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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Best-Laid Plans, Derailed

Even the best-laid plans can be derailed. A good example? My own story, “Well-Laid Plans,” which was recently published in the online literary journal, Four-Cornered Universe.

I had written a few stories from Tracks before I realized I was writing a series of linked stories about passengers on a train. The first story I wrote for Tracks ended up being cut out completely. Although it was one of the original seeds for the novel in stories, it no longer fit after a few revisions of the manuscript.

Well-Laid Plans” tells the story of a character who has died on the train. (No spoilers; Tracks has gone through changes since this story so there aren’t any revelations here.)

It’s all about balancing planning with living, the story stresses that while it may be important to plan for the future, you can never be prepared for everything and should spend time focused on the here and now.

Prewitt lives. Instead of being the last story in the book, he now has the first story in Tracks. “Prewitt’s Plans,” considered by most readers to be a much better (and quite different) story, is the opening chapter of Tracks. In fact, “Prewitt’s Plans” was previously published in Scribble Magazine.

Both Prewitts are the same person, but in Tracks he lives and in Four-Cornered Universe, he has gotten off the train and left his best-laid plans undone.

I never planned to begin writing Tracks with a story that would not be included in the book. But, like Prewitt, I sometimes find that all the planning in the world can’t change the inevitable.

Enjoy “Well-Laid Plans” in Four Cornered Universe below.


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Friday, May 27, 2011

Meet Your Train's Conductor

Meet the conductor of the Cardinal line from Baltimore to Chicago. Franklin loves trains. He’s been working for Amtrak since the company started, way back in the 70s. He expects to be riding the rails until the day he dies. What he loves most about working as a train conductor is meeting people. Each train ride fills the cars with new soul; every individual he meets has a story to tell. He could write a book about it.

Friend Franklin, the conductor, at Facebook. He’d love to get to know you. You can send him a friend request (which he’ll happily accept) at the link below.

His favorite place to meet people is in the train’s lounge car. Why not join the conductor in the online lounge car: the official fan page of Tracks, a novel in stories? You can “like” the lounge at the link below.


Have a nice Memorial Day weekend.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tracks Inverview Promo from Loyola College

embedded code for Tracks Interview Promo

Tracks Interview Coming Soon

Recently I had the pleasure of returning to the Loyola College campus up the street for an interview about Tracks.

In fact, the producer running the show even blogged about it and included several “behind the scene” pictures. Check them out at the Allison Video Production Blog.


Then, check out the 30 second promo video for the show, featuring Tracks, a novel in stories.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Tracks Now Available for Pre-Order with Free Shipping

Monday Got You Down? Free Shipping on Pre-Orders of Tracks!

Mondays aren’t all bad. Sure, Fridays get all the attention with their ends of the week and beginnings of the weekend. But sometimes starting an entirely new week has its perks.

Here’s a reason to celebrate this Monday: Tracks, a novel in stories, is now available for pre-order at the online bookstore of Atticus Books!

Not only that, but if you pre-order before the official release date of June 30, you can get free shipping anywhere in the United States!

As Atticus describes, “This novel-in-stories follows a diverse group of passengers on a train from Baltimore to Chicago, revealing the secrets of their past, their hopes for the future and just how intertwined their lives really are.”

What kind of person takes the train from Baltimore to Chicago (besides the author)?

“They are the strangers we meet every day: a soldier slowly losing his faith in the war, a businessman learning to balance his job and the family he loves, a computer geek-turned-criminal, a Holocaust survivor finding hope in facing her fears, couples in love, a woman dealing with the death of her parents, a poet hunting for inspiration, and a hit man with a job to finish before the train arrives at its destination. Watch as these and other characters' lives and stories seamlessly link and intersect, quietly shaping and changing one another.”

Read more — and pre-order your first printing copy of Tracks today — by visiting the Atticus Online Bookstore at the link below.


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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Get Your Last Rites Before End of Days

May 21, 2011 is a big day. For one thing, it’s the Preakness. For another, it’s the next 5ive-Ten Reading at Minas (http://510readings.blogspot.com/).

Oh, and there’s the Rapture. Many predict that this Saturday will be the beginning of the end. That’s to be followed by the end of the world in October. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_end_times_prediction

In need of Last Rites? Here are some last rites of a more enjoyable sort.

The Last Sunday, Last Rites Reading Series takes place each last Sunday of the month in the Baltimore Hostel in Mt. Vernon. A couple readings ago, I was one of their featured readers for “Stories of Desperation and Murder.” Nik Korpon and Pat King hosted, and I was joined by crime writers Don Lafferty, Kieran Shea and Dennis Tafoya—plus an appearance by songwriter Goodloe Byron.

I read an abridged excerpt from Tracks, a novel in stories. “One Last Hit” is about a hit man maneuvering through one last job before calling it quits.

Recently, Dave Kiefaber wrote a review of the Last Rites reading for The Patch. He wrote that my story “was about a wayward youth who becomes a hitman for the mob. Goodman's prose and delivery were captivating enough that I forgot to take a picture of him, so I'm guessing his novel will be pretty good.” (What does that say about my appearance?)

