Communion Of Dreams


We are men of action, lies do not become us.*

We’re all adults here. Let’s be frank: unless something fairly remarkable and unlikely to the point of ridiculous happens, the Kickstarter isn’t going to succeed.

And that’s OK.

Seriously, it was a good effort, and I’ve learned a fair amount from the experience. I still think that Kickstarter is a worthwhile model, and I intend to continue to support other projects on it in the future. Who knows, at some point I may attempt to do another project myself.

But for now, it is time to draw some conclusions about the current project and move on.

First and foremost, as I’ve said all along I greatly appreciate all those who tangibly showed their support for my writing with backing the Kickstarter. Really, folks, that means a hell of a lot to me.

Next: because of the way Kickstarter is structured, I had some minor problems setting up my project the way I would have wanted. I accepted these limitations and have no regrets, but I think that it made for a weaker presentation that I initially planned. I may get more into the nuts & bolts of this in the future.  I may not.

But if come 9:00 PM this evening the Kickstarter hasn’t been funded, then I am no longer bound by those limitations. And in the coming days you’ll see some big changes on the Communion of Dreams and St. Cybi’s Well websites. I’m not going to get into all the changes now, but you’ll see options to order an advance copy of the new novel at an attractive discount. And ways you can reserve one of a very limited edition run of both Communion of Dreams and St. Cybi’s Well and have those books bound the way you want — even reserving your edition number on a first come, first served basis. With payment plan options. Some of the higher-end premium ‘rewards’ will still be available, as well.

So, it’s been a fun experiment, and I again say thanks to all who came along for the ride. But there’s more than one way reach my goal, and I think this other path will offer some interesting advantages. I hope at least some of you will agree.

Cheers!

Jim Downey

*Of course. And since YouTube didn’t have a clip of the scene that quote comes from, have some appropriate music instead.



Bad timing.

Just a quick note — there seems to be a glitch in the system at Amazon, and the Kindle edition of Communion of Dreams hasn’t gone to “promotion” yet this morning. I’m trying to get it resolved, but it may not happen today.

Which kinda sucks in terms of timing, since this is the closing day of the Kickstarter.

Not that it would likely make the difference between success & failure for the Kickstarter — we’ve just got too far to go to cover it today. But I take a certain pride in closing down things ‘cleanly’ and on a positive note, insofar as possible, and offering Communion of Dreams on promo had been part of that. Ah well, these things happen, and you just have to roll with them the best you can.

So, if you were intending on helping promote the Kickstarter today, and touting Communion of Dreams being available for free as part of that — at least hold off on the latter part for now. If I get things sorted out early enough, we can still offer it for free through the end of the Kickstarter. If not, then we’ll schedule another “make-up” day soon.

Thanks!

 

Jim Downey



With a Little Help from My Friends*

 

 

What would you do if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me.

You’d certainly be entitled to do so, though my wife assures me that my singing isn’t nearly as bad as I usually make it out to be.

The truth is, singing is something I have always wanted to avoid, because it generally implies a public performance aspect. And, frankly, I find that frightening enough that I usually try and limit it to things I feel more confident about.

 

Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song,
And I’ll try not to sing out of key.

This is key: pleasing an audience.

That doesn’t mean always giving them what they want. Rather, I think, it means satisfying them that you have given them fair value. For their time. Perhaps for their money.

Long ago I learned that no matter what, you can never please everyone. But if you set your goal that you give them fair value — an honest effort, based in real training and preparation, generally people will be satisfied. I *haven’t* spent time learning to sing, or play an instrument, so I don’t offer those things to an audience with any expectation that they will pay any attention to me. I *have* spent a lot of time and put a lot of effort into trying to learn to write, so I am comfortable in offering my words in a public transaction of fair value.

 

Oh I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm,I get high with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends.

We’re in the closing hours of the Kickstarter for St. Cybi’s Well. It’ll end tomorrow evening.

And I don’t know whether it will achieve the funding goal. Right now, it doesn’t look promising.

But that doesn’t mean it would be a failure. Hardly. For each and every person who has stepped forward and made a pledge to back the Kickstarter, that is an affirmation that my efforts at writing have been judged successful. That means more to me than I can ever convey.

Thank you.

Jim Downey

*Yes, The Beatles. Though Joe Cocker also did a great cover of it. And thanks to my friend ML who suggested this song a couple days ago in a comment. And remember, tomorrow Communion of Dreams will be free for download all day – spread the word.



Deuces are wild.

* * * * * * *

I liked “The Day After Tomorrow.”

No, not the movie. Gah.

Rather, I’m talking about the initial name for the Heinlein novel we now know as Sixth Column. I always figured that the trick of inventing a religion (one of the major plot devices of the book) gave L. Ron Hubbard inspiration. It’s not one of Heinlein’s best works — hardly — and you have to understand the blatant racism in the context of when it was written. But it’s decent pulp science fiction.

