Archive for the ‘Nice’ category


September 27, 2014



It was worse than embarrassing.  It had been bad enough
when he was little, and, now, when they said to him==”hey, you twelve now, boy, almost a man, not
a little bitty baby,”–he wanted to bite it off, sling it onto the highway, cast it into some woods, lose it anywhere there were trucks, trash, tangle. It just wasn’t

something a boy did–stick his tongue out–

and he did it all the time when he was drawing, really just concentrating on anything only that was mainly drawing, like he wanted to just reach out and give whatever he drew

a taste–

Only it didn’t look like that, it just looked

stupid, and so, as he began the hull, he tried to press his lips into a seam, the pencil curving, cause it was

boats he liked to draw mainly–old clipper ships with sails, or else

destroyers–he’d seen them in the library but mainly copied from

a catalogue they’d gotten, wrong-address–

the clipper ships built

in bottles, which seemed to him impossible, bottles something they just threw in the heap out back, a toss of crackling

into cracked, and the destroyer which the catalog said

weighed paper.  He could not understand why someone would want

to weigh paper, but didn’t worry about that part, ’cause what caught him was

that it was ” “just perfect for

that nautical guy

in your household.”

and even though he knew “nautical” had something to do with the sea and maybe even

boats, he pronounced it “now–oo–tical,” in his head, and it always made him think that the guy the destroyer would be just perfect for was someone who got everything right now-oo, and, he thought,

looking at the battleship, that in their house that would be his grandpa though he couldn’t actually imagine him saying “right now–oo,” which sounded like a howl, and may even kind of a joke, while when his grandpa wanted something it was kind of

a sharp right now, sort of like what he imagined to be the crinkles in

a crisp sea, or what they talked about in books
as the slap of the waves, or the cuts he imagined that
destroyer might make

through water, or a broken

bottle, his face even looking

like a destroyer, the thick grey eyebrows like

the bridge, the eyes, those gun tubes, his nose, beaked, prowed–

Which is when he remembered to check, lifting his pencil point towards his lips, and tasting

the graphite.

And cursed himself, using every word he did know how
to pronounce, and opened his mouth widely, though not so widely someone could actually see him opening it, and shut his mouth tight, and then tried to pretend that he was just yawning, in case someone could see, though he was as wired inside

as a straining rope, cause when he pulled his tongue back in his mouth, it burned, touching his pallet,

and after a minute he couldn’t help but try to press it against his teeth, anything, as if teeth

were comforters–

Then shook his head, wiping his pencil hand over the moistness, sweat, and, when he started to draw again, tried to hint at the outline of the planks on the clipper’s side, at the rounding of the wood that shinnied up the mast’s climb,  trying to make something solid

with shading, feeling all along the push of the tongue at his teeth,

though he hated feeling that, thinking of that, and when he got to the top of the mast, and poured himself into
the crow’s nest, he realized it had slid forward and out again, just a little, but furious, he bit it,

and to be honest, he tried not to bite it hard because

it was already so sore, and because

a part of him could not really believe that learning soreness would teach him

to keep it in its place; if learning soreness

kept it in its place, it would have a hide-out in

his stomach by now, maybe even

his big toe,

and he tried hard to laugh at that, the picture of tongue in toe, when it panged, and then, when it kept panging, to think of the pain as pencil points, dotting the heads of birds in his ship’s sky, flipping out their wing spans, and when the pain seemed like

it would not quiet, he tried to picture his mouth like the mouth of Jonah’s fish, which could keep Jonah inside without even hurting him

and then tried, thinking of that not-hurting, to push through
to the sails, his favorite parts, the way they let his pencil capture winds and sky and movement, and he drew their curves carefully, trying to imagine a tongue stuck in his toe, but never somehow the curves of his own cheeks, the slope down to his lips, the breathe stowed in his tight, bent, chest.


Here’s a draft something for Herotomost’s prompt on With Real Toads.  Herotomost said it could be anything inspired by a truth seen from a twelve=year old’s eyes=Herotomost creates a great picture of his own twelve-year old in a tangle of jungle, somehow making me imagine this one, and some little truth there–

Sorry for the length–and the picture is also not exactly right, not a clipper but something from NYC (where I am right now.) 

Also, I am not very good at posting sidebar pictures, but I wanted to let you know my new book Nice, written in part from a child’s perspective, is out.  Check it out!  Buy it!  (It’s cheap.)  I would be happy to get one to anyone interested in reviewing!  Thanks.  

PP Native Cover_4696546_Front Cover




“Nice” Blurb – Plea for Help

August 16, 2014

PP Native Cover_4696546_Front Cover


As some of you may know, I have been working in an increasingly desultory fashion on the publication of a new novel, called Nice. (I say, “increasingly desultory” as it has become harder to work on this project the closer it is to completion.)

Unlike my first published novel, Nose Dive, which is a comical young adult mystery (and a lot of fun!), this is a serious novel, with an intense and, I hope, emotionally affecting, story.  It is about child sexual abuse; it represents years of work.

I think it really is a good novel, though I’ve worked on it so long it is hard for me to still look at it.  I am super happy with the cover picture, which I did myself.

Here’s my quandary–the sales information!  The little blurb that goes on Amazon and elsewhere!  This kind of thing is so darn hard for me that I  can hardly squeeze something out.

So what I am asking for–I don’t know–ideas==approval==is the below horribly embarrassing?


It is summer, 1968–Martin Luther King Jr. shot in April, Bobby Kennedy in June–“what in the world is happening to this country?” Americans wonder. 

It is summer, 1968, the civil rights movement in turmoil, the Vietnam War escalating, but Les, a ten year old suburban girl, has been trained to be nice.

Her teenage brother, Arne, on the other hand, aims for rebellion.

But they are kids, it is summer, it is 1968, and what they both truly want–aside from world peace–is to be a little more cool.

Then a distant relative visits, a cool cat, rebel of sorts, childhood favorite. 

“What in the world is happening?” Les wonders, as the unthinkable does.  

“What in the world is happening?” Arne wonders, as his sister changes, as he too is faced with a darker picture of growing up–

Their story traverses the landscape of country, family, heart.

Since posting – B. Young made some very useful suggestions and here’s a whole other approach:

Nice is a story of child sexual abuse and its aftermath.  It takes place in the summer of 1968, the U.S. reeling from the April assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the June assassination of Bobby Kennedy, the escalating Vietnam War.  It is told from the points of view of a ten year old girl and her teenage brother, each separately finding a voice in the face of personal and political disillusionment.  


Better?  Too terse?  (I was going to add in here a very horrible joke, but cannot in the face of the terrible loss of Robin Williams this week.)

Any ideas?  Should it be more direct?  Less direct?  Should I just press approve/publish!?

The book will be issued by my own imprint, by the way, which is BackStroke Books, and when I do press publish, it will be available on Kindle and in paper.  I will let you know when.  I am aiming for cheap pricing so I do hope you’ll be able to read.