Behind the story: The Tree and the Chainsaw

In my book Forever Striking a Crucified Pose, The Tree and the Chainsaw is my favorite. The story had developed overtime and from multiple things that had happened over the years that I had experienced.

For example I was on a bus, I was young, and was going through Tennnesee traveling north. We had just left the city of Florence, Alabama where I think Helen Keller was born. As I looked out the window, it seemed as if every few miles or so I’d see a cross on the side of the road with flowers. I had seen these markers before, a place where someone had crashed their car into, but to see so many on one road, really bothered me.

Then there was this time, I was at my home and it was late, like after midnight and I was up alone in this four bedroom place, antique home, with a claw-foot bathtub even, and I was watching a horror movie. I heard a loud screech, and metal colliding and it sounded as if something had ran into my house, and all the electricity went off and I was paralyzed with fear. I couldn’t even use my phone because it was a hand-held that wouldn’t work if there was no electricity. I made my way to the front door, and opened it and at my door was a young female, teens, and covered in blood. And across the street was a silver Mustang, flipped on its top, electric pole snapped in two smashed up against the house across the street. Everyone in the car survived.

An even more personal story, a terrible tragedy occurred years later when a friend from high school died instantly after wrecking his vehicle on a desolate road and into a tree.

But with all that said, I think the main inspiration was my mom and dad. They’ve been married for 46 years, and have lived in the same home for nearly 35 years, and they are at times an odd couple, my dad very much a busy body, my mom retired, will watch him and though they love each other very much, they have their own personalities which at times is comical to me at least.

Then I imagined how would they deal with something like this, an accident occurring in their own front yard, the frightening experience of the crash, the aftermath of picking up the pieces, and how they’d both cope with it in private, and even more when they confront each other with their feelings about the tragedy.

It really is more than just the accident, it’s the grieving process, it’s more of a story of Jim and Rose and how they feel very protective of each other and at the same time feel very passionate about why they feel the way they feel, and how they sometimes internalize their feelings. And I think sometimes, the small arguments and debates can be healthy in a relationship, and what an awesome thing it can be to have someone challenge you and cause you to think, not just to agitate you, but because they do love you, and this story is that too me. Read the story here:

I’d love to hear back from others who have read the story and hear what you think. You can find the story here on my site, or you can read it for free on Kindle Unlimited, or purchase it for $0.99 on Amazon Kindle and read all my poems and short stories in the book Forever Striking a Crucified Pose.

Candy versus Beets

The Office. I love this show. It seems every few months or so when between series like after True Detective season 3 finished, and now waiting on Game of Thrones, I’ll go back to my old friend “The Office” and start watching it again. I can go to sleep to it. Not that it’s boring or not interesting, it’s just like an old friend, and if I start a new series (Which there are several I do want to see) I end up staying up all night watching the entire season. And I have work to do.

But last night I was lying in bed watching season 2 of The Office episode 3 Office Olympics. It’s the one where Michael buys his condo and takes Dwight along with him and Dwight begins making Michael feel bad about the deal he’s getting on the place.

There is a scene after Michael has convinced himself to sign the lease and they are driving and Dwight begins talking about beets and Michael is like no one likes beets, why don’t you grow something people want, like candy.

Ah, and this got me to thinking about writing and self-publishing, and more importantly marketing is what do people, readers if you will, want? Candy or beets? Or maybe the better question is as a writer, in an oversaturated market how do you distinguish your beets from others?

So in many respects you can imagine we’re all beet farmers and social media is our farmer’s market. Of course we all write in different genres and so forth, but in many respects it’s about, well Dwight says in a later episode something to the effect it’s about putting the best beets up front. You know the same thing happens at grocery stores, putting the freshest in front making them more marketable to the consumer.

It’s got me to thinking, I want to help. I know there are services out there that will help edit, and etc, but if you’re like me, sometimes you just don’t’ have the money and you self-edit, and edit some more, and maybe even you do have a good friend or family member who will help, and sometimes you may even worry that they are being too lenient because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. And then even worse, many of us writers are not the most sociable people in the world. So that makes it even more awkward to approach people. You put all that together and we end up winging it and hopefully maybe someone will purchase your story and then another, and soon your book is selling like candy.

This week I’ll be doing some stats and figuring, but I want to help other writers like me, by using my experience as an editor and writer to find a cost effective way that won’t break someone but give them an experienced set of eyes and unbiased critique of your work. If you’d be interested please send me an email at or message me on Twitter.

28 Years: Remembering my Friend Chris

John Lennon once wrote: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”… It is a profound statement, but then again, because we are in fact always busy making other plans, we’re most likely too busy to remember that quote until we have the time to sit back and relax and reflect. Perhaps then we remember all that has happened while we were busy making those other plans: kids growing up, our old friends from high school, the things that we used to be so damned angry about with our parents, people we miss and have gone separate ways, or have passed on from this world and gone into that great beyond.

Twenty-eight years ago would have been 1991. I don’t often times sit back and reflect on those years, because inevitably to quote another phrase: “that was then, and this is now.” Other pressing issues are always forthcoming in the future leaving little time to think, “Do you remember that one time?” I mean it happens. Sitting around with my wife, my closest friend, we at times we’ll have nostalgic conversations about things we used to do. Most of the tales are greatly exaggerated and deal with ignorant stunts we used to pull. And then there are times when meeting someone for the first time and in the initial oft times awkward stage of getting to know someone we share personal stories of our past: good times, dark painful times, and seriously, for the most part each person’s story is similar in context—falling in love, breaking up, childish pranks, loving family, unloving family, etc…

We share them anyway, for even though they may be mundane, and even perhaps embellished and told a thousand other times to other new found friends, they are the foundations that essentially formed our personalities and our world views and we tell the stories to say, yeah, I’ve come a long way or to say sometimes depressingly, my life has always sucked and continues to suck, but I’ll manage because I always do.

Even so, life keeps on moving along, and current events from yesterday are soon replaced by events today, and the things that moved us yesterday, and made us protest, caused us to be outraged, or in some cases enlightened us, made us smile, or made us sad get shelved and forgotten after the next news cycle comes and goes, or the one we had been on a date with yesterday and thought we had made a connection for some reason isn’t answering your calls today, but we pick up the pieces and move forward keeping pace with the ever-changing cycle of life. Before we know it, another year has passed.

We sit around at our New Years Eve parties, talking about the events from the last 365 days, and we can actually laugh about the bad things, and toast the good things, and bow our heads and mourn the passing of someone we loved, and all wax poetic about how this next year, no matter what, it’s going to be better…and some of us follow through on those promises I’m sure, but many of us, just wake up the next day, and the next 365 days afterward going through the motions as we have been doing since we were babies, and while we’re making our plans, busy preparing and micromanaging and updating our profiles and eating our next meal, and stepping in and out and back in again of so many places and problems and issues, that we wake up from all the chaos and routine and before we have a chance to reflect on anything another year has passed and so it goes.

I bring up 28 years purposely. A specific date, in fact, comes to mind. April 2, 1991. I’m certain if I Google the date I’ll get several search results for big events that happened on that particular day. And just the mere idea of Google makes me think of a time when back in 1991 I hadn’t heard of Google, nor was the internet some worldwide phenomenon as it is today. Certainly, I could say, now that I’m 45 years old that the ’90s were such a simple time as the cliché goes, but I was seventeen, and I don’t recall that period of my life to be blissfully romantic or whimsically frolicking through green pastures with wild daffodils in full bloom. Not that it was all bad. There were good times, there were good friends, and from what I can remember, we had not a damned clue or did we care about where we’d be years later. But instead, we trudged through everything we did with reckless abandonment most likely believing that our youth and immaturity could give us enough excuse to get away with our lack of common sense, and our young at heart, carefree, tomorrow will always be there, so let’s just go ahead and do it because we’re going to live forever anyways attitude had lulled us into believing we were immortal. All that other stuff, the things adults complained about, they’d be there when we got there, but in the meantime, we were too busy trying to define ourselves, and forge an identity, and impress each other with acts of bravado, that at my age now if I pulled some of those same stunts as I did back then, I’d probably be arrested and told to act my age. But then, it was cool to be stupid, and careless, and tell crude jokes, and not be afraid of polite society looking at us suspiciously, because they were old snobs. Now I suppose I’m an old snob. It’s a vicious circle.

I’m not writing this to dig up my past and attempt in vain to analyze it, and cast blame on old so and so, or rationalize any of my ignorant behavior with the simple excuse: well I was a kid, I didn’t know any better. Because even though that may be true, it really doesn’t matter much in hindsight. And to reexamine old disputes with my parents or friends or with my school or whoever or whatever the issue might indeed soothe my soul, I’ve moved on, they’ve moved on, and for better or worse, life has moved on.

We’ve all, no matter who you are, have problems, or hated something, or have skeletons lurking in that proverbial closet. Without a doubt, we’re all affected in some way or another by our past, it’s only human. I’ve met some people over the years so emotionally damaged because of their past, that they allow those events to dictate how they act and feel, and to live in fear and be angry. Of course, sometimes I just want to tell them to get over it, but it’s their life, I have no right to tell them how they should feel years after the fact. I just choose not to hang on to the bad memories and allow them to haunt me, and even if they do subconsciously affect me, there is little I can do about it. Instead, I’ve always tried to see things from the point of view of well I survived it, it was painful, but I made it.

In 1991 I was seventeen going on 30. I hate that cliché but there it is, and it’s the truth. I like many seventeen-year-olds was in such a hurry to be grown and on my own that I did all I could in my power to provoke circumstances to cause me to push all conventional rules aside, and argued with my parents about everything, acting stupid, you know playing the stereotypical role of the brooding loner, refusing to conform and well, was pretty much a dipshit And as a consequence, I got exactly what I had been begging for, a big dose of the harsh reality that being a teenager with all my angst, all the trials and tribulations I thought at that time to have been so insufferable were for the most part self-inflicted.

Because I’d had been such an antagonistic angry teenager, the people in my life who once adored me as a child, but not so much since I had grown out of that phase, felt tough love was the best way to say, you wanted this, you got it, now deal with it, and yes I’m speaking of my parents and thankfully they did push me to make choices instead I might still be laid up in their house playing Super Mario. I had to “man up” and do something constructive. And like all those forced into adulthood, looked for love in all the wrong places, went to college, met people from all walks of life, some are still my friends, while others have never been heard from again, almost as if they never existed, to begin with. And I’ve been in love, and I’ve been heartbroken, and I have laughed and cried, and I’ve witnessed cultural changes, and technological advancements, and watched the first African American man to become President of the United States, and I’ve watched my brother get married, have three kids, divorce and marry again, and seen my parents growing older, and cherishing life, and their grandchildren, and I’m now happily married to my best friend, worked a job for several years in the non-profit sector helping thousands of people. I own my house, my cars, have traveled, hung out with rock stars and celebrities, and overall, for all the ups and downs and ins and outs and sufferings and frustrations, life is ok. I’m still alive. I’m still here to complain about it. And that’s good when compared to the alternative.

However, I must digress, this story, although it is about me, and my life, it’s more than that. It’s about my friend Chris Ferguson. Most of us that knew him called him Fergie. It’s a shame now, twenty-eight years after the fact, that for all the time I spent hanging out with him, I cannot for the life of me remember his voice. I remember his face only because of a picture from a newspaper article and a couple my brother still has in two of his Junior High yearbooks. The face I see now is familiar, and I do my best to remember the voice that went with it, and even do my damndest to go back to 1991 and commit to memory the things we used to do and talk about.

Even so, no matter hard I try only a few things come to mind. It would seem I suppose, that maybe I didn’t know him very well. But that’s not true. I admit I wasn’t his best friend. Chris had many friends. His house was the hang out for most of us stragglers who like me skipped classes on most days. A lot of times, it was just me and Chris. I’d be there first thing in the morning and knock on his door. He’d just be waking up, or I had awakened him by knocking. He’d let me in and sometimes go back to bed and I’d crash over on the couch, and on other days, he’d be up and we’d eat some breakfast and then head out and walk around town. We didn’t have a car, so we hoofed it, and we never had an intended destination. If there were one, it was most likely up to a convenience store for cigarettes and snacks or something.

A lot of times, we’d hang out at his house and listen to music. He turned me on to Led Zeppelin. I distinctively remember hearing the song “The Ocean” and that beat, and I wanted to play like John Bonham ever since. Sometimes we’d hang out in the living room and watch movies. It was there the first time I watched “Legend”. Chris loved that movie. It’s pretty good. Even now, when I see it on, I watch it and I think of Chris.

