Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 30


Now comes the hard work.
The revision and rewrites.

I actually wrote a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. How many days (weeks, months, years?) of editing and polishing will it take before I feel sufficiently confident to submit the final manuscript -- to set in motion the process of getting the novel published?

Who knows?


Monday, November 29, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 29

Tomorrow at midnight ends NaNoWriMo. Below I am posting only a short excerpt from the plethora of Day 28 and 29's garbage dump of words, the useless, meaningless, and only loosely associated with the story words. Even though they were all counted for purposes of validation, there is no reason I have to humiliate myself by exposing them here to public view.

Day 29

**Earlier there had been a scene in which Nicole and David were attacked by thugs and overcame great odds, exhibiting their superior fighting skill. After the fight scene David and Nicole went to David's home. **

Special Agent in Charge, David Sawyer, out in the kitchen preparing hot chocolate, is making a terrible racket with the rattle of cups and saucers and banging together of pots and pans. Field Agent Nicole London smiles at the noise as she sits on the sofa in the living room... and thinks.

She realizes and is finally forced to admit to herself that she is beginning to have romantic feelings for David. Such feelings, especially such strong emotional stirrings were a new experience for her. And startling.

She had made it through high school intact as the old folks used to say... a virgin at college entry, but not upon graduation... the proverbial college jock who had taken care of seeing to that was a hard bodied, hard driven, hard nosed, and extremely hard headed dope.

Oh, he had made a great show of doing all the things a sensitive guy is supposed to do for a girl, but Nicole easily saw, a bit too late, that this was merely a sham. He was, she'd discovered in the end, just as two-faced as were every one of the college men she'd dated.

But now, more than five years after graduation, David Sawyer had eased into her life. And two-faced he was not. At least he didn't appear to be. This man, nearly ten years her senior, seemed to be sincere and straightforward, in everything he did.

David had the face of a man who had weathered much adversity, with only a few frown lines, or possibly care lines on his wide forehead, a couple of them somewhat deep, and a long, hollowed out, curving vertical line bordering each of the corners of his mouth. His hair was dark, nearly as black as her own, but without the raven's silvery sheen she'd so often been complimented on. David's eyes also matched hers, deep brown with copper flakes surrounding the irises. He had a nice nose, she thought, not too large and not too small. Just right, she decided. His mouth, similarly was just right, perfectly fitted to the rest of his countenance. Lips? Yes; they were just right, not too full and not too thin.

His was not the trim, tight, and physically fit body of an athlete, but you could tell that he took care of himself. Probably ate all the right foods, exercised regularly, did not smoke tobacco, and drank liquor moderately, or not at all,

Nicole remembered how, just a few hours earlier, David had fought so valiantly beside her. He was, for lack of a better phrase, a real man's man. She recalled reading a line of text recently that stated: "It's a fact of life that conflict works to bond people together, and sometimes it does it in a romantic way."

Is that it? she thought. Is it the daily life or death struggle the two of us share that has made me start to think these thoughts?


Later, David and Nicole sat together side by side on the sofa in the living room. He had prepared and carried in brimming cups of steaming hot chocolate for the two of them. Then he poured from the package a handful of delicate looking Pepperidge Farms cookies onto a china plate he had placed in the center of the coffee table.

At one point, after a few sips from her cup of delicious chocolate drink, Nicole reached toward the plate just at the exact instant that David too reached for one of the cookies. Her hand brushed his. She lifted the dainty cookie to her mouth, scenting the pleasant aroma of it's brown baked dough and feeling the softened creamy texture as it touched her lips.

She hesitated.

The brief touch of her hand against his had been nothing more than an accidental momentary contact. That's all. She knew that full well. So, why then should the memory of that quick coming together--his coarser male skin against her softer female flesh--affect her like this?

Like this? Like how? Like, well, like a momentary wave of slight disorientation.

It was not the graceful swoon of the giddy young girls so ridiculously depicted in the Victorian novels. Nicole had always held such blatant machinations with utmost scorn.

I wonder, she thought, if David felt anything. Or did he even notice? He had never indicated even a hint of feeling attracted to Nicole. Or for any woman, as far as that goes.

David was nibbling one of the cookies, and Nicole smiled as she saw that he held a paper napkin under it, being meticulously careful to not drop crumbs onto the sofa or onto the carpet.

Nicole became aware that she was still holding her own wafer between her lips. She bit off a small morsel and pressed the crumbling bits of it up against the roof of her mouth with her tongue, and was immediately caught up in the sweetness and its surprising contrast with some other mysterious flavor.

"Mmm," she murmured, "that is so good."

"My favorite," said David.

Nicole wondered why she had never before noticed how deep and mature his voice sounded.

" It's my favorite too... now," she said.

David looked at her smiling face, cocked his head to one side, and smiled back. "I'm glad."

The two of them sat looking into each other's eyes. For several minutes. Then...

Softly, Nicole quoted:

"Two souls with but a single thought,
two hearts that beat as one."

"Keats," he said.


The above scene was hard for me to write. And I am not sure it is effective in doing what I intended it to do, which was to (gently) introduce intimacy into the relationship of these two characters. I'm not sure I succeeded, and I would appreciate some opinions on this from anyone who would care to contribute.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 28

The grueling grind is almost at an end, and I am winding down. Below is my plan for writing on this 28th day of NaNoWriMo:

Plan for this scene:

David Sawyer and Nicole London

They resolve an unexpected attack -- lots of action -- and then after winning the fight, they get together in the living room of David's home. They talk together, which is an opportunity to characterize both of them as well as describe their personal appearances and their backgrounds.

POV of Nicole:

Nicole is beginning to have romantic feelings for David. She made it through high school 'intact' as they used to say... a virgin at college entry, but not upon graduation... a college jock was her first lover. He was hard bodied, hard driven, hard nosed, and extremely hard headed. He did the things a sensitive guy would do for a girl, but Nicole could see that it was a sham. He was two faced, as were almost all the men she'd dated... Thankfully, David was not... at least he didn't seem to be. He seemed genuine, in everything he did.

David had the face of a man who had weathered much adversity, with only a few frown lines, or possibly 'care' lines on his wide forehead, a couple of them somewhat deep, and a long deep, curving vertical one bordering each of the corners of his mouth. His hair was dark, nearly as black as her own, but without the raven's silvery sheen she'd so often been complimented on. David's eyes also matched hers, deep brown with copper flakes surrounding the irises. He had a nice nose, she thought, not too large and not too small. Just right, she decided. His mouth, similarly was just right, perfectly fitted to the rest of his countenance. Lips? Yes; they were just right, not too full and not too thin.

His was not the trim, tight, and physically fit body of an athlete, but you could tell that he took care of himself. Probably ate all the right foods, exercised regularly, did not smoke tobacco, and drank liquor moderately, or not at all.


POV of David:

David had been surprised at London's fighting ability. He had known she was an efficient and well trained practitioner of the martial arts; her personnel file had told him that. But watching her in action, well, that was something to see. She was quick as a cat, streak of lightning fast. She had disarmed and disabled two of their attackers while he was still dealing with his first one. Then, after he had finally head butted his opponent into unconsciousness and felt the enormous weight of the final foe land on his back, Nicole waded in with a rapid upthrust knee to the groin, a flat knuckle right handed throat jab, sharp elbow to the midsection, and finishing it all off with a roundhouse kick to the side of the pug's gargantuan head.

You just have to admire a gal like that.


What comprises an intimate conversation between a man and a woman? Revealing an embarrassing event from the past? That time when you had a chance to do a remarkably good deed, but for one reason or another you passed it by and instead acted in a selfish manner, and you have relived that moment for all the years of your life (so far) since then?

This is what I want to do with the newly forming relationship between David Sawyer and Nicole London.

