Brown River Queen cover art

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Little Things

Writing is a solitary pursuit.  There is me.  There is the keyboard.  There are dogs, and desks, and chairs.

But mostly there is a lot of silence, some eye-rubbing, some frowning.  All that is interspersed with furious spates of typing, followed by more frowning, stabs at the DELETE key, and then it's back to silence and eye-rubbing.

Rinse and repeat until you hit 100,000 words.  Then start all over with the editing, which looks just like the writing except for the muttering and the scribbling of cryptic notes on a paper notepad beside the keyboard.

My point is that it's easy to forget why, exactly, you're hunched over a keyboard for hours on end.  I get so wrapped up in the process, sometimes, that I forget all about the most important part of the scene, which is of course the reader.  Sneaky of me, wasn't it, to never mention the reader?

Because all this eye-rubbing and typing is nothing -- less than nothing -- if no one ever reads the book.

But people do.  I just got an email, minutes ago, from a reader who just finished the most recent Markhat book, The Banshee's Walk.

This intrepid soul finished Banshee while they sat in a rental car on a hill in Hawaii, waiting for the tsunami to hit the coast.

I'm not a big fan of the water.  The nearest coast is more than 400 miles from me, and that's just the way I like my coasts. Because if I was anywhere near the beach and I heard a rumor of a rumor that a wave more than knee-high was on the way, I'd be hijacking planes and heading for the Himalayas before you can say 'run-on sentence.'

So for me to learn that someone out there chose to read 'The Banshee's Walk' while nature threw a deadly temper tantrum across half the planet, well, I am deeply and profoundly touched.

So thanks for the email, Mo.  I am thrilled that you like the Markhat books, and I'm honored that you or anyone for that matter devotes some of their time to read the things I write.

It makes all the scribbling and the muttering truly worthwhile.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Ghost of Freddy Jackson

People ask me things all the time.  Mostly it's "Why did you just run over me?" or "Don't you think you've had enough to eat?", but sometimes I'm asked about things that go bump in the night.

No, not that.  Get your minds out of the gutter.  I'm talking matters paranormal here.  Specifically, ghosts.

Do I believe in ghosts?

No.  Or yes.  It's too early to say.  Because what I do believe in is evidence.

And there are solid pieces of evidence which appear to support the supposition that deceased persons do indeed make the infrequent visit to this side of the veil.  I'd like to discuss just one such piece of evidence now, which is a photograph taken in 1919 that may depict the face of one Freddy Jackson, deceased but notably not absent.

Freddy Jackson was a soldier in the British Royal Air Force in World War I.  He served as a mechanic, maintaining combat aircraft aboard the HMS Daedalus.

Freddy didn't die in battle; instead, he had the (rather common) misfortune to walk into a moving airplane propeller.  He died, and was buried, and that should have been the end of his tragic if all too common tale.

But on the day Freddy Jackson was laid to rest, his squadron mates assembled for a group photo.  No one noticed anything out of the ordinary until after the photograph was presented back to the squadron.

They quickly realized that Freddy Jackson's face is there among them, plain and clear.

The photo is below.  Freddy's face has been enlarged; he appears to be peering out from behind one of his fellows.  The men of the squadron were adamant that the face is that of Freddy Jackson, deceased, who was being laid to rest when the photo was taken.

I've found nothing to contradict their assertion.  And remember, this was 1919.  Photoshop was sixty-plus years away.  Photography itself was a cumbersome art, and while fakery was indeed being practiced it was usually obvious and often clumsy.

This image is neither.

Is it the face of a dead man, returned to join his squadron for one last time?

I simply don't know.  But I find it intriguing.  More than intriguing.  It may even be suggestive of a phenomena beyond the realm of traditional science.

What do you think?  Do you have odd photos or ghost stories of your own?  If you do, and you'd like to share them, email me!  I love ghost stories, and I won't breathe a word of it here, if you ask that your experiences be kept quiet.

That's all for today.  The Secret Writing Project is proceeding nicely.  Ask me what that is too, but know that I won't tell!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Glenn Beck, Man of Intellect and Wit!

I don't listen to Glenn Beck or Fox News for much the same reason I don't shove sharp pointy things in my ears -- it hurts, and it serves no good purpose.

Even so, a headline sneaks through sometimes, as happened just now.  "Glenn Beck: Japan Earthquake might be a message from God."

First of all, Glenn needs to check his boundaries, because making ludicrous, asinine statements ascribing mass deaths to a petulant deity is Pat Robertson's territory.  Robertson is probably not happy that Beck beat him to the punch, and he might just decide to get himself a chalkboard and start scribbling nonsense about Masons and the Trilateral Commission on it in a tit-for-tat retaliation that could lead to a <gasp> Chalkboard Showdown of the Paranoid Delusions!.  Okay, that might actually be funny, especially if someone out there made a mashup video out of them going at it laid over a Nine Inch Nails song backtrack.

Seriously, though -- ten thousand people are dead, a nation lies in ruins, and Glenn Beck wants to gloat and make scary noises about divine wrath?

Glenn, I know you're not a big fan of bad ol' Science, but you might want to Google the Interwebs someday for 'Ring of Fire' or 'tectonics' or heck even 'Remedial Geology.'  You'd look less stupid.  And you could certainly stand a reduction in Stupid, pal.

I simply don't understand the popularity of Beck and his porcine running buddies.  Rush Limbaugh?  A huge fat oxy-addict with obvious insecurity issues and the brains of a fruit-bat.  Hannity?  A noxious little wisp of flatulence right out of Limbaugh's massive nether regions.

Why does anyone waste their time listening to these prancing imbeciles blather?

Beck's time at Fox is obviously on the wane.  That alone says something -- when Fox News hints that maybe your grip on reality is slipping, it's got to be because you just showed up in the studio with a live stingray strapped to your head and lit fireworks stuffed up your pants while you swallow live snakes and claim to be Batman.

Even then, I think you could get a pass, if your ratings were good enough.  It certainly hasn't stopped  Bill O'Reilly, who thinks tides are inexplicable, unpredictable supernatural events, and that each and every sunrise is a random chance event.

So why does it bother me that an idiot such as Glenn Beck spouts nonsense about the tragedy in Japan?

First of all, because it's a stupid thing to say, especially when people are hurting.  And people are hurting, Mr. Beck.  But I guess that doesn't mean anything to you since they aren't Fox viewers.

Next, it bugs me because I know that despite the blatant and profound idiocy of the statement, people out there were spitting tobaccy into their Dixie cups and nodding in beady-eyed agreement.  And that bothers me because these people breed.  We have enough stupid people already, thanks. We don't need another million trailer parks full of them.

Finally, it bugs me because Beck is actually getting paid to spew odious crap such as that.  The man gets a check.  Granted, no matter how much the check is for, it isn't enough to buy him brains, but still.  Stupidity should never be rewarded -- certainly not with talk shows or public forums.

In the end, it doesn't matter what Beck said.  Morons say moronic things, and the Japanese are neither helped nor hindered by some wild-eyed crying idiot sputtering into a microphone half a world away.

But still.  Why so many ignorant voices?

Oh.  Fox.

Never mind.