Sunday, July 10, 2011

From My Folder Titled: Vampire Crap

I completely forgot about this.  My attempt at total pulp fiction.  I guess I've decided not to pursue this, so I don't mind telling you the main character wakes with her face planted in a pizza box full of pizza.

And now, my gift to you:


When the door closed, Harley Hendrix stood dizzily for a moment, as if the earth had shifted in some noticeable way beneath her. Then she realized she wasn’t breathing. She wasn’t breathing, but stood, holding her breath, waiting, expectant for Bill to swing the door open and sweep her off her feet. She was waiting for what she had waited for her entire life. A door to open, a man to enter and her real life to begin, finally at 39.

The door did not open.

Instead, she turned the radio on, fifties rock and roll her mama used to play on Sunday mornings as she burnt the breakfast sausage. Harley did the ‘mash potato’ into the kitchen and retrieved the frozen bucket of premixed margaritas from the freezer; her emergency ‘stash’. She left it on the counter to thaw as she pulled the pan of fresh turtle brownies from the oven. She pushed her finger into the center of the brownies and then quickly removed it. Done!

While the mix melted and the brownies cooled Harley kept busy. Too busy to think about how much fun she’d had with Bill over the past four months. Too busy to think about the life she had already imagined and planned with Bill: the small house in the country, matching quarter horses and a couple of goats, some barn cats. Harley hadn’t imagined a small child, she wanted to see how the goats worked out first.

But now she was thinking of the goats, thinking of Bill saddling the horses and a surge of panic well inside her. She’d ruined it with Bill. She didn’t know how but he was gone now. Moving in with some woman, or skank ho’, he’d met online two weeks ago. Talking marriage, as if seeking Harley’s advice on how to proceed. As if Harley had any experience with that!

“This calls for an exceptionally large, overloaded, everything and your brother pizza,” she determined in a quiet, fierce voice to Pepe, her quiet, fierce schnauzer. Pepe barely paid Harley any attention, having been through this routine many times before.

After ordering her pizza, Harley’s eyes landed on a picture of her and Bill at their favorite Italian restaurant called ‘Noodles’. The waiter had taken their picture. Bill hadn’t wanted to recreate the famous scene from Lady and Tramp, the two dogs sharing the same long noodle until their lips touched. Bill had thought it was stupid, embarrassing. But when he saw how much it meant to her, saw the tears glistening in her eyes he had complied with her wishes.

Only, as Harley looked at the image with the lens of love so ruthlessly stripped from her eyes, she realized the grin on Bill’s face was actually more an angry grimace, a really, really, really angry grimace. How had she not noticed that before? His eyes, those deep grey pools of warmth and understanding seemed to hold daggers pointed at her idiotic smiling face. It was there, in the picture, the truth that they would never be together, never enter into marital union. Never own goats.

But Harley did not despair, not yet. Despair would come in a little over five months, when she turned forty, if nothing happened soon. And it had to happen soon.

Until something happened, Harley slipped a dvd into the player, determined to not dwell on the wasted evening. There was no chance Bill would re-enter her mind tonight, not after a billionth showing of Interview with a Vampire. And a couple of margaritas. And a pan of brownies. And a medium pizza, the works.

Harley was well into her second margarita, dancing to ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ and slicing a lime when the doorbell rang. One thought blazed through her heart, her mind and her soul: Bill! In her excitement Harley sliced into the lime too forcefully, cutting deep into the meat of her thumb.

“Ow, ow, ow, owie,” she muttered as blood ran freely down her arm onto the cutting board, discoloring the limes. Then it hit her, Bill wasn’t at the door.

“Idiot, its only the stupid pizza,” she said as she grabbed a paper towel and pressed it to her thumb. But it did little good. By the time she opened the door to the hippie pizza guy, the paper towel and her entire arm was a bloody mess.

She said, “Hey, hold on,” as she fumbled around in her jean pockets for money.

“Dude,” the pizza guy said, his shining eyes glued to her injury.

“Oh, its nothing,” she said with a laugh, “nothing a little tequila can’t cure. Lime injury, happens all the…”

The words died on Harley’s lips as the pizza guy pushed the pizza box and himself forward into her living room.

“Hey, well okay, come on in,” Harley said, startled by the intrusion.

The pizza guy was now inside the house. He looked quickly over his shoulder through the doorway and then shut the door behind him.

“All I have is twenty, just, uhm, just keep the change. That’s fine.” She held the bill towards the pizza guy and placed her hand on the pizza box. But he did not take the bill.

“Just keep the change,” she pulled the pizza from his hand, “and I’ll keep the pizza. That’s generally how it works.” She was about to add, “crazy pizza guy?” beneath her breath when he pulled his lips back, reminding her of a snarling coyote she’d seen once as a child on Little House on the Prairie.

He was now crazy pizza snarling coyote, with a little spittle running down the side of his open mouth. Which, by the way, revealed a set of very long incisors, long and pointed. They weren’t particularly clean teeth, not bright white and shiny and why should they be? He was a pizza delivery guy, his dental insurance had to be pretty crappy.

Harley said, “You need to leave now. I have…” she reached into her purse on the coffee table quickly and pulled out a can of deodorant. “Mace, this is deadly, blind your ass mace, Mister, and if you don’t leave now, I’ll spray it right in your eyes and in your mouth.” She found herself wondering if the deodorant might help with the coyote’s putrid breath, if somehow she would be doing him a great service right before he… he what, she wondered.

Then she knew.

He intended to eat her.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Birthday Regards to a Butthead and Writer of Books

Butthead. Not such a nice word. Not the kind of thing you want to be called.

And yet I was called it, on my birthday when I was feeling kind of low, feeling old and worn out and used up. Feeling about as middle aged as a great hunking chunk of cheese that’s turned a bit moldy.

Yet when I saw the Facebook post, “Happy birthday, Butthead,” I smiled. Not only that, I giggled in a most juvenile way, causing my tense muscles and gritted teeth to relax for the first time in a very long while.

Being called “butthead” by a high school friend I haven’t seen in twenty years made me feel more myself than I’d felt in a long time. It reminded me of a time when I did not take things so seriously.

In my heyday I was known as a butthead, a goofball, a veritable pain in the “you know what”.

In truth, I was a lot of fun.

Twenty plus years later I’m a lot of things, but fun isn’t at the top of the list. Not like it once was. Not like I’d like it to be.

I miss laughing so hard my sides hurt. I miss the sheer luxury of being silly and confident and hopeful all at once. I miss not worrying about the future; where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing.

As a child I possessed an unshakable certitude that I would grow to be a writer of books. It was all I needed to know about the future. I’d write the best books ever written, be rich and famous, and a frequent guest on the David Letterman show.

This was my child’s idea of being a writer.

I’ve since learned what being a writer means: years spent crafting a vision only you know or see or believe in, years laboring unceremoniously under the blasphemous delusion that your story might actually be of value to the world.

Straining and striving and writing and rewriting only to rewrite some more. Pushing and pushing even when my confidence wanes, even when my efforts begin to seem foolhardy.

Coming up for air for brief periods to look around and wonder what being a writer has cost me as a wife, a mother, a friend? As a person?

Wondering if I am still myself.

Now, thanks to my friend’s birthday message, I can answer this question without any doubt. Even if I’m not as much fun as I used to be, I haven’t veered too far off course.

I am a butthead and a writer of books.

And all is well with the world.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Introducing the Duanes and The Dead Cow Winch

Excerpt from my book ROOTED:

Grover McQuiston stood on the front porch pleased with the clear sky and early morning sun. The day would be full of preparation and he expected the weather to do its part to assist.

Bug Patter was around back unloading the chairs for the viewing. The casket would be arriving shortly. The boy had done a decent job with Eleanor, proving all the more that he was Matthew’s son.

But he didn’t want to think about Matthew, or of Slade’s mother. The two were as dead and buried in his mind and heart as his wife soon would be.

Grover’s thoughts were interrupted by the familiar and unwelcome sound of a truck racing up the drive. The low grumble of dual exhausts and the unmistakably loud music of Bocephus invaded and conquered the morning silence. The black Ford was a beast with blackened windows, thirty three inch tires and four inch lift. The truck whipped into the yard and through the grass until Grover was certain it would climb right over Lucy. But the truck stopped short and the occupants emerged.

Grover said, “The Duanes,” then pressed his lips together tightly, his eyes narrowed.

