Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What's the Biggest Disaster You can Imagine?

Off the top of my head, I'd say the earth running out of water would have to be the biggest. We as a species would be done unless something drastic happened. However, that is only one. There are so many possibilities.

Crime thrillers are my favorite kind of read. The suspense and nail-biting page turners reel me in and keep me in a another world that I escape into. While I'm there, I experience terror and chills and thrills, but the cool thing is I can always bring myself back into the safer real world (sometimes).

I think the key to a great thriller is the disaster that each one looks at. They come in all kinds.

I am recently reading a novel where a billionaire sets in motion events to destroy the current U.S. Economy. Definitely a frightening thought. Without a total economic collapse of one of the wealthiest nations in the world, chaos is bound to ensue. Those who are not fortunate enough to be on the right side of the system will surely be hit hard and may not even survive.

I have read others about total devastation to this country as well as nuclear weapons being set off in the middle east and of course, Cormac McCarthy's The Road paints a very dark picture of the future where nuclear war has killed virtually everything in the United States(the plants won't even grow anymore) except a few fortunate(if you can call them that) survivors.

However these are large scale thrillers with dire stakes for a whole country or the entire world. Can a thriller have a smaller scale?


Stephen Hunter's Pale Horse Coming deals with the town of Thebes where a prison is run by big, brutish racist guards who keep the mostly black prison population in horrible circumstances. Only that town is affected but hey, if the protagonist does not stop them, they will only continue on with their reign of cruelty.

My own novel Jack Little deals with the stakes being high for Will Hodge who will lose his house and everything he has worked for if he does not steal to support his family. While these stakes are only concerning Hodge primarily, if we put ourselves in his shoes, we definitely see where his motivation comes from. The down side to it all is he could lose his family if he keeps up with his cold, distant mindset.

So what's the secret?

We as the readers, have to care.

Plain and simple.

If the world is abut to end in a novel and no one cares, then what's the point? The real substance is in the characters. If the world ends, well, we don't want that. But we really do not want the characters' world to end. We have taken a journey with them and we empathize with them to the point to where if they fail, the world won't just end. We the readers will be crushed.

The stakes in thrillers must be high but high for the characters concerned. From what I have read, the world savers are generally in a line of work that would put them in such a position to save the world. They could be a spy, a counter-terrorism operative or some sort of ex-military man/woman. Either way, it's hard for us to see a mild-mannered newspaper reporter saving the world.

Eh. Bad example, maybe.

In a small scale story, the protagonist does tend to be more normal as in Donald Westlake's The Ax. Burke Devore is no spy. He is merely a former manager for a paper company who has decided to start killing his competition(literally). The funny thing about this type of story is that we find ourselves rooting for this man is clearly committing amoral acts. He nearly convinces us he is completely justified in his actions, citing society as the reason for his type being pushed out into the wilderness with only one viable solution- murder. It is small scale and yet, we are drawn in.

Which ever you prefer, small scale or large, I find it's always fun to picture the craziest large scale disaster you can imagine.

So what about you?

What is the worst thing that can possible happen? What kind of protagonist would be required to stop it? Can you think up a problem so big that you have no idea how it could be solved or if it's even possible? I'd love to hear your thoughts(and no, I'm not going to steal them, although I might make an offer on a good one, wink wink).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Clear View

Recently I was driving my truck along when I came to a turn. Being a responsible driver(sometimes), I turned on my signal which is located on the same bar as my windshield wiper control and whoops.

The wipers came on and whipped their way across a dry windshield. The passenger side blade ripped right off.

Needless to say, I bought new blades a few days later since the local weather man indicated rain in the five day forecast. I replaced the blades and problem solved. When the rain hit, if I happened to be on the road, the new blades would whip the rain from my windshield and I would be able to see just fine.

However, in real life, things are always this simple.

If for instance, you are looking to find a new relationship but cannot get over your ex, you can definitely have a problem seeing clearly. The new people you date might not ever measure up to the standards set by your ex or they might even remind you of the ex too much. And who knows? Maybe they have an ex they are not over either. So the both of you are more or less wasting each others time.

In fiction, this very same thing happens.

A character goes through a series of events that end up blinding their vision to real opportunities and real threats.

I am sure most of us like to think that we could easily see that Ahab was crazy and that Moby Dick was best to be let go of, but Ahab cannot see this. He is blinded by his obsession.

