Sunday, December 21, 2014

Lifeline - Chapter 1

NOTE: I am very excited to announce that Founders House Publishing has just published Lifeline!!

You can order the book for $19.99 (or ebook for $6.99) from:

Thanks to all who read it! I appreciated all the helpful feedback.


  1. This is a great start, Cathy! I have a few comments, not even suggestions. (I'm an old tech writer and I like to have all the details right.

    There is a duplicated verb: ' "There were were so many "exceptions"...'

    Having worked in the cellular industry, I'm confused about how this guy could be selling in the boondocks - what type of stations he was trying to promote and how satellite played into it. For my technical mind it seems there is an incongruity about cellular. (How does having a satellite phone play with looking for installations?)

    Setting aside the nitpicking, the details seem plausible. I particularly like your presentation of the naïveté of your protagonist - needing pressed clothes, revulsion at the natural smells of nature. And yet he notices the subtle beauties of the natural world in dew and sunlight.

    I'll be checking back to read each chapter. Best wishes for continuing inspiration.

  2. Thanks, One0!
    I used to be a tech writer, too - thanks for catching the glitch. I have to dictate to the computer (severe arthritis of the spine means I can't type or mouse very long) and it's amazing what the computer thinks I'm saying. There may be more stupid mistakes in there - so holler if you see them.

    As you say - it's unlikely... and more will be revealed. Any ideas on how to keep a reader from tossing the book before they find the narrator doesn't know everything would be appreciated. It's a downside of "unreliable narrator" that the reader often thinks the writer is unreliable... and that may still be true - I'll be looking for comments about the logistics as well as the character development. But in a novel, it's a slower unfolding than short stories (which is why I'm bad at short stories). Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting and please check back!

  3. PS - For those who are trying to comment - I've been having a hellacious time, so please be persistent (or send me an email at cathy AT cathymcguire DOT com)... I have no idea why Google is being so glitch, but Explorer works better than Firefox...)

  4. What a post! It makes James Howard Kunstler's World Made by Hand seem like a church picnic on a field day. :^)

    I noticed New Yorkers are beginning to speak in proper English English (NOT a redundancy!) because the Transit Museum is now the Transport Museum.

    And BurgerMan, what's that? A name change by Burger King so they wouldn't lose all their Canadian customers after swallowing Tim Horton's? ;^)

    Excellent post, Cathy.

    1. Thanks, Ed-M -
      I appreciate the compliment! I do need to read that Kunstler book soon... I know NYers have their own lingo, as least they did when I lived there in the 70's ;-) Yes, the names of chains have been changed to protect the guilty. ;-)

    2. "I know New Yorkers have their own lingo"

      And a big OOPS on my part -- :blush: -- because it's in this post that New Yorkers have renamed the Transit Museum the Transport Museum, the latter being a proper British English term for public transportation. In our time 2014, however, it's still the Transit Museum.

      "To protect the guilty..." Exactly!

    3. Thank you - good point. It's more than likely due to brain fog on my part. ;-)

  5. Hi All- I like the truthy-gritty flavor. I want to read more, heh. When i worked at collins radio, we sold microwave tower links to ATT long lines for going over mountains. The sat fon in this story may be going down as satellites fail/decay orbits. A cellular module could be integrated into a tower's trans/rcvr as an incentive to the locals to defend it. Regards, rabble-babble

    1. Thanks, Sandy -
      Thanks for the technical tidbit - I've been searching the web for into re: satellite info, asking August our resident ham-op expert, and also found someone who is already thinking of turning cell phones into ham-op type rigs... so people are thinking of "what if" out there... fiction does allow one to choose what "has happened" but only within a "believability window" and I'm striving to keep within that.

  6. Yo, Cathy, Maid of Oregon; Take any of my suggestions with, not a grain of salt, but a pound.

    1.) An old guy with an I-Pad? I always think of that being a thing for the younger generation.

    2.) I think someone mentioned over at ADR that the gender of the narrator was a bit unclear. Writing out of gender or ethnicity is a whole can of worms. And, I think part of it is reader's (unreasonable) expectations. I kind of thought the story would be about a woman in Oregon. My silly expectations.

    3.) "Self gassed" is kind of clunky. "Boons?" JMG is a master at linguistic changes, but he's usually dealing with hundreds of years.

    4.) You might want to take a look at Stephen King's "The Stand." Unabridged. At least the early part as to how he handles people's individual stories as things unravel.

    5.) You need to brush up on your drug culture :-). The dinner scene. Most potheads are affected by the "munchies." Pot is appetite enhancer. Big time.

    Looks like a rip roaring yarn and I'm waiting for chapter 2.

    Off topic. Our shared sojourn in S. California. I worked in a bar in Seattle, and the folks that owned it opened a second bar in Orange County. So, I had a job waiting. I thought. It didn't pan out and I darn near starved to death. I also moved around a lot. Then I got a job working at a Walden Book Store down in Laguna Hills. That was in the early 70s the "golden" era of mall building. In less than a year, I had worked up to manager of a new store at the Westminster Mall.

    Luckily, about the same time I ran into two guys who had moved out from Ohio. One to be a bio-chem prof at UC Long Beach, the other a teacher. So, we banded together for mutual protection, venturing out to explore this thing called S. California. Talk about culture shock. We rented a house in Huntington Beach. Later, we moved to Long Beach. Which I liked. It had actual neighborhoods and a real "downtown." A sense of place.

