out of the ashes

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

20,000 Words In

Closer To Heaven is coming along fine. Here is an excerpt from 6.

Amelia has slept in a dumpster, having seen Munster and a man running...Going into the chapter the reader doesn't know she is dreaming, but the land and its inhabitants are "unbelievable" given where she is in time and space. And suddenly she awakens.


In my dream there was a lion and a bear and a horse down by the stream, and that didn’t make sense. A lion would have jumped on the horse and eaten him, and then he would have found the bear eating berries and eaten the bear. But he just drank the water instead and didn’t kill the horse or the bear. That is not real, I knew.
My momma didn’t see me or feel my arms around her, and that made no sense either  because Momma always saw me and knew me and loved me. And Daddy wasn’t in the dream. If Momma was really sitting by a stream, then Daddy would have been close by because there was no garage in the house on the other side of the road. And I missed them, but they were gone, and I didn’t miss them as much as I had the day before, or the day before that, because hoping they would come back really made no sense. It was kind of like missing Grandpa who’d died when I was a little girl. I missed him very much at first, and I cried and wished he hadn’t died, or that he could come back, but he didn’t, and as I got older and smarter I didn’t miss him like I used to. And someday I wouldn’t miss Momma and Daddy so much because Father Kenney and even Momma and Daddy said many times that dead people are alive in Heaven, and they are always watching us, and they live with their friends and their own mommas and daddies, and they aren’t unhappy at all. And they live with Jesus and God his father and the Holy Ghost, and they love them and ask them to help us. I could never understand who the Holy Ghost was, though. He was God, but he was also a bird, and he never said anything to anyone.
I didn’t understand being dead, or Heaven, or especially God who was three gods, but only one god, and that made no sense because I had never met three people who were one person, and so I couldn’t understand it, but I believed it.
I left the ladies room and ran down the hall to the back door. I picked up my black backpack and ran down the alley because I needed to get the bags and tubes and needles back to Jerrick so that we could feed and get water into Lashawna. That is all that really mattered. If I saw Munster or the man or a cloud or a hundred clouds, I didn’t care. I needed to get back to Saint Andrew’s Church.
I forgot about the dream.
Patrick Sean Lee (c)-2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

MONDAY

Hi Melissa!

I must remove myself from my desk in a moment. The client will be waiting, anxious to have their home look beautiful once again.

I wrote 13,000 words last week in Closer To Heaven. That puts me at 17,000. Only 48,000 more to go in three weeks until my knock-out ending :) I will let the story choose the final word count. It may wind up at 62,000, or 60,000. We'll see.

The first few twists in the plot have been revealed; Amelia is growing, but suspension is high. Lashawna is in a deep sleep! Munster is alive!

Off to take my shower!

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Hunger Games

Halfway through the book. Should I be surprised that I love it? Why was I so mentally opposed to reading it long ago? My brain works funny. For some reason I associated the name Suzanne Collins with Dallas, lol. No, not the city, the TV series. I admit, I'm sometimes plagued by preconceived prejudices. But Pammy rented the movie about a week ago, and I recall thinking, Okay, I'll give it a shot. I'm tired of writing...At first I was intrigued, and as the movie progressed I was knocked out. How could you not relate to Katniss and Peeta, and fall in love with little Rue? The Games host was perfect! Perfectly cast as well. Every character was, really.
So, I bought the first two books of the series.  The Hunger Games is one of those little gems that once in, you don't want to leave. The downside for me is, I know the plot! Oh well. It's marvelous. So glad to have stumbled into its net. I have no idea what will happen in the second book, but I relish the thought of reading on.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Epilogue


      As stories go, as life sometimes allows, the loose ends of the journey unraveled and then wove themselves into a tapestry that was marvelous to look upon, although not entirely beautiful.
      Gerald’s addiction was in the end his downfall.  His marksmanship was sure, even though ripples in the air between the barrel of his rifle and the body of John Delilah spelled the final failed outcome of his assignment...

      Marvin looked down the path, down the hill a hundred paces.  Another young woman stood, smiling, expectant, radiant.  Her hair was blonde, her eyes were diamonds, and she wore a golden key on a golden chain that rested over her heart.
      He went to her.

                                                          THE END

I wrote the Epilogue to Marvin (The Dance of the Spiral Virgins) a year ago this summer. I think I had just finished rereading A.S. Byatt's powerful and Mann/Booker winning novel Possession. Her Postscript 1868 sums up the fate of Matthew Ash years after having met Christabel. Having in Postscript come across the daughter he knew, but could never know. The circumstances, the short scene, is moving in such a profound way that I go back to it regularly, just for the magnificence and sadness of it.

Ms. Byatt did not write "The End" following the last line. I did in Dance. In a way I wish this were the only dissimilarity between the two books. I wish, for instance, that I had the power and courage to describe a field, using ten pages to do it. Okay, several pages. When you leave that field you KNOW every flower, every blade of grass, every breeze that courses across it, every rock that lies hidden, or looming like a tower in front of you. And you are weary of commas, lol.

I am moved and inspired by the force of words, the images they are able to convey in the hands of a master of the language. They infect me, sometimes for days on end. Many books have done that to me, but none with such force as Possession.

I must admit, too, that I was thinking of the ending credits scene from the brilliant movie, A Fish Called Wanda. The fates of the variously remarkable characters--Kevin Kline covered in cement hanging onto the window of the jet. In that summation, everything turned out for the best and brought a huge smile to my face. It hit me back then as I was considering my book's ending that perhaps I would take Marvin to Washington D.C. to straighten out the quagmire of politics there in some outrageous way...

