Hockey Comes Back to Worcester

Miss Worcester
Miss Worcester

As the author of the wildly popular* Trip to the Quiet Room, a story about loss, time travel, the life of a hockey player, a little bit of magic, and Worcester, Massachusetts, I’m really happy to see that Worcester is getting a minor league hockey team back. I’m even happier to see that the owner is investing so much in the hockey culture in and around the downtown area in Worcester.

“I’m kind of smitten with Worcester. It’s an unpolished gem,” he said. “It’s affordable, it’s smack in the middle of commerce. It’s got a lot of potential.”


I remember going to see Worcester Ice Cats in their inaugural season in 1994 with some of the gang at the seafood restaurant I worked at. The AHL was such a different beast than the NHL… that bit sloppier, scrappier, and perfectly suited to a town like Worcester. It made such an impression that even nearly twenty years later, when I started to write what would become Trip to the Quiet Room I thought that the stories of those guys, particularly when their professional hockey life was done, would make for a great character. And the line, the theme I had rattling around my head while I was writing was from fellow Worcester-ite (and Vassar-ite) Liz Bishop‘s opening lines of “In the Waiting Room“:

In Worcester, Massachusetts,
I went with Aunt Consuelo
to keep her dentist’s appointment
and sat and waited for her
in the dentist’s waiting room.
It was winter. It got dark
early.

So it’s very nice to see hockey on its way back into Worcester to fill those dark winter nights and encouraging to see such a commitment to one of my favorite cities, that rough gem.

 

A Worcester three decker
A Worcester three decker, William Murphy’s apartment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Warning: May not actually be popular. Contains sucralose, which has been shown to give rats and dogs a real headache when taken in quantity. Do not spray on crops.

Version Control: A Book Review

Version Control
Version Control, by Dexter Palmer

As someone who has spent a lot of time thinking about time travel and how to use it in fiction, or even place it orthogonal to the story, I tend to dive into books with time travel with gusto and a keen eye towards how someone else might have done it.
So when I saw Version Control on the shelf at Barnes & Noble and had a coupon burning a hole in my pocket, I couldn’t help grabbing it. From the jacket copy it sounded like a quirky, funny take on inventing a time machine with a bit of a heart.

And while the book is funny (the dream of YHWH as the worst of all possible tenants towards the end of the book is hilarious), it’s not as funny as I’d expected. The grief and depression and general unsettledness of the age in which the book is set is far more prominent, but Palmer earns it with a thorough depiction of Rebecca and Philip’s relationship from the very start to the very end(s). Dexter Palmer fits in musings on love in the digital age, race relations and predispositions, scientific progress, our busy, unforgetting world, all swirling around the lovely and sad family story of Rebecca, Philip, and Sean.

The time machine, the causality violation device, around which the novel works isn’t a flash-bang time machine of H.G. Wells, but almost like a harpist, plucking at strings, jumping from this one to the next, the problems of history and continuity handled in an interesting, subtle way by Palmer. In fact, you (and they) are not even sure it *is* working at all. And that’s the same way the book worked for me — not a thunderbolt but just something that felt perfectly right.

It’s a different conception of a time machine from the one Sam and Laura build in Trip to the Quiet Room — their time machine fits in a bathtub, a storage shed, or a barn and tends to shred sheep in a very messy way, but with bubbles — but I loved his take on it, it felt natural, plausible, and fit so well into the story.

Two thumbs up, go and give it a read.

Exhausting work…

Sending (and receiving, not receiving responses) queries is exhausting work
Sending (and receiving, not receiving responses) queries is exhausting work

Boy, let me tell you, sending queries and receiving responses (or, more often than not, not receiving responses) is wearying work.

The scoreboard is up-to-date (and in the hockey version the empty void of the agents’ penalty box is filling up) and, yes, that is an even, round number of 50 between agent rejections and just simply no responses.

So if you’re an agent, it will make a great story, if you do sign me and we become New York Times Best Sellers… “The writer who was overlooked by 50 agents before finally landing the winner!”

