NVDT Random – Jim kicks Bill – A Book Review

The Ballad of Mrs. Malony – C.S. Boyack

I recently read an Indie from cover to cover. Something I haven’t done in ages. What’s more, I gave it five stars on Amazon. Not because an Indie author made it all the way through but for how he made it through. That’s right. The author STFU and let the story talk.

One of the few blogs I subscribe to is Roberta Writes. Truth? I shy away from her most of the time because of her professional relationship with someone I consider (personal opinion only) one of the major frauds in the Indie publishing biz. But Robbie is everywhere, all the time. I mean like a rash. She’s promoting and interviewing and being interviewed by other Indies. A real hustler in the Indie domain. I think the majority of those things are circle jerks, but she “had on the show” this Boyack guy and his Hat books. I didn’t read the entire interview or review, only enough to get that a hat was a main character.


How the hell did I sign off on a Cat in the Hat style hat that assists an ingenue Danger Barbie in vampire hunting?

I opened the book and wasn’t offered a choice. Chew on that for a minute. First point in author’s favor. No bullshit. No sales pitch. No (listen carefully) authorial ‘splaining nonsense. No in-depth history of vampires. No super queen of the night how bad ass Danger Barbie is descriptions. This book is an exercise in STFU and let the story roll. We find out all about the hat and the DB, whose name is Lizzie, by listening and following them around doing their thing(s). How righteous is that for an Indie?

Pros – Consistent voice. Very few useless tags. Sensible dialogue. You know, the kind that sounds like people only it’s moving the story forward or solving the usual Indie author problem of POV and head time with dialog. Not bunny chasing, ‘splainin’ and author insertion.

Cons – the author’s language only kicked me off the page maybe three times, and all three involved to “sit upon”. Completely out of tone. Like he had an English Teacher moment.

Suggestion – Lizzie, who plays upright bass (with the Hat’s help) in a cover band always “keys” her damn mic before talking. I was 42% of the way through when I learned she was wireless, and a little later headset wireless. “Keying” a mic is ancient broadcast, CB/short wave, and Pilot terminology. I did the pro audio industry for a living, so even something as generic as switched would sit better in the mix.

The book weighs in at 33.4k word count. Not long. Like a Laura Levine. Even some shorter Leonard. I would quibble with the slow spot on their stake-out (hey, a pun!) in the middle as a missed opportunity for some sudden monster in the car window moments, but hey, that’s me.

I don’t read vampire books, or horror or fantasy. But I read this. To me Mrs. Malony was a good, old fashioned character driven caper romp. Even in the minor slow spot the author never veered off course into author land and to me that’s five-star territory. Anyone who wants to see a modern version of how it’s done as applicable short form technique should pick this up.

I’ll read the next one to find out if the Hat gets his fog machine.

NVDT Random – Know What I Mean?

After the post on weird words and stranger meanings, Leggy Peggy offered a comment on how a friend of hers from Morrocco sends her notes where nothing is spelled properly, but she has no difficulty understanding them. While cleaning out and organizing files this week I ran across the scan below from my music daze and found it a fitting example. Even if no one ever spells my name properly, I knew it was for me.

At the time I worked for a distributor into Mexico and South America. The gentleman who wrote the letter got me out of more messes on my clinic tours than you can imagine. He also served as my interpreter when I got past ankle deep in Spanish. That’s the real gist.

We understood each other well enough to have a good time, and not piss anybody off. When my canned Espanol routine would get derailed by a question I didn’t grasp? It became a comedy routine. He’d translate the question. I’d answer as best I could in Spanish before he’d shake his head and take over. I’d ask, in front of 5,000 people, “Say what? I need to learn that one,” and he’d repeat it. I’d repeat it back, look to the audience for a yay or nay. A good deal of what got yelled back at me was in fun and unprintable. Even if I understood I’d come back with “¿Qué tiene que ver tu hermana con esto?” (What’s your sister got to do with this?)

If my wife had to grade this as an English 1301 project, Marco would fail. But I know exactly what he’s saying. Wawt madders is kontint, wee kan fix the rust. Know what I mean?