So... first I should think up and list some possible (subjectively horrific) events for each of them. Then I can choose the best from the list and compose my narrative and create some sort of appropriate, interactive dialogue.

The List

1. Reluctantly admits she has always felt responsible for her mother's suicide.
(a She wanted to play instead of doing her homework, sneaked off that day.
(b She was never a 'good little girl' but ran, yelled, and did dirty boy stuff.
2. ?

1. ?
2. ?


Okay... back to the actual seat of the pants writing now.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 26

Below is an excerpt from Day 26:
(only four days to go)

Young Abe Lincoln, after a full day of plowing and rail splitting, lay in front of the small cabin's fireplace with one leg propped upon the raised knobby knee of the other one, reading from The Life Of George Washington. Abe seemed to be ignoring the women talk of his step mother, Sarah and the visitor, the brown-skinned lady who had been introduced to him as Rosa Flores, a friend of the school teacher. On the puncheon floor beside Abe's long, skinny, reclining frame lay an opened bible, from which he would occasionally refer.

"Abraham is a hard working young man," Sarah said to Rosa, "but he just has not a lick of ambition. He's satisfied to come in after work every night and read and read; why, he borrows more books than a body can shake a stick at; I swear he does."

"Is that true, Master Lincoln?" Rosa asked. "You lack ambition?"

Abe looked up from his book and said, "I reckon so; can't much blame a fellow, though; what with all the cussedness and politicking and such that goes on in the world. Them oratin' firebrands sure don't need my backwoods opinions to serve as kindling for more disputes."

"Maybe you could grow up to be a lawyer and help set the country to rights."

"Sounds like a lot of work to me."

"You might even someday run for congress, or the senate... or maybe you could be elected president."

Abe laughed out loud, and then said, "That's a good one, Ma'am."

Sarah laughed too, and said, "Abraham Lincoln for President of the United States. That's a good one, all right. Yes sir. That's a mighty good joke you just told."

Rosa extended a tendril, and said, "President of the United States. Yes. Why not?"

"Ha Ha Ha!" laughed Abe.

"Heh, heh, heh," laughed Sarah.


When Rosa Flores entered the city bus in Montgomery, Alabama on December 1, 1955 she found there were no available seats in the front, in the 'white' section. She sat down in one of the seats in the 'colored' section, the back of the bus, even though she did not see herself as colored. She realized, however, that some of the other passengers would see her dark brown skin as 'not white,' and that her choice of seats was appropriate.

Rosa noticed that one of the seats in the forward section was occupied by a weary looking black woman, and she silently applauded the lady for her forward looking attitude regarding racial matters.

Rosa allowed herself the luxury of peeping into the other lady's thoughts, and discovered to her delight that the lady shared her own first name. The lady's name was Rosa Parks.

Just then a white man got on the bus and walked up to Rosa Parks and demanded that she give him her seat.

The lady's thoughts were crystal clear to Rosa Flores.

'I always got to pay my fare and then go around to the back door... because so many times, even when you do that, you might not get on the bus at all. The driver'd probably shut the door, drive off, and leave you standing there.'

Rosa Parks, in her mind debated whether to refuse to give up her seat to that white man or to just give in as usual. Parks was so tired of the treatment she and others of her race received every day of their lives, what with the racism, segregation, and Jim Crow laws of the time. Should she give in? Or should she not?

Rosa Flores extended a psychic tendril. A tiny push...

Rosa Parks did not give in. She 'sat her ground.'


Another ????


Martin Luther King, Jr. perhaps.


FDR ????


Friday, November 26, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 25

Day 25


Genna Greene... double agent. Works for David Sawyer as an agent and is also undercover agent for the group as she is (unknown by Sawyer) one of the evolved.

The members of the group routinely commit murder (though they call it 'eradication') and are never arrested for the murders because of absolute "hands off" dictates handed down from above... from HIGH above.

David Sawyer and Nicole London are aware of the group's proclivity for eradicating individuals without seeming cause, are repelled by the practice, but are restrained by the knowledge that any interference on their part will be dealt with immediately and with great efficiency (sudden accidental death by natural causes) by secret police forces controlled by the HIGH UPs.

Now... how in the hell am I going to present the above in a satisfactory yet entertaining manner?

End of Notes

Scene begins below:


Report M14A

Special Agent In Charge, David Sawyer
Field Agent Genna Greene


Having been recognized as a supposedly 'evolved' human being by the entire membership of 'the group' and having convinced them of my absolute loyalty by 'eradicating' a randomly selected but particularly obnoxious individual (ref: previous report L2Z re: 'Joe'), I am now in a position to more fully learn of the intention of the group leader, Pindar Balzac regarding his interference with the President of the United States' upcoming major announcement to the people of the world.

This announcement, as you already know, is the revelation that extraterrestrial aliens are indeed visiting the Earth as has been long suspected by the majority of citizens. But Pindar Balzac believes that the members of his group are attuned mentally (or perhaps via an evolved cell-based extra sense ) to some greater alien presence, a non-corporeal entity more powerful than any biologically based creature could ever become, whether human or humanoid. There are rumors within the group of further disruptions of the big announcement to be perpetrated by other organizations, or even by individuals. You are likely to be more knowledgeable regarding such possibilities than I.

----- End report M14A -----


Report M35T

Special Agent In Charge, David Sawyer
Field Agent Nicole London


My accidental opportunity to interview the two humanoids Michael and Gabriel after intercepting them in the park has led me to believe that they are not aliens as previously identified to you by your official government sources. These two individuals are undoubtedly native born human beings, in every sense of the word. I am convinced of this.

There remains a possibility that the pair are superb actors. Alternatively, they could be two humans who have been hypnotized and are driven by powerful suggestions, or perhaps subjected to drug induced delusions.

My conclusion is based on close observation of these two subjects and their unwitting answers to certain pointed questions I asked them, questions and answers psychologically designed to subconsciously elicit responses indicative of truthfulness or deception.

These two individuals are either native human beings, or else they subconsciously believe that they are.

----- End Report M35T -----


Personal addendum to previous report M35T

Special Agent In Charge, David Sawyer
Field Agent Nicole London

David... something heretofore unexpected and possibly catastrophic is afoot. Watch your back... be especially alert for signs of unrest or misdirection from your superiors.

File this only if you must. Destroy it if you deem it fitting to do so.

----- End personal addendum to previous report M35T -----


* * * * * * * * * *

Official Directive Most Urgent

To The President of the United States


* * * * * * * * * *


Presidential Order 77XX3-XX

Zenger... Settle this at once.

Signed: Me


Memo Z11N-ZZ

Special Agent In Charge, David Sawyer
Tobias Zenger 'Director'


Get your ass out there and find out what's going on with this nutcase who calls himself Reverend Matthew K. Potts. I'm getting reports of his planning a violent demonstration of some sort after the presidential announcement. Don't let me down.

----- End Memo Z11N-ZZ -----


More Notes:

Crucial Background Information provided by a character remembering past events. Below is a possibility, but I haven't time to write it yet, thus the 'bare bones' description.

Rosa Flores remembers the expedition to revive and 'condition' Rance London, and to re-position his space craft to give the appearance that it had recently landed. All that at the proper time in history, as if Rance had been gone for the correct length of time. How she and Paco had worried some about the military tracking radar not having detected and tracked the ship's landing. But as far as they knew, it was never even mentioned outside the military itself. So no individual would have to accept the blame?

And she recalls the many well known historical events in which she participated, by influencing the thoughts of pivotal influential personalities via mental projection. On the order of how Forest Gump influenced history. For example:

Abraham Lincoln (so lazy, needed to be stimulated)

FDR (the New Deal, Soc Sec, etc.)

