Category Archives: Books/Literature

New Book Update 5/17/24

So two days ago I finished the revisions, on computer, of my latest novel.

I’m really happy with the novel in its current state. Most of it is fine and a couple of spots still need a little revision but the bottom line is that it took me about 2 months to get all this stuff put into the computer file.

I feel like the book maybe needs another two drafts before it’s ready for release. I’m mulling an epilogue and there is one part close to the climax that could use a little work but, as I noted, I’m happy with the novel and feel its really close to being “finished”.

Keeping my fingers crossed!

When the legend becomes fact, print the legend…

The above line is from the John Ford directed film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

The point of the quote is that sometimes a legend, or myth, becomes repeated so often that it essentially becomes fact… even if it isn’t true.

My feeling is that often these stories are just so good to the teller/audience that they have no problem accepting them because of that fact, even if a little investigation would result in upending the “legend”.

One of my favorite authors is Raymond Chandler. During his career, he wrote a number of short stories and some seven novels. The novels all featured detective Phillip Marlowe and many of them were subsequently made into films. Perhaps the most famous are the Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall film The Big Sleep

Also well known is the Robert Altman directed The Long Goodbye

The Big Sleep was Chandler’s first novel, released in 1939, and it took elements of various short stories he had written before and its a freaking spectacular novel in my opinion. The Long Goodbye was pretty much Chandler’s last Marlowe novel, released in 1953 and is also a spectacular book which shows how the author matured and faced death. Supposedly, the novel was written as his wife was dying and his grief informs much of what happens in the book. Chandler would release one more novel, Playback, in 1958 but it was an odd work, an adaptation of a script and… it doesn’t feel like a full throttled Chandler book. He would start one more book, Poodle Springs, but passed away in 1959 with only four chapters written. Years later Robert B. Parker would finish the novel and… it’s only ok IMHO.

As Chandler’s novels became big successes, audiences and critics noted the stories he presented were often very complex. In fact, that became something of a source of ribbing by some people and critics and, I strongly suspect, some of the ribbing had an edge to it.

See, Chandler was also something of a gruff person. When his works gained prominence and he started writing scripts in Hollywood (his most famous screenplay is probably for the film Double Indemnity), I strongly suspect he rubbed some people there the wrong way. It didn’t help that he was a very heavy drinker and maybe very moralistic and, perhaps, even repressed. Yes, there were rumors he was, despite being married, secretly closeted or possibly bisexual. Interestingly, the novel The Big Sleep did at times present a moralistic view of sexuality… and frowned at deviancies.

One story that has circulated for many, many years now involves The Big Sleep and that story, it seems to me, is the proverbial legend that supplants what are somewhat easily verified facts (you knew I was going to get back to that eventually, no?!).

So it has been noted by many The Big Sleep’s story is so complicated that even Raymond Chandler himself didn’t know who murdered one of the characters, the Sternwood’s chauffeur.

Lauren Bacall, the wife of Humphrey Bogart and co-star in the famous film version of The Big Sleep, at one point stated that while she and Bogart were going over the movie’s screenplay, Bogie supposedly had this revelation and stated “Hey, who killed the chauffeur?” and that this was when the studios -and Lauren Bacall implied people in general- realized the chauffeur’s murder was unsolved in the story.

Actor Robert Mitchum has a curious story, too. He stated that one day he was in a bookstore and Raymond Chandler was there. The store’s phone rang and it turned out the studio was calling for Chandler and Mitchum overheard the phone call. They were, according to Mitchum, trying to figure out who killed the chauffeur in The Big Sleep and Chandler supposedly said: “I have no idea”.

Cute stories, both of them, but I wonder if either is true.

There have been many others who have echoed the sentiment that The Big Sleep is a great story in spite of the fact that “it is so complicated even Raymond Chandler didn’t solve one of its murders”, referring, of course, to the Sternwood chauffeur’s death. It feels to me many of these stories, as I noted before, have a sharp edge to them. It’s almost like these critics are saying “Raymond Chandler writes so well but gives us such a labyrinthian story to tell that he doesn’t even realize he’s left a murder unsolved! What a bozo… amiright?!


No. That’s not right.

And it takes only a little bit of research, actually pulling out a copy of The Big Sleep novel, to realize this legend is just that.

The following comes directly from The Big Sleep. For those who don’t know, the Sternwood chauffeur is found dead in his car, which had run through a pier, smashing it, and was submerged in water at some point that night. When detective Phillip Marlowe shows up, the car has been found and been brought to the surface and the chauffeur is inside, dead. There are several people/police around, including Bernie Ohls, the D.A.’s chief investigator and a friend of Marlowe’s.

