Friday, May 26, 2006

For Jenna and my friends at Absolute Write

If this looks familiar, it's because I originally posted it last October. A few days ago, I found out from MacAllister Stone via email that AbsoluteWrite.com was offline, and looking for a new host. I've been very busy this week - more on that at the bottom of this post - so I wasn't aware that AW was offline because one of the scammers Jenna works so hard to expose had told her (Jenna's) hosting company that AW had libeled her (more on that at the bottom, as well).

This post is for Jenna, and my friends at Absolute Write. I love you all, and owe you much.



Writers are a funny group. We all want other writers to succeed, and we're happy to reach down and pull someone up behind us.

Unfortunately, when we reach down, the writer below us usually tries to pull us off the ladder. We're all guilty. We want to be known as the successful writer who hasn't forgotten where he came from, but first we need to be successful, so we fight our way to the top with all the fierce competitiveness of those heroic tadpoles on the Disovery Channel's documentary about conception (When you get depressed, remind yourself that billions of sperm entered THAT race, but YOU won).

One writer I know, when he encounters discouraged fellow scribes, puts a gentle hand on their shoulders and tells them they should just give up; that the business of writing will only contaminate their artistic souls, and if they want to survive with their integrity intact they must never again subject their vision to the callous brand of capitalism that is rampant in the world of agents and editors. I'm not sure if he later asks them for the phone numbers and email addresses of all their contacts, but it wouldn't surprise me. It's what I would do.

What has surprised me, though, is the generosity of one particular group of struggling scribes, how much they help each other, and how much helping them has helped me. http://www.absolutewrite.com/ is an online magazine for writers, and editor Jenna Glatzer is an expert on the business of writing. Beautiful, bubbly, and brilliant, Jenna draws talent toward her like a tiki torch draws mosquitos. She is the author of such books as Outwitting Writer's Block and Other Problems of the Pen, and the soon to be released The Street-Smart Writer.

She is also a frequent contributor to Writers Digest. You can learn more about her at her personal site, http://www.jennaglatzer.com/ (The porn filter at my office blocks her site. I've looked, and looked, and looked, and cannot find the reason for this block. If you do find any naked pictures of Jenna, please email me their exact location, so I can get this straightened out.)

Among the talented folks Jenna has drawn to Absolute Write, is James D. McDonald, the author of dozens of published books in multiple genres, who runs a kind of online writers workshop called Learn Writing with Uncle Jim. Scores of other published writers, agents, editors, and publishers, visit regularly to answer questions and offer suggestions.

What I've found most surprising, though, is the help from my fellow neophytes. Ask any question you can imagine about writing (writing anything, from gargantuan novels to greeting cards) and you will get a dozen answers from people who, like you, are struggling to find their way. What value is there to an answer from an initiate? You'd be surprised.

When I wrote the first draft of my query letter for Transit Gloria, I thought I had a pretty good piece of writing in my hand. When I posted it for review at Absolute Write, I quickly found out just how much better it could be. These are people who have read every possible bit of advice on how to write a good query letter. They've written, rewritten, and rewritten again, their own query letters, and if they've been at Absolute Write for more than a couple of weeks, they have read dozens of other author's queries and critiqued them. The very first round of critiques improved my letter. While I used several smart guy (and gal) first readers to evaluate my novel, it had never occurred to me to do the same for my letters, even though writing a short summary paragraph about Tranist Gloria was far more difficult for me than writing the 90,000 word novel. I write character driven stories, and it's virtually impossible to have a character driven paragraph (don't send me your examples, please).

My letter didn't really get good, though, until I started critiquing other people's letters. When I saw what worked for them, and what didn't, my mind flashed back to my own letter and I recognized my own weaknesses and strengths. I've watched other writers on the site go through the same process, and watched their letters improve dramatically over very short periods of time. It is truly amazing, and perhaps the most gratifying part of the process is the sense of accomplishment when the folks you've helped, find success.

Now I feel the urge to share my own success with them, not to brag, but to thank them, and to let them know that I know they are largely responsible for the good things that are happening to me. I told you in my last post about Famous Writer referring me to Famous Agent. Here's an update: I posted my query to Famous Agent on Absolute Write, and got some great feedback before I sent it. I cc'd Famous Writer, and she replied, "Mark, this is the best query letter I've ever read. I'll email Famous Agent today, myself. My land, boy, you know how to write a query letter!"

