Monday, November 9, 2009

Werewolf Manifesto?

When I started blogging about writing a werewolf novel, I thought they were fictitious creatures, but I've been amazed at some of the werewolves I've met online. Seems like there's some movement going on in their packs. I think they might be plotting something.

This morning, I found a sheet of paper slid under my door. This is what it said:

For thirty centuries you have harbored a prejudice against our kind. You have hunted us, driven us into the forest, shot us, beheaded us, burned us at the stake. You have slandered us and libeled us, accused us of hunting you, killing your children, feeding off you and your livestock. You have made us silent and invisible, even as you exploit our images and our wisdom by forcing us to serve you while we pretend to be human.

The days of your ascendance are over.

From now on, we will not be your victims. We will not let you tell your lies.

We will not hunt you for prey, but we will make sure justice is done.

Remember this: We exist. We are in your towns and farms, and we are in your cities. We are watching. And we do not forget.

What do you think? A cyne manifesto?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Chapter I (continued)

I love my kids. I do, I love all my kids, from the biggest down to the smallest. This last one, I don’t know, I can’t help thinking I should have been a little more, what’s the word, engaged. Not that there’s anything wrong. He seems to be turning out okay, inasmuch as anybody can be okay given the uncertainty in the world. He plays sports, he gets decent grades, he’s got friends, he’s got a girlfriend, all the signs are okay. What’s to worry about?Still, I wonder sometimes if I should have paid more attention. Played with the Legos, built forts in the backyard, that sort of thing.

I did that with the first two, Tom and Jason. Then we had the two girls, Elsa and Jonna. And I made an honest effort with the dolls and the tea sets. But really, I was running out of juice as a parent by that time. Seven years zoomed by, and then we were pregnant once again. Of course we were thrilled. But he was a bit of a surprise, was Mikey.That was fifteen, almost sixteen years ago. So there’ve been kids in the house for over twenty-five years. And I love that, I really do. But every so often, I’d like a little peace and quiet. A little me-time, as the ladies say. Not that that translates into a bubble bath with scented candles, the whole nine yards, but it is a chance to breathe and relax and not listen to anybody. And not meet anybody’s expectations. It’s a time to eat a hot dog on a bun with mustard and ketchup, but no plate underneath, nothing but a paper napkin between it and the carpet. Darlene’s at knitting class, and what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.

So here I am, walking in the door, just a little bit late, but that’s okay. I stopped at the store for a couple of things, some of that Bleak Abbey Ale and a jar of hamburger relish. That’s the red kind of relish, the kind with ketchup mixed in. And, believe it or not, a jar of kimchee. I like hamburger relish and kimchee on my hot dog, something you just can’t get at the ballpark. I walk in the door, set my briefcase on the stool and the paper bag on the counter. I let my arms drop to my sides, hanging at the waist, and I breathe. So quiet. Just the ticking of the kitchen clock and the bubbling of the fish tank in the hall. Heaven.

Dinner can wait. The first order of business is to crack open a beer and plop down in front of the TV set. I’d like to be watching the Sonics game, but they aren’t here anymore so I’ll settle for the Sounders. Soccer moves fast enough. I made the JV basketball team in high school but I wasn’t tall enough for varsity. As for my kids, none of them was really interested, except the youngest, Mikey, and Lord knows he’s too short.

I sit on the couch, kick my shoes off, put my feet up on the coffee table. Pick up the remote and start channel surfing. I take a swig of beer and switch to ESPN. A few minutes go by. I start to feel that someone’s watching. The hair on the back of my neck stands up. I turn my head to the left, slowly. Nobody there. I turn my head to the right, but before my chin is pointing the same direction as my shoulder, I hear a yell. “Hyaar!” it goes, and there’s a light karate chop to my shoulder.

Instantly I’m up and turning to the back of the couch, and there’s my kid, Mikey, halfway over the back of the couch, laughing at me. “You little shit,” I say. We shadow box, then I try to grab him, but he’s too quick for his old man. So there’s a chase around the living room. Finally, I grab him by the shoulders of his denim jacket and drag him over the couch onto the floor.

He bangs his shin on the coffee table. “Shit,” he laughs. “That hurt.”Then he gives a kick that glances off the table surface, just enough to knock the table to the side and knock the beer over.

“You little pisser,” I say. “You’re gonna pay for that.” I grab him in a headlock and hold him for about thirty seconds. But he’s the wrestler, I’m just the middle-aged dad, so, even though I’m bigger and—supposedly—stronger, he wriggles out and jumps up. “Clean that up, kid,” I say. He runs into the guest bathroom down the hall, grabs Darlene’s nice towels, and thows them on the beer that’s collecting in a puddle on the carpet. “Uh oh,” I say. “You really screwed up now... Everybody knows we’re not supposed to use those towels.”

