So you can read my books

Monday, July 27, 2015



Laura Ingalls Wilder

First published in her mid-sixties, Wilder is probably best known for her "Little House" series. 

There are museums dedicated to her, schools named after her, and even a TV show based on her books. 

So why did Wilder start so late? 

It took years of hardship and struggle before she came to a place in her life 

that allowed her to focus meaningfully on her stories, with help and encouragement from her daughter.

 When experience and creativity combine, stunning stories of depth and love result.

Raymond Chandler
In 1932, at age forty-four, Chandler decided to become a detective fiction writer 
after losing his job as an oil company executive during the Great Depression.
Chandler published seven novels during his lifetime (an eighth in progress at his death was completed by Robert B. Parker) -- all of which have been made into movies.

 "The Big Sleep," his first novel, launched a successful and popular career. 
He is best known for his mystery novels about hard-boiled detective Philip Marlowe. 
During his career, he won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America and wrote scripts for such films as "Double Indemnity" and "The Blue Dahlia."
 {Photo courtesy of Andrew Reeves-Hall}
Richard Adams
This English author made a career in the British Civil Service, 
and he did not publish his first book, "Watership Down," until his early fifties.
 Like the famed "The Wind in the Willows," "Watership Down" began as a story he told his children. 
 He spent two years writing the manuscript and was turned down by multiple publishers before finding Rex Collings. 
The book has sold over 50 million copies worldwide.
Mr. Adams gives me hope that one day THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS will become popular.

James A. Michener
In his youth, this author traveled around the country by boxcar, worked in carnival shows, and visited all but three of the states before he was twenty. 
He then went on to a career in academia and textbook editing. He could have stopped there, but he didn't. 
Michener's first book wasn't published until he was forty, 
which makes him a young whippersnapper compared to the other authors on this list! 
"Tales of the South Pacific" won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was later re-imagined as a Broadway musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein. 
 Michener worked on over forty books during his career, writing vigorously until he died at age ninety.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


I awoke from a deep sleep to a horrible bellowing noise, 

followed by the sound of a book being angrily tossed down,

 followed by a heavy sigh as it was picked up again,

Ever try to sleep while a ghost is grumbling in the chair next to you?  

My kitten, Midnight, had burrowed completely under the pillow I place out for him on my bed.

Mark sighed, "Poor Jem is dead ...

 and I reckon he is a mite glad of that fact.  

Why, I suspect he took one look at these pages and decided Dead was the thing to be."

He shook his head at me, 

"I can imagine Jem, Boo Radley and Dill are all off somewhere now 

toasting marshmallows by a campfire in the night and thanking the stars that they are no part of this train wreck.

 “Look,” Jem is saying, “this book includes the phrase ‘she would have pondered over the meaninglessness of silent, austere beauty’ ... but not as a joke. 

Why is this being published? 

It’s not even  E. L. James ... although Scout's Uncle Jack slaps her in the face and slaps us with page after page of justifying racism.”

"To make money?" I helpfully supplied. 

He shot me a look that Custer must have grown very tired of before his last haircut.

I yawned, "So what you are saying is Go Set a Watchman is bad?" 

Mark made a face.  "Oh, there's a great book hiding deep within these pages ... it's called To Kill A Mockingbird,"

"Oh, you mean it's not a sequel?"

"No, son, nor a prequel.  It's a rough draft.  

And no self-respecting fool shows his rough draft anymore than he'd parade around in his long-johns!"

I sighed, "Most great books are preceded by a bad one, sir."

"Course they are!  And you hide that first book away like poor old Mrs. Bates in that hotel attic."

Mark flipped the pages in front of him. 

 "Why, Roland, I've a taken a magnifying glass to the first 100 pages and still can't find nary a clue of a plot.  I don't think even Holmes could."

Mark blew out a smoke ring.  "And poor old Calpurnia ... what a sad difference from Mockingbird --

 all radicalized by the NAACP.  Grown up Scout thinks of her: 

 “She sat there in front of me and she didn’t see me, she saw white folks. She raised me, and she doesn’t care.”

Mark chuckled, "That's all right, Calpurnia ... I was reading her, and I didn't much care for her neither."

 He shook his head.  

"I admit grown up Scout takes a mite getting used to.  I swear she goes on and on about the drip, drip, drip of her spilled ice cream until I wanted to do a Uncle Jack on her face!"

Mark sighed, "And then she wheels on poor Atticus, crying, 'You did that!  You did that as sure as you were sitting there."

Mark rolled his eyes, "That's right, you terrible ogre, Atticus, you made your grown daughter spill her ice cream."

