On Reading “On Writing”

On WritingStephen King’s “On Writing” has been recommended and suggested so often I finally decided to read it. As with most How To Write books, I bought the actual book. For some reason, I prefer the physical book because they are easier to reference in the future. Or maybe I just like seeing those books sitting on my book shelf, and by virtue of their being there, I feel more like an actual writer.

It was an engaging memoir on writing, of how he, Mr. King, got started and it’s not surprising that he was interested in Sci-fi and horror and the supernatural from the time he was a little kid. It’s filled with humor and a bit of history, but at its heart, it’s a book “On Writing”. Not the usual how-to but a more general discussion of the subject.  It was one of the best books I’ve read on the subject.

A few things I took from it:

Just start writing. Do it every day. Set a goal and Just. Do. It. This is the closed door part. The part where you don’t show anyone what you’ve written. Just get it down. Start with a couple of ideas about what it is to be about, and let the characters take you where they will. Stephen King is a “pantzer” as opposed to a “planner” I think. He didn’t mention making any outlines and seemed to indicate that the work will suffer from too much plotting.

When finished with this, the first draft, put it away for at least six weeks. Do something else. Work on a new project or go fishing. But don’t look at that manuscript once.

After six weeks, pull it out and read through it. Then comes the second draft. It should be at least 10% smaller than the first draft. Take out unneeded junk and fix the other stuff, repeated words and omitted words and any other problems you see.

Here’s the part where we have to take different forks in the road. At this point, Stephen King gives the manuscript to his Ideal Reader (his wife) who gives him her very honest opinion. He listens and mostly agrees and makes the appropriate changes before sending it on to his editor. After that it’s in the agent’s hands I guess, who sells it to a publishing company, or probably sends it on to the same company that published all his other work. They schedule it up for release, and then the money starts rolling in.

It doesn’t work that way for most of us, who are reading On Writing, but nevertheless, the book is very educational, and is also encouraging. It’s worth reading.

Some other information I found useful:

Writers can be grouped into something like the Four Food Group Pyramid. The bottom and largest group are the bad writers. They have no talent for it, their interests lie in other areas. Give them all the creative writing classes in the world and they will still suck.

Up a level and the next largest group are the competent writers, all those at the office who can compose emails with proper sentences and punctuation, and then the good writers, those who write and actually make money at it and then — Ta Da! —  the genius writers. Those in their own class, born not made, “divine accidents”. You know who they are, Shakespeare, Dickens, Faulkner. (My favorite author, Jonathan Franzen, comes to mind.)

Is it possible to move from one group to another? Sometimes. The bad writers usually remain in their own basement of horridness, unable to claw their way upwards to a more respectable level but the competent writers can evolve upward into the good writers’ group with the proper amount of practice. Not training, practice. Mr. King does not specifically say that education is not necessary. To the contrary, a degree in English is an excellent way to launch a successful career, and Creative Writing classes and workshops can be fun and interesting, but not required.

Whatcha gotta do then, is get a schedule and stick to it, and write your brains out for the allotted amount of words per day. Not time, words. If it takes three hours to crank out 2,000 words on Tuesday and seven on Wednesday, sobeit. Eventually you will get better. And better and better.

Another thing. When you aren’t writing, read. Read everything. It’s what I’ve been doing lately. There is a suggested reading list in the back of On Writing. I chose three at random, and one from my list of classics to read before the end of 2012 (that didn’t work out too well, replace with “2013”). I also chose a book by Stephen King, The Dead Zone, because it is one of his older ones, and less science fiction-y than some, since this and horror in general are not my usual genre.

He also suggests reading a really awful book. Reading bad books is as helpful as reading good ones. Reading something you consider a real eye-roller serves a couple of purposes. First, it enforces the idea that you can at least write as well as this author, and it is a powerful reminder of what NOT to do. I chose Valley of The Dolls, by Jacqueline Suzanne. In fact, this book is mentioned in On Writing as a good example of literature of questionable value.

