Au revoir, M. Pierre

WARNING: This may be a long, rambling post. Bear with me.

To save money, my husband and I go to the library and take out movie and TV DVDs. On one trip, while trying to find something we hadn’t watched to death. I remembered him telling me that he was a fan of a show called “Combat!” which I mostly knew about due to Vic Morrow’s untimely death.  So I found the first set of the first season and took them home.

Talk about not knowing how something small could wind up being so much bigger.  At first I sat and “watched” the episodes (while reading or doing crochet or cross-stitch). Then I started really watching them and eventually, I was the motive force for us watching, even when my husband might not have been as enthusiastic.

In the course of watching them, I realized I had a favorite character – “Caje”, the reliable, quiet and deadly Cajun scout, who Saunders relied on for point duty and silent killing.  I didn’t know much about Pierre Jalbert, the actor who played him, but as someone who knows their way around a search engine, it didn’t take me long to find out.  I also got connected to a surprisingly large Combat! fandom.  I even began writing fanfic.  To this day, I have no rational explanation as to why this TV show (and I’m a Trekker, a LOTR fan and a Narnian from way back – I’m no stranger to fanatic fan bases) meant so much to me.

In July of 2010, the particular group I belonged to met in Burbank, California for a “Recon”.  As part of this, I had the very great fortune to meet M. Jalbert and listen to him tell us stories. I was allowed to sit in one of the two seats of honor (although that may only have been because M. Jalbert changed the seating arrangements without warning! 🙂 ) He was a lovely man and quite charming and polite. It was a pleasure to meet him.

Yesterday (January 23, 2014), one of the members of our group who was friends with Pierre and his wife of 53 years, Joy, sent out an e-mail to let us all know that  Pierre had died. I found myself grieving for him with an intensity that surprised me. I think I had always hoped to meet him again; I had told him at the Recon that if it hadn’t been for him, and Caje, that I might not have started writing again after a very long hiatus.  I wanted to tell him, too, that because I wanted the French in my stories to be right, I started learning French on my own.  That has developed into a severe case of Francophilia – I got back to following the Montreal Canadiens (in French, on RDS), watched French movies, read French newspapers (I’m hoping to tackle at least one book very soon) and my favorite music on my Sansa Clip are the songs from France (Joe Dassin, Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour and Django Reinhardt), Quebec (Ima, Coeur de Pirate, Les Trois Accords, Boom Desjardins, etc., etc., etc.) and Cajun Louisiana (D.L. Menard, Iry LeJeune, Jo-el Sonnier, Beausoleil and Zachary Richard, among others).

I’ve made French-speaking friends – mostly in Canada – and I owe Paul, Louise, Laura, Vivan, Roz, MaxHabs (on Twitter), Ryan, Fred, Jonathan and even Marc (who keeps talking to me in English – I’ve always wanted to ask him if that’s because he wants to practice his English or because my French is so bad 🙂 ) for correcting my mistakes and encouraging me to get better.  (If I left anyone out, blame my memory – je ecris sans vouloir vous offusquer.)

That’s a lot of impact to result from fandom and from a meeting with M. Pierre that lasted an hour or maybe two.

As I read through the messages people are leaving on the Combat! group and the fan page for Pierre on Facebook, I’m moved by the affection people had for Pierre.  He mentioned in different ways how surprised he was that people still remembered him and Caje, nearly 50 years after the program left the air.  He accomplished so much – he was an Olympic caliber skier and captain of Canada’s 1948 Olympic ski team  (1)   After years of competition and championship at many venues, sadly, he didn’t get to compete in St. Moritz because he fell during a training run three days before the Games started and broke his leg.  He was a sound and ADR editor with MGM and he worked on some big projects. And of course, there was Combat!, along with a number of acting roles on TV and in movies. M. Pierre led a full life.

Reposer en paix, M. Pierre. Nous allons tous vous manquez beaucoup. And thanks for the hug.

Hi-ho, Hi-ho, Time for NaNoWrimo …

It’s that time again.

There was never any doubt for me that I was going to take another stab at Nano this year.  I’ve started three times and “won” once and now I’m taking the novel I started last year (“The Greening”, if you’re playing along at home), tossing the little bit I had done and starting all over again.

