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.

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