Friday, December 10, 2010

Two in the Bush

Two in progress. One I've put aside to let simmer (from post below). No punches pulled on this one. Takes place in 1981 and utilizes two points of view. Gonna be a long one, but worth it.

The other has a lead in quote by one of my personal heroes, The Manassa Mauler. Call this piece a character study regarding a man who is decidedly not Mr. Dempsey. I'm diggin' it so much- can't stop working on I'm inside this guy's head. Or maybe he's inside mine.

As a side note, I've got something living in my attic and walls. Freaking my wife out- I tell her to imagine it's a tiny unicorn sprinkling rainbow powder up there; takes the sting off the fact that it's probably an ugly ass fruit rat. I've got a trap set though, and I'll get the little shit.

And a big cheers to all my friends out there who I do not spend near enough time communicating with (too damn busy with the voices in my own head).

Stay chill.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

In The Rearview

Working on this one, 'bout three weeks into it. Probably come in at about 5500 words. Maybe more. Maybe less. And you see that bad boy, '69 Firebird 400 up there? A main character of ITR in it's own right. Guys and cars, right?

I come from a long line of car nuts, me being the lesser nut of the cluster. Still, I jones. I got a '69 'bird up in Kansas which needs complete restoration. If I can get it down here, I'll get to work on it. If not, I'll probably have to let it go. No, it's not a 400, but the potential is still there and I love the lines.

My dad and brothers all go deep in the well for cars. My dad has a '64 Buick Riviera with a 465 Wildcat engine in it. Probably doesn't mean much unless you're a gearhead, but that's some serious beef under the hood. He also has a pristine '72 Chevy Custom Cab pickup and a '54 Chevy pickup we lowered down and dropped a V8 in years ago. My little bro' had a '72 Corvette and my older brother had a '72 El Camino he dropped down, put a blower on...the whole shebang. I had a '69 El Camino through high school. Ahh, the memories.

It's been years since I've gotten under the hood. I mean really gotten under the hood. Yeah, I change the occasional alternator and that biz on my commuter car. Not the same thing. So, I'll cross my fingers, see if I can't get that '69 down here. We shall see.

See ya on the flip.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Eclectic Freak Show: The Reading Edition

I gotta slow down. Books are stacked all over the joint. That 8'x8' gorgeous bookcase I built a couple of years ago- jam packed. Who knows how many reads I've gotten started. And I read them all, little by little. Some I get a little more hooked on than others, but it's all about mood. Where am I at this minute? Where am I at this second?

If your game, below is a small sampling of what I'm tearing through.

The Razor's Edge- W. Somerset Maugham. A beautiful piece of writing.

The Blue Hammer- Ross MacDonald. What can I say...I'm a MacDonald nut.

Revolutionary Road- Richard Yates. Too realistic sometimes. Look in the mirror; those people are you.

The Blackboard Jungle- Evan Hunter. You've probably seen the movie. Read the book and dig a little deeper. Warning: It's a little talky, but not bad.

The Score- Richard Stark. Parker has no regrets. A runaway train who's always, always in control.

The Frontiersmen- Allan W. Eckert. Hard men living in hard, hard world. But free.

Anatomy of a Murder- Robert Traver. Just picked this up and remember the old movie well. Here's hoping the book delves deeper into the violence and sex- that's what this boy's talkin' 'bout!

Not what you'd call your "who's who" of crime fiction, but fuck that. I like writing that provokes something in me, helps me see things in a new light. Don't be a chump. Don't tie yourself down. Read outside the box and then go write your best work ever. You only spin around this globe once.

See ya on the flip.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One creepy ass fricken movie

Not a horror fan per se. I watched this one again the other night though: Vampyr- Der Traum des Allan Grey. Highly, highly, highly recommended. Just keep in mind it was filmed in 1932 and it is a foreign film. Still, the itentional use of darkness and shadows is simply amazing and the subsequent effect is flat out freaky.

Watch it with the lights out.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bangin' Away

Still here. Blogging for this ol' boy is straight up Squaresville so I'll be keeping it to a minimum. Been working hard, if only in my noggin most the time, and I've got some doooozies percolating- keep your eyes peeled.

To my pards out there who've be gracious enough to check in from time to time...well, you know how I feel about all that.

See you on the flip side, amigos.

