From Beach to Book

If you read my previous blog about editing my book on the golden sands of Puerto Rico then you’re probably wondering, “Hey, did you take any pictures?” (see below)


Here is what the experience is like: I mostly sit alone writing at home or at work or at a reserved table at the restaurant that always keeps a table open for me near the wall and a plug so I can write, and then, suddenly I’m on a sun-washed beach – still alone – while other vacationers are bouncing around in the waves of the Caribbean. My head, however, is somewhere in Pakistan or Canada or New York or New York State.

I was in the book. I edit on the beach by day and at night punch in the changes onto my laptop. Real hot time so far, right?

Well I get to do other things, but always with the umbilical cord stretched tight between the manuscript and myself. Somewhere close to day 4 I am finished. What a feeling. Then it’s a metamorphosis into a vacationer on the beach. Then comes the day when I leave, shed the bathing suit for totally climate inappropriate NYC street clothes as I head to the plane.

Within 24 hours of JetBlue flight 704 touching down at JFK, I had ‘published’ my uncorrected manuscript at Kinkos, as kind of an advance copy, meant for my close inner circle of friends to read and comment on. I do this with trepidation.

Now the book is on my desk (see below)

I sit here, with a feeling of completion–not quite postpartum depression, but a kind of hope mixed with anxiety that the squiggly lines on the page are going to filter through to a human being who will decode them into an emotion…or for the tech savvy; the text will be an emoticon 😉

Within the pages these emotions connect to the plot and characters, settings and pacing. And I hope that I haven’t violated too many rules of literary infrastructure – despite my dashes of precocious flirting with generally accepted norms. An intentional flirtation calculated to hopefully lead someone to gauge my work as a fresh, interesting approach – or just a downright good read. I don’t care which one, as long as it isn’t “I couldn’t stay with it”.

So I threw a fancy cover on it, in the hopes that it warms my readers up to the idea of, “Oh, this looks finished.”

Then I sit back, empty nest syndrome sweeping over me as my baby is out there. I wait and wait, twiddling my thumbs and… I don’t know, maybe find something to do, like write this blog?

Modesty, Chastity, Young Love and the taliban

Tom Avitabile | SetaraRight smack dab in the middle of editing my fourth book The Devil’s Quota – which is set in New York City, upper New York State, Canada and Afghanistan – I felt I had constructed a beautiful love story between an American G.I. and a local Afghan girl. It was all very lovely and very soft around the edges. I was positive that I had captured the true euphoria of that first spark of love, infusing into the relationship the electric sensation two soul mates tingle with every time they meet. I topped off that exchange of energy with its titillating aftermath and breathless anticipation of their next encounter. I even threw in a dash of the fanciful ‘what if’ and the ‘what when’ dreams that occupy their every idle moment.

From a plot perspective, I had set their encounter at the community well, literally at the most nurturing and central location of a war-ravaged, dirt poor Afghan farm village. I had Sgt. Eric Ronson, the perfect male hero for a love interest; a strong, strapping young warrior buck.  As for my femme extraordinaire I had an incredibly radiant, simple farm girl, Setara.  I even had over-arching symbolism in their meeting across not only the walls of the well but the one million walls between their cultures.

So I had it, the forbidden love, fighting to survive against the prejudices, mores and  traditions of the times in which they live.  And then….

The burqa happened.

Or more correctly my editor, Sue Rasmussen happened …  to come across in her research that, according to the taliban, which is known to shoot you if you do not comply, women have to wear a burqa in public. That means fully covered, without the tiniest slit for the eyes! However, the inherent slapstick comedy of women walking into walls and bumping into things is avoided with a dark mesh over the eyes. (See, the Taliban isn’t totally unreasonable.)

But I, however, walked right into a wall. The whole “their eyes met” gone, the descriptives like “the radiance on her face” gone, the insightful “he could see her attempt to suppress her elation over seeing him,” gone!

Conclusion: There is absolutely nothing on the romantic attractor side of a story if the taliban were to write it. One of many good reasons never write a Taliban-based love story, because in a world lousy with taliban, all marriages are arranged. The young-ins have absolutely no say with whom they shall grow old. In short, romance, as we would artfully construct it, becomes a charge listed on an order of execution, read aloud before the stoning to death of the young girl.  

So you can see that the Western-accepted, innocent, G-rated acts like two kids smiling at one another, God forbid holding hands, a scandalous peck on the cheek or the public humiliation and spectacle caused by him merely gazing upon her naked face, in the taliban world, puts a crimp in my romantic story. It is also a fatal AK47 bullet wound through my entire book because I need that relationship in Afghanistan as the emblematic inciting incident for the rest of the story. Those characters also become major players as the story unfolds.

