Wednesday, December 28, 2011

86 the Office

 As promised, photos of my summer and fall project.  Now I have a space for writing.  If only I could build some time.

                   What will my gorgeous illustrator do with these canvasses? 

Inside the Skull of David Priest

Because I'm half in a sharing mood and half apologetic for not writing much at all for the last couple months, I'll show you what I've been up to with the David Priest Project.  Right now I'm giving a taste of a normal day for him.  A pretty good day, actually.  Soon I'll throw a bad day at him.  Then I'll start establishing his own special kind of crazy.  I'm looking forward to that.

The David Priest Page

Cathartes Aura Part Three

It begins again.  I began feeling that pecking sensation and had to get back to my buzzard.  No title yet, but I'm moving forward.  This will be the story of random survivors rebuilding and trying to get along.

Father James still gives me the goosebumps.  I expected Joe, Sam, and Valentine to be my favorite characters, but James is so much fun to write for.  I get to channel my inner preacher-man.

This is just a rough draft, but I like it so far.  Stay tuned.  I promise to spend less time sawing, drilling, and painting and more time writing.  Sometime in the spring this thing will be done.  Until then:


Cathartes Aura Part Three

Chapter One

On glazed asphalt, the tank sits cored: slack treads
And scorched armor frame a funnel of earth
Shined like glass from the kiln. On wheels and doors,
Hoods and trunks, cars lie scattered with spent shells,
A humvee and jeep, pools of gummy blood
With clouds of fresh flies. Walls pocked from bullets.
In a meadow up the hill, six fresh graves
Hold wrapped bodies while seventeen stand stooped.
A robed man scans them with hickory eyes.
Stand straight. You look half in the ground yourselves.”

Hands clasped on his worn leather book, James breathes,
Lifts his voice to the trees. “I see Satan
On your shoulders, hissing doom in your ears:
'You will die quick deaths, live meaningless lives,
Accomplish naught but fertilize the ground.'”
Three farm women weep together, arms hooked
and faces stern. The old woman wails, hangs
On the round man in overalls. “Forked tongues
Caress your skin, tempt you to sin. Who cares?
Live loose. This world is gone. But I see God.”

Focussed, Max watches James' brightening face
And uplifted palms. “I feel His love glow
In the comfort you offer each other.”
Al picks grease from his nails. Sam stares glossy
At shifting clouds while Val does toe-raises.
I see Him in the union of strangers
Steadfast against intruders.” Next to Val
The bright-eyed girl lifts her heels in time, beams
At James, his shoulders now hunched, whispering:
I sense Him so close I can feel his breath.”

Friday, November 18, 2011

Reality has Interfered with my Fiction

It's been a while.

I've been a busy boy.  More construction worker than writer, but the two things are similar.  I've been working all summer to turn the unfinished room in my basement into an office for myself.  And it's done, if you don't count one window-sill.  I just moved my computer downstairs and turned it on for the first time.  Now I need to put in enough good work to justify the time and expense.

Coming soon:

Pictures of the new room.

The first day of "Inside the Skull of David Priest".

Cathartes Aura Part Three.  It's been pecking at my head after a couple months off.  It's time to get back to work.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

78 Words for Esquire

Esquire Magazine is holding a 78 word fiction contest to honor its 78th anniversary.  I submitted the following:


Two guys arrived at ten.  Two ladies after midnight.  It's one.

I smash limes.  One two three Cointreau, four five vodka.  Splash cran.  Shake.  Strain into frozen stemware.  The brunette's done.  She gets no liquor sub soda and won't know the difference.

"Eating spaghettios in my bikini," she was saying.  "Didn't give a rat.  That gay beach was liberating."

The blond passes her card.  He scopes her picture on the back: blazer, blouse, hairdo, mascara.

"Damn, you're hot."

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pinky: A Smasher's Best Friend

Much thanks to Pinky from Pinky's Pub for all the support she's given to Smashwords writers.  She's an avid ebook reader who's decided to help as much as she can.  She displays covers on her Facebook Page, reviews books on her Blog, and just today did a feature on the Cathartes Aura series for me.

She's giving a huge hand to all of us independent authors and we can't thank her enough.

Happy Hour with David Priest

Your first sip.  A dip into the high-paced crush at the end of happy hour, when everyone in the house gets one last drink before they revert to full price.  This happens to me every day and it's my favorite sport.

Coming soon, 24 hours from the life of David Priest.  After-work socialization, copulation, inebriation, instigation and all that good stuff. 

Happy Hour with David Priest

Another happy hour.  Three lemon-drops, one cosmo, three drafts, gin-tonic, two reds, one white.

Reds first: pinot, merlot.  Then white.  I pour half a chard, grab a new bottle from the top shelf by the neck, drop it ninety degrees to my palm with a clean smack, stick it in the fridge and grab a cold one.  I pull the foil off whole, flip my corkscrew from my pocket, and pop the cork.

One more ticket up.  And one more ticket.  Grab four martini glasses, sugar three.  Set up four pints, one with limes, three with lemons and a sugar cube.  Double-tap the limes with my muddler.  Rinse it.  No lime in my lemon-drops.  Smash the lemons.  Rinse it.  Always rinse it.  Ice all four then one-two-three triple sec with four-five vodka over the limes, splash of cran.  Two shots citrus vodka, splash sour over the rest.  Shake and strain.  Rinse the shakers.  Put them down clean.  Bucket glass, ice, gin, tonic, done.

One more ticket up.  Three pints from the freezer.  One in each hand, I pull the handles with my forefinger, left then right, fill the beers and close each tap with my knuckle, left then right.  I pour the third beer as Carlene is garnishing and traying up.  Another ticket.

"Thank you.  Drive through," I tell her.  She dimples and lifts the tray on her finger-tips.  Good girl.  Nice form.  A quick glance and now I'm five tickets deep.

Carlene's was the long one.  These are short and I clump them together as servers gather at the rail.  Reds.  Open two bottles and launch the corks into my tip bucket left-handed.

"Nice shot," says the guy with the martini to the right of the well.

"Banked that second one.  Counts as a miss."

Bottle of white for the new girl.  "Can I get three glasses with that?"

"Yes you may.  Could you put that on the ticket next time, please?" I ask.  Big smile.  Something about the new waitresses.  The mystery.  Will she be great or will me burn her out in a few shifts?

I salt one pint, smash three limes with one orange, ice, one-two-three triple sec with four-five tequila, splash of sour, shake it, dump it.  First place I ever worked was a Mexican joint so I take pride in my margaritas.  Another ticket up.

"Thanks, Dave," Will says, traying his drinks.

"Party on," I reply.

"Busy tonight," says the martini guy.

I cock one eyebrow as I lay out a string of whiskey-cokes and vodka-sodas.  "What do you mean?"

Two more tickets up.  Three new ladies at the rail to my right.  Early to mid-thirties. I card them.  Girls like to be carded.  Eye-contact.  Smile.  One adjusts her low-cut blouse.  I wasn't looking.

While pouring three ice-waters, I tell them this week I'm mixing Midori with melon vodka and muddled citrus, served up.

For the guys on the other side of the rail, I refill two scotch-rocks, a whiskey-sour, and a beer.  I look around as I fill the beer.  Another ticket.  The ladies look through the menu.  The guy by the well's martini is dry.  I look at his glass and he nods.  The game is 3-3 in the bottom of the fourth.  The new girl has a strong tapered back and a nice ass.  I'll guess soccer in high-school and now aerobic kick-boxing.  Beer's full.

I shake a melon special and replace the guy's martini.  He wipes his forehead, grinning.

"Sorry.  You're in the sea-world seat," I tell him.  "Sit too close, you might get splashed."

I sink some red watermelon liqueur to the bottom of the green drink and garnish with a lime.

"What's that?" ask the ladies.

"This week's special."

"What do yo call it?"

"This Week's Special."  I'm no good at names.  I think of drink recipes while half-asleep Sunday morning, but most drink names just sound stupid or punny so I've stopped bothering.

They order three so I set up three pints with two limes and two lemons.  Smash them, ice, a shot each of Midori and melon vodka, splash of lemonade.  Shake, strain, sink the liqueur.  Bright green with a wedge of red at the bottom of the glass like a slice of cold watermelon on a hot day.  I did alright this week.

I deliver the drinks.  They order the crab dip and some calamari.  The guys on the other side ask for the clams, garlic fries, and the salmon sliders while the printer drops three more tickets.

Quarter to six and it's time to get digging.  I put food orders in the computer.  No time to enter drinks.  Back to the well.

"So what's on special for happy hour?" asks the martini guy, who's already been told.  I line up glasses for two Long Islands, some cokes and tonics.

"All drinks, all apps, half price.  Four to six."  I four-pour vodka, gin, rum, and triple sec with a splash of sour and coke.

"Even the martinis?"  Whiskey-coke, two rum-cokes, vodka-tonic, two gin-tonics, a rare Meyers-tonic.

"Yep."  Next ticket says mojito-not-sweet, bloody mary extra-spicy, bottle of cab with four, three bottles of beer and a B-52 coffee.

"Those clams smell good.  They on special?"  I fill a coffee glass with hot water then grab the wine.  Check the glasses in the sunlight coming in off the bay.  Spotless but lipstick on one.  I polish it, grab the beers, pop three caps.  Then I drop mint and limes in a glass, skip the sugar, and smash them.

"Love the clams.  They're half price."  Ice, rum, sour, shake it, add soda, and dump it in a tall glass.  In another: Tabasco, chili vodka, fresh-cracked pepper, mary mix.  Shake, salt the rim, and pour while a server strings an antipasto of vegetables and fruit on a bar pick.  "Whip?" I ask and receive a nod.  I dump the hot water, pour Grand Marnier, Bailey's, Kahlua, coffee and top it with an inch and a half of whipped cream.

"Whoah," the server says.

"This ain't a game," I reply.

"You got some white wine for the clams on Happy Hour?"


"You're kidding."

"Yes."  I hand him a wine list, grab rolled silver and plates for the guys and gals while eyeballing the tickets, return with stout, an IPA, two merlots and a chard.

Next ticket says martini-up-little dry vermouth-olive.  I don't have to look at the name to know it's the newbie.  I make the martini and garnish it because I'm a pal.  The printer keeps spitting tickets and I keep laying out drinks.  The expo delivers my food and it smells good in here, like garlic and fried bread crumbs.  The guys to my left get another round before six.  The ladies want another at happy hour price, but don't want it poured yet.  The guy by the well gets clams, garlic bread, and whatever white wine I like.  Sauvignon Blanc.  Three dudes squeeze up at the rail for beers and shots.  A keg blows as I'm pouring their second brew.  I pour the full into the empty and bring them three halves with their shots.  "These are just practice beers.  I'll have your real ones in a moment."  They're each holding debit cards.

I tap an extension on my phone.  "Amber, please."

I arrange nine tickets, looking for the easy ones, common drinks, and whoever's closest to the well.  New girl's martini is still there.  I get Carlene another bottle of wine, put a marg in the blender to spin, shake more lemon-drops, pour sodas, tonics, and cokes.

"86 Amber," I tell a Will, "For a minute."  But Corn is already rolling it around the corner.  He opens the fridge and removes the empty.  "Corndog, you are my ace."

Five-fifty nine.  The minute of my day guaranteed to be action packed.  "On your left," I tell Corn as I step next to him and pour wine.

"Fire in the hole," he declares as he shuts the door and rolls away the empty.

"Thanks, Cornelius," I reply loud enough for the bar to hear.  A few guests echo the thanks.  I pour the delinquent ambers.  The guys with a shot and one-and-a-half beers each want their checks.  I hold up four new tickets, smile, and say: "Just a moment."

The new girl is finally getting her martini.  Her eyes are focussed on a spot halfway between my chin and the drink.  She carries it away, holding her tray in both hands.  I choose not to tell her yet that martinis are up with a little vermouth by default and she doesn't have to tell me about the olive because she should garnish it.  Shake it off, little girl.  We need more strong servers.  We just lost two good ones.

Shortly the printer stops throwing ninja stars, the girls and guys focus on their seafood, the servers take the last half-price drinks and I wipe things down.  I top off the garnish trays, rearrange bottles and fix the ladies their last round.  At the computer, I reach back into my brain for the drinks I haven't yet rung and get things up to date.  I tell the nearest server I'll be back in three and step through the swinging door to the kitchen.

I need to wash my hair.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A New Look

My blog is shifting from Post-Apocalyptic to Cocktail, for a while at least.  The David Priest Project is starting to roll.  I'll get back to Cathartes Aura Part Three in a couple of months, but first I need to get out "Inside the Skull of David Priest".

After some free-writing, I've decided to write in first-person prose.  I'm trying to find a nice free stream-of-consciousness rhythm.  It's tough to strike a balance between a character who is describing thoughts and events to the reader and a guy who just plain talks to himself.  Also tricky to write about a guy who, on the surface, shares a lot of your experience and work ethic yet on the inside is quite differently motivated.  I'll reveal that bit-by-bit.

For a long time, I've found it easiest to make up places, people, and situations and write about fantasy.  This is still a fictitious story in a made up town with characters I created, but it will cut personally into the mad hospitality business in which I've grown up.

For most of the last 20 years, I've been employed as a busser, waiter, caterer, bartender, and manager.  Currently I'm a hotel bartender at a great place.  I pay my mortgage and feed my family slinging drinks, serving food, making people comfortable, and being the classiest wise-ass I can be.  I have worked with a wonderful array of hard working professionals, losers, students working part-time, medicated mentals, addicts, and genuinely lovable people.

If you don't know much about the inside of the business, I hope you learn something.  Minimum wage plus tips can be good money.  That server probably makes more dough than her manager.  Titles can be a demotion.  There are numerous ways to short-pour a drink, multiple strategies for cutting someone off, and copious opportunities to skim the company.  Spitting in food is not as much fun as you might think.

Soon I'll be dropping bits of text.  As of this moment, it's all just too raw.  I'm laying out characters and setting.  Much of the stuff I've written so far looks like this: "Where you been?" asks (that dude from the kitchen) while stirring his Gibson.

I wanted to put at least a scene on the blog today, but all I have is a lengthy description and some new wallpaper.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Two Men Walk into a Bar

Maybe I  can't stop writing ten-by-tens.
This week, I decided to start jotting down the odd things I hear and see while tending bar.  You'd be surprised how often they go in one ear and out the other if you don't write them down.  I'm trying to collect detail for the David Priest Project.
Here are ten lines about something that really happened a couple days ago.

Two men walk into a bar.  "Beer," one says,
"And vodka for my friend.  Cheapest you got."
I ask his friend: "Should I chill it for you?"
He shakes his head.  "Just neat.  It's for my ears."
I hear lots of things at my job.  Weird things.
Never heard this thing.  "Vodka for your ears?"
He nods.  "Went swimming and my ears won't pop.
I have no rubbing alcohol."  He dips
His finger in his shot, swabs his ears, asks
Me for a whiskey-seven.  "For your mouth?"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Brand Names in Fiction

Sometimes social media works.  I asked Smasher Pinky (a big supporter of writers like me at Pinky's Pub on Facebook) if I would get in trouble for using real liquor brands in the David Priest Project.  Heidi C. Vlach chimed in with this link.

I don't have any lawyers on my payroll, yet.  Hell, no one's on my payroll.  Thanks for the help, Heidi.

Seems like as long as I don't imply that Stolichnaya causes retroactive birth defects or anything like that, I'll be okay.  Can't have David Priest reaching for "that Russian vodka" throughout the whole book.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Barman David Priest

I'm about to step away from the Cathartes Aura project for a bit.  I'll be able to tap into my life in the restaurant business through a first-person narrative about eccentric bartender David Priest.  It may be in free-verse.  It may be in prose.  I won't know until I begin to free-write and a form should become evident.

But first, a disclaimer.  For anyone who works with me or has worked with me, you may come to recognize my voice inside the character of David Priest.  He may sound a lot like me.  He may work like me.  He may even look like me, but don't get it twisted.  He is a fictional character.  The bugs in his head are not in my head.  His life is not and never has been mine.

Some of the characters around him may look like or sound like you.  If it is a flattering likeness, then maybe the character is based on you.  If you don't like what you see or hear, don't worry.  It's not you, just something from my imagination.  If I work for you and you fear that I may be behaving like Mr. Priest, don't freak out.  It's only a piece of fiction based on things I've heard, seen, or just made up.

I may be referring people back to this post if any part of the David Priest Project ruffles feathers.

Until then, please read "Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo" and "Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere".  I'd love for you to put an honest review at  I'll be working on Book Three before too long.  I just don't want to see another ten-by-ten for a couple of months.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Road from Nowhere" Takes Flight

It's done.  It's out there.  It's almost perfect and I can't do better than almost.  So go get it.  Enjoy it, please, or don't and tell me what you think.  I'm going on vacation.  You know that a piece of writing is finished when you just don't want to see it anymore.

Then I'm getting to work on the David Priest Project.

"Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" at Smashwords.

Monday, August 22, 2011

All Ready for Flight, but...

"Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" is ready to go.  I've re-read it numerous times this weekend.  I counted all 10,000 syllables and found not nearly as many 9 or 11 syllable lines as I did in "Apocalypse Zoo".  The elevens are much easier to fix.  The cover art is the way I'd like and I've written a blurb to describe it.

But, I won't let this thing fly before I get the opinion of one more person.  Or Thursday, whichever comes first.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Liver Punch

"Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" will be done this weekend and available at barring any setbacks.  I've stopped giving preview stanzas, so I feel I need to drop some sort of teaser.  Here it is.  It sounds like a non sequitur, but if you read the whole thing, it will make sense.  Until then, read "Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo" and study your liver punches.

Wikipedia about the Liver Punch

Bas Rutten's How To

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" Sneak Peek: Chapter Ten

For nine weeks I've been picking and choosing stanzas from the second episode of the Cathartes Aura series.  I've selected stanzas that can stand on their own as an interesting piece of writing, introduce characters from the story, make the reader curious about the book and can achieve all of this without giving away the climax of the story.

There will be no Chapter Ten Sneak Peek.  I can't do it without spoiling the whole thing.  I worked hard to build drama, tension, and surprise for the end of "Road from Nowhere" and I won't blow it all by leaking chapter ten.

I'm proud of it.  At least I will be in a couple of weeks when it's published.  I rewrote some of it today, but I'll get it just right by the end of August like I promised.

Until then, read "Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo".  Won't take you more than two hours.  It's still free at  If you've already read it, please write an honest review.

You did come here for poetry, and I thank you, so here's a little something:

          Apples for Sale

“What lovely apples you have.”  His face bugs

In their candy-fender gloss, all forehead

And cheekbones.  “Says here: ‘Poisoned’.  Is that French?

Some new hybrid?”  She swivels in her chair,

Re-crosses her pulled-sugar legs, replies

Like honey stirred in tea: “I poisoned them.”

She swishes through the curtain of beads, slow

As a pendulum submerged.  “Pesticide?”

She shakes her head, tents her fingers, and squints

Sideways and green.  “Paralytic toxin.”

He wrinkles his forehead, lifts an apple,

Studies his reflection and looks beyond

To her posture and aura.  “Already

I’m paralyzed.  What will you do with me?”

Her eyes widen.  She answers: “You’re my slave.”

He’s frozen to the ground.  “What is my toil?”

“Your folly,” she responds, “if it serves me.”

“For how long am I indentured, My Queen?”

She spreads her hands, shrugs, walks back through the beads.

“The paralysis is voluntary.”

The sun descends, blushing into the hills.

A breeze builds to a gale, blowing wrappers,

And newspapers throughout the carnival.

One drop sideways in the dirt.  Two then three

Then buckets of rain.  He remains mortared.

She re-emerges from the beads, one word

On her tongue-moistened lips: “Voluntary.”

He shakes his head.  “A kiss for antidote.”

The wind whips her hair.  Rain runs down her cheeks.

She grabs him by the collar and cures him.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

First Friday Details

All you need to know about the First Friday event, this Friday, downtown Spokane.!/event.php?eid=251896488173309&notif_t=event_invite

First Friday in Spokane

Thanks to painter and poet Jill Skeie for letting me borrow one photon of her spotlight.  Her work is being featured at Second Space Gallery, downtown Spokane, and she is being kind enough to let me read there.

I'll read from both "Apocalypse Zoo" and "Road from Nowhere".  A little at least and a lot if I get a crowd.  So come down if you can.  Come down if you can't.  This is big for me.

Friday, August 5th, from 5-8PM.  Second Space Gallery
610 West 2nd Ave., Spokane, WA
Corner of 2nd and Howard, very close to the Davenport.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" Sneak Peek: Chapter Nine

Three tough weeks of editing and this thing will be ready.  I finished the rough draft Wednesday morning and did not feel the buzz of triumph I did when I finished "Apocalypse Zoo".  Because it needs a lot of work still, I suppose.  So much stage direction, dialogue, and character description plus action scenes to put together.  I need to sweep it all together into something that clicks.  Right now it feels disjointed.  Building something like one-hundred ten-by-tens is like making a watch: it can't be too big or too small and it must be precise.

(Have you seen my mug?)

Chapter Nine, Verse One:

Joe, Sam and Val return to the Jaguar,

Coax the camels from their pasture with treats,

Roll back to the mall to the beat of drums,

Horns and harps.  Val accepts a drink, puckers

At the taste and shoots it down.  “Don’t worry,”

Sam says.  “I’ll teach Joe to make lemon drops.”

The men pass a joint, snuff it and spray cologne.

A crowd of eight gander at the red glint,

The strutting beasts, the symphony.  They ooh

At shining fenders and solar panels.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" Sneak Peek: Chapter Eight

Just wrote ninety-six.  Almost finished.  Then a month of editing.  It will take that long.  So much dialogue and choreography in this episode.  It's so much easier when they're all animals and they stay within one square mile.  Somebody, count the number of quotation marks in "Apocalypse Zoo" and we'll see how it compares to "Road from Nowhere".  Also, I don't think I used a single name in book one.

Chapter Eight, Verse Seven:

Soon they roll down the highway, Joe’s magnum

In his lap, the shotgun on Val’s shoulder.

Bodhi flanks the camels.  With field-glasses

And Glock, Sam melts with the trees, climbs the ridge.

Pushing hard, he takes high ground, jogs ahead,

Outruns the Jag until he finds the mall.

He ducks behind rocks, surveils the structures,

Ragged fence, rugged garden, scattered cars.

A long swig of water and a quick puff.

Sam drops to the road, trots back to the car.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" Sneak Peek: Chapter Seven

I plowed through most of Chapter Nine this weekend.  As soon as I'm done with this post, I'm going back to it.  Bringing a story like  this to a smashing climax is a buzz I hope at least some of you have felt.  I remember it from the end of "Apocalypse Zoo".  I've never hit a walk-off home-run, a buzzer-beater, or a game-winning anything, but it must be a similar feeling.

Chapter Seven gives the readers what I hope they're starving for: answers.  Some characters sit around the campfire and explain their own tiny piece of what happened.

“Always ecstatic or angered.  One day

Gives lobster and champagne to everyone

Saying: ‘This is the end.  Lets go out strong.’

The next day, sells freeze-dried rations, water,

And wind-up radios out the back door.

Meanwhile, I try to run a restaurant.

Crazy don’t make good hospitality.

Needed some mountain air.  To get fat on trout.

Changed my voicemail greeting to: ‘I quit, tweak.’

Took my ass and his best whiskey hiking.”

Eighty Six the Mug

Slowly falling in love with Deviant Art.  I think they like me, too.

When I'm not working on "Road from Nowhere" (84 of 100, by the way) I've been looking into on-demand t-shirts and stuff like that.  I realized with Deviant Art you can easily sell your art as a print, a coaster, a calendar, a puzzle, or a mug.  If they really like you, they'll sell your apparel.

So, after much digital goofing around, I got a file just right and now have it for sale as a coffee cup.  Mine is on the way.  I'll photograph it and post some pictures, but until then, imagine this on a mug.

And you can get yours at:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" Sneak Peek, Chapter Six

Getting close, people.  Getting close.  75 of 100 and counting.

Thanks to the new flood of people who'd rather read my book for free than for $3.99.  Could you all do me one favor and please write a review?  And while I'm being thankful:

Thanks to the people at Deviant Art for recognizing art in written form.  Thanks to Megaton for being a true post-apocalyptic junkie and featuring "Apocalypse Zoo" on his fiction page.  Thanks to "Full Metal Jacket" for teaching me how to yell at maggots.  And always thanks to my wife for reminding me that worrying too much about stuff means less enjoying stuff.

Chapter Six, Verse Ten:

Sarge begins to pace, gets red to the scalp.

“Been around a long time.  Seen dinosaurs

With bigger brains.  Knew cavemen better skilled

To drive these rigs.”  He rubs the scarred surface

Of the tanker.  “Near blew up all the fuel.

Twenty thousand gallons of gas.  How’d that

Help this squad?  Do you know?”  He grabs the shirt

Of a pale soldier who shrugs and gets slugged

In the nose.  Sarge growls and points to the trees.

“Now get up that hill.  Run ‘till I get tired.”

Monday, July 4, 2011

"Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" Sneak Peek: Chapter Five

The Apocalypse will cause everyone to analyze his or her religious beliefs.  The atheists will wonder if maybe there really is a god.  The devout will ask whether god has abandoned them.  Those who love god will believe that god hates them.  I needed to inject some religion into this piece and I had fun doing it.

And if you haven't read "Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo" it is free until the release of Episode Two in August.

Chapter Five, Verse Five:

The preacher, brown-bearded, worn leather book

Closed in his hands, draws a breath.  “So much loss.

What’s one more to the Lord’s ragged remnants?”

He sweeps each face with hickory eyes

Unblinking, brow furrowed.  “Eighty-six years

Carl was a pupil of the soil, of God,

Of community, of Satan’s tickings.”

Nodding heads, pressed hands, agreeing amens.

“Now flushed by plague, fire, and sin from our land

And from our homes, is that scholarship lost?”

Most Recent "Road from Nowhere" Cover Draft

My gorgeous illustrator is working hard on the new cover and looking good doing it.  She's working on the second, lash-batting, sensuous lady camel to fill the space to the left.  I'm working on Chapter Eight and wish I had nothing to do but write.

Also, we've been thinking about BBQ-related kids books and the novel-in-free-verse David Priest project.

You'll find the cover art at the top of the blog.

Friday, July 1, 2011

"Apocalypse Zoo" is Free

In anticipation of the August release of “Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere”, Episode Two in the series, I’m making “Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo” free.

Read Episode One and, if I did my job well, you’ll want Episode Two.

Enough said.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pavarti's Review

A review of "Apocalypse Zoo" by Pavarti K. Tyler.  She is a writer also connected to Smashwords.  We interviewed each other a couple months ago.  I read and reviewed her "Consumed by Love".  She just published her review of my story and posted it to her blog:
You can find "Consumed by Love" at:
It is "erotic horror" and not for those under 18 or faint of heart, but very well written.  Courageously written.  I said it was "disturbing, but sometimes you need to be disturbed".

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" Sneak Peek: Chapter Four

I'm picking up momentum and running strong at my August deadline.  Just finished Chapter Six and I know just how I'll finish this thing.  For a while I felt I was stuck in character development and stage direction.  I was afraid I wouldn't build to the same kind of climax I did in "Apocalypse Zoo".  I'm not afraid anymore.  This train is rumbling down the tracks.

And I have a surprise coming on the first of July.

Chapter Four, Verse One:

She floats light on her feet, centered and soft,

Eyes everywhere and nowhere, breathing smooth

As honed steel.  Bodhi sits near her right heel,

Ears perked and swiveling, nostrils twitching.

Joe pulls the fleece from his lap, exposing

The ten-inch barrel of his chrome magnum.

Sam’s mouth is wide open, his eyes half shut.

The camels shrug humps and go back to sleep.

Joe rubs his chin.  “I’ve seen this one before,”

He says.  “But the other guy had a sword.”

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" Sneak Peek: Chapter Three

Chapter Three, Verse Six:

With driving strides, Sam nears a yellow bus.

He slows then stops.  It is full.  Windows fogged.

Heads droop, cheeks squash, palms smear against the glass.

Stretchers stacked on two-by-four frames, collapsed

When the bumper struck the guard-rail, low-speed.

Scarcely a dent.  The driver slumped, face-down

On the wheel, hands in his lap.  Nothing moves.

Arms and legs poke like twigs from a woodpile.

Sam breathes from his mouth, ashen, unable

To look away, stumbling on noodled legs.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Riverlit Submission #3: Valentine's Morning

An excerpt from Chapter Four of "Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" and a submission for the summer issue of Spokane's literary magazine.  Not to be counted as a Sneak Peek.  You'll still see one on Sunday from Chapter Three.

Valentine’s Morning

I wake.  Val’s feet are shoulder wide.  Weight low.

Fists at her waist, turned up and loosely clenched.

Her blond hair is combed slick and braided tight.

Eyes closed.  She begins to move as through oil.

Right step back.  Left knee bent.  Hips, core, shoulders,

Elbows and hands follow like fluid, pause,

And rewind through the first stance to the next,

Smooth as clouds, strong as weather, a river

Over shined rocks.  Hands like prayer, sharp as beaks,

Inviting, deflecting, hard as hammers.

She raises fingers toward the rising sun,

Snaps a foot to her palm, repeats, repeats,

Repeats left right, returns roundhouse, windmill,

Front and axe-kick.  Stalls, knee to chest.  Breath deep

Through her gut to the earth.  Whirls the backfist

To the straight left.  Snapping air.  Bursts of voice.

Soaring over the grass on liquid feet

Sweeping low, striking high, heels of hands flash

At unseen jaws.  She stomps with a grunt.  Stops.

Feet shoulder wide.  Weight low.  Open blue eyes.

Riverlit Submission #2: Untitled

Proving that I can write more that ten-by-tens, a submission for the summer issue of Spokane's literary magazine:


Shivering alone

Folded up, sour

My stomach and brain.

When I leave, I go nowhere.

In bed again at noon.

My flattened sheets,

Beige and gray,

Cover me, numb me,

Empower me

To hide my head,

Sleep or stand,

Shuffle or stomp around,

Drink or spit

And throw the glass.

Back to my low bed,

My fisted empty hands,

And my crushed pillow.

Head back and forth

I ask why like a child.

Riverlit Submission #1: Fake Flowers

A submission for the summer issue of Spokane's literary magazine:


Fake Flowers

I like flowers fake, sewn and glued, nylon

And polyester.  Woven frayed petals,

With coarse grain, plastic stems, acrylic dew.

Never lie nor wilt. Won’t curl or change face.

Sunlight or dark, will be with you always.

In a dollar vase, give me fake flowers.

Unscented, no pollen or honeybees.

Not hungry, always growing at the sun.

