Monday, September 27, 2010


Congratulations to September's winner Ross Cavins.  Out of 189 votes he received 120.  I felt he had tough competition and yet still received over 60 % of the vote.  Robb and Suzanne have nothing to be ashamed of, their scenes were terrific.  You just never know which genre will capture the interest of the readers that month.  Thanks for another successful contest.  Good luck in October.

I'm also including a link to Ross's book page for those interested in seeing more of his work.;

Friday, September 24, 2010


Here are the finalists for September's Strong Scene Contest.  Please vote to the right for your favorite Scene.  The winner will receive a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card.  Congrats to all the finalists.

A- Ross Cavins

Bobby counted off a hundred, then four more hundred, and made a show out of sliding the chips into the pot. One of two things would happen now. Either it would spook Blue or embolden the man to dig in.

The two players stared at each other, reading faces, trying to pick up the slightest hint what was going on in each of their minds.

"Well?" Bobby said, looking Blue hard in the eyes. He kept his face blank, raising his left eyebrow a hair, daring Blue to do something, playing to the man's ego. "Shit or get off the pot." It was his best poker joke.

Blue counted out four hundred and pushed it in the middle, then shoved in another four hundred right behind it, staring at Bobby the whole time. "Four more to you," Blue said.

Bobby pursed his lips together, narrowed his eyes, and bent the edge of his cards up so he could see them again, pretending he was considering what to do next. It was all part of the game. He slid a thousand in chips out, saying, "I'll raise."

Blue's mustache twitched and he gave Bobby the hardest look of the night. It was coming. Bobby could sense it; he could feel it on his head, like peppermint ants were having a family picnic up there, all of them scurrying around to make sure everybody got some food.

"What you got over there?" Blue said.

"It'll cost you to see."

B- Robb Grindstaff 

Getting through security took longer than Glenda expected. Sure, lots of former blonde beauty queens pushing two infants were terrorists. The carry-on, the briefcase, and diaper bag. Double-wide stroller which security scanned and patted down for hidden compartments. The screening by the TSA lady behind the curtain.

“What’s this?” TSA lady lifted a small, hand-held device with a suction cup on one end.

“It’s my breast pump.”

TSA lady crinkled her nose and put it back.
“These liquids are more than three ounces.”

“They’re milk for the babies. The sign says I can bring more than three ounces of milk for the babies.”

“Ma’am, the sign also says the milk has to be in the original containers.”

The stress of the past two days, getting the babies and her packed for an overseas flight, traffic snarls on the way to the airport, and now this. The stupidest woman on the planet delaying her further while her flight called for boarding.

Glenda began unbuttoning her blouse.

“What’re you doing, ma’am?”

“Showing you the original containers.” With a flourish, Glenda ripped the blouse open, letting the last two buttons fly, and dropped the flaps in the front of the nursing bra.

C- Suzanne Senden

Clara stood in the desolate field as the chilly December wind whipped about her. The fields were barren now. Broken corn stalks, once so full of potential lay scattered the wind tossing them about as it played in the ruins of the harvest.

She felt that the land was a metaphor for her life.

She sighed, her frosty breath enveloping her for a moment before it faded.

A light snow began to fall.

She loved the smell of snow, a cold dryness that tickled her nose. Usually the frigid fragrances of winter wafted on the wind long before the snow began to fall. She looked up as the flakes fell from a flat, leaden sky. She had heard someone call it Winter’s Communion if you put your tongue out to catch the flakes.

She could hear the chunky flakes as they plashed into the earth, landed on her shoulders and nestled into the hair.

Snow began to accumulate in the rutted furrows, transforming the land covering the broken stalks, making them over into something fairy tale wondrous. Soon the bleak land would be covered in a beautiful mantle of white, transforming everything.

If only her life could transform as easily.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Elmore Leonard's "Freaky Deaky"-- A Strong Scene

Below is the last part of Chapter 1 from Elmore Leonard's
"Freaky Deaky." To me this is a strong scene because
of the finish.  Leonard delivers the ultimate ending
to this scene.
Two bomb experts, Jerry and Chris get called
to a gangster's house to remove a bomb from
under a chair cushion which the gangster is sitting on.
If the gangster tries to get up, the bomb explodes. See how
Leonard crafts this scene so naturally:

"I couldn't get in the Jacuze quick enough, huh?"

"I doubt it."

"His feet might stay on the floor," Jerry said,
"remain in the house."

Chris agreed, nodding. "Yeah, but his ass'd be
sailing over Ohio."

Jerry moved from behind the chair to the French
doors. "We better talk about it some more."

Booker's head turned to follow Chris. "Where
you going? Hey, motherfucker, I'm talking to you!"

Chris stepped out and closed the door. He moved
with Jerry to the far edge of the slate patio before
looking back at the French doors in the afternoon
sunlight. They could hear Booker in there, faintly.

They crossed the yard, Jerry offering Chris a cigarette.

He took one and Jerry gave him a light once
they reached the driveway and were standing by
the three-car garage, alone in the backyard. Jerry
looked up at the elm trees. He said, "Well, they're
finally starting to bud. I thought winter was gonna
run through May."

Chris said, "That's my favorite kind of house.

