Category Archives: Writing

Have we met? I love you.

Imagine having a relationship with someone for years, decades perhaps, and never having met them.

I’ve known people, through my work on the net, literally for decades. One fellow, Charles Carroll, I met while writing magazine articles for MIND (Microsoft Internet Developer) in the late 90’s, and while we worked on that ancient technology known as Classic ASP. We still connect, though infrequently. I’ve never met the man.

I once worked for a fellow for five years; we never spoke. Only exchanged emails.

These days it’s as common as “Alexa: play my morning mix”. We get to know folks — through the internet — and may never speak to them, never see them, never identify who they really are. But yet, we know them.

Attachment through familiarity. Time does that to folks in occasional, or frequent contact — regardless of the medium of communication. Consider penpals: a 19th and 20th century pastime which hooked up people from across realms, countries, continents. They exchanged pleasantries, goings-on, and perhaps, more deeply, misgivings, personal beliefs and aspirations.

Did they meet? Seldom is my guess. But still, they developed a relationship. Perhaps a true and soul-penetrating connection that may have held the two ends-of-their-string up for years.

Today this exists anew. All of you have people you interact with whom you’ve never met. Will never meet. Are such relationships lesser than because of this physical divide? I think not. I think there are those of you with whom I’ve connected, on some level, through this digital bridge. And I think you too have made connections to folks you feel attached to, indebted to, cosmically enmeshed to the point where their absence might leave you wondering — what happened? Where are you? You might feel deflated somewhat, lost.

What if they were to go away and you would never know them again. Their cheerful notes would cease. Their place in your ritual would gap open, unfulfilled. Their vanishing would leave a hole in your life, one that you might not patch, not really knowing if their absence was permanent — or their delay of interaction simply stretched out.

Stretched out and out… until forgotten.

I’m certain, were some of us to meet, we’d be fast friends, confidants and fishing buddies. And as you disappear from my virtual life, and I from yours, recall that there was a spark of connection shared between us.

I’ve never met you, but I love you.


Writer’s Log: 1734 – If only…

For those of you who care to follow my writing progress, here’s a brief interlude:


If I could slap a button, big, round and red, and send myself back to such a time – POOF! That would be the end of me.

POV: First Person
Era/locale: 25,000 years ago, North American Western Coast
I’m going for “Hunger Games” style action and description. This is just an experiment, a diversion. One I’ve probably wanted to write since I was 17. It’s just a teaser, but, well, judge it for writerly-progress.


Writer’s Log: 1732 Neil Gaiman

EXCERPT FROM “The View from the Cheap Seats”:

“I was, as I said, twenty-five years old, and I had an idea for a book and I knew it was a real one.

I tried writing it, and realized that it was a better idea than I was a writer. So I kept writing, but I wrote other things, learning my craft. I wrote for twenty years until I thought that I could write The Graveyard Book–or at least, that I was getting no better.

I wrote it as best I could. That’s the only way I know how to write something. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be any good. It just means you try. And, most of all, I wrote the story that I wanted to read.


And then, whether the work was good or bad, whether it did what you hoped or it failed, as a writer you shrug, and you go on to the next thing, whatever the next thing is. That’s what we do.


We who make stores know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort.

And that is why we write.”


The above was from Neil’s acceptance speech for the 2009 Newbery Medal.

  • I had an idea for a book and I knew it was a real one.
    There you go. You sometimes just KNOW that an idea is a good one.
  • It was a better idea that I was a writer.
    Wisdom told him that he shouldn’t write this story ‘just yet’. Wow. How many of us would just blunder into it and write it anyway?
  • I wrote it as best I could.
    Is that not all everyone of us can hope for? To write as best we can — at-the-time?
  • I wrote a story that I wanted to read.
    Please yourself as a writer. Do that, and what you produce /may/ become something that will please others.
  • You go on to the next thing.
    Write. Edit. Perfect (to the best of your ability) — and move one. That is the single biggest lesson here. Just. Keep. Writing.
  • Someone there needs your story.
    The world is huge. And if you have a TRUE story to tell, unique, well conceived, and well executed — then there WILL be an audience for it. Maybe not in your lifetime. But someday. Would you deny them, that one person, in the near/far future who benefits and is changed by your story? No!Write your Story!

