Other Voices [formerly The Edge of the Map] No. 10

Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.”

~ Sue Monk Kidd

UPDATE:  I said last week in my Liberation Post (some might prefer to call it the Doomsday Post) that I still had hopes of writing horror novellas for a certain publisher.  I’ve had no word yet, and they did say that it could take until the New Year’s, but in an effort to be ready should the call come, I’ve been preparing the second story in the proposed series, and teaching myself the discipline of sitting down to work on them; later in the day seems to work better for me, mid afternoon especially.  I’ve gotten a couple of good sessions in during the past week, and have four stories in development.  Time will tell . . .

I had a series of conversations with a friend in last week’s comment section, who suggested that I should either quit, or quit talking about it.  I agree in principle, but as I have always tried to be more than simply disembodied text to people who take the time to give me their attention, I like to keep you up to date with what’s going on in my writing life; the sad fact is that I barely know myself.  But sparked by that conversation, I think I have come closer to nailing it down.

I was raised by extended family members, all older females, who had no patience for small boys nor the things they get up to.  Child psychology and teaching in general in the 1950s weren’t what they are today; if you didn’t excel, you were just a rotten kid who was going to grow up to be a ditch-digger or a career criminal.  I think now that I started writing in order to prove myself to the caregivers and educators who all agreed that I was never going to amount to anything.  Of course they were all long-dead before I ever published, but if they’re watching from some form of afterlife, they know among other things that I have four books on Amazon, and more stories and novels that I’m giving away for free just because I can.  But the proving is done, and there is no longer that “prod” goading me to excel anymore.  I need another one, and that’s why I’m waiting on, and working toward that possible book deal.  That would be the new prod at the next level, and I would dearly love to move on to that.  I am preparing plots and stories while I wait so I’ll be ready, but if the offer doesn’t come through, then I’m going to have to reassess my whole writing situation.  So keep an eye on this space; you’ll know when I do.

Turning to the primary purpose of this site, delivering items created by writers and bloggers laboring far beyond the edges of the map where the major publishers and studios won’t be seen for another decade, I present for your approval the following efforts.  Note that with Halloween looming, I’ve gone heavy on the horror this week; I trust such theme-based selections will meet with this audience’s approval:

~ Books ~


Indie Writers Review #11, P.J. Blakey-Novis, editor.  Indie Writers Review is a monthly magazine showcasing the best of the independent writers scene.  This Halloween special includes short stories, poetry, horror reviews, and author interviews, as well as a chance to win three books.  £1.99 on Kindle.


1:05 AM by C.M. Moore.  Yearning for a normal life, assassin Karmen-Marie has had enough — enough of surviving contracted hits, and enough of the post-apocalyptic world.  Forced to take one last job, Karma sets out across the frozen landscape of Earth.  Rea MacBain’s job is to ensure the safety of Earth’s precious few water purification plants.  He believes his abusive past must stay buried under the snow that encases his domain.  A single bullet will send Karma and Rea in a direction they’d never expected.  Ice-cold assassin’s blood drives the woman sent to kill him, yet it ignites the fire which thaws Rea’s heart.  Free on Kindle [reg. $2.99]


Breath Thief by Steve Hill.  A forgotten IRA arms cache.  A new generation of terrorists.  Only clairvoyant Annie Taylor can stop them.  If only they weren’t stealing her breath.  Thinking she’s entering a competition to win a dream holiday Annie uncovers a terrible secret and her world is shattered as her children become entangled in a terrorist conspiracy.  As a wave of violence explodes across Britain, victims of long forgotten crimes are seeking retribution and old comrades in arms must once more choose sides.  When the Breath Thief steals Annie’s gift, time is running out and to save her children Annie must find the power to reshape the future.  Free on Kindle [reg. $2.99].


19 Gates of Hell, a horror anthology.  From the darkest places imaginable, both outside and inside the mind, comes 19 tales that will drag you into places you never dreamed of seeing, not even in your worst nightmares.  Come along as these tales open up 19 gates into hell and experience the supernatural, the darkness of night, and the unimaginable like never before.  Authors such as Byron Craft, Matthew V. Brockmeyer, Rich Restucci and many more have come together to show you in . . . and they won’t let you leave until you’re crying out for mercy, begging to live to see one last sunset.  What are you waiting for?  The gates are opening.  $3.99 on Kindle.


The Bastard Boys of Montezuma by Jaromy Henry.  Cash Holliday and Marshall Earp are the illegitimate sons of the most notorious gunslingers in the West.  Despite a lingering bad economy in 1896, the two operate a flourishing detective agency, largely thanks to selective partnerships.  When Sheriff Kristof Varga hands Marshall a bounty for the infamous Cactus Kid, they realize their business could change overnight.  But Cash receives a letter stating some of his late father’s possessions are in Tombstone and he becomes interested in a different pursuit.  Faced with lying to his best friend, crazy superstitions, a girl with a mysterious past, and a Pinkerton agent who is hot on their trail, Cash must decide if he’s willing to risk their lives for the secrets of a father he never knew.  $4.99 on Kindle.


Fall by Jeff Thompson.  Earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis . . .  They happen all the time, and when they do, people wonder:  What about the Big One?  Truth is, no one alive has ever seen a real Big One – not since Toba erupted 75,000 years ago and created a bottleneck in human evolution.  Then there’s the biggest of them all:  Yellowstone, where the Monster Under the Ground has been biding its time for 640,000 years.  What if it erupted tomorrow?  How would humanity and human society react?  How would they survive?  Pressure is that story, and Fall is just the beginning.  $3.99 on Kindle.


The Cost of Living by Marla L. Anderson.  A life for a life.  No one need die until someone new is born.  Then you’ve no choice.  This novella will take the reader to a dystopian future of a world of adults where birthmothers are a privileged class and every child is a celebrity.  Death has been conquered, but overcrowding has led to government enforced zero population growth.  When Janice becomes pregnant without government authorization, she must find a life donor or forfeit her own.  For every child born, someone must die.  The math is simple, but the politics behind it are anything but.  Janice soon finds herself diving into a deep conspiracy.  For those who love The Handmaid’s Tale, here is another take on what the future may hold.  $2.99 on Kindle.


The S.T.A.R.S Project by Lee Andrew Taylor.  The S.T.A.R.S Project was established by the government to increase the survival of the slowly decreasing rat population in the town of Aaronsville.  After a virus killed off a vast majority of rats, rats that humans need to help heal the sick, the local authority set up a lab in the university to help breed the rats, but after three years of experiments by the professor, the rats want out.  Tonight they will flee the lab.  Flee to take revenge on the humans who thought it was best to cage them.  Tonight, the town of Aaronsville will awaken once again with the scurrying rodents.  But this time the outcome will be different.  $3.99 on Kindle.


Once Upon a Rebel Fairytale is one of those huge Amazon collections that are quite simply the best bang-for-the-buck available to the reader today.  Cinderella has a dark secret.  The Little Mermaid loses more than her voice.  And Little Red Riding Hood isn’t so little anymore.  Join our heroes and heroines as they travel through the underworld to Mars, rescue damsels in distress, and battle deadly foes in Once Upon a Rebel Fairytale, a limited edition collection of beloved stories from today’s bestselling authors.  Inside these pages, you’ll find 25 action-packed fairytale retellings that rebel against tradition, from dark and gritty paranormal romances to sexy and thrilling supernatural fantasies.  The princesses, queens, kings, and villains of your childhood return in these adrenaline-spiking spins on your favorite bedtime tales.  But reader beware: these fairytales are not for the faint of heart.  99¢ on Kindle.


Boston Metaphysical Society by Madeleine Holly-Rosing.  Politics and power.  Demons and spirits.  When ex-Pinkerton detective Samuel Hunter married Elizabeth Weldsmore, the heir to one of Boston’s Great Houses, he knew his life would change forever, but he never expected the return of Elizabeth’s psychic abilities.  Not only do they have to keep it a secret, but Elizabeth must learn quickly how to master them.  For a psychic in a Great House is a political liability which her father, Jonathan Weldsmore, knows only too well.  As the Great Houses jockey for power, the three of them must contend with treachery, subterfuge, and potentially a new demonic threat, in this political and supernatural thriller set in an alternate-history Boston of 1890.  This novel is a prequel to the original graphic novel series, Boston Metaphysical Society.  $4.99 on Kindle.


The Last Rite by Chad Robert Morgan.  The Last Rite was never meant to be found.  Ten years ago, the love of Daniel’s life disappeared.  Then Daniel learns that not only did she commit suicide, but she left behind a daughter he never knew he had.  Taking his estranged daughter home, Daniel gets detoured to the small logging town of Shellington Heights, a town that is no longer on any map and a population that is no longer human.  Daniel and his daughter find themselves pawns in a supernatural war, with the apocalypse hinging on one question – how far will a father go to save a daughter he’s never known?  99¢ on Kindle tomorrow through Halloween [reg $4.99]

~ Blogs ~

In preparation for Halloween, Elves Choice has been printing easy recipes for spooky treats.  As of this writing, recipes for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Rice Krispie Witch’s hats, Spiced Candy Corn Crispies, Mac-O-Lantern and Cheese Bowls, and my favorite, Spider Oreo Pops.  There may well be more by the time this goes to press, so if you have kiddies in your life or at your door, this is well worth looking into!

Nerd Lunch is also celebrating Halloween in their own inimitable style.  Jeeg and Pax are joined by Jay of The Sexy Armpit, and Michael May for the 2018 Halloween episode.  In this episode they select 16 movie monsters, put them in tournament brackets, and debate until they get a winner.  And there are some good discussions in this one.  Download the podcast and find out for yourself!

MovieBabble and Irevuo are prolific sites that publish multiple times each day.  MovieBabble, as the name suggests, looks at films through the lens of reviews, top-ten lists, and philosophical discussions.  Irevuo takes a broader view of the arts in general, books, painting, music, and some films as well.  Both have an intellectual tone, and cater to the serious connoisseur, so if that’s you, join the discussion at either of these fine sites.

I haven’t pushed Richie Billing for a while, and it’s high time I corrected that oversight.  Mr. Billing’s self-titled blog is a treasure trove of wonderful advice for the aspiring fictioneer, and his last couple of posts have concerned themselves with some great advice on World Building.  Very much worth checking out.

This one is a little off my regular path, but it is powerful, and needs to be shared with anyone who can be convinced to read it.  Angie K. Elliston and her husband of 20+ years have adopted 13 children of all ages and backgrounds, and writes at great length about the experience at her self-titled blog.  Incredible reading, and definitely worth a few moments of your time.

My drone-flying friend Eva Newermann has chosen to share the first chapter of Fear is in the Air, her sci-fi thriller.  I personally think that this is a wise decision on her part, as this is a grabber of an opening concerning a flight attendant’s dark little pastime.  Having been a flight attendant herself, Eva brings an authenticity to the page that stands out in the writing, though we can only hope that personal experience doesn’t extend to what the girl is doing in this passage!

Sarah Zama, who goes by the handle of JazzFeathers, is a Roaring Twenties enthusiast with a dieselpunk angle.  This week on her blog, The Old Shelter, she explains in depth her process for writing to a themed anthology.  A very useful post for anyone thinking about participating in that sort of event.

A couple of weeks back I promoted a unique blog collection called Inmate Blogger.  Monday, the operator posted the method for submissions, so if you know someone who is incarcerated who might like to contribute material to the site, be sure to check this out.

Sandy at Aging Disgracefully is a Newfoundlander who is prepping for another brutal northern latitudes winter.  Today she writes of strong broths, multicolored hair, autumn walks, and embracing your inner weird.  Fun reading on a regular basis.