"It's really that bad?" I said.

"Worse, son.  Why when she gets to pontificating about Mr. Stone and setting a watchman to tell her what's right and wrong, to tell her what's the meaning of the faces she sees, to lead her by the hand in life ...."

Mark rubbed his face angrily, "I nearly set fire to the blamed book, and then, I remembered the Nazis and the librarians who did that to Huck Finn."

He shook the book as if it were in need of fluffing.  

"The publishers knew this was bad ... and that it would sell a million copies.  Money was the only reason it was put out."

Mark grumbled, "Watchman just ain't bad, son, it is the Jar Jar Binks of good literature!"

The ghost of Mark Twain thanks Alexandra Petri of the ComPost blog for inspiration.

Friday, July 24, 2015

CHERISHED BLOGFEST_Where your treasure lies

 This weekend, Damyanti, Dan Antion , Paul Ruddock, Peter Nena, and Sharukh Bamboat are hosting the Cherished Blogfest. 

Participants are asked to write about a particularly cherished object, and why it's so special.

 CHERISHED LINKY LIST: CLICK HERE to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

“Anything that just costs money is cheap.”
- John Steinbeck

“No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. 

 There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side ... or you don't.
- Stephen King

Survivor Duck rests on an honored spot on my mantle.

Once I was all alone in a deserted Louisiana coastal city smack in the path of a category 5 hurricane 

(that's winds over 155 miles per hours)

My supervisor, a few brave co-workers, and I labored all morning to get rare blood to neighboring hospitals.  The winds were frightening.  

In all my efforts, I noticed a rubber duck floating by the back door.

(The water even then was ankle-deep)

 The call went out to evacuate the city.  I had been wolfing down a lunch sandwich at home. 

 I went down to my car in the apartment parking lot to find all the gas had been siphoned out of my gas tank.

And the gas pumps were all closed, the power out.

Freddie, my friend and supervisor, called at that moment asking about me, saying he had a feeling to check in on me.

And together, he and I went to Baton Rouge to work long, long weeks delivering rare blood

 from that bloated city to far-ranging hospitals, even to the outskirts of New Orleans.

I had lost all I owned in a house fire years before, and now, there I was living in a motel filled with hollow-eyed survivors, 

delivering blood past frightened young men in uniforms clutching guns with fear-filled eyes.

I had saved my cat and the clothes on my back.  That was it.  

To know nothing of how your city is faring while delivering blood to cities ravaged by hurricanes is sobering.

I did not know from night to night if I would have a place to stay or if my city still stood.

I came back to my city to find it like a set from a post-apocalyptic movie.  

Trees, houses, stores, landmarks -- so many gone or terribly damaged.

 My apartment complex had been trashed.  I had little left. How could I go on?

I limped back to the rear of the blood center to help salvage what little could be saved.

And there was Survivor Duck wedged up against the back door where last I had seen him.

I smiled. 

 It was as if the Father said: "If this little rubber duck can survive this madness, so can you."

So when things get dark, I look up on the mantle of my new apartment and smile.  

Me, Survivor Duck, and The Father will see things through somehow.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


“Once you see the boundaries of your mind, they are no longer the boundaries of your mind.”
 - Wolf Howl

"What if when you die, they ask "How was heaven?" 
~Victor Standish

 "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."
 ~Anaïs Nin

Half of your life experience is over by age 7.  No lie.

 Have you ever observed that time seems to be going by faster as you get older?

 There's a reason that one summer seems to stretch out forever when you're a kid,

 but zips by before you know it when you're 30. 

That reason is perspective.

I am ancient enough to have seen THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK at the theater.  

As I was leaving the theater, an eight year old boy was bawling about the fate of Han Solo.

His mother comforted him by saying the next movie would show what happened.

He exploded, "But that will take three damn years!"

It struck me funny.  But think on it.  

Three years to him was more than a third of his life.  

That's quite a chunk of time to ask a little fella to wait, isn't it?

 When you're one year old, a year is literally forever to you -- it's all the time that you've ever known.

 It means that waiting 24 days for Christmas at age 5 literally feels like waiting a year at age 54.

 It might also explain why kids on car trips are always asking that annoying question, "Are we there yet?" 

A car journey actually feels longer to kids than it does to adults.

  If you measure your life this way, in "perceived" time rather than actual time, half of your "perceived life" is over by age 7!

We perceive time by comparing it with our life span: 

The apparent length of a period of time is proportional to our life span itself.

 Another school of the thought is that the passage of time speeds up with familiarity. 

As we get older, things become more familiar to us, and time slips by as a result.

Then, there is the man who lost his memory by having a root canal. 

 No lie again.

 The man, called only “WO” by his physicians, 

woke up on the morning of March 14, 2005, at his military post in Germany. 

 In the afternoon he went to his dentist for a routine root canal treatment. 

 Every day since, no matter what the actual date happens to be, 

WO wakes up thinking it’s the morning of March 14, 2005, believing he is still in Germany 

and that this is the day of his dentist appointment. His life is something of a “Groundhog Day” in reverse 

 The main thing that continues to captivate and confuse doctors most is this single, inexplicable fact: 

There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with his brain.

Yet, he cannot retain a memory for longer than 90 minutes

 (the length of time a temporary memory takes to become permanent.)

 He is completely dependent on an electronic diary 

that reminds him of what he’s doing and what has happened in the 10 years since his last new memory. 

Every morning he checks his computer for a list of life events he should be aware of

 — marriages, deaths, his children’s birthdays.

 Some of them, like the loss of a beloved pet, hit him hard for in his mind, he is hearing them for the first time.

Can you imagine living like that?


It was a busy night at Meilori's.  Off to my far right, the ghosts of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt were arguing over Donald Trump's latest "speech."

Off to my far left, the ghost of Al Capone snorted to the ghost of Benedict Arnold,

"That Beiber runt ain't important enough to be deported!  He just needs a spanking!"

My poker table was full.  Mickey Spillaine looked over his cards at me. 

"Kid, the first line of your book gets the readers to buy it.  The last one gets them to buy your next one."

Hemingway scowled at him. 

"As if you would know.  To call you an author is like calling a woodpecker a carpenter."

Mickey snorted,

"I'm not an author, I'm a writer, that's all I am. Authors want their names down in history; I want to keep the smoke coming out of the chimney."

Hemingway glared at him.

"What a horrible commentary on the reading habits of Americans to think that before J K Rowling, you had seven of the top ten bestsellers of all time."

Mickey grinned crooked, "You're lucky that I didn't write three more books."

The ghost of Mark Twain snorted and asked Mickey, "What's this I hear about your picture and Hemingway's having a duel at a restaurant."

Mickey shook his head. 

"Every summer I went down to Florida on treasure hunts, and there's this great restaurant called the Chesapeake and they had a picture of Hemingway behind the bar.

So one day the owner asks if she could have a picture of me to put up there, and she puts one there.

 One day Hemingway comes in and sees my picture and says 'what's he doing next to me? Either take his down or take mine down', so they took his down and he never came back to that restaurant."

Hemingway laid his cards down, "We could settle this like men."

The ghost of John Steinbeck sighed and said, "You can never tell about people, even their ghosts, Hemingway."

He rubbed his chin.  "You remember Audie Murphy, the most decorated American solider, who became an actor in Westerns?

A patrolman once told me, he stopped a car on 101 in California, and Audie comes out of his car, dark, middle of the night, with a rifle.

 The patrolman said,

"I saw his eyes, he looked nuts, and before he could do anything I say, 'Audie, how're you doing' and stuck out my hand, and he stopped, and then stuck out his hand."

Steinbeck went on,  "He said it was like looking at death's eyes, and he was a sweet looking guy, like a little kid, but Audie'd been shot too many times."

Hemingway said low, "You disparaged my fondness for bullfighting in print, didn't you?"

Mark Twain chuckled, "Hemingway, you were a great reporter, but you just flat got carried away with all the other stuff, like this bullfighting."

Mark puffed on his cigar. 

"Myself, I'm always on the side of the bull.  In fact, I always hope the bull plows the stuffing out of that crazy guy in the clown suit down there.

I don't like to see animals hurt, not deliberately. If they're putting the bull out there, don't stick those daggers in him first."

Steinbeck rumbled,

"I know about bullfighting, Hemingway.  I know about the underweight bulls, the sandbags on the kidneys, the shaved horns and sometimes the needle of barbiturate in the shoulder as the gate swings open."

He sighed,  "There was also that moment of what they call truth, a sublimity, a halo of the invincible human spirit and unspeakable, beautiful courage."

His lips curled, 
"And then doubt began to creep in. The matadors I knew had souls of Toledo steel for the bull, but they were terrified of their impresarios, pulp in the hands of their critics, and avaricious beyond belief."

He shook his head, 

"Perhaps they gave the audience a little courage of a certain kind, but not the kind the audience and the world needed and needs. I have yet to hear of a bull-fighter who has taken a dangerous political stand, who has fought a moral battle unless its horns were shaved."

Hemingway looked close to exploding, and I hastily said, "Mr.Steinbeck, do you have a word of advice for my writing friends?"

Steinbeck smiled wryly as if knowing what I was doing, but only said, "I have written a great many stories, and I still don't know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances."

He laughed softly and said,

"It is not so very hard to judge a novel after it is written, but, after many years, to start a novel still scares me to death. I will go so far as to say that the writer who is not scared is happily unaware of the remote and tantalizing majesty of the medium."

"Bah!" snapped Hemingway.  "That is no help.  Roland's friends want concrete steps.  Here are three:

1: Always stop for the day while you still know what will happen next.

There is a difference between stopping and foundering.  If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck. That is the most valuable thing I can tell your friends so try to remember it.

2: Never think about the story when you’re not working.

That way your subconscious will work on it all the time.  But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.”

3: Be Brief.
I am contemptuous of writers who never learned how to say no to a typewriter.

It wasn’t by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics."

I looked to Mark Twain, "And you, sir?'

He beamed and laid his cards face up, "Twenty-one!"

Mickey groaned, "We're playing poker, Clemens."

He pouted, "You mean I've been dealing off the bottom for nothing?"
Don't miss Mark Twain's adventures in Dreamtime and in 1895 Egypt:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


It is not a new concept.

The Pharisees did it 2000 years ago.   

The church was scandalized in the 15th century 

when  priests were caught selling what is know as indulgences (basically no punishment for sin).

Now, it has entered a new phase.

I'm not talking about folks like Kenneth Hagin, who had to become famous the hard way over 33 years 

by preaching on the radio, then television, and going on to start his own magazine and college ...

  and then writing about his experiences as an ill 15 year old boy in I Went to Hell.

Roberts Liardon (named after Oral Roberts) at 17 wrote of his translation to Heaven at the age of eight.  

I Saw Heaven has sold 1.5 million copies.
by preaching on the radio, then appearing on television, then starting a magazine, and then founding Rhema Bible Training College and its associate programs. - See more at:
had had to become famous the hard way: by preaching on the radio, then appearing on television, then starting a magazine, and then founding Rhema Bible Training College and its associate programs. - See more at:
had had to become famous the hard way: by preaching on the radio, then appearing on television, then starting a magazine, and then founding Rhema Bible Training College and its associate programs. - See more at:
had had to become famous the hard way: by preaching on the radio, then appearing on television, then starting a magazine, and then founding Rhema Bible Training College and its associate programs. - See more at:

Liardon's father had left the family when the boy was just a toddler. 

 To imagine a Heaven with a six foot tall, accepting Jesus, golden curbs adorned with humming flowers, and clean crystal streets is understandable.

Since then, however, the formula has been often repeated:

Visit Heaven, write a book, get money.

There has been a flood of such titles:

The Day I Died, My Time in Heaven, My Journey to Heaven, To Heaven and Back,

 A Glimpse of Heaven, Heaven is for Real, A Vision From Heaven, and Waking Up in Heaven.

Poor Alex Malarkey, the quadriplegic boy who co-wrote The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, has recanted his story. 

His brave mother has tried to get the book pulled since 2011.  

Alex has written on his own blog 

that he was a six year old trying to get comfort and attention at a terrifying time.

"People should just read the Bible which is enough."

Now that is a brave young man.  

He is sixteen and totally dependent on others.  

His book has sold 10 million copies before Tyndale Press pulled it in late January of this year.

My heart goes out to Alex and his crusading mother, Beth.  Pray for them.

These tales of supposed trips to Heaven prey on people in the most vulnerable way, 

treating death in a superficial, deceptive fashion.

Paul of Tarsus wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:9:

"But, as it is written, “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him."

Or as the ghost of Mark Twain translates it:

 "If you can describe Heaven, pilgrim, you ain't been there."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

WHY YOU SHOULDN'T WRITE_ghost of Mark Twain

Humble genius that I am, I sometimes have my ghost teeth throb as I stroll down the aisles of bookstores.

I see one more cover with a bare chest of a fella without his head attached, 

I am going to become a poltergeist I swear!

And what's this you call "Flash Fiction?"

Why old Thomas Wolfe claimed surprise at a party that James Thurber called himself a writer since all he did were articles in The New Yorker.

Seems he felt that prose under 50,000 words was just doodling in words, don't you know?

Of course Old Fitzgerald told Wolfe that he was a notorious "Putter-in" whilst he was a "Taker-out!"

Now, Faulkner is nigh as humble as myself.  Whilst alive, he put together a list of the 5 best writers of the 20th Century.

Wolfe he put first.  Himself he placed second (snort).  Dos Passos he made third, followed by Hemingway and then Steinbeck.

Four of those five were putters-ins.  

Mencken told me that any soul that could think clearly could write clearly.  

But I do not think clearly.  My mind is such a hodge-podge that my thoughts run into one another all the time. 

 Must be where my migraines come from!

I hated parties so I used the time to write in my head.  

Why, I remember the time Livy tugged on my arm and said, "Youth!  Will you stop writing while a guest is talking to you?"

Suzy, my little girl, was once asked by a friend if I was taken ill.  

"No.  Papa is merely writing in his head again!"

But I digress ...

I started out to tell you why you shouldn't write:

1.)  You Ain't Good At It

Just because you can write doesn't mean you should!  

Why, I can sing up a storm ... and sometimes get a shoe thrown at me like a yowling stray cat for my efforts.

Now, I know you can write physically but can you make the words sing?

 Does your prose have that certain something? 

Are you gifted at showing not telling, or telling not showing, 

or creating an entire world that didn’t exist before that is born again when someone else reads your work?

{But here's the kicker: you won't know until you try.}

2.) It's Too Damn Hard

Think digging ditches is hard? At least you know when you are done.

 Writing is thankless work.

 It is like housework. It is like laundry. It is like a politician's lies. There's no end.

 There is always more.

 People may tell you that you are good, but you won’t believe them, 

or you will believe them too much, or you will not know who to believe, least of all yourself.

But if all that don't slow you down, then maybe you have the makings of a writer after all.

3.)  Money Is the Fool's Gold of Writing.

Writing is the fastest way to get broke I know.  Oh, but you will be the J K Rowling exception to that rule. 

Odds are against you, children.  

Writing is a roulette wheel, and it lands on every number but the one you picked.

If after all this, you still burn to be a writer ...

Why, all I can say is that you are a damn fool ...

like me ... 

Welcome to the club.

Monday, July 20, 2015


{Image Courtesy of Gage Skidmore}


Preferably someone you can't possibly defend yourself against.

Donald Trump is mad at the government of Mexico because he won a lawsuit against former business partners,

 but can't collect thanks to the country's "Corrupt Court System" 

In February, Trump called for a boycott of the country.

That's the way!  Get a whole country gunning for you: a certain way to get attention!


 Say John McCain is "a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured."

Bizarre?  Sure, but people will tune in to see what other wild and crazy things you will write.


 Now, a less experienced strategist would simply say something rude or offensive and then cross his arms and pout.

 But learn from the master.  Trump is the greatest, classiest strategist, with enough experience to know better. 

So right after he calls Mexican immigrants rapists, he adds, "[a]nd some, I assume, are good people." 

Right after he says that John McCain is "not a war hero," he says, "I believe, perhaps, he's a war hero."

Can that possibly fool anyone?


This is America, country of the sound-byte diminished memory span.

 Former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkinson determined that coverage of the above event was flawed 

because Trump several times said McCain was a war hero.

 It's right there above! 

He "is a war hero," Trump said!

 (Because he was captured.) 

 That's like movie trailers that only highlight the "non-stop thrill ride" part of a review 

calling a movie a "non-stop thrill ride of horrible garbage."

So remember: 

Be outrageous, modify last thing, assured that the last thing written will be the most likely retained.


 After he'd been battered for a week for defending his incorrect comments on immigration, Trump released a statement  

 insisting that he was talking about the Mexican government all along, not regular immigrants.

Stick by your guns ... and when it gets too hot ... simply switch subjects.

How could you be so misunderstood you write? 

 Quote yourself, adding the necessary parenthetical 

while ignoring the fact that you needed to clarify your own quote!

It will totally get visitors to bay at the moon and send your visitor numbers to the lunar surface too!


There will always be certain  ... unique people out there who will back any outrageous statements.  

Jump on them to justify your remarks.

Trump used his increase in the polls as a defense of the immigration comments. 

 "The fact is that I’ve made a point, the point has now been accepted," he told Fox Business last week. 

"It was very hot a week ago, and now everybody’s saying 'Trump is right.'"


 "I will say what I want to say," Trump told ABC's Martha Raddatz on Sunday,

 "and maybe that’s why I’m leading in the polls 

because people are tired of hearing politicians and pollsters telling the politicians exactly what to say."

And if you write with conviction your outrageous statements, many who are tired of hearing the rote, knee-jerk politically correct cliches,

 might howl at you for what you write but be drawn back by the sense that at least you are speaking your heart.