St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)

Lundi Gras, and the downward slope of the marathon. Huzzah! I have a lot to do today; all trying to get it finished in the window before the streets close for tonight’s parades, Proteus and Orpheus. I need to run to the grocery store, get the mail, and am also hoping to get to the gym as well; I’ve not been since last Sunday, but the combination of all the cardio involved with the walking to and from the office, as well as shortened hours because of the parades, has conspired to keep me from my workouts. I cannot go Wednesday morning, either, because the gym is closed until noon; by then I will be at work. So, if I don’t work out today I can’t get to the gym again until Thursday morning, which would be most inopportune. But I am confident I will get back into the swing of my workouts again; despite the Mardi Gras interruption–that always happened in the past, after all, and I was always able to get back to it.

Exhaustion has also precluded me from writing and/or editing over the last week or so; I have plans to get some writing done today as well as some laundry. I have to decide on a story to write for two anthologies, and I desperately need to rewrite/revise/edit another that is due by the end of the month. I am also behind on revisions of the WIP, and I need to get moving on the Scotty book as well. This will, of course, be a short work week; Wednesday thru Friday, so I am hopeful that I can get a lot accomplished in this time period. I should probably get dressed and head out for the errands; the later I wait, the more likely there won’t be a place to park when I get back.

I started reading Killers of the Flower Moon before bed, but it just didn’t grab me right away; I’ll go back to it, I am sure. Instead I started reading The Black Prince of Florence by Catherine Fletcher (Florence! Medicis! History!), and am loving it so far. I doubt that I’ll ever tire of either Italian history, or the Medici family.

I did manage to get back to reading on The Short Story Project as well this weekend, between parades and physical exhaustion. The first was the title story of Joe Hill’s collection, 20th Century Ghost:

The best time to see her is when the place is almost full.

There is the well-known story of the man who wanders in for a late show and finds the vast six-hundred-seat theater almost deserted. Halfway through the movie, he glances around and discovers her sitting next to him, in a chair that had moments before been empty. Her witness stares at her. She turns her head and stares back. She has a nosebleed. Her eyes are wide, stricken. My heart hurts, she whispers. I have to step out for a moment. Will you tell me what I miss? It is in this instant that the person looking at her realizes she is as insubstantial as the shifting blue ray of light cast by the projector. It is possible to see the next seat over through her body. As she rises from her chair, she fades away.

Then there is the story about the group of friends who go into the Rosebud together on a Thursday night. One of the bunch sits down next to a woman by herself, a woman in blue. When the movie doesn’t start right away, the person who sat down beside her decides to make conversation. What’s playing tomorrow? he asks her. The theater is dark tomorrow, she whispers. This is the last show. Shortly after the movie begins she vanishes. On the drive home, the man who spoke to her is killed in a car accident.

This is a great short story; a ghost story about a haunted movie theater. It moves very quickly, and I love how Hill sucks you in almost immediately. I am greatly enjoying reading Hill’s short stories; and am looking forward to getting back into this collection. It also wraps up perfectly. I’ll be honest; I tried reading two of Hill’s novels and simply couldn’t get into them–which is probably more on me than on him–but as I said, I am loving the short stories, and will undoubtedly go back to the novels; I often find something that didn’t grab me the first time will wind up being something I love when I try it again later.

Then I moved back to Lawrence Block’s Alive in Shape and Color, and the next story up was “Girl with a Fan” by Nicholas Christopher.

On the fifth of June, 1944, a young man stepped off the 9:13 train from Lyon, squinting into the morning light. Tall and slender, he had an asymmetrical face: the right eye higher than the left, the left cheek planed more than the right. He was wearing a brown suit, black shirt, yellow tie, and brown fedora. His suit was rumpled, his boots scuffed. He was carrying a leather briefcase with a brass lock. His pants cuffs were faintly speckled with yellow paint.

He cast a long shadow as he walked down the platform. Halfway to the station, two men in leather coats came up from behind and gripped his arms. One of them pressed a pistol in his side, the other grabbed his briefcase. They veered away from the station, guiding him roughly down an alley to a waiting car. A man in dark glasses was behind the wheel. He was bald, with an eagle tattooed at the base of his skull.

