The Irrepairable Past

Just short of two weeks into the release of The Irrepairable Past, 35 people have downloaded the e-book or bought the paperback. And the reviews are starting.

Carrie Rubin, author of the medical thrillers The Bone CurseEating Bull, and The Seneca Scourge (and if you haven’t read Rubin yet, you need to — all three are great books) has this to say about the book:

Once again Paxson delivers an evocative story with smooth, flowing prose and vivid description. You’ll feel like you’re sitting on the porch right there next to Henry. (And Bob, his egret companion!)

Wonderful thematic elements too, exploring the emotional scars we carry and the moments we miss out on when we dwell on the negatives in our lives rather than the positives. If we’re not careful, the clock will strike midnight before we remember to be grateful for what we had.

Paxson has a natural talent for connecting with the reader, which makes this a thoroughly engaging novella. There’s a bonus short story at the end too, along with a teaser for his next novel!

Susan K. Nichols, author of Red Clay & Roses (another good book you should give a try) and artist extraordinaire, had this to say:

Mark Paxson presents a quality story. (And, there’s a neat surprise or two.) The busier life gets, the more I appreciate shorter books. There were quite a few characters I could personally relate to in one way or another, and I found myself being introspective about how I interact with others when I am deeply engaged in my own stuff and how that may be affecting those around me. Lots of nuggets to take away from this one. And the added bonus of being reminded that sometimes the outcome is worth the risk. Enjoyable read.

A friend on Facebook bought the book for his mom. After she read the first chapter, she reported back to him:

Just finished 1st chapter of Irrepairable Past. Methinks your friend is a very talented writer. The words paint a picture, feelings he describes come to life, & I am intrigued.

If you’ve already purchased the book, thank you. If you haven’t, here’s your chance to read a story that is evocative, intriguing, and full of nuggets. And don’t forget, reviews are indie author’s best friends. So, buy, read, review!

And thank you!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bob the egret says, “Buy This Book!”

After years in the wilderness of writer’s block and indie publishing frustration – a lethal combination – I’m back. The first of what I hope to be four novellas published over the next year or so is now live on Amazon. At least the e-book is anyway. The paperback is coming in a week or two.

The Irrepairable Past, a piece I started too many years ago, can be found on Amazon via the image and link at the bottom of the post. I owe a thanks to a lot of people who have kept my interest in writing going over the last handful of years. I can’t possibly name everybody and don’t want forget somebody, so I’m not even going to try. But if you’ve read this blog or King Midget’s Ramblings, and commented here or there, or via email, or on Twitter, or just in person … you have helped. Without those random words of encouragement, I don’t think I would have pressed on and got to this place where Irrepairable is now available; Northville Five & Dime will be available in the next month or two; Northville Five & Dime, Part Two will follow a few months after that; and a fourth, unknown novella/novel will follow by the end of 2020.

I’m excited to be publishing again. I don’t see the point in all of the time and effort that goes into writing something if I’m not going to put the result out into the world.

So, give it a try. If you do, please post a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Reviews really help us indie authors. Thank you in advance.

 

The Irrepairable Past

Driven away by an unresolvable conflict with his father, Henry Thornton has spent a lifetime away from his childhood home. A life filled with sorrow and loss. A life that led him back to that childhood home, on the shores of Sullivan Bay, as his father lay dying, and where he wants nothing more than to be left alone, accompanied in his life only by an egret that graces him with its presence each evening.

The Irrepairable Past is Henry Thornton’s story. Through his motherless childhood and the destruction of his relationship with his father, his high school sweetheart and his decisions which led to her fleeing his side, a failed marriage, his father’s death, the Irrepairable Past traces Henry’s life of regrets and loss and his acceptance of a life alone, where he views the egret in the shallows as his only real friend.

 

Posted in Fiction, Mark Paxson | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

These Parts

A response to Trent Lewin’s short story of the same name. It struck something in me and I wanted to take a different approach.

