Saturday, May 6, 2017

Getting Things Done

Well, I have finished with the second big edit and revisions to the vampire novel that I've been working on for a year and a half or so now. Next comes doing all the work in the computer file from the print copy and all it's blue Flair markings/notes/crossouts/additions/etc. For whatever reason this is the slowest I've ever worked on a project.

Meanwhile-butterscotch-a collection of stories basically fell together with ease. I'd put the ten stories plus a children's story (which is a real story that I wrote in the mid-1990's for Kelly when she was little that I mention in a fictional story called The First Publicity Tour as the author's breakout book) late last year, but then projects like Black Knight, White Rook, 13, and Miss Peculiar's Ghost Stories, Volume I took precedent over this little volume. It was a quick read in proof form with surprisingly few edits needed. It should be available this coming week on Amazon. It is in 5x8 format, the format Kelly chose for Parapsychology, which I now agree is easier to hold and carry along to the beach, the doctor's office, on the bus, commuter train, or wherever you need a book to help you pass the time.

Last night, on the spur f the moment I offered my scribbled in proof copy of butterscotch up for grabs on facebook...and immediately two author friends pounced on it. One just beat the other out by a fraction of a close that they're both getting proof copies since I always get two- one for me to make my edits and revisions in, one for my eagle-eyed assistant editor/proofreader, Kelly, to mark up with her pen. I'm delivering Sandy's copy to her daughter's shop Mama Cakes later this morning. Melissa will get hers the next time our paths cross, which is fairly often. A third writer friend and a button collector friend also expressed interest...but they'll have to wait for the new pristine copies when I order some for stock.

butterscotch is a mix of older stories from the 1990's up to last year. It begins with a story called The First Publicity Tour in which a young mother is about to leave on her first publicity/book signing tour to promote a children's book she's written (Prince Hubert, the Chicken- an actual children's story I wrote for Kelly after making it up one night when she was really sick and we were sleeping in the den with the humidifier puffing away) for 8 weeks. Her little boy, Sam, is sort of pestering her, doesn't want her to go. He's a geeky, awkward kid and she's anxious about leaving him for so long. He's actually a lot like her- creative, not athletic. Thursday, when I finished reading the last adult story in the collection, Crossroad, it occurred to me that it's about a thirty-something writer named Sam Cross who lost a wife and unborn child and became somewhat reclusive, but is beginning to emerge from depression and grief and starts writing again. It struck me that the grown Sam in this story could be the young Sam from the first story in the collection as an adult. The other eight stories are not linked or related, although The Boy on the Beach is about a female writer recharging her battery off season at the beach when she has an encounter with a unusual little boy. This writer has a dog named Rex Libris. Rex is the name of the family's dog in The First Publicity Tour, so I suppose this could be that young woman, now ten years or so older, taking a break from home life with the family dog as a companion, but it wasn't written originally with that intention since The Boy on the Beach was written in the 1990's and The First Publicity Tour was written in 2015 or 2016, so it could be loosely linked that way.

butterscotch has some stories in it that have difficult subjects- in The Long Blue Line the wife of a police officer struggles with grief and anxiety on the day of her husband's best friend's funeral. He was also a police officer and was killed in the line of duty responding to a bank robbery. I based a lot of the story on a real event in my life. In the mid-1980's I was working as a campus police officer in Springfield when two Springfield police officers were shot and killed during a traffic stop. The funeral was in the vicinity of the college where I was employed, and many police departments parked on campus and marched from the lot, my campus police department being one of the delegations marching in solidarity with the Springfield Police Department since the district patrols would often swing by for coffee and to chat during the night shift and assisted us with arrests and other problems on campus when needed. It was November, gloomy, raw, but thousands of men in blue marched to the church, then caught buses and marched again from the funeral home to the cemetery. To be a part of a solemn, somber, sobering occasion like that transformed my life (I was in my early 20's at the time) and it still makes me cry today to read this story.

Discarded is about throw away kids in our society. One little girl's life is changed when a trucker, who prefers night driving, nearly mows her down on the side of the road. At first he thinks she's a mannequin, but then his mind replays the images from the incident and he realizes that it was a real child he saw and he goes back to investigate.

Fugitives and Poppy both have domestic abuse and violence as a theme. Two young people in Fugitives are fleeing violence in the home when their lives intersect in the wee hours of a rainy morning. She needs the money he has on him. He needs the help and transportation she can a bond is formed between them- they need one another.

Amazing Grace, So Many Chances, and The Night Before Parade Day deal with the death of a beloved pet, the death of an older brother by suicide and family secrets, and the death of the matriarch of a large Irish family as the St. Patrick's Day parade approaches.

Cross Road connects a young woman who lost her ability to speak at age fourteen when her mother was the victim of a savage carjacker and she was kidnapped by the same drug-fueled man who didn't even realize she was in the passenger seat and is startled when he finally notices her and plows the car under the rear end of a jacked up pick-up truck, nearly killing her. She's mute and still grappling with the aftermath of the violence she witnessed, the death of her mother. She ends up in the home of a 30-something writer whose bipolar wife committed suicide, killing herself and their unborn child a few years ago. He stopped writing and became reclusive as he's struggled with grief and guilt about the incident. He's beginning to emerge from his self-imposed exile, but the young lady he brings home after a visit to NYC and his publisher, is a bully toward the mute Virginia, and the young woman is driven from the house. She finds work in a hotel, but one night she's mugged, dragged into an alley, her head smashed against a brick wall and her throat cut, eerily reminiscent of the violence committed by the carjacker. She survives. The writer's housekeeper with whom Virginia was close, recognizes her and comes to take her in so she can continue her recovery. It's a story about two people who've suffered loss and traumatic events connecting, finding a common ground, and moving forward with their lives.

The included children's story, Prince Hubert, the Chicken, is an actual story I wrote around 1995 for Kelly, one of many. I use it in The First Publicity Tour as the children's book that the writer mom is leaving her family behind to go off and promote on her first book signing tour. I chose that story and used it in this story because the mom has a young son who is geeky and awkward. He has issues. In the children's story, a scaredy cat little prince is empowered when he downs a "magic potion" concocted by a wizard. He charges off to fight a dragon that's been plaguing the village all by himself. During the course of the battle, the weary combatants pause to drink from a stream- and end up lifelong friends. It's about finding one's one inner strength and courage, facing ones fears head on and resolving them.

butterscotch is my favorite flavor. When I was a child out trick or treating in the 1960's we got full size 5-cent candy bars and handfuls of loose hard candies from the candy departments at local 5 & 10 stores. I LOVED the butterscotch buttons. My brother and sister hated them, so I would trade other candies from my bag for their butterscotch candies and split them with Mom, who also loved butterscotch buttons. About a year ago John and I went up to Richardson's Candy Kitchen in Deerfield, MA and I bought a bag of butterscotch buttons for myself. Kelly had never had one and didn't seem that interested. Then, one night, we were writing together in the kitchen and she decided to try one. I keep them in a glass jar on the kitchen table. She is now addicted to them, too.

So, while trying to come up with a title for this collection of stories once the first edits were done I was kicking around ideas and not finding one I liked. My eyes happened to fall on the jar on the table and the word butterscotch popped into my head- so it became the title of the collection of stories. Kelly and I took a trip to Deerfield two Sundays ago and purchased four bags of butterscotch candies (and one of root beer barrels). Back home, I dumped all the butterscotch buttons out on the table in a big pile and took some pictures. One of those pictures now graces the cover of the book. I love the color- it reminds me of my Dad who loved the color yellow. He's been gone 6 years now. Lots of real life connections with this volume of stories.

It will be available this coming week on Amazon.

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