Rules of the Game

Rules of the Game

Rules | Guy L. PaceEvery game has rules. Some are easy to understand. Some, not so much. It’s the rules that can drive us nuts, though.

Solitaire (the classic, Vegas rules version) is a losing game. There is no way to win long-term in that game. The rules protect “the house” and that is by design. The house is the casino, or the hosting organization allowing you to play. The rules are pretty simple.

Shuffle the cards, deal out the seven piles (the tableau), set the rest in a pile (the stock) nearby. Play all the possible cards showing in the tableau. Then begin taking one cards at a time from the stock and play it if possible. If not, place it on the waste pile (the talon). Once you go through the stock once, you’re done and the game is over.

If you are fortunate, you’ll get to stack suits (hearts, diamonds, spades, clubs) on the foundations (the four piles at the top where you place the aces of each suit and proceed to stack the rest of the suit numerically). If you are very fortunate, you’ll end the game by completing all four suits in the foundations and clear the stock and the tableau.

Reality

But, nine times out of ten, you will only get one or two aces in the foundations, and maybe a few more cards.

See, to start, you ante up for $52 for each game. One dollar for each card in the deck–for each game. The house will pay you back $5 for each card placed in the foundations. If you lose $20 to $40 each hand you’ll find yourself in negative dollar land in short order.

You see, the odds are not in your favor–no matter what that strange-looking person in The Hunger Games says. While you can win a game once in a while, your chances of winning enough to stay even or gain a little are abysmal. The odds against winning two games in a row is huge. It’s designed to separate you from your money.

Gaming

Knowing all this, playing a solitaire game on your laptop when your life savings isn’t on the line is still a fun pastime, and supposedly is good exercise for your brain. But, how does this play when you are writing a situation for a character? I used solitaire for an example, but the odds and rules for roulette, blackjack, and other gambling games are always stacked in favor of the house. That won’t change.

How many times have you seen or read characters getting to Las Vegas with just a few bucks to their names, and in a few hours riding out of town in a new Cadillac and pockets full of cash. Aside from special talents (Starman), the odds against this kind of thing happening is astronomical. Then there is the house itself. Someone watches all games, players, dealers, all the time. If anything looks hinkey (this is Tabitha’s word), someone from the house shows up and takes the offending person(s) off the floor and maybe out the door.

Jackpot

Once in a while someone hits a jackpot. That’s by design. The good fortune of the odd player keeps the rest of the folks playing. Without that odd jackpot, the rest of the players in the facility would not have any hope of winning.

This doesn’t mean good things don’t happen. When my wife and I were leaving Reno many years ago, there was a gaming system right there in the gate concourse. I had a few coins left of our “to play” stash, so I plugged a few into the machine and played one last game before our flight home started boarding.

I won $10.

Keep writing.

 

The Bucket List

The Bucket List

Bucket List | Guy L. PaceThings change, the world changes, and we move ahead in time. Many of us have a bucket list, things we feel we need to do before we, ourselves, come to an end.

One of the things I’d love to do before I leave this plane is to travel the old Route 66 from Chicago, IL to Santa Monica, CA. My brother, cousin, and I talked about making that trip a lot last summer. The 2,448 mile trip would take about two to three weeks if we stopped to see all the sights.

Much of the old route faded into newer roads, highways, freeways. Still, you can find a lot of the old route’s highlights if you look for them. Finding and riding the old road–as much as is left–brings some of the legend and history of The Mother Road to life. Route 66 in the mid-1900’s displayed the character of America and you can still find and experience some of that today.

So, that’s one of the things on my bucket list.

The List

Another item on the list is to crate up the Harley, ship it to Europe, then ride it for two or three months all over the place. Some places in Europe I visited in the 1970’s and I’d love to go back and see the changes or the things that are still the same. I’d like to spend more time seeing the countries and seeing some friends.

A fascinating ride in Scotland would be the North Coast 500. Tourism in the UK bills the route as the Route 66 of Scotland, but I think it has its own attraction. The article suggests a three-day run due to small, slow winding roads threading through the highlands, lochs, and rugged coastline.

Some of the things in my bucket list drive what I’m writing about in my current work in progress. A Harley, an open road, and time. But, time is a limited commodity. Progress, politics (both national and international), economics, and other factors may conspire to prevent me from doing some of the things on the bucket list.

Route 66 is slowly disappearing and it may be gone before I get a chance to ride it. I do have a small piece of tarmac I picked off from the old road in Arizona from a trip in 1995. I keep it with a Route 66 key tag in my curio cabinet.

Why?

The items on the bucket list represent dreams we might have. Things we’ve always wanted to see or do. When you can reach down deep and find those dreams and desires, you can find the motivation that drives a character in a story. It’s what makes that character set out on the adventure, chase that dream, or follow a cause.

