Monday, September 12, 2011

My novel, THINKING FOR HIM, is being edited by Wylie O'Sullivan. She was the editor Rob McQuilkin originally had in mind when he read the novel. She was a senior editor at Free Press and has taken a hiatus to raise her children. I am very keen for her to edit the novel, and her work should be done in a few weeks. It then goes back to Rob McQuilkin after I do the rewrite and then, hopefully, it will go out to publishing houses.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A funny thing happened on the way to finishing my newest novel, THINKING FOR HIM. I received a stunningly nice letter from Rob McQuilkin--from Lippincot, Massie and McQuilkin--and he loved the novel and wanted to represent it if, and here's the strange part, I would allow him to acquire an editor to edit the novel. He sent it out to an independent editor--Anika Streitfeld--who read it and said it was too "grim". Mr. McQuilkin then said he was going to try Jane Rosenman. That was nearly two weeks ago and haven't heard from him since. Nail-biting time.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

chapter 4


Now while we were at the Richardson farm, Goatie Goo had some adventures that need to be told. First of all, he had grown four additional feet from his hooves to his shoulders in less than a month since the time he had been born. And he was almost a full-grown adult goat when he came out of his mother’s womb that cold December night. He was as big as a horse! And he had gained a reputation for himself also.
Not that he wanted one. He was as quiet as the day he had stood in the stall with his mother. But it’s hard not to bring attention to yourself when you’re such an anomaly. That means he was really different. He was, after all, a blue-haired, goo-haired goat. And he was already six feet tall from hoof to shoulder!
But he didn’t seem to want to cause any disturbance at all. He did seem to be going somewhere when he left his mother and the barn he was born in, but he didn’t seem to want to create any fanfare on the way to where ever he was going. But he did. Now the next part isn’t very nice to tell or to hear, but it needs to be told, because it’s the truth. There were a lot of people, mostly men, just like Farmer Jones, who wanted to capture Goatie Goo. One man saw the goat and ran back to his barn and fetched his halter and the strongest rope he owned. When he caught up with Goatie Goo, who wasn’t running away, just walking his slow, determined walk, he threw the rope around Goatie Goo’s neck. Guess what happened? Yes, of course, he ate it. Same with the halter. The man would have wrapped his arms around Goatie Goo to prevent him from going any further, at least until he could get him corralled, but, if the truth be told, he was afraid to. He wasn’t really a brave man anyway, and he just saw a chance to maybe make some extra money, as long as there wasn’t much danger involved.
Another man, who was a little more ingenious and a little greedier, took one of his chains from the barn. One of the chains he used for pulling trucks and tractors out of mud and ditches. He had already heard that Goatie Goo was headed his way, so he climbed an apple tree he had just pruned the day before and waited. When Goatie Goo walked under the tree, he threw the chain around Goatie Goo’s neck. Guess what happened? That’s right, Goatie Goo ate the chain.
But this farmer wasn’t done. He climbed to the other side of the tree, and jumped, feet first, on Goatie Goo’s back. Guess what happened? HE GOT STUCK! What a silly sight that was. A farmer standing on the back of a blue-haired, goo-haired goat, like he was balancing on a tightrope, or riding on a surfboard. After a while, the farmer figured he had to do something. He was a well-respected man. He couldn’t be standing on the back of a blue goat! It wasn’t proper behavior. So he unlaced his boots, and jumped out of them and onto the ground. He banged his shins and hurt his ankles and wounded his pride. Guess what happened next? Goatie Goo ate his boots! Now that’s justice!
