Here’s Where I REALLY Interact with My Readers

I’ve been blogging at my very own blog now for nearly a year, and I’ve even managed to get a few faithful readers along the way. This thrills me. Even if you are visiting my blog for the first time, that thrills me too. Really, it does. To prove it, I’m going to ask you guys what you would like to see in the months ahead. And I promise to take your suggestions into consideration- serious consideration.

Digging the flash fiction? Great, because I’ll still be doing a lot of that anyway.

Like the flash fiction, but want to see other genres? Sure.

Want more “writing advice”? I can do that too.

Have a totally off-the-wall suggestion? Let me know!

Simply leave your suggestions in the comments below this post, or answer this poll (you can choose more than 1 answer):

Ohh . . I thought of more suggestions, here’s another poll:

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And here’s a bonus recipe. Not one of my own, but it’s a great suggestion for what to do with your end-of-summer carrot bounty (also works well with celery). You’ll need a Salad Shooter, or a knife and a quick hand:

Kiss the Gun- a Flash Fiction Tale

 

This story is PG.

 

o o o

“What’ll it be, Mr. Wahl?”

“I’ll take a Harvey Wallbanger. Just wrapped up the last round of auditions for ‘Kiss the Gun.’ Got some great talent lined up.”

“Great. One Banger, coming right up. Looks like you’re on a winning streak. I hope this one turns out as successful as your last movie.”

“Yep, all we need is an unknown to play ‘victim number one.’ A pretty-boy type. Memorable. To set the pace for the rest of the movie.”

“Good luck with that. Here’s your Banger.”

“Thank you. And I’ll let you in on something. My first name is Harvey.” He winces and rubs his forehead.

“Ha! Is that so? A Harvey Wallbanger for Mr. Harvey Wahl.”

Harvey grabs the drink and takes a long swig.

“What’s that name on your tag there?” He leans over the bar and squints. “I can’t see too well in this light.”

“My name is Jehan Ridgemont.” He offers his hand, and they shake.

“Jehan- is that French?”

“Yes sir. My mother was French.”

“Well that certainly is a pretty name. Pretty name for a pretty face- speaking as an agent. I bet you’re bartending just until you get your first big break in show business. Am I right?”

“Well, I wouldn’t turn down a role in a movie, but I really moved to L. A. to model. I started bartending when my savings ran out. Tough market for male models.”

“A model. I knew it. And of course, you’re gay.”

“What?”

“Not that it’s any of my business. But gay pretty-boys naturally gravitate toward modeling. It’s in their genes. Posing like fucking precious peacocks. A bunch of tail-fanners. And it helps in acting too, ‘cause most casting agents are men. And that’s the difference between males and females- male agents like to get to know their talent. Female agents don’t care. They’re just interested in their next pill.” Harvey winces and takes another long swig of his drink. “But I care,” he continues. “Now I ain’t a fag, don’t get me wrong. I’m a real man- no offense. I just care about my talent.”

Jehan wipes the far end of the bar with a towel.

“So you say you wouldn’t turn down a role?”

Jehan clenches his teeth and nods.

“I tell you what. My wife is producing ‘Kiss the Gun.’ She has the final say, but you’re a shoo-in. Ten grand up front, plus royalties. Mornings only. One month. You mind working with guns?”

Jehan works the towel down the length of the bar.

“I don’t mind guns. As long as they’re not loaded.” He glances at Harvey and smiles, then folds the towel into a neat square.

Harvey reaches into his jacket and pulls out his cell phone.

“I’ll call her now.” He rubs his forehead and dials. “Hey babe, I just found victim number one. Down at the Spector Bar and Grill. How late you gonna be up? . . No. . I forgot. . Don’t worry about it. . C’mon, babe, I feel fine.”

He slips his phone back into his pocket and giggles. “Women are good at one thing- rackin’ your balls. You’re lucky you’re queer, Jehan.” He fiddles with his watch. “You get off soon? We need to do this tonight to keep on schedule.”

“I’ll ask Sean to cover for me. He’s in the back.”

o o o

Harvey sprawls on the sofa, drinking a Screwdriver. “Prolly went for a walk. She’ll be back soon.”

“At this hour?” Jehan perches on the edge of his seat.

Harvey pulls out his cell phone.

“I’ll call her cell.” He rubs his forehead and giggles.

“You alright, Mr. Wahl?”

“ . . Huh. No answer.”

“That’s okay, it’s late anyway. We can do this tomorrow, maybe?” Jehan stands and walks to the door. Harvey follows.

“Tell you what. We’ll go over the scene so you can audition right away when she gets here. We’ll use this.”

