Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Brick Joke

By Keith N Fisher

Many years ago, while driving a produce truck, I heard an obscure joke I never forgot. Subsequently, I’ve told it many times with varied results. It’s not very funny, but it’s cute. I’m not sure who wrote it, but here it goes. Be sure to read all the way through, because I’m going to make a point about writing.

Once, there was a man named George. He wanted to build a brick barbecue. He made plans, and calculated exactly how many bricks he would need. Then, he marched into the home improvement store and asked for seventy-one bricks. The clerk told him that like doughnuts, the bricks he wanted were packaged in dozens.

“But I don’t want seventy-two bricks,” George said. “What would I do with the other brick?”

The clerk responded with, “I don’t know. Perhaps you could use it as a door stop?”

George shook his head and went to the mercantile. He was told the same thing but since they were a wholesale business, he would only be able to get them by the pallet.

“How many would that be?” George asked.

“Ninety-six. The counter man said.

George did the math in his head “Then I would have twenty-four bricks left over.”

“Yeah but you would get the wholesale price.”

George decided to go to the brick plant.

“That’s correct. There are ninety six bricks on each pallet.” The yardman said. “But we discount each pallet after the first one. The more you buy the cheaper it is.”

“So I can get a really good deal if I want to build five barbecues. But that would leave me with fifteen bricks. Can’t you just break up a pallet?”

The yardman shook his head.

Finally, George relented, went back to the home improvement store, and purchased seventy-two bricks. He had a wonderful time building his barbecue and sure enough, he had one brick left over. George stood there looking around, wondering what to do with the brick. Suddenly his blood pressure shot through the roof and do you know what he did with that brick?


He tossed into the air as hard as he could.

Okay, Okay, I told you it wasn’t very funny.

On that same afternoon in the produce truck, my friend told me another joke,

Back in the days of designated smoking areas on commercial airplanes, a woman named Jenny tried to get a non-smoking ticket of a commuter flight. She was told there were no more seats in that section and if she wanted to get on the plane she would need to sit with the smokers.

“I can’t do that,” Jenny complained. I can’t stand it, besides my dog is allergic.”

“Well, if you want, we can check the dog as baggage,” the ticket agent said.

“Not Fifi. She’s like a family member.” Jenny said.

“I’m sorry ma’am. You could wait until the next flight.”

“When would that be?” Jenny asked.

“Tomorrow morning.”

Jenny paced the ticket area and finally decided on a plan. It was a short flight and perhaps she could appeal to the kindness of her seatmates. She purchased the ticket.

Boarding early, Jenny found her seat on the aisle, over the wing and sat down with Fifi in her lap. Soon, a burley businessman with an unlit cigar in his mouth, sat next to her. Jenny introduced herself and Fifi.

“My name is Dave,” he said.

Contrary to Jenny’s nature, she chatted with Dave about their reasons for being on the plane and when the plane started down the runway, she assumed his sympathies were with her.

Soon they were in the air and some of the passengers began to light up. Jenny complained to Dave about her aversion and Fifi’s allergies. Dave raised a lighter to his cigar, glanced at her, and put his cigar away.

After a while, Dave fidgeted, and reached for his cigar. Jenny sighed.

“Don’t worry. Since this plane isn’t pressurized, I can open this window. I’ll blow my smoke outside,” Dave said.

Jenny relented, knowing Dave was actually trying to work with her, but the window blew Dave’s smoke right toward her. She coughed and Dave snuffed out the cigar.

Still more time passed and Dave lit his cigar again. This time, Fifi started sneezing. When Jenny complained, Dave said, “Look. I love this cigar about as much as you love that dog. I’ll make a deal with you.” Dave pointed out the window. “I’ll toss my cigar out the window if you toss your dog.”

“Don’t be stupid,” Jenny said. “I can’t do that to Fifi.”

Dave nodded his head in self-righteousness.

Before long Fifi was gasping for breath and Jenny had an idea. “We could switch seats.”

Dave huffed and climbed over her to stand in the aisle. Jenny slid across and took a deep breath of fresh air. She put Fifi on the ledge and encouraged her to breathe. “Thank you, Dave,” Jenny turned to him and said. Seconds later, the unthinkable happened. Fifi climbed out the window.

