Renegade Cover Art

Thanks to a blog post by my friend and much-admired writer Michael Graeme, I went back to look at some of the books I’d posted ages ago on the (rather dodgy)website Free-Ebooks.net (tip, you can self-publish there for free as long as you side-step their efforts to get your money). There I was surprised to find they had created and posted all-new covers for several of my books. I’m not complaining. It’s a pretty obscure site that never generated much interest in my stories . I just find it fairly hilarious. Here are some of their attempts:

 

My favorite is probably Secret Sidewalk (perhaps because it is my personal favorite of all my books) though it captures nothing at all of the content. Snapdragon Alley is not so bad either.

Really Bad Fan Fiction #1: Spiderman

Peter Parker, the young superhero slash photographer, was out with his camera wandering around the truly shit parts of the city. He visited a homeless encampment under the freeway and, inspired by the works of Dorothea Lange, took a number of heart-rending photos of some unfortunates who live there. They were dizzy from hunger and dirty from outdoor living, and there was nothing that Peter Parker or Spiderman could really do for them. He could shoot webs from his wrists and that would be of no help whatsoever. He could swing from pillar to post all day long beneath that filthy iron superstructure and not one single rag would turn to even a hint of far-off riches. Peter Parker took his camera and his photos back to the Daily Bugle where he showed them to his tyrannical editor, Mr. Jameson. Jameson took a healthy bite out of his cigar and growled, “get the fuck out of my office you little pipsqueak, and don’t ever try to sell me this kind of stupid sentimental sob story ever again. No one really gives a fuck about these homeless people. They are no one’s priority, not now and not ever. Now go out there and find me some awesome shots of Spiderman kicking some bad guy’s ass. That’s what the people want.” Parker left the office feeling low and later confided his feelings to his girlfriend Mary Jane, but she was also kind of grossed out by the pictures. “I don’t even want to know”, she said. Mary Jane was just like everybody else. She was the girl next , and she was you too, and you know it. Peter Parker decided right then and there to renounce violence and crime-fighting forever. If I can’t help people who really need help, he thought, why should I go around supporting the police state, which can and does get along just fine without me? I might as well get a real job.

I gave it my all. Now I want my all back.

I thought I had a great idea last night, in the middle of the night, while I was sleeping. I tend to narrate in my dreams, and in this dream I was not only narrating the dream but deciding that this was a kind of narrating that I could carry over into the waking life, and that it would work quite well. The idea was to write just the beginning, the middle, and the end of a story. With huge gaps in between. So it would be like the first five minutes of a movie, then a five minute scene an hour into it, and then a bit of the ending as well. I might have had this idea because of a movie I watched last night before bed, a pretty terrible American remake of a pretty good Argentine move (The Secret in their Eyes). There were only a handful of good scenes, so why not just write those, and the hell with the rest of it?

So tonight I sat down and thought I’d give it a whirl. Nope. Nothing came of it. Some ideas are just bad ideas.

Here are some other bad ideas: a story is like a roommate. You want a roommate, and at first you think, ok, this could work out, but pretty soon that roommate starts to drive you crazy. They are always in your home! They have their own agenda. They want what they want, not what you want. Pretty soon you’d give anything to get rid of that roommate. So you hurry up and finish the story. At least I do. Usually two or three weeks is all I can take. It’s also why my story’s endings tend to suck, because I just cannot wait to be done with them. Get them out of the house. Throw them onto the internet so they can’t complain. What do you want? I gave you to the world! Frickin’ lousy roommate, get out of my head.

I could do all those “fragments from books that don’t exist” because they were more like one-night stands. I was only allowed to spend up to an hour on each one, including both the cover art and the writing. But even that became tiresome after 99 of them. I couldn’t even do one more to make it an even hundred. That was six months of doing, at a clip of three or four a week. Enough was enough.

But now I’m looking for another set of improvisational/performance-type fiction. Short and sweet little beasts that won’t hang around and pester me with their arcs and clingy need for development and resolution. I don’t want characters inhabiting my home. I want them to merely visit for a brief spell, and then go away.

Maybe I’ll chop up the dream idea, and instead of writing a beginning AND a middle AND  an ending, I could just pick whichever one I felt like doing, and do that.

One of my favorite books is “If On A Winter’s Night a Traveler”, in which Italo Calvino writes the first chapter of ten different books, all in a row. It’s quite a feat.

Stanislaw Lem’s “A Perfect Vacuum” is a collection of reviews of books that don’t exist. Loved that one too.

And then there is ‘The Museum of the Novel of Eterna’, by Macedonio Fernandez, which begins with dozens of hilarious prefaces. My own book ‘Macedonia’ was a tribute to that.

A lot of people hate meta. A lot of people are also Republicans. You can’t worry about things like “a lot of people”.

I still want roommates, but very very temporary ones. So I’ll come up with something. Even if I have to stick it out for two or three weeks. It’s usually worth it.

 

 

 

This and That – a Feed Book (completed)

ThisAndThat

Finished up today and posted on Smashwords as well as Kindle and Wattpad (where it was born and bred). Sometimes you just have to stop and say it’s done.

Description: Told in the style of a combined social media feed, ‘This and That’ relates several overlapping and interwoven stories; a woman facing treatment for cancer, a man held hostage for no reason by a foreign government, a global corporation enamored of its power and reach, an unstable future world disorder, and more. Filled with drama, pathos and dark, dark humor, ‘This and That’ is a piece of performance fiction that was improvised live as it didn’t actually happen.

Fragments from books that don’t exist: Graham Had a BMW

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Carmela believed in fate, a destiny that arrived on golden wings at the very moment you least expect it. This brilliant goddess wore out-dated garments that were never in style, but she somehow managed to pull it off every time. She was not much of a talker, preferring to announce her presence with flashes of insight and remarkably good posture. She would pose as if for the cameras and make some sort of disruptive statement such as “I thought he would never die” or “you look terrible in black, did you know that?” She was never very popular. In Carmela’s explicit imagination, fate wore low-cut blouses and had modeled for numerous tawdry book covers. She sang romantic melodies, had a fetish for turquoise lip gloss and smoked Virginia Slims. Carmela’s husband was sick to death of this stupid creature. He believed in a fate that swept things under the rug and kept its filthy mouth shut.

Fragments from books that don’t exist: The Sink at Night

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“But then I’ll have to be who I am,” Deletria said.

“I’d feel sorry for you,” Crimea replied, “if I really did, but I don’t. And I never will,” she added.

“You haven’t been nice to me since Ajax,” Deleteria said, and Crimea nodded.

“It’s true,” she smiled. “It’s been fun. Being nice to you was a thing, but now not so much.”

“I didn’t really like him,” Deletria said, as much to herself as to the former friend with whom she was waiting in line at the donut shop. It had been at least four months since they’d seen each other. The last time had been ugly. Crimea had torn up some papers she’d been working on and blamed it on Deletria, who had only remarked that the drawings looked like the work of a six-year old.

“I didn’t really like you,” Crimea told her. “Remember when you thought we were friends? We weren’t. We never were. I only put up with you because you knew him. Then you had to go and fuck him.”

“I wish,” Deletria said. “Dude couldn’t even get it up. I guess he was thinking about you the whole time.”

“I can help whoever’s next,” the cashier’s voice rang out. Deletria was whoever was next. She was glad to get the last word. She didn’t even hear Crimea’s bitter reply.

Fragments from books that don’t exist: Highchair of Doom

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In the early days of the 23rd century, nothing was left to the imagination. The planet had been re-carpeted as well as re-upholstered, and the effect was intentionally displeasing. One looked out of windows with caution, for the skies were filled with contraptions attracted by a glance, bio-mechanical bird-bots which would swoop down in a rush and smack themselves against the glass, leaving behind a rubbery residue of gloom as they slid down the several levels to the sea. Stilted towers tilted gradually, swaying with the tides in a gentleness that could easily be mistaken for a hopeless fate. Time depended on where the sun was, if and when it chose to appear. The moon and stars appeared more randomly since that debacle with the inter-galactic, bluetooth-connected light switch. Everyone was named in honor of long-since faded flowers. Rose Petrie III was no exception. She and her spouse-like creature (Hollyhock Wiltins) spent most of their time crouching in the corner. It was smoother over there. When the wind chose to blow, they listened to it hustle through the cracks and told each other imaginary secrets. Rose was determined to one day open that little door in the wall. She was convinced there still remained a single grain of sand in the cosmos somewhere. Why not here, she reasoned. If anything can happen, can nothing also happen?