Friday, September 30, 2011

Enter Here?

Starting to write a novel is a bit like entering a maze after you've circled the perimeter for a while looking for the starting point. Then once you're inside, like every maze, there are several directions which you can take--each leading to completely different stories. Some of those stories will come to dead ends. Some may get you to the finish with a little cheating. But ultimately there is one path you want to take and its important to know you're choosing the right one from the beginning.

When I sat down to start writing my new manuscript the other day, I found myself running into a series of walls. I wrote one opening page that I thought was pretty good--too good. It started to feel really familiar. Then I looked at my copy of Life is But a Dream and found the two openings to be very similar. So I had to scratch that and figure out a new way in. It took a day of rethinking, but I found another course though the story. Thankfully, I feel like I'm on track now.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Returning to the Fold

I'm about to start working on a new manuscript this week. After spending some time over the past few weeks thinking about a few different possible stories to run with, I've decided to return to a project I had first sketched out last year around this time. The concept is well-thought out and ready to go. I was reluctant to write it last year simply because I didn't feel ready, but the things I've been working on in that time have prepared me for the challenge. Sometimes writing isn't just about finding the right story, it's about discovering the right time for it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend Music Roundup

As I mentioned last week, there have been a wealth of albums that I've been really into of late. This week added a few more to the list. One of the things I love about weeks where I'm not actually writing a manuscript is that I have more opportunity to listen to multiple moods and genres. When I'm in the middle of a story, I tend to stick with a musical sound that fits the mood of the piece I'm writing. Since I spent this week finishing revisions and other odds and ends, I got to play a wide range of tunes and this week certainly reflects that. There are also a lot of recent releases on this list, I put them at the top to make it easier since I know the majority of the world cares mostly for what's now and what's next rather than what came before. Enjoy.

Sivert Hoyem - Long Slow Distance: The new solo album from the singer of Madrugada is his first since 2009's Moon Landing. This is easily his best solo album since his first, 2004's Ladies and Gentlemen. It's also one of his best ever records, solo or otherwise. This is closest to Madrugada's masterpiece The Nightly Disease. The mood is dark and brilliant, something akin to the soundtrack of a mild nightmare. This has quickly become one of my favorite albums of the year. Exceptional tracks include "Warm Inside," "Animal Child," "Red on Maroon," and "Blown Away." This is a must have album, period.

A.A. Bondy - Believers: This is the third solo album from the former frontman of the criminally ignored band Verbena. Since then, he's reinvented himself into a singer songwriter of folk songs that veer toward to the gothic. I find his first solo album American Hearts to be fantastic, but was a little less impressed by the follow-up. I'm happy to say this album sees a return to form. The songs are moody and wonderful and completely capture the feeling of my home, the Catskill woods in winter time, also his home these days. Highlights include the wonderful shout out to my area "Rt.28 Believers," as well as "Skull and Bones," "DRMZ," and "The Heart is Willing."

Kasabian - Velociraptor!: I've been a fan of this band since their 2004 debut and have enjoyed all of their albums since. They've evolved with each album to become a sort of neo-psychedelic version of Britpop, heavy on grooves and guitars. This is their fist album since 2009's wonderful West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum. It continues the same high-energy chaos of that album, exploring Beatles moments in the middle of electronic elements. There are a couple of songs that miss the mark on this album, but overall it's a fine addition to their catalog. Highlights include "Days are Forgotten," "Man of Simple Pleasures," and "La Fee Verte."

Wilco - The Whole Love: The pioneer Chicago americana indie band is back with their first album since 2009's self-titled and it's their best since 2007's Sky Blue Sky. Every song on here is good and the album is bookended with two longer masterpieces. Incorporating strings and plenty of acoustic guitar, this album is simply beautiful and a perfect autumn pick. Stand out tracks include "Black Moon", a throwback tune to their earlier days "Dawned on Me," and "One Sunday Morning."

