Saturday, March 31, 2012
Sunday, March 25, 2012
-You will occasionally read a writer who is so good, whose words and style speak to you with such force and eloquence, that you will wonder if anything as great and marvelous will ever come from you. This will either a) make you try harder, or b) make you throw your hands in the air in resignation and never write again. The first is preferable as you don't want to be perceived as the raging drama queen you secretly are.
-At least five times a year, you will vow to never write again. You will go through such moments of melancholy self-pity as to make a violin sound chipper in comparison. This will last about an hour before a new idea forces you back to the laptop. You will drool on the keyboard from the excitement this new idea causes, because you JUST KNOW this is going to be the story that sails you into the literary stratosphere. You might even get a Lammy nomination! But if you do, don't go to the ceremony. That'll show 'em for not nominating you all those previous times. Yeah. That'll show 'em!
-Every now and then, you will get a wonderful letter or email from a reader telling you how much they enjoy your writing. You will print this out, hold it to your chest for a moment, and put it in a box to look at on rainy days... Do NOT masturbate to it. That's just wrong.
-Or read that letter or email for comfort when a publisher rejects something on which you've worked your ass off. Trust me. It WILL happen. But remember, somewhere in the world there is someone who wants to read exactly what you've written. Always. You just have to find a way to connect with them. Submit to another publisher. You must. It is what you do. Beg, holler, and whore. There are a million publishers out there. Someone wants you.
-You will nearly be destroyed when a project that held such promise falls apart and is relegated to the "Never to be published" pile in your cedar chest (more about that later). You will most likely pick its bones for years to come for other tales. In this way, it still lives. It is Frankenscript, and it will haunt your dreams.
-Writing is lonely. Writing has no social life. It makes up its own and its imaginary friends are very, very pretty. But not as pretty as you.
-You experience a high after finishing a well-executed project that is better than any drug. It's akin to the high after a great workout, if that workout ended with an orgasm and a chocolate muffin.
-Not everything you write will find a home. When you die there will be unpublished stories and outlines found as your relatives are rummaging through your things. They will be in slightly messed stacks because you slightly messed them on purpose to give them a Romantic air. Leave these to your favorite relative. With any luck, they will then be published. If J.R.R. Tolkien's family can exploit his work after he died, so can yours.
-Inspiration comes whenever it wants. This can be at three in the morning in a dream. It will wake you. You will fight the urge to get up and write the idea down, but you will lose. Sometimes inspiration doesn't come for weeks, so you must take it when you can. Accept that you are the vessel and this is your purpose. If you refuse, the gods will be angry and chop off your weiner. You wouldn't want that to happen. If you don't have a wiener, they will give you one and then chop it off.
-The day after the release of a new project is a little depressing. You've spent months, sometimes years, with a group of characters who seem very real to you. In some ways, they're better friends than your friends. (Embrace the crazy.)You've spent weeks promoting the book as best you can with your meager, MEAGER budget. And then, the day comes and goes. Nothing. Suddenly, all you hear are crickets. It's as if what you've written, this great comet of such imagination and fire, hardly made a dent in the atmosphere. Have a muffin. You'll feel better. Soon reviews will start trickling in and all will be well.
-Allow yourself an hour to sulk after a bad review, then get on with your life. It's only one opinion, and screw those festering bung holes for not seeing how brilliant you are. Don't be like director David Lean. It was said that the reason there was 14 years between his films Ryan's Daughter and A Passage To India was because of a review a single critic gave to the first film. That's too much power for someone else's words to have over your own fabulosity.
-You are your own personal shrink. While writing you will have epiphanies and realizations that would freaking blow the world's collective mind. You will solve personal conflicts on your own, and you will most likely THINK.WAY.TOO.MUCH. about everything. So learn to meditate. Tell those muses, "Hey, Muuses! Shut the hell up! I'm trying to watch Ancient Aliens here. Jeez!"