We wore black shirts, and trench coats and our hair was long, and we smoked and listened to heavy metal, and headbanged, and skipped school, and didn’t care much for anything besides hanging out. And that’s what we did. As I said I wasn’t Chris’s best friend. He had lots of friends. He knew everyone it seemed and everyone liked him. He was for lack of a better word, cool. I can’t explain it, and twenty-eight years later, I’ve yet to meet anyone like him. He was always friendly to everyone and was personable. And I think this is relevant because I didn’t perceive myself as cool. I was very much a confused loner and kind of lost it seemed, even now to this present day I seem to be a little out of place socially. Chris, however, he treated me like I was someone, and never shied away, or pushed me away and always no matter whom he was around, whatever “cool” crowd he was part of he brought me along and made me feel comfortable.

I know the stereotype we were given back then that we were the “Youth Gone Wild” to quote a Skid Row song. But, in all honesty, we weren’t out wreaking havoc on The Bluff. I can’t say for a fact that Chris didn’t do drugs or drink, and if he did, he never did so around me. All I can say is never once did I see him angry with anyone, or up to nefarious activities. Out of all the people I knew back then, including myself, Chris always seemed to have a plan or was going to be ok, because he just had that personality that no matter the circumstance he would fit in anywhere and people were going to gravitate towards him.

In the months prior to April, hanging out with Chris became routine. He seemed to enjoy my company. Those were, looking back, some of the happiest days of my teenage years because my home life wasn’t exactly cozy whatsoever. Chris’s home was my home away from home and he was more like a brother to me than just a good friend. The odd part, is although I was a year older, he carried himself like the older of the two, and I looked up to him and probably looked stupid at times following him around, but that was his personality, his charisma, and I think all of us that knew him felt the same way.

March 29th was a Friday. I don’t remember anything else much about that day. I’m sure I lay on the couch, ate, and watched television. At some point around nine in the evening, Chris came by the house. He was happy, smiling, most likely bored and riding around and looking to hang out. I wanted to hang out like old times or let him come in and hang, but I was grounded. So I apologized and told him my situation. Chris was cool with it and understood. I reached out and shook his hand, and told him I’ll see you later, and he said the same. He turned around and left, and that was the last time I would see Chris alive.

The next morning, everyone I knew that was friends with Chris had called or came by and informed me that Chris was in the hospital and in intensive care. The details as to what happened that night were unclear, and are still to this day. But what I did know is that Chris, while out riding around with another friend around 1 a.m. Saturday morning he had been in an altercation with another friend over a girl the two had been or were dating. At some point during the altercation, Chris was stabbed in the upper left part of his chest. Immediately after he was stabbed, was driven to Jefferson Regional Medical Center a few miles away and admitted.

I know that I, and most likely most of my friends believed the wound wasn’t too serious. He was said to be in critical but stable condition by Monday. However, on Tuesday, Chris’s condition worsened and at 4:30 that afternoon, he passed away.

I was in shock. All of us that knew him were. Immediately I began thinking of the last time I saw him. I wondered if I had let him come in and hang out that Friday if he’d still be alive, but I knew that it wasn’t my fault. Even as everything was happening so suddenly with Chris passing away, trying to remember him alive was fleeting, and the idea that I’d never see him again under any circumstance, say for example twenty-eight years later just running into each other on Facebook, makes me still very sad and upset.

His funeral was on a Thursday. I went to the funeral home early after going by my brother’s school and picking him up, and went in and viewed his body. He looked at peace. His eyes closed. He was so damned young and had been so damned full of life, and confidence and bravado, and here he was, my friend, my brother, gone. I couldn’t, I can’t still grasp that he’s gone. It made no damned sense to me, and it still doesn’t.

Chris was in his casket wearing a long sleeve, button up pink polo shirt. I can’t remember if he was wearing a tie. But I remember that shirt to this day because in the entire time I knew him, he was always in black. I’m sure his mother picked it out and it did look nice.

The cathedral was filled with friends, acquaintances, and family members to full capacity. After the service, the cars following the hearse were lined up for blocks upon blocks. The local police were on hand to stop oncoming traffic so we could proceed to the cemetery at Graceland.