Harvey reaches into his jacket. He pulls out a Smith & Wesson Model 37, a Model 60, and a Model 36, one at a time, and lays them on the foyer table.

Jehan steps back. “You know, it’s really getting late. And I have a go-see in the morning. I’d rather do this later. I’m exhausted. I’m sorry. I really have to leave now.”

Harvey steps in front of the door, picks up the Model 36, and waves it at Jehan. “You nervous, pretty boy? No need. Take a look at this. My pride and joy. S and W revolver, a thirty-six. Revolvers are more reliable than semi-automatics. See, with a revolver, there’s no safety. Just put your finger on the trigger and bam! Always ready to fire. The hammer’s exposed, so you can fire in single or double action. Great for auditions. You understand?”

“Yes. I mean no. Please, may I leave now? I don’t think I’m a good fit for your movie. I’m sorry.”

“Not a good fit? What the hell you talkin’ ’bout? I took a chance on you because I care. I care about all my talent.” He squeezes his eyes shut, lowers his head, and yelps.

“Mr. Wahl, I think you need help.”

Tears drip from Harvey’s nose. “Don’t need help. Don’t need shit. Just haven’t fired my gun in a long time, that’s all.” He shakes his head and lets out a sob. “On your knees, pretty boy.”

o o o

Mrs. Wahl pulls her BMW into the driveway. Harvey turns, opens the door, and steps outside.

“I had to drive all the way to Tarzana to find an open pharmacy. Take a pill- now.”

“I told you not to worry about it, babe. I’m fine. I even auditioned victim number one.”

“Here? At this hour?”

“Yes. And we went ahead and shot the scene.”

“Oh. Okay. Did you use the surveillance cameras for the shot? You know, like we talked about- P. O. V?”

“Yep. But there’s one little technicality- he failed the audition. But don’t worry, babe. I got the shot.”

o o o

Thanks to Chuck Wendig for this flash fiction challenge!

Meet My Twin- a Flash Fiction Tale

original photo @ blindgossip.com copied w/ permission

^V^V^


Lars, dressed in a tuxedo, pulls out a chair on the rooftop of the La Piscine restaurant. Cinna gathers the hem of her cocktail dress and sits. They clink their champagne glasses, intertwine arms, and drink a toast to the hot summer night.

“You in that dress – wow! I can’t take my eyes off you, Cinna.”

“Thanks. And you look great in a tux. I hope you wear it again sometime.”

“I think I will. Even Buddy likes the tux. And he usually doesn’t like anything except shorts or sweatpants.”

“Yeah, I wonder when I’m finally going to meet your mysterious brother.” Cinna sighs.

“You’ll meet Buddy soon, I promise. I know I’ve kept you away from him. It’s been hard – for me and for him. I’ve told him all about you. I’m aching – he’s aching to meet you.”

“I’m relieved to hear that. He’s such a big part of your life.”

“Yes, he is. But the thing is, well… you already know he’s my twin.”

“Yeah, your reclusive twin who’s so shy he doesn’t want any visitors ever.”

“There’s a reason for that. Buddy is dependent on me. I do everything for him.”

“It’s great that he can count on you. But I don’t want to talk about Buddy tonight. I want to talk about us. We’ve been a couple for five years. It’s not that I’m judging you, but you’re thirty-one and still a virgin. And I haven’t been with anybody else since I met you.”

Cinna slips off a high heel and runs her foot along the inside of Lars’ thigh. He scoots back and blocks her with his hand.

“Cinna, you know I want to save myself for marriage.”

“Right. But you know, sometimes I think you wear a codpiece all the time is just to make me more curious.”

“Athletic cup.”

“What?”

“It’s an athletic cup.”

“Right. I still don’t know why you wear an athletic cup twenty-four-seven. I’ve never seen you play ball, or do any exercising or even jump over a puddle. But let’s not get into all that again. I love you – eccentricities and all. Lars, will you marry me?”

^V^V^

“Cinna, I changed my mind. Let’s make love before the wedding. It’s selfish of me to make you wait.”

“You’re sure? The wedding is only a couple days away. I’ve waited five years – I can wait another two days.”

“I’m sure. And I want to make love for the first time at my house.”

“What about Buddy?”

“It’s okay. I’ll make it work. The only thing I’m worried about is the teeth.”

“Ha! I won’t bite if you won’t.”

^V^V^

Lars carries Cinna through the front door. He sets her down in the bedroom. They embrace and kiss. She smiles and taps his codpiece through his trousers and winks.