Not Harry Truman, regretfully (can't be everywhere at one time)

Not Adolph Hitler (ditto above)

Not Lee Harvey Oswald

Rosa Parks (her namesake, on that bus with her)

Martin Luther King, Jr. (provided assurance of his rightness)

But then Rosa's mental powers began to fade as her human body aged.

Neither she nor Paco interfered with Rance London after his awakening. Even when they feared the consequences of Rance's marriage to Angela. And not during the storms of the marriage. Not even after Angela committed suicide.

Nor did they influence Nicole, but they gave her all the love and care that a ranch foreman and his housekeeper wife were capable of giving.


Late at night:

Today being Thanksgiving, I spent most of the day with family, so I feel like that is excuse enough for only writing around a thousand words. There is no way I can make the 50,000 word minimum by the 30th of this month, so I am resigned to that. But I WILL finish the novel, in my own good time.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 24

I am posting only an excerpt from my Day 24 effort since much of the rest is rambling scraps that I left in for the word count, but it has no place here, nor anywhere else but the scrap heap, for that matter. Below is the sensible portion...


Paco and Rosa often sit out on lawn chairs and look up at the night time western sky. A huge panorama of winking stars shines down on them there at the isolated ranch. It is both magnificent and terrifying at the same time in its awe inspiring vastness. The two watchers never tire of their night time vigil, thankfully viewed without the detail damping effect of too much ambient light that washes out the unbelievably extreme majesty, as always happens inside the limits of large cities.

Paco often reminds Rosa of the time he accompanied Teddy Roosevelt up San Juan hill. She always listens to him as if she was hearing the story for the first time.

Or, similarly, she listens to his story about his service 'over there' in the trenches of France in World War One. the Great War in which he was only one soldier of more than seventy million military personnel, 60 million of them Europeans, that were mobilized in one of the largest wars up to that time in history.

Or when in "dubayuh dubayuh two" he was one of more than 100 million fighting men and women, when he fought first in Europe, then later at Guadalcanal, as well as on some of the other nearby islands.

Rosa never fails to "Ooh" and "Ahh" at all the right places as Paco in quiet tones reminisces of those times long past.

"Do you remember, Rosa, "Paco asks, "the early times? The times before the great migration? When we were young? When we still lived on the home world?"

Rosa, in quickening pain, turns her gaze away from the lined and wrinkled face of her husband, away from his suddenly troubled features so as not to allow him to see her looking at what he would consider weakness, what he would think was a diminishing of his masculinity.

"No," she says. "It was so long ago, that short duration of time so very long ago -- that best forgotten time when we were young. The memories in my mind now begin when we arrived here on Earth and streaked down through the layers of the atmosphere with a threatening blaze of friction fire in the dying vessel of our savior, Major London."

"Yes," Paco says. "We remember back as far as we want to remember. But you remember the Major and how he had been the Earth astronaut who provided us with the means to escape our poor doomed world. It's good that you are able to remember him."


Major Rance London, ANSEF (Associated Nations Space Exploration Force) inserted into the ejection tube, without ceremony, the all too rapidly disintegrating corpses of his last three fellow astronauts, only those three of an original total of twelve. All but he had contracted the unknown disease soon after their third awakening from the extended hibernation state. All but he had died during the long voyage from Earth to the present coordinates of Venturer, which placed its location somewhere just outside the orbit of Pluto. Without a word, London activated the ejection sequence, and the three bodies were explosively shot out into the void of interstellar space.

Since Venturer was completely computer operated, with no means of manual control, there could be no turning back. Even under circumstances as drastically catastrophic as these. Even though Major London was alone. He was alone in a vessel powered by a measured series of nuclear detonations. Alone in empty space, with the entire known solar system behind him. And ahead? What?

Major London entered the hibernation chamber and lay down on his assigned sleep cot. He lay there and thought about whatever drifted into his consciousness. How long he lay there awake and thinking, he did not know.

Eventually, with a soft sigh, he pressed the bedside automatic start sequence.


Planetary Security's Automated Control console determined that some sort of space craft had emerged from one of the sub space entry portals unannounced. P-SAC routinely extended a beam into near space toward the intruder, locked onto it, and began the careful process of drawing the obviously primitive vessel to a more desirable and manageable location in close proximity to the central region's combined ship maintenance and sub-jump station that circled the planet in an equatorial medium range orbit.

After the living entity was discovered in deep sleep, the space craft was converted to an observation laboratory wherein the observers could learn all there was to know about the situation and to then determine the best course of further action.

In time, this was satisfactorily accomplished and two deserving units were quickly summoned, and a proposal was submitted, one that these two entities could not refuse.


When units 1 and 2 regained awareness after the transformation process they found that their new pseudo-human organ containers functioned as had been predicted. The physical 'bodies' were modeled after Major Rance London's own, but the newly transformed individuals comprised many technologically advanced chemical and biological improvements. The two entities were satisfied that their lives as artificial human beings on their new planet would endure for a much longer time than those of the naturally born true natives of Earth.

The Master Teacher had instilled within the two the total memory and subjective knowledge that exhaustive physical examinations and mental probings of the Earth man who knew himself as Rance London had provided. This pair of proto-humans were well equipped to operate the captured space vehicle, return it to its origin, and then to live out their lives there on planet Earth.

What the did not know, could not know, was that travel through the severely warped portion of space-time altered the temporal placement continuum, and arrival of the space craft back to its origin, arrival on planet Earth would occur, in effect, a large number of planetary orbits around its star before it should have arrived. Again, 'in effect,' the ship will have returned to Earth many years before it left.


The space vehicle entered Earth's atmosphere and was soon enveloped in a sheath of flames from the friction of its streaking descent. Entity number one, which would one day be labeled as 'Paco Flores' extended a controlling tendril of mental energy that slowed the ship's mad dash down toward the Earth. Unit number two, which was to one day become Rosa Flores, watched the ice covered surface that seemed to be rushing up at them and emitted a tendril of her own to ascertain the condition of Mayor Rance London who lay asleep on his cot inside the hibernation chamber.

At the last possible instant before the ship would have blasted its way into and then on through the huge glacier's heavy mantle of snow topped, millenniums old, massively thick ice and into the iron riddled solid rock below, the Paco unit and the Rosa unit with a combined mental thrust, lifted the ship and then allowed it to drift gently back down to the frozen surface.


The Stikine Icefield covers 2,900 square miles along the crest of the Coastal Mountains that separate Canada and the U.S. It extends 120 miles from the Whiting River to the Stikine River and reaches saltwater with LeConte Glacier.

At the start of the eighteenth century, Paco and Rosa Flores, using their considerable mental motivating powers, dug a sloping shaft down through the snow and deep into the ice, then carved out a large crypt like cavern into which they deposited the hibernating Major London. Beside the sleeping astronaut they placed a temperature controller. And nearby they anchored a location detector device.

After filling the shaft and resealing the surface hole, they used the ship's engines to provide a few final feeble gasps of power to generate enough heat to bury the craft in the glacier's ice cap. Inside the ship were stowed a wealth of technologically advanced instruments. Paco and Rosa Flores knew that one day in the far future they would return and claim those electronic treasures.

Then the pair of young, strong, and eagerly optimistic human beings started off on their long trek to some semblance of civilization.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 23

Again, I could not write anything for Day 23 of NaNoWriMo. I thought my Day 22 writer's block was a temporary affliction, and that I'd be back in the tap-tap-tapping groove by now. But, noooo...! I opened my usual MS Word blank document, labeled it Day 23, and then just sat there staring at the blank white page on the monitor. Usually, when all else fails I start typing anyway, even without knowing what I'll write next, something like "Paco Flores loved to watch..." but this time I wrote, "Paco" and stopped. I got up, went in to the kitchen and ate a bowl of cereal. Then I returned to the computer and said to the air, "Paco..." and stopped right there. I went back into the kitchen and ate a banana, sharing it with Eva, of course. Eva loves bananas. Maybe that's what I should have typed: 'Paco Flores loved bananas." But I didn't.

