Fly By Night

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It’s 1925, and though the war is over, the memories remain. August Ramayan, a shell-shocked infantryman, still can’t seem to sleep through the night. All he wants to do is travel the world in the boat he’s been building for years, but his mechanic shop, his only source of income, is failing.
Fox Van Damme, flyboy extraordinaire, is a bit of an everyman. When he’s not recklessly barnstorming, he smuggles rum for the local mob.
Euros Ayers has been missing since the Armistice. Before the war, August promised to take care of Euros’s headstrong sister, Moxie, and it’s shaping up to be the most difficult job he’s ever had.
When Euros’s dogtags show up in Fox’s airplane, Moxie wants to find her brother, whatever the cost. Fox agrees to help out–but his services aren’t cheap, and she and August are running out of money. The mysterious Chester brothers offer to fund the expedition in exchange for August’s shop, but their true motives for helping out are unclear.
With a mysterious figure from his past shadowing his every move, Fox whisks Moxie and August on the trip of a lifetime as they explore Paris looking for Euros. Will they find him, or will they be shot down?

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Cafè

I’m Oliver and he’s Milton. We used to make love and work hard and then make love again. He worked at the cafès and I wrote in them but we always missed each other. I cooked but when he came home he was too tired to do anything but make love and sleep. He nursed me when I was drunk and wouldn’t make love to me until I was sober again.

Milton never asked about my work. If he had I wouldn’t have said a thing so he didn’t. He couldn’t speak English worth a damn so we spoke French. I read him American books at night while we smoked but he couldn’t understand a word. I asked him why he wanted to hear the books if he could not understand them and he told me he liked the way they sounded. I never read him my work. I wrote in English and he didn’t speak it and I never showed my work to anyone until it was finished.

Milton had a garden behind the house. The house was small and cold in the winter and warm in the summer and did not have much furniture but we didn’t mind. We slept on a mattress on the floor and sat on wooden crates he had gotten from the cafè and covered the windows with newspaper. The garden was large and he grew everything we ate but the chicken and fish that I bought from the market. He wouldn’t let me touch his garden so I watched him cut and dig and press and trim. I sat in the garden on the crate from the cafè and wrote even though the sun was so bright that I could not see. We did not speak while we worked. It was different work but it was good work and we respected it.

There was no money for clothes. There was money for food and drink and cigarettes but not for clothes or cafès or books. My work did not sell but I continued to write it and Milton continued to work. When winter came the cold came with it and we didn’t eat if we wanted a fire. Milton died that winter. I borrowed everything I could for firewood and medicine and food but I couldn’t get a doctor. He stopped going to work and I stopped going to the cafès. I sat and smoked and read with him but we both knew he would pass before spring. When he was strong he wrote letters and when he wasn’t I wrote for him. He made me swear to send them and I swore but we had no stamps and they stayed tucked away for years.

Milton died on Tuesday. We couldn’t make love anymore and slept instead waking only to smoke or speak in the darkness. He asked me if he was going to die and I said yes. He grew quiet and pressed his cheek to my chest and I tried not to breathe very hard. He asked me if I loved him and I told him yes I did very much. He asked me to tend the garden and I promised that I would and then he closed his eyes. For a long time there was no one to tend the garden.

“Do not pray for easy lives…pray to be stronger men.”-John F. Kennedy

The above quote about sums up my existence right now. After all, an overwhelming majority of writers have endured serious hardship, right?

It’s been getting better, though. Our power had been coming in and out for a couple of months, and about midweek last week, everything hit the fan. We went through some power surges (which turned my house into Poltergeist…) before the power went out. We spent two nights without heat, which had happened before, so we just bundled up. It always happens on the coldest days, I swear. Today an electrician came out and told us that the surges had burnt out our modem (I’m currently using my cell phone as a source of wifi), our oven, our cable boxes, and the heater. He patched up the heater at no cost, which was amazing, and as of this morning, we have heat again.

We need to have our circuit breaker replaced, which will run us about $2,100, which is a lot of money that we sort of have but really don’t. Somehow, my mom can pay for it, and my grandpa is lending her the money to put back into the account before it screws up finances.

The oven, etc are still out, so we can pretty much only cook on the stove. But we have power, and I’m insanely happy about that. Money’s still going to be tight, and we set up a paypal in the event that anyone is generous enough to drop us an extra dollar or two and help out. It’s so greatly appreciated. (The email to send the money to through paypal is iggyziggy2@gmail.com. I know, fabulous email, but it’s my mom’s.) I’m not one to beg, but it’s been difficult.

But housing situation aside, I finally have the chance to read now that I’m on winter break. I’m 3/4 of the way through David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, which I’ll follow up with Cursed With Power, 11/22/63, The Map of Time, and Moab Is My Washpot. 

If you’re considering reading Cloud Atlas, do it. It’s maddeningly brilliant, and it’s been driving me crazy since the end of the first chapter. The book breaks every single rule in the writing book, and I don’t even care. The first half of the book has chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; chapter 6 is an interlude, and then the second half of the book has chapters 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. The book doubles back and goes in reverse order. Crazy, right? On top of that, many of the chapters stop either mid sentence or right in the middle of the climax, leaving the reader with a terrible cliff hanger. Everything is connected, and the book reinforces that in so many ways. I’ve already had so many conversations about it with friends and teachers. Cloud Atlas is literally life changing. Read it.

I’m trying out a new novel and a new how-to-write book simultaneously, and so far it’s actually been okay. The book, Chapter By Chapter, offers a countless exercises to practice your novel with. The book I’m working on, The Impossible, has taken on a mind of its own. It’s straying from my outline, and thus far, I’ve let it. I’ll pay for it later, of course, but for now, I’ll see where it goes.

Christmas is tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to spending quality time with my family. (Did I really just say that?) But Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

“You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.”- Bill Watterson

I’m a terrible blogger. Go on, say it. I know you’re thinking it. I certainly am. Life just has a way of imploding when you need everything to go right, doesn’t it?

First of all, I’m behind on my NaNo project. I don’t mean 2k or even 10k behind. I mean I’m 40k behind. I have a grand total of about 7,500 words written, and I’m absolutely frustrated with myself. It’s not that I don’t love the project; I do. I started with a novel that I fell in love with when outlining, but when I started writing, I hit a wall immediately. I switched projects, and I had no problem getting the words out. But recently, it’s been one thing after the other. (My road test-passed the second time, thank God, my mother’s surgery, an AP paper, a short film, and an Honors history book/paper/project.) I know I should always find time to write, but there just hasn’t been time. I’ve tried.

I know it’s possible for people to join NaNo around this time and manage to pull out 50,000 by the end of the month, so hopefully I’ll pull through. I have no school for the next couple of days, so I’ll stay up all night and see what I can get done.

Secondly, tomorrow is the anniversary of JFK’s assassination. I believe this is the first year that I’ve become aware of it, and I’ll be sure to take a moment of silence. He’s come to mean so much to me over the last couple of months, and I’m so lucky that I’ve really started studying him in earnest. He is truly a remarkable man.

Thirdly; Skyfall. I won’t say too much about it if you haven’t seen it, but please do yourself a favor and get to the movies this break. I saw it with my friends on Sunday, and we’re talking about it. I went in with mixed expectations because I didn’t fancy Craig as Bond, but he completely shattered my expectations. He was phenomenal, as was the rest of the cast. I have a thing for villains, and Raoul Silva (or Tiago Rodriguez, take your pick) did not disappoint. I understand that he’s the villain and he should lose and we should hate him, but he was so real. He had a backstory, and he had a reason for wanting to stick it to MI6. Javier Bardem played him so well that I’m actually afraid of him now.

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Please enjoy the above gif of Bardem.

All in all, I hope that everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving, and if you don’t celebrate it, have a nice weekend all the same. As for me, I’ll be cradling my coffee and writing until six am.