novel-in-progress, writing

A Word From Our Sponsor

We interrupt the normally scheduled post for a few moments of shameless self-promotion.

I am pleased to announce that a tentative release date for my new novel Deception Island has been set. The new work will be presented to the public on (or about) April 15, 2015. It will be the first release since the final volume of The Ni’il Trilogy, Ni’il: Waking Turtle was released in 2011. (I’m so proud.)

Now the real (as in the kind I don’t enjoy doing) work begins. Creating a marketing plan and accompanying budget. Creating and ordering promotional materials, writing copy. All of which isn’t much fun, but is absolutely necessary as a writer if writing, alone, is not enough and you’d actually like someone else to read your work. (More on this later.)

Also, since I spend much time and many words in this blog talking about writing and the art of creating fiction, I thought it was time to show the blogosphere that I seriously try to follow my own advice when I put words on paper. It only seems fair.

Therefore, I present you with Chapter One of Deception Island, my new novel:

*****

The memory was as clear and sharp as if it had only happened yesterday.

It was Labor Day weekend. Jason was twelve.

He and Jeremy sat in the captain’s chairs at the stern of his father’s boat, The Lady L, each of them gripping their rods as if expecting a salmon to jerk them overboard at any second. Their dad sat behind them, at the wheel, maneuvering around the other fishermen on the Sound and keeping the boat at good trolling speed.

The late summer sun was warm on Jason’s face and flashed in a zillion tiny jewels among the waves. The sky was cloudless. A light westerly breeze cooled the air just enough to make a sweatshirt comfortable. The air smelled of cedar from the nearby islands, sea salt, and diesel exhaust. The Lady L’s engine grumbled like a tiger purring.

It was heavenly.

“Hey Jason?” his dad called from his seat at the wheel.

Jason turned back toward his father. He thought the man would never look more relaxed, more at home, than sitting there in faded jeans and a flannel shirt, his feet shoved into rubber boots, one hand comfortably minding the boat’s wheel, while watching his sons work their rods. This was where his father was meant to be, not in a shirt and tie in some office above the cannery floor.

“Yeah?” Jason asked.

His dad nodded toward something off the stern on the starboard quarter. “See that twenty-foot Bayliner a hundred-fifty yards out?”

Jason quickly spotted the boat his dad was talking about. It was a big, open cockpit number with only a windscreen as protection from the elements; what his dad called a “fair weather” boat. A figure straightened up with a fishing rod and cast his bait out over the stern. His yellow plaid shirt looked unnaturally bright against the white of the boat.

“I see it,” Jason said.

“What’s he doing wrong?”

It was a test.

Jason glanced to his brother for help, but Jeremy, four years older and a veteran of many such tests, had suddenly grown gravely concerned about the action of his reel.

Jason was on his own.

What was the guy doing wrong? Jason bought a little time by reeling in some line while he scrambled for an answer. For the correct answer. He knew his dad was looking for one in particular. But what was it?

“It ain’t that hard a question, son,” his dad prodded. “What’s he doing wrong?”

Jason watched the man settle back in a captain’s chair and pour something from a bright silver thermos into a cup. Coffee probably, though something harder wasn’t out of the question. Many fisherman spent the afternoon getting wasted out here. His dad said it was fine as long as they weren’t piloting the boat. Piloting a boat drunk was just as stupid as driving a car drunk; both could get everybody killed. It was one of THE RULES.

Like someone had flipped a switch, he had the answer.

“He doesn’t have a buddy with him.”

“Give the man a cigar!” his dad said. “Naw, you’re too young, but I believe I will.”

He fished a cigar out of a shirt pocket, then lit it with his lucky Zippo. Jeremy, who had been paying attention after all, playfully slugged Jason on the shoulder. Jason slugged him back.

“Now remind me, son. Why should he have a buddy with him?”

“Because there’s no one there to help him if he gets hurt or falls overboard.”

“Exactly. Rule number one is–?”

Both boys answered together. “Never take a boat out alone farther than you can swim back.”

“And how far can you swim?”

“Not far with a busted head,” Jeremy said.

His dad’s laughter echoed over the blue waters of the Sound.

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