Two days later, I got a reply from the agent. She said I had piqued her interest, and requested my first three chapters. Piqued is one of my favorite words. The only word I'd rather have her use, is zeitgeist. If she ever uses the word zeitgeist, I'm gonna put a down payment on a Ferrari.

None of this would have happened with the first query letter I wrote. So, to all the folks at AbsoluteWrite: Thank you. WE did well.

p.s. Shortly after I originally posted this, came the publication of Stories of Strength, the anthology Jenna put together to benefit the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. My story, Merry Christmas, 1989, was included in the anthology and I went to work using my media contacts to promote the book. One of those contacts responded by offering me the job I have today. Because of this job, I've been nominated for a major editorial award, and now I've been approached by one of the largest papers in the country with a job offer (if you're counting, that's two jobs in a row that I haven't applied for, but which came to me as a result of my relationship with Jenna Glatzer and Absolute Write). I'm also working on a new project - an online literary magazine, The Picolata Review, www.picolatareview.org , and Jenna kindly allowed me to post an announcement on the Absolute Write forums calling for submissions. I owe her, and her site, a great deal.


Jenna recently published The Street Smart Writer, a book about how to avoid being scammed, and she has been a force for good for years in the battle against agents and publishers who make their living by scamming writers. She is currently refusing donations to help get the site back up and running, but she has asked that anyone interested in helping out financially buy the book.

The agent who caused AW to go offline is reported to be: Barbara Bauer
Miss Snark is dealing with her.
Mac is dealing with her, too.

I apologize for not knowing the score sooner, my friends. Go buy The Street Smart Writer, and support Jenna and Absolute Write in their battle against the scum who have infiltrated our profession.

Mark Pettus,
Friday, May 26, 2006


17 comments so far. Thank you, Blogger Dawno, Blogger Bernita, Blogger Crjem1991, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger Jeff, Blogger Frank Baron, Blogger anne frasier, Blogger Moni, Blogger Dorothy, Anonymous Andy, Anonymous Andy, Blogger Shesawriter, Anonymous Payday Loans, Blogger No Hassle Loans, Blogger No Hassle Loans, Anonymous Payday Loans, Blogger Cash Loans,


Let me know what you think

Leave a comment

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Do you have the time?

If I could save time in a bottle - Jim Croce

Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?- Robert Lamm (Chicago)

Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed time! It's abominable! When! When! One day, is that not enough for you, one day he went dumb, one day I went blind, one day we'll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second, is that not enough for you? -Samuel Beckett, (Waiting for Godot)


Time is one thing writers seldom talk about. When we discuss the craft, and how we approach our stories, we focus on point-of-view, character development, and description. We do talk about tense - past, present, or future (usually pointing out a writer who has let one tense slip into another) What we don't focus on is the role of time in our stories.

Most of my stories consist of scenes that consume a finite amount of time - minutes, sometimes hours, seldom more than days. When I combine those scenes, though, the story traverses a grander scale of time. Transit Gloria moves through three decades, offering snippets from each before moving on to the next - or the previous. On the Bluff carries forward through a half-century, pausing at intervals to shine a spotlight on my characters in their then-when, before pushing forward several years to another spotlight.

The other night I was reading the Publisher's Lunch and one of the deals was described something like this:



John Smith's novel about love between a young man and his lusty and beautiful middle aged neighbor, and his struggle to deal with the breakup of his parents marriage while the country prepares for war, all takes place on the night of Joey Luckybuck's senior prom.

It occurred to me that although I've read books that encompassed very short periods of time, I've never considered writing one. My natural inclination is to go the opposite direction. My first novel attempt was a fantasy tale that would have spanned a millenia if I'd ever finished it.

How about your stories? Do they cut a wide swath through the decades, or is a day enough to tell a great tale? Do you have a natural clock that guides your writing? What role does time play in your stories? Have you ever stumbled across something that made you want to stretch your legs, to try a path you hadn't noticed before? If so, what's inspired you?

I think I'm going to be playing with time for the next little while... or long while. Hey, I've got the time.

