Monthly Archives: November 2013

If books could talk, what would they say?

If you imagine yourself as a book as I have, perhaps a book would say things like the following:

“Some Americans are proud to trace their ancestors to the Mayflower. Big Deal, I trace mine back to papyrus.”

“Fact or fiction, I can’t tell the difference, I just am.”

“I am better than  a boyfriend, husband, girlfriend or wife, because when they are not there for you, I am.”

“You see me in a bookstore all bright, clean, spine straight, but you should see what happens to me in a warehouse. The horror!  Speaking of bookstores, I love having people pick me off the shelve, put there nose in my creases, and take a deep sniff. Intimacy between book and reader is good. And I don’t mind being on a bargain table as long as someone buys me and gives me a good home.”

“I am like a car. I can take you on whatever adventure you want to go, you just have to find the model that suits you.” 

“I hate it when they ban books. What did I do?

“For all you tree huggers who like to read, how do you reconcile saving tress with me? I came from a tree you know. When you save a tree, you kill a book.”

“Be careful how you flex me, a damaged spine causes me anguish and I have no medical. And be careful not to leave me where a dog and grab me with his teeth. That’s a pain you don’t want.”

“I don’t mind you taking me into the bathroom to read, just as long as you don’t leave me in there when you are done. It really is unpleasant.  But I do love it when you take me to bed, but make it worth my while and read a few chapters. Being read, then bookmarked and put down, open and close, open and close, open and close; readus interuptus kills the mood. And if you do read me in bed and like to snack, remember to watch those crumbs. I hate it when they get in my creases. Remember to floss me.”

These are things my books have actually said over time. What do your books say?


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People who never quit and succeeded long past retirement.

Some people have trouble walking in their 70’s but Min Bahadur climbed Mt. Everest when he was 76. I feel winded walking up a hill. Katharine Pelton set a record in the 200 meter butterfly, beating the old record by 20 seconds at 3:01:14. Not bad for 86. The record was set in the 85-89 bracket, so she was actually young for her bracket. Dr. Paul Spangler ran his 14th marathon at the age of 92. I ran around the block once and had to go to the emergency ward.

Some people retire and write novels, but writers never retire. P.G. Wodehouse published his 96th book at the age of 93. More amazing is Alice Pollock who published her first book, a memoir entitled “Portrait of My Victorian Youth,” when she was 102.

The fact that in my youth I bussed dishes at the Last Supper should in no way indicate I am old. By the way, the Apostles don’t tip.

I did not begin writing movie reviews for a newspaper until I was 50. I had wanted to be a writer since I was in college studying English Literature, but had no clue how to write, some say I still don’t, but everyone is a critic, and we writers should pay them no never mind. The point was as I got older I figured there was little chance of me becoming a writer. At some point I realized if I did not try, I would have regrets for not making the attempt. And the worst thing you can have in life is regrets. Better to fail than not try.

Today I have three eBooks on Amazon and write two blogs plus a website where I still post movie reviews. I will not get wealthy, may not make much money at all, but at least I am doing something I enjoy and I got that regret gorilla off my back and kicked him to the curb. I also am appreciative of the good reviews I have received. But at 64 I still have a lot of keystrokes left in my fingers to create more stories.

Here is my Amazon page for those among you who may want to inspire me with your buying power.

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What kind of book did I write anyway

I have written three books, two novels and a collection of short stories. I know what they are, but then again I don’t. Let me give you an example of my confusion.

I wrote a mystery, “Loonies in Hollywood” based on the unsolved murder of silent film director William Desmond Taylor in 1922.Though there were numerous suspects, including Hollywood stars, an arrest was never made. So I wrote a novel in which a studio writer solved the murder, but he could do nothing about it for reasons I won’t go into, should you decide to read the book some day.

So I have a mystery, but what kind? A mystery/crime novel is a branch of fiction, and from the mystery branch we have thriller and courtroom drama, neither of which apply. Nor does police procedure, techno thriller, medical, heists and capers, or young adult. It is not psychological suspense, nor a dark thriller. It is part cozy mystery, part amateur detective, but not hard boiled, more soft boiled. It is not a comical mystery with a bumbling detective, though he is passive-aggressive, and he does not so much figure things out as become a confidant to those who wish to talk, point fingers, or confess.  He has a loving wife, who just might be smarter than he is.

But readers, as well as Amazon, and other sites, like to have specific categories. And frankly, saying it is a “sort of cozy, amateur, historical, mystery with a lovingly satiric tribute to mystery noirs,” does not fit into anything.