In Dennis Lehane's Mystic River, Jimmy Marcus is blinded by his own rage over the murder of his daughter that he kills Dave Boyle to get revenge only to learn that Dave- a man who he'd known since childhood and once been friends with- is actually innocent.

I my novel Jack Little, Will Hodge is blinded by the idea of stealing every valuable item he can to the point to where we never know the names of his wife or son. While he seems like he was always somewhat closed off, he appears to have his mind in another place all the time.

I suppose these blinders can serve a story and lead characters to make decisions they otherwise would not just as they do in real life. We have all done things that, when we look back on them, were very foolish. And we would never do them again.

Unless we get blinded...

What about you?

Have you ever had pesky blinders on that led you to make a mistake?

Is it time for you to get new wiper blades?

Let me know. I love your comments!


Saturday, August 2, 2014

To be a snob or not?

I have been reading fiction for several years. I have enjoyed many books and short stories in that time with exceptions which just did not grip me. However I have to admit, that I have not always been fair.

I can admit it.

I have been a snob.

If the book was not by a well-known author with excellent reviews and awards behind it, I just felt like it was a waste of time to read it. I was not willing to give anything I had not heard of a chance. Life is short and what is the point.


Through most of my twenties, I even shunned modern books of any kind. Only the classics- those books which were well established and here to stay- could get my attention. I went through every classic I could find, from Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment to George Orwell's 1984 to J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye to Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. They were all excellent and very well-written. However, I must admit, they did not all grip me.

The truth is crime fiction is really my genre. For the longest time, I could not even pinpoint my favorite genre to read, much less write. And I could not even decide on a genre which I wanted to really delve into.

However I did decide and have since read several books in that genre and while most have been around for a while and well-established, many of them have actually been written in this century.

This year, I really went out of my gourde.

I read a few novels available on the Amazon Kindle. One had a meager price and the other was absolutely free.

Can we say turnaround?

Now while I know that some classics even are available on the Kindle for free, I was giving an unknown author a chance. While my instincts a few years ago would have warned me to stay away from such trash, I took a chance.

I am very glad I did.

The books were by authors who are unknown to most, but each one was excellent. They were well-written and very professional. I found myself immersed in each one and thought, other than a big name on the cover page, what was the difference?

There was really none.

If the author had been well-known, I would have read the book and totally thought 'Wow. Another good one. That guy just keeps going.'

Yet, I think that my old attitude comes from an old place. In years past, writers had to go through the major houses to get published. This brought with it a certain prestige especially when the author's books sold well. Wow. What a mountain they climbed. They must b geniuses!

Well, some of them were.

However, with the uprising of self-publishing a lot of things have changed. Now anyone can publish for very little cost. Now does this mean a lot of bad books are out there?


It's much different than the old days with traditional publishing where every published book was spectacular.

Wait a minute.

Actually there were many less than quality novels back then, too. I don't think the e-revolution will hurt much of anything. I think it will only open up more doors for more writers. After all, the editors, agents and publishers miss talent often just like in any other form of entertainment. People are human. They make mistakes.

And I now realize I made a big one. The saying “You can't judge a book by its cover.” has been around for a long time for a reason. The words inside the book are black ink on paper. What the author does with them can only be discovered when we open the book and open our eyes to the fact that lots of great books are put out every year and may not go on to be classics but are nonetheless worth a read.

If you have been a snob as I have, I urge you to open up. You could be missing some truly great stories out there.

What are your thoughts? Are you a snob? Are you open to anything? Any regrets?

 Be sure and check out my novel Jack Little available on the amazon kindle!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Long Enough to Satisfy?

I just finished reading The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain. It has been given much praise and hailed over the years as a roman noir classic. Did I think so?

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/Freedigitalphotos.net
I really enjoyed it. The characters were well developed and the story zipped right along. Also, while at times brutal, it never lost my interest. Now by the same token, would it sell today?

Obviously it sold me since I bought it. However it is hard to say if it would. But let's look at why.

IS the story too slow for the modern reader?
Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/Freedigitalphotos.net

Not at all. Compared to the 1946 film, it moves rapidly. There is suspense throughout the book and I was never sure where things were going.

Is the story too dated?
Image courtesy of Nuttakit/Freedigitalphotos.net

Well it could be. America has changed a bit since 1934 when it was published. The dialogue is a bit dated and well, I doubt all Californians are making a living selling hot dogs to one another. Still, I don't see why any reader could not get what was happening in the story which is all that matters to hook a reader and keep them hooked.

