So you can read my books

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Mary Pickford, 1916

"This thing called failure is not the falling down but the staying down."
- Mary Pickford (Gladys Marie Smith)

This Outlaw Trail leads me into a personal past:

On this date in 1892, Mary Pickford, the Canadian silent film actress was born. 

One magic afternoon, she was very kind to my mother, fresh from the orphanage at a time,

when Ms. Picford's husband was very harsh with the actress.

To be physically struck by your husband in defense of an unknown young girl and to respond as a calm lady, making the blow seem a badge of honor ...

Mother never forgot.  A lesson in how to live a beautiful life born from an ugliness.

Mary Pickford in 1916

Mary Pickford's lesson to we struggling writers:

On April 19, 1909, the Biograph Company director D. W. Griffith screen-tested her.  Pickford said of her success at Biograph:

"I played scrubwomen and secretaries and women of all nationalities...

I decided that if I could get into as many pictures as possible, I'd become known, and there would be a demand for my work."

 Pickford appeared in 51 films in 1909 – almost one a week.

 She also introduced her friend Florence La Badie to D. W. Griffith, which launched La Badie's successful film acting career.

Mary's lesson?

Write as much as you can in as many genres and forms as you can ... and always help out friends along the way.

I wrote of ugliness earlier.  And there is nothing quite as ugly as war:

The Battle of Shiloh ended in 1862 on this date.

  This was a major battle in the Civil War, and though it looked promising for the Confederates in the beginning, they were eventually routed by the Union troops.

The battle was extremely costly for both sides, and was one of the first indicators that the war wasn't going to end any time soon.

F stands for my ghost friend, FAULKNER:

On this day in 1932 William Faulkner reluctantly arrived in Hollywood to begin work as a screenwriter, a labor that would last, on and off, for twenty years.

Faulkner was thirty-four years old at the time, and had already published four of his Yoknapatawpha County novels

(including The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying).

“The past is never dead. It's not even past.” William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun.

Talking about the outlaw trail and crime --

On this day in 1977, the pulp-noir writer Jim Thompson died.

 "Just you wait," Thompson told his wife shortly before his death, "I'll become famous after I'm dead about ten years."

 Thirteen years later, The Grifters received four Oscar nominations,

and then a handful of other books were turned into films, and today nearly all of Thompson's books are back in print.

Who says friction is all bad?

1827 on this day --

The first friction matches were sold. 

The matches known as "friction lights" were sold by a chemist, John Walker, who had invented them the previous year.

He had discovered the formula for making friction-ignitable matches accidentally when mixing chemicals.

No accident this:

John Wayne won his first and only Oscar on this date in 1970.

  Although Wayne was a major Hollywood star for decades, he only won one Oscar — Best Actor for his role in True Grit.


  1. How amazing for any author to see his book as a script for a movie. Mary Pickford is such a classic, nice to know she was a nice actor, too.

    So much sadness, when we look back.

  2. I read once that when Faulkner was working as a screenwriter in Hollywood, he asked his studio bosses if he could work at home, and they said sure. A couple of weeks later they tried to contact him, thinking he was just a couple miles away. Then by "home" Faulkner had meant Mississippi.

    Oh, and when he won the Nobel Price for literature, his novels were about to go out of print.

  3. I read once that when Faulkner was working as a screenwriter in Hollywood, he asked his studio bosses if he could work at home, and they said sure. A couple of weeks later they tried to contact him, thinking he was just a couple miles away. Then by "home" Faulkner had meant Mississippi.

    Oh, and when he won the Nobel Price for literature, his novels were about to go out of print.

  4. How lovely to hear that Mary Pickford was as elegantly behaved as her appearance.
    Faulkener was a gem, and I still reread at least one of his novels most years.
    F stands for another fine post.

  5. Hi Roland .. Mary Pickford was an amazing woman wasn't she and you've just added, as have the commenters, to my knowledge ...

    William Faulkner I've heard of .. but haven't read any of his works ..

