First Two Pages + Two Bad Hamiltons = Too Good a Time!

AHM515-finalcoverI’m delighted to have a guest post over at The First Two Pages, a blog run by writer extraordinaire B.K. Stevens. Every week a novelist or story writer takes apart an opening they find instructive: the fits and starts of crafting it, how the hook became sharp, etc. In my case, I’ve taken apart the opening of my romp “Two Bad Hamiltons and a Hirsute Jackson,” recently in AHMM, and I go through how with short fiction two pages can be the entire set-up and beyond. It was years in finding what ultimately worked.

Go check it out if you liked Vi’s story or find the idea intriguing. And if you click over there, check out the many great other self-analyses of writer’s journey to finished product.

Thanks for having me over, Bonnie!

Caught on Podcast! Methodically Musing

It was my great honor last night to talk fiction with the wonderful Sherry Welton Wilds as she debuts her new show The Method and the Muse. What a great (and short!) session, and I hope those who listen get value for their time.

If I remember correctly, and this would be a new development, here’s some elaboration and errata:

– Sherry mentioned “First Rodeo,” published not so long ago at Kings River Life. I get more into the story and character here.

– I read from an oldie but goodie “Dark Days for the Professor.” I get more into the story here. And here’s the bit about deleting all those early words.

– My bit about setting up a story as akin to dealing the cards was paraphrased from an Ann Patchett talk. The image nails how to open directly or through foreshadowing when storytelling.

– I was asked about Poe’s Unity of Effect. It’s a thing, y’all.

– And remember, short stories get read in one sitting. They are Ending Delivery Systems, with the various elements building to deliver the Resonant Moment.

– Yes, I am all about Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon.

Behind: “Two Bad Hamiltons and a Hirsute Jackson”

Fleur de lisViolet Celucci is a better angel and an inner demon. A frigging genius is how Vi might describe herself, a bastion of sanity in a disorderly world, a process improvement-seeking missile. An over-obsessed stickler for efficiency is how she’d never describe herself. Sorry, Vi. The truth hurts, and so can life. Tough as you are, I see the breaks in your armor.

I can write Vi because over the years I’ve worked with my share of consultants and industrial engineers. You know the folks I mean: big-brained and unapologetic process nerds committed to life by timetable. And we need those folks. Process folks dream up boxes that fit our mail-orders just so; they reduce plant emissions and build supertankers; they took our rover to Mars. This month Vi took my story “Two Bad Hamiltons and a Hirsute Jackson” into Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine’s May 2015 humor edition. The company she and I are keeping there is humbling.

AHM515-finalcoverOkay, I can also write Vi’s craving for order among chaos because some days, at some level, it is also my own. 

We have a Venn diagram overlap, she might say.

Vi sprung from a high-caliber question: what if those big-brained engineers lived every livelong moment the way they worked their flowcharts and daily operating reports? How they shopped, for example, or how they cooked, how they sought–or didn’t–friends and lovers. Surely in the end that kind of quest would make life more difficult. Extra balls juggled, needless battles fought, friends and family distanced. That’s Vi. Her obsession demands she take the hard road to make it more efficient next time. And it might work, if immovable reality ever played along. Continue reading “Behind: “Two Bad Hamiltons and a Hirsute Jackson””