Friday, February 29, 2008

He Shoots! He Scores! okay, maybe not

I like hockey. That may seem strange being that Texas is known more for it's fragrant cattle feedlots, oil derricks, and cowboy boots than for ice, pucks and razor sharp skates. But we even have an NHL team here. The mighty Dallas Stars. (take that Grace) And between the minor leagues Texas has more professional hockey teams within its boundary than any other state in the U.S.. Here in Amarillo we have the Amarillo Gorillas who play in the CHL. I want this shirt. Feel free to buy it for me. I wear an XXL and prefer black. My wife reads this blog, so maybe she'll take a hint. Though it might go against some cosmic law to spend money earned as a Catholic school teacher on such. Back to the subject at hand.

But right now I'm not thinking about ice. I'm doing a bit of that looking back I talked about a few days ago. I'm thinking about concrete and wheels, ramshackle boards and dust covered rinks, late nights and buckets of sweat. Hot nights and foul smelling hockey bags. I'm thinking about my days of roller hockey. I miss it.

Once upon a time I coached a roller hockey team, and I'm right proud to say we were good. Dang good. I also played in an adult. I was bad. Dang bad.

But I did lead one stat every season. Penalty minutes. And unofficially, no one took as short of shifts as I did, but no one tracks stats on whose the most out of shape.

Our rink was basically a giant carport. We had a tin metal roof and steel beams to hold it up but the structure had no sides so before every game we would all grab brooms to sweep off the dirt that had blown in, otherwise the concrete was too slick and I didn't need any help busting my ass.

I nearly always played defense. As the biggest guy in the league my job was to agitate, and keep the area in front of my goal clear. On occasion if we were behind I'd be dispatched to the other end of the rink where I would park in front of their goalie and screen him. Of course, they would try to move me.

I miss the flying elbows. The sweat stinging my eyes. The muttered curses ... "Move your fat ass." "Get off me." "Shit, you're big."

The very first game I ever played was against a team of Air Force guys who came over from Cannon Air Base over in Clovis, New Mexico. I could skate but I hadn't quite mastered the art of stopping. Not thirty seconds after hoping over the boards I skated hard for a loose puck. As did the other teams fastest player.

I had ten feet to go.
He had twenty.
We go there at the same time.

To tell the truth I would have lost the game of chicken and stopped but I didn't know how. We both crashed to the concrete floor but he got up with a face covered in blood. Being shorter than me his nose had smashed against my chest. No penalty was called but I became a marked man every time we played that team. Yes, I even miss their slashes, hooks, and cross checks.

I miss being called a big hairy goon. I miss sliding my hands into the damp sweaty gloves just before leaping over the boards. I miss the solid feel of a hockey stick in my grip.

I miss dropping to the concrete. I miss the thud of a blocked puck thumping against me. I miss comparing bruises as we undressed after each game.

Sadly I didn't skate off the rink the last time I played.

It was a playoff game. Second round. Just before half. We were up by two when I skated back behind the goal and cleared the puck from our zone. Some fired it back into our corner and as I turned ...

Countless times I'd been slashed, mashed against the boards, tripped, crosschecked, hooked, punched, knocked down, and battered. Without any serious injury.

... my ankle folded. In half. Sideways.

I crawled off thinking it wasn't too bad. Until I unlaced my skate. The damage? Two broken bones. The ligaments and tendons in my ankle torn. One surgery, one metal plate, four screws, and nine months on crutches. (The entire time my wife was pregnant with our youngest.)

But damn, do I miss it.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tastes Like Chicken

Wordvixen tagged me with this.

A six word memoir, inspired by Hemingway, who once bet ten dollars that he could sum up his life in six words. He came up with: For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Here are the meme rules:
1. Write your own six word memoir.
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.
3. Link to the person who tagged you in your post and to this original post, if possible, so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere.
4. Tag five more blogs with links.
5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

SO without further ado, mine ...

Carnivore bites into life, savors meatiness.

Thanks to Ello, I know have an image as well.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fair to Middlin'

This post is inspired by Stacy's over at Welcome To The Confessional.

At the age of 5 ... I couldn't wait to start kindergarten. To learn to read, to write. I was eager to embark on an exciting journey.

At 15 ... I knew everything and therefore was sick of the journey, sick of my teachers, and sick of of being sick of all the sick-minded adults that kept trying to tell me how little I knew.

At 25 ... I was a lot dumber than I was at 15. Who knows where that knowledge went but as life came at me I realized just how dumb I was.

At 35 ... I'm still trying get back even half of that knowledge I possessed at 15, but I've only been 35 for a few months so there is hope for me yet.

Am I middle-aged at 35? I kind of hope not. At least in the technical sense. (If you define middle age as the midpoint of your life) Yeah I would like to live past 70, long as I can do it without donning depends and lamenting the days when I actually had teeth and could chew my steak instead of being served pureed sirloins in paper cup. But 70 doesn't seem near as old to me as it once did.

You know what I think middle-aged is? I think that is the point when you stop looking ahead and fixate on the past. If you start dang near every sentence with one of these ...

Back in the day ...
I remember when ...
When I was your age ...
Before I needed Viagra ...

... you are living in the past.

Sure it is nice to reminisce every once in a while, but look backward too long and often and you won't see the hand about to smack you in the face.

So I am hereby striking off the term middle-aged. Now here is y'alls assignment. Come up with a new term for those whose years might be half over, but who feel like their life is only going to get better in the coming decades. Sure, Nurse Ratchett is looming in the future, ready to force feed me smashed peas, but that is forty or fifty years down the road. I'm not going to dwell on or fear the day I check into the nursing home. I'm going to have as much fun as I can so that when they open my casket for viewers some one will say,"Man he looks like shit," only to hear in reply. "Yeah, but he earned the right, because back in the day ... "

Monday, February 25, 2008

Duck You, Cowboy! My Town Monday

Put on your boots. For this week's edition of My Town Monday, we're stepping back in time to the Old West.

As Design Goddess pointed out in the comments of last weeks, My Town Monday, Amarillo is the Spanish word for yellow, so named for the bright yellow wildflowers that grew along a natural creek and lake that ran along the original town site. Ah-mah-REE-yoh is the correct Spanish pronunciation, but around here it is pronounced Am-ah-RILL-oh, or Am-ah-RILL-uh.

But Amarillo wasn't the original town name. Oneida was, and even though today, Amarillo is the largest city and economic center of the Texas Panhandle, Western New Mexico, Oklahoma Panhandle, and Southwestern Kansas, that wasn't always the case.

The original town wasn't even staked out until Spring of 1887. Soon after, the railroad chose a path through Amarillo and the town quickly became a major cattle shipping center and started an agriculture economy which is still strong to this day.

But before that, Tascosa was the bustling community in these parts. Tascosa was a rough and tumble town and along with Dodge City, Kansas the site of a famous "BootHill" cemetery. So named, because most of it's perpetual residents were men who died violent deaths with their boots on. And the story behind Tascosa's first boothill resident (planted sometime in 1880) is quite interesting.

Sheriff Cape Willingham was inside The Equity Bar, just one of Tascosa'a drinking establishments when he heard a woman screaming outside. Women were few and far between in town and reputable gals even scarcer so when he rushed out to find one of the virtuous screaming something about a duck, he sought to straighten out the chaos.

"He shot my duck!" The woman screamed and pointed first at the headless duck at her feet, and then at a man across the dirt street.

The sheriff looked over at the accused, Fred Leigh. The man was the foreman of a the nearby LS Ranch, but he was also a known drunkard who'd been warned before about carrying a firearm while in town.

The lawman calmed the woman by telling her he'd make sure the man paid restitution, and armed with a sawed-off double barrel shotgun approached the shooter.

"Fred, did you shoot that woman's duck?"
The cowboy spit into the dusty street. "Not until it spooked my horse."
"You'll be paying the woman fair market price."
"Hell if I will. I ain't paying for no duck."
"I'm the sheriff and I --"

In that instant Fred reached for his six shooter and the sheriff unleashed two barrels worth of buckshot straight into the cowboy's torso. Tumbling out of the saddle Fred hit the dirt dead as ... well, dead as a duck.

So the Fred Leigh became the first grave in Tascosa's boothill, and he gave his life because a duck had frightened his horse.

By 1930, a flood and the lack of rail service had left Tascosa a ghost town, but the place was later resurrected as a refuge for troubled boys. Cal Farley's Boys Ranch still inhabits the original site of Tascosa and has provided care for thousands of young men and women, and if you listen carefully, on a still quiet night ...

You just might hear the faint whispering of a duck quacking and a cowboy cursing.

As usual, I will post links below for all who participate, so drop me a comments once you get your entry up.

Sex Scenes At Starbucks -- Is there a better blog name out there? Find out about life in the Colorado high country.

Alex Keto -- My Town Monday's resident globetrotter takes on Manhattan.

Terrie Farley Moran - Terrie offers a nostalgic look at New York City over at the Women of Mystery blog.

Barrie Summy -- A spooky look at San Diego, California.

Stephen Parrish -- Bad Kreuznach, Germany. Now that is some town name and after reading Stephen's first post I'm already to hop on a plane and pay the spa town a visit.

DebbieLou -- Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshsire England. Sounds like she has plenty of history to draw on for future posts.

Carleen Brice -- A look at independent book store in Denver on the eve of her book signing.

Pattinase -- A sad lament about the loss of her local Detroit newspapers viability.

Polka Dot Witch -- This week's edition delves deeper into the history of Castleton-on-Hudson, New York with a look at the original inhabitants, The Mohicans.

Britta Coleman -- Shares with us how down to earth life in Texas is, even in a big city like Fort Worth.

WordVixen -- Another look at Lancaster, Pennsylvania that will leave you hungry for more.

Lyzzydee -- We welcome another newcomer to My Town Monday's with an introduction to Welwyn Garden City, England.

Alex Keto -- Yep, he's back. Alex appears to be an overachiever when it comes to taking about towns so here is an explosive post about Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Not A Real Post

My wife tells me my blog has been boring lately. Not funny enough. She's probably right. She usually is. But most of my funny bone has been directed to writing Plundered Booty and for whatever reason I've been compelled to blog about writing more.

She also thinks the My Town Monday idea is goofy, but I like it and once again I'm going to cheat and post my later this evening. That way I can concentrate on linking up to the rest of you who join in. So drop me a line in the comments if you do post on your town -- past or present.

Yeah, I know this post is funny either, but it's not really a post so much as a subliminal message and advertisement for My Town Monday. Oh, it might also me a shameless attempt to gather support and prove to my wife that my recent informational posts haven't chased away all my readers.

************** An Addition *************

Now this email made me laugh when a friend sent it to me. Who knows the real story behind this or if it is even a genuine photo, but either way funny.


A city councilman in Utah , Mark Easton, had a beautiful view of the mountains until a neighbor purchased a lot below his house and built a new home. The new home was 18 inches higher than the ordinances would allow, so Mark Easton, mad about his lost view, went to the city to make sure they enforced the lower roof line ordinance. The new neighbor had to drop the roof line, at great expense.Recently, Mark Easton called the city, and informed them that his new neighbor had installed some vents on the side of his home. Mark didn't like the look of these vents and asked the city to investigate. When they went to Mark's home to see the vent view, this is what they found...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Where is Jack Handy when you need him?

Yesterday, blog friend Melissa Marsh posted a question, Why do men spit?

Of course, I felt obligated to answer.

This isn't the first time I've felt duty bound to speak on behalf of my gender because for whatever reason it seems that women out number men in most writing circles. A quick count of my writing related blog roll says five of the forty one bloggers are male. That ratio is not all that different from the ones I see at the writing conferences I've attended. My friend Debbie, who has taught many a writing class, has told me she got excited anytime a male sounding name appeared on her class roster, because that meant a different perspective in the upcoming class. But she says more often than not her excitement was for naught since the student turned out to be a woman named Frankie.

All this begs the question, Why?

Are women that much more imaginative? And creative? Maybe but I don't think that is the true answer.

Do they have more time to write and pursue publication? Hardly, since most of the ones I know work, raise children, run households and do all the other things necessary to be a functioning member of society. Actually most women seem to perform far more daily takes than their husbands.

So what is the answer? I'm sure there are many factors but I have a theory.

Women have more courage than most of my male counterparts. They are more willing to stick their necks out, expose their dreams to scrutiny, and face rejection.

I have been writing seriously for seven years. in that time I have seen many a talented male writer wash out and give up too soon. Sure I know women that do the same but not nearly as many. But I give those fellows credit for at least trying. I know others that say things like, One of these days I'm going to write a novel." Or "I have lots of greats plot ideas." And of course, "One of these days when I have time."

Well, I tend to agree with the old saying, "If ands and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas."

So on that note, I say to all male and female. If there is something you want to do jump in and go for it. Fear is a mighty poor substitute for a dream.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What a View

Let me start by saying thanks to all who jumped in on My Town Mondays. I am more than pleased at both the quantity and quality of posts. I encpourage all of you to go through the links in the previous post and read about the various places and topics. I hope even more of you dive in this week.


I took the above shot of a mule deer doe just down from my house

So what is on my mind today?

POV, or point of view for those of you who are not writers.

We make a lot of choices when it comes to our writing. Most of us have multiple ideas in our heads, but we must choose that one idea to run with. Then we must pick where to set the story. Where to begin -- where to end, because as writers we no far more than the slice of story that make sit onto the page. Or at least we should.

I'll bet anything that Janet Evanovich can tell you plenty of things about Stephanie Plum's childhood that has never been mentioned in her novels. Or that Harper Lee knows what Scout grew up to become. (Lord knows she's had plenty of time to think about it, but that is another post for another day)

But of all those choices. POV is the most important. Through whose eyes, is your reader going to look? Imagine Evanovich's novels if Lulu were the POV character. Or Ranger. Totally different books. And would To Kill A Mockingbird be a classic if Boo Radley had been Ms. Lee's vehicle to describe the town. or Scout's father? No, that story worked so well because we looked at racism through the filtered view of a child.

And POV is just as important when writing third person. Look at this picture I took of a recent building being torn down.

Imagine this is the backdrop for a scene in one of your stories. You have four different potential POV characters. A young boy of eight, an elderly woman in her sixties, her man in his mid thirties, and a girl in her early twenties.

Let's hit the surface stuff first. The young boy will think it's neat as will the man in his thirties though his excitment will be a bit more subdued. The older woman may feel nostalgic if she knew the building had any dealings there and the young girl might just be indifferent.

But let's up the ante. This building used to be a department store(true story). Let's say the elderly met her husband there back in the early sixties while working in men's fashion. If she were the POV of this scene it would feel sad, nostalgic. Unless, her hubby went on to cheat and divorce her for a girl twenty years his junior. So then when this elderly woman went in to the coffee store nearby she was rude and belligerent to the young girl behind the counter because of her jilted memories the sight of the old building stirred.

Let's change and say we are in the young girl's POV. There she is minding her own business at work when some old lady comes in and starts griping at her for no reason. Deciding she's had enough the girl quits on the spot and walks out. She pays little attention to the building being torn down nearby until she notices the film of dust on her brand new car. Cursing the construction crew she races out of the parking lot mad and distracted because she's just quit her job and now she won't be able to make her car payment. What she need is some tunes, so she reaches for a CD in the passenger floorboard.

Cut to the young boy. He's standing just off the curb. His mouth is open as he watches the big ball swing into the steel and concrete. His smiles increases with each puff of dust as pieces of the building rain down. He never sees the car swerve toward him.

Jump over to the the man in his thirties. He's waiting for the bed of his dumptruck to be filled so he can drive off and dispose of the rubble. Occasionally he glances in his rearview mirror to gage progress but the novelty of demolition has long since worn off . Unlike the young boy he sees over near the sidewalk. The man watches the boy for a few seconds but his real focus is on his vacation which starts in six hours. Man is he itching to sit down at the poker tables. This time when he boards the plane to fly home from Vegas he's going to have money left in his pocket. All those hours of watching Texas Hold'em on TV will be worth it. Maybe that will get his wife off his ass. He could take out the garbage anytime, but learning the ins and outs of poker, that will pay dividends once he got to Vegas.

In a novel you could use these each of these to build upon the other and to increase suspense. The trick would be to order them in a way that builds reader interst and to choose which character needs to reveal which pertinent facts.

But what if you are writing a short story and you can only use one POV to tell the story of how the boy happened to get run over?

The elderly lady is still in the coffee shop smugly drinking her latte after chasing the young girl away. She doesn't even know the boy has ben hit and the boy's POV really wouldn't add anything but the facts to the story. That leaves the man and the young girl, but again the man adds nothing except maybe his daydreams, and unless the boy getting ran over somehow ruins his vacation there's not much story there. So in this case the best POV would be the girl and through the use of dialogue and character interaction we could reveal nearly every bit of the facts I stated above. Maybe the reader will not know the exact motivation behind the older woman's belligerance but done the right way they will have an idea, and the guy in the dumptruck's daydreams could be brought out. Maybe he and the girl talk at the hospital or something.

My point is that in choosing the right POV the author can fully show the complete story. But sometimes you don't want the reader to know everything. In that case choose the POV that only knows what you are willing to let the reader in on.

Artful use of POV will make your story come alive, add the needed suspense, and engange your reader so think about the view you want to give your reader. It just might be the most important factor in fiction.

Thoughts on the subject?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Town Monday - The Launch

Okay, it's Sunday, not Monday but this being the first week I thought I'd get a jump in order to see how many bloggers we can get on board.

Here's the deal for the foreseeable future I'm going to blog each and every Monday about my town -- Amarillo, Texas. And maybe even the surrounding area. I hope many of you will do the same. I know I am always curious about other people and places and I think this will be a good way for us all to learn about other cities, towns, states, and countries in an entertaining and personable way.

The way I see it the topics are endless. The history, famous citizens, the economy, the political climate, the human interest stories. I also would love to read why you chose to live there, or why you stay. The things you like and dislike about your community. The best places to eat, have a beer and why those establishments are your favorites. Make 'em funny, make 'em sad, make 'em up if you have to, but reveal what it is about your town that makes it unique.

And leave a comment telling me you've participated and I'll add a link to this post. I'm shooting for at least ten other bloggers to jump in this week so spread the word. My eventual goal is to have at least one blogger in each state and as many foreign countries as we can, but if you live in Timbuktu and some other blogger from Timbuktu is already on board jump in anyway. We all view the world through different eyes and therefore our perspectives are different, so I'd love to hear them all.

Okay,I've rambled long enough about my plans now to the first installment.

There is not going to be any rhyme or reason to these posts. they will follow no chronological order or anything and while I considered starting with the history and story behind the settling of Amarillo I instead chose something much more recent.

Do you know this man? Surely you do. Dr. Phil. No he is not from Amarillo. Now I guess that there are a good many people out in the world besides Oprah who like this man. There has to be. After all, he has his own television show, best selling books and who knows what else. He is by all accounts a successful man.

And he grates on my last nerve. Just the sound of his voice is enough to irk me. I'd rather eat an entire bowl of lettuce than listen to him spot advice and those who frequent my blog know that I am a devout carnivore.

So it is with great shame that I confess, the world might not have ever heard of Dr. Phil if not for my fair city of Amarillo. And here is why ...

Sometime in the mid 90's Oprah had a show about the dangers of America's food supply. Upon hearing about Mad Cow disease she said something to the affect she would never eat beef again.

The next day cattle prices dropped and continues to spiral downward for a while. The Texas Cattle Feeders Association which is based here in Amarillo decided to sue Oprah for slandering the beef industry. (In the comments, Carol pointed out that it wasn't the Texas Cattle Feeders but a group put together by a local feedyard owner that filed suit. A quick bit of research says she is right while I was wrong. See I already learned something from this myself.) I doubt even they believed they'd win the lawsuit but at the very least they would get a very public trial to spread the word that beef is as safe or safer than any other food source. The trial was scheduled to take place here in Amarillo and for six weeks or so Oprah did her television show from her in town. It was during this time she first took up with Dr. Phil. He was her spiritual and psychological adviser for the trial. She credited his coaching and calming influence for helping her prevail and shortly after that he began appearing on her show.

As a side note, every once in a while you still see an old pickup truck with a bumper sticker popular from that time. OPRAH IS THE ONLY MAD COW IN TEXAS

But to be fair Oprah had a positive impact on the economy and she shed a very positive light on the town on her show. She even made a point o eat a steak or two while she was here.

Next week, I'll get into the history of Amarillo and reason it has turned out to be the economic capital of the area. Don't worry, my post won't be as dry as it sounds.

Come on gang. Tell me a story about your town. Or visit these bloggers to learn something about their neck of the woods.

Wordvixen -- Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Pattinase -- Detroit, Michigan

Suv Mama -- Everywhere, almost. Go along for the ride as she heads for Washington.

Lana Gramlich -- Abita Springs, Louisiana

Merry Monteleone -- Cicero, Illinois

Polka Dot Witch -- Castleton-on Hudson, New York

Patti-O -- San Angelo, Texas -- Now we Texans have the rest of you outnumbered.

Carleen Brice -- Denver, Colorado

Sarai -- Kansas City, Kansas

Alex Keto -- West Berlin, Germany -- Read this post. Alex is a former journalsit who has mnay great posts ona variety of topics with Kenya nbeing the most common, but this guy constantly enlightens me.

Britta Coleman -- Fort Worth, Texas -- Three Texans! We are whooping the rest of y'all rather handily.

By the way thanks to all who have participated this week. I reached my goal of ten already, but if anyone else posts or I've missed anyone, please let me know. The more the merrier. Next week I'm shooting for fifteen so I hope all of you post again. I have already learned a good many things and I hope y'all have as well. I probably will not post again until Wednesday night or Thursday morning so there is still plenty of time to add your link to the others. Just drop me a line in the comments to let me know if you do.

Friday, February 15, 2008

a subLIME idea

Hope all of you had a fun and exciting Valentine's yesterday. My wife and I drove by a local jewelry store yesterday right at five o'clock and the lot was full. Of the thirty or so vehicles parked out front, only a handful were not pickups. Why are we guys so inept at planning ahead? The good news is that most of us are now safe until Mother's Day. Of course, if your wife's birthday or your wedding anniversary falls between now and May you better remember, so pull out you calender and check those dates. No scratch that. If you are a guy there's a good chance nothing is circled or written on your calender.

Peeve Alert! Why can't restaurants like Applebees, Chili's, and TGI Friday's list their drink prices on the menu? Sure they'll gladly list a buck eighty nine for a glass of tea, but the powers that be feel it necessary to hide the price of a margarita. Of course you can't just order a margarita. The over-chipper, bad-joke-telling, laugh-at-anything-you-say- even-when it's-not-funny wait staff at these places always say things like. "You want the hubba-dubba bounce-you-on-your-bubba margarita, or our megatron maxi-rita? "

Make me want to scream, "Just pour some Triple Sec over ice, throw in some tequila and squeeze a line over it!" Hell, they could bring me the lime and I'd do that part myself. Nothing I like better than to abuse fruits and vegetables. Especially green ones, though limes aren't all bad since they go well with grilled meat and a variety of booze. Matter of fact i declare Limes the greatest of all green fruits and vegetables ALL HAIL the mighty LIME!
Can y'all tell I'm in a cantankerous mood today?

Actually I'm feeling quite good. The writing is going well, albeit slower than I wish, but what else is new. Springtime and the start of fishing season isn't all that far off, though it is cold and windy today. I can breath out of both nostrils. Yeah, that sounds weird but have clear nasal passages is one of those things you take for granted until one or both is plugged up like a three-year-old after a cheeze-whiz binge.

Okay, enough of my rambling. Now an idea. I want to start a new blog phenomenon. You know along the lines of Thursday Thirteen, Wordless Wednesday, Tuesday Confessional and a variety of other weekly features that multiple blogger do. I want to start My Town Monday's.

I'm always curious about my fellow bloggers and how the places they come from. I have a million questions and this seems like an easy way for all of us to get to know each other and learn something in the process. The topics should be endless. From Why you moved there? Work, family, climate, or maybe like me you never crawled far from the crib. Then there is why you stay. Why you don't. The history of how your town was settled. Other notable events. You can attach pictures of unique things and places. Who knows I might visit your town, and be in need of a great place to eat. Everyplace, I don't care how small, has something interesting about it. So let's hear it. Who's on board? I plan to start Monday and if you let me know ahead of time, I'll provide a link so others can check out the ring of bloggers participating in My Town Mondays.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Book, Kids, and a Funny

For a couple of my blogging buddies, their One Day arrived earlier this week. Therese Fowler's novel Souvenir and Carleen Brice's novel Orange Mint and Honey both came out yesterday. I haven't picked up either book yet, but I will soon and you should too. Support debut authors. Often times their books are better than the latest offering by a perennial best seller. Why? Because lots of times they've had years to perfect and craft the story instead of worrying about cranking out another one.

"[An] accomplished debut...Brice's straightforward prose is dead-on in describing the challenges Shay and her mother face as they reconnect." ~ Publisher's Weekly

"Carleen Brice's Orange Mint and Honey, a new novel about real mama drama, will have you hooked from page one. Taking on the fabled mother-daughter bond, the Denver author confidently strides onto terrain many lesser writers have tripped over--with winning results." ~ Essence magazine

"Souvenir is an unforgettable story, a searing yet redemptive drama that illuminates the possibility of second chances, the naive choices of youth, the tensions within families, and the transforming power of love." ~Random House

“A captivating and heartrending novel of lost love, family secrets and betrayal from a major new talent. Do, for love, what you would not do...” ~HarperCollins UK

"Truly impossible to put down." ~Booklist

A lot of y'all are avid readers always in search of a good book. So the next time you're at your local bookstore pick these up. Or shop from the comfort of your home and order them through Amazon by clicking the links above.


Through the ages fathers have tried to get their kids to eat things on their plate by saying, "Go ahead. It'll put hair on your chest."

I'm no different, so the other night I tell my two boys, "Eat your steak. It'll put hair on your chest."

The five-year-old chimes in, "Like you Dad?"

I nod.

"Oooh, gross," said the seven-year-old as he pushed his plate away.


And a joke my wife sent me via email ...

A minister was completing a temperance sermon.
With great emphasis he said,"If I had all
the beer in the world, I'd take it and pour
it into the river."

With even greater emphasis he said, "And if I
had all the wine in the world, I'd take it and
pour it into the river."

And then finally, shaking his fist in the air,
he said, "And if I had all the whiskey in the
world, I'd take it and pour itinto the river."

Sermon complete, he sat down.

The song leader stood very cautiously and
announced with a smile, nearly laughing,
"For our closing song, let us sing Hymn #365,
"Shall We Gather at the River."

Meet y'all at the river.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Juan Valdez Ain't Gonna Like This - Another Riddle Me This

It's been a while since I did one of my Riddle Me This posts, but after a recent conversation the idea for this post has been percolating in my noggin.

Feeling tired and run down? A bit sluggish. Need a pick-me-up that goes beyond the norm?

Well, grab yourself a funnel, a length of rubber hose, a jar of Vaseline, and a pot of coffee. (May I suggest you let it cool first.)

Yes, my friends I am serious. Okay, I don't really know if those are the tools of the trade but those are the things my mind says you will need in order to give yourself a ... coffee enema.

A what?

That was precisely my reaction when a friends casually mentioned that her mom often gave herself coffee enemas.

Why? Was my next question.

To detoxify her body. She swears by them.

First off, if somebody bent me over and poured a pot full of java down my bum I'd be swearing too, but that's not even my point. Other than my odd mental image the thing that occurred to me was who thought this up.

"Hey, Frank. I'm bored," said Bob
"Me too," answered Frank.
"Let's go play a round of golf."
"Nah I'm a little tired and run down."
"Drink some more coffee. The caffeine will make get you going."
"I drank a pot already. Besdes I tunred the burner off. It's cold by now."
Bob nodded. "Cold coffee tastes like shit."

And with one innocent phrase an idea is born.

Turning to the internet I learned that the major difference between your coffee enema and the plain vanilla (meaning saline not ice cream) enema is the caffeine. With that in mind why not go with a Mountain Dew enema. The caffiend in a can of dew combined with the carbonation bubbles ought to get you felling all tingly inside. Literally.

Actually the possibilities are endless. Starbucks can expand and have little rooms in the back. someone can invent a cardboard sleeve to go around the tubing so you won't burn your finger tips. Wait, never mind, the coffee has to already be somewhat cool. Otherwise you'll have worse problems than burnt fingers.

Doffee shops are already interesting places, but imagine sitting there with you espresso. You're munching on a scone when some guy walks in and orders a Venti Crappaccino.

So I say Riddle Me This ... explain the logic if you are a believer, deliver a testimonial. Or tell me why you would or would not ever go for a coffee enema. Me? I don't even like coffee except for the chicory kind you find down in Louisiana, and it already makes me act like Cornholio from Beavis and Butthead fame so there will be no coffee enemas for me.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Unintentional Lies

Isn't there a saying that says something like, The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

My plans to finish Booty and be submitting by Easter have taken a serious blow. The first few days went well. Like excrement from a dysinteric goose, two entire chapters flew from my mind. Then a blockage occurred and the flow stifled off. Yesterday morning while I was staring at the dreaded blinking cursor the worst possible thing happened. My electricity flickered, the computer shut off, and refused to come back up. Given the error message that appears, I fear my hard drive is toast.

I lost no more than a paragraph since any time I'm working I use a thumb drive and I save religiously, but I am worried about pictures and others things that I may or may not be able to retrieve. The computer was on a surge protector but it is also six or seven years old. I have a laptop which I am now using but typing on it is tedious even when using a larger keyboard. The only good news is that the word are now flowing again, though I have resorted to writing longhand. Just me, the pen and paper. That is how I uses to write all of my first drafts and it seems as if for now I back to that style.

Last night I finally talked my wife into going and seeing Atonement at the theater.

I give the movie an 8, but only because I read the novel. Had I not read Ian McEwan's masterful novel I would lower my score a point or so. The acting was good but as is the case with most movies, the characters just were not as developed as in the book, and without the stellar prose to accompany it the story felt a bit slow. My wife did not like it much at all but then agian there were no dragons, pixies,or magical beasts. Also she does not deal well with tension, or plots that delve into the morally corrupt side of humanity.

The movie did stay in line with the novel. Only the ending was markedly different and actually he result was pretty much the same but the presentation of the end was different. Much more direct and forceful than the book. I prefer the novel ending that left a bit more to interpretation, but I guess Hollywood thinks the average movie goer is too dense to think on their own.

My recommendation. Read the book, then see the movie if you have a chance, but to only see the movie is doing yourself an injustice.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

Still frantically creating and manipulating the lives of my characters ... Red Dirt, Oklahoma will never be the same, so in the meantime I'm going to cheat and post a few of these for your entertainment. I still read every comment so please weigh with your results.

You Should Be a Mechanic

You are logical, calm, and detail oriented.
You're rational when things are chaotic, and for you, reason always prevails.
And while you are guided by logic, you aren't a slave to it.
You're flexible when it counts. You are always open to being wrong.

You do best when you:

- Work with your hands
- Can use tools, machines, or equipment

You would also be a good architect or carpenter.

That is just sad because that is what I do now, work on mail sorting equipment for the postal service. And here I thought I was meant o be a writer. :(

Your Superpower Should Be Manipulating Electricity

You're highly reactive, energetic, and super charged.
If the occasion calls for it, you can go from 0 to 60 in a split second.
But you don't harness your energy unless you truly need to.
And because of this, people are often surprised by what you are capable of.

Why you would be a good superhero: You have the stamina to fight enemies for days

Your biggest problem as a superhero: As with your normal life, people would continue to underestimate you

Again freaky since I do work with electricity on those same machines. I don't know about that 0 to 60 business but Stamina is my middle name.

You Are a Boston Terrier Puppy

Aggressive, wild, and rambunctious.
Deep down, you're just a cuddle monster.

Man, I was really hoping to be a Saint Bernard just so I could have a barrel of booze, or a Mastiff, but a Boston Terrier?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Todays Menu - King Cake and Squab

Today is my kind of day ... Fat Tuesday. Of course that description fits my physique regardless of the day of the week.

Fat Tuesday is a day of indulgence. The day to eat, drink, and be merry. The last day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of lent.

Trust me, I know a thing or two about indulgence, which explains that physique I mentioned earlier. I'm not really Catholic, but my wife is, so in that spirit, and despite my heathenistic ways, I am giving up something for those long forty days of lent.


Just kidding.



My carnivorous ways.

What? do you want me to shrivel up and die of starvation.

I am giving up ...

The Booty.

