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Thursday, September 21, 2017

ANTHOLOGIES ARE GOOD FOR YOU


Why?

Because I am in one.  

Ah, no.  That's why they are good for ME.  

Why are they good for YOU?


1.) YOU SEE DIFFERENT HORIZONS

Each of us falls into reading ruts eventually.  

Say, we look at an anthology and see an author whose work we like ...


We buy it and fall in love with the story, "The Silvering" by Ellen Jacobson

a haunting romance of superstition and a need for liberation, whose cost is dear. 

  

Fantastic!

Our reading horizons have just broadened.  How neat is that?



2.) ANTHOLOGIES PROVE THAT GOOD STORYTELLING TRUMPS GENRE

Often we short-change ourselves because we look at a novel and say, 

"Oh, I don't read that stuff!"  

Yet a good story is seldom centered upon genre but upon the conflict within the human heart.  

And whether that heart is alien or human,

we are touched and enriched by a good story about its bruising.

Which leads me into my next point ...


3.) STRANGERS TEACH US ABOUT HUMANITY

By portraying "The Other," 

 authors are really holding up their characters as a comparison to our own ways.

 Sometimes a story about aliens 

(or an age group or sex with which we think we have no connection to) 

can help us see the best and the worst of humanity.

As in my story for Sendai, "It Seemed The Thing To Do," 

letting you see through the eyes of a single mother in a foreign land devastated by war.




4.) SHORT STORIES TEMPT YOU TO STEP INTO A WORLD YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE BUT FOR THE LENGTH

 When you’re between books, or don’t have the time to immerse yourself in your current book, 

it’s very satisfying to read a thoughtful, well-written story. 

There are many stories you can read in 10 or 15 minutes . . . 

stories that you will be thinking about for much, much longer than that.


5.) SHORT STORIES TEACH US HOW TO USE THE LANGUAGE

In short stories, you do not have the luxury of gushing words.  

You have to make each word count.  

Reading a short story well done teaches us how to sketch in a much fuller world in fewer words than we thought possible. 

6.) BECAUSE STEPHEN KING SAYS SO!


7.) AND YOU SEE WHAT KIND OF DRECK THAT YEOMANS GUY WROTE


Look for it Never.

 Hey, life happens.  

But even anthologies
that the publisher abandons
teach you to do your
due diligence! 


Have you read any
great anthologies lately?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Midnight and Wonder Woman






Have any of you watched  
WONDER WOMAN 
in the theater or on Blue Ray 
as Midnight and I did today?

What did you think of it?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

PENNYWISE versus BATMAN


How would Batman fare against Pennywise?


or would it go like this?

 Pleasant dreams ...

Friday, September 15, 2017

My Name is NOT Bambino!


Midnight 
here

When you're a hungry street orphan, you grab the first sucker, 

ah, big-hearted human that will take you in.


How was I to know Food Guy's apartment was haunted?

First, it was the ghost of Mark Twain lurking in my human's kitchen, looking for some whiskey!

I tried hiding behind Thor, but the big goof wouldn't budge from the poster!


Old Twain kept calling me "Bambino" no matter how many times 

I told him my name was Midnight!

But he let me ride his shoulder which was fun until he whisked me away 

to visit the ghost of some long-faced human, Loves Drafts, or something.





 I kind of liked some of the things he said to me:

"The cat charms you into playing for its benefit when it wishes to be amused;

 making you rush about the room with a paper on a string when it feels like exercise, 

but refusing all your attempts to make it play when it is not in the humour.

That is personality and individuality and self-respect -- 

the calm mastery of a being whose life is its own and not yours."

Then, he had to go and ruin it by saying stuff like:

 “It is good to be a cynic — it is better to be a contented cat — and it is best not to exist at all.” 


 Luckily. the ghost of Hemingway rescued me for Mark Twain had wandered off.  Whew!

He was fun and appreciated me:

"A cat has absolute emotional honesty.  

Human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not."

But a guy can get tired of being fed corn cobs,

 so I hitched a ride with the ghost of Charles Dickens who took me back to Food Guy's apartment.

He chucked me under the chin, saying,

“What greater gift than the love of a cat?”


But he sure weirded me out when he told me how grieved he was by the death of his cat, Bob, 

that he had the poor guy’s paw stuffed and mounted to an ivory letter opener. 

He had the opener engraved saying, 

“C.D., In memory of Bob, 1862” so he could have a constant reminder of his old friend. 

The ghost of Raymond Chandler showed up just then, looking for Food Guy.  

Dickens seemed to think old Chandler was a hack writer and took off. 

But Pipe Guy listened to me as we discussed the state of the world, 

the foolishness of humans, the prevalence of sorry tasting tuna, 

and my difficulty in getting doors opened at the right time 

and meals served at more frequent intervals. 

I have got Food Guy up to five times a day, but there is still room for improvement.


Hey, you out there!

Have you the good taste 
to like felines?  

I sure hope so,

or 
I may have to send 
the ghost of Love Drafts 
to your house.  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

DOG WICK


You only thought you had watched the real John Wick movie ...

Here is the real deal:


Saturday, September 9, 2017

GHOST IN THE NIGHT_prelude to Ghost of a Chance




Before GHOST OF A CHANCE ...
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1534981861/



there was a

Ghost in the night.

It was that moment between waking and dream. I was sitting on my apartment terrace. 


The night spoke to me in its velvet silence.

Owl happily was not speaking my name. 


He perched on the cypress branch opposite me, studying me as I was admiring him.

Brother raccoon scurried in the bushes below, carrying some prize in his front right paw.

My ghost cat, Gypsy, twitched her tail on the window sill, 


the mysteries of the ages whispering in her half-closed, green eyes.

My own eyes were heavy. Too many miles driven. Too few hours slept.

I put the period to the last sentence of my blog post about Marlene Dietrich with the troops in the front lines during WWII:

**
One afternoon after VE Day, she was walking through a little French village. 


All around her was rubble, and she couldn't understand why -- 

all the buildings along the street were still standing with curtains blowing frilly and snapping clean-crisp in their windows.

Then, she looked through one of the windows to see that there was nothing behind it. 


The fronts of the buildings were still standing, but everything behind them had been destroyed. 

There wasn't a single living person past the false fronts of those caricature buildings.

Only one lone doll lay forlorn in the rubbled middle of nothing.

With her face cupped in trembling hands, she stood in front of that window, weeping silently, refusing to be comforted ...

"... for there is no comfort for the dead," she whispered.


***
Beside me a husky voice intoned, "Keine Komfort für die Toten."

I went cold and still, sliding my eyes as far to the right as they could go without moving my head. 


My mouth became salt.

Marlene Dietrich.

In a frilly black night wrap and not much else.

She was perched over the top of a wavering, insubstantial leather chair like a cougar ready to strike.

"You write so beautifully of me. Why?"

"Y-You were brave, selfless -- entertaining the troops on the front lines with a death sentence from Hitler on your head."

I cleared my fear-thick throat. "People have forgotten that."

She reached out and stroked my cheek with chill fingers of mist.

"It is not important for the world to remember me -- only that I did not forget myself when I was needed."

"And words like that are why I write of you."

Marlene fluffed my hair with ghost fingers. It tickled.

"Do you know what they call you in the ShadowLands, liebling?"

"N-No."

"Sänger von Träumen -- DreamSinger."

"I - I don't understand."

Her ice blue eyes hollowed. "One day you will."

In ghost whispers, she murmured, "Death and love."

"What?"

"I thought I knew them, liebchen. I was so sure. I died. Then, I saw life with new eyes."

She leaned forward, her eyes suddenly sparkling. "See you in your dreams, liebling."

And like a cloud robbing me of sunlight, Marlene was gone. I was alone. Well, not quite.

Gypsy was in my lap, yawning. It takes a lot to shake up a ghost cat.
***
Take a $6.99 cent chance on GHOST OF A CHANCE  for Marlene, will you?



Friday, September 8, 2017

WILLIAM FAULKNER'S SECRET TO WRITING SUCCESS


At Meilori's, 

that haunted jazz club which is never too far from where dreams have died, 

I was playing chess with the ghost of William Faulkner.

The fog gathered near.  

The jazz murmured low in the shadows.  

The torches beckoned to all who wander lost in the dark of their soul.


I must have spoken that thought aloud, 

for Faulkner said low, "How do you know they are so lost?"

I smiled sadly, "On such a night, if they could be home, they'd already be there." 

He returned my smile.  "Just so.  Just so."

I asked, "Why weren't you at the poker game last night?"

Faulkner snorted, "Hemingway gets too morose about November's writing contest."

"So you approve of NaNo?"

"Goodness, no!  It is a horrid waste of 30 precious days that will never come again.  

The dead know all too well how fleeting life can be."


I nodded, "Mark Twain says each day is a coin we can spend any way we wish, but ...."

Faulkner finished with me, " ... you can only spend it once."

He sighed, 

"But have those contest participants bought anything of lasting value with those 30 coins?"

"So you agree with Hemingway?"


"No.  He lived a full life and should know Mankind has always looked for the secret elixir, the hidden keys, the lost path to success."

Faulkner smiled bitterly. 

 "Not that they exist, mind you, but we want them to.  We live in denial of the simple fact 

that the true path to success, whether in writing or in any other endeavor, 

is paved with courage, imagination, and persistence."



He blew pipe smoke into the shadows. "And it is a lonely road."

I sighed, "For me it has been."

Faulkner murmured,

 "So it is understandable that so many writers think they have found the key to becoming writers 

in this joint 'group hug' as Hemingway so colorfully and callously calls this contest."

He frowned as I moved my knight in a move he had not foreseen. 

 "But the truth is as elusive as smoke in the night.  Sometimes you can smell it in the air, but it slips through your fingers."



Faulkner took my knight in a move that this time I hadn't seen coming and smiled,

 "But I can tell you and your electronic friends the simple secret to writing success."

"It's not nice to tease a struggling writer."

"Oh, I am quite sincere.  The simple secret is this:

Write of an old thing in a new way."

In response to my frown, Faulkner said, 


"The oldest lodestone to literature is the human heart in conflict with itself.  

From Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams that lodestone has been the compass that led the way to riveting stories."

He tapped the chessboard with the stem of his pipe. 

"Only that is worth writing about, worth the agony, and the sweat of wresting something from nothing."


Faulkner leaned forward, stabbing my chest with the pipe stem.

"Leave no room in your writing for anything but the old truths of the heart,

 the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed - 

 love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.

 

Until you do so, you labor under a curse.

You write not of love but of lust,

of defeats in which no one loses anything of value,

of victories without hope and,

worst of all, without pity or compassion. 


Your griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars.

You write not of the heart but of the sex glands
."


He wrinkled his nose as if to sneeze.  

"When I was in Hollywood, Samuel Goldwyn would point out the latest hit to me and my fellow script writers

and say, "I want the same thing ... only different."

I smiled, 

"No stories of young boys or girls fated to save the world, no wallflower girl courted by supernatural heart-throbs, no ...."

Faulkner said, 

"Dare to save your character's world in a way not seen before and with imagination not cookie-cutter formulas.'

I moved my last knight, positioning it to take his King.  "Checkmate."

He tipped over his King and arched an eyebrow, "Only a callow soul takes advantage of the dead."

The ghost of Mark Twain pulled up a seat and crowed, "Why I do that all the time!"

Faulkner snorted, "I rest my case."