Friday, September 10, 2010

That Time of the Year

Working out this morning sounded like a drag- ixnay. I rolled into work early, juiced up my computer and strolled through some of my favo' blogs. Can definitely tell it's the crazy season. Summer is on the way out. Cat's are fried, nervous systems sayin' "it's you or me, pal". Time off for some muchachos I know- well deserved and we'll be here, waitin' for ya.

Then you got David Barber and his big ol' brass one's holding a big ol' tarantula. You are a better man than I, DB.

Me? Had some mind flashes last night and this morning- much needed.

See ya on the flip.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Valhalla Rising- The Movie

A few weeks ago, bored out my ass, I was flipping through movies on demand. Crap and more crap. I wanted- needed something different. I saw this Indie flick. Looked dark, matched the mood. Couldn't possibly be worse than another romantic comedy or yet one more cop movie based in, and sorry for this New Yorker's, New fucking York.

I was skeptical. The preview talked about Vikings. When I think of Vikings, I think of twenty-first century nerds wanting to be Vikings. Don't ask me's one of those people with webbed feet things; nothing wrong with 'em, just keep 'em to yourself.

Valhalla Rising. I watched it with a freind of mine- Ezra Brooks- and tripped. Those first thirty minutes- as brutal and vicious as anything I've seen on film in a long time.

The film stars Mads Mikkelsen as One Eye, an imprisoned Norse warrior who lives a horrendous life, a marginal existence consisting of fighting to the death. Eventually he escapes his captors and travelling with a boy called Are, hooks up with some Christian Vikings and heads to the Holy Land. Only they never make it to the Holy Land.

Along the way there are some dry spots to endure due to lack of dialogue and action, but if you can allow yourself inside the head of One Eye there is a payoff.

And that's my review. Yeah, it's a lame critique because I think movie summaries are best left to the end viewer. And, although it's cliche, I'll add that Valhalla Rising will be one of those movies you either love or hate. Film junkies will dig the cinemetograpy if nothing else. As for all you psuedo tough guys saying "Vikings are for pansies" you I stick my tongue out in condescension and make a fart sound.

On that note, I'll sum up as thus: if you don't mind a journey into the strange, and you're ready to step outside your comfort zone then Valhalla Rising just might be the beverage you're thirsting for.

Ezra Brooks is optional. Recommended

Friday, September 3, 2010


Sometimes a man just wants to disappear. Right now, on the brink of another season, nothing sounds better than taking my Marlin 336 and walking for hours, days, through a lonesome pasture or hill country. Live alone. Eat simple. Write and read on my own clock. Unload the working class monkey.

Exist for the day and the moment with only myself to rely on.

But life takes over, reminds me. Commitments. Loved ones.

As a remedy I’ve delved into the past. Digging into my family history which is murky, shady and rarely mentioned by others in the clan. Reading books about a bygone time when people lived by the heels of their boots and the strength of their backs. And writing about the same. I do not mind straying from a path, not always knowing where I’m headed.

Sooner or later, we always get to where we are supposed to be.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Five Kilos at Thuglit

Bittersweet success: THUGLIT ISSUE 38 is out. In it, you'll find my very own Five Kilos. A lot of work went into this bad boy. Having Big Daddy Thug say he dug it was like a cold beer on a hot day. Yeah, it was that good.

Why bittersweet? This may be Thuglit's last issue. They're on hiatus per a message from the big man himself (pictured above). Hey, it happens. All I can do is wish them luck and hope they'll be back.

So check out Five Kilos, mi amigos, and let me know what you think. If you like it, tell a friend. If you don't like it, tell a friend anyhow; they might have better taste than you.

Stay chill.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Our Rock Star

So yesterday I'm dickin' around at work and I get this email from my wife. I open it up and there's these pictures of our dog, Rocky. Just look at that face. Yeah, I'm a certified sucker for cutie pie animal pic's.

I've probably mentioned this story before; Rocky's an old dog nobody wanted anymore. We weren't even in the market for a fricken dog, but what could I do?

Add one dog to the Wilkerson litter.

It's month or so after we took in Rocky when one of our cats, Buddy J, passed. He was another animal nobody wanted but I couldn't see him go to a pound.

Now we're down to one cat- Kitty.

