Wednesday, December 21, 2005

On the job training at the Fulton County Morgue

He pulled at the crotch of his trousers with his one good hand and shuffled, past the fire place, between brown leather chairs and slumped into his seat. Avery sat with the heels of his feet against the chair, leaning forward, listening to the fire crackle. On either side of him were friends, almost his age, whispering among themselves in small groups of two and three. The parlor bathed of leather from the thick comfortable chairs and an overstuffed sofa. Big game trophies mounted on the wall eyed the gathering with undying interest.

At seventy two, he started to decline. He missed his teeth and hair and only one appendage on his right hand still worked half well, but not without a slight twitch. His hand wavered slightly as he raised the glass to his lips, filling his mouth with brandy, and forcing the muscles in his throat to swallow.

The liquor cleared his throat of phlegm. A droplet rolled down his chin and onto his lap. He waited for everyone to settle back into their chairs before he would begin. Tonight he would tell his small gathering a story that had remained untold for almost forty years.

His voice was somber and full as though to set the tone for his story. "I've never told anyone this story. Not a one. I dared not tell what happened to me that night," he said.

He paused and took another sip from the glass. Shadows from the fire danced above the men while they waited for Avery to continue. The room filled with each others thoughts of what story their friend would tell. They gathered around in a semi-circle, as they had for the better part of twenty years, and listened as Avery took them wherever his mind wandered. Many a night, they gasped at tales of hideous creatures, some living close by, and other horrors that most people never heard of before. Nine men waited patiently to learn where he would take them on this moon-filled night.

Avery straightened himself in the chair and stared at each of them in turn. His eyes seemed to pry into each soul in search of a story until he settled on Ben, his friend of better than thirty years and the closest to a son he ever had, and bemoaned a sigh of regret. As though, looking into their eyes, he found which tale would be told.

"There are times when I wonder where they came from," his voice barely carried above the crackle of the fire.

Avery settled back in the chair, the glass of brandy resting neatly on his knee, and he began to speak again. This time he wouldn’t stop until the story was finished.

To this very day I wonder if I haven’t dreamt it all. If not but for those few minutes, startled as I was, I’m almost sure it was all a very real dream. On nights such as this, when there is a restless moon and demons play with lost souls, I can recall a visit by two travelers.

These two weren't your ordinary bump in the night strangers. No, they were something to keep you awake all night if you happened to meet upon them the way I did. I can't recall when it started, but I suspect it had to do with all those bodies. They were a pitiful lot, they were. Most of them were burned to the bone. Oh, it was a sad day alright.

My first day on the job and here I was up to my elbows in work and frightened. Oh was I frightened to be sure, but I was mostly scared I'd make a mistake. In some ways I was also scared to be alone with them. Don't ask me why, I can't quite remember why, but I felt so alone and so helpless. I couldn't do anything but watch as their twisted remains were stacked along side the wall. I wanted to do something for them, those poor souls, the lot of them, but it was beyond my power to help.

My, was I something back then; full of lofty ambitions and false pride. I never lost my pride, even after they visited me that night, though I'm sure there were times when I had to swallow it.

Now only a few tidbits remain, and even if I could remember, I think my first day on the job really didn't happen. At least not the way I would like to remember. I was young, ambitious, and had foolishly thought I would be the best pathologist in the county or even the state someday.

Oh, I know, there are all those expectations of starting a new job, especially on the first day, but now I can't remember how I felt. I can only guess what it was like at that particular moment in time. That dreadful night had a hold of my memories and wouldn't let me forget for many years.

As I remember, it all started around four that afternoon when I was told about the plane crash. Nearly a hundred and ten bodies, young and old alike, were scattered over the old ballpark.

Volunteers from all over came to help. We had to try and identify what remained of as many people as possible from the wreckage. It was a sad, grim, task that we were asked to perform that day. There was little time to question why it happened. We were all very busy trying to piece together enough so they could be identified by their relatives. We didn’t have time to even think about why it happened. There would be time for that later.

The last arrivals of the evening were little more than charred mannequins, their arms wrapped around each other. I can't tell how it came about that I was left alone with those two. They probably never expected to share death when it happened. Heck, tell you the truth, I don't even remember if I ever found out who those two were or where they came from.

Two hours later I finished separating the couple from the death grip which held them together. I guess they were probably in their early thirties, but I'm not sure about that. They must have embraced each other as a last desperate act of love to face death. I can tell you this much, I was deeply moved by the sight. Their deaths brought a deep sorrow where earlier I had felt horror.

I had done as much for them as I could and placed them in the vault while I went to my desk to fill out their death certificates.

It wasn’t long before my stamina mistook the momentary tranquillity for a chance to put my head down on the desk and get a few minutes of sleep. The hour was late and by two-thirty I was drained of emotion and strength. The night crept away slowly. While the morning began waking all manner of creatures, I drifted aimlessly in slumber. My head was tucked into the corner of my arm.

Suddenly, I was awakened by a coldness touching my face. I had a scare coming to me, sure enough. Still I wasn't ready for it. My eyes snapped open and I confronted a child, blankly staring at me while he held onto a woman's hand.

Never before or since had I seen such a child as him. The lad, not more than seven or eight at best, was neatly dressed in a black suit with wide lapels. His shirt was the whitest I have ever seen, crisp and wrinkle free, as though he had only dressed moments earlier. I followed the boy's hand up to the woman, but my neck stiffened in that awkward position and made it difficult to look above the desk lamp. The soft lighting from the hallway filtered into the room and her outline emerged to fill the doorway.