At first, this story seemed a bit off to me; it didn’t really fit with the rest of the stories I’ve read in Block’s ‘inspired by a painting’ anthologies. For one thing, it jumped around in time and place, going from Nazi-occupied France to the south seas back to France in the late nineteenth century again; but linking these three different narratives was Gauguin’s painting, “Girl with a Fan”: where the fan came from, when the work was actually painted, and what happened–was happening–with the painting under the Nazi pillaging of the occupied country. Once I grasped what Christopher was doing with his story, I began enjoying it; it’s not easy to juggle three different stories, locations, and time-lines in the space of one short story. Well done, Mr. Christopher, well done indeed!

I also read some others, and will probably continue reading some more today; but I shall save those for a future entry.

And now, back to the spice mines. Here’s a hunk to get you through your own Lundi Gras.



I was a little boy in the 1960’s; I was eight when the decade came to an end. The world was a very uncertain place for a kid during that time period; people really believed the country was falling apart, or being pulled apart. The divide between the generations, the divide between left and right, the concept of American exceptionalism vs American responsibility; the Vietnam War and the opposition to it; the rise of the civil rights movement and the struggle to end Jim Crow once and for all; the rise of the women’s movement; and even the beginnings of a queer rights movement–all in the 1960’s. A president was murdered and men landed on the moon. There was a huge societal upheaval that changed everything that people had come to know and expect; television also began to change and grow up some, which led to some groundbreaking series in the latter half of the decade as well as set the stage for what was to come in the 1970’s. The after shocks from the 1960’s are still being felt today.

It was also a strange time for films; at the beginning of the decade the big studios and the old systems of American filmmaking were starting to erode away. The best picture Oscar winner in 1961, for example, was West Side Story, the film version of a hugely successful Broadway musical that recast the feuding Montagues and Capulets from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet into juvenile gangs–one white, one Puerto Rican. (I rewatched this film shortly after the 2016 election, and was amazed at how differently I saw it then I did before) The Academy Award for best picture in 1969 was Midnight Cowboy, to date the only Oscar winner to have an X rating (although by today’s standards the film is remarkably tame), a movie which would have never been made in 1961. (Midnight Cowboy is another film I need to see again, quite frankly; I also would like to read the book it was based on again.)

Mark Harris, a Hollywood historian whose book Five Came Back was made into a documentary which I enjoyed, wrote a brilliant book called Pictures at a Revolution, which looked at how film, and the film industry, changed during that decade through the framework of the five films nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1967; which, if any year was indicative of the changes being made and the changes to come, was indeed the perfect illustration. Two of the films were old style Hollywood–Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and Doctor Dolittle–two were of the new Hollywood–Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate–and the fifth, and ultimate winner  (In the Heat of the Night) seemed to straddle the line in some ways, and whose win–and other four wins–seemed to be a compromise between the old and the new.

Harris’ book, which follows all five films from conception to script development to production and then release, culminating in the Oscar ceremony itself, is riveting and informative. You learn who all the players in each case were; you follow along the studio politics and behind-the-scenes deal-making that went into the making of each film, and in each case, Harris brilliantly illustrates how each film represents an aspect of his thesis. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night both dealt with the current issues of race; one as a gentle family comedy and the other through the darker lens of a murder investigation in a small Mississippi town, Dr. Dolittle represented the beginning of the end of the big Hollywood musical; the early part of the 1960’s gave the world the Oscar winners West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and The Sound of Music; the immense musical flops of the second half of the decade were ushered in with this epic disaster (there’s also a book in tracing the rise and fall of the big Hollywood musical in the 1960’s).

I greatly enjoyed this book, and if you’re a fan of movies, or have an interest in the industry, this is a great read for you. I’m not so interested in the film industry of today, but I am interested in its past, to be honest; I don’t really care about the Academy Awards anymore and often change the channel while it’s on–there are no surprises anymore, and the ridiculous amount of awards leading up to the Oscars, from the Golden Globes to the SAG Awards to the Writers’ and Directors’ Guild awards, have taken away any mystery or suspense as to who is going to win; it’s much more interesting to read about the old days when they were always kind of up for grabs, and hadn’t become the expensive, overblown spectacle they’ve become today.