Really there is only one thing about the book that might give me pause about it selling well if it were released today.


The book is only 116 pages!

Yes, betrayal, scandal and murder all in 116 pages. Now while this sounds good in a way since there are no subplots to wade through to get the story, I think in modern day fiction, this is rare and possibly unacceptable.

All the modern day novels I read have one thing in common- they are at least 250 pages and usually more. There ARE subplots and while they are good reads, you have stay with them for a while to finish. I finished The Postman Always Rings Twice in one day, which brings me to my point.

Most readers want a journey.
Image courtesy of Tongdang/Freedigitalphotos.net

A journey in movie terms is an hour and a half to two hours or maybe more. However, a book priced at ten dollars or more better have enough length to ensure the reader cannot devour the thing standing around the book store. I re-read books all the time, but a lot of people don't and see no point to paying for something so short.

And why should they?

Now don't get me wrong. Some of the best works I have read have been shorter ones. Ambrose Bierce always thought novels were just stories with two many pages between the covers and I feel that he is often correct. Some novels are wonderful but have to throw in subplots that do nothing for the main plot in order to have a sufficient length to call the story a novel. And well, it is a business and if we don't sell books, we don't eat.

My own novel Jack Little, is a little over 80, 000 words.

There aren't many subplots and I think the ones in there are essential to the main plot. There is a lot to Will Hodge's story he is not aware of yet. On his journey, you learn that he does not even know himself that well, but hopefully in the end, he sees more than he did.

So how do you feel? Do you think books would be better without a lot of subplots just to match the length? Or do you want at least 100, 000 words before you even consider handing over your hard-earned money for a good yarn?

Monday, July 7, 2014

What does THAT term Mean?

What does THAT mean?!?

Image courtesy of stockimages/Freedigitalphotos.net

I have read hundreds of novels but to this day, I always read certain terms of which I am not sure of the definition- no matter how clean or simple the prose. 
For this reason, I am going to discuss a few terms below you might not be familiar with and well, give you a little insight into their meanings for future reference. 
I hope this knowledge enhances your reading pleasure.
Horn-Rimmed Glasses
Image courtesy of stockimages/Freedigitalphotos.net
Apparently this style of glasses were originally made out of actual horn or tortoise shell. However they have since over the years been constructed of plastic in an attempt to copy those materials. They tend to give the wearer's face a bolder appearance in contrast with metal frames which appear less pronounced.

The style has been popular throughout different periods of the twentieth century, including the early years as well as the 1940s-1960s. They have made a resurgence since the late twentieth century and early part of the twenty-first which may be due in part to the popular TV series Mad Men as well as appealing to hipster subculture.

So the next time you read “horn-rimmed glasses” I guess you can assume the wearer is rather hip perhaps or could be some big corporate executive.

While a fish-eye refers to a particular type of lens that offers a panoramic view for uses in camera lenses, the lens is often used to indicate a peep hole in a door.
Image courtesy of adamr/Freedigitalphotos.net
When I first saw the term used in the peephole context, I had a good idea what it meant, but well, I still felt a need to look it up.

So when a character is said to go to the door to look through the fish-eye, it's a modern word for peep hole. 
Go check your fish-eye. 
You might have company.
In modern times, this term refers to a sideboard in a home or office.

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong/Freedigitalphotos.net
I can't count how many times I have read this term in several crime thrillers when describing some corporate executive or big time attorney's office furniture. It pretty much means a sideboard for their office.
The next time you read about a hot shot with an office on the fortieth floor, a bear skin rug and a credenza, you'll know the author means a sideboard
Now this one can get interesting. From what I have read, the term sometimes refers to a handgun or a gun used to commit a murder.

It can also mean a pot head. I guess the idea is that he has smoked so much he has “burned” himself out.

It can also mean a person engaged in the act of burning property.

However, for the most part I have seen it used to mean one thing- a pre-paid, disposable cell phone.
In the modern world of crime, pay phones just don't cut it anymore. There are few of them and well, they can most likely be tracked when you get down to it. However pre-paid cell phones generally cannot be tracked which is why most criminals use them. You can't always discuss criminal activity the best way- face-to-face.

So the next time a scumbag or a guy who just needs to talk business where no one can listen, he might use a burner and you'll know what that is.
Image courtesy of stockimages/Freedigitalphotos.net
This term refers to a knife or blade but it is typically a home-made version, often made out of plastic.
Not nearly as scary as, well, THIS!

