- Blood test this morning. The tech couldn’t find a vein. Ended up sticking both arms looking for blood. Might have been less painful if she’d bit my neck.
- Congratulations to my Thomas-Jacob Publishing colleague Sharon Heath (The Fleur Trilogy) on the release of her new novel Chasing Eve, “a funny, sad, hair-raising adventure into the underbelly of the City of Angels, where society’s invisible people make a difference to themselves and to others, and where love sometimes actually saves the day.”
I usually write fiction in third person restricted. Among other things, that means that basically the entire novel is shown via the point of view of the protagonist. If you use that POV, you know there are dozens of ways of showing the protagonist’s attitude without saying “he thought” or “she thought.” Now that I’ve chosen to write the work in progress with an omniscient narrator POV without showing what anyone (mostly) is thinking, I keep having to delete things I’d normally write. Even something so mundane as Luckily the barking dog finally shut up is out of bounds because somebody has to be thinking that; I’m not going to be an old-fashioned author who intrudes into his stories by commenting on things as they happen. Tentatively, the book is called Dark Arrows.
- Yes, we will be watching Star Trek: Picard starting tonight on CBS All Access. The next-generation series with Patrick Stewart was, I think, the best of the Star Trek programs, so it will be nice to see him again in this ten-episode series. I read that CBS has already ordered more episodes, so perhaps we’ll have at least two seasons to look forward to.
- My blood test results show that the forty days of radiation therapy probably got rid of the prostate cancer. Even though the radiation oncology department thinks “that’s that,” the urology department thinks it’s safe for me to continue the hormone therapy for two years as long as I can dolerate the shots. I said, “Tolerate the shots? Does that mean they don’t kill me.” The answer was, “If you get bad hot flashes, we’ll stop them.” Oh.
A note from your sponsor (AKA, me).
Short Story Excerpts
“Shock Treatment” in “Stories that Need to Be Told”
“They drove him westward away from Tallahassee’s safe hills, westward through the panhandle counties where King Cotton once reigned, westward through pine flatwoods where wiregrass and fire sustained the world, through Quincy where Coca Cola money brought prosperity one hundred years ago, through Chattahoochee where a psychiatric hospital of some controversy and the Apalachicola River provided conflicting approaches of respite to the world’s cares, through Marianna where both Florida’s Caverns and the now-shuttered reform school were out of sight and out of mind, and thence straight on to the uninspiring Georgian plantation house where Mistress Harkness died of melancholia waiting for her husband to return from the Civil War.”
“The Lady of the Blue Hour” in “Widely Scattered Ghosts”
“On the band bus ride home, the stunning, first chair flute player Melinda Wallace sat beside him. She had no clue how he felt about her, not that he’d said anything. The empty aisle seat next to a clarinet was, he guessed, preferable to sitting in the back with the band’s borderline criminal element of raucous drums and tarnished brass. Melinda smelled like wildflowers and her unruly light brown hair smelled like the wind. When the band played ‘The Stars and Stripes’ Forever’ in concert and Melinda stood up into the light for her piccolo solo—the sweetest banshee cries the world has ever known—her blue eyes were frozen into ice for thirty-two measures of leaps and trills, while her hair could not be restrained.”
Special Investigative Reporter
Jock poured a fist full of Scotch into an empty coffee mug. That’s when Chief Kruller opened the front door and stepped into the living room without knocking. Fortunately, he wasn’t leading a SWAT team or holding a warrant. He did have a 9 x 12’ mailing envelope in his hand and a smile on his face that was wide enough to display most of his cavities.
“Sorry to bust in on you like this, Jock, but your doorbell isn’t working,” said Kruller, slipping into the best chair in the room. He favored himself with a deep pull on the Scotch bottle.
“The bell usually works when somebody on the porch pushes the button.”
“Good point,” said the chief. “Here, take a look at this morning’s crime scene photograph.”
“Oh, this makes my day,” said Jock. He set down the mug of Scotch to keep from spilling it all over the boss man who, in more detail than anyone really wanted, was handcuffed spread eagle to Bambi’s bed wearing a pink thong. Jock did a quick re-write of his thoughts to clarify that one Marcus Cash was wearing the thong and that, other than the fact Bambi was standing in the foreground wearing a Cat Woman outfit, he had no proof it was actually her bed.
“She lost the key,” said Kruller. “Marcus probably swallowed the damn thing.”
“Momentarily, but no longer, the swamp was quiet before the voices of the birds returned and spoke of secret things in the cone-laden Bald Cypress and plum laden Ogeechee Tupelo branches beneath clouds carrying late afternoon storms. Spanish moss on the larger limbs fluttered like waking storm flags. Sheltered from the wind, scattered white and maroon dropwort flowers—Willie called it “cowbane”—rocked gently in their cradles of low scrubs and grasses.