The book also made me want to watch these films again; it’s been years since I’ve seen any of them, and in most cases, I only saw them in their edited-for-television versions.

pictures at a revolution

Miss Me Blind

The last Friday of 2017. I am working a very abbreviated day at the office today; and have a three day weekend. I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning–nothing new there this week; I’ve felt that way every morning this week–and am really looking forward to being a lazy slug and staying in bed as long as I can the next three days. Huzzah for being a lazy slug! I am also starting to come out of this whatever it was that I had; its lovely to feel this close to normal–I was beginning to forget what close to normal felt like, to be honest.

I finished reading The Creation of Anne Boleyn by Susan Bordo last night, and I have to say, it was refreshing to read something about Anne Boleyn that tried to take a look at her in an objective way; who she was has been so defined over the years by so much misogynistic garbage, as well as the highly biased accounts of two men who hated her–the Spanish ambassador, Chapuys, and the Venetian ambassador–that it was lovely to read  a book about her that tried to take a look at who the real Anne was, and debunk the myths that have, over the years, come to be taken as facts.

Scan 5

The sixteenth century is one of my favorite periods of history, and always has been, as far back as I can remember; the Tudors in England and the Valois in France; the unification of the Hapsburg empire; the rise of Spain as a nation and its own colonial empire and systematic looting of the Americas; the corruption of the papacy and the Reformation; the Renaissance; and the rise of England as a world power. The sixteenth century is also remarkable in that it is the first century of European history where women rose to prominent positions of power, more so than any other: the list of powerful, influential women ranges everywhere from intellectual influences (Marguerite de Navarre) to regnant queens (Mary I and Elizabeth I in England, and even the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey; Mary Queen of Scots; Jeanne d’Albret, Isabella of Castile) to powers behind the throne (Diane de Poitiers, Catherine de Medici) to regents (Margaret of Austria, Maria of Hungary, Marie de Guise), among many other women who influenced the course of history. I’ve always wanted to do a Barbara Tuchman style study of the century and its powerful women, called The Monstrous Regiment of Women. 

The century was also terribly unique in that precedents were set by things that had never happened before: England executed three of her queens, and another in Mary Queen of Scots; France saw a non-royal crowned queen in Catherine de Medici; and of course, there were the marital shenanigans of Henry VIII. And while I am fascinated by many  of the century’s women and their place on the stage of history, perhaps the most fascinating, for me at least, has always been Anne Boleyn.

I’ve never understood the bad rap that Anne Boleyn has gotten over the years from historians; the very first biography of a Tudor woman that I read, Mary M. Luke’s Catherine the Queen, was obviously very anti-Anne Boleyn; she has been painted with the brush of misogyny throughout history as everything from the husband-stealing vixen to the great whore; and yet, the answer has to be more complex than that. Anne Boleyn was responsible for England’s break from the Catholic Church, and while her predecessor Catherine of Aragon is often depicted as the long-suffering victim, there was also no question, in any histories of the period or biographies, that Catherine of Aragon was, the entire period of her marriage to Henry VIII and after being discarded, very much a Spanish agent working against England’s interests in favor of those of her family; the ruling house of Spain. Her goal was to eventually see her daughter, Mary I, sit on the English throne and marry her cousin Charles, thus bringing England into the Imperial fold. She violently resisted any other possible marriage for her daughter; and it cannot be questioned that making England a basic vassal state of the Hapsburgs was hardly in England’s best interests going forward (as was seen when Mary did eventually become queen and married Charles’ son, Philip). Catherine, no matter how romantically people want to view her as the wronged wife and victim, allowed her own pride, and her own ambition, to cause England to be separated from the Catholic Church despite her own seeming piety; for her, her own pride was more important than the souls of the English people. So even the stories of her deep religious faith as a sign of her great character really don’t hold water. And at any time, she could have relieved, not only her own suffering, but that of the daughter she loved so much. I’ve always found these depictions of Catherine of Aragon to be more emotional rather than logical.

No matter what, Anne Boleyn inspired great passion in both her adherents and her enemies. After her death Henry VIII destroyed all of her papers, so very few letters of hers exist and so there are no primary sources of information on her that aren’t tainted by the opinions of the person writing; the Spanish ambassador, so clearly an agent of Queen Catherine, can hardly be trusted to be unbiased. Likewise, the Venetian ambassador was no fan of Anne Boleyn. Yet I’ve never seen any letters from the French ambassador; or from the Scottish ambassador, or any that might actually have been anti-Spanish. All that exists is basically propaganda. And there are few women in history who’ve been more slandered than Anne Boleyn; and not only was she slandered for being the mother of the English Reformation, she was slandered for not being a typical woman of the time. She was intelligent, she was educated, and she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind during a time when women were primarily expected to be quiet and listen to the men.