But Marvin's story was different, although the wrapping up of the story was upbeat in an ironic way. Much different than the original draft's conclusion. It was my emotional response to Postscript 1868. The entire summation might be the best I've ever done, or will ever do. At any rate, the last two words I wrote were THE END, and I am proud of what I accomplished preceding it.









Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chapter 4

Marvin has fallen out of a dumpster onto his head. The expert medical team has patched him up, and he  is on the mend. He keeps telling the nurses and doctors that an angel continually appears in his room, floating by the window...

A portion of 4


Four

The hospital room was dark that evening except for the glow of the monitors on the wall above Marvin’s head. Anselm had entered and stood beside him, not a fleeting vision colored light and dark, but solid, like a ship emerging from a thick fog bank. Not across the room by the windows, either, but close enough to reach down and touch the patient. The angel spoke.
 “Who are you?”
The voice awakened Marvin, and when he saw Anselm his bleary eyes blew wide open.  
“Ho-ly Shit!”
Grabbing the top of the sheet with both hands, he yanked it up over his nose, but stopped short of his eyes. He trembled as he gazed up.  The eyes of the creature—not two, but many, spinning in its face like spokes in a wheel. Oh yes, it had a nose, a narrow nose, Marvin could see, now that whatever it was was so near—and a mouth, or several it seemed, that shifted up and down in a peculiar, disarming way when it spoke. A broken, shifting image, like one from an Edison Kinetoscope.
“Who are you?” Anselm asked again.
“I…dunno’,” Marvin stammered. “A dead man I’m guessin’. You come to take me away?  Holy shit.”
Anselm leaned close to Marvin’s face and continued speaking. Marvin’s heart beat wildly as he listened, and after a moment he lost consciousness—but the words entered his bruised brain and stuck.   
She is here, and we are watching her…
She is waiting for you…
This is what you will do...

Marvin was released two days later, but not without exclamations of professional astonishment, and not without a strong suggestion to consult a psychiatrist. First off, his wound had healed completely. That in itself brought every neurosurgeon, orthopedic specialist, oncologist, gynecologist, ornithologist, nurse, priest, psychic, and patient on the ward, to examine him and scratch their heads. 
His continued ramblings about an angel brought in a team of shrinks who explained the miraculous healing in terms of  “…an extreme acceleration of the processes of organic repair due to hypnotic intervention.”
“I can assure you,” the hospital administrator answered, “no one here would resort to such quackery.”
“Munchausen Syndrome, then,” came the response from a bespectacled psychiatrist, a tiny man who hung far back in the crowd, and who had peeked out and raised his hand as though he were back in a classroom in Vienna.
“You idiot, I saw his brain! That was no exaggeration on his part,” said the head surgeon who had gently stuffed Marvin’s brain back into his fractured skull before calling out for staples and gauze that night he was brought in.
“Oh.”
Whatever happened, he’s not leaving before he pays the four hundred thousand dollar bill,” exclaimed the hospital administrator.  Everyone except Marvin seemed to agree with that, all of them being medical professionals.
Marvin promised to try, and when they had all wandered off arguing amongst themselves, he dressed in his bloodstained rags and snuck out to return to the quiet and comfort of his pit beneath the dock. He felt very different, uncommonly happy, and very sleepy again.

                                           *

“This is the woman?” Anselm asked Roget.
“Yes.”
They stood watching as Amy set the dripping glazed bowl into the wire holder atop the counter next to the sink. Through the small, south-facing window above the sink, a soft light poured in, brightening the edges of the aqua curtains and the tile counter top. A robin flitted to a perch on the feeder outside, twisted its head several times quickly, then flew away. She glanced over at where it had been, then gathered her purse from the table behind her, looped the strap over her shoulder, and left the apartment.
“More beautiful even than the image in his dreams.”
“Quite. As these creatures go, at least.”
“What do we know of her? Where did they meet?” Anselm asked.
“Don’t know yet. Inconsequential, at any rate, I think.” 
Roget told of her dreams, and of a family in a city east of Denver. Her income, her quiet life here, her anxiety of late concerning a boss. 
“The point is they’ve crossed paths, I’m certain of that, and now we have to twist them back toward that intersection. It’s remarkable, isn’t it?” Anselm said.
“What is that?”
“The very different worlds they inhabit.”
“Indeed. How is he?”
“Resting. Dreaming. Drawing a plan, though he doesn’t realize it yet. Stay close to her, my friend. I have some work to do while he regains his senses.”
“And his injury?”
“A distant memory.”

(c) Patrick Sean Lee-2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

Patrick Lee

As of November of last year I could no longer be Patrick Lee. At first that made me a bit sad. After all, I've been him since April 20, 1948. But why, you ask, can I no longer be just plain old Patrick Lee?
Well, I write, and as of November of last year I entered the marketplace with a 10,000 word story I'd written earlier that year, "Dear Diary, A Journal From Hell". It went up at Amazon. I was stunned in December (2011) and January (2012) by its sales ( No, I haven't quit my day job yet), and it continues to sell--though I have a ways to go before joining Mark Helprin or Stephen King...or Patrick Lee.

Patrick Lee. Admittedly, I haven't read any of his books--one at least hit the NY Times Bestseller list--but I have no doubt that he is an excellent writer. Publisher's Weekly gave the book a glowing review. That says a lot about a writer's ability. But perusing his titles, I can say pretty confidently that we write in very different genres; probably styles as well.

Even though he stole my name (wink)--well, he was at Amazon first--I do thank him, because we seem to get "linked" with my now several books when I search...me. I'm not at all offended by the mix up. Like I said, I'm rather grateful.