Clown Alley - Circus of Chaos: This 1986 album is the only album from the heavy San Fran outfit. It has pre-Seattle sound that reminds me of the early Mudhoney singles and of course The Melvins (their guitar player would later join The Melvins in 1993). The album as a whole is very uneven with some songs sounding like a lot of other '80s hardcore, but the songs that capture a manic Stooges vibe are quite good. Worth checking out if you're a fan of this kind of thrash sound.

Sic Alps - U.S. EZ: Released in 2008, this is the second album by the experimental psychedelic lo-fi San Francisco band. This album loses some of the noisy tracks that I felt plagued the first and improves its neo-Grateful Dead vibe on the rest of the tracks. Still a bit crazed, think Guided By Voices or early Flaming Lips, but shows tons of promise leading up the next album. This is one certainly worth checking out if your into lo-fi. Highlight tracks include "Gelly Roll Gum Drop," "Everywhere, There," and "Mater."

The Cool Kids - When Fish Ride Bicycles: This Chicago hip-hop duo exploded on the scene in 2008 with the dynamite track "Black Mags." Since then, they've released a few mixed tapes and now comes this full-length album which has been delayed for years. The songs here keep their trademark slow delivery and big bass beats. When it hits on songs like "Bundle" and "Rush Hour Traffic", the Cool Kids are hard to beat. However the album falters quite a bit with slowjam R&B elements and less than stellar pool side rap. A couple of great songs, but fails to live up to the promise shown a few years ago.

The Seeds - A Web of Sound: This was the find of the day a few weeks back when I went vinyl shopping. I came across an original pressing of this 1966 California garage rock classic and had to have it. This is the band at its best, short, blistering, psychedelic rock tunes and the epic 14 minute "Up In Her Room." This band is considered one of the precursors to punk and it's easy to see why. This album is a definite must have, along with the self-titled album released in the same year.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fiction Friday

Somehow, I always seem to fall behind on posting book reviews here. And since I've been reading so much this year, I have a wealth of reviewed books to choose from. Reading is, of course, the most important activity one must do in order to be a writer. It's rare that I'll read a book and not learn something about the craft of writing. I'm still reading a lot of Middle Grade fiction these days, mostly because these are currently the most imaginative books being published. And while I've been working on my Middle Grade writing skills, a new genre for me, I've been trying to incorporate this wide-open imaginative style into my newer YA projects like Life is But a Dream and Afterworld. So I'd like to think my time spent in children's fantasy worlds is time productively spent...and if not, well, at least it's fun.

Nightshade City by Hilary Wagner
(Holiday House, 2010)

Always a sucker for middle grade, talking animal fantasy, I naturally had to read one that has been so positively reviewed. Having been a huge Redwall fan for over a decade, I admit to being a little skeptical of Nightshade City because of the publisher's obvious attempt to make the book 'look' like that series. I was actually pleased that the story doesn't resemble those books in tone or spirit, but rather is a very original story with wonderfully formed characters. Hilary Wagner certainly knows how to bring the world of the Catacombs to life. The barbarism of the Kill Army and its commanders is palpable and well-defined, as is the heroism of the rats of the newly formed Nightshade City. The story moves quickly, with enough action mixed in to keep the pages turning. I'm really looking forward to reading the next book.

However, the book did leave me with some questions. In the beginning of the book, there is a dark cloud that hangs over the plot. There is foreshadowing of a rape, which never occurs but still surprised me for a book geared to ages 9 and up. As an adult, I found it added to the sense of danger and was handled well, but as a children's author, I was simply surprised. But given that it was there, I was even more surprised that the concluding action of the plot is handled with so little violence. The entire book builds to a massive battle which never occurs. Which is noble, and also fits in with the theme of reason over brutality. But I couldn't help feeling that it somehow didn't fit the narrative structure set up in the beginning. None of this prevented me from thoroughly enjoying the book, and most people probably wouldn't notice these things, but as a writer, I found it a fascinating aspect of the book that I thought worthy of note.

