Never In A Million Years

Laura had been born in upstate New York. She died August 26, 2004 on Long Island – 11 years ago now. Only 52 at the time, she’d died in her sleep of a previously undiagnosed cerebral aneurysm.

For those of us who grew up fans, she was like a local gal who’d “made it.” I saw her perform live once, and won’t ever forget it:

A sneak peek into "Distances." Click to enlarge.
A sneak peek into “Distances.” Click to enlarge.

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What Would Abraham Lincoln Say?

The U.S and Canada are said to be the only two major developed countries to grant automatic citizenship to the offspring of foreign nationals whose parents are in the countries without legal authorization. Regarding the U.S., Rasmussen polling noted on August 19:

Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters disagree with the current federal policy that says a child born to an illegal immigrant here is automatically a U.S. citizen….

It is not just “federal policy.” It is a right that stems from nearly 120 years of legal practice based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment. That amendment was ratified in the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865).

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a globe.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a globe.

The Washington Post tells us as well:

Donald Trump’s call for doing away with birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants has once again focused media attention on the idea and led some of his GOP rivals to signal openness to it….

The pressures of an ongoing, mass immigration, particularly from Mexico and Central America – and especially foreign nationals entering and staying without official permission and having U.S. citizen children – has become a contentious issue among many Americans. It is certainly driving this new debate on birthright citizenship.

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Flesch-Kincaid “Ease” Of Reading

Yesterday, I was on about the cover art. Of course, the tale between the covers is far more important. After all, you can change a cover even after publication, whereas the book itself is “forever.”

Planned
Planned “Distances” cover.

I’m still working through the final proofing of Distances. As I am, it’s not only about keeping an eye out for errors and typos; it’s also about its language – carefully reviewing the text in detail to try to make sure it conveys the story in the style I want. I suppose it’s not unlike an artist’s having a last look at the painting and applying the final brush strokes.

Readability,
Readability, “Distances” chapters 125-133

While writing the books, occasionally I run parts of the text through the Flesch-Kincaid readability check. That above is how chapters 125-133 in Distances “rate” overall in reading terms according to that test. Flesch-Kincaid has become so commonplace that it’s now even available in Microsoft Word when you do a combined spelling and grammar check.

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Ultimately, It’s About “Forever”

Other than writing blog posts, I’ve had my head buried in Distances over the last few days. I’m getting bleary eyed. If I find another stupid typo, I may lose it.

Desperately needing breaks, I’ve tried now and then also to read (catch up with, may be more accurate) some blogs. The other day, I happened on this from Kate Colby:

You are probably not the next Hemingway, either (and that is STILL okay!)

And she’s absolutely right, of course. Yet that’s also a relief. For that’s actually fine by me.

Free Stock Photo: Close-up of antique books on a white background.
Free Stock Photo: Close-up of antique books on a white background.

Why?

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Future Academics Will Find Lots Less Paper

Good morning. This might be called PART II to yesterdays’s post:

Screen capture of title of yesterday's post.
Screen capture of title of yesterday’s post.

That retired English literature professor’s disdain for “social media” embraced by “young people” led me to thinking. How much has changed in novel writing over the last few generations. One aspect of such change has zero to do with annoying kids insisting on using Twitter on holiday when, AS WE ALL KNOW, they should be sitting on Bournemouth Beach immersed in The Great Gatsby.

“The Great Gatsby” first edition cover, 1925. From Wikipedia.

I don’t write my novels longhand. True, there is nothing new in someone doing that of course. We know typing has been around for over a century.

But a typewriter is just another form of physical writing. What’s changed in the last two generations is increasingly everything is on computers. And those computers are becoming ever more sophisticated.

