Book Excerpt: Elsewhither Chapter One

Pat Metheny is a jazz guitarist, composer, and all around fantastic musician. If I could do anything in life one tenth as well as he plays guitar, then I’d be ten times better than the thing I’m best at now. His career spans forty-two years. He’s recorded so many albums that his discography page on Wikipedia itself links to additional discography pages. He’s won more Grammy awards than Paul McCartney.

If you’ve never heard of him (or, heck, even if you have) just listen to about a minute of this:

Many years ago, my friend Eric told me a story. He’d run into someone somewhere and they got to talking and somehow Pat Metheny came up in the conversation.

“Pat Metheny!?” the other guy objected in disbelief. “That guy is terrible!”

“Terrible?” Eric replied, somewhat shocked. Sure, no genre of music is universally appealing and everyone hates something. But even if you don’t like it, you can still appreciate its artistic merit. “Why was it terrible?”

“It sucked. It’s like he can’t even play an instrument,” the other guy described.

As the conversation continued, it became apparent that the one (and only one) Pat Metheny song the other guy had ever heard was this one:

It’s called Forward March and it’s the opening track on his album First Circle. The song is (clearly) a joke. The group had some fun in the studio and threw it on there because (in Pat’s words) “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

April Fool!

My April Fool’s joke last week brought my long-time character of Mr. Sanders back to the forefront once again. Like Pat Metheny’s Forward March, I ran the risk of people opening conversations in the future like this:

“Charlie Hills!?” the other guy objected in disbelief. “That guy is terrible!”

Unlike Pat Metheny’s Forward March, I didn’t have a vast body of work and legions of fans who would be able to pick up on it immediately. Still, I thought it was funny. πŸ™‚

Book Excerpt

But that brings us at last to Charlie fulfilling his promise. My fer realz excerpt is from the novel-to-be that bears the same name as my erstwhile blog on writing. I now present Chapter One of Elsewhither. It’s a bit long (for a blog post). So grab a drink, a lawn bag full of popcorn, and give it a go. Then let me know what you think. And on that last note, there’s just one rule: BE HONEST.

Pretend you’re Simon Cowell and I’m the sad American Idol contestant whose “friends” all told him he could sing but in reality he couldn’t carry a tune with a handle on it. You’re not doing me any favors by “being nice.”

If you like it, say so. But if not, especially say so. It’s the only way I can improve. Don’t worry: I’m a grown up, I can take it. πŸ™‚

Read the Excerpt

Click the above and then feel free to come back here to discuss.

7 Comments for “Book Excerpt: Elsewhither Chapter One”


I loved it! And this is coming from someone who has only read two actual books in the last 10 years. I know, I know! I’ve never read Harry Potter or any of those type of books. Is this the one you hope to have published by November?



Nope. This still needs a lot of work. I have a draft about 53,000 words long but it’s filled with things like [skip ahead] or [fill in later] or [put something interesting here]. So there’s a basic (and solid) story structure, but definitely not ready for prime time. Plus, it’s part of a trilogy and I need to flesh out the second and third books more to make sure the first book doesn’t do anything counter to the overall story arc.

The next book is the (non-fiction) sequel to my diet book. Thanks for the reminder. I nearly forgot about it!


Charlie, I really liked the story and I was drawn in. When can we read the next chapter?? But, since you asked, I have to say that two sentences stood out as a little wonky to me: “Distant thunder, perhaps aroused by the old woman’s shouts, approached with increasing curiosity.” – it seems weird that thunder has curiosity; and “A small, windowless out-building happily stood just on my side of the trees. I quickened my pace.” – how can an inaminate object like a building be happy? I mean, I know buildings can stand proud and tall, but “happy” seemed strange to me.

Please don’t hate me – you asked for Simon Cowell but instead I hope I gave you a Randy Jackson level of critique. And now, tell me more about Mollie and the treasure!!!



Ha: “Randy Jackson level of critique.” I’ll take it, dawg.

“When can we read the next chapter” is about the only kind of feedback a writer ever hopes to hear. That’s a good sign. Now onto your points.

The “thunder” sentence is actually one I’ve put in and taken out several times now. I may reword it again (or take it out altogether again). But to answer your specific question on how can the thunder be curious, is personification (or anthropomorphism).

For the second question: the word “happily” actually has multiple definitions. The way you read it means, “in a happy or cheerful manner.” The way I used it means, “by chance,” “fortunately”, or “by good fortune.” (As in, “A building luckily stood just on my side of the trees.”)

The latter is an older usage, and one that would more closely fit the period. That said, I’ve struggled quite a bit over the language to use in the book. But that’s happily the topic of an entirely different blog post.

Thanks for reading and commenting. It’s much appreciated!


I probably should have picked up on the period language based on the title alone – but hey, I’m not always the quickest one in the crowd, LOL. Thanks for responding, dawg. πŸ˜‰



At the risk of spoiling my future blog post on the topic, I’ll dive a little bit into the language issues I’ve struggled with.

The story begins in and around London, 1864, so it’s understandable that I might want to use as much of the language from the period as possible. In a perfect world, it would sound like Charles Dickens himself wrote it.

But I have three issues with that: 1) I’m not Charles Dickens. In fact, I’ve never even lived in 19th Century England. 2) Same goes for my readers. And 3) this first book is part of a trilogy, but all books take place in different periods. I’d rather all three books “read” the same rather than each one attempt to be “authentic” to its corresponding time period.

I still haven’t come to a solution, yet. Still kicking things around.



Just realized I didn’t answer your real question, “When can we read the next chapter??”

Quick answer is: I’m not sure. It’s already written, of course. But so was “Chapter One” before I put a lot of time into cleaning it up for public display. πŸ™‚

So the real answer is: ASAP. The catch: I’m not sure when “as possible” is.

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