Behind the scene: Fair Deal

1onback.signedgettingthingsdoneIdea

 

This one is kinda nifty actually.

I am an avid read of postsecret.com, which you can get to by clicking on that secret to the left. Or just typing in postsecret.com, unless you’re lazy. Or lack the ability to type.

Postsecret is a brilliant website where people from all over the world send this guy, Frank Warren, their secrets on postcards, some are sad, some are funny, some are a bit creepy. But all of them make you think about the billions of other humans on this planet.

I discovered postsecret when I was in college and every once in a while I would come across a secret that made me think, “whoa, that would be a phenomenal story.”

So I took a bunch of those secrets and turned them into stories.

Revision

This is the only one that is worthwhile. One of the secrets is in Gloria’s confession that when she drives under the overpass she thinks all she has to do is not turn with the road and she will find some peace. There are others hidden in their between this man and woman. I’ve lost and cut out quite a few over the years, but that’s the one that haunts me.

One of the reasons why the other stories didn’t make it was that these secrets are so personal. I don’t want to take advantages of someone else’s suffering and turn it into what to me is a fine art, but to them is just something filthy. Something worthy of a post secret.

Of the actual story:

“A Fair Deal” or as it was originally titled “The Whore of Tuckerton” was a sort of post secret to myself for a while.

I don’t like writing from a woman’s point of view. I’m not sure why.  I feel uncomfortable and I don’t think I do it well, though no one has ever complained.

So for years I worked on this story, amused by it, saddened by it.  I think it’s one of my best, but I was afraid to show it to any of my workshop groups. The only reason I eventually did was because one of my friends caught me doodling a picture of a woman on a tractor and I couldn’t explain her away. That doodle is the cover by the way.

Read it here.

A Fair Deal cover

Behind the Scenes: Thug’s Night Off

Idea

Sweetness and I spend far too much time improvising various theater scenes, characters, and plays.  One of our least effective, but very funny skits was a clown routine involving a gay yoga instructor, Tristan, and a mob capo, named Joe Gianni. It’s a very silly skit.  For example, Joe doesn’t understand why vegans exist in this world (or how to pronounce the word), Tristan using the power of retail diagrams turns their Family into the most powerful in the city, mostly because the Don has dementia and thinks Tristan is his dead wife.

Here’s a sample of the dialogue:

Tristan: I’m performing an inventory to reduce Shrinkage.

Joe: Shrinkage? What the hell is that?

Tristan: Oh… it’s a retail word. It’s basically theft.

Joe: Theft?

Tristan: Basically

Joe: Basically theft?

Tristan: Yeah.

Joe: So why didn’t you just fuckin’ say theft?

Tristan: Because it’s…

Joe: Like if someone goes up to one of my drug dealers and shoots him and steals all his product. I’m not gonna call that something different. It’s fucking theft.

Tristan: Fine an inventory reduces fucking theft.

Joe: Are you mocking me?

Tristan: No. I was being sardonic.

Joe: Sardonic? Sar-fucking-donic? Do you know what I do to sar-fucking-donic hipsters, like you? I bend them into my favorite yoga position, which is horseshoe, then I kick them across the street so that they swing around that streetlamp with my shoe dangling from their hippy ass.

Tristan: That was oddly specific.

Joe: This inventory thing is a waste of my time.

Tristan: No it’s not. Shrink also accounts for free give-aways and employee discounts-

Joe: Free give-aways?  What are you saying? My boys are smoking the coffee?

Tristan: No, but some of my girls drink the coffee… the real coffee. Or put out too much milk and it goes bad, or drop a cookie. So not theft, but a disappearance of product without it being paid for.

Joe: If any of my product disappeared without it being paid for, there would be hell to pay.

Tristan: Oh yeah? How do you know?

Joe: What?

Tristan: If you don’t keep inventory how do you know how much of your product has been sold and how much has disappeared?

Joe: *takes a breath to answer then can’t…* I… I just do.

Tristan: You should keep inventory. You’d be amazed at your shrink. Business 101.

Joe: I don’t have any shrink.

Tristan: Johnny is standing on the corner selling his weed.  A pretty girl comes up and wants to buy.  Does he give her more because she’s pretty?  Does he bring a little to his friends so they can get high? Does he short change that asshole he doesn’t like?

Joe: Vinny, who’s this Johnny fucker stealing my drugs?

You get the idea.

One of the things that most tickled my funny bone, was Tristan’s burgeoning relationship with Vinny, the  big dumb soldier, who has a dream of becoming a masseuse and is very gentle with cavity searches. One evening, the tickle found it’s logical way out of my system and I wrote down this story.

Revision

I’m not as campy as I used to be.  I had written it about 15,000 words longer and included an actual first date, the sex in the backroom that leads to the first date, the continuation of the story from this point, etc. But the tone was all over the place. Sometimes, Tristan was in legitimate danger of being killed (by Vinny at Joe’s request) and other times there were ridiculous conversations like the one above. In the end, I hammered out the little story you see on the site and put the rest of that material in the proverbial storage shed with the hopes that one day my flash and camp will mature into something usable.

It worked with Evasive Love.

Thug's Night Off cover

You can read it here.

 

Behind the Scenes: Alien Abduction

Alien Abduction cover 2Idea

I’ll be honest, this is a silly story with a silly, silly beginning.  I was playing Sims 3 one night (I’m an obsessive Simmer) and one of my little doll men was abducted.  Gary just happened to be gay (does that surprise you?) and came back alien pregnant, which has nothing to do with his gayness really, but I like to link unrelated ideas together sometimes and abuse punctuation; it’s my prerogative as a writer and someone who knows a bit about grammar to create unnaturally long sentences that don’t necessarily makes sense and certainly should have ended long before that semicolon.

Anyways…I over-think things. While I was playing the game, raising the alien baby, I couldn’t help but wonder if Gary enjoyed his close encounter.  Was the baby a true parasite, attached to Gary’s belly, bursting forth ala John Hurt?  Or was this an illegitimate love child?  Was the other Dad ever going to make himself known?

Well, my car ended up flooding. Gary and Gary II were destroyed in a watery grave, but it got me thinking about alien abductions and anal probing.  This story ensued.

Behind the Scenes: The Writing Tutor

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This one is actually painfully obvious to those who know me.

I’m a writing tutor.

Okay, not now.  Now, I’m a professional editor.  But I used to be a writing tutor.

In my first writing center, we had a very fun, very close knit community of tutors, at least two of which I still talk to today and we all hung out until all hours of the day in “the lab.”  The lab was a room with floor to ceiling windows, a couch that we all regularly fell asleep and drooled on, and a back corner that we called “L.J.’s office” because it’s where I sat, where I hung my print outs, where my tutees knew to wait for me, and where I could be found writing any time I wasn’t in class.  The saddest thing about graduating was seeing that my “office” had been moved out of the corner to allow for a new table. Also, they took down the disembodied pirate head hanging from the ceiling. Losers, right?

I feel I should mention that this is not a true story.  I don’t know any Josh and I had the evil librarian look mastered by the time I went to college.

Revision

This is actually the first pornographic story I published under my own name.  I mean to write a novella length work on a similar premise some day, but until then, enjoy!

 

Read “The Writing Tutor” here

Behind the Scenes: Before the Rain

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In the summer of 2006, while in college and working overnight shifts in a food market and giving ghost tours in Ocean City, I happened to see a Rembrandt exhibit in Philadelphia.  One of the things that most stayed with me was that the great Rembrandt, master painter, portraitist, and otherwise upstanding gents, had sketched a  series of of dirty etchings.  Like the one above “Monk in a Cornfield”.  It was painted (sketched?  I’m not an artist, wiki it) in 1646 and is considered Baroque, which is funny considering the act it’s depicting.

Being the dirty twisted bastard I am, it took me a while to realize it wasn’t a dude Padre was fucking.  Rembrandt drew all his ladies in these etching with stocky muscular legs and she’s wearing a dress… or she’s a he and another monk, I guess.  I don’t know they told me it was Hetro.

And that didn’t stop me.

On the bus home, I types up Ciaran’s story (he was Cyril at the time) and it was actually originally a very campy, comedic kind of story. Maybe about three pages long, it showed the deed and then a diva-style hissy fit about the nature of God and homosexuality.

Revision

Then a professor gave me a book called Before Stonewall, which discussed the history of being gay before the civil right movement in America.  All the articles dealt with America’s early history (that I remember anyway…  I had shit to do that summer, hoagies to make, stories to tell, hotties to… look at).  I do know it made me think about this story and I re-wrote it with the diva hissy fit toned down and made part of Cyril’s thoughts, making the only dialogue in the piece his outcry of “Oh God.”  It was much more serious and probably my first literary erotica as it dealt with more than just cock and balls… though meditations on God is quite hard for me to separate from cock and balls.  He’s called the Big Guy for a reason.

So there is sat on my computer for… six years, shit I’m getting old.

I returned to it again recently while appearing as Friar Laurence in Manly Squeeze’s Romeo and Juliet.  Manly Squeeze had a brilliant interpretation of the play, not the tragedy of the kids, but as the tragedy of unbridled passion.  Romeo who kills two people in the play and threatens a shit ton of others (it’s in the script, check it) was portrayed as insane with grief at the end, like full-on crazy Joker-ish in the tomb with Paris.  Juliet was tearing-her-hair, snotty-nosed tears, screaming suicidal.  It was not a sanitized or pretty version of teenage love and the families were the  figures of denouement (why is that word spelled like that!  Ug, the French) and passion had to be the motivation for each character.

For Laurence, I did a lot of research into Franciscan monks (considered the wisest men in Shakespeare’s time so R + J are really fighting fate and God himself when Laurence can’t help them.   A fucking plague gets in the way!  Great example that even hetros can have the Big Guy forbidding their love).  Most of Friar Laurence’s lines are sermons and mini-monologues ( had forty minutes of lines on my mp3 and that was a quick read through to get the words and stanchion) so clearly God and his will was Laurence’s passion, but then I played with the idea that Laurence was gay for Romeo (because our Romeo was a really hot Japanese kid who I would like to… look at some more because I dearly love my Manly Squeeze.).

It made me think of “Before the Rain” and I took out the story, read it, considered it and eventually rewrote what you see today.  Anyways… “Before the Rain” was not porny enough for any magazines (though it did get me a few editors who wanted less high-brow stuff and eventually picked up some of my college fantasies).  The story was also too explicit for literary magazines, so there is sat on my computer for my enjoyment.  Then an editor who loves to publish what she tells me to write and reject my original stories suggested I indie-pub “Before the Rain” and other good-but-not-what-we’re-looking-for material.  So I did.

Today

I don’t know if there’s a future in the story.  I feel like I would be cheating to take Ciaran’s struggle with God and lust outside of the time period he’s in.  But I’m not much for historical romance and I can’t think of a satisfying ending in the fifteenth century.  So this story will probably remain as a short erotic scene.

By the way, that sexy cover image was all me… and Rembrandt (it’s called Titus as Monk and it was done in 1660).  But I added the text and I… am not as impressive as I want to be…

Read “Before the Rain” here:

 

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. –Oscar Wilde