So you can read my books

Friday, May 31, 2013


"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices."
- William James


"There is no expedient to which a man will go to avoid the real labor of thinking."
- Thomas Edison

     My blood center is initiating a system wide change, funneling thousands of extra blood units weekly to its headquarters WITHOUT giving us any written S.O.P.  They will give that to us MAYBE next week.

     Until then we will obey telephoned instructions and adapt them to prevailing problems. 

"What is the hardest task in the world? To think."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

     It got me to thinking: is thinking a lost art?  
     I love to read. But I’m convinced that the greatest value in reading is not the information, but rather what we think about while we read (that’s why what we choose to read is so important).

     Reading without reflection is like eating without digestion.

     Mental clarity is power. And clarity comes from thinking.

     We need to think, and think carefully about the choices and direction of our lives. The most precious resource we have is our time. Our lives are the sum total of what we do with that time. Isn’t it worth spending more of it thinking?

     As technology has played a bigger role in our lives, our skills in critical thinking and analysis have declined, while our visual skills have improved.

     Reading for pleasure, which has declined among young people in recent decades, enhances thinking and engages the imagination in a way that visual media such as video games and television do not,

     Studies show that reading develops imagination, induction, reflection and critical thinking, as well as vocabulary.

     Reading for pleasure is the key to developing these skills.

     Students today have more visual literacy and less print literacy.

     Many students do not read for pleasure and have not for decades.
     A university study found that college students who watched "CNN Headline News" with just the news anchor on screen and without the "news crawl" across the bottom of the screen

     remembered significantly more facts from the televised broadcast than those who watched it
with the distraction of the crawling text and with additional stock market and weather information on the screen.

     Are all the modern devices and digital conveniences we have at our disposal —

       from the web and social media to smartphones and tablets

       making us more distracted and less able to concentrate?

And is this harming our ability to think and be creative, and therefore by extension harming society as a whole? 

Sociologist Dr. Sherry Turkle:

“We are lonely but fearful of intimacy. Digital connections offer the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.

We expect more from technology and less from each other.”

Turkle has written about how the internet doesn’t help form real relationships, but fosters a kind of fake intimacy.

Nicholas Carr argues in his book The Shallows that the internet and social media are making us less intelligent — and less interesting — and are actually changing our brains in negative ways.

It goes without saying that digital media have also altered our fundamental notions of and respect for privacy.

Young people now routinely post and share private, personal information and opinions on social media platforms

without fully considering the potential consequences.

(Photo: Handout via AP)

BANGOR, Maine (AP)

A man indicted for the murder of a teenage girl used a fake Facebook account to lure her from her home so that he could stage her kidnapping and rescue and appear to be a hero, according to a state police affidavit.

What do you think? 

Is critical thinking on the decline? 

Are our digital media hurting our ability to think and to interact with each other in person? 

Is there anything we can do about it if so?

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Milo James Fowler
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Rapiers gleamed death in the mists of Meilori's.  Basil Rathbone laughed lustily as he bounded upon a table but feet from me. 
 Errol Flynn leapt on the adjoining table, his blade darting for a low-line thrust.

Rathbone  flicked it aside easily.  “Oh, non, mi Capitan!  I am not playing Lavasseur or you Peter Blood tonight!  And I was ever the better swordsman!”

“Says you!” laughed Flynn easily and bounded upon the same table as Rathbone.

As their rasping swords slid down to each other hilts, their gritted teeth in the face of the other, their table jostled mine.

and glared at them. 
“Guys, I’m trying to read my new mystery here!”

There was an apricot-scented cloud of mist suddenly between the two of them, and then my ghoul friend,
Alice Wentworth pushed them apart. 
“You heard what Victor said!  Go!  Shoo!  Be adolescent boys elsewhere.”

The spinning chandelier struck fire from her very sharp teeth.  They left.  But Flynn managed to kiss Alice’s hand before he did.

Alice blushed, disappeared, and formed in the chair next to me.  “A new mystery?  Is it any good?”

I smiled wide. 
“Oh, I’ve just started, but Milo James Fowler

wrote it, and he always writes great.”

Alice said, “What is it about?”

I said, “A detective with a price on his head. An invisible criminal with nothing to lose....”

“Oh, bother,” sighed Alice, rolling her neon-blue eyes.  “That tells me nothing!  Here let me see!”

She snatched the book and read the back cover aloud in her sexy British accent (at least it sounds sexy to me):

The vault door never opened. The bank went into lockdown in less than a minute. Yet the security footage was unmistakable: a hundred silver bars had simply vanished.

Ever since the city’s most dangerous crime boss put a price on his head, private investigator Charlie Madison has lived as an exile in Little Tokyo.

But now an old friend and police sergeant has lured Madison back into the city to hunt down an invisible criminal—if he can.