“Hey, this is an emergency.”

“Maybe it is,” I say. “You better scram. Let me handle your mom.”

“Okay, I’m out of here.”

“Not so fast, kid. What time you coming home?”

“Midnight.” I make the game show wrong-answer noise. “Errh. Try again.”


“Make it ten thirty. And don’t be late.”

“Okay dad. See you.”And he was gone, leaving me on my hands and knees, mopping up beer with Darlene’s guest towels. Empty nest, remember? Just hold out til then.

Chapter 1

Pretend we're on a game show, Family Feud or something like it. The question is: After five kids, what do parents most look forward to?

Survey said...Empty nest syndrome? If you’re a parent, you probably guessed. A little bit of peace and quiet.

Not that our nest is empty yet. Our littlest two chicks have yet to fly the coop. I'm estimating we're seven to nine years away from that glorious day. But when the day comes, I’ll be ready for it. TV remote in one hand, and a beer in the other. I’ll settle back in the easy chair with a self-satisfied smirk on my face and I’ll say, well, I don’t know what I’ll say, because every time I get that far in my thinking, I get interrupted. As I said, the nest isn’t empty yet.

I got home early today, around four-o’clock. Six pack of Bleak Abbey Ale in a brown paper bag, along with chips and bean dip because who's got the patience to make guacamole? And a frozen pizza for dinner because it’s Darlene’s night out; my night in.

The dog met me at the door. Her name is Estelle. Don't ask. I know Estelle doesn't need a walk yet because my wife, Darlene, told me she'd walk her before she left for the evening. So I reach down and pat Estelle once or twice on the head and call it good. Estelle is a low maintenance dog, when all is said and done. Still, my definition of empty nest is no kids, no dogs. And no cats either. It's me and Darlene and all the things we should have discussed but never got around to when the house was full. A dog would only get in the way.

On To Something New

Thank you, devoted readers. I'm deeply grateful to you both for sticking with this so far. Since my readership shows no signs of increasing, I'm about to try something else. Yes, I'm going to post work in progress here on the advice of Hugh MacLeod in his book Ignore Everybody. This is a helpful handbook on managing your own creativity--a little peptalk (if you need one) in book form.

But anyway. Several years ago, I had an idea about a certain character and his family (including his teenage son, who may or may not have committed a murder). I'm in the process of figuring out the best way to frame this story by writing short sketches narrated by this main character, the father. And I think it might be beneficial to me to make them all visible, so to speak, on this blog. I think I'll be less lazy, less apt to cut corners if my work is exposed to scrutiny. So here goes.

For those who are interested in volume I of the werewolf series, the manuscript is finished. I'm now trying to show some literary agents that it would really be in their best interests to take a look at it. Volume II is now in progress--but offline.

Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP Michael, and Farrah, and Betty Allen and ...

So many deaths lately. The one mentioned above are celebrities, but this week we've also lost a dear dear friend of Kurt's, and two much loved parishioners at St. James Cathedral in Seattle.

Also Ed McMahon,

Betty Allen was great African American opera singers of the last century; a true pioneer.

I am now working on my sequel to the werewolf novel, another werewolf novel. I wish I could tell you more... :-) (Don't be coy, Britton!)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I think I'm done with A Wolf Is My Shepherd--finally. Third draft. I'll read it through out loud quickly to look for typos, but I think it's ready to fly on its own--see if it has wings, or is it legs?

Anyway, I have three projects going, my cat book (a cross between Harry Potter and Watership Down, except with kitties as the main characters), a murder mystery set in a large nonprofit organization, and a book about a man who's trying to figure out whether his high school age son killed someone or not. I took a wrong turn with the cat novel four years ago, so now I'm trying to figure out where that happened and how to fix it.

But I do want to celebrate finishing the third draft, even though, as far as a prospective publisher would be concerned, this is really only the first draft.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ziggy 3

The day came in June when my friend Stephanie came over to help me pick up Ziggy. She had a friend who did pet grooming, so, for a birthday present, she arranged to have Ziggy groomed before we took him home. You can imagine: a longhaired cat, out on his own for 16 months. Yes, he was filthy.

It was a hot day for June in the Pacific Northwest. Sweet Stephanie had taken the afternoon off work--and as a Microsoft contractor, she was making a sacrifice because she was paid by the hour. She also brought her pet carrier. We went to E&L's house. L invited us in. Her daughter was home from school, and they made ice cream sodas with club soda--a novel concept to me. I'd always made them with 7 up or coke or rootbeer--and in fact, you really don't need the extra sugar, believe it or not. I know, absolutely revolutionary.