* * * * * * *

RAWHIDE:
	Look, uh... we've got the overthruster, 
        but somebody shanghaied the Professor 
        right from the press conference.

BUCKAROO BANZAI:
	Ohhh... the deuce you say.

Gotta love Buckaroo. Text from here.

* * * * * * *

And they think it will make their lives easier
For God knows up till now it’s been hard
But the game never ends when your whole world depends
On the turn of a friendly card
No the game never ends when your whole world depends
On the turn of a friendly card

Two days remaining. It ends the day after tomorrow. $7,781 to go. Bluff, or fold?

Jim Downey

PS: Oh, yeah, the Kindle Edition of Communion of Dreams will be free all day on the final day of the Kickstarter. Let everyone know. Thanks.



Trinity.

Did you know that the first atomic bomb test was called Trinity?

* * * * * * * *

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained” they said
So you played for the winner takes all
And tossed the dice high up and craned your head
To see how the numbers would fall

Al Stewart, Midas Shadow

* * * * * * *

When we first see her …

… it’s clear that we’ve disappeared down the rabbit hole.

Trinity.

* * * * * * *

The old/young man smiled. “You have a glimpse of it.”

“Of?”

“The truth. Or what your mind can grasp of it.” The figure was standing beside the glowing burl. He reached down and seemed to scoop up a handful of the tholin, then lifting it, allowed it to flow from one hand to the other, a gloopy, glowing blue mass.

“You have a glimpse of it. Now, what will you do?”

Instinctively, Jon reached out and put his hand under the flowing tholin, felt its warmth pour into his palm, and settle there, waiting. “You said before that there wasn’t much time. What is going to happen?”

“I cannot see the future. But I can see more deeply into the present than others. Things are . . . changing.”

Chapter 15 of Communion of Dreams.

* * * * * * *

Did you know that the first atomic bomb test was called Trinity?

On Monday morning July 16, 1945, the world was changed forever when the first atomic bomb was tested in an isolated area of the New Mexico desert. Conducted in the final month of World War II by the top-secret Manhattan Engineer District, this test was code named Trinity. The Trinity test took place on the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range, about 230 miles south of the Manhattan Project’s headquarters at Los Alamos, New Mexico. Today this 3,200 square mile range, partly located in the desolate Jornada del Muerto Valley, is named the White Sands Missile Range and is actively used for non-nuclear weapons testing.

And did you know that there was more than a little debate among the scientists working on the Manhattan Project about what would happen with the test?  Yeah, seriously — they weren’t sure:

The observers set up betting pools on the results of the test.[28][29] Predictions ranged from zero (a complete dud) to 45 kilotons of TNT, to destruction of the state of New Mexico, to ignition of the atmosphere and incineration of the entire planet. This last result had been calculated to be almost impossible,[17][18] although for a while it caused some of the scientists some anxiety. Physicist I. I. Rabi won the pool with a prediction of 18 kilotons.[30]

It worked:

Three days remaining on the Kickstarter. Will it work?

I’m still craning my head to see how the numbers will fall.

Jim Downey



Fab Four.*

Just four fabulous days left until the end of the Kickstarter.

Fabulous?

Yeah, I love this time of year. I like the somewhat cool weather, the changing of the leaves, everything.

And while there’s a considerable ways to go before the Kickstarter is successful, it has been an educational and enlightening experience. As I have tried to convey to those who so far have backed the Kickstarter, I appreciate their vote of confidence, tangibly conveyed by their pledges. The amounts pledged mean much less to me than the fact that they have taken the time and energy to do so.

Join them if you can.

Jim Downey

*Oh, yeah, these guys. Specifically, this.



Quintessence.

“V”, it is said, is for “victory.”

It’s also for Vendetta.

No, it’s not for that dreadful miniseries. Or the TV series. Gah. Why did you have to remind me of that???

It’s also for “5“. As in Babylon. As in the number of days remaining in my Kickstarter.

And as in elements. I think this Fifth Element bit says it best:

Yes, some things *are* worth saving.

Jim Downey



Sexy, poly, or hyper?

Weird little trivia bit: I was born with six toes on my left foot.

No, really. Six toes. Which is a fairly uncommon condition known variously as polydactylism or hyperdactylism. Personally, I prefer to think of it as being sexy — from the Latin.

What’s even more unusual about this, is that in my case it wasn’t just a little fleshy lump of a toe. Nope. It was complete with bones and joints — including a complete extra metatarsal structure. Which I still have, though they removed the toe itself when I was a few weeks old. This factoid has been known to get some podiatrists entirely too excited.