From the book:

The plainclothesman scuffed at the deck with the toe of his shoe. Ohls looked sideways along his eyes at me, and twitched his cigar like a cigarette.

”Drunk?” he asked, of nobody in particular.

The man who had been toweling his head went over to the rail and cleared his throat in a loud hawk that made everybody look at him. “Got some sand,” he said, and spat. “Not as much as the boy friend got— but some.”

The uniformed man said: “Could have been drunk. Showing off all alone in the rain. Drunks will do anything.”

”Drunk, hell,” the plainclothesman said. “The hand throttle’s set halfway down and the guy’s been sapped on the side of the head. Ask me and I’ll call it murder.”

Ohls looked at the man with the towel. “What do you think, Buddy?”

The man with the towel looked flattered. He grinned. “I say suicide, Mac. None of my business, but you ask me, I say suicide. First off the guy plowed an awful straight furrow down that pier. You can read his tread marks all the way nearly. That puts it after the rain like the Sheriff said. Then he hit the pier hard and clean or he don’t go through and land right side up. More likely turned over a couple of times. So he had plenty of speed and hit the rail square. That’s more than half-throttle. He could have done that with his hand falling and he could have hurt his head falling, too.”

So, in a few paragraphs, Chandler offers three theories as to what happened to the chauffeur: 1) He was drunk and ran off the pier. 2) He was murdered, hit on the side of his head and the car run off the pier with him in it to make it look like an accident. Finally, 3) He committed suicide.

Note that Chandler goes into the greatest details with the suicide and further, it makes the most logical sense.

See, cars back in the 1930’s were not like cars today and they required more effort to skillfully maneuver.

The chauffeur being drunk is dispatched almost right away. The car drove “straight” through the pier and at a very high speed. Tire tracks in the rain water indicate this. So… not drunk.

The murder option, based on the explanations offered, would imply the killer would have had to be inside the car driving it very fast and straight down to the pier, then smash through that pier at high speed to then land upright in the water.

The killer would then swim out and leave the chauffeur’s body behind.

Now, this is a very dangerous thing to do, no? The killer could have just as easily gotten him/herself injured when smashing through the pier and falling in the water. Hell, they could have gotten themselves drowned.

So we fall to option three: Suicide.

Now, I will admit this much is true: The Big Sleep novel offers no absolute answer to what happened to the chauffeur. However, Raymond Chandler, far from being befuddled and not knowing what happened to the chauffeur, offers a very logical explanation for how he died… and it likely wasn’t a murder after all.

Within the context of the story, is it possibile he committed suicide? Absolutely. He was infatuated with Carmen Sternwood, one of the two “wild” daughters (Vivian Sternwood was the other daughter and she was played by Lauren Bacall in the movie). Carmen, we find, was being blackmailed and because he couldn’t help take care of that nasty business, he might have been distraught enough to commit suicide.

So, yeah, everything fits.

Going back to my main point, though, the legend turns out to be just that. It’s clear Chandler thought very hard about what happened to the Sternwood chauffeur and offered an explanation as to why he found himself dead.

Rather than the author being befuddled and having “no idea” who did him in, he very clearly had a strong idea of what happened.

More New Novel Update…!

So as of today I’m roughly 1/5th or so of the way through putting the revisions made in red ink into the computer file and… I have to say, I’m finding this stuff moving along really nicely.

The book has lingered with me for longer than I wanted but I think in part this happened because of a general depression. I don’t want to keep coming back to it, but if you’ve read my entries you know what happed to my parents and it has impacted me. How could it not?

At times I’ve felt like I’ve been running at half speed… getting things done but not really putting as much energy into them like I did before.

Reading through the book to get to this point felt like it took me forever… but I’ll be damned if the process didn’t allow me to come to understand what I was writing and how I was going to present the various characters and situations.

So far, putting all this stuff into the computer has proven a far easier task than that readthrough and red marker revision. The book has essentially two “introductory” parts before the novel proper begins and both of them, I feel, are pretty close to be complete and done. I’ve now moved into the novel proper as of today and these initial pages are also flowing wonderfully.

It’s a satisfying feeling to see the work taking shape and -to the extent it can being only words on a page- life.

I’m happy with it and I’m eager to get through it!

More to come!

New Novel Update…!

