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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Remember the Fallen

25 DEC 2019

This will probably be my last post of 2019. But who knows what the future holds. Anyways, managed to pump out a grand of words on and off for the last few days. Not much for others, but good enough for me. Below is a sample which should remain relatively unchanged in the final proof. Do I need a spoiler alert for a story that no one has read yet? 

To set the scene, the characters are remembering a fallen comrade... 


Sunday afternoon, Dave, Carol and all non-essential police personnel listened with reverence at the police station and in their vehicles as dispatch called out on the radio.
Her voice held a hint of urgency, of expectation. “Detective Morel, come in.” Silence.
Again, this time with desperation, with hope against all odds that he would answer. “Detective Leonard Morel, come in.” Someone near the door choked back a tear.
“She does such a good job. I couldn’t do that.”
One more time. Resignation. “Detective Leonard Morel. No response.” The dispatch operator paused for a moment. “Let the log show Detective Leonard Morel, lost in service to the citizens of Los Angeles. May god rest his soul.”

Unless I am going for anger and outrage, my stories will show a proper reverence for the fallen. 



May your days be long and good upon the Earth.


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Dave & the End of a Decade

24 DEC 2019

Howdy all. As year's end is fast approaching, it seems fitting to finish the decade with another wonderful article by Dave. A decade denouement if you will. Sage wisdom and advice he always has in abundance. This time his inspiration comes from the good people over at Writer's Digest. Personally, I take away from this article my own struggle with never being satisfied with my writing, as he mentions just above the anecdote. I'm currently in the throes of battle with a story now light-years ahead of where it was months ago (see what I did there, movie-goers?). In other news, I am of two minds about trying my hand at some poetry, just so I can say my writing has gone from bad to verse... 

Happy Holiday!




~*~ 


The “Had Horrors” Redux


David Alan Owens

In 1927 Laurence O’Dorsay wrote an article for “The Writer’s Digest Guide to Good Writing.” I rediscovered the article “The Had Horrors,” in November 2019. The 1994 Edition of “Guide To Good Writing,” languished in my attic for fifteen years. I dusted the cover and began to read again this wonderful compilation of WD articles. Fine advice from seventy-five years inspired me again — but I read D’Orsay’s article with a renewed interest.
In D’Orsay’s article (page 25), he wrote about when he, in 1927 found himself at the feet of Gamaliel, one of the most famous fiction magazine editors of the day (I researched but found little about this mysterious Gamaliel, and I am not sure whether D’Orsay referred to the rabbinical legend, or the Jewish teacher of the same name, I think the name is an allusion and honors the editor by comparison to the great Gamaliel).
In those days, editors often took it upon themselves to develop writers. Editors and agents do not today reach out to writers with obvious talent and help those new writers develop into the professionals they might become. The concept demonstrates the writing and publishing world’s decline.
Today the object is money and fame where the self-publishing world cranks out millions, yes millions, of poorly written stories, stories without noticeable merit, and they are filled with nothing but trope and cliché. Fame comes not often, and is a rare event in the self-publishing world. Fame is also rare in traditional publishing.
D’Orsay sat in his office with Gamaliel when a young “editor in training” entered the office and placed a manuscript on the table. The young man voiced his complaints about the story. “Something’s still wrong with it. You’ve sent it back to him five or six times. He’s got a good opening now, and a good finish, but somehow it just doesn’t register. It’s a good story, but he seems to take too long to get to the meat of the thing after his dramatic start.”
Gamaliel peeked into the manuscript and announced, “It’s as plain as day. Snifkins (the author) has a bad attack of the had horrors.”
When questioned about this “disease,” he replied, “Most of them have ‘em young. Just like children with measles, best to have them young. They think they must stop the story for a time and tell the reader what the hero and his heroine and the villain had been doing before the reader ever saw them. Causes the reader to start guessing, right from the beginning. Snifkins leaves ‘em hung up in the air until page four. He starts his puppets working, and then drops the strings while he lectures about their past lives. Look at this damn thing! Hads and had beens scattered all over his pages. He has the makings of a good writer, but we must cure him of his had horrors.”
If a story is strong and contains well-sustained entertainment value, an editor might overlook a few technical flaws, but one thing he will not overlook is a bad attack of the had horrors, Gamaliel observed.
D’Orsay relates how hads are like a stodgy lump of cold greasy fat served when you’ve finished the appetizers. He explains how to solve the mess and produce better work (page 26). “The thing to do with this irreducible minimum of explanatory matter about antecedent happenings is to link it with your moving story. Use action, with dialogue, and with thoughts running through the minds of characters. In this way, you can weave the whole thing into one pattern, connect the past with what is present, and future, and turn the thing into entertainment. Keep the dramatic conflict in the forefront and let your characters solve the eternal problem — what happens and why. The process focuses upon the concept of writing for the reader.”
A true writer is never satisfied with his writing. John Dusfresne, professor in the Master of Fine Arts Writing Program of the English Department of Florida International University said, “Show me a writer who is satisfied with their work, and I’ll show you an amateur.”  

