SMP Author Blog

Today was my Sunday to post on the SMP Author’s Blog. Wrote a nice little piece about my most recent experience with editing Sir Kay, along with my personal hows and whys of editing.

On the Blog Rhoad with Rusty

(yes, that’s the name they’ve assigned my blog posts)


Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail: Chapter 7

Part one of the plan that The Boomer’s beer and my Machiavellian alter ego hatched was basically simple: first thing the next morning I would go to The Vul­ture’s and try to buy the goblet. So bright and early (9am qualifies when you’re a grad student) that Sun­day morning, I was up and nattily dressed in sports coat, slacks, and a real neck­tie. Fortunately for our strategy, Judy Blue Eyes, who can’t imagine not replacing a significant portion of her wardrobe every year, and my mother, who can’t stand to see me in public with my knees showing through my jeans, team up to keep me presentable. Which is a damned good thing, since I had­n’t set foot in a clothing store since starting college. For some reason, though, none of the women in my life will buy men’s shoes, and I hoped The Vulture wouldn’t notice how scruffy mine were. The Boomer had even fitted me out with a false mustache to insure that The Vul­ture wouldn’t re­member me from Erma’s.

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Flashback to the ’70s.

Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail appears to be a flashback romp to the early 70s, almost the 60’s but not quite. Curiously, when it was first written (1989-ish), it was a lot closer to the time of the book. Mobile phones were called “car phones” and weighed about 10 lbs. It was a different world, a lot closer to the 60s than it would be to 2014, which wasn’t even imaginable then.

A lot of it was also present tense. Which made it immediate and funny at the time. And totally nonsensical when read in 2014.

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Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail: Chapter 6

Time passed.

Folk wisdom teaches that when there is nothing memorable going on, time drags while you are living it but seems in ret­rospect to have flown because you have nothing to mark its going. Thus the bored housewife looks up from her iron­ing to dis­cover that it’s only five minutes later than the last time she looked—some­thing she should have known since no commer­cials have interrupted As Our Lives Turn, which she ‘is­n’t really watching’ but can tell you ev­ery wrinkle in every sub­plot, which is more than you can say for the shirt—but before she knows it there are only nine more shop­ping days until Christ­mas and the forty pounds that she re­solved to shed last Janu­ary are still there, safe as a dead bug in a room full of hungry toads. (If you slept through the biology class where they mentioned the fact that a toad will starve to death before eating a dead bug, you are hereby enlightened.) Unfor­tun­ately, knowing the theo­ry did­n’t help me one iota. Never once did I look up at the cal­endar and say, “Gee, where has the week gone?” The hours dragged, the days dragged, the whole damned week dragged.

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Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail: Chapter 5

Having decided what to do, all we had left was to decide how to do it. Which involved an entirely different mental process, since we were out of beer. Poor old Barbie had begun to sound raspy, her batter­ies worn down from an afternoon of talking without saying anything of merit. My batteries were pretty drained as well. But I steadfastly refused The Boomer’s offer to get more beer—I wasn’t going to spend another night drinking and end up having to sweet-talk Jimbo Bond at anything less than 100%.

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Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail: Chapter 4

The goblet was gone.

The shelf where I’d left it looked like Troy after Aga­memnon and the boys had finished with it. Hector the enamel cof­fee pot lay slain on the table, along with the corpse of a bat­tered canister that he’d taken with him. Paris the once jaunty brass can­dle­stick had fallen in two pieces, sliced in half by a sin­gle sword stoke or laid low by a stripped screw, half buried beneath a trivet and a rusted egg beat­er. Ra­vens were begin­ning to cir­cle.

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Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail: Chapter 3

Fifteen minutes later we were heading back home in Judy Blue Eyes’ baby blue VW Superbeetle that she’d affectionately named Pookie. How she ever persuaded her Cadillac-totin’ daddy to buy her a ‘death trap made by goddamned furriners’ I’ll never know.

I still vividly remember the first and only time I met Daddy Blue Eyes. I spent a long hour one afternoon dining with Mr. Riggs—first name Mister, of course—and the esteemed Missus, who had ‘just dropped by’ from Mid­land or Odessa or one of those other dusty humor­less places that pass for civi­lization out in West Texas. A town where a hun­dred years ago there was nothing there but a gener­al store—probably owned by Mr. Riggs’ great grandfather—that sold hard goods at what­ever price they could get away with, and a saloon that took care of everything else: feeding your horse, cut­ting your hair, sloshing you down with cheap whis­key to make you for­get the end­less hours of eating the dust and smelling the farts of about a zillion head of cat­tle tak­ing their own sweet time getting from one saloon to an­oth­er, and sell­ing you brief, furtive sex because there was no other way to get laid out where you were.

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A Bit about Bradley

(yes, I’m going to post a chapter later today. But I wanted to say a bit about Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail first, and yesterday was way to busy for such delights)

Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail was originally written in 1989-1990. After a number of unsuccessful half-steps and stutters into the miasma of novel writing, I discovered my voice and off we went. After that, the words just seems to appear on paper. I can’t say that it was ever work, as in the sort of tasks you dread but have to do anyway.

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Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail: Chapter 2

The half hour that followed is pretty much of a blur. Not that losing blocks of time back in those days was all that unusual, waking up the morning af­ter a night of hard drinking and not remembering what had gone on. But this blur was different because I can remember so many other things about that morning with such crystalline clar­ity. If I could paint, I could even now produce a still life of the cof­fee pot and the candle­stick I left guarding the gob­let and submit it as cover art if this book ever comes out in paperback. I even remem­ber what Judy Blue Eyes was wearing, right down to the silver-and-turquoise hoop ear­rings, although I can’t recall another piece of jewelry that she owned.

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Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail: Chapter 1

“When Spring kissed the earth,” old Mrs. Harrigan used to read to us from her well-worn Funk and Weatherford’s Best Loved Poetry. Best loved by Victorian spinsters too in­hibit­ed to drink or masturbate; certainly no one else could love those nurs­ery-rhymes-posing-as-litera­ture. Those of us young and innocents who bothered to pay atten­tion imag­ined a chaste sisterly peck on the cheek. Com­­pletely false. When Spring kisses the Earth it’s one of those deep, wet, tongue-down-the-throat jobbies that leaves both of those lascivious ladies panting with lust.

Despite the intervening years, I vividly remember that magnificent day. March 22, 1975. Birds proclaimed their lust from every branch while Spring and Earth swapped spit. Now if you’ve ever lived in Houston, you know that nice days are as rare as good taste in that cesspool of urbanite red­necks. There are only two seasons—hot and humid most of the year, giv­ing way sometime around De­cember to cold and wet. So when a real spring day comes by, you for sure wanted to get out in it, go down by the Bayou and toss a Fris­bee or something. Not only that, this not-to-be-missed spring day fell on a Sat­urday—I didn’t even have to cut class to go out cavorting.

But I’m here to tell you, I was missing this one.

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