I was smiling at 3 a.m. today.
I had just typed the last word in the last paragraph of the third Frank Nagler story, “The Weight of Living.”
So it’s done.
Except for the typos, the edits and rewrites, but all that, in the world of book writing, constitutes done.
And it’s not really a draft, because I write and edit constantly. On my reserve hard drive I have maybe twenty versions, and a dozen more cut outs, stuff that got deleted, reused, or never made it at all.
So, yeah, done.
I was smiling because I knew what the last line of the book would be weeks ago and had to maneuver the story and characters through the traffic jam of plot to get to the point when I could add the last sentence.
The surprise is that the line is not delivered by the character I first imagined would do so, nor in the setting I thought. It works better where it ended up.
What’s the book about?
Finding the identity of a young girl abandoned on an Ironton, N.J. street in the middle of a cold March night. It’s a tale that has Detective Frank Nagler reconnect with an old nun whose family has a dark secret, with deceit, and manipulation. It is about some of the most broken characters I have ever written about. It is about their salvation.
That is why that last line made me smile. In six words the line offered the redemption that all the broken people were seeking.
Some of you won’t like it, and I’m sorry. It’s not a shoot-‘em-up. It’s not about terrorism or cheating spouses, or gambling or zombies or aliens — all of which are fine; not set in a flashy location, but instead, an old mill, town trying to survive.
But I like it, a lot. It was the hardest of the three Nagler books to write, but that is the goal, somewhat, to present a challenge to yourself.
That said, I’m going to give Frank and the gang a vacation. We’ve been palling around for the past four years and I have other projects to take on, and other characters calling for my attention. But I have other Nagler stories to tell.
Maybe it will be Smitty, the baseball hero of “The Summer of the Homerun,” http://wp.me/p1mc2c-7x whose rambling untitled tale opens:
“This story starts with me hanging from a tree branch about forty feet in the air after my successful effort to break the one I was standing on.
It was a successful effort.
We needed the fire wood.
Life is about hanging on to something, and at that particular moment I was glad I had that other branch to hang on to. The ground seems awfully far away.”
Or maybe it will be Henderson and Nola Jensen and the curious village of Mount Jensen, Maine in a story now titled, “That time the world visited Mount Jensen, Maine:”
“The Diner was shrugged under the last of the gigantic spruce trees that once stood like a castle wall around the Inn’s property; tucked it was into the drooping green barrier, a spy, like some country boy on the roof of the grocery with binoculars watching the New York girls on the lakeside veranda, laying on their blankets with their bikini tops unhooked, their tight little asses tanned against the white bikini bottoms, waiting for one of them to roll over and for one magic second point a pair of sharp white titties to the sky. Did they not see us on the roof, Henderson always wondered? Did they not know how exotic they seemed to the collection of teen-aged boys gathered there, grabbing the glasses out of each others’ hands and yelling, then ducking when one of them thought one of New York girls might have looked their way? But of course they didn’t see us, Henderson knew. They arrived with their families in long sedans, stepped from the back seat with shades and ear buds, phone in hand, tight shorts and cut-off T-shirts and stretched, arching their backs like a cat, then took three steps and lowered the shades half way and with an Oh my God, mother, what are we doing here, glanced up and down the dusty main street of Mount Jensen, Maine with its five houses, old schoolhouse, unpainted church and a grocery store and decided that the two days at the Inn, before their week at tennis camp, were going to be the worst days of their lives.”
If you have not read the first two Nagler stories:
The books are available at the at the following libraries: Morris County Library; Somerset County Library System; Bernardsville Public Library; Hunterdon County Public Library; Mount Olive Public Library; Phillipsburg; Warren County, Franklin branch; Mount Arlington; Wharton; Dover; Hackettstown; Clark, Parsippany and the Ramsey library, as part of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System.
Also at: Bobby’s News and Gifts, 618 Main Street, Boonton.
The Clinton Book Shop, 12 E. Main Street, Clinton. http://www.clintonbookshop.com/
Sparta Books, 29 Theatre Center, Sparta. http://www.spartabooks.com/
For information on independent book sellers visit, http://www.indiebound.org/