The Rough Draft

If you can't go through it. Go around it.

On the way to Port Hope Simpson – Translab 2014

It’s been a sparse year for riding this year. Between looking after my son and my wife and daughter’s work schedules, I haven’t had much time to get out for a day’s riding let alone one of my usual three week binges of distance. I tried to plan a short trip earlier in the year but that fell apart quite spectacularly in no short order. Which sucked but isn’t really something to get that excited about. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that trips happen in their own time, for their own reasons.

I think if I get any rides in this year at all, they’re going to be short three day affairs and they’re going to be closer to the Fall, which means colder riding. Which doesn’t worry me other than grip issues on asphalt as the road temperature drops. I’ve got good gear and heated grips. The cold isn’t too hard to take.

It’s funny how the road gets in your head some days and you just don’t want to stop and then there are those days where it just beats the shit out of you and you wonder why you’re out there at all? All of which is tempered afterwards with the sense of accomplishment you have for just getting through that thing that sucked so hard.

Or maybe it’s those days of riding that are so long after a while you don’t know where you end and the bike begins (which is always a good cue to find a place to stop and rest).

So maybe no big rides this year but it doesn’t mean I can’t make some mods to the bike and break them in for the trip for next year….

It really is an affliction.

Safe riding.

Paris, Ontario that is.

I was gagging for a ride and Saturday had nice weather, sunny and not too hot. There was a big Vintage Bike gathering and swap meet in Paris, Ontario about an hour and a bit west of me. I like old bikes and you never know what you’ll come across. Vintage meets always make me wish I had a bigger garage, so it’s probably a good thing I don’t.

At the very least it was a good excuse to ride the Strom even if the majority of it was on highway. I’m constantly surprised by the different buildings you come across in Ontario. And as the signage for the Paris Fairgrounds pretty much sucks I did a couple of loops through town before just following gut (which found the fairgrounds pretty quick actually) but in my circling I got to see an impressive mansion that had been turned into a retirement home and a few other pretty large and in good condition turn of the century homes. As there is a large weir in the center of the river that runs through the town (disappointingly not called the Seine) it used to be a mill town. Wiki tells me it was Gypsum that was processed here… Hence the name from plaster of Paris.

Once I had made it to the fairgrounds and paid my $8 to get in I realized this was more swap meet than bike meet. And there were people selling from one side of the fairgrounds to the other. Right off the bat my resolve was tested.

A vintage and very nice Katana… Looks like the 750 to me. No engine but the race frame beside it was fully loaded. I walked away quickly before my heart defeated my brain. Though I know I’m probably not the guy for a four cylinder carbureted engine after being spoiled for so long with my FI V Twin. But I do so love the old Katanas…

Another coveted bike a Dakar BMW

This particular collector is all about the Nimbus a rather successful Danish bike. It has an inline four motor and is shaft driven. He owns two 1946 models on with a sidecar and this early model. I like the integrated gas tank frame. After WW2 the frame became made from flat bar because round tube was scarce, the gas tanks also became a separate unit.

A closer look at the motor and shaft drive.

I love the Speedo and how it’s driven from the shaft output.

And it’s a suicide shifter!

Also came across this 1972 KH400 (Mine was a later 1976 model) I checked the pipes and as expected they were damp with unburned fuel. Still a cool if not mad bike and nice to see it in metallic purple.

I didn’t stay long, it was kind of muggy and I wanted to get riding again but it’s always nice to stroll down memory lane and see some cool old bikes. I hope buddy sold the two Katanas… I don’t need that kind of temptation in my life…

As always, Devil’s Gambit my technothriller is available in print and Kindle version on Amazon and it’s still less than a cup of coffee..

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Sometime yesterday morning I passed 600 sales on my book Devil’s Gambit. I launched the book mid December of 2014 and while sales took a couple of months to build, by March things really took off. Every day I make any sales feels like a small miracle.