We sat in their backyard and savored the ice cream sodas. (I was getting the feeling that Stephanie was eager to hit the road, but nobody had said anything, so there we were.) Ziggy was a friendly kitty, so he came over and flopped in the shade next to us. His ears perked up when we mentioned his name. L said, "He knows we're talking about him."

So, all stealthy like, we scooped him up and plopped him into the carrier and set it in the backseat of the car. Then Stephanie and I set out for parts unknown. Well, she knew where we were going. Way far away. Long way away. Past Fall City, if you can imagine. In fact, somewhere around Fall City, we both wrinkled our noses and asked, "What's that smell?" Of course you KNOW what it was. Poor Ziggy had pooped in the carrier. Uh oh.

After about an hour, we got to where we were going. Unfortunately, driving up the driveway, we met Stephanie's friend leaving in her pickup truck. Turned out she had a massage appointment.

So we got out. Hosed down the carrier with the garden hose. Tried to clean the poor guy up. He'd peed himself too by that point. We put him in the grooming room and waited. And waited. We waited about three hours, until after dark, as a matter of fact. I had to pee so bad, I'm squirming just thinking about it. The weather had been hot when the sun was out, but it sure turned cold after the sun went down. Finally, she came back. Filled up the sink with warm sudsy water. Put the poor cat in up to his neeck and gave him a bath.

We put him back in the carrier and cranked up the heat because he was soaking wet. Grabbed a burger in Fall City and finally got to pee. "Poor Ziggy," said Stephanie. "This is the worst day of your life, isn't it?" In reply, he peed himself again. So we got him home, Stephanie (God bless her!) took off, and I hauled him upstairs and gave him another bath in the tub. I wrapped him in a towel, showed him the food and the litterbox, and set him on the bed. He shook the towel off, jumped down to the floor, and hid under the bed. He didn't come out for two days. And believe me, I was checking the litterbox to be sure.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Graveyard Book

By the way, Neal Gaiman's The Graveyard Book is a good book. Great premise, well executed. You will love it, I am certain.

Ziggy 2

Then we went into the house. One of our friends, who is severely allergic to cats, instantly started sneezing and tearing up as soon as we came within ten feet of her. I didn't want to take the cat home because I had a pet parrot at the time, and I knew there would be trouble. But she asked me to think about it. The previous owners had asked her to leave food out for Ziggy, as I mentioned in the last post. She said she'd be back in three months for him. Fifteen months later, she still had not returned. She wanted to give him a home, and he'd wanted to come inside in the worst way, but she just couldn't let him in, since her own cat was so territorial.

Fast forward to Pentecost. They had a tradition where the ham bone from the Easter ham became the base of the split pea soup for Pentecost. Continuity, you know? I was there for dinner, and I'd made up my mind. Sixteen months was too long; Ziggy was coming home with me. Did I mention how filthy he was after all that time on his own? He jumped up in my arms and gave me another kitty hug and kisses. I was midly allergic too, but I didn't care. I realized we had fallen in love. There was no other word for it. He was mine, and I was his.

L called Ziggy's previous owner. There she was in Tacoma, in her parents's basement with her five kids. The last time myh friends had heard from her exhusband, he was calling from Boston, asking for advice on getting a job as a software developer. He never made it to Israel after all. L told her that a visitor (moi) had fallen in love with Ziggy and wanted to take him home. The exwife said, "Well, I hate to give him up. He was my husband's cat, and my husband was very attached to him."

L said, "I hate to tell you this, but after sixteen months, you have to realize he's not coming back."

The exwife said, "I know. Well, give me a few days. I have to think about it."

Saturday, April 11, 2009


My wonderful writing coach, Jill Kelly (, has suggested writing down the story of each of our cats. So I will start with the first, the greatest, the wonderful and sublime Ziggy.

It happened at Easter. Easter 1998. I was at my friends' E and L's for Easter dinner. They are a wonderful couple, head of a wonderful family, and they understand holy days and sacraments with a rare depth of spirituality and passion. Anyway, I was there, looking out the window, when this big old orange cat wandered into the yard. L happened to be near me. The cat met my eyes, and he was so unafraid, so knowing, I just blurted out, "Hey, he looks like trouble."

L said, "Actually, no, he's one of the sweetest cats ever. He was left behind by one of the neighbors when they moved away. We love him, and we'd keep him ourselves, except that our cat, Phoebe goes ballistic whenever he comes in the yard."

I said, "Oh." And I had another glass of wine.

After dinner, I went outside for a cigarette. (I was still smoking then.) I sat on the bench outside the front door, and who should appear but the big orange cat. He was a longhair, by the way. Orange tabby with a white underside. Probably a Maine Coon. Well, I took one puff of my cigarette and looked him in the eye while he looked at me. Then he jumped in my lap. He put one paw on the left side of my neck and one paw on the right side and squeezed--a kitty hug. Then he started rubbing his cheeks against mine, first the left, then the right.

