11. May 2008 · Comments Off on Home Stretch · Categories: Domestic, General, Literary Good Stuff, Old West, Working In A Salt Mine..., World

Sorry for the light blogging this week; I can only handle so much Obamania. Having pegged him as a gorgeous, charismatic empty suit a couple of months ago, watching the wheels wobble on his bus, in spite of all the fawning adoration of our supposedly non-biased press corps… well, it’s just tiresome. The crash is inevitable; it will be messy. His wife is a shrew, his associates are as embarrassing as the close associates of machine pols always are, and the professional black race-mongers will rally around him regardless. Yawn. I think I will have another cup of tea – I have a book review, two DVD reviews and the draft of an old-media article about city politics (in another city!)… and a book chapter to finish.

Personally, the book chapter is the most important. It’s the final chapter of the Adelsverein saga, AKA “Barsetshire with Cypress Trees and a lot of Sidearms”, for which I first sketched out some notes and a short plot outline eighteen months ago. It was going to be a single book, incorporating a lot of the elements for which “Truckee” was criticized as not having, in order to be commercial; a lot of suspense about survival of the main characters, a fair amount of violence, romantic tension and even a hint of sex. I decided that I might as well throw in operatic levels of everything, in the hopes of being more commercially appealing. I thought I could do another unknown dramatic story of the frontier, since hardly anyone outside Texas has ever heard of the German colonies. The more I discovered in the course of researching this little corner of the 19th century, the more that I was drawn into my characters’ lives.

I wanted to go farther than just a simple romance about the founding of a small town, and the heroine’s discovery of love and a new land, of marriage and the birth of her first child. I had to follow her and her family and circle of friends through the crucible of the Civil War, through loss and desolation, up to the dawning of new hope and the crumbling of the Confederacy. The last volume does not tell quite so neatly contained a story; it’s a story of building again, of the rise of the cattle baronies in post-war Texas, of middle age and seeing your children open their wings and flying, of letting go of illusions and coming to terms with life. At the very end, my heroine sits in the 20th century parlor of her younger daughters’ house, reflecting on it all. She has seen marvelous things, known fascinating people, seen the world move from one powered by horse and sails to one where men fly, in engine-powered contraptions of wire and canvas. She has also become an American.

Sometime this week, I will write that last chapter of her story, Oh, I won’t be done with it, of course – I will need revise and edit, polish and format. I will need to re-read a stack of books, classic and modern Westerniana, immerse myself in the coffee-table books of Western art that I bought at the library sale last month, make about a thousand notes of new inclusions, take in the feedback of all the people who have read all three volumes, and chain myself to a hot computer for a couple of months. But it is the beginning of the end. One of the other Texas IAG members takes beautiful scenic photos and likes to fiddle around with artistic effects. He is letting me use three of them as covers for the Adelsverein Saga – look for all three in December of this year. For a sneak peek at his work, I put some of them up on my book website.

What to do next? I don’t know, yet – I had thought of doing a sort of prelude, about pre-Republic Texas, and maybe an adventure to do with the Mason County Hoo-Doo War, the original farmers-and-cattlemen feud. I’d hate to milk a franchise to death, though. I’d almost rather start on something original.

On the literary front I have a signing for “Truckee’s Trail” at a local Borders next month, a place that not only has a very interested and supportive general manager, but a venue that jumps most evenings, being co-located in a complex which includes a huge movie megaplex and a lot of popular restaurants in a well-heeled part of town. Alas, the IPPY short-list has been released, and “Truckee” didn’t place. The other contest I entered it in won’t be announced until October, so I’m well served by putting it out of my mind entirely.

Back to the 19th century…

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