Word of this blue-haired, goo-haired goat got around fast. And if you want to know, or even if you don’t want to know, the thought in the mind of a lot of people was how they could make money. Just like when men first saw the great beasts of Africa and decided they could either kill them for money or bring them home and display them for money, that’s what a lot of the people in this farming community thought about when they heard about Goatie Goo.
One man, sadly enough, tried to shoot him with a very high-powered rifle. Just before he pulled the trigger, he thought what he always thought just before he pulled the trigger: ‘This could knock down an elephant!’ And he was right. The gun had really been manufactured for that purpose, to knock down an elephant. But guess what? The bullet didn’t do anything to Goatie Goo! The bullet just got lodged in his bluey, gooie hair. Then guess what? HE ATE THE BULLET! The man fired several more shots, but with the same result. Finally, he gave up and took himself and his rifle home.
As word spread through the small valley where this story takes place, the men of the town decided to have a meeting in the town hall. That was a place where they met in order to get all of their ideas put together. Most of the time, the town hall meeting was a good idea, and a good concept. But this time, it wasn’t for any other reason but to complain and to devise a plan to capture Goatie Goo. Admittedly, having a blue-haired, goo-haired goat running around wasn’t exactly a normal event, but the goat wasn’t bothering anyone. He didn’t get into garbage cans and turn them over, he didn’t eat livestock or produce, he didn’t steal pies cooling in the windows of people’s houses, he didn’t make noise or wreck fences. All he really did was draw attention. But he didn’t do that purposefully. He was not destructive, he was not loud, he was not anything but a blue-haired, goo-haired goat that was on the way to somewhere and no one could figure out what to do about that. It was just that he was so different and, if the truth be told, most people can’t tolerate different. Most people want everything to be the same and predictable. And Goatie Goo fell into neither of those two categories.
And so the men held a town meeting in the town hall one cold January evening. There was a lot of yelling and pounding tables and not much reasonable talk. If they had heard each other, they probably would have been ashamed. But men who are wanting to do an unreasonable thing normally aren’t too reasonable. They wanted to capture this strange goat—one man said: ‘Is it really even a goat? Maybe its from a different planet come to destroy our town!’ Which caused a lot of shouting and a lot of agreement—and even though most of them knew Goatie Goo had come from Farmer Jones’s own barn and from one of his she goats, that became the general attitude in the meeting. HE WAS FROM A DIFFERENT PLANET AND HE WAS DANGEROUS!
And so then they discussed just how they could capture this goat to either destroy it, or make money from it.
“He can eat right though a barn door. I know that much about him,” Farmer Jones offered after they resolved what they needed to do.
“Guns don’t bother him none,” another farmer said. “I shot him with a rifle that could knock down an elephant and he ate the bullet!”
“Well, there has got to be some way to get him,” another farmer shouted. “He’s a menace to our community and dangerous to our families.”
That is the other thing men do when they’re being unreasonable. They always say they are doing it to protect their loved ones. That always gets people in the spirit. And they all went home that evening feeling much better about themselves and about their prospects. They hadn’t actually come up with a plan to capture Goatie Goo, but they had come to a consensus that he had to be captured, and that was the first step. Most men are used to the idea that if they put their heads together, they can accomplish anything.

