clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bathtub Murder

It was in this very bathroom that I killed Glenn White, character.

I put him in the tub with a large model radio - probably a zenith ...

The outlet and extension cord have no GFI circuit and the fuse (screw in ) had been replaced by ... the penny. Hardly brilliant on Glenn's part.

Of course, his wife playing catch with the radio while he was in the tub was no great act of kindness. We only get to see Glenn beneath the waves. The Lights in the room are still flickering and sparking from the dead short.

Hope your writing is going well. At least, shockingly well.


It's probably important to attribute this idea to a newspaper clipping I've had since 1984. I bought a paper (return to civilization) and saw this article. I ripped it out. Last night, I used it on Glenn.

Who the hell carries an article about two dead kids in a bathtub for thirty years?

Credit: UPI OCT 30 1984

FORT WORTH, Tex., Oct. 29— An electric hair dryer fell into a bathtub while two children were bathing tonight, electrocuting the 8-year- old girl and her 6-year-old brother, the authorities said.
The children, Sandra and Shawn Austin, were pronounced dead at Fort Worth hospitals, the police said. Officers said the children were found by an older sister when she went to check on them. The sister told the police she had placed the hair dryer on a shelf or on a sink in the bathroom, but officers did not know how it was knocked or fell into the tub.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Terrbily Wrong

At left the famous Montparnasse derailment.

I'm plotting and it occurred to me not enough is going horribly wrong. Characters need to have worlds that aren't a little wrong. They need the whole flown-to-shit treatment.

I'm trying to call the last book I read where things went according to plan for the protagonist where I enjoyed the tale.

I can't.

It's a quck lesson tonight that is all too obvious and which I too easily overlooked.

It's mayhem. Cause some chaos. Make your characters dance.

I hope your plans are working out well, of course. I know you are writing. I hope that's not a bear in your laundry room. That'd be terribly wrong (or would it?).

Monday, July 29, 2013

Commentaries on ...

All the novel is divided into three parts: Beginning, middle and end.

I'm working on beginnings and have three to write. I need to find a voice for my particular antagonist and by the time these three trials are done, I'll have one. I have to live with the bastard. I want to like him.

At left, without permission, Old No. 7. I had a Methodist aunt who called it "devil in a bottle." I like old Nick and his friends as characters. I liked him in Milton and what else can I say?

I'm working (again) through Nancy Kress' Elements of Fiction Writing: Beginnings, Middles, and Ends. The book works for me but the sticking points are difficult. Conflict early. Character without cliche. Specificity. Economy of language (tough one there).  Then we have our old favorite - show not tell.

The key part of the long effort is done: I have a soundtrack.

I listen to the same thing over and over when working long form. The songs I choose become devices to return my mind to the state it was in at the prior session to help me retain the consistency I desire.

It's a trick. It's worked on several efforts and the soundtrack for the current W.I.P. is in place. I hate the songs when I'm done. Often, I can't listen to them for years after because they become all wrapped up in the turmoil and tumult of telling the story. Nevertheless, they are critical elements for me.

Some writers use the same pads or pens or even the same physical locations for the first draft. Those things help - but for the prospect of isolation, the headphones and music do it for me. I learned long form in a very noise and disruptive environment. Return to the early tricks will help me re-learn now what was fairly natural once upon a time. I was a better mimic when young.

Thank you Jack Daniels' Old No.7.  I need some evil an you are just the right inspiration. You'll understand if I keep the genie in the bottle myself.

I hope your genie is out and about helping you write. If she wears the Barbara Eden costume, I'm not sure that helps. Keep that in mind. It's drafty in here.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Why Crime?

At left a compass that isn't true.

In so many ways this answers the reason behind "why crime?"

I'm fascinated with the choices people make. I build models in part to understand the choies people might make. We call it the OODA loop: Observer Orient Decide Act. (Thanks to COL John Boyd)

Given a set of facts shaping their perception, people execute the OODA loop in some fashion. Short circuiting the OODA loop with a rash action is also an OODA loop result action.

What is it that makes crime an option out of someone's OODA loop?  Oh - the criminal mind...I don't much care for that. I understand having a low regard for one's fellow man.

I'm interested in those things that when chained together give the impetus to a person to do wrong. I love that chain.

So, why crime? I have a high tolerance for the dead, dying, maimed, injured. I'm fascinated when these things result from a logic chain that just went a little skew.

I'm fascinated by the broken compass. How long does it take to know the thing isn't pointing true?


I hope you are able to trust your compass when I'm through. I know you're trusting your pen.

Write on.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Permanent Record

At left, my high school language arts department. At least, that's how I remember them.

I was reminded that my search for an original sin yesterday will go down on my permanent record. Let's review that document.

Wrath, greed, sloth, envy, lust, pride, gluttony. In Galations, there is a more extensive list from none other than Saint Paul (met Christ after resurrection - which is a pretty scary thing). These sins, we're taught, are the capital sins in that they are cornerstones from which other major and minor sins flow.

I like to think of them as a keg of bad someone left the tap open on at the party. As I am frequently found near kegs at a party, it's no wonder I've gotten a little of these on me.

Go with your strengths, I've been told.

As Bugsy intones: We're the very best at being bad.

SO, why tonight this discourse on misbehavior?  Flawed characters. Deeply flawed characters.

I find it hard to love a character who is an eagle scout. There it is.

I don't trust the righteous or the clean. If the old man wants to send me a personal message, he knows to not use one of the tall fellows clad in white robes and shiny armor. He'll borrow a day laborer with a dirty bent pitch-folk and have him bring me a note on a greasy do-nut bag written in sharpie. I'd trust one more than the other.

I've made a bunch of flawed characters and put them in an area where I keep ratcheting up the stakes. Some don't make it. So far, I haven't pushed any of them into flows that are "deadly" meaning beyond my meager means to still make you love them despite their vices. 

My judgement on this is suspect - given my permanent record.

I'm going to need a nun as a beta reader I think. I'm going to need someone in the good department who can tell bad right off and who can tell me when my bad has gone too far. If I squeeze the love out of a nun, I've gone too far because believe me I've tried to push them too far before.

I'm almost done plotting. I've figured a lot of the book out this week by telling myself the story over and over from the viewpoint of different characters. This has helped because some characters don't know the whole story and thus this drill of "what do they know" has been self-correcting.

This point feels a bit like coming to a restaurant in the summer when it is way too hot. You go in, sweating and discover your party isn't all here and the restaurant reservation isn't quite ready yet. You hope the food is good because you picked the place and your reputation and ego are all wrapped up in the outcome. Nevertheless, while you can tell yourself the food is great and the evening will be a hit, you're still standing trying to edge into the bar hot, uncomfortable, and a little unsure that it's going to work out. 

I have a little of the discomfort right now. Writing the text ( not just my 3000 and 5000 word trial bits) is going to be a big relief.

I hope you're not hot and sweaty. I'm sure you're full of sin. If you can't say something nice at the party, come sit by me.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Original Sin

Annie Lennox in her song "Missionary Man" speaks of original sin. As I'm borrowing from Annie about sin, at left I borrowed some missionary men. Seemed fitting.

My characters sin. They're not boastful about it. In fact, if asked they will lie about it (another sin). But sin they do.

I'm looking for an original sin. I'm looking for a sense of betrayal with a twist. I have something near that - where one character convinces another to try something which most probably will result in death. Self-murder, in this case. It's clever but not for WIP.

I'm going to have to play with dichotomy. I might have to play with old Nick. Interesting.

I'm going to have to invent an original sin tonight. I think I'm up for the task.

I'd ask you to join me but I know you are writing. On the other hand, you know what I'll be writing about.

Off to do a little wrong. Don't answer the doorbell. It might not be who you think.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Does It Looks Like A Nail?

I'm a writer which means I'm a content mule. I carry the pack of content everywhere I go all day long.

It's what I do.

At left, a ball peen hammer. (Peening is an activity machinists perform to draw the edges of metal into a thin wafer in order to have it hold an edge.) It isn't a framing hammer, but I'm partial to the ball peen hammer. Indulge me. It's earned the respect.

So - content mule. We writers look at so many tangential elements of our writing. We invent complimentary tasks to our actual writing. We fret over platform and presence and exposure and endorsement. We are after all Writer Inc.

Unfortunately, the only thing we're very good at is content. It's completely in our control. Sure our books are the product of group efforts. The content did however originate in a laundry room in the dark.

What am I after here? Content saves.

When whatever it is drifts out of control - drop the nerviousa bullshitosa. Write something. Then write something else.

The part we control is the part which is most essential. I contend much of the rest will take care of itself if you write clever, exciting, immersive stories.

You'll feel better swinging the hammer whatever it hits. I know that for sure.

Nobody ever has too much grade A material hanging around to pass out at a moment's notice. It doesn't hurt to have some in the bank, however.

I hope you're writing. I hear the pounding. That can't just be a heart left over from Poe.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cleaning Up

At left, tools of the trade.

Under the title of profession you may not know about is that of the appliance man.

Oh, this isn't the guy who fixes your washer. These are fellows who are ace disposal agents for the bodies and evidence of an unfortunate demise.

My first introduction to them was some years ago when I learned that - if available - a refrigerator is  the ideal storage compartment for the freshly dead. Yes, it is a beast to get the body inside. However, the problems of fitting nicely do not require the work of dislocating the hips as a dishwasher does.

It's nice to believe you can stuff a body in a mattress. They aren't made that way anymore. You can carve one up but it takes more than just a pocket knife and a leatherman tool.

Removing the evidence gets harder and harder. You cannot spray bleach around and believe the smell will go unnoticed.

The true crime section is full of "almost got away" stories with the tales of how, with a little more care, it might have worked. If you're looking for "foolproof" then these books have much to offer. It isn't my cup of tea. I write fiction. I make shit up.

Need to cover up blood stains? I give a character an industrial marine-grade spray epoxy.  Meh. It works. It isn't like I have to go and buy the stuff then live through its application.

Cleaning up is however an important topic in mayhem. Bodies are huge bags of liquids. They get all squishy. Getting rid of one is like moving 200 lbs of wet pasta. I love when a murder occurs in a book, the body is moved, and the detectives find not a trace. Oh, that makes me so happy. (Sarcasm - learn to recognize it).

How do I solve it in my stories? I have the killer leave the things as they fall. I don't want to have a conversation about how a Prius won't hold a man of 6'3" unless he's dismembered. I've hot-cut meat. I don't want to go there.

I hope things are tidy in your neck of the woods. I hope you're letting the bodies lie where they fall.

If not, watch your back. Throw it out moving Jimbo to the dumpster and you'll have a hard time getting into the convertible with the dame.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Not that it is terribly significant, but this blog is moving. The old address will continue to direct you to the updated content.

I'm moving up.

Janet Reid had a blog post some time ago about mis-matched email addresses. For example, . The point was the address did not convey a sense of being "professional" about writing.

Fine. I'm not Janet but she's right in the degree of professionalism displayed. Sure, Susan may be the next J.K. Absolutely. Everyone starts somewhere.

With very little effort, you don't have to look like you're still in somewhere.

So, I'm now I'll be moving this over to that hosted domain sometime shortly as I manage the configuration game.

Yes, my domain is a pen name. Why? I'm a private bastard first. Second, I share a name NASCAR driver. Now, I don't want someone looking for my online presence and be confused about an overwhelming desire on my part to turn left all day long.

SO, branding: owning my domain.

Lastly, I entered a little contest this weekend. Just a 100 word bit on Janet Reid's blog. It is however my first of those sorts of bits. It was fun for a diversion. I cut the entry of a short story from last year into the duty for the entry. We'll see. I'm nowhere, now. How can being ignored change that?

Now, I have to get back to the plot of my WIP. I want to write the last chapter this week and map the middle so that I can sketch characters and their connections more fully.

I'm feeling good about pressing forward with this one. I will return to the on-ice collection of short stories as this WIP passes from concept to draft.

I felt good about buying the domain. It felt like a commitment. It made me feel confident.

I hope you feel that way, too.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Back To Work, You!

You know who at left.

I'v stewed over the weekend on the WIP.

Amazingly, stewing doesn't write a single word. No novel is ever worth a shit if unpublished.

So, grab the oar.

Fun is fun. Time to move the boat ahead.


I hope you are hard at work. I know you're up to the neck in mayhem.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Fun, I say, Fun

Our ideas of fun may differ, but we still need to have some.

At left, Ivy Mike. A personal favorite: the first hydrogen bomb.

I've been having some fun with my writing. My character Kaitlyn made toast that had a few too many residual rads. That's a problem in her household. Growing up "normal" in a family of genius over-achievers can be a problem.

I also entered one of Janet Reid's 100 word contests for the first time with a bit of garbage story it took a little more to edit than I thought. I don't often write to a word count but the drill was perfect for sharpening those editing skills I haven't used much in a month.

I've had fun. We should remember this writing bit for all its frustration can be fun. We should remember to make it fun.

So, having a blast. Hope your thermonuclear Saturday goes just fine, too. Remember, it's the tamper that counts. You want to achieve the x-ray pumping to elevate the speed of the fusion in the earliest stages.

Who's afraid of a little, Boom Boom ?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

So Much Ink, So Little Time

It is almost time for me to get serious here.

I've been at this blog for nearly a year and have a degree of drivel and unrelated stuff scattered about.

Find a voice. ( Makes me sound like Norman Mailer.)

Time to scrub that old drivel and talk only about writing, writers, mayhem, and murder. It is after all our intended stock in trade.

We cannot have Ms. Reid interested in our own assistant murderer (apologies to Mr. Hammett), come to this site, and see how much we like My Pretty Ponies! That won't do.

So, clean-up is this weekend. The older stuff gets flushed and we stick to murder, mayhem, heartbreak, betrayal, and the deception of the gods.

I had an occasion this week to need to fill a work with mayhem. For a minute, I was stuck with what mayhem I had to invent. Of course! I will mine the self-made slush pile of doom and gloom for mayhem that isn't otherwise being used. Yes, those piles and piles of short stories do have something to contribute.

I found a pair of bachelor farmers (one bachelor, one estranged from frau in the same community for 26 years) pulling fence posts when something goes wrong, a tractor flips, and the brother is dead.

I found a distracted fellow driving a tractor and implement across the train tracks when he's hit and dragged for a quarter mile at about ten miles and hour, then dropped into the creek from the trestle where the tractor cab is bent shut from impact. He drowns. Screaming.

I found the calculated murderer who shoots out a car's tire from an overpass in the rural west, then abducts and binds the occupant in an abandoned farmhouse. Unable to overcome his sense of guilt-induced impotence, he burns the structure to hide his crime, drives into an alfalfa field, and shoots himself. He dies, slowly - from the ill-considered shot.

I found the rancher who dry-gulches the banker one hot August night. The banker has both slept with the rancher's wife and now is calling the rancher's loan. Small communities are like that.

It took about ten minutes to look through the pile of stapled drafts that are forever awaiting revision, polishing, and the heavy tuning necessary to have utility outside the walls of my own library.

Are you recycling your failed stories? You should. I found the ordeal uplifting. Something good can come from those efforts which never quite panned out. Mostly, the stories are poor because of the execution of the writing. The concepts however were smashing.

Maybe you don't have as much penned murder in your library as I do. 

I crashed a Zeppelin into Lyon once just to burn the center of the city and its occupants. Well, I crashed it to illustrate the desperation in the son of a Titus-style father who could not face returning home wounded but without any effective damage inflicted on the enemy. Fascinating part of WW I, actually: the Zeppelin campaign.

Anyway, soon to clean the backlist items here.

Search your own piles of slush and see if there isn't something you've forgotten that could help you this evening.

I hope you're writing. I know you're up to murder.

So much ink, so little time.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Boy's Not Right

At left, one of two buildings left from what was once a 900 acre estate for the insane in Detroit, Michigan.

D.E. Johnson has a lovely book set in the time the facility was operating: Detroit Breakdown.

Where I come from, crazy is not an excuse. We had the crazy right there in the community. The harmless were called "peculiar" and the dangerous were called "strange." You didn't go to the door of anyone who was "strange" even if you were on fire and needed a glass of water to put it out.

Now, I would prefer my criminals and malefactors to be completely sane. I know that isn't entirely popular; but, it is what I prefer. I know it is easy to portray a criminal mind as somehow twisted.

I find the prospect of a reasoned and deductive bent towards the pursuit of mayhem somewhat more frightening.

It is as if Einstein postulated the end of the world in 2015. First we'd question is reasoning and logic. However, if a good counter-argument cannot be found, New Year's Eve at the end of 2014 would be a very big party. The track record of reason makes the predilection of harm so much more the frightening.

So if you go to kill Pickman and find the basement full of chewed bones, you might believe what he paints was not purely a fictitious composition.

Mind the crazies. Better the killer is reasoned and sane. It isn't the product of a madman to want to do his neighbor in. It's the product of a little yappy dog.

Read some D. E. Johnson. Have an ice cream. In this heat, anyone can go a little nuts. The ice cream helps.

Well, it doesn't hurt.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Head Over Heels

A little football got a little rough in Brazil.

The article is here: soccer-referee-decapitated.

The fans decapitated the referee and put his head on a stake in the middle of the field. That is, after his body was quartered.

Now, bodies are hard to pull apart and even with a panga, they are tougher to split than your average grocery store chicken. It makes the story suspect to me. 

Nevertheless, it is common enough to read about the headless corpse in the crime genre. I'm not a fan. I prefer my corpses with heads. 

Dismembering a body might make it easier to transport but the end game is a bit like making paper cut-out dolls with you daughter: there is an awfully lot of material spread about which creates a very large mess for a very little bit of fun.

Oh - you say. It makes identifying the body harder to do.

Unless you're freezing them and traveling a good distance - say across state lines - most people who go missing as in "dead missing" have someone somewhere calling the cops to report it. If your local union steward takes an unplanned vacation without telling the wife, you can bet the homicide boys are going to be johnny-on-the-spot when limbs start appearing in garbage cans behind the local eateries. They'll figure right out who it is they're finding over a large metropolitan area.

Oh sure, killing a transient and moving their parts about: sure. You got me. However, we're civilized murderers here. We kill for reason and purpose - and personal amusement at the screams of a victim aren't a good purpose for crime. Horror ? Sure. Sicko-lit? Of course. Not however in my crime, please.

Miles Archer gets it and we wonder why ...till we meet Iva.

I'll say I prefer my corpses intact with small calibre bullet holes ruining the front of their best suit. It makes the game more interesting to me. It's easily understood by the reader and there is no need for ballistic information that seems to dirty so much otherwise delightful writing.

Who cares that the body was blown out of the floor from the Barnes-X in 165 grain 30-06? If it isn't falling thirteen stories and killing the shyster lawyer whose implied blackmail was brushed off by the recently deceased, what does it matter?

Shoot 'em. Put 'em down.

Don't make trophies. It isn't sporting. It's beneath you.

The Edgar? There's a sporting trophy for you.

I hope you're writing. I hope you're watching your football in the comfort of your living room without the threat of decapitation.  

No stoning, please.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Completely Unreliable

No, I will not drone on about WIP. I will however talk about unreliable characters.

I am not able to pull off the unreliable narrator. I cannot afford to break the trust of my reader because my prose is not strong enough to keep them if they believe they have been deceived in narration.

However, in the 3rd person omniscient - or limited omniscient - the reader can witness the personal failings of my character without growing to dislike the character.

Picture a character two steps past bumbling: a bit like old Nik here. Cage in this picture looks like a guy you might loan your keys to knowing that when you see him again the odds are better than 50-50 that he'll greet you with one of those "A funny thing happened as I was in your car..."  lines.

You want to trust the guy. You want to believe he'll come through for you. Inside, you suspect he'll disappoint you most of the time.

In my world, that's God. He's just that sort of fellow. In your world, it might be old Nik here.

When I was a boy, I wrote a story about "Bad Lassie." Loved and fed by Timmy, she was a great dog, and then she ran off. Timmy went all over the country looking for Lassie. Many people saw her - Mr. Burt who chased her off for killing his chicken. Mr. Fred who chased her off for chasing his cows. Mrs. Tunny told Timmy she kicked Bad Lassie when Lassie knocked her down and stole the roast from her market bag.

Timmy would respond "that's not the Lassie I know" in disbelief.

I didn't know a lot about plot. Timmy never found Lassie. The story was just a sting of mis-adventures from the sweet dog Timmy knew brought on by Bad Lassie.

No, I didn't like Timmy. Kids like that set a bad example. I knew where the trouble came from: straight arrows like that little bastard. If those kids were gone, the rest of us would have looked a lot better.

Never a well around when you need one.

I hope you re writing. I hope your characters are only full of disappointment when they're on the page.

Push an editor down a well tonight. You'll feel better.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Party at the end of the world.

Party picture at left courtesy Zorba the Greek. Hey - it's the attribution.

The Party at the End of the World. Not quite what you expected? You thought a Jimmy Buffet parrot-palooza of drunken debauchery?

Well - maybe if you knew it was the end of the world. That's the point: no one notices the end of civilization. One minute you're at the ball park thinking about getting a last beer before the cut-off and the next you're the last sentient being on the cinder wondering if the lines for the bathrooms are shorter now?

I'm back from Chicago and a great trip. Look for the uptick in the GDP soon. Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco. I left a big pile of dead presidents in Chicago. Worth it, though. Worth it.

I've been grinding on the structure of the WIP. I was driving back from the gym this morning and heard Jimmy sing about the party at the end of the world. It hit a nerve. Remember how civilization was on the verge of catastrophe in 1979? What happened? I mean, we did have the 80's (_Bright Lights, Big City_ and _Less Than Zero_). We did however appear to pull back from the brink of self-destruction (took a bit longer for some of us).

I think I know. I'm writing about what happened in the WIP. I remember the day the wind shifted. It wasn't much of a morning. The weather was overcast and the temperature struggled to climb into the high 40's. I remember he wind shift, though. I caught it on film at the time on a roll of drop-in 110 in a Vivitar I'd carried for a couple of years.

What if we have a party for the end of the world and we don't tell anyone it's the end of the world. Will the party look like the picture above? 


I hope your parties are filled with pirates and parrotheads. I hope your novels are filled with hope and joy.

Leave the bodies in the bathtub to the professionals. Oh - you are a professional? Well then. I hope the scene requires counting limbs and dividing by four. If you're gonna kill 'em off, make finding the pieces a little bit of a fun puzzle just for me.

Hope you're writing.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Boom Boom

At left, a scotch old enough to vote.

You shouldn't be afraid of a little boom boom.

I am out this week on some time away with a mission of plotting. I've a couple of attempts here on my desk and - like always - backstory seems to dominate the notes as I make this stuff up. I will focus more on the events in my ext run at it and less at the "why" which probably won't be in the book, anyway.

So, plotting. I'm a basic plotter. X goes here. Finds a body. Goes there. Finds trouble. Talks to someone and connects body and trouble. The basics.

I need a character list, a sketch, and some time to write it out. The good parts never come in the outline. They come from the draft and connection I made that I didn't know existed.

So, this week is some time away from the pressures of the day gig with a solid helping of fun thrown on top for good measure. I'll have lots of quiet time and will use that for the 100 points of plot to craft.

I hope you are writing. I hope you're drinking scotch old enough to vote.

Read something old this week while you're at it.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

World Building

Every story has a world.

Most frequently, we use the world around us. We rely on the normal conventional world where the physics and morality and interests and motivations of people are based in things we inherently understand as a kind of dialect for existence.

Then, there is the skew. The world we want to write in where maybe only one tiny detail is altered. Maybe characters suspend disbelief and embrace fairies. Maybe aliens walk among us. Maybe the moon has left the orbit of the Earth because of a colossal release of sub-atomic particles in a radioactive waste storage facility that suffers from a strange unexplained cataclysmic failure (Space 1999).

When we alter the known realities for our setting, we have to explain something of the rules to the reader. We have to do world building.

It's that part of writing that requires we the author to know everything and winnow what we reveal to the reader to just those little parts which are germane to the characters, plot, conflict, and motivations.

I did some of that tonight. I had to know just which little parts I was altering so my premise could exist outside of the world I experience each day.

I did this by having one of my characters explain it to me.

To my knowledge, I haven't read of doing this. I really haven't any experience at world building at all - which is a fault of my fiction because I really do the "en media res" bit shoving the reader into a bewildering world without any adequate preparation. ( FAIL). Nevertheless, I did take the business of environment and setting more seriously this time.

So, how does stuff work? I had my antagonist explain it to me. It seemed natural enough. After all, he'd just had a woman kill her husband in the bath tub and he had some time on his hands.

I hope all your spare time is taken up in writing. I suggest having a new character explain something to you as well. It helped right away define a voice for this character that I had not otherwise envisioned. I liked it.

Play God. Make a world. The example you know is generally fracked beyond all recognition so give it a whirl. It's a very low bar.

Takes less than seven days, too. I think this one has the look of something produced the night before the due date using No-Doze and 'Dew. Maybe that's just me; but, there it is. I'm not impressed with the precedent.

Job's open. That's all I'm saying.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Lost Souls, Paradise, and Me

This land will be home to the misfits of my novel tracked at left: Lost Souls in Paradise. (Working title. Really horrible working title.)

The picture at left gives you a good idea of the country. A stunted tree or two, lots of sky with only a hint of cloud, and a water tower made of stone (not enough wood). Brown grass. Lots of brown. Some years it breaks off and blows away. Some years not.

Buffalo grass in this picture. Tough sod to dig in if you're planting a body in the middle of the night. Tough.

That same stone on the tower was also used for fence posts in this part of the world. Not enough rain for trees.

So, I'm off. I've put a priest with a peculiar type of faith into this mix. In truth, Paradise was never a very catholic town. The Methodists and the Lutherans have the show. The catholic bit works better with me and so the Methodist church at the top of the hill is now a catholic church. Elsie wouldn't be happy; but, these things happen.

SO, mayhem. Yes. Murder ? Yes. Sixteen year-old daughter of a priest? Yes. Neighborhood demon? Yes.

We're good to go. Karen Russell, eat your heart out. I've got a shitland of incest, rape, murder, betrayal, hope, and magical realism,too. Nobody who walked across the plains and stopped on the Paradise Creek was scoring full marks on the psych evaluation.

Oh - Dorothy, if you read this know _Bastard_ spurred me on. These are people I've known and I put them someplace else I knew: Paradise. If I don't cook 'em off in the summer heat, they might kill each other out of spite.

Open the mailbox carefully folks. Someday there might be a snake in there minus his rattles just waiting to get even for cuckolding the mailman.

Off we go.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Social Dance of Doom

Imagine Mr. Fred Astaire - who is certainly not an awkward dancer despite what studio stills might show.

