Saturday, December 30, 2006
Friday, December 29, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Moral of the story: Don't go to Gymboree under any circumstances.
Monday, December 18, 2006
I haven't even gotten through Wikipedia.
I'm trying to nail down a couple of things. I'd like a better name for my centurion and there seems to be a naming convention that I could use with a little inventiveness. I'm also trying to find out which Roman legion was stationed in the area and how they operated; central location v. independent detachments. Little is said about the centurion who's servant was healed so much must be assumed from the historical record. Now that the story is finished, I don't feel like I'm avoiding real work by researching the details.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
This weekend will be a long one for me and the family. We're going to a cabin down in Long Beach, WA. No phone, no TV, no internet. Lots of family time. Good stuff.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
I also picked up another Gemmell book The Hawk Eternal which is a sequel to Ironhand's Daughter. I'm sure I'll review that one as I go along but first I have to finish A Fortress of Grey Ice by J. V. Jones. More on that later.
In other news, 'Faith' is nearly finished. I'm probably going to submit that one to Dragon's, Knights & Angels.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Friday, November 24, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Friday, November 17, 2006
Twenty major events that have occurred since the Chicago Cubs last laid claim to a World Series championship:
1. Radio was invented; Cubs fans got to hear their team lose.
2. TV was invented; Cubs fans got to see their team lose.
3. Baseball added 14 teams; Cubs fans get to see and hear their team lose to more clubs.
4. George Burns celebrated his 10th, 20th, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th, 70th, 80th, 90th and 100th birthdays.
5. Haley's comet passed Earth twice.
6. Harry Caray was born....and died. Incredible, but true.
7. The NBA, NHL and NFL were formed, and Chicago teams won championships in each league.
8. Man landed on the moon, as have several home runs given up by Cubs pitchers.
9. Sixteen U.S. presidents were elected.
10. There were 11 amendments added to the Constitution.
11. Prohibition was created and repealed.
12. The Titanic was built, set sail, sank, was discovered and became the subject of major motion pictures, the latest giving Cubs fans hope that something that finishes on the bottom can come out on top.
13. Wrigley Field was built and becomes the oldest park in the National League.
14. Flag poles were erected on Wrigley Field roof to hold all of the team's future World Series pennants. Those flag poles have since rusted and been taken down.
15. A combination of 40 Summer and Winter Olympics have been held.
16. Thirteen baseball players have won the Triple Crown; several thanked Cubs pitchers.
17. Bell-bottoms came in style, went out of style and came back in.
18. The Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox and the Florida Marlins have all won the World Series.
19. The Cubs played 14,153 regular-season games; they lost the majority of them.
20. Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Oklahoma and New Mexico were added to the Union.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Most of us write with some kind of plan in mind. It may be a detailed outline or it may be just the feeling we got when we started typing. That plan flows along just fine until something unforseen crops up. We throw in a line that we didn't intend because it sounded cool but later we find out that it takes the story in a slightly different direction and gums up the plan. Like a car bomb, it can make a mess of things. Also like a car bomb, first aid will be rendered and an investigation will be started. (Unlike a car bomb, no one is literally dead but since I like to live in a figurative world [just ask the friend I emailed this morning] that's not much of a concern.) After all that a new bus stop will be put in place and everything will be hunky dory again. Your writing will be stronger with a few car bombs thrown in.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Finished but missing the spark that will make it complete for me. It's about the dangers of messing with the status quo between two cultures, one that lives high in the atmosphere and one that lives on the ground.
'Right of Replacement'
Also finished but the end does not have the emotional punch that I felt when I dreamed it up. This is a Christ allegory about a newly victorious rebel leader sacrificing himself for one of his men.
'The Battle of Raven Kill'
This is mostly conceptual at this stage with a couple of possible sequels. It will be heavy with combat and the inherent internal struggles that that provides.
My novel that began as a story for a friend. This has a lot of potential but is tricky to plot because I've failed before at novels that fell apart late in the storyline. I'm trying to get a coherent plotline to go with the character arc that has firmed itself up nicely. It's a high fantasy story with heroic elements.
