It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

I had a very enjoyable time yesterday at Joe Scarborough's 20-Year Reunion for his campaign volunteers. Although after the campaign, several of us maintained contact the years he was in Congress -- especially we who worked in his district office -- there were folks there I had not seen since his first campaign, when he was a 30-year-old unknown with no political experience taking on Earl Hutto, a 16-year incumbent.

Had to look at name tags to recognize a few people...heck, ain't none of  us getting any younger. Had some laughs. Chatted with Joe's mom, shared  memories of her husband, George, who passed away several years ago. There were others no longer with us that brought home the passage of time. 

I got a big hug, three pecks on the cheeks and some nice words of welcome and remembrance from the former member of Congress and talk-TV host. I gave him an autographed copy of Southern Man. Noted the slight graying  at Joe's temples. Very distinguished looking, though in many ways, he still looks so much like that thirty-year-old who was inspired -- goaded? -- to run for Congress by the election of Bill Clinton, and the leftward lurch of the country afterward.

I left the Congressional office in 1998; worked for Joe at The Florida Sun for a while after that, and helped prepare the Congressional office for the incoming member, Jeff Miller, after Joe resigned. But basically, my interest in national politics ended with the Clinton impeachment hearings. If memory serves, I didn't vote in any presidential elections after that, until my vote for Mitt Romney in 2012, which wasn't so much a vote for the Republican candidate as it was a vote against the Democrat incumbent. My main reason for voting for Romney was my belief that he would be immensely better for the economy than Barack Obama.

Me and Joe, Back in the Day
Joe reminisced about the accomplishments of the 104th Gingrich-led Republicans in DC, and how the GOP has changed since then, giving rise to the Tea Party. But he says the country is strong and it will survive eight years of Barack Obama. I'm not so sure.  It would be interesting to know  his perspective, and why he thinks that. From where I sit, the USA is not only weak and growing weaker all the time -- it's culture, politics, religion and nearly every other aspect of its existence are practically unrecognizable.

Still, it was nice to see folks, and remember when we were younger, had boundless energy and  genuine hope for the country.

And  now, back to defending Dixie and writing books.

Trailer Mockup Revisions

It's getting there.  I've added some slow, Ken Burns-style pans and zooms. The models for Leslie, the PI, and the older brother have changed. They were chosen long ago, but the PI was depicted with papers but no computer, and as he relies heavily on the computer, I wanted one in the trailer.

Thanks to Tin Eye, I found him on a microstock site in a number of poses, including the one in this mockup. I found the older brother on my hard drive -- I had purchased the pic some time ago, never used it, and forgot about it. And Leslie -- this is the original Leslie model I chose when I started writing the story.



I originally found her on iStockphoto and downloaded a comp with the idea of using her in a video trailer if I ever finished the book (which was in doubt when I started writing, as the story was basically a lark, and I wasn't real serious about writing it).

When I recently went to iStockphoto to see how much the price had increased (they've priced themselves out of my price range, mostly), the photo ID on my original comp download turned up a "not found". So, I did a Tin Eye reverse image search, which not only found her at iStock, but also at several other microstock sites -- including 123RF, where I have a bunch of credits. She was not only there -- she was there in several poses -- and affordable!

The inspiration for Chris Dupree's appearance
When I started the story, the male lead was named Julian Walraven (a surname in my genealogy) but I wanted to save that for another story, so I renamed him Chris Dupree (he has some Cajun forebears, and is named after a South Louisiana Cajun I used to work with). His appearance was inspired by the actor Ryan Carnes, as he appeared in SyFy's The Phantom.

I haven't watched TV much since The X Files went off the air, but I saw a promo for The Phantom, and decided to watch it. During the mini-series, hubs filled me in on the Phantom backstory and said SyFy had really buggered it up (apparently fans of The Phantom were really pissed at the liberties taken in this production), but I enjoyed it and I thought Carnes was a cutie -- and a not-bad actor. I had never heard of him, so I Googled him and discovered he was a teen soap star; he's straight but portrays homosexuals in some of his movies. How unfortunate that he didn't choose to promote virtue and decency in his corner of the popular culture...