At this point, I’ve got a lot riding on Afghanistan and it’s being spoiled by a thin veil of mesh fabric. That means my two love interests will pass in the night or at least the darkness of the taliban-imposed morality police.

So I took my case to the Google World Court and I looked up images of Afghan women and right there in vivid, living color, in stills taken recently, are images of many women in burqas, but then my heart stopped, almost like my male character’s, when I saw the one woman among them in the hijab. Then, I found many photographs of hijab-clad women among the populace.

The hijab saved my life.

The hijab, more like a loosely worn scarf around the head, allowing full facial features rescued my love story. Now I actually have photographic proof that hijabs and burqas can co-exist with men in the same public space.

Saved! Book back on course. Everything’s good with me. Not so much with the women living under oppression though. Hmmmm, maybe that’s another book?

Guest Author James LePore talks: The Myth of Place

The Myth of Place: Why I Chose Southern Mexico as the Venue for a Large Swath of Blood of My Brother

Mexico, at once magical and diabolical.

—Anonymous

    In 1997, I spent four weeks in southern Mexico, in the city of Oaxaca and on the Pacific Coast between Puerto Escondido and Puerto Angel. I had just read Under The Volcano by Malcolm Lowry, and wanted to see, and photograph, imagesthe country where Lowry (in real life) and the American Consul Firm in (in the novel) had tried so hard, but failed, to commit suicide by mezcal.

    The coast road from Puerto Escondido deteriorated with a jolting suddenness as I approached Zippolite. Earlier, I had picked up a hitchhiker, a middle-aged Brit with bad teeth and a scruffy beard, wearing a bandana like a sixties hippie, who told me, as I was dropping him off at a godforsaken roadside cantina, that he had heard that a busload of American tourists had been hijacked earlier in the day north of Puerto Angel and all were killed. I immediately regretted leaving Puerto Escondido so late—night had fallen as suddenly as the road had turned to rutted hard-pan—but I pushed on. There were two or three large bonfires on Zippolite’s beach, their light reflecting wildly off of the huge waves crashing behind them, the waves that had for years, according to my guide book, attracted the world’s most insane surfers.

    Ten minutes later, I was in Puerto Angel and twenty minutes after that ordering dinner on the veranda of a small but clean and not un-charming inn on a hillside overlooking Puerto Angel Bay, lit to perfection by the moon and stars shining down through a clear night sky. The inn’s owner, a graying ex-hippie herself from San Francisco, had heard nothing of any massacre of Americans. Rumors, she said, it’s what the ex-pats and the paranoid surf bums live on along this coast. The time to worry will be when the rumors stop. She had been running her inn for twenty years, so, relieved, I was happy to take her at her word. So happy that after dinner I had three or four shots of the strong—very strong—and smoky local mezcal.

    There was a couple that I took to be American—in their late twenties, both blond, both good looking—at a table not too far away. The place was otherwise empty. I thought to ask them to join me but there was something about the way they were talking, looking at each other and then not looking at each other, that decided me against it.

    I was asleep within seconds of getting into bed.

    At three AM I was wide awake. My room was among a half dozen or so situated along a wide terrace facing the bay. I took my cigarettes out to this terrace, found a comfortable chair next to a thick potted palm tree of some kind, and sat, to smoke and look down at the bay and the dark Pacific beyond until I felt I could fall back to sleep. Before I could light up, I heard the crash of glass on tile floor quite nearby, followed immediately by the voices, at first constrained and then getting louder, of a man and a woman arguing. A moment later, the young blonde woman from the restaurant came out of the room two doors down, stepped quickly to the terrace’s sturdy wooden railing and began vomiting over it. Her husband, or boyfriend, or whatever he was, came out and put his hand on her shoulder, but she shook it off violently. She was wearing a thin cotton robe or wrap, knee length, which she had been holding closed while she retched. It came loose when she shook off the man’s hand, and I could see a breast exposed, and a portion of soft, beautifully rounded abdomen, before she pulled it tight again.

    Leave me alone, she said. I’m leaving tomorrow.

    What about your share? the man asked. He was wearing jeans and no shirt, his hairless, sculpted arms and chest bathed in moonlight.

