Jun - 30 - 2009
Last week while I was on vacation I got an email from my editor and sat back to consider it with suspicion. I was worried that it might contain good news and let’s face it, nothing is worse than good news. Allow me to explain.
It’s easy to look around and find ten people to read your work and tell you it’s wonderful, or gosh-wow great, or really, really nice but none of that is terribly useful. On the other hand, try to find ten people to give you a thoughtful critique and offer suggestions on how to improve your manuscript. The latter is...Read the entire post
Jun - 29 - 2009
Although I was vacationing in the wildlands of eastern Tennessee last week, I was lucky enough to find, among the waterfalls, and cliff-faces, and coal mines, a strange little store named Antiques, Collectibles, Junk? You Decide.
Since I’m a big fan of deciding things, I took the opportunity to go in and put them to the test. I was greeted by Uncle Jesse (who, it turns out, is not in Hazard County, GA, and not dead, but hiding out in this store) who explained that he sold “a little bit of everything and something for everyone.” I was skeptical but I accepted his challenge.
The first thing I decided was that I would not be buying any of his collection of antique spatulas. Then, although tempting, I also decided against a large stack of neatly folded brown socks (I think they were originally white.) I continued my inspection and judgement upon the moldy little shop and easily placed each item into the “Junk” category until I came upon a small packet of letters stored in a Folgers can.
The letters were an admirable collection of correspondence between members of the Bolington family, many of which dated back over a hundred years. I read through each one with passing interest and considered that in this one case the item in question may be elevated above junk and possibly to the esteemed designation of collectible.
But when I reached the final and oldest letter of the series, I had to admit that Uncle Jesse did in fact have something for me. It was a letter of the late 18th century in which Charles Bolington chanced to cross the trail of Fin Button and saw fit to write of it to his wife, Lucilla.
I purchased the letter for a price that both I and Uncle Jesse considered fair and I have spent much of the time since transcribing it. I’m pleased to be able to present it to you here at The Fiddler’s Gun on the Letters to Peter page. Enjoy.
Jun - 24 - 2009
There's some great news this week from S.D. Smith, my good friend over at the Maple Mountain Story Club. He's been selected as a finalist for the West Virginia Fiction Award.
If you've never been to his site you should proceed with all haste to do so. He's got a unique voice and humor and always has something interesting going on.
The updates to The Fiddler's Gun are coming a bit slow this week because I'm on vacation in the mountains of Tennessee. No cell phone service and a really slow internet connection are small prices to pay for a cabin over looking the Cumberland Valley, hikes to local creeks, rivers, and waterfalls, a hot tub on the deck, and a whole lot of my mom's good cooking.
Jun - 22 - 2009
I received a letter this week from the Clerk of Antiquated Documents at the courthouse in Savannah, Georgia. She reported to me that during a recent courthouse yard sale, they’d cleaned out the basement of the old building and found an intriguing set of documents stashed away in an old chest. The documents were an assortment of letters, shipping receipts, philosophical writings, sheet music, grocery lists, and bad poetry dating as far back as the Revolutionary War. The aforementioned clerk had spent the better part of the week delivering the documents to whatever museums, universities, and learned collectors she thought most appropriate and, having seen this website, she was kind enough to contact me regarding one particular letter bearing the signatory of none other than Fin Button.
The letter, dated December 19th, 1775, has been precisely transcribed and is presented on the Letters to Peter page.
Jun - 18 - 2009
All the bookmark requests I’ve received so far have been mailed. I put a couple of extras into each envelope so you can give them out to friends.
I read today in Scott’s Compendium of Collectible Bookmarks that the value of these has tripled just in the first week and their worth is expected to increase exponentially in the next few months. I’m no mathematician* but at that rate of return you might be able to retire in a few months. Get them while they last! Just send me an email (via the Contact page) with your mailing address. Each collectibly misprinted bookmark is guaranteed still warm off the presses and smelling like an old fashioned ditto upon delivery.**
*I never mastered the whole multiply and divide by zero concept
**Guarantee not guaranteed
Jun - 17 - 2009
Like most novels, the first draft of The Fiddler’s Gun has gone through a lot of changes and is a good deal different from the final version that readers will hold in their hands. I did a lot of research while getting to know the various peoples and places of the story and in the earliest drafts a great deal of that research is explicit on the page.
But just because the author knows the history of a person or a place doesn’t mean it belongs in the story. A lot of that kind of information gets cut during editing. That doesn’t mean the research was in vain, though. The individual stories and histories behind the persons and places of The Fiddler’s Gun serve to inform the tale in much more subtle ways long after the raw exposition has been excised.
It does make me sad sometimes, though, and one such example is that of the Salzburgers...Read the entire post
Jun - 15 - 2009
I’m happy to report that I’ve spent the weekend investigating the ruins of Ebenezer, Georgia and while traipsing amongst a thick growth of cypress near the Savannah River, I discovered the husk of an old chapel. I approached it in fascination, stepping lightly beneath its gaze of shattered windows and crept inside to see what stories lay untold within her. I emerged some time later having discovered a hidden panel in the chancel out of which I drew a musty collection of documents. One of these was a letter bearing the signatory “FB” and given its content, there can be no doubt of its authorship.
I have meticulously transcribed the letter, dated December 14th, 1775, and placed its tale on the Letters to Peter page.
