Stories All the Way Down

G. M. Baker - Author

Grand Tour 8: A Church Should Look Like a Church

This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Grand Tour

Sunday, May 6, 2018, Amarillo

Today is a rest day. I go to Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle church and find the building not to my liking. It is a typical modern auditorium-style church with padded pews. The floor slopes down to the altar like the floor of a movie theatre. It is all about making sure that everyone has a good view. If in the pre-Vatican II days we said that we went to hear Mass, now we go to see Mass.

Grand Tour 7: The Best Museum on Route 66 is About Barbed Wire

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Grand Tour

May 5, 2018 Oklahoma City to Amarillo

Themes for the day: into the West, barbed wire, weak beer, parking meters, and killer slip roads.

Oklahoma City to Amarillo

The landscape changes quickly west of Oklahoma City. Now you feel like you are in the West. Now you can imagine a dustbowl happening. (Later we see a map of the dust bowl at the Devil’s Rope museum that confirms that this is indeed where it happened.) The land still rolls, but it seems like larger waves, and greens give way to browns more and more with every mile. Trees are few and far between, but jagged and dramatic where they do occur, usually singly or in pairs. It is interesting how often a solitary pair of trees will face each other across the road, one often leaning across the tarmac toward the other as if yearning for companionship. Alas we did not seem to take any pictures of such yearning pairs. A lot of the landscape looked like this:

Road and fields

Newsletter vs. Blog

Ever since my publisher told me I should start a newsletter, I have been trying to figure out how it would be different from a blog. I know how to blog. I maintained a content strategy / technical communication blog for years. It did a lot for my content strategy career, it helped launch my two content strategy books, and it still attracts hundreds of views a week despite my not having posted anything there in a few years. It had a pretty decent roster of followers. When I switched to fiction, I thought I would just do the same thing for my fiction career with this blog. But my publisher says newsletters are what sells books, which is why there is a newsletter signup form right next to the blog subscription form in the sidebar and footer of this page. (Please do sign up to either or both!)

So now I have to figure out if what I learned about blogging applies to newsletters, or if they are really just the same thing in different guises.

On Words that “Sound Modern” in Historical Fiction

One of the trickier things about historical fiction is trying to make the language, particularly the dialogue, sound like it belongs to its period while still being easy enough to read for a modern reader. For fairly recent times, this is not much of a problem. The biggest difficulty in writing a story set in the 20th century is probably dealing with words that were perfectly ordinary then and are considered slurs or otherwise offensive now. But go further back and the problem becomes more complex. Go back to the Anglo-Saxons, as I do, and it becomes quite a head scratcher.

Grand Tour 6: Pride in Service is Not Militarism

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Grand Tour

May 4, 2018, Tulsa to Oklahoma City

Today we continue westward through Oklahoma. The themes are not so different from yesterday in Missouri: pride in service, helpful locals, and frustrating navigation units. Also, a small transgression and some disappointing trees.

The Charm, Silliness, and Virtue of The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings is controversial in both literary and Catholic circles. At the literary level, critics dismiss it while the public loves it, regularly voting it high on various best books lists. Catholic opinion is similarly divided, some seeing it as the great Catholic novel of the 20th century while others dismiss it as boring nonsense. Both judgements miss something. The Lord of the Rings is a big, messy, and sometimes silly book, but it has a streak of genius running through it.

Avatar, Friend, and Shrink – Three Modes of Reader Intimacy

Which point of view produces the greatest intimacy between the reader and the character? Watching this debate between two writing friends led me to ask what they meant by intimacy. I propose (invoking the liberty of blogging) that there are at least three modes of intimacy between reader and character: avatar, friend, and shrink. There may be more, but these will do for now.

My First Novel to be Published in 2021

Really pleased to say that my first novel has been accepted for publication by Chrism Press and will see the light of day toward the end of 2021.

The Rules of Trade (The Peaceweaver, Book One), is an historical novel set in eighth-century Northumbria, just weeks after the great Viking raid on the rich monastery of Lindisfarne, which was the 9-11 of the Anglo Saxon world.

The Under-imagined Story

Writers sometimes worry about overthinking their writing. They should be more worried about under-imagining it.

Grand Tour 5: A Thousand Tiny Attractions

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Grand Tour

May 3, 2018. Springfield Missouri to Tulsa Oklahoma

Themes of the day are ugly English tourists, underwhelming attractions, and decent ice cream.

Springfield MO to Tulsa OK

A storm system passes overnight and it continues raining for most of the morning. The day’s planned route is not terribly long so we make a leisurely morning and hope for the weather to clear.

There are three loud Englishmen at breakfast in the motel’s breakfast room. Apparently they are doing Route 66 west to east. As a Canadian born in England, who has experienced the ugly American tourist in Europe, it is nice to see roles reversed and the ugly English tourist being obnoxious in America.

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