Sunday, May 30, 2010

Procrastination--but not really.

Short post today....settling in to write now. Spent the day procrastinating....but I'm still exhausted.

See, when you old an old house like T and I do, there is always something that needs doing. And a week before my kids are due to arrive, well I tend to get into panic mode.

I'm a list-maker. I make lists for work, lists for writing, lists, lists, LISTS.

I even have a master list to organize my lists. Maybe I'm not organized, but OCD.

Anyway, writing starts now...

But a little example of what I did this weekend from those cursed lists:



Saturday, May 29, 2010

Brief update and 'Chez White Kitty'

Been doing two diverse writing activities this weekend so far.

Continuing with book two, and incorporating Emmett Spain's comments into book one.

One of the comments he made struck's the 'hook' for the first chapter of 'The Prodigal's Foole.'

The first paragraph...the first SENTENCE is what will draw the reader in. My hook is ok, not great.

Let me give you examples of a few great 'hooks:'

1. Call me Ishmael. - Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)

2. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. - George Orwell, 1984 (1949)

3. A screaming comes across the sky. - Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (1973)

4. It was a pleasure to burn. - Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1953)

5. Mr. and Mrs. Dursley ,of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. -J.K Rowling, The Sorcerer's (Philosopher's) Stone (1997)

By contrast, my hook starts: "I stepped off the plane at Logan airport in Boston and could immediately feel the damp, chilly air that was typical of early spring in New England. "

It's ok, but what about: "Little did I know that the telegram in my pocket was about to change my life forever..."

What do you guys think?

In the meantime, the 'Cat Condo' we ordered for our newest family member--White Kitty--arrived yesterday. I took a few minutes to put it together. By popular request, here are a few photos:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thoughts on Fatherhood- Part 2

Three weeks ago I mentioned my son and his fourteenth birthday (You can find 'Thoughts on Fatherhood-Part 1' HERE).

Today, my baby girl turns 10. Although she thinks she's twenty-one in front of her friends; when she's with dad, she's back being my little girl. Much to her chagrin, she always will be.

If it was my son who convinced me to write things down, it would be my daughter, Riona who couldn't get enough of my stories at bedtime.

I'm sure part of her enjoyment revolved around the fact that she got to stay up an extra 30 minutes. But she would sit in her crib, and later her 'princess bed' wide-eyed for another installment of "Princess Riona and the (place fantasy creature/item here)"

I miss telling her those completely made-up-on-the-spot tales. Now she prefers to read before bed, just like her brother.

In a little over a week I fly down to get both my children for my summer visit (I'm divorced--they live with their mom). Tina and I will celebrate both their birthdays when I bring them back to Boston. But this very day, ten years ago. A beautiful baby girl was born.

Happy birthday Princess. I miss you terribly.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Instant Critique, Comments from Down Under.

As a new unpublished 'babe-in-the-woods' writer, I crave feedback.

Constructive critique and continual practice is the only way to get good at the craft. The Internet has been an interesting source of the 'instant gratification' our generation seems to thrive on these days.

It's actually been a pretty good experience so far.

Initially, I was quite nervous about posting excerpts from my first novel for the world to see. Not only was I worried about copy-write issues, but I really had doubts if what I've been building is worth anyone's time.

What I didn't expect is the number of writers (and industry insiders) who have offered me advise--good, solid words of wisdom that only better my skills.

Case in point:

Emmett Spain, an author from Sydney who writes in the same 'urban fantasy' genre as my 'Arcana Chronicles,' took time out to provide some pretty detailed critique of 'The Prodigal's Foole' opening chapter. It was good stuff and I'll be playing with some of his suggestions over the weekend.

BTW, I highly recommend his book 'Old Haunts, A London City Novel' I have it on my Kindle and it's a great read.

For a preview pop over to Amazon here:

Old Haunts, A London City Novel

But it is really interesting to see how electronic media, social websites and e-communications has changed the world of writing.

On the one hand, it has increased the number of writers out there submitting work 100-fold. This leads to a lot more competition for shelf-space in the stores. On the other hand, you can get honest and instant feedback on your work.

Sometimes from as far away as Sydney. See Emmett's Blog.

Last post for the long weekend here in the States. Loads of writing and polishing to do. In the meantime, enjoy yourselves!

And if you get a chance, check out Emmett's Blog.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Long Weekend in Sight...

Wednesday. "Hump Day" as they say here in the States.

Almost forgot I'm taking Friday off and Monday is, of course, the Memorial Day holiday.

Four days of writing ahead....I'm excited!

The one thing I'm looking forward to if I ever make the transition from 'Consultant' to 'Writer' is uninterrupted stretches of writing time. It takes me a while to 'ramp up,' but once in the groove, I tend to type away until my fingers hurt. Interruptions, job, life things, all weave in and out of my writing so there is a lot of stopping and starting to contend with.

I'm not complaining, mind you. The fact that I'm writing at all with what's on the plate is still amazing to me.

This upcoming weekend is a big deal....especially since I fly down to pick up my children for a month-long visit in 12 days.

Since I only am allowed to see the kids 50 days out of the year (thank YOU suck-ass lawyer), I have a boatload of activities planned while they're here with T and I in Beantown.

Writing milestones approach, ReaderCon in July and hopefully book two completed in September. Not to mention time with my children.

Meanwhile, plan 'Acquire a Kick-Ass Literary Agent' is in full swing.

A full plate and loving every minute of it!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Character Whisperer

Sometimes, my characters talk to me.

I know that sounds weird...and knowing ME, it probably is. But once I develop a character for a story, sometimes they take on a life of their own.

Let me see if I can give you an example from "The Prodigal's Foole" that's spoiler-free.

In the third act of the book, the climax is rapidly approaching and I needed the main character --Symon Bryson-- to do something significant. As I was writing the scene, a different character in the same scene literally said in my head:

"Wait. I should do that and here's why...."

You'll recognize the scene when you read it, assuming I ever get to the publication stage. Although I will say that there are few close relatives and friends who are running through the manuscript offering up critique and will see the scene for themselves. The rest of you will have to wait.

Anyway, the second character was RIGHT. It was a bit unexpected, made sense, and added a very interesting complication that will bleed over into book two. So I listened to that second character and relegated Symon to observer status for that particular scene.

I literally rubbed my hands together in evil anticipation of the change. I couldn't type the words fast enough.

It's the beauty of doing character development and pre-work before jumping into your novel.

Because once you pump life into your creations, they will speak to you. All you need to do is listen.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Throwing the Switch and Waiting

Monday....back at the job.