Anecdote
In the same 1994 Writer’s Digest 75th anniversary issue, this short anecdote appears on page 30:
Fred Kelly, the humorist and author of the dog’s only book of philosophy, You and Your Dog, sat with the famous writer Booth Tarkington, in Tarkington’s Indianapolis home. Tarkington related how discouraged he often became when writing.
“Are you ever conscious right at the time of doing something good,” Kelly asked.
“No,” Tarkington chuckled, “it all seems fairly bad. You know, writing is about the most discouraging job of all. One knows so well what he is trying to express, but all the words aren’t available. This afternoon I tried to write a paragraph or two to describe a scene in northern Africa but the words weren’t available. I tried to write vivid description for my readers, but when I groped for the crystals all I could pick up were a few smeary words — a meaningless mess. Yet all the time I knew the right words were somewhere if I could only find them. It’ll never suit me, I’ll still feel that I could do it better.”
Kelly later said, “When I came away, I thought: So long as he has that attitude toward his work, no wonder it’s good.” (Dufresne’s wisdom)
References: Writer’s Digest Guide To Good Writing.
Copyright © 1994, by Writer’s Digest Books - Edited by Thomas Clark
Library of Congress ISBN 0-89879-640-7




~*~










Sunday, December 8, 2019

Writing Update

08DEC2019

I finally was able to work on a story this weekend. Not a lot done, but progress was made toward the finish line. I haven't written anything for a while now, not counting words about my grandparents. So here's a little sample of words from this weekend:
Dave is a Los Angeles police officer, and Carol is a CSI (Crime Scene Investigator). They are returning to an apartment where an unusual murder took place...

*****

They pulled into a spot next to her car. A homeless lady pushed a cart full of belongings into the nearby alley.
Dave, concerned, questioned Carol. “You sure you’re okay to drive?”
“Yeah,” she replied. Yellow police tape decorated the doorframe of the apartment upstairs. “You mind going upstairs to the crime scene? I told my boss I would retake a few photos.”
“Sure. Let’s do this.”
They climbed up the stairs. Dave held the tape as Carol ducked under.
A couple flicks of the light switch did nothing. “You’re going to have to come back tomorrow.” Dave left the door open and pulled out his mag light.
“Over here,” she said. “I just want to take another look at it while we’re here.” She stood near the end of the hallway and waited for Dave to join her. She could feel the symbol glaring at her from the bedroom door.
He pointed the beam over her shoulder. The hash marks and symbol were still there.
She was too nervous to glance down at her hand. “Your ring, Dave. Hold it up.”
“My ring? I don’t wear a ring.”
Carol’s heart thumped in her chest. She tried to sound disinterested, “I thought you were married?”
“I was. Look, can we do the twenty questions later?”
She could hear something raw in his voice.
The flashlight beam danced around. “I don’t wear a ring, so let’s keep it moving. Is this about your ring glowing?”

“Yeah,” she answered, but she was really thinking about the world of possibilities that just opened up between her and Dave. She turned to him and smiled in the darkness. “My grandmother’s ring.” She brought her hand up and reached for the symbol. Her ring glowed, just as before. “See!”

*************


Hopefully this snippet interests you. I'm still finishing up the last few pages of the rewrite. No ETA on the finished product yet. 

Picture for today: In honor of the holiday season. Not my place, but one from a nearby neighborhood. 

  


Sunday, December 1, 2019

Asian Influences

01DEC2019

I have not written any stories with Asian influences yet. For research and fun I traveled to a local Asian Garden located in downtown Shreveport. A few of the pictures I took follow. Not sure what I will use in my stories yet, and the images were not taken with an eye toward covers or source material. I just wandered about, camera in hand. Enjoy. 















