Tuesday, June 18, 2019

#50 Inside the Emotion of Fiction's "No Good Deed" from DOWN TO THE RIVER by Charles Salzberg

*The images in this specific piece are granted copyright privilege by:  Public Domain, CCSAL, GNU Free Documentation Licenses, Fair Use Under The United States Copyright Law, or given copyright privilege by the copyright holder which is identified beneath the individual photo.

**Some of the links will have to be copied and then posted in your search engine in order to pull up properly

***The CRC Blog welcomes submissions from published and unpublished fiction genre writers for INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION.  Contact CRC Blog via email at
caccoop@aol.com or personal Facebook messaging at https://www.facebook.com/car.cooper.7

****All photographs are granted permission by Charles Salzberg for this CRC Blog Post only unless otherwise noted.

*****Charles Salzberg’s ”No Good Deed” from Down to the River is #50 in the never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt.  All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION links are at the end of this piece. 

Name of fiction work? And were there other names you considered that you would like to share with us? The short story is called, “No Good Deed,” and although titles are often difficult to come up with for me, this one popped into my head almost immediately. It seemed so right, I didn’t even try to think of others.

Fiction genre?  Ex science fiction, short story, fantasy novella, romance, drama, crime, plays, flash fiction, historical, comedy, movie script, screenplay, etc.  And how many pages long? It’s crime fiction and it’s about ten pages.

Has this been published? If yes, what publisher and what is publication date? It’s been published in an anthology called, Down to the River. It’s to be published this month, April, 2019. The publisher is Down & Out Books.

What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction? I usually don’t write from assignments anymore—I did that for so many years as a magazine journalist and nonfiction book writer—but I was asked by my friend Tim O’Mara to contribute a story having something to do with a river (all proceeds go to charity, by the way). I said yes, because it was an opportunity to challenge myself.  I began to write it last March, I believe, and I was able to complete it in just a few days.

Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work? And please describe in detail. And can you please include a photo? I do all my writing at my desk—I’m not one of those who can take a laptop and write in a coffee shop, or outside under the shade of a tree (I’m a city kid and if I did, I couldn’t even tell you what kind of tree I was sitting under.) My desk is in a spare bedroom that doubles as a guest room. The desk faces a wall, because if it didn’t I’d probably spend all my time staring out the window—I live on the 32nd floor and the view is breathtaking, allowing me to see in three directions. I’ve got art all over three walls and the fourth is the fourth wall is four seven-foot high leaning bookshelves. There’s also a couch on which I’ll read and sometimes watch TV on a 44-inch screen that’s to the right of my desk. To the left is a printer nestled on top of a file cabinet, to the right another file cabinet. 

     Right now, I’ve got stacks of books under the window because I was a judge for a major best crime novel contest. At one time, I had almost 700 hardcovers piled high, but now, after giving away as many as I can (I’m still doing that), there are still maybe 100 books waiting to find a home.

What were your writing habits while writing this work—did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day? I can’t listen to music or anything else while I’m writing. I have terrible work habits—no special time to write—and usually I can spend no more than ten or fifteen minutes at a time writing—I have to get up and walk around, or play on the Internet, answering emails, checking out Facebook. 
     The only reason I can be as productive as I am, with these totally unacceptable work habits, is that I’m a very fast typist, 90 words a minute, and once I sit down in front of the screen I can focus amazingly well. That’s why I can’t have any distractions. I work on a desktop, a Mac. I could never write with pen or pencil because that really seems like work—I learned to type when I was in 7th grade. In order to skip a grade, you had to take typing and it turned out it’s probably the best class I’ve ever taken.  I can work any time, day or night, but I actually prefer to work when the weather is crummy or it’s dark out. That’s because if it’s a beautiful, sunny day, I want to be outside.

What is the summary of this specific fiction work? A man, getting ready for sleep, gets a phone call from an ex-coworker asking him for a favor. It’s cold and snowy, but the caller needs someone to deliver a package to someone who’s waiting under the 59th Street Bridge (now called the Edward I. Koch Bridge, by the way) (Right and Below). He doesn’t say what’s in the package or why it needs to be delivered. Finally, the fellow is talked into doing the favor, which takes him out on a terrible night to deliver a package to someone he doesn’t know and for reasons he also doesn’t know.

Can you give the reader just enough information for them to understand what is going on in the excerpt? I think the answer to the above question gives more than enough information to know what’s going on in the excerpt.