Ms. Suzanne reaped in plenty of profits with her tome. I first read it back in the sixties, but want to read it again with a more finely-tuned writer’s eye. If nothing else, it will provide a funny blog post. It brings to mind, 50 Shades of Grey which I blogged about earlier this year. Books like this may have changed over the years, but the premise is still there. Bring on the smut and they’ll keep readin’.  Why read a novel that is filled with deep characters, thoughtful descriptions and believable dialogue when I can get a trip back into the Red Room of Pain?

Here’s my complete reading list for the next month (or so):

  • End of Story by Peter Abrahams
  • One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson
  • The Last Good Day by Peter Blauner
  • The Dead Zone by Stephen King
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Suzanne

Boomer Lit Friday

Perigee Moon Cover jpgI’m participating in a Boomer Blogging Extravaganza which will take place every Friday. It’s a way to bring attention to the new genre of books called Boomer Lit. Click here, Boomer Lit Friday  to go to your one-stop shopping boomer lit blog which will feature snippets from a variety of boomer lit novels. It’a a good place to get a taste of what boomer authors are writing about.

Perigee Moon is the story of a man who has a life crisis, who comes to realize that he must be true to himself and makes the changes necessary to remove himself from a ruined marriage and the ”should do” world in order to have the lifestyle he craves.

The following is another section from Perigee Moon. Kate is trying to break up Luke and Abby. She has accosted Abby in the grocery store and convinced Abby to have lunch with her, where she proceeds to lie to Abby about a dire diagnosis she has just received, and appeal to Abby’s compassion and selflessness to break it off with Luke so Luke and she (Kate) can be together again. She has taken Abby’s cell phone and texted him with it. Luke thinks it’s Abby texting and breaking it off with him, which is why he didn’t go to Abby’s house after work, as he has been doing every day for several months.

Here’s Abby at home. Luke hasn’t come and there is no word from him, which is making her assume a lot of things.

When she wakes it’s seven o’clock. She’s been alternately crying and sleeping for hours. Her head aches, her eyes are swollen, and she feels heavy as if she can’t move her legs over the side of the bed to stand up. But she does and goes to the bathroom and starts the water running in the big tub, adds some bubble bath and lights candles.

It’s dark already. She hears rain on the window. The wind gusts and rattles the screens. She’ll have to put the storms down soon. It’s a hard job and one she dreads, and she had been planning to ask Luke to help her with it. Thinking of him brings fresh tears to her eyes, which are already scratchy. They’ll be swollen for a day or two. She remembers how it had always been. Go on a good crying jag and it’s cathartic while it’s happening but you’ll pay for it the next day.

She decides to get a glass of wine, goes downstairs and there is a half bottle of Cabernet on the counter, opened last night. She takes a glass and the bottle. This could be a long night. A long, cold November night.

She’d thought it possible he might come out like always, and they’d discuss it and then she’d tell him about the lunch with Kate and she wouldn’t assume everything was over between them. If he wanted, or needed, for things to be over between them then she’d let him tell her that. He didn’t come. It’s past seven, he should have been there over an hour before so she knows. He won’t be coming.

He’s with Kate. Kate’s got to him and he’s succumbed. Otherwise, he would have been here as he said he would. He’d never before said he’d be there and then not showed up or at least called to say he’d be late. Something is wrong and Abby knows what it is. He doesn’t have the guts to face her. That’s why he hasn’t come. So much for the vows of honesty between them. Maybe it was too much to hope for, that there could be honesty when it comes to leaving a girlfriend and returning to a wife.

She’s never thought of herself as his girlfriend. She had never been anyone’s girlfriend really, and it would have been nice to contemplate the status of girlfriend back, oh eight hours or so ago, before things had changed so much. Now she is no one’s girlfriend and no one’s wife and no one’s significant other. She is back the way she’d been before June. Alone. Alone with Milly and Buzzer, her only companions in the evenings. The crazy lady who talks to dogs.

