Update on my #WIP and #Research

I have been a Bad Writer of late, and an even worse blogger. Life is hectic, it happens.

Two weeks ago, I was unable to spend my days off writing because I fucked up my back, and the only way I was not in pain was to lie down. Last week, my wife and I had to take one of our dogs to vet. She’d gone into labor, and there were complications. Ultimately, she gave birth to six puppies (one of whom we lost a few days ago).

It is this last paragraph I am going to focus on for a bit because I am a Proud Grampa. Of the six puppies, only two were male. My wife and I had already decided to keep two (a boy and a girl). Save for one, none of them have a final name—and this guy only has a final name because he’s ours (we haven’t decided which of the other dogs we’re keeping).

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This guy is one of the two we’re keeping. Say hello to Grant.

His full name is Ulysses Sirius Grant, and, believe it or not, he was not named for the 18th President. Instead, his name started out as a joke. The mama, Hippolyta (we call her Hippie), loves to dig. I suggested we name whichever boy dog we keep be named “Grant” because of her love of digging.

From there, we worked backwards. “Sirius” is the name of the papa (who, incidentally, turns eleven tomorrow), and “Ulysses” is in honor the first dog my wife and I had together: Odysseus. So, by sheer dumb luck, who my grandpuppy is named for a move line, his father, and uncle is also named for one of the greatest Generals in American History.

And with that, we shall segue in into an update on writing of my co-venture.

As I wrote on my author’s page on FB, I have not been doing research for the last month. My brain hit a wall with research. I had a moment where I fully understood Kelly Bundy in the below video.

My brain was screaming at me for relief from the inundation of more Civil War and Reconstruction era information, so I took a month off to focus on just fun stuff. I read His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (amazing trilogy), as well as a shit-ton of comic books. But recently, I’ve returned to pouring over research. I’ve recently purchased Barracoon by Zora Neal Hurston, The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois, and After Lincoln by A.J. Lannguth. My brain has resisted the last, but it has welcomed the first two–soaking up the information with glee.

I am also plowing ahead with another Work in Progress. I have just over 70 pages of written material. I’m being much more methodical with the writing of this book than I have been with any of my previous manuscripts. Each chapter has a designated word count (usually decided when I begin the chapter) so that I can slowly build everything. Otherwise, I tend to rush into the point of the chapter just to get through. Forcing myself to slow down, while it means I am not as productive, also is making me take a step back to edit each day before I begin writing. But it’s a good thing because, while it is not perfect, and the book will still need major revisions when it is completed, I am happy with how this book is turning out.

Until next time.

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May is never an easy month for me. I’m superstitious anyway, but these 31 days, I become even more so, and it’s been that way since I was 15. For a lot of minor reasons, and two big ones, I do not care for the month at all.

For starters, on 15 May 1997, I slipped into a coma. The shunt which drained the cerebral spinal fluid from my noodle clogged, and I nearly died because of the ER’s incompetence. My neurologist at the time performed a Third Ventricular Ostimy (essentially, they drilled a hole into my brain). The year prior, I broke my arm when my friend, Alvin and I went fishing, and my senior year, two of my classmates died in a car accident. The first time I was ever robbed (I deliver Pizza for a living) was in May.

Needless to say, I don’t have a particular fondness for the month, and I’m always aware of the days. Any other month, I have to look at a calendar. With May, my internal clock just knows. I’m tense (more so than usual) for 31 days. Again, I’m superstitious.

Well, I’d already decided to write about my second brain surgery before I came across this. Tl;dr, a woman had a runny nose for five years after a car accident. Her doctors told her it was just allergies. Let me repeat, she had a runny nose for five fucking years, and her doctors didn’t think that out of the ordinary. When she finally convinces someone to test her. Guess what? It wasn’t fucking allergies. It was Cerebral Spinal Fluid.