Missed the reading? I read the same story on Baltimore’s NPR station. Catch the posdcast from WYPR’s The Signal here:


And, here’s your chance to catch the next reading from Tracks. I’ll be reading with D.R. Belz, Steve Himmer, and Elisavietta Ritchie at the next Lit & Art at the Watermark this coming Sunday, May 22 from 2-5 at the Watermark Gallery, second floor of the Bank of America Building, 100 S. Charles Street, right across from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

You can read about it on Read Street, the blog of the Baltimore Sun.


Hope to see you there. That is, if any of us are still around on May 22nd.

Check out the review of Last Rites in The Patch.


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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Celebrate Beginning of the End with Lit and Art

Unsure what to do if the Rapture passes you by on May 21? No problem! The Watermark Gallery will hold its next Lit and Art event on Sunday, May 22, at 2 p.m. Help us ring in the last 153 days of existence in grand style!

Three writers will debut at this event: D.R. Belz, Steve Himmer, and Elisavietta Ritchie. Joining them will be Lit & Art mainstays Eric D. Goodman and Red Tractor Factory.

Did you blow your life’s savings in the mistaken belief that you would be raptured up to heaven? Don’t worry! Like previous events in this series, it’s free and open to the public. Complimentary wine and refreshments will be served. Even in end times, free is good.

The Watermark Gallery is located in the Bank of America Center Skywalk Level, right across from the Inner Harbor, at 100 S. Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland. The phone number is (410) 547-0452.

Learn more about the Watermark at its online gallery.


Stay tuned to Writeful for more on events like Lit & Art at the Watermark.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Like the Lounge

It’s the weekend: how about a nice, relaxing drink in the lounge car? The soothing rock of the train along the tracks, a cool drink to warm you, beautiful scenery passing outside the window, and conversation surrounding you like background music you can join or keep in the background.

You’ll meet a lot of interesting people in the lounge car. A poet, a hit man, a mobster, a soldier. A holocaust survivor, a businessman, a potter, and a mourner. A young couple in love, an old couple in love, and a woman who has left love behind for something more. And known to them all, the conductor himself who weaves in and out of their lives to punch tickets and enlighten lives.

If you like the sound of that, you should like the lounge. The online lounge car is the official fan page of Tracks, a novel in stories set on a train traveling from Baltimore to Chicago.

Join me, the conductor, and all the other passengers in the lounge. You’ll enjoy the ride.


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Friday, May 13, 2011

Zombie Fiction for Friday the 13th

It’s Friday the thirteenth; how about a little zombie fiction?

My short story, “Zombie is the New Vampire” was published this week in The Potomac.

The Potomac is a journal of poetry, politics, and prose based along the banks of the Potomac river.

“Zombie is the New Vampire” is what The Potomac calls a “quicktion,” or short piece of flash fiction. You can read it in a minute.

Read Zombie now at

Check out some of the other quicktions by such authors as Jen Michalski and CL Bledsoe, as well as some interesting articles and poetry by visiting the front page of the current issue (where you can also find my Zombie).


Enjoy Friday the 13th.

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Monday, May 09, 2011

Mommy Knows Best in Writers Weekly

Mother’s Day was a recent reminder that “Mommy Knows Best.” That’s also the title of an article I had published in Writers Weekly earlier this year.

Writers Weekly is the world’s most popular writing eZine; it has more subscribers than any other freelance-writing eZine.

My feature story, “Mommy Knows Best,” relays a recent strategy I used to help generate some “good ink” for my storybook, Flightless Goose. As I explain, after about a year of pitching the goose to traditional reviewers, my publisher and I began offering review copies to trusted mommy bloggers — and they helped this flightless goose soar.

Read all about it by visiting Writers Weekly at the link below.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Tracks and Amtrak Celebrate National Train Day

Saturday, May 7, 2011 (tomorrow) is National Train day! It’s a coast-to-coast celebration with big events across the nation.

Amtrak is calling all train enthusiasts, young and old, to join in the festivities at train stations in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Chicago. From 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., train lovers will enjoy free live entertainment, interactive and educational exhibits, kids' activities and elaborate model train displays, plus tours of Amtrak equipment, freight and commuter trains, and notable private railroad cars.

Each event will also feature exclusive exhibits highlighting contributions made to the railway throughout history, such as the B&O Railroad and Civil War exhibit in Washington, D.C.; The Great Migration exhibit in Philadelphia; Hands on the Past: Mexican Contributions To The Railroad exhibit in Chicago; and the California Missions and East Meets West exhibits in Los Angeles. Amtrak will also start its year-long celebration of 40 years as America's Railroad.

The festivities at Union Station in D.C. include a performance by Gladys Knight who immortalized trains in Midnight Train to Georgia.

The train featured in Tracks, a novel in stories, passes through Union Station. And Tracks will have a presence at the Union Station event in DC. Look for some Tracks handouts while you’re there!

Learn more about National Train day at the official website.