Jenny was inconsolable. Dave reached over and dropped his cigar out the window in a symbolic gesture but Jenny didn’t care. How would she ever be able to go on without Fifi?

After a while, the plane had grown quiet except for Jenny’s sobs. All the smokers had extinguished their cigarettes and Jenny glanced out the window toward the wing. Do you know what she saw?


Was the Dog sitting on the wing, smoking the cigar?


Nope. With wide-eyed amazement, Jenny looked and saw the brick . . .

If I hadn’t been driving a produce truck between Salt Lake and Provo, I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed this two-part joke. I was sequestered and bored, besides, my friend told it much, better than I can. The trick is in the timing and acting oblivious to the fact the first part is stupid, while keeping their attention in the second part. Never the less, the responses when I tell it, surprise me sometimes.

Recently, in critique group we addressed the problem of a book that reads like two different stories in the same story. There is the first part, which doesn’t appear to relate the second part, and seems like an entirely different book. In the end, however, both parts come together.

A suggestion was made to publish it as a two-part story. Other than connectivity, it’s a great piece of writing, but I’m a little unsure about the two-part idea. As writers we often write sequels but if we are good writers each story will be stand alone, not dependent on the other.

In a two-part the writer is obligated to make the first part exciting enough to carry the reader into the second book. Then if the second part lets them down, the reader will never forget that. When I tell the brick joke, it causes serious doubts about my joke telling abilities.

There is also the inherent danger of adding fill to a manuscript in order get the word count up for two books.

I think it would work if the parts were equally interesting. Each part needs a complete arc that provides closure for the reader. Also the first part needs a few teasers that lead the reader into the second part, then makes the reader glad he took the time to read.

If the second part of the brick joke had been funny enough, it would’ve been worth the time it took to get there. Make all your writing worth the time to get to the end.

Please forgive my stupid joke and consider, if I had posted this blog in two parts, would you have read it all? Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


By Keith N Fisher

I went to the doctor the other day. No big deal you might say, but believe it or not, I haven’t seen a doctor in thirteen years. Before that, it was probably twelve. Not that I have anything against them, I just have other things to spend money on.

Hearing the diagnosis, with more test results to follow, made me reflect on what I’ve done with my life. Things have changed a lot since the picture at the right was taken. That’s me on the left, being manhandled into the picture by my brother.

I spent my childhood in an almost Norman Rockwell type of existence. My friends and I could pack a lunch in the morning, be gone all day and never run into another house. There were farms and ranches where we lived and if we went far enough, there was Utah Lake.

We were free to let our imaginations run wild and we did. There were sand dunes, and orchards. There were abandoned houses we believed were haunted. Yes I had a great childhood.

As a teenager in the late sixties and seventies, life became complicated. Turbulent times called for difficult choices. Many of us were confused. We didn’t want to die in Southeast Asia, but we learned patriotism in the Boy Scouts. We built rope bridges and pole towers, went camping and let our hair grow. I barely missed having to register for the draft, but I have friends and relatives who served.

Later, after high school, I worked in the construction trades and wasted a lot of time without any direction. Then, through a series of events I found God. I returned to my roots and went on a mission at twenty-six years old.

I married my high school sweetheart after, and went about making a living. I worked on the degree I’d started before, but Architecture had lost its charm. Life has a way of making you change your plans.

I’ve made a living in several different occupations, grabbing experience along the way. Now, I use that experience plotting stories. I expect to live another fifty years, putting my adventures to good use.

Thanks for letting me ramble. Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hang 'Em High

A blog tour book review by Keith N Fisher

Hang ‘Em High, by Tristi Pinkston is the third in the Secret Sister series. I think it’s the best because we get to meet Ida Mae’s son, Keith, and delve into her private life. Tristi did a wonderful job of expressing the regrets every parent goes through.

In Hang ‘Em High, there is trouble at her son’s Montana Dude Ranch. Someone is killing horses and the Secret Sisters gang must figure out the mystery before Keith goes out of business. The whole gang is back to provide their own kind of quirky good humor and individual solutions to the problem.

I'm sure you will love Hang 'Em High, too, but read the other books in the series first.

