About verbal


I am a single Dad, slowly learning how to raise two daughters by myself. I like to read. I like to write. I spend way too much time staring at the night sky. And a little too much time watching baseball. Anything else you'd like to know, ask. I'm not exactly an open book, but I like to talk, and I like to listen.

I have had a couple dozen short stories published. I've written two novels, but no one will buy them.

Verbal Incandenza
Relationship Status:
In a Relationship
Local Time:
03 Jul 2020 22:49
Taking care of my daughters, mostly. Also, astronomy, writing, reading, camping, baseball. Good bourbon. Good conversation. Tilting at windmills.
Favorite Books:
Infinite Jest, All the Pretty Horses, Slaughterhouse Five, The Killer Angels, Beloved, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Lonesome Dove, The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Shining, Mystic River, A Prayer for Owen Meany, The World According to Garp, Where the Wild Things Are, The Cat in the Hat, The Haunting of Hill House, Wise Blood
Favorite Authors:
David Foster Wallace, Cormac McCarthy, Kurt Vonnegut, Ken Kesey, Toni Morrison, Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, John Irving, Charlie Huston, Megan Abbot, China Mieville, Maurice Sendak, Dr. Suess, Shirley Jackson, Flannery O'Connor


Date Joined:
21 Jul 2015
Last Visit:
31 May 2020
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Topic: Inspirations, the Stories Space Coffee House
Posted: 26 Nov 2018 10:46

I've not been in here before, though I do see a couple familiar faces. :) A cup of coffee please.

Topic: How Much of Your Own Work Do You REALLY Like?
Posted: 14 Nov 2018 11:54

I am super critical of my own writing. I keep changing it again and again trying to get it just right, but at some point I have to stop when I'm not making helpful changes. It is common for me to do 5-10 rewrites of a piece before I submit it.

I do this too and I don't think it's a bad thing. As others have said here, though, everyone's experience is different. In general, I think rewriting helps, though after awhile I've found that stories kind of "harden," it's been tooo long since I wrote it and it resists rewriting.

I'd say I'm very happy with about a third of my stories, I think a third are okay, and a third I don't like. I don't know if this lines up with objective reality - lots of my own stuff I've hated and others have liked. I don't know that I'm that good a judge of my own work.

If I pull a story, reread it and decide it's absolute crap, I'll delete it. That's happened a few times.

Topic: Inspiring writers
Posted: 13 Nov 2018 21:41

Good thread. Glad to see Shirley Jackson mentioned so often.

My own list (I will try to keep this short):
Elmore Leonard - for dialogue and shifting POV
Shirley Jackson - for all rather reasons given above
David Foster Wallace - for those long, beautiful, looping sentences
Stephen King - natural storyteller, just hits all the right notes
John Irving - for World According to Garp, a perfect book, funny and sad and wise
Kurt Vonnegut - made me want to get a writer

Topic: Winners of the Stories Space Dirty Martini 420 Competition
Posted: 14 Oct 2018 15:28

This was a very cool contest. Contrats to Paperboy, the Welsdh Dreamer, Ping!, and all the other who rounded oout the top ten!

Topic: This or That
Posted: 11 Oct 2018 17:50

Rain. Though I like both.

Pool or lake?

Topic: What is your favorite season, and why?
Posted: 05 Oct 2018 12:47

I am actually pretty fond of all the seasons, but Spring has to be #1, because I don't have to drive the kids to school every morning, and because it means the beginning of baseball season!

Topic: What are you reading at the moment?
Posted: 27 Sep 2018 08:29

Rereading "World War Z" by Max Brooks. Love the book but hated the movie adaptation.

LOVED this book. Loved that it was an oral history, so they were just telling the story. Yes, the movie was awful, and threw away everything good about the book.

About to finish Megan Abbot's Give Me Your Hand. Suburban noir. Excellent thriller about two women and a shared secret (or two).

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Stories Published All Stories »

Ground Zero

In dream, my skin has been charred soot-black, not all over my body, but on my arms, my legs, my penis, my chest. In dream, I only notice the burns if my eye happens to fall upon that area of skin. There is no pain. No pain, but a deep, shuddering fright when I see my blackened flesh and am reminded once more of the severe burns I carry. It was a dream the night of September 11th, 2006,...