For any of you interested, and without his written or even verbal permission, I'd like to post his website address. Not that I want you to compare writing--I'm still rather humble in that department--but just to give him a plug. We can all use those.

http://www.patrickleefiction.com/

Speaking of reviews, I'm going to submit The Dance to Kirkus for a paid review. An impartial, professional assessment, good or bad. If it's bad, I probably won't use it in promotions, lol...but God knows I think the book is excellent. I worked long and hard on it. If it's good, I can take it and run like hell to that agent and say, "See, didn't I tell ya'?"

Should you see this, Patrick Lee (the younger), I'd like your opinion. Good or bad (you seem well-educated), I promise to read at least one of yours and review it in return. Not tit for tat; you don't know me from Adam, and vice-versa :) Good writing is good writing. A good story is still a good story, no matter the genre preference of the reader.

I wonder if someplace way, way back there our ancestors might have been from the same family over in Ireland? Whereas my great, great, great Uncle Seamus leaned toward the literary/fantasy romance style (who would that have been? Yeats maybe?), your great, great, great (add one more great) Uncle Patrick might have been more inclined to enjoy thrillers. Perhaps the stuff by that Englishman, the author of Hamlet?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Dance of Patrick and the Spiral Virgins


It’s up! It’s not yet available in print, but in another few days it will be, and as I said at Facebook, I’m so proud of it. 
Erik is going to create a webpage for me for my author status; I need one, and I’m admittedly an idiot when it comes to computer technology. I’m going to have to shout pretty loudly in order to let, not just my faithful friends, but the world know that Marvin is waiting to delight them. He was, character-speaking, my first child, having been born as he was in a short book I wrote in the early 80s, lol. Just a bum in that one. There was something about him though. A possibility, and so I resurrected him and gave him an impossible quest. This time around I surrounded him with a wondrous supporting cast, and oh my God did I bleed in order to get the book just right. I’m STILL not entirely satisfied with my crucial opening chapter (number ten thousand, I swear), but I achieved what needed to be achieved…get him into the hospital so that he could meet Anselm, the angel, in an environment that smelled real, and through his unconsciousness, get him into the dream of Amy. Thus could begin his quest, watched over by the angel.

One of my major successes in writing the book was Chapter Nine. I’ll share a portion of it with you here. Trish and Cherilyn were working with me at the time, and for whatever reason, my muse came to full birth.
Marvin is out of the hospital, out of the clutches of a cop who wanted to arrest him for vagrancy (he’d seen Amy downtown earlier, and had come back to wait for her to pass…). In a flash of inspiration he has decided to go to The Salvation Army and clean up, and then go steal some decent clothes so that the next time he sees Amy...:)



Chapter Nine


           Marvin returned later that day with a new sense of purpose to the place he loathed more than the inside of any confessional.  The Salvation Army Mission on Tenth Avenue and Bannock.  It was only six blocks away from Civic Center Park, and had many years ago been a large private residence covering two full-sized city lots, plus another fifty feet on one side where lawn and flowerbeds and Weeping Willow trees grew in wild abandon. The Army had purchased it a dozen years ago after the eccentric widow—a certain Mrs. Maybelle Stump who maintained it like a macabre Hollywood movie set—finally left the world for supernatural parts unknown.
           An hour after sitting through the reading of the will, her smiling heirs promptly threw it into the hands of a real estate broker, who promptly threw it out to the public listed as “…one of Denver’s finest, charming old haunted houses, with a view of the Pacific.”  He meant Rockies.
             No one of the Army believed in ghosts, although they were certain, to a Major, that God existed, that He had a Son, and that the Son desired them to buy and renovate the ramshackle dwelling (the home of rats and spiders and cockroaches…and ghosts).  They were intrigued, also, by the promise of a stunning ocean view from the west-facing balcony.
           The overgrown lawn, the trees that bent their limbs clear to the ground, and the weed-infested flowerbeds disappeared soon after the new spiritual owners got their hands on the deed. The dilapidated wrought iron fence encircling the corner lot was ground up into a huge rusty ball and carted off to the dump.  Inside, moldy carpet was whisked away revealing solid oak floors beneath.  A host of memory-laden doors with children’s names etched into the jamb edges and on the six inch-wide casings were treated to sledgehammers, and then lugged away in splinters.  Lathe and plaster walls fell in storms of dust, and in their place a grand central dining/gospel room emerged, complete with speckled linoleum tiles that an army (so to speak) of indigents could not possibly damage. 
           And an unornamented wooden pulpit.
           The pulpit stood imperially, despite its plainness, dead center of the room at one end, between a pair of grand windows that had once belonged separately to two of the six bedrooms of the house, before the wall dividing them was unceremoniously removed.  A King James Version of the Bible sat prominently on the top of the pulpit, and it was opened and read from by the major in charge of those souls whose bellies he and his staff had just filled—three times each day.  The same as any of the great preachers of old would have done in his stead.
           The issue for Marvin: If you were here in the cafeteria, you were obliged to listen to the word of God—and it sometimes included the dreaded book of…
                                                          Numbers!
…wherein, “…of the children of…” quickly lost all meaning, except for biblical scholars and genealogy sleuths, of which very, very few sat in the folding chairs in front of the Major.  It did not seem to bother the Major during any of these readings that the snoring was often louder than the spoken word of the Almighty.

