Journal Entry #7

December 5, 2007

Finished the novel yesterday and sent it off. I've been working on it since February. Had to extend the deadline by a month, and even then barely made it. Seriously limping at the finish. It has been, over the last few months, the most time-consuming, and exhausting, thing I've done since my years as an English teacher and theater coach.

I thought I'd finished it the day before. Sent it to Ace, went to a celebratory dinner, and realized I'd blown the end of the book. Came home, converted the epilogue into the final chapter, and wrote a new epilogue. Still can't believe, after all those months, I never saw what those last moments should have been.

The book's title, by the way, will be The Devil's Eye. I'd also considered an alternate: Thunderbolt. It will be the fourth Alex Benedict novel.

Will now settle in, just relax, and do some reading. I have several new — and as yet unpublished — Mike Resnick stories, which I plan to look at today. Also on my schedule: It Seemed Like a Good Idea, edited by Wm R. Forstchen & Bill Fawcett. It's "A compendium of great historical fiascoes." I like fiascoes. I think I'm living through one at the moment. Also: Julie Czerneda's Regeneration. Julie's a close friend, and I've learned to trust her work, which is always a rousing ride.

I also have The Complete Boucher, from NESFA Press. Bought it four or five years ago and have never found time to open it. When I was about 15, I submitted my first story to F&SF. I got a written note back from Anthony Boucher, then the editor, telling me why he couldn't buy the story. At the time, I had no idea that a personal response was a major breakthrough. (I think it was. Maybe editors routinely did that in 1950?) Anyhow, I never submitted another story to anybody for thirty years. I think there's a lesson to be learned there somewhere.

Also, I'll be dipping into Futures from Nature, which is carrying my own short-short, "The Candidate." And finally, a book I've been planning to read since Navy days, the Modern Library collection of six plays by Kaufman & Hart. It includes one that has one of the all-time memorable titles: George Washington Slept Here.

On the recommendation of a friend, we went to see "Lions for Lambs," despite a barrage of negative reviews. My reaction: Maybe the reviewers thought there weren't enough car chases. It's a compelling film.

Read The Maltese Falcon in preparation for a group discussion this Saturday at the St Simons Island Library. Couldn't read it without hearing Bogart's voice.

I'll be doing a program myself at the Brunswick Library Monday evening on Cauldron. I've never been comfortable with writers who come in and talk exclusively about their latest book, or about themselves. Not sure which direction this one will go, but I'm sure it'll get into the sheer size of things. E.g., 30,000 light-years to the galactic core. That almost sounds like a measurable distance until you start thinking about it. The radio transmission that arrives in the prologue, from "only" 1/3 that distance, comes from people dead long before anybody was building pyramids. If you're traveling out there, take a good book.

And, finally, it's time to start thinking about the next novel. I'd like to get away from starships for a bit. Maybe a global warming adventure, set during a 48-hour period in which a sizable chunk of the South Pole threatens to break off into the ocean. Or a different kind of time travel book, in which Uncle Henry wanders through the ages, showing up at auspicious moments to hand an envelope to President Lincoln on the train to Gettysburg, or to save Churchill from getting run down in New York in the 1920's. Meantime, he's got the car keys in his pocket.

— Jack

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