Smashwords Sale July 2015

You can get the ebook versions of two of my novels (Raw Footage and Finch In A Funnel) for $0.99 each through the end of July at Smashwords using the widget at the bottom of this web page. Type in code SSW75 to get the discount. Thank you.










Village idiot


The village idiot.

The village idiot.

Can you hear those words? Are you old enough to recall this socially charged term? Who even invented this phrase? For the most part, it has passed into history, thankfully. That is exactly why I chose it, though, for I do profoundly remember. It scared me to death as a kid, the idea that each village had a designated idiot, the poor soul who, when you encountered him, moved you to pity and invited the impulse that “Holy God, I am so glad that’s not me.”

Wow on us all, but, as an idiot pre-teen yourself, you needed to confront this fellow, come to terms with him and his faux celebrity status, take your measure of him and his idiocy, maybe, to see just how far above him you ranked. You wanted to rile and provoke him, make him do something stupid, a motion, a sound, a tic or a twitch, anything that would lay bare the base intellectual level of your hometown. After all, you and he came from the same sad place. Such a terrain for wisdom in a soul too young to see it. According to this dream, you will pay a price to witness the lowest of the low, for they are no circus act.


Village idiot

You are spitting through your two front teeth. Walking home from school on a small town sidewalk and spitting at will. A sizable slit separates those two buck teeth and you are spitting through the slit. You possess your most recent school picture with a smile that attests to the grandeur of the slit. You cannot stop, and no one can stop you. Last night you hit a grand slam homerun to lead your Little League team to victory. The Beatles have happened just in time to provide the pop accompaniment to your accession to the throne. Things are coming together, planets aligning. You know the Mass in Latin. Again, you cannot be stopped. The headiness heightens your self-esteem to the point that you spit. You learn to sling your saliva through the slit, angling your tongue to propel it to either side, straight ahead on a frozen rope and in sweeping arcs, all with no discernible movement of your head. You can target, hit and drown ants from three yards. You are very cool. You are twelve. Your grandfather opens a window. He does not know that, in addition to all accomplishments previously listed, you have also bombed Junior Bright. But you feel that somehow he has found out and now you are going to pay. You know that your grandfather, despite a daily job as a functionary at the town hall, tends a mean beet garden and has been known to pick a fight when confronted with change he doesn’t like. Now the beet garden slides into place behind the grandfather who has folded his arms across his chest and is about to lean on you heavy for spitting through your big front teeth and for bombing Junior Bright.

You have grown up thinking that every town in the world has a village idiot, almost by definition. Junior Bright is the village idiot. An adult retard. You see him now. Junior stands at the corner by his house where he lives with his ancient mother, and waves at you and the other kids walking home from school. He smiles a helpless smile. While your grandfather looms before you with beets bulging red in the background, Junior Bright smiles at you with his retarded, friendly smile.

Junior, it’s a bomb! That’s what you said as you and some friends tossed fistfuls of majestically hued fall leaves at him. Junior, it’s a bomb. You wanted him to run in fear. Your grandfather knows it. This will represent to his aging and protective mind some kind of changing of the generational guard, an unwelcome event to be sure.

Is Junior dead? He roars at you. Did you kill him? Did you spit your filthy spit at him? Now Junior is standing in the beet garden behind your grandfather. I’ll ask again, he says slowly. Did you throw a bomb at Junior?

You blame your friends first, blurting their names out without hesitation.

They did it.

You did it, your grandfather blasts you.

Junior waves a genial good-bye to you from a space between your grandfather’s back and the beet garden.

I didn’t kill Junior, Grandpa! He’s right behind you!

Your grandfather raises his hand to cuff you for insubordination and suddenly you are walking down Lower Maple on this endless journey home. You are tracking an old man in a long coat. Uncle Art. You pick him up near the bowling alley. An octogenarian whose nose runs like a faucet in every temperature and weather condition, snot just running down his upper lip into his mouth. The long black coat confers on him the aura of a crow flying away, and you wonder if he ever takes it off. When he speaks at you and your best friend Joey N., he caws through a crazy smile that makes you think of a crow flying through a sunshower. Uncle Art gives you a head fake and tears off in the opposite direction. The old crow is trying to outrun the twelve-year old boys on Lower Maple.

You and your buddy jump on the old crow’s back and soar into the heavens. You just wanted to make him fall down, to buckle his knees. Instead he grows wings and kidnaps you. He takes you to a nest that is on a mountain crag in a land unfamiliar to your eyes and minds. You are turned into bird eggs, little crows warming in his nest. You await your birth. You are plunked back onto the grimy tarmac of Lower Maple, and Joey N. and you are standing in the middle of Lower Maple, by the grocery that bisects your two streets. There is nothing left to do. You have had a good day. You do what you always do at this time of day, at this time in your lives, the Lucky Dance. Right there in the middle of Lower Maple by the grocery, timing your moves to the passing of oncoming cars, who cares, the Lucky Dance. Kind of like an Irish jig, it makes you feel lucky to be alive, that life is a dream and it will go on forever.

kelly4Thank you for supporting indie writers, and do not hesitate to visit my web site and/or to sample my writing. Thanks!

Michael / W. M. / William Michael

The Place Where Dreams Are Made


Lucky you. Not only do you get a free sample of Raw Footage: dream-tipped memoir, you also get a look behind the curtain of Dream Production Itself. Spoiler alert: it’s pretty crazy in there, an insane little cinematic studio inside a sea cave of memory. Studiously spitting out dreams to your clueless mind. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Here goes.


Dream factory

You are a satellite with an eye. You circle the earth. You spy with your little eye a reef, you think, a dreamy pastel of coral, a huge enticing tangle of it snugged up to a coastline and you know there is life in it, maybe even on a scale too much for you to comprehend. The universe on a beach. A network of life off the charts for you. But it isn’t coral, my friend, what you see with your eye—come down now for a tight close up—it’s a brain. A human one.

Do you not trace its pathways with that eyeball of yours?

The dependencies and frantic darting of its tiny, teeming citizenry?

Its stripes and stars? Its fins and snouts? Its schools and monsters?

Do bubbles not bubble from its prolific production?

A coral reef that is time itself, rebuilding itself daily and ever growing, ever accreting, a womb in the sea, a harbor of memory. Waves and currents nourish this playground, lapping and winding sudsily through the coral. Pinpoint a particular grotto inside the reef, a wormhole with clown fish and shrimp the size of electrons. A salty splash in your face now and then. Life must eat to live. Eat the weak and be eaten by the strong so that a memory evolves, the echo of what was and is and will be even. Poof.

Can you breathe?

Bubbles, boiling up from the agitation of work, ingestion, absorption, secretion. A factory whose iridescent hues light up the ocean shelf it perches on before the drop-off into the rural abyss. Have a look at it, yes, swim upright with me to the very edge and look over it. Life gradually vanishes in this wet black hole. You are falling but you will not remember it. There is no memory there. No past or future, just a mired present. Colors pinwheel in your poor head and already things cover your body that want to partake of it, a sitting duck you are. Already you are being scanned and studied for the potential value you bring to the commune. You are being used and consumed in the death throes of life building.

My voice is echoing, I know. Such things are known to unsettle you. Eerie to your ear that a single creature should have two voices like this that make harmony and melody like an echo chamber. The atmosphere sounds metallic to your ear, the medium of briny water in a bowl the size of worlds having a rim and a tendency to roil and roll. You will be dizzy no doubt. You hear things. The lowing of whales, the chatter of porpoise, claws mounting rock, sea grass swooshing, a banking, shape-shifting field of sound and bubbles and movement. The clatter of processing, all around us here, in every dimension of every sense.

We are awash in creation and survival.

There are no newcomers, not even you, William Michael.

Over there, a herd of shrimp. Galloping to a birthing. A seahorse father past the bursting point in his labor, holding in his unborn progeny well beyond what is possible so that he has turned a rainbow of colors and finally can contain himself no more and pumps a great mass of the crustacean microscopics into the sea like a fireworks gun. Boom. Boom. Boom. Each muffled boom carrying a hundred neonates on its wings, tiny swimming eyeballs shot headlong into post-partum oblivion. The shrimp crush them, devour them like a seeing-eye candy. Now they’re gone. And what of the father, you ask. Is he forlorn? How human, how quaint. Do you think such trivial matters as hurt or loss weigh on us?

Over there! Another pregnant dad. They are everywhere in the reef. His inward tail is wrapped around that sea twig. Do you see him swaying in the current? He is waiting. He gestates. He knows that the shrimp who will eat his offspring lurk in the great plains of sea grass and that they are watching him now with a programmed hunger that precludes the survival of all but a few of his brood.

A fairy tale where children pay the price? Obviously. A vast leafy woods, its dark center, two happy little seahorses gathering strawberries at the behest of an evil stepmother. The shrimp in waiting and the cute little all-eyed seahorses on their way to grandma’s house. Guess who will win. This story is a vineyard of stories. The grapes are peeled in the bowl with the rim that rolls and roils. It is a story of things that live and what precious little they learn about themselves in the short time allotted them. We are here in the reef which is so vast it can be eyed from outer space, here with a purpose and that is to save you. If scare you we must, then scare you we shall.

So up you go now! Back into your accustomed air, back into whatever you think sleep is. Wake then later to the dream of life and its colors of day. Your mind is your own again ’til tomorrow we meet. And rest well, I tell you, for the reef will regale you with stories about You-Yourself-and-You, in order to sharpen you, dull you, stunt you and grow you, tire and excite you, exhaust and invigorate you, praise and admonish you, instruct and construct you. In short, to teach you about yourself, to keep you alive.

Thanks for supporting indie writers.

Michael / W. M. / William Michael


Pick a dream, any dream!

Here they are, my friends, like a deck of cards fanned out before you, my dreams. Arrayed in no particular order. You just pick a card, any card, and read away. You can start and end anywhere you like. The dreams are but a few pages each, and chances are you will want to read another and maybe another. They are as revealing as tarot cards are intimate, a mystical blend of past, present and future. I wish I had thought of this metaphor as I was writing, the persona of a clairvoyant, crusty crone eyeballing you into submission over a handful of divining cards suits the narrator–my seahorse/hippocampus–to a tee.


Sour grape aside, the titles below refer to the improvised dreams my seahorse plays for me, just to make me clear on who I am and why I am here and where I am going. Remember, though, that chapter titles can be deceiving, that a book cannot be judged by its cover, so, please, go ahead, pick one.

  1. Dream factory
  2. Village idiot
  3. Yellow canary
  4. Skunk cabbage
  5. Blonde hair hangs from a tower
  6. Divil
  7. Necktie quilt
  8. Big words
  9. Minne
  10. Sophia
  11. Tenor gasp, brown eye
  12. Fences to mend
  13. Three letters
  14. Nixon on the way
  15. Figure eight
  16. House of the good shepherd
  17. Bloody birthday
  18. Al Kufrah
  19. Mocking bird
  20. St. Anne Four
  21. Fat banana haikus
  22. Oued crossing
  23. Hither and yon, hither and you
  24. In the crosshairs
  25. You are retarded
  26. Judogi
  27. Stammtisch
  28. Fabulous betrayal
  29. Nineties Noah
  30. Urgent
  31. Concert in the yard
  32. Grinder
  33. King of names
  34. Dopo tutto
  35. Suffixes are whores
  36. Birchdew
  37. Rope
  38. Godspeed
  39. Dinosaurs without borders
  40. Promontory
  41. Orange is the way to go    (Previous posts have dealt with cover design, the premise of the book and the preface itself. Thanks for supporting indie authors! Michael / W.M. / William Michael)



Thus Spake My Seahorse


This could be awkward, but hello. You would never be able to understand me directly. We are not of the same species, you and I, and so far, we remain unintelligible to one another. Yet, it may be that dreams are where we can arrange a bit of a rendezvous. I am the seahorse in this poor man’s head, the film editor, as he says. I am a hard thing to pin down. I do not use language per se, you see, images are my idiom, dreams. There is another world inside your own head, a world you do not fathom, a gateway to the knowledge of who you are and why you live, a place where you are known better than you know yourself. Do you shudder in awe at the concept of a thirty thousand foot mountain? Or a thirty thousand foot ocean trench? They are as nothing compared to the human mind in all its heights and depths. So come with me.

The subject here is a white male, of the American East Coast. Born in the era after World War II, which already speaks volumes about his aims, tastes and approach to life. He has been around long enough to amass dense hemispheres of experience, the big masses in him throbbing with the lopsidedness of success and failure, love and hate, art and fact, zeal and sloth. His is a big rambling life (maybe) and he has a hunger for adventure (on a certain scale). How things do twirl in that mind of his, outside of his awareness.

All of this is fodder for my art: his thoughts past present and future, his choices, his biases, his habits, his addictions, his beliefs, his innermost fears, all presented to you tipped, as it were, in dream, so that you might distill a memoir, abstruse as it may be, a portrait of this man. 

You will learn, as well, that in this fourth dimension the seahorse can dance a jig and burn a house to the ground.

First a table of contents so that you may see what is coming.

Then a small introduction to the dream factory. Enjoy.

Thus spake the seahorse.

First, the reminder that we all have a seahorse nested in our brains; now, in the preface to his seminal work, mine speaks to you–about me. He presents himself as the usher in a movie theater, bidding you with his flame-throwing eyes to a seat down in front where you should enjoy the show. He is rolling the film across his eyes. He teases you with a bit of bio (how dare he call me a subject?!), which, I suppose, I will call fair, as he knows far more about me than I do myself. He is an artful stalker, that is for sure, able to decipher me from his perch somewhere between consciousness and sub-consciousness, between dream and reality, between living and dying.

