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  • Ethical Aspects of Animal Husbandry
    Ethical Aspects of Animal Husbandry
    by Craig Terlson

    A collection of short stories where the humour runs dark and the slipstream bubbles up.

     

    ...imagine if Raymond Carver called up George Saunders and Joe Lansdale, and they all went drinking with Neil Gaiman.

  • Correction Line
    Correction Line
    by Craig Terlson

    “… it's clear that Terlson is way ahead of the curve in terms of crafting an engaging premise that reaches for elevated territory and reinvents enduring archetypes of action and suspense.”  J. Schoenfelder


    "Sometimes brutal, often demanding and always complex, this novel will repay the reader who likes their assumptions challenged and is happy to walk away from a book with minor questions unanswered but the big ones definitely dealt with! It’s likely to satisfy those who enjoy Hammet and/or Philip K Dick and who like their fiction very noir indeed."   Kay Sexton

     

    "I love a novel that you can't put down, and this is one of them."  L. Cihlar

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Sunday
Apr212019

Up and running... and a teaser

So we are up and running with Bent Highway - I say "we" as a bunch of you either came by and read the first chapter, or just took a look to see what has happening. Either way, I'm glad to have you along for the ride.

The new DC chapters will be coming fairly quick at the beginning - as much as I love revisiting and adding to the story, I am also anxious to get writing the second half.

Here's a teaser for Chapter 2 (Arrow), coming at you mid-week. Drop me a line here or on twitter. Or just wave, I see you out there.

 

Chapter2 - Arrow

 

I don’t know how long I’d been driving. I don’t know how long I’d been doing anything. Time stretched out like a line or cut paper dolls, except there were long gaps of nothingness – somehow the doll chain hunt together, but things disappeared in the space. Things like my memory. Or even my senses.

I was cruising at seventy-five when I came upon the black sedan. The temp gauge needle crept up, but I stared it down and it held it’s position. The sedan looked familiar. Maybe my dad had owned one all those years ago. It shone in that vintage sort of way, the fins as sharp as spears. The sedan flashed its brake lights and I hit mine in reflex. Wait, how did I know that car? My father never drove anything that big. This was from somewhere else.

I was almost tailgating, so I figured I better ease up before we were clinking bumpers. I needed to either get some distance or floor it and pass. A dark shape popped up in the sedan's back seat, filling the rear window. I strained through my bug-splattered windshield. What the hell was that thing? A chalk white face appeared next to black shape, and a pair of bowed lips glowed against a woman's stark skin. The image hit me so hard that I slammed on my brakes. I fishtailed the truck. Even as I spun, I still cranked my head to stare at her face. Those bowed lips swelled to the size of a bleeding watermelon, and I heard them speak aloud, not like a memory, but like she was in the truck cab with me. The words didn't form sentences.

"Black…soft… earth…flesh…green…far."

<<<<>>>>

Chapter 2 - More to come

Saturday
Apr202019

Chapter One - Zippo

 

I clacked open my Zippo and held it under the bent coffee spoon. I curved the diner utensil for maximum impact on the flesh. The blue flame danced. I wasn't  thinking of anything, just following the reflections and the metal turning colours. I glanced at my arm and back to the flame. It was like stepping off the edge of a cliff and then pulling your sneaker back. Or not. Did I have the guts to put hot spoon to bare skin? It was now or never. Here I was speaking to my body, and it gave zero fucks about me. The barely scabbed over gash snaked my forearm like trails of ancient rust across my translucent skin. The gash grinned at me like it was about to break wide open and gush red ants. Fuck it. I was going to cauterize the mother.

Crazy shit like that had been going through my brain for over a month, or maybe longer. Bugs out of cuts, snakes out of my ass. I didn't keep track of these things. For me, time was a dog's breakfast shoved in a blender and spun out like a crazy woman's quilt. I knew it had been at least a year since I first started driving the road. I think I had that part right. But there were no guarantees.

The handle of the spoon warmed in my hand. The heat would make me drop it soon. It was ready. Metal on flesh, I could already smell it. I didn't think about the razor pain that would be slashing through me in three seconds. I had to make damn sure nothing would bust out of there.

"Honey, what in the hell are you about to do?"

I jerked back, slammed my lighter shut, and plunged the spoon into the coffee. I shook my hand, the skin already red from the heat.

"You need a warm up, you just gotta ask."

The waitress was pushing forty-five, but her hair spilled across her shoulders like she could still make them weep at the 7-11. A badge dangled off one of her pointed breasts and shouted at me Dandy Diner, and underneath in a curled script that made me wince, Janine.

She poured the coffee into the cup that held my rocket hot spoon. I swear I could hear metal sizzle when I dunked it into the murky brew – Not that I trusted my senses.

"Good and hot now. Anything else?" she asked.

I shook my head. I waited for her to say something about somebody having a rough night or some other corn-pone inquiry – you out slamming cougars against the rose bushes again? I shouldn't be hard on poor Janine. She probably had herself a trailer park boyfriend with a pack of cigs rolled up his sleeve, a tattoo that said bitchin' and a piece of shit car that he treated better than her. What the fuck did I know?

Here's the thing: between the black patches of my so-called memory and the pictures in my head that were soaked in fluorescent dye, I couldn't tell if I had had a rough night, week, month or life. Now how in the Christ have mercy was I supposed to tell Janine that?

I sipped my coffee and considered that I'd finally lost it, checked into that faraway hotel in the sky, which was a helluva lot worse than the one in California, and a damn sight harder to check out of.

I finished the last greasy egg before it slid off my plate, and guzzled the coffee. My body and mind ached bad enough for it to be a hangover. I had some shady back alley memories of downing a bottle of something. But where the hell did that cut come from? That was one big-ass scab – good thing it healed so quick. Overnight, I guess. Or in minutes. An image flashed through me of a dark animal with yellow teeth, snarling and snapping and then a flash of silver. Then it was gone. My brain leaked hallucinations.

I paid and left. My truck was still parked in front of my room at Dave's Lucky 7. This morning I had walked across to the Dandy after I woke staring up into the ceiling fan. Watching the blades going round and round, I thought, damn, that's my life right there. I needed to do something. I thought the same exact thing when I left my job as a used car washer, which was after I left the job as the clean-up guy at the Burger Pit, right after I left being the ass manager at the hardware store. That's what everyone called it, the ass manager, no abbreviation needed or implied. It was a big joke around there. Larry in plumbing said you gotta laugh at something or one day you're going take a #4 titanium large bore Phillips screwdriver and gouge your eyeballs out. Larry was one of the cheerier employees. I woke up one morning to the thought of being thirty-three and not amounting to a damn. Each job I'd taken was lower in the evolutionary career chain. Soon, I'd be begging to be the poop scooper in the Shriner parades. I had to do something to kill this boredom before it took my soul, my being, my everlasting sense of whoever the hell I was and flushed it down the crapper – probably one sold by Larry.

That's when I got in the half-ton and started driving.

It was fun at first, drifting around, a few changes of clothes in a red vinyl suitcase, a couple of books to read if the motel satellite wasn't showing anything juicy. I had a few bucks saved up from the shit jobs. I didn't need much. That's what I told Harold, the only guy that even came close to the friend category.

"So you're taking off, just like that?" he asked.

Harold took a slurp out of his lime Big Gulp. I swear he went through three of those a day and had the acne to prove it.

"You gotta job somewhere else, M.?" Harold shortened everything.

"Nope. Just leaving."

"Alright then. Stay between the lines."

Pretty damn tearful farewell. That was a year ago, right, I knew that at least. Before the black-outs started happening I even knew the month, and ran about fifty percent on the day of the week.

Today the whole calendar was an arctic white.

<<<<>>>> 

 

 

 

 

 

New Chapters of Bent Highway will appear weekly (or more) at this blog. Please, comment, share, or give a shout on twitter.

 

Friday
Apr192019

It's back - the return of Bent Highway

So, I've been in a bit of a writerly funk lately. If you're a writer, you've been there too. It isn't what I'd call writer's block - it's more like I can't write because I don't want to. The words have been dripping out of my brain like something that drips out slowly. Honey? Molasses? Cold blood?

You get the picture.

So I have decided to re-launch something... something I started quite some time ago and always meant to finish. Yep, Bent Highway is coming back.

When I first launched this serialized novella to the world, it was a bit of an experiment. I posted chapters weekly here at woofreakinhoo, and wondered if anyone would read it.
At its height (depth? width? whatever), it was pulling 2000 readers a month.

Recently, as in just today, I was reminded that some people really liked this thing. And a twitter friend (one of the very few to review it) kinda inspired me to return to the story of M.

Now - for those of you who have read part one (you can grab the whole deal on Amazon) - BUT you should know 2 things.
1. I am going to be editing, and adding things as I post those chapters again. So there will be new things to read. Think of it as a director's cut.

2. I am going to continue the story and write part 2. Yep. You heard right... part 2.

So to end this post, I'll give some of the backstory. And then I will launch into posting weekly (director's cut) version of the Part One.
News about Part 2 will be forthcoming.

 

Bent Highway

Here is a bit of the backstory.

The story of a man unleashed in time has always appealed to me – maybe echoes of Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, where Billy Pilgrim was unstuck in time. Maybe it is my rebellion against telling linear stories - I've never been much interested in the storyline where B follows A, and then comes C (etc.).

For me, life is not like that. Memories, some vivid, some blurred at the edges, some downright obscure, all fill my head. Combine with that my general love of a good road book (see Correction Line), and I came up with the story of M, a man where time has become unhinged. 

What if time did not flow like a river, but bent like a highway?

This has been the undercurrent of the story. True, rivers do bend as well (and some highways are damn straight), but if you have taken a corner at about 80 mph (about 130 kph) and felt the wheels hugging the asphalt and the wind pushing the hood - well, maybe you know what I am talking about.

M has escaped from his linear life, and met a woman he knows as chalk girl, or sometimes by her initial "L". She shows him a different way to escape and introduces him to Walt, a giant of a man who knows how to straddle time. For M this means getting bit by a large wolfhound, and having a knife stuck in him periodically. It also involves a lot of Tequila.

Let's get this fucker started.

 

Tuesday
Feb122019

Dormancy

Time to fire up the old blog machine again - it's been dormant too long.

I'd be curious to know what you might want to read here. I am open to suggestions, here are some possibilities:


Publishing tales - traditional and self-pub - agents and all that stuff

Writer's craft - just how do I write that suspense scene?

Book review stuff - writers I like

Excerpts of my work - old, new, something borrowed, something blue

Drop me a comment, or send me a note on twitter. I'll see if I can crawl out of my dormant place.

And btw, there's 10 years of posts here if you just want to knock around. 

Wednesday
Jul252018

A conversation on James Lee Burke

A few years back—I think it was years—I struck up a conversation with a writer from New York, Mark Conard, which turned into a friendship. We joke that the two of us are across-the-border dopplegangers, as we have so much in common. It is uncanny at times.

We've shared work back and forth, as well as introduced each other to writers that inspire us. One of those was the great literary crime writer, James Lee Burke. 
Mark put one of our conversations into a wonderful blog entry.

Here is the start of that conversation. Click the link below to read the whole interchange: 

A Conversation about James Lee Burke

Burke

James Lee Burke

I invited my friend and fellow writer, Craig Terlson, to have a conversation about James Lee Burke, a fine crime/suspense author with a substantial body of work. Burke has sold a ton of books, but he’s lesser known than giants like Elmore Leonard, Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy, or Michael Connelly, but when he’s firing on all cylinders Burke’s writing ranks with the best of them.

Burke is from the Texas-Louisiana gulf coast area, which shows in his writing. He’s written nearly forty books. Most of them feature former cop and occasional detective Dave Robicheaux. He’s also written a handful of novels concerning the Holland family, including four about Billy Bob Holland and four featuring Billy Bob’s cousin Hackberry Holland. Burke has won several Edgar awards and was nominated for a Pulitzer.

CraigTerlson.web.headshotThe Awesome Craig Terlson

It was Craig who first introduced me to Burke, when he recommended Black Cherry Blues, a Dave Robicheaux novel. Now, Craig is like my Canadian doppelganger: we both write crime/suspense fiction, appreciate all things noir, love and play the blues, adore good food, wine and an occasional bourbon. Craig’s excellent Fall in One Day was released a year ago by Blue Moon Publishers. Set in 1973 during the Watergate hearings, the story concerns fifteen-year-old Joe Beck, who takes it upon himself to locate a missing friend. It’s a great read, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

MC: So, Craig, let me start this off by asking why you first recommended to me Black Cherry Blues? Why that particular book?

CT: Because I wanted to turn you onto Dr. Pepper. (Robicheaux’s favourite beverage.) Okay… some years ago I was told that some of my work had echoes of James Lee Burke in it. This was before I had even read him. I was told to start with Black Cherry Blues by another writer, whose name I forget. I didn’t read much crime fiction at the time and was more into the literary genre—not realizing that’s really what Burke writes. Anyway, I still remember reading it in bed, and my wife seeing the lurid cover, saying, “That’s not the sort of book you usually read.” But I knew that cover aside, this was a whole ‘nother take on the crime fiction genre. The prose was lyrical, poetic even, the structure complex, the main character haunted, and it was a just a damn fine book. I recommended it first to you because it was where I started.

MC: Well, I loved the book. I was a bit startled when I read it that I hadn’t heard of Burke before. It was like discovering Scorsese or Hendrix for the first time: I really should have known about this guy! Anyway, “poetic” and “lyrical” are good adjectives. There’s a richness to Burke’s writing: His descriptions are so full and evocative, I was captivated from page one. Plus, as you suggest, his characters are three-dimensional. They’re living, breathing people you care about. Now, just to get this out of the way, you and I have discussed some weakness in Burke’s writing. Can you elaborate on that?

Read the whole conversation at Mark's Blog