William Doonan

I write books and stories.

Archive for the ‘School’ Category

The Mummies of Blogspace9: Chapter One

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June 10, 2011

Magdalena de Paz, Peru

Cavalcante          http://www.diggirl.blogspace9.ex

voice activation mode: enabled

indiv 1:        Guys, can we do this please, while the generators are running?  We were supposed to be recording since day one and we’re already nearly four months into excavations. Leon, can you put the guinea pig down?  That’s food, not a pet. And if you could stop staring at Kim for maybe two seconds, we could get this done here?

indiv 2:        I happen to like this guinea pig, and I’m not staring at anyone.  It’s just my rods and cones at work.   When something tasty crosses my path, my optical nerves respond, pure and simple.  But I’ll be honest, when something as smoking hot as Kim crosses the room, it’s mostly the rods.

indiv 1:        Fine, but our funding is conditional on maintaining this regular, updated, and public blog of our activities, so we’re going to introduce ourselves.  OK, I’m going to start typing now, and then we’re each going to have a turn. 

indiv 2:        It looks like it started without you, Laney.  Life is like that sometimes.  All you can do is jump in.

indiv 1:        Shut up, Leon.  OK, somehow the voice recognition is on.  And with you already slurring your words, this isn’t going to go well.

voice activation mode: disabled

Greetings, blogosphere!  As we archaeologists are fond of saying, context is everything, so here’s some:  My name is Lane Cavalcante.  I am an archaeologist.  I am a cold-hearted, hard-wired, scientific investigator who has the great fortune of working as field director for the most excellent archaeologist in the world, the great Professor Cyrus Sanderson, who is currently asleep on the sofa.

I’m writing from the north coast.  That’s Peru to those of you who desire a more complete geographical reference, but to those in the know, it’s just the north coast.  We’re five hours north of Lima on bad roads, but it could be the edge of the earth or another planet for all of the traffic we get.  We’re living in a nice house, in a not-so-nice hamlet, at the edge of a coastal desert. 

Drive about an hour through the cane fields and you’ll reach the Panamerican highway.  There’s a town there, where you can buy just about anything you want, as long as you only want cigarettes, beer, rice, chickens, rum, or pirated CDs.  So in a nutshell, we’re extremely isolated, and we have absolutely everything we need to run an effective archaeological project.

We are four months into the excavation of a colonial town established here by Spanish Franciscan priests in 1578.  What’s interesting about this town is that the priests built it on the plaza of an ancient mud-brick pyramid that still stands there like some drippy sandcastle or something that Antoni Gaudi built while detoxing.  It’s an old pyramid.  It was old when the Incas came here in about 1500, and it was even older when the priests came seventy-eight years later.

So, over the course of the next fifty blog entries, my team and I are going to tell you the story of this town and this pyramid.  Both are haunted.  I know that sounds unscientific but it’s not.  I’ll soon share with you the data that backs up my claim, but data can be both burdensome and nonessential.  None of us are sleeping at night because we now have a clear sense of what’s out there.

This is as good a point as any to thank the good folks at Blogspace9 who are generously funding this field season.  Blogspace9 is a startup blogging/social networking service.  It’s unique in that it allows a core group of nine peers to remain in nearly constant online contact via keyboard, cell phone, or, as we’ve already seen, voice activation.  We would have gotten started sooner except our generator has been so seriously on the blink that we barely have refrigeration.

You’ll be hearing from the whole crew:

1) me

2) Bruce Hanson, our historian, my true love, who is currently working the archival end of things in Seville, Spain

3) Leon Samples, our lab director

4) Cyrus Sanderson, our fearless leader

5) Kim Castillo, our crew chief

and…and we haven’t identified the other four yet, but give us time.

So, as I said, we’re four months in, and it’s going far better than we had expected, with the possible exception of all the haunting.  This old church, ruin that it is, has really begun to put out.  There’s not much left of it but remnants of the central nave and part of the sacristy.  There’s not a single wall segment left more than about three feet high except for in one area near the altar.  But we archaeologists are in the business of digging, and dig we have done.  We’re down underneath the altar now, and underneath part of the sacristy, and damn if we didn’t find actual bits of paper.  This is exactly what we were hoping for; the writings, letters, diaries perhaps of the priests who came here in 1578. 

Imagine why that is important, won’t you?  To have a firsthand account of what it was like to try to convert the natives, not the whitewashed version that got sent home toSpain; that would change history.  That’s what we’re doing here, changing history.  Also, trying to sleep at night knowing what’s going on outside the walls.

So we find our documents, then we scan them and send them off to Bruce to see if he can turn up anything related in the Archive of the Indies inSeville.  And it’s not just paper we’re digging up.  We also found a couple of Venetian glass beads, and cigarette butts.  Imagine; five-hundred year-old cigarette butts!  We have like nineteen of them now, almost the whole pack.  They’re hand-rolled on scraps of paper.  I’d smoke one but that would be destroying evidence, and I also don’t want to get some dead priest’s still-viable meningitis or something like that.

