Tag Archives: The Night Budda Got Deep in It

I have nothing to say, but that won’t stop me from saying it.

2 Nov

The great Greek-Persian philosopher Demothechakakhan (known as Chaka to his buds) once said that a person could write on a cartload of papyrus and still not say shite. (Bear with me, I’ve been watching Scottish TV lately.) He didn’t say those exact words, but the sentiment is accurate. Chaka’s idea is valid, and he would have made a decent blogger.

This is not Demothechakakhan, but it could be.

The prevailing wisdom regarding novelists today, particularly indie/self-published writers, is that they must  have a blog. And they must blog at least once a week. The idea, if I understand it correctly, is to allow readers and potential readers to get to  know the writer in a way that was not feasible pre-social media. (Even if there were such an avenue back in the day, it’s hard to imagine someone like Norman Mailer blogging weekly. But whatever.)

Writers always have something to say.That’s why we write. The problem, in my case anyway, is most of my energy goes to saying it in my books. Therefore, when it comes that time of the week when I feel I need to post something, I don’t always have anything in mind.

Subsequently, to meet this self-assigned obligation, I’m in danger of writing about some of the more mundane aspects of my life. For example,  my decision to wear blue pants today instead of gray.  I was a little lazy in choosing coordinating colors, so I wondered if I could get away with mixing blue with brown. That reminded me of Mikhail Gorbachev, former head honcho of the Soviet Union, when he paid a visit to America in the early nineties. He wore a navy suit with shoes the color of a chestnut horse. I wondered if that was an acceptable shoe color with a navy suit in Russia. I would have gone with oxblood shoes, but what did I know? The more I thought about it, however, the more I decided the navy/chestnut combo worked. Still, I would never write about that in a blog. I have standards.

I could also write about how it may be time to replace my can of shaving cream, and how it’s hard to know when the can  is about empty. Even when it feels light, there could be a good two weeks worth of shaving left. On the other hand, you can tell when your stick of deodorant is nearly used up. Maybe someone could create a way to have shaving cream work like a stick of deodorant so you would know exactly when you’re running out. I keep worrying I’ll be surprised one morning soon, running out of shaving gel before I can complete the task. Then I remember that I go without shaving once or twice a week anyway,  much to the chagrin of my wife, so why worry about it?

The point is, it would be silly to write about that stuff to meet a fake obligation to fill this space with five hundred words each week.  I promise I will never do that.

P.S. If you’re interested in books that don’t simply fill space, I can help you here, here and here.

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In defense of ignorance

26 Oct

I’m taking my younger daughter to my alma mater for homecoming this weekend.

I have an aerial view of the motel where we’ll stay. I know if I drive the speed limit, we’ll arrive there six hours and five minutes from the time we leave home. I know the structure is less than five years old. I’ve read guest reviews that say it’s a decent play to stay.

I also know that it’s wiser to buy our football tickets at the stadium, from a scalper, than on StubHub. I know this because the opponent is week, and that their fans don’t travel well.

I’ve packed warm clothes because I know the game time temperature will be a sunny forty degrees.

I Google, therefore I am.

I sometimes miss those days when I didn’t know much. When I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I remember the second time I came to campus, for freshman orientation. In particular, I recall a boy who was book-ended by two cute girls as they ambled from one campus building to the next. The trio had the confidence of upperclassmen. They kept slightly separated from the rest of us during our campus tour, barely paying attention to our orientation leader. I overheard them say they had gone to the same large high school in St. Louis, and they seemed so comfortable in their new home for the next four years.

I was Mr. Recent North Podunk High School graduate. I wasn’t sure I could find my way back to my car, let alone the appropriate classroom buildings again. The St. Louis Three must have read the pamphlet  How to Act Like You Own the Place Your First Day on Campus. My copy got lost in the mail. I was an ignorant kid from the sticks.  Eighteen years old with an IQ to match. That was a blessing. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I occasionally miss that state of mind. If we don’t know something, we can find the answer quickly.

My older daughter is applying to colleges. The process has been relatively sane so far, but I know there are some kids, with parents coptering over them, who have three-inch thick dossiers on all the best colleges in the Northern Hemisphere, as well as appendices on the deodorant and toothpaste preferences of each university president. There can be no surprises, nothing left to chance.