Time, though, is the enemy. The limiter of experience. Like Route 66 fading, or the far-off adventure ending before you get a chance. Your character must strive for the goal in spite of time.

So. Find the time.

Keep writing.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Good and Evil

Good and Evil

Good and Evil |Every work of fiction by any author deals with good and evil on some level. Put simply, protagonists (main characters) are good. Antagonists (the bad guys) are evil. There are shades of gray on both sides. Not all main characters are squeaky clean, without sin, or perfect in any way. Just the same, not all bad guys are completely bad or even always guys.

The main characters are the ones we root for, the ones we want to win out in the end. In the process, they face adversaries and their own frailties, weaknesses, or imperfections. Through this, they change, learn, grow as characters.

This applies to fiction in any genre, be it science fiction, romance, fantasy, mystery, horror, or thriller. And it doesn’t matter if it’s Christian or secular. These are the stories we want to read.

Imagine trying to get behind a purely evil protagonist as a main character who is out to wreak revenge, death, and destruction across the fictional world. Well, I suppose you could if you were a fan of H. P. Lovecraft and Cthulu. Still, most characters that resonate with readers are good, and/or strive to do right.

The Good

When we create a main character (MC), there are usually flaws or issues that make that character not perfect. True, the MC is the good in the story and will attempt to do the good or right thing. But, what is the good? Usually, the MC has to step outside of his or her self and do something for someone else, for the community, the country, or humanity. Sometimes, that involves battling against incredible odds, an overwhelmingly powerful opponent, city hall, or solving a particularly difficult murder case.

The MC struggles through adversity, resistance, and often directly against an antagonist to accomplish the goal. But, the effort is to do the right thing. Defeat the bad influence, antagonist, and put the world right.

The Evil

The antagonist works against the MC. There is the ethically challenged city manager trying to skim from the city coffers. Then there is the competing love interest that uses nefarious methods to thwart the romantic efforts of the MC. Or, how about a dark evil being lurking in the abandoned metro tunnels, sending it’s minions out to thwart the efforts of the MC?

It boils down to the antagonist’s core motives of self: selfish, self-serving, self-aggrandizing. Not all the bad guys in fiction are purely evil. They may perform some acts of kindness out of a fractured attempt at redemption, but usually those fail. Unless, the point of the story is to bring the antagonist to some kind of redemption.

Life is full of examples on both sides of this duality. Most aren’t quite so well defined and obvious, but you can see them.

Keep writing.

 

 

Cover for Carolina Dawn

Cover Reveal!

Carolina Dawn | Guy L. PaceThis is the cover for Carolina Dawn, the third and final book in the Spirit Missions series! This cover, created by Scott Deyett (InHouse Graphics) will grace the ebook editions of Carolina Dawn when it releases on February 14, 2018.

I think Scott did a great job here. I gave him some brief details on the main character, a little about the theme of the book and what Amy should have. Rather than stick with the dark blue theme of the previous books, he brought out the dawn for this one and it rocks.

The Title Breakdown

Carolina. The book takes place almost entirely in North Carolina. I hope y’all who live there can identify with the locations I use. Hope I didn’t destroy your house.

Dawn. Well, yes, there are a couple of scenes involving dawn breaking over North Carolina. But, you have to read the book to pick up why I used this title.

Print

Carolina Dawn Full | Guy L. PaceHere is the print version of the cover, full back, spine, and front.

Blurb on Back Cover

Amy Grossman must decide about Paul Shannon’s proposal. Guilt over Joe’s death still eats at her. Then there is Lucy–a competitor for Paul’s affection–to deal with. She also fills her days with gardening, handling power outages, and perimeter guard duty.

A stranger arrives with dire news turning Amy’s life new directions. With its very survival on the line, the community must pull together one more time.

She knows God has a plan for her, but surely ending up zombie food couldn’t be part of that plan.

Could it?

Well, could it? That’s the question. Carolina Dawn will go on Amazon pre-sale later this week.
Stay tuned.
Keep writing.

Desperate Times

Lee Frank Harrison

Old Prison | Guy L. PaceThat’s the name of my maternal grandfather. According to Social Security and Montana death records, he passed away in August, 1978, in Browning, Montana.

Let’s start at the beginning. Lee Frank Harrison was born in Green Prairie, Morrison County, Minnesota, to Henry and May (Edden) Harrison on December 15, 1896. For some reason I have yet to discover, the family move west and landed in Montana in 1902. Grandfather was about five, and Henry Harrison (great-grandfather) was about 40. Grandfather had a brother, Henry George Harrison, who would have been about three in 1902. There was a sister, but I don’t have good information on her.

