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One Small Step For . . .

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in **missing** diary entries from Kafka’s real diary. He either did not fill in these days himself, or he destroyed them. It is estimated Kafka destroyed 70% – 80% of everything he wrote

March 1917

               A trail of wet footprints across one of the court yards. Tiny footprints. A child’s. Perhaps a woman’s. Starting and stopping as if out of nothing and into nowhere. She must have walked through a puddle, or some melting snow. This little waltz by an invisible dancer. I held out my arms, a partner at last.

History As It’s Known In The Writing World

While reading some literary site about Amazon,, I came across the fact that “Harriet Klausner, an esteemed Amazon reviewer who wrote more than 31,000 book reviews, died”. All power to her – that is quite a feat. However, I took more note of her last name, one I had not thought of for a long time.

In my tenure as an author in the world, I have had four or five agents. And I am currently looking anew. At the far beginning of my time, before I was published, I had the New York agent Bertha Klausner – at the start of my career and near the end of hers. She started her agency before I was born and was working two months before she died in 1998 at the age of 96.

Back in those over the transom days, one stuffed typed pages into an envelope, sent them off with return postage on another envelope, and waited up to three months for a reply. And when it came back, you sent it out again. One of my envelopes went to the Bertha Klausner Agency.

However, when it came back, it had other people’s manuscripts in it, and (to my memory)  little handwritten notes politely saying no. Mistakes happen even at revered agencies, so I sent it all back explaining what had happened. She replied, with neither apology or thanks, annoyed that mistakes do happen and adding, “Say, you must have something. Do you want to send it to me?” Which I did.

As I said, communications were through slow mails (slow on her side, as with literary agents to this day).  I assume she was initially, both being polite though seeing some promise in what I wrote.

But after a year or so she said – in effect – ‘thanks but no thanks’, and I sent things to other agents and eventually sold my first novel by, indeed, sending it directly to an editor in New York over the transom,.

I don’t think I knew that Bertha Klausner had such a stellar career until I looked her up. An agent for decades, she had famous names like Upton Sinclair, Israel J Singer, Eleanor Roosevelt and Fidel Castro. She even represented actor Basil Rathbone.

I imagine I would have become a lost tale.

Dale Estey

Never Say Never With A FINAL Novel Edit

What it is now:

THERE WAS A TIME, OH PILGRIM, WHEN THE STONES WERE NOT SO SMOOTH

                                   THE END

                                    26 03 2022


566pp     165,669 words

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What is was earlier this year:

THERE WAS A TIME, OH PILGRIM, WHEN THE STONES WERE NOT SO SMOOTH

                                              THE END

                                                 07 01 2022

595 pp.     174,838 words

A Novel That Took Five Years To Write

THERE WAS A TIME, OH PILGRIM, WHEN THE STONES WERE NOT SO SMOOTH

                                   THE END

                                 07 01 2022

595 pp. 174,838 words

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Killing All My Pretty Darlings As The Edit Gathers Steam

I am ripping my five-year-in-the-making novel apart in the edit. I do so love editing. Dialogue, descriptions, witty comments, all get turfed with abandon. They were great fun to write, but they don’t fit the novel now.

Don’t stop me before I kill again. **Mad Cackle**

The following is a brief example of what gets tossed asunder. My characters are visiting a Police Museum.

They leave the first room, cross the hall, and enter the second. Whereas most of the exhibits in the other room dealt with criminals and their crimes, here the displays concentrated on the police force and policing itself.

In the first room there did not seem to be a definite pattern to the displays. Here, things are set out in chronological order. There is some overlap, so not all are exact decade by decade. But most of the display segments do not stray by more than ten years, and are not forced into uniform-sized display footage.

“Which direction do you want to go?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“I’m more interested in the contemporary things.” Amanda points. “Except for that.”

“The Paddy Wagon?”

“Yes. Let’s go see it. Maybe we can get inside.”

“Maybe we’ll get arrested if we get inside.”

“Maybe they’ll take us away.”

“Then we will miss the ship.”

The paddy Wagon is a black box of a vehicle, large and hefty-looking. It is in the middle of the room, so visitors can walk around it. When they approach, they see it is on a raised platform, and each wheel rests on a metal plate.

“That looks to be the real deal,” says Amanda.

“That it does.” Alison Alexandra looks at the license plate. “It was on the streets in 1948.”

“Do you think it has been restored?”

“Well, I’m guessing it was solidly built at the time.” Alison Alexandra gives the back doors a thwack. “After all, it was a mobile prison.”

“Full of miscreants,” says Amanda.

“Yes. And no doubt rowdy.”

“If we get locked in, do you think we’d be rowdy?”

