Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Newspapermen: A Connection Home


Writer’s Bone’s ongoing fiction series The Newspapermen follows the tireless reporters of a major metropolitan newspaper in the late 1930s. If you need to catch up, order a stiff drink and read Chapter 1: Ink and Drink Club.

By Daniel Ford

Chapter 2: A Connection Home


“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“I’m afraid I am.”

“I mean, I’m game for anything Boss, but this...”

“I know. It’s lower than low.”

“And you agreed to this?”

“Not agreed so much as indignantly walked away. I think he knows from my stern stomping that I was protesting the order.”

“But you’re going to make me write this…fluff piece anyway?”

I swallow half of my new bourbon. Harsh. Hurt all the way down. Instead of a warm glow, it felt like it turned a flamethrower loose down my throat. Cheap bastards. Can’t even lube us up with proper booze.

“I told him we weren’t going to run it,” I say.

“Whew. You had me going there for a little bit.”

“But we’re going to run it.”

“Wait…”

“For some reason, this town is in love with this pile of kittens. The mayor is having a press conference about them. I never liked cats much. I’m more of a dog guy. If this had been about a couple of mutts, I would have given the story column inches on the front page. Below the fold of course.”

“Boss, how much of that rotgut have you had tonight?”

“You don’t see where I’m going with this?”

“You want to adopt a puppy? I don’t think the missus would approve.”

He’ll get to where I want him to go eventually. He doesn’t have the instinct yet. He’s got the writing skills. I’ll keep beating the reporter skills into him until I don’t have to call him into my office every five minutes. Maybe every two minutes now that he’s got his eyes on Shirley.

“The mayor is going to field a lot of softball questions about these kittens. You’re going to be the only one asking about policy. That is until he throws you out. Is that about right?” A female voice said.

Speaking of Shirley. I hadn’t realized she had been eavesdropping on our conversation. I’d be making my own coffee sooner than I thought.

“Exactly,” I said. I force down the rest of the awful liquor. I pick up a flute of champagne and quickly down it to cleanse my palette. A man can’t possibly be expected to think clearly with bad hooch in his gullet. “Kid, you’re going to take Shirley with you so she can get pictures of you getting thrown out on your ass. You can take pictures can't you?”

“Yes sir!”

The cub didn't look good. Must be feeling like someone just pantsed him at his own birthday party. I felt bad, but some lessons are best learned the hard way. My father instilled that in me while he was wailing away on my hide with his belt.

“What should I be asking?” The young gun asks. There was an edge to his voice now. Trying to get his bearings back. He straightened his tie and unrolled his shirtsleeves. He’s starting to think now. I could see it. He was already a few steps ahead of where I wanted him to be. Never a bad thing.

“We can talk more about it in the morning. There’s something fishy coming out of that office. Been quiet for weeks. Now this kitten story? What kind of dander are those fur balls covering up? We're going to find out. We can strategize in the morning. You two have fun."

"Where are you going?" Shirley asks.

"Home," I say. "Kiss the wife. Check the kids."

"Say hi for me, Boss."

"Shut up. Shirley, go easy on him. You might be dealing with a first-timer."



I felt at home when I walked through the door. The empty desks and abandoned typewriters were good company on a night like this.

I pull the chain on my desk lamp. Nothing happened. Lean back in my chair. Took a deep breath. Reach for my bottom drawer. Wrap my fingers around the neck of my emergency bottle of port. I pour some into the paper cup that my morning coffee spent half the day in. First sip was heavenly.

I pick up my phone.

"Another late night for you. Remember what your wife looks likes Mr. Graham?"

"Funny. Can you patch me into the homestead Marie?"

"You're not waking her up are you?"

"She'll be awake."

"If you say so."

Silence. I wish the line would take forever to connect. I knew my wife's tired voice better than I knew her figure. Never a good long term strategy.

"You going to beat the milkman to our doorstep tomorrow?" She asks.

"Are the bets in yet? Can I still make a wager?"

"Will, you're a writer. We don't have any money to gamble away."

"Damn. Always something."

"Don't work too late. Girls missed you tonight. They want to know what happens to the princess after she escaped the dungeon."

"I'll be home in a bit. Something big about to go down. Need to be ready when it does."