    Like you, I missed the rain and the green. And the gas crisis scared the hell out of me. The things I saw in those gas lines ... But, there were a few nice things down there. I practically lived on the "free" beach at San Onofre. And when things got to be too much, I'd wander for hours around the grounds of the Mission San Juan Capistrano. Other than St. Josephs Day, when the swallows come back and the place is overrun with tourists, it was usually deserted. Lew

    1. Hi, Lewis -
      Thanks for the comments! Yes, the "old guy" would have been young during the crisis... and yes, I realize I didn't give folks enough info on the narrator. I added a sentence in the 2nd (3rd?) paragraph that has his name... now I have to figure how to squeeze a self-description in soon (always tricky! ;-)) Thanks for the recommendation of The Stand - I do like to read others' books for how they handle also shows me my own biases as I re-read my stories after reading theirs. On the pot - I had somewhat forgotten the munchies... but it seems the newer stuff is so potent that people are doing the opposite (I have some very skinny, very intoxicated neighbors, in any case...) I'll have to look at that one... and thanks for the word-choice comments; it is very tricky to move language forward without losing readers, and I need all the comments I can get about whether it worked.
      On S. Cal: I also lived in Huntington Beach at first (loved being near the beach!) and worked in Balboa Peninsula (oh, the traffic jams at rush hour!!) I certainly had gone to the Walden Books at Westminister - but probably after your time. During the gas crisis, I had the "good fortune" to be delivering the newspaper in the pre-dawn hours before college classes - that was also the year of the big winter innundation - definitely NOT fun! I've got some cool photos of the Mission - one of my favorite places to take photos!!

  7. Another thing I thought of. I don't know if you read much on the craft of writing, but the best I have found (or, at least the one I liked best and found the most useful) is Stephen King's "On Writing." Also, the author Rita Mae Brown had a book on the craft, many years ago. Title escapes me. "Starting from Scratch?" Any books on writing you recommend? Lew

    1. Oh - I'll check those out. My favorites are John Gardner's The Art of Fiction - I love the exercises he gives (and I think there's a free pdf on the web), and Damon Knight's Writing Short Fiction. Both very good on the technical details, although Gardner is aiming for literature and Damon for a good read. ;-)

  8. A new chapter will be posted tomorrow - stay tuned! :-)_

  9. Hi Cathy,

    I made it about 2/3rds of the way through the first chapter – last evening sitting out with the chooks - and some things jumped out at me. Again these are only suggestions as it is your story and I’m enjoying it:

    - There is very little dialogue in the first chapter. Instead your story relies on descriptive. I felt that it needed a bit more dialogue - but this is perhaps a personal preference.
    - There was perhaps not enough feeling of peril for my taste. I won a few games of pool in a small country town once long ago and to mend matters (angry feelings) thus purchased a six pack of quality beer to amend hurt feelings. It did much too smooth future problems. Your character seemed like he was oblivious to his surroundings.
    - It might not be a bad idea for someone else to describe your main character Martin indirectly especially as he was a gang member and thus highly resourceful and possibly quite Machiavellian. This is a powerful tool sometimes as it lends more weight than the character describing him and I was sort of left wondering who Martin is. Like what is he like?
    - Given that the meeting was the raison de entre for the journey in the first chapter why wouldn't you start with that?
    - Or perhaps to get a feel for Martin maybe an anecdote or tale from his youth early on in the story would give us a feel for who he is and what he is capable of? Just a brief glimpse into the character (My timelines are usually a bit more fluid than most writers and many people dislike that - but you don't need to follow a linear tale - flashbacks can be useful in setting a scene and vibe)
    - I didn't buy the rubba coat bit - I've never heard of anyone wearing rubber outside of a wetsuit. The old timers here used to have oil skins which I were a heavy cotton / denim impregnated with beeswax or other such wax - I used to remember it was called Dublin.
    - I couldn't get an easy feel for the weather. I'm left wondering what was happening with the climate - what did it feel like? You mentioned drizzle, but it didn't paint a picture for me - but then I might well have missed that too.

    I enjoyed the story and am looking forward to completing it and getting onto chapter 2. Well done, I struggle with writing fiction - you are more experienced than I, so please feel free to ignore any and all of my feedback as it is your story after all.



    1. Thanks for all the thoughtful comments, Chris! It's good to get some new eyes on the story. I will definitely consider what you've said. It's a challenge to write in different lengths - a short story has to unfold faster than a novel, but the novel has to build some real "hooks" to keep the reader going. I have a feeling you'll get more than your fill of dialogue as it goes on - sometimes I wonder if I should have written plays or screenplays, since I have to really focus to write description. But when starting a story that doesn't follow today's real timeline, it's so crucial to make that clear up front. I'm writing in 1st person, so having someone else describe him wouldn't work, but maybe I can get someone to ask him things, or put him in a situation to show it. Thanks for reminding me about oilskin... I'm trying to figure out which industries would be possible to keep or bring online after a crash. Real rubber would be out, but vinyl might still be possible for a while (they called it patent leather over here for a while, and naugahyde - I was hoping "rubba" would sound like a brand name - but I see how it just seemed misspelled.)

      BTW, just curious - why did you have to sit up with the chooks?

  10. Hi Cathy. Many thanks for the consideration. haha! The chooks can't free range unsupervised here because there are too many things trying to eat them.
    PS: I reckon putting him in a situation early on that shows the resourcefulness of gang life might just do the trick? Dunno.
    Cheers. Chris

  11. This is GOOD! Really grabs you right away and it is well written. I am already dreading coming to part 6 and having to wait.
    In non

  12. Awesome! I really enjoyed it. This tale as well.

    1. Thanks, Ien! I hope you and my other readers will be interested in the printed copy when it comes out. I'm so thrilled!! Along with a full length book of poetry coming out in October, my plate is so full! (Oh, also the hip replacement surgery in October - that, not so thrilling... )


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