-When someone says to you "you're so lucky to be a writer" avoid the urge to slap them with a raw turkey breast. They mean well, but they don't understand the hard work that goes into it. Nor do they live on the salary you have to survive on, which brings me to...
-You WILL be poor.
-The success of others - including your close friends - will make you occasionally jealous. This does not make you a bad person. Maybe mediocre, but not bad. This feeling does not mean that you wish your friend didn't have such great success. But that you wish YOU did as well. You could be successful together and strut around town flaunting your super coolness to everyone you see. Envy is an ugly color on you. But it looks just fine on others. Strange that.
-Promotion is the Devil. Some writers are naturals in the art of promo. Some are not. You will try, but you just won't get it. The guest blogging, the Facebook ads, the book signings...they all look and sound great, but you have never been Mr. Popular and socializing is a bit of a struggle. There is the constant knowledge that, while you are definitely dateable, you may not be particularly relate-able.
-A good editor will save your butt from looking very stupid. When you get the first edits back for a new manuscript there may be so much red you may question whether you even attended school at all. And while the public will thankfully never see your atrocious guffaws, you can't help but wonder if there is an Editor's Club somewhere in the world - possibly a seedy basement or a seedier library - whereat your name is a punchline.
-Finally, be grateful. You're a writer. And your friend was right. That's pretty damn cool.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
All her life she has been ridiculed or, even worse, ignored.
But that stops today.
A new novelette from the author of Man Falls Down.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
Thought I'd share one more scene from "Howlers." This one pertaining to an older wolf who has been scarred by the world. This is Ben's uncle, a former school teacher who was fired for being a howler. Ben - an agoraphobic teenage wolf mentioned briefly in yesterday's scene - lives with him now. One more note about the tale: This was not written as a romance. It's a character study...on werewolves.
HOWLERS - Uncle Harry's Scene
Uncle Harry liked dusk the best. Few people were out and he could walk the town and stare it down, all in relative peace. He always ended up at the high school, of course. That was the capper. From there the night dissolved into regret. And no one could bottle regret like Harry. He had a wine cellar full of it.
The townsfolk had seen him taking to strolling that summer, when all the kids were being called in for dinner. When the streets were desolate and had their most ardent air of judgment, able to single out the sinners. He’d be seen standing, hands in pockets, just looking at the school. Ben told Aimee that sometimes, after Harry had returned from a walk, he was giddy. Like he was excited about something. It was strange for anyone to think of Uncle Harry giddy when he had always been so good at shitty.
He avoided the other wolves. Most were too flamboyant for him. Too open. Gone were the days when a howler had to hide his true self, afraid of disturbing the populace and being thrown into jail or worse. Yes, it was terrifying to be a wolf in
He wanted to howl right there. Right in front of the blasted high school. He wanted to blow out its windows with his breath. He had the rage inside him. He wanted desperately to expel it; to be the Big Bad Wolf and decimate the memories those brick walls held.
There were so many different kinds of monsters in the world. He was one of the lesser ones. Lately, however, he had been feeling a restless energy that would not die.
“You could have been happy there.” A voice from the past lifted into the air with the fading sunlight.
“Alan,” Harry whispered, and with that word he knew he would need the sock tonight. Thinking about Alan always brought the howls on. Alan was the type of painful memory that begat a barb and a blush.
Harry answered to the wind, “I couldn’t go with you, Alan. I had built a life here. I had friends.”
“And they left you when we were discovered together. You were fired and your life blew away. You could have started new with me in
Harry shook his head in defeat. “I couldn’t… I couldn’t.”
And Alan was forbade to talk the rest of the night.
Still, such a memory! If only Alan hadn’t brushed Harry’s hair aside as he stole a kiss between classes – and if only Mrs. Gravy hadn’t been walking by at that very moment to see Harry’s pointed ears – things might have continued as deliciously secret for quite some time. But once Harry saw Adele Gravy, a gossiping hellcat if ever there was one, he knew his career was over. No parent wanted their child being taught by a howler in those days, let alone two of them in a relationship. He was let go without incident the very next day. Alan was decidedly less quiet about it (he trapped a pit bull in Mrs. Gravy’s office), but soon left as well.
