Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Fracking War draft Ver. 1.0 is officially completed - wine please!

SACRAMENTO, Calif. USA - The first draft of The Fracking War is officially completed as of 5:31 p.m. Pacific Time. I tuned up the last two chapters this afternoon and had a character give a rousing speech that brought tears to eyes of the people in his audience.

I will break the tape with a wine glass
In the other chapter I had to tie up a loose end with a particularly gruesome scene.  I had to do it. The characters insisted.

We'll see what the beta readers think about that.

All I can think at the moment is Jesus H. Christ it was haul to get to this point!

In November when I started writing, the 100,000 or so words looked as formidable as a hike across the entire nation of Canada - in midwinter. Then sometime around Christmas I could see the words and scenes piling up, a story taking shape. Progress!

A few characters fell by the wayside as the months went by. There were plenty of incidents of problems with hydrofracking and the corruption of public officials finding their way onto my pages in the chapters. My characters were - I suppose I should say are - busy every second.

All along I was nourished by daily headlines and near continuous Facebook postings from various amigos about things going on with hydrofracking.

The real world of hydrofracking is a damned scary place.
Whose body is in the swamp?

The draft completed today will have one more piece added - an epilog.

I started to write the epilog two days ago, then realized that it would be better to write it after I do my first edit on the book. There are things from early on that will likely deserve mention.

There was a body found in the swamp I think that needs identification.

And the guy who drank the fracking fluid from the plastic water bottle? Not sure if I need to explain more about his ongoing woes from have a highly flammable ethylene-filled bladder.

And you thought it was a great trick in the film Gasland when the guy lights the water from his tap on fire.

That was nothing.

Josh Fox from Gasland ignites the gas in the tap water

Monday, March 25, 2013

The happiest - and saddest - day for the novel writer

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Until today, I have always had trouble understanding why some novels go on and on and on, long after most readers are ready for, well, The End.

When I started drafting The Fracking War in November, I thought I would never see The End.

But as I am tinkering with the final chapters (and likely an epilog), I can see why a novelist might want to simply keep writing.

All of these characters, scenarios, adventures, love triangles, disasters and triumphs that have been such a huge part of the writer's life for months come to a crashing end.

It reminds me of reading a really good novel. You know the kind, you want to book to just go on and on. The same thing happens to me with movies. Now that I am about to bid adieu to the 20 or so main folks in The Fracking War, it's like sailing away, leaving old friends at the dock.

I took a first run at the final two chapters today, and both need significant tinkering to make them as close to perfect as possible. In other chapters, well, it was clear that any questions or oddities could be simply handled down the line. Need to resolve an issue? Add that to the chapter notes for Thursday.

Now it all has to be tied up - as neatly as anything in real life is tied up. Perhaps it needs to be tied up even more neatly. The fate of  characters can't be left dangling.

The next time one of these blogs is written, I hope to say that the draft of The Fracking War is completed and will be facing an author edit.

If I don't, it's because I just couldn't say goodbye.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A frightening ride as I write the conclusion to The Fracking War

SACRAMENTO, Calif. USA - It could be because I am sitting back in the USA and no longer writing listening to the gentle waves lapping on a Mexican beach.

But the characters and the action in the closing weeks, days, hours and minutes of The Fracking War are ramping things up and harder to control than ever.

 The previous rhythm and cadence has gone herky-jerky and feels like driving a big rig on icy roads through the mountains.

Hmm... there are lots of mountains where much of the action in The Fracking War takes place. And there are lots of big rig trucks. And there is ice.


The book is still on track to be completed by the end of next week, God-willing and the fracking fluid doesn't rise too high.

Happy ending or sad?

Why ask me?

I'll let you know in about a week when the characters get done.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Vicodin, Mountain Dew and fracking wastewater - what a combination

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - What evil lurks in hydrofracking fluids?

A vicodin with that drink?
In the fifth (and hopefully final) section of The Fracking War, it all comes together in a melange of toxic waste water, some Mountain Dew and a handful of vicodin, that overprescribed painkiller that half of America has in medicine chests.

Getting back into the writing saddle was hard today, after five days of not tapping out a single word on the book. Still, because the fourth segment had concluded, picking it up seems to have worked. It did require adding a new character, one headed for infamy, though he doesn't know it yet.

He's sucked down too many vicodin tablets, washing them down with endless cans of cold Mountain Dew.

And he drives a hydrofracking waste-water truck. A big one. A filled one.

Hydrofracking waste-water truck loading up

The self-imposed deadline remains, 12 days from right now. At one chapter a day, we'll see how things progress.

Maybe I need some of that Mountain Dew to get production going. Forget the vicodin, it gives me a stomach ache.

Crap... I might need to speed up slightly. I am pretty sure I will need at least 15 chapters to wrap things up, plus an epilog to say what happened to that dog I introduced 60,000 words ago.

In the meantime, in the real world of hydrofracking, more and more people are taking to the streets to fight. My fictional predictions about a war might be closer to reality than I previously thought.

Back to the next chapter in The Fracking War.

Hydrofracking waste water in a 'pond' - ready for shipping to a river near you

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Fracking War's final battles - banda music and finishing Section V

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - The Mexican work crew outside my window is blaring banda music (mixed with occasional techno crap) loud enough that I am considering breaking with all Mexican protocols and telling them to, well, SHUT UP!

An hour ago I finished the last chapter of the fourth of five sections of The Fracking War, which was infinitely satisfying on one level, and a dreaded moment on another.

Satisfying to finish because so far the book holds together just fine. Unsatisfying because now all the various characters, situations, dramas and themes are all crowding together like characters from a Charles Dickens' novel, racing towards the final chapter.

Dickens used to keep careful track of every character and by the end of each of his novels, the fate of that character would be accounted for. Some critics say he once added a chapter just to account for a dog who appeared briefly at the beginning of a book.

I only have one dog in The Fracking War, a female Labrador who I will not forget.

The last section of The Fracking War will get sketched out in the next couple of days here, in the relative quiet of my condo. The actual writing will (Dios lo permite) in Sacramento.

And the next segment takes me to the Bronx. I am not kidding, I just write what the characters tell me.

Oops, back to the drafting/redrafting. The music just stopped and the only sound is the ocean.


Cross Bronx Expressway

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The end is in sight for The Fracking War ... maybe

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - Five more chapters remain to be written in the fourth segment of The Fracking War.

EPA says this is ok to drink
Time is moving fast now, as the different threads in the narrative - political corruption, pollution, poisonings, health problems, personal betrayals, death of innocent people and even a little romance - are simultaneously unraveling and yet being tied up together.

A fifth section of 10-15 chapters will be written when I am back in California.

Most of the action in the book takes place on the New York-Pennsylvania border where hydrofracking in the arguably real world is close to igniting a shooting war between opponents of this dirty technology and the gasbags who want it - mostly to line their pockets. The gasbags couldn't care less about pollution and the deaths of innocents. Or the destruction of the environment. They almost seem to want it.


In this regard, The Fracking War is having trouble keeping up with the ongoing real war in NY.

Weeks ago, I wrote that the characters in the book were seesawing between a happy or tragic ending. The seesaw is still in motion, though perhaps a roulette wheel would be a better image.

Perhaps both will be intertwined in one big bang of a finish.

Hmm... a big bang... Now there's a thought.

The Fracking War may end with an even bigger bang