    The woman did not answer. She pulled her wrap even closer, then she turned and looked my way. I was in deep shadow and had not lit my cigarette, so I was pretty sure she couldn’t see me. I could see her face full on now. She was very beautiful. I stared at her. Your share of what, I said to myself?

    Fuck you, she said, then turned and stepped past the man and into their room. He followed and pulled the door shut behind him.

    I waited a moment or two, then lit up. And listened. But all was quiet. Like the scene I had just witnessed had never happened.

    Mexico, I thought, Mexico.

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James LePore is author of ‘A World I Never Made’, ‘Blood of My Brother,’ ‘Sons and Princes,’ ‘Gods and Fathers,’ and ‘The Fifth Man.  He currently lives in Salem, NY and is collaborating with screenwriter Carlos Davis on  his sixth novel. Click here to visit his website.

Plan B From My Inner Space!

Backstory: In the 60’s, the powerhouse Top 40 music station in New York City, and most of the east coast, was 77 WABC. Although its studios were on 6th avenue in New York City, its transmitter ‘shack’ was knee deep in a swamp in the Jersey Meadowlands. The highest power transmitter allowed by law, 50,000 watts, created an RF electrical field so powerful that “fluorescent lights” in the shack never went off, they were always on, even if unplugged, they just glowed naturally from the intense power in the air. However, the balanced AAA class phone lines that connected the studios to the shack, were the weak link in the chain. So off in the corner, sat a solitary tape machine with two giant 10-inch metal reels loaded and waiting for somebody to push “Play”

On that tape was the incomparable Dan Ingram playing records and talking them up just like always, except from time to time he’d say, “If you are hearing me now it means we were almost off the air.” It was a Standby Tape, ready to fill the airwaves until the problem was fixed.

Here now, for similar reasons, let’s delve into for lack of a better word “authoring.”

vectorstock_267I hate writing. I’ve always hated it. Always tried to avoid it. Looked for ways to escape it. A root canal was always a more appealing option than writing. So naturally I became an author.

Here’s the secret: I still hate writing. But I love authoring. Authoring is a multifaceted discipline of which the actual act of writing is a vehicle to achieve the end. To me an author is the strategic planner, the visionary, the god of the universe the he invents. Writing on the other hand is tactical, trapped within the lines the author has proscribed. Writing is the last part of my authoring process. In fact, I talk a story to death, long before I write it. I see the situations long before I type Chapter One. I feel the character’s loves, hates, desires and fears long before I commit them to words. In fact, I once went at a story like a buzz saw. Zipping out page after page, fueled by an incipient scene and a few fragments of dialog. I was going to beat the band.

But then the Author had a problem. I went too fast, went tactical too early. I ran out of motivation. My motivation, once I encapsulated the dynamics of the story that had fueled me, was out and now committed to prose, I stopped.

Couldn’t write. Didn’t want to.
Found every excuse not to. Then it hit me. My writer stopped because my author didn’t fully create the story. Without authoring there could be no writing. So there you have it, the dilithium crystal (Star Trek reference) of my impulse-writing engine revealed. Ultimately my books may be good or they may suck, that is in the opinion of the reader and beyond my control, but my process is always hot, energetic, sexy, breathless and satisfying… as long as that f**king author (or I should say king author…me) does his job first!

Writing by the numbers

numbers-721046Okay, I know I should know this, I know I know the answer.  Still, I am just trapped.  I am trapped at 65,000 words –and I have opened up every contraction I can find!  But still, I am well under the commonly accepted, off the cuff answer to how long a novel should be – 80,000 words*

The * means this is the most averaged answer I get.   Enter Voltaire, who famously wrote an apology to some king, sometime long ago, when the cutting edge of writing was the feather quill processor, this preamble to his letter has guided me in writing ever since I heard it.  He said, and I am paraphrasing, “Please excuse the length of this letter, I did not have time to write a shorter one.”

The literary lesson I derived from that is the value of the economy of words is hard won, using less words takes longer to write, especially if you hold the standard of not sacrificing the quality.  Now I know that Creative Writing 101 is not about efficient communication, but art. But what if economy is art of a kind. What if seven pages of didactic description, although certainly one way to write, and if done well, holds the reader at the interest point, isn’t the only way to accomplish the same literary effect, what if it can be done in one page? Or one paragraph?  Does the word/page count diminish its value or story value.

Here the movie Mozart enters the discussion. Specifically the scene where the Emperor, having reviewed Mozart’s score for an opera he was looking for royal approval of, indicates his dislike of the work because, “It has too many notes!”

