Consumer/Creator

It goes without saying that being a consumer is easier than being a creator. I buy my ticket, grab me a tub of popcorn, a giant soda, and I’m ready to be assaulted by the surround sound of the bombastic score from the new and shiny blockbuster that resembles the last great shiny blockbuster I saw a week ago. See? Easy as pie. You want to write a fun, great and engaging story…you will, undoubtedly, end up staring at a blank screen with the accusatory cursor blinking at you, mocking you. To hell with it, there’s a great TV show I must watch, (and there’s always a great TV show you must watch) because what else are you going to talk about with your co-workers? Easy as one, two, three and the cursor on the page keeps daring you to play.

You cruise over to the giant behemoth known as Amazon and hey! What’s this? A Dead Sea Mud Mask I didn’t know I needed, and over here they’ve got the latest electronic gadget which promises to do pretty much everything for you (short of giving you a mind blowing B. J.) Argan Oil what the fuck is that? But hey I might need it because the celebrity du jour promises that it’ll change my life. And the cursor on the page keeps blinking, laughing at you.

Say you’re a musician and an idea for a song comes to you—out of the ether, as most ideas tend to. You’re pump, you get yer guitar and go at it, but hey wait, this tune sounds like that other tune…fuck it, let’s go play the new Grand Theft Auto, the new Hitman, Candy Crush or the new Monument Valley (great game btw) What does that accusatory little cursor know about having fun anyway? Easy as taking a pill from a baby

The same thing, I’m pretty sure, happens to painters, cartoonist, dancers, etc. Nobody tells you to be a ‘creative type’ (sometimes I get the sense that the world doesn’t need another ‘creative type’ don’t you?) But you do it because is in your nature, because you want to do it, because it makes you feel good, it makes life worth living, it gives you tremendous satisfaction and a great sense of accomplishment. More than likely though, what it doesn’t do, is give you enough bread which you need to live and to keep doing what you love which is being a ‘creative type’ and so, you forged ahead with a fist full of hope, dreams and courage, because, believe it or not, it takes giant pelotas to be a creator, to put yourself outhere to be judged, loved or admired by the masses, or to be hated, judged and dragged through the mud—but you hope for the best.

Hello blank page, did ya miss me? Hmm, you know what? Fuck it, let’s go get a beer, these 516 words are worth it, for today I’m a consumer, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Cheers!

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The Hate U Give–Review

Reading YA is not my bag, I’ve got nothing against the genre, is just not my thing. I didn’t know this book was a YA novel, had I known I probably would’ve passed on reading it, I’m glad I didn’t because is much more than just a story about a sixteen year old girl growing up in the hood while also attending a private (mostly White) school.

The story’s core is the social issue of the day, a “torn from the headlines” if you will, meaning: white cops shooting young black men. It’s timely, it’s hard-hitting and it should be require reading for everyone, especially law enforcement personnel.  Here’s a quote from the young protagonist Starr Carter.

“When I was 12, my parents had two talks with me. One was the birds and the bees. The second was what to do if stopped by police. Keep your hands visible. Don’t make any sudden moves. Only speak when they speak to you.’”

A quote many in minority communities are very familiar with. This book is a mirror to some, a reality for others and—hopefully—eye- opening for all.

A solid 5 out of 5 Starrs ( ha! see what I did there?)

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Obsessions of the Month

The 80’s were, and still are, some of the best years of many a Gen xer, I’m currently writing a story which takes place in that era. Wow, what an era. The clothing styles, the hairdos, the video games, the movies, and the music—Jesus, what a bunch of cringe-inducing stuff. I’m setting my story in the world of heavy metal music, cocaine trafficking and the “satanic panic” of the era. Writing this story is taking me back to when I was trying to learn to play the guitar parts to those power ballads just so that I could impress the ladies—it didn’t work. The research is a lot of fun though (better than the grim research for my other story about a serial killer in Arizona).

Stay tune.

I’m currently watching the TV series/ crime drama The Wire (I know, fifteen years later, that’s how I do) all fifty episodes spread over five seasons. Great show, albeit a bit dated, what with all the new technology at the government’s disposal these days. One thing that remains the same is life in the hood, fucking shit is still pretty much the same with the little hoppers slinging drugs and killing each other while the politicos and their labyrinthine laws and insidious bureaucratic policies steal, and make life a living hell for those living in the margins of society.

