Tag Archives: fiction

#SaystheEditor: Great Works of Literature



Color me shocked to read a blog post the other day that quoted a New York Times article written by an Eagle Scout. The guy was calling the Boy Scout Handbook a Work of Great Literature.

By its definition, literature is fiction. The BSA Handbook is, by its definition, not.

From Webster’s online:


written works (such as poems, plays, and novels) that are considered to be very good and to have lasting importance

: books, articles, etc., about a particular subject

: printed materials (such as booklets, leaflets, and brochures) that provide information about something

Before you get in my face that the second and third points aren’t fiction, let me point something out: it’s only the fiction entry that gets noted as consider to be very good and to have lasting importance. That’s key here.

Other the Bible, which is in a class of its own, think of Works of Great Literature. What comes to mind? Moby Dick? The Scarlet Letter? Pride and Prejudice? Don Quixote? Beloved?

And authors you recognize: Flaubert, Garcia Marquez, Borges, Faulkner, Hemingway, Joyce, Shakespeare.

These ALL have two things in common: they are fiction. And they are old. I think Toni Morrison is the newest on the list I’m looking at.

Okay, a second look shows some Harlan Ellison and Chinua Achebe. On some radars, that’s old. (On some radars, I’m old. On some, I’m not.)

But you get my point, right? FICTION. Not real. And certainly not a handbook designed to teach you outdoor skills and the twelve points of the Scout Law.

As a Boy Scout leader (Trained Scoutmaster, Venturing Advisor, Wood Badge, and member of the Order of the Arrow) and as a parent of a Boy Scout, yes, I’ve read the Boy Scout handbook. It’s fascinating reading, and the centennial edition is beautifully put together. But it’s not a novel. It’s not a Work of Literature. (to be fair, it’s the 1940 edition that is being raved about, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen, although I’ve seen some old ones, including an original. But it’s still not fiction!)

And you know what? The New York Times shoulda known that. The author of the piece should have known that. He’s a Distinguished Eagle Scout and has won all sorts of awards.

Know something else? He defined what to him a Work of Great Literature is. So he had to share his definition with the world in order to make this argument. It’s one man’s argument. It’s not a generally agreed-upon one.

It saddens me. There’s simply no way I, who works in publishing, can agree with this classification. The Boy Scout Handbook is brilliant for what it is. A manual. A guide to survival, to skills that some think are dying out (they clearly don’t watch The Walking Dead). It’s a way of life, a set of values, a challenge to your knowledge.

But it’s NOT literature.


Friday Fiction: The Graveyard


“Halloween’s still three months away,” Lauren said. She took a step back and looked at the decorations Grant had put up. “By the time it gets here, that’ll have long rotted.”

“That’s the idea,” he said. “By the time it gets here, this’ll look like a real graveyard. Full of ghosts and overgrown and scary.”

“Like that one we had to clean up for our community service,” Lauren said and shuddered. “That place was haunted.”

“Ghastly,” Grant agreed and flashed her a smile. He’d loved it, that unkempt graveyard. Sure, Lauren had been intrigued by the headstones—well, the ones she could read, anyway. It had been a Civil War graveyard, but whoever had buried the dead had been kind. They’d taken the time to put names on the stones. How, Lauren didn’t know. It couldn’t have been easy. There had been so many of them.

She remembered the atmosphere of that place. Quiet, like all graveyards were. But there was something else. Being there had made her hurt. Ache. And not just because, like most of her friends, she didn’t believe in war. War was stupid and pointless.

Being in that cemetery had driven that point home. And the fact that war is cruel, too. Lauren had come out of there feeling unsettled, awkward with herself. She’d felt like they were supposed to have been changed by a day cleaning up weeds and helping to stand marker stones up again, letting the world know who had been there before them and why they’d died.

She’d felt like the dead people were trying to talk to her.

She shuddered.

Grant noticed. “You still creeped out by that place?”

“Yes.” She nodded at his pseudo-graveyard, the one he wanted to let rot until Halloween. “And I feel like this… it’s making a joke out of it. A cruel joke. People died there, Grant. And then people forgot. They walked away. They stopped caring. And it took us, doing a day’s community service, to go clean it up, and for what? So someone can forget again?”

“If you’re telling me to give this up and go drive five hours again so we can maintain that graveyard, forget it. It’s not my job. Or yours.”

“How do you know? What if those are your relatives buried there?”

“Lauren, my grandparents came here long after the war was over.”

“Yeah, but how do you know you didn’t have family here, and they left?”

He shook his head and started to walk away.

Lauren let him go, staring at the small patch of ground with the painted styrofoam and the newly planted kudzu. He’d regret the kudzu, that was for sure. Kudzu buried things, made it impossible to see them. And what you couldn’t see, you could forget.

Part of her would always see that graveyard, the one they’d cleaned. She wouldn’t forget. Maybe one day, she’d go back and take care of it again.

A cold, creepy feeling ran across the top of her scalp. Historic or not, it had been scary.

Maybe Grant was right. Maybe some ghosts needed to be left undisturbed.

This was a Three Word Wednesday post.


Priscilla Fiction: The Marriage Bed


Some new characters I’ve been playing with… tell me what you think of them. Yes, they are part of the Trevolution!

Priscilla felt lame. That was the only word for it. Lame. As in: uncool. Tragic. Loser. It took her right back to life with Gregg, when he’d managed to convince her she wasn’t good for anything—but, at the same time, she had to maintain the image of the perfect housewife. Wear the high-end designer suits, have lunch with the ladies, have manicures, pedicures, facials. Use a personal shopper. And on and on.

It had been all about maintaining his image.

All that was so far behind her, she wasn’t sure why she was standing here on the edge of Zephyr’s studio, feeling inadequate as she looked over his latest creation: a new bedframe.
He came to stand beside her, crossing his arms over his chest.

“It’s beautiful,” she breathed.

“Yes,” he said.

She tried not to let his usual terseness bother her. That was who he was; Zephyr wasn’t a man of many words. Cassandra said it was the way he’d been brought up: measure what you say. Make sure it’s worth saying. She’d said the only time he forgot that instruction was in bed, that he lost control of his mouth and his words wouldn’t cooperate with the austere life he’d been taught to lead.

“What are you going to do with it?”

“Cassandra will call the family who commissioned it. She’ll handle it.”

“I want one like it.”

He looked at her, uncrossing one arm from over his chest. “You do.”

She nodded. “I do.” She licked her lips—and realized this was what was causing the lame feelings. She wanted a bed by Zephyr. She wanted a bed for Zephyr, and a bed with Zephyr.

But first, she had to be able to afford a bed by Zephyr, and they both knew she wasn’t there yet.

“I’ll let you know when,” she said. “You are not to make me one as a token of our love or anything.”

“A man should make his wife a marriage bed,” he said. “That way, it’s sacred to them both.”

She paused, not sure how to take that. Was he hinting at something? Insinuating that the people who’d commissioned this had been wrong to? Was he passing judgement on how and why people cheat?

“And what should a wife do? That’s a big gesture, to make a bed. What’s her contribution?”

“The quilt,” he said. “The sheets. The pillows. Each brings something vital that makes the experience complete.”

Priscilla nodded. Life with Gregg hadn’t been like that. Not really. He had brought money and image. She had brought his image to life. She hadn’t been allowed to contribute. Not the way Zephyr meant.

She turned her head and looked out the wide door of his workshop. “So Cassandra will handle it all from here? Getting it wrapped up and shipped out of here?”

He nodded once.

“The payment?”

He nodded again.

Priscilla tried not to sigh. Why was she expecting Zephyr to share his financial arrangement with Cassandra? Sure, she needed to know so she didn’t make any mistakes with her own business, but this was Zephyr. He only spoke when he had something of value to offer. He’d made it clear more than once that his business wasn’t of value to Priscilla.

He believed in hard work, and once upon a time, Priscilla hadn’t been afraid of it, either. But then had come Gregg.

Zephyr moved away from Priscilla and started examining pieces of wood. He’d lost interest in her brooding, not that she blamed him. And he had more work to do, another project to get started. Another marriage bed, or a book case, or one of his famed dining room sets. Priscilla didn’t know.

She left his studio and went back to the cottage. He wasn’t the only one with work to do.

That resolution let her feel a lot less lame.

This has been a Three Word Wednesday post. Be sure to see what others are up to. And don’t neglect the #FridayFlash crowd, either!


One of those scenes I hate to cut…


And because this is one I hate to cut, maybe it will find its way back into a book somewhere, sometime. Polished up, of course — just a reminder that everything I post here is in rough state.

Anyway, here’s the excerpt:

Sleeping with sketch pads in the bed was about as common as the boys sleeping with their favorite stuffed dinosaurs; Mitchell had once offered to buy her a stuffed animal of her own, but she’d countered by telling him that unless he was going to stuff himself, she didn’t want another animal in her bed.

He’d pretended to be offended, telling her his skills in her bed elevated him far above animal status. She’d countered by telling him she hadn’t known he was smart enough to know words like elevated.

He’d promptly shown her what else he knew. Which, of course, had been her plan all along.

Kerri and Mitchell are characters who form the backbone of my Trevolution series. Check out the books page to learn more about the Trevolution series!


You asked for it!


Only because it’s my birthday and the best gift my husband could give me was to take the kids and give me the day to write, I now present…

The Strand (a fiction Outtake)

“Trev, what do we do? We can’t take ’em back to the house; Ma’s got that party tonight, remember? And neither of them have a place… what do we do?

“Chill,” Trevor told Mitchell, hating the way the guy was getting all twitchy like some Tourette’s patient, except without the interesting vocabulary.

“The Bronco’s out after last time…”

“I know, I know,” Trevor said, trying to think fast. The girls would be back from the john in a minute or two, and they’d want a plan if they were going to head home satisfied. As if Mitchell knew how to satisfy a girl, but he was learning.

Dragging them to All Access just to use the back room wasn’t a particularly good idea, either. Spending time there before heading back was fine, but showing up just for a quick fuck apparently wasn’t.

They were at Decade, in fact, which was in one of the seedier parts of town, which meant that… “There’s always The Strand,” he offered.

Mitchell shuddered.

“Oh, like you’ve been there,” Trev sniffed. “Fuck, even I haven’t. Yet. Let’s take the girls, make it a joke and see if we can get them to cough up something better.”

Mitchell’s eyes got so big, Trevor was afraid they’d fall out of the idiot’s head. “We can’t go there! We’ll catch something for sure!”

Trevor lit a cigarette and blew smoke in Mitchell’s face. “How can you stand being such a dork?”

Mitchell stuttered and stammered something clear up until the girls came back.

“Look, we don’t have anywhere better to go, ourselves, so how about we do a double over at The Strand? Have some fun, destroy a room and run like hell?”

Trev’s girl, a brunette who, he swore, had been a prostitute only a week before, shrugged. Mitchell’s girl, who had boring brown hair but tits to make up for it, nodded eagerly. “I’ve always wanted to know what it’s really like in there,” she half-squealed. “Even if we don’t get naked, it’ll be worth the money, just to see the place.”

“And then we can get naked another time!” Trevor told her with false enthusiasm. He and Mitchell hadn’t done a particularly good job picking girls; they weren’t worth much more than The Strand, he decided.

Figured it was all working out; it always did now that he was away from Hank. That guy poisoned everything around him, even before he’d touched Trevor.

Yeah, Trev thought as he slung his arm around his girl and steered her out of Decade and down the street to The Strand, life was much better away from Hank.

They paused on the street outside the front door. “We’re doing this for real, right?” he asked everyone.

Mitchell looked about as white as his hair, but he nodded and tightened his grip on his chick. Taking it as foreplay, she snuggled against him and licked his neck.

The idiot blushed.

The lobby wasn’t much more than an office. Not even that; just a space to stand while you signed in and paid, which Trevor took charge of. M was scared enough that he’d probably forgotten how to write, let alone tell believable lies on the register, and it was just classless to let the girls take charge. Let the feminists burn their fucking bras in his face for all he cared; with Trevor Wolff, chivalry was not dead.

Through the probably-bullet-proof plexiglass, the guy slid him a room key and buzzed them through a dirty white security door. He and Mitchell exchanged looks as they passed; maybe this hadn’t been such a good idea. But a room for seventy-five cents? How could they argue?

They should have, they decided as they got into the hallway. It reeked — of bodies, of sex, of piss, of puke. It smelled worse than All Access, and that was not an easy smell to top. It was bright enough, though, which sorta surprised Trevor. “Aren’t these places supposed to be dark?” he asked Mitchell, who bobbed his head like he was too stupid to do anything but agree.

Mitchell found Room 32 first. Around the second corner; the place made a cube. What was in the middle, Trevor didn’t know. Probably a holding place for prostitutes or else a triple-x-rated peep show that was miraculously free for any vice cop who happened inside.

The room was about the same as the hall, only it smelled like bleach. Trev’s girl covered her nose with her hand. “Okay, I’ve seen enough,” she said with a shudder. “They only do this when someone dies in here.”

“Maybe they just bled a lot,” Mitchell laughed, peeking into the bathroom. Trevor stared at him; the guy seemed comfortable and at home. Had an alien been waiting inside the room and taken M over when he’d walked in?

“What do we do now?” his girl asked, touching the bedspread with her long, lacquered nail. Trevor noticed it was orange, and it would have matched the orange bedspread maybe back when the spread had been new — which had probably been thirty years ago, back when orange was in and avocado was a great color for a kitchen appliance.

“We should leave,” Trevor’s girl said.

“Wait, I want to look around,” Trevor said, following Mitchell — who still hadn’t come out of the bathroom. Either the killer was still there, or the guy was taking a whiz.

Neither; he was inspecting the bathtub. “Can you imagine?”

Trevor didn’t want to tell him it had fewer cracks than the one in Hank’s house. It was cleaner, too.

But, of course, Hank had liked sticking them in the bathtub before he’d reached his ugliest point. Less to clean up, he’d laughed. Trevor also thought the guy had gotten a hard-on, watching them try new ways to escape.

He shuddered; that shit was best left where it belonged. “C’mon,” he said. “I’ve had enough of this joint.”

Mitchell looked at him funny. “You okay?”

“Sure. Nothing that won’t get cured by leaving this shit-hole. We came, we saw, we left. Wasn’t that what we wanted?”

The kid squirmed. “I thought we wanted the girls to cough up a place. You know…”

“Yeah,” Trevor sighed, “I know.”


Fiction Outtake: Rain


ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes (Year 1)This is a mini-scene that popped into my head two nights ago. I have no clue where it belongs or anything about it other than it provides great color.

Mitchell nudged Kerri awake. When she tilted her face, pressed against his shoulder, up toward him, he whispered, “Rain.”

She listened. Sure enough, she could hear the rain beating on the bus and the sound of water being pushed aside by large wheels.

“Rain,” she whispered back and pressed more firmly against him and promptly fell back asleep.

Some would call this the mindless ramblings of an insomniac, but I think I come up with pretty cool stuff in the middle of the night.