Blood & Tacos gets another review.
The first draft of my “Battleground U.S.S.A.” sequel is finished. The first go-round was a short story, but this one’s a novella, which makes it comparatively epic. I’ve been working on it since August.
Since I started writing this kind of stuff, I’ve learned a new phrase: world building. When you’re writing a story (no matter how silly or satirical) where the Red Army has taken over half the United States, you gotta have your places and internal logic intact. As a writer, you need to know how the Russians came to town, what they brought to the fight, and why they started it in the first place. The trick is letting that stuff stay in the background where it belongs without taking over the story.
Now the first draft is over, and the real fun begins.
Нет длительные перерывы позволили между первым и вторым турами!
I’ve been trying to view the Andromeda Galaxy for years. Finally, I got my chance. I was on the beach an hour ago under a dark sky. I had some binoculars and spotted the galaxy easily. It looked like an oblong, hazy patch, surrounded by a field of stars. Andromeda wasn’t much to look at, even with binoculars. You’d need a big telescope and a lot of exposure time to get the image above. But with astronomy, context is everything. It was nice to see this distant thing with my own eyes and know what I was looking at.
What I learned at today’s school shootings training (with apologies to Harper’s Index):
Occurrence of U.S. mass shootings, times the world average: 270
Percentage of mass shootings that take place in schools: 25
Percentage of shooters now wearing body armor: 24
Percentage carrying more than one weapon: 36
Percentage who had no prior police record: 42
Number of mock assault rifle attacks I helped disarm today: 7 or 8
Number where I sustained a real-life bruise, ding, or scrape: 7 or 8
Number of disarmings I performed correctly: 1
Number of times I would have been gut-shot by an AR-15: 6 or 7
Ratio of cops and ex-military to educators at today’s training: 2 to 1
Educators who were required to be there: 0
Percentage of mass shootings that are committed by one person: 98
Percentage of mass shooters that are male: 97
Length of the average school shooting, in minutes: 12
Percentage that last 5 minutes or less: 37
Percentage of shootings where police arrive after the show’s over: 47
Average number of dead: 3
Average number of wounded: 4
Since 1980, the number of kids who have died in school fires: 0
Since 1980, the number of kids who have died in school shootings: 300
The number of teachers: 45
The number of fire drills in which I’ve participated since becoming a teacher in 1996: 150+
The number of school shooting drills: 0
I attended Johnny Shaw’s Noir at the Bar event tonight at Beulahland on Northeast 28th. Johnny and five other crime writers read short stories and other excerpts of their work. Featured were Greg Rucka, Barry Graham, Lisa Alber, Chris La Tray, and Roger Hobbs.
I especially enjoyed Alber’s reading from her upcoming Irish murder mystery Kilmoon, which will be out in April.
Graham, who never has anything nice to say about his native Glasgow, recited his selection from memory. His story was the finest I’ve heard involving one man eating another man’s eyeball.
I’m on the slate for the next event. After hearing Graham’s eyeball thing, I need to read from “Clutch.”
My short story collection Featured Extras is on display at Powell’s City of Books! It’s also available for sale in paperback and on Kindle. You can find more information about the collection here.
My spoof/satire short story “Battleground U.S.S.A.” is up at Creative Guy Publishing’s Blood & Tacos. Join Capt. Mike McCreary and his ragtag squad of freedom fighters as they tangle with Communist invaders in North Texas.
Blood & Tacos is a magazine that pays tribute to men’s fiction, especially from the 1960s and ’70s. The stories were written quick n’dirty, with a splash of pure testosterone. I’m happy with how my story turned out, especially since I got paid to write it.
Next up, I hope, is my short story collection. Lots of work there yet to do.
It’s nice to see someone you know hit one out of the park.
Amazon.com has published Dove Season: A Jimmy Veeder Fiasco, by my friend Johnny Shaw. Johnny’s crime novel was a finalist for Amazon’s 2010 Breakthrough Novel Award. Not surprisingly, a book deal followed. John just returned home to Portland after his book tour, and from what I’ve heard, Dove Season is flying off the shelves (or into Kindles, or however it is that people are reading books these days).
The book follows the misadventures of Jimmy Veeder, who returns to the stark, strange landscape of Southern California’s Imperial Valley. The valley is home to the father, the farm, and the friends that Veeder abandoned years before. Now, years after graduating from college but not amounting to much, Veeder has heard that his father has terminal cancer. Veeder heads home to say goodbye. He quickly learns that staying away might have been a better choice.
Veeder tries to honor his father’s dying request to find a Mexican prostitute named Yolanda. His quest entangles him and his old friends in one deadly mishap after another. The book takes its readers on dangerous trips into a labyrinth of irrigation canals, into the unforgiving desert, and across the border into Mexico’s lawless frontier.
Long before I read Dove Season, Johnny told me story after story about growing up in the Imperial Valley. He spoke almost affectionately of the polluted rivers, the high school trips into Mexicali, and the frogs that lived in the swamp of his father’s improbably flooded basement. In my own attempts at writing fiction, I’ve tried—with mixed results—to mine my own childhood and teenage experiences and turn them into pieces worth reading. It’s nice to see how a master craftsman actually pulls it off.
I like how Johnny has branded his story as “A Jimmy Veeder Fiasco,” as though we’ve only begun to get to know Jimmy Veeder. In fiction and in real life, fiascoes make the best stories. I’m glad that we might see more of them.