Jun - 11 - 2009
The FedEx man dropped off a little box last week and I tore into it like a kid on Christmas morning. Bookmarks! But wait, what on earth have they done? They are printed wrong. The knuckleheads at the printshop got the front and back image turned in opposite directions so that you have to flip the darned thing over end to end to read the other side.
My first reaction was to call and complain but then I remembered how I declined the option to have a proof sent before the printing. I bet they did it on purpose.
It’s only a first printing of a hundred and it didn’t cost much so I can’t really complain. I guarantee I’ll say yes to that proof option next time though.
But all is not lost. Like anyone who’s ever collected stamps or coins knows, flaws are not always a bad thing, not when they are the fault of the manufacturer. Yes, that’s right, the print error on these bookmarks has rendered them rare collector’s items. They will probably be worth hundreds one day, if not millions. Hundreds and millions of what? I’m not at liberty to say.
If you want one, send me an email with your address. Guaranteed in mint condition*.
*not liable for folding, crumpling, wetting, or other detriment caused by the postal service.
Jun - 10 - 2009
Contrary to popular belief (trust me, I’ve polled it), I did not sit down one day and think, “Ah hah! I shall write an adventure novel of the Revolutionary War and my heroine shall be named Phinea Button!”
The real story, if you choose to believe it, is that some years ago I decided to try something different for Christmas. Simply buying gifts and handing them out wrapped in plaid paper had grown too ordinary. That’s when I thought, “Ah hah! I shall build treasure chests and fill them with gifts and bury them!”...Read the entire post
Jun - 09 - 2009
I’ve had a fun time with the website lately but I worry sometimes that people will come to equate the snarky humor of the “About the...” pages or the psuedo-serious nature of the “Transcription” posts, or the first person perspective and voice of the “Letters to Peter” with the writing of The Fiddler’s Gun itself, which of course none of you have yet read. The novel’s voice, perspective, and style is something rather different from what is in evidence here on the site.
Some may have noticed a new webpage link in the sidebar entitled “Short Fiction”. While the pieces I plan to post there will not be direct examples of the style of the novel, I do hope they’ll offer a broader portrait of my writing and will help to earn your trust in the quality of the story yet to come.
The first short presented is one I wrote for The Rabbit Room entitled “The Taming of the Toad.” It is very loosely inspired by my experience as a staff member at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch and is not, as I’ve often been asked, autobiographical. I hope you enjoy it.
Jun - 08 - 2009
This Sunday afternoon I received a phone call from a man with a thick German accent calling himself Herr Wilbur Schilling. At first I assumed he had a wrong number and nearly hung up the phone but when he told me he was a member of the Georgia Salzburger Society, he had my full attention.
He told me of a collection of aged documents that he’d found some years ago hidden between the pages of an old Gutenburg Bible. The Bible, he assured me, now rests safely in the hands of the local museum but he held onto the documents having no clear idea of what they might be worth or to whom they might be of interest. He related his elation at the discovery of this website and how, with all haste, he sought me out and then bid me come to inspect his documentary treasure.
I did so at once.
Most of the documents in his care were of little note being either unreadable or unremarkable. Most, not all. One among them, although undated and unsigned, seized my interest at once and I have transcribed it and entered it upon the Letters to Peter page of the site.
Jun - 03 - 2009
Like scads of other people, I went out this weekend to see Pixar’s UP and came out of the theater two hours later misty-eyed and grinning like an idiot. Anyone at Pixar hiring writers? I’ve got a big opening in my schedule if you are. I’ll be happy to pencil you in. Heck, I’d sweep the floors at that place if they’d let me.
I wanted to write a review of it for The Rabbit Room but was a little too overwhelmed by the experience to do it any justice. I did put down a few thoughts though and invited readers to do the same. Head over to the Rabbit Room and add to the conversation. And if you haven’t seen the movie yet, cancel whatever else you’ve got going on this weekend and get thee to a theater.
Jun - 02 - 2009
One of the challenges of independent publishing is that I don’t have the benefit of a promotional team to help generate interest in the book. It’s all up to me, or me and anyone I manage to talk into helping. So I spend a lot of time wracking my brain for ways to put the word out. The result of one such brain-wracking session was to print bookmarks.
Using the character artwork that Chris Koelle did a few years ago I put together a simple 2x6 graphic and a short pitch for the...Read the entire post
Jun - 01 - 2009
For years I’ve dreamed of traveling cross-country to visit the famous National Museum of Maritime and Mercantile Logbooks in Beaufort, South Carolina. It boasts the biggest collection of historical logbooks in all of South Carolina and I had an inkling that I might be able to find something there that could enlighten the story of The Fiddler’s Gun. I was not mistaken.
I hid in a broom closet until they closed and then, under cover of darkness, I snuck into the museum proper to find what I had come for. Having watched Treasure of the Four Crowns last week, I was able to easily avoid the laser alarm system and a rather ingenious nest of booby traps that guarded the logbook. I danced through the laser field like the pasty middle-aged ninja that I am and used a bag of sand to fool the weight-sensitive plate upon which the logbook lay. Then I cut the page in question from the two-hundred-year-old book and left a polite note that I would return it in the near future along with a copy of my library card.
The transcription of this newly acquired log entry can be found on the Letters to Peter page. I hear sirens outside my door.