Fleas, monkeys, and the box

fleas, monkeys and the box

Zig Ziglar told the story of how to train a flea. If you put a bunch of fleas in a glass jar with a lid on it, Zig said, the little critters will jump as high as they can, which usually involves banging against the lid.

Naturally banging against the lid is not a pleasant experience, so the fleas eventually will jump only as high as they can without slamming the ceiling. After a while you can remove the lid but the fleas will not escape the jar, because they have learned from experience not to jump as high as they can. Continue reading Fleas, monkeys, and the box

The end of the opening scene

My beautiful picture

(Picking up where I left off)

She snorted in derision. “Nice try, Hank,” she said, leaning on my name like we were kids on the playground and Hank was the dumbest name on the planet. “No, it’s a coin – a commemorative coin. I need to snatch the coin and replace it with a counterfeit.”

Now we were getting somewhere. She knew I could make the coin and make the switch.

“Do you have photos of this coin?” I asked. Continue reading The end of the opening scene

A partial opening scene


(Sometimes you sit down to improvise a story and nothing comes out. Sometimes a story comes out, and sometimes a beginning or an end. Thursday morning, I sat down to improvise and my fingers gave me a beginning …)

In those days before the huge starships, in those days when everything everywhere whirred and hummed and sang and rattled and chirped – in those days before the wasteland was wasted and “the homeland” was a phrase used by long-ago tyrants …

A walker walked alone. From this distance it was hard to tell if it was a man or a woman, but the walker was walking this way, so I waited and, sure enough, as she grew closer her walking clothes revealed the form of a woman – a trim woman with trim breasts and trim hips and medium-length hair under a baseball cap. Blonde. Blue eyes. The kind of face and body men tended to appreciate, but holding herself with an air that said she didn’t care if I appreciated how she looked, this was how she looked and that’s that, end of conversation.

But then she started a conversation.

“Are you Hank Stiller?”

“I might be,” I said. “You are –?”

“Someone who’s looking for Hank Stiller,” she said. “If you’re Hank, I have a proposition for you. If you’re not, then maybe you can tell me where I can find him.” Continue reading A partial opening scene


youve got to get up

You’ve got to get up every morning

with a smile on your face

and show the world all the love in your heart,

and then people gonna treat you better.

You’re going to find – yes, you will! –

that you’re beautiful as you feel.

(Carole King)

The rebirth of Myke Phoenix

Myke Phoenix Novelettes

The “director’s cut” is done. And here’s a new freebie for you.

For the past four months or so, I have been (for the most part) quietly repackaging and rebooting the Myke Phoenix Novelettes into what I am aribitrarily declaring their final form. Let’s face it, from now until my last breath I could constantly tinker around the edges, add deleted scenes, and update the special effects ad nauseum, but at some point you move on. Continue reading The rebirth of Myke Phoenix

Pooka wisdom

Willow laughs.JPG

Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say,

“In this world, Elwood, you must be …

She always called me Elwood …

In this world, Elwood, you must be oh, so smart,

or oh, so pleasant.”

Well, for years I was smart.

I recommend pleasant.

And you may quote me.

Elwood P. Dowd
from “Harvey”


Conquer the fear of finishing


Unfinished symphonies – novels left hanging – at least the famous ones had death as an excuse.

What’s keeping you from finishing? Fear of completion? Is that a thing? It may just be, given how many people never finish their Great American Novel or The Big Project or … fill in your blank.

Fear that when this is done, you’ll have exhausted all your ideas? Fear that if it’s as good as you think it could be, more will be expected of you? Well. of course it will be.

Life is a series of encounters where the first question is, “What have you been up to lately?” It’s useful to have an answer.