The last twenty-four hours have been busy. Having finally discovered how better to format a book for publication on CreateSpace through trial and error, I became confident that I should and could revise my novel, Amber Waves, to a more professional looking product. It took days and days to get things right – the joy of editing, which, if you remember, is the really hard part. But the result is in and Amber Waves is now available in its sleeker, slimmer version. I cut out the fat without loosing a word, and the paperback price dropped $2.50 to a new list price of $14. And it looks really nice. It is now available on CreateSpace and soon will be available on Amazon and most other online book stores. And I am working on a continuation – not a sequel, exactly, but a story that includes some of the characters from AW and a new group in new adventures.
I also created a paperback version of my poetry volume, Banned in Boston, which is also now available for just $5.50. I now have two poetry volumes in paperback, and plan to create paperback versions of my other three. Meanwhile, today I learned that another e-zine, Oddball Magazine, wants to publish my poetry. This adds to a wonderfully growing list of publications that find my work worthwhile – vindicating me in my long held belief that I amd first and foremost a poet, and second a storyteller. It also means that my work had just begin, a great situation to be in at 64 years of age! Write on!
Now, if you are not familiar with Amber Waves, let me tease you for a moment with the following line-note description: Jason Edwards cannot die. He lives in a world where people can, and do. He hides the secret of his extraordinarily long life by constantly re-inventing himself. But now, in the tiny town of Amber Waves, Nevada, on the edge of the Great Basin, his secret and his very life are under threat. Coming together around him are an FBI Agent, a coin collector, an ancient whore still plying her trade, a very casual deputy sheriff and an old Nazi in a pickup truck. Along the pathway to the inevitable confrontations that end the book, we travel with Jase through the history of his life and meet Nefertiti, Helen of Troy, Charlemagne, Martin Luther, and more.
The days slide by, filled with inactivity. And yet, several encouragements and some successes have come to us during that time. Our new grandchildren are merrily doing their job: grow. Our six year old grandson is tackling full time school in First Grade and seems to be holding his own in his expanding universe. Diane has been crocheting beautiful goods for sale and a few have already sold. With the season over, her off season hours as a baker have been cut back as expected; she is filling her time with her other talents. Inactivity is not her problem, but mine. For me have come some very very small royalties for my books on Kindle and CreateSpace, and The Fear of Monkeys is the most recent e-zine to publish one of my poems. There also has been a less intense outpouring of new poems, plus an idea which I am reluctant to address for a long project I am reluctant to begin.
My reluctance is two-fold. One (and always): can I do the idea justice? And two: will it absorb me and dominate me for the next full year, or two, to the exclusion of all else? Tangentially, am I ready for that kind of commitment and do I have the energy to tackle it? So I hesitate, watching other people’s long projects on TV – The Blacklist, The Roosevelts – and reading long histories by or about Dutchmen. Holland always comes into play, even in my new idea – Gerrit van der Meer, one of the producers of The Blacklist, is Dutch-born like me; the Roosevelts were descended from Nieuw Amsterdam settlers; one book, An Embarrassment of Riches, concerns the Dutch Golden Age; the other, Year Zero, about the immediate after-effects of World War Two in 1945, is by another Dutch-born author with the not so Dutch sounding name Ian Buruma; and Hollandaise flavorings will add character to the new project when I launch it. I thus write this blog to help turn my inertia into, at least for a moment, fingers moving on the keyboard. And then there is always an underlying, convenient thought, that I ought to do some proper research for my Dutch material on location. On that, I can dream.
I once read that the hardest thing for a writer to do is to actually write. More specifically, I think it is to start. We will do anything, find any excuse, to put it off. Gotta visit a friend; gotta pick the grandson up from school at 3, so better not start now;
let’s go shopping; the world is too depressing for me to focus on my own stuff; oh boy, Doctor Who is on tonight! It’s not writer’s block, it’s reluctance with a heavy dosing of avoidance. So excuse me, please, the last episode of The Rooselvelts is on the DVR.
Of course, I cannot stay away from politics or the world situation. I have been listening for weeks about the weakness in the White House, about a President who is too cautious, about a new threat apparently known for over three years that calls itself ISIS, about what the United States should do to curb that threat, about the dissentions in Congress over what actions to take or not to take. It gives me a headache, listening, so I find I must throw my two cents worth of noise into the mix.
ISIS is dangerous. Our pundits claim ISIS is the most dangerous thing on the planet surface at the moment. Obviously, they are brutal and cold and seem to enjoy slaughtering people, even their own. They use terror as a tactic in their war of conquest. They seem to pose a threat for terror attacks on our soil. But we miss the point. ISIS is different. It is a critical difference brought forth in the word, “conquest.” They have a plan, they have a purpose, they have a goal, and that is a separate state combining Syria and Iraq. This is not a bunch of anarchists trying to blow things up and see what happens. This is a conquering army.
Point number two that we seem to be missing: there are at the moment an estimated 20,000 soldiers fighting for ISIS. 20,000? Yes, they are well armed and terrifying, and whole armies run at the sight of them rather than be captured and brutally executed. But there are millions of people opposed to ISIS just within the region. So where are they – the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the Turks, the Egyptians, and all the rest? Why does it have to be our fight? That is point number three. Even Iran could come into play here, as an ally, given the danger that ISIS presents.
But we are involved – of course we are. Chuck Hagel said it best, saying that ISIS posted the biggest threat to our interests so far. He did not say to Americans or American tagets, he said our interests. That means our money, and that means our oil. But we don’t have to do this thing on our own or even with our troops, though I could see a tactical deployment of special ops snipers raising havoc among the ISIS leadership. Will ISIS win? That depends on the Iraqi and Syrian people, and the powers within the region. Will ISIS attack us on our soil? Always a possibility – but Americans must not allow misguided fear to dictate our actions, or, more specifically, our reactions.
Let our President grow a set and tell us what we must do, and how; let the world isolate and if necessary eliminate this fraction of a fraction of a fraction of horribly misguided human beings among its ranks. Conquerors often take the upper hand for a while, but it never lasts, and ISIS will get that point for themselves, or be impaled on it.
I was born in Holland in 1950. My parents immigrated to the US when I was two. I have many close friends and family on both continents. My wife Diane and I have been happily married since 1974. I have four children and one grandchild (two more are on the way). I love writing and sharing what I wrote most of all..