The Dreaded Update Post

Hello World (or more specifically, the half dozen people who actually read this crap),

It’s been a while since my last update post, so I figure it’s time for some updating. As per usual, this will take the form of a numbered list. The following is a representation of what’s been going on for ol’ Eric James-Olson:food-eggs-box

  1. I still write things. Yes, I know, I know. I don’t write things on this blog very often. But believe me, I’ve been writing other stuff. What have I been writing, you ask? The answer can be found in numbers 2-4.
  2. A few months ago I finished editing my final book in the EJO series. I’ll be publishing Whom Cain Slew in the same manner as it’s predecessors. I’ll be doing all the prerelease stuff through Amazon, so if any of the twelve of you want a free copy, just drop me a line.
  3. I finished the rough draft for my first bildungsroman. It’s a difficult manuscript to describe, so I won’t bother. Instead, I’ll leave you in suspense on the off-chance that it ever becomes a real book. I won’t be looking to revise or edit it or even look at until summer.
  4. Over the past two months, I’ve focused most of my energy on writing short fiction. For those of you who barely know me, I’m the president for my Home Owners Association (Yep, I’m that guy). Many of the short stories are based off of my experiences with the HOA. I’m writing under my real name, Eric J Smith, and amongst my numerous rejections from  literary magazines, I’ve received one acceptance so far. Reminds me of dating (Don’t tell my wife). Whenever it’s published, I’ll be sure to let you all know (All…yeah, as if there’s more than three of you).
  5. I completed my first few classes for my MFA. I know there are numerous opinions about MFA’s, but none of those opinions are as good as mine. Here’s my opinion: it’s totally worth it (Even more so, when your employer pays for it).
  6. I served as a reader for a literary journal. It’s an indispensable (strange word choice, much?) experience and I’ll be writing more about this in a post next month.
  7. I’ve begun building the website for Eric J Smith. I won’t post it here because it’s pretty rough at the moment, but I’ll keep you all updated. As many (Is many of a half-dozen still many) of you already know, the name Eric James-Olson was created for the EJO book series, as well as, my sarcastic series of blog posts titled “Letters on Literary Devices.” The book series is written, and I don’t do those silly posts anymore. I do, however, plan on maintaining this blog to share my writing, to share writing advice, and as a platform for writing services. So nothing will change. Whereas the other site will serve as a landing site for anyone interested in Eric J Smith, a guy who doesn’t even have a book yet.

That’s all for now. Deuces.

A Brief Comment on Book Reviews

While most self-respecting authors refuse to admit how much they enjoy reading customer reviews on Amazon, I don’t mind telling the truth: everyone does it and everyone enjoys it. Let’s be real here, it feels good to see what people say about our writing. I find it thrilling whenever a reader really gets what I’m saying. Earlier today I checked out my Amazon page for But the Angels Never Came, and I found a new review that really got it. In my excitement, I wrote this blog post and then pasted the review below. Check it out:blur-old-antique-book-medium


But the Angels Never Came, by Eric James Olson, is a multi-layered tale that takes the Bible story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son, and sets it – with some significant changes, in two time periods in the future.

It’s important to read the introduction, which is part of the story. It explains that this is a 400-year old manuscript from the late 21st century, written between 2070 and 2117. It was also banned. Like many a scholarly presentation of an ancient manuscript, this one is annotated, with notes appearing in brackets at various points in the story. My favorite note explains that all errors of wording, spelling, and punctuation have been retained in the annotated version as part of the editor’s quest for verisimilitude.

It’s also important to be familiar with the Bible story, since the author uses elements of it all the way through the book. According to the story (Genesis 22: 1 – 19), God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac (though many Muslims assume it is Ishmael). Abraham agrees, though he loves his son, preparing the altar and tying his son on top of the wood. When he takes out his knife to kill Isaac, an angel stops him and tells him to sacrifice a ram instead. It’s a puzzling story usually interpreted as a test of Abraham’s faith. The crux of this book, as the title explains, is what would happen if the angel didn’t show up.