OK, Cyrus just woke up and is either feverish or in the grip of more DTs.  I’m going to go see what our wonderful cook is turning up for dinner.  More tomorrow.

– Lane

Written by williamdoonan

October 30, 2011 at 10:27 pm

The Mummies of Blogspace 9

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If you thought the internet was safe from the undead, you thought wrong!

Deep inside an ancient Peruvian pyramid, archaeologists stumble across something they never imagined, something that’s been sleeping for more than three hundred years, something that just woke up.

Tune in each week for another exciting chapter.  Our story begins on October 30, 2011.

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October 22, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Back to the Acid Mines

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The first week of the new semester is now officially over, and I have to say it went pretty great.  Lots of students eager to get into classes.  And of course, I get to talk about all my favorite things, like archaeology and TV.  It’s going to be a busy semester, but I’m determined to get a lot done.

I’m going to write every week.  I’ve started outlining a new mystery series based in Ireland that I’m really excited about.  I’m going to write 3,000 words each week and then see how the project looks come the end of the semester.  I’m also going to whip Grave Indulgence (book three of the Henry Grave series) into shape and into production ASAP.  And then I’m going to spend a great deal of time trying to figure out how the hell to sell books.  Book marketing is a challenge for most writers, and a huge challenge for me.  I have to get a lot better at marketing Mediterranean Grave.  And I have to get ready for American Caliphate, which is still in the final pre-production phases.  I’m hoping it will be under contract any day now.  More on that as the information dribbles in.

Until then, happy writing!  And remember, always cook with at least the second freshest ingredients!

Written by williamdoonan

August 26, 2011 at 6:09 pm

short stories

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We just returned from a fantastic extended weekend trip up to the mountains, to Bolzano, near the Austrian border.  It’s very different from the Tuscan hill towns we’re now accustomed to – lots of German food, lots of German words, and most significantly, mountains!  Mountains everywhere.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  We took a day trip up to the mountain town of Siusi and then a cable car up into the Dolomites where my California babies saw snow for the first time, and made actual snowballs!

Taking the weekend off meant a lot of catch up work, and falling a little behind on my final edits of the next book, but I’m gettting caught up.  Working on novels takes on an interesting cadence – you have to keep moving or you lose sight of all the strings.  But sometimes I miss short stories, so I was happy when the latest issue of Zahir Tales came online – http://www.zahirtales.com/onate_beta.html  Check out my story – Onate beta.

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April 6, 2011 at 11:17 am

Spring Break

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I finally feel like I’m making some good progress on my writing.  We’ve had some time off this week and did a little traveling – to Sienna, which was gorgeous, then to San Gimignano, which was even more so.  Now I’m doing some crunching away at the story, trying to whip it into shape.  Have to go back to work on Monday, so I’m trying to get as much as possible done over the weekend.  We’re still hoping to head out to the Dolomites before we leave here.

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March 19, 2011 at 7:09 am

Idea for Spring Break?

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It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Italy for seven weeks now!  I have been so busy with teaching that I haven’t been doing a whole lot of writing, but I think I’m starting to turn a corner.  I’ve been carving out some time during the work week to finesse American Caliphate, my most significant current project.  I have to have it in ship shape to turn into my publisher by the end of May.  And that’s a little scary!  Not that it’s in bad shape, but because it’s epic and long, and at just over 100,000 words, it’s 15,000 words longer than the publisher wants.  So I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching as to what back stories can go, and what characters can become less vivid.  And I was nervous about doing this, but the strange thing is that every cut I make is a cut I want to make.  I feel like I’m honing this into something finer.  I have to admit that this is a bit scary, because where does it end?  If I keep going, I’ll either have a hell of a short story, or a truly wonderful sentence!

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March 4, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Firenze

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Greetings from sunny Florence, where it’s been cloudy most of the day, except for that odd and unexpected frigid ice storm that pelted us without mercy or warning.  But hey, it’s still Florence, and still pretty great.  I guess that’s why they call it the Sacramento of Europe.

On another note, Allen Pierleoni of the Sacramento Bee, interviewed me and it appeared in Monday’s edition.  Here’s the link: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/01/24/3346018/mediterranean-mystery-afloat.html#storylink=scinlineshare

As a result of this article and a nice blurb in the Sacramento City College faculty news, my Amazon sales rank is taking a nice trip into the low five figures, which is where I like to see it.  One day soon I hope to make it to the four, three, and two figures, moving in tandem with my salary as a California public employee, but you have to be thankful for what you have!

I’m jetlagged, but starting tomorrow, I’m going to be writing up a storm!

Read my book, damnit!  There have to be at least two or three of you readers out there.

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January 25, 2011 at 4:54 pm