“Goes with the territory.”

“We could sing.”

“Sing and catcall,” says Alison Alexandra.

“You could do one.” Says Amanda, “And I could do the other.”

“Mix it up.”

“yes.”

“That would confuse the coppers.”

“They’d beat their nightsticks on the walls,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Maybe they would beat rhythm to our singing,” says Amanda.

“We could break out in “They call the wind Maria’.”

“’The Black Maria’,” says Amanda.

“I see you understand two part harmony.”

“And if I don’t,” says Amanda, “You could beat out a few bars.”

“That’s criminal.”

“So’s my singing,” says Amanda.

Unbeknownst to them, as they have been chatting, and peering into the windows of the vehicle, a door opened near the display of uniforms on manikins. A stout yet still powerfully-built man steps though. He stands amidst the manikins for a minute, realizing that he has not been heard. He decides he had better announce himself, before he frightens anyone.

“Now you two ladies are not going to be troublemakers, are you?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And here is the edit.

They cross the hall and enter the second room. Here the displays concentrate on the police force and policing itself.

In the first room there was no definite pattern to the displays. Here, things are set in chronological order.

“Which direction do you want to go?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“I’m more interested in contemporary things.” Amanda points. “Except for that.”

“The Paddy Wagon?”

“Yes. Let’s go see it. Maybe we can get inside.”

“Maybe we’ll get arrested if we get inside.”

“Maybe they’ll take us away.”

The Paddy Wagon is a black box of a vehicle, large and hefty. It is in the middle of the room, so visitors can walk around it. When they approach, they see it is on a raised platform, and each wheel rests on a metal plate.

“That looks to be the real deal,” says Amanda.

“It does.” Alison Alexandra looks at the license plate. “It was on the streets in 1948.”

“Do you think it has been restored?”

“I’m guessing it was solidly built at the time.” Alison Alexandra gives the back doors a thwack. “After all, it was a mobile prison.”

“Full of miscreants,” says Amanda.

“And no doubt rowdy.”

“If we get locked in, do you think we’ll be rowdy?”

“Goes with the territory.”

“We could sing.”

“Sing and catcall,” says Alison Alexandra.

“You could do one,”says Amanda, “I could do the other.”

“Mix it up.”

“Yes.”

“That would confuse the coppers.”

“They’d beat their nightsticks on the walls,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Maybe they would beat rhythm to our singing,” says Amanda.

“We could break out in “They call the wind Maria’.”

“’The Black Maria’,” says Amanda.

“I see you understand two part harmony.”

“And if I don’t,” says Amanda, “You could beat out a few bars.”

“That’s criminal.”

“So is my singing,” says Amanda.

 As they were chatting, and peering into the windows of the vehicle, a door opens near the display of uniforms on mannequins. A stout, yet still powerfully-built, man steps through. He stands amidst the mannequins for a minute, realizing he has not been heard. He decides to announce himself, before he frightens anyone.

“Now you two ladies are not going to be troublemakers, are you?”

Alison Alexandra Attends A Party. & Starts A Novel. & Now I Gotta Edit Five Tears Worth

192771-131-00e5aa76

Alison Alexandra had asked her partner, with far more innocence than the result entailed, when people were going to pair off and head for the bedrooms. It was such a lackluster gathering she figured it would take quite a jolt to generate any interest.

And, she had asked her partner. It wasn’t as if she was angling for a tryst.

But, out of the blue – and out of other people’s boredom? – within twenty minutes or so, she had a woman sidle up to her. Drink in hand. Held at a professional tilt, though there was no raised pinky finger. Voice low, though not as low as the woman thought.

“Are you the one who asked if we are going to start to go to bed?”

Alison Alexandra, used to fine drink since her university days away, knew the lady’s finely-tilted glass was but a prop and barely touched. The scent of whiskey came solely from the glass. As for the lady herself, butter would freeze in her mouth.

“Is it making the rounds?”

“Do you want to make the rounds?”

“That was not my intent – no.”

“Then I don’t know if you are successful or not.”  The glass touches teeth. “Your question is making the rounds with alacrity.”

Alison Alexandra likes the word “alacrity”. It sounds like its own action.

“Have there been any answers?”

“Not to me.” There is a fleeting melt of the ice that is not in her glass. “Not that I’ve asked.”

“Have you made a head count?”

“I have not pointed and gone ‘eeny meeny miny moe’ – no.” The woman leans closer to Alison Alexandra, her lips now a conspiratorial distance from an ear. “But I do keep a select few in my vision.”

“Has there been movement?”

“There has been – if not corralling – some sidling up beside, with a ‘nicker’ into an attentive ear.”

