Tuesday, November 30, 2021

David Oyewolo... the best Jean Valjean

The best Inspector Javert on film or TV is David Olewoyo (BBC and PBS series). 
About Javert, Oyewolo is quoted by
 Bridget McManus, in The Sydney (Australia),  Morning News Herald (June 13, 2020)

"Javert's the antagonist, but he really believe, from a moral perspective, that he'd doing the right thing. His job is to keep order. In his mind, he's doing something incredibly noble and heroic."

#DavidOyewolo #inspectorjavert #lesmiserables #jeanvaljean #victorhugo


Monday, November 22, 2021

Inspector Javert is here.. and he's looking for you...

My latest book, Inspector Javert: at the Gates of Hell, is available now on Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook formats.

Javert stands atop the parapet staring down at the
River Seine below him. He looks into his future but sees nothing but disgrace--possibly prison--for sparing Jean Valjean's life. So, he steps off and falls into the river. But what happened to him next?
I offer my take on that next? And what might be waiting for each one of us when our time comes.



Thursday, November 4, 2021

The Beliefs of Victor Hugo


Bellos, David. The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables (Kindle Location 1667). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition.

“Les Misérables expresses the beliefs that Hugo held, which were quite particular to him. He was never reluctant to say that he believed in God, but he did not subscribe to any established tradition or cult. Contrary to the impression that Les Misérables may make on some readers, Hugo was not a Catholic. Unlike most French people of his age he had never been baptized or confirmed and had never taken communion; he never attended religious services and never went into church to pray. But pray he did. And he was adamant that Les Misérables was ‘a religious book.’”


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Expert and Ethical

Entrust your manuscript to an experienced book reviewer, writing instructor, and manuscript editor, who has authored 16 books (both fiction and nonfiction) on a range of topics and themes. In addition, I offer professional editing for other authors. I have covered all the bases as a writer--commercial publishing and independent publishing. As a veteran of the writing business, I see it from both the publisher’s and author’s viewpoint. 


My Editing Philosophy
Your work is sacred and primary. I will respect your original text, while offering positive critical recommendations in the margins or within the text itself when I see the need. I respect the author’s feelings and sense of pride and accomplishment.

Some authors request that I revise/rewrite their text, as needed (fee structure upon request since no two projects are the same). 

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"Al Garrotto respected my writing and gave me an honest evaluation. In refining my story, he captured the essence of what I had experienced. His enthusiasm, skill, patience, and diligence to detail leaves no doubt that his editorial ability is 'par excellence.' Al also handled all of the nitty-gritty work required for independent publication. He's the BEST!"  Kathryn Davi-CardinaleJoseph—My Son, My Guide: Communications From the Baby I Lost at Birth

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“Al has taken the place of a (critique) group, pointing out omissions, clumsy constructions, lack of clarity, illogicalities.” – Aline P’Nina Tayar, Author of How Shall We Sing? Picador Australia

"Thanks so much for your excellent evaluation. Some of your comments I have heard before, but some were new and most appreciated. I'm looking forward to tackling another edit and working on some of the problems presented." 
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Every project is unique and needs to be discussed before a final fee is set.
The following schedule will help you estimate the cost of evaluating/editing your work.

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A ms. page is 25 lines, double-spaced. (Single-spaced pages count as 2 pages.)

•  Line Editing

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Monday, October 4, 2021

Inspector Javert is Coming . . . Soon and Very Soon


I’m delighted to announce a mid-November rollout for new my novel, Inspector Javert: at the Gates of HellVictor Hugo’s most despised antihero stands on the parapet where the swirling River Seine beckons to him. He hesitates . . . then steps forward. 

Readers wonder, “What happened next?” Did Javert cease to exist? Is there life on the other side of life as we know it here on Earth? If there is, what kind of existence awaits  Javert—and each of us—on that “other side”? I offer readers my own version of what came next for Javert . . . and might for us.   #lesmismusical   





Monday, September 27, 2021

Inspector Javert is Coming for You

Here's the front cover for my new novel, Inspector Javert: at the Gates of Hell in both paperback and e-book formats.