Myrna’s husband, Duane, and son, Duane Jr., were unaware of their audience as they helped themselves to beer from the cooler in the back of the truck. Can in hand, they drank while Hank Jr.’s voice sang,

If I get stoned and sing all night long

It’s a family tradition…

The Duanes guzzled and then tossed the empty, crushed beer cans into the back of the truck. Additional beer was immediately retrieved from the cooler. The cans made an audible popping sound as the tabs were pulled.

Grover stepped to the railing and shouted, “Turn that music off!”

The Duanes had not been keeping an eye out for Grover, and were surprised to discover him on the porch. Fumbling, they quickly tossed their cans into the truck-bed.

“Junior, turn that music off!” The music stopped midway through Grover’s yelling, leaving Grover’s angry voice alone in the early morning.

Stepping off the porch, Grover marched over to Duane. “What do you think you’re doing showing up here making all that racket?” Duane and Junior lowered their heads as Grover continued. “In case you haven’t heard, Miss Eleanor has passed.”

Duane glanced up at Grover. “Oh no, Myrna told us about Miss Eleanor yesterday.”

“Of course she did, you idiot,” Grover exploded. “Eleanor was her mother.”

The Duanes mumbled, “Yes, sir.”

“Alright, then. I’ve got a job for you two. You bring those shovels like I said?”

Duane nodded proudly and pointed to the back of the truck. “Got two in the back.” Grover looked into the back of the truck and saw the shovels, and the crushed beers cans.

Leaning into Duane’s beefy face, Grover studied him through narrowed, suspicious eyes. “You been drinking?” Duane looked down at his shoes and shook his head emphatically. “No, sir.” Despite Duane’s denial, Grover continued to glare.

“You’re lying.”

Junior fidgeted uneasily as he waited for Grover to get to him, which he immediately did. “And you, you’re as drunk and as useless as your father.”

Junior nodded his head in agreement. “Yes, sir.”

Grover stepped back and looked around for a second. His hard eyes fell on Lucy. “You got a chain?”

Junior saw that Grover was looking at Lucy and he brightened up. “Got a chain, and this here winch.” He ran around to the front of the truck to show off his wench. “We gonna pull her? Huh?” Excitement filled his muscular body.

Grover studied Junior suspiciously and then grudgingly inspected the winch’s cable.

“It’s a nine thousand pounder,” Junior offered proudly. “Pull anything you got, including that dead cow.”

Grover glared at Junior. Duane hurried forward to run interference for his one and only son. “What you need us to do, Grover? We’re here to help.”

Grover looked down disapprovingly at Duane’s bloated beer belly. “Looks like you’ve already helped yourself to plenty.” Duane lowered his head in shame.

Grover placed his hands on his hips, looked from the truck to Lucy, and then back to the truck. The Duanes stood out of the way, eager for Grover to finish with them.

“You say this winch will pull her?”

Duane nodded as Junior said, “Yes sir.”

Grover thought for another second. “And it won’t hurt her?”

Duane and Junior shook their heads and said, “No, sir,” in unison.

Grover appeared to have a hard time accepting this as fact. He put his hand on the winch and tugged at the cable. Finally, he said, “All right. First off, I want you two to pull Miss Lucy back behind the barn. I was supposed to have a front-end loader out here the past two days, but it hasn’t come. You’ll bury her back there behind the barn.”

Junior’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. “I been wantin’ to try that winch out!”

Grover’s stern look stripped all joy from Junior. “This is not fun and games, boy. Show some respect.” Junior lowered his head and apologized once again, but Grover could still sense his excitement. “And there better not be any mishaps. Do I make myself clear?” The Duanes nodded.

“When you finish,” Grover continued, “you two can start on Miss Eleanor’s grave.”

With that, the Duanes jaws dropped. Any excitement they may have felt quickly evaporated. They stole a glance at each other, each as horrified as the other.

Duane said, “I ain’t never dug no grave before.”

“Well, it’s not rocket science. You dig down six feet deep, and go maybe four or five feet wide. That’ll be plenty for the casket.”

“B…b…but…,” Duane stuttered nervously. He looked to Junior for some backup, but Junior had tangled enough with Grover for one day.

“B…b…but nothing,” Grover answered. “Let me know when you get Lucy buried around the barn. I’ll take you out to the family cemetery and show you where I want the grave. Now get going, we don’t have all day. There’s going to be a lot of people here this afternoon, and I don’t want Lucy lying in the yard.”

The Duanes said, “Yes sir.”

Click here to read more excerpts from Rooted

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Help Wanted: Input On The Best Jacket Copy You've Never Read

Okay, you know the routine.  I've revamped my jacket copy for my YA book.  Please read and let me know how this could possibly get any better. 

Jacket copy for Cursed! My Devastatingly Brilliant Campaign to Save the Chigg

Eighth grade was to be the greatest year ever for Ginny Edgars, creative genius and future award winning zombie screenwriter. But after Ginny and her gang land in the principal’s office, AGAIN, her friends are forbidden to associate with her.

Friendless and left to her own devices by her career obsessed parents, Ginny determines to befriend Chigg Larson, the class freakazoid. But Chigg is too scared to have anything to do with Ginny or anyone else since her father’s death.

Everyone in Locust Fork believes Chigg is the bearer of a family curse and responsible for her father’s tragic death. Chigg kind of believes it, too. It’s the only way she can explain why her mother’s warm love has turned ice cold.

Desperate to regain her mother’s love, Chigg turns to Ginny to help her uncover the truth about the curse, her family and herself. With the help of an ancient soothsayer, the girls embark on a quest that leads them to the curse’s origin and to Della, Chigg’s great grandmother, rumored to have gone crazy after drowning her daughter.

The girls quickly learn nothing is as it seem. The discovery of Della’s diary convinces Chigg she bears the curse, sparking a devastating course of self-destruction that leaves Chigger fighting for her life.

Relying on her foxy cleverness and a few zombie combatant moves, Ginny risks everything to save her friend from Della’s fate, all while writing the greatest movie ever, Space Zombies in Love.

Please let me know if this works for a jacket copy.  You attention is greatly appreciated.
If this tempting morsal of text has you dying for more... please click here to download the first three chapters of the book for free.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dying With My Boots On: Writing the Unbearable

My baby boy, Sean, is 18.  He has sandy hair, tanned skin and is a bit of a smart mouth.  Nothing gets past him at short stop or anywhere else.  He's looking forward to prom and graduation and a is bit overwhelmed by all of the changes that are about to take place.

Well, not really.  Sean never made it past April 12th, 1993.

If the above were fiction, I could tell you the why's and how's and what for's. I could give a very thorough account of the day, minutes, even seconds leading up to Sean's last breath. If it were fiction, I could tell you how he looked and smelled the day before, what he'd had to eat and how he rested.

But its not fiction, therefore the above is all I can write. In truth, I don't have to write anything except I am being told that the stories I should tell are my own, not made up fiction.

As much as I want to deny it, the writer in me knows what I am being told is true. I even dream it.

Only, I'd rather chug a gallon of sulphuric acid than write my own stories. But something is pulling me away from fiction, turning my eye inward.  And in turning inward I lose control of what goes on the paper, and more importantly, I lose control of what I allow others to see in me. 

For the most part, I can make most of my stories are pretty dang funny when I tell them. But when I put them to paper, it seems the funny slides right off the top and the not so funny is sitting there, a massive gangrenous wound, festering.

I don't want festering gangrene, I want the funny stuff.  And I want you to only see the funny; its my schtick.

Take away the funny and what is there?  There's pain and loss and grief and guilt and a thousand other not so nice things.

Take away the funny and there's just me.  Everyone seeing me.  And I don't like that too much, never have. 

Example: Recently, I purchased an unstinkingbelievably cool pair of cowboy boots in Austin.  I love these boots, they're distinctive and artful and they make a statement.  I cook in the boots, talk lovingly to them while watching television, brag them up to everyone within earshot.  The one thing I won't do is wear them to work.  The reason?  I don't want anyone staring at my feet or asking me questions about my kickass boots.

Stupid I know, but that's me.
So here I am, writing this post on this anniversary day, not wanting to write it but feeling I have to write it.  Putting on my boots for you to stare at, so to speak.  Wondering where I'll have to go in these boots, dreading where I'll end up and what I'll see.  Dreading what I'll put on paper for you to read.

And it is killing me.  Literally killing me.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Greatest Thing You've Ever Read In Your Entire Life: Yes, No, Maybe So?

Please read following and let me know if this is the greatest thing you've ever read in your entire life and makes you absolutely, drop dead have to read the book right this minute!

NOTE: If its not the greatest thing you've ever read, please be kind enough to tell me why and what needs to change.  I fear I suck at this.

Rooted jacket copy:

In the late 1970’s, West Tennessee is a sea of white cotton, a land of “Yes Ma’ams” and “No Sirs” populated by good God fearing people who are mostly unaware of the mohawked, nose pierced, in your face, raw anarchy gripping New York City by the throat. But all of that is about to change.

Washed up and drugged out, punk's poster-boy, Slade Mortimer, is on his last leg. On the run from his dead girlfriend’s revenge seeking father, Slade heads south desperately seeking an inheritance and a chance at a new life.

What Slade finds is the blood kin he never knew he needed or wanted, the powerful yet fractured McQuistons who hold the keys to Slade’s past and his future.

With secrets and roots both deep and dark, the McQuistons bind Slade to a terrible task, one he’s spent his entire life running from. But in those flat, delta fields Slade discovers he can no longer escape what he has become, just as the McQuistons can no longer hide the truth about the sudden disappearance of Slade’s young mother years before.

Only when the powerful roots that ground and sustain families take hold and the guilt and loss of the past is accounted for can Slade and the McQuistons begin to forgive themselves. Only then can they begin to heal.


Again, you are required to leave a comment and let me know exactly how great or how much this copy sucks.  My future as a writer depends on your input.  Don't leave a sista' hanging.



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Worrying Instead of Writing: A Lesson from Cheech and Chong

So I'm not a pot smoker. Never shot heroin. Haven't ever chased Alice down the rabbit hole on LSD.

I've been too busy doing everything I was supposed to do. Doing all the things nice responsible people feel is their duty.

Only to realize duty and responsibility and doing the right thing doesn't always amount to much.

In fact, after a while being dutiful and responsible and all Stepford Wivesish kind of sucks a sickly child’s buttocks.

There I said it.

So when I watch an old Cheech and Chong movie, I'm suddenly and completely envious of all their HIGH-spirited adventures. I mean, these guys haven't a care in the world except for where their next hit comes from.

Just as I too wonder where my next hit will come from.  My website? Or maybe my blog?  Maybe some new follower on Twitter or Facebook or wherever I happen to have myself plastered.

In fact, I think about my hits a lot.  Maybe too much.  As in checking my stats every eighth of a second, wondering, am I doing this right or doing enough?  Are my efforts effective

Looking for some sign or indication that I am on the right track.  

Worrying instead of writing. 

Then I hear Cheech say, "Hey, man, take a hit of this and everything will be fine..."

And suddenly I know what must be done.

I must be more stoner-like in my approach, as in let things grow naturally, even organically.  Take the edge off my thinking and my approach. 

I've got to chill, relax, kick back, become comfortably numb, and allow creativity to enter the space that has been too much occupied with doubt and uncertainty. 
I've got to let everything else go and turn to the work.  I've got to write and write and write and write and the rest will come, whatever that may be.
Thanks Cheech and Chong.  You guys are the best.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I'll Say It Again - Horseshit!

Geography Lesson excerpt from Headshots:

Cleveland finished his beer, produced a raw belch, and then motioned for the bartender to bring another. A thin haze of smoke spiraled upward from the cigarette in his hand like some lost soul seeking refuge in a darkened heaven. The neon Budweiser clock on the wall said it was almost three p.m. and the place was as dead as any other in that washed-up town. Pool tables and poker machines sat like neglected toys in the suffocating dimness as country music, old and familiar, mingled with the sounds of clinking glasses and the errant buzzing of flies. A few people with nothing better to do sat on bar stools and stared dumbly at the soundless television above the bar, reminding Cleveland how empty life was without form and purpose.

The man across from him, Kemper, said, “I done told you.” Kemper wore a dark blue work shirt that strained for closure over his impressive belly. Less than twenty years before he’d been one hell of a football player in high school, more freight train than linebacker. But all hints of athleticism had long since been lost to the deep-fried thickness that covered him like a dull costume. Even still, his heavy-jowled face could not conceal the fact that there was still a handsome man lurking beneath the added flesh and years.

Cleveland, stiff-backed and erect, put his elbows on the table, hunched his shoulders forward as was his habit and said, “Horseshit.”

Unlike his companion, Cleveland’s body wasn’t meaty, and his short sleeved shirt revealed long arms ropy with muscle. Average height and weight, he had once been described as rangy, kind of like a tough chicken, not scrawny, just rangy. He’d been this way as a boy and he was this way now at sixty-two. His buzz cut had turned a steel gray color but his eyes were still sharp and his ears caught everything. About the only thing that reminded him he was an old man were his charcoal colored lungs which the doctor swore were about ready to give out.

“I know what you said, I know it. But it ain’t true. Not one damn word of it.” Cleveland pulled a pack of cigarettes from the front pocket of his gray t-shirt. “You might be pretty good with a monkey wrench, but you’re one ignorant bastard.”

“Ah hell, why’d you want to say something like that?” Kemper scratched at his beer label and frowned. “I saw the map and everything. His route was marked in red, right down through Mexico and Honduras, through Central America all the way to Argentina and Chile and back. All on that old Kawasaki.”

“First off, that bike of his can’t go half a mile without crapping out. Secondly, Lem Pearson is just as broke as you and me, broker probably, and last of all the man ain’t never even been out of the state of Ohio.” Cleveland snorted and took a drink. “Kind of like you.”

Kemper shook his head and when he grinned two dimples appeared on both sides of his mouth. “Here it comes. World War II, Korea, Vietnam...”

“That’s right son. I hit the last year of World War II when I was just sixteen, lied about my age just so’s I wouldn’t miss it. And for the record I did two tours in ‘Nam.” Cleveland’s voice, which was usually abrupt and harsh, changed whenever he spoke of his military career. His words became more important, ringed with pride and respect, perhaps even a little awe at what he had accomplished.

“Hell, I served for thirty years. Ain’t nobody around here got shit on me. I been places you can’t even pronounce, seen things you ain’t even imagined, things that’d make your drawers turn turd-brown right now if I was to tell you.”

“But Lem said--”

“But Lem said,” Cleveland sneered. “If you knew anything at all you’d know that North America and South America ain’t even connected. It’s like him saying he rode his bike from California to Hawaii or from Florida to Cuba. There’s no way.”

Kemper lifted the ratty, grease-streaked ball cap from his head and scratched his shaggy brown hair. He thought for a moment and then crammed the cap back in place, causing the thick ends of his hair to stick out from his square head. “I don’t know, Cleveland. I think it’s all connected, North and South America. All of it.”

“I’ll say it again – Horseshit!” Cleveland slammed his fist on the weathered table causing the collection of empty beer bottles to jump.

Kemper pushed his shirt sleeves up his thick, hairy arms then crossed them over the top of his belly. “Just ‘cause you been in the military don’t mean you know everything. It don’t mean everyone else is a moron.”

Cleveland leaned closer, his eyes glinted. “Yeah? So tell me Einstein where did the Titanic go down?”

“The Titanic? What? You’re testing me now?” Kemper sighed heavily and rubbed the back of his neck, avoiding Cleveland’s intense glare. Kemper looked like a little boy who’d been called on in class, and Cleveland enjoyed watching him squirm. Finally, Kemper hitched his thumb over his shoulder. “It sunk up north.”

“Yeah? Where up north? Lake Michigan? Canada? The North Pole?”

“Hell, everyone knows it was the Atlantic,” Kemper scowled, “over by Alaska.”

Cleveland said, “Alaska, huh?” and Kemper nodded his head uncertainly. Cleveland turned and looked over his shoulder towards the bar. He said, “Lily, honey, can you tell Einstein here where Alaska’s located?”

A girl perched on a barstool glanced up from the magazine she was reading. She wore a yellow tank top with pink butterflies, denim shorts and looked to be around eight, no more than nine years old. Her long blonde hair hung limply around her shoulders; her thin legs were white against the dark bar which her flip-flopped feet kicked in a slow rhythm. She twisted an earring absently as she thought. “It’s in the Pacific,” she began tentatively, her voice small and shaky at first but then firmer when she added, “near Russia.”

“Thank you, honey.” Lily turned back to her magazine and Cleveland turned back to Kemper. “Pretty pathetic. My little girl knows more about it than you. So next time just keep your trap shut about things you don’t have any knowledge of.” Cleveland took a drink and added, “And that would be most things.”

