James Huskins's Blog
September 23, 2014
The crisp night air wafts through the open window on the first hour of Fall, and I turn to the stories that have simmered on the back burner of summer. Two stories, matter of fact. For the past few months, I’ve felt pulled in two directions as characters have vied to play on the page. I’ve listened, I’ve dreamed, and I’ve made notes – wondering which would lead me into their world. And, I think both have won – for now.
This season, I’m trying new methods of storytelling. I’ve always been a plotter - a big plotter - but this time around, I’m starting with the premise and a few plot-points and just pants-ing it from there. Why not? There are no rules in creative endeavors. Likewise, I’ve decided to work on two WIPs at the same time – generally one in the morning and one in the afternoon, but really whichever pulls me along each day.
Obviously, I’m working on book three of the Groovy Mysteries – about the Hollywood blacklist. More on that later. And then, there’s a standalone that’s been percolating in my mind for about five years that wants to be told. I didn’t set out to write two stories at the same time, but … when the characters won’t let you alone, you go with it.
You’re probably wondering about the second Groovy Mystery. It’s still happening, tho not on the schedule I had thought. With the loss of my editor, I am re-grouping and pressing on – life is momentum after all, and you have to keep moving forward. I have book covers and book trailers and an updated website in the works, along with preparing the story for publication. Understandably it’s an emotional time as well. But I hope to have Hot Ice out in the next few months. I’m sure Beth would approve.
And so tonight, I’ll leave the windows up and get out the handmade quilt old Miss Bodford spent a winter sewing and quilting for me when I was still in the single digits of age – and I’ll dream of midgets and post women and hippies and all the cool groovy things in my imaginary worlds.
Happy Fall – my most favorite season of all.
September 12, 2014
This is a very difficult post for me, and I’ve spent the past week trying to find appropriate words, but there are none.
My friend Beth Horton, a member of my writers group and the editor of my books, has passed away. After a health event last winter, she had been recovering at home – but in the past few weeks things turned for the worst. The world has lost a gifted writer and a champion of the written word. I shall miss her more than I can say.
May 10, 2014
The magical journey of life is never a straight line, but rather a twisting, turning series of events. Often, these events bring a song to mind - as it did this morning when I woke up.
The big news in my circle this week is that one of my critique partners had her self-published novel picked up by Thomas & Mercer and it will be re-released later this year. We are all thrilled for her! Our writers group was buzzing yesterday when the news broke. Personally, I’m just beside myself with joy and couldn’t support her decision more. While we both chose to self published some time ago, it is not an either–or choice for a writer. Being open to good opportunities is part of the twisting, turning path in life and writers can choose both paths simultaneously in this new era of publishing.
After group, a few of us were gabbing in the parking lot and an older gentleman that I respect said something that made my jaw drop. “Oh come on,” he says, “you’re not really an author until you’re published by a big publisher.” I wanted to scream! I think I may have done, I’m not sure.
You hear this a lot from more traditional thinking, and traditional leaning people – and I just don’t know how they can support this position. IF you are in Hawaii, it doesn’t matter if you got there by train, plane, ship or submarine (although train might be tricky). The point is, you are in Hawaii and that is all that matters. Your means of transport to get to the island does not diminish how lovely the island is, or the wonderful time you spend there. It’s the same with publishing. There are many ways to get a story from a writer to the reader, but the means of transport does not diminish the story or the wonderful time you spend in that fictional world. Writers write, and readers enjoy stories and everything else in between is nonessential.
This was all tumbling around in my head last night, and I awoke with haunting lyrics bubbling to the surface … railway, trailway, airplane, your mind — how does that go?
You can reach me by a caravan
Cross the desert like an Arab man
I don’t care how you get here
Just Get here if you can
I honestly don’t think that readers care how our stories reach them – just get here if you can.
(**Note: This was scheduled to post some time ago but for some reason, didn’t. I’ll have to look into that. I’m choosing to publish it now.)
Yup, that’s right, doodles. I just love that word. And, that’s what I’ve been doing. Doodling on pages that need more work as I edit Hot Ice. Doodling design ideas for covers of the series – I’ve come up with a theme and continuity that ties the covers together (more on that later). Doodling ideas for the plot of the next novel (more on that much later. but I’m getting excited about it). Doodling is a great way to dream up ideas and get your creativity flowing.