NVDT Random – Housekeeping and a Thank You

This blog was a mess. Of opinion, “tips”, silliness, and craft. Here’s a sad truth. A number of the craft pieces end up with more edits on here than the Word or other scratchpads where they originated. Even stuff pulled out of Scrivener is fresher here than there.

It has been in the back of my mind for a year to assemble a handful of shorts from the better of these blog posts. Trying to search them on WP is frustrating at best. Particularly if I know the title or a content trigger word and WP offers up forty posts. Thirty-nine of which are not relevant, nor do they contain the triggers or the title.

The other day I did some research on converting blogs to PDF/Word and found BlogBooker. This is not a pitch, nor am I a compensated spokesperson or an actor portraying a user. I tried several of the options out there on the “free tial” and for me BlogBooker worked the best. The caveat is if you want your whole blog you will need to pay. I found the princely sum of $18 for 6 months and a few passes and 30 minutes of processing time reasonable to save me at least one cut and paste step of 380+ documents. In under a minute, I had this entire blog down to five Word Docx files, one per year. Complete with graphics and comments.

I have been going through the files, copying out singles of the short stories by title and active character. Okay, in all honesty I went through and blew out all the comments so I could tell what was content and what was me blowing. I want to thank everyone (except that asshole Australian Nicholas whatever) for your comments. Good, constructive, critical – All of them. I had forgotten what I learned about Deanna and Jackson from you, what characters and their antic/conversations resonated and what was a reach even when I was experimenting. And how what crap I think my “poetry” is, it was the biggest hit.

I’m through two years of shorts and poetry. I haven’t pulled any of the goofy stuff or the Writerly Concerns/thoughts. I was on the verge of recycling myself, or reposting and what a waste of time. The point of this was to create a canvas with artificial deadlines to put product up and look at it. A virtual dress rehearsal. Hence the reason there’s a finer point on most of what was up here than anywhere else. Like playing live or putting a demo together or creative for $. I don’t see or hear the clams unless the volume’s up.

I used the word “was” in reference to content here. After I ran BlogBooker I dumped 99% of my content. Not because of any paranoia, but to keep me from hitting on something and tweaking it in one too many places. I’ll have one main folder with subs for shorts by character and the “poetry”. I will make various assemblies of content and port them to epub or Word or whatever format required and ask anyone interested to go through and say yay or nay to content selections. I have so much junk I could do several variations, with mini novellas in the middle. Deanna collection, Jackson collection, conversations with Lamar… Or print them for fish wrapping.

Coming up on this site will be more originals, ’cause I can’t quit, and I had a lot of fun with SepScene and the bad detective pulp and creating. But there will be a lot less nonsense.

Truth? I belonged to this blog hop. Nobody wanted to discuss craft, they wanted cover reveals for crap.* I mentioned that more than once and they invited me to go away. I still get notices from a few of them and, by and large, they are still writing long tomes once a week about nothing but how grand their shit is when they could be fixing their work or helping each other. When I saw all that, and all the time I’d spent participating and writing long tomes about why don’t y’all give a shit I was sick.

Thanks! Back to your regularly scheduled blogs.

*Stevie Turner is exempt from this description. Just sayin’.

NVDT #100 – Writerly Concerns – Word Games

Words, as a topic, have cropped up a good deal lately. If I’m not arguing with ProWritingAid, I’m hunting through the Urban Dictionary or trying to figure out why three spellings of ‘chauffeur’ all seem to be correct as none of the three variations generate a red bad spelling squiggle.

I don’t really argue with PWA. Arguing with software is a waste of time and downright stupid. I will eyeball the running report in the sidebar and go “Oh yeah?”. The latest was dealing with a split infinitive. Their suggestion was “Never! You’ll look like the world’s biggest dumb ass if you don’t rewrite it!” It wasn’t in dialog, so I had to check it out. However, it was a character summarizing the contents of a letter. What I wanted required the adverb between the to, and the verb, or it didn’t “read” correctly. I recalled Elmore Leonard’s wisdom–“I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”–and I split the damn infinitive. After all that, I remembered the most famous infinitive split ever, “To boldly go…”. Boldly to go, to go boldly. Nah. Split that fucker, and carry on.