"You heard what I said about the girls right?"

"What's that?"

"Never mind. I love you."

She didn't wait for a return "I love you" before hanging up.

I stuck a cigar in my mouth and lit the end of it. I insert a fresh piece of paper into my typewriter. Guided by the red glow at the end of my stogie, I start writing.

To be continued...

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bruce, Bourbon, and Books: Welcome to Nebraska

Official video of Bruce, Bourbon, and Books


By Daniel Ford and Dave Pezza

It’s important to take a step back from the daily grind and pay attention to what really matters in life. You know, like good music, alcohol, and literature.

This semi-regular series will expertly pair a Springsteen song, a good bourbon, and a quality book for your listening, drinking, and reading pleasure.

You can make your own suggestions and recommendations in the comments section or by tweeting @WritersBone.

Bruce




Daniel: That sound you hear is Dave playing Springsteen’s “Nebraska” album on repeat. He had never heard it until a few days ago and I was pleasantly reminded of how much I enjoy it. There’s really not a bad song on the album. It is horribly depressing and moody, which should suit writers and alcoholics alike.

Bourbon


Woodford Reserve

Dave: This bourbon has all classic qualities you want in an American-made dark liquor: strong whiskey smell, smooth to the pallet, and heats up on the way down. Two fingers of Woodford Reserve can mellow out a crap night and pairs beautifully with this Bruce deep cut. It’s strong and a little harsh, but it’ll bring your night some hard-nosed optimism.

Book


The Son by Philip Meyer

Daniel: Westerns are the perfect companion for Bruce and bourbon. Have you listened to "Devils & Dust?" Sounds like it was written on the Plains in the 1800s. And I don’t have to tell you how much drinking happens in westerns. I don’t know how those guys had the energy to kill all the Native Americans in support of Manifest Destiny with all the booze they consumed.

Modern westerns tend to be hit or miss. For every "Unforgiven" there is a "Wild, Wild West." One could argue that most modern literary westerns are limited to apocalyptic novels. However, Philip Meyer’s The Son goes a long way to restoring my faith in the western genre. Meyer intertwines the stories of three members of the McCullough clan, starting with Eli, the family’s patriarch, who is captured by a Comanche tribe as a child. I was a big fan of Meyer’s American Rust, which also pairs well with brown alcohol, and I am impressed that his storytelling has gotten even stronger and more confident in this novel. It’s a long book, but never feels that way. The pages turn without you really thinking about how far along you are in the tale.

I’m not done with the novel yet, so I can’t give anything away, but it appears that all three people Meyer focuses on are headed for a rough landing. I plan on drinking copious amounts of bourbon when it all goes down.

If you’re still thirsty, check out more adult beverage entertainment on our Happy Hour page.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

5 Gems I Unearthed While Packing Up My Books

Essential reading material

By Daniel Ford

Since I’m moving for the umpteenth time at the end of this month, I had to once again organize and pack up all of my books.

I quickly discovered that I have way more books than I do articles of clothing. Sadly, the majority of my literary collection is also more stylish and up-to-date.

As always, I unearthed several gems that deserve a more prominent place on my future bookshelf. I’ve only completed one night’s worth of packing, so I’m sure I’ll find much more. However, in the meantime, enjoy these five that you might want to consider adding to your collection.

The Anchor Atlas of World History Volume I




The first volume of The Atlas of World History by Hermann Kinder and Werner Hilgemann is endlessly fascinating. This is essential reading for any map nut. The maps detailing the Roman Empire’s rise and fall are worth much more than the $1.99 you’ll spend on a paperback edition.

One of my favorite lines is when Nero becomes emperor. “Nero’s early years were happy ones for Rome.” Things got a little toasty after that.

Why Sinatra Matters




Pete Hamill brilliantly sums up why Frank Sinatra was such a force in popular culture. It also reminds me of the story my grandmother used to tell me when I was growing up. She said she was a manager in an office in New York City and one of the employees told her she needed a day off to go see Frank Sinatra in concert. My grandmother said she couldn’t give her the whole day. “Fine, I’ll just quit,” the woman said, according to my grandmother. She got the day off. “She was dead serious,” my grandmother would tell me. “She was seeing Frank whether she had a job the next day or not.”