Monday, October 26, 2009

One of my former students found my blog and read the first two chapters of GOATIE GOO and requested to read the third chapter. John spread the word. I never thought of putting this up on kindle, but I think I will.


Now on the other end of this beautiful farming community there was another farm that was very different than the farm where Goatie Goo was born. And the people who lived there were very different than the farmer and his wife who owned the farm where Goatie Goo was born. This farm was in great disrepair. That means the farm was a wreck! At one time it had been a beautiful farm. In fact, at one time it had been the most beautiful farm in that community. Like the farm where Goatie Goo had been born, this farm was at one time just as neat and manicured. But things had changed over the years.
The people who lived there had the name of Richardson, and generations of that family had owned the land for almost as long as the country was old. The family had been there a long time. Steven Richardson owned the farm when this story takes place, but the farm was his only in name. He had grown old, and his son and his son’s wife had taken over the care of the farm. They didn’t have much interest in working it though. They both had discovered that it took a lot of work to take care of a farm, and they lost interest in that aspect of it. They liked the big sprawling house that had become theirs, and they liked the spectacular views of the valley and the river below, and they even liked the many barns and the pond with ducks and geese swimming it. But what they didn’t like was the WORK!
But to say that they were lazy wouldn’t be fair to them. They weren’t exactly lazy, although Steven Richardson might be inclined to call them that. He was the father of Robert Richardson, and the grandfather to Candace Richardson. And it might be that some of the blame could be placed on the grandfather. He was very fastidious. That means he was very particular and very neat. He was neat about everything, but he grew too old to keep up with all the work, and so finally he handed the farm over to his son. And he expected his son to be just like him. That often happens with fathers and sons. Especially if the father thinks he does everything the right way. So when his son started planting less of the property each spring, and milking fewer cows and goats and not repairing all the equipment right away, Robert’s father became critical. And like many fathers who are critical of their sons, the son became discouraged and mutinous. He became more stubborn each time his father SUGGESTED he do work the way he had done it when he was his age. And because Robert became stubborn, his father became more critical. The situation was like a snowball at the top of a hill rolling down and getting bigger and bigger.
The only thing Steven Richardson wasn’t critical about by the time we enter into this family, is his granddaughter Candace. He called her Franny because her middle name was Francine. Candace Francine Richardson. She was nine years old and she looked like all the Richardsons tend to look. Light brown hair, green eyes, high cheek bones and a smile that makes other people smile. Like all Richardsons, her smiles were reserved for special occasions. When she was around her grandfather, she smiled a lot. He was so much like her or, better said, she was so much like him. She liked everything neat and in order. She was fastidious.
Like her grandfather, she was disappointed with the way her father treated the farm. She couldn’t help but frown each day when she came off the school bus and walked down the long lane to her house. She had seen photographs of the farm when her grandfather had been the sole caretaker, and it had been so neat and tidy. There were no weeds like there now was. Now, when she came home and walked down the lane she was greeted with three old, rusted tractors in the middle of the yard, two old cars with their hoods up, old tires heaped in a pile, a lawnmower in a row where it had quit and stayed. The barns all needed a new coat of paint and even the house was dingy with age. There were broken windows in the upper parts of the barn and even a missing pane in the attic of the house. Weeds were everywhere!
And the animals seemed to run free. There were goats wandering in the yard, and cows standing near the pond and even a few wading in the shallow part. Chickens had permanent nests in the seat of the tractors and in the inside the old cars. Squirrels were the permanent residents of the barn, and pigeons roosted everywhere there was shelter from rain.
Franny felt badly for her grandfather because he looked so sad when he thought she wasn’t looking. After he stopped working on the farm, he used to take long walks on the property, but that happened less frequently now. He couldn’t stand to see the “junk” that was strewn around the property. And so mostly he stayed in his room and only came down for meals. He read books and watched television, and he waited for the time when Franny would come to visit him in his room.
