Category Archives: Writing

New Year, New You, Just Don’t Tell Everybody About It

So the newest* social** media platform, Social! has launched a new helpful conversion tool for 2017 to help you, yes, you.

One thing I’m trying to do in 2017 is drop off social media for a bit more, and Social! kind of fits my needs, in that it’s not terribly social at all. So what I’ve done, and the gang at Social! have created a handy guide for this process, is that I’ve taken my Facebook and Twitter accounts and replaced them with the super cool Social! replacements.

For example, for Twitter, I visited http://supertart.com/social/tw/index.html on my phone. I then hit the little sharing icon, like so:

 

I then clicked on the Add to Home Screen button, here:

At this point, I picked a name that would fool me into clicking this app instead of the real deal:

 

And that was it. Now, I’m a chicken, so I chucked Twitter and Facebook somewhere in the nether regions of my iPhone screens, so they’re still there, but just that bit more out of reach, which encourages me to get off my phone and onto writing (or at the very least onto writing in Scrivener on my phone or doing some editing of the latest manuscript in PDF Expert). So that’s 2017 for me… me, the dregs of Trip to the Quiet Room and a little manual about nose picking.

 

Check out the how to for Facebook or Twitter and hopefully that’ll help you get off your own personal echo chambers into an even more personal echo chamber.

 

 

 

* Warning: May not actually be the newest.
** Warning: May not be terribly social

I Haven’t Died Yet

I am still alive, and still kicking the old agent hunt down the road.

Hits for the opposition

Hits for the opposition

The scoreboard isn’t looking particularly good at the moment (who knew an empty, soul-sucking void could hit like that?), but, at the very least, I’m still at bat, still working on the next thing(s), so who knows?

 

I also don’t have anyone else in the batting order with me, so this baseball analogy, never minding the fact that there are three competitors in the game and I don’t seem to ever get any more balls or strikes pitched to me, is a little stretched, at this stage. So, so tempted to dig out the old Sane Magazine t-shirts (which you can still buy, by the way) and fire up the internet hamsters at SaneMagazine.com for old times’ sake.

 

Update: Score one for the agents!

15...

15…

One of my Favorite Things: Small Can Be Big

One of my favorite things is the website SmallCanBeBig.org, which raises small chunks of money for families in need. Their big idea is that you don’t need to give a lot to help someone out.

SmallCanBeBig.org

Quite a while ago I was able to help them edit/write some stories for the folks who needed some sort of help or another (you can, too, by the way) and they occasionally put out a call for writers to help them tidy up the descriptions of a family’s situation, as handed in by a case worker. Some of the stories are just heart-breaking, and it could so easily be your feet those metaphorical shoes are on — it makes me thankful for what I have.

I just cleaned up a case for them for the R. family, who have a son undergoing treatment for leukemia and are trying their damnedest to keep things together for him and his siblings. Go check out Small Can Be Big, help out the R. family, if you like, if you have a couple bucks to spare, maybe skip a coffee or two, or maybe consider joining they cast of writers, ready to help get a family’s story across.

Update: The R. family got their rent! But there are still plenty of families worth giving a few bucks to, if you’re into that sort of thing.

My Constant Little Unheeded Reminder

Some of you know me from a little magazine I used to write and publish every Sunday (and then later every Monday).

Sane Magazine Write and Publish

Still bugging me after all these years

Well, you’ll be happy to know that, though I’ve given it up (never to return?), that I still get bugged every single Monday at a little after midday to write and publish that dear old friend.

 

 

Of course, the pairing of writing and publishing in one task may give you an idea, if you’ve never read it, of the sometimes uneven quality of the writing and stories.

Sane Magazine’s archives now live at http://www.sanemagazine.net (a highlight reel is available in my short fiction resumé so you don’t wade through too much muck), and who knows what will ever show up again at SaneMagazine.com?

Lockjaw Magazine: Choose Your Own Adventure

So I wrote something for the folks at Lockjaw to include in their in-progress Choose Your Own Adventure story.Birdcage

It’s short, sweet (ish?), and will bring back fond memories of reading through countless possibilities and keeping one, two, three, four fingers stuck in pages where you mean to go back and fix the mess you wound up in.