Here’s another one (unless you read YA fantasy or are under, say, 30). Voidless. Contextually, it described someone’s sleep. I thought, WTF? Voidless? Void is nothing. The suffix -less implies without. Sleepless. No sleep. Weightless. No weight. My logic said “Don’t use this word in Scrabble”. The logic voice also said voidless would mean without void (nothing), so whoever it was had sleep without void. Troubled, bothered, disrupted sleep. Hell no. It means less than void. Like nothingness compounded. Don’t believe me? Here’s the Urban Dictionary definition, complete with original poor grammar.

adj. A noun and or verb that is simultaneously negative and void being that it is lesser than nothingness.
The examples that were given are classic “let’s make up a word because we have no vocabulary” because in each example given, the word devoid (without) would have sufficed. Except this one–This week’s writing assignment-fix this-  The voidless tone of the mans voice confirmed that he was both shaken and enraged by his current situation.

But wait-there’s more. I mentioned the word chauffeur. Depending on what software is checking, it can have 2xf,  1xf, fer, fuer, feur. Huh? Forget that. What about (on my computer) three different variations on combos like window sill, door post, air conditioning or conditioner, hand brake. I don’t recall which is which, but in those and many other instances they can be split as above, combined or “didn’t you mean to hyphenate?”. And not remembering which I believed last time means I have to pick one to proof my documents.

Grammar is a form of retentive insanity and I’m glad I don’t understand it. I’m curious if there’s a free standing grammar checker. I just got the choices to combine or hyphenate both free standing and grammar-checker. I’m going to leave them as a literary middle finger. I’d like a grammar engine that pushes all the others aside and takes over. Or maybe, since I haven’t paid for it in a couple of years, I should uninstall Grammarly so I’ll only have to watch PWA, Microsoft and Scrivener duke it out.

NVDT Random – SepSceneWrimo – Follow-up 2

Another hole filler – Evidentiary and the chauffeur asked for more page time. He’s a decent kid so I obliged.

There was a familiar name on The Bishop’s slip of paper. Brock Holland, one-time All-American quarterback and point shaver at UCLA. He broke a lot of connected gamblers’ hearts when he flopped as a pro. His address in San Francisco didn’t ring any bells, but it wouldn’t. Mr. Holland was going to have to wait till tomorrow, though, because tonight I had another fish to fry. Lorelei’s boyfriend Trevor.

I called the Gilmour Arms independent on-call chauffeur who’d driven Lorelei and me on the night of the murder, asked if he was busy. He wasn’t and agreed to meet me in my parking garage as soon as he could swing it. I dropped Frisky’s .45, minus ammunition, down the trash chute on my way to the elevator. The chauffeur rolled up in under ten minutes, windows down, radio blaring. I put my hand on the doorpost. The radio volume dropped.

“Your name really Huntley Bryston?”

“What momma said.”

“Great Expectations, eh?”


“Never mind. This your car?”

“Mine and the bank’s.”


“To the hilt.” He pushed his chauffeur’s cap back. “What’s on your mind, Mr. Meyers?”

“I need to go back to the dump on Fairfax, but my car needs to stay put.”

“You in some kinda jam, or just paranoid?”

“Can’t tell yet.”

“Better safe than sorry? Works for me.” He checked his teeth in the mirror, adjusted his cap. “We stoppin’ for the babe?”

“Not tonight.” I opened the back door, slid in.

“I’m startin’ to lose some enthusiasm.”

“She thinks if you’d wash your hair you’d be a Rafael.”

“Yeah?” He perked up. “It ain’t dirty, I keep it loaded with vitamin oil. So when I wash it out for date night I got a sheen without no stinky products.”

“Might rethink the vitamin grease for off hours. No telling who you’ll meet in this job.”

“That’d be stuck up women and dry-cleaned puckerbutts, mostly.” He smiled in the mirror. “You bein’ the exception.”

I laid on the back seat until we were well on our way. I raised up and we were coming up Sunset from the west.

“You get lost?”