The main story features a group of survivors escaping the post-Apocalyptic anarchy of the city and trying to reach the relative safety of Church Peak.

The inner story, told by a man originally identified as the Storyteller, concerns the flight of Abraham, his wife, Sarah, and their son. The more you know about the book of Genesis, the more you’ll enjoy the many references.

The Storyteller uses elevated diction typical of the Bible: “Thou shalt not steal. Would you be as Adam Lot? Would you sacrifice your life for the theft of another’s morsel?”

Sarah, though, uses very casual language and seems to be the only who sees people as they really are.

The Storyteller has a recurring vision, where he is a younger man standing on a field of grass. He sees a ram with the face of a boy. “The dagger found its place,” the boy said in the voice of a ram. But the second. The second can be prevented. Abraham,” the boy-ram said, “Do this and you are absolved of your sin.”

At the center of the story, the two stories overlap. Both groups are headed to Church Peak, and talk of faith and sacrifice abounds.
The ending is powerfully fierce.

This book is a treat – a layered, engaging read that never loses its intensity. Highly recommended.


And that’s it. Thanks for reading. And if you’d like to read it, click the title: But the Angels Never Came


Bath Salts

Lately, I’ve been submitting flash fiction and short stories to small press literary magazines, “lit mags,” for those in the biz. I’ve dusted off and re-edited some old stuff and I’ve written some new stuff. While I think most of it is pretty good, there are a few pieces that are too short for longer flash-fiction journals and too long for short flash-fiction journals. pexels-photo-113776-medium-jpegThey’re over 150 words but shorter than 300. I’m sure that sounds confusing but the point is this: I have a bunch of little pieces for putting out here on the blog.

I wrote the following short story as a writing exercise during my summer residency in Lisbon, Portugal. Enjoy!


Bath Salts


“Cocaine?” he asks.



“Get outa here,” I say waving my hand brushing past the street dealer, pick pocket, young man in a white t-shirt with a sleeve rolled up and his hair pasted to his head. Not from hair gel. From a week in the street without a shower in the hot Portuguese sun.

He follows me.

“Cocaine?” he asks again and I turn around.

“No,” I say. “Bath salts.”

“Wha? Yeah. It’s good. You want cocaine?”

“No. Bath salts. I have bath salts. You want bath salts. I’ll sell them to you.”

“No, hashish?”

“Or crystal meth. I got meth. You want meth?”

He stares at me, his eyebrows knitted and a half smile. Standing beside him, another dealer stops another man. food-kitchen-cooking-spices-mediumOn both sides of the street, young people stand in front of bars, pubs, convenience stores with plastic cups in hand, talking loudly or standing in circles, sitting at little café tables or walking back in for another drink.

There’s someone else to stop, hundreds and thousands of someone else’s to stop and they, not all of them but some of them, are passing by as I ask him again.

“Come on man, I got bath salts, crystal meth. You want? It’s good.” I pat him on the shoulder. I’m lying, of course. It’s true that I’m from West Virginia, but I don’t have crystal meth, and I certainly don’t have bath salts.

He isn’t smiling anymore as he walks past me and I hear him say, “hashish, cocaine,” but he’s saying it to someone else.


Thanks for reading. And if you haven’t checked out the EJO series, click this here link


Gay Radical Islamists: The Silver Bullet of Terrorism

After the tragic shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, millions of people around the world felt shock, repugnance and outrage. However, there was one minority group who didn’t seem surprised at all: Gay Radical Islamists. Yes, that’s right, this previously unknown conglomeration of rainbow-loving,Muslim explosive-vest-wearing, infidel-hating, butt-love-making Radical Islamists existing somewhere on the fringes of the margins of society, knows exactly why Omar Mateen shot up that nightclub in Orlando.

