I Can’t Stick the Ending

“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?”
― Kurt Vonnegut

My malady isn’t really writer’s block. Much has been written. I have been working on a novel since at least October of 2019 and despite putting seventy thousand words into word processing, I appear to be no closer to finishing it than I was in 2019. Five different endings reside in a folder daring me to open and pick one…or create a new one.

I’m hoping by sharing this excerpt, I might regain my mojo. It is part of the beginning when I created Gideon Bates and Maudie Jenkins, the stars of my great American novel. I need all who read to feed my narcissism and make comments about how wonderful the beginning of the novel with the working title Jenkins Gap is…I can’t even settle on a title.

To set the scene, Gideon Bates’ is on the run and his motorcycle has broken down on a lonely country road leading to a small village named Jenkins Gap. Contemplating his few options, fate intercedes when Maudie Jenkins stops and lends a hand to save the day.


The sound of a distant rumble brought him out of his ruminations. An old pick-up pulling a trailer began to labor as it inched up the incline. A thin stream of gray-blue smoke followed the truck as did the rumble of a gutted muffler. Gideon felt his spirits rise but he had to keep them in check. Many people would not stop for anyone, much less a long-haired, somewhat scruffy, hippie type…. “At least I don’t look like a stereotypical Hell’s Angels type.” 

Gideon was a shade over six foot two and well put together. Wide-set blue-gray eyes sat above a chiseled, slightly askew nose and below a broad forehead and bushy eyebrows. Wavy, dark blond hair was pulled back away from his square face which was reddened by the sun, wind, and Native American genes. Thin lips surrounded even white teeth. In his blue jeans, scuffed Red Wing boots, pink Jimmy Buffett t-shirt, and ancient leather flight jacket, he resembled the original MacGyver guy…if the original MacGyver had tried to field a ground ball with his nose.

Holding his thumb out he watched the truck slowly pull past him. Just as he thought, “Shit! They’re going to pass me by,” the old truck pulled over and shuddered to a stop. This wasn’t just any pickup. An early Sixties Ford painted in psychedelic colors and designs. “I’ve seen this design before…the Partridge Family’s bus? No, Janis Joplin’s Porsche. It is painted just like Janis Joplin’s Porsche.” 

Just for reference: Janis Joplin’s 1964 Porshe

An older woman hopped from the cab dressed as Janis Joplin might have dressed had she lived. Gideon placed her age somewhere north of sixty and she had an old-school, aging hippie vibe. She was painfully slender and tall, dressed in low riding faded and flare-bottomed blue jeans held below her narrow waist with a wide cloth belt featuring a peace sign belt buckle. A scooped neck long-sleeved tie-dyed tee emphasized her narrow shoulders and was worn above the jeans and leather “Jesus” sandals below.

Wild gray hair framed a face bronzed by the sun, still pretty despite the deep crevasses that cut her cheeks and the lines around her eyes and mouth. Brown eyes that twinkled sat below the oversized, round sunglasses she pushed atop her forehead. The mouth below her wide nose broke into a wide grin, her laugh lines deepening.

Her voice was a growl as she commented, “Young man I can tell from your aura you are in a bit of trouble.”  Grasping his hand with both of hers, she continued, “Hi, I’m Maudie Jenkins. The gods sent me to help you.”  The woman’s voice was a gravely, low alto that bespoke of too many late nights and cigarettes.

Before Gideon could speak, she continued, pumping his hand with great vigor, “That is a beautiful bike…it’s not a Sportster. What is it? My boyfriend and I rode a Sportster back in the Sixties…chasin’ the dream from Hot Lanta through NOLA to San Francisco and back again. Well…I came back again. Now, who did you say you were? My memory is not as good as it used to be…you haven’t told me your name, have you?”  She continued to hold Gideon’s hand as she chased her rabbits.

Gideon’s smile showed straight white teeth and laugh lines of his own, “No ma’am. I’m Gideon Bates and no it isn’t a Sportster; the bike is a 1964 Duo-Glide…or was. I believe a death knell has sounded for my engine.”

Again, pumping his hand, “Well Gideon Bates, I’m pleased to make your acquaintance. I’m sorry about your faithful steed, but had it not died we wouldn’t have met, and the intersection of our auras was destined to be.”