“Too many headlights pullin’ in behind us. I took a page outta your paranoia book, drove around till they peeled off. I’m gonna drive by the Hacienda Javier one more time, run us around a couple blocks.”

I reminded myself to tip this kid while I watched a few blocks of Fairfax sail by, a left on Ogden, up through an alley and a parking lot and we rolled back up Fairfax to Trevor’s last known address.

No one answered when I knocked. I tried the door. Unlocked. The switch brought back the feeble bedside lamp, but this trip I’d brought along a flashlight. The light switch in the bathroom had functional light, so Trevor’s barf in the dark theatrics were intentional or he couldn’t hack the sight of his own vomit. I ran the light around inside the bathroom wastebasket, found a cheap single-edge razor, a wad of gooey gauze, half a pack of lidocaine lozenges and a broken black eyebrow pencil.

The closet turned up empty, as did the dresser. The wastebasket by the bed contained a sandwich wrapper from Tommy’s Deli with Lorelei’s address written in a loopy female hand and an empty chicken minestrone soup can. I held it for a minute, wondered how in the hell anyone could eat cold soup before it hit me like a sledge on a thumbtack. The little son of a bitch had faked the puke and splatter and sold out his girlfriend.

I killed the lamp at the same time a muffled gunshot thumped from outside and a bullet splintered the door. Another shot came on its heels. I dropped, crawled across moldy, crumbling carpet, pushed the door open and out onto the breezeway. I waited. Nothing. I duck-walked to the stairwell, took the stairs sideways and low. From the direction of Fairfax, two more shots thumped, followed by tires squealing and the unmistakable BOOM of a shotgun. I sprinted to the street, found Huntley on the sidewalk, shotgun pistol in hand, the front passenger door open.

“You hit?”

“Scratched me’s all.”

“The shooter?”

“Couldn’t see. But there’s a saddle oxford Ford out there damn sure missin’ some glass.” He ran his hand over his ribs. His fingers came back with traces of blood. “This kinda shit a regular thing with you?”

“I wouldn’t call it regular, but it happens. You want me to drive?”

“Nah. Nothin’s broke or bleedin’ much.” He pushed himself up, walked around to the street side of his car, fingered a bullet hole in the driver’s door. “Goddammit… I just waxed her.”

“I know a bullet hole specialist who’ll throw in a wax,” I climbed in the open passenger door. “And a woman who’s an artist with tape and gauze that’ll make you feel better just looking at her.”

“Yeah?” He dropped behind the wheel, winced, hit the starter. “You got their numbers memorized?”

NVDT Random – SepSceneWrimo – Followup 1

I’ve been filling holes in the SepScene project. I jumped from the body to the police station with information out of the etherhere’s a rough of that ether chapter. Long read. Blow it off if you want. This fulfills my need for deadlines.

I pulled the bottle of Scotch Ms. Lorelei Laurier left behind out of my bottom desk drawer, wiped out a coffee cup, and poured myself a quick drink. A dead fat man, an edgy client related to same, knowing I’d have to tell the cops what I knew about it which was next to nothing. None of that required sticking my nose in a bottle looking for answers. Although it was a nice bottle, and the liquor was liquid gold.

I thought I’d have a while to wait, wished I’d eaten something and was working out what that might have been when Lorelei let herself in. She turned to shut the door and swished, the way women move when they are secure in who they are, what they’re doing. Even in an evening coat at one AM after finding her grandfather dead in the family digs. She sat across from me, deliberately, without pretense. Like we’d known each other for years, not since roughly twelve hours ago.

“I should apologize for getting you mixed up in this.”

“In this what?” I leaned across the desk, lit her cigarette. “I haven’t been on the job long enough to know what I don’t know, much less what I should know.”

“Elliptical, but well said.” She watched me take a hit from the coffee cup, glanced around the office. “Is that coffee?”

“Scotch. Your Scotch.”

“Is there another cup, or do we share?”

I pulled a cup out of my desk, wiped it down.

“On second thought,” she rose, brushed imaginary wrinkles out of her coat. “I think coffee would be better. And you will want to speak with Trevor. Coming?”

“Who’s driving?”

“I don’t know his name, but he seems competent. Sullen. Could stand to wash his hair.”

