The Soundtrack

Yesterday, while I was doing more unpacking (after that heavy post), I had my iPhone playing background music. Mostly, I was conscious of it only occasionally. In fact, at one point, I’m sure it must’ve repeated “No Reply” by the Beatles at least three times before I noticed.

I suppose I was just humming along. “Hmm reply! Hmm reply!” I usually write with music playing too – from classical to pop.

Some writers need SILENCE, but I don’t really require a library style hush. Mostly it has to be just consistent, reasonably volumed, sounds around me. Someone in an adjoining room with a TV blaring AND channel surfing totally wrecks my concentration. (And drives me nuts!)

In the novels I make veiled references to various 1980s and 1990s singers, but never mention any by name explicitly. Having thought about it this morning (Classic FM on, as I prepare to tackle some of the last post-move mess), I asked myself that if I wanted a “soundtrack” for the tale (in the same vein as the “Which actors?” for the film adaptation game), which songs would I think reasonably captured it? I created a quick iPad playlist of ten:

A playlist.

A playlist.

Some were hits, urr, way back when in ye olden days of the 1980s and early 1990s. Some were lesser known. There’s also a timeless one by Frank Sinatra, covering a Beatles song.

Those generally convey the spirit of the tale. They reflect tone pretty well too. It’s just interesting to think about that sort of thing. :-)

Have a good Thursday!

In Her Memory

Following on from yesterday, some “insider” info. If you’ve been stopping by since February, you may know. They were not idle words: I am going to do it. She will have her own page among the front matter:

image

The cameo appearance has made it into the tale as well.

I’ve left everything I could on Frontiers’ pages. It’s not perfect, naturally, but hand on heart I feel I’ve given it my best effort. That’s all we can ever aim to do, isn’t it?

Free Stock Photo: Sunflowers in a field.

Free Stock Photo: Sunflowers in a field.

A thought, a dedication, a nod. Just something. In a two decades’ long friendship, she never let us down. I pray I haven’t let her down now.

Whew, I need a cup of coffee….

The Initial Unveiling

Well, the full sequel is now “out there”…. being looked at for the first time by others besides myself. This may be even more of a “story shocker” for them than the first book. It is also making the “proof read” rounds in a far more complete form than did the series opener.

Bracing myself for impact: Frontiers: Atlantic Lives, 1995-1996, is the now full, official title.

Almost a year’s worth of struggle. A personal hell at times. To say that I’m feeling “nervous” – even a bit sick to my stomach – is an understatement.

Free Stock Photo: A tree in fog at night.

Free Stock Photo: A tree in fog at night.

Having broadband finally installed meant I had, uh, no more excuses for avoiding sending off large files. It was past time, and I well knew that. You can write yourself silly, producing hundreds of thousands of words, but if no one ever reads what you’ve produced, if it never touches someone else, or gets them thinking, there’s no point really.

Anyway, time now to pursue something of the mundane, but decidedly necessary: to put a second bed back together. ;-)

Have a good Tuesday, wherever you are reading this. :-)

T. J. On The Wall

A late in the day post, relatively speaking, from me, I know. It’s just that our domestic broadband just went “live,” and I’m taking advantage of it over a cup of coffee. After over a week “in the internet wilderness” (restricted only to spotty and at times even totally unusable mobile broadband), I feel I am properly back with you all! And with solid (and no longer astronomically expensive) net access, in coming days I can FINALLY get the new book polished off! (And then immediately begin fretting over the next volume, which I’ve already started.)

No desk yet, though: the last of this book will be completed on the dining room table. And we’re unpacking still, post-move. I’ve been at it much of the day. I’ve also reconstructed – for the third house – some cool bookshelves we like:

I can be relatively handy, believe it or not. Order slowly arising from the chaos of a house move. Bookshelves reconstructed. Trowbridge, Wiltshire. [Photo by me, 2014.]

I can be relatively handy, believe it or not. Order slowly arising from the chaos of a house move. Bookshelves reconstructed. Trowbridge, Wiltshire. [Photo by me, 2014.]

Getting that done felt good: they are a jigsaw puzzle to rebuild, to say the least. Yes, top left hand corner, is an American flag clock: a gift from my parents back in, I think, 2002. It has been on numerous walls here in Britain over the years. To the top right, caught in frame, that’s a print of Sydney, Australia – a fantastic city we love. Best of all, hey, look at what I unboxed a little while ago:

Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860): "Thomas Jefferson." [Photo by me, 2014.]

Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860): “Thomas Jefferson.” [Photo by me, 2014.]

He’s soon to go up on yet another office wall. That print was another gift many years ago from my parents. Mr. Jefferson has followed me across the Atlantic, and this here in Trowbridge will now be his fifth English home.

It’s no secret. We all know. He was not exactly the biggest fan of the British government of his day:

I am sincerely one of those, & would rather be in dependance on Gr. Br. properly limited than on any nation upon earth, or than on no nation. but I am one of those too who rather than submit to the right of legislating for us assumed by the British parl. & which late experience has shewn they will so cruelly exercise, would lend my hand to sink the whole island in the ocean.

So I find it mildly amusing hanging him up on walls all over the country. I also firmly believe he would have a much more friendly view of the British government of today. I’m also pretty sure he would be ecstatic at the stable republic that eventually evolved on the other side of the Channel. (What he would have thought of the two huge, twentieth century, U.S. military interventions in that country is, of course, another question.)

Have a good what’s left of your Monday, wherever you are in the world. :-)

Want To Be Goodreads Buddies?

If you are on Goodreads, and are interested in being friends, send me an invite and I’ll “friend” you back. Thankfully, Kate Colby has broken the ice. I’m glad.

Passports: Atlantic Lives, 1994-1995

I’ve been negligent of that site. Early in the year, I’d gone through all of the “approved author” vetting, and signed up. Yet I have done almost nothing with it since: my authoring “social media” energy has been directed here, and to Twitter.

My main Goodreads problem is the same as I, uh, face with Facebook. Goodreads is for my pen name, so I can’t “like” and “invite” anyone I know under their real names as Facebook friends in case they also “follow” the Crime Novelist. Given he’s on Goodreads too, he’ll notice me for sure, thus destroying my pen name “cover.” ;-)

This dual identity stuff is exhausting after a while.

Clocks have gone back here in Britain early this morning. I’ve been so out of touch, I don’t know if they’ve gone back in the States yet. Eh, maybe I’ll wake up my parents in Pennsylvania with an early phone call and find out! :-)

What Does “Oksana” Want?

We all know that genuine romances have begun thanks to the web. Marriages have even resulted. Numerous people’s lives have been happily transformed.

Then, looking on, there are certain relationships that begin over the net that give us pause. “Melvin” is divorced from a friend of my wife’s. After their breakup some 8 years ago, he had told his ex-wife about a Ukrainian named “Oksana.”

Yes, that’s right. I had vaguely thought they were reasonably close in age, but have recently been told she’s about 25 years younger than he is. (He is about ten years older than all of us.) Apparently she lives near Odessa. (In case you ever wanna stop by.) I’ve also been told he insisted he did not know her while they were still married.

Okaaaaay. Yes, you there, I can’t see you, but I bet you’re shaking your head too. Given the divorce, most of our info naturally comes via third parties. Over the years, we’ve had loads of unanswered questions.

Because it has long sounded, well, fishy. (There’s a shocker, eh!) Yet perhaps it’s a legitimate romance? Who are we to draw conclusions?

Still, even among an American or British, or European couple from the same country, we outsiders would probably gently question any such May-December relationship. What is “Oksana” getting out of it? Understand, “Melvin” is not exactly a British version of George Clooney either.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a couple being served a romantic dinner.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a couple being served a romantic dinner.

Then again, maybe there is love? But if there is, after 8 years a marriage usually happens in a long-distance relationship. Or at least some form of cohabitation has appeared.

A few weeks ago, when we were visiting his ex-wife, unexpectedly “Melvin” appeared. He had popped by for some reason, but the women were out. So I was able to chat with him alone and for longer than at any time since their divorce 8 years ago. Before it, he and I had been cordial, and even friendly.

He balanced on a sofa arm on the other side of the lounge, and breaking the momentary silence between us, he started the conversation: “I guess you’ve heard? Uh, Ukraine? Oksana?”

I said I had.

He seemed a bit uneasy. He said he’s moving to Odessa in the spring. I decided not to judge, to see if I could find out anything more.

I pointed out matter of factly that Ukraine’s not in the European Union, and unmarried he can’t just up sticks and settle there as if it were, say, Poland. He seemed a bit caught out, and replied he can stay 90 days without a visa, which is what he has been doing all these years – going back and forth for shortish periods.