Mozart says in his defense, there are neither too many or too little notes but just the right amount.”

So even a ‘hack’ like Mozart was held to some kind of word/note count scrutiny.  So maybe I’m in good company.  But then sleep beckons, but is never attained as I toss and turn wrestling with the question, is the story perfect, as it is in 65,000 words, or is it not a big enough story to be a book? Maybe a story that can spew 80 – 100 thousand words without thinking, without spending too much time with Voltaire’s quill, is the desirable “throw weight” for a manuscript. Anything less is seen as just  not having gravitas by the Emperors that be.

Believe me, I know writing is hard, and requires a certain kind of courage, faith and discipline.  I have written books that landed at the right word count, some even needed editing down prior to publishing. It is not the work of expanding or adding scenes, characters, narrative or exposition that is the issue here. I spend just as much time writing a short 65,000 as I would a 90,000 piece. I just don’t know if this current work needs the extra ink.

By the way, typing these lines makes this blog exactly 500 words long.

Surfing the Point of Interest

Avitabile - Surfing the point of interestThe Point of Interest is the ‘edge of a seat’, the energy that starts to ‘turn the page’ before the last sentence of the one being read is complete, it’s the ‘Shhhh’ when an engrossed member of the audience doesn’t want to be distracted by someone talking in a theater. If as the writer you create enough points of interest then together they define a wave. If we are good at what we write then the reader becomes the surfer catching the edge of that wave, constantly being supported and moved along in perfect balance along the leading edge, as the plot roils below them. At that moment the surfer, as well as the reader, is totally involved, totally focused on continuing the ride for as long as they can, totally attuned to the story. One of my observations on art, literature, film and all things theatrical, is that they play out in the extreme reaches of reality and human existence.

A story that does not approach the outer edge of a human situation holds less drama. (because we surf at the edge of the wave) There is no drama in washing socks, but there is drama in washing the socks on Mars in a sonic washing machine that’s powered by a thermonuclear reactor – because we’ve taken a common, everyday chore and we’ve pushed it to an extreme. To hold an audience, reader or listener at the point of Interest we must strive to drive all characters, all plot lines all narrative to approach the extremes of the human condition or extremes in behavioral patterns.

So when you’re looking for that MacGuffin, when you’re looking for that thing that the story seems to be about but isn’t, it’s very tempting to go to an extreme, somewhere outside the norm that lies just beyond what reasonable people would think of, consider or accept. It’s in this area where you get to write the rules, it’s in this area where you get to bring the readers to a place where they haven’t been before. Is that the primary part of any story? Maybe not the whole story, but it’s certainly one of the guardrails of the plot. That unchartered territory can be internal within a character, in their deepest darkest recesses or external to the character, where the world or environment forces dramatic action.

So in my fourth book, I have a plot that deals with an aspect of human trafficking. However, the notion of an entire underground economy, complete with an international infrastructure, designed to force people into indentured servitude, slavery or out and out sexual exploitation is already an extreme place to write about, but a general awareness of this horrible endeavor is out there and somewhat known in our culture. Therefore, going back to my rule, I’ve picked up on a particular part of human trafficking, which is not pretty much on anybody’s radar. It is the extreme of the extreme, an aspect not generally known. The question is: Is it too far? Is it so far out there as to be beyond the willing suspension of belief? Will it cause my reader to wipeout and lose the edge of the wave? 

That’s a big challenge that I’m struggling with right now in book four, The Devil’s Quota

AvitabileTom Avitabile
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It’s Only Fiction til it Mappens!!!

Avitabile, It's Only Fiction til it MappensI am blessed to have a first class mastermind group which guides me in my writing. Experts from many fields who help me stay within the lines as I color the with science in my books. The early warning tip I received on a government initiative to map the human brain, which follows the plot of my first book, The Eighth Day, was something I didn’t report because it was told to me in confidence from someone inside. I only released it when a small announcement was made in NY Times on Feb 17 2013. Today, the President is announcing the multi-million dollar program at the White House. So I thought I could re-map the original blog below, because as you have seen, It’s Only Fiction ‘Til It Happens.
From the book, The Eighth Day:

Doctor Janice Tyler-Hiccock to the President of the United States, James Mitchell:

“No, Sir, but I am talking about the total remapping of the human brain to a level and specificity that, yesterday, I would have told you was two to three centuries away. … The creator of this program has the ultimate blueprint and can go anywhere and do anything inside the human brain.”

“That’s a frightening prospect, Doctor.”

From the New York Times Feb. 17, 2013, the current President of the United States.

