Sunday, April 1, 2012

The King is Dead!

And right and left, left and right,

upon two ragged and separating shoes,

the news is carried through the dying light.

The king is dead! The king is dead!

The word is muttered. It is said.

The word is heard but, like a ball

thrown into the wallless void beyond,

there is no customary response and call

proclaiming the sovereignty of the son.

With the click and the kick of Anarchy's gun

the lid slams shut upon the eye

and sends the regal orb a'rolling

down the pyramid's widening walls.

As in a pinball slot, or a ball gone bowling,

it wends its way upon a splitting fissure until finally it


into the void

scattering pins and people in the sunken sun.

And I ponder now the point of a pyramid

who's very reason for being is pointless.

A multitude of headless chickens react and race,

like contracting atoms,

about the yard to cluck and call.

"The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

No, not really.

But the universe, it is true,

at least as far as I can tell,

is shrinking,

and no longer extends beyond the finite boundaries

of a mess of mortal organs

wrapped in human skin.

The king is dead and we are


like atoms,

by a trickster god.

You and I become me and you.

And hark!

Who goes there in the night?

One is black and one is white...

but only in the other's eyes.

And who is wrong and who is right?

Who can judge now that our ruler's lost

and Juliet would be a son

and not a daughter?

We've tossed the truth out with the water

and got each other's reasons crossed,

like the hairy legs of a woman

trapped inside the body of a man.

The king is dead!

The word filters through our window

from the senseless central boulevard.

The word is spoken.

It is barked and bleated 'round our table

as our father's words are now taken as a token

to spend on candy and cheap diversions

before each and every frustrated one of us

separates for bed.

Dissenting thoughts now fill the heads of man and wife.

We chant our mantras beneath closed coffin lids

before each of us, coming to his and her own conclusion,

rolls away from the empty center of the marriage bed,

and satisfied,

we turn out the light.

And continue rolling,

and continue rolling,

and roll away into the expanding night...

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Lost in the woods

OK, I'm moving forward step by step with this Indie publishing adventure I have set off on. But, sometimes I feel like I'm lost in the woods. I am getting more and more familiar with Kindleboards and have visited many other book blogs and am learning that blogging is an important part of getting noticed. So, with that being said I'm going to start blogging in earnest.

It took me 20 years to write The Vagabond King. In part it was because I needed to do so much research. In part it was because I had no idea what I was doing. In part because I never seemed to have enough time. But, 20 years of dedication and 25 drafts later I finished The Vagabond King about 5 years ago. But, because the book was finally finished I had lost my goal in life and, consequentyly, my direction. They have a saying in Buddhism that if you meet the Buddha in the road you must slay him because the point of the journey is to ever be striving toward the goal not necessarily to achieve it.

So now what was I to do? I don't do well without a goal in my sights. I felt like I had lost my way in the woods and have been wandering around in my own life for the past 5 years.

Now I'm back on track but I still feel overwhelmed. Victorine Leiske recommended posting on Kindleboads 18 times a day, then there's the blog I need to tend to, then there is critiquing the works of other writers on Critique Circle, then there is my job that keeps getting in my way and I haven't even started writing my next book yet. Frustrating. But, I'm moving forward anyway.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Latest update

Hi all,

It seems some new friends have joined since I last posted. Thank you and welcome. Well, I started A Work In Progress a while ago in order to serve as a marketing platform for my debut novel The Vagabond King. This blog is proving to live up to it's name. I obviously don't know what I'm doing, but have been thinking about it. One of the reasons that I started this blog was to help inspire begining writers to show them that they can reach the next point which is publication and sales.

Well, here's an update in my sales efforts with The Vagabond King. I published on Kindle on 11/11/11 and, to date, have about 11 sales and 3 reviews.

I've received 2 5 star reviews and 1 3 star review. The 5 star reviews had some glowing things to say for which I'm grateful. The 3 star reviewer seemed to like the book except for the main character. She said he was "whiney, self involved and very shallow until spending some quality time and learning life lessons from the Vagabond King." I appreciate that comment, at least I made the main character real enought to be disliked : ) And, since it's a coming of age story, the main character has to come from somewhere.

I am continuing to rack up interviews and review committments and, over the next few months, should have much more to report.

My goal is to start earning enough from sales of the novel to dedicate myself full time to writing. This is one of the reasons I have been so sporadic at these blog posts. I just don't have the time. However, once I do, it is my intention to start posting my trials and tribulations as I begin, in earnest, to write my second novel, The Mythological History of Chicago. I hope that my readers might find  it educational to see the writing process of someone else from the inside out.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Here's a sample on how I piece together a scene

It's part notes, part description p,art dialogue, part random thoughts and all mess. This is where writing, writing and rewriting come in.


With each progression say they are going deeper and deeper into the underworld

Sandburg talks to people who tell him various anecdotes about the city

-          foul mouthed kid tells him how he lost money on cubs on the world series. “”Are you a cubs fan?” “No way. Sox.” “Then why did you bet on the Cubs because they should have won.”

-          He meets woman who was at the indian pow wow in 1835 and hears here description of it.

