The Guilty Party

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Couple of Everyday Celebrations

Our son is learning how to make sushi.

And the tulips I put in the garden in early November are blooming.

Just wanted to share.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Books I am Glad I Met

A friend recently tagged me on Facebook with one of those lists that like to circulate around the internet. This one calls itself "BBC Top 100 Books". One is supposed to check off the books on the list that one has read and pass it along. Now I just did a Google for "BBC Top 100 Books" and the list that came up was vintage 2003 and varied a bit from the list sent to me, so I have no idea if the list I was working off of is legitimate or was manufactured in the Far East with outsourced labor, but I ticked off the books I had read, putting lower case "x"s next to the works I thought less than worthy of any "Top" list and upper case "X"s next to the really good stuff. A few got more than one "X".

But the exercise got me thinking. Why not create a list of my own? I mean the BBC is a worthy organization with fair amount of brainpower at its command, but they ain't me. So I studied the question for a while, maybe fifteen minutes before going to sleep last night, and came up with Alan's Top 26 Books He Would Want To Have With Him No Matter What, or to use a common expression for such Gotta Have lists, Alan's Desert Island Books. I Hope you don't mind me referring to myself in the third person. It's part of my training to become the oldest rookie in the NFL.

Alan's Desert Island Books

1.) Huckleberry Finn....Twain
2.) David Copperfield....Dickens
3.) Leave It To Psmith....Wodehouse
4.) The Code of the Woosters....Wodehouse
5.) Pigs Have Wings....Wodehouse
6.) The Lord of the Rings....Tolkien
7.) A Confederacy of Dunces....Toole
8.) The Princess Bride....Goldman
9.) Going Postal....Pratchett
10.) Gaudy Night....Sayers
11.) Watership Down...Adams
12.) The Power of Myth...Campbell/Moyers
13.) Respect for Acting...Hagen
14.) Autobiography of Mark Twain...Twain/edited by Neider
15.) Great Possessions...Kline
16.) The Seekers...Boorstein
17.) Good Omens....Pratchett/Gaimen
18.) The Giving Tree....Silverstein
19.) A Wrinkle in Time....L'Engle
20.) The Dortmunder Novels...Westlake
21.) The Once and Future King....White
22.) Oh, The Places You'll Go....Seuss
23.) A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears....Feiffer
24.) Treasure Island....Stevenson
25.) The Marvelous Inventions of Alvin Fernald...Hicks

26.) Close Enough for Government Work...Hutcheson
(hey, if there's room in the satchel or I have a Kindle, of course I'm taking my own baby. Although we'll have to see if its fraternal twin Boomerang* edges it out)

Even as I type this more titles are coming to mind, so maybe this list will expand to forty or fifty or more. But that's what fifteen minutes gave me.

What's on your list?

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.

Latest word from Legend Press is that Boomerang will be available beginning next week. You can be assured I will post updates right here on Sketches by Plumboz.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Oprah (yes, again) and a Great Big Hole in the Ground

It has been a while since my last post and I must say I have missed you all. Hope your March is going well. Mine has been pretty full in a nearly consistently good sort of way.

Here is what we have for today:

Firstly is the latest offer to come by way of OPRAH and THE CONTAINER STORE. As you know, I have a vested interest in this since my very nice day job is at Ye Not So Olde Container Store and a writer without a day job, while a glorious thing to behold, is a rare, not to mention hungry and quite likely poorly housed, beast. So it gives me great pleasure to once announce to my public that there is a
25% coupon for all things Container Store (which is a lot of neat stuff just about everybody needs) to be found on Oprah's website.

Link to Oprah's website, where you can click on over to the printable coupon. **

And now for the travelogue portion of our proceedings.

Day before yesterday, which would be Monday, we (that would be the family) took our second trip down past Tucson to Kartchner Caverns. If you either live in Arizona or happen to find yourself here at some time in the future for whatever reason, I do encourage you to check the place out. It is an easy, if somewhat boring, two and a half to three hour drive south of Phoenix, and the experience is terrific. There are two tours available, the Rotunda Room Tour, which is open year round, and the Big Room Tour, which closes up when the resident bats come to roost, which I understand is usually in early to mid April. According to Marlo, who was our guide on the Big Room Tour, somewhere between 700 and 1,000 female myotis bats (tiny things weighing in at about half an ounce) all of them pregnant, take over the place for the summer to do some serious birthing and catch up on how all their friends have been doing the past year. Play groups are established, stretch mark masking techniques are passed around and there is inevitably some swapping of stories concerning the decline of the overall quality of the male myotis bat population relative to grooming, culture and income generating capability. It is a good time to be a mama bat.

Considering the fact that the place becomes both a maternity ward and a nursery, they leave it pretty neat, with just a few concentrated piles of nice, clean guano on the floor and some smudges from unwiped bat feet on the ceiling. And even these have to be pointed out by the guide because it is just too easy to miss them as you goggle at the enormous variety of formations to be seen nearly every which way you turn.

A blog is no place to even attempt to describe the wonder of exploring (in a very neat, clean and safe touristy way) Kartchner Caverns. You can check out the website for a nice overview of the place and its interesting history. But nothing substitutes experiencing it yourself. Ain't that the way things always are?

Kartchner Caverns.

Only downside to the whole day was the car Hertz "upgraded" us to. I reserved a Chevy Impala or equivalent and they put us in a Mercury Grand Marquis. In other words, a boat designed in the late 1960's. Really. My father, God rest his soul, bought a big ol' 1969 Ford Custom 500 and it was one of the first cars I drove as a teenager. It had a lot of room on those two bench seats, which at that point in my life did seem like a good thing, but it was not what you would call a fun or exciting automobile to drive. The current model Grand Marquis I drove demonstrated very little in the way of advancement in the automotive arts from that Ford born forty years ago. And a big bench seat just doesn't seem that important anymore. Age will do that to a person.

And just in case you're wondering what to do with all that wonderful cash you're saving at The Container Store, may I suggest a terrifically fun read?

Close Enough for Government Work, by, well, by me, your host here at Sketches by Plumboz.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that the latest edition of this splendid book will be out soon. I gave it a fresh polish, a little bit of a rearranging of action at the beginning and a whole new title: Boomerang. It will be coming soon from YWO/Legend Press. So you have a really nifty choice. Buy the original, or wait for the new version, OR buy both and not only make an author very happy but ensure your place in the Good Karma Hall of Fame.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Inspired to Do Better

In one of my recent posts here I wrote about the importance of writing a good hook for ones book. I also noted just how tough it is to distill an entire novel into one great eye and/or ear catching sentence. To illustrate the point I showcased a number of hooks from one of the writing sites I frequent. Most of them, to my mind, were not doing their job.

Well, I put the same post in the forum section of that writers' site, but this time I included the hooks I had created for both of the works I have there. I didn't know what to expect in the way of reaction, but I'm glad I did it because one of the comments caused me to go back and labor over my hook for Boomerang, the book I am currently trying to place with a literary agent. The original read something like this (see, even I can't remember the darned thing):

A secret that should have died with J. Edgar Hoover is on the loose and it's up to two down on their luck jazz musicians to save the United States from terminal embarrassment.


Here's the new version:

A comic novel of international intrigue played out by a diverse cast of characters, most of them operating completely out of their element.

Obviously I like the new one. What do you think?

Late news development! (March 6, 2009)

After even more helpful feedback, a new front-runner has emerged.

A crossbow wielding assassin, the Director of Central Intelligence, two jazzers, and a clothing optional ex-cheerleader are all chasing a boomerang with a secret inside.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise

A Bit About Me

My photo
I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.