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Monday, August 21, 2017

NO ONE READS BLOGS ANYMORE


I worked 24 of the weekend's 48 hours, 
so I slept most of Monday!  

My schedule has been like that lately
and that is why
I am so seldom on the internet.

Sorry.


"In rushing like bulls in china shops,
 we break our own lives."
 - Mark Twain


Of course you balk at my post title,
since you are reading my blog, right?

But reading is on the decline.  

One in four (27%) of us have not read a book in the last year.


Nissa Annakindt has written a wonderful post on "The Mistakes Author-blogs Make"


If we as authors write posts primarily to other authors, 

we are in essence singing to the choir.

It is like kissing your sister, convenient but leads nowhere ... 

unless your sister was Angelina Jolie ...

but that is another disturbing story.  Brrr.



John Locke, snake oil salesman 
and book review buyer that he was

actually had a good idea:


We must write to intrigue and entice potential READERS of what we write.


HOOK 
Google Searchers with an intriguing title

 But you must follow the title with a post 

that amuses, entertains, and persuades the reader that your prose is worth gambling 99 cents on.

 On the internet, you can walk away with a click if someone fails to interest you. 

This happens all the time.



TAKE A STAND


Say your piece and stand by it.  

Wafflers are like warm tap water.  

Be hot.  Be cold.  

But write words of steel not water vapor.

You think most Indie Authors are Brand Whores?  

Say it.  Stand by it. 
Endure the storm and stand tall.  

That is what great spirits do.



ACT "AS IF"


In the documentary, "Conan Can't Stop," 

Conan explains how he gets through situations that are hard. 

He says he acts "as if."  

As if he belongs there. 

As if he knows what he's doing.  

As if everything is going to be a success -- 

no matter what he does, no matter what anyone says, no matter how hard it gets.


Write your blog, live the author life that way ...

Write As If people are reading 

and by golly you are going to entertain the socks off them.

Hey, it might even work! 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

FICTION IS NOT REALITY_ Thankfully for those reading IT


Fiction is not reality. It is something slightly different, yet the same.

Like Mark Twain said, "Fiction has to make sense."

 

I.) Fiction reflects reality through a mirror darkly ...

A.) That mirror reflects society's face with all its ...

1.) Blemishes

2.) Scars

3.) Hopes

4.) Its dreams and the smiles despite the inner pain of most of the people you walk past on the streets.

 

II.) Fiction distills reality, revealing more truth than reality does in a shorter span of time.

A.) Fiction prunes out anything that doesn't propel the story and themes forward.

B.) Fiction is more intense and dense page by page than our lives are day by day.

 

III.) Fiction is a crucible ...

1.) holding our characters to the fire to purify and hone their spirits 


so that they are stronger, purer or broken or shattered at the novel's end.

2.) We are the blacksmiths, hammering our characters on the anvil of adversity. 


If our characters are having a good time, our readers grow bored.

 

IV.) As in reality, adversity introduces our characters to themselves and to the reader.

1.) Unlike reality, all dross events are sifted from the narrative.

2.) The best fiction reveals the characters of our players in what they do and why they do it.

3.) Shallow fiction makes prose puppets, 


forcing the characters to do things, not letting their actions flow from their inner natures.

 

V.) That is why everything in fiction serves multiple purposes. 

Like packing a solitary suitcase for a long trip, each item, each scene must serve multiple functions.

1.) Life is often haphazard, cluttered.

2.) Fiction must never be those things.

3.) Fiction ultimately relates seemingly unrelated items and scenes.

EXAMPLE:

a.) Parents give a gun to a young boy for his birthday instead of the bike he wanted.

b.) How does that relate to anything?

c.) It was the same gun that his older sister used to commit suicide.

d.) Based on a true incident from M. Scott Peck's PEOPLE OF THE LIE.

 

VI.) Like a skillful mother, 

an author should be doing 2 things at all times in the same scene or action.

A.) As in the prior example:

1.) The gun wasn't just an inappropriate gift to a young boy.

2.) It was a silent message: 


We want you to kill yourself, too.

 

B.) Likewise each scene should propel the story forward, upping the tension and suspense at the same time:

1.) As with the above example:

2.) Boy now knows his parents want him dead.

3.) What does he do with that knowledge? 


What can he do? He is just a young boy at the mercy of insane parents.

VII.) Each incident should ...
 

1.) Set the scene in the context of the character's thoughts.

2.) Reveal the hero's character by what he or she makes of the situation and what she does with it.

3.) Moves the story along with suspense and tension.

 

VIII.) A spear has no branches.

1.) Streamline your prose to chisel the story in crisp detail and image.

2.) Chunky paragraphs sink your prose into the sea of boredom.

3.) Don't tell the reader your character is this or that.

4.) Show your character in action, revealing his or her thoughts about the situation.

5.) When you have the reader make up his own mind about the character of your hero and villain, 


your story will become more "real" to your reader, making it take on a living existence for him or her.

 

IX.) As a woman is the echo of the girl she once was, 

by the end of the novel, your main character should 

be the result of his past decisions, realizations (true or false), and his actions.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

WHEN LIFE BUTTS IN!



"Maybe the wolf is in love with the moon.
And each month, he howls for the love
he will never be able to touch."
-Samuel McCord


In the past two days, I have worked 24 hours ...

It was no fun at all driving exhausted at night through the pouring rain in a strange city looking for a new hospital!

And as you might expect, there has been precious LITTLE time for me to write on my latest dream.


HAS LIFE EVER GOTTEN IN THE WAY OF YOUR DREAMS?


“That's what happens to dreams, life gets in the way.”    ― Jodi Picoult, Handle With Care




Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.

As a young man, Arnold decided to get up 30 minutes earlier than he wanted and to study for an entire year a subject he wanted to know better.

I decided to do that as well.  It works for me even in this harsh, time-draining job of mine.  I get up 15 minutes early and stay up 15 minutes later to get in a little writing.

Sometimes life insists on her way, and I let her ... for a day or two.  But then, I fall back into the pattern again.



A young man was told by his physician that because of his neuro-muscular disease, he would only be 70% all his days.  


He grew depressed.  He sat channel surfing and came upon Arnold in PREDATOR.

He thought to himself:
"70% of Arnold?  Why not?"
  
And so began his long, grueling days of physical training. 


 He now looks like a lean tiger and moves more graceful than before the diagnosis.

There is a path if we but look for it.

We bloggers are better writers for we know we are not alone.


 All of this is too general?

How can we write when there is so much pressing in on us?


1. Pinpoint Underlying Issues.

 

If you've always wanted to write and aren't doing it, invest some thought in figuring out the source of your writer's block. 

Is it a fear of failure, a longstanding tendency to procrastinate, or something as simple as a lack of writing space?
Find the flaw -- then, map out a plan to deal with it.

 

2. Just Say "No."

 

Time is limited, and for most people, the demands on their time are unlimited. 
Once you've determined what you want to say yes to, the ability to say no becomes an important muscle to build.

While your writing time should not be the most important thing in your life, 

it should give way only for the more important things in your life.


3. Schedule Time to Write.

 


It's not glamorous or exciting to adhere to a schedule, but it really does help. 



If you work full-time, it may actually be easier to establish a regular time each day in which to write.


Get up early and write before you leave the house, 


take a notepad with you to lunch, or stop off at a coffee shop on your way home.

 4. Resist the Impulse to Overdo It.

If you're the kind of person who tends to throw yourself into a new project only to burn out after a week or two,


consider giving yourself stop times for writing.

 

5. Know That It Won't Always Be Easy.

You may be more tired at the end of the day.

Some social obligations might get pushed aside.

Your family might have to pitch in.

Decide what you're willing to sacrifice for a few hours a week dedicated to writing.

Most of us have obligations we can't avoid, but if you're determined, you can manage both.


At the same time, 
be content with whatever you can realistically give to your writing. 
Even an hour a day adds up over time.



What do you do when life presses in on you?
How do you cope with
lack of time's
strangle-hold on your
writing?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

THE MOST TERRIFYING MAN ELECTED PRESIDENT?


 Only $1.99 Kindle or
$7.49 Audio



I am a student of history, and in my historical fantasies, 

I like to hurl my heroes against those in power who abused it.

In THE RIVAL

I have Victor Standish and Sergeant Samuel McCord clash with President Jackson in  1834 New Orleans.

Was Jackson a villain?

Andrew Jackson was a wealthy slave owner and infamous Indian killer, 

gaining the nickname ‘Sharp Knife’ from the Cherokee.