The Time Travelers: Book One in The Gideon Trilogy
by Linda Buckley-Archer (S&S, 2007)

There are lot of things that are done really well in this book. Intrigue abounds in the plight of Kate and Peter after they are transported back to year 1763 during a freak accident. I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure of two modern twelve year olds navigating a grim and grimy eighteenth century London. (I love time travel even more than talking animals).

Rather than glorify the past as many stories are apt to do, Linda Buckley-Archer chose to present the horrid along with the charm. She didn't shy away from creating a vivid picture of the elements of past society which would shock modern readers, whether it be the foul stench, the deplorable food, the injustices of the legal system or the wretched conditions of the poor. I think it's important for a children's book to recall these times, not just as a way of illustrating how far we've come, but also as a way of considering how far we still need to go in order to end these practices today. However there was quite a bit of glorification of the present that I thought was ill-earned considering the lingering existence of many of these issues in today's world, even if to a much lesser degree. Still, I felt the book did a good job of showing today's world as being more convenient than anything else. It didn't hide the fact that problems still exist, they are just easier to take care of in many ways.

Despite my joy in reading The Time Travelers, I felt that the story dragged a bit with too many instances of repetition of similar predicaments facing the characters. Though each of these scenes were well-written and entertaining, I personally believe that limiting them to one example would have given the scene greater impact. I also felt the science aspect of the story to be glossed over, which stood out given the wonderful detail placed on the historical elements. With a topic of time travel, one of my favorites, I felt the science end of it needed more attention than it got. Obviously there is no right or wrong science when it comes to traveling through time, which gives the writer more freedom to be inventive. In this book, it simply felt as if there wasn't much thought put into creating a compelling way to illustrate it. I also wished Kate and Peter were a little more dynamic. Oftentimes they were overshadowed by their supporting cast (which was excellent by the way). Still, given all of that, the book was a page turner and never left me bored. Plus the James Jean illustrated cover is rather nice.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When the Ending is not the End

Yesterday I wrote a new ending to Afterworld, the manuscript I'd been working on for most of the summer. This isn't the first time I've been asked to revise an ending. In fact, it's the fourth novel in a row that I've written a second ending (though once I went with the original in the end). It's not that I'm bad at writing them. As a mater of fact, I kind of pride myself on endings. My problem is that the story never truly ends in my head, therefor in my first attempt, I can usually feel myself fighting against putting an end to it. But eventually I accept it and once that happens, I'm able to close the story properly.

The scene I wrote yesterday was a little different. I didn't rewrite the ending. I added another chapter, a scene further along in the story. It was a scene I had in my head since about half way through the first draft. I had pictured it as the opening of a sequel if one were ever to come. But after a lot of thought, I realized that rather than an opening, it was the perfect conclusion.

A good ending, like a good beginning, leaves the reader with a sense of who the character is at that particular moment. I've never cared for the summary approach. The reader was on the journey with the character, they don't need to hear it again. I prefer books that leave the reader with an impression of what is to come with only a slight reminder of what has been. And I'm happy to say that I honestly believe the chapter I wrote yesterday is one of the most beautiful scenes I've ever written.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blimey! It's Talk Like a Pirate Day, Matey!

Ahoy! It be Talk Like a Pirate Day. And what could be more fun than pirate speak. I was lucky enough to pretend to be a pirate through eight chapter books in my Pirate School series. Based on kids I knew in elementary school, I had a blast writing these books.

Some of my favorite pirate creations for these books:

'icky sicky'
'Sea Slug Cereal'
'Seaweed Slop'

You can find out more about there here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Weekend Music Roundup

After a summer where I found fewer albums to be excited about than usual, recently there have been a lot of albums that I've been pretty thrilled about. By that I mean there are a lot of albums that I've been listening to repeatedly. Some of those are on this list, others are still to come. Most of these have a summer feel, but I've also been transitioning into autumn music...always my favorite time for listening to music. Enjoy.