My problem is not the dreaded writer's block. My problem is that I am sick of the NaNoWriMo business of amassing a plethora of unnecessary words. And I'm bored with my story's cast of characters. And I have no idea where the story is headed. And I feel a pressing need to do a LOT of revision.

But I can't. Not until exactly midnight of November 30, when this god-awful nightmare will end.

. . .

Below is the 'encouragement' email message I received this morning from NaNoWriMo.

Dear Cohort,

Struggling with your novel? Paralyzed by the fear that it's nowhere near good enough? Feeling caught in a trap of your own devising? You should probably give up.

For one thing, writing is a dying form. One reads of this every day. Every magazine and newspaper, every hardcover and paperback, every website and most walls near the freeway trumpet the news that nobody reads anymore, and everyone has read these statements and felt their powerful effects. The authors of all those articles and editorials, all those manifestos and essays, all those exclamations and eulogies - what would they say if they knew you were writing something? They would urge you, in bold-faced print, to stop.

Clearly, the future is moving us proudly and zippily away from the written word, so writing a novel is actually interfering with the natural progress of modern society. It is old-fashioned and fuddy-duddy, a relic of a time when people took artistic expression seriously and found solace in a good story told well. We are in the process of disentangling ourselves from that kind of peace of mind, so it is rude for you to hinder the world by insisting on adhering to the beloved paradigms of the past. It is like sitting in a gondola, listening to the water carry you across the water, while everyone else is zooming over you in jetpacks, belching smoke into the sky. Stop it, is what the jet-packers would say to you. Stop it this instant, you in that beautiful craft of intricately-carved wood that is giving you such a pleasant journey.

Besides, there are already plenty of novels. There is no need for a new one. One could devote one's entire life to reading the work of Henry James, for instance, and never touch another novel by any other author, and never be hungry for anything else, the way one could live on nothing but multivitamin tablets and pureed root vegetables and never find oneself craving wild mushroom soup or linguini with clam sauce or a plain roasted chicken with lemon-zested dandelion greens or strong black coffee or a perfectly ripe peach or chips and salsa or caramel ice cream on top of poppyseed cake or smoked salmon with capers or aged goat cheese or a gin gimlet or some other startling item sprung from the imagination of some unknown cook. In fact, think of the world of literature as an enormous meal, and your novel as some small piddling ingredient - the drawn butter, for example, served next to a large, boiled lobster. Who wants that? If it were brought to the table, surely most people would ask that it be removed post-haste.

Even if you insisted on finishing your novel, what for? Novels sit unpublished, or published but unsold, or sold but unread, or read but unreread, lonely on shelves and in drawers and under the legs of wobbly tables. They are like seashells on the beach. Not enough people marvel over them. They pick them up and put them down. Even your friends and associates will never appreciate your novel the way you want them to. In fact, there are likely just a handful of readers out in the world who are perfect for your book, who will take it to heart and feel its mighty ripples throughout their lives, and you will likely never meet them, at least under the proper circumstances. So who cares? Think of that secret favorite book of yours - not the one you tell people you like best, but that book so good that you refuse to share it with people because they'd never understand it. Perhaps it's not even a whole book, just a tiny portion that you'll never forget as long as you live. Nobody knows you feel this way about that tiny portion of literature, so what does it matter? The author of that small bright thing, that treasured whisper deep in your heart, never should have bothered.

Of course, it may well be that you are writing not for some perfect reader someplace, but for yourself, and that is the biggest folly of them all, because it will not work. You will not be happy all of the time. Unlike most things that most people make, your novel will not be perfect. It may well be considerably less than one-fourth perfect, and this will frustrate you and sadden you. This is why you should stop. Most people are not writing novels which is why there is so little frustration and sadness in the world, particularly as we zoom on past the novel in our smoky jet packs soon to be equipped with pureed food. The next time you find yourself in a group of people, stop and think to yourself, probably no one here is writing a novel. This is why everyone is so content, here at this bus stop or in line at the supermarket or standing around this baggage carousel or sitting around in this doctor's waiting room or in seventh grade or in Johannesburg. Give up your novel, and join the crowd. Think of all the things you could do with your time instead of participating in a noble and storied art form. There are things in your cupboards that likely need to be moved around.

In short, quit. Writing a novel is a tiny candle in a dark, swirling world. It brings light and warmth and hope to the lucky few who, against insufferable odds and despite a juggernaut of irritations, find themselves in the right place to hold it. Blow it out, so our eyes will not be drawn to its power. Extinguish it so we can get some sleep. I plan to quit writing novels myself, sometime in the next hundred years.

--Lemony Snicket

Lemony Snicket is the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events. You can learn more about his work here.

. . .

Well, I'm off now to try again to get some more NaNo words down before the deadline.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 22

I am not posting the things I wrote for NaNoWriMo Day 22 because it does absolutely nothing to advance the story. It is nothing more than an author-blocked mish-mosh of half-baked ideas, thoughts, research notes, and excerpts about science fictional space alien conspiracies, most of it copied from half-witted articles on the web. Hopefully I can get back into the swing of original story telling today.

. . .

I find it passing strange that, even in this modern-day enlightened age, when most of the citizens of the civilized countries are supposedly well-educated and (for the most part) sophisticated, there still exists the propensity for book burning.

Brendan O'Neill , in Spiked, writes: "Students are supposed to read books, not burn them. A leading US defender of free speech on campus says things are so bad that some students are now destroying words that offend them."

Here is a short excerpt:

Freedom of thought and speech on campus, he says, which are so essential to the free exchange of ideas and wrestling with knowledge that take place in any university worth its name, are under assault. They’re being beaten up by the massed ranks of self-righteous students allergic to being offended, speech-policing university administrators who see it as their job to remould young people’s belief systems, and even some professors who now monitor what their students say in class and the tone in which they say it. (He tells me of one tutor whose classroom code involved not saying anything offensive about anyone, which ‘pretty much brought to an end any kind of serious academic debate'.)

Some of the stories about how American students have (over)reacted to being offended are enough to make grumpy old men of the best of us, wondering out loud: what the hell is wrong with the young these days? Alongside the Dartmouth flames of shame in response to a cartoon some students didn’t get or like, other students have taken to stealing or destroying student newspapers that dare to publish something that they -- little gods of super-sensitivity that they are -- feel offended by.

The article will make you think...


I learned that very often the most intolerant and narrow-minded people are the ones who congratulate themselves on their tolerance and open-mindedness
--Christopher Hitchens

. . .

This morning as I write this, I am drinking a cup of freshly brewed Double Chocolate Flavored coffee. I decided to take a break from the serious stuff, the Tully's Dark Italian Roast coffee that was unexpectedly sent to me a short while back as a gift from my friend, Anthony V. Toscano. While I am a fan of chocolate, I must say that tomorrow I intend to go back to the delightfully delicious Tully's.

. . .

For those who have never heard of Women Of TED talks, there is a four minute video describing what Women Of TED is. Here is the link:

As a plus, that web page contains a wealth of pictured links to many great TED talks presented by notable women.

. . .

Okay, that's enough of the chit chat. Back I go into the questionable regions of NaNo NaNo land.


Voltaire wrote, "To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered."

Monday, November 22, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 21

Word count for this day was only 1500 which makes my total 28,940 words. If I have learned anything at all from my first 21 days, it is that my optimum number of words per day when writing a novel is less than one thousand. Any more than than is forced and good only for amassing unnecessary words, not words that enhance or advance the story. Perhaps that will change one day, but I doubt it.

Below is my output for Day 21

The President of the United States rose from his chair behind his desk in the Oval Office and paced in front of the seated director of The Agency and Professor Gottlieb.

