Lawman: a short story

I could see dark spots where blood from others had soaked the backseat fabric of the police cruiser. The faint acrid smell of ammonia spoke of the latest attempt—probably by the rookie at the wheel—to erase these indelible marks of that which makes their job necessary. My knuckles, pressed against the small of my back, joined my lips to drip and trickle their marks onto the seat and my ripped shirt—a sort of defiant graffiti, saying to me, you were here: here are your genes and your father’s and your mother’s smeared in stains.

To my left, Lyle Christen was in much the same condition. His body had been all right angles since we were handled into the car: knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, eyes. He must have memorized the wavy pattern of the back of our driver’s head—if he was seeing it at all. The deputy (who couldn’t have been much older than me) reached back to gingerly scratch the spot on which Lyle’s gaze had been fixed.

At this, my old schoolmate turned toward me. The one eye he could open met my own. His shoulders were now less rectangular, and his spring-mud-brown lens, after that moment, retracted to focus on the air between us. One corner of his mouth turned upward, and he said, “You stupid bastard.”

I wanted to laugh and scream at the same time—laugh because it was equally true, strung in that space between us, and scream because it said far too little—the killing white-hot pilot light in my sternum inspired far more awful names.

Our chauffeur glanced in his rearview and said, “Quiet.” I knew he was a rookie because I’d never seen him around the station until a couple weeks ago. Now he was trying to imitate that gaze that made me feel cut from stone. They all did. He should’ve known better than to try on me an amateur version of what I’d lived with all my life.

Continue reading “Lawman: a short story”

Becoming PRO-fessional: what do you do when your blog doesn’t know what it wants to be?

choices crossroads

The Daily Post has some wonderful advice for beginners (like me) on sprucing your blog up and getting people to read it. The most practical takeaways (according to yours truly):

  1. You need better titles
    1. I can’t think of how to describe this need except to filch some great examples:
      1. The History of Philosophy, in Superhero Comics
      2. Henry James on Aging, Memory, and What Happiness Really Means
      3. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Little-Known, Gorgeous Art
  2. You can shorten your URLs to be more search-engine friendly!
  3. The biggest one, though, is that you should know


If you had to make a business card with the name and address of your blog (in a naturally tasteful typeset that perfectly conveys the tone you’re going for) and a tweet-sized statement of what it’s about — what would you put? “Walrus training and gourmet baking”? “Lots of my opinions on whatever I deem important”? “Literally my entire diet in Instagrams”?
Continue reading “Becoming PRO-fessional: what do you do when your blog doesn’t know what it wants to be?”

For my fellow writers: pump your imagery in 10 minutes

frustrated writer

It’s hard to find good creative writing prompts. Most of the ones I’ve seen online are too generic and cliched, and don’t actually inspire you towards good writing practices.

“Write about the ‘fickle finger of Fate.’ ” “Write about something ugly–war, fear, hate, or cruelty–but find the beauty (silver lining) in it.” Bleh.

This one, however, from Method and Madness by Alice LaPlante (p. 69), is a gem for working on imagery. We tend to default to working with visuals only, because these details are the most immediately obvious — but what about all the other ways in which we experience the sensory world? This will help you vividly transport your readers right into the scene.

For best results, I recommend setting a timer for 10 minutes and writing nonstop until it stops — turn your inner editor off!

All set? Good. Here’s the prompt:

…imagine yourself blind and…describe the objects of the world around you without the sense of vision.

Have fun!

NtP out

Want to work from home and be your own boss? Here are 14 glimpses of what it’s like.

It’s reading a two-day-old Times piece with the tagline, “A correspondent gets a lesson in the nuance of Chinese names” and calling it work because you sense it’s somehow important, and following that sense (against all common sense and voices of others and your inner voice telling you to stop wasting time) is all that’s made you any good so far at what you really want to do (that is, the Goal — the reason you’re working from home).

Continue reading “Want to work from home and be your own boss? Here are 14 glimpses of what it’s like.”

Becoming PRO-fessional: getting my fiction mojo

word rose flower

My approach to becoming a professional writer is two-fold:

  1. blogging professionally (duh)
  2. learning to craft literary fiction

I love telling stories, and getting paid to do it would be a nice bonus! Almost three years ago, I got a great start in writing fiction thanks to a great teacher and mentor. I wrote two award-winning short stories (here’s one). Since then, however, I’ve let it languish, and I haven’t produced a single new story.

But that is going to change — and soon. Continue reading “Becoming PRO-fessional: getting my fiction mojo”

Becoming PRO-fessional: engaging the Twitterverse


How I picture the Twitter

I tend to resist technological change. I still don’t know how to work a DVR, I use a computer made in 2004, and I’d rather carry five pounds of books than a six-ounce e-reader. Most of my tech knowledge comes from exposure through other people. I tend to be suspicious and dismissive of the new, the trending, the latest, and the popular.

But in becoming professional, that’s not gonna fly.

Continue reading “Becoming PRO-fessional: engaging the Twitterverse”

Becoming PRO-fessional: baby steps


Today begins my two-month, full-time journey of developing myself as a professional writer. Think of it as a short-term, unpaid internship at Nathan the Paul, Incorporated. By the end of this time, I’ll have learned/done a lot more about: Continue reading “Becoming PRO-fessional: baby steps”