Kate had said Luke belongs with her. He will never belong with Abby. No, he belongs with, and to, Kate. And she wonders, now that Kate has said she wants him back, does he realize that was what he’d wanted all along?

Kate is the mother of his children. A big draw for any man, she knows that. It’s why John could never completely commit to her. And Luke won’t be able to either because of that shared experience that she can never give him. The gift of a child, with the melding of chromosomes, half his, half Kate’s. And Kate might be sick, really sick, and she wants him back. How can she, Abby, stand in the way of that?

Boomer Lit Friday

Perigee Moon Cover jpgI’m participating in a Boomer Blogging Extravaganza which will take place every Friday. It’s a way to bring attention to the new genre of books called Boomer Lit. Click here, Boomer Lit Friday  to go to your one-stop shopping boomer lit blog which will feature snippets from a variety of boomer lit novels. It’a a good place to get a taste of what boomer authors are writing about.

Perigee Moon is the story of a man who has a life crisis, who comes to realize that he must be true to himself and makes the changes necessary to remove himself from a ruined marriage and the ”should do” world in order to have the lifestyle he craves.

This excerpt occurs after Luke has initially contacted Abby. It is the second time they’ve seen each other since the reunion. He finally made the call, and Abby invited him out to her house for a simple dinner. As he left, Luke asked Abby to go to a movie and dinner the following Saturday night.

They’ve just left the movie, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, chosen for its PG rating. (Abby had told him she wasn’t ready to see an R-rated movie with him for which she made no apology.)

They decide on seafood for dinner. While they wait for a table, they sit at a wrought iron table outside with a glass of wine. Luke tells Abby he would like to help out in the garden, become her apprentice. She smiles at him when he says this, and tells him he can come as often as he likes.

“I used to have a garden,” he says. “But it was nothing like yours. Just a few things, some lettuce, tomatoes, summer squash. Easy to grow herbs.  But since it’s just me now, I haven’t had one.”

“It’s become a big part of my life, growing, picking, canning, freezing,” she says. “By fall, I’m relieved to go indoors and relax for the winter, but in spring, I’m ready for the next season. The break is good. I feel renewed, ready to go again.”

“I’d like you to teach me,” he says.

“I’d be delighted.”

Author’s note: Of course. She’d be delighted. That’s what she’s thinking. The more she sees of him, the better she likes it.

At a Crossroads: Contrived Plots vs Quiet Stories

IntersectionDuring our lives, we occasionally have periods of lethargy, of standing still, as if on a four-way street corner wondering whether to cross the street, turn left or right, or go back home. And it’s fine when we come to these places, if we stop and ponder what to do next. If we really think about it, rather than just plod on doing what we’ve been doing because that’s what we do.

I’ve been writing for several years now, and I love to write, although I haven’t been commercially successful with it. In fact, the ink is red when looking at income versus expenditures. I’ve thought about quitting, about reentering the work force, about volunteering.

I am confused about all of it. I haven’t worked on a novel in nearly a year now, because I made the decision that I’d market what I have first. It makes it harder to get going in the morning, when faced with marketing. I’d much rather sit down and reread what I wrote the day before, and tweak it, which is how I work.

Marketing is just a swirling mass of stuff. It’s easy to get a book out there, in either print or electronic form, or both, and there are so many good writers and so many good books, that it must be like Halloween to a five-year-old. Where should I go first? Which should I choose? Which is better, best? Which is funnier or more haunting or has the best characters or the best plot or the best action?

With so much competition, and much of it so good, and dare I say, better than my own,  it’s no wonder it’s hard to get books in front of readers.

Sad 3D Man FreeDigital Photos Dot NetFor several months,  I’ve been waking up in the morning with a bad feeling. I’m not moving towards a goal. I’m like a fly at a picnic, I don’t know where to go next. What’s the best way to spend my time?

I think it’s because I’m not working on a novel. I’ve been thinking about another book, but the ideas have been coming slower than usual. I can’t seem to get it going.

