Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"All This Digging" reviewed

Rod Richards, who owns "The Title Wave" bookstore in Portland, Oregon, has reviewed thousands of books and has been posting reviews on Recently, he reviewed my debut collection of short stories, "All This Digging and other stories."

The link to the actual review is:

I wrote these stories while working on my Masters Degree many years ago. They were part of a larger project I was doing as part of my thesis. At that time, the loose collection was called "Unfinished Business," because I believe that all short stories are mere glimpses into a moment in time. We don't generally know what led us to the event detailed in the story nor do we often know what happens afterward. I also named it that because I had the start of a novel (then called "Summer of Seven" which later became "Summer Breaks") and knew that it was not even close to being finished.

Some of the stories begin and end with roughly the same sentence. I was trying to develop a series of stories that I dubbed "Circle of Life" tales. That is, the reader is taken on a small journey that essentially leads the reader right back to where s/he started.

For example, the collection's title piece, "All This Digging," starts off with:
"I hate all this digging," the old man said aloud to no one.
As the story unfolds, the reader is drawn into a strange, ultimately horrific, tale. As the old man finishes his work, the story ends with the opening line above.

As Rod says, each story shows, "the way people think in different situations. Some I don’t understand but I recognize them." That is the point of many of the short fiction that I write: get inside the protagonist's head, even if you don't understand what's in there. We often wonder what other people are thinking or what it would be like to be the proverbial fly on the wall. All too often, though, what we'd find would either scare us or confuse us.

Don't get me wrong, these are not horror stories (er, well, not all of them). But, I have found the line between laughter and fear is not always clearly defined.

Want to read the book? Click on "All This Digging" in the right column.

Thanks for stopping by!

*What does the bear picture have to do with anything!? Read the book to find out!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Work in Progress: Game-inspired novel #writing #novel #ootp

Hey, everyone! Thanks for stopping by to see what I've been up to. Right now, I am working on a novel inspired by the baseball simulation called OOTP (Out of the Park). The story centers on two brothers from Chicago: John and Carter "Dingus" Bailey.

I let the game create everything in a fictional midwestern league: team names, player names, birthdates, cities of birth, etc. Then, I went through all the players and found all those with the same last name. After that, I looked to see if any of those had been born in the same city. Sure enough, the Bailey brothers were discovered.

Carter was born on April 26, 1980. John  was born on September 06, 1990. At the start of the novel, Carter wears #14 and plays left field for the Oklahoma City Mad Ants. John wears #5 and plays Shortstop for the Omaha Pumas. We'll see where their careers, and their age differences, take them over the course of their ball-playing time.

The cool thing about the game is that you not only get stats, but you get fun News Items, such as injury reports that tell you how the player got injured (say, accidentally shoots himself in the foot - an actual in-game event, though it was not a Bailey boy who did it) and how long the player is expected to be out. The game also picks Players of the Week and hands out various other awards.

I chose to create an 8-team league because I wanted that small town feel. I'm sure there will be superstars on some teams and drama on others. Some of those players and events will have an impact on one Bailey brother or the other - or sometimes both, I'm sure.

I've never tried to write a novel this way before, so we'll see how it all pans out. Wish the boys luck!