Open Wounds

Got Teen Fiction Blog

A Gunslinger Walks Into a Bar…

I’ve got a guest post up on Gotteenfiction today on facing the blank page – a feelings perspective.

Once I was conducting a training of trainers in Dallas on a Cultural Proficiency Course for court and treatment practitioners and a judge got fed up with me asking the process questions, “How did that exercise make you feel?” and “What did you notice about yourself during the exercise?” When I asked, yet again, after another experiential exercise that needed processing these same two questions, he stood up, slapped his hand onto his table, and said, “I don’t care how I feel. I don’t care how you feel. And I’m sick and tired of you asking us that question. And… I noticed that I’m getting more and more irritated when you ask.”

Now he was a judge.

And I was in Dallas.

And let’s remember, I’m a New York, non-practicing Jew.

“So,” I said. “You’ve got some feelings about that.”

Of Rats and Street Crossings

I was on 7th Avenue and 24th Street, just come out of Whole Foods. It was late fall and cool, a breeze ruffling  hair, skirts, jackets, and pant legs. I gazed down at the corner while I stepped off, next to a sewer drain clogged with cups from Smoothie King and Subway, then up at the oncoming traffic. There was a moment then, with a lull in traffic, nobody in sight, though cars down-stream were fading away and cars up-stream were slowly heading our way. I was about to cross when from the center of a manhole cover not ten feet from me, emerged a rat. It was not a mouse, I was sure of it. It was too big, too much haunch and teeth, maybe a full foot long, not including tail.

It squeezed itself out of the impossibly small hole and flopped onto the street surface, gasping.

I stepped back onto the curb instinctually. Nobody else seemed to see it.

It’s leg was smashed to a bloody pulp and it dragged itself a foot or so towards me. It looked at me and whispered, “Edgaaaard. Edgaaaard.” I heard the word from where I stood.

Then it turned toward the oncoming traffic and stared a moment. I saw the cars coming with my peripheral vision. My mouth dropped open. Realization seemed to dawn on the rat and it’s mouth dropped open too. It’s eyes widened. Then it tried to run towards the other side of the road. It should have come towards me. The distance was shorter. Maybe it was panic that made it choose wrong. Maybe it was something else. It could not move fast as its back leg was useless.

The first car ran over it but it still lived. The second car struck it on a low hanging bumper and flipped it into the air. Then a cab hit it and I heard a crunching sound as bones broke. Then the body seemed to disappear.

Pedestrians around me continued to walk and talk around me, heading into Bombay Gardens for lunch or hauling Whole Foods bags full of groceries back to their apartments or jobs. I put on my driving glasses and looked for blood stains from my perch on the curb. There were none. When the light changed I crossed the street but stopped at the manhole cover. There was a small patch of fur next to the opening attached to a strip of flesh. I shivered, shook my head, and went back to work.

I have not forgotten the look on that rat’s face nor the way it emerged from the underground. It’s been five years and I still remember vividly, as if it happened yesterday.

That’s a true story.

All except for the word, Edgard.

I couldn’t help myself. I had to add that in.

If you haven’t read my interview of EJ Patten – From Wargarous to Monocles at Gotteenfiction, check out part IV, the final episode in the four-part series.

Happy Thursday, Edgaaard.

Interview with EJ Patten at GotTeenFiction

If you haven’t had a chance to take a look at my interview of EJ Patten, author of Return to Exile – one of my favorite books of last year. I tried to think of what would make for a different interview and come up with this more in-depth format. I think you’ll like it. EJ is a fascinating writer with some interesting things to say about life, writing, monocles, and wargarous. Here’s some book trailers from his site and a song to my favorite character, Phineas Pimiscule. PS: Book Two. The Legend Thief comes out in the late fall… Oh yeah, he asks me questions too.

The interview is on GotTeenFiction.

Q is for Questions

It’s late and I have had a cold for three days that has masqueraded as an allergy. Don’t you hate when that happens? I’m sitting with a tissue stuck in my nose. If you know me you know that means there is a prodigious tissue in front of my face , just below eye level. They don’t call me The Nose for nothing.


Socrates was a Greek thinker from ancient times, a real smart dude who had a method (the Socratic method) of thinking that has been taken on by teachers worldwide – at least those who believe in having their students listen, think, respond.

Writers are great thinkers. If you write you are exercising your mind – asking questions of the universe great and small. Some through fictional enquiries and some through essays, some through the retelling of what has already happened and placing your perceptual imprint on it.

We ask questions of our selves and of the worlds we create, reflections or mirror images of what we see and perceive around us. I think one of the reasons writing is so hard is because of the amount of thinking required. So much has to live within our minds then get translated into words and placed on paper. It’s easier to let the mind run the way it wants to, harder to rein it in, even harder to make it think.

When my son writes I watch as small light bulbs go on across his forehead, some colored green and purple, others colored bright pink and orange- some the shape of sausages. He’s asking himself questions and answering them for himself, one after the other, maybe even taking a bite or two.

What questions lead you forward when you write?

For a look at the answers to my interview questions for Amalie Howard, author of Bloodspell, take a look at this link and see what colored lights go on around her head.

Guest Post at Got Teen Fiction

Go on over to check out my writing prompt and post on Triffids and Tribbles. Has anyone actually read The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham? My 12th grade English teacher read it out loud to us in a sci/fi writing elective class and I loved it. It’s a classic end of the world story from the 1950’s about walking talking, hungry seven foot tall plants.

Here’s the post: From Triffids to Tribbles