WHAT I’M WRITING NOW—RAT AND ROACH

Writing

I had ideas for three different stories rattling around in my head for years. At one time or another I started all three, but ran out of steam a few pages in, frustrated that they just weren’t working.

As it turns out, the problem was that they weren’t meant to be three different stories, they were actually one story. I had just been seeing different parts of it. Once I twined the three threads together, there it was.

This new story, titled Rat and Roach, is humming along nicely now. It’s dark. Really dark. I haven’t written horror for awhile, and I’m really enjoying it!

WHAT I’M WRITING NOW—IN SEARCH OF ANCIENT UNDERWEAR

Writing

Last year (2018) I participated in NaNoWriMo, which as any participant can attest is exhausting and stressful, and I will probably not do it again. But what I ended up with is a book I’m really proud of, a 9,300 word chapter book called In Search of Ancient Underwear.

This is another fantasy adventure in the vein of Trapped In Lunch Lady Land. After much poking, prodding and pruning, I started querying this summer, with fingers crossed.

What’s it about? Glad you asked!

Digger McDonald, boy archeologist of B.A.R. (Boy Archeologists Rock) and Heidi Hightower, his counterpart in G.A.R. (Girl Archeologists Rule) are criss-crossing the globe in search of history’s most important underwear. It’s a neck and neck race for underwear supremacy. Until, that is, a mysterious new player emerges, willing to do whatever it takes to beat them both. Now Digger and Heidi, with help from Digger’s little sister DeeDee, must grudgingly team up if they want to keep the world safe for boy and girl archeologists. A deadly drone in the sewers beneath Rome. A murderous robotic Mona Lisa in Paris. Radio controlled dingoes in the Australian outback. The stakes are high. Are Digger and Heidi up to the task?

The thing is, I’m considering going the self-publishing route with this one using Kindle Publishing Direct. As a graphic designer and illustrator, I know I can make it look good, but I just don’t know.

Have any thoughts on the matter, any pros/cons? Let me know!

Tough As Daisy—Highlights Magazine

Writing

Another writing bucket list item was to be published in Highlights Magazine. The idea of placing a story in a magazine sitting on end tables in dentist and pediatrician offices all over the world filled me with an irrational delight.

My story, Tough As Daisy, was published in 2006, and yes, it filled me with irrational delight. It was also chosen as the editors’ favorite story of the issue, which I’m very proud of.

Since publication Highlights has resold Tough As Daisy to be used for school testing, which I find very cool, and a little humbling. The graphic below came from one such publication.

I’ve also sold another story to Highlights since then, called Breakwall Bobby. Still waiting for it to appear. Watch for it next time you’re at the dentist!

FROM THE VAULT—MY FIRST POEM

Writing

Yes, I’m a packrat, which has its drawbacks. But on the plus side, I still have an embarrassing amount of my earliest, fledgling attempts at writing. Here, for your amusement, is the very first poem I ever wrote, way back in 8th grade.

THE FALLING OF THE SPADE

I woke to a dark not lit by stars, nor by candles. In fact, was not lit at all.

No shadows were cast, not a thing did I see, as if enclosed in a great hollow ball.

The bed where I lay seemed strange to my touch, not a wrinkled cotton spread.

But the finest of satins, the smoothest of silks, as if I lay in the richest man’s bed.

And then as I stretched out my cramping arms, I found I lay not in a room.

But a box, a mere trifle, perhaps two foot by six, like the closet where the maid stacks her brooms.

All of a sudden I realized the truth, and I cowered in spasms of fright.

The bedding, the box, a coffin by God, and I cried on that blackest of nights.

Soon the air was all but gone, and the last sounds that I heard.

Were the falling of the spade, and the minister’s fitful words.

FROM THE VAULT—POETRY FROM 9TH GRADE

Writing

As the title states, I wrote this in ninth grade. I’m resisting the urge to edit, but it’s killing me. Literally, killing me. I do see improvement from eighth grade to nine.

SAILOR ON AN ALIEN SEA

I woke to the pitch and the roll of the deck

With a rope at my neck and rough planking beneath me,

The foaming white sea spray trying to reach me,

The sky a dark yellow that whirled above me,

And two pale red suns that the sky bled and ran.

I felt a soft touch and my fingers met silk,

And a girl with no eyes took me up by the hand.

Guided by fingers that slid along railing,

Her hair whispering back to the sea wind’s lost wailing,

She led me past crewmen that bent at their oars.

With lean muscles straining and braided hair trailing,

They sliced at the water that tumbled and roared,

And each face looked up as I walked slowly past.

I was met by the stares of the eyeless, to the last.

She led to a place at the last of the oars.

I sat and took hold of the long wooden handle,

And lost myself soon in the rhythm and pull,

In the flapping of wings and the screaming of gulls,

In the slapping of water ‘gainst the barnacled hull,

In the two suns that set and the three moons that rise,

In the dark yellow sky that whirls and sighs.

I am a sailor on an alien sea.

I have only the gulls to talk to me,

I have only the wind to hold me up straight and tall,

Only my eyes to search for a shore that we never will see.

And a long ago dream that answered the call.

FROM THE VAULT—POETRY FROM 10TH GRADE

Writing

In tenth grade I broke the bonds of rhyme. I still want to edit the hell out of it, but I kinda like this one.

TRIPTYCH: ARMAGEDDON

1

standing on the broken summit of the hilltop

surrounded by his disciples

the mad prophet rants

feet planted in hellfire

head spinning in a fever dream

hecklers come to laugh

at the crazy eyed fool

in the death-dusted robe and the halo of pity

who is overstepping set bounds

scorn for a man who does not know the limit

the sky shatters

opening great cracks and rends in the clouds

that slowly leak in the night

the tension builds to a crescendo

disciples chanting at the insane stars

the hecklers inching back from the frenzy

the mad prophet opens his eyes

hear me

he screams at a world

that for him is coming apart at the seams

hear me

he shouts at the lost sheep

that cower about him

i am god!

a tear opens in the sky

allows passage for a searing lance

a moment later the acrid stench and the rumbling echo

the crowd slowly disperses

no praise for a pile of smoldering ash

2

now there are more

and the light in their eyes is a secret shade of madness

the hecklers scoff from hidden places

hesitant

not sure if the limits matter any more

afraid that the boundries have been forgotten

in place of the death-dusted robe

a legion of uniforms

gold buttons and blood-stained medals

the halo of pity has been thrown to the wolves

and the odds have been evened

a thousand turrets

and shafts and gleaming barrels

that catch and splinter the sun

banks and rows and bunkers and stockpiles

all poised and pointed bristling at the sky

that say

more eloquently than words

we are god!

fingers poised over buttons

punch down in save haste

all the sounds of destruction fill the air

the machineries of war

tangible grinding against intangible

the oceans shaking in their rocky basins

the hot lands coming apart

the golden gates of the kingdom crashing down

and the walls of heaven falling away

and nothing left in either place

3

a frail earthworm struggles up

through ash and rubble

and decaying layers of the past

it breaks through to the surface

stretching to full height against the pale red sky

looking about with sudden comprehension

saying in a slow, brittle voice

i am god?

there is no one left to refute it