Tag Archives: fiction

Enter If You Dare.

3 Nov

JoylandJoyland by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On the one hand it is a bit crime novel with just enough supernatural elements to sign King’s name to it. Primarily, it is what S.K. has always done best in my estimation. It is nostalgia. It is a shot of youth with a chaser of regret. The bitter taste of regret doesn’t ruin the sweet of looking back on that one big summer when we put away childish things. It is bittersweet but mostly sweet. If ‘The Body’ was King’s remembrance of adolescence then ‘Joyland‘ was his sweet coming of age for the next chapter and the transition from adolescence to being a young adult.

My two favorite quotes from the book are these:

“When you’re twenty-one, life is a roadmap. It’s only when you get to be twenty-five or so that you begin to suspect that you’ve been looking at the map upside down, and not until you’re forty are you entirely sure. By the time you’re sixty, take it from me, you’re fucking lost.”

As a man approaching forty, I still feel most days like the boys in ‘The Body’ and sometimes on good days like Dev in ‘Joyland’ having his last summer. Now, I am entering into Autumn…or it feels like it when I am slathering on the Ben Gay and getting my park buttoned down for winter. I may have another twenty years before I realize how lost I really am but I am pretty sure that I was holding the map upside down the whole damn time.

” When it comes to the past, everyone writes fiction.”

Wistful remembrances and nostalgia are the thing that I think King does even better than horror and cheap scares. He knows we are all rubes on the ride of life. We may learn ‘the talk’ one summer when we are young and we forget most of it…but still as we move on, there is a part of us that is always ‘carny’ and we carry that part with us to the grave and beyond maybe if there is such a thing…and I am really NOT so sure. There are no second acts but it is best not to think too much about that while we are in the midst of our first.

One last quote and comment,

“The last good time always comes, and when you see the darkness creeping toward you, you hold on to what was bright and good. You hold on for dear life.”

King isn’t as young as he once was and neither is this reader. ‘Joyland’ has the cover of a pulpy crime novel but the wise man said not to judge a book thus. It isn’t a spook book either. There is never any doubt that the protagonist survived his summer at ‘Joyland’ and lived on with a few scars to show. Maybe it is just me (I know it isn’t…) but as the date creeps on and the calendar pages fly by and we are left wondering how long until our last good times come, we hold to what is bright and good. To me sometimes that is a yellowed paperback tucked in your pocket as you watch the leaves rustle in October and think back on the summer that just passed (and all of those summers) and…remember.

And smile.

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A little Rx from the Good Dr. Hunter S.

7 Oct

 

“As things stand now, I am going to be a writer. I’m not sure that I’m going to be a good one or even a self-supporting one, but until the dark thumb of fate presses me to the dust and says, ‘you are nothing’, I will be a writer.” – Hunter S. Thompson

 

How the Dr. cures writer’s block! Write. Edit. Reload.

I don’t have anything amazing to share this Sunday. I am behind schedule on the novel. A lot of what I have written is going back and meshing with some “plan of attack” novel planning. I am considering NaNoWriMo? Any advice? Is it helpful or poison to a new novel. I think it was Hemingway who said, “Sometimes you just have to sit down and write the damned thing!” If he didn’t say it (and I have no reason but hero worship and an active imagination to attribute it to him) then maybe the good doctor did. In any case, I have nothing to update except that  I am taking it all back to step one. Hopefully, next Sunday will be a real true update about “The Novel”. Until then let’s chat about Thompson, tommy guns and NaNoWriMo as a laxative to the mental block.  Hit me in the comments. Tell me to make something more of these posts lately and to stop blaming my dreaded day job for not having time to be so “very novel”.

 

No, I have NOT been drinking…it is the wee hours of Sunday morning, my goodness…you crazy bloggers!

English: Hunter S. Thompson, Miami Book Fair I...

English: Hunter S. Thompson, Miami Book Fair International, 1988 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Am I the only one that misses the mad doctor?

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Excelsior. Peace Out.

 

Hell Followed After (PG-13 / NSFW)

19 Sep
Cowboy Filler

Cowboys (Photo credit: Clifford Horn)

Lightning streaked across the darkened sky above the solemn group of hard-faced men. Morris, standing at the head of the grave, read passages from his worn black bible. The Zachary brothers, dressed in long black coats, stood at either side  of the wooden casket holding the end of the line of rope ran underneath. Adam stood at the foot of the gaping black hole they intended to put his brother in. Deke was in the box. Slowly, they moved the coffin over the grave and began to lower it. Two grizzled fingers appeared at the side of the lid and slid it to the side where it toppled away into the earth. Deke’s hand reached out and up towards the men.

