My Cousin Leonard and His Time Machine
Here's the mostly full collection of stuff related to my Time Machine and the adventures of my cousin Leonard who bravely tried it out for me, as posted over the years at The Kill Zone Blog.
Basil's blog, first mention of time machine
Saturday, April 25, 2009
I love it when I read a book and get transported to a different
time and place. When the words on the page create a reality of their
own that in the mind is virtually indistinguishable from memory. Even
a memory that could in no way be mine. Such scenes if perfectly
painted can feel like a vacation in my living room.
I've experienced that with several writers, but the one's that
impress me the most are those who do it with historical fiction. For
instance Bernard Cornwells "The Winter King" which told an
Arthurian legend without any feeling of fantasy, it was incredibly
realistic. I also recently finished Ken Follett's "World Without
End" and found the setting to be incredibly detailed, even
though it took place nearly 900 years ago. Whatever he did that
managed to get so many details about the look and feel of Kingsbridge
that long ago is what I want to do with my own work.
Therefore I am actively working on a time machine to transport me
to the Mongolian Empire circa 1150's. I thought I had it the other
day, but upon the first live test...well things didn't go as well as
Killzone Blog: 4/28/09
In terms of reaching the top it seems that there are two ways to me.
1. Write an outstanding book,both storywise and readabilitywise.
2. Have an adequate story/readability index, but a topic that everyone is hungry
Both of these are also contingent on finding the right agent/editor/publisher combo as well, which is pure luck it seems.
Things that don't work:
1. Using a time machine. It freaked out the agent when my cousin Leonard showed up in the past to tell him to buy my book and therefore changed history against my favour. I should have told Leonard to take off the crash helmet and goggles before speaking to people. (the agent later wrote a book about being visited by future people, it became "Back to the Future" and I got nothing because I was only sixteen then).
2.Lacing the pages with psychedelic drugs...that was just bad in all ways. Agents can't really fly.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
A question has been bugging me as I am heading towards publication in the near future myself. How in the world does an author jump into this publishing business, become a best seller, then stay on top for the rest of their life? I fully intend, hope, expect, what ever you want to call it, to be the next Tom Clancy, Frederick Forsythe guy. At least that's what I am aiming for. And as the saying goes:
"It is better to aim for greatness and almost achieve it, than to aim for mediocrity and make it dead on."
Actually I just made up that wording, but I read something like it somewhere.
Basically, I want to make sure I stay in the game once I get on board. But how in the world did the world know to buy and read and buy again those great Military Fiction dudes like Clancy, Forsythe, Griffin, Higgins, et al and keep buying them for years and decades and into the next century. I want to know what the trend is going to be for the future so that I can learn and write in that direction. I do, afterall, have three boys to put through college. The oldest (starting college this fall)plans to be a great business man / musician, the second (class of 2016) an award winning biologist, and the other (class of 2019) a
world famous doctor who cures diabetes. I teach them to aim high too.
To reach that goal, I have to make some serious dinero. Which means I have to write and sell some super terrific, spine tingling, brain jolting, keep you up until you've read the whole thing in one sitting, books. And once written get them sold.
As I write this my surprisingly wonderful and hard working agent is busting her tail cross country to achieve that last bit. I can almost taste it. I thought I smelled it earlier, but that was meatloaf, rice with colby-jack and powdered jalapeno sprinkled over it...almost as good, but can't pay my kids college
Once sold though, I need staying power. The ability to recreate success over and over ad infinitum. In addition to that, I need to be able to guess the next trend in what people want to read and jump on it. Which means I may not always write military/terrorist/espionage thrillers. As it is I have three historical fiction works synoptisized and waiting for the chance to jump on the page. Ken Follet, one of my favourite authors, has manageed to make quite an amazing career writing books that follow no sequence, or series. I hope to do the same as much as inspiration allows. But how to figure out those trends. Hmmmm....
After much long thought and contemplation I decided to work on my time machine a bit over the weekend. It needed some fine tuning. The Fifi experiment was tragic, and quite messy (on the bright side,the dog food bills are not a concern anymore). I think I got it right this time.
Not wanting to risk turning myself inside out or getting my body parts miscellanously reattached, I gave my cousin Leonard ten bucks and a promise of a six pack on his return. Wearing a 60's style blue motorbike helmet with a digital video camera attached he pulled down his clear plastic chemistry lab goggles and I
flung him into the vortex to find out what books will be popular over the next fifteen years.
The time machine door opened, and Leonard looked up. Some huge muscular guy dressed in a full body blue leotard turned around and stared at him.
Leonard stuttered a bit then finally blurted out, "Basil wants to know what kind of books do you guys like in the year 2019?"
To which the guy replied in a thick German accent, "GAAAAAAA!"
Then he punched Leonard in the face and ran away.
A bunch of people in red leotards came chasing after the blue guy. Leonard didn't want to get hit again. He scuttled backwards, tripped over the pilot's seat. His hand smacked the "go" button. The door shut and
seconds later he was back in my garage. He stumbled out of the machine, wiping blood from his nose and looked at me with a wild eyed stare then went straight for the six pack.
So the trip did not answer my question in any significant way. Apparently, though, books based on 'Running Man' will not be too popular. So...I guess I'll need to rewrite that manuscript.
As a side note, Leonard downed the whole six pack in one go, without even removing his helmet. I think Leonard may be an alcoholic.
Friday, March 4, 2011
In 1993 I was a manager at the military dining hall for the National Security Agency at Ft. Meade MD, The House of Four Hats. Yup...I was chef to the spies. It was the coolest job and I loved it then and its memories now. We took third in the international Hennessy Award competition (we likely would have won were it not for a rather injudicious feat of stupidity performed by an Air Force officer I will forever remember as Major Buttknuckle Tweedbottom. His real name was long ago wiped from my memory as a result of the professional trauma he induced).
