Locus Solus

Our latest sanctum sanctorum is new only to us. Formerly a Henry Ford lumber mill, the facility is new the Michigan Tech Forestry Campus, and houses here date to 1938. Several houses are for rent by night, week or longer. There are 17 full-time residents, including kids and it is a serene, idyllic place. Henry Ford’s vehicles had a lot of wood in them, even in frames etc (not just external wood for the Woodies). There was a second mill north of her in Pequaming, and a third, I think, in Big Bay, north of Marquette. The junior class of forestry students will not arrive until August. Until then, we expect continued virtual solitude. After five years in less than 280-sq-feet, this 1,400-sq-ft abode seems comparatively palatial. The dog sleeps in various rooms, just to prove he can. And so many windows and so much LIGHT. Lonnie has a little upstairs studio with northeast light  flooding in.  Much of the glass in the windows is original from 1938, and has a visible rippled effect under certain light conditions. Work continues. Today we mailed page proofs of Lute Bapcat’s second book back to the publisher. The tile is MOUNTAINS OF THE MISBEGOTTEN. Normally we move pages and the like electronically, but I have had woes with Adobe for more than a year, did not feel confident with the electronic editing set up so sent actual pages – the old fashioned way. I can’t proof pages on line, have to print them off and read them like a book. How anyone can truly read on a screen truly escapes me. As in Deer Park, we get mail here weekly, for which we pay the US Postal Service $17, a week for six months. We like the once weekly delivery and as long as we have the bills square, it’s not a problem. Also, there’s a Christmas feel to getting a box or big envelope of mail all at once. With MOUNTAINS now “put to bed” (for my part), the next project up is the next short story collection, which will issue next spring under the title HARDER GROUND, 28-30 more stories, all original, each with a female protagonist. I didn’t plan it this way, just worked out that way, which is fine. A third collection is being assembled slowly, working title of UNCHARTED EDGES, looking at people caught in some strange and challenging situations and territory. The tenth Grady Service story is called BUCKULAR DYSTROPHY, and should be out in the fall of 2015. I’m about halfway done with it.  The title reflects an odd condition that afflicts hunters, who greedily go after big antlers or lots of antlers with no regard for the law. The book takes place mostly during the two-week firearm deer season, and looks at some extreme cases. When I first started the Woods Cop series with ICE HUNTER, I gave my then agent the synopsis of a dozen books and plots. Nine books in I haven’t hit half of those, ergo I expect at least 12 books in the series, perhaps more, but time and reality will tell. I wrote that memo fourteen years ago, had no idea the books would persist so well. Writers seldom talk about reading, which is actually an important part of our creative process. It is a rare person who becomes an author without a serious reading habit and almost all of us acquired said habit at public libraries. Our parents were readers. There were lots of books in the house, and our parents took us to the library. Simple formula for producing readers I think. I don’t remember ever reading any “kids books,” always found them foolish and insipid with nice pictures. I started with print only, like Robinson Crusoe and went from there. (Actully I preferred looking at breasts in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, but that’s another story, and not a unique one.) I read more widely now in the book world than at any time in my life. In my professional years I was focused on news, papers, mags, scientific journals, etc, now it is more books than anything else and I read what I’d estimate to be 70:30 nonfiction over fiction. My list is eclectic, which fits my taste. If I have the slightest curiosity in a subject, or interest in the author, I’ll read it. And once I find an author I like, I’ll go back and read all of his or her works. For some things, like one future book in my mind,  I have a shelf of very specific world war I stuff to help background me and I will be plowing through all that as the summer goes on, and creating a notebook as I go. Pretty standard method of operation. Not sure if I got this in previous blogs, but sometime within the next 18 months Globe Pequot Lyons will publish my backlist, meaning TAXI DANCER, THE BERKUT, and THE DOMINO CONSPIRACY. At that point my ouvre (a fancy and pretentious  word for one’s  career ‘artistic”  output) will all be in print with one publisher, at least for a brief time. Not bad after going on 30 years in this  very odd, yet very fun game. Thanks to Globe Pequot-Lyons for their belief in me and my work. A breath of fresh air in these times. Promotion wise, no much in the works. Tuesday, June 17 I’ll do a live radio interview with Lissa Radke and Eric Schubring, on their program “Big Sea, Shining Water.” The program is broadcast on WOJB community radio on 88.9 FM out of Ashland, Wisconsin. Time is 0825 Wisconsin time and 0925 Michigan time. My only scheduled  face-to-face signing is at  at Snowbound Books in September to kick off the new Lute Bapcat story, but we haven’t yet settled on the date,  which will be contingent on actual pub date. Have to confess I’m not into a solid writing sked yet, but it seems like the early morning shift is raising its ugly head, which means up around 0330 or 0400 and write until 7 or 8. Basically this means we go to bed with the birds and I wake up when they start the morning serenade, a nice natural balance. Working mornings give us and me time to explore and to fish for brook trout. The border collie genes in Shaksper make him very demanding of regular exercise and since we don’t want more porky encounters, he’s bound to a leash for now.. He turned two in January and we have formed a nice compact pack. He is a hairy but content and alert (albeit  extremely hirsute) companion. We have a lake wherein the DNR planted a month or so ago,  50 brook trout with an average size of 20.4 inches. I am trying like hell to figure a way to keep all other fishermen away from such giants, not so I can keep them, but so that I can catch and name each one so it can eventually go to Heaven and St. Pisces with a name of its own. This is a selfless act, but others need to stand clear until the work is done. I drafted a long poem last night, and concluded it this morning under the preponderous title of  “Alexandrines Spawned by the Work of the Dandy French Fop Raymond Roussel, Himself a Rotting Fish in the Bouquet of  Fresh Flowers Wafting in Air, And How I Propose to God to make Amends to St. Pisces in the Name of Saint Fair Play, By Performing A Truly Selfless Act.”  Naturally I Can’t post such a work  until St. Pisces gives me a decision on the proposal. Dat’s pretty much Da Report from Da Yoop for now, youses. Dis  Post includes more photos from recent explorations. Later, be well. Over.

Fish car of our Dreams
Fish car of our Dreams
How the mill looked today, May 27th, 2014
How the mill looked today, May 27th, 2014
Henry Ford's Mill, 1937.
Henry Ford’s Mill, 1937.

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Ever see bird's eye maple up close? Three shots give you an idea of what it looks like raw. Very beautiful stuff.
Ever see bird’s eye maple up close? Three shots give you an idea of what it looks like raw. Very beautiful stuff.