Monday, February 01, 2010

Coming Soon: Books Alive 2010

I will not be selling books at this year's event. There's too much going on, and I don't have anything new to push. I'll be moderating two sessions for Daniel Wallace (Big Fish), and will probably crash a couple of other sessions when he's not presenting. The last two years, I have had to leave early for one reason or another, and I hope to stay the whole time this year.

But the week leading up to the event is also jam-packed. Thursday, after a day driving to Port St. Joe to train Freedom Communications associates in video production/posting and how to post/edit articles and photo galleries, the wife and I are attending a private dinner party for a few of the authors at the home of former PC mayor Gerry Clemons. Friday, I'm using a vacation day so I can hobnob with a couple of the authors, attend their presentations at area schools and a workshop at FSU-PC; then in the evening, there's a cocktail party/get acquainted gathering in Bay Point for Books Alive volunteers and guests. Saturday is the all-day event. Saturday night is the closing party.

Sunday is a day of rest.

I will drop in here at unlikely hours throughout with photos, anecdotes and whatsoever comes to mind.

Meanwhile, I continue working on the umpteenth version of what appears to be my life's work. I started writing stories about a young magic-user named Tom Caliban while I was still in 11th grade. Maybe 10th grade. At the time, he owed more to Doctor Strange than anything else. He slowly evolved, as the years progressed, and one version of him was my own -cough-ripoff-cough- version of the Manitou movie. Another version had elements of a film I never even saw (I read about it in Famous Monsters of Filmland, I think) and the title of which I can no longer recall.

Back in 1994 I wrote what I thought was a definitive and highly original version. It had a mixed up timeline and lots of holes, however, and some friends who read it pointed out the problems. I have, off and on, returned to it in the intervening 16 years or so, including writing "later" adventures that have him 1) fighting vampires, 2) traveling to parallel earths, 3) trying to "undo" a planet of zombies, 4) spending a hellish night in a Constantine-meets-Payback storyline. I recently went back to the original tale, because these others simply can't be told without it, and am nearly halfway done with the latest, and I swear FINAL, rewrite. (Unless some nice editor suggests some edits prior to publication. ... Well, I can dream, can't I?)

So here's the first and last paragraph of each of the first three chapters, just for giggles:

Prelude: Ghost Dance

The tree stood. That is what it did, what it had done for all the generations of the world. It was Puja, the Grandfather tree, its roots tapping the depths of the world, its limbs reaching into the clouds, touching the stars. It was the pillar of time, the source of life, the place of truth. It was a holy emblem to Iskenaga’s people, who had lived in these lands under these trees and beside the little river for as long as anyone could recall. The people came to the Grandfather to worship, to speak truth, to seek healing, and throughout their memory, one of Iskenaga’s line of shamans always had been here to answer their call, to protect, to inform, to lead. ...

... In the last moment of his life, Iskenaga thought of his son. The future belonged to his people again, to his children. And he knew that, even when the braves had performed their awful task, when the Grandfather was long gone and the sacrifices made today were forgotten, his children’s children still would hold this place sacred. They would still come here seeking truth and knowledge. All time is one, he knew, and it was a good time to die.

Chapter 1: The Dead of Night
My mother’s black hair was long then, before the accident that changed everything, and it shimmered like silk in the light of day. Wind through the car’s open sunroof tossed it playfully. It tickled her oval face, snapped and flicked like wild lashes, whipped through the opening into the air above. She stroked her left hand through it, taming it, keeping it out of Michael’s eyes so that he could drive without the distraction. She produced a scrunchie and tied her hair into a ponytail. ...

... She will not recall the words I give her, the words that she will whisper to him the next time the both of them are asleep in the same bed — words that will make him see the error of his ways and leave her to a future of her own devising. There you are. I am such a meddlesome bastard.

(NOTE: The two graphs above are NOT about the same woman or told by the same narrator.)

Chapter 2: The Prodigal
The morning sun was just burning off a light ground fog as the Greyhound topped the hill above Junction, Alabama, and started its descent into the town. Junction lay nestled in a wide hollow between rolling hills covered in tall stands of pine and oak, cuddled by the soft curves of the earth, and embraced by the fast-moving, muddy waters of Big Escambia Creek. Further south, the creek became the Escambia River, and further still, it finally spilled into the Gulf of Mexico near Pensacola, its churning waters turning emerald with the journey. The morning of my mother’s return, the creek was invisible below the bridge, hidden by a layer of fog thick as a cumulous cloud. ...

... He struck a white-tip kitchen match on the doorframe, dropped it on the fuel, and walked away, carrying his black bag. If he’d had the time, he would have enjoyed staying to watch the barbecue. Though the house was isolated, long abandoned on a back road in rural South Alabama, he could take no chance of being spotted and connected to the fire. He hurried on his way. By the time someone noticed the smoke and firefighters arrived, he would be in another state. And by the time his enemy had linked him to this place, he would have killed again. Perhaps, by then, he would have killed the whole world.

So, anyway, hope you enjoyed the taste. I need to get back to it. Thus, hold on til tomorrow for a review of Karen Z's book mentioned in the previous post.


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