Sunday, November 3, 2019

Inspiration, Vision, and the loss of grandparents


03NOV2019
What will inspire you this morning? I know not. The picture above (filtered) was from an art installation shown in several cities, including one near me. Does it inspire you? From their website

"Rainbow City Shreveport is presented by the Shreveport Regional Arts Council (SRAC) and will be on view from November 2 to December 8, 2019. RAINBOW CITY Shreveport will be a place to make new friends and entertain families during a six-week, fun-filled festival, as the people of Shreveport celebrate the grand opening of the City’s first urban greenspace—CADDO COMMON. CADDO COMMON, with its RAINBOW CITY, is located at 869 Texas Avenue in downtown Shreveport in the Shreveport Common Neighborhood. It is FREE and open to the public. Arts in Education Tours, with hands-on STEAM activities, begin Monday, November 4 and continue to Friday, December 6. Dynamic programming continues throughout the six-week festival and includes Walking Wednesdays, Food Truck Court lunches and suppers, Friday Night Dance Parties, Sunday Brunches, a Weekend Arts Market and special events"
***

The brilliance is amazing, the size and grandeur is impressive. Not what I would've done but I applaud the artists wholeheartedly. They certainly got my attention. Given the palate of an open outdoor space, what would you create? 

As far as writing goes, I have been working on how to develop characters through various methods including dialogue, setting and actions. Good friend Dave Owens prods me occasionally, which always helps, but productive moments are eluding me like they're related to Bigfoot.

I am also currently reading Vellichor, a dark fantasy novel about a 'special' book store. It's the latest release by author Dawn Napier. Good book so far; chapter two really grabbed me and drew me in! You can check out some of her other works here, though a word of warning: some of her fantasy/horror books cover touchy subjects, which ought not to surprise readers of said genres.

And for all you crazy people (including my wonderful wife) who have decided to participate in #NANOWRIMO this year. Good luck! I don't think I'll ever jump on that crazy train given the time of year it happens in, but maybe I'll do my own version over the summer sometime. 

On a more somber note, I recently lost my last two grandparents. As a writer, what do I say about them? Memories mostly. The way we laughed, cried, 'familied' together. The easier one to write about would be my grandfather. An army vet, he was one impetus to my military career as well as several other members of our family. Great man, unparalleled welder, excellent provider, great American Dream story, wonderful role model for any and all. A true Man. His smile could light up the room and his anger could cower any foe. I won't be able to hear the phrases "Como tall-ee voo" (how are you in French) and "How's the weather up there?" without thinking of him. He invariably said both at every meeting between us, which in hindsight now strikes me a little odd, considering I am not the tallest member of the family! My fondest memory of him? Him trying to pass on to me his love of fishing. It never stuck, but days by his side at Leg Lake and other places never fail to bring a warmth to my life.

My grandmother on the other hand, my Nana. Deep breath. Swallow. She would be the harder to write about. Especially without my eyes leaking. The superglue of family, she held it all together through every storm. Picture the actress Claudette Colbert, so close they could be twins. They even had the same color hair. 



Memories are probably the easiest way to write about my Nana. 

Memories. 

Yeah. I can hear her laugh and hear her yell in my mind, almost at the same time. She had much to be sad about and much to be happy about, and carried the emotional weight of both with poise and grace. I can picture the wave of her hand as she dismissed the worst things in the world as if by magic. "Holocaust?" *Wave of hand. "What do I know about such nonsense? Come and sit down, get you something to eat, you skinny child!"

Memories. 
Sitting at the table, waiting for food. You didn't ask what deliciousness was about to be served, you just sat down and enjoyed it. Usually while guarding your dish from air strikes by your uncle's silverware. 

Memories. 
"Mi Hijo!" Son. She had every right to call me her son, though nieto would be more accurate. She raised generations with love and care, including me. 

Memories.
Opening one of the greatest Christmas presents ever when I was a teen. A book. Changed my life and still affects me to this day. Amazingly perceptive woman. 