While the media advocates against the existence of some “silver bullet” solving the impossibly impossible riddle of mass shootings in America, this writer has not only found the silver bullet through his research into Gay Radical Islamists, he’s loaded his AR15 with it. The silver bullet (or “solution” for those of you who don’t understand the metaphor) does not involve theories regarding lone wolves (There is no such thing. All terrorists are Radical Islamists as stated by both presumptive presidential candidates). The silver bullet does not require any legislation dealing with gun control. The silver bullet does not require banning Muslims or Mexicans or building giant walls around gay clubs. Walling and banning will actually make the problem worse. The problem, as identified by a Gay Radical Islamist friend of mine, has nothing to do with mental health or deep psychological issues. The problem in a single word can be described as follows: closets.

Yep, I know it sounds crazy, but terrSilver Bulletorism in the western world has a single identifiable cause: closets. Described in astronomical terms (for any scientist dumb enough to take any of this seriously), closets are the Big Bang of terrorism, the moment that got it all started.

Just think about it for a second. Just about every Radical Islamic terrorist since the beginning of America has been gay— Nidal Hasan, the Tsarnaev brothers, Barrack Obama, Timothy McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, the Unabomber, Mahatma Gandhi, Julius Caesar, George Washington, Martha Washington, Betsey Ross, Jesus Christ—just to name a few painfully obvious examples. Although this can’t be proven with facts or evidence, a few moments of quiet reflection while looking at the pictures of these men reveals exactly what brought them to terrorist acts. Anyone with gaydar can clearly see that these men were not only gay—they were hiding in a closet of shame and fear.christ-898330__180

Omar Mateen and his custom of visiting gay night clubs and gay dating apps finally proves what the Gay Radical Islamist community has been saying all along: GIVE US MAN-LOVE OR GIVE US DEATH!

While the Western World has welcomed the LGBT community with open arms in the past decade or so (I’m not exactly sure how long. Whenever that Barack Obama guy took over), ISIS has not. At the same time as court rulings across the U.S. declaring marriage as the union of person and person rather than man and woman, ISIS has been diligently executing anyone suspected of homosexuality in the most brutal of ways. Clearly, there is an injustice here. Gay Radical Islamists are forced into a closet of secrecy—unable to hate the western world while still lusting after members of the same sex. No one should be surprised by the results: Gay Radical Islamists bursting out of closets with hate and bloodlust.

Just try to imagine for a moment. You’re an ISIS militant. This is what you’ve wanted to do all of your life. You’ve spent your childhood dreaming about jihad and killing infidels. But wait. Something is wrong. You don’t picture your 72 virgins with big breasts and wide hips. No, no, no. You see ripped pecs and giant wankers. But you can’t tell anyone. And worse yet, you can’t act on it. And the whole time, you know there are people out there in the western world who can be gay whenever they feel like it.

Just try to put yourself in the shoes of one of these Gay Radical Islamists. Just imagine being trapped in a closet with your anger and hate. Try to feel the jealousy! If you can do this—place yourself in the shoes of a Gay Radical Islamist, you’ll understand mass shootings in America. ALL OF THEM! EVERY SINGLE ONE! WITHOUT EXEPTION! THIS IS THE SILVER BULLET!rainbow-68202__180

Thus, the goal shouldn’t be to shut the Gay Radical Islamists out. Now more than ever, we as a society need to extend our communal hand into the darkness of the closet and guide our Gay Radical Islamic brothers out into the light of day. Perhaps, with the storm and struggle of Radical Islamisism over, they’ll see a rainbow of love and acceptance.

An Update of Sorts

Hi readers,

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted so I figured I’d put out an update post. No writing tips here or new work, but I will be posting a satire I wrote later this week.

I have three updates:

  1. I started an MFA in creative writing this summer, so I’m currently writing from Lisbon, the location of my summer residency. I’ve learned a lot over the past two weeks and I look forward to sharing my
  2. I plan on refocusing this blog. I’ve gone back and forth with it, but I’ve decided to get back into writing satire. Most of my early readers appreciated my satirical approach, and as a result, those were my most popular posts.
  3. I recently edited and revised my self-published books. As a whole, the four books went on a decent run when I first published them, but I’d still like to reach more readers. Each book has been polished and I’ve added the satirical layer found in the fourth book, the annotations by the EJO scholar McCarthy Gables, to the first three books. One of the benefits in self-publishing is that it allows for revising and re-editing. With that said, this should be the last time that I’ll look at these. If you’d like a copy of the final versions they are on sale right now. Feel free to click the links below:


Farmers and Cannibals

But the Angels Never Came

Just After the Fall

The Church Peak Hotel: Revisited


And thanks!





