Read Chapters 2 & 3 of The Calling

calling_final_revised_smI’ve just posted the second and third chapters of The Calling, my upcoming first original novel that is scheduled for publication in a few weeks.

Here’s a short tease from Chapter 2:

“Your dog showed us why we can’t have new furniture.”

“You know, it never ceases to amaze me,” Tom said. “When Scout does something useful, like chase a raccoon out of your garden, she’s ‘our’ dog. But when she wrecks something, she instantly becomes ‘my’ dog.”

Karen scowled jokingly over her shoulder. “Your point?”

“No point,” Tom replied.

“Get used to it,” Karen said. “Same rule goes for kids.”

And here’s a brief bit from Chapter 3:

Tom jolted awake in the dead of night, all but knocked from his bed. All the prayers he’d ever heard had come to him as whispers.

This one had fallen with the force of a command.

Seven words echoed in his mind as he scrambled from bed wearing just his frayed green sweatpants.

Enjoy! And if you dig what you read, pre-order The Calling from while it’s on sale!

The Greatest Film Review Ever Written

Lifted from @kevindilmore on Twitter: the greatest piece of film criticism ever written —

Michael Bay Finally Made An Art Movie

By Charlie Jane Anders

Here’s a taste of CJA’s incandescent critical brilliance:

LaBoeuf projects a pathetic, wall-eyed dorkhood, when he’s not babbling like a tumor removed from Woody Allen’s prostate that somehow achieved sentience.

And then there’s this gem:

Transformers: ROTF is so long, you’ll need to wear adult diapers to it. But the movie’s pure celebration of the primal urge, and unfiltered living, will make you rejoice in your adult diapers. You’ll relieve yourself in your seat with a savage joy, your barbaric yawp blending in with the crowd’s screams of excitement.

If there were a Pulitzer prize for Sarcasm, I’d say Charlie Jane Anders just earned it. Brava!

Clothes Hoarse

It all started with a linen jacket.

Years ago I bought a cheap but very comfortable linen sportcoat at The GAP. It wasn’t fancy, but I liked it. I got to wear it maybe a dozen times or so that I recall. Then something nasty and sticky and red — maybe barbecue sauce, maybe ketchup, maybe the blood of inspiration trickling from my forehead — stained the front right flap.

Despite efforts to have the stain removed by professional cleaners, the jacket never came clean. I suspect the first cleaner might have treated the stain improperly and ended up setting it rather than removing it.

Since then I have often lamented my ruined linen jacket. A few days ago, I became determined to replace it before the Shore Leave convention.

When my wife heard that I planned to go to Macy’s on a shopping expedition to find a new linen jacket, she recommended that our friend (and next-door neighbor) Brenda go with me. Brenda works for a company that makes costumes and suits for Broadway shows. She is a professional shopper, costume-maker, and dresser of people. I felt fortunate to have her along to guide my search.

We met this evening at 5pm in the Manhattan branch of Macy’s. We got home at around 10pm after a second excursion to the Queens Mall branch of the store.

I found my new linen jacket. Sort of. It’s 70% wool, 20% silk, and 10% linen. But it feels right, and it looks right. It was such a great jacket, I actually bought two, so that I would keep one as a spare.

Of course, thanks to Brenda’s expert counsel, I also returned home with a new Ralph Lauren black suit; a DKNY black sportcoat with a subtle black-on-black pinstripe that catches the light beautifully; and two new dress shirts with French cuffs that will necessitate a future purchase of cufflinks (something to help my wife round out her shopping list come Yule.)

I guess I should count myself fortunate that we managed to avoid buying me any new shoes.

Sick Days

It’s funny, the way one’s concept of entitlements changes when one becomes one’s own boss.

When I worked for large companies, I strove to take as few sick days as possible, and never for frivolous purposes. If, however, I awoke one morning and was legitimately sick, I did not hesitate to make proper use of my paid sick leave. I never felt guilty about it; taking a day to recover so that I could return to work as soon as possible made sense.

Now that I am self-employed, however, I detest taking sick days. I think of them as “lost time,” “wasted days” that interfere with my ability to meet my deadlines. Sometimes I try to push through my discomfort and write anyway. Every now and then it works.

Today was not one of those days. I awoke sick to my stomach, my head throbbing with pain. All day I’ve been taking pain relievers and antacids, trying to calm my gut and clear my thoughts enough to work. No dice.

Midnight approaches. I’ll have to accept today as a lost day. And I hate that.

The Glamour of a Writer’s Life

After being up until the wee hours writing, then rousing myself briefly from 6:30am to 7:00am to help my wife get ready for work, I finally rolled out of bed at 10:30am, shaved, and took a shower.

Exciting, I know.

Then I grabbed a quick breakfast of cereal and coffee, after which I hurried out of the apartment. I took the subway into Manhattan and got my hair cut by my usual stylist around 1:00pm. By 1:45pm I was at my publisher’s office, picking up a few early copies of my new novel, The Calling.


To answer those who inquired recently, the cover has a matte finish, which was my preference. I think the book is darned snazzy-looking, and I’m grateful to all who worked to make it so — especially the cover artist, Cliff Nielsen, designer Alan Dingman, headshot photographer Dave Cross, and editors Marco Palmieri and Jennifer Heddle.

Books in hand, I returned to my neighborhood for a dentist’s appointment at 2:45pm. No cavities, no problems — way to go, teeth and gums!

Now I’m home, sorting through the day’s mail and decompressing before I start on this day’s batch of pages.

And I am mildly distracted by the stink of rotting vegetables, which my wife insisted on saving for our neighbor’s compost pile but that are now sitting on our kitchen table and decomposing in the humid summer air.

Ain’t life grand?