bother?

Writing and gardening are long-term projects.  They can seem overwhelming and insurmountable sometimes.  Sometimes they are a hard slog.  But they have their little joys interspersed.

I also see the store as a parallel.  The big difference -- which I noted right away after buying the store 29  years ago -- is that whatever creative decisions I make have an immediate impact.

Then again, the overall impact -- the making of a living wage -- was a long-term project that seemed overwhelming and insurmountable and often I asked myself why I bother?

All these doubts have come to the fore with Sometimes a Dragon.  I ask myself whether I should try to improve the book or could improve the book.  It seems overwhelming and insurmountable.  Why bother?

Like the store -- like the garden -- I just have to do the work, and hope the rest follows.  Just keep writing and trying to improve and look for opportunities.  For instance, a tweet mentioned that a horror publisher was taking open submissions, so I sent them Death of an Immortal.  Why not?
I don't expect them to take it, but it doesn't hurt to try.

I just have to keep working on the garden every year -- I'm probably a decade away from having something that might be worth bragging about. 

I just have to keep working on my books -- and I may be a decade away from having something worth bragging about.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Twice as good as before / Halfway to being good.

I finished up typing up the digital copy of Sometimes a Dragon.  It's about 20% shorter than before.

It's also a bit of a shambles.

Again, when I ask myself if it's any good, I get the feeling that it might be really bad.  But I still want to finish it.  It's bad for all the right reasons -- ambition, stretching my abilities, trying to give myself permission to write what I want to write, giving it over completely to my subconscious.

So I still want to save it.

First thing I'm going to do is take a week or two to get it in 'readable' form.  That is, if I got hit by a bus in the near future, the story could still be put online in a form that I could stand behind.

But I also think this book can be improved, probably by a lot.

As I've said before --  It's twice as good as before, and halfway to being good.

Coming up with the premise after the conclusion.

I was never completely satisfied with the original premise of Sometimes a Dragon.  The premise was just good enough to let me tell my little love story adventure with the theme of writing as magic (never spelled out.)

"Just good enough" isn't good enough, obviously.

What I've come to understand in my latter career is that the original premise dictates the motivations of the characters and the motivations dictates the plot.

Linda pretty much thrashed the original premise when she rewrote the first third of the book and I went along with it.  Now, in the final third of the book, the premise is completely wrong.  Now the motivations of the characters are muddy and contradictory.

So I'm in weird position of having to go back and create a premise that accounts for everything in the book.

It's a bit like coming to a conclusion, and then going back and finding evidence to back it up.

At least with writing, the conclusion is intuitive so it is O.K. to find the reasons to back that up -- as long as it makes sense.

So I've been struggling with this for days, and then today -- in the shower -- the solution suddenly came to me.

This is some kind of miracle.  I'm always amazed when it happens.  Then again, I'd tried a couple of dozen premises on for size before this one actually fit.

So now, in the next rewrite, I'll be able to work out all the kinks in the plot and the character motivations and make it all one piece.

I actually think the restraints of having to match the premise to existing material sparks some creativity.  It will add another layer of meaning to the story.  Not so much that I need to explain everything, but that I understand what is happening in my own story.

I think Nearly Human could use a little of too.  Some mulling over what would make the premises stronger and the motivations clearer.

I'm pretty sure other writers don't have this much difficulty with things. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Easy to be a writer nowadays...

I can give you one good reason for the explosion of ebooks in the world -- the difficulty of writing a book is only a fraction of what it used to be.

It was really, really hard to write a book in the old days.  Typing alone was a huge pain.  I mean, misspell a word and you had to go back and whiteout the error and retype.  A very time consuming process.

Typing my book into digital format has been an excruciating, slow and onerous process.

It was so much worse when it was a typewriter.  (Heck, paper and copying costs alone could make you a starving writer.)

You thought long and hard before you started rewriting a manuscript.  Sure, you could mark it up and cut it up physically, but eventually you had to type a readable version, and in so doing, you were more or less saying "This is it."

Or not.  If not, you had yet another typing job to do.

So I truly believe that many people, while maybe inclined to write a book, found the physical process too demanding.  Especially since the monetary rewards, then and now, were not great.  Especially with the uncertainty that anyone would ever like it or even read it.