Writing with Style 5: Writing Discomfort

While its easy enough to simply say a character feels uncomfortable, I find that showing the discomfort goes  a long way in making that discomfort feel real. First, it’s important to identify a “symptom” of the characters discomfort. This could be anything as long as its repeated throughout the event you are writing. It could be a look, sweat pouring from the character’s forehead, cottonmouth, or anything else your imagination can contrive. despair-513529__180The trick is repetition. In the excerpt below, you’ll see my approach to showing discomfort in a new coming of age novel I’m working on. Like everyone else who writes bildungsroman, I’m trying to write the next Catcher in the Rye. I’ve bolded the repeated “symptom” so you can easily see what I’m talking about. Check it out:


from Untitled

“Jordan!” she said with a gasp and her hand over her chest. “I double checked my calendar twice. I was so worried. I—I thought you must’ve been in an accident or—I didn’t know what to think—I—”

“It’s fine, Grandma,” I said as I hugged her. She smelled like old-lady perfume and incontinence. “There was a bad traffic jam and I was sitting in it for over an hour. Must’ve been a ten car pile-up. I saw two ambulances coming back the other way before it all cleared up. Looked pretty bad.”

She gasped again. “That’s horrible.”

I felt a little bad because she didn’t think to question me, but what was I going to say? “Hey grandma, I’m late because I slept off a hangover, got in a fight, popped some painkillers, did a line of coke, had some sex with a girl I’m not dating, and then hung out by myself at the skatepark as I came down from the drugs.” Obviously, I couldn’t say that and if I did, it would break her tiny old lady heart. It’s the same with mom. You have to lie to them for their own good. They don’t want the truth. They just want to hear that you’re doing well and you’re happy and they don’t need to worry about you. That’s all they want.

After that my visit with grandma was uneventful. We watched the TV and drank tea and played cards at her little kitchen table. We didn’t talk at all while we played gin rummy and I couldn’t help but focus on her tiny ashen hands, so white I could see the green and blue of her veins. A fine mist from a humidifier sprayed into the air behind her and the room was so hot I stripped down to my white undershirt.

I still felt the hangover from the night before, and the smell of old person caused sweat to bead-up on my forehead. After the final hand grandma looked up at me and leaned back in her chair.

“You’re mother says you’re doing well in school. All A’s?”

“Yea,” I said and I wasn’t lying. I had straight A’s since freshman year.

“And you’re applying to colleges this summer?”

My palms were sweating now and I was glad we were finished with the cards. “Yea. We made visits last year. And mom wants me to apply to five schools.”

Grandma nodded her head and smiled. She was pleased. “No one from our family ever went to college. I wanted to go but there wasn’t enough money. Your mother is so lucky to have met your father. Without him, you would have grown up like everyone else in the family. You’re a lucky boy.”

I felt like I’d puke right there and my eyes started doing this thing where the bright light made them twitch. Sweat stung my eyes, and I couldn’t look at her anymore. Every time I looked at her the light in the room pulsated around her head.

“We’re all so proud of you,” she said.

I couldn’t take it anymore. “Well,” I said. “I have to get going. I’m meeting up with a friend tonight. We’re studying for a test in physics.”

“Ok,” she said. “Is it with that friend I met last summer? What was her name? Hm. Miranda?”

“Yea,” I said quickly. Grandma must’ve forgot I go to an all-boys school.

“She was such a nice girl. So polite. And pretty. That’s the type of girl you hold on to and never let go.”

“I better not be late then,” I said. And as I stood up and grabbed my shirt from the back of the chair, I started to feel good again. I hugged grandma in spite of the old-lady perfume and incontinence. “I’ll see you next month.”