This is the working title for the story of the centurion of Capernaum in Luke 7 and Matthew 8. I'm telling the story from his point of view because he has always fascinated me, us both being in the military. Jesus will show up soon and say his lines. I hope to capture what the centurion must have been feeling based on the many clues sprinkled throughout those passages.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Now I ask you, who could refuse a meal with such delicious description?
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Sigarni travels to the other world and finds that her blood has powerful magic there. Her bleeding hand holds her bow and the bow begins to grow back into a tree when she steps through the gate. Her friend and sidekick, Ballistar, is what we would call a little person today. He has some of her blood on him from her hand and he grows into a whole and complete man. She also has a bit of bone from her long dead ancestor, King Ironhand. When she takes that out he reforms form it and thanks her for bringing him back to life.
They have adventures and regain Ironhand's old crown. This is supposed to be the reason they went through, the crown is needed to forge an alliance. But that alliance could have been achieved by any old plot device. It didn't need to have this alien world all of a sudden pop into the story. Sigarni does realize after seeing how this new world's endless war has destroyed the land that she no longer hates her enemies enough to do that to her world. So you have two Important Things happen but my point still remains that the side trip wasn't necessary.
The biggest thing that bothered me with this is that the Crown is hardly mentioned after she gets it. Also, she goes ahead and engages in a battle that saves her people for the time being but that she knows will only bring more Bad Guys along. So both objectives for sending her there turn out to be irrelevant.
The only good thing that comes of it is Ballistar's choice to return to the other world even though all its food and water are poisonous to him. He chooses to die as a whole man rather than continue living as a dwarf. Poignant, but I'm sure the politically correct crowd would criticize Gemmel for that.
Ironhand's Daughter gets two and a half stars.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Sunday, October 15, 2006
I watched a movie on AMC last night (or actually, I watched a lot of commercials with a movie sprinkled in between) called 'The Last Samurai' with Tom Cruise. He plays an American Civil War veteran who gets hired by the new Japanese Imperial Army to train and modernize their troops. The new government is trying to modernize and is outlawing samurai. The samurai don't take kindly to this and rebel. The story is about Tom getting captured in battle and slowly getting to know and respect his enemy before changing sides. It's a very good movie and you should watch it because it perfectly illustrates the topics of the last few days here.
Act One (part one)- Setup, orphan hero and other characters are introduced, hero captured in battle that is plot point 1.
Act Two (part two)- Reaction, wanderer hero lives among the samurai and observes their ways, pinch 1 happens with a wooden sword fight between hero and samurai warrior. The midpoint is revelation that chief samurai has been captured and will be executed. Hero changes sides and starts taking steps to free him.
Act Two (part three)- Proaction, warrior hero kills government assassins and becomes samurai himself in pinch 2. Frees samurai chief, some minor characters die, in plot point 2. Now we see that the antagonistic force has actually been the modernizing Prime Minister who is trying to destroy the ancient ways of the Japanese people.
Act Three (part four)- Resolution, martyr hero and samurai chief lead the last of the samurai into battle against the regiments of the Imperial Army who now have cannon and automatic weapons. The samurai make a good showing but they get shot up and only Tom Cruise survives. He gives the chief samurai's sword to the Emperor, who finally gets a backbone and fires the Prime Minister. Bushido, the way of the warrior, wins out in the end.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Now for Act Three. Act Three starts with the warrior
hero, who has been getting more proactive towards
accomplishing his goal, becoming the martyr. He has
gone through whatever transformation he needs to,
using info learned in the last Act, to drive towards a
resolution and defeat the antagonistic force thus
getting what he needs. But first, more on how Act Two
Plot Point #2 ends the second act and announces the
beginning of the third. Vogler terms this as the
hero's death and rebirth, in figurative terms. Frodo
tangles with Shelob and doesn't fare well. Sammy
saves the day and the hero now knows that everything
may have to be sacrificed to dunk the stupid ring.
Aragorn reveals himself as the King of Everything and
admits that he must march on the Black Gate in order
to save humanity.
Another thing that has to happen right before we get
to Plot Point #2 is a lull. This is the darkest hour
where all seems lost. Ringwraiths ride unchallenged
across the battlefield. Not only is Frodo dead but
the orcs of Cirith Ungol (or is it Minas Morgul?) are
going to eat him. This is usually the event that
triggers the hero's transformation. Very often a
major sidekick or perhaps the mentor will die here.