Here’s one of my favorite passages from the book:

“To begin with, the hands of the clock had passed twelve, and he was in a large city, specifically the hard, wounded metropolis of New York. For decades now, Sinatra had defined the glamour of the urban night. It was both a time and a place; to inhabit the night, to be one of its restless creatures, was a small act of defiance, a shared declaration of freedom, a refusal to play by all these conventional rules that insisted on men and women rising at seven in the morning, leaving for work at eight, and falling exhausted into bed at ten o’clock that night. In his music, Sinatra gave voice to all those who believed that the most intense living begins at midnight: show people, bartenders, and sporting women; gamblers, detectives, and gangsters; small winners and big losers; artists and newspapermen. If you loved someone who did not love you back, you could always walk into a saloon, put your money on the bar, and listen to Sinatra.”

A Farewell to Arms




If you don’t have Ernest Hemingway on your bookshelf, I don’t want to know you. If you ever question whether or not you’ve written something good, pick up and read anything he wrote and compare. You haven’t. Keep writing until it’s great. It’ll never be Hemingway great, but at least you’ll be striving for perfection and not a cash advance.

There’s no way I can choose a favorite line. Just read it all.

Debate on the Constitution




You don’t have to be a lawyer to appreciate the debate our Founding Fathers engaged in while forming our current state of government. These were impassioned men to be sure, but they debated ideas and not sound clips. Issues were important, not semantics like whose flag pin is bigger. Disagreement is essential to democracy, but so is compromise and creating solutions. Ben Franklin didn’t necessarily agree with the document that came out of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, but agreed to endorse it. He also expressed “a Wish, that every Member of the Convention, who may still have objections to it, would with me on this Occasion doubt a little of his own Infallibility, and make manifest our Unanimity, put his Name to this Instrument.”

That’s a hell of a leap of faith he was asking for. More than 220 years later, we’re still trying to figure out whether or not we have it right.

The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain




This was given to me by a former colleague on my 25th birthday. I consult it daily.

“When I am king, they shall not have bread and shelter only, but also teachings out of books, for a full belly is little worth where the mind is starved.”—from The Prince and the Pauper

Bonus


The first time someone referred to me as an author. Not bad.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Importance of Pacing: 8 Questions With Thriller Author Ben Coes

Ben Coes
By Sean Tuohy

Many writers haven tried to bring the halls of power to life. Few have actually worked within them. Best-selling author Ben Coes began his career a political speechwriter in Washington D.C. before focusing his attention on thrillers.

David Morrell, the creator of Rambo and Writer’s Bone podcast guest, called his first novel, Power Down, “a fresh, exciting thriller” with action scenes that were “big, vivid, and authentic.” Coes has now written four novels in total and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

Coes took a few minutes to sit down and talk about his career, his process, the importance of pacing, and why writing is like building a house.

Sean Tuohy: When did you decide to write a thriller?

Ben Coes: In 2007, on New Year’s Day, I woke up and looked at my wife, Shannon.

By way of background, I had been thinking of writing a thriller for several years. I love thrillers and thought I could use my background in finance, politics, and the energy industry as part of a book about terror coming to American soil. But as much as I thought about it, I never actually started writing. So on this particular morning, I told Shannon for the first time how I wanted to write a book.

“Then get up and start writing,” she said. And I did. That morning, I wrote what became the first chapter of my first book, Power Down.

ST: How did it take you to complete your first novel?

BC: Oh, man, just answering this question brings back horrible memories. It took about two years, maybe a little more. The actual first draft took about six months. The editing process took much longer.

I’ve always known how to write, but the construction of a novel isn’t just about words. It’s about pace, plot, character development, tension, and a million other things. My first stab at Power Down was a well-written mess. So I sought out help in the form of an experienced editor, a veteran of the publishing industry who’d worked with a number of authors. Using an analogy he took from the worked of architecture, he politely explained to me that I’d built a house but placed the kitchen on the third floor, the garage in the basement, and that I was missing a roof. In other words, I had to learn how to build a real novel.

