Friday, January 12, 2018

'Fracking War' presentations - and video - in Nov.

   SACRAMENTO - November was a busy month with presentations in Sacramento and San Francisco. December was busy, too - for different reasons, which is why it's already 2018 before this report made it out.
   In Sacramento, I gave a talk at the Friends of the Library at California State University, Sacramento, the university where I spent several decades teaching journalism.
   In San Francisco, it was a lively panel discussion with three other writers at the Howard Zinn Book Faire.
   The Sacramento event was a real homecoming for me.
   The library gallery speaking venue was full. The audience included students, former colleagues and even retired CSUS President Donald R. Gerth and his wife Beverly.
   My introduction was given by longtime amigo, retired Journalism Professor Bill Dorman. Bill helped engineer my appearance and shepherded me through the day - a luncheon, the talk and a cocktail/reception at the home of retired Government Professor Jean Torcom.
   In the talk I took a different tack than previous presentations. I stayed away from reciting the horrors of hydrofracking and focused on the novel-writing process. The feedback at the talk and the reception after let me know it was the right move for the university audience.
   A video of the talk is at the bottom of this column.
   Included were references to The Devil's Pipeline (set to go to an LA publisher this week for a second look) and The Wolverine Rebellion, the characters of which are getting extremely restless for my attention to get that plot moving again.
(L-R: Liz Carlisle, Steve Masover, Michael Fitzgerald)
   The San Francisco event was a panel discussion titled "Narrating the Anthropocene: Storytelling to Rouse Communities Grappling with Planetary Crisis," organized and chaired by San Francisco novelist Steve Masover, author of Consequence.
   The other panel members were Liz Carlisle, author of The Lentil Underground: Renegade Farmers and the Future of Food in America and Jean Tepperman, author of Warning from My Future Self.
   It was a lively panel discussion, with all of us talking about using fiction to effect social change.
   The panel was less than an hour - the panel-presentation equivalent of speed dating.
   But it was a lot of fun.

Friday, October 6, 2017

'The Wolverine Rebellion' draft crawls ahead

   POINT RICHMOND, Calif. - The draft of The Wolverine Rebellion is moving ahead slowly, kind of like a camo-clad guerrilla working his (or her!) way forward across a field to sneak up on an enemy.
     In this case, the draft is moving from concept to characterization and notion to narrative.
     As in the case of The Fracking War, Fracking Justice, and The Devil's Pipeline (Pipeline is currently at a publisher's office in Los Angeles awaiting word), The Wolverine Rebellion has many familiar characters from those books, plus new ones.
     And just as in those earlier novels, the characters are asserting themselves as their story - and it really is their story - moves along.
     The one piece of the draft that firmed up today (along with the already completed half-dozen chapters of Assembly) are the five section titles. All are subject to change, of course, depending on how the characters handle things.

The Tynn Man
Sins of the father
The Empire Strikes Back
Tsunami Warning

Friday, July 21, 2017

The next novel begins - 'The Wolverine Rebellion'

   VALOIS, New York - At what point does simple resistance - a very popular word right now in the Trump era - move to rebellion?
     That's one of many notions rattling around as the draft of a new novel (working title, The Wolverine Rebellion) takes shape.
     Readers of The Fracking War and Fracking Justice are familiar with who the Wolverines were in those novels.
     In The Wolverine Rebellion it appears they have risen again.
     Or have they?
     It's going to be some time before even I can answer that question.
     Watch here for updates...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

'The Devil's Pipeline' draft is in the editor's hands

POINT RICHMOND, Calif. - The first complete draft of the novel The Devil's Pipeline is in the capable hands of Admiral Fox, first reader and frontline editor extraordinaire.

     The draft was completed in a flurry of writing Saturday, May 20. I was sick with an allergy/flu attack for nearly a week before that. But in a fevered state, the final chapters & twists became sooooo obvious, I couldn't believe I hadn't seen them before. Damn characters didn't want to reveal the secret until the very end.

     The draft of the novel came in a few thousand words heavier than planned. The goal was about 70,000 but ended up close to 73,000. Describing a catastrophic fire, a wild parking lot melee, sheriff's deputies firing weapons into a crowd, an Iowa courtroom in chaos - well, the final chapters took a few more phrases and verbs (Verbs!) than expected.

     The chapter/section headings in the final draft are changed slightly from earlier drafts and published information here. And, of course, they might change again before The Devil's Pipeline actually flows into print and e-reader form.