What did they do in there? Well, mostly they talked about when Franny would take over the farm. She wanted to own the farm someday so that she could make it as nice a farm as when her grandfather owned it. They would sit in her grandfather’s room and they would plot the way that she would once again make it beautiful and profitable. And even though she was only nine, she was already beginning to put their plan into motion. She would clean out the stalls as best she could, and with the help of her grandfather, on Saturdays, they would mend some of the fences. But some of the big chores, like all the large junk that was all over the place, was just too big of a chore for her to tackle. They both would become discouraged, because part of progress is to see the results, and when all the old tractors and cars and tires still lay there, day after day, it didn’t seem like they had accomplished much at all. But dreaming is what inspires action, and so they would sit in his room, when Franny was finished with her homework, and they would dream.
Like Franny’s father, Franny’s mother was a wonderful person. She loved her husband and her daughter, and even her father-in-law, Steven Richardson, but she would not take any action unless it was approved by her husband. They were a team, he always reminded her, and like a team, they had to work together. So she did all of the cooking and the cleaning inside the house, and he would be responsible for all the chores outside of the house. And the inside of the house was immaculate. Everything was clean and neat and perfect. If a stranger were to walk down the lane of the Richardson property, they would probably be reluctant to go inside the Richardson house. But they would have been greatly surprised. The inside was beautiful. The inside of the Richardson house could have been in Better Homes and Gardens. Well, to be honest, more like Better Homes without the Gardens.
The problem with Robert Richardson was that he was too much of a dreamer. Now I know that before I said that dreaming inspired action, but those two ingredients have to be kind of equal. One part dream and one part action. Robert Richardson’s whole cup spilled over with dreaming. And not the kind of dreaming you do when you’re asleep, but the kind of dreaming you do when you’re awake.
“He always has his head in the clouds,” Grandfather Richardson would say.
For instance, one time he was plowing a field with the only tractor that still worked, and when he came to the end of the furrow, he went right on and crashed into the fence before he thought to stop. Another time he was milking the cows and he forgot to take the milker off their best milk-producing cow, and the cow finally kicked the milker off herself before he came back to his senses.
What did he dream? Only he knew. He was a very private man, and even though he loved his wife and daughter, and even his father, he didn’t talk too much about what he was always thinking.
“He should be an inventor not a farmer,” Grandfather Richardson always said, mostly to Franny.
And so the farm got more and more run down the older Grandfather Richardson got, and the more run down it became, the sadder Franny Richardson became. She wanted everyone to get along, and she wanted the farm to be what it used to be, and mostly, she wanted her Grandfather to not get so old. But the sadder he became, the older he seemed to get. Sadness is a powerful emotion, and when there is enough of that emotion inside of you, like a poison, it begins to make you sick. And Franny couldn’t understand how her father and mother couldn’t see the change in her grandfather. But they were too involved in their own lives.
“Don’t you think Grandfather’s getting old looking?” Franny asked her father one day, when they were feeding the cows hay.
“Well, Candace, (her father called her Candace mostly because his father called her Franny) he is old.” He went on with distributing the hay into the feeder troughs.
“But I think that he’s gotten old faster than he should. Have you ever noticed how sad he looks? I think that’s why he’s looking older faster,” Franny said this trying to say it like she just thought it for the first time and not like she had been thinking it for a long time. It was never good to make her father think she was being critical. He didn’t do well with criticism.
He stopped what he was doing and looked at her for a long time. Franny continued to spread the hay knowing that his eyes were on her. Finally he moved toward her and put his arm around her shoulder. He kissed the top of her head.
“You’re a very special girl, Candace Richardson. Sometimes too smart for a girl who is only eight years old.”
“I’m nine, daddy!” Franny said angrily.
“Nine!” her father said, half astonished. “My how time flies,” he said the way always did when he began to lose connection with what was going on and slipped into a dream.
And Franny knew that there was no more point in talking to him. When he got like that, even if he acted like he was in the conversation, he wasn’t really. Franny thought her grandfather was right. He had his head in the clouds too much of the time. No wonder nothing ever got done, Franny thought.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My first novel on kindle!

