Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A bit of an anniversary

They are doing some demolition at the day job in preparation for a whole new executive suite that's being built. I'm not in the executive offices, but I am nearby. Last night before I left I took a picture off of my office wall so it wouldn't fall with all of the tearing apart of things going on right behind me.

The picture is the framed negative of the first newspaper page I ever built. It's from March 9, 1990 and I was a sophomore in high school. I didn't realize until I rehung that negative that it had been twenty years since I started doing the journalism thing. I did it all through high school. Took two years off in college then joined the newspaper staff there and haven't stopped since.

So happy anniversary, Jarrett and journalism.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Another Twist acceptance

Just got word that my story Playing House is up at A Twist of Noir. It's the second story of mine that they have published, so I know that at least they like me. Go check it out if you are so inclined. This one is short and shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes to read.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Another Twist submission

I sent another story to A Twist of Noir late last night. Inspired by Paul Brazill posting some of his own flash pieces at his site, I went back and read some of the flash pieces of my own I posted about a year ago. There was one piece that I thought wasn't too bad and with a few tweaks it could be made ready for submission.

I spent about an hour reworking it a bit and sent it off to A Twist of Noir. I'll let you know if they like it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Writing prompt response.

I mentioned previously that I was responsible for coming up with the writing prompt for our next writers group meeting. I had a tough time coming up with an idea, so I just went with the first thing I came to mind. That was "tiny little robots, two by two." I tried all this week to figure out something to go with the prompt, but I couldn't figure out anything at all.

Decided today that I'd just try to write something I had never written before -- a fight scene. I thought a bit about my story on my way home from work. What I came up with is below. Hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think.

Marquez smashed the bottle against the edge of the bar. The brown glass clattered to the floor and he pushed the jagged edge in Solis’ face. Solis slapped Marquez’s hand away and he dropped the bottle.

A pair of security bots spun in circles by their feet, the little red lights on their domed heads flashing. Solis kicked the bot nearest him and the little machine slid across the floor, crashing in to the leg of a chair.

Marquez was distracted by the commotion and Solis put a fist hard into his opponent’s stomach. Marquez doubled over and Solis brought a knee into the shorter man’s nose. He dropped to his knees and a security bot passed by his ear. Marquez pushed it aside.

He brought himself slowly to a knee then sprung at Solis, burying his shoulder into the older man’s soft middle. The pair crashed into three bar stools as they fell to the ground. Marquez straddled the old man, his hair falling in his eyes in a sweaty mess. Solis grabbed a handful of Marquez’s dark mane and pushed him back into an upright position. He swung his left arm and crushed Solis’ cheek. Solis’ head snapped to the side and smacked the old, wooden bar the two men were laying next to. Marquez pushed Solis off of him and the younger man lay on the ground in a wet heap, one of the security bots by his head and the other near his feet.

Solis reached into Marquez’s back pocket and pulled out his wallet. He took the three American twenty dollar bills that were inside along with a few pesos.

“Now we’re even,” Marquez said as he pocketed the bills and headed for the door.

A quick update

I missed worked yesterday with back issues. Not sure what happened, but at some point yesterday morning I tweaked what was an already sore back. Made it dang near impossible to walk. I literally crawled from the kitchen to the bedroom and got back in bed. I called work and let them know I was having some issues and that I'd be late. My boss called me later and said that I shouldn't worry about coming in. They could cover my responsibilities. So I stayed home and made a doctors appointment for the afternoon. Gina left her job a little early to take me.

The new doctor was a nice guy, but he said there wasn't much he could do for me. I have strained some muscles in my back and the only thing that will make it better is time.

So that's what I am giving it -- time. I am taking some pain meds that aren't doing much for me, but it actually feels better today.

Wrote just a little bit yesterday while I was laying in bed. Not on the writing prompt for my group, but on the longer piece I have going. I am excited about the world I have created and really think that it could lend itself to several stories. It's intriguing enough that there are lots of possibilities for a series of works. Not necessarily following the same character, but set in the same world.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A little something

Figured I haven't posted any new writing lately, so here's a bit from the middle of the longer piece I am working on. It may not make much sense since you don't really know what it means to be plugged into a feed. If you read it all, though,it'd make more sense.

I wake to the sun fighting through the curtains and my head is a swirling fog. The light hits my face flush as soon as it gets above the buildings surrounding the south bay and the warmth coaxes me back to the land of the living. Once I am up I can hear the horns from the street and the Freedom Parade that’s going on fifteen stories below me.

I crack the window and lean my head out. There are three floats and a marching band down there now. I am sure that others have passed. A crowd lines the route five deep and they are all screaming and hollering. Many of them are waving green and yellow flags and others are blowing horns.

My arm still tingles. It will for at least another hour. I’d over done it, falling asleep with the feed still in me. A tingling arm was a side effect of that.

I get breakfast and shower and it’s not until then that I realize I’ve missed a phone call. The light on the front of my cell is blinking red. I have a voicemail.
It’s the chief. “Call me,” he says. “It’s urgent.”

The crowd is still on the street once I get showered and shaved. I fight my way through people who’d been celebrating for hours at this point. The smell of alcohol and herb is strong as I push my way through the partiers.

Chief is waiting for me at the corner. I am wearing a hooded sweatshirt and he puts a hand into the pocket on its front and fishes out my cell phone.

He rubs a finger across the screen and the phone comes to life. He dials a number and a phone in his pocket rings. He pulls it out and looks at the screen then holds my phone back up to my face.

“Nope,” he says. “It’s working.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Old man going grey

For a long time I had a goatee. It grew in thick and dark. I kept it for five years then shaved it about a year or so after I met Gina.

I've grown it back in a couple of times since I shaved it. Usually it's right after a week of vacation since shaving is one of those things I don't really do unless I have to. Plus, Gina likes it when I am scruffy. So, having this past week off work I only shaved once. Gina asked me to keep the goatee when I shaved yesterday for work. I agreed. I noticed that I have got some serious grey in my beard. It wasn't there a couple of years ago when I last had the goatee. It's making me feel kind of old, to be honest. I don't always feel like my 36 years, but now I kind of do.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Welome to Texas, spring

On Friday, technically the last day of winter, Gina and I borrowed her parents and their lawn equipment and mowed our overgrown lawn. We pulled some weeds that were overtaking the area we want to plant some flowers. It was embarrassing actually. Our lawn looked awful. But the weather was perfect for taking care of that. It was in the low 70s and breezy.

Yesterday, technically the first day of spring, the weather took a turn. It was overcast and the wind rushed in from the north. It never got out of the 30s and by the time Gina left to go spend some time with a friend it was starting to spit snow. Not a surprise. The weathermen said that we could get a dusting of the white stuff.

Today, technically the second day of spring, we woke up to find a couple of inches of snow on the ground. This is not the hello we wanted from spring. We would have been happy with mild temps and clear skies. I think we would have even been happy with a spring shower if our choices were between that and more snow.

Writers' group meeting

At our writers' group meeting Saturday morning we each read our response to the writing prompt. Have to say that I was impressed. I am in a group with some seriously good writers.

We all enjoyed writing off a prompt and I volunteered to provide the next one. I thought about it all day and couldn't come up with anything that I really liked, so late last night I sent out the only thing that repeatedly came to mind. It wasn't a quote this time, just a phrase -- "tiny little robots, two by two."

I was hoping to push some of our writers out of their comfort zones and that should do it. Two members of our group write historical fiction. Another seems to write thrillers but loves history. But none of them have robots, so we'll see how literal they are when responding to the prompt.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Winner, winner, baked chicken dinner

We got back from the Choctaw casino this afternoon with our wallets a little fatter.

The place was really nice. The room was great, and the casino was Vegas quality. Very cool place. We got there and there was a bit of a line for the check-in. But for our wait we were given free buffets. That was nice. The food was decent but nothing to write home about, but it was good for being free.

We also signed up for the players club card and were given $10 to play with. I got hot at a couple of slot machines and by the end of the night that $10 had become $200. Gina made $100 out of hers and we left Oklahoma with 300 more dollars than we had come with.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring break projects

Gina is off work this week for spring break so I am taking the week off too. We are spending it getting the house in order.

When we moved in we did a Big Paint, getting new color on the walls in our living room, formal living room, dining room, and kitchen. We had plenty of help. Gina's mom and dad, my mom and dad, and her sister and brother-in-law helped. We painted everything in about a day and a half.

So, seeing how quickly that went, we decided that we'd tackle other rooms ourselves this week. We were shooting to get the guest bath, computer room, our bedroom, and master bath painted Sunday and Monday. I don't think either of us realized how much help having those six other sets of hands was.

We got a late start Sunday and Monday so only got through the guest bath and computer room. They look great, but it wasn't as much as we'd hoped. I'll post pictures soon. The rest of the week is going to be other housework (Which could mean more painting. We haven't ruled that out.).