These Parts

Your lips, soft and warm and moist. They whispered against my skin. I brushed them with my own. They opened and formed words that lifted me to the stars and beyond.

Your eyes, sparkling and opening me to your depths. I could have fallen in and been happy forever.

Your hips that curved.

Your neck that beckoned.

Your fit, perfectly within.

Your arms around me.

Your hands in mine.

Your breasts pressed against me.

Your warmth.

Your smile.

Your laugh.

Your tears.

You.

These parts.

I touched them once. I’ll never touch them again. But they will remain with me forever, in my heart, in my soul, wherever I go. These parts.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Wark Creek

 

Rippling water

Reflecting light

And shadows

 

Rushing

 

Whispering ripples

Filling quiet

And sound

 

Falling

 

Dancing sun

Sparkling bright

And clear

 

Running

 

Nature dances

Peaceful sounds

And signs

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

There Is No Can’t In Writing

I just read part of a thread on Twitter. It was prompted by a writer who saw a FB conversation about whether writers should write stories with a narrator or POV from a gender other than their own.

The writer who started the Twitter thread said that on FB most of the comments were opposed to writers writing in voices other than their own gender “because they usually get it wrong.” This was met with the typical Twitter emotion — outrage. In this instance, however, the outrage is justified.

There is no “can’t” in writing. Or there shouldn’t be.

When I wrote my first real piece of fiction — One Night in Bridgeport — I imagined a scenario I could put myself in. It’s not a situation I’ve ever been in, but I could imagine it. A one night stand followed by an accusation of rape. Putting myself into the main narrator’s head, imagining that it was me in that situation, provided me with the ability to write that story.

Every since then I have done everything I can to write stories from different perspectives, different voices, different characters.

The Marfa Lights — narrated by a teenager who has cerebral palsy and is wheelchair-bound.

Shady Acres — primarily narrated by a 100-year-old man. I’m not quite that old. Yet.

Northville Five and Dime — one of my WIP told in first person from the perspective of three different characters, two of whom are women, one of whom is paralyzed from the waist down.

Spaces After the Period — narrated by a young woman who likes bad boys until she meets a man who is the opposite of everything she imagined was right for her.

This list could go on and on and on. Very few of my stories are told by people who are me, like me. Why?

Because that’s the best part of writing. The challenge and the fun, after that first story, has always been in writing different stories about different people. There would be no challenge, no exploration, no fun in telling stories if the narrator was … well, just me. I’m far too plain vanilla for that.

While I was spending two years first writing and then re-writing Bridgeport I went to a writing conference at a local university. There were two concepts I heard there that have stayed with me ever since.

Dorothy Allison (who is most famous for writing  Bastard Out of South Carolina) gave a speech during the lunch in which she described how authors steal people. She described stopping at a gas station in some small southern town and while she was putting gas in her car, a police officer pulled over on a nearby street, took a hat box out of the back seat of his car, and walked into a store. That officer and that scene went into a story she was writing at the time.

I loved that idea. We steal people.

But the other point was more fundamental. One of the sessions was led by a critically acclaimed author whose name I no longer remember, but I think his first name was Al. During his talk, a woman kept standing up and asking him questions. The one question I remember was that she had heard you can’t switch POVs in the middle of a chapter. That if you switch POV, you need to do it in a new chapter.

With each of her questions, “Al” kept saying the same thing.

There are no rules in writing, except for one. The only rule in writing is to write a good story. If you can do that, nothing else matters.

That has been the guiding “rule” for my writing ever since I heard him utter those words. It is why I enjoy writing (as difficult as it is today). The opportunities and possibilities are boundless.

By the way, during one of the sessions at that conference, we were tasked with writing something. It was then that I wrote my first short story. The story is about an immigrant from Mexico who sells ice cream from a cart, whose wife died when they were crossing the border, and who is struggling with raising his son alone while he mourns the love of his life.

None of those elements mirror any fact or experience of my life. If I can write a story like that, why in hell can’t I write stories with a female POV?

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

What Do We Hide?