I was kicking around the idea of writing enough short stories to put together an anthology, but I don’t think I’d get to 50,000 and I’d really like to win this year. I also had a couple more novel ideas in the fire, but this one is the one I keep thinking about and had a revelation about, so I’m taking a second crack at it.

I’m also hoping this helps me get back into gear with writing.  My plan is to use my lunch hours and my laptop to work this month. I think I can knock out slightly less than 1,700 words, if things go well and my muse smiles on me.

If you’re Nanoing too, I’m TEC_4 and I’d enjoy teaming up with you on our voyage through November.  Write on!

“M” for Marche, Music and Montréal (another late entry)

Marche – That’s the French word for “walk”, as in “je marche” (I walk).  This weekend I participated in Walk MS.  I have, in past years, participated in several charitable walks — this year, this will be the only one and it’s the one that has the most meaning for me — pardon me if I’m reluctant to explain why. The person I primarily walk for doesn’t talk about having MS, so I’m not in a position to “out” them.  Wouldn’t want to anyway, of course.

Music – This is the first time I walked as far as I did without my trusty MP3 player.  I’m motivated by music — it’s my drug of choice and I have wide interests in the field, from classical to choral to rock to pop to Cajun to Edith Piaf to Astrud Gilberto to… well, I could go on and on for a very long time.  I’m much more willing to try new music than I am new writers, and I’m not altogether certain why, to tell you the truth.  Of course, most of my ancestry is Welsh and I secretly think that’s why music is so vital to me.

Montréal – I have a vivid fantasy life (ok, mind OUT of the gutter please). I very much would like to live in Montréal. (Of course, when I got there maybe I’d feel differently — but I’d like to at least TRY). I think I’d like to be near the Marché (this time it means “Market”) Jean-Talon, in Villeray.  One day… I’d love to live there and write all the ideas that are burbling around my head.

L is for the “L”ove of it v. Serious Writing

I got an email from my birth dad a few days back. He’s a retired college professor in Philosophy.

About a year ago, we were comparing our mutual literary ambitions.  He wanted to write about an historical event in the town our family is from, in the north of the state where he lives.  I had “won” at Nano (2010) and wanted to finish my novel and try the waters with it.

Now, I’ve shelved the novel (for the time being) in favor of writing another few flash pieces and completing a story arc I created with a story called “Cherries” (on my De Mon Esprit site), another anthology and potentially a novel based on another story.  He, on the other hand, had put aside his work in favor of a scholarly piece in his particular field of philosophy. He spoke desparagingly of writing fiction and the relative triviality of dealing with literary critics, etc.

I was kind of discouraged by his attitude, to be honest.  I don’t expect that what I write will be considered to be of great literary merit, and to be honest, that’s not my aim.  I want to tell stories.  That’s it.

One of my fellow ‘Net writers (hi, Tony!) has discussed the idea that you should stick to one genre (or no genre at all).  I feel as though if I have a great story idea, unless we develop a “story corral” where we share ideas outside of our usual areas, then I’m going to pursue the story as long as it makes sense.  So I may write horror or dystopic future or humor or romance or war stories if that’s where my muse is leading.

I know Dad’s been involved with deeper things than I have and that he’s obviously got a different take on writing.  I can’t expect him to take what I do for the love of it to be as worthwhile as his life’s work.  Still, I’d be sorry to see his story go untold because it wasn’t going to be taken seriously in his estimation.

I think it’s okay to amuse and entertain and even, if it can be done with a light hand, inform.  He’s less sure of that. What do you think?

Ebook or bust – Help, y’all! I need advice.

(sorry … broke my own meme by not having a song lyric as a title, but I can’t think of one right now :))

I spent some time yesterday whilst waiting for my landlady to show up researching anthology submission requests. What I found was 1) a lot of people looking for stories for non-profit anthologies and 2) the odd e-book publisher thoughtfully offering a whole 50% of profits.  Hey, fellas, got some news for you — I can not make money on my own.  Really.

