Where is Garison?

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Yes, I am working on a new Garison Fitch novel. When will it be out? I have no idea.

The original Garison Fitch novel (“First Time”) was written in the summer of 1989. Then it got re-written a few times before being self-published in 2001 (see other blogs on this web site for more details). I’m not trying to claim that writing this new novel will take me 12 years so much as I’m trying to cover my rear in case it does. :-)

Part of the problem, if I may say so, is that I did such a good job on the other three books. Yes, I know people quibble with parts of them and there are some grammatical mistakes (which I fix as soon as they’re pointed out to me). I just mean that, in the scope of the entire story, I’m satisfied with what I wrote before.

But this is a time travel story and one of the basic tenets is that things done in the past can alter the present–or the future. The novel I’m working on [slight spoiler alert] involves the Garison of the 1700s who is married to Sarah. I’m struggling with the constraints I have placed on this character–and the stories of his progeny–in the previous books.

Thankfully, I have a character in the books who can correct me when I make a mistake.

Where I Am Today

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There’s an episode of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (one of the three greatest shows of all time) where Rob is determined to write his novel and so, first, tries to write at home. The problem is that he’s distracted by every little thing that goes on around him, even to listening under the door to hear Laura and Millie’s gossip.

Finally, he takes up a friend on an offer to use an isolated cabin somewhere out in the woods. Rob takes it and manages, in just a few days time, to write the dedication.

I want a cabin like that. I know exactly where Edward, Marianne, Marcus and the Overstreets are and I know what they should be doing. But life is very distracting–especially the distractions I create myself. Oh, well, guess I’m just going to have buckle down and write. Maybe I’ll take my laptop to somewhere where I can’t get wi-fi and just make myself write.

That’s the strategy all right. Just write. No distractions. Self-discip … hey! Look! There’s a stray cat across the street …

Reader Input

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Got an email from a guy in Saudi Arabia who has been reading my books on Kindle and wanted to know when the next one would be out. It was extremely gratifying because as I write (and re-write) about these characters, sometimes taking years to complete a book, they become very real to me. So having someone write and say they want to know more is kind of like having someone praise one of your children.

A while back, a friend of one of my nephews who would like to be a screenwriter tried his hand at adapting “First Time: The Legend of Garison Fitch – Book 1″ into a screenplay. It was interesting reading, but also very weird (for me). The first third of the script followed the book pretty closely (though some things were altered–as they would have to be when you switch from a written vision to a visual vision). It was fascinating to see my own words being used in such a fashion.

In the second third of the script, he started veering away from my story on a few points. I didn’t say anything because I figured it was his project and I know that some things have to change for a screen play. Plot points are condensed–and sometimes dropped–and side characters in the book may get cut from the movie. That’s the way it goes–just for the simple fact that taking a three hundred page book and making it into a two hour movie requires some condensing.

But the third section of the script barely resembled my novel. It was an interesting story, but it wasn’t MY story. The guy who wrote it had never read the other two Garison Fitch books, so he didn’t know where they were going. His conclusion of the screenplay would have precluded the other two books entirely. We had been corresponding for a while but when I wrote these concerns to him I stopped hearing from him. Don’t know if he’s trying to rework his script to more closely follow my book or if he’s just given up and moved on to some other story.

Lastly, though, what bugged me the most is that I knew the characters he was working with and I knew they wouldn’t act like that. Not that he had them being immoral or anything like that, it was more like if you have a good friend from Oklahoma and someone quotes him as saying he hates OU. You know him well enough to know he’d never say that. After a while, I get to know the characters so well that someone could probably suggest a breakfast for them and I could tell you what they like to eat.

It’s kind of a sickness, huh?

The Ancient Present

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I remember reading a paperback book in about 8th grade called “Lure of the Basilisk” by Lawrence Watt-Evans. If you go look that title up on Amazon you’ll find that it’s still available and (this came as a surprise to me) there are three other books in the series.