I don’t remember the service at the graveyard. I was still in shock and everything was sort of a blur. And just as sudden as learning of Chris being injured to him being buried four days later, it was over. We said our final goodbyes and one by one we got back in our vehicles and left Chris to rest in peace.

In the weeks and months that followed, several of his friends would return to this grave and visit him. Many of us would leave cigarettes, which may seem kind of strange, but we missed him and honestly, I don’t think any of us really understood how to act or what to say. For many of us, this was the first time in our lives we had lost someone so close to us. I know it was for me.

Eventually, and may I say unfortunately life must go on. I had my own issues at that time. My visits to the cemetery became less frequent and although I often times thought of Chris, my memory of him and the times we spent to gather was gradually fading with time.

I would eventually move away from the Bluff, but it was still home and when I came back, and if I thought about it I would go out to Graceland and see my friend. No one left cigarettes anymore. It’s possible, like myself, many of us may have not forgotten our friend, but time and circumstance over the years had separated us all in different directions, and we were just always, and as we always have been, too busy making other plans to stop and reflect on what was or what might have been.

Nevertheless, one of my last weekends there, I had been asked to visit an old friend of mine who had been begging me to come down. So I drove into town early Sunday morning and could smell the odiferous sulfur being produced by the paper mill as I made my way closer to the city limits. I drove down Dollarway road, and in the past twenty-eight years, not much has changed. The old drive-thru theater is gone and a school is in its place. There is Jefferson Parkway now that has grown and is an expanding area of local industry. A few minutes from Dollarway Road is the Martin Luther King Memorial Park. It used to be called Oakland Park and as a kid, I’d play there with my brother and other friends. I drove past it and continued heading east towards University Avenue. It’s in between the park and University Avenue and just a few feet north of I65, the section of interstate that runs through the north side of Pine Bluff where Oakland Cemetery is, and where my friend has been resting since April of 1991.

I turned onto the narrow road and followed it to the back section of the cemetery and parked my car in about the same area I had parked the day of the funeral. There are more graves now in the area Chris is buried. But I knew the general direction.

I knelt down and touched Chris’s tombstone and ran my hand across his name. I thought about him, trying to remember his face, his voice, but time had stolen all that from my memory. I did remember the pink shirt he was wearing. I wondered if somewhere in heaven he had a laugh about that.

I miss my friend. I hate that he is gone. Who is to say that if he were alive today that he and I would still be close? But I don’t like thinking of all the “what ifs”. It’s too sad to even contemplate. The man who stabbed Chris is still around I suppose. I don’t know where he is, but I imagine, at least I hope, he wishes he could take back all that happened that night Chris lost his life. But this is the point, it was immature, they were both at fault to some degree, but we have to be able to take a step back from situations when we’re angry and we begin to lose control over our emotions because life is too precious.

Chris would be 44 now. One year younger than me and one year older than my brother. I kept thinking of that year, 1991, as I read it on his granite stone. 1991. Twenty-eight years. Chris was only seventeen when he passed away. He has now been gone longer than he was alive. It breaks my heart to know that for twenty-eight year’s my friend has been gone. It breaks my heart to think of all the things he has missed, and it makes me sad to think of all the times I’ve complained and been upset about my problems in life over these past years, and the things I haven’t done and could do because for whatever reason God hasn’t seen fit to bring me home.

Then I think of all the tragic violent acts in this world. And why we have to keep on fighting and killing one another and it makes me angry. Chris’s death was in all reality over something so stupid, and something that if cooler heads had prevailed, they would have probably laughed about it later. And yet every day it seems people are dying and killing each other over issues that in hindsight could have been and should have been preventable, if only we’d just stop and follow the biblical verse to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to wrath.” And to do unto others, and to love one another. But I fear that this will never happen. All I can do is live up to those words in my own life.

All I know is that I miss my friend. All I know is that he’s been gone for twenty-eight years now and it breaks my heart. All I know is I hope and pray he is truly at peace and in heaven and he knows that his friends may have moved away and gone in different directions in life, but we think about you, and we hate that you are gone, and we hope to see you again soon.

Chris’s Grave
Copyright © 2019, Chad M. Ard, All Rights Reserved.

In the Still of the Night

It has been so cold lately here in NW Arkansas. When I woke up and looked out the window it had snowed even. Cold and rain that’s been the last month.