She was hidden by shadows that floated in front of my face. She too was dressed in black, tall and slender; her hands were covered with pressed white gloves. I uttered what I thought was surprise, but only a faint whisper escaped me as trapped air leaked between teeth clenched in fear. I must admit my feeble attempt at courage was something quite incoherent to the human ear. I tried to push myself away from the desk so I could get a better look. I don't remember if fear ever knew a better person to pick on that evening, but I was a good choice. My heart pressed itself against the walls of my chest, insisting I flee the room.

"Shhh, it's only a dream," the boy whispered.

Nervously, I went around the desk, my confidence returning. My thoughts were more directed and cleared of the momentary fright I experienced by their sudden appearance.

"Can I help you with something?"

I realized that what I said sounded awful and tried another approach. "I'm sorry, but we don't allow visitors in here."

That sounded more official and manly like I was expected to say something important. Yet, they remained silent as though they were expecting me to show them a body like we do for members of the family.

The woman stepped closer and grabbed my shoulders. I struggled vainly to escape her grasp, but she held me by the strength of her weight on my shoulders. The more I tried, the harder she held me until I was resigned to stop and try a different approach. I tried not to look into her eyes for fear something waited for my soul behind those hollow sockets. In the dark recesses, I could see nothing but emptiness and sorrow. There was no pain or remorse in those eyes. Nothing. But a deep sadness crept into my soul nevertheless. I knew of her sorrow as though it was part of me.

“Who are you?” I demanded bravely. “What are you doing here at this hour of night?"

A murmur escaped her lips as she pushed me backwards on to the desk. I tried to protest, but her gaze entranced my spirit and I had no hope of escaping. My God, I begged her to release me from her grasp, but she held me firmly and nearly touched her lips upon mine.

The veil couldn't shield the fire swelling from her hollow eye-sockets. They blazed as though her soul spit forth through those portals. I tried to cast her spell from my heart, but she whispered into my ear and I couldn't stop her words. Her cold breath on the back of my neck chilled my soul.

“Help us.”

That’s all she said. But a power as I had never felt before or since swept over me. I squeezed my eyes shut. The weight on my shoulder was lifted and I fell to the floor, free of her. My head began to spin, clouded by haze and I returned to the sanctuary of dreams and fools.

I was awaken hours later by the hand lying on top of my head and jumped from the stool to escape. I stumbled away from the table that had supported my head and tipped the stool over.

The hollow ring of metal on the granite floor echoed throughout the room. Startled, I waited for her to reach out from behind and touch me. Instead, a faint memory of her plea, a waif misery; beckoned me to pursue a terrible thought.

What if?

No, it was impossible. How could anyone survive such a terrible crash? We had all the bodies. Everyone was counted. There couldn’t possibly be anyone left?

But how could I be sure?

I had to know for myself. I gathered my jacket and ran for the door. It was a short distance to the field where all those bodies laid just hours earlier. I didn’t have any problem finding a few remaining personal affects scattered around the infield. I covered my eyes for a moment and tried to visualize how those people must have felt as their plane screamed toward the earth. It broke me and I knelt down to the ground in despair. I had not experience such grief before. Their voices seemed to ring true as I swiped a tear away. Then I imagined a faint whisper and the thought stuck me.

What if someone had really survived?

I knew it wasn’t likely. But I scanned the field anyway, hoping someone would come out of the shadows. I searched the edge until my sight focused on the field across from the ballpark. At first, I hadn’t thought of the cemetery but it made so much sense.

The woman and child I saw in my dream were dressed in all black as if to attend a funeral. But who’s? I hadn’t heard of a recent death since the previous week and I knew they had already buried Martha two days ago.

I rose from the ground and made my way to the cemetery. The dew made it slippery and each step was an effort. But I found the entrance and turned toward the ballpark where it all began. I used what light remained from the failing, silver moon to search between each row for a sign of life. It must have seemed ironic to look for a living soul among the deceased. But I kept at it for awhile until I approached the last row.

Scattered on the ground was a small bushel of carnations. I stepped to the side and glanced at the marker of a man roughly my age when he died. When I returned my attention to the path, I noticed a shoe sticking out from a row or bushes.

Hidden in the underbrush was a body I dreaded finding. I pushed away the foliage and saw her for the second time that night. A three-inch piece of metal protruded from her breastplate.

She clung to a boy. A sliver of moonlight illuminated her face. A single tear was stuck in the corner of her eye as though she were both sad and happy of my discovery. I reached down to touch her and the boy sprang up on one knee.

Startled, I fell back a step. I reached for a branch and steadied myself.

He whispered: “Are you my daddy? Momma always told me you’d come back for us.”

I took a deep breath and shuddered. The boy glanced back at his mother. He touched her cheek and then turned to smile at me for some reason. I beckoned him with the only comfort I knew at the moment.

"Yes, son. It’s ok. There’s nothing to worry about, I’m here now."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Old rejections

This post is for those who are planning to send something to
Amazing Stories in the near future. I just received a rejection :-(
from them with a note that they have all the stories planned and
purchased for the year and are not accepting unsolicited materials.

Now, this could be a slip rejection of a really bad story or
one that doesn't fit their needs or it could be sincere and they
are all booked for the year. I don't know which is the case, but
I hope it is the latter. I would hate to think my story was
terrible. Anyway, this brings up an interesting point.

I want to send the story to more than one editor, but I
tend to have patience and have waited for a reply before sending
it somewhere else. Because I have a half dozen short stories and
a near complete novel, this could take some time and I'm not getting
any younger (so I'm told). Should I send this story and others to
several different editors and let them know or should I continue
to submit to one editor at a time? Here is something else, I will
be finished with my novel by the end of June and want to send it
out right away. Yet, a part of me wants to wait until December
when I finish my second novel and send them out as a set or
individually to several publishers.

After December, I will be starting on my third novel and will
not have the time to track the previous two novels progress without
distracting my writing. At the pace I am writing, I will have a
novel completed and ready to go every six months and at some point,
I will have to stop and start marketing what I've written. So,
from one point of view, I am thinking of submitting directly to
book publishers, but on the other hand, I would like to have an
agent do the work for me. Either way I will have to stop and do
some marketing. As for the short stories I've kept to myself for
the past year or so, should I treat them any differently and send
them as a group or individually?

J.L. Campbell --- A troubling childhood is no excuse for entering

Originally posted May 9 1994, 10:36 am

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What is in a name?

Here's a short story I wrote in 1991 and just now pulled it from the resting place I stored it for so many years. Now, I need to dust it off, and edit it once or twice and see if the story is of any interest to a magazine.

What is in a name. Evil by any other name is still evil. Case in
point. Brian, the name of our first born son, was what most people
thought of as the perfect child. Good, happy, easy to care for and
above all, loving. That word, loving, has a different meaning today
then it had five years ago. Back then it meant a son who loved his
family, and cared deeply for his sisters. It meant that I could spend
my time with him, holding him when he needed to be held, and just
loving him as I would all my children. I don't think of loving the
same today as I once did. I couldn't possibly, not after I found out
what it meant to him. How he embraced that word as if it was his own,
delivered to him from a dictionary of distorted and perverted words.
Where the meaning of nouns, adjectives, pronouns took shape from a
world of vocabulary vile and horrific descriptions.

The child, my only son, was conceived on Christmas day, 1985. As
if the act of loving conception was deliberately guided to that day
for a purpose, I, as human, could not understand or grasp. A child
of Christmas, the gift of gods, was born nine months later during
an eclipse of heaven and earth. Taking what light, soul, and love
existed that day away with the passing of the darkness. The first
scream of breath echoed a death of my wife, as her life was given
to provide a soul for one who was never born, but rather pushed
from the womb of a woman.

In time, I came to accept her death as my son's breath spilled out
into the night and I was lost to the time of his first years. Three
years passed since his, her shared births, and I had almost forgotten
the loving she had given. He had replaced that feeling with a want,
a need, to fill my hours caring for him. My other children came into
my life to feed my inspiration as I struggled to survive the loneliness
and coldness of my world as it had become. But even their love could
not survive long in a house that had become a temple for my son.

In time, as with age and eventual death, my other children became
a pawn of my son, turning their love for me into a hatred of all life
and withdrawing inward to serve a new life. I tried not to see what
had become of my family, as I tried, I lost touch of my own desires.

Another year had passed and my son had begun to develop a sense of
what life could offer, or rather what he could take away and began to
play with life. Corrupting my other children, he enjoyed the loving
that they gave him. Still, I had not seen what was happening. Not
until months later when I too became infected by his corruption. A
feeling of disgust swept through me as I lay on the bed, gasping for
breath as my wife had five years earlier, tempted to end the torment
that had i had been going through since her death. But it was not to
be, as if my son knew of my renewed strength, he straddled my attempt
to end the misery with his dictionary of perverted words that had new
meaning. Forcing me to listen as he spread his gospel through my mind
with his voice, quietly whispering his thoughts, repeating the same
sentences, never relenting until I was submissive to his needs.

He kept at it daily, feeding what was left of my mind and soul with
his thoughts, commanding me to obey, focusing on my weaknesses with
the skill of a preacher. Compelling me to listen by his voice, as I
heard the wail of a child masked behind the spirit and determination
of an adult.

I knew it would have to end. He was my son, and I still loved him,
but I couldn't take it any longer. A determination, a force of will
gave me strength as I plotted and planned on the eventual confrontation.
Not knowing the outcome, I only knew that it had to stop, that I had
to put an end to it once and for all. I decided I would wait for the
right moment and strike when he was distracted. Take control of my
destiny. Free myself of the power he had over me and my other children.

I spent the next several days waiting for my chance, but he must have
had sense my change, my unwillingness to give as easily. He had been
quiet, almost withdrawn, as I waited for the right moment. But I was
patient and waited, watching his every move with a keen sense of
parental suspicion, knowing that he would make a mistake and let his
guard down long enough for me to act. It might take a little longer
than I anticipated, but I knew it would happen soon. It always did.

The afternoon sun darkened as clouds laden with moisture passed
across the sky and filled the air with a sense of foreboding. Soon,
the first drops of rain patterned the dry surface of the cement from
our driveway with faces of imaginary creatures. Following the droplets
was the sound of thunder as it echoed off distant structures, vibrating
waves passing through the valley, touching the ears of children and
sending them indoors to escape the fury of gods. As the rumbling
crept across the house, I began to prepare knowing that my son would
be coming inside to parade his misfortune for everyone. Loud and
boisterous, he would announce his arrival expecting everyone to
stop and pay tribute. But he wouldn't expect a challenge to his
authority, and I would be waiting, watching for the right moment
when I would be there to strike.

Stepping into the hallway, I took the weapon and placed it behind
my back and drew a breath. Letting the air trap my accelerated
heartbeats in still time, I practiced the words I found in a dusty
book. Whispering them to myself and waiting. Seconds ticked away
and were replaced by minutes, still he had not exoduses from the
storm and I was becoming more worried almost forgetting what I was
waiting for. As I was about to leave my hiding place, I heard a
door slammed shut downstairs and released the trapped air from my

Loud noises followed by silence, and then more noises coming from
the kitchen. Still clutching my weapon, I waited for him to come
up stairs knowing that he would start voicing himself once he failed
to find what he was looking for in the kitchen. Following his normal
routine, he started to climb the stairs, feeding the spaces with
his voice. Loudly proclaiming his arrival to mankind, and expecting
his servants to usher from their rooms to service his needs. As he
continued to climb, his voice became more intolerable as I listened
from my hiding place. I could tell from the sound of his voice that
he was only a few steps away from the top, and I prepared myself to
confront him as soon as he stepped around the corner.

Another step brought him closer. My body began to tense as I waited
holding the weapon more tightly then before. I could feel the strain
of my task bearing on my feelings for my son, yet I was resolved to
end the torment, regardless of my inner fears. One more step to go.
A board in the flooring gave away his presence and I leaped out from
behind the corner, holding the knife in my hand, I prepared to strike
downward at the menacing form before me. As my hand clinched tightly
on the weapon I felt a sudden sharp pain come from my lower back and
gasped for a breath of air. The knife in my hand loosened slightly as I
staggered forward struggling to keep my balance. Another sharp pain,
this time in my side, and I could feel the knife blade piercing my
lungs. Tearing flesh as it was pushed further inside me until the
hilt of the blade rested against my side. Then I could feel hands
on my back as someone began to push me forward.

A rush of air escaped from my side as I tried to scream. Looking
about wildly, I turned to see my other children staring at me, smiling
as I fell forward against the wall. Then they started giggling while
holding their blood stained hands to their faces as if hiding the
laughter behind a blood shield. With the knife in my hand still, I
lurched at them falling face first onto the carpet. At the same time
I could feel the knife being pulled from my side.

Turning on my side, I could see my son holding the knife in his
hands as he studied the blood on the blade. Looking at his reflection
in the shiny blood stained blade, he began to smile broadly exposing
his missing front teeth. As he studied himself, I started to back crawl
away from him hoping to avoid death as long as possible. At least
until I could leave a message for the police to find knowing they
would have to eventually come to the house when I don't show up for
work on Monday. By then it might be to late for me, but at least I
could make sure that someone knows what I found out to late to prevent.

Licking my lips, I turned my head in time to see my daughters walk
away from their bedrooms mechanically advancing to where I lay on the
carpet. As I watched them step closer, I could feel a hand clasp my
ankle and kicked my leg instinctively trying to free myself from what
had taken hold of me. Not wanting to turn my attention away from my
approaching daughters, I kept kicking blindly with my feet until I
felt the knife penetrate my calf and I stopped and turned to see my
son holding the knife firmly in my leg with both hands. Enough air
remained in my punctured lungs for a scream to escape my throat as I
reached for the knife. Seeing my efforts to extract the knife, my
son let go momentarily allowing me to kick at him with the knife
still protruding from my calf, hitting him on the chin with the butt
of the handle and sending him backwards.

Pain shot up through my leg as I tried to stand. Crippled from
the injuries, I fell back on the carpet still kicking madly. My
second attempt to stand was more successful and I braced myself
against the wall holding my side as I did so. As if my daughters
sensed my death near. They both started to laugh loudly while clapping
their hands as if cheering for a winner in a television contest. Their
laughter distracted me from my son long enough for him to reach out
from where he lay and extract the knife from my leg. In doing so, he
let out a laugh that startled me as I felt the pang of fear mix with
the pain of my injuries and staggered backward. Holding my knife,
I swung it at my daughters as a diversion then turned with one
motion and ran at my son.

The suddenness of my attack had taken him by surprise as he stood
near the stairs staring blankly as I plunged the knife into his chest.
Looking down at the blade as it pierced his heart, he was pushed back
by the same force that drove the blade deep inside and he fell down
the stairs with a smile on his face. As he fell backwards down the
stairs, I slumped to my knees half expecting my daughters to push me
after my son. Instead, they both stopped laughing and a hushed
silence fell over the hallway as I watched my son roll down the stairs
in slow motion. Tumbling end-over-end, he continued to laugh until
he reached the bottom stair and I lost sight of him and the sound of
his laughter.

Staring down blankly, I imagined my son crawling back up the steps
holding the knife in his small hands, grinning as he crept up each
step until he was directly below me. As I continued to stare, lost
in my own thoughts, I had forgotten my two daughters behind me until
I felt a hand on my shoulder and jumped at the touch. Bracing for
the pain I knew was coming, I was surprised to hear my daughter
speak for the first time in days: "It's okay daddy, he's gone now!"
was all she said. Then blackness became my day, filling my mind
with an emptiness as I slumped against the wall.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Must a character have faults?

How do you feel about this topic?

For a character to be true to themselves, would simply
mean, they would not go against their nature to further
the story. In other words, we don't expect a doctor to
become someone who is also a master carpenter. Nor do
we expect a plumber to be able to perform brain surgery.
The characters in a story are true to themselves when
they fit the expectations of the reader and we are not
surprised by their behavior or abilities.

This may vary in situations where the particular scene
calls for our character to do something extraordinary or
out of character in order to overcome a crisis, or to
avoid personal harm. At times, the human spirit takes
us to another realm of endurance and our instinct for
survival comes in to play. In these situations, our
character may be expected to do things that we would
normal think impossible.

As for staying true to the story, a character is not
one-dimensional and is subject to the rules of continuity
on the belief that the story is a merely a guide into
places most people only dream about. As writers, we must
try to make our characters realistic so that their actions
are believable and true to the story.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hannigan's Meadow (chapter 23 - critiqued)

Here's an unedit chapter I asked Mya Bell to critique for me. She provided a very nice example of what you can expect from an editor who performs a line-by-line edit of your work. Expect editors marks and comments within the contents of your manuscript.

I will enjoy spending my holidays editing this novel for content and grammar. But remember one thing, do as much self-editing as possible before asking (hiring) an editor to review your work.

I had to use a jpg file to get her online comments correctly.


Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Lawyer's Guide to Simplify Divorce (Funny)

Title: A Lawyer's Guide to Simplify Divorce.

Abstract: This guide is intended for those lawyers’s who practice in the field of Family Law and specialize in Divorce. As an important part of the American Judicial system the practice of Divorce Law is fraught with greed, suspicion, anxiety, anger and apprehension among attorneys. In order to make the process more attorney friendly this book offers many valuable tips and insights on how to obtain unlimited success without the usual drawbacks associated with an unsuccessful case.

Chapter Outlines:

Chapter 1: Your Competition is Your Friend

A “how-to” become better acquainted with the opposing lawyer and how this will greatly increase your chances for success. Never assume that the opposing lawyer is the enemy. Most of the time they are available after hours to discuss the difficult issues facing many divorce lawyers. Become friends with them and learn how to work together to keep each other happy. Remember, it is important to work together to become successful.

Chapter 2: The Personal Touch

Five simple steps necessary to make your client more agreeable to your suggestions and reduce their general reluctance to accept what is best for them. The once simple cost of a divorce is a thing of the past. It is not uncommon for lawyers today to spend much more time with their client than they once did. Given the adverse affect an unsuccessful divorce often has on lawyers the quality time you spend with your clients with benefit them by reducing their reluctance to continue in the face of insurmountable odds.

Chapter 3: The “Can Do!” Attitude

Maintain a professional attitude so that your client will respect the decisions you make in the event they have to settle for less. Many clients will respect your decisions if you do not appear friendly or show concern for their wishes so long as they think you will “take it the distance!”. The lawyer should always present a positive attitude and assure their client of their overwhelming potential for a successful settlement.

The difference between a successful lawyer and not is their ability to ask for more than is possible in a divorce. Remember, “Never Settle For Less!”

Chapter 4: Motionless Motions

Six motions that are necessary to keep the client happy. The motion is a great tool to improve your client’s involvement in the divorce. The continuation motion is the most often misunderstood of all filings with the court. A simple delay in a pretrial event is a very useful tool to establish credibility with your client and give you more time to prepare.

Chapter 5: Children, a Must!

Children of divorced couples are often the easiest way to increase the complexity and time required to complete the divorce. If there are children it is important to remember their names. If there are no children then find some. Suggest a paternity test of close family members and friends with children. There are many opportunities to increase the chances of an early victory if either side has children from other partners during the marriage. Share whatever you discover with others so that they become more involved and offer additional sources of potential offsprings.

Chapter 6: Assets to Success

Quickly identify what is disposable and what can be used later to pay any outstanding debts. Prepare a detailed list of all charges that the client can expect. A good rule of thumb is to include any miscellaneous office items that pertain to the divorce, such as; paper clips, pencils, heating and cooling, and tissues. By showing your client what to expect up front, they often to agree on additional services that are available through other lawyers.

Chapter 7: The Flexible Court Dates

Prepare a calendar of dates that conflict with existing schedules. This helps to establish early in the divorce who is more flexible. Often it is necessary to schedule two dates at the same time to allow yourself a choice of which client to represent on any given date.

Chapter 8: No Settle, Settlement Conferences

Schedule several settlement conferences to make sure enough time is given to settle any disputes. This process allows the lawyer to spread the work out over many months instead of a few short weeks. Each revision should be carefully constructed to allow the opposing attorney an opportunity to make changes. Given the time and expense of Settlement Conferences it is often necessary to set a time when you and the opposing lawyer are not as busy. Many clients will adjust their schedules to meet at difficult times if you are willing to give them limited choices.

Chapter 9: Trials and Tribulations

Easy witnesses. Most lawyers miss the most important part of any successful trial by forgetting to call enough witnesses. Friends and family are usually the first on the list. Yet, it is the experts in any field, clergy of different domination’s, public servants and community leaders who are often the most overlooked resources. These individuals are an important part of any trial and should be thought of as assets to success.

Chapter 10: The Divorced Again Client

A quick divorce is not always necessary, but if it happens remember to keep in contact with your client in case they remarry. Many divorced couples often use the same lawyer in subsequent divorces and it is useful to keep a current client list for future uses. Mailing lists and Christmas cards are two of the easiest methods of keeping in contact and are useful tools to generate future revenue. Don’t forget that there are two sides to every divorce, so don’t leave the other party off your list.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Query Sampler (First Killer Love)

Here's a rough idea for the basic fiction novel query letter. There are several places on the net where you can go to get a complete description and more samples, it just takes some time to do the research.

[my personal details]


[agent information]

Dear [my agent]

[Include a brief paragraph why you chose this particular agent.]

[hook] Gladys always wanted to be loved. Even if it meant killing to get it.

