08/22/2017 - The Story of Alex Perez
I believe I already mentioned that the purpose behind the Alex Perez novels was to write my memoirs. With this in mind, the first novel, Pigeons by the Sea, presently Isla Grande, included too many incidents that were true. Mother was still alive, and she didn't care for exposing family laundry to the public. So, being a good son, I shelved the novel and waited. By the way, the main character 's name at that time was Gunther. Years went by, and the itch to write grew. My skill at exageration began to flower, and a new character entered. Alex Perez, graced the pages of A Woman with Sharp Edges, now Cut and Run. When mother passed, Alex had established himself, and several books with his unique character were penned. I'm telling you this because Isla Grande is a misfit, as far as the order of my novels are concerned. It should be behind Chasing the Moolah, due to the introduction of the Nine-Finger Society, which is featured in that latter novel. But it does not belong there. In Isla Grande I'm introducing characters you already know. It can't be the first one either due to Alex being married to Julia, his second wife. In Cut and Run, Alex was married to his first wife, Ramona. I have today crossed the 58,000 word plateau, on my way to a target of 65,000 and this Alex still resembles the one in Chasing the Moolah. But, let me tell you this much, In part two, he begins to morph back into the old Alex. I'm so excited, I can't wait to begin Run Alex, Run. In that one, I will be able to serve you a full dose of Alex, that lovable, misguided, misogynist, and homophone guy who's mind is fixed on nothing but the female form. I made you a promise to find him, and I'm delivering. In part two of Isla Grande Alex meets Gloria, and the sexual romp begins...
07/29/2017 - Synopsis for Isla Grande - Alex Perez Returns to Panama
Alfred Cromwell, an experienced CIA agent treks into the Panamanian jungle to put in motion a plan developed by the NSA to weaken the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC). He pays a guerilla chieftain protection money so a bogus Texas furniture company can harvest a mahogany forest. The chieftain cheats Chucho Martinez, a junior guerilla commander out of the bountiful deal. Cromwell baits Chucho into defecting, but the guerilla will only turn himself over to Alex Perez, a Texas newspaper reporter. The CIA pays Chucho megabucks for his inside information, triggering the greed of Cromwell and the unscrupulous Colonel Juju Ortiz of the Panamanian Secret Service. They concoct a plan. Alfred will deliver Chucho to the CIA for debriefing, then give him back to Juju so the guerilla can be sold to the FARC for a reward they both agree to split. But Cromwell wants to keep the CIA money and the FARC money. Likewise for Juju. Their plans plan go awry when Alex enters the picture. He wants to keep Chucho alive. To do this he has to bring his friend, Paco, and his cousin ,Piero, into an intrigue that turns deadly. When Cromwell disappears. Piero tells Alex that the Americans are blaming him for the abduction. To clear himself, Alex must rescue the agent from a cell on the penal island of Coiba. He recruits a team to rescue Cromwell, but when they enter the cabin purported to hold the agent, they encounter a group of armed men. Cromwell is not a prisoner, but a member of the team exchanging the hapless Chucho for the reward. A gunfight erupts and Chucho gets killed. Cromwell absconds with the FARC reward money, with Juju fast on his trail. The CIA wants their money back, Juju wants the reward money, and Alex wants some of it so he can send it to Chucho’s widow. After a number of twists, turns, and double crosses, the blood money disappears. Alex goes back to Texas only to find out the FARC and Juju blame him, and a hit man is hired for payback. He hides in the piney woods of East Texas. There he meets Gloria, a sexually oriented woman with a questionable character.
06/20/2017 - Where did my Character Go?
This is the story of the disappearance of someone dear to my heart, the main character in my bawdy, humorous, and politically incorrect novels. Yes, I’m talking about Alex Perez, a man enamored with the female form.