Closing time. Time for you to go out to the places you will be from. - Don Wilson (Semisonic)

Mark Pettus,
Thursday, May 18, 2006


14 comments so far. Thank you, Blogger Mr. Faust, Blogger M. G. Tarquini, Blogger Adam Hurtubise, Blogger S. W. Vaughn, Blogger anne frasier, Blogger Matt D., Blogger Bernita, Blogger Michele, Blogger jason evans, Blogger Jeff, Anonymous Kirsten, Blogger Dana Y. T. Lin, Blogger September, Blogger Naomi,


Let me know what you think

Leave a comment

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What, you've never seen boobs before?

I've been asked for autographs before, but when a lady asked me if I would sign her boobs if I ever became famous - I was struck by an idea. I asked her if she would let me sign her boobs now, so that if I did become famous, she would be ahead of the crowd.

She agreed, but since she lives across the country from me, the best she could do was send me a picture of her beautiful and bounteous bosom, which is pictured below with my autograph.

Life is good.

Private message to the lady in green:

If you can't read my handwriting, I wrote:

"Whatever your dream,

Just Go For It!"

Mark E. Pettus

The same goes for all of you.

Man, I hope this catches on.

Mark Pettus,
Wednesday, May 17, 2006


10 comments so far. Thank you, Anonymous Anonymous, Blogger Bernita, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger Bernita, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger Dennie McDonald, Blogger anne frasier, Blogger Michele, Blogger Lisa Coutant, Blogger Crjem1991,


Let me know what you think

Leave a comment

Saturday, May 13, 2006

If words could make wishes come true - scattered thoughts from an unfocused mind.

1. Just a thought that has been bouncing around my mind all morning:

You already know the answers to life's most important questions. Figuring out what those questions are, will consume most of your life.

2. There's big, and there's BIG:

"Consider these numbers: while Google reported $6.1 billion in 2005 revenue, the Microsoft corporation reported over $7 billion in 2005 R&D expenses alone. In other words, Microsoft's got lots of money to get where it wants to go..."

from MediaPost's Search Insider (What, you guys aren't into advertising?)

3. I used to like Miss Snark. Then I didn't. Now I do.

At first I thought she was funny, then I thought most of her comments were really mean-spirited, now I think she means well, and the mean-spiritedness truly is just her schtick. I don't have enough time to be a true snarkling, but if you do, you'll come away with an education not available anywhere else.

She's part of the Mediabistro Daily News today. Check her out

4. Speaking of Bernita (we weren't speaking of Bernita?), she picked up a topic from the Snark Spot this weekend, the use of the mirror as a descriptive tool, and improved on it. (While you're there, check out her post on the music writers use to drive their imagination)

I'm tempted to try my hand at the mirror description - such sensible rules call to my inner child - that petulant, arrogant boy who's not quite convinced he's the smartest kid in the class (Let it go - I already told you he was arrogant). I'm a sucker for a hard and fast rule. Nothing inspires me like the ability to proof some literary convention by brazenly defying it. Of course, if I do, I'll just be following far greater writers, like Oscar Wilde - who let his inner child run free in The Picture of Dorian Grey.

I wrote a story once where the main character was bedridden, and saw the world only through the narrow reflection in his dresser mirror of the view through his bedroom door ( he never saw himself, so no self-description).

Even without a mirror, I'm a devout minimalist (probably as a direct result of reading too much Stephen King as a young man), but I know of writers who are masters of detailed description. Ann Rice describes her characters like you'd describe a new lover - the detail is accepted as part of the emotional world, not the physical. I've seen her use reflections in her stories, but I'm not sure those scenes qualify as counter to the curse. John Irving is just the opposite, he focuses on the quirky- a huge mole on a girl's face, buck teeth, giant hands - the reader gets to add everything else.

What's your descriptive style?


p.s. I'll be posting more this week than you're accustomed to - please check back.

