Readers delight in discovering historical, logical, or technical flaws in an author’s lovechild.
Time of death, for example, is considered critical to solving a murder case. There’s always an MD or ME kneeling beside the corpse revealing to the detective, detective inspector, PI, or special agent when precisely the dark deed was done. Rule of thumb dictates that a:
- warm flexible body has been dead less than 3 hours
- warm and stiff, dead between 3 and 8 hours
- cold and stiff, 8 to 36 hours
- cold and flexible, longer than 36 hours.
Beyond that, the sciences of putrefaction and entomology kick in. Not nearly as precise as a shattered watch crystal (assuming that the perp is not a fan of detective fiction and that he did not intentionally bust the watch and reset the hands to throw off the forensic team).
A writer, therefore, like a venture capitalist, does well to perform due diligence. To check and double-check facts. Your West German spy, for instance, will be able to get off eight rounds from his Walther P1, 9mm, but only seven or eight if he’s packing a 9mm Heckler & Koch HK4. And that scorpion making its way, to the accompaniment of eerie background music, across the camp cot to the beautiful young archeologist’s throat is a chancy murder weapon, given that few species have poison strong enough to kill an adult, and statistically only one out of a thousand stings is fatal.
All of which is a long way round to reach my point, which is what might seem to some to be an error in my just-released novel, Nevermore to Die.
November 16, 2012 must be remembered by historians as one more day that will live in infamy. It opened with: “We are sorry to announce that Hostess Brands, Inc. has been forced by a Bakers Union strike to shut down all operations and sell all company assets.
Farewell, Wonder Bread, that once assured young Howdy Doody viewers that the staple “builds strong bodies eight ways” and urged Mom and Dad to “Look for the red, yellow and blue balloons printed on the wrapper” (TRIVIA: by the ‘60s, sliced bread got even better, building strong bodies 12 ways)!
Via con dios, Ho-Ho’s and Ding Dongs!
Not surprisingly, the announcement triggered a run on Twinkies. According to wire reports, “a Chicago-area convenience store sold out of Twinkies by 9 a.m. this morning. Stores from Manhattan to California have also reported being hit by Twinkie runs. On eBay, one person put a $250,000 price tag on a box of 10 Twinkies. Less ironic sellers were asking $8 to $60. Individual two-packs were going for $5 and up.”
So what does the demise of yet another American institution have to do with my novel?
Chapter Four closes with Nathan Elliot and Jaanah Meredith preparing food for a small group meeting in Nathan’s flat.
“Hold it a minute,” Nathan said, clearing a space, “I forgot something.”
He went to a cupboard and took out a mail parcel. Tearing off the brown paper wrapping and opening the carton, he reverently removed several smaller blue and white boxes, opened one, and began to fill a plate with little golden sponge cakes.
“Twinkies,” he announced proudly. “I ‘import’ them from an old college roommate in Wisconsin and send him pastries from Al Bohsali in return. I got hooked on these when I was in America. You can’t get them in the Middle East, and Tim loves Lebanese sweets. Win-win!”
I would like the Reader to understand clearly that this conversation took place before Hostess closed its doors, at a time when even Jules Verne, George Orwell, and George Lucas together could never imagine a world without Twinkies.
Download Nevermore to Die. Just $2.99!
This is to inform you that I am retiring this blog. I have a brand spanking new website coming soon to replace the current http://ronbrackin.com. It will have its own blog, along with the ability to download all of my books and more.
My first novel, Nevermore to Die, is being converted into digital format right now. As soon as that’s done, it will be available at my site as well, along with my Sherlock Holmes story: The Adventure of the Deadly Illusion.
If all goes well, and the creek don’t rise, the NEW ronbrackin.com will be up and running next week!
Sick and tired of tearing up all those “firm offers” for credit and insurance? You can call the Consumer Credit Reporting Industry’s Opt-In and Opt-Out number (888.567.8688) and get your name removed for 5 years. Just thought you’d like to know.
Just received this from John Prassas. John is a former pro football player, entrepreneur, pastor, author, broker, and founder of an Emmy Award-winning media/marketing firm. Be encouraged…
Last week a friend asked if I would speak to the Aubrey High School football team on Friday afternoon before their homecoming game that night. Despite having no previous contact with this school (or team) located out in the country north of Dallas’ suburbs, I said ‘sure.’
I began researching their season and soon discovered they were 0-4 with a slew of key injuries, a suspended star player and a young, inexperienced coach replacing the all-time winningest coach in Texas high school history who retired just last year…and they were facing 3-0 powerhouse and arch-rival Pilot Point who they had beaten once in 40 years. I instantly started thinking of reasons to back out!
