Wednesday, March 25, 2020

taking the plunge

I've decided to go ahead self-publish "Prophets Tango" commando-style, right here on the web. Screw Amazon and its algorithms.  It would have been nice to have all the professional help that wisdom says is necessary, but time and money are running out.

I've had the lunatic (I'm told) misfortune of crafting a saga that would run 800 plus pages in print. There's no chance any publisher anywhere will touch a book this size from a debut author who has written in a difficult to classify genre.

Oh, that home-made cover will give you the first clue. First and foremost it's a romance with a sparkle of paranormal, but NO vampires, werewolves or shapeshifters. Just a couple of spirits and two main characters who have a few interesting psychic skills. Paths cross, sparks fly.

It's a romp, a big, fat beach read that just might someday hit a screen somewhere. Casting suggestions are welcome! Such hubris? What do we have left, but faith in ourselves and the stars.

I give you Season One of Prophets Tango.

Seasons 2-5 will be available soon, so go ahead, get hooked.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The shitty bits

Now comes the part I have to stop saying I hate, because what will that get me? Hives, boils, constipation - the writer's plague loosely called marketing.

I've decided (the calendar decided for me) that I'm going to self-publish Prophets Tango as a serial. Yes, something a little different.
I don't have time to query an editor/agent and wait six to eight months to get an email saying thanks, no thanks or whatever. Too old for that kind of waiting. Besides, there's another book waiting in the wings.

Feedbacking friends and beta readers have been worth their weight in gold, but the best I'll be able to do is spell their names right in the acknowledgments and signed copies. And let them ride in the limo with me.

Dear Ed. has given me a to-do list and I'm scratching things off one at a time, with varying degrees of success. One of the things I'm NOT supposed to be doing is imagining that I can do my own cover art. See?

There are two distinctly different brain countries involved in becoming a published author. The writing happens in the enchanted place all writers want to stay in, where stories are laid, lovingly brooded over, and hatched.

Editing and other pesky tasks like proofreading seem to be a bridge to (dum da dum) Production and Marketing Hell. A place I hold no passport for. Hardly speak the language.  Untamed and strange lands lie ahead. I will step in shit and hopefully figure out how to convince folks that smell is roses. Or at least patchouli.

I went through the steps of relocating my domain away from to A deal dollarwise. Um...lack of understanding and expertise on my part has temporarily knocked into Limbo. I stumbled through a few Fill In The Blanks forms and will see what comes of it. WOW! I did it! 
Now back to making it look like a bookseller's website. That's right, I do the HTML boogie too.

The internet and diddling it has gotten very complex since I put that IBM PC-XT together from a box of parts and booted it up with a series of 5" floppies in '92. Technology feels like a runaway horse and me with no carrots or rope. I'm willing to climb back onto that horse...if I can find it.

And wtf has any of this to do with getting a book into your hands?


Wednesday, January 1, 2020


From June 2013 -

Yesterday I put off reading an article in the NY Times about the resurrection of the Killing -I didn't want to run into any spoilers and I won't print any here.  The article had tasty bits about the actual writing of the story. Much to think about for my own writing.

I've self-identified as what's called a "spontaneous" writer. A scene here, a character sketch there adding up to a whole pile of (very) loosely related fragments. Picture a cow shitting it's way across a broad pasture, wandering, circling and stepping in its old crap. It's become frustrating, pointless and messy.

I won't call it a plot but I need to make a map for myself with the things I like about a good story, well told.  A Start, a Middle and a Resolution - with plenty of wandering, woolgathering and time shifts and character exploration worked in along the way - just respecting those time-honored markers in the long run.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Sunday, May 26, 2019


The woman picked the screaming child up from the grass and a black and red wasp drifted away from them in lazy loops. The baby batted the air with her already swollen hand. The wasp took another close pass and the woman smacked it away. She carried the child into the cool and dark of her kitchen and sat her on the drainboard with her dirty, bare feet in the sink on the cool porcelain.