Start at the beginning, see if you can find it… otherwise, for the lazy amongst you, feel free to jump to the bottom of this post to get the direct link of an out-of-context piece of the story that likely will make very little sense at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As promised, the direct link to my particular piece of the puzzle.

Ah ha! Fooled you… or, some of the other contributors did, as they didn’t turn in their pieces on time… so the story will be published tomorrow. In the meantime, read the story, see where you think I may have wound up.

 

UPDATE: At long last, the link! Or at least a link to something to help you decide whether or not you’ll actually click on it.

 

 

Dennis Lehane on his Newest Book and Missing Boston

Dennis did a spot for WGBH a little while ago in which he talks a little about his latest book, his connection to Boston, even though he’s now living on the west coast. It’s a short but sweet interview but obviously the part that resonated with me was this:

I think you write better when you are homesick. [… T]he next book is set in Boston. I’m writing it from California. I’m thinking about Boston all the time.

There’s a long history of the exiled writer, whether self- or Hollywood-imposed, and I wholeheartedly agree, I think (and others may not agree) that my best writing comes when I’m writing about home. For example, Butterfly (which may be retitled William Murphy’s Trop to the Quiet Room, for sake of trying to hook an agent’s interest) is set in Worcester, Massachusetts, the town in which I was born; a little bit in that venerable tourist attraction, Old Sturbridge Village, just down the street from where I grew up; and Cape Cod, a favorite vacation spot from my youth (and still). For each of the interminable drafts I sat in my grandparent’s floor in a three decker on Hillside Street, wandered the muddy spring paths of Old Sturbridge Village, probably with a stick of rock candy in my hand, or sat with my back against the dunes down on Nauset Light Beach. Which is to say I use that feeling of homesickness to try and make the scenes that little bit more vivid, much like Dennis Lehane does and Joyce did with Ulysses (with far greater commercial and just plain old regular success).

 

Dennis Lehane is appearing at Listowel Writers’ Week, which has an amazing lineup this year. If you’re in the area at the end of May you really shouldn’t miss it. Tell Anne Enright I sent you.

A little taste of home

“Why We Fight” in The Players’ Tribune

Brandon Prust, an enforcer for the Habs (boooo), has written an article for The Players’ Tribune with his take on how fighting still fits into the game.

As you may know by now, Butterfly, a novel, my novel about an ex-enforcer trying (and failing) to live out his days peacefully, touches on a lot of the same emotions and reasoning that Prust goes through in his article.

Once the gloves fall off, everything else kind of fades away. You can’t hear the fans. You can’t hear the ref. It’s just silence. That’s the easy part. The tough part is the day leading up to the game when you know you’re going up against a tough guy. You can’t help but think about it all day, and you go through a roller coaster of emotions.

 

So many of them, from Brandon, with this article, to Shawn Thornton, to George Parros, so many of them are so eloquent and articulate about the task of fighting for a living, they approach their job with such discipline and forethought, that I think they’re fascinating characters to follow for a book-length journey. Here’s hoping an agent thinks the same.

I’ve been delinquent in updating lately because there’s not much to update. Per my author scoreboard, I’ve got a bloop single in the form of a request for a full manuscript from one agent, a few rejections, and a handful of un-responses, which are possibly worse than rejections, once they remain non-responses after eight weeks or so.

In the meantime I’m at work on the next novel, tentatively titled “Ozymandias,” but it’s all still notebooks and 5 a.m. wakeup calls on that front, which is hardly thrilling stuff.

So sit tight, have a cup of tea or two, and I’m sure I’ll have something good for you soon. After all, I still have to write up my meeting with David Mitchell, my visit from the Dalai Lama, a scuba diving excursion to Des Moines, and playing ping pong with Ghengis Khan’s great-great-great-great grand daughter’s best friend Timmy.