“You took a cab?”

“Our building has several limousines and drivers on call. I asked for the least ostentatious model available. They obliged.”


Lorelei had no preferences in coffee shops, and the driver knew squat except for franchises. I gave him directions to a Brazilian place called Lito’s, a few blocks off Sunset in West Hollywood where the coffee will stand your hair on end. It’s in the same block as an infamous after-hours bar so the clientèle ranges from hard partying movie stars, musicians, lost dopers, drunks of all types and people like Lorelei and me, all looking for some jet fuel to finish out the night. A small, dark man with wiry hair named Bernie, or Barney or Barley runs the place. In five or six years I haven’t been able to make out his name exactly because everyone who works there speaks some blend of Mex and Portuguese at speeds approaching the sound barrier.

We took a seat on worn, red-vinyl-topped stools at a cement countertop littered with mismatched dining accessory and condiment holders all overloaded with sugar, fake sugar, dried milk packets, bent forks and dull knives.  I held up two fingers, and within seconds, two large coffee cups with a dark muddy mix in the bottom landed along with a small white beaker of cream. Lorelei tilted her cup, inspected the muddy paste in the bottom.

“Americain!” She snapped her fingers and again in a matter of seconds a small white and blue refugee from a Japanese restaurant teapot full of boiling water appeared in front of us. She poured cream and a sugar packet in her cup, added water, and stirred.

“Been here before?”        

“In Italy. Spain. South America. Nowhere else do they drink coffee the way we do.”

I mixed my coffee without the sugar. “The pie is worth the atmosphere.”

“It better be.” She held the cup with both hands, let the steam warm her face. “I thought you’d take me somewhere intimate. For our talk.”

“We can talk here. If they understand us, they’re too wasted for it to register, or they don’t care. The help has no idea what we’re saying.”

“I’m starting to appreciate you being unpredictable.” She tested her coffee. “There’s nothing much to tell that you don’t already know. Someone had been sending my grandfather telegrams and letters, and they upset him. Upset him enough to meet with his lawyers after a visit from a tall, younger man.”

“You’d recognize this man?”

“No, I only saw him from the back. He was going down the hall to the rear elevator when I got off the lobby car.”

“You know he was young how?”

“No hat, a full head of sandy hair. Square shoulders, long stride.” She glanced down. “Noticing physiques is… habit. I’ve studied horses since before I can remember.” She turned, her expression earnest. “I didn’t know he’d been in the apartment until I walked in. Grandfather and Grandmother were in a real scrap. ‘Do you know what that bastard wanted?’ and ‘So what’ was the gist. The old man gave me a shot of his steam, so I heeled it long enough for them to get sorted.”

“Did they?”

“Your guess is as good as mine. They’d wrangle, they’d get over it. It’s been worse since the Sausalito trip.”

“The picture you showed me. Their troubles heated up after that? April or May?”

“That’s when Grandfather heated up, started leaning on her harder.”

“More often?”

“What’s more often than often?” She’d finished what she wanted of her coffee, stared at her hands in her lap.


“Not tonight.” She opened her purse, laid three times more folding money on the counter than needed, swished off the stool. She stopped at the door, checked her lipstick in the glass, pulled the handle. “Let’s go to Trevor’s and get this night over with.”


Trevor’s place was a weekly apartment in an adobe-being-replaced shotgun style two story off Fairfax called Hacienda Javier. It was outfitted with clinging-for-their-lives window unit air conditioners and a few plywood-covered windows. The sign out front stating “Pardon Our Dust – We’re Improving!” looked weathered. In this part of town, and this time of night the crime rate required an elevated level of vigilance, so I removed my pocket .380 from its holster, put it in my jacket pocket, safety off. After he’d parked, the chauffeur opened the glove box and lifted out an old war model pistol that took .45 slugs or .410 shotgun shells. We made eye contact, but no conversation. I’d need to get his business card before everyone unhooked for the night.

Lorelei knocked on the door of #8. From behind it came the sounds of deep coughing, bolts sliding and chains rattling before the door cracked open. Lorelei waited a few seconds, pushed the door inward.

