Tag Archives: author

Colorado blues

29 Aug
depth of field photo of two pilsner glasses

Photo by Matan Segev on Pexels.com

 

Ritter and Reuther trudged up the hill, dog-tired, but elated to be finished. It had been a long hike, following three days of camping along the river, just south of Dock Gulch. The sunshine, the scenery, the negative ions from the rush of the stream made for a perfect few days. And Reuther had caught some fat trout too.
“Smokey’s is just down the road,” Reuther said, wiping his brow as they both stopped next to the Ponderosa Pine at the trailhead and looked down Route 18.
“God yes,” Ritter said. Already, he could envision the neon sign of SMOKEY’S blinking in tiny downtown Dock Gulch, beckoning him. Hell, he could taste the burger he planned to have after they hopped into Reuther’s rickety old jeep and arrived there, pulling up stools at the long bar as if they owned the freakin’ place, the rustic joint existing for their own pleasure. He was going to treat himself to a big fat burger with fries and wash it all down with a beer. A cold one. Shit, maybe two or three cold ones. He wondered if Candy was working, the feisty fetching blonde with the alluring Southern accent who always flirted with Reuther and him. Hell, maybe he’d even work up the courage to ask her out this time. She was one of those outdoorsy types, like everyone else around these parts. Hell, maybe he’d ask her to go shooting with him. Heck yeah. He had two Glocks stashed away in his car he never used, but he had them ready per chance some gal wanted to go shooting. Or he could take her fishing. He had one rod in the car too, even though he didn’t fish. A guy had to be ready for anything when it came to women. What the hell, he could always fake it if she wanted to cast flies to trout.
All at once, there was the sound of bicycle tires skidding to a stop. What the…? Ritter noticed the legs first, long shapely and tanned legs of a young woman. A fine lass alright, astride a sporty looking mountain bike, a blonde ponytail falling out of a helmet. She was smiling. “Jon?” she said in a puzzled tone, a cock of her lovely head.
“Millicent?” Ritter couldn’t freakin’ believe it. How long had it been? Ten years? His mind reeled with memories of a shy girl, a freshman in Professor Moran’s Journalism 101 class. God, he’d been smitten with her. Of course, he had. Problem was, everyone else was too. He’d been an overage grad student then, finding excuses to steal away from his crappy job as an errand boy at the dean’s office to talk to her as class ended. Heck. There had even been a connection between them, he thought. She was so pure, so innocent, so … gorgeous. Freakin’ Moran, that bounder, had made a play for her. And to his joy, had struck out. Rumor had it that there had come a bit of sexual harassment afterwards. That unethical play chased her away from the university … for good. And now, here she was.
“What are you doing out here in the wilds of Colorado?”
“I was going to ask you the same thing.” She pulled off her helmet and shook her head, the ponytail swishing, like the tail of a horse. God. She looked good, Ritter thought.
“Er … ah. Where are my manners? Reuther, this is Millicent. Millicent … Reuther.”
“Pleasure,” Reuther said, with a grand bow.
Millicent giggled. God. That sweet infectious laugh Ritter remembered so well.
“I say … I say … Millicent.”
Reuther and Ritter turned left to see a puffy man in biking attire, hunched over the handlebars of a mountain bike, pedaling toward them with significant effort some thirty yards down the road. Ritter shielded his eyes from the sun. Egads. Ritter thought he resembled a turnip, his flesh bulging against the tight biking outfit that he had no business wearing. The bicycle drew nearer. Shit. Was that Ryerson? Ryerson Marks? No, it couldn’t be. One-time dean of the school of journalism and seducer of young co-eds.
“You two … are together?” Ritter said.
Millicent shyly bowed her head. God. She was still an innocent.
Huffing and puffing, Ryerson dismounted uneasily from the bicycle, clearly a novice to pedaling such contraptions, stumbling before righting himself. Still out of breath and clearly out of his element, he managed to walk the bike up to where they stood. “Jesus,” he said. “Mountain biking Millicent? Are you bloody kidding me?” He was sweating profusely, his face beat red.
“I tried to go slowly so you could keep up honey,” Millicent said sweetly.
No. No. It was wrong, all wrong Ritter thought.

 

“I know what you’re going to say,” Ritter said as they sat on barstools at SMOKEY’s a bit later.

Reuther shook his head. “Jon …”

“No,” Ritter said, raising his hand from his beer after slamming it onto the bar. “Don’t say it.”

They sat staring at the row of liquor bottles lining the shelves behind the bar. Reuther wished to hell they hadn’t run into that dazzling young girl … and Ryerson … the fuck. Another middle-aged, out-of-shape successful guy but admittedly, a charmer, who always got the girl. Of course, this one particularly stung Ritter who clearly still had a thing for this Millicent gal – a real looker.

“What the hell,” Reuther said. “We got beers in front of us and burgers and fries coming. “

“Yeah. Right,” Ritter said bitterly. “Living like kings we are.”

“Jon. Geez.”

It occurred to Reuther that the bar was strangely empty on this late afternoon in August.  And it was a Friday too. Normally, fishermen from up Denver and Colorado Springs way and God knows where else had long ago spilled out of offices to flee to the river for the weekend. Why wasn’t Smokey’s rockin’ and rollin’? Even the jukebox, normally filtering some mournful country and western tune or bluesy song was still. It appeared Luke, the bearded thirty-something bartender who also did gigs as a fishing guide out of the fly shop next door, was running the place solo today.

“You guys need another beer or anything else?” Luke said.

“A freakin’ gun,” Ritter said. “Put me out of my misery.”

Luke brought his head down close to Reuther. “A girl again?” he whispered.

Reuther shook his head and waved Luke away.

“Yeah. A girl again Luke,” Ritter snapped. “Now mind your own damn business and bring us those burgers.”

Luke straightened. “Easy guy. I know how painful these things can be.”

“Er … sorry,” Ritter said. He stared at his beer. Shit. Maybe he should just get drunk. Yeah. That was the ticket. But no, last time he did that he made a complete ass of himself right here in SMOKEY’S. Belting out several renditions of Take Me Out to the Ball Game as he danced jigs around the barroom.

“Where is everybody?” Reuther said.

“You didn’t hear?” Luke said. “Place is closing.”

“What?” Ritter said.

“Damn you say?” Reuther said.

“That’s right. This is the last day. The finale. Didn’t you see the sign out front?”

Reuther and Ritter looked at each other. “No,” they said in unison.

“Someone buying the place?” Reuther said.

Luke turned up his palms. “Some retired college professor from back East, I heard.

“Shit no,” Ritter said.

“Yeah. In fact, the guy was just in here yesterday with his hot girlfriend poking around.”

“Freakin’ Ryerson,” Ritter shouted confirming his initial suspicions. “Can you believe it?”

“I do believe that’s the guy’s name,” Luke said.

“What are they going to do with the place?” Reuther said.

“Don’t know. Rumor has it they want to turn it into a brew pub. Take advantage of the weekend crowds that come here to fish and hunt and ski at that new place those rich dudes from Jackson Hole are building down the road.”

Luke stood on the other side of the bar staring past the two of them. “I’m moving back with my mother in Durango. Nothing here for me.”

“What about guiding?” Reuther said.

“They bought out the fly shop too,” Luke said, shaking his head. “I lose big time.”

“Jesus,” Reuther said.

“Your burgers should be about ready fellas.” Luke walked toward the kitchen.

“Candy around?” Ritter called out.

“She quit last week. Went back to her hometown in North Carolina.” Luke slowly turned and looked at Ritter. “Sorry fella. I know you always had a thing for her.”

“We both did,” Reuther said.

“Right,” Luke said. “Well … nothing stays the same.”

They both watched Luke disappear into the kitchen.

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I’m a writer, and I just want to scream

30 Apr

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One of the worst things about being a writer is the godawful frustration you find yourself up against with trying to draw attention to the words you’ve put out there before people.

I often write these blogs with the first-time author in mind, but I know there are also loads of you who’ve published one or two books as well.

You know the agony of marketing. You remember how hard it was just placing the fanny into the chair every day and writing. Then, you finished your first book, sent it out to the world hopeful as a young child on Christmas morning.

Alas, you made little if no money for all that hard work and time. You think of all the many things you’ve done in life that bore some type of fruit after so much labor. If it was a job there was at least a paycheck waiting for you.

I often compare the life of a writer to that of an aspiring politician. There’s just no guarantee after all that campaigning that you’ll actually win. In fact, second place brings you nothing.

Yes, it can be tough out there. So what keeps you going as a writer?

Ask yourself why you write. Look for little things every day to keep yourself going. Take pride in the fact that you’ve finished a book and stuck with this writing life as long as you have.

In the meantime, keep marketing your work. There’s plenty of ways to get noticed out there. Maybe you’ve tried all the usual methods – getting reviews from readers, going on blog tours, submitting to interviews, – and perhaps book sales have only trickled in.

Try something different. Be creative. Marketing can take a while to really take off, especially for unknown writers.

The point is, there was a reason you wanted to write books. Sure, if you’ve stuck with it this long perhaps you experience that crushing feeling of what seems to be the utter futility of being a writer.

Maybe you want to give up and concentrate your energies on something else. Then again, think how you’ll feel if you just give up. I mean, is that really an option?

I would love to hear from readers on this one.

Writing a book is therapy … and safer than drugs

7 Mar

Those days when you’re feeling lousy just might be the best times to go to the keyboard and write that book.

Now why in the name of Truman Capote would I say that?

Well, for one thing, it will get your mind off the fact that you’re feeling miserable. Besides, you need to be writing anyway – just about every day – if you’re serious, really serious about ever completing a book.

Think about it. If you can write on the days you’d rather stay in bed until past noon or get in the car and drive across the country and never come back, you can certainly write on those other days, when you feel great and can’t wait to race those fingers across that keyboard.

I know it’s worked for me.

A number of years ago, after I lost a job and went into a anxiety-ridden period, including panic attacks and the whole shebang, I began writing my first book. It never got published, but that’s another story, as they say. It was late November, the weather was  lousy in Pennsylvania and wouldn’t get better for months, and as I mentioned, there was no work to go to. I suddenly had this time on my hands – a lot of it. For years, I’d dreamed of writing a book, and I figured what better time to begin.

I wrote every damn day in long-hand in a spiral notebook. I wanted to get my story down, and I did. The writing was wonderful therapy as it threw my mind off the troubling thoughts that were dancing around in my head most of the rest of the day, when I otherwise faced all this empty time to fill.

So, if you don’t think now is a good time to write a book. If you figure there’s too many other things swirling about in your life for you to get yourself together enough to write, think again. It just might be the best time for you to begin a story.

Again, if you can write during the bad times, you can certainly write during the good times.
Remember, there’s no way in hell you’re going to feel good every day anyway. Nobody feels as if they’re flying on air all the time. And guess what else? Writing through the bad times just might give you something to make you feel better every day.

Try it. You might like it. And it’s safer than drugs.

Write the book you simply have to write

3 Mar

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Frederick Exley’s A Fan’s Notes is one of my favorite books. This story of a man who dreams of glory but falls way short hits all the right buttons. A Fan’s Notes is about many things – drunkenness, madness, fame, football, love, lust and a few other human emotions and issues that most of us who’ve lived any length of time on this vast Earth have thought about or experienced in one way or another. The protagonist is like a lot of us, even if he seems to have more problems than most of us.
I read the book when I was twenty-two, fresh out of the Air Force, a time when I was at loose ends and trying to figure out what the hell to do with the rest of my life. Naturally, I identified with the main character, who was Exley himself, a man who wanted literary fame, but didn’t seem to know how to go about getting himself together to try and grab the brass ring.
That the book eventually catapulted him into some degree of celebrity is the ironic part of it all. Exley never duplicated that first book. In fact, he only wrote two other books, both of which fell far short of his first effort.
Maybe you too have a book in you waiting to get out, a fictional memoir like Exley wrote. Perhaps you’ve been carrying around this story in your head for years, but you just don’t now how to get started.
Why not try sitting down and letting it all out? Don’t get hung up on the beginning and outlining to death and wondering if it will have some kind of ending. Chances are, if you’ve been carrying the story around in your head for all these years, it will come out. Trust your instincts. Write the darn book, as I like to say. Don’t over-think the thing. Remember, the best stories come from the heart, not the brain.
And always, write fast. Remember a first draft is only a blue print. It can always be edited.
Exley put it all out there in his book. Whether you’re burning to write a fictional memoir, as did Exley, or some other book, letting loose with your heart is a good strategy. Exley wrote a book he simply had to write. How about you? Is there such a story waiting to get out?