Fabricate me twelve bomb-proof pseudo-silk

Injection-molded polymer flowers.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" Sneek Peak: Chapter Two

Chapter Two, Verse Two:

A blues riff starts and stops, starts again faint

In the distance as the hiker puts dirt

Behind his boots yard after yard, huffing

Smooth and steady as a train.  A voice croons,

Cracks, cusses, and laughs.  The guitar restarts

As the hiker drops his pack, climbs a spire

Of rock and glasses the highway.  The Jag

Rolls at camel speed while the driver strums

A six-string acoustic.  From the north pops

The revving of motorcycle engines.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" Sneak Peek: Chapter One

Sometime in August, episode 2 will be ready.  Our dark-feathered, pink-headed narrator has escaped the zoo and is following the man in the camel-drawn Jaguar convertible.  I will be releasing one stanza from each chapter for the next ten weeks to celebrate the launch of "On the Road from Nowhere".  Soon, my gorgeous illustrator will have some preview art.  Here it is. Chapter one, verse seven:
He pushes back his plate, pours more coffee,

And lights another.  He sighs long and deep.

A grin creases his face as the sun beams

Through the trees, the breeze sways needled branches

Like praying dancers, clouds drift like canoes,

And the highway rests still as a glass lake.

A French inhale, a steaming sip, knuckles

Popped as the Jaguar’s speakers reproduce

Voices a cappella singing of roads,

Fatigue, strength, and moonlight on cool water.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Smashwords Interview Day

Once again proving that no one does more to help independent authors publish and market ebooks, Smashwords hosted a five question interview session on Saturday.  Authors interviewed each other on Facebook.  I exchanged interviews with Pavarti Devi, author of the "Sandstorm Chronicles", a series about a Batman-style billionaire hero on a quest to foil Turkish religious police.  Yes, the Turkish Batman.

I admit, her questions were more thought out and better than mine, but I went first and had less time to think.  Her series is still in the works.  She shared with me her short story: "Consumed by Love".  She describes it as "erotic horror".  She's right.  Well written and disturbing.  But sometimes you need to be disturbed or you stand in the same place, looking at the world in the same way.

You can find all of Saturday's interviews at the Smashwords Facebook page:!/Smashwords

You can find "Consumed by Love" at Smashwords:

You can follow Pavarti Devi's work at:

And I'm so excited about how "Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" is coming out I'll start leaking little 10x10 bits between now and August.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Epub Trub

Smashwords warned me about the confusing world of epub, the format used at the Apple store.  The epub check often gives back completely undecipherable error messages, and without a 100% grade Apple won't stock the book.  After a drink and a chance to sleep on it, I attempted to pull out my hair only to find that it's too short.  Thanks again, Mark Coker, for a great guide.  I took a breath, had some tea, and then used the nuclear method.  And I passed.

The bright side: this gave me a chance to change two lines near the end of chapter one.  It clarifies the description of the jet blowing up.  When I wrote "Apocalypse Zoo" I was unclear about the specific nature of my apocalypse.  I shot down the plane with a rocket and "whistle like the Fourth of July."  Now I know better.  The new description works more clearly with truths revealed in "Road from Nowhere."

One frustrating thing and one beautiful thing about the ebook.  From home, I did a little typing, and my revisions are on the shelf.

The sequel should be ready in August.

"Apocalypse Zoo" should be at the Apple store in two weeks or less.  But just get it at Smashwords.

On a weird note, spell-check accepts both "undecipherable" and "indecipherable".  I know I'm supposed to be the writer and all, but which one is it?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"I must admit I was skeptical at first..."

Thank you, Amber, for your review.  I'm happy you enjoyed it.

"I must admit I was skeptical at first, but in the end I was pleasantly surprised and found myself craving the sequel already!"

I'm working hard on the sequel.  Currently on stanza 35.  I'm happy to be working with more human characters.  However, I find it challenging to write good poetry without getting bogged down in dialogue and stage direction.  I'm finding my way.  The first one wasn't easy, either.

"Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" due in August.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Equations of Life

I finished "Equations of Life" by Simon Morden on Saturday.  I was struck by how very different his apocalypse is.  There are so many people.  Technology is still advanced and prevalent.  Nuclear war destroyed some cities, poisoned the country-side, and forced the remaining human population into a few crowded cities.  This story takes place in London, where riding the subway now is very much like being a sardine in a can.
This is a fun paperback to read.  The story is mostly like an action movie, with the characters running and fighting for their lives against the bad guys.  The one great twist is Petrovitch, the main character.  He's skinny.  He's a mathematician.  He has a bad heart that he wants to replace but can't afford to.  It kicks out on him several times during the book and his implanted defibrilator keeps restarting it.  His sidekick and savior is a six and a half foot tall nun who packs a hand-cannon.  She is often picking him up and carrying him around.  My favorite line: "I can throw your skinny ass through a wall, group twelve shots at fifty meters, and take a bullet for my priest."  So Petrovitch is not your ordinary action hero.
A fun book and a different PA look at things.  It feels like Morden has set this up to be a series.  It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Petrovitch.
And now the binge is over.  Only four books in two weeks, but I feel a strong itch to get back to writing.  Episode 2: "Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" is next.  I've already written 300 lines and hope to have it finished by August.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day of the Triffids

Unique and classic all at the same time: "Day of the Triffids" by John Wyndham.  A triffid is a rapidly growing and reproducing tree capable of walking and striking a man dead from ten feet away with a poisonous stinger.  Probably created by a human scientist and accidentally spread across the globe, they are a mere oddity until a "comet" causes an amazing green meteor shower viewed by almost everyone on the planet.  They all wake up blind.
A few sighted people are forced to figure out the tragedy and fend for themselves while a majority of the blind stumble about desperate for help.
Published in 1951 in England, this book is a pioneer in the PA genre.  It deals with the complex issues of rebuilding society including how to deal with cities filled with the rotting dead, whom to save when you can't save everyone, and tensions between different philosophies: religious, neo-feudalistic, military, and utopian.
Glad I picked it up and sorry I took so long.  Always interesting to see how different people treat the apocalypse.  How we are different and how we are the same.  Both Wyndham and I began by stating what was absent, what was missing, and why something must be very wrong.  The conservative 50's Britishness of his characters was also an interesting touch to a guy reading it 60 years later.
Next up: "Equations of Life" by Simon Morden

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Scanner Darkly

I took my time with Philip K. Dick's "A Scanner Darkly".  I read it over 2 nights.  I'm not sure if I want to go out and do lots of drugs or never do a drug again.  A great insight into the subculture and a bewildering view of the future of law enforcement.  Imagine going to the office and interacting with anonymous people anonymously, reporting on yourself and your friends without revealing your identity, and not knowing if the person across the desk from you is the dealer or user you are chasing.

It's fiction that opens up the mind.  The sort of stuff I've been looking for.  Not PA either, but that's coming.  Next up, a classic in the post-apocalyptic world I've never read: "Day of the Triffids" by John Wyndham.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Confessions of a Crap Artist

The binge has begun.
I read "Confessions of a Crap Artist" by Philip K. Dick.  The whole thing.  It was not what I expected.  Certainly not PA or even sci-fi.  It's the story of a man who collects junk, hoards newspapers, hatches crazy ideas, and is unprepared for life in the real world.  Turned out to be just as much a story about his sister and her husband.  It started slowly, but once I got through the first hundred pages or so, I couldn't put it down.  The hooks were in me.  I needed to know what happened to the characters.  At midnight I saw I only had fifty or sixty pages to go, so I said "what the hell" and just finished it.
Mr. Dick does everything I don't do.  Lays out detailed characters in first person.  Gets deep into psychology and philosophy.  Dissects human relationships.  I'm just a simple guy with a bird who likes eyeballs.
I got two of his books from the library and need to get something to read next weekend.
Next up: "A Scanner Darkly".

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Admit I Have a Problem

I have a bad habit.  I'm a binge reader.  When I read, I read way too much.  I don't do anything else.  I chew up pages all day.  I've read a 400 page book in one sitting.  Last vacation I took, I read 3000 pages.  I have a problem and I admit it.
So I haven't read much over the last year or so.  If I did, I'd have never written anything, would never have spent time with my wife, walked my dog, played with my son, petted my cat, or gone to work.
But I need to read.  I need it bad.  Real bad, man.  There are post-apocalyptic classics I need to read, books by my friend Kim Culbertson I need to get to, and I really should re-read The Book of Revaltions.  Yes, tell my mother I just said that I need to read the Bible.
What great stuff should I be reading?  "Day of the Triffids"?  "Omega Man"?  I want to read a lot of PA stuff, but also just a lot of stuff.  For about a month or so, I'm going off.
And then I promise, once my page-lust has been satisfied, I'll get back to work on "Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere" and some children's books with my wife/illustrator.  Perhaps "Super Flying Baby" or "The Zloby and Oli Detective Agency".  But until then, I need a hit, I need a dose, I need a Megablast.
I need your help.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Auntie's Books Community Read

Sunday, April 17th, as part of Spokane's "Get Lit" festival, I will be reading at Auntie's Books.  They are having an open reading for all local writers.  1-3pm. 402 West Main, downtown Spokane.
I love to read this work out loud.  If anyone else knows of a good place and time to do a reading, please let me know.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

First Sale

An amazing feeling.  My first real money sale. I've given some digital copies away to friends and family, but someone paid for one through Smashwords a day and a half after release. Maybe it will be the only sale, but I've never been so excited about $3.09.

Monday, April 4, 2011

It's Ready Early

I couldn't wait.  I spent all weekend reading, re-reading, counting lines, counting syllables, and re-working the cover.  I actually found and corrected at least 40 lines in my rough draft that were 9 or 11 syllables.  Biggest headache of the entire project.

Can you find the 9 syllable line in the First Forty Lines at the top of the blog?  Be the first to tell me which one and you get a free copy.

Go to my Smashwords page to purchase yours.  And if you do, please review.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Would have been Embarrassing

Looking at the text for one of the last times before I submit to Smashwords, I found that the 41st stanza only had nine lines.  No wonder that one never felt right to me.  Mortifying.  Almost ended up with only 9,990 syllables.

I have already re-counted and yes, there are 1000 lines.  I will be counting the syllables tomorrow.  Ten at a time.  Can't wait.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

First Forty Lines

Eleven days left. I've included the first forty lines on my website. Only 960 more to read. Once I'm finished with all this editing, marketing, and designing I can get back to work on part 2: "On the Road From Nowhere".

Have you seen my card?

Thank you all for your interest. Please participate in the survey. You can post or e-mail me more detailed answers.