For my freshman orientation, I packed a few clothes in the little vinyl suitcase I’d gotten as a graduation gift and made the 3 ½ hour drive to campus, alone. It became immediately clear that everyone else at orientation had come with their BFFs. Many parents were hovering around, too. It hadn’t occurred to me that I should bring a posse. I didn’t know what I didn’t  know.

Those three kids from St. Louis particularly were bugging me. Because they were pre-journalism students like me, I saw them often as we acclimated to campus those two days. They were relaxed and seemed sure of themselves, as though coming to college was as easy as going out for a Big Mac. I still had clover seed stuck in my hair.

One of my first college friends attended a huge high school in one of the most affluent areas of the state. His senior class was bigger than my home town. He knew how to appropriately use big words that I didn’t yet know existed. He was trying to get into Journalism School, too. A semester and a half later, he flunked out. I, unencumbered by informed self-doubt, moved ahead.

I still think occasionally about those three confident kids from orientation. It was a big campus, making it easy to go four years without bumping into them. However, I saw the boy a few months into our freshman year. He looked like a deer caught in headlights. I never saw him again. I occasionally saw one of the girls he had been with. She asked me out on a date our senior year.

Twenty-Five Things I Don’t Want to Write

4 Oct

The following needs no introduction, but I’ve written up a short list of things I try to avoid when writing anything other than a grocery list.

  1. I don’t want to write that something needs no introduction and then introduce it.
  2. I’d like to be an emcee who says “this next guest needs no introduction,” and then walk off the stage.
  3. The dictionary defines nausea as “extreme disgust; loathing; repugnance.”
  4. It nauseates me when a written piece begins with a definition.
  5. Let’s get this one out of the way early: I don’t want to over-exclaim. I loathe exclamation points! They make me nauseous.
  6. I don’t want to write “nauseous” when the correct word is “nauseated.”
  7. I’d rather not be too anal about the difference between “nauseous” and “nauseated”.
  8. On a related subject, did you know the correct spelling is “adviser” rather than “advisor?”
  9.  Again, I don’t want to be anal about stuff no one else cares about.
  10. And what’s the deal with asking questions in the middle of a list?
  11. If I write a novel about a murder, I won’t call it a brutal murder.
  12. “Brutal murder” strikes me as redundant.
  13. I mean, is there a nice kind of murder?
  14. I suddenly remember that when I finish writing  a novel, I need to do Ctrl F to delete all references to “suddenly.”
  15. That word doesn’t belong anywhere except in a nostalgic piece about an old sitcom starring Brooke Shields.
  16. I do not feel wistful for Brooke Shields sitcoms, especially ones co-starring Kathy Griffin.
  17. I think semi-colons are a bit pretentious; honestly, I’m never sure how to use them correctly.
  18. “Honestly” always reads like I’m lying.
  19. Was everything written before that point dishonest?
  20. There I go, asking questions again.
  21. I don’t want to write anything with a zombie…
  22. Archer…
  23. Or wizard in it. Other writers have that stuff pretty well covered.
  24. I’ll stick with my little stories about regular people.
  25. I could always change my mind on that.

 

P.S. To see how well I’ve done so far with this list, check out my books here, here and here. Please. I have a daughter starting college soon.

Getting Cozy with Budda

2 Oct

A review from Susan at the My Cozie Corner Book Blog…  
“The Night Budda Got In It” is a well written story with tons of excitement involving drug dealers and runaways. Ron pens his characters believable and with humor. I was totally engrossed in the story from the beginning right to the end. A must read for all YA fans.
I give “The Night Budda Got Deep In It” a 5 star rating.

See more here.

Spotlight and Interview at the Avid Reader

26 Sep

An excerpt of an interview on The Avid Reader blog...

The Avid Reader: If you could travel back in time here on earth to any place or time. Where would you go and why?

Ron D  Smith: I would like to go back and hang out with Abe Lincoln in the White House, but there’s a catch. I can go all day without electricity, but I like indoor plumbing. Did they have that in the White House when Lincoln was there? If not, that would be a deal breaker.

