Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Vinnie's Cross

The following is a short fiction story for your amusement. The name Dellacroce, of the cross, popped into my brain and I decided to roll with it. Feel free to offer your critique.

* * *

Vincenzo Dellacroce, known as Vinnie, was a third generation Italian American and our next door neighbor in Seal Beach, California. You wouldn’t guess his Italian ancestry except for his large Roman nose, his habit of talking at the top of his lungs with hands flailing, and his love of Italian cuisine. He had never set foot in Italy and probably never would. His Italian language skills were limited to the names of various types of pasta.

Vinnie was an amiable fellow, handsome, even intelligent, skillful electrician, but he had a few shortcomings. The youngest of eight, none of the lessons of life ever filtered down to him. His parents barely noticed him. He got by on charm and good looks. But life has a way of eventually catching up. No one is exempt from the laws of gravity. Vinnie fathered six children, two of them bastards, and never managed to change a single diaper or burp a colicky baby. He liked sports of all kinds so he always showed up at his kids’ games and took great pride in their athletic successes. That, in his mind, made him a good father. He paid the bills, kept a roof over their heads, and went to church. What more could anyone want from him? He smiled his way through life. Vinnie was a great guy.

His first wife Maria, a good Catholic, bore him four sons in rapid succession until she decided she would rather go to hell than bear another child to raise by herself. Maria had never graduated from high school and could barely read or write. Child rearing was a big stretch and with little help from Vinnie she floundered. They quarreled until neither one of them could tolerate their miserable lives. Divorced, they were both free to find new partners.

Dellacroce was the perfect surname for Vinnie. Maria was not as retarded as Vinnie thought and she nailed him to the cross. Vinnie forked over the alimony and child support. But now that he was a ‘free’ man, he started chasing the women and playing the horses with full abandon. The problem was that Vinnie had such a fragile ego that he fell for the first woman to cross his path and bask in the sunshine of his sweet personality. He fathered a daughter with Christy, a woman nearly half his age. She moved on when she found a suitor with more money in his pockets than Vinnie. Vinnie shucked out several thousand dollars to make her go away and wrote the child off as a mistake. He would never see his daughter again, but he harbored the naïve hope that someday she would seek out the father that had so readily abandoned her.

Next up on the hit list was Conchita Gonzalez, a hot little Latina who set Vinnie’s heart on fire. Actually, Vinnie was more in love with her crazy big family than he ever was with Conchita. What he didn’t know was that Conchita was the diminutive name for Concepcion and, sure enough, she was pregnant by their fourth date. It was either get married or get killed by her brothers and uncles. Vinnie resigned himself to his new life with Conchita, but two weeks before their wedding, Conchita was hit by a runaway semi on the freeway. Vinnie shed tears, but secretly he was relieved to be free of his responsibilities as husband and father.

Vinnie took stock of himself and signed up with an online dating agency. Within two months he fell madly in love with Lola, a petite Asian woman. He liked the fact that she was a hard-working real estate broker and that she had beaucoup bucks in the bank. She had no interest in having children, in fact, she was too old to have children. He liked her large, close-knit, money-grubbing family. He imagined he was on his way to becoming a real estate mogul with the help of Lola’s family connections. There was only one fly in the ointment: his four kids by Maria hated her. There was constant friction between neat, uptight Lola and his children who were unmotivated, lacking in basic human skills, and slovenly. Vinnie was to hang onto this marriage for 17 years because it was more like having a roommate than being responsible to a spouse. Lola was not interested in anything he did and she made few demands on him. But the day came when Vinnie wanted to buy an RV and make a grand trek to all the national parks in the country. He had this nagging feeling he needed to fill a hole in his heart. Lola adamantly refused and Vinnie hopped in his RV and hit the road by himself. When he returned two months later, all his personal possessions had been put in storage or hauled off to Goodwill, his savings accounts had been cleaned out, and Lola served him divorce papers. She clipped him for half of all his retirement savings and Vinnie bowed out, a little poorer, embittered, a little more desperate for love than ever before in his life.

Vinnie was feeling religious and he loved to gamble. He moved to Las Vegas and joined a non-denominational church in hopes of finding a comfortable community far, far away from Lola. It wasn’t long before he fell into the arms of church-going Suzanne, an attractive blond cocktail waitress with lots of curves and an easy smile. She had grown children and although she had been through several divorces, Vinnie was willing to overlook all that if she was willing to sign a prenuptial agreement. He was becoming wary in his old age, he told himself. He needed to protect himself from the potential of yet another greedy spouse. Vinnie showered Suzanne with expensive gifts and trips, expecting her to return his generosity by signing the prenup. No deal. They quarreled before the wedding and even more after the wedding. They tried counseling but Suzanne was uncooperative. Their marriage spun wildly out of control. Vinnie was stunned by Suzanne’s selfish mean-spiritedness. Finally, he packed his belongings and left. He paid her off: sign the divorce papers or I’ll take you to court, he threatened. She took the money and ran to the bank, laughing, mocking him on Facebook. She had fleeced him like all the men before him.

Shattered, Vinnie was even more determined to find love. He screened the personal ads for an attractive, intelligent, hard-working woman with whom to build a new life. Victoria McQueen was all of that and more, a skilled seductress and, well, a queen, royalty. She laid it out for him. He would buy her the big diamond and the big house. He would do her bidding and when he failed to meet her demands, she scolded him like an errant courtier. Vinnie was in over his head, yet desperately trying to fit his square soul into Victoria’s vision of the good life. It was Vinnie’s undoing. The last nail in his cross. One day Vinnie drove to the local animal shelter and picked out a sad looking mutt that looked afraid to hope for a home of his own. That was the one, Vinnie decided. He drove back home, emptied the contents of his wife’s jewelry box (he had bought most of it) in his packed suitcase, grabbed his laptop and important papers, tossed everything in the trunk of his car, and left with his unnamed dog pal. Victoria would miss her jewelry more than she would miss him. As he drove down the road, he felt a slight twinge of hope when he looked over at the dog and noticed its wagging tail and expectant gaze. He stroked the dog's head. He should have gotten a dog a long time ago.


  1. Ah, Vinnie learned a lesson right at the end. Dogs will love us anyway, despite our flaws. I love the wit in this piece, Linda. My only criticism would be that I think it would be better broken up by dialogue. I keep looking ahead for some direct speech, but there was none. You can introduce direct speech when he looks back and remembers what someone said to him. Just dialogue.


  2. But Vinnie doesn't need a dog - he is a DOG. This little story moves along at a great rate. I could barely process one gal before
    Vinnie was off with another. He sounds vaguely familiar...I guess all of us have run across a Vinnie-type at some time during our lives.

  3. I forgot to mention that I liked it!

  4. Yes, this story went by in a flash. Just for fun. It should be fleshed out into a more complete story, but it was fun throwing it together.