22. August 2007 · Comments Off on Jam Tomorrow – Progress Report · Categories: Domestic, General, Literary Good Stuff, Memoir, Site News, Veteran's Affairs, Working In A Salt Mine..., World

“The rule is jam tomorrow and jam yesterday but never jam to-day.”

Or so saith the Queen, and I can just completely relate, because in the mad writers-life waltz that is my own life these days, there is always the hope of jam tomorrow. The bread today is plain and budget, and naked of jam, but tomorrow it may be miraculously spread with finest-kind Confiture Bar le Duc.

Or so we keep hoping. I think the cats are holding out for a can of nice juicy salmon, hold the toast hold the capers, just plain, thank you. The dogs will be ecstatically happy with anything edible that has only bounced once when it hit the floor.

Tiny tastes of jam include the fact that “To Truckee’s Trail” is in Booklocker.com’s list of top-ten print best-sellers, and I did get an email from this bookstore in Truckee City thanking me for my query and noting that they had ordered some copies from the Ingram catalogue to stock in their bookstore. I am testing out running an ad here; home central for all things Western… and I finally got paid for the magazine article that had been published several issues ago. (What a goat rope… I’m not really sure I want to submit any more articles, not when I have to wait to get paid for months and then throw a temper tantrum. How demeaning is that? And do publishers do it because it’s a hell of a lot easier to stall writers than suppliers and printers?) But I had some paid work at Dave The Computer Genius’ place of business, and he let me use his computer and soft-wear to tweak my book-website, so my need to buy my own copy of it is put off for at least a little while. All good, all jam., or at least a tantalizing expectation of same.

Still haunting the mailbox though; last week I ordered a box of copies from the publisher; these are the autographed copies which readers have ordered, and some are to be sent out to reviewers. I ordered another box this week; more review copies, and one for the kid in the sandwich shop where I get a smoked-chicken sub every Saturday… and I have promises of all kinds of linky-love and reviews in the very near future. As soon as I have the books in hand. And mail them out.

There was that saying about promises and pie crust, though…

On the other book front, “Barsetshire with Cypress Trees and a Lot of Sidearms”; Slow going to report, due to my need to engage in paid work this week, but …the second volume is nearly done, winding up the Civil War period in Gillespie County. I did some re-jiggering of my extended chapter outline, moving up the break between volumes to the end of the war. Two reasons for this; the first being that the volume was getting to be about twenty chapters long, and the other being that I had already seen to the demise of enough characters. If I kept the original break, it would have looked like the end of Hamlet, with corpses piled up all around. This way at least I can end with some reunions, the return of various survivors from the Civil War, and a happy wedding. Or happy enough, considering that the whole local economy has been wrecked, and a good few of the men killed, exiled or traumatized by the war.

Then I can set up the final volume, beginning with the Comanche raid which incorporates the deaths of several characters and the abduction of two children…a sub-plot is running throughout the rest.

These last two volumes are going to be a real hoot for the friend of my mothers’ who is reading and editing the whole thing. She’s a retired professor of English, and has gone over the first volume, giving it the whole knowledgeable criticism that I need, as far as character development and such, but oh, dear…. When it comes to the Indians and the frontier, she advises me that I might have to tone down how the settlers went on about the Comanche threat… readers these days might take offense.

I kind of thought I had kind of toned it down; most of my characters take a kind of long-suffering but exasperated tone “Look, if you guys don’t knock it off with the pillaging, raiding and burning, and stick to your side of the Llano… we’re gonna take away your buffalo hunts and plunk you down on a Res in the panhandle and it won’t be pretty when we do.”

She also didn’t think it credible that I could have a leading female character not have the slightest idea about sex until her wedding night… but the past is a foreign country. They did have different mores, there. Hard as it might be to credit, a clever middle-class girl might get to maturity in the 19th century without putting all sorts of clues together… even if she did grow up on a farm. My parents had a neighborhood gathering once, when we lived at Hillside house; just half a dozen couples, all of whom knew each other pretty well. Somehow the discussion started over how old everyone had been when they first found out about the big S-word, and how they found out, exactly. The oldest of those present were Mr. and Mrs. B., about a generation ahead of my parents, which would put them as young adults in the 1920ie; not the most inhibited of decades, to put it bluntly. But Mrs. B confessed that she didn’t have the slightest idea until she was about twenty. It was just not a topic that was everywhere, the way it is now; good thing or bad thing. Still, I probably ought to add something to the narrative to make it clear how that could be so, in that other country that is the past.
(wanders off, making notes to self… and wondering where to get an excellent deal on padded 8” x 10” envelopes.)

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