When he spoke his voice was barely recognizable in its high pitched stridency. Not at all like the deep, cultured tones so often heard by millions of registered voters emoting from their TV sets or Video Players.

"What the hell happened?" he demanded. "How could they have escaped? Escaped? What am I saying? They are not prisoners; they're not being held against their will. But how could you let them go out into the city without some kind of security escort?"

Tobias Zenger spoke: "Mister President, we don't know what happened. They were being interviewed in preparation for psychological analysis by Professor Gottlieb here, when all of a sudden they did something, somehow, that induced immediate sleep in the professor. That's all we know. Then the two of them calmly walked out the exit and into the heart of the city."

Gottlieb added, "It was a most unusual sleep. Extremely restful. When I awoke I was so refreshed that I..."

"Truman... that's enough!" thundered The Chief.

The president said, "I saw the recorded video. Those two creeps did nothing. Your professor just fell asleep all by himself. Narcolepsy or something. Incompetence. We can't afford careless behavior, Zenger."

"Yes, Mister President."

"So, what's being done about the situation?"

"They are being searched for diligently, Sir, by an operative deemed best suited for the task. We expect results momentarily."

"Mister President," said Gottlieb, "if I may, Sir..."

"Make it quick. I have other emergencies pending."

"Yes sir. In the limited time allowed me to examine the two individuals, I have come to the conclusion that they are not extraterrestrials at all. They are human. Natives of the planet Earth. This is some sort of fraudulent..."

Zenger interrupted, "Truman, for God's sake, shut up."

The president addressed his Director of The Agency, "Toby, get this pompous jackass out of my office. Now."

"Yes, Mister President."

The Chief exited the room, the sputtering professor in tow.


Paco Flores sat on his lawn chair halfway between the ranch house and the barn just before midnight looking up at the panorama of twinkling stars. Miss London had flown off that morning in the same helicopter in which she's arrived the day before. Back to the nation's capitol, back to her danger filled life of deception and intrigue.

But of course, those were things an old ranch hand would know absolutely nothing about. That was the province of the highly educated, well born, superior men of power and intellectual sophistication: the elite: the government officials, the billionaires, and the cunning operatives, both the overt and the covert, manipulators of The Agency.

These are things neither accessible to nor desired by the simple country folk.

Paco and his wife Rosa took seriously the responsibility for the upkeep and daily maintenance of the house, the barn, and the few domesticated animals that wandered the small pasture out behind the buildings. The five horses, the two milk cows, the ever growing herd of goats, and the uncounted number of chickens, fine egg layers and providers of tasty protein.

Miss London had shown, over the last six years, that she had complete trust in the two aging Mexican Americans as caretaker and housekeeper fully as much as had her father, Doctor E. Rance London, the former astronaut, before the cancer took him and left her as the ranchlet's sole owner.

Rosa was growing older, Paco thought, as was he himself. But that was part of the deal, one of the drawbacks in the beginning, back on their doomed home world when the two of them, young and eager for adventure, had signed on for the one way trip to Earth.

It had been Rosa's idea. Paco was fairly certain of that. But sometimes memory can play tricks on an old, old man like him. And there was no use to deny it, he was old, as much as ten times the age of the average Earth native. And so was Rosa, although it would take a full battalion of battle scarred veterans to force her to admit it.

Rosa had gone to bed at least two hours earlier. Just another sign of this planet's atmospheric propensity for hastening diminishment of life force in biological creatures.

Paco stood up, folded up the aluminum chair and carried it to the barn, where he hung it from one of the tool and implement carrying spikes driven into the barn's back wall. He could smell the good aroma of newly mown and tightly baled hay from where it lay in neatly fashioned stacks up in the loft above his head. When he left the barn, Paco allowed himself on last long look up to the tiny point of light that sparkled well above Ursa Major. Then, checking with his right hand to assure himself that the tiny remote switch was in the pocket of his faded jeans, and that his flash light rested in the pocket on the opposite side, he began the short trek to the laboratory inside the small rise just beyond the small pasture.


The orderly undid the ties of the strait jacket and removed it from Ric's upper torso. He then unfastened the leg restraints and unlocked the neck tether fastened to a ring in the padded wall. He watched as Ric stretched his back and body muscles and rotated his arms in half circles, forward and back.

"Now, you don't aim to go and try to escape again, do you Mr. Newman?" he said.

"You can bet that I'm not, Jimmy," Ric told him. "I've learned my lesson, and that's for sure."

"That's good. I'm glad to hear you say that. Know why?"


"Because you got yourself some visitors, that's why."


"Yep. Soon as you get your shower and get dressed up in your new clothes, we'll go up to the solarium and join your friends."

"Friends? Who are they? What's their names? Do you know, Jimmy?"

"Naw... but you'll find out soon enough. Now get in that stall and wash that stink off you. Whew-ee! You sure do smell strong."


In the hospital's third floor solarium, Pindar Balzac and Genna Greene both sat on the edge of their chairs while they waited for Ric to be brought to the room. "How much can we tell him," Genna asked.

"No limit that I know of," Pindar answered.

Genna flicked a crumb from her breakfast cruller off of the left leg of her slacks. Watched it drop to the tile floor. "They've surely dosed him with every drug known to man by now. No way to trust what he tells us."

"No," Pindar agreed.

"I feel so sorry for him. Poor Ric. And he really doesn't know anything of any importance. That's the sad part."

"But don't forget, that very fact is what makes him so necessary for the next phase. He can't reveal what he doesn't know."

Genna lifted a tissue to her face and dabbed at her eyes. "Those ugly people are so unreasonable, and they are unbelievably brutal. There's no telling what they will use to try and force information from him."

"I know that, Genna. It can't be helped."

Genna jumped up from her chair as she saw Ric in an old fashioned wheel chair being pushed into the room by a smiling orderly.

"Ric," she said, "Oh, just look at you."

Aiming her flashing eyes at the orderly, she cried out, "What have you beasts been doing to this poor sweet innocent man? Oh, just look at him."

The orderly's smile vanished, as he said, "We ain't done nothing to him, Ma'am, just did our best to make him well again, that's all."

Pindar stood and walked over to the wheel chair, "Ric, we're going to get you out of here real soon. The paperwork's in progress. People who know the law are working night and day. Be patient for a while longer. We've got big plans for you."

"What ever you say, Pindar. You know how loyal I am to you."

"I certainly do, Ric. And I appreciate it. But we have to go now, can't stay, important meeting in less than an hour. You'll be fine from here on in. Won't he, orderly?"

Jimmy looked into the cold piercing eyes of the tall man who had just addressed him, and said, "Huh?"

Pindar said nothing more but continued to stare steadily into the orderly's unblinking eyes.

Jimmy said, "Oh, yes sir, Mr. Newman will be just fine. Yes sir."

With a wave and a smile, Pindar and Genna left the room.

Jimmy turned the wheel chair around, pushed it toward the solarium's exit, and said to Ric, "Oh yes sir, Mr. Newman sir; you going to be just fine."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 20

I've been informed that at least one person has been reading each day's segment of my NaNo novel. So I will continue posting them on my website. Additionally, I will post the latest installment here on the blog.


Day 20

Tobias Zenger, Director of The Agency, known by one and all as 'The Chief' watched from where he sat in his large throne like chair behind a huge and intentionally imposing mahogany desk as Professor Truman Gottlieb was ushered into his office by Zenger's personal aide and pointed to a chair facing the desk. "Truman," said The Chief, rising and offering a welcoming smile. "Good of you to come on such short notice."

"Oh come on Toby," Gottlieb said in his usual deep and somewhat gruff voice. "It's not like it was an 'invitation' you know. When the head man of The Agency requests one's presence, one makes haste to comply without hesitation."

