Rideshares, Wrecks, and Sex:
Confessions of a Convicted Uber Driver
by Joe F. N. Schmo Genre: Comedic Adventure
An Uber driver is expected to be courteous and attentive, both to their passengers and to those on the road. They are not expected to accept an invitation to a swinger party, flee the scene of a fatal accident, nor are they expected to be a convicted felon on probation.
Unfortunately, this Joe Schmo is not your everyday Uber driver.
As most Uber drivers do, Joe began sharing rides with the audacious hope to one day escape the legal and financial road blocks stalling his merger onto the freeway of creative success. But when a typical shift U-turns into a series of detours involving Android ordered lovers, herpes ridden riders, sexy sorority sisters, a botched bachelor party, and blundering bank robbers, he arrives (at gunpoint) miles from his desired destination.
"Rideshares, Wrecks, and Sex: Confessions of a Convicted Uber Driver" is a narrative nonfiction based upon actual events that transpired over the year Joe covertly drove for Uber while on intensive probation. He confesses outlandish details in a highlight reel of wrecks (both car and train) and sex, effectively answering the question every Uber rider has begged to know from their driver: "What's your craziest story?"
“What the fuck are you doing, numb nuts?” The robber pistol-whips my headrest to kidnap my attention before thrusting the barrel into my chest. A stink of desperation and maple syrup wafts from his mouth when he shouts, “Drive the fucking car, now!”
It’s at a time like this that I wish I were a superhero. Not so I can have superhuman strength, unmatched speed, or a stretchy cock, but so I can harness the power of hindsight. That’s right, hindsight.
This individualized ability would be similar to, but not exactly like, predicting the future. You remember the convoluted superpower Isaac Mendez displayed in Heroes? He had to black out in order to produce ambiguous artwork of an underage cheerleader. Creepy, I know. However, if his paintings could, in fact, foretell future fate, he could sketch a fake and manipulate Donald Trump into believing he’ll win another presidential election, then sell said paintings to him at market value ⎯ a cool billion. But hindsight is not like that; my superpower would be more practical than Isaac’s. Instead of predicting the future, hindsight would trigger a red light when I approach morally ambiguous crossroads at which a certain direction could lead me to mental, spiritual, or bodily harm.
At every consequential juncture a visual GPS would activate, allowing me to witness the destination of every road traveled, thus giving me an opportunity to choose the path that would prevent me from ever using the adage, “hindsight is 20/20.”
Just imagine something that might happen in an episode of South Park or a campy Nick Cage flick.
Unfortunately, I am not a superhero. Nor am I Nick Cage. I am an everyday Joe f’n Schmo who has a billion (and one) regrets that have led me to this moment where I am screaming “fucking hind⎯”
“Hey, Uber driver, get to the chopper, asshole!”
Braking from my heroic lament, I slam the transmission into gear and tear out of the bank parking lot with three masked men and what appears to be a cool billion, wishing to hell I could recalculate this current detour, where it will inevitably lead, and return to the beginning.
It all started yesterday when I turned on my Uber phone…
Joe F. N. Schmo, a 30-something latent child prodigy, is on a quest to obtain free Rockstar for life and plans to use it to obtain his Ph.D in Upsetting the Status Quo. Once earned, he hopes to use his written works as a vehicle to turn underinformed perceptions on their thick skulls (among other abhorrently selfish goals).
After completing over 1,000 rideshares for Uber while on intensive probation, Joe has encountered it all (save for alien abductions and spontaneous combustion) and is über qualified to write a confessional with such a titilating title.
Prior to his salacious adventures, Joe earned his B.A. in Film and Media Production where he wrote, produced, directed, and edited several short films. This experience sculpted him into the kind of asshole who quotes from random films and includes obscure pop culture references into his written works.
Joe's masterpiece, "Rideshares, Wrecks, and Sex: Confessions of a Convicted Uber Driver" is a culmination of his of film background, sharing rides with Uber, and myriad adverse experiences. It was NOT written to please those stiff, literary types, but to appeal to the haughty neophytes who attest e-books are superior to the printed page.
Currently, Joe is working on his encore, "Jackpot," which, much like "Rideshares, Wrecks, and Sex, was written with the intention to be adapted into a feature film (as it is his narcissistic goal to direct his own film adaptations).
