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Wednesday, December 12, 2012


A good friend and writer, Dannie Woodard, has tagged me for this week’s blog hop interview. She is writing a story that she started four years ago and has said more than once that it was finished, but she's still working on it, which I identify with as I started on my own book a couple of years ago and perhaps I am through about 2/3 of the first draft!

Anyway, this blog hop is an interview with me and it's incumbent upon me to tag someone else for next week. Following the blog hop rules, you’ll find my answers to a few questions about my current work in progress below.

What is the working title of your book?

A Life On Fire

Where did the idea come from for the book?

This is a work of fiction based somewhat on facts of incidents in my personal life and from more than 38 years as a Southern California wildland firefighter.

What genre does your book fall under?

Hmmm... good question. As I write it, it has become a bit of a thriller.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Boy, I've not had a chance to even think that far ahead. Let me get it published first!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The tough life and times of a Southern California wildland firefighter who was abused as a boy.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I have an agent interested, hopefully that will work out.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Two-an-a-half years so far... still drafting!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Think Prince Of Tides meets Backdraft in a wildland fire organization.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

This book was completely inspired by myself and things I lived and experienced in my life.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

I'm still keeping the book and its intimate premise close to my chest. I will say however, that no one has written a book like this about a wildland firefighter and the uniquely dangerous work performed by them, especially as portrayed in this very interesting and intimate look into issues that happen to young men but are rarely spoken of. Enough for now. More about this in the future.

Thanks for checking out my blog and taking the time to hear about my book!

Friday, February 10, 2012


you almost died
at the hands of those
whose job it is
to make sure
our world has only
those dogs
that are desired
i almost let you go myself
after i “rescued” you

you were so hard
to have here
in my peaceful home
so hard
i almost gave you back to them
i’m pleased to know
i didn’t have the heart
to do it

one day you will die
and i will cry
will you cry
if i die first?

Monday, September 19, 2011


on the counter in my kitchen
sits a salt cellar
with a large open mouth
yawning out its side
crafted perfectly
to keep the salt from caking
in damp climates

it was thrown by a potter
now gone from this world
an englishman
who’d retired to the french countryside
in the dordogne
with his partner
who kept the house
and cooked their meals

their house was a simple place
but with special touches of artistry
in unexpected places
in harmony with
the provincial feel of the carpentry
which the house had been built

the rear of the house
overlooked a green river valley
and had a large wooden porch
under branchwood cover
where ewart turned his wheel
shaped his clay
and glazed his work

down the grassy path
not fifty steps
from the house
past a bicycle
a rusted green wheelbarrow
and a pen full of geese
perched on a small promontory
sat an old shack
whose wood had worn grey

a step inside the one darkened room
the flick of a switch
and the gallery came to life
from the spotlighted ceiling
a treasure-filled art house
with collections and samples of stoneware
in subdued greys, blues and stark white
scattered out on fine tables and sideboards
of walnut and cherry

on the walls above them
hung colorful landscapes
of french vistas painted
by ewart’s lover
who was a mystery to me
for he kept himself busy
and popped his head out only
to say hello
and goodbye

of all the fine art
held captive in that room
the piece that spoke to me
was the muted grey salt cellar
speckled with blue and darker grey
for it was the time
when i was in culinary school
in saussignac

the last time i saw him
we sat on that perfect porch
ate perfect cherries
and sipped perfect armagnac
from rejected clay cups without handles
and talked of anything that came to our minds

we watched as a thunderstorm came
lofting across the valley
and enveloped us
no one spoke a word
until the rain stopped
ewart said it was a fine wet rain
and poured us more drink

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Finnegan, begin again...

So this week I resumed writing my novel "A Life On Fire". I stopped writing on July 13. I know this because that is the last upload to my Google Docs backup. I was feeling in a real funk about the book and writing in general. I agonized over it for only a few days, then my little buddha told me to accept it, let it cool, take a break. So I did. I decided to take a summer hiatus.