She stopped and pondered for a moment, “Gideon was the son of Joash and a great Israelite general. He won a great battle over the Midianites despite being outnumbered. Your aura tells me you were once a great leader and are destined to be one again.”


Walking to the back of the trailer she answered, “Everyone puts off an aura but only a few can see it. Fewer still can read them.”  Winking she continued, “I am one of the few…the blessed…or cursed.”  Her smile was impish as if she might be pulling one’s leg. Gideon was unsure.

Together they dropped the trailer’s tailgate, “Your aura is of a man who is troubled by more than a broken motorcycle, but one who is destined to do important things and find great happiness.  You were a great leader, weren’t you?”

Looking at his scuffed Red Wings before looking up and smiling, “I don’t know. I was in the army….”

“Yes, you were, an officer I’ll wager…or one of the real leaders, a sergeant. A leader of men just the same. A man soon to be on a knightly quest. I’ll help you roll your lame steed onto the trailer, and then run you into town. You are lucky, I just took several containers of old clothes to the clothes bank at the Presbyterian church in Waynesville and needed the trailer to get them there. We’ll drop your injured mount off at Shupee Dupree’s Busted Knuckle and he’ll have it right as rain in two shakes of a sheep’s tail.”

“Ms. Jenkins….”

“Maudie, please Gideon.”

Breathing deeply, “Maudie, I’m a little strapped for available cash….”

The aging hippie was like a child at a birthday party, wanting to open her gifts but forced to wait until the singing was done and candles are blown out, “Of course you are, now don’t you worry none. I know you are good for any expenses. I’ve been down on my luck myself.”

“I have money, I just have to get to an ATM….”

“Chile, I said don’t worry.”

“But Maudie….”

“Lawd have mercy boy, I said don’t worry, I was destiny that put us together today.”


So, it begins…if I could just stick the ending…and everything in between.


Don’s last fictional novel is “Thunder Along the Copperhead”, a depression era historical romance. You may enjoy it by downloading or purchasing in paperback at https://rb.gy/2s3wbx.

Mojo, Blivits, and  the Space-Time Continuum

♬Oh, where or where has my Mojo gone, oh where, oh where can it be?♬

It’s early summer and the days are long, the sunlight abundant.  I am not suffering from SAD. I am not depressed.  If anything, I’m manic…something I never am.  Downright squirrely.

John Phillips just reminded me, “The Mississippi River runs like molasses in the summertime.”  I don’t live near the Mississippi, but I’ve been outside, and the humidity is sticking like molasses in the summertime and it is not July yet.

I shouldn’t be running around sweating like this looking for my metaphorical gris-gris bag while searching for my juju.  Another way of saying, I can’t get my poop together.    And if I were able, I probably couldn’t pick it up because my hands are sweating too much from the humidity.

What mojo I had has galloped over the horizon into the distant sunset I am still waiting to light up from the Saharan dust storm.  Clouds, clouds, clouds.

As you can tell, my thoughts are fragmented and muddled, dancing about like Looney Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil.

I can’t get anything done.  My life is a nasty “blivit”, ten pounds of poo in a five-pound bag.  I flit from project to project while adding others, staring off into space, tapping my toes, contemplating, ruminating, and completing nothing.  COMPLETING!  I’m not even starting.

I sit knowing I should be doing something but doing nothing.  I should make it my goal to do nothing.  One can’t foul themselves with a “blivit” if you don’t touch it.

Some of you may think I’m speaking metaphorically or allegorically about irregularity…I am but it is more than a couple of failed bathroom trips although all my problems may center around constipation rather than the time-space continuum I am contemplating.  I just don’t know.

There are four storylines waiting to be finished, waiting for most of a year.  They aren’t finished because they suck largely.  A garden that needs extreme weeding and a yard that resembles an Amazon rain forest, a porch needing repainting, a home we’ve turned into a hoarder’s paradise…and today is my anniversary.  I have lost all control over my life, my yard, my mojo, and possibly my bodily functions, but I did not forget my anniversary…I think my bride did, but she recovered nicely.