If I’m a successful author, it’s because I listen to advice and guidance. It’s a very important quality to have as a novelist. I learned that skill working as a White House-appointed speechwriter. My boss, Betty, was a tough critic, and thank God for that. A writer needs tough critics. Most people don’t like to have their work torn apart and criticized. But it’s absolutely essential if you want to be a novelist.

ST: Your characters feel so real, are they based on any real people you have met while working with the government?

BC: Well, first of all, thanks for saying that. The most important thing I’m trying to create in my books is authenticity. My characters are a mixture of people I know and people I imagine. I like to take qualities I like in some of my favorite people, or dislike in some of the people I don’t like, and embed them in the characters in my books. Sometimes, as in the case of Teddy Marks, from Power Down, the character is based entirely on someone real. The real life Teddy was my godfather. He was a Navy SEAL who fought in Vietnam. He was a very important part of my life until his death from cancer a couple years ago. Teddy helped me understand certain key operational aspects to covert war, and certain experiences he had are re-created in my books, including the final battle scene in Coup d’État, my second book.

The hardest challenge to making a character feel real is how you do it with characters that are not based on real people. Dewey Andreas, my hero, is a good example. He’s made up, and yet for my readers, and for me, he feels real. Why? I think it’s because I endeavor to show him in his raw light, with his flaws and his strengths, and to show those little moments that we all have, the unglamorous moments. At the end of The Last Refuge, Dewey plays a game of quarters with a buddy. It’s one of my favorite scenes.

ST: Your thrillers stand apart from the rest because they are ground very much in the real world. Do you believe this enhances the experience for the reader?

BC: Thanks for saying that. I believe very strongly that the best thrillers use current events as a foundational element to the plot. I want current dangers and threats to play an actual role in my books versus simply using current events as ornamentation or backdrop. The reason I do this is because, for the reader, hopefully the feeling they get is that what they’re reading could in fact happen.

Power Down is about terrorists attacking a U.S. energy company. Coup d’État is about India and Pakistan and their ongoing conflict, a conflict which is especially perilous today due to the fact that both countries possess nuclear weapons, and one of the countries, Pakistan, is 98 percent Muslim and filled with jihadists. The Last Refuge is about Iran and Israel, and Iran’s ongoing surreptitious work to develop a nuclear bomb. Eye for an Eye, my fourth book, involves China’s ongoing technological war against America, a war which U.S. policy makers are only beginning to do something about. My next book, Independence Day, is about nuclear weapons that were formerly in the possession of the Soviet Union; it features an attack on the U.S. that one source of mine, a former high-ranking Pentagon official, told me was the number one terror threat facing America.

ST: What affect did your background have on your writing?

BC: My background is important in two ways. First, I worked at the White House and on several political campaigns. I think I understand that world where politics and national security intersect.

More important than the experiences I’ve had, however, was the training I had as a speechwriter. That’s when I learned how to have my work edited; to welcome feedback no matter how harsh.

ST: What is your writing process? Do you outline?

BC: I wake up very early – usually around 5:00 a.m. – and start writing. I am almost never psyched to start but I do it anyway because, if you are a writer, you write. No matter what you feel like, you write. Writing for me is a blue-collar job, like laying bricks or hammering nails. Writers write, not because they feel like it, because oftentimes you don’t. Writers write because they have to.

I don’t outline because I think it robs a thriller of the spontaneity a thriller needs. My best scenes invariably are the result of in-the-moment ideas I have while writing a scene; unplanned and therefore unpredictable, the way actual ops unfold.

ST: What advice do you give to new writers? 

BC: If you want to be a writer, you must write. Writers write. If you don’t write, you’re not a writer.

To write every day, there are steps you can take to help make it easier. Establish a routine. I like early in the day because you get it out of the way, and also because I don’t like writing at night, though I often do write at night. Set an operational goal for your writing—either word count or page count. I need to write five pages a day. That’s my minimum. Sometimes I can do that in an hour, sometimes it takes 18 hours. But if I don’t produce those five pages, I feel like I’ve failed that day.

Keep writing until you have a completed book. Don’t give up. When you do finish, then it’s time to get help. Be patient. Find the right people to help you. Don’t just start firing off a completed manuscript until you know it’s good. The process of finding an agent and ultimately a publisher is the last mile of a 26.2 mile marathon. You want to go into that final mile with your best possible work.