           Marvin tactfully entered the front doors at 4:45 p.m.  The Men’s shower would most likely be silent, and another hour would pass before the dinner bell rang.  All he needed to do was slide down the long hall to the admissions desk, wink at Ms. Garcia (who, he imagined, would be manning her post behind it until the Lord either returned, or said phooey to the whole Second Coming idea), and show her how filthy he was.  That would be easy enough.  Despite his feelings for the mission in general, he had always gotten on marvelously with the attractive little woman.  A few times, too marvelously.  Though he knew she was quite…no, somewhat religious (A Roman Catholic, of all things, he discovered during the second season of his stay), she sometimes let her tongue slip while working away at the desk behind the counter.  He caught her muttering one day—a colorful expletive in four letters.  F-Major.  The bond between them was born at that instant, and in those leaden days, when fools roamed the halls expounding on every stupid thing under the sun, he visited her at her station frequently for reality checks.  Duets of questionable grammatical taste that began andante, and when he was lucky, ended adagio sensuoso.
           He liked her.

(c) Patrick Sean Lee, 2012

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Woola Woola Boys and Marvin


I’m working furiously (slowly) on my rewrites of a few chapters written years ago in my second draft for Marvin—retitled “The Dance Of The Spiral Virgins”. At the time I wrote them I thought they were perfect. Well, anyway, they don’t work anymore for many reasons, so they are out.

I think the new chapter replacing one of them works “perfectly” so far. I’m four pages in. In this chapter it is essential to get Marvin into the governor’s mansion as a houseguest—a permanent houseguest. That’s the long and the short of it. I think what I’ve written is good.

Regarding this, I want to tell you about a book I read.  A portion of it at any rate. THE book that inspired me to create my own work of high fantasy, “The Redemption of Marvin Fuster”, back in 1998. “Winter’s Tale” by the brilliant author Mark Helprin.

Regarding the book I must preface my remarks by quoting from the back cover:
“Is it astonishing that a work so rooted in fantasy, filled with narrative high jinks and comic flights, stands forth centrally as a moral discourse? It is indeed.
…I find myself nervous, to a degree I don’t recall in my past as a reviewer, about failing the work, inadequately displaying its brilliance.”
                                                                --New York Times Book Review, front page

The reviewer’s comments were spot on. But, loving the book and the characters and the myriad of sub-plots—the exceptionally beautiful lyricism of the writing—I wondered when I first read it about a certain section; the silliness of it.
Pearly Soames is the antagonist. Not just any bad guy, Pearly is a riot. You love him even knowing he’s out to kill Peter Lake, the lovable, clever hero. He is the leader of The Short Tails, a ferocious gang of misfits in the belle époque era of new York. In the chapter, Peter Lake Hangs From a Star, Mr. Helprin says something about one group in Pearly’s gang—the Woola Woola Boys. I quote a section:
“It was called “Woola Woola,” and was a complicated technique for looting trucks and wagons. The chief woola boy was Dorado Canes, under whom were a dozen men in the Woola Woola team. Two or three of the men in the team hid in a doorway or an alley and waited for a wagon to pass. As it did, the woola boy would come from nowhere and run up to the driver, jumping up and down and screaming “Woola woola woola! Woola woola woola! Woola woola woola! As loudly as he could. The drivers were shocked…”

To me this did say something about the gang (most of what Pearly and Co. did was pure genius), but even in my first read I was flattened by the silliness of this passage. Still, the work as a whole was magnificent, as the NY Times reviewer indicated.

Which brings me back to Spiral Virgins and Marvin getting into the mansion. I hope the humor in my latest effort, of how he (and Anselm, his angel) accomplishes the absolutely necessary part of the plot, hasn’t caused the narrative to drift into silliness. That it doesn’t mirror the only failure of Helprin’s book.

I’ll call upon my faithful readers to answer that question when I complete the chapter.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 4th, 2012 Anno Domine


This is not the Common Era. What the hell does that title mean? Was there once an Uncommon Era? Give me a break.

Happy 4th (anyway)!

“Write beautifully.”
Okay. Think plot, though. That’s what I’m working on. Re-working on. 

I’ve gone into Marvin—changed the title to “The Dance Of The Spiral Virgins.” Gone in and begun re-reading each chapter in the new preview at Createspace and in my doc. I bagged the opening chapter wherein I opened with a weak description of Marvin, etc., etc. in the last upload to Createspace. Months ago I thought it was so much better than the one before it. It hit me that it wasn’t, and it didn’t do anything at all for the story. So, in the latest I simply have Marvin falling in a dream—the dream in which he meets Amy. Afterward he’ll be in the hospital, with a bit of back story showing how he came to be there. I have to keep forward movement in mind, and yet I don’t want to lose the humor or lyricism.

When I redid the entire book a year or so ago, I kept several of the original chapters, as I liked them. In particular the night Maribeth tells Daddy and Mums about her new pet, stashed in the overflow bedroom in the basement. I was charmed by how I’d presented Marvin as the new creature—how I reconciled his being accepted into the family by Richard, the governor. Looking back the entire episode left me flat. It was too pat, too quickly arrived at. The next morning (next chapter) I had Marvin dancing up to the breakfast table, and there being interrogated by the governor, who’s had a change of heart concerning the new boarder. Marvin reads two classic books at the breakfast table in something like ten minutes, and gives a synopsis of both. Richard lets him stay. It was all wrong, especially the narrative voice in the chapter where Maribeth introduces our hero to her father.

So now I’m completely revising that part of the plot, cutting out the windy “lyricism” and the contrived portion at the breakfast table in the chapter following.
I keep thinking, Once I get those two chapters straightened out (I’ll have to go forward in the ms. and make certain there are no references to either of the incidents in the cut chapters!) I’ll be good-to-go. Finis, at last. How many times have I said that?

Still, in the end, it’s plot, plot, plot. Oh...And make the characters real, even if it’s a fantasy. Sometimes writing is so bloody hard.