I had a good weekend-- added about 19 pages to book two and got a lot of prep done for the kids imminent arrival on 7 June for a month. Spent time with the love of my life. All in all a success.

Not sure I mentioned this but I got pulled from the 'query queue' for the agency I submitted 'The Prodigal's Foole' to. My own doing of course, as I won an auction for a 50 page critique from another agent at the same company.

It's not a bad thing...I got to donate to the flood victims in Nashville, and I also get a 50 page review; which is more then most queries get. But of course I didn't set a time limit knowing how busy this particular agent is and that she donated her time.

So the waiting game continues while I move forward. Made a prototype cover for the first four books over the weekend. Posted the first book prototype Sunday if you want to see what I was playing with.

The switch is now thrown for Monday Morning and I'm back in 'work mode' with too much to do and very little time to get it all done before my babies arrive for their summer visit.

Better refill the coffee mug and get cracking! Meanwhile...I check my e-mail every hour to see if I get lucky and have convinced an agent that the Arcana Chronicles are worth her time.

Oh Tom Petty. You were SO right!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sample Cover Art -The Prodigal's Foole

Submitted for your comment...

I was playing around with some new software this weekend and decided to make a cover for my first book. What do you think?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Recovery - Second Book Syndrome

All of a sudden, another weekend has shown up.

And yes, like most people, I love the weekends. However, I'm totally unprepared for writing tomorrow.

I blew away most of the first act for book two last weekend. I've since rewritten three chapters and I'm much happier with the direction.


I'm thinking I'm completely overdoing the 'Second Book Syndrome'. Cue scary music.

What is Second Book Syndrome? And why, as an unpublished writer, do i have it?

Second Book Syndrome is the tendency for a writer to over-reach and over-compensate, thinking that the first book was some sort of fluke. Book two ends up being of lesser quality then book one.

Writers are flaky people. Brilliant...but a little low on the self-esteem totem. At least until they are successful, then the pendulum can swing wildly the other way. Someday I hope to talk about that one from experience (And I expect all of you who know me to smack me if I become like that).

Actually, I think a major part of a literary agent's job for their clients is reassurance. Could you imagine if Dickens had an agent way back when?

"Of COURSE Chuck. It's marvelous. Although I have to say 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times' might not be the best way to draw you readers into your latest book. A bit of a bummer, if you know what I mean. But brilliant otherwise..."


The first act for book two was setting up a grand adventure. Actually upon reflection, I think I was trying to fit the entire series into the first act. Which is why I'll hold on to a bit of it.

So what's new is still a grand adventure. Just one that's book-sized. I'll know more when the weekend is out and will update you on progress.

Until then, have a bourbon on me and enjoy!

BTW-I've added links off to the right for the first three chapters of book one. That way you can find and read at your leisure. Feedback is always welcome.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chapter Three

Short post today....but I'm including Chapter Three for your reading pleasure! Again, formating isn't the best on the blog so apologies for that...

To save you searching:


After a quick search of the remaining areas of the church and dormitories, we found nothing else out of place. The three of us consulted quickly, and it was decided not to report Charles missing to the authorities for the time being. Aaron was, as you can imagine, completely against this but I’d shouted him down. I’m guessing the phrase ‘kidnapping by demonic servant of Hell’ wouldn’t have looked too good in his report. Besides, even rusty we were better equipped to investigate Charles’ disappearance then the police. Aaron excused himself curtly and stepped away to make a few calls. Peter went to make arrangements to have the doors repaired and to have parishioners who may turn up shepherded to the Anglican church down the street for the time being. This left me alone to contemplate the symbols and meaning of the ruined study. Runes and ancient languages had been a mandatory part of my study when I’d been a student here, but it had never been one of my strongest subjects. I was just thinking about going to find an old grimoire or text on the stuff when Flint and Kowalski seemingly materialized out of nowhere right next to me.

Kowalski looked around the room with a bored, yet appraising eye. After a minute he said “Sumerian…written in Manon marks or Kolbryn? What do you think Flint?”

“Dunno,” the big man grunted. “I called it in. Expert should be here in a bit. Wants us to take pictures and told me to tell you not to disturb anything.” Kowalski nodded and reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a miniature digital camera. It looked expensive.

“Mr. Bryson,” said Flint. “Could I ask you to step back please. You’re contaminating the scene.”

I couldn’t believe this. Charles was missing, St. Ignatius had been breeched, and here I had found my way into the cast of a witty forensics drama.

“Who the hell are you guys?” I asked.

The flash on the camera went off as Kowalski started documenting the study. Without missing a beat from his work, Kowalski said, “Private security.” And just like that I was dismissed.

I moved out of the way as the two men continued to work the room quickly and methodically. I really wanted to know who these guys were and why they had the run of the place. And to be honest, I was annoyed at being treated like a petulant child by these goons. I rubbed my right temple. Great, now a headache was coming on. Peter seemed to trust these guys, but for all I knew, Kowalski and Flint might be involved in Charles’ abduction somehow. I watched for a few more minutes, when I heard footsteps coming down the hall. I looked up and Peter was there, notebook and cordless phone in hand and looking as worried and tired as I felt. I glanced at my watch and it took me two tries before I could see the hands properly. Damn headache. It was quarter to midnight.

“Symon, I need you in the sanctuary. There are a few people there who’ve just arrived and they want to talk to you.” Before I could ask, he continued. “No, they aren’t the police. Aaron is still here, but he hasn’t called it in as of yet.” Peter turned on his heel and went back down the hall, dialing the phone as he went. With a glance back at Charles’ study, I followed.

There was a small group of people near the front pews, speaking in low voices with Aaron. Despite the years, I recognized them immediately. One was a very tall, thin black man wearing a priests’ frock. His hair had started to recede a bit and he was supporting a thin moustache and goatee. I hadn’t known Bill had joined the priesthood. He was chatting with a blonde woman dressed in what looked like a very expensive business suit, complete with a short yet tasteful skirt. Eden Engel looked like the epitome of the modern business executive, from her five hundred dollar haircut to her matching shoes and handbag from Gucci. I stopped when I noticed the third person whom I’d initially thought was sitting in a pew behind Eden. But now I noticed she was actually in a wheelchair. Eve Engel was identical to her sister in every way, as I had known them both years ago. But the resemblance was no longer as uncanny as it had once been. I knew that she had been affected by our disaster at Plum Island more than any of us, but the past decade had seemingly been harder on her. I was shocked to see her condition. What happened to Eve was one of many reasons I left. One of many things I blamed Charles for.

