Editing, and new material

I’m in that wonderful sweet spot of waiting. Not that it’s a bad thing. Just the reality of the writing life. The draft of “Ascent of the Fallen: Book 1 of the Outremer Chronicles” is with my editor. So I’m waiting patiently to see how things turn out. I’ve already made a steady turn on “Exiles of Heaven”, the working title of Book 2. Probably over 1/2 done with the first draft and the remainder is based on work I’ve already done. Nice!

I have a wonderful friend, Monica Chambers, who is helping with cover design for the book series. I’ve seen some amazing stuff as we’ve worked through our ideas for the series. Can’t wait to share.

In the meantime, here’s a snapshot of another project I’m getting ready to kick off. My favorite novel of all time is The Count of Monte Cristo. It was assigned reading my junior year in high school, and I plowed through it over a week’s time. My regular crowd at the YMCA pool saw a flurry of pages. Hey, I was young. I think I’ve reread the novel at least a dozen times in full. I enjoyed the movie version with Jim Caviezel (admittedly, it’s different. But that’s not bad). And my secret pleasure is the anime series produced in the late 90’s that is an amazing adaptation of the story (and amazingly accurate to the story as well).

I’ve had an itch to do something with The Count of Monte Cristo. One idea is to adapt the story to modern times. But in a twist, could I hold as much to the original as possible? The original is now public domain, so there’s no copyright concerns per se. But what will an adaptation look like?

Basically, could a high school junior read my version, actually enjoy it because of the relevance, and still write an adequate book report that captures everything?

Here’s the prologue leading up to the adaptation beginning:

The Senate Arms Oversight committee had all the feel of a tempest striking a beach resort in tourist season. Reporters and press lined the outsides of the parlor, with every seat filled by stakeholders, lobbyists, and all of the elite of Washington DC. Flashes popped on all sides, and in the front an elderly, stern man slammed his gavel down onto the desk. “Order order! We now call this hearing into order.” Shuffling sounds filled the chamber, and long moments passed. Quiet did not come, but some measure of order eventually settled.

The gray-haired statesman looked across the panel before him, and beyond to the overflowing galleries. The media was going to make a frenzy of this. Sharks drawn to spilled blood. And there was plenty of that. His colleagues didn’t appear any happier with the task before them. How to unwind the ball of string these cats had messed with? Big cats. The lions and tigers of Western society. The most powerful men and women in Washington. Titans of the military-industrial complex. Elite senior officers of the armed forces. Nearly every aspect of the intelligence community. Caught like kittens with yarn around their necks.

“The events of the last two months have shocked the Washington community, all the way to the White House itself. But of interest to this committee are the events surrounding Mr. Mordcef and Mordcef Defense Industries. Our nation has invested heavily in Mordcef technologies, and the utter failure of the Perseus guided drone program will take decades to recover from. We hereby call Mr. Ali Khalif Mohammed to testify.”

A well-dressed Arab ascended to the witness stand, smooth polished oak displaying the power this group commanded. So many twists and turns this intrigue had caused. So many plans stalled or failed. Fortunes lightly falling apart even as this committee met. The man named Ali settled into the chair, leather seat squeaking slightly as he shifted. A tall dark skinned figure, elegantly styled mustache and goatee, with dark almond eyes stared back at the assembled crowd. A hush fell over these talking heads. Ali smoothed his mustache, smiled inside his hand, and turned to gaze across the men and women across from him.

A bailiff stepped forward with a Bible in hand. Ali smiled at him, receiving a confused look in return. This gentleman must be wondering if he should be holding a Koran instead, and if so, would I chide him for it? No wonder my master had his way with them. Simpletons. Children. Ignorance in all they do. Allah be merciful to them.

After making the appropriate oaths, Ali made one single request, “May I have a glass of water brought to me? Many thanks my friend.” The bailiff backed away, happy to be out of the spotlight. Ali turned across the panel before him, taking in their eyes, their expressions. He was a lode stone for their attention. The world’s attention. He knew his words would change them all forever.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am Ali Khalif Mohammed, born in a fishing village outside of Bosaso in Somalia. One might question how someone of my beginnings could rise to a station to address you, but I assure everyone that my testimony will be intriguing if nothing else. I owe all I am, and all I have, to my master, a man you know as Lord Montgomery Christian, most recently of Chissioua Bandrele. I think many of you have called him the Count of Monte Cristo. I served him before you knew him. I will serve him forever. But if you would know the story, we must start from the beginning. And it began almost two decades ago in the small country of Djibouti…”

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