Lars takes a step back. “Before we get carried away, I’d like you to finally meet Buddy. I hope you like him. He already likes you. But remember, Buddy can’t speak.”

“Do you communicate through sign language?”

“We communicate through touch. He’s blind and deaf. I told him about you through touch. He’s very excited. I’m just concerned you might be put off by his appearance. He doesn’t have a normal-looking face. He has huge teeth that stick out of his mouth. The doctors said it’s just a genetic misfortune. And he doesn’t have arms or legs. He can’t do anything for himself, he’s helpless. I have to do everything for him, including feed him. He loves to eat. Sometimes he gets over-excited at dinnertime and nips at my fingers.”

Cinna sits on the bed, and Lars steps toward her. He unbuckles his belt, unbuttons and unzips his trousers, and they fall around his ankles. He cups his hands over the fly of his boxers.

“Cinna, I don’t blame you if you walk out. I hope you don’t. I hope you love me enough. I hope you can learn to love Buddy.”

“Why are you talking about Buddy in your boxers?”

“Funny you should say, ‘Buddy in your boxers,’ because – YEEOOOWW !

Lars jerks his hand away from his open fly, his finger dripping blood.

“Cinna, meet my twin.”

^V^V^

Thanks to Chuck Wendig for the flash fiction challenge “That Poor, Poor Protagonist,” and thanks to Albert Berg for the flash fiction challenge “Teeth”!

^V^V^

Book Review * Hell Comes with Wood Paneled Doors * an e-book by Christopher Gronlund

Full disclosure: I’m not a professional book reviewer. Also, the book’s author- Christopher Gronlund- is a friend (he’s everybody’s friend). But I did not let these variables skew my review of Hell Comes with Wood Paneled Doors, in my opinion. This review, except for the quotes from the book, is 100% my opinion and conjecture.

Premise: A milestone cross-county family trip in a supernatural car is told in flashback form by the now-adult narrator. Evil hijinks and poignant reflection ensue throughout.

Content: The novella Hell Comes with Wood Paneled Doors is a cross between the movie “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” and the TV series “The Wonder Years.” It also has a generous dose of the movie “Christine.” It’s a coming-of-age horror-adventure tale with a touch of metafiction. Michael- the narrator, and the only seemingly sane character, longs for normalcy and harmony within his family. He hopes a trip from New Jersey to the Grand Canyon will do the trick. Along the way, his surprisingly malevolent twin siblings and his mother’s evil dog try to kill him. But there’s more. The family station wagon tries to kill him too. Turns out it’s possessed!

Style: Gronlund doesn’t shy away from exclamation marks! He peppers them throughout the story! I like that! I saw a record 24 in a row at the end of a single sentence of dialogue! I don’t know what’s weirder- that he put them there, or that I counted them all! But it fits with the over-the-top theme of the story. “Hell Comes” is an in-your-face freak fest of the campiest and kitschiest of roadside attractions, and the characters they attract.

Merit: This e-book would appeal to fans of YA, and fans of Americana. It would be a fitting ride-along to wind down nightly hotel or campground stays during family road trips. Gronlund’s attention to novel mechanics is solid. The characters are well-developed and vivid. At times, the action wanders into “fantasy genre” territory, but the wanderlust works with the overall theme.

Selected scenes with quotes:

The station wagon begrudgingly melts the base of a tacky plastic Virgin Mary figurine into its dashboard. An unholy journey begins:

“Even though I was an atheist, I felt more at ease staring at the figurine.”

Michael describes how his parents first met:

“ . . Dad’s stomach was filled with an emptiness only the mismatched insides of slaughtered cattle and swine could fill—so he stopped for a hotdog.”

 . . and reflects on his parents, religion, and atheism:

“The thought of marrying someone like my mother made me consider joining the priesthood, only I didn’t believe in God.”

There’s an odd explanation of the draw of discovery on the open road:

“It’s all about freedom. It’s what your grandpa fought for in World War Two; it’s what our forefathers died for.”

And of course, there’s loads of bathroom humor:

“I dropped my pants, sat down, and let loose. When I looked up, I saw Jesus.”

 . . and reflections on human-canine bonding:

“That had to be one of the most surreal things they ever saw, a huge woman pulling a rat-dog out from between her breasts.”

An Elvis fanatic has a surprisingly calm reaction to ‘meeting The King’:

“You knocked out Cletus?” The King said.

“Yeah.”

He laughed. “You must be one strong woman.”

“I guess.”

And Michael goes from disbelief:

“ . . how could I believe Lucky was possessed when I didn’t believe in the very mechanics behind possession? I struggled with so much on that trip.”