L happened to oversee this and came out and sat beside me. She said, "You know, this neighborhood used to be orthodox. And the woman across the street never fit in because she was a convert to Judaism, and she was never completely accepted by the neighbors. Well, she and I became friends. She and her husband had five kids, and then he told her he was going back to Israel to fight in the Israeli army. The last we heard, though, he was in Boston and he wanted advice on getting a job as a computer programmer. Anyway, eventually, they got a divorce, and she moved back into her parents' basement with her five kids. They left Ziggy behind. She gave me a bag of food and asked me to feed him for three month. But they've been gone for fifteen months now, and he's still here, and we don't know what to do with him. If you want to take him, I think it would be fine."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Graveyard Book

Whoo hoo! Got Neal Gaiman's The Graveyard Book from the library, and I cain't hardly wait to read it.

Ok, that last bit, that was Sussex County coming out. For some reason, I find my Sussex County roots coming out in what I say these days. For so many years, I tried to eradicate it.

Interesting thing about that part of the Eastern Shore--they have a lot of ghost stories. I need to look them up.

One tends to think of the Devil appearing in New England but not so much in other parts of the country. I suppose it's prejudiced to say this, but one would think he'd be most comfortable in the South, wouldn't one? Not me, personally, of course. Of course! But people in general. Could think that. Within reason.

Just occurred to me that Seattle and the Pacific Northwest would be a reasonable place for a demon to show up. The sort of nonpowerful, bureaucratic, behind-the-scenes demon. Have to give this some thought.

Monday, April 6, 2009


I just don't understand why it's so hard to get writing time. I'm trying to evaluate proejcts from my class and do my taxes and my mom's taxes, and then chores, and trying to get some reading in, and before I know it, two weeks have gone by with no meaningful writing happening. I did get my 500-word quota done on my new project, but I cannot seem to find the time to spread out and slow down and focus on the third draft of the wolf novel. And I'm so frustrated I feel like screaming. Why is it so effing hard to get two hours of uninterrupted time?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What does it all mean?

So one time in Minneapolis, I was walking home from school late at night. This wasn't the same night of the demon/angel/whatever incident, it was in the summer. Late, late at night. I was studying in the reading room in the basement of Walker Library. Then I walked home. Got to my apartment building just a few minutes before sundown, which was almost ten-o'clock at night in Minnesota in August. It kind of freaked me out: right in front of my apartment building was my father's car. And yet, he was living in Delaware at the time; what was he doing in Minneapolis? I kind of freaked out. I went into my apartment on the ground floor and shut the door. And I didn't turn the lights on because I was afraid it might be him.

Then there was a knock on the door. I totally flipped out. Quiet, quiet, I tiptoed to the door and looked through the peephole. And... yes, it was my dad. In the flesh and all that. So then I was practically hysterical. But I kept my mouth shut and made no noise. We had been on not-speaking terms for quite a few years, and the last few years, we'd been conducting negotiations towards some sort of rapprochement. But I was definitely not able to deal with him in the flesh.

So I kept quiet and waited until the knocking stopped. Then I went and crouched in the corner, peeking out the window around my cat Missy. I saw the orange VW bug start up and drive off. It was almost eleven pm at that point. I was going to call my parents to do a reality check on my mental state, but then I remembered the East Coast was two hours ahead. So I made a sandwich by the light of the refrigerator lightbulb (I still didn't dare turn a light on), and I ate it, and I went to bed.

The next day, I called my parents. and who should answer but my father. So who was at the door? I've never figured it out.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

New Title

From Chapel of the Wolves to Wolves in the Chapel to

A Wolf for a Shepherd

I'm still not happy with it. My personal fave so far is

A Wolf Is My Shepherd

but that sounds too much like the Lord's Prayer, right?

Friday, March 20, 2009

This is a true story

Although I can't say it has much of a plot.

Once upon a time, when I was an undergraduate math major at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, I lived in an apartment on Eight Avenue Southeast and E. Hennepin Avenue, which meant I had to cross hwy 35-W to get from Dinkytown to my place right on the edge when Southeast Minneapolis meets Northeast Minneapolis.

There are several ways over 35W, and I took a different one every night to keep things interesting. My favorite one was the 5th Avenue footbridge, which spiraled around and doubled back on itself.