Many years ago, if my minds serves me right, I’d say around 2006 I had a fortunate encounter with a writer from Nacogdoches. Well, it wasn’t an encounter, it was a scheduled lunch at Madeline’s, in The Woodlands. At that time, I was the president of The Woodlands Writers Guild, and my treasurer was my good friend, Ray Fitzgerald. We had an ‘Author’ program going, inviting local and regional writers to speak at our meetings. Ray knew this guy named Joe Lansdale, a writer who had managed to have one of his novels made into a movie. The book was titled Bubba Ho Tep, so was the movie. The setting of the story was in East Texas, inside a nursing home. The main character was a white guy who thought he was Elvis. His sidekick was a black guy who believed he was John F. Kennedy. The nut of the story centered on the fact that the occupants of the home were dying too regularly. These two guys decided to investigate, and they managed to actually see the reason. The residents were being killed by the Egyptian mummy, Ho Tep. He was taking their lives by sucking their souls out of their butt holes. Grossed me out. What made this book funny, besides the wit of Mr. Lansdale, was the idiosyncrasies of the two main characters. And, the attire of the mummy. I did say this story took place in East Texas, didn’t I? Yep, the mummy wore cowboy boots, cut-off jeans, and a cowboy hat with a feather in it. Hence the name Bubba. Shortly after reading the book, I rented the movie, and although I can’t remember the name of the white actor, the black one was Ossie Davis, and he was funny as JKF. Both book and movie were hilarious.
Now, back to my dilemma. After the writers meeting, as was planned, Ray and I accompanied Joe, and his lovely daughter to the restaurant for a lunch. Since the program included a question and answer period, and since the guild membership was loaded with writers lost in the maze, he would already have answered many questions. It was deemed improper (by Ray) to continue the inquiries while feasting on a lunch paid by the guild. I had to promise Ray I would refrain from turning the lunch conversation into a question and answer period about my writing. Being the man that I am (and I’m surprise Ray didn’t see it coming) I broke decorum and moved the tête-à-tête in a direction where my needs could be served. I asked Lansdale for advice. I told him my efforts at getting published were going nowhere; that my desk drawer was full of rejection notices from agents and publishers. Ray glared at me, but Joe was forthcoming. He gave me something to chew on for a while. He said to leave my quest for agents alone; they would find me whenever I had published something worth their time. He said to focus on two things: Developing a character, and finding my voice. I went home, and for the next couple of weeks I worked on the riddle.
Creating a character came easily enough. I had been pondering whether writing my memoirs while a number of people were still alive would be wise. Also, the fact that memoirs are never a successful financial venture (unless you're famous) came into play. So, in a spiritual moment, the answer came screaming at me. My full name is Alberto Alejandro Arcia Perez Parada. I took Alejandro and Perez, and voila, I had Alex Perez. This was a great idea. I had a cousin living in Panama named Alex Perez. With any luck he would catch some of the flak that surely would come my way. Now that the character had been created, and let me tell you fleshing him out was easy since I knew myself very well. Writing the novel was also a piece of cake. I had spent a lifetime avoiding responsibility, concentrating on bedding women, traveling, and just having fun. Consequaintly, I had a boat load of material to work with. The goal would be to make them better than they actually were by injecting comedy. It was then that my love affair with exageration took hold. Note: The Alex Perez series is nothing more than a blatant attempt to write my memoirs using a transparent veil. I had so much fun exagerating that somewhere along the line, the truth became a victim of my enthusiasm. There's no way I could have had that much fun.
The voice thing came unexpectedly. I found it by writing in first person. My two private readers, as well as several guild members told me they could hear me talking when they read. So, with both tasks done, my attention turned towards getting published.
In 2009, a year after my mother passed, Arte Publico Press out of the University of Houston offered me a contract for the manuscript tetatively titled, “A Woman with Sharp Edges.” Once the contract was signed, and the stipend of $3,000 in the bank, they changed the name to "Cut and Run," and proceeded to clean the manuscript. This was my first experience with a publisher. They assigned a wondefull editor to me. I owe her a debt of gratitude. A debt I didn't pay because my experience with the whole publishing process left me cold and unhappy. I'm hoping to live long enough to do something good for Gabby. Anyway, the head honcho told me APP didn’t publish porn. I complained that it wasn’t dirty, it was bawdy. No matter, my words fell on deaf ears. They removed some of the good colorful lines, plus all the politically incorrect stuff. Then they made me add an entirely new ending before they published the novel.