Kitty is a bitch. But, she's been with us since we were living in a thirty year old, fifth hand single-wide trailer, located in the middle of a pasture in Kansas. An old farmer stopped by, asked us if we wanted this little black kitty. I didn't want a cat. Growing up out in the country, I always had dogs and maybe some feral cats to keep mice and rats away. The farmer already had too many cats in his barn and he was gonna take this black cat down to the pond and drown her (just the way things are done back home). Again, what could I do?

Back to Rocky. The ladies man. The little guy follows my wife everywhere. Everywhere! When Tasha leaves the house, he stares at the door. When she walks out of the room, all you hear is the clicking of his paws on our terrazzo floor. He's so obsessive, I'm sure the little shit has dreams of them running through fields of wildflowers together, sans ol' Mike here. So what if he eats some cat poop from time to time? Any animal that loves my wife this much is coolie cool. And while I don't have a picture of the elusive Kitty, I thought I'd give you a picture of our Rock star.

Stay chill.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Shine to Five Kilos

Let's go back a few weeks. I mentioned a short story I was working on called SHINE. I finished up said story a couple of weeks later and changed the name to FIVE KILOS- a more fitting title. I'm happy to say that it was picked up by one fierce online publication. I'll let you know when it hits.

Then there's the book. The motherfuckin' book. I say this will all the love in the world. Honest. And anybody who's ever taken on the task of writing a novel completely understands where I'm coming from. It's frustrating when it doesn't come along as fast as it should. It's euphoric when everything gels into a perfect flow of words. Comedy and tragedy. Sanity and insanity. Love and hate.

What I'm understanding, ultimately, is the fundamental importance of PATIENCE. I learned it with my short stories and the payoffs have been, for me, huge. I'm learning this all over again with the book and I dig the results.

On a side note, my wife and I just spent our ten year anniversary in Savannah, Georgia. We've been there a few times and it's always a trip for us. We dig on the old architecture. We eat too much. I drink too much. We had a blast. Fourteen years together and ten years of marriage to an angel. My flesh and blood savior. My everything. My Tasha Rae.

And with that, I'm done.

Stay chill, my friends.

Friday, July 2, 2010

To Hell And Back

Totalled up, I've probably spent days and most likely weeks, thinking about Audie Murphy. It started with a viewing of the movie about his days in WWII- To Hell And Back- some twenty years ago while still in my teens. Of course they said the little guy in the movie playing Audie Murphy was in fact Murphy himself. Seemed so hard to believe.

Murphy was small man- 5'5" and of a slight build. He grew up a poor, Texas farmboy one of twelve children. He became a crack shot because he had to in order to feed his family: One of his favorite hunting companions was neighbor Dial Henley. When he commented that Murphy never missed when he shot at squirrels, rabbits, and birds, Murphy replied, "Well, Dial, if I don't hit what I shoot at, my family won't eat today."

He was rejected by damn near every branch of the military, including the Marines and Navy, because of his size. The Army decided he was big enough for them. Still, he had to fight in order to get overseas and into the action.

His bravery in war is legend. His list of medals is too long to list. This we know. What I wonder about Murphy, is how he lived after the war. I do not mean the movie star aspect. Or his gambling and adultery. Rather, I'm talking about the war inside his own mind.

Murphy suffered from shell shock- PTSD as it's known today. With it came the nightmares and depression which would plague him for the rest of his life. At one time, he held his first wife at gunpoint. He became addicted to sleeping pills and realizing his addictions, locked himself in a motel room and fought through withdrawal. One tough amigo.

Audie Murphy was killed in a plane crash in the year of 1971 over Memorial Day weekend. He died nearly broke, squandering millions on gambling, bad investments and women. He was human. He was also one of this country's great, tragic heroes and a person who I will never know enough about.

His grave site in Arlington, is the second most visited after that of JFK.

For more information on Audie Murphy, check out the Audie Murphy Memorial Website

Friday, June 18, 2010

Book Review: Junky

Of course I'd heard of William S. Burroughs on many occasions. I heard he liked to get high- heroin his drug of choice. I heard he was light in the loafers. I heard that he was a nut job. I heard that some of his writing was bad ass. I heard that some of his writing was straaange. I still never read him.

Friday, June 11th. I got a 40% off Border's coupon. I'm walking down the isles of books, head cocked sideways to read the titles. I see this one: Junky: The Definitive Text of Junk by William S. Burroughs. What the hell, I'll give it a shot.

I read it in one sitting.

