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The Early Reviews Are In

Dialogue-rich “Deviation” reminds me in many ways of a two-man Sam Shepard play in which brothers scrimmage for the moral high ground in the face of a grim family history. Here it’s Mickey and Johnny, each bringing his own view of the world to bear on an unusual predicament: their mom has landed herself in jail. Their father’s definitely not blameless in how it all developed, but the brothers haven’t seen things quite the same way as they grew up. Their habitual Friday night diner date, we imagine, has always been full of waitress-ogling and profanity-laced ribbing, but this one feels different.

Paxson does a good job painting the brothers’ relationship. I felt like I’ve seen these guys hunched at the bars of diners and roadside taverns, working on their pasts along with their beers. They jab and joke and threaten and forgive – they’re linked whether they like it or not.

And …

A very interesting short story told almost entirely in dialogue. The banter between the two main characters is sharp and flows nicely. The dark subject matter may not be to everyone’s taste (lots of adult language and situations, if that sort of thing bothers you), but it’s certainly an innovative concept.

I could imagine it being adapted into a play–the writing and occasional dark humor seemed very well-suited to being performed live. At different points and in different ways, it reminded me strongly of both “Of Mice and Men” by Steinbeck and “The Hooligan” by Gilbert. Still, even on the page, it worked quite well.

And one more…

This is a unique story in that the author tells it mostly through dialogue, using only bits of exposition, all while managing to shift settings and develop character. That’s a tall order, and it was well done here. I also like how the author used random dictionary words to direct his story. Very creative idea.

Seems to me you need to listen to these people and download Deviation. And have a little fun with it … come back here and make suggestions of who should play the roles of Mickey and Johnny, their street preacher mother and their less than pure father, and of course the always alluring Ally.

Come along and Deviate with me.  It’s the most fun you’ll have for just 99 cents.

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Come Deviate With Me

I did this thing last week.  Published what I call a long short story for the Kindle. Yes, it is only available as an e-book on the one platform. The story, at 16,000 words, isn’t really long enough for a paperback, but I may come back to that idea at some point.

Deviation Cover_Amazon

I wrote this story a few years ago as an experiment. It’s pretty much all dialogue with a very small amount of context and description thrown in where I felt it was necessary.

So, what is Deviation.  Well … Johnny and Mickey are brothers, hanging out on a Friday night. Johnny just wants to have fun, get laid, and do it all over again next week. Mickey’s ready for something more. He’s a bit of a deeper thinker. And while they sit in a diner, ogling the waitress, Johnny gets a text from their father. Their mom has been arrested.

What follows is a weekend of discovery of family secrets. Of digging a little deeper.

It’s got one review (thank you, BG):

A very interesting short story told almost entirely in dialogue. The banter between the two main characters is sharp and flows nicely. The dark subject matter may not be to everyone’s taste (lots of adult language and situations, if that sort of thing bothers you), but it’s certainly an innovative concept.

So, give it a try. It’s only .99 for chrissakes. But be forewarned. Mickey and Johnny are foul-mouthed and have sex on their minds. This isn’t for everybody and certainly is a break from what I typically write.

The good news is that deciding to do this has motivated me to move forward on other things. Northville Five & Dime needs some attention. I’ve been proofing the first part this week and refreshing my memory of the story. I’ll finish that this weekend and then will move on to part two, which I wrote about two-thirds of before giving up on it some time ago. Once I have that written, I’m going to work on polishing both parts and seeing what I can do with them while writing the third and concluding part. Wish me luck. Northville is more in line with my traditional writing and I think has the potential for finding an audience.

Quasi-NaNo

It was NaNo 2003 that got me writing.  As a result, even though I didn’t write 50,000 words during the month of November 2003, there is something about the challenge that is near and dear to me.  I tried it once or twice after 2003 and each time I’ve achieved less.  I simply am not built as a writer to be able to churn words out like that.  I think far too much about what I’m writing as I’m writing to be able to just let the words flow.  In addition, there are simply too many other demands on my time to be able to commit to the time needed to do this for an entire month.  Some of those other demands have been eliminated in recent years — no longer coaching my kids’ soccer teams, for instance.  But, damnit … it is just so difficult to find the time.