RIDE THIS DAY DOWN INTO NIGHT is now on kindle. It's been up for three weeks and I've sold 15 copies as of today. I'm told that's good for the beginning. I have one excellent review but I need some more and I hope they are forthcoming.

Friday, April 6, 2007

GOATIE GOO (Chapter two)

Well, I guess no one has looked at my blog. Either that or those who have looked at it don't care to comment. I'll see if the first two chapters generate any interest. Here goes:


The farm where Goatie Goo was born is not the farm where most of this story takes place. The farmer who owned the farm where Goatie Goo was born was not a very nice man. He saw animals only as crops. He had gone to college to learn about farming and one of his distinguished professors had told him that. ‘Animals are crops. They’re no different than corn or wheat or apples or peaches.’ So when he went back to his farm, from then on he only saw animals as crops. If cows couldn’t produce as much milk as they used to, he sold them to market. If goats couldn’t produce as much milk to make as much cheese as they used to, he sold them to market. He was just that way. He was in it strictly for the money.
But of course his farm was beautiful. The barns were always newly painted barn red. All of the grass around the barns was manicured. His fields were always in perfect rows with beautiful and fat crops with no weeds between the rows. All his animals were groomed beautifully. His tractors were new and shiny. Even the men who worked for him seemed to have a shine to them. His farm could have been in Better Farms and Gardens!
But as was stated before, this beautiful farm isn’t where most of the story takes place. Mostly because when this farmer—we’ll call him Farmer Jones—saw Goatie Goo and the color of his hair and the texture of hair, he thought of one thing immediately. MONEY! People would pay money to come and see this goat. He couldn’t sleep after the first day he saw Goatie Goo in the stall with his mother. He tossed and turned, thinking about the money he could make with such an attraction. He never once thought about why. That part needs to be repeated. Not once, from the moment Farmer Jones laid eyes on Goatie Goo, did he ask the question why. Wouldn’t that be the normal response? How could anyone come upon a stall expecting to see a goat and instead see a blue-haired, goo-haired goat and not ask the question why? Remarkable! But Farmer Jones never did. As soon as he walked up to the stall and saw Goatie Goo, he thought of money. After all, he was once told by a very smart man that animals were crops. And why do farmers produce crops? To make money.
So that’s what he thought. He could get an advertising campaign going, make people aware of the fact that he had a blue-haired, goo-haired goat, and then start collecting the dough! And that’s why he had trouble sleeping that first night after seeing Goatie Goo. He was thinking of all the possibilities of such a great miracle. A BLUE-HAIRED, GOO-HAIRED GOAT! YIPPEE! Well that’s what he thought and that’s why he couldn’t get any sleep. His wife elbowed him at some time during that first night, because he was tossing and turning so much, but he hardly noticed.
But that was the other miracle about Goatie Goo other than the fact that he was a blue-haired, goo-haired goat. He could see and understand things that other goats and animals and even people couldn’t see. His mother, because they were still in the same stall together—the farmer wasn’t about to turn them out into the field with the rest of the goats—noticed that something was wrong. He had grown considerably in a few days, and he hadn’t really eaten anything except that first straw. Now, without warning, he began to eat the stall door. It didn’t take very long before the meal was completed, and his mother was too astonished to say anything during the process. Once Goatie Goo removed the stall door, he simply walked away. His mother thought to call him in goat talk, but she was too awed. She had certainly begun to love him, and with a very strong love, but she somehow knew that he knew what he was doing. So she just watched him walk away, a slight bluish light cast in his wake. It was night when all this happened. She cried, but that didn’t last very long. Goats don’t cry.
As he proceeded through the barn the animals watched with amazement. They whispered to each other in animal talk: cow talk, pig talk, (also known as Pig Latin) dog talk, cat talk, and so on. ‘What is that?’ they asked. ‘Who is that?’ they whispered. That’s primarily what they whispered. But Goatie Goo didn’t seem to pay attention. He just walked toward the barn door. It was closed for the night. He ate it. HE ATE THE BARN DOOR!! That may not seem such a big deal until the fact that cows and tractors come through the door. Then he left the barn, the farm, and the whole area. For a while the animals could watch his departure, because of the blue glow. They were amazed. He seemed to be a miracle.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Goatie Goo

When my first wife and I were going through a divorce--amenable enough thankfully--my daughter was the one who suffered the most. I decided I'd write her a children's book to help ameliorate her pain. For the next several weeks I'm going to post a chapter at a time and see what kind of response I get. The title of the story is GOATIE GOO. I hope you like it. Please let me know.