I'm not saying this is a good or bad thing -- just that it explains why there are so many more books now.

There are more writers because it's easier to be a writer.



The Hardaway residence was in the trendy west side of Bend, only a block from the Deschutes River.  The house was small, probably owned by the family for generations.  Updated bungalows surrounded it, but it still possessed its original particleboard siding, warped by the infrequent rains.
Terrill had driven by it the night before.  A big screen T.V. seeming to take up half the little living room, a couple of old couches, and an older couple ignoring each other at the far ends.  It was nearly midnight, too late to knock on the door. No sign of the daughter. 
He felt restless.  He drove out east of town, feeling vulnerable from the lack of cover, trying to get used to the openness of the terrain in this part of the country.  He got back to the motel room, as dawn was already breaking, and the sunlight ready to stab down on him.
It was mid-October, but the sun was shining brightly all day.  Terrill chose the queen size bed farthest from the windows and tried to get some sleep.  He'd be up at the break of dusk -- his internal clock would wake him automatically; trained by centuries of needing to feed at first possible moment.
He turned to his side, remembering Jamie.

They were naked on top of the bed, one of her legs and one of her arms draped over him. 
She was languorous.  Something about her appealed to him.  He decided to please her, to make her want it.  In return, she was confiding in him, and for some reason he was willing to listen to this young girl who had almost no experience of the real world.  She had a kind of wisdom, though.  An inner perspective that came from some deep well of goodness.
Jamie talked glowingly about Bend, and especially her younger sister.
"Sylvie will get the chances I didn't," she said.  "She's incredibly bright -- math and science and all that stuff that I never could understand.  She just needs a break."
"That's why you're here?" he asked.  ‘That's why you do what you do?’ He didn't ask.
For the first time, she seemed a little defensive.  Before, she had seemed if not happy in her work, at least content...if not content, resigned.
"I've already put five thousand bucks into her college fund.  That never would've happened working at Burger King."
She was so young, so unspoiled.  But he'd sensed right away that she was a wide-eyed girl in the big city. That's what had attracted him to her.  
"It's not too late for you, surely."
"Yes," she said.  "It is."
Terrill knew America was full of such young people, in deadend existences.  Most weren't aware of it, but for some reason, Jamie had already scoped out the future and decided it was hopeless.  He wanted to object and to tell her anything was possible.  But he knew that she hadn't even finished high school, that she had no skills and had to rely on her beauty.  Even that was beginning to wear off, though she was in her early twenties.  Where could she go?  What could she do?
Her grammar and diction were adequate -- nothing more.  Her clothing sense was that of a girl playing at being a sophisticated woman.  She would be limited even in her chosen profession; at best, forced to pick up strange men in bars.  At worst...he shuddered.
Once he had fed on such dregs of civilization, knowing they wouldn't be missed.  But that way of existence was behind him now.  Maybe he could help this innocent young girl, make up for some of his past.  It would be a small step, but in an immortal 'life', such small steps could add up.  Already, he had quietly used his wealth to help other humans in return for small kindnesses. 
"Go home, get married, have a life," he said.
She shook her head.  "I attract the wrong kind of guy.  Always have.  I'm not going to be like my mother, marrying five times, each guy worse than the last..."  
Terrill said nothing.  If she survived her dangerous and unhealthy profession, she would probably end up exactly like her mother -- marrying the men who paid attention to her, not questioning their motives, excusing their bad behavior, secretly believing she didn't deserve any better.
"Sylvie doesn't have to be like that," Jamie continued, as if reading his mind.    "She can go to college, get a good job.  Wait for the right man to come along."
He must have been frowning, because she playfully patted him.  "I'm sorry.  You don't need to hear all this.   But if you ever met Sylvie, you'd know why I talk this way...”
He didn't answer.  It was the rare human who could pull themselves out of their designated fate.  But something about this young woman's faith in her even younger sister was inspiring.  He'd help make it happen, he decided.  At least give them the chance. 
 He lay in bed with this young woman in his arms, the warmth of her body seeming to wake memories long forgotten.  Of life, of love and family and everyday existence.  It was strangely comforting.  For once, his hunger left him.  Or so he thought.

