Friday, September 22, 2017

hold my beer

What are they going to do? Kill me?

Today I packed off the first draft of Prophet's Tango, book 1 to a couple of readers.

Sunday, August 20, 2017


         For the lucky living, the night was ripe with all the degrees and possibilities of true love or common lust; anything might happen. It was the year of the Tiger—Nixon was running scared, Ted Bundy was just getting started, and the tallest buildings in the world opened down on Wall Street. 
        All the doors of the Stateline bar were open wide to the night, and the place was packed. Everyone who was underage in Connecticut was welcome in New York. The smoke-laden air inside pulsed out into the heat and humidity of the fecund darkness and sucked back inside with a tinge of marijuana. There was a furtively urgent commotion in a dark corner of the parking lot. Fighting or fucking, it didn’t matter. April was in a hot hurry to be July. 
        The amplified sounds of a rock band complete with horns hushed all the night creatures around the ramshackle country bar for a hundred yards in every direction. The music held sway over all, from the worn, holey denim to the spandex and polyester crowd up from the city. Payoffs kept the cops busy elsewhere. The band, consummate crowd-pleasers, smoothly moved from rock to disco with occasional stops at country and doo-wop along the way. A jukebox loaded with the top forty was on standby and no one could resist the urge to move to the beat.
        Tonight, the revelers would include a woman with no heart and a man with no soul.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

the Tarot of events

I've been studying the Tarot for years. I'd love to make a living being the exotically draped crone telling and making fortunes on a vine-dripping, candlelit veranda somewhere. Terrified that it will come to pass. When I have been so bold as to give a reading (something about getting paid to do this is frightening) I tell people that the cards are just a way of shining a light on possible choices. Choices we all have, moment to moment. Pointing out options that one might not have considered. Signposts...cue the twilight zone music.

It's like this.

I'm deep into revising, rewriting actually, the novel I've been working on for three years. It's really two, possibly three, books and there's been a full-time job and a lot of life along the way so I don't feel bad about the time span.

I've come to a place in the story where I have to acknowledge Anna's profound loneliness, and as the dudes say, I am unmanned. Can't get it up. Can't go there. Have no map, no plan, no words or way to feel. Looking at a brick wall. Blind. Deaf and dumb.

Ahem. A well of personal issues is open in front of me and there is no remedy if I go there now.

So, like all writers, I've found a dozen ways to avoid the whole issue. The best would be to write around it. No, instead I'm doing all the stupid shit. Configuring a new-to-me laptop (bless you sister), driving a new-to-me car (with whom I am perversely in love), deep housework that hasn't been done in too long, starting with the studio.

Somehow in all the stuff shuffling, my notebook from WUUCON with a lot of notes from the WIP has been lost. I'm pretty sure it's here somewhere. It's been accusing me, Slacker, for a month, as I move it and a stack of revision notes, from one place to the next and now it's poof. The cloth on the cover was creation I hoarded until using it this way. Gorgeous, it is.

I did find my beloved storks that Jimmy gave me years ago. They were about to slip down into the innards of a chair that will probably be put out onto the curb before too long. I've been doing a lot of fiber stuff lately too, dyeing and the like, so finding these has significance.

More avoidance activity included setting up Kindle on the laptop and "The Emotional Craft of Fiction" by Donald Maass floated by and I snapped it up thinking I selected "free sample". Instead, somehow, saints preserve us, it's whole and my credit card was charged.

The spread has been dealt. It's time for the reading and for the reader to take heed and act.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

the wet office - process.

I walk in circles for a half hour, netting up the tree trash, setting up a gentle underwater cyclone to gather the wandering loose crap into the center. I made another circle with the brush all around the insides. Think of Death with his scythe.

By now the really small stuff has gravitated to the center and I net it up and dump it over the side. The pump is ancient and does little more than create a desultory current. The cleaning is up to me.

All the while, I've been back thinking about the Problem at Hand..whatever scene or situation in the MS that I'm working on, or working hard at avoiding.

Today was the first time this year that I've gotten into the water and put this routine in motion and it paid off handsomely.

While I was staring at my toes a real, juicy motivation came to light for one of the antagonists in my book. Before now, he was just a miserable bastard. Now he's a miserable bastard with a mission.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Is like shaving off prison tattoos a square inch at a time.