Alas through the labyrinth that is government contracting and some shady midnight deals my company lost the contract and I was unceremoniously dumped from the funnest job I ever had. A short stint in fast food management quickly soured me on the industry and I opened computer store in Columbus, Ohio putting my hobby to money making use. After three years my bank and I discovered that while I was a bang up technician and could get along well with almost everyone professionally speaking (Buttknuckle never came to my store) my business acumen did not attain to the same heights as my nerdiness and geekhood. The operation ended in failure and I sold the business for pennies then moved home to Alaska where I worked a
series of odd jobs from carpenter, to pc technician, to mess hall cook for the Alaska Smoke Jumpers to EMT and explosives packer at a dynamite plant (that job was a blast).
Eventually I ended up with a government IT job that sounded challenging on paper but turned out to be veeeeery booooooooring. With long hours of screen staring time I started writing stories for my kid's bedtimes.Then a few poems. Then a couple of shorts. Then some one read one of my shorts and asked me what happens next, and I got curious.
Yeah...what does happen next?
And, Blamo! A novel appears. Then I podcast it and people like it then I join The KillZone and send my cousin Leonard back and forth in the time machine and learn that in the future in another dimension I am famous on Planet Fluxinerstationiousis, especially in its capital city of Fluxinerstationiousisville. But Leonard would not tell me how I did here on earth. He just smiled a silly grin and said “Oh, you'll
find out soon enough,” then showed me a picture of his alien Fluxi-chick girlfriend who looked surprisingly like a young Lindsay Wagner with a few differences and he said, gazing dreamily off to
some far away place, “I'm in love.”
So now here I am. Had I not lost that multi-million dollar contract at Ft. Meade and not failed miserably at being a business man, and not spent a year packing dynamite until my wife begged me to do anything else I would probably not have written, audiobookified and epublished three novels, with a fourth on the way and a bunch of short stories!
by the way did you know those Fluxi-chicks have an extra .... uh … and there's a....on her …. how does that even work?
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I've always loved spy stories and military tales, epsionage, smart thrillers and historical fiction with a twinge of romance...the manly kind (but ,referencing James Scott Bells post at The Kill Zone the other day, not porn. I hate reading porn scenes in books. I get all red faced and no one around me knows why). I also like the occasional well written literary novelthat crosses into different territory.
Ireland by Frank Delaney is a good example I think of crossing history/legend with modern literature.
On the other hand, in the spirit of doing something different, I propose to create a new espionage thriller series that crosses into the realm of veterinary science and scifi and middle eastern historical fantasy fiction.
Its about a strikingly handsome Israeli Mossad agent named Basir Sandesman who falls in love with a former Hooters girl turned American CIA operative named Mia Moray whose partner is what appears to be a talking ferret named Colin who spends most of his time nestled warmly between her...in her sweater. Colin the ferret contains the entire MI-6 database in his brain via a computer chip he accidentally ingested in a bowl of ferret kibbels while undercover in an Al Qaeda pet shop sting. Unknown to Basir and Mia, Colin the
ferret is actually my time travelling cousin Leonard who went to the past and met a hard hearing Genie who gave him two wishes. First Leonard said he wanted to find his true love, well actually he said "I want to meet and get close to Mi Amore" then for his second wish he wanted to look like Colin Farrel. The genie, being hard of hearing did his best. Now Colin (Leonard) is jealous of the sparking relationship between Basir and Mia but is afraid to shift back to his true identity because Mia will almost definitely not let
him stay between her...in her sweater.
The working title is:
Ferret Whisperer #1: A Warm Jiggly Place With A Gun
"Colin did not like wonder-bras."
...let the action packed historically romantic scifi spy stuff begin!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I tend to avoid theaters due to my cousin Leonard's flatulence. He pays most of the time since I am still a struggling writing waiting for that big time publishing deal so I can afford to go to the cinema on my own dime.
Therefore I tend to watch movies at home late at night, alone, while the family sleeps and Leonard is back in his own original 1960's velveteen bachelor pad.
My college son though goes all the time. From an 18 y.o. perspective:
GI Joe: SICK!!
Public Enemy: Eh.. $3 theatre stuff
Star Trek:Dad's generation was cool
Bruno: I'm scarred for life
District 9: For some reason I don't want to look in my closet at night
My Dad & little Brother's home made Bionicles stop motion video: yeah, cool but uh...dad needs to stick to writing
So there you have it,College Justin's young adult movie review list, summer 09...
Oh and by the way, Leonard says hi from 2334 where he is dating the clone of Hedy Lamarr whom he
verifies is exactly the same as the Hedy Lamarr he dated twice in 1934, even down to the irritating habit nibbling the edge of her champagne glass when she's with a guy that makes her nervous... or maybe that's just when a red-headed guy with lips appears wearing an old leather flying hat & goggles and claims he's from another time and thinks she's gorgeous, would she let him have this dance.
Comment on The Kill Zone blog
I love rules, especially firm rules. The firmer they are the more likely they will hold my weight as I climb over them. The stronger the sensibility of the bricks used to build the rule, the better they will withstand being used to remodel the wall.
That being said, whether one views the 'rules of writing' as rules or suggestions, they are there for a reason. And only a master builder should attempt to do any serious remodeling of the wall. Or my pet Picasso Monkey that my cousin Leonard (no relation to Elmore) brought back in the Time Machine last week. Picasso Monkey can break any rules he wants, because he is....well...he is Picasso Monkey and makes his own walls.
I just have to figure out how to stop Picasso Monkey from flinging poo at the walls, it's weird. His poo is all primary colors and has random eyeballs in it...creepy.