“Anything for a pair of knickers, perhaps?”

The woman straightens with enough speed to lose a few drops of her conversational whiskey. She looks at Alison Alexandra in surprise and appreciation. A translucent mask is peeled from her face. She is animated. Her eyes are expectant.

“You are new here.”

“You’re the observer.” Alison Alexandra smiles.

“But I never say what I really see.” The woman finally takes a real drink. “None of us do.”

“But you come up to me – with your observations.”

“In truth -”

The woman stops. She realizes how rarely she tells the truth. She is startled that she is about to do so. She is apprehensive.

“In truth, it is on a dare.”

“Someone has dared you to ask me?”

“Actually, a number of people have put money in a pot to see if this will happen.”

“To approach me?”

“Yes.”

“How much am I worth?”

The woman raises her glass and laughs. “A bottle of Scotch.”

“Good Scotch?”

“Not really.” The woman is apologetic, yet she laughs. “It’s not that caliber of party.”

Alison Alexandra can see a friendship in the offing. So much more important than a partner for the night.

She takes the glass from the unprotesting woman and has a drink.

“Better than this?”

“Not even as good as.”

“Then no one is going to get me out of my knickers.” This does not stop Alison Alexandra from taking another drink. She hands the glass back to the woman. “There. I’ve had my limit.”

“That surely won’t get you into bed.”

“I’ve been looking around.” Alison Alexandra looks slowly around again. “Not even a bottle will accomplish that.”

The woman looks at her glass. It is still nearly full. She takes a deep drink.

“I am not so pure.”

“Oh – purity has nothing to do with it.” Alison Alexandra does take a bit of care with her next sentence. “But I am very picky.”

(image)  https://cdn.britannica.com/300×500/71/192771-131-00E5AA76.jpg

The Horror The Horror, Though Compared To H P Lovecraft Ain’t Bad

The president of a high-toned literary agency did – alas – reject my query proposal.
It was for one of my two novel manuscripts concerning Satan, where my broad group of earthly individuals manage – mostly – to keep Satan at a standstill. No easy feat. No pleasant feat. No pretty feat.

However, in his rejection he brings up the name of H P Lovecraft (1890-1937) , one of the most revered horror writers of the last two centuries. This, of course, pleases me – I like to turn my hand to a bit of horror and evil.
And – quite frankly – what a wonderful name for an author . . . Lovecraft

But -still – it was a rejection, with the usual caveats that all decisions are “highly subjective”.


But – still – it is H P Lovecraft.


Perhaps the Devil doesn’t smile –  but I do.

DE BA, novel,manuscript,agent,submission,rejection,HP Lovecraft,horror,Evil,Satan,author,query, UEL

Kafka Lights His World On Fire

libo-quemandose1

 

My novel. Kafka In The Castle, fills in Kafka’s missing diary entries. This is how I imagine Kafka’s best friend, Max Brod, reacts to one of the many times Kafka burned his own manuscripts.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

19 April 1917

Max was horrified when I told him about last night.

“You burned your stories? Are you crazy?”

“I wrote them, so I must be.”

He smiled at that. Max’s anger can be easily deflected, for it is never deep. Max is a very good man, and cares for me more than I do myself.

“And the novel? The Amerika novel?”

I told him that many chapters of that must have been burned. Probably right from the start – they were no doubt the first things I grabbed from the chair.  “Anything else?”

“There were a couple of plays. I remember pages of dialogue.”

Max’s voice became hollow. He might no longer be angry, but neither was he happy. “I didn’t know you had written any plays. You have secrets even from me.”

“I keep secrets from myself. Don’t be offended.”

“What else?”

I could picture him writing down an inventory.

“Some diary entries – those were deliberate.”

“And was that the end of your pyromaniac obsession?”

“Of my own work – yes.”

He looked at me questioningly – he didn’t need another secret.

“There were a couple of bundles of letters from Felice. Neatly tied with string. They burned slowly. I have not had such warmth from her for a long time.”

 

[image] https://quelibroleer.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/libo-quemandose1.jpg

Rules For Writing + One Non-Rule Rule

34743456922_7b4deab196_b

1: Write regularly. Daily might be extreme, but try to be extreme.
2: When in doubt / take it out.
3: At the end of your writing day, do not complete the action/description/dialogue – but know what it is. Start with this known at your next writing time. 90% of the time you will slide right back into the work.

4: Eschew, Ignore and Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here, the notion that there are no rules. There are rules to everything. Artistic Creation demands rules.

5: Follow your characters.
6: Follow your characters.
7: Follow your characters.

 

(image) https:/c1.staticflickr.com/5/4252/34743456922_7b4deab196_b.jpg

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