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Admiring Melville’s Bartelby while dealing with depression

My favorite fictional character when I was studying literature in college was Bartelby, the Scrivener. Before college my favorite TV character was Maynard G. Krebs. Everyone is apprehensive of the future, especially college students, wondering first if they can make it through school and then where they will end up in the job market. And my view of work was similar to Krebs, as played by Bob Denver as seen here in a clip from “The Many Affairs of Dobie Gillis.” Work indeed; it is scary. Which brings me back to Bartelby.

Bartelby is not a beatnik like Maynard, and his aversion to work is also different. In the short story Bartelby has lost his job due to administrative change and now finds himself working in law office as a scrivener, a scribe, who is hired to copy legal documents. On his third day on the job when told by his boss what he wanted Bartelby to do, my hero Bartelby said “I prefer not to.”

And what employee in a dead end job does not want to say that. He said the line with calmness and matter-of-factness. He did not defy in hostility, he simply with great sadness said, “I prefer not to.” And he got away with it. Bartelby became a fixture in the office, a mournful, sad presence, often looking out the window at a brick wall. In fact it turned out he ended up living in the office, much to the surprise of his boss. Day after day, “I prefer not to.” Sadly Bartelby was forced to leave, his presence became not intolerable, but embarrassing. Bartelby ended up in the Dead Letter Department of the post office, but I shall not reveal the ending.

From time to time when I lived in the real world with a real job I would say to my boss, “I prefer not to.” For some reason it never worked. I guess I never ran into a boss like Bartelby. I either received a stare in return or laughter, or “I don’t care, do it anyway.” Preferring not to do something is valid, but not caring is a bad attitude. Though maybe that is the Bartelby within me speaking.

Maynard had an aversion to work because it was unhip, uncool, and it was . . .well it was work. I had the same aversion in my youth. Today like Bartelby, as I look at a blank page in Word, attempting to write the next word, the next sentence, the next paragraph of my new novel, my mind says, “I prefer not to.”

Bartelby fell into an existential trap, but I deal with dysthymia or melancholy, depending on which counselor or therapist I listen to, but I think both forms of depression overlap, blend, merge, and swirl into each other. I took medication for a few years, but it had side effects and given the choice, I “prefer not to” take pills.

It has been suggested that the narrator of “Bartelby” is mask for Melville and that Bartelby is a darker side of the writer Melville. If that is true then both must have been depressed, but if you get enough literary critics together they will debate, argue and interpret the story in diverse ways. I just like a guy who says, “I prefer not to” when asked to work.

After I publish this blog I may or may not write, or work on my new, yet to be online website. I will see what I prefer to do, if anything.

Meanwhile in this e-book of supernatural short stories for $2.99  you will find two more literary characters, Frankenstein and his monster, created by Mary Shelley, and reimagined by yours truly in an alternate ending.




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Webinar thoughts for Indie writers-beware

We live in an information age, and there is too much information, much of it sounds good, until somebody points out an obvious truth that blows up what you thought was true, but then you wonder if the ‘new’ truth is accurate. For an indie writer writing e-Books I heard over and over you need to have lots of books on Amazon. But someone said, it does not matter how many books, it is a myth, you need to learn to market, that Amazon is a search engine, and you need to increase your ability to get searchers to your books, then somebody tells you, but . .  wait a  minute. Halt. I am getting confused here.

I have attended three webinars, all were free. I learned many things, but in two of the webinars, the hosts, who were writers themselves, had a lot to say about marketing, and if you are a writer I need not go into all of that, you have heard it before. While their information-what they would share of it-was good; it told you what to do, but not the fine points of how. That would of course cost you money, as much as $500 to $700 for their course module. I have no doubt it can be done if you follow what they say. It is not the work that bothers me, but there are two points to be made.

One is that many people will go all in, but not follow through over time. The exhilaration and excitement wears off. The second is that you have to ask yourself how many books must you sell to offset the cost of what I am buying. If you are sure you can sell a few hundred books, then go for it. It is also true that what works for some people will not work for everybody. It is impossible that everybody will succeed. Some succeed, others will do the same things, but fail.