“Obama Seeking to Boost Study of Human Brain”

Once again, “It’s only Fiction ‘til it Happens” is confirmed. In my first book, The Eighth Day, the mapping of the human mind presented a very frightening series of consequences.  This recent Presidential initiative, the “Brain Activity Map” project, a national effort, like the Race to the Moon, will only bring more energy to the quest.

Of course, the novelist in me, back when I first ‘made this up’ and now that it’s being seriously considered needs to ask, “What of the unintended consequences?”

In Eighth Day, the first test of the Mapping and subsequent mind control it lead to, was the subliminal slanting of a Presidential Election!  Hmm?   Nah!

Even if the “Brain Activity Map” project is totally benign in its intent, can we be sure the human minds that attain that knowledge will be equally benign? How much data will be shared with other governments and factions around the world who might like a shorter distance between indoctrination and devotion. And don’t get me started with Madison Avenue.

Those who have read Eighth Day might be quick to point out, “Oh Tom, you’re just reaching here. In your book it was a machine. Here, in real life, it’s just a study!” To those who point that out I say, “Yes, you’re right.”

Or… maybe not. Especially when you read later on in the Times Article,

‘The Obama initiative is markedly different from a recently announced European project that will invest 1 billion euros in a Swiss-led effort to build a silicon-based “brain.” The project seeks to construct a supercomputer simulation using the best research about the inner workings of the brain.’

Okay, now, even I’m scared… and I “wrote the book!”

Click here to watch a video or click here to read more about this wonderful new initiative.

Don’t Forget to Wash Your Hands

“It looks like it’s shaping up to be a bad flu season, but only time will tell.”

– Dr. Thomas Frieden, National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Tom Avitabile  |  The Hammer of GodIn The Hammer of God, the inciting incident of the book is a flu vaccine shortage which is caused by nefarious forces overseas, resulting in half the number of vaccinations necessary to guard the public.

That is step one of a two-step biological attack; take away the first line of defense – which would be the flu vaccine. Then the second part of the attack was to unleash a really nasty airborne bug on the public. So the bad guys weren’t contaminating the flu vaccine to be their vehicle to do harm. They contaminated the supply to take it off the market.

This created a situation, in my book, where during the onset of the attack, people had symptoms that mimicked the flu – and no one suspects anything is awry. The airborne bug’s dormant stage lasts five to six days, taking the world by surprise when the infected take an extreme turn for the worse and people start to die.

It seems like we should be very cognizant of foreign suppliers producing this and other vaccines because their production and distribution lines might be interrupted more easily.

Of course, this being a book about my hero, he thwarts the attack. The mastermind is arrested and becomes a bargaining chip in the escalated terror plot to follow. But the groundwork is there in the story; this is a weak pressure point in the threat matrix aimed at this country.

I am confident in the safeguards that had somebody tried to manipulate or add something nasty to the flu vaccine, it would set off alarm bells and triggers. The far greater insidious plot device is simply to render us unprotected and willing to accept high numbers of infections as the new normal – when in fact it’s anything but. It is the start of an attack.

Remember: wash your hand often.

Blogscript

ABC has decided to cancel my absolute, all-time favorite show: The Last Resort.

When you read The God Particle you’ll see one of my main characters is the USS Tom Avitabile | The God ParticleNebraska – a trillion dollar missile boat (luckily on our side). That’s why I am so distraught over the cancelling of this series, whose main star is the USS Colorado, the sister ship of the Nebraska.

Besides I looove the dialogue…to the point where I say “Damn, I wish I would have written that!”

Please take a moment and email ABC. Tell them to keep the Last Resort afloat.

My Internal War on Woman… Defending my inner female

In a discussion with a friend, I was relating an aversion I was having about pushing for an answer from a Hollywood Studio that is currently considering my third book, The God Particle, as a potential big budget blockbuster.

Now, truth be told, this whole adventure started much like the nine other phone calls that were going to change my life. In every prior case, I was fearless, I aggressively followed up, I dared to ask uncomfortable questions, to probe the true dynamic in play. With this drummed up courage and “damn the torpedoes” attitude I went full speed ahead, braced and buttressed against the disappointing news that eventually came. But the stinging barbs of “oooo so close” and “We love it but…” bounced off me like bullets off Superman.

