Monthly Archives: June 2015

How Marlon Brando’s tie nearly ruined my short story

I was preparing a short story for an international competition in England. That means proofreading letter by letter, comma by comma. What fun! I would let the story sit  a couple of days, then look at again. this went on for about two weeks, I corrected a few things, added more detail, deleted some sentences, added others.

Then one day something caught my eye. I had two characters, both men, both wearing a red tie. That will not do. Granted one was dead, one was living, but unless there is an allusion, or some connection, some reason for the two red ties, then get rid of of one of them.

The reason is quite simple. Variety. A reader can spot the fact that two men are wearing red ties and think you-I mean me- is sloppy. I was.

Writers can fall into patterns. I blame the red tie on Marlon Brando. I saw “Last Tango in Paris” and loved the scenes in which he was wearing a black sports jacket, gray slacks, a blue and white stripped shirt with-yes, a red tie. It was the only time in my life I was influenced my fashion in a movie. I purchased a perfectly dashing black sports jacket in London, bought gray slacks back home in America, the shirt and the tie. Sadly I never got to tango in Paris though. But I looked sharp.

So I still have the idea of a red tie in my head. That is something I must be watchful of. (Yes I know I ended a sentence with a preposition, but that is not a hard rule as any grammar text, like “Fowler’s Modern English” will testify, though not without some hue and cry from the prosecution).

So you as a writer must be aware of certain details you fall in love with, whether colors, apparel, facial descriptions, anything that might trip you up like two red ties. Be aware of subtle ways you repeat yourself, even in dialogue, settings, anything at all.

I don’t know if I used a red or brown tie for Giants pitcher Red Ames-it was his lucky tie-in “Loonies in the Dugout,”  but if you read it you will know.




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Can you fetch a fetching

Of late, since I seem to have nothing better to do, I became immersed  in the odd relationship between fetch and fetching.

I associate the word ‘fetch’ with dogs. When playing catch with a dog and a stick or ball is thrown the owner yells, “Go fetch!” I have heard this phrase many times, though in truth the dog knows to go fetch; he or she does not have to be told. They love to fetch.

I am also aware that ‘fetch’ can imply what something costs, though this is a somewhat archaic usage. I have not heard, “It fetched a good price” in a long time. So let us stick to ‘fetch’ defined as retrieving, to grab, seize, catch, and so on.

Okay, now we come to the word fetching. It means charming, enchanting, alluring, captivating, and is most used in describing a woman, or at least it once was, as in “She has a fetching appearance.” It was once a way of saying, “Man she’s hot!” And that phrase once meant something else. But anyway, how do we get from a dog fetching to a comely woman? How do we associate a dog with a cute woman? 

I know chauvinistic men would like a woman to fetch them a beer on demand, but that is not me. I can fetch my own thank you.

Was there something sinister behind the similarity of the two words, some wordsmith conspiracy to layer an insult to women, that they were dogs?  I had to uncover the truth.

I went to a well known establishment that provides  haircuts, or styling if you will, to men; the establishment a national one that has fetching young ladies that cut your hair, a cut that fetch’s a good price mind you. I posed the question to the young woman cutting my hair about fetch and fetching. Leave it to a woman to figure it out.

She cut to the heart of the matter with the quickness of the snip of a scissor. “Fetch means the woman is worth fetching.”

I had to laugh, though I felt like a dog for thinking there was some conspiracy. I must refrain from saying a terrible pun like offering a beautiful diamond ring will fetch the woman.  That would be improper. Because you see, it is the woman tossing the ball or stick and the man, the dog that he is, will fetch it. And that is because the woman is so fetching the man can not resist.

If you would like to fetch on of my e-books, you can grab one here.

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A must read for Kindle writers. Times are changing

This blog is from Kristen Lamb and has new information about the changing e-world of books, specifically for those of us who publish on Amazon.

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How not to sell your book

I have read much about how indie writers should not sell their books and I agree that many of the methods some writers use are crass.

One should not make a direct appeal to blog followers by promoting their book. God forbid they might actually enjoy your story. So I will henceforth not make direct appeals. (Though of course if you want to visit my Amazon page-a link is provided below. Or if you want to visit my website, that link is also provided below). 

Nor will I cater to your sensitivity to animal cruelty, despite the fact I have a cat that was rescued from an abusive owner. Yes I give her, of the sadly soulful eyes, treats and yes I frequently pet her softly as she sits in my lap purring loudly with contentment. She follows me everywhere, as does my devoted spaniel, another rescue, who limps behind me with the cat shouldering the spaniel so she will not fall over. No, I can not prey on your heart.