Seems like forever since I’ve been able to do one of these.

Anyway, yesterday I finally –finally– finished the read-through and red-marker fix up of my latest novel. This represents my fifth run through the book and, I would add, my most intense. Next up is taking all those red marker fixes and putting them into the computer file of the novel, print the thing out, then its on to draft #6.

It took me a very long time to get through this draft and that really annoys me. It feels like too much has been going on both personally and professionally during this time and I’ve also been working on another side project (more on that to come!) which kept the revisions moving in slow motion.

I will say, though, that this was the first really top-to-bottom, intense revision. This happens with me when I’m revising novels. Some revisions may be more focused on technical aspects, ie making sure sentences are well written and clear while others, like this one, focus on the story being told and making sure I’m telling it the best way possible.

Anyway, it’s done and I do feel like I’ve climbed the proverbial mountain. I suspect the revisions from this point on will be more focused on those technical aspects and will be done quicker.

This novel will be released this year, perhaps in the summer…!


Found this interesting opinion piece written by Kara Alaimo and published on…

Goodreads controversy goes far beyond a bad review

The author of this piece focuses on the issue of “spam” reviews, often negative ones, presented online regarding published -or about to be published- works.

In this case, the focus is on but it could well apply to movie review sites like as well.

Because the internet isn’t all that well regulated and people can post reviews on works they haven’t necessarily seen or read or heard, there is a danger that a group of people might post an overwhelming amount of (often negative) reviews about a work simply because they don’t like what the author/director/actor/singer is doing or has done versus present an honest opinion of the work itself.

Ms. Alaimo notes a couple of books dealing with potentially “controversial” topics but it doesn’t have to be so. I recall a few years back when the female-centric Ghostbusters was released and a corner of the internet lost their collective minds feeling that the film was somehow slamming masculinity simply by existing in this form.

Negative and positive reviews of a product, obviously, can play a huge role in whether it succeeds or fails. By posting large amounts of negative reviews, a group of people could ensure that a work fails.

But what if they haven’t read the work? What if they’re upset with what the work is about and doesn’t conform to their world-view?

This is the rub, I suppose. When a website like, which is devoted to offering readers a chance to critique a book, devolves into questionable reviews, then what purpose does it serve?

Is there an answer?

I noticed on (which owns Goodreads, it should be noted), reviews of novels may have a “Verified Purchase” label which indicates the person reviewing a novel has indeed bought it.

However, this likely only applies to people who purchase said novel through Amazon itself, be it a Kindle work or a physical copy, and doesn’t necessarily apply to someone who might have bought it elsewhere -such as through a bookstore or second hand shop- and were so impressed (or perhaps depressed!) by the work they felt the need to offer their opinion on it.

For example, I love the novel The Far Cry by Fredric Brown. So much so that I went out of my way to write a positive review of it on even though the copy I have was bought years before at a second-hand bookshop and therefore my review didn’t have the “verified purchase” label.

c’est la vie

Either way, there is no easy solution here. The effort it would take to weed out “legitimate” reviews from those that aren’t seems almost impossible to do, and the shame is that perhaps some books that could or should be successful may not be, and vice versa.

Update on latest projects…

It’s been a while since I’ve provided an update on what’s going on with me and the works I’ve been currently doing.

I mentioned before that I’m working on two things simultaneously: A graphic novel project done in collaboration with an artist friend of mine and my next novel.

The graphic novel, from my part, is completely written and therefore the bulk of the work is on my artist-friend’s shoulder and it will be a little bit before we have enough material to publish the first of what I’m thinking will be three books.

As for my latest novel, a couple of days ago I finished the 2nd draft of the book. It’s a very full draft and presents the story’s elements from start to end. I was having issues, as I wrote before in some updates, about the way the book ends but I’m quite happy with what I’ve come up with.

It is, though, a second draft. As good as I feel it is, and I feel it is very good, I’m guessing there are things I’ll be adding to put more “meat on the bone” and make the book a little more fully realized.

Having said that, I’m confident that part will not take as much time as its taken me to get all those other elements together.

Bottom line is that things are certainly moving ahead and I’m looking forward to having some interesting releases… hopefully by a little later this year!

So… what have I been up to of late…?

It strikes me I haven’t provided much information about what’s been on my plate -creatively, anyway- for a while now.

One of the frustrating things about being a writer is that it takes a while for something to get done. It is more likely than not whatever project I initiate goes through various permutations and what comes out often isn’t anything like what I originally conceived.

Further, I don’t want to give details up… I want the project to be released fully formed and “done”, and that means giving “updates” on a project have to be free of many story details.

At the moment, I’m working on two projects… or rather I personally am writing my next novel while a good friend of mine -an extraordinary artist- is working on another project I’ve already written.

The novel is roughly halfway done. I’ve gotten most of the details of the first half of the book in place but have yet to fully flesh out the book’s last act. I’m getting there, thought.

As for the project done in collaboration with my good friend… I saw the first few pages of it and I can’t wait to see more. Again, don’t want to give away too much but after all the shit I’ve gone through and the sadness and madness of dealing with my parents’ passing, lawyers and judges, and banks… it’s really nice to get back to creative work.

Let’s see where things go…!

What will become of the movie industry…?

Stumbled upon this rather grim article written by Tony Maglio and presented on…

Warner Bros Discover lost 2.4 Billion and Lionsgate lost 1.8 Billion and its not even dinnertime

The article rightfully wonders how film studios can survive with such staggering losses and, frankly, I wonder the same.

Looking at this from a longer view, it seems to me this is part and parcel of, of all things, the arrival of home computers and the internet.

Let me explain.

When home computers first appeared they were crude yet began changing the landscape. I’m old enough to have been part of the very first generation to have one way, waaaaaaaayyyy back in the early 1980’s. My first computer was the venerable Atari 800…

Compared to what we now have, the Atari 800 was a laughably crude and for the most part primitive machine. And yet I almost instantly found a use for it. See, I was in high school at the time and the word processing program it had allowed me to write reports and get them printed out (on an equally crude and extremely slow printer) which was an incredible blessing!

No longer did I have to use a typewriter and white out errors or have to start all over again when I made too many errors. With Atari’s Word Processor, I could type and correct the whole thing and print it out only when it was ready!

A truly marvelous innovation!

Of course, the Atari computers didn’t last and soon IBM and Apple computers appeared. Apple was viewed as more “graphic” intensive but the IBM computers seemed to have the leg up. They were constantly improving and, like the mania to buy new iPhones or new gaming computers, one expected each new generation of IBM or Windows based computers to be better and better.

And they were!

And then came the internet, which is essentially phase two.

Now, you could interact with people all over the world. You could communicate via email. You could send files…

When MP3s became a thing, you no longer needed to store your music on CDs or have those vinyl records (by then, cassettes were a thing of the past and, yes, I know vinyl records are making a comeback).

You could keep your music on your computer and soon enough, even buy albums digitally without having to leave the comfort of your home. Suddenly, all those music stores I frequented -some of which were incredibly large!- were gone…

Then came the Kindle and the iPad and, as with music, now you didn’t need to actually buy physical copies of books. You could buy digital copies and buy and read them in the comfort of your home and, just like that, bookstores also became something of a thing of the past.

Certainly in my area there are only a fraction of them around like there used to be!

Alas, next in line were movies.

With the ability to create music and book files, it wasn’t long before digital copies of movies became a thing as well. Further, Netflix appeared and showed the industry that streaming was also a viable option to watching movies and TV shows.

However, people still went to theaters to see the latest releases, so things seemed to be going ok…

Until COVID hit.

Suddenly people were homebound and the studios had to hold back on releasing their upcoming films. In some cases, these films eventually were released but appeared on streaming services very quickly afterwards. It’s fair to say that films such as Wonder Woman 84, No Time to Die, and Tenet, regardless of their quality (and I know some feel they’re not great films at all), would have performed far better had COVID not kept them from being released as they should have been… and those are the three “biggest” films I can think of offhand which were victims of COVID.

Here’s the thing I’ve come to notice after spending all these years watching the ebb and flow of entertainment: Something that is big at one point might suddenly become old hat really quickly.

There was a time disco music ruled. Then, suddenly, no one wanted to hear disco music. There was a time grunge ruled. Then, it was gone.

Movie theaters for so many years have been THE place to go see new films. But with COVID, we stopped going to them en mass. Yes, there are exceptions (Top Gun Maverick and the latest Spider-Man film being two of them) but in general the entire industry is in a funk.

And now that COVID is somewhat a thing of the past (get vaccinated, people!) we’re seeing that audiences aren’t necessarily flocking back to see the latest movies. At least not quite yet.

For we have seen movies appear on various streaming services and some of us figure we’ll just wait a month or two and see whatever film is currently in theaters then.

It’s happened to me, quite frankly, with Black Adam. I’m certainly curious to see it (Dr. Fate is a favorite comic book character of mine and the fact that they got Pierce Brosnan to play the role delights me!) but frankly… I can wait.

How many other people are saying the same thing?

I’ve mentioned it before to friends of mine, but we still don’t know the extent to which the internet and home computers will affect our lives. We’re seeing it, day by day, from the early days when I realized I could use a Word Processor to write my High School reports, to realizing you can have your entire music collection on a small memory card to realizing you can have your entire library (books, comic books, magazines, etc.) on a memory card as well, to where we now realize we can stream or own movies on that same memory card.

Where will it all ultimately end?

I guess we’ll all find out together.

So sorry…

It has been a very long while since I’ve posted here and for that I’m sorry.

Those who have been ’round these parts know that things have been rather… rough… of late. I don’t want to keep repeating things, but scrolling back through the most recent posts of the last year/year and a half will tell you what you need to know.

In some ways, it feels like I’ve been floating about life since the events of June 24, 2021. There is a paradoxical feeling that my sisters and I are trying to settle the estate of my parents and, because of that, I haven’t been able to fully acknowledge the loss.

I might have noted this before but there was a Sunday a while back, perhaps some two or three months ago -this is another thing I’m noticing, time is so damn fluid and one day seems to blend into the next- where I woke up feeling quite good.

I felt like my old self and found myself smiling and enjoying the day more than I have any day since the collapse of Champlain Towers South and the loss of my parents.

What stunned me more than anything else was that in feeling relatively “happy”, I was able to realize just how down/depressed I have been all this time. The good feelings, alas, didn’t last beyond that day but at least having an understanding of those feelings has made me aware of the need to do things to try to get myself out of this pit.

Unfortunately, there were many things related to the estate that had to be dealt with. I don’t want to go into those things too much, but suffice to say the process is long and difficult but estate issues are being resolved, one at a time.

So after a month or more of not coming around here, I’m back. I’ll try to make up for lost time as best I can but, as was the case for the days between my last posting and now, I can’t guarantee too much.

For those who enjoy my writings, during the past month I worked on and completed -from my end, for the most part- a new project which hopefully will bear fruition in the next year. It’s something I can honestly say I’ve hoped to do in collaboration with someone I’ve known for some 30 years now and he’s a terrific talent and deserves to be better known.

Maybe this project will help make that a reality.

I’ll be speaking with him later today and we’ll see what happens!

Been a while…

…and I’m sorry for the dearth of posts for -gasp- something like a month now!

The past month has been, emotionally exhausting.

Issues regarding the collapse of Champlain Towers South -and the death, among others, of my parents- has moved to its end stages, and the family and I have been incredibly busy getting everything readied.

There are two stages to the various lawsuits: First is the value of the lost property itself. The owners and heirs of the apartments are entitled to a portion of the sale value of the property and we needed to provide paperwork verifying our status as heirs. This was known for a while now, but things need to be signed and verified nontheless.

The second part of this is the wrongful death lawsuit, which involved filling out the paperwork for the deaths of my parents along with writing testimonials of what they meant to us. We also made an appointment with the judge who is handling the whole situation and, in his courtroom last week, presented their life story and what they meant to us.

It was, to say the least, a difficult thing to do. There was no telling how it would go and how coherent we would be. This was the first time, truthfully, we expressed our feelings about our losses outside of our family and… it was tough.

Tough but, in the end, cathartic.

I was proud of my sisters and their families. I was proud of my own family. We presented our feelings and memories and I believe we did well in telling the judge who our parents were and what they meant to us as well as the unimaginable horror of this loss.

So we did it, and now we sit back and wait to see what happens.

There are those out there who have speculated all the relatives/heirs of those lost in Champlain are going to get a big payoff, as if the money somehow will justify the horror we’ve gone through.

It may be a good amount. It may indeed wind up being a very big amount.

And I just don’t know how I feel about it.

Because there doesn’t pass a moment where I think about a world where my parents are still alive and most of their possessions aren’t lost in the rubble of the collapse of Champlain Towers.

In the afterwards to my latest novel, The Ebb of Time, I wrote this:

As cliched and silly as it sounds, I urge everyone out there reading these words to take a moment of time and hug your loved ones or, if you can’t, at least reach out and tell them you love them.

Things can change dramatically from one moment to the next.

I know.

Don’t leave things unsaid and, as my father used to say, please, please enjoy your day.

I do hope everyone out there has a good day.