I was working at Rocky Rococo then, the best pizza you could get in Dinkytown, where, as the Minnesota Daily once reported, pizza parlors outnumber bookstores by three to one. My shift was done at eleven. I was walking home; it was a Friday night. As I did the helix circle of the Fifth Avenue bridge, I passed a little old man heading towards Dinkytown. This was odd enough because it was a student neighborhood, and you met very few people older than college age. And also (sorry if this is a snide comment), how many old people are out and about at about eleven-thirty at night? But the oddest thing was his eyes. They were bright blue--shining blue, like fluorescent lights, only the color of turquoise. No human has eyes like that. I've never seen anything like it, before or after. Bright, glowing eyes--it was clear he was a supernatural being. I don't know if he was good or evil, but the vibe I got passing him was not good. He met my gaze but passed on by, so obviously I was not his target that night. But it utterly terrified me. I went straight home and locked my door, knowing a flimsy cheap hardware store lock and door wouldn't do me a lick of good if he was after me.

I never saw him again, thank goodness, but I can't help wondering if anyone else ever has.

Writing Slowly

Working on the draft three of werewolves. My sweetie has so many wonderful suggestions. Also changed the title from Chapel of the Wolves to Wolves in the Chapel.

On my new project, chapter 3 is done, and now I'm soon to start chapter 4. Got to send the protagonist and her beau out on their first date...I'm thinking a picnic...but am open to any other suggestions. Must also get some action going on solving the first murder.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Werewolves Third Draft

My true love has read every word of the second draft and pronounced it pretty darn good. He suggests certain revisions to the subplot, which I think are indeed necessary, so I am starting draft three with a reworking of that subplot. Yay! I am so grateful to Kurt for reading it all, giving thoughful feedback, and staying positive throughout this whole process.

Meanwhile, the other saga is winding on. Still working on chapter 3.

And a copy of Twilight just came in for me at the library. So... guess I have my reading list pretty much set.

Write on, y'all!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The new project

Well, I finished chapter 2 of the rough draft of the next project. It's a murder mystery set in a small boutique nonprofit agency. The protagonist is a lovely young lady who works as a corporate communications writer. Her love interest is a barista, not at Starbucks. I think to myself, God, chapter 2 is SO early in the process, will I ever finish? far...I have some ideas about where to go next. So that's good. And I'm trying to figure out where to send the two of them on their first date...when they get a first date...some place where something can go drastically wrong, just to keep things interesting.
No supernatural elements in here, although the nonprofit's headquarters are said to be haunted by the ghost of the founder...

Vote the bastards out

This has nothing to do with the subject of this blog, but I'm taking this opportunity to state how incensed I am about the Washington Supreme Court's stay of execution for the murderer in the Holly Washa case. It's utterly irresponsible. The five justices who voted for the stay should be voted out of office.

Shame on our governor, Christine Gregoire, too for stepping aside while the Supreme Court commits this abuse. I'm no Republican but I say it's enough of this liberal bullshit. Enough is enough. Time for common sense to prevail once more.

The reason I'm writing this here is because I was trying to enter a comment on the komonews web site. Well, I jumped through their hoops, created a user name, and then tried to log in to enter my comment, but no, their system won't recognize my user name. Piece of crap. No wonder King5 is the preeminent TV station in Seattle. The only good thing about Channel 4 is Kathi Goertzen, and thank goodness she's back on the air. Anyway, I think it's just as irresponsible of KOMO to fail to report who the assholes are on the supreme court who voted for the stay. I call on every responsible voger in Washington state to vote the assholes out of office.
Also that idiot Richard Sanders. Yes he did the right thing by calling the Bush Administration on their abuses and tyrannies. But...he's committed so many abuses of his own in office here, most recently the conflict of interest business reported this week, and it's time for him to go. For shame on all of these monsters!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Well I think it's cause for celebration

Thanks to those of you who've asked me if I've abandoned this blog because I haven't posted anything in the last two weeks. Not that my followers are so numerous, but it is nice to know that there are people who read this who are not signed up as followers.

Anyway, I've been holed up focusing on finishing the second draft of the werewolf novel. And now it is in my sweetheart's hands, getting its first reading. How scary is that--to open yourself up for scrutiny at last.

But it is time to start my next project (while job hunting and making my way). I'm taking Stephen King's guideline to heart: Write a first draft in six weeks. The six week countdown started yesterday. It'll be a comic murder mystery set in a nonprofit foundation. Should be funny, should be fun.

Meanwhile. we finally have TV again after two months of waiting for Comcast to get its act together. Comcast's lack of motivation is pretty shocking. No wonder EVERYONE complains about them, and not just a little, but a lot. Anyway, I'm hoping to get a glimpse of the HBO series TrueBlood. I've enjoyed Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse novels a lot, so I'm very curious to see how they translate to the visual medium.

It's tree pollen season. That means allergies. My nose is running like a maple tree giving sap. That new cat Natasha was very affectionate last night, but also very wakeful. K & I aren't getting any sleep because of her. Today I'm like a zombie. Meanwhile, she's out like a light--I was changing the sheets on the bed, and she did not wake up. I've never known a cat to sleep so soundly.