It was not, of course, uncommon for women who didn’t fit the desired societal mold of their time to be trashed and slandered; it still happens today. Another woman of the century whom I find fascinating–Catherine de Medici–also has had a horrible reputation throughout the years…Jean Plaidy’s trilogy of historical novels about her bears some of the names she was called for titles: The Italian Woman, Queen Jezebel, Madame Serpent. Elizabeth I was also slandered; one can only imagine how the historical views of her would be different had the Spanish/Catholic view of her prevailed.

I am really piquing my own interest in this project again here.

Anyway, The Creation of Anne Boleyn is a fascinating read, and one that Tudorphiles definitely should look into. I highly recommend it.

If Ever You’re In My Arms Again

Thursday! It’s hard to believe Christmas is just next weekend. But I mailed my Christmas cards last night on the way home from work (I am very proud of myself; I generally don’t do cards. But this year I not only bought them, but addressed and stamped them and put them in the mail. Not sure how this all came about, but there you have it.), before stopping at the grocery store, and there it is. I’m a bit worn out this morning, tired despite sleeping well (one lovely thing about colder weather is that I sleep better), but I don’t have a lengthy day today and tomorrow is a short one. I hope to start revising stories today while also working on the book some. We shall see how that goes.

I”m still processing the election results in Alabama the other night. I pretty much saw the whole thing as a foregone conclusion; I am from Alabama and my family is from there, and outside of my immediate family, almost everyone on both sides still lives there. I am very well aware of what the Roy Moore supporters are like, how they think, etc. I didn’t need to red Hillbilly Elegy–I did try, but it’s Appalachian apologia was so smug and frankly, wrong I not only put it in the donation pile but I also donated the cover price I’d spent to the Southern Poverty Law Center. (For the record, I think that book is a falsehood designed not only to fool liberals but to lure them into a false state of understanding; one that will hoodwink them into being fooled again and again. There was nothing true or profound in that book.)

I love Alabama in spite of not only itself but myself. The Alabama values the entire country saw on display during the Roy Moore campaign (a pedophile is better than a Democrat; the entire country is out to get us in a liberal conspiracy; we had no race problems here until Obama; Roy Moore waving his pistol at a rally; everything about Kayla Moore–from her teen pregnancy to  her adulterous affair to her divorce to her gold, diamond encrusted earrings she wore on every occasion to prove to everyone just how much more Christian she is than everyone else) are something I am well-acquainted with; I’ve dealt with that mentality my entire life and have tried, unsuccessfully, to wrap my mind around it for fifty-six years: a Christianity that has nothing to do with the actual teachings of Jesus; an almost fanatical belief that their belief and values are the only right ones and anyone who disagrees is in the service of evil; that Satan is very real and working his evil on the country and the world through the Democratic party; and an absolute, unwavering faith that they are going to Heaven and anyone who disagrees in the slightest way with the way they think is going to straight to Hell unless they repent and change their ways and believe what they do and get on board with their version of not just religion but politics. Religion and politics are very much mixed in the South, and don’t ever believe otherwise; they are used interchangeably to validate the other.

It has always been thus; thus is may always be. And don’t mistake it–this election was far closer than it should have been.

Maybe my outlook is a bit bleak, but the county where my family is from in Alabama went 76% for Moore. So I know whereof I speak.

A while ago, I talked about rereading To Kill a Mockingbird and having a lot more issues with it than I did when I originally read the book, back when I was ten or eleven. Don’t get me wrong, the central message of the book–racism is terrible and wrong–still comes through just as strongly as it did when I originally read it, and it’s still incredibly beautifully written. The problems I saw with it, though, went way beyond the notion or concept of the white savior; which Atticus Finch certainly was. Probably the most false scene in the book to me, and the most problematic, was the scene where Tom is in jail and the sheriff comes to get Atticus because those trashy Ewells have gotten some of the other trashy rural people in the county riled up about Tom’s alleged rape of Mayella Ewell; and they want to lynch him. When I originally read the book the horror of those terrible racists coming to exact an unjust punishment on Tom terrified me, and I was thrilled that the upright citizens of the town came to stand off against them and save Tom. Rereading that as an adult–well, every bit of it read to me as not only false but a-historical. Anyone who knows anything about the Jim Crow south knows that the sheriff wouldn’t have gotten some “good men” together to protect a black man accused of raping a white girl; the sheriff would have been one of them. All one has to do is read accounts of what happened to Emmett Till…and so many others, to call bullshit on this part of the book.