Mark Pettus,
Saturday, May 13, 2006


15 comments so far. Thank you, Blogger Mayden's Voyage, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger Mayden's Voyage, Blogger Michele, Blogger Gina, Blogger M. G. Tarquini, Anonymous Andy, Blogger Bernita, Blogger Dennie McDonald, Anonymous Travis Jay Morgan, Blogger anne frasier, Blogger S. W. Vaughn, Blogger S. W. Vaughn, Blogger Jeff, Blogger Dana Y. T. Lin,


Let me know what you think

Leave a comment

Send me your tired, your poor, your huddled pages longing to be read

In my last post, I talked about my Great Expectations, and called myself the Miss Haversham of writing. I thought I was clever, but judging by your comments, my bitter frustration with the process must have shown through my witty repartee. I didn't mean for the story to focus so much on me - rejection is a part of this life, and I walked in with both eyes open. We all deal with rejection, and with the accompanying self doubt. I hope that by sharing my own experiences, I can help someone else deal with their own doubt and frustration when it finds them - and if they aspire, it will.

Since I focused the spotlight on my partials, I think it might be a good idea to talk about what I actually send out when an agent requests a partial. I don't take a haphazard approach to my writing, or to my interaction with other professionals in the business. I want them to know that I'm a professional dedicated to both the art, and the business, of writing. I also want to grab their attention, and get them coming back for more.

When I put together a packet for an agent, I want it to look as crisp and as professional as anything they'd receive from their attorney. If you want be treated as a professional, it's important to look and act that way. Enough on that, I'm sure you've read it all before. Lets talk about what they get when they open that crisp, manila envelope.

Depending on whether an agent requests the first three chapters or the first fifty pages, I send very specific packets. First, they get a brief cover letter on top-quality letterhead. Most of my cover letter is drawn from my query letter - and from previous incarnations of my query. I want the agent to remember me from my query, but this is also an opportunity to tell him or her things I didn't include in my query (like the comparison between my book and Joyce Carol Oates's We Were the Mulvaneys). I'm a little braver in my cover letter than I am in a query. If I screw up on the cover letter, I have a backup right there in the agent's hands - the first pages of my book. The query letter has to stand alone.

I have a two-page, single-spaced synopsis that I send if -and only if - the agent requests it. I don't have a one-page synopsis, I don't have a five-page synopsis, and I don't have a chapter breakdown. If an agent asks for a synopsis, they get two pages that tell the who, what, when, where, why, and how it all ends. If an agent asks for a five-page synopsis, they get two pages. If they ask for one page, they get two. This is the one writer's neurosis I refuse to adopt. Do so at your own risk, but so far I've had no complaints (I've also had no offers of representation, but I doubt my synopsis is holding me back).

I always include my prologue (the single most revised ten pages of writing in the history of mankind). Prologue means what came before, and mine stretches the boundaries of the definition. Chronologically, much of the story takes place earlier, but thematically it sets the stage as surely as Shakespeare's narrators. It is all story - not a recitation of facts. If your prologue is one of those dry back-story encyclopedias, the kind that are so popular with fantasy and science fiction writers, I wouldn't recommend you include it with a partial submission.

Transit Gloria is written in third person but the prologue is in first person, quickly creating an intimate connection between you and the narrator. I hope it draws you in until you're sitting with your face too close to the page - and then jolts you out of your seat.

The first chapter opens like the sky in the eye of a hurricane. After the violence of the prologue, everything seems calm (and it is after - years after). Immediately, the story begins weaving its web of deception and denial - the hallmarks of the American family. As your eyes follow the web toward its center you are drawn into the past. By the end of the third chapter, I've introduced you to every major character, and I've shown you the scope of their story - the thirty years that will take them from a loving family, to one that is torn apart by adultery, divorce, and murder - and then back together for their last chance at redemption.

If I'm going to send fifty pages, I get to carry you, the reader, a little farther. I get to take you to the edge of the abyss and show you the dark chasm below. I don't let my submission close arbitrarily at the end of page fifty, I make sure the last paragraph you read leaves you wondering, What's next?

Using these formulas, I've progressed to that level of hell where the rejections you receive come with nice, pesonalized responses. Based on the expert opinions of those who've gone before me, that's a good thing. From the bucket-o-reasons that agents dip into for rejection slips, I'm getting notes telling me how talented I am, and how much they like my voice (and they're using my name in places other than the salutation - please!)

Is what I'm doing working? I don't know. I'm a results oriented guy. When I get an agent, I'll tell you it worked. Until then, I'm just telling you what I'm doing. If you learn from me, excellent. If you can teach me, I'm listening. As one of the instructors in officer candidate school told my class of young mavericks, "Many are called, but few are chosen." One other thing I learned in the army is that sometimes the guy who wins the battle is the one who refuses to quit fighting.

One final note: Although there are times online when I should slow down, hit the spell-check, or proofread one more time - the same is seldom true about writing I send out to publishers and agents. I'm very careful. I read it twice, and if it's something new (even a revised query letter), I ask someone else to read it. I double-check the agent's name and address (a lesson learned the hard way), and make sure it is the same on the envelopes and letters - especially important if you are preparing multiple packets at once. I can imagine nothing as disheartening as receiving a rejection letter from agent A in an SASE you prepared for agent B, because you know the other rejection letter is already in the mail.

Mark Pettus,
Saturday, May 13, 2006


11 comments so far. Thank you, Blogger Dawno, Blogger Bernita, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger Erik Ivan James, Blogger DAVID THAYER, Blogger S. W. Vaughn, Blogger Kelly Parra, Blogger Mark Pettus, Anonymous Kelly Parra, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger Naomi,


Let me know what you think

Leave a comment

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Great Expectations

Great Expectations are the bane of my existence. I'm an eternal optimist, a sucker for an encouraging word or phrase, especially when an agent utters that word or phrase.

"I'd be delighted to read your..."

"I was excited by your..."

"You've piqued my interest."

"You're obviously a talented writer."

"When you're famous, will you sign my boobs?" (Okay, I admit this wasn't from an agent, but I was damned sure encouraged by her words. Wouldn't you be?)

The problem with being so encouraged by an agent's words of enthusiasm is that I develop Great Expectations. Each time, I think, This is the one. Each time I'm sure, She (for some reason I have more success with agents who are women) is going to represent me - and my book. Each time, I prepare a huge mental feast in honor of our marriage - author to agent.

Each time, I'm disappointed.

I'm beginning to wonder if I'm the Miss Havisham of writing. Am I destined to be left at the altar, and spend the rest of my life watching the pages I've written decay while rats feast on the remains of the banquet I prepared in honor of the groom (my agent) that never came?

Last week, Michelle Tessler of the Tessler Literary Agency responded to my query by asking for my first three chapters. She's the agent who said she'd be delighted to read my story. Delighted. That just doesn't sound like form-letter language to me, so I was feeling good about myself when I sent her my partials last Thursday. Yesterday she emailed me and said she had read my submission the night before - do you have any idea how rare it is to have an agent read your submission on what was probably the day she received it? I usually expect to milk at least two months of Great Expectations out of each submission. As long as an agent still hasn't responded, I can keep telling myself, This is the one. I barely got a weekend out of Ms. Tessler. She really was excited by my query, and couldn't wait to read my first three chapters.


Unfortunately, although she rushed to the doors of the chapel, it was only to tell me that she wasn't as in love with my story as she hoped to be, and since first novels like mine were so hard to place... here I am, left at the altar again.

Anyone want some wedding cake?

The news isn't all bad. I think I almost have the woman who's sure I'll one day be famous convinced to let me autograph her boobs on spec. Wish me luck.

Mark Pettus,
Thursday, May 11, 2006


31 comments so far. Thank you, Blogger SAND STORM, Blogger DAVID THAYER, Blogger Kelly Parra, Blogger anne frasier, Blogger anne frasier, Blogger Dennie McDonald, Blogger Jeff, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger Bernita, Blogger Dennie McDonald, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger Bernita, Blogger Rene, Blogger Dennie McDonald, Anonymous Nienke, Anonymous Nienke, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger Adam Hurtubise, Blogger S. W. Vaughn, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger Beth Ciotta, Blogger Dana Y. T. Lin, Blogger Amie Stuart, Blogger S. W. Vaughn, Blogger Mayden's Voyage, Blogger M. G. Tarquini, Anonymous Andy, Anonymous Yang-Mai Ooi, Anonymous Anonymous, Anonymous Anonymous, Anonymous Anonymous,


Let me know what you think

Leave a comment

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Rule One: Write what you know. What if you don't know anything?