Design by Andrew Benzie, https://www.andrewbenziebooks.com/  

Publication in early October and available on Amazon and through local bookstores and your favorite ebook seller.

Writing Javert took about 14 months and ever two dozen drafts. The writing came as both a pleasure and a challenge. Javert and I share nothing in common other than our humanness.  He's the "anti-me." Climbing inside the head of Victor Hugo's antihero took great emotional energy, but in the process, I got to know him better and understand what made him...Javert.

I can't wait to put it in the hands of readers. Let me know what you think. Thumbs up/down/sideways.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Victor Hugo's Testament of Life

 “You say the soul is nothing but simply the result of bodily powers that begin to ail. In my heart, Winter gives way to eternal Spring. I breathe the fragrance of lilacs, violets, and roses. The nearer I approach to my eternal home, the plainer I hear around me the crescendo of a universe of endless symphonies.

“Yet, the marvelous simplicity of ensemble washes over me like a warm summer shower. I feel like the charming prince in a children’s fairy tale. For half a century I have been writing my thoughts in prose, verse, history, philosophy, drama, romance, tradition, satire, ode, song. I have tried all. But I feel that I have not said the thousandth part of what is in me.

“When I go down to the grave I can say, like so many others, ‘I have finished my day’s work,’ but I cannot say, ‘I have finished my life.’ My day’s work will begin again the next morning. The tomb is not a blind alley; it is a thoroughfare. It closes in the twilight to open with the dawn.

“I improve every hour, because I love this world as my fatherland, because the truth compels me, as it compelled Voltaire, that human divinity. My work is only a beginning. My monument is hardly above its foundation. I would be glad to see it mounting and mounting forever. The thirst for the infinite proves infinity.”

Victor Hugo

Image: Rodin's "Bust of Victor Hugo"

Original Source: Sacramento Daily Union, March 16, 1882 (twenty years after publication of Les Miserables and three years before the great man’s death)

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Javert's flaw in "Les Misérables"


“Few characters are scarier than the villain who thinks he is the hero. That is the case for Inspector Javert, the pitiless cop who vows not to rest until he sees our fugitive hero, Jean Valjean, safely behind bars. Is there no room for redemption in his book – even for himself? The Terminator in a frock coat, Javert makes this list through sheer tenacity.”

From “The six baddest Broadway villains”

in “What’s Onstage”
Zachary Stewart, New York, NY
16 September 2020

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Bishop Myriel: In His Own Words -- Chapter 1, The Beauty of Goodness

I have been invited by Art Embraces Words to do a virtual reading this month (August) of a chapter from my latest (2020) novel, Bishop Myriel: In His Own Words. A firm date has not been set, but I will keep my readers informed through all my online social media sources.

Below, is that same first chapter. Enjoy this "sneak preview."

The Beauty of Goodness


[Myriel’s sister, Baptistine] had never been pretty; her whole life, which had been a succession of pious works, had produced upon her a kind of transparent whiteness, and in growing old she had acquired what may be called the beauty of goodness.

-- Fantine,  Book the First, Chapter I, M. Myriel: An Upright Man
     I am compelled by grace to explore a phenomenon I have observed with awe over the course of my lifetime. We Frenchmen are obsessed with beauty. The ancient Greeks were as appearance-consumed as upper class culture is today. Yet, they had the insight to peg the root of beauty to the word, ρα (in Koine, their common dialect). It meant “being one’s hour,” an interesting linkage to be sure. Beauty, then, knows “what time it is” or better perhaps “knowing who I am and who I am not.” My personal mandate as a human, then, is to know my true relationship with every person I encounter, at each stage of my journey and all the individual days that comprise that journey.