So, yeah, I’m some kinda mutant. Just a weird little bit of trivia to share on this Day Six of our Countdown.

Jim Downey



Nous.

All my adult life I’ve suffered from chronic blepharitis — usually mild, with occasional annoying flare-ups.

* * * * * * *

“A lot of would-be professional writers dream of someday getting a book contract that includes an advance: enough money, paid up front, to let them quit their day job and write full time. Of course those advances do come with an expectation that an author will actually write the book. The Penguin Publishing Group recently filed suit against a dozen authors who failed to produce manuscripts after getting advances.”

That’s the intro to an NPR story which ran this morning. It’s worth listening to if you haven’t heard it, for the statements of clueless entitlement from some of the authors involved if nothing else.

I heard about this story when it first made the rounds a couple of weeks ago. I considered writing about it then, but I had just launched my Kickstarter, and I didn’t want to come across as having sour grapes or whining about the large advances  celebrity authors can command from the conventional publishing houses.

But seriously, this stuff is nuts. Who in their right mind would think that you could sign a contract for $325,000 with a $81,250 advance, and then not provide a manuscript for six years? I mean, I know that publishing is ‘broken’ , but that’s ridiculous — from both sides of the equation.

* * * * * * *

And speaking of Jane Austin (see link just above), another interesting story this morning on NPR is worth consideration:

A Lively Mind: Your Brain On Jane Austen

At a recent academic conference, Michigan State University professor Natalie Phillips stole a glance around the room. A speaker was talking but the audience was fidgety. Some people were conferring among themselves, or reading notes. One person had dozed off.

Phillips, who studies 18th- and 19th-century literature, says the distracted audience made something pop in her head. Distractability is a theme that runs through many novels of Jane Austen, whom Phillips admires. It occurred to Phillips that there was a paradox in her own life when it came to distractability.

“I love reading, and I am someone who can actually become so absorbed in a novel that I really think the house could possibly burn down around me and I wouldn’t notice,” she said. “And I’m simultaneously someone who loses their keys at least three times a day, and I often can’t remember where in the world I parked my car.”

Phillips decided to investigate this, setting up an experiment where she had people read passages from Austin while in a functional MRI scanner. She set it up so that the readers were supposed to either just be ‘browsing’ the text, or to be fully devoting their attention to it.

What did she find?

Well, first, this was just a limited study, and the results are preliminary. And there are problems with trying to use fMRI to pin-point what portions of the brain are involved in cognition.

But what is interesting is that when the readers were fully engaged — devoting their entire attention to the passages in deep reading — their entire brain seemed to be activated.

I think anyone who has ever completely lost themselves in a book will find this hardly surprising. And, as an author who attempts to completely paint a realistic ‘world’ for people to enjoy in my novels, it’s heartening to know that science seems to back up personal experience.

* * * * * * *

All my adult life I’ve suffered from chronic blepharitis — usually mild, with occasional annoying flare-ups.

This next bit is a little gross. My apologies.

Typically, when I have a flare-up of my blepharitis, a few days of warm compresses and some antibiotic ointment take care of it. But this latest round has proven to be a bit more of a hassle.

A couple of weeks ago I felt like I got a bit of something stuck in the orbit of my left eye. Probably a small eyelash or flake of skin — this has happened before. It’ll work its way out eventually. And I think this morning it did, because there was a small gloopy bit of pus which I fished out from under my lower lid.

Like I said, a bit gross. Sorry.

But it’s a natural reaction of the body, and I suspect that now the blepharitis will clear up with the usual treatment.

And as I was taking care of this this morning, I was thinking about the next book. I’m doing this a lot, lately. As it notes on the brief blurb about St. Cybi’s Well, the main character is dealing with an eye disease which threatens his career when the book starts. I don’t want to get into too much detail, but I have very specific reasons for why this is, and what it means for the overall story line (including what plays out in Communion of Dreams). There is a long tradition in literature and mythology about the symbolism of a character who has eye problems, and a lot of that comes into play.

But I couldn’t help but note my own connection in this way, and how sometimes it might be a bit overdoing-it to so completely manifest what is happening in my own mind’s eye.

Jim Downey

T-minus seven days.

 



In a Jungian frame of mind.*

Today is October 8th.

October used to be the 8th month. That it is now the 10th month played havoc with my mind when I was a kid, since I knew damned good and well that “octo” meant “eight”. It wasn’t logical. It didn’t make sense. This may well have been my first conscious awareness that reality was kinda screwed-up. Seriously.

It is also, as it happens, day 8 in our little count-down. No, I didn’t plan it that way.

At least not consciously.

So, that brings us to this:

Have a good Monday.

 

Jim Downey

*Just in case. And yeah, Jung’s ideas run all through my fiction. Obviously.