What do we hide

As we walk down the street

Wrapped in shirts and blouses

Pants and skirts

 

What do we hide

Behind our laughing smiles

When we grimace and frown

Or just turn away

 

What do we hide

Inside the skin we wear

The one we show the world

That hides us.

 

Is it the flab we think is too much

The blemishes we believe embarrass

Hideous tattoos we wish we hadn’t

Bumps and bulges that are a shame

 

Or maybe it’s something deeper

The scars of an abusive father

A neglectful mother

An uncle that took his liberties

 

Or maybe it’s something intangible

A conviction of being unworthy

An insecurity that nothing is enough

Or the relentless worry that halts

 

What do we hide

When we walk in the world

In a skin that is not ours

Which protects us

 

What do we hide

At our core we have a secret

Wrap it in a false skin

No one will know

 

What if

We wore our real skin

Revealed our real truth

Shared our real being

 

What if

We revealed our tattoos

Our scars

Our fears

Our loves

Our tears

Our dreams

Our thoughts

Our skin

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Nobody Important

Over at my blog, I posted awhile back about how writing prompts can help a struggling writer. In that post I highlighted Eat. Create. Repeat. – Kira’s blog where she posts regular prompts that run the gamut from poetry prompts to photo prompts to flash fiction prompts. She is now starting a project that focuses on helping blocked writers find tools that can help them get unblocked.

At the beginning of 2019, I found another blog that is offering daily flash fiction prompts. Ravyn Whyt starts each post with the prompt and is including her response to that prompt. I’ve written something in response to several of her prompts, including the prompt for January 10. I posted it in the comments section and added that I didn’t feel like it was really done.

So …

This morning, I took a stab at carrying it a little further. Here it is.

Nobody Important

I was sitting in a room. A single light bulb in the center of the ceiling lit the space. I was at a table, sitting in a chair. Whenever I put my hands on the table or leaned on it, it rocked forward, one leg shorter than the rest making it impossible for the table to settle into an even plane.

It had been a long night. I’d fled the scene as quickly as I could and got home, locking all the doors, turning off all the lights. Joe texted me, “Dude!” Marvin texted an unhappy emoji. I texted Cici, my girlfriend. Five times. She didn’t reply. It was the first time she’d ever done that.

I tossed and turned for a bit and finally fell asleep. They came at 2:00 in the morning, pounding on my front door. I went without resistance. I’d seen what happens when a black man resists.

A door into the room was shut. Along one wall was a mirror that I knew was two-way. There were people back there watching, waiting to see if I’d sweat or somehow reveal guilt through my actions.

I didn’t. I drummed my fingers on the table, whistled a happy tune, pretended to nap.

And a couple of hours after I was deposited in the room, the door opened. In stepped a police officer in uniform. He sat down across from me. Behind him came a detective in plain clothes. He closed the door and stood next to it, his back against the wall.

I waited to see which one would be the good cop, which one would be the bad. Turns out it didn’t matter. They just gave it to me straight.

The detective spoke first. “You know why you’re here?”

“Yeah, sure.” I shrugged, picking up the drumming on the table again. “It’s about what happened last night. At the game.”

The detective spoke again, while the uniformed officer just stared at me. “Yes, the game. Somebody set off a fire alarm. 16,000 people panicked and tried to storm out of the arena all at once. Seventeen died. Over five hundred were hurt. Both numbers may go up.”

I didn’t say anything. I waited. The officer filled the silence. “You know anything about it.”

“Nope, not me.” Listen. I knew. They knew I knew. I knew they knew I knew. And on and on. But I couldn’t make it easy for them, could I? I had to put up a bit of a fight, even if it was pretty feeble.

The officer got up, walked around the table slowly, sat back down. “Well, that’s interesting. We’ve got video from a security camera that shows you pulling the alarm. Same flannel shirt, faded jeans, mustache and bald patch at the back of your head.” He put his hand on my drumming fingers, making me stop. “You want to see it?” He didn’t take his hand off of mine.