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I am a film school graduate and had several student films play at Comicon. I'm a HUGE nerd! Like dress up nerdy.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
The stories in "Rideshares, Wrecks, and Sex" ARE indeed true. Well, most of them...
What are some of your pet peeves?
Man, this is a tough one. I don't really sweat the small stuff... it's all small stuff.
Where were you born/grew up at?
Phoenix, Arizona (where the book takes place).
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
Playing Rockband with my friends and family.
Who is your hero and why?
Seth MacFarlane / Trey Parker / Matt Stone / John Holmberg. South Park and Family Guy are by far the biggest visual influences in my sense of humor and style. I love these guys because (and John Holmberg — Phoenix radio morning show DJ) because they say and produce what they want, regardless of what others might think or how they might react. This is what I did for RWS. In today's #metoo world, it seems no one can say or do anything without walking on eggshells. Now, I don't ever go too far, per se, but I do speak my mind, and I am going to turn off a lot of readers because of it. However, I will gain that many more superfans in the process. And that's what I want: People who appreciate me for who I am, not who I pretend to be.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
The worst kind... I'm way too polite and passive. And I don't have any personal social media accounts.
What are you passionate about these days?
I love music! If I had to choose only one of the following: TV, movies, books, or music, I'd choose music. Heavy Metal? You bet! I'm going to see Disturbed and Three Days Grace in January, and I will probably be at the stage screaming my lungs out. I wrote this entire book listening to Slipknot.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Netflix and chill. I enjoy shows like Dexter, Breaking Bad, and 24.
How to find time to write as a parent?
I am single and without children (hopefully (crosses fingers)).
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Ugh. I can't do that.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I still don't consider myself a writer. Maybe after I publish a half-dozen books, and am able to quit my "day job." Until then, I'm still just a Schmo.
Do you have a favorite movie?
Donnie Darko is high up there. Contact. Pretty much any film directed by Zemeckis or Spielberg.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
All of them!!! I write with the intention to adapt. In fact, I'm hoping to direct all of my own film adaptations. When I write, I am very visual. I first write what I see in my "mind's eye" as if it were playing on a film in front of me, THEN edit it. If it isn't good enough to entertain in a film, it's not quality enough for print.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Okay, so this might be sacrilege, but I don't read many books. ESPECIALLY literary garbage. I binge read as many books in prison as I could because I just don't have the time to otherwise. And most of those were non-fiction. However, when I do read fiction, it's typically books adapted into films. I read to study. I watch films to study. I love it!
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo.
What inspired you to write this book?
"What's your craziest story?" was a mantra I heard every night driving for Uber. At first, I didn't have any. Then a few trickled in. After a year and over 1000 rides, I had more than enough to write several books. I combined all the best and wrote "Rideshares, Wrecks, and Sex."
What can we expect from you in the future?
Everything!!! I have 3 more manuscripts in the works (also adaptable). In addition to writing books and directing films, I plan on developing video games (be it PC or mobile). I am an entertainer, so I don't want to limit myself to only books.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Rideshares, Wrecks, and Sex?
My two favorite characters are Vito and Schwarz. These are Joe's "angel" and "devil" cohorts. I needed a spin on this cleché concept, so I casted the visages of Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger from Twins to fill their roles. Vito is a sleazy, foul-mouthed bastard, and Schwarz is a naïve teddy bear. Not only do these characters provide comic relief, they break up the monotony of a first person story and allow me to talk about the action as it's taking place. They are invaluable characters, and audiences will adore them.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
All of the characters are based on actual Uber riders (or are lifted from the crazy people I've met in my experiences), so essentially this book literally wrote itself. After so many rides and interactions with drunkards, I was able to piece together more than enough content for RWS; all I had to do was organize it. First, I made a list of all the stories that stood out in my mind. Then, I compressed them. Some of the scenarios and characters are a combination of many, but they are CHARACTERS for sure.
My thought process was to diversify the characters and scenarios to prevent from repetition, and I felt it was important to start with the shorter, funnier stories and end with the most dramatic. Ultimately, I am very happy with the structure of RWS.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
All the names and locations have been altered to protect the identity of the parties involved.......... Or were they......