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/Freedigitalphotos.net
These are very common in prisons where regular knives are hard to come by.

So the next time a character has a shiv on their person, you can expect bad intentions and a heated action scene are on the way.

Well, there you go. I hope this clears up a few terms you might come across when taking in crime novels. I have seen all five of these used numerous times and understanding them definitely increases understanding of the story. 
Have a great day and keep reading!


Monday, June 30, 2014

Mystery or Thriller?

Edgar Allan Poe introduced the world to the mystery detective stories with “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, “The Mystery of Marie Roget” and “The Purloined Letter” which all featured his detective C. Auguste Dupin.

Alexandre Dumas gave the world The Count of Monte Cristo which has been considered by many to be the first true thriller book.

Of course, thousands of novels could be considered mystery, thriller or something in between. The question is which would you prefer?

When I was younger, I think for me, mystery was the biggest appeal. Following the detective on his journey through the crime world until finally at the very end, the killer or guilty party is revealed.

Oh the possibilities.

I thought it was that guy!

Man, I had no idea!

I have to read it again to see the set-up. It totally fooled me!

Yes, the mystery novel is truly remarkable. After all, every novel is a mystery until you read it all the way through based on the idea that it must be a mystery since you have no idea what happens.

Now then, there is the thriller. Thrillers all seem to have an element of mystery but unlike mysteries where the criminal or perpetrator of a crime is not revealed until the ending, the the thriller also gives you insight into the criminal world. In this way, we see the detective or hero in action, but we also get to see the juicy details of the plotting and scheming of the criminal as well.

Nowadays in my writing and reading, I must say I like the thriller much better. I don't get as much of a bang as I once did out of seeing who the killer is in the end. It can be interesting and surprising but eh. I don't feel like I know the killer that well really.

However with the thriller, I feel like I know protagonist and antagonist very well and this I very much enjoy. My own book Jack Little, is definitely more of a thriller. Will Hodge loses his business at the hands of a conman but he also finds the conman dead along with all of his merchandise he lost to the man and lots of other merchandise as well. He sells the goods off but starts looking around for other things to steal...at a five fingered discount.

As you can guess, the book is more about the situations Will finds himself getting into when he is stealing the items and of course his own wrestling match with the moral implications of what he's doing. So I believe it is definitely a thriller. And I just have to love this type of suspenseful writing.

A thriller can even put you on the side of the antagonist and hope he pulls off his wrong deed. It's funny and almost kind of sick but it just appeals to human nature. Even if the perpetrator's crime is horrible, we still hope they get through whatever problem they are having because we all hate problems and have to work through them on a daily basis. So in a sense, we have been there even if for different reasons. So a thriller can give us a much better look at both sides and of the story as a whole. Perhaps even the villain had a good reason for doing what he did even if he is a bit...off.

Now don't get me wrong. I still enjoy a good mystery. I have not lost my love for the genre. It's just that the crime thriller is my favorite. I still have plenty of mysteries on my shelf and they will remain there.

But writing a mystery?

I cannot say I have ever really written a straight up mystery. My book certainly is not one and I doubt if any of my short stories could be called that either. I love writing about crime and well, criminals. Law enforcement is always out there as a threat to them, but many times they appear to the criminals as little more than interrupters. The criminals would much rather rip each other off and steal from one another than bring the law in at any cost. They have their own little seedy world and as a writer I have to appreciate that by proxy.

Will I ever write a mystery? Maybe. I never rule anything out. But I read a long time ago that if a writer wants to be successful, they must pick their favorite genre and explore that for most of their career. I can always branch out later. And I must say it has helped. I picked thriller at first and eventually made my way around to crime thriller. I find it so much more interesting than a lot of other types of thrillers although I like most of the others, too. I feel that I chose correctly.

So what do you think?


Or Thriller?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Bad Actions Lead to Worse Thoughts

Soldiers often have nightmares about what they have done. Even though they were usually just serving their country and doing what they had to do, the violent actions still weigh on their minds.

Do criminals who have committed violent crimes go through the same thing?

I believe SOME do. Any person that takes another life has blood on their hands and that can never be changed or taken back. It is done and that is the reality. I would say most of them have nightmares, possibly panic attacks and maybe even worse conditions.

But are there some who feel nothing over what they have done?

I think there are.

