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Saturday, August 1, 2015

WHY LET TRUTH SPOIL THE FUN?



There's an elephant sitting in the middle of all talk show sets that no one is mentioning.

I mean have you wondered why Tom Cruise hasn't been asked once about Scientology?

HBO's documentary, Going Clear, accused Scientology and its 2nd most important member of some pretty horrendous things.

The clergy is called the Sea Org

and Mr. Cruise has spent countless hours out on the Sea Org base where

 — on that same base where he has a special chateau — 

there’s double wide trailers called the Hole

which is a kind of re-education camp where people have been incarcerated for years. 

Sleeping on the floor on bedrolls with ants crawling around, abused physically, 

made to lick the floor or the toilet with their tongue. 

It’s unbelievable degradation.

 Mr. Cruise has  been the beneficiary of this unbelievably low-paid Sea Org labor. 

These people are being paid forty cents an hour and they’re tricking out Cruise’s cars.

 Yet Mr. Cruise hasn’t been able to answer or dodge any questions about the film —

 because he hasn’t been asked about it at all.

Reporters are banned from asking Cruise about his dating life or Scientology. 

Observe the  strangeness of “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, a master at calling out hypocrisy, 

interviewing Mr. Cruise this week and completely gliding over the topic, instead bantering about workout routines. 

That puzzle, of course, is quickly solved by the fact 

that Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures (which produces “Mission Impossible”) are both owned by Viacom

 It’s the same reason why embattled NBC Universal stars want to stick to the NBC’s “Today” show — 

shared corporate overlords make these situations much easier.

Take Ben Affleck at Comic Con mere days following his high-profile divorce,

 knowing that he wouldn’t have to do anything except talk about “Batman v. Superman.” 

50 Cents stopped by The Nightly Show  

and never had to answer any questions about his recent $5 million judgment for releasing a couple’s sex tape.

 Sometimes people try to rage against this behind-the-scenes system, but it generally backfires for everyone.

Take Chris Brown shattering a window in the "Good Morning America" dressing room 

after Robin Roberts apparently broke an agreement and asked about his domestic violence against Rihanna.

No anger management issues there, right?

 The goal, the star promoting a project and the news show getting viewers, is generally what comes first on TV.

So unless TV shows are willing to sacrifice a Tom Cruise appearance, don’t count him breaking his silence anytime soon.

It seems everyone involved is agreeing not to ask too many tough questions and ruin the fun.

SO? 
WHAT DO YOU THINK 
ABOUT ALL OF THIS?



Friday, July 31, 2015

THEY LIVE but sadly RODDY PIPER no longer does


WWE legend “Rowdy” Roddy Piper died after suffering a heart attack in his Hollywood home. He was 61.

  Born Roderick George Toombs, Piper joined the WWE in 1984 after getting his start with the NWA in the late 1970s.


 But to me, Roddy will always be the hero of John Carpenter's film, THEY LIVE

where aliens masquerade as humans, slowly taking over the world by rigging the culture against humanity.

Based on Ray Nelson’s short story, Eight O’Clock in the Morning, 

the movie is one of those rare subversive stories that forces viewers to question their world and their surroundings. 

Because, despite the fact that the movie is about ghoulish aliens, 

it communicates truths to the viewers that are only alluded to in mainstream movies.

 In fact, looking deeper into the storyline, one might realize that there’s probably more “science” than “fiction” in the story of They Live … 

especially when one has “truth-seeing sunglasses”.  

The headlines then and now eerily foreshadow the storyline of the movie, 

for sometimes it does seem as if society's leaders have an agenda aimed at destroying, not helping, humanity. 

What do you think?

MARK TWAIN'S KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL WRITING

"There are keys to success in writing.

I did not learn them early.

I did not learn them all at once.

They came to me like the passing of a kidney stone --

with time and with pain."

- Mark Twain

 

Roland has been going on about keys to writing success by that Dent and Heinlein.

But who's the beloved literary genius here? 


 Me, that's who!

So I am going to pass on a few of those keys. 


Not in any particular order -- just as they occur to me, much like I wrote my autobiography.


THE KEYS :

#1) Write without pay until someone pays you.

In other words, write because you love it, not for thoughts of wealth. Only a very few authors ever are able to leave their day job.

Do this and you will relax and write with confidence. The reader will sense this, and your novel will be more interesting to your reader.

Write only about what interests you. The reader will be infected with your enthusiasm and keep turning the pages.

 

#2) Don't say the old lady screamed.
 

Drag her out into the scene and have her caterwaul herself. Telling the reader that a grandmother was stabbed does not near involve him as showing her stabbed.

 

#3) Never say in writing what you couldn't comfortably say in conversation.

Be natural in your writing. It will add the feel of reality to your novel. Put an acorn of truth in each of your characters.