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Everything! This book was combination memoir and fiction, so it satisfied both my creative drive and allowed me to relive some of the best times of my life. That, and it was my first manuscript, so it will always hold a special place in my heart.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
Oh, man. This is complicated. I definitely have themes in my characters — things I do to make them more real. Typically, all of my characters are flawed. That's a huge aspect of my life that I bleed into my writing. I'm flawed. So all my characters need to be, too.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
"Waiter Rant: Confessions of a Cynical Waiter" inspired me to create a Title: Subtitle combination. Rideshares is obvious, but Wrecks and Sex are both double entendres. Wrecks is both literal (as there are many throughout the book) and metaphorical for trainwrecks (even more of those!). Sex, of course, is also literal, but is meant to be a teaser for the big reveal toward the end (spoiler alert) that I am a sex offender, covertly driving for Uber. My runner up title was "Uber Confessions of a Sexy Fender." But I thought, "Na, that's too much."
Who designed your book covers?
Antnio Fadel Ramirez. A local artist in the Phoenix area. He did an AMAZING job. If you are wondering what I look like, the cover image is spot on!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I really struggle with self censorship. When I'm writing the first several drafts, I am constantly judging what I say from an outsider perspective. I cut SO many jokes that were hilarious to me, but assuredly in poor taste (which is why I find them funny). I edit out obscure references that the Average Joe wouldn't pick up on. And on and on. Ultimately though, editing and censorship is part of an important process: THE GREATER GOOD (and I wouldn't change that).
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
What DIDN'T I learn? This book taught me SO much that I can't go into detail without taking up too much of my readers' time. My advice to any authors (novice or expert) is to just write. Write and write and write. Even when it's garbage. Then, when you need a break, read and read and read. Read in your genre. Read nonfiction (how-to for writing/grammar). And when you need feedback on your shitty writing, join a writing group. This is the only way you will get better. 10,000 hours and you will be a master. And even then, you will still have to beg people to read your manuscript!
This is what I learned writing this book.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Uh, duh! Me. ................Or The Rock. Love you Dwayne Johnson.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
I have so many favorite parts. Just remember.... "Go-Go-Gadget Cock!"
Every time I read this book (which is like a billion times), I laugh out loud at lines I forgot, upcoming sections, but mostly at my stupidity. I have such a stupid sense of humor, I find a lot of things funny. RWS is (and I hate to say this because I'm super biased) fucking funny. I hope I can share my stupid sense of humor with the world.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I would play Rockband with Vito and Schwarz.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
Um... let me think about th--
POOF. "Are you fucking kidding me?" Vito apparates on the keyboard of Joe's laptop. "That Schmo couldn't buy the kind of gold I add to his story, even at the pawn shop. I'm like Midas, bitch." He slams his stubby wrists against his crotch before jumping from one key to the next as f they were burning coals.
POOF. "Vito," Schwarz calls out from atop the screen, "watch your mouth. We have guests present. You are going to ruin your political career if you don't reign it in."
"Look who's talking, cheater boy!"
"I told you not to bring that up!"
Guys!!!!! I'm in the middle of something here, Jesus! Sorry, where was I?
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
Honestly, I hate this question. Yes, I love this book. It's fucking hilarious. Topical. Informative. Heart-warming. And most of all, cute. But I can't in good conscience say, "YOU MUST READ THIS." That's biased. That's like me saying I smoke the best BBQ. It's simply ignorant, and I won't do it. But what I will do, is promote it genuinely. I will allow others to recommend it. I won't ever delete or try to hide an honest review. I want this book to stand on its own. Not be held up by a sleazy crutch. I hope this makes sense.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Spending over 2 years in prison, I wrote 4 separate manuscripts (still quite rough, though). What better time to hammer away than in prison. I wrote every day (practically). I won't go into any lengthy details, but the basics are:
"Jackpot" A comedy/thriller about a lottery conspiracy gone wrong.
"Remnants of the Past" (Book 1 of a 3 book series) Sci-fi/Fantasy that contains a horde of fan fiction elements from influential video games of my past. Some might say they were Remnants of my past...
"Honorless" Action/Thriller A suicidal hitman enters the afterlife as an "Honorless" (a supernatural bounty hunter contracted to capture Hellions).