As I lay in bed I toss and turn, and snuggle under the blankets staying warm. My thoughts keep wandering about all the things I need to do, or maybe more of what I want to do. And sometimes it just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

This I do know, I am so happy as to how the book “The Month of April” turned out. I re-read it again this morning. I tend to do that. I’ll write something and then I’ll go over it a million times after like a lunatic it seems even to make sure everything is perfect.

Having been published in the past, this time I decided to self-publish. I’m still unsure about this idea. I mean yeah, it’s pretty easy to do. And maybe that is the problem, the simplicity of it. There are sites online offering to help for a nominal fee on marketing, but even so, maybe the price is worth it but almost too good to be true. Especially when there are so many books online and perhaps it’s just me. It could be, I mean I’m a realist, maybe it isn’t good enough, no matter how I feel about my stories.

It’s not enough to make me just want to stop and give up. Writing is what I do. It’s never been about accolades, though I can’t lie and say those other perks wouldn’t be nice. I write because I feel as if I have too. Yet at the same time would love to share them to the world, but if I’m unable to reach people through self-publishing, and self-marketing I may need to start back from scratch and focus my attention on the traditional approach.

This is something I will be contemplating over the next few days. When I self-published my collection of short stories and poems, it was a spur of the moment choice. I made many mistakes in doing so, such as publishing and then promoting and then noticed after publishing there had been formatting errors causing me to rework the book. Then I immediately began “The Month of April” and within less than a month had finished it. This time around I scheduled it to be released in April, thereby giving me time to promote and see if I can gain any traction and if not, I may just pull it and began sending query letters. I may pull both stories and start from scratch.

So that’s what I will be doing this week. I’ll analyze some data and then make a decision. I may even write a script version for “The Month of April” and go at it in two directions, floating the novella and the script to multiple agencies, and then perhaps split Forever Striking a Crucified Pose back into singular stories and approach other markets looking for short stories and poetry.

It’s been on my mind, in the still of the night lying in bed, attempting to stay warm and considering starting from scratch. Besides the stories published in Forever Striking a Crucified Pose had been on my computer for fifteen years. I just felt this sudden urge to self-publish, because I wanted to focus on newer materials. Still, I love those stories. And I would be as the writer, letting myself down, and the work I put into writing them if I just give up on them when the resources are out there, and it’s like I’m not thick skinned and have been given rejection letters in the past, but I’ve been successful in a few also.

I’ll talk about it later with my wife and then I’ll make the decision by the end of the week to move in another direction or hold steady, but as I sit here writing this, I feel it’s more important to perhaps, put the work in, begin drafting query letters and just believe…Besides Self-Publishing will be there if I am unable to make momentum going the traditional route.

There ain’t no rest for the writer

Seriously, there isn’t. Especially when you are an eccentric, bi-polar-ish, cynical person like me, and stories are everywhere you look just waiting to be written. So you write, and then what, send 100million query letters, say the hell with that I’ll just self-publish, or maybe I can find an agent or then again teach my cat how to tweet only to find out that for two whole days it’s been trying to eat the bird.

I published my short stories and poems, turned right around and wrote The Month of April which is out April 1st, I know clever marketing right??

And yesterday after I finished reading The Month of April like after the 100th time I became depressed because now wtf?

Fortunately, I woke up this morning with a better attitude and began writing two new stories, oh and did some more tweets, and posts, and Instagrams, and wrote some more. Cat still won’t tweet. Need a new agent. Anyone interested.

Still, I’m having fun. I love writing. It’s just always been that way.

Growing up I read books above my grade level and up until about five years ago never really read a book for fun, but more as if I were savoring it, learning from it. If you go through my books, and I have thousands, you will find notes scribbled inside, and highlighted sections, and my handwriting sucks. I remember on more than one occasion giving one of my (wait I wrote giving I meant loaning) books to my kids and they’d come back and go what did you write there and we’d have to use Google Translate and it didn’t work.

So I’ve always been a speed reader and reading up to five to seven books at a time no less. I’d read a paragraph in one, pick up the next book, read another paragraph, and so on and so on, and since I have this almost impeccable memory, at least with words, I never truly started enjoying reading as so many others do until I was in my forties.