Troy was Atlanta’s favorite son. He becomes the first freshmen in his college class to receive a grant to attend Oxford. He has everything to look forward to; except Gladys who has other ideas for his future.

Without warning, Troy is kidnapped by the one woman he always loathed and despised. But that didn’t bother Gladys because she knows Troy could become her first love if she just had the chance to spend time with him alone.

Gladys will do anything to keep Troy to herself. If it means dying together then she is willing. Troy doesn’t see it her way and tries to convince her of a love that may kill them both.

[title and word count]

Synopsis, sample chapters and complete manuscript are available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Your signature

Friday, November 18, 2005

Writing Sample for Dead Dreams (novel)

Decided to post a writing sample from my previous novel that I'm actively shopping around to a few agents.

Chapter 3 ....this is where we pickup

The alley taunted him and drew him into the contemptuous darkness. Against his better judgment, he cautiously walked into it. His mind told him that it was just a bad dream, that he would find nothing there. Only the remains of a dying neighborhood as he first thought.

The smell of death preceded his passage.

He covered his mouth and took a step. Something soft and wet squished under his foot. His stomach told him not to look down. He lifted his foot over the sponge like thing and took another cautious step. He felt the ground softening with each footstep, but he didn't want to think about what lay under his feet.

His eyes adjusted slowly to the dark. He extended his right arm into the void as though to feel his way toward the sound ahead and to defend himself in case someone was there. His nervous breath steamed in front of his face. The cool moisture of the night dampened his forehead and he wiped it off with the back of his sleeve.

The alley got darker as he felt his way forward.

He took short, careful steps and scanned the pitch-blackness to be prepared in case someone waited for him. The irregular squish from his shoes echoed off the walls. Further into the alley he began to see a faint glow in the darkness.

The light opened into another passageway several yards away. He reluctantly walked to the light. His heart beat faster as he searched for the turn in the alley. A shrill noise came from somewhere behind him, as though someone ran hardened fingernails down a chalkboard. He pivoted quickly, fists raised, ready and waiting for the darkness to show what it hid from him.

The scratching stopped abruptly. He stared into the dark and heard its raspy breathing. Its panting grew louder and met him in the middle of the alley. Wait or run. His common sense told him to run.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Tin Star on Western Wear (short story)

Here's a short story I wrote a long time ago. Some of my writing buddies thought it was in the Walter Mitty style, but I couldn't say for sure since I am Walter Mitty.

Get the work done first

Well today isn't starting out like I had planned. After a great deal of internet reading, I find myself wondering how to get the current wip kick started again. Hmmmm...I leave a couple kids alone in a spooky old boarding house with a crazed landlady and can't seem to remember the next move. I suppose the next logical step would be to take my little friends on a exploration of her insanity, but they are already freaked out enough.

Maybe I should rewrite the last sentence again and see where it goes from that point forward? I can see that my writing today should become an obsession or it'll be another unproductive day. On the other hand, I could just pop open a beer and take another nap? Nah, I'll get those little kiddies out of danger and kill the old bag. Maybe she deserved it? Who knows?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Stalin Humanitarian Award Announced

Humanitarian award to be announced Vladimir Putin to present
Stalin award for humanitarian service

Cheney to attend presentation - Moscow News
November 16, 2005 02:00 AM

Moscow, Russia – President Vladimir Putin
announced today the first ever Stalin Humanitarian award
for public service. Reminisce of previous Soviet era awards
the medal is to be presented for continuous public service to
the citizen who most represents the values of Stalin.

In a private ceremony to be announce, President Putin
is expected to honor Boris Letinsky for exceptional public
service in the tradition of Stalin. Mr. Letinsky is credited
with the successful allocation of housing and relocation
assistance to over one thousand Chechnya civilians
during the separatist conflict.

“It is an honor to present this high award to Mr. Letinsky
for his dedication to preserving the Russian way of life.”
said a foreign ministry spokesman.

Russia’s last notable ceremony was May 9th when
President Bush attended the ceremonial laying of the
reef on Stalin’s grave.

Embolism (Writing Sample)

I wanted to practice my shooting today, so I wrote this little piece. Nothing great, but heck it gave me a chance to explore my nasal cavity more closely.

The bone fragment loosened and floated carelessly though his veins until it lodged just below the right temporal lobe. Luckily, Jonny was a thinking man, he knew what to do and whipped out his trusty .22 cal. Nothing like a clean shot through the sinus cavity to clear up a little blockage. He stuck the barrel inside his nostril and squeezed.

Pop! Pop!

The second round did the trick and little Jonny felt much better knowing that lead can lead to a more productive life if given the proper direction.

So back to work, Jonny! Let's snot waste anymore time being a big bugger.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

No sex for me, please (short story)

I never met a woman I didn’t want.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, that was about to soon change. It really didn’t matter what shape they were in; fat, skinny, or butt-ugly. There’s no such thing as an empty bowl of cherries as far as I was concerned.

I was doing my laundry at the neighborhood wash & dry when I met her. As I often do on wash days, I would dump my clothes in into one washer and sit around eyeing the women who occasionally braved the late hours and grime of the laundry-mat.

On that particular evening, I was just putting the make on a plump, younger girl with a slight lisp that had made the mistake of saying hello. I was about to make my pitch about going somewhere while our clothes dried when LaDonna caught my eye. At first, I thought the blur was a reflection of an old woman carrying a bag by her side. As it turned out, it was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen standing in the doorway. She held a pair of slacks by her side while she motioned me to come closer.

I was dumb-struck by her beauty. Her pouted lips and the tart smile. The bright red lipstick expressed more than a mere social interest with me. Her hair was streaked shades of gold with a trace of blonde that flowed over her shoulders to the base of her buttocks.

Ample breasts gently tugged at the material of her blouse. The blood raced below my belt as did the thought of lust that had entered the laundry-mat that evening. I turned to the girl who I had been talking and shook my head at the depth to which I was prepared to go for a moment of pleasure.

When I glanced back at the other woman, I felt the fabric in my pants begin to swell. I straightened to my full height of six feet and walked in the direction of the beauty holding the colorful slacks tightly in her hands. I walked up to her and started to tell her how beautiful she was when a smile crossed her face.

Her lips parted. The lines of her teeth were brightened by the light of the laundry-mat. The smile enchanted me with a power as perpetual as the need for companionship. I was drawn into her presence as no man had before been attracted to touch a candle of dripping wax and flame.

The allure she had provoked from her presence was enough for me to lose words and thoughts as easily as the moon slips behind clouds during a storm. I struggled vainly to say a word to describe how I felt. Any word at all. But there was nothing for me to say that she hadn’t already heard. I felt the taste of dinner upon my breath as I listened to the words that changed my life forever: “Would you like to go some place for some fun?”

Her raspy voice was fragmented by broken English and the trace of some ancient European accent.

I found my voice amid the confusion of her offer and managed a gruff whisper: “Sure, babe. Anywhere you want.”

She took my hand and led me along like a blind man in the parking lot of a busy mall. I felt the swish of cool air around my ears and the closeness of danger by her touch. For some reason, I allowed myself to be led into the seat of her car. I didn’t even object when she got behind the wheel and took control.

We drove slowly down several side streets and alleys in what would have normally seemed like forever. It didn’t seem to matter because I was too distracted by thoughts of her body on mine, thrashing around like a couple of animals, trying to find the right rhythm that would satisfy my constant need for sex.

When we finally pulled into the darkened driveway of an old abandoned house, I had already lost all self-control. My sense of danger was obscured by her and I had not noticed the emptiness of the neighborhood she brought me. She distracted me by a fantasy of desire for her. I was no longer concerned about the coldness in the air or the coldness of her touch.

A few short steps around discarded lawn furniture and we were quickly inside the house, alone. She replaced the key around her neck and looked at me with the eyes of a woman who wanted more than I imagined.

I felt a twinge of regret or maybe it was fear and excitement, or both, I don’t know. Although there was a chill in the air, I was too warm with lust to notice. She reached down and massaged the front of my pants and my eyes rolled backward. By this time, way too much tension had built up inside of me to remain still. I felt the urge to throw her on the ground and take her. Instead, I reached for her breast, but she caught me and guided the slacks into my hand.

I looked down at the material. I hadn’t expected this new development and started to say something when she brushed against me and said: “If you wouldn’t mind putting the on, it really turns me on so much to see a man wearing women’s pants.”

I thought to myself for a second and started to object when she added: “Oh baby, I can tell you are going to make me beg. Well how about if I just get a little closer and pout like this?”

She placed her lips together and started to whimper softly while her hand found my sensitive spot. She rubbed gently in circles until I found myself drifting into an orgasmic state of euphoria. As quickly as it began, she stopped her teasing and stepped back while I tried to regain my focus of the room.

Her arms were folder across her chest while she cast a look of disgust at me. “If you don’t want to do it, I’ll just have to find someone else who will!” she said.
She turned as if to leave the room and I began to panic. I imagined her naked body again and decided that it wouldn’t do any harm to play along with her until I got what I wanted. I didn’t think it would be any different than doing some of the other stuff I tried in the past to get sex. Besides, I thought, what’s a little kinky going to hurt?

“OK –- hey, no need to be in such a hurry, baby. Just let me find somewhere to sit down and change,” I said.

The room was sparsely decorated. A few chairs and a table that leaned toward the ground was the decor. I pulled one of the creaky, old wooden chairs away from the table and sat down. Soon her smile returned. I reached for my zipper and realized that my shoes got in the way. It took a little effort, but I managed to push them off and slipped out of my pants with a quickness of a man who was expecting to be rewarded for my efforts very soon.

The tight fitting slacks were difficult to get over my legs at first, but I managed somehow and stood to pull them over my butt. In the few minutes it took to get them on, I sensed a change come over me. The pants had begun to tighten at the crotch. A few seconds later, I began to feel cramps and nausea sweep over my body between fits of pain and pleasure.

The pleasure was a sickening feeling from the thousands of orgasms that brought instances of relief. I could feel my sex organs begin to change, become stiffened and fragile at the same time. Between each new wave of pain and pleasure, I saw LaDonna writhing on the floor as though she was making love to an invisible lover.

At last I was released from the excruciating pain that had controlled my body. A tugging on my zipper brought me to a climax and I whimpered. She gently pulled the material apart and reached inside the slacks. I was too exhausted and drained from the experience to offer any resistance whatsoever.

There was nothing for me to do except watch as she pulled my still hardened penis from the slacks and held it in front of her. She stroked it with her hands and smiled. I tried to scream before I lost consciousness, but it was too late as I was taken to a world of whispered darkness.

Later I woke to a darkened room. At first, I thought to roll over from a bad dream, but realized the hard surface of the floor in the laundry room had replaced my illusions of a warm bed. I panicked and reached down to touch myself. I placed my hands where I expected to find my penis and felt the openness of womanhood. I tried again to believe that it was a mistake, but found the same emptiness as before except now my fingers penetrated the folds of a vagina.