Friday, June 29, 2012

David Baldacci-The Innocent



          Marvin’s eyes were closed.  His face was expressionless.  Two I V-s snaked down to his arms laying atop the sheet covering him, one in either.  Above him the digital monitoring equipment showed heart rate, pulse, and breathing.  Steady, weak.  To Maribeth and Amy he seemed almost to be resting, happy, consumed in a deep and peace-filled sleep.  They walked to his side, Amy to his right, Maribeth at the left.
      Maribeth carefully placed her hands on his shoulder the moment she reached the bed, and leaned close to his face.  New tears formed and trickled down her cheek, dropping onto the bridge of his nose.  He started briefly, then returned to his calm state.  She bent closer and kissed his cheek softly.
                                                                            *
I was going to resume my blog entries by speaking a little about David Baldacci’s latest book, “The Innocent”. It’s very good points as well as the couple of things that turned me off. Which had to do with narrative. Much of it good. A lot not so good. 
In my opinion. 
He’s major, dummy.
I loved his plotting. Fast-paced with chapter endings that left me hanging (and reading). It reminded me of Dan Brown’s blockbuster, The DaVinci Code in the way the chapters were short, information packed…and left the reader hanging.
Okay, if you’re a serious reader you’re not supposed to love Brown’s work. I do. Baldacci’s? Well, I might, and yes, I liked The Innocent. I just grated (not gritted) my teeth as I read some of the structure techniques.
Back up topside.  “It’s very good points as well as the couple of things that turned me off. Which had to do with narrative. Much of it good. A lot not so good. 
In my opinion. 
He’s major, dummy.”
That kind of structure. Short, clipped sentences (even sentences set as their own paragraphs), and those cursed internals in italics!
Well, you employ that method of effectively getting into your protag’s head!
I certainly do.
Rarely.
I’ve noticed in my reading that when an author inserts them rather more than occasionally...or judiciously…the narrative sounds strained, forced, and juvenile. But, Mr. Baldacci is anything if not the consummate professional. He has a large team of readers and editors behind him, and my suspicion is that like all fans and friends and, well, editors, these people most likely would not say, “Nah, that doesn’t work, David.” After all, he’s proven himself. They’d better love it!
Farther back up to my opening. I couldn’t resist copying and pasting the opening to my last chapter from Marvin, lol. What did I do there? I simply dispensed with internals.
So yes, "The Innocent" was a good book (I hate the word “read”). I enjoyed it very much.
Still.
Why did he use so damned many clipped sentences and those bloody internals?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

AARGH!

So Marvin part one is live and ready for purchase (thanks to everyone who has purchased it so far:), and I have my proof copy. I've been reading it. I've read those chapters a thousand times over the years I worked on it. Revise, revise, revise.

The last time I did it and wrote The End I swore, That's it. No more. It's finished. As I uploaded the final draft I had certain reservations concerning a few chapters I'd written when I worked on the book in class...the difference in voice...but I still liked them essentially. In particular when Maribeth introduces Marvin to her parents that first evening in Richard's study. Originally I had Marvin stealing a new suit; burning down the clothing store in the process, and then in his mad rush to flee the scene of the crime, being run over by Maribeth, lol. So what happened in rewrite was deleting all mention of how they first crossed paths (thank you, Anselm). I missed several places in the "final draft"! Reference is made to "...when I ran you down..."

And Robert versus Marvin! Several inconsistencies there as well. Marvin seems not to know him at breakfast the first morning after he awakens in the mansion; recognize Robert's voice. Robert met him at the front door of the mansion the day before, spoke to him, and then again a bit later after Maribeth helps Marvin in the driveway. Yikes!

I cringed. After having read the ms. a thousand times, how did I let those things slip by me?

Back to revision.
I will also combine Books One and Two as they are in my Word file...or files. I have about ten in my docs, lol. Resubmit to Createspace and THEN it will be perfect:) Everyone who bought the less-than-perfect edition will receive the revised book free of charge!

I have so much work to do. Finishing up Purgatorio...
Better get to work!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mellowing

It's been a hectic week. Tonight I am resting, getting my spirit straight again after the weekend drama...


I’ve always spoken about my love for the Romantic composers—Chopin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, Dvorak, Brahms, Bruch, and so many others. Sergei Rachmaninov…Oh that I could write like they composed.
I ran across another today, Anatoli Lyadov, a Russian like Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, and Rachmaninov. I love the Germans and the Poles, but I adore the Russian Romantics. There was something in the land, on the steppes and in the great frozen cities, that must have entered their spirits to enable them to write more powerfully than any of the rest. I believe, anyway.
Anatoli Lyadov taught Stavinski, Prokofiev, and Mussorgsky. He also composed a splendid, moody piece in 1908-09, when the glorious era of the Romantics was drawing to a close just prior to World War I. The Enchanted Lake. "About the lake Lyadov wrote, 'How purely picturesque it is—with bountiful stars over the mysteries in the depths! But most importantly it is uninhabited, without entreaties and complaints; only nature—cold, malevolent, but fantastic as a fairy tale.'”

A fairy tale…

Imagine yourself just before dawn, sitting beside the calm, mist-covered waters as this music plays. The hand of God moves slowly, like a soft breeze over the surface, and the magical realm He rules awakens.

When I write pieces that require mood and color; when I want badly to move my reading audience, I call on the Russians. I’d like to finish up Purgatorio with something like the last two minutes of this amazingly gorgeous work by Lyadov, particularly the last minute and a half…take it into denouement with beauty and serenity, the finality of spirits redeemed and at total peace.
Vist it at Youtube...Anatoli Lyadov - The Enchanted Lake (1909)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vieni Sul Mar

I don't know what that means, but I'm listening to it on iTunes at Classic FM. It's so lovely:)

But...I'm finally back to Terence and Teresa in Purgatory. Another couple thousand words and it's ready to go...after final revisions.