 

 

 

Right?

 

NoResponse

A Festive Fight from the NHL

Thanks to @GaryDzen we have this clip of Jack Edwards singing a Christmas Carol during the Tyler Randell/Ryan Reaves fight during the Bruins game the other night.

Relevant, of course, because William Murphy, protagonist of Trip to the Quiet Room, was a pugilist on the ice, and probably would have appreciated Jack Edwards singing a little bit during his bouts.

If you want to listen to a little more of one of my personal favorite announcers, have a listen to the best of Jack.

“…[F]ighting the good fight is not only the right thing to do, but it can be a heck of a lot of fun. And who has more fun than us?”

Great Article in the New York Times about Concussions in Women’s Hockey

There was a great article on the front page of the New York Times Sports section about the rise of concussions in the women’s game as its professional league begins to take off, “Women’s Hockey Grows Bigger, Faster and Dire”.

On the ice
On the ice

Which would have been a great time to plug my book, which deals with an ex-pro hockey player dealing with a history of concussions (and his wife’s misfiring time machine and a gang of blacksmiths from Old Sturbridge Village, amongst other things). Except it’s not published yet.

So whenever it finally gets published, keep in mind all this great context that’s been coming out in the years prior to it actually being something you can hold in your hand and read.

Thank You from the Bottom of the Little Red Publishing Hen’s Heart

SleepingWell, it wasn’t meant to be this time (like last time). The Little Red Publishing Hen, despite all of your votes, did not make the semi-finals of the Goodreads Choice Awards 2015.

I appreciate all of your efforts and hope you enjoyed the story.

But, for the meantime, it’s back to scoreboard-watching and hoping our author scores a goal or at the very least racks up a few more penalty minutes.

PenaltyMinutes

1989, a novel

By order of her majesty, Queen Taylor of Swift, all artistic endeavors henceforth shall carry the title “1989.” It is highly recommended, in the decree, that the works either repeat, verbatim, Her Royal Highness Swift’s lyrics from the inaugural 1989 work or at the very least follow a similar story arc.

1989, a cover
1989, a cover

Luckily, my novel (formerly titled “William Murphy’s Trip to the Quiet Room“, which was formerly titled “Butterfly“) happens to involve the year 1989 in a significant way.
Laura Murphy, wife of the ex-hockey player, is a plumber, and the demonstration of a work-in-progress project at their home results in an explosion that sends her, her daughter, and her best friend, Eli Whitney (great great granddaughter of the inventor of the cotton gin) hurtling back to 1989 while William and a blacksmith (I can explain, I swear) have to sift through the rubble of William’s life to try and get the family back together again.

Which I think it’s safe to say is sort of the subtext of Taylor Swift’s 1989 album.

 

I Haven’t Died Yet

I am still alive, and still kicking the old agent hunt down the road.

Hits for the opposition
Hits for the opposition

The scoreboard isn’t looking particularly good at the moment (who knew an empty, soul-sucking void could hit like that?), but, at the very least, I’m still at bat, still working on the next thing(s), so who knows?

 

I also don’t have anyone else in the batting order with me, so this baseball analogy, never minding the fact that there are three competitors in the game and I don’t seem to ever get any more balls or strikes pitched to me, is a little stretched, at this stage. So, so tempted to dig out the old Sane Magazine t-shirts (which you can still buy, by the way) and fire up the internet hamsters at SaneMagazine.com for old times’ sake.

 

Update: Score one for the agents!

15...
15…

One-Minute Time Machine – Sploid Short Film Festival

William Murphy’s Trip to the Quiet Room involves a little accident with a time machine that rips a family apart, so the subject matter is near and dear to my heart, and Devon Avery (@Dir_Devon_Avery) and Sean Crouch (@Seanecrouch) and crew have a sweet (sweet and a bit salty, so cover the kids ears while you watch) little story about time travel of a different sort than building a contraption in your bathtub to take you back to the 1800s.

Check it out here or on Gizmodo’s Sploid Film Festival page: