Dog Ear
Book Acquaintances (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 17 August 2017 00:00

’ve mentioned this topic in the past but recently a bout of serendipity has brought it to the fore again. Once more, we discover the solidarity of readers.

Event 1 – at the weekly get together at Juniors (not the place my wife and I go to lunch and read at on weekends but the pizza parlor the model train buddies meet at). Was sitting there talking to a couple of guys about Razor Girl, a crime novel I’d just finished. Suddenly Steve, an older guy (practical, levelheaded) tells me that he’s currently reading it too. That surprised me – I actually blinked. Funny to find that we were both reading the book pretty much at the same time.

Event 2 – A few days later, I went to drop my Mini Cooper off at the shop (water leak). Plunked down in the chair opposite the service guy, a young black fellow, friendly and outgoing. He saw my copy of The Girl on the Train, which I had heard about and had picked up in the used bookstore. Yes, he’d read it and had seen the movie, too. The book, he told me, was much better (having just ducked out to see the trailer I’d have to agree). But it was funny to talk about a book where the main character is so unlikable. But it was a fun chat, literature drawing two different people into an honest discussion.

That’s where I was going to leave this blog this morning. But then, as we were waiting in our local weekend diner (Juniors, the first one this time) for a table to clear, an older couple paused while passing us on their way out (I’d been standing there reading Girl again). Turns out the wife had read it and had not quite liked it (the author’s follow-up book was more to her liking). But we chatted about the characters and first-half situations (I showed her my mid-book progress and told her not to spoil it). But it was funny that while considering writing this when we got home, Event 3 just popped right up. Serendipity, indeed.

But I won’t be posting this until Thursday. Let’s see what other tricks the universe might play on me.

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Lower than Whale Shit (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 10 August 2017 00:00

eah, the cat. She’s hanging in there but it’s a heart-ripper all the same.

Years back, I wrote every day at work. I actually wrote Indigoin my lunch breaks, and a lot of the half-way Tubitz and Mergenstein, as well. I’ve knocked out a number of erotic collections (yeah, for sale, and dollars legitimizes anything in America) – how strange to write about heaving sweaty bodies, her fingers reaching down to play him and coax him until he was as hard as a ram, while at the next table over a woman grinds at her kids on her cell for not doing their SAT homework. Many of my seventeen years at this corporation have been spent writing.

Jogging took our the first hit on it – I started jogging with others here to get ready for the Corporate 5k. That has gone on for years now, and people being people, they all dropped out. Now it’s just me with my water bottle and cell phone jogging down the tree-lined corporate-park road (where yuppies in beamers fly so fucking fast), knocking out a couple of miles three noons a week. The leaves two days for writing.

And now the cat.

Even when I do find time, when there isn’t a lunch meeting, brown-bagger (or time-waster), there is the mood issue. My heart is leaden. I just don’t feel like writing. I’ve brought my laptop to write something – short stories or state-of-mind pieces, and munched a sandwich and stared at that white screen of virgin word. Nothing. It’s not writer’s block – I don’t get writer’s block. But I do think it’s depression. And I don’t get it because I am able to write (irony alert – I’m doing it now). But this is a duty, to my DOG EAR commitment, and that provides reason and motive enough. But fun writing, pleasure writing, the stuff that I used to do every lunch, writing five minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes past back-to-the-desk time, that’s gone. The flame seems extinguished. I can’t find my heart.

It’s really just enough to get home and hug my frail wasted cat and try not to cry. But writing for the joy and contentment of the act? Can’t do it, not anymore.

>>>BUY A BOOK FROM ME. THIS IS THE LINK TO THE AMAZON PAGES. AND WHO KNOWS IF THERE WILL EVER BE ANY MORE<<<

 
Lettered Friends (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 27 July 2017 00:00

acebook friends will know (and readers of this column have gotten a whiff of it), my cat Mookie is slowly fading. Every ounce we coax on, she slowly loses. Depression is the state of our world now, just my wife and I trying to get every last experience out of Mookie before she fades into the night.

I suffer from occasional mild depression (the writer’s badge). And there is nobody to talk this through with. Train club buddies are sympathetic but that’s as deep as it goes between guys. Work? Don’t make me laugh. I go through days in my dark corner pod without seeing a soul (and the ones I do see are the screaming damned). Bleakness lumps in my gut like lead.

But I am a writer. And I do write.

Unlike Facebook with its instant gratification (“My Cat is Dying”  yes yesyes), I do correspond with other writers. Two, in fact, as dynamically different as writers can be. Both are published, and both have that firm female pen that I lack. Jenessa is out in the upper-left side of the country, Lynn in the lower right. The former drops me an email every week or month, as appropriate. With Lynn, it’s occasional paper letters (yes, kiddies, your elders still do that). But this isn’t a chat over the office coffee pot (“Hey, BTW, how’s your cat doing. Uh huh. Uh huh. Got a meeting. Later.”). These are exchanges between writers discussing pain and loss. Both of them have told me of their own late pets, and both of them did it with firm description and elegant prose that left me there, feeling their pain as I feel my own. And they both tell me funny stories, not elevator-speech stories but interesting slice-of-life moments, cheering in the day-to-day detailing. And that gets me through this – a kind word written with a writer’s truth, one that sooths me, not through any resolution (for what resolution can there be save that?) but through the simple, open exchange of circumstance.

Yeah, it’s day to day here. Hard to write in the dark, which my life mostly is. Hard to smile. But every time I get a letter from Jenessa or Lynn, I can manage a smile. I get by with a little help from my friends.

>>>WHEN IT COMES TO PETS, THEY ACTUALLY SHOW UP IN A SORT OF SAD WAY IN EARLY RETYREMENT. IF YOU WANT SOMETHING BITTERSWEET, CHECK IT OUT. FOR SALE, DOWN THIS LINK<<< 

Last Updated on Friday, 28 July 2017 17:25
 
The best possible cargo (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 20 July 2017 00:00

m currently reading a recent SciFi tale, The Outback Stars, by Sandra McDonald. Yes, it’s part of a series (or so I figure, given the main character’s backstory) (or maybe not – I just checked and nothing is listed) but I’m not mired trying to imagine what took place before. Everything is pretty certain so it stands alone. That’s good. Nothing like coming in on the second act and not know who anyone is (or that Chekhov's gun is sitting on the mantelpiece). Yes, a good read so far – watch for the review in a week or so.

But it got me thinking – the ships in this tale are gigantic, cities for the most part with “towers” added on, all fulla cargo and colonists. And this made me think of a game a friend and I wrote, Solar Trader, available HERE. Same thing on a smaller scale – freighters haul “pods” across the solar system, the ships not much more than a bridge, engine, landing gear. The pods being self-contained and interchangeable. Quick loads, quick unloads.

So that’s the idea. A spaceship is the vehicle that does the transporting. The cargo and passengers are contained in “towers” or “pods”.

I’m sure that you’ll agree that when colonies were founded in the new world, the colonists didn’t sit down to build ships to transport their tobacco and furs back to the homeland. They didn’t muck in the woods and laboriously cut down trees, fussing them into planks, into frameworks, doing all that just to ship a cargo home. No, they’d wait for the next ship and fill its cargo hold with their goods. Why expend a great deal of labor on something that already exists and can service you? Focus on the goods to ship, not the method of shipment.

Writing is like this. Too often, writers think they are reinventing what a book is. In 999,999 times out of a million (and I’m generous here) they are not. They are relying on one of the seven known plot types. Nothing new under the sun. Rather than thinking that their book is unique, they should focus more on its actual cargo. To wit:

Are the words expressive and imaginative and metaphoric?

Are the characters suitable (and perhaps exotic) for the story?

Is the situation interesting enough for the reader to follow?

As a writer, you should be focused on the detail of your tale, maintaining a uniform air and pace for the tale you tell. Don’t think about taking the literary world by storm or coming up with the Great American Novel. Decide what it is you are going to write, how you are going to write it (voice, pace, tone, etc) and write it.

The ships, in the form of plots, publishing avenues and physical form (paper vs ereaders) – all that is done and out there. You just have to have the best possible cargo to ship.

>>>I’VE GOT SEVERAL CARGOS (I.E. BOOKS) OF MY OWN, LOOKING FOR CAPTAINS TO TRANSPORT THEM. AND YOU’LL HAVE A PLEASANT JOURNEY WITH THESE. SO RUN DOWN THIS LINK AND SEE WHAT WE’VE GOT IN OUR WAREHOUSE!<<<

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 July 2017 10:40
 
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