Teresa has met a young girl who has enchanted her. After several delightful days of meeting, Teresa becomes pre-occupied; stand-offish to Terence. She announces one morning that she must go back into the city, and that he must promise not to follow. He makes that promise, but follows anyway. Teresa meets one final time with the little girl, and then enters through a doorway into a deeper region of the kingdom; an unpleasant place, which entrance is guarded by a cowled man. Terence is shattered.
An excerpt.

March 21

Dear Diary,

I spent much of the day searching for a way to get past the gatekeeper. A hidden door or a boarded-over window; a coal chute, a chink in the masonry someplace, but I found no other entrance. Why would I not be allowed to enter the doorway at the front of the building? Why did that creature block some and not others? Well, me at least?

I put the problem of entrance aside after several hours of searching in vain and made my way past the bookstore, down along the avenue in search of the street called Limbo. Mile after mile I walked, hoping to stumble upon it or at the very least see children. Again my efforts proved fruitless. It is as though everything important to me has vanished—the little girl more so because I am certain she must know what Teresa did in another lifetime that made her walk through that cursed opening.

Thus, I made my way back toward my starting point in great despair and confusion. I passed the bookstore, and after a short distance retraced my steps and entered for some reason. A dog on its way home will stop often enough for no apparent reason other than something catching its eye or nose. And so I confess, Diary, at that moment I felt little better than a common cur.

Inside a dozen or more lovers of the written word milled about browsing the titles in the racks, chatting as though there was no sanctity in a house of books. I approached the proprietor and asked him if the woman garbed in the robes of a nun had been in today. He replied that there were no nuns in Purgatory. Only priests—and many of them.

“The popes get to congregate in Hell.”

“Thank you,” I replied. “I know that firsthand. And Bishops. But didn’t you see her a day or two ago sitting over there reading a book the size of the Pentagon?”

“The what?”

“Never mind,” I said. “A very large book is all.”

“I saw no nuns…nor priests for that matter, lately. But if you’re referring to a big book, perhaps it’s “The Very Best Recipes For War From Alexander the Great to George W. Bush. Lots of stuff in that one.”

“No, I don’t think that would have been it. She mentioned the title, but I’ve forgotten it,” I think is what I replied, Diary.

“There was no nun. Hasn’t been one…”

“Yes, yes, I know. Well, thank you anyway.” I turned to leave, having no desire to read the account of the rape of the Sabine women or any other “recipe”.

“Wait!” His voice halted all the chatter momentarily. “There is another, although it hasn’t left the shelf in ages. Written by some unknown author from nowhere around these parts. Good, or Glob…something like that. You’re welcome to pull it down and take a gander. If you like it I’ll let it go for half…no, three-quarters of the cover price.”

I told him he was too kind in offering me such a steal, but that I’d like to see it first. I think I know why he was sent here. He was probably a thief. Definitely not corporate…they’re all in Hell. He removed himself from behind the counter and rushed to the rear of the store, returning in a moment with the book. Yes, its cover looked the same. Maybe inside it lay the clue concerning the children and the way into Teresa’s chamber of horrors. The non-existent nun seemed to have indicated as much when we spoke.

“Sorry. Written by some guy named God,” he said with an out-of-breath huff.

“You’re serious,” I had to respond.

“Yes. Right here,” he said plopping it onto the corner of an un-occupied table and then pointing at the byline. “G-O-D.”

“You don’t know who God is?”

“Not precisely. Just some long-winded writer, judging from the length of this thing.”

Hell is an insane asylum, but Purgatory isn’t far behind, Diary. I asked him how much he wanted for the book that I’d need a truck to lug back to the camp outside the city. He eyed me, and seeing as I was naked, he frowned.

“Thirty pieces of silver. Not a coin less.”

Curious price.

I don’t know why I wound up here in Purgatory…well, yes I do. That was my choice. I think. Our choice. At any rate, at least I’d heard of God. Is this place and the people inhabiting it located in another part of the universe? Another universe altogether? Somewhere that God hasn’t visited and screwed up yet? The shop owner knew of popes, but where did they come from in his un-God world?

Who cares? I dickered with him and got the price reduced to fifteen silver pieces.

“Fair enough. Now, put the money on the table and then you can drag this thing out of here and read it until Hell freezes over.”

“I doubt that will happen anytime soon, and as you can see I’ve obviously forgotten my wallet.”

“Then you can forget the book and get your naked ass out of my store…whoever you are.”

As I had no Teresa, no little girl, no nun, and no clothes, I decided on another tactic to get my hands on the book.

I left.

I hung around a few doors down the street, noting for the first time that I was the only soul without clothes on. It’s no wonder the people here cast sidelong glances at me whenever they pass by.

I returned to the bookstore some length of time later and glanced in the front window. More customers had gathered. I could hear their chattering even through the glass. Fortune smiled at me. The book lay resting exactly where the owner had placed it hours ago. I opened the door, stuck my head in, and screamed “FIRE!”

Odd though they might be, the citizens here are no different than they were back on planet Earth. Hysteria erupted in the face of one highly-charged word. There was an instant of shock followed by a mass stampede…the owner leading the way. I stepped in, and when the bulk of bodies had passed by, leapt onto the book and followed them out. I gallivanted down the street, surprised that God’s book seemed so light in my hands.

When I’d gotten safely away—now a thief myself who might qualify for entry into the darkened door behind which my Teresa lay—I scanned the title. “The Secret”. At first I turned up my nose. I’d read a book by that title when I was alive and had ten times thirty pieces of silver in my wallet, inside my trouser pocket stitched onto the pants I always wore in public. That book didn’t impress me, although its author had another name.

