Thursday, May 27, 2010

Four Dogs

Added a couple chapters to Four Dogs yesterday. Felt like I needed to bridge the confrontation between Jeremy and Batu a little better. Next I'm moving on to a confrontation between J.J. and his mom. I need to give him some more conflict to make his ultimate decisions even harder.

Here's a little glimpse from the new material:

J.J.’s head filled with confusion and fear. He felt on the verge of passing out.

Behind him, the German Shepherd let out a painful yelp and then fell silent.

J.J. spun around, listening.


He turned back to look at the ledger once more.

“You shouldn’t be in here, boy.”


Jeremy screamed and jumped away from the book.

When had Batu arrived? How long had he been here, standing, listening, watching, waiting?

The old man stood in the doorway, blocking the exit. J.J. looked across at the window, wondering if he could run and jump through it before Batu could cross the room.

“I wouldn’t try it, if I were you, Jeremy,” Batu said, as if reading J.J.'s thoughts.

“Come. Sit with me.”

J.J. hesitated.

“I won’t hurt you. Unless you force me to,” Batu said.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dennis Hopper

OK. I lied. I'm writing about my birthday today.

My narcissism knows no bounds.

I'm 39 today. A pup to some, a grandpa to others. It's a big year for me. They say you discover yourself in your 20s, and define yourself in your 30s. I have one more year to define myself.

There are a lot of things I thought I would have accomplished by now; being a published fiction author not the least of them. Fame, fortune, glory. They seem to have eluded me this decade. But I have one more year. One more year to do the things I set out to do.

The question, as it has been for nine years, however, is when?

My time is running out. It's time for me to make time for me.

Keep writing,


Monday, May 10, 2010

Excerpt from Tail Ends (one of my WIPs)

Background: Alan Blakely, the MC, just caught his first "girlfriend" blowing some guy in a pool.


At times like this, a man has to step up and be a man. People date. People break up. The trick is being strong, taking the punches life gives you, standing up, brushing off the dust, and getting back out there. There's no sense wallowing in self-pity, feeling sorry for yourself, sitting in the dark with your head phones on, listening to break-up songs, and eating Haagen-Dazs straight from the container.

No, men are men. We are strong. We carry on. We get drunk and hit the bars, because, by God, no worthless bitch is going to bring us down!

"Mom," I sobbed into the phone, "Michelle just broke up with me."

"It's okay, baby," she said in that cooing motherly voice used for calming children. "Everything's going to be okay."

"You don't understand, Mom. I loved her," I wailed.

"Oh, I'm sure love is a pretty strong word. How long did you know this Michelle?"

"That's not the point, Mom. Love is love. I know what I felt. And now it's over."

"Shh," she whispered. "You just let it all out. Momma's here for you now."

I must have cried on the phone for twenty minutes, my mom shh-shing and coddling me through the worst of it. Sometimes I spoke, and sometimes I just cried.

Finally, when she felt I was getting a grip on my emotions, my mom politely asked questions, and I politely answered. I tried to leave out the sordid details, as telling your mom about your sexual escapades is probably the single most awkward thing in the entire world. However, as far as the relationship goes, it felt good talking about. It felt like closure, or at least something close to that.

We went through the history, how we met, how long we dated, how was the relationship. I fibbed at most of the details, but admitted that Michelle and I had met at a party, and that it had been intimate.

"Well, that's part of the problem right there. Any girl who would have sexual relations with a boy the first night they met, is a hussy."

"Mom, no one says 'sexual relations," except presidents and preachers. And no one says 'hussy.'"

"You know what I mean. I'm not going to say it."

My mom. The saint. When I was fourteen years old, when I found out my real father wasn't dead, but had in fact abandoned us when I was two years old, I called him an asshole. Mind you, I was beside myself with anger at the time, having just received the most crushing news of my life. My mother, instead of consoling me, flung a Bible at me, hitting me in the ear so hard, I heard a faint ringing until I started my junior year of high school.

"Don't ever use those words!" she had screamed at me. "My ears are not a trash receptacle for your potty mouth!"

I had no hope of converting her, but at least over the phone I didn't have to worry about flying Bibles and ringing ears.

"She's a slut, mother. Plain and simple."

I waited for the admonishment, but it didn't come.

"So what happened," she said instead.

I recounted how we had gone to the party, how Michelle had worn her leopard bikini and black thong flip-flops, and losing her at the party.

"When I walked out to the pool, I saw this Neanderthal in the water, leaning his head back. I could see someone under water in front of him. At first, I didn't know who it was, but then I saw the flowing black hair, and Michelle's bikini and flip-flops sitting on the side of the pool, and I put it all together. I started to turn, when he opened his eyes, looked right at me, and winked. I just ran after that. I came straight home and I've been a wreck ever since."

"Well, it sounds like you're better off without her, and good riddance. Do you know the kinds of diseases you can get from a loose woman like that?"

"I know, Mom. But this was thirty minutes ago. It's going to take some time to get over it. I just can't believe she would do this to me."

"I think she's just the type of person to do something like this to a nice boy like you."

"Thanks, Mom. I don't know if that makes me feel better or worse."

"It should make you feel better. You're a good boy, Alan. You deserve better than a girl like that."

With that, we said our goodbyes, our I love yous, and hung up. My eyes were heavy, and with the tears gone, sleep was setting in. The image of Michelle going down on some guy in a pool emblazoned on my mind, but respite eventually came, and I slept dreamlessly until dawn with a loud knocking on my door.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The overwhelming pressure to be funny

When asked why I don't write much on my blog, my answer is always, I don't have much to say.

That's not entirely true.

The truth is, I don't have anything funny to say.

As a writer of wit and humor, there is overwhelming pressure to always be on, always be funny. Like a monkey doing tricks, I'm supposed to make people laugh.

Most of the time, I'm just not that funny.

As evidenced by this post.

Being funny is a lot of work. While throwing out a quip at a party, or slapping together a one-liner in response to a straight man is relatively easy for me, it's much harder to be both sides of the conversation and create from nothing something that makes your sides hurt. I have a great deal of respect for the pros who seem to be able to do it with ease, like Dave Barry and Christopher Moore. But I bet if you ask them, it's the same way for them.

Being funny is hard.

And there's not a secret button you can push to turn the funny on. Like method actors, I'm a method writer. When I'm writing a particularly harsh scene in a book, it's easy to turn on angry music or sad music, and get myself into whatever mood I need to get through that scene. But when I'm not feeling funny, it's impossible to sit down and BE funny. I could put on a comedian who I like, but then I'm just enjoying someone else's jokes, and I find myself rehashing the same old lines someone else has already told.

Now I feel like I need a classic poop joke to give this post closure.

See? Overwhelming pressure.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Let's try this again

OK. I cleaned out my closet yesterday. Time to start fresh.

All old posts have been deleted. Let's pretend today is Day 1.