Cocky du’Cotaigne

This is a piece, rendered silly and pompous for the purpose of donating to the effort to befuddle the woman who has just now tried to TRADEMARK the word “Cocky” for all romance novels released in the US. Like Taylor Swift, who trademarks her lyrics (not just copyrights them — which is built in — but trademarks them!)


My blunderbuss misfired. I’d primed the pan, loaded the damned thing with the patience of a milkmaid, but pffft! The contraption, it must have weighed a stone, fizzled and spit back in my face.

“Cocky! Cocky” The cry came from a small boy, waving his hands and pointing to the breach of my weapon.

“What the devil are you going on about – ‘cocky’?”

“Ze cocky, ee moost be pulled waaay back. No middle like da baby dinky.”

I tilted my head his way. He stood on the low stone wall, gesticulating like he wanted to fly away. As I presented the fouled gun he tapped his finger to the hammer that had struck poorly. “Oh, you mean to cock the hammer fully back.” I shifted the lengthy piece to my hip and patted the boy on the head. “Where’d you come by such expertise?”

“Oh, de cocky on da bus is my favorite. All de musketeers de come to me to clean and polish dair busses.”

Hmm, I thought. Here’s a fellow who pays attention. I wonder if he knows of the name of that raven haired vixen I spied when I arrived. “Say, young bus-master, there’s a woman…”

“Oh, you must mean da one-eyed-wonder, Argina.”

“What? One-eyed… No, no.” I tired of hefting the awkward piece so I lay it down onto its leather scabbard. I managed to tip the shot-pouch and spill the balls into the dirt. The cocky little urchin giggled at my mistake. “No, she, the woman, dark-haired, like a stormy cloud and full, here…” I motioned with my hands.

“Si’, de’s is Argina. With only one eye she can hit the tip of the bull’s penis from fifty paces.”

“Bull’s pen…”

“Da flies, they lay d’er eggs in the moist folds.”

“That’s enough. Thank you. So, this Argina, she is fixed with two eyes, here?”

“Oh, Si’. Two beeutiful eyes, deep like the barrels of…”

A loud percussion sounded from behind us. Another musketeer had approached, loaded and fired his weapon into the bales at the end of the range. The nimble urchin-boy dashed off to advise and pester the other marksman.

The fellow bent his hip out, and allowed the weight of the burdensome blunderbuss to settled through his arm, to his hip and then to the ground. Clever posture, I thought. He stood facing me, a left-handed shooter, unlucky that. But he seemed to wield the firearm with mastery. The bulge below his waist, I figured, must have been a repository for extra powder. No one could have such a large… I decided that such a person would be someone, given the obvious accuracy of his shot, I might want to befriend.

“Say, I see you’ve made your acquaintance with our range-rat. You’re not making a nuisance of yourself are you?” I physically picked the boy up and set him back on the wall behind the man.

The fellow, suave and well manicured, had already reloaded and was just now lifting his buss up to his off-handed stand in preparation for discharge. He paused in his aiming and looked me in the eye.

“Are you referring to Cocky-Dee? This boy here runs the range, for his dead father, the sorry sod. His mother, she whores in town. Argina will gladly take your load, were you to shoot straight. A task I doubt you could muster.”

I stood back, my mouth open like a dungeon door. The gall of the man! As I made to form my rebuttal, he took aim and fired his fully cocked piece. A cloud of grey-blue smoke filled the line and drifted my way. I coughed roughly as I watched the boy dash down range to retrieve the yellowed target.

“Ooh, look, senor. You ‘ave keeled de bull here and here.”

I’d had enough of this fellow’s bluster and bravado. “I see you sport a rapier. Are you as versed with it as your buss?”

“Ah, I have offended you. I would apologize, but, your smell, it has offended me even more.”

I reached for the handle of my steel, but the boy slipped between us.