Sic Alps - Pleasures and Treasures: Last week, my friend Marc introduced me to this lo-fi psychedelic band from San Francisco. I only heard one song, but it had a great sound, something like an experimental update of The Grateful Dead. When I searched them out, I started with this album, their 2006 debut and worked my way through their next two albums. This one is a little chaotic and noisy in places, but it works well with the moments when they slip into their stoner groove. Good stuff, but only a sign of better things to come.

Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger, & The Trinity - Streetnoise: I'd been looking for this 1969 prog folk album for about a year when I finally found it on vinyl at a tent sale two weeks ago. This is the second collaboration of these London folksters and it's pretty amazing. There a few Brian Auger keyboard tracks that I don't really care for, but are ahead of their time. The Julie Driscoll songs though are the real standouts. She has an amazing voice, sounding like Grace Slick if she sang bluesy folk. This is one of the gems the London folk movement.

The Pentangle - Pentangle: Continuing with the late '60s London folk scene, I finally got the chance to check out one of the staples of that scene with this 1968 debut. This band has a fantastic sound. I love the way the songs progress. They remind me of more controlled Incredible String Band or a more passioned Fairport Convention. I recently picked up their second album, a double album, on vinyl and am greatly looking forward to listening to it.

Hollywood Rose - The Roots of Guns N' Roses: This is the earliest version of Guns N' Roses with the original lineup of Axl, Duff, Izzy, and Traci Guns (who left to form L.A. Guns). This studio session from 1985 was long considered to be the great lost classic of L.A. glam punk. Only five songs, some of which had been bootlegged, but this still was a welcomed release when it finally came out on CD in 2004. But even though I own it on CD, the other week when I came across the limited 1000 copy colored vinyl release from 2007, I had to have it. These five songs are blistering, includes "Reckless Life", "Shadow of Your Love", and the early version of "Anything Goes."

Kitchie Kitchie Ki Me O: This 2011 album from a band born from the ashes of Norway's My Midnight Creeps and Madrugada has been one of my favorites of the year so far. It has a similar moody rock sound to those previous bands, but incorporates some prog elements and horns that really bring it to another level. Not to mention it has one of the best covers in year.

Jon Fratelli - Psycho Jukebox: Released a few months ago, this is the solo debut by the frontman of the Fratellis. Since that bands last album in 2008, there was the interesting side project Codeine Velvet Club in 2009. But this is the first album that sees him return to his roots of great Britrock. As with the Fratellis, this is more an album of singles than anything else, and there are some great ones here. I also like the way he brought in some rockabilly elements to make it sound fresh. This guy just knows how to write good pub rock.

Brett Anderson - Black Rainbows: Since Suede's 90's heyday, their lead singer has struggled at times to find his muse. Besides a one off album in a band called The Tears, his solo albums have been pretty weak. 2007's self-titled album was rather terrible and 2009's Slow Attack wasn't much better. I'm happy to say this album, while not exactly a return to form, is at least close to capturing the magic of Suede. It's uneven, but the songs that stand out are really good. Certainly worth checking out, even if you'd given up.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - I'm With You: I'm not a huge fan of this band, but certainly enjoy the John Frusciante catalog, with 2002's By the Way being the best. I thought their last album was bloated and very uneven. I could say the same for this one, the first post-Frusciante album. But once trimmed down to the six good tracks, it's a fun little EP and hearkens to the best of By the Way and Californication (their two best albums in my opinion).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Place Where Stories Collide

Last week, I spent a lot of time doing one of the things I love most in the world--flipping through fictions. At least that's how I see the time spent in book stores or record stores. The images and descriptions, covers and illustrations, jacket flaps and song titles all collide in my mind to form a collage of converging imaginations that I've always found inspiring.

