Monkey Charles Colley

Thanks for visiting with me.  A great deal has happened since spring of '08 (like a new blog), when we launched this site and Chana Books published SISTERBABY’S MONKEY. It’s still for sale on Amazon, for now.   First, new business, then, I hope, some laughs. ( Not yet, I’ll tell you when.  Keep your pants on.) 

Sisterbaby's Monkey

If it isn’t funny, email or find me on Facebook, and I’ll try harder.  Novelists ain’t comedians, remember.  We pitch to an audience of one, and that’s a no win game, talking to yourself, answering back in multiple voices, getting in arguments.  You should see the bruises. When I start laughing at the keyboard, all alone, I know it’s time to go down to the barn and shovel out the horse stalls, or cut some firewood, or, God forbid, wash the dishes.  I forgot wash the truck.  That usually gets me calm.  Laundry and window washing really make me quit laughing. And then there are toilets.  They really snap me out of my happy outlook.  It is instantaneous.  It is amazing how fast that can happen. If my wife hears me laugh, she accuses me of not writing.  She won’t feed me if I don’t write.  I’m wasting away.  So I do these things to keep quiet, and then go and write some more.

The next book is just finished and being readied to market, a political action thriller called SKULL COUNTY, USA.  From President Obama’s brand new tariff on Chinese tires, to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s walk about in September '09, where he was secretly in Russia and the Israeli press could not find him, from the home foreclosures to the bank bailouts, this novel uses today’s happenings to paint a  possible tomorrow, where common folk perform uncommonly, to save the President from being killed, and in the process, change the course of the world’s economies. 

Skull County, USA

Our former 225 acre farm in western Colorado and the unique people we met there frame this story. Their old fashioned, cowboy handshake ethic is juxtaposed with dirty politics in a near future worldwide Depression.  Women on horseback with guns in a blizzard, hard riding, life and death are depicted opposite politicians in warm offices trying to manipulate billions of dollars, mindless of Americans locked out of their homes, jobless, their kids hungry.  It’s ripping-fast, packed with action, but it also has something to say about life in the USA in 2009.  My own knowledge of guns and horses, farming and economics, the unique weather and geography of Colorado’s Western Slope, plus living right next to Washington D.C. most of my life in Maryland, make this story ring tight and true.

A second printing of SISTERBABY’S MONKEY is going out to the movie folks, replete with 7 new blurbs from the likes of Tom Monteleone, NY Times bestseller; Denise Koch, CBS news in Baltimore; Nancy Johnston, Baltimore Sun; Mohamed Mughal, author; Louise Titchener, author; Rachelle Gagne,; and Jeremy Robinson, author. Fingers crossed, we’ll get a movie deal and a new publishing deal. 

Old Baltimore Harbor - Paul McGehee
OLD BALTIMORE HARBOR - Courtesy of Paul McGehee -

(And then I can buy my own food and she won’t keep me from laughing with threats of mortal hunger. She controls the check book, credit cards and cash.  It’s like Stockholm Syndrome, what she does to me. I might even take a vacation, not go in the office for a whole week.  No, that’s over the top.  She’d have my stuff out in the road if I did that.  Have to keep pecking away.)
(Now you can laugh, OK?)

Right after HONFEST, June 2008, that crazy quilt festival in Hampden, a Baltimore neighborhood known for offbeat, artsy and music folk, I stopped marketing SISTERBABY’S MONKEY, only two days after I started!  It was all part of the master plan, man! I never told you I thought logically, linearly.  So chill. (My daughter taught me to say chill. Does it mean, be cold, be calm?  I think it means be calm.)  But, back to the story.  (Laughing is optional.)

Hampden is known far and wide for Café Hon, where the proprietress, Denise Whiting, wears her hair in a beehive, her dress is circa 1963 every day, as are her rhinestone glasses and her crazy shoes.

I had rushed to see Denise Whiting at Café Hon, a few days before Honfest, pleading for and getting the very last booth available. She runs the whole deal, a real accomplishment, even for a Baltimoron. (That’s how we sez it, Hon!) We sat in the street for two sultry Bawlmer days, (that’s Baltimore for you outatowners, Hon!) hawking books and telling folks how the story happened, in part, right there at Clipper Mill in Hampden, how my grandmother worked there during World War I, almost a child-slave, making cotton duck canvas for the army and how her mother’s house was right down the street, backing up to Jones Falls.  

We told people how the ghost of a nun could speak to the main character, mind to mind, and we were deluged with Bawlmer ghost stories, many from right there in Hampden.  A bevy of characters, from an old ship’s captain, who lived there in Hampden and had been all round the world by sea, to a few toothless guys looking for a drink at 8 AM, to tourists from Europe and Asia, who thought I was just the bees knees, the real Bawlmer article, when, in fact, I’m a country boy who can’t find his ass in his home city, regaled us with ghostly recitations.  My daughter punched me in the arm at times, to make me sign books for waiting customers and stop listening to the Japanese lady’s or the Bawlmer bum’s midnight dance with a ghost.

We sold a couple hundred, and by the time I had recovered from that experience, including getting my books rained on, having my picture taken with a myriad of gals, dressed in the John Waters, HAIRSPRAY movie style, the women and girls, “their hair did, Hon, just like inna movie, yew knows what ah mean, babe,” I was wrecked.  A few of the gals were guys, with higher heels, bigger beehives, heavier moustaches and really big boobs. 

When you’re sweating like hell, the sun-cooked asphalt heat, slamming up in your face “offa payment” (that’s- off the pavement- in regular, non-Bawlmer American), and one of those gal/guys mashes his/her cheek up against yours for the photo, pancake makeup ground into a week’s worth of bristle, and his/her hand grabbing your ass while you’re supposed to smile for the birdie, well, this old husband to one and father to two needed to go home in the AC and start the new book. 

I  was truly traumatized.  What did Ray Stevens sing in The Streak?  “ I been incensed!”  This was not what I envisioned, crazy fun that it was, as book marketing.  Where were my pipe and elbow patches on my tweed jacket?  John Updike wrote me an encouraging postcard twenty years ago, to keep pitching and I did.  But, well, there had to be a smarter way to sell more books.  Like- get an agent- get a movie deal.  And the next time I would go to Honfest or someplace like it, I’d be a star, a genyoowhine hero!

I decided to use SISTERBABY’S MONKEY as my vehicle for change, my tool with which to meet people, the lever with which to pry open the doors of real-deal people in the book biz.  I decided to stop trying to sell copies of the book, onsey-twosey, even allowing the Amazon sales to just make or not, without further tweaking.  I was going for the Gold, baby!

I got started on the thriller, and during a second book signing at Greetings and Readings for Sisterbaby, (They called me, it was for charity, so I went, ok?  Cheezeywhiz!)I met Tom Monteleone, the guy that changed my life.  An old soldier of the fiction wars, twenty couple novels under his belt, 4 Bram Stoker awards, NY Times bestseller and author of  THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO WRITING A NOVEL,  he actually found me interesting there, schmoozing people to buy Sisterbaby, telling personal stories, listening to theirs.  He was a Bawlmer guy, we didn’t need a translator.  He was old, like me, sans hair, sans lotsa stuff we useda coulda still have but didn’t.

We hit it off, and once I had the novel re-written, something this story has been subjected to a bunch of times, I thought I’d ask him to read and bless it, send it to his agent, and I’d be rollin’ in it.  Money, not that stuff.  I know how you think.

He kicked my ass all over my farm.  Everything was not as I had envisioned.  But he was right and I started over.  Now, here we are, with a story that mirrors current events in a near future ten year Depression.  The President wants to change how the world trades among themselves, and folks want to kill him over that, and a bag with $10 million in cash in it.  Lots more to it than that, but y’all just gotta wait awhile for the rest.

Thanks for finding me.  Come on back, soon.  Yeah, buddy.

Charlie Colley



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