So Act Three (or the fourth part) opens with a
transformed hero who has new power and is ready to
give everything. In Love Actually, this takes
place when Hugh Grant starts knocking on doors looking
for his love interest. In Notting Hill this
takes place when Hugh Grant starts driving through the
streets looking for his love interest. This part is
called, not surprisingly, the resolution.
A resolution must resolve things. If you have a big
novel, there will be a lot of things to resolve. This
part takes up about a quarter of your length. The
important thing to remember here is that all the cards
are on the table. Everything is revealed, except in a
mystery, and no new information or characters are
uncovered. As far as plot devices go, the hero has
all the means to achieve the goal. Sauron is toast.
The Death Star is headed to the scrap yard. Somebody
is finally going to realize they love Hugh Grant.
Whatever questions you brought up to make the story
interesting, they get answered now. Good guy wins.
Bad guy loses. Lights come up and you think, "Holy
cow, did I drop a lot of popcorn."
Now, a good resolution will still leave a reader
wondering how this is all going to happen. Everyone
knows the hero will succeed in the end. Unlike real
life, fiction has a climax and an ending. But we're
not sure who's going to survive with him. You should
have plenty of sidekicks around to kill off at this
point. Most importantly, the hero needs to be the
architect of his own victory. Even if the cavalry, or
perhaps the Rohirrim, rides over the hill to save them
all it is still the hero who kept it together long
enough to beat the bad guy.
Like any structure description for writing a story,
this can be wiggled around a bit. However, you move
off of it at your peril. There is a reason this
structure describes so many memorable and commercially
successful stories. There is a reason it has been
around since Homer. It has all the beats that
resonate with a Western audience. It is comfortable
to watch. Therefore it is satisfying, allows us our
catharsis, and fills up our need to be entertained.
All stories can benefit from a structural analysis
using this form.
This sure turned out to be a long series of posts.
I've got to review them now and make sure I didn't
forget anything. I took another look at a novel I
tried to finish a couple years ago and I'm noticing
that there are several places where I didn't follow
the structure. Sure enough, those were all the places
where I felt bogged down and directionless.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
There is one specific scene that needs to happen in this part. Brooks calls this Pinch #1. You have to pinch your readers to remind them what the danger is and what's at stake. This is best done in a very blatant way, most likely after a particular test or trial is failed. You could also have one of you allies show up and save the hero. For Vogler this would be the Approach to the Inmost Cave. Beware, here there be monsters.
At the midway point of Act Two, which is also the mid point of the novel, you have a major revelation of information that completely changes the course of the story. Before that, your wandering hero was searching for clues. After it, your hero has the info he or she needs and is ready to become a warrior. They have stopped reacting to events and they start being proactive. Now they take the fight to the antagonistic force. Vogler places this as the Supreme Ordeal. In Star Wars this is the time spent on the Death Star and the midpoint is the revelation that R2 has the plans necessary to destroy it. From that point on, we're no longer just flying to Alderaan, we're trying to save the galaxy.
The proactive time after the midpoint also should include Pinch #2. Once again the hero and the reader need to be reminded in a pointed way that there is a real possibility of failure. The antagonistic force shows up again but this time we have new knowledge and the stakes have been raised. The antagonist is now more dangerous than ever before.
All this leads to Plot Point #2 and the end of Act Two. Act Three is the resolution and I'll discuss that later.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
As an orphan, the hero is disconnected from everything that's about to happen. Then a pivotal event occurs that launches the direction of the story. After that event, the hero wanders in search of information and has to learn how to get what he wants. Then the hero transforms into a warrior who starts taking steps to get him to his goal. After another pivitol moment, the hero is willing to give up everything necessary and become a martyr. This applies to almost all stories from romances to thrillers.
A very popular form of storytelling is the three act structure. This fits very well with the heroic stages above. Act One is about a quarter of the whole work and it is the setup for what we all need to know in order to enjoy the story. Introduce characters, set a hook (usually with foreshadowing), show the hero's needs and situation, etc. This does not mean no action. This just means that a story is building and the hero is mostly unaware of it. But the structure here is about pacing, whereas Vogler uses the structure for plot. The two are different.
