Sample Saturday: “It Happened in Memphis”

It Happened in MemphisToday’s snippet is from the title tale in my work-in-progress short fiction collection.  I hope you’ll enjoy this peep into It Happened in Memphis. As always, the final draft may look a little different.


“Lina, how about if I take you next door to Dell Taylor’s place? I’ll buy you somethin’ to drink and you can hear my record on the juke box. It’s only been out three days and I’m real proud of it.”

“I’ll bet you ain’t got but two bits in your pocket, Jerry Lee,” Carl said, taking another drink from his flask. “What are you going to do, buy her an RC cola and a Moon Pie?”

Jerry Lee dug into the pocket of his slacks and hauled out some change. “That is every word of a lie, Perkins. I happen to have six bits in my pocket, which is more than enough to get Miss Lina a chocolate milkshake if that’s what she wants, and to play my record for her.”

“That won’t leave you much, will it?”

“No one said I was planning to eat. Now, where’s your coat, baby doll?”

“I don’t have anything but this sweater.”

“That’s all right. You can wear mine. We’re not going far.”

 

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Weekend Reads: “A Dog’s Way Home”

A Dog's Way HomeA Dog’s Way Home by W. Bruce Cameron

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Lucas Ryan starts feeding the stray cats at a condemned apartment complex across the street from him, he has no idea that Mother Cat has taken in a puppy. That puppy is Bella, who eventually comes to live with Ryan and his mother, a veteran suffering from PTSD.

Lucas runs afoul of the local developer, who wants to tear the building down and build a high rise … but Lucas is determined to protect the cats and get them into rescue — particularly because the developer has taken many of the cats out and had them euthanized. The developer tells the local animal control officer that Bella is a dangerous pit bull — a breed banned in their locality.

Eventually, Bella is taken to live in a town some 400 miles away … and she makes a break for it in a manner reminiscent of “Lassie Come-Home.” Along the way she befriends a cougar cub (“Big Kitten”) whose mother is killed by a poacher, is taken in by a young gay couple for a time, and more.

The tale is told from Bella’s perspective in a way that is charming, enjoyable and yes, poignant. Highly recommended.

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You Don’t Have to Love Your Day Job

You Don’t Have to Love Your Day Job

I was really struggling emotionally when I went to work at an extremely mundane job after the newspaper where I had been editor-in-chief closed. A colleague from another paper took me out to lunch and told me about how much he had hated teaching journalism when he wanted to be out doing it. He then gave me the words of wisdom that came to him one day while he was getting dressed: “Your job is not your life; it is the subsidy for your life.” I was so entangled in “I am a newspaper editor,” which is the job for which I had aimed my entire career, that I didn’t know how to remember that I was a writer first and foremost.

This blog article contains some excellent advice for us as authors with day jobs (which is how I now define myself).

Novelty Revisions

I used to dream about what it would be like to live like a “real” writer.

I assumed I’d be able to get a writing job I loved right out of college, if I worked hard enough as a student, gained the right experience, and proved I deserved it.

But here’s the thing about jobs: They’re hard, and they aren’t always fun. Even when writing is involved.

And that’s the case for any day job. I think it’s safe to assume the majority of adults don’t enjoy going to work. They do it because they have to.

That doesn’t mean all of these people are miserable. Many — especially creatives — likely have something worthwhile to come home to. A hobby … like writing for fun.

There’s one thing no one ever told me growing up that I wish I’d heard daily.

You do not have to love your day…

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Frequently Asked Question: What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

insecure2bwriters2bsupport2bgroup2bbadgeToday’s question comes courtesy of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

I think we need to define our terms first, wouldn’t you agree? Here’s what Dictionary.com says about the word “ultimate.”

ultimate

[uhl-tuh-mit]

adjective

  1. last; furthest or farthest; ending a process or series: the ultimate point in a journey; the ultimate style in hats.
  2. maximum; decisive; conclusive: the ultimate authority; the ultimate weapon.
  3. highest; not subsidiary: ultimate goal in life.

Here’s the thing: there’s no good answer for me. When it came to my first novel, In The Eye of The Beholder, I started with a short story.  That was all.  I was writing for my own pleasure.  And then the story wouldn’t be quiet.  It evolved into a novel. Then, my goal became to publish it.  The paperback edition was traditionally published in the US and the UK before the rights reverted to me.  I did the eBook myself.

Then, when a rock club I used to frequent was being not just shuttered but torn down, I wanted to write about my experiences in the music business.  That became Music, Mayhem, and Bad Decisions (under its original title, You Had to Be There).

The thing is, I think writing goals are mutable.  Take It Happened in Memphis and Other Stories as an example; I worked on that project for an entire year before deciding it needed to be repurposed in its entirety. Let’s face it; as authors, we know when we’ve missed the mark.  My original goal was to publish it as a collection of short fiction, but it’s too disjointed.  So, now the goal is different. I’m tweaking two of the stories, “Ghosts of Tupelo” and “Last Stop: Storyville,” for submission to Dan Alatorre’s latest WordWeavers competition.  I’ll figure out what to do with the others as I go; some will be discarded for the time being, and a much smaller collection is likely to be set up as an eBook at some point.

So, there you have it. I don’t have one ultimate, overarching goal.