The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.

– Junot Diaz

Breeze Through The Middle Of Your Novel

My first attempts at novel length stories were exhilarating and demoralizing.

Exhilarating because I could so clearly envision the beginning and end of the story.

Demoralizing because I could never quite manage to bridge the gap between the two.

Why is it that middles so often become baffling, exhausting, and tedious to get through?

I’ve been actively seeking the answer to that question and here’s what I’ve come up with so far. Continue reading

Character Sketch for SEMPER FI

Following is a background sketch for a story I intend to submit to the DEFYING DOOMSDAY anthology. You can learn more about the fantastic Twelfth Planet Press project HERE.

Never thought I’d be sorry to say goodbye to the Shiloh Valley Veteran’s Hospital. Spent most every day of my eighteen month residence daydreaming about the moment I’d bust out. Always imagined myself hauling ass out the front door and hollering ‘freebird’ until I didn’t have any voice left.

Didn’t quite turn out like that. Reason being the guys thought we should say our ‘goodbyes’ over turkey on rye. When I say ‘the guys’ I mean the Puerto Rican and nobody crosses the Puerto Rican.

So this morning, after I get my walking papers, I head to the cafeteria, hoping for a few moments alone to nut up and get myself in check. But Jimmy McNulty is already in the courtyard holding down a table in the shade. The shade is to protect the Puerto Rican’s healing skin. She arrives shortly after I do and in her wake, comes the final member of our crew, Leonard Kane, his eye bandages covered by sunglasses. Continue reading

Character Sketch for Tenacious


The house is dark and quiet when Margot arrives home after work. She leaves the car in the driveway, skirts the sprinklers on the back lawn, and dumps her jacket and bag on a patio chair.

The wind shifts, chasing damp birch leaves and lilac petals across the cement until they bump into something on the patio, something quiet and patient and warm.

She reaches into her bag for smokes, lights one, and takes a slow drag. “Now that you’ve caught me smoking, I suppose there are no more secrets between us.” Continue reading

Paint Chips and Children

I was lucky enough to have two opportunities to play with words,  paint chips, and children this week.

My grandchildren are used to me toting around paper and pens, telling stories, and hosting group ‘projects’ and ‘experiments.’

Due to the age range – between eighteen months and eight years – I am careful not to burden them with expectations during these impromptu projects.

Let’s face it, Spongebob has a real knack for pulling the rug out from under me. I’ve come to accept that. :)
Continue reading

Character Sketch For The Bestiary



A coyote and an alligator walk into a bar.

     Sounds like the setup to a joke.

          But this is one punch-line you don’t want to stick around for.

Crowd at the Naked Porcupine is riled tonight. Friction echoes between the brick walls and whines down the bar’s copper-topped counter like current on a telephone wire. The place is wet with sweat and booze, sticky and squishy, like everything else in Malady, Louisiana.

Etienne settles onto a worn barstool at the far end of the bar where he can see who comes and goes, tosses back a pair of whiskeys, and nurses a third, waiting. Continue reading