As much as I enjoy the treasures I walk away with, I also find the search rewarding. I don't get that same experience shopping over a computer. Sure, I find what I want, but I don't feel any interaction with the imaginations contained within the work. My belief that a world without record stores or book stores would be a dull one has once again been confirmed.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We All Fall Down

(Artwork by Joel Cruz, 8 years old)

He climbs up to where I am. pretty fast. fast as he can. He sure loses his shyness pretty quick. I think we're going to fall for sure. but I hold on. hold on to him and he holds on to me. and just before I close my eyes, I see three lights spark to life in the Twin Towers, like stars just for me. my mind is made up. there really is no choice after that. I've settled on which buildings are my favorite, once and for all. ---(from the draft of my book Tomorrow, Maybe)

This is how the original version of the last paragraph on page 55 of Tomorrow, Maybe was written in the spring of 2001. This book was meant to be an abstracted story of my first few years of living in New York City. In those years, I found New York to be a terribly lonely place at times, but always a beautiful one. The way the skyline changes as you walk is certainly a part of that. When I was kid, I loved the romantic nature of the Empire State Building, but the longer I lived there, I grew to appreciate the Twin Towers even more. Having worked in an office with a magnificent view of them, I got to see them come to life with light everyday. This was the feeling I was writing about in the above passage.

The great thing about the view was that there were no buildings in the line of sight despite the twenty or so blocks between where I was and where they were. Of course, the very same wonderful view that I loved so much also proved to have consequences. On this morning, ten years ago, I was standing outside on the patio of the top floor of that building watching smoke billowing into the sky. I stood with friends and we watched in confusion, wondering, like everyone else, what was going on and why helicopters weren't landing to attempt a rescue of the people on the top floors. Then the first tower fell before our eyes and everyone screamed.

There was a rush to evacuate the building after that. On the stairs, someone who had been in their office asked me what was happening. All I could say was 'it's gone.' Minutes later I was lost in the wild stampede of frightened people running north on Broadway. Just two days before, I had been driving into the city through the Holland Tunnel and I remember expressing my amazement at the two buildings with the person in the car with me. I had been saying, as I often did, that sometime in the distant future, civilizations were going to marvel at those buildings the same way we do at the pyramids in Egypt.

In the final version of Tomorrow, Maybe, we changed it to read the Empire State Building. This wasn't out of any 'sensitivity' that was rewriting history at that time. It was merely because we didn't want to date the action in the story of the book to a certain time. But the original version was the honest version. My favorite buildings disappeared ten years ago along with thousands of fellow New Yorkers. But as horrible as it was, on that day and the days and weeks after, no one in New York felt lonely...we all hurt and healed as one.

(Artwork by Melanie Cohn, age 8)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Weekend Music Roundup

Due to the hurricane disruption, it's been several weeks since I've done a regular roundup of reviews. The good news is that since I've had weeks to store up music, there is a wealth of great albums to list here and more for the coming weeks too. I also binged last weekend and went vinyl shopping on two separate days. I found some amazing stuff, but I'm only part way through the records, so I'm saving most of them for the lists upcoming. Most of the stuff on this list are albums I've been listening to for a couple of weeks and are long overdue for their inclusion. A few others are things I've just listened to in the past couple of days. All in all, a pretty good mix. Enjoy.

The Rapture - In the Grace of Your Love: What started as a NYC dance punk outfit with 1999's Mirror had morphed into a more psychedelic sound by 2003's Echoes and more new wave by their last album 2006's Pieces of the People We Love. The five years off have certainly been spent wisely. This album sees the perfect combination of the greatness of Echoes with best bits of Pieces. It's still an alternative dance sound, but extremely well done. This has quickly become one of my favorite albums of the summer.
Olivia Tremor Control - The Game You Play Is in Your Head: Released two weeks ago, this five minute song is the band's first official release of new music since 1999's Black Foliage. Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly given the ability of bands in the Elephant 6 to consistently deliver, this three part song could easily fit on the twelve year old album. It has the band's signature sunshine pop feel combined with noise effects. Pretty fun listen, though as with most of their work, I'm sure it will fit better in the context of an album.

Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi - Rome: Released in the beginning of summer, this album was a project these two had been trying to get off the ground for years before finally getting Jack White and Norah Jones on board to do the vocals. The album is inspired by music in old spaghetti western films, though the sound has definitely been updated. The instrumental pieces are beautiful and the handful of tracks with vocals are quite good. Jack White once again proves his ability to blend into any genre, but it's Norah Jones who really shines on this. It's not the sort of unforgettable classic they may have set out to make, but it's a solid release that I've found to be a great morning record.

Jackie-O Motherfucker - Earth Sound System: For a while, this Portland, OR free folk outfit was putting out multiple albums a year during the last decade. So it's sort of surprising that this is the first release in two years. For those unfamiliar with JOMF, they are known for long compositions, mostly instrumental in nature, but quite a few including mellow campfire sort of vocals. Though this album doesn't come near the genius of such releases like Flags of the Sacred Harp, America Mystica or even Liberation, it's a solid effort. If not for the two unlistenable experimental compositions, "Raga Joining" and "Raga Separating," this would be a pretty great free folk record. Luckily in today's digital world, those two noise pieces can be they should be. Rest of the album is 4 out of 5.

AG - Everything's Berri: My friend Marc turned me onto this album earlier this week. AG is an old school NYC rapper with a Guru type flow. The mellow jazzy beats totally fit his delivery on this album. It sounds as if he's freestyling this entire album, and with the exception of two or three weaker tracks, it's totally solid. Easily the best mellow hip hop album I've heard in a long time.

Dave 'Snaker' Ray - Kid-Man: This is the one recent vinyl score that I decided to include here simply because I listened to it last night and it's fresh in my mind. Dave Ray had been around for more than a decade before this 1977 album, but judging from the photo of him on the back compared with the photos of him on his 1967 album, the years were rough. Perhaps that's what infuses this traditional blues album with the magic that is the blues. This isn't anything revolutionary, nothing you haven't heard on other blues records, but the thing about the blues is that each person's expression of it is unique and worthy of listening to if it's down well. Some great guitar work here and a perfect blues voice. If you see this on vinyl for $4 as I did, you can't really go wrong.

Hawkwind - Doremi Fasol Latido: This is the pioneering space acid rocker's third album from 1972 and contains some of my all time favorite tracks by the band. Though I've been a pretty hardcore fan of the band's original lineup since I was 15 years old, I never bothered buying this album. That is mostly because I've always owned Space Ritual, the masterful 1973 live double-album which contains most of these songs. But somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that didn't make this album insignificant and finally acquired it. The studio versions of the songs are slightly different, more controlled, yet you can still hear them coming unhinged within their structures. "Time We Left This World Today", "Down Through the Night" and the powerful opener "Brainstorm" are among the band's best work.

The White Stripes - Live In Mississippi & Under Moorhead Lights All Fargo Night: Two new releases with vastly different results. Mississippi, recorded during the Icky Thump era is dynamic and really captures the schizophrenic energy of a White Stripe's performance. Jack is in great form, improvising on guitar and moving easily through a career spanning catalog. This album might be better even that last year's live album. The Fargo album on the other hand, though an amazing set from the De Stijl era, is of such terrible quality that it amazes me it was even released. Readers of this blog know how much I love bootleg quality material, but this isn't even that. This is of terrible quality even it were a have been actually released is kind of appalling. Skip that and go for the other one.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Last Exile (Episodes 25-26)

Catch up on previous episodes here)

In my experience, when becoming a writer, one of the hardest things to learn is how to end a story. Because it's the last impression one leaves with the audience, it is often the most criticized aspect of any story. This seems especially true with television shows where series finales are usually remembered as moments of disappointment rather than triumph. I'm happy to say that Last Exile avoids this fate, though at times these episodes did feel slightly rushed and did leave me with many unanswered questions. But that's okay, I always like to leave readers of my novels with unanswered questions too. As a storyteller, you don't want to give everything away -- you want the story to live on in the imagination of the audience so that the characters never actually 'end', they are simply passed on.

