And a brief aside about what I’ve been up to before I talk about the important stuff, the food. As you all know, I’ve been in a flurry of activity finishing up my latest book and prepping the new website, just this morning I finished scheduling the serial posts of 42 chapters, one or two each week for a while to come. Plus analysis of each piece, mind you. Lots of stuff to read once the site launches.
It’s keeping me busy. The official launch is on the 28th of June, just day or two from now. Keep an eye peeled; the link will appear here as if by magic.
Well, I needed some downtime from all those chores, so I went into town with my kid today and we sat down at a favorite local eatery and I opened the menu, looking for something new.
Just a few days ago a friend was talking about an establishment in Australia that I won’t be able to visit, as it is closing. He waxed poetic about a sandwich called the croque madame, and I wanted one. I needed one. But I thought I could not have one.
Lo and behold I was wrong.
This quirky little restaurant just added one to the menu. I pounced.
When it came out, it looked and smelled amazing. Seriously. Good quality bread with a generous slice of ham. A perfectly proportioned slather of mustard and white sauce. Homemade chips (crisps). An obviously quality fried egg perched on top, Swiss cheese, good Lord.
As an aside, you can always tell a quality egg. Not important? I beg to differ! A good egg is first of all fresh, not sitting around in Walmart for a month. Second, the yolk must be firm and well-defined. Finally, the colors should be vivid, vibrant, and not pale or in any way off.
Later Alligator uses quality eggs. You should too. But I digress.
The help and service was good, as always, and I couldn’t wait to try this open-faced sandwich out.
For a change I didn’t need to add any salt at all, it was perfect as-is. Firm. A hint of spice. Crispy where it should have been, and the egg was cooked just right.
The flavors, the quality, all just right.
It was very satisfying, and an enjoyable experience. I realize that Wheeling, WV is a bit out of the way for almost everyone, and it’s hardly a tourist destination. But if you are ever on endless Route 70 headed somewhere, then it’s worth your while to get off of the highway and find Center Market and Later Alligator.
The croque madame is great, and they specialize in unconventional crepes.
I have yet to have anything that was less than great on the menu.
This is kind of an exciting screenshot. I know it doesn’t look like much, but something I’ve put a lot of thought and time into lately has been the launch of my new subscription website; I’ve nearly finished the first book in an unpublished trilogy.
The trilogy, which is tentatively named “The Promised Land,” is meant to be 100% exclusive to my pay site; only the readers who sign on get to see what’s behind the curtain.
This is the first time I publicly release something other than samples; it has been 2017 since the release of my last book.
Oh, as most of you know, I’ve been writing away this whole time. One problem was that I lost my old publisher, I guess those guys made things too easy for me. Expensive, mind you, but easy.
So, here’s the deal.
On the 28th of this month I am going to post a direct link to the site right here. I’ll also do it over on the Book of Face.
Lemme tell you what’s in the site. I’ll be up front about this, I totally emulated another fantastic subscription page for format; click here to check it out. JB’s page is pretty awesome, and it has delivered great content to fans/authors like me.
Here is how it’s set up. There are three tiers on the page.
Everyone who antes up gets the trilogy in serial fashion.
At three bucks (USD), that’s what you get. Steaming hot chapters as they come off the presses, and then Q and A with both me and other readers. This will probably work for most readers, and I’d be honored to have you aboard. Seriously. Something I really look forward to is having reader feedback and interaction, that’s actually one of my favorite parts of JB’s site.
The five dollar (USD) tier is for those who wish to take the interaction to the next level, not only do you get the chapters, but you get my take on them as well. We can sit there and slice and dice the narrative. In Army terms you get to sit in on the AAR, or after action review. Should be a lot of fun.
Finally, there is the ten dollar (USD tier. There are only ten of these slots available; why? Because at ten bucks you get to name a character whatever you choose (within reason). Gift a family member a character name, or put yourself in the book. It’s your choice. And if you PM me with something you’ve written, I’ll see if I can slide it into the books somewhere.
So, there you have it.
My first public release of new stuff in four years.
The website has already been prepped; there are five chapters waiting to start things off, along with analysis.
On the 28th of June, the link will appear here.
Short of an asteroid falling on my head, or a horrible fiery car crash, this is going to happen.
OK, it’s almost never a good idea to punch a wall.
There. I’ve said it. Having once been an adolescent male, though, I will admit to having done so a few times. Seriously stupid; especially when dealing with old-fashioned plaster and lathe or brick. All you are asking for is pain and a serious injury.
So why am I talking about this.
Alright, today we’re going to have a “writer’s journey” discussion. As you all may be aware, I have started in on another trilogy, and the premise is solid. Enjoyable. Somewhat novel. I am deeply into the first book in the planned trilogy, I’m hanging out at Chapter Twenty-Seven.
And there I’ve been sitting for about a week. Usually I don’t stop writing until a book is done, then and only then do I take time off.
Well, that’s not been the case this time around. This book has been challenging to write for a couple of reasons.
First, I am building a universe from scratch. But that’s not such a thing, I’ve done this before.
Second, my outline is insufficient. Yeah, it’s a guide, but I simply can’t follow it as usual.
Finally, I think I’m having trouble maintaining tension in the narrative toward the close of Book One. This is not a good place to be when you are supposed to be experiencing an acceleration both as the author and the reader. Instead, I feel dead in the water.
So therefore the “punching walls” theme of this week’s post. My writing at the moment feels nearly as painful and pointless.
I know it’s an illusion. I know it’s BS. But still.
Not so long ago a friend and mentor gave me the sound advice to simply skip over a point in the narrative that you think is holding you up on project completion. He’s probably right, and here pretty soon I may do just that.
But I look at the work as it stands and I think “I can win this. Don’t be a weenie.”
Boy, is it a good thing that I don’t have a real deadline for all of this, or I’d be in a pickle. Now, don’t get me wrong. There kind of is a deadline; I want to launch my Patreon page in November, and this book is the lead-off to the exclusive material that’ll be featured there.
But know this! It hasn’t come without a struggle. I want to produce stuff that doesn’t SUCK. Work that’s readable. Coherent.
Alright, I’ve mapped out the whole trilogy, and I’ve known from the get-go that Book One was going to give me the worst fight. I really hate to be right.
I know that I haven’t adequately explained. I kind of can’t, because the premise is close-hold.
The problem is one of antagonists. In the first book, the enemy is circumstance. In the second book, the enemy is nature of a sort. The third book? Human conflict. The second and third books, I have the antagonists nailed. But in the first book- well, using circumstance as the enemy per se is novel to me. Difficult, challenging. It works, I think, but it involves a bit of thought and care.
So that’s why I’m punching-walls frustrated. Because this has not been easy.
You know what, though?
Tough, I tell my inner wall-puncher. Tough. Deal with it, man-up and grow as an author.
Learn from adversity.
Produce something worthwhile.
That’s one of the few bullet-points of my original plan that has survived contact with the enemy per se.
Make fun, readable stuff.
Way easier said than done. I’ll leave that for you all to judge come November.
Another excerpt from the novel I’m working on for my Patreon fans-only website.
The Interview (Sometime in 2090)
“I am sorry for the inconvenience, Mr. Johnstone, but XXXX requires a physical interview for authorization.”
Joe’s neck and shoulder ached. He could feel his back stiffen as he sat in the flexor chair, every breath was a chore. He spoke.
“I understand, machine. You need me in this room for a good look over with the Mark One eyeball.”
The expensive intelligence cocked her head. She laughed.
“We haven’t heard that phrase in a while, Mr. Johnstone.”
“It’s been a while since I used it.”
The intelligence smiled. Joe noted that she was very well made, he could barely see through her and there was no trace of a flicker. Nice work, he thought.
She spoke. “Please do call me Angelique. I prefer that, as well as the pronoun “she.””
Joe closed his eyes for a second. He opened them. “Anything you like, Angelique.”
“I see here that you were born on the 5th of July, 1982. Is this correct?”
Joe rubbed his nose. If she were a real woman, he would have picked up on some sort of scent. Something. As it was, the room smelled of rubbing alcohol with a slight tang of ozone. He answered and felt slightly ridiculous to be speaking to what was really a projection and a wall.
“You know it is.”
“We do have to observe the formalities, Mr. Johnstone. Or do you prefer Joseph or Joe?”
“I prefer Joe.”
“May I call you that?”
“Sure. Why not.”
“Just so that I can confirm a few data points, may I ask you a series of questions?”
“That’s why I’m here, right?”
“I do need your permission, Joe.”
The machine blinked. Then she smiled.
“Oh, you mean “go ahead.””
“Alright. Shall we begin?”
“Yes.” Joe’s back hurt. He shifted. Angelique noticed.
“Shall I ask your granddaughter to bring in your analgesics? We’ll be here for a while.”
“It should be alright.” He didn’t fully trust the drugs, even though he had been medicated for many decades. The machine nodded.
“My first question. When were you married?”
“After I made E-5. 2007.”
“I have your wife’s name and statistics. I am sorry for your loss.”
Joe closed his eyes. No, you’re not, he thought. But why be rude? “Thank you.”
“What color were her eyes?”
Joe’s eyes snapped open. “What?”
“What color were her eyes?”
“Blue. How is this relevant?”
“Everything is relevant.”
Angelique nodded. “Just so you know, you are covered by our non-disclosure agreement. It went into effect the moment you crossed the threshold into this room. I have the same legal rights and privileges as your counselor at Veteran’s Affairs.”
Joe furrowed his face. “How much do you know about me?”
“Very little. Just official statistics and data. But if we agree to go through with this procedure, I will know everything.”
Angelique morphed into Doctor French, his counselor at the VA. She had retired decades ago. He cried out.
“Did I startle you?” Doctor French’s face twisted in just that wry way…
“Please change back, Angelique.”
The machine complied. She spoke.
“When did you first watch a launch of a XXXX ship?”
“Our predecessor agency was known as SpaceX.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right. Sometime in the tens.”
“What did you feel as you watched the ship ascend?”
Joe remembered seeing the red car in space. He answered.
“It was, I dunno, inspiring.”
“Had you written your first book by then?”
“Yeah. 2012. When I retired from the Army.”
“Why did you shoot that man in the back?”
Joe shot forward. His body screamed at him. He answered, his voice flat.
All of this, readers, will be available to you when I launch November timeframe. I’ll probably do like John Birmingham’s site with two tiers, two bucks and four bucks. Two for the basic serial, and four for the extra cool-guy stuff. Analysis, etc.
Who knows, maybe I launch a five bucks tier where your name gets put in the series. But I don’t know yet. It’s all still up in the air, except for the writing.
Right now I’m at Chapter 25 of the first novel, so I definitely hope to have the rough draft of the trilogy done by launch date- and you, my readers, can help me shape the final. Can interact, can read along.
It’s going to be fun, and I’m really looking forward to it!