What always stuck in my mind about that book was a passage where the main character goes to an ancient city. A city so old no one remembers it’s name or even who peopled it. I wanted to know more about those people and their city, though to do so would have probably slowed the book down. Same with Star Trek’s “City on the Edge of Forever” or many of the places and realms that are only alluded to in Lord of the Rings. I am fascinated when someone at “National Geographic” writes about archeologists finding an ancient, forgotten city.

I wonder about those people. And I feel a strange connection to them because I bet they worked hard and took care of their kids and dreamed of a bigger house and all like I do. When I read about the one building that the archeologist thinks might have housed a doctor, I think about the people who went there to be treated just as we go to a hospital now. I think of the people who rejoiced at the good news and wept when a loved one passed away.

Who were these people? Where did they go?

From the very first drafts of the story that became “All the Time in Our World”, this idea of the ancient city whose occupants are now forgotten has always been there. And the ancient civilization has always been ours. I love Texas and the United States, but I also am aware that a war or a natural disaster–or just attrition–could leave future generations wondering who we were, if they gave us any thought at all.

Got a Blackbbery? Read my books!

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You can now read my books on your Blackberry through Amazon’s Kindle! Just go to Amazon, put in my name (Samuel Ben White) or the title of one of my books and there will be a panel in the right-hand sidebar telling you how to get Kindle books for your Blackberry, iPhone or PC. Go do it now ’cause who wouldn’t want to read several hundred pages of text on a screen the size of baseball card?!?!

(Seriously, I greatly appreciate all my readers, I just can’t imagine reading a book on a phone, but maybe I’m just too out of touch on such things.)

Travel

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I’m “hard” at work on the sequel to “All the Time in Our World”. On the one hand, it’s already been written, but I was never satisfied with a particular section. If this were a football game, you might say I was having trouble in the red zone. On the other hand, it’s not really the ending I’m having trouble with. From the five yard line on in, I’m pretty happy. I’m having trouble from about the 20 to the five.

So. Edward, Marianne and Marcus are on the lip of a canyon in southern Kansas and I feel like I’m looking at the great abyss myself. Like them, I know where I need to go, and I’m pretty sure how to get there. It’s just the actual steps that’re giving me pause.

Well, I better get off this blog and start walking.

More Good News

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Thanks to everyone who made March 2010 my best-selling month ever! I sold 56 books on Amazon’s Kindle platform, easily out-pacing my previous best month by 24 books.

As usual, the leader was “First Time: The Legend of Garison Fitch – Book 1″ with 14 copies, but “Saving Time: The Legend of Garison Fitch – Book 2″ was close with 12. And people are starting to read “All the Time in Our World”, my latest novel and the story of how Garison Fitch’s grandson, Edward Garrett, is propelled far into the future to fight the battle to begin the ending of the world.

Thanks again and please keep recommending my books to your friends. Watch this space for continued news about my future books and ruminations about the ones already written.

[Oh, and BTW, someone finally bought a copy of "Psalm 88"!]

Fasten 8 Ing

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The fascination of time travel is being able to change something that’s already happened. But why do I assume I could change it for the better?

What if I went to Dallas in 1963 and kept the president from being shot. Seems like that would be a good thing, right? Nothing against JFK, but what if allowing him to live somehow made the world a worse place? (Just asking, not asserting.)

Closer to home, what if I went back to high school and asked out that girl I admired from afar? What if she said, “Yes, I’ll go out with you.” I can’t imagine how that might have negative repercussions on my life today, but it might.

What about in college? I remember meeting this girl in San Marcus. Pretty red hair. Even had the nerve to talk to her. Got her phone number. Lost it. What if I had called her and asked her out? No biggie, you’re thinking? That was one month before I met my wife. If I had gone out with her, might have been still going out with her a month later and never asked my wife out. Life would really be different.

It’s probably just as well that I can’t change the past.