Recently I had was able to confirm that some story rights were available to me for an existing piece I’ve had out there making its rounds through Hollywood. One of the main characters in that book factors heavily in the sequel to Devil’s Gambit the upcoming Devil’s Ante. It was a tough call but I decided to work on this sort of prequel (it actually runs almost parallel to the events in Devil’s Gambit) prior to finishing Devil’s Ante for a couple of reasons. One I really like the story in Reliance and secondly, I really like character I’ll be introducing into the world. My goal with my books has always been to create a series of stories that revolve around a number of characters who come and go and have lives of their own.

Now the plan is to release, Reliance by the end of September and then Devil’s Ante by the first of December. Life’s ups and downs have pretty much nixed any possibility of another motorcycle travel book in the near future. The best I can hope for ride wise  is a research trip sometime in October to the National Museum of the United States Air Force who will hopefully have their new hanger built by then. BTW: If you are close to Wright Patterson and you love aircraft, you owe it to yourself to visit this fantastic museum.

I suffer from Vertigo. I have an attack about every two to three years or so. I can sort of feel the condition coming on and my standard cure is to lie still in a dark room for about three days. I’m lucky as that seems to work for me. However I know some people have the condition much worse than me.

The only way I can describe it is it’s like being drunk but you haven’t had any of the fun getting that way.

Next time I have an attack, I’m going to try this Doctor’s treatment.

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Details can be a killer when you’re a writer. There’s a fine line between giving enough info to make it interesting and move the plot along and just dumping a bunch of info on the page to show how much research you actually did. Then there’s the authors who put stuff down as fact when it’s just so far fetched you can’t suspend your disbelief.

I’m leaving out the Fantasy and other world type fiction here. Those are works which have their own rules, known to the writer and not always shared with the reader until needed. That’s a big job for anybody. No, I’m talking about writer’s who work in the real world of Thrillers, mysteries and police procedurals. One of the things I really like about Ben Aaronvitch’s Peter Grant series is, while Peter might be a Wizard in training for the, “Folly,” a little known division of the London Metropolitan Police Force, all of the police work is spot on (as are the rules for magic). If you haven’t checked out any of his books, you owe it to yourself to do so.

In the world of thrillers a good number of readers have extensive knowledge about a lot of what’s being written. So when a writer sort of glosses over the detail or pushes the boundaries of ability to cover a plot flaw, it’s really frustrating to read. Most of it could have been solved by some basic research. Not all research can or should be done on Google. My own research covers the usual written stuff (which also involves a lot of archive hunting). Interviewing people who are actually doing some of the things I cover in my books and when I can, getting hands on experience, which can be anything from learning to tie a certain type of knot to firing fully automatic weapons. How can you accurately describe firing a weapon if you’ve never done it?

One of my first go to research guys was involved in the more classified side of weapon systems. His favorite saying to me was, “That’s classified but physics is our friend.” Too many writers just discount physics entirely in their writing. Why? It’s another tool to make what’s on your page a richer experience for the reader. You should know that gravity is always in play especially when you’re dealing with guns and rifles. I just read a book where the main character makes a downhill headshot at extreme range by placing the crosshairs of his scope on the target’s forehead. Just the tiniest bit of research would have explained to the writer what those gradient lines in the scope’s view are for. Hell some of the Russian scopes even have a range funnel to aid in those extreme shots. There is no shortage of research material on any subject under the sun. How things work, why they were created in the first place and who makes them, all readily available. Heck last week I was doing research on light emitting panels and came across BAE’s Adaptive Camoflage, they can make a tank look like a Volvo on an IR scope, that’s nuts and terrifying but it does explain why the Volvo is sending 120mm HE rounds your way. I don’t have use for that in the next two books but you can bet I filed it under interesting tech to exploit later.

Characters and their work history are pretty critical as well. Knowing how long it takes to work your way up any particular ladder helps you form that character’s life, how driven they are or what things around them may have placed them in their particular position. You might have a very young Captain in the Army if he’s been in theater where there’s been a lot of attrition due to casualties but a police Captain is going to be in his mid to late forties at least just because of the nature of advancement. These might seem like minor details but it’s the minor stuff that gives the surface texture and that makes a story real to the reader.

Is it more work? Does it take a bit more time?