Memories. 
Thanksgivings. Tamales. mouth-watering Turkey mole. Family dozens deep, crowded happiness more than can be described. And while this is the second holiday memory, and you could easily assume the most pleasant memories would be during those times, you would be wrong. Even the regular everyday moments were wonderful. There was just this joy in the house when she was there. I'm not sure how I will feel being there with her gone. Will I still feel her presence?

Memories.
All My Children, General Hospital, One Life to Live. What happened today, Nana? Soaps, Little Rascals, Three Stooges (I can hear their theme song Three Blind Mice playing right now...). Wonderful wonderful memories beside her in front of that big ole TV that drew down to a spot in the middle of the screen when you turned it off. I can still her Dada's TV in the bedroom way down the hall too, turned all the way up so he could hear it. 

Memories.
My fondest memory, the moment I wish I could go back to with all my heart? Driving her to work, at near midnight, up the streetlamp lit openness of a near-deserted La Brea Avenue. Eating breakfast burritos before digging into a night of returning a movie theater to pristine condition. Memories inside of memories of running down the aisles as a little child while the adults swept and vacuumed up popcorn and mopped the stickiness of spilled sodas. The feel of fresh sunshine as we finished for the night/day, her gossiping with friends, weary but filled with satisfaction at a job well done. Then heading back down the traffic of morning La Brea Boulevard toward big comfy home somewhere south of the Ten. Odd memory for some maybe, to be tear-filled and held so close to the heart, but then again, she was my Nana, as she was to so many others, and I will cherish my memories of our days together any damn way I want to. It's what she would have wanted.

I miss her. 
I miss her red hair. 
I miss the smile on her face. 
I miss her hugs, her love, and her caring about you no matter what you were up to. 




I blame my sister for today's writing. Thank you sis. Love you.



Thursday, October 10, 2019

NWLA Artists Directory, Pushcart Prize and a little Texas

A statue in the park next to the Historic Market Square
San Antonio, TX. Bird does not look impressed.

Howdy All!

Just came across an old post about the NorthWest Louisiana Artists Directory, so I hopped on over there and posted some more artwork. Shots from Las Vegas, Belgium and photos from around Louisiana were added to my artist profile. I need to place some more writing over there as well. Neat to see the different styles I prefer -macro, abstract, geometric. Been a year or so since I last wandered around the LA art site. Wish it were more active, or that my wife and I were more involved in the local artscene, or both! Who knows. Someday maybe. It's a great idea, a site to gather together creative types in the area. 

Also heard that Catherine Shields was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize, which recognizes the best literary works in the small presses. She is nominated for "My Phantom Ovaries" published in Ariel Chart. Intriguing title! You can read it here.

Another short piece of hers, "Blessed Curse" appeared just a couple of months ago as part of Dave's excellent series on how to Micro Write. You can read it here. Good luck, Catherine!

















Picture up at the top of this entry was from a trip down to San Antonio. I didn't write down who the statue was of or what the statue was for. The bird resting on the end of the rifle is what caught my attention. He's not normally part of the statue! Got distracted after I took that picture because a helicopter was landing on the roof of the Children's hospital right next door. Had a lot of fun down there visiting relatives and taking a few pictures. Here's another, from inside the Historic Market Square...



May your days be long and good upon this earth.







Monday, October 7, 2019

Pale Divers

07OCT2019

Two posts in two days. That's what you get when I'm off work. I'm not really off-work, just off of my main tasking, too much energy to just sit around and enjoy the silence. But the upshot is you all get another peek behind the scenes as I post another work in progress. This is a longer story, looking for a home on the timeline for my world and more time for me to work it up into a full-fledged novel. Notes are mixed in with the text. 

Here's a shaman, telling the story of the Pale Divers, who stole Secrets and Power from the sea...  This is a tale of High Fantasy, and will make a nice addition to my others tales of the world as it merges and diverges with other worlds...

The Pale Divers

The family lives along the blustery, granite coast of one of the islands between the Old Country and the New World.

For generations they have tapped a hidden source of ancient power that makes them incredibly strong, healthy and long-lived. 


Centuries earlier, the founder of the family line, a sailor named Tamnir, was shipwrecked and investigated this strange coastline. After years of exploring the area and its shape-shifting ways, he stumbled upon a glowing, undulating underwater cavern, at times huge, at times small, at all times maddening. The water would churn and grow opaque as silt and rock broke loose and mixed with the water. The shifting of water, land and space in this area cause many problems, earthquakes, destructive waves and hurricane winds. Ferocious beasts tore up and down the waterways of the coastline, tracking a subtle scent of prey.