I honestly didn’t know how my old friends would react to seeing me. Maybe it was a combination of the long flight and exhaustion, but at the moment I didn’t care as much as I had thought I would during the flight over. I left this place ten years ago and chose to break my connection to these people. But Charles and I had some unfinished business to attend to once he was found and the current trouble sorted. That was the real reason for getting on the damn plane in the first place. But that had to wait until he was found. Based on what I’d seen tonight, I understood why Charles had wanted to put the band back together. The Monsignor had been snatched from Holy ground and that was supposed to be impossible. The only way I could think to find him and to get the Hell back to Ireland was to work with my old friends. Which included Aaron, Bill and the twins. Also, unfortunately, Janice. I wasn’t looking forward to that.

So I took a deep breath, held it for a moment, and then let it out counting to ten as I did so. Suck it up Symon, I thought. You need these people. And besides, Janice doesn’t seem to be here.

Aaron and Eden were engaged in a very low, animated conversation when I had entered the sanctuary; Bill was standing silently by their side. Eve seemed to be sleeping silently in her chair. All of this, of course stopped as I, too distracted by my own thoughts, walked right into one of the tall, free-standing candles next to the alter. With a loud crash that echoed seemingly for a week, the ornate candle and metal stand tumbled to the floor.

“Schmuck.” I muttered to myself.

Aaron and Eden stopped talking and turned to look at me. Bill stood there, one eyebrow raised like Mr. Spock in Star Trek and folded his arms, giving me a very Peter-esque look. Must be taught in Priest school. Eve stirred, but settled back down.

“Nice one, Sy,” said Aaron in that voice of his. “Like the entrance. Subtle and with all the grace of…”

“Oh shut up Aaron. When did you become such a pompous ass?” That was Eden. Tonight, she’s my hero. Eden came over to me and hugged me, something I wasn’t even remotely expecting. I hugged her back. It’s been a long night.

“Awful news about Charles. I know he’d be glad you came.” It was a strange comment with the circumstances being what they were. I filed it away as something I could think about later.

“I didn’t know Eve was in a wheelchair,” I said. “What happened?”

Eden teared up a bit. “She was never right after Plum Island.” She said, voice breaking a little. “I thought she’d turned a corner, but she’s gotten really bad in the last few months. Eve doesn’t have any lucid moments any more. She seems to be in a constant dream state. It’s frightening, Symon.”

I looked over at the infirm twin. It looked as though she was sleeping peacefully in her wheelchair. I knew better, of course. Eve was an empath. A damn strong one too. Plum Island had broken her. And it broke my heart to see her that way. Bill, I’d noticed, had come to stand by Eden, putting his hand on her shoulder to comfort her.

Without looking at me, he said, “Symon. It’s good to see you again. Eden, there isn’t a lot of time.”

Eden wiped away a tear and appeared to pull herself together. “Of course you are right, Father. Stay here and see what you can find out. I’ll go look in the Monsignor’s study.”

Eden, apparently, was the expert the two creepy security guards were waiting for. I should have guessed that, as ancient languages and symbols had been one of her many skills when we were growing up. It wasn’t a field of study that many kids majored in. And just for fun, she’d gotten degrees in biology and chemistry as well. She was unbelievably smart, as smart as Eve had been intuitive. Eden left us and heading toward the back, pausing to show her respect to the alter and the figure of Christ depicted hanging on the cross suspended on the wall behind the alter.

I watched her go, mixed emotions all fighting for dominance in my mind. I turned to look back at Eve when Bill clasped my arm.

“Sy, we’ve all missed you. Charles the most, I’m sure of it. He’d be very glad to see you’ve come to help.”

“When did you get ordained, Bill?” I asked absentmindedly.

“Let’s catch up later,” he said. “I already spoke to Aaron. What’s your take on what’s going on?”

I walked through everything that had happened since I stepped off the plane at Logan. Peter and the security guards; what I noticed about the damaged church; the feelings and smells in the church. The voice we had heard.

“It took some very evil and powerful magic to get into the church,” Bill mused. “Something must have invited the creature in either accidently or on purpose, I don’t know.”

I agreed with him. We started to discuss possibilities when Aaron came up to us.

“I really need to get an APB out on Charles, guys.” he said, frustration coloring his every word. “I can get the airports and train stations closed and coverage of all the highways within the hour.”

I laughed. I probably shouldn’t have, but I did anyway.

“What, Aaron,” I mocked, sounding much harsher then I’d meant to. Hey, I was tired and my head felt like it was going to split open with the migraine that I’d developed.

“You think the demon grabbed Charles, called a cab then put him on a flight to Bermuda? For God’s sake…”

“I don’t see the great Symon Bryson doing anything to find him!” he spat back. “We can handle this. Why don’t you go back to Ireland and hide in your apartment. It’s what you’re good at.”

“Son of a bitch,” I moved to hit him, but Bill grabbed me.

“Stop it. Both of you. This is the worst thing that could happen now. We’ll never find Charles if the two of you are at each other’s throats!”

Aaron and I continued to have a go at each other, our voices rising; Bill’s deep baritone rising as well to try and talk some sense into us. But neither Aaron nor I were going to back down. Ten years was a long time to keep emotions bottled up and we were both stressed to the breaking point.

All of a sudden the pain in my head exploded. Stars danced across my vision. I put my hands to my temples but the pounding wouldn’t stop. I staggered backwards a bit and was vaguely aware that both Bill and Aaron seemed to be in distress as well.

That’s when Eve screamed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nice Guys Finish Last, But We Sleep Better.

Today's installment of the Arcana Chronicles is all about when having a big heart bites you in the butt.

Not so much a blog about writing, more about T and I rapidly approaching the 'Crazy Cat Person' threshold.

I have this theory. If you have more then three cats you are--by my definition--a 'Crazy Cat Person.'

It's not a bad thing. Honest.

Rewinding the clock a little, I used to hate cats. I mean there was a time in my life where one of my favorite books was '101 Things to Do with a Dead Cat.' I'm more of a dog person, or so I thought.

Then I was introduced to Tina's cats....and I fell in love. With her and 'her babies.' Although I still have my ol' dog Jack and he is still my buddy, the cats became a part of our extended, strange family.

A week ago, a stray came into our lives. He's a white cat we've named (intriguingly enough) "White Kitty."

Well White Kitty is fixed (I still don't know why they call it that since what you are actually doing is 'breaking' them), flea infested and cute as all Hell. It's obvious he was a pet, but had gotten dumped. Which pisses me off, but that's for another rant.

We had our visiting vet come by and check him out....and the cat was in good shape, a bit dirty, but healthy. A couple hundred bucks later, the cat is now up on its shots etc. And no more fleas.

But see, White Kitty's been living outside for a while (let me know if you see what's coming next).