    Cheers Hilary

  6. Almost one film a week - that is amazing!!

  7. I learned a bunch of things from your post today. Thanks Roland!

  8. Great post, Faulkner is one of those mythical writers who's lore is only eclipsed by his genius. I really love that I found another dark blog to follow!

  9. It's amazing how audio and color changed the landscape for actors. Some were out of a job because their voice wasn't "appealing" in some cases. I have seen a Mary Pickford film, though. :)

  10. D.G.:
    To see your work as a movie is a two-edged sword. Roger Zelazny was in the opening night crowd for his DAMNATION ALLEY and when the flesh-eating cockroaches showed up, he quietly left, hoping no one would recognize him!

    As David mentions further on: audio ended Mary's career -- and that of her husband, Douglas Fairbanks -- which led to his affair which ended Mary's marriage.

    Her mother died at the same time, and Mary became an alcoholic as her father had become. She withdrew from the world to become a recluse, talking to others only from her bedroom.

    Yes, sad, indeed.

    Yes, genius is often forgotten is it is ever noticed! Faulkner truly loved his Mississippi. :-)

    Elephant's Child:
    Yes, she was a lovely lady even as a recluse. According to the step-son, Douglas Fairbanks was haunted all his days by his destroying of his marriage to such a lady.

    Mary was indeed a lady even in his bruised days. The world is so large and vast that one never gets to the end of learning. :-)

    Faulkner's last book, THE REIVERS, is a modern HUCK FINN.

    Yes, nearly one a week! They really churned them out at the beginning of film!

    Your posts are the truly informative ones!

    Faulkner's ghost tips his whiskey glass in salute to you for your kind words. Do come back. Your MEGAPODS is distinctive and fun.

    Yes, my HER BONES ARE IN THE BADLANDS is about the transition between silent and talking films ... and about filming on location in the West (and maybe not opening doors to the unknown!) :-)

  11. Fascinating Faulkner facts! I read the descriptions of some of your books - will be looking them up on Amazon.

  12. Carolyn:
    Thanks so much for looking up my books on Amazon. I try to make them affordable -- and if you buy one, you usually can get the audiobook of it for only $1.99. Thanks again!!

  13. I've vowed to re-read Faulkner [again], but as yet I have not done the deed. I should know better. Failing is not failure. Not trying is failure. I must try.

    Great post, Roland.

    VR Barkowski

  14. Writing as much as we can and publishing our work wherever we can, even if it's online or with small presses, will certainly help us get our name and work out there. The more we publish the better, and the greater chance we have of growing bigger.

    And, wow! I can't believe your mom saw Mary Pickford's husband strike her.

    I haven't read any Faulkner. I guess I'll have to change that. :)

  15. Cross genre writing, yup. The way to go. I love that, and no one has the power to keep you down but you. Great words, Roland.

  16. More classics Roland...Keep them coming!

  17. VR:
    Congratulations again on the book deal. There are only so many free minutes in each day so don't feel bad! Faulkner is worth the wait. :-)

    Mary stood in between her husband and my mother. She took the blow meant for mother. A brave, lovely lady. Keep our books out there is the path Mary would have us pursue!

    Cross genre is what my supernatural Westerns and jazz-influenced urban fantasy are all about!

    Thanks for the nice words.

    And your posts! Flesh-eating bacteria!!!@!! Yuck! But riveting stuff. :-)

  18. Thank you for sharing your personal story about Mary Pickford. That Pickford quote at the top is one of my all-time favorites.

    Everything about The Civil War just makes me sad. That includes The Battle of Shiloh.

    It's interesting that Thompson so accurately predicted his future success. Heck, three years off the mark is pretty darn good. Most people who died without achieving any "recognizable" fame from their work would tend to suspect that it would always be so... even though time has proven again and again that some will be plucked out of obscurity after death.

  19. Robin:
    Emily Dickinson has her sister to thank for plucking her name out of obscurity!

    There was nothing civil about the Civil War sadly.

    Yes, Mary's quote at the top is one of my all-time favorites, too!