The Outsider: Blog


Here's to them, and those like them...

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Originally decreed as Decoration Day in 1868, today is Memorial Day in the United States. Today is the day when our country remembers the men and women who gave their lives to establish and defend this nation. This is our Remembrance Day.

In preparation for this weekend, which marks the unofficial start of summer here, cemeteries put "flags in;" each veteran's resting place was marked with a small, new American flag. On Boston Common, 37,252 American flags represent every fallen native son or daughter of the Commonwealth. Cities and towns around the country do the same for theirs.

May we always remember their sacrifice.

Everyone Goes Home

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It's a refrain often heard in public safety circles, more often among the law enforcement community but we all say it: "At the end of the shift, everyone goes home." You try very hard to make sure this always happens, but there are days when, despite your best efforts, it doesn't. At the end of last week - on 16 and 17 March 2017 - two rival cities suffered heartbreaking line of duty deaths.

On Friday morning in Watertown, Massachusetts, veteran firefighter Joseph Toscano collapsed at the scene of a house fire in that city west of Boston. His fellow firefighters worked valiantly to revive him, but they were unable to. The 54-year-old Toscano leaves a wife and five children.

The day before, some three hundred miles to the southwest in the South Bronx, New York, 44-year-old FDNY EMT Yadira Arroyo and her partner were on the way a medical aid call when they were alerted to someone riding on their back bumper. When EMT Arroyo stopped the ambulance to investigate, the individual on the bumper climbed into the driver's seat, put the ambulance in reverse and backed over the single mother of five, killing her. She was then dragged by the ambulance when the individual attempted to drive away.

Those of you who followed A Charmed Life likely figured out I have been in EMS for many years. Both of these deaths could have been mine at any point. A former coworker now works for Watertown Fire; I did part of my paramedic ride time at EMT Arroyo's station - FDNY EMS Station 26. We are all frequently amazed by the connections within our public safety community.

Boston EMS and other EMS agencies will send men and women to New York to honor Yadira Arroyo. FDNY and other fire departments will send men and women to the small city on the Charles River to honor Joseph Toscano. These two great rivals, Boston and New York City, will once again put our differences aside and close ranks.

Because that's what we do.

Yadira Arroyo - End of Watch - 16 March 2017
Joseph Toscano - End of Watch - 17 March 2017

Standby to standby

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After looking at what I have written for my second story and the pace at which I'm writing, I've decided to complete the story before posting. This will allow me to review the entire work, to tweak it where necessary, allow Graybyrd time to edit it, and for me to revise it based on those edits. Once I've reached that point I'll begin posting. I wish I could give an accurate timeframe for this story's release, but I'm not sure where it will take me just yet.

Another reason for my decision is a storytelling guide Graybyrd brought to my attention. The guide's author, a gentleman with over fifty published works to his credit, offers a new lens with which to evaluate my current story's structure through, and how to proceed from there; Chapters 1 through 8 were revised using his guide and I've continued with writing. The author of the guide is David Morrell, the man who introduced the world to John Rambo; I have it on good authority his book First Blood is much better than the movie.

I don't believe this story will be as long as A Charmed Life, but I didn't think ACL would stretch as long as it did, either. In any event, it will most likely be the summer before it appears in the "New Stories" list.

The Good and The Bad

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First, the good points: 1.) Over the weekend I submitted the first five chapters of my next story to my intrepid editor. 2.) My writing time seems to be on the rise again. 3.) I'm finding my writing groove again at the same time.

The bad: 1.) I've realized even before I receive Graybyrd's edits the first five chapters will need more work; the storyline needs expansion in places to align with the premise in the story summary. 2.) I am maybe one-third to one-half of the way to where I would like to be in terms of an available chapter buffer while posting; I don't want to change my posting schedule once announced so I may even try finishing the entire story before I post, though that's still not certain.

There's still no firm date on when I'll start posting again, but it's closer than it's been to this point.

Okay, so...

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Best laid plans and all that, right?

One of the graphics projects I mentioned in an earlier post is turning into a possible commercial venture for my friend, with me as the technology "consultant" for his website, etc. This and increased responsibilities at work have, again, reduced the amount of time available to write during the past two months.

While I do have two and a half chapters written in the new story, they need heavy modification before I think about sending anything to Graybyrd; I also want to have much more of the story down on "paper" first before posting. I'm hopeful the holidays will allow me time to slow down and plant myself in front of the computer.

May you all have a safe and happy conclusion to 2016, find joy in being with your families at whichever year-end holiday(s) you choose to celebrate, and may we all enjoy 2017.