Friday, October 13, 2017

Car Stories: More To Come!

To make my endless begging less annoying, I'm going to keep telling stories about cars I've had (or my family has had) throughout my life.

I'll post them every few days to keep things interesting!  Here are some stories I'll be telling:

The Chevy of Infinite Mystery (1995 Chevrolet Corsica)

The Bug-Gatti (Type 35 Bugatti replica on a '66 VW chassis)

The Buzzy Besom (2008 Longbo LB-50 Scooter)

The Titanic of the Ozarks (1977 Dodge M886 army ambulance)

Le Diamant Brut (1956 Citroen 2CV)

Dotty (1982 Datsun 210 Wagon)

The Car I Learned To Drive In (1992 Geo Metro)

Be sure to help me keep my current car on the road!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Car Stories- The Kerouac Cadillac

Since I need money to fix my car, why don't I tell you all a story about one of my favorite cars? If you like this story, please consider leaving a tip at and keep watching this space, because I've got more car stories to keep you entertained.

I think, of all the cars I've owned, the one I miss the most is a 1992 Cadillac Deville I bought on its last legs. It was white on white, and would have been a gorgeous car if not for years of neglect that left the paint peeling off in foot-wide sheets as I drove down I-40 across the Southwest. The radio never did work properly; I always kept a boombox in the passenger seat and a generous selection of home-burned CDs instead.

The car was a junkyard rescue and still had its junkyard lot number on it- a death sentence in greasepaint. Instead of going gently into that good night, she broke loose and went on a 3000 mile road trip with me.

Admittedly I thought the trip was a suicide mission. I was so desperate to get out of Little Rock I didn't care. After paying my bills downtown, I set off down I-40, playing an old 16th Century French corsair's song on my boombox:

Sont des hommes de grand courage,
Ceux qui partiront avec nous
Ils ne craindront point les coups,
Ni les naufrages,
Ni l'abordage,
Du péril seront jaloux
Tout ceux qui partiront avec nous.

The first stop was Amarillo, staying in a house overrun with cockroaches. Luckily my host for the night offered me something real nice to smoke because I couldn't have slept with those little claws tapdancing on me all night afterward.

The transmission started giving me trouble around Amarillo, but got me as far as a little Mom and Pop garage along Route 66 in Gallup before I had to stop for repairs. I stayed in a motel next door, a little one-star roach castle called the Roadrunner that hadn't been redecorated since the Eisenhower Administration.

Four days and $200 later, I was back on the road. My next stop was supposed to be Flagstaff, but my friend there warned me that if I stayed with him, I wouldn't be able to dig the car out the next morning, so I braved an Arizona blizzard with bald tires and bad brakes all the way to my mother's place in Las Vegas.

At Cajon Pass, I got stopped for doing 89 in a 70 zone (I didn't want to liquidate my brakes by riding them). The CHP officer took one look at the car and said "You drove all the way from Arkansas in that?" When I explained I was on my way to Oregon for a better life, he wished me good luck and sent me on my way with a warning. I've been told that CHP almost never lets anyone off with a warning but the look of that car and my natural earnestness was an easy way out of a speeding ticket.

From Mom's place my next stop was Fullerton, CA, staying with a now-former friend who hated Koreans and loved old Russian cartoons. He had a spotless early 70s Mercedes W116 (I think it was the 450 SEL model), an original Blue Plate car that had spent its whole life cooped up in his garage and barely had 6000 miles on it. I nearly cried when I saw it. This man's apartment was a dragon's hoard of obscure pop culture treasures that he piled up even as he discarded friends for the slightest transgression. Eventually, our friendship broke when I got tired of walking on eggshells around him. But for the duration of this trip, at least, I had a sunny place to stay between long stretches of winter driving.

I spent New Year's in Sacramento, eating In-N-Out and drinking 40-year-old whisky with a friend of my host who, it turns out, might be a distant relative.

I-5 around Lake Shasta was terrifying. I was forced, due to the terrain, the weather, and the condition of my tires and brakes, to drive 35 until I was well into Oregon.

I spent about a week in Portland, got to know the city, then went back the way I came. Apart from topping up the transmission fluid in Fullerton and forgoing the roach-infested house for a much cleaner Motel 6 in Amarillo, I went back the way I came with no surprises.

The car died about 2 weeks later. I was driving to Kroger for cat litter and was barely able to crawl back into my parking spot at home before it would move no further (much the same way my Scion died on me today). But for 18 days in late 2010-early 2011, that car was my lifeline to a new life on the West Coast and helped me make up my mind to move to Portland.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Nearly Done!

"The Linen Butterfly" is one step from complete.