Please include the excerpt and include page numbers as reference. The excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer.     It’s cold, well below freezing, and the wind whipping off the East River doesn’t help. To make matters worse, you’re not dressed properly. Layers, layers, layers, that’s what they keep telling you on those TV news stories about how to beat the cold now that winter has arrived. And wear a hat. Oh, yes. A hat is essential in freezing weather, because it keeps the heat in. As if we’re some kind of human thermos. And to make matters worse, there’s that It’s going to snow any minute feel in the air.
None of this bodes well for what you’re about to get yourself into.
You have to run out real quick, so you pull on a sweater—it’s cotton, not wool, which claws at your skin like some kind of medieval torture method—grab your black leather bomber jacket, and head out the door. You don’t even remember to wrap a scarf around your neck. As for gloves, well, you know you have a pair somewhere but you don’t have time to look for them.
It’s dark out. Why shouldn’t it be? It’s closing in on 10 p.m. No one but a complete idiot would be out on the streets this time of night in this kind of weather. Even those Upper East Siders with their dogs with foreign sounding names like Havanese and Pekinese, are rich enough and smart enough either to hire a walker or use one of those Wee-Wee pads.
There’s no good reason for you to be out on a night like this unless you’re doing someone a favor. A big favor. A favor you don’t even owe that someone. Just a favor you’re doing because it’s for a friend and because you’re not secure enough about your own worth that you dare say, “I’m sorry, but I just can’t do it. Maybe another time, but not tonight.” Or maybe it’s because you didn’t think fast enough to say no because your brain was dulled from having had too much to drink after another disheartening day at the office and a fight with your girlfriend. Or maybe it’s because you’re feeling a little guilty.
So, you say yes even though you mean to say no. That you want to say no. That you should say no.
The favor doesn’t seem that complicated. Your friend doesn’t even ease into it by saying, “Sorry, for calling so late.” Or asking, “How’ve you been?” No. He doesn’t do any of that. He just wants a favor. A small favor, he says. All you have to do is hand over an envelope to some guy you’ve never met in a spot you’ve never been to.
“What’s all this about?” you ask when your friend calls and
reveals what he wants.
“I can’t really say,” says your friend. His name is Ralph,
and he’s not even a real friend. He’s someone you’ve worked with for maybe a year or so. You see him at work, an occasional drink after work, and you even went to a ball game with him once when he had an extra ticket knowing you probably weren’t first on his list to invite.  What makes it even crazier is that you haven’t worked with him for several weeks because he got canned. Not excessed. Not superannuated. Not laid off. Let go. Fired. Security escorted him out. That kind of fired. He’s stolen money from the firm, but that’s not something you can talk to him about and it’s not something the firm would want to publicize. You know it because it’s your job to know those kinds of things. And sometimes it’s your job to do something about them. Like making sure security walks the guy out. Maybe it stinks, but it goes with the territory. You even feel bad about it, but hey, life is like that sometimes. You gotta do what you gotta do.

Why is this excerpt so emotional for you? And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific excerpt? It’s emotional because I’m someone who likes to help people out, someone who has a tough time saying no. If something like this happened to me, even though it might be the last thing in the world I’d want to do, I’d probably say yes. And what makes this a little more interesting for me, is that he’s doing it for someone who’s not even a close friend, merely an acquaintance.

Were there any deletions from this excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt. When I first began to write, I used a typewriter, which meant there were plenty of marked up drafts. But now that I use a computer I rarely print out, but almost work exclusively from the screen. That means there are no rough drafts—everything eventually turns into a final draft.

Other works you have published? I’ve probably published close to 100 articles and book reviews, and perhaps two dozen nonfiction books (some by me, some ghostwritten by me, some as collaborations). My favorite nonfiction books are From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, an oral history of the NBA, On a Clear Day They Could See Seventh Place, Baseball’s 10 Worst Teams of the Century, and Soupy Sez: My Zany Life and Times, with Soupy Sales. I wrote an original paperback book back in the late ‘80s, a novel based on an article I wrote on street gamblers. 

      I began to publish crime novels in 2007. Now, the lineup is: Swann’s Last Song, Swann Dives In, Swann’s Lake of Despair, Swann’s Way Out, and Swann’s Down; Devil in the Hole, Second Story Man. I’ve got novellas in the two crime collections, Triple Shot and Three Strikes. I’ve had a story in Long Island Noir, and one called “Canary in the Coal Mine,” published last fall in Mystery Tribune; and I have a story in the Grand Central Noir collection.

Anything you would like to add? I’ve probably said more than enough.


