From My Newsletter

You’re Invited to a sneak preview!


Because of overwhelming (ish) requests, Volume 2 of the Jonny Gonzo series If Mistakes Could Fly, You’d Be a Superhero is going to be released in the upcoming months.

A full length novel, Bat Cave Blues, will complete the trilogy.

As a faithful subscriber to my newsletter, I’m sending out a sneak preview of one of the stories that will be included in the second volume.

Basically, I dreamed that Jonny Gonzo had a crocodile named Rocky, so I got up and made it so.

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Without any further noise, I give you Jonny

Gonzo, in the tentatively titled, If the Zoo Snoozes, it


The day was like any other day, except that a

crocodile was waddling down the sidewalk towards

me. Since the hour was before four a.m., I hadn’t

been hitting the sauce yet, so I knew this was legit.

I’m Jonny Gonzo, PI. The city is my beat.

The crocodile stopped when he reached me,

which took him a while to do, on account of my

frantic pack-peddling. However, when I finally

bumped up against my Econoline, I reached inside,

grabbed a length of rope, and made a lasso.The croc,

he just looked up grinning at me with that million tooth

smile and beady eyes. Matter of fact, I wouldn’t say

he was much different from the hundreds of creeps

and perps I dealt with on a daily basis.

I dropped the lasso around his neck and the

crocodile started walking. When we rounded the

corner, a big, aggressive bum with an even more

aggressive pit bull approached me. We both reigned

in our animals and stood there. He said three things

and got two of them wrong:

“Do you have any spare change, bro? Dude, is

that an alligator? Does he bite?”

The answers were, “No, no, and…” I watched as

the croc swallowed his dog whole. “No, he just eats, I

guess. Have a nice day.”

Then the rummy was all up in my business. “Hey,

you can’t just walk around here like you own the

place, letting your friggin’ dragon slaughter helpless


I looked at him. “Was your dog spayed?”

“What? No.”

I smiled. “This,” I pointed at the Crocodile, is how

the city is dealing with un-spayed pits. Have a nice


The guy wanted to say something else, but just

then the croc opened his mouth wide. From inside,

the dog barked. The guy ran. I turned back. I was

going to have to get this Croc in the van, or pretty

soon the pit bull was probably going to have

company. We turned right into the path of the head

county boy himself, Sergeant Joe Bidwell.

“Well, well, well, Gonzo. Today’s my lucky day.”

I lit a cigarette while trying to keep the croc

restrained. “Why do you say that, Bidwell?”

“The zoo called us in a panic. Their star alligator

escaped early this morning. Now I’ve found him, and

my job’s done for the day.” He reached for the rope.

“Not so fast, Bidwell,” I said. “This isn’t an alligator,

it’s a crocodile.”

Bidwell’s smile froze. “Yeah? Where’d you get


“Pet store.”

“Really? Then what’s his name?”



“Yeah. Rocky.”

“Like in that Beatles’ song.”

“Something like that.”

“Pet store.”

“Yeah, pet store.”

Just then “Rocky” opened his mouth and and

barked. Bidwell’s eyes became donuts.

“See?” I said. “They kept him near the dog


Bidwell took a step back. “Let me get this straight,

Gonzo. The zoo people are going to ask me if I’ve

seen their alligator. I’m going to tell them, ‘No, but I

did find a barking crocodile,’ is that right?”

Rocky was really straining toward Bidwell now,

and I think the growling was coming from him, not

the dog. “Spin it however you want, Bidwell,” I said.

“But if you don’t get out of my way, in addition to

barking, this crocodile is going to start blowing police


Bidwell repositioned the hat on his head. “Well…

keep your eyes peeled, Gonzo. If you see

anything…suspicious, let me know.”

Just then, the Crocodile opened his mouth again

and from deep inside came a bark. Next, a meow,

followed by a man’s voice: “Will you two shut up? I’m

trying to get some sleep in here.”

Bidwell and I stared at each other. “Will do,

Bidwell. Eyes peeled.”

“Um, appreciate it, Gonzo.”

“No problem, Bidwell. See ya later, alligator.”

“After awhile, crocodile.”

​     We parted. I had to get home, fill the bathtub up

with water, and myself up with some Wild Turkey.


Do You Write Like You Talk?


Many writers think their writing will be more natural-feeling if they write like they talk. They think it will have a truer ring to it. The problem with this is unless you are William F Buckley Jr., you don’t want your writing to sound the way you talk!

For instance, my speech is lazy. I use lazy words. “went, felt, was, whatever,” these words tumble out of my everyday conversation like wet socks out of a dryer. How would you like to read the following passage in a book?

She went into the kitchen. “’Sup?”

He was all: “Same ol’ same ol’”

She went over to the fridge. “I saw her today.”

So waddup?”

Well, she went, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ So I was all, “You are so not telling the truth.’ and she goes “Really? You gonna go there?’ So I was all, ‘Whatever.’”

He went quiet. “She knows.”

Oh really? Do ya think?”

Sadly, That is the way I talk, pretty much. It’s real and natural to me, and people follow along just fine. If I wrote like that, it would be natural and real, but not even my mother would read it. Well, she doesn’t read what I write, anyway, because I can’t write spy thrillers.

I would, as a writer, and not a speaker, change that sample passage thusly:

She slipped into the kitchen, but looked out the window instead of at him. “So what’s the story?”

He peeled an orange, most of it ending up in the sink, the rest on the floor. He tore a large, juicy piece off, and stuffed it in his mouth. “What story?”

She turned from the window, looked at his bulging cheeks, the orange peels on the floor, and then crossed to the refrigerator, yanking the door open. No wine. She inhaled, then said, “Apparently, she didn’t have any idea of what I was talking about.” She grabbed at an orange in the crisper and turned to face him.

He stared at her, juice dribbled down his chest.

She put back the orange. Still looking inside the fridge, she said, “I told her, ‘Are you really going to lie to my face like that?’”

Another chunk of orange ripped apart. “And…?”

Notice I’m not using big words on the rewrite. It still sounds natural, but it stands up on the page, instead of laying down dead. A seventh grader should be able to read and follow your writing without feeling like he’s reading one of his friends’ texts.

Back to William F. Buckley Jr. His political pieces were written in the same way he talked. For example, Buckley wrote this about Islam as it related to the 9-11 terrorist attacks. I think. I’m not sure, because I can’t understand it:

It is thought to be a sign of toleration to defer to islam as simply another religion. It isn’t that. It is a form of condescension. Carefully selected, there are Koranic preachments that are consistent with civilized life. But on September 11th we were looked in the face by a deed done by Muslims who understood themselves to be acting out Muslim ideals. It is all very well for individual Muslim spokesmen to assert the misjudgment of the terrorist, but the Islamic world is substantially made up of countries that ignore, or countenance, or support terrorist activity.

However, Buckley knew that when writing novels, he couldn’t get away with writing the same way he talked. I’m much more able to relate to this passage lifted from his novel, Marco Polo if You Can:

The prosecutor wore civilian clothes, a double-breasted, ill-fitting, broad-lapeled brownish suit that looked as though it had been washed in clam chowder.

Whatever. Late.