After labor Day, I was beginning to agonize over it once again, knowing that I didn't have summertime as an excuse any longer. So on Monday, I sat at my computer and wondered where to start. I began to wander a bit, so I decided to look in here on my blog, which I also hadn't attended to all summer. There on the page were my three muses, Sylvia Beach, Natalie Goldberg and Wilma McDaniel. I could hear Nat imploring me: "Get pen and paper, go with first thoughts and WRITE!" The other two just smiled at me with the smirks of two knowing friends, as if to indicate "there's nothing more to say"!

So I did. Just like that. Just like I'd known that's what I needed to do all along.

I wrote first about why I was having negative feelings about my writings. Through that process, though I started with a foggy angst, the answers came spilling out on the page. When I'd finished this free-writing exercise, I had a clear idea of what I needed to do. Write character sketches, completely. Write in my own words what the story is about. And now it is coming to me once again. I feel refreshed, powerful and with renewed fervor for this book and where it needs to go.

I reckon I'll just keep doing that.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

three muses

what a fortunate man
to have three muses
of the highest order
to inspire me
and chide me
and drive me
when i am lost

who instructs me
in literary fidelity
"pour your heart into your work
day in and day out
and believe"

natalie goldberg
provides water for my thirst
"give yourself permission
to write the worst junk in the world
and do not worry
for what is important
is to write"

and wilma mcdaniel
who tells me
"write what you are
and apologize to no one
including yourself"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


the last time i’d seen him
he was whipping away
at the new summer grass
tall and heavy
where it always came
on the north side of our property
mrs. gould’s cows
standing at the fence
waiting for him
to toss over
the next bunch
of new mown hay
he was talking to them
like he was standing on the stump
pitching his spiel
for the upcoming election

croghan always came
at the end of spring
looking for work
me mam would employ him
and feed him
i never knew if it was his first name or his last
it was always just

i could never remember
a birthday without him
he would always pretend
he had nothing for me
after a fine meal of boxty and cod
and mother’s fine treacle cake
he’d search his
long woolen coat
and out would come
a hand-whittled penny whistle
or perfect wooden canon
i could hold in my hand

the best thing about him
was not that he could
chop or paint
or carve the finest of toys
it was his true vocation
official appointment
as the seanchaĆ­
of ballybunion
and every town
east and west

he sat at our table
on long rainy nights
recounted the stories
of all that i was related to
and some that i wasn’t
of mayors and fishers
swimmers and thiefs
had us laughing and crying
and singing old songs
and i never knew
he was not
a member of our family

he’d leave in the fall
when the barn was painted
the hay was mown
drain pipes repaired
and fences mended
i never quite knew
where he went
my mam would just say
he’s gone, sonny
he’ll be back in the spring

last year
april had come
then may and june
i nearly got me hand slapped
for asking so often
when he’d come
then came the day
i saw me da
whipping the hay
and not talking to the cows
nor feeding them
it scared me so
i asked no more

my birthday came on a thursday
the mood was not high
even though
uncle alan and aunt sheelagh
had come all the way up
from allihies
and gave me
the sleek new sailboat
with the radio control
mrs. gould’d brought
the fine setter puppy
i’d been wanting for months
the house felt empty
amid all the craigh

after we’d eaten the treacle
ma gathered us
‘round the crackling bright fire
at the hearth
da brought
two drams of jamesons
one for himself
set the other one down
at the table
in front of the empty chair
where he’d sit and tell stories
of the world

raising his glass
my father choked out the words
through the only tears
i’d ever seen in his eyes
“god bless croghan”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

world in a pram

one of the things
i don’t remember
is having been
pushed in a pram
by my mother
or father

was i ever
talked to
with such
while someone
pointed out
the scenery
as it passed by

did i fall
fast asleep
from the length
of the day
the rattle of the wheels
rumbling beneath me
like a passenger
on the train
from paris to brest

i wonder
if someone
would push me in one