The windows glowed from sunlight one moment, and then darkened in the next.  Terrill awoke instantly at the cusp, as the ambient light shifted.
He got up, surrounded by empty mirrors.  If ever he was tempted to forget his nature, he need only rent a motel room, for which mirrors served as decor.  An empty room surrounded him, and empty mirrors surrounded it, as if he really didn't exist.  He only existed in the darkness and the shadows, which meant he was invisible, night or day.
In truth, he was unlikely to ever forget that.  He woke every evening hungry for blood.  For many decades he had been prudent enough to wake alone.  The one time he had forgotten -- the one time he had felt comfortable enough to let the human stay with him -- had ended badly.
Now this strange trip to a part of the country he’d never intended to visit, this crazy idea of approaching strangers, to risk his life.  All for a girl he'd barely known, with whom he'd planned a simple sex-for-money transaction.
But she had not treated him that way.  For the first time in a long time, she'd treated him like a human.
He dressed in a conservative suit, something that wouldn't stand out too much in a small town where most people dressed informally.  It was the best he could do.  He'd never owned a flannel shirt that he could remember, never even tried on a pair of jeans.  In part, he dressed formally because old fashioned classic clothing offered him more cover -- hats, gloves, vests, coats, long sleeved shirts and trousers, all gave him a small advantage over light.
It was also a remnant of his long existence.  Clothing styles came and went -- and he didn't even try to keep up with them.
He stuck his hand in his pocket and felt a burning pain in his hand.  He cried out, and withdrew the stinging object.  He dropped the crucifix out of his hand, but held onto the silver chain, which hurt him, but didn't burn like the cross.
He stared at it curiously.  He'd always been confused why crosses had this effect.  He had no opinion about religion.  He didn't believe in an afterlife -- other than the type he was experiencing.  It was all mumbo jumbo to him.  Why should a cross, or Holy Water, or silver or any other of the many folk wards have any effect on him at all?
Why question it?  Why were any of these superstitious talismans any less likely than the fact of his own existence?
He touched the crucifix again, and though it hurt, he found that he could stand the pain.  It burned a few centimeters of the surface of his skin, but went no further.
Without thinking he swung the chain over his head.  The cross bounced off his chest and then settled and he staggered and cried out.  The silver chain cut into the back of his neck, and he had the image of his head detaching, and bursting into flames. He reached up, and found the chain digging into the surface of his skin, but lodging there.
The cross burned into his chest and stuck, his skin fusing with it.  It continued to ache, but the sharp pain subsided.  He could stand it.  He removed the chain, because the wounds it was inflicting were visible.   The crucifix remained fused to the skin of his chest.
He'd once fed upon a priest, who when the outer layers of clothing were removed, had been wearing a hairshirt.  The mortal's skin had been mottled and covered with rashes.  His back flayed by self-flagellation.  As Terrill remembered it, the priest hadn't been a righteous man, but a vicious schemer who used the Inquisition for his own benefit.  So it had surprised Terrill to see that the man apparently had a religious side.
Or perhaps, sadomasochistic side, since the sadism was more than manifested by his official duties -- a torturer who tortured himself. 
Terrill winced as he put on his shirt.  He didn't ask himself why he left the cross burning into his chest. 

He drove to the Hardaway house the minute it became fully dark.  He'd probably catch them at dinner, but so be it.  It was important that they all be home.  
He still wasn't sure what he would say.  Perhaps nothing.  Perhaps he'd hand over the check and walk away.  That's what he should do.  Anything else wasn't safe, either for him or for them.
But as he stood at the doorway, he knew he wouldn't leave without talking to Sylvie.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bing myself.

O.K.  I admit it.  Sometimes I Google myself.

So I had the thought this morning to Bing myself instead.  And up popped a site in England of a guy listing his 5 Star  books, and all three of mine were on the front page.  And his comment on Icetowers was:  "I bought this when I was seven years old and didn't read it until I was thirty and I loved it."

It made my morning.  I was needing something like that.

Every once in a while this happens.  A good review, someone getting slightly excited to meet me because they had read my book.  (The opposite happens too -- bad reviews, people who read books and shrug.)

I've come full circle on my books.  At first I was sky high, then reality kicked in, then I felt like nobody had read the damn things, then I slowly came to realize that what I'd accomplished was luckier and harder than I thought, then to slowly watch as they filtered into the internet world, and finally -- having seen how other have done and are doing -- realizing my books did pretty well, considering.