In any case, as cute as he is, I of course would not be able to use his likeness in a video trailer, so I was delighted to find this model. With a little help from my photo-editor, he makes a very credible Chris.

Left, stock photo model; right, Ryan Carnes in The Phantom.

Here are some of the video mockup frames, and images used to composite them:

 The storm clouds --

From Dreamstime Free

 The cryptids --

Images from Morguefile, Pixabay and/or the public domain

The crash --

Images from Morguefile, Pixabay and/or freebies

The Rescuer




These pics are all stock images except the duster and the truck. There are pics of men in dusters on the stock sites I use, but none are posed like I need them to be. If I can't find one by the time I'm ready to do the actual video, I'll contact the manufacturer of this duster and see if can use it (ditto the truck). I have emailed the company that makes the duster I used on the Catamount cover mockup, but have not heard back from them. Hope I have better luck with this one. With some commercial interests, you just never know. (I contacted Rawlings to seek permission to use an image of one of their catcher's helmets on the cover of Alex Austin, and they not only permitted it, but sent me a beautiful, print-resolution image to use.)

Creating Chris

I shortened and widened his face and mouth and added fullness to his hair above his ears. Also saturated his hair to be more yellow-blond rather than platinum blond, but it looks almost red, and needs to be desaturated a little. Chris is twenty-seven. (I've had critics tell me that he looks twelve....)

Chris, as Leslie sees him:
He entered the main room, opened up the armoire, which was filled with an impressive array of electronics, and trundled out a computer workstation. In silence, he pulled up a chair and sat down but as he powered up the computer he suggested, somewhat offhand, that she sit nearby.

She lowered herself onto straightback chair he  pulled up next to his and took the opportunity to study him.

He was not overly tall, probably an inch or two under six feet, but he was rangy, his muscles strong and hard but graceful and elongated. His neck, adorned with a gold chain that disappeared beneath his shirt, rose from wide, square shoulders.

His slender face was remarkably handsome. A bow-shaped upper lip was complemented by a barely prominent lower one, and he worked them slightly as he set about his task. Beneath thick, gullwing eyebrows, his gray-blue eyes took on a darker blue, depending on the lighting around him. A beautiful frame for his face, his his hair spiked outward from a symmetrical hairline with exquisite temporal points.

What happened to 'possible serial killer,' girl?

It was all she could do to pull her eyes away from him and focus on the computer screen.

Leslie

These are a few of several shos of thsi model at 123RF
Unfortunately, there are none of this woman in profile, so I had to use a similar looking model, but I think she'll do:
A frame in  the video --
Let's wrap up with a couple of promos from The Phantom miniseries. My favorite part --  "I'm not wearing that." Dorkiest part (did Carnes feel like an idiot saying this line?) -- "They call me the Phantom."



Trailer Mockup for Love in Smallfoot Alley

This is a mockup using low-rez comp images, which explains the watermark you see on some of them. I'm so happy I found a model who looks much more like Chris than the one I was using. I'm still looking for a model for Leslie.



Verona Vignettes -- An Online Snippet Collection

This is a collection of scenes and snippets from my Georgia Series that didn't make it into the novels for one reason or another. Some of them are actually new scenarios that are written specifically for this collection. I have no plans to make this collection into a book or e-book. I'm posting them online, mostly at Facebook, simply for my friends to enjoy.

This is the first one I posted at Facebook. Despite its being a rough draft, I got some very nice comments on it.







Child of God

Clad in a white baptismal robe, twelve-year-old Shelby Kincaid stood at the top of the steps leading down into the water and listened to the soft singing of the choir and congregation coming through the arched opening of the baptistry.
I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world’s delight,
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.