But not this time! This time I am filled with apprehension. Dreading the phone, not wanting to tempt fate, or anger the Gods. It is a very uncomfortable place for me to be. But the question is why? Why this time, why this manuscript? (the others were mostly screenplays). At first I thought the answer to be self-evident… Age! As you get older you get… well, soft. You become tired of the bumps and bruises you never noticed before. But that didn’t quite fit. During this same time I have put my butt on the line for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of production and media time, by taking on projects with impossible goals and deadlines. I have relished the challenge. Never shrinking away but embracing the opportunity to perform beyond 100% and prove to myself that I can adapt, innovate and overcome any situation, in life and in business.

So why the timid, little boy, “scaredy-pants” act over this book? Over this tenth “life changing” opportunity? What is different?

Then it hit me. Everything I have done before was in my wheelhouse. Part of my success was always assured by the fact I was only playing on home-fields, at games I had a chance at winning. These were situations where I was in control of all the elements, and confident in the product.

Ahhh but this story is my first, full-fledged jump into the life, psyche and thought patterns of a female! Specifically my FBI agent turned Quarterback Group Operative, Brooke Burrell. At first I thought this was a kind of starter kit into the female mystique, in that I already had a good character base for her developed over two books, where she not only grew into her character, but into her life. And the safety rail for me was, she was in a traditionally male line of work, she had to interface and meld into the workplace mindset. Therefore, if I went too heavy male in her actions or motivations, I felt and hoped the reader would allow it, as her reacting to a male dominated environment. Easy to write a woman in that context! Piece of Cheesecake.

However, then she was always a supporting character. Therefore, I could, by reflection in the other characters, define her. It was my choice to go as deep as I wanted or leave it to the observation of the other characters to fill in the blanks.

Now, Brooke is the main character of my third book with my usual main characters taking a more supportive role. Many times in the story there isn’t anyone around to reflect off of, so I have to go inside her. It’s scary in there! I adhere to the adage, “You are a piece of all the characters you write.” So hello Brooke, welcome to my inner female. Not much organic female development in here within me, so my external observations of females have to be reversed tracked into the woman I am defining, creating motives and histories; impulses and predilections that become the cause that affects her behavior.

When writing about her, I can throw the world at her, and make her deftly respond, win, lose or draw. But going into her being, writing “her,” needs a feminine map with symbols and marks on it that most males are genetically incapable of reading.

So that’s it. That’s the fear. If they decide to make the movie, that would be nice, but if not, nothing changes, no big deal. But the reason for my nail biting apprehension, however, is the fear of them saying, “SHE doesn’t work for us.” Or worse, “you wrote a guy with breasts!”

Well, Brooke is all written now, she’s out there in the big world, I hope I have given her all the attributes of character and flaws of humanity that make her a compelling figure, but like most fathers, I pray that I just made her a good woman.

Marginal Notes on Benghazi

On page 130 of my novel, The Hammer of God, the Ambassador to Egypt is kidnapped. This becomes the center issue of a dramatic debate, which is, I am sure, as old as terror and as fresh as yesterday:  Do you negotiate with terrorists?

As I was writing the scenes that take place in the Oval Office, the words got heated between the Secretary of State and the President. Both entrenched in their diametrically opposed positions, with the President not wanting to accede to the kidnapping and thereby instantly create an open season on US Ambassadors worldwide, while the Sec State wanted some back channel trade to release a mastermind terrorist that America was holding – in a super-max in the middle of the country.  To help me keep the beats of this ethical dilemma straight, I made a note: “The President is saving all future Ambassadors, the Sec State is trying to save the current one.”  This sub-textual motivation helped me keep the arguments between my characters aligned.

Yesterday, I was cleaning my desk, and found my notes from the blog I wrote, “Benghazi and Impotence”. Posted on September 15, 2012, when I ran across something that, even though I had seen, had no meaning on Sept. 15th but I believe does today.  I will attempt to retype it as I wrote it in marginal chicken-scratch of my early 2010 draft of my novel (pictured below).

The writing process: Plot twists and chicken-scratch.

“DS inside plot SS .  Take Amb, trade Sheik, back ch.  B&R disobey ‘unmolest’. Start real FF w/Friendlies.” Bring back CS to unc? Does JeA have GF?”

Okay, so that’s how I really write (misspellings and all) and it even took me a minute to decipher what I jotted down two years ago, here’s the handy-dandy index:

DS inside Plot SS – The kidnapping of the Ambassador was a plot hatched within the Diplomatic Security Service at the Direction of the Sec State. The plan was to force to force a back channel, out-of-the-news prisoner exchange of the Ambassador for a terrorist mastermind Sheik who was caught and held in America.

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