It's harder today, probably.  But I'm encouraged enough to keep trying.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Liquidations tell the story.

 I go to book liquidation sites on a regular basis.  It really tells the story of book publishing.

I've mentioned before that having an ebook isn't like being a drop in the bucket -- it's more like a drop in an ocean, a vast drowning ocean.  But slow books aren't all that different -- it's just a matter of degree.  Nothing shows this better than book liquidations.

Now, most books have only a short window to sell anyway.  A year from now, even the best-sellers at the feeding trough at Costco will be brought into our used bookstore, the Bookmark, and left in piles.

Most books don't even get that far.

What's interesting about the liquidation sites is the number of titles that are being dumped.  I've noticed two types in particular that are eye-opening.

1.)  No name books by bestselling authors.  These are books that were written either before or after a big book by an author.  You'd think that once an author has hit the top of the bestseller lists that they'd be set.  Yet there are hundreds of titles you haven't heard of by authors you have heard of.

2.) Types of books are overproduced.  What I notice most are young adult books.  These seem to have great covers, neat titles, interesting premises.  And they go nowhere.  Sure, many of them are obviously trying to ride the coattails of a previous young adult bestseller.

Your wizardy kids with glasses.

Purple and black covers, like Twilight.

Dystopian universes like Hunger Games.

And so on.  But there are hundreds and hundreds of them.  I'd be willing to bet at least some of them were at least as good as the above titles -- maybe better.  But we'll never know. Who can read them all?

Had a long talk with a customer yesterday about social networking my books.

I admit, my social networking skills are inadequate.

Finally, I blurted -- "Hey, I couldn't be a standup comedian, either -- no matter how I tried, or how often, or who I listened to.  It ain't in me."

So there it is, "It ain't in me."

I'll just keep plugging away and looking for opportunities that I'm comfortable with.  So be it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I just HAVE to write a fantasy trilogy.

If you have a world that feels good to you, then that's the world you should write.  It's more important than that the plot works, or the characters are consistent, or the themes make sense, or the writing is any good.

The 'feel good' is what keeps you in that world, makes you want to make that world come alive -- so all the rest will follow.

I think I finally know what I'm trying to do with Sometimes a Dragon.  I've discovered the themes, I've streamlined the plot, I have more of an idea of the backstory, I know who the characters are.

It's a mess, but I like this world.  So I'm willing to keep going back.

At this point, I'm hoping that I'm in more of the incremental improvement phase.  I don't mean that to sound trivial, because incremental improvements really add up, as long as you keep at it.

This whole typing the book into digital has streamlined the story, made it clearer to me.  There may be major changes yet to make, but I do have an overall sense of what I'm trying to do now.

It's been work -- still is work, because I have a third of the book still to type -- but I feel like this is a book worth saving.  It's been my favorite book all along.

I have no idea if it works.  I've lost sight of that.

I just know I like this world and these characters, so I want to keep dabbling with it until I get it right.

But I do think, when I've got this version down, I'm going to quit working on it for awhile and move on to other things.

The second book of the Lore series is calling me.

My trilogy.  I just have to have a fantasy trilogy.  It's just something I have to do.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013