And the virus…and the protests complete with looting, rioting, teargas, and downright nasty social media arguments.  I’m not going to wish my life away because there is no guarantee 2021 will be any better.  I just going to wish for a little movement…and soon.

Well, it is raining…dripping would be a better descriptor.  I see the sun trying to punch its way through the overcast. “Ole Sol” seems to be winning but the dripping gives me an out.  Instead of heading to weed my tomatoes, I sit writing this…This…whatever THIS is.

I have a theory.  Want to hear it?  You’re going to.

Writing is a way for me to face what is disturbing me.  The problem is I don’t know which disturbance has caused my mojo to run screaming into the day?  I have a plethora of disturbances.

The way my thoughts bounce around something must have happened to the time-space continuum.  There must be a rift in time.

In my head, a calm Picard orders, “Make it so, Number One,” while Commander Scott, the Scottish engineer implores, “But Captain, the engines won’t take anymore.”  In the background, I hear Benjamin Sisko’s father saying, “The soufflé will either rise or it won’t, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.”

I know, I just combined tall he Star Treks series, and unfortunately, in my condition, the Sisko quote makes perfect sense.  I told you; time and space are funky as is my colon…I mean my brain.

There must be some magic charm, some talisman, some spell that will make my mojo come back.

Maybe I’m looking in the wrong venue.  Time to appropriate someone else’s culture.  Surely there is a wise, old, New Orleans, Hoodoo priestess willing to cast good luck juju upon this humble soul.  What do you mean, Voodoo dolls aren’t used in Voodoo?

Despite the facts, I feel I must have a hat pin jammed deeply into my head…or parts south.

I can’t seem to concentrate on any one thing for any period of time if that period of time is longer than seconds.  I do a little research, a little writing, a little reading, pop up to watch a bit of an episode of The Kitchen, oh wow, grilled fish tacos, a little checking of social media, walk to the refrigerator, open and close the door without retrieving anything, head down to the garden, forget why I went down there, then out to the yard and find only ten minutes have passed despite my head telling me it has been hours.  IT IS a run-on sentence, and it fits perfectly with the way my brain and colon are not working right now.

Okay, so Voodoo is out.  Maybe my mojo IS lost in the space-time continuum.  Captain Kirk, lost between dimensions in The Tholian Web, came back.  Data died in one movie only to return in another series.  Spock died in one movie and came back in another, he even lost and re-acquired his brain in the same episode, Spock’s Brain.  So maybe my mojo will return!  More than likely it will be my “chickens coming home to roost” first…or maybe I should just eat more fiber.

John Phillips sings Mississippi on YouTube.

According to Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,

A gris-gris bag is a Voodoo amulet originating in Africa which is believed to protect the wearer from evil or bring luck. It consists of a small cloth bag, usually inscribed with verses from an African ancestor containing a ritual number of small objects, worn on the person.

JuJu is a spiritual belief system incorporating objects, such as amulets, and spells used in religious practice, as part of witchcraft in West Africa especially the people of Nigeria.

Hoodoo is a traditional African-American Spirituality created by enslaved African-Americans in the New World. It is specific to the distinct African-American lineage in North America. Hoodoo is the product of enslaved people and was a rebellion against absolute mental and spiritual domination by Europeans. Also known as Lowcountry Voodoo in the Gullah Lowcountry of South Carolina, Hoodoo is an amalgamation of spiritual practices, traditions, and beliefs that were held in secret away from White slaveholders. In some cases, Hoodoo was accompanied by Catholicism or Christianity.

Don Miller writes in different genres when not constipated and his author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR1-nlM-kc0EFF7g5-W4Vtkeary-O49oUk3PF_i7Z615YELZdIoxgnvCezk

The image is from Quora.com

The Curse of Chapter Fifty-Two


…or cursing Chapter Fifty-Two

I sit with my fingertips poised over the keyboard waiting for divine intervention.  It is not forthcoming.  Divine or any other type of intervention does not seem imminent.  It’s not writer’s block.  I know it is not the accursed writer’s block because I’m writing this.  Right?  Okay, it’s writers block.