Kemper’s face reddened and his breathing grew deep. He muttered something under his breath. Cleveland’s tilted beer paused before his waiting mouth. “What was that?”

Kemper leaned back in his chair pulled a cigarette from the pack on the table before him. “Said bet she’s learned all kinds of things this summer, sitting up in this bar with her old man. Anyone ever tell you little kids ain’t ‘sposed to be hanging out in bars? What kind of father,”

Before Kemper could say another word he was on his back on the floor with the edge of the table pressing into his soft throat, staring red-faced and bug-eyed at Cleveland, gurgling for help as his arms waved uselessly at his side.

“Tell me again how to raise my kid, Goddammit! Go on, tell me!” Cleveland pressed the table harder, pushing his rage into Kemper, cutting off his air, choking him. “I’ll kill you,” Cleveland whispered fiercely. “I’ll take the very life from you, you filthy mongrel.”

It took three men to pull Cleveland back and toss him out the door. He picked himself up from the ground and brushed the gravel from his skin and clothes. It wasn’t the first time he’d been shown the way out of a bar, and he thrilled a little in knowing he could still stir things up, even if the Marines didn’t have any use for him anymore.

Click to download your free copy of Headshots!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Taking the Literary World by Storm, Yeah Right...

I've decided to take the literary world by storm.  To do this I will:

  • Out think the publishing industry by writing the next international bestseller.  This book will have all the right elements - vampires, wizards and a revenge-seeking rape victim out to make a fashion statement.   

  • Make readers fall in love with my characters to the point that restraining orders may be necessary.  I haven't done my job if my fictional characters are not being stalked by the delusional.

  • Rack up jaw-dropping book reviews from critics, book bloggers and most importantly - readers.  This will probably involve sitting in a Denny's doling out my life savings to shady characters who look nothing like their online avatars. 

  • Build my Twitter "tribe" to a gazillion followers through much Charlie Sheen like behavior.  And yes, this will involve myself, a machete and a pair of worn out porn stars (unfortunately, from the 1950's).

Once I have accomplished all this, SUCCESS will be mine!


Friday, February 18, 2011

All a Man Needs: Good Gun, Good Dog, Good Woman

From my novel ROOTED: 

Slade came to when he heard a deep voice drawl, “Afternoon, Miss Eleanor.”

Eleanor nodded to the man and quietly said, “Hello, Bullfrog.” 

The man laughed easily in his muddy boots and Case tractor hat. “Shoot, I didn’t know you knew they called me Bullfrog. In class you always called me by my name proper. I can still hear you saying, ‘Rodney Hollister, go stand in the corner,’ like it was yesterday. ’Course I spent most of fourth grade in that corner. Still, you were my favorite teacher.”

“That’s nice,” Grover said. “Now if you’re done reminiscing, I need your help.”

“Yessir.” Rodney looked over the scene. When his eyes set on Slade he said, “Excuse my language, but what kind of a sorry sack of shit you got there on the lawn?”

The words were hardly recognizable to Slade, so thick was the accent and the wad of chewing tobacco in Rodney’s mouth.

“And what happened to your cow?”

“What’s it look like?” Grover sputtered. “He crashed this pile of rusted junk into Lucy and killed her.”

Rodney inspected the scene with a critical eye and then spit a long stream of brown tobacco juice, barely missing Slade’s cheek. “Looks like she was shot in the head.”

“Of course she’s shot in the head,” Grover thundered. “I had to put her out of her misery. You don’t think I’d let her lay there suffering. She’d already been through enough.” Grover cast Eleanor an accusing look.

“You taking her down to Paulson’s meat house? Bet you’d get some good cuts off of this’n,” Rodney said appreciatively. “She’d make for a good-sized barbecue if -”

“Say another word about a barbeque and I’ll lease that hundred acres to some other farmer with enough sense to keep his mouth shut.”

Rodney looked down and mumbled, “Sorry.”

“That’s better. All I need you to do is get him over to the sheriff’s. Tell him,” Grover kicked Slade’s foot. “You tell Watkins he killed Lucy. I want him locked up.”

Even in Slade’s compromised state, the word sheriff was enough to put some life back in him. Slade opened his mouth to defend himself, but all that emerged was a gross gurgling sound followed by a thin line of drool that ran down his chin.

“Yessir,” Rodney answered. “After that, you want I should come back for Sarah Jane?” The barrel-chested farmer’s eyes gleamed.

Eleanor glanced nervously at her husband. “Grover, surely you’re not -”

“You best wait a day or so. I’ve got a few things to take care of around here.”

Rodney’s shoulders slumped noticeably. “I cleaned my truck out and everything. Put the Colonel in the bed.” He hitched his thumb at the hound in the back of his truck.

“It’ll still be clean when you come back out, so quit your whining. Take care of this for me, and I’ll make sure Sarah Jane’s ready for you.”

Rodney thought about it and then nodded. “I can do that.”

Shaking Rodney’s hand, Grover said, “I expect you’ll be respectful.”

“Mr. McQuiston, you seen how fine I treat my bitch pups. Ask anyone, they’ll tell you. Besides, all a man needs is a good gun, a good dog, and a good woman. I already got the other two. Sarah Jane might be a little ornery at first, but she’ll come around.”

Eleanor whispered furiously, “Don’t do this. Please, Grover, I’m begging you.”

Grover slapped Rodney on the back and said, “I know I can count on you.”

“Yessir.” Rodney spit again, this time striking Slade’s arm. Then he grabbed the sorry sack of shit around the waist and tossed him over his shoulder. At the truck he dumped Slade in the bed with Colonel.

Slade lay on his back with his eyes open, the dog panting and slobbering excitedly above him. He felt outside himself, as though everything was happening to someone else. Then Eleanor was at the tailgate, silent, faded and defeated. He wanted to be with her, that calm, sad woman. He wanted it to be true, her being his grandmother. He wanted her to nurse him, to be at his side wiping the blood from his brow once more.

But when she reached her hand out as if to touch him, the truck began moving and she was gone.

Click to download sample chapter from Rooted.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Behold, the Chigg: Praying on the Pooper

From my novel Cursed! My Devastatingly Brilliant Campaign to Save the Chigg!

So after a triumphant raid on the boys’ bathroom to swipe all the toilet paper, we paraded into the girls bathroom, laughing and shouting, “Ding dong, the witch is dead, the witch is dead, ding dong the wicked witch is dead.”

Then Mindy, with her short, spiky blonde ponytail bobbing anxiously on her head, asked, “Have you ever in your life seen anything as funny as those funny little sinks in the boys’ bathroom?”

“Not I, Min-min,” replied Shannon gravely from behind her round owl glasses. “How do you think they wash their hands? Those sinks didn’t have any faucets.”

“Silly rabbit, those weren’t real sinks. They’re urinals,” I explained in my harsh, toneless Mrs. Jutney voice. “They don’t need sinks. It’s a scientifically proven fact that boys do not wash their hands.”

“That’s just gross!”

“It’s disgusting!”

“Why it’s downright revolting, if you ask me!”

Then mayhem ensued until I kicked open the first bathroom stall and declared, “I christen thee, La Toiletta, Queen of the Golden Waters.” The toilet was flushed and we erupted into riotous cheers.

I found this exercise very agreeable and moved on to the next stall. But when I kicked the door open, there sat Carrie Larson. But no one ever called her Carrie, just Frecklefart Fanny because of the big, red, splotchy freckles that covered her entire body.

But never, not once did I ever call her Frecklefart Fanny, or Frecklefart, or just Fart as others did. That’s just disrespectful and crude, two things I am most certainly not.

I only ever called her Chigger, or the Chigg, because every time I looked at her during the first two weeks of school she was furiously scratching chigger bites. Some people I could name said she had fleas, but I knew they were chiggers from experience.

Let’s just say, it is not a good idea to run through a field of waist-high stinkweed wearing only an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny Pocahontas bikini and red velvet cowboy boots in the dead of summer while pretending to be Miss America. Take it from me; such an exercise will only end in tragedy, tragedy in the form of the most obscenely thorough case of chigger infestation ever!

And did I itch like crazy?

You know I did.

Carrie sat there on the pot with that frizzy red hair puffed to extremes all over her head, her face covered in what could only be described as a bad case of being the Chigg. She wore a ridiculous blue and white ski jacket, as she had every day since school started the month before, even though it wouldn’t get cold in Alabama until December.