White Kitty's fed, watered and is just loving all the attention we've been giving it. I should also mention at this point that our two existing cats HATE change. I mean hate it more then my dad did when e-mail was introduced to him at work.

Anyway --we made a spot in the garage for White Kitty while we wait on the freakin' CONDO we bought for him to arrive. It's all cedar and has two porches and a space to put in a solar heater for the winter if we want. It's a lot nicer then my first apartment. But I digress.

So we settle all the animals in their perspective places....Jack (my dog) on his cushion by the fireplace. One cat on Tina's lap. The other nestled in the couch next to us, and White Kitty in the garage.

Then, of course, it began to rain.

Now we KNOW White Kitty's an outdoor cat because we've seen him around for months. But see, White Kitty is getting attention now. And Food. And two bleeding heart do-gooders who are all soft an' stuff when it comes to animals. And it KNOWS. Cats always do.

The rain came down harder. White Kitty trotted to the door. And began to cry.

"No Rich!" I can hear you all shouting. "Don't go into the dark room without a light because the psycho killer with the chainsaw is there!" Or something to that effect.

We let White Kitty in to our three-season porch.

Chaos ensued. Cat number one lost it and started hissing and growling. She actually tried to take White Kitty out via frontal assault. Cat Number two jumped to a high perch and tried a blitzkrieg-esques attack from above. White Kitty ran around the porch joyfully ignoring the two feline aggressors with a playful swat of a paw.

Jack just laid there like Ralphie's brother from 'A Christmas Story.' It was his best defense.

An hour later, we got things settled back down. White Kitty was sealed on the porch, warm and dry and content as he could be. Jack was back in his 'house,' cat number one was in Tina's and my bedroom (pouting), and cat number two was hiding upstairs in the kids' loft (for when they visit). Also pouting.

Frazzled, Tina and I went to bed. Only to be woken at 3:30 AM by White Kitty trying to breakdown the porch door.

Three cats. Now I understand why they call us 'Crazy Cat People.'

Tomorrow: Chapter Three

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Research Part Two: Demons, The Church and the Bible

The Arcana Chronicles is considered 'Urban Fantasy'

What the hell is 'Urban Fantasy', you ask?

Wikipedia has a brief description: Urban fantasy is a subset of fantasy defined by place; the fantastic narrative has an urban setting. Many urban fantasies are set in contemporary times or contain supernatural elements. However, this is not the primary definition of urban fantasy. Urban fantasy can be set in historical times, modern times, or futuristic times. The prerequisite is that it must be primarily set in a city, rather than in a suburban or country setting, which have their own genre subsets.

Basically a story with fantasy elements that takes place in a city.

Part one of the research diatribe a few posts ago was location-based. T and I wandered around the city of Boston, where Symon's adventures take place (at least initially).

Part two, dear reader, discusses some of the fantasy elements in the story.

As someone who has been taught magic by the Catholic Church, I've spent a lot of time not only researching the modern Church, but also the history of Catholicism in general. I guess a point I should make here is that I'm not Catholic, however my children are...that's a discussion for a different post.

Second, I've been reading different versions of the Bible. There is a boatload of material in the 'good book' to play with....and a even larger amount on non- canonical work. In fact I use the Book of Enoch and some elements from it in a rather twisted way in Book Two.

But the series isn't religious per se. In fact, Symon is agnostic. There is very little in the way of preachy, Church doctrine in the books. That's not the story I'm telling.

BUT...I need the background to write properly about certain Church elements. What does a Cardinal wear? What is the hierarchy of the Church? Is there really a Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology? (The answer is Yes, BTW)

And of course if you're gonna have the church, and Angels, You have to have demons too. I reference the Clavis Salomon (Lesser Key of Solomon) to find the first two 'bad guys' of the series.

Research is so critical to give depth and color to the story...especially if you are going to write fantasy. By definition you are already writing the fantastical. Grounding the fantasy with bits of well-researched culture and history provides a pretty good 'one-two' punch.

Besides, it's fun!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Just Another Manic Monday...

...wish it were Sunday....

Switch back to 'work mode' from 'writing mode' is always an interesting transformation.

The iPhone receiving four score work-related e-mails over the weekend I guess helps (although 'hurts' is probably more accurate).

It doesn't mean writing goes away. Just compartmentalized while the paying gig moves to the forefront. The interesting thing is in that little compartment where writing hides through out the day, ideas churn and formulate. So by the time the evening comes and I'm ready to switch back to 'writing mode' I already pretty much know what's coming.

Since I've taken a new tact with act one, this churning of ideas is even more important since 30September is my target date to finish up book two.

So Monday is here, plenty of work to do....both for the job and the writing. "But I can't be late 'cause then I guess I just won't get paid. These are the days when you wish your bed was already made."

Just another manic Monday.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Night and Satisfaction

The beauty of missing a self-imposed deadline is I don't feel guilty when I miss it.

All right. I don't feel AS guilty.

Did some good work today regrouping from the Act One disaster. Some good thoughts are down on paper and I wrote a few chapters that I'm MUCH happier about. About 6,000 words worth. And 6k of good is much better then 32k of bad.

I can't really explain how I know something works for me, verses when it doesn't. I just KNOW. Of course what I think is good may not be when someone else reads it.

But when a piece of writing makes me happy, I go with it. I mean that was the purpose of starting this journey. Telling stories that I enjoy telling. Otherwise, what's the point?

I've been lurking on other writer's blogs. Both well known, not-so-well known and wannabes like myself. It's been enlightening...reading about structure or what specific writers do to get through "the block."

But they all have one thing in common. They are happy writing. They get true satisfaction from the craft.

Even if I never publish, I know exactly how they feel.

And I'm OK with that.

Anyone want Chapter Three of Book One tomorrow? If so, post your comments. Maybe I can get some of the lurkers out there to show themselves. After-all, the blog is about posting the journey. And I get satisfaction from sharing as well! :-)

'Nite all.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"OuuuutLAAAAAAW!" When Ideas go bad.

Russel Crowe. Ridley Scott. Cate Blanchett. ROBIN freakin' HOOD.

How could it go wrong? Seriously.

But it was awful. I mean really really bad.

My partner, Tina is a huge Russell Crowe fan. And I have to admit I loved 'Gladiator,' '3:10 to Yuma' and 'A Beautiful Mind.'

I grew up on various flavors of Robin Hood....from watching the old Fairbanks and Flynn interpretations through to Kevin Costner's really bad accent. I loved Sir Sean Connery's older Robin Hood in 'Robin and Marion.'

Hell, I even giggled at 'Men in Tights.' I guffawed at John Cleese's version in 'Time Bandits.'