Uncle Harry often wondered if he had fought for his job, if he and Alan had stayed together, would Ben have had an easier time of things? Perhaps that was the biggest tragedy of the whole situation; he had let his nephew down. He had let his kind down. He should have seen the change coming. Change always comes, and mostly it ends in progress. Mostly it’s for the better.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
I have been working and re-working a werewolf story for the past couple of years. I had high hopes at the beginning, but it just never came together. It's easy to see similarities between werewolves and gay people, but I was just clobbering readers over the head...and without really meaning to. Finally, I realized the story as a whole would never see the light of day. Yet there are some decent scenes. I thought I'd share one of those scenes with you today.
From "Howlers": Blake is the once popular kid who has come back from college to his hometown on the eve of his high school's demolition. He's accepted that he's a howler now, and this has put him at odds with those who once saw him as the Golden Boy. Hal is a feral wolf who Blake plays around with. They are up on the hills above town partying with other wolves and a few open-minded "normal" kids.
It took a few days, but Blake finally convinced Regina Maria to come to Breakers Point with him and Aimee Jean. Aimee, on the other paw, didn’t need any convincing at all. (“Sure. Nothing else to do.”) Besides, she’d been there before. But
“Who’s going to see ya?” Blake asked. “It’ll be night, and you’ll have a good time. Better than hanging out here in town or swinging on that tree. Be bad, just this once.”
“You sure you don’t wanna come?” Blake had said to Ben earlier in the day. His visits were becoming frequent, if short. Uncle Harry was pleased.
But Ben declined the invite.
All the way up the hill Blake carried on two separate conversations with both Aimee and
Hal Andrews, that swarthy flirt and mutt, swaggered over to Blake and the girls when they mounted the hill.
“Hey Blake.” Hal eyed Mr All-America as if he were a meal. “What did you bring for us?”
Blake smiled playfully. “What’s up, Hal?” It was clear to the girls that there was a history between the two. It would have been clear to a woodchuck. “This is Aimee, and this is Gina.”
A small group of wolves was gathered in a pack under the trees, and they went quiet. A few couplings and smaller groups dotted the surroundings. Not everyone was a wolf, but they all eyed the girls – especially
They sat under Blake’s favorite tree, the one over-looking the town with limbs like frantic, frightened appendages. Hal lay on his side, propped up by his arm, his dark hair tussling with his long lashes, his tongue playing obscenities with the beer bottle while he looked at Blake.
“Ladies.” Hal refocused his attention. “I’ve seen you both around.”
“I don’t remember ever seeing you,”
“I dropped out of school years ago. Live here in the hills now. Sometimes I’ll take up in one of the old warehouses. I get down…Get down to town every now and then.” He glanced to Blake again. “I can’t seem to assimilate as well as our wolfen stud here.”
“It’s not a matter of assimilation,” Aimee chimed in. “It’s decimation: Avoid East Madison at all costs. It’ll decimate your soul.”
Hal got it and he said so. “I like this sheep.”
“I’m no sheep, lamb chops,” she said, taking a drink.
“Town isn’t that bad,” defended the queen.
“Well, it wouldn’t be for you, would it?” Hal said. The growl in his throat was more fierce when he said this.
Before the pretty princess could respond to this apparent insult, the rumble of three-wheelers roared up the hill accompanied by careless and drunken hoots and hollers. Town ruffians are always embarrassing, but they’re even more so when they try and imitate a wolf’s cry. The scattered pack of true wolves and those guests they had with them stood and readied themselves for another wolf bashing. Hal and Blake joined the main group. Aimee stayed where she was.
“Fuckin’ howlers!” they cried.
“Have some meat,” one yelled, throwing an animal carcass at the group.