ST: Can you please give us one random fact about yourself?

BC: I go through about a bottle of Sriracha a week.

To learn more about Ben Coes, check out his official website, like his Facebook page, or follow him on Twitter @authorbencoes.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Newspapermen: Ink and Drink Club


Writer’s Bone essayist Dave Pezza walked into my office today seeking encouragement to buy a 70th anniversary edition of “Casablanca.”

It was an easy assignment because the classic film is one of my favorites. I became even more enthusiastic after finding out that the set included a movie poster and coasters that looked like Humphrey Bogart’s poker chips.

Following this round of Thursday morning retail therapy, we started discussing what it would have been like to be a newspaper reporter in the 1930s and 1940s (while listening to the some of the era’s biggest hits including “Route 66” by Nat King Cole and “Minnie the Moocher” by Cab Calloway). It didn’t take us long to realize we were born in the wrong era.

So slip into a white tuxedo jacket, tell your significant other to shoot you in the chest, and enjoy some of the things Dave and I would have been up to if we hadn’t been born into this era's capitalist purgatory. Remember to tune in next week for the second installment of The Newspapermen!—Daniel Ford



Prologue: Fedoras, Cufflinks, and Bourbon


Currently, Daniel and I are displaying the corporate uniform of khakis and dress shirts (sans tie and sports coat). We were told day one such accoutrements were unnecessary and should not be worn.

However, if we had been born during the magical time of the 1930s—and lucky enough to still have been employed—we’d be dressed quite differently. Hanging on the coat rack just by the front door to the newsroom offices would be fedoras. Mine would be the black one with the brim dipped low. A trench coat or two would complete the rack as there is a chance of rain today. My suit jacket would be draped upon my chair to avoid wrinkles.

I’d be typing, straight backed, in the remaining gray pieces of my three piece suit. Underneath the vest is my French cuffed white pinstriped shirt with simply silver cufflinks, given to me by a crimson-haired newswoman in New York City. We still write. When I rise to deliver my copy to the editor, my brown wing tip shoes glisten with a fresh shine from the street corner stand, which I visit first thing every Monday.

Around quitting time, I’d check my silver pocket watch, hanging casually from my vest pocket, before I lit a cigarillo from a small silver case with my matching monogramed zippo lighter, a gift from my brother. I open my desk drawer and uncover a bottle of small batch bourbon (they are all small batch bourbon) with two glasses, adorn my jacket, and march into Daniel Ford's office to begin a proper happy hour.—Dave Pezza


Chapter 1: Ink and Drink Club


Editor-in-chief

My fedora is tilted back on my head as I walk into the newsroom. I toss it on the hat rack as I walk briskly to my desk. It’s early, but there’s still an uneasy energy growing in the office. I don’t hear the sound of typewriter keys. I hear the sound of asses puckering trying to make a deadline. A daily deadline. Every day column inches are built, destroyed, re-built, and sent out into the wild. It never stops. The world keeps getting faster, so we must as well.

My hands are already ink-stained from reading the morning edition. More errors were found. The editor’s curse. You can’t turn it off.

News is grim. Has been for a decade. Famine. Poverty. Looming global hostilities. And people still complain about the pay we give them. Softies. My kingdom for The New Yorker’s Joseph Mitchell to walk through my door.

New girl has my coffee on the desk waiting for me. Giving her a raise. Maybe put her name in the masthead. She could probably out-write most of the men here. She’ll get her shot. She’s too good to be getting me coffee and pastry. Deep pull from the steaming cup. Does make a damn fine cup.

Glance at my white tuxedo jacket hanging up behind the door. My black shoes are collecting dust in the corner. Going to need a shine. Been a while since the last rub and tug event. Got to make nice with the financers tonight. Nothing stops the well-off from having a good time. I won’t mind drinking their booze to get at the riches in their pockets. They aren’t convinced what we do is important, but people still give up hard-earned coin to buy our words, so they will keep the lights on. They can kill us another day.

I’ve got a new stringer on the payroll. His suit comes in three pieces like he’s some sort of big shot. He’ll learn. He won’t be able to afford his dry cleaning after a couple of months working here, so his threads will become as thin and patched as the rest of ours. I should assign him to the docks to speed up the process. Kid does have great taste in bourbon. I may have to wait until the bottle is finished.