Some people just have the right kind of mind for it. They feel little to no empathy. They have justified their actions in their own minds to the point to where they were right for committing the violence.

Now in some cases, they could be right. If they were attempting to steal a car, the owner caught them and started firing a gun at them, well what choice do you have but to fire back? Of course, they should not have been stealing the car to begin with, but does a criminal really think that way?

Definitely not.

I must say it is fascinating to think about. I know I definitely do not have a criminal mind to the point that I could justify violence for any reason other than a criminal coming into my home to kill or rob me and I had to defend myself. Even then, I'm sure the act would haunt me. I have never been a real violent person. By that, I mean that yes, I have enjoyed gun fights in books and movies as much as anybody else. However, to actually go through with it would be another matter.

When I was younger, I boxed with some friends. We were in a back yard with gloves and head gear. Having a little tournament. Well, I hit one friend pretty hard a few times but only after he hit me in the face. I have that revenge type complex I think. Until I get hit, I have trouble hitting the opponent. This told me long ago I should never pursue a career in boxing. If you wait to get hit first, most times it ends with just you getting hit if you can't take the other guy's punch.

Either way, after our little brawl, I apologized to my friend immediately. After all this was a good friend who even went to the trouble of buying me a Scottish flag license plate for my truck. I am of Scottish descent and I love the movie and book Braveheart. So I really hated that I did hit him like that. I have thought about it since and I may not really regret it all that much, but I can see that to hurt another person can definitely weigh on you.

So maybe I just don't have the criminal mind.

In a way, it could be looked at as a bad thing.

I don't have a criminal mind. How could I ever expect to WRITE about criminals or cops or soldiers who have ever been in such a situation?


Most authors who write about violent situations have been involved in few themselves. It takes two things for me-

Other people's stories and imagination.

There are message boards about everything as well as people I personally know in real life who can offer insight. I add a dose of my own imagination in and I'm set. I can write about sociopaths and psychopaths and any other path all day long.

However, these criminal minds who justify what they do but have no real empathy must be the scariest type of individual.

I remember when I was a kid, an older boy came to our house. We had a bunch of cats running around. We were never mean to them, but this kid took one and dunked it in a bucket of water. My brother and I were appalled and got him inside away from the cats in a hurry. I am not sure what ever became of the boy, but those were not encouraging early signs. My brother and I felt so bad for the poor cat, but he seemed to feel nothing except fr maybe amusement.

That type of thinking is not too amusing in fiction but it's down right sick in real life. Of course, things could have went a lot further, but still. I never understood how a person would think that was funny. Oh but I can write about people who do as I am doing so now.

What about you? What are your own experiences with people who may have been less than sympathetic when you thought they should be? Have you ever known a person that seemed to be mean to the core with no empathy for any living being? Are they in jail now? I would love to hear your thoughts!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Jack Little Excerpt

For this week, I would like to offer an excerpt from my novel, Jack Little.


On the Saturday following his flea market trip, he and his wife drove to a friend’s house in the Germantown section of the city. The friend was Tim Broderick. Tim’s father knew Will’s father and often the two dads hung out over at the Hodge’s when Will was a boy. Naturally Will and Tim played together while their dads played pool and talked about current events. They were never best friends, but they had stayed in contact over the years. Will did not know one single classmate from high school besides Tim. The others had disappeared from his life as old acquaintances often do.

The fireplace roared. Tim loved the crackle in his study. Tim was not considered rich, but he never really went without much of anything either. His father was in the construction business. Now his business was not the biggest outfit around, but his dad made quite a bit of money over the years. Tim sought the less laborious work of architecture. When he returned from college, he helped to design many of the structures his father oversaw building. Since his father died, Tim sold off the business and now only worked once in a while on contract. He had been married but was now a widow with no children. He was more than happy for any attention he received.

Will and his wife sat at the long oak table in Tim’s study. Two book cases held at least four hundred books. And knowing Tim he had read every single one of them. Tim returned to them after a few minutes with fresh coffee. Will thanked him and took a sip from his cup. His wife declined.

“Are you sure, honey? You haven’t had any coffee today.”

“It’s fine, dear. So, Tim. How have you been getting along?”

Tim sat in the recliner next to the table. He took a drink from his own cup and warmed his hands by the fire. The house was very warm, but it was more of a ritual for Tim. The rubbing of the hands together. An act man had done since his creation. Tim loved traditions. He enjoyed many with his wife before she passed on. Now in the presence of others, Tim came alive again.