Aside from these, I have another nonfiction book heavily outlined. "Everyone You Know is a Sex Offender, Including you!" And, yes. it is as aggressive as it sounds.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Post Coitus. That, or House Fire. You decide.
What did you edit out of this book?
Holy-fuckin'-shit, Batman! Lots! Pages and pages. Chapters. Jokes. Entire characters. I think the line I miss most is (referring to my grandfather) "Cho Mo racist." Most of what I took out was more supplementary than necessary. It needed to go. If I were being VERY aggressive, I could find more to cut, but I write pretty sparse to begin with. Over the course of several edits, I've had to ADD a bunch because it was too lean, and many test readers were confused (I left off a lot of dialogue tags and direction because I felt it redundant). Now, the book leaves no questions, while not being overly wordy (unlike this post).
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
Ready Player One; Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archives; Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles; Harry Potter series; Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar series; Piers Anthony's Zanth series; and many more. I also read (much more, actually) nonfiction. How-to and personal development are my go to. I have literally read 3 or 4 books in one day at my peak, and as many as several hundred during my time in prison.
What book do you think everyone should read?
I can't suggest this. Everyone has different tastes. But "The Stormlight Archives" and "Kingkiller Chronicles" are both very influential. "How to win friends and influence people to your way of thinking" is amazing, and anything by Dr. Wayne Dyer or Dr. Phil can change your life! And, of course, Ready Player One. Read it, dammit!!!!!
How long have you been writing?
I was in second or third grade when Jurassic Park came out. Soon after that, I remember writing a story assignment for class where all of my classmates and I were stuck on the island when the dinosaurs broke loose. Pretty much every one died. It was EPIC!
Fast forward like 20 years.
I randomly bumped into one of those classmates and he asked me what I was up to. I told him, "writing." He laughed and then brought up the story I wrote (and presented). I had totally forgotten about it. It wasn't until he brought it up that I realized I have been writing since I could hold a pencil.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Definitely as I write. I do operate with an outline and plan, but oftentimes, my characters evolve (as does the story). Sometimes this requires me to write in (or combine) characters to fit the plot. I'd like to think of my process as organic. It lives and breathes, sometimes on its own.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I usually do research AS I'm writing. I feel that if I need to do research before I write, I'm not qualified to write it. But sometimes, obstacles arise, and using the ol' Googs is the only way to overcome the obstacle. Except in prison, where the only tool at your disposal is a 30 year old Encyclopedia. FML.
Do you see writing as a career?
As PART of a career, yes. I plan on directing my film adaptations in addition to developing several games. Also, I'd like to attempt to improve our twisted society (if even possible) with my words/projects/influence. You can expect a lot from this Schmo.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
Its a business. Just like the movie industry. They are going to produce what they anticipate is going to sell. It sucks for books like RWS because it is so controversial there's no way they would take a chance on it. This happens to a lot of good books. However, I do understand that there's a lot shit out there. And we're talking steaming piles of shit! So I can't fault the publishing market for it. What I can do, is play the game and work it to the best of my ability. The same goes for everyone one else who has written a wonderful book that doesn't have a chance in hell of being published. Make the current market work for you.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
As much as I can without sacrificing my writing. Fantasy / Nonfiction
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I always write with music. It helps me drown out the background (ESPECIALLY in prison) and my inner dialogue. I can't write or concentrate without it.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I only write one book at a time (or each draft of a book). In fact, I really try not to even read while I'm in the middle of a book. But between drafts and especially when I'm incubating plot ideas, I will read or write something else. But it's typically one at a time.
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
Pen or type writer or computer?
In prison, pencil. It cost me 3 cents per golf pencil. and yes, I wrote this book (and three others) with fucking golf pencils. Let me tell you... THAT is a pain in the ass. I would send my drafts to my editor, and they would type/edit my work, then send it back. It was slow, but it taught me to appreciate the hell out of my laptop. In which I will be using from meow on.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
This is a VERY close toss up between Kvothe from Rothfuss's Kingkiller and Kaladin from Sanderson's Stormlight. I love these characters because they are very complex. Not always good, not always bad. I'm all about flawed characters. When a character is cookie cutter hero, they are boring. But these two authors do a fantastic job bringing to life living, breathing characters.