“Trevor?” Lorelei spoke with a gentleness I hadn’t heard. He answered with more coughing. I hit the light switch and got a feeble yellow glow from a table lamp by the bed for my effort. Trevor leaned out of the bathroom in a hooded bathrobe, a scarf around his neck, black circles under his eyes.

“Sorry, Lori…” He wheezed, coughed, turned, and treated us to puke and splatter toilet noises. He coughed out, “Still feel like shit, girl.”

I moved closer to the bathroom door. “Tell me about tonight, Trevor.”

“Who the hell are you?” His voice a mixture of concrete mixer scratching and mouth marbles.

“Trevor, this is Mr. Meyers. The man I told you about?”

“Fuck him.” He spit into the toilet. “You, too. Sorry Lori, I can’t…” he broke into a coughing fit. “Tommy. Tommy S… I can’t talk, Lori. To nobody.”

She edged closer to the bathroom, turned her confused face my way.

“I told you he’d back out of it.” I wanted to rip the door off the bathroom, grab him by the throat, make him man up, but didn’t want to get that close to his cough and splatter routine. It’s also bad practice to thump a client’s sick boyfriend for being a jerk. At least in front of her.

While Lorelei pleaded with him, I went through his closet and dresser. One good, new suit and a pair of recently shined shoes in the closet. Socks, underwear, and a week’s worth of folded shirts with a cleaner’s band around them. His wallet was reasonably new, contained a Pennsylvania driving license, $311, and a receipt from a drugstore. After the fifteenth repetition of his “I can’t, Lori. It’s Tommy, I can’t” litany I stepped over, caught Lorelei’s arm. “He’s useless.” I raised my chin to the front door. “And we’re done.”

She backed away from the bathroom door, and Trevor reappeared. His macabre appearance enhanced by chunks and light orange stains on the front of his hooded bathrobe.

Outside, Lorelei paused in the breezeway to fumble her cigarette case open. She broke the first one on the way to her lips. I took the case away, held a cigarette up in front of her face. She took it, hand trembling; I lit it.

“Professional card man, you say?”

She nodded.

“Known him long?”

“A little over three years. I met him when I was finishing at Bryn Mawr.”

“I thought that was an ivy league college for women.”

“It is. I was out one night… A hotel party in Philadelphia. I was in the hall. He saw me.” She dropped her head, raised it back and further up at the inky sky. “He invited me into the room where he was playing cards.” The exhale was deep and slow. “For luck.” I let that and all it implied settle.

“He lives light.”

“He moves around a great deal.” She glanced back over her shoulder at Trevor’s door.

“Where’s his car?”

“He… He doesn’t own one.”

“How’s he get around?”

“Cabs, mostly. Except when he’s here and then I make arrangements for him.”

“Hmmm…” I took her cigarette away, hit it, returned it. “I could go back in, straighten him out.”

“No, please…” Her hand was on my arm again. Her eyes tired, bloodshot saucers.

“He’s hanging you out to dry, lady.”

“I didn’t kill my grandfather, Mr. Meyers, nor did I have anything to do with his death. I’m trusting you to prove that for me.”


I’ve mentioned I own this book. There are more Dicks inside than a whorehouse on Dollar Day. And there our story begins –

In the heyday of early to mid 20th Century detective stories, the private eye and legitimate detectives were called “dicks.” The etymology has many tangents, but the most believable to me is criminal slang from 1800’s England used “dick” to mean “to look or see”. Derived from the Gypsy word “dik” meaning the same. The activity of looking, possibly surreptitiously, was known as “dicking”. The descriptive noun for one who dicks is, no surprise, a dick.

I have been reading stories from The Black Mask, as well as Hammett and Chandler shorts. I would occasionally snicker aloud over some lines.

We’ll take your dick along so you don’t try to get wise – Your dick’s got quite a mouth on him – Who let that ugly dick in here – What’s the matter, dick? You not get enough of us earlier? – Come on, dick. Show us what you’ve got – the house dick was short and fat – that dick’s sure got a hard head – Watch your back. The last thing this department needs is another stiff dick – And those are the tip of the iceberg. (Unintentional pun)

I started thinking of all the ways dick gets used now. Much the same as fuck. Transitive and intransitive verb, noun, adverb, adjective, pronoun. Dick ‘em down, we got this dicked, he dicked her, she got dicked, stupid (etc) dick, don’t be a dick, just like a dick, dick, dick it, grow some dick, pencil dick, dickin’ off, dick breath, the test was dick hard, stiff as a dick.