Not every white person in Alabama is, or was, a racist; an active member of the KKK. But those who didn’t stand up to those who were? The word we’re looking for is complicit.

I still haven’t read Go Set a Watchman, but I will at some point. I’m still amused at all the people, mostly white, who were so upset and horrified that their beloved Atticus Finch turned out to be a racist and a segregationist after all. I never once got the sense when I was reading To Kill a Mockingbird, even when I was a child, that Atticus wasn’t a racist; he was appointed by the court to represent a black man accused of raping a white girl–and he did, as he was an ethical lawyer, bound to to defend him to the best of his ability. He did so. Did that make him a better man than a lawyer who might have refused to take the case? Yes, it did. It also made him a better man than a lawyer who would have taken the case and botched it. But what also strikes me as false about this book was the judge who appointed Atticus, knowing he would do the best job possible. Really? Again, all you have to do is read accounts of Jim Crow justice in Alabama to know this is also false. If Tom Robinson wasn’t lynched  he most certainly would have been railroaded. He was found guilty despite the great job Atticus did in his defense, despite proving that Mayella Ewing’s testimony couldn’t have been the truth. That, indeed, seemed real and true to me. But the system in 1930’s Alabama trying to be fair to Tom? Bullshit.

Don’t get me wrong: To Kill a Mockingbird is still a beautiful book, and its message is a good one. But it’s also a fairy tale; a fiction that would have never happened in the time period in which it was set. I also can see why Harper Lee’s editor persuaded her not to publish Go Set a Watchman, in which Scout deals with her father being a segregationist, and write To Kill a Mockingbird, in which her father is a hero fighting prejudice and racism, instead. That was the book that needed to be published at the time; and it was a very savvy move. The book was a huge bestseller, has never been out of print, won the Pulitzer Prize, and was made into an Academy Award winning film classic.

This election, in which a small majority of Alabama voters, led by people of color, chose not to elect the racist homophobic evangelic Christian child molester, was a wonderful outcome on every level. akin to the Louisiana electorate choosing the Democrat over adulterous whoremonger David Vitter for governor. But is this is a sea change for the two deep red Southern states, both of which have a proportionally large evangelical Christian population who seriously believe there were no racial issues in their state until Barack Obama was elected president? Only time will tell–and progressives and Democrats have a lot of work to do in the meantime. A lot. But the South can be won back. It won’t be easy, but it can happen.

And now back to the spice mines.


Pass the Dutchie

Bouchercon next year will be in St. Petersburg, Florida. It will be hot and sticky, but there will be lovely gulf breezes and a sun shower every afternoon right around three o’clock.

Last night we watched LSU beat Ole Miss 40-24; we’re on a three game win streak now and bowl eligible. There’s a bye next week, and then LSU has to play at Alabama. Heavy sigh. I don’t know if I’ll even watch that game…I know I will, but it’s going to be hard to watch. LSU hasn’t beaten Alabama since 2011, and it’s not very likely they will this year. The fan in me is hopeful; the realist in me isn’t.

I did manage to finish reading Anna Dressed in Blood yesterday. I’m not going to review it, though–it was okay; I can see why it appeals to tweens and young teens, but it doesn’t really work on an adult level. I think maybe if I hadn’t watched all eleven or twelve or however many seasons of Supernatural there are, I might have enjoyed it more; but it was too reminiscent of the show for me. The main character’s name is even Cas…and of course, there’s a Cas on Supernatural. Apparently the author, Kendare Blake, has turned it into a series, and that’s terrific. I doubt I’ll read another. I only knew of the book because a tween reviewer raved about my own Sara and compared the two to each other favorably; she also compared it to Pretty Little Liars, which I also appreciated. I started my reread of The Haunting of Hill House last night as well, and also finished reading Craig Pittman’s Oh, Florida!, which I also enjoyed. It reminded me a lot of childhood summers spent in Florida, and even inspired me to drag out an old short story set in the Panhandle, “Cold Beer No Flies,” which I’ve been sort of working on since getting back from Toronto. I do recommend the book highly; while it doesn’t fully explain the weirdness that is Florida, it is very informative, at times funny, and I enjoyed it tremendously.