Sort of an English Tudor, before Booker got hold
of it."

Jerry said, "Why don't you and Phyllis buy

"She likes apartments. Goes with her career image."

"She must be jumping up and down, finally got
her way."

Chris didn't say anything.

"I'm talking about your leaving the squad."

"I know what you meant. I haven't told her yet.
I'm waiting till I get reassigned."

"Maybe Homicide, huh?"

"I wouldn't mind it."

"Yeah, but would Phyllis?"

Chris didn't answer. They smoked their cigarettes
and could hear fire equipment arriving. Jerry
said, "Hey, I was kidding. Don't be so serious."

"I know what you're saying," Chris said. "Phyllis
is the kind of person that speaks out. Something
bothers her, she tells you about it."

"I know," Jerry said.

"There's nothing wrong with that, is there?"

"I'm not saying anything against her."

"What it is, Phyllis says things even some guys
would like to but don't have the nerve."

"Yeah, 'cause she's a woman," Jerry said, "she
doesn't have to worry about getting hit in the

Chris shook his head. "I don't mean putting
anybody down or being insulting. Like we're at a
restaurant, one of those trendy places the waiter
introduces himself? This twinkie comes up to the
table, he goes, 'Hi, I'm Wally, I'm gonna be your
waitperson this evening. Can I get you a cocktail?'
Phyllis goes, 'Wally, when we've finished dinner,
you gonna take us out and introduce us to the
dishwasher?' She goes, 'We really don't care what
your name is as long as you're here when we want

Jerry grinned, adjusting his Tiger baseball cap.

"That's good, I can appreciate that. Those guys kill

They drew on their cigarettes. Chris looked at
his, about to say something, working the butt between
his thumb and second finger to flick it away,
and the French doors and some of the windows on
this side of the house exploded out in a billow of
gray smoke tinged yellow. They stood looking at
the shattered doorway, at the smoke and dust thinning,
settling over glass and wood fragments,
shreds of blackened green-and-white debris on the
patio, silence ringing in their ears now. After a few
moments they started down the drive, let the people
waiting in front know they were okay.

Chris said, "Yeah, the twink comes up to the
table, says he's gonna be our waitperson. But you
have to understand, Phyllis wasn't trying to be
funny, she was serious. That's the way she is."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Internet (Guest post by Claude Bouchard)

I first met Claude Bouchard through Twitter. He was a fellow writer and seemed socially nimble, able to speak fluent writer's language, yet have a prankster mentality all at the same time. I decided one day to read his very first novel "Vigilante," and boy am I glad I did.  It's a terrific read.  He's now an experienced author of four Barry/McCall novels which began with "Vigilante."  Claude has been in the publishing trenches for many years, so when he has something on his mind, it's only right to give him a forum for his views.
He currently lives in Montreal, Canada with his wife Joanne and their two cats, Krystalle and Midnight.  Claude is represented by Tribe Literary Agency.

The Good, the Bad and the Internet:

When I started writing in 1995, any required research was done using reference books, encyclopaedias, maps, etc, as well as onsite visits if one hoped to write with accuracy. When it came time to query agents, the process was done by snail mail, with SASEs included, hopefully for a request for a partial or full manuscript but more often than not, a ‘thanks but no thanks’ letter sent with the stamp I paid for.

Then cometh the Internet; Slow at first, hardly user-friendly navigation on most sites and without necessarily a wealth of information. However, time does fly and we found ourselves nearing the year 2010, then beyond, with today’s Internet. Millions upon millions of users, sites, blogs, references, dictionaries, modes of communication, digital photos, videos, satellite maps and more, a researching writer’s dream. With works I’ve written in recent years, no longer was I required to head downtown to scope settings for exactitude, nor did I have to drive around North America or fly abroad to ensure that locations were as I described. Rare has it been that I couldn’t find that bit of information that I absolutely needed to make something just right. With finished works, the Internet allowed me to self-publish and make my novels available to the masses. It also allowed me to tell the masses, through social media platforms and other advertising, that my books were there for them. Thanks to the Internet, I even found my amazing agent without having to buy one stamp. Others whom I’ve met have had similar experiences and have produced wonderful works of literature as well. This is all good.

Because of the Internet and, more specifically self-publishing service providers, anyone can now call themselves a writer and I do, unfortunately, mean anyone. In the last year or two, I have come to realize that many of these ‘writers’ do not know what a writer, or a novel for that matter, actually is. Self-publication does not and must not mean that one can simply have stuff written, printed and bound in a book format. Yet, this is what many people do. Improper formatting, horrendous grammar, typos, poor or no research, spotty or lacking storylines all contribute to giving self-publication a bad reputation which it doesn’t deserve. I’ve read such books and given my opinion, with examples, to such writers to be told that, “That’s the best that I can do, I’m not a professional, I have no one to help me, I can’t afford an editor…” The list goes on. Writing is an art form and if one doesn’t have the talent to do so, one should not call oneself an artist, nor have the gall to expect the masses to pay for substandard work. When one does, this is all bad.

The Internet and the abundance of possibilities it offers are amazing resources but should be used as additional benefits and tools without letting established publishing standards slide.