“I’ve been reading mostly. I have a lot of time on my hands. It’s almost crazy how much time I have these days. My dad always said he never had enough time for anything, but me? Well I do.”

“But maybe you should get out of this house. Maybe go meet somebody.”

Will’s wife hated to think of anybody being unhappy or lonely. She had mentioned lots of her friends and relatives to Tim in the two years since his wife passed. He didn’t appear too interested. Will figured the man just loved one woman his whole life and wanted to keep it that way, but his wife persisted.

“Oh. I don’t know. Maybe.”

“Sure. There’s my friend who works at the salon. A really sweet girl. And just around your age.”

His wife continued talking up her friend from the salon. Will nodded along. The girl was quite a looker. Maybe she could help bring Tim out a bit. Perhaps his wife was right.

The flash caught his eye.

Will had to look twice to make sure. In the corner of Tim’s study sat a pitcher. But not just any pitcher. Will had been looking at nothing but antiques guides for weeks. He knew that pitcher was no ordinary pitcher but it was Depression era glassware. The antique show in Crossville would scoop it right up for quite a price. He should let his friend know about this great chance for profit.

After the coffee was done, they moved into the living room. Tim turned on the TV. He went into the kitchen where he and Will’s wife began preparing cocktail weenies. Will sat on the sofa and watched the football game on TV. Actually his eyes were on the screen but his mind remained fixated on the pitcher. Yes. After the cocktail weenies and a few beers, he would let his good friend Tim know that he had a special gem in his house worth a good bit of money. Will was on fairly easy street now with the money from the flea market. And he was developing an eye for antiques. Lots of treasure sat around on the shelves and in the attics and basements of thousands of men across the nation. Men who were too ignorant to know what they had and too lazy to try to find out. Will would capitalize on their folly. But not on his friend. Tim was too good a man for that.

An hour later, the three ate the cocktail weenies. Tim and Will drank a few beers while the wife read part of the book she had with her. She usually carried a book with her, but whenever they came to Tim’s she made sure to. She knew boys would watch their game and drink their beer, but she wasn’t going to be part of that. Will and Tim shared a few laughs and night fell. Around nine o’clock, Will and his wife left his friend’s house.

Over the next three days, Will told himself he would call Tim to tell him about the pitcher. That antique show was coming up in February. He started to call his friend. He flipped his phone open. He punched in the number. But then he closed it back. He threw on his jacket and went to his wife.

“Honey, I’m stepping out a minute. I think I might go see if I can’t find a new rake.”

She paused.

“Well I think all the leaves are gone for the year.”

“Yeah. But that one is old and just about done. I’d really like to replace it for next year. You know I like to stay ahead of things.”

She nodded.

He leaned in to kiss her.

“Want me to go?”

He told her that would be fine, but once again he slipped. There was a half-second delay. Her eyes told him she was not pleased although she said she was. She pecked him on the mouth and returned to her reading.

As he reached the front door, he turned back to her.

“Maybe we could go out to dinner tonight.”

She smiled to him.

“Sure. Where?”

“Anywhere you like, honey. Just think about it while I get us a new rake.”

She winked at him.

“Will do.”

He left his house and cruised around a while. He figured to pick up the rake first. He entered the Home Depot. He picked up the rake. Not a bad price. The quality was decent although they didn’t seem to make tools like they used to. But that was how things went. The best made things are usually hard to find. As hard to find as the pitcher in Tim’s house.

He pulled into Tim’s driveway. Tim had a two car garage and rarely left. Will figured him to be home. He walked to his front door and gave it two knocks. He peered around. The day was quiet. Very little traffic around. He gave it two additional knocks. Nothing.

From his earlier visits, he knew Tim had no security system. He tried the front door even though he figured it was locked. Tim was a careful guy. He would have locked it.


The door eased forward. Will stood there for a moment. He knew this was wrong. No. It wasn’t. He would see if his friend was home. Fairly likely considering the door was left open. He stepped inside.

The house was entirely quiet. No TV going. No radio. The central heating might be working but it was not running. Just dead silence. He stepped into the house with caution. Surely something hadn’t happened to his friend. He called out his name. No answer. He walked into the study. He thought maybe Tim would be curled up with a book at his fireplace. Maybe he fell asleep. He checked but found no sign of Tim and the fireplace sat cold and dormant. He stepped into the hallway. Called to his friend again. He checked the bathroom. He even pulled back the shower curtain. Nothing. He stepped back into the hallway. There were two bedrooms. He checked the first. Nothing out of the ordinary. He walked down to the second bedroom. He knocked lightly and called to his friend. Nothing. He entered the master bedroom.

