collage_Aladdin show ad 70Heber badged the security guard at the employee entrance and used a service corridor leading to the casino. He tipped his hat to the showgirls headed for the Crystal Room as they passed. On stage, they looked gorgeous. Up close, they looked tired. He heard one say that her feet would never survive the midnight show.

(from “Joey’s Place,” coming soon as an e-book)

Inform the family

He looked around. Turned his hat in his hands by its brim. He didn’t want to stand here in the foyer and tell them that nothing would ever be the same again. That Mr. Wallace was just cooling meat now, manhandled downtown by people who didn’t know or care about you or your kids or your sisters and brothers. Just another inconvenient stiff making them work late, keeping them from that cold beer, TV dinner, and the six o’clock news.

(from “Joey’s Place,” coming as an e-book December 2013)


[mantra-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”45%”]From the upcoming “13” Anthology of short stories…[/mantra-pullquote]


She grew up in Vegas and she grew up hard. Her father was a gambler and her mother cleaned rooms at the Stardust. They lived in a one-bedroom apartment on Koval Lane, just off the Strip. One of those eight unit, two-story, cinder-block dumps with little window air-conditioners that couldn’t cool a closet. Her older brother ran away when he was fourteen. She didn’t miss him.

When she was little, she’d hang out at the Desert Inn by the employees’ entrance, cadging casino chips and snacks from the maids and carpenters and engineers who maintained the illusions inside, laughing at the security guards who came out to run her off. She liked the sickly-sweet sump smell of the Dumpsters back there. She liked watching the flies fry in the blue light over all that rotting food. She liked the big trucks that hauled the dumpsters away and brought back empties. She was seriously into refuse.

She was pretty, but her short hair and hand-me-down clothes made her look like a boy. She didn’t care. She didn’t have time for boys. Every night she’d play canasta with her mother and count the butts piling up in the ashtray. Every morning she’d empty her father’s pockets while he slept on the couch so she’d have milk money for school.

Of course, I only learned all this later.


Scrivener and the short story

Recently I was asked by fellow writers at the writing site to contribute a short story for inclusion in an e-published collection. In the past, I occasionally posted short stories for review on that site and also enjoyed the opportunity to read submissions by other writers. It’s where I worked out the stories that became “L.A. Limo Tales” (available on and the comments I received at Triggerstreet were very helpful.

The dozen or so chosen contributors had all been recognized for their own Triggerstreet submissions, so I wanted to offer something worthy of the compliment I’d been given. Threading my way through some early stories, I found one that readily lent itself to a prequel to “Limo Tales”— a (hopefully) humorous tale about a night in the life of high-school aged “Max,” the cynical twenty-something protagonist of “Limo Tales.”

I opened it in Word and got to work. Move this here, shift that there. About 4,500 words. Piece of cake. Right?

Well, it wasn’t long before I lost what I like to call the “thread” of a tale. Did I use that line earlier? Where did I describe that character? That’s when I realized that Scrivener could be just as useful organizing 4,500 words as it was with 80,000 words or a feature-length screenplay.

After copying the work-in-progress into Scrivener, it was a quick and simple task to “Split at Selection” and break the story’s sections down into individual notes. “Auto-generate” feature quickly placed informative text from the note in Scrivener’s “Synopsis” feature. The “Corkboard” view instantly conveyed my story’s layout, making it easy to see elements that needed a bit more meat on their bones. Since I’m a cautious type, I used the “Snapshot” feature to maintain a revision-trail. “Document Notes” were invaluable when I wanted to save an idea that I may or may wind up exploring. It wasn’t long before I had those 4,500 words assembled into nine notes that let me track every beat and twist.

If you are a Stephen King who eschews outlining a story (but Mr. King is obviously a genius, right?), then Scrivener’s powerful organizing tools may not be as helpful for you as they are for me. But Scrivener was just as useful during the output process. The option of producing a PDF, .mobi file, or an .RTF meant I could make the editors’ jobs that much easier; I.E., how do you want it? Here it is! And, when I receive their review comments, it will be simple for me to quickly zero in on the object of their remarks.

Finally, whether you trust the “cloud” or not, by using Scrivener’s “Back Up” feature, I could quickly save a “zip” file of the project on my Google Drive folder. This meant I could revisit the story on my laptop or desktop computer whenever the mood arose.

So, don’t assume that Scrivener is only for big jobs, because it simplified my short story writing process in a major way. In fact, I’m using it to compose this post as a note in the same project that contains the story.