 . . to finding some kind of faith:

“Before leaving New Jersey, I was a skeptic, but knowing Satan owned your father’s soul could change your mind.”

 

Author Motivation: Gronlund strongly identifies with Michael, (the narrator) and he simultaneously mocks and venerates religion throughout this book. The incredulity and pervasiveness of religion serves as a backdrop for questioning and clarifying Gronlund’s / Michael’s atheism, his relationship with animals (wild and captive), and his opinion of his immediate and extended family. He identifies strongly with his father and sees both himself and his father as spiritual martyrs, possessing a higher truth while appreciating a lower existence. Finding happiness within his accidental circumstances is his spiritual aspiration.

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Christopher Gronlund

Gronlund has a writing + life advice website:

The Juggling Writer

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A web page on how to possess the book:

RoadTripFromHell.com

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Gronlund also has a professional website:

ChristopherGronlund.com

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And he’s even on Google+!

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Leave a comment and be entered into a drawing for a free copy of Hell Comes with Wood Paneled Doors! Deadline is August 12.

UPDATE: True Random Number Generator Min: 1 Max: 4 Result: 1 Powered by RANDOM.ORG
 
Elliott wins a free copy of “Hell Comes with Wood Paneled Doors”!

 

Blue Moon Beer

 

“Hello. Is Stacey here?”

“No.”

“Oh. We were supposed to study tonight. I guess she forgot.”

“She’s out. She’s forgetful.”

“Okay, could you tell her Kaycee was here when she gets back?”

“Sure. My name’s Kevin, by the way.”

“Nice to meet you, Kevin.”

“You know what? I’m the one who’s forgetful. Stacey told me she’d be back at seven, and what time is it? Almost seven?”

“It’s seven by my watch.”

“She’ll probably show up any minute. Come on in and wait.”

“Thanks.”

“Can I get you a beer?”

“Sure. Sounds great. It’s a hot night.”

“One Blue Moon beer, my dear. My favorite brand.”

“Thanks.”

“Mind if I play some music? I’ve got some classic stuff from the seventies. Starbuck.”

“Starbucks?”

“No, girlie, ‘Star-BUCK.’ It’s a band on this Love Rock album.”

“Wow, an old-time record player? And real vinyl records?”

“Yes, my love.”

“Kaycee. My name is ‘Kaycee,’ in case you forgot.”

“I didn’t forget, KAY-cee. How could I forget a pretty name like that? ‘Stacey’ is another pretty name. Funny how they rhyme. They make a great pair. Come see lady wrestlers Kaycee and Stacey Jell-O wrestling, tonight only.”

“I really should go.”

“Hey, I was just teasing about the name thing. I’m sorry. I apologize. Stacey should be here any minute. Relax and we’ll listen to the greatest love song ever written. ‘Moonlight Feels Right.’ There’s a full Moon tonight. The celestial orb of romance. Sometimes I fantasize about being with a nice, pretty girl on the Moon. Just me and her, playing my records. Wouldn’t that be romantic, Kaycee?”

“Not really.”

“Why?”

“Um . . I dunno. I’ve seen pictures of the surface. Seems kinda dusty.”

“Check it out. A record vacuum. We could take my records to the Moon and not worry about the Moon dust. Just suck it all up. No more dust.”

“Interesting. You know, this beer is strong. Is this regular Blue Moon beer? The Moon on the label looks different.”

“It’s a special version of ‘Blue Moon Beer.’”

“Sounds like the record is skipping.”

“No. It’s not skipping. That’s just the natural tap of vinyl. Listen- it gets quieter when I turn down the volume.”

“What difference does the volume make? You can hear the tap either way.”

“Ah, Kaycee. I thought you were a nice girl. Why are you deliberately trying to embarrass me? Just like Stacey did.”

“I’m not trying to embarrass you. I’m sorry. I think I’ll just leave.”

“Wait- here’s the best part. Marimba solo.”

“Tell Stacey I was here, okay? Thanks.”

“But my music! Look- it’s love rock. Love. Chicks really go for love rock. This album has all the great artists- Rawls, Gaye, White, Withers-”

“Gotta go.”

“It’s love rock, see? Love!”

“Good-bye!”

“Wait, Kaycee. Stacey’s in the bedroom. She’s really sick. I didn’t tell you because she was asleep. But you’d better take a look. Tell me if you think she needs a doctor. She’s in here.”

*

Thanks to Sonia G Medeiros for this flash fiction challenge!

 

Also thanks to Starbuck, and KcBargainDeals for further inspiration!

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