a good end for 2023

Lessons l dropped in on a webinar yesterday. A free Zoom thing for screenwriters suffering from Writer's Block. The guy was quick to let us know that in the screenwriting world, there was no such thing as writer's book, like three times in the first 5 minutes. I sighed, capped my fountain pen (I was serious about taking notes), and wandered off to do something. Anything. Some minutes later I came back just in time for him to stop beating around the bush and get to the reason I set an alarm. Cynical much? I quote the man, but the light shone on the fact that I already knew these things. Self-evident. If there was more, I didn't want to know. This was plenty.  "If you're losing interest in your story don't expect your reader to hang around." And "What's the structure of the story? What I see as a jigsaw puzzle. Knowing that finding the shape of it was something I used to do without laboring over it.  Then, at some point, I started saying I was "


  The first ring threatened to split her head. She pulled the receiver off the hook by the cord before it could ring again; the handset clattering on the wooden floor making her wince. No one spoke. She sat up and pressed the receiver to her ear. Someone was breathing. In the background, muted voices, music, glass touching glass. “Where are you?” “A bar.” They listened to each other breathe for another minute. His lips closer to the mouthpiece, her ear, he said, “What are you wearing?” She looked at herself in the mirror, confused. “Why?” There was another long pause before Jack said, “You’ve never done this, have you?” “Done what?” “Do you want me to hang up?” “No!” Her face flushed as she realized what he wanted. “Should I start again?” “Nah. Don’t do that,” he said. “I don’t want you to do that.” “Then what?” “I want to see you. Tonight. Can you get away?"

the stone cutter

       Sister Somna was waiting for him at the gate. Even though agitated, she said nothing, never did, and flapped her hands for him to follow her to the stables. Jones leaned out of his stall with his ears laid back and lip curling at the sight of the man. Any man.  A black, cross-eyed goat sat on its haunches, leaning against the stall door. It hissed at him. Then, from all corners of the yard, Coupe and the little nun were ambushed by a large flock of chickens demanding to be fed. The quarry had delivered the stone that morning. The driver was a superstitious lout and couldn't stop gawking at the black nuns robed in white. It astonished him that the black coffee of their skin didn't seep into the stark white wraps they favored. His father had told him that Catholics were devil worshipers in disguise and he had once been a policeman, so there. The goat clinched it for him. He hastily rolled and shoved the blocks of marble down the wooded ramp that was padded in layers of b


  There is little to know. It’s dark and I’m thirsty. It’s quiet. A soft, steady wind coming and going from  different points of my compass. I’m floating on my back in water as warm as the air. It moves like the sea,  lifting me closer to stars I don’t recognize. Lowering me down like it’s a living, breathing thing I’m inside of.  Pain comes with those fake stars, stays too long, and wears out its welcome. If I think about place, position,  or perspective, I get dizzy-sick, so I try not to think ‘there’ or ‘where’. At least pain is an anchor. There’s touch and smell. Kind, caring strangers peck at me, busy but gentle, all sharp with antiseptic over sweat. A woman who smelled like fresh dirt and green things held her hands to my face and bargained with strange gods. Another touched my hands, my hair over and over. She smelled like a party. I’m washed, dried, stabbed, dressed, undressed, stabbed. Repeat and again. Then he comes, holds my hand. A life force, a dragon. Steel, flesh, and fi

Magical Realism

 I've had the devil's own time figuring out how to market Prophets Tango and to whom. When I was filling out the categories offered by KDP, the reflex, without a lot of options, was Paranormal Romance. I've given readers a pretty comprehensive synopsis to keep away the people who went to that category looking for vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, and other deviant shit like Tentacle Romances and Sex with Dinosaurs.  Yeah, I'm judging. That is some fucked up stuff and they should look into therapy.  Anyway, those who have read the entire serial know that something else is going on. I just wasn't sure what to call it. I had heard the term "magical realism" before and the only context I had was "One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez which I read years ago and liked.  Now, add to that "Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie, "The House of Spirits" by Isabel Allende, and "Beloved" by Tomi Morrison. So


  Starting at dawn to beat the heat got them to lunch by ten-thirty. They lounged on the crude temporary front steps, ate sandwiches from paper sacks, drank Gatorade or beer, and smoked. Gabe tipped his head back, looked up the front of the still-skeletal structure, and asked, “How are you with heights?” Jack shrugged. “Spent half my life on rooftops. Why?” Gabe looked skyward again. “Good, ‘cause way up there on the third level, this layout has a row of clerestory windows. If Ray had his way, we’d be working off ladders, but I’m gonna break his balls to rent some scaffolding.”  He pronounced it ‘clear story’ and Jack was thrown. He knew what they were, but just last night he heard it pronounced clair-RES-tory by a guy he’d stabbed and thrown off a moving train. “What did you call them?” Gabe repeated, “clerestories. Big, fixed-pane fuckers. Heavy as shit. Expensive.” Jack dragged his tongue along the new sharp edge on his lateral incisor. “Just another day at the office. Clear stories