Fiji is Difficult, By Captain Andrew; Edited to Have a Point By the First Mate

Dear Diary: Leslie is a jerk.  She criticizes everything I write.  I just want to record my thoughts of places I go, and it’s not good enough for her.  She said “that isn’t a blog post, it’s a diary.  Do I want her to publish my diary?” But my Diary is a manly Diary.  It doesn’t have one of

Source: Fiji is Difficult, By Captain Andrew; Edited to Have a Point By the First Mate

Carnival and Chess and Boxes of Bees: Politics In America, 2017

This guy can be a potty mouth. And he rambles all over the place. But I think that if you get past that, his article reproduced here is worth a read.

Nobody wants another hot take on yesterday’s marginal-yet-special-yet-still-marginal elections, and yet here I am, with a take as hot as a plate of cold fajita meat. Just the same, I use this…

Source: Carnival and Chess and Boxes of Bees: Politics In America, 2017

It’s a Mystery From Me

For One Month, It Was Real!
For One Month, It Was Real!

The mystery for you this week is, when and where was that picture taken? And, did I have a Squishee?

But what I’m talking about is my latest project, which is a mystery. My protagonist is an FBI agent, who is trying (this is the underneath part) to get back at, if not get, the people who murdered her parents when she was 12. Yes, I always know the backstory of my major characters. Don’t you? Anyway, I’ve never tried a mystery detective story thing before, so I turned, as one does, to a book. In fact, to Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel, by Hallie Ephron. Is it a good book? Well, for a mystery fan, probably not. But if you’re trying to make one up out of your, what is it, fervid, fetid, fetishy, whatever, imagination, it will hold your interest just fine. I do not have the latest edition; the link takes you to the edition that I do have. If you want the latest, and can’t figure out how to get there from where I’ve sent you, then don’t try to write a mystery novel in the first place, okay?

It’s been fun, so far. And this may result in my least messy first draft ever. Not that it won’t need revision, but I appear to be getting better at cutting out superfluous modifiers on the first pass. Even if I publish it myself, it will be a long time in the works, so hold not thy breath. But, it’s what I’m working on. For a while. Oh, but, you’ll love it!

 

Jake and Diana Chapter One

Head ShotThis is an excerpt from the novel Jake and Diana. It’s about 53,000 words all together, and about a couple of kids who fall in love against the odds. It has three POVs. If you like this, let me know. I am seeking beta readers.

 

One

I backed against the wall outside the gym. The bricks poked into me and I scraped my fingers in the cracks. Carlos rubbed his chin with his hand and sneered. “Hey, Chico, how about this guy, eh?”

Chico means teenage boy. Even I knew that. It’s also what Carlos called his right-hand man. His posse was like a gang, except that they didn’t have a name and they didn’t wear colors. But they hung out together and made up ways to bother people.

Chico held a soccer ball. He turned it slowly in his hands. “We can’t let him talk trash about us.”

. I say we show him how we deal with lying putas.” That was the one they called Paco. That might have been his real name. I say that because Chico’s real name is Miguel. That’s what the teachers called him in class. Paco they called Paco.

“You’re real brave when it’s six to one,” I said. I thought my fingertips were bleeding.

“Yeah,” Carlos said as he held a finger under my nose. “Kind of like you were muy bravo when five of you Anglos decided to beat up on Paco last week, huh?”

I raised my hands and shouted, “That wasn’t me and my friends!” It wasn’t. I had no idea who beat up Paco, not that I was sad about it. “And,” I added, “I’m not a whore!”

“Never said you were,” said Paco as he smacked a wad of gum. “There’s worse things than a whore. That’s what I called you.” They all laughed.

“Well,” Carlos moved closer to me, “might as well get started.” His fingers curled into a fist that he pulled back in front of my face.

“Carlos! What are you doing?” Carlos dropped his arm and opened his fist. He looked at the speaker.

Diana? ¿Que? What are you still doing here? Don’t you have, no se, homework to do or something?”

A girl I recognized from Biology class stood a few feet away, clutching a stack of books against her chest and glaring at Carlos. “I stayed late to talk to Mister Ames about math,” she said.

When Carlos spoke to her it was the first time I ever heard her name. Our bio teacher, Ms. Waters, always called her “Miss Mendez.”

Chico tucked the basketball under his arm and faced Carlos. “What, your hermana going to tell you what you can and can’t do now?” Carlos looked at Paco.

“You sure it was him, Paco?”

Paco cracked his gum. “Now that I look at him, maybe not. They all look alike to me!” That got another laugh from the crowd.

“Carlos, if you don’t even know who he is, why hurt him?” the girl asked.

Carlos took a breath. “Mierda! She’s right!” he lowered his fist. “Okay, maybe it wasn’t you,” he said as he poked me in the chest, “but you get your ass out of here anyway, and make sure it never is you, comprende?”

I wanted to tell him what I thought of him, but I also wanted to not get hurt. The odds weren’t very much in my favor, after all. “Okay,” I said. I nodded at his sister and ran most of the way home.

 

The next day at lunch my friends and I sat, as usual, as far from the Fesskin crowd as we could get.

“I can’t believe you didn’t get your ass pounded,” Chris said.

“Turns out they were mad at somebody else.”

“And they believed you?” Cam asked.

“Yeah. They believed me. Why shouldn’t they?”

“Because they’re a bunch of Fesskin wetbacks who just want to cause trouble.”

Chris pointed his index finger at me. “I’d say you got lucky.”

“Why? I told the truth!”

“That Carlos dude has cousins in one of the Fesskin gangs,” Chris explained.

I swallowed. “Oh.” Chris grinned.

I saw Carlos’s sister walking toward our table carrying a lunch tray. She saw me and smiled as she walked up to us.

“I’m glad Carlos decided not to be stupid,” she said.

Cam and Chris looked at me with weird expressions. My face got hot. Even though she was a Fesskin girl, I had to say something. She had maybe saved my life, after all.

“Yeah. Thanks,” I said.

“Happy to help,” she said with a smile and walked off carrying her lunch. I watched her go.

Cam almost shouted. “Sheeeeee-it! That the girl that helped you out?”

“Yeah, buddy, what’s up with that?” Chris asked.

“Yeah. She’s Carlos’s sister. She pretty much told him not to mess me up, and he didn’t.” I looked them right in their eyes. “Is that a problem?”

“No, no problem,” Cam picked up a spoon.

Chris swallowed a bite of meatloaf. “Unless you call getting bailed out by a Fesskin girl a problem.”

I half stood up. “Listen, you weren’t there, okay? I didn’t ask her or anything, she just showed up. And today is the first time I ever said a word to her, okay? Now shut up!” I sat down and stared at my lunch.

Cam made a ‘calm down’ gesture. “Okay. Okay. Take it easy.”

We didn’t talk any more as we finished our lunches, and I didn’t even try to find Cam and Chris for the rest of the day.

 

 

Oops!

This man was playing "Soldier's Joy" on an excursion train near Yosemite National Park, California.
This man was playing “Soldier’s Joy” on an excursion train near Yosemite National Park, California.

Oops! Whatchyoo mean, oops?!? That line, from an old Bill Cosby Routine, sums up what can happen, and does, with publishing. For example, I wrote a PhD dissertation, back in the days of literal cutting and pasting, and when I got it back from the publishers (all dissertations get published, you know,) I discovered that a line of type had fallen off of one of the pages. If you had the ambition to get a copy of the published work, you’d see that the line does not appear. Nobody has ever commented on that fact, by the way, not even my committee.

In fiction, consider this example from someone I follow on Facebook. Dan Gutman writes books for third graders, amongst other things. He has a series called Rappy the Raptor. In one book, Rappy and his family are taken to the hospital by ambulance. At the end, they are shown driving back in their car. Nobody, not Dan, not his editor, not the publisher, noticed that odd fact (and it is odd, because how did that car get to the hospital to pick them up?) An adult reader pointed it out to Dan, who then posted about it on Facebook. Yeah. Grammar, check! Spelling, check! Good story, check! Impossible plot point? Huh?

My point here is that there will always be an “oops” somewhere in whatever you produce. You proofread, hire editors, use all the tools provided by your word processor, and still something is going to go wrong. In my latest incident, I published an anthology of stories by members of the Las Vegas Writers’ Group, using CreateSpace. CreateSpace sent the files over to Kindle Direct Publishing, which then (taa daa) put the book out in Kindle format. Swell. Except that all of the pages got renumbered, and my table of contents isn’t even close any more. Why? I have no idea. I can, and will, fix it. But, you see, an oops!

So, strive for perfection, but don’t expect it. Do all the proofing and checking you can, and be ready for who-knows-what flaws to crawl out of the published woodwork.

And may all of your oopsies by negligible!