-          He meets professor who tells him about theory of relativity and how it effects time.

-          He meets jim o’leary and Louie Cohn who tell him they were playing cards and started the fire.

-          He meets other people who talk about alternative ways the fire started

Perhaps the kid is selling a competing paper which has a picture of Mrs. O’Leary because it is anniversary. Jim O’Leary says that ain’t my Ma.

Woman in streeterville send them to O’Leary’s

They met at statue shortly after dawn

“all I need is one lucky break…this is my lucky break”

While he’s waiting at statue tell how he discovered to look for a woman named BR. It was from a bricklayer at the new ball park (it wasn’t built until 1914)…edgar lee masters told him to look for sally simpson and the Sandburg handed this info to his contact (hunza) who knew everybody in chicago.

Waiting for his guide at lasalle statue he has discovered that Marshall Field was behind Haymarket bomb.

He has to get this info by sunset. This is his deadline….this is everyones deadline, everyone isconcerned with getting things done by sunset

He followed his journalist’s intuition against his better judgement

Portray sandburg as a country boy who hates the industrialized world, What lassale’s vision has become and only after being shown through the underworld does he appreciate the humanity of it.

Portray Sandburg as a Country boy who is in awe of big city

Hunza is his guide through the underworld. Hunza knows everybody

Hunza is a paid source of info that sandburg has used before

Hunza takes him to streeterville…Big Jim O’Leary’s, Caughlin & kenna’s, Everleigh club???

Hunza keeps humming Row, row, row your boat

THE WORDS OF THE POTOWATTAMI HOBO MUST LINGER W/ SANDBURG THROUGHOUT THE BOOK…perhaps he talks about nanabozho as a hunter of weendigos and this starts a theme throughout the book of viewing the world we created as a weendigo

Portray what breaking this story would mean to him

Perhaps he recalls last indian war dance / curse

He has got to get diary and write story by sunset tonight or else he loses his job.

He is struggling to define chicago in poetry.

He has talked to a number of people and discovered that he is looking for a woman named BR who has her father’s diary. He got this info at Big Jim O’Leary’s.

His guide arrives and takes him to where BR’s cousin is

Sandburg is killed???

O'Leary soon opened another betting parlor on South Halstead Street which he designed to include Turkish baths, a restaurant, billiard room, and a bowling alley, as well as the detailed race track results and other betting information to become one of the countries most prominent resorts by the 1890s.

The room was filled with north side nabobs and Dapper Dans from out of town, nobodies from nowhere who were rally suckers and marks to be fleeced and released by the faro Tigers and the Card Sharps.

Roogues and roustabouts wityh a devil may care attitude “Let the chips fall where they may.”

The gambling hall was filled with well heeled sports and suckers.

Braggarts, schiesters, scam artists, black sheep, muckety mucks and the occassional discount derelict sitting in front of a whiskey glass.

Men whose only hope in life was the eternal dream of getting something for nothing.

The place was a double-crossers paradise where the two faced gods of chance plucked the fattest suckers like grapes from the vine.

O’Leary was a tough man who always fended for himself. He was proud of the fact that he never paid a dime to the police for protection. “”QUOTE” H put his money where his mouth was and Sandburg now stood in front of an enormous iron bound Oak door. With steel plates on the outer walls and inner walls of heavy Oak covered with zinc plates, O’Leary bragged that his resort was fire proof and police proof and by the time Sandburg was standing in front of the dorr it had resisted several attempts by rival “businessmen” to blow it up or burn it down.

Inner walls were lined with red pepper so that anyone trying to break through to secret rooms behind them were blinded.

But, the goon standing between Sandburg and the door was the first obstacle to overcome.

“What’s the passowrd?”

Sandburg held his breath and hoped the phrase given him by xxx was correct.


the bouncer said nothing but looked him steady in the eye. He walked around him looking him over suspiciously and then patted him down for weapons before he rapped a secret code on the door and it opened.

The place was filled with scoundrels and rapscallions of every stripe…

The room was filled with big cigars and brass spitoons…

Somewhere between dry land and water, sitting on the silting sandbars of Lake Michigan, Streeterrville was a netherland of clapboard shacks and unpainted pine shanties. It was a half submerged haven for pickpockets and pox ridden prostitutes, flunkeys, junkies, grifters, drifters and derelicts of all kinds.

From the shadows steps a figure to follow them…

There they found a mournful woman named Morna.

It was a one room shanty with a loft. The woman sat nursing a baby and a black eye at the table besides a small pot bellied stove.

“Sure, Roisin is a dear soul,” she said between tubercular coughs. “It would be destitute I’d be if it weren’t for her and the money she provides”…SHE GOES ON ABOUT WHAT A SAINT SHE IS…”I light a candle for her every Sunday.”

She does all her shopping at Marshall Fields and she buys me such nice things there. Things she doesn’t have to go out of her way to get but she tells me “xxx”. She says that, she does.

You can often find her at the Symphony or the Art Institute. “Culture is not something you can apply like ketchup on a hotdog. yOu must absorb it from the roots of your being.”

