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Yo… what’s the deal with “The Ersatz Saga”?

Well well. It’s finally official. I have released Alice the Fifth and RE-RELEASED The Seven Isaacs.

Let’s be honest. Back in 2011, I was a bit naive and a little bit vain to rush The Seven Isaacs to self-publish. I was immediately review bombed for all the typos and editing errors in it, so I pulled it. It was a necessary ego blow. It did take me some time to get over it. By the time I did get over it, I was full on writing a different novel. And then another one.

So there I was. Left with the Herculean task of editing three novels, pretty much all at once. That ended up being WAY more scary than editing one novel.

This past summer, I finally set myself to task and began at the beginning. I started with The Seven Isaacs, developed a rhythm and immediately went right into Alice. They were ready to release.

Back when I wrote The Seven Isaacs, I swore up and down that it was it’s own unique and singular story, that it would not be a series. Those kids went through enough and they didn’t need any more trauma in their lives.

Fast Forward six years. I’m sitting in a hotel room in Syracuse NY, stranded during a March Nor-Easter snowstorm and the stupid bug bit me. That creative one, where you get this magical thought and it spins out into 125,000 words.

That magical thought was a ten year gap. Why pick up the story where it ended. That story was over. BUT, the story was just beginning as those kids from that first book became adults. Where are they now? What are they up to? Who are they fucking? What are their fears? What makes them happy?

Turns out those kids still had their own issues as young adults and it opened up a whole new world… and Off-Worlds… and other dimensions… and time loops… and so on.

This week I published the two novels simultaneously. My wife, who has read both books and has been my intermediary for both books says she wants to read the final versions of the novels. She told me that she would start with Isaacs, and was perplexed when I said, that she should start with Alice. Fast forward a few days to when the books go live on Amazon, and she sees the new title attached to Alice ,”The Ersatz Saga – Book One”

“Why is Alice book one?”

And, I am sure she’s not the only one with that reaction.

The Seven Isaacs IS it’s own SINGULAR story. It is NOT A SERIES. Isaacs as it turns out is the backstory. It is the story of “The Incident” that is so integral to the story of Alice.

Alice the Fifth on the other hand IS the beginning of a series. Alice. Abigail. Mason. Alex. Isabella. Arthur. They all have stories to tell and Alice barely touched upon it. Time will tell where this goes. Do I jump ahead another ten years? Do I jump five? A month? Immediately pick it back up? …I’m not sure yet. I do have an inkling of certain story arcs that will make up the future books.

And Ersatz… that took me some time to find. The Thesaurus and I spent some time together doing some deep digging to find the right name for my series. I won’t spoil it for you. You can look it up.

The Seven Isaacs and Alice the Fifth are now available on Amazon.com

As always, purchase. Enjoy. Please leave your reviews. Those numbers are important!

Updates

So, there’s quite a bit of news and updates to share shortly. Details to come soon. It’s been a pretty busy late summer. Early summer was spent working on Galaxie. After that, it was time to get back to work on the books and get them fully re-edited and ready for release.

The artwork is ready. Just a few more weeks of fine tuning left and we will release all of these to the wild.

Galaxie – First and Second Draft

So, as I wrote last time I checked in, I was digging out an old screenplay and starting from scratch, building the story from the ground up. I have since finished that screenplay. It is a FAR better story than it’s original incarnation from roughly ten years ago.

It took some time, and I realized I was back in the groove again. I would lose myself for hours writing and working this script to the tightest form of it’s story. I would love to go deeper into detail, but as it turns out… Galaxie actually has some weight behind it and there’s a strong possibility there could be some production lingering in the future.

The skeleton is finished… but the story on this has just begun.

Update – Holy shit. It’s 2019.

When did that happen?!

Greetings from the nearly Great White North! It has been quite some time since I have updated this site. I surprisingly, have STILL been working on Alice the Fifth. After numerous edits, I still felt the book was too long and the pacing was all off. I made it my mission to get the book under 100,000 words as most feedback I received from agent and publisher queries was that it was too long. The first draft was 127,000 words. Yeah, it was a bit bulky. The second draft came in around 108,000 words-ish and was still a little draggy and strangely, over sexualized.

When I put my mind to it, I was able to chop hundreds and hundreds of words from each chapter and cut her down to her core. It worked wonders for the story and constantly revisiting the characters after long periods of time helped me develop their arcs in ways I didn’t know were missing. This third draft was a cathartic process. It opened my eyes to truly editing a story. It has changed the way I look at my own writing, and that’s a good thing.

