Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Post Five Decades in the Making

© packo michael | Dreamstime Stock Photos
I turn 50 tomorrow.

The rational part of me realizes any birthday is simply an arbitrary and entirely artificial milestone that has no relevance beyond the realm of cheesy birthday cards. My fiftieth birthday? It's just a number. I'll be no different tomorrow than I am today, on any meaningful level.

The irrational part of me (roughly 89% of my makeup) is running in panicked circles screaming bloody murder because I may no longer count myself among the young.

Sadly, I resemble both images.
Face it, man, when you start getting those AARP membership forms every couple of weeks, the needle on your YOUTHFUL TIME REMAINING METER just fell into the red, hit the zero, spat gears, and started smoking.

Too, I'm attracting a lot of interest from buzzards lately. I get the feeling they're eyeing me with regards to how much oregano they need to have handy.

© Odm | Dreamstime Stock Photos
So what do weigh? 190? 200? Just asking, no reason...

Of course there are upsides to growing older. Really, there are. I'll list them all below:
  • Yep. Ought to be something written here.
  • Here too.
  • This is a lot harder than it looks.
  • I give up.
Now, if anyone wants to give me a birthday present, go to Amazon and review one of my books if you haven't already. Especially Brown River Queen. That would be so awesome of you I'd start rocking faster in my squeaky old rocking chair.

Grim reminders of impending mortality aside, I do have one bit of news for Markhat fans. Drumroll and fireworks please:

The first draft of the new Markhat novel, currently entitled THE FIVE FACES, is finished!

Finished. Done. Complete. Yes, it's only a first draft, but it is done.

The village mob seems pleased.

Now, if anyone believes that a completed first draft is subjected to a cursory spell-check and then shipped straight to the printer, I have bad news. Because that's not at all how the process works. 

This first draft, beloved though it is, is flawed. Deeply flawed. It's full of typos and poorly-chosen words and scenes that don't work and plot holes I can nearly shove my old-man electric mobility scooter through. 

My work on it is far from done.  

I'll start by doing a cold read, beginning to end, making notes as I go. Then I'll address plot holes and big issues. Once that's done, I start again, this time looking for scenes that don't work. Again, to check dialog. 

Then again with spelling and word choice.  

By this time, I'll be so sick of the book I'll need to pass it off to my fearless beta reader Kellie, who will wade into the fray and no doubt laugh at my authorial shortcomings.

Only after that will the completed manuscript get anywhere near an editor, because A) I'd rather publishing industry professionals not realize the true depth of my incompetence and B) See A.

But, even with all the work that goes into editing and revising, completing that first draft is all-important. Without the first draft, without all its warts and faults, there can never be a final book.

So, as I look back on a half-century of life, I can at least say I wrote a few books. I hope people have enjoyed them. 

Well, I'm off to start the edits. Here's to another fifty years of avoiding prosecution!

Cheers, all. Have a good week!


  1. Congrats. On both 50 and the draft. The good news is that today you are alive. Tomorrow you will be alive and 50. Important things to NOT change: State of being alive.

    Keep getting older. Tell yourself you are aging as a fine wine does--and only getting better.

    Keep writing because I need more good books.

    Last, but not least: Happy Birthday, Frank!!!

  2. Glad you are alive still to write more Markhat books also that you have 50 wonderful years of experience to draw on to write more Markhat books.... ;)

    That age thing happens to the best and the worst of us alike cos we are linear beings (vide DS9) may you walk the line for many more years to come (vide Johnny Cash)

    Happy Birthday Frank :)

    1. Thanks! I'd much rather be non-linear. But I suppose this is better than being a one-dimensional point.

  3. My crotchety auny sent me a birthday card when I turned 40 and she wrote, "Well, at least you aren't turning 78." Best card ever.

    The hammock is hung and begging for the new book. I can't wait!!! And Happy Birthday!

    1. Won't be long now! Thanks for the birthday wishes!

  4. Happy Birthday, Frank! And congrats on finishing that draft.

    Am I correct in thinking that you are the poet responsible for this ancient yellowing manuscript I found when sorting out Stuff the other day? Methinks it may be your secret for such prolific writing...


    1) Draw magic circle, include copyright "C" just within perimeter.

    2) Leave opening in circle; opening should face Scribners and Sons (New York). Enter circle, bearing bag of Sacred Relics. Close circle while chanting, "Alas, didn't quite work for me."

    3) Remove Sacred Relics from bag, pronouncing the name of each ("Twenty pound bond paper, non-erasable, blessed is thy high rag content. Nine by twelve envelope, cursed be thy clasp. SASE, IRC, SASE, and done!") Place Relics inside circle.

    4) Open even-numbered issue of Speculations to pro market listings. Read aloud while turning widdershins; stamp right foot on each listed reporting time.

    5) When done, place open Speculations on your head and recite the following:

    "By Heinlein and Asimov,
    Niven and Card,
    I banish you not-writes,
    not-nows and too-hards!
    Zelazny, Zelazny, Zelazny!"

    6) Gather your Relics, open the circle, and write for four hours. And take the Speculations off your head before you go out, or people will wonder.


    1. Terry --

      I had completely forgotten about that! those were indeed the days. The Speculations Era will never be equaled...