     I offer my dear sister Baptistine as a model of virtuous living. The call to recognize the “beauty of goodness,” however, applies not only to those having a lifelong resume of virtue. I have witnessed beauty’s goodness at life’s earliest stages. A toddler knows no other way of being than “in the moment,” even as the child grows and changes from week to week. A mother holding her child in her arms, searches beyond that moment for hints of the emerging man or woman in their maturity. I suspect that, within every parent there resides an unspoken awareness that they may not live to see their children fulfill their God-given destiny.

I have witnessed the beauty of goodness in teenage years, when it easily suffers displacement along the meandering path to maturity. I pay attention when I hear of any child, teenager, or young adult taken too soon by illness or tragedy. Also, when I hear of young soldiers sacrificing their precious lives on the desecrated altars of their elders’ self-serving wars. Parents and friends remark, “He was such a fine young man, always ready to assist someone,”  or “He was too good  for  this world.”  My heart cries,  “No!  The world  needs such young, idealistic men to stay alive, to make their mark upon our shattered society!” Some of us live our way into beauty. Others suffer their way to it. I think of patients I have known in our neighboring hospital whose clear eyes glow with inner light.
The beauty of goodness is like that hidden treasure Jesus spoke of in Matthew 13:44:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, hidden in a field. The one who finds it, buries it again; and so happy is he, that he goes and sells everything he has, in order to buy that field."
     When I discover goodness, be it for a moment or longer, I rejoice in its native beauty and bask in its bright light. So inspired, I take quill pen in hand. I lay no claim, on earth or before God, to poetic aptitude. At those times when I hear the call—I should say “challenge”—of the muse, I dare to express my heart in the fewest possible syllables. In doing so, I take comfort in knowing that no other eyes will see—and, God forbid, judge--my verse.


The Beauty of Goodness

i see goodness

in a mother’s smile

a helping hand

a loving heart


i find goodness

in a kind word

a silent shrine

sunrise aglow


chancing upon the

beauty of goodness

i catch my breath

stand in awe

Bishop Myriel: In His Own Words is available through your local bookstores or through Amazon and other online book sellers. Paperback list price: $17.99, ebook $3.99. 

Friday, June 26, 2020

Inspector Javert--Here's What a Chapter 1, First Draft of a Novel Looks Like

I've never done this before, but here goes. 
Dear Readers and Colleague Fiction Writers:
The following is my first draft of Chapter 1 of my novel in progress, Inspector Javert, looks like. My fellow writers know well that Chapter 1 of the published novel may bear little resemblance to what you are about to read. So, here goes:


Chapter the First

Javert’s Leap


“Do I stand at hell’s threshold?”

“Why might you think that?”

This unseen speaker’s voice had an unexpected air of calm . . . welcome.

“I committed the gravest of all sins. Taking my own life. Now, I must reconcile myself to accept the punishment I deserve.”

“And what might that sin be?”

“In the moment following my discovery of the one true God, whom I had never truly known . . . we wrestled, as Jacob once did with the angel. Through the whole of one night. Having wrestled with the author of an even higher law than the civil code, I could not go back to headquarters—to my life—as if nothing had changed. I might have even found myself one day in prison. What a fall that would be! To end my wretched life where it began. And from which unquestioning adherence to law had rescued me. At the same time, going forward, taking an unmapped step into the future. Impossible. This very night, my last on earth, unleashed within me the folly of my life, the wretched horror of facing another day on earth . . . . I sought  the coward’s way out. Taking my own life. I stand before the throne of my Divine Judge, sir, prepared for my final judgement and punishment.”

“And what do you expect that punishment to be?”

“My sin is between my Creator and me. Whoever you are, I owe you no further discourse.”

Javert’s unknown companion did not respond. “Am I alone again?” the self-condemned new arrival said. “No matter. I prefer no audience for my commission to the pit of flames.”

His companion spoke. “I am sent by God, your Creator and Father, to assure you, my son, that you are safe.”

“Perhaps you misunderstood, so I repeat. I am resigned to my fate.”

The calm, kindly voice repeated his assurance of safe harbor.