Act One ends with a scene or two that make up Plot Point One. This should be roughly one quarter of the way into the story. It is the first time that the adversary, be it a person, a disease, or a storm, is put front and center so there can be no mistaking that the direction of the story is changing. The hero is usually presented with a choice to make. This is what Vogler describes as entering the Special World. In Star Wars, Plot Point One is the death of Luke's Aunt and Uncle. And I bet it happens at 26 minutes into the movie.
I'm running out of lunch hour. We'll move on to the rest later.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Sunday, October 08, 2006
The next two sessions were separated by a long lunch where I had to go meet with a potential landlord and walk through a house we're probably going to rent. Both sessions were taught by Larry Brooks and were absolutely excellent. They made the whole weekend. His explanation of story architecture was one of the clearest I've heard, and like I just said, I know a thing or two about storytelling. If you get a chance to go to one of his longer seminars I would highly suggest it. He gave us the sixteen hour version crammed into about two hours.
What some people don't like, most notably the self proclaimed left-brained writer who walked out on him, is outlining and organizing their story. They want to just let it flow and see where their characters take them. This is wonderful but will often lead down paths that don't make for good novels. This is why we have to write so many drafts before we get it publishable. Notice I didn't say, 'get it right.' 'Right' is a subjective thing that can change from person to person but 'publishable' is pretty well established by the industry. (Like it or not.)
He got his ideas on stroy architecture from writing screenplays. Almost all good movies have very similar pacing. A hook in the first five minutes, a pivotal plot point at 22 to 26 minutes, a major event that changes the direction of the movie at the midway, and then another plot point at the 3/4 mark that announces the beginning of the resolution. There's a great deal more to it than this because the main character is also going through their transformation at the same time. If I think I can present the ideas in a more logical fashion, I just might. It's much easier to grasp when you can draw out a timeline.
The point is that this is a time tested structure that matches the way a person emotionally responds to a story. It also synchs up with another popular structure, the Hero's Journey. More on this later, kids need to go to bed now.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
The last class of the day was on Theme. Eric Penz gave a good presentation where he asked the question 'why write' and listed the answers; they all pointed to a need to say something important. That something is your theme. If you didn't have something to say you'd pick some easier hobby. As Jim Macdonald has often said, keep theme simple. This was the theme of the presentation as well.
After that it was home for cheeseburgers and kids who should have done more to pick up the downstairs room. Tomorrow: Day Two.
We were asked to write an opening line or book blurb that would hook a reader. Someone in class came up with this one that got the best reaction from the group (and I'm paraphrasing badly):
"When Jane found a body in the ditch she knew it would be difficult for her. The police were skeptical, her parents were ashamed, and her church group shunned her. The only one who took her seriously was the killer who knew exactly where she lived."
That's pretty good.
If we didn't have a mystery novel in the works, which I don't, we could come up with an opening line following the dialogue, "Where were you last night?" I offered this tidbit and it seemed to go over well:
"Rachel hid the knife in front of her and did not turn around. He was not close enough to kill with one strike and the kids might wake up any minute."
I then patted myself on the back.
The most beneficial thing she helped us with was a two sentence formula for summarizing a novel. This is needed for query letters to editors and agents and always seems to be troublesome. Essentially you need to ignore 75% of your novel and get to the point. Too many people, me included, think you need to explain a lot or no one will understand what your plot is. The trick is to forget the plot and focus on five things: Situation, Character, Objective, Opponent, Disaster. This also is similar to Donald Maass' advice for queries: Setting, protagonist, problem.
It was interesting to try to write two sentences that encapsulate the novel I have percolating right now, Broken, which is the rest of the tale that is started with my short story 'Protector'. Here it is:
"With Kingdoms and factions pushing towards war, Jacob Trueman must keep the Kingdom's Daughter alive. When a ancient evil reveals itself and brings devastation to the Kingdom's borders, Jacob must fight enemies seen and unseen to protect his charge."
That's actually a shortened version of what I first wrote. I could probably take a few more words out as well. But that's the point of the exercise. The summary here is not the complete story and says nothing about the journey Jacob makes after fleeing from the good guys after being falsely accused, etc. etc. etc.
I'll have more time to blog later but things are off to a good start here.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
I often get into debates over silly things like
movies, books, or torture. I suppose I could avoid
these situations if I really wanted to but I don't.