Nor do I wish to use my disarming news of my doctor’s assessment that I have six months to live because of incurable athletes foot.  I have gotten three second opinions and they all agree neither surgery or amputation will amend the problem. I will await my fate with quiet dignity. Though what fate my teary eyed cat and, for all intent, a three legged dog, will meet without resources gained from the sale of my books, is unknown. No, I will not, do not wish, to ever sell books that way.

Nor do I desire to use my service as a Vietnam War veteran, a victim of agent orange and  that war stress syndrome thing, whatever it is called. Despite my having saved dozens of South Vietnamese children from mass murder, an action that won me a prestigious medal, no I can not use that to sell books either. (Mainly because I flunked my physical and was unable to serve my country). 

Nor will I offer free books for positive reviews, nor will I pay for reviews.

No, I can do nothing of the sort. I will do only what is left to do. And that is nothing, but just sit and twiddle my thumbs. (Both of which were broken by neighborhood bully).

Don’t go to my Amazon page. ttp://

Nor to my website.






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Do blog readers feel cheated at 300 words

When I first began blogging I read from many sources that a blog should be 300-350 words because in todays social media culture people don’t have time to read long articles; they prefer short and quick. So I followed the herd and usually kept it at 350 or so, sometimes going crazy with over 400 words.

Now I’m told things have changed. I have read in another blog (of course) that 1,000 is the new 300. Readers feel cheated, they want something longer, more substantial. If this is true I wish you readers would make up your mind. My question is who said 300 words to begin with and who said 1,000 words now?

Should we bloggers believe anything we read. (You can believe me though-most of the time). We as readers, we as humans, need not to listen to what others say we should do. Why should I believe 1,000 is now the acceptable blog length. Where is the data? Who took a survey?  I read nothing in the New York Times, the Washington Post, nor have I read anything on the Internet, other than the blog I read. And it was written from a reliable blogger and author.

Lets be honest. None of that matters. Whether it is 300 or 1,000 it is about content, not word count. The only arbiter in social media is the reader and there are all kinds of readers, those that like long blogs, those that like short blogs and on and on. There are readers who like short novels and those that like long novels and those that just like a good read and dame the word count.

Henceforth I will write what I want to write. Maybe it will be 200 words. Maybe 300-400. Occasionally I may get to 1,000.  The things is that  writing 1,000 words for a blog takes away from a good deal of fiction writing, one in which I would like to write 1,500 to 2,000 words.

The last paragraph ended at 314 and now I am done. Call me old school.  is my Amazon page. I have short stories and two e-novels, one of which is long. Take you pick.

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How is this beginning for my new mystery novel



I would like your opinion on the beginning of my new e-novel. I would reveal the title, but I love it too much to share until it is released next month. This is a preview if you wish, the first five paragraphs of chapter one.  Does it hook you into the story?


I have never killed anyone. I’m a writer for God’s sake. I have killed off fictional characters, but never a real person. But events beyond my control would change that.

If you have gone to work and discovered a dead man sitting in your chair, his head lying on your oak desk, blood pooling up with thick red droplets spilling slowly over the desk’s edge to splatter on the tile floor, his arms hanging limply towards the floor, one eye closed, the other vacantly staring at me, then you have an idea how my day started. I am not being insensitive. His day was worse than mine. But why was he at my desk? He was no stranger as I met him once, but at that time I knew little about him and when I discovered who he was, well, it was both a surprise and a mystery. Funny he never said anything about it when we met.

This was my second encounter with murder, having five years earlier solved the murder of film director William Desmond Taylor. I say solved as if I am a detective, but the truth of the matter, for I will only tell you the truth, is that the killer confessed to me, and did so at my office at then Famous Players-Lasky, now called Paramount, where I wrote scenarios and title cards for movies. I use the word ‘wrote’ in past tense, for I will no longer write title cards, but scenarios with dialogue. But that is my problem.

Anyway, only the killer of Taylor and I know the truth. Well, we two, along with the killer’s mother, possibly the sister and grandmother, maybe a policeman or two, assorted studio heads, and certainly the former District Attorney. As you can guess the case is solved only unofficially. Perhaps the case is still open, but I doubt if anyone is seriously trying to find the killer, and if so, they will never find him-or her. I have not even told my dear wife Eveleen, which I feel guilty about because she was with me at each stage of my so called investigation, though adventure is more like it. She is more adventurous than I am, and though I will not tell her this, she is also smarter. The killer swore me to silence and I honor my word, even to killers. I could have been a priest, except I am not Catholic, and not really religious, but people for some reason confide in me. Besides, the killer told me what happened, that it was an accident, and the explanation had the ring of truth. Eveleen, however, may not agree, and I want to put all that behind me; nothing to be gained now. For the record I am not convinced it was an accident.

But I am guessing you are more interested in the murder of Hans Bachmann. That is the man sitting in my chair; his head on my oak desk, blood flowing from a gaping slit across his throat. He had not been dead long.

Comments welcome


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