When the water cleared, Tamnir saw that the underwater cavern was lit by glowing pearlescent orbs lining every surface. The orbs were large, the size of a crouching man. Each one pulsed with a living light, soft and throbbing, that sequenced together with the other orbs in the cavern. The lightshow was enchanting.

What were they, Tamnir wondered. Ancient treasures? A hidden cache of magic from a lost empire?

The orbs are full of warm, nurturing power. Shortly after finding the cavern, Tamnir was rescued from the dangerous island. He returned several years later to further investigate the curious cavern.

The next few generations of divers learned how to harness the power of the orbs and survived through the appearance of several gigantic creatures. Tamnir’s grandson was the first to connect the large hard-shelled creatures as the source of the glowing orbs. They were eggs! The orbs of power were the unborn offspring of a race of realm-spanning, snail-like ‘sea’ creatures, sort of magical, gigantic abalones. The creatures have a muscular underbelly and a hard, mother-of-pearl shell protecting them. The cavern was a safe harbor for the creature’s eggs. The gigantic snail creatures ate spatial growths and creatures that survive along the edges of existences. They are in turn occasionally eaten by huge furred, otter-like creatures and shelled spatial horrors with claws. The adult snail creatures mindlessly drop their eggs and sperm in the cavern as they blindly crawl and swim through.

Planned voyages to the Old Country and shipwrecks brought in more ‘family’ members.

Once an egg has been fertilized and matured, the creatures break away from the rock and grow a nacre shell. Some of the family felt protective of the young, but the desire for the power contained in the orbs was too strong. 


The adults’ shell material was also useful for making protective armors and mirrors to peer into other worlds. The adult creatures use their powerful muscles to cling onto rock formations. They also anchor themselves in space-time as well, a power useful as the realms move about.

The family used the power of the eggs and the nacre shells of the adults. The shells make excellent armor, proof against creatures that break through planar barriers. Enchanted necklaces made from the shells prevented the wearer from crossing planar boundaries. In essence, it stuck the wearer on the current plane.


I hope to devote a lot more time to this story. Knowing me though, I'll probably place this one to the side as I work on other snippets laying around.

To end on a funny note, here is another picture: 



 FYI: I don't drink coffee. :) But if I did, it would look 'perfect'
 

Saturday, October 5, 2019

The Book of Shells, Take II

05OCT2019

Starting writing again tonight. I haven't written much in the last few months since my normal day job started up again. Felt good to get back in the writing saddle. Below is some of what went on tonight. Another take on a story scrap I jotted down a few years ago, called The Book of Shells. Enjoy. If you want to see how the story has evolved, you can read the original post here

The Book of Shells

The noon air was warm and misty, filled with the sounds of gulls and the waves crashing on the cliffs nearby. Would be a postcard moment if not for the body waiting for him in the shack below. The detective ducked under the police tape and pounded down the rickety wooden stairs. Didn’t take long to reach the sandy bottom of the nearly hidden beach cove. Victim had this secluded spot all to himself. Cables strung along the stairway provided phone and electricity from the road above.

The detective opened the door and entered the sparse quarters. Guy lived a simple life. Small main room held a rattan chair and a coffee table. No pictures, no rug, no personal items anywhere. He stepped over the limbless outline, decades of cop superstition and Roman Catholic upbringing making him wary of disturbing the victim’s final resting place without cause. Bathroom sink held the usual toiletries, a dozen economy-size bottles of mouthwash, a gallon jug labeled Syrup of Ipecac, and a pyramid of toilet paper rolls. Interesting. He made a mental note to check on the plumbing. On the night stand in the bedroom was a long book, spiraled on the left side with brass loops, the kind that can be opened and closed. The book was wider than tall, reminding him of the shape of an old-fashioned ledger. “The Book of Shells” was written in neat black marker on the front, surrounded by strips of burlap. Scrap-booky but not in a bad way.

He reached out with the end of his pen and flipped the cover. Cover and title looked and sounded innocent enough, maybe a memoir of long walks on the beach and the treasures found there. The inside pages were gone, torn out.



That's all for now.