"Officer Carlan," Brosterhouse's voice boomed across the lobby.  He accented "Officer" as if to emphasize the distinction between a homicide detective and a lowly patrolman.
Obviously, the Portland detective had uncovered the restraining order.
“You left Bend at 6:00 A.M.?”
"Check with my Sergeant.  But, yeah.”
Brosterhouse was carrying a Manila file, and now as they stood in the lobby with everyone looking on, he opened it.  It was filled with copies of the ongoing dispute between him and Jamie.
"Can't we take this somewhere private?" Carlan said, his voice low and even.
Brosterhouse ignored him; he pulled one of the pages out of the file.  "These letters make for interesting reading.  Especially this one -- and I quote:  "If I should be found dead, it will be Richard Carlan who killed me."
"That's bullshit," Carlan said, his face growing red as everyone in the lobby, civilian and cop looked at him.  "We just had a misunderstanding.  We were working it out."
"So she ran to Portland and became a prostitute because you were working it out?"
"She was hysterical.  Crazy.  I was on my way here to pick her up."
Brosterhouse stared at him with an expression Carlan recognized.  It was the hardnosed skepticism that cops automatically turned on anyone they considered guilty.
"If that's true, I could've arrested you.  The restraining order is pretty clear.”
Carlan had always wondered what he would do if he was accused of a crime he didn't commit.  Would he immediately clam up?  Call a lawyer?  The rational and experienced cop inside him knew without a doubt that was the best thing to do.  But he fell back on the same protestations he'd heard a thousand times, from guilty and innocent alike.
"I didn't do it.  She was dead already."
"Your alibi is shaky.  We know you were in Bend the night before, but that gave you plenty of time to drive over.”
"But I loved her!"  God, how pathetic that sounded.  How guilty!  They always said that, murderers who stabbed the 'one they loved' a hundred times, who slashed and slashed until the 'one they loved' was obliterated.
"You are no longer allowed anywhere near this case, Carlan.  Go back to Bend.  We'll contact you."
"But I might be able to help!"  Being shut out of the case was an even bigger fear than being suspected.  He needed completion.  Jamie had died before he could talk some sense into her, before she could remove the restraining order and those damning letters.  He had an image of her, on her knees, while he shoved the letters down her throat.  Damn her.  Why did she have to die and leave him to deal with this shit?
From now on, they would always look at him sideways, even in Bend where they knew him.  He'd pass in the hallway and there would be whispers, and laughter, and shame.  Jamie had done this to him, and now he couldn't change it.  He was angry with her, rightfully so, but even more aggravating was that his anger had no outlet.  Unless he turned it on the murderer, the bastard who had taken her away before he could get to her and change her mind.
Brosterhouse leaned into him.  He was huge, probably twice Carlan's weight, though Carlan was just a little below average in size.  "If you were a Portland cop, I'd have your badge.  We don't look the other way here, like they do in Bend.  That small town bullshit doesn't wash here.  Get out of town before I throw you in jail for even thinking about breaking the restraining order."
Carlan felt a sudden calm.  He was a cop.  He knew the law.  He wouldn't be bullied like the poor saps he arrested everyday who didn't understand their rights.  He stared Brosterhouse in the eye.
"I didn't do it.  Fuck you."
He walked away, feeling like he had regained a little of his pride.  He knew other cops in Portland, cops who would be willing to help.  Brosterhouse was wrong -- the "bullshit" wasn't confined to small towns, it was everywhere, big cities and small, national or international or tiny hamlets.   Bastard wanted to pretend the systems of favors and the protection of your brothers didn't apply to Portland?  Who did he think he was talking to?

