Cruising the Green of Second Avenue

Wild Child Publishing has issued the second volume of short stories in Cruising the Green of Second Avenue. The tales take up where Vol. I left off — bringing back Klein the Biker, Straight Charlie and Sammy the Madman while introducing new characters stumbling over life’s difficulties in the late 60s. Vol. II is an e-book published by Wild Child Publishing that you can download, save as a pdf (Adobe) file and print. Read both volumes and see that life isn't all that serious. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other online book sellers.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year Greetings

It’s been a helluva year, or as Mickey Spillane might put it—“as tough as a Times Square babe with one hand on your wallet and the other hailing a taxi.” But we can hope that the New Year—and the new decade—will be better.

I hope that marketers will stop naming products and companies with exclamation points (Yahoo!), lower case aberrations (eBay), or changing theose names for no good reason (Wal-Mart to Walmart).

…That new words will continue to be coined, like 2009’s locavore, (buying locally grown food), Obamamaniac (self-explanatory), fang-banging (sex with a vampire), and shovel-ready (infrastructure projects ready to spend stimulus money). My favorite: googlegänger, for the person always looking up his/her name. And who knew the distorted letters I puzzle through to respond to a blog is called a captcha? (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart). But I still don’t know what you mean when “you get the jones for a pizza.”

…That writers will kill needless adjectives and adverbs that allow them to be lazy. (And that young wannabes will learn what adjectives and adverbs are!)

…That young people and the intellectually challenged will stop signing off with lol and consign smiley faces to the archeological midden heap of bad communication. I’m tempted to exclaim, “WTF!” and hit the delete. button.

…That reporters everywhere will learn to spell minuscule, that media is plural and that the Smithsonian is an Institution.

…That elected officials not proclaim ordnances (subject to a statue of limitations), and that Congressional reconciliation does not mean head banging. Are they aware that election results is an anagram for lies—let’s recount.

And to all, a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year and New Decade!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tackling the Trash

I told editor Gay Degani this was what I was writing the day before Christmas instead of wrapping presents. She seemed to agree that writing trumps everything else, so I’ll give you an advance peek at what’s coming up on Flash Fiction Chronicles ( ).

My groaning file cabinet is filed a score of published pieces along with a hundred rejected or unsubmitted orphans that just don’t work. Either I killed the idea or editors responded, “We wish you luck in placing this with another publisher.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an archive for failed efforts, like Jasper Fforde’s brilliant Well of Lost Plots where all unpublished writing resides? My flash story “Alien Nation” (read “Alienation”) about a werewolf vegetarian would sit next to Fforde’s “unread and unreadable Caversham Heights, a clichĂ©-ridden pulp mystery.” My three novels—begun but never completed—would collect dust until some literary archeologist cried “Eureka!” And “Gaslighting,” where I poured my heart into a tale of spousal abuse ending with a Halloween murder, would lie comatose.

Or—and this is the germ of an idea—could my orphan stories be posted where struggling writers might find they serve as the perfect prompt needed to re-energize their spirits? I would get a credit line, much like F. Scott Fitzgerald did when he failed to turn in a satisfactory script for Tender Is the Night. And the new author, bound for the Elysian heights of publishing, would add insights into the successes and failures of humanity.

Let me think about it before taking out the trash.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I’m Talking SHORT Here

I was taken aback when I learned three of the top five best-selling novels in Japan were keitai shousetsu—novels downloaded to cell phones with chapters of just 70 to 100 words. The days of 5,000-word stories in Collier’s are only dimly remembered. Playboy is known for its fiction (who looks at the photos?), but that magazine is rarely displayed outside of Borders or Barnes & Noble.

The short writing we see today is defined by my e-mail pal Brian Huggett. His Short Humour Site ( offers 500-or-fewer-words stories to meet today’s rush-hour needs “between stations on the metro, during lovemaking, during lovemaking between stations on the metro, during free-fall skydiving.” Truly, this is reading on the run. (Disclosure: Brian has carried half a dozen of my pieces.)

How short can you go? Flash (fewer than 1,000 words), drabble (exactly 100 words, nano (300 to 500 words, depending), dribble (50 words), the 55er (yes, just 55 words), one-sentence stories and six worders. Yes, there are online sites, contests and paying publications that champion this kind of brevity. For a deeper look into a lesser form of writing, see my comments at Flash Fiction Chronicles ( by scrolling down to Nov. 30.

Can you write “flash”? It’s tough. It was Blaise Pascal who famously stated, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” There. Glad I got that off my chest.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Excuse Me, Your Fist Is in My Nose

Perhaps I overdosed on Anderson Cooper’s frenetic chatter or four extremist heads arguing political nonsense or Sarah Palin and Levi the tattooed opportunist jawing at each other. Anyway, I came up with the feeling that the greatest problem we face (apart from Peace in Our Time) is a lack of civility. Courtesy. Politesse. Good manners. How could I have overlooked this bit of dialogue I wrote several years ago that encapsulates my argument?

[The school teacher tells her lover,] “You know what I believe? Anti-social behavior is the biggest, most major problem now. Before 9/11, but more now. Anyone who doesn’t think so just ain’t serious.”

“What’s the solution?” he asked, admiring this reflective side of her. “Do what your brother [the police officer] does?”

“No, of course not.” She propped herself on an elbow and tapped his chest with the pack of cigarettes. “Love ’em. I love people, but just the ones who deserve it. I can love them even though I don’t like them. Certain people…well, I also make love so they know that I care.” Her tongue rotated lasciviously around her lips.

He felt a laugh gurgle up. “You can’t make love to the whole world! It’d take forever.”

“Well, for evil people, there’s another answer.” Her large eyes twinkled. “Throw all the guns in the ocean. Barring that, castrate all the sociopaths. Gotta be an answer there somewhere.”

This is an extreme dichotomy--and I’ll overlook the sexual intimations--but it's all there.