Writers Helping Writers, a wonderful site that I promote frequently, has a post up for novelists, which I’m sure describes at least some of my readers, talking about the often overlooked benefits that writing flash fiction can bring to those novelists.  Check this out for a real and serious eye-opening.

I’m long overdue to mention Daimary John’s Pixel Edit again.  His whole blog is a collection of tutorials on how to use PicsArt, and it is a wonderful free course for anyone who wants or needs to become proficient at that particular program.  This week’s lesson is on creating a logo, and like all his presentations, it’s thorough and easy to follow.

And that’s 30 for this week.  See you next week with another roundup, and of course, breaking news will be posted when it breaks . . . if it breaks . . . who am I kidding?  See you Thursday!

The Edge of the Map – No. 9

Epiphany . . .

The time has come, I feel at last, to present the truth in all its ugly glory.  The truth is that for the past eight months I have been blogging like a writer in his prime, making plans for future projects, sharing them here, and sometimes discussing them with innocent readers who honestly believed they were seeing something being created.  In point of fact, with the exception of a single short story for an old friend’s anthology,  it has been well over a year since I have written a single word of original material, and I still don’t feel any indication that it’s about to come back.  All I have really “accomplished” over the last several months has been to transcribe the last of my years-old material to the website.  The final chapter of my crime drama, Broken English, went up on Tuesday, and with the exception of Possession of Blood, everything I have written that is worth reading is now available here.  Possession is the horror novella being considered by a publisher, and so must be kept under wraps; more on that in a moment.

Monday morning I had the aforementioned epiphany:  I have allowed writing to consume huge portions of my free time to no particular purpose, and I frankly don’t enjoy it much anymore.  What really brought it home for me was the fact that I was scheduling writing days on the calendar; remember my last post, where I said every three days?  So I was penciling in days to write when it occurred to me:  What else do I schedule on this calendar?  Odious chores that must be accomplished, trimming the hedge, scrubbing the kitchen floor, things of that nature that interfere with the enjoyment of my retirement . . .  Things like writing.

I kid you not, there is very little enjoyment left in it.  I get up dreading it every morning, prove to myself once again that I can’t do it, and wind up transcribing my old stuff and dreaming up blog posts to “hold my place” while I reconnect with my mojo.  While I was stressing over this, my wonderful daughter gave voice to my feelings in her own inimitable style.  She asked, “If you knew you would die tonight and this was your last day on earth, would you spend it writing?”  Apparently, sixty years is how long it took to get it out of my system.  On a possibly related note, NPR yesterday carried an article titled When ICU Delirium Leads to Symptoms of Dementia After Discharge.  In 2014, I was in intensive care for 35 days, including three weeks in a coma, and I had a terrible case of ICU Delirium.  One of the symptoms cited in the article is a lack of focus, and I have certainly suffered from that; maybe that’s an underlying reason.

In any case, this realization marks a sea change in my on-line presence.  I have completed transcribing everything I intend to share to the tabs above.  Finding and developing subjects for the Sunday blog posts is a drain on whatever creativity I have left, and as was pointed out to me in a comment, they are all things we all know anyway.  Accordingly, the Sunday blog will be discontinued immediately; I’ve never had that big, successful book, and really all you can learn from me is how to fail.  The Thursday post, this one, will continue every week, combining Sunday’s links to the work of my friends with Thursday’s book recommendations.  You may see me commenting on your blogs from time to time, and as I say, this one will continue until interest wanes.

Now, I’ve talked about hanging up my pen a number of times in the past, but I’m not going to make that announcement again.  Writing remains an itch for me that needs to be periodically scratched.  What I expect will change is the method of scratching it.  I have spoken of a prospective deal for a series of horror novellas.  I have had no word on that yet, but would love to undertake it, and if it comes through that will become my sole project, at least until I prove to everyone concerned that I can’t do it.  If I can’t, then perhaps an occasional submission to an anthology will fill that niche.  Developments in that area will be passed along as I hear of them, but in any case, this will be the primary gateway to my books and stories.  Read them if you like.  You can use the contact form here to get in touch, my Facebook page, Jack’s Hideout, or my email if I’ve shared it with you.  I wish all my writing friends the greatest of success, and will continue to support you in any way I can.  Now with all that out in the open, let’s get this pony dancing!


