Poem – Heaven Came Down

Last weekend my Dude and I saw the new Brad Pitt movie, Fury:

“April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Out-numbered, out-gunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.”  Written by Sony Pictures Entertainment (IMDB.com)

Before the move starts, the audience was given American tank statistics to put everything in perspective and they were horrific:  in the European Theatre, the American tankers experienced the most casualties of the war.   The Germans had better equipment and just basically decimated our ranks.

It was a very graphic film and in many places I had to turn my head.

But this was not a typical good-guy, bad-guy, shoot-em-up war film.  Sure that was the most of it but what I think made it rise above all other war movies I’ve seen is that right about the middle was a well-done love scene that brought beauty into the theater reeling from the graphic atrocities of human madness we call war.

It was between two young people, a soldier and a civilian but the scene’s actual focus was on the civilian’s older female relative and the soldier’s commanding officer.  This has stuck with me all week long and I couldn’t help but write a little something about it:

Heaven Came Down

He grabbed her arm.
“Don’t,” he said.
“They’re young and they’re alive.”

And for just a moment
The dark black brutal world cracked open and
Sunshine spilled into the room,
Pushing the darkness away.
Heaven came down and
Brought a tiny bit of beauty
That, for just a moment, bound up the
Wounded souls of two men and two women
With soft ribbons soaked in a salve of hope.

But all too soon,
the crack slammed back shut,
Shoving heaven far away
And thrusting both the men and the women
Back into the morass of brutalization
We call war.

©2014, KL

Go forth and bring beauty to the world my friends.

Book Review – Ranger Martin and the Alien Invasion

Ranger Martin and the Alien Invasion
Ranger Martin and the Alien Invasion

Today I am reviewing the soon to be published book RANGER MARTIN and the ALIEN INVASION, by Canadian author Jack Flacco.

This book is a clean kick-butt story of Ranger Martin and three tagalong teenagers, Matty, her brother Jon, and their friend Randy, who fight zombies and aliens in a post-apocalyptic dystopian America.  Most citizens of the United States have been converted to zombies and they are now scavenging the land for the “undead” to feed their hunger.  At the same time, an alien invasion is going on, and these aliens are doing what they can to convert the “undead” to zombies.  A double whammy of bad stuff for Ranger Martin and the teens to deal with before they can reclaim the globe as their home.

This book was written in the young adult genre (ages 11-17) but personally I think the younger end of this group is a much better audience than the older.

Now, on to the pros and cons:


The storyline is realistic and sound and the plotting is good.   On nearly every page, all characters, major and minor, are in a jam and have to figure a way to get out.  The solutions they come up with are logical and realistic and not once did I think any of their decisions dumb or stupid nor did I roll my eyes and ask myself “Really?”

There is an extraordinary amount of over the top braggodocio, which I knew was intentional by the author.  Knowing that this is a young adult novel, all that bravado, instead of being melodramatic, put a smile on my face.

The characterization of both the major and minor characters is great.  Right away the author made me care so much about each character that when he killed off the not-so-important minor characters I became upset.

The very bestest, bestest, best part of the whole novel, though, is that there are strong female characters.  Granted all but one (Matty) gets killed off but none are cowering lacy dresses who talk nothing but boys and play the “woe-is-me-I’m-such-a-victim” card.  They all rise to the challenge and meet it head on.  If the author was aiming for greater-than-life female characters that girls could look up to in tough times, I believe he nailed it.

The novel is not just about fighting though.  There is a good balance of sequel scenes in which the characters actually think and talk amongst themselves.  Backstory is kept at a bare minimum but there are a small number of flashbacks to give the reader a glimpse of how things used to be.

This was a fun, fun, fun read.  When I was in middle and high school, many many moons ago, there was nothing like this to read so I was forced to read adult kick-butt books that were really not age appropriate.  I’m glad to see this void continues to be filled.

Now for the cons:

I’m not sure if it was intentional or not but there was point of view shifting everywhere, sometimes numerous times during each scene.  Some scenes I even had to stop and go back to figure out what exactly is going on and who was speaking.  If the author could invest in a good editor who could help him cut that out and hone the focus, I believe the novel would really shine.

Sometimes the over the top bravado did get to me and I had to put it down but then again, I’m no longer a young adult and this genre is not to my taste.

My recommendation?  If you have a middle-aged son and/or daughter and you’re looking for a good old fashioned clean, kick-butt story, this would be a good novel for them to read.  It goes on sale October 21, 2014.


A Broken Haiku for a Broken Heart

READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED. This post contains mature language that is unsuitable for some readers.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The night road stretches
Long before us. We’ve taken
This route before in

Times of thanksgiving
And joyous expectation,

But not this time.

Tonight we’re on the
Way to say our last goodbye
to our dear brother.

the call came at mid-day

In the still of the
Night, we share the road with large
Beasts of burden whose

Yellow light adorn
Their loads like a strand of pearls.
Their red lights stare back

And meet my red eyes
That stare forward, and only
For a moment

I am consoled.

“Hello. I’m calling to say that he is gone.”

Lining the road named
To honor and remember
Our veterans, tall

Dark sentinels stand
At attention and pay their
Own tribute while they

Hem me in and force
Me down a long dark path I
Do not want to

To pay my own tribute
And lay one of theirs,
One of ours,
To rest.

Fuck you cancer.

Lights flash against my
Closed eyes and the hum of tires
On asphalt lull me

To restless sleep.

Fuck you cancer. Fuck you and all your progeny. If I could I would banish you to the hinterlands and let all its nasties feast on you until you wither up and die.

All too soon we

Twenty-one guns.


Don Puckett
Don Puckett

Why the Antagonist is the Most Important Character in Your Novel

DevilAntagonists.  They’re the bad guys our protagonist is up against but who are they really? This is the question we must ask ourselves if we want our protagonist to leap off the page and be someone we remember long after we finish the story. Anything less will be B-O-R-I-N-G.

So what makes us remember the protagonist?  Her antagonist.  Her adversary.  The battle she must fight.  She must have a worthy adversary or she will not have to work very hard to rise above her situation and prevail.  Her journey will be ho hum and no more than meh.


This happens all the time in real life and the person who immediately comes to my mind is Rosa Parks.  This woman will never fade into obscurity because she stood up to something bigger than her and prevailed.  It is unfortunate the adversary she was up against (racism) is something so powerful that because of the way humanity is, we will spend until the end of time battling it into submission.  She had to know that, but she did not let even that deter her.

That, my friends, is the hallmark of a memorable character.

The antagonist drives the protagonist and the growth of our protagonist is directly correlated to the power of her antagonist.  That is why the antagonist is the most important character in your novel.

When I first started writing, I wrote my antagonist as a two dimensional character.  Fully bad with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the end of the novel.  I had heard and read to not do that so I started to explore who this person was and why he was the way he was.  As I got further to know him, I found that I wanted to blur the line between bad and good with him.  I wanted to make him more human.  Not so he wouldn’t be so bad, but so my writing would be more complex and more rich.  I didn’t want to cheat him (and my readers) by just making him a stereotypical character.

Michael Shannon as General Zod.  Courtesy Wikipedia
Michael Shannon as General Zod. Courtesy Wikipedia

In the 2013 Superman movie, Man of Steel, I think the writers did an exceptional job with the antagonist General Zod.


If you have not watched this movie, scroll down to the red words to skip this section.

There’s a lot of different issues that can be explored with this movie but today I’m only going to talk about General Zod’s motivations.

General Zod, like every other Kryptonian except for Superman, was bred for a specific purpose.

Jor-el says to his son:

Every child was designed to perform a predetermined role in our society as a worker, a warrior, a leader, and so on. Your mother and I believed Krypton lost something precious, the element of choice, of chance. What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended? What if a child aspired to something greater? You were the embodiment of that belief Kal. Krypton’s first natural birth in centuries. That’s why we risked so much to save you.

Superman’s parents packed the genetic material of the Kryptonian population within their son in the form of a codex and sent him to Earth, just as Krypton blew up.

Zod, however, is supremely bad to the inhabitants of Earth.  His goal is to kill humans and set things in motion to terraform Earth into a place more habitable to those from Krypton then resurrect his people from the codex.  But after watching the movie two or three more times I started to feel sorry for him and it all boiled down to his motivations.

In his words:

I exist only to protect Krypton. That is the sole purpose for which I was born. And every action I take, no matter how violent or how cruel, is for the greater good of my people.