Last night T and I went out for our weekly date night and decided to see the latest take on the legend. And I wished I'd rented a movie or watched 'NCIS' reruns instead.

There was no emotion, marginal acting (except for Oscar Isaac who played Prince John--despite the only clip of him screaming 'OutLAAAAAAAW!" you see on the trailer--he was fantastic). I was even bored with the final battle.

I blame the story (See? I'm bringing this all back to writing). It was a lifeless piece of writing by Brian Helgeland....the man who brought us such masterpieces as 'LA Confidential' and 'Green Zone.'

Why was it the story's fault? Well, the movie was supposed to be about how 'Robin Hood' came to be the great criminal living in Sherwood. It was filled with Epic battles, heartache for Marion Locksley (they spell it Loxley in the movie....not sure why they changed it), blah blah blah. It was a mish-mash of ideas that never came together.

See, the ORIGINAL idea for this movie was to tell the story of Robin Hood from the Sheriff of Nottingham's perspective--kind of like 'Wicked' but with bows, arrows and tights and no ruby slippers. That might have been very cool.

But it morphed into this pseudo-epic backstory that was a few good ideas and a lot of bad ones.

What does this all have to do with my writing?

Remember yesterday when I said I was pulling the first act together for book two? Well, I started to do that this morning. And it was CRAP. The two concepts for book two are amazing (I think)....just not together. I mean, not even a little bit. So the prolog'll stay....but the rest? I'll file it away. Maybe it can be salvaged and used later. But the bottom line is, no matter how many good people you have working with it, a bad idea is still BAD. That's why I'm scrapping act one and starting over.

Maybe that's something Russell Crowe and the rest should have considered when they read the script for Robin Hood.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Ramp-Up

Ah, Fridays.

I remember when Friday consisted of working one's butt off until noon, then spending the next five hours mapping out the pubs whose barstools we'd grace that evening.

Friday's are a little different these days.

First off, the day job is insane. I have six of 17 projects finishing up in the next thirty days. Wicked crazy.

But more importantly, I have to map out the writing for the weekend (in between the 'Honey Do' list).

With Book one (Pages 1-50) in the hands of an agent for critique, and research completed for book two, it's time to really get cracking. The Prolog is done, and Act one scenes are mapped out. time to connect the dots.

So Saturday/Sunday will be gardening, home improvements and a first draft of Act One--thirteen chapters and 32,500 words.

Oh boy. Never a barstool around when you need one.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Hi, I'm Richard. I'm a writer..."

I have a twelve-step program to get to publication.

I know comparing my writing to AA is awful...I have a couple of friends who are recovering alcoholics. And I'm very proud of both of them.

However, my program is not genetic, nor is it a disease. It's self-inflicted madness.

I bring this up today because I've submitted the first fifty pages of book one, 'The Prodigal's Foole' to an agent last night. It wasn't based on a query. In fact, I won a 50 page critique via charitable auction with an agent/agency I'd been targeting for my work. Fifty pages to get noticed.

(BTW The charity is called 'Do the Write Thing for Nashville.' Check it out:

And it happens to be the same agent I wrote the were-roaches story for.

The 'Publication' Program for your reference:

1) The 'Idea'
2) The 'Characters'
3) The 'Setting'
4) The Series Arc-Where am I going?
5) The First Book Arc
6) Write the First Book
7) Research Agencies
8) Develop Query/'Get Noticed' plan
9) Acquire the right Agent
10) Develop the marketing plan
11) Acquire a publisher
12) First Printing

Repeat and rinse as needed.

I'm currently on step eight....and I know I cheated a little to get there. But I have my work sitting in the inbox of an agent I like very much. Now, we wait for her review of the first 50 pages.

Wouldn't it be nice if she asked for page fifty-one?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Juggling Act

Two Thousand words a day.

It doesn't sound like a lot, but unless one is randomly typing words (like the monkey's in the 'infinite monkeys with infinite typewriters' scenario), it becomes a lot more then a word count.

At least for me, that is.

What do I want to write? Where is what I write going? Is it any good? How much editing do I do for those 2000 words and does editing 'count' toward the total?

A dear friend of mine read the 'Were-roaches' story and commented that "It was really fun, but there were a lot of typos." I'm looking at YOU Funky. And your music clip was AWESOME, by the way. Send more please. And say hi to Dillon for me.

Anyway, he was right.

There were (and still are as I really haven't gone back to edit it) a lot of typos. But the purpose of the story was to whip up something real quick based on a funny Twitter stream.

It wasn't an exercise in perfection, more one of creativity.

But of course it was for someone in 'the biz' so maybe I should've taken more care. Which leads me to the Juggling Act.

Writing is one thing. Editing, revising and editing again are completely different.

So the Juggling Act for me comes in two flavors at the moment:

1) For the blog, do I post more raw content with less editing, or do I post less but make sure it's close to perfect?
2) Should my blog be as polished as my manuscripts?

The second question is easier. I say 'No.' My manuscripts, once i've taken a pass at the edits and revisions myself, I send out to be edited one last time by a fresh set of eyes. My PhD sister and my partner are my primary editors....because they are both wicked smart, thorough and do not let the fact that I'm related impact their editing in anyway. They're quite ruthless about it, which is what I need.

Which, I guess, makes answering the first one easier. I'd rather post more 'less polished' content on the blog. I'm sure that may come back to bite me in the ass later, but--as I said in my first post here--this blog is my therapy.

So I guess you guys will have to deal with the typos. At least the juggling isn't with chainsaws.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Charmingly Persistent vs. Annoyingly Aggressive

I'll leave it to you, good reader, to decide.

As you know, my query went out and I'm waiting to hear back.

The agent I sent it to--we'll call her 'Agent J'-- has a long stream of writer's she represents who write in a similar classification as I do.

"Urban Fantasy"

There is a newer agent at the same agency--we'll call her 'Agent A'-- who I've been following via social media. She's funny, bright and pulls no punches with her commentary.

Well, 'Agent A' had an auction recently to support the recent disastrous flooding in Nashville. The auction was for a fifty page manuscript critique.

This is also the same agent I wrote the quick 'Were-roaches' story for a few days ago.

Bottom line, I stayed up until one last night to win the auction. And I did.

I already checked with her regarding the politics surrounding submitting to one agent, while winning this golden opportunity with another in the same agency. She said they'd bend the rules for charity.

I SO want to work with these people. They really are awesome.

So while I contemplate how to impress Agent A and get her as excited about my book series as I am, I leave the following question for you:

Was this an opportunity to get myself in front of the right person? Or a 'too aggressive' move motivated by my desire to publish?