"Shhh, shh, baby girl you splitting my head. Here. Busy your mouth." She put a cookie in the girl's mouth and the audible caterwauling ceased. The psychic screeching notched back to moaning as Tam put a piece of ice in the swollen palm and wrapped a dishtowel around it, then even the moaning stopped.

The sudden silence was a relief to both of them. She ran some warm water over the child's feet and soaped them massaging out the morning's dirt.

'You know when dis happens, fast, sharp things like this? It's the loas telling you to pay attention to the now." She snapped her wet fingers, "Now is all we have, breath to breath, no? And you need to mind it close, lessons for you, messages 'atween the seconds. Aye. You'll remember him, that wasp."
Absorbed by the tone of her aunt's monologue, the little girl bent over to watch the foot-washing and dirt swirling.

 "He in your history now. The past has its place. The truth in history can't change and even you can't change it. And the future will come for you no matter what. He's the one you want to worry about the least. Time tends itself. Them wasps now, you learned him, right?" She nodded her head up and down and the child echoed the motion perfectly.

 The little girl sobbed around a hitched breath and Tam gave her another ginger snap.

"Shh. Hand better, right? See? Time passed, the body took care. We jes help it along. Come." She hefted the child onto her hip and wiped her feet dry with her grubby apron. "We hang out in the hammock a bit, wait on the old man, then have us some lunch, okay?

Annabea sniffled, nodded, and plugged her sore thumb into her mouth.

Saturday, November 24, 2018


"Prophets Tango"

1   Thresholds

  For the lucky living, the night was ripe. 1974 was the year of the Tiger—Nixon was running scared, Ted Bundy was just getting started, and the tallest buildings in the world had opened down on Wall Street. Everyone who was underage in Connecticut was welcome in New York. All the doors of the Stateline bar were open wide to the night, and the place was packed. 
The smoke-laden air inside the joint pulsed out into the heat and humidity of the fecund darkness and flowed back inside with a heavy tinge of marijuana. There was a furtive 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 quarter-mile in every direction. The music held sway over all, from those in worn, holey denim to the spandex and polyester crowd up from the city. The band—consummate crowd-pleasers—smoothly moved from rock to disco, to funk and blues with occasional stops at country and doo-wop along the way and none could resist the urge to move to the beat.
Tonight, the revelers would include a woman with no heart, a man with no soul, and a pair of hapless spirits on assignment.

Anna perched on a stool at the bar working at drinking herself into a state of safety, insulating herself from the rioting mental scatter of the other patrons. While fishing for money in the depths of her purse, she found a dusty, travel-worn pill. Small, greenish, its embossed markings illegible, she shrugged and washed it down with the last swallow of her third tequila sunrise. Que serĂ¡, serĂ¡. 
A syrupy warmth flooded her body, the noise and jagged energy of the crowd receded, and she took a long, deep breath that lifted her taller in her seat, her guarded cynicism spinning away like a bad dream. Thirsty with the sudden heat, she scanned the top-shelf liquor.
Wary of the change in her demeanor, the bartender said, “Honey, if you’re gonna be sick, take it outside.” 
Anna smiled in slow motion, licked her lips, and focused on him with devilish intensity. “Thanks for the concern, Sal, but I’ve never felt better.” She held her glass up like Lady Liberty’s torch, “Another one of your masterpieces will crown my evening if you don’t mind. Double the cherries and,” she spread her last ten-dollar bill across the sticky bar top, “keep the change.”  
Gina stood beside Anna with her back to the bar watching the crowd of dancers drifting back to their tables. She spoke over her shoulder to the bartender. “Go ahead. Blitz her. Looks like I’m driving tonight, anyway.” 

At a crowded table on the far side of the room, Jack had grown bored with the rowdy conversation and laughter. He tilted his chair back on its hind legs, idly testing to see if, after hours of partying, he could still duel with gravity and win. 
The trick, he’d learned from a circus tightrope walker, was to relax from the center of your being outward. Quiet your mind, and your body would find the way. For a string of enchanted seconds, Jack floated, arms spread at the perfect point of balance. He was ready to flap his wings and fly when the band started back up, drums and guitars grabbing his pulse, his focus. His chair wobbled and one of the girls shrieked, “Jack! You’re gonna break your ass!” 
Over the music, he heard the intimate whisper and felt the invisible caress that had lately been pulling him back from the edge, back to life. 