Two pictures for today. One is a message everyone should take to heart: 

This one is a science funny. FYI, ants have an acid called oleic acid that they emit when dead. If you put that acid on an ant that is alive, other ants will carry him away and the ant itself will not resist, because to all ants, including himself, he 'smells' dead. Truth is truly stranger than fiction.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

What Will My Influence Writing Today?

21SEP2019 

I never know when the muse will strike, when something in my day to day will transfer to my writing. I can't tell you of all the weird and wonderful things that happen in my day to day job, but those experiences must carry over somehow to the fictitious stories I try to sell. I don't know how the events of Rowling's mundane days infused her mythic tales of Harry, but they must have tainted her tea, so to speak. 

I guess that is the best way to look at it. I must sift through what I experience, pick out the tastiest and most flavorful moments, tie them together in a bag of thought and time, and drop them in the hot water of an afternoon's writing session. The moment someone's phone went off in a middle of a lesson, twice, causing the n-word to be sung liberally over and over again as the student sort of, not really, quickly tried to get his cracked screen to respond to his commands and shut off the insipid noise. The maddening sight of scores of blurry pictures turned in from the yearbook staff at the end of a wonderful pep rally filled with precious and perfect yearbook moments that will now never see the light of day. The look of utter happy embarrassment on several faces as a goofy, somehow in-focus photo from the aforementioned pep rally was displayed onscreen for all to see. Heated discussions of Trump, people who identify as a different race and the ramifications thereof, and why did slaves allow slavery to happen. Who knows how those moments will end up? 


Pic for today is a scene down a long building, eerily lit at regular intervals. Not Halloween yet, but a hint of it floats through the air...






Saturday, August 10, 2019

Saturday Motivations & Musings

10AUG2019

The first week of my regular job is done! Finished! In the books! Next extended break is Christmas. Geesh that's a long ways off!

Work on writing has obviously slowed to a crawl but should pick back up after a bit of getting back into the pattern of my regular job. My regular job has a definite sequence to it, with well-defined (though meager) lulls and many busy periods. I still have many incomplete writing projects, some big, some little. No new ones lately, which is good. I don't need any more story ideas for now! 

But as an author, my mind is always going. Today, for some reason, I thought that perhaps my grandchildren will ask why so many people wore glasses back in the day. Will laser eye repair be so common that glasses fall by the wayside and become anachronistic? I already feel old. 

Next major goal is to continue to put out quality stories, build up an inventory, pausing to do some marketing every once in a while, but not until I have several more products to market. For a behind the scenes peak at my future marketing plan, I am going to offer a free story at the end of stories available for purchase, in exchange for signing up for a newsletter promoting new stories. This is a marketing technique known as 'magnet readers'. If you are already interested in future releases from me, go ahead and comment on this post. I will be getting a business email address in the future to handle correspondence. No need to clutter my regular inbox.


Pic for today is a filtered photo of a wall sconce at a nearby Hilton hotel. I'm really enjoying the Comic Book filter on my iPad. Hopefully knowing it's a hotel light doesn't ruin the image for you. I might spend some time and clean it up with GIMP and make it into a short story cover for the light and darkness frontier stories I'm working on. 



Sunday, August 4, 2019

Shootings

04 AUG 2019

No writing-flavored post today. Shootings, multiple shootings, have got me thinking instead of writing. Our country has some growing up to do. Somehow, someway, we need to figure this out.

We can't get rid of the Second Amendment. It's part of our soul. But we can't keep going on like this. 

To my science teacher brain, these shooters remind me of cancer. 

Cancer, at its simplest, no matter what the root cause, is uncontrolled cell growth. Our bodies need cell growth, just like families and countries need to grow, but we can't have uncontrolled growth. It's not healthy. These shooters are trying to grow, to increase their ideologies, their reach, their power, etc., but in ways that are unhealthy and deleterious to America. 

In our bodies we have portions of our immune system that watch out for rogue cells. Every day our body fixes itself, policing our organs and tissues, destroying cells that are pre-cancerous. In America, we have societal norms that, for the most part, control killer urges in our citizens. 

Sometimes our bodies need help getting rid of aggressive cancers that overwhelm or otherwise bypass our immune system. We use HIV/AIDS medicines and immuno-therapy techniques to do that, just like our police and security forces take out these shooters that attack and kill their fellow citizens. 