I'll let you know...and I can't wait to get feedback on the first fifty pages. Good, or bad, at least a professional eye will be looking at what I've put on paper.

And the people of Nashville get some well-needed cash.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Character Sheets and Waiting: Week Three

Remember those marbled Composition notebooks we used as kids?

You know the ones. Teachers used to make us write 'Journals' during High School. Half way through my junior year I got a pass on writing in mine--as my homeroom teacher Dr. Saltzman said, "I just don't need to know the details of your exploits. I weep for those girls' parents."

But I digress.

I have one of those old-style notebooks for EACH of the main characters for the series.

Part of the fun in making up new stories is character development. I'll give you an example.

Symon Bryson, my lead character and whose point of view the series is told from, lost his parents when he was younger. In fact, they were killed right in front of him. But his character doesn't remember anything from that horrible incident.

Ah. But I do. I've written that entire sequence of events. And what happened during that time will have a profound impact on Symon's psyche in the first few books.

But more then hidden scenes that allow me to play 'I know something you don't know,' the character books keep me from forgetting details.

For example. Symon's old girl friend, Janice, is part Narragansett Indian. Symon's best friend, Aaron, wears glasses. Father Bill Duncan, another friend of Symon's, has a dark secret (to be explored in the second book).

I could go on, but that might spoil the fun. Besides, I reserve the right to change things around in the back histories willy-nilly should the story dictate such a change or if I'm in a bad mood that day.

As long as it's consistent with the story (or, hopefully stories) as presented to the reader.

Consistency. That's also the key to the business of writing.

I was perusing the blog of the agent I submitted my work too, and noticed that she has only gotten up to submissions dated to the 12th of April. Well, that means mine hasn't been read as of yet as I submitted electronically on the 22nd.

You might be wondering what takes so long. And if it weren't for the updates posted on this particular agents blog, I'd be wondering the same thing. And pulling out my hair more then I am.

She receives HUNDREDS of queries. Each one is (or SHOULD be) the same:

1) Professional Query Letter
2) Summary of the book
3) First five pages

Now, assume it takes five minutes for each query. And assume 400 queries a week (which is actually a low number). That's 2000 minutes (or 33.3 hours) a week. That's just READING queries.

This doesn't take into consideration existing clients' needs, publishers, editors, writing conferences and all the other things an agent does during the work week.

So what does this have to do with anything?


The character sheets I've developed allow me to keep the characters consistent from chapter to chapter and from book to book.

The agent's blog updates provide me (as a potential client) with consistent business facts that work across any agency and updates on her progress. Consistent following of the guidelines will get you noticed faster.

Bottom line is consistency leads to better writing for me. My characters are individuals who will develop and grow. The only way that happens is if I keep the core facts straight. The consistent blog reporting by professionals helps me to understand the business of writing. Not to mention keeping me informed as to where my submission is in the queue.

Which keeps the hair on my head consistently in place.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Research Part One: Scouting Locations

It's the weekend....which means time to work on my own little projects as opposed to the job-related ones.

I've been fortunate enough to have done a lot of traveling in my life. When I lived in Europe, I spent a lot of time on planes heading anywhere from South Africa and Dubai to Uruguay and Iceland. It was a crazy time in my life.

And I HATE to fly. But sometimes you suck it up for the opportunity.

What I never realized back then is that all those experiences would be useful to me above and beyond the consulting I was doing at the time.

As planned at the moment, the first three books of the Symon Bryson series will take place primarily in the Boston area. As the dangers and conflicts slowly ramp up, the locations will expand on par with the action.

There are a ton of religions and mythologies out there I want the play with as a part of the arcana chronicles.

Now, like any modern writer (or 'wannabe' writer in my case) Wikipedia (and the Internet in general) is a veritable cornucopia for research material. But eResearch has credibility issues sometimes. A twelve year old posting a Wikipedia entry on particle physics, for example, should probably be fact-checked.

Anyway, I like to do online research backed up by 'pounding the pavement' research. Especially when it comes to locales.

There are too many nuances---smells, culture, foods, etc.-- that need to be experienced to be written about properly.

And I love research.

So I have a few scenes in books two and three that will take place in certain areas of Boston. My partner Tina and I will spend the weekend playing in local neighborhoods, eateries and little corners of the city I want to use later. She's a true sport.

And it's spooky-gloomy outside with misty rain. Peeeeerfect.

Sometimes, I just love my life.

EDIT at 18:30 A few shots that might come in handy:

Friday, May 7, 2010

Thoughts on Fatherhood

Today my son, Brendan, turns fourteen.

FOURTEEN. How the Hell did THAT happen?

Brendan is possibly the sweetest human being on this earth. He is entering his second teenage year and he's still sweet to this very day. Long may his disposition last, although I worry a bit about him being walked over by people. Real life has a way of smacking you in the face sometimes.

Not to be cliche about it, but I remember the day he was born as clear as if it happened yesterday. He was six minutes old when I held him for the first time. I looked into his blue eyes (and scrunched up little face) and said "Hi! I'm your dad. Ready for me to buy you a baseball glove or some Lego?"

I was up all night his first day on this planet and was a little weirded out by the fact that I now had this little eight pound human who totally depended on me.

Fast-forward fourteen years. It's been a pretty cool ride. My son (and daughter who is nine going on 25 and will get her own blog mention on her birthday later this month) has taught me so many amazing things.

That's right. The kids taught ME.

Being a dad taught me patience, responsibility, tenderness, humor, and love. And so many other things.

In essence, being a Dad taught me to be a man.

"I thought this blog was about you trying to become an author, Rich?"

Yeah, yeah. I'm getting to that. Allow an old man to gush over his first born for a bit.

One of my biggest issues when I was younger was the 'Big Idea --Poor Execution' syndrome. I would have all these ideas in my head and never finish them before moving to the next thing. "Oooo! Shiny!"

See, that sort of thing just doesn't work when you have kids. You HAVE to finish what you start for them. There is no other option. Unconditional love is sorta like that.

For many years I put aside writing. Oh the ideas came and went, but the 'new me' knew I couldn't finish what I started (between putting food on the table, school runs, practices etc.) so I didn't write for a long time.

Then, about a year ago my son said to me "Dad, you tell really good stories. You should write them down."

I thought about that for a while. I blogged earlier about books that influenced the concept of the series. But it wasn't until Brendan told me to write stuff down (well that and ongoing support from my partner) that I actually started to 'put fingers to keyboard.'

Now, one year later I'm shopping the first book around and working on more. Will it go anywhere? I don't know.

