With the election cycle come and gone, the talking heads still hashing things out, (and as we still wait for FL to get its crap together), I’ve seen, read and absorbed a lot of opinions. I’ve pored over Nate Silver’s scarily accurate predictions, read the pieces on Huffington Post, and I even watched the local Fox news coverage (as well as browsing their website. 

As a disclaimer, I am an Obama supporter, I’ve voted for him twice, and as a point of fact, never voted Republican. Having said that, I strive to be objective and see things from both sides. However, what I noticed and no one seems to see, is that this was a mandate of sorts. 

In spite of the Republican Super Pacs vastly outspending Democrats (http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/campaign-finance/independent-expenditures/totals), the instances of voter misinformation (Jeff Flake’s robo calls to Democrats giving them the wrong date to vote and the misprinted Spanish dates here in Phoenix to name but two); in spite of the ads, in spite of the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove doing everything they could to sway this election, they failed. 

However, the Presidential election was only one small part. One only has to look at some of the races, and propositions to see what was really happening. This was less a mandate on Obama’s guidance of the nation, as it was an attempt to steer the country back to a more centrist, common sense point of view. 

Four initiatives regarding gay marriage were passed; two states approved recreational marijuana use; several of the tea party notables were ousted out of their jobs. Progressive Democrats were elected to the Senate and House. Women took a stand against the likes of Todd Akin and fought for their rights, Labor came back, and big business was told it’s not going to be business as usual. 

These are all disparate elements, yet they do come together. They’re the parts of a larger view, the mandate. The attack on women’s issues, the rampant homophobia, the veiled racism of immigration reform (such as SB 1070 here in AZ), came to a halt-at least temporarily. 

Yesterday’s election was about reclaiming our rights, our liberties and our pursuit of happiness from those who would deny us. 

And that is a far more important notation to make. It wasn’t about Obama, it was about us. About our friends, family, mothers, sisters, brothers and fathers. It was about dignity, compassion and most of all respect for ourselves and one another. 

Not everything was perfect, but it’s a start, and a very important one. 

To celebrate my 500th follower on twitter, I’m posting the first chapter of my current work in progress. As it’s still early in the writing stages, much may be subject to change in the rewrite process. And of course it’s all copyrighted and may not be reproduced anywhere, etc etc.  Any comments are always welcome.

Also a special mention to Steve Santerre for the idea of using the name Napoleon Santerre for the main character!

Napoleon Santerre sat in his parked car in front of the house where  he grew up, looking for the ghosts.  It was a bright September day, with a pleasant temperature. He’d rolled down Carleton Ave, with the windows open enjoying the cool breeze. It wasn’t until he turned right on Cleveland Street, the old 7-11 was still there with a full parking lot, that he began to feel sweat trickle down the nape of his neck. His grip on the leather covered steering wheel loosened as his hands went clammy. His eyes began to water, his stomach turned slightly as the neighborhood where he spent his childhood  came into view.

Napoleon slowed at the intersection of Cleveland and Washington, crossed and parked by the side of the house. The trees that lined the side of the residence were gone and had been for a long while from all appearances. The white paint was sun beaten and peeling, like it suffered from a bad burn. The 5 foot high chain link fence was gone as were the shrubs that had dotted it along the property line nearly all the way around. The metal enclosure had been replaced by a wooden slat fence also the same worn, blistered white. Though he couldn’t see, Napoleon assumed it also went all the way around as well.

He took a deep breath, wiped sweat from his eyes and looked away from the place he called home the first 15 years of his life. The old man standing at his door and peering down into the window caused him to give a startled yelp.

“Everything okay young man?” he asked Napoleon.

“Jesus, aside from that heart attack you nearly caused, I’m fine.”  He shut the engine off, took the keys from the ignition and made a motion for the man to step away so he could open the door.

The old man obliged in a most leisurely manner, his eyes never leaving Napoleon’s face. It was more than studying him, more than scrutinizing, it was unnerving and felt almost intrusive.

