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Writer’s Block

frustrations abound

second draft hesitations

if I could just fin…*







*Explanation to follow.

The Apache Kid


While I was researching some history for the story a friend and I are writing, I came across an interesting character of the old west. I was reminded of a radio interview I once heard with Louis L’amour. The gist of what he said was that it was easy to be a writer of westerns because the Wild West was not only packed with colorful characters, it was also incredibly well documented.

The Apache Kid was born during the year of 1860, the exact date is unknown. Not unlike Sam Horn, he began as a good guy and then stumbled into the dark side. His Apache name was “Haskay-bay-nay-ntayl”— supposedly it means “brave and tall and will come to a mysterious end.” Quite apropos since no one knows exactly when he died. Some say he died in the 1890s. Others say 1907. And ranchers blamed the Kid for rustling cattle throughout the 1920s.

The Kid was orphaned at an early age and mentored by the famous Chief of Scouts for the U.S. Army—Al Sieber. The Kid distinguished himself as an Army scout and was quickly promoted to sergeant. Unfortunate events, drunkenness, and bad luck resulted in the Apache Kid being a wanted man. Even after his surrender and serving some time, more unfortunate events and more bad luck resulted in him staying a wanted man for the rest of his life.

The Apache Kid’s first death was reported in New Mexico in 1894—shot by cowboys and a rancher for rustling cattle.

A man named Slaughter (I’m not kidding) said that in 1896, he gunned down the Kid in the mountains of Chihuahua.

In 1899, however, it was claimed that the Apache Kid was alive, well, and living with Apaches in the Sierra Madre.

In another account—in New Mexico, 1907—a young man saw the Apache Kid’s head in a jar of chloride and in the possession of a posse member.

There were New Mexico cattle ranchers, however, who would have disagreed with all the proceeding accounts, as there were claims right up until the 1930s that the Apache Kid was leading daring cattle rustling raids.

A couple of footnotes:

Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan of the Apes and John Carter of Mars, was a member of the 7th U.S. Cavalry in 1896. He took part in the calvary’s attempt to apprehend the Apache Kid in the Arizona badlands. How freaking cool is that?

Timely (the name by which Marvel comics was known in the early days) produced a comic book called “Apache Kid,” but other than appropriating the name, had nothing to do with the real Kid. Interesting, though, that they gave him the subhead: “The West’s Most Mysterious Warrior!”


An Ice Skating Rink in Idaho

both shadows and skate blades

slice the scarred evening ice


delighted peels of laughter and

excited sounds of holiday revelry


provide a counterpoint

furnish a juxtaposition


that goes


Writing Update #4

The first draft of our story is finished.

When we started, our main character was a complete stranger to us. The journey of wring the first draft helped us get aquatinted with him. Now, we need to attack the second draft and rewrite various scenes from a more knowledgeable perspective.

In writing our story, we’ve found creating stand-alone backstories for some of the main characters to be helpful. Having an idea of what the characters might look like put icing on the proverbial cake. I snagged some photos, drawings, and paintings off the internet—took them into an app called SketchMee HD, dialed in some settings I liked, and rendered all the images I captured. (See the illustration above for an example as well as the settings I used.) I added finishing touches in an app called Art Studio. Rendering them all in the same way made them all look relatively uniform in art style—like the same guy drew them. It was good enough for our own use in creating tools to help us get this first book finished.

(It must be said that this tip is for private use only. You can’t go on the internet and copy stuff for projects you intend to sell. Many of the images out there are copyright protected, and using them without permission is stealing. Except for the portrait of Pope Clement V shown above, none of what I’ve created with the drawing app will see the light of day.)

I’m a visual-kind-of guy, so having a face to look at was helpful when I wrote a character’s backstory. If any of the characters in our story were based on a real people, I typically went to the internet and gleaned some facts, and then wove my own details in and around them that were pertinent to our story. As an example, I crafted a very brief description of Pope Clement V. Read what follows and see if you can pick out the fact from the fallacious…

Pope Clement V

He was born Raymond Bertrand de Got, in 1264. Pope Clement V has the distinction of being the Pope who suppressed the Knights Templar. Many Templars were tortured and executed under his watch. He is also noted for establishing a dialog with Oljeitu, an Ilkahn who was only five rulers removed from the mighty Genghis Khan.

There were several reasons for the Templar Knights falling out of favor. They were accused of many things—manipulating bank interest rates; failing to protect commerce routes coming and going from the Holy Land; bullying grade school kids for their falafel money; acts of sodomy, and cow tipping. To the Templars, the list of offenses must have seemed endless.

However, there are historians who now believe the Pope was simply jealous. After all, the Knights Templar had the cool name (hard to believe, since the first name floated at their inaugural board meeting was “The Kick-ass Dudes With Swords.”) Their horses had racing stripes. They had the most lucrative sponsors (more than one Templar helmet has been unearthed sporting an STP sticker). They had the best decoder rings. They drank their mead shaken, not stirred. Frankly, more need not be said.

Pope Clement V also made a serious attempt of extending the hand of friendship and cooperation in the direction of the Far East. Communications were exchanged with Oljeitu, an Ilkahn of a province that was, at that time, a subset of all that had once been ruled by Genghis Kahn. Oljeitu had an invaluable bargaining chip—one of the most closely guarded secrets of all the Asian provinces—his grandmother’s Mongolian Beef recipe. Negotiations were strained, however, when one of the Pope’s emissaries thought it would “lighten things up” by using a joy buzzer during a formal meet and greet. Unfortunately, the Mongols weren’t yet connoisseurs of the practical joke, and the only thing “lightened” was the emissary, when his head was severed from his body.

Portuguese Doorway

Portuguese doorway

serious lackage of stairs

entryway puzzle

The Way of All Things

decrepit components

rest in an unkempt heap


abandoned to an

entropic purgatory


joining the fate of all

outdated technology*




* …and, well, the fate of everything else too.

Facebook Unfriendly

In past posts, I’ve alluded to life-long issues with self esteem and lack of self confidence. So, it took me years to get up the guts to share a link on Facebook to one of the silly little poems I post on this blog. I did so early last month. It was a about getting a haircut at the same place I did when I was a child.

Facebook almost immediately flagged it as spam and yanked it. When I told them it was not spam, they sent me the reply you see above. The red letters are my emphasis. And with the keys words, “We’ll try” and “if,” I doubt they’ll be putting it back anytime soon.

In the meantime, I continue to work on a story with an old friend. We have a first draft completed. We’re currently crafting more backstory, so that we can attack the second draft with greater insight to the characters and their motivations. This is taking most of my creative energies these days, thus this blog is a bit neglected as of late.

I have an idea for a future post concerning a backstory/background-writing technique I’ve been using that might be worth sharing. Stay tuned.