“I’M COMING BACK.”

Adam stumbled back. He could not tear his eyes off the black beads in his brother’s sockets. The Zachary’s suddenly dropped the rope sending the casket into the endless dark of the grave. The old man, Morris staggered, slack with fear to his knees. He clutched that black book to his chest. The clothes of the men were covered in smears of crimson from open wounds through their torsos or about their necks. One of those boys was missing an arm at the elbow now and it drizzled blood. The youngest Zachary boy was missing a jaw and his teeth were stained the color of dried blood. They turned at once toward Morris. They set their black eyes on him and sprang on him like ravished coyotes. Adam reached for his long barreled .45 as he stepped away from the gruesome gnawing and splattering scene.

Suddenly, Adam sprang upright in bed. His eyes struggled with the shadows and the weak white moon scarred the floor with small rivers of light. It wasn’t enough light to really see by but just enough to remind Adam there were places less dark than the shack he was in now. He reckoned that it had all been a dream. It was getting harder to tell the reoccurring nightmares that were frequent visitors now from the frightening reality of what had happened since they had done what they done to that Cherokee woman.

Adam tried to push the memory from his mind’s eye. They had caught that woman unawares, washing her clothes in a stream that bordered the pastures they had been working for their boss. It started harmlessly enough. Them two younger Zachary boys were just teasing her and Adam thought it wasn’t more than a little horseplay. Then she had to take a hand to one of them and that’s when Adam knew what she had coming. Them boys had her held to the ground before long. They looked to Deke before they did any more. He nodded and pulled his shirt up over his head and threw it to the ground in the dark red mud of the creek’s bank. She wasn’t young but she was real delicate and pretty like a pressed flower or a pinned butterfly. She didn’t scream but even if she did no one would have heard her but the gang. She held so much fear and hatred in her eyes and whispered weakly words none of them knew over and over. It angered Deke and he tried to muffle her mumbling with his hand but she bit him hard enough to draw blood. She kept on whispering as Deke shook his hand in pain. He formed a fist and pounded it into her face, breaking skin and crushing bone. Deke’s hand was coated in both of their blood. She kept on whispering through broken teeth and swelled lips. Deke hit her again and now she spoke no more words. The boys all took a turn on her. Morris and Adam stood and stared choosing not to take part in the violence though doing nothing to stop it. It wasn’t the first woman they had raped. It wasn’t the first Indian they had killed.

Adam shook away the memory. He stared across the room towards Deke. He was a mound of grey flesh on the other bunk on the opposite wall. It was too cold to do right by his brother and bury him. Adam had let him rest where he was. He had even pushed his eyelids closed like he was sleeping. If he didn’t think too hard on it maybe he could just pretend that’s all it was. His brother would wake up and they would both shrug off all these nightmares. His brother would come back. They could go on as they always had.

Deke was a real bastard. He was a murderer and a horse thief. He was also his older brother. It was Deke who took care of him after that whore that gave them birth died. It was his brother, Deke who took beatings in his place when their pa came home with a mean drunk on. It was Deke who kept that man from ever hurting them again. It was Deke who battered that Cherokee’s body unrecognizable. He was the one who left her broken body in that fast running creek..Deke took to drinking like he would . He left that ex-preacher, Morris shot and slumped against a tree a few days after the murder of the woman. That was what happened if you chose to speak up to Deke.  If any of them was responsible for what came next then… It was Deke.

One by one they had all got sick like a fever. Sweats and so much pain in their bellies like being gut shot. All but Adam had caught it and one by one they all had died of it. Even Deke had gave in at the last to the sickness. So he laid now in the room with Adam just as cold and dead as they had left her in that riverbank.

Adam swung his legs over the side of the bed. The tender part of his foot touched a sharp rock. He shook of the chill that assaulted his sweat-soaked body. It was dead cold. The ground was hardened and cold as he found his pants there and stepped into them. He pulled on some long socks drying across the stove and then put them into his boots. He grabbed a bottle out of his satchel and took a swig of the rotgut whiskey inside. He dragged a chair across the dirt floor and near Deke’s bed. He took a quick inventory of what was left. He had a shovel near the door. He had brought in the wood ax and set it near a big pile of lumber. He had a hammer. There weren’t much else of any use.

He had that old preacher’s battered black book. The gilded pages were torn loose from their binding and covered in gore. Adam was tempted to open it but he knew the hypocrisy in that. There was no salvation for any of them. They were bad men. They were very bad men. Hell would spit them out.

He pulled his .45 from out of some folded clothes in his bag. There was one shot left.

Peeking out the frosted window, Adam saw large black birds sitting in the trees. A nauseating smell wafted in on the cold north wind. Adam could see the signs. They were coming back.

He lit a kerosene lamp and several candles. He grabbed the hammer and began to board over the door and the windows. His eyes fell on Deke’s body. It was a mistake to lock himself inside with him but it was his brother. He would finish the job.

Adam blew out the kerosene lamp and began to douse the beds and the rest of the house.

He waited.

It was just before morning when he heard the yipping and yowling. Bodies rushing from out of the brush around the bunkhouse. The boards began to shake. Kicking and screaming were just outside the door.

One shot. That had to be enough.

Deke’s body began to tremble like a patient in a fever. His chest quaked. His head turned quickly back and forth then towards Adam. The lids flipped open and two pupils like ebony beads met Adam’s eyes.

The candle turned over into the kerosene. A single shot rang out.

Deke came back.

…and Hell followed after.

Cowboy Zombie

Cowboy Zombie (Photo credit: Visceral e Insolúvel)

“The Novel”-The Author

21 Aug

So, here’s my first official “The Novel” post in this blog. Let’s just cut to the guts of it.

Who…

I’m a thirty-seven year old male, a freelance writer, and a now a blogger. My life so far has seen me try many occupations. I have worked in a mail room, cooked pizzas for a fast food delivery place, done door-to-door political canvassing, been a tutor at a junior college, and worked my way from the kid who dipped fish out of the aquarium tanks with a net to assistant manager of a big-box retail store.

Where…

I live in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. That’s right, I’m an “Okie”. I have lived in this state for the last few decades. Before that I had the opportunity to live in many other states in the US and also in Italy. I spent some time in Germany as well. I have lived here long enough to call myself an “Okie”. I might not be native but transplanted and adopted into the southwest state that’s shaped like a pan.

Why…

Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to write novels. I remember sitting in my bedroom at the age of seven with a notebook and a pencil creating the further adventures of my favorite comic characters. I illustrated them as well. Let’s be upfront, I was much better at writing the stories than drawing the characters. I would rush to my where my dad sit reading yellowed pulp novels and demanded he read my comics and stories. I am not sure how long they sat around before my mother threw them in a trash bin or used them as scrap paper for grocery lists.

My next attempt was as a teenager, this time a horror novel. I wrote a whole chapter that time before showing it to my father. Dad took the red pen to it and I took the criticism hard and tore it to pieces in private.

And so it went on. Over the years, I have had hundreds of great ideas. Dozens of them would hit paper but finishing seemed too daunting. I had a drawer full of less than half-started novels.

A few years ago I came close to finishing one. Thanks to NaNoWriMo.  I don’t mind saying that it was pretty damn good for a first draft. So what happened? Fear happened. I was so afraid to show it to anyone else that it sat on my hard drive without anyone reading a word of it but myself. My early experiences with criticism convinced me to keep it hidden away. Until, the day that my hard drive was lost on that laptop and the one completed novel was gone.

Until the summer of 2012. I don’t know what triggered it, but one evening I sat down to write about an idea that had been fermenting for a long time. It was an idea that had come to me in a dream (no, really…) several years ago and I had tossed it around upstairs. I had even written lots of little notes about it on the backs of envelopes, receipts, in notebooks and on my laptop. The story and the character captured me immediately. I was prisoner now to this idea.The words flowed effortlessly but I realized I wasn’t at this point writing a novel. I had lots of good scenes but the connection between them escaped me. Did it happen again? Was it three months completely wasted?

No.

I decided to begin again from the very first step. I would start with planning my novel. I could use these ideas, characters and scenes but connect them with a solid plan.

So, I am creating a journal of my experience from planning to hopefully publishing and promoting my novel. It is “The Novel” for now, a title will come later. I will periodically post here about the development of this novel, and this will add an extra incentive to my novel writing process as I will know that there will be another set of eyes on my progress.

Just for your information, I will post current word count with every “The Novel” blog entry. That will be in the form of the Word Processor count (wp).  Any comments of encouragement along the way or questions about that particular topic would be gratefully received.

The novel writing process begins (again) now.

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