But Rosie you're all right -- you wear my ring
When you hold me tight -- Rosie that's my thing
When you turn out the light -- I've got to hand it to me

One of the oldest rules in the book, is to write what you know. That sounds good, but how many tomes on the fine art of masturbation do people really need? Thank you very much. I'll be at the Sands on the 8th, and I'm doing a special 4th of July show in Atlantic City...

But seriously folks, writing without meaning is just so much mental masturbation. It might feel good to you, but it's not doing anything for anyone else. Too many really good writers lose contact with the world around them, and their books become new ways to stroke themselves and their egos. Writing what you know is a multi-layer commandment. It means (as Agent 007 tried to make clear in her last post) knowing how human beings behave; what they think, feel, say, and do - in a variety of circumstances. It means knowing that not all good stories end with happily ever after, but some do, and not being afraid to let your story end the way it ends, even when you know your readers are going to howl.

On another level, writing what you know is pretty limiting, especially if you don't know anything. I strongly believe that a writer's education should be an education in life, not just an education in writing, and I believe you need to keep learning - about life and about writing - even after you become a successful writer.

If you're wondering where I'm coming from, let me tell you. I've noticed a trend among writers. The longer they write, the more likely it is their main characters will be writers. Stephen King has all but given up on non-writer protagonists (although his next book, Lisey's Story, a literary novel with blurbs from Michael Chabon and Pat Conroy, centers around a writer's widow). Cell's lead character is celebrating the sale of his graphic novel when the world goes to hell in a handbasket. Bag of Bones was written in first person, and told through the eyes of a respectable mid-list author. Even the final three books of the Dark Tower series centered to some degree around a writer - King himself.

King isn't alone. Ian McEwan chose a writer as his main POV character in Atonement. Margaret Atwood did the same for Blind Assassin. Peter Carey used two poets and the publisher of a literary magazine for his odd tale, My Life as a Fake. John Irving relegated his author to second fiddle in Until I Find You, but he had four, count them, four different novelists sharing the stage in A Widow for One Year. Irving's book also has agents, publishers, book shows, readings, fans, fanatics, and prostitutes - Irving really knows the book business. I wonder, after years as a writer, does he know anything else?

You'll notice that I didn't include writers whose work is based on the same or similar characters being in each of their works- either in a series, like Tom Clancy, John D. McDonald, or even my old pal J.A. Konrath - or authors whose characters' professions are defined by their genre - John Grisham or Robin Cook. They make their living in a tight field with its own rules - rules that don't allow a CIA director, private eye, cop, lawyer, or doctor to become a writer in book five, although the genres each have their own traps for authors. I'm talking about writers who make their living writing unique stories. Some of these writers are well respected in the literary community (I aplogize for the oxymoron: literary community. As if.)

I think Irving, Atwood, McEwan, King, and hundreds of other writers could take a lesson from Shaquille O'neal - when they're through playing games, they should get a real job.

Shaq is a reserve police officer, and plans to make law enforcement his second career. Most former sports superstars (despite having enough money to never need to work again) take the easy way out, and find a career similar to their first - broadcasting or coaching - and avoid ever having to learn anything new. I'm afraid literature's superstars are doing the same thing. A year as writer-in-residence might be a great job, but it isn't going to expand a great writer's horizons much.

In all fairness to the writers above, I'm sure they know a great deal about the world. From a Buick 8 (King) focused on state police, Oryx and Crake (Atwood) on genetic engineers, The True History of the Kelly Gang (Carey) was about Australia's national hero (who was hanged as a horse theif) and Until I Find You (Irving) had more to do with tattoo artists and organ players than with writers (Irving is also in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame). I used them to highlight a problem that seems common among writers at every talent level.

I spend enough time gazing into my own navel, and enough time reading about writers in order to enhance my career, that when I read a novel I don't want to see the world the author has created for me through the eyes of a writer. Give me a plumber, or a pediatrician, or even some poor wanker who's addicted to internet porn. I don't care if the character is jerking off, as long as the writer isn't. If you don't know anything other than writing, you need to further your education. Turn off your computer, and pick up a broom, or a baton, or a hockey stick - anything that will give you a new perspective on the world to bring to your writing.

