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I have a few minutes to kill, so I thought I would jot down a few random notes about what I have been doing lately.
I haven’t been working on Shadows and Stars as much as I ought. The wife and stepson are with me for awhile. Consequently, I am running more errands, going more places, and doing more chores than usual. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not complaining. I do manage to catch a few moments here and there to write, but not as much as I would like.
When I do write, I am making some progress. The toughest part of writing now is connecting all the myriad details so that there are zero to few plot holes.
I am finding out that the reason a lot of great writers write short works “in broad strokes” (as Nikolai Gogol says in Dead Souls) is so they do not have to connect them and wind up in the situation I now find myself. Unfortunately, I have a detailed way of viewing things. However, some people say this makes my works more enjoyable, easier to visualize, and more interesting.
I have been reading Kerouac’s Desolation Angels, when I get the chance. I believe this is a beautiful, underappreciated, spiritual work. It seems to be Kerouac metaphorically visualizing himself as a spiritual sage (though I don’t know that Kerouac would agree) that comes down off a mountaintop and into the hubbub and chaos of the world, which is radically different from the quiet mountaintop where he just spent two months. I am maybe a quarter of the way through, so I don’t know if Kerouac will do any proselytizing, but I doubt it. I have read On the Road, and Kerouac doesn’t seem the type to proselytize, even subtly. It may be more of a comment on the world as a whole. I am just at the point where he has come down from the mountain and is Seattle at a Burlesque show. So, I have a long way yet to go, just as Kerouac does in the novel.
In the car, I am listening to an audiobook version of Gogol’s Dead Souls. This is a wonderful, beautiful, humorous work. Read it as soon as you can. It speaks to basic facets found in the human soul and will probably touch everyone deeply in some manner.
Working late at night in an IHOP in Midland, Texas, May 2019 (photo by Francene Kilgore-Slattery)
For a week or more, I have been making some progress on Shadows and Stars bit by bit, a sentence or word at a time. In the background, because my place is so solitary and quiet, I have been running re-runs of House in the background (I have the series on DVD). I am on disc four of season six currently on the episode entitled “Private Lives”. In one scene early on, Taub and the others go to House’s office to give him an update on the patient and, of course, to seek his counsel. House is sitting in a chair reading when they enter. If you look closely, you will see the book is The Golden Bowl by Henry James. I looked up The Golden Bowl on Wikipedia, which has a nice article. I am puzzled as to why House is reading that. Maybe Hugh Laurie is reminding the audience with a subtle poke that he is English. I checked his bio on Wikipedia and he doesn’t seem to have any personal connection with the book, like being in a movie or play about it. Though he wrote a popular book (The Gun Seller), he doesn’t seem to have any other affinity or association with literature. Maybe it’s just a favorite book or maybe its story line (about marriage and adultery) relate to the story somehow. Oh, well, it just has my curiosity. Its appearance seems sort of out of place. It may have some subtle meaning or is perhaps an Easter Egg of some sort. I will have to pay attention as I play this episode.
On another note, I think I have hit upon an idea as to how to fill the last major gap in the story line for Shadows and Stars. Of course, I won’t reveal it here. It’s just a rough idea at this point. However, it should be very interesting.
Just now, I finished adding Amazon’s new service, X-Ray, to my short story collection Diabolical: Three Tales of Jack Thurston and Revenge. X-Ray inserts links into a Amazon Kindle text which lead either to a Wikipedia article or to comments by the author on a character or term in the text. It’s easy to use. I like it, because in a work like Diabolical, there are many obscure terms which may need clarification to some readers. I feel this will help the reader enjoy the work more, because he/she will not need to run to a dictionary, encyclopedia, or to a search engine to find out the background on a character or term, especially if they are historical. For example, in these tales I use the names of several demons which are cited in historical works. Probably very few people would recognize the names of these demons (such as Azazel or Belial) and would need to do at least a little research to find out their significance.
This also helps with marketing my other works in which some of these characters may be mentioned. In my own comments on a character or term, I can mention in what other works that character appear and how to find and purchase those works.
Yesterday, I added X-Ray to my short story collection The Scent and Other Stories. Go to amazon.com/author/philslattery to learn more about each book and to purchase one or both.
On Thursday the 5th, I made use of a new Kindle author’s feature called X-Ray. X-Ray links characters and terms in an author’s work to either links (written by the author) or to Wikipedia Articles about the character/term. It is very easy to use. An author goes to his/her KDP page for the work and selects a button to enable X-Ray. After a short time of a half-hour or longer, when the author comes back to that KDP book, a drop-down menu of characters and terms from the work are displayed. The author goes through each and decides whether to include that character/term among the links, choosing a radio button for his/her choice. He/she can then either write a short description of the character/term or select a Wikipedia article on it. After all characters and terms have been reviewed, the author can publish the ones chosen. Then, after about a half-hour or so, links will appear in the Kindle ebook, which a reader can click and which will take him/her to the author’s or the Wikipedia article.
I think this is a neat service to provide to readers. It is also something an author can advertise about his/her works, which may give an advantage over non-X-Ray-enabled works in the marketplace. Simply writing an article about it, as I have done here, will garner a little more publicity for the author.
I tested this on The Scent and Other Stories tonight. Get an e-copy when you can and check it out. You can purchase a copy from Amazon at anytime or you can wait until Christmas Eve, which, if I recall correctly, is the next time that The Scent and Other Stories is offered free.
If you are a Kindle author, be certain to check out this new feature.
I will be doing this for my other works as time permits.
If you have followed my website, you know that I usually post a short horror story from the nineteenth or early twentieth century on Saturday nights. I call it “The Saturday Night Special”. I have accumulated somewhere around 36+ stories, all of which are in the public domain. I have decided to collect these into a volume and publish them on Kindle. I have not decided what the title will be. It’s probably going to be Slattery’s Classic Tales of Horror or something similar. Until last night, I had only two stories and no front or back matter or even a basic framework. Last night, while watching Netflix with the family, I started going back into my posts and putting them in the new collection, arranging them in chronological order. I wrote a draft title in Algerian font and a preface (Times New Roman like the rest of the text). I picked a quotation from Shakespeare for the quotation page :”What’s past is prologue.” I now have fourteen stories and poems from the likes of Edgar Allan Poe (naturally), Algernon Blackwood, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Louisa May Alcott (yes, the author of Little Women did write at least one ghost story), M.R. James, Wilkie Collins, and several others. If a story has some notes that I published with the story originally, I am including them. I will probably include a photo or drawing of the author with each story, as I did originally.
Having the stories arranged chronologically will be good so that the reader can see the progression of horror over the decades. You will be able to see how writing styles developed on a nationwide level as well as the development of the English language and the American dialect.
I have no completion date set, but if I can continue as I did last night (and taking into the account that I have to work a day job), I may be finished in a month or two.