When she was alive, Hope had been a lady of the night. Tall and elegant, she was beautiful, self-educated, and wise beyond the narrow scope of her world in New Orleans. She’d lived after the Great War but before the depression brought the country to its knees. She was born to the trade and thought well of herself and her sisterhood. She never questioned why her spirit lingered after her body had failed - she was on a mission.
Samuel Archer Fortune had been an apprentice woodsman from western Massachusetts. He was only seventeen when he’d been killed wondering ‘Why?’ when everyone else was yelling: “Run!” It happened his last day felling trees for the railroad in New York State after which he’d intended on enlisting with the Union Army. His mother was grateful to know he’d been buried decently where he’d died. In time, she could rebury him in the family plot with the rest of the ancestors. Many of the local boys who’d gone to the fight would never come home, bodies left where they fell, lost in the maw of war forever.
Death had taken Hope and Sam by surprise when both were young and still optimistic. The two spirits stood in the bar’s open side door, shoulder-to-shoulder, oblivious of the patrons who, equally unaware, passed through them with the drifts of smoke. Although Hope stood a head taller, Sam was a formidable presence, dense with unused physical strength. 
So far, Hope had no way of knowing if Jack‒Jackson Jude Bell, ladies’ man, hooligan, drug dealer, and holy assassin—would be her last connection with the living, or not. What was clear to her was, that as spirits go, Sam was as green as new grass.
“Are you telling me she’s your first assignment?”
“I don’t even know what you mean by that,” Sam replied.
“Her,” She pointed her sharp chin towards the bar. “Over on the end stool. She with the big caboose.” 
Sam studied Anna like he was appraising a heifer at an auction. She shimmered in the light of his gaze. 
“I have an affinity for her that I don’t understand,” he said wistfully. Then he shook himself, “Is this what being dead is all about? Am I a peeping ghost? What happened to my eternal rest?”
“Oh, child.” Hope looked beseechingly at the ceiling, “What ice house have they kept you in?” She closed her eyes and tried to come up with the most basic explanation for him. “Yes, this is your job now. Can you read?”
“Of course,” he said, folding his muscular arms across his chest. He was dressed in heavy brogans, wool trousers, and a rumpled brown linen shirt. His thick, blond hair looked goat-chewed rather than barbered,“Just because I’m a provincial don’t make me illiterate.” 
Hope stifled a smirk. “Easy, easy brother. I was just thinking about something I read on a sign somewhere, ‘Protect and Serve’. Well, that’s what we’re here for, but I’ll warn you, it’s no easy job when they pay so little attention. Looks to me like your girl is as dumb as a post as far as you’re concerned.” She thought about how long it had taken her to get Jack’s attention, and he how still ignored her half the time.
Sam squinted across the room to see Anna raise her empty glass to the bartender. He scowled. 
“She’s inebriated. They all are! These times are steeped in sin. This must be my punishment,” he said, hanging his shaggy head. 
Hope almost felt sorry for him. “You’ll have to get over passing judgment. Not your place, you know.”
“Can they even hear us?” 
“Sometimes, but not with their ears. We have to open their eyes, their hearts. Make them see what holds weight. I’m Hope, by the way. Looks like I’ll be showing you the ropes.” She heaved a sigh. A woman’s work was truly never done. 
Sam looked Hope up and down. Everything about her‒her cropped hair, the flimsy dress that exposed her arms and legs, her world-weariness, shouted: “sinner.” As inexperienced as he was, he knew a harlot when he saw one.
“And just how is it you know so much, pray tell?” he sniffed. 
Hope looked at him like he’d grown a third eye. “God, but you’re a rube. Where did you say you were from?”
“Danford, Massachusetts,” he replied as if it was someplace that mattered.
“Never heard of it.” She sniffed and tossed her shawl higher up on her shoulder. “Well, never you mind about my business. Men and boys like you paid big money for my time.” It dawned on her that Sam had no idea what she was talking about. He’d surely been a virgin when that widow-maker stove in his head, likely only rarely acquainted with his right hand, sin that it was and all. His blue eyes, wide in his snubbed-nosed, ruddy face, were tracking every pretty girl in sight, but the tracks all led back to Anna.
Hope watched him out of the corner of her eye. Is he lying to me or is he really in the dark about her? She only had bits and pieces of Anna’s story. Had she caught him in a lie or the true bliss of ignorance?
“It was you with her in Boston, am I right? Then again outside that juke joint?” 
Sam blushed and looked down at his feet, but his gaze shifted back to Anna with a fierceness that surprised Hope. 
“I was glad to do it. She needed me.” His voice softened. “She knew me. I thought…I thought I was dreaming.”
So that’s it then. He’s in love with her. No wonder she’s so screwed up. Hope understood the problem all too well and wouldn’t take her new partner to task over matters of the heart. Being dead was tough enough on the soul. The music began and she elbowed Sam gently. 
“Pay attention now, it’s time. You just watch. Let her fall into it.” It was not the most auspicious moment, but Hope took what she could get, knowing she had no say over scheduling. 