Sure but the end result is a better story and that’s something we should all aspire to.

 

You can find my thriller Devil’s Gambit on Amazon. It’s available in print and for Kindle.

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It’s no secret, I can be a bit thick sometimes. I’ve passed up on some great opportunities because I simply wasn’t listening to what was being said. Sometimes I can get a bit too focused on what I’m working on but then who doesn’t from time to time?

The new book, now called Devil’s Ante (and thanks to everybody who voted to help me make up my mind) has a character in there who has an interesting back story. I cover it in my optioned film script, Reliance. I’ve always wanted to include Max in another story as I really liked her as a character and felt she would do well in my Devil series. So I checked my writer’s contract and couldn’t find any legal reason in there I couldn’t add her to the book and so the story of what happened to Max after she escaped the events in the town of Reliance that long day  that the script covers (cue ominous or epic music).

But the events of the Reliance story ate at me a bit. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever written and I think it’s a pretty good yarn.

A County Sheriff who has lost the local election and is being run out of town on a rail by the family that owns everything and everyone lock, stock, and barrel. Decides on his last day to rob the town bank. Trouble is the bank gets robbed that same day and it ends up in a hostage situation. Now he has to rescue the hostages and still rob the bank. Of course the town’s patriarch wants his money protected and doesn’t care whose blood is spilled to keep it.

It’s a good pitch and a good script but as long as it’s in option I couldn’t do anything with it as far as writing the book goes or so I thought.

This last week has been very Max centric as far as chapters in the new book are going. It was finally time to let her off of her chain a little bit. Which of course put Reliance back in the front of my mind. So without giving it too much thought, I sent off an email to my producer asking if there was anything precluding me turning Reliance the script into Reliance the book. Because my producer is a good guy, he’d replied within the hour that he couldn’t see anything in the contract that said I couldn’t and more to the point, if there was something, he’d be willing to sign off on those rights so I could proceed. Like I said, he’s a good guy and those are really rare in film.

Now I’m splitting my days. During the day I work on Devil’s Ante and in the evenings I work on Reliance and I’ve got to say, rather than being tired, I’m pretty charged up. I’m looking forward to sharing Reliance with everybody.

As always, you can check out Devil’s Gambit, my first book on Amazon.

Initial Layout for Devil's Salary Cover - All images enclosed are the direct property of Sabot Productions Inc.

Initial Layout for Devil’s Salary Cover – All images enclosed are the direct property of Sabot Productions Inc.

Ok, I’m getting the feeling that while everybody likes the layout, they’re not digging the title and that’s cool. I’m used to title changes from the film world. Nothing I’ve ever written has ever had its title survive all the way to the end with the exception of one film and I’m not talking about that POS.

So a slight spoiler here in regards to the next book’s theme. The theme is escaping your past is hard with a sub theme of betrayal. So with that in mind I’m going to conduct a poll for possible other titles but please keep the theme in mind. At the very least, this’ll help me sharpen my focus on a new title.

Thanks for taking the time to contribute if you vote.

The first book Devil’s Gambit is available at Amazon and Createspace (if you prefer a print copy).

Initial Layout for Devil's Salary Cover - All images enclosed are the direct property of Sabot Productions Inc.

Initial Layout for Devil’s Salary Cover – All images enclosed are the direct property of Sabot Productions Inc.

This is the initial layout for the cover of the next book in the Devil series. What do you think? Does it have curb appeal? There’s some minor tweaking to be done on the main font but otherwise, I really like it. Comments are welcome.

The first book Devil’s Gambit is available at Amazon and Createspace (if you prefer a print copy).

Devil’s Salary will be released on Createspace and Amazon Kindle in the Fall.

Taken with my 7D using my Sigma 150-500mm f5.6-6.3 Zoom

I started using a telescope when I was about thirteen. My bedroom window had a great view of Mt. Baker which was just over fifty miles away. It also had a pretty good field of view for looking at the Moon and Planets, the Stars and if I was feeling a deep need to fiddle, the Sun.