And here we are now. A few months later. Alice is under 100,000 words. Now the real work begins. I’m on the hunt for a publisher and an agent once again.

This past summer, I had the pleasure of collaborating on a solid rewrite and overhaul of a good friend’s short film production. My Inspired World is nearly at the end of it’s process. Post production is almost complete, and I should have more news on that to come in the near future. It has been a blast working with writer and director, Joe Channell. He is wide open to my sage old school indie film wisdom and is so eager to make the best picture he can.

It makes me feel like such a better person to help guide him on his vision. It is strange to me that my legacy will always be what I’ve inspired in other people. Years ago, when I was a substitute teacher, I somehow managed to inspire more than one student to become educators on their own, even after I gave up that hellish profession. Joe, was an actor, an extra on the Coldest Winter and look at him now. Directing out in Los Angeles and busting his ass like a true producer in L.A. I am grateful to be able to work with someone I inspired and be a true mentor.

In response… with any luck, we’re going to team up on a feature. Something that we both found as a shared passion. Muscle cars. I recently dug up an old screenplay from the archives and now, in the process of rewriting from the ground up. Maybe it’s time for me to get back behind the camera again. I do miss it. That’s for sure.

The Biking Incident.

I am out of it. I truly thought I already posted it. So much that I have all of the photos below on my ipad already and set to go. Oops. I guess I got busy and forgot to tell this daring tale of adventure and excitement.

Back in April, I won a $200 award at work for one contest or another. Those happen all the time. My lifelong friend Harold had been bugging me to get a bike to ride with him. He had been riding since last summer and was using it to be better in shape and keep his diabetes in line. So, I decided, yeah, I wanted a bike. My neighborhood gang ALL used to ride our bikes all over the north country all summer long. As kids, we would ride ten miles a day, easy, if not more. As we got older, that grew to twenty miles in a day. SO yeah. Fuck it. Let’s get back to that! I need that in my life.

So, I bought a bike.

She’s a beauty and exactly what I wanted. I wanted to take advantage of all of the snowmobile and ATV trails that surround my area. I also added, as I discovered later, cross country ski trails.

Once the bike arrived, I took a week or two to get myself adjusted to the routine… and adjusted to holy hell my thighs hurt. Harold and I took to the Black River Trail, which is a paved walkway through the Black River in Northern New York. It’s a VERY simple ride. It’s only about three miles. That was our warm up.

Harold had been biking for nearly a full year more than I had, so he was more adjusted to the routine.

A few weeks go by, after both of our schedules not meeting up, until May 29th. It’s game on. He heads over to my place. We throw the bikes in the truck and do a quick 1 mile off road loop around the Tug Hill area. It was too easy so, we needed to do more. We were just getting started.

It was a mild day. Nothing outrageous. A little warm. A bit sunny. Nothing unreasonable. It was also 9am.

“I know a trail nearby,” I say, “that I have been dying to try out. I walked it last year. It’s perfect for mountain biking.

This trail, the Oak Rim Trail, near Barnes Corners, NY is a cross country ski trail. It’s pretty rough terrain, but, as I had hoped, absolutely perfect for mountain biking.

We’re seasoned enough at this point, that this is a fairly easy ride. It’s gorgeous countryside and it overlooks one of the biggest ravines and cliffs in the area. You literally ride along the tops of the cliffs and try not to fall off as you stare off into the cliffs across the way.

I’m booking along at a pretty good clip. Up hills. Down gullys. Crags. Tree roots. Hopping and grinding my way along this tight path of a trail. Every once in a while, we would stop to check the markers on the trees to make sure we were headed on the right path.

What Harold neglected to tell me in his year of riding is that he wasn’t really an off road guy. He was a strictly ON road guy with the bike and had been, most recently, riding fifteen miles every couple days.

I tore through the forest… until I realized he wasn’t behind me any longer. I thought that perhaps, I had ridden a little too fast. He’s a big guy and I can be pretty limber and quick when I’m into what I’m doing. I stop and turn back, riding back, nearly as quickly as I had left, to find Harold, walking his bike.

“Dude,” he said, “I pulled something in my back,”

He was in pain, I could see it.

“While I was pedaling up that hill, I just felt a strain in my left leg, and something popped in my back. How far are we from the end?”

I checked my “Map My Ride” app. (I had been running it the entire day). We were only about 1 1/2 miles in.

That white circle is where we entered. That Red X is where he was.

