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.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

When Someone’s Got Your Number….

I was very happy to sell a quickly written 851-word tongue-in-cheek mystery, submitted to Big Pulp exclusively and for the first time. “Misunderstood Identity” will be online in March 2011.

The thesis is simple: Life is a mystery, but that doesn’t mean a guy has to put up with someone stealing his identity. Imagine a case of identity fraud, not theft. When a complete stranger is wooing women and leaving them languishing in hotel bedrooms across the country. Then they start calling you and leaving you love letters and lipsticking your car. What’s a poor mystery writer to do? Well, I’ll leave that until you read it in a few months.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

‘Paying the Devil’ a Prize-Winner

I was extremely happy to learn that a 4,400-word short story I wrote, “Paying the Devil” was awarded 6th place in the Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. The story had been out so long that I thought it had been forgotten.

To the economics of the thing, after paying federal and state taxes and deducting the submission fee, I will have broken even when I get the prize money.

I thanked Editor Jessica Strawser because the story was personally meaningful to me and not simply an intellectual exercise. Ficton is rarely “intellectual” or simply an “exercise.” “Paying the Devil” let me get a lot of thoughts off my chest. In particular, this exchange:

Alison called again at exactly nine o’clock in the morning—ten a.m. in Montclair. She was observing the proprieties of never calling before nine. “Well, have you talked?” she demanded.

“Good Lord, I’m making my first cup of coffee. Your daughter isn’t even awake yet.” I grabbed a cigarette, lit it and snapped the Zippo shut.

“Dad, please do not tell me you are smoking in the house, polluting my daughter with second-hand smoke. Do you have any sense of what you’re doing to people’s lives with your drinking and smoking?”

“And my liberal politics? Alison, you are a maternalistic altruist. You’ve been one all your life. Just get off your high horse.” I’d been waiting three years to tell her this.

“Materna…? What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“It means,” I said, exhaling loudly, “you care only about some aspect of another person’s behavior—some characteristic that irritates you. Then you frame it as a danger to the world. That everyone should stop smoking, and wear helmets and seat belts, and get annual colonoscopies, and….”

“You are putting my daughter’s health at risk!”

“She’s running away from you, Alison—not me.” I always felt tense and defensive talking with Alison. Fathers shouldn’t be made to feel like ignoramuses by their children. “You’re like the authorities that make laws to help you cross a street safely. Then they won’t let go of your hand when you get to the other side. You don’t allow for a certain amount of risk taking. Well, I’m a risk taker. Get used to it.”

Monday, October 4, 2010

Where Do Those Stories Come From?

There are a number of ways to keep writing when an original thought won’t come. One is to dig into the slush pile of rejects and see what’s salvageable. Another is to throw Serious out the window and invite Humor into your bed. Three is to read the paper and see what craziness is out in the world knocking on your door.

This has worked for me in the past week. First, I was overjoyed to be notified Pif magazine would publish “Play Date” in its October issue. I had worked long and hard on this 6,000-word, serious examination of loneliness and terrorism and a few other themes. Read it at I hope you enjoy it because it vindicates me as a serious writer.

I also tripped over a piece I’d written some months ago about archeologists discovering the world’s oldest shoe. (Thank you, New York Times for this gem.) This subject could only be handled humorously, and it was, becoming “The World’s Oldest Shrew—er, Shoe” A little rewrite and off it went to The Short Humour Site in the U.K. ( As I mentioned on Facebook, I wonder what the sketch would have looked like if it had been the world’s oldest underpants.

Finally, the exercise in writing college admissions essays came to fruition when I took a subject my granddaughter was given by Temple University. But that’s not worth quoting, or linking to, or explaining. While funny, it could tip my darling grandchild the wrong way—getting her rejected before she gets her foot in the door of a university. Don't read the last post, below. And pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.