Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Roaming Mortician On the Run

Here's the beginning of a short piece I will be publishing soon.  It is basically an intro for my book Rooted.  As always, feedback always encouraged and appreciated. 

The Roaming Mortician on the Run
“You ain’t got to tell me anything. I know all about the Roaming Mortician coming to Moonsock and raising Cain. Shoot, I was on Eleanor McQuiston’s porch shelling peas when he come rip roaring up the drive, hell bent on ploughing right through us in that battered old Mercury.

At the time, we’d never heard tell of the Roaming Mortician. Had no idea he was some musician from up in New York City. Never even heard of his kind of music. Punk he called it. Punk was the right word for him, too.

His real name was Slade Mortimer and I’m here to tell you that fool had a true talent for shaking things up. Ain’t never seen so many skeleton’s come stumbling out of a closet at once. Skeleton’s that hadn’t seen the light of day in a quarter of a century.

Slade come running into town in an old Mercury Montclair he’d stolen. Of course, that ain’t all the boy stole. He lifted every bit of gas and whiskey and pills and God knows what else he abused his body with.  Everything he came to town with was stolen; even his skinny leather britches.

Only thing I figure he didn’t steal was food. That’s because the boy didn’t eat. That sorry bag of bones was pretty much already dead by the time he reached Eleanor. Seemed like all he had left to do was lie down and let his worn out body rest in the good Lord’s eternal light.

It was all that running that wore him out. Come down from New York City like a bat out of hell, running from himself and everyone and everything he ever knew. How could he have known he’d run out of running when he hit Moonsock? How could the poor boy know what was waiting for him down McQuiston Lane?

Him not knowing was probably for the best. Had he known, he would have never pulled into Gus’ gas station, never stopped for directions on the square.

But that is what the boy did. And Lord love him, wasn’t anyone or anything the same after that.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Myrna Sue will tell you all about it. So will Verdie and Arliss. They were the first to encounter the Roaming Mortician.  Even if they didn't know who or what he was.”


Well, what did you think?  Leave a comment and let me know. 

Click here to read more ROOTED posts.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Keeping it Real in a Writing World of Fantasy, Vampires and Steampunk

Twitter is great. I’ve learned so much about so many things from so many people. Ever changing trends, topics and discussions and have opened my eyes to worlds of information I’d never given much thought to.

After years of writing locked away in a private office, I jumped on the Twitter wagon two years ago and was immediately shocked and humbled by the astronomical number of writers trying to break through, just as I was.

Never before had I been exposed to so much hot off the press fiction. It was like having my finger on the pulse of the literary community. Twitter enables me to be part of the greater literary discussion, to voice my opinion on character development or ask formatting questions and get an immediate response.

All this from my private office where I’d worked for years, head down and fingers flying, oblivious to anything and everything that was not making its way into my manuscript.

But all that has changed. Now, it is not so easy to have tunnel vision. Every time I’m on Twitter, I get an eyeful of what my fellow writers are working on or have published.

Turns out, there’s a whole lot of fantasy writing a’going on. In fact, a buttload.

I’ve been introduced to an endless variety of vamps and werewolves and other worldly beings all living out God knows what kinds of lives in the literary universe. These fantastical beings have day jobs and lovers and join the PTA. They go grocery shopping, curse and spit and have explosive gas, for all I know.

Then there’s this whole thing called Steampunk which I had been woefully unaware of. A veritable hodgepodge of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s (thanks Wikipedia).

Coming out of my private office and into the Twitterverse, I have been truly astounded at the creativity and ground breaking work being developed.

This has caused me to look at my own body of writing from a different perspective. How do my novels and stories fit in this fantastical literary menagerie? How creative have I been in my world creation and character development? How much glitter did I employ?

From this fresh vantage point, I’ve realized my work is mired in realism. My characters do not have any supernatural abilities. They do live in the underworld, heaven, space, or other dimensions. They do not crossbreed with other fictional species. They do not have immortal battles.

Does this mean my characters and their struggles are any less formidable than those found in Fantasy or Steampunk? Does this mean their battles are not as grand or sensational?

The answer to these questions is NO. If anything, their battles may be more significant due to their realism.