The two three wheelers made circles around the pack, trying to find the weakest of the lot. They chose a particularly awkward-looking young wolf to make sport of, tearing at his clothes as they repeatedly zipped past him. When another howler would try to protect the skinny little fellow they would nearly be run over. After a couple of savage passes, the young wolf was tired and dizzy, and it didn’t take much to make him fall on his face.
At last, one of the wheeled bullies screamed “Road kill!” and charged his vehicle at the defeated howler who now lay nearly naked on the ground. The driver might have succeeded in killing the poor guy if Blake hadn’t stepped in. He reached into the wheelie, pulling the driver out with brute strength. The wheelie careened sideways amidst the screaming of the two other occupants.
Blake threw the driver to the ground and gave one smashing blow to his face. Blood sprayed like a fountain from a broken nose. Blake roared into the driver’s face, bearing his teeth, and the driver screamed at the sight of the massive canines.
“Don’t eat me!” he pleaded.
The two other occupants of the wheelie had quickly climbed from the flipped vehicle and ran down the hill after the other wheelie which had raced away at the first sign of danger. Ruffians, it is widely known, are cowards at heart. Many of them are caved wolves themselves.
The driver screamed again at the profuse amount of blood his face was gushing, and jumped to his feet, running after his friends. Blake howled to the moon and it echoed through the town. The other howlers took up the chorus, and six young men of
The skinny, awkward howler was helped up by the pack, given a jacket and a beer, and welcomed to the big fireside like a hero. Soon, comfortable laughter could be heard on Breakers Point once more.
When Blake and Hal rejoined Aimee where they had left her they did not immediately see
“You can come out, Gina,” Blake said. “Everything’s fine.”
“Yeah,” said Hal. “You don’t have to worry about anyone recognizing you now.”
“And Blake’s not gonna eat you either.” Hal tossed her a cynical glance as he took up another beer. “He’s all filled up on road kill.”
“I don’t like you very much!”
He just stared at her until she finally sat down closer to Aimee Jean than she had ever done in school. “I don’t understand,” she whispered. “Why would those boys treat that kid like that?”
Things had settled down now. The night was once again quiet.
“Because he’s a wolf,” Blake said, positioning himself in a comfortable lean against Hal’s chest. “There are all kinds of reasons people come up with to not like someone else. Most of those reasons have nothing to do with anything real. It’s about superiority.”
“Is there?” Hal said. “Does your daddy tell you that? Whose god says so?”
“It’s all God’s doing in the first place,” Aimee interjected.
“He’s hands-off, you see.” She scratched an itch behind her left ear under her skull cap. “He watches everything with apathy. He’s been there for so long – forever – that he gets bored very easily. I think he enjoys the strife. That’s what’s gonna get him destroyed in the end. He’s strifing himself right out of existence. People wonder how a god could allow all this shit to go down, and after a while, after all these lunatic preachers can’t give them any solid answers, they just stop believing in God.”
“What do you think of that, Aimee?” Blake asked.
“I say good riddance. If there is a god, I’m gonna beat the asshole up when I finally meet him.”
“Like I said, I like this sheep.” Hal smirked.
Aimee stretched out a leg and kicked him in the foot. “I ain’t no sheep.”
“Well, it’s a very sad theory, Aimee,”
“Be like it was for who?”
“For all of us!”
“Well, that would be perfect, wouldn’t it?” Blake smiled. “And there are very few moments that are perfect.”
She nodded as she sipped at her beer and a single tear fell from her eyes.
“A howl at is perfect.” Hal’s voice seemed less inclined to spite for the first time. He watched
“Dancing naked around a bonfire is perfect,” Blake said. He leaned in and bit Hal’s bottom lip.
“Raaaahr,” Hal agreed.
“A bike ride through the empty halls of East Madison High is pretty perfect,” Aimee admitted.
“What’s perfect for you, Gina?” Blake asked.
She waited a moment. “I don’t know anymore.”
Saturday, March 17, 2012
As the site progresses I will add links, etc. Please bear with me, or, as the French say, bear avec moi. This should be fun...or at least an informative diversion. Later.