Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Diner Poems

The grandfather of the Diner Stories project is a book of poems I published back in 2009. "Diner Poems" is a collection of my memories, impressions, and statements on the diner gothic. Essentially, a gathering of portraits in print.

Here's one of my favorite poems from the book:


The waitress is still young, her skin
is still clear. Not yet showing
pockmarks that come from
a three-pack-a-day habit.

Male consumers still glance
at her cleavage every time she
leans over the counter. She's not
unattractive yet. Even with

the handles on her hips, and
a slight pooch over her waistline.
Her shirt is short enough that,
when she bends, a winged tattoo

is revealed at the base of her spine.
Her long brown hair is tied
in a short bob that flails
with every sweep of

her slender neck. And whenever
she arches her back,
her butt sticks out farther than
her stomach. So it's still

a given that she's not
unattractive, yet.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Kitchen sink post

A good burger can make a good day turn great. Which makes it a great burger after all.

Had a nicely done bacon cheeseburger at Atomic Grill, a great little local place. It's quickly turning into my favorite watering hole. All my friends eat there now. Some even work there. No better qualification for being a diner than a strong personal connection. Not just for me, but for everyone in town. I think this place will be around for a while.

Having a good time going through submissions for the book. Seeing some good stuff. Please keep them coming in. If you haven't submitted yet, I eagerly await your contribution.

Here's a few suggestions of movies with diners in them:

     "Diner" (1982) All-star cast with Tim Daly, Kevin Bacon, Paul Reiser, Mickey Rourke, Steve
                              Gutenberg, Daniel Stern, and Ellen Barkin. And that doesn't even cover the great
                              secondary cast! Set in 1959 Baltimore, these friends' stories converge every time
                              they meet for burgers and fries.

     "Empire Falls" HBO miniseries based on the book by Richard Russo. Starring Ed Harris as a
                              restaurant owner who has enough trouble holding onto his business, but then
                              family problems crop up.

    "Petrified Forest" (1931) Early Bogart film starring Bette Davis and Leslie Howard. Takes place
                                             almost entirely in a run-down diner in the Arizona desert. Also a good
                                             crime flick.

A little bit of everything in this post. Talk atcha later.

Good writing . . . and good dinering!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sometimes, I need a diner.

Just the other day, I went to a diner. Yeah, big surprise. Right?

But I went because I needed to go.

I went because I needed to be surrounded by the sounds that I love. The sounds of spoons stirring sugar into coffee cups. The sounds of thirty-odd conversations happening at once. The sounds of food cracking and popping on the grill. And the sounds of kids begging dad for a candy bar before they go home.

I need these sounds. I need them so I may reconnect with my reasons for writing, being, and living. When I worked at my uncle's diner, I had to do the hardest job I ever had to do by that point. It did something significant to me. It still does and always will.

I was 17 when I worked at the diner. Young enough to learn hard lessons. Old enough to carry the resolutions for the rest of my life. Because I was in a diner when I learned those lessons, being in a diner today both reminds me of, and reinforces, those lessons.

Maybe when you're in a diner, a spoon hitting the floor is just a spoon hitting the floor. To me, it's a little bit more. Everything there is a little bit more. Which makes the place, as a whole, a lot more.

And in a way, when I leave, I'm a bit more than I was before.

Good writing . . . and good dinering.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Guideline clarification for "Diner Stories"

For any wishing to view the complete guidelines for submission, go to the first post from June in this blog. Or if you'd like me to send them to you, e-mail me at diner.stories@yahoo.com. Don't forget the dot between "diner" and "stories."

We are not accepting poems for this collection, I'm sorry to say. I've gotten some beautiful poems from people, but it's just not the right time for them. But these poems make me think the authors have an idea what makes a good diner story. If you've submitted a poem, I encourage you to proffer a story.

Your diners do not have to be set in West Virginia. They can be anywhere. Some of my favorite diners are from out of state. Your diners can be actual or fictional, or actual in a fictional setting, as long as the reader believes them.

Lastly, make your titles intriguing. Getting a bunch of stories titled "The Diner" means I may spend more time than necessary sending e-mails asking if you have something different in mind. Also, just because it's a diner story does not mean "diner" absolutely has to be in the title.

I will read ALL submissions and will treat them all with the respect they are due. Make no mistake about that. I've gotten a few already and I see good things.

This is a good start. I can't wait to see what else is in store.

Good writing . . . and good dinering!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Please read: Submission hint for "Diner Stories."

Well, the time is here! Submissions for the book are finally open! So send in those stories, please! Submit to diner.stories@yahoo.com

I've said before that diners in the stories should be as much a character as the people in them. So be inventive. Just as no two people are the same, so are no two diners. Of course, they share a lot of common characteristics.

For example: a long counter with a row of swivel stools, a tile floor, a jukebox, booths by the window, surly waitresses and cooks, and usually some stainless steel, neon, or porcelain (depending on the type of diner).

A diner does not necessarily have to have all these elements. Nor does it need to have them in exactly the form I describe. Heck, it could have some stuff I haven't even thought to mention. But however your diner looks, it has to work in your story.

Your diner could look like paradise. Or it could look like a dive. I'm not so strict on how the diners look as long as they work for me.

That said . . .

Good writing . . . and good dinering!