“Well, it didn’t end the way I expected, but at least nobody important died. Okay. I pulled the alarm. It was supposed to be a joke?”

“I’m thinking the families of those seventeen dead individuals might disagree. It’s barely been twelve hours and they’re already planning a memorial outside the arena for tonight. It’s at 6:00. Maybe you should go?”

I shrugged again and looked at the officer, pulling my hand out from under his. It was kind of creepy to tell you the truth. His hand on mind, the sweat from his palm mingling with mine.

“Yeah, maybe.” I decided to stall for time. Time for what, who knows? I’d just admitted to my role. “Can I get a cigarette?”

The detective pulled a pack out of nowhere and gave me a cigarette. He had a lighter in his hand before I knew it and lit the end. I took a long drag and blew the smoke out.

“You said something interesting, Cole, about nobody important dying,” The officer looked back at the detective who left his place by the door and took the last vacant seat at the table. He pulled out his phone and put it on the table. The uniform, Officer Smeltz by his nametag, continued, “Whose your favorite player on the Kings?”

“Hmmm. Hurley, probably.”

“Yes, of course. Ellison Hurley IV. Everybody’s favorite, right?”

Hurley was the sweet shooting guard drafted three years earlier. The smoothest release and biggest grin this side of Steph Curry. He’d put the Kings on his shoulders at the beginning of the season and ridden them to their first winning record in more than ten years. It was March, the playoffs were possible. Everybody loved him.

“Like I said. It was supposed to be a joke. My friends and I do stupid things. This was …”

The detective interrupted me. “We knew Hurley is your favorite.”

“Yes,” I snapped. “He’s everybody’s.”

“No, that’s not why.” He leaned over his phone and tapped the screen a couple of times, swiped up then left and then held it out to me. “Push play.”

I did. The video was from a security camera in the Kings Corner, the store in the arena where they sold Kings branded gear. Everything from pencils to coffee cups to Christmas ornaments to shirts and jerseys of every type. The camera showed people running by outside the empty store for a few seconds and then I walked past the camera. Inside the store, which was empty since everybody was fleeing, I walked up to a rack and slipped a Hurley jersey off a hanger and put it on as I walked out of the store and joined the fleeing hordes.

“Okay,” I tried for more nonchalance. “So what?”

“Hold on a sec,” Officer Smeltz said. “There’s more.” He motioned to the detective, who picked up his phone and tapped and swiped a few more times.

This time the view was from a camera high up in the rafters, focused down on the corner of the arena where the Kings bench was. The detective told me, “We’ve got security cameras on everything. If you’re at the game and pick your nose, we’ll know about it. Push Play.”

“Listen. I didn’t realize this was going to happen. How could I know that a fire alarm down in the loading area would set the whole damned mess off. I didn’t realize there would be sprinklers. I didn’t realize it would be that loud. I didn’t realize …” And that was the problem, I didn’t realize that those sprinklers were more like water cannons and that the entire fire detection system was one completely integrated complex of alarms and signals and sprinklers and that all hell would break loose. I just didn’t realize it.

“Push Play.”

So, I did. For the first few seconds, it showed the Kings bench, the crowd behind. Everybody watching the action on the court. Hurley was taking his early fourth quarter rest with a towel draped over his head. Suddenly, the shrill bleating sound of the arena’s fire alarms pierced through and then the water cannons let loose and everybody was running. The view on the video shifted to another camera and it showed Hurley starting to run towards the exit that took the players back to their locker rooms, there were fans and players in front of him and behind and they were all panicked.

I watched and saw what I didn’t want to see. Just before he left the floor area, Hurley disappeared.

He went down. I didn’t see him get up. The video shifted again. The fleeing crowd was gone, but on the floor, right where the parquet of the playing surface becomes the concrete leading into the bowels of the arena, there was a body in a Kings uniform.

“Okay. Somebody important died.” I looked up at Officer Smeltz as the video stopped. “I guess that’s gonna be one hell of a memorial tonight.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments