Friday, August 31, 2007

Going Old School

I'm not always quick to embrace the latest technology. Only about six months ago did I break down and get a cellphone. I do not own an MP3 player although I bought one for my wife. I'm still on dial up. (though that one is not by choice) I really don't like computers, even though I love what they can do. I still struggle with all those terms and their meanings. Bytes, megahertz, rams, roms, sis boom bahs. I don't really care how or why it works as long as it does. Yeah I know I'm supposed to know some of this crap for work and despite my resistance a have learned a few things, but my technological know how really isn't the focus of this post.

So what is? I'm not sure, but follow along cause this could be a long explanation.

I started this blog and created a MySpace page (stop in and join my merry band of friends if you wish) primarily to get my name out there, market myself as well as my writing. I love and have quickly became addicted to the blogosphere -- Myspace I find rather tedious and for the most part way more trouble that it is worth.

But Myspace does have its usefulness. Just this last week I logged on and lo and behold I had a new message -- From my best friend through much of my school years.

Jason moved to my neighborhood when we were in the fourth of fifth grade, I think. Maybe it was third grade. Funny how I can remember somethings with great detail and others not at all.
Anyway up until them it had been me and my friend since kindergarten Mark, who terrorized the street. Then in a short time Jason and a kid named Brian Koontz moved in.

I have always been prone to giving my friends nicknames. I trait I still have. Fiddler are your reading this? Anyway Brian Koonts became Cootie, and Jason, who was going by his step-dads surname of Grubb at the time became Grubworm. Yeah I know Cootie and grubworm aren't the most endearing of monikers but young boys aren't known for being all that endearing.

Cootie moved away shortly thereafter and we never saw him again, mark moved across town which resulted in us growing apart although I will always consider him a friend as well. Last time I saw him was at my tenth high school reunion back in 2001.

So that left me and Grub (the worm got dropped after a while) for a lot of years. I'm sure his name will come up in stories on this blog, quite possibly in future installments of Terrible Tuesdays with Travis. When we hit high school our directions veered a bit, but our worlds expanded with the ability to drive so we didn't see as much of each other but there are lots of things that will always tie me and Jason together, including my writing.

Remember that movie Red Dawn, with Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen about a Russian invasion of a small town in Colorado? There is a good chance you don't, but back in the day me and my friends loved that movie along with another one called Cloak and Dagger about a young boy with a military hero as an imaginary friend. We often acted out Cloak and Dagger, but Red Dawn we actually rewrote and that is the first time I actually remember putting pen to paper and creating a story. Even though we stole the plot directly from the movie we changed the setting to Amarillo and the characters to ourselves. Okay, so we were dorks, but we had a hell of a lot of fun doing it.

Anyway after high school Jason joined the Air Force went off to exotic locales like Hawaii and Korea and I enlisted in another government agency the US Postal Service and got to visit other exotic locales like Norman, Oklahoma and Childress, Texas. (More on this town in a future post)

Jason came back once about a year or so after graduation but that is the last time I had seen or heard from him until he found me via myspace this week. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and two kids and is some type of computer guru. Nowadays he goes by his actual name of Jason Adams and if you pop over to his blog today you'll find out he is a traitor to my commune which I shall call Carnivore Cottage. You'll also find out he's not as skinny as he used to be and that his wife just might be smarter than both of us.

In the last week or so me and Jason have exchanged a message or two via myspace, a phone conversation, and he has left a comment or two here on this blog. He has made me remember things I had long since forgotten. I'm sure we are both very different people then we were as childhood friends, but it was very good to reconnect with him and I plan to make every effort to stay in touch. Maybe we'll never crawl around in another huge sewer pipe together, or maybe we will now that we are both legal drinking age, but life is too shy of good friends to let any of them slip away forever.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Heavy Meddlin' Highway

Why do so many people like to meddle?

I'm not talking about your wife or husband. You granted them the right to meddle once you uttered I do.

I'm not talking about your friends either. Sometimes their meddling is the only thing that saves us from catastrophe. Without them there would be even more conversations that started with one of these phrases. I told you she wasn't eighteen. What ever made you think you could make that jump anyway? And for the ladies. How was I supposed to know he was married and had three kids? Who knew regurgitated Cosmopolitans and Apple Martini's would stain the carpet? Trust me we need our friends around for those times we aren't thinking too clearly.

I'm not even talking about your mother. She earned that right by hours of childbirth or by that C-section scar. You owe her the right to voice her opinion. Sure most of us ignore what she says, but let her talk just the same.

I'm talking about the meddling of society at large, especially by those with fancy degrees hanging on a wall. Doctors, lawyers, chiropractors.

It has been well documented on this blog that my doctor has been meddling. He dared suggest I needed to eat more vegetables, shy away from fired foods and donuts. He even had the meddlin' nerve to hint I might need to lose a few pounds.

I won't even get started on those lawyers and their fancy laws, but I don't see any harm if a fellow wanted to place a little wager on his favorite football team. Even if he didn't happen to be in Las Vegas.

Generally speaking my chiropractor is a nice guy. He likes to hunt, fish, and discuss football while he yanks around on my skeletal frame, but today he climbed up the ladder and dove headfirst into the deep end of the meddlin' pool. He blames my recent bout of bad back-itis on the fact I like to sleep on my stomach. So now I got medical professionals telling me what to eat, what not to eat, how much to exercise and now I have one telling me how to sleep.

When I get rich and famous I'm gonna buy up an entire mountain in the middle of nowhere, grow me a ZZ Top style beard and live off the land. I'll only head down to town to head off on a book signing tour and to cash all those royalty checks because we all know that published authors get to do whatever they want.

And for anybody who believes that, I also had a big bowl of lettuce for supper. (In case your new to the blog I happen to think lettuce and 99% of all other vegetables are the devil.) But go ahead eat that stuff all you wants. That just means more meat for me. I know Alex will probably sign up to join my mountainside writers commune. (hope he's better with a rifle than a fishing pole) How about the rest of you, any takers?

Nope I didn't think so. Guess this means I'll have to head to work tomorrow. Damn the luck.

Of course I don't blame you. After all, I'm a long way from being rich and famous. But we all gotta have dreams. Now if people will just stop meddling with mine.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Terrible Tuesdays With Travis -- OH Deer!

Welcome to Terrible Tuesdays with Travis. This is actually the second edition, but the first with the brand new name.

So what is Terrible Tuesdays all about? Well it is the new regular weekly feature for this blog. One third a direct rip off of the TV show, My Name is Earl, one third - classic examples of my stupidity through the years, and one third confessional. So with apologies to Jason Lee, all my friends, teachers, ans mentors who tried to educate me, and the Catholic Church (since this is likely as close to a confessional booth as I'll ever get) here we go.

My original plan was to share a recent example of my stupidity since last week was a childhood story, but in honor of all the kids heading back to school and my oldest son who started first grade yesterday let me tell you about the first time I ever got swats at school.

Like my son I was in first grade. Mrs. Williams' class at Oakdale Elementary to be exact. This story takes place in late fall or early winter of 1979.

I come from a family of hunters. Dove, quail, deer, turkeys, elk, pheasants ... you name it my dad hunted and we ate it for supper, so when good ol' Mrs. Williams read Bambi out loud for the class I had a bit different angle on the story than the average kid.

Now even at a tender age of six I fancied myself as a storyteller, so after the teacher finished reading I began to tell my own version to a few of the girls in my class. Now my dad also did all of his own butchering, as do I now. I learned by watching him so even as a first grader I knew lots of gory details to add to my story. The girls shrieked and said things like gross, and ewww, and get away from you are are sick and demented.

Now me and my best friend Mark got quite a kick out of tormenting them and we were the type of kids to seize upon an opportunity. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so the next day I snuck a few photographs from home up to school. I proudly told the girls that here was what happened to Bambi's mom, and his dad too, and boy did they taste good.

Neither Mrs. Williams nor the school principal appreciated my wit or storytelling. The best i can recall both me and Mark got a couple of swats for our trouble and we had to apologize to the girls for traumatizing them. Unfortunately, that wasn't the last time a few tears from a girl landed me in trouble, but it was the last time I attempted to rewrite Disney classic.

Here is a picture of me hand feeding a Mule deer doe in my front yard in an effort to appease all of deerkind. I'm turning over a new leaf in dedicating myself to helping provide nourishment for the critters of the world. What's that you say? No, it is not the same thing as fattening them up.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Catching up

I made to Albuquerque and back all in one piece. Despite rumors of my supposed shoddy driving in the comments section of an earlier post. Just for the record I'm an excellent driver if I do say so myself.

As a follow up to the last post guess what we saw at the Zoo. For those you who guess giant Tortoises having sex you are right. But that doesn't mean you're not weird. I mean come on who could have guessed that? But there they were going at, and this was like the second or third exhibit we saw. I wanted to take a picture just to share with my blog readers but my wife wouldn't let me, so blame her for your loss. I guess love was in the air this weekend.

Also I had forty some-odd new visitors who stumbled across my blog after an internet search for Amy Winehouse. I hope the cheerleader story at least made them smile before they went on in search of something else. Usually people who find this blog via a google search typed in something weird like ... penis disease in bulldogs. Read here to find out why that phrase links to me.

So who won the name the, Name the New Tuesday Feature? Cher and MR. Shife will share the prize as I'm going to call it ... Terrible Tuesdays with Travis, so if both of y'all will drop me a line at travis @ I'll send you both a CD.

I'm way behind on my writing, auto repairs, blog reading, critiquing and just about every other thing in my life so this pathetic post will have to suffice for today.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Taking one for the team

Hilton -- $189 a night
EconoLodege -- $54 a night
Hilton -- $10 a day internet
EconoLodge -- Free internet

So what does the Hilton have that EconoLodge doesn't? Several things, but for this post I'll focus on one. MUCH THICKER WALLS.

Last night me, my wife, our two boys 4 and 6, and a 13 year old girl who is some friends of ours daughter stayed in room 220. An ex-cheerleader with singing ambitions occupied room 219.

You know that song Rehab by Amy Winehouse the one where she sings No, No, No over and over? Well the gal in room 219 had the lyrics all wrong. She sang Yes, Yes, Yes for half the night and let me be the first to say Simon Cowell would never let her go to Hollywood because she struggled to hold a key and sometimes she sang louder other times it almost sounded like a moan.

And then she would fall back into her cheerleader routine. Urge the crowd to give her a ... I never caught that last word but it sounded something like rock.

And then finally after a good bit of singing and crowd motivation, she turned her attention to urging the team on, and BOY you should have heard her when the team scored. Guess it was some kind of cheerleading flashback. I mean what else could it have been?

Friday, August 24, 2007

On the Road

Live! From Albuquerque it's Friday night!

Okay a few months back at stayed at the $189 a night Hilton of Americas and Omaha Super 8's (that is code for Paris Hilton for those new to the blog - click the link to read more) kinfolk charged me ten bucks a day for wireless internet, and now here I am at the fifty buck a night EconoLodge in Albuquerque's Old Town and I'm bringing this post courtesy of their FREE wireless internet.

Random observations from my whirlwind mini vacation.

Honey covered sopapillas and big hairy goatees DO NOT go well together!

What the heck is a safety corridor? there we were clipping along in the middle of no where and there is a sign that says Entering Safety Corridor- All traffic fines double. Is this just a ploy to rake in cash from us speeders of the world?

My wife is convinced that at any second I am going to kill us in a fiery crash. She constantly grabs what we call the Oh shit! handle and gasps when I merge, change lanes, turn a corner. Did I mention this drives me NUTS?

What we did today. Shopping in old town. (My wife has a turquoise and silver jewelry fetish)
Ate some very good Mexican food outside in a courtyard of a three hundred year old adobe structure. Heard a bit of a mariachi band concert. Ate some Pinon nut caramel apples. Swam. Did I mention the jewelry shopping?

Tomorrow, the zoo, aquarium, botanical gardens, and if I know my wife more jewelry shopping.

Pictures later.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Go away, I'm busy

Just when I go to bragging that the hardest part of my workday is getting out of bed, I have a hard day at work and get forced in to work today -- the first of my two days off. Karma strikes again, I guess. The oldest, most decrepit machine at the Ol' Post Office decided to kick up its legs and fall over dead, so I have been getting all greasy and dirty trying to get it back up and running.

What else is new? Not much. Plundered Booty the novel is up to nearly sixteen thousand words. I have not added a single word to my other novel in progress in over a month, so maybe that means I'm officially only writing one novel now. Hope you're happy Debbie.

The name the new Tuesday blog is going well. Gotta say Tuesdays with Travis, the suggestion brought by Mr. Shife is the leader right now, but Cher has her eye on the prize and she has come up with some good ones as well.

Friday and Saturday(I talked my boss into an extra day off for making me work today) me and the family are taking a quick trip over to Albuquerque so I can fulfill my promise to take them to the zoo and aquarium.

I'll leave you with this thought presented to me by a coworker. Used to be, all hurricanes given feminine names. Now days we get Dean and others with masculine names. Does this make them himacanes instead of hurricanes?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Name this Post !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The average person's life is a bit of a roller coaster ride, with varying degrees of highs and lows and you really never know what is coming next. One second your favorite song comes on the radio, you're singing along tapping the steering wheal to the beat of the music, then you pull into the driveway, open up your mail box and BAM! fourteen bills all due the same week. There went that good feeling.

Some of the hills and valleys are bigger. You ask the girl you love to marry you, she says yes, the bank approves the loan for that perfect little bungalow the two of you found togehter, and then BAM! she runs off with Carlos your favorite waiter from the little Mexican restaurant that has always been the two of y'alls spot.

No, none of that happened to me today. I had no earth shattering news to deflate my good news yesterday, but I do know how fast a fella's fortune can turn, and since I have poked fun at a lot of other people on this blog(old bosses, former friends, the general public) I thought it only right for me to occasionally take my turn in the barrel and tell you about a the times when I got a little cocky, or a bit too wrapped up in my own good fortune.

I think I will make this a regular feature every Tuesday kind of like I have done with the Feedstore Chronicles on Sundays. What I want is for y'all, my loyal readers, to help come up with a catchy name for these segments. I'll compile a little homemade CD of some good Ol' Texas music and mail it to the person that comes up with the best name by ... let's say Saturday.

I grew up on a pretty average middle class street. There were a dozen or so kids close to my own age within a block or two radius. Most days we congregated at the vacant lot that was catty-corner to my house. Sometimes we stayed there and played baseball, or raced our bikes, or tortured toads, others we took off for someone's backyard, or the park, or whatever. Occasionally, we fought.

There was this one kid named Robert Whitlow, he was a year younger than me and most of the time we got along but at least once a month we grated on each others nerves until we came to blows. In his defense I did have a habit of calling him Slobert Spitlow. Robert if you ever google your name and find this post consider it my apology. Like I said he was younger and smaller so I whooped him on a regular basis.(Nothing that I am proud of looking back.)

So there we were one day rolling around in the dirt. I had the upper edge as usual, which meant I was on top of him smacking him around or rubbing his face in the dirt or something. I was probably about twelve at the time.

Now I have said before that as a kid I got into the show and theatrics of Pro Wrestling. SO this one day I get the bright idea to throw the world famous Figure Four Leg Lock on Robert. I already had him whooped and now I could humiliate him, make him beg for mercy. After all, Ric Flair had recently won the NWA World Title with that very move and my older brother put me in it all the time so I knew it hurt like hell.

Robert was flat on his back on the ground so I stood up, held my chin up high, grinned at he crowd of other boys watching, just like Ric Flair would have done. I might have even let out his patent WHOOOO! as I grabbed Roberts right leg and spun around, when BAM! Robert reared back with his free left leg and kicked me square in the chest. Hard as a steel-shod mule.

Let me tell it is mighty damn hard to maintain that Ric Flair-esque swagger when you can't draw in so much as a single breath. And while you are struggling to breath it is outright impossible to remember how to finish applying the world famous Figure Four Leg Lock. And it doesn't take a kid very long to recognize his opponent is in a weakened state.

Yep, I'm here to admit Robert Whitlow walked away that day as the undisputed champion of the vacant lot. That was also the day the glory of Pro Wrestling faded and I had to admit it was all fake.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Mondays are great.

I love Mondays. Really I do.

Still waiting for the sarcastic shoe to drop. Well keep waiting because for me Monday's ain't that bad. And this Monday has been even better than not bad -- it's been outright nice.

I hear all you of you grumbling out there so let me explain.

Reason # 1 -- First off Monday is my hump day since Thursday and Friday is my actual days off. While most of my fellow coworkers are trudging around complaining how tired they are after a tough weekend, I'm thinking, My week is half over, cause let's face it getting out of bed is the hardest part of my day and once that is accomplished I pretty much consider the day whooped.

Reason #2 -- Monday nights I meet with my critique group and I look forward to not only getting some immediate feedback on whatever I'm working on at the time but I also get to hear some great stories and talk about books and writing with like-minded people.

Reason # 3 -- For at least part of the year Football is on.

Reason #4 -- This morning I opened up my email inbox. Right off I noticed I had received an email form an editor. Then I noticed it was from one of the literary magazines I submitted a short story to about ten days ago. Like always my heart kicked up a notch as I clicked to open it. Over the years I have come to expect the words ... sorry not right for us ... but this one started with ... This is very good. And this followed .. We would like to include your story in the November edition ... And they are willing to pay me for that right. Now in my book, Mondays just don't get any better than that.

I promise to give y'all more details once I receive, sign, and send back the actual contract, but the superstitious side me doesn't want to jinx anything right now. I wasn't even going to comment on this until later, but good news is meant to be shared. Here's hoping all of y'alls Mondays are outright nice as well.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Ho, hum

The back is on the mend. I returned to work today, albeit with a limp and a plan not to do anything strenuous. Course anybody that knows me will say there is no difference from the tender back Travis, and the normal, everyday-lazy Travis.

After a tough week my creative juices seem to be flowing again and I'm pleased with my latest writing efforts. Also I did manage to get a few of my short stories sent off to a variety of markets, and one query for my last novel. It feels good to have a few things out for consideration. Adds that little bit of excitement to checking my email, and to getting the mail.

I wish I had more to say or report, but I'm afraid you are stuck with yet another boring post from me. Maybe things will get more exciting now that I'm back among the upright.

I'll try to make up for my recent failings with an extra good Feedstore Chronicle tomorrow.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Making Maggots

Okay, I know that title is just plain nasty, but so is my mood these days. You'll figure out why I named this post that when you get to the end.

Summer is officially over. At least for my wife. She is a teacher and today marked her return to work for in-service days. The boys do not have to go back until Monday the 27th.

The back is slowly getting better, but this week of vacation still has turned out to be a huge disappointment. No fun trips to the New Mexico. No standing in a cold clear running mountain stream waiting for trout to take my offering, no hiking through the pine scented forest, no watching a herd of elk move gracefully up a mountain, and no stops at the Albuquerque Zoo.

It bothers me that I promised the boys we would go to zoo and I was not able to deliver. Guess I'll have to make a quick weekend trip to make it up to them.

Also I accomplished very little in the way of writing. If only I could find a way to invert my laptop and have it hover directly over me while I follow doctors orders and lay flat on my back. The one bright spot is the amount of reading I've done. Heartwood by James Lee Burke, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, and You Never Believe Me by Davis Grubb.

This morning I got up because could hear my six year old in the kitchen. My wife had already gone. He was intently staring at something in the window sill so I asked him what he was doing.

"Watching these flies wrestle," he replied.
I stepped closer and looked.
"See," he said that one is on top of the other one.
I nodded and reached for the fly swatter.
My son said, "Don't kill them. I want to see who wins."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

You might as well skip this post ..

'cause you will gain absolutely nothing by reading it.

Thanks to all of you who commented and wished me and my back well. I'm still on the mend and this computer chair still hurts like hell, but here are a few random thoughts from head to tide you over until I can stomach a real post.

1) The size of the turkey feather stuck in a guy's cowboy hat is directly proportional to his being an ass. The bigger the plumage the bigger the ass. Same goes for belt buckles. And what are you proving when you were spurs out the the bar? All observation made from a country bar I went to the night before the back gave out.

2) You can only lie on your back staring at the ceiling for so long before your thoughts turn to jelly. I've tried to write scenes in my head but so far every thought I've had withers and dies. Maybe it is the muscle relaxers.

3) I'm not as young as I used to be. Both number 1 and 2 led me to this conclusion.

4)I'm going to be a really grouchy old man.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Damn the luck.

No more repeats. Why? The Vacation has died a horrible and painful death.

My back which has hurt a bit off and on of late gave up fighting. I bent to put on my socks and my back locked up tighter than rusty set of vice grips. For three hours I laid still hoping it would get better. But nope. Eventually I crawled, yes crawled since that was the best I could do out to the car and my wife hauled me to the Emergency room. Here is what transpired there.

By the time we got there I was hurting so bad and sweating like a mass murdered on judgement day. An ER nurse brought out a wheelchair and a after a good bit of inching along I finally slumped into the seat. They while the same nurse tried to take my vitals, but my blood pressure had dropped so low they never were able to get it and finally they loaded me on a gurney and parked me out in the hall for three hours.

Every time my turn came up someone with a more urgent need bumped me down. A man who fought with a circular saw and lost, car wreck victims, pregnant women, people with chest pains. I'm not begrudging these people their pains nor would I want to trade with them but I did try to convince my wife to stab me with a pencil so we could maybe get a room.

Three hours in the hall. Another hour in the room before the doc showed. Another hour before they took me down to XRay. Another hour for nurse to come in and give me two shots in the ass. Another hour for nurse to come back and say he was going to release me but I should follow up with regular doctor.

All in all seven and a half hours and my back is still killing me, but I can stand straight and inc forward like a ninety year old man. Will post again when I can but this computer chair ain't the most comfortable. And I'll even try to think of something witty to say instead of a boring summary of my aches.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Paying for your raisin' -- A second helping

Hey, if your favorite televison show can trot out rerun after rerun for the summer why can't I. While I am taking it easy on vacation here is an older post of mine, called Payin' For Your Raisin' that many of you probably missed.

I've decided that writing a novel is a whole lot like becoming a parent. As I get serious on my, as- yet-untitled fourth novel, I am reminded just how tough the process can be.

Conception - This is the fun and exciting part. Daydreaming and coming up with story ideas is as exciting and blissful as sex. Every plot, or potential child, is full of potential. With every new idea and twist and turn I can interject I can visualize literary agents beating down my door, editors vying for the rights, book clubs and Oprah clamoring to read my words, best seller lists. Hollywood itching to convert my manuscript into film. Would be parents, visualize their unborn as the next Einstein, or Payton Manning, or Bill Gates, future president, or feel free to insert hero or heroine of your choice. No writer sees his book as just another rejection letter and no parent sees his child as a crack addict.

Birth - Reality sets in when that great idea hits the paper in the form of words, sentences, and paragraphs. Or when you have to slip out of a nice warm bed to comfort a crying baby at three in the morning. Then you realize that some of the stuff in your head just doesn't work in print. You stare at your first couple of pages and say this is crap. The stench makes you gag like a first time dad changing a dirty diaper. Oh, but there are those moments. That one great metaphor you come up with, or that exciting new dimension to one of your characters. It's kind of like that first time your child reaches up of their own will and touches your face. You realize, Hey I created this and the cockles of your heart turn all warm and fuzzy. What is a cockle anyway?

Terrible Two's - Okay, so a manuscript can't throw itself on the floor kicking and screaming. It can't yell no and kick you in the shin. But a novel in the beginning stages of life can be unruly just the same. Characters that do not develop the way you envisioned. Secondary characters who develop too well and threaten to override their supposed stronger and more interesting rivals, YOUR PROTAGONISTS. Plots can suddenly wither and stop growing. Complications arise that make your entire story implausible or just ridiculous. Like a young child testing the boundaries this first rough draft stage is a writers test to see if they remain focused and take a story from beginning to end.

Going to School - Potty training is over. You've laid the groundwork for you baby but now it's time to send them out in the world. Kindergarten or critique group. First grade or a contest entry. Is it any harder to have somebody say I hate your heroine and the plot doesn't make sense, than it is to hear your child bit little Timmy Smith, or I had to send him to time out because he refused to sit down and listen? But just as you child needs the attention and guidance of classroom, so does your novel. That is not to say you want a teacher or to raise your child or someone else to write your novel, but sometimes it takes that objective unbiased person to take a look and say this needs to be changed.

Graduation - I haven't gotten this far with my own children as they are still young, but I can imagine how proud I'll feel when it does happen. I have experienced that surge of pride of finishing a novel. Three as a matter of fact. It is quite a n accomplishment to hoist that four hundred page stack of paper after it has gone through my critique group and half a dozen readers, and say I did this . I finished a novel. That is when it is time to send it out in the world on its own via query letters to agents.

I'm Only Guessing - Just as my children have not reached the graduation stage yet my novels have not progressed beyond the solicitation stage. But I correlate getting an agent with being accepted into a college. Sure there are the Ivy League of literary agents and then there the community junior college ranks of agents. I'd stay away from the online technical and vocational agents since they are likely to charge you fees for things such as editing and what not. Then I'd associate an editor as grad school and so forth. I think you get my idea. So you send your little charge out in the world and if you are talented, lucky, and persistent it is accepted, everyone loves the little guy and before you know you're grandparent. Yes, that truly is how a sequel is born.

As always feel free to comment even though this is a repeat.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Birds, Books, Booze, & things hanging from my pants.

Nothing makes a guy feel more giddy than vacation-eve. After today I will be on vacation for nine, count them 9 glorious days. Blogging will be sporadic at best and I think I'll do a bit of cheating and repost a couple of blogs for the first week or two since only about a dozen people stumbled across them. But I'll think of y'all when I'm off messing around in New Mexico. Don't expect A Feedstore Chronicle on Sunday. If you need your redneck fix click here and catch up on, or reread one of the dirty dozen already posted. And don't be afraid to add a comment to an old post. I'll still see it.

Remember my post about me twinkle-toed son? Well he took another round of tap and ballet his summer, but he's had a tough time trying to decide upon his extracurricular activity for the fall. He wanted to take dance again, and then we got a flyer in the mail about flag football. Well, that seemed pretty cool to him as well. My four year old has been itching to play soccer (the only sport available for his age) so that was already on the agenda. I figured one activity per child was enough so I told the six year old he would have to choose -- tap or flag football? He wavered back and forth and finally with big blue eyes almost in tears said, "Please let me do both." So I gave in. Who knows, maybe the cross-training will help him tip-toe through the line and pirouette away from defenders.

My six year old wanted to know about his helmet. I told him you didn't use a helmet in flag football. "What will I use?" he asked. At this point I told him about the objective of flag football -- to pull the flag out of the opposing players pants.

My four year old who'd been listening in frowns, cocks his head to the side and says, "For reals?" Apparently yanking an object out of somebody's pants did not seem very appealing to him, but that didn't stop us from heading outside to give it a try.

You should have seen us practicing in the front yard last night. There we were in the front yard, all four of us with a pair of my old socks dangling from out hips. For a while my four year old refused to believe the object of the game was to snatch a flag from the other teams pants, but after a while he caught on, and what he lacked in size and speed he made up for in sheer determination.

Writing is going well. I'm up to the 10,000 word mark on Plundered Booty and hope to add five or six thousand words during my time off. This morning in the shower an idea hit me for a flash fiction piece that I wanna get down as well. It will twisted and ironic and less than 300 words long. The title? In A Perfect World ...

Something I learned this week ... Coconut rum and Sprite really doesn't taste all that good together.


Yes, this is the incoherent rambling blog, but what did you expect from a guy on the precipice of vacation?

I need to update the list of books on the right that I have recently read. They are, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling, Don't Look Down by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer, and Pigs In Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver. As an aside, I'd love to hear a few of y'all's recommendations on novels with a humorous tone.

Think I'll leave y'all with a humorous story of my own. Sorry for the long post but since it might be a while before you get another one I figured you could handle it. By the way this story is another true account from my bizarre life.

"Tweet, tweet," said the bird.
"Cheep, cheep," said the bird.
"Tweedly do," said the bird.
"Honk, honk, chirp, chirp," said the bird.
"Ring a ding, caw, caw, hey, hey, hey," said the bird.
"Hey you big hairy guy. Wake up! and get your fat ass out of bed," said the bird.

Okay, the bird didn't actually say that last part, but he might as well have since the damn Mockingbird did run through a complete repertoire of other sounds, including a phone and car alarm. And he did all of this between the hours of midnight and five A.M. for a string of five or six nights. In the giant bush that butted up against our bedroom window.

This story might seem like a stole it from that movie Failure to Launch, but this happened to me four or five years before Mathew McConaughey stripped down broke out his bongo drums.

Now my lovely wife would sleep right through that bird's screeching. I had to wake her up just so she would believe me. So then I started going out just before bed and shaking that bush as hard as i could. The bird would fly off only to return and torture me at the bewitching hour. There was no nest I looked. The next night I turned the hose on the bird. It flew away, but came back to serenade me once again.

This went on for a week. Lack of sleep does things to me. I become crazy, grouchy, irrational. At the time I was playing roller hockey. Add in a bit of physical fatigue after a game against a team from Canon Air Force Base (those guys hated me with a passion because in my first ever game I accidentally bloodied their best players nose, but that a is another story for another day) and I was in no mood to battle that bird.

But at two thirty in the morning it sang out. Loud and proud. I threw back the covers and stomped out to the living room. Clad in only my underwear, I grabbed my hockey stick and headed for the front yard. For a god ten minutes I cussed -- ranted -- and raved while pummeling that bush with my hockey stick. If those Air Force boys had seen that stick play they never would have mouthed off to me again. I beat the limbs until my arms ached and I was completely out of breath then I went back to bed.