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
Jail/Prison. I can't very well produce film in prison. So I decided to write. And write I did. Prison is a writer's dream! No job (well, for me. Because who the fuck wants to work for 35 cents and hour when you could be writing!?). No cell phones. No social media. Distractions, yes, but nothing that can't be overcome. I am so glad I did. I know I'm on the write path (pun intended)!
A day in the life of the author?
Work, write, sleep, repeat. Currently, my life is VERY boring. However.... I will be spending some time in Europe and in the Middle East in the coming months (hopefully producing a documentary) and I'm assuming it will be much more exciting. I'll keep you posted!
Advice they would give new authors?
My advice to any authors (novice or expert) is to just write. Write and write and write. Even when it's garbage. Then, when you need a break, read and read and read. Read in your genre. Read nonfiction (how-to for writing/grammar). And when you need feedback on your shitty writing, join a writing group. This is the only way you will get better. 10,000 hours and you will be a master. And even then, you will still have to beg people to read your manuscript!
Describe your writing style.
Humorous with a side order of obscure references. I have tried to write "seriously" but I just keep coming back to comedic social commentary. For example. here is a funny (and slightly raunchy) paragraph from RWS.
We continued making out, her hand polishing my tip and my hand cupping her tit, when the worst imaginable thing happened. Leonardo DiCaprio wormed his way into my brain and planted the seed of inception. That lowly seed broke through the soil, and, as Stephanie’s tongue explored my mouth like a gerbil in Richard Gere’s ass, it blossomed into one word. Rose.
What makes a good story?
I am a fan of plot heavy books. A good, well composed plot can make up for minor issues. But if the characters are cardboard and writing is for shit, even a great plot won't be able to perfume the stench.
What are they currently reading?
A lot of nonfiction (until I'm done with this release and have enough downtime for fiction). Also, I'm catching up on my video games!!!! Zelda BOTW and Super Smash Bros. get some play on my Switch.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
To be honest, my writing process is REALLY janky. I'm certain that a professional author would scoff at my process, but fuck 'em. Everyone does their own thing. I do write an outline (sometimes only a chapter or two ahead). But more often than not, those outlines are altered by the time I catch up to their end. By the time I finish, my outline looks more like a hieroglyph to be deciphered. I know what it means, but others looking in are laughing for sure.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
A good movie. That, and good company. As a "writer," I have sacrificed many a great movies and potential fun with friends. I get asked by my film buddy all the time to join him, and I usually decline. Because writing is sacrifice... And fun is my kryptonite.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Both! Originality is nearly impossible this day and age, but I sure as fuck try! Sure, there are dozens of Uber Confessionals out there (even though I WAS the first t start, I can promise that), but I tried to be as creative and original in my style and delivery as possible. My next several books (fiction, not based on true events) are much more original in both style and plot.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Dude, you suck. No really, keep working on that.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I feel writing all characters from another perspective is hard, not just opposite sex. I try and tap into different experiences I've lived and use those to channel into other characters. I think, "how would so-and-so respond?" "What would he or she do in this scenario." That helps me keep things as authentic as possible. That's why I believe that the older you get, the easier writing becomes; Having more experience with more unique individuals is a natural bi-product of aging. This makes it easier for us to breathe life into more characters.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
About a year (start to edit finish). RWS first draft was done in like 3 months. But I just kept editing and editing and... well, you get the idea. If I didn't set a firm release day, I would NEVER finish. I think that's a good way to start: With a release day in mind (assuming it is a healthy deadline). That's what I'm going to do for my other books. Set a publish by date and shoot for the moon!
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Nope! It doesn't exist. It's just fear. Fearful writers call it "writer's block" so those that they can have an excuse not to write. There are times when I write, and I feel like everything I just wrote is absolute trash. I believe this paralyzes many writers, but if they just keep writing, they would discover that they can iron out any wrinkles. That said, I DO believe in "incubation." Incubation is when your subconscious mind's gears grind while you are working out or eating or taking a shit. When there is a plot hole or a problem I don't yet know the solution to, I will think about it until my eyes bleed. THEN, if I don't come up with an answer, I will take a break from writing (or move on to another chapter, or write something else) and let my subconscious work on it. Inevitable, the solution WILL come. But it is NOT a block. It is an obstacle. WRITER'S BLOCK is a myth.
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