But what I do know is that I finished a 100,000 word novel. All because a boy who is rapidly approaching manhood taught me to do it.

Thanks son. And happy birthday.

I hope you're not too old for Lego.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Were-roaches and Social Media

The Internet is a funny place. You can find anything out there from the freakish to the geek-ish.

As a part of my foray into writing, I've discovered an entire online world dedicated to the craft. Twitter, Facebook, blogs....they are all out there filled with e-savvy folk at the other end of a computer typing away very happily.

But sometimes it gets pretty strange.

Which leads me to 'Were-roaches.'

Someone in the World Wide Web of insanity, connected to the writing industry, tweeted about Were-roaches. Not Werewolves. Not Were-goats.


I thought it was hysterical. So as a bit of a challenge to myself, I decided to write a quick 'n' dirty short story. About,--you guessed it. Were-roaches.

Have a laugh and enjoy. And if you are reading this at night, you might want to keep the light on.

"...THERE Roaches!"

Janet Mercer sat nervously sipping her black and tan in McSorley’s Old Ale house on 7th Street in the East Village of Manhattan a few doors from her cheap apartment house. The famous pub was filled with old trinkets from decades past. There were a pair of handcuffs attached to the bar rail--said to have belonged to the great Houdini. There were wishbones hanging above the bar. Young soldiers heading off to World War One supposedly placed them there. Those ‘dough-boys’ who had come home safely had collected their wishbones back. Far too many remained unclaimed.

Although the history of the ale house had always fascinated the young aspiring actress from Wisconsin, tonight the normally chatty and inquisitive Janet sat alone in a dark corner nursing her half-pints aimlessly running her fingers over decades-old graffiti carved into the thick butcher-block table.

Janet ignored the hellos that normally led to hours of conversation and laughter. She even didn’t react in the normal mock-indignation she feigned to the delight of the elderly regulars when they booed every woman coming out of the ladies restroom. New York had made McSorley’s put in a ladies room back in the seventies much to the chagrin of it’s all male clientele.

The history, the conversations, the good-natured needling didn’t matter. Not this evening. Not when a full moon was only a few hours away.

* * *

Thirty minutes later, the door to the old pub opened and the ancient brass bell tinkled signaling the arrival of another customer.

A heavy-set man wearing greenish-gray dirty cover-alls walked into the pub. He was about five foot six, wore coke bottle glasses and had long thin greasy hair tied in a ponytail. He was unshaven and a bit grimy, with dark stains scattered sporadically over his one piece. He looked like a sanitation worker who’d gotten off a long shift. A filty, sewed on name tag said ‘Dinklespot.’

The man looked around the room, his dark beady eyes adjusting to the dim light of the ale house. His gaze found Janet, and he walked over to her and sat down without an invitation.

“Ms. Mercer?” he said in a high-whiney sort of voice.

“Yes,” Janet replied tentatively.

“Dinklespot,” he said. “I understand you have a problem.”

Janet looked over the man and her resolve waned a bit. She’d been in her little apartment for almost three months and had experience the strangeness of two full moons. Janet had been dreading a third experience due this evening, when she had come across a little flyer that had been posted on the street lamp outside her building:




(212) 555-2847

She had rang the number and left a message to meet her at McSorley’s. She might be from a little town in Wisconsin, but she wasn’t stupid. A public place was always the best place to meet up with strangers.

Janet looked over Dinklespot a second time. “I think this might have been a mistake. I’m sorry to have wasted your time...” she began to stand when the strange man grasped her arm.

“When the moon is full it happens,” whispered Dinklespot intensely. You hear strange noises after midnight. You’re afraid to leave your bedroom. The next morning, your things are strewn about the apartment and all your food; even what’s in the refrigerator, is gone. Am I right?”

Janet slowly sat down.

“Is there a problem, lassie?” called an Irish brogue from behind the bar.

“No, it’s fine, Seamus,” Janet called back.

In a lower voice she said to the man, “Everyone at the restaurant thinks I’m crazy. But I’ve never been so scared in my life.”

Dinklespot nodded knowingly and released Janet’s arm.

“Every full moon for the last couple of months, it’s happened,” began Janet rapidly, throwing the explanation out there as if an auction caller. “I can’t sleep, I can’t eat. Oh Mr. Dinklespot, what’s happening?”

“Were-roaches,” he said simply.

“What?” asked Janet confused.

“Scourge of the city,” said Dinklespot. “Were-roaches.”

“What the Hell are ware-roaches?” sputtered Janet out loud. Patrons at the surrounding tables turned to look at her.

“Shhh!” Hissed Dinklespot. “You’ve heard of werewolves?”

“Sure,” Janet said, her voice breaking slightly. “I have an audition for a werewolf musical tomorrow, in fact. But I’ve never heard of where...where...”

“Were-roaches,” said Dinklespot seriously. “Same concept as werewolves, only smaller with more legs. I’ve made it my mission to take care of them.” Dinklespot shook his head.

“It’s personal, so don’t ask,” he added.

“Can you help me?” Janet asked miserably.

“The moon is almost up and it will be midnight soon. Let’s get my gear,” said Dinklespot in reply.

* * *

Janet fumbled nervously with the key to her apartment building. She and Dinklespot had retrieved a large, black gym bag from the back of a dilapidated white Ford van parked on seventh.

“I’m sorry, I’m just... ya know...just really nervous,” said Janet as she finally got the key into the lock and turned. The front door opened with an ominous creak.

“No problem, ma’am. Happens all the time in my line of work,” said Dinklespot as they entered the converted brownstone.

They made there way up two flights of stairs. The building smelled musty and the dim glow of a single bare light bulb threw shadows that seemed to follow the two mockingly as they made their way to Janet’s apartment.

Fumbling again with her keys, she finally let them inside. Janet’s little apartment was typical of an East Village conversion. The entryway opened into a small living room/dining room combo with beat up hardwood floors. A galley kitchen with cheap wood paneled cabinets and avocado-colored appliances was off to the right. The place was sparsely furnished with a rickety card table with folding chairs and a paisley-patterned couch. A small television sat on top of a plastic milk case in the corner.

“It’s not much,” Janet said. “But the price was right. Can you really help me Mr. Dinklespot?”

The little man smiled. “I’m a professional, ma’am.”

He sat his gym bag down in the center of the room, unzipped it and pulled out two cans of what looked like bug spray. They were black with no labeling with silver plastic tops.

“What’s that?” asked Janet.

“My own concoction,” said Dinklespot. “Silver nitrate mixed with RAID.”

“And that will kill these...were-roaches?”

