Thursday, October 06, 2005

Following My Heart

Several weeks back, a conversation with my wife led to my being struck by a lightning bolt. The absolute perfect title. My story ideas often begin that way--no characters, no plot, no theme, just a title that rings true in some way and compels me to write a story to fit it. Anyway, I'm not ready to reveal the title yet, so I'm going to refer to this project as my Secret Project for the time being.

The story is revealing itself slowly, building in my mind one stone upon another. I finally had to put everything else aside yesterday and write the opening scene. It's really damned good. That's just my opinion, of course, it has not been confirmed by independent bouble-blind studies. Got 800 words. It's a story about Baby Boomers being run down by middle age in the Deep South. I hope it will be accessible to anyone, but Southerners will find things in it just for them that others may not quite catch. It's humorous and strange, in a kind of a Southern Gothic way.

I realize going in that this story may not ever see the light of day. It's entirely possible that it will never progress much beyond the first chapter or three. I'm OK with that. It's a real blast to write. I'm just going to have to follow these people around and see where they go and where they end up. Maybe a real story will develop, maybe not. In the meantime, this is my backup for those times when I need a break from my "real" writing.

I have an addictive personality. I have a deadly tendency to get obsessive about my current interests to the point that they become "hafta"s instead of "wanna"s. I hafta finish that story. I hafta outline the next chapter. I hafta know everything possible about some field that has a relatively minor impact on the work at hand. I hafta work. And it becomes work, it gets to be more about production than about the words, telling the story. I frequently need to remind myself to take a break, cool off, let it rest for a day, have some fun. That's what the Secret Project is for. It's vacation time, Disney World for my mind. Anything's possible, no matter how insane.

Will I post snips? We'll see. I'll have to get my courage up. This story is in no way politically correct, and some of my female friends might start screaming for my head on a platter.

Melly, I'm trying to put that lost post back together, but I can't quite get a grip on it right now. Maybe this weekend I can recover some of the thoughts and get back into the flow. No promises, though. My mind works in mysterious ways, its wonders to perform.

Added: 4:30pm
"My mind works in mysterious ways" I just realized my narrator and his wife are named Danny and Sandy. LOL! I swear I didn't do that on purpose!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

New Begininngs

Rosh Hashana, often called the Jewish New Year, began at sundown yesterday. This has a special meaning to me this year because a friend of mine, an Orthodox Jew, is enduring a very dark time in her life right now. I hope she will find some peace and renewal in the 10 days of Repentance leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonment.

Rosh Hashana has dual meanings to the Jews. Firstly, it celebrates the anniversary of the creation of the world. It is one of four celebrations of beginnings that Jews observe throughout the year. Secondly, and most importantly, Rosh Hashana is a time for remembrance, repentance, and atonement. It is a time for wiping out past transgressions and starting over with a clean slate and a new chance at life, a year older and, hopefully, a year wiser.

The ritual I personally find most meaningful in this observance is the Tashlich, which is performed on the afternoon of the first day (today). The Tashlich requires going to a nearby stream or other body of water and casting bread crumbs upon it, to symbolize casting off your sins, while reciting specific prayers.

I think we all need ceremonies like this in ourt lives. Our traditional Western New Year's celebrations center around parties and resolutions for change. Unfortunately, the tradition also includes the breaking of resolutions. They are not taken very seriously. I think it would be better to adopt a tradition like the Tashlich in our lives. Using ritual and symbolism imbues our actions and resolutions with deep meaning and shows that we are serious about them. Rituals like this sink deep into our subsonscious and take on a mystical power that makes it hard for us to renege on our promises.

The beginning of a new year is also the end of the old. It is a time for collecting our memories, reflecting on them, and charting our course through the months to come. I agree with the Jews: this is a serious business. I am going to think about what rituals I can adopt to bring that lesson home.

We don't even have to wait until a specific day to make a new start. That is really just an invitation to procrastination. Any day, every day, can be a new beginning. All it takes is a firm resolve and a plan for improvement. We've all heard the old cliche: Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Cliches become cliches for a reason. The truths they tell can be powerful, even when clothed in trite phrases.

Tired of the same old same old? Going nowhere? Maybe it's time to celebrate your own personal New Year.

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Monday, October 03, 2005

Private Demon


Private Demon by Lynn Viehl. Signet Eclipse, October, 2005, 296 pages.

Thierry Durand is 700 years old. He is a vampire, one of the Darkyn. He is also insane. When Thierry escapes from New Orleans and comes to Chicago to seek revenge on the Brotherhood, a group of renegade priests sworn to destroy the Darkyn, he threatens the security of the Darkyn and is placed under a sentence of death. That is only the beginning, though. Thierrys story is one of love and betrayal, blood and death, deception and mystery. It encompasses the Darkyn, the Brotherhood, street gangs, and a 6,000 year old mystery.

Private Demon continues the story begun in If Angels Burn, the first Darkyn novel and proves itself a worthy successor. Michael Cyprien and Dr. Alexandra Keller are back, continuing, and trying to come to terms with, their torrid love affair even as they try to locate Thierry in time to save his life.

At its heart, Private Demon is a story of love: the love between a man and a woman, the love between a father and his son, the love between old friends and comrades. Love has a dark side, however. Deception and betrayal run rampant through the pages of the story. Subplots twist and intertwine. Things are not always what they seem. Out of this morass rise a legendary hero and a betrayal that strikes at the very heart of the Darkyn.

In the hands of a lesser talent, Private Demon would be so complicated that the reader would need a map to keep it straight. Lynn Viehl is able to deliver a complicated story in a plain, uncomplicated style that keeps the story moving and the reader guessing right up until the end. She weaves a taut story of human passions and human weakness against a background of ancient mysteries and larger-than-life legends.

Private Demon expands the Darkyn saga and promises a rich, exciting future for this series. The third volume in the series, Darkness Has No Need, is due out in 2006.

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