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ralph robert moore


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ralph robert moore

Copyright © 2011 by Ralph Robert Moore.

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pinkly lick up
august 1, 2011

Q: It's hot in Texas now, right?

A: The day I'm writing this, July 28, we've had twenty-seven days in a row of temperatures over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. With many, many more days of triple digits forecast. Plus, just as important, the nightly temperatures have not dropped below eighty degrees, which means the land never gets a chance to cool off. It just gets hotter and hotter and hotter. You turn on the cold water tap, and warm water comes out. If you leave the tap on, the water gets warmer and warmer. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), kind of a scary Orwellian-sounding name, is asking Texas home owners to voluntarily reduce their electric usage between the hours of 3:00 PM and 7:00 PM. If that doesn't happen, the electric companies in Texas will resort to the rolling blackouts they did last year, where the power goes out in homes without warning, from fifteen to forty-five minutes at a time, comes back on for a hour or so, then shuts down again. In those periods without electricity, when the ceiling fans slowly revolve to a rest, showing the black dust on their blades, and no cold air is blowing out of the metal vents in the walls, it's kind of a drag to sit inside your darkened home, heat rising, that unpleasant closeness of warm air on your skin. And not be able to turn on the radio, or TV, or computer. That's when the candles and board games come out. Which is fun, but you never finish a game, because halfway through that swelter, the lights come on again. I can't tell you how many times we've folded the board back up with my metal top hat still in jail.

Q: So do you go outdoors?

A: As little as possible. It's even hotter out there. Basically, we go out the front garage door to walk down the sidewalk and get the mail, and out the backdoor as early as possible in the morning, before it gets too hot, to refill the bird feeders with bird seed, and walk the hose around to water our potted tomato and basil plants, and fill the concrete bird baths. Even going out to the garage to get some frozen meat to thaw for the next night's dinner is unpleasantly warm. Thank God we have a service that mows our lawn. I wouldn't want us to be out there, at the top of the driveway, yanking on the cord of our lawn mower, trying to get it started.

Q: When will it end?

A: Historically, the worse heat is still to come. In Texas, the hottest temperatures are in the last two weeks of July, the first two weeks of August.

Q: What else is going on in your life?

A: The past few days we've spotted a male painted bunting in our backyard, perched on a branch above a birdfeeder, ready to swoop down. They're absolutely beautiful birds, small, with cobalt blue heads, bright red breasts, canary-yellow feathers just behind the head, a purple and pastel blue feather pattern along its lower back, and maroon and purple tail feathers. All those vivid colors, for such a small bird! The painted bunting arrives in Texas in April, but this is the first sighting we've seen of one this year. They leave in October or November, to fly south to Mexico and Central America. Because of their beautiful colors, they used to be captured and caged, but that's now (fortunately) illegal in the United States (caging any native bird is now illegal in the United States.)

Our oldest cat, Sheba, he's about sixteen years old at this point, but still relatively spry, although with a bony spine at this point in his life, has discovered I leave a water glass on the table on my side of the bed. I've woken up the past few nights to discover him on my side of the bed, orange face trying to nuzzle down into my drinking glass, attempting to pinkly lick up the lowered level of water. I sleepily hug his purring ribs in the dark, barely able to see him, especially on these moonless nights, but feeling with my fingers how damp his front paws are, which means he's probably dipping his feet into my water glass, to get his paws wet, then suck the moisture off his toes into his mouth. Which makes me not want to take the delicious gulps of water I usually do throughout the long night.

During a recent wind storm, which unfortunately brought no rain, just blew all the leaves on our trees backwards, so we could see their veiny undersides, the middle section of our rear privacy fence blew down. We propped it back up with an assortment of poles, including the poles we used years ago, attaching paint brushes at their ends, to paint the ceiling in our tall bedroom. But the fence is still sagging, like a stomach. The fence lasted twenty years, much longer than our neighbors' fences, so we really can't bitch about it finally giving up. We have to call a fence company to come out to replace the length. It's heavily covered in green ivy, so that's probably going to make the replacement cost even more, yanking off all those thirty-foot vines.

Q: Any writing news?

A: Cast Macabre has posted its podcast of my short story, Big Inches. Barry Northern runs the site, and really did an incredible job. Alasdair Stuart performs the piece, and he's brilliant at drawing out the nuances of my words. It really made the story come alive for me again, after so many years. I couldn't be more pleased. You can listen to the performance here.

Cast Macabre has since bought podcast rights to another story of mine, The Little Girl Who Lives in the Woods, which appears in my latest collection, I Smell Blood. I can't wait to see what they do with it.

My short story Daddy's Glad Hands has been sold to the anthology Writings on the Wall, published by Seven Archons press. I'm excited to finally see it in print. It's one of my favorite stories.

I usually try to write one new story a month, but often end with fewer than twelve stories by the end of the year, just because some stories are more difficult to write than others. But so far this year, I've managed to write seven stories in seven months, which is kind of a record for me.

Here's the line-up so far:

January: No new story. I wasn't happy with any of the ideas I had.
February: The Yellow Fruit (3,350 words)
March: Ghosts Play in Boys' Pajamas (5,300 words)
March - April: Imperfect Boy (9,100 words)
April: Our Island (4,000 words) (Sold to the anthology, Where Are We Going?, to be published by Eibonvale Press)
May: My Doll Likes to Eat (7,450 words)
June: Half-Haunted House (10,250 words)
July: Green with Demon (10,500 words)

So that's 50,000 words in new fiction.

I'm about to start a new short story I'm excited about, Warfarin. After that comes, The Ghost That Smelled Like Fish. Each will be about 10,000 words.

Talking about "number of words" made me wonder how many words of fiction I've written over the years.

So I did a quick count.

At this point in my life, I've written 5 novels, for a total of 500,000 words.

I've written 76 stories, for a total of 485,000 words.

So about 1,000,000 words of fiction.

Plus, it's gotta be at least 500,000 words for all these Latelys.

Q: You sound mighty pleased with yourself.

A: Yeah. I know. But I am. I wanted to be a writer since I was a little boy. And I became one.