I’ve been down that road too many times, with doctors not believing me (or my parents) when I tell them something, but all my shit stayed inside. This chick was leaking Cerebral Spinal Fluid. Would it really have been too goddamn much to ask to run some fucking tests, you arrogant sons-of-bitches?!

Patient at yearly check-up: I’ve had a runny nose for a few months.

Doctor: It could be allergies. If it doesn’t clear up in, say, another month, schedule another appointment, and we’ll run some tests.

It is literally that fucking easy!

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Also, if this doesn’t make of Destry’s WTF 5 in the near future, I’ll be shocked.

Until next time, I leave you with this WTF 5 video:

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A Review of The Assassin’s Accomplice by Kate Clifford Larson

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I’m a history nerd. I enjoy reading about historical events of all varieties. I’ve read biographies of various historical figures from Hendrick Hamel to “Miura Anjin” William Adams, from Joan of Arc to Elizabeth I, from Adolf Hitler to King Leopold II.

On the subject of Lincoln’s assassination, I’ve read cradle-to-the-grave biographies of several people involved in the plot (both part of the conspiracy, as well as the victims and other potential targets), outlandish theories (one claimed the US Government hired Booth to assassinate Lincoln), and even the transcripts of the conspirators’ trial. Needless to say, I’m well-versed in the subject. I even own a copy of The Conspirator, directed by Robert Redford, which I watch at least once a year.

In fact, it was the film The Conspirator which led me to The Assassin’s Accomplice. In all the years I’ve read about Lincoln’s assassination, I was left with the impression that Mary Surratt had been railroaded. Even the author admits in the introduction she’d believed Surratt to be innocent, until she began viewing the historical record.

Larson does a competent enough job to sow doubt in Surratt’s innocence. For pages on end, she recounts the events preceding, and following, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, as well as the attempted assassination of William Seward, and always uses the words of the other conspirators as evidence. Certainly damning, but Larson never comes close to sealing the deal.

The real problem with the book is twofold. First, it is geared more toward those who already have an interest in the subject. To anyone who wants to know these people, and Surratt in particular, the reader will be left wanting, as it is a cold recitation of facts.

The second problem comes from Larson herself. There are several examples where her choice of words leave a different impression than what history shows. One such example is when describing the assassination of Lincoln, the author claims Booth was crazed. Indeed, he was not. He acted with methodical precision.

All-in-all, it was an okay read, but certainly not worth serious consideration. It is also one of the few times where the book is surpassed by the adaptation.

Follow this link to purchase a copy of the book.

Follow this link to purchase a copy of the film.

 

Until next time.

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An Update on Works in Progress

Right now, I have two projects I am actively working on.

The first is the co-venture with my better half is currently in the research phase, while we formalize the outline before beginning the actual writing. Below is a picture of all of the research material gathered thus far. Also,  I can now reveal my co-writer will be using the nom de guerre Eleanor G. Kennedy[1][2].

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(Once the bookcase is filled, for good or ill, the research will complete for the first of two books)

The second WIP is a solo novel which spans a period of nearly 20 years. This book is actively in the writing stage. I’ve been working on it since January, and have recently crossed the 50 page mark (not great, and certainly not where I wanted to be at this point, but progress is progress). Currently, I am estimating that the first draft will be done around this time next year. I’m hoping to have the first draft completed by January 1st, but I am not going to complain (much) if I miss my initial target.

This second book is one that I am pouring myself into like I’ve never done before. Even when I wrote the first draft of the (for-the-moment) abandoned Mad World, a book inspired by a friend’s untimely death, I did not put as much of myself, or my life, into the book. Much the same way Stephen King poured himself into Jack Torrence, I find myself putting bits and pieces of my personality into each of the characters, while one in particular holds my core. And for this reason, I am taking my time.

Because when the book is published, hopefuly in late 2019/early 2020, I want it to be as near perfect as I can make it.

Until next time, I leave you with this fun research-related video:

[1] In case you are wondering, the “G” stands for Grand-Master-Funkadelic.