“Oh heavens no,” said Dinklespot as if speaking to a slow child. “They don’t like the stuff so they’ll go around it. I’ll spray it around the baseboards of the place, leaving open a spot in the living room here. Then we’ll bait the trap.”

The man went about his work, humming tunelessly to himself as he sprayed the silver RAID around the apartment. While he was in her bedroom, Janet took a peak in Dinklespot’s gym bag. It seemed to contain more cans of the were-roach spray and a white plastic garbage bag that smelled slightly foul. Before she could investigate further, the man came back into the living room.

“Right,” he said. “That should do it. Now for the bait, and then we wait for midnight.” Dinklespot reached into his gym bag and pulled out the white plastic. He unwrapped it and plopped a large piece of raw meat right in the center of the floor.

Janet wrinkled her nose in disgust.

“Is that really necessary?” she asked choking back a bit of bile from the now overwhelming stench.

“Only the best will get them all out,” said Dinklespot. “And I want all of them tonight.”

Trying to only breath from her mouth, Janet said, “We really haven’t talked about your fee, Mr. Dinklespot. Maybe if you could tell me what you charge I can head out to an ATM to get you cash...?”

“Oh no,” he said. “There is no charge. I told you. This is my passion. I’ve been looking for the nest in this area for a while.”

Janet coughed as she mistakenly used her nose to breathe. “Then maybe I should leave you to it and come back when the job is...”

“Please stay,” said Dinlespot. “After all, you want to be sure the job is done right, don’t you?”

Janet thought about the last two full moons and shuddered. “Yeah, I guess so.”

The two fell into silence for the next three-quarters of an hour. As midnight approached, Janet asked. “So. If the bug spray doesn’t kill them, how do you get rid of the were-roaches? Cut their little heads off?”

“No,” said Dinklespot. “That would just leave a bunch of headless were-roaches running around. You’ll see.” And with that, the man fell silent once more.

The church bells down the street began to chime. Midnight of the full moon was finally here. Janet suddenly felt cold, and goose flesh popped up and down her arms. She moved closer to Dinklespot.

“Do you hear it?” he whispered.

Janet cocked her head to one side and listened. A ‘scritch-scritch’ sound was coming from behind the baseboards. The sound was all around them.

“I left a little open spot right over there,” Dinklespot said pointing near Janet’s TV.

The apartment lights were off, only the moonlight that streamed in through the dusty window illuminated the apartment. But even through the dim gloom, Janet could make out movement in the corner Dinklespot had indicated.

A cockroach came out from behind the TV. Hesitant at first, then with more confidence it skittered across the floor toward the raw feast in the center of the room. The bug crossed into the windowpane-shaped moonlight reflection on the floor and stopped dead in its tracks.

Antennae twitching, the bug began to shake. Then there was a light ‘crack’ sound as it’s hard, brown shell-like body split from head to thorax. The little creature let out a tiny howl.

“Oh God...that’s what I heard!” stammered Janet.

The exoskeleton of the roach split even wider, and the little creature seemed to expand in size. Crawling out of the shattered roach was something that looked like a cross between a tarantula and a nightmare. A hairy, six-legged creature easily three times the size of the original roach slowly made it’s way out of the ruins of the bug. The transformation complete, the were-roach reared up on its hind legs and gave a high-pitched howl, snapping its fangs hungrily.

From behind the baseboard, hundreds of tiny muffled howls answered the cry.

“Jesus Christ!” exclaimed Jane. “Do something Dinklespot!”

“Patience, ma’am,” said the man quietly. “We want them all, remember?”

There was a deeper, somehow more menacing scuttling from behind the baseboards and the creatures made there way to the only exit provided by Dinklespot. The little TV fell off it’s egg crate as the baseboard exploded behind it and hundreds of the little fury monsters poured into the apartment. Janet screamed.

The creatures, howling and snarling as they went, made a beeline toward the trap Dinklespot had set. Within seconds the meat was devoured.

“Dinklespot!” screamed Janet.

“Oh, you’ve been very bold,” said Dinklespot in a cooing voice. “It’s time to go home.”

“What are you talking about?” shouted Janet in horror. “Kill them!”

“Kill them?” said Dinklespot. “What are you, some sort of monster? You don’t kill children!”

With that, the little man opened the zipper on his overalls. He let out a little grunt as his bare chest began to pulsate. The skin on his sternum split bloodlessly and large, hairy insect like limbs began to rip apart Dinklespot’s flesh from the inside.

“Come my children!” hissed a voice from the chest cavity. “First you may feast on the female, then we will go home!”

“Fuck this,” spat Janet as the little horrors turned toward her. She dove for the gym bag. Grabbing cans of silver RAID in each hand she prayed. Then sprayed.

Squeals of pain came from the little were-roaches as silvery foam touched their skin. Janet sprayed at anything that moved.

“No!” Hissed the Dinklespot-bug, still only halfway out of it’s human flesh cocoon. “Don’t hurt them! Bitch!”

The larger were-roach struggled frantically to extract itself from its human form. Tossing away the now empty cans, Janet scooped up two more and walked over to Dinklespot, stepping over its squealing off-spring. She flipped the silver tops off both cans and emptied the contents right into the face of the the Dinkle-were-roach.

A loud howl of pain was followed immediately by the were-roach flopping out from Dinklespot’s chest. The human body fell to the floor with a sickly thud as a bug the size of a small dog; now covered in bubbling welts, also fell twitching to the hardwood. For each loud bellow the large were-roach gave, the smaller creatures mimicked the sound with their higher-pitched voices.

Janet, realizing the hoard of smaller were-roaches were connected to their parent, dropped the second set of bug spray cans to the ground and ran into her little kitchen. She grabbed a large butcher knife from the counter and raced back into the living room.

Lifting the knife high over her head, Janet brought the blade down and cut off the Dinklespot-were-roaches’ head with one stroke.

The hundreds of smaller creatures let out a simultaneous screech, then went silent. Hundreds of little bodies twitched all over Janet’s apartment.

The head of the large were-roach rolled around for a moment and settled in front of the would-be actress, six eyes staring at Janet.

It laughed.

“I told you cutting heads off wouldn’t help!” it hissed.

The headless body of the Dinkle-were-roach began to move. Janet didn’t hesitate. With one big leap, she jumped and landed both feet on the large body. Guts splashed everywhere.

She stepped out of the disgusting mess, breathing heavy and looked around. None of the smaller were-roaches were moving. They were all dead.

Janet wiped sweat off her brow, breathing heavily. “How am I going to explain this to the landlord?” she panted.

A weak hiss answered her. “I’d worry more about the were-queen when she finds out what you’ve done,” said Dinklespot-bug as it died.