Monday, October 29, 2012


(Ghostly mist surrounds the retreat house on Saturday, October 27, 2012)
From Sunday, October 21 through the morning of the 28th, I retreated to a lovely little lodge house in North Conway, New Hampshire.  The house sits beneath the bald granite summit of Cathedral Ledge, a celebrated peak in the White Mountains. Standing on the wrap-around deck, one gazes up and there is the mountain.  Beyond that, only sky.  It is a breathtaking spot to sit and ponder, to dream.  I did both quite often during the week, the culmination to an October quite unlike any other during which I traveled, gave readings, and found myself with some brilliant new opportunities. Unexpected adventure was everywhere I turned in this mysterious month, which has always ranked among my favorite times of the year.

October kicked off with an incredible trip to Rochester, Vermont.  I was among a handful of scribes who won a free stay at When Words Count Retreat Center, a new high-end destination designed to pamper writers and help them to achieve their dreams.  As described in previous posts, my stay was above and beyond magnificent.  Truly, my time there will forever rank as one of the most enjoyable of my adult life.  Words flowed, as did a level of creative energy too rare in this era where publishing is being transformed before our eyes.  WWC is a gift I intend to give myself again, and the relationships I established with the retreat center's director and owners, by all outward signs, will lead to several exciting and mutually-beneficial work opportunities in the near future and down the pike.

(A favorite chair -- and pillow -- in the Stein Salon at When
Words Count Retreat Center)
My time at When Words Count came close on the heels of my trip to Star Island, another fantastic and productive adventure in which fresh pages and inspiration were in decent supply. Linking the two retreats together was an opportunity to write for a television series that literally fell out of the sky. Producers seeking to reboot one of the smartest and most thrilling TV shows of all time contacted me based upon work of mine they'd read (including a post on this very blog!), and I was brought on board the new production team.  While my NDA letter prevents me from discussing the project at this stage, I believe the work we are doing has the potential to be huge.  My enthusiasm for this particular gig has been a daily constant since and is responsible for several though hardly all the wide, giddy grins I am guilty of flashing throughout my stay at When Words Count.

Two days after returning from Vermont, I found myself back in the car driving north to give a reading at the Barley House in Concord, New Hampshire.  I and several contributors from the fabulous line of anthologies published by Rick Broussard, New Hampshire Pulp Fiction, entertained a significant crowd of devotees with samples of our stories.  My tale of Combat Science Fiction and sacrifice, "The Moths," is slated to appear in the latest release.  Rick asked me to read from the very first volume, Live Free or Undead, which contains my story "Road Rage."  Quite a few of my Wednesday night writer's group's members showed to support me, and I took to the stage amid thunderous applause.  I dedicated my reading to, "The courageous men and women of Moonbase Alpha" and was then asked to stick around to help judge a flash fiction contest put on by the fine folk at The New Hampshire Writers' Project.

(Reading from "Road Rage" at the Barley House)
I returned home and, seemingly in the blink of an eye, it was time to depart for North Conway, a return exactly one year to the date from a previous visit.  I and two of my pals from the writer's group moseyed north, stopping in Tilton, New Hampshire to shop for groceries and other needed provisions, and arrived early to find the house as lovely and welcoming as I remember. Sunlight rained down and a temperate breeze stirred the last of the colored leaves.  And there was Cathedral Ledge, visible from half the house's windows.  Our first night there, I made prime rib and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  We drank iced coffee, cold sodas, seltzer with wedges of lemon, wrote, and relaxed in front of a roaring log fire.

Beds and accommodations at that house are wonderfully comfortable, the owner, Maureen Parziale, a delight -- hence the annual return.  And my creative output was no less solid than during my two previous retreat stays on Star Island and at When Words Count.  I put the nib of my fountain pen to page and dashed off the last two chapters of my modern Gothic novel full of grand guignol and dark family secrets, Blinders.  On Monday, I had a long and thrilling phone conversation with WWC's Jon Reisfeld regarding one of the possible writing work opportunities looming on the very near horizon, and then received an email from an editor seeking multiple short stories of mine for a new anthology he is putting together for German book publisher Bruno Gemuender.  On Tuesday, I woke from a haunting dream and began to pen a new short story based upon the dream's quite solid bones.  Later that afternoon, I returned to the novel -- close, so very close, to its THE END.

(My novel in its first draft)
On Wednesday, while racing closer to the novel's conclusion, I received an email from Laura Baumbach, my editor at MLR Press, which released my M/M mystery novella, "Mason's Murder," this past August. Laura was contacted by the new director of The Lambda Literary Awards, who is apparently a fan of my work and who asked for me by name -- would I be interested in being a judge on this year's awards panel and chairing the Science Fiction/Horror/Fantasy category?  After the shock wore off I agreed that yes, indeed, I was most interested in the position. The next morning, I wrote the final pages of Blinders and felt like a million bucks.  Despite the novel's dark subject matter, it's a story that has haunted me from the moment the Muse dropped it onto my lap.  I am proud of its 310 pages/77,500 words.  After a spell, I intend to draw it out of the filing cabinet where it now rests and transcribe/edit onto the computer for submission.

On Saturday, I penned the entirety of "Mourning Doves in Limbo," a 2,500-word short story already promised to an editor. Our last night culminated with a reading from our works-in-progress, peanut butter cookies, and a late retiring to bed in preparation for an early start.  By ten on Sunday morning, the 28th, our happy writing retreat lodge sparkled after a solid cleaning, and we were on the road, headed south for home.  But the adventure was hardly ended because, as I type this on Monday, October the 29th, Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on our little Granite State.  The lights are still on, and all is snug and secure, though outside the windows and the happy lights in my office, the world is gray and tremulous.  It's been one hell of an October!


  1. LOL. I love that pillow! (I have to get that on a t-shirt!)

    You've had a busy month. All of the traveling had to be a pain but it sounds like it was totally worth it in the end!

  2. Huge congrats to you! And do be safe, mon ami!