He seemed to relax as we spoke, perhaps relieved I didn’t call him names or laugh at him or something.

“Is she Catholic or Orthodox?” I asked. (He’s CoE, but irreligious.)

“You do know there’s a war going on there right now?” (Hundreds of miles away from Odessa; and I knew that. I was just asking questions.)

“I’ve not been there,” I noted, “but I’m guessing living there is a lot different in some ways to living in Western Europe or America?” (He nodded.)

“How much Ukrainian have you learned to live there?” (A little. Not much, he said.)

I also voiced polite surprise at his saying “Oksana” has no desire to move here to Britain. To me, if you love someone – truly love someone – you’d live anywhere. (After all, he says he’s moving to Ukraine.) And a move to Britain is not exactly moving from Ukraine to Mars. He mumbled something about her not wanting to leave her family….

I write this post today because last night his ex-wife phoned Mrs. Nello, and during their chat noted that “Melvin” says he bought a house there several months ago. He also told her that in buying a house the Ukrainian authorities will let him stay. That would seem unlikely; but, then again, maybe Ukraine has some “foreign investment” scheme whereby if you bring in money, you are given residency?

Hmmm. Who knows the truth in all this? I do know he either chose to be evasive with me in not mentioning the house purchase, or he’s lying to his ex-wife about having bought the house. (As if lying to an ex-wife – lying to me hardly matters – has never happened ever before? I know.)

I don’t really care what he does with himself. “Melvin’s” an adult, and if he’s been content flying back and forth to Ukraine to see “Oksana” for nearly 8 years with no evident commitment from her, that’s his business. One has to believe money almost certainly went her way too.

My gut tells me it’s about money. I suppose I just feel a bit sorry for him too. Eight years? Geez. I hope he’s not going to feel like a complete fool at some point if he arrives there unannounced and walks in on “Oksana” and a Ukrainian boyfriend who’s about the same age as she is.

I know this post has zero to do with my books. Ah, but given what I write, I look for inspiration all over the place. At the very least, this episode provides me with some potentially useful “fiction” future story material! ;-)

Hope you’re having a good Saturday, wherever you are reading this in the world. :-)

____
UPDATE: Having seen this post, Mrs. Nello said I’d “had quite a go at him.” Actually, if I sounded harsh, I didn’t mean it. It’s just the whole situation sounds to me, well, decidedly odd and full of potentially big trouble for him.

I Hate Repeating Myself

There was a time I inhabited a realm in which I had imagined I wanted to write a MASSIVE novel. Fortunately I came to my senses quickly, cut Passports to a sensible length, and saved lots for a sequel or two, or three. After all, I mean, really, who’s got time to read and digest the likes of this in one go?:

Herman Wouk’s “The Winds of War” – all 1,110 pages of it! [Photo by me, 2014.]

Where am I, you ask? Uh, I’m on page 310, and I think I’m doing fairly well. If I’m lucky, I’ll be finished by 2016. :-)

My first sequel was never envisioned by me as a 100 percent, stand alone novel. However, as I crafted it, I drifted into writing it as possibly being read as one; yet it’s still part of a series. Also I dislike it when a given book in a series rehashes too much that had already been covered in earlier volumes, so I’ve done my best with the coming second novel to avoid perhaps irritating readers of the first book with too much repetition. (My wife tells me the “Tom Cruise” “Jack Reacher” novels – which she loves, but I’ve never read – can be somewhat repetitive.)

The danger in that approach is new readers may find themselves “lost,” but I also view this tale as lives in progress, so being partly “confused” is, of course, what life is all about. So parachuting in for the second book without reading the first is certainly possible, but if one can start at “the beginning,” why not do so? Having read Passports will certainly assist a reader in starting the sequel already familiar with who the heck all of these people are – including, for instance, our inimitable crime novelist, Uncle Bill:

image

I have been thinking I could also eventually combine the two novels into one grand, 800 page-ish tome. Again back to the notion of the “big book.” However, for now, they will remain separate. I’ll leave any decisions as to how they are to be handled beyond my lifetime to my niece and nephews: my trusted literary heirs. ;-)

In my current re-read of the sequel’s draft, I keep finding silly errors and typos that I should have found during the previous re-read. [Cue seriously annoyed expression.] Moreover, organizing our move from London to here in Trowbridge – or “Trow-vegas” as our Sky TV installer joked to me – has nearly stopped my daily production in its tracks for the last week.