I made a purchase at the first webinar I attended. It had little to do with marketing and strategy. It only cost about $90 and would position my books on the Internet with very creative web pages. It was something like a website. Unfortunately I don’t think people ever found it. I think the product had an un-search engine. I liked the pages I was able to create, but it was a waste of money in the end.

So yes, I am leery, but I am also leery of professional marketers and pitchmen. They talk a great game. In the end if you attend any webinars, or come across anyone or anything that promises a result you desire, remember to weigh the cost.

This book will cost only $3.99 on Amazon. So save hundreds of dollars today.


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What’s in a name-Oh My-read on

Doing my end of year cleaning through old files I ran across something I Xeroxed well over a decade ago. It is an article I believe came from a magazine. It is a short piece on the hidden meanings within names of well known actors. For instance if you rearrange the letters of actor Christian Slater, you get- Thin, classier rat. You can make your own jokes.

I could  save the best for last, but I will give it here, it is too precious. Clint Eastwood, when you rearrange the letters in his name you get, and what could be more perfect-Old west action. Makes you wonder doesn’t it. Eastwood made a name for himself, first in television with “Rawhide,” then in those spaghetti westerns, not to mention other great westerns he made like “Unforgiven” that won four Oscars.

Want more? Woody Allen is A lewd loony. Former wife Mia farrow may think he is both loony and lewd. I prefer his looniness.

Jennifer Aniston is Fine in torn jeans. I am sure she is.

Kim Basinger is Big sin maker. In her day she certainly was, and in a good way.

Tom Cruise is I’m so cuter. I am not making these names up. Feel free to rearrange the letters yourself.

Oliver Stone is No overt lies. Were there any in JFK? Or was that an enigma wrapped in a riddle?

Sean Connery is On any screen. And that works for me. Best James Bond ever.

Stanley Kubrick is Kinky, abler cuts. He did make a kinky movie, “Eyes Wide Shut” and as director he cut lots of films, and was quite able to do so.

Mel Gibson is Limbs N’ ego. Enough said.

Sigourney Weaver is Ever rogue in ways. Boy, was she rogue in “Alien” or what.

Kate Winslet is Wet skin tale. I think she got her skin wet in the tale of the “Titanic”.

Adam Sandler is Mad lad earns. Money certainly, more than he earns laughs though.

Leonardo DiCaprio is Adored in cool pair. Of shorts?

Then there are others like the following that cause one to pause.

Michael Douglas is Eh! I am a cold slug. Sorry man.

Goldie Hawn is Winged halo.

Dustin Hoffman is Offhand, I’m nuts.

Geena Davis is Age invader

Demi Moore is Moodier me

Uma Thurman is Ah! A mum turn. Is she playing mothers yet?

And finally I close with Drew Barrymore who is Merry wardrobe.

or should I close with Jamie Lee Curtis who is Slim juice eater

I will add one to the list in consideration of a recent holiday. Santa is Satan. But we knew that, right? 

My e-Books with un rearranged letters are found here.



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The strange birth of Otis Oglethorpe

The birth of Otis came not from a woman, and not in the usual method. He sprang from my brain cells. You see, Otis is a fictional character and following is how he got his name.

The story takes place in 1927, so using a name common to contemporary times won’t work. As a writer you need to search and find a name that resonates with the time period. I could use a common name, ones used decade after decade like Tom, Dick, and Harry, but those names are kind of boring-sorry guys, nothing personal. If this were a King Arthur era tale, those names, of course, would not do. You see what I am getting at, so the first name that came to mind was Otis. To me it sounds like a laborer from another time period, or perhaps a farmer; Otis is not a name I hear much anymore.

I needed a last name and could not think of one, until that is, I sat down to watch a football game on television and the Nano-second I sat down, the name Oglethorpe sprung full blown into my consciousness. I had to go to my room and jot the name down, otherwise I would forget, and then I returned to the NFL.