“You’re the Santerre kid, aren’t you?” Napoleon’s eyes widened, and his unease increased.

“I’m Paul, yeah..” he trailed off and recognition slowly dawned. “Mr. Hooksten?”

The old man smiled, “Yes, last I checked my ID I was. Might need to check yours too, I remember your name as Napoleon.” Napoleon thought he saw a smirk.

“Paul is easier. Less ass kicking’s too,” he told Mr. Hooksten. The old man smiled at that.

“Seems to me you had quite a few of those growing up.”

Paul blushed. “That I did,” he answered with not a little shame. He stared at the old man, and wondered exactly how old Hooksten was, Paul thought for sure he had to have been at least 70 when they moved…

…ran away…you left me Paulie….you left me to die…you all left me with them…

Paul shook his head slightly as if the jarring movement would make the memory fall out of his head and splatter onto the ground. Hooksten gave him a quizzical look. “You sure you okay?” Paul nodded.

“Just being here again, it’s been over 30 years. Like going back in time.”

Mr. Hooksten took him by the arm, and walked him across the street, to where he’d been planting some new flowers. “Come on by, I’ll get you water or something stronger if you’re so inclined, and you can tell me all about your trip.”

As if in a trance, Paul went without resisting.

Here’s your chance to win a $10 Amazon digital card! Entering is pretty simple, just read my novella Barbed Wire Kisses (either Kindle or Nook), leave a review, leave a link to it here and we’ll pick a winner. Whether the review is good or bad, won’t make a difference as it will be completely random.

Contest will be open from 7/3/12 until 8/10/12, with a winner being determined by 8/15/12.

You can leave a review either on the Amazon website or the Barnes and Noble website only.

http://www.amazon.com/Barbed-Wire-Kisses-ebook/dp/B008771Q60/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_1

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/barbed-wire-kisses-scott-colbert/1111319725?ean=2940014700627

Father’s Day

Posted: June 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

This past week was the 23rd anniversary of my dad’s passing away.  He was 48.

I’ve been thinking about him a lot as Barbed Wire Kisses was released and I had dedicated the book to him as well as basing the character of Eddie McCarthy on him as well. While not a carbon copy, there’s enough of my dad’s essence in their to make it very personal for me.

See, my dad and I never had what you would call a close relationship.  I can’t blame him -he tried.  I was just a selfish, unrepentant asshole. My depression and all that that entails hadn’t been diagnosed.  I was off course, out of sync and refused to believe that I was the problem, everyone else was. 

Still, when I got the message on my answering machine from my mom, then called back and found out a part of me died.  All the anger and resentment I felt slipped away like an old skin.  I can’t explain it better than that.

I only wish he was here to see how much of an influence he turned out to have in my later years.  He is still missed.

This will be a bit interactive-I hope-so what follows will make more sense. If you would, click on the link and then click on the look inside to the left of the web page and read the first couple of chapters of BWK.http://www.amazon.com/Barbed-Wire-Kisses-ebook/dp/B008771Q60/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_1

I’m not going to ask you to buy it, hopefully that bit whetted your appetite to find out more of the story-I want to talk about those first two chapters. Originally, The book opened with Chapter two. The very first line I wrote was “Eddie’s god was dead.”  The entire second chapter was written, and then the  first chapter came right after. As I revised, I switched them for a couple of reasons. 1) Starting a story in the middle of action is always a great way to get a reader involved. 2) I was thinking of David Cronenberg’s movie Scanners, and how shortly into it, a man’s head explodes. I know I spent the rest of the movie wondering how he would top that, and the tension of not knowing what to expect enhanced the terror. I had hopes, my opening chapter would do the same.

It’s certainly the most violent, profane and disgusting bit I ever wrote. I’m not sure if I would have written it that way if I had to do it all over again, but nonetheless I’m glad I did. I wanted something so over the top, so gruesome and nauseating that you would have no doubt that that these two would deserve whatever may come their way. I let myself go unfiltered, and I think I did a decent job of creating a scene of such violence and grotesque behavior you’d want to know what makes them tick.  And as with my Scanners experience, I wanted that sense of dread to permeate the rest of the book, make the reader how I would top the opening.