Something happened in Montana. Evidently, great-grandfather and Henry George continued west to Leavenworth, Washington. For some reason, Lee Frank Harrison stayed in Montana and the trail for May Edden vanished. I suspect there may have been relatives in Montana that took grandfather and his mother in.

Grandfather | Guy L. PaceAs of this writing, I have no good information about grandfather until 1921. This is in part because I haven’t known where to look. I got a windfall recently when I stumbled across a prison admission form for the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge, Montana, for one Lee Harrison (aka L. Frank Harrison, Frank L. Harrison, Frank Harrison, Lee F. Harrison). The photo here is the mug shot for the 1931 admission form. This form included information on a previous sentence.

Burglary

In September 1921, grandfather went to Montana State Prison sentenced to two to four years for a burglary in Phillips County (located north of Fort Peck Lake in north central Montana). Lee Frank was about 25. He earned parole a year later and probation until November 1924. He would be 28 that December.

Between 1924 and September 20, 1928, he met and fell in love with my grandmother, Opal B. Russell. He was 32 and grandmother was 19, and a judge in Butte, Montana, performed the marriage. After they married, Lee Frank got a tattoo on his upper left arm of a horse, with a scroll and flower. On the scroll: “O. B. + L. F. H.” The horse likely representative of Opal’s love of horses and her skill as a rider. Grandfather was a ranch hand as I understand it.

My aunt, Nancy Ellen, was born on May 26, 1929. Of course, the stock market crash was coming and things would get desperate for everyone. The family lived in Wise River, Montana (south and west of Butte), in a log cabin that is no longer there. Grandfather was working for a rancher in that valley. My mother, Verna Jeanne, was born on December 18, 1930. The economy continued to decline and weather hammered the little village of Wise River.

LFH Warden | Guy L. PaceThings got desperate. Grandfather, with an associate named Pietila, committed highway robbery (armed robbery) for the sum of $7.80 on the streets of Butte. They were caught and grandfather pled guilty. Montana State Prison admitted him on June, 3, 1931, to serve a six-year term. The image here details his eye and hair color, shoe size, education, and religious preference.

This left grandmother and her two children without a breadwinner. She moved the family to Butte.

Moccasins

During this term in prison, Lee Frank took advantage of the craft and art resources provided to prisoners. The prison encouraged the arts and crafts and often the prisoners earned money making horsehair tack and other items. He made and sent home moccasins for his daughters. My mother kept a pair in her cedar chest for many years and I think one of the grandchildren has them now. One of my sister’s children also has a charcoal drawing he made. We don’t know if he did this in prison or another time, but grandfather evidently had some artistic talent.

From here, we have information mostly based on my mother’s memory. She remembered that he moved the family back to Wise River some short time later. I may get further information on Lee Frank’s second term in prison from prison records. He may have paroled in a couple of years so my mother would not know why he was gone. This lasted until my mother was about six, and in first grade. Then, grandmother took the girls to Helena, Montana, and left them at the Catholic orphanage. She evidently divorced Lee Frank, but I can’t find records. Opal ran off with a rich man, Bert Dolbeer, who didn’t like or want children around.

My mother and aunt stayed in the orphanage until about eighth grade when they went to Great Falls for high school. Grandmother would visit periodically. My mother didn’t have a regular relationship with her until after graduation.

Lee Frank may have ended up in Spokane, Washington, with his sister, but there is nothing to verify that. Yet.

Research

We as a family dug around looking for information about grandfather for years. It just turned out that we weren’t looking in the right places. My mother always wanted to find out more about him, even reconnect if that were possible. Opal, though, cast a lot of misinformation on the waters while she was alive, making it difficult for my mother. Still, persistence pays off.

My father, in his effort to find my mother’s birthplace so we could scatter her ashes this spring, came across some folks in the Wise River area who knew of Lee Frank and the little family in the cabin. This led him to a death record online.

The death record was the key to finding other information about Lee Frank, including the prison record. The prison record led to information about his brother, and possibly his father (I’m still working on that). Believe me when I tell you there are many Lee, Henry, and Frank Harrisons in the genealogy, census, and other records. Grandfather made some of the search a little more difficult by using aliases (L. Frank, Lee F., Frank L., etc.).

The information is out there, and likely linked to relatives I don’t know. I’ll find it eventually.

The Story

Research like this is slow and difficult. Records are not always accurate or available. Genealogy records are often fraught with misspelled names and incorrect birth, marriage, and death dates. US Census data is excellent, when you can figure out where ancestors were living during one of them.

But, what comes out as a result of all this effort is a story of a person’s life. I have much more to learn about Lee Frank Harrison and I intend to continue digging. I want to know more about this man, his life, and what happened to him.

He was, after all, my grandfather.

Keep writing.