Avery McShane is now available in audio. Just listened to it. As the author, it was strange to hear it interp, but Tom Dheere did a great job. Take a gander: http://www.audible.com/search/ref=ftx_top_nav_search_1

 
 
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I started a new project. I am writing the biography of a friend, business partner, and all around incredible guy - Alex Flynn. 

Not sure how it will turn out, but I can guarantee it will not be your run-of-the-mill biography. Why? Well, for one, because I can't do that. I'm not wired that way. Two? Alex Flynn is not your run-of-the-mill kind of person. 

I will post bits and pieces of the text as we go along. That is, as long as my agent (Alex Flynn) gives me his permission.

 
 
Those of you who read the first 'Avery McShane' book will absolutely remember Loca, Pablo Malo's demon dog. Well, she's back in the sequel, which I'm working on right now. I've excerpted several pages from the second chapter, where the Machacas and Loca are re-acquainted. Enjoy.

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But Loca didn’t leap across clearing, through the air and straight into the tree house to rip out our throats for killing her master. She didn’t bare her vampire fangs and growl like a bear, and she didn’t let out a banshee scream. She didn’t even chase after Mati to tear him to pieces in front us to show us what she had in store for each one of us, especially me. Instead, she sat down on her haunches and just looked up at us. It even looked like she was kind of smiling, with her long pink tongue hanging out of the side of her huge Doberman-German Shepherd mouth.

Billy and I looked at each other with puzzled expressions, and then we both looked at Todd who always seemed to have a confused look on his face.

“What the heck?” I blurted out.

“You sure that’s Loca?” asked Billy. “Sure isn’t acting like her.”

“It’s Loca alright,” said Todd, pointing at her. “There’s that scar across her snout, the one she probably got killing a crocodile or anaconda.”

Sure enough, the scar was there. 

“Okay, it’s Loca,” I said. “So, now what are we going to do? Stay up here all afternoon until someone comes looking for us?”

Billy pulled his slingshot out of the back pocket of his Levis and loaded it with one of the small ball bearings he kept in his front pocket. He had his brave face on now. It always happened that way. At first he’d be all scared and wussy, but then he’d put on his gunfighter face and start to talk in his slow Texas drawl. He’d start being a famous gunslinger and not afraid of anything.

“I say we each go down there with our sling shots and loaded for bear,” he said. “It’ll be three against one.”

“Four if you count Mati,” added Todd, who had just used up the best of his math skills.

“Okay,” I said as I grabbed for my own slingshot. “Sounds like a plan.”




The Machaca gang stood at the base of tree side by side, with Mati behind us peeking through our legs. We had our slingshots armed and ready, pointing at the ground, but ready to draw. It was like the standoff at the OK Corral. I was Wyatt Earp, Billy was Doc Holliday and Todd was Virgil. We had played the game lots of times. Only this time it wasn’t a game, and we weren’t facing off with pretend Clantons and the McClaurys. We were facing something a heck of a lot scarier. We were facing the meanest, most vicious dog that ever walked the face of the earth. But Loca still hadn’t moved, or growled, or anything. She just sat there looking at us with her tongue sticking out of the side of her mouth, smiling. It was like she knew something funny that we didn’t know.

“Why’s she just sitting there?” said Todd.

“No idea,” I replied.

“Let’s just shoot her on the snout and get this over with,” said Billy in his tough guy voice.

But there was something different about her. I got the feeling that she wasn’t going to try to hurt us. I put myself in her place. Her master was gone and Lieutenant Sanchez and Guillermo Santos were in prison. Those were the only people she knew. 

“Guys, I think she’s lonely,” I said. “I think she just wants to kiss and make up.”

Billy and Todd looked at me like I’d gone nuts.

“I ain’t getting my lips anywhere near those fangs,” replied Todd.

“You try to give her a kiss and she’ll rip your lips off and eat them in front of you,” cried Billy. His girly voice had returned. “Loca’s just waiting for the right chance to get us.”

But I had already made up my mind. I handed my sling shot Todd.

“You guys cover me, but don’t aim at her or shoot unless she comes after me.”

I started walking toward the big dog. Mati whined, and so did Billy. When I was half way there I stopped and looked back at my buddies.

“See? She hasn’t moved,” I said. Then, all of a sudden, before I had turned around to again to face the dog, I saw their eyes get really big and their mouths open up wide, but they didn’t – or couldn’t - say anything. I froze.

“She’s right behind me, isn’t she?” I said.

They both nodded at the same time. The hair on my neck stood up.

“She going to kill me, isn’t she?”

They nodded again.

I turned around, really slowly. There she was, not more than a yard in front of me. But she wasn’t showing her fangs. She was looking straight into my eyes and her tail was wagging slowly. When she barked I nearly died of a heart attack. It was the same bark she did that day on the washed out bridge when Pablo Malo’s body had fallen into the flooded river. It was a bark with a question mark at the end of it. 

I kept my hands at my sides. I didn’t want her to get the wrong impression.

“Amigos?” I said. “Friends?”

Loca barked again, this time without a question mark at the end, more like an exclamation point. It sounded like a yes to me. I slowly got down on my knees and even more slowly reached my hands out to her. I heard Billy whispering to Todd behind me.

“He’s going to die.”

But I didn’t die. Loca walked straight into my arms and licked me full on the face. I gave her a hug, the kind you give dogs, and her tail started to really motor. We had kissed and made up.

