Fame at last

THE WAIT was long, but now I will be famous. Maybe I’ll be rich and invited to host Saturday Night Live.

TolstoyFor the first time ever, my fiction has been published. And I didn’t even ask for it.

There are three ways to publish:

First, you submit to places that publish. Though often encouraged to do that, I’m too lazy. Second, self-publish. This really does not count. Third, an editor spots something you’ve written, and asks to publish it.

They come to you.

The third option is what happened in my case. It’s the best option of all, if ego-stroking is the objective.

Paper books still are published in today’s electronic world. Two sorts of people purchase them. Luddites and folks who want something pretty on the coffee table.

Old-line publishing houses now publish both paper and digital books. Getting one of them to publish your stuff is difficult, especially in the paper versions. Proven authors are favored. Publishing houses are very risk-averse.

I recently opened an account on Medium, and for the fun of it I downloaded a number of my fiction pieces that have rested on links here for years, mostly on Pearls of Zapata.

Within 24 hours, an editor on Fiction Hub asked if they could publish The Dark Girl in the Blue Dress.

I’ve been entertaining and irritating people online since 2005, but it’s all been self-publishing, which doesn’t count.

Now that I am a truly published writer, my odd, sometimes cantankerous, personality makes more sense.

* * * *

(Note: Fiction Hub uses my real name, but you likely knew that anyway. The photo up top is not me. It’s Tolstoy.)

The summer flood

IT WAS A lovely day as had been so many in that time between the Last War and when they let the Islamists in.

The European sky was clear and blue as he sat at a sidewalk table outside the historic bistro with a well-constructed cappuccino and a plate of sweet biscuits.

Water began running in the street, lightly at first, but the stream grew, widened and rose. In short order, he, the table and the chair, which was wicker, were lifted from the swept sidewalk, and off they floated, slowly at first.

Velocity increased, and the waters widened more. Within half an hour, he had passed completely from the large, old city and was floating swiftly through the countryside.

The river was perhaps now a half mile wide.

The water was neither cold nor warm but as you would wish it in a jacuzzi on a soft summer night though it was still day, and he could see the shores on either side.

Over there, all was green. There were tall trees and flowers. He heard songbirds in spite of the distance. The other side, however, was dark and dead, scraggly bushes, toppled trees, and he spotted a hungry beast standing stock still, staring.

coonHe was not the only floater. A wooden raft passed on which sat a frightened raccoon. Other people sailed by in the distance, some flailing but many just floating quietly like himself, perplexed.

Cars bobbed by with water near the windows. People were inside. Some were terrified, but others smiled. One car contained three children alone. It raced by quickly, and moments later he saw it submerge in the distance.

tigerTime grew fuzzy as he floated. He wasn’t much of a swimmer, but he treaded water well, and he felt downright good. He thought about this flood and wondered how it happened without rain.

A tiger floated by.

Ahead he saw a curve in the river. It had been a straight shot till now. The curve grew closer, and around he went with a smile on his face, the well-constructed cappuccino and plate of sweet biscuits being the last things on his mind.

Nomenclature

THERE’S LOTS of name-calling happening in the political sphere these days north of the Rio Bravo.

It’s something I avoid. Name-calling, that is. I avoid it because I am a Southern Boy, and my mama taught me to be nice.

leftYet a friend who votes Democratic — twice for Weepy Barry* —  says I call names. He believes this because I refer to him as collectivist and left-wing.

I intend no disrespect, just clarity of speech.

This is not name-calling. There exists a political divide as everyone knows. On the right side are conservatives, libertarians and the occasional Fascist. On the left are “liberals,” “progressives”** and the occasional Communist.

When I say someone is left-wing, leftist, etc., it is stating that the person in question is to the left of the political divide. I also favor the term collectivist when speaking of leftists.

Collectivist refers to the left’s embrace of collective action to solve problems. One of the primary differences between leftists and rightists is the left’s liking of collective solutions.

Rightists generally dislike collective solutions. We prefer freedom of choice.*** If you want to help someone individually, you do so. If you want to join a collective to solve problems, you are free to do so, but you are not coerced.

Leftists embrace coercive methods to promote collective solutions. Rightists abhor coercion. Obamacare is a classic case of coerced collective action to solve a problem.

rightRightists don’t get riled when called right-wingers or rightists. We embrace it as a badge of honor and clear thinking. We are, with some few exceptions, people who prefer freedom.

I will admit that the far edge of Rightism, like the far edge of Leftism, often embraces tyranny. Tyranny is dreadful, no matter if it’s brought to you by a Hitler or a Stalin.

Leftists don’t like being called leftists, and they often deny the label in spite of crystal-clear evidence that they are.

A few years ago, I accurately referred here to a friend as a left-winger. She quickly emailed to call me an a-hole, but she spelled it out. A-hole is a lovely example of name-calling.

Alas, she is now on comment-moderation status.

A-hole is name-calling. So is jackass, sumbitch, pendejo (Spanish name-calling), well, I could go on. You know true name-calling when you see it.

Leftist and rightist do not fall into the category of name-calling. They are accurate adjectives. Collectivism is the preferred political system of leftists. It is not name-calling either.

Check your Funk & Wagnalls.

And anyone who voted for Weepy Barry, the most leftist president in U.S. history, not once but twice, is clearly a leftist, which is not name-calling. It’s a political preference.

One should embrace one’s preferences, not deny them. In that spirit, I will be categorizing posts here in a new fashion. When they deal with politics, it will clearly state Right-Wing View above the headline. See above.

When it’s dealing with my Mexican world, you will see Mexican Life. If I ever post fiction again — which seems unlikely — you will see Fiction. Anything that does not fall into one of these three categories will be labeled The Odd Pot.

