Saturday, November 23, 2019

Year of an Indie Writer: Week 47

Scott D. Parker

The third full week of November also counts as the third full week of NaNoWriMo 2019. Still having fun yet?   I know I am.

This week's writing sessions were mainly action scenes. The hero of my tale got himself in a heap of trouble--as heroes are supposed to do--and he's not out of the woods yet.

The one thing I'm consciously doing with this book is the process of cycling. Here's how that works. I write in the morning. When I open the Chromebook, I re-read the stuff I wrote on the previous day's afternoon session, revising, editing, tweaking as I go. On those lunchtime sessions, I review the morning's writing. By the time I get to the blank part of the screen, I'm ready to forge ahead. It's a pretty decent way of writing...and nothing new. Really. But I'm actively doing that this time. Unlike earlier books when I sort of winged it.

The process had paid dividends. It's made for a tighter writing process, one that, by the time I finish this manuscript, will need less editing that normal. That's a huge bonus.

And I should hit the 50,000-word mark before Thanksgiving, but I'm not sure the book will be done by 30 November. I think this book will be more than 50,000 words, which brings up an important question: What is more important: finish the book or finish the 50,000 words in November?

Here’s why. If you can conceivably complete the book by the end of November, then go ahead and get there. If you don’t think you can make that deadline...but do think you can complete the book a few days after 30 November, then make the adjustment. Because, when you get right down to it, the reason you started NaNoWriMo in the first place was to complete a book. The 50,000-word mark was only a trick, a hack, to get many writers started. Your book may only be 45,000. If so, then congrats! You’ve written a book. Your book may actually not be done until you get to 95,000 or more. Your book is your book. Do your adjustments as you see fit.

But this last week of NaNoWriMo 2019 is the final push. You can do it. I did it. I'm doing it now. Millions of others did, too. Come back next week and we can discuss what to do when you successfully reach your own end goal.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Static from Beau

This week, Beau Johnson takes a look at American Static, from Tom Pitts.

"An absorbing and highly charged story of violent payback with considerable collateral damage." -- Kirkus Reviews


After being beaten and left for dead, Steven finds himself stranded alongside the 101 in a small Northern California town. When a mysterious stranger named Quinn offers a hand in exchange for help reuniting with his daughter in San Francisco, Steven gets in the car and begins a journey from which there is no return.

Quinn has an agenda all his own and he’s unleashing vengeance at each stop along his path. With a coked-up sadist ex-cop chasing Quinn, and two mismatched small town cops chasing the ex-cop, Steven is unaware of the violent tempest brewing.

Corrupt cops and death-dealing gangsters manipulate the maze each of them must navigate to get to the one thing they’re all after: Teresa, the girl holding the secret that will rip open a decades-old scandal and scorch San Francisco’s City Hall.

Steven finds Teresa homeless and strung out as their pursuers close in and bodies begin to pile high on the Bay Area’s back streets. Hand in hand Steven and Teresa lead the mad parade of desperate men to edge of the void.

American Static is a fast paced crime thriller with a mystery woven in. It’s played out against the backdrop of Northern California’s wine country, Oakland’s mean streets, and San Francisco’s peaks and alleys, written by one of its favorite sons, a man who knows the underbelly of the city like no one else. American Static’s prose has been compared to Elmore Leonard, Richard Price, and Don Winslow.

Advance Praise for American Static:

“American Static is a stunning achievement and nobody could have written it but Tom Pitts. Pitts ain't just the real deal: he set the mold for what the real deal is, and the rest of us are just plastic copies.” —Benjamin Whitmer, author of Pike and Cry Father.

“American Static grabs you by the collar and drags you through a dirty, dangerous tour of San Francisco. Tom Pitts serves up noir just the way you want it—dark, relentless, and inevitable.” —Rob Hart author of New Yorked, City of Rose, and South Village.

“American Static is a remarkable novel, a ride with brilliant twists and turns and a relentless momentum, racing to an ending both unavoidable and unexpected.” —Steve Weddle, author of Country Hardball.

“American Static is a hot dose of pure adrenaline that will leave you gasping for breath and begging for more.” —Owen Laukkanen, author of The Forgotten Girls.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Gurl, be a Man!

Look at this charmer, sitting there in his straw hat, amidst the taupe-tiled spotlit minimalist bathroom of his graciously appointed midtown apartment and displaying his collection of male cosmetics.

Kyle Lee (for it is he) popped up on my Twitter feed this week, on what happened to be International Men’s Day.

Now, I need to be clear here: He – and his odious little quote – popped up on my Twitter feed. And I got angry. I rarely get angry on or about something I see on Twitter these days, and I try very very hard (and of late pretty successfully) to avoid becoming part of any of the Twitter torch-wielding outrage mobs.

But as I sat reading how Kyle – in an article with the New York Post about the increasing market for male cosmetics – commented that he would “be embarrassed to go to the makeup department in Bloomingdale’s because [he]  think(s) it screams ‘gay’ or ‘feminine’” – I got angry and I allowed my righteous anger to encase me like a tea-tree and geranium-scented seaweed body wrap.

Kyle, the article proceeds to announce, is “a hat designer who runs his own brand, He is gay but says that he doesn’t like being stereotyped”.

And to that – while still angry, and before I’d had a chance for a more considered response – my only reaction was: “Stereotyped? Afraid of being Stereotyped? GURL, I KNOW YOU’VE GOT A MIRROR. TAKE A LOOK IN IT COS YOU ARE FAR LESS CHARLES INGALLS THAN YOU ARE NELLIE OLSEN!”

Then I realised that (a) I was being vitriolic and (b) most people won’t get my Little House on the Prairie references, because most people weren’t stuck indoors watching reruns of the show from the ages of six to sixteen because going outside meant there was a good chance someone would spit at you, throw something at you, ignore you, laugh at you or just call you a Pansy with the tone of disgust that, to this day, makes my stomach clench with a mixture of anxiety and fear.

And you know what else that tone used to cause in me? A wave of self loathing.

And that, quite frankly – that self-loathing – is evident in Kyle’s comment. He thinks being ‘gay’ or ‘feminine’ is something to be ashamed of. Because the world has told him, since he was a little boy playing Milliner while the other boys were playing fireman, that ‘that’s a girl’s job’ or ‘those are girls’ toys’ and he’s – despite the fact that he claims to be an out Homosexual (though the words ‘and proud’ are oddly missing from his description in the piece) – still, deep inside himself, is aware that he’s, at best, silly, and at worst, disgusting.

And that – once I got over the anger that someone who looks like the Mayor of Gaytown could actually say something so stupid – made me quite sad.

It was international Men’s Day, a day when we were encouraged to consider what it means to be a man, and to reflect on both the positive elements of being a man and the negative. But I found myself thinking about what it means to be ‘feminine,’ and why that would be perceived by someone like dear Kyle as something unpalatable.

Cos we all know this isn’t just men. Girls, too, are constantly shoehorned into preconceived notions of what it means to be a girl or to be feminine. Like baking and pink unicorns, you’re a little princess. Express an interest in wearing boots and growing up to be a vulcanologist, you’re… less so. But whilst society has expended a fair degree of energy on trying to address this gender stereotyping where girls are concerned, there’s still a message sent to boys that to be anything other than a rufty tufty manboy is a cause for concern.

In my life, I have had female role models who went out to work for their families and brought home a wage; who fought like lionesses for their pride and for what was right. My father was a stay-at-home parent for many years, making breakfast lunch and dinners for my brother, mother and I, and who took the time to sit with me and do my homework. They were people in an economic situation that forced them both to take on roles that neither had expected they would when they were growing up.

But they took them on, because they were pragmatic, loving, and giving, and because they were a partnership. They cared about their loved ones and they cared about themselves, and they saw nothing embarrassing, nothing shameful about being who they were and doing what they needed to do.

But poor Kyle, and people like him – and I include myself in that – are… well, some of the more discredited psychological opinions on homosexuality used to assert that it was a result of a retardation of emotional and or sexual maturation. We never really grew up, therefore we were never really able to leave same-sex crushes or sex for pure pleasure as opposed to the concept of sex as the means of procreation, behind us.

Bullshit, of course, and yet… and yet there is an element of truth (there’s an element of truth in most things, except in any statement that begins “Donald Trump is a Genius because…). The pervasive childhood linkage is one of abuse. And we never leave it behind.