It’s even got me thinking about writing a new series set in Florida, if you can believe that. But that’s how my mind works. I’ve been toying with a couple of ideas for noir novels set in Florida for a long time–I also have an idea for a funny noir style novel set there as well–and the lovely thing about having this book on my shelf is I can always take it down and reread a section to get my inspiration jump-started.

I also need to get that damned copy edit of Jackson Square Jazz finished this week. That’s my goal; get the copy edit done, start the final revision of the WIP, and do two chapters of the new Scotty this week while writing some short stories. It’s lofty, but I think I can get it all done.

And on that note, t’is off to the spice mines.


So, I had to go to the DMV this morning to renew my driver’s license, which had expired on my birthday and I hadn’t realized it, like an idiot. The DMV is never a great experience, and yesterday was no exception to that rule. But I was able to finish reading Christopher Golden’s Ararat while I was there, which made the time pass much faster (I was there slightly less than two hours) and I did end up taking what had to be the worst driver’s license photo in history–at least my personal history of driver’s license photos. Insult to injury? My last one looked terrific. Heavy heaving sigh.

Even more insult to injury? It looks like me.

Ah, well.

You have to hate that. Anyway, I managed to finish reading Ararat, which was enjoyable, and this evening I started reading Margaret Millar’s Do Evil in Return, which is quite marvelous.


Just past eight o’clock on the last morning of November, the mountain began to shake.

Feyiz froze, breath catching in his throat as he put his hands out to steady himself, waiting for the tremor to end. Instead it worsened. His clients shouted at him in German, a language he did not speak. One of the men panicked and began to scream at the others as if the devil himself were burrowing up through the heart of the mountain to reach them. They stood on the summit, vivid blue sky rolling out forever before them, the frigid air crisp and pure. An idyllic morning on Mount Ararat, if the world had not begun to tear itself apart.

“Down!” Feyiz shouted. “Get down!”

He dropped his trekking poles and sank to his knees on the icy snowpack. Grabbing the pick that hung at his hip, he sank it into the ice and wondered if the six men and three women in this group could even hear him over the throaty roar of the rumbling mountain.

The Germans mimicked his actions.

I read an essay recently which discussed how, out of all the types of genres and subgenres in literature, that horror is the most faith-based of them all. It sounded absurd at first, but as I read the essay and thought about it more–and have, obviously, continued to think about it–that premise is pretty spot-on. Not all horror is faith-based, of course; there’s nothing about faith in films like Halloween or any number of horror novels I could think of (The Other, for example); but so many of them actually are that it’s kind of fascinating; especially when you take into consideration the way religious groups generally condemn horror books and films. The Exorcist is deeply rooted in Catholicism; and to name two, neither The Omen nor Rosemary’s Baby could have been written without knowledge of the Christian Bible. Ghost stories are predicated on the idea that there is life after death; that the soul continues to live on and needs to move on to another plane–whether that be heaven or hell, those books rarely make the distinction. The existence of the supernatural in a lot of horror proves that faith, and religion, are real and true; and after all, isn’t religion itself supernatural? I have made the offensive (to Christians) joke about Easter being a celebration of a zombie; and if you can get past the faith and look at any religion and its rituals, you can see what I mean.

I blaspheme, of course. I am an apostate heretic who would have burned not so long ago in our history.

I’ve read Christopher Golden before; I greatly enjoyed his Dead Ringers, and have Snowblind in my TBR pile. This week I took his Ararat out of the pile to read, and it again put me in mind of how so much horror fiction is dependent on religion for its existence. The opening scene quoted above, of an earthquake shaking Mount Ararat in Turkey, ends with a tremendous landslide, one which greatly changes the geography and the face of the mountain itself, long purported to be the final resting place of Noah’s Ark. The existence of the Ark, of course, would prove that the Bible is, at least in this instance, literally true (although Christianity is not the only belief system from the Middle East that tells of an ancient flood); there have been reports in the past that it has been found; but the likelihood of wood thousands of years old surviving is not great. But this landslide opens a new cave on the side of the mountain, high up; and soon the race is on to be the first to scale the mountain and see what’s inside the cave. The first section of the book has to do with one particular team racing to beat several other’s to the cave; risking their lives in the process. But the team–lead by adventurous couple David and Meryam, who explore and write books and make documentaries about their exploits–that arrives first soon discovers that the cave isn’t really a cave but the Ark itself…and there’s something else there that should have never been discovered.

