Well, as promised (threatened), I’m happy to make you all aware of the publication of my story, Biggest Fan, in the spring issue of cahoodaloodaling, an online literary magazine. Online! That means read for free, my friends. The story gives us a view into a day in the life of Trey Bulloch, a returned Afghan war vet dealing with modern American society and serious PTSD. He’s a pretty interesting guy, I think. So, if you’d care to give the story a look, here’s the link:
Just click on “Open Issue,” and my story is listed about half way down the list. I also encourage you to check out the other poems and short stories. Some really good and interesting writing. See what you think, and have a great day.
I am thrilled and delighted to announce that Rogue Phoenix Press, the house that published my novel, Difficult Lies, just offered me a contract to print a collection of my short stories. The title of the collection is Girlfriending, which is the title of one of the stories in the collection. Over twenty stories will be included. All of them involve human romantic relationships. Some are fewer than 1,000 words, some are close to 7,000. Some are funny. A few are quirky. Some are sad. All of them explore interpersonal relationships. I am very proud of these stories, some of which have been published; though many are stories that are trapped in my computer. Until now. I think you will enjoy them. We are in the very preliminary stages of getting the manuscript formatted, edited, and the cover art chosen, so the release date will be sometime in 2017. It will be offered in both ebook and paperback formats. I, of course (you know me), will keep you informed.
Christopher T. Werkman
38 mins ·
Yes friends, it’s once again time for me to shamelessly shill for one of my short stories, a great piece in which a college student learns an important lesson about life from his summer job. It’s called Clocking Out, and it will be included in an anthology of time-themed stories entitled It’s About Time. This anthology will be published in November. If you order it now, the cost is $8.50, a savings of nearly 50% over it’s published cost of $15.95. You will receive it in November, just in time for Christmas/Chanukah gift-giving. If you’ve been very good, you can gift one to yourself. To secure a copy now at the pre-publication price, go here: http://mainstreetragbookstore.com/?product=its-about-time .
And by the way, for those of you who read (and enjoyed, I hope) Difficult Lies, Main Street published an anthology of stories a year or two ago entitled Voices From the Porch, in which I had a story, Coming to Terms. It chronicles Roxanne’s first meeting with Vic from Roxanne’s point of view. I believe you’ll like experiencing things from Roxanne’s perspective. Voices From the Porch is still available at the discounted price of $12.50 on Main Street’s site: http://mainstreetragbookstore.com/ .
Just click on shop, and follow the dropdown to anthology. Voices From the Porch is on the second page.
It’s been way too long since I blogged. Comes down to the fact that I’d rather spend writing time working on stories. But when I bought a booth at The Toledo Golf Show last February, something occurred numerous times that made me shake my head.
Now granted, it turned out the show wasn’t the best venue for a bookseller. People came to buy golf equipment and look for bargains and giveaways, not to buy a novel. As I recall, I sold about fourteen books at the show, and a few people said they would go to Amazon and buy the kindle version.
But close to a dozen or so people took the time to stop and ask about the book, pick it up and look at it, but eventually said they didn’t read. “I haven’t read a book since high school,” one man my age proudly proclaimed, grinning broadly. I grabbed the copy he was holding from him and said, “Geeze, don’t risk breaking your record now.” His grin widened.
I watch (too much) TV. I love movies. But there is nothing like reading. Reading is participative. I look at patterns of squiggles someone arranged on a page and pictures form in my mind. They are my images, based on what the organization of someone else’s symbols causes to blossom in my brain. The only thing I enjoy more than this magical process is creating imagery in the minds of others. I paint pictures in the heads of other humans. The really cool part is, every picture is different because every mind is different. The fundamentals are prescribed by the information I put on the page, but the details are envisioned individually based on the personal experience of the reader. How incredible!
My immediate reaction was to look down on those who said they didn’t read. Upon reflection, I feel sorry them. They miss out on a miraculous process that readers enjoy.
Go read something. Better yet, go write something. I’ll read it. I’m eager to make my mind your canvas.
The end of last week, we got a windless day and we burned summer.
We have an area surrounded by the circle our driveway forms at the house, and Karen planted a native prairie in the rounded plot. Everything that grows there is native to the area, so it never requires watering or care from us. Compass plants. Various flowers that I don’t know the names of, but they are pretty as they progress from knee-high to, in some cases, flowering plants that tower over me. In September they go to seed. They begin to brown off, and by October, you have to really search to see any color outside the realm of ocher, sienna, and umber. Karen insisted on doing the cutting and raking alone. It’s almost a religious thing for her, I believe. Reaping at the growing season’s end. Preparing for the dead of winter by forming a pyre comprised by the dead of the growing season. It’s hard work, but she waved off my offers of assistance.
It’s been dry here. A mini-drought. We needed to have a day with little wind to safely cremate the copse of summer. We got one with only a soft breeze from the south, so with a couple extinguishers and a charged hose for emergency backup, we primed the fire on the north end of the pile and stood back.
In fewer than thirty minutes, the destruction was complete. Summer was gone. Reduced to ash and smoke that wafted into the brilliant fall sky, along with memories of the beauty that was gone until …
… next year. I look out now at the ground where the burning took place, and I can’t help but ponder the difference between the life cycle of annual plants as contrasted with the cycle of human life. The native prairie is denuded soil, but it will return to its former glory by next June.