Back then I was using a Meade Optical Telescope. My Dad had bought it at an auction I think and it had a great big wooden field case and pretty much every lens and filter I needed. I remember looking at Mars and seeing it’s ice caps. Later on I’d check out Saturn and Jupiter and of course our own Moon.

The light pollution here in the Greater Toronto Area is pretty bad. Add to that the high level of humidity and it makes any kind of star gazing problematic. My current telescope is a Celestron 114EQ it’s a 4 1/2″ Refractor with a 1000mm Focal length. My last telescope was a Newtonian design. For the few hundred dollars I paid for this scope, I’m satisfied, though I’m changing the spotter scope back to a more regular bore sighted unit. There’s too much light around me here to use the red dot sight effectively. In other words my eye’s aren’t good enough to use it.

The other night my wife called me out to the front of our condo to see Venus, which usually doesn’t make much of an appearance at that particular time of just after 8pm. I grabbed my telescope and set it up and after about ten minutes of faffing about I was able to get Venus in the view finder. About five minutes after that our cat decided to make a break for it out the front door, so that took a good twenty minutes to get him back inside and of course by the time I got back to the viewfinder, Venus had moved on. If you ever want a lesson in just how fast our world turns, get a telescope. I got back to faffing about with the scope to line up the small planet again but it was getting close to the horizon and I was losing it in the light trapped in the pollution layer.

Some of our new neighbors walked by and asked me what I was doing and we got to chatting. None of them had ever looked through a telescope. Seeing as Venus was out, I asked if they like to see the Moon instead. It’s a much bigger and easier target to hit with the current finder scope. They said, “Sure.” and I had the Moon in view five minutes later.

It’s funny but people are always a little blown away looking at the Moon close up for the first time. Like it somehow makes it more real. I mean I’ve been looking at it for thirty six years and I still think it’s pretty cool but I sometimes feel that for most people, the Moon is that constant thing we see out of the corner of our eye. We’re glad it’s there but otherwise we don’t give it much thought which might explain why nobody seems to be in any rush to go back there.

Still it felt cool to share something with some people who might not have ever had that experience. One day I dream of owning a home outside of the bright city where I’ll really be able to see the night sky. Of course, tha’ll require a much bigger telescope…

Off Road Gas Pump Harding, VT, Winter 2012

As I’ve mentioned before, I suffer from PTSD. I’ve had the condition for about twenty plus years now. For the most part I manage my condition with sleep and keeping a close eye on my own internal barometers but lately it’s been a bit harder than usual as I’ve been struck with bouts of insomnia and with my wife and daughter working seven days a week for the last few weeks, I’ve only been able to get out on my motorcycle once. Which is hard because it really does recharge my mental batteries.

With my particular brand of PTSD (because everybody’s mental illness is custom tailored to your own brain) sleep is critical. When I’m overly tired my emotions tend to, “Surf,” as I like to put it. They rise and fall like waves on a beach and there’s no real indication of which one is going to hit the sand at any given moment. It’s frustrating because I’m a logical person who can usually step back from something but when I’m in the grips of the condition, it all gets very dark at the edges.

The funny thing is I’m still productive in this state. Sure it takes me a little longer to get out of bed in the morning but when I sit down to write, I can focus on what needs to be done and work my way through it and sometimes when I’m deep into the writing I can enter that state where my symptoms don’t control me. Of course we’ll see how I feel about stuff when I get to the rewrite stage of things.

I guess what I’m trying to say is having a mental illness sucks on so many levels but you can adjust to the reality and still be productive. The trick is to be able to recognize when you’re being self destructive and to counter those thoughts and behaviours when they crop up. Naps help, a good night’s sleep helps more and not indulging yourself because you’re a bit down is a good way to keep off the actual treadmill and lastly, do not keep it to yourself. Tell your family how you feel. They can probably tell that you’re, “Off,” and are there to help. And if it’s really bad, go to a professional. I went the psychologist route because I don’t want drugs to fix my problem or at least numb it out. One on one sessions are pretty intense but in the long run you’ll feel better.

Okay, time for me to be productive.

Take some time to check out my books.

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