But just as quickly I recalled journeyman boxer James ‘Buster’ Douglas facing 36-0 (32 KO’s) Mike Tyson for the heavyweight championship of the world on Feb 11, 1990 in Tokyo Japan…all expectations were for ‘Iron Mike’ to destroy Douglas as he had done to his last opponent in just 93 seconds (infuriating pay-per-view patrons who felt short-changed and causing many Vegas casinos to cancel odds and refuse any bets on Tyson-Douglas). What’s more, Douglas was heavy-hearted, having lost his mother just three weeks before the fight. Buster Douglas didn’t stand a chance.
But Buster Douglas was a believer. He had a miracle mind-set that anything could happen. Maybe just maybe he could shock the world.
When I arrived in Aubrey Friday afternoon things didn’t look good. There was little indication of Homecoming spirit and more than enough late summer heat beating down to oppress any thoughts of halting a losing streak. Once inside their field house I told the kids they didn’t need a motivational speaker or an inspirational message. They needed a miracle mind-set. I told them they needed to believe Jesus who said a mustard seed of faith could move a mountain and that anything was possible for those who believe…a fumble recovery, a deflected pass for an interception, a punt return for a touchdown…how little separated winning and losing, an 0-4 record from a 3-0 record, how much pressure a 3-0 team feels playing an 0-4 foe that refuses to lay down or quit…how they could make up their mind to ‘shock the world’ that very night.
I asked the team to repeat those words several times out loud as I shared how Buster Douglas jabbed his way through five rounds, gradually swelling Tyson’s eyes to mere slits and causing panic when Tyson’s corner men realized they forgot their EndSwell tool for chilling swollen flesh between rounds (they had never needed it before!)… how Iron Mike became frenzied, fighting frantically for several rounds, finally dropping Douglas for an 8-count in the 8th round, then assaulting him in the 9th like a shark smelling blood in the water…the bully champion would finally have his way and dominate yet another weaker foe…but Douglas fought back, refusing to fold, then counter-punched with a furious combination in the 10th, hammering Iron Mike to the canvas, where he dizzily crawled on hands and knees, wobbling and searching for the mouth piece knocked loose by Buster’s right hand blast to his temple…the count reached 8…9…10 and it was over! Photos of that moment stand among the most poignant ever taken. Yes, miracles can and do happen. Buster Douglas had shocked the world.
And so could this small-time, small-town 0-4 team in Texas.
I shook hands with each player and coach then drove home wondering if my words had hit their target or bounced off the walls of the expansive weight room where we had gathered. The most impressive things about the team had been the suspended quarterback who couldn’t play and the number of injured players I had met. I had serious doubts about their chances and despaired over the thought of these boys getting pummeled on their homecoming night. I dreaded reading their game score online or in the next morning’s paper, as I couldn’t stay to watch the game and feared it could get ugly. So I prayed they would rise up with a fearless spirit and give it their best.
As time passed into evening I questioned how cruel it might have been to raise the hopes, dreams and expectations of helpless people, or a team that barely stood a fighter’s chance to win. Was my love of public speaking, of exhorting, of flat-out preaching just a big ego-trip for me, and actually a disservice to my hearers? Was I simply doing more harm than good? Or was this out-of-the-blue speaking opportunity an answered prayer from a God who knows my greatest gifts and heart’s desires? Was it a confirmation of my calling to stir faith and set alight the fire in people’s hearts, of a new season of release to speak words of life to any group that will listen? I hoped the latter, but feared the former.
Later that night my phone screen flashed with a text message from the Aubrey booster who had arranged my visit and listened to my message along with the team and some other parents. I focused hard to read the message which said simply: ‘Shocked the world!!! Aubrey 44, Pilot Point 28.’
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! The goosebumps and awe wouldn’t go away!! What utter relief!! What fantastic joy!!! I was so happy for those kids and coaches and families and friends, who I didn’t even know before my visit but supernaturally grew to love and care about. Later I learned how the team had passed through their tunnel on the way to the field chanting something about shocking the world.
I smiled and shook my head in amazement. All things are possible for those who believe…
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven,” King Solomon wrote. The season for acting and doing is generally considerably shorter than the season for waiting on the Lord.
Waiting on the Lord is joyfully making the most of our time in camp until the cloud moves.
Again, waiting on the Lord is sitting calmly on the beach until the Lord parts the sea, instead of frantically building boats and barges.