To tell anymore would, of course, risk spoiling the story; there are so many twists and turns and scares and shocks that to give away anything more than is contained in the cover jacket blurb would be a disservice to future readers and to author Golden. But I couldn’t stop reading; resented having to put the book down, and was very satisfied when it was finished. Golden also includes diversity of characters in all of his books and does it casually; I also appreciate the fact that he chooses not to describe non-white characters in terms of food or drink–I could go the rest of my life without reading about “cinnamon” or “chocolate” or “cafe-au-lait” skin.

But just think about it for a moment–if the story of Noah is actually true, the flood changed the world and refreshed it; a reboot by God, as it were, and there are some verses in Genesis that show how different the original world was before it was cleansed–the one that readily comes to mind is There were giants in those days.

I look forward to reading more of Mr. Golden’s work.


Electric Avenue

Tuesday, and tomorrow I get my new dryer. Heavy heaving sigh. The laundry is piling up.

But I did manage to write another chapter of the new Scotty yesterday, and got to bring up/set up the moral dilemma he’s going to experience through this book, which was kind of fun. It’s also a massive change-up from the opening of the book, which is also way fun to do. If I can manage a chapter a day, this book’s first draft will be finished in about three more weeks. How cool is that? I also managed to get the second half of the WIP line edited. Don’t get excited; I did the second half first, and now am going to do the first half–but am doing the second quarter first, and the first quarter last. Capisce? It makes sense (to me). I am trying not to get distracted by the story and focus more on the language more than anything else. Once I input all these cuts, I will go through it one last time. I also have one more scene to write, for the end. (No, I haven’t gotten the end right yet. It’s another reason I think I keep futzing with it. But it’s going to be much better now than it was.)

Ah, self-confidence. I wonder what that would be like, to have some?

I started reading Steve Berry’s The Lincoln Myth, which appears to be about the Mormons, the Civil War, and Abraham Lincoln; I am only about seventy pages in. I wanted to read Laura Lippman’s Sunburn next, but I only have an electronic copy and I forgot to charge my iPad, and that battery was deader than Lizzie Borden’s parents. I literally went over to the book case which is filled with books I’ve not read yet, closed my eyes, and reached for one. Hardly scientific, but there you have it. Sometimes you just have to let chance take you by the hand. It’s kind of interesting to read a book by Steve Berry with the Civil War as a plot point–given the latest bad publicity Berry is getting, about a memo he wrote when he was a prosecutor in Georgia, before he turned his attention to writing thrillers with a base in history–but as all Berry novels, it’s a quick read with lots of action. Berry also cross cuts between several different points of view, and you can never be absolutely certain who are the bad guys and who are the good. I am curious as to what the secret hidden away for almost two hundred years in the Utah desert is, what it has to do with the Civil War, and how it can affect the present (which is the basic plot structure of every Berry novel; some long hidden secret could have dangerous ramifications in the present unless Our Hero gets to it first before the Bad Guy), but I do enjoy the suspension of belief and getting on board that train. And he does research the books; there is always some semblance of historical truth buried in the books. (The Columbus Affair taught me a lot about Jamaica that I didn’t know, for example, and The King’s Deception likewise taught me some Tudor lore I hadn’t been aware of previously) So, we shall see. His series character (not all of the books belong to the series) Cotton Malone is kind of a James Bond/Jason Bourne/Jack Ryan hybrid, but like I said, I enjoy suspending my belief and going along for the ride. What can I say? It’s fun.

I don’t have to go to work until later today–bar testing–so I am hoping to get some cleaning done, serious work on the book(s), and maybe even take some time to read a bit more.

And so, it’s back to the spice mines with me. Have a lovely Tuesday, all. And here’s a Tuesday hottie for you: