Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 30: Winning

I won.

I got everything I wanted out of this.

More blog hits in August than any other three months combined.

Considerably more comments and feedback.

Tripled my Twitter followers.

But that and $3 will get me a parking spot at work.

Time to get back to the grindstone.  Cathartes Aura 3 has stalled, but I needed a break from that.  And I have two months to finish my submission for Pavarti K. Tyler's Penny-A-Page Erotica.

Will be a busy next sixty days for this boy.

But I need deadlines.  This whole thing got started when my wife said: "You've been talking about this long enough.  Finish it this year and I'll illustrate the cover for you."

What I really need to finish is the David Priest novel.  Thousand line poems are the sort of things most appreciated when the author's been dead a century.  People buy novels from living people.

It's been a blast.  I'll be posting weekly preview stanzas of CA3, so stay tuned.

I'll leave you with my favorite 10x10:

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.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 29: Masquerade

I wondered how this prompt would lead to my own project.  Then I thought: "Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allen Poe.

An apocalyptic classic.  A plague rages through the country, so a wealthy and eccentric prince gathers a thousand friends together in one of his castles with much food, wine and entertainment.

A few of my favorite themes come up, which I either got from reading Poe or from reading writers who learned it from Poe.

In the face of disaster, the wealthy will try to hide away and ignore the agony of the masses.

Those who can will party hard for tomorrow they may die.

Poe completely builds his own vibrant setting: a suite of seven rooms each decorated with a color theme with matching windows.

I don't remember the quote exactly, but Poe said that every element of a short story should work to create a mood and theme.

And though you may weld shut the doors with "furnaces and massy hammers" death will find us all.

A great resource for all things apocalyptic, my man Megaton:

The Masque of the Red Death

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 28: Frog

Not even sure what to say about this, but frogs eat each other all the time.  When dozens of frogs hatch simultaneously, the largest and strongest eat the others.

I always look into the human equivalent of animal behavior.  And the animal equivalent of human behavior.  We're only a little more advanced than they, scarcely more civilized and often more brutal.

I'm fascinated by chimpanzee society.  When a female chimp goes into estrus, every mature male mates with her.  When she gives birth, no one knows which male is the father, so all children are loved and protected equally.

The opposite is true of lion society.  When a young male overpowers an older male and takes over his harem, he kills every cub.  The females immediately go into estrus.  The new alpha male mates with every female and knows each new cub is his.  The old line is snuffed out.

I think both of these behaviors play out in post-apocalyptic human society.

What's to be done with this idea of frog cannibalism?  Will the strongest people consume the weak to maintain their strength?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 27: History

Destroying the world is hard.

Even fictitiously.

Plague.  Nuclear war.  Mayan calendar.  Global warming.  Aliens.  Zombies.

Once you've picked that, you must lay out a world history so it all makes sense.

Then some brainiac says: "That's not plausible for this reason!"

The whole thing falls apart because you're not a real cultural anthropologist and physicist and historian.

But you know what works?  Use a narrator who doesn't know any better and just reports without bias the bits and pieces of shared stories from the survivors.  Still need a plausible disaster, but you let the reader fill in the blanks his or her own way.

Oh, I know what happened, but I'm only leaking it in little drips and splatters.

I use lots of campfire chat.  I also believe when a global cataclysm strikes, no one will know the whole story.  Most people will apply their limited knowledge and experience to lots of paranoia and fear, ending up with a mostly false but very satisfying story.

Back to my feelings on omniscient third-person narration: novels that begin with an in-depth explanation of everything that happened across the world that lead us to this cataclysm strike me as unnatural.

Plus, it's hard.

Always ecstatic or angered. One day
Gives lobster and champagne to everyone
Saying: ‘This is the end. Lets go out strong.’
Next day sells K rations, antivirals,
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, get fat on trout.
Changed my voicemail greeting to: ‘I quit, Tweak.’
Took my ass and his best whiskey hiking.”

From Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere, Chapter Seven, Verse Ten.

Blog Flash 2012, August 26: Seeing

Point of view is a humongous decision for writers.

I've never been a fan of the third-person omniscient, where the reader observes every thought of every character.  It's unnatural.

I prefer an observant first-person or a detached third-person.  I like to see emotion and motivation through the movements of characters.  The little things they do or don't do.  How they react.  Show me, don't tell me, what they think.

I'm a people watcher, professionally and personally.

I love to sit on a park bench, watch the world go by and take guesses at what people will do.  Will they greet with a kiss or a handshake?  Will he turn to look at that woman's ass after she passes?

As a bartender, people watching is essential to customer service.  Do you look like you're in a hurry or are you finally taking it slow after a hard day's work?  You said your meal was fine, but are you pushing it around the plate and just too polite to say you don't like it?

And of course: how drunk is that guy?

Good writing is about delivering the little details of body language that reveal character.

Keep your eyes open.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 25: Blue

I like the bright side of the apocalypse: opportunity and rebirth.  For better or worse, what you were and what you had are gone.

Time to start over.

Joe packed his bug-out-mobile with the necessary gear, food and seeds to survive and rebuild.

And he brought an acoustic guitar.  Not because he can play it, but because he always wanted to learn.

Out on the road alone, who will hear your fingers stumble over strings or your voice crack?

And what better reason to sing the blues?  Your whole world just fell apart.

He blows a smoke ring at a passing jay,
Takes a cold sip, and clears his throat: “How long?
How long’s the road I am travelin’ on?”
Eyes closed, sprawled in the bucket seat. “How long
Before anyone hears my little song?”
A glint in the trees, unseen. Dressed in fleece
Brown and green, hair hanging around his face,
A man perched on a branch with field-glasses
Scratches his beard and studies the forest,
The road, the camels, the candy Jaguar.

From Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere, Chapter One, Verse Ten.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 24: In the Woods

The post-apocalypse will test whether or not the skills you've learned still matter.

Stock broker?  Not so much.  Farmer?  Definitely. Carpenter?  Sure.  Executive?  Not really.

Your world may turn into a full-time camping trip.  Those prepared to rough it will have an advantage.

A tent, sleeping bag, fishing pole, backpack and a good set of boots attached to strong legs will all be useful.

Ability to start a fire and cook over it will be handy.

Actually being at peace with such a simple lifestyle may be the greatest strength.

Going back to the "On Holiday" piece, would life be all that bad if I lived out of a tent on an alpine lake and there was no city at all to return to?

That's my boy Sam, from the CA project, who came home from a backpacking trip to find there was no home.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 23: Cooking

As I've said, my boy Joe won't let an apocalypse get in his way of enjoying himself.  When we do the movie, I get to be Joe.  Otherwise, you can keep your contract.  Enough said.

A proper cast iron pan and a campfire is really all a man needs to make breakfast, if he planned ahead and has powdered milk and eggs with some Tactical Bacon.  Yeah, that stuff exists and you should be filling your basement with it.

Good cooking is all about improvisation.  Use what you got with the methods that are handy.  So far, I've featured spit-roasted fawn, scrounged ramen with fig newtons and warm soda, and beef jerky fried rice.  Coming soon is the recipe for mouse-butt soup.

But the world is yours after a breakfast of scrambled eggs, Tac-Bac, marijuana and reggae.

In a cast-iron pan, he spreads strips of pork
And sets the pan next to the coffee pot.
One last drag. He snuffs the splif on his tongue,
Tucks it in the dashboard ashtray, exhales.
He stirs powdered milk and eggs in his bowl
With more water from the tank in his trunk
As the coffee percs, the bacon crackles
And he bounces to a plucked bass guitar.
The camels groan and snort, shake off their sleep
While nosing through the heather for breakfast.

From Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere, Chapter One, Verse Five.

And you should probably bring some Eighty Six Rub.  Tastes good on everything.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 22: On Holiday

Looking at it in the brightest possible light, the apocalypse is like a vacation.

No more debt.  No more job.  Those people and things you didn't like?  All gone.

All you have to do is eat, drink, find a place to sleep and have fun.

Lots of free beach-front real estate, too.

Long term survival?  Friends and loved ones dead?  Too depressing and scary.

So let's eat, drink, smoke and fornicate for tomorrow we may day.  Probably should have yesterday.

Couldn't we all use at least a little apocalypse?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 21: Night

My dog, Oli, is part husky and isn't fond of hot weather.  He'd rather it be 20 degrees with fresh snow on the ground.