An Update of Sorts

Hi folks,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update, so to please my millions and millions of dedicated, hard-core fans, I’ve decided to sit down for a moment and share what I’ve been working on.

Number 1: I don’t actually have millions of fans. And, just to update everyone, I’ve made no recent attempts at acquiring these millions. Lots of writers do that B.S. but this one doesn’t have time for all that.

Number 2: I just said number 2. So yes, I still find poop jokes funny.thSHW7SCEH

Number 3: I’m still posting Writing as Art and plan on going through the back log of submissions. I’d like to post all of them. But, as per usual, I won’t do this as a weekly sort of thing because I still hate tying myself down with self-imposed deadlines.

Number 4: I’m still looking for representation on a novel I finished a year ago. But I’m not doing this actively. So, in other words, for those of you who know how the biz works, I’m not actually doing it at all.

Number 5: I’m still ghostwriting books for other authors and my email is always open to anyone who’d like help with a book.

Number 6: The last point sounded too serious. And, to stay true to my nature, I still make jokes in serious situations. Poop.

Number 7: I’m editing my self-published series, Whom Cain Slew, with the addition of the final book to be self-published as a compendium style book thing, a Super Book, if you will.

Number 8: As the careful reader may have noticed from the previous bullet point, I still use unnecessarily complex sentence structure whenever the mood strikes me. This includes run-on sentences that aren’t punctuated correctly and seem to go on and on without making sense also without making a point and furthermore blah blah blah blah

Number 10: I still skip the number 9

Number 11: I’m still annoyed by update posts. If you couldn’t tell,  I have a hard time taking this sort of thing seriously.

Number 12: I still use a computer as my primary method for writing. From time to time, I’ve been known to write on a piece of paper or a block of wood. When I was a child in school, there were many times when I wrote on my arm or hand.

Number 13: I’m working on a new bildungsroman. For those of you who don’t speak German, I’ll translate: coming-of-age novel. I’m enjoying this one and I’ll be sure to post excerpts as I write it.


I think that’s all. Update over.

Writing as Art 2.0: The Rython Kingdom

Writing as Art digs deeply into the literary, structural, and poetic devices that make writing an art form. Well, its supposed to at least. The excerpts and short fiction presented are chosen from a list of submissions sent by authors around the world. But that doesn’t mean the excerpts are artistic or even well-written. You see, when I first started posting these excerpts, I provided running commentary  demonstrating the authors artistic th (12)choices. I don’t do that anymore because my readers thought it was weird and hard to follow. So instead, I just post the excerpts that are sent to me and let my readers decide. Some are good. Some aren’t. Either way, let me know what you think in the comment section below the excerpt. Don’t feel like you need to hold any punches. Bash it or praise it; either way, I’m not bothered and will keep my responses technical.

For this week, we have an excerpt from Mandy Eve-Barnett’s novel The Rython Kingdom. Check it out and let me know if you see it as cleverly composed art or just a bunch of the same old regurgitated crap. Here it is:


from The Rython Kingdom

A wizened old lady shuffled her way towards them aided by a striking looking woman, who took Guillem’s breath away. Her beauty stunned him into silence.

“Is this he?”

“This indeed is the troubadour I told you about, Elviva.”

“The tale you tell, is it of your own making?”

“I…well it is in some manner…the tale came to me in a dream.”

The old woman grasped Guillem’s hand, her flesh thin, akin to paper.

“As I suspected she has bewitched you storyteller. The tale you tell is of her design for some dark purpose. Tell me are you near story’s end?”

“My narrative will conclude this very evening.”

“Are there incantations within?”

“Yes, words I shall not speak as they burn in my mind. I dare not voice them.”

“I shall need parchment and quill, majesty.”

“Take what you require, Elviva, there is plenty at your disposal here.”

The old woman beckoned her granddaughter closer and whispered into her ear. Guillem watched the young woman divide the parchment into six pieces and dip the quill into ink.