Turned out, Brosterhouse was almost right.  Carlan called three of his 'buddies' on the Portland police force and got turned down by all of them.  The first two simply hung up, the third said, "I never much liked you, Carlan."
Time to pack up and go home?  Use his contacts back in Bend?
There was one more guy he could try, but he hesitated.  It was his emergency escape valve, the guy he planned to turn to when all else failed. 
"Hey, Funkadelic!"
"What do you want, Carlan,” John Funk's voice was so cold, Carlan almost backed off.
"I need a favor."
"I still have it, Funker.  I still have the evidence...statute of limitations on manslaughter is the same as murder.  Hell, they might just charge you with murder.  After all the only witness who could testify it was a crime of passion is me..."  He started singing:  "Who's got the Funk?  Bop. bop. bop.  I got the Funk...Who's go the Funk? Bop, Bop..."
"Shut up," his former partner said.  "I'm thinking about turning myself in.  I never did like the way that went down.  I didn't mean to kill him."
Carlan felt the fish slipping off the hook.  "I know that!  If it ever comes down, I could totally testify to that.  The guy deserved it -- raping a five-year old girl.  Hell, if you hadn't killed him, I probably would have!"
There was a long silence.  A sigh.  "What do you want, Carlan?"
"I need the evidence on a current case.  A girl found dead this morning in a motel room on the east side.  Name of Jamie Lee Howe."
"Who's the lead?"
"Guy named Brosterhouse."
Another long silence.  "Maybe I should just turn myself in now," John Funk said.  "Get it over with."
"No, no.  Don't do anything that will get you in trouble. know, help me out."
"All right.  This one time.  But don't ever ask me to help you again, Carlan.  I'll fucking turn myself in."
"I promise," Carlan said.  Well, maybe he would, maybe he wouldn't.  But Carlan certainly intended to test his former partner's resolve if he ever needed him again.  
"Remember, you asshole.  If I go down, you go down for withholding evidence."
"Sure, sure."  Not the way Carlan had it planned but if it made Funk feel secure, than so be it.
"I'll call you back,” Funk said, and hung up.
Carlan stayed in Portland for another day, hanging out near the phone, watching Judge Judy and the other judges all day.  Law and Order marathons.  He had enough time to think, to wonder why he was trying so hard?  Jamie was gone.  Nothing he could do about it.  
Truth was, he wasn't as crushed by it as he thought he would be.  Still...he hated that he hadn't been able to change her mind.  He'd been thinking about her for so long that something else needed to take her place.  Revenge fit quite nicely.
The Portland police weren't moving very fast.  Prostitute killings were notoriously difficult to solve.  Stranger on stranger.  If the killer used a condom and was careful, he could almost always get away with it unless they found him weaving down the road with a body in the back of the car.
It was going to be up to him, and not the self-righteous Brosterhouse, to solve this case.
"What do you care?" Funk asked, that evening.  "From the files, you were on the verge of killing her yourself."
"I loved her."
"You don't love anyone.  I remember how you treated women, Carlan."
"Yeah, but I never killed anyone, Funky.  Remember that."
"Only because you've been lucky."  There was a rustle of papers over the line.  "The DNA tests came back early.  Kind of weird.  They say, not only can't they identify the perpetrator, they're not sure it's even human.  Probably contaminated."
The two puncture wounds in Jamie's neck passed through his mind, but he dismissed the wild speculation instantly.  Humans killed humans.  Always had, always will.
Only one day and the case was already going cold.  Carlan could sense the Portland police were on the verge of giving up, putting it on the back burner.   As a last resort, he asked for traffic citations in the surrounding area on the night of the murder.  Even if it was the way they had caught the Son of Sam, most detectives considered it a Hail Mary pass, too time-consuming with too little reward to pursue in most cases.
Carlan took the time, spending most of the night and early morning going through it, and just as he was about to give up, he came across it.  A "Warning" for parking in a no parking zone on the morning after the murder.   A "well-dressed" man in a late model Cadillac Escalade, sleeping off a binge in the backseat.  He rang up Funk and had him plug the license plate number into the database, and it came back immediately as being registered at a motel on the night after the murder in a motel in Bend.  By the name of Jonathan Evers.
In Bend.  That was too much of a coincidence, Carlan thought.  The Portland cops probably wrote it off, if they even bothered to check.  But as a resident of Bend, Carlan knew how much someone had to go out of his or her way to reach Bend.  It really wasn't on the road to anywhere important.  It was mostly a destination.  
Somehow, the owner of this SUV, this Jonathon Evers, had begun the morning a block from the scene of a murder and ended up the following evening in the hometown of the murder victim.  
Carlan hurriedly packed up to go home.  It was three o’clock in the morning.  He’d have to convince the motel not to charge him for the night, but flashing a badge usually did the trick.
One good thing had come out of the waiting.  He'd been thinking about Jamie and her family.  His mind kept returning to Jamie's younger sister, Sylvie.  When Carlan had first started dating Jamie, the girl was only a teenager -- now she was legal.  Twenty-one or twenty-two years old, something like that.
Sylvie was an even more beautiful woman than Jamie, with the same kind of purity that had drawn Carlan to Jamie.  More purity, actually, since she was that much younger and less experienced.  Jamie had been soiled by the time Carlan got to her -- she'd lied to him, and it was only after slapping her in the face a few times for her lies, that she told him the truth.  She hadn't been a virgin for years.
Carlan had been willing to forgive her, if she hadn't run off.  But inside, he had recoiled. 
The more he thought about Sylvie, the more he was certain he was that Jamie's death had kept him from making a big mistake.  The younger girl was so much more appealing.  
He'd solve this case, and present it to her.  She'd be grateful, he was sure. She wouldn't be like Jamie, who hadn’t known when she had it good.  Sylvie was the right one all along.