So there is no rest for the self-publishing, acting as his own agent, and 100 more stories just queued up and ready to go, writer, and as I write this line, I look over at my cat who doesn’t give a damn.

The Way You Look Tonight

This song has been trapped in my head. It’s a Sinatra song. One I have fallen in love with over the years, and one that reminds me of my wife. When writing the story “The Month of April” the song kept playing in my mind and I would catch myself actually singing out loud as I was writing.

When I’m writing I do see the story visually, and I become so engaged with the characters and it’s quite sad when you come to the end of the story. I love short stories for that reason. In many cases when you come to an end to a short story there isn’t closure or a “The End”. It’s like a snapshot, or people watching or sitting in a cafe and overhearing a conversation. And just because there isn’t a finality, that’s ok too.

I mean how often in our lives does someone come into our lives, I mean even as far back as our first days in school, or even later in life we meet someone, we have a romantic tryst, and it ends and you think this is it for me I’m done, it’s over. Hopefully, though your heart will heal and you can move on.

It happens every day, from relationships ending, to new ones beginning, and children growing up and leaving home, and you find yourself proud and yet saddened at the same time and wonder now what?

Kind of like a song you haven’t heard in years, and then you hear it on the radio and it takes you back to a certain place and time and memories come rushing back to you of where you were, and maybe even how young and carefree and stupid you might have been.

That is one of the things I’ve enjoyed about writing this particular story is that it invokes that type of imagery to me personally. Especially on the level of how well do we really know someone and how well do they get to know us. We do such a great job creating an image of ourselves, don’t we?

Like Bob Dylan. I mean here’s a man who changed everything from his name to his image and over the years began recrafting the image, and he becomes this mysterious legend. His voice is one that for some they find too caustic and are immediately done. But he doesn’t seem to give a shit. He’s still out there to this day performing on his “Never-Ending Tour”.

Maybe that’s the point, is sometimes you have to stop giving a shit. You have to get up the courage and go into Sun Studios and bust the doors wide open if you have too.

One of the main antagonists in the story “The Month of April” is regret. Those moments where we don’t take the chance, or even if we do, fate intervenes and takes it from us bam and it’s over. Problem is sometimes is we don’t see it coming, or we are too ignorant of it, or too caught up giving a shit about things that shouldn’t really concern us and only in looking back to we realize what might have been.

It’s happened to me often, Looking back, and going dammit, but I’m more blessed that I am still here and have matured enough to recognize those things and will hopefully have my eyes open and my blinders off and won’t make those mistakes again.

Must keep going

I finished my book The Month of April in less than a month. It helped that I had came up with the project a few years ago and had written a short rough draft. In the process the story did change some from my original concept, for the better.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, from the moment you settle in and begin writing the story began leading in directions I hadn’t seen coming, but that’s the exciting part of writing.

But I must keep moving. Even if this story is complete I have to now market it. Which has its own challenges and time consuming for sure. So it is a matter of keeping yourself motivated and on schedule because even if I have no boss, telling me to do so. So I’m not sleeping well.

But each day I wake up I’m right back at it. Whether it’s writing my blog, promoting, or preparing what project I will work on next.

So, that’s where I am, no victory dance, no champagne, just back at it, because I must keep moving.

I have a few projects in mind. I also have a novel that is partially finished with 250 pages.

But I really want to work on something new because the novel I’ve sort of bored with it. I still like the story but have since fallen out of love with it.

So the work never ends. I may even revamp my first book Forever Striking a Crucified Pose because I made a lot of rookie mistakesin the rush to publish it.

Then I might even work on the screenplay for my newest book.

But I will attempt to sleep tonight and tomorrow, I’ll be right back at it.

Much love and respect…Chad

The Story behind: “The Month of April” a little bit of New Orleans, Plato, Fate, Romance, and my personal fight to see Same-Sex Marriage legalized.

New Orleans, the Big Easy…Bourbon Street, hedonistic, fusty, beautiful.