"Nonsense, old friend," Zenger said. He sat back down and leaned back in his chair. "I'm sure you will be happy to have come so quickly when you see what I have to offer you."

Gottlieb absently scratched one side of his somewhat grizzled full beard and said, "Uh oh... that sounds ominous. What's it all about?"

"Right down to business, huh? Same old Truman. You'll never change, will you."

"Out with it."

The Chief's smile disappeared, and he said, "Okay Toby. Here it comes."

Zenger's voice lowered, as if he were fearful of being overheard. He said, "Toby, what I am about to reveal to you is classified Ultra Secret. The details are known by only five people. In case you are not aware of it, the Ultra Secret classification carries with it the understanding that if you in any way allow such classified information to leak out, in any way, your life will be forfeited... immediately, without benefit of trial, and no excuse will be accepted for your indiscretion. Do you understand this?"

"Of course I understand. I understand the meaning of the words you just spoke. Can't say that I accept them as being factual, however. After all, this is the United States of America, and I as a native born citizen of that great nation, am quite aware that my constitutionally granted civil rights completely negate your somewhat ill advised threat."

"Truman, Shut up. Can the bluster. You know me. You know what I am capable of. And you'd better know that I am deadly serious about this matter."

The Chief leaned forward and stared across his desk into the eyes of his long time friend, celebrated head of psychology at Prestige University, two time winner of the Noble Prize, and said, "If you breathe a word of what is about to transpire in this office, I will personally order that you be killed. Period."

The professor again scratched his beard as he stared back into the director's eyes. "Of course I understand. I am not a fool. And, of course I agree."

"Good. Then let me begin by reminding you of the long history of UFO sightings and the various rumors of extraterrestrial visitors, such as the unsubstantiated stories concerning Area 51, and such."

"The maundering and delusions of weak minded malcontents, yes. All explainable phenomena but eminently conducive to mass acceptance due to wish fulfillment, and due to unchecked applications of individual self hypnosis."

"Truman, please, said the Director, "restrain your penchant for oratory and just listen, okay?"

In the silence that followed, Zenger continued:

"Well... many of those UFO sightings were real, validated by both official military sources and a multitude of privates citizens' photos. And the basic premise of Area 51, the rumor of the existence of space aliens, is real. Quite real."

The Chief stood and came out from behind his desk, motioned for the professor to follow, and then walked over to a wall hanging, pushed it aside, and opened a door behind the heavy curtain, indicating that the other man should follow him through into a small, dimly lit room.

The room was furnished with two sofas, nothing more. On one of the sofas sat two individuals.

The Chief took a seat on the other sofa that faced the two figures and indicated with a wave of his hand for Gottlieb to join him.

"Professor Truman Gottlieb, I'd like to introduce you to Gabriel and Michael, visitors to Earth from a planet orbiting a star near the center of our Milky Way galaxy."

The two individuals did not stand, but both nodded their heads in recognition of the introduction.

Gottlieb stared at the pair. They were almost identical in appearance, presenting only minor differences. They were neither green nor bug eyed. Both were approximately six feet tall, slim, and perfect examples of what the average man of Earth would describe as handsome athletes, and the average woman of Earth would describe as being 'dreamy'.

"You are spacemen?" he asked. Visiting Earth? For what purpose? Exploration? Trade?"

"I have been given the designation, Michael. My purpose is to serve The Master."

"I have been given the designation, Gabriel. My purpose is to serve The Master."

"You speak English. And you both have English names. How 'is' that?"

"This unit, this 'I', has been given the designation, Michael, by Director Tobias Zenger. Tobias Zenger speaks the English language. Therefore this unit speaks the English Language."

"This unit, this 'I', has been given the designation, Gabriel, by Director Tobias Zenger. Tobias Zenger speaks the English language. Therefore this unit speaks the English Language."

Gottlieb turned to Zenger and said, "Why do they repeat what the other has just said?"

"Good Gravy, Truman. That's why you're here. To find out why these two parrots do the stuff they do. You're the psychiatrist."

"Psychologist," Gottlieb said.

"What ever," said the Director. Just talk to them, analyze them, teach them how to talk if you have to, but get some answers. I want results. I want facts. Get busy and find out all you can about them. God only knows, nobody else has been able to do a lick of good around here."

"Perhaps it might be more productive if I interview them alone. You might be too much of an authority figure, creating a damping influence. Besides, knowing you, this room is probably bugged three ways from Sunday."

"Oh for the love of... Oh, all right. Just talk to them. Try to get them to make some sense for a change."

The Director left the room.


Nicole London activated the com pinned to the collar of her tunic and said, "London... go."

It was her partner, David Sawyer. "Got an assignment for you, London."

"Go ahead."

"The Chief called a restricted BOLO; wants you, and only you, to locate and detain a couple of missing VIPs."

"General area?"

"Somewhere in the city. Probably near The Chief's office."


"Photo in your hand-held's A1 file."

"Got it."

"And, London..."


"Accentuate the 'V' in VIP. Requires delicate handling. Subjects are under 'Ultra' -- got it?"


"That's all I know for now. Just watch your back. Out."

"Okay. Thanks. Out."


Five year old Kinesha Kinkaid chased her oversize bouncy ball across the nicely mowed green lawn of the Armand Thomas City Park. The ball came to rest at the feet of two men sitting on one of the park's benches.

Kinesha grabbed up the ball, looked at the two quiet, smiling, seated men and said, "My name's Kinesha, what's yours?"

"My name is Michael.

"My name is Gabriel.

"Do you want to play ball with me?" she asked.

"Is 'play ball' an activity designed to stimulate one's pleasure centers?" asked Michael.

"Huh?" said Kinesha.

Gabriel said, ""How does one play ball?"

Michael stood up, reached down, removed the ball from the little girl's hands, and sat back down on the bench, bringing the ball up to within an inch of his eyes. Kinesha, believing that her ball was being taken away for good, ran towards the group of parents and babysitters congregated under the shade of a giant elm tree, screaming, "Some nasty old men took my ball and won't give it back to me!"

Two of the women from the group began to run in her direction, while another woman used her cell phone to call Emergency 911.


Nicole London, having set her hand held to intercept 911 calls, was alerted by the call for police to investigate two suspicious men who had accosted a little girl in the Southwest corner of Armand Thomas Park. She was within running distance of that area and so arrived on the scene before the police arrived.

Sure enough, as she approached the park bench she recognized from the photo that these were the two VIPs she'd been ordered to locate and detain.

Nicole smiled at the two as she neared them, and said, "Hello. Are you Michael and Gabriel?"

The two men stood up from the bench.

"My name is Michael," said the one on her left side.

"My name is Gabriel," said the one on her right side."

Nicole said, "May I have the ball, please?"

Michael handed it to her, and Nicole rolled it over the lawn in the direction of the little girl and the two women.

My name is Nicole London, she told the two men. I am a federal agent and I have been instructed by Tobias Zenger, director of The Agency, to ask you gentlemen to accompany me to a place of safety and thereby allowing me to protect you at that location until Director Zenger can arrive. Is that amenable to you?"

"That is amenable," Michael told her.

"That is amenable," Gabriel told her.


After the director left the room, Professor Gottlieb sat back down on the sofa. He smiled at the two other occupants and said, "Well. Perhaps I should start by asking you some basic questions. Does that sound reasonable to you?"

"That sounds reasonable to this unit, Michael."

"That sounds reasonable to this unit, Gabriel."

The professor cocked his head to one side. "Do you understand the concept of the English word, "we," and that it can be used by one of you so that it is not necessary for both of you to consecutively answer a single question when it is asked of both of you, not as an individual but as a group?"

The two looked at each other for a moment in silence. Then Michael said, "The unit Gabriel and the unit Michael -- 'we' -- understand the basic concept, and now 'we' understand its English usage."