It's not a flowery, literary garble of the downtrodden life of a heroin addict. Rather, it's a straightforward account of the life of a junky, without the sentiment. An autobiographical novel, Junky illustrates what an addict will do for a fix: roll drunks, become a pusher themselves, etc. And the numerous failed attempts to get clean. Somehow, it manages to explain in detail the junky lifestyle, without preaching. And it does so in cool, hepcat fashion. Oh yeah, it was also written during the early 50's- further proof that life back then was not always the little pink houses and cookouts as portrayed in the movies.

At some point, crime writers tend to write about drugs. If you want to get a great account of the drug culture, give Junky a read.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I'm into my fourth week working on this one. I've found I need about six weeks to turn out a quality short story, and SHINE should come in around that period of time. From a stylistic standpoint, look for something a bit different than my previous work.

Other than this, there's not much to report. I've been digging in with my writing, while also trying to gain back some lost years (a long, long, long story). I'll let you know when SHINE finds a home.

And that picture? You're looking at my hometown of Zurich, Kansas. Not much has changed over the years. Look for an appearance of Zurich, in SHINE.

Stay chill, my friends.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hellhound on His Trail

Got a lot going on these days: About four short stories in progress, still working on the book and preparing for my wife's graduation, which means half the state of Kansas is coming to Florida...does the fun ever stop? I've also been doing a little reading and right now I'm about halfway through one damn good book.

Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin, by Hampton Sides. I was first turned on to Hampton Sides a few years ago, when I read his book Ghost Soldiers, which may have been both the most heartbreaking and triumphant book I've ever read. Since Ghost Soldiers, I've become a dedicated Sides fan and he never disappoints.

Like Ghost Soldiers, Hellhound is a work of nonfiction which reads like the best of any fiction I've ever read. To be forthright, I've never given that much thought to the King assassination, possibly because it's never been quite as publicized as say, the JFK assasination. But the picture Sides paints of both Eric Galt (aka James Earl Ray) and Martin Luther King Jr. are just sooooo good: Ray as the prison escapee who wanted to be a porn director and lived in flea bag motels and boarding houses, yet dressed in a cleaned and pressed suit at all times. King Jr. as a man who's tireless schedule had him ready to snap both physically and mentally, was absolutely dedicated to non-violence, but still human with various sexual liaisons. Good stuff.

I know what you're thinking; a lot of non-fiction accounts are chock full of information like I've listed above and read like a dictionary, ie, boring. The problem being said chumps who write those books, don't know how to tell a story! Sides does. And you want to talk about pacing? On that point, I'll just say Hampton Sides writes like the devil in short shorts!

So if you want a little switcharoo from that pile of fiction you've been hacking your way through, check out Hellhound on His Trail. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I’m big on biographies and non-fiction accounts in general. I like people who don’t quite have it all together, yet seem to make out on some higher level or at the very least, have a profound impact on others.

Several months ago, I read a biography on John Steinbeck. It brought me back to required reading in High School with books like The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men. Do I like everything he wrote? Hell no. My point is the man put some thought into his writing and refused to rest on his laurels. To illustrate, below is a letter he wrote in reference to style:

"When a writer starts in very young, his problems apart from story are those of technique, of words, of rhythms, of story methods, of transition, of characterization, of ways of creating effects. But after years of trial and error most of these things are solved and one gets what is called a style. It is then that a story conceived falls into place neatly and is written down having the indelible personal hallmark of the writer. This is thought to be an ideal situation. And the writer who is able to achieve this is thought to be very fortunate.

I have only just arrived at a sense of horror about this technique. If I think of a story, it is bound automatically to fall into my own personal long struggle for technique. But the penalty is terrible. The tail of the kite is designed to hold and in many cases drags it to earth. Having a technique, is it not possible that the technique not only dictates how a story is to be written but also what story is to be written? In other words, style or technique may be a straitjacket which is the destroyer of the writer. It does seem to be true that when it becomes easy to write the writing is not likely to be any good. Facility can be the greatest danger in the world. But is there any alternative? Suppose I want to change my themes and my approach. Will not my technique, which has become almost unconscious, warp and drag me around to the old attitudes and subtly force the new work to be the old?

I want to dump my technique, to tear it right down to the ground and start all over."