Of course, along with that comes the language I use. I will admit I have a propensity for gutter language when appropriate, but also know when to keep it out of a conversation (like a job interview). 

But how much is too much? BWK is dark, profane, violent and hopefully disturbing. In the context of the story I had in mind, each curse had its place. And yet, even as I revised and edited, I did find some of it excessive and cut a bit. for some it may still be too much, for others it may not even register. I think some of the excessive swearing suited the story. These are uneducated people, they spoke the language of the rough and wild. But they were words, without the stigma attached to them that we have today. In that sense there’s almost a purity to them. If you’ve seen the HBO series Deadwood, or done some research, then you know what I’ve written was very much in the vernacular of the time. People used cocksucker as freely as we use the word, dude, or bro. 

Did I have to do that? Wouldn’t a “good” writer be able to get his ideas across without resorting to cursing? Perhaps, but it wouldn’t be nearly as flavorful, or true to the time period, and I really wanted to make BWK as authentic as possible (given some of the supernatural elements later on in the book).

There’s a fine line between authentic and gratuitous, few do it successfully (though David Milch makes it pure poetry in Deadwood) and I hope I did it well enough that people don’t see it as excessive or gratuitous, but as the seasoning for a very spicy chile. 

 

In my next post I’ll talk about the origins of some of the characters. 

From Conception to Birth

Posted: May 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

Talk to any writer, and they’ll say that the number one question posed to them (either right before or right after, “Can you read this?”), is where you get your ideas.  Sometimes this is easy to answer (as with Barbed Wire Kisses), other times it’s not (as with my short story “Killer Weed” found on this blog).  It’s always a frustrating question because it means having to explain how your mind works, and there’s never a ready and stock answer for that!

In the instance of BWK, it started simply enough, I wanted to write a serial killer story.  My original thought was having the killer find his victims through his job at a call center. After all, how easy would it be to get addresses and all sorts of information about a prospective victim than working for one?  What proved not so easy, is dealing with today’s technology.  With the advent of cell phones, smart phones, tablets, laptops, the constant internet connection and proliferation of cameras everywhere, it wouldn’t be as easy to get away with a murder spree for the length of time I was thinking about.  Also, given the amount of info collected about CSR’s and who they talk with on a daily basis made it not quite as easy.  At the same time, I was also thinking of who my killer would be, and the thought came to make the villain of the piece, not a lone killer, but a pair: brothers. At this point I didn’t know if they worked together, or if they acted separately; hell, I wasn’t even sure if it was believable. Taking to Google (a writer’s best friend), I searched for brother serial killers, and to my amazement, found that the US’s first reported serial killer was in fact brothers (cousins actually but referred to as the Harps Brothers).   While certainly an anomaly in serial killer  lore, it gave me the spark I needed.

There was one problem: their exploits were in the late 1770’s, a time frame just foreign enough to me (and requiring a bit too much research for my own comfort level), that I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. As I was reading a slush pile for the Dead West anthology at the time, the idea to fictionalize them a bit (okay a lot), and plop them down in the Old West, suddenly seemed a no brainer. And it was with that , that BWK finally began to take shape and the process of writing it came (not always easy, and still far more research than I anticipated) to fruition finally.

Over the next several months, I lived, ate and breathed with Micah and his brother; I wrote passages that even made my stomach turn, and had them do things that I didn’t expect. In the end, the final published work is still pretty close to the first draft story wise. I’m very proud of it, and hope those who choose to read it, enjoy it as well.

Coming in my next blog post, the excesses of the first chapter, use of profanity, and how much is too much.

BWK Now available!

Posted: May 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

Get it from Amazon, and coming to the Nook soon. http://www.amazon.com/Barbed-Wire-Kisses-ebook/dp/B008771Q60/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338410402&sr=1-8