I’d wanted my proofreaders to have it by last weekend, but I didn’t even come close to making that self-imposed deadline. Interestingly, aside from the “sneak peeks” on here, no one has seen the entire sequel as a full novel so far…. except myself. The first book was “shown around” initially at a far earlier stage.

Crunch time fast approacheth….

First, back to sorting out “the office” post-move. Currently, I use that word “office” only, uh, very loosely.

Have a good Friday, wherever you are reading this….

The Office

Like great athletes, we world changing novelists have our writing superstitions, peculiarities and habits. I’m discovering mine include “routine” and “order” – which I sorely miss when I lack them. Meaning this is just not gonna cut it for much longer:

The heart sinks a little. What will be the office. Trowbridge, Wiltshire. [Photo by me, 2014.]

The heart sinks a little. What will be the office. Trowbridge, Wiltshire. [Photo by me, 2014.]

Ahhhhh! That’s to be our office here! Eventually!

I’m trying desperately to finish the sequel. Sigh. In recent days, I’ve been working (when I can) on the last bits on a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 – a nifty device that is part PC/ part tablet. Unlike iPads, it has Word, which is indispensable. It also has Flash; again, iPads don’t.

You may think you don’t “need” a PC anymore, but you do. We also don’t have proper broadband yet either. (Sky says that’s coming Monday.) So I have to use mobile internet, which flickers… 3G to 2G, to GPRS, to E and back to 3G, and so on…. unpredictably.

But I have also learned that the other day I had a paperback sale out of our friends’ Chipping Sodbury shop! I won’t mince words: when people buy your work, it’s an immensely satisfying feeling. You must be doing something right! :-)

Bookends Of Christchurch….

….really deserves a plug here on my modest site:

A bag from Bookends, Christchurch, Dorset. [Photo by me, 2014.]

A bag from Bookends, Christchurch, Dorset. [Photo by me, 2014.]

I found that Bookends bag – which, ironically, held some old forks and knives – while unpacking our kitchen. We had lived in Christchurch (next to larger Bournemouth) for over ten years (until we sold our house there in mid-2013). Last Christmas, right after Passports was published, a former (very enthusiastic) neighbour of mine went into the shop and asked for it.

She’s one of those personalities in life we have to know at some point, or we’ve missed something. Earnest and honest, she has more than a touch of “Isobel Crawley” from Downton in her. (And her daughter is – yes, really – married to a “Lord.”) “I wanted to go into a real bookstore and pay for it at the till and walk out with it,” she later emailed me in a booster-ish, show the world determination, voice. “Not just buy it online.”

She also wrote saying that the shop had ordered two copies – one for her obviously, but also one for the shelf. When they came in a few days later, she rushed over and bought one. Knowing her as we do, I’m sure she’ll do all that eventually again for the sequel.

There are people who just make you feel good in this life. They aren’t easy to find. When you do, hold onto him/her as long as you can. :-)

Anyway, I’m sitting here “procrastinating.” Moving boxes don’t unpack themselves. Time to get back at it….

Classical Stuff

This is one of the “media things” I love about Britain. Just before 8 AM, I’m listening to it right now. It’s the Classic FM music station:

Screen capture of the Classic FM web site.

Screen capture of the Classic FM web site.

Yes, NPR in the U.S. does classical music, of course. There’s a local outlet (WMHT) we like and often listen to in upstate NY. But often it’s similar to Radio 3 – which I like too, but at times is just a bit too “high brow.”

Screen capture of the BBC Radio 3 web site.

Screen capture of the BBC Radio 3 web site.

In contrast, Classic FM has more of a lighthearted feel. (It’s also commercial, unlike the BBC.) One minute a presenter plays Mozart, the next the theme from the Magnificent Seven, and then J.S. Bach, and then the Imperial March from Star Wars, and so on. It’s great stuff.

It’s pleasant music to have on while doing the authoring thing. And it makes for a necessary change sometimes. After all, we all get tired of listening to our old Corynne Charby CDs eventually. ;-)

_____

P.S. Moving day is almost upon us. (It starts later today, and really happens on Monday.) Lots to organize, and won’t get much of anything else done for a few days. I may be a bit quiet on here until Tuesday.

Have a good Friday, wherever you are in the world. :-)