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Saturday, March 31, 2012

¡En Español!

I just released “El Velorio de Maya” – the Spanish translation of “Putting May to Rest” at the Kindle Store.

Like the original it is an absurd tale about a girl’s eighteenth birthday around the holidays in the 1980s and realizing her dream of seeing Baryshnikov dance, but life throws her curve ball and she has to attend a funeral first. Then hilarity ensues. Well, it wasn’t funny until years after the fact… It’s funny if you didn’t have to live it.

Is that synopsis too long? Try this one:

Death happens and your family is far less dysfunctional than the one in the story. I’ll bet you anything!

The Kindle Store will run a special promotion from April 13 to the 17th. It’s my gift to you guys. Just when taxes are getting you down, you can download the title for free!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Because She Was A Woman

Eons ago, I knew a gentleman who frequented this jazz club in The Village (the stuff of legend). His name was Robert John and he was a poet and a cartoonist. An old bohemian in the flesh!

More often than not, he sat alone at the bar, drinking and chain smoking, a grumpy old man who just wanted to drink, smoke and listen to live music. He had friends, but he was not exactly a social butterfly. In fact, he preferred to grunt at people than speak to them. Then he’d do the Times puzzle and ignore us all.

He was perfectly capable of intelligent discourse, but he had to be in the mood and he had to like you. I somehow managed to charm him, probably because I said something inappropriate in his presence or insulted one of the resident reprobates in a particularly clever way. It was an odd pairing, to say the least, because he was at least 50 years older than I was and yet perfectly suited for the friendship.

I had started publishing a zine then mostly to amuse myself and friends, and in trade with other publishers. Robert John somehow got his hands on an early copy and actually requested copies thereafter. I was greatly honored, but not as much as when he gifted me an original editorial cartoon and permission to reproduce it in any way I wished. That was epic!

After a particularly moody short story in one issue, he gifted me two poems that were perfect companion pieces. Even as I grew cynical about the subject of romantic love, these speak to me still.

I just wanted you to know
During my solitude,
I told you
    all there is to know
about me.
    Trouble is,
you never heard a word.
You weren't even there.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Even your absence 
    overwhelms my air.
Breathing deeply,
I can feel your aura
    filling my lungs
& wonder . . . 
could I hold my breath forever?

He told me the best joke. It’s a little twisted, but that’s why it worked.

A little girl's cat died.  
She asked her father, "Daddy, where's my cat?"  
Dad tells her, "Your cat is with God now."  
The little girl thinks about this for a moment 
and responds, "Why in the hell would God 
want a dead cat?"   

He told me once that he was proud that my writing had developed and found a strong voice with which to “tell it all!” He particularly enjoyed that I displayed my anger in the form of satire, dispensing with all hypocrisy and stupidity.

He has been gone for years now, but I still think of him. I wish he could read my more recent work and critique it for me. One time, long ago, I was ranting at the bar on some feminist issue or another and he started to tell me a story, or perhaps it was a poem, and it began with the words, “And because she was a woman…” I don’t remember much more than that, but that line has stayed with me for two decades and it will be the title of an anthology of short stories about women.

I have two stories finished and revising a third. "Nadine and Libby" will probably end up in there as well. I want to finish at least a dozen. Tentatively, I want to have this ready before summer starts. Just one more project to distract me from life...

Robert John would have loved that. (Not the denial, the book idea.)

Cover Image: Salvatore Vuono /

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Blog Interview

Scarlett Rugers, a cool Aussie book cover designer who is also a published author (under the name Scarlett Archer). Like many of us like-minded individuals, she is an avid reader and she obsesses about first lines. So much so that she started her own blog to talk about it. How cool is that?

Yes, first lines. You know we’ve all discussed it at one point or another. Great lines stay with you for years and years, and become part of your psyche… Great lines can be the gateway to the greatest adventure of your life. Bad lines stop you dead and literally prevent you from reading another word.

Scarlett also does interviews with authors about first lines, reading and writing. Tomorrow (Wednesday the 28th) my very own interview will appear on her blog, 1001 First Lines. In it I talk about my favorite first lines and writing.

Please visit Scarlett’s site and check out my interview tomorrow, and if you wish also check out her site for other content. There are some interesting opinions there and you may even find the inspiration to pick up a book you haven’t read yet or pick up on that you haven’t read in some time and brought you joy or enlightment.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sometimes the Muse Finds You

My friend Julia brought up Christina Aguilera songs in an ongoing conversation and one of the tunes mentioned stuck in the back of my head. Somehow, this set up the background music to several images I had in my head into a complete picture.

For a couple of days, these images floated in my head and began to mash into a larger landscape that I could not only see, but I heard it, I felt it. I was there!

I had not even realized I was dealing with the puzzle pieces that would form a full story.

I wasn’t even planning to write a short story.

So when that discussion of where your inspiration comes from, this one falls into the very definition of “Anything, everything and whatever.”

Sometimes you are not looking for the Muse, She just finds you and gently taps you in that place that makes the fingers dance across the keyboard and build a little world populated by people you feel you know, at least a bit, and their story unfolds across the screen.

March Madness is a period of great joy for me because I love college basketball, so I wasn’t expecting to get much writing done during the tournament, least of all this little gem.

A moody tale of love and joy and destiny turned on its head. A snapshot of a moment quite independent of the larger issues that surround it, a moment that rarely is the focus of this type of story.

To be sure, March Madness is a period of great emotional upheaval – great joy and excitement, surprise, disappointment, anger and denial. But as I partake for love of the game and not for any other ulterior motive (like bragging rights or winnings), I was not expecting writing that would result in a melancholy piece of writing.

In “How Nadine and Libby Escaped Destiny,” a child is playing outside an old trailer and her mother watches her from within as the essence of the moment unfolds. It is a sad tale with haunting images; a tragedy that aspires to a happy ending.

It came from the well, from the deep, from the heart I suppose. It came from the place dreams are born.

Is there a larger story to be told? Probably, but that’s an issue for another day. Today I immerse myself in basketball and the joy of the dance.

During commercials I will continue to ponder this concept of inspiration and that magical process that allows writers to suspend disbelief and enter that creative bubble that brings forth the words.

This time, it was a song and the fragility of little girls of all ages… Then again, I always assumed that if you mixed sugar and spice, you might end up with something bittersweet.

“How Nadine and Libby Escaped Destiny” is available at Smashwords for free download.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Don't Box Me In!

Part of my goal in my self-publishing experiment is to try to write outside my area of comfort and expertise. This is not something that traditional publishing supports in their authors.

This is the reason that many have for years been forced to write under pseudonyms, which I always found ridiculous because generally fans knew that a writer was writing under so many names.

It has become vogue to write for a YA audience and some authors may dive into children’s books from time to time. On the whole, unless they venture from fiction to memoirs, few authors are allowed to – or even try to – write outside their niche.

I think that is limiting.

So far I have tackled cookbooks, fiction (crime), memoirs, and short stories. Next I will release a sci-fi (steampunk) novel.

Will this turn some readers off? I can’t see why that would even be relevant. People who do not cook or are not interested in food as a topic will simply ignore the Food Goddess volumes, just as they shun the stacks of cookbooks at a brick and mortar bookstore.

My opinion is that if the theme and general plot of the book seems interesting enough, people might be inclined to try it out and maybe even purchase it.

I may have a graphic novel in me, historical fiction, humorous essays, or even a treatise in comparative religion. I feel a fable coming on… Not all my readers will share the same interests but I do not see this as a disincentive to try.

Will any of my efforts will be considered a mayor success? That remains to be seen as we are nowhere near the end of this journey. Musicians are rarely allowed to venture outside the genre that made them famous, though some refuse to be limited by the industry or market pressures. Wynton Marsalis and Elvis Costello immediately come to mind.

I say that if you want to dream, dream big. Why not be a polymath of self-publishing? I may have more than one poem in me too!

The way I see it, readers may reject it and they have the right to do so, but I will not be boxed in by convention. Not in this brave new world!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Chronicles Introduction

I spent a better part of the week writing an introduction to the steampunk series. It traces the days prior to our female lead being yanked out of our reality and landing at some strange world that is ever so familiar, if slightly off…

I wasn’t particularly happy with it. Not because there is anything inherently wrong with it, mind you. It even starts a running gag through the series.

My problem was that for all its character development, it has nothing to do with steampunk.

This is an experiment on my part and it is quite probable that it may fall flat. That does not mean I’ll shy away from trying. The whole point of diving into publishing was to do new things. A girl needs a little adventure.

It’s likely that some of these experiments will fail. I don’t mind that at all, in fact I see failure as an opportunity to try again and improve on what I have.

The idea is that the introduction will be released as a free offering and be followed by the first book in the series when the lead character arrives in the new world.

I started the intro deep into the story, as narrated by the Scribe who wrote the Chronicles.

The first draft is up here: -- you may read it for free, hopefully you’ll enjoy it; you may also comment, if you wish. By opening up my process I can only hope to survey how you guys feel about it, assess whether it may be on the right track, and make it a little better before I put it “out there.”

If you choose to travel this road with me, I thank you in advance for your time and whatever help you can provide. Don’t be gentle, I welcome brutal honesty (you may comment anonymously).