Patinewah and the Border Guard by J.L. Solomon.  Many strange things happen in the deserts along the Mexican border.  Without the building of a wall the drug cartels are free to move in and out of the United States with their poison.  That was until the Bear Clan appeared.  The clan, lead by Patinewah, a Cherokee Princess who died and was turned Vampire along with many others in her tribe during the “Trail of Tears’ in 1829.  Together with her brothers, Yarnell, Little Quail, a couple of unsuspecting border patrol agents named Hank and Hime’, and a 400 pound shapeshifter known as Lalo, they battle against the Yote, thousands of werewolf hybrid soldiers that are the enforcers for the drug cartels of South America and Mexico since the Spanish Invasion during the 16th century.  Their success and survival depends on one thing.  $2.99 on Kindle.


NanoMorphosis by Marla L. Anderson.  Reluctant celebrity Daniel Walker remains haunted by his past.  Making first contact with a merciless alien race left him orphaned and mentally scarred.  But with his planet in its death throes, he can finally use his tragedy and renown to fulfill his parents’ dream of finding a new Earth . . . at a very steep price.  Cadmon Dhyre still bears the disfiguring marks of a deadly plague.  An orphan himself, the nanotechnologist spends every waking hour developing the cure that could reinvent him.  Cadmon knows that wiping clean his horrifying appearance could win him the same prestige as Daniel, but only if he can obtain the resources he so desperately needs.  Only one man will get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure funding, and the loser’s desperation will lead him to become Earth’s biggest threat.  NanoMorphosis is a suspenseful work of science fiction.  If you like intricate world-building, near-future technology, and multi-layered characters, then you’ll love Marla L. Anderson’s compelling novel.  $2.99 on Kindle.


The Arx by Jay Allan Storey.  Ex-Homicide Detective Frank Langer is a broken man – but he’s all that stands in the way of a deadly conspiracy.  Since a mental breakdown put him on medical leave from the squad he was once hand-picked to lead, Langer spends his days drinking and chain-smoking, and his nights waking up screaming from a horrific recurring nightmare.  Until one day, by chance, he stumbles on a plot to kidnap children.  When he shows up at the squad with his story, his former colleagues pat him on the back and tell him to go home.  Undaunted, he’s driven by a single purpose – to expose the perpetrators and prove he’s not crazy.  Aided by Rebecca, the aunt of one of the missing children, he races to fit together the pieces of an intricate puzzle: a mute quadriplegic confined to a psychiatric hospital, a reclusive scientist hiding out on a remote island, a dead reporter’s ravings about a bloodthirsty cult in one of the wealthiest enclaves of Vancouver.  Stumbling through back alleys one heart-pounding step ahead of a mysterious force he doesn’t understand, Frank finally unravels a labyrinthine conspiracy more deadly than he ever imagined.  But can he stay alive long enough to find someone to buy his story?  Pick up this chilling mystery/thriller, because it’s got a plot twist that will knock your socks off.  $4.99 on Kindle.


A Printer’s Choice by W.L. Patenaude.  In January 2088, life in outer space is rocked with news of its first homicide.  The dead man—a young Dominican Priest—had secretly made his way “upside” and lived as a common laborer. H is intentions are a mystery and the killer’s identity and motive are questions that the best investigators of the new world cannot answer.  With public order threatened, the reputation of the ruling engineers at stake, and criminal elements seizing the opportunity to gain control, authorities seek help from Earth—itself recovering from decades of war and environmental crises.  With assistance from the Vatican, they recruit Father John Francis McClellan, a parish priest from Boston and a retired US Marine Corps expert in “high-defs”—the artificially intelligent three-dimensional printers that built the new world.  A Printer’s Choice tells a story of faith, the future, and the power of free will.  It explores questions about sentience, choice, and the necessity of choosing well.  Set in locations on Earth and in the orbits, the story takes place in a future extrapolated from today’s geopolitical and ecological turmoil.  In this epic debut novel, author W. L. Patenaude illuminates not just the struggles of our world, but also the promises and implications of building a better one, one choice at a time.  $7.99 on Kindle.


Fire Fury Freedom by Amanda Rose.  A dying planet on the verge of collapse.  Tormented pasts that haunt the present.  An ancient hidden magick.  The C.D.F.P. mega-corporation rules all, with unchecked power, and dark secrets.  The planet is dying, and they are the last hope to save it.  Mack, an ex-soldier of the C.D.F.P. military division, and his mercenaries, stand alone against the C.D.F.P. (AKA the Company), in the fight for humanity’s survival.  Left unchallenged, the company has ruled over the East Green Continent with an iron fist for decades.  The pollution they’ve caused has devastated the planet, destroying the ozone, and killing off plant and animal life.  Outside of domed cities the air is thin, and the sun scorches all; it’s a veritable wasteland.  In the past two decades the planet has reached entirely new levels of decay.  Extreme weather patterns, and massive quakes, ravage the land.  Time is running out.  Mack and his mercenary troupe set out on a quest to stop the C.D.F.P. once and for all, and the planet will test them to their limits.  But are they ready for the horrors they’ll uncover?  Can they alone stand up against the all-powerful C.D.F.P.?  $2.99 on Kindle.


Tony Price: Confidential by Richard Schwindt.  From one of the most innovative indie writers publishing today comes Tony Price: Confidential.  Included in this collection are:
Scarborough: Confidential – It’s November 1986 in Scarborough, Ontario, at the Silver Birch Housing Project.  Someone – or something – is eating social worker Tony Price’s clients.  Burnt out and vodka soaked, Tony has to acknowledge his innate ability to fight evil.  When sexy colleague Brenda Martin is kidnapped, Tony is forced to act.
Sioux Lookout: Confidential – Brenda suggests Tony take a vacation in Sioux Lookout in September, 1994 – just as an ancient evil arises in the boreal forest north of town.  Tony takes on the monster with help from a local hunter, a Shaman, and a comely cryptozoologist from Leipzig.  Check in on Tony Price for more horror, hilarity and serious drinking.
Kingston: Confidential – When Tony’s career ends abruptly at the hands of an armed dope fiend Brenda suggests they move to historic Kingston where their twins attend Queens University.  During the sweltering summer of 2016 Tony is at loose ends, but a killer appears in town; a sociopathic enigma who effortlessly evades capture.  Tony will have to take this on but this time he’s not alone – his daughter Ashley has inherited his ability to fight evil.  But is she ready?  Three books in one; $1.99 on Kindle.


Undead Worlds Anthology by Ryan Colley, Justin Robinson, Valerie Lioudis, Jessica Gomez, Joshua C. Chadd, R.L. Blalock, R.J. Spears, Grivante, L.C. Champlin, Arthur Mongelli, Dia Cole, Alathia Paris Morgan, Richard Restucci, Javan Bonds, and E.E. Isherwood.  The fall of civilization! Zombies! Apocalypse!  The Reanimated Writers are back with their flagship anthology, Undead Worlds!  This time, we have 15 brand new stories from today’s best in zombie fiction for you to dig your teeth into!  Check out these gruesome and action-packed stories inside Undead Worlds 2!  Grab your copy today!  99¢ on Kindle.


Carnival of Nightmares Anthology.  You lie awake at night fearing them.  Wondering when they will come for you.  Some nights they leave you in peace.  Other nights they dig their claws into your mind, taking you to places of sheer terror and unfathomable horror.  Whether it’s walking through the haunted house while its secrets threaten to keep you prisoner, or staring at the room of mirrors while the deformed faces of circus freaks smile at you with malicious intent—sooner or later you will realize that what you fear most is the evil which waits beneath the surface of your dreams.  So, tonight when you lay your head down to sleep, remember to say your prayers . . .  Because you might be mere seconds away from entering The Carnival of Nightmares. 99¢ on Kindle.  Blimprider’s note: I have the first volume of this set, Carnival of Fear.  If this lives up to half of what that book was, it’s going to be a ride and then some!  You can read my review of one of the stories here.

And that’s 30 for this week.  Remember, no more Sunday rambling.  Be here next Thursday to see where I (hopefully) will have decided to take this by then.  Until then, read well and write better!

A Book to Inspire a Book

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”



In my younger days I used to make semi-regular visits to thrift shops.  Some of those visits were necessitated by the demands of raising children; there are some things that a regular working family just can’t afford new.  But one of the things that I checked regularly was the book section.  People seem to have a way of suddenly deciding that they need to clear off a bookshelf.  Maybe it’s spring cleaning, maybe someone dies, but whatever the reason, boxes of books show up at thrift stores every day, and I’ve gotten some sweet deals by keeping my eyes open.  Take this beauty to the left:  First edition, published by Smith, Elder, & Co., 15 Waterloo Place, London in 1907.  First edition, naturally.  Set me back a whole dime at a little independent thrift store that had formerly been a mom & pop grocery.  I chose it to photograph because it was in arm’s reach of my desk.  And why is that?  Well, if those familiar with former aero-officer Clinton Monroe of Beyond the Rails fame could read this book, they’d recognize a great deal of his training, attitudes, and tactical expertise in these pages.  Ten cents.  Thrift store.  Books are magic.

But every book is a mystery before you open it, and that’s especially true of old books.  And not just the content.  Every individual used book has a history.  Maybe there is a cryptic inscription or notes in the margins written by a previous owner.  Perhaps it is stained with tears, or, is that blood?  What if you found a heavy, leather-bound tome on a thrift shop shelf?  What would it contain?

Now it gets interesting, yes?  If you are a writer of fiction, any style, any genre, this is your lucky day.  As a gift to you, I’m going to apply a defibrillator to your creative synapses, and you may feel free to take whatever results and run with it.

You hold that book, gravid with age and history, in your hands.  With a sense of awe and reverence, you open it.  What do you find?

A vanishingly rare first edition of a famous novel?
A book of poetry that seems to carry a much deeper meaning than it first appears?
A scientist’s notes for an invention the likes of which has never been seen?
A map to a ruin lost to history for a thousand years?
A formerly unknown tale penned by a famous author?
A diary containing the deepest secrets of an infamous villain?
The working sketchbook of a great artist?

Or is it something much more wonderful than the few possibilities I’ve listed here?  You see, writer, what little it takes to jump-start your creativity?  Case in point:  I reported Thursday on my birthday loot, including William F. Nolan’s book, How to Write Horror Fiction.  The book may be out of print, but for whatever reason, my daughter ordered a used copy.  Tucked between the pages when it arrived was a boarding pass for American Airlines Flight 9100 departing from Dallas/Fort Worth on July 9th, 2005, and a receipt from the Terminal C, Gate 22 snack bar.  Well, writers, is there a story there?


Now, go forth and conquer!

In Other News . . .

Last week I said I was going to start acting like a “professional” author, whatever the heck that means.  I said that every morning was going to be filled with writing projects from whenever I got up, sometimes as early as 6:00 AM, until noon, and that something tangible would be produced, be it manuscript pages, outline sections, character descriptions, something.  It is now one week later, and what I have learned, or rather had imposed on that grand vision, is that I’m not that guy.  I don’t get the unmitigated pleasure out of The Craft that professional authors apparently do.  There are just too many other activities that I enjoy as much as, or (horrors!) more than writing, that I very quickly began to feel that writing was a form of self-inflicted punishment designed to keep me from enjoying the other things I love to do.

Does that mean I’m going to stop writing?  Far from it!  It means that I need to find the balance.  I schedule things I need to do, housework, gardening, and such through notes on the calendar, and I’m now going to attempt to put Writing, as in a day devoted to The Craft, into the cycle, and devote several hours if not the whole day to the process.  I’ll have to see how that goes.  Does this mean that I view writing as a chore similar to weeding out the flower beds?  I think perhaps it does, but a chore in the sense of one that is fulfilling in the doing of it; some people like gardening and the sense of completion that a well-tended patch gives them.  I feel the same about writing, and I will figure this out.  This may not be the solution, but I think I’m getting close to it.

Other Voices . . .

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been crossing Facebook paths with a most interesting fellow named Bonsart Bokel who produces an in-character steampunk podcast.  In celebration of Halloween month, he’s inaugurating a new feature thereon called S.C.P., Secure, Contain, and Protect.  I’m not going to try to tell you what you should think of it, but if you’re a fan of the “horrors among us” genre, you should definitely take a look.

If you aren’t busy next weekend, MileHiCon makes its 50th Anniversary appearance in Denver, and they have invited all of their living previous guests of honor.


Here is your chance to see such luminaries as Mario Acevedo, Paolo Bacigalupi, Steven Brust, Liz Danforth, Chaz Kemp, Jane Lindskold, James Van Pelt, Robert E. Vardeman, Carrie Vaughn, Connie Willis, and David Lee Summers gathered in a single venue.  The convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel – Tech Center in Denver on October 19, 20, and 21. You can get all the details at MileHiCon.org. Who Else Books, Massoglia Books, and Wolfsinger Publishing are all scheduled to be in the dealer’s room.  Not to be missed if you’re in town.

Last week Phoebe Darqueling looked at the Snow White story that Disney used for their feature film.  This week she compares the Grimm Brothers version with the Disney, noting that the Grimms added some material to pad it out, thus making it the only tale that they actually wrote themselves (they were dedicated collectors).  This is a fascinating read for literary historians and writers who want to see how stories develop over their lifespans.

The MovieBabble site specializes in film reviews.  Several reviewers post multiple times a day there. As I write this, the movie at the top of the page is Apostle, though it will almost certainly have been superseded by a new review within the hour.  Virtually all of their reviews are both fully informative and spoiler-free, which says a lot about the skill of their writers.  They also delve into the concepts and philosophy of film making, and is very much worth regular visits for anyone into the contemporary film scene.

The Writers Helping Writers site is a go-to compendium of useful (by which I mean vital) information for authors.  The several members hereof get into the grit and detail that isn’t often covered in the Big Successful Writer Telling You How To Do It books.  They offer free knowledge on their page, and some of the best comes from their Occupational Thesaurus.  They cover every aspect of a profession from knowledge needed and people they have to work with to sources of friction and ways to twist the stereotype.  Their latest entry looks at the General Contractor.  In the past, they have looked at jobs from Parole Officer to Exotic Dancer.  Every serious author should have this bookmarked and on their feed so they see every new entry.  I can’t do it justice in this little blurb; just go and see it for yourself!

Sci-fi fans need to pay a similar level of attention to The Firewater Site.  Here the owner takes in-depth looks at science-fiction movies and television productions.  He’s currently in the midst of an episode-by-episode review of the original Star Trek, including a timeline of real-world events to put each episode in context, and still finds plenty of time to bring in variety, such as yesterday’s post about Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.  If sci-fi in films and television is close to your heart, consider following this site.  I just discovered it recently, and you can take it from me, it’s quite a ride!

Finally, Richard of Cool San Diego Sights usually posts a portfolio of spectacular photographs of some themed aspect of our beautiful city, but this time he’s outdone himself.  He has discovered an interactive crime scene attraction in downtown San Diego called Solve Who! that immerses the visitor in the life of a detective investigating a murder.  He has provided a thorough writeup and a number of pictures on his website, so Law & Order fans who find themselves in the San Diego area and would like to spend an hour in the shoes of their favorite detective would do well to include this on their itinerary.

And that’s 30 for this week.  I’ve already found some intriguing new titles for my Thursday book roundup, so join me then to work on your TBR lists.  Until then, read well, and write better!