from From Animal House to Our House: A Love Story
chapter I: The Mystery HouseIn December 1999, when Jill and I first saw the big brick Victorian row house in an old Baltimore neighborhood, it had sat abandoned for nearly a year and was such a wreck that most prospective buyers walked in, took one look, then promptly walked out. The place had been owned by a notorious fraternity for one riotous decade. We didn’t know this at the time. You couldn’t tell from the outside how bad the inside was. Three stories tall, made of pumpkin-colored brick, with three bays on every floor and a witch’s-cap tower at its foremost corner, the house was the jewel of the block—or had been. It seemed the kind of place that might have grand rooms, secret passageways, and ghosts. I imagined Jill and I roaming it from basement to attic, flashlights in hand. more
from Boom, Like That (new story collection)
Save the Poor, Dumb Creatures
A lot of girls think all you need is looks to do this, but you need smarts too. All of my girls have smarts. In fact, most of them were studious in high school--the awkward girls you'd see on the fringes, a little too tall, all elbows and knees, their smiles too nice for teenagers trying to keep their cool. more
from Missile Paradise (novel-in-progress)
chapter I: Diversity!
Nora and her four fellow Diversity Delegates know not to say aloud what they are thinking as the noon ferry chugs away from Echo pier on its way to Ebeye, two nautical miles north: they will smell Ebeye before they see it. Ebeye is so gross, it’s cool to go there, just so you can say you did. Because garbage is always smoldering from one end or the other of this little island and because it’s just half the size of American-occupied Kwajalein but has four times the people, it’s been called the Calcutta of the Pacific. Really, it’s like something from a PBS special. No place is more crowded or trashy. Old, fat, forever sweaty Mister Norman has an explanation for that, like he’s got explanations for everything. He’s the Advisor to their Diversity Delegates Club. Today he’s arranged for them to deliver discarded computers to Ebeye High. It’s 2004, a new millennium, and everybody all over the world is online except for the Marshallese! more
1: Donner Pass
There's no easy way to get out of Nevada. Either you scratch through the badlands or climb over the mountains. My way was mountains. There was snow in the pass. Highway Patrol wouldn’t let me by without chains or four-wheel drive. On the shoulder, three coveralled men were ready to rent me chains for fifty plus a deposit. As I slowed, they went at my wagon like a NASCAR crew. The cute one with the wind-burned face and sun-bleached soul patch, tapped at my window. I rolled down. He said: “Cash or Visa only, doll.” more
The Day His Wife's Face Froze
He was teaching art to his sixth graders. They were making papier mache masks for Halloween. He was thinking of the turning of leaves, the sunburst colors, the acrid scent of leaf rot and tannin, leaf stains on the sidewalk like paleolithic handprints. One of the boys had just painted both of his hands red with tempera--as though he'd dipped them in a bucket of blood; he was flashing them like spooked bats over the girls' heads. Some of the girls squealed in delighted fright, others laughed. He sent the boy to the vice-principal. more
The Ape in Me:
I'm supposed to strangle this beautiful young woman today but my heart's not in it. Toni, my girlfriend, tells me I should be used to it by now, I've murdered so many women. But that's the problem: I'm tired of being the heavy. Just once I'd like to be somebody's sidekick or the nice guy whose untimely death makes the audience sob with regret. Listen, I'm realistic. I'm not asking for a big piece, just a different angle, a character I can like for once. Because, honest to God, I'm starting to get nightmares about these things, finding myself really killing people on the set but not meaning to--losing my touch. When I wake up, I can still see the crew's terrified faces, their fingers aimed at me: "Christopher, what have you done?" I hear them crying. more
Jam-packed with advice and tips on marketing your book. Read the Poets & Writers article that started it.
"Ron Tanner's life is a testament to the power of hard work, a big heart, blind romance, and even outright idiocy. What does he have to show for it? Only a beautiful house, a loving marriage, and now this inspiration of a book. Pass me my hammer!"
Chris Jones, ESQUIRE