“You will recite the first two lines of the incantation to me while Juliana notes them.”

“But… will we not incur the wrath of Malgraf?”

“It is only when the words are spoken in their rightful order do they release their power. Follow my instructions precisely and the evil shall be contained.”

Guillem relayed the words in the order, Elviva directed while Juliana wrote them on separate pieces of parchment.

“Careful not to let the edges touch or to read the words together, my child.”

“As you say, Eldenma.”

At the strange endearment, Guillem looked up at Juliana. Their eyes locked and he experienced a yearning never before felt. Such dark eyes… seemingly fathomless.

“No time, story teller for other matters, let us continue.”

The old woman’s husky voice broke into his trance. How could this maiden entrance him so – had he not had his fill of willing maidens?

“The last lines will be spoken separately and noted the same.”

Juliana moved the last piece of parchment to the opposite end of the table and then stood at her grandmother’s side.

“Your majesty, there is a part of this ritual that requires you play a part.”

“Elviva, I am willing to assist if it means destroying the sorceress. What will you have me do?”

“Blood must be spilt…”

“Blood, come now, is this necessary?”

“Quite necessary, sire, for without it the papers will assemble releasing the words then no amount of fighting will conquer the pure evil contained therein.”

“We must be guided by Elviva, Guillem; I have every reason to trust her.”

“Your majesty, I shall be guided by your example.”

Elviva unsheathed a small dagger that caught the firelight on its blade. With a deft movement, she pierced her palm and let blood drop onto one part of the transcript. Juliana held out her hand and did not flinch when the blade cut, even though Guillem did. Not wanting to be diminished in the maiden’s eyes Guillem held out his palm. The dagger sliced, beads of blood seeped onto another page. Then Elviva faced the king who nodded his ascent. His hand was steady as the soothsayer punctured it with the blade’s tip. Each of the six sections were smeared with blood and cast into the fire. As the parchment burnt, flames of intense purple flared, all the while Elviva chanted under her breath.

“I shall fashion new words for you to speak, tale teller, which will reveal those shielded by magic. His majesty has made provision for extra guards within the great hall, I do believe.”

“Indeed, Elviva, some disguised as servants and others as courtiers concealing our true number to tackle any opposition.”

“More parchment, Juliana.”

Guillem watched as Juliana gently placed more parchment before her elderly companion and then dipped the quill into the ink. The insertion of the quill had his thoughts on delights he could enjoy with this enticing maid. The quill tip scratched across the dry paper. Elviva’s hand shook making the letters spidery in form.

“Read what I have written, Guillem, but do not voice it. If you are unsure of a word please point it out to me.”

Guillem took the offered paper and read the text. The scribble before him took some time to decipher but he did manage to read every line. He nodded his understanding to Elviva.

“My part is done, your highness. If I may take my leave, this work leaves me undone.”

“You have been of great service this night, Elviva; I have made arrangements for you to stay within the castle tonight.”


And that’s it. If you liked Eve-Barnett’s writing, check out this link to her book on Amazon: LINK TO AMAZON


I Know why They’ll Vote for Trump

While the media has sought explanation after explanation for Donald Trump’s success in the polls, I think I finally have it figured out. The following short story is based off an experience I had a few weeks ago. It’s another example of fictionalizing an every day experience. In this story, I take some ordinary men talking about an upcoming election for a home owners association and compare it to the upcoming Republican primary election. th (14)This is written as an allegory, but the only hints are in the title and the final sentence. Here it is:


I Know why They’ll Vote for Trump

So I walked back down the gravel road and saw Ned McCumbee and Skip Wright standing beside the old white Camaro parked at the end of the driveway. Caked in dust, the car faced out towards the road and didn’t seem to mind McCumbee’s weight, all three-hundred pounds of it, sitting heavily on its hood.

I had passed the men on the way out to pay Miss Evelyn Thompson a visit. She was an older lady and a tree threatened to smash the roof of her house. She had called from her house-telephone and I could tell because the number didn’t match the one she had given me the week before. “Could you come take a look at it?” she had asked.