As Madison makes his clandestine return, high-profile people start disappearing. And when federal agents swoop onto the scene to take matters into their own hands, they offer Madison a deal he can't refuse—as long as he agrees to work with them.

With Japanese freedom fighters and refurbished killing machines threatening to take the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust, the United World government needs all the help it can get.

Embroiled in an unimaginable mystery, one private eye must rely on his wits to solve a case where the evidence is immaterial, and the odds are stacked high against him at every turn.”

Alice turned to me.  “Sounds like the exact kind of entanglement you always seem to fall into, Victor.”

I winked at her.  “But I have an edge.”

She cocked a blonde eyebrow.  “Oh, really?”

“Sure.  Half of my enemies are distracted by your beauty.”

Her eyes narrowed.  “What do you mean half?”

Jeez.  I got into trouble even when I complimented Alice.


Remember MySpace? How about Google Plus? Squidoo?

They’re still around, but try to find someone who uses them heavily.

Author Alexandra Sokoloff makes the following observations:

The truth is, writers don’t seem to have enough time to blog any more.

It feels like diminishing returns, when there’s a fast and easy alternative conversation on Facebook.

The technology has changed. The conversation has moved. 

We’re having to reinvent.

Remember chat rooms and bulletin boards?

Ms. Sokoloff points out that Facebook made them largely redundant.

But when everyone is screaming, LISTEN TO ME!

is there any point in speaking?

Blogging itself isn't dying, but the number of committed bloggers is dwindling.

THE NEW YORK TIMES is removing many of their listed blogs. Oh, but those are political or news blogs you say.  And you are right.

Writer's blogs are different ... yet the same. 

In the end, all three kinds of blogs are trying to "sell" the
reader something:

A view point ... one side of an argument ... or an author's book.

The brutal truth is:




Author Sean McLachlan

calls it reaching beyond the Indie Authors Echo Chamber to speaking to reach the world at large.

I learned an important lesson from a non-author but avid reader fellow employee:

She skipped my writing lesson posts. 

As a non-author she was not interested. 

But as a reader,

she was absorbed by my ghost writers teasing me or writing on little known facts of famous authors or

my snippets of evocative poets who spoke to her heart but of whom she had never heard.

She emailed the link to my Memorial Day post (not for the writing lesson at the end but for the first half of the post.) 

She did the same for my Mother's Day post.

If we want to reach the world at large, we must speak to the world at large.  

Non-authors using Google Search will have a chance to see our blog pop up when they search for a topic that appeals to them.

Having our books listed in the sidebar will then point them to our work if they like our prose.

What do you think are good ways to reach beyond the world of authors reading authors?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013



1.) Elmore Leonard:

Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Think of what you skip reading a novel:

thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them.

B. Avoid prologues:

they can be ­annoying,

especially a prologue ­following an introduction that comes after a foreword.

C. My most important rule is one that sums up my feelings: if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

2.) Neil Gamain:

A. Finish what you're writing.

Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

B. Put it aside.

 Read it pretending you've never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.

C. Remember:

when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right.

When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

3.) Roddy Doyle:

A. Do not place a photograph of your ­favorite author on your desk,

especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.

B. Regard every new page as a small triumph.

C. Do spend a few minutes a day working on the cover biog –

"He divides his time between Kabul and Tierra del Fuego."

But then get back to work.

4.) Margaret Atwood:

A.) Hold the reader's attention.

(This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.)
But you don't know who the reader is, so it's like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates X will bore the pants off Z.

B.) There's no free lunch.

Writing is work. It's also gambling.

You don't get a pension plan.

Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you're on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don't whine.

C.) Don't sit down in the middle of the woods.

If you're lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road.

And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.

5.) Ernest Hemingway:

A. Finish the day's writing when you still want to continue.

B. Listen to what you have written.

A dud rhythm in a passage of dialogue may show that you don't yet understand the characters well enough to write in their voices.

C. Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite some more.

If it still doesn't work, throw it away.

It's a nice feeling, and you don't want to be cluttered with the corpses of poems and stories which have everything in them except the life they need.


Thanks so much to Alex, Stephen, Dianne and Michael for hosting the blog hop! Check out the whole list of participants here!

I'm supposed to give an easy tip to help you get healthy.

Whoa!  Hey, Mark, what are you doing?
Ghost of Mark Twain here
to rescue your health with the plea:
I can quit any of my nineteen injurious habits at any time, and without discomfort or inconvenience.
Once I tried my scheme in a large medical way
I had been confined to my bed several days with lumbago.
My case refused to improve. Finally the doctor said:
"My remedies have no fair chance. Consider what they have to fight, besides the lumbago.
You smoke extravagantly, don't you?"
"You take coffee immoderately?"
"And some tea?"
'' You eat all kinds of things that are dissatisfied with each other's company?"
"You drink two hot Scotches every night?"
"Very well, there you see what I have to contend against.
We can't make progress the way the matter stands. You must make a reduction in these things;
you must cut down your consumption of them considerably for some days."
"I can't, doctor."
"Why can't you?"
''I lack the will-power. I can cut them off entirely, but I can't merely moderate them."
He said that that would answer, and said he would come around in twenty-four hours
and begin work again. He was taken ill himself and could not come;
I did not need him.
I cut off all those things for two days and nights;
in fact, I cut off all kinds of food, too, and all drinks except water,
and at the end of the forty-eight hours the lumbago was discouraged and left me.
I was a well man; so I gave thanks and took to those delicacies again.
It seemed a valuable medical course, and I once recommended it to a poor ill lady.
 She had run down and down and down,
and had at last reached a point where medicines no longer had any helpful effect upon her.
I said I knew I could put her upon her feet in a week.
It brightened her up, it filled her with hope,
and she said she would do everything I told her to do.
So I said she must stop swearing and drinking and smoking and eating for four days,
and then she would be all right again.
And it would have happened just so, I know it;
but she said she could not stop swearing and smoking and drinking,
because she had never done those things.
So there it was.
She had neglected her habits, and hadn't any.
Now that they would have come good, there were none in stock.
She had nothing to fall back on.
She was a sinking vessel, with no freight in her to throw overboard and lighten ship withal.
Why, even one or two little bad habits could have saved her, but she was just a moral pauper.
 When she could have acquired them she was dissuaded by her parents,
who were ignorant people though reared in the best society,
and it was too late to begin now.
It seemed such a pity; but there was no help for it.
These things ought to be attended to while a person is young;
otherwise, when age and disease come, there is nothing effectual to fight them with.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


{Soon to come to Audio!}

T.S. Eliot wrote that

happiness did not consist of goals obtained or griefs lost but consisted of  different visions discovered.

{All the following illustrations are in END OF DAYS and are by Leonora Roy}


What draws us to write? It is a solitary sojourn. Most of us will never receive world acclaim ...

nor do we expect it. What then propels us on this journey?

What swept you up when you first started to read for yourself?

How often do you find a book which conjures that same spirit within you now? Not often I would wager.

I believe we write to create that world which spellbound us into reading in the first place. What voices called out to us then?

For me the voices were:

Magic, Horror, and Otherworld Beauty.

These three sirens dominated my solitary reading of choice during my high school years.

And their voices can be heard in the background of all that I write. Like the three fates, they weave the tapestry of my unconscious muse.

As a young child, I wandered alone into Edith Hamilton's MYTHOLOGY.

In junior high, I joined the League of Five and group reading with BEAU GESTE and DR. FU MANCHU.

In high school, I was alone again in my reading, open to any influence that caught my fancy.

The authors of those years were my unknowing mentors in how to write well. Oddly enough it was an artist who led me in the land where they all dwelt :

Frank Frazetta.

And he painted the first road sign on my path to becoming a writer:



When I spotted the cover to EERIE#23 with Frazetta's "Egyptian Princess" in a used book store, I was spellbound.

Yes, she was clothing-challenged. But it were her eyes that ensnared me.

From that moment on, I noticed eyes : weary ones , dull ones, evaluating ones, and those who were black windows into the nothingness that lived in the souls of those who possessed them. 

The books with Frazetta's covers taught me my 2nd lesson: 



UNDER THE PYRAMIDS by H.P. Lovecraft (with Harry Houdini)

My hands went into warp speed when I saw the Frazetta cover emblazoned with that title. Frazetta. Harry Houdini. Wow.

I didn't know this Lovecraft fellow, but I had to see what kind of supernatural trouble Houdini had gotten into in his Egyptian travels. And I wasn't disappointed:

The first sentence:

"Mystery attracts mystery."

I was hooked.

Then, came the terrible imprisonment within an ancient, dark pyramid. The clever escape and the final glimpse of horror.

From Frazetta, Burroughs, Howard, and Lovecraft ... I learned how history can be made alive and alluring ... and supernatural. It is a lesson that stays with me still.


Perched in the used bookstore shelf right next to a Frazetta cover of a Conan novel was the book that was to teach me that prose could be beautiful and evocative without being stale and stiff.

I picked up LORD OF LIGHT and read the first paragraph: Mystery. Evocative imagry. I was hooked.

I became his student -- through his books, his essays, and his poetry. Some of his words :

"No word matters. But man forgets reality and remembers words."

"For you see, the headwaters of Shit Creek are a cruel and treacherous expanse."

"Occasionally as an author, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing,

a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant -

you just don't know which.

You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you'd mapped out for yourself.

Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the firstplace.

Trust your demon."

What were the voices that beckoned you to write?