I'm going to take some time to read it aloud to my husband next. This will help me iron out any last remaining bits of awkward prose and bad pacing.

Once that's done, I'm going to make any final changes, then I'm going to submit my final draft to DAW books to see if they want it.

I'm making a bold move by submitting my work to a large publisher. I've gone through it again and again trying to make it as polished as possible.

Realistically, I don't expect this to get past the submissions editor at DAW, Peter Stampfel. He's an industry gatekeeper with finicky tastes. That being said, I've done a bit of research on what he wants and I definitely have something that will stand out as a 1 in 1000 submission. The question is, will it be the "one in a few thousand" Stampfel refers to as being worth passing on to the next tier of editors?

Realistically, I have serious doubts. But the praise and support my work has received gives me hope. I'll submit it more or less exactly as I would to my usual publisher and make my cover letter honest but not self-deprecating.

I've developed a habit as a writer of shooting for the moon. I haven't made it yet, but every time I fall short I get a little more stardust on me.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

It's Half-Time!

I reached a benchmark tonight: halfway through this final pass on "The Linen Butterfly!"

Very excited about this.  The book I had given up for dead is humming with new life.  Right now, as worried as I am about the state of things, writing seems to be one of the few outlets I have to really properly express myself, and it never ceases to amaze me what I'm capable of doing when I put my mind to it.

The next little bit should go fairly quick.  It's all very polished from here.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Linen Butterfly Update

I finished two chapters tonight.  Getting into the part of the book that's much more smoothly written so work will begin speeding up.

The parts I'm working on now are basically less than a year old because I completely rewrote this bit.  In the original "Goldenlea," Sylvia lived in a camp in the woods like a Hollywood medieval outlaw.  Now she's a titled lady who lives in a decaying manor in a rotten borough in a remote province, like a real medieval outlaw.  This, of course, changes the dynamics of the story quite a lot.

The characters and subplots that were written out completely have also changed the dynamics.  This is where the story diverges sharply from the original.  The story is more focused and delivers its punches more directly.

I really think those who liked "The Goldenlea" will appreciate what I've made of it. And those who didn't like "The Goldenlea" may still like "The Linen butterfly."  I'm very proud of how it's shaping up so far.

I hope this isn't my magnum opus though.  It'd suck to be played out so soon; I'm only just getting good.  It will be the absolute best novel I can write for now but that's a temporary thing. If I can't write better in a year, then I'm slacking.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Latest Progress on "The Linen Butterfly"

This will definitely be my last editing pass on "The Linen Butterfly" before submitting the manuscript to my publisher.

I'm proud of "The Vimana Incident," but just thumbing through my personal copy today I couldn't help but feel like my work has improved by leaps and bounds since that book hit the presses.  "The Linen Butterfly" will be far and away the longest, most polished, and most complete work I've ever written.

It's the book I wanted to write back in 2003 when I started "The Goldenlea," but couldn't at the time.  14 long years as a novelist, maxing out my skills trying to write something of professional quality, are finally paying off and I'm excited for the future now.

Since I'm not on a strict deadline for this project, I'm going to take my time.  I'm going to refine every last detail I can think of and not be the least bit lazy about anything.  I proved with "Vimana" that I could knock out a 5-star book in 9 months so now there's nothing left to prove, except that I'm capable of better still.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Why Do I Deserve Your Help?

To give some idea why I think I deserve to travel to the UK to do research, consider that I'm probably the most thorough biographer of William Longsword to date.

The extant biographies of him are very short and many are out of date or contain inaccurate information. Even firsthand sources on him are incredibly scant.

 Even though he was probably equal in importance to William Marshal, nobody bothered to write a biography of him back in the Middle Ages like they did with Marshal. And yet, he's a common figure in pop culture.

During my research I discovered that he is a very popular recurring figure in historical romances, from Shakespeare's "King John" to recent historical fiction novels like Chadwick's "To Defy A King." The gap between his importance in history and culture and the amount of material about him is something I plan to remedy.

I've literally doubled the length of the Britannica article simply by gleaning disparate sources but there is still a lot I don't know. Some of the firsthand sources may exist and be cataloged, but may be in Latin. I need to photograph these and attempt to translate them with the scant Latin I know. I also need to speak to archivists and historians about what they know and where to find more leads.  I also need to get photographs of places he frequented so that I don't have to pay for stock photos, which could save me tons of money.

 More than that, though, I want to get a feel for his world. Going to the places where history happened always makes it easier to write about. You can read clues in buildings and landscapes that can shed light on historical narratives.

 I'm fast on my way to writing a masterwork of biography on a medieval figure who had a significant impact on history and popular culture. But I need help to complete my work.