The Launch of a new Blog
Having recently become thoroughly disabused of the efficacy of staying in contact with my many friends on the social media platforms, and seeing how the alt-tech platforms, while promising, aren't quite there yet, I have ruminated long enough and have struck upon something more akin to direct contact. I wanted that contact to be free (hey, you don't have to buy a book!) and I wanted it to be personal, and I didn't necessarily want the kids I went to summer camp with when I was nine years old voting my posts up or down or leaving some kind of weird comment.
Let me make it official: I'm backing away from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Google. I have a presence on Minds.com (my FB alternative) and I'll be using that somewhat, and I have switched to watching my videos on Rumble.com and DailyMotion.com. I check on my Parler account daily (that's my Twitter alternative). I've even gone to the extreme of abandoning doing searches on Google and have instead begun using DuckDuckGo. My web browser these days is Pale Moon (except when I'm playing D&D with my friends on a Saturday night, in which case I will use Google Chrome because it's the only thing that seems to decently run Roll20). For my part, the tech giants have gotten far too big for their own britches, and it's time to let them go not so gently into that good night. We'll all be better off once they're gone, I assure you.
Most of you know me as the author of the Bill Travis Mysteries (at the moment some 19 books), but as you can see, I've written an equal amount of other books over the years. Also, I've been doing a lot more painting with oils and acrylics, as well as composing music.
I'm new at this blogging thing. I hope I do well by it and by you. It will take some discipline on my part, I suspect, and those of you who know me and know me well also know that discipline was the one thing I missed when it was being handed out way back on Day 6 of Creation. I didn't have the patience to stand in that line, and so simply walked off.
You know something? When I tell people that I'm not disciplined or that I'm lazy, they tend to give me this funny look. You know the look I'm talking about. I can see they're sort of thinking, "Did you just start speaking Japanese or something, because I'm not following you, bub." I think that's because they look at the number of books in the line-up on my backlist wall and they tend to say, "Man! You're prolific." I get that word a lot. Believe me, I'm not. Not even. It doesn't take patience, or discipline, or even energy to write a book. If it took any of those things, I would've been out of here a long time ago. No, it's really stupidly simple, and it's so much so that it almost hurts to say it, but let's give it a go...
You see, books are written one word at a time.
Okay, hold on. Full stop here. Let me rephrase that so that you're getting it: Open quote. Books are written...One-period-word-period-at-period-a-period-time-period. Close quote.
Got it? My dad used to have this saying. He'd say, "It's easier than falling off a log after you already started falling." That's how easy it is. You write one word. Then you write another. Then another. Etc. Ad nauseum. Ad infinitum. And you don't stop until your last words are "The End", or in my case, "Finis". (A word about "finis" here, for those of you who want to know. Go to a rare book store sometime and pick an old leatherbound book off the shelf from say the early 20th Century, or the 19th, or the 18th or 17th. Flip to the last page and see what the sign-off is. It's not "The End." It's invariably "Finis", which I always figured was Latin or something for, of course "Finish." I'm an old and rare book collector. Love the damned things. That's where I picked it up. Also, for my part "The End" is sort of an insult to the reader. I mean, of course it's the end! There's no more book after that last page! Okay, huh. Enough of that.) Back to this here thing about how easy it is to write a book.
Now I don't mean to make this first blog post about how to write a book, but if there's rat-killing to be done, you might as well get with it. So what I like to do is I like to have the title fixed in my mind first. Okay, so let's make up one right here and now (something good and random--I don't care if it's a short story title or a book title):
THE CELESTI JOB
Hmph. How's that for something off the top of my head? Okay. Got title.
Now, for that first line, I like to do one of two things (and it's great when I can do both of them at once). That is, I like to either start the first sentence with a declarative statement of great and fundamental universal truth, or I like to start it by posing a huge mystery. For a statement of great mystery, I like the sentence to pose at least as many questions as there are words in the sentence.