We are going to go to a casino about an hour away tomorrow. It's a new one on Indian land. Looks nice in the commercials. We just couldn't spend our whole vacation doing work around here. I'll report back with winnings.

Friday, March 12, 2010


My story that I submitted to the anthology was rejected. It was a personal rejection, so that's good.

Here's what they said.

Thank you for submitting your story to us, but we've decided to reject it for publication.

This story feels like it's hit the wrong length. The idea of data-addiction isn't a new enough idea to make this effective as a flash piece, and it's too short to allow enough character development to make it a fully-fleshed story.

We wish you luck in your newly-begun writing career, and if you have any other stories that might fit our theme, please feel free to submit them.

At least I know what was wrong with it. That's the second time I have been told this story feels too short. This time it was even after I added an entire section to it. Guess that means I have some more working to do on this one.

I'll read it again once my list of works in progress is a little shorter and see if I can't figure out where to take it. This could just be one that I keep in a drawer somewhere and only pull out once I become a famous author and people are falling all over themselves to publish anything I write.

Writers' group story update

I am making some good progress on my writers' group story. It's going to go well past the 1,500 word limit we set for ourselves, but I am not too worried about that. I am at 1,100 words now and still have two-thirds of it left to write. But I know where it's going and I like the characters and the setting is fun. It's going to need a bit of rewriting to punch up some of the things that I wanted to work on. Still not painting enough of a picture, I don't think, but I am concentrating on doing it more. I have already gone back over what I've written and added a bit of detail.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

We missed a date of note

This blog, she's a modest lady. She doesn't like to call attention to herself. She's perfectly happy just going about her business. That's why it's really no surprise that when her birthday passed a few days ago she said nothing, only hoped that it would go by unnoticed.

Well, it's belated, but happy birthday, blog. You turned one on March 6. We have made nearly 200 posts together and had visitors from all over the world. You've helped make me more productive, and you've seen my writing published. Once again, happy birthday, blog. You've served me well. Here's to another year.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Writers' group: Travel guides and inspiration

A few years ago, actually more than a few, I bought some travel guides for foreign cities I'd never been to. I figured that they would come in handy if I were to want to set something overseas. They were on a clearance table and I don't think I paid more than $2 for each of them.

I have guides to Sydney, Great Britain, Seville/Andalusia, and Madrid. That's an uninteded concentration on Spain.

Anyway, I am finally using them. I pulled the Seville/Andalusia guide out last night and think I have found a good place to set my writers' group story. There is a district in Seville that has bars and nightlife that's right by the river. It should work great.

I spent a little time at The Sartorialist web site looking for inspiration for my characters. I had a very specific look in mind for these two characters and knew I'd need help describing them. This site helped me find two folks I can use as inspiration. They have a very fashionable/trendy look. My story is a crime story/spy story and these two characters in my head need to have a very classy/trendy/hip look to their clothes. James Bondish but a little more modern. The Sartorialist seems to have folks that look like that. I can't remember where I saw the link to that site first, but someone suggested it as a great place to find faces. I can't disagree.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Works in progress -- where they stand

By my count I have three things I am working on. They are all in various states of progress.

I am calling the first my calendar story. It has a title -- These Brave Men of Dust and Steel. Actually I came up with the title first and liked it so much I built a story around it. Probably not the best idea, but it worked this time. Now I think the title sounds a bit pretentious, but it ties in to the end so I am keeping it for now.

The second also has a title -- Dignity Mission. The title, in this case, came second.

The third is the piece I started writing while I was editing other things. The working title is On the Wire. It's a crime story with a sci-fi element at its heart. It's fun to write so far, but I am afraid it's starting to stall out.

So here's where I am and where I want to go with them, in list form.

These Brave Men of Dust and Steel
Half outlined/synopsised. I know this story the best of the three. I know its beginning. I know its end. I know the better part of its middle. It's being told in a journal/diary format, and I have about half of the entries synopsised so far. Just need to get the last few done and I can start writing the piece in earnest. I think it will go pretty quickly once I am done with the synopsis. What's keeping me from finishing it? I have no idea.

Dignity Mission
I know the beginning and I know the end, I just don't know the middle. Problem is all of this story is what happens in the middle. You know how this story is going to end by the third paragraph. The story is what happens between the beginning and the end. And yes, I know that's true for every story.

On the Wire
Still have no idea where this is going, and I am afraid that things may be spinning out of control. My plot may be getting too complicated. I have introduced some very interesting things in the beginning of the story that could provide some very interesting wrinkles. Problem is I have almost completely forgotten them at this point. I need to bring them back in somehow.
I am about 13,000 words in and have no idea where it will end up. But the novella that I was thinking in my head could be getting more novel length.

So that's it. Those are my works in progress that are getting my attention right now. I do have one more thing I need to work on. In our writers' group last weekend we agreed to try a writing prompt and see what we all came up with. We got the prompt from our group's founder. It's this quote.

"A man dreamt that he slipped out of his flesh just as a snake sheds its old skin. He died on the following day. For his soul, which was about to depart from his body, provided him with these images."
-- ARTEMIDORUS, The Interpretation of Dreams, c.AD 150

I had an idea for this that I started working on already, but I am scrapping it -- the idea, not the bit I've already written. I think it could work for other things. This morning while getting ready for work I cooked up an idea I like better. It's going to help me work on some weaknesses I have heard about from people whose opinion I trust (Gina and some people in my group). I tend to use minimal description when I write. I give necessary details on setting and appearance and let the reader fill in the blanks. Some have suggested I need to paint the picture better, and I agree that it is something I need to work on.

I am setting this story overseas and have a clear picture of where it's taking place. A cafe, seating ourdoors, a river a few feet away. A band in the background with a singer whose trying to perform American standards in broken English. I am going to try and really paint that picture for the reader. Should be a fun challenge and, hopefully, a fun story.

Then the music gets hopeful

See,telling stories isn't really that hard. Just follow the formula.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

John Hughes' Oscar moment

Gina and I aren't really Oscar people. It's not appointment TV for us. We did watch a bit of it tonight, though, after pulling a DVD out of the player. We didn't watch much more than an hour, but we did get to see the nice tribute to John Hughes. I saw all of his classics as a kid even though I think I was just a bit younger than his target audience. His characters were the cool high school kids that those of us in junior high looked up to -- not so much because they were great people, but they were just older than us and that was all it took to make you cool.

Anyway, target audience or not, I loved the movies. I still like to watch them when they are on TV. I don't know if they hold up so well since I am biased and will always like them.

The academy will never honor the movies guys like John Hughes made. There isn't enough artistry there, I suppose. They aren't the movies with enough of a message. But they are the movies that people remember.

Our weekend in fancy clothes

Didn't get much writing done the last couple of days. Our weekend dance card was pretty full.

A woman Gina used to work with celebrated her 40th anniversary with a big party at a hotel. It was catered and, they had a band and a mentalist as entertainment. It was quite the shindig. We bought some new clothes and got dressed up for that.

Then today, we went to the wedding of one of Gina's coworkers. It was nice. Dressed in new clothes for that, too. And, may I say, my wife cleans up very, very well.

Friday, March 5, 2010

An acceptance

The editors over at A Twist of Noir liked my story. It's up on their site. You can read it here. I didn't get paid for this one but feel like I could get some good exposure. And, if nothing else, I got some confidence and motivation. It's pretty cool seeing your story somewhere other than your own computer screen.

Think that's all. Oh, on the soon-to-come bio I mention this site, so if any of you regulars see some new faces around here introduce yourself. Shake a few hands and make them feel welcome.

Now, that's all.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

And another submission

I have another story out on submission. It's one that I wrote over the summer and have been looking for some place to send it. For some reason it's tough to find markets online for crime fiction. I finally stumbled on a couple of places and sent my story out to one of those. It's called A Twist of Noir and I like the stuff they publish. Hopefully I'll be one of those.

I'll let you know when I hear something.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Writing with a flashlight

While I have been tweaking and submitting I have also been writing. It was mostly just to keep myself form getting soft. Found that if I spent too much time not writing the words stop coming so easy. It always seems to take me a few days to get back in a groove. Plus I wanted to have something to give to my writers' group. There are new members and I wanted to kind of let them know what I did and my style.

So, to keep fresh, I started writing on an idea I had a germ for a few months back. The top I liked but I knew what it was going to be. The rest of the story, though, I had no idea where it would head. I'd get an idea for another chuck and I'd write it. While I wrote that bit Ipd get and idea for something else and I'd write it. It's made for a story that doesn't have a lot of chronological flow, but honestly lot of my stories don't. Whether or not that will hurt me remains to be scene.

I feel like I am writing this with a flashlight, hence the title of this post. I can see well the bit I am writing right now. And I can kind of see a little ahead, where I want to go. But more than a few feet in front of that is totally dark. No idea where I am headed. I am sure this is seat of the pants writing and it's fun, but it's a little nerve wracking not knowing where I am headed.