Javert rejected deceit. “Come, Divine Judge! I am a man of action. Cause and effect. Why do you delay? Only once in my life of honorable service did I hesitate. Only once violated my sworn duty as  defender of law and right order. See what it cost me! Life. Liberty. Reward for a job well done. Perhaps promotion to the higher positions which I deserved. Until the last evil night. If you delay my punishment, I accept that as punishment begun.”

“What is the last thing you remember?” his companion said.

“Who are you to ask such a question?” Javert had no history of responding to an unknown questioner. He demanded confessions. He carried out punishment proclaimed by a judge, be it jail time or the most feared sentence of all—years spent in the horrors of the galleys. Even death by guillotine paled by comparison to a lifetime in chains.

“Permit me introduce myself.”

The deceitful response came with a tone of respectful humility.

“I am Charles Francois Myriel, late Bishop of the Diocese of Digne. Your fellow countryman. The Divine One whom you recently encountered assigned me to welcome you to Afterlife.”

“After . . . life? Then, I . . . I still live?”

“Quite. But in a form previously unknown to you.”

“A bishop? .  . . . Of the Holy Catholic Church? Surely you mock me. I reject your disguise, Satan! You have met your match. I spent my entire life unmasking deceivers like you.”

“Your caution is reasonable, I assure you. Nonetheless, such was my position in life. Where you go now there is no rank. All are equal.”

“Then, you too are an unrepentant sinner?” Javert said. “We arrive together at the gates of hell to await and share the fire that never consumes.”

“That is what you expect?”

“I do and am resigned to it. What other fate may the likes of us deserve? A failed bishop of the Church and a fallen guardian of the sacred legal codes of France. How we paragons of righteousness have betrayed our vocations!”

“On the contrary, Javert.” Myriel stifled a chuckle. “I assure you we stand not at the edge of the fiery pit. Far from it, it pleases me to report. Exceedingly.”

“Before you confuse me further, I need to ask how you know me, sir? Have we met before?”

“In earth-life?”

“Call it what you will. I am . . . was . . . known for never forgetting a face. I etched indelibly into memory the image of every man, woman, and child who came within my broad purview. Though a man of your own faith, I do not recall your passing my way or ever hearing your name.”

“Correct. We never met, in France or anywhere during our lifetimes. We do, however, share a common acquaintance.”

“Oh? And that might be?”

 Javert disliked word games—or any games. When he demanded a confession, he settled for nothing but raw, unembellished truth. Cheats and liars, every wrongdoer crossing his path spent time in prison, if the feared guillotine did not claim priority.

“The man known to each of us is Jean Valjean, who still walks in Earth time. Surely you recall that name . . . and face, Javert. I met him only once. You two, I believe had a lengthy history ”

Hearing his lifelong nemesis’s name jolted Javert. A flood of memories gushed back in rapid sequence. Their force rendered Javert speechless. Reclaiming his composure, he hissed, “Indeed. I . . . know . . . the man.” After a nightmare-filled pause, he continued, “I despise the very sound of that name. At the same time—and I cannot believe what I am about to say—I cherish it. Never in my life have such contradictory emotions flooded me at the same time, regarding the same person.”

“I must confess,” the bishop admitted, “I have struggled against similar clashes of feelings myself.”

He recalled his years as a young husband exiled in Rome. Sharing life with his new bride. Their mutual, passionate love and the hope of bringing a child into the world. Not long after her death, he felt the call, of all things, to renewal of his Catholic faith and later—and most surprising—to priesthood.

At first, he had shunned the image of himself as celibate priest, seeing in it a betrayal of his lifelong devotion to his life-partner, too soon snatched from him. She took to her grave their most-prized possession. Hope. A desire for children. How he fought the call to ministry! The stronger his effort to deflect God’s call, the more convinced he became that he had already decided to surrender to the insistent invitation. A decision he never regretted. Not that he ceased loving his spouse, whom he lifted up daily in consecration along with the Sacred Bread of Eucharist. He said nothing of this to the newly arrived spirit, called on earth Inspector Javert.

“About this Jean Valjean.” With great difficulty he asked, “Does he live still?”

“I assure you, Javert, he lives.”