You can purchase the book Here or Here

You can find Tristi at these peoples on the web



And Now,
To celebrate the release of Tristi's eighth book, she's holding a contest! If you leave a comment on this review, you will be entered into a drawing for a free manuscript evaluation, done by
Tristi Pinkston Editing In fact, you can leave comments on all the blogs participating in this virtual book tour! Go to Tristi Pinkston's blog at Here for a list. The deadline is October 5th at midnight MST. If you win and you're not a writer, you can give this evaluation to a friend.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Good People

By Keith N Fisher

Along with James Dashner writing an article in the current issue of Writer’s Digest, I crossed a threshold. He was one of the published authors I met at the first writer’s conference I attended. I feel vested in his success because I knew him before the Thirteenth Reality.

While on a family campout, I impressed one of my relatives with the fact I’d met Brandon Sanderson. Of course meeting him was a big deal, but he’s just a normal guy who happens to write popular fiction.

Everyone in my critique group is published. So, when someone talks about one of those authors and the books they’ve written, It’s fun for me to remember their books coming to critique group. I don’t try to impress anyone, however, most people don’t really believe I know those authors anyway.

Have you ever heard the statement, it’s not what you know, but who you know? I have a friend who went to a very popular national conference. The event is geared toward fans, but authors, publishers, and agents have a place, too. My friend met some powerful people in the business who are now helping with her career.

It’s a good feeling to attend a writer’s event and be recognized by famous people. To have them call me by name and ask about my work is precious. In a business with so much inherent competition, that seems strange, but the industry is full of nice people. Perhaps, the pay it forward or the give back theories are partly responsible. I think, however, it’s a personality trait. Whatever inspires people to write also makes them kind.

Yes there have been exceptions, but you will find them in every rule.

As I look back on my experiences with writers, I’m humbled by the acts of selflessness. I’ve seen anonymous helping hands extended toward struggling writers. I’ve seen people taken under wings and careers built on an introduction. I’m blessed to know so many nice people and I hope to measure up.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Have a Good Day

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Writing is an Enigma—Writing is Life’s Blood

By Keith N Fisher

Each day I work, sleep, and write a little. Some days, I write a lot, but not without paying a toll. I work at night so when I sleep, I feel guilty about being lazy. There is so much daylight out there that I’m wasting. I wake after two hours, force myself to go back to sleep, and never get enough.

When I write, I think of all the yard work, home repairs, and honey-do’s I’m neglecting. It feels great when I’m in the zone and writing, but what about my lawn?

Currently, The Hillside is at the publisher, waiting for a decision. The sequel is written and I’m going through the edits. Eternal Tapestries, My Brother’s Keeper, and The Trophy are all in the do-over stage. I’m writing the last chapters of Star Crossed, and I’m working on my cookbook.

The Latter has been a daunting task for me. Cooking is easy and I have dozen’s of recipes, both written, and in my head. The problem is formatting. As the director of many cooking competitions I’m no stranger to compiling recipe books, but a cookbook should be different. It’s hard, but I’m making progress.

In the midst of all of this, I wrote an outline for a national market book that’s been floating in my head. I wish I could write full time, but then again . . .

Have you seen the movie, 2012? In it there’s a scene when a man, (an author), takes his children camping in Yellowstone and there are strange things going on. The scene starts when its night, the children are going to bed and he’s on the Internet trying to figure it out. The daughter says, “Dad, you said you wouldn’t work on your book.”

He puts his laptop aside and says, “I’m not, I’m doing something else.”

That says it all. As writers we take our work with us, everywhere. My daughter said something similar to me once. She didn’t want to compete for my time while camping. So, now, I hide my laptop and get up at three a.m. so I can write and still give my time to her. Of course, now, she’s a teenager and doesn’t get out of bed before noon, so maybe I should sleep in.

Yes, as the title of this post says, writing can be a mysterious. What drives a person to finish one book while writing and drafting others? What keeps us going in the face of rejection? I don’t know but after all this time, I can’t not, write. It has become a part of who I am. Writing is life’s blood if you will.

So, I wake up after two hours of sleep, write the scene I’ve been thinking about, and try catch brief moments of slumber while feeling guilty about letting my garden go to weeds.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.