Perfectly high, a little drunk, and no longer concerned about the border between the two conditions, Jack drifted away from the loud conversations overlapping around the table full of acquaintances and customers. Hope glided up beside him, leaned a long thigh against his upper arm, and rested her hand on his bare shoulder. 
Come on, Jack. Heed me now. She breathed a chill sigh onto his gold earring. He turned his head toward the cool wisp of contact and saw Anna sitting at the bar, her backside to him, her hair tumbling down her back in an unfashionable horsetail, sandals shucked to the floor under the stool. 
Hope whispered to Jack from her heart hoping he would hear her this time. 
That’s right, cher, there she is. Go on now. Go get her.  Hope stood tall, let her gaze linger on Jack’s face for a moment, then glided back through the crowd on the dance floor to stand beside Sam.
Sam asked, “It’s that simple?”
Hope snorted and shrugged. “This part, maybe. That boy thinks with his dick. But then what boy don’t?” She laughed and jabbed Sam in the chest with a sharp elbow. 
He blushed deeply but gathered his dignity as best he could. “Madam, I’m happy you find fun mocking me, but I was preserving my purity for my future wife as the Scriptures instruct.”
“More’s the pity,” she said, dryly. “Now I know why they gave you this job.”
“First of all, who are they?” he shouted. “Are we agents of the Devil or the Lord? I’m so confused.” 
Hope shoved him. “Shush with your questions for now. This ain’t about you tonight. Or me. It’s about them.” They watched Jack come up behind Anna, hesitate, then cup his large hand under her elbow and bring his mouth close to her ear. She leaned back into him to listen. 
“She seems to like him, but I can’t fathom it,” Sam said, disapproval carving a groove between his eyes. “He looks to be a lout and a pirate.” 
“He’s all that and worse, but be grateful she’s willing. This could go quicker than I thought. She’s as much a savage as he is. Maybe more.” Hope shifted her attention to Sam who was biting his lower lip as Jack put his hands on Anna and led her to the dance floor.
“You better get over that jealousy, Sam. That’s not going to help matters, especially when he talks her out of her panties.” Knowing Jack as she did, she figured ‘round midnight.
Sam said, “Out of her what?”
“Never mind, cher.” She sighed, knowing she’d have to hold him back herself when the time came.
From what she could tell so far, their mission, whether Sam liked it or not, was to make the match between Anna and Jack. Why was Sam being so obtuse? And her big question, why did the Powers That Be want Anna and Jack to find each other? Matchmaking, if that’s what this was, had not been a part of her experience, before or after she was dead. How could she get things done right with only slivers of information and roadblocks like Sam? She began to get the feeling that she’d been slipped into a management position without being told.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

the end, my friend.

I'm coming up on the end of the first hard edit and it's giving me the willies. I'm asking myself if I were watching this on Netflix, would I scream at the TV or go down on one knee and say "yesss" with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face.

Am I there yet?