And it gets even better. Please check it out.

The Night Budda Got Deep in It

Budda is staying busy

12 Sep

The Night Budda Got Deep in It is featured by these fine book bloggers and reviewers. Let’s hope it doesn’t go to Budda’s head.

Jenn’s Review Blog

All Things Writing

Crystal’s Book Corner

Spotlight on Budda

10 Sep

Budda’s in the spotlight at Books by Centeno.

A little taste of Budda

7 Sep

 An excerpt from The Night Budda Got Deep in It.  At the urging of Blood Mama, a voice only he hears, fifteen-year-old Budda Jessico has run away to Kentucky to find his former foster sister, Addie Starkwether. Budda thinks he’s tracked Addie to a Chinese restaurant where he’s heard “the Starwether girl” works.

Mrs. Wei returned from the restaurant’s kitchen with a small bowl of steamed rice and set it in front of him. Budda now felt even worse. He had seen how much a bowl of rice cost — more than he had — and he didn’t even like rice.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to eat,” he said.

“Don’t worry,” the woman said. “Rice is cheap. Better for you to eat than to throw away.”

She went to the other table to refill their drinks. The man at the table returned to the buffet to pile on another plate with four varieties of breaded or sautéed chicken. He was so skinny Budda wondered where he could put it all. As if to transform his plate into something healthful, the man sprinkled a few sautéed green beans on top of his Mount Leghorn.

Budda didn’t like to be adventurous when it came to eating. His idea of pushing culinary boundaries was trying strawberry instead of grape jelly on his PB&J. Yet, the aromas coming from the buffet table smelled delightful. They reminded him of the Asian dishes his dad made him try once in awhile, dishes Budda refused to taste. Tiny pangs of homesickness began to creep in, but he blamed his burgeoning hunger instead.

Budda considered the bowl of rice in front of him, concluding it would suffice under the circumstances. He was hungry, and the rice provided an antidote, bland though it was. He dowsed the contents with a generous slosh of soy sauce that turned it into rice soup. He was about to take his first spoonful when a girl with tired eyes came to his table. She plopped down in the chair across from him and began fidgeting with a cigarette and lighter she had placed in front of her.

At first, she didn’t speak or even look at Budda. Budda was mesmerized. For the second time that long day, a pretty girl had joined him at his table without asking. He was going to like Kentucky a lot.

She’s trouble, Blood Mama said.

You think everyone’s trouble.

I don’t think it. I know it. She could be the reason our girl’s in a fix.

The girl made it clear from her blasé mien that her eight-hour shift was plenty tiresome enough without having it further dulled by a negative number like Budda.

“You the one looking for me?” she asked, making it clear from her tone that she didn’t care one way or another.

“No,” said Budda, who was loath to say more in case she really was as much trouble as Blood Mama believed.

The girl rolled her eyes the same way Budda often had seen Addie do when his legal parents gave an answer she considered asinine.

“My boss said a kid was here to see me,” the girl said. “After taking an exhaustive survey of all three customers in here, I’ve come to the conclusion you are indeed the only kid in this haute cuisine establishment.”

“I was looking for my sister. Addie Starkwether,” Budda said. “I apologize for not making myself clearer.”

It was a misunderstanding he found quite acceptable. Even though her hardened indifference was a bit off-putting, he would be content to sit at the table with the girl the rest of the night. She was around the same age as Addie, though prettier. Maybe even prettier than Baresha. She smelled wonderfully clean, too. Budda guessed she must have been scrubbing something with a bleach cleaner. Someone should make a perfume with bleach, he thought. It seemed so obvious he wondered why no one had thought of it before. Maybe he would develop a bleach perfume when he got older.

“I’m Kevin, and I came here to find her,” he said. He wanted this girl to know how much trouble he had gone to so far, thinking that might impress her. “I rode a bus from Missouri all the way to Louisville. Went across Illinois and Indiana. And then I hitched a ride to Valkyrie. That part cost me 20 bucks. Then I asked around a couple of places, and I was told Addie might work here.”

