Facilitation – How A Prompt Becomes A Novella

The latest edition of my podcast is up. The opening pages of a recently completed draft of Facilitation, a novella that got its start from a writing prompt back in October.

As always, here is the link on Spotify, but the podcast can be found on other podcast platforms, including ITunes and Apple’s podcast app. Just search for Slice of Life Stories and select the one with the sunset and my name on it.

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New Podcast Episode

Just listen …

(This is the link to Spotify, but the podcast, Slice of Life Stories, can also be found on other podcast platforms, including the iTunes Store and the Apple Podcast App. If you listen and the platform provides an opportunity for ratings or reviews, please do so.)

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Ghosts

(I may delete this. Since I published it I’ve learned that at least two if not all three of the men were likely active participants in what appears to be a gun battle between rival gangs.)

Ghosts wander the streets now

Of the living and the dead

Sergio Harris, 38, father of three. Vivacious and fun-loving. His sister refused to leave the scene until his body was removed.

Nothing but a ghost now …

Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi, 32, father of six, all under the age of 9. His mother saw videos and images on social media that showed his body in the streets.

Nothing but a ghost now …

Melinda Davis, 57, homeless and living where the shooting took place for much of the last 15 years. Described as quiet and sweet.

Nothing but a ghost now …

Johntaya “JoJo” Alexander, 21, youngest of four. Had recently moved into her own place. Dreams of becoming a social worker. JoJo was there to pick up her sister.

Nothing but a ghost now …

DeVazia Turner, 29, four children left without a father. His face “would light up a room.” His mother went to the scene to be where he drew his last breath.

Nothing but a ghost now …

Yamile Martinez-Andrade, 21, worked as a landscaper and was there for a concert. Her family is “still in shock.”

Nothing but a ghost now …

But

They remain far more than ghosts

They are memories now

Of joy and family

Of dreams and friends

Of hopes and fears

Ghosts in a way

But far more

To those they loved

And there are other ghosts

Of the people responsible

Who may still live

But only in a ghostly way

They are the real ghosts

While they haunt and stoke fear

Their own lives

Are ephemeral and empty

Of humanity and decency

Ghosts who walk among us

Ghosts

Nothing more than ghosts

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Tick Tock

2:00 a.m.

Tick

Do you know where your children are?

Tock

76 shots

— photo courtesy of Jay Rembert via Unsplash

Tick

54 seconds

Tock

6 Dead

12 Injured

Tick Tock

People fleeing

Multiple shooters

Tick Tock

A family arrives to find their son

Confirmed he was a victim

His body on the street

A sister remains as long as his body remains

Tick Tock

Thoughts and Prayers

Millions of dollars more promised along with

Calls to action, calls for unity

A community grieves

Tick Tock

Yet life goes on

An NBA game to be played

A musical to be performed

Lunches just down the street

Tick Tock

It’s ‘Murica, you know

Guns are everywhere

Embedded in our culture

Glued to us permanently it seems

Tick Tock

MAKE THIS CLOCK STOP!

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The Thunder Had Gone

The newest episode of my podcast, Slice of Life Stories, is up. I re-discovered this story that I posted here almost seven years ago. It was a co-writing experience with the incredible Trent Lewin. I go back and read things like this, that I wrote years ago, and feel like I’ve lost something in the years since. But, it is what it is, as they say.

Here is the link for the written version of the story.

And here is the link to the audio version on Spotify. As always, the podcast can be found on most other podcast platforms.

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The Marfa Lights

Slice of Life Stories is back with a new episode. This time, the opening to The Marfa Lights.

Some day I’ll get through these things without a couple of stumbles, or learn how to edit on Anchor.

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New Podcast Episode

And a new season too. Season Three I’m calling first chapters. Each episode will be the first chapter of one of my longer pieces. Novels, novels, and long short stories. I’ll fill in at the end with some additional episodes featuring the first chapters of some works in progress.

First up is the first chapter of The Irrepairable Past. A novella I published about two years ago. The link for my reading of it is below. And yes, I’m recovering from a head cold, so there are some random sniffles included in the “sound effects.” Think of it as one of the additional benefits of a more or less amateur podcast. One of my goals in the coming weeks is to improve the quality of these recordings.

Here is the Spotify link. The podcast can also be found on the Apple Podcast app, the ITunes Store, and other podcast platforms.

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Gramps’s Stereo … and … The Watcher

And so with another episode of my podcast, Slice Of Life Stories, I offer two short stories. As I read these I was reminded of some readers who complain that somebody always dies in my stories. Well, not in every story, but all too frequently, and these stories are no exception.

As always, this is the Spotify Link, but it’s also available in the ITunes Store, on the Apple Podcast app, and other podcast platforms.

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What NaNoWriMo Means To Me

National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, is what started my writing life. For the uninitiated, it’s a creature of the internet age. An on-line effort to get people writing. The “objective” is to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November.

For years, I toyed with the idea of writing a novel. It was something I wanted to try some day. The only problem was that I had no idea about how to go about doing the thing. I’d occasionally have these ideas for opening lines or opening scenes, but I had no idea how to go further than that.

One day, a good friend who knew of this wish of mine told me about NaNoWriMo. It was the end of October. I believe it was 2003. I looked it up and then a magical thing occurred. I outlined (and I use that term loosely) a story in my head and on November 1, I started writing.

I didn’t write 50,000 words during that month. I think it was somewhere around 20,000 over the next couple of months. Than I stalled until I bought a laptop so I could write while being with my family, instead of going into the office and isolating myself from my young kids.

A year later, I had a novel that would eventually become One Night in Bridgeport. And the door was blown wide open. I’ve been writing ever since, although I’ve struggled with imposter syndrome, doubt, and writer’s block for several years now.

In the years since, I’ve tried NaNoWriMo two other times. Those efforts never went very far because I couldn’t turn off my internal editor, my internal critic. NaNoWriMo requires something that I typically don’t have — the ability to just write, to just let the words come out and type them and hope that it all makes sense. That’s just not the way my writing has developed over the last 18 years. I think about things a lot and my internal critic tells me regularly that what I’m doing is crap. As a result, this November tradition hasn’t done much for me since 2003.

As November 2021 approached, I thought of giving it a try again. It’s been a number of years since my last effort. I thought that maybe I could use NaNoWriMo to kick start something, to finish a WIP, to do something. Anything. It’s been months since I’ve done any serious writing. Maybe this was the time.

Then, in October, I wrote a short story via a writing exercise I put up on WritersSupportingWriters, and I decided to use NaNoWriMo to see if I could take that story further. Turn it into a novel.

To do that, I had to turn off that damn internal voice of mine. Or maybe it is internal voices. Because there are many voices having a conversation in my head. I wasn’t sure I could do that.

I needed to try. So, now, a little over half way through November, I have 25,000 words on this story. I’ve adopted the NaNoWriMo ethos and am just writing and writing. And whenever that little voice starts to make itself known, I shut it down. I am writing.

I know that I’ll have to go back and do a lot of work on this story if I want it to be anything real, but for now, it’s good to just write. That said, I’m getting a little worn out by the daily routine. I’m trying really hard to keep up with the word count. To meet the goal of 50,000 words. Last night, I wrote some, but not enough. For the first time this month, I’ve fallen behind the pace I need to be on to meet the goal.

And tonight, instead of writing the story, I’m writing this post. It’s time to get back to the story. NaNoWriMo, don’t fail me now.

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Sunbaked Sand

A story first published in The First Line and also found in Shady Acres and Other Stories.

(A note: for some reason, Anchor didn’t let me add background music. But you may hear a leaf blower and a dog barking in the background.)

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