The Ketchup Bottle Sage

Caution: ketchup has kick!

~ Heinz advertising slogan


A new but cherished friend told me last week that I could still be a Writer Emeritus while suggesting that my work is at least as interesting as the label on the back of a ketchup bottle, and I laughed until I cried!  I have to tell you, that is the coolest thing I’ve been called in a long time . . .  Since Blimprider, in fact!  And so true.  Allow me to indulge you in an ancient Oriental morality fable that I just made up.

Some time ago, when monkeys formed a fair portion of a certain region’s diet, every village had its hunters, and in one particular village, one hunter outdid all the others even though he used neither net, nor spear, nor bow.  He was famous in all the villages in the region, and no one could figure out how he did it until, from his death bed, he divulged his secret.

In many of the trees near the village, he had strapped down heavy urns, and into these he placed baseball-size fruits particularly attractive to monkeys.  A monkey would reach into the narrow-necked urn, grasp the fruit, and with his hand wrapped around it, found it too wide to pull out.  The monkeys would never relinquish their hold on the fruit, though the trees around were laden with food for them, and they held on to that which they didn’t need and couldn’t use until the hunter came for them.

Well, not this monkey!  I’m letting go of this fruit that is doing me no good whatsoever, and getting on with my retirement.  It’s so relaxing not to get up every morning and stick my nose in the notebook and try to create.  It’s almost like I don’t have a job!  I also find that I’m sleeping longer, and I have fewer headaches; a guy could get used to this.  Of course, I’ve gotten used to all the wonderful friends I’ve made on-line, too, and I’ll continue to service this blog for as long as you continue to hang out and converse, but the blog itself is my writing now.  I promise I’ll try to make it interesting.  Who knows, hang around here long enough, and you may even learn something!  And don’t forget to read the latest installment of Chameleon on its tab above; I’d love to hear what you think.

The astute among you will have noticed that Stingaree has returned to the tab line above while The Darklighters has disappeared.  Stingaree is a steampunk crime drama that I had abandoned, having just passed the halfway point of the narrative.  I reopened it at the behest of photoblogger and good friend Richard Schulte, who describes it as an “interesting read.”  All right, one thing I’ve learned on the journey is never to disappoint a fan, so all of it will be transcribed to the page over the next week or so.  That will slow down Chameleon, but they’ll both get done.  Case in point, Chapter Seven posted Friday; it’s at the halfway point and moving nicely.  And should there be enough comments of an encouraging nature, I may be persuaded to finish Stingaree; that would almost certainly be my farewell opus.  The Darklighters, on the other hand, is at this point vanishingly unlikely to be continued, and I see no sense in teasing readers with a story that is part of a series that will probably never be picked up again.  That’s where it stands as of today; by next week, things will probably be completely different, but I hope not.  Fingers remain crossed . . .

Interesting Books . . .

Incite Insight

Incite Insight by Robert New.  Incite Insight is a speculative crime thriller.  Newly promoted ‘Country Boy’ Detective Brad Thomas is put on the case after a number of mysterious deaths – the victims’ brains appear to have melted.  Brad and Detective Sally Summers discover that the victims are linked by a strange tattoo that reveals membership of a secret organization.  Brad uncovers an intelligence raising program created by the first person to die from what the media dub the “Melting Brain.”  Believing that this program is the key to solving the deaths, Brad works his way through its levels and finds his own thinking being transformed.  Soon, he is invited to join the secret organization that has been spreading the program – The Network of Freethinkers.  He finds himself becoming involved in their plan to alter the way the world is run and create what they call the age of the Philosopher King.  Will he help change the world?  99¢ on Kindle (reg. $3.99).


Saving the Dragons by Catriona MacRury.  Dragons are dangerous but that does not mean they need to be hunted to extinction.  To save the dragons, 18 year old Tharill and his younger brother Rory will find themselves thrown into the middle of a scheme of deception and misdirection.  On their journey to uncover the truth they will find allies in unlikely places, build friendships bound to last a lifetime, test their own family bonds and meet a feisty, strong willed young lady like none they have ever encountered before.  This is a fun adventure story filled with unexpected twists and turns.  It is a great read for young adults and those that are young at heart, looking for an unusual take on the lives of dragons and the people that interact with them.  99¢ on Kindle.


Guardian by Taylor Ash.  The terrorist cell was hiding from the F.B.I.  But it’s high school freshman Madison Jennings they should have been worried about.  Madison is America’s most-well known survivor of one of the country’s worst terrorist attacks.  After six years in hiding, her parents send her to a public high school where she’s supposed to conceal her past, be normal, and keep a low profile.  But on the first day of school, she jumps into a fight to protect a student from a gang of bullies.  A series of ill-advised right hooks to their faces threatens to expose who she is to those who still want her dead.  But when Madison discovers a hidden pattern tied to the abductions of young women in the city, thoughts of her own safety are forgotten.  Now, she must turn enemies into allies to discover the truth before the missing turn into the murdered.  Young adult.  $3.99 on Kindle.


A Taker of Morrows by Stephen Paul Sayers.  R.G. Granville has his whole life in front of him . . . but only twenty-four hours to live it.  Beyond life’s boundaries, an enduring battle between good and evil determines the fate of earthly souls.  Here, ‘caretakers’ guard and protect against the evil and vengeful ‘jumpers’ who slip back and forth between worlds to prey upon the living.  For one man, news of his impending demise sets off a deadly chain of events fueled by a jumper’s burning vengeance.  Now he’s in a race against time to stop an unrelenting evil unleashed upon the earth.  And if he’s to protect his family, and the world, he must breach the tenuous boundary between life and death to confront a killer—and a shocking secret from his long-buried past.  99¢ on Kindle.


The 18th Shadow by Jon Lee Grafton.  The Graphene Prairie – Kansas – 2082.  The North American Union comprises all of Mexico, Canada and the antique United States.  93% of citizens live with a nano computer consentually embedded in their skull.  Alcohol is banned, cannabis is mainstream.  Holograms fill our eyes, drones float above the city hovstreets and the Office of the Architect watches everything and everyone.  Everyone, that is, except for a particular group of shiners, hand-picked outlaws protected by canine war cyborgs and a charismatic and mysterious telepath named Daxane Julius Abner.  Mr. Abner has a purpose.  That purpose is freedom.  He and his shiners make America’s black market vodka.  And they are the only heroes left.  Three-book set, free on Kindle (reg. 99¢).


The Gorgon Bride by Galen Surlak-Ramsey.  The gods are funny.  Except when you piss them off.  Then they suck.  They really, really suck.  Alexander Weiss discovers this tidbit when he inadvertently insults Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, and she casts him away on a forgotten isle filled with statues.  Being marooned is bad enough, but the fact that the island is also the home of Euryale, elder sister to Medusa, makes the situation a touch worse.  The only thing keeping Alex from being petrified is the fact that Euryale has taken a liking to the blundering mortal.  For now.  What follows next is a wild, adventurous tale filled with heroes, gods, monsters, love, and war that is nothing short of legendary.  $5.99 on Kindle.


World War Forever by Harold Bloemer.  In this action-packed sequel to the dystopic thriller Highway To Armageddon, teen bounty hunters Lance, Boom Boom, and Krystal continue their blood-drenched, suicidal mission to prevent all-out nuclear war between the United States of the Americas and the Republic of China.  In order to inhibit this nightmare scenario, the trio must hunt down and assassinate the most powerful and dangerous woman to have ever walked the face of the Earth, United States President Angela Klaxton.  In essence, in order to achieve world peace, the president must die.  But things become much more confusing and chaotic the deeper down the proverbial rabbit hole the trio travel.  As Boom Boom, Lance, and Krystal traverse the world looking for their elusive target, they quickly realize China has no intention of backing down from a pending invasion, even if they do manage to take Klaxton out (which is no sure thing).  That means the key to warding off nuclear Armageddon may entail joining forces with their most despised enemy in order to thwart a much more treacherous foe.  The question is, are Lance, Krystal, and Boom Boom willing to work with Klaxton in order to save the lives of billions?  For Boom Boom, at least, that may be a bridge too far.  As she’s said several times before, perhaps the world does deserve to burn.  Free on Kindle until Wednesday (reg 99¢).

Addle-Plots of the Eternal Twilight by William Jackson is a clockpunk world with a rococopunk core.  This is the universe of Zaer.  Long ago, the universe ended.  In its place came a finite one, held inside a translucent polyhedral force.  At the center is a planet of life, of gigantic trees, and one royal line that has ruled in ostentatious splendor.  But high above, where the weird magnetic pole draws in asteroids and has formed a turtle-like shell, others live . . . others not so fortunate.  Free on Wattpad.

Interesting Reads . . .

Kelton Reid of Copyblogger offers his insights on 5 Things Only Serious Writers Do.  Yes, we’ve heard all the bullet points before, but his discussions and explanations of them are crisp and insightful, and I’d be willing to bet that you’ll find something new there no matter how long you’ve been at it.

Speaking of insights, C.W. Hawes, a prolific writer in multiple genres who is featured here often, takes on the reasons for writing in a deep and introspective article that challenges many of the platitudes that have been offered by successful writers as advice for those of us who haven’t yet made it, and goes so far as to disagree with Stephen King himself.

Laurie Bell takes to her blog, Rambles, writing and amusing musings, to share her method of one-page outlining.  Plotter or pantser, we’ve all had that great idea strike out of nowhere at the most inopportune time, only to have it evaporate by the time we can get to our writing sanctuary.  By keeping a pocket notebook and an understanding of Laurie’s method with you at all times, that disaster need never happen again.  Check it out today!

David Lee Summers, the book-writing astronomer, brought a bundle of good news this past week.  Besides announcing a promotion, a great bit of personal news, he has posted some spectacular photos taken through his personal 8″ telescope.  To top off a banner week, his employer, the Kitt Peak National Observatory, now carries his novel Solar Sea plus two of his anthologies in the visitor center.  Read all about it on his web journal.

Stephanie Kato, another name that gets dropped here a lot, operates a blog called Looking Toward the Future, and this week she has posted an informative interview with Mystery and crime writer Christopher J. Lynch.  They discuss indie vs. traditional publishing, his iconic character, the sinister One-Eyed Jack, climbing mountains both literal and figurative, and the life and times of Eddie Haskell.  A very entertaining read, I must say.

And finally, I’m not a real big fan of post-apocalyptic literature (it’s seeming more and more like Current Events!), but if you’re a writer in the field, or have been thinking about trying your hand, an article from Bloomberg arrived more or less randomly on my newsfeed that could be a gold mine of ideas for anyone contemplating a journey into the not-too-distant future.  Have a read if there isn’t enough depression in your life already!

Pensacon 2019, Feb 22-24, 2019


Pensacon, Pensacola, Florida’s comic convention, will be in full swing, as you can see, in the latter part of next February.  Writers and artists wishing to exhibit need to submit their applications soon, and I’m here to provide the links.

Artists apply here.                              Writers apply here.

Of course, you never have to wait for me to track down interesting reads for you; the sidebar is full of them.  Anytime you want to have your funny bone tickled or your mind challenged, just pick one at random and dive it.  These all come with the Blimprider Seal of Approval!

And that’s 30 for today.  Join me next Sunday, by which time I’ll have had a week to come up with something interesting; who knows, I might even manage it!

6 thoughts on “The Ketchup Bottle Sage

  1. I think you’re twisting my words just a tiny bit: I don’t think I compare your writing to that on a catsup bottle, but just mentioned I am the kind of reader who sees black marks before her, and must read.

    You sound ambivalent about the writing. I suppose every writer comes to that point: is there another book in there? I think even GRRM wonders if he’s at that point. It’s SUCH a lot of work to write.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I am twisting your words a lot, and having a great deal of fun in the process. I seriously enjoyed that; it isn’t every day that someone delivers to you a new nickname! Another book? I am going to try to finish Stingaree, though I don’t have great hope. I’ve never been one to equate discipline with creativity. Sixty years is a long time to try to be creative every day, and it isn’t at all difficult to get used to laying out in front of the Xbox . . .

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For me it’s not discipline; it’s the thing that lets me be disabled and not severely depressed.

        Twist away – and realize that the start you gave me achieved your purpose: starting conversations. I have zero problems with that, being of a somewhat talkative nature myself, and having to visit many blogs to leave my daily droppings, some of which may fertilize the future.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I merely suggest that when you have an onerous chore that you don’t want to do, as Stingaree is for me, and you put on your big girl panties and deal with it anyway, that is practically the textbook definition of discipline, and when it lies in the creative field, well, just wanting to get something over with is hardly the environment that engenders your best work.

        And you can leave your droppings here anytime! ;~)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Skipper, for plugging my weird story!
    In other news, I find your continual exploits in the mad world of writing fascinating, in part because I suck at it (I seem lately o be able to post what inspires me on Instagram, but that’s a s far as it goes). I am psyched Stingaree is back on the menu, and I don’t care how long it takes to be completed. Also, Chameleon is a very good piece. You should be proud, whether writing or not.


    1. Hey, Lieutenant. Welcome back! Plugging weird stories is a specialty of mine.

      As to these “exploits,” I’m not sure what you’re referring to, but if it’s Chameleon, that’s pretty old stuff. Let me take a breath and organize my thoughts.

      This slump you’re in doesn’t mean you suck, and you shouldn’t say things like that; your subconscious mind has no sense of irony or sarcasm, and if you convince it that you suck, you will. As to slumps, I’ve been in a bunch of them, and they’ve all passed except this last one. It may too, but not right away. I am fortunate to have a backlog of old, quality material to post while I wait. When Chameleon is done, I’m going to start putting up my crime story, Broken English. As I do the household chores that have to be done, dishes, watering, and so forth, I’m forcing myself to think about the conclusion of Stingaree. Forcing is not creativity, but it’s all I’ve got right now, and I have high hopes of finishing it. If, if I can do that, maybe I’ll be ready to start working on something else. I don’t know what it will be, but I’m tired of my old stuff, and I’m thinking it will be something completely different from what I’ve done before, maybe along the line of Possession of Blood, but I really have no idea at this point. Bear with me; I’ll keep the channels open right here.


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