Adventures in The World of Writing Vacations.

Okay. You may know that I’ve taken a month-long leave of absence from work to work on a sequel to Zook Country.  God, or somebody with that sort of extra-natural suasion, has decided to inject some levity into my life.  I don’t think it’s funny, but apparently my supervising deity finds hurricane strength storms and late summer monsoons just really hilarious.

The south wall of my house took two seasons for me to seal up to the point where water didn’t come through it when we had heavy rains during a serious blow.  But for the last five years, I’ve not had leaks during storms.  Until last week.  We’ve had water coming through the walls twice in just over a week, and Thursday night it rained inside our daylight basement.

And I wasn’t there.  I had decided, with permission of the management, to watch Resident Evil Retribution.  I went into the theater on the way home from an appointment I had made before the whole leave without pay thing had kicked up, but which had already stolen three hours from my writing day.  I walked into the theater at 4:40 pm, and the movie was just in time to be seated.  I missed a trailer or two, but caught the flick.  What can I say about the film?  It has exactly the same story content as the average single person shooter RPG from the 1990s.  I’ll probably watch the next one when it hits theaters, and be just as mystified as to why as I was on Thursday.

But then I got out of the theater, and my phone alarm went off to remind me that I had to be in choir practice. I called the manager, and my permission slip read “fine.”

Fine is a bad word in my house, just as it probably is in yours.  I asked, and found out that right after I got permission for the movie, the winds kicked up on the ongoing rainstorm and she’d had to buy and place about ten large Tupperware containers on the downstairs bookshelves and below the points of lowest leakage in the kitchen.  She caught gallons of water in the various containers, and soaked up an unknown amount more with most of our household bath-towels, and she was fairly out of sorts.  Nonetheless, when I said I’d skip choir and come home, she told me that she’d already done about all that could be done under the circumstances.

From almost every perspective, the Thursday episode was her story of abandonment and triumph over extreme weather.  Rain really has to be going sideways to get under the gable and drive through the logs.  I went to choir practice because I’m a coward, and because I really needed to give her a few more hours to let her irritation develop a head of steam. I’ve spent the last few days trying to find somebody who can patch up the leaks in the log wall, because this summer looks to work its way into a stormy fall.

So, that’s the most event filled part of my LWOP.  But I went on leave on the 12th, and had to work almost that entire  day.  I’ve had one friend whom I haven’t seen in thirty years decide to come visit (we went to the dump together, oh my), and I think I’m going to have another visit tomorrow.  The other I saw a mere ten years ago, but still…

In the last two weeks, we’ve had hurricane force winds, lost electricity for a day and a half, and had rain-water come through our back wall, twice.  Since I went on leave, I’ve been to the landfill with friends, and family, in a steady downpour and high wind to drop off a half a ton of collected junk. In the last week, I’ve heard from two friends I hadn’t seen in a decade or more, I’ve had two contractors come out to my house, see the flooding, and feel the soaked floor, then either pass on the job as beyond their abilities, or tell me that I’ll have to try to stay ahead of it myself until the freeze, and had one contractor return my call to apologize and say he was leaving state for a family emergency, but that if I’d line my back wall with plastic he’d take a look at when he got back to Alaska.  I’ve got a bunch of stuff to plug checks (cracks) in logs, but they’re so spongy from absorbed water that I can’t do anything myself until the walls dry naturally.

I’ve written maybe 3,000 words in nine days.  When I’m on-step, I can do that in a day, and still have time for chores.  Now I’m afraid to start writing, since it might be challenging the gods of chance, and cause a tree to fall on my house.

Finally, I got another proof copy of Zook Country today.  I was expecting ARCs this month, but I guess that is not to be.  Should I read the new proof copy, or just okay it?  Inquiring minds want to know

Awards

It snowed on my house all Friday night, and continued snowing in Anchorage until sometime after 7:00 pm last evening.  With 134.5″ as of yesterday evening, we’re now about two inches over the highest recorded snowfall for a single winter (1954-55, with 132.6″), although it only snowed as much as 7 inches twice all winter (we did have something like 32 days in a row with an inch or two every day).  It froze pretty solidly last night (Saturday, April 7th) and somebody left my son’s window open all night, so I just woke up to a very chili upstairs floor a few minutes ago.  The snow may not last long as temps should reach into the 40s today.  My son didn’t build a snowman yesterday, because the two of us lit out and visited Anchorage.

Zook Country has generated some outstanding reader reviews, and I hope that there are many more to come!  I’ve posted snippets of a couple on the Zook Country page at http://www.billswears.com/storytelling/, and Lida Quillen has posted a few reviews at http://twilighttimesbooks.com/ZookCountry_ch1.html#ZookCountry_rev.

The nature of the industry is that “literary reviewers” aren’t likely to review Zook Country spontaneously.  Jake’s voice is very much appropriate for the story told, and literary types discuss authorial and narrative voice all the time, but many of them just can’t see a uniquely voiced book as worthy of review until the author is dead or somehow pulls the J.K. Rowling trick.  It’s up to fans and reader reviews to get the book enough attention to merit attention on high visibility web-sites.

Jess Mannion at http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/303981335 gets the “I’m a fan of this reviewer” award for March.  She’s a displaced Alaskan who seems to be thriving in NYC, and I very much miss her and Uncle Sean.

“interesting Juxtaposting” award for March (not juxtaposition, I’m making up a word here).  I received an e-mail from a reviewer who refused to review the book because, among other comments “if someone shot another person they would not get up and be able to drive a car. Now if they were wearing a vest or something else the bullet would not kill them but still leave its mark. My husband and youngest son are in law enforcement. My husband is a deputy and son is a cop. I asked them about it.”  She sent me this on March 12th.  On March 16th, just as I was sinking into despair from that rejection, but otherwise unrelated, a recently retired long term Law Enforcement professional (with a son still in the police department) posted:  “I don’t usually read science fiction, but I really enjoyed Zook Country. It is fast paced, action packed and easy to read. Zook Country would make a great action movie. I am looking forward to a sequel.” Pat L.  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/reviews/Zook-Country%2FBill-Swears/1108892461.

Okay, I know the retired cop who posted the Barnes and Noble Review, but it’s a really interesting coincidence (well, we knew each other in prehistory, before common folk had the interwebs). Pat L may not know it, but he’s the person who recommended that I buy the CZ-75 that made it into the book.

If you’re looking for something to do for a few minutes, please visit the Amazon and Barnes and Noble sites, “like” the book, “like” any reviews that seem particularly useful.  For that matter, tell your friends, and their friends, to buy the book! 

I’m not desperate, I just read that way…