Non-sequitur

Image Credit: devansagliani.com

Every once in a blood-filled moon, when someone has a shitty day, they—selfishly—decide to open The Necronomicon, when this happens; comedians become serious and politicians become lousy jokers, sweet and lovable Grandma’s bake babies instead of apple pies. In a topsy-turvy land such as this; all sense of decency is lost and humanity goes down the crapper. Pus oozes from long festering wounds which require spiritual attention. Is it too late? Or is it too soon to declare this black hole, this black night of humanity an irreversible tragedy? Time tick-ticks away as it moves unbroken, in a straight line into an uncertain future. Do not despair, I tell myself over and over again. Do you ever fool yourself into thinking that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel? I only pray to the Gods of the MTA that that light is not a long-delayed C train, or a freight train, sans breaks, coming out of Poughkeepsie.

Though a sharp dresser; “The emperor is naked,” screamed the child.

The existential angst of the 21st Century: is my spouse cheating on me with the help of an app? Will the coward-piece-of-shit mass shooter set it off today? Tonight? When? A collective nervous breakdown went through the psyche of the human species; an invisible wave of pure evil, suddenly we seem to be losing our sense of humanity. Greed is becoming God and delusional hubris came along with the help of social media which seems to be plunging us into a stupor of self-importance, ignorance, insensitivity, arrogance and narcissism. These maladies rule our lives without signs of abating. The Grandiose Farts of the Land rule without regard of what’s in front of them, because God- forbid our bellicose ‘leaders’ get in touch with their humanity and lend a hand to the needy, do they think that perhaps doing so will lead them down the road to poverty? Sometimes I lay awake at night and wonder; are they even human? As the crow flies to parts unknown I wonder if he wonders:

Can a Nation lose its soul? Does it have one?

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The Force-Book Review

Fast-paced, hard, and dirty as the New York City concrete. Is it the most original premise? No, but it doesn’t have to be simply because; beat for beat the author holds your attention and doesn’t let go. We’ve seen or heard this story before (reminded me a bit of what happened on Precinct 75th in the late 80’s early 90’s in Brooklyn) Crooked cops, mafia types and drug-peddling outfits converge in Manhattan North, that is: Harlem, Spanish Harlem and the Washington Heights area. All parties involve play their money-hungry power trips among the innocent—and not so innocent populace. A tremendous amount of research went into this book, from police culture, to drug culture, and the neighborhoods in which these events take place.

The protagonist Denny Malone recalls his father. He was a cop on these streets, coming home in the morning after a graveyard shift with murder in his eyes, death in his nose and an icicle in his heart that never melted and eventually killed him.

Greed, violence, race inequality, injustice, retribution and redemption are touched in a book that will undoubtedly become a classic in the crime fiction cannon. While reading ‘Da Force,’ flashes of The Wire, Goodfellas, The Shield and the Godfather came at me (in a good way). Author Don Winslow writes furious fast-paced books with an unparalleled handle on dialog, and characterization that engages the reader like no other author around. He has, easily, become one of my top ten favorite writers of all time. The Force is the third book I’ve read from this author, in this year alone. He’s that good.

5 out of 5

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Learning Curve

Image Credit: JF Pixabay

Ever since I started this self-publishing journey I’ve learned a few things, some good, some bad (mostly good) but I will not trade this experience for anything, it continues to be fun and challenging, exhilarating, frustrating and fantastic. Along the way; I’ve learned a few things about myself and about people in general. Self-publishing comes with a steep learning curve, a curve I’m still learning to navigate as I go along. Meanwhile I thought I would write a post about a few things I’ve learned so far. Read on…

Lower Your Expectations Writer Boy.

That’s right; high expectations make fools of all of us, especially when you write a book and no one cares or knows who the hell you are. I used to get on a high anytime I would hit publish, thinking that readers would flock to the book like it’s the second coming, well that shit doesn’t happen and it probably never will, See, self-publishing still lacks the respect it rightfully deserves, some might disagree with this but that’s been my experience so far. I’ve since learned to be okay with it. The trick here is to accept it; otherwise you’ll be fucking miserable and life is too short for that shit.

Flakes Are Us

‘Say what you mean and mean what you say.’ Remember that lesson from mom and dad? Well that shit is gone. Nowadays people don’t practice such trivialities as ‘keeping their word’ maybe I’m naïve, but keeping your promises to others, used to be a good thing; nowadays you can’t hang your hat on other people and their promises. I’ve learned to take—most of everything—that people say to me in this business, with a spoon of salt, most folks don’t practice what they preach either. Sadly I think this trend is rubbing off on me. Sigh.

There’s No Money in Writing

Hard to believe but it’s true. I don’t know a single author who’s actually making a living with their writing, sure, some would claim that they’re rolling in it, see above and take it with a shovel of salt because the only one’s making a killing are the big names we all know and love. So, family and friends? Sorry to disappoint you but I’m not rolling in cash, and just so you know? I don’t write to get rich, I write because I love to tell a good story and no, I’m not on my way to fortune and fame, but if I was to choose I would choose the former because being poor sucks ass.

Write My Story

Yep, everyone wants you to write their story. When I first moved in to my new digs the landlord found out I was a writer and he proposed that I should write his biography. I’m sure his life is probably interesting, full of action and adventure but writing is a job and I don’t want to write about another New York slumlord pretending to be poor yet somehow interesting. Nobody needs that shit; now fix the dripping pipe double-o-seven.

Sell Me a Book

This one is kicking me in the shins because I still don’t know much about marketing as I’d rather be writing. I might get the hang of it someday, but for now this is it. I want to take this opportunity to thank the few people who are kind enough to read and buy my books; I hope you enjoyed them, I hope you know they come from a place of love and respect for the art of writing, something that I’ll keep doing every time I sit down and write. That’s a promise, and I keep my promises.

Okay I’m off to update my dating profile. You should do the same. Later!

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Breaking Rules

No, I’m not talking about breaking rulers here; I’m talking about rules of writing. I’m no expert, I just sit down and write what comes naturally to me, I’ve never taken a writing course (yeah I live dangerously) and I didn’t know that there were rules but apparently there’s a bunch of rules out there. The following are a few examples of rules I’ve come across, mostly stuff I’ve found on the internet, some make a lot of sense to me, most of these so-call ‘rules’ are just silly. It’s been said that in order to break the rules one must know the rules, yeah that sounds good and all, but at the end of the day, you as a writer should follow your own instinct and write the best story you can write.

Write What You Know

This one’s easy and blatantly obvious, see the gist here is that if you write what you know your story will fly out into the page much more easily, no argument there because is true, however I’ve always had a bit of a problem with it because it got me thinking: As far as I know; Dante Alighieri never took a stroll in hell yet he wrote about it flawlessly in “The Divine Comedy” that takes imagination and to me; imagination trumps anything when it comes to writing. I like a challenge therefore I like to dive head first into matters which I know nothing about, by doing so, I get to learn something and, hopefully, so will the reader. As a writer you just got to make sure you do your research and come across as someone who knows what you’re talking about, otherwise you’ll come across as a jackass, which I’m sure I’ve done plenty of times.

Don’t Write About Music

Oh boy, I did it now! See, again I see where that rule’s coming from as most folks could care less about music while reading a story, novel, etc. unless is the book “Please Kill Me” which I recommend wholeheartedly to anyone interested in the Punk Rock movement. That being said; yours truly is currently writing a story saturated in music from the 1980’s, I know, I think I just shot myself in the foot on that one. Aside from turning people away when you dwell into music in writing, one has to keep in mind the copyright consequences that this endeavor brings, which means; you can’t go around penning song lyrics for songs you haven’t written, you will get it in the ass for doing so and it’s not cool. But if you still want to pen someone else’s lyrics into your masterpiece know that you’ll need permission from the copyright holder and a shit load of mullah, so beware. On the other hand you can do what I tend to do… I write the name of the song, sometimes crediting the singer or band, and then I tend to describe what the song is about to the reader.

Don’t Tell Jokes

Whoever wrote this ‘rule’ must have a broomstick up in their keister, I mean; who doesn’t like a good laugh? Say two guys who don’t know each other are waiting around having a smoke; you, the writer, wants to break the tension, what do you do? One has to tell a joke. Fuck the guy that came up with that rule. The same goes for the guy who said you should avoid pop- culture references, this one I kind of understand because it will ‘Date’ your novel, story, etc. But the guy that said not to inject food into your piece? Fuck that guy; I do it all the time because when writing I tend to get hungry.

Show Don’t Tell

Oh man, this is a big cardinal rule driven into the skull of many a writing course attendee, again, I can see why. You want the reader to feel what it’s like to be inside of the thunderstorm, so by describing it as lucidly as possible you will get the reader in there. I’m a bit ambivalent about this one because the majority of writers tend to abuse the hell out of this one in order to ante-up their page count which makes the reading tedious and boring. On this one I tend to follow rules 8, 9 and 10 of the Elmore Leonard rules of writing which are:

  1. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters. (Sometimes I break this one)
  2. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things. (Sometimes I break this one too)
  3. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. (I try like hell to stick with this one)

As a side note: there are no rules in fiction.

Write on and do you.