I went home, sat down after starting a fire, and began to read.

Now, only past the acknowledgments, table of contents, copyright page, and introduction, I weary. It might be that I’m beginning a James Michener version of the Book of Numbers. I don’t know, Diary. I’ll dig in again tomorrow to see.

Goodnight my friend

Ps. Will any who might happen upon you in the future see my words as…wearisome? I hope not.

(c) 2012 Patrick Sean Lee

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ain't life grand!

My cup is half empty. Er...my cup is half full. Today I had to ask, which is it? (lol)?
I had good fortune greet me when I awoke. I was busy studying marketing techniques when my wife came running out to me all excited. "Did you read the announcement at I Love Bookrix Writing Contests yet?"
"No, why?" I hadn't logged in at 6:00 a.m. yet.
"Well, go read it!"
I did, and nearly fell out of my chair. I honestly thought Barnum Lake had about a snowball's chance in hell of placing.

Seems I won 2nd (darned Mary Walz! :) :) :) in the Write Whatever You Want Contest. So I am to receive a prize:)
A bit later the mechanic who was doing a diagnostic check on my wife's car called to inform me the computer was toast...$650.00. This month it might as well have been $6.50!

So I gets all depressed. Goodbye prize money, and then some.

But there it is. Had God not smiled down on my entry (and those independent judges), where would I be right now? Suicidal? Well, prob'ly not, but you get the picture.
If I just put one foot in front of the other, like I did yesterday and the day before...and the day before, the cup never empties somehow.

And gosh darn it, thanks, Scott. You reviewed my story with eagle eyes! You saw exactly what it was and where it came from.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Marvin :)

My first love, lol.


Mary asked me this morning why in my pre-publication announcement at Facebook concerning The Redemption of Marvin Fuster I split the book in two.
The Redemption of Marvin Fuster-Book One, subtitled “The Important Thing Is…Marvin” and The Redemption of Marvin Fuster-Book Two, subtitled “…To Love Rather Than Be Loved. Delilah.”

I had two reasons for doing this. The first was a natural outgrowth of my total revision of the plot last summer (thanks, Trish). I broke the manuscript up into two sections at that time, as noted above. The first concerned the introduction of the two sets of characters; Marvin, Amy, Maribeth, John…the four "elements", if you will, that converge at the climax. Essentially, though, the entire book is Marvin’s metamorphosis. Marvin's zany character. Marvin's delightfully insane quest and the troubles he causes alongside Maribeth in his attempt to succeed for love of Amy, a woman he has never really met. I got him to the point in Book One at which he is nearly ready to apply his brilliant theory…finalize his calculations and mix the brew (but first he must meet the greatest roadblock to date and hurdle it). At that point the strange mix will either kill him or accomplish the first portion of his quest; to reverse his age. He must meet Amy, though. Must. She has to have her own story, however, which because she knows nothing of him or his quest must have meat of its own, and that is where Delilah comes in.
So there are two plots that run simultaneously. Maribeth knows attorney John Delilah (and adores the tongue-tied, homely man). Amy works for him. Marvin will finally meet John, although John’s love for and relationship to Amy is hidden by circumstance from Marvin. Actually, no one in the book realizes that John’s Amy is also Marvin’s Amy...except Anselm and his team. We won't go there in this discussion, however. :) :)
So splitting the book in two is really a plot device, and it works.

The second reason for splitting the print edition is economics. Publishing a single 350-400 page book through Createspace would have brought their minimum charge to over $10.00/unit. At that cost I would have been forced to price it at $15.00-$16.00 in order to receive a decent royalty. I’m then competing with James Patterson, Stephen King, et. al.

Patrick Sean Lee is “unknown” in the world of novel writing, except for those several hundred who have gone in to buy Dear Diary and Checkmate at Amazon (thank you!). If Book One does well, then those buyers who I captured with Marvin will go back and pay the additional money to see the end of his quest…which I will hint is quite unexpected.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Frustration

Where did January go?
I watched with excitement as Diary continued to sell well at Amazon KDP, and Checkmate began to move up in sales (where is that smiley-face key?). So I'm all in a dither to complete Purgatorio and get it up.
Now I have no idea how Diary actually looks on an e-reader 'cuz I don't have one. I use Amazon's Cloud Reader to view it when I log in there. Maybe I should reformat Purgatorio when I put it up? If I ever finish it?
I'm buzzing, too, because a new idea hits me. It will only take a few hours to go on over to Createspace and do Marvin in trade paperback! I put Purgatorio on hold for at most a day or two. I open an account at Createspace and begin. You must go through several steps. Create Title, a few more easy ones, and then upload...a cover. Laz did a great one for me when I put it up at Bookrix, and so I upload that one. The twirly thing twirls on my screen, and then up comes the message..."This won't work, buddy." I can't remember what the issue was. But that's okay, they provide the option of building a cover using one of their stock designs. I use that, and it's great. I'm four hours in by then.
File upload. I do it. The auto-process reviews it, and then tells me I have several issues. Basically margins. My text is way outside the page, especially at the gutter.
Val created The Man Who Lost His Genius and Other Stories. She signed and gave me a copy, and it came out beautifully. I call her. Help! I send her my file and she creates a brand new doc, which I upload, preview, and okay. I'm a bit shocked, though, because I broke The Redemption of Marvin Fuster into two books, Part One and Part Two (upcoming). The proof arrives for Part One...450 pages! Not only looooooong, I had to price it at $12.95 in order to make a few dollars/copy royalty. The worst, though. The text looks like a poem, not a novel. Cringe. Outside margins are about 1-1/2"; same at the gutter. I can't put this up for sale, lol. Not only THAT, I begin reading it in its paperback form and spot a gazillion errors. Way, way too many commas (I fight them when I write). I'm turning British, I think I'm turning British, I really think so...