The new one will be different from my other novels.

This might be the one. If I can pull this off, and can say to myself that this is the best I have ever written, then I can be satisfied I will have accomplished what I have set out to do.

Okay. So that’s decided.

Meanwhile, I saw a tweet (Twitter must work) from a woman from whom I have taken several classes. And they were mostly good classes — I learned a lot. This class is in story structure, which I thought I could benefit from. My novels are so character-oriented that this time, I want more.

After reading the description of the course, I decided to do it. It lasts for one month, the month of April. Online, very convenient, work at your own pace, and at your preferred level of involvement. Perfect.

Three published authors were mentioned in the synopsis who will contribute to the lectures.  These authors must have great story structures, right? Since they are offering up their expertise?

A good thing to do, thought I, in preparation for this course would be read a book by all of these authors, and dissect the stories and see how each story fits into the structure.

Doesn’t that make perfect sense?

By not mentioning the name of the course or the authors or titles of the books, I can protect their anonymity since I don’t intend to write reviews of either the course or the novels.

Book #1 was the best written of the three. It was funny, sarcastic, cleverly written. Wow, I thought to myself, I am really going to enjoy this book because I love the writing. Even though this is not my usual genre, I am going to really like this a lot. And I will learn so much from it because it will have great writing and I like the main character and the plot will be, like, totally cew-ell. About half way through things started to get confusing. Everyone double-crossed everyone else. There was so much double-crossing going on I was bleary eyed and found myself shaking my head and saying “wha-att?” In the end, there were five murders, IRS agents who were really assassins, an ex-girlfriend who was really a murderer,  murderers murdering other murderers, and the grand finale, the final double-cross by the hero. There was one character who turned out to be a double-crosser and ultimately a murder victim, which still makes no sense to me. It seemed to serve no purpose other than to get the hero (who was a nearly good guy) off the guilt hook.

Book #2 wasn’t so well-written. It started with one murder and one disappearance.  The alleged perpetrator was a character who was written as hugely malign. There wasn’t one shred of decency in this horrible man. Bad to the bone. Nasty, mean, vicious. Accused of the crimes, shipped off to jail. Years later, it was determined that Mr. Bad Guy didn’t really do it. Even though he was 100% evil, he did not commit the murders. So who did? Two murders later, we find out. What a contrived story that was. And the son of the wrongly-accused-yet-horrible-man alleged murderer and the daughter of the wonderful father never-did-no-wrong-to-anybody murdered guy, end up together in the end. Okay! Whatever.

Book #3 was worst of all. Interesting, that I read them in the sequence I did. What starts out as an accidental death on a park trail, (woman pushes man, man falls over cliff and dies) ends up with woman covering up the death because they were arguing at the time about whether to keep a sack of diamonds  which was found on another dead body they happened to encounter along the trail. The evil woman wants to keep the diamonds, the good husband (who recently found Jesus) says no way. This book contained no profanity (“he called me a name you would call a mean woman”) and interspersed throughout were Bible verses and references to being saved. Gulp. Okay, last chapter. The body of the husband was deliberately switched at the morgue with a John Doe. But wait! He wasn’t really dead! He was in a coma. Thankfully, he came out of it on the last page but that’s where the story ended. Oh, and the coma guy’s sister and the coma guy’s best friend got together. Ah.

It’s clear I can’t compete with this kind of stuff. Nor would I want to. I will continue with the class, but comparing my plot with some of the other students’ plots? No way. Let’s just say  — No puedo hacer eso.

I can’t do it. I’m sticking to my Quiet Stories.

3D Man photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.

Boomer Lit Friday

Perigee Moon Cover jpgI’m participating in a Boomer Blogging Extravaganza which will take place every Friday. It’s a way to bring attention to the new genre of books called Boomer Lit. Click here, Boomer Lit Friday  to go to your one-stop shopping boomer lit blog which will feature snippets from a variety of boomer lit novels. It’a a good place to get a taste of what boomer authors are writing about.