Well, that tree was in need of a professional. “Sorry, miss,” I had said, “But I can’t take it down. You’ll need a professional for that. I got the name of a guy. It won’t cost you much. I’ll call him for—”

But she interrupted me and asked for his phone number. “No, I’ll call. Don’t you worry. I’ll call.”

But she wouldn’t call. I knew right then and there. She wouldn’t call and later that summer the tree would come down on its own.

Anyway, I was on way back from speaking with Miss Evelyn when Skip Wright noticed me from his place standing across from the white Camaro. He waved his big hand with his long noodle of an arm. I had managed to pass by unnoticed on my way up, but they noticed me this time. Maybe they’d been talking about me after I passed them earlier.

“It’s been awhile,” I said nodding my head towards Skip. “Heard you’ve been out of town. Didn’t hear what for.”

Skip sucked his lips into his mouth. th (13)He only had one or two teeth, so whenever he spoke, his lips went in and out of his mouth slackly. It seemed as if he were chewing on them, but he had nothing to chew with. “Yep. Been back down in Georgia. Yep. Went down not a month ago. For my son’s surgery. Yep. Wife’s still down there. Emergency surgery. Had to take out nearly half his colon. But he’s ok now. Tough goin’ for him. But he’s ok.”

“I’m sorry to hear—” I began but he kept saying what he was saying without noticing me.

“But I figured I’d come up here and check out the place,” he said rocking back on his heels. His noodles for arms were behind his back and his lips sucked all the way in his mouth. “Make sure it ain’t been robbed. Figured I’d come back for the meeting too. Heard there’s a meeting this weekend. Ned told me so.”

From the corner of my eye, I could see Ned McCumbee who sat with his arms crossed on the hood of the white Camaro nodding his head.

“I’m glad you’ll make it out,” I said. “We’re having a vote on officers and—”

“Yea, I heard all about it,” Skip interrupted sucking in his lips. “What officer are you?” he asked. “I know George was president, but he’s out now for stealin’. And I was thinkin’ that we don’t have no president.”

He stared expectantly. I must’ve bit my lip and I know I looked away. “Yea,” I said. “Well I’m the acting president. Last meeting they voted for me as vice-president. But—”

“Well, if there ain’t no president, I think I should be president. I figure—why not? I can do it.”

“Well,” I began and couldn’t help but smile. I looked down at Ned McCumbee and he was still sitting on the white Camaro. “There’s a lot that goes into the position. It’s a lot of work and a lot of know-how.”

“I can do it,” he repeated. “I’m gonna turn this place around. I’m gonna do it for the people. That’s what I’m good for. I’m good for the people.”

“Well,” I said. “We’ve done a lot already—since George resigned. We’ve…” and then I listed all the things I fixed as the acting president for the association. “Now there’s three spots open for officers. And I need people who’ll do the work. The big thing is communication. We made a website and we’d like to start handling things through email and—”

“Oh I don’t have email,” Skip said. “Nope. Don’t have a cell phone neither. That’s how they get you. Learned that from when I was with Hell’s Angels. Nope. Don’t do nothing with a phone and nothing with a computer. I don’t even like talking on the phone…”

Then for several minutes Skip spoke about his distrust of the government and his trust in conspiracy theories and his favorite conspiracy shows. While he spoke, I half listened and waited for a moment to interrupt. For a brief moment he stopped and sucked in his lips. He rocked back on his heels.

“Yea,” I said. “Well, most of what we do for the HOA is on the internet. The papers we file are all electronic. We talk through email, so—”

“Yep,” he interrupted. “And I think I’d be good for president. Ned here thinks I’d be good and everyone else thinks so too. It’s ‘cause I’m here for the people and we need something different. With George trying to steal our money, we need a change. George couldn’t do a damn thing right. But I’ll know what to do to get this place back in shape. I’ll know what to do.”