There are many ways to name a character. If you are of the literate mind, you can name a character to reference something critics and those ‘in the know’ will pick up on; for example naming a willful adult male Sawyer after the Mark Twain boy named Tom. Often the references are quite obtuse, referencing a Greek or Roman God, something from Norse myth, or a stray cat.

If say you want to have character who is cold-hearted, the last name could be Winter; if you want a character who has a happy disposition, Sunny would work as a caricature for a female, but something more even keel would be Sonny, for both male of female. There was a famous NFL quarterback named Sonny Jorgensen, so the name works for a male as well. The name can fit the character of the character.

There are many things to keep in mind for a character, such as nationality, the sound of the name, and even length should come into play. To me Otis Oglethorpe has a rhythm to it, it flows off the tongue despite the awkward looking last name.

In my novel in progress this is how he is introduced in a first draft, no doubt to be revised:

“Otis Oglethorpe, about thirty with a lived in face, waded into the Skookumchuck River and washed the blood from his hands. Nothing he could do about the bloody sleeves, but he sank his arms to the elbows into the clear water anyway and scrubbed them, hoping to wash the blood away.

He thought about stealing a boat at Gig Harbor or there about, but decided to take the long way, driving from Shelton up towards Bremerton, before turning right and heading south through Key Peninsula until he reached Home. Many people honed in on Home, a beacon to the wayward thinkers of the world, the originators, the oddballs, the free thinkers, the loonies, and perhaps, a hideout for those on the run. He walked back to his dirty, dinged up Ford and drove off.”

Cut to a man finding a head on a grave. I think it fair to say readers will immediately suspect Otis of murder. But is he? Or just a red herring? That is a matter for another blog.


 Otis does not appear in “Silent Murder” but the man looking for him is. You can find the e-book at Amazon

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What? 7 tweets and 34.6 million followers

I have a Twitter account. I follow 626 and am followed by 552. I have tweeted 920 times, the majority of which are my blog posts that automatically go to Twitter. Of the 626 I follow there are only two I check out, maybe once a week. The majority that I follow are writer related, and to be honest, many are ready to help you Tweet your books- for a price of course. I ignore them, but I follow, or at least I click the follow button. And if I don’t they unfollow me. Shame. On both of us.

I don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter as I would rather hang out with you folks than chase numbers to make me look popular. It does not matter who or what is trending. Trends change by the minute, so the chaser is deluded, chasing only a chimera.

Here is an example I found today to show, no prove, Twitter is a numbers game. I received an email saying that iceicles (their spelling) is now following me. I checked as usual and found she or he has 34.6 million followers and is following 32.8 million. Forget the fact that no human can possibly follow 32.8 million people, consider that this account has seven tweets, three of which are re-tweets from the same link.

Assuming the numbers are correct, this is a case of someone clicking follow day after day, year after year, or possibly having an auto device that randomly follows people and all those 34 plus million who follow the account just click follow for no reason. Whatever is going on it makes no sense, none I can think of anyway, unless of course someone is promoting a website.

I prefer being followed by real people, you know the kind; tall, long haired beauties with runway model legs, who naturally are writers. But I digress. Twitter has become a place for numbers, not interaction of any meaning. I know I can go there, check out #hashtags and make my 140 character opinion known, but what, in the long run, is the point. Twitter is becoming a landing spot for self promotion. Nothing wrong with promoting yourself, but many of the accounts like the aforementioned one with 34.6 million followers on seven tweets make it seem like a joke.

I have more social interaction with you in blogs and posts.

I know what you are thinking, that being, why am I still on Twitter. I don’t have an answer, except I like to check out those two people I actually do follow.

My Amazon page where you can click follow without going to Twitter



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Why New Years resolutions don’t’ work

I am writing this ahead of time to warn you of the pitfalls of making resolutions. Most resolutions don’t work because they are made when too much bubbly is in your system and though well intentioned in that moment, you know deep down in dawn of morning there ain’t no way you will follow through.

It is the morning after when the new day sobers you up and you realize the person next to you is not the person you thought you knew, in fact, may not be anyone you know, or you wake up and realize you know the person, and are sorry that you do.

You can’t start a new year, a new outlook, new goals, a new you on the first of January. Hung over, dry heaves, wet heaves, with only football games for redemption to free you from  . . . what did I resolve to do?

Won’t work.

No you must make resolutions now in order to acclimate yourself for the new year. It is like baseball players in spring training, or football players in training camp; you must prepare yourself. You can not jump into it on New Years Eve. Well, okay, you can, and it is a lot of fun, but I am talking about resolutions here.

What I have resolved to do as of Sunday, December the 6th, is to rise each morning and eat breakfast while reading my emails, or should say deleting 20 of 25 without bothering to read. Then brew some tea, either green, oolong, or jasmine. I drink the tea because it has not only antioxidants, but a caffeine jolt to jump start my brain to write my 2,000 words Monday through Friday. One thousand words, then stop to exercise my body so that my rear end does not spread out like an amok excel spreadsheet. Then write another 1,000 words. After that I shall read, as I have tons of unread books, so many that my space looks like a literary agents growing slush pile. I am a book hoarder that must climb out from my computer chair like a mountain goat on Everest.

So I am now officially in training for my new 2,000 words a day. I don’t know how long it will last, but I am already eagerly looking forward to jumping into New Year’s Eve.

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How I saved my cat and my novel

What a wonderful thing Word.doc is. Before computers, writers had to use something called a typewriter, an instrument that, like a computer keyboard, had letters to click, but unlike typewriters, Word is easier to correct. What a wonderful word is ‘delete.’

But Word is terrible at grammar, as many of you writers already know. Working on my new novel I wrote ‘I’m too. . .

I must pause to tell you that the original title for this blog was Why Writers Can’t Trust Word. I was going to show the sentence I wrote and why the Word.doc grammar Nazi underlined ‘I’m’ and said it should be ‘I are.’

I got as far as I mentioned because I went to the document that has the manuscript for my novel in progress. I wrote 1,600 words yesterday in chapter three, words that would throw a big wrench into the murder mystery, taking the story in a new direction with many questions to be pondered. I was immensely proud of the output and what I had written. So I wanted to find the sentence that began ‘I’m too. . . ‘ and show why Word knows little about grammar. He can’t be trusted. I had other examples I had written down as evidence. But when I scrolled down to chapter three, yesterday’s work was gone. It wasn’t there; it was gone, as in gone. That means it wasn’t there. 1,600 words disappeared.

What happened? My first thought was to go to system restore to retrieve my work, but according to my system the safe place was four days ago. Then I thought that I had failed to click ‘save’ when I logged out yesterday. That had to be the reason.

I think Word knew I was going to trash him in a blog and sabotaged my work. No Matter. I saved the beginning of this blog, went back to chapter three and the only thing to do was write down the structure of what I had written. I wrote down the essentials, a summary if you will ,of the scene. I was not going to rewrite until I recalled everything that went on as that would make the writing easier. But. . .

You may not believe this, but just as I finished the summary that contained everything I needed, the power flashed off, radio, lights, computer-(the lights just flickered again as I am writing this-I am in a big rain storm with high winds in the Pacific Northwest, thus the outage.) So now my summary was lost, just as I had finished it.  So I started a second time while it was all fresh in my mind. I told myself if the power goes out again I am going to grab a bottle of gin, kick the cat out the window, crawl into my bed, curse the world, and read a book.

Luckily for the cat the power did not go off, but as I am typing this the lights still flicker. In fact I just saved this draft, honest. I am not going through this another time.

I saved my work so I can finish chapter three, but I will not work on it today. I must grieve first. And since the power did not go off forcing me to kick the cat out the window, I saved her life. So if you are a writer remember to look at ‘save’ before you click. Make sure you save your work. Your cat will thank you. Now I am going to bed and read. I don’t care if it is just after noon.

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