“I knew from my dream travels that two swamps existed together, one that stopped short of the Apalachicola River and one that lived and breathed westward past night and death until it touched the boundary of the afterlife that Eulalie called “the Pearly Gates.” I didn’t think my conjured woman had crossed the great river.
“The gasoline-tainted water holding the trucks was foul, and that meant searching it quickly in spite the murky sediments Hoskins stirred up in his frantic thrashing about. I did not find Eulalie there. I followed the current into large mats of duckweed where progress was slower. By the time the rains came and chased me back to the road, I had found no conjure woman or gator bait traces there.
“When the swamp grew dark, a limpkin screamed near the river like a child dying again and again. Tree frogs sang, basses, altos, trebles, and tenors. Eulalie once said nighttime frogs praised the good Lord with voices as pure as sacred harp singers standing in a hollow square. In the center of that square of voices and old trees, I could not sleep, but not for the singing. The events of the day weighed heavily on my heart. Without sleep, I was blind to what a dreamtime journey could show—whether my conjure woman had lived or died.”
Thank you for reading,
Recently, I did free Kindle promotions for my novels Mountain Song and At Sea. Once these run their course, it’s nice to check my Kindle dashboard and see that people downloaded multiple copies.
Even when copies are free or reduced in price, an author is also asking you for your time. And you have a lot to choose from when mainstream author/big publisher books are in the mix of choices. There’s so much talk about mainstream authors, it’s hard not to be tempted, Goodness knows, I read a lot of those books like everyone else!
I found out today that my dark short story “Shock Treatmen” is a semifinalist in Tulip Tree Publishing’s Stories That Need to Be Told contest. That’s unexpected good news.
The Kindle edition of Special Investigative Reporter, my recently released satire is on sale today on Amazon for 99₵.
In this satirical and somewhat insane lament about the fall of traditional journalism into an abyss of news without facts, Special Investigative Reporter Jock Stewart specializes in tracking down Junction City’s inept and corrupt movers and shakers for his newspaper The Star-Gazer.
Since Stewart is not a team player, he doesn’t trust anyone, especially colleagues and news sources. Stewart, who became a reporter back in the days when real newsmen were supposed to smoke and drink themselves to death while fighting to get the scoop before their competition sobered up, isn’t about to change.
Stewart’s girlfriend leaves him, the mayor’s racehorse is stolen, people are having sex in all the wrong places (whatever that means), and townspeople have fallen into the habit of sneaking around and lying to reporters and cops. Sure, everyone lies to the cops, but reporters expect gospel truths or else. Stewart may get himself killed doing what he was taught to do in journalism school, but that’s all in a day’s work.
Pithy Quotes from the Novel
“I like a man with a cocked weapon in his trousers.” – Monique Starnes
“Democracy demands that we celebrate the election process at one ball after another. Just think, in some countries, the winners aren’t allowed to have any balls.” – Monique Starnes
“Now Jock, that’s just flat right as rain. But tell the people, especially those in my district, I’m here to serve. No sacrifice is too small that it can’t be ignored. You tell them.” – Councilman Billy Purvis
“Lucinda came in this morning dressed to the nines even though it was only 8:30.” – Coral Snake Smith
“If you can’t bail out with a box of money and perks leaving the little guys to fend for themselves (poor bastards), what’s the point of being a corporate CEO?” – Marcus Cash
“You know, Eddie, it’s a sin to kill a Mockingbird, but the law doesn’t prohibit me from clipping its wings.” – Marta Smith
The meatloaf was surprisingly lousy. It was the kind of meatloaf Aunt Edna fixed Jock when he was an innocent kid on or about the time when she was losing track of things such as who he actually was and what ingredients belonged in the food. – Jock’s opinion.
Thomas-Jacob Publishing has released my satirical mystery Special Investigative Reporter, which is a change of pace from my Florida Folk Magic series. At present, the Amazon link is displaying the Kindle edition, but will soon include the paerpback and hardcover editions. The book is also available online at Apple, B&N, and Kobo. Your favorite bookstores can order the book under standard terms and conditions from their Ingram Catalogue.
In this satirical and somewhat insane lament about the fall of traditional journalism into an abyss of news without facts, Special Investigative Reporter Jock Stewart specializes in tracking down Junction City’s inept and corrupt movers and shakers for his newspaper The Star-Gazer.Since
Stewart is not a team player, he doesn’t trust anyone, especially colleagues and news sources. Stewart, who became a reporter back in the days when real newsmen were supposed to smoke and drink themselves to death while fighting to get the scoop before their competition sobered up, isn’t about to change.
Stewart’s girlfriend leaves him, the mayor’s racehorse is stolen, people are having sex in all the wrong places (whatever that means), and townspeople have fallen into the habit of sneaking around and lying to reporters and cops.
