Month: July 2011

Sake Shots: Words in Progress – My Novel?

While lamenting my failure to stop the world and melt with anyone, I spotted a Sunday afternoon bargirl lying on a patio table, her boots pointed toward a rare blue moment in the Nashville sky. She spoke to a man who stood near her head and I imagined they were preparing to practice some sort of shot. Whatever was in progress, time and space were taking a breather on that patio.

If she stayed there, on that table, there would eventually be stars for staring. Stars like the ones Kacy put on her ceiling. Tiny, shiny stickers over us on those nights we fell asleep, wet and catching our breaths, on our backs and looking up at the clear night sky Kacy had created for us.

One Wedding and Three Bottles of Sake – or – How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Write a Sex Scene

Tuxedo shirt half-tucked, jacket still on, tie loosened and collar open, bottle of Crown grasped around the neck and at my hip. That’s how I crossed the hotel lobby and that’s how my friends’ wedding weekend began to end for me.

“You look like a villain, the Penguin or something,” commented Brian, another friend in the wedding party.

His observation may have proven to be somewhat prophetic. I would soon journey into personal realms uncharted, or at least step just across the border.

The wedding was beautiful and unique, creatively and lovingly planned by the bride and groom as a representation of themselves and their friends. Baseball motif, a theme song for each member of the wedding party. My friends pulled off an original, sincere occasion they’ll cherish as they grow old together.

As is the nature of these events, family and friends were grown beyond the immediate trees of the bride and groom. Lives were connected and paths crossed.

One of my connections and new friends from the weekend is writer J. Travis Grundon. Travis, whose work includes bold, edgy and sometimes horror-themed fiction, has been a contributor and editor for multiple anthologies.

As we travelled the matrimony periphery of the weekend, Travis and I discussed our writing. He mentioned an anthology he had in the works, a collection of transgressive fiction entitled Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction. I wasn’t familiar with transgressive fiction. Travis explained to me that the genre casts characters who often act contrary, sometimes to the extreme, to social norms and deals with extreme, at times taboo, topics. Then he mentioned he was still looking for stories for the collection and invited me to submit something. I appreciated the suggestion, but wondered if I actually had anything that would be a good fit.

A couple of weeks passed and I settled into the thought that I likely had nothing that would work in Travis’ anthology. Then something funny happened on the way to another weekend of sake-buzzed Facebook status updates.

On a Thursday, I noticed a Facebook post that a story by the recent groom, Todd Theroff, would be appearing in Fracas. Then there was a comment by Todd that he had heard I was going to have a story in the collection. Next, Travis’ sent me a text asking if I would be submitting something. By now, it was Saturday.

“How long do I have?” I asked.

“Three days.”

“I’ll do my best.”

I packed up my laptop and headed to one of my favorite sake serving bars. With the Hakutsuru Draft poured, I gathered up a few random, rogue paragraphs, collected overheard bits of conversation and tried to sink into places of my consciousness opened by the sake and general contemplation. It had to be different than my other writing. It had to push the envelope, at least for me.

I’m not exactly a prude. I’m definitely no saint. My optimism is tempered with caution and realism. I like my art, music and film flavored with a bit of darkness. Still, I knew I needed to go at least a little further for this piece.

Three bottles of sake later, I had a solid start on something a little different for me. I also had a direction for the rest of the story. The next two days, around sleep and work on Monday, I finished a first draft to submit to Travis. A first draft that included the first sex scene I’ve ever written. Sort of.

I qualify that last declaration because my first sex scene is pretty tame by today’s standards. But, fact is, believe or not, I had never really gone there in my writing. With the impetus to get together something to submit for the collection, I opened myself up to ideas and scenes outside of my usual writing box. I stretched a bit in my writing. For that, and including me in Fracas, I have Travis to thank.

I have a feeling that, in the context of the finished anthology, my story will seem like Jimmy Olsen stumbled onto the street where Charles Bukowski lives in an apartment over William Burroughs’ garage. Just the same, I’m excited to be included and am very much looking forward to sharing pages with several talented writers creative and courageous enough to write beyond the many still existing social boundaries, challenging us all to examine, from different angles and on multiple levels, our lives, our world and ourselves.

Sake Shots: Words in Progress – “Cowboy Masquerade”

“What’s in it?”

“Does it matter?” Chaka slides the shot glass toward me.

“Yeah. It might.”

Chaka shakes his head. “The only thing you need to think about, if you gotta think about something, is the absinthe. From the Czech Republic. Imported. I heard the green fairies that come with it get freaky sometimes.”

I kill the shot and drop my glass to the bar with the vigor of a salute.

“What you think?” Chaka’s smiling that charming half-smile that shows up when he’s drunk.”

“It still tastes like liquorice, but I like whatever else is going on.”

“Raspberry liqueur, baby. Raspberry liqueur, ginger ale and sour. It’s called a Violent Femme.” Chaka slides me another shot as surf groove toms and Belinda Carlisle’s voice fill the bar.


“It’s my bar. I can play what the hell I want.” Chaka thrusts a thumb toward one of the speakers on the wall behind him.

“You just don’t seem like a Go-Go’s kind of guy.”

“What kind of guy do I seem like?”

“I don’t know. Jacques Brel. Leonard Cohen. George Clinton.”