Since I had walked this path before, I knew of that straight line right there. That, was high voltage power lines. That, was a service road.

“We’re not far form the service road,” I said, and showed him on a different app that I had been using for trails.

“Okay, I think I can make it to there,” he said and we took off on the bikes again.

I sped away, thinking he was right behind me. Again, I realized that he wasn’t.

Okay, he’s just walking, I thought. I’ll wait here.

Fifteen minutes pass.

Okay then… I had better go back and look for him.

I ride back, he’s on the ground. Prone. Staring up at the now very sunny sky.

“It’s my back. I can’t do anything,” he said.

I tried to help him to his feet. Nothing. Too much pain. Howling, grunting, painful back pain.

I’m going to need to call 911, I thought.

“I’m not going to make it out of here on my own,” he said.

“Do you need me to call 911?”

After some short deliberation, “Yeah,”

I step away down the trail and call 911. Now, I’ve never called 911, but I have seen it on TV. I was a little nervous and excited.

The operator came on and I explained the situation.

“I can see you on the map,” she said, “but how do we get emergency services to you?”

Again, the service road is nearby. That’s the best route.

“They’re on the way. Please stay on the line,”

She talks to him. We know it’s not a super emergency. It’s not a heart attack. He is a city firefighter, so he is trained in as much EMS as anyone that would be headed our direction.

“Can you ride out to meet them?” The 911 operator asks me.

Here I go. Adventure time!

“Please stay on the line, until they find you,” she says.

I strapped my phone into my shoulder bag. Yeah, it’s a fanny pack I have just for travel and carrying water with me while biking. (Harold, maybe you should invest in one). I begin my trek to the tree line and the service road.

I chug along at a pretty good clip. I could feel the muscles in my thigh starting to burn. I could feel the sweat gathering all over my head, under my helmet. I tear through that forest like she’s my bitch. Until I came to a hill that I definitely had to walk up.

Walked it out. Rode through the downed trees and hollow ground. It had the weirdest feeling. Tree roots had extended far under everything in the forest and you could feel the ground beneath you hollow from years of tree roots.

I make it to the tree line. I’m sweating. The sun is getting hot now.

The power lines tower above me. The sky is spotless and crystal blue. The sun is bright and hot. The path below me. Green. Filled with life and weeds and… a giant gaping swamp where the “Service road” is. It’s not a service road at all. It’s just where the power lines go through and where the forest had been cleared.

Shit.

I explained this to the operator and made my way through the swamp. I hefted my bike to my shoulder and slogged through the muck, which was much deeper than I had anticipated. The mud went straight up to my calves and I almost lost my shoes twice.

FINALLY, I got to the road. Ten seconds later, the operator guides the EMS crews to me.

From here, Aside form the seventy year old men that responded, I led the younger EMS crews back, on foot to where Harold had gone down. I ditched my bike and walked them back through.

We get to Harold and they begin to assess the situation. He’s sweating. He’s pale. He doesn’t look good. Not. At. All.

“First thing, we have to get you to your feet,” they say. It’s a four man operation to get him to his feet. He’s coherent, despite laying in the only spot of sun in a dense forest.

We all grab him and heft him up. He gets to his feet and the pain is overtaking his body. They diagnose him as dehydrated. They give him water. He tells them he’s diabetic. They give him a glucose packet.

The pain is great, so he sits down on a fallen tree, with everyone holding him up.

As soon as the glucose packet hits his lips, the lights go out.

He falls to the ground unconscious.

Well, shit.

The EMS crew leaps into action. They whip out a little pack with a portable IV to get him some fluids. They attempt to call for help from the others who are still arriving, the radios don’t work. We’re too far out in the sticks. The woman tries her cell and has no signal. Another EMS worker uses his and has signal. (Verizon)

Harold SPRINGS back to life, fists swinging. He clips one of the EMS guys right in the thigh. He is OUT OF IT. He has no memory of where he is, who is is or what happened. Thirty seconds later, the pain comes back and he’s on his back, again.

The discussion of how to get him out takes place. The ATVs can’t get through the trails. They are too narrow. …they also can’t get past the swampy service road.

The town guy tried. But that didn’t fare well. When I left, later in the day… he was still back there.

It’s obvious that they need to call in help to have more people come and carry him out. The phone calls begin.

I grabbed Harold’s bike and rode it out to the road. There was all sorts of commotion by this time.

People are arriving left and right. I’m hanging out with all the old people. More people arrive. More people head back into the woods.

An hour goes by. I’m hot. Having a blast. I got to do exciting off routine stuff all day.