Put a clean piece of paper in my typewriter. Glance down at my fraying notebook. I’ve got more notes in my back pocket. Picture of my girl in a cocktail dress falls out as I retrieve them. Smile at how happy and carefree she looks. I never had a chance.

I take a deep breath. Stretch out my blackened fingers. The first couple of clicks are slow. My body catching up to my brain. In an hour, I’ll have made the news.


Later that evening...

The gin and tonic was a nice change of pace. It wouldn’t quite match the cigar I would have later, but I’d make do.

I look around the room. Writers were enjoying the free hooch. The corporate stooges were enjoying the chance to input shitty story ideas into people’s heads. A smoke cloud hovered near the chandelier. The band was on its third request for “In the Mood.” Everyone in the room was in the mood. The smell of men lusting after every up-do in the place was overpowering.

I sit down at a table alone. The money men will find me soon enough. Need a chance to catch a buzz without having money, bad ideas, and the threat of non-existence being thrown in my face.

The late edition was on my mind. Didn’t land the punch I was looking for. It had substance, but it wasn’t going to stay with anyone. There wasn’t enough coffee today to get my mind past the mental roadblocks. Just had to hope the facts were good enough to stand on their own. Maybe I’m in the wrong profession.

Publisher oozed into the seat next to me. I could feel the slime slid off of him as he extended a hand. I shook it. Waited patiently the request. It came in short order.

"You want me to write about what?"

"You heard me."

"Not going to happen."

"You like having the ability to print out the rest of the crap you put out there?"

"The stuff that's actually going on in the world?"

"It's one story."

"Taking space away from a story that real people need to know about."

"They don't need to know about everything every day. The people need a break from all this bleakness."

"And a story about a pile of kittens being found in a mail sack is going to do that how exactly?"

"Give people a little hope and cheer."

"You know how I know you never owned a paper before?"

"How?"

"You’d know happy news doesn't sell. And people don't give a damn about cats when they can’t feed their kids."

"Think about it."

"I'm going to think about my next drink. Excuse me."

I saw the stringer with a handful of dames. He was doing well for himself. I almost felt bad about breaking in to have a word with him. But I pay his salary, so that feeling was fleeting.


Cub reporter

You could pick out Bossman from across the room in his white on white tuxedo. He was dressed like this local New England paper had booked a booze and schmooze shindig in the Caribbean. Although I’m not one to talk. Outfit doesn't match the event. I didn’t have time to change.

I caught Bossman talking to the publisher, shaking his head and waving his hands about something, getting all worked up. Probably over some story he refuses to run. He’ll give in. You don’t bite the hand that feeds. I lost 'em after Shirley, the new girl, came over. She cleaned up real nice. I could hardly remember my name when she walked over, asking how I was.

“It’s a little odd seeing everyone out of the office, you know?”

“Nah, you’ll get used to it. These go down more often than you would think. Enjoying yourself?”

“Oh yes! Everyone’s been so nice since I started last week. I hope it keeps up,” she said with a wink.

Taken a little aback, I found myself quickly shooting back,

“It will on my end, that’s for sure. Can I buy you another…”

“…champagne cocktail…”

“…another champagne cocktail?”

“Isn’t it open bar?” She asked, squinting her eyes in mock suspicion.

“Can’t a guy get some credit for at least asking?”

“What if I took you up on that sometime soon, at a non-company sponsored party?”

“I think I could let a classy gal like yourself take me out on the town,” I said with a grin.

Just as I was about to ask Shirley if she was going steady with anyone, I feel a tap on my shoulder. A blazing white figure stood before me with an empty rocks glass and a weighted demeanor.

“You’re dry, Bossman. We can’t have the heart and soul of this paper lacking in social lubricant, especially with all the damned advertisers around.”

“You’re alright, kid, but it’s gonna take more than filling my glass and kicking my ass to get you out of this one.”

“What I do this time? Is it that Oxford comma again?”

If I could get just a smirk, I knew it wasn’t something serious.

There it is.