Bearing in mind these various uses is it any wonder when we see a word or series of words that our minds slip straight into the gutter, or the locker room? I mean, come on, what’s the first thing that crossed your mind when you saw TubenASS?

Well, they got it dicht for you, right here.

NVDT Random – Housekeeping, Plagiarism, Dime Store Academics

Housekeeping – I went through the Manage Follows page a week or so ago. I don’t follow many, but there were things in there from 6 years ago. (I received my email anniversary congrats the other day). Most of them I haven’t heard from in years. Perhaps they got wise and got off the tube, who knows. In the process of killing those over a year old with no posts and a few where I was automatically hitting the like star for no reason, I did something where I cancelled everyone on the follow list. If you have seen yourself unfollowed and refollowed by me, I apologize. If you haven’t posted in a year, piss off. If I’ve been hitting the star for four years out of habit without so much as a thanks, by your leave or kiss my ass, you can piss off, too. Any old lost friends like Brian, c’est la vie.

Plagiarism – Someone asked why I have taken down the serial from SepSceneWrimo. For the same reason most of Bobby BMad Mods and The Great Kerrigan Bank Robbery are gone. They aren’t genius by a long shot, but no one ever accused thieves of being Einsteins. When I leave something up that lasts for more than a post Romania and Germany light up my page. I ran a couple of plagiarism checks and some of my stuff came back “would you like to translate this page?” So I’m out as the uncredited author of content for Dungheap Von Turdbreath’s Cyrillic blog.

Dime Store Academics – Look (I sound like one of my characters), I have the advantage/disadvantage of being married to a Ph.D. in Rhetoric. With a concentration in British Lit. Her MA is in American Lit. To which I always say, “Is there such a thing?” The house is full of overstuffed bookshelves and notated classics, and while she doesn’t care much for most fiction, or for me burning daylight writing, I have access to, and have lived through years of college because my wife thinks aloud. I used to tell people I had a second-hand Ph.D. in dead gay English poets. One of the advantages is that I can walk through a room innocently enough and have passages of brilliant lit read aloud. That can also be a disadvantage. I sat through the history of British Socialism, the Crafts Movement and the Pre Raphs in a large hall at Oxford because she wrote a book about William Morris’s writing, not the wallpaper. I’ve been to his freaking house. How much Pre Raph does a synthesizer guy need? You might be surprised by the commonalities across time and curriculums.

If I have a question about writing, what sort of word is this, what’s passive voice, what is this or that writing device I get the name of the rhetorical device (there are hundreds, thanks Aristotle) and an answer I don’t really understand. But I get one, or like a student I get sent to where I can find it. Chaucer or Dante or Milton or Shakespeare or Blake or Wollstonecraft or Byron and countless people I’ve never heard of, I get “Oh that was Dr. so and so’s class, that was Romanticism or some other cism, here’s a (two inch thick) book.”

During the time she authored her dissertation she was confused because all around her, her peers were writing trendy stuff. At the time it was chaos theory. Anybody remember that? No? I mentioned her confusion to a dean from a major university far from where she was in school. He said, “Tell her not to worry. Scholarship always trumps the fads.”

When I receive emails from the dime store cowboys and cowgirls about “tips to improve your writing” and it’s complete bullshit I get riled. I got one the other day where instead of suggesting one should improve their writing, they suggested continuity words like ‘then’ and a lot worse. Adding crap words and trite phases. The very words and phrases editors and publishers redline. The same formulaic hack bullshit that abounds in the pay-me-to-blow-smoke-up-your-ass “editors” out there.

My point is before you sign off on the latest trend or some internet jive, do yourself a favor. Pick up a Rhetoric handbook. Or a book written by a real author. There’s more to learn from them as know how than from them with their hands out.