I read and re-read this passage. I put into context the MAJOR player Steinbeck was at the time. It didn't matter. He was ready to take a mutinous stance in regards to his previous execution of the craft. He knew he was liable for the words he put on paper. He knew he was shortchanging himself, and his readers, if he didn’t take new chances. If not prepared, he was at least willing to do something about it.

What it says to me is when something you’re writing doesn’t sound good, look good or feel good, try another way. Yeah, you could continue to mope around your house like a pansy with their diapers full of crap. Instead, how about re-thinking what you’ve been doing...or not doing. Lengthen a sentence. Shorten a sentence. Build your vocabulary. Buy a bad ass thesauruses like The Synonym Finder. Re-read your favorite authors. Put one of their books in front of you, type out a paragraph or two.

Do all of it.


Friday, March 26, 2010

The Big Adios

Okay knuckleheads, you should be doing more writing and less web surfing the way it is. But if you're a crime fiction and movie nut, you might want to head on over and check out The Big Adios. You can shoot the shit about books and movies. You can fraternize with well known authors like Tom Piccirilli and Max Allan Collins, just to name a few.

You can get further behind on your novel or short story.

So do yourself a favor and grace them with your presence. It's one of those forums where everyone is mondo cool, egos checked at the door. And if you're one of those types who signed up in the past but haven't been there in awhile, they just added an "off topic" section as well.

And while you guys and gals are there, I'll be here, working and not writing.

Yeah, just go on believing that.

See ya on the flip side.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Stranger Than Fiction Part 3: Police Capture Man Dressed As Woman After Wild Chase

This guy has pizzazz...

From the St. Pete Times/

By Robbyn Mitchell, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Thursday, March 18, 2010

TAMPA — Jermonte Jerome Thornton had been out of prison only nine months after serving more than a year for a cocaine conviction.

When Tampa police moved in Wednesday afternoon to arrest him on a warrant that could return him to prison, Thornton fought back, officers said.

Police said Thornton led officers on a dramatic two-hour chase in which he rammed three police vehicles, nearly knocked down a tree, was shot by police, invaded a woman's apartment, donned her clothes and wig to disguise himself, then vaulted off a second-floor balcony.

Police sicced a dog on Thornton, 27, and finally arrested him.

The chain of events began about 2 p.m. when police surrounded Thornton's car at a Sulphur Springs address. He rammed three vehicles, then a tree, almost knocking it over and putting officers in danger of getting run over, police said.

Cpl. Bryon Hoskins and Officer Tim Bergman shot into Thornton's car, hitting him once. But Thornton rammed his way out of the blockade, police said.

Officers pursued Thornton to Scruggs Manor Apartments at 11201 N 22nd St., where he ditched the car, they said.

Then he ran into the nearby Lenox Place Apartments, trailing blood the whole way.

"He lost a considerable amount of blood in his car," police Chief Jane Castor said.

Police say he knocked on unit B207 and said: "It's me." Thinking it was her boyfriend, Tydarreia Watkins, 20, opened the door. Thornton, who police said does not known Watkins, forced her back into the apartment.

Following the blood trail, police narrowed Thornton's location to four possible apartments. When officers burst in the fourth door, a blur of pink went airborne over the balcony, Castor said.

It was Thornton, police said, wearing a pink dress, pink shoes and a woman's wig belonging to Watkins.

Thornton bolted north across the parking lot, which was teeming with officers. He scaled a fence and dashed across railroad tracks toward a wooded area, where he was caught by a police dog and officers.

Thornton was charged with aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, home invasion robbery and false imprisonment. Police had been looking for him because he was wanted on charges of armed burglary, battery and aggravated assault. Police say they found a gun in his car, so more charges may be forthcoming.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Five Big Ones

I was thinking last night (hold the sarcasm) about books which have influenced me over the years, in terms of my writing style. While there are several which I've liked and have gone on to read again a time or two, there are a few which I've read at least five or six times. Their voice, consequently, has had a profound effect on the manner in which I approach my writing. The list below is my top five- for now.

1. The Black Dahlia- Big book for me. Huge. So many times before Dahlia, I'd picked up a James Ellroy book in the bookstore, looked at his picture with those geeky spectacles and said "what the fuck could this guy possibly know about crime writing?" Then a few years ago my wife and I were getting ready to drive back to Kansas for Christmas. I saw the audiobook for Dahlia and thought what the hell, I'd give it a shot. We ended up listening to it on the way back and I was stunned. I still can't put my finger on what "it" is, but for me The Black Dahlia, and most Ellroy writing, has "it" in spades.