“Publisher has another story idea. I figured you’d like to jump all over it. I’m sorry Shirley, didn’t see you there. Pardon my language earlier. Enjoying the party?”

“Yes, sir. It’s very nice of the paper to treat us all like this.”

“Just some perks of the job.”

“I think I’m going to go find Janet and powder my nose.”

She scampered away. Bossman has perfect timing.

“Shirley, huh?”

“She started it all, I swear.”

“Offer to buy her a drink at an open bar?”

I could feel my cheeks heat red.

“Smooth. I tried that a time or too while I was cutting my teeth in the city. You know she's smarter than you right?”

“So what’s the story?” I broke in, trying to get off the subject of Shirley.

“Does it really matter?”

He plucked another rocks glass full of whiskey off of a passing waiter's tray.


To be continued...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Table of Contents: Smokey Robinson Can’t Stop Writing and Why Writers Need to Take Risks

Smokey Robinson
Table of Contents is a series that collects stories from around the Internet that will inspire you to keep writing and reading. To share writing news with us, leave a message in the comments section or tweet us @WritersBone

By Daniel Ford

Second That Emotion


According to an Associated Press feature, Smokey Robinson can’t stop writing.

"I write on the plane, on the bus, on the train, I write in the bathroom. I do have a bunch of songs that I'm very anxious to record."

This is great news for the rest of us. Don’t stop Smokey! Don’t ever stop!

The 74-year-old musician has an album coming out Aug. 19 called “Smokey & Friends.” It features duets with the likes of Elton John, Steven Tyler, John Legend, and James Taylor.

Baseball Writer


With the Little League World Series in progress, Williamsport is constantly in the sports news. But it wasn’t a particular 12-year-old that caught my eye recently (with the exception of female fireballer Mo’ne Davis), but writer Austin Gisriel, who published a book on former Detroit Tigers pitcher Cletus Elwood “Boots” Poffenberger.

Gisriel was interviewed by Herald-Mail Media and one of his answers stood out to me:

"Sometimes, however, I have to force myself to forget about pulling weeds and cleaning up the garage and write."

He’s speaking literally, but how many times do us writers have to pull ourselves away from our self-imposed to-do lists in order to sit down and do what we love? What are some of the ways you pull yourself away from the weeds and sit down at the computer (you can answer in the comments section or tweet us @WritersBone)?

Check out Gisriel’s official website to learn more about the author and his work.

Risky Business


Ever have a family member, friend, or love interest get bent out of shape after reading about a character that might resembled them too closely?

That certainly was the case for author David Gordon, who talks about his ex-wife unfriending him on Facebook after reading his last novel, in his essay in The New York Times.

He speaks to a fear that we’ve mentioned quite a bit here at Writer’s Bone. Many writers don’t like sharing their work because they are afraid it won’t be liked or it might offend/insult a certain readership. Gordon reconciles this fear with this invaluable insight:

"Writing then, must feel risky in order to feel like life."

Yes. A million times yes.

Gordon also has a wise friend that gives him a hilariously sparkling piece of advice at the end of the essay. A must read.

Lauren Bacall, Writer 


Acting legend Lauren Bacall, who died Aug. 12 at the age of 89, may be best remembered for her roles in “To Have or Have Not” and “Key Largo,” but she was also a writer!

According The Los Angeles Times, she wrote three memoirs, By Myself, Now, and By Myself and Then Some, and said that writing was the “most complete experience” she’s ever had. She also wrote her first one in longhand on yellow legal pads!

I remember Bacall from her role in “My Fellow Americans” as the wife of former President Jack Lemmon. Her advice on swearing is the reason I curse as freely as I do.



Bears in Kilts


Author Vonnie Davis explains to USA Today how she started writing about Scottish bears.

Really, if you need more explanation than that to read the article, there is something seriously wrong with you.

Also check out:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Episode 39: The Screenwriters of ‘Expendables 3’

The cast of "Expendables 3"

Screenwriters Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt stopped blowing things up long enough to talk to Sean Tuohy about their work with Sylvester Stallone on the “Expendables 3” script.


Expendables 3” hits theaters Aug. 14. Find out more about the movie by visiting the official website, liking its Facbeook page, or following the film on Twitter @Expendables3.