Goatie Goo was born in a farming community on a winter night in the late part of December. The snow was falling lightly when his mother finally pushed him into existence. As births go, it was a difficult one. His mother knew almost from the time he began to grow inside her that he was different. And he was! For one thing he had blue hair covering his body. For another thing, his hair had a stickiness that felt much like glue, very powerful glue. Also, he was too big for a normal goat. Even at birth, Goatie Goo was almost the size of a normal adult goat. No wonder his mother was glad to finally see him panting and struggling to his hooves that cold December night. No wonder she was glad he was finally out of her and on the straw littered floor!
His hair being like glue was almost immediately realized. When he finally struggled onto his hooves, half the straw surrounding where his mother stood had clung to his hair. That was easily remedied though. Goatie Goo ate it! Goatie Goo ate straw. He didn’t eat hay! This wasn’t hay! This was the chaff left from the useful grain; the stuff goats and other animals lie on, not eat. And he ate it quickly!
But his mother hardly noticed that part. She was too distracted
by the color of his hair. Azure blue! As blue as the sky or the Pacific Ocean. As blue as the color of George Washington’s eyes if you believe the pictures you see in the calendars in grade school. Very blue hair. Almost immediately the other farm animals came to the stall to have a look. The light wasn’t very good inside the barn, but the blue seemed so bright that it almost lit up the place. His mother almost fainted! Now goats aren’t very sensitive creatures, so that is a very big deal about his mother almost fainting. She would have, but she remembered she was a goat, so she butted Goatie Goo with her horns. She wanted to push him out of her life, probably.
Of course, that’s when she really understood the power of Goatie Goo’s gooiness. Her horns stuck to his side. He walked forward and because he was already larger than she, she was pulled forward also. She could have fainted then and none of the other animals would have noticed. Goatie Goo’s goo was so powerful, she would have remained suspended as if she were standing by her own will. She would have cried, but goats don’t cry. Most goats, when they have the urge to cry, will eat an old tin can. People don’t know that fact, normally. But she didn’t cry and there were no tin cans lying around.
She was attached to his side for a while. No matter what she tried to do to disengage herself, she was unsuccessful. After some time, the other animals lost interest. The novelty of Goatie Goo was wearing off. Plus they were getting hungry. They went away from the stall and before long, Goatie Goo and his mother were alone. Goatie Goo’s mother soon realized there was no possible way she could get herself free from the side of her son. She thought a lot while she was stuck to him. What did it really matter that he was blue? He was a very handsome goat after all. He looked very much like her, she thought. What did it matter that his hair was like glue? Goats loved glue! That’s mostly why they were so famous for eating tin cans. The taste of the glue that kept the labels stuck that they loved to eat, kept them from crying. It was very delicious. And he was so calm. He just stood there, the weight of his mother pulling at his side. He never bawled like other goats would have a tendency to do under the same circumstances. Plus, while she was attached to him she felt a kind of kinship with him. He was her son, and he seemed to be a very nice boy-goat. He had beautiful eyes and he had a way of looking out toward some distant object that couldn’t be seen by anyone else. He seemed, she thought, like some kind of miracle.
And like a miracle, as soon as she thought the thought, she became detached from her son’s side. She was free! But the curious part was that she wasn’t as happy as she had anticipated she would be. She felt a kind of emptiness when she became unstuck from his goo. Suddenly she felt shy around him. She realized that he hadn’t made a sound! He hadn’t said one single goat word. No baaah! NOTHING! She felt shy, because she realized he was DIFFERENT! How could she have produced this, this blue goo? How could she have become responsible for this blue-haired, goo-haired goat?
And then it came to her. She would call him Goatie Goo! If he was different, and he certainly was different, then he should have a name. She thought of adding “with hair of blue,” but decided against that part. That part sounded too familiar. And once she gave him a name, she loved him. It’s like anything else, she thought. Once you help in the creation, you fall in love. She knew she wasn’t exactly responsible for producing this blue-haired, goo-haired goat, but she knew the name was all hers. GOATIE GOO! Now that was a good name!