Nor for that matter does my collection of short stories, “Cemetery Tales and other Phantasms,” for it is horror, but since it is a collection, there is variety. There might be a’ haunting,’ there might be a ‘weird tale,’ or a ‘quiet horror.’ Again we are dealing with a branch of fiction, this one horror, that also has branches. There are no zombies, no child in peril, except for a high school graduate in England. There is no splatter, none of the stories are gory, though one ends in a gruesome manner.  One reviewer who gave it a four star review on Amazon said they are Twilight Zone type of tales. I would agree to that.

There are two types of writers, one writes to specific genre categories to nicely fit into a niche, the better to generate sales I presume. But I write from a premise with no ending in mind. I let characters and circumstances dictate where the story goes. It is a lot more fun, and I can be as surprised as the reader. But when all is said and done, I always wonder, what kind of book did I write anyway.

My Amazon page is



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Famour failures and the rest of us

There is something oxymoronic about the phrase ‘famous failures’ for if you are famous, can it be said you failed? It is true a famous person can fail, but consider those who were failures who became famous. Albert Einstein for instance could not speak until he was four, and his teachers told Albert’s parents he would never amount to anything.

This one I love. Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for lacking imagination and having no original ideas. Along the same lines Oprah Winfrey was demoted from a news anchor position because it was determined she was unfit for television.

Decca Recording Studio, way back when, rejected the Beatles because they did not like their sound and they felt the Beatles had no future in show business.

And finally Michael Jordan, perhaps the greatest basketball of all time, was cut from his high school team.

One can take from these stories whatever they want. That decision makers are often wrong, as we no doubt know, but probably most people will find the stories show perseverance and inspiration of individuals who kept going forward with their dreams, who succeeded despite firings, setbacks, and rejections.

Martha Mitchell‘s “Gone with the Wind” was rejected 170 times. I am guessing 170 people lost their jobs for that decision. Like Rhett Butler, Mitchel probably said, ” I don’t give a damn.” Stephen King’s first novel was rejected. Fact is every successful person and every writer gets rejected at some point. One of the saddest stories of rejection was John Kennedy Toole, whose book “Confederacy of Dunces” was rejected by everyone. For reasons only he knows, he committed suicide. His mother believed in the book and badgered Walker Percy-a  famous American writer in case you are young-who was teaching at Loyola University in New Orleans. She wanted him to read her son’s book. Finally he relented when, instead of phone calls and letters, she came to his office. After reading a couple of pages he knew the book was good. He got it published and it won the Pulitzer Prize.

While these inspirational stories, Toole being an exception, are good to keep hope alive, it must be remembered that these are isolated cases. Publishing house’s dumpsters are filled daily with rejected manuscripts from writers destined for failure.

Having read a number of e-books from writers unpublished by major publishers it is clear that many can write and write well. E-books are for indy writers that want to write, to tell stories, only doing so after numerous rejections from the big boys. It is a new world and that is inspirational. Toole had his mother, but today we e-book writers practice the Emersonian principle of self reliance. Or rather rely on readers. Speaking of which, if you have not already done so, you can visit my inspirational authors page at Amazon here. I had to get that in. My mother is deceased.


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Which type of procrastinator are you

In 1997, July 23rd to be specific, I clipped an article from a newspaper about the six types of procrastinators. And the answer is no, I have not put off reading this article until 2013. A writer, especially me, needs to know why he is not writing, so I thought this might be helpful to all of us.

One type of procrastinator is the perfectionist, reluctant to start or finish any task because of high expectations. This type is highly detail oriented, hoping to avoid mistakes. This is not me, as I avoid starting tasks for the simple reason that, like Bartelby the Scrivener in Melville’s short story, ” I prefer not to.” But if you are a perfectionist, then say ‘I could’, not ‘I should.’ At least the article says that. If it doesn’t work, don’t blame me.

Perhaps the opposite of the perfectionist is the dreamer. They are described as being vague, unrealistic, and romantic, unable to deal with details. They have to do lists, and think about lists; they say ‘soon’ or ‘someday.’ The recommendation is moving from passive to active, just do it, like the Nike ad said. I tried this approach, as the dreamer fits me. I tried it after putting it off for a couple weeks. It doesn’t work.

Then there is the worrier. They are easily overwhelmed because they have a small comfort zone. They lack confidence and avoid risks, saying, “What if. . .” I understand this as I worry a lot. The article says if you have a backup plan that answers the ‘What if’ question, you should be fine. I somehow doubt that, as you can worry about the backup plan as well.

Moving along we have the crisis maker. He can’t get motivated until the last minute. They like living on the edge for the adrenaline rush, so they avoid simple routine tasks. I have no understanding of these people. The recommendation is find an outlet for the rush. My adrenaline rush is talking a walk. I might do this later.

There are two types of defiers, one aggressive, one passive-aggressive. They promise to do something, but don’t follow through. The recommendation is to say what you mean and mean what you say. Have you noticed that the recommendations that come from the book, “It’s About Time” are easy to say, but not easy to do. This is because if you are a true procrastinator, you put off recommendations.