Edits are going very well. After the early learning curve doing all of this with Silent Scream, I’m trying to design a system for everything that comes after the writing so I have a logical sequence of steps from writing to publication. It’s very easy to “run around like a chicken with its head cut off” without that methodology, I think. At the same time, its very hard to make it into a formula when you’re a creative personality – we tend to follow impulses rather than structure. But I’m sure developing this will streamline the process, and lead to more books – which is the goal after all.
I’m really getting excited about the upcoming release! It’s a fun story – what else would I write – and I think you’ll enjoy it. Yancy and Jean have more mysteries than they can handle. Hold on, spring and a new groovy mystery is coming!
January 26, 2014
The End. Two little words a writer loves to type.
I’m happy to say I typed those words late Wednesday night, after a marathon day writing the last 24 pages of HOT ICE. Insane, I know – I’m pretty sure it’s a personal best. I wrote all day, and most of the night. You get a momentum going at the end and it’s all in your head and you just have to get the words down. I’d like to say I’ve spent the past few days savoring the moment, but in truth I’ve been busy putting my home, and my life, in order. Things get a little crazy and piled up towards the end of a novel.
This week I’ll sit down and give it a good read-thru – identifying areas that need work, threads that need tying up, etc. The work’s only half over when you finish a draft, after all. The next couple months will consist of rewrites, edits and what will seem like a billion read-throughs. I love this stage, tho.
The good news is that I’m well on track for the summer release. And after that? I’ve already jotted down ideas for the first act of book 3 :-) Yes, that’s a ways off but I like to be thinking ahead so I can do any tie-ins needed at the end of this one. Hoping you’re keeping warm this winter and that you’re curled up by the fire with a good book.
December 22, 2013
Hot Ice, the follow-up to my groovy mystery caper Silent Scream, is on track for release next summer. I’ve just begun writing the third act and should finish sometime this winter. After a busy spring of revisions, beta readers and edits, I’ll get with my illustrator – the fabulous Derrick Canyon of Cartoon Network fame – to design the cover images. Expect sneak peeks of the cover around Memorial weekend, or maybe before ;-) Shortly afterwards the release party will be announced, along with the date Hot Ice will be available for purchase.
In the meantime, here’s a short spoiler-free scene for your Christmas stockings. Yancy is chauffeuring beatnik costume designer Jean Sparks to the opening of a musical pageant. There they meet up with not-one-but-two midgets, Mildred and Cricket (you may remember Cricket from a cameo in Silent Scream) … and the rest is self-explanatory I think.
May the best of the holidays be with you, and your world sparkle with “love, light and illumination”.
Excerpt from Hot Ice
a Groovy Mystery Caper
coming Summer 2014
* * * * *
Twin cones of light swirled across the night sky as spotlights pivoted from either end of the theatre roof, beacons for attention to the musical pageant’s opening gala. A line awaiting admittance had already formed outside the box-office. It was the atmosphere of any opening in Hollywood, complete with the red carpet experience as officials with the production were admitted first.
Yancy pulled up behind a taxi, joining the queue of automobiles waiting to discharge their occupants. He used the wait time to slip into his coat and cap. “I won’t trust this car to valets, so you will have to go in alone. Do you mind?”
Jean swat the air with a backflip her hand. “No sweat, man. That’s Mildred and Cricket popping out of the cab now – I’ll hoof it with them.”
The taxi pulled away and Yancy took its place. Heads craned to see who was in the elegant car as he rushed around the Rolls and swept the rear door open. Taking Jean’s hand, he tugged her upright in one strong motion and paused while she attained her balance, and then whisked her forward. He moulded to attention, eyes straight ahead, while Jean smiled and gave an uncertain wave as applause that broke out. Most had no idea who they were applauding, but only a celebrity could make an entrance like that, and the crowd gave her a fitting welcome. Jean wavered before trotting to catch up with her friends, and the three disappeared inside.
Yancy reveled in the cloak of anonymity a servant enjoyed as he returned to his seat behind the wheel. People always saw the Rolls and its backseat occupants, but almost no one paid attention to the driver. If something did call attention to him, he was quickly dismissed as unimportant – and this afforded him a closeup view of the world without scrutiny by those he watched.