As you may know, I’ve been proofing the Distances manuscript using a Word file emailed to my Kindle. (The last part of that sentence would’ve totally baffled F. Scott Fitzgerald.) I’m not inking out lines and words and scribbling in planned changes above them or in the margins and handing those changes to my devoted secretary…. who is invariably a lovely, ever-helpful woman who works for close to nothing because I can barely pay her, and she can type, because, being a man, as you know I’m a pathetic typist….

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Our Distinctive Writing “Voice”

The net is wonderful in so many ways. It brings together those of us who otherwise would never have known each other. It allows us to share so much with others who may be equally enthusiastic about…. whatever it is we’re enthusiastic about.

I’ve read quite a lot of Thomas Jefferson over the years. You may know the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. diplomat in France from 1784-89 (a period of his life that, you may not be shocked to learn, has always been of particular interest to me), first Secretary of State, Vice President, and finally 3rd President, even gets casual mentions in my novels. That’s because, unsurprisingly perhaps based on my real-life interest, I’ve made “James” something of a “fan” too – and by this 3rd novel it’s well-known among other characters, who sometimes have some fun with it:

"Distances" back cover character quotes. [Original photography by me, 1995.]
“Distances” back cover character quotes. [Original photography by me, 1995.]

So when I saw this quote on Twitter a few days ago, I’d thought: How interesting? Hmm. I’ve never seen that before?:

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Across The 3rd Novel Finish Line

The finish is no longer somewhere off in the, uh, nebulous “distance.” It’s done. The draft Distances manuscript is finished:

Screen capture of the top of the final page of the “Distances” manuscript.

And, whew, in a way I am about finished now, too. I crossed the finish line yesterday afternoon. After I did, I sat for a few moments staring at the computer screen in semi-disbelief.

What remains now is the final proofing for spelling, grammar, and any other errors. Doing that will take a month or so: it’s nearly 93,000 words. I already found a few mistakes in rereading part of it last night.

Tourists at the Eiffel Tower. [Photo by me, July 1996.]
Tourists at the Eiffel Tower. [Photo by me, July 1996.]

As I wanted it to be, Distances is similar in scope to Passports and Frontiers. Based on how long those each took me, I’m actually over a month ahead of where I had expected to be with Distances about now. I’m not quite sure how I managed to so outpace my planned “timeframe.”

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Friday ’80s Musical Interlude

As we know, fictional characters say (or think) what is obvious to them, but what is also not necessarily clear to us. Often we’re “eavesdropping” on them as well. So at any given moment we may know more than they do, or know less. It all depends:

Excerpt from
Excerpt from “Frontiers,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

Incorporating subtle references to the 1990s and the years just prior (which are part of their own “recent” life memories), is just a bit of fun. Music, television and film favorites are part of that. We know life can’t always be treated so seriously, of course.

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What’s Going On At The Channel Tunnel

The Channel Tunnel is a remarkable engineering feat. I’ve been through it several times. I couldn’t resist writing about it – and did in Frontiers:

Excerpt from "Frontiers," on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Frontiers,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

In recent weeks, there has been a great deal of media reporting about “migrants” (I use that word purely for shorthand description) from outside of the European Union (E.U.) who have been attempting (mostly nightly) to breach the tunnel entrance area’s security fence in France. They do so because they are usually attempting to stow aboard coaches or trucks – usually 18 wheelers, or lorries as the British say – that are waiting to be loaded onto the vehicle-carrying shuttle train to be transported to Britain. If they can somehow hide in one, they can get into Britain.

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Saturday Sinatra

A quiet Saturday morning. Tired mentally from the writing of the last few days, I was also at a loss this morning for a decent blog post topic. Then, suddenly, this hit me: I had been listening to this song at one point (it’s on my iPhone with others of his) while working yesterday and again while emptying the dishwasher a little while ago.

Whether it’s a decent post or not is entirely your call as always, of course. ;-) I’d had a look on YouTube and found this video for it, and it is more inventive than most: it cleverly edited in artistic, black and white, photographs. These are some examples:

Screen capture of YouTube.
Screen capture of YouTube.

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