She had a book in her hand, one of those little green pocket bibles.

And there she was, not looking at us, frozen, quiet, small, waiting for us to go away. Waiting for us to run back to class and tell everyone that we caught her praying on the pooper. And maybe we would have. Only there was something about Carrie Larson that made me pause for once.

So instead of running to class with my big mouth yapping, which in retrospect is exactly what I should have done, I threw my arm grandly toward Carrie, did my award winning bugle salute sound effect, and announced, “Behold, the Chigg.”

And that was when everything started for me.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

This One Goes Out To The One I Love: A Valentine Ode

I love you in the morning. I love you in the evening.

I love you in bed.  I love you on the sofa.

I love you alone.  I love you in public places.

I love your coldness, your creaminess, your sweetness.

I love you regardless of how you come.

I love you, Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

As I Lay Dying...Literally

I am thinking of you, my healthy, non-infectious friends with your sinus passages clear of mucus and your lithe little bodies free of fever.

I am thinking how you're probably all eating ice cream and going outside to play while I waste away in this sick room amid my used tissues (at least I didn't say snot rags) and throat lozenge wrappers.

I am thinking you are enjoying a picnic or sunning yourself as today is probably the warmest yet and all signs of snow a forgotten wintry nightmare. (I can't say for certain as I am too weak and sickly to open a window and check for myself.)

I am thinking how you're probably not even giving a thought to my compromised condition or the fact that I may never walk again.  (Actually, there's nothing wrong with my legs, but as true friends I'd at least expect you to fear the very worst.)

But please, my healthy, non-infected friends, go about your day, enjoy yourselves, live it up. 

Whatever you do, don't let the fact that I am lying on my deathbed, battling a deadly disease (cold) make you feel bad, or ruin any of your good times.

Just know that you are in my thoughts today.

Key Components of the K9: A Tribute to My Head

In truth, I must admit to having a haircut christened “The K9” in a corporate office in Memphis.

And not just dubbed K9, but also diagrammed on a white board, the sides and front dissected to look very much like a cocker spaniel. It all was very professionally dissected and displayed for an eager audience. And in truth, it was a pretty accurate portrayal.

Humiliating? Yes, but not surprising. Turns out I have a secret genius for having my head violated.

I can ashamedly claim a long line of haircuts that have left me semi-mulleted, clown-headed, shagged up the back like Carol Brady, and helmet headed like a Lego figure.

Or worse.

Like the time my parents agreed to splurge on my first perm. I was 14 and it was the early eighties. The event? A most important basketball party at my new school. I wanted to make the very best impression possible.

As did my parents, which is why they sent me to the beauty school in the small west Tennessee town known more for councilmen smuggling sheep across state line to seedy motels than cutting edge style. 

The STUDENT assigned to my head was perhaps thirtyish, wore white leather shoes with yellow plastic soles, a sharp white smock and sported a yellow poodle perm that matched his trim yellow moustache.

Warning signals fired off in my sacrificial virgin's head like a big city Fourth of July celebration.

But I was in the chair and he was above me. And this is where I fail, at fourteen, and still to this day. As much of a big mouth as I have, as many pages I have filled with my thoughts, I am tragically unable to clearly communicate how I’d like my hair cut.

It has proven a historic impossibility for me and ultimately my downfall.

By the time that yellowed fiend was through with me, my sweet, innocent fourteen year old self was confused for my eighty year old great-grandmother – BY MY OWN FATHER.

And no, pictures will not be posted. 

This industrial strength perm had hold of my tender head through freshman year and into my sophomore year until finally, THANK GOD, it began to loosen up.

Just in time for my maniacal butcher of a sister to "trim" my loose ends.

The horror... the horror...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

No, He Is Not Marvelous - He Is Satan, In The Flesh

From my novel, ROOTED:

After exiting the truck, Grover grabbed Slade by his bony arm and pulled him toward the house. “You look like you haven’t eaten in a month of Sundays. Got a pot of beans and a pan of cornbread inside. Get yourself filled up.”

Slade tried to resist, but Grover was stronger. “But…”

“But nothing,” Grover replied. “Come on.”

They mounted the porch and entered the house. The warm smell of cooking made Slade want to vomit, but there was nothing in him to come out. In the kitchen, Althea stirred a pot at the stove while Miss Josie spoke on the phone. Sarah Jane turned toward the men as they entered, and then turned quickly back to the sink full of dishes.

Grover marched Slade to the table and pushed him into a chair.

“Get him a plate, Althea,” Grover instructed, “and make sure he eats it.” Grover kept a stern eye on Slade.

“I’m not eating crap,” Slade mustered weakly. The truth was, even if he wanted to eat, he didn’t know if he could manage a fork.

Althea placed a plate of white beans and two large slabs of cornbread on the table before him. “Oh, you’re eating,” she stated, “and you’re going to clean your plate like a good boy.”

Slade looked at the plate. “This looks like puke,” he protested, crossing his measly arms across his measly chest. He looked up to find Althea and Grover standing over him.

“I don’t care if it tastes like puke,” Althea countered, “you’re gonna eat it, and you’re gonna eat it all.” She wagged a large and intimidating metal spoon in Slade’s sullen face.

“What about that one?” Grover nodded at Sarah Jane. “She been helping out?”

Althea frowned. “Of course, as best she can under the circumstances.”

Grover studied Sarah Jane’s frozen back at the sink. “Make sure she don’t run off on you. There’s cleaning to be done. I expect we’re going to have a houseful of guests, and I don’t want them thinking we live like trash.”

“Leave that girl alone, Grover McQuiston. You got enough to worry about without fussin’ about the house.”

Just as Grover opened his mouth to reply, Myrna rushed into the kitchen. Her eyes fell, solely on her father; she did not see anyone else.

Myrna’s many chins quivered and her lips shook. “Daddy…,” she held her arms out to Grover, who looked very uncomfortable with what was about to happen. “Daaaa….ddy,” she wailed and flew to him.

Grover reluctantly allowed Myrna to clutch him in a bear hug. Her sobs rose, her tears fell and her nose ran, all on Grover’s suit jacket. Her grief knew no bounds. Grover’s arms slowly and mechanically embraced his daughter. She failed to notice his stiffness, his unbending authority.

Grover patted Myrna’s formidable shoulder three times, and then said, “That’s enough, Myrna.” He opened his arms and expected Myrna to release him. But Myrna was not through needing her daddy. Grover had to say, “Myrna, that is ENOUGH,” to be free of her.

Myrna continued to cry and sniffle but had exchanged her big, gulping sobs for more of a whining whimper.

Grover looked at his daughter with a little disgust and a lot of dismay. “Pull yourself together, Myrna. That is no way to act at a time like this.”

“How’s the girl supposed to act?” Miss Josie questioned after hanging up the phone. “You could stand a little grief yourself, Grover McQuiston.”

Suddenly, Slade developed a strong need to lie down. His head hurt beyond anything he could have imagined, and the plate of puke before him only added to his discomfort. In his heart he knew what he really needed was a cigarette, and maybe a little blow, a couple of drinks to set him right. He was just low on reserves. He needed to refuel.

But there didn’t appear to be any fuel in sight. The only thing in sight was beans, white, puky beans. All thought left his head as he studied his food. Without being aware of it, he was drawn closer and closer to the plate mesmerized by the general pattern of the beans. His nose was only centimeters away from the bean pillow when a loud, piercing scream broke the spell and brought him back to reality.

It was Myrna. She had discovered Slade at the table and was shrieking. She clutched her chest and neck with her hands and scuttled to the far side of the kitchen. Everyone in the kitchen, but Slade, stared at her in amazement.

“What has got into you, child?” Miss Josie asked.

“He- he-,” Myrna gasped for air and pointed wildly at Slade. “That.. he’s the one… him…,” she babbled incoherently. Her wild eyes searched each face in the room.

“Stop that this instant,” Grover ordered. But Myrna would not be calmed.

“At the gas station, yesterday...” She pointed at Slade and managed to speak an entire sentence. “He attacked me. He attacked me and Precious. He’s…he’s a rapist!”

Slade turned his head to the side and said, “Give her the fucking beans.” At which point Althea struck his shoulder with the metal spoon and commanded, “Eat.”

His hands full with Myrna, Grover only said, “Mind your manners, boy.”

“Are you crazy?” Myrna screeched wildly. “Call the police, quick!” Myrna beseeched hysterically. She turned wide-eyed to Miss Josie and Althea and croaked, “We’re not safe, we’re not safe.”