Sure, everyone lies to the cops, but reporters expect gospel truths or else. Stewart may get himself killed doing what he was taught to do in journalism school, but that’s all in a day’s work.
Book Within a Book
In the story, Jock Stewart has released some of his columns in a book called Worst of Jock Stewart. That book is real and can be found here.
The Fine Print
This novel was originally released by another publisher under another title (with the words “Sea of Fire” in it), but went out of print. At a time when people are complaining about biased news sources and “fake news,” the novel is more relevant now than when it first appeared.
A Letter From Jock Stewart
Jock Stewart’s letter to prospective readers, which appears on the dust jacket of the hardcover edition, can also be found on my website.
I hope you have a good time reading this satire.
The hormone therapy that precedes that forty days of radiation treatments for my little cancer problem is expensive (thank goodness for medicare) and as I look at the side effects of each medication they give me, it’s like spinning the wheel of fortune and/or fate trying to guess which annoying effect will affect me. When the nurse asked me Friday, if I was depressed about the cancer, I said, “No, just aggravated.”
Some books, such as those by James Patterson, I read to get away from it all, including nurses who ask if I’m depressed. Others–usually fantasy or magical realism–I read because they really are my cup of tea. One way or another, they not only hold my interest but are inspiring. The latest was Gwendolyn Womack’s The Fortune Teller. I’ve had it around for a while, so I finally decided to re-read it and found it just as interesting the second time through.
About the time I’d recovered from my 6-8 wasp stings and my wife had recovered from her 23 bumblebee stings, the rains came. So, the yard was already out of control and now it’s been too wet to mow for the last week. At least the thunderstorms created a break from the heatwave; I noticed on the weather channel that the temperatures in Maryland where my daughter and her family live were higher than ours here in Georgia.
My publisher Thomas-Jacob uploaded the trailer to my upcoming novel Special Investigative Reporter to YouTube today. So, that tells you the release date is fast approaching. You can see the trailer here. Since I recently re-acquired my rights to the book from its original publisher (under another title some years ago), this seemed like a good time to come out with a brand new edition with cool cover art. Completely different from the magical realism of my Florida Folk Magic Series, this novel is a mystery/thriller/satire.
I liked the AudioFile review of Holly Palance’s narration of the audiobook edition of Lena. Strange to see, the audio edition has more reviews on Audible than the paperback/e-book have on Amazon. The ratings are pretty good, too.
I’m sure many of those running for President in 2020 read this blog, so I’ll send them a group message here: daily e-mails that say “Malcolm, we really need you to chip in before midnight to support our campaign” are really starting to tick me off. Each e-mail reduces the likelihood you’ll get my vote. You’ve been warned.
My novel Mountain Song will be free on Kindle from July 22 through July 26. Set in Montana and Florida, the novel is somewhat based on my experiences in Glacier National Park. The sequel, At Sea, is also available on Kindle and is somewhat based on Vietnam War experiences aboard an aircraft carrier stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin.
If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’re aware of my family’s Scots ancestry. My brother and his wife are planning a trip to Scotland in August and invited us along. We thought about that for a long time, but finally said we didn’t think we’d be able to handle the scheduling. I hate missing the trip, but I’m glad the force was with us when we said: “we better not do it.” Had we said yes, the cancer radiation treatments that begin August 1 would have made it impossible to go. Quite likely, some expensive plane tickets would have been cancelled. Ifrinn fhuilteach as we say in Gàidhlig (Scots Gaelic).
Notice: If this post contained any real potpourri, you’d be sneezing by now. Come to think of it, I don’t know why well-meaning people thrust potpourri on innocent people who walk into a bathroom, living room, bookstore, Wicca supply shop, or auto supply store and then start sneezing their asses off.
Moving to Juneau?
If so, there’s work. I’d take this job in a New York minute (whatever that is) if I lived there:
The Sun Singer
If you’re one of the wonderful people who downloaded a free Kindle copy of The Sun Singer during the recent giveaway, thank you! If you like it, you may also like its gritty sequel Sarabande:
The Strand Bookstore
Since I have worked in historic preservation, I’m a fan of the National Register because it draws attention to a historic site or object and imposes no restrictions on the owner’s use of the property. Not so, the government overreach in forcing landmark status on New York City’s famous Strand Bookstore. The bookstore fought against the designation because it comes with rules that impact how the slim-profit-margin store can use the building it owns. I signed the petition against this kind of nonsense.
I posted this medical update on Facebook and since I’m too lazy to write a fresh medical update, I’ll just paste it into the blog:
Darn it, rain
I was planning to mow the yard after supper until I noticed that it’s getting a bit dark outside (at 2 p.m.). The weather RADAR indicates that I might not be cutting grass even though we just got one of our riding mowers back from the shop and it’s ready to go.
Fried chicken for dinner tonight, but there’s not enough for you, so don’t stop by unless you stop at the KFC on hightay 27 before you get here.