Indies First!

YA author Eric Devine and I will be at Market Block Books in Troy, NY for the Indies First program on Small Business Saturday, November 29, adding writerly rum to the nog.

We’ll be greeting customers, helping holiday shoppers find good books, signing our own novels, and just pitching in. Please come see us and support a local bookstore this holiday season. I might remind you that you cannot meet dashing, early-middle-aged authors at an online megastore.

indies

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Sleep Aches

FullSizeRenderWriting: I’ve figured out the high-level plot and done most of the essential research, so now I’m taking it chapter by chapter, conjuring all the major and minor beats, structures, and details. Working on chapter 6 today.

Weather: Slushworld

Personal: My middle-age aches — sore knee, shoulder blade prone to muscle seizure — in fact may have been caused by a lumpy fifteen-year-old mattress and a broken box spring. If scorpions had nested in the sheets, I would not have slept worse. Last week we got a Sleep Number bed, because it was affordable (and gloriously reviewed by Consumer Reports), and it’s been a very good three nights of sleep so far. No aches.

I won’t know for a few weeks if the old bed was truly causing the pain – though it’s suspicious that my aches were all on my left side — but I’m hopeful. I’ve wanted to exercise my legs to strengthen my weak knee, but couldn’t exercise my legs because of my bad knee. In sum, this bed could be a fountain of youth.

I’m still experimenting with the firmness setting. I’m a side-sleeper, so I’m supposed to go softer for proper support. My ideal number seems to be in the 55-65 range. It makes me feel wimpy, to be honest. I imagined myself to be a 100% firmness type of guy, as if I’d really prefer to sleep on corrugated iron.

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BELL WEATHER Catalog Cover

The BELL WEATHER tree looks snazzy on the cover of the Henry Holt spring catalog.

hh copy

Writing: I’m having a surprisingly hard time inventing the right name for a woodsy native character in the BELL WEATHER sequel.

Nature: Early dark is affecting my mood for the worse. Dare I consider an early-morning routine? I’ve been night-owling for a few seasons and might need to change things up.

Personal: Got the holiday porch lights up and listened to half of a Christmas song on the radio, because even though it’s early for all that, what the hey.

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Station Eleven

11An apocalypse novel that’s more love letter than death wish. The pandemic’s depiction is chilling, and the visions of life before and after are vivid and heartrending. I loved how the story jumped from hints of disaster to global ruin in a quick thirty pages, then alternated back and forth, allowing the past and future to coexist, just as they coexisted in the minds of the survivors. Nostalgic quiet hangs over everything. It made me want to hang onto things more, and made me feel better about letting things go. Sad, wonderful book.

Bach on Mandolin

Writing: A scattered week, but I made some decent headway — enough so that I don’t feel stressed today.

Nature: Waiting for the wet yard leaves to sun-dry so I can mulch them with the lawnmower.

Personal: I drank a glass of imperial pumpkin stout, and it tasted like pumpkin pie with a graham cracker crust, and nutmeg, and vanilla, and hints of chocolate, and some kind of holiday cookie with cream, all melted together into a beer, and it was just too much and I really wouldn’t recommend it.

Attack of a Boar Hunting Hound

Circle of Paulus de Vos Flemish, 1700's Attack of a Boar Hunting Hound

Circle of Paulus de Vos Flemish, 1700′s Attack of a Boar Hunting Hound

Writing: I’m going to compress two years in my characters’ lives into one year to make the story more urgent.

Nature: Overcast, warm, yellow-leaved.

Personal: Attending last night’s WWE event with my son was a blast. Two cage matches, good times. Also my cold is getting better.

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Muffat’s Passacaglia on Vinyl

Writing: Taking a bird’s eye view of my new plot yesterday was a good idea. I see the major holes now and know where to focus.

Nature: Bones found some extremely interesting scent trail in the leaf-strewn yard today. It was more than mere squirrels, though I know not what.

Personal: Taking our son to see WWE tonight. We’re real excited.

muffatYesterday I received a pristine vinyl copy of Georg Muffat’s Sonata No. 5, performed by the London Baroque. The “Passacaglia” movement is one of my favorite classical recordings ever. I played my MP3 version hundreds of times as a mental-centering piece in the years I was writing BELL WEATHER. I consider it the official theme of the novel’s main character, Molly Bell.

Scoring a vinyl copy is a real treat. Most classical labels abandoned vinyl once CDs gained traction in the marketplace, and although vinyl has been making a comeback in rock, pop, electronica, and hip hop, the format is prohibitively expensive for most classical labels, who simply don’t shift enough copies of anything. Because of this, it’s hard finding the classical vinyl I want, especially since I’m finicky. Performances vary hugely, so I might find a copy of another favorite composition, such as Corelli’s Opus 6 Concertos, and reject it because it’s dull, or slow, or played as a Romantic-era piece instead of with the crisper, bouncier spirit of real Baroque.

My point being: I tracked down a vinyl copy of my favorite recording of Muffat’s Sonata No. 5 and I’m super happy. The record sounds superb. (P.S. You can buy the MP3 version of the entire London Baroque album for $5.99 on iTunes.)

I can’t find my preferred version on YouTube, but here’s a pretty good alternative:

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Winter Landscape with Figures, 1785

winter

Winter Landscape with Figures by George Morland, 1785

Writing: Having a bird’s eye look at the plot of the BELL WEATHER sequel today, determining where I need to swoop back in.

Nature: We were supposed to have our first hard freeze last night, but it didn’t quite happen.

Personal: I have a cold.

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The American Nightmare

This is a terrific, insightful, eerie documentary about American horror movies, particularly the post-Vietnam game changers of the late 70s and early 80s. It focuses on the early, seminal work of Wes Craven, John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, Tobe Hooper, George Romero, and Tom Savini. Great use of Godspeed! You Black Emperor music along the way.

* Note: Very graphic and NSFW.

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