I’m one chapter from finishing the first draft of my latest ‘great American novel’.  It’s not even the final chapter, I’ve already written the finale.  Tied up everything with a nice red bow except Chapter Fifty-Two.  I’m not gnashing teeth and shouting, “I can’t get it right.”  I’m shouting, “I can’t get it started.”  I’ll settle for getting it wrong.

Since divine intervention is not coming to my aid, maybe I should be working out a deal with the devil.  I read about someone doing that and if memory serves, it didn’t work out well for the author.  Do they have Voodoo priestesses near my little bit of heaven?

It has been a month or more since I first decided to skip over Chapter Fifty-Two and go ahead and write the end of my historical novel. My thought was, “I’ll just come back to it.  It will come.”  It hasn’t.  Blank pages from an even blanker mind.

The yarn is not exactly a western unless you consider the setting is in western Louisiana during the later days of Reconstruction.  It was a “wild and wooly” time in our history on the Texas-Louisiana border.  There needs to be gunplay but for some reason my stalwart hero, Allen Kell, is having problems dispatching the villainous Amory Hache.  Can I write it without killing off Hache?  I want to kill off Hache.

I’ve tried my normal go-to.  Getting slightly bleary-eyed with a couple of Jack Daniels.  Jack seems to soften and unfocus my mind leading to unexpected breakthroughs. Being unfocused can be a good thing unless you are out driving around. The idea, I become unfocused, write what I need to write, and then edit out all the useless meanderings the next day.  “Write drunk, edit sober” but wait until the hangover subsides.

After editing out all my useless meanderings in Chapter Fifty-Two, I’m left with a blank page except for the heading…Chapter Fifty-Two.  I even went back and deleted the heading but to no avail.  IT seems I have wasted a perfectly good buzz.

As April ended and May began, I decided to put my novel down and pick someone else’s novel up.  Maybe I can get a trigger from someone who is actually good at writing.  Twelve read novels later I’m still waiting for the firing “pen” to fall on something other than an empty cylinder.

This past Sunday I suspended all reading, writing, and drinking for a Scify series on Amazon matching a series of novels I had read during my month of May reading blitz.  Ten hours later my bride was checking to see if I had a pulse.  Like a silver-gray alien hand, the series had grabbed my attention.  Wow, was that as bad as it sounds in my head?  Maybe I should rethink writing anything.

I’m two episodes into the second season of The Expanse but I’m no closer to finishing…nay starting Chapter Fifty-Two.  The third episode of the second season of The Expanse is calling to me but so is the workweek.  Good thing I’m retired.

An idea?  I’ll skip Chapter Fifty-Two and make it Chapter Fifty-Three.  I’ll have to change the headings of the chapters that follow but I’ve got to rewrite anyway.  Or, under the heading Chapter Fifty-Two I’ll simply write something witty like, “Go to Chapter Fifty-Three because Chapter Fifty-Two is cursed”…or accursed.  That’s what I’ll do…right after I finish episode three of season two.


A reminder.  May is ALS Awareness Month.  Proceeds from purchases and downloads will be matched and donated to ALS research.  Don Miller’s author’s page may be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR3iBSWAqMGAmDe6L-iNMNwIituOo73IuMxudgo7jClvOl7dEjoqfcKEq50


The cute Voodoo Doll is from Learning Religions https://www.learnreligions.com/breaking-curses-or-hexes-2562588

Image of Hemingway with famous quote from PrawfsBlawg https://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2018/03/write-drunk-edit-sober.html




It’s Tuesday…I have been sharing my great wisdom and sense of humor on Tuesdays.  Sometimes I rant on all the subjects that bother me so….  Sometimes people even read them.  It’s Tuesday and I got nothing… nil, nada, zip, zero, zilch, nowt or is it spelled naught.  Hey, that’s something.

For a week I have been awaiting something to trigger a thought, something that I might find interesting to write about.  Something uplifting on World Human Rights Day?  Nothing!  I have waited patiently for divine motivation.  Nothing has sparked my interest.  I…GOT…NOTHING!

Clear your mind, something will manifest…I… GOT…NOTHING.

My mind is literally filled with thousands of subjects, nothing very interesting.  Nothing whispering, “Now this is something you need to blog about.”  No cute stories about forgotten youth, flamingoes, puppy dogs, or coming of age.  No rants on the joke that is the state of national affairs.  N-O-T-H-I-N-G!  At least nothing I’ve not spoken to.

