Monthly Archives April 2016

This Is Why

Pete's Chair

Pete DeMaster.

LaKesha Levy.

Cartney McRaven.

165 others.

The 167 killed people killed in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, and the one person who died three days later when a piece of debris from the building fell on her while she worked to recover the bodies of the others.

Each is now memorialized by one of these chairs (this is my friend Pete’s) in the Field of Empty Chairs in the footprint of the Murrah Building on the grounds of the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

The Field of Empty Chairs

Over the weekend I was in Oklahoma City volunteering with the Memorial Marathon that’s put on each year to honor those killed and injured in the bombing, and those whose lives were changed forever. Including mine.

Each of the people who died had a story,...

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Book 3, Starting Draft 2

One of the things writer Anne Lamott is famous for is her advice, “Give yourself permission to write a shitty first draft.” To me that’s a kind of liberation theology for writers, but that’s a subject for another time. Today I’m going to continue to pull back the curtain on my writing process, at least as it relates to getting all the scenes in order for the second draft of this book.

So: “Give yourself permission….” Done.

“Write a shitty first draft.” Done.

OK, maybe “shitty” is a relative term, but while my read-through of the first draft got a “not bad” rating, as I wrote last time there were problems with the timeline, that is, the sequence of events in the plot. Timeline is especially critical for this book for two reasons.

  • One, it needs to end at a certain time of year in order to t...
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Taking Nothing for Granite

OK, sorry, I couldn’t resist. It was either that or borrowing the lines or titles from one of these songs:

  • Neil Diamond’s “Stones”
  • Queen’s “We Will Rock You”
  • Bob Dylan’s “Everybody must get stoned…”
  • Of course, The Rolling Stones’ “Only Rock ‘n Roll”

I’m sure there were others I could have named too.

What’s this all about? You may remember sometime back I wrote that when Edith and I had selected granite slabs for counter tops in the house, we had NO idea it would take so long before the house was ready for them. As a result, we didn’t reserve them, and because of that, the suppliers sold the pieces we’d picked. D’oh!

So now that we’re finally ready for the slabs, we had to go back to the suppliers and see what they had. OK, no problem, right?

No. Problem.

One of the suppliers no longer ha...

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Paving the way to more progress

Yeah, OK, I couldn’t resist the pun, but there’s been some important work on surfaces inside and out this week. Let’s get right to it.

Last weekend Bill asked me if I could come down to the house so we could lay out the final plan for the asphalt part of the driveway, and of course I said yes. You may remember that we’d done this once before, but with all the construction traffic, the lines we’d painted on the dirt were long gone. This time, though, the paving company was going to be out the next day.

This is a very exacting process: “Let’s start here, go straight to about there, curve it around to there, then there, and then straight again to there.”


“No, over to your right a little… yeah, there.”

Put down some rocks to mark the spots, and then paint them.

Painting the rocks

Anybody who’s been in t...

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Book 3, Draft 1

Woman reading a book

Image courtesy of Marin /

Last night I finished my first complete read-through of the first draft of book #3 (working title, Guardians, although I’m considering Wild Spread as an alternative). (No, that’s not me over there on the right. My ideal reader, maybe. At least her interest level looks right.) I’ve got almost 10 pages of hand-written notes of things to check, fix, delete, etc.

Overall verdict: not bad.

There are some scenes that are way out of position. There’s a place where one of my secondary characters chrysalizes, then a few chapters later appears again in her unchanged, original form, as if the chrysalization never happened. Oops. Well, that’s the sort of thing that happens in a first draft...

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Tile, (Counter) Tops, and Tight Fits

The work on the interior “fittings,” if you will, of the house is now underway in earnest. With the cabinets installed in the pantry, kitchen, and bathrooms, one of the next steps is to “template” the counter tops. “Templating” means getting their exact–and I do mean exact–measurements. As George, the installer said, if they get them just wrong, a thousand-dollar slab of granite is ruined and his company ends up doing the job “for free.” Well, not free, exactly, but they don’t make any money on it. This is definitely a “measure twice (or three or four times, cut once” kind of job.

So with interior designer Edith supervising…

Edith supervises

…and George measuring down to the 32nd of an inch…

George measuring

…I was, um, supervising. Yeah, supervising! That’s it! (OK, and taking pictures...

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