The whole process took a very long time. Hell, I was 62 years old and looking forward to fame and fortune. My buddy Mike and I wanted to buy a whorehouse in Panama and enjoy our golden years. At this rate, we both be too old to bathe in unbridled sex. I didn’t have the time, nor the stomach to deal with a publisher’s demands or timeline. Let me be fair here, I need to give the publisher its due. Cut and Run sold 903 copies the first year, and none of the other books and novels I pushed out through CreateSpace did anywhere as good. I should have stayed with Arte Publico Press. Although I wasn’t a young man, I acted like one by refusing to listen to an experienced staff. Okay, that was then, no need to complain about spilled milk.
Then my good friend, Mike, died in Arkansas. With him went the notion of the brothel. That in itself was a stress release since I was in love with my present wife, and wasn’t sure how to sell her on the idea that buying a whorehouse in Panama was a good thing. I’m meandering, sorry. Back to the subject. I had been accused of being a homophobic and misogynist writer by two individuals. I would go into the details of that story, but its already been covered. Being an old guy with a young mind, I was goaded into dealing with these unfair, ugly accusations. A direct response was needed. I left Alex alone and wrote a series of books about heroic females. The result was two fold: First, the 'Adventures of the Danube Sisters’ became a reality, so did a couple of short story books. That was a good thing. The other situation was unpleasant. My readers became upset and abandoned me. They had come to love my adult stories of Alex, and were bored with these new fantasy stories about children for young adults. The consequences of this unexpected and idiotic move was minimal sales. I was not known as a fantasy writer, therefore had no market. Panic set in, I went back to the well and brought Alex out for another run.
Okay, since the whole purpose of this long piece is to give advice to those in need of it, let me get on it. All of my worthwhile life experiences had already been used in the three Alex novels, the creative well was low. I had to create a whole new story from nothing. I’m a big boy. I can do it, and I did. “Chasing the Moolah” is the first Alex, non-memoir novel. Yet, it was during the process of penning this piece that I realized the true extent of the folly of changing genre. The Alex character in the fourth novel was no longer the same. This surprised me, and no matter how hard I tried to find that lovable scoundrel, he was gone, vanished. The new Alex was different. He seemed serious, more aggressive, like he had grown up. Did I stay away from him too long? What made him change? After racking my brain for weeks, I came to grips with the damage caused by my action. When you have something going for you, you run with it until you have beaten it to death. Your readers do not care about your life issues. They want more of what they like, so you need to continue writing, using the same formula. Personal pride be damned.
Afterwards, the real reason why Alex changed hit me. He was no longer me. My stories were all told out. This novel was new, consequaintly so was Alex.
I want you to know I’m not a man easily dissuaded, tenaciousness being a part of my success. An example of that is the fact I ran girls down that were not interested in me at the beginning. My never-ending interest in them must have been impressive because it overrode their initial fear of being courted by someone not preferred. When on the hunt, capturing the prey is the only thing that matters. So, here is where I make a promise to those of you who came to love Alex, and are affected by his personality change. I will find him again. For you and me.
Today, I'm writing the fifth Alex novel with the hope I can recapture his boyish personality, carefree outlook, and sexual appetite. He needs to be inserted back into my pages were he belongs. Sadly, even though I'm raking the memory cells for familiar stories, his old self is still gone.
In the new novel, "Isla Grande" Alex is the same guy that appears in "Chasing the Moolah." In my heart there exist a strong desire to unearth the scoundrel. The novel coming behind this one is "Run, Alex, Run," the sequel to "An Ill Wind that Blows no Good." I will reunite him with a few of his old running mates. Maybe Ronson Wickert can bring him back. If not, I will throw in Gonzo Brynn, the Mennonite with a bigger wonkie than his. As a last resort, I will bring Gloria into his life. Surely she can arouse him, and challenge his new state of civility. He needs to succumb to my efforts. He needs to return. I need the sales.