Since The Black Dahlia I've become an unabashed lover of Ellroy's writing and have gone on to read and re-read most of his work several times. Dahlia started it off for me and at any given time I would probably rate The Black Dahlia, LA Confidential or American Tabloid as my all time favorite read.

2. Double Indemnity- A stalwart book from a man I consider the definitive noir stylist. While many mention The Postman Always Rings Twice when referencing Cain, for me it's always been Double Indemnity. What is it about Cain? I think it's relateability. Often times in Cain's work, it's just some average chump who happens to fall for some lusty broad, who in turn brings said chump to their knees- a scenario any hot blooded male with lead in his pencil can relate to.

Ultimately, though, what I see in Cain's work is balls: Read what he wrote and then compare the sheer boldness of his themes, not only to his own time period, but also to our own times. The guy took mondo chances with his subject matter and his narrative voice was never forgiving. He pointed his pen in one direction and said, "stop me if you fucking can." Balls.

3. Horseman Pass By- Larry McMurtry is as far from being a hardboiled crime writer as you can get. But, he does have a knack for creating characters you can't help but love, whether you want to or not. One of the main characters, Hud, is a man who would fit into any crime story from any time period: A manipulative, self-serving asshole who's good with the ladies, bad with his family and through it all you find yourself admiring him for his charisma and charm- he's simply the man you'll never be. And I'll admit, having come from the desolate plains of Kansas, I can relate to the depressing, rural strides of life in this book.

4. To The White Sea- James Dickey was a major poet and one of the biggest liars who ever lived. He could also write some extremely surreal stuff, with his best known work being Deliverance- no slouch in its own right. To The White Sea is a viscerally poetic and dark story which takes place during WWII and though you may not get it the first time around, due to some heavy symbolism, I would ask you to give it another chance. For me it's one of those books I read and then shrugged my shoulders at- a little too flowery for my taste. Then I found myself thinking about it for days afterward. So I read it again. And again.

If you take a chance on this book, I think you'll agree its main character, Muldrow, is someone you'll never forget. The trek he embarks on is harrowing, and his persona is that of a man whose perserverance and hate never once falter. The ending is extraordinary.

5. The Day Of The Jackal- Forsythe tends to run hot and cold with his writing. Jackal almost starts out cold, but once you get past the first fifty pages or so of backstory, Jackal is a bored out, eight cylinder turbo charged beast which moves at a blistering pace. And because of the detail Forsythe applies, which surprisingly does not drag the story down, a burgeoning writer can learn a lot about character development (not to mention fake ID's, disguises, firearms and seduction of both the female and male variety).

Monday, February 22, 2010


Still here, still working it. Been busy doing a hell lot of writing, just not here at the Hard Way. Sorry 'bout that. Well, not really- more important things afoot here in the 'burg. I'll lay it out below.

Here's the breakdown for a typical weekday: Go to work, rush through business stuff and start writing (my job is flexible at this slow time of the year). Write/work/write work all day long. Work day ends at five, stay and write till seven- seven thirty. Go home, walk Rocky the geezer mutt, get a workout in and maybe do a little reading before off to bed.

Weekends are a little different. My wife works full time and is completing her Masters program. We've always split household chores, but now it's shifted to my hands about 99% of the time. No big deal- she'll get to support me when I'm an old fart with leaky plumbing. I take care of domestic duties weekday evenings and half a day on Saturday, give or take. When I'm through with that humdrum business, I try to get in about six hours writing on Saturday and a couple on Sunday. Suffice to say, my yard resembles your yard and that just ain't good.

I did manage to sneak in a movie(s) this weekend. I watched all three of the Red Riding trilogy: 74, 80, 83. Good stuff- check 'em out.

There you go. In a nutshell it's what I've been up to for the last month or so. If I got time to write, I'm working on my book or fiddling with a short story or two. My only regret, is missing out on some of the work by the new friends I've made over the past year. But they're cool. They get what I'm working toward.

Till next time...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Win a Signed, First Edition Copy of Matt Hilton's Slash and Burn!

I know this mug. Cat writes insane thrillers. How insane? You better have nitroglycerin pills and a defibrillator laying around when reading one of his books. You guessed it, I'm speaking of Matt Hilton, the creator of Dead Men's Dust and soon to be released, Judgement and Wrath.

