Friday, May 30, 2008
Yesterday, I went to my boys school awards assembly. That got me to thinking about my old school days. Particularly when one boy got an award and the teacher joked that he would be the perfect student of only she could read his writing.
No one ever confused me for the perfect student, I found my way into too much trouble for that to ever be the case, but I did make good grades throughout and I think most of my teachers liked me. Of course one or two did not, and the most adamant of those was my forth grade teacher, Mrs. McCarthy. Given the laws of nature I feel fairly confident she is no longer with us so I don't worry too much about her reading this and tracking me down to stand above me with that disapproving frown I saw so often my fourth grade year.
Even in Mrs. McCarthy ... (oh, how I wish that would have been Jenny McCarthy) Sorry got distracted. Anyway even though Mrs. McCarthy found fault with my tendency to talk in class or clown around with my buddies I still made all A's and B's, mostly A's I might add. Except in one subject -- Handwriting.
Now I'll be the first to admit, a recovering heroin addict in day three of the shakes, could write more legibly driving down a pothole-filled gravel road than me. Doctors look at my markings and ask, "What the hell does this say?" I haven't written a word in cursive in years since I can't even read it, but all that aside most of my teachers in the past would give me at least a B- so that I could attend the A/B honor roll functions. They basically threw me a bone since I kicked butt in my other subjects. But not Mrs. McCarthy. She gave me a big fat C every six weeks so as we were approaching the end f the year I had not attended a single pizza and coke party with the other burgeoning geniuses of my school.
I lobbied my position and cruel Mrs. McCarthy said, "I'll give you a B when you actually deserve a B."
That's when fate stepped in and helped me out. Or so I thought.
My mom was and is a hairdresser so I spent lots of times in the presence of gossipy old ladies, hairspray and perm solution fumes, and bobbie pins. A young boy can oly watch so mnay ladies get their hair curled before he looks for diversions. After a while even Red book and Better Home and Gardens start to look good. One day while flipping through the girly mags (no not those kind, actual mags that pandered the the thoughts and ideas of middle aged women -- maybe that's where my whole thing with women's fiction started?) I'm wandering again so back to the story.
I don't recall the magazine but I came across an article that said a recent study claimed that those with high I.Q.s often had losuy penmanship because their brain worked faster than their hand. I snuck over to my mom's station, nabbed her hair sheers when she wasn't looking and clipped the piece out. Not even Mrs. McCarthy could doubt science.
I presented the article to her the very next day. A B heck, I figured she woud be duty bound to give me an A after reading the info. I had the worst handwriting in the class that had to mean I was the smartest kid there, right? Of course, Mrs. McCarthy had the prettiest handwriting I'd ever seen. That could only mean she wasn't all that bright, right?
Actually, I think that's where I went wrong in my presentation. In hindsight, that last little bit of logic probably wasn't the best thing to close my argument with. That six weeks I got my first ever D.
So tell me what kind of student were you? What is the story behind your worst grade ever?
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Michael Eisner, the former head honcho at Disney has started a new production company called Vuguru. Here is a description of the company straight from their website ...
Vuguru is a new media studio for Michael Eisner's The Tornante Company. The studio produces and distributes innovative story-driven content for current new media and emerging platforms
The company's current project is a series of fifty, 2 minute video clips based upon the prequel of an upcoming Robin Cook novel titled Foreign Body. Eisner's company is telling the story before the story so to speak. The NPR story focused on the merging of different medias, internet video and published literature.
My first reaction was excitement. Anything that promotes books and reading is a good thing, right? Now I'm more in the maybe category. According to the interview, Robin Cook thought the project would help bring not only new readers to his work but younger readers on top of that. And he may very well be right, but I'm thinking that will be the case only because of the novelty factor.
Later down the road will non-readers really seek out video clips of prequels and then get excited enough to go out and buy the book? Will these videos create readers or will they merely feed those of us who are already hungry for more of our favorite characters. And will this be just another hurdle for the little guy or the new guy? I'm betting Eisner doesn't produce one of these spots for a guy like me who has yet to find a literary agent or editor who recognizes sheer brilliance. (that's meant to be funny in case any agents or editors actually read this post)
Robin Cook basically invited the medical thriller genre and already has a huge fan base that will no doubt check out the clips, as would Evanovich fans wanting an early look at the next Stephanie Plum novel. King, Grisham, Clancy, Crusie, Weiner, Rowling, Irving. I could list lots of authors that could bring fans in droves to a early teaser. Eisner can bank on their appeal to draw hits and thus increase the cost of advertising on the site, but will this project or idea help the publishing business on the whole or increase the interest in reading thus helping all of us struggling writers. I have my doubts.
Using name brand authors I imagine the company will get enough hits to generate a good amount of ad revenue, but I don't see a great advantage for any author even the big hitters. My guess is most of the viewers will be those who would by Cook's novel anyway. It's like selling pollen to a bee.
Of course, if Mr. Eisner would like to prove how beneficial these videos are to authors, he could really show the world by taking an unknown author ... maybe a big hairy guy from Texas -- and produce a series on some yet to be discovered novel of modern day piracy and human immorality ... maybe one titled Plundered Booty -- and if that turned said author into an overnight sensation ... well, that would prove this idea's merit to the world.
Truly it would.
What do y'all think?
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
So In an effort to streamline I joined Google Reader and I smut say a few days in I'm loving it. So if you don't see my name in you stat tracker anymore do not think I've abandoned you, I'm jsut not using the links on my site any longer. Soon I'm going to take them all down and do a bit of reorganizing. As I repost the link to my favorite blogs I plan to highlight them in a series of posts and describe why I come back to read them day in and day out.
In other blog news, be sure to check out Ello's blog Random Acts of Unkindness tomorrow when she has a special event planned. Here are the details straight from Ello's blog.
On Wednesday, May 28th, 2008, Dr. Gigi Durham, the author of a new groundbreaking book entitled The Lolita Effect, The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What we can Do About It, will be here for a Q&A session to talk about her new book. I hope you will spread the word and bring many others to interact with Dr. Durham on a very important issue that affects us all, but most particularly parents of daughters.
And if you are new to blogging or simply want to know what it takes to have a successful blog be sure and check out Josephine Damian's recent series about the art of blogging. She's on a bit of hiatus right now but read this series and then go through her archives. Josephine is the queen of straight-shooters.
But wait there's more. Fellow blogger JerseyGirl89 the author of the popular Dirty Little Secret blog is in the midst of a run of bad luck. She has also has another blog which she used to bolster her income a might and she could really use a few extra clicks right now, so if you have a few minutes click her and add to her totals. don't worry there isn't any pop up or anything. it is simply another site on blogspot in which she does paid posts.
Now for Two Line Tuesday the creation of Women Of Mystery.
A bit of dialogue from Plundered Booty my WIP ...
"For the love of God , Hank. How many damn books do you need to know those islands are covered in palm trees and sand?"
And from today's blogpost over at the Bookends Literary Agency. Check it out it's a very informative post from the other side of the desk.
Of course, on the other hand, I’ve sent letters a number of times to writers who later became clients, and those who resubmitted and still got rejected. There are no guarantees in this business from either side of the desk.
In other news, I have decided upon my next project once Booty is finished. Details to come.
So what's frying in your pan right now? Gearing up for summer? Dreading the kids being home all day? Headed somewhere exciting for vacation? Lubing sunscreen in all those places that haven't seen nary a ray of sunshine since last August? Curious minds want to know.
Monday, May 26, 2008
I so close to the end of Plundered Booty that I can smell it. (That sentence is going to read really weird for those of you unaware I am writing a novel title Plundered Booty.) This is a long holiday weekend as well so there are many factors to my reluctance to write a long drawn out post about Amarillo, but the blunt truth is up not up to doing any of the research required to pull of the ideas I have in mind so this week's edition is purely my opinion. Take it for what you will. Given that this is a three day weekend I stuck with three as the theme. Well, three and meat but then again meat is the underbelly of most of my posts.
TOP 3 GOOD THINGS ABOUT LIVING IN AMARILLO
3) Despite having a population of nearly 200,000 it feels much smaller. Traffic jams? only if a wreck is involved or the space shuttle makes a "surprise" landing at the airport.
2) People are friendly and it is rare that I go to a social event without running into to somebody I know.
1) It is more politically correct to call yourself a carnivore than it is to be a vegetarian.
TOP 3 BAD THINGS ABOUT LIVING IN AMARILLO
3) The town is prone to being narrow-minded about new things and people that are different than the accepted norm.
2) Hail, it's windy. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Amarillo is the second most hail prone city in the US and the third windiest. Sorry Merry, Chicago didn't even make the top ten.
1) Amarillo sits smack dab in the middle of the best fishing places in the country. You might think that was a good thing, but unfortunately, it is three hundred miles no matter which direction you go to find these places.
TOP 3 PLACES TO CLOG YOUR ARTERIES.
3) El Bracero Mexican Grill - Home of the "La Parrillada" which is a little grill chocked full of meat, grilled onion, and roasted jalapeños that they bring right to your table. They have a variety of tasty meat options and you get to pick two. My recommendation is the Cabrito (goat) and quail. And before you ask no i do not eat he peppers,they're green aren't they.
2) Bl Bistro -- This place is too pricey for me to eat at regularly but it is owned by a guy I graduated high school with and it is one of the few places that serves elk from time to time.
1) Coyote Bluff Cafe - Greasy fries, tasty burgers, thick steaks and cold, cold beer. Need I say more. Don't let the seedy appearance of the place fool you. It's good.
I could go on using the power of three to talk about things in my town but like I already said, I'm lazy this week. so here's my offer. Something you want to know about Amarillo? Curious about my city. Here's your chance. ask me any question pertaining to the town or anywhere in the Texas Panhandle for that matter and I will answer it to the best of my ability. Wanna keep the theme of three going and know the top 3 places to get drunk, the three ugliest people, the 3 worst jobs, the 3 best jobs , just drop a question in the comments and I be like the jeeves fella and pop back with some sort of answer.
Also participation in My Town Monday has slacked recently so encourage others to take part if you get the chance. Here is a link to my original post talking about the idea. Go read it, and then post a little something about your town, because I'm curious about things in your neck o' the woods.
And be sure and stop by Reid's blog to wish him happy birthday.
LINKS TO MORE MY TOWN MONDAY-ers
Debra - Village of Peninsula, Ohio (Be sure to stop in and sign up for her contest)
Linda McLaughlin -- Anaheim, California
Terrie Farley Moran (Women of Mystery -- New York City, New York
Barrie Summy -- San Diego, California
Mary Nix -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio
Saturday, May 24, 2008
For instance, I get the fact that the more corn we use for the production of ethanol, the less we have for the other, more traditional uses of those little golden kernels. I grass supply and demand economics. I buy the reasoning behind cattle feed going up and there for beef prices rising. I am not baffled that the Green Giant must charge more for his frozen packs of Nibblers.
And, I even understand that the price of popcorn has exploded. But here is where things get greasier than your fingers after eating an entire bag of eight-dollar popped gold at the cinema.
That headline comes from a USA Today story that theater owners are planning to raise ticket prices by as much as 30% because of the escalating price of popcorn. According the the story, ticket prices are subsidized by the sale of concession stand goodies and the higher popcorn is the less people buy it so the less the theater makes. There are more holes in that theory than gray hairs in Indian Jones's stubble.
If I go the counter and see that a tub O' cholesterol now cost me more than Nick Nolte spends on bail money then I'm going to change my snacking selection. I'm just as happy munching on Sugar Babies and Junior Mints as I am on digging kernels of popcorn out of my teeth for the next few hours. As a fat guy I will go on record as saying I don't care what I eat. It's dark and my focus is on the screen. Give me chocolate covered ants, or deep fried grasshoppers and I'll probably never even notice unless the movie is total crap. I say the theater owners should get inventive. Tell the National Popcorn Society to go to hell and feed us something different. Unless your name is Orville Redenbacher you can probably sit through Pirates Of The Caribbean 18 -- The Curse of Jack's Kracken Bones without a barrel of butter drenched, air-infused corn. And if you can't well then you tell the kids there will be no Christmas this year and go ahead and break out the credit card at the concession stand.
This is the equivalent of strip clubs raising their cover prices because the cost of glitter has skyrocketed. I say we all put our foot down and start sneaking in bags of microwaved Pop Secret. Women use your purse, and guys, just cram it under your shirt. Sure you'll look fat and lumpy and you might even get a few grease stains on your clothes, but sacrifices have to be made. Besides, chicks still dug Elvis right up until the end and that smae desription could have been used to describe him.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
The actual room where I write is far to disorganized and messy to post pictures of. My wife woud kill me if I did. She won't even step foot in the door yet she often tells me how bad I need to organize and straighten. Instead of bringing you my normal writing environment, I thought I'd share wiht you my idea of the perfect climate to create. And I actually got to try it out last week as you'll see in the pictures.
Here it is, my idea of writing paradise ...
The shot is of my buddies dock at his waterside cabin at Lake Buchanan west of Austin. Here was the routine while I was there and I wish I could do this everyday.
5:30 A.M. -- Pop out of bed(okay, pop might be an exaggeration) get dressed and be out on the lake as the sun rose.
9:30ish -- Head back to home base for a bit of vittles consisting of the triumvirate of breakfast meats sausage bacon, ham.
10:30ish -- Gather my laptop, fishing poles, bait and beer and head out on the end of the dock, where I would fish and work on Plundered Booty while doing a bit of catfishing. My buddy chose this time to take a nap, but I'm of the opinion I'll get all the sleep I need once I'm dead.
4 P.M. ish -- My buddy would stagger out into the sunlight and suggest we fire up the grill. Steaks, burgers, and grilled chicken for fajitas made up out afternoon menu.
6 ish -- Time to head back out on the lake to chase the Stripers and White Bass. We stayed out until the sun dipped down in the west and then headed back to the cabin for a nightcap. Him Crown and Seven, me rum.
10:30 or so -- Go to bed and get ready to do it again.
A great routine while it lasted.
The striper fishing wasn't all that great due to the fact it rained every night I was there and a constnat north wind, but I did manage to catch a fair number of White Bass and on topwater lures no less which is always exciting. I also managed to nab a few of my whiskered brethren while hanging out on the dock writing.
Few things are tastier than a channel cat fried to a delicious golden brown. Someday i hope to afford a place like this of my own where I can live out my days with my family -- writing and fishing, and enjoying life.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
I'll warn you their is a bit of colorful language that might offend those with virginal eyes. This scene come early in th novel and is a gathering of a group pf car salesman and the their boss Junior who only recently inherited the dealership from his father. This comes from my modern day pirate novel Plundered Booty. The novel spans form the red dirt of Oklahoma to the white sands of the Caribbean as the reader will find out there is more than one kind of plundered booty. The entire novel is told through the eyes of first person narrator, Hank "The Captain" Zybeck. My aim is to have the narrator seemingly be telling the story top the reader so it is a bit intrusive compared to most novels. Sort of in the style Holden Caulfield narrates Catcher In The Rye. Only Hank is a honest but naive, good ol' boy as opposed to a whiny, rebellious rich kid. The novel is meant to be humorous, sort of a blend between a Jimmy Buffet song and a Kinky Freidman novel.
Rex tilted his head to one side and studied the applicants. “Where’d they come from?”
I posted flyers at the community college and one down at Luanne’s School of Beauty.” Junior slung his arm around Rex’s shoulder. “One or two more ought to show back up, but y’all can start interviewing now.”
Rex stepped away from the boss. “You’re telling me you never met these girls before?”
Never laid eyes on them until this morning, but I got a wallet full of hundreds says I can lay more than that on any one of ‘em by week’s end.”
"So we,” Frank made a circular motion with his finger, “Choose who you hire, and then we’re gonna bet on who can nail her first?”
"That’s right, Sherlock.” Junior smiled. “Sherlock. I like the ring of that.” Already Junior had dubbed me Captain, and J.J. John Juan. No doubt Frank had just earned the nickname Sherlock.
"I’d kept quiet until this point, but one question came to mind, so I cleared my throat and said, “What are we supposed to tell them if they ask about being in the TV commercials?”
"Tell them that will be up to me,” Junior said.
"Oh, no!” Rex spun around. “Girls like that are whores when it comes to getting on television. They’d all hop in bed with you right now with that option on the table.”
"Hey, I have to tell them something. Who the hell wants a job answering phones and putting up with horny old car salesmen?” The boss laughed and slapped Dave on the back.
"Give us two weeks head start before you move in.” Rex had gone back to ogling the applicants. Now there were five.
"Why should I agree to that?”
"Because. You’re the boss and that gives you an advantage.”
"One work week.”
"Come on, Junior,” Rex said. “They know you have all the power. And look at your competition. Dave is so sleazy repulses ninety-eight percent of women. J.J. knows his wife would castrate him and hang his balls on her rosary, so he’s too scared to even try. Frank plays the banjo. What more can I say? And Captain … well we both know he couldn’t pull any pussy if he had a wagon full of cats.”
Junior grinned. “Throw Ol’ Captain in the ring and you might be surprised what he can do.”
To make matters clear, I said, "I’m not playing.”
"Don’t be so eager to push the dinner plate away. You might take a fancy to one of those ladies out there and decide you’d like a taste.”
"Not me. I’m not much of a gambler.”
"Then he should pick the girl,” Dave said, but thankfully no one else seemed to have heard.
The boss turned back to Rex. “Seven calendar days.”
"Eight,” Rex countered.
"Fine, eight days, even though it’s going to cost me. It only took God six to create the world. Any man with half a brain and a set of testicles ought to be able to score in half as many.”
And that my friends is how the tradition started. The rules remained true, right up until Eva arrived.
Good or bad, I'd love to hear what you think so drop me a comment.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
The tag: (from Josephine Damian)
1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.
Various Things MeMe
What were you doing ten years ago?
Ten years ago I had been married for all of seven months. I was twenty five living in the same house I do now. I had just gotten a day job at the Post Office after nearly seven years of evenings. My wife was still working the evening shift at the P.O. at that time and I was not writing then, so I spent most of my free time fishing in the creek by my house. Something I do not get to do nearly often enough these days.
What are five things on your to-do list for today (not in any particular order)?
1. Go to work, where I hope to avoid the bosses and anything to extraneous.
2. Go out to eat for my grandmother's 82nd birthday.
3. Crank out some more Plundered Booty.
4. Catch up on emails and odds and ends of necessary tasks.
5. Get a decent nights sleep since they have been few and far between lately.
What are some snacks you enjoy?
Nuts (except macadamia and walnuts), Sugar Babies, Fun-Yuns, and most anything else sugary or unhealthy
What would you do if you were a billionaire?
Quit work so I could enjoy my family more. Travel. Enter the world series of poker every year. Still chase my goal of publishing my novels, and no I wouldn't buy my way to that goal as I do not think it would be nearly as satisfactory, but I'd go all out in doing my research. Start a radio station in my town and maybe other places that features the Lone Star music kind of sound.
What are five places where you have lived?
I've never crawled far from the crib so I've lived in Amarillo all my life. Actually, I live south of town in the boonies, but my address is still an Amarillo one.
What are five jobs you have had?
Feedstore boy (read those blogs here if you missed them.)
High School Football referee. (Stories here)
Shopping mall Santa (if you're curious)
Fully gruntled Postal worker
Fiction Writer Extraordinaire (yeah, that's pushing it a might but wishful thinking ought to count for something)
What were the last five books you read?
Orange Mint and Honey by Carleen Brice
The Bone Pickers by Al Dewlen
Lonely Planet's travelguide to Jamaica by Michael Read
Pirate Spirit : The Adventures of Anne Bonney by Jeffery Williams
Adventure Guide Cayman Islands by Paris Permenter and John Bigley
The last three are all research for Plundered Booty and that has been the focus of my reading for a while but I urge all of you to read Carleen's fabulous novel
What are five web sites you visit daily (in no particular order)?
Facebook.com, to check my scrabulous games.
Weather.com to know if their is any danger I'll melt or float away later in the day
Huskerpedia.com to keep up on The Cornhuskers athletic program
Nola.com to read the latest news about the Saints
LoneStarMusic.com to listen to the radio and keep on my tunes
From a short story I have been tweaking this week for submission ...
The shimmering heat waves reminded him of the strippers in Vegas. Curvy, arousing to watch -- yet impossible to grab hold of.
and from something I've read this week ...
I am pleased to report that the battery of physicians and psychiatrists who monitor my well-being on a daily basis have at long last declared me fit to proceed with another contest!
That comes from blogging agent Nathan Bransford's announcement that he is doing another contest. Yeah I know I only posted one sentence, but the contest will be so large that I thought I'd cut the Tuesday two sentence rule in half. For rules and details on the contest click here, but you better hurry the deadline is 5 p.M. Pacific Time Wednesday, May, 21st.
And like every Tuesday be sure and visit the W0men of Mystery for more Two Line Tuesday participants.
Monday, May 19, 2008
I'm too lazy to look up Webster's actual definition of a ball, but I think most people would describe a ball as some sort of fancy party. Say you are attending a ball and images of evening gowns and tuxedos and waiters with accents and trays of fancy hors d'oeuvres.
But there are other kind of balls as well. Those that bounce, and are the focal point of sporting endeavors and then there is the kind that hang below bulls, and all other male species.
Homer's Backyard Ball is in fact a giant outdoor party but the ball portion actually refers to that last definition of the word ball - as in testicles.
Eleven years ago a fellow with the last name of Homer happened to have a five gallon barrel full of recently removed calf testicles. In some places these are referred to as Rocky Mountain Oysters but around my neck of the woods they are most commonly referred to as calf fries. Good Ol' Mr. Homer decided to slice the calf fries and fry them up so he invited a bunch of friends over to his backyard. He told them to bring their own booze and lawn chair. The event quickly became tradition and the party outgrew his backyard, but out in a cow pasture a simple boom box didn't quit cut it when it came time to supply the music so a band was invited to play.
In 2000 the event became affiliated with the Make-A Wish foundation that grants last wishes for terminally ill children and it continues to grow every year. There is now a calf fry and BBQ cook off competition that only adds to the party. Early numbers said their was nearly 10,000 attendees at this year's event here in Amarillo. Including, me and my friends.
From here on out this post is mostly pictures with a brief explanation to go along. Click on any image to enlarge.
Yep, That hairy guy with the sexy white legs in me. To my right is my buddy Charlie and those are our wives behind us. Mine, Jennifer in the white and his, Cecelia in the green.
Steve (on the right) and some dude I don't know, compare shirts.
The food is good as you get to sample BBQ and Calf Fries from the cooking teams that entered.
I like this team's name and mission statement.
I have no idea what this means but it was on the side of one team's chuckwagon.
And a member of the Budweiser cooking team models a nearly depleted pan of delicious golden fried testicles
Another highpoint at Homer's is the cutting end fashion that us unlike anything you'll ever find on a runway. Apparently tube tops are making a comeback. Some pull the look of better than others.
And the musical lineup was quite good as well. For those who might think Texas Music is the same kind of country as that stuff Nashville pumps out well you couldn't be more wrong. Texas Country is more folksy with a hint of southern rock. It is a blend of traditional country, rockabilly, and Americana. Think Dylan meshed with Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Bob Wills.
This years linup included, the Chancy Bernson Band, Tommy Gallagher Band, Casey Berry and The Live Texas Mosquitoes, Macon Greyson, The Charlie Shafter Band, Matt Martindale, Rick Trevino, and the headliner and one of my all-time favorites -- Charlie Robison.
All the bands were good but Rick Trevino didn't quite fit in to me. He is more mainstream though he did have a stronger Tejano sound than I thought. He sounded fine but he sang mostly covers of Nashville style country and that isn't my thing.
Here are a few pics of the musical acts. In order are The Charlie Shafter band, Casey Berry, and Matt Martindale. I've also included a snippet video of Charlie Robison singing though the sound quality of my digital camera is rather crappy. The video does give you an idea of the party atmosphere.
And more pics of mostly drunken revelry.
Check Back Here for links to other My Town Monday Posts from other Bloggers
Patti Abbott -- Detroit, Michigan
Debra -- Village of Peninsula, Ohio
Linda McLaughlin -- San Clemente, California
Barry Summy -- Sandiego, California
Lyzzydee -- Welwyn Garden City, England
Clare2E (Women of Mystery) -- Brooklyn, New York
Saturday, May 17, 2008
And in a few hours I am headed top a Texas musical festival and Cook-off that will be the subject of my My Town Monday post this week. The Shiner bock is on ice and the sun screen is packed, and Charlie Robison is headlining. Should be a great time
I'll do my best to get back on track and make the rounds to all of your blogs this week.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Me, Allyson Cole. Age sixteen. Living in the world of endless summers, of going wherever you wanted. And yes, my parents may have worried that I was riding into trouble — but I was young and in love, and growing up was something I had to do….
And This Is Now
Me, again. Allyson Cole. This time, age fifty-one. I have everything I always wanted — almost. I don't have him…and I don't have me. Now's the time to find what I lost. To do that, I have to hit the road, and find the father of my child. And start a journey I never could have anticipated….
The story is chocked full of great characters and I guarantee you'll feel like you are on that journey with Allyson.
Jennifer also has a new story out the collection More than Words Volumn 4 which can be bought here. She is also one of the nicest ladies you can meet and her perpetual smile is enough to brighten any room. so check out either of these titles or any of her others when you get the chance.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
From my novel in progress, Plundered Booty ...
She singed Frank with constant, torching remarks about his massive girth and thick, Oklahoma accent. When she branded him with the nickname, Bub-A-Lard, even Junior adopted the term.
Two Lines I've read.
From fellow blogger, and frequent commenter here at One Word, Carleen Brice's fabulous (I'm nearly finished but not quite) debut novel, Orange Mint and Honey ...
She wanted the big scene. She had been poking and prodding me since I arrived, trying to make me split open so she could put me back together.
Keeping with the Tuesday theme of two, let me apologize to the English duo of Debbie Lou and Lyzzydee for not getting their My Town Monday links posted until this morning. I urge all of ya'll to check out yesterdays post and to visit the England contingent of MTM as well as any of the other links you might have missed yesterday.
Now for two quick stories involving the youngest of my two boys. Z is five.
Yesterday, while eating a hamburger he looks up with sudden enthusiasm and says. "Hey why don't we save some of these sesame seeds and plant them so we can grow our own hamburger tree."
Ahhh ... only it a perfect world would beef grow on trees.
And further proof that the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree.
This weekend while watching me play a hunting video game that ends the game if you accidentally shoot a female deer or elk Z asks, "Dad, how come you can't shoot the girl ones?" Busy trying to play I simply said, "You're just not supposed to." And his reply?
"But don't they have meat inside them too?"
Be sure and visit the Two Sentence Tuesday inventors over at Women Of Mystery.
Monday, May 12, 2008
A month or so back, fellow blogger, Josephine Damian emailed me with a great idea. To do a special My Town Monday week of book reviews where everyone who wanted to participate would post about a book set in their town. I instantly knew which book I would choose ... The Bone Pickers by Al Dewlen.
I'll warn you upfront. This post is going to be a long one, because first I'm going to tell you about the novel and then I'm going to tell you about the history behind the novel which is every bit as interesting as the actual book, a tall order given the the fact that The Bone Pickers was chosen as one of the 50 Best Books about Texas.
Against the flamboyant background of the “Golden Spread,” the oil-rich
Panhandle of the late 1950s, Al Dewlen has poised a full-scale and truly
original novel of one Texas family—the Mungers of Amarillo.
The six Munger siblings are the heirs of hard-drinking, hardscrabble farmer Cecil Munger, who in one generation brought his family from Dust Bowl poverty to unfathomable wealth. Sitting as directors of the several corporations in which their wealth resides, five of the siblings—Spain, Texas, Laska, China, and Bethel—struggle to balance their past with their present, their place in
society, and their obligations to community, to themselves, and to their damaged and dependent brother June, confined to the old homestead.
The above comes directly from the back jacket. As does this bit of blurb taken from W.U. McCoy's introduction included in the most recent edition of the novel.
"... The ambiance and essence of matters uniquely Texan is a
perverse underscore to gripping themes and raw, rending conflicts."
Perhaps the most surprising things about The Bone Pickers, at least for me, was how contemporary it felt and read despite the fact it was first published fifty years ago in 1958. Outside of an odd reference to some bygone bit of culture it is a tale that could be set in today's world. Though the author did use bits of language that were common used in the fifties that are offensive to decent folks these days. Unfortunately, there are still many indecent peopel in this world so the terms live on and in being true to the characters they had to be included in the telling of this story.
I wasn't alive in the fifties, but Mr. Dewlen did an excellent job of painting Amarillo and the surrounding area at least ass far as how I imagine things to have been in that time era. The streets, places, and even attitudes were accurately described. But then again Mr. Dewlen is from the area and at the time he was a local newspaper reporter so one would expect nothing less.
The theme of the novel is Image, though in describing the work, Dewlen acknowledges that word had not into usage when he penned the novel. A quote from the author.
"It struck me that if borne to extremes, this compelling quest for acceptance in other eyes could critically distort, and perhaps even destroy, a life."
The novel itself is funny at times, ironic at its core, and very revealing of the human psyche. The conflicts are predominantly internal, but masterfully presented. The book could be described as slow-paced, in areas, but a reader with patience will be rewarded as every last detail bears fruit somewhere down the line. To give you a taste of the style I'm going to highlight an example of the actual writing that deals with the city of Amarillo since this post is a part of My Town Mondays.
For the Panhandle, more modernly spoken of as "The Golden Spread," 1956 became the seventh year of drouth. Except for one savage blizzard, it had arrived ash dry, and it continued that way. At the heart of the Spread, Amarillo sat at thirty-six hundred feet high, smoking the inflated cigars of incongruous record-breaking prosperity and boasting how it now had fifty-five known millionaires. Drouth could not touch oil and gas. Only a minority of credit-exhausted sodbusters actually suffered. These watched their fields chap and split as their seed blew away; they took blow torched to yellowing prickly pear, burning off the spears so the stock might survive a bit longer. To them, Amarillo's two-eighty-four-a-barrel boom seemed like sin.
$2.84 a barrel oil might sound like paradise by today's standards but little has changed outside of the math.
And one more sample with a bit of dialogue in it.
"Aw dammit, Snake," Papa said the day Spain had the fight at school," what's it gittin' you settin' so thin-skinned all the time? Where yu' think I'd be I ask you, was I always keeping my feelin's on my sleeve? Look at me back there in'17. Three-quarters German an' a quarter English, at a time like that! What you think people said to me? Did I ever have me a fight? Hell, no! Before they could start on me, I said, 'The Kaiser is a sonofabitch,' and then I'd say, ' Them German kin of mine, they rig up the goddamn wars, an' then my limey cousins, they come along behind scavenging up,' and then I tole them, ' Me, I'm a Panhandle Texan, an' I'm raising the beef to feed our Texas boys who'll whip the hell out of one side or both of 'em, whichever needs it!" After which as Spain recalled, papa got up off the couch and took him to the kitchen, to play poker a little while for the ten days' wages owing because Spain had been grubbing mesquite.
I highly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys the inner ticking of humanity. The novel felt so real at times that I almost felt like a peeping-tom peering in at the lives of my neighbors. If I had any neighbors worth upwards of two hundred million that is. But there very well may be a reason why it read so real.
Now, as promised, the story behind the novel.
The Bone Pickers first was released by McGraw-Hill in 1958. That much I can tell you is fact. I have heard two different rumors about what happened next and try as I might I have not substantiated either in my research so I am going to lay both out here. I have hopes that someone who reads this blog and was living during that time can shed some light on the facts.
There is and was a prominent family of Amarillo millionaires who achieved their family fortune from oil after years of struggling to make it as ranchers. So the story goes many of the elements in The Bone Pickers closely mirrored this family's actual history. Everyone I've talked to seems to agree on that. It was how this family reacted to such a close inspection of their past that differs.
Story 1 says the family tracked down and bought nearly every copy of the original novel to stop it from becoming widely read especially in and around the Texas Panhandle. To me there are a lot of holes in this explanation given the things I do know are facts.
Story 2 seems more plausible to me and it is the one I've heard repeated more often. It says that upon The Bone Picker's release the family sued the author and publisher. Demanding certain scenes, dates, and names be changed. Rumor has they reached a settlement that included the promise no more copies would be printed (which might have been when the family bought the remaining copies) and that after a few changes were made the altered book would be released under a new name. A paperback version of a similar story titled The Golden Touch came out in 1959. I tried to find a copy of that book in time to compare but failed.
In 2002 Texas Tech University Press rereleased what is supposedly the original story with the original name, The Bone Pickers. This is the only version I've read, and even it was a bit difficult to procure. I went to Hasting Bookstore where I buy the majority of my reading material. Hastings is a national chain but they are based out of Amarillo. When I asked about order a copy of The Bone Pickers the clerk told me he could but it would have to be shipped directly from the published to my house as it was a title they were not allowed to order for arrival at their store. i've ordered a lot of books from tiny publishers up to the big New York houses and never before have I been told I couldn't pick it up in the store.
The harbinger of political fallout from a novel first published fifty years ago? The pressure of local wealth to take care of one another? Or just a strange coincidence? Who knows, but this is a novel that deserves to be read and I encourage you to do so.
Links to Other My Town Monday Posts
Josephine Damian -- Part 1 of her post about New Rochelle, New York and Ragtime author E.L. Doctorow. *******And part duece.********
The Anti-Wife -- Seattle, Washington
Patti Abbott -- Review of The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Euginides a novel set in Detroit, Michigan
Clare2E (Women of Msytery) -- Rye, New York
WordVixen -- Lititz,Pennsylvania
Clair Dickson -- Livingston county, Michigan
Lyzzydee -- Welwyn Garden City, England
Debbie Lou -- Bishops Stortford, England
Thursday, May 8, 2008
We all know that scavenger that goes to the city dump and come home with more than he took. Or eagerly grabs that scrap of grisly fat from you dinner plate before you can scrape it off into the trash. He creed is ... "I'd hate to see that go to waste."
But let's move out of the concrete and into the abstract. Is there any difference between rescuing a bright orange, slightly frayed couch from the curb,
and defending a painting that your friend just said was hideous. Or using two cinder blocks and a one-by-ten plank for a bookshelf down in your basement bedroom, all the while answering your dad's screaming to turn off that damn racket with a yell of your own that, "Metallica is sweet music, not racket."
Maybe you think The Simpsons is the funniest show to ever air, but your sister says anybody who watched that vulgar filth is an imbecile. One man's treasure, another's trash.
As a writer I tend to use certain words more than others. They are in my treasure trove so to speak. The more common of these I have to be careful not to overuse so that they become echos. There are other words I tend to avoid. I could list them here but then I wouldn't be avoiding them would I. Actually i don't make a concerted effort not to use any particular word. I am always looking for the best possible word to make my meaning clear. Even if that word might offend. Which leads me to today's story.
Once Upon A Time, in a land not so far away I was in a critique group. There were six talented writers in the group. I was the lone male and the youngest by a good many years. A number of these fair maidens took offense one weak at the language I used in telling a scene involving a drunk and drug-addled man's attempt to beat and rape his ex-wife. They said female readers would cringe at the words I used. I explained that I wasn't shooting for good time and joy in that particular scene. I wanted to reader to feel the sting, the anger the resentment. To me the antagonist slapping an innocent women while saying "Golly darn. you make me mad." simply didn't ring true. Soon the discussion manifested around the F word. Fuck for those who like things spelled out. Sure it is a crass vulgar word, but if you are writing a crass vulgar character it is only natural they would utter it a few times in the book. But I didn't press. I listened while they told me to take it out so I wouldn't offend readers, agents, or editors.
But the very next week a new fair maiden visited out group on a trial basis. She whipped out a six page short story and commenced to reading. If I remember right the first F-bomb landed in the second or third sentence. Soon the sky was filled with with more dirty bombs than a hidden bunker in South Korea. With each one I bit my lip a bit harder to keep from laughing out loud. I looked to my easily offended crit partners and could see their jaws tighten. I literally had tears spilling out of my eyes before the story was finished. I felt bad thinking our visitor would assume I was laughing at her or her writing when i was not. the story was actually quite good and since it was written entirely from a brazen teenage girl who went to great length to shock those around her and to be the focus of every one's attention the language seemed appropriate to me.
The rest of the group didn't see it that way. And for whatever reason i found it easier to argue on behalf of this other writer's work who at that point I didn't know than I had my own work the week before. I'm not proud of the fact but for the next forty-minutes I argued with two senior citizens about the word Fuck.
I'm not saying that particular word is something to treasure. They were right in saying it was overused, but the meat of their argument centered around that including that type of language would kill any chance of getting published. That assertion was an is absurd, unless you are writing for an audience that like those ladies is easily offended by such vocabulary. Christian, Children's, Historical romance. For those genres the inclusion of that kind of language would land you in the trash heap, but write an action story with marines fighting for their life in Afghanistan, or novel about the culture of street racers, or a modern day pirate tale about sleazy car dealers in Oklahoma and one man's dream to visit the Caribbean and a bit of seedy lingo is bound to creep in. Especially, if that story is called Plundered Booty. I can only hope someone will think it's a treasure.
All of the above came to me after reading today's post by Debbie Elliott-Upton who blogs every Thursday over at Criminal Brief. Another commenter used the words stimulus package in his reply. Now this is a term that has been thrown around a lot lately in the media and never before had it struck me so, but today it seemed vulgar in a, "Hey baby, I got your stimulus package right here!" kind of way. That got me to wondering if anyone else has ever snickered when Bill O'Reilly or Katie Couric says, "President Bush's new stimulus package is slated to be deposited starting this Friday."
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
From The Bone Pickers by Al Dewlen
Under this regulated allowable, arrived at through the system of advanced purchaser nominations and in light of such known factors as pipeline, transport, storage, and refinery capacities, the oil market has become constant. price is whatever the industry wished it to be.
That comes from the novel I plan to due an entire post on for next weeks My Town Monday book review of a novel set in Amarillo. By the way it was written in 1958 and set in'56, but I think that passage is still applicable in today's market.
And from Plundered Booty ...
Yep, I ransomed away my Caribbean dreams for sex. I'm not proud of that fact, and I could claim I was just putting them off for a bit, but the fact is, I'd been delaying them all my life.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Today I'm widening the scope of My Town Monday and going to tell you a bit about the entire Texas Panhandle. The Texas Panhandle is comprised of the 26 northern most counties of Texas.
Amarillo sits just about smack dab in the middle of that red area, and it is by far the largest city in the area. In many ways the Panhandle is the stepchild of Texas. According to numbers from the 200 census the population of the area was 405,862 residents, a mere 1.9% of the Texas population. And these numbers are spread out over nearly 26,ooo square miles, and while that is only 10% of the the land in Texas, The Panhandle is larger in size than ten entire states. (Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Maryland, and West Virginia)
Actually, because of wording in the treaty between the Republic of Texas and the United States, Texas could divide itself into as many as four states, one of which would be the Texas Panhandle. And in 1915 a bill was introduced into the Texas legislature to have the Panhandle become it's own state. The proposed name was Jefferson, but the bill never came to fruition.
Here is another odd fact that I doubt many other places can claim. Amarillo is closer to five other state's capitals, than it is it's own in Austin. Also it is a shorter drive for me to visit cities such as, Salt Lake City, Utah, Des Moines, Iowa, Natchez, Mississippi, and St Louis Missouri, that it is to visit Brownsville, Texas.
Agriculture, especially ranching and Oil and Natural Gas proved the economic base. The area is prone to high winds year round and with only 21 inches of rain on average is considered semi-arid. We usually get at least a few snowstorms each winter and occasionally we get dumped on by several feet. But don't worry we still get hot in the summer. A few years back every day but one in August broke the 100 degree Fahrenheit mark.
So I plan to give a bit of history beyond Amarillo so I thought maybe it would be a good idea to highlight the region I plan to discuss.
Links to My Fellow My Town Monday Marauders
Josephine Damian -- Tarrytown, New York
Debra -- Village of Peninsula, Ohio
Lyzzydee -- Panshanger Airfield, England
Linda Mclaughlin -- Orange County, California
Patti Abbott -- Bath, Michigan
WordVixen -- Lititz, Pennsylvania
Barrie Summy -- San Diego, California
Clair Dickson -- Livingston County, Michigan
Nan Higginson (Women Of Mystery) -- Colorado Springs, Colorado
DebbieLou -- Bishop Stortford, England