An aging man stands and pledges to be present to witness its rebirth. With a nod to the reality of being a human north of sixty years,
In casual ‘out with your buddies’ golf, Mulligans, or do-overs, are sometimes given (or taken, LOL). Obviously, this isn’t done in professional golf, or in money games like Vic plays in Difficult Lies. But when the game is just a friendly collection of men and/or women who are out for fun, a Mulligan allows the average player to trim a stroke or two and feel better about their game on the drive home.
A Mulligan in golf is pretty meaningless. The lower score doesn’t mean you are a better player. Everyone knows the score benefited through a bending of the rules. It is a temporary softening of the hard, cold and inflexible rules of a very difficult game.
Sometimes we are granted Mulligans in our everyday life. The ‘Mully” could come in the form of an early diagnosis and a successful medical treatment. It could come in the form of some great stroke of luck. The number and kinds of things in a life that could be considered Mulligans are limitless. Of course, many are wished for and denied, but we have all been granted Mullys in life. Unlike in golf, Mulligans in life are very meaningful.
In Difficult Lies, Vic gets a Mully of sorts. He can’t replay the six months that his story in the novel covers, but he finds himself in a position to benefit from recognizing and learning from his mistakes, and to move on with the rest of his life as a better person.
That’s a Mulligan, in the largest sense of the word. And it’s something to consider the next time a Mully is granted. I wish you all an important Mulligan the next time you need one.
Back in the 1980s, a friend and I used to pick categories and compete to pick the best choice for a name or thing that fit. The category might be “best name for a grunge rock group,” or “best name for a high performance sports car,” etc. We would drink a beer and toss our best guesses at each other. Fun.
One day we decided on “best name for a country western singer.” After several tries and a lot of laughs, I came up with Bascolm Traskett.
I never felt I got the right name. Christopher. Chris. Maybe it was because my name wasn’t popular for boys in the 1950s. The only Chris people I knew, other than me, were female. I don’t know. I never had a name in mind that I wanted, I just never felt Chris should be my name.
The upshot is, names are very important to me when I write a story. Sometimes I change names multiple times until I believe each character got the correct one. In Difficult Lies, Bascolm Traskett became a New York state highway patrolman who finds himself in a coma with Allan Vickery, my protagonist. Bascolm is a very important character, even though his major presence is in the first quarter, if that, of the novel. He teaches ‘Vic’ how to hit a golf ball properly, and that knowledge fuels the rest of the story.
I’m thankful I wasn’t a child of Frank Zappa’s. Chris never felt right, but it’s so much preferable to Dweezle.
Difficult Lies began its journey to publication in about (allow for some fog in the memory) 1993. I know that’s very close, if not spot on. I was committed to painting back then, and though I always loved to write fiction and poetry, I kept the idea of writing in my back pocket as something that might keep me from suicide if I went blind and couldn’t paint.
It was in the early ‘90s that, in the Toledo area, realist painting began to temporarily fall out of favor. I recall that another realist painter friend and I didn’t get in a local show in which we were normally accepted. We went to the show’s opening and stood in front of a very nice abstract painting. He turned to me and said something to the effect that we better learn to paint purple dogs.
I had an Apple II computer back then. I was behind the curve with new technology, and the only thing I used it for was to play an early computer game called Hellcats Over the Pacific. I was addicted, and spent more time than I should have, dog fighting with Japanese Zeroes at night.
I have always loved the game of golf a lot more than it loves me. I also began to fantasize about what it would be like for a normal guy, a hacker like myself, to suddenly become very good at the game. What could be the effect? Would the man’s life change? Would he be able to maintain his relationships? His occupation? His goals? And how might this change in his ability as a golfer believably occur?
One night, instead of Hellcats, I decided to start writing to see what might happen to this fictional man. I remember thinking that within fifteen minutes, I’d know if I was wasting my time.
Twenty-two years later, after stacks of revisions, literary detours, piles of rejections, and lots of self-doubt, Difficult Lies is now published by one of the many fine, fearless small presses who are willing to take a risk on an unknown author. My bucket list had one entry—don’t die with the novel stuck in my computer. Just took my pulse. Yep. Still here.
Christopher Werkman is a fiction writer and artist. He holds an MA in art education and taught for 30 years at Whitmer High School in Toledo, Ohio, and nine years as an adjunct art instructor at the University of Toledo. Christopher has designed covers for three published novels and a short story collection. A native of Ohio, he currently lives on a few acres outside Haskins with his partner, Karen, and their cats. When he isn’t writing or painting, he enjoys playing too much golf and tennis, and rides his motorcycle anytime there is sufficient traction. Werkman has published numerous short stories. Difficult Lies is his first novel.
Is Allan Vickery alive or dead?
After being hit on the head by a golf ball, Vic himself isn’t certain. It turns out he’s comatose and what he learns while unconscious is life-changing when he awakens.
A man in mid-life crisis . . .
Struggling to keep his faltering marriage alive while attempting to become a recognized painter and still succeed at teaching high school art, his new ability becomes a volatile accelerant for issues that merely smoldered in the past.
In the resulting inferno . . .
Vic finds passion in the arms of a lover and riches in the world of high-stakes golf matches. Whether you know the game or not, you will be gripped by Vic’s quest to answer the question . . .
How do you endure getting everything you wished for?