About last night…

Once upon a time… I’ve never actually started a story with those words, not outside the ones in my head. In the real world, the world living on a computer screen and scraps of paper in my car’s glove box, most of my stories start mid-action. “Here I am!” my character’s say. “THIS IS GONNA BE A FUN RIDE!”

Sometimes, that is the honest truth. Others, it’s a lie, lie, lie… But does it matter? No. For I have written and everything is right in the world–for that one moment.

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circa 1982-83

I started writing a long time a go. But not seriously. I refused to take myself seriously–because I knew (deep down) I wasn’t good enough. The little voices I’d allowed to crawl into my head ate at my confidence like a necrotizing fasciitis. And I believed them.

Until I didn’t.

Until I decided to ignore them and to keep trying anyway.

It took awhile to get there.

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circa 1997

 

And life kept happening around me.

I’d say, “One day, I’ll write.” or “One day, I’ll be a writer.”

The push kept pushing–but the fear was more than I could manage for a long time. With a million and one, distractions along the way…

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I “one day’d” myself to death….

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But then I took a chance and I stopped saying “one day.” Maybe I didn’t start with, Once upon a time, but I tapped out letter after letter, word after word–IGNORING–the acid voice in my brain that says things like, “Well, aren’t you trendy?” or “You know someone else tried that already. What makes you so special?”

I DID IT ANYWAY!

And I sent it out via the magically world of the internet–and someone said yes.

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Made in L.A. Writers at The Last Bookstore in DTLA

I don’t know what “making it” looks like to you–but last night was pretty spectacular. And, the voices were quiet.

The voices ARE quiet.

Because–

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It’s not always a fairy tale, but what’s so bad about that? Who wants a fairy tale when you can make new friends who lift you up as you try to lift them up, too? Not me.

“Once upon a time, there was a woman who always thought she couldn’t. But then, one day, she did.”

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circa last night

 

The End

(visit: Madeinlawriters.com for more information about Volumes 1 & 2 of the Made in L.A. Anthology.)

Made in L.A. – Chasing the Elusive Dream

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Cover design by Allison Rose

I’ve been sitting on this one for a while now but it’s time to share. I have a short story coming out in the soon to be released anthology, ‘Made in L.A.: Chasing the Elusive Dream.’

It’s a collection of stories written by thirteen local Los Angelenos and I’m honored to be sharing the pages of this anthology with them and will post more about them, the anthology, the L.A. Times Festival of Books (where the book will be launching from), and how you can buy a copy soon!

For more in depth information right this second go here and check out the Made in L.A. official website.

xxoo – A

The Laugh

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There is a man in my building, I’ll call him Mike. That is not his name, but it will do for this story. He is a short man, round in size. Actually, he’s shaped more like an egg than a basketball–but that’s not what sets him apart from the rest of those living in my urban paradise.

His hair is black, naturally straight as a spade–but he perms it. It’s his ‘thing.’ Once again–not that defining factor (even thought it probably should be.)

What sets Mike apart from the rest of my block is his laugh. He has the laugh of a 1970’s villain’s sidekick. You know the character. He’s the guy who accidentally takes a rake to the chest because he wasn’t paying attention and stepped on the handle as he ran away from the hero of the story. When I hear the piercing sound of his punctuated howl, I nearly always pause for Luther to say, “Warriors, come out to play-i-ay!” even though I’m not in the subway and no where close to New York City.

Testing 1, 2, 3 the warriors can you dig it movie 1970s

Once, a long time ago when I first moved into my apartment, Mike wanted to be my friend. He would joke with me, and I would smile and look interested–rarely did I know what he was talking about. He’s about eleven shy of a dozen… I would like to make it clear, this wasn’t some sort of hiccup due to language barrier, Mike is just an odd man. Plus, my poker face stinks.

Now, Mike doesn’t acknowledge me at all. Not even a nod or a simple hello. It was after this courtyard dismissal I became privy to the laugh (that is normally mixed with techno and tighty whities.) He’s in a class all his own, and with our non-existent relationship–I have no way to record this chuckle. None that are legal anyway.

Alas, dear friends. What am I do do? As a writer I NEED to record it! I need to post the track on here!! I need to add it to my current WIP, or at least something I write in my life.

All of Mike needs to be in a book. All five-foot-five-inches of him, with his ovoid shaped frame, and even he jet black spiral perm. I see him perched on the edge of his antique folding tattered lawn chair, seated behind his Audi (it’s a mystery how he upgraded from a white battered gremlin to this luxury hatchback–but that’s a whole other post), with the car’s stereo speaker blaring, as he listens to his earbuds.

Mike is a character that belongs in a book–and not cackling under my bedroom window for many reasons. Most of which would keep me sane. The only reason I don’t slam my music and turn on my own music is that laugh you may never hear…

[This is how I find characters for my stories. Some fit in perfect, others I dissect and keep the part I’ve grown to love (or loath). Mike is a very real person. Almost too real. My theory as to why he’s in my life is it keeps me from being to serious all the time. Life is too short not to find a hyena laugh hilarious.]

 

Friday in Review: Ham on Rye

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I visited Bukowski’s grave after moving to Los Angeles. It’s in San Pedro, about a 40 minute drive from my apartment. Better yet, my apartment is about a ten minute drive from the house he grew up in. Well, not better for Chuck ‘ol boy – it wasn’t really a happy home.

To put it mildly, I am a Bukowski fan and have been for years. Oddly, Ham on Rye is a book I’ve only read recently (because someone stole my copy). <- true story. The reason it is so odd is Ham on Rye is by far his best book. I liked Factotum, I loved Women and Hollywood, and I was even amused by Pulp (his last book published shortly before his death 20 years ago.) Say what you want about the man – hate him for all I care – but Ham on Rye is one of the most genuine coming of age stories I have read in a very long time. Starting from when he is 3 years old and ending at the beginning of World War II, Bukowski takes on his alter ego “Hank” and tells you his story like it was. (With a little embellishment here and there just to give it that extra flair.)

Are there women? Some.

Is there booze? Of course.

Why is this different from all of his other booze induced, women laced books?  Because it shows you the “why”. Why did he become the man he was? Why did he crawl inside a bottle? Why was he so obsessed with women and words? Every single answer is right there smashed between orange groves, high school angst, the great depression, and trolley rides to and from Pershing Square.

Loud, brash Bukowski is known for getting right in your face and saying, “What the hell are you going to do about it?” That quality is still there, but that’s not what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the spider. The small tiny moments that subsequently mould us into our adult selves.

So that’s why I pick this book. I pick Charles Bukowski for his poetry, for his soul, and for his courage to say out loud all those things that are very easily hidden behind booze and broads. Maybe you’ve read him, or maybe he is new to you – this is the place to start.

Ham on Rye won’t let you down.

“So, that’s what they wanted: lies. Beautiful lies. That’s what they needed. People were fools. It was going to be easy for me.”

 

Maybe it wasn’t always easy, but it was totally worth it.

 

Please feel free to recommend books below!