Small Celebration


Hey, I am gonna post this and then take a day off. While dicking around in my WordPress stats and insights, I noticed that my opus minutus, “Resisting Arrest”, was post number 1001.

It’s hard to believe that someone as irresponsible, reckless and impulsive as Finnegan himself has actually puked out that many posts!

No doubt it’s traditional to write some Deep Insights or even meaningful, thought-provoking Words of Wisdom when such a milestone has been achieved. But you all know me, it’s best to leave all that fine word-mongering to the philosophers amongst us and crack open a fresh bottle of The Macallan.

Slainte, my friends. See you no earlier than Saturday.




Another Lamentation


As some of you know, I am trying to get a novel published. At least those of you who actually read my stuff. And I’m not talking about those of you who just click “like” on whatever few lines show up in your WordPress feed before you move on to the next schmuck.

And as you know, it’s not been going well. I haven’t had this much rejection since the 7th grade dance. And I’ve not just been sending in drafts, I’ve actually stalked some agents on the Internet and even gone to Manhattan to sit around some of the finer bars and “accidentally” bump into the agents. And I’m not so crass as to run around with a manila envelope, either, and thrust it at them while they try to talk to their friend Donna from Accounting. I try to make nice, pour a few drinks in them, show some interest in what they have to say, and spring it on them back at my Air BNB. At least that’s the general plan for those in that 35-45 age range, decent dye job on the greys and all. Even a few hours of ol’ Finnegan’s company hasn’t gotten me an agent.

All that aside, I am just completely confused by what goes into getting a book published. Let me tell you the latest puzzlement. On a recent trip of mine, I ended up listening to a Jason Bourne book on CD. Yeah, I know, I could just do Audible, but I’ve sworn off the smart phones. They’re loaded with spyware, and they’re the prosecutor’s best friend. But anyway, it was “The Bourne Dominion”, by Eric Lustbader. Read by Jeremy Davidson, and produced by Hachette Audio. I provide this information, not because you give a sh1t, but because this probably now qualifies as a book review as well as a lamentation, thereby building my street cred as a serious literary figure.

Overall, the book was entertaining, and it kept me from going completely batsh1t on a 13 hour ride. When I got to {CITY REDACTED}, I was on the last CD, and drove around a bit to listen to the end. Even though I had to piss like a racehorse. So I liked the book, a lot, but it sure had some WTF moments. The first when was a character was explaining how a secret society, the Severus Domna, brought together East and West, blah blah blah. But this person erroneously said that Iranians were Sunni, and most Arabs Shia. I’ve got reading glasses, but I don’t yet need hearing aids, so I’m pretty sure that was what was said.

Next, a female character had scars on her delivered by a margay that was protecting its young. What is a margay, you may ask? Per Wikipedia, it is an EIGHT POINT EIGHT POUND OCELOT* that inhabits South and Central America. Now, this vicious mauling took place in Colombia, so the location is at least plausible. But there are twelve pound feral cats in my neighborhood, and few of them could maul a squirrel or large rabbit, much less a grown woman.

Next it turns out that the woman who was mauled, who by all appearances was a young native woman, is actually a blond Swede who uses wash-out hair color, skin bronzer and has a temporary tattoo on her ear. And it seems her long-term lover somehow did not notice. I’ve heard of sweat-proof bronzer before, but I mean did he never see her shower? Never get it on with her and at least occasionally get some friction on? And they lived in a jungle…where do you get a never-ending supply of hair color, bronzer and fake tattoos in the middle of a jungle?!?! And how does the character speak English with a slight Swedish accent, but not speak Spanish with a slight Swedish accent?

At that point I just totally WILLED myself to have a willing suspension of disbelief, as the alternative was listening to the radio and changing the station every 5 minutes from country to revival to bad hip-hop. The reward was listening to Jason Bourne beat numerous Russians and secret agents to a pulp, while the Secretary of Defense is being seduced by one of the triplet sisters of the Swede who fought a Margay (don’t ask), and Severus Domna is trying to destroy America’s only source of rare earths, and… on. It did make sense at the time. And yes, Jason Bourne did save everyone’s ass in the end.

But I ask you, what the h3ll is going on with the editing process? Obviously Eric Lustbader is a wildly successful author, has published 47 more books than I have, and I couldn’t hold his jock strap. But wouldn’t someone at some point have suggested a panther rather than a margay? Or checked Wikipedia for the main religion of Iran?

There may be a lesson here, but damned if I know what it is.

And here endeth my lamentation.



*For my international readers, the translation into metric is FOUR KILOGRAM OCELOT.

p.s. Lustbader, if you’re reading this, no offense meant.  I’d be willing to discuss this over coffee with you next time I’m in the city.

What’s in a Name?


So this past year or so I’ve been puking out Six Word Stories, and need your help with something. And that is, the effect of using names. This is a non-trivial question, when it comes to such a literary form. Does the use of a name draw you in? Is it a throw-away? Distract you? Make you wonder about the protagonist’s backstory?

So here’s a specific, to help you weigh in. From February 27:

“Erica didn’t reciprocate Jocko’s heart-rending confession.”

It could also have been said:

“She didn’t reciprocate his heart-rending confession.”

“Erica didn’t reciprocate his heart-rending confession.”

“She didn’t reciprocate Jocko’s heart-rending confession.”

It makes quite a difference, changing the details of up to one third of the story. Yet it is essentially the same tale of alienation, unreciprocated feelings, shift in the balance of power, a changing relationship, and possibly rupture between two people. So does it matter?

And what if the names or social implications of the names were different?

“Manuela didn’t reciprocate Roberto’s heart-rending confession.”

“Jackson didn’t reciprocate Gunney’s heart-rending confession.”

“Elke didn’t reciprocate Ludwig’s heart-rending confession.”

“Imani didn’t reciprocate Adongo’s heart-rending confession.”

“Miho-chan didn’t reciprocate Tanaka-san’s heart-rending confession.”

…and so on.

Does the use of names associated with a certain ethnic group, nation, or profession change the focus from the events to the group, nation or profession?

And last, this was a woman not reciprocating a man’s feelings. I have no doubt it is a much different story if the roles were reversed. Or if the characters were of the same sex. Everyone has pretty much been in each of those positions once, and it would be hard not to project that experience into the events. Since it was a very different experience for the reader each time, the story would be different.

So please let me know what you think. I tend to go with my instinct and use personal pronouns and proper names when appropriate. It doesn’t seem to affect the number of “likes” or comments much. But as I keep working these, it would be great to have feedback on what you think of the use of names.

Thank you in advance for the dozens of comments, likes, reposts, and links back to your high-traffic sites.


On the Pensinsula (sample book chapter)


About three weeks ago I started pimping my project again on this blog, and the votes are in.  You, my adoring public, want me to keep going on the book that was called “The Confraternity of Santo Discreto”.  Right now it has the working title of “The Voyage of the Pink Snapper”, due to the results of some market research conducted on a Tuesday night at The Winking Lizard (a bar in Cleveland).

Previous chapters posted have introduced the guys, and in particular, the protagonist, Max.  This chapter is intended to introduce you, the gentle reader, to the antagonist, Sofia.  In earlier versions, she was introduced late, and finally revealed as the puppet master behind many things.  On the sage advice of Mr. Albert Zuckerman*, author of “Writing the Blockbuster Novel”, I now introduce the antagonist early on, and then deftly…nay, masterfully, switch back and forth between protagonist and antagonist.  The reader can see the impending conflict, and the tension slowly ratchets higher and higher, so you poor fuc7ers are left reading “just one more chapter” until 3 in the morning because you can’t put it down.

So anyway, here is the intentionally short chapter that is supposed to put the hook in you, make you want to find out what this broad is up to, and how her life is going to intersect with the dissolute yet somehow likable married guys who are chasing tail across the lovely suburbs of Youngstown, Ohio.

Feel free to offer comments of any depth, any positivity or negativity, anything that would be helpful in keeping a reader engaged.



*OK, a moment of honesty here.  This sage advice was offered in the book, which I borrowed from the county library.  I did intend to imply that Al pulled me aside at Thanksgiving to give me some personalized insights.  However, we all know that did not happen.


Chapter 2 “One the Peninsula”

Former Special Agent Sofia Kaplan pulled the abaya tighter around her head as the car pulled up to the entrance to the Millennium Mall. “I’ll call the hotel when I’m done.” The driver nodded politely without making eye contact. A short Filipino man in a gaudy uniform opened the door, and she stepped out, carrying a bright red cloth shopping bag from Baptiste et Fils that drew the eye. Jesus Christ, he looks like the cover of the Sergeant Pepper album, she thought.