One technique for concluding a story that I've always enjoyed is the idea of bringing things full circle back to the beginning. In Last Exile, Claus and Alvis need to make their way back to Exile in order to prevent the Guild from gaining absolute control over the world. In order to do this, they make their way to various checkpoints, allowing us last glimpses of many characters. During their flight, we also see how much Alvis has grown. Acting as Claus's navigator, using Lavie's notes, she is braver and coming into her own. We also see Claus realize his full potential. After being attacked by two Guild ships, he displays some amazing piloting skills to defeat them. On the final leg of the journey, they reunite with Lavie and their original vanship. In order to save the world, they must cross the Grand Stream in their fathers' ship, just as they had always dreamed of doing. I really enjoyed how their personal journey ended up coinciding with the greater fate of the world.

Another good rule for an ending is that you should never give the audience exactly what they may want. During the course of a story, there are certain hopeful outcomes one wants to set up. But I firmly believe you should only deliver on some them because stories, as in life, should never work out too perfectly. There is a great deal of tragedy in the end of Last Exile, but this is offset by the overwhelming sense of good will that comes after the massive battle that concludes the story. This is definitely a series worth investing the time to watch from beginning to end. It has compelling characters, a wonderful sense of story arch and development, and is completely satisfying.

Final Grade: A

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Last Living Boy in New York

I spent a rainy day in Manhattan yesterday. There's something about New York in the rain that feels right. In the sun, the buildings show all of their scars. Under grey skies, with torrents of rain spilling over their unique ledges onto the mob of angry umbrellas--destined to be left in a graveyard of broken wires and torn fabric at subway entrances all over the city by the end of the day--the grey and silver buildings seem alive in the darkness and all of its secrets are exposed in the glow of electricity.

Manhattan is a labyrinth I've wondered often. Living on the island one needs to etch out certain corridors and explore them systematically. On rainy days, you need to have safe houses, scattered in each of neighborhood. You need places to kill time because in Manhattan, making your way slowly is always the smarter move than going for the mad dash through the wet sidewalks.

When I was there yesterday, I happened to end up around Washington Square. This is the first area I ever got to know when I moved to the city and luckily one of my safe houses still exists. I ended up at Generation Records, the first record store I went to after moving to the city 17 years ago. It still looks exactly the same. It was like being in a video game and going back to a section of the story you haven't been to in a long time.

I started thinking about the city in this way for the rest of the day and how you can follow a path of your memories like ghosts as you walk through the streets. It's strange how a place can transport you back in time. Memories play so much clearer when you're in the place where the memories belong. On rainy days, they seem closer to the surface and easier to return to for some reason.

I played a lot with this concept in the manuscript I just finished, Afterworld. I realize now that it was just another one of my abstracted ode's to the city where I learned to write.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Electricity Fairy Has Spread Her Wings

After a week of no electricity, I'm officially back on the grid. Sorry for the outage, but nature thought it best to cleanse the Catskills with flooding rains. I suffered through without too much trouble. I certainly caught up on some reading, averaging a book a day. It was like camping, only in the comfort of my own home.

It wasn't all terrible. I got some really exciting news last week about the most recent manuscript I've been babbling about that I'll share in a couple of weeks. (You can find the blog posts on that manuscript by clicking the 'Limbo' tag below.) But I'm really excited about it and I'm glad to say so are some other people who will help it come to life. Sometimes it takes a storm of some magnitude to wash in some new luck.

In other exciting news, my Thundercats Wilykit action figure arrived over the weekend. It's the first new addition to me expansive action figure collection in quite some time and I'm happy to say, it's pretty awesome.