Anyhow, I need to go through the werewolf book one more time and will pay close attention too Kurt's feedback. And then, it does out into the wide world and tries to find its way. Fingers crossed!

Good luck to you all.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Second Draft

Wish me luck! Trying to produce a printout of the second draft before I leave on 2/15... will I make it?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Only Book

I just finished Charlaine Harris's third Sookie Stackhouse book, Club Dead. And I loved it. Although I wish things had worked out better with Alcide Herveaux, but maybe in some future volume....
Something I've been discussing with my therapist: I've only finished two books since September, although I've started something like fifteen. What gives? That's between her and me, I'm afraid. But I can tell you, both of those books involve werewolves.

Meanwhile, I have been (mostly) resisting the temptation to reread The Year of Magical Thinking. Every so often, a book takes over my mind to the extent that it becomes the only book, the one that seems to hold the key to everything, and I keep rereading it, and I can't seem to stop. I read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie thirteen times. I read Memento Mori eight times. I read Loitering with Intent five times. I read A Book of Common Prayer seven times. I read Fiskadoro five times. I read Riddley Walker four times. I read Una Vincenzo Troubridge's The Six Wives of Henry VIII nine times, although I can't imagine why I thought it was so good then (I was in fourth grade). What else? Oh yes, Earthly Paradise, by Colette. Nine times. I did read each of these over and over in a row. The Year of Magical Thinking is the one that I pick up every couple of years. And I think I'm about ready to do it again. There's been so much loss the last couple of years, it seems like the best primer for going on with life.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Writing Progress

It's only Tuesday but I'm having a good week of writing so far. Last week was a tough week.
I got two lengthy scenes done in longhand today, so I am pretty pleased. Also had lunch with a dear friend. And am now unwinding with a glass of unoaked Australian chardonnay. All in all, a good day.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ah Oooh!

That's the call of the werewolf, as rendered by the late greate Warren Zevon. Werewolves wishing you a happy Lunar New Year (which is naturally the new year that werewolves would celebrate, no?) I'm picturing Asian werewolves lunching on raw meat dim sum.

Ok, I have been working at a coffeeshop since 8:30 am today. I have finished a scene I started Saturday. The female werewolf is on a date with some poor schmuck. She knocks him out with a date rap drug in order to steal his flash drive. What does she want with his flash drive? Ah, that I'm not telling. But she doesn't eat him...yet... because he still has something else she wants.

And now, on to the next scene. (I have a list of 12 that I need to add to the manuscript.)

Catch you later, gentle readers!

Friday, January 23, 2009

In Case You're Wondering

what I had such a bug up my ass about in that last post... it's actually an idea I'm playing with for a character I'm working on for a future novel. He is in that awkward period bordering Gen X and the Baby Boom, and he finds a lot of his problems in life come from blindly following the example of the Baby Boomers. Am I this down on the Millennials? No, not really. Although I do think their parenting skills leave something to be desired, and I do wish they had a slightly less conservative bent. But that's just me. :-)

Parents and Children

We (Gen X) were the last generation to separate from our parents. In some ways, the Baby Boom's trajectory was all about separation: separating from their own parents, of course, but also separating from the generations before them, from the established institutions of the time, and from the entire culture. The point of separation is to make room for one's own adulthood, but once they made the room and walked into it, they did not bring adulthood with them, or even the seeds thereof. They brought instead the leftovers of adolescence: the narcissism, the self-indulgence, the naive idealism, and most of all, the overweening sense of entitlement.

And we (Gen X) followed eagerly in their footsteps, never considering that to destroy a culture without presenting a viable alternative meant destroying the collective identity and a major component of each person's sense of self. Listen to the music of those in their twenties. You get one of two things, You get either self-absorbed whining or you get militantly antisocial posturing; one or the other; nothing whatsoever to promote a positive vision of the place of the individual in society.

So I ask: What have we wrought?

Now the children of the baby boomers are parents and the children of Gen X are also reproducing merrily. It's difficult to imagine more laissez faire parenting. Watch the children running around shrieking. Any expectation of control has vanished. Even TV commercials are full of parents of toddlers who have given up. They just shrug as if this is the way it's supposed to be.

You can't blame the parents, though. Look in their eyes; you can see they are clueless. The baby boomers are only now (as they join AARP) overcoming their distrust of adulthood; they never let their children grow up. Is it any wonder we now see such miserable parenting? What's to become of this country?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Mystery of Subplot

I finally have a working title for this werewolf novel I'm writing. It's Chapel of the Wolves. I'm working on what I consider to be the seconed draft, although I haven't written all of the subplot yet. I'm thinking it will take 4-5 chapters to be interspersed among the main plot chapters, with some editing for continuity. I have compiled all the existing chapters into one file, and to my amazement, the printout is 270 pages long.