“Pleeze, senors. We must not fight mano-e-mano. Eet ees de French who must pay with der blood for what de have done to us.”

I settled my haft back into its sheath. “That scar you carry. A favor from the Duke’s men?”

The young musketeer ran a gloved hand down his jaw. “A distinguishing mark paid for in full by the lives of three of his own.”

“Three? Or was it a drunken whore with a hang-nail?”

A grin stretched across his face. His nascent beard spread with the motion. “I am d’Artagnan. And you are?”

I’d returned to fetch my buss and held it, leaning to my side, its weight a load on my mind and vision of the future. “I am Cocky du’Cotaigne, at your, limited service.”

I’m a poet, don’t you know it.

Poetry that doesn’t rhyme,
Taps my brain, takes too much time,
To figure out the weird, strange beat,
The double meaning, the awkward mete,
I’d rather just go read some tweets.


I work too hard, all damn day,
writing code, beyond dismay.
So complex, it sucks me dry,
that in the end, my only cry,

To read warped thoughts, of twisted nuance,
lead me here, or drag me there, once,
I fathom the layered meaning,
I’ll gain the insight, glowing, gleaming, an

Give me simple, give me plain,
feed me pablum, my mind is drained.
Don’t make me work your hidden message,
sad similes and allusions presage a,

To live is to lie

Fiction is lying.

The fabrication of a make-believe story, perhaps without a shred of substantiation in the real world, is, in all meaningful ways, a lie. Some archeologists believe that the ability to lie, to tell stories, may be what set Homo Sapiens Sapiens apart. The imagining of an untrue event or situation is effectively self-deception. You lie to yourself envisioning the story and then lie to others in telling it.

Everyone lies. If you can create an imaginary world, if you can daydream of some future possibility or rework some past debacle or failure in some better light, you’re effectively inventing a temporary lie.

Stories which depict truthful characters, virtuous and pure champions are boring. As we all lie, creating a character who does not, conflicts with all of our natural understanding of human behavior.

Therefore, in writing fiction, lie. Lie with the telling and then have every one of your characters fib in some way, small or large. Double speak builds intrigue. Deceit is delicious. Layering speculation upon a character’s actions and speech seasons the reader’s mind with savory questions. The more ‘why’s you have, the more conflict you can drive into your story.

Secrets are lies, one could say. Given the opportunity to divulge a notion and failing to do so? Why? Is the information contained within that secret a form of leverage? Power? Did your character lie when they said they didn’t know of an underground passage out of the castle? So they could use it themselves? Why allude to an unloaded gun when simply by hefting it I can tell it’s got at least five rounds in it. Why whisper to me of your upcoming betrayal? To implicate me as well? To persuade me to lie upon your behalf when confronted?

To live is to lie. Our stories should be no different.

The Writer’s Stew

Imagine a tasty stew.

Savory meats, root vegetables, maybe some thick noodles or dumplings, a fine rich stock all simmering for hours on low. The aroma and unctuous anticipation of slipping some of that luscious meal down your throat just makes your mouth drip like Sobaki, Pavlov’s favorite dog.

That is how I think writing becomes art.

When you can savor your characters, mull their foibles, their idiosyncrasies, taste the strange way they walk, sit, talk, sleep — then you can simply write them into your story. There is no work. You sit there within your story stew, nestle up to a potato and describe its grainy texture, its bitter skin, the way it appears to take over the bowl but with the press of a fork, crumbles.

Imagining all of your characters, in the story scenarios you want to eventually place them within, is, I believe, a necessary stage in writing a truthful story. True in that your characters are true to your notions of them. That how they react and respond to the story’s plot events is not forced or unnatural. But smooth like a saucy soup.

I’m trying to live with the eleven characters who will make up the story “Iced”. That’s a bunch of people, and I have to slip them in gradually. Only I can’t. They all wake up together. And, of course, every one of them is a murderer… So, I have this stew being unpleasantly hot at times, and laced with shards of splintered bone in others. But, hopefully, no one will choke and die. Well, no reader will expire while slurping this sumptuous stew.