Category Archives: Fans

It’s Not Your Normal Legacy, But At Least It’s Not A Stained Blue Dress

I’m not one of these guys who worries about leaving a legacy behind. I haven’t thought about it much at all. Maybe it’s my Christian outlook – I know I’ll keep going on the other side. Maybe it’s because two permutations of my own genes are already walking around on the planet, so I know I’ll be remembered for at least a few years after I’ve departed. I never really worried about my books being around forever, which is a good thing, since I’ve seen things like Ferman’s Devils being taken out of print before Boddekker’s Demons hit the book stores.

Still, I found out a short time ago that I do have an odd legacy floating around out there.

It seems that sometime during the late 80’s or early 90’s, there was a student who hated a teacher. Pretty typical story so far. We all have them.

Only this student decided to lash out. He remembered reading about a technique of harassment in a book, and after an afternoon at the library, carried out his plan. Soon the teacher was getting so many magazine subscriptions that the post office refused to deliver them – he had to come and pick them up.

The only flaw in this student’s plan was that he had an accomplice. Now, my father taught me early on that two men can keep a secret if one of them is dead. But this student did not know that. His accomplice got a little bit too self-congratulatory, and pretty soon the cover was blown. The student and his accomplice were caught and almost – but not quite – suspended from school.

Apparently, this little trick became the stuff of legend at the student’s school, because a few years later, after the student had departed, the same thing happened again – to the same teacher. And who knows – maybe every few years at this school a teacher of wrath becomes buried in periodicals.

By the way, the book in which this very clever student read about the harassment technique was called… The Company Man, by yours truly.

The reason I know about this is that the student recently emailed me and ratted himself out. I’m still trying to decide if I’m outraged or delighted. Call me bemused. And grateful that Andy Birch wasn’t a serial killer.

Meantime, this student has become very successful with his own business… delivering pizzas. If you haven’t read it, yes, delivering pizzas is an important thing in the Company Man universe. Although I know I can’t take credit for his career choice, the irony is certainly not lost on me.

As for me, I’ve found out that time is the best avenger. No, I’m not talking about foes getting old and dottery. For some reason, the kind of people that really rouse my ire are the kind that self-destruct. A boss who was less than ethical and treated me less than fairly and ended up firing me (although I might have deserved it – might have) later had his life uprooted when he was arrested for shoplifting something really, really stupid. And many years after I left town, my Teacher of Wrath spectacularly flamed out when he was caught in a compromising position with the teacher wife of another teacher – in a camper at the local fairgrounds.

Honestly. This is great stuff. If I wrote it into a novel, the editor would make me change it to something more believable.

The lesson? There are three. Time wounds all heels. Don’t get on my bad side. And Karma is a bad, bad mistress.


What Comes Next

By the time I got to the computer to write I was absolutely dead tired and didn’t want to start because What Comes Next is on the heels of writing that I originally Wasn’t Happy With, and I thought I was too weary to give it the strength it needed.

I don’t know what the deal is. Is it that I’m having trouble adjusting to winter this year? Perhaps I’m still dead tired after my stint as Santa Claus yesterday, over 600 visitors in four hours. Also, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been visiting the chiropractor because I messed my arm up while cementing the wall on the goat pen.

Maybe it’s just the cumulative effects of that, of the really bizarre dreams I was plagued with over the weekend, of the Holiday madness, and of visiting a sick friend in the hospital (I don’t do hospital visits well at all; I tend to get sick out of sympathy; I’m just not good at dealing with infirmity).

Aside from that, writing things are going well. More notes found their way into the Palm. At this rate, all I’ll have to do is write connecting sentences because everything else will be in place. I also received a double dose of good writing fortune.

First, I got the contracts that I need to sign and return to my agent for the Russian version of the Pembroke Hall novels. They’re interesting because they take up two columns of a page; the left is in the Roman alphabet (ours) and the right is Cyrillic.

Second, I received what may be my best fan e-mail ever, which said: I love this book, ‘Handling It’. I have to say, I have never read a book other than a book I needed to read for school or something. This book has inspired me to start reading other books, but none have ever been as good as this one.

I always enjoy the fan mail I’ve gotten in the past, where people say they were late for work or stayed up late because they wanted to finish one of my books. But to be told that I actually influenced someone to take reading more seriously? Not only is that flattering… it’s also a little scary. My new fan also asked for suggestions on more things to read, and Mark Twain was on the list, along with some contemporary stuff that was thematically similar to the PH novels.

There’s another new addition to the Relevant section off to the left: OneWord. It forces you to take a cue from Sean Connery’s character in Finding Forrester: “Don’t think… WRITE!” It does this by prompting you with one word and then giving you sixty seconds to write about it. When the clock runs out, your keyboard freezes and you go to another screen, where you can post your results for all to see, plus view what others have done.

Naturally, I tried it out. But I didn’t feel like posting it at OneWord. Instead, I thought I’d share what I did here.

Today’s prompt was Champion.

I wrote:

He raised his hands, listening to the roar of the crowd. it was his time, his moment. but wait, what was this? who was that coming? someone, he wasn’t sure? a woman? and what was that in her hand. And the look on her face. Why did it look so familiar? he didn’t know. he q

Okay, Shakespeare it ain’t. But you try writing and making a logical decision (not to capitalize the beginnings of sentences because using the caps key took too much time) in a mere 60 seconds. Seriously, try it. It’s quite a rush.

NP – Nothing; I just realized that I forgot to put on a CD. I must be tired.