Monday, September 24, 2012

And y'all thought I was kidding about my wife's cleaning spree up at the cottage and how it's disrupting my vacation.

The white tornado has struck.

MMWUC: Dreams of my Dreams

The last week at the cabin begins. I'm listening to the crackling fire as it warms my skin, smelling the last essence of a once mighty northern pine toppled last year in a windstorm, much like the thirty mile per hour gusts rampaging outside today. My cup of Folgers coffee, perfectly blended with five spoonful's of sugar and a dose of half 'n half, warms me from the inside. The leaves have finally decide to change colors...a week later than last year. My wife awoke at five in the morning to greet the sun: it hide behind a bank of clouds to tease and anger her. I slept and dreamt of high school friends, some I haven't seen since graduation: Michael Funk was there. Bob Silk was playing a practical joke on someone. Sharon Gyeski giggled behind me in Geography class. Mark Baumeister, Joey Capolunghi, Pete Palmer, and I squeezed into Phil Spies' corvair. Funny thing is, I don't remember Pete doing it in the past. Debbie Betham (God rest her soul) giggled at something, head nodding. On and on it went, but the odd thing is, we were all in Berlin, Germany, where I went to protect our freedom instead of Saigon in late 1974. (Wiping my brow on that one.)

I guess vacation is like that. Stepping away from the current familiar, lounging around on Facebook, ignoring home chores. And if my wife stops cleaning the cottage, shuts off the vacuum, sits and relaxes, I just might let her live so we can both return next year. Otherwise, I'll have a new experience for the senses: the sound of slamming bars in the state penitentiary for murder. I wonder who I'll dream about there?

Is it time to write a high school reunion story? Have you written yours? Did classmates threaten to kill you over it?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Book Review - Cutter's Bizaar

Link to Amazon

And now for something different--Cutter'sBizaar. It is perhaps fitting that the first chapter of this literary coming of age novel is a dream occurring at some unclear moment later in Frank Cutter's life, because the last chapter brings us full circle to the promise the opening reveals about his life, and what the future holds on this continuing journey. The story arc runs true.

Throughout the novel, his dreams (apparitions) paint pictures of the critical points in his journey from a wise-beyond-his-years, 15-year-old cowboy in Wyoming to a fashion photographer of international notoriety by age 25. His innate talent lies in an uncanny ability to get models to project what he needs for a successful shoot, becoming the equivalent of the horse whisperer to the models. And the exact nature of the talent is elusive to me, just as Howard Roark's ability to design buildings of unique beauty in "The Fountainhead" never fully formed in my mind. Is it coincidence that Cutter's tragically-doomed mentor was named Roark? I don't think so. If a talent like Roark's or Cutter's was so easy, we too would know it when we saw it, and most cannot see nor embrace it.

The narration-heavy story has an elusive plot that the reader must work at, which involves Cutter's search for true (perfect) love. Some strong language and sexual situations infuse his journey; however, they are not gratuitous. The writing is clean and uncluttered, and there is a calmness in the voice that invites you along, even when horrific things happens in Cutter's life. I can see action-oriented people grumbling, "Boring," and at times I wished Cutter had not have kept me at arm's length, not letting me in any more than he let many of the people in his life. In sum, it is a very good read and a solid 4 from me. Full disclosure: I was given a copy of the book for a review.

Monday, September 17, 2012

MMWUC - Are we there yet?

I'm editing my novel, still; revising my edits, pouring over critiques, running spell checks, performing grammar checks, looking over what my first readers had to say, listening for echoes, checking for misused words, color-coding sentences to ensure each one shows action, identifying motivation, heightening the emotions of the characters, revealing something, raising the stakes, and tightening the action.

Oh God! Should I remove the scene at the church? Does it really mean what I think it does or is it snoozeville for the reader? Are there some characters that I don't need? Does that guy Bob really need to be in the story? Do I really have to pile bad things on top of bad things on top the horrible things for my protagonist? I feel his pain, and I've gotten teary-eyed at the end of my own story.

The editor has gone through the book and has volunteered to read it again as a reader this time to give me an "emotional" feel about the book and look for anything she might have missed the first time around. But it is at this end game to the book that makes me wonder what more could I have done.

Yes, I know its an unconventional mystery, and is more about healing at times, subordinating the mystery for lengthy periods of time while the protagonist gathers strength and grows while fighting inner demons rather than outer conflicts. Is that a mistake or is it just another way to look at a mystery?

Arg! Maybe I should through it in the garbage can. I've been thinking about a new story.

Fed up with congressional impotence, former Playboy centerfold, Ima Lotta, rejects her cushy lifestyle to run for Congress. "Well, there are a lot of boobs there already. So I'm a natural." After a surprise win of her congressional seat, she quickly becomes a Capital Hill favorite by her efforts to get congressional members to agree on passing measures that are sent to the President for signature. "The work is so exhausting, but so thrilling." She is then voted in as President pro tempore of the Senate, over the objections of many. After the President, Vice-President, and Speaker of the House are killed in a hot dog eating contest during her 36th birthday party, she becomes President of the United States by succession. Then, the fun begins.

Okay, it's late. I'm tired. I'm on vacation. What do you want?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Review: Enemy in Blue

Enemy in Blue

Empty your bladder, have your favorite drink ready, sit in your comfy chair, and read. Don't stop. That is the only way to get through Enemy in Blue by Derek Blass. If you stop reading and think about this story, you might not finish it. Suspension of disbelief is lacking because there are so many plot holes throughout. I will not list them in deference to the people who love thrillers that rely on the constant building of hate for characters and unbridled violence to keep themselves entertained, regardless of the lack of commonsense or cohesion within the story.

The writing and twists are fine; the character backstories interesting, but superficial. The plot line has merit, but was born from the thriller-in-the-vacuum of reality hatchery. That's why you need to read it fast. Just like Steve Martin's movie "The Jerk" where you mumbled, "What a jerk," at his antics, I kept mumbling, "This is so stupid," with regard to some of the action. Example: the reporter, kidnapped, beaten, and face blistered from burns, is thrown into a car with the "good guys" for a long drive to Mexico to help fight the bad guys. This is so stupid. She wasn't capable of fighting anyone! She needed medical attention, but I guess the author needed to create a romance angle with the lawyer. And depending upon who was doing the driving in this story, different desperate drivers drove to the same spot in Mexico anywhere from 8 hours (police chief) to 4 days (the wives).

But even for thriller lovers, I don't understand all the 5 ratings. Four maybe. As I read to the end of the story and the unbelievable (not in a good sense) trial, I kept wondering if the author was ever going to bring back the seventh cop at the initial opening scene as a surprise gotcha witness. Sadly, another loose end. And yes, there was a seventh cop. A cop had to be driving the SWAT vehicle as the team rode in the back to the initial crime scene. Guess I should have read faster over that point. If you're detail oriented, this is a 2; otherwise, this is a 3.

Monday, September 10, 2012

MMWUC - Writer's Vacation

Obligatory Cute Animal High-Fiving
As most of the free world knows, I'm on vacation at the family cabin in northern Wisconsin overlooking the shores of Lake Enterprise. But, someone commented, "Does a writer ever go on vacation?" I forget my snappy response, lost in a sea of other words that needed more consideration. But even while being in suspended animation from the act of writing, I've jotted down ideas for seven more stories; two even sound promising. Here's a sampling.

* Sixteen-year-old Evelyn Crishler awoke pregnant, having never known the touch of a man: the second coming or human evolution? Her problems have only just begun.

* At a cabin on a remote lake, frustrated writer Sam Bly finds six dead teenagers while walking in the woods then discovers he's not alone.

* When a small meteorite smacks into a small lake drowning residents in vacation cabins, only Josh Johnson survives, but who is he?

* Four octogenarian women gather at the lake cabin for a last time after coming up to it for seventy years. Will old stories draw them together or tear them apart?

And on and on it goes. So I guess: writers never stop, they just give the keyboard a vacation.
- - -
Five years ago, someone on the Murder Must Advertise site once asked for help with promoting her book. I, never without something to say, wrote back with a dozen ideas. This was one of them.

* Do a rapping' grandma bit about your novel for YouTube.  That'd be different and would attract the younger audience.

"Murder, mayhem in the old south
Crawdads and shrimp fill up your mouth
Old folks read more murders these days
Go buy my book for gramps today.

I am June Shaw and I write books
Dash of murder and girls with looks
C'mon move and live the danger
Buy my book Relative Stranger"

I guess I scared her. The book is now titled Relative Danger. Advise from this odd-ball stranger was just too much to handle.

Monday, September 3, 2012

MMWUC - Flash Fiction Sounding Not Like Me

Owe That Dog a Bone

even before i pull down the black bag Fluffy knows i am going he would shred it but he fears it

the black suitcase masters me

a neighborly wave i am gone wishin i had time for one more cup of joe one more cinnimon roll one more warm embrace one more walk around the place but the cold air smacks me awake and the crossroads of america beckon

i waved at someone on another bus opposite heading

could we switch rides for the joys of coming home

i unpack black bag and a hard rubber chew bone drops out guess he figured an offering to the black bag might keep me home

i owe that dog a bone

- - -
Your wake up call is to write out of your style, your comfort zone. To boldly go where your pen has never gone before.
- - -

There was an old man from New Jersey
Who thought that writing so easy
He sat on his bed
and emptied his head
But all his poems turned out sleazy