Ladies Man – A Short Story in Four Parts – Part Three

Continued from yesterday…

Ladies Man

Part Three

by G.B.Pool

I high-tailed it around the back of a restaurant, and then put on the breaks. Somethin’ smelled awful good, and I hadn’t eaten in a day. My mouth watered as I watched a short, brown man toss plastic bags into a dumpster. If the lid didn’t shut all the way, I could get in there, rip open one of those bags, and look for something to eat.

Ever since the car accident, I can’t ease under those heavy lids. But I could sure make short work of a plastic bag.

The brown guy was lookin’ at me. He said something I didn’t understand, but the expression on his face said he just might turn out to be a friend.

He got rid of the garbage, slammed the lid shut, and went back inside the diner.

Oh, well. I’ll find somebody else.

I remembered the middle-aged lady who took pity on me after the car hit me. It wasn’t her fault. She was a witness. The driver didn’t even stop. The lady shook her fist at the car and yelled a few choice words I didn’t think ladies used, while I was licking my wounds.

“You poor fella,” she said. “You hungry? I just might have something in the icebox for a good-looking guy like you. Want to come to my house?”

I could tell by the tone of her voice, she’d made the offer before. As for me, I’ve accepted before.

Sometimes I start out on the couch, but after a while, I’m making myself at home in the lady’s bed. And sometimes, if I’m lucky, I get more out of it than just a back rub.

I got my dark, good looks from my old man. The rest of the brood took after Mom, kinda puny with a standoffish attitude. I heard tell Mom had a reputation for sleepin’ around. I guess you could say the same for Pop. But he had class. Breeding, some said. He taught me the ropes, but when he split, I didn’t have any good reason for staying around.

Lucky for me, the ladies like me. I fancy them myself. They usually treat me good, and I try to repay the kindness, while I’m around. I clean up after myself and don’t snore. But when they start thinking they can tie me down, they got another thing comin’. I’m Splits Ville.

Ladies Man – A Short Story in Four Parts – Part Two

Continued from yesterday…

Ladies Man

Part Two

by G.B.Pool

Barstow and I parted company one night when I nearly got caught heisting a few tasty tidbits from an all-night grocery store. I had wandered in behind another late night customer and made my way to the rear. The morning staff was long gone, so I could graze through the crates of day-old bread, or week-old whatever, and dine in style.

I was wiping the last of a moldy meatloaf from my face when I heard running. I turned in time to see a broom aimed at my head. I ducked and ran. The guy in the white apron took another swing, but I was racing down the cookie isle before he could get past the sinks. I spotted a man making for the doors and sailed through after him. I was in the shadows, catching my breath, by the time “apron boy” made it outside.

It was time to move on.

I strolled over to my favorite diner at the crack of dawn and spotted an eighteen-wheeler loaded with wooden pallets idling in the parking lot. I ambled aboard right before it rumbled onto the street and headed south. The sun was getting hot. Before I turned into beef jerky, I wedged myself down between two piles of splintery wood and fell asleep.

After a while, the steady hum of the road turned into the roar of the city. I opened my eyes. The flat and endless desert had morphed into a mountainous terrain of concrete and steel.

So, this is L.A.

I hang around truckers because those guys know where to eat. “Pallet man” pulled into a local eatery and I decided this was the end of the line. I emerged from my hiding place and dropped lightly to the pavement.

A guy wearing a funny pair of rubber shorts and a cockroach-shaped hat careened through the parking lot on a bicycle and nearly ran me over. As I jumped out of the way, I had to dodge a kid on an oversize roller skate as he raced past me. Sheesh!

Ladies Man – A Short Story in Four Parts – Part One

As a special treat this week, G.B. Pool will share her short story, Ladies Man, in four parts. Gayle teaches short story construction seminars and on Saturday, April 10th, she will be on a panel of short story authors at the Burbank Library, Buena Vista Branch.

Ladies Man – Part One
by G.B.Pool

Call me Sly. That’s short for Sylvester. I started using the name after I snuck into a movie theater running old Stallone movies. It was just me and a bunch of strays with no place to go. I curled up on a seat and tried to catch forty. Gunshots jolted me from my nap and I decided to watch the flick. Boy, that Stallone could take care of himself. If I could have tied a red rag around my head, I would have called myself Rambo, but Sly’s good enough.

You see, I ran away from home when I was a punk. The mean streets have been my address, on and off, ever since. It’s rough out there. I’ve got the scars to prove it. But I’m tough.

It wasn’t all bad. I lived with this gorgeous showgirl in Las Vegas when I was younger. We both kept late hours, but she never asked me any questions. And I never asked her what she did between shows, so we got along great. I always had enough chow to eat at her place, but I didn’t like being tied down. So one night when she was takin’ out the garbage, I slipped out the back door, snuck aboard a southbound truck, and kissed Vegas goodbye.

I slept most of the way, not really knowing where I’d end up. The driver stopped at a diner somewhere along the freeway. I heard another trucker mention Barstow. That’s when my “chauffer” saw me stretched out in the back of his flatbed and started yelling.

“Hey! Get outta there you no good…”

He threw a rock at me. I’ve had worse. Remember the scars?

I ran down the dusty street, checking out my new digs. If times got lean, I could do some second story work. An open window on a hot night was easy. I’d sneak in, grab a few things, and scat before the owners or their dogs picked up the scent.

Dogs and I don’t get along. I tolerate them… from a distance.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two!

Test the Integrity of Your Mystery – Part 4

Continued from last week.

This final blog involves the fourth column of your worksheet. You already know from the first three parts where your seen takes place, who’s involved in the scene, and what action takes place in those scenes. Now it’s time for:

Unanswered Questions.