Perigee Moon is the story of a man who has a life crisis, who comes to realize that he must be true to himself and makes the changes necessary to remove himself from a ruined marriage and the ”should do” world in order to have the lifestyle he craves.

This excerpt is some internalization by Abby, a few days after meeting up with Luke again, after 45 years. They had seen each other on Friday night at the Reunion, and gone out together on Saturday night and he’d asked if they could see each other when they got back to their respective cities. Abby thinks if he were serious, he’d have called by now. She was sure serious about getting together with him, and she is very disappointed that she hasn’t heard from him.

Abby is a left-winger, an earthy gardener type, who believes in doing the right thing. I liked the character of Abby, she was fun to write, but it was easy to stray into that goody-goody land which might make her character less appealing.

Abby wishes she’d have asked Luke for his numbers too. Women are now allowed to call men. It has long been an acceptable practice. She works outside in the garden for an hour or two each day, then goes inside. Maybe he’s called. She checks voicemail and caller id for a number which could be his. Sunday, after she’d got back home, Monday, Tuesday, then Wednesday. How long did he intend to wait? Maybe he’s had second thoughts. That was always the problem, people had second thoughts, decided no, that hadn’t really been such a good idea after all.

By Wednesday, she decides, figures out, that he probably won’t call. If he had been serious, surely he’d have done it by now. When the phone rings after dinner and caller id says “Private” she feels hopeless but answers it, just in case. It’s possible, people could be “Private” too, isn’t it? But it’s not a person, it’s the Democrats asking for donations, time or money. No, she wants to yell at them. Leave me alone, don’t ask me about this stuff now, I can’t think about it. She feels like crying, she’s that disappointed.

She pours a glass of Pinot Noir and lights several candles in the bathroom and soaks in the big tub until the water goes cold, so she lets some out and adds more hot, something she would never have done under normal circumstances. Usually she is conservative, about everything except politics. Conserving water and heat and gas, so she doesn’t consume more than necessary. Recycle, recycle. Recycling is the way of her life, preserve the earth, leave it in as good shape as possible, don’t be conspicuous in your consumption of anything.

Boomer Lit Friday

Perigee Moon Cover jpgI’m participating in a Boomer Blogging Extravaganza which will take place every Friday. It’s a way to bring attention to the new genre of books called Boomer Lit. Click here, Boomer Lit Friday  to go to your one-stop shopping boomer lit blog which will feature snippets from a variety of boomer lit novels. It’a a good place to get a taste of what boomer authors are writing about.

Perigee Moon is the story of a man who has a life crisis, who comes to realize that he must be true to himself and makes the changes necessary to remove himself from a ruined marriage and the ”should do” world in order to have the lifestyle he craves.

This is another section from Perigee Moon that I especially like. I have blogged about it before, the idea that events happen at a certain time, in a certain order, and cause our lives to be changed because of them. Like Abby and Luke seeing each other at the high school reunion. Luke hadn’t been to a reunion in 35 years, and Abby had never been to one, yet they meet up at their 45th. The excerpt is from Abby’s POV and she thinks of all that happened to cause their paths to cross. I think of this myself sometimes. What if I’d done this instead of that? It’s an interesting thought process.

They are at the Friday night casual event when this takes place. Luke has just asked Abby if she will return with him the following night for the dinner dance, which is a more formal affair.

He wants to come with her, he wants to be with her tomorrow night. She thinks about her Aunt Maude – who’d been dying for the last thirty of her ninety-eight years (or so she’d told anyone who would listen) – and how Aunt Maude had picked this particular time to succumb. But of course, Aunt Maude hadn’t picked the time of her death, it had just happened that way. And what if she, Abby, hadn’t been here tonight? She would never have seen Luke Koslov again and would never have talked to him, and here he is asking if they could go together to the dinner dance tomorrow night. It makes her think that somehow events are planned to coincide and intersect in such a way that it alters the course of a life, or what’s left of a life, as if the person or persons whose life might change because of a chance meeting might be in the eye of an almighty somewhere and deemed important enough that He has designed it for the sole purpose of having them reconnect.

