Staycation Writing Diary: Day Five & Six


oops, missed a day. I did write another scene yesterday, and I hope to today. A scene a day is good, ya? anyway I had an excuse for skipping a blog day. Yesterday was awesome for two writers I LOVE: Erin Fitzgerald and Mike Meginnis. First, Outpost19 announced that they are kicking off their novella series with Erin’s valletta78. Second, the kindle version of Mike’s novel, Fat Man and Little Boy, cracked the Top 100 paid list. So–both events are picmonkey worthy: vallettafm I was privileged to read Erin’s novella in its draft form, and I PROMISE you will love it. Let’s just say it hits you in your cruddy little interweb heartlap.  I think the release date will be in December. Mike is the Ed in Chief of Uncanny Valley Press, he not only published my collection Curio, he illustrated it as well. FMLB is a stunning, prize-winning work of historical magical realism, and it’s wonderful to see that it’s enjoying a long life on the charts.

Staycation Writing Diary: Day Four


choices, choices. we’re eating at Damian Heath’s Lot 12 Public House tonight as the last event of Dean’s birthday week. We’ve purchased several creations by Heath’s parents, both of whom are local artists, so it seems right to try his food, especially since he’s becoming pretty famous.

We don’t take pictures of our meals (we get caught up in the excitement and forget), so here is a peek at the season’s entrees. I’m leaning towards the scallops or pasta. Dean will likely go for the shrimp & grits.

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Today’s writing moved into a new and especially challenging section of the novel that involves going back in time to to when my victims were still alive. That’s definitely my weakness as a wannabe crime writer–I tend to objectify the victims in my drafting process, when I should really get closer to them.

I had not expected diversion, and it wreaks havoc with the structure I imagined, but the time is right to take the story–which has so far been controlled by amoral forces– to a different emotionality.



Staycation Writing Diary: Day Three


We’ve changed scenery. We’re at the cabin in WV. Mind you this is not cheating; it’s still a staycation if you own the property. I think. And we are not alone. The gypsy moths got here first. Here they are lined up on the shed door in their little sleeping bags: IMG_0374 And yes, I wrote–doesn’t seem like it was good scene, but it was an important one.

Late added thought–I see that I’m logging scenes, not pages. That makes sense. Scene built fiction is my new religion.

Staycation Writing Diary: Day Two


New roof was installed yesterday. Dead bees are falling out of the attic into my home office today.

There’s anew bagger at our grocery store. Tag says his name is Larry. He caressed our Klondike bars like the package was a dying cat. Larry’s got “management” written all over him.

I got FOUR scenes out of the one I thought i’d need to split in two. Chicago, rain, haunted hotel, etc. Plus I’m doing a great job of not answering my work email. Not doing as well at avoiding games or FB.

I’m nowhere near the end of the ms. I don’t know what the ending is going to be, either, but a friend just posted a Q on FB–possibly a facetious Q–asking whether anyone knew of any good essays or books about writing decent endings. Wow, what a question. Going to be worrying about that one for a while.

me today. publisher meeting online tonight. it’s good, it’s good.

Photo on 5-19-15 at 8.30 PM

Staycation Writing Diary: Day One


The spring semester is OVER, which means I get a couple of weeks to myself. I have a goal of finishing the current novel project before summer ends, and I need these weeks to get back into the groove. Actually, my vacation started last Friday, but I spent the weekend on stalling activities like buying a yard sale rug for my home office, joining Sisters in Crime, and then deciding my friend needed to join, too. That sort of thing. Today should have been REAL DEAL DAY 1 (and it might still happen), but we had a new roof installed. So, hammering and barking all day. And now this blog entry.

I have a great scene to work on, because it needs to be turned into at least two scenes. The original scene was fun because it was set in a creepy Chicago hotel I know, but now it looks like I’ll have to take my characters from the hotel to Loyola’s Signal Transduction Institute–a place and field of research I know zip about.



image by cybertory

I am not superstitious, but character names and occupations come quickly to me, and I try not to mess with them. In this case, I wanted the new character to have an impressive affiliation, but the context was very cocktail party: “Dr. Blackwell is with the Signal Transduction Institute”–but, as with all draft details I plop in for casual ornamentation, this one came back to bite me. And quickly, too.

Finding 2003


I’m working on a short story that is due by June 1, so I decided to amplify an old story–now out of print–to see if I could solve the unsolved mystery at its center. As I’m working through it I remember that this story, along with two others that I’ve published, came from a novel project that I abandoned, about the children of a famous cartoonist who turned them into characters for his most famous strip, and how they grew up to be very dark adults implicated in several gruesome killings.

I thought I had lost that ms long ago, and up until today I didn’t much care. As I recalled, it was a mess and only half done. No biggie. So I’m cleaning my desk today and I come across several scratched, cryptically labeled (if at all) cds:


Like any proper writer looking for a distraction, I went through them. Almost half are bootlegged episodes of The West Wing. Some are music files and vacation pics. One is that damned lost novel.

There are 17 clearly labeled chapters. 10 others not labeled so they appear in alpha order. There is a really detailed outline–but no ending.

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The plot is insanely complicated, and when I dump it all into Scrivener, it tells me I have 90k words. The files are all dated 05/23/03, when I saved them and never loaded them onto the next computer. That must have been the last time I looked at those words.

So what was happening in 2003 that I turned my back on this book? I don’r remember, but I do know I turned 40 that January. I had also started publishing flash fiction, and I was getting attention for it.

Reading these chapters now, I’m very excited. The words are good, even if the story is dumb. (I can work with dumb). And by good, I mean slick. Cheesy even, but in a way I find really readable.Back then I was working hard to stay out of my own way, looks like:

Seated at the long table were two other detectives whom Srivastiva introduced as Jeggs and Danich, white-guy dicks out of central casting. Both were square headed and bloated with red rimmed eyes. Jeggs’ combover was only little fuller and darker than Danich’s. Both were aggressive drinkers–you could see that in the soapy pink heat of their complexions. Two hours from now, Parker wouldn’t be able to pick either man out of a line up if he had to. Like Srivastiva, Danich and Jeggs wore suit coats defeated by perspiration and over-wear, and all together the three detectives looked like they were in the middle of an investigator’s slumber party. 

The air was rank with old coffee and arguments.

I’ll probably regret going back in time like this, but right now it feels like Christmas.