He claims to track the grooves of my existence, this little dictator, and then he spices it up, tips it with dream so that you may slowly discern a portrait of me. He calls his work art. He speaks of a dream factory and the fouth dimension. He says he can burn a house down and dance a jig.

I wonder if he wants a cut of the royalties…

More installments forthcoming.


My Premise, My Promise


They say, in so many words, that each mammal that has ever lived harbored a seahorse inside its head. Right there, at the base of every brother’s skull, a tiny creature engineered for no less a thing than memory. Hippocampus, they call it, this seahorse, and he is to us mammals as a film editor is to a moviegoer. Snipping and splicing away, he spins crazy yarns out of untold reels of memory, stretches out an infinite canvas and conjures up a rambling cinema just for us, for our poor sleeping selves. Defenses down, we are more revealed to ourselves in that fleeting maelstrom than in waking life itself.

So reads the preface to Raw Footage: dream-tipped memoir. In a few carefully chosen words, I tried to set the stage for what comes. Rooted in both science and art, the idea is that our hippocampus (the seahorse-shaped brain element located at the base of the skull) is responsible not only for long-term memory but–possibly–as well for dream production. To me, that is quite a statement, one that gave me a big opening as a writer. So, I mused, I could create a premise where my own hippocampus, my very own film editor, taps the bottomless well of mammalian experience and memory and plays me film-dreams every night as I snore away. Do you see what I mean? If dream is memory, then the written dream is memoir! With this one notion I was given the premise for a memoir narrated to me by my seahorse and made available to you. What a writing field, what a pallette!


I began to line up formative experiences in my life, actual events, and embed them in the kind of dreamscapes that an unkind seahorse might conjure up (for seahorses, especially our own, are severely unkind), scenarios and settings meant to be disturbing exactly because there is just enough reality in the dreams to indicate that all the rest of it might be true, too, and that is indeed a scary prospect.

I started writing my way into this project and found a rhythm, very much a jazz rhythm, that I had never experienced before in my writing. I caught the voice of the seahorse. At times taunting and hostile, at others passive, at still others chiding and ridiculing and scornful, he is no mere alter ego, more like an alter id! He wants me to suffer in the unconscious recollection of events, the more embarrassing and confounding the better. I should wallow in past failures and lose all hope for the days yet to come.

Somehow, in this maelstrom of personal loss and failure and nakedness, there is revelation, there is a fullness never achieved in consciousness. I wrote each dream (1/2-5 pages each) in about 3 hours and did not feel obligated to edit it until I had finished all 41.

That is the premise. My promise follows from it: You will know me.

What’s in YOUR birch tree?

People have asked where the cover design for Raw Footage/dream-tipped memoir comes from. You can see their point–a creepy birch forest giving way to some kind of path that is stalked by an outsize male cardinal.


Well, I would never have guessed it myself, but it is perhaps the central joy in writing fiction, and, that is what you unearth about yourself in the process. Especially in this kind of writing where you just let loose with an idea and write it. Don’t be fettered by grammar and style. Just let it happen, like a jazz man lets it happen, no editors allowed. No rewrites, the original is the only real thing.

Of course, though, I did have to read it before putting it out there, and, on the reread I discovered that a number of haunting images recurred in the 41 dreams. Surprised the heck out of me and got me thinking what an image so stark as a male cardinal in a birch tree might indicate about me. While that does remain an outstanding mystery, it happened enough inside the covers to believe it might be the best art FOR the cover.

I had to face the music, my own music: I do love birch trees more than life itself, always have, always will. It has to do with the black etchings on that pure white bark, yes, but I know there is something even more diabolical and otherworldly going on here. (For anyone who travels Rt. 4 through Woodstock, Vermont, the model birch tree for my writing stands on a small hill off to the left as you enter town from the East. It is beyond belief beautiful.) I’ll let you know if I ever figure it out. And then there is that ballsy little male cardinal, perched in the birch glade like he owns the place. He knows he is gorgeous and he is evidently your guide into my subconscious whether you like it or not. Is it coincidence that birds and trees save children in German fairy tales? Probably not, I’m thinking.

Anyway, I am just saying to you that writing unlocks all kinds of weird and wonderful things from your interior and allows them to bubble up to the surface where you and the world get to enjoy them and bask in the warmth of a greater understanding.

As always, please check out this book and my others, and bother to write a review–good or critical–here or on my author page at Amazon (W.M. Philion).