As an addendum to the recently posted chapter 53 ... East Durham, New York, where part of the chapter took place, is a real, live place. An Irish festival does take place there annually (and it did back in the '80s, too). Here's more info ... http://mjqirishculturalcenter.com/
... and also here ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Durham,_New_York
I do want to send out a public thank you to those who take the time to write and offer constructive criticism. Hopefully, it's helping me become a better writer. LiaB is my first crack at this, and I still have a lot to learn.
There are two frequent criticisms about the story I'd like to address. Some have questioned why I even bothered to work the time travel theme into the story. I acknowledge that I'm taking an unconventional approach to the whole do-over theme. Most of the classic do-over stories feature a protagonist who either becomes fabulously wealthy or gains a great deal of worldly power. There's a mindset held by a few out there that human nature is such that a portrayal of a character who does not set out in pursuit of obscene amounts of money and power is unrealistic. But who's to say for sure that's the case? That theme has been done several times already in time travel stories (and very well, I might add). I wanted to take a different approach.
Let's not lose sight of the fact that in Pat's other life, he was quite wealthy. That's a crucial consideration here. But he was also quite shallow and materialistic, and his life was unfulfilling (although he didn't realize it). Most importantly, he lacked intimacy. In the current timeline, intimacy became his number one aim, although it took him a while to realize it.
When Pat was first sent back in time, he stubbornly clung to the idea that he wanted to go back to his old life. (Yes, I know - that drove many of you absolutely nuts.) In a sense, he was buying into that very same mindset - that money and power were what it's all about. He crashed and burned for awhile, actually seeming to do worse the second time around. His transition came when he realized that intimacy was what he truly desired in this new life. This transition began in chapter 24 (the long one-on-one talk with Eileen) and ended in chapter 27 (when he rescued Inez from being assaulted). At that point, he fully appreciated the opportunity that lay before him.
I acknowledge that over the past ten or twelve chapters (since Pat and Inez got together), there hasn't been much in the way of time-travel issues. That's mostly due to Pat's current station in life. He's a senior in college, and right now, he's happy where he is. The band is doing far better than he could have imagined. Similarly, his relationship with Inez is far deeper and more intimate than he knew possible. Soon, he'll be graduating from college, out in the real world for the second time, and it might be reasonable to think he'll be more inclined to take advantage of his pre-knowledge. I won't venture any further into spoiler territory. But I'll say this much: any actions he might take will be aimed simply at ensuring that he, his family, and those he cares about are well provided for. If you're expecting Pat to turn into a mixture of Howard Hughes, Abraham Lincoln, and Superman, you'll be sadly disappointed.
One other thing I've heard a few times, going back almost to the beginning. A few have inquired, "What's the purpose of chapters 1 through 3? I only want to know what happened after Pat was sent back in time. All the good time travel stories start with the hero being sent back."
The first three chapters, you'll recall, took place in the old timeline. Pat was sent back at the end of chapter 3. I actually wrote those chapters more than six years ago. At the time, I'll confess, one aim I had was simply to do things a little differently. (My contrarian side took over.) My main goal, however, was to provide context. Given that we're dealing with two timelines that were different from the get-go, I thought the background information would be useful. Also, when the story is complete, it might become more apparent why I said as much as I did up front. That's all I'll say on that issue.
About my plans for the rest of the story ... early on, I threw out an estimate of 55 to 60 chapters in the completed story. Obviously, we're going way past that. My guess now is that the final number of chapters will end up being in the 80's, and that's pretty firm at this point. I do have a rough outline in my mind about how the rest of the story will play out. I also have three future chapters that I've already written, and I expect that they will be chapters 61, 62 and 63 (give or take a couple). When I reach that point, you'll get a lot of reading material in a short time.
One thing I don't intend to do is, without warning, suddenly flash forward to the present time. What I'll do instead is, at a logical point in the story, hit the fast-forward button and move through time a lot faster. Don't worry, I'm nowhere near that point yet. When I'm about to do it, I'll post a heads-up here.
Thanks for reading!