The lonely weariness of a single father will grab the heart of the reader. In the next chapter when he robs the bank, the reader will be on his side.

 

#4) Periods are not ugly --

so do not put them so far away from the start of your sentence. Make your sentences and paragraphs short. Do not make your writing blunt instruments of prose.

Rather, write with the ear, not the eye. 


 Make every sentence sound good.

And for that you need a well-trained sense of word-rhythm. Train your ear by reading your pages aloud as you finish them.

 

#5) The more you explain it, the more I do not understand it.
 

Be clear. Clear writing comes from clear thinking. Know logic. Know the subjects your characters do. Know the law if your hero is a lawyer.

Make sure each sentence could only mean what you wished to express.

And Lord Almighty, use short, direct words. Do not IMPLEMENT promises. KEEP them.

Remember that readers cannot know your mind. 


Do not forget to tell them exactly what they need to know to understand you. Speaking English to a Frenchman will not get you very far. I know. I tried.

 

#6) Write as if you were dying --

Indeed, write as if your readers were dying.

And in a way, both you and they are. You just do not know your exact shelf life.

They don't have time for all those long, dreary paragraphs about Aunt Edna's digestion. 


What tale could you spin to a dying person that would not enrage by its shallow triviality?

That thought will prune many needless ramblings on your part.

And please no adjectives to tell the reader how to feel. 


Instead of telling us the thing is "terrible," describe it so that we'll be terrified.

You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers "Please, will you do my job for me."

 

#7) Do not hoard.
 

Give each paragraph all the dynamite you possess. 

Do not save a "good bit" for later. 

If you do, the reader may become bored and wander off before your novel explodes.

Do not worry. More dynamite will occur to you -- if you give each scene all the wit and heart you have.

Those are seven keys to success in writing. There are more, of course.

But too many keys jangling inside your heads will make such a commotion 


that you won't be able to think straight, much less see where they apply to you and your novel.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

ONCE UPON A TIME



Once upon a time ...

     there was a  telegraph operator, Lester Dent, who worked the graveyard shift. One of his co-workers sold a story for $450

--which was a fortune at the time--

and Dent thought, "Hey, I could do that!"

Turned out he was right.

Dent eventually wrote over 159 novels over 16 years
 
--and that was just the Doc Savage novels! 
 
He celebrated his affluence by buying a yacht and sailing around the world.
 
He had a Master Formula to write a selling 6,000 word short story.
 
 "There is a formula, a master plot, for any 6000 word pulp story. 
 
It has worked on adventure, detective, western and war-air.
 
 It tells exactly where to put everything. It shows definitely just what must happen in each successive thousand words.
 
No yarn of mine written to the formula has yet failed to sell."
 
 Here’s how it starts:
 
1. A DIFFERENT MURDER METHOD FOR VILLAIN TO USE
2. A DIFFERENT THING FOR VILLAIN TO BE SEEKING
3. A DIFFERENT LOCALE
4. A MENACE WHICH IS TO HANG LIKE A CLOUD OVER HERO


FIRST 1500 WORDS
 
1–First line, or as near thereto as possible, introduce the hero and swat him with a fistful of trouble. Hint at a mystery, a menace or a problem to be solved–something the hero has to cope with.
 
2–The hero pitches in to cope with his fistful of trouble. (He tries to fathom the mystery, defeat the menace, or solve the problem.)
 
3–Introduce ALL the other characters as soon as possible. Bring them on in action.
 
4–Hero’s efforts land him in an actual physical conflict near the end of the first 1500 words.
 
5–Near the end of first 1500 words, there is a complete surprise twist in the plot development.

The rest of the MASTER PLOT can be found here:
 http://docsavage.org/2009/08/lester-dents-secret-master-plot/


Then, there are ROBERT HEINLEIN'S RULES FOR WRITING:

He said he sold every story he ever wrote so he might just have known what he was saying, right?

 1. You must write . 
 2. You must finish what you start. 
 3. You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.
 4. You must put it on the market
 5. You must keep it on the market until sold.

Many writers have problems with #3.  

But there are so many who write, re-write, and re-write until they wring the very life out of their prose.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WRITE A BESTSELLER THE JAMES PATTERSON WAY!


{Image courtesy of Susan Solie-Patterson}
 
How exactly you ask.
 
You give the germ of the novel to an aspiring author and let him or her run with it.
 
How does that work you ask. 
 
 He produces a treatment of 60 to 80 pages, establishing the plot and characters in detail, 
 
then hires a writer to turn it into a full-length book.
 
 He sees their work every couple of weeks, sending it back with notes to speed it up, make it more real etc, 
 
and the co-writer ends up with a decent billing (although not an equal share of the cash). 
 
When asked if he’s a kind editor, he says no writer has ever quit.
 