Precious entered the kitchen and was not so much startled by Myrna’s screeching as the sight of the ghostly, blue-haired stranger. She opened her mouth and whispered breathlessly, “Isn’t he marvelous?”

“No, he is not marvelous,” Myrna hissed. “He’s Satan, in the flesh. Avert your eyes from the abomination!” Precious’s doe-like eyes remained glued to Slade as her quivering mother jerked her by the arm. Placing her substantial body protectively before her daughter’s unquestioned virtue, Myrna eyed Slade with panicked intensity. Precious squirmed behind her mother, desperate to see past the mammoth maternal object blocking her vision.

Slade dropped his fork and said, “Anyone got a smoke?” He looked hopefully at everyone in the kitchen, but didn’t recognize anyone but Grover. His eyes rested on Myrna. “Hey, aren’t you that dead cow from out front?”


Click for full excerpt from ROOTED.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

I'm Not Above Stealing and Publishing Your Writing As My Own

I mean, if its a really outstanding story, one that must be told, that has the potential to change lives and enlighten the masses, then yes, I think I can use it.

Of course, I'm looking for top quality material.  And the best part is, I really don't care what genre it is as long as it's the greatest story ever written.

But I draw the line at glittery vampires.  I'm not putting my name on any of that.

If you think you have the stuff I'm looking for, especially the nobel prize winning literary junk, send it to me and I'll consider stealing it and publishing it under my name.

And know you have my eternal gratitude for making my literary career a reality.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

For a Lady Godzilla, You Sure Got Mothra Manners.

From my novel Cursed! My Devastatingly Brilliant Campaign to Save the Chigg!

“Hey, hey, Lady Godzilla, don’t burn me with your fire lizard breath.”

That’s Mr. Lan. He calls me Lady Godzilla because I am blessed with a statuesque physique, meaning I am tall and strong.

But lately I haven’t been feeling too tall, or too strong. In fact, I’ve been feeling like a pair of worn-out gym shoes stuck in sticky, grimy goo, the kind that oozes beneath theater seats. It’s like I’m stuck in a theater where the same horrific movie is replayed over and over. And that horrific movie is only my entire eighth-grade year.

“Mr Lan, if you’re waiting for me to call you a gnarled-up Cambodian pygmy, it’s not going to happen. I know we’ve had our differences in the past, but I’ve matured a lot since last summer, and I’m no longer interested in arguing with you,” I inform him quite politely. I add, “And since you insisted on taking over my room until the week before I start high school, I would really appreciate it if you would try to be a little more pleasant.”

“You mind go blank-blank, dumb-dumb?” he asks as if I hadn’t said a word. “Set table up for game. I not getting any younger, and you not getting any prettier.”

So much for being pleasant. He’s looking at me with sharp eyes, daring me to retaliate. “Hey, you listening?” Mr. Lan smacks the table with his palm. “Or you got worms in ear again?”

I bite my lip. A, they weren’t even real worms that time, just gummy worms. And B, they weren’t even gummy worms, they were gummy bears. I could tell him all this, but I keep my saintly mouth sealed as I open the box of dominoes. I refuse to let him antagonize me.

“What happened to that big mouth?” He looks at me suspiciously. “I gone one year and now you too big-shot Godzilla girl to talk to poor Mr. Lan.” Then he looks around the room. “How big shot mature Lady Godzilla like I take down these silly monster posters?” He stretches his hand to the Night of the Living Dead poster hanging above my bed. He knows full well it is my all-time favorite movie ever.

I say, “Geez, calm down, you old crank-case,” knowing it’s what he wants to hear, but my heart just isn’t in it. My heart is plumb worn out.

And even though I know I should keep my mouth shut and rise above his petty aggravation, I have to set the record straight. “First off, they are not silly monsters. If you knew anything about anything you’d know they are zombies. And it is a scientific fact that the walking dead may be real. If you want proof, just look in the mirror.”

I didn’t mean to add that last part, had sworn I wouldn’t stoop to Mr. Lan’s level, yet somehow he always brings out the worst in me.

“For a Lady Godzilla, you sure got Mothra manners. You be nice and I let you change my bedpan. How you like that?” he asks with his beady eyes shining meanly.

And even though I am now a mature young woman with a promising high school career before me, I play along despite the fact it’s the last thing I want to do.
“Bedpan? You don’t even have a bedpan. What you have is halitosis.” Halitosis is chronic bad breath, and if there’s one thing Mr. Lan has it’s chronic bad breath. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it is toxic. Okay, toxic and noxious. Like having sewer vapors leak into the air each time his cranky old mouth creaks open.

“Bad breath is a sign of illness, Chicky.  I’m very sick man,” he adds, pulling his red silk kimono closed at his neck.  He says he is sick, but he is not.  He just likes taking an afternoon siesta.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

I Never Did Anything to Anyone

So why do I have a package of ultra-thick toilet paper on my desk at work?  Why do my co-workers feel they can gift me toilet paper at a department luncheon and make reference to my outhouse in Missouri while adding a crude comment about corncobs?

Why did my former manager think it appropriate to include my calculator in a big, green jello mold and leave it sitting where my keyboard had been?  And upon discovery, why did my innocent coworkers swear they had no knowledge of the incident all the while doubled over laughing?

Why did I return from lunch one time only to have each move I made sound loudly as if gas had escaped my body?  Why did everyone gather around me, pretending not to laugh each time I moved my chair or turned my head or asked someone to pull my finger?  Why was I the target of a fart machine placed perfectly behind my monitor?

Why was my cubicle decorated with photo shopped pictures of Michael Jackson riding a tricycle, or posing like a Greek god in a toga holding a plate of grapes, or worst in a jester costume? Or blown up rubber gloves painted silver and glittered taped like balloons everywhere? On my birthday of all days!

Why do these things keep happening to me when...


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Introducing Grover McQuiston: The Root

From my novel, ROOTED:

Someone was saying, “Get up, boy,” but it didn’t make any sense. Then someone shoved him on the shoulder. Slade flapped his hand for this someone to go away. Then he was shoved even harder.

Slade snarled, “Piss off,” and curled up tighter on his cot.

“What did you just say to me?”

Slade groaned. This person was really irritating the crap out of him.

The voice commanded, “Get up,” but Slade ignored it. Then something hard landed on Slade’s shoulder, sending shockwaves of excruciating pain shooting through his withered body. Slade emitted a high-pitched squeal and scrambled to face his abuser.

“You!” Slade accused. “You’re that asswipe with the gun!” He pressed himself against the wall and held his injured shoulder close.

“And now I have a broom handle,” Grover countered, “so I’d watch your mouth.”

Slade grew indignant. With effort, he managed to pull himself to his feet. When he felt he was as steady as he was going to be, Slade puffed out his wasted chest and said, “Go fuck yourself, you goddamned geriatric goat-grinder!”

Then he hocked up a large glopping glob and spit. It landed on Grover’s tie.

Grover’s arm shot out, snatched the nose ring from Slade’s nose, and slung it to the floor, causing Slade to scream “Motherfuck!” as his hands flew to his outraged nose.

Instantly, the broom handle struck Slade’s abdomen. He said, “Ooowmph” as his breath was knocked from his body. Slade doubled over and was immediately struck again across his hunched back. This blow sent Slade to the floor and into the fetal position.

“I don’t much care for your language,” Grover declared, striking the curled-up punk rocker across his bottom repeatedly.

Slade shook with pain and shock as he begged, “Stop, stop, oh please stop!”

Grover stood over the begging boy, with the hard handle poised to strike again. “Do I make myself clear?”

Slade nodded his tear-stained face. “Yes, oh yes, oh yes, oh yes.”

Grover looked at him closely and demanded, “Yes, what?”

Slade panicked. He wasn’t sure of the answer for this. Then a word from his past occurred to him, long unused and forgotten. “Yes…sir?” he asked uncertainly.

Grover lowered the broom handle. “That’s better.” He stepped back and said, “Now stand up here and stop acting childish.”

In disbelief, Slade mouthed the word “childish,” but did as he was told. When he stood, he noticed the black bars and the concrete floor. He was in jail. Nothing new there. But how did he get there? His hand strayed to his head and felt the enormous goose egg. The old man had hit him with a gun, but there was more. He tried to think but was confronted with that endless darkness that kept so much of the past from him.