I'm writing tonight of the social disconnect, the malfunction.

I went to a potluck tonight for Independence Day. It resulted in a social disconnect.

The host has the attention span of a gnat (though he's a great guy) and the dinner rapidly degraded into a juvenile series of firework antics. The host had ample help in other guests.

I and frau slipped away on the pretense of working tomorrow before things spiraled a bit farther.

Now, guests were having fun. It was informal. It was a backyard - becomes front yard - becomes in the street type of deal with no more serious consequence than some debris raining down on seated guests in the back (a few bottle rocket sticks). Nothing untoward.

Just awkward.  The group had split and the promise of pie and ice cream evaporated into swathes of sulfur smoke. It is the 4th of July.

I came for a potluck of the loafer, wine glass, and conversation sect. It became a sandal, PBR, and "watch this" sect. Nothing wrong with the fun - just a disconnect.

Now I am thinking. I have a character who is a priest deep into middle age and who has comes to a rural environment. He's a man of a type of faith. He is not a local but he's not an outsider, either. There do have to be elements of the social disconnect in his world.

With those disconnects, there also comes a recognition of loneliness. Being out of place can bring waves of loneliness. I need that emotional depth in some of my character's encounters.

I need to think a bit on how that loneliness manifests itself in someone who desires to be a part of the community but for whom the term "community" is not reflected in his reality.

Of course, there is the progression of lonely housewives which we see culminated in one who is occasionally possessed. Always a dilemma, possession.

Sleep tight and know you are among friends.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Groucho, Woody, Mel, and Me.

It's that special Wednesday, the Insecure Writer's support group.

You can find CAPT Alex and the ninja army of insecure writers at the link here.

So, this is a nice place to begin again. We've tried a couple of elements of web presence and with this Wednesday, we launch the first edition of the mayhem of observation.

I've long admired Woody Allen and Mel Brooks.

I like Woody's early works the best but then, they had a certain rebelliousness that came through a bit more than perhaps in the later works.

Brooks - well. Who can fault a man who wrote _The History of the World, Part 1_ ? The stand-up philosopher alone should have earned the man a Nobel prize.

What little I share with these two is a world view that seems to be different from my peers. I see a new garden in the neighborhood, a sign on the telephone pole for a lost dog named "moppet" and I hold my neighbor in higher esteem. Horrible, you say.

Yes. It is.

There is a curse among those of use who are iconoclasts.

Where I come from - there is a saying about funerals. Sometimes there's a big crowd because so many hearts were broken the day he died. Sometimes the crowd is big just because so many people want to make sure the bastard is put under. Hard to tell which is which just from the number of cars in the parking lot.

It's taken a bit of searching; but, these are the characters I love to write about most. The relieved husband of a woman who commits suicide (ought to cure half a dozen neurosci) . The disgruntled history professor who founds despot island - the land of misfit dictators and tyrants. The county sheriff whose brother shoots the banker (to much public adoration and acclaim). The youth who suggests his friend cannot swim across a pond, only to know that the friend will try to do so and will likely drown.

The are my people. These are the joyful sort.

Murderers? check. Unrepentant sinners? check. You know, the interesting sorts.

I like most the fallen angels. I'm attracted to things that are bad for me. I suspect you are as well.

Groucho ? What's he doing here? Before we get too chummy, know his advice: I'd never join any club that'd have me as a member.

Sort of wraps up the whole independent spirit bit in the nutshell, doesn't it?

Join the e-hermits. We're a lovely band of poor self-promoters. We ignore opportunities to network. We like nothing better than to hang at the back of the bar. We have jackets (we never wear them). We have a lovely convention in Nashville (nobody goes).

We don't belong. We see things differently. We love mayhem and mischief and the tired sad souls who in desperation achieve for one shining moment the glint of independent action - and then are crushed by the machine.

We are our heroes. I've told you mine. They aren't so much insecure as unconventional.

Say the magic word, win a prize.