He was bred to be a patriot to the nth degree and now that Krypton was no more, he was fulfilling that destiny by trying to find a new place for his people to reside.

Superman rises to the challenge and meets it head on until he is finally forced to make the painful choice of either letting his people survive or letting the people of earth survive.

We all are creations of our upbringing and that’s exactly what Zod is.  Because of the way he was bred, he could not change.  And that made him a worthy adversary to Superman.


Sure Zod is bad.  He’s done horrific things.  But haven’t we all?  We are all an incredibly mixed up bag of good and bad but that is what contributes to the richness and complexity of humanity.

The antagonist can be anything.  It can be a person (General Zod) or an idea (racism) the protagonist is struggling against.  It can be the weather (the movie Twister).  One caveat:  if the protagonist is not a person, there must be a human face to symbolize it otherwise it’s nothing tangible for the protagonist struggle with.  Once we find out who and what our antagonist really is and what drives him, only then will our protagonist rise above the story and live with us long after it is over.


Shakespeare Did Not Have An MFA. Where Did He Learn His Stuff?

Emily Ann Theatre & GardensIt’s August in Central Texas and that means it’s Shakespeare season at the Emily Ann Theatre and Gardens in Wimberley, Texas.

For the fourth year now, Miss E. auditioned and won herself a spot on the cast.  This year they did Richard III and oh my, oh my, oh my.  This particular piece of work is a full historical, dense, with umpteen million lines.  Even after the artistic director cut out a few monologues the play still ran nearly two hours.

Can you imagine a cast of middle and high schoolers memorizing all those lines?  I can’t.  It must be because their minds, like their bodies, are young and nimble.

Shakespeare was a fairly prolific writer.  His plays run the gamut from historicals, tragedies, and comedies and if that’s not enough, he also wrote poetry.  He was busy in his short life of 52 years and he was one of those people who was unafraid to write about the human condition.

So where did he learn this stuff?  There were no writing classes for him to attend, no MFA’s to enroll in.  Yet, he was, simply put, an amazing scrivener of everything that makes us human and today, his work is being performed all the time.

My kingdom for a horse!
A horse!  My kingdom for a horse!

Whoever he was, Shakespeare was bold and masterful in writing exactly what he wanted to write, without regard to what anyone else thought or said.  He wrote from his heart and because of that, he was the cream of the crop when it came to interpreting the human condition and putting it out there where all can see.

That’s how we should write.

Let’s shift gears for a moment and think about the two sides of fiction:  literary versus commercial (or genre).  Today, there is a great debate on the merits of these two sides of that coin and the outcome so far is that many readers and writers alike are viewing commercial fiction with disdain.  Commercial fiction is getting bullied on the playground and is being insulted and given the finger because it’s not good enough.  It’s not “art.”


How many of you like rock and roll music?  What about country?  Classical?  Rap?  I think this whole fiction debate thing is akin to saying that classical music is the ONLY music to listen to because it’s the only type of music that’s art.  Everything else you like?  Fugitaboutit.

Even Shakespeare embraced diversity in his writing.  Think about Romeo and Juliet.  If it weren’t for the ending, I think it would fit very well on modern day romance shelves.

I for one, am thankful that we have both literary and commercial fiction.  This world would be a boring place to live if all I could read was literary fiction because, dagnabbit, there are times in which I simply want to be entertained.

Each type of human creation whether it be music, drama, visual arts, or the written word is worthy.  Sure some may take your breath away and others may make you roll your eyes (and for those of you who still read non-digital books, even some of those may make you want to throw them against the wall because they’re written so badly) but so what?  They are still creations.

Where am I going with this?  If you’re a writer or wannabe writer, don’t buy into the “this type of fiction is good and that other one is not” because no one genre is any better than the other.

I repeat:  no one genre is any better than the other.

Write what moves you, what excites you.  Write what makes you happy, sad, or scared.  Even terrified.  Let it flow out of you in whatever form it presents itself whether it be plays, screenplays, poetry or prose.  If you want to write literary fiction.  Do it.  If you want to write commercial fiction.  Go for it.  No genre is any better than the other.  Just be aware that there are different audiences for the various types of writing.

Like Shakespeare, be fearless and be bold.  And like Shakespeare, write from your heart.

Henry VII, Earl of Richmond
Henry VII, Earl of Richmond