These categories appear just above the post headline.

* * * *

* Since Barack Hussein Obama recently shed tears during a speech about gun control, I will henceforth refer to him as Weepy Barry. He continues to embarrass his nation.

** I put these in quote marks because I do not believe they are accurate adjectives for today’s Democrat Party.

*** Yeah, I know. Not where abortion is involved. Rightists are imperfect people, as are all people.

(Note: Some voters claim to be “Independents.” I don’t buy it. In the severely separated political world of today, you cannot be a fence-sitter. Bill O’Reilly says he’s Independent, which is laughably ridiculous.)

Death of the muse

TURNING THE CALENDAR to a new year makes one gaze both forward and backward. Well, me at least. And at my advancing age, there’s far more behind than ahead.

When I retired my former website, The Zapata Tales, in 2011, it was because I had wearied of writing about “Life in Mexico.” What had begun in 2000 as an incredible adventure that I wanted to share had become mundane, everyday life.

Still love living here, but I’m used to it.

I wanted a fresh online slate. My main interest was writing short fiction. I had done a bit of that with The Tales, but I wanted it to be my primary focus — fiction.

And it was, for a good while. I wrote some pretty good stuff that I’m not modest about. Interestingly, I’ve never taken a writing class. And, though I spent 30 years in the newspaper business, I have never taken a journalism class either.

Something weird happened a year or so ago. My muse died, inexplicably. Here’s how my fiction previously came into being: It just landed on me, magically, more often than not at dawn while I was lying in the sack half asleep.

An idea!

Then I would write it as the sun rose over the mountains. Some of it was remarkably good, if I do say so myself. Reading it later, I would wonder, where did that come from?

My father was a writer, mostly poetry and even more mostly haiku. He would worry it to death, think on it, mull on it, spend lots of time on it. And it did come out good. Some is still available on Amazon. He died in 1991.

I never mulled much. It just flowed, surprising me.

But then it stopped. Why? I have no idea. Age? Possibly. I have noticed a general attitude change of late.

The Unseen Moon now focuses on two things, politics/culture and — yet again — my life in Mexico.

Well, enough of that. To welcome in the new year, here is one of my favorites, a blast from the past. It’s titled The Broken Staircase. Maybe this will kick-start my muse:

* * * *

The Broken Staircase

Five steps rotted and collapsed in the middle of the staircase, and that’s how it all began.

Alcott was upstairs. He never left his home again.

He decided to write a history of mankind. It would be thorough, but due to having no reference materials upstairs, it would be fiction by necessity, a history of mankind as it should have been, the perfect people. He liked the idea, and dedicated the rest of his life to writing fictitious history.

. . . which should not be confused with historical fiction. No, he wrote history hidden by a mask, creating a dream world, but really, after all, it was not so different from actual historical writing at times.

But first there was the matter of survival. For that he turned to his old friend Beaman whom he had known since boyhood.

Beaman lived nearby.

There was the question of food.

Beaman tossed up a rope, and that was how Alcott received his daily meals, a basket connected to the rope. Beaman’s wife, Aldyth, simply made a bit more than she and Beaman ate each day, and Beaman took the leftovers to Alcott.

We should mention that Alcott was married too. His wife was Godeleva, but Alcott had not loved — or even liked — Godeleva in many years.

As luck would have it, Godeleva was downstairs when the five steps rotted in the staircase. She noticed the problem even before Alcott. She smiled, walked into the downstairs bedroom, packed two bags, and headed to the beach.

. . . and never returned.

* * * *

Alcott was not a social man, so the upstairs isolation suited him, plus there was lots of time to invent fictional history.

Luckily, there was a bathroom on the second floor of Bockingfold and an antique typewriter.

Bockingfold was the name of the home, which had been in Alcott’s family for generations. Godeleva had always found it cold and dreary there.

About a year after the five steps rotted in the staircase, Alcott awoke one morning thinking of Godeleva whose body was as fine as her personality was foul. That afternoon, during their daily chat through the second-floor window, as warm stew was ascending, he asked Beaman for a woman.

Man does not live by stew alone, he said, or something like that. There was an obstacle. The rope was medium-weight, and the basket had been bought at a discount outlet that imported from India.

The woman, they concluded, must be lightweight and short, a wisp of a girl.

This was acceptable to Alcott, desirable even, because Godeleva, although quite beautiful, was big-boned. And Alcott was ready for new adventures.

Find a mini-version of womankind, Alcott said to Beaman, but she must be over 21 because Alcott wanted no problems with the police.

One week later, Beaman stood beneath the window with Vulpine, which means like a fox. She said she was 26. And she was quite small, a midget actually, which should not be confused with a dwarf. She was well-formed, firm and fine.

Her hair and full lips were flaming red.

She fit perfectly into the basket, holding the day’s stew in her lap. Alcott, with a bit of extra effort, hoisted both dishes to the window sill and inside the room to which Vulpine hopped effortlessly and looked up at him, smiling.

* * * *

Vulpine did not speak much about her past. There was something about a circus, a prison and horse rides through the mountains with a man named Smoke.

Alcott and Vulpine hit it off immediately. She liked the security, the daily stews, and he liked the look of her, the red lips, the hair blazing like a bonfire.

redhead1And that’s how it stayed. The years passed, and Alcott wrote. In time there were 35 volumes of fictional history. He grew old and gray and stooped.

But Vulpine never changed a bit.

She was like magic, and that was what he wanted.

No one ever repaired the staircase of Bockinfold, and when Alcott died one day, Vulpine kissed his cheek, shimmied down the rope like a child and walked off into a sunny winter afternoon, her hair lit like Christmas candles.