I didn’t try a response. “Alright,” I said. “I’ve got to get going. See you two at the meeting.” But this is what I wanted to say: “It’s a job for a professional. It’s a job for someone who understands how the association works. Sure, confidence is great. Sure, it’s fun to make gossip and baseless accusations. Sure, it sounds good to say that you’ll ‘do it for the people.’ But the real world takes special knowledge and special expertise.” I didn’t say this, of course. Neither would have understood. When the vote comes up in the meeting, a few folks might cast their ballots for Skip Wright. It’ll be the same few folks who’ll vote for Trump.

Writing as Art 2.0: Mirage

th (12)Writing as Art digs deeply into the literary, structural, and poetic devices that make writing an art form. Well, its supposed to at least. The excerpts and short fiction presented are chosen from a list of submissions sent by authors around the world. But that doesn’t mean the excerpts are artistic or even well written. You see, when I first started posting these excerpts, I provided running commentary  demonstrating the authors artistic choices. I don’t do that anymore because my readers thought it was weird and hard to follow. So instead, I just post the excerpts that are sent to me and let my readers decide. Some are good. Some aren’t. Either way, let me know what you think in the comment section below the excerpt. Don’t feel like you need to hold any punches.

For this week, we have an excerpt from Jean Blasier’s novel Mirage. Check it out and let me know if its art or just cleverly written or just a bunch of crap.




The cab turned left off Sunset, past the Bel Air Hotel now emerging from the fog, its manicured lawn glistening with dew.

Lily put on her glasses and checked the directions again.  “Are you sure this is the right road?” she asked the cab driver for the third time since they left the airport.  And for the third time the cab driver responded, “Stone Canyon.”

Inside the mansion at 1520 Stone Canyon, Tim Michaels was looking out the front window, as nervous as his soon-to-arrive guest was excited.

“Dad, sit down.  I’ll get you a cup of coffee.”  Molly Michaels, Tim’s daughter-in-law, hated to see her father-in-law all wrought up about this woman who, after all, had invited herself to California.

“I don’t want any more coffee, sweetheart.  Does this sweater make me look fat?”


“Did I ever show you a picture of Lily from grade school, Molly?”

“Yes, you did, dad.  But that was a long time ago.”

“Thirty eight years.  She moved to Pittsburgh after eighth grade and  broke my heart.”

“Seems odd, doesn’t it?   All these years and you never heard from her.”

“We moved to California and lost track of Lily.”

“Until last Saturday.”

“You could have knocked me over with a feather when that letter arrived telling me she was coming here.”

“How do you suppose she got your address?”

“I don’t know.  Maybe one of those searches on the internet.”

Molly fluffed up one of the pillows on the sofa.  “Did you ever try to find her with one of those searches?”

“Yeah, I did once, after Barbara died, but there was no trace of a Lily Spitzer who used to live in Sandusky, Ohio.”  Tim picked up one of the chess pieces off the small table in front of the sofa, polished it on his sweater and returned it to the board.

It was the perfect time for Molly to say something she’d been wanting to say ever since she heard that this woman was planning to visit for an indeterminate stay.  “I think you should be careful, dad.  I mean, you don’t know anything about this woman.”

Tim looked out the window once more.  He checked his watch.  “You’re going to love Lily, Molly,” he said, ignoring his daughter-in-law’s counsel.  “She was the life of every party.”

“I’m just saying, I can’t believe she invited herself indefinitely.”

“Just until she gets settled.”

“Did she say that?”

“She said she’s hoping to stay with me for a couple of days to look around.  She’s never been to California.”

The cab pulled into the circular drive of the mansion and stopped at the front door.  Lily and the cabbie had a few words about the fare before the driver got out, walked around and opened the rear passenger door.  He picked up a scuffed, cardboard suitcase from the floor of the back seat and then helped Lily out.

While Lily stood there looking up at the brick and columned two story house, the driver walked up the three front steps and set the suitcase on the Carrara marble entry.  The suitcase looked ridiculously out of place.


That’s it. Let me know what you think by commenting below. Oh and if you’re interested in the author, Jean Blasiar, she’s a playwright and author of the Emmy Budd mysteries. Check out her website:


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