I am resolved to go to the Savior,
Leaving my sin and strife;
He is the true One, He is the just One,
He hath the words of life.

I am resolved to enter the kingdom
Leaving the paths of sin;
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me,
Still will I enter in.

I am resolved, and who will go with me?
Come, friends, without delay,
Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit,
We’ll walk the heav’nly way.

I will hasten to Him,
Hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, greatest, highest,
I will come to Thee.
When the singing ended, Shelby carefully took the steps down into the baptistry, holding onto a slanted rail along the back wall. He felt the warm water slowly envelop him. It was supposed to represent the grave -- death and burial -- subjects that were normally macabre, occasions that were usually the cause of sorrow and mourning. Today, though, the symbolism of the ritual he was about to undergo took the morbidity out of such terms. Baptism represented the death and burial not of a person, but of a life of sin, and resurrection to a new life in Christ.

When he reached the bottom step, he put his hand in the outstretched hand of Pastor Jordan, who was standing in the water waiting for him. Together they walked to the middle of the baptistry and the pastor turned to stand perpendicular to Shelby, whose eyes were fastened solemnly on the pastor's face.

"Shelby, you have been raised by Christian parents in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Now, at twelve years of age -- the same age as Our Lord when He reasoned with the elders in the Temple -- you have reached the age of accountability. You have acknowledged the need of salvation from the consequences of sin in your earthly life, and the Lord has worked repentance in your heart. Shelby, do you believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, that He came to earth as a human being, died for our sins on the cross of Calvary, and was raised so that we might have eternal life?"

Shelby was still gazing intently and solemnly at the pastor, and concentrating on every word. "Yes, sir, I believe."

"Then upon the spoken confession of the faith in your heart, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."

The pastor put his left hand on Shelby's upper back, between his shoulders. In his other, he held a folded handkerchief, and he poised his hand several inches from Shelby's face. He said softly, "Do you remember what to do?"

Shelby nodded. He took the pastor's forearm in both his hands and inhaled deeply. The pastor pressed the handkerchief against Shelby's nose and mouth and tilted him back into the water until he was completely submerged. Immediately, he lifted Shelby upright, and removed the handkerchief from Shelby's face.

The new babe in Christ blinked rapidly and wiped the water dripping into his eyes. He looked up at the pastor again and smiled broadly, the solemnity giving way to gladness. The pastor smiled back and then bowed his head. Shelby and the congregation followed suit.

"Our Father in Heaven," Pastor Jordan began, "we come to Thy throne now to thank Thee for the power of the gospel of Christ to save. We know there is rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents, and we believe there is rejoicing in Heaven at this moment over this, Thy child, Shelby Kincaid, who has come to Thee today. Keep him always in Thy care, Father, and may his life be joyously spent in Thy service. In the name of Thy Son and Our Savior, Jesus...Amen."

The singing began again as Shelby and Pastor Jordan made their way up the steps and into the changing rooms adjacent to the baptistry. Even back here, Shelby could faintly hear the music.
Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Trying to follow our Savior and King;
Shaping our lives by His bless├Ęd example,
Happy, how happy, the songs that we bring.

Pressing more closely to Him Who is leading,
When we are tempted to turn from the way;
Trusting the arm that is strong to defend us,
Happy, how happy, our praises each day.

Walking in footsteps of gentle forbearance,
Footsteps of faithfulness, mercy, and love,
Looking to Him for the grace freely promised,
Happy, how happy, our journey above.

Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Upward, still upward, we follow our Guide;
When we shall see Him, the King in His beauty,
Happy, how happy, our place at His side.

How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Stepping in the light, stepping in the light,
How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Led in paths of light.
He had chosen the hymns for his baptism, which was both a joyful and solemn occasion. The hymns he chose weren't usually used for baptisms. He had selected them partly because he had always liked them, even when he was so small the words had no meaning for him, and partly because they captured the power, the joy and the comfort that characterized his personal religious beliefs. Shelby had never been a gloom-and-doom believer.

There was a knock on the door of the changing room, and he heard his father's voice. "Shelby?"

"Be out in a second."

He hurriedly peeled off the wet baptismal robe, dried off, dressed quickly and spent a few moments toweling his hair. He left the robe and towels hanging on wall pegs as he'd been instructed and then stepped to the door. Except for his wet hair, he looked exactly as he did when he went in to change no more than fifteen minutes before. In fact, he was quite changed, although all the ways he was changed would take years to gradually manifest themselves as both he and his faith matured.

In a larger room that opened both to the sanctuary and to the outdoors, Kurt was waiting. He went to Shelby and gave him an emotional embrace. "You've made your mother and I very happy today, son."

There were many other hugs, handshakes and backslaps when services were over and Kurt Kincaid and his son stepped back into the sanctuary. The family gradually made their way to the exit where they would go to their car and drive to a restaurant for a special meal with Shelby. Just before exiting, Shelby caught the eye of his two best friends across the auditorium and they both gave him a discreet thumbs-up. They would get together to talk about Shelby's experience later.

==========
I Am Resolved – Palmer Hartsough – Copyright: Public Domain
Stepping in the Light – Eliza E. Hewitt – Copyright: Public Domain

Want to Read Sweet Southern Boys -- for Free?

 
For your code to download the e-book for free, in whatever format you wish, message me via Facebook messenger, or email me between now and Saturday, 5/18 at c_l_chastain@yahoo.com

Sweet Southern Boys page at Smashwords:
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/209754

Well Pleased With His Appearance

Steamboat Gothic opens with a description of the protagonist, Clyde Batchelor, four paragraphs long, but it is woven into the beginnings of the story so it isn't cumbersome, IMO.  Oddly enough, despite the number of times I've read this novel, and despite my affinity for this character, I don't know what he looks like. At least, I don't know what his face looks like. It is never described.

Keyes pretty much describes everything else about him, though, and the reader -- at least, this one -- sees his face peripherally. It's like the Pleiades -- when you looked at the sky or stars beside them, they shine brightly and you can see them in your extremely near peripheral vision. But look right at them, they dim and fade to near nothing.

And so it is with Clyde Batchelor's face. I've attempted to find a stock photo model, or even a fashion model or actor, who looks like him, but so far, no luck.

I've also attempted to find pictures of the type of clothing that's described in these paragraphs, but the only "congress boots" has come up on Google searches.  If you know anything about post-bellum men's fashion, please weigh in. And if you can link to pictures, so much the better.

The first four paragraphs of Steamboat Gothic:
__________________________
PROLOGUE
1869
PURCHASE PRICE

The day was warm for March, and the stranger, who had been walking for nearly half an hour along the river road, took a fine embroidered handkerchief from the tail pocket of his burgundy-colored frock coat and mopped his face with it. Then he flicked the handkerchief lightly over his tight-fitting mouse-gray trousers and his shining congress boots. He had no mind to reach his destination dripping with sweat or powdered with dust.

He had been reasonably well pleased with his appearance when he had surveyed this, before starting out, in the blurred mirror of his room at the dirty little hostelry with the pretentious name of Grand Hotel Pierre Chanet. To be sure, he had fiddled for some moments with the long bow of his black silk tie before it suited him; but there had been no doubt whatever that the plain gold studs gave the finishing touch of refinement to the starched shirt bosom which the large -- and undeniably flawed -- diamonds, worn for so long, had failed to impart. Lucy had never made any comment on those flawed diamonds, or on the still larger -- and still more imperfect -- one which had formerly adorned the third finger of his left hand. But he had caught her glancing at them several times, and he had noticed the change in her expression when he substituted the gold studs and heavy gold ring whose seal duplicated the one on the charm which dangled from the chain spanning the figured waistcoat.