A wistful valet begrudgingly waved him toward a side lot and Yancy chose the far corner spot near the next street. Abandoning his cap, he crouched closer to the mirror and attempted to tame the whorls, raking his fingers swiftly as a makeshift comb. He peered at the results – it would have to do. He paused, struck again by the left-right question. In a mirror…. Growling at the duplexity of a simple question, he secured the automobile and then made use of a side entrance into the theatre. He found his friends where he expected – at the bar in the paneled lobby, drinks in hand.
“Catch up, Bingo-Dingo. We’re putting a hurt on Jean’s winnings tonight.” Cricket pointed to a frosty martini glass waiting for him on the bar.
Yancy averted his gaze from his diminutive friend’s attire – the frills and ruffles were no match for the provocative neckline of her dress. He reached for the cocktail and twisted the stem between his fingers, swirling the olives in the glass – it had been a long day. He took a sip. Dirty, just like he liked them. “This is ladies night I think, as I have to drive later. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying yourselves.”
“I wasn’t.” Cricket tipped her glass back and tickled out the last few drops with her tongue. She stood on tiptoe to see over the bar. “Another round and keep ‘em coming.”
“You might want to place yourself. Uh…pace yourself.” Mildred quivered with a girlish giggle. Effervescent flickers of pink rippled about her gown as she pulled herself up straight. “You know how you get atter too many.”
“Wild!” Cricket said in a squeal.
“Horny,” Jean muttered into her glass. Yancy shot a reproachful look, certain such talk referred only to how Cricket dressed. Jean reached for the frothy beverage the bartender sat in front of her and saluted him with the fresh drink.
Yancy suppressed a sigh as he envisioned the night unfolding – an orotund beatnik and two drunk midgets.
* * * * *
October 19, 2013
Check out the hubcaps
Bones was really tall.
"It's a nice day, for a white wedding..."
Mmm Mad Hatter
Random photos of the LIttle 5 Points Halloween Parade
Smaug in Little 5
It was a gloomy, drizzly Saturday – perfect for the Little 5 Points Halloween Parade! This was, by far, the coolest float I saw today. It reminded me of Smaug from The Hobbit, “a most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm”.
September 26, 2013
This morning over coffee, I decided to do a field trip to jump-start my imagination for the carnival scenes in my current work-in-progress. After rearranging my calendar, I jumped in the shower and headed out for the North Georgia State Fair. I opted for a bite at my fave seafood restaurant nearby, then followed the turn-by-turns on my new iPhone (lovely).
As I approached, traffic quickly came to a standstill and it was inch-by-inch for over an hour. I crawled past parking lot after parking lot but all entrances were closed. U-turning, I came back - noting cars were leaving but no one was being allowed in. I suppose the Loretta Lynn concert brought out all her fans - I certainly wanted to hear “You Aint Woman Enough To Take My Man” - but the venue simply wasn’t designed for that size crowd. People were parking (illegally) over a mile away and walking - not an option for me.
While I inched my way back in the direction of the interstate, I opened the windows and listened to Loretta singing a cappella - and then I was out of range. Another half hour, and I was speeding home.
So much for my outing. But I may try again tomorrow if I can arrive as they open.
August 4, 2013
Gee, today I could sure use an Anacin.
Unless you are at least middle-aged, you’ve probably never heard of it. But when I was growing up in the 60s, Anacin was the cure-all medicine "America turned to". That was part of their slogan used in TV ads. In fact, if you opened our medicine cabinet (located behind the mirror between the two fluorescent tubes above the sink), it was one of the few medicines my family kept stocked. It’s home was right there between the bottle of Merthiolate *ouch* we used on cuts, and the roll of Rolaids.
The packaging was a tin metal box with a hinged top, shown above. I couldn’t wait to play with the box after the adults finally used the dozen tablets that came in a tin — and that took a while as my parents rarely took anything. Their cure of choice was a good, hot meal and early to bed. My sister and I were given chewable baby aspirin until around age 15 — that was fine with me, I liked their taste. I still have an empty Anacin tin, on the collectibles shelf upstairs.
In book two of the Groovy Mystery Capers (that I’m currently writing), Yancy must keep his trusty tin of Anacin close at hand for the multitude of headaches he deals with. And it’s beginning to look like he may well use those dozen tablets long before this book ends. As may the author. :-/