Sandburg thought that this Black Roisin must be an amazing woman and looked forward to seeing her with his own eyes. She siezed upon his immagination and would not let go. How could a woman such as this have been, just a few years ago, a whore in a brothel?

“You remember hearing how Prince Henry of Austria was so enamored with one of the women at the Everleigh Club that he drank champagne from her shoe?” Sandburg recalled Masters saying. “That was Black Roisin.”

In his mind Black Roisin the image of Black Roisin slowly gathered with his image of Chicago until they became one and the same. Black Roisin was Chicago and Chicago was Black Roisin.

“She would perform the most depraved acts a man could wish for” Masters said. But this didn’t correspond to the picture of the woman Morna painted: devout, nurturing and, indeed, married. This woman had been married for the past ten years, Sandburg thought, and to a well connected gentleman. How could she possibly have worked at the Everleigh club only a few years ago? It was a mystery. She was a mystery. Black Roisin or The Dark Rosaleen or whatever her real name was.

How was a woman of such quality related to a woman the likes of which sat before him, Sandburg wondered.

How did Black Roisin, who had apperantly come from such a humble, if not criminal, background rise to a position of such quality, sandburg wondered, especially whennone of her family did the same. She must be a woman of considerable talent and ability, he thought.

Sandburg wondered about this woman and longed to ask her all the unformulated questions in his head.


“Are you her sister?” Sandburg asked.

The best way to market another book is to write another book

OK, well I'm back on track and figuring out this whole indi publishing thing. I've been posting on kindleboards and asking people how they market their books. The one that made the most sense is to write another book so that there are multiple points of contact for readers to find you.

Easier said than done. I once handed a would be novelist a stack of post-it notes and said "I know it doesn't look like much but it's the beginning of your first novel". I wasn't joking. For me, writing a novel is like sifting through silt or trying to piece together a story from the detritus of my mind. For example, here are some samples of my notes for my next book "The Mythological History of Chicago". Just a random sampling of dialogue bits, thoughts on platting etc.

Either in this story or another called the dream traveler the witch should explain that there are laws by which the universe works gradually she explains them revealing the law of attraction etc and by the end revealing that this god that everyone is searching for is looking back at them from the mirror. And we have created our own heaven or hell…it will both be a happy, comic and horrific ending at the same time depending on who is reading it.

“trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents.”

The Chicago fire takes place during Indian Summer just as does the world series.

Swamp Lily is the nickname of a prostitute in the Levee from Louisiana named Addie Beckly


One day chicken, the next day feathers


You know when she's lying, because her lips move.

I can be lovely person. I just have chosen not to share that with you.

Please deprive me of your company.

Anything happens to her, I have a .45 and a shovel. I doubt anybody would miss you.

Get out of the way or I shall tread on you.

Why do you get up in the morning?

“Never insult an alligator until you’ve crossed the river.”

“My friend, you have more balls than a farm full of bulls.”
Interesting stuff, I'm sure, but how do you make a novel out of it?

Basically, it's a noir novel and the idea of the book is that Carl Sandburg is writing a news story on who actually caused the Chicago Fire while he is trying to compose his masterpiece "Chicago".At the same time the Cubs and the Sox are playing the last game of the world series at Wrigley Field. This is at the same time that Rene LaSalle (the great French Voyaguer) is trying to tame the New World and slowly going mad. At the end of the book I intend for three different timelines to converge in the one eternal moment of NOW.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back on track

Hi all,

I see some new faces have joined the party. Sorry I have not been that active. I have been building a website to serve as a marketing platform for my newly published book The Vagabond King. The website is intended to be a step by step guide for people who want to write a novel but don't know where to start. I am currently looking for people who might like to participate in order to market their own books. You could write an article and include a brief bio and link to your book etc. Let me know if anyone is interested. Below is a link to my book. Talk to you soon.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Building mystery with a muted theme

Writers often wonder how they can build mystery into a character. I know I used to. I used to wonder how to portray lots of things. The best way to learn how to portray something is to think about what it is that you want to portray and then break it down into it's elements and then portray those elements.

So, if we want to portray a character as mysterious we need to think about what the key elements of mystery are. Well, one of them is the fact a mystery is a question that we just can't find an answer for. There are suggestions as to the answer and multiple people might have different interpretations as to the answer which, of course, just adds to the mystery even more.

Well, one of the best ways to pose a question that has no answer is to use a muted theme. For example, if a character does something odd once and once only it poses a question but will be forgotten soon after. However, if a character does something odd on an on going basis there must be a reason for this odd behavior. What could it be? We are intrigued and want to know why they are doing this. It must serve some purpose.

I believe I first learned about this technique in an academic study of The Bible entitled The Book of God. If I remember correctly, in this book the author investigates the odd habit Sampson has of cutting the ears off of prey he has killed. What significance does this have? Why does he do it? What does it mean? It must have some greater significance because it is in The Bible. Nope. The author concludes that it is simply the use of a muted theme to increase the mystery of the Sampson character. We will never know why he does it and that is the point...and the desired effect on the reader.