That's right by the end of lent I am going to have my novel in progress, Plundered Booty, finished and out the door in the form of query letters and submissions. In order to do that I'll be posting a bit less often and commenting on your blogs a bit less, but I'll still be around so don't give up on me. I'll still post two or three times a week which is more than I can say for some of you deadbeats on my blog roll.

On a side note I spent a portion of my day yesterday considering the term pigeon-holed. How did that come to mean typecast. It actually sounds kind of obscene and threatening if you ask me. "Hey buddy, don't make me come over there and pigeon hole ya." Why pigeons. Why not turkey-holed? Course Rat-holed means to save something aside. Are there other animal holed sayings I have forgotten about? See how my demented mind works?

I know one of you smart people has to know the origins of the term pigeon-holed, and if not, then you are creative enough to make something good up, so tell me. Where do you think the term originated? Make me laugh hard enough and I might just send you a prize. Course it will take me months to actually fulfill that promise since I'm naturally lazy when it comes to that sort of thing, which is why I've given myself such a stiff deadline to hammer out The Booty.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Your Hole Is Bigger Than Mine

Texas has many things. From beaches to desserts. Mountains to swamps. And everything in between. It has good food, good music, and good people. What Texas doesn't have is groundhogs. So yesterday while most of y'all were watching a big fat critter come waddling out of his hole, us Texans had to drive out to a desolate cow pasture and look at these puny bits of hawk food.

That little rodent is the scourge of many a rancher, the target of many a guy sighting in his rifle, and the closest thing we got to groundhogs. Yep, it is a prairie dog. It pains me to say it, but I guess this proves ... Not everything in Texas is bigger.

***I actually cheated and took this picture Friday afternoon since I knew I'd be too busy to go chasing shadows yesterday. I tried to post a larger shot but blogger refused to let me. Maybe you can click on it to make it (it being the picture) bigger. But for the record it was sunny here so I'm sure shadows were plentiful, meaning six more weeks of winter here in the Texas Panhandle.

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Keg Beats a Six Pack ... Right?

Believe it or not, that is not a shot of my rock hard abs on the cover of that book. Sure they asked me to pose, but I couldn't fit the photo shoot into my already busy schedule so they had to settle for a measly six pack when they could have had an entire keg. He's probably not even a Texan. And I'm pretty dang certain he's not from Amarillo.

But this collection of stories is all about Amarillo and three of the four authors, Jodi Thomas, Phyliss Miranda, and Dewanna Pace, are as well. And I'm proud to call them my friends. The fourth author Linda Broday hails form Wichita Falls, Texas and though I have met her, she probably wouldn't know me if I stepped on her toe.

I also know the editor for this collection, Hilary Sares, and you would have to go some to find a nicer person in the business. I have blogged about a couple of my adventures involving Hilary. If you missed those hilarious stories, check them out here and here.

Here is a shot of me and Jodi from last years Frontiers In Writing Conference here in Amarillo. For info about this years conference in June click here. Or for the associated writing contest, click here. Deadline is March 1st, 2008.

Simply put, I, would not be writing and seeking publication without Jodi Thomas and her incredible generosity and willingness to encourage new writers. I've always been an avid reader but until I met Jodi I never thought becoming a published author was an attainable goal for a good ol' boy from Texas. She encouraged fan the spark of my literary hopes and guided me in the beginning until that spark turned into an outright flame. Jodi is a New York Times best selling author and RWA Hall of Famer after winning her third Rita award.

And in the very first class I took from Jodi I met Phyliss Miranda. For a good many years, I'd guess about five in all, me and Phyliss were in critique group together. Matter of fact, her story in this very anthology is one of the things she worked on in our group. I left the group before getting to read the last of it so like all of y'all I'll have to buy a copy of Give Me A Texan to find out how things turned out for her spunky newspaper woman.

All of the stories are set in Amarillo between the years of 1888-1916. So if you are a reader of historical romance, or would like to know a bit more about Texas history, particularly about like in and around Amarillo, or you just want to help out five classy ladies (the authors along with their editor) and friends of mine, pick up a copy from your local bookstore or click here to order from Amazon. And stop by their websites Jodi Thomas, Phyliss Miranda, Dewanna Pace, and Linda Broday and tell them I sent you.

Let me leave you with a brief story about Romance novels ...

I have taken a good amount of ribbing over the years from my predominantly male coworkers for writing Women's Fiction. Then one time I was in our maintenance shop reading a romance novel. I don't remember the title or the author, but it may have been one of Jennifer Archer's. another friend and fellow Amarilloan who has many published books to her credit.

Anyway one of the guys walked in saw the cover and commenced to giving me a ration of B.S. so I looked up, stared him the eye and said, "You know I need a name for this character in my novel I'm working on. It's about this guy with an extremely small penis and it just hit me that I should name him after you."

That was the last time any of my coworkers harassed me about a book I was reading or writing.