Statues in the Cloud (Novel Tease)

I’ve just finished a sketch draft of a new novel, tentatively titled “Statues in the Cloud”. The novel is pretty ambitious. Who knows if I’ll ever finish or when I’ll finish (four or five years is my best guess). But it’s important to celebrate the completion of things — even small steps. So with that in mind, I present you the first two paragraphs from the sketch draft.


*For those of you who are interested, a “sketch draft” is the step before a first draft. It is just a series of scenes and explorations in a somewhat organized format to help understand what plot elements and characters work.


The Tease


Once upon a time, perhaps ten years ago, perhaps longer, the states of waking and dream became more and more similar. Then, suddenly, I was healed. I thought perhaps that it was the telling of a particular story that made the difference between the awake-state and the dream-state clear.
Now I wonder, Am I dead? It was hard for me to ask this question and not smile just a little. I wasn’t dead. I was older than I ever thought I would be, and in my own small way, I was happy. I had my books. I had my stories. I had a rich internal life where people — real people — lived and played. But every once in awhile, I would be going for a walk and I would feel in my bones that I had already died.

Movie Pitches! Cuz a Writer’s Gotta Eat


As we all know, Hollywood executives are constantly on social media scouting for prime script-writing talent. At this very moment, they are developing algorithms to mine the internet for cinematic gold.


So, here you are executives! Sign me now, before another film studio snatches me up.


Leprechaun 8- Air Conditioner Repair


An air conditioner repairman named Larry opens up an air conditioner to repair it. A leprechaun appears and tells him that no leprechaun has ever mastered the art of air conditioner repair. He teaches the leprechaun and receives a pot of gold. However, now that the leprechauns have taken over the air conditioner repair business, Larry’s friends are now out for revenge.  


Speed 3 – A Writer’s Workshop


A man finds himself in a writer’s workshop. “Whoa,” he says. Suddenly he’s talking like Keanu Reeves. He gets a phone call from a sinister mastermind. “I have sent you 12 years into the past. You’ll be in a workshop with Stephanie Meyers where she will have to explain the value of the first chapter of Twilight work to a classically trained writing professor with French postmodernist leanings. If you don’t defend her novel chapter, a bomb in the class will explode; if you allow any member of your workshop to slander her work without defending it, the classroom will explode; if you try to play Tetris on your phone while they are discussing her work, the classroom will explode. Say, ‘whoa’ once if you understand.” “Whoa!” the main character replies. And thus, begins the adventure of “Speed 3 – Writer’s Workshop.”


The Pitchman


An old school salesman with the motto “Always pitch them hard!” lands in heaven, but just barely. He tries to pitch the almighty on projects and products to improve things — including introducing classics such as “Shake Weight,” “Shamwow!” and “Bowflex”. Mayhem ensues as residents of heaven are dissatisfied with the proliferation useless crap to their simple Garden of Eden. The G-man decides that where he really needs the pitchman is on the shoulder of the guys about to stray from good. Finally, the pitchman is back in action — this time for the good of the G-man himself.


Baby Vampires


A baby is dropped on the doorstep of an unsuspecting Transylvanian couple. Little do they know that the baby is the son of Dracula. In day care, the baby Dracula bites the other babies. With an epidemic of baby vampires on the loose, who are they going to call? Baby Van Helsing! With his onion-flavored milk bottle and baby-rattle stakes, he attempts to save the world from this adorable scourge!  


IKEA Furniture (A Dreamworks Picture)


An animated movie about IKEA furniture that attempts to solve geopolitical problems. As more and more countries fall apart as a result of famine, disease, civil war, and extremism, who has the courage to put it all together? IKEA furniture!


The IKEA furniture go to Somalia, Syria, and the Congo to take on the warlords. But the warlords don’t know that these IKEA furniture have manuals to put together everything. Despite their best efforts the IKEA furniture can’t quite put it all together — until the find the missing piece not in their IKEA manuals: love.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory vs. Grampa Joe


Several years after the dramatic events of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Grampa Joe has been muscled out of the business for various misdeeds — like trying to harvest the organs of Oompa Loompas. Now, he’s out for revenge. He’s suing Charlie and his Chocolate Factory with the help of Slugworth and the families of the deceased children — and one other ally: Johnny Cochran. Charlie must field a crack team of Oompa Loompa lawyers and a new creation of the Chocolate Factory — extra chocolatey Johnny Cochran.


Well, that’s it for now, Hollywood. I await your calls.


(Dear reader, which of these movie ideas would you greenlight?)


Like what you read? Why not check out more fun, literary word stuff with “ReejecttIIon- A Number Two” here:

Review of David David Katzman’s A Greater Monster

I sit down to write the review of this book. The slightest bit of blackness on the cover slides off and turns into a black pill…hmmmm….


I avoid eating it, but the book slowly grows legs—does its best Bill Cosby impression before turning into a city politician and attempting to steal my shoes. I didn’t know the book would try to do that. I would look at the warning label on the book, but the book is now off to other pursuits.


The book is now my deadbeat roommate—city politics is light on samba, and besides, he shrugs and explains lamely.


It’s the future now, and owe what a future is shall be—or maybe it’s not. It’s hard to tell if waking up after 3 pm constitutes “the future.”


The book looks less like trippy surrealist art and more like accounting…


In offices somewhere boring people talk about sphinxes rolling around in space helmets and riding across rivers on the tips of penises as if they were compact cars with low gas mileage (riding around on giant penises is actually the “greenest” method of travel in the future—at least according to my new accounting book).


Writing books like A Greater Monster is an utterly practical pursuit in this past 3 pm future. I try to formulate eclectic word bombast, but instead end up writing an editorial to Christian Science Monitor that argues for greater oatmeal consumption. My mom shakes her head in worry—“If you can’t write eclectic, electrifying prose, how will you eat? No accounting firm will want you.”


I do what all rebels do in the future…go to business school. Book called Greater Monster, having long given up his quest to be my roommate and/ or be a city politician, follows me to business school. It won’t be like Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School, he explains. Mostly, you just wear a suit and spend the day trying to avoid getting stuff on your tie.

And that’s how you become a rebel in the future.


But I digress…


The gummy black pill, eEye, Sasha—these things—these very potentially real things: constant surveillance, lost love, addiction…they matter the way business school matters, I try to explain to the book.


It’s at this point that he points out I have mustard on my tie…at this rate I’ll fail out very soon.


The bottom line: it’s like modern art, I yell, like a lazy teenager with turrets.


Try again, the book says, I think you mean it’s like contemporary post-modern art.


Modern, contemporary, post-modern, whichever happens in the far off future of past 3 pm.


I try again. Bottom line: It’s like Logan’s Run meets Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.


Catchy, the book says, and definitely something I can sell to a movie executive. He goes to the closet and shows me a tied up Michael York. Just in case, he explains.

Book named Greater Monster is in a very practical mood today.


I say so—Book named Greater Monster, you’re in a highly practical mood today.


He responds by pointing to my tie and I find that I have chocolate on it now (in addition to the mustard).


At this rate, I’ll never graduate from business school.


Wrap it up, he suggests.

I smile, clean off my tie, untie Michael York, get on the podium and proclaim: This is an age old story—man works at cybertech security company, man takes strange tar-like drug, man becomes lizard in space suit in surrealistic world; book with lizardman in it makes me go to business school, Michael York still in perfect health despite being tied up in closet for a while, the far off future of after 3pm not so bad.


I smile, book named Greater Monster smiles, book review comes to happy conclusion.


Thank you, Michael York.


Five stars! And no, I’m not in business school…yet.


Micro-Author Interview with Libby Heily

The following is a short interview with Libby Heily.

Libby is the author of an excellent book entitled “Tough Girl”
You can read my review of that book here:
What does being an indie author mean to you?

Hmmm. Let’s see. It means doing a lot of work and research and learning about book promotion and finding your audience. It also means putting out work that you’re proud of and not compromising.

Being indie, I can explore and experiment and I have no one to answer to other than my readers. Right now, I’m taking a chance by publishing my first ever serial, “Our Beloved Dictator.” It’s a darkly comedic somewhat satirical story that will take place over the course of 26 weeks. Each episode is roughly 1000 words. The story follows George, a hapless twenty-something, as he encounters a dictatorship in a small town in VA but it also branches off into the lives of the people living in the town. I think of it as story set up like a flak cloud. I don’t think I could do publish my own serial on my website if I were with a big publishing house.

What’s your favorite sentence or paragraph from one of your books? What does it mean to you?

I’m not sure about favorite, but the first sentence that came to mind is from Tough Girl. Tough Girl is the name of Reggie’s imaginary friend who is a sci-fi hero and comes from an extremely rough background. When anther character references her he says, “Tough Girl. It’s not a name, it’s a warning.”

The reason I like that sentence is because it’s actually about Reggie. When it’s said about TG, the warning part is meant to say that she’s such a badass, you better watch your back. When it’s the tagline of the novel, it means that Reggie is in trouble and people need to look out for her.

What advice would you give other indie authors starting out?

Write as much as you can and put your work out for critique. Learn to write and write well. Read a ton. Start googling book promotion now, because it takes a long time to learn.

What question would you like to see in future interviews?

What else do you love to do besides write and read?

What are your writing quirks and habits?

I keep tons of notebooks. Every project has it’s notebook and I take notes, sketch out scenes and plan the plot. I am addicted to notebooks.

What’s children’s cartoon best represents your personality?

I get told all the time that I’m either Peppermint Patty from the Peanuts (I’m a tomboy) or Daria from Daria–I’m sarcastic and generally underwhelmed.

How do you see the indie scene in 50 years time?

I think it depends on the tech. My guess, we’ll see a rise of small pockets of readers that are incredibly devoted to certain authors. It might be possible to have several hundred incredibly loyal fans with only a handful of writers really being well known.
Thank you Libby for letting me interview you.

A Strange and Distant Land (Summer 2001)

I was poor, but not hungry. Young, barely twenty. Now I’m old.

Rainy days make for the best recall days, for that summer especially. There were things about myself that come to me like scraps of paper found in a waste basket.

I read the first scrap: Greatness seemed beyond my grasp.

More scraps come to me: I was lonely but surprisingly content.

I remember it rained a lot. I remember being so beach-starved I would take walks with backpack stuffed full of books, a notepad. It rained, so I wore my rain coat as I walked.

I had a job at a coffee shop. And the beginning of friendships. But my dad was getting worse. But that was temporary. He would get better. Young as I was, I worried that all bad things were permanent. I worried nothing would ever get better.

I loved walking through Pompano Beach. It gave me the illusion that I was a traveler in a strange and distant land. I was too young, poor, naive, weighed down by impossible dreams to ever have the chance to travel. So I enjoyed my walks through Pompano. If you have a deep interior life, normal things can seem strange and distant.

I would write little bits of this and that. As much as a place could impress on a twenty-year-old mind. My future seemed to be rushing at me faster than I could handle. Small walks in Pompano helped to turn the tide of inevitably.