The sixth type are the overdoers. They are always busy, always working. They tend to make extra work rather than focusing on what needs to be done. They need to delegate. Frankly this does not sound like a procrastinator to me. More like a nut.

If you are a procrastinator I hope you found your type. I think there is some overlap as I see a bit of myself in two or three types. I had intended to publish this blog the other day, but we know how that goes. But now that this is published I can get back to procrastinating about more important things.


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The future of writing will not be writing but something prehistoric

Writing began when someone etched something onto a rock. The words were no doubt simple and few; grammar non-existent. From this rocky beginning writing evolved onto mammoth skin, goat skin, cow skin, squirrel skin, and for Neanderthal cannibals, human skin.  Rocks quickly dropped out of favor until Moses had a public reading of his benefactors writings on a couple of smooth rocks known as tablets. This use of rocks was, however, an aberration.

neanderthal skulls

neanderthal skulls (Photo credit: leted)

The above Neanderthal skulls are believed to be those of the first know writers. The skulls were found in what is assumed to be a writers retreat in what is now the Montmartre district of Paris.

Jumping ahead to the time of Shakespeare, the quill was taken to parchment, writings having gone from simple words used to describe something, like big green animal, fire, wheel, and food, to words being strung together in creative means to induce thought and emotion, using wit and imagination. It took a few million years, but Shakespeare, all have agreed, was worth the wait. 

The next evolution was paper and pencil and paper and pen, also known as long handed pain in the ass. Paper manufactures loved writers, because writers kept rewriting and buying reams and reams of paper.

The invention of the typewriter in the 1860’s almost did not get off the ground, because there was no typing paper, so someone had to invent the correct paper. Once again paper manufacturers rejoiced and did everything they could to prevent the invention of white-out.

In the e-world paper is longer needed. A writer can type in Word Doc. and upload an e-book to Amazon, Book Baby, and all those other e-publishers. With the quill long dead like the bird it came from, and pens and pencils no longer at the writers desk, paper too has gone the way of the Dodo.

The next evolution-and this is happening as I speak-with speak being the key word-is that the keyboard will be as extinct as paper is now. Instead writing will be voice activated. A writer will speak his sentences into the computer, the sentences being created in Word Doc. by the computer. No more cussing out loud at the infernal keyboard that types letters not tapped. No more slapping the stupid keyboard that keeps getting mixed up.

Imagine saying, “Now is the summer of our disconnect,” then, “Delete summer, replace with winter.” Oh, the ease of it all.

The word ‘writer’ will have to be changed because no writing is actually done. Instead the word ‘writer’ will change to ‘storyteller.’  The stories may even bypass Word Doc. altogether, going straight to the buyer’s (formerly reader’s) voice mail where he or she listens to the ‘book’. Before writing, back in prehistoric days, there were storytellers because their was no pen or pencil, nor paper. In the future we will have come full circle, back to narrating our stories without rocks, goat skins, parchment, paper, pens and pencils, typewriters and keyboards. Boy we wasted a lot of paper.

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The secret place where writers get ideas for stories

Yes, there is a secret place where writers get ideas for stories. It has nothing to do with joining the Writers Guild and gaining access to a library of ideas where writers can select one that interests them, but that is not the case. That’s pure fantasy. At least that is what my fellow Guild members said to write.

No,  ideas come from the deep, warped, recesses of the mind. Case in point. I was walking through a cemetery near where I live because it is a nice walk, if you don’t mind walking among the dead that is. I saw an elderly man walking among the tombstones carrying a shovel. I wondered what he was doing with that shovel, so I stopped to watch him, but then changed my mind. My thinking was that if I watched him and what he was doing turned out to be something innocuous I would forget the episode. So I turned and walked away and let my imagination run wild. I asked myself what would an elderly man do carrying a shovel in a cemetery. Thus the hook for my short story “Flowers for Martha Clemens.” The reason was romantic in a crazed, morbid fashion.

Another time I was watching about eight Constance Bennett movies on TCM and wondered in my enjoyment of the movies what would happen to someone who enjoyed the films too much. That turned into another short story, “An evening with Constance Bennett.”

A writers mind works in the ‘what if’ gear. What if I were killed in a car wreck and there was an afterlife, what would then happen. What would the-for lack of better word-ghost do? What adjustments needed to be made?

Once the idea germinates the story often goes in unexpected directions. I do not like to plot out the story, preferring to let the characters and resulting action propel the story. I sometimes am surprised myself where the story leads.

How the writer presents his tale  is revealing of the authors state of mind. And since my stories are humorous, scary, and sometimes warped, my quirkiness is revealed.

If you have an interest in reading these weird tales along with how each idea came into being, here is a link to my Kindle page at Amazon where you will find “Cemetery Tales and other Phantasms.”

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