About verbal


I came here from the red site, where I have a more active presence. I'm a newbie here.

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:
14 Nov 2018 20:49
Taking care of my daughters, mostly. Also, astronomy, writing, reading, camping, baseball. Good bourbon. Good sex. 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:
14 Nov 2018 (50 minutes ago)
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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.

I'll pull a story if I reread it and decide it's absolute crap.

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 By verbal All Stories »


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 7 | Avg Score 5 | Views 95 | 7 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 14 | Avg Score 5 | Views 213 | 14 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 9 | Avg Score 5 | Views 159 | 9 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 13 | Avg Score 5 | Views 204 | 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 16 | Avg Score 5 | Views 175 | 14 Comments

Supper Table

Supper was grilled chicken and rice, with green beans, one of El’s favorites. Her Mom noticed the subdued reaction when her plate was placed in front of her. “Is something wrong, honey?” asked Alice. Silence, at first. Eventually, El told the family that she saw a ghost in the house the night before. “Where?” asked Em. “In the bathroom,” said El. Em started laughing. “Were they...

Added 24 Sep 2018 | Category Flash Fiction | Votes 12 | Avg Score 5 | Views 142 | 10 Comments


The realtor described the place as a grand old dame of a house: a three-story high Victorian in a state of slight disrepair, built in 1897 but with so many random, period-inconsistent architectural details added on over the years (a deck over the front door, a mudroom added on the side, several of the larger rooms broken up with wallboard and framed for apartments) it did not qualify for...

Added 17 Sep 2018 | Category Horror | Votes 12 | Avg Score 5 | Views 195 | 11 Comments


The woman in the mirror spoke to her. This was before she covered all the mirrors in the house. This was back when she was like eleven, maybe twelve, before all the crazy shit happened. Back when they first moved into the house. The woman had been in her mirror for some time. Hiding. At first, Em didn’t even now she was there. She thought it was her own reflection. Em noticed the woman...

Added 11 Sep 2018 | Category Flash Fiction | Votes 15 | Avg Score 5 | Views 264 | 15 Comments

Betty Bones

Her name is Betty Bowens, though all the neighborhood kids call her Betty Bones, and she lives in the old house at the end of the street with her three dead children. They are dead; she is not, merely old, very old. Her children died of different causes, at different times: hit-and-run, cancer, suicide. Two were adults when they died, the cancer and the suicide. Her boy Tristan, poor...

Added 29 Oct 2016 | Category Flash Fiction | Votes 11 | Avg Score 5 | Views 480 | 9 Comments


Apprentice I cannot hope to ever match your lovely flowing lines you measured words, your metered pace the cadence of your rhymes All I know is how your words touch something deeply hidden They recognize a secret place They call my name unbidden And so I dance to your sweet song It frees me, brings me light My stumbling gait, my earthbound waltz  is transformed into flight...

Added 07 Dec 2015 | Category Poetry | Votes 8 | Avg Score 5 | Views 462 | 6 Comments

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There are these monsters, that can grow up to five feet in length, and then their smaller versions that are about a foot to eighteen inches. They look exactly the same, same teeth, but are so much more aggressive and hunt in packs (I say packs, not schools because they remind me of painted dogs or hyenas), just like piranha. Do NOT go swimming in any rivers in the Congo. Just sayin' (rofl)
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