Monday, December 21, 2020
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
I've moved numerous times over the years. As a writer, my biggest carbon footprint comes from the boxes, crates and plastic bags full of books, magazines, comics, manuscripts, notebooks, Xerox copies and scribbled notes I haul one carful at a time to my new digs. Then comes the piles of shirts, pants, underwear, socks, towels, gloves and sweaters, half of which I don't wear anymore. Number-wise, dishes, eating utensils, glasses, pots and pans come next in their clattering, banging masses. And then there's furniture.
One item among my myriad possessions just does not behave. It always pokes out and ends up by itself in some corner of the back seat or trunk. It is a tiny little American flag, purchased at some forgotten flea market, held to a long dowel stick with only five or six staples. Long enough that it will not fit into any of my boxes or crates, and it rips through plastic trash bags. I have to roll it up and just set it somewhere loose. I remember having to do this every time I've moved since well before 2000.
Even when I'm ensconced somewhere, it sits in the closet most of the time. I dig it out on Independence Day and find some ledge or window sill in which to wedge it. Ever since I was a kid, I loved the idea of there being "Flag Day," June 14, a lesser known holiday which was basically an excuse to put up the little flag again. On 9/11/2001 it came out and waved for several days.
I just now got in my car, two weeks post-moving, and I realized the little stapled-on flag is still rolled up in the back seat. Seeing as today is November 11 (Veteran's Day), looks like it should finally come out.
Sunday, October 18, 2020
"When are you going to send new novels in to agents and publishers?" asks a friend of mine. I'm afraid I've used up all my viable pieces on Amazon.com Kindle. Such efforts, though more-or-less self-published, count as published to the book industry (as does uploading stories onto your own blog or web-site). Therefore the world must wait until I churn out more novel-length works.
A Kingdom of Children, a fantasy tale that starts with the Children's Crusade of the Thirteenth Century then flies off the map into my own world of "Aanuu", is the nearest to completion. Just yesterday I found the last notebook containing my notes and scribbles for the last section of the book. This also means, however, that I must bridge a few chapter-length gaps with brand new material before I can safely type "The End." Then comes the reviewing and rewriting.
The last of my written works were hidden in a small (7" x 5") spiral notebook. I'm a bit surprised, because I don't like writing in notebooks that small or smaller. Just as I get up a head of steam, I have to stop and flip the page. Also, the smaller the book, the easier it is to lose, or just become one of a pile of near-identical booklets.
On the other hand, I don't like college/school sized notebooks either. It seemingly takes forever to write across a single line, and it feels like longer than forever to finish a page and turn to a fresh new sheet. Ever since I started writing seriously, I've used mostly Mead 9-1/2" x 6" Spiral Notebooks (or the nearest equivalent), the more pages the better. Originally they had 200 sheets, but I haven't seen more than 180 per notebook in quite some time, and many are a paltry 150 or even 100 sheets.
Some of you might ask, "Why not compose straight onto the computer?" Well, I've tried doing that for over twenty years; it ain't happening. I'll always be faster with pen and paper. Also, I can pull out a notebook and pen almost anywhere, and I'm limited to my tower PC computer-wise.
This device they call a Tablet certainly looks interesting, however . . .
Saturday, September 26, 2020
Between my web page, FaceBook, this blog, Patreon and just writing in general, I'm needing material to write, so here's something a bit random:
I remember it was the 1960s . . . kids at school passed around a rumor that there was a book in the school library about monsters -- not some silly "101 Monster Jokes" book, or a Scholastics paperback 40 pages long, but an actually heavy, hardback book about MONSTERS! But adult books weren't ever about fun things like that! I kept trying to check it out, but somebody always got it before I did. Finally I got this weird title: Alfred Hitchcock's Monster Museum! And the rest was history.
It was my introduction to Silver John with "Desrick on Yandro." The next was "O Ugly Bird" in Red Skelton's Favorite Ghost Stories. Finally, I went to college, and found Who Fears the Devil? -- the original Arkham House version -- in the library.
And -- why not? -- a link to one of my own Silver John stories: "Away Down the Road a Piece"
Monday, August 24, 2020
For good or ill, I've created a Patreon page, The Fantasy World Project. Between that, this blog, my website, and my stories and novels, I've got to start producing copy!
The 20th of August was Ray Bradbury's 100th Birthday, so I have to write something Bradburian!
I almost missed my only opportunity to see Ray in person when he gave a talk at the main public library in Tulsa, OK, about 1996. I was watching a goofy cartoon version of "Tales from the Crypt" ("Tales from the Crypt-Keeper"), and I wanted to see how the running feud between Crypty, the Vault-Keeper, and the Old Witch turned out. Sad, isn't it? But I finally zipped up to the library, where Ray greeted his audience with, "YOU PEOPLE DON'T KNOW WHAT DEATH IS!", which was not quite how I thought he'd start out. He talked about life during and after the flu epidemic, and how high child mortality rates were, and how families had multiple children to make sure there would be a new generation. Finally, however, he started on the more familiar Mr. Electrico and the like.
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
As I've written -- on blog, FaceBook or somewhere -- I've been a reader all my life, but frequently I had next to nothing to read. Before starting college I was proud owner of maybe 50 paperback books, which filled a whole shelf of my made-in-shop-class bookcase.
When I started at Oklahoma State University, however, I was exposed to the McFarlin Library, two million volumes plus thousands of journals, maps, newspaper archives and the like.
They say you can't miss what you never had -- but seeing the OSU library after being used to a shelf of paperbacks -- suddenly my brain felt like an empty warehouse, with my meager collection sitting off in a cobwebby corner. I had worlds to learn about! I think I would have had a good education had I simply spent those four years in McFarlin.
Fast Forward to the past few years of (mostly) unemployment. I was too worried, too nervous to read much. Heck, I'd start a novel -- fade out halfway through -- and put it back on the shelf. How could I waste time reading when I should be looking for a job?
This week, however, I realized: there's that feeling again. My brain is an empty warehouse. Mix in with that an added metaphorical sensation of utter starvation, and all I could say was:
"Gaaah! I can't take it any more!"
I'm reading, ya hear me? I'm reading Castles by Sidney Toy, the best survey of castles, fortifications, battlements, keeps and siege warfare ever! I'm reading Lands Beyond by SF great L. Sprague de Camp and science writer Willy Ley, an early history of places that never were, a great resource for fantasy writers. I'm reading Churchill by Roy Jenkins -- I have 50 or 60 books on World War II, and I have to start somewhere. I'm reading Popular Science and Scientific American for -- science!
Yes, I'll work on stories, novels and resumes; I'll wash the dishes and clothes; I'll vacuum and scrub the toilet. But from now on I'm hijacking chunks of time to fill the empty warehouse.
Sunday, August 2, 2020
On Thursday, August 6th, 8:00 to 9:30 PM EDT (7:00 to 8:30 Central), Pole to Pole Publishing is holding a FaceBook Launch Party for the paperback version of "20,000 Leagues Remembered!" Here's hoping everyone will be there!
Each author has five minutes to interact with the reading public and answer all their questions (not to mention self-promote). I hope I can figure out this FaceBook Party thing before then!