Most of the year, we take a walk and play frisbee in the early afternoon before I go to work.  On hot summer days, he prefers to chase the ball in the backyard and splash in his pool every few minutes.

On my days off, we go walking after dark.  This is when my cat decides it's unfair that only dogs get to go for walks.  She'll follow us.  The first time she did she scared the hell out of my by stalking us for ten minutes before sprinting past me in the dark.

Her name is Zloby, which means "she is naughty" in Czech.  Somehow I knew.

And for no reason other than I'm proud of it, another chunk of Cathartes:

Joe drains his cup, rises, shakes off his dream.
He sets in front of Bodhi a cracker
With salmon and cheese. He looks up, wags once
But stays at his post like a stone lion.
Gripping the shotgun, Joe takes one more lap
On soft feet through the brightness and shadows.
I am no owl and certainly no bat.
I nestle low in the top of a fir
As the frogs court each other, the crickets
Rub wings and the owls creep on sleepless mice.

From Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere, Chapter Four, Verse Six.

Blog Flash 2012, August 20: Sports Part 2

What I really meant to post before I mentioned Eighty Six's Writers and Bloggers Fantasy Football League:

I've been writing of the things I've already written about the Cathartes Aura project, the thing I am writing, but not much about the things I will be writing.

Sport will be an integral part of rebuilding human society.  We can't help it.  Returning to a hunting/gathering/agrarian society will be stressful hard work.  People will need ways to unwind.

Lots of alcohol and weed so far in my story with harder drugs to come.  Meth is way too easy to make.

But a social and physical release is sport.  Whenever a group of people spends time together, a game is sure to follow.

In a post-apocalyptic world I foresee table games like cards and dominoes to become everyday.  Also, I think sports that are simple and universal, like soccer, basketball, and baseball, to become organized.  I've already written about a town that settles everything, from territorial disputes to criminal punishment, with one-on-one fights atop a rock.  (Scroll down to "Brawl Atop the Rock")

Get a group of people together and eventually they'll choose a game.  It will pop up in my text soon enough.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 20: Sports

It's football season.

It's fantasy football season.

Most guys I know and some ladies get excited about that.  Quite.

I'm not sure about the writers and bloggers I hang with.

But we're about to find out.

Yahoo Fantasy Football

Go to "Join an Existing League" and use the following info to sign up:

League ID: 627167

Password: 86

Join "Eighty Six's Writers and Bloggers only Fantasy Football League".

It's easier than you might think and I can guide you through it.

It's free so you have nothing to lose.

Having no knowledge of NFL football can be an advantage.  Dudes who think they know a lot about football (myself included) commonly out-smart themselves and make genius moves that fail badly.  If you did not know what a football looked like and used only ESPN's Rankings you could be successful.  We all know #15 should be better than the #20 guy, right?  Using that logic, you can play this game.

It doesn't take much time.  You're already online regularly.  Look at your team before the start of the weekend's games and again at the end of the weekend.  You may change a little or nothing.

It's fun.  Trust me.  And I can't wait to see how the literary community will play this game.

Writers and book bloggers only.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Celebrating Community with Fighting Monkey Press: Family Photo

Our two boys. Matyáš on the left. Almost five months old. Nikolas on the right. Almost three years old.

I can't explain why anyone would want to have a kid, but I know why you should have a second. The first one instantly grows up.

As my wife grew fuller and rounder, I told Nikolas how his life was changing. He no longer would get all his mommy's time. Not even the big half. But he would gain a buddy and experience the joy of helping him grow up.

He had his jealous streak early. Pre-partum. He clung to his mommy and wouldn't let me change his pajamas or do anything if she was around to do it.

I gave him the title "Assistant Birth Coach". He performed admirably: bringing her food, cleaning up and getting his brother's room ready.

Upon Matyáš' birth, Nikolas dropped the clinginess almost completely. He's been a great big brother. Instantly more independent. Enjoying nights out with daddy. Helping his little brother as much as possible. However, I do have to ask him to stop kissing him so much.

I'm the youngest of three, so I don't know, but I suspect only-children never have to make this change. Nikolas knows he's not a baby anymore and is looking upward.

And in case you're curious, that's Mah-tee-ahsh.  A Czech version of Matthias or Matias.

Blog Flash 2012, August 19: Fireworks

I'm a guy.  I love a good explosion.  Bright and noisy.

When a story starts to drag, I've said to myself: "I need to blow something up."

Maybe a bomb.  Maybe a fight.  Maybe a crash of some sort.

Sometimes you just need a bang.

The garage with the vans, trucks, and mowers,
The power-tools, golf-carts, and all the fuel

Explodes like a hammer-blow to the chest.
The wall is breached. Bricks scatter like snowflakes.

Burning tires on rims bounce into the sea
Sizzling as doors, beams, and chassis splash down.
The macaques exploit the gap, dodging flames
And leaping rubble to gain the beachhead.
Without a pause they dive into the waves
To swim after logs, benches and barrels.

From Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo, Chapter Nine, Verse Five.

Celebrating Community with Fighting Monkey Press: Community Togetherness

For Pavarti K Tyler's Community Celebration for Eid al Fitr, a celebration that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.

For today, Pavarti asks: "What does community togetherness mean to you?"

Thursday was easy.  I love food.  I love to cook for friends and family.  Recipe?  No problem.

This is a tough one.

First, "community togetherness" is a bit broad and vague.  Also, my world these days is very weird.

Four and a half years ago, I moved to Spokane to be near my sister and her family.  My wife and I could buy a house here.  We couldn't afford to do that in Seattle.  Since then, we've had two kids and our attention is of course focussed on them.

Then my sister got divorced, moved away from her husband and kids, then everyone moved back west.

I have a very social job as a hotel bartender, but the relationships are rather shallow.  I have buddies I work with, but we rarely hang out outside of work.  I have guests I know on a personal basis, but they never see me sitting down, out of uniform, or without a name-tag.

I've finally entered the 21st century and, as an independent author, do a vast majority of my communication and socialization online.  Many of the people I share words with I would never recognize in person and have never heard their voice.

Yet I have more personal connections with these people online than anyone in my neighborhood.  Somehow, we all are so busy with our own jobs, kids and backyards that I never spend time with the people next door or down the street.

So, community togetherness?  My community is quite small: my wife, two boys, a dog and a cat.  Those are the people that are tremendously important to me.  After that, my parents, sister, niece and nephews I adore and wish I could spend more time with.  A couple good friends.

Already my time is spread thin, so as for the rest of humanity?  If they don't bother me, I won't bother them.

And then we're all playing in the front yard last night, which is more shady than the back yard during the evening.  I take my increasingly curious 4 month old down the block to look at cars and pluck leaves from the trees.  A couple doors down some kids are riding tricycles with their parents watching.  We get to talking.  They're Belarusian and speak a language similar to my wife's native Czech.  My older son rolls up on his trike.  He's bilingual, but too shy to speak.  My neighbor and I get to comparing numbers and other words, discovering than lingually we have a lot in common.

Don't know if I've said anything profound about community togetherness.  Maybe I noted that the neighborhood community is in danger of slipping away as the online community grows.

Yeah, that sounds deep.

I'm as guilty as anyone because not only do I work odd hours compared to most nine-to-fivers, but I'm professionally social.  On my own time I enjoy being left alone.  Now with a wife and kids who need my love and attention (and I need theirs) all-by-myself time is a rare and precious jewel to me.

Blog Flash 2012, August 18: Wild at Heart

What says "wild" more than an angered bull elephant?  The largest land animal on earth is not something you want to be in front of when he's enraged.

With increasing frequency, elephants are pushing back against the encroachment of mankind and intentionally killing humans.

This elephant has been imprisoned by our species and seen us ruin the whole world.

This character will reappear in my series.

Having stood by her cage all day, the bull
Trumpets like a volcano and charges
Out the lobby, down the path, through fences,
Stamping craters in mud, gravel, and sod,
Draped in ivy, chain-link, various bloods
With meat and bone on tusk and underfoot,
Tipping carts and lawn-mowers, smashing glass,
Concrete and bamboo, finally plowing
Through the north gate as a ten yard cedar
Crashes blazing onto the jungle house.

From Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo, Chapter Eight, Verse Ten.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 17: Graveyard

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.” 

From Cathartes Aura at the Last Call Mall, Chapter One, Verse One.

It all starts with a funeral.

Celebrating Community with Fighting Monkey Press: Recipes

The Eighty Six Barbecue Rub

Dried Chilies
2 parts Turbinado Sugar
1 part Salt
1 part Various Seasonings

You will also need:
Jar with a Lid

I like using a food-processor to grind everything into a fine consistency, but if you don't have one, you can use pre-ground chili-powder and/or paprika. How much? Depends on your taste and the heat of your powder.

Step One:
Measure your jar. Find out how many cups it holds and divide that by five. That will be “one part”.

Step Two:
Take the stems from a handful of chilies and grind them in the food processor. I get japones and anchos cheap at my favorite market, so I typically use those, but use what you like. I can't say that I count or measure them. This whole thing will take some experimenting before you get it the way you like. Also, I don't know how hot you like it. I have to dial mine down a little because my family doesn't have my tolerance for capsaicin.

Grind the chilies for a half-minute or so until they've broken into little bits. Take the lid off the food-processor and take a deep whiff. If you have a cold. Or just love to sneeze.

Smoked Pork Loin with Bacon and Wild Rice Stuffing

Step Three:
Add the sugar and give it another spin. The graininess of the sugar will break the chilies down further. I like the turbinado (raw) sugar because it has more flavor than white sugar without the moisture of brown sugar. If you make this with brown sugar, it will clump together.

Step Four:
Add the salt and spin it again. I use kosher salt, sea salt or both. Adjust the amount of salt to your personal taste.

Step Five:
Add the seasonings. Whatever you got. Whatever you like. Onion powder, garlic powder, ginger, cumin, curry, ground black pepper, dry mustard. If you're feeling funky add celery seed, coriander or a tiny bit of anise. Often this portion is a bit larger than the salt portion because I have so many good things I want to put in there. Spin it again.

Step Six:
Take off the lid, being careful of fumes and dust, and give it a taste. It should be intense. It should grab you by the boo-boo. You should get a balance of sweet, salty, spicy and savory. Decide now if you need a little more of any flavor. When it's done, pour it into your jar after stabbing some holes in the lid.

My Pork Spare-Ribs

Step Seven:
Put it on anything. We put this on everything but cereal in my house. Of course, I like this on things I'll barbecue, especially ribs, but that's another post. For tips on barbecue or anything food, ask my cooking guru Alton Brown.

Find more great recipes at the Fighting Monkey Press Celebrating Community Event.

Blog Flash 2012, August 16: Different World

Much respect to the historical fiction authors who can take me back to Victorian England or Cold-War Europe. I can't do that.

So I created my own world. The geography, history and sociology are mine. No one can tell me I didn't do it accurately.

Not to say it's easy. Hard work to build a believable setting that feels real. You still need to understand this world and then fabricate a copy.

From the post-apocalyptic angle, destroying the world, even fictitiously, is hard.

Scientists and physicists will always say: “the virus wouldn't spread like that” or “a man-made bomb couldn't cause a tsunami”.

My turkey vulture narrator isn't only a macabre. He's a cop-out. I don't have to tell the reader what happened completely. I just deliver little clues and bits of dialogue as observed by my boy Cathartes Aura.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 15: Books

My Gorgeous Illustrator and I hope to collaborate on some kids' books if we ever get the time.

Until then, we take the kids to the library often. We check out over a dozen books a week and have learned a few truths about children's books.

Some are visually beautiful to a humbling extent. The “wow, we could never do that” category.
         The Man in the Moon by William Joyce

Others are brilliant but simple. Smart with a clear message and minimalist illustration. The “why didn't we think of that” category.
                       Zero by Kathryn Otoshi

And we found the biggest corporations make the worst books. With few exceptions, Disney, Nickelodeon and Sesame Street make terrible books completely focussed on drilling their characters into kid's heads.

Once read a Sesame Street book of numbers that was so front-loaded with Elmo, Big Bird, and Cookie Monster that they ran out of pages and stopped at seven. The “millions and billions of dollars and you came up with this” category.

Not giving you a link to that.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 14: Children

The post-apocalypse won't be easy on the kids. It's a world for the strong and resourceful. It's an easy place for anyone to die.

So far I have only one juvenile character and I wish her no harm. I don't believe in protecting my characters, however. Everyone is mortal. If I get my readers so attached to a person that it causes them pain to see them go, then I've created something powerful.

Meet Emme, a bright-eyed twelve year old girl who read every book in her small town before it was erased by disease. I don't know where her story goes from here. I hope it's somewhere happy.

Lance looks at every face but Emme's. “'Scuse me?”
From her tippy-toes, she shouts: “Middle name.
Sergeant Gord's middle name. That clear, soldier?”
He lifts his hands high as the chains allow,
Pales and shrugs. “His first name was Bill, I think.
I don't know.” Emme climbs down, paces and smiles.
“So, you and the Sergeant were not close friends.”
She returns to her chair, sits halfway, stops,
Turns with a finger raised. “Just one more thing:
What came first, Private Lance, chicken or egg?”

From Cathartes Aura Part Three, Chapter Two, Verse Five.

(Still working on the title. Any suggestions? Cathartes Aura at the Last Call Mall? Something evoking a clearance sale at the last shopping center on earth.)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 13: Forest

Eternal turquoise water to the west
Curling with foam and crashing on the sand,
Thumping like drums, tossing logs like matches,
Circling the zoo. To the south, charred timber
On each side of the canal and a road
Winding away through a valley. The sky
Spins with gulls, stampedes with charging white clouds.
Herring schools shimmer around the island.
Everywhere else, as far as I can see
Wave after wave of golden evergreens.

From Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo, Chapter 5, Verse 4.

My narrator is a young Turkey Vulture (Cathartes Aura) born in a zoo.

When he escapes from the zoo, he soars around the country reporting what he observes.

He can't tell you what's changed, because he's never seen this place before.

He can't tell you what to feel when you see a forest full of golden evergreens.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 12: Celebration

My first tattoo will be the cover of my first book.

I've known that for a long time.

I imagined a contract and a trip to the parlor with my advance.

Now I've self-published three books, but I need to change the rules.

Putting out an ebook and selling almost nothing doesn't count.

Last quarter marked the first time Amazon and Smashwords sent me money.

High-five me. I earned $24 in nearly a year and a half.

Hardly tattoo money, but I'm on my way.

When I get more dough together, I want my logo stuck on my arm.

I can say: “This guy, right here, branded in ink, is Eighty Six the Poet.”

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 11: Greed

"Coffee's gone." Sal's cup shatters on the rock.
Harald flinches, rubbing his knives over
And over on a stone. "You ready yet?"
With one eye closed and the other squinted
He inspects his edges. "I'm just thinking--"
"Don't think," Sal snaps. Harald buttons his blades
Into their sheathes. "Seems the water's rising
And no one's built an ark." He cracks his neck,
Knuckles and back. Sal dry fires the shotgun.
"But old Noah'd only take one of us."

Harald and Sal pre-date my current Cathartes Aura books.  This was written back when I was building random mounds of post-apocalyptic stuff.

I figured there are three types of people:

People who build.  They bring things and people together.

People who exist, move in, through and out without changing things much.

The greedy who use up and destroy things.  They take what they need right now.  They rob and kill.

Harald and Sal are the third type.  They are goofy and fun to write for, but when they see something they want, they take it.  They are deadly dangerous.

I'm not sure where they will fit into the project.  They may show up in Book 3 or maybe later.  Maybe not at all.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 10: Success

My definition is simple: make enough money writing to quit my job and write full-time.  Then I can work from home, spend more time with my family and live wherever we want.  Like Prague.

Ironic that I'd be a great and prolific writer if I didn't have to spend forty-plus hours a week at my job.

To achieve success, I need to be good, efficient with my time and lucky.

Numerous stories of Oprah saying “I like this book” and the author's life changes forever.

I'm teaching my children that money isn't everything, but need to learn how to earn it and manage it.  Once you've done that, you can do anything you want.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 9: Journey

War and disease have wrecked the world. Those remaining are on the move: from cities that don't exist, to newly vacated real estate, in search of loved ones. Like birds, some are migrating south to warmer weather. Some are getting away from places with too many bad memories. Some are looking for people to victimize.

“What would you do?” is the essential post-apocalyptic question that intrigues me about the genre. I would be mobile, looking for allies, supplies and a stronghold.

What would you do?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 8: Relaxing

My boy Joe, who won't let an apocalypse get in the way of his relaxation.

Trading boots for stingray shoes, he adjusts
His panama hat, checks his reflection
And honks the horn. The camels jerk and grunt
Before leaning into their straps. The car
Soon rolls steady down the black-top. A flute
Plays back-and-forth with a tuba and drum
While he pours a drink and lights a cigar.
Noon shines tall and blue on the solar plates
Mounted hood and trunk. He reclines his seat,
Grins in the mirror and props up his feet.

Chapter Two, Verse Nine

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 7: Sunset

Locked in a cage at the zoo on the day no keepers or tourists showed up.

The feathers crawl up my spine, wings, and neck.
I shiver in the sunlight. No bird moves
As the sun dives, slides purpling from our view.

The light fails. The Twins stare blank at the floor.
Eldest stands stoic in the branches, down
Soft and grey ruffling on her neck, inert
With patience. The hatch does not creak. No meat
Ever falls. Pastels turn to ink and night
Comes complete. Stars twinkle like ice. Echoes
Of hoots and grunts quiet and less quiet.

Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo
Chapter Two, Verse Four

Monday, August 6, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 6: Reading

I don't read. I have, I will, but I don't.

I have time to read or write. I choose to write.

I love to read. I have a BA in literature. I'm a binge reader. Once read 4000 pages in a month. Once read a 400 page book from 10pm to 4am .

On my Goodreads shelf, you'll find 11 books. Three I wrote. Four I read in one month last year. Nothing I read before April 2011.

I don't TBR.

I won't exchange reviews with you. You want me to tell your book it doesn't look fat in those pants.

I do read at least a dozen books a week to my toddler.

Blog Flash 2012, August 5: Frustration

Two tools for writing frustration.

#1 Write Forward.

If you're stuck trying to perfect some diction, a character or a scene, just write forward. Be perfect later.  Skip ahead to a section you're dying to reach or a character that's fun to write. Come back to the rest later. It'll make sense then.

#2 Cross-Over.
Like Jordan, break the ankles of writer's block by juking to another project. I did that yesterday. I'd promised to have Chapter 5 of CA3 done this weekend yet had no idea where to go. I got to work on my “Busy” post. When I got back to CA3, I saw things clearer.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 4: Busy

This is the easy one.

I hate to cry about it, because we're all busy, but damn I'm busy. I bartend full-time to support my wife, baby, and toddler, who also need quality time. The house needs me. My pets. My body needs exercise. And I write.

So time is like cash when you're broke. I don't waste it on crap. I don't chit-chat in social media. I talk serious at Goodreads. I tweet my goals. #tweetisbond  I write focussed, toward the finish-line. I self-market as precise as I can, like flash-blogging with more successful writers.

And I don't read.  More about that on the 6th.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 3: Color

The northern horizon is flashing black,
Red and orange, boiling with inky smoke,
Cremating golden trees by the acre
And the mile.

From “Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo”, Chapter Eight, Verse Two.

Fire. Red scarlet crimson orange tangerine buttercup fire. I can't write about fire anymore. Two chapters, two-hundred lines about fire. Flames, ash, soot, updrafts, thunderous roars, blinding flashes, asphyxiation, spontaneous combustion, trees exploding when super-heated sap expands.

I read first-hand reports of the 1910 Idaho Forest fires. I revisited pictures I took of the Oakland Hills fires of 1991.  I stared at matches.

I didn't want to see a birthday candle or light my grill again, I was so sick of fire.

Thank goodness. The next chapter is all about blue turquoise indigo foaming white water.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 2: A Furry Friend

Val in a stand-off with Sam and Joe, with her Chesapeake Bay Retriever and Executive Assistant, Bodhi.  Named for Bodhidharma, the Indian monk who taught physical and mental discipline to the Shaolin.

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.”

From "Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere", Chapter Four, Verse One.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Blog Flash 2012, August 1: Thinking

I was thinking: what will I do with these post-apocalyptic bits? Scenes, dialogues, random shorts and 10x10s?

The PA fascinates me as a character study. What will you do when this world collapses? Will you be a hero or a villain?

I realized I needed two things if I ever hoped to sweep this clutter into a useful book: a narrator and a beginning. A soaring bird seemed to perfect for watching the human ants struggle to reform. Why not a turkey vulture? And to begin, put that bird in a zoo and have the keepers fail to show up.