It's horrible from this point on. I go back in to Createspace and begin again, finding a free template to upload the doc into (after correcting the punctuation dilemma to my satisfaction--half a dozen hours worth of work). Don't end a sentence with a preposition.

Upload. Preview. Crap. Do it all again because the margins are STILL f-ed up. I try everything to correct them, but my WordforMac is a bit different than Windows Word. Plus I do drop caps and indent manually, and on and on, and the whole thing starts to go down the toilet with each change. Do you have any idea how long it takes to hit the space key for every single paragraph in a sixty-thousand word document? The tab key sometimes indents twenty, sometimes ten, so I decide to block format and do eight. I call Createspace and explain. They're nice, and tell me what to do.
It doesn't work. It's still that bloody gutter that won't cooperate. A few days ago, after over two weeks worth of work, I upload again, and the book looks pretty fabulous, except that the right hand page has half a letter intruding into their recommended gutter line. I want to kill my computer! Truthfully, I want to kill myself for being so technology dumb.
I look at that latest preview a hundred times. Should I go for it and hope the print version is acceptable--I mean, half a letter! Should I break down and hire one of their team to create the whole book? I should, but the phone bill needs to be paid.
I finally click, "Save".
In a week or so the new proof will arrive. IF it's goofy-looking I'll go back to square one and bite the bullet. Have their team reformat it for me so that at least it LOOKS like T.C. Boyle or John Irving sat down and created the book. Do they have these problems I wonder?
"No, stupid. Our publisher knows what he's doing when it comes to creating The Tortilla Curtain and A Prayer For Owen Meany."
Oh yeah, that's right.

And all this time Terence and Teresa are stuck outside the city, waiting for me to get them to the climax and denouement.
Crap.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Yikes...It's Friday!

I received this, this morning. I chuckled. Liz Jasper's book is very good..okay should be ranked above mine. I'm okay with that. But look who they put below me! Yep, Stephen King, my hero! Well, truthfully, I think I've been writing longer than him :) I've hesitated buying his latest book, but I dunno'...maybe I will. Good Lord, look what he's priced it at! He must have a better agent than I have, lol.

"Of course you're not going to put it up for $.99, Stephen. Are you nuts? Do you seriously think you can pay your rent GIVING away your brilliant work? You go write. I'll take care of the marketing for you...

"What?

"No, no, no. I just told you. Go do what you do best. Just WRITE!"

***

Patrick Sean Lee,

Amazon.com has new recommendations for you based on items you purchased or told us you own.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Guest Blog Appearance

The world is a big place. The reading public is vast. I've been crazy curious lately about how others in the indie market are doing. Their experiences, successes and failures, dreams and dashings of hope.

I invited Nadine Hays Pisani to visit my blog and tell you about her particular, phenomenal success. Congratulations, Nadine...take it away.





Never, Never, Never Give In
I repeated Winston Churchill’s speech after each rejection I received from a publisher. Sometimes I screamed it; sometimes I softly repeated it under my breath. But I said it, again and again…because I knew they were wrong.
Deciding to put your work out there, without the guidance of a publisher is daunting. Just learning how to convert your Word file to an e-format (which inevitably transforms the manuscript into Egyptian hieroglyphics) can send one cowering in a dark closet. But this is when one must dig deep, and this is where I repeated Churchill’s speech over and over again in my head.
When I released Happier Than A Billionaire: Quitting My Job, Moving to Costa Rica, & Living the Zero Hour Work Week, I was happy if I sold a few a month. I wanted someone to read my work, laugh at it, and make someone’s commute on the subway a little lighter. Technology had made it possible for me to get my work out so why wouldn’t I want to try this avenue? It seemed ridiculous that I should follow a publishing model that was slowly becoming obsolete. Either I was going to be ahead of the curve, or fall behind. So I took the leap and uploaded it to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.
After a couple months, I realized I was selling a lot. It was nice, but still had no expectations of anything more than that. Then CNN called (okay, they emailed me, but for dramatic purposes pretend I have a receiver to my ear). A reporter loved the book, and wanted to profile me on CNN.com.
Yes…it happened. I know because I quickly collapsed on my bed and started to dry heave. Apparently, I respond to good news like one does after a night of Jagermeister shots.
After that article, my book shot up to number one in three Amazon categories. It was a dizzying time for me, since I was never number one in anything. It seemed as if overnight I became a writer, something I was sure I was all along. The people decided it, not a literary agent overloaded with 300 query letters in their inbox.
However, there were bumps in the road. I had to take down the book and hire an editor to proofread it. No matter how many times you read your manuscript, or have your friends look for errors, nothing replaces a professional. Trust me on this. I ignored this advice and felt horrible that I sold copies that were not given the 100% attention it deserved.
I often wonder if I bought into the old model and waited for a publisher to decide whether I was worthy. It’s a good thing I didn’t and it’s a good thing I never gave in. I’m already working on my second book, this time with links to pictures and videos.
Technology opened a door for me, and I walked through it. It’s pretty good on the other side, perhaps you should join me.
Nadine was born in Elizabeth New Jersey and attended Rutgers University. She lives in Costa Rica with her husband and dog, Clementine. When not writing, you can find her at the beach, on the back of a scooter, or frantically tossing scorpions out of her bed. She shares her weekly adventures on her blog: www.happierthanabillionaire.com


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