The Bullied Newsboy

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Giovanni spit a honker on Houston Street. Damn that Western Union boy. The only gold he ever saw, his precious tobacco, half spilled on the ground. Giovanni tried to look casual as he plucked himself up off the dusty street and replaced his cap. Why was he always picked on? The rolling of a cigarette would take his mind off the embarrassment.

He sat down outside Sommers corner drugstore, his preferred spot. Here he could watch the comings and goings from all directions. San Antonio was his for the taking. The biggest city in Texas just didn’t know it yet.

The fur nudging against his back made him jump. Damn, he was jittery. Turning around, he patted the head of the scruffy dog. Even the coarse fur of a flea infested mutt felt good after a little bullying and a long day’s work. Rising early, collecting papers from the office and bundling them into stacks to haul to his corner meant the day started at four-thirty in the morning. Now mid-afternoon, his workday had come and gone.

“Hey, buddy, don’t you have somebody looking for you?” he said, the dog settling down next to him.

The drawstring of his cloth tobacco sack hanging from the side of his mouth, Giovanni sprinkled part of what was left onto the rolling paper. Sometimes he would break the rule and, instead of accepting money for his newspapers, he’d bargain for tobacco and rolling papers.

Packing the tobacco neatly onto the paper was easy. Rolling it with one hand was the hard part.

Porca miseria!” he said, loud enough to scare off the poor mutt, his rolling papers torn. The Italian words came out before he could stop them. He’d had enough of bullies the first part of the day, and being called a “wop” wouldn’t be a good way to end one.

Excerpt from Naked, She Lies by C. Dennis-Willingham

Casual– Daily Word Prompt

Campout over

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It was dark, like now. Miss Helen had laid out the sleeping bags. Mama had set the sandwiches and cookies she’d made in the center of a picnic cloth.

After Mama and Miss Helen had gone inside the house, Scoot and me were fine for a while. We settled in to the hum and thump of the distillery until I realized the machine was so loud, I wouldn’t be able to hear danger if it came sneaking up on us. Maybe if Choppers had been there. But he was still recovering and getting used to his missing leg.

All that day, Scoot had been excited about camping out. That’s why I didn’t tell him I was spooked. I looked up through the gaps in the trees and watched the clouds as they moved across the half moon like Blankets trying to cover a small bed. Then it got darker. The owl hooted. When we both saw its eyes, yellow and mean, Scooter said it first. “Campout over.” Then he got up and walked inside with the sleeping bag over his head.

I’m not afraid of the dark anymore. I’m not afraid of untold secrets, either. “I’m afraid for Scooter,” I tell Frank.

Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket set in 1928

 

Let Worm-God help with your writer’s block

Note: Don’t tell her you don’t believe. She hates it when creativity is stifled.

She started out as a mere, mealy book worm.

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She has read ALL of your work and she waits for more. She lives in her heaven beneath the earth surrounded by tunnels and tunnels of shelves filled with writings from authors, books of all genres from every year. When the others around her noticed this magnitude, they had declared her Worm-God.

At night, she listens. She hears the crumpling of paper, the slam of a laptop, the author’s piercing whine.

She ascends. She is careful. She waits until you nod off, then wiggles imperceptibly between your fingers and leaves a residue of inspiration. When she is finished, she returns below.

The next morning, you rise, pour a cup of coffee or tea, check emails. You pop your knuckles and begin.

Deep below, Worm-God makes room for your new book. As she waits, she smiles.

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By the way, she will also nudge you into sending off your manuscript.

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A Kindle Ad reminder

As a kid, I hated to read. Nothing stuck. Everything around me had more meaning than written words inside a book. Then came To Kill a Mockingbird. At age 14, this was the first book I read cover to cover. “So, some books are good?” I thought. This one was proof.

I always liked writing but, many, many years passed before I became an avid reader. Maybe it’s because my mind could finally focus on words I didn’t write, words that enticed me to enter new worlds such as:

ancient Egypt in River God by Wilbur Smith

1975 India in A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

the Depression-era Ireland in Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

inside the memories of a man from a very dysfunctional family in The Prince of Tide by Pat Conroy

And many more, of course.

Still, I am very selective of the books I read. Many times, a book is over before I finish it. And no, I don’t feel guilty for closing it prematurely as some do. I just grab another and hope others don’t do the same with my novels!  🙂

Read to your child when they are young!

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Goosebumps! The Real Deal!

In 2013, I attended a writer’s conference in San Francisco. Guess who was the guest speaker! Yep, Mr. Goosebumps himself, R.L. Stine!

During his keynote Q and A, I stood and thanked him for his books. I told him how my son had grown up reading the Goosebumps series and how, because of them,  turned into an avid reader.

Mr. Stine thanked me and went on with his comical keynote. (Yes, he was hysterical and left the audience in stitches. Who would have thunk it?)

(I still have the video but don’t know how to put it here)

Anyway, Mr. Stine said, “Well thank you. That’s nice. Well, my son’s claim to fame was that he never read one. <laughter> No really. He was the right age and everything. And it used to make me nuts. He used to sell parts to his friends. <laughter> He used to come home and say, ‘ Dad you have to put Will in the next book and Jay… I think they paid him 10 bucks to be in Goosebumps.’ <laughter> Of course, I always did.”

What a great writer, speaker and, apparently, a dad.

Here is me and Mr. Stine at the book signing.

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Entering the Insane Asylum

The Pungent smell of an insane asylum.

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From The Last Bordello (voice of Sadie):

My limbs shook. My knees buckled. The men in white held fast to my elbows and pulled me toward a thick wooden door. When opened, the fragrant air vanished and was replaced with the malodorous smells of urine, vomit, rubbing alcohol, and something else I couldn’t quite place.

I saw only a few women, one being dragged in another direction. “Not surgery, not surgery!” the woman wailed.

The driver unlocked another door and pushed me into a small room that contained a stained mattress on the floor and a bucket for excrement. He told me to sleep well. I heard him laughing down the hall long after they had locked the door.

I thought it was a cruel joke, that my mother had followed behind and would now take me home with an “I told you so.” Before the tears had a chance to come, someone unlocked the door again.

RAW Journal Kernels – 1

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Since my laptop took over, I haven’t journaled in many years. But, as you can see, I used to.

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Skimming through these old treasures, I had this thought: “What if I shared kernels, bits of my past from numerous journal entries?”

So, here I go, making myself vulnerable. Again.

Please note: In order to be true to myself and to my fellow followers, this and upcoming entries are raw, unedited and scanned into this blog.scan-27

 

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