Interesting thought. She likes to think of it. What if. What if Aunt Maude had died last Tuesday, a week ago, and not this Tuesday? What if she hadn’t come for the memorial service? What if she hadn’t arranged to meet up with her cousin, Anne, for lunch at Applebee’s on Thursday? What if she hadn’t run into her old friend Dorie Wester, whom she hadn’t seen in decades, just as Dorie was pushing her 90-year old mother in a wheelchair past the table where Abby sat? What if they hadn’t recognized each other? What if Dorie hadn’t mentioned the reunion? What if Dorie hadn’t suggested she come? What if Dorie hadn’t insisted that she come? What if Abby hadn’t said she would come?

But Dorie had said, “Delia will be there too. It’ll be fun, Abby, you should come, I won’t take no, you better be there, what have you got better to do, anyway?”

She’d finally badgered Abby into saying yes. “Well, okay,” she’d said. “I guess I could go to the Friday night thing.”

And most important, what if Luke hadn’t come? He’d said he rarely came, the tenth was the last, and here he was thirty-five years after that and here she was too.

I’m a Blogger, but am I Versatile?

Ms. Blogdramedy has kindly nominated me for The Versatile Blogger award. You may remember, Blogdramedy sponsored the trend-setting Blogfestivus this past Christmas season, where a number of gluttons for punishment ambitious, aspiring bloggers signed on to write a 243-word story about each of Santa’s reindeer, one per day, for a nine-day period.

versatileblogger
Ms. Blogdramedy, who wisely keeps her true identity hidden, is a house-fixer-upper, a martini-drinker (or so she says) and a wise, yet sarcastic, writer of amusing and insightful bloggery.

So, now I too, can be known as an official The Versatile Blogger, and for such an honor I am probably unworthy. I have been nominated because I “embrace my Boomer babedom in all its glory”.

Is it really that, Ms. Blogdramedy, or is it more like you were desperate to find someone else to offload this award onto? Did you feel that you couldn’t, in good conscience, accept it without duly nominating other under-appreciated bloggers, those who might be just a teensy bit sub-par, the straight man to your comic genius, the Jerry Lewis to your Dean Martin, the Tonto to your Lone Ranger?

Hah! Ms. Blogdramedy probably doesn’t even know who those last two duos are!
But seriously, I am humbly grateful for The Versatile Blogger award, and to earn it I need to pass it on. In order to do that, I have nominated a few bloggers in the BLFBE (Boomer Lit Friday Blogging Extravaganza), who take part to be awarded this auspicious accolade.

Here are the rules. (I just knew there had to be a downside to this.)

  1. Thank the person who gave you this award. (Okay, that’s easy enough.) Thank you, thank you, thank you! to Ms. Blogdramedy.
  2. Include a link to their blog. (I did that. Seven times.)
  3. Select 15 blogs/bloggers whom you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. (I have selected a few Boomer Lit authors taking part in Boomer Lit Friday. To qualify for this award, one must have a blog upon which the Holy Seal of Versatility can be proudly displayed, and also, it must not have been aforeto affixed.)
  4. Nominate those bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award. (Nominated bloggers have the option to ignore this propitious award. Voluntary cooperation is appreciated, but not mandatory.)
  5. Share seven things about yourself. (Seven things? I am not sure I can find that many items even remotely interesting. You nominees, however, feel free to share as much as you like.)