The suplot has been scaring me for two weeks now. I have an idea but not THE idea. But I've learned that, if you don't know what comes next, you'll probably find some answers in the early chapters of the book--things you didn't realize were there. That's why I printed the draft and am working on it--editing and gleaning ideas at the same time. I have a couple of good ones, so I'm feeling distinctly optimistic at this point.

The problem with writing is that I get so nervous that I won't have any ideas, I can't help eating massive quantities of junk. So I'm putting on weight. It's not a good thing. Any writers out there, if you have ideas about how to combat this, let me know. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cats with Short Fuses

Okay, we brought Natasha upstairs last night, and she cuddled with Kurt on the bed until we turned the lights off. Then she started hissing at the boys. All night long.

I asked Kurt to take her downstairs when we were leaving this morning, to keep her safe from the boys' harassment. He did so, but what a scene of mayhem ensued. He has deep bites and scratches on his hands, so deep that he bled through the bandages on the ferry this morning. This cat has a short fuse. She turned her nose up at her morning meal and scorned her dinner because she's still mad. So she also carries a grudge. Sigh. I tried to bring her upstairs tonight, but she took a snap at me. I tried to entice her out of the room, to no avail. Still, I think things are going as well as they might after a period of nine days. Still need to get some photos of her. I'll tell you it's frustrating, however.

Inauguration Day

I've been more cynical than I'd like to be about the Democratic Party during the election process. Don't get me wrong, I'm proud to have voted for our new president, and I certainly hope the change in economic policies bring about a more farsighted approach to business development, peace, and improvement of our own self-image as Americans and our image abroad. But I'm not optimistic. Power is bad for people. Look how corrupt the Republicans were under W and H before him. Look how corrupt the Democrats were under Clinton. I don't expect better under Obama, because people are people and there are too many opportunities for graft and deceit in Washington, D.C.

Nevertheless, I found myself tearing up several times today with the cool, unexpected breath of hope rushing into my face. I wish the Obamas and the Obama administration every success in reforming the system. I rejoice that our nation has taken this huge step towards racial healing. I pray that the people of our country join in a new vision of what they can be, what we can be, if we let go of our fears and let ourselves surrender to the feeling of goodwill to our fellow human beings.

Kind of sappy, so I apologize. But I know you feel the same, whoever you are.

As I was saying

yesterday, I have had the privilege of seeing three possible masterpieces on the silver screen in the last week or so. Yesterday it was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, with Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, and Tilda Swinton, and Taraji Henson--and other actors as well, all of whom amazing.

What I was trying to say is that the movie really hit home for me, and it was a little painful, actually. At the most obvious level, I recall two different references in the movie to characters who were nearing the age of fifty and didn't have anything to show for it. And of course, I could fall into that category myself. On the other hand, I think it's pretty clear I did the best I could with what I had. Sometimes I made bad choices, sometimes I made good choices--no more of either than the average person, really. But I think where I fell short in the decades that have gone by is in always living other people's lives (the life other people wanted me to live, or the life I envied in other people) rather than following the call I heard, very low but still audible, deep down inside.

And of course, there's the message about time slipping away. That's a message that's hard to avoid in a movie about time. I don't know if I'm especially susceptible to the message because I'm pushing fifty, or because I'm trying to write this novel on a (self-imposed) deadline, or because of the deaths that have happened in the last year, or because it's Inauguration Day, or what...

But the fact is, our time is short, and growing shorter with every second. And so we have to live the lives that we're supposed to live, that we are destined to live, starting right now. And if we're supposed to be writing, then write, damn it, write. Right now.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Three Amazing Movies

Must recommend Doubt, Slumdog Millionaire, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Just when you think the movies have all become ridiculous and irrelevant, along come three that make you stop and take notice. And these are three. Great filmmakers require great writers. So writing has not yet become obsolete.

Friday, January 16, 2009

False alarm

OK, I found her. She was downstairs in "her" private chamber, the TV room. When I looked there before, she must have been upstairs. When I looked upstairs, she must have been downstairs. But when I brought the food bowl down, then she made an appearance. Go figure.

And cats help us how exactly?

Maybe that title is a little passive aggressive. Maybe it's my fault. I brought the boy kitties home from the vet today and shut them in the laundry room to give Miss Natasha a chance to explore the upstairs for the first time. She spend 40 minutes in the bedroom. Then I watched her go into the living room, where she promptly disappeared. I have searched the upstairs several times and find no sign of her whatsoever. Spooky. Had to let the boys out for their dinner, and I figured she'd pop out and hiss at them as she seems to like to do, but there's no sign of her anywhere. Ulp. I lost the cat. Oh no! Now what do I do?

