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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

EMPTY ROOMS IN EMPTY PEOPLE


Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow”
 - T.S. Elliot, The Hollow Men


Empty rooms in empty buildings range from Congressional buildings to churches.

Empty people with empty rooms within total even more:

senators who pass more gas than useful legislation; vain professors of philosophy; burned out mothers whose children run wild like weeds.

Derek Price, who was a British physicist, historian of science, and information scientist, discovered something about his peers in academia.

He noticed that there were always a handful of people who dominated the publications within a subject.





Price found out the following (now called Price’s law):

 50% of the work is done by the square root of the total number of people who participate in the work.

In other words:

Only a handful of people are responsible for the majority of the value creation. 

 Academics and intellectual bloggers love to dissect the world from their leather desk chairs, drinking their bottled water.

They love to explain how their perceived world works.

 But we have to live in the real world.


We don’t have the time to study all the 1419 mental models that exist.

We still have to put on our clothes every morning and work, so we can pay the bills.

But on the minefield that is life, it would benefit us to think and walk smarter ...

and if we find empty rooms within ourselves, to fill them with things and thoughts that matter.



If you’re feeling empty, you’re not alone. Many of us feel empty in different ways.

 For instance, you might feel empty because something is missing in your life,

 Or the emptiness might stem from slowly abandoning ourselves,

 not listening to our own hopes and desires.

You might abandon yourself unintentionally or unknowingly because you’re striving for perfection or others’ approval.


WHAT TO DO?



DENIAL IS NOT JUST A RIVER IN EGYPT

 Don’t beat yourself up for feeling this way. Don’t try to dismiss or change your feelings.

Whatever has happened to hollow you out has happened. A new normal has been established.

Learning to live with it will take time.




DO NOT BE A STRANGER TO YOURSELF

  Instead of trying to fill the void with drugs, alcohol, TV, computer games or anything else, look within and spend time with yourself,

 Carve out time to explore your own desires, fears, hopes and dreams. This helps you create more meaning in your daily life and your future.




BE YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND

 It’s important to be self-compassionate.

Whether you are experiencing difficult relationships, losses or feeling a lack of purpose or meaning,

you are worthy of living a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Give yourself permission to find a path to it.

 
LOOK UP - CONNECT TO ANOTHER HUMAN BEING


Walk into a lunch room, down a street -- sit and observe in a mall.


Everyone is looking down into their cell phone's screens. 

But our spirits are filled when we look into another's eyes and see we matter to them.

No wonder then that our cell phone generation feels so hollow.

We have succeeded in amassing more and more things, but we have less and less joy, less and less empathy.


WHAT DO YOU THINK?


And now, for a little laughter: 

Monday, February 11, 2019

THE NEW THOUGHT POLICE


There are times when I feel 
as if I've stumbled into 
an episode of BLACK MIRROR.



I watch the governor of Virginia say his new proposed legislation will allow 

a baby to be fully delivered, and then the mother and doctor can discuss ending the child's life!

All the while the two women beside him nod sagely in agreement. 



Once out of the mother's body, the child has become this nation's newest citizen and

 has the legal right to be protected against silly nuisances like ... murder.

 I have become belatedly cognizant of 
Sensitivity Readers.


Welcome to the 21st century and 
"sensitivity readers,"
 people hired by writers and publishers, 
especially of young-adult titles,

 to vet manuscripts to make sure things are, ah,
 politically correct, "authentic," and, especially,
 inoffensive.

Is there any sane reason why a small group of experts 

should be able to claim that it alone can validate a manuscript 

as authentic and real for potential protesters who will claim that 

this or that book must be pulled from shelves, heavily rewritten, or just not published at all?

How many Sensitivity Readers will a book have to go through?

A black critic won't know what a Native American critic might find offensive 

or a Latino critic 

or an Asian critic 

or a Polish critic 

or a Russian critic 

or a Samoan critic.

You get the point

 Take Laura Moriarity.

Her book, American Heart, takes place in a dystopian America 

where Muslims are rounded up and sent to detainment camps.

The narrator is a white girl and even though the publisher and Moriarity worked with sensitivity readers 

and the book received a coveted and rare starred review from Kirkus, 

an intense, immediate online uproar about the book's basic premise erupted. 


The original review, written by a Muslim woman, called it "suspenseful, thought-provoking and touching." 

An online mob, which presumably had not yet read the unpublished book, 

saw it differently, as an intolerable "white savior narrative" and worse.

 Kirkus took down the review and replaced it with a contrite statement from its editor in chief, Claiborne Smith, 

who noted that the review, which was written by a Muslim woman, was being re-evaluated


When the revised version was posted, 
it was more critical, 
and had been stripped of its star.


 Take Amélie Wen Zhao’s Blood Heir


There was a nasty, vicious Twitter "Pile-On" for this poor author.

Her fantasy series, a loose retelling of Anastasia  

with a diverse cast of characters and a hefty dose of blood magic, 

sold at auction in a high six-figure deal with Delacorte. 


A series of tweets, 
without accompanying evidence, 
 accused the author of 
alleged screenshotting-with-intent
of authors who disliked her book.

A smattering of one-star reviews 
cropped up on Miss Zhao’s page.



Miss Zhao put a slave auction scene in her book,  
in which a black character was killed.

Then, the poor woman was called racist.

.
On January 30th Miss Zhao 
 called for her own book to be canceled.

We now live in 
the Tyranny of the Touchy,
where accusation alone
is enough to convict.


In my own book set in 1946 New Orleans, I described the deplorable attitude of many whites towards blacks.


Yet, I also included Orson Welles impassioned advocating for equal rights for blacks 

when it was very unpopular to do so.

I so wish he had finished his film, "The Story of Jazz."  

He'd signed contracts from Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. 

Armstrong was cast as himself, Ellington was to have supervised the score.

But Mr. Welles, the genius that he was, was barely able to create in his own time, 

much less have been allowed to create in ours ...  

where Mel Brooks classic movies would be still-born before even reaching the screen.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE TIMES IN WHICH WE LIVE?

Saturday, February 9, 2019

THE BEST WAY


To get People NOT to LISTEN

Is to talk about YOURSELF





1.) People want to hear about something that will help THEM not you.

Write a post on how to connect to a larger segment of the internet and readers will flock to your blog.

Write a novel that speaks to THEIR dreams, hurts, insecurities, and yearnings  ... and people will buy your book ... if they hear of it.

Your horn will sound louder when someone else toots it than when you do!


2.) INSTAGRAM

People aren't on Instagram to find books but to connect to like-minded, fun people.


3.) FACEBOOK

2007 -- oh, those were the days! 

You posted something to your personal page or your Fan/Author page, 

and everyone who was your Friend or Follower saw it. 

Since then, however, Facebook has recognized the error of allowing us to speak to our friends for free, 

and now, of my Fans, only 3-10% see any given post on the Author page 

that they have chosen to follow for the express purpose of reading my posts. 

 If I pay $20, I could bump that number up to 30%. 

I would have better luck randomly
 mailing postcards to strangers!




4.) PUSHING

SOCIAL MEDIA pushes ...

And NO ONE LIKES TO BE PUSHED into liking a movie, liking a candidate, or BUYING A BOOK.


5.) PULLING

 I want a book to tug me into wanting to read it.

Remember what I said of others sounding louder than you tooting your own horn?  

If I see an evocative cover and read a fascinating hook, I am pulled to read that book.


6.) FISHING

What if, as you fished, dozens of fish leapt out of the lake and kept slapping you in the face?

That's what it feels like to me when I go to Tweetdeck ... 

dozens of authors leaping out at me to

shill their books like barkers in front of a carnival show.

How about you?


WHAT TO DO?

1.) CHILL AND BEGIN TO WRITE YOUR NEXT BOOK

I just started on my next book: 

WITHOUT MERCY OR NAME

It is focusing me on the one thing I can control:

Writing the best, most entertaining book I can.


2.) BE KIND TO YOUR FELLOW BLOGGERS WITHOUT REGARD TO WHETHER THEY CAN HELP YOU OR NOT.

People who are smart enough to write a book are smart enough to see when you try to leverage them.

Besides, none of us have enough true friends, right?

3.) REMEMBER FEW FAMOUS WRITERS KNOW WHAT MADE THEM BESTSELLERS.

And the few I read who said they did were wrong about why I liked them!  :-)

4.) HAVE FUN in your writing.

It will color the tone of your work and splash over into the minds of your readers.


OH, AND BUY MY BOOK!


JUST KIDDING!

But I won't whine if you do,
and I might if you don't!


Friday, February 8, 2019

A surreal adventure


C. Lee McKenzie has done me 
the great good service
 of doing the first review 
of RAZOR VALENTINE


What did she say?


In Razor Valentine you enter 1947 during Carnival where the natural laws don’t exist and where death is a dark and dangerous beauty.


In this world, unlikely people struggle to live and love. Death is always imminent and confusion is queen.

Many characters return from previous stories to weave their way into this newest surreal adventure. 



And there are some new, but extraordinary characters based on real life celebrities of the 40s. Yeomans captures their essence in this bizarre tale.

Cesar Romero on board the USS Cavalier_1943
On October 12, 1942, he voluntarily enlisted in the
U.S. Coast Guard and saw action in the 
Pacific Theater of Action.
participating in the invasions of
Tinian and Saipan.

 Movie Still from 1941

Caesar Romero comes to life as the suave, sophisticated actor he actually was on the Hollywood screen decades ago. 

(Major James Stewart in 1943)

You can almost hear Jimmy Stewart drawl his way through the story, and the author pays him the respect he earned in real life during the war years.

As always, a lot of fresh and often humorous images lace the story and Yeomans does an elegant dance with the English language. Something I always appreciate. 
(4 out of 5 Stars) 

Thank you so much. Lee!

Monday, February 4, 2019

FIRST 28_ IWSG & WEP Post



We insecure writers have to stick together. 

I know insecure: my latest book is thick with cyber-cobwebs!

It's cheap, ah, inexpensive, with 13 interior pictures and everything!  :-)

The IWSG helps all of us to persevere.  


 So I am shouting out the WEP February writing challenge in which the IWSG is participating.

HOW?

Letting you guys see my own WEP post a bit early to whet your interest to join in.

 So meet Hazy:


FIRST TWENTY-EIGHT
{995 words}

High School is a spork.  

 It's a crappy spoon and a crappy fork. In the end, it’s only an exercise in keeping your temper while what you want slips away.


Most people call me Hazy as if it were original with them.  Mother never has, not even in her worst “Dirty Thirties.”  

 What are those?  I wish I didn’t know myself.  I’ll tell you later.


Mother always calls me “Hon.” Unless she’s sizzling furious, then she calls me …


“Hazel Lee Hunnicutt!”


Jeez, the feces just kamikazed into the fan … again.


I eased into the front room to face the lioness without one chair or whip.  Not that it would have mattered.  

 When the caveman looked up at the lightning in the skies and thought MOTHER Nature, he must have had a mother like mine.



But the only home I’ve ever known is Mother.  I would deal with it. 


She was in this alone, too.  I bet I came with no book of instructions. 

Father left the day I was born.  He must have used up all his cojones with the sperm deposit that sparked me.


Mother was shaking her cell phone in a fist. 


“I’ve just had to beg … beg! …  Dean Reynolds of Laughton Academy to accept you back!”


What she said in one of her “Dirty Thirties” and decided not to say was: 

“After I had to sell my wedding ring to pay for your tuition!”


That stung.  I didn’t know that when I smarted off to the school counselor. 


Her voice sank to that whisper I dreaded.  “What did you say to the counselor?”


“S-She asked me what I made at my last school.”


Mother groaned, “Oh, God.”


 “I told her: ‘mostly mistakes and inappropriate comments.’”


She lunged at me.  I didn’t move.




You see, I’m a freak … not in body but in mind.  I see ahead in time 30 seconds.  Think that’s cool?

It sucks.


Time isn’t a river.   

It flows into a thousand tributaries all shaped by the erratic decisions of unfocused minds.  I see 30 variations of the same springboard moment.


No cell phones for me: I hear 30 different replies.  There’s no way for me to know which one to answer.


I know what I must look like.  I’m keeping track of what’s happening, what’s likely to happen, deciding what isn’t likely to happen, all in a window of a few seconds. 


I stiffened as Mother’s knuckles rapped the top of my head.  “Oh, Hon, I know you put up a wall of snark to keep sane.”


She sighed, “But tomorrow is my first day teaching at the university.  I have to impress my Dean just as much as you need to impress yours.”


 She said, “People make up their minds about us after the first 28 days of interaction …”


(Mother’s a psychologist so she uses words like that with a straight face.)


“We have under a month to win over those who could make life … hard for us.  You understand?”


“No Do-Over’s.”


Mother patted my cheek, murmuring, 

“This is it for us, Hon.  I spent the last penny of … our savings on your school uniform.  I could only afford the one. Take care of it.  Play it safe, hear?”


“I will.” 


I swear at the time I meant it.


The next day I trudged into school with all the joy of going to my execution.   

No matter the high school, your status depends on who you’re able to persecute. 

 I was usually the first rung on everyone’s ladder.


Walking into a crowded hallway was true hell what with thirty different views of each moment to 
 navigate through. 

 Oh, God, let me not walk into anybody important or worse into …


 “Crazy Hazy!”


God must hate me.


The Elite Petites from junior high: Beverly and her two cohorts, Stacy and Ciss.   

What sneezing was to surgeons, Beverly Philips was to me: not life-threatening but extremely annoying. 
 
Beware girls in threes.  They were all so tanned they looked like 3 Rotisserie chickens in pleated skirts.


Beverly gave me a glare that would have cowed lesser girls … much lesser … like 3rd graders. 

 “Oh, Hazy, what an almost adequate uniform your mother could barely afford.”


“Bev, can you die of constipation? I ask because I’m worried about how full of shit you are.”


 In a “Dirty Thirty,” I saw her lunge, ripping my jacket.  I twisted aside, thumping into a tall man.  I looked up.

Dean Reynolds.  He undressed me with a disapproving eye-caress.  Obviously, I wasn’t his type.  I was so disappointed.


“Honeycutt, you’re late for Gym.  A bad start.”


In another “Dirty Thirty,” I heard Bev say, 

“That’s right, Old Man.  You better back me up.  In my locker I have copies of your trophy photos of our intimate consultation as you called it.  I bet your wife would just love to receive those in the mail.”


Even Bev wasn’t stupid enough to choose to say it.  What she did say as she started to unlock her locker was to me: 


“I’ll see you in Gym class.  Too bad your uniform won’t survive it.”


I lost it, starting for her throat.  I pulled up short, “seeing” Dean Reynolds expelling me for attacking a fellow student … just like Bev planned.


Bev winked, confident that she would get rid of me yet.  The eddies of students rushing to classes swirled about me.  What to do?


 I smiled wide. 


 I’d seen the combination to Bev’s locker in that last “Dirty Thirty.”  I let the hall go empty.  I walked to Bev’s locker. 


With the photographs in my inside jacket pocket, I turned to go see the Nurse.   

Female trouble I would say.  It would be … for Bev and the Dean … after I did a little Show and Tell for Mother when she picked me up.

Twenty-eight days to make a lasting impression?  I’d do it in the next twenty-eight minutes.



Want more of Hazy?  

$2.99 Kindle; $7.97 Paperback
 
In the lagniappe short story at the end of RAZOR VALENTINE is a 6,000 word adventure from her sophomore year: 

One by one the girls of Laughton Academy are disappearing without a trace 

and Hazy’s mother fears her daughter will be next.   

The bad news: her mother is right.