Matt's double cool. So cool, he's running a little competition which gives you the chance to win a signed, first edition copy of his new book, SLASH AND BURN. Matt's giving you this opportunity and all you need to do, is something you should be doing anyhow: Writing! Want more details? I thought you would. Take a little trip over to Matt's blog and check it out: Matt Hilton's Short Story Competition

Good luck!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Setup

Weaving in and out of a writing euphoria: I knew I was losing it, when I looked over at my fat, black cat, Kitty, and she said "What the fuck's your problem?"

I only asked for her help in solving a few, minor plot issues. I stared her down. She returned the stare. I back down then she backs down. Back and forth this went, until I heard a rustlin/banging noise from the back room. She smiled and I swear to God she nodded- cocky bitch.

I move to the back room and there's our old dog, Rocky, turning her litter box into a smorgasbord. How do you make a puking sound in a blog post? He's chewing...something and smacking his lips, which are now dotted with kitty litter. We do the stare thing. He flashes puppy dog eyes. I chase him out of there and coming back up front, I see what they were up to: Kitty's puked up a hairball on my manuscript.

It was the perfect plan- a well executed setup performed by a ten year old cat and a thirteen year old dog.

And no, there is not a drop of booze flowing through my system.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I see you there: You're at work. You check your personal email- you're not supposed to. You get the word: Crimefactory is up and running. You check out the site, see those craaazy mug shots and an insane list of authors.

I guess those reports can wait.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Truth is Stranger than Fiction- Part 2

Ever sit down to write something and your mind goes blank? No inspiration? You read the papers, or cruise the internet and it's the same old, same old. Sometimes, it's just outside your backdoor, right in your home town. As is the case with the story linked in this post.

This seemed pretty mild at the beginning. There were a few strange things in the middle- that whole "Babyland" bit. When you get to the end of though, you realize what she went through and what she's now going through. Those last six sentences will break your heart: St. Petersburg Woman Sues Cemetary

The cemetary owner(s) my Father in Law would say: "Somebody should bust that fucker in the head."


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Query Blues

As many of you now know, writing a book is only a small part of the battle. When you've decided that the novel is complete and you're ready to put yourself out there to potential agents, you also know that you must have a query to send out first. It's pretty straightforward: Hook an agent with the first sentence and pull them in with 4-5 more. Less is more. Easy.

Or not. Writing a query is like riding through hell on a porcupine. It's a long, uncomfortable process that's a pain in the ass. I'm new to the query letter and trying to get the gist of your book down in a few sentences can be tough. Or really fucking hard. Especially, if your plot is not a "paint by the numbers" plot.

I've probably seen every sample query on the net. They are all different. One site says to do this. Another says to do that. Then I found Query Shark, a blog ran by agent Janet Reid. She gives you specific instructions on the format of a query. You send in your query and maybe she selects and critiques it on her blog. She cuts down to the fucking bone. There's no mollycoddling involved. Nope, she's dead honest and that's why I like her blog. You get to see the queries which made the cut and those which didn't make the cut. Go see for yourself which is the larger of those two categories.

I sent in a query to the shark a few months ago. I think at the time, she mentioned having around 1,700 on the docket, so chances of her ever getting to mine are slim. I'm actually grateful for that. I think I've learned quite a bit about writing a query since then, even if I did read her instructions and followed them. Or rather, thought I followed them- I'm not so sure anymore, after re-visiting her blog. I'm in limbo until she reads it, or it falls into the hand of an agent. It's at that point where I will get the ultimate feedback, in the form of an ass-whipping critque, acceptance or rejection.

I'll finish up with this one point: All agents are different. Research the agent you will be sending your query letter and pages to. Educate yourself on what that particular agent wants and do not be an ignoramus. Even though you may still very well get a rejection slip, at least do yourself the honor of going in with both barrels loaded. After you've done all of that, be patient with the query writing process and do not send it out until it's ready. Your writing career just might depend on it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Saturday at Haslam's

On a good Saturday when chores are not in the pipeline, I'll head off to the largest new and used book store in Florida, Haslams. It's a five minute drive, right on Central. I browse for an hour or two, sometimes coming away with one or two books. Today, I picked up four- eight if you consider one is a collection.

