Category Archives: Path to Publication

i’m still not sure how I met Elle Michael River

My editor is a better writer than me. i am OK with that.

I am not sure, exactly, how we met, but like one or two other people I have stumbled upon during this writing journey – Shari Stauch is another – I am deeply grateful and a little in awe.

She scared me when I realized she was going to review my work. Elle gave me a better review than I deserved. It is astounding to me – how I get to work with people of this caliber.

This is an except from Elle’s blog.


By Elle Michael River

When Jesus walked into the nuthouse, I knew things were going to get interesting. Our savior wore a gray t-shirt, ripped jeans, and a pair of orange, converse sneakers. An angry red sore oozed over his fat, brown lips, and he had the tell-tale bruising of a black eye almost healed. He was smiling. I guess he knew something we didn’t. He bounced up and down on the balls of his feet and hummed what sounded a bit like Jingle Bells.

No one else paid Jesus much attention. It was close to lunchtime, and meals were a serious business in the nuthouse. I was bringing up the caboose of unit B2’s lunch line, picking at my overgrown nails, when the singing began.

“Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almiiighty!”

Jesus’ crisp tenor pierced through discussions of Connect Four triumphs and whether there would be pie. Everyone stopped short at his sudden serenade. Silence. Here was our savior, smiling at us, his teeth a rancid, smoker’s yellow.

“Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Praise ye the Looord!”

Jesus wasn’t a very good singer.

Pete let out a bark of laughter and turned his crooked smile to Jo and me.

“Wow, this one’s even better than Crazy Katie! Someone screwed up downstairs,” he said. He rolled his eyes in that Pete way.

A stiff, brunette woman wearing nurse’s white came by with her clipboard and began to count us off by twos for lunch. A line of dark lipstick had smeared beyond the left of her smile. I couldn’t stop staring at it. She called my number – forty, the last in line – and I shuffled forward, sucking at my lips. She gave me a weird look, but I cast my gaze to the ground. I didn’t like being last. My favorite number was nine, but I wasn’t always fast enough to count eight places and wedge myself in. It was easier to be number forty.

Jesus was all but forgotten during our meal. Hunger has a way of taking over your brain until all the mashed potatoes are gone. Pete, Jo, and I always sat together at lunch. We weren’t really crazy, not like the others. The doctors couldn’t keep us for long when they had actual psychos like Katie to deal with. The three of us stuck together because it was important to have allies in the nuthouse.

Crazy’s contagious, you know?

(Please click link to continue on to Elle’s site and to read more)




People tell me I’m a good writer. That’s a stretch. I’m sure they are referring to the final product. That, to me, is a great honor. It is hard to describe the feeling when someone says good things about my work. It is more than a quick stroke of the ego. The positive feedback touches something very deep inside me. As does the criticism – always deserved – and IS the side of the writing process that leads to actual growth.

I am equally grateful for the criticism or the praise. It takes some work to appreciate criticism. Learning to say “he/she is right” and start over is tough, but it makes you a better writer. Suck it up, buttercup.

All that said, you people are nuts. Continue reading Writing

Old Glory, Faded Glory, Ragged Glory

I’ve seen a lot of American flags strapped to pickups trucks lately. I see them at night, I see them in the rain, I see them touching the lumber and garbage in the back of the trucks; beer cans and coffee cups and bags that I assume are destined for the local landfill, or the side of some back road. I see them flown, on pickup trucks, alongside Confederate flags.

I’ve never been much of a flag waver. I was raised around men who took the flag and what it stood for very seriously. They took patriotism – not nationalism – very seriously. Guys who were in fights like the Battle of the Bulge and Pearl Harbor in WWII – I actually had two uncles at Pearl Harbor – and some who saw some really heavy, terrifying things in Vietnam. Some got medals. Some threw those medals away. Continue reading Old Glory, Faded Glory, Ragged Glory

From the New – Still Untitled Mess

He turned and looked at me and said, “These machines, this equipment was built by a good man, good men who went to work at seven in the morning every day and brought their sandwiches in bags and on weekends they played baseball and drank beer and they took their families on picnics on Sundays. When they died people went to their funerals and genuinely wept because men like this would be missed in a community, the community was somehow diminished by the passing of men like these. They built things that were good and strong. These old machines are their legacy. They still work and do the job they were designed to do long after these men have passed. We will never be men like this, we will never understand men like this. We are another type of men. There is no good in men like us. Sometimes I come out to this barn just to be alone with this equipment and try to understand what it must’ve been like to be the man who built such things. To be a good man. A simple and good man.”

Then he looked over at me and said, “What will our legacy be, nephew?”

With that he turned toward the barn door, stopping to wait for me as I let his words sink in.

As I joined Unk he continued, “We live in a world without walls to contain us or boundaries. But, we come to learn we cannot trust anyone. Allegiances and allies change, seemingly by the minute. Your right hand, the guy you always trusted, you end up putting a plug in him because he fucked you over. Life happens, keep moving.

We lose touch with who we were, we lose our life before this. Every day in the life pushes us farther and farther away. We lose the simple things. We lose right and wrong, they are ever changing. Right and wrong are simply a result of circumstance. A condition of the now.

30 Second Elevator Pitch – Third Step

elevatorSo, I was told that before my book officially “hit the streets” (sounds ominous, right?) that I should have an elevator pitch or speech.

Basically that means what I can say about my book in the amount of time I’m stuck on an elevator with some poor, unexpecting, future reader…

Here’s my shot — what do you think?

30 Second Elevator Pitch:

Heroin and prescription drug and alcohol abuse in this county is out of control. Worse now than when I was young. The war on drugs is a complete and dismal failure.

I survived this Hell. I found the twelve steps, fell apart at the Third Step: Continue reading 30 Second Elevator Pitch – Third Step

The Publish Button, Complete With Sireeeeens

Frustrated man at a desk

So, here we are at the very end. This is where things start to get interesting. After six months of bitching and complaining about friends and editors and marketing people, after all that screaming and blaming the universe, I am now down to the last 300 printed pages to read myself, out loud, Shari’s orders.

This mess of a manuscript has been professionally edited three times,  it has cost me all my friends. It’s been read by 25 beta reader and corrected it a thousand-thousand times. It  now comes down to this. Continue reading The Publish Button, Complete With Sireeeeens

Our Hero Meets His Match…

1024px-Book_burningSettling in and enjoying the heady aroma of my book burning in the fire pit, I remember I have to call Rob. You know Rob by now, the guy with the sound advice. The guy who actually helps me and wants me to succeed? The guy who’s advice I finally decided to take? I call him, the conversation goes like this:

Rob: “How’s the book coming?”

Me: “Firepit, I think I see page 278 going up now. That was a good page, I’m gonna miss it.”

Rob: “Why don’t you calm down and let us edit it.” Continue reading Our Hero Meets His Match…

Self Publishing Becomes Self Loathing…

forest-fire-1164329_1920And so self publishing becomes self loathing… I hate this book. I hate me for ever starting it. I hate every word. All 128,000 stupid, fucking, misspelled, incorrectly punctuated, echoed, passive words.

I hate editing. I’ve read this nightmare 12 times. No one should have to do that – ever.

I hate Frankie, I hate his friends. Somedays I want to rewrite it just so everyone dies. Maybe end it with a nuclear war so that no one is left except the cockroaches, but then a cockroach would say, “Great job, but there is a typo on page four.” I hate the cockroaches. Continue reading Self Publishing Becomes Self Loathing…

Snake oil… Step right up! Or, How do we get published, really?

Snake-oil salesman Professor Thaddeus Schmidlap at Enchanted Springs Ranch, Boerne, Texas, USA 28650a
So, adrift, me and the butchered great American novel (see last post), I turn to the source of all of man’s accumulated knowledge. As G.W. Bush called it, “The Google.” How to get published…

I The Googled all kinds of stuff – self publishing – literary agents – how the fuck do I get anyone to read this mess – editors… I need an editor, one who is not insane.

I stumble on this one site, looks very legitimate.  They don’t take every submission, they only accept ten percent; acceptance is practically a sure bet to a huge publishing deal. They want the first chapter, synopsis, a bio… Continue reading Snake oil… Step right up! Or, How do we get published, really?