I found my voice and started to scream. In my head, I heard the sound of a woman’s voice escaping from my lips before my brain shut down from the shock.

As the last conscious thought raced through my brain, I could almost hear another woman’s voice beside me say: “What’s wrong baby, wasn’t the sex good enough for you!”

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Dummies Guide for the Psychopathic Assisted Suicide (spoof)

Here is a work-in-progress for a spoof of assisted suicide. I started the first few chapters, but please feel free to add comments and suggestions.


There are few instances where assisted suicide is an acceptable alternative to the Hippocratic Oath a doctor takes; to harm no individual. Given today’s hostile environment when it comes to assisted suicide, the intention of this guide is to provide the average individual a means to solicit and exploit the weaknesses many sociopaths exhibit while participating in their own personal anxieties.

Often the difficulty of finding a proper institutional setting for assisted suicide can be overcome with adequate planning. This guide will help you to find the best and most willing Psychopath for your immediate needs. Each chapter is a proven method to instigate even the most callous Psychopath into helping with the immediate need for suicide.

The tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Psychopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A psychopath never gets tongue-tied. They have freed themselves from the social conventions about taking turns in talking, for example.

Make fun of their verbal skills. Try to engage them in small talk and charm them with your wit. They will become a little annoyed and much easier to manipulate into helping with your problem.

A grossly inflated view of one's abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart. Psychopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.

They will often become very upset if you out bragg them. Try various attempts to belittle them, mocking helps, and be more opinionated.

An excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation; taking chances and doing things that are risky. Psychopaths often have a low self-discipline in carrying tasks through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks that they consider dull or routine.

Can be moderate or high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative, and dishonest.

The use of deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of one's victims.

A lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, coldhearted, and unempathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one's victims.

Emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness.

A lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.

An intentional, manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline, and inability to begin or complete responsibilities.

Expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting hastily.

A variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of several relationships at the same time; a history of attempts to sexually coerce others into sexual activity or taking great pride at discussing sexual exploits or conquests.

A variety of behaviors prior to age 13, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use, and running away from home.

An inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in life.

Chapter 14 - IMPULSIVITY
The occurrence of behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations, and urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences; foolhardy, rash, unpredictable, erratic, and reckless.

Repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements.

A failure to accept responsibility for one's actions reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial.

A lack of commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life, including marital.

Behavior problems between the ages of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes or clearly involve aspects of antagonism, exploitation, aggression, manipulation, or a callous, ruthless tough-mindedness.

A revocation of probation or other conditional release due to technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation, or failing to appear.

A diversity of types of criminal offenses, regardless if the person has been arrested or convicted for them; taking great pride at getting away with crimes.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Blades of Grass (Writing Sample)

Blades of grass pressed to the earth left droplets of dew on the toes of their boots.

Ten men kept pace, evenly spaced, down an unbroken path without leaving a trace.

They followed, never slowed, to a place they did not know.

The distant sound of gunfire echoed their sorrow.

They didn't stop to listen; no cries from fellows, no lies were bellowed.

The night glowed, hallowed and proud, for weary travelers both young and old.

Two men wore gray, one man blue, another draped in browns, five wore white, and the last a sash.

Each dressed as they died. Following one another without guise.

In silence, as in life, they passed though the fields leaving little for others to feel.

Yet others came, from afar and near, as called to pass muster in the killing fields.

Unknown, as they were, names without destiny. Troubled souls; long forgotten, long ago buried, were no longer harried.

They left as they came, soon joined, in silence.

As they passed eleven became their number with the distant thunder.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Edge of loneliness (Writing Sample)

The edge of the universe was at the tip of my tongue, but I couldn’t say it. Instead, I bit a piece of my universe and found myself in the middle of another dimension. This place held so many wonders that I was enthralled enough to wet my pants. There was no need for modesty in my universe for I was the only person in the vast expanse. For this, I found no great happiness, nor sorrow, only a tranquillity which comes from the unknown. I need not return, nor shall I ever expect to find what was never there in the first place. Yet, I am completely happy with my universe. I am content to stay here forever and then it will be my choice.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Fellow Horror Writers


Nice community of horror writers. Come by and visit sometime. Or leave something at their doorstep to get them all fidgeting uncontrollably.

Works for me.

First Sampling

This is a flash fiction piece I wrote on a whim. No place to put it, so I thought about throwing it out here for the heck of it. Sometimes practice comes in handy.

Cornellius replaced the blade in the groove of an oak tree where it was left for him. The dying soldier twitched one last time. It wasn't unexpected. Cornellius had seen many deaths at his own hand.

What he didn't expect was the soldier to smile as he exhaled this life for the last time. He didn't expect to feel remorse or guilt for killing his brother. It was his duty to dispatch traitors to the Empire. Yet, he felt betrayed.

He had waited so patiently for this moment. He had spend days preparing a story to lure his twin into the open. He lied to his own wife and children.

So why had his brother mocked him in death? Why had he not perished like other men? What had he seen in death that amused him so?

Cornellius turned away from the soldier. Beyond the valley men on horse galloped steadily toward him. Who were these men? Surely they were not traitors like his brother? Surely they would yield to his authority and let him pass?

He tried to smile, but the awakening of fear arched toward his chest. The groove quickly filled. He knelt to the ground and smiled. The sight of his brother's smile emptied all thoughts as the last stroke of metal ended his life.