My chest still heaving, I slipped quietly between the sheets thinking my wife was still asleep. After all she'd slept through the bird's concert there was no reason to think my avian induced rage had disturbed her beauty rest.

But then from out of the darkness came a voice, "You all right."
"What were you doing out there?"
"Beating the bush with my hockey stick," I said this as if it were the most normal thing in the world.

A few minutes of silence.

"In your underwear?"

More silence.

"What if the neighbors looked outside and saw you?"
"If they have nothing better to do that stare out their window at two thirty in the morning than so be it. One look at me in my underwear ought to convince them not to do it again." Then I rolled over and went to sleep in the blissful silence.

That morning I got up and went to work. Afterwords, I stopped by a friends to borrow their chainsaw and before I even walked inside to say hello to my wife I fired that thing up and cut that bush to the ground. My wife heard the noise walked out to the porch, looked at me and only shook her head.

To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my all time favorite books, but let me tell you, the title had a whole new meaning for me after that experience.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Pop a Top.

I've been in both good critique groups and bad, but I gotta say the one I'm in now is just dang near perfect for my needs. We talk about the books we've read, discuss a bit of life and then settle down to our stuff. Each of us reads up to twenty pages from our current project and then we tear into each other. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Actually, there is very little ugly since every member has a good deal of talent, but every once in while some things just doesn't work, and this group will point that out if need be. But there isn't a shred of jealousy or competition among the four of us, which is great.

Last night we had reason to break out some champagne since Alice, had news that she had sold a short story. I'll wait until the contract is signed and she knows which edition before I tout the magazine and urge all of you to rush out and purchase a copy.

Now I'm not ordinarily a fan of the ol' bubbly, but last nights serving tasted great. Whether because Vicki isn't a cheapskate like me, and therefor buys higher quality booze, or because we were toasting the sweetness of success I can't say, but I did partake in two servings.

I'm, also happy to report the first twenty pages of Plundered Booty the novel were met with positive reviews. Oh sure, they picked on my notorious bad grammar and punctuation, but character wise and plot wise most of the comments were of the favorable variety.

And Alice's success has motivated me to send out a few of my short fiction pieces. I have done a horrendous job of marketing any of my short stories and I've promised myself to do better. So come on fellow writers help me out. Where do you find out about markets? I know about duotrope, webdelsol, but what are some other resources that y'all use?

Monday, August 6, 2007

Call it what you want, but ...

I'll be the first to admit it. I'm a simple guy. I like very basic things, especially in the food department.

Meat. That is my specialty. I'm one step shy of being a carnivore. Beef, pork, chicken, seafood, a wide variety of wild game. All of it is fine , long as you cook it. Raw fish is bait not food and meat that is still bleeding is merely wounded, not ready to serve.

Anyway you name a meat and there is a good chance I've eating it, maybe even made jerky from it, but don't ruin good meat by smothering in some fancy damn sauce or piling on a bunch of green crap and calling it herbs. Fry, bake, grill it, dehydrate it, but don't get any fancier with it that sticking between two pieces of bread. Ahhh ... Meat Sandwich.

Think of that stuff up above as your prologue, since I'm just now getting to the MEAT of this particular post.

What's wrong with calling a spud a spud? A burger a burger? A sandwich a sandwich?

Gotta be something cause all of a sudden every commercial, fast food chain, and frozen dinner company around is offering something called a panini. Looks like a hot sandwich with some fancy grill marks to me.

Now I understand why people stopped calling Tuna, dogfish. I mean most people are rather fond of man's best friend, unless you happen to be in Michael Vick's close circle of friends, and I can understand how the name dogfish would deter sales. Same thing with Mahi Mahi. Sure they are really dolphin fish but when you say dolphin most people think porpoise and start thinking of The Lassie of the sea, Flipper. Same exact show with a different animal star but that is another post for another day.

But why panini? I happen to like the word sandwich, and between you and me the word panini sounds like a slang term for the lower portion of a woman's anatomy. Sure go ahead, and laugh but it sounds better than Vajayjay which seems to be the trendy word of late. I say we all boycott the word panini and just call the damn things what they are, hot sandwiches.

I'm going to stop here because the rest of thoughts and metaphors would only lead me down a twisted and bumpy road. Which would probably get me in trouble, but I'm curious what other words or product names do you think are misnomers. What word makes you giggle like a room full of nine year old boys at every mention of the word Uranus?

Saturday, August 4, 2007

And the winner is ...

No, not for the grand prize game. You'll have to read down to the end of this post for that info. But I gotta say I've gotten far more out of this blog that I ever counted on. I have met many wonderful people via our cyber connection, discovered several really good books and talented authors, and made some valuable contacts. I'm truly thankful for all of you who take time out of your day to read my crazy thoughts. And yes this whole contest has been a shameful bribe to try and lure some of the lurkers out of hiding. In just a hair over four months this blog has received over 40,000 hits. It seems to grow every week and an average day any more is in the neighborhood of 6oo hits from three or four hundred different IPs a day. I Only ten to fifteen percent of y'all comment and I was curious about the remainder of readers. The contest did help by the way, I used to only get four or five percent to comment.