Be honest.  There is something.  Anger.  I’ve turned into an angry old man. Angry because I’ve got nothing.  Angry because I’m afraid.  Afraid I’m running out of stories.  Angry because I can’t seem to get motivated beyond the occasional shower and change of underwear.

I have a vision of an old man sitting in his recliner surrounded by empty beer cans and molding pizza boxes.  Flies buzz overhead.  An ashtray is overflowing with cigar butts.  His tomato sauce stained t-shirt is covered in ashes and burn holes from the embers falling from his cigar.  He is staring at his TV set wondering where he hid the remote, deciding the infomercial about incontinence is better than getting up and searching for something to change the channel.

Is thinking about nothing thinking about something?  Elevate your mind…but ‘maryhoochie’ is still illegal in this state.

I need to do something positive…but I want to do nothing.  Is stepping out into the rain and removing overnight puppy turds positive?  I guess avoiding stepping in dog sh!t is positive.

Oh, my poor daughter.  “What is your father’s legacy?”  “Writing about dog turds.”  I have become an embarrassment to my wife, daughter, grandchildren, puppy dogs…and myself.

Okay, I’ll quit the self-pity.  Writing about nothing has done nothing for my mood.  I’m sure it has done nothing for yours either.  Tune in next Tuesday…it’s got to be better.

For more uplifting blogs or stories go to Don Miller’s author’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Dealing with Writer’s Block


And that is a huge joke…one I’m not laughing at.  It’s not writer’s block, is it?  No, it is insanity.  It’s a little early for Seasonal Affective Disorder to rear an ugly head.

Writer’s block…”All work and no play make makes Jack a dull boy…Don a dull boy.”  I feel like Jack Torrance in The Shining although I’m not ready to chop a hole in a door….Maybe mad enough to chew nails and spit rivets…what in the hell does that even mean?  I think Don was a dull boy before the writer’s block.

Writing about writer's block

I’m writing about writer’s block.  Geez.

Honesty is the best policy.  It’s not just writer’s block.  It is do anything block.  I gave up and tried reading and then continued to binge-watch the series Justified… looking for motivation, to no avail.  I failed. I didn’t get my chores done either.  I’m such a slug.  All I did was vacillate between the activities I refused to do.


I have too many voices chanting in my head.  Imaginary friends, voices of long-dead friends, voices of enemies I wish were…no, I don’t wish that on anyone.  I have voices from characters in three different storylines I’m having trouble completing.  Completing?  I just want to move forward a bit.

I just reread forty-four chapters in one and deleted half of them.  I deleted them on purpose…garbage I say, garbage!


I went for my morning exercise.  Usually, a bit of exercise will clear my head and quiet the voices.  I focused on the portion of the story involving the death of a major character.  I wrote it in my head, around and around it went, like flushing an imaginary toilet until I got it just right.

Returning home, I sat the chapter aside and let it marinade before sitting down and failing to get it written down.  Could death be the problem?  She is a fictional character and the story won’t work without her untimely demise…Geez.  I’ve become attached to someone who doesn’t exist.


It is another day and I write in the morning, in the pre-dawn hours…or in this case stare at my computer screen.  It suits me most of the time.  Friendly ghosts seem to surround me, whispering in my ear.  They provide no help.  I hear their little “Casper the Friendly Ghost” voices ridiculing me.  Maybe they are not that friendly.

I’ve wasted two hours of prime writing time writing this blog.  My story sits, unwritten…all three of them.  Lucretia still lives.  Allen Kell is frozen in my mind, his hand hovering above his six-gun as he tries but fails to save her.  How will he not save her?

Total word count for today

I must shut down the computer and start my day.  Exercise and then major chores.  Like the story of the hard-working ant and the lazy grasshopper, winter will soon be upon us and there is so much left to do…from not doing it during the summer.  Preparations must be made, must be made, must be made…if I say it enough….  How does a fiddlin’ grasshopper morf into a hard-working ant?

Don Miller, when sane, writes on various subjects, some real, others imagined.  Access his author’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Images from various meme mines.