Unanswered questions must be addressed. Remember the old adage about the gun on the mantle? To paraphrase, if the gun is there in ACT I, someone had better shoot something before the end of the story.

At the end of each scene, list the questions raised during the scene.

Let’s say that your slueth discovers a scrap of paper in the victim’s fireplace. The questions this raises in the reader’s mind are “What was written on the paper?” “Who tried to burn the paper?” “Is it relevant to the mystery?” List all three in the Unanswered Questions column.

When all of your columns are complete, scan down the Information column until you find the answer to each of your questions. It helps to place a checkmark next to both the Information and the corresponding Question. By the end of your story, everything in both of these columns should have a checkmark.

If Aunt Gertrude wonders aloud what ever happened to her diary, the reader will carry that question to the end of the story. Left unanswered, it won’t matter that the murderer has been caught and that the sleuth survives to solve his next case. The reader will want to know why no one ever found the diary and what information it contained.

Even if a piece of Information provided is a Red Herring, it will still raise questions. It doesn’t matter if the answer is “Aunt Gertrude’s diary has nothing to do with the murder.” As the author, you need to make sure that the slueth recognizes that the Question asked has been answered. If you leave anything hanging, you risk irritating your reader.

I hope that using this chart will ease the way to a balanced mystery with a tight plot. You should wind up with a story that makes sense and, as a result, satisfied readers.

Interview with Western author Will Davis

Will Davis is an award-winning author of Westerns. Living in the west for over fifty years, Will became interested in the region and its history. The books he writes are based on real historical events, which he researches to assure that they describe what they were like in the 1800’s. Parts are drawn from his experiences with wilderness horse pack trips, cattle drives, and rodeos. He also draws upon his studies of the Indians of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, and often includes them in his tales of the West.

His first novel, Bell Country Bushwhackers, was published in 2007; his latest, Six Points of Death, in 2008, both by Outskirts Press. His third novel, The Ring, is due out this fall. Welcome, Will!

Writing westerns involves more than putting a cowboy hat and boots on your protagonist. Can you describe what elements make a novel a Western? What is unique to that genre?

The genre is unique because the early West was unique. There were no states, there were no laws and most of the southwest weather and terrain was not kind to its invaders. The men of the early west had to have physical and mental fortitude. They were constantly defending themselves and their families from outlaws, Indians, unprincipled business men and scoundrels in general.

The Westerner, (Cowboy, Cowgirl), had to have strong survival skills. Their horsemanship was often a matter of life or death. If they were going to survive, they had to be proficient with firearms and had to know when to use them and when to refrain.

They followed an unwritten “code of the west” and those that failed to followed it often found themselves hanging from the end of a rope.

What is the special appeal that Westerns hold for their readers? How do you bring out those qualities in your books?

The technology revolution is fast causing the demise of the Westerner of the past. Novels of the early west help the upcoming generation understand and appreciate those that settled the West. There is a special appeal to the reader when they learn about the courage and the daily challenges of the early Westerner. Many of the man and women of the west would provide outstanding role models when it comes to “do what you believe in, and believe in what you do”

Your novels require a lot of research to get the details right. Can you tell us more about your research process? Any tips on how to successfully blend fact with fiction?

Research is by far the most difficult part of writing historical fiction. The stories must be believable and the locations and characters must closely represent the men and women of the times.

I visit the locations I write about. I spend time at their libraries and talking to families that have lived there for generations. I photograph the terrain and any of the original buildings still standing. I spend much of my time reading about the area and those that lived there. I decided to focus on the Apache tribe and I read any books I can find that describes their beliefs, rituals, wars, and social activities. I am careful that I blend the fact and fiction in such a way that I have famous (real) characters in my books in a place they could have been at the time. I also slightly change the names of some of the characters to make sure I am not reflecting badly on their descendents.

You are also an avid and talented photographer. Writers, like photographers, need to create three-dimensional images with a two-dimensional medium. Has your skill with the camera helped make your writing more visual?

My photography background helps me to get visuals of the areas I write about. I am able to select the best perspective that will help me describe the movements of my characters through the region.

There are many ways to publish today. Which method did you choose for your books, and what factors led you to make that choice?

I talked with many published authors and they all agreed the most difficult task of writing was getting their works published. In many cases, it took years. I am not known for my patience and I decided I didn’t want to wait years to see my work in print.

I looked into several self-publishers and decided on using Outskirts Press of Parker Colorado. I have been very happy with them and plan to have my third novel published by them. Once I have three books out, I plan to look into getting an agent to go to a more universal approach to publishing.

What are some of the pluses and minuses to self publishing? What should writers consider when they’re contemplating the self publishing route?

As in most things, there are pluses and minuses to self-publishing. First the pluses; it’s quick, you can have a book on the market in sixty to ninety days, you work directly with the publisher, no agents or promoters, you can customize your book size, print and cover and finally, you can maintain the rights to the work and move it to any publisher you like at any time you like.

Now the minuses; there are up-front cost, there are no agents to promote your work, and there is a requirement on the authors part to get their work in front of the public. The authors must do their own marketing to get the work in the chain bookstores. It is a challenge these days to convince the larger bookstores to carry your work.

The author of your books is Will Davis, which is not your real name. Why did you decide to publish under a pen name?

When I searched the book selves, I noticed that many of the authors had very western sounding names, i.e. Luke Short, Jack Slade, etc. I decided my German name was not a convincing western author’s name. My full name is David William Bushmire. I took my first two names, reversed them and came up with Will Davis. So far it has served me well.

Any last words?

My advice to any would-be authors of historical fiction is:

1. Know your subject

2. Write from experience when possible

3. Do research to make your story believable

4. Pay for a professional editor

5. Read other’s work on similar subjects

Visit Will at his website or purchase his books from Barnes and Noble online, Amazon, or online at the independent Page One Bookstore.