Now, is that a clever obscure answer or what?  
 
Next, Mr. Patterson should run for President. :-)
 
I couldn't take pride in a book I did that way, but if Mr. Patterson were told that, he would frown, "Roland who?"
 
His success surpasses J K Rowling's.
 
 He is unapologetic about this collaborative process, saying it’s completely normal in most other art forms.
 
 "I’ll sometimes get on a TV show to be asked a question, 
 
and they’ll be reading off a teleprompter from something they didn’t write. 
 
In my case I’ve always been a good storyteller. I’m very good at plot and characterization but there are better stylists.”
 
 He is keen to dispel any impression he is putting his feet up while his writing drones do all the hard work. 
 
He gets up at the crack of dawn every day, 
 
and his office at his home in Palm Beach, Florida, is stacked with manuscripts of novels in progress.

He’s an active philanthropist, paying for more than 200 scholarships in 20 universities 

designed to train teachers and other educators whom he hopes will end up working in deprived communities.

 He doesn’t have a charitable foundation

 – he just does it all himself – 

and says the universities can’t believe how fuss-free he makes it.

If James Patterson asked you 
to write a novel, 
based on a 60 page treatment, 
would you do it?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

LIVING BY YOUR WITS


When I was an English teacher, I taught an entire week each year from THE WALKING DRUM


Out of my own pocket, I bought 30 paperback copies of the book that stayed in class.  

The three branches of the public library got to buying extra copies of the book for my students who hungered to know what happened next.

It is set in 12th century Europe and the Middle East.  

The protagonist is Mathurin Kerbouchard of Brittany. 

 In the course of the story he travels from place to place, ultimately in search of his missing father. 

Along the way, he finds himself in the roles of slave, pirate, scholar, physician, merchant, alchemist and yet always a student.

 Kerbouchard is a romantic seeker of knowledge and fortune on a challenging journey, full of danger, excitement, adventure and revenge.

In fact, it is his learning that again and again saves him when a sword would have done little good.
 
Along his long journey the main character is thrust 

into the heart of the treacheries, passions, violence and dazzling wonders of a magnificent time.

The book is named for a merchant caravan's marching drum, first described in chapter 36: 

We often sang as we marched, and there was always the sound of the walking drum, a sound I shall hear all my life, so deeply is it embedded in the fibers of my being.

The book is a tribute to the value of life-long learning.

Why do I mention it now?


BECAUSE MULTIPLE STUDIES STRESS 
IT WILL BE LOVE OF LEARNING 
THAT WILL ENABLE PRESENT STUDENTS TO SURVIVE IN AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE

The half-life of a career is now about 10 years. It will decrease, within a decade, to five years. 

Advancing technologies will cause so much disruption to almost every industry that entire professions will disappear. 

Some experts, too entrenched in ivory towers, envision a jobless future 

where machines do the work and even driving will become a lost skill due to self-driving vehicles.

For a small rich elite, society may become that.

But for most of our citizens, our country may become a grim dark age 

of mostly have-not's where the jobless majority struggle to survive on hungry, hostile streets.

Only those who learn as much as they can in as many fields as they can will stand a chance to improvise a life that adapts to ever-changing conditions.

What do experts say are the most probable trends in computers?  Is it possible to train yourself for them?

Technology is now as important a skill as are reading, writing, and mathematics.  

Kids in Silicon Valley who can write code have an edge in starting technology companies. Still design and the soft sciences will gain increasing importance.

Yet, if another Carrington Event happened, 

and the United States found itself without any transformers, hence working electricity for months, 

do you know what the first things to do would be?

Could you generate your own electricity with a small windmill, or do it by attaching a bicycle to a generator?

How about astronomy?  Could you tell direction just by the stars?

Could you take suspect water and make it into something drinkable?

Can you make a fire without matches?

Do you know the basics of first aid?

Do you know the basic requirements for the human body?  How long can a human go without food, without water?

Do you know simple mechanics, the workings of simple levers and pulleys?

What about the basics of electricity, of ham radios, of mob psychology?

An interesting book is 


SEAL Survival Guide: A Navy SEAL's Secrets to Surviving Any Disaster 

http://www.amazon.com/SEAL-Survival-Guide-Surviving-Disaster/dp/1451690290/


How often have you heard from recent news reports: “We never thought it would happen to us.” 

From random shootings to deadly wildfires to terrorist attacks, 

the reality is that modern life is unpredictable and dangerous. 

Don’t live in fear or rely on luck -- rely on your own educated mind and strength of will.

Just a thought for you to consider.  :-)

Monday, July 27, 2015

IT'S TOO LATE FOR ME


Really?


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

The ghost of MARK TWAIN on GO SET A WATCHMAN







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

THE BOUNDARIES OF YOUR MIND


“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?