05/28/2017 - Compromises are Essential
If you know anything at all about me, you know that I love to write bawdy, humorous, and politically incorrect stories for adults. So, you may be wondering why I changed genre and became involved with a fiction-fantasy series for new and young adults. The answer comes from an unexpected source, the Alex Perez novels. Let me say this to you, when writers are buried in the comfort and safety of their office, they will pen anything regardless of whether it's revealing, off-color, or highly controversial. That was my case. At least until the day an envelope came from a publisher. In it was a letter with a contract.
I ran over to my dear wife, and said, "Sweetie, they are going to publish my book!" She gave me a serious look and said, "Which one?" The comment caught me off guard, the woman has a shadowy wit. "I'm only writing one, baby. They are offering me a contract for Cut and Run." She placed her book down and stared at me. "Who is dumb enough to offer you money for that dirty book?" I waved the contract in front of her face, Arte Publico Press, that's who, and its not a dirty book, its bawdy." I could see she was miffed and struggling to deal with the notion that my book was actually going to reach the public. "Well," she said, "I'm glad you're going to use a nom de guerre." I smiled, and then dropped the bomb. "Baby, I've decided to use my real name instead." All niceties faded. She went through a guanlet of facial expressions, none friendly. "But I have friends, relatives, and co-workers who will chastise me if they know I'm married to a porn writer." I smiled again. " Baby, it's not porn, it's bawdy." She cringed. "It's the same thing. You can't do this to me. You promised to use another name. What happened to make you change your mind?"
"I'm getting published. I want to use my name, it's called name recognition."
"You only have one book. How much recognition do you need? Please don't put your real name on it." All I can say about that insensitive request is, I've been married several times, and if I learned one thing (besides keeping my pants on) is the fact that they own the you-know-what, and if you want some of it, you must reach a reasonable solution to whatever problem is afflicting the relationship. Compromise is required for marital longevity. When the book came out, I had already spent the $3,000 stipend given to me by the publisher. The next rush would be my status as a published author. Yet the high was not exhilirating. On the contrary, it bummed me out. If you look at the back cover of Cut and Run, you will see the reason why. No photo at all. In expectation of seeing my handsome face on the back, I had already spent a tidy sum getting photos made. It chapped my arse not to see any of them on the book. Did I tell you they own the you-know-what? This resolution was acceptable to her. Two years later, I had another book ready to hit the market. This one I self published through CreateSpace, and Amazon placed it in their catalog. Unfortunately, the same problem returned to bite me. In Search of High Ground is worse than the first one. My lovely wife blew up, again. "Why do you insist in mortifying me? I'm in a new job now, and still in my pobationary period. My boss may not approve, and my co-workers will laugh at me. Why do you have to write dirty books!"
"It's not dirty, its funny in a sexual manner."
"The book is disgusting. All your main character does is go around bedding women. You're going to humiliate me, please don't put your photo on that one either. I don't want anyone at the office Christmas party to recognize you." Bite me, here comes another comprosmise. When the book finally came out, my wife looked at the back cover and smiled. She knew immediately that her husband was not only clever, but he was also not beyond putting her wants ahead of his needs. I looked at the back cover and gritted my teeth. The photo on it was not mine, it was that of a stranger.
When An Ill Wind that Blows no Good came out, the jig was up. She had come to accept that her husband wrote dirty books. My face finally appeared on the back cover. Now, you are probably wondering what all this has to do with the question posed at the beginning. The answer is everything. At the end of the third book about Alex, a man enamored with the female form, my female editor left me. She told me before she slammed the proverbial door that I couldn't create a strong female character if my life depended on it. She went on to say, and I quote, "All your female characters are nothing more than caricatures to be used and abused by your male characters." She also said I was a homophobe and a mysogynist. Normally I don't pay much attention to a one-person insult. But, as it turned out, a writer from California, a guy named David J. Peterson, in a long piece titled, New West or Old? Men and Masculinity in Recent Fiction by Western American Men felt the need to hit me below the belt, a few times. The blow that raised my hackles was the comment made about me being a homophobic and misogynist writer. There were those two words again. I took offense and decided to prove to both individuals that they were wrong. I created a series about heroic females and featured two sisters as the protagonists. In the series there are no gays, and all the females are strong and go around kicking men's asses. That is the reason why a man who loves to write bawdy, humorous, and politically incorrect stories (for adults) changes genre.