They make me a better writer. I shall pontificate.
Debate is an exchange of ideas with the intention of
persuasion. It is not a simple conversation; there is
a presumption that right and wrong will figure into
the final assessment. There will be a winner and a
loser. (Unless you're arguing about abortion, then
there will be only losers.) Therefore, you must bring
your A game. You have to clearly state your position
and define how it differs with your opponent. Then
you have to support your position with facts and
reason while attacking the enemy's (sorry,
'opponent's') facts and reason.
Some people can do this well and some cannot. I've
found that when people start getting emotional about
an issue the debate portion of the evening is usually
over. Typically this is when I start talking about
football. This might also be because I have the
amazing gift of taking someone else's facts and
reasoning and making it say what I want instead of
what they want. (Why? Because sometimes I can't
dazzle 'em with brilliance.)
So how does this relate to writing? Fiction is much
like a debate. You are lying and trying to make it
sound convincing. Unless you're writing a sweeping
historical romance you only have a certain amount of
time to make your point and hook your reader. As a
writer, you should train yourself to quickly sort out
what is relevant, what is fluff, and how you can
quickly present it. Debate will help you with this.
It's also fun at parties.
Let's examine this. For structure, we do have a beginning, a middle, and an end. For plot, we have characters, crisis, and resolution. For theme, we have envy and redemption. Dialogue is a little thin. Scene and setting could also use some work.
I'd say he's halfway to a Hugo.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
After that the family split up and took charge of the day's activities. Wife took the minivan and sons number 2 and 3 with daughter and went to number two's soccer game. (They scored a goal!) I took son number 1 to his dojo and watched him test for his red belt. I was pleasantly surprised to see him work his way through the techniques. He was much smoother and in command of himself than I thought he'd be. The sensei was also impressed and said his was one of the best performances of the day. I was happy to see that number one had set a goal to get that belt and worked hard to overcome whatever obstacles (some self induced) that got in his way. Yay him.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
It's a two day event. At least it is for me; there's a Friday session that costs extra and is more one-on-one workshop oriented. I signed up for classes on a wide range of subjects, hoping to gain some insight from people in genres I usually don't travel in. Mysteries, humor, and thrillers to name a few. There are also sessions about theme and marketing that I'll attend.
All in all, I think it will be especially helpful. There are two other writers conferences in the Seattle area and I'll probably go to them one of these years but this one I'm looking forward to the most. Unfortunately there is no hope that I will get a novel finished in time to pitch it to an agent or editor but maybe next year.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
First he asked who came up with the shape of a star. I wasn't quite clear on what he meant so I asked for further explanation. He said, "You know how you draw a star but the star really doesn't look like that." I had to think about it for a moment. Who did decide to draw a five pointed star the way we do? The answer I gave him was that light has a way of reflecting or refracting with four, six, or more points and some caveman must have tried to draw stars that way. After that, it's just a matter of picking how many points you'd like. It sounded plausible and authoritative and it may have been true.
Next he started commenting on what he would do if he really had a wish. "I'd wish that the whole world had people in it that were nice to each other all the time and that there was no war ever." Then he stared out the window for a moment. "If I had a second wish... I'd wish for a guitar."
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
He wrote exactly the type of fiction I love. Strong heroic fantasy with good bad guys and bad good guys. It was high stakes, fight for your lives, type stuff. I'm reading one of his books right now by the way, Ironhand's Daughter. It has a great protagonist; Sigarni, the last in a line of Kings and destined to become a great leader for her people. The event that ignites her drive to eradicate the occupying forces from her homeland is a brutal rape by five soldiers in a dungeon cell. Back in her home village a shaman/seer character knows all this. When another character asks where she is and what's happening, he looks up through teary eyes and says, "She's a sword... going through fire." Great stuff! (Holy cow does she get immediate revenge on the five perpetrators.)