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A Sweet & Short Update

The Mullet, neon colors, pastel colors, cheesy pop tunes, and cocaine; as the drug-du jour, plus the Golden Age of heavy metal. What better place in which to set a story right? Well, guess what? Yours truly is taking the plunge by writing a story which takes place in that era. This new story is much more than simple nostalgia though. Is a fictional story set mostly in the town of St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park, Florida. The opening scene came to me in a flash of imaginary flight of fancy, as most good ideas tend to.

Now, I know I mentioned that my next story was going to be a serial-killer type number. No worries; chill homie, chill. I’m not ditching it (is still in the works, I’ve got 7,156 words going on it) but this new story has a hook on me. It wants to come out and play, so I’m writing it. The working title of the story is Gray Salt, the tag line is: Drugs, Heavy Metal & Murder; a coming-of-age-story. The research is a lot of fun and I’m having a blast writing it. The 1980’s were colorful years indeed, as colorful as a comic book. Stay stoned, eh, I mean, stay tune…

And that, as they say, is my report from the writerly trenches. Y’all have a good one.

Too—doo—loo.

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Mini Book Reviews

For the first time in a looong time I’m enjoying a three-day weekend (actually; I don’t remember ever having a three-day weekend, but I digress), so I decided to go on an autobiographical bender and read a few short books to keep me from losing my melon. Here are my thoughts on these short and easy reads.

My Seinfeld Year by Fred Stoller

This Kindle single delves into author (character actor and writer Fred Stoller), extremely lucky streak of becoming a writer on one of the most popular sitcoms in modern American TV history (Seinfeld), yet he wasn’t too happy about it. I can’t imagine that writing for TV is an easy gig, especially for such a stratospherically popular show. He describes the almost Darwinian elements of a competitive writing gig which, quite frankly, would give anyone nightmares. He did managed to write some memorable episodes for the show, such as the one where Kramer is forced to apologize to a monkey and the one about the suit for a meal, in which Jerry has to buy Benia a meal for a suit, but Benia only has a soup and a sandwich after which he declares that a soup and a sandwich is not a meal, funny stuff. His insight into the ‘real-life’ Kramer is very interesting because the guy comes across as a real New York hustler, just like the TV Kramer. Overall a good read. 4 out of 5

***

The Girl in the Photo by Gaspar Gonzales

The historical background on this short alone will have you glued. The author (writer and documentary film maker Gaspar Gonzales) has been obsessed with a picture of the brother he never met, and decides to trace the girl who’s posing on said photograph with his brother, a photo, presumably taken on prom night. And so begins a journey of forty plus years in the making. This is an immigrant’s tale intertwined with family, history, war and the love of one’s adopted country. I just wish the book was longer because, as it stands, it feels like a taste of a much longer story, a story which honors the legacy of the brother he never had a chance to meet, a shy and smart guy who became a quiet war hero. If you haven’t guess already; this short will hit you in the feels (is someone peeling onions around here?) 5 out of 5

Happy Fourth of July!

 

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Literary Quote by Raymond Chandler

(AP PHOTO)

I hate to admit it, and quite frankly, I’m a little ashamed, but I’ve yet to read anything by Raymond Chandler, (so many great books and so little time to read them all). I keep hearing great things about his work. I was over on Reddit the other day and found an outstanding quote of his, I can’t say that I subscribe closely to the style he describes because I don’t like too much description on the stuff I’m reading or writing, when reading I tend to skip that stuff, I’m a firm believer in the Elmore Leonard adage of “I try to leave out the parts people skip”, anyway here’s the Raymond Chandler copy-pasted quote:

“A long time ago when I was writing for pulps, I put into a story a line like ‘he got out of the car and walked across the sun drenched sidewalk until the shadow of the awning over the entrance fell across his face like the touch of cool water.’ They took it out when they published the story. Their readers didn’t appreciate this sort of thing: it just held up the action. And I set out to prove them wrong. My theory was they just thought they cared nothing about anything but the action; that really, although they didn’t know it, they cared very little about the action. The things they really cared about, and that I cared about, were the creation of emotion through dialogue and description; the things they remembered, that haunted them, were not for example that a man got killed, but that in the moment of his death he was trying to pick a paper clip up off the polished surface of a desk, and it kept slipping away from him, so that there was a look of strain on his face and his mouth was half open in a kind of tormented grin, and the last thing in the world he thought about was death. He didn’t even hear death knock on the door. That damn little paper clip kept slipping away from his fingers and he just couldn’t push it to the edge of the desk and catch it as it fell.” – Raymond Chandler

Now, this other quote was said about Raymond Chandler’s writing by George V. Higgins.

“He did not write about crime or detection… He wrote about the corruption of the human spirit” –George V. Higgins (1988)

I think I can hang my hat on that quote

Cheers!

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