The room was much darker than the rest of the house. Will literally could not see much of anything. He called to Tim again but got no answer. He flipped the light switch. Nothing but darkness. The bulb must have blown. He moved to the window. He drew back the curtains and turned to look. Just an empty bed. He checked the bathroom connected to the bedroom. Nothing. Once again he pulled back the curtain. Nothing.

Will figured to call his friend. After all he needed to let him know about this. He also felt some concern. It wasn’t like Tim to just go off and leave the house un-locked. Or he figured it was not typical behavior for him. He pulled out his cell phone and returned to the study. As he punched in the number he stared at the pitcher. Closing the phone, he walked to the pitcher and examined it. As he guessed it was in immaculate condition. It was real Depression era glassware and it would bring a great price. He stood holding the pitcher. Then the thought occurred to him.

On the drive back to his house, he figured Tim needed some cheering up. Will would take the pitcher to the antiques show and sell it himself. He would surprise Tim with the profits. Add a little cheer to his life. Besides Will would know the right price to get. Tim did not know about such matters. To Tim, the pitcher was covered with black enamel like that old falcon. Will made sure to leave the house unlocked. He returned to his house and placed the pitcher in the basement later that night while his wife slept.

For more, check out Jack Little here.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

More than Entertainment...secondly

One of my favorite books is Pale Horse Coming by Stephen Hunter. It has lots of action, two terrific protagonists in Sam Vincent and ex-Marine Earl Swagger and a group of bad guys as brutal and dangerous as any I can think of. From cover to cover it is filled with intensity and lots of surprises.

But the real reason I like it?

Because justice is handed out.

Often times in life- not just in what we read in the papers or well on the internet since printed things disappear in droves every day- we just don't things go fairly. I mean, I think it's not right that gas prices are so high, much less that a crime as described in the book is being pulled off and gotten away with.

So any time when things do get set right as they often do in Westerns, but not as much in modern fiction, I feel that good does exist in the world. Even if it is fiction...and sometimes because of it.

When justice is handed out in the real world, that is truly worth rejoicing over. If in the case of a murder victim, the friends and family want justice but I think they have the bigger problems on their hands of how they're going to move on without their loved one in their lives anymore. Whether the killer gets justice or not, their loved one is gone forever in this life. However for the rest of us not as close, we do feel great that the perpetrator did get punished since they took so much away from somebody else.

But in fiction?

What difference does it make?

For me it makes a big difference. It means that someone else feels the same way about justice as I do. And that's a great feeling. Any time others are in agreement with me, I feel a little better about it. I think I can't help it. It solidifies my argument to an extent. It's only human nature. But I think it's more than that. It means that what I believe in is not crazy by any means. Even in the face of those who seem to never care about the victims and ONLY the rights of the killer, I can feel that I am right. And that counts.

Fiction can serve to more than entertain. In fact it often does for us deeper thinkers. Are we deep thinkers special? I don't think so. Sometimes I wish I did not think so deeply. Lots of people who do not seem to be very happy and content and often never seem to worry about much of anything. I love to be like that but it's pretty difficult when I wonder about how my words can help the world on some level? What I usually end up getting back to is...

Don't think. Write.”

Now don't get me wrong. The main purpose of fiction is to entertain. Some classics I have had to literally strain to turn another page of the monstrous thing to finish it- just to say I did it. It was a test of endurance. Would I do it again? Maybe it I ever end up in prison. But most likely no. Those older works are not meant to be that entertaining to us now. So out they go as far as I'm concerned. I'm happy that I read them, but when I really want to delve into some entertaining fiction, it has to be from this century or the last one. Just the way it is.

So if fiction is mainly meant to entertain, then why is it important to know the writer or characters in the story agree with you or your sense of justice?

To the writer, I don't think it is important. Ever really. But I think it makes us bigger fans of that writer since they were able to create a character that got to us. And because of that we remember that writer's name and we try another book. Then maybe another and another.

So any time fiction can not only entertain me, but also offer up a view point where I agree or even don't but then have my eyes opened a bit, that makes the experience that much better.

How about you?

Do you like it when the characters or events of a fictional book reiterate your own views and opinions?