 President Thomas Jefferson appointed him to appropriate Creek and Cherokee lands. 

In his brutal military campaigns against Indians, 

Andrew Jackson recommended that troops systematically kill Indian women and children 

after massacres in order to complete the extermination. 

The Creeks lost 23 million acres of land in southern Georgia and central Alabama, 

paving the way for cotton plantation slavery. 

His frontier warfare and subsequent ‘negotiations’ 

opened up much of the southeast U.S. to settler colonialism.

 As a major general in 1818, Andrew Jackson invaded Spanish Florida chasing fugitive slaves 

who had escaped with the intent of returning them to their “owners,” 

and sparked the First Seminole War. 

 As president, Jackson's war with the banks sparked the financial panic of 1837.

I could go on, but there is a reason he is being taken off the $20 bill. 

 His ghost is probably happy since he hated paper money! 

In keeping with Jackson tradition, 

I have him duel with Victor Standish on horseback with sabers!

Also keeping with tradition, I have Jackson cheat.

Monday, August 7, 2017

LOVE IS NEVER SINGULAR NOR IS LIFE


 
"There can be a real meeting 
between two people 
at the point where they 
always felt marooned. 
Right at the edge.” 
- Sam Shepard

Love and life are so difficult to define.  

Both are never singular.  There must be two.

Love is utterly singular to each person in each relationship at each moment in time.

 We each love different loves, 

constantly navigating and negotiating the infinite continuum of meaning 

with which we view each lover through eyes that may not even see us as we are. 

Sam Shepard's letters to his life-long friend, Johnny Dark


 explored love as a union of two sovereign alonenesses 

and a mutual awakening to dormant parts of each self.

 Both men belonged to “The Work”

a movement of gatherings based on the spiritual teachings of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, 

whose philosophy was rooted in the idea that 

although our default state is a sort of waking sleep, we are capable of waking up. 

In 1982, Shepard met the actress Jessica Lange on the set of the film Frances, in which he had a supporting role. 

Lange earned an Academy Award nomination and won Shepard’s heart. 

The two entered into an immediate and intense romance 

that effected, as Shepard wrote to Dark, mutual awakening.

What do you think?

Do we mostly live in a waking sleep
 from which only love can awaken us?

or

Can our dreams awaken us even more?


Thursday, August 3, 2017

REUNION OF ENEMIES Reunion WEP post




Denise wrote that early posts would be appreciated so I decided to oblige!

Besides, I have missed the world of the Caretaker whom we last saw in the HERO LOST anthology.

 


So without further ado, 
let us re-enter the House Eternal

{1100 words}




The House Eternal. 

The truth of its birth whispers from the dark unknown.  I am its Caretaker. My beginnings burn under the starlight of dim memories.  My end is unknown yet certain in its ugliness.  I hasten it by meddling where saner souls would wisely pass.


Above the oak front door, the spider web, spun from the sobs of children, trembled in anticipation.  Arachne studied me from its glistening center.  Human/not human, she smiled with green lips still wet from adorning her silken snare with venom.

“Athena wronged you, but taking it out on innocents is misplaced vengeance.”

Arachne’s words were flutters of papyrus, “Dry and dead is the wind that last tasted innocence.”

Mouse, riding in my chest pocket, wrinkled his whiskers like angry broom straws. “All things truly wicked started out innocent.”

Mouse.  He owed his freedom to Napoleon’s soldiers.  The gust of bacterial air which breathed from the First Dynasty tomb they ransacked gave them the freedom of death.

Was Mouse a ghost rodent or had the bacteria-infested air of the tomb changed him somehow?  


Arachne’s laughter was more sleet than sound.  “The world must have been born innocent indeed.”

I said. “It takes a very long time to become young.”

The front door, Artemis’s gift to me, throbbed with tears of dawn.  I snorted.  Athena was much too Olympian to merely knock. 

I smiled.  Artemis’ tongue might be as sharp as her arrows, but her word was as sure as her aim.  Artemis usually beat me at chess.  But last night, I could not allow her to win, for I fought for another. And so, she had brought Athena to me.


A man-shaped shadow appeared.  Once he had been a solid man … before he doubted.  He flowed to my side.

“I thought I had a death wish, Einherjar.”

“Thomas,” I said.  “all in the House Eternal are my charges.  I will see to them or die.”

Mouse chirped, “I vote for a greater margin of error.”

I patted his head.  “I give you leave to flee to the shadows, little friend.”

Mouse’s eyes deepened.  “You may not remember the time you first fed me. Or the time you first scooped me up into the safety of your shirt pocket. Or the time you waited at the crossroads for me to catch up. But I do, and the end of your skein of days shall be mine.”



Thomas rumbled, “So say I.”

I frowned, and Thomas shrugged, “I said I had a death wish, did I not?”

Arachne murmured, “I am not worth the fate Athena will grant thee.”

I could almost see the beautiful woman she once had been in her many-eyed face. “I am your friend.”

“And if I do not wish thy friendship?”

“I will try to be discreet.”

This time her laughter was more summer rain than sleet but still it was chill. The door was hot sunset now.  I must time this just right.  As Caretaker, I was pledged to greet visitors for Grande Dame



Was She Avatar of the House Eternal or merely its first resident?  Most of the House was complete, She tells me, when the first stars began to coalesce into the Light that caressed the awakening planet. 

It could be.  I was not there.  I am old,  just not that old.

She was not alive as one thinks of life.  Nor was She eternally dead.  Life, Death – they were but trifles to Her as She insisted on having Her way with each new-born day.

Grande Dame also insisted upon respect from those who came calling. Athena refusing to knock would not be appreciated. I had a moment more that I could safely wait to respond.

Tragic Athena. She could have easily forgiven Arachne’s pride, if it had not also mortified her own.  Olympians find it easier to forgive mortals when they are wrong than when they are right.

Another heartbeat more, and I would have to answer.  And my gambit would die still-born. 



After centuries of dealing with those who wander eternity, I should have remembered that they are long on hate but short on patience.  The oak door simply vanished.  No flash of lightning, no thunder.  True power is like that.

The dying twilight revealed eyes filled with razors.  Athena.  Imagining her museum statues and carvings?  They are not even in the same dimension with the terrible majesty looming in the doorway.  Artemis stood bored beside her. No hunt that did not smear her arrows with the blood of prey interested her.


I wondered if she would mourn me.

“I have to ….” I started.

“Die,” Athena murmured, suddenly right before me.

I shook my head.  “You entered unbidden and thus must abide by the House Rules.  I was going to warn you.”

Athena spun to Artemis.  “You tricked me!”

Moonlight caressed the Huntress’s long hair in glints of cold fire.  “Nay.  I but mentioned Arachne’s fine weaving of old.  It was you who wondered where she might be these long centuries later.”


Shoulders the white of mountain peaks shrugged.  “You asked.  I answered.  It was your idea to come, laughing about a fine reunion of enemies.”

Athena turned to me.  “These House Rules?”

“Are many … one is that those who enter unbidden must leave behind them whatever the Caretaker chooses.”

I smiled like an Einherjar.  “I chose your hate.  See it yonder on the marble porch?”

Incanting dark spells, Athena turned to see the floating green cloak of thorns, most of which turned inwards.  Wet Olympian blood still gleamed on their points.

“Hate always hurts the one who wears it.”


Arachne gasped as once more she stood in human form, though her gown now was clinging spider-silk.  Her beauty breathed of sunshine and honey.  I suspect that long ago, Athena envied more than her weaving skills.

Athena’s inhuman face lengthened.  “And should I step back onto the porch?”

Mouse chirped, “You cannot, Great One. Those who enter unbidden must stay the night.”

Athena breathed icily.  “But come morn, should I embrace it?”

“You would find it gone,” I said.  “Hate left untended dissipates.”

Teeth like flint daggers flashed.  “You think yourself clever, Caretaker?  You are nothing.  Nothing!”

“I am loyal.  I have done my duty to one guest.  Now, I must put Grande Dame to bed.”

Thomas rumbled, “One night, you will not return.”

From the attic whose walls were not walls, Grande Dame’s yawn stirred the ancient air.

“I am beckoned.  Honor would have me go.”.

Athena’s laughter swirled behind me like graveyard blossoms.

I turned, climbing the steps with Mouse shivering in my shirt pocket.  I gently tapped his head.  In the end, it is our hearts that prove our undoing.