The list of nine nominees are:

drumroll
Shelley Lieber (Elyse Grant) — Author of the Prince Charming Hoax
Checking Off the Bucket List (Sarah Gordon Weathersby) — Author of Tell Them I Died
Claude Nougat The Blog — Author of A Hook in the Sky
Mutinousboomer (Marsha Roberts) — Author of Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer
Incomplete Passes (Linda Lange) — Author of Incomplete Passes
Goodbye Emily (Michael Murphy) — Author of Goodbye Emily
I.O.U. Sex A Novel (Sandra Nachlinger and Sandra Allen) — Authors of I.O.U. Sex
Baby Boomer Novels (Lillian Wade) — Author of Girlfriends
The Crone Club (S. V. Peddle) — Author of The Crone Club

I only nominated nine. .

Please, nominees, feel free to ignore this invitation!

Please. Just leave me alone, already.

Please. Just leave me alone, already.

Seven things about me that 1) you might already know, and 2) even if you don’t already know, you probably don’t care about:

  1. I don’t like sweets. I never eat desserts, except I do like one Dove Dark Chocolate piece after dinner. (See, I told you, you won’t care about this stuff.)
  2. I used to be a pretty good dancer, but alas, I am no longer. (Now I can barely make it through one round of I’m a Wanderer before calling 911.)
  3. I am really good at cleaning out clogged up drains, which I am including here because I just did it. (Blech.)
  4. I like to stay indoors for days at a time. (Especially in winter.)
  5. I avoid left turns, unless at a traffic light with a green arrow. (There is almost always another way to go.)
  6. I like to knit. (The bigger, and more boring the project, the better.)
  7. I am going to write another book. And it might take me a long time. And I’m taking another class first. (And the title might be No Left Turn, but I’m not sure about that.)

3D Man photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.

Boomer Lit Friday

Perigee Moon Cover jpgI’m participating in a Boomer Blogging Extravaganza which will take place every Friday. It’s a way to bring attention to the new genre of books called Boomer Lit. Click here, Boomer Lit Friday  to go to your one-stop shopping boomer lit blog which will feature snippets from a variety of “baby boomer” novels. It’a a good place to get a taste of what boomer authors are writing about.

This excerpt takes place a few weeks after Luke’s divorce from Kate has been finalized. He has returned home to celebrate this first lonely holiday with his parents, and his sister, Barbara who is also divorced. Apparently Luke’s mother, Muriel, has opted to choose ease of meal preparation over proper nutrition. Both Luke and Barbara are shocked by what they find in her kitchen pantry.

On Christmas Eve, Luke and Barbara helped Muriel in the kitchen preparing the turkey, stuffing it with Barbara’s homemade dressing lest they be subjected to Stove Top. Luke peeled potatoes. Barbara and Luke had exchanged a look when Muriel had insisted that instant mashed tasted just as good. Apparently Muriel had succumbed to convenience in the kitchen and now used products which, if the labels were examined closely, would strike terror in the heart of anyone with even a stray thought of proper nutrition.

“Mom, really, these things in your pantry. Some of them are quite gross.” Barbara had a container of a microwavable concoction (no refrigeration needed!) in each hand. “This is on a par with say, spam.”

“There’s nothing wrong with spam,” Muriel said. “I’ve eaten it lots of times, and fried up it tastes like a hotdog.”

“My point exactly. Ever wondered what’s in a hot dog?”

“No, I haven’t. I buy all-beef franks and there’s not a thing wrong with them.” Muriel sniffed at being criticized for her non-label-watching behavior.

“All-beef lips, and eyelids, and assholes.” .

“Don’t buy anything with a label,” Luke said.

“That’s not possible. Especially not today,” Muriel said.

Boomer Lit Friday

Perigee Moon Cover jpgI’m participating in a Boomer Blogging Extravaganza which will take place every Friday. It’s a way to bring attention to the new genre of books called Boomer Lit. Click here, Boomer Lit Friday  to go to your one-stop shopping boomer lit blog which will feature snippets from a variety of “baby boomer” novels. It’a a good place to get a taste of what boomer authors are writing about.

Luke’s wife, Kate, has become a successful realtor and the great entertainer. She likes to party. Luke barely tolerates her coworkers and her events, as he is definitely not a partier.

The office parties started out with obligatory hugs, shoulders bumping while maintaining a minimum of body contact and air-kissing, lips puckered up next to cheeks so as not to disturb impeccably applied lipstick. Oh, so sorry to be late, I have that closing on Monday and at the last minute, wouldn’t you know… blah blah. And then the serious sucking up would start. How good you look in green, Kate and that new hairstyle is so flattering, love your house, love your furniture, love your garden, amazing and fabulous and fantastic and awesome.

Everyone sucked up to everyone else, and aren’t we having fun, and aren’t we just the best of friends, and isn’t it great loving what you do, and loving who you work with? And at that point, when the conversation turned to how happy they all were working for the best boss in the world, old Mel would invariably lift his glass and make a toast, and it would go on and on, about how his employees were as dear to him as his family, and how they all were a family, and finally he seemed confused as to whether they were his family or not his family and got teary-eyed and slobbered in his martini glass and had to be helped back down to the couch before he fell down a step into the sunken family room or tipped onto a glass-topped coffee table.

At one of their summer parties where Luke was the bartender and cook and general go-fer, not to mention he’d be in charge of clean-up as well, he happened into the kitchen to get the barbecue sauce for the chicken he was slow-roasting on the grill. Kate was bleary-eyed and stood in back of the bar as several women hung on or around the bar stools.

“There’s Luke!” She slurred, more like thersh. “Don’t you think my husband is cute? In a duh sort of way?”

Boomer Lit Friday

Perigee Moon Cover jpgI’m participating in a Boomer Blogging Extravaganza which will take place every Friday. It’s a way to bring attention to the new genre of books called Boomer Lit. Click here, Boomer Lit Friday  to go to your one-stop shopping boomer lit blog which will feature snippets from a variety of “baby boomer” novels. It’a a good place to get a taste of what boomer authors are writing about.

This is a section from Perigee Moon where I was trying out my satire and sarcasm, describing the work environment of Luke’s first job. He is newly married, and has taken the first job he is offered, and has doubts concerning his ability to fit into a rather provincial assemblage of coworkers. Here he describes what he sees and hears in the small company’s break room, which is where the women clerks, receptionists, typists and secretaries congregate to smoke, eat lunch and gossip. It is the early 70’s, when it was still okay to smoke at work and since it was early in the computer age, many business functions were performed manually, mostly by women.

And the thirty women went “on break”, and collected in the lunch room in groups of six or eight and smoked until you couldn’t walk through the room without inhaling the equivalent of an entire cigarette, and they talked about their kids and one-upped each other about which of their sons ate the most. He once walked in on a discussion of all-day venison, how easy it was to prepare (even though it took all day) – so tender you won’t believe you’re eating venison! – probably shot by their husbands, and fiancés, and boyfriends wearing red plaid jackets and caps that said Union WS 754 during some week in November when it became legal to gang up on a bunch of unsuspecting deer and shoot them between the eyes, and boy wasn’t killing helpless animals great, and handshakes and slaps on the back. Good job!

Once the deer was butchered it was up to the womenfolk to do something with it, so they seasoned it and cooked it for days in order to try to soften it up so that it could be somewhat chewed. And if it was so tender you’d “never know it was venison”, that seemed to indicate that perhaps venison, in itself, was probably not a delicacy, or even remotely edible, so why eat it at all? And further, once determined that venison is not fit to eat, the question can be asked, why shoot the poor deer in the first place except that he looked so good, so regal, all tied up there on the bumper of the pickup truck and driven through town for all to see, the catch of the day, and it had been so much fun to kill him.

After deer-hunting season, the women talked about all the things they could do with tomato soup, another topic he assumed they found interesting, and on any given day they could be heard competing with each other about babies and labor pains, one-upping each other there too. You’d think they would all be dead or hopelessly torn asunder from the sound of what they went through to birth those little things, now grown into lumps of flesh kept alive by McDonalds and Hostess Cupcakes.