Tag Archives: writing

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

A Horse That’s Dead is Heavy as Lead

21 Sep

Habeas Equus

a short story

I’d previously thought dead weight meant lazy, because Dad had hung the words on Fossie when he forgot to trim the weeds around the elm stump out by the road. I learned better that day in the barn when the three of us couldn’t budge the dead mare from the stall floor — right where she had fallen like a one-ton bag of cement sometime the night before. The palomino hadn’t been much to look at when she was living, with bones poking against her skin like she was a sack of walnuts on four legs. But death had changed the old girl, made her seem bigger, too big for the three of us to yank her from her resting place.

“At this rate, we’ll be here all day and into tomorrow,” Dad said. Those were the first words he’d spoken since the horse had turned up dead. Dad never cared much for shooting the breeze, and he was extra quiet that day. Out of breath from tugging at the horse, my father looked like he might keel over, leaving me and Fossie to deal with both him and the horse. Dad wasn’t exactly light as a feather, so I doubted we could budge him either.

Dad leaned against the barn wall, pulled a wadded handkerchief from his back pocket and wiped sweat beads from his brow. His shoulders drooped like they were being forced down by the weight of his jowly head. He had added a few pounds in middle age, which wouldn’t help us to get the dead horse any closer to the barn door.

I was busy pouting, more or less on general principle, and had nothing to say on the matter of the horse or anything else. I just wanted to get the thing over with so I could retreat from the lung-sucking heat of the barn. I couldn’t see how chattering away was going to get that done. But Fossie, older than me by three years, hardly ever shut up. He leaned against the wall next to Dad with his arms folded and asked, “How much you think she weighs?”

Dad grunted. “At least a pound more’n we can handle, it would appear.”

“I bet we’d get her out quick if we had another set of hands,” Fossie said.

“You keep an extra pair in your pocket?” The Old Man was well-past frustrated with the status of his equine property, a problem he hadn’t counted on the day he was supposed to be off the place he rented.

“I bet Cloyd’d help out if we asked,” Fossie said. I could have choked him right then if my hands had been big enough to wrap around his thick neck. Only someone as stupid as my brother would bring up Cloyd Farris the day before Dad headed to prison.

If you’re interested in reading the rest of Habeas Equus (about five pages), go to Smashwords and use this coupon code to download it for free: AR73P

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.

I spit on your deadline pressure

17 Aug

Even in pre-Colombian times, the Maya had cubicle workers tasked with completing highly non-essential TPS reports by 5 p.m. each Friday. (It’s a little-known fact that TPS reports, rather than European disease or fratricidal wars, led to the demise of the Maya civilization. Let that be a lesson to us.) If the cubies failed to complete their reports on time, they were sent to spend the weekend in the company of Au Puch, the Maya God of Death. None  ever returned to work Monday morning. This is where the term “deadline” comes from.

Such a foreboding word. Perhaps if the Internatinal Council on Words ‘n Things were to change deadline to “happyline” or “relaxline,” we wouldn’t get so worked up about it. I, I’ve been told, don’t have that problem.  I was a senior in journalism school, in the last weeks of my college education and preparing the conquer the world of TV news, when a professor sat me down for a heart-to-heart. I won’t divulge his name, but the professor told me I might consider a profession other than TV news.

Was I a poor writer? A poor editor?

No.

Did I have a face for radio?

That issue can’t be addressed in one meeting.

So…?

The issue is deadlines. You don’t get excited about them.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t miss any deadlines. I just didn’t whoop and holler and get all sweaty as they approached. I assumed that was an advantage, but the instructor believed I wasn’t cut out to handle deadline pressure. I thought an even-tempered person would be better-suited to deliver quality on deadline than someone a bit more high-strung. (Here’s an excellent example of this.) And no, I don’t think the guy was practicing reverse psychology.

Here’s my approach to deadlines: I know I ain’t perfect (and not just my grammar). If I work at something until it’s perfect, I’ll miss every deadline. When I had to get a story ready for the six o’clock news, it wasn’t always pretty. I wished it had been, but a perfectly written and edited story wasn’t worth jack squat at 6:31. I remember, as a kid, hearing of the Navajo tradition of intentionally including one mistake in woven rugs, because only God is perfect. I’ve never forgotten that, and I often include multiple mistakes in my work  just to make sure no one confuses me with God.

Deadlines for creative people, whether they come from an editor, boss, mate, or the voice in our head, keep us honest. They keep us moving forward. They get our stuff out there where people can see and react to it. I can look back at anything I’ve produced a year or two later and cringe. I could let that be another form of paralysis, like this example, or I can do my best in the time I have and take my lumps knowing my stuff won’t be perfect, yet good enough to avoid a weekend at Ah Puch’s.

By all means, take offense

12 Jul

Long ago in a land and time far away, I reported the news for an ABC affiliate in Kentucky. I was superbly mediocre. Still, I had my good moments, such as when I did a news series called “Justice for All?” which investigated how judicial outcomes varied with each person’s ability to afford representation. Not a stunning revelation, right? A millionaire with a phalanx of high-priced lawyers has a better chance shot at freedom than a similarly-accused person represented by a harried public defender. (Can I get an amen, OJ?) Still, the series rankled a few feathers, generating a critical letter to the editor of the paper (even though I was a TV reporter) from the head of the local public defenders office. I was gleeful. It was about time I pissed someone off, I thought.

It wasn’t my goal to raise anyone’s hackles; I only tried to present the facts. But the letter to the editor offered written proof that I was doing my job. All writers–not just news reporters–should embrace criticism, and not just because it toughens us. Criticism shows we’re not only entertaining, but causing readers to think and react. I don’t write to irritate anyone. In fact, I wish everyone would fall in love with each word and punctuation mark I type with my bony fingers. But if someone is offended by the ideas I have, it’s a good indication I risen a bit above writing total drivel. On the other hand, if everyone sends me bouquets, I need to find something better to do with my time.

Kitties and Bodice Rippers

7 Jul

The blog world is filled with serious readers who love to write about books, and 95% of them have pictures of their cats on their site. Fifty percent of those have pictures of their dead cats. RIP Butterball 1999-2011. These bloggers are serious about their craft, and I’m thankful for the ones who take time to consider my work. But as a guy who doesn’t write about vampires, werewolves, post-apocalyptic America, bodice ripping, or vampires screwing bodice-ripping werewolves in post-apocalyptic America, the list of bloggers interested in reading my books is a bit small. My first novel was centered around a porn store in a small town. My second novel is about a kid who inadvertently becomes an oxycontin delivery boy in a small town in Kentucky. There’s no vampire or bodice in either story. I thought about putting a picture of a Russian blue cat on my next book cover to generate more blogging interest, but that didn’t seem right.