We went in at 10 AM. I got back to my house at 2:30 PM.

It was an adventure. There’s more details I’ve left out. The story gets longer each time I tell it. By the end we had three fire departments there. NYS conservation officers. A park Ranger. Two state police officers and a bunch of volunteer helping hands to carry the big guy out.

That, was my biking adventure.

Harold is doing fine. Two bulging discs. He’ll be back on the bike again soon.

I have been quiet

For most of this year, yes, I have been quiet. I, purposely, set myself on a course for advancing my career. I spent a good deal of time focused on doing the work, AT work. In the end it paid off and recently I took a promotion that I had been working so hard for. In doing so, I did set my personal hobbies and quests aside for the time being. Many of which involving Alice the Fifth. Alice is dear to me, and I want to get this one right. I need her to be as tight and perfect as can be, in order to submit to publishers and literary agents.

With the new position at work, I now have hour lunch breaks, where in the past it has been half hours. That, suddenly, has provided me with a dedicated hour a day to work on editing and tweaking and cutting down Alice’s word count. Turns out lit agents kinda frown upon 125,000 word modern feminist sci-fi novels. Need to cut about 30,000 words to get to where we need to be. So, I’m doing that daily on my lunch breaks for the last two weeks. It seems to be going well. I am getting ruthless with the editing and rewrites in ways I never have before. It’s doing wonders for my writing.

I’ve also taken up mountain biking, on a regular basis. It’s fun exercise and it gets me out exploring the world. The bike, I bought with money won from a contest in that said day job, so it all ties in nicely. There is actually a very long, personal story that ties in with the photo above that I will have to sit down and write another entry just dedicated to that.

My television watching has somewhat slowed down. I feel like I’ve watched all the good stuff and have been at a loss for other things to watch. Once in a while I will come back to True Detective Season 1. Fargo Season 2. Breaking Bad. But, mostly, I’ve taken back to reading. I’m going through a couple novels a month. That’s good for the writer inside. And, lately, at night, I decided that after twenty years, I wanted to get back into, and up to date with comic books. I’m enjoying the modern runs of Cable, Daredevil, Avengers, Old Man Logan. I’m enjoying reading a book or two before bed each night instead of the television.

That’s what I’ve been up to. Maybe I’ll write the story of my biking adventure tomorrow.

Back in the saddle… again

Greetings folks. It’s been a while. Life, as usual takes over for a while. I have been slowly, quietly editing Alice down to as few words as possible to make her the strongest work I can. Earlier this year, I made a round of submissions with the word counts attached and the general consensus was that the word count was too damn high. So, that’s been going on in the background.

In other news, today, I stepped back on the public stage and sang again for the first time in about five months or so. Last year I had been realizing that I was not happy singing in public. The summer and the year in general was wearing on my urge and desire to perform. In October, it was solidified by two horrendous weekends in a row. The first, I was heckled by drunken patrons for about three hours until I mouthed off and lost my shit on the dude. A week later, at a different location, I was pretty much at the end of some sexual harassment that I wasn’t enjoying or party to. In most eyes it would have been harmless fun. Two or three years ago, when I was drinking more, it would have been a blast. But, sober, and not looking for that sort of entertainment, it cut me harder than I expected it to. An older, not attractive woman decided that my bald head would be perfect as deodorant for her skanky boob sweat, and proceeded to drunkenly climb on the bar and yank my shirt until it tore as she lifted her shirt, trying to rub my head for luck? I’m not sure. She was drunk and her daughter, who was standing at the side of the room was horrified. Drunken gorillas like that have ridiculous brute strength.

I was not pleased. I was not happy. I decided that I don’t get paid enough for that shit. So, I took a break.

I am happy to say that six months later, I stepped out onto the stage again. I found a nice Sunday brunch to perform to and it was amazing to get back up there and work out those kinks. My voice was on point. As if I had never stopped. My guitar playing was pretty decent, although my lack of practice showed in my muscles and tendons. As of right now, I can barely type with my left hand, because my forearm aches so. But it was worth it. The venue was perfect. Right on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. The crowd was receptive and the management was very grateful. I had to play quieter than I am used to, but it was a good exercise and it was the perfect way to ease myself back into it all. I missed it.

Music is very therapeutic. Singing is some magical release of endorphins that makes the world right. The surprised and pleasant applause as ears hear your voice for the first time is just enough of an ego push to make it all better. It makes it all better. I’m glad I did it. It was a very good day.