So, let's try and do both here:
Arturo was unaccountably nervous about the Celesti Job, or at least that's what he was calling it in his head.
Hmph. Okay, not so much on universal truth there, so that part's a flunk. Okay, so what about the mystery part? Okay, that's a long opening sentence. Twenty words. So the questions that jump right out at me are: 1) Who the hell is Arturo? 2) Why is he nervous? 3) Why is his nervousness "unaccountable"? 4) What is the Celesti Job? 5) What kind of job is it? I mean, it sounds like it could be both spiritually-related and criminal? 6) Why in his head, and why isn't the person who hired him calling it that? Which brings on... 7) Who hired Arturo? 8) How much does the job pay?
You see where I'm going with this?
Okay, so let's go a little further and see what happens:
THE CELESTI JOB
Arturo was unaccountably nervous about the Celesti Job, or at least that’s what he was calling it in his head. You don’t become the premier assassin for the wealthiest men and women on the planet and for heads of state and major corporations without missing a singular detail going into the planning and execution of a contract. Every detail means something, and while one’s attention is focused outward on the playing field where the hit is going to occur, a professional also pays attention to their own thoughts about things, and Arturo Salinas had definite thoughts about the Celestis. Their very existence unsettled him, and he was looking forward to the hit, which in and of itself was the singular red flag about the whole thing.
Thus far, everything had gone according to plan. It was in the evening, an hour before sunset, and the Celestis had departed, the last two taking an Uber, as they had done on the same week night for the two weeks previous.
The contract specified that the man must be awake when Arturo pulled the trigger, that he must feel fear, and that he must recognize that his demise was imminent and that there was nothing he could do about it. “Terror. I want this man to feel real terror. And on top of that, hopelessness. You can tell him that it’s what he gets for turning me down. Then, kill the son of a bitch.”
With the last acolyte gone, Arturo stepped out of the shadows of the blind in the tree line atop the ridge and started across the field. He had measured the distance at exactly half a mile and a few score of feet from the blind to the open door of the ashram. Hell, it may not have been an actual ashram, but that’s what Arturo was calling it in his head. That was one detail that didn’t matter among the myriad that did. What he called something in his own mind meant less than nothing. What mattered was the job.
The ground was slightly more soggy than he thought it might be. Possibly there had been a mild rain during the night while he was asleep in his hotel room back in town. It was a detail he had missed. But what of it? The investigator would follow his track back to the blind, would find the spot where he knelt to watch. But Arturo would return and retrieve both his binoculars and his night vision goggles immediately following the culmination of the job. Aside from that, there wasn’t so much as a gun wrapper left at the scene. There would be no traces of his DNA anywhere—Arturo had relieved himself in the creek two hundred yards distant on the supposition that DNA could be extracted from anything.
Okay, at this point, what I do is go back and read it and decide if I, myself, am hooked on this. Am I? Maybe. Maybe a little bit. But enough to carry it on through?
For me, here's the test: Am I getting good pictures? Is my ham radio set picking up good skips in the night? Is anybody talking in New Zealand? Yeah, there's something more than static here. I can see that Arturo gets inside the Ashram--hey, they leave those things wide open, I reckon--and he confronts the man he's hired to kill, and the guy surprises him by calmly inviting him to sit down (on the marble floor) and have some tea. Arturo, ever the professional who knows that there's nothing the man could possibly say to him to keep him from carrying out his contract, decides to take him up on the invitation. Arturo reassures the man that this is his last hour on work. The man shrugs and pours tea for both of them. Ensues the most cosmic conversation you ever heard in your frickin' life!
Now how does it sound?
And all that was written off the cuff with a supreme dearth of patience, discipline, or energy.
Okay, so here's the real question: Do I have the patience, the discipline, or the energy to write a regular blog? Hey. I have no idea. I suppose we'll see.
All right. I guess that's about it. Let me know your thoughts the usual way. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (I know, I know. I've got to ditch the gmail account if I'm going to do the non-big-tech thing right).
And that's a wrap!