Anyhow, the world will miss David Gemmell. My prayers are with his family.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Monday, September 18, 2006
10. They both cry a lot and demand attention.
9. They're both going to grow up, and when they do, boy is it going to cost you.
8. Both have creators that sit around and lovingly admire them.
7. Both have audiences that smile politely but inside are thinking, "My God, that's an ugly baby."
6. Their audiences are forced to view them no matter how busy they are and it's quite rude to turn down an invitation.
5. They both were derived from previous activities (oddly both stressful and enjoyable.)
4. If you don't save them often, they'll crash and you'll lose everything.
3. Leave an uncapped marking pen laying about and things can get out of control.
2. Their brothers and sisters try to cooperate but when you get right down to it, they're all competitors.
1. Every now and again, something shows up on them that really stinks.
I happen to think that yelling at someone to shut up is more insulting and demeaning. My wife thinks that yelling at someone, "Shut your mouth" is more aggressinve and therefore a worse thing to do. I won't tell our kids to shut up but I say shut your mouth all the time. My wife will tell them to shut up and when she really loses it she'll yell shut your mouth. The funny thing is, because of the way I see the two phrases, when she's really losing it I think she's finally gotten some self control back.
Anyhow, like most things there is no answer. The reason I bring this up is because we as writers have preconceived notions about what things mean. We could be wrong.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Case in point: I work in the construction equipment rental industry and while loading a customer's personal truck I caused a scratch in his paint. I was basically goofing around and swinging myself down on some other piece of equipment. It was uneccessary and frankly a bit embarrassing. The customer's reaction is the lesson here. He starts in with semi-smart alec comments about what kind of discount he's going to get on what he's renting and who he should send the bill to for a new paint job. (Never mind that this is a work truck and is bound to rack up several scratches a year. You should see my F150.) The writing lesson is how to present his reactions. There was something in the way he held up and waited for a response that really aggravated me and made the whole situation very uncomfortable. I'm clearly in the wrong but there's no way I'm offering to pay for anything. I think this customer is just the type that likes to get one up on someone and then enjoy watching them twist in the wind, i.e. he's a jerk.
So do you write this from the outside and just describe the way he laughs and asks about new paint? Or do you write an internal reaction from my perspective and get into a character's thoughts? Which way would be faster? Which way would be clearer?
The great thing about these questions is that they have no correct answers. They all depend on the situation and the goal of the author. But this is the sort of thing I look for in life.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Did I describe my theory on writing and publication? (I'm sure I saw this somewhere and I'm subconsciously reproducing it here without attribution but since I can't remember the source I'll just say it's mine alone until a process server shows up at my door.) It's like a pyramid, but then a lot of things are. Lots and lots of people (but still shockingly fewer than there should be) can spell correctly and put a sentence together correctly. Take another step up the ziggurat and you find the people who can string sentences together and come up with some paragraphs that mean what the author thinks they mean. Next level and you find the people who can pull together writing correctly and writing creatively, i.e. merging ideas with properly constructed prose. On top of those, near the heights but still getting stepped over, are those that can do all of that below them and also keep an idea together long enough to craft a story or novel. On the top of the heap are those that can do all that AND keep doing it until they are published. All levels within this pyramid are honorable, it's just a matter of where you want to end up.
This is an excellent publication as well as all its sister sites. And I'm not just saying that because I made my first sale there. I made my first sale there because they are great people and I can't be more honored.
As a Tolkien fan this site is tops. I hang out in the forums at the Scriptorium of Imladris under the pen name Galhadrim. (Yes, I got the idea for this blog's name from there. I'm also a big fan of Latin sayings, especially the made up ones.)
First, my fellow Marine officers and I went out to a restaurant called the Globe & Laurel just off base. It’s run by a retired Marine Major who knows more about the Corps than anyone I’ve ever met. Every square inch of wall space is taken up by memorabilia of some type. Just about any notable Marine for the past fifty years has given something to him. There are unit patches all over the ceiling and shadow boxes with all sorts of doodads in them. The place is really amazing and the Major can talk forever. We were there for an hour and a half listening to him and he barely took a breath. Fun stuff.
The other Really Cool Thing was a quick trip to the National Archives where the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are displayed. The Declaration is faded and wrinkled now and mostly illegible but if you’re an American and you don’t get choked up while looking at it then there is something wrong with you.
But since this is a writing blog, I'll give an update on my current works. 'Skyman' is my latest fantasy and that got a good rewrite. I'm sending it off to my beta reader (the best in the free or oppressed worlds) very soon. 'Right of Replacement', my Christ allegory, also got a rewrite and polish. So the trip was not a complete loss after all.