This year, there’s another hurdle.  I have too many works in progress that I want to finish before I turn to something new.  I simply cannot let myself turn away from those projects now and start something new.  I committed at the beginning of September to the following:  finish Deviation in September, finish Northville Five & Dime in October, finish Carlota in November, and then turn to another short series I’m thinking about, before finally returning to one of my half-completed novels.  I finished Deviation as planned.  I made major progress on Northville, but probably won’t have it done by tomorrow.  Probably?  Who the hell am I kidding?  There’s no way it’s done by tomorrow.  I need to be true to these goals I set and not let NaNo distract me.

So, here’s what I’ve decided.  I’m going to strive to write 50,000 words in the month of November.  First, I’ll complete Northville.  I think there’s another 5,000-10,000 words to that story.  Once I’ve done that, I’m moving on to Carlota.  I’m pretty certain there’s another 10,000-20,000 words there.  And, as I get stuck with any of those projects, I’m going to return to Terror in a Small Town.  I started this story back in 2007.  It involves an Islamic terrorist plot.  I didn’t finish it.  Since then, I’ve decided to change the terrorists to whacko, right-wing, anti-tax, sovereign citizen loonies who are a burgeoning problem in this country.  The result of this is that I need to significantly re-write what I have already written.

Ultimately, I’m probably “cheating” to the extent cheating is possible on NaNo.  Splitting the goal up over several different projects, considering re-writing as writing.  But, I don’t care.  If I can get anywhere near 50,000 words this November, I will have done for more than I expected.

P.S.  In looking through my posts on this, I realized that I committed to something remarkably similar last year.  Let’s see if I do better this year.

An Update

out-of-office-sign

Whether it’s because I’ve “gone fishin'” or am “out of office,” no, I’m not really here, but there is an update I want to share.  I finished something.  Of significance.  After a couple of years of having a completion problem, except for very short stories, flash fiction, and the odd piece of poetry here and there, I’ve not been able to complete any fiction of significance.  Until tonight.  A couple of minutes ago.

Clocking in at 16,065 words, Deviation is complete.  At least a first draft.  With an ending that 98% of the readers will absolutely hate.  🙂  Now, I need to decide what to do with it.  I know I’m publishing it on Kindle, maybe also via Smashwords or some other e-publisher that will distribute it more widely than Kindle (I think that’s actually what I’m going to do).  But, the dilemma is what I do with it before then.

I’d like a couple of readers to take a look at it, but I’m not sure who.  This is a very odd story, built entirely around dialogue, with characters who don’t always saw what you expect and a twisting plot that takes unexpected turns.  The two main characters are twenty-something brothers who talk the way a lot of twenty-somethings talk.  I’m pretty sure there are more f-bombs in this one story than the grand total in everything else I’ve ever written.

I’m not necessarily looking for volunteers from you, the readers of this blog, I’m just pondering this odd dilemma.  The story is so different from what I typically do, I’m not sure if I should work harder at it, get some edits and comments from others, or just throw it out there as is and see what happens.

But back to the original point.  I finally finished something of significance!!!!  First in my trilogy of longer short stories.  Now on to #2 and #3.

And, one more thing … to my loyal readers … when I’m ready to do it, I’ll be back with an explanation for the Gone Fishin’ and Out of Office images.

What I Learned This Weekend, Part Two

I’m working on Deviation, really working hard on it.  I’ve carried on with the fundamental rule with respect to how I write this story.  Every couple hundred words, I select a random word from the dictionary that I need to use in the next couple hundred words.  The story now exceeds 11,000 words and I’ve used somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-70 random words.   As I mentioned in my last post, this method brings along some surprises.  One of the words today was “tinkling.”  In my mind it evoked the sound of a piano.  At first it was going to be a recording played on the stereo.  Then it turned into a woman visiting the brother’s father in most unacceptable circumstances.  And, finally, the tinkling piano was being played by a barely dressed hooker, with three of her friends, there to serve the brother’s father while their mother is in jail.  Until I got that word I never knew their dad would have a visitor, let alone four hookers.

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