I chose this city as the setting (for most of it anyway) because it’s a place I’m familiar with, a city I fell in love with the first time I visited in 1994 and would go back to many times over the last 25 years. And it’s not the voodoo, the hoodoo, or stories of vampires even. Then again, I’ve never ventured too far from Bourbon or the French Quarter. And why would I, because that is what I love about this city–the hedonism, and the “every hour is a happy hour”, and “the I can leave right now, drive the ten hours and find it open as if it were waiting on me for the party to begin==and I have. I’ve shown up on on a random weekday, two in the morning, and on a few occasions believed I had one too many shots of whiskey, and as soon as I walked off Bourbon, sobered up and went back for more.

So of course, I’d want to take my character’s there and show them around. Perhaps have a few shots of Jager and maybe even dance with them in the middle of the street, in the rain, as a jazz band plays “My Shining Hour”. My wife would smile even, knowing, it’s nothing more than a dance and I’ll be going home with her when the dance is over.

In Plato’s “The Symposium” he writes: “Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature.”

And when it happens, if it happens, where the ever-ticking of the clock stops if only briefly, and two become one dancing blissfully under the starry skies of heaven, the wounds of human nature may heal, but often times fate, who answers to no one, will leave one and take the other leaving them without the chance of even saying goodnight, never knowing why the dance ended so soon leaving them standing alone and with a broken heart.

Only her story will not end when she passes from this world and into the other and is no longer forbidden to dance on, and into the end of moonlight. It will be her story she leaves behind, however, “The Month of April” that will resolve many of her unanswered questions and bring closure to a mystery time would have forgotten.

This book is also very special to me because for many years I lobbied politicians and worked to make same-sex marriage a reality. I wrote several papers on the subject and engaged in debates with politicians who did not agree, and their rationale was at times baffling to me.

It was my argument that the requirements of marriage are outlined and enforced by the state, not by the church. Once the state began charging money for marriage licenses, the church gave up the right to impose on who can and cannot be married.

We should be happy that two people are in love instead of posing restrictions because some oppose their lifestyle. We don’t question why a couple of the opposite sex want to marry, we trust their judgment and when we tell two people of the same sex they cannot marry in reality we are not only questioning their judgment but imposing our own.

It is now a reality. And I am so thankful for that. This story is a love story, it is not a political statement, it is as Plato said: “Love is born into every human being.” And I hope you find the characters in this story as beautiful and as human, and as loving as I do. It is not erotica, or overtly sexual, and if anything playful, and romantic. And I for one believe that romance and love and passion, all of that is important in a relationship.

The book will be released on April 1, 2019, on Amazon Kindle and in paperback as early as today. You can pre-order your copy today by going to the menu on this site, and click the link provided.

As always, much love and respect to all of you..,Chad

I sit and I wait

I’m in a Walmart parking lot. I sit and I wait.

I have a lot on my mind. My book that I recently self-published. The book I’m currently writing and should be completed by the first week of March. Then there are the projects still to be written, and trying to determine which one gets to go first, all of them saying pick me.

But today I’m not behind the desk editing. I have meetings to attend, emails to reply to about upcoming projects, community projects, because outside of writing, I have committed myself to serving, volunteering, helping in any way to bring hope help, and my heart to those who are hurting, the disenfranchised because I do believe in the philosophy that 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

The story I’m writing will be there when I get home.

When it all comes together…

The origins of my new project came from a painting–a girl with auburn hair walking away from the painter on a bustling city street. I had that painting over my desk and I would think of who she was, not personally, I didn’t want to track her down, contact the artist and ask for a name. But as a writer, I was intrigued by her. So I had found my muse and by starting where she was last seen, in this painting, she began telling me her story.

The words just seemed to be there, the dialogue, and the narrative, leading me, the story guiding me rather than me guiding the story until I had written 70 pages, over 32000 words.

I stopped there. It was at this point that I began writing the story, instead of allowing the story to speak to me, and I had to stop because it just didn’t feel right. My ideas would have worked, I could have made them because I am in some respects the omnipotent creator, but that isn’t free will, that’s not autonomy. So I stopped writing and began editing. And somewhere while in the process of editing, it happened and all the pieces began coming together.

This is important to understand because I know many writers’ hit walls, and they become frustrated and aggravated, and either decide to give up, or maybe attempt to break down the walls, and push the story into gear, grinding them if need be to make it move forward, and maybe this works for some, but for me personally, it’s best to wait. And be patient and be thoughtful, respectful even. Let the characters speak and have free will. It is their story–or in this case hers.