Then he realized the old man was staring at him, and this made him nervous. Slade looked away, studied the empty hallway beyond the bars, took in the surprisingly clean toilet and sink. But there’s not a whole lot to look at in jail and so Slade finally blurted out, “What?”

The old man didn’t speak at first. Finally he asked, “Who are you?”

Slade was surprised at the question. “Is this a trick? Are you going to beat my a - me if I answer wrong?” Slade glanced again at the broom handle. Why didn’t the old man just put it down?

“Answer the question.”

The way Grover looked at him made Slade feel nauseas. “I gotta sit down, man.” Slade dropped onto the cot, wincing as his bruised buttocks touched the mattress. He groaned. “What do you want?”

“Are you who you claim to be?”

“Claim to be?” Slade’s head shot up defiantly. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

Grover slammed the broom handle down on the bed next to Slade, causing Slade to jump. He blurted, “I’m the Roaming Mortician, man. I’ve got a band, you know, MORTIFIED.”

Grover shook his head. “Not all that garbage. Is what you said yesterday evening true? What you told Miss Eleanor?”

Yesterday evening? Shit, what the fuck had he said? His mind drew a total blank and his face revealed as much.

Exasperated, Grover finally asked, “Are you Matthew’s son?”

A window of light began to cut through the thick haze in his head. It had to do with the letter, that stupid motherfucking letter that caused him to coke up and tear up Pouncy’s, ruining his chances of ever playing there again. And he could forget ever getting MORTIFIED back together. So much for proving to Donny and to everyone else that he was clean, changed, that he was off the junk and that he still had what it took.

Everything was completely and totally fucked up. And now he was in jail being abused by some redneck Nazi with a broom.

But at least he remembered now, at least he knew why he was there. So he said, “I’m here for my godda - my inheritance.”

Grover looked away. “It’s true then. Matthew is dead?”

“Yeah.” Slade shrugged. “So?”

“You ever work with him?” Grover asked quietly, watching Slade closely.

“How the fu- how do you think I got the name Roaming Mortician?” Suddenly Slade was back in Pittsburgh, in the basement of the funeral home, with the bodies, and he smelled death.

After a thoughtful moment, Grover said, “Get up. You’re coming with me.”

Slade crossed his arms. “I’m not going anywhere with you. You’re fu- you’re insane.” The hard look that seized upon Grover’s face made Slade uneasy, but he added, “I’ve got a letter from a lawyer that says I got something coming. I’m here to get it.”

“A letter?” Grover asked skeptically. “Where is it?”

“I don’t remem…” Slade thought for a second and then frowned. “It should be in my car. It says for me to see some guy named McCrap or something.”


A light went off in Slade’s head. “Yeah, McQuiston. That guy’s got my money.”

“Well, come on then. We don’t have all day.”

“What are you talking about?”

Grover answered with a straight face, “I’m that McQuiston guy.”

Slade couldn’t help it. He said, “Oh shit.” Grover lifted the broom handle.

Slade’s hands flew up instinctively before his face. “It just slipped out, man.”

Grover kept the broom handle ready to strike. “If you want that inheritance you best come with me. Understand?”

Slade knew he didn’t have a choice. “You promise not to beat my ass?”

Grover just stared at him.

Slade rolled his eyes. “All right, let’s go.”

Inside the truck, Grover pulled a long wrench out from under his seat and laid it next to him. He gave Slade a stern look and warned, “Mind your manners, boy.”


Click for full excerpt from ROOTED.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Margarita Memory Lane

I'm going out for margaritas with a friend.  I promise to be on my best behavior. 

This means I will NOT: 
  • Drink a pitcher by myself.
  • Throw things.  This includes chips, fried pickles, glasses of water or loose change.
  • Step on cakes people set on the floor until time to celebrate a loved one's birthday.
  • Jump on stage with a rockabilly band on Beale street.
  • Try to paddle up the Mississippi river in a dead boat with a midget paddle.
  • Be chased around by so-called friends pretending to be paparazzi.
  • Be propositioned by a very lonely illegal alien with pretty good waiter skills.

Again, I swear on the ghost of Jose Cuervo to be on my utmost, no-holds barred, is it even possible best behavior. 

Just like every time before.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Eyeglasses: The Coolest Thing About Me

It's true.  They're brown and blue and make me look much more interesting than I really am. 

I was never cool enough for thigh high boots, spiky hair or big jangly jewelry.  Leopard print clothing? Yeah, right.

But my glasses? Boy, they make me feel uber-cool.

I wish I could squish my entire body behind the lens, they are that cool. 

I'd lead important meetings just like that, a pair of killer glasses at the head of the table, no body in sight. 

My voice would sound from the glasses, the voice of vision and clear reasoning.  All attention would be focused on the brown and blue framed lens.

No one would dare argue with the depth of my perception

I would be, in a word, VISIONARY.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A family curse, a stump-toed soothsayer, zombies, mortal enemies, bffs and so much more...

A summary of my novel: My Devastatingly Brilliant Campaign to Save the Chigg

Eighth grade was to be the greatest year ever for Ginny Edgars, creative genius, food connoisseur and future award winning zombie screenwriter.

But after one too many adventures lands Ginny and her friends in the principles office, again, she is abandoned by her friends and left to her own devices by her career-obsessed parents.

Alone, and still grieving the death of her beloved Gramps, Ginny determines to befriend eighth grade freakazoid #1, Carrie 'Chigger' Larson.

Only Chigger, the biggest sourpuss in the entire world, resists Ginny's friendship every stinking step of the way until an ancient Indian soothsayer sends Chigger on a quest to learn the truth about the Larson Curse.

Chigger fears the family curse killed her father and caused her mother to stop loving her. Even though Ginny knows curses are a bunch of bulloney, she agrees to help Chigger put an end to the evil that has plagued the Larsons for generations.

But the discovery of an old family diary destroys the girls' friendship, and sets Chigger on a devastating course of self-destruction that leaves her fighting for her very life.

Relying on her foxy cleverness and a few zombie combatant moves, Ginny resolves to solve the mystery of the curse and save Chigger, all while writing the greatest zombie movie ever, Space Zombies in Love.
Click here to access additional Cursed! posts.

Excerpt: On Going Deep (had one of them chew-wawa dogs...)

From my story collection, HEADSHOTS:

On Going Deep
On Dogs

That’s a damn shame. Dog like that with all his ribs poking out. If that was my dog… But it ain’t. I ain’t had a dog in years, its hard enough taking getting my own self fed. But shoot, if he was mine, I wouldn’t let his damn ribs poke out. I’d find him something to eat.

His name is Barrel so I say, “Barrel, how ‘bout you and me head up to Chicago and shack up at Brenda’s place. How you think she like that? Shit. She’d kicked my ass that’s what.” This makes me laugh but then the chocolate lab is all scrunched up against the brick wall like he’s afraid I’ll kick him. Like he’s afraid to be touched. Shit. That damn dog ought to know.

I tug on Barrel’s chain until he turns those miserable, brown eyes on me. I say, “When things settle down at home I’ll take you back with me. And if Brenda don’t like it she can go to hell. What’s she gonna do? Call the police on my ass again? Shit. If I had you I’d say run on Brenda, run on down to that lesbian Trina. That’s right. Do what you’re gonna do ‘cause I got a dog and don’t need your drunk-ass, drill-sergeant shit.”

Brenda is my old lady and the reason I’m down in Memphis. She gave me the boot last week out the clear blue. And there wasn’t no damn reason for it, only she’s got issues. Shit, we all got issues. So I just took my ass down to my sister’s house in Tennessee. Hell, let Brenda have her space. Let her run on down to Trina if she wants. I tell her, “Go on now, have at it,” like it don’t bother me none. And maybe it don’t.

I look out over Teresa’s backyard at the flowers all red, pink, purple and blue. The grass is greener than any I’ve ever seen and the swimming pool water looks as clean and blue as window cleaner. Teresa done good, she done real good. I see all this and know Barrel ain’t ever going anywhere with me. Not even when he ain’t being cared for proper. I could do better for him and that’s a damn shame. Shouldn’t be that way is all.

Crouching down in my ragged jeans I hold my hand out to Barrel. “Come on now, it’s just Ray.” But he won’t come to me. Damn Mark anyway. Why’s he want this dog for if he’s just gonna neglect it? I asked Teresa what we’re gonna do ‘bout this dog, but she says we’re gonna do nothing. Now how’s that? Mark don’t deserve this dog and she knows it. But Teresa ain’t got it in her to say no to that prince of a son.