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I'm trying to get the second draft done around the end of the month. It won't be perfect, but I will have to let my sweetheart and a few interested people read frightening as that prospect is. There's a lot of work to be done, and, as usual, life intervenes.

We have a new kitty, Natasha. She's adjusting in seclusion. She's got a bad habit of biting--and drawing blood--without warning while you're petting her. She seems to be terrified of hands (unless they are in a fist). Makes me think someone must have slapped her around in her previous life. I don't want to name names or point the finger here, but I do think the animal shelter pulled a fast one by not disclosing this peculiarity up front, and I also suspect they misrepresented her age. She's not able to walk well and she's not able to jump. Makes me think she's older than the six-year-old figure they gave us. Of course they're trying to avoid euthanizing animals so they try to present them in the best possible light, and I guess it's hard to blame them for that. But I do think they've been less than truthful, and I don't expect to ever adopt from that particular shelter again as a result. All of our kitties have been rescue kitties; but I do think a shelter has an obligation to be truthful about the animals they are placing. There are some other facts I'm not disclosing here because they would give too many clues as to who I'm talking about.

Anyway, we are dealing with the situation and trying to train Natasha gently through positive reinforcement and mini timeouts that biting and clawing are not acceptable. Today we'll let her explore the house a bit while the other kitties are kept in a separate room. I would like to introduce them face-to-face for a brief period tomorrow.

Meanwhile, werewolves... I went by the Elliot Bay Bookstore in Seattle yesterday. They have a window on the side (overlooking the outside entrance to their cafe) which seems to contain a Halloween display, full of books about bats and wolves and some griesly things. (I hope I'm using the word griesly correctly; if not I'll come back and change it to grisly.) One of the books that caught my eye was The Lost Wolves of Japan. I'm being very careful with $$ right now due to the macroeconomy and my personal economy, my microeconomy, so to speak, so I didn't buy it. But it sounds intriguing.

Has anyone out there (out of my many many followers) ever read Ghost of a Smile, by Deborah Boliver Boehm? It consists of stories about ghosts and spirits of Japan, including some of the traditional hauntings that my sweet Japanese mother used to tell me about as I was growing up,
like the Mujina, the ghost without a face. So some of it was sweetly familiar, and terrifying but not too terrifying--and updated for a contemporary urban sensibility. The author did an amazing job here. I recommend this book highly, particularly to hapas like myself. And to werewolf aficionados, one story in particular: "The Beast in the Mirror," which is about a Pacific Islander living in Hawai'i, who goes to Japan to become a sumo wrestler and is turned guessed it...a werewolf.

Another interesting thing to me is how extraordinarily skilled the author is at writing in a male voice. Even though I'm a gay guy, I've not been successful at producing a female voice that sounds true.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Stuck in the Slog

No, I'm not talking about all the rain and snow and mud and muck in Western Washington. I'm trying to transcribe 70 pages of longhand work on this novel. Transcribe, and edit, and improve it at the same time. And it is agonizing! I don't know why it's taking so long--I only got through five pages yesterday. Today I've gotten through fifteen, so it's improving, but still.

There's a lot of other stuff to take care of at the same time. Talking to the insurance company about the damage to the house from the storm; getting bids for roof repair, etc. Chores. Yard work. Getting dinner on the table. Freelance work. And getting this draft of the novel done done done. There's been some discussion on the blog I Love Werewolves ( about how to get it all done. I wish I was as capable or good at time management as some of the commenters there. But I keep trying...

Hope all's well with the werewolves out there...and the people who love them... and the people who fear them....

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

All this snow and ice, followed by the holidays, followed by the rescheduled make-up festivities, it's been fun but it's really thrown my writing routine off. Today I'm trying to get back into it.

Yesterday, Kurt and I headed off to the Wing Luke Museum to see the exhibit about Native Hawaiians in the Pacific Northwest ( I grabbed what I through was a blank notebook to work on a particular scene I've been having trouble with. The ferry to Seattle is usually a good place for me to write--couldn't tell you why. But the notebook I grabbed turned out to be full. No room for more writing. The good part is that it was full of scenes I KNEW I had written (and done a pretty good job on too) but could not find. Does this ever happen to anyone else? I should be more organized. It's a problem, though, when you're working full-time and your commute is a long one. You lose track of what you've written and where you put it. Outlining helps, but if you outline too much, or get too detailed, then you kill the creative spark that adds life to your work.

I know I'm very blessed to have this time for writing. So I need to make more of an effort to make use of it.

The main thing that's on my mind at the moment: Wolf packs and werewolves. How much do pack dynamics affect werewolf behavior? (Sounds like an anthropological or, dare I say it, a lycanthropological treatise, doesn't it?)

Happy New Year--good luck with your own writing.