Not only to fly, but to bring the world's eyes...skyward.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

BINGO

I try hard to avoid sounding like a poser by throwing military pilot expressions around, like saying "tally-ho" instead of "traffic in sight," "head" for "lavatory," "casualties" for "family members," you get the idea. But in some cases, our protectors just have a term for which there is no better, or any, civilian equivalent. One such example is "bingo fuel." My understanding of "bingo," gleaned from twelve years working for an airline which, if one knew only its initials and its pilots, one might think was called "Academy Alumni," is that "bingo" represents the fuel level at which, if the ordnance, ugh, I mean aircraft, hasn't been delivered to its intended target, er, destination, then diversion to the secondary or alternate is required in order to preclude a phenomenon known to both military and civilian aviators as fuel exhaustion - which itself is one of myriad mistakes a pilot can make known collectively, rather colorfully, as "screwing the pooch."

I began writing A Silver Ring, as a trilogy, shortly after 9/11. As the creative process almost always goes, my path took more than a few dead ends, laborious shortcuts, and innocuous-looking end-arounds along the way, and by 2006 I'd written either a tome, two novels with copious amounts of backstory, or nearly all of a trilogy. Having spent every minute of my writing time for four years actually writing and braiding the stories like a length of three-phase wire, I began researching what I'd need to do to get it published. Discovering that writing a book is actually the easy (and fun) part of being an author took me on a similarly circuitous route.

Two paths diverged before me and, yes, I really did try to take the one less traveled - that being conventional publishing. I wrote A Silver Ring as an aviation story that didn't require a pilot's license to understand, or appreciate. Growing up with a father who loved flying, a mother who despised it, and a very real fear of their divorce imbued me with a neurotic compulsion, perhaps you could even call it a mission, to bring - or keep - the flying and non-flying worlds together. I wrote it as if trying to tell my Mom about a really great day I'd had flying with Dad, and I was reasonably sure I could get a literary agent to love it before I ran out of fuel. Not much unlike taking off for New York with Kennedy below minimums, expecting improvement - which is plenty legal. But Hope's not a Plan, and the last two letters in bingo are "g-o."

If getting someone in New York to publish my novel was LaGuardia, my ideal alternate needed to be a place from which my cargo could still be considered as having reached its destination without undue sacrifice to image. LaGuardia? Good. Newark? Not so much. I may have no choice but to bring my story home through a crowded corridor, but it doesn't have to smell like failure when it arrives.

Poring over my options, the positive aspects of one place in particular made the Choir Invisible sing that high-C note when I saw it.

Oshkosh.

My son Reagan was, before he was even conceived, my inspiration for A Silver Ring. He was born July 26, 2001, right smack in the middle of the U.S.' preeminent airshow hosted by the Experimental Aviation Association there. I even fantasized about branding him with the pet name "Oshkosh" before 9/11, but the havoc that day wrought on our lifestyle kept me from saturating him in aviation to the degree I'd intended, and the notion began to seem contrived.

Nevertheless, ten years later, Oshkosh remains Mecca for we poor bastards who can't help but look up at the sound of a passing plane, and therefore represents the single best place I could introduce my book to the world, which is the next best thing to introducing the world to it, via conventional publishing.

So I sent a digital copy to the EAA with a humble request that I be privileged to sell signed copies at AirVenture 2011. Someone Up There really likes it, and I'm hoping, no - planning Reagan's birthday, 7/26/2011, to become known as not only his birthday, but that of the book he made me able to write as well.

I'm posting Chapter One here today, and chapters two through six will be posted at 7:26 on the 26th of every month between now and July 26th, at which time signed, bound hard copies and fully-formatted e-books compatible with most e-book readers will go on sale.

I've also negotiated with my characters, Justin, Paul, Frank, Eileen, Wes, Melody, and Christina, to have them create and post to their own blogs about what's going on in their lives during that month in the story, albeit in a different year. Justin begins the series as the Space Shuttle Challenger is being readied for her next launch in the middle of a cold snap in Florida, on January 26, 1986.

He's a lonely guy who's had a pretty rough life, so I hope you'll stop by and leave him an encouraging word. Something's bound to break his way sooner or later, but it's not always easy to remember that when you just can't see past the next storm on the 'scope.

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