Still I know it just ain’t right for a dog not to have anyone to love him or care for him. I’d care for him. I’d hide him inside my coat on the bus. I seen someone do that once. He had one of them chew-wawa dogs just tucked up in a coat with his face popping out. Right there on the bus. Ain’t that something? I’d like to do that.

Barrel is looking at me, wanting me to rescue him. He needs someone to help him. I see it, but what can I do? Shit. I shrug with a heavy sigh and hang my head. “I know boy. I know, I know, I know.” When I stand up I’m all lightheaded. Ain’t no-one around, just me and him. I clasp my hands together and wonder, “What we gonna do?”

Click here for complete On Goind Deep short story.

Click here for more HEADSHOTS posts.

Introducing Slade Mortimer: The Roaming Mortician

From my novel, ROOTED:
Washed up and drugged out, punk's poster-boy, Slade Mortimer, is on his last leg.  After years of running, Slade descends on Moonsock in a desperate attempt to claim an inheritance and escapte his dead girlfriend's revenge-seeking father.

While the women looked to each other for a volunteer, the door opened of its own accord. They were instantly assaulted by antagonistic screeching, harsh chords, and crashing drums; still they did not recognize the sound as music. The smell that poured from the car had the familiar trappings of rot and decay.

The women instinctively took a step back, and another. Then, slowly, one unlaced black combat boot was lowered to the ground.

“Bet it’s some deranged military man,” Althea determined loudly over the volatile noise. “One of them disgruntled Vietnam veterans.”

“Hush, Althea,” Eleanor warned as the other boot lowered to the ground. At this point the driver’s body slumped forward into view. He rested his bloody, searing blue spiked head on his hands, placed his elbows uneasily upon his knees, opened his mouth and succumbed to several harsh, dry heaves. He emitted a small amount of watery vomit, which dribbled onto his boots.

The women shuddered with revulsion, and then leaned forward for a better view. “My sweet Jesus,” Miss Josie cried. “Look at that mop.”

The driver managed to pull himself to his feet and stood wobbling for a moment before doubling over and succumbing to a gut-wrenching heave. “Auwaughhhhhh…”

Still bent over, they heard him faintly curse, “Shit…shit…shit…shit.” After a moment or two, he recovered enough to stand upright again. He looked around with dazed eyes and then promptly fell to the ground unconscious; his bloody face inches from Lucy’s bloody cow face.

Eleanor stepped forward and whispered, “Oh my! He’s hurt.”

“He’s hurt all right, but that still doesn’t explain the hair.” Miss Josie pointed at the bloody blue spikes. “Or the earrings.”

“Or all those tattoos,” Sarah Jane whispered, studying the driver’s naked torso, the word SWEET tattooed above his right nipple and SOUR above the left. A scaly red dragon breathing hellfire snaked up the side of his abdomen from his hip to right beneath his armpit.

“Or the way he looks all starved to death,” Althea pointed out.

“Or the way he just looks like death,” Miss Josie added. And that was what they all solemnly agreed; he looked like death. He did not even look like death warmed over, no, he just looked like death. His gaunt, alabaster body was emaciated.

“He’s fishbait all right,” Althea hissed loudly.

Eleanor disagreed. “He looks like a bruised and battered kitten.”

Miss Josie was more skeptical. “A kitten wearing black leather pants and eyeliner? I wouldn’t give my daughter any kitten like that.” She shook her head at the driver’s total inappropriateness. “And what,” she demanded, pointing, “for the love of God, is that?”

They looked away from the nose ring, ashamed for the man.


Click for full excerpt from Rooted.

Click for additional ROOTED blog posts.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Uncertain, Rethinking, Questioning

A decision to be made: considerations and implications.  What will it mean?  What will happen?  Who will it affect?

People wait anxiously for my word, my decision; pressing on me, bending my back with their hungry, expectant eyes.  Hurrying me when I need more time.

Only I'm not ready.  But there's nothing for it but to choose.  Decide and move on to the next thing, the next question, the next choice.  Because there is always something else to determine or choose or settle.  Always something else to commit to or solve.

It is never ending. 

I long to choose something new and challenging.  A risk, anything to get the blood rushing, to strain the muscles: anything to propel me up and beyond the routines of daily existence that increasingly comfort yet restrain me with each passing year. 

Anything to make me feel alive and vibrant on long and bitter winter days instead of insulated and isolated.

For now, harried and hurried I settle for the safe and known despite the fact that it is the tried and true that I most want to rebel against, to rise above.  It is the tried and true that seems to be thickening my blood and my waistline.

Decision made: I step to the counter and order Sesame Chicken even though it may not be what I really want. 

But what do I really want for dinner tonight, or the next night or the next?

More importantly, what do I really want for myself, my life and my future?  The same books and music and food? The same people and places?  The tried and true.

Or do I want unknown horizons and expanded views?  Music fresh to my ears, words and sentences and thoughts both strange and wondrous to me.  Untasted food, exotic to my tongue, foreign to my knowing body. 

I don't know.  I can't decide.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Introducing Sarah Jane McQuiston: Accused Vagitarian

From my manuscript ROOTED:
Stubborn and rebellious, Sarah Jane McQuiston is an untamable recluse hiding from a traumatic past and a scandal that has the entire town talking. All Sarah Jane wants is to remain at Moonsock: unseen, unwanted and untouchable.


The sheriff said, “First, Mr. McQuiston, let me say how everyone knows Sarah Jane is, well, she’s just different is all.

Like how when someone talks to her, she just stands there with her eyes on the ground, like she doesn’t see or hear no one. Almost like she’s holding her breath until they go away. Shoot, I’ve hardly ever seen her talk to anyone other than that mechanic over at Patterson’s garage. And it ain’t natural, her not dating or having a boyfriend, not at her age.

She don’t work a job or go to school. And she just looks a mess anytime she comes to town, always looking like she just rolled out of bed, or ain’t even been to bed in days. She’s a pretty girl, but ain’t none of us ever seen her in a dress, not even to church. Just wears those cut-off shorts and all.

And how she runs round all night at the river, like she don't have no upbringing."

“I know all about Sarah Jane, Watkins. I don’t need you telling me about my blood.” Grover might have said granddaughter, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. And he hated using the word “blood” to describe Sarah Jane, when it had never been proven to him that even a drop of McQuiston blood flowed in her veins.

Click for additional ROOTED blog posts.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Just Call Me Francis The Talking Mule

Highlights of my lowbrow vacation in the wilds of Missouri on our forty acre property.

Continued to clean up the devastation from a 110 mph straight line wind storm from a year and half ago.  This involved much mule-like activity centering around chopping/hauling/burning acres of downed trees and limbs.  Great fun.

Took a break to visit an alcoholic ex-felon who drank crown royal, blessed me often and talked of all the big, violent women he knew.  His mind kept returning to a pool-game murder witnessed in prison.

Gifted a quart of moonshine in a mason jar.

Saw an outhouse with double toilets minus any walls in someone's front yard.  Classy.

Crushed a mouse with my massive body.  Don't ask.

Busted a chain on my dirtbike just as a terrible storm broke.  Waited for help in a torrential downpour with lightning crashing all about. 

Spent New Years discussing Charles Bukowski, the beat writers and government conspiracy with a banjo picker. The quart of moonshine was drained (not by me). 

Made it home on gas fumes.

All in all, most enjoyable.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

23 Years of Disallusion: An Anniversary

On January 2nd, 1988 I:
  • Left my car at the bottom of the driveway with a note to my parents.
  • Drove to a church.  And yes, it was a Pentacostal church - recommended by a head trauma patient.
  • Eloped in my prom dress.
  • Honeymooned in a Motel 6 in Texarkana enroute to Dallas.
  • Dined on a steak finger basket at Dairy Queen.
  • Woke up in the middle of the night and swore my ring was missing.  When my newly-minted husband assured me it was on my finger, I exclaimed "I'm so disallusioned," and fell back to sleep.  Awoke five minutes later not remembering this incident.
On January 2nd, 2011 I:
  • Have no intention of driving anywhere today.  Its negative 40,000 degrees in Iowa.  
  • Plan to watch Weeds all day in my house coat.
  • Will dine on whatever my old, worn-out husband cooks and will like it immensely.
  • Slept soundly, dreaming I found arrowheads in dirt that I wanted to give my husband.
AND am still a bit disallusioned.