Maybe. So far it works like this. I'll read the last scene that WORKED and then the new victim, the next one and the one that follows it. If it fails on enough fronts - and I've had more than half do just that, I brood over the truth of it.
The five 'whys'.

Then I start the autopsy.
Print and then redact - just like in the movies- with the broad, black marker anything that's crap. Anything that's not a jewel.

Then I brood on it some more and find a different way to set some, not all of those jewels. A setting that not only makes the scene worthwhile but nods to the one before it and sets up the next. Dominos dipped in nitro.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


I was with Charlie yesterday and my phone fell down behind a low table in his room. It's coffee table Jim built from salvaged doors a few years before he passed. Gorgeous. Heavy. Perfect toddler play table.

There was some blind groping and I recovered the phone, blew off the dust bunnies and found this accidental image.

Hiding under the back of the lower shelf was Charlie's Caddy!  It had been missing for a while and he was tickled to rediscover it.

I was beat when I got home and didn't trust myself to write anything much beyond a bit of dialogue that occurred to me on the drive so I started tinkering with this rather haunting image, adding text, mocking up a book cover. I'll spare you.

But studying the image, I had a stark revelation about the WIP. Every character - with notably few exceptions -  has a car that's associated with each of them in a way that is as incidental as saying "Ray was an old-school greaser." It should come as no surprise that this venal social climber in his late twenties covets and borrows his mother's vintage car, "...a 1955 Cadillac, black as the hole where his soul should be."

The female main character, Anna, has had a equally pristine '70 Chevelle that she rarely drives and when she does things happen. She needed something and I gave her a car who she later trades in on the main character in a most meaningful way.

That would be Jack - one of those special characters who drove whatever rolled only because he had to, a city boy transplanted to the burbs. He had no fucks to give, as is said nowadays, but would have been so appropriate to his character I have to restrain myself from writing those words. As it stands, he has a t-shirt that says, "Do I Look Like I Give a Fuck?" that he wears to church. I digress.

Anna's uncle Murph drives an ancient Ford pickup. Gordon drives a limo that's not his. Cholo, a lime-green Olds with obscene white walled tires. Gabriel, one of two battered work trucks - the ubiquitous white pickup or van. Anna's best friend, the vivacious Suze, has a newish TR7 - a convertible sportscar. Even the biggest bad guy drives a new four-door BMW. gunmetal.
I don't go to great lengths to describe the cars, they are just conveyances, but then, as now, people tended to drive cars that reflected something of their self-image, if they could afford it. There's a little more about Anna's Chevelle - it's as special as she is and manifests in a way just as unique.

I had also been thinking that maybe I need to kill one of the main good guys and couldn't come up with a compelling story related reason for doing so. Then I realized that I have already done it. Two of the star vehicles suffer unique and spectacular deaths.

I didn't think about these things when I was writing the story. I wonder what or even if readers might make of it? It was set at the peak of the mid 70's oil crisis when there were days there was no gas to buy at any price in a culture that was born and raised on highways and high octane? We were still deep in our  American love affair with the car. Do I trust that contemporary readers know these things or should I add a fact or two here and there for "color".

I once drove to the gas station before dawn to cue up for my meager 10-gallon limit wearing a fur coat over a nightgown. Sounds like something I should use.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

a different kind of Saturday

Colin had been working on getting the pool cleaned out after a very tough winter. Tough in that, for the first time in memory, there was no ice to worry about. The bio-diversity of the water left standing over the winter was particularly nasty. But it's filled now - (just before writing this post there was a torrential downpour, so it's probably topped off!)  Two new ducky lifeguards are hard at work dribbling chlorine here and there. Now all I need is for the water temp to get up to where I can get in and do the hand scrubbing. Maybe next weekend.

This morning I went on a little ride-a-long with Charlie and Jake to urgent care. Poor little bugger has been perking a sinus infection for a few days. Time for some pink medicine.  He'll be his usual charming self by Monday when I spend the day with him.

After a second overdye, I finally got that Vera Bradly backpack a color I can live with. It's a bit large for day to day but will be nice for when I haul the laptop and other crap to the writer's meetup.

and,  there is a surprise on my horizon!