"Good. Now, you claim to be extraterrestrial beings visiting Earth from some far away planet. Is that correct?

"We do not claim this," Michael said. "Those of your race who are your governing leaders that have spoken with us from the beginning have come to that conclusion."

"Then," said the professor, "who or what do you claim to be? How do you classify your selves?"

Gabriel spoke up, saying, "We are multi purpose units constructed by That Which Is Outside to serve as messengers to biological life forms or, when called upon, to do battle with That Which Lurks Within."

"I do not understand," said the professor. "Who, of what, is That Which Is Outside?"

Michael said, "That Which Is Outside is the Supreme Master of what your race labels The Universe."

"Oh... you mean God?"

"I do?"

"That's what I'm asking. Is That Which Is Outside another name for God? Another name for omnipotent maker of all things? The Creator of the universe?"

"Creator of the universe? No. Omnipotent? No. That Which Is Outside is the infinite entity existing outside the universe."

Gottlieb said nothing more, merely stared at them in silence.

Michael and Gabriel turned and looked at each other. They too remained silent.

Slowly, Professor Gottlieb slid from his seat on the couch and sank to the carpeted floor, where he curled himself up into a fetal position and began to snore.

In another room, The Chief watched a monitor and to his horror, he saw Michael and Gabriel walk to a door at the back of the room, open it, and exit casually out into the city.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 19

I've decided to stop posting my daily 'NaNo' writing. Nobody's reading it anyway. And I'm kinda glad nobody's reading it, because it stinks. Even 'I' am weary of the insipid characters going nowhere, and of the ridiculous word padding gained by sticking in an adverb to modify every unnecessary adjective... etc. And the not completely thought out half-baked plot will never survive. The only way the novel might be saved is by a total rewrite.

Yesterday, day 19, I wrote only 370 words, and they were not even tied in to the previous scenes... just sitting there separated by a 5 space underscore characters.

My total count is 25,440 words.

Discouraged is not the word for how I was feeling last night about NaNoWriMo. Ashamed is a better word. I gave in and joined the other mad key tappers. And I could have been using all that time for writing down 'good' words, well thought out phrases, a sensible plot... or I could have been reading some 'good' fiction.

"Oh well," I told myself last night, "maybe I'll feel better in the morning."

Now that next morning is here, and yes I do feel better. Ready to get back into the NaNoWriMo fray, ready to go trotting back to the NaNo keyboard with my 'tale' between my legs. Only ten more days until I can relax and do some serious re-writing of that horrid jumble of words saved in file titled, 'Day 1, Day 2,' and so on. I can't hardly wait.

Oh Happy Day!

. . .

Her is an interesting twist on writers who make a living by writing:

The man who writes your students' papers tells his story in THE CHRONICLE of Higher Education.

He writes:

I work at an online company that generates tens of thousands of dollars a month by creating original essays based on specific instructions provided by cheating students. I've worked there full time since 2004. On any day of the academic year, I am working on upward of 20 assignments.

In the midst of this great recession, business is booming. At busy times, during midterms and finals, my company's staff of roughly 50 writers is not large enough to satisfy the demands of students who will pay for our work and claim it as their own.

Of course, I know you are aware that cheating occurs. But you have no idea how deeply this kind of cheating penetrates the academic system, much less how to stop it. Last summer The New York Times reported that 61 percent of undergraduates have admitted to some form of cheating on assignments and exams.

And there is much more in the article. Quite interesting, really.

. . .

I came to realize this morning that I am an autodidact. Of course I've known that for a good many years, but until now I did not have a word that describes my lifetime of learning.

An autodidact is a person who has taught himself.

Autodidacticism (also autodidactism) is self-education or self-directed learning. An autodidact is a mostly self-taught person, as opposed to learning in a school setting or from a full-time tutor or mentor.

At long last I now know what I am. If someone were to ask me what I am, I could say, "I am an autodidact."

A long list of famous autodidacts includes Woody Allen, Socrates, Ernest Hemingway, Descartes, Benjamin Franklin, the Wright Brothers, Thomas Alva Edison, Adolph Hitler, and many others.

We live and we learn.


"I am an autodidact."
--Nadine Gordimer

Friday, November 19, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 18

Yesterday I wrote 2,420 words, bringing my total to 25,070 words. I should have had that total by November 15. But I didn't.

My scenes from yesterday, Day 18 are posted at:

. . .

At Poetry Flash I read a poem:

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby in the basement bar
Of the Seelbach Hotel. A few years later, he traveled
First class to Hollywood and let them mutilate his soul.
The great Scott died drunk, penniless, writing-blocked, and alone.

Only after his death did Fitzgerald become a star,
As English Literature professors sought to unravel
The Great Gatsby’s tapestries. The slim novel has sold
One hundred million copies since Fitzgerald turned to bone.

From: Inappropriate
Face, poems and short prose by Sherman Alexie

. . .

I was amazed to read that, as a parlor trick, our twentieth president James Garfield could hold a pen in each hand and simultaneously write in Latin and Greek.

Good Gravy! I can't even shoot pool with my left hand. Maybe that's why I've never been president.

. . .

"Poets are like steam valves, where the ordinary feelings of ordinary people can escape and be shown."
--Sharon Olds
Sharon Olds

. . .

I suppose I should get busy writing my NaNo words for today.

Ta Ta...


Thursday, November 18, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 17

I produced 2,450 words yesterday for Day 17, bringing my total to 22,650 words. The day's work is posted at:


. . .

Last night was the mid-week PowerBall drawing. Ho Hum. I am not yet a multi-millionaire.

. . .

Woke up several times thorough the night with leg cramps. One of the perils of old age. What more can a guy in his seventies expect?

. . .

Yesterday was Donna's birthday. (Donna was my wife for twenty years, for those who might not know it) I sent her an email with Happy Birthday wishes.

. . .

Well, I'm off to write some more words to add to my NaNo novel.



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 16 Of NaNoWriMo

Yesterday's count was 2,250 words bringing my total to 20,200 words. Since I have nothing much to say this morning and want to get to work on the NaNo novel, I'll just post yesterday's effort below. (Also posted at http://www.genechambers.com/day-16.htm)

Day 16

There had been no attempt by the builders of the main room of the underground cave that was once a silver mine. Its walls were rough surfaced carved out rock. This large main room was without a doubt a working laboratory. It featured a scattered hodge podge of computer terminals and electronics measuring equipment: oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, elaborate multi penned graph plotters, multi band radio and slow scan TV receivers, transmitters, transceivers, and a variety of seemingly home brew items of questionable origin and usefulness.

David Sawyer and Nicole London seated themselves at separate computer terminals and, after activating a sophisticated encrypting and cloaking mechanism, they each logged on to the new government restricted Ultranet.

"So," Nicole said, "What's the latest on Gottlieb's findings?"

"Inconclusive," Sawyer replied.

"Isn't it always?"

"Yes, but Gottlieb is the top man in his field, and that has to count for something."

"You're right about that. But he's so cautious about committing himself to a specific conclusion. It's a wonder he'll even admit that Balzac and his group are undoubtedly genetically deviant in any way, not to mention his aversion to admitting that they might be superior."

Sawyer chuckled at that. "He has to recognize the startling results of the test results stemming from testing Ricardo Newman, Pindar Balzac's sidekick. That exhaustive battery of physiological lab tests, the blood work, the DNA charts, and all the rest conclusively indicate that Ricardo Newman does indeed exhibit a major deviation from the norm of Homo sapiens, and from human norms in general."

"How did you find out about the test results? Did Zenger at long last decide to trust you after all and to share major top secret documents with you?"

Sawyer shook his head in the negative and said, "I wish."


Nicole sent her computer mouse's pointer to the top of her monitor and clicked on the link 'Password' which brought up an unlabeled field box with a bright red background. She typed in "Paco2Rosa" and watched as the home page of an untitled four column data base appeared.

Sawyer, after a brief pause, said, "I have some undeclared sources."

"Okay... but don't hold back anything that might help me to help you."

Sawyer turned his attention away from his own terminal, which displayed a detailed graph presenting him with a multitude of color keyed lines. The page was also untitled. He gazed at Nicole and said, I won't, please believe that. You've proven your loyalty again and again. And I haven't forgotten that I actually owe you my life. That Beirut incident."

Nicole returned his gaze. "I think that the two of us are the only ones looking in the right direction, and for the right reasons."

"It appears that you are right about that. And everyone else, all the way to the top are out to keep us in the dark. Especially our boss, Tobias Zenger, the Agency's so greatly esteemed Director. And even others at the highest levels."

While she scrolled down the list of names and their respective government positions, Nicole said, "I've been thinking about Gottlieb's findings; what if this Pindar Balzac group really is the first stages of evolution of our species? There's no law that I know of that assures a mutant must be a superior variation. What if these people have evolved into a type of human being that is inferior to the rest of us?"

"Hm. An interesting theory."

"It's not a theory. I'm merely proposing a hypothetical possibility."

"Great Regan's Ghost," Sawyer exclaimed. "Look at this."

Nicole moved from her terminal over to peer at the graph on Sawyer's screen. As she brought her face close to better read the data, she steadied herself by placing her hand on Sawyer's broad shoulder, and her left breast pressed into and against the taut muscles of his arm.

Sawyer could smell the sweet somewhat fruity aroma emanating from the intimately close presence of her body and he said, "That's a terrific perfume you're wearing."

"Not wearing perfume," she said.

"I can smell it. It's fantastic. Reminds me of fresh cut peaches."

"That's Rosa's cobbler you smell. It's my breath. Sorry, I didn't take time to brush my teeth."

"No offense intended, London," he said.

"None taken... David."

Moving slowly away from their bodily contact and returning to her own terminal, Nicole said, "You know, we should repeat that series of tests on others, not only on members of Balzac's group, but on other patients, on all of the other hospital inmates, especially on the worse cases of those proven to be unalterably deranged."

"Another theory?"

"Maybe. What if a goodly percentage of the mentally ill also display the same deviations, the same indicators of evolution in progress?"

"Interesting," Sawyer said.

"And we should also delve into this heightened emotional state shared by the group members. We should correlate emotional responses to stressful stimuli of the Balzac group with those of the inmates, and additionally, as a control, with test result of normal citizens."

"Okay, I'll go along with that. What have we got to lose?"

# # #

Paco and Rosa Flores joined hands and raised their eyes to the wide star strewn bowl of the night sky. Rosa lifted her chubby arm and pointed a finger toward a medium bright pinpoint of light that twinkled down at them, a far off star shining well above the familiar shape of Ursa Major.

"That's home, my husband," she crooned.

"Yes," Paco said.

"The Nicole is staying late with her friend."

"Yes," Paco said.

"She is in great danger."


"We cannot interfere."

"No," Paco said.

# # #

There exists a special room in the White House. This room has no official name. It measures ten meters in length, eight meters in width, and nine and three quarters meters in height. The ceiling and walls are painted all of one color. The room is sound proof, electronic snooper proof, and guarded securely by robot eyes, ears, and deadly weapons.

It is a semi secret room, known about ostensibly by five people, the President of the United States, the Vice President, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense, and the Director of The Agency, Tobias Zenger.

All were present at the hastily scheduled midnight meeting.

The president opened the proceedings by standing up from his chair at the head of the small table. With his recognizably stern but confident manner, he addressed the other four:

"Folks, we find ourselves trapped in a corner. There will be no passing around of any printed matter, as circumstances are dire and the details I am about to reveal to you are to be considered ultra top secret. As you all know, the 'ultra' prefix means that if information dispensed here is leaked, the perpetrator will be immediately ferreted out and summarily eliminated with the greatest dispatch."

The president looked into the eyes of each of the listeners one at a time, then continued, "Is that understood?"

All nodded instantly and replied in unison, "Yes sir."

"Okay then," the president said. His voice deepened and became even more ominous in tone. "I'm sure you have all heard about the small group of Americans led by a charismatic individual who calls himself Pindar Balzac, the members being a diverse clique who claim to be a new, more highly evolved offshoot of the human family. They also seem to believe they possess extra sensory abilities which allow them to receive communications from extraterrestrial entities."

The four again nodded their heads in assent.

The president again spoke. "While we have no foolproof method to affirm these allegations, the nation's top psychologist had determined by way of exhaustive testing of one member of that group that DNA and other means have proven that these folks are indeed of different make up than are we normal people.

"Whether or not they are truly in touch with extraterrestrial life is doubtful. This doubt is strengthened by the opinions rendered by our own space visitor contacts. Yes, the same ones responsible for the innumerable UFO sightings and the ancient Area 51 rumors. The aliens that we, the ongoing ruling class, depend on for remaining in power year after year."

Mister President, if I might interrupt, Sir."

"Yes, Toby... go ahead."

Tobias Zenger stood and said, "We know about all that, of course. And I thought it was understood that this is a minor matter, to be systematically controlled by my people at The Agency."

"Right you are, Toby. But these folks are not the problem I was referring to. The crux of the matter is, I have been informed of a new and unexpected threat, a threat springing from a heretofore unknown source, a much smaller but much more insidious attempt to overthrow those of us who have so long remained in seats of power."

All of the others jumped to their feet and began to talk.

The president called out, "Here, here... let me continue."

When silence returned, he said, "Our alien friends have discovered and revealed to us this threat. They do not know, or at least they claim ignorance of the exact identities and locations of these mysterious operatives."

Zenger said, "Mister President, what's the source of your information about this new enemy?"

"Come on now, Toby," the president said, "You know better than to ask me that. You know I am not a king, just a president, just a government employee if you will. You have to know there are greater powers behind myself and the administration. You are out of line when you ask such questions.

"And besides," he continued, "you have some of the most gifted and intelligent agents in the world working for you. Use them."

The president placed his hands palm down on the table and leaned forward. "Gentlemen, here is the plan..."

# # #

The turnout for Reverend Potts' outdoor rally was sparse, to say the least. His sermon regarding the wrath of God in which he emoted mightily was cheered on by Diana and the few others from back in Wheatland who had remained in the city, some of them for private reasons of their own.

Potts waved his arms in the air and loudly intoned the words he'd read on a website of Fire and Brimstone sermons, words he'd memorized to be delivered at this rally to the motley crew who stood in the drizzling rain.

"Vengeance is mine speaketh The Lord!"

The reverend paused for effect, then continued.

"The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemy. The Lord is slow to anger, great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade. The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles in his presence, the world and all who live in it. Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him. The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood, he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into darkness."

Reverend Potts paused long enough to accept a dry towel tossed up to him by a man in the small audience. He wiped the dampness from his face, flung the towel back to the man who had sent it, and then resumed:

"Beware you that shuns the Lord your God, you with the blasphemous idolater's name that dares to flaunt your false doctrines of Evil-looshun and take for your own the wickedness you claim was spewed from the maws of your imaginary space aliens, filthy creatures who are in reality the Jezebel spawn of heartless and soulless devils.

"Oh how you, Pindar Balzac and your horde of perverted minions will suffer for your iniquities!

"The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire, he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times so abominable in his eyes as the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours."

From the front row came a high pitched shriek, "Yee-ESSS! Tell us, preacher!"

The orator stopped, looked down at fat, frumpy Diana Sorensen, the one who had cried out her encouragement to him. His chin drooped down against his soggy necktie and his arms fell to his sides to hang there limply.

And the rain began to pour down upon him in thunderous torrents.