During the contest I heard form 57 different people. Only 13 of which have I ever met in person. So that means I have 44 brand new friends that I never would have known without this blog.

Here were the top 5 contributors between July 10th and now. I disqualified my lovely wife from both the competition and the top since I didn't want any cries of nepotism. Besides she's already won the grand prize ... ME. Hey, why are all of y'all laughing?

1) Bluefingers - 21 comments
2) AlternateFish- 14 comments
3) Alex Keto- 13 comments
4) Tena - 12 comments
5) The Duck - 11 comments

Only, Bluefingers and Alex have I met in person. And the three of us only met in February at a writers workshop out in Arizona.

Thanks to all of you and as I get time I'm trying to add more of you to my blogroll. If you have given me a link on your site or blog and I haven't returned the favor, please let me know. Now for the winner ....

Oh, the suspense. I thought I'd explain how the winner was chosen first. I wrote down all the names of those who commented. Then I went back to the post where I announced the contest and started writing a number beside each name. Then I walked up to an unsuspecting coworker this morning and said Give me a number between 1 & 198 and she said, 48 which just happens to be Brooke.
Congrats, Brooke if you will drop me an email at travis @ (no spaces) so I can figure out how to send you your fabulous prize package, which among other surprises will hold autographed copies of Potter Springs by Britta Coleman and Seven by Seven by Deborah Elliott-Upton.
Both of these authors are extremely talented and I'm lucky to call them friends. For those of you who didn't happen to win. Treat yourself by clicking on the links and ordering a copy of both. By the way Brooke offered up nine comments during this time period which tied her for the seventh most.

So thanks again to all and don't let the end of the contest be the end of your commenting. If I can figure out how to do it, I'm going to deliver an upcoming Feedstore Chronicle orally via a YouTube video. I think it will be fun to try. Here's hoping I find a way to keep this blog interesting, fun, and entertaining for the next one-hundred posts.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The rest of the Booty story

31 days in July - 31 posts.
1 day gone by in August - Zip, Nada, Zilch from me.

But the good news is I hammered out another chapter of Plundered Booty last night. I'm up to seven thousand words on the novel.

So to finish the thoughts from the last post. How am I going to make the story ten times it's original length? Now back in grade school I would have added word count something like this.

I like Rum very, very much. Especially the very, very extremely tasty Vanilla and coconut variety.

But I doubt the word very would take me VERY far with agents. So here is my list of tactics.

1) Slow down- I feel like my greatest weakness when it comes to short stories is that I tend to slip into the telling mode rather than showing. I'm sure my fellow writers know what I mean but since more and more of the readers are not writers I'll give you a fifty cent example.

Telling- Joe-Bob was mad. He doesn't like me.
Showing- Joe-Bob slammed the door behind him as he stomped into the garage and said, " I knew you would be in here sitting on your lazy ass." Disgust on his face he harked up a loogie from deep in his chest and spit right in my eye.

The second example gives the reader the exact same impression in a much more colorful and disgusting way. this is an extreme example but I would say fifty percent of the added length will come from slowing the story down. The trick will be to do this in a way that remains interesting and funny. Filler for the sake of filler is never a good idea.

2)Characterization- Both the short story and the novel are told from a single first person perspective. In the short story I concentrated solely on his, The Captain, and Junior's, The Captain's boss, character traits. Sure I mentioned others, but I didn't have the time or space to devote many details. A reader will get a much better picture of the secondary characters in the full length piece.

3)Added Scenes and conflicts- For the short I stuck mostly to the car dealership where Captain works. For the novel I am creating an entire town, Red Dirt, Oklahoma. The place is chocked full of imaginary restaurants where the reader will get to know the Captain's wife, all of her. I only hinted at the deficiencies of their marriage int eh short but like a bad Jerry Springer episode I will expose all for the novel. And then there are the conflicts between the salesmen at the dealership.

Hope this answered your question Terrie.

By the way this is post number 99. That means I will be drawing and announcing the winner of the grand prize game very soon. Like Saturday. Remember every comments gives you one entry, so between now and Saturday throw in your two cents worth on any post between the one linked above and this one. July 10th to the present if you prefer to go by the dates.

Last time I posted a short excerpt from Plundered Booty- The Novel, so here is a bit from the original short story. Let me know what you think.

Junior had his arm across her shoulder. His right hand dangled mere inches from … from … what words can I use to describe the thin red fabric of her shirt … or the tightness of said fabric. Or my resentment at seeing Junior’s hand so close.
“Those can’t be real,” Dave said just loud enough for me and Rex to hear.

“Who cares,” Rex answered his eyes still transfixed on Eva. “Three quarters of the lakes are man-made. That doesn’t mean I don’t wanna fish their waters.”

Junior and Eva disappeared into his office.

That body, those clothes, her confident demeanor. They should have been my warning sign,
Dangerous Curve Ahead. But those eyes. They made me hit the gas. They made me go in too fast. They made me plummet off the edge.