[2] The above is a joke.

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“Shit Stain” Sean Hannity and More!

For those of you who do not know, the fuzz recently raided the offices of attorney Michael Cohen. That doesn’t just happen. There is obviously enough evidence for a judge to sign off on raiding a lawyer’s office to confiscate files. That this particularly attorney also represents the President of the United States means there had to be a shitload of fucking evidence that a judge had to say, “Yeah, okay, I’ll put my neck on the chopping block.”

Cohen has three clients: Trump, Elliot Broidy

Then yesterday, it was announced in court that Cohen had a client who wished to remain anonymous. The client? The modern day Joseph Goebbels: Sean “Shit Stain” Hannity. You know, that douchebag from Fox News who pimped for Trump during the 2016 campaign? The same one who pushed the Seth Rich conspiracy theory? Yeah, this motherfucker:

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We are so far down the fucking rabbit hole, we are stumbling our way in the dark. Our country hasn’t seen days this gloomy since the antebellum era because of the partisan nature of our politics. And it is all the worst because our “President” is a puppet for a foreign country. The only silver lining is Putin installed a nincompoop to head his fascist regime.

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In 2018, we need a wave of blue across the country to forestall a complete collapse of our country. We made progress in 2008, but we need to push further left. And we need to push harder, so that in 2020 we can elect a President willing to undo the damage caused by this pseudo-dictatorship. Because if the left does not come together in November to counteract the harmful policies, we will descend into an all-out fascist state, and people are going to die from the oligarchy’s war on the poor, of whom a disproportionate amount are minorities.

No matter what happens, however, America won’t escape unharmed. The damage has been done. Deep rifts in our society have been revealed. The bigots were given voice by the President. It will take years to wash the stains left by Fox News, Breitbart, InfoWars, Louder with Crowder, and the others.

In the meantime, I leave you with this:

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Ten Novels Everyone Should Read Once

Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon

IT by Stephen King

‘A’ is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Roots by Alex Hailey

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Salty Piece of Land by Jimmy Buffett

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

 

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Two reviews (kinda), an explanation, and a stupid joke.

When I last posted two weeks ago, I promised to have a review of Arkham Asylums: A Serious House on Serious Earth by Grant Morrison, and that this week I would have a review of In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Well, my computer died, and I lost the review of Arkham, and I am not about to spend another three hours compiling my research for the review, so here’s my official opinion:

It’s great. Read it.

Fortunately, that review is the only thing of import that I lost. My manuscripts, including my current WIP and research notes for the co-venture with my wife, came out unscathed. Thank G-d.

Now, onto the Capote.

My first experience with Truman Capote, to the best of my knowledge, was the Philip Seymour Hoffman biopic, Capote. I knew next to nothing about the man, but the film has Chris Cooper, so I was guaranteed to watch the movie at some point. And I did. My wife and I went to the art theater to see it. The film sparked our interest in the book In Cold Blood. We purchased a copy, and it lay unread by either of us until recently.

The old axiom is never let the truth get in the way of a good story, and despite his insistence that the film was 100% true, Capote took certain literary licenses to give a neater picture (I’ll not go into the differences, but a simple internet search will result in several different articles).

Capote begins his tale, not with the murders, but with the victims and townspeople. We are given a fully fleshed-out cast of characters who are all sympathetic. Even the killers, when they make their appearance, are painted with the same sympathetic approach. After having spent time with both Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, Capote leaves no doubt about their guilt. They confessed to the crime, and they eventually swung for it.

Throughout the narrative, we are given the internal thoughts of real people. Whether those are figments of the author’s imagination, or they actually occurred, I know not, but it helps to flesh everything out.

Even knowing certain scenes were largely fictional, this was a terrific read.

Now, the joke:

A man walks into a bar, the next guy ducks.

If you would like to purchase Arkham Asylum or In Cold Blood, follow the links here and here.

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