 
 
I am currently working on the screenplay of 'XINGU' - A Levalle Brothers Adventure. It is a much different process than it was writing the book. I suppose it would be more similar if I wasn't working off a completed manuscript. 

The two processes do share one thing - the finished product must adhere to very industry-specific formats. I've spent the better part of the last few days just getting to know the new one.  

I've completed the first draft of the opening scene: murder, arson, kidnapping, drama, hate and loss. And all of that on the first page. Cool.

Well, back to the screenplay. Cheers
 
 
I posted this MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2012, on my 'A New Writer's Tale' Blog. Worth re-posting, especially for those aspiring writers. But beware. I've had a lot of people in the know tell me that my timeframe was actually much shorter than the great majority.

Looking Back (First Keystroke to Publication)

With three days to go before Avery McShane is released by Bloomsbury Children's Books in the U.K., I decided to look back and assess how long it took to get to this point. Here are the cold, hard numbers:


- From first keystroke (ever) to release date: 1,114 days (or 3 years, 1 month, 18 days)

- From first keystroke (ever) to Book Deal: 595 days (or 1 year, 7 months, 18 days)

- From first keystroke (ever) to Signing Agent: 491 days (or 1 year, 4 months, 6 days)



You see, Avery McShane was not the first manuscript I started. That honor fell to Paleopeople, which I have completed several times. Or at least I thought I had, until my agent sent me back to the keyboard again. 

I started writing Avery McShane while I waited for my agent to read and review Paleopeople. Here are the numbers starting from the day I typed the first word of Avery McShane:


- From first keystroke (of A/Mc) to release date: 869 days (or 2 years, 4 months, 16 days)

- From first Query Letter (for A/Mc) to release date: 821 days (or 2 years, 3 months)


- From first keystroke (of A/Mc) to Book Deal: 320 days (or 10 months, 16 days)

- From first Query Letter (for A/Mc) to Book Deal: 272 days (or 8 months, 29 days)


Obviously, not in any particular order, but you get the idea. For the record, it seemed much longer. These numbers will probably not mean jack to a non-writer, but they are the kinds of numbers any new, aspiring writer might find of interest. Good thing I never really gave it much thought. If I had, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have kept going - but I did. And now I have three more days to go. Drop in a bucket.
 
 
And now, just to keep up the theme of re-posting blurbs of mine from other blogs, I present to you the first post from my 'Adventures of a Third Culture Kid' blog.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2011

Friending TCK's

I have friended people on Facebook that I haven't seen or heard from in over thirty years. Some of them last heard from me forty-five years ago. These are friends that grew up with me in the middle of Venezuela in the Sixties, and others from Ecuador in the early and mid Seventies. I now spend more time interacting with them than I do with all the friends I met since then. It could be just because they were there during my formative years and friends from those years are indelible to everyone, but I think there's more to it in the case of TCK's.

We share a common bond and it transcends differences. Differing political and religious views take a back seat to that bond of growing up as foreigners in foreign lands. We reminisce about the experience and most of us keep up on the goings-on in those places. Many return to visit and some never leave those places.

And it's even more than that. I know what I'm getting when I friend a TCK. They are less bigoted and prejudiced, on the whole, than the rest of the population. It's a fact. And they tend to be more educated - four times more likely than the average person to receive undergraduate and graduate degrees - and it's not because they're smarter or richer. It's because their eyes have been opened to a whole new world of possibilities and it makes little sense for them to stop learning more and more about it. I know it sounds uppity, but it isn't intended to be. I mean, who wouldn't want to surround themselves with people who have been there and done that; who don't judge books from the covers; who know that Bolivia isn't a country in Africa and that they speak Spanish there? Who wouldn't want to be a part of that informed perspective of the world?

Of course, my cadre of non-TCK friends tends to reflect these qualities, too. It's just natural that I would gravitate to them. Open minded? Well traveled? Read a lot? Rational? Fret that the international community seems decidedly anti-American, but really know first-hand why? Wish you could do something about it or, in fact, do do something about it? Then you are a friend of mine - whether you are a TCK or not.
 
 

The following is the first post from my 'A New Writer's Tale' blog. It's good timing. In less than one week it will have been four years since I started writing. Wow.


I Decide to Write a Book
January 11, 2009

Two years ago, almost exactly. My management consulting business was in the tank. The economy had gone south for the winter and my clients flew down there with them. I was depressed and alone and sitting in my office overlooking the marina. The dreams of making the business work turned into the reality of it never happening. I did what I usually do when I have little to do and I'm depressed. I picked up a book and started reading. The book was Dinosaur in a Haystack, by Stephen J. Gould. I had last read the book almost fifteen years before and it was one of my favorite non-fiction works and what the author had to say resonated deeply with me.

I opened the book to the first page, and what should I see? A doodle. A simple sketch of a spirally shell with a caption below it reading "Shell People". The doodle immediately brought back the memory of the plane flight. I sat in First Class on a 747 headed for Amsterdam. My final destination was Archangel, in the Arctic Circle part of Russia. I remember seeing the Aurora Borealis, not for the first time nor the last. I doodled for the duration of the flight and a story was born. I did not write the first word of the story until January 11, 2009, but when I did it the doodler became a writer.
 
 
Slowly but surely I will consolidate my other blogs into this brand spanking new one. I'll bring over the best posts from them, and then slowly phase them out. I never spent much time on them anyway.