Well, it had taken him time to learn how to dress like a gentleman, but by slow degrees he had done it; and he could be thankful -- and was -- that he possessed the natural attributes of a fine person to set of his good clothes. If his stomach had not still been as flat as a sixteen-year-old boy's, he could have ill afforded to call attention to it by that gold chain.  The mouse-gray trousers could be worn to good advantage only if they fitted closely over narrow hips and the burgundy broadcloth would have lost its effect if it had not been cut to fit wide shoulders. In addition to the advantages which his figure gave him, his fresh color belied the belief that a man must live an active outdoor life in order to have an appearance of ruddy health, and that no amount of care would have given his reddish-blond hair its burnished look if it had not been abundant and glossy to start with.

He had run a small ivory comb along its low side parting and the wavy locks above his temples before the final adjustmen of a shining gray beaver "stovepipe" and, the last thing before leaving his hotel room, had passed his hand over his cheek and chin below his sideburns. It was less than an hour since he had shaved with a fine Swedish razor, but still he wanted to be sure ... And though the surface was smooth enough to suit him, he had frowned a little at the sight of his hand, as he saw this reflected in the mirror before which he was still standing.  It was blunt-fingered, and the back of it was haired with down, the same color as the locks he had just combed with such care. But it was softer and whiter than the hand of vigorous man ought to be.  It detracted from the fresh ruddiness of his face. He must do something about his hands. Perhaps riding about a plantation would help, getting out into the sun, handling the reins ... Well, the thing to do now was to reach his destination as soon as possible and find out what the prospects were.

(Excerpt reproduced in accordance with the fair-use requirements of
the U.S. Copyright office. http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html)
__________________________
Image credits: The Pleiades, image by NASA and in the public domain.

Clyde Batchelor -- The Definitive Romance Hero

At least, I think so....

Some time in the early to mid 1970s, I borrowed a book from the library in Monroe, Louisiana entitled Steamboat Gothic, by Frances Parkinson Keyes. My parents had moved to Louisiana from Montgomery, Alabama, and I followed them when school let out for summer.  I borrowed several books, fiction and nonfiction, to learn about their new state.

I read several other of Keyes' Louisiana novels -- Dinner at Antoine's, Crescent Carnival, The River Road, perhaps one or two others, and I enjoyed them all, despite Keyes' propensities for including everything in her stories but the kitchen sink. In fact, that was part of the reason why I read them -- their vivid and arresting portrayal of French (i.e., south) Louisiana culture in which the stories of her fascinating characters were embedded -- a land in the South but like no other part of Dixie, the exotic locale of Creoles and Cajuns and their servants -- which makes them very, very un-PC today.

But Steamboat Gothic proved to be the most memorable. I bought a paperback version with this cover, and read it at least a couple more times in the next few years, but at some point in the mid to late 1980s, I lost my copy.  I never forgot the story, though, and through the years, longed to read it again.

A few days ago, I received a used copy purchased from Amazon.com. It's been most interesting, reading the story again from a writer's viewpoint. I have known since my earliest attempts to write that my style was highly influenced by two authors -- Rex Stout and Frances Parkinson Keyes. Sounds rather odd when you realize that Stout wrote spare, fast-moving and short detective novels starring the famous Nero Wolfe and his equally famous "official gnat," Archie Goodwin -- novels set mostly in New York City that took place over a period of days or weeks --  while Keyes wrote ponderous romantic and cultural dramas that sometimes covered years, decades, generations or, in the case of Steamboat Gothic, the better part of a century. 

Over an indeterminate time period in the near-distant future, I'm going to blog about Steamboat Gothic and its author from a variety of approaches (SPOILER ALERT!), not the least of which is what makes Clyde Batchelor the most magnetic, admirable and unforgettable romance hero I've ever read.


Stay tuned!


The great house at San Francisco Plantation in Garyville, Louisiana,
the inspiration for "Cindy Lou Plantation" in Steamboat Gothic.