“You were told wrong,” the girl said flatly. She rifled an evil look at her boss, who stood at the banquet table, eavesdropping while agitating a pan of stir-fried tomatoes with a serving spoon to keep them looking fresh. “You got a Starkwether, all right, but not the right one. I’m Ellie, Addie’s cousin. Louise over there has been here half her life and she still can’t understand English.”

“It’s not her fault,” Budda said, not wanting to get Louise in trouble with her kitchen help. “I didn’t know Addie had a cousin. I just asked for the Starkwether girl. I didn’t think about there being more than one.”

Budda wasn’t disappointed to learn that he still had some more to do to get to Addie. He knew Ellie would have to know exactly where she was, because Addie had talked about how close the Starkwethers were, and how they kept an eye on each other.

“Maybe you could call and tell her to come here? My phone battery’s dead.”

Ellie fidgeted even more with the items in front of her. Ever since the meddlesome yahoos on the Valkyrie city council forced through the smoking ban, she’d been headachy and ill-tempered at work. The Weis didn’t give her nearly enough smoking breaks. Screw it. She was going to take one anyway.

“I’ve got to suck me some nicotine,” she said as she stood up. “Come on outside, and I’ll explain the situation to you.”

Ellie had the cigarette lit before they made it out the front door. She began to relax immediately. It wasn’t so bad smoking outside where she could enjoy the fresh air in her lungs.

Exhaling a plume of smoke, she asked, “You say you’re looking for Addie, huh?”

Budda nodded. He was momentarily less interested in finding his sister than watching this girl put her lips around the cigarette. Even the smoke couldn’t overpower the smell of cleanliness about her. He would from then on see her in his mind when he smelled bleach. But he had to get that out of his mind, because that wasn’t what brought him to Valkyrie.

“I just need to find Addie.” he said.

“She’s inaccessible at the moment,” Ellie said, blowing a plume of smoke upward.

“Inaccessible in what way?”

“The kind where she can’t be accessed.”

Told you so.

Ellie sized up Budda, but she couldn’t make him fit as Addie’s brother, even a half one she didn’t know about. Addie had moved with her mom a long time back to Missouri where her mom had an aunt or some such. Ellie hadn’t heard anything about Addie until she showed up back in Valkyrie a few months earlier, broke as the day she was born. Addie didn’t talk much about all the years she’d been away, and it didn’t matter enough to Ellie to ask.

“I guess her mom got knocked up with you after she left here,” Ellie said, going with the most obvious possibility.

“Addie’s my foster sister,” Budda said absently. “How long before she can be accessed?” He began to think Blood Mama was right about Addie needing help.

Ellie took a long drag, and then exhaled the smoke in bits like a chugging train as she answered. “I wouldn’t hold my breath. Could be awhile. Sorry you came all this way for nothing.”

This here girl’s a lying liar. She knows where Addie is, all right, Blood Mama said.

Am I supposed to just accuse Ellie of lying? That’s not going to make her too happy, Budda said.

You’re thinking with the wrong part of your anatomy. You’re not here to make this girl happy. You’re here to save your sister.

P.S. Order the book here. Seriously, please do. Winter’s coming.

Budda is ready for his closeup

13 Aug

The Night Budda Got Deep in It, a novel, is now available for your enjoyment. 

Fifteen-year-old Budda Jessico would first have to be noticed to be unpopular. Instead, he leads an unremarkable and anonymous life in suburban St. Louis where he lives with his over-protective father and his bullying older brother.
At the urging of Blood Mama, a voice only Budda hears, he catches a bus to Kentucky to rescue his former foster sister, Addie. As soon as Budda reaches Louisville, he goes to a McDonald’s for the first time in his life where he meets the resolute Baresha, a fellow runaway on her own adventure. Then Budda’s mission to find his sister goes awry. He hitches a ride to Valkyrie, Addie’s hometown, in hopes of saving her from some danger Blood Mama won’t reveal. Instead, Budda encounters her blood kin, led by the ominous Odyn Starkwether and his violent brother Dickie.
A drug shipment controlled by the Starkwethers has disappeared and so has Addie. The brothers have a mess to clean up, and Budda is soon in the middle of it. At first, Budda goes along willingly, if it will help him find Addie. Before long, though, Budda realizes it’s sometimes better to stay put.
Available at Smashwords in all digital formats.