Politicians =gaping assholes.

Very few superhero movies excite me these days—too many to keep up with, and most are just CGI inducing headaches, and this is coming from someone who grew up consuming comic books in unhealthy doses. When Sam Raimi came out with Spiderman in 2001 (Good lord of the flies, I’m fucking old) No one was more excited than me; finally, one of my favorite superheroes on the big screen! I loved it, it was awesome, but then it when to shit and now they’re re-booting it *ugh.* Enters Wonder Woman to save the day, I loved Linda Carter on the old TV show, but this new one looks fucking a-m-a-z-i-n-g, and once again; I’m happy to see a superhero movie. Not like she needs it but: here’s me rooting for Diana, founding member of Justice League, Princess of Themyscira, Daughter of Hippolyta aka Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman.

What you waiting on playa? Go see the movie!

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The Cartel by Don Winslow

A hefty book with a well- researched, powerful, dark, brutal and violent story. The passage which best surmised the story for me is found on pages 411 through page 412 the passage is being thought/narrated by Juarez journalist Pablo Mora:

Mexico—the land of writers and poets—of Octavio Paz, Juan Rulfo, Carlos Fuentes, Elena Garro, Jorge Volpi, Rosario Castellanos, Luis Urrea, Elmer Mendoza, Alfonso Reyes—the land of painters and sculptors—Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Gabriel Orozco, Pablo O’Higgins, Juan Soriano, Francisco Goita—of dancers like Guillermina Bravo, Gloria and  Nellie Campobello, Josefina Lavalle, Ana Merida, and composers—Carlos Chavez, Silvestre Revueltas, Agustin Lara, Blas Galindo—architects—Luis Barragan, Juan O’Gorman, Tatiana Bilbao, Michel Rojkind, Pedro Vasquez—wonderful filmmakers—Fernando de Fuentes, Alejandro Inarritu, Luis Buñuel, Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro—actors like Dolores del Rio, “La Dona” Maria Felix, Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete, Salma Hayek—now the name of “famous” narcos—no more than sociopathic murderers whose sole contribution to the culture has been narcocorridos sung by no-talent sycophants.

Mexico, the land of pyramids and palaces, deserts and jungles, mountains and beaches, markets and gardens, boulevards and cobblestone streets, broad plazas and hidden courtyards, is now known as a slaughter ground.

And for what?

So North Americans can get high.

Just across the bridge is the gigantic marketplace, the insatiable consumer machine that drives the violence here. North Americans smoke the dope, snort the coke, shoot the heroin, do the meth, and then have the nerve to point south (down, of course, on the map), and wag their fingers at the “Mexican drug problem” and Mexican corruption.

It’s not the “Mexican drug problem,” Pablo thinks now, it’s the North American drug problem.

As for corruption, who’s more corrupt—the seller or the buyer? And how corrupt does a society have to be when its citizens need to get high to escape their reality, at the cost of bloodshed and suffering of their neighbors?

Corrupt to the soul.

That’s the big story, he thinks.

That’s the story someone should write.

Well, maybe I will.

And no one will read it.

 

A Solid 5 out of 5 read.

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Short Updates

—I ran a two- book giveaway on Goodreads of my short novel Desperados and, as always, it was a smashing success. 458 people entered the contest. I know I’m not pulling a million people or even a thousand like the big guys pull but hey, not too shabby for a guy no one’s ever heard of right? The books are on the way to the winners. And yes I’m well aware that people love free shit, everybody does, including me. But like I always say: a giant leap begins with baby steps. Painful baby steps but baby steps nonetheless.

—I decided to re-edit BLACK PILLS & RED BULLETS, one of the first books I ever wrote and published. Why? Because, since then, and in a lot of ways; I’ve grown a lot as a writer, plus I’ve had a few complains about it, meanly that some of the stories didn’t make much sense. The thing that was very eye-opening to me is that it was edited for publication by a professional editor. And they didn’t catch any of these nonsensicalities. When I re-edited it myself a bunch of weeks back, I did see where some folks would feel lost and confused by what was on the page, so I went to work and got it right and tight. I still can’t believe I paid so much moolah to an editor who obviously didn’t care about the piece. What can I say? Those are some of the perils of being a self-published writer. At the end of the day though, that’s all on me, I was the one who went and hit that “publish” button. So, if per-chance, you bought that book I want to thank you from the bottom of my lovely black heart, and offer my sincerest apologies. Since it has been updated I’m sure you will not be disappointed with this new edition, if it’s still in your Kindle give it a second read and let me know what you think. If you haven’t purchase a copy, you can still do so as it is available for ALL e-readers, and it’s still at the same price that it was before of only $0.99.

—If you enjoy short fiction I got a blogitty in which I’ll upload the occasional short story and, or flash fiction (it was getting a little too crowded here). Head on over to: BULLET BITES BACK and give it a whirl…

Hey, thanks for the visit. Go get your read on playa.

Too-doo-loo

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Work for Us. Work for Free!

Nobody likes working for free, nobody should. It amazes me how many asshats want writers to work for free in this day and age. When I go to the supermarket I’m expected to pay cold hard cash or with a valid credit card; not with ‘exposure’ same goes for when the landlord comes knocking on my door expecting cold hard cash. I suspect he will not respond kindly if I was to tell him that my being a dweller in his building will bring him great ‘exposure’.

When you’re starting out in this writerly business you’ll do anything to get your work out there, you’ll bend over backwards and forward. I’m here to tell you that you need to reel that shit in real quick, because there’s a bunch of unscrupulous douchebags just waiting for a hungry author like you so they can pounce on and take advantage of—do not fall for this giant bucket of bullshit.

If anyone tells you that when you’re starting out, you need to ‘pay to play’ just tell them that they can eat a giant turd sandwich, with a side- order of fuck you. Writing is a lot of fun but it’s also a lot of work, it takes time and effort, but mainly; it’s a lot of fucking work okay? My time, your time is important and it should be respected. This tirade comes to you courtesy of websites that claim to be hip and ‘in the know’ when it comes to cool writers, cool topics and connections while expecting writers to work for free for ‘exposure.’

To those sites. To those people I say: see this? Its call a middle finger.

My 2 Cents.

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Q & A

Late last month, gentleman scholar, and all-around good guy Colman Keane was kind enough to shoot a few questions my way for his site Col’s Criminal Library. I’ve taken the liberty of copy/pasting  said interview onto this site because, sometimes, I’m lazy like that. If you’d rather read the original, just click HERE.

A hearty thank you to Mr. Colman Keane for the lovely Q & A. Enjoy!

I’ll assume the writing isn’t full time, so what’s the day job?

You assume correctly. I moonlight as a condom tester. Kidding, I work for a company that does horseracing data. Not as exciting as a rubber tester, but it pays the bills.

Call it a hunch, but I’m guessing the uber-cool Verge Le Noir moniker isn’t something your parents came up with – is your real identity a well-guarded secret? Why not publish your books under your real name?

No my parents are not that cool—at all. I’m just a cat who’s scared of his own writing so he hides under a too-cool-for-school nom de guerre in order to appease the God’s of writerly things. My name is not a well-guarded secret, I’m not in the witness protection program or anything as exciting as that, matter of fact, my writer bio has just been updated on Amazon where I use my real name, (and new mug shot) I will however, still use my pen name because is way cooler than my real name which is Virgilio Feldman. Try fitting that on a small book cover.

What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?

Honest to the Gods of Beer? Doing this Q & A. And having people read the stuff I write.

What’s your typical writing schedule?

I don’t have one; I slip the writing whenever I can. I’m lucky I get to write at all. I typically try to cram as much writing as possible on my days off. Sorry ladies…

Do you insert family, friends, and colleagues into your characters?

I’ve only done it in my short novel Desperados sparingly—and it’s mostly overly exaggerated anecdotes from an acquaintance here and there, or family members, but for the most part I don’t do it.

Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

I like to let the characters take me wherever they want to go, so I make it up as I go along. Most smart writers swear by plotting, I see it as painting yourself into a corner and that doesn’t jive with moi. Maybe I will try it someday.

Are there any subjects off limits?

Nothing’s off limits I hate censorship.

Desperados features the journey of a young immigrant coming to America from the south, any parallels with your own life or are you a home-grown American citizen?

Good question. I was lucky enough to migrate legally to the U. S. from Honduras about thirty years ago. I did mined a few things about my life for Desperados, lets’ see: I’m from the same Islands that the character Lester talks about, I was once duped by a cousin into becoming a bracero in the State of Georgia for about two months in hell, we lived in trailers in the middle of nowhere making shit money, on the weekends we would shop at a Piggy Wiggly. A manager of a restaurant I used to work at did the orange juice bit to a waitress once. The character of Leonide or Leo is based on a good friend of mine who hails from the Ivory Coast by way of France but that’s where the similarities end. These are the few things I can think of from the top of my head; the rest is pure imagination and research.

I believe you’ve self-published all your work to date, is that a conscious move? Have you tried the “traditional” route via an existing publisher?

A conscious move indeed, I don’t know anyone in the publishing business, and I won’t know how to approach anyone on that side of things, besides they only seem to be interested in bestselling authors and celebrities. They want an established brand. So yeah I’m self- published all the way. For every one of my books though, I hire a professional editor, a book formatter and make my own book covers. I just don’t see what a traditional publisher can do for a guy like me. I honestly don’t see it. For prestige? Piss-off. The world doesn’t need another ‘tastemaker’ or ‘bouncer’ at the exclusive writers club. My humble opinion and it can change, but for now I’m happy as a clam in salt water doing things this way.

How difficult is it to attract a readership?

In a scale of one to ten, I would have to say One Hundred. A Hunter Thompson quote comes to mind, he said: “It’s like trying to wrestle a T-bone steak from a hammerhead shark.” Similar to that or thereabout.  Although a lot of it is my fault, I’m a lousy salesman, I don’t know much about promotion, pushing product etcetera, etcetera. I’m still learning, for the most part I just concentrate on writing an entertaining story.

Your works so far are Desperados – a novel, Killing Crows – a long short story, Shell Casings and Black Pills and Red Bullets – two short story collections. Is there one of your books you’re more proud of than any of the others? Which and why?

Tricky question, like: who is your favorite child? The red-headed bastard is my favorite! In this case they’re all my favorite red-headed bastards. In all honesty; the last one I wrote—Desperados—is my favorite because is the closest I’ve come to cannibalizing parts of my life in order to write a good story. It’s a bit personal I suppose. I must say though; Shell Casings seems to be people’s favorite, even my editor liked it a lot.

What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going?

I’m juggling a couple of projects, but the one that seems to be ahead its call Two Iguanas Lounge and it features a couple of the characters from the short story: Lizards Lounge (a short story you can find in the book: Black Pills & Red Bullets) In Two Iguanas Lounge, I’ll introduce a private detective by the name of Troy Declan Molloy and a Lieutenant by the name of Samira Andrade, these two team up in order to take down a serial killer who’s terrorizing a small Arizona town. It’s going a bit slow. We’ll see how it turns up, in the meantime; I’ll be uploading to my website, some short- stories, and my ramblings as usual.

What’s the best thing about writing?

Bedding all the women who find the broke-ass writer irresistible. Kidding, the best thing about writing is coming up with bat-shit crazy scenarios in which your characters can play and then having people read it. It’s magical. Writing is a lot of fun, you can’t beat that.

The worst?

Meeting women who don’t fall for the broke-ass writer. Kidding, (somewhat). The worse is trying to get the story to the right audience. That’s brutal.

What are the last five books you have read?

  1. Lee Child’s Night School
  2. Hollywood by Charles Bukowski
  3. Re-read Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch—brilliant book.
  4. You by Caroline Kepnes—well plotted, well written.
  5. The Sellout by Paul Beatty—quite possibly one of my favorite books from 2016

Who do you read and enjoy?

Love Elmore Leonard, Christa Faust is phenomenal, Charles Bukowski always kills it, Junot Diaz inspires, Stephen Hunter knows his shit, Dennis Lehane thrills and so does Michael Connelly. I really wish Diablo Cody would write another book, because whenever I need a chuckle I grab my copy of her book Candy Girl, and I swear; whatever pages you land on in that book, you’ll sure to find a giggle or two.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias— mind-blowingly good.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

Falling in love from a plane without a parachute. A. k. a.  Reading, hanging out in dive bars or watching Netflix.

In a couple of years’ time…

Hopefully I’ll have a few more books; therefore I’ll—hopefully—have a few more readers.

 

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