So in addition to my commitment to the Clan of the Flying Pens (about to undergo a name change since it appears we’ve lost a couple of participants), and my ideas for Shawn Riddle’s Civil War horror anthology, Jeremy Shipp’s short-short anthology and Jim Bronyaur’s animal horror anthology, I am going to sit down and look at my current story inventory, kick the tires on some ideas that have come to mind (that don’t fit any of the above — those stories are “written” in my mind anyway) and winnow things down to my best 16 pieces. I have a title, an image for my cover — gonna see if my graphic design degree is worth the paper it’s printed on and the Smashwords guide.

So, to any of my fellow writers who read this:

1. Is/Are 16 stories enough?

2. If you’ve done your own e-book, did you use Smashwords to create your ebook? Was it a good choice?

3. If you’ve done your own e-book, how much did you charge? And where did you sell it, other than Smashwords/Amazon?

4. When I’m done, could I coax you to read through the book to see if there are any weak spots?

Thank you. I hope to hear from the experts who have blazed this territory before me.  🙂

So I’ll Keep On Waiting …

I submitted a story tonight; I think this is the third or fourth.

One was to a contest and that I won’t hear about until November, if I remember correctly. The second was a piece of flash fiction, but I don’t know when I’ll hear about that. Maybe never. The third was tonight, a piece of my heart that a friend really did a good editing job on. I’m a little scared about this one, because I’m not sure how much I can promote it, at least to one group of friends. It cuts pretty close to the bone. I keep thinking there was another story out there somewhere, but I guess not. If I’m wrong, I’m sure I’ll hear from someone and then I can post about that.

I have another Combat! story in the works and after this one is done, I may go back and see if I can salvage the “Silver Service” follow up. I’m part of one Combat! group and used to be part of another, which I monitor occasionally. Other than the zine stories on both sides, (theirs is still in process, from what I’ve been told), and the odd ficlet or flash, no one else seems to be writing. I don’t know if the fandom has run its course or it’s just how things are right now, but I can’t stop writing and no one else seems to start. Kind of a lonely feeling, actually.

I’m not doing much with Guardian Angel right now. I have a “Nonc Pierre in WWI” story I’m kicking around, and when I got a book about Cajuns I’d ordered, I had another idea — this one is young Denis and Pierre — but I’ve put that aside for the nonce. About four or five pages are done, but I’ve run into a “how do I finish this” issue, plus wondering if Americans (not pilots, like the Lafayette Espadrille) volunteered to fight for the English or French. I may have to read “A Call to Arms”; we just saw the Rock Hudson/Jennifer Jones movie and I got the feeling he was fighting with the French. And if you did, and survived, did Americans get released to fight with their compatriots once the US entered the war? Because I have this thing about research and accuracy, I can’t just plow ahead and make things up. Oh, I could, I suppose, but it just wouldn’t feel right.

I have another thing I’m working on; it’s a light comedy/romance/mystery kind of thing that could be a novel, I think. Something entertaining for the Christian fiction market, perhaps. I want to use that for NaNo this year. I was going to do the GA novel, but I seriously need to find a way to spend some time, even a minimal amount, in Louisiana first. Somehow. This IS going to happen!

My #FridayFlash last week is also a mystery. It was hard to do in 1000 words or less, (in fact, to be honest, I think it went a little over – don’t report me to the Rules Committee, okay?) but I think there’s a very good story there if I work it into something longer. Maybe I’ll try for the Holy Grail of mystery writers — Alfred Hitchcock! Although I’m not sure if they read stuff “over the transom”. Better find out!

So, back to “Mon Coozan”. Like the fourth part of “Here Endeth the Lesson”, I know it will all come to me at once and I’ll barely be able to keep up with my thoughts while typing. But I like that. When the words are really flowing, it’s intoxicating!

Signs, Signs, Everywhere the Signs …

Five Signs I’ve Spent Too Much Time Writing in My Personal Universe:

5. Calling people ‘Cher/Chère’ (Louisiana pronunciation: ‘shah’) and not
even intending to.
4. Turning ‘th’ into ‘t’ or ‘d’
3. Dropping random French into my sentences, like ‘Mais’ or ‘Bon’
2. Adding extra pronouns to the end of sentences, like ‘Mais, Cher, I’m
t’inkin’ about lunch, me.’
1. Not being able to write a dad-blamed thing that doesn’t have a Cajun
character in it somewhere.

Mais, cher, not that I’m complainin’ or anyt’ing, me. 🙂