America has its roots in 'growth'. We left our prior lands so we could enjoy the freedoms we hold dear. 

George Washington, one of our original bad asses.

But by following these desires, we've created a country that is fertile ground for these killings. Sort of like someone eating the foods they enjoy, but these foods increase their cancer risk. What are we to do? Change our 'diet'? In other words, we, as America, need to do something to lower the odds of a citizen becoming a killer. We need to change our societal norms so that these citizens don't decide to kill but instead they decide to prosper and grow in healthy ways. 


Much to ponder... 

My best shot at this dilemma? We need to instill in Americans an increased value for life. Somehow. Tighten societal norms so that Americans will not resort to shooting sprees. Sure, maybe close some loopholes in existing laws, try harder to keep weapons out of the hands of lunatics, but these are treating the how people kill, not the why. How do we stop people from wanting to go on a shooting spree. Why do these people kill?



Pics today are my final thoughts on this topic. I would much rather be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war. We must be able to protect ourselves, but without descending into the madness of shooting sprees.



May your days be good and long upon this Earth.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Dave Owens - Micro Writing Part 5




Howdy all! It's the last day of Dave Owens' takeover. It's been great having him share his expertise. For those who stick around afterwards, there'll be a telepathic meet-n-greet with the author, along with virtual horse devours and punches. Wait...that doesn't sound quite right. Hors d'oeuvres. Darn French and their spelling that doesn't match! How does that spell or derbsAnyways, let me turn it over to the Micro Master as he shares his final post, regarding markets for your Micro writing online and across the pond.


Short Fiction Publishers & Guidelines

Read the Submission Guidelines with Great Care. A mistake in submission requirements may invite instant rejection. No two publishers have the same guidelines.

Ariel Chart is an Online International Literary Journal where the faithful few still believe the Muse is not figment but rather an essential and fruitful part of Imagination. Editor/Publisher is Mark Rossi. Subscribe to the magazine and receive great short stories and poetry delivered to your inbox. Please subscribe to his podcast and you’ll be rewarded with terrific information about writing.



Chester University, UK

Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine
International Flash Fiction Association (IFFA)


Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine
http://www.chester.ac.uk/flash.magazine

Flash: The International Short-Short Story Press
http://www.chester.ac.uk/flash.fiction/press


Flash Fiction Friday – 100 Word Stories
Exactly 100 words, no more, no less.
Guidelines: https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/submissions.html

Flash Fiction Magazine
Accepts Fiction stories between 300–1000 words
The editor tells us he is not fond of sad stories.

Flash Fiction Online
Guidelines:  Flash Fiction Guidelines 

Pays professional rates. Contests pay well.


Be Well,

Dave Owens



Frank here. Thanks again Dave. 

Don't forget to follow Mark Rossi. Here is a link to episode 54 of his podcast called Strength to be Human. Try him out, see what you think.


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Dave's Micro Posts Part 4

The End of July, 2019

For today’s dose of Dave’s Wisdom concerning Micro Fiction, read an excerpt from a piece I wrote, a piece of horror, and see what magic Dave works with it.

  • Don't want to scare anyone off, but be warned. General torture ahead.


Original Hook - (185 words)She woke to pain. She felt beaten and broken from top to bottom. Her toes had throbbed all night in those sky-blue Christian Louboutin candidate pumps she had worn, so she wasn’t sure if that particular suffering was new or not. She ached inside as well. Her dress! Her gasp changed to a grimace as a sharp pain lanced through her side. She had never broken a rib, but she had suffered through many Sundays of watching football with her fiancĂ© and remembered the agony he reminisced about after every injury on the screen. She was pretty sure it was the same. She cracked open an eye, crusted with blood. The other eye wouldn’t open at all. An aroma of metal, sweat, and drying blood drowned out her Chanel No. 5. Her mouth felt sticky and dry. Her tongue worked around clumps of some viscous substance and several new gaps in her once perfect smile. She sobbed then. From the pain and the silly little thought of the years she had worn braces and headgear to get her teeth all neat in a row. Ruined.





Concise Hook – notice the story does not change. (70 words)

She awoke to awful pain. From head to toe, every inch of her body suffered from the torture she endured at the hands of her captor. She managed to force one blood crusted eye open, while her tongue searched her mouth, but her tongue found only stumps where once her beautiful teeth glistened in smile. She sobbed from the memory of the years she wore braces to create that smile.