The Disruptions of (Not Necessarily Time) Travel

I’m very much a creature of habit, which it comes to writing. I get up around 5, 5:15, when it’s still dark out. At the moment, I’m working on something new, so I’ll pull out the notebook and write for a few hours until the kids get up.Early mornings

Or I *would*, but the little monsters are up already, greeting me at the door of my office (the kitchen counter) with wide smiles this morning, ready for breakfast and a lot of chat. You see, we’ve just gotten back from Ireland, which is approximately the other side of the planet, which means it’s prime time for playing at 5am.

POTATO WAFFLES, man's greatest invention!

POTATO WAFFLES, man’s greatest invention!

Before we start, I’m just going to state the following: I am not complaining. I’m very lucky to have two monsters who still, at the time of this writing, like me and enjoy spending time with me. I’m so lucky to get to go visit a set of in-laws who treat me like royalty in another country altogether, and I love going to Ireland, spending time in a non-desert climate and in a culture where they’re actually laid back. Also, potato waffles.

But (ahhh, there it is), when it comes to my writing schedule, it doesn’t make the trip quite intact. I suspect it’s lost in the luggage hold, held in some Aer Lingus manager’s office for the first few days, perhaps in quarantine. Or maybe it’s so lost it makes the trip across the Atlantic a few times, availing itself of the booze from the first class cabin, until it finally stumbles onto the tarmac at Shannon, blinking in the light of a grey day, clothes disheveled and face just that bit more stubbly.

I’ll eventually cram some writing time in by force, into some rare nooks. And I also have 9 hours of sitting on my backside on the flight over and back, which is one of the prime ingredients in a successful writing habit. It’s not *quite* the ideal environment, but we’ve got a couple of ideal traveling companions who’ve made the trip so many times it’s old hat to them by now, so I’ll usually get a disjointed hour, at least. So long as the siren call of Aer Lingus’s in-flight entertainment doesn’t call.IMG_9241

Looking down at the Ennis Bookshop

Looking down at the Ennis Bookshop

But coming back is the hardest part, in so many respects. It’s tough to be away from Ireland, anyway, where they’re talking books on Today FM and Clare FM as a matter of course, like it’s the most natural thing in the world. There’s no great green expanse of a field I can stand in, and, occasionally, pretend to be David Mitchell (I don’t do this often, I swear — I do imagine he spends most of his days overlooking the Atlantic, down in Cork, striking various authorly poses in the mist and gentle rain). There are many moments of regret when we consider that an artist’s income isn’t taxed (to a degree) in Ireland, though the tax on the $0.08 in royalties from the Fenway Fiction series is not exactly breaking our bank, at the moment.

And when we’re back and I creep back into my routine that first morning back, more easily, thanks to the 8 hour time difference and the fact that my body thinks 5am is actually 1pm, when I tiptoe down to the usual spot I find, as I’ve already mentioned, a couple of cherubs grinning at me, waiting to be fed. Like a native tribesman who one day comes upon a few men with chainsaws and other implements of clear-cutting, tearing down the forest, tree by tree.

The David Mitchell Field

The David Mitchell Field

So it’s usually a few mornings before the natural rhythm of sunlight and the Earth’s rotation lulls the kids back into their normal pattern, but let me tell you, it’s so unsettling when my normal routine is taken away, replaced by, this morning, anyway, a bevy of lights, the latest Texas album (The Conversation, which isn’t bad at all) blaring, and generally feeling like I’m trying to write in a  nightclub.

 

 

 

SIDE NOTE: NOT PAID FOR BY THE COUNTY CLARE TOURISM BOARD, BUT I WOULDN’T TURN THEIR MONEY AWAY

If you are looking for a destination, you could do a lot worse than the west coast of Ireland. County Clare is one of the most beautiful places on the planet Earth, and it gives you easy access to Counties Kerry and Cork, which are most likely number 2 and 3 on the list of beautiful places. Fly into Shannon or into Dublin and take the really nice new-ish N7 across the country for 2 hours or so and dig yourself in somewhere near Corofin or Lahinch and soak it all in.