If you’re told every day, either explicitly or via the fact that your culture, your world simply does not reflect you, that you are less than, that you barely exist, it’s easy to retain, for the rest of your life, a strand of that “Worthlessness” running through your DNA.
It’s a scar, and like physical scars brought on by childhood physical abuse, it will probably never entirely vanish. But you can learn to see it for what it is: a reminder of how things used to be and not of how they have to be forever. Someone with a physical scar can look themselves in the mirror and know that they are stronger and more beautiful for having survived and thrived from that trauma, or they can hide in dark rooms hating their appearance and avoiding people who might see the scar. They can liberate themselves from their past, or they can allow that scar to become a whole new form of abuse – self-perpetuated abuse, this time.

And those who bear the spiritual scars of the jeering mocking hatred of a society that tells boys ‘it’s shameful to wear makeup’, or ‘it’s disgusting to want to hold another boy’s hand’  can be the same. They can see it for what it is, or they can allow that shame-scar to make them embarrassed to be seen as “too gay”.

And yet. And yet.

I was afraid of being ghettoised. I wanted the books to be seen as ‘not just gay’. I was afraid I would be looked down on by the industry or that I would lose out on opportunities if I was ‘the gay one’, or that all I would ever be allowed to be was ‘the gay one’.

Can you see where this was coming from?

Somewhere deep inside of me – so deep I’d basically forgotten the cavern even existed – voices were telling me that “Gay” wasn’t as good as “Straight,” that being seen as only a “Gay writer” would be limiting, that being “the gay one” would, in some way, make me less than the other writers I knew.

I was Kyle Lee (minus, it must be said, the natty chapeau, but have you looked at the price of those fucking things? All I’m sayin’ is Kyle doesn’t need to sell many of those each month to pay for his taupe tiling and selection of cosmetic products). I was Kyle Lee and it took a lot of therapy and a few tragedies for me to realise what I truly hope he discovers soon: Nothing* you do is ever shameful if what you are doing is being an authentic open version of yourself.

Full disclosure: I have a spotlit taupe bathroom, a cupboard full of products (Kyle, girl, call me: I got some coupons for the Shiseido counter at Bergdorfs) and a pre-disposition to hating myself because I was trained to.

But you know what? I try to love myself, and I try to love other people, no matter how masc, femme, fat, thin, black, white, latino, asian, bald, hairy, camp or butch, dull or sparkly. Because if we – LGBTQI people – are ever going to stop the world hating us, are going to stop politicians and bigots trying to destroy our pride and erase us once more, we have a long and constant battle on our hands, and it’s going to have to start close to home.

(*within, obviously reason: I mean, shopping for foundation and powder is not shameful; wearing white after Labour Day ought to be grounds for a justified Homicide defence).


Derek Farrell is the author of 6 Danny bird mysteries. “Death of a Diva,” “Death of a Nobody,” “Death of a Devil,”and  “Death of an Angel” can all be purchased from the usual e-stores or directly from the publisher here. The fifth, “Come to Dust,” is available exclusively as a free download from his website . The sixth - Death of a Sinner - is a Fahrenheit69 Tete Beche Novella and is published in a joint edition with Ko Perry’s “Everything Happens.” It can be purchased here

His jobs have included: Burger dresser, Bank teller, David Bowie’s paperboy, and Investment Banker on the 80th floor of the World Trade Centre.

He’s never off social media and can be found at.
Twitter: @DerekIFarrell (
Instagram: Derekifarrell (

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


There are a number of books that I have read over the years that take all my hopes and dreams to be a great writer and curb stomp them into oblivion because of their incredible genius and lyrical artistry. SHE RIDES SHOTGUN ,DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS, and DEVIL ALL THE TIME. 
     Devil All the Time is the debut novel from Ohio writer Donald Ray Pollock. Despite his writing making me feel like a bear trying to ride a tricycle he is also quite an inspiration. He was a mill worker and laborer until he entered a writing program at the age of 50. He might have started late but he came on the scene like a Howitzer.

  Set in post-war Ohio and West Virginia DEVIL ALL THE TIME tells it's tale in a non-linear style that shifts forward and backwards in time. It changes setting and location often and tells the story through the mouths of dozens of characters.  Characters that are vulgar, ugly , beautiful, disturbed, tragic, poor and at their core, lost. 
         Reading DEVIL ALL THE TIME is a like a religious experience. That's fitting because religion plays such a large role in the story. Immersing yourself in it's pages feels like some epiphany. It's like Donald Ray Pollock is Jonathon Edwards with a .45. Sinners in the hands of a crazy god who eats bugs. The fact that Pollock is able to tell this gruesome grand guignol story in such an exquisite beautiful way is demoralizing. His prose is diaphanous like a butterfly's wings if each wing was dipped in blood. 
    I read DATT in two day. I felt like  I was trapped in a fever dream. Every few pages I'd mutter
"I can't believe this."
"What the fuck."
"This is a work of art." 
I'd like to apologize to the people in Starbucks who had to hear that. 
Pollock's genius is that he never makes any moral judgments about his characters. He gives you a highly stylized incident report and leave it to you to make up your mind. Even his most abhorrent characters have enough pathos to make you feel sorry for what they have become even if you don't feel sorry for who they are. 
      It's the kind of book that you throw across the room when you're done because you know you will never ever write anything that approaches the uncommon excellence of such a book. Then if you are a stubborn person you dust yourself, you count yourself lucky that you got to experience a novel like this and then you put your butt in the chair. You use a novel like DEVIL ALL THE TIME  as a bench mark . And you do your best to reach that level. Aim for the stars you might hit the moon. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


I recently watched Unbelievable, the eight-part series on Netflix.  I'm sure by now most everyone knows what it's about -- a series of rapes (a real case) that took place in Washington State and Colorado from 2008 to 2011.  The first attack involves a teenager named Marie, played by Kaitlyn Dever, who is raped in her apartment in Washington. Marie has no family and has been in the foster system her entire life, and despite some support from a couple of the foster parents she has had, has nobody truly to call her own to help see her through the rape's aftermath. Under pressure from the police, questioned repeatedly about the rape by them, doubted even by a previous foster mother who likes Marie but brings up "attention-getting" behavior she has done in the past, Marie starts to alter details about her rape story, even coming to doubt aspects of it herself.  Finally, the police investigating the case -- all male by the way, at least the lead detectives are -- wind up deciding her story isn't true and pressure her into retracting it.

Cut to three years later and a series of rapes that take place in different towns in Colorado.  Though it takes a while because different jurisdictions don't share information, detectives Karen Duvall and Grace Rasmussen wind up working together on the case, and from that point on, the episodes go back and forth between the two of them conducting their investigation and the difficult life Marie has in Washington State in the aftermath of her retraction and a charge leveled at her by the police for filing a false report.  Until nearly the very end of the series, she is not even aware that anybody else has been raped by someone using the same M.O. that he used on her and that police (with help, towards the end, from the FBI) are on the trail of the rapist.

Unbelievable is absorbing from start to finish.  Across the board, it works, the writing, the directing, the acting.  None of that is surprising when you see who worked on it: scripts by 
Susannah Grant (who did the Erin Brockovich screenplay, among others), Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman; episodes directed by Grant, TV veteran Michael Dinner, and Lisa Chodolenko (High Art, Laurel Canyon, The Kids Are Alright).  The two lead detectives are played by Merritt Wever and Toni Collette.

Seeing a series with a complicated case that spans a number of years with several victims and with two detectives on the case, it's hard to watch Unbelievable and not have True Detective cross your mind, and what I couldn't help but think is how Unbelievable is a procedural that gets its job done without the ponderousness of the HBO show.  Granted, one is fiction and one tells a true-crime tale.  True Detective is allowed stylistic flourishes (Is longeurs a better way to describe them?) that Unbelievable is not.  But what I'm getting at here is what a pleasure it is to watch a detective investigation unfold as it does in Unbelievable and not have to endure the big swings at SIGNIFICANCE that True Detective belabors you with.  The weight and shape of time, the unreliability and burden of memory -- anyone who's watched True Detective knows how hard, how very hard, that show tries.  By contrast, Unbelievable lets it significance come at you naturally, through the detailed and very specific storytelling and through what every plausible and unaffected actor in the cast brings to that story, and because of that, meaning surfaces in Unbelievable without strain.  It lets you come to it, doesn't hammer you over the head with anything.  But there's a lot going on in Unbelievable, in addition to its central core of an investigation, quite a lot, and I could watch it again for its nuances.

It's well worth the time spent with it.