My characters greatest battles are fought within themselves. They need saving, and saving bad. Laid flat by life and events beyond their control, or brought to their knees by their own whiskey bent and hell bound natures, my characters can’t take another step forward. Can’t stand on their two feet and face another day. Can’t turn to another living soul for help, because they haven’t just burned their bridges, they demolished them in a raging fury.

Demons and monsters are battled in my writing. But these are the ones within my characters, the one within all of us. Finding the strength and courage and will to face what is inside is about as fantastical as my stories get.

Ultimately, the fight for salvation is the greatest battle my characters fight. It is this battle to save oneself that always surfaces in my writing.

Sounds pretty boring next to all those vampires and werewolves and wizards and steampunks.

And yet, I find the internal life is as dark and deceptive and dangerous as any fantasy world. Maybe more so, because it is real.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Giving Birth: Dreaming a Writer’s Journey

I don’t know about you, but when I am writing I seem to have dreams that directly relate to my work. But not in a way I would have expected. I would expect to dream about the content of my novels, but this is not how it works.

For example:
When I was writing about detectives in Wanted: The Roaming Mortician seems like my dreams would have taken on a judicial slant: mobsters and drag queens and morticians. But this did not happen.

When I wrote Operation Tub-butt, seems like my dreams would have been filled with revenge seeking middle-schoolers and cheerleaders. But this did not happen either.

When I wrote Cursed! My Devastatingly Brilliant Campaign to Save the Chigg, seems like I'd be dreaming about zombies and curses and stump toed soothsayers and pickles.  But no.

When I wrote about mud and guns and jeep chases and funerals in Rooted, seems like I would have dreamed about all of that. But no, again.

What I dream:
With the development of all my novels, I dream about babies: fresh in the womb, baking up good like a loaf of bread, and ultimately, their delivery.

When starting a new novel, I invariably dream that I have just learned I am with child. I’m not visibly pregnant, but a few weeks along.

As I progress through my rough draft, my pregnancy progresses as well in my dreams. After the initial pregnancy dream, there will be a dream where I’m five or six months pregnant, and then another dream of being full term. Finally, I deliver a healthy happy child. This occurs right after I finish my rough draft.

Only, with Rooted, I dreamed I delivered twins on a beach. Which obviously means the book is doubly good.

Lately, I’ve had a different set of dreams which relates directly to a side project I’ve started. I’m currently revising some old content I have lying about. Content which I feel may influence the literary world for generations to come. Not necessarily in a good way.

The dreams have to do with three novellas I am creating based on content which did not make it into my books. After starting these short projects, I have dreamed of returning to an old business I had and starting it over. But in my dream, my plan is to start the business on a smaller scale, with fewer clients to make it more manageable.

The next dream I had involved four or five small sailboats which were abandoned in a lake. The boats were upside down in the water. Once I righted the boats, I discovered they were in very good condition. In the dream I reclaimed these small boats.

These dreams center on reclaiming small things WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT I’M DOING WITH THESE NOVELLAS.

Spooky, I know. But I’ve come to consider these dreams nice little perks of my writing process. I welcome these dream babies, partly for the encouragement they provide, but mostly because they don’t need diapers.

Friday, February 3, 2012

No, I Will Not Wish You Good Luck Writing

Why? Because you and every of other lucky son of a biscuit eater are potential literary competition. Why would I want you to write a book better than mine? Why would I wish you luck finding an agent, or landing a big fat publishing contract? Let’s be honest, if you were lucky enough to land an interview on NPR, I’d probably choke on my tongue. From envy.

Well, not really.

In truth, after writing a gajillion words and pages over the last nine thousand years, I have learned luck has very little to do with being a successful writer. Luck will not improve your storytelling or editing stills. Luck will not induce anyone to read your work. Luck will not keep you motivated day after day, month after month, year after year. Okay, decade after decade (now I’m depressing myself).

No, I will not wish you good luck writing. But I do wish you the same things I wish for myself:

• Faith
• Patience
• Perseverance
• Slicer dicer editing skills
• Fearless writing
• Dedication
• Ability to overcome obstacles
• A clear vision, humble heart, open mind and critical eye
• Unshakable confidence

Most of all, I wish you success, in whatever form that may take. So keep on truckin’ my literary friends. For one day, you probably WILL be interviewed on NPR. And when that happens, just know I will be choking on my tongue. From joy.