     But for now the section headers are:

Welcome to Mars
Drums along the Ogallala
Wrongful deaths
The fire this time

Thursday, May 4, 2017

'Pipeline' draft thought lost - has been recovered

   POINT RICHMOND, Calif. - One of the most sickening moments any author can have - and I speak from recent experience - is losing a manuscript, or even a part of a work-in-progress.
     The annals of authorship are full of horror stories of such accidental - or purposeful - losses.
     One of my favorites is a particularly horrific tale, about an author's work of horror - Robert Louis Stevenson and his famous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

     It seems the first draft of the 30,000-word story was tossed  in the fire (on purpose) by Stevenson's wife who deemed it less-than memorable and not worthy of publication. Ironically, a redraft, written feverishly by a very-ill Stevenson, went on to become one of his most famous works.
     And so it was early May 4 that the last 10,000 words of The Devil's Pipeline draft went missing. Not because Admiral Fox had taken a dislike to the draft - she hasn't seen anything except the first few chapters. It was thought lost due to a Microsoft Word glitch combined with author sloppiness in saving two-days work.
     Luckily, the latches on the windows of our four-story condo were firmly stuck this morning when the words went walkabout for an hour or so.

     After searching backup copies, the most recent draft surfaced. It seems in this author's haste to finish, the most recent backup copy was mislabelled and misfiled. It has since been backed up in two offline spots, with an entirely new naming system to avoid any more high-blood pressure episodes.
     Now the explosions, arrests, and courtroom dramas in the formerly missing 10,000 words back in play, all leading up to one last gasping surge of writing this week and into next.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

'The Devil's Pipeline' resumes post election

   POINT  RICHMOND, Calif. - The idea that characters control novels - and least my novels - has been written about before on this page. Several times, I think.
     So it's not that surprising that every time in recent weeks when I sat down to see what they were up to, they remained as elusive as copies of Donald Trump's income taxes.
     But today when I opened the draft of the novel The Devil's Pipeline, I had to referee a near brawl in progress among three characters (all newspaper editors).
     Tempers were flaring as the editors - one month before the November 2016 election that catapulted Trump into the White House - debated his chances of winning.

Photo of the May 4, 1970 Kent State shooting
   It all seems like such old news now, of course.
     The characters' debate this morning got at the heart of how he slipped into office. The theory they came across (and were debating) doesn't bode well for future elections of presidents or anyone else in the nation for that matter.
     And it's a theory most people haven't heard yet. (No Russians involved, by the way.)
     That bit of skullduggery aside, the characters are still racing towards the novel's finish line tying up the loose ends of pipeline construction, corporate corruption, government malfeasance, law enforcement overreach (and brutality), a wrongful death lawsuit, and even the cause a ghastly fire.
     And, of course, then there is the Devil's Pipeline corporate connection to the 1970 shooting of students at Kent State.

    If Jack Stafford, et al, continue to be cooperative, The Devil's Pipeline will continue construction until the first draft is ready for editing sometime before I head east late this spring.
     Another piece of in-process writing, The Pre-Trump, Interstate 80, Cross-Country Boogie, is officially on the back burner - as of today - but ready for quick revival if the characters decide they need to slow down again.

Who died in this Devil's Pipeline-related blaze - and who lit it?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The flow starts up again in 'The Devil's Pipeline'

POINT RICHMOND, Calif. - After several fits and starts (more fits than starts) today I banged out a chapter in The Devil's Pipeline, chapter 3 in the final segment of the book.

The title of the last segment has been changed  from The Big Short to Standing Rock - quite appropriate, all things considered. And tomorrow another chapter should follow as a wrongful death lawsuit unfolds in the book, under the steady eye of an Iowa judge named Roy Bean. (Who can makes this stuff up? Oh, yeah. OK...)

As the late Norman Mailer once opined, writing fiction can be heavy lifting given the incredible weirdness of real life. If any novelist had fictionalized a novel containing details like those we witnessed in the last year of presidential politics, he or she would have been summarily thrown out of their publisher's office with strict instructions to never, ever return.

And so it was that when it was time to complete the balance of The Devil's Pipeline in mid to late September, I had just returned from my cross-county driving sojourn, from New York City to San Francisco.

Writing (at least novel writing) was out of the question.

My trip was rife with evidence that Trump might win the presidential election. I didn't meet a Democratic voter - or anyone who would admit to being a Democratic voter - anywhere west of the Hudson River until I came into California. I barely whispered to anyone what I had seen and heard from Bloomsburg, PA,  and all across the country. I stopped often and talked with local folks in restaurants, stores, gas stations and a few bars. Maybe not enough bars.

And Standing Rock? My God! Sworn law enforcement officers spraying water cannons, firing tear gas and percussion grenades - and dousing defenseless water protectors with pepper spray, all so a vast array of energy companies and banks could push a pipeline under a lake.

What in the name-of-God has the country come to?

But out of all that - Trump, the brave Native American water protectors, Standing Rock - the fictional characters in The Devil's Pipeline were all waiting for me when I picked up their storyline this morning with a smoking' hot column by Jack Stafford.

Tomorrow, (I'm told) the head of the energy conglomerate building The Devil's Pipeline will put his extremely tiny foot in a pile of shit up right up to his ankle. Yes, he has tiny feet. You will have to wait until the book comes out next year to find out about how big his hands might be.

You already guessed, I bet.