NANO AND THE MUSE

It’s with mixed emotions that I say goodbye to another NaNoWriMo season. On the one hand, I’m delighted to have (realistically) come out of it with about twenty five thousand usable words to build on when edits begin; on the other hand, the intensive energy that went into their creation has spilled over into other WIPs that now SCREAM for attention.

 

It is a happy problem to have. Subjectively, I’m delighted that the muse is so strong; objectively, I’m torn between following them (yes, there is more than one) or putting a lid on it all so that I may clean my house (not pretty after a month of creative).

 

fireIn a previous article punched out on the eve of this year’s effort, I talked about finding inciting incidents—the ones that make us BURN—and following them to a fiery NaNo conclusion. In every sense, this is what happened in 2015, but with one amazing difference: as SHELL GAME began to take shape, kernels of competing ideas—pop scenes—inured to places of NaNo’s past.

 

My sparkling diamonds—pop scenes—invaded mid sentence, forcing treesopen new pages and a flurry of keystrokes. In one instance, an entire scene written in just twenty minutes became the ending without a middle fully realized. Relieved to know where my gem was going, I was interrupted by a pop meme that reminded me of my mandate as both a funeral director and purveyor of fiction. That meme, both bon mot and bête noire, took me to a darker manuscript begun in 2010 that had posed many problems in the ensuing years. Thanks to NaNo, I suddenly (and very unexpectedly) had an answer to questions both structurally and tonally. I can’t wait to get back to it.

 

doggieBut wait! After another shining moment sparked by a week-long stay in a gorgeous part of the country, I found myself smack in the middle of a conundrum. Isolated, without internet connection, devoid of fire pallets (burning stuff helps), and only a large hunting dog for a bed mate (Ah Choo) I had another soul saving 15,000 words to add, but for ANOTHER NaNo, this time begun in 2014.

 

WHAT’S IT ALL MEAN?

 

As much as I can tell, I have a few options before me: 1) finish the NaNo 2015 project at the expense of all others; 2) put this NaNo on the shelf and follow the meme’s and landscapes that call me to NaNo’s past and previous; or, 3) shut this damn laptop down and get some sleep…

 

Or, I could clean my house.

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant, I am

 

A.B. Funkhauser

Lover, NaNoWriMo

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CRIME AND GONZO

It was with unparalleled delight that I met some chapter members at the WCDR Bookapalooza event on November 21st.  I say unparalleled for two reasons: one; the engaging ladies I refer to could not stop grinning at me, which told me I was doing something very right; and two: they somehow saw through my gonzo humor enough to invite me to join the most excellent  Sisters in Crime, Toronto Chapter.

 

What is gonzo and what does that have to do with crime? I’ll tell you. Gonzo is a kind of subversive social commentary created and promoted by the late Hunter S. Thompson (He of ROLLING STONE fame). Geared at shining a light on things we hold dear (and don’t), gonzo’s operate under a basic tenet: characters can say and do things we cannot do in a civilized society AND get away with it!

 

I am the author of two published works, both of which touch on the things I know best: funeral directing and sausage making. As a funeral director that both embalms the dead and assists the living in funeral planning, I have been honored to glimpse a world that very few ever see. Thanks to my immigrant background, I am imbued with a sense of irony that I fiercely hold on to as it is the wellspring for my fiction. I grew up in a household that made bratwurst FROM SCRATCH and favored long ARMED walks in the woods, not because we sought protection from animals, but rather from the hoomans that aspire to behave like animals when not under the watchful eyes of others.

 

Given my history and the imagination it feeds, it came as a logical step that my characters would, at times, do strange things, including engaging in criminal acts, all in the name of what they saw as ‘righteous’ or ‘fitting’.

 

Can anyone really get away with murder anymore? I don’t think so. The scope of forensics being what it is makes it impossible for even the craftiest humans to dispose of evidence completely. The second and most compelling reason, I think, is human nature and its fundamental frailty in the need to confide. We absolutely cannot keep our mouths shut; believing that sharing will somehow justify or at least ameliorate the consequences of our actions.

 

Which is why crime fiction is so much fun! Pair suspension of disbelief with the author’s own commitment to the character on the page and a murder undetected becomes wholly possible.

 

Can a funeral director get away with murder? They’ve tried, and they always get caught. When I meet everyone at the next meeting, I’ll tell you why…

 

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant,

 

I am A.B. Funkhauser

Member, Sisters in Crime, Toronto Chapter

Bailey's Undertaker

WARNING: BIG NEWS DAY WITH SOME GUSHING

solstice publishingIt is with tremendous joy that I announce my second novel SCOOTER NATION has been picked up by SUMMER SOLSTICE for release very, very soon. The second in my UNAPOLOGETIC LIVES series, SCOOTER picks up two years after HEUER LOST AND FOUND. This time, quirky undertakers Scooter Creighton and Carla Moretto Salinger Blue take center stage in a two front battle to take back their street from a marauding gang of scooter bound civil activists and a self absorbed fitness guru. I’d like to thank my amazing EIC Kc Sprayberry​ and Solstice CEO Melissa Miller​ for taking me on for another round. With this kind of validation, I can, quite possibly, write forever. Publishing love from this gonzo writer to one and to all. Happy Friday!!!!!

https://abfunkhauser.com/wip-scooter-nation/

http://solsticepublishing.com/

ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, NANO!!!!!!

LET IT BURN

In the run up to this year’s NaNoWriMo, I’d half expected to struggle, owing to the tedium of a couple of broken bones that limited my ability to roam free range, and the fine line I’d drawn between completion of the sophomore novel and starting another manuscript. Turns out, I didn’t have to worry. Somewhere between draft six, aluminum crutches that skid, and a much anticipated finish line, I locked on to the key ingredient for a successful writing experience—the inciting incident.

For many of us, the grocery store can be a harrowing experience. Years ago my ‘baby on board’ and I were nearly taken out by a grocery cart piloted by a veddy veddy important looking hooman on a cell phone too busy to notice us. When I protested the T-bone collision, its ensuing effect resulting in a twenty degree kant that toppled the produce from my cart and freaked out my heir, the important telephone person suggested that I “bite [her].”

Bite her?

I didn’t want to do that. I had standards and I didn’t care much for pork. What I did have were my big girl words, and it was to these that I turned in the face of profound absurdity. A speech made by the late Sir John Gielglud’s character to Liza Minnelli in the film Arthur (1981) seemed apropos, so I paraphrased, suggesting to the reckless grocery cart operator that one “didn’t often meet such quality in another person outside a holding cell or drunk tank.”

The line—spectacular in its arrogance—had the desired effect, silencing the ‘bite me’ hooman in a way that I hoped would ruin the rest of her very important day. A shining moment to be sure, its effect sparked something remarkable. Getting slammed was leveling, but taking it out on the page? Elevating. I could not do to the offending human what I might have wanted to, but a character certainly could. In that pursuit, I’ve built my philosophy for creating at NaNo Time:

What good is fiction, if fiction cannot roam freely? What better a character than one that can do what we cannot?

Scooter Banner Blurb

“Seltenheit manager Kevin Gustavson had kept the sale secret, such that the transition from heritage building to hole in the ground happened without a single heart attack or lawsuit. For his subservience, Kevin got a timeshare. The others got a payout indexed to inflation. The old embalmer, unimpressed, hanged himself in the garage.”

“Symbols of the old regime, the suit of the undertaker was forbidden to them, as if looking like a mortician was some kind of intolerable offense in the house that Jocasta built. Yet Scooter took no heed of the boss’s orders, tossing his pomegranate colored blazer into the dumpster with a finality that impressed Carla Moretto Salinger Blue. The morning suit he wore, like the cigarette he smoked, was a clear act of defiance as was, she supposed, the firearm he was holding.”

“Anybody who ever worked at B.H. Hoage, Funeral Directors, where Clayton managed in the late Eighties and early Nineties, never forgot him. Whether inflicting time management strategies on the lowliest earthworm or back breaking lady heels on the feminist wedge ‘steam rollering this fine business of ours,’ Clayton left his mark, much like a cat spraying its territory.”

 

—SCOOTER NATION (WIP completed October 21, 2015)

 

 

Rude, inane, maybe even profane, free ranging characters can drive a story farther and faster than their creator ever dreamed possible, especially when the rigorous demands of NaNoWriMo come up from behind.

Generally, I like to mull a NaNo story for a good year in advance of November 1st. Character names like “Zoltan” “Bronaugh” “Poonam” “Gus” and “Carlos the Wunder Katz” are scratched down and stored in a file along with pop scenes as they make themselves known. But what gets the beauty started is that moment THE MOMENT when you know:

Twitter compressed

On October 6, 2015, a letter was received. In it were a set of instructions and a veiled threat. “Dear Home Owner: It has come to our attention that residents have not been cleaning up after their pets. This is particularly true of Saffron Drive where cats have been roaming freely without proper banding and/or licensing.”

The homeowner frowned.

“City bylaws are explicit. Failure to comply shall result in seizure and a fine of up to and including $5,000. All pets seized by the municipality shall be considered forfeit, property to be retained pending appeal or adoption by an appropriate third party.”

Bronaugh Caley scowled.  It was barely past sunrise, the morning air still carrying on it that vaporous layer of moisture from a cool night and above average day time high’s for that time of year. The missive in her hand wrinkled with the wet of it. Plain stock, Helvetica lettered and baring the stamp of the nascent city’s newly minted coat of arms, it was not francked, but hand delivered. Her tax dollars at work.

She crumpled the paper in disgust. The assessors would be out soon to see if they could raise the levy on her addition. Meantime, she could recycle the plain stock paper. What else could she do with it? She didn’t own a goddamned cat.”

—SHELL GAME (WIP NaNoWriMo 2015)

On October 6, 2015, a letter was delivered to my door from municipal animal control. Chilling and vague, the inference contained within was clear: our beloved neighborhood visitor, a black cat of exceptional beauty, had been singled out by city 5-O. A complaint from a single resident has forced this beauty indoors against his nature, forcing his owner and legions of fans to find a proper home for him in the country where cats can be cats.

A story here? I think so. It incited the above paragraphs. I’ll see if it takes me through to the end of November.

What is your inciting incident? Find it and let it burn bright.

Adult, Unapologetic and Cognizant, I am

A.B. Funkhauser

NaNoWriMo 2015

GOOD LUCK ONE AND ALL!