She leisurely pushed her way through the throng, dodging large Muslim families in traditional garb, Westerners, thousands of people out for the evening. It was Thursday night, and the weekend was in full swing.

She pretended to window shop for a while, yet the polished windows, marble fountains, intricate tile work, and gilt edges that advertised unspeakable wealth barely registered. She was only paying attention to people; specifically, making sure no one was following. She was on a mission. She ducked into a restroom at the food court, and entered the last stall. She took off her abaya as she pulled down her pants and sat on the toilet, stuffing it in the bag. Out came a tight hair cap and an expensive wig with long black hair. She caught her short blond hair in the cap, and pulled the wig into place. She quickly put in a pair of dark brown contact lenses and clipped special dental appliances to her upper teeth that made her cheeks fuller. She shucked her dark blue long-sleeve smock, added pads to her push-up bra, and put on a grey silk Armani t-shirt. Next she exchanged her jeans and sensible flats with black leggings and high heels. Using a hand-held mirror, she quickly put no-streak bronzer on her face and upper chest, then rubbed into onto her arms. She finished herself with bright red lipstick and gold hoop earrings. Satisfied, she turned the bright red bag inside out, revealing it’s everyday tan side, and dumped everything back in.

When she stopped to look at herself in the spotless mirror five minutes after entering, the demure and respectful mid-Western American girl was replaced by a self-confident and brash Lebanese woman. The smiled at her new self, and strode out into the mall, thinking Sometimes it’s great to be a woman in this place.

She palmed her phone to a young girl in line at Starbucks, recognizing her by her green “Kiss Me I’m Irish” t-shirt and orange purse. Then she strode out to the parking lot, clutching her venti mocha, and got into a black Mercedes. She drove carefully into the residential neighborhood just north of the mall.

Favor For Finnegan


As we approach Thanksgiving and the long slide into the holidays, agents everywhere are going to close up shop, leaving the hapless yet earnest intern from Cincinnati in charge of answering the phone and telling people their precious tome is Under Consideration. While the agents swap snarky stories over drinks at the White Horse Tavern or Kettle of Fish about the worst submissions of the year, their slush pile will be growing to the point where they will ponder the cleansing aspects of arson that first morning back in January.

You gotta help jump-start me for the new year. Some of you are new followers, some of you are long time fans, and I appreciate all you do. However, the comments are few and far between on my draft books. It’s the tyranny of WordPress, most likely. The latest keeps popping up in the feed, and it’s quick to savor the eye candy and “Like” a story, because there’s more to read, while getting your own stories and points across. Not to mention your own comments to moderate. And if you don’t check out the banner the first time you check out a site, it’s not likely you’ll come back.

Let’s face it, you’re probably reading this due to dissatisfaction with your job, your family, your friends, your life. Getting on WordPress is an escape, an outlet. This is my offer; a chance to escape into becoming part of a Literary Moment, where a dishevelled and lost soul in the twilight of his later middle age is unexpectedly propelled onto the New York Times Bestseller list and becomes the scary uncle no one from the establishment wants to make eye contact with at all the finer cocktail parties in Manhattan. Wearing an inappropriately large gold chain over a silk Armani t-shirt, and a bespoke leather blazer from Impero, I promise to continue my offensive ways while conducting erudite-sounding discussions about the meaning of it all with an eclectic assortment of failed playwrights and other men’s trophy wives. People will be talking about this for years. And when I finally pass away, I will leave strict instructions to my executors to provide a lurid and horrifying fable that will thrill and delight the public for years, even if I simply have a massive coronary while watching a Cleveland team in the playoffs.

So here is what I am asking. RIGHT AFTER READING THIS, click the links below to get to my project, and let me know what you think. I do promise to take all advice kindly and to the maximum extent possible, because this authorousness is well beyond my natural abilities. It won’t be like Wikipedia, where you can change the d@mn thing as you go, but it will be literary crowd-sourcing at its finest. We’ll make the grade together. I’ll make my millions, and you will be able to say you knew me when and helped me get there.
Most Sincere Thanks in Advance,