It's cold and raw down here in the Burg today. They claimed a brief snow flurry in Tampa. Freezing in Florida means your orange juice is now an expensive commodity. Haslam's is my oasis: cats running around, nice people working the store and sometimes, huge bargains on books you rarely even see at Borders or B&N. I'll state my case for Haslam's below, while you're drinking that five dollar glass of juice.

Ross Macdonald- Sleeping Beauty- $9 hardback. I've become a bit obsessed with Macdonald. His books are hard to find around here and only ocassionaly will Haslam's have one. Beyond his storytelling chops, it's also really his sentence structure that keeps you turning the pages. If you haven't read Ross Macdonald, you need to.

James M. Cain- Serenade- $3 paperback. In my opinion, James M. Cain was at his best in Double Indemnity and a close follow up with Postman. This one looks a little different, but Cain is a master I'm always willing to read.

Ace Atkins- Crossroad Blues- $5 paperback. I've only tried to read one other Ace Atkins book. It was White Shadow. I've picked it up and put it down, a half dozen times. For some reason, I want to like his writing. We'll see if this book can lead me down a better path.

Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950's- $17 hardback. Five novels: The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. Pick-Up by Charles Willeford. Down There by David Goodis and The Real Cool Killers by Chester Himes. I was fucking giddy when I found this one. I'll leave it at that.

Total spent- $34

After I bought the books, I went over to a street corner, seafood take-out stand I frequent. It's a funky little establishment. Twelve boiled shrimp and a potato, in spicy garlic butter- $5. Then I went and read some kick ass work by Lee Hughes, David Barber and Michael J. Solender. Now, I'm back home to work on my novel. I've commited to work on it, at least three hours a day. But, I think about it all day.

There you go, a good day in my life. So my friends and enemies, what's a good day in yours?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I've been doing a lot of writing these last few days, just not of the blogging variety. Instead, it's been all about the book, including having chapters reviewed (read as shredded) by some pretty tough hombres. Even as they're being picked over, I'm making changes to them because sometimes you don't know if your writing can be better, until you provide an alternative example. I was struggling with this in relation to the opening chapters for about two months, until just this Monday. Something about them, just never felt...right. Dig what I'm saying?

It's not that I thought the opening chapter and chapters were bad, it's just that they always seemed like they could be better. So as I was reading over the beginning, I really tried to answer the question, of what it was that was actually bugging me about the opening. I can now answer that question with one word "bloat".

In this case, bloat refers to information that may not be progressing the actual plot of the story. As an experiment, I'm replacing this information with a tighter, more concise picture of the main characters who make up the book. This means taking this story apart for the first 6-9 chapters, which is where the setup for the plot is. When I make those changes to character background, it will also affect the plot. I feel it will be a positive outcome. I'll try it, send it off to my reviewers and see what they think.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Ligature Marks' January Issue is Up and Running!

So go check it out here: Ligature Marks. It's a cool site and has some really great writing, along with interviews, book and also film reviews. And of course, LM is rockin' my own work as well, in Gulf Coast Swimmer.

And now, for my "Did you know?" session about this story. Why? Because I read a lot of stories, and often wonder where they come from. Are they random thoughts? Did they start out one way, only to end up completely different? Well, below is some insight into GCS.

  • This story, originally began from the memoir of an up and coming criminal type. He was young and enthusiastic and willing to do anything it took, to get to the top. I bore a couple of brain blips over the next couple of days and it morphed into a detective story.
  • I was researching information for another piece of work, when I came upon the term "suburbanism" and its relationship to St. Petersburg during the late, 1970's. It was interesting and was a trigger point for changing the direction of the story.
  • The store with the name "Bargain Phones and Shoes", really exists. Yet, I have no idea if it existed back then. Regardless, I imagined having the same thoughts that Mark Hertlein did, everytime he drove by it.
  • Vic's house and my own, are one in the same.
  • The letter to Vic's daughter, came only as an afterthought. The time frame and the letter, completely shook up the story and changed it from my previous work, as I imagined the type of bond that Vic and his daughter must have for him to make his confession. The positive way in which it added to the story, was gravy.
  • It may seem like I gave up the money shot to this story, but I didn't. There is much more to this and with a bit of luck, you will all get to see it.

There you have it, six points of insight into GCS. Now go check out Ligature Marks and enjoy the New Year!