Note: In the revision I omitted the part about the husband. More info about her captor might show a greater sense of the situation. In a longer story, the husband section might bring a greater mood to the story, but for flash fiction stick to the essentials. The writer may find many ways to revise the story, and the hook. One perfect way does not exist.

You can read the entire original short piece here.

For the student: Please read the entire original story and see what you can do to produce a more concise story.

~***~

Tune in tomorrow for our last day of Dave's takeover. Don't forget, he is asking for submissions of micro work you have done. Send it in to him! 

email: editor (AT) netsite21 (DOT) com
Facebook: Writer1947


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Dave Part 3 Flash Fiction


Howdy folks and welcome back to Dave’s Takeover. Today is Part 3. This post focuses on Flash fiction (stories composed of 1000 words or less, from Dave’s first post on Micro Writing, here). Those who missed yesterday's Part 2 can find it here. Enough from me though, let me turn it over to the Micro Master.


Micro Writing Part 3: Flash – The Core of Short Fiction

Flash Fiction occupies space in a robust market for storytellers. The list of markets, non-paying and professional grows daily.

The essential elements of great Flash fiction are not difficult to master, but the writer should consider the difficulties encountered in the process.

First, consider setting. Flash does not accommodate lengthy settings, unless the piece is about setting. Not many writers write a whole story about setting, especially when they write fiction. Hint at setting in short bursts if necessary.

Second, think structure. Most flash writers will tell you to skip all the introduction details and begin your story in the middle. The traditional middle becomes the end. Start where the true story lies, not after you’ve written a lengthy preface-like introduction. Go for the heart. Skip long expositions in narrative and focus on the crisis and characters.

[Frank here: The fancy term for starting in the middle of the story is In Medias Res, Latin for “into the middle of things”. A classic example of this type of writing is Homer’s Odyssey (link is to the entire text for those who want to brush up). For those who like modern examples, American Sniper starts with the main character already in the Middle East, behind a gun. 

In Medias Res, however, is not quite what Dave is suggesting, as it involves going back and filling in the story through a series of flashbacks or similar devices. For flash writing, starting in the middle allows you to grab your reader instantly and complete the story in 1000 words or less. Back to Dave…]


Third, envision strong characters. Since flash fiction exists in 750 to 1000 words, the writer must know the characters in depth. In order to cull the words that do not forward the story, great language is essential to the style.

Never start with weather – you’re wasting word. Perhaps you may wish to indicate weather in passing, but make it brief. Once again, you may incorporate weather into the narrative rather than describing the weather.

Keep the number of characters few. Too many characters eat space, and consume words.

Examples:
Short: John heard the distant roll of thunder.

Long/wordy: The sky darkened and rain clouds rolled in from the west. Lightning blasted the sky and thunder pounded his eardrums. <-Wasted words UNLESS the story is about thunder, etc.

Start in the middle of the story. With only 750 to 1000 words, the writer has little space to “set up” the story.

Long setup:
Danny watched the cattle from his farmhouse window. In the distance, a rider on horseback approached across the low hills. Near the gate, the rider reined his horse, dismounted, and opened the gate. The rider wore black, much like the Parson wore at church.

Short setup (start with crisis):
Danny wondered why the distant rider approached at such speed. “Bad news comes from fast riders,” his father always said.


The middle of a Flash story focuses on the crisis and how the character approaches, disregards, or solves the crisis.

The ending should answer why the character acted as he did, show why he failed, what he learned, or present an ironic answer. Please, no “Deus Ex Machina,” where a miraculous event saves the day.
Flash should be a full, self-contained story with solid Hook, solid narrative, and solid characters. Don’t forget the five senses. Show, don’t tell and avoid long passive verbs.

He was going. <-passive
He went, <-active


I plan to edit and publish a collection of flash and micro fiction in the near future. If you are interested, please feel free to send an email inquiry to me.


email:   editor (AT) netsite21 (DOT) com
Facebook:  Writer1947



 Tomorrow in Part 4, I will dissect a piece of Frank’s writing.

Good writing,
Dave


Dave is an internationally published writer, teacher, mentor, and editor.

Note: The flash non-fiction market is growing as well. If you enjoy writing non-fiction, perhaps you might consider the possibilities for your talents.