Monday, October 31, 2011

Now That's Scary

by Elizabeth

There are some guys who can put on a tiara and still look good. Jamie Ford, Keith Cronin--these guys can pull it off, and that's why they got the chance to be Women for a day here on the blog.

One of my favorite things about this writing journey has been the people I've met along the way. The ladies here, of course. But also people from conferences, from The Writer's Guild of Texas, writers from signings and from here on the blog.

When I was first getting serious about this whole writing gig, shoring up the courage to stab my thumb at my chest and use the word 'writer,' The Lesser North Texas Writers were a source of incredible help and education. For one thing, it's where I met Joan and through her became a part of this group. That first night, she and I clicked, and that was a tremendous gift. What has always been so interesting to me, though, is that we were usually the only two there writing our kind of stuff. And yet I got so so much help from folks there who wrote in genres I didn't even read. And in many cases, they weren't likely readers of my work, either. But I enjoyed their stories so much, not to mention their company, and I had no idea then that one day I'd love to see a tiara on them. Except they'd look ridiculous.

But it's Halloween. It might be a costume only, but there's no other day in the year when I could stick a tiara on these boys and not get slugged. It's Halloween, so let's get spooky.

Take Anthony Miller. Let's just say it's a good thing he's the father of boys, because if he had to play tea party, things could get wicked. Which is appropriate, because his book is all about Satan. On whom one does not perch headgear. Getting to read and critique What Would Satan Do? in draft form was a hilarious privilege. Many times I begged him to let me bring home a copy of his night's reading so I could share it with my husband (who is a prodigious reader, but not a writer, and who would definitely never wear a tiara if he were). And when Anthony let me know his book was available on Kindle, I just wondered how we were going to keep the 13-year-old from reading it too. (I'm assuming Anthony's kids won't be permitted to read Daddy's book until college, either. Definitely not rated PG-13.) If you like to laugh and don't mind a little gore with your giggle, this is definitely a book to get. Just put away your stilettos while you read this one, or someone could get stabbed.

Another Lesser who wouldn't be caught dead near pink is Bill Lee. The first night I met Bill, I read a story I'd begun about a girl who was raised in a cult. When I finished my nine or ten pages, he stared at me with a look that must have reduced more than one Marine recruit to tears during his twenty years in the service. "I'm very offended," he said, and I think the milk in my coffee curdled. But then he grinned, and I was in on the joke, too. In his wonderful gruff voice, he complimented my story and writing. Still, even now I'm never quite sure what Bill is thinking, even when I run into him having dinner at the clubhouse he shares with my in-laws. (A real treat was seeing him perform in community theater with my mother-in-law; his acting chops from that first night were on good display on stage last spring.) What I do know, though, is that the man's voice comes through in every word he writes. He's got a couple of books out, and if you like things military or know someone who does, or if you just want to hear one of the saltiest writing voices out there, Bill Lee is for you.

And then there's Bill Francis, who I hope won't get mad if I say comes closest to not looking ridiculous in frippery. He's definitely a guy writer, but sometimes when he'd read pages, he nailed the female voice with scary precision. She was just usually naked or in peril, which is what makes him more leather-collar than pink-boa. Bill also did a good job of acting like a girl when it came to writerly confidence; one of the most talented writers I've ever read, I'm not sure he knows, even now, how extraordinarily gifted he is. Hopefully his publication in an upcoming anthology will help convince him how awesome he is, and spur him to finish up the collection of stories that I cannot wait to see in hard copy. The guy is that good. You should read him.

There are others there, too, Jeb and Robert and Philip--not a one of them a guy I would ever stick sparkle on. But they've helped me shine my work, and even if it's scary to picture them with flowers, I'd love to give them all a bouquet, even if it's wilted and black. They like it that way.


  1. Great post--those guys are terrific! Can still hear their voices! I own two of Bill Lee's, just bought WWSD (I critiqued only part of it at Lessers) and pre-ordered the collection featuring Bill Francis.

  2. Elizabeth, well said. I wouldn't want to be the one to insist on a tiara for any of these men, but agree that one would look good on them, if only metaphorically.

    Bill Lee has a new book out, Home is a Long Time Ago (Sunbury Press), a love story. He's working on a new manuscript. The gist of this one is, don't kill his girl, or you will spill guts you didn't know you had--then you die.

    Jeb, his vocabulary on super-steroids, has created yet another other-world, full of duplicity, color, and sound.

    As long as we're focusing on the men from the Lessers, meet Ray, Carl, Hunter, and Gerardo--and listen to their eclectic mix of stories.

    Incidentally, the Lessers turned 24 in October. Many faces, several meeting locations, one focus.

    Joan, I'm glad to hear you're collecting Lessers' books. I have a shelf dedicated to just that, and plan to expand that to the entire bookcase as time goes on (hint, hint--there will be room for your books).

    Carol Woods, Benign Dictator of Lesser North Texas Writers

  3. Carol, thanks for the update on the Lessers, and congratulations on the group's birthday. What an extraordinary run--there could well be a book in that alone. Great to hear there is wonderful and talented new blood there these days; that's no doubt what has kept the group going strong so long. And I hope there's space on that shelf for me, too. I'd love to be in that company.

  4. Elizabeth, of course there's space for your books. How else can I fill an entire bookcase?

    You're right about new blood--the blessing and challenge of an open critique group.



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