low-brow mind candy

Okay, I’ve cleaned the pantry, mopped the kitchen floor, and gotten my head screwed back on halfway straight. Time to pull ye old manuscript out of the drawer and dive back in. Buck has shown me up big time in the completing a manuscript department. He completed the first draft of his novel on Christmas Day, and we’re talking words, baby, somewhere around 225,000. I ought to know, ’cause my classically trained fingers typed every one of them. The boy’s already talking sequel, oh my Lord. But first, there’s the not-fun of editing. Heh — that should keep him busy in his own corner for a few days.

Meanwhile, I’m back on the beach with my characters: Bree Morgan, Jess Harper and a two-legged pond scum named Bo Perlis. Just read this excerpt  and you’ll know beyond the shadow of a doubt that my book aspires to be low-brow mind candy.

Excerpt from Eye of the Storm

Longleaf Shores, Florida

Well, now ain’t love grand. When Bo Perlis chuckled, a nasty sound came out of his mouth, gritty like old coffee grounds. He didn’t sound amused. He leaned against a post, right leg cocked at the knee so that his boot heel rested against the wood piling. Perlis lit one cigarette from the butt of another, and occasionally lifted a small pair of Leica bird-watching binoculars in Bree’s direction for a closer look. He had caught her and the Mayor’s conversation thanks to a small deer hunter’s “bionic ear.” He continued to observe Bree until she got up from the table and walked back toward the parking lot.

Shit. I hate the damned beach. Perlis left the pier and stepped as lightly as he could from the beach back to the asphalt parking area, trying to avoid getting sand in his pointy-toed boots.

He pulled in a few cars behind Bree’s red pick-up truck and followed her back across the bridge. He broke off when she turned in to the gated entrance at Balconies on the Bay, punched the key pad and disappeared from sight.

Perlis drove on a few blocks, and then pulled into the busy parking lot at Sam’s Seafood. He found an open space at the back of the lot beside a scraggly looking scrub oak. His nondescript rental car looked like half the other vehicles in the lot. By now, it was fully dark and right in the middle of the restaurant’s dinner hour. Perlis lowered his window, turned off the ignition and flicked a cigarette butt onto the pavement. Then he pulled out his cell phone and punched in the one number he had on speed dial.

“Report.” The voice creeped Bo out the first time he heard it. It was sultry and breathy like a Marilyn Monroe clone. The client used some kind of voice changer software. Bo suspected the client was actually male, but there was no way he could know for sure.

“I found the girl.”


Damn, that come-hither voice was distracting. “Nothing suspicious. Acts like any young kid on their first job. Spent the day at the beach participating in a community hurricane drill; then made out on the beach with the Mayor, got into an argument with him; he left; she drove back to her condo. End of story.”

“Did you say ‘mayor’?”

“Yeah. He looks like a kid, too. Must be the youngest mayor in America.”

“And the argument?”

“Don’t know for sure. Something about her job. It’s real windy out on the beach and I didn’t catch every word.”

“Her phones?” The voice had a slight southern accent, but Perlis couldn’t place the region.

“Got her land line at the condo. No luck yet with her cell.”

“Not a matter of luck, Mr. Perlis. Skill. The cell phone is critical. Nobody under thirty uses a land line anymore. I was told you could do this. Do not disappoint me. Get it done and report back tomorrow.”

That was the longest speech Bo had heard from his client so far, not that he was crazy about the content. “Will do,” he said, and disconnected.

Goodnight, Marilyn. Jeez, that’s weird. Bo put the phone back in his shirt pocket and reached under the seat for the pint-sized flask he kept filled with Early Times. He took a long pull, recapped it, lit up another smoke and drove away from Sam’s Seafood in search of a drive-through double cheeseburger and fries. Bo hated any type of seafood: fried, stewed or nude.

 The End (of the excerpt) — thanks for killing a few brain cells to help a struggling wanna-be novelist.

19 thoughts on “low-brow mind candy

    1. I probably hung around the subcontractors on our building project a few years ago too much. Had to make them warm brownies to bust up fist fights. Who could forget that?


  1. I read the first sentence and made myself save this all day. It was totally worth it. I haven’t had a chance to say it but – so glad you’ve returned and thanks for the smoke. As for Buck, 225,000 words? I can’t begin to imagine. The man is on a roll. Happy new year to both of you.


    1. Ah, Susan, you know I love you and that big, beautiful lug, Stella. Thanks for your kinds words and mostly, for being your humble-but-LOADED-with-integrity self. As for Buck, he is definitely on a roll. He’s been on some sort of roll his whole life, I do believe. When we met, he said, “Better buckle up, sweetheart, it’s going to be a wild ride.” Don’t come through Pensacola without letting me know. I’ll be your driver and chef.


  2. You could be another Stephen King, methinks. Write what comes and is fun, and your skill will make it sweet. (Candy’s good, I say, having devoured most of a chocolate orange.)

    I appreciate reading your posts below; thinking of you and Buck as you remember Maggie and cherish your family’s love. And as you both write into what’s sure to be an amazing new year.


    1. Thank you, Deanna, and good advice. I’m going to “work hard” at being more playful this year. See? Wrong end of the telescope again . . . I look forward to reading your words and cheer you on in 2012.


  3. Oh, looking good, Beth! Skilled writing is skilled writing. Mind-candy is mind-candy. I like Oscar Wilde in his preface to ‘Dorian Grey’. ‘There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well-written, or badly written. That is all’. I’m not suggesting hints of gratuitous rudery in your extract, Beth (although if there is any, I hope you’ll share it!): the statement rings true for any attempt at literary genre-fixing.


    1. Thanks, Dick. I’m so glad to be able to listen to your wonderful poems sometimes as well as read them. It allows me to “hear” your comments in that marvelous actor’s quality across-the-pond voice. Plus, you always send me to the dictionary. “Gratuitous rudery” is one of the most colorful expressions I’ve come across in a long time. I swear I will use it at a family dinner. Anyone who is listening will go slack-jawed. Maybe even bug-eyed.


    1. Be careful what you wish for, Walk. You might get a package in the mail one day with a manuscript for First Readers . . . Great to hear from you, by the way. Best wishes to you and the family in 2012.


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