The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon

The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon
Shortlisted for The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now First Novel Prize

Friday, 11 September 2009

(Oh, my aching) Back in the Saddle, again

The 3 Day Novel has been typed up, printed off, packed in an envelope and mailed away.  I have come down from the sugar, fat and caffeine high of the weekend.  After back to school followed with the 3 Day Novel I am timidly easing back into a writing routine.  Since Monday evening I haven't written a blessed thing but that'll change this afternoon.  My lower back is still screaming but it is getting better.  I toyed with the idea of visiting the gym this week but when I finished laughing it was time to pick up the boy from school.  Monday of next week is all about discipline and getting back in the groove.

I also noticed that all that info over there on the right side is out of date - That'll be updated, if not today, Monday.

Lately I've been reading a lot of short fiction.  Here are the two books currently following me around.

The one is on the bottom is The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Science Fiction - Sixtieth Anniversary Edition.  What a storehouse of classic short stories.  Anyone writing short fiction would do well to pick this one up because these are the best stories from some of the best Authors of the last sixty years.

The one on top is pretty cool.  I picked it up at a used bookstore recently (I'll get into a little rant in a moment).  It is titled,  Tomorrow, the Stars - an anthology edited by one of my all time favourites, Robert A Heinlein.  Originally published in 1952 (this particular copy is a 1967 reprint) the book showcases great stories from the mid-point of the last century.  Interesting to see how accurate some of the "futuristic" views of the 1990's were from 1952 - and how completely off the mark some of it was.  The guys back then were so optimistic about our ability to get our asses off terra firma and out into interplantary space. Sorry fellas, no Mars colony just yet.  The other great thing about stories from the 1940's and 50's is the myth of family life early television fed us.  Can you imagine Ward Cleaver heading upstairs to give Wally and the Beav a "talking to" while drawing his belt purposefully from the loops of his pants.  Well, I've only read the first six stories in the anthology and in two stories by different authors the response of fathers to their misbehaving children has been an almost unconscious removal of the belt while heading upstairs to deal out a little Ozzy and Harriet era behavioural modification.  How the times have changed.

Now, on to the rant.

Used Bookstores - among my favourite places in the entire world.  No matter where I go I always try to slip into a local used bookstore because you really never know where you'll find a gem.  When I say a gem, I'm not talking about something valuable in a monetary way (that's nice too, though I'd never sell).  I'm talking about finding a Heinlein or Lester Del Ray or Alfred Bester or Ursula Le Guin or A.M. Holmes or a whole host of other author's books that I've never read or, if I'm really lucky, one I've never even heard of before.

I like everything about Used Bookstores - usually they've been in their location forever.  Great old buildings with books stacked floor to ceiling.  Sometimes books are arranged by subject and author, sometimes whim. I love to wander the claustrophobic aisles along fire-hazard stacks of paperbacks and hardcovers.  And the old book smell. Kids books, novels, sports, cooking, gardening, textbooks, emncyclopedias, old magazines - all of it.

And the folks who run these places - all different kinds of people but two common threads have always been the hallmarks of a used book seller. Delightfully peculiar and gregariously friendly.  Until recently.

My last two Used Bookstore experiences have left me flat.  One was in Sault Ste Marie and the other in Guelph.  Both times the folks at the counter only acknowledged our arrival with a dried apple, pinched nosed, I-smell-cat-shit-all-the-time expression.  Neither time was my "hello" or "good afternoon" returned.  Both times the books seemed over-priced - they are USED books after all, not RARE books.  And both times when I checked out with our purchases it seemed as if I were inconveniencing the counter staff by daring to make a purchase.  

Is this the trend?  I certainly hope not.  Used Bookstores have always brought me pleasure and the thought of them evolving into places I'd rather avoid doesn't comfort me.  I guess I'll need to plan a visit to Macondo Books in Guelph.  Check this out.  If she can't give me my required dose of Used Bookstore odd & friendly, I don't know who can.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

3 Day Done

Well - it was kind of down to the wire this time around - finished the last hand-written page at around 10:20 last night. That left a little time for editing but not much.

This morning I look around

All my treats are gone - there are empty diet Coke cans spilling out of the recycling bag - coffee has no appeal to me (that'll change) but that can of Red Bull stayed in the fridge (temptation was there around 9:30 last night).

So - what do I have to show for spending a glorious weekend - maybe the best Labour Day weekend in years - sequestered away from my family?

Well - there's a dime-sized callous on my middle finger, my eyes are red, my gut rumbles constantly from all of the sugary, fatty crap I've been spilling into it and my lower back is a chiropractor's wet dream.

Oh - and there's this:

And take a look at this:

That's right kiddies, 137 hand-written pages of fun. If you're not even a little impressed, I encourage you to try it some time. But they're not just words on paper - it's a fully self contained story with a plot, interesting three dimensional characters and everything.

But it's not all joy. There were a few dead soldiers who gave their all and didn't survive the journey:

Actually, I think the guy on the left might have a bit of life left in him.

I must thank my wife who lovingly typed the pages as I brought them up and who shepherded our wild children over the weekend. She even brought me snacks. I'll say it again, I certainly married up.

Now The Platinum Ticket and Patriot have company:

I think three looks much better than two.

And to my new pal Herne?

Thanks for the ride, Antlered Dude!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Up and at 'em

Back at it after about 4 hours sleep.

The crappy food and caffeine are starting to take their toll but the story is flowing nicely with purpose and direction. I re-read a lot of the stuff I did before I went to sleep and have churned out a pair of pages in the last few minutes. There are three or four major scenes left in the story and I think I have a clear picture of it all.

A fresh pot of coffee is perking behind me and it actually smells good. I have a few personal maintenance duties to perform and then right back at it.

Thus far the can of Red Bull is still under glass.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Sunday - closing in on midnight

It has been a most productive day. Page 94 sits waiting on my blue chair while I work out a few details in the next part of the story. Herne has made an appearance and he's strange and wonderful and frightening. I think if I am finished by mid-day tomorrow I'll have ample time before midnight to put a light polish on things. Things are coming together better than I expected and a while ago the story's ending clicked into place like I'd been planning it that way all along.

I split the day writing in the basement and then, because it was a glorious day, outside in the backyard. I even accompanied the family to the local pool for a swim and a whirlpool (my lower back is a nightmare).

Tomorrow afternoon the family plans to go to the local conservation area and, if I'm in editing mode, I'll accompany them with laptop in hand.

I'd best get back at it...

Day 2 - 9:00am

Well, here we are at day 2.

Last night I packed it in around 3:30am and slept until just before 8:00am - I'm not as young as I used to be. Unfortunately that sleep was won on the living room couch which doesn't seem as comfortable as it used to be (I went up to bed, but soon discovered an entire family - mom, 2 kids, 21 year old cat and an ark full of stuffed animals...with no room, left for tired old dad).

My lower back is a mess this morning so I opted for a soak in the tub and was rewarded with 2 1/2 more handwritten pages to put on the pile. Herne still hasn't shown up physically - guess he's kinda shy - but he's on his way...antlers and all.