Speaking of jerking off, how many of you recognized my epigraph as the chorus to Jackson Browne's masterpiece and ode to masturbation, Rosie (co-written with Donald Miller and Glen Frey). Don't ask me why this essay is so wrapped up in the language of self-love. I don't know. I once heard Hawkeye Pierce (M.A.S.H.) say, "The lack of occupation with sex, leads to a pre-occupation with sex." Perhaps he was right. Either way,

Looks like it's me and you again tonight Rosie

Mark Pettus,
Sunday, May 07, 2006


16 comments so far. Thank you, Blogger S. W. Vaughn, Anonymous Andy, Anonymous Razib Ahmed, Blogger Bernita, Blogger Rene, Blogger Amie Stuart, Blogger Moni, Blogger Kelly Parra, Blogger Beth Ciotta, Anonymous Kira, Blogger Dennie McDonald, Blogger anne frasier, Blogger Phoenix, Blogger Frank Baron, Blogger Rural Writer, Anonymous Anonymous,


Let me know what you think

Leave a comment

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Stop the Flood by Turning on the Faucet.

I don't usually write about politics on my blog, but since I don't have time to write the post that is dancing around on my cerebral cortex, begging to be set free, I thought I'd share a slightly revised version of my Op-Ed column from a couple of weeks ago. It's still timely, maybe more so today than when it was first published. I invite your comments (all views are welcome).



Much of the nation was witness to demonstrations and a million-worker staged walkout this week by people opposed to a new immigration reform act making its way through the Senate.

Facets of the act that would make being an illegal immigrant a felony generated most of the opposition. Even the part of the act that you would expect immigrants to support, an amnesty program that would allow long-time residents to stay in the United States and eventually gain citizenship, drew protests because of a poison pill built into the bill. It requires illegal immigrants to pay a fine and back taxes as part of the process of qualifying for eventual citizenship.

I grew up and spent most of my life near the Mexican border. It leaks. Does it leak like a sieve? No, it leaks like a broken dam. According to the U.S. Border Patrol, almost 4 million people crossed into the U.S. illegally in 2002 - a year after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The panic that followed 9/11 is what's really behind the current immigration crises. People are asking, and rightly so, if we can't stop 4 million people from crossing the border to find a better life how can we possibly stop one person from crossing the border seeking to do us harm?

The truth is, by trying to do both we can't do either. The best laws written with the best intent will never stop the flood of people who want to provide food, clothing, shelter, and a better life for themselves and their families from seeking those things. Criminalizing immigration will make criminals of honest people, not help us sort out the dishonest people. We can't stop the flow, but we can control it.

The first step controlling the flood is to open our borders to Mexicans and Central Americans who seek to enter our country in search of work. Make it easy for them to become legal immigrants and to pass through legal border crossings (where we already have a massive security apparatus in place to protect us from terrorists), and that's where they will go. They are coming anyway, so we're foolish not to channel them through a screening process that separates the honest, hard workers from undesirable and dangerous criminals.

Please don't buy into the myth that illegal aliens are stealing jobs from Americans. Nationwide unemployment continues to be low, despite the presence of an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. Of the unemployed, many are seeking jobs at a professional skill level requiring training and education beyond that of most illegal immigrants. If you are seeking a career as a busboy, migrant farm worker, or hot tar roofer, you may have to work alongside an illegal immigrant, but I seriously doubt you will find doors closed to you because of illegal immigrants.

A person wanting a better life - how sad is it that a grown man with four children thinks leaving his family thousands of miles behind to work as a busboy is a better life - would much rather pass through a legal border crossing, along well policed roadways, where he is safe from bandits and dehydration, than risk his life crossing miles of inhospitable desert only to possibly face arrest and deportation. Once we've channeled the people simply seeking the American dream back onto the roadways, it will be much easier to spot the bad guys crossing the desert.

Right now, spotting a terrorist crossing the desert is like trying to find a single drop of water as it crosses Niagara Falls. Let's not waste our time, or tax dollars, on something we already know will fail.


Mark Pettus,
Tuesday, May 02, 2006


12 comments so far. Thank you, Blogger Moni, Anonymous Kirsten, Blogger Lady M, Anonymous Andy, Blogger Amie Stuart, Blogger Adam Hurtubise, Blogger anne frasier, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger anne frasier, Blogger Blog Intro, Anonymous HY, Blogger Mark Pettus,


Let me know what you think

Leave a comment