001   11 15 2018 Nathaniel Kaine’s
Thriller Novel
John Hunter – The Veteran

002   11 18 2018 Ed Protzzel’s
The Antiquities Dealer 

003   11 23 2018 Janice Seagraves’s
Science Fiction Romance
Exodus Arcon

004   11 29 2018 Christian Fennell’s
Literary Fiction Novel
The Fiddler in the Night

005  12 02 2018 Jessica Mathews’s
Adult Paranormal Romance
Death Adjacent

006  12 04 2018 Robin Jansen’s
Literary Fiction Novel
Ruby the Indomitable

007  12 12 2018  Adair Valerez’s
Literary Fiction Novel

008  12 17 218 Kit Frazier’s
Mystery Novel
Dead Copy

009 12 21 2019 Robert Craven’s
Noir/Spy Novel
The Road of a Thousand Tigers

010 01 13 2019 Kristine Goodfellow’s
Contemporary Romantic Fiction
The Other Twin

011 01 17 2019 Nancy J Cohen’s
Cozy Mystery
Trimmed To Death

012 01 20 2019 Charles Salzberg’s
Crime Novel
Second Story Man

013 01 23 2019 Alexis Fancher’s
Flash Fiction
His Full Attention

014 01 27 2019 Brian L Tucker’s
Young Adult/Historical

015 01 31 2019 Robin Tidwell’s

016 02 07 2019 J.D. Trafford’s
Legal Fiction/Mystery
Little Boy Lost

017 02 08 2019 Paula Shene’s
Young Adult ScieFi/Fantasy/Romance/Adventure
My Quest Begins 

018 02 13 2019 Talia Carner’s
Mainstream Fiction/ Suspense/ Historical
Hotel Moscow

019 02 15 2019 Rick Robinson’s
Multidimensional Fiction
Alligator Alley

020 02 21 2019 LaVerne Thompson’s
Urban Fantasy
The Soul Collectors

021 02 27 2019 Marlon L Fick’s
Post-Colonialist Novel
The Nowhere Man

022 03 02 2019 Carol Johnson’s
Mainstream Novel
Silk And Ashes

023 03 06 2019 Samuel Snoek-Brown’s
Short Story Collection
There Is No Other Way to Worship Them

024 03 08 2019 Marlin Barton’s
Short Story Collection
Pasture Art

025 03 18 2019 Laura Hunter’s
Historical Fiction
Beloved Mother

026 03 21 2019 Maggie Rivers’s
Magical Mistletoe

027  03 25 2019 Faith Gibson’s
Paranormal Romance

028 03 27 2019 Valerie Nieman’s
Tall Tale
To The Bones

029 04 04 2019 Betty Bolte’s
Paranormal Romance
Veiled Visions of Love

030 04 05 2019  Marianne Maili’s
Lucy, go see

031 04 10 2019 Gregory Erich Phillips’s
Mainstream Fiction
The Exile

032 04 15 2019 Jason Ament’s
Speculative Fiction
Rabid Dogs

033 04 24 2019 Stephen P. Keirnan’s
Historical Novel
The Baker’s Secret

034 05 01 2019 George Kramer’s
Arcadis: Prophecy Book

035 05 05 2019 Erika Sams’s
Rose of Dance

036 05 07 2019 Mark Wisniewski’s
Literary Fiction
Watch Me Go

037 05 08 2019 Marci Baun’s
Science Fiction/Horror
The Whispering House

038 05 10 2019 Suzanne M. Wolfe’s
Historical Fiction
Murder By Any Name

039 05 12 2019 Edward DeVito’s
The Woodstock Paradox

040 05 14 2019 Gytha Lodge’s
She Lies In Wait

041 05 16 2019 Kari Bovee’s
Historical Fiction/Mystery
Peccadillo At The Palace:  An Annie Oakley Mystery

042 05 20 2019 Annie Seaton’s
Time Travel Romance
Follow Me

043 05 22 2019 Paula Rose Michelson’s
Inspirational Christian Romance
Rosa & Miguel – Love’s Legacy: Prequel to The Naomi

044 05 24 2019 Gracie C McKeever’s
BDMS/Interracial Romance
On The Edge

045 06 03 2019 Micheal Maxwell’s
The Soul of Cole

046 06 04 2019 Jeanne Mackin’s
The Last Collection:  A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and
Coco Chanel

047 06 07 2019 Philip Shirley’s
The Graceland Conspiracy

048 06 08 2019 Bonnie Kistler’s
Domestic Suspense
The House on Fire

049 06 13 2019 Barbara Taylor Sissel’s
Domestic Suspense/Family Drama
Tell No One

050 06 18 2019 Charles Salzberg’s
Short Story/ Crime Fiction

No comments:

Post a Comment