Added 11 Sep 2019 | Category Memoirs | Votes 9 | Avg Score 5 | Views 397 | 8 Comments

Lost and Found

The basement didn’t show up on John’s radar until about a year after they had lived in the house, though other spots did, and much more quickly. His daughters took note of the upstairs hallway before they even moved in. Em said it felt weird. John felt it too, and even Alice, who did not put much faith in the supernatural, said she thought of the countless footsteps of previous lodgers...

Added 04 Mar 2019 | Category Horror | Votes 4 | Avg Score 5 | Views 576 | 4 Comments


“Where the hell are all the forks?” John grumbled from the kitchen, not for the first time. “Emily takes them,” said El from the dinner table. “No I don’t!” wailed Em. El turned to her Dad. “Emily takes them and she hides them,” she said. “This is between her and me,” said John. “No need to get involved.” Sensing a temporary victory, Em added, “And quit calling me Emily!” John shushed...

Added 26 Feb 2019 | Category Flash Fiction | Votes 9 | Avg Score 5 | Views 516 | 10 Comments

Pupa and Chrysalis

Em asked her Dad to mount a full length mirror on the inside of her door when she was nine years old. The mirror whispered to her just after she turned ten. Or rather, something in the mirror whispered. She had just started fourth grade, and for the first time in her life noticed that others looked at her, others judged her: her clothes, her skin, her weight, her hair. She started...

Added 21 Jan 2019 | Category Flash Fiction | Votes 9 | Avg Score 5 | Views 575 | 9 Comments

Growing Old

The girls had been getting along pretty well together in El’s room, El playing teacher, Em playing student (they always played the same roles without variance), but then Em had turned rebellious on her teacher and was threatening to not do her assignment until El shared some of her apple. Now they were fighting. John and Alice knew this because they were on the first floor of the house, in...

Added 18 Nov 2018 | Category Horror | Votes 10 | Avg Score 5 | Views 778 | 10 Comments


In retrospect John blamed the incident on his own suggestibility, and on the scrapbook. The previous owner, Henry Stode, considered himself to be a bit of an amateur historian, at least when it came to the house. He had inherited an overstuffed scrapbook from the previous owner, who had inherited it from another previous owner. The book was not organized in any way; it had originally been...

Added 12 Nov 2018 | Category Horror | Votes 12 | Avg Score 5 | Views 675 | 12 Comments

Recommended Read Don't Look

Dad was at work. Mom was at the grocery store. Her sister Em was at a friend’s house. El sat on her bed, playing with her kitten, Shadow. El had a feather on a string, and tossed it out like a fishing line for Shadow to chase. Something sounded from outside the room. Shadow jumped off the bed at once, his attention no longer on the feather. He bolted out of the room and took a sharp turn...

Added 28 Oct 2018 | Category Horror | Votes 12 | Avg Score 5 | Views 701 | 12 Comments


Clocks had a way of misbehaving in the house. Clocks often misbehave, particularly mechanical ones. The clock in the car that is two or three minutes slower than the clock last spied before leaving the house. The clock on the oven timer that never quite matches up with the always correct digital clock on the iPad being consulted for a recipe. The unused coffee-maker clock forever...

Added 15 Oct 2018 | Category Flash Fiction | Votes 8 | Avg Score 5 | Views 575 | 8 Comments

Mother of Glass, Mother of Tears

“You’re fat,” the little girl inside the mirror said to Em. It was long past midnight. Em’s parents and sister were in bed. Em was standing in front of the closed door of her room, where her Dad had hung the full length mirror. She regarded the reflection. The person in the mirror looked just like Em. She wasn’t Em, though. She wasn’t even a little girl, though she looked like one. She...

Added 08 Oct 2018 | Category Flash Fiction | Votes 14 | Avg Score 5 | Views 660 | 12 Comments


The house stood at the entrance to the block, dwarfing all the other houses. John and Alice learned a bit of the history of the house from the previous owner, who was a bit of an amateur historian. The original owner of the house, a Mr. Reginald Bowens--the man who built it, gave it life, brought it into the world--was a railroad scion for C&S Railways. The smaller houses in the...

Added 01 Oct 2018 | Category Flash Fiction | Votes 14 | Avg Score 5 | Views 510 | 12 Comments

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02 Dec 2018 11:15
Thanks for the add.
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thank you for your friendship
14 Nov 2018 13:45
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11 Sep 2018 18:33
It’s always the right time for tea and cakes.

28 May 2018 11:43
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