Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holy crap! THE DEPUTY, by the excellent Victor Gischler is available for the Kindle and Nook for FREE for a limited time. This is an excellent modern western noir novel - very hardboiled with some humor peppered throughout and you'll dig it. I promise.

You can read more here on the author's blog too.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Back Flap: Twitchy's Dream

When I was twenty-one, I was living in California with my buddy Rob, unloading trucks on the overnight shift for the largest Wal-Mart in the area. (How I got there is a totally different story) I worked with a whole crew of misfits and weirdos, as is fitting for an overnight crew thirty minutes from Hollywood.

Amongst them was a little Mexican dude we called Twitchy. I think at one point, after I moved back to Idaho, my buddy told me his real name, but I'm not sure I knew it the entire time I worked with him. He was just over five feet tall, slim and had the eyes of a really paranoid rabbit. I don't think he was actually on anything, though it wouldn't be overly surprising, but he seemed to be continually strung out on life in general.

We didn't really chat much with the crew while I worked there, we were kind of the token white guys and the newest to boot, but one night Twitchy started chatting with us about where we were from. When he found out - after a bit of explaining and possibly, charades - what state Idaho was, he got excited and melancholy at the same time, something that can really only be accomplished by a short Mexican at 3am.

There in the darkened hallway leading to the stockroom, Twitchy poured out his hopes and dreams to us. His greatest ambition in life was to move to Idaho, buy a trailer with a porch, a pistola and a cow. Then he could sit on his porch in the evenings before bed and watch his cow. (And presumably use his pistol to celebrate at weddings or chase off snakes or something, he didn't get into that.)

That was the extent of his dreams. After telling us about it, he got a look on his face that was almost heartbreaking in it's simplicity. It was the face of a child on December 18th after sitting on Santa's lap. I'll never forget the little man's simple imagery, how such a small, basic existence could be the pinnacle to a man's existence. In a way, I felt pity. I wanted to become rich and famous. Write a best-selling novel, draw a comic book series, act in a movie, hell, I was happy with the dream of meeting a beautiful woman and living in an elaborate house large enough to need a ladder in the library.

But then and now, I think I envied him more than anything. I often get so caught up in the "What-Ifs" and the "If this, then that"s of my life that I don't stop and realize how lucky I've been. I grew up poor, I remember walking to the grocery store with the last of our food stamps in my hand like they were gold, the nights in my room when I could hear my mother sobbing quietly about bills. At times it was hard and throughout, I had fantasies of making it big, countless, myriad variations, each resulting in a fabulous life for me and my loved ones.

And the whole time I had a wonderful life around me. Family that loved me, friends I could count on. Two full floors of books at the public library. It made me who I am today, and that guy ain't too shabby.

I have a beautiful wife, family that loves me and friends I can count on. I own two dogs that weigh as much as a cow and I have a trailer that I could sit on the steps and watch them poop in front of if I really wanted to. No pistol, but I am starting to teach myself to cook Mexican food, so you never know.

I still dream big, but at the same time, I've learned to love where I am in life, to appreciate how lucky I've already gotten. This is a picture my mom loves, and it could have taken the place of this entire post....
I think it's a great reminder to be thankful for the simple things in life.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

There's no Wri in my NaNoWriMo.

I'd planned on writing a novel for National Novel Writing Month, I really had. I have a great story, a couple of thousand words written as a nice, thorough plot, I've even started up with some cover design elements, but last night night I officially decided not to participate.

At least, not in the full spirit and madness of the month. I'll still plug away at Falling Domino when I have the time and the urge, but for me, apart from outside influences and obligations (Inventory and Christmas prep at work, a few other projects) November has become a different acronym:


Neal's Novel Finishing Month!

I have two novels that I'm in the finishing stages of right now; Mr Pale Steps Out, which I wrote last year for NaNoWriMo, and Graves, a zombie novel I started three or four years ago.  Mr. Pale just needs a nice breeze through revision and Graves is about the same. So instead of setting those aside in favor of fresh meat, I'm diving into these seasoned piles of flesh and pounding them into finished dishes in November.

It's hard though. I'm still keeping up with my friends and online acquaintances, tracking their progress and man, I want to join in! I have characters in me dying to get out - to kiss and kill and plot and scheme. But there are those ahead of them that deserve their due first. Writing. What a cool gig.