“Buck Up, You Fool!” or Crying at Your Own Writing

I’d been working on the short story for years. An early version was workshopped in Richard Bausch’s Moss Group. Later, the story received an Honorable Mention in the Memphis Magazine Short Fiction Contest. But I’d never successfully placed the story for publication anywhere. That’s because it wasn’t right. “Ain’t No Commies ‘Round Here,”...

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Why I Have Decided to Podcast My Short Stories

In filing new query letters for my short story collection, I came across an old document. The year was 2007. The list identified agents who asked for stories or the entire manuscript. There were many. I chose one. The agent I picked was not good for me. I piddled around with him for four years, only to ultimately part ways, my fiction unsold. I’m...

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Don Chickote: Or the Strange Adventures of Lucinda Mae Watkins on the Train

As irrefutable proof of my ingrained belief that the problem must be mine, I retained the title, description, and target audience given to me by a former agent whom an editor said was not marketing my novel correctly. That period is over. Old Title: Trouble at Big Daddy’s Chicken Palace Emporium New title: Don Chickote: Or the Strange Adventures...

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Are You Still With Me?

When I was three years old, my daddy died. That’s quite a sad thing to happen, losing  one’s father at such a young age, particularly when he was so young himself. Worse, he died suddenly, violently. His car was hit by a train, at a crossing that had a red light, but no warning arm to descend protectively across the track. He likely didn’t see...

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Questions Begging for Answers (I’m serious – let me know)

* Are filberts even nuts? * What the hell color is fawn? * Did all those spam emails from my friends originate w/me? * Can William tell when I don’t understand him? * Why am I always talking about how the brain works? * Can I erase and start over? * Can Thomas J. write a crossword puzzle w/out “spa” as an answer? * Is orange...

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Terrible in its Sorrow

Sometimes I read what I’ve written and I think, how could you do that? The Bone Trench novel is pocked with very brief flashbacks of the deaths of the bones in the trenches. Despite their brevity, they are intense. When I re-read them, I wonder how I could write scenes filled with such sorrow.  I’ve just finished revising a short story...

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The Land Behind Pickwick Lake

One novel is under consideration by two publishers and an agent. Another is with a final set of readers. I’m revising my first set of interlocking short stories. Suddenly, I’m running like a well-oiled writing machine. These very early short stories are good. Their problems lie mostly in mechanics. Too many words to describe simple movements....

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The Endowment Emperor has No Clothes

We are being hoodwinked. Those who operate in the nonprofit world, and those of us who give to nonprofits. We’ve all drunk the endowment Kool-aid. Nonprofits whose hearts are in the doing of good have adopted as the gold standard sitting on a big fat pile of money they never intend to spend. This hoard of cash, they’ve been told, will...

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The Robot

My uncle imagines me so lonely in my writer’s world that, inspired by a Wall Street Journal article, he has recommended I buy a mop-and-dust robot to keep me company. The little robot would travel the floor, hard at work, while I scribbled away, creating my masterpieces. Lots of folks have one of those hand towels that says, “My...

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Easter and Those Bad People

All the hymns we sang Easter morning were full of me’s. Me, me, me